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:
- 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).
- 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.”
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
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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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.