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About Humans Are Not Broken, Latest in Paleo, Angelo Coppola

About Angelo Coppola

Who is Angelo Coppola? What is Paleo? Is Paleo About Emulating the Past? What is Latest in Paleo? What does Humans are not Broken mean? What have you learned since going Paleo? What do you eat? My Weightloss story?

Who is Angelo Coppola?

  • I’m your host here at Humans Are Not Broken.
  • I’m also the host of Latest in Paleo – since 2010, this has been a popular alternative health podcast. It’s the nutrient dense paleo podcast covering health news and insights informed by an ancestral perspective.
  • I’m a husband to Amy and I’m a father to four daughters with a range of ages spanning 16 years. My youngest, Lucy Namasté, was a preemie born nearly 3 months early — all signs point to perfect health today.
  • I love being in nature, interacting with animals, and getting my hands dirty in the soil. I also love to make things.
  • Professionally, I was in B2B marketing for 20 years; Vice President of Marketing for two software companies. I’ve left the field, however, and I am seeking a life that is more in alignment with my values today.
  • I am becoming what some would call a minimalist, believing that life is richer through subtraction of external things rather than accumulating them. But I probably still have too much junk.
  • My philosophy can be summed up in the phrase, Human beings are not broken, by default.
  • I was born in the Northeast (Massachusetts), lived most of my life in the Southwest (Arizona), and I have taken a leap of faith by moving to the Northwest (Washington) to start discovering how the rest of my life can be about giving.
  • I am a man who is a work in progress, and I like to share what I learn, think, and do. I am not committed to being consistent for the sake of consistency. Neither is evolution.

The  Coppola family.

What is Paleo?

  • To me, Paleo means Humans are not Broken (see below).
  • To the media and many others, Paleo is Loren Cordain’s trademarked The Paleo DietTM: lean meat, no dairy, no alcohol, no starch, etc. For what it’s worth, I think his diet is orders of magnitude superior to the Standard American Diet. It is not, however, the diet that I practice, nor is it the diet practiced by most people I know in the online Paleo community.
  • Robb Wolf is a leading thinker and advocate of Paleo, and this is what he says. Mark Sisson offers a Primal spin and Chris Kresser suggests moving to a Paleo Template. The Whole 9 offers practical implementation advice, which can be a great starting point.
  • Paul Jaminet says his Perfect Health Diet is more Paleo than The Paleo DietTM and many other implementations of Paleo. By this, he means that his diet more closely emulates what most people ate during the Paleolithic period. This is the diet that most closely resembles my own.
  • Many people who consider themselves to be Paleo eaters eventually start to eat a diet that resembles the diet advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation…usually, everything except for the grains and legumes with some variance on partaking in dairy.
  • When Paleo becomes a dogmatic system of do’s and don’ts, it is natural for people to push the limits of those rules. As such, many recipe websites and apps have come to feature calorie dense foods that are not particularly nutritious. These can include desserts, dips, snacks, and even entire meals…just about anything. While the foods themselves can be perfectly fine when eaten occasionally, and are fantastic to prepare for special events — they can also derail certain health goals like weightloss when eaten regularly. I wrote about this in an article called You Might be Getting Too Good at Paleo. I recommend Eating Dinners, Not Menus — deeply enjoying real food and not obsessing about the rules at the dinner table. Sometimes, I refer to Paleo as PaleoTM — this doesn’t refer to Cordain’s diet, but rather a form of Paleo that is blatantly commercial, uninformed, and that is designed to benefit the propagators rather than the readers / users.

Is Paleo about Emulating the Past?

  • A popular mantra in the Paleo community is: Paleo is not an historical reenactment, but rather it is a logical framework. I agree with this insofar as it rejects the dogmatism of “If Paleo man did it, I should do it.” However, epidemiological studies and research would tell us that cooked legumes are fine and healthful to eat, yet most Paleo eaters do not. So, this may tell us reenactment carries at least some weight with Paleo eaters and thinkers. The phytate argument may be incomplete. Many Paleo “approved” foods contain phytates and lectins. Also, traditionally preparing legumes has been shown to mitigate much of the concern.
  • I believe biomimicry (or nature mimicry, or reenactment) is a valid starting point for experimentation. See my post, On Paleo Reenanctment.
  • I suggest listening to Latest in Paleo Episode 76: The Yoga of Eating with Charles Eisenstein. In this episode, we discuss emulating the motivation of Paleolithic man, and not simply the content of their diets.

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”
— Matsuo Basho

What is Latest in Paleo?

