Low Carb Critiquing and Constructive Criticism vs. Slamming and Tearing Down Values

Looks like my post yesterday about deciding for yourself, and 13 Low Carb Resources was well received. Thanks for all the Facebook Likes!

I received an email about it.

I’m at work but I’ve been mulling over your 13 low-carb post…

Is there going to be a 13 Pretty Good Churches post at some point? :)

I’m being a dick, but there is a built in deterrent to commenting on that post, since most disagreements are nit picky (especially among one’s own readers). We can find the good in almost anything. But, the problem with a lot of those low-carb sites is that:

  1. they employ religious thinking
  2. they are married to low-carb at the identity level, which means they are totally closed to information and research showing that low-carb isn’t necessarily ideal
  3. sometimes people set themselves up as gurus, manipulate their followers, and use despicable marketing tactics to sell total crap

It’s worth pointing those things out. If anything there is less disagreement than agreement, anyway. The people who disagree are shunned or humiliated. Same kind of shit that got us the low-fat nonsense.

I began tapping out a reply from my perspective and when it began getting long, I said ‘aww, what the hell—let’s just put it out there.’

First, it serves to take a bird’s eye view of the whole thing and in general, my view and judgment tells me that the LC community, for all its warts, is a net value and helps a lot of people. Everyone I’ve ever known of on LC…

  1. loses fat
  2. tends more toward real foods more of the time
  3. improves health, vitality and energy

A big percentage stall at some point, but losing 40 instead of the 60 you wanted is still a huge net benefit, in my judgment.

Now that we have Paleo, that’s a next logical step for LC folks to try, and because of the underling religiosity of society (not just LC), Paleo can be a tough nut to crack right off the bat. So, another way to look at Jimmy Moore, for example, is that he serves the value—as a religious man whom religious people trust—of telling people: “Paleo is OK, even if it has an evolutionary foundation.” So, ironically, the religious thinking that Jimmy subscribes to (and, I think, does a very good job of not wearing on his sleeve constantly) is responsible for getting more religious people interested in a Paleo approach—where they’re going to be exposed to the science of evolution—than you or I ever could.

This is a good thing. So you have people out there saying “Jimmy’s just trying to horn in on Paleo; I mean, look how religious the guy is,” when in reality, he’s to be commended for leading people to a more Paleo, Real Food way rather than saying “don’t go there, stay away, they believe in evolution.”

As to the other points, well, that’s the realities of business and self-help in general and so that’s why you check out a bunch of sources and find the one(s) you’re most comfortable with. Some people really get into the promotions, contests, challenges, giveaways and such that guys like Jimmy Moore and Mark Sisson engage in. That’s great. Doesn’t interest me—either as a participant or doing any such thing myself—but clearly there’s a lot of people who, for whatever reason(s), get into it and it helps keep them in the game. I see no reason to criticize or bemoan that. Different strokes.

Here’s what I am all for:

  1. General critiques. This post itself is a bit of an overall critique of the LC community and I’ve done it in the past for Paleo as well. It recognizes the overall net value and either explicitly or implicitly suggests improvements to the value. The way to make errors and the bad stuff less and less relevant is simply to increase the value.
  2. Constructive criticism. Same as (1) but typically directed at one person or organization. I have constructively criticized Jimmy a few times. He’s taken my criticism well, has blogged about it, even had me on his podcast. What more could one want? So, he exposes his own readers to my criticisms of him, but what exposure to those criticisms would his readers get if I, like so many, attacked him personally or suggested that everything he does amounts to a pile of crap?

So to summarize, step one is to get the macro, bird’s eye view and make a judgment call: net value or net disvalue? Everyone knows my judgment in the matter. LC and Paleo are strong net values in many ways for, among other things, educating people about good Real Food, dispensing with the myth that saturated fat will harm you, that cholesterol will kill you, that you need your X servings of hearthealthywholegrains per day…etc., etc.

Conversely, most of the conventional wisdom is a net disvalue (just look around you). I put “vegetarinism” (that allows dairy and eggs) about in the middle because you can get adequate nutrition and there’s a strong Real Food thread to it. Veganism, the rest of the conventional wisdom catechism, fat & cholesterol phobia, processed food pushers, et al, I put at net disvalues and as such, am happy to contribute to their complete, merciless, utter destruction…and eventual grave peeing.

For LC and Paleo, it’s as easy as not tossing out the baby with the bathwater. Dry that baby off and get more good Real Food in it—and ignore the dirty water.

