Disrupting Paleo: Inuit and Masai Ate Carbs and Prebiotics, Part 1

It’s more from regular commenter Duck Dodgers, the guy who brought us Tiger Nuts, a delightful ancient tuber with an amazing micro and macro nutrient profile. He did such a big job on this one that I’m going to have to put it in 2 parts for the TL;DR crowd. [Part 2]


A few weeks ago, we uncovered the secret to an ancient starchy tuber that is more nutrient dense than red meat and is absent from the modern “Paleo” diet.

We also learned that starchy forbs and grassy tubers dominated the landscape of the ice age. Our ancestors were even grinding starches on millstones at the peak of the ice age.

Today, in Part 1 of this two-part post, we begin to dismantle the myth of the Inuit and the Masai who supposedly ate no starch, no fibers and no prebiotics.

In fact, those cultures did eat animal starches and animal fibers. Unfortunately, unless one does their own hunting and eats part of their kills raw, those animal starches and fibers are all but missing from a modern low carb diet.

From: Principles and issues in nutrition: Yiu H. Hui, Ph. D., p.91 (1985)

Eskimos actually consume more carbohydrates than most nutritionists have assumed. Because Eskimos frequently eat their meat raw and frozen, they take in more glycogen than a person purchasing meat with a lower glycogen content in a grocery store. The Eskimo practice of preserving a whole seal or bird carcass under an intact whole skin with a thick layer of blubber also permits some proteins to ferment into carbohydrates.

Dr. Hui is being kind when he uses the term “fermented” to describe the ancestral preservation techniques for Igunaq and Kiviaq, which are typically enjoyed during the Winter months when food is scarce. A more accurate description would probably be “rotting” by anaerobic digestion in an environment too cold to facilitate full decomposition. We’ll come back to that. But first, let’s examine the role of glycogen.


Few people seem to know that the glycogen found in the liver of animals is surprisingly similar to plant starch. In fact, Claude Bernard—the French scientist who first isolated glycogen in 1857—wrote years later, in 1877, “I have found that if the muscles of a rabbit are paralyzed and thus forced to rest, the glycogen content rises. I have observed in this case that the glycogen gives a blue color with iodine, just like that with starch.” Glycogen is also known as “animal starch” because, in plants, sugar or glucose is stored as starch—just like animals store their glucose in glycogen. We now know that glycogen is insoluble in water and is a large ribosome-like molecule that can contain up to 120,000 glucose molecules connected in a dense ball of branching chains. These branching chains make it a polysaccharide that is very similar to amylopectin—what we think of as glycemic starch.

Wikipedia: Polysaccharide

Polysaccharides are an important class of biological polymers. Their function in living organisms is usually either structure or storage-related. Starch (a polymer of glucose) is used as a storage polysaccharide in plants, being found in the form of both amylose and the branched amylopectin. In animals, the structurally similar glucose polymer is the more densely branched glycogen, sometimes called ‘animal starch’. Glycogen’s properties allow it to be metabolized more quickly, which suits the active lives of moving animals.

In other words, dietary glycogen, if you could obtain it and eat it, is a starchy and glycemic source of carbohydrates.

Throughout the late 19th century, Bernard — and other scientists such as Frederick Pavy —performed experiments on animals—often killing them and testing their livers for sugars both minutes and hours after death. The results varied wildly depending on the time after death.

In a nutshell, what they discovered was that within seconds after death, the liver begins to unravel its glycogen stores. Over the next few hours, the glycogen turns into sugars, which then gets converted into lactic acid. In muscle meat, virtually all the glycogen converts to lactic acid within 24 hours and the color of the meat turns from purple to bright red or pink.


Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet point out in the Perfect Health Diet that almost all the carbohydrates in our meat vanishes by the time it leaves the slaughterhouse.

From: The Perfect Health Diet, Jaminet, Paul; Jaminet, Shou-Ching (2012)

…We cannot get quite as much carbohydrate from eating animal foods…because carbohydrates and proteins degrade soon after the animal dies, releasing glucose, which cells consume through anaerobic metabolism. This process removes carbohydrates from meat.

When an animal is slaughtered for human consumption in Western societies, the slaughterhouse will typically hang the animal for ten days, sometimes more — the carcasses themselves taking a few days just to get down to the proper chilling temperature to prevent the undesirable “cold shortening” of the meat. The quick conversion of glycogen to lactic acid during the first few hours proceeds to tenderize the meat during that extended chilling time.


Glycogen is found in skin and sweat glands, though it too rapidly vanishes postmortem. Glycogen is also found in the testes, brain, blood, and in placentas. While most humans store their glycogen in muscles, in reality, proteins and fat can far outweigh glycogen. However, many carbohydrates in animals are glycans attached to glycoconjugates such as glycoproteins, glycolipids or proteoglycans. Glycoconjugates are considered to be among the most important bioactive components in raw milk. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that…

From: Neonatal protection by an innate immune system of human milk consisting of oligosaccharides and glycans by D. S. Newburg

Most of the known prebiotics are glycans. A glycan is an oligosaccharide or other glycoconjugate, such as glycoprotein, starch, cellulose, glycolipid, glycosaminoglycan, mucin, or other structural carbohydrate.

As Tim Steele explained a few months ago, Humans Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOS) exhibit ligand mimicry. But, it turns out that Protein-Linked Glycans (PLGs) exhibit this same mimicry, acting as decoys for pathogenic bacteria. In other words, these undigestible glycoconjugates—which break down into glycans—are both prebiotics for our beneficial bacteria and decoys for pathogens. And, to be honest, this makes sense since the mucins that make up the digestive tract are glycans too!

Glycoconjugates and glycogen are concentrated in specific organs that are rarely eaten in Western societies, and they are easily denatured by cooking. For instance, if we look at the “nutrition information” for a traditional “food” like raw blood, we will see that it contains almost no carbohydrates. But, as Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet explain, this can be misleading.

From: The Perfect Health Diet, By Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet (2012)

A relatively lean 154-pound “reference man” is composed of…the following macronutrient distribution:

Body Component  Mass (kg)  Energy (kcal)  Energy Fraction
Fat             13.5       121,500        73.2%
Protein         10.6       42,400         25.6%
Glycogen        0.5        2,000          1.2%

However, this would be misleading. Fat and protein are complex molecules that are not burned for energy directly. Both fat and protein actually contain some carbohydrate.

The elemental forms of fat, protein, and carbohydrate that feed into energy metabolism—fatty acids , amino acids, and glucose—are not allowed to roam freely in the body because they are chemically reactive and would be toxic. Instead, they are found in more complex molecules

Fat is present in the body as triglycerides and phospholipids. When these molecules are broken down for energy, 85 to 90 percent of the calories is in the form of fatty acids, 10 to 15 percent is the form of glucose assembled from their glycerol backbones. Protein also consists of complex molecules. Many of the proteins in the human body are “glycosylated,” meaning they are composed of sugars bonded to amino acids. In some there is more sugar than amino acids. For example, mucin-2, the main protein of digestive tract mucus, is 80 percent sugar and 20 percent amino acids by weight.

If we break down fats and proteins into their constituent fatty acids, amino acids, and sugars, the energy profile of a lean human body would look something like this.

Body Component     Energy (kcal)    Energy Fraction
Fatty acids        106,900          64.4%
Amino acids        37,300           22.5%
Carbohydrate       21,700           13.1%

Anyone eating freshly removed raw skin, raw rectum or raw testicles these days? I suppose now we know why the Hadza have an affinity for underdone Impala colon—it’s full of glycans.

In addition to relatively small amounts of blood glycogen and blood sugar, the blood protein in particular has at least 150 glycoproteins such as glycophorin, glycocalyx, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa, immunoglobins.

There are carbohydrates, as glycans, attached to glycolipids, glycopeptides, glycine, membrane glycoproteins, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoproteins and mucoprotein, and so on. Proteoglycans found in connective tissue are heavily glycosylated and contain more carbohydrates than glycoproteins. Chondroitin sulfate, a proteoglycan that is a major component of cartilage can have over 100 individual sugars. Type II collagen is a structural glycoprotein found in connective tissue and cartilage as well. Even natural bovine milk whey contains a variety of glycans.

