(The following post is written by my son, Benjamin Valle)

Who was Ray Peat? And how does his philosophy align with or diverge from Paleo, Primal and Keto ways of eating? Today I would like to explore these questions in the first of what I envision as a short series where I outline how following Ray Peat principles helped me sort out some of my own health issues.

For years, the health and wellness sphere has been dominated by the Paleo Diet, Primal Blueprint, Ketogenic Diet and similar lifestyles.  Each one offers a vast range of health benefits, albeit at the cost of many of our modern creature comforts: junk food and other processed “foods” in particular.

Paleo Diet FoodsThe overarching philosophy in the Paleo and Primal spheres (and ancestral health in general) is that many aspects of the modern world are clearly deleterious to human well-being. As such, harkening back to a lifestyle from the past can prevent or even reverse these effects.

However, it is my opinion that the Paleo Diet does not have a monopoly on “alternative” health. At risk of sounding antagonistic to the Paleo community, I believe a more objective and coherent outline for overall wellness exists. But to be clear I’m not here to be antagonistic. I’m here to reconcile these two seemingly different lifestyles and show they contradict one another only slightly – if at all.

But first, some background is required.

Who is Ray Peat?

Ray PeatIn more recent years, a new alternative health trend has emerged online, affectionately called “Peating” by fans; it consists, generally, of following the health guidelines laid out by Dr. Raymond Peat over the course of his life’s work as an accredited microbiologist and alternative health guru.

Ray Peat (1936-2022) received a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Oregon, with specialization in physiology. He taught at: the University of Oregon, Urbana College, Montana State University, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Universidad Veracruzana, the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico, and Blake College. Ray Peat also conducted private nutritional counseling.

Peat’s writings on health and biology are extensive and range from basic dietary guidelines to hormone replacement supplementation and even the use of forgotten pharmaceuticals in order to achieve a more coherent state of health. Peat’s outline for health is relatively simple, but no clear “Ray Peat Diet” exists, and his guidelines are the opposite of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Below, I outline the basic principles given in Peat’s writings:

Ray Peat Basic Principles

  • Avoidance of Toxins and Stressors

    • ToxinsPeat’s definition of “toxins” is broad, and includes things such as Glyphosate-based fertilizers, gluten, heavy metals including excess iron, xenoestrogens like those found in plastics, and “Endotoxins” which are secreted by bacteria. Avoidance of these things is paramount to health from the Peat perspective.
    • Stressors: range from under-eating and excessive cardio exercise to things such as lack of sleep, and even exposure to radiation.
  • Avoidance of Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated Fat - Processed Seed Oils

    • Though Polyunsaturated fats are a toxin as well, they deserve their own category as throughout Ray’s years of writing their toxic effects on our physiology have been a heavy focus. Polyunsaturated fats, sometimes referred to as “Seed oils” or “PUFA” exert overwhelmingly negative effects on cellular physiology and metabolism, interfering with everything from the liver’s processing of toxins to mitochondrial respiration; and causing diseases ranging from diabetes to hypothyroidism and even many cancers. Examples of PUFA-loaded seed oils are: 
        • Vegetable oil
        • Canola oil
        • Corn oil
        • Soybean oil
        • Cottonseed oil
        • Peanut oil
        • Flaxseed oil
        • Margarine
      • Ray Peat Conclusion on Fats:
        • Peat’s position and large body of research on PUFA is clear: Avoid.
        • SATURATED fats like coconut oil, palm oil, and butter are not only permitted but encouraged by Peat.  This is because they exert none of the detrimental effects of PUFA and may even protect against stress.
  • Adequate Glucose Consumption