…Oh, yes, I do have a PGC (Pretty Good Church) idea. Check out the Unitarian Universalists. Any church that welcomes atheists and secular humanists is A-OK in my book. I blogged a bit about them here.

Will The Blogosphere Cure Cancer?

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That's a partially tongue-in-cheek question, but also partly serious. What I really mean to ask is: is there a reasonably effective treatment for most forms of cancer that's already basically understood and available? And if so, why is it not in the mainstream? Whatever the reason, if indeed there is "a cure," could the blogosphere then act as the medium for wide distribution of the information, bypassing traditional outlets, until such point as so many anecdotes of successful control or eradication tip the balance?

Well, let's see. I don't have a whole lot to say, but others do, lots of them very smart people. If you take the time to get through it — and you should, just on the reasonable chance there's something to it — you're going to get quite an education on just what cancer is, how it grows, and thus, what might be the most effective way to combat it.

First, let me address the question of cancer quackery. It exists on the faulty premise that there is significant financial incentive to explicitly not cure cancer, but to keep it alive and well whilst developing drugs to manage it, hopefully in a manner that has patients ingesting drugs in perpetuity. There is never any shortage of anecdotes, i.e., people going into remission or seeing eradication of a cancer while on some sort of alternative treatment. But in addition to considering the cause & effect aspect of such anecdotes (cause or coincidence?) there is also the issue of proper diagnosis. When I was a kid, a friend of my mom's claimed to have been diagnosed with cancer, then cured by "Laetrile." I don't know if anyone really suspected it at the time, but later antics from that person convinced me that she never had cancer in the first place.

Here's the fallacy: there is an incentive to come up with drugs that manage the disease, all else remaining equal. That's one approach, and problems of the magnitude of cancer ought to be attacked from different avenues. People have been cured with chemotherapy who otherwise would have died. Lots of them. Mostly, that's due to earlier diagnosis. There's also incentive to cure it outright, to eradicate it. A drug company invents drugs. If a cure or treatment comes to light that's not a drug, well, that's out of the purview of a drug company and it's unreasonable to expect them to just abandon the approach they have taken and invested in. Others are sure to explore other paths, and methods that are truly effective will eventually rise to the surface.

Anyway, suffice it to say that I am always suspicious of "cancer cures," and I fully understand that anytime an intriguing anecdote comes to light, people immediately start searching for the magic bullet. What I have to present here — work done by others; I'm just assembling — is something that doesn't come under the magic bullet category, at least from my perspective. It's actually something our primitive ancestors were very familiar with as an aspect of their natural, every day, evolved existence. it involves two parts: very low sugar/carbohydrate intake (and no grains) and periods of moderate to heavy fasting (though they knew it as starvation).

So let's move on to the story of the lady from Australia whose 65-yr-old father is doing swimmingly 18 months after being diagnosed with lung cancer with metastasis. How? By getting in touch with Dr. Jan Kwasniewski in Poland and following a strict no-low carb, high fat diet.

Here's the link train.

  • Kwasniewski and cancer. Peter calls attention to the woman's comment at another post, as well as to a few other things. Commenters then provide even more links.
  • Cancer's Sweet Tooth. This one could make you a bit angry, especially if you've had a friend or loved one who died of cancer. You must read and understand this, and it will blow your mind because of the simple, Occam's Razor implications of the thing. Then, realize that much of this was known in the 1920s and a Nobel was given out for it in 1931. The article itself is from 2000.
  • Can a High-Fat Diet Beat Cancer? The Time article that started the Aussie lady on her quest to get the word out.
  • Cancer & Ketosis. Robb Wolf, who obviously knows a lot about current cancer treatments and the drugs involved, responding to that Time article. At the end of that post, you'll get a very real and tragic sense of the source of Robb's interest.
  • What You Need to Know About Cancer and Metabolic Control Analysis (PDF). This is a Robb Wolf interview with Dr. Thomas N. Seyfried. One very interesting tidbit I didn't know is that fasting a mouse for 24 hours is about metabolically equivalent to a human fasting about a week.
  • Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism. A PubMed abstract.
  • Kasha's story. The comment on Peter's blog that set this post in motion.

Now, keep in mind that I just posted about how fasting prior to chemo seems to protect healthy cells, and since chemo is a war of attrition against cancer, this makes perfect sense.