But, as we can see, these carbohydrates are locked up in glycans. And as I mentioned above, glycans tend to be resistant to digestion and can act as prebiotics with all sorts of health benefits that are just beginning to be discovered.

So, if one were to try and obtain glycans from the complex molecules in animals, one would need to somehow preserve the starchy glycogen and sugary glycoconjugates by either eating, freezing or preserving the animals quickly and consuming the parts of the animals that were rich in precious glycogen and glycoconjugates frozen and/or raw.

And, what do you know. That’s exactly what the Inuit do.


So, here’s something interesting I came across when looking into Eskimo/Inuit diets:

From A manual of dietetics: By J. Milner Fothergill (1886):

Cut off from farinaceous food, the Eskimo rejoices in the liver of the walrus, with its glycogen, or animal starch.

Sounds like Eskimos craved “animal starch” (glycogen). How else did they obtain glycogen?

From JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 57, 1912:

…The natives have empirically found a remedy for the scurvy, namely, chewing the skin of the narwhal, the unicorn-whale. He describes research, with illustrations, showing that the skin of this fish contains a remarkable amount of glycogen, thus supplying sufficient quantities of a carbohydrate to cure the scorbutus. The walrus liver also contains much glycogen.

The Inuit call whale skin mattaq or muktuk and it’s a good source of glycogen and Vitamin C. In addition to the high glycogen content of the fresh postmortem skin, few people seem to be aware that blubber isn’t just fat. It tends to have significant levels of carbohydrates. For instance, the posterior, dorsal blubber of a sperm whale is 25% carbohydrates.

From Body composition of the sperm whale, Physter catodon, with special references to the possible functions of fat depots:

The largest component of the blubber, regardless of body site, is usually either water or lipid. The water component is higher in the anterior sites, whilst the lipid is often greater in the middle and posterior sites, the maximum content of either component being about 60%. Protein is an important component, and attains up to 35% in the anterior blubber of the head, and rather less elsewhere. Carbohydrate level apears to be very significant throughout most of the body blubber.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, most nutritionists and doctors who use the Inuit as an example of “zero” carb diets never bothered to accurately measure the macronutrients of Inuit staples. Blubber also contains all sorts of glycosated collagen fibers.

From Vitamin C in the Inuit diet: past and present:

Peter Freuchen, a Danish doctor and member of the 5th Thule expedition based at Melville Peninsula from 1919-1925, wrote in his notebooks that when a whale was brought to the beach at Repulse Bay everyone feasted on the skin until their jaws became too sore to continue. He speculated that the ‘large quantities’ eaten were due to its “excellent cure for scurvy and answers a simple craving of the system” (Freuchen 1935;422).

Does this sound like a culture that shuns carbohydrates? No, it sounds like a culture that is starving for carbohydrates and doing everything they could to obtain them.

From Western Diseases, Their Emergence and Prevention: By Hubert Carey Trowell, Denis P. Burkitt, 1981:

Internal organs are rich in glycogen and skin and gut epithelium are composed largely of glycoproteins.

Makes me wonder what whale skin tastes like.

From The Last Kayak-Men:

Mattaq” is the inuit name for whale-skin, and is undoubtfully the Eskimos snack no. 1. Due to the successful hunt, there will for sure be celebration tonight…This raw whale-skin, which is full of Vitamin-C, had a sweet nut-like taste, and taste in fact much better than it looks like.

Of course it’s sweet — it’s rich in carbohydrates and they love the taste. It’s clear that the Inuit prized their “animal starches” — they craved them.


The Inuit ate plants as well, when they were available. As Tim Steele will tell you firsthand, Alaska is not a barren wasteland devoid of plants. Berries, seaweed, nuts, corms, and tubers are found everywhere in Alaska.

They also ate lots of “mouse food” (see photo), which are caches of seeds and roots and foods that mice gathered for the Winter. This would including “Yupik potatoes” which were gathered in the Fall and consumed by the Inuit over the Winter.

Many well known Arctic researchers who observed the arctic, such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson, either weren’t around long enough to observe their importance in the Inuit diet, or decided to embellish or skew their findings to promote their hypotheses:

From: Contributions To The Ethnobotany of The St. Lawrence Island Eskimo

It seems to us that the relationship between the Eskimo and his environment was more encompassing than investigators in the Arctic usually acknowledge.

You think?

Seaweed is a tremendous source of prebiotics and are laced with microbes that love to eat those prebiotics. However, seaweed was often dried and boiled to aide the breakdown of the seaweed’s polysaccharides into simpler, more digestible sugars.

The Inuit had access to mussels year round, risking their lives to go beneath dangerous ice heaves to collect them when tides permitted in Winter. And guess what mussels store up for Winter? Yep, it’s glycogen.

From Behavioral and Physiological Responses of Freshwater Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida) to Variations in Stream Discharge by Samrat Saha:

Glycogen is considered the primary energy reserve in mussels (De Zwann and Zandee, 1972). Glycogen concentration in the mantle is about twice the protein concentration and fifteen times the lipid concentration (Greseth et al., 2003)

So, how many carbs did the inclusion of glycogen-rich animal parts and plant starches provide for the Inuit?

From: Alaskan Arctic Eskimo: high fat diet (Ho KJ et al 1972)

The Point Hope inhabitants represent one of the few remnants of the Eskimo whale, sea, and walrus hunting cultures in the world…Average total daily caloric intake was approximately 3,000 kcal [calories] per person, ranging from 2,300 to 4,500 kcal. Approximately 50% of the calories were derived from fat and 30 to 35% from protein. Carbohydrate accounted for only 15 to 20% of their calories, largely in the form of glycogen [animal starch] from the meat they consumed.

Hmm, 15 to 20% carbs. That’s the equivalent of almost a pound of potatoes a day for someone eating 2,000 calories/day. But the Inuit were eating an average of 3,000 calories a day (just warming up the air they breathe takes 1,000 calories and warming up the frozen food they eat takes another 300 calories.). So, the average Eskimo was eating the carbohydrate equivalent of 1.2 pounds of potatoes a day! That would certainly explain the mysterious “absence of ketosis” in Eskimo populations (confirmed here and here as well).

Aged meats, raw animal starches and raw glycoconjugates. Speaking of raw food. Did you know that the word “Eskimo” means “eaters of raw meat” in Algonkian languages? It was actually a derogatory term, which is why “Inuit” is the preferred name of the indigenous peoples of the North American Arctic.

They Eat That? Jonathan Deutsch Ph.D., Natalya Murakhver, 2012

When eating walrus, the blubber and meat is aged, boiled, or eaten raw, while the liver is generally eaten raw. The outer covering of the walrus, including the skin and blubber (called maktaaq amount the Inuit), is also eaten raw or aged.

Raw seal blood, full of glycans, was also consumed. Within minutes of consumption, one could see their veins expand and darken and feel a dramatic warmth flow through them.

Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept By Edward Howell, 1985

Dr. W.A. Thomas, physician with a polar expedition to Greenland wrote: “The diet of the Greenland Eskimo includes the meat of whale, walrus, seal, caribou, musk ox, arctic hare, polar bear, fox, ptarmigan, birds and fish, all eaten usually and preferably raw.”

Dr. I.M. Rabinowitch was a member of early Canadian expeditions to study the life, customs, and health of the Canadian Arctic Eskimo. He reported that meat was eaten raw and that the livers of practically all animals except the white bear were eaten. Meat was cached and eaten in an autolyzed state, and the contents of the stomachs of walrus and caribou were used.

What was so special about those aged, “cached” meats and how did they provide some carbohydrates for the Inuit? Stay tuned for Part 2, where we explore the health benefits of eating rotting animals and the Masai’s penchant for carbohydrates.


