I’ve had a busy few weeks of travel this month, and I thought it was about time I sit down and write up some recaps for you! I went to Paleo f(x) for the first time this year, and I wanted to share what my experience was like for anyone who was curious. I’ll also be doing a Paleo f(x) recap on my podcast, but a lot of people asked me to write a blog post as well. I’m happy to do both! This post is going to be about Paleo f(x) itself, and I’ll do a post specifically about where I ate and my Austin food recommendations later on.
Paleo f(x) is always held in Austin, Texas, and it was my first time in Austin in general, besides the one time I got stuck there overnight after missing a connecting flight to New Orleans. That doesn’t count. I stayed in an adorable Airbnb studio apartment in the back of someone’s (very fancy) house, and it was walking distance from Palmer Events Center, which is where Paleo f(x) is held. The Airbnb was perfect because I had my own space, but it was also really close to everything I needed to get to. I was less than a 10-minute walk from the event center and only a 25-minute walk from Whole Foods – what more could a girl ask for? Austin in general is a beautiful city, and the weather was perfect.
The first thing I did when I got to Austin was visit Whole Foods, because their flagship store is famous. I raced there at 9:55 PM before it closed at 10 – you gotta do what you gotta do. It was definitely really nice inside, but I have to be honest – it wasn’t as big as I expected! I’ve been in quite a few Whole Foods that seemed just as big as, if not bigger, than the Austin location, and they were missing some of my favorite products (where was the Coyo?!). That being said, it was a very nice store, and I enjoyed exploring the aisles. A lot of the products were labeled paleo, the hot food bar had a ton of options cooked in olive oil rather than canola oil, and they had a bunch of mini “restaurants” inside the store. Any Whole Foods with a sushi bar is definitely a step up. They also had a killer seating area and a really nice rooftop upstairs! The Austin Whole Foods was brimming with Paleo f(x) attendees all weekend, so it was the spot to be if you wanted to run into people.
The next day was a full day to explore. I slept in after a late night the night before and then went for a long walk along Lady Bird Lake while knocking out a few podcasts. It was so beautiful and incredibly peaceful. If you’re looking for a nice walk and beautiful views, I definitely recommend going to Lady Bird Lake. After that, I grabbed lunch and then met up with Dana from Real Food with Dana and Kate from Nutrition with Kate. We got our Paleo f(x) passes early to avoid crowds the next day, walked around a bit and went to Whole Foods again, grabbed dinner, browsed through Book People (best bookstore ever), and then went back home after a long day. If you love books or need a fancy notebook, go to Book People.
The next day was when Paleo f(x) really started. There are basically two parts – the expo floor and the different stages where speakers give their talks. There were so many incredible speakers there, which is a double-edged sword when you have to pick between different talks happening at the same time! The schedule can feel overwhelming when you want to listen to everything, so I planned out what I wanted to listen to beforehand. I ended up spending most of my time by the Keynote stage, which was the main stage.
In my opinion, the panel discussions were the most interesting. When it came to individual speakers, most of the information they gave was the same information you’ve probably already heard from them if you follow their work. I certainly learned plenty of cool new nuggets of information, but I don’t want people to feel like they missed out on “all of the secrets” because they didn’t go to Paleo f(x). I know FOMO is real. It was amazing getting to listen to and see the speakers in real life, but you can definitely catch up on most of the information if you read the speakers’ books, browse their blogs, listen to their podcasts, and so on. That being said, I thought I’d highlight a few main points from some of the talks here!
First, I listened to Dr. Mercola talk all about biohacking. He spent quite a bit of time discussing the benefits of fasting, which is a hot topic right now, and he explained the different types of fasting, like intermittent fasting and extended fasting. He then moved on to how horrible cell phones are for our health, explaining that they are actually a class 1 toxin that cause extreme damage to our cells. He also said that putting your cell phone in airplane mode still causes oxidative stress and damages our cells, despite what many people think. If you’re familiar with Dr. Mercola, you know how serious he is about avoiding cell phone contact. He holds his phone away from his body with a selfie stick when he has to use it. He also talked a bit more about EMFs, advising everyone to get rid of their microwaves and to stop using Wifi by switching to wired phones and computers. In terms of sleep, EMFs can have a big effect on our melatonin production and ability to get deep sleep. He recommended unplugging everything at night, using a battery clock, taping your mouth shut (told you mouth taping is legit), and sleeping on your back. He finished up by discussing the benefits of utilizing infrared sauna for detoxification and taking molecular hydrogen tablets. I’ve been hearing a lot about molecular hydrogen tablets recently… very interesting.