So, what do you make of all this? I'll tell you what I make of it, and it's simple. I know that for me, no-to-low carb with no grains or grain products or refined sugar is what I was built for. I have documented it going back months now. I'm off three medications I've been on for years. Fasting has also been tremendously helpful. Both will be integral to the rest of my life, because of how they make me feel, as well as watching, right before my very eyes, my own body transform itself into what it was genetically meant to be. I don't look upon it as a means of "preventing cancer." I look upon it as the way our human organism evolved, and unless cancer is a normal part of living in a normal way, in accordance with one's nature — which we know it's not, from studying indigenous people who are virtually free of cancers and other diseases of civilization — then it's only "preventative" in the sense that eating prevents starvation.

So, it seems to me that if one is unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer, a three front assault would be to go on an 80/15/5 diet, i.e., 75% of calories from animal fat, 20% protein, and 5% cabs in the form of vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, conduct fasts of three to four days or more every few weeks, and at minimum 2-3 days immediately prior to chemotherapy.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, and with the channels of communication I've established by virtue of the blogosphere, I'll surely be able to stay on top of it.

Quick Links

Just a couple of tidbits.

From Chris at Conditioning Research, eat lots of eggs. They're really good for you and it's probably because of the cholesterol. I know (heresy).

And from Peter the veterinarian at Hyperlipid, higher fat, primarily of the saturated variety (animals baby!) does lots of good things. Here was a funny recent quote from Peter.

"Are all these experts wrong, as well as the expert advisory panels on cardiovascular disease?"


A much better question:

Which hormone converts a vascular smooth muscle cell to an osteogenic cell (calcium phosphate secreting) in the vascular media?

Answer: Insulin

The NCEP answer: It's a statin deficiency! (what was the question? Oh never mind)

In case you don't follow, the working hypothesis is that cardio-vascular disease is caused by high cholesterol, statins reduce cholesterol, so the fundamental problem is that we're born with a statin deficiency. Funny.

As a side note, unless you read medical journals (probably even if you do), the best sources for keeping up on ALL the studies are some of the blogs I link to. You won't get it in the standard media. They are uninterested in the dozens and dozens of studies that pound away at the myth that high (saturated) fat: bad / high (grian) carbs: good.

Jesus. Had a look around you lately? Never have carbs been so high and saturated fat so low in the American diet.


Here's a picture of my latest run to Trader Joe's. The emphasis is meats with a high percentage of animal-fat content. Trader Joe's is good because you can get a lot of that sort of thing uncured, as are the kielbasa, beef franks, and chicken sausages. Same with bacon, but I already had two packages in the frige. Pate is an excellent food for 70-80% of cals from fat. To the right is prosciutto, with a nice huge band of lovely tasting fat on each delectable thin slice. The veggies are frozen and available on demand. I particularly like the medley, which includes lots of butter & herbs, so it's just like I would prepare anyway. No bread, pasta, rice, beans or any other of that stuff.


Liquid Fat Bomb

I don't do this very often, but here's my recipe for a liquid high-fat breakfast, which I just consumed.

– 4 oz heavy cream / 480 fat cals, 0 protein, 0 carb
– 4-5 oz canned coconut milk / 300 fat cals, 0 protein, trace carb
– 1 whole large Omega-3 egg / 45 fat cals, 25 protein, trace carb
– 1 packet of Splenda sweetener / zero
– Tbsp vanilla extract / probably a few carb cals
– Ice

Toss it all in the blender with sufficient ice to make a nice shake, and then enjoy yourself. We've got about 850 calories, 825 or 97% of which are fat calories. Not for everyday, but it's one way to keep the calories up on a low-carb diet without overdoing the protein. Usually I'll do two, or even three eggs, but I eat so much meat that I sometimes am looking to just get a big fat dose.

I know. It's complete heresy. Consider this: If you were going to design a biological being and had three macro nutrients at your disposal, two of which possess 4 cals per gram (carbs and protein), and another that possesses 9 cals per gram (fat), more than double, which one are you going to design your being to run on fundamentally, with the others as back up? Which one of those does the human body store, sufficient to fuel operations for 2-3 months without any other nutrition? Carb stores (glycogen) can be completely depleted in two hours of strenuous activity. Think about it.

Sent Items

Got an email today from a reader interested in cheese and whatnot in my diet. I love getting stuff like this. It repeats much of what I've written, but what the hell. The main point I'm trying to get across is that it's the fasting that dramatically changed everything. Up to that point, it has always been a struggle. Adding lean mass through the workouts helped. Eating in more of a Paleo fashion helped a bit more, but nothing so turned on the fat loss, plus fundamentally altered my appetite like the fasting.