I can feel heads spinning. What annoys me the most is that if, indeed, zero carb or VLC diets are optimal in someone’s view, then just make a case. This research, that Duck dug up, has been available to the LC gurus for many years—many who have chosen to ignore or misrepresent it for a short-term dietary thing that when not applied cautiously like a drug, harms a whole lot of people long term and some, perhaps irrevocably.

It was only when I felt for myself—at 175 pounds, down from 245, at 48yo— that “this cannot be right,” that I knew absolutely something was wrong and I was not going to let it go. I should have felt top of world but I felt like shit and all health issues were pretty peripheral. Lethargic, cold hands and feet, and yet I was cooking up the biggest storm of my life (check my food porn from 2008/9). …Fortunately, still woke up to a hard cock. So there’s that.

Alright, we’ve got Part 2 tomorrow. I figured you’d want to digest 6,000 words in 2 bites.

Any suspense?

…OK, one poke: It’s interesting to consider that obligate carnivores like African cats, Hyenas, Dogs, and Northern Wolves are eating far more carboydrtate than Charles Washington and his happless band of Zeronig-In Costco Meat and Bulk Bottled Water Dopes are. :)

Update: Part 2


  1. Paleophil on March 5, 2014 at 19:20

    Thanks for all the effort put into this, DuckDodgers and Tim. I looked into this a bit in the past, but not nearly as thoroughly. It’s great to have a resource like Tim on the scene up there in Alaska. This should help with open-minded chronic VLCers. The dogmatic ones will no doubt come up with more excuses, which have been getting more and more ridiculous.

    One thing I did find in the past was hints that there may have been so much of a love of animal starch (though it could also be explained by desperation during periods of scarcity) by coastal Eskimos and other peoples in the past that some developed hypervitaminosis A from eating starch- and fat- rich animal foods that were also rich in vitamin A:

    “Eskimo nutrition provides abundant sources of vitamin A and lays the probable basis in some individuals for hypervitaminosis A through ingestion of livers, kidneys, and fat of arctic fish and mammals, where the vitamin often is stored in poisonous quantities.”Pibloktoq (hysteria) and Inuit nutrition: possible implication of hypervitaminosis A, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4049004

    “Fossilized skeletal remains of early humans suggest that bone abnormalities may have been caused by hypervitaminosis A (17, 18). From these and other reports, vitamin A toxicity is known to be an ancient phenomenon.” The acute and chronic toxic effects of vitamin A1,2,3,4,

    Maybe Tim could do a video interview with an Inuit elder about the starch- and prebiotic- rich traditional Eskimo foods and post it on Youtube? It would be nice to be able to direct people to something like that.

    • tatertot on March 5, 2014 at 20:31

      Lots of that being done. The Alaska Federation of Natives meets here in Fairbanks every other year and we also host the WEIO (World Eskimo Indian Olympics) Great videos on this site! Check out the ear pulling competition.

      What kills me is what passes for traditional now. ‘Traditional’ recipe for preserving salmon roe:
      – Salt
      – Soy Sauce
      – Canola Oil
      – Sugar

      Yeah, right!

    • gabriella kadar on March 6, 2014 at 01:24

      Charles Bourdain eating Seal with an Inuit family.

    • DuckDodgers on March 5, 2014 at 20:28

      I came across that when I was researching this. I’ve heard that polar bear liver is one of the worst offenders and you’ll notice in one of the quotes, above (from Rabinowitch), that they knew enough about it to avoid the liver of the “white bear”.

    • Paleophil on March 6, 2014 at 04:22

      Yes, I have seen that one with Anthony Bourdain. Thanks for the reminder, as I remember one of the sweet grannies saying that the brain (which contains some animal starch as well as fats) is the best part of the seal.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2014 at 19:59

      What Tim, you’re never heard of traditional canola oil?

    • David on March 7, 2014 at 08:26

      They’re all farm raised these days. Wild canolas are rare and protected.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2014 at 19:39

      I got an email just today.

      Canolas may be going on the endangered species list. Prepare to pay more,

    • W on March 13, 2014 at 03:07

      Chris Masterjohn has debunked that aetiology of pibloktoq here:

    • Paleophil on March 31, 2014 at 16:18

      Yeah, I wasn’t convinced of the vitamin A connection to Pibloktoq either. What I was getting at was not that Pibloktoq is definitely caused by hypervitaminosis A, but that the linking of them suggested that the scientists were aware of hypervitaminosis and liver consumption among Eskimos. My hunch is that it didn’t only occur in acute overdoses, but also with chronic overconsumption, and maybe more the latter among cultures with precautionary traditions, but it’s just a hunch.

      Here’s the correct URL for the other source – – which noted evidence of hypervitaminosis A in fossilized skeletal remains of a Homo erectus, the earliest hominin with evidence of extensively hunting and butchering megafauna. The original source is here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v296/n5854/abs/296248a0.html Vitamin A from bee brood and yaws infection were also posited as sources of the problem, but those hypotheses didn’t pan out.

      Thanks for pointing to the Masterjohn article, which fits better with my hunch re: chronic hypervitaminosis A than the pibloktoq paper:
      “The Inuit consider polar bear liver safe as long as the membrane is removed and consider seal liver, which contains half as much vitamin A, safe to eat in unlimited quantities. If vitamin A were the toxic component of polar bear liver, the cultural prohibition against eating the membrane would therefore be useless. Finally, vitamin A toxicity generally accompanies chronically high intakes over time, usually of chemically altered supplemental forms, whereas the hysterical episodes found among the Inuit are acute and sporadic.”

      If hypervitaminosis A did occur in H. erectus in Kenya, then it may be possible to get it from overconsumption of certain animal livers, and not just those of polar bears. The evidence is scant and controversial, though.

  2. Mart on March 5, 2014 at 20:49

    sorry Richard, but this simply doesn’t translate to practical eating habits even rich people could follow. Or would want to. No matter how rich I am or sick and dying I am – I am not drinking freshly dead warm seal’s blood or eating raw walrus liver. Would you – honestly?

    • DuckDodgers on March 5, 2014 at 21:00

      Nobody is advocating that diet. The point of the post is simply to dispel the longstanding myth that some cultures, such as the Inuit, supposedly consumed no carbs.

    • tatertot on March 5, 2014 at 21:49

      But many, many people are eating nothing but chicken breast, bacon, and eggs because they think the Inuit ate that way. They didn’t.

    • Eugenia on March 6, 2014 at 00:07

      I don’t see why I wouldn’t eat these. Just a few months ago I ate lamb testicles. It’s all an idea that you have in your head based on your cultural programming. Leave the programming behind, and free yourself. Eat what makes sense for each situation and place and paradigm.

    • La Frite on March 6, 2014 at 00:24

      Wow, relax man! I bet if you were “dying” and had only that to eat, you would. You would then probably find out that it would restore your health to some extent.

      I would definitely eat anything that fits in a context. The luxury of choice is only that: a luxury …

    • Paleophil on March 6, 2014 at 04:26

      Mart wrote: “No matter how rich I am or sick and dying I am – I am not drinking freshly dead warm seal’s blood or eating raw walrus liver.”

      Nor would most people, so the point that Duckdodgers and Tatertot and others have been making is that it’s much easier to eat starchy plant foods than to eat nose-to-tail like the Inuit did (and inland Inuit also consumed some starchy plants like Eskimo potato).

    • Paleophil on March 6, 2014 at 04:26

      …and not only nose-to-tail, but fresh and raw!

    • gabriella kadar on March 6, 2014 at 06:10

      That’s the interesting thing on the Bourdain video. The people took the carcass home immediately, consumed it while it was probably still warm, so the meat was soft and contained lots of glycogen. Sweet meat. The Gauchos in Argentina do/did the same thing with cattle when out on the range. The meat is barbecued before it can become tough from lactic acid production.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2014 at 08:29

      “sorry Richard”

      Sorry Mart, but looks like everyone already swept up in my absence.

    • David on March 8, 2014 at 07:47

      +1, QuantumHound. Do we do plus one’s here?

      What a fascinating line of exploration. While we were busy doing other things, new forms of life have emerged all around us. It was not Skynet or the Internet becoming self aware and turning on us in violence. No: they need us.