    • I know, I know. But hear me and Peat out on this one. Glucose is the primary fuel used by the cell. Cells are indeed capable of using fats for energy, but this is substantially less efficient than the oxidative respiration performed with glucose. Fats generally can be thought of as functioning as more of an “auxiliary” fuel source for when glucose is not available.
    • Many people assume glucose is only available for a short time after ingestion, but this is not true. “Glycogen” is a starch created by the body and stored in the muscles, brain and liver.  It is readily available for conversion into glucose as needed.
    • Much of the avoidance of PUFA in Peat’s literature is to prevent interference with the body’s metabolism of glucose into energy.
  • Optimizing Liver and Thyroid Function

    • As mentioned above, the ability of the body to store glucose as glycogen is heavily dependent on the liver. Poor liver health, such as conditions like fatty liver disease,
      prevent optimal storage of glucose. This has deleterious effects such as raising stress
      hormones like cortisol and adrenaline due to the body falsely believing that it is
      experiencing starvation. These stress hormones exert severe negative health effects if
      left unopposed.
    • The thyroid is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. All the toxins
      previously mentioned reduce the thyroid’s function and increase the body’s need for
      stress hormones to provide wakefulness. Peat believes most people eating the
      Standard American Diet are experiencing some form of mild hypothyroidism, even if

How Does the Ray Peat “Diet” Compare to Paleo and Keto?

Peating is, at first glance, somewhat at odds with the Paleo and Primal health ideology.

Obviously saying “sugar is good” is a tough sell in primal communities, especially where said communities overlap with Keto dieting. It is true that following a Ray Peat inspired lifestyle is totally incompatible with Keto. The Keto diet relies wholly on using fats for energy and its advocates preach total avoidance of sugar and extremely low carbohydrate levels (required to induce ketosis).

Keto advocates argue everyone eats sugary junk food now, and everyone is overweight and/or sick now, and so sugar makes people overweight and sick. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the only element in the human diet that has increased substantially in the last 50 years is polyunsaturated fats. Sugar and carbohydrates are nothing new.

It is my belief – and Peat’s – that most positive results from the Keto diet can be attributed to a coincidental avoidance of harmful toxins found in processed foods, and not its lack of carbohydrates. However, outside of Keto, the Peat and Primal lifestyles are wholly compatible. Both ways of eating largely encourage avoidance of the same harmful toxins and promote the same ideal of intaking only nutritious “whole” foods, with a slight emphasis on carbs from the side of Peat.

Ultimately, The main difference between the two is simple – philosophy:

The Paleo/Primal lifestyle is focused on holistic wellness based in part on what our ancestors ate. It seeks to achieve “metabolic flexibility” (also thought of as “stability”) through the consumption of whole, nutritious food and avoids the harmful toxins present in the Standard American Diet.

The Ray Peat lifestyle, on the other hand, relies on a philosophy of scientific optimization, wherein specific organs and bodily systems are targeted for improvement in function to the end result of one reaching their highest possible metabolic output, and reaping the associated rewards in overall well-being.

Criticism of Ray Peat

Ray Peat never created an official “protocol”. As a result, he is often taken out of context when his advice to an individual was assumed to be universal. One common criticism of Dr. Peat is his research is too focused on cells and not the whole organism. While this is true, (Peat was a microbiologist after all) his lifetime of research is more than sound and provides valuable insights into the specifics of why the Paleo and Primal lifestyles work, so long as adequate carbohydrates are provided.

Foods Included in the Ray Peat Diet

In a future post I will provide more details on specific foods often included in the Ray Peat Diet . I will also show where it aligns with and diverges from Paleo and Primal.  Finally, I will provide some practical applications and my personal experience.

In the meantime, you can check out this recipe my mom created that is in the Ray Peat vein. You can also read more about Ray Peat and his research and philosophy at raypeat.com


Dr. Ray Peat never laid out a comprehensive protocol that would be applicable to all. However, a health regimen has been cobbled together based on Peat’s email consultations, excerpts from his research articles and interviews. Dr. Peat believed avoiding toxins and stressors (especially PUFA), getting adequate glucose and optimizing thyroid and liver functions were critically important to health. Peat’s “diet” aligns fairly well with the Paleo/Primal ways of eating but diverges strongly from Keto.

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