Here goes.


Mine has been an evolution. When I began pushing weights last May I wanted to focus on that, so I did and I built muscle and lost a little fat. Tried to eat good some of the time, but still lots of burgers (which are fine, without the bread). I was losing about 1 pound per month net (I was also gaining muscle).

Then around October I began to eat well most of the time. Probably the closest approximation is "Paleo." This is the authoritative resource:

Now I was losing maybe 2 lbs. net per month. However, I kept hearing about intermittent fasting at Art's site…


…and so I decided to try it. It made a lot of sense from and evolutionary perspective. After the first 30-hr fast, ending with a workout and a nice meat dinner, I knew I was hooked for life. I just cannot begin to express all the benefits. I simply think that we evolved to go long periods with hunger and that the body adapted itself to do things over those periods of time that just might be necessary for full health and well being. Think about it: the average person has sufficient fat stores to go two, possibly three months with no food. That didn't just happen by accident.

So that was the major piece to the puzzle, and then I realized something. Since I was putting myself in a state of evolutionary hunger, I was allowing for gene expression to mold my appetite to a greater extent than the complex hormonal biochemistry that prevails when we're perpetually in a fed state. (That's my speculation, so it may be gobbledygook, but I doubt it.)

I just really can't believe how my appetite has so dramatically changed with the fasting. I seriously don't even have a craving in the world for a pizza, and that is almost unbelievable to me. I always crave pizza — every day of my life. Haven't been to a fast-food place in 2-3 months (I haven't paid attention) and that was probably 3-4 times per week for years. Love fast food burgers & fries.

But this has nothing to do with will power. For me, it takes no will power to fast for 30 hours (well, maybe the first two did) twice per week, and the change in appetite is a natural result. And what I crave is lots of animal fat and meat. I couldn't even finish a light vinaigrette salad last night coming off a 30-hr fast. Instead, I ate nearly a pound of ribeye smothered in butter-sautéed mushrooms, and broccolinni blanched and bathed in melted butter, lemon, and parmesan.

So, I think the Paleo and all those are fine, but a person ought to feel great doing them; naturally great. Given my experience with fasting, I now understand that I would have never known and understood my true appetite had I not started that.

As to the specific question, yea, I eat quite a bit of cheese. And butter; and bacon dripping and dipped in the grease. I now eat the strip of fat on steaks because it's so appealing.

Radical; but I feel fabulous, I'm gaining strength and muscle, and fat is falling away.

Your mileage may vary, but that's my story.


Continuing to point out some of the many fine evolutionary fitness resources I'm coming across, here's the blog of UK veterinarian Peter who since 2003 has existed on a diet whereby 80% of his calories are derived from animal fat. Says he feels better than when he was a teenager, and given my own recent experience with intermittent fasting and high animal fat intake, I'm not doubting it. There are a ton of great posts — take your pick. This one on self-evident fat metabolism from an evolutionary perspective is good.

It's really the evolutionary perspective in all this that's crucial for me. Accordingly, I have come to view much of what I see in modern diet and fitness as the equivalent of modern philosophy — where man's nature as a volitional being that must choose and produce his own values is never properly integrated. How man hungered and pursued the value of food; what he chose to eat, how long he went in-between, how he expended energy in acquiring food, and how he ultimately survived and evolved in the wild ought to form the basis, the premises, the starting hypothesis in all we undertake to understand. Accordingly, the diets of the last 10,000 years — up against 2 million years of evolution — really ought to be held in great suspicion when they contradict what was likely the sorts of diet that evolved our genetic makeup.

And really, just look around. The obesity is astounding and for some of us it's simply inevitable we're going to get fat eating like everyone does. Should it really be a surprise that in deciding first to go hungry, and then eat in a manner as one may reasonably presume primitive peoples did, that weight drops precipitously and we begin to feel as good as we did as kids (I slept 9 1/2 wonderful hours last night, and "went to bed on an empty stomach" without dinner).

I think we're on the verge of some reality in all of this over the coming years. Here are three big subjects to watch for: Intermittent fasting, which I've blogged a lot about; potential benefits of no-low carb, moderate protein, high-fat diets; and the possible causal link of inflammation to a great number of our health problems and how our diets promote inflammation.

