_ap_ufes{"success":true,"siteUrl":"freetheanimal.com","urls":{"Home":"http://freetheanimal.com","Category":"http://freetheanimal.com/blog-admin","Archive":"http://freetheanimal.com/2014/07","Post":"http://freetheanimal.com/2014/07/nobody-is-safe.html","Page":"http://freetheanimal.com/advertising-product-service","Nav_menu_item":"http://freetheanimal.com/2014/07/subscribe.html","Content_ad_widget":"http://freetheanimal.com/?content_ad_widget=widget-2-5x118"}}_ap_ufee

Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count

This is a post that's been sorta relaxing, sipping scotch in the back of my mind since last August after the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS11). It has to do with the dispute and controversy between Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, and Dr. Stephan Guyenet, a long time health blogger at Whole Health Source; and more recently, a full-fledged obesity researcher. In full disclosure, I've known and corresponded with Stephan for a number of years; Gary since a few months preceding AHS, and have spoken with and exchanged emails with both of them on the subject of this controversy, at which I was present. I subsequently did a podcast on Angelo Coppola's Latest in Paleo about that and other AHS "controversies" that I described in this post: Ancestral Health Symposium Controversies Podcast: From High Heels to Gary vs. Stephan #AHS11.

I was intending to do a post on it at the time, but in spite of corresponding with both gentlemen to better understand their positions vis-a-vis the other's, I just did not feel I had a good enough grasp to tackle it and risk looking like an id—something I'm happy to do on some topics, but not this one. Well...everyone is always free to judge either way. So let's get ready to rumble, uh, RUMBLE!!!

First, it's my experience over the last several days that I think finally afforded me the understanding to move forward. I announced my self experiment with adding back about 4 times the carbohydrate I was previously eating here. Two days later, I gave an update and macronutrient breakdown here, demonstrating that I'd gone from about 50g carbohydrate per day to about 200, or 40% of intake, with a goal of keeping it about 40-50%.

This morning, a commenter on my last post posed an interesting, excellent question that—once I'd answered it—got me to pacing and churning...and this post was born. I'm not going to link the comment because I don't want to ruin the suspense by letting you see my proto-response just yet. Here's the text of the comment/question.

Doesn't all this belie your previous experience Richard, not to mention Anthony Colpo's, that low-carb did indeed work? Do you think you could be where you are today if you had forgone low-carb and ate they way you do now? I'm a bit bewildered here.

The short answer is yes, I do believe that what I'm doing now would have worked. Here's the shocker though: it may have actually worked even better (with a conciliatory qualification to LC I'll get to). Tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is, and we learn and we go and we move onward hopefully better for the experience and knowledge gained. No regrets, and I hasten to point out: there is an enormous distinction to be made between an average daily 300-400g carbohydrate consumption from crap in a bag or drive through, and 200g carbohydrate mostly from potatoes or other starchy real food sources.

What's the distinction? Food Reward & Palatability is the short answer. Again, I'll get to that in more depth later. First, let me ask you a few questions, aimed at LC/Paleo, or Plain Vanilla LC.

  1. Do you find it pretty easy to draw a distinction between say, a free range, organically fed whole turkey you bake in the oven, and supermarket turkey franks with a side helping of "animal by-products," hormones, fillers, texture enhancers, preservatives, nitrites, added sodium, coloring, and cruelty...that you nuke?
  2. Additionally, do you find it easy to draw a distinction between say, leaf lard from a pastured pig that gets lots of time in the sunshine, and industrially processed, extracted, heated, churned, & turned, deodorized and left out to dry soy oil...in a plastic container?
  3. Yes and yes? OK, then how come you find it so difficult to draw a distinction between a loaf of Wonder Bread in a wrapper, and 5 pounds of potatoes straight & dirty from your organic farmer's field....to your door?

So have I abandoned low-carb? Not exactly. Do I think it's effective? Yes, in a limited capacity for some...even most who are substantially overweight or obese, or where otherwise, it just fits with any individual's lifestyle of work & play and they feel great and have good results naturally (I'm leaving diabetics out of this post as outliers). Do I think it's the best approach for fat loss? It depends on the individual. Why does it depend? Food Reward/Palatability shakes out individually, likely on a Bell Curve distribution, that's why.

Here's how I think it works in general.

  1. You're fat. You go low carb per se. You lose water weight because liver and muscle glycogen is being depleted. This is very motivational; or, rewarding, even "palatable." So you continue on. By virtue of blanket LC, you're excluding highly rewarding and palatable fast food, pizza, pasta, ice cream, sugar drinks, Hot Pockets, and all the other crap in favor of meat, veggies, nuts, cheese, and maybe some LC junk food if that's your thang. Yea, it's great to eat red meat again, and while some can pack away 16oz ribeye steaks one after the other, most can't. They're satisfied, and satisfied sooner, with less caloric intake, more often. It subtracts down. They lose weight. Was LC effective? Yes. Why? Food reward/palatability. And because calories count.
  2. The problem is that while a few get all the way to ripped leanness this way, huge numbers don't (including me), and that's why LC and LC/Paleo have not only to recruit the new and uniformed (do keep it going, Jimmy & Co.), but have growing numbers amongst adherents who range from slightly disillusioned to royally pissed off...because they can't get rid of that last 10-20 pounds...or more, in some cases.
  3. In various degrees of frustration and despair, you console yourself with the various cheats—from foods you love and have missed—that got you fat before. But you're smarter this time around, see? You don't toss the baby out with the bathwater. Rather, you "cover" or redeem your indiscretions at the drive through and freezer section with bouts of zero to very low carb over days, and manage to eek out some sort of a homeostasis—maintaining your moderately overweight composition. Or, in many cases, LC as you practice it ceases to be effective in shedding any more fat—even without drive through, freezer section, or Jamba Juice excursions.
  4. This is not necessarily an altogether bad thing. Better than really fat or obese.

