Recent Progressions

I thought I'd take an entry to talk

I've really been feeling good these last few days, and, I'm fully expecting my fat loss to begin kicking in, again. For my last photo update, I was 193 as I recall. It took another month or so to break the 190 barrier, and since then I've gotten as low as 183, and back as high as 186; currently 184ish.

As soon as I break 180, I'll get more photos done; people have been bugging me mightily for an update. There were these, just last month, from Mexico. And where does it end (or, begin)? My best current guess is about 165.

I've also been toying with the idea of some short videos of some of the exercises I do. There have been big changes there. For a long time I got into the "rut" of two sessions per week, pretty intense; but, then it seemed to get too routine, i.e., 3 sets and 10 reps in each. A few months back I incorporated a more cross fit type of workout with a rapid pace, new exercises, and so on.

Those who've followed along with my excursions into "extreme fasting" know that I've been doing nearly all my workouts fasted (12 hrs +; often 24-30), under the absurd notion that animals don't do pre and post workout "nutrition" when they go hunting for food. No; they hunt when hungry, and not always with success. We're highly adapted for it. Those adaptive genes lay dormant, and it's up to you to wake and express them. Don't be surprised if it makes you look years younger.

However, after about 15 months of working out fasted, I noticed I was getting to dread my workouts. I realized I was getting into the same rut I was in with the workouts themselves, and it was all adding up to chronic routine. So, I have modified my fasting intervals to end them at dinner the day before my workout. Then, if the workout is in the morning, it's an overnight fast -- and this has always been pleasant. If the workout is in the afternoon, then I eat in the morning. So, I'm still fasted, but far more mildly -- from 6-12 hours, nominally. It has made a tremendous difference, as I am now excited again to hit the gym. Also, I have changed the routine dramatically for the weight lifting day. I'm now mixing it up all over the place, with lots of new exercises. Most of all: Big Weight. Now, instead of doing 10 reps on the bench at 135 x 3 sets, I'll do 5 reps at 135, 2 at 185, 1-2 at 205, then go to 235 and have my trainer help lift it and I'll do negatives.

A new exercise I've incorporated, and it's probably my favorite ever is a bent over row using the big barbell. I warm up 3-5 reps with one 45-plate, then quickly go to 2, 3, and then 4 plates (180 pounds plus the bar). Then we slap on a 5th plate and the trainer helps lift it so I can do holds and negatives 2-3 times. It is simply the most amazing thing, because; number one, it's a very primal lifting move. Think of bending at the knees and waist and picking up something heavy. As a primal move, it's a very compound one. When I finish a set with heavy enough weight, I can feel it everywhere.

So, to make a long story short: I'm making progress, again. While it can be disappointing to go months with little progress in terms of additional fat loss, it ought to be remarkable enough that you don't go backwards. That will never be and options; and indeed, that where diet comes in and is so powerful.


Alright, enough already. I have caved to the general hysteria. I'll give it a go.

However, I must warn anyone who wishes to follow: this -- "diarrhea of consciousness" -- is not my style. I grew up on USENET and other forums where exhaustive completeness was the rule.

We'll see.

Saturated Fat Epidemiology for Math Geeks

A week or so ago, I posted a bit of epidemiology concerning saturated fat intake associated with heart-disease deaths by country. As you saw, it was all over the map. I did speculate, however, that if you were going to try to fit a curve, it would slope downward, meaning: more saturated fat, less heart disease deaths.

Well, owing to my vast network of resources [grin], physicist Robert McLeod offered to fit a curve if I could get him the tabular data, which, thanks to Ricardo, I did. So, here's the graph (see here for the one with the country labels).

Picture 2

Here's what Robert had to say.

All statistics done in MATLAB. I found that if I define

SF = % saturated fat intake

CHD = # heart deaths per year per 100,000 men


CHD = (-4.734 +/- 2.003)*SF + (144.5 +/- 21.4)

+/- errors are standard deviations (i.e. one sigma) with an R^2 = 0.13 (terrible) between the fit data and experimental data.

The plot I provided shows the baseline along with a top and bottom curve which are the 95 % confidence interval lines (~1.96 sigmas).

Although the statistics appear fairly poor, we can make one statement of interest. A positive slope is equivalent to a positive correlation between CHD and saturated fat (i.e. saturated fat bad!) and a negative slope is a negative correlation (i.e. saturated fat good!). Evaluating that statement using confidence intervals we have a 0.9 % chance of a positive slope and a 99.1 % chance that the slope is negative.