Next up was Ben Greenfield on “24 Ways to Look Good Naked and Live a Healthy Life.” This presentation was bursting with information, and there’s no way I can cover it all here. He broke it up into 3 sections – how to optimize mind, body, and spirit. For the mind, the main takeaways were to balance the neurotransmitters in your brain, fix a “leaky brain” by protecting the blood-brain barrier, and eat to promote brain health (hint: nutrient-dense, whole foods, plenty of healthy fat). He recommended putting L-theanine in your coffee, utilizing cold therapy, working on deep belly breathing, and eating organ meats to start. Ben also talked about making sure to get deep sleep and to avoid blue light right before bed. He discussed the benefits of adding red light, which you can do with a good old-fashioned candle.
For the body, he talked about becoming a “fat-burning machine”, cleaning your gut out, controlling blood glucose, and amplifying your immunity. Hacks included utilizing massage therapy, training for mitochondrial density, consuming lemon, ginger, ACV, and cinnamon, and taking collagen.
Lastly, the spirit. The main points here were to focus on a daily gratitude practice, heal through sound, have good sex, create a routine, and find your purpose. There was a lot of info jam-packed into this session – he had to race through all of his slides to even get close to finishing.
Later on I listened to JJ Virgin talk about reducing sugar intake in our diets. She explained how some people are genetically wired to want more sweet foods, and when that is coupled with stress, it can be a dangerous combination for overall health. She gave a lot of great tips for reducing sugar in the diet, including tapering off the amount of sugar you consume instead of just going from 100 to 0 overnight. I think that for most people, that’s definitely a good idea to make it more manageable. She had a full slide all about her top success tips with reducing sugar consumption, which included the following: get started (just START!), pay for it (you’re more likely to actually do it if you had to pay for something), start with your why (remember why you’re doing this!), community (having group support really helps), get a coach or mentor (helps if you pay for someone to hold you accountable and offer advice), small shifts (tapering off), finding an accountability partner, and keeping a journal.
One of my favorite panels was called the “State of the Paleo Union” and featured Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, Sarah Ballantyne, JJ Virgin, and Dr. Mercola. Quite a panel, if you ask me. They covered a ton of different topics related to paleo, and I loved getting everyone’s different perspective. One thing they touched on was the fact that we really need plenty of health coaches right now to help out with the health crisis going on in America. This is one reason why I’m very proud to be a health coach and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner — we need to build an army of qualified practitioners who can help make the change! There aren’t enough FMDs to be able to help everyone, and FMDs are also pretty expensive. They talked a lot about how most doctors don’t spend more than five minutes really focusing on their patients, and even the doctors who do spend more time still don’t have enough time in the day to be able to work individually with every person who needs them. The more people we have who can act as extensions of doctors, the better. This also led into the discussion of a larger idea – the paleo community needs to stand together as a “united front” against all of the “What the Health” propaganda if we want to help people make healthy changes. Not everyone in the paleo space agrees about everything, but it’s important that we remember our common goal of wanting to help everyone improve their lives by focusing on nutrient-dense, healing foods and healthy lifestyle habits. If we ever want to stop the untrustworthy propaganda, we are going to need to remain a united front.
The next topic was about the future of paleo. This led to a discussion about sustainability and starting to look at different forms of protein that people might have previously written off. A lot of really nutritious sources of protein are foods that we’ve been conditioned to think of as “gross” – what about organ meats? What about crickets? Lots of options to think about besides just your typical grass-fed beef and broccoli, especially if we want to make sure that more and more people get access to healthy sources of protein.
They also talked about keto, of course, and how it has become conflated with paleo even though the two are not the same thing. Most of the panelists said they think keto can be great and helps improve many conditions, explaining how they use it in practice or in their own lives. When it came to keto, no one really said anything negative about it…until Dr. Ballantyne spoke her truth. Dr. Ballantyne was the only person who brought up the fact that ketogenic diets can cause a lot of issues that no one seems to be talking about. I was really grateful she brought this up, because I think the conversation around keto has been really one-sided recently. She talked about the fact that low fiber diets for 5-6 weeks were shown to cause irreversible loss of diversity in the gut, and that longterm ketogenic diets can have major impacts on immune health and inhibit metabolic flexibility. For more on this, I recommend listening to our Straight Up Paleo podcast episode with her.
When it comes to panel discussions, sometimes people don’t take any controversial stances because they don’t want to ruffle any feathers or turn it into a debate, but that’s not very interesting in my opinion. I always appreciate it when people actually say what they think and don’t just tone it down for the sake of keeping peace on the panel, especially when it comes to something so trendy like keto.