With regard to inflammation, I suspect that it's the fasting and very low carbs that have resulted in me getting off two prescription medications in the last month that I've been on for years, one for chronic heartburn, the other for year-round nasal allergies.

Fasting, Diet, Carbohydrates, Cause & Effect

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The principle hypothesis, generally accepted, is that obesity is caused by eating more calories than are expended, the excess being stored as fat. Reduce intake, increase output, or both, and fat comes off. It's a tidy equation. Overeating causes obesity.

Suppose you come up with a competing hypothesis that says that over or under eating, and/or low or high energy output are caused by the accumulation of fat, i.e., a hypothesis that at first glance seems more complicated, but is actually — Occam's Razor style — simpler. What if, for whatever reason, a body simply accumulates fat, and overeating and sedentary behavior are in response to it? Can you see how that's simpler?

So then the question becomes: what causes fat accumulation, which then sets off what in some ways is a positive feedback mechanism, including behaviors that are widely seen as causal rather than effects?

Well I'm no expert at this, but Gary Taubes has spent the last several years pouring over studies going back as far as the 1800s. Rather than rehash it, I've got links for you accumulated from Chris at Conditioning Research.

The lecture is by far the most compelling, I think. Much of what he demonstrates seems to contradict the conventional hypothesis and his "anarchy of fat" hypothesis seems to fit better. It really seems to come right back to Atkins. I had tried that diet several times going back as far as 1991, but could never stay on it. I always lost weight, always felt good, but would eventually give in to very strong cravings for bread and other high-carbohydrate foods. Then I thought walking 3+ miles per day would help. In five years and over 5,000 miles, I put on another 25 pounds. Walking increased output, which made me hungrier, and my finely tuned fat-storing machine, my anarchistic fat, was all too happy to gobble up those calories as even more fat.

The workouts over the last nine months — eventually combined with a more evolutionary approach to eating — got the ball rolling, but the fat loss was very slow. That's fine, but it would have taken about two years had progress remained steady. In less than a month, I have lost more fat than in the previous eight months combined, and with no change in my exercise schedule of two intense 30-minute sessions per week to build muscle.

The big change began with the fasting. The first two fasts (right before the Holiday break) lost me about a pound. The next two, first week of January, about two pounds. But then I began to notice something really interesting and profound: my appetite began to change. I've lost all appetite for fruit and I just pick at vegetables a bit. I like nuts and blueberries, I'll eat a salad but it seems what I'm feeding is the desire for crunch more than anything. What do I crave? Meat (the fattier the better), eggs, cheese. Here was my dinner, Saturday night.


A 20oz T-bone. By the time I got three bites into it, I had no interest in the salad. I finished off the entire thing with ease, and though I didn't feel full, I only cared to pick at the salad (I went for the avocado and radishes).

In other words, I find myself eating more of an Atkins style quite by accident, unexpectedly: as a style I crave rather than forcing it on myself.

It leads me to a simple question. In an evolutionary context, where does everything begin? My answer: hunger. Before we ever ate a bite, we were hungry, and over two million years of primitive existence, we were hungry and that was the primary motivator of everything. And, so, what did we desire to eat, above all, when hungry and we had a choice? For me personally, I know the answer to that and the signal is clear as a bell. And I don't think our primitive ancestors tossed away the strip of fat, either. I don't think so, because for more than 40 years of trimming it off, I now find myself eating every tiny bit of the fat, enjoying it immensely. And I crave that fat far more than that salad, and that surprises me. I suspect that we have the capacity to eat other things because meat sources weren't always around, just as other primarily carnivorous animals will graze on grass (like bears) when their primary food isn't present.

Anyway, in the last four fasts over two weeks, I've lost 8 pounds. Now that I'm eating mostly meat, fat, and eggs (a little veggies too), the fat is falling off me at a rate of four pounds per week. Here's a typical breakfast, though this was last week and I'm now skipping the apple and adding more bacon, and it's usually three eggs now.


The bacon goes straight from the pan to the plate so it's plenty greasy, then the eggs are fried in the bacon grease as well. Most satisfying.

I'm not going to be foolish, though. Another 20 pounds, which will come off quickly, and I'll schedule a physical and have the blood work done. I suspect it will be fine and much better than the last time. I feel just fabulous, am sleeping better and longer than since I was a teenager, and I turn 47 tomorrow.

These are my personal experiences and results — certainly not advice for anyone. But if you've struggled with being a gluttonous fat slob like me for the last two decades, it might be worth a serious look.