In other words, increased saturated fat intake is 99 % likely to be correlated with decreased incidence of death from heart disease.

Rational Animal Philosophy

While going through reams of links this morning to come up with a handful for you, I felt I had to make this one a separate entry, thanks to Chris Highcock at Conditioning Research, always a great source of useful diet and exercise information.

One of the aspects of my approach to the "Free the Animal" theme is that we are, very much indeed: animals. Our technological, industrial, and social development is such that we have lost sight of that core, fundamental identification. We have literally forgotten who we really are, at root, base, and foundation. Look around you at all the decrepit, overweight, constantly grazing, feeding, shopping bodies. That's the result of failing to live by one's true animal nature.

So, here is a fabulous introduction into who the Animal inside you really is, by Frank Forencich of Exuberant Animal. There are, I think, three very core aspects to his presentation. First is the loss of sensory input that we're all subject to. Some may recall past blogs where I talked about walking outside barefoot daily in summer (or in Vibrams). What was astounding to me, at first, was the sensory overload. But, after a period of adjustment, it becomes normal and you then realize that you have actually heightened your senses in a very fulfilling way.

Next is how our social arrangements are about as far from what we were designed to be as possible, and I say: this is why collectivist political institutions will never work (for me) -- though we may yet somehow manage to physically and neurologically evolve into the social equivalent of ants & bees. It is for this reason that I eschew modern politics utterly and completely. A primal hunter-gatherer used to accounting for the values and actions of about 30 other people -- having real and important influence in his group -- would quite rightly find the notion of voting (getting a 1 in 200,000,000th say in his own affairs) absurd. He might even cut off your head for suggesting such an unnatural thing (and I wouldn't blame him).

Finally, Frank does a fabulous job of demolishing the modern notion of the mind-body dichotomy with a very interesting approach: body-centric education. I previously blogged about mind-body dichotomies.

Exuberant Animal's Frank Forencich gives hope to the modern man (and woman) from Lauren Muney on Vimeo.

Tri-Tip, Sauce, Sweet Potato and Primal Cheescake

My cousin, Adam, has been following my Paleo ways for some time and occasionally comments on this blog. His wife, 'Z', does too, and this weekend they were visiting us up at our cabin where we cooked up various storms. At one point, Z was remarking how just a year ago, she couldn't imagine not having her cereals for breakfast and then being ravenously hungry by 10 a.m. Now, she usually doesn't even eat until lunch and it's meat, salad, nuts...things like that. Of course, her chubby co-workers think she's a lean nutcase. Here's Adam & Z at work last night.


Here's Adam slicing up my low & slow tri-tip.


Now, back up to a few years back, Adam & I playing corn toss on a camping trip.


He wasn't what you'd call "fat" by any means, but you can certainly see -- especially by the face -- how terrifically he's leaned out. The Paleo / Primal / Evolutionary / Animal life way works for everyone, every time, to deliver lean bodies, health, and vitality.

So, here's dinner.


The sauce is coconut milk, beef bullion, a bit of red wine and a bunch of crushed blueberries. On the side was mashed sweet potato with a cheese melt, and here's what they did with the skins.


Fried on medium low heat in lots of butter, then as soon as they come out, lightly sprinkled with cinnamon. Unbelievable.

Finally, desert was a great cheesecake. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the plated version with sliced strawberries on top.


While I don't have the complete recipe (yet -- and maybe Adam can put it in the comments), the crust is hazelnut meal, coconut flour and butter. The filling is cream cheese, pureed strawberries, and eggs (I think). No sweetener, and it was quite good without.

Steak Tips & Masaman Curry Sauce

Some of my curry and chili posts have sparked quite a bit of interest in just how I go about it. Various ways, always, but here's one, and I'll take you through all the major steps. But let's start with the finished product.


This is my Masaman beef curry, but instead of using stew meat or roast for a stewy concoction with vegetables, It's nuthin' but the meat. And, it's quality steak. The idea was to have just enough sauce. The side is cauliflower, and we decided it's easily as good as the rice, so those occasional splurges on starch are about to become even more occasional.


The base ingredients begin with the steak, 2 pounds in this case, finely chopped up cauliflower, coconut milk and Masaman curry paste. You could also grate the cauliflower, which I began to do, but it gets a bit messy, so I chopped. I may have finally discovered a reason to invest in a food processor.