      Multinational corporations will outlive us all. Legal systems, too. (Are there other examples?) Both have grown far beyond the ability of humans to control or even comprehend them and have already demonstrated a knack for outlasting and surpassing the cultures and societies which birthed them.

      To a skeptic I would ask: what qualities or characteristics of “life” do these entitles NOT possess?

    • David on March 8, 2014 at 07:48

      +1, QuantumHound. Do we do plus one’s?

      What a fascinating line of exploration. While we were busy doing other things, new forms of life have emerged all around us. It was not Skynet or the Internet becoming self aware and turning on us in violence. No: they need us.

      Multinational corporations will outlive us all. Legal systems, too. (Are there other examples?) Both have grown far beyond the ability of humans to control or even comprehend them and have already demonstrated a knack for outlasting and surpassing the cultures and societies which birthed them.

      To a skeptic I would ask: what qualities or characteristics of “life” do these entitles NOT possess?

  3. PaleoJew on March 5, 2014 at 13:41

    Great piece! I think we can start calling strict paleoistas “diet deniers”

    • whisperingsage on March 31, 2018 at 10:30

      I guess all it proves is that some carbs are better than others. Ha! Are you aware than when the Inuit come down to the lower 48 and eat the refined crap, their health advantages go away? And some get fat? But better understanding may come from Joel Wallach’s Dead Doctors Don’t Lie, and his Rare Earths, Forbidden Cures, he discusses the 5 (actually 10, some are closer together on the same mountains) centenarian cultures who share 60 to 72 microminerals in their Glacial milks, and that really is the secret to their health and longevity- abundant 60 minerals, and very abundant calcium/magnesium compared to even the longest lived civilized cultures, the Okinawans (who by the way are big pork eaters which researcher “forget” to mention. All the centenarian cultures are meat eaters too. and all of them use glacial milk to irrigate , their growing seasons are short because of their elevations, which should give me a challenge to quit whining, and find solutions for my short season. (the lowest of the elevations was 4000 feet , which is what I am at.)

      I learned last year that the advantage to the mediterrenean diet is mostly due to their decent limestone based soils, and since the USA has only been harvesting our minerals (through crops) and only returning NPK (not 60 minerals or even 5 including Cal/Mag) , to the soils, we are not seeing our Mediterranean eating populations enjoy the same health. I am lucky enough to watch and trying to assist a 70 yr old proud of her Mediterrenean Diet and yet wracked with horrible arthritis, too weak to do anything with her hands, having weekly vomiting sessions at night, loss of most of her teeth, frail and occasionally paralyzed such that suddenly she can’t move. I am investing in the mighty 90 for her and the 60 minerals and see how that helps her. It is helping me. And my horrible cats. My friend also has decided to forge meat which doesn’t help her frail weight issues (below 90 lbs now. )She needs a flake of hay daily to get enough calories to make up for loss of animal protein.

  4. Wilbur on March 5, 2014 at 14:26

    This is a nice coincidence. I am reading “Gulp: adventures on the Alimentary Canal” (fascinating and very well written so far). The author spent time with the Inuit, and one item she reported that they ate were “Artic Greens.” These were the fermented moss and lichens that were the former stomach contents of hunted Caribou. “Moss and lichen are hard to digest, unless, like caribou, you have a multichambeted stomach in which to ferment them. So the Inuit let the caribou have a go at it first.”

  5. Craig on March 5, 2014 at 14:29

    I remember reading a story as a kid, now 52 years of age, about meat as sweat as sugar. For life of me can’t remember where.

    • Craig on March 5, 2014 at 14:32

      I mean sweet as sugar

    • Harriet on March 5, 2014 at 23:04

      I remember as a teenager complaining to my mother that she had put sugar in the venison stew. She swore she hadn’t but I didn’t believe her. But perhaps it was just the glycogen.

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 07:14

      Well, unless you were served freshly killed raw meat, I’m not sure it was the glycogen :)

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 08:47

      Here we go, Paul Jaminet explains why we likely evolved a taste for sweetness and how that affects our perception when tasting meat:

      Why Did We Evolve a Taste for Sweetness?

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 08:55

      Jaminet’s post really matches up well with what we saw with the Inuit. They craved the sweetest parts of the sweetest animals because of nutritional deficiencies. Their bodies were telling them to eat those parts.

      The best part of Jaminet’s article is his reference to Richard:

      Paul Jaminet said:

      So red meats are sweetest. Richard Nikoley would approve.

      I’d be willing to bet 100% of VLCers crave sweet red meats. Their bodies are demanding it.

    • Harriet on March 7, 2014 at 00:39

      Yes, freshly killed that day – though we ate it for a week. We didn’t have a freezer back then.

  6. Karen on March 5, 2014 at 14:50

    Interesting in regards to dogs. This winter, I was having trouble keeping weight on my herd of Goldens which eat raw chicken leg quarters (bones & all) as the basis of their diet with other stuff – organ meats, eggs, ground beef, raw whole mackeral, etc. – added in. I started making them a “porridge” which has consisted mostly of lentils, oatmeal, & rice. They have put on weight and their coats are healthier feeling. Now I’m also feeding them coconut oil but I think the ‘carbs’ have helped. Guess I’m not such a radical “Dogs eat meat, bones, & offal” person anymore.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2014 at 07:49


      After much frustration with our old Rat Terrier EPI dog on EVO (kibble and caned, with the pig pancreas powder mixed in) we did our own thing with rotisserie chicken, steamed vegetables and rice cooked in chicken stock. He had started to reject food, now scarfs it up. He had become to be quite restless, walking around, drinking excess water, etc. Now nice & clam again.

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 08:22

      Perhaps most people know this already, but I came across a good explanation as to how dogs were domesticated. As nomadic HGs travelled they would leave behind scraps (and their poo with undigested bits of food) that hungry wild canines would eat. And these packs of canines eventually evolved to eat the leftovers and refuse of these nomadic HGs. Over millennia, a symbiotic relationship evolved and at some point these dogs must have gained the trust of humans. And here we are after even more millennia of breeding the dominance out of them.

    • Karen on March 6, 2014 at 09:51

      As I try not to watch some of my dogs scarf up poo in the backyard (yuck!), I’ve come to realize that ‘trait’ was probably a player in humans and dogs joining up together. The dogs probably helped keep living areas clean by eating human poo plus wastes from other animals and kills.

    • Leslie on March 16, 2014 at 07:31

      I feed my cat a raw food diet (meat including bones and organs, some brands with veggies added), and now I’m wondering if I should add some sort of carbohydrate to it to make up for a lack of glycogen. Any insight from any other cat owners here?

    • whisperingsage on March 31, 2018 at 10:37

      I was going to say coyotes in the wild would get their “salad” from eating the guts of the rabbits, but I live right in the sagebrush with them, and from what I can tell from their kills, they leave the guts aside, whole. Now they are getting glycogen from liver, heart etc, and those have co Q 10 and B complex, and various other goodies too. We keep meat based kibble available for convenience sake, for our dogs, but make sure they get regular raw eggs (it takes a TON of raw eggs to cause the biotin deficiency thing, which would make sense because we know wolves and coyotes don’t stop and light a fire and cook) , raw whole rabbits (my own raised herd) , goat sheep and lamb organs, raw milk (carbs there) and chicken livers, hearts, heads, feet.

  7. CDLXI on March 5, 2014 at 15:33

    @ craig

    It was most likely a type of smoked salmon or could have been whale fat eaten raw. I grew up on it because my dad was 1/2 Inuit. I wouldn’t say it was as sweet as sugar but it definitely had a sweetness to it.

    • craig on March 5, 2014 at 16:28

      I think your are right, since I couldn’t find the reference in Goggle Schloar, it my have been a PBS Show on the Inuit culture.

    • Hemming on March 6, 2014 at 01:50

      Have you also noticed that raw liver and the juices from it have a sweet taste too?

  8. tatertot on March 5, 2014 at 15:43

    Good job, Duck!