So how do we take the next step, beyond the huge value LC had been to get off that initial 40, 50, 60, 80, 160, 320 pounds (60 in my case)? We recognize that it wasn't really any magic about LC that got us there. LC simply, effectively, lowered our food reward/palatability and as a consequence, we spontaneously lowered our average daily intake of calories.

Calories count.

So let's run some example number for shits, giggles...and in hopes of a Second Coming (I didn't specify what kind).

...Let's suppose a 250 pound male body, 5' 10", 50yo, light to moderate get-off-his-ass level. Daily burn is about 3,500 calories.

He goes Low carb. His target is 160 pounds, 90 pounds away...because that's the last time he remembers where a hot chick approached him and, well....she did nasty things to him. He's been told he doesn't need to count calories or anything—that they don't matter, eat to satiety—under a certain set of proscriptions having to do with carbohydrate per se.

And it's exactly what he does. After the initial water weight loss and adjustment period, he settles in. Since he doesn't count calories, let me do so, hypothetically. ...Wow, amazing, and this does go to the asset side of the Balance Sheet. He's not doing anything like 3,500 calories per day. Not even close. Eating ad libitum, he's naturally consuming about 2,800 calories for a 700 calorie deficit per day, or about a pound lost per 5 days. He feels awesome, great...because even though in big caloric deficit, he's still on a very high fat diet and he's not really hungry too often. He's euphoric. The pounds are melting off. He's an LC believer for life. It borders on Enlightenment. It's tantamount to a religious experience or, a Second Coming.

This goes on for just short of a year, about 350 days if my math is correct. He's livin' it up, low-carb style. He's doing himself, friends, and family a huge favor. Don't discount that. But in the end, he's accountable mostly to himself, and in that end, he stalls. He stalls, not at his 160 pound goal where hot chicks might once again do nasty things to him, but at 180 pounds, 20 pounds away. He's gonna have to do something, or settle for 2nd string in the chick department. How can this be? Low carb is magic. He's proved it. Over the space of an entire year!

...Or so he thinks.

What he only proved, however, is that calories count. Yea, he may have gorged on the fatty meat one night to the tune of pounds and huge calories and couldn't wait to tell you. But like my dear late grandmother—while I was growing up in Reno—only ever told us about her jackpots at the slots, and never the amount she fed it regularly...what he didn't tell you is that the next day, he didn't eat much at all. He was satiated. It all subtracts down, over time.

As it tuns out, 2,800 average daily calories is about the requirement for a 50 year old guy, 180 pounds, 5' 10", who gets off his ass now and then. ...Unfortunately, fantasizing about the hot chicks in waiting doesn't burn a whole lot.

Are you beginning to see where I'm going? Low carb was indeed effective. But it was only a means to the end that really worked. Actually, two means: his food palatability/reward was diminished, he spontaneously lowered caloric intake to an ad libitum level of a 180 pound man (2,800 calories), and he lost the weight. A year later, right on schedule, he weighs 180. After months and months or years and years, he begins to become disillusioned about low carb. But the blindspot, because "calories don't count on low carb," is that he never tried 2,600 calories daily on average, the requirement for a 160lb man with his parameters. But, had he done that, he'd have been hungry and low carb is a lot about not having to feel hungry. It's baked into the low carb—and hopefully gluten free—cake. So low carb failed him?

That's not fair. Low carb did exactly what it's supposed to do—once the science is understood and put into context. Low carb righteously and effectively set off a chain of events that led to him reducing intake in order to lose most of the weight he wanted.

But could he have done better? Yes, I believe so. How? By decreasing reward and palatability even further. How do you do that? By introducing a lot more carbohydrate, but from natural sources from starchy vegetables and tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, etc., etc. But wait! This is risky. I said I'd get to this, above. In my case, yes, I believe I could have done better, faster. But, perhaps step-wise is the better approach? If you reduce palatability and reward so very far, you might just give up on the whole exercise...and so in the spirit of the exercise of the greatest caution—because I want to see the most number of folks make substantial progress—I'm going to continue to support a VLC-LC diet for the really fat and obese. Thing is, if you integrate this, you'll know exactly what to do when that stall happens, and you don't have to flail around for months or years anymore pursuing a path that may no longer be effective for you individually.

But just how will this lower palatability and reward, thus lowering caloric intake?

Ah, "grasshopper," I'm so glad you asked. As I was drafting this and had to link Stephan's blog, above, I noticed there was a post from yesterday I hadn't read yet: Palatability, Satiety and Calorie Intake.

...They fed volunteers a variety of commonly eaten foods, each in a 240 calorie portion, and measured how full each food made them feel, and how much they ate at a subsequent meal. Using the results, they calculated a "satiety index", which represents the fullness per calorie of each food, normalized to white bread (white bread arbitrarily set to SI = 100). So for example, popcorn has a satiety index of 154, meaning it's more filling than white bread per calorie.

One of the most interesting aspects of the paper is that the investigators measured a variety of food properties (energy density, fat, starch, sugar, fiber, water content, palatability), and then determined which of them explained the SI values most completely.

Now, before you even look, what food has the off-the-scale, outlier, lowest palatability on average vs. the highest satiety?

Do I need to answer that question, potato [s]mashers? Go read it and weep.