Not pictured are the sea salt and fresh ground pepper I seasoned the meat with, the coconut oil I seared the steak in (and sir fried the cauliflower), or the almond meal that you see mixed in with the cauliflower.

The coconut milk I'm now using from a local Asian market has two ingredients: coconut meat and water.


When I do this with stew meat or roast, the idea is to slowly braise the meat, then add the coconut milk and paste, then simmer. In this case, I want medium rare steak in a sauce, but also taking advantage of the steak juices from cooking. This was done in coconut oil on medium high heat, turning continuously.


When medium rare, it comes out of the pan to rest.


Then I put about 1 cup of coconut milk in the cooking juices and 2 rounded teaspoons of the curry paste, mixed it all together, brought to a simmer and let reduce and thicken for a minute or so. Then I covered it, turned the heat to low, and positioned the pan to be just on the edge of the burner.

Then it's time to go to work on the cauliflower.


There's about 2 tbsp of coconut oil on a high flame to start. Then, there's as much almond meal as I can grasp with my five fingers from the bottom of the package. You let that sit there on medium high while you stir and agitate, waiting for the meal to begin turning brown. Then, in goes the cauliflower and some salt & pepper seasoning, if you like.

Basically, I cook it as I used to cook hash browns or fried potatoes. This goes a lot quicker, but you'll know it's ready when not as much steam is coming off and it begins to brown up nicely.


Then it's back to the meat, where, It's all simply put back in the pan (along with the resting juices, and tossed. Just flash it with only a few second of high heat. You don't want to further cook the meat.


This may not look too appetizing, having been mostly consumed, but here's what I mean about getting it medium rare. With steak as tender as this was, this is the way to go. It takes some care, but it's well worth it.


More Stupid Nonsense

So, Rashmi Sinha, PhD; Amanda J. Cross, PhD; Barry I. Graubard, PhD; Michael F. Leitzmann, MD, DrPH; and Arthur Schatzkin, MD, DrPH all set out to prove that eating red meat kills you, and -- surprise! surprise! -- they got the result they were looking for in the first place.

Now, I have not looked at this in detail, mostly because it's the same formula I see all the time. In this case, they get a half million old people, give them a questionnaire on their eating habits over the past 12 months (relying upon their memories), then they see who croaks and who doesn't over the next ten years -- ten years riddled with general, increasingly hysterical propaganda about cutting fat, avoiding meat, eating more grains and vegetable oils -- not to mention an explosion of high-sugar, highly processed, vegetable oil and grain ladden packaged foods -- many of them criminally labeled and advertised as "healthy" or "heart healthy;" and the assumption in the study, of course, is that the subjects continued to eat as they had eaten (or, rather, how they recalled from memory how they had eaten).

It's utter crap, and here's their bias on display going into the thing in the first place.

To investigate whether the overall composition of meat intake was associated with mortality, we created 3 diet types: high-, medium-, and low-risk meat diet. To form these diet variables, red and white meat consumption was energy adjusted and split into 2 groups using the median values as cut points. Individuals with red meat consumption in the upper half and white meat consumption in the lower half got a score of 1 (high-risk meat diet), those with both red and white meat consumption in the same half got a score of 2 (medium-risk meat diet), and those with red meat consumption in the lower half and white meat consumption in the upper half got a score of 3 (low-risk meat diet).

So, even before knowing what results they would get, they assessed the "risk" of the diets based on the amount of red meat consumed. You don't think for a second that they would design a study that had any major risk of showing a result where the "low-risk diet" was highest in associated risk, do you?

This kind of crap means nothing to us, folks. And the reason it means nothing is because they are simply comparing a bunch of people eating mostly crap diets (as most Americans do, now) in various mixes of crap & decent food. This is totally inapplicable to a Paleo-like dieter who eats 95% + whole, real food and abstains from killer whole grains, heart-attack-in-a-bottle vegetable oils, concentrated sugar -- and all the derivatives loaded with one or more of these -- and takes it easy on the starches and fruits.

Now go eat your blood red meat.

Lottsa Links

How about a few links as I mull over my next post, which will be a sort of overview of my personal progress and some things I've learned recently and modified.