    Muktuk is an interesting food. I’ve had it many times, it is shared freely when available. The Eskimos love to share their food, a whale is a community food. Muktuk is served in small cubes, half fat/half skin. The skin is about 1/4″ thick and tough as leather. The fat is about 3/4″ thick and like butter. It’s always soaked in whale or seal oil, which can be a bit fishy, but it is fun to chew on and not bad.

    It reminds me of the chunk of fat in a can of pork-n-beans, but glued to a strip of a shoe sole.

    • Ann on March 7, 2014 at 07:35

      Tim – do they just chew the skin and then discard it, or do they actually swallow it? I realize the fat is consumed, but no one here has actually said they do anything but “chew” it. I’m assuming it gets discarded once the fun is dun?


    • DuckDodgers on March 7, 2014 at 08:22

      Tim can clarify, but everything I’ve read says they eat it, usually raw:


  9. doogiehowsermd on March 5, 2014 at 15:52

    Still TL;DR. Can you just put in the first line what we should/shouldn’t do after reading an article? For example, with the Tiger Nuts article you could just write: “you should eat Tiger Nuts – they taste good and have RS”.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2014 at 15:57


      no help here, man. Get your own kibbles & bits. :)

    • gabriella kadar on March 5, 2014 at 16:15


      Food culture. Get back to ‘de roots, mon’.

    • doogiehowsermd on March 5, 2014 at 16:19

      I’m kidding of course – I think I’ve read almost everything you and your commenters have written here and on honestylog.com along with many of your comments on other blogs.

    • Paleophil on March 5, 2014 at 18:24

      Yeah man, big up ground provisions!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2014 at 08:18

      I knew you were kidding, doogie.

      So you go as far back as HonestyLog, eh? That’s pre-2008. How many go as far back as UncommonSense? That would be pre-2005, I think.

  10. gabriella kadar on March 5, 2014 at 16:12

    Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

    Duckie, Tim and Richard: take my breath away. Wow!

    So people noshing on boneless skinless chicken breast: read and weep!

    I love it! I’m sure you guys realize how important this is to inform so many people about the reality of real life. All those people around the world who eat the feet, the skin, the internal organs, the brains of animals have it totally right. All those people who say ‘oh gross’ are entirely out of it.

    Bravo! Bravissimo! Encore!

  11. DuckDodgers on March 5, 2014 at 17:24

    Big thanks to Tim Steele for his input with Inuit plants, mouse food and mussel mining.

    For those who may have missed it, this is one of the most beautiful and most dangerous harvests you will ever witness:

    BBC: Inuit’s risky mussel harvest under sea ice

    Totally insane the lengths they went to, and the risks they took, just to harvest fresh glycogen. Amazing.

  12. gabriella kadar on March 5, 2014 at 18:20

    Okay, but I still don’t support the killing of whales and dolphins by the Japanese.

    I’ve eaten Muktuk too when I was a kid. But still and all, for me, if Innu/Innuit/Eskimo require whale to be healthy, fine. We can find substitutes.

    • QuantumHound on March 8, 2014 at 03:04

      I’d say the problem lies, as usual, in the industrial machine. Where the Inuit are a whale populations natural predator, they do not over hunt and cause real population damage.

      In pretty much all mining/hunting/farming, true damage starts being born after industrial scales are reached. Smaller communities/companies working together have to deal with their neighbours, their environment and observing the negatives of all excess damage they cause. Synthetic super-lifeforms like large corporations do not have empathy for anything, nor are they capable f feeling it in any form as they are not pack animals. Any single human being “doing their job” as a part of a larger whole is acting as a single cell within the non-physical lifeform that is the great employer, and as such easily has their own judgement superseded by the will of whatever powers that be for them. Easy analogy could be found in European history but that card is so played I refuse to bring up Godwin’s law so early in any discussion.
      The point I’m trying to make is that in my honest opinion we cannot blame many of the people involved with the “evils” that their corporate/governmental/religious master is perpetrating. Instead I’d like to see more recognition of the reality that large organisations are non-corporeal living things with their own needs and fights for survival. No single part of that system would probably condone of everything being done if they truly had an understanding of everything going on. But with large organisations no-one can ever truly grasp what all is happening as these creatures are so much larger than us and even with modern technology it’s impossible to stay up to date with research as well as every movement of every component. And as we are, as conscious beings, pretty much a side product phenomenon of all the information going on to keep a bunch of cells and organs alive whilst having an ability have a perception of past, future and present time to navigate this patch of space-time. I’d would argue that some form of behavioral pattern could be deduced for large corporations. These huge lumbering entities with no need to reproduce, but only consume and grow.

      Treating the problems of allowing these entities to exist by attacking the people involved instead of finding ways to deal with these pests is like eating thickening agent to deal with diarrhea, when the true problem is an imbalance in the gut-biome.

      Attacking symptoms is absolutely futile and might even just help mask the true underlying cause.

      PS. Hope you don’t mind, I was just gonna write about whale hunting but then I got a bit carried away after recently reading the post on bitcoins etc.
      Love the blog! RS is fantastic, my gut/skin/hair haven’t been this good in years and Gabriella, you seem like on smart cookie as well :)

      Love from Finland

  13. Ellen on March 6, 2014 at 11:32

    I am on the edge of my seat for each new post!

  14. Dave N on March 5, 2014 at 23:42

    Richard, Tim, DuckDodgers, Dr B.G.,

    This is awe-inspiring. A revelation. I am blown away by the discoveries – or should that be recoveries (of an existing but long-neglected body of knowledge) – you are making in your research. This is what science should be: unbiased, open-minded, with that sense of wonder that you all obviously have.

    You guys are so far ahead of mainstream “nutritionism” that you – and your readers with you – have taken a leap into a completely new and exciting paradigm.

    Paleo, or the dogmas associated with it, is now officially paleo: ancient history!

    I look forward to what more is to come on this topic at FTA. Needless to say, I am trying to pass on as much of this as I can to my students in my work as a high school teacher of Food and Nutrition here in New Zealand.

  15. Paleophil on March 6, 2014 at 15:12

    Another traditional Paleo food, insects, also has glycogen (animal starch) and glycans:
    – INSECT FAT BODY: ENERGY, METABOLISM, AND REGULATION, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3075550
    – Comparing N-glycan processing in mammalian cell lines to native and engineered lepidopteran insect cell lines,

    Scientists currently believe that the common ancestor of all mammals was likely an insectivore – Protungulatum Donnae:
    Scientists Uncover Common Ancestor of All Mammals,

    So it’s not surprising that humans would thrive on animal starch and similar plant starches, especially given that beneficial gut bacteria help process the starches.

    Given the choice between eating raw organs and insects vs. starchy plant foods, I’ll bet most ex-VLCers will go for the latter. :)

    Richard wrote: “OK, one poke: It’s interesting to consider that obligate carnivores like African cats, Hyenas, Dogs, and Northern Wolves are eating far more carboydrtate than Charles Washington and his happless band of Zeronig-In Costco Meat and Bulk Bottled Water Dopes are.”

    I know that wild cats, hyenas and wolves eat stomach contents (despite the claims by some VLCers that they don’t), and wolves have been observed munching on berries: “Wolves eating berries!,”

  16. SteveRN on March 6, 2014 at 01:56

    Thanks for reminding me of how much I do not know and to keep my mind open and willing to change with the evidence Duck! Richard, I am really enjoying your increase in guest posts. Not because I find your posts lacking, but because you have sense enough to recognize someone who knows what they are talking about, and has something new and exciting to say. It’s your blog, but you are willing to share it with those you deem worthy, a noble trait.

  17. pzo on March 6, 2014 at 04:46

    In my five year food and paleo journey I’ve become increasingly suspicious of assigning reasons traditional people ate certain foods. Come on, the Inuit knew nothing about glycogen, Vitamin C, or macronutriets. The glycogen, whatever the source, was just there.

    It’s like the old saw about Indians eating beans and corn because they had complimentary amino acid profiles. They didn’t know this, nor did they run control experiments of fellow citizens eating only one or the other and discovering they died.