Now, being honest, I might have ho-hum dismissed that on any given Sunday, but as it happens, I'm 4 days into eating more potato than I've ever eaten daily in my life, and after 2-3 days, kinda crashed. I was like:

"You need to eat, Richard. Your readers are expecting the results of your experiment."

"But I'm not hungry yet, Richard."

"It's 10 AM, Richard."

"It's 11 AM, Richard."

"It's..."

"Shut the fuck up!"

"...It's 1 PM, Richard. Have the Audacity to Hope!"

I succumbed, but only so far as to eat about 6 oz of turkey breast, a half can of black olives, and then munch on carrot sticks for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner was two full chicken legs/thighs, white rice and a chicken stock reduction with a bit of butter, white wine and a splash of cream.

Four days in, and I'm averaging 300-400 calories below what I was averaging before. I feel more full on average, more satisfied, sleep WAY better, and have a mental go-for-it attitude I haven't felt since I was on that high-fat diet, in caloric deficit and losing 60 pounds.

I've lost between 2 and 3 pounds since weighing in Saturday morning when this all began.

Share 64 Google +1 12 Pin it 1 16 Retweet 55 Like 95

Guest Post By Matt Stone Commenter Daniel on Paleo Myths (Eventually)

So it has been a slightly weird couple of days. On a total lark when feelin' fine after potatoes, I took on a grin, sucked it up, and emailed Anthony Colpo. ...Listen, I've had a bit of fun with a couple of posts in the past on the subject, and Mike Eades is a friend of mine, and all of that...but I've been peeking at some of the stuff Anthony has been writing lately, and if I were to deny what I consider to be the enormous sanity in so much of it, then who loses? Who's being cheated? I have a rather large nose and I'll keep it, thank you very much.

So here's anthony's post that in part, incorporates my email to him.

...He's certainly not advocating carrying around a thermometer in your pocket protector to measure your body temperature at all times. Nor is he advising you to eat the very foods that made you fat, gave you elevated BP and a host of other problems necessitating pharmaceutical intervention in the first place in order to "heal."

Which brings me to Matt Stone and his soon to be published book, 12 Paleo Myths: Eat Better Than a Caveman (bad publicity is better than no publicity, Matt; so, with my compliments...). And I guess, judging by the section of the book he excerpts, cavemen actually had a tough time getting it up. Who knows? Perhaps that's the best argument for God yet devised. Divine intervention. ...Perhaps that's where the oh, God...God...yes, God....oh, YES....comes from.

You can dismiss all of the Paleo anecdotes about "morning wood," increased libido, and certainly all of Robb Wolf's "Paleo Babies" (don't take that the wrong way). Yep, Matt read a nutrition book once. He reads Ray Peat. He has a holster and trusty thermometer. He whips it out at conferences (the thermometer).

OK, so perhaps Matt needs another few bucks and since eating pizza, burgers, and ice cream has run its course, maybe it's time to sign up for a currently running "Paleo Summit," where I'm sure all the guys presenting at Sean Croxton's invitation were well aware and A-OK that a co-presenter was going to insinuate that they probably suffer from erectile dysfunction—not to mention deluded by 11 other myths.

You can't even make this shit up. Croxton is either easily duped, doesn't look into shit adequately, or lacks a modicum of deference to the the other presenters giving of their time. Who doesn't know what Stone is about? Dr. Kurt Harris in my comments, just this afternoon:

If Matt Stone were a weatherman, you would find that he had correctly predicted 12 of the last 3 big storms.

Anyway, so in the comments of Stone's post to peddle his book tearing down paleo for its lack of pizza, ice cream...and thermometers...in advance of his participation in a "Paleo Summit," we have this comment by someone really honestly searching. He heard Ston'e presentation at the "Paleo Summit" and does not quite seem to be fooled.

Matt, I am a more recent Paleo eater and was turned on to your site just today from your Paleo Summit presentation. Though I admit I was pious and zealous when I first started the lifestyle, I am more interested in long-term health and well-being than in joining a systemic way of thinking just for community sake. That’s why I appreciate your alternative POV and, though it makes me flinch, your research.

However, I have to say this, just in the same way that you purport that the Paleo “gurus” being blinded by their own desire to market their belief system, which makes me distrustful of them, believe me, I am equally distrustful of you because you tell me that my understanding of why eating the way I do is setting myself up for failure is just a purchase of your book away.

I have as little interest in buying your book as I do Robb Wolf’s. I have a couple of simple questions for you: Are you really telling me that eating “paleo” is a bad idea, or that the mentality of paleo causes people to become stunted in their thinking, thusly getting them into similar dysfunctional, non-forward moving ruts as pre-paleo eating? I like to think of myself as self-reflective; I started too low carb for my lean body type and have been adding in more and more starches and fruits ever since I realized that I was losing weight, which obviously wasn’t healthy for me. Are you really saying that eating something like pizza can and should be okay for me, even though I used to feel like crap when I ate it before, and have since felt like crap eating it post-paleo?

To me, paleo isn’t about eating like a caveman, it’s about not eating garbage. I’m sorry if a lot of your readers have a hard time changing their way of thinking; that not eating modern-day crap is somehow a huge detriment to everything about living, but, come on, how are we ever going to grow as a people if we just accept the paradigm as the way it is and not look at systemic changes away from crappy eating? In other words, I have a very hard time with the idea that eating comfortable foods like cake and ice cream and staying fat is fine as long as we get our metabolisms in order. When are we, as a people, going to stop being such whiny babies about eating comfortably and staying fat (while self-loathing) and admitting that bad food is bad food? In my opinion, we will with movements like Paleo, that challenge that coddled mindset. In my opinion, not challenging ourselves to do better (i.e. eat better) is making us weaker mentally. Why work for your food (grow it, nurture it, prepare it, enjoy it) when you can have it instantly handed to you and it makes you temporarily feel good? To me, even though it’s becoming a religion, things like paleo challenge that very basic victim mentality and make us stronger. But then, of course, it’s up to us individually to seek out what’s best for us and continually challenge ourselves further to be self-reflective and growing. But no, why do that when we have “gurus” like you and Robb Wolf that can hold our hands through the brush?