Latest in Paleo is the podcast I created, produce, and host, and is distributed by the 5by5 Broadcasting Network. Here it is on iTunes. I think of it as being at the intersection of scientific evidence and evolutionary clues left to us by our ancestors.

Paleo is a unique approach to nutrition and fitness — and I think it’s fair to say Latest in Paleo is a unique approach to podcasting.

It’s here to help keep you:

  • entertained
  • fired up about your health
  • aware of the nutritional misinformation, lies, and manipulative advertising that is spread in the media
  • informed about the latest health news, along with some commentary from an admittedly biased, evolutionary perspective

I’m humbled by all of the kind things people have said about the show, like this:

About the same time I started doing Paleo, Angelo Coppola began producing his Latest in Paleo podcast. This well-made show examines current news stories regarding health, diet, and fitness. It’s one of my favorite podcasts, and I listen to it as soon as it shows up on my player.

– Mark Frauenfelder
Founder of BoingBoing and editor -in-chief of MAKE

The show has two formats. One, I call “news and views” and the other is an interview format. When people ask me where they should start, I usually say Episode 1. The show notes include a TON of reference links.

What does ‘Humans are not Broken’ mean?

  • Human beings are a natural part of the world, and like all animals, we can be nourished and lead fulfilling lives in our natural setting. We are not separate from nature.
  • We benefit greatly from providing ourselves with our basic human needs. These include (but are not limited to): nourishing food, sleep, sunshine and time in nature, physical activity, meaningful work, creative expression, time with our loved ones, freedom, etc.
  • Marketing and advertising is often designed to trick us into feeling inadequate, incomplete, incapable and unhappy until we buy PRODUCT X! Doing what’s right for profitability is not always the same as doing what is right for human beings.
  • We are the heirs of millions of years of evolutionary wisdom, which includes intuition that can guide us to make the right choices about food and lifestyle. Doing this effectively may require quite a lot of unlearning.
  • Our bodies and our minds are not enemies to be conquered.
  • Any system that starts with a premise of “fixing people” is dangerous.
  • It DOES NOT mean: People never get sick, are never handicapped, never have disease, nor can never benefit from using technology or modern medicine, etc. Quite the contrary, and it is at these times, arguably, that it is most important to remember that human beings are not broken — to make sure we have the basics covered before more extreme interventions are applied.

What are some of the main things you’ve learned since going Paleo?

  • The cure is not necessarily the cause. I.e. if aspirin makes your headache go away, it doesn’t mean your headache was caused by lack of aspirin. The same thing applies to carbohydrates, fish oil, sugar, and any number of other foods. Once health is regained, the cure may no longer be needed.
  • There is rarely one cause. Today, most of us lead extremely busy, domesticated, artificially stressful, artificially sanitized lives. We outsource nearly all aspects of our survival needs from food production to child rearing. We sit a lot — and perhaps worse still, we find ourselves doing meaningless tasks while we sit. We are conditioned to believe that the things we are passionate about are merely distractions. We are also conditioned to feel a constant sense of urgency and deadlines — ambient anxiety. Our health is further affected by abuse of all kinds, drugs, lack of real food, overeating, disease, distressed microbiomes, and so much more. Cutting carbs or eating more kale cannot address all of these things.
  • Optimal diets change with phases of health and aging. Just as children start with breast milk and move on to other foods like egg yolks and liver, and then eventually even more foods, I have come to believe that our food needs continue to change over time. Does a wise, old grandparent need the same food as a hunter, protector, and reproducing member of the group? Probably not.
  • We can be healthy without obsessing about health. Arguably, it is unhealthy to constantly think about health in everything that we do. The goal should be to integrate what we learn into our lives in such a way that we don’t have to constantly think about or worry about health choices.
  • The solution should not be part of a person’s ‘brand.‘ When Low-carb, low-fat, HIIT, no cardio, Zone, or even Paleo becomes part of a person’s very identity, he becomes closed to learning. When all you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like nails. Dangerously, the one-size-fits-all approach denies the near infinite variables associated with any given person at any given time. I have also found that people who are married to a given solution are fantastic at tearing apart information or studies that are in disagreement, and yet give a free pass to sloppy thinking that is in agreement. We must all be careful of this tendency.
  • The dose makes the poison, or learn your U-curve. When I exercise regularly, I feel much better in all areas of my life. When I exercise too little, I feel fatigued and less happy. When I’ve exercised too much in the past, I’ve felt fatigued and I have injured myself. Find your sweet-spot in everything.
  • The misses are as important as the hits…perhaps more important. Published drug studies, personal testimonials, even our own memories can be heavily biased toward the successes. In the case of drug trials, the misses are deliberately hidden (i.e. unpublished). So even when everything points to a certain conclusion, we have to ask: What are the potential unknowns?
  • Never confuse the certainty of the messenger with the validity of the message. Bertrand Russell once said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
  • Trusting and listening to ourselves is crucial. Are human beings equipped with the ability to sense (physically and mentally) what it is that they truly need? I believe the answer to this is yes. I also believe that this takes quite a bit of experimentation, open-mindedness, and unlearning of conventional wisdom (and some of it runs extremely deeply into the fabric of our consciousness). Some may call this woo, but life and the Universe is full of mystery.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead — his eyes are closed.
— Albert Einstein