    People eat foods for these reasons: It’s available, they can kill or harvest it, it isn’t toxic. Tasting good helps, but is not required. Bad tastes and bitterness can be a warning of toxicity.

    I’m similarly fed up with reading plants developing phytates to keep animals at bay. First, it obviously doesn’t work real well, plants still get eaten. Second, if it makes the consuming animal ill, it’s too late for the plant. So, how would the surviving plant species be evolving to make phytates?

    Dead, eaten plants can’t evolve.

    It wouldn’t. My guess is that phytates either have another function for the seeds, or they are just along for the ride. Just like all our dead end DNA or our appendix.

    • Chad G on March 6, 2014 at 05:44

      pzo you are missing the point. They were the experiment, the tribes that did not eat that way did not survive in that environment and would either die off or move on, the plant without phytates would get eaten by everything and anything and not reproduce enough to survive. This is generational evolution 1000’s of years 100’s of generations. They did not need to know the chemistry they just needed to do what worked. They were the survivors. The one’s that did not do that did not survive there. A. K. A. evolution.

    • Radford McAwesome on March 6, 2014 at 05:48

      Really? You don’t think ancient Eskimos were out on the ice flows w/ bunson burners and test tubes analysing the vit C and glycogen content of various whale parts? What is that old saying about “Eskimos have 2 dozen different words for inter muscular and liver glycogen”?

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 07:10


      No one is saying that the Inuit knew anything about glycogen or Vitamin C. They ate those foods because they loved the sweet taste and knew it made them feel good. They probably also noticed that people who didn’t eat those foods tended to die or get sick.

      The role of phytates in seeds is to literally inhibit germination until they are degraded by enzymes that get unlocked by a slightly acidic/wet soil, which triggers a “sprout”. So, you eat those inhibitors and either you tolerate them or you don’t.

    • gabriella kadar on March 6, 2014 at 07:14

      Duckie, I don’t know if it’s the phytates, but weevils do not grow in dry pulses. (And whatever other insects enjoy rice and pasta and grain products.) One way to both boost protein content and discourage insect contamination is to mix ground pulses with ground wheat. There’s a flour for roti that contains ground soy and wheat.

  18. Chupo on March 6, 2014 at 05:23

    I just came across this study the other day. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19135464

    Do the McDougallers have it only partially right? Is the healthiest, most diverse gut biome gotten from an omnivorous diet high in RS?

    • gabriella kadar on March 6, 2014 at 07:10

      Chupo, aren’t the McDougallers vegan?

      I don’t think he recommends half cooked potatoes, for example.

      He makes the claim that starch is why the human brain grew, but I think maybe he’s missed the boat on RS from either raw or half raw food sources. I asked a McDougaller about RS and was soundly rebuffed that it’s not necessary. Fermented vegetables do not appear to be part of the program either.

    • Gina on March 6, 2014 at 07:25

      One vegan’s opinion on the McDougall diet, for what it’s worth:

      I don’t think it’s a healthy vegan diet and I think Dr. McDougall is irresponsible. He puts no emphasis on omega-3 fats, B12 supplementation or calcium supplementation. He is also phobic of benign fats (e.g. olive oil) and even health-promoting fats (e.g. nuts). Yes, a vegan diet can provide all of these nutrients, but you would need to drink untreated water for the B-12 (also a good source of cholera!), eat things like cattails for the calcium (yuck) and forage wild seeds for the omega-3 fats.

      My vegan PSA: Avoid soybean, corn and cottonseed oil,;eat 2 tbsp of ground flax a day and take B-12 and calcium.

    • Gina on March 6, 2014 at 07:34

      Hey Gabriella!

      I would guess based on what I’ve read and my experience taking potato starch that most vegans are probably already getting a healthy dose of it, unless they never eat leftovers.

      My vegan n=1 resistant starch supplementation has produced neither side-effects nor noticeable benefits (yet). I’m going to continue it at least until the bag of potato starch is gone to see if any pop up.

    • gabriella kadar on March 6, 2014 at 07:40

      Gina, probably you do. But the recipes on McDougall’s website are dire! So much junkfood. People on the forum are complaining eventually of skin problems, hunger shortly after eating, energy problems.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if just like the Bernstein diet, McDougallers end up with Raynaud’s as well.

    • Gina on March 6, 2014 at 08:18

      Agreed. I think most of the problems are not because of the junk, per se, but due to eating a diet that is only 5% fat. I should add that the McDougall diet also limits beans because they ostensibly have too much protein. It’s a disaster. It’s also a disaster from an ethical standpoint because it makes a vegan diet sound impossibly impractical and unpalatable.

      Dr. Michael Greger (www.nutritionfacts.org) and Jack Norris (www.jacknorrisrd.com) are good advocates for healthy vegan diets.

    • pzo on March 6, 2014 at 13:32

      @ Gina. I only have heard of the McDougall’s because of his TED exposure (no paleo’s need apply!) A few days ago I was bumbling around on the intertubes and came across a posting by Mrs. McDougall. Eat this, don’t eat that. Fair enough. When I came across the claim that animal foods “rot the arteries,” I knew we are talking quack. I guess “Bear” Owsley and the zero carbers never got that message.

      The Zero Carbers and Vegan are the polar opposites of the same thing: nutrition religion. If I had to choose one or the other, I would go with Zero Carb. At least they don’t need to supplement or cheat.

    • Gina on March 6, 2014 at 14:35

      Hi pzo:

      Due respect, I don’t think it’s fair to equate zero carbers with vegans. “Vegan” is not a very descriptive dietary term, since it encompasses the Oreo and potato chip vegans as well as the raw foodists. There’s a lot of space between those extremes. “Vegan” tells you about as much about a person’s diet as does saying someone is an omnivore. Zero carb is far more specific. I do think it’s fair to characterize the raw foodists or fruitarians as zealots akin to the zero carbers.

      The good news is that we don’t have to choose between (insane, IMHO) diets that eliminate an entire macronutrient. It’s possible to avoid eating meat (or, like of many in present company, wheat) without making a religion of it.

    • eternalmonogamy on March 16, 2014 at 04:29

      hey gina i just wanted to let you know the flax you recommend is actually worse than the soy if the reason you are avoiding it is because of the phyto-estrogens!
      soy and flax are the two highest sources of these estrogen-like hormones.
      for anyone that doesn’t believe or believes the concept that they act as estrogen-modulators, please read about the ancient chinese and then read anecdotes about women drinking soymilk.
      the ancient chinese illustrated this warning in their pictographs. they had 5 “sacred grains” like rice and millet for example, for all of these grains besides soy the pictographs emphasized the stems and seeds of the plants, but for soy only the roots were emphasized.
      any search engines’ results will show anecdotes of women drinking soymilk and having their cycles messed with.
      it’s best to play it safe with soy and flax and avoid!

      i felt compelled to warn you because i often see people making this mistake. farmers mistakenly turn to flax when they stop feeding soy and they think they are doing the right thing!
      don’t make that mistake, flax is actually worse than soy!

  19. DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 07:28

    One thing I didn’t mention in the post is that the Jaminets were trying to point out in the The Perfect Health Diet that your body needs to make a lot of glycans. So, one might expect that the body can have trouble keeping up with the production of all those crucial glycans when carbohydrate intake is low.

    And that would explain the dry eyes and reduced mucus production people see when they go VLC. Imagine an Eskimo lacking mucus in such a harsh environment. Probably wouldn’t stay healthy for very long.

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 08:26

      And they call all these glycans in our bodies the “Glycome

      From: Wikipedia — Glycome

      The glycome is the entire complement of sugars, whether free or present in more complex molecules, of an organism. An alternative definition is the entirety of carbohydrates in a cell. The glycome may in fact be one of the most complex entities in nature. “Glycomics, analogous to genomics and proteomics, is the systematic study of all glycan structures of a given cell type or organism” and is a subset of glycobiology…

      … The glycome exceeds the complexity of the proteome as a result of the even greater diversity of the glycome’s constituent carbohydrates and is further complicated by the sheer multiplicity of possibilities in the combination and interaction of the carbohydrates with each other and with proteins. “The spectrum of all glycan structures — the glycome — is immense. In humans, its size is orders of magnitude greater than the number of proteins that are encoded by the genome, one percent of which encodes proteins that make, modify, localize or bind sugar chains, which are known as glycans.”