Another question: If fat doesn’t make us fat, and carb-intake doesn’t spike insulin, thusly making us fat, what the hell makes us fat? Do I need to buy your book to find out? I admit I haven’t had the chance to dig through your site much yet – and I will – but I just have a hard time with sales pitches; I feel that you can’t trust anyone who stands to make money off of you.

I’m sure that your book was the logical stop in consolidating the information that you researched along with the stories on your site, but, like I said, how can you expect me to trust you any more than Robb or Mark Sisson? You all seem to have the “answers,” I just need to buy the book.

I have no desire to adhere to any one philosophy, I just want to be healthy in a sustainable way.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were as smart and savvy as you guys, I would want to sell a book about my brilliant ideas too. But you say right here on your blog that you have no intentions of marketing yourself like paleo does. Yet look at all the products you have.

Please don’t take this as attacking; I feel that, in the same vein of you, and other alternative thinkers like you, feeling that you need to keep movements like Paleo in check, it’s people like me that aren’t out to subscribe to any one thing need to keep you in check as well.

Honestly, all I’m really looking for is some clarification of your summit presentation because you said a lot that obviously flies in the face of what I’ve been doing thus far, and since I’m only looking to stay healthy, I just want to know what the best way to do that is. I’ll take a look around the site, for starters.

Well, for what it's worth, I disagree with those who are pessimistic over the future. This sort of thing as well as the comments in my latest post, are a good sign.

The Moderate Starchy Carbohydrate Experiment

Saturday toward the end of my post I proposed another of my self experiments.

Alright. Time for a bit of self experimentation. Today is Saturday, 2/25 and as providence would have it, I'm recording another podacst with the great low-carb diet advocate Jimmy Moore next Friday, 3/2 (rather than the usual months, it will air a few days later, like the 5th or 6th, I believe). Jimmy believes in the health and benefits of low-carb, but so far as I can tell, unlike many others, never prescribes it for everyone and is always open to the possibility that an individual might do better otherwise.

So as soon as I publish this I'm heading off to the market to get myself a load of white sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes, and for the next week and perhaps beyond, will make them a staple of my diet. So, for example, breakfast might be a sweet with a little butter and a couple of fried eggs. Lunch, one or two potatoes with some meat, maybe some fruit. Dinner, likewise. And rather than track any numbers I'll eat to satiation and hunger, just that it'll always include a potato, with lesser portions of fat & meat.

So next Friday I'll get to report to Jimmy how it's going in terms of energy levels, sleep, feelings of well being, satiety, weight and body composition. Anyone else up for the challenge?

So here's how I have modified my initial intentions in bold. First, since I'm going to be on with Jimmy, I thought it would be far more valuable to actually have numbers to demonstrate what my actual ratios are. Second, as of this morning, I have added white rice to the mix at least initially, to see if I have roughly the same response as potato. If not, then I'll drop the rice going forward. If I can't tell much difference, then I'll keep the rice in the mix for variety. But I expect that over the week the majority of my carbs will come from potato.

I did get started Saturday afternoon, but it was leftovers, so I didn't bother to log that. The log begins yesterday, Sunday. I'll get to that in a moment. Initially, I really had no idea what my target level of carbohydrate would or should be, but fortunately, a good clue was provided by Skyler Tanner of Skyler Tanner in comments.

It’s funny how he kept talking himself in circles but really kept showing me what I already know: nobody has a firm grasp of what they mean when they say “low carb.” Everyone assumes Atkins but I generally like what Dr. Jeff Volek, a low carb researcher, comes up with:

“In describing diets in narrative, I’d use as a starting point the NHANES data showing that carbohydrate consumption before the obesity epidemic was 43% of total energy… My suggestion is that any diet nominally less than that, say 35-40%, be considered a “low-carbohydrate diet,” although the caloric level if substantially different from 2000 kcal would have to be indicated.”

The reality is that we’re trying to become what John Berardi describes as follows: “we’re trying to teach the body to become a carb storage machine (thus, giving most of them after the workout so they are preferentially stored in the liver and muscle vs. burned as fuel) and a fat burning machine (thus, keeping carbs lower the rest of the day, taking fish oils, etc).” This way you have enough carbs to allow for good workouts, minimizing the use of protein to make carbs to optimally burn fat, but not so much that insulin is compromising lipolysis or preferentially oxidizing glycogen over fatty acids. Of course we’re doing both to some degree all of the time but we’re trying to swing the pendulum in that direction.

Lower carbohydrates I can get behind but not “low” as a blanket statement under all circumstances. An endurance athlete is going to need a hell of a lot more in the way of carbohydrates than a person whose day goes like this: drive to work -> sit in cube -> drive home -> go to sleep.

Anyone who says they they have a 100% clear answer doesn’t know how much they don’t know…it all depends. Context matters.

So there I basically had my answer. I would try to keep carbohydrate in the range of 40-50% of caloric intake roughly, on a daily basis (with little concern at individual meals). Moderate, reasonable...not high or low.

So here's how it worked out yesterday.

