A Q&A With Dr. Loren Cordain


Lindsey, a writer from the health publication Body and More recently conducted an interview with Dr. Cordain. 


Hi Loren,

Here are the questions I’ve come up with in regards to the Paleo diet for my piece.

1. From what I gather, you developed the Paleo diet yourself based. How did you come up with the key concept and why?

Dr. Cordain:  I didn’t develop this diet, rather together with scientists, anthropologists, and physicians worldwide we uncovered the pre-existing, native human diet to which our species is genetically adapted.  Theodosius Dobzhansky, the noted Russian geneticist said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except under the light of evolution”.  This quote could be slightly altered to, “Nothing in nutrition makes sense except under the light of evolution”.  Hence what I have done together with colleagues from around the world is to apply the evolutionary template to human nutrition.

2. How did you determine which foods were best to include and not include in the diet?

Dr. Cordain: We studied the diets of 229 hunter gatherer societies from around the globe and mimicked the food categories they consumed with common foods available in the supermarket.

3. What are the proven health benefits of the Paleo diet?

Dr. Cordain: Five human dietary studies have shown the Paleo Diet to improve health and disease symptoms to a greater degree than the Mediterranean diet or diet commonly prescribed to diabetic patients.   It is also more effective in causing weight loss than these diets and is more nutritionally dense (eg. More vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) than the USDA Food Pyramid (now called My Plate) diet.

4. How has the diet benefited you on a personal level?

Dr. Cordain: Pretty much in the same manner that it benefits virtually all people.  It is really not a diet per se, but rather a lifetime program of eating to maximize health and well being.  If you go to the various blogs and websites (including mine) you can read thousands of anecdotal success stories.

5. How many people use the Paleo diet (that you know of)? Has it grown in popularity in recent years?

Dr. Cordain: If you visit Google Trends http://www.google.com/trends/ and type in Paleo Diet, you can see the numbers for yourself.  Worldwide, there are hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of people who have adopted this liftetime program of eating.

6. Is there anyone who SHOULDN’T go on the Paleo diet?

Dr. Cordain: If you read my book, The Paleo Answer, I show how and why pregnant women and children should slightly lower their protein intake.

7. This diet forgoes whole grains, which are often said to be very beneficial to overall health. What are your thoughts on this?

Dr. Cordain: I have written a 50 page scientific paper called “Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double Edged Sword” which is available at my website: www.thepaleodiet.com as a free PDF download.   The  paper contains more than 300 references outlining the nutritional shortcomings of cereal grains, both whole and refined.  For starters, a significant portion of the U.S. population (~10-15 million people) either have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. Compared to fresh meat, seafood, fruits and veggies, whole grains are virtual lightweights when it comes to nutrient density (vitamins & minerals).  Whole grains are implicated in a variety of autoimmune diseases other than celiac disease, and when consumed excessively promote vitamin deficiency diseases, such as pellagra, beri beri, iron and zinc deficiencies.

8. Can a person on the Paleo diet expect to lose weight?

Dr. Cordain: If they are overweight (of which 2/3 of the entire US adult population is).

9. Anything else you think I’ve neglected asking that would be important for someone new to the diet to understand?

Dr. Cordain: If you want the easy shortcut to making this diet work, purchase The Paleo Diet Cookbook, available at my website: www.thepaleodiet.com.

Thanks so much for your time!


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3 Comments on "A Q&A With Dr. Loren Cordain"

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  1. In The Paleo answer, you refer on page 7 to a 2009 study by Dr. Lindeberg. This study is not listed in the book's references. Was it published? Where can I get a copy? And right to the point, can you provide some numbers to quantify the improvements seen in results? Thank you.

  2. CiCi Gurney says:

    Hi ! I have been eating in a Paleo fashion for 10 months and I love it. I just finished your terrific book (which I am going to recommend to everyone I know who wants to understand this way of eating) … I find that being presented with the technical reasons to avoid certain foods and embrace others, it makes it easy to adapt this way of thinking and eating… Just like it makes sense to not put sugar in your gas tank! I really took note of your information on the potato. When I started last March eating paleo, I totally avoided potatoes as a way to keep carbs lower, and since they were not grain, i thought they were ok to eat.. I did lose weight quickly without them ( as well as other health benefits)…but just chalked that up to my new way of eating… So, thinking they WERE ok,I added a little bit of potato here and there over the last 4 months and my weight maintained ( even though I have a lot more to lose), so I am going to take your advice and give them up to get the weight loss back on track! It was great to have the full explanation of what they really do in the body, thus, they will be easy for me to quit.

    I do have a question about using whey isolate protein powder… Is this ok to use in a morning protein drink or after I work out ? I use unsweetened coconut milk, water, blueberries and whey protein powder. Do you think using stabilized egg whites like body builders use from eggwhites international would be a better protein source in my shake ? Other than that. I also wondered about your feelings on coconut oil as that has been my choice to cook with when I do gently cook salmon, chicken, etc. oh, and thanks for the great tip to cut the char off of grilled steak ! I find myself occasionally presented with it at a restaurant. Terrific idea !

    This way of eating has made me make peace with my body and food. I am 53 years old and have always had a weight problem that I struggled with. As I said before, I still have more to lose, but I do not fear food now and enjoy nourishing myself and reaping such great results with no hunger and high energy and happiness ! I know I will reach my goal this year and will not gain it back.

    Thanks for the great book !


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