      We are just scratching the surface of what we know about the glycome.

    • DuckDodgers on March 6, 2014 at 09:03

      And, once again, this is exactly echoes what Jaminet was saying when he responded to Jimmy Moore in 2011:

      Jimmy Moore’s seminar on “safe starches”: My reply

      (emphasis mine)

      Paul Jaminet said:

      Why is so much glucose consumed outside the brain? Immune function (which may utilize significant glucose in people with infections) and glycogen replacement (high utilization in athletes) are two reasons that can be significant in some persons, but IN THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE THE BIGGEST REASON FOR GLUCOSE UTILIZATION IS THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE HUMAN GLYCOME.

      There are about 20,000 human genes and, due to transcriptional variants and manufacture of proteins from multi-gene subunits, about 200,000 human proteins. However, these proteins are subject to various post-translational modifications, chief of which is glycosylation. Over half of all human proteins need to be glycosylated for proper function, and such is the variety of ways in which they can be glycosylated that there are an estimated 2,000,000 compounds in the human glycome.

      These glycosylated proteins coat the plasma membrane of all cells. For many proteins, only glycosylated forms are allowed to leave the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi complexes where they are formed; nonglycosylated forms are ubiquinated and destroyed.

      Nearly every major extracellular molecule has significant carbohydrate content. Glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronan and proteoglycan components such as heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are important building blocks of the extracellular matrix. Proteoglycans in general mediate all intercellular interactions.

      All the body’s lubricating molecules are rich in carbohydrate. Mucins, the most important molecules in mucus, tears, and saliva, are predominantly composed of carbohydrate. Mucin-2, the dominant mucin of the intestine, is 80% sugar by weight.

      Production of hyaluronan alone consumes 5 gm, or 20 calories, of glucose per day. [3] I have been unable to find detailed measurements of daily mucin production, but if mucin constitutes 1.5% of the 400 g daily stool weight, then it consumes 5 gm of glucose per day. Since gut flora can break down and metabolize mucin sugars, this may be an underestimate.

      So: whole body measurements indicate peripheral glucose utilization of around 100 to 150 g (400 to 600 calories) per day in normal humans, and a mere two of the 2,000,000 carbohydrate-containing compounds in the human body account for nearly 10% of that.

    • john on March 6, 2014 at 15:04

      A beautiful post.

      Just last week a research friend sent a 119 page proposal going via Nat. Acad. to consolidate all glyco-products research under a major initiative title ” http://screencast.com/t/7s8CK5RAXj0

    • GTR on March 7, 2014 at 19:07

      @DuckDodgers – hyaluronic acid is a well known anti-aging molecule. It’s abundant in infants and young children and typically degrades with aging. It’s now part of skin lotions and sold as a supplement.


      It may have some cancer-related side effects (wikipedia article), so perhaps the benefits not free. After all children have less cancers, but more rapid cancers than adults, so maybe this “anti-aging” movement would cause analogous behavior in adults?


    • DuckDodgers on March 7, 2014 at 19:55

      Cool! It’s also found in hydrolyzed collagen, which I discussed in Part 2!

      I’m thinking it might be a good thing to take some Great Lakes hydrolyzed collagen in addition to my RS.

    • gabriella kadar on March 8, 2014 at 09:54

      Duckie, why not just make beef bone broth? A huge bag of joint bones (with some marrow and meat attached) costs $1.50. The resulting broth, when cooled, turns into really hard jello. I simmer overnight, let cool a bit, remove all the stuff from it, make it cold and slice.

      Or is that too much work?

    • DuckDodgers on March 8, 2014 at 11:01

      That’s great. I mentioned “bone broths” as being part of the equation in Part 2.

  20. Ulfric Douglas on March 6, 2014 at 09:19

    Mart ; “– I am not drinking freshly dead warm seal’s blood or eating raw walrus liver. Would you – honestly?”

    I answer : hell yeah! I mean, I would certainly eat them, but where do I legally kill a seal or walrus ’round here?
    I don’t think the ‘authorities’ would turn a blind eye to spearing a seal.

    • dpeck on March 6, 2014 at 09:47

      C’mon Ulfric, just head north from your city and there should be plenty of horkers for you to hunt. I think the ‘authorities’ will have no problem turning a blind eye for their legendary Jarl.

  21. Hannah on March 6, 2014 at 09:53

    I really really really f-ing wish that I had not “discovered” paleo years ago when this kind of perspective was not out there. Damn, did people do a convincing job incriminating evil starch and fruit. Why did I listen? I bought the LC paleo stuff hook, line and sinker and ended up unhealthy and took a long time to recover. I hope others find information like this before they ruin their health. I hope we all remember to question everything and use some fucking common sense once in a while. Stay away from my potatoes paleo bloggers!

  22. Avishek on March 6, 2014 at 10:22



  23. Ripken Holt on March 6, 2014 at 11:53

    I’ve finally come around to eating a decent amount of carbs a day. But I do wonder about your carb sources Richard, you really seem to like getting your carbs from beans and potatoes, which I loved, but had stopped eating after reading about the evils of lectins from other people, notably Dave Asprey. Are you not concerned about that at all? Can you explain to me why they aren’t a problem? Thanks

  24. WW on March 6, 2014 at 12:34

    It’s not that the Inuit knew what was good for them other than if one ate certain things they didn’t die and could reproduce.
    Great post!

  25. Christo on March 6, 2014 at 12:37

    The lectin boogy man is a non-issue because of cooking. beans rule. The majority of coffee on the market doesnt have mycotoxins anymore than the peanut butter,its tested for on a regular basis.

  26. […] ← Disrupting Paleo: Inuit and Masai Ate Carbs and Prebiotics, Part 1 […]

  27. shtove on March 6, 2014 at 13:58

    “Fortunately, still woke up to a hard cock.”

    So you’re still getting some?

    (Sry, you left it wide open … hmmm, I’ll stop there.)

  28. Dr. William Davis on March 6, 2014 at 16:12

    A reader brought this post to my attention: It is absolutely brilliant!

    It also consistent with the observation that consumption of tubers, rhizomes and other below ground storage organs have been a component of diet even pre-Homo, dating back 4 million years to Australopithecus, as judged by the appearance of molars designed for grinding. Consumption of such tubers and rhizomes even pre-dates the consumption of the organs and flesh of animals, suggesting that it is indeed something essential to human health.

  29. Carl on March 7, 2014 at 06:17

    Super interesting stuff! I’d be very curious to see what some of the low-carb Paleo proponents like Sisson, Nora Gedgaudas, and others would say about this. Not to mention plain-old low-carb advocates like Tim Noakes, Andreas Eenfeldt, Mike Eades, etc.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2014 at 09:08


      I suspect not much. It’s not poker, after all. In poker, if you wish to make money over time, you have to ‘know when to fold ’em.’ This was the essential virtue I saw with Paleo way back vs. LC. LC is an irrevocable wager. It either pays off (intellectually, I mean) or it doesn’t. It’s very specific. It’s LC. It’s a corner and the bet is that the corner is the right place to be. Everything I see tells me that bet is more wrong than a very wrong thing.

      On the other hand, I try not to beat them up too much because LC suffers from the context of the time in which it came about. Atkins primarily, but many others before him and in terms of SAD, LC is effective because it cuts out much of the harmful stuff—or at least it did until the advent of endless piles of LC junk food.

      Paleo, on the other hand, is open ended in spite of the protestations of the doctrinaires. Paleo is a real thing. It’s never going away—there will always be the Paleolithic era and we know people ate stuff. Figuring out what, is a nice long journey I embrace and love to write above as well as entertain others like Duckie Dodgie who go an extra mile or 26 and 385 yards.