Breakfast

  • 2 cups hash browns
  • 2 fried eggs
  • 3 slices canadian bacon
  • 1 cup of fruit (melons & berries)

Lunch

  • 2 beers :)

Dinner

  • 1 large baking potato, mashed with 1 tbs butter and 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 oz turkey breast
  • 1 cup of chicken stock reduced to sauce, with a dash of white wine and pat of butter

Here's how it breaks out (and I didn't log this until today, so I'm amazed at how just eating to satiety and desire, I pretty much hit the target near where I wanted).

Calories and Ratios
Calories and Ratios

I'll be abstaining from alcohol the remainder of the week.

For breakfast just a bit ago, I had about 2 cups white rice, 2 fried eggs on top, 2 tbs of butter and a banana. Comes out to about 10/37/53 for protein/fat/carb.

So far I'm very surprised at how it's going. In roughly 2 day's time, not only have I not gained any weight, but looks like somewhere around a half pound has come off. This is surprising because being LC most of the time and fasting now and then, I fully expected to gain a few pounds in water weight as the glycogen tanks got topped off in the liver and muscles. And indeed, the muscles in my arms and shoulders "seem" a bit more "pumped." The other surprises, so far:

  • No heartburn (taking it easy on fat & protein?)
  • Improved feelings of "fullness"
  • No post-meal drowsiness (quite the opposite, in fact)
  • Slept straight through for 6 1/2 hours last night without waking once, which is extremely rare
  • Improved mental attitude

In terms of the attitude, outlook, well being, etc., I'm certainly open to the possibility that's placebo, confirmation bias, wishful thinking, or whatever. Time will tell. Thing is, when I was losing the fat initially a few years back, I very much recall walking on cloud nine most of the time—but it's really been a long time now I've just not felt that same way. Then yesterday, in small glimpses and snapshots, it felt familiar in that way again.

The other thing is just kind of a renewed appetite and excitement with the pleasure of food and eating, knowing that it may not just be a couple of potatoes or cups of rice per week, but on a daily basis, which both enhances the flavor, variety and texture of meals (I love the texture of mashed potato, for example) and lightens the cooking load, since these things are a cinch to prepare, making the meat dishes last longer.

Well, it's only been two days...so at the risk of getting ahead of myself and being accused of unbridled bright-eyed exuberance, I'll sign off now.

Share 7 Google +1 4 13 Retweet 11 Like 10

Why ‘Low-Carb For Everyone’ Advocate Kevin Geary Got Himself Banned

A few days ago I posted about hungry kids on a paleo diet. At the time of this Saturday posting, the comment thread stands at 211 comments. There were 212 a few minutes ago before I deleted one and hit the ban button.

From the time the post went up, many people with actual experience with kids advised one, the other or both of a couple of things: plenty of, or more fat, and more carbohydrate in the form of starch—such as sweet potatoes. Enter Kevin Geary, who started off well enough with questions or objections; but soon enough, evolved into basically claiming that everyone who replied to him was exercising "flawed logic" ...and oh, yea, they were misrepresenting him.

Of the 211 comments, somewhere between 35-40 of them are from him alone, a rather high percentage. At any rate, I don't recall ever doing a post before about banning someone from comments and moreover, I rarely ban anyone except for spam or obvious trolling. I don't like to moderate and I don't like to ban, but in this case I think it's rather instructive and mostly so, because I'm so damn tired of a few things:

  1. The notion that "Paleo" is a particular diet with predictable ratios of macronutrients that apply to one & all in all times and places. That's the "Cordain Paleo Diet," not the Paleo Diet, which is very wide open, with vast possibilities in terms of food sources and how they work out in ratios by environment and season (equator to arctic, sea level to 16,000 feet...summer, spring, fall, winter...and everything in-between).
  2. That because humans have an evolutionary adaptation that protects them from brain glucose starvation in times of famine, winter—or otherwise restricted or zero access to carbohydrate—that it's somehow optimal to exercise that emergency safety line as SOP all the time, for everyone. Or, that because we have this adaptation it implies the necessity of at least a low level of carbohydrate intake, or even very low.

It's all unmitigated bullshit; the Paleosphere becoming replete with testimonial after testimonial and anecdote after anecdote of people with relatively healthy metabolisms getting only so far with low carb, finding that that they get leaner and stronger when they add in a few potatoes a day, or even more.

There's one more thing, too. Based on the assumption that low-carb is "optimal" for most-to-all, it's that most-to-all just ought to stop their sinful ways so that the Gates of Heaven will be open to them, with no other factors pertaining or in evidence—such as culture, expense, enjoyment, satiation, et cetera, et cetera. This is illustrated by a comment I put up this morning.

“And what do they need carbohydrates for exactly?

“No one has answered this question yet.”

Who’s “they?”

The reason “no one has answered this question yet” is because everyone is smart enough to see it as loaded and impossible to answer, in the same vein as asking, “why do ‘they’ need more than 7-10% of protein?” or, “why do ‘they’ need more than 20% fat?” or any number of other variables.

You can’t look at carbohydrate / starch in a vacuum. There are three variables and above all, everyone requires sufficient energy. And there are vast differences in the way individuals respond to varying combinations of these three variables, rendering blanket assertions for everyone a fool’s errand.

If you decrease carbs, you have to up fat, protein, or both. You don’t change a single variable, but two or more, and even more when you consider micronutrients (sweet potatoes, for example, are reasonably nutritious and even have quality protein). So good luck on that one diet, one list of foods, one macronutrient profile for one & all.

