Below, I have another Duck Dodgers post for you, derived from a comment on a previous post. But first, you’ll recall a recent post; wherein, I made mention of Part 1 of a Catalyst episode on the gut microbiome: Australian Catalyst: Gut Reaction; It Signals The End of VLC and Ketogenic Diets For Everyone. Part 2 is now up and running. See what happens to the athlete’s insulin response after just a month on a high fiber diet.
In other news, Tom Naughton, who has always been the kind of guy who can change his mind (evident even in how his views changed during his making of Fat Head), has now solidly come over to the The Dark Side. See: Reactions To Arguments About Ketosis.
Alright, here’s Duck.
More nails in the coffin for those who think that it’s possible to stay ketogenic while consuming wild game.
Our concern is with periods of high lean meat (i.e., high protein) consumption, when carbohydrates and animal fat would have been scarce or unavailable to hunters and gatherers as sources of calories… …It should be pointed out, however, that the few minimum values that do exist for wild ungulate meat may nevertheless tend to underestimate somewhat the actual amount of fat available to hunter-gatherers in a carcass, because the values do not include subcutaneous and visceral fat deposits, fat in the bone marrow, and so forth. On the other hand, as will be discussed more fully below, many of these fat reserves may become largely or totally depleted during the winter and spring, bringing the available fat levels more in line with the values for meat alone… ……Second, hunter-gatherers may augment their supplies of storable fat through labor-intensive activities such as rendering bone grease. Preparation of bone grease involves smashing the bone, heavy limb elements as well as lighter vertebrae and ribs, and then boiling the small pieces of bone in water until the grease is extracted. Grease is skimmed off the water and placed in skin containers to harden. Among nomadic groups lacking pottery, the laborious boiling process is accomplished by heating rocks in a fire and transferring them to a perishable container such as a skin bag that contains the broken-up bones (see Binford 1978 for a description of grease rendering). Commonly, the rendered fat is mixed with an equal proportion of pulverized, jerked lean meat to make pemmican, an energy-rich food that can be stored for several years if kept dry (Stefansson 1956:179, 188).
Interestingly, the study points out how carbohydrate starved cultures would often trade fat or carbohydrates:
Trade for fat or carbohydrate with other populations provides another widely practiced alternative. For example, Nunamiut Eskimos who relied heavily on caribou for subsistence annually traded for fat and seaweed with coastal-dwelling Taremiut (Gubser 1965; Spencer 1959; Eidlitz 1969:50). The same situation obtained for inland Athabascan groups who traded skins, blankets, and tools to Eskimo and Northwest Coast populations in return for seal, whale, or oulachen oil (Olson 1936; Birket-Smith and de Laguna 1938; People of ‘Ksan 198089ff.; Kuhnlein et al. 1982).
The study goes on to conclude…
In this paper we have focused on alternative strategies open to hunter-gatherers to cope with nutritional deficiencies which occur seasonally in environments where ungulate meat forms the principal available resource in late winter and spring. In environments where alternative, fattier species such as beaver, raccoon, or migratory waterfowl are normally available in the spring, heavy reliance on lean ungulate meat and its associated nutritional problems might nevertheless occur periodically during “bad” years in which the number of smaller game animals is significantly depressed. It is also possible that such reliance may occur chronically in areas of the subarctic where caribou constitute the primary, year-round subsistence resource (cf. Burch 1972). Thus, while the emphasis of our discussion has been on the consequences of recurrent, winter – spring reliance on ungulate meat, the susceptibility of populations to the deficiencies discussed above actually ranges over a continuum from periodic to seasonal to chronic, depending on the frequency with which lean ungulate meat constitutes a major part of the hunter-gatherer diet. In addition, these same arguments may be extended to situations in which climatic, environmental, demographic, or other changes lead to long-term reductions in available energy. Under such conditions, selection may favor a permanent shift in the subsistence strategies of hunters and gatherers toward greater emphasis on carbohydrate resources. The apparent increase in reliance on plant foods in many parts of the world following the end of the Pleistocene might profitably be explored from this perspective. The greater protein-sparing capacity of carbohydrate under conditions of marginal calorie or protein intake may also help to explain why hunter-gatherers in the early Holocene began to invest time and energy cultivating plants, despite the meager returns many of these cultigens would have provided in their early stages of domestication. Similarly, a long-term increase in the availability of carbohydrates, due, for example, to the introduction of a cultivated plant species, may alter the importance to hunter-gatherers of animal fat, and may lead to permanent changes in the animal species they procure, the parts they select during butchering and processing, the importance of marrow production and grease rendering, and the season of the year they hunt or trap. The inadequacies of a lean-meat diet and the noninterchangeability of fat and carbohydrate clearly open a number of interesting avenues of research that remain to be explored in detail.