      I just edited a section of the book until 1am lst night talking about what amazing OMNIVORES humans were, and it includes starches—even loads of honey. Right now, it’s the 2-month honey season for the Hadza and they get 95% of their calories from it in that 2 month span.

      Or, the essential difference is the LCers have it ALL FIGURED out and the astute Paleos delight in the reality of only having scratched the surface. Or, in Grant Whore speak, “more research is needed.” :)

    • DuckDodgers on March 7, 2014 at 09:48

      Ditto what Richard said.

      I would also add that those individuals you mentioned used the loose observations of explorers like Vilhjalmur Stefansson to back up their low-carb hypotheses. Stefansson — who had his own low carb hypotheses — made a lot of misleading suggestions about the Inuit and their diet. He did this to get attention.

      The fact that low carb supporters never even bothered to look into the underlying mechanisms of the Inuit’s diet should send up warning flags for you. It wasn’t even discussed. It wasn’t even analyzed in detail. They just made a casual glance at the culture and their animal-derived foods to justify their low carb theories.

    • GTR on March 9, 2014 at 08:59

      @Carl – if you did the calculations you’d see that Sisson “gets away” with his 100 – 150g of carbs per day maintenance mode level. Carbs have about 4 kcal/g, so 150g = 600 kcal. For 2500 kcal/day person this would be 24% of calories from carbs (16% for 100g). This is actually similar to the Inuit levels quited here.

    • Paleophil on March 10, 2014 at 15:17

      Plus, Stefansson reported that Eskimos ate wild potatoes, and that he himself ate potatoes most of his life. An embarrassing fact that you won’t tend to hear from most ZCers or VLCers.

  30. ARSENAL on March 7, 2014 at 08:44

    great article about an ancient human ancestor known as ‘Nutcracker Man’ who lived mainly on a diet of tiger nuts, worms and grasshoppers..


  31. […] a quickie, in advance of Part 2 of the post on how obligate carnivores like African cats, wild pack-hunting dogs and wolves get more carbs that the ket…. BTW, you've all see bears chow down on wild blueberries, but have you see wolves eating […]

  32. Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2014 at 21:17

    “This is an interesting post. But for pre diabetics and diabetics the only thing that matters is that the number on the meter stays below 140 at all times. that is it.”

    Hey V, let me let you in on a little secret. Maybe it’s eve conspiratorial. You know I often delete posts of yours, banned you a time or two, let you back. Total tumultuous, right?

    Well, it’s because somebody needs to be the stupidest commenter on the blog,

  33. Ed Watson on March 14, 2014 at 11:57

    The essential difference is the LCers have it ALL FIGURED out and the astute Paleos delight in the reality of only having scratched the surface. Or, in Grant Whore speak, “more research is needed.”


  34. eternalmonogamy on March 16, 2014 at 04:36

    hey can someone help me out here? i don’t really understand this article.
    is a carb from an animals organ really a carb? i mean i guess you guys are calling it that so it obviously must be a carb if going by a science definition, but come on.
    i just can’t wrap my head around the fact that an animal organ is being called a carbohydrate.

    is someone really going to justify their eating of, say, a potato by saying animal organs have carbs? a carb from a plant and a carb from an animal aren’t the same is my opinion..
    thanks for helping me out if you so choose :D

  35. Richard Nikoley on March 16, 2014 at 08:51

    “is someone really going to justify their eating of, say, a potato by saying animal organs have carbs?”

    No, you eat a potato because it has starch, a good thing for most people at sane amounts (consult perfect health diet, Sisson’s carbohydrate curve). Same with rice, legumes, etc. When cooked and cooled, they will also have some measure of resistant starch as well.

    Rather, the thrust of this piece is that VLC and ketogenic dieters can no longer justify their starvation-mode levels of carbohydrate on the basis of obligate carnivores eating zero carb. The carbs in a fresh kill are real. Glycogen (in liver and muscle) is the storage form of glucose and when a kill is fresh it’s at it’s highest level, so the carnivores are getting the most benefit.

    • Eric Potratz on April 12, 2014 at 11:06

      Yes, glycoproteins are real, but very different from potatoes (especially cooked potatoes).

      I think the highlight here is that our diet is missing valuable animal based glycoproteins (long-chain carbohydrate structures) such as heparin, dermatan, and chondroitin sulfates. These aren’t found in the cooked potatoes, rice, legumes so these aren’t a fair comparison. The avoidance of these carbohydrates continues to be a good idea.

      • Jack Freeman on September 22, 2016 at 13:25

        Great point. Not surprised it wasn’t responded to…

      • Richard Nikoley on September 22, 2016 at 13:36

        Does your pussy hurt, Jack?

        The comment is fucking stupid

        “Potatoes don’t have this thing that might be good, so don’t eat them”

        I don’t respond to fucktardeness like that. I do, however respond to those like you who take the bait and expose your bias and stupidity.

        Feel stupid.

  36. Zero carbs... - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2 on March 19, 2014 at 09:50

    […] ever practiced either diet. (If you think the Inuit of Masai were anything close to zero-carb, read this and this.) Reply With […]

  37. […] my 2-Part "Duck Dodgers" series: Disrupting Paleo: Inuit and Masai Ate Carbs and Prebiotics (Part 1 and Part […]

  38. […] The poster child Inuit do indeed get carbohydrate, above 50g per day on average, from "meat sugar" (liver and muscle glycogen that's only available in appreciable amounts when fresh and raw). See more here. […]

  39. […] as yupik potatoes, boiled polysaccharide-rich seaweed, glycogen-rich winter mussels. See the Disrupting Paleo series for a more indepth discussion of these foods and their importance in the Inuit […]

  40. […] Disrupting Paleo: Inuit and Masai Ate Carbs and Prebiotics, Part 1 […]

  41. Why is fat a better fuel? - Page 5 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 5 on August 9, 2014 at 21:53

    […] on nearly 100% Fat/protein. This is known and quite true. If by nearly 100% you mean 75%-80%, that's about right. Reply With […]

  42. "Fat Adapted" - Page 4 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 4 on October 10, 2014 at 19:31

    […] amazing lives full of energy due to the suboptimal diet they were forced into by their location. ) 8 miles of hiking after only consuming 25 grams of carbohydrate is only going to cause your body […]

  43. Should I get most of my calories from protein? - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2 on June 18, 2015 at 06:08

    […] As far as I know, yes. Interesting read: Disrupting Paleo: Inuit and Masai Ate Carbs and Prebiotics, Part 1 | Free The Animal I know Richard's blog is rather inflammatory at times and he does like to stir up a fight, but […]

  44. Tanhh on May 15, 2016 at 02:24

    What Basis for this discussion?

    Liver stored 100gm of glycogen, the rest of skeletal muscle stored another 400 – 500gm of glycogen compared to the average weight of a 68kg human, if we minus the skeletal bones, just a guess 50% or 34kg or 34000gm, what is the percentage of glycogen to protein 500/34000 = 1.4% Even if we drop the protein to another 50% say 17kg, the amount of glycogen is less than 3% by weight. Is this not VLC?

    It has also been established in a type one diabetic one ounce of protein will be converted in the liver to one gram of blood glucose via gluconeogenesis.

    Need I say further.

  45. Alexander Svenning on October 12, 2018 at 04:16

    What about when Vilhjalmur was in the hospital being monitored for a year without developing scurvy?

    Thats one year without vitamin-c and he should have developed scurvy by that time….

  46. hi on May 2, 2019 at 17:11

    The scientists in the study you cited used acetone breath tests, which do not work properly for keto-adapted subjects.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 3, 2019 at 09:18


      Inuit are not in ketosis via blood test either. There’s a genetic reason. Read more of the 17-Part series, also visit “Richard Nikoley’s Ketotard Chronicles” on Facebook.

  47. Aika on May 3, 2019 at 21:26

    This is a great read! Diet is a contentious topic and I would recommend to always be our own advocate when it comes to our health. Always get second, third, and fourth opinions and do our own research.

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