The other reason I wanted to put this all in a post of its own is to highlight a great comment that takes Kevin to task for his behavior in the thread. Incidentally, throughout, he has complained that other commenters have not answered his questions, misrepresented him, and on and on. This comment went up yesterday afternoon and went unanswered.

jocelyn357 // Feb 24, 2012 at 16:26

Kevin,

No one here has accused you of saying VLC is the “only” way. You’ve made it clear from your posts that you believe a low carbohydrate diet is “suitable”, “enough”, and will “get the job done”, for the “majority” of people. These are your words, not mine. You also emphasized that some do well on what most would agree is a very low carb diet.

In contrast, you’ve been antagonistic when anyone suggests that these children may benefit from added carbohydrates in the form of starch. You say that Paleo may not be low-carb by definition, but “for most, it should be”. When someone says “Paleo is NOT low carb”, they don’t mean that it can’t be low carb, but should not be defined as exclusively low carb. For some it will consist of very few carbohydrates, for others the carbohydrate content may be much higher – many will fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two. You claim a paleo style, carbohydrate rich diet is “not a good description of how the body is designed to function”. I would like to see your sources for this statement please. I am very well read on this subject, and one thing is certain: people much more well educated than either you or I in biology or physiology do not agree on an ideal macronutrient ratio in the human diet. On the other hand, there is good evidence that humans with wide varieties in macro contents have lived very healthy lives for thousands of years. More recently, the research of Dr. Weston Price has shown that traditional societies with quite significant portions of diet as carbohydrate have shown to be examples of excellent health.

You don’t want to be tied to numbers, but you did in fact give numbers. You said 50-70 is “enough” for “most people”, but later qualified that by saying you “never claimed it was optimal”. Huh? Are you saying the children in question may, in fact, have a higher carbohydrate requirement for “optimal” health? Or will you back track on this too?

You say, “If people who are lean consume carbohydrates, it doesn’t mean that carbohydrates make you lean.” Can we agree that if people who are lean consume carbohydrate, it didn’t make them fat? We know that overweight certainly isn’t the only marker of poor health, but it is an important and pervasive one, no? We are in a time in history when obesity and its related diseases are so prevalent (particularly in children, which is what this post is about). If we can look to other societies who remain nearly exempt from these illnesses and have a history of excellent health in contrast to our own, and they can consume an abundance of carbohydrate, why would we conclude that carbs past a very “limited point” are detrimental? The point is, research has shown primitive and traditional societies with a wide range of macronutrient profiles who’ve exhibited fantastic health. Many people find they thrive on very few carbohydrates, and many are finding they experience a decline in health if the lack of carbs persists much beyond reaching an optimal weight. If they add in starchy carbohydrates, and their health returns as a result, why should they not conclude they function more optimally with higher carb content? Is it really that hard to comprehend?

I’m also interested in the following statement: “The body is able to create all of the glucose it needs for day to day operation from fat”. Do you think the body is very efficient at making glucose from fatty acids or are you confusing this with gluconeogenesis or ketosis?

I am not a regular poster here and have no reason to “bandwagon” with other commenters as you have suggested, but I could hardly help myself because your string of posts lacks coherent thought and is very disjointed. That coupled with your know-it-all attitude and conviction that you’ve stumbled upon a better understanding for “how the body is designed to function", and supposedly suitable (yet admittedly very vague and not necessarily optimal) macronutrient profile for “most” people without a single reference for your claims is really underwhelming.

Stick to photography and kids karate, and keep eating your low carb diet if you find it keeps you healthy. You should refrain from spreading your gospel throughout the web where someone just embarking on a health journey might be confused with this nonsense.

Amen.

Alright. Time for a bit of self experimentation. Today is Saturday, 2/25 and as providence would have it, I'm recording another podacst with the great low-carb diet advocate Jimmy Moore next Friday, 3/2 (rather than the usual months, it will air a few days later, like the 5th or 6th, I believe). Jimmy believes in the health and benefits of low-carb, but so far as I can tell, unlike many others, never prescribes it for everyone and is always open to the possibility that an individual might do better otherwise.

So as soon as I publish this I'm heading off to the market to get myself a load of white sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes, and for the next week and perhaps beyond, will make them a staple of my diet. So, for example, breakfast might be a sweet with a little butter and a couple of fried eggs. Lunch, one or two potatoes with some meat, maybe some fruit. Dinner, likewise. And rather than track any numbers I'll eat to satiation and hunger, just that it'll always include a potato, with lesser portions of fat & meat.

So next Friday I'll get to report to Jimmy how it's going in terms of energy levels, sleep, feelings of well being, satiety, weight and body composition. Anyone else up for the challenge?

Update: Well, I guess the hundreds of comments in the MDA forum threads Kevin Geary created once he got banned here (they are no more friendly towards him than here, and it's basically the same shit from him) wasn't enough. Got this email last night:

From: Kevin Geary <[email protected]>
Subject: coward
Date: February 27, 2012 8:44:30 PM PST
To: Richard Nikoley

You're a coward and a punk. You ban people, take them out of context (in the title of your post even), and then write about them publicly so they can't respond. That's cowardly. You're like a 3 year old child

Grow up.

And he's right. I am a coward for being able to put up with only about 40 comments of 200, the last 35 of which echoed the same thing, so I punkishly banned him.

I admit it. He totally exhausted my capacity for tolerance and open debate.

Shrimp & Crunchy Veggies – Pot Roast Stuffed Potato

A couple of brief descriptions and food pics for today, then Beatrice & I will be heading over the hill to Santa Cruz to enjoy the epic sunshine and celebrate our 11th year of having the State of California officially recognize our relationship. :)

In my last order with US Wellness Meats to try out their liverwurst and a few other things, I was delightfully surprised when the order arrived. There was a note in it saying they enjoyed meeting Beatrice & I at the Ancestral Health Symposium. I presume they saw some of my AHS posts where I celebrated how terrific they were in donating the steaks for the presenters party, as well as feeding virtually the whole auditorium on Saturday with beef jerky, pemmican, beef sticks and grassfed cheese. At any rate, along with the note were some extra goodies in the order: a bison filet, beef filet, grassfed beef franks, and a big package of wild caught shrimp. What a class act. I really appreciated that gesture. Now go order yourself some meat.