What do you eat?

I believe people pass through phases of health and aging that demand different diets. Right now, as a healthy man of about 40 years old, I eat:

  • About a dozen eggs a week, usually cooked whole. Everyone on earth should know how to make these scrambled eggs. Placing a fried egg atop other foods is one of my favorite ways to eat eggs. I’ve started frying the egg whites to cook them all the way through and placing the raw yolk directly onto hot food. I find that the yolk only needs to be warmed up slightly to achieve maximum flavor and appeal.
  • Lots of colorful vegetables, mostly green. I’ve started focusing dinners on vegetable dishes, and adding meat and starch as side dishes to help ensure that I’m eating as much plant food as I want to be eating.
  • Soups made from boiling bones, meat, carrots, celery, greens, onions, garlic, etc.
  • Parboiled Rice and/or cooled and reheated potatoes daily — First of all, parboiled rice has a very low-glycemic index. I also nearly always accompany starches with acetic acid (various vinegars). Not only is the combination delicious, but it is also said to help with minimizing glycemic reactions to foods. But most importantly, parboiled rice and cooled/reheated potatoes are loaded with Resistant Starch that feeds the gut bacteria deep in the digestive system. Studies show many health benefits from adding resistant start / resistant fiber to the diet. Listen to Latest in Paleo Episode 97: Perfect Resistance for more information. Also, Richard Nikoley has written extensively about this. Green bananas and green plantains are also great sources of resistant starch.
  • Carrots daily (usually in a carrot salad with raisins, pineapple and homemade mayo from coconut and olive oils).
  • Homemade Kombucha daily, when I have it. Since moving to Washington by brew has been on hold, but I plan on starting it back up soon.
  • Liver (made with bacon and onions) a couple of times a week. Also, liver pâté, made with herbs, butter, red wine, olive oil, and sage.
  • Sardines a few times a week, and other fish a couple of times a week. Sometimes, I use the sardines to make quick sushi roll (Nori sheet, sardines, white rice, a splash of apple cider vinegar, mustard, and hot sauce).
  • Small portions of meat (beef, chicken, pork) a couple of times a week.
  • Legumes, occasionally. The phytate argument for avoiding legumes is not rock solid, especially when considering the epidemiological research and this study.
  • Lots of herbs and spices to make delicious dishes.
  • Beverages: one cup of coffee daily, yerba mate, black & green teas, herbal teas, homemade tea (boiled ginger & lemon), kombucha, red wine, carbonated water, water. I like drinking a variety of these beverages, traditionally thought to be helpful. Like anything, they can be good and bad and the poison is in the dose. While coffee is especially loved in the Paleo community, I don’t think it’s a good idea to drink it excessively. I think “Bulletproof Coffee” is overhyped, and while I wouldn’t drink it regularly, I don’t see anything terribly wrong with it, either. My personal preference is to get those calories from meals.
  • Occasionally, or on special occasions: dairy, alcohol, sugar, ice cream (salty caramel, dark chocolate and lemon gelato are my favorites!), honey, nuts, dark chocolate, Paleo desserts. I don’t consider these foods ‘cheats’ — they each have good qualities and are an occasional part of my nutrient rich diet.

It’s impossible to list everything I eat, but the above list provides a pretty good picture. I love to prepare these foods in Asian and Mediterranean methods. Here is our Paleo Pho recipe, for example.