I’m not going to get into my full personal opinion on keto right here (this post is long enough), but you probably know it if you follow my blog and listen to my podcasts. In short, as someone who has a lot of personal experience with ketosis, I think that it can be amazing in certain situations, and the opposite in others. I don’t think it’s all good or all bad – it really depends on the person and the situation. It can be transformative for some people’s health, and for others detrimental. It’s also simply not necessary for everyone. I think that for most people, metabolic flexibility should be the goal. You don’t need to be in a state of ketosis to burn fat, which many people think is true.
I also just want to touch on the fact that Paleo f(x), and the paleo space in general, is still quite male-dominated, and I appreciated Dr. Ballantyne standing up there (or sitting, in that case), as a strong, intelligent woman, saying her piece and not being overshadowed by all of the strong male personalities in the room.
Anyways, I think that was my favorite talk overall. I went in and out of the next few because I was doing other things and also had already heard a lot of the other information they were giving. Dr. Ben Lynch had a really interesting talk on “Dirty Genes” (the name of his book), and how knowing our individual genetic information can help us figure out what diet and lifestyle changes we should make to support our overall health. I also loved listening to Chris Kresser talk – he is one of my favorite humans in general. I recommend you read his book, Unconventional Medicine, because it is truly phenomenal. I also recommend listening to all of the podcasts he’s been on (and his own) about this topic, especially this podcast episode on Balanced Bites.
He talked more about the issue of how we are going to make sure people get the proper healthcare they need, emphasizing the need for more properly trained health coaches in our system. It’s unrealistic for functional medicine doctors to have enough time to help everybody who needs to take a holistic approach to their health, and health coaches are the necessary link. The truth is that addressing most health issues all begins with the same steps – you need to address your diet and lifestyle. To make those changes, most people need one-on-one guidance and accountability, and that is where a high-quality health coach comes in. This means that people might start with a FMD, get a plan, and then move to a health coach to carry it out and check in, or someone can start with the health coach, do as much as they can together, and then move to the FMD if things are still not being resolved and you need deeper testing done. I’ve talked about this before, but now that integrative medicine is becoming more popular, people are basically just replacing their white coat syndrome in the western medical system with white coat syndrome in functional medicine. Many people don’t need to go straight to a functional medicine doctor to deal with their health issues – it’s like using a sledgehammer to kill an ant.
I also listened to an interesting talk with Menno Henselmans about human metabolism….a.k.a. weight loss. The first thing he said was, “You can get fat on a ketogenic diet,” which I cracked up at, because I know everyone assumes keto equals weight loss. Not at all. Anyways, he explained that the most important aspects of weight loss are incorporating strength training, high protein intake, and increasing fiber. He recommended not eating more than 40% fat, which I personally don’t think works for most people. Again, everyone is different, but I find that when carbs get higher, as they would need to be if you’re only eating 20-40% fat, it can stimulate appetite for many. He also said that you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, which is something always argued about in the health and fitness world. Some people asked him about keto at the end, and he said that he thinks ketogenic diets are easier for women and that women do better on lower carb, higher fat diets, and men do better with more carbs. I thought I heard him wrong at first, and now that I’m thinking about it I’m wondering if he meant in the context of weight loss rather than in general. Because in general for health, I would totally disagree.
The last talk I listened to was Dr. Sarah Ballantyne on gut health! There was a ton of great information in here. She went over the importance of taking care of our guts and how gut health is at the root of almost every major condition, explaining the link between gut health and our immune system. She also talked about different nutrients that are important for gut barrier health – Vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, butyrate, phytochemicals, different amino acids, and so on. She also talked a lot about the links between the HPA axis and leaky gut. In other words, stress is a huge factor in gut health. Our cortisol patterns affect the junctions of our gut lining, and we need to focus on all types of stressors in our lives if we really want to optimize gut health. To sum up, some of the major things to be aware of that feed gut dysbiosis are prolamins like gluten, agglutinins, alcohol, excess sugar and starch, high omega 6 intake, digestive enzyme inhibitors, and a high saturated fat intake. Some of the best things we can do to improve gut health include eating more fiber, getting enough vitamin 6, reducing our omega 6’s, eating probiotic foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising the right amount!
Expo Floor Finds
The other major part of Paleo f(x) is the exhibitor floor. There are a ton of paleo-friendly vendors, and I liked this much more than my experience at Expo West, to say the least. Paleo f(x) is bigger than the NTA Conference, but much smaller than Expo West. Practically a million times smaller, so it was really manageable, but there was still plenty to see. I had so much fun meeting the faces behind so many brands I love, and also discovering a few new brands that I now adore! For example, I finally got to meet Nicholas from Somnifix, Tony from Kasandrinos, Chris and Jen from One Stop Paleo Shop, Mark from RitzFit, Billy and Tina from Just Thrive, and Kim and Dan from Paleo on the Go (you can get $15 off with the code WELLNESS)! Plus, I got to reconnect with people I’ve already met in person before, like Daniel from Gold Nugget Ghee and Jason from Pili Nuts.