My favorite way to cook shrimp is high heat in a wok, with coconut oil. They cook very quickly. When they were done I quickly stir fried some crunchy veggies, then garnished with fresh green cabbage. Click to open the hi-res.

Shrimp
Shrimp & Crunchies

In the same spirit of my Pork Carnitas Stuffed Sweet Potato the other day, here's basically the same thing only using a white potato. Same butter (very big lots), and instead of cinnamon, garlic powder.

Pot Roast Stuffed Potato
Pot Roast Stuffed Potato

Nuke the potato, split it, spread it out, use lots of butter, sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder, toss on your pot roast, more butter, more garlic, fire under the broiler and you're done.

Often, quick and easy is good.

My Paleo Kids are Hungry All The Time!!! Help!!!

I got an email from a reader last night that sparked an interest in me and I immediately decided to do a blog about it...the kind where hopefully readers with far more experience than I chime in.

My problem is with my kids. I handle the cravings pretty well, and the kids are compliant with my decision to eliminate grains, sugar and legumes...However, they are constantly hungry (or think they are). We are very fit and genetically thin and muscular. I am 41, 5'10 and 130 lbs. of cavewoman-style muscle, and a certified Yoga instructor. My kids, 11, 10 and 6 have started showing increased muscle definition—not from "leaning out" or losing what little fat they had to start with—but they are hungry! They are having increased athletic performance, and clothes are getting tighter in places like thighs, biceps and calves. For "skinny kids" they look absolutely ripped; and so do I, unlike most people in my rural area in "flyover country."

This is not simply "craving" the junk they were accustomed to...they feel hungry (Paleo, three months now). Is it just a matter of time? We practice about an 80/20 diet, and I allow dairy in addition to meat, veggies, and fruit. What can I do to help them lessen the "hungry" feeling?

...It seems that many are paleo for the weight loss benefits, and we are because I wanted to avoid GMO foods; but we were already healthy and not "grain-dependent" so this is an unexpected complication.

In a subsequent exchange I asked her to clarify a few things.

They eat three meals per day; they only eat non-paleo at school and even then they avoid grain if they possibly can (They peel the breading off the corn-dogs, etc.).  So I say 80/20 because I am not able to control all they eat. They eat snacks at home that are Paleoish (i.e., cheese sometimes). Very few "starchy vegies" like potatoes (sweet or white) or corn.

They EAT a lot at home. I have adjusted my schedule to cook breakfast for them and we eat well, and paleo compliant. They're just hungry all the time now, but I am not even sure if they are only missing the sugar load/grain "rush."

Thanks for your help, skinny people apparently react to the transition differently (?)

OK, here's my thoughts, for what they're worth, and then I hope commenters with real world experience can chime in with helpful thoughts and suggestions, keeping in mind that others might encounter this obstacle as well.

  1. First and foremost, hunger is a normal evolutionary adaptation to motivate us to source more food, because in the wild, nothing is certain. The problem arises when that survival adaptation is put into a context where we have unlimited supply, and we know it. In the wild, depending on the environment, it's reasonable to assume that where food was relatively accessible, people might choose to tolerate the hunger longer because it's not severe enough to motivate them to go out of their way—kinda like when you delay cooking a meal because it's a chore that's worse than your current level of hunger.
  2. Particularly in the last few decades, we've established as part of our culture the notion that if you're hungry and don't immediately feed, something's wrong, or it's unhealthy, bad for you, etc. Of course, this is the doing of the food conglomerates and their marketing and promotions. We have a food culture that conditions us to never go hungry and never go thirsty, so when you're feeling hungry, go ahead and have that Snickers bar and sugar drink. You'll be hungry again soon enough...
  3. Looking back to my own childhood in the 60s and 70s, I recall how different the food culture was. We had breakfast as a family every morning before anyone left for school or work, and 8-9 times out of 10 it was bacon, eggs, & toast (hash browns were for Sunday breakfast). Rarely did we have oatmeal or boxed cereal. My mom packed a lunch everyday—a sandwich with meat on it, fruit, and usually some carrot sticks or something. A bag of chips was a rare treat and I always envied the other kids who always had them. But what I remember the very most is coming home from school, playing outside (we lived in wide open spaces with huge fields and a river, not a suburban development) for a few hours, coming in an asking mom, "when is dinner; I'm hungry." I can recall the hunger being almost unbearable at times, but having anything to eat was out of the question ("you'll spoil your dinner"). Mom was always a great cook, so I always dug into dinner with gusto. In later years, I recall us being allowed one or two slices of toast with peanut butter in the afternoon. In retrospect, I wish we hadn't been.
  4. Kid hunger is an entirely different animal. Hunger is based on metabolic demands for everyone (in the context of a healthy metabolism); but for kids, this is a moving target on an upward slope. "Eat your food so you can grow up big and strong" is only partially right and implies that it's the food that causes growth. In fact, it's growth hormone that causes growth and hunger and subsequent higher intakes of food is in response to that growth and bigger mass to feed. So, just as growth is not uniform across the life of a child (spurts), so we would expect spurts in severity of hunger and total food intake. Normal.
  5. Speculative, but I'll mention it anyway. Could be that as they are growing and have huge and increasing demands for nutrients, the past eating of kid junk may have left them with some mild to moderate nutritional deficiencies (likely)...and now that they are providing those nutrients, the body is playing catch up (speculative). The three months on paleo may not have been enough time yet for everything to settle out

Alright, with the above thoughts in mind, here's how I might construct some experimentation.

