Book Review: The Paleo Solution
Monday, November 11, 2013
This is one of the biggie's in the Paleo world. Robb Wolf was a student of Loren Cordain, who is the primary founder of modern paleo. He has the science/medical background to know his stuff, and he's got a very popular gym (Norcal Strength & Fitness), blog & podcast. One of the most recognizable names in Paleo.
Or to put it another way, my entry point into paleo had nothing to do with Robb Wolf whatsoever, and he still ended up being the easiest paleo book to get, the first one I've read through, etc., etc.. I also listen to his podcast. Actually I recommend the podcast as a good place to check to see if this is the book for you.
The book has a lot of good information. It gives a middle-of-the-road rundown of the science behind paleo eating - hormones and what they do, leaky gut syndrome, systemic inflammation, and so forth. Not meaning ho-hum, but rather how technical. I had no trouble following it, and would actually have liked more, but I have a strong background in biology and biochemistry - I ran a neuropharmacology lab for two years. I'm pretty good with this stuff. Someone whose a complete novice to this stuff might find some of it hard going, with a lot of new vocabulary being thrown at them. However, while I might not be a good judge, I don't think it should be too hard for most people.
After the technical information is the how-to-do-it section, with pretty straightforward recommendations for diet, exercise, supplements, and so forth. Nothing earth-shattering here, and a good place to start if you just want someone to tell you what to do. The only real disappointment is the "recipes", which as the scare quotes indicate barely deserve the word for the most part. If you don't cook at all, and just need ideas on how to slap edible food on the table, it's fine, and most of them probably taste fine, but nothing here is going to persuade a reluctant spouse you haven't gone off the deep end, for example.
The only other caution is tone. This is why I recommend listening to Robb's podcast a few times before deciding to read the book. Robb's tone in the book is very like how he speaks in the podcast. It's light, snarky, even a little insulting in places - like where he calls the reader "Buttercup" when admonishing them about wimping out. He also seems to have an allergy to calling women, women. Females, chicks, ladies - pretty much every other term will get used about ten times as often as he'll say "woman" - come on Robb, it's not that tough a word! He's trying to be funny, and depending on who you are, and what he's talking about he may come across as hilarious, or he may totally fall flat. I found the tone pretty tolerable, well worth putting up with to read the book, but I'm not exactly a fan.
One last note, and one of the things I really do like about Robb Wolf in general. He has changed his recommendations on fish oil supplementation levels since writing the book, so if you decide to follow his program, check with his website before deciding how much fish oil you should be taking. He's done this a number of times over the podcast - gotten new information and subsequently changed his recommendations. It's a rare trait in people who end up being "gurus" of some or another lifestyle and one I much appreciate. Too many people get locked in to a given stance and refuse to re-evaluate even in the face of major new information.