- How about a cure for gray hair, maybe even baldness via stem cell stimulation? Dr. Mercola explains: "So the idea is that by stimulating the stem cells with special polypeptide signals you may be able to reverse this process and keep both your hair color, and your hair. I’m actually beta testing one of these polypeptide signal topical therapies right now, and my hair is slowly starting to come back in...and most of the gray is disappearing."

- Dr. Mercola, again, this time on cancer. "And though this article doesn’t mention it, well in excess of half of the cancers worldwide would simply disappear if vitamin D levels were optimized." And what are optimal levels? Well, opinions vary, but my own research leads me to believe that you want 60-80 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

- And now more on vitamin D, this time presented by Michael Holick, PhD, MD, Professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics and director of the General Clinical Research Center at Boston University Medical Center.

- Amazing upper body strength. Attention: the background music isn't work safe and may be offensive to some. So, you may want to keep the volume low or off. (I forgot who sent me that or where I saw it, so thanks).

- Lard, one of the kings of wonderful fat, is making a comeback. I picked this up from Diana's place, yesterday.

- Finally, reader "Tin Tin Wonder Dog" emailed in to report on a UK family who gets to live at everyone else's expense because they're "too fat to work." Punchline: it's not enough to "live." Yes indeed, bring on that nationalized health care here in America. I for one just can't wait to start paying for all the health problems caused by Big-Agra, its chief sales representative -- the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- and all its other sales account managers (ADA, AHA, and research whores).

Monday Morning Hang Gliding Diversion

At least a couple of more posts today, but I just had to toss this one up, discovered in my morning rounds reading my friend Davis Straub's daily Oz Report. For better than ten years Davis has had the fortune to travel the world flying in hang-glider competitions and reporting on them. He's tireless, and a really great guy I've had the opportunity to meet in person a couple of times.

This 3-minute video is a recent competition in the flatlands near Forbes, Australia. Ultralight tugs tow up the hang glider pilots who then race cross country, typically for 80-100 miles, depending upon where the goal is declared.

I'm getting back to the weight and strength ratios I was at when I first began this great sport. Flying for a few days last August was far less exhausting than it had been over the last five years, causing me to fly less and less. So, it just may be that I'll be doing this more and more in years to come.

It is great compound exercise for the upper body. A hang glider is maneuvered by weight shift, i.e., you have to deflect you body's entire weight, suspended from a single point, both side-to-side and forward and back (with all compound positions imaginable to make certain maneuvers, coordinated turns, etc.). In one scene you'll see a guy shifting weight quite dynamically. He's trying to stay behind the tug that he being towed by. This is similar to the level of weight shifting required when circling up in a thermal. Most thermals are not big and smooth, but broken and raggedy. It often takes intense effort to remained "cored" in order to maximize climb efficiency.

If you're in the USA and are interested in learning more about this sport, you can find local chapters and clubs here on the USHPA website.

Saturated Fat and Heart Disease Deaths

Ricardo Carvalho, whose great database work I highlighted yesterday, just emailed me another graph. The latest saturated fat data he could find was from 1998, but see if you can find any correlation.

Picture 3

It's all over the map. If you had to draw a trend, however, how would it look? I'd probably start it from the left at the 120 and finish off to the right at about 80, i.e., more saturated fat associated with less CHD mortality.

Update 3/30/2009: Physicist Robert McLeod took the tabular data I provided and did a fit in MATLAB. The punchline is that there's only a 1% chance of the slope being positive (more saturated fat correlated with more CHD deaths) and a 99% chance the slope is negative (more saturated fat correlated with fewer CHD deaths).

Interesting how, once again, the French thumb their noses at the rest of the world. Red wine? Gimmeabreak. I lived there, and most people have no idea how much animal fat most of them eat. From their fat-heavy sauses to their fatty charcuterie and pâté, to their sweet butter and many fine cheeses. I've remarked before about the difference between how Americans eat cheese and how the French do it. In America, I see people taking a whole slice of bread (or a cracker) and thinly spreading cheese on it. In France, you take a small bit of crust and pile a huge mound of cheese on it. And that's often not all. Many French first put a big pat of sweet butted on, and then the cheese. Like this; tiny piece of cracker, big butter, and big cheese:

Cheese and cracker

Yea, I ate it. It was in the interest of science. Frankly, I think the "French Paradox" has a lot more to do with getting a healthy dose of K2 in their diets from all the organ meats they frequently eat (tripe, kidney, liver), as well as the butter and cheese.