  1. If you can pack them a really hearty Paleo lunch that they can have in leu of the cafeteria food, I'd do that as absolute step number one. Maybe include an indulgence once per week as motivation. Another motivation, if you have the means, is to sometimes give them plenty to share with friends (make it good). If the friends love it and envy them, they're more likely to develop a healthy elitist attitude—because, of course, they are the elite. That they already demonstrate increased athletic performance at school ties the whole bow on the package.
  2. If milk is part of the dairy they consume, I'd eliminate that and replace it with meat, veggies, fruits, nuts (butter, cream and cheese should be fine). Just total wild-ass speculation, but because milk is designed for early growth, it's conceivable that the milk protein insulin growth factors mess with a growing kid's hormonal balance which could cause unnatural hunger.
  3. Involve them in preparation, cooking and cleanup as much as possible. Teach them to begin preparing their own simple dishes (see sweet potato, below). I learned to make simple 2-egg omelets as a kid (plain, or with cheese), I think by about age 9. This will have the effect of putting their hunger into a context: "Hungry means you have to work. Now, how hungry did you say you were?"
  4. Paleo is NOT low carb, regardless of what you may have learned. Paleo includes zero carb to very high carb, depending upon what's available in any given environment. So, don't be afraid of carbs and most particularly so, with kids whose metabolisms should be fine if they're lean and have always been lean. So, get some white sweet potatoes, pierce & pop 'em in the nuker for 5 minutes or so, slit 'em open, spread butter on them and sprinkle with cinnamon. Eat with a spoon. For added delight, toast & caramelize them under the broiler after the butter and cinnamon are added. This could go with a meal, be dessert, or an afternoon snack.
  5. Cook plenty at dinner so that there's more than they can possibly eat (and for really good meals, plenty for that lunch to share with friends). Remind them of the hunger they experience and suggest they really make it count. Then if they do get hungry later, let them partake in as much leftovers as they want. Have them get used to eating cold leftovers from the fridge or, make another plate and let it sit out for 30 minutes to get nearer room temperature. This also teaches delayed gratification and, don't be surprised that if they do put the plate out and wait 30 minutes, their appetite might sometimes be gone in the interim and the plate goes back in the fridge (happens to me sometimes).
  6. Nothing ever to eat or snack on once dinner is done (this should be near absolute with everyone). This gets their bodies used to going 12 hours per day with nothing but water. I often remark that my intermittent fasting 1-2 times per week for 24-30 hours reset my hunger mechanism to a more normal one, but it's just as likely that a more profound cause is that virtually every day I go about 12 hours minimum without any food or snack. Also, if they complain of hunger a few hours after dinner, before bedtime, have them take note of it and then take note of how hungry they are immediately upon waking. Sleep moderates hunger.

So to summarize, I'd first realize that hunger is normal, and particularly in the context of growing kids where hunger is in part a means of motivating the consumption of more food than they have been accustomed to eating, as they grow. Since they're lean and ripped, they have well functioning metabolisms, and now have an opportunity to live their whole lives without ever messing them up. Point out to them all the people who have damaged themselves. You probably have family members like that, where you could show them pictures of what the person looked like in their youth.

So given that they have well functioning metabolisms, let them eat Paleo as much as they want. Just not after dinner. Here's the principle tradeoffs:

  1. You get to eat as much Paleo as you want between breakfast and dinner, no limits. In return, nothing between dinner and breakfast.
  2. You get to eat Paleo snacks between meals, but you have to do it yourself (leftovers, sweet potato, fruit, etc.) and you have to clean up any mess. (Allowing them such snacks has the added benefit of likely resulting in additional leftovers from dinner that can be used in lunches.)
  3. No more cafeteria food at school, but you get an indulgence once per week, and when I have leftovers from a great dinner, you can have enough to share with friends so they'll envy you, and you can explain how this is why you're so lean & muscular and do better in sports, etc.

Alright, anything else from anyone? Discussion? Experience?

Update: See the follow-up to this post, motivated by going's on in the comment thread: Why ‘Low-Carb For Everyone’ Advocate Kevin Geary Got Himself Banned.

Share 35 Google +1 3 Pin it 63 2 Retweet 8 Like 64

Pork Carnitas Stuffed Sweet Potato

This is ridiculously fast and simple, provided you have your carnitas on hand already, or get some from a local mexican market or restaurant. In my case I had a package on hand from Trader Joe's.

Here's the whole process.

  1. Nuke or bake your sweet potato. If you nuke it, I find that about 5 minutes does the trick, perhaps 7 minutes for a big one. I use white sweet potatoes almost exclusively, as I don't care much for the orange ones people often refer to as yams.
  2. Cut them in half and spread them open a bit on a cookie sheet.
  3. Put three pats or more of butter on each half and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon.
  4. Pile on your carnitas, top with more butter, and sprinkle with more cinnamon.
  5. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until the meat is a bit crispy.

Click to open the large versions.

P1020593
Number One
P1020594
Number Two

Having done a few dishes with carnitas and fruit, this seemed like a natural when I thought about it, and then, inside of about ten minutes confirmed it worthy.

One variation might be to scoop out some of the flesh in order to decrease the amount of potato and starch while increasing the ratio or even quantity of protein and fat if you like. I'll probably use even more Kerygold butter next time, too.