I also found a few really amazing new products. The first were Barukas! They look like nuts, but they are actually seeds. I’m truly obsessed with these. They taste like peanuts mixed with coffee mixed with cocoa mixed with some other nut… I really have no idea how to describe them. But they are DELICIOUS and wildly addicting. If you want to try them out, you can use the code “WELLNESS” on their website for 15% off! YOU WILL NOT REGRET TRYING THESE!
I also finally got to try some of the spices from The Spice Gal! I was really excited because this is one of the only organic brands I know of that has spice blends without garlic and onions, which I personally react to. I don’t avoid them completely, but I don’t usually cook with garlic and onions if I’m cooking just for myself unless it’s a special occasion, or if I really want to use a specific spice blend for some reason. All of the blends looked delicious, and they’re all organic! I left with a few that I was really excited about. Some of the blends that are garlic-free and onion-free include Momma’s Breakfast Sausage, Aussie Summer BBQ, Texas Smokey, Citrus Pepper, Apple Pie, and Pumpkin Pie Spice! The Momma’s Breakfast Sausage was to die for.
I also loved the new Paleo Valley Turkey Sticks and their organ complex, tried out The Dirt Cinnamon toothpaste, got some delicious Performance Nut Butter, stocked up on Pederson’s bacon (so good), and ate some delicious chicken-fat-based dips from Chik Pro.
There were also a ton of random things to do on the Expo Floor – people are literally doing CrossFit in the center. They also had a bunch of different booths with infrared sauna, JOOVV lights, elliptical-bike things (no idea what they’re called), and EMF meters. I was shocked because the man measuring EMFs told me that I was the first person he measured all weekend that had basically none in my body, which is a total shock considering my phone is glued to hand 98% of the time. I’m still trying to figure that one out. I also got a B12 shot outside, next to some camels… the things you find at Paleo FX.
The best part though, of course, was meeting up with friends. I already mentioned some of the faces behind brands that I love who are also friends, but in general it was really great meeting so many people I know from the Internet! Every time I got to meet a reader or podcast listener, my heart lit up a little bit brighter. There’s nothing that makes me happier than meeting you guys in real life! One of my podcast listeners, Bailey, ditched her college day at UT to come to Paleo f(x) — that is pretty badass. Besides hanging out with Dana (it’s still crazy to me that it was our first time meeting in person) and Kate, I also got to see Cristina from The Castaway Kitchen and, of course, my cohost Kara and her boyfriend Corey. I also met up with Sal, Adam, Justin, Doug, and Taylor from Mind Pump – they’re always getting into trouble. Sal is the one who convinced me to get the B12 shot, so I blame him for the fact that my butt was sore for the rest of the day.
Overall, I had a ton of fun at Paleo f(x), and it was definitely a trip to remember! Listening to the speakers was amazing because I always love to geek out over health and wellness information, but I also could do that with books or podcasts. The best part was the people, and finally being in a giant room where everyone is just as weird and motivated to change the health space as you are.
Paleo f(x) really re-inspired me and made me reflect a lot on my mission in this space. I want to do whatever I can to help people take control of their health through diet and lifestyle, and to help them understand how great they can truly feel. My most comprehensive resource to do just that is my Paleo Women Lifestyle Program, which is a course filled with video lectures, audio lectures, and PDFs from me outlining everything women need to know about nutrition and lifestyle if they want to optimize their health. I truly wish everyone could take this course because it has so much valuable information in it.
Because of that, I’ve decided to open up a self-study option for the program! With the self-study option, you’ll get access to the video lectures, audio lectures, and PDFs in the course at a reduced price, and you can get access to this at any time! You won’t be a part of the private Facebook group or have access to the live video coaching calls like the regular group program gets, but you can always upgrade the next time I run the group by just paying the difference in price. I hope that this option makes this crucial information more accessible to many more people – it’s time you stop googling and find some REAL answers when it comes to health. We cover nutrition, paleo, women’s health topics, the top health mistakes women make, cooking and grocery shopping hacks, stress management, exercise, sleep hacks, balancing hormones, and much more. To learn more or to sign up for the self-study option, you can head here.
I hope you enjoyed this recap! Don’t worry – Austin food recs are coming next!