Also:

  • I don’t like eating out much, but when I do:
    • Fast food: Carnitas bowl at Chipotle; or protein style (lettuce-wrapped) burgers at In’n Out
    • Restaurants: I love all ethnic foods…Indian, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Mediterranean, Ethiopian, Thai, and Vietnamese are among my favorites. I can usually find something to eat on any menu, as long as I accept that I probably won’t find a dish prepared with proper cooking oils. Since I eat out rarely, I don’t stress out about it when I do.
    • I avoid: big-chain restaurants.
  • I almost always skip breakfast and practice intermittent fasting. This comes naturally to me and is not a struggle. If I’m hungry in the morning, I eat. Sometimes, that means a cup of broth, some bacon and eggs, liver, or parboiled rice with an egg on top.
  • I almost never snack. I eat meals that are big enough to hold me over until the next meal or the next day. When I grab “seconds” it’s always carrot salad, potatoes, or vegetables — something that is relatively low-calorie and bulky. I think this is a huge part of staying lean for me. I don’t do this to stay lean, though. I truly feel better when I don’t snack, and so I rarely get snacking urges anymore, like I used to.
  • We most often cook with homemade tallow from grass-fed beef, lard / bacon grease, coconut oill, butter, and ghee. I eat olive oil directly on foods. I will also eat gently heated olive oil. For example, I will warm up olive oil, butter, garlic and basil on the stove, and then pour it directly over mashed potatoes or vegetables. I hesitate to add to much fat to foods, but am definitely not a low-fat eater.

A little backstory…

In August of 2009, I found myself in one of those moments that non-trivially changes the course of the rest of one’s life. I was at an all-time high: my 6-foot body weighed 245 lbs. And, I was also at an all-time low. Sure, I was able to navigate through everyday life, I had a wonderful family, and it was pretty easy to see my cup as half-full — but I was not treating my body well.

This phrase, “my body,” is a little strange, isn’t it? It implies that our bodies are something separate from ourselves. In some ways, perhaps this is true. But in matters of practicality, there is nothing that separates our bodies from who and what we are. Not taking care of our bodies is the same thing as not taking care of ourselves as human beings.

I was letting myself down, because I was unable to enjoy life properly.

“…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” — Socrates

Some of these photos are embarrassing, and I never imagined that I would post them in a public forum, but I’m doing so, because it’s the only way to convey where I started. This was my body composition. Whatever it was that I was doing — however it was that I was taking care of myself — this was the manifestation.

I realize I was not morbidly obese, but having been overweight and plain-old obese for nearly my entire life, it definitely took a toll on my physical and mental health.

before

What did I do about it?

When my body looked like the pictures above, you can bet a lot of things were out of whack. What I was eating, how much, how much sun I was getting, how much I was sleeping, what I was doing for fitness and so on. Based on my current knowledge, I can tell you that I was way off base. But, based on the conventional wisdom, I was just eating a bit too much and not exercising enough.

I attacked this problem with calorie restriction. I used an app on my phone to track calories, and I started walking a couple of miles every night. It worked really well! At first…

The weight did start to come off, but at the point where I was eating 1500 calories a day and not really paying attention to nutrient density…I was starving myself. I constantly thought about food. Even though I was healthier and I looked better, I found myself in a new kind of Hell.

I was doing things by the book and motivated by the end of the journey — a distant goal.

I was hungry all of the time, and I had just messed up my knee, too The walking had turned into running, and I was trying to do too much, too fast. It was all catching up with me.

Then, I heard a podcast featuring Mark Sisson (here, and I eventually interviewed Mark Sisson on Latest in Paleo). He talked about primal, evolutionary health. It sounded like he was leaning low-carb, which was actually a turn-off, because I had already given low-carb a whirl in the 90’s. I was also somewhat familiar with the Paleolithic Diet, because I had read Neanderthin by Ray Audette and Protein Power by the Drs. Eades, also in the 90’s — and that part really intrigued me.

The rest of the story…

First, the ‘After’ pictures:

Angelo Coppola Paleo Diet - After Pictures

At a time when I was very close to trying vegetarianism again (in order to start eating more bulk while maintaining calorie restriction and to kickstart my weight loss), Sisson’s message resonated with me and reignited by interest in an evolutionary approach to health. I was fired up.

I am happy to say that I switched to a Paleo & Weston A. Price approach to diet and that I have never been healthier, stronger, or happier. The best way for me to describe my current eating style would be to point you to Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet summary, here.

A Word to Potential Advertisers & Sponsors

In the past, I have turned down nearly all advertisers who have approached me, because I simply do not believe in their products or services. My work has been mostly listener- and reader-support (via my Amazon Affiliate Link).

You won’t see Google Adwords selling donuts on these pages.

My reputation with my audience means everything to me, and I won’t peddle junk. If you are selling an e-book for some ridiculously high price with a 75% commission or a toilet stool for 80 bucks…I’m not interested.

However, if  you create a high-quality product or service that you care about, and you’re also interested in sponsoring my work on Latest in Paleo and HumansAreNotBroken.com, I will happily take a look. Contact me.