As we can see, game meat is just too lean to support ketosis. The idea that you can stay in ketosis from eating wild game, when food is scarce, isn’t supported by the scientific literature. And for those who are still not convinced, here’s a study showing how little fat can be extracted from reindeer/caribou.
Body growth and carcass composition were measured in lean reindeer during the juvenile growth period between birth and 3 years of age. Mean carcass weight in these lean reindeer was 56 ± 4% of body weight and the deposition of body muscle and bone mass was linearly correlated with body weight after the 1st month of age. The weight of the brain relative to body weight and carcass weight declined, while the relative changes in heart, liver, kidneys, parotid glands, and tissues of the gastrointestinal tract were small after the neonatal period. The extractable fat content in carcasses increased from 4.4 to 11.4% of wet weight or approximately 100g fat at birth and 3.5 kg fat in adult reindeer. Fat-free dry matter represented a constant percentage (18–20%) of wet carcass weight independent of body weight after the neonatal period, while a significant inverse relationship between carcass fat and body water was found.
‘Aint science a bitch? The bottom line: there is simply too little fat available in the wild to be in a constant state of ketosis. It requires modern processing to have enough fat at fingertips at all times, 24/7. Everybody has to eat something, so deficiencies are going to be made up by lean protein and/or carbohydrate but most certainly both most of the time.
All this other stuff is Mother Goose Fantasy. Chronic ketosis simply has no basis in any population of earthlings anyone knows about. Ketosis is likely beneficial episodically, i.e., during an intermittent fast, just as we’re metabolically designed by means of evolution.
By the way, does this story sound familiar? If you’re a woman and hit some of the LC/VLC forums, it sure should because these sorts of health problems are epidemic.
August 27, 2014 at 10:18
Hi, I am very new to the idea of RS, but I have been eating VLC for almost 4 years. I lost 80 pounds, but gained back 50, even though I have remained LC for the majority of that time. I have tried many different methods to add carbs back in to my diet, but I can’t seem to get past the 30 grams a day mark. Any time I do, about 30 to 45 minutes after I eat, my heart rate shoots up from my normal 75 bpm to over 100, all while seated. I do not check my blood sugar. I have read some info about incorporating RS into my diet to help my gut bacteria and to possibly allow me to tolerate more carbs in my diet. I already try to incorporate homemade kefir and fermented vegetables in my daily diet, but I now realize eating VLC doesn’t really give the probiotics in the kefir and vegetables much to eat. I would love to use potato starch in my diet, but I have Hashimotos disease and I am supposed to stay away from night shades, so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to eat that. I did buy a jar of Now Foods Nutraflora FOS, thinking it was equivalent to the RS in potato starch, but reading most of the comments here, I realize that it is not. What I would like to know is if the nutraflora will help, or if I should try something else? I would love to be able to not have to eat VLC anymore. I am constantly exhausted, freezing cold and now the only way I can drop any weight is by staying under 1700 calories, in addition to staying under 30 carbs. When I told my endocrinologist about my problems with weight loss, he just prescribed me an appetite suppressant, which is the only way I can stay under 1700 calories. You all seem extremely educated in this realm, so I turn to you for some advice. Thank you
She’s been referred to this recent post on Chris Kresser’s blog: Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health?
May saner minds prevail.