How ’bout Those Recommendations?

*Note from Sarah:  Here’s Jason Seib with another compelling post.  Be sure to go find him on Facebook and listen in to our brand new podcast, Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness! 

How ’bout Those Recommendations?

Last weekend I was in Grants Pass, Oregon with Sarah for a seminar and I stumbled on some interesting information.  My wife, Sheryl, and I got into town a little early and decided to check the place out.  After eating a lot of meat for lunch as usual, she dragged me kicking and screaming into an antique shop.  After a while, I fought back my usual testosterone driven desire to make a break for it and I started rifling through the books scattered throughout the various nooks and crannies of the store.  When I had all but given up on finding anything of interest, I stumbled upon this little gem from 1941:

To my elation, it contained a nutrition section complete with dietary recommendations and the discrepancies between then and now are what I find intriguing.  Before we go on I need to make myself perfectly clear.  Everything that I am inferring here today is anecdotal and/or specualtive.  I am simply pointing out some interesting correlations, but I am offering scientific proof of nothing, so don’t use any of this stuff to try to win an argument with anybody.  I only want to get you thinking and questioning some of the things you may have accepted as truth.

Moving on, check out the section below that I found in my little treasure.

Now let’s make some comparisons.  Here is the current US Recommended Daily Intake (based on 2000 calories per day) for all three macronutrients:

Total Fat – 65 g.
Protein – 50 g.
Carbohydrate – 300 g.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (page 14), the highest daily calorie recommendation for anyone is 3200 calories per day for active males between 14 and 18 years of age, and the active female between 31 and 50 should consume 2200 calories.  When compared to our 1941 recommendations above, today’s total energy intake recommendations are clearly lower for everyone.  So, if we assume that my book accurately reflects the standard recommendations in 1941, carb recommendations are roughly the same, but protein, fat, and total calorie recommendations were higher in 1941 than they are today.  According to mainstream dietary nutrition advice, fat and excess calories are the culprits in our obesity epidemic.  Therefore, we should see some benefit to our modern recommendations, right?

Obesity data from 1941 is a little elusive, but I found the nice graph below on the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  If we assume similar obesity numbers in 1941 as in 1960 (although they were probably lower), it would seem that the recommendations from my new book weren’t really causing much trouble.  In fact it would appear that all the trouble started in the late 1970s when dietary fat was vilified.

Again, this is all just an observation and not to be confused with scientific evidence.  Paleo has already shown many of us that a lot of the things we have been taught were wrong, but if you are on the fence and still clinging to old unsubstantiated advice, you might consider taking a long hard look at the big picture.  Correlative stuff like this is pretty easy to find and it inevitably shows us that the dietary advice of the last 5 decades, give or take, has been seriously detrimental to our health.

As for my own recommendations for you, there are two options I hope you will try.  You can question everything, like I do, and end up at paleo anyway, or you can trust us and get your diet dialed in and see how you look/feel/perform.  Choosing either of these options will reward you in remarkable ways.

Go forth and be awesome.


  1. says

    I love this post! It’s so fascinating to look at past recommendations. Last month when I was back home visiting in Michigan, I was looking at my grandma’s old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the early 1950s. It contains tons of information, including dietary recommendations, which were similar to what you found in this book. Recommended fat sources were things like lard, cream and butter (granted hydrogenated fats were also recommended) and there were a lot of traditional recipes. I a generous amount of time sifting through this book and could’ve spent even more time doing so. Interesting and amusing stuff!

  2. Sally says

    Your new book finally arrived at my doorstep today!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! I thought your first one was great, but this one wins hands down!!! I am so excited to start trying all the recipes!! Thank you!!!

  3. Chrs says

    You’re probably right that the obsession with eliminating fat has done us little good, but do government guidelines really have much effect on the way people eat?

    Thanks for posting, it’s always nice to see another perspective on what’s “normal.”

  4. Wenchypoo says

    You should take a look at even OLDER cookbooks–I did just for the sugar info, and you’d be surprised what else you stumble across. One from the Civil War (online–Google Books) really caught my eye!

    I blogged about it:
    Sugar Consumption Through the Lens of Past Cookbooks:;postID=8173892744375807024

    Sugar Through the Lens of Past Cookbooks:;postID=7987416866685181803

  5. Wenchypoo says

    Here’s another tidbit I found on Google Books from Jennie June’s American Cookery 1866 (

    “Take care of the food that is brought into your house, and see that none of it is wasted; but do not always be on the lookout for cheap things. Beans and cornmeal are cheap, but people would not want to live on beans and cornmeal because they ARE cheap. Eating is intended as a means of enjoyment, as well as of sustaining of life; and it is right to avail ourselves of the abundant resources provided, as far as we can, consistently.”

    I’m currently on the lookout for anything older than that written in English.

  6. mark weeks says

    Thank you for the post, I never thought to look at old cook books. It is sad to see America deviating from the truth. By the way, my wife and I loved your seminar in Grants Pass, very well done.

  7. says

    “You can question everything, like I do, and end up at paleo anyway, or you can trust us and get your diet dialed in and see how you look/feel/perform.” LMAO!!! I’m gradually getting into line with a primal/paleo diet (to eventually include daily exercise, too – for now it’s just a 1/8 mile walk to and from kids school twice daily), but working against 2 small kids that are turning out to be picky eaters, and a meat/potato/ketchup loving diabetic husband. I had a recent dinner success with coconut curry chicken (hubby and I loved it, 1 of 2 kids cleaned their plate), and without even exercising, I have gone from a constantly exhausted obese grumpy state, to dropping 15 lbs being less grumpy and having more energy, JUST BY CHANGING MY DIET, AND NOT EVEN A 100% CHANGE (more like 80%+)! That’s evidence enough for me, thank you very much! 😉 Great post!

  8. Keri says

    Hi! I’m looking for a trainer in the Monterey CA area to help whoop me in shape. I tried a few community classes at my local Crossfit gym, but I’m unsure if they are the best option. Know any good trainers in my area?

  9. rachel says

    I wonder if anyone has any tips for me? I’m low weight , 31, short girl at 5 feet 2, but still lower…absolutely exhausted, my docs keep wanting me to take antidepressants but I’m worried about them,e ven though the one prescribed is mild i guess, but still, i’m not sure that i should. And yet, I am depressed and anxious and worse is that i feel utterly exhausted all the time (like my adrenals are burnt out and my docs just roll their eyes at me, i can’t sleep at night but exhausted all day, chronic pains and aches). I shouldn’t be so foggy headed, etc. I’m at a loss and can’t afford an alternative doc.
    I want to have energy again. I don’t have energy to do anything. I walk slowly and can’t run anymore. My digestive process and bowels are not great. I’m a mess :)
    i wish I could find someone like me that have some ideas for me…most I see are obese. Oh, and I’m not paleo, and I’m not a perfect eater (I go crazy at night too much), but stilll this has to be deeper than that. I don’t know. I’m reaching for straws on this one! email me if you have any tips or someone else to suggest to me!

    • Mika says

      Sounds like it could be a thyroid imbalance. Meds + gluten free diet work for the people I know with over-active thyroid (Graves disease, etc.). Have your docs check your thyroid levels (blood test) if they haven’t already.

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