The Comment Dr. Michael Eades Doesn’t Want You To See

Well first, from a best-laid-plans scenario, this was supposed to be the final post in this matter: Lies, Damned Lies, and The Inuit Diet. That’s an excellent background overview. But then, Dr. Mike goes and posts this comment on his ironically titled “Beware the Confirmation Bias” post, that begins in what has become his typical dismissive tone when implying that he just can’t be bothered—but then gets bothered anyway, pretending to be doing everyone a favor.

This whole issue is like a vampire that refuses to die. It would be less aggravating if it were of any consequence, but in my view it isn’t.

Doesn’t he know that Original Vampires can’t be killed? And while I may tend towards the troublesome comportment of Claus, Duck’s conscientious Elijah persona tends to keep me in check. Moreover, what Dr. Eades means by “of [no] consequence” is actually his own insistence on completely avoiding the central point of the whole issue (the mythical very high-fat, ketogenic diet of the Inuit); instead, choosing to focus primarily on glycogen degradation which, while a point, is a minor one (very high protein consumption with attendant gluconeogenesis is The Point).

So with that, here’s Duck’s 10-point rebuttal to Dr. Eades, submitted in his comments about 5 days ago, but still “awaiting moderation.” I held up posting this in order to give a fair chance for him to put it through moderation—so I could merely link to it in a link roundup—but then yesterday, I saw he approved two other comments; so I have to rule out that he was just tied up.


Dear Dr. Eades,

While I appreciate the sentiment of your “confirmation bias” post, there are a number of errors in this post that should be corrected.

1) You cited John Murdoch incorrectly in your comments. His observations did not match up with Stefansson’s as Murdoch observed the Eskimo’s moderate fat intake (as stated in your quote). At Point Barrow he observed their blubber conservation for lamp fuel, low reindeer availability and consumption of seal as a “staple”.

From: Ethnological Results of the Point Barrow Expedition, By John Murdoch (1892)

Page 56: “The most important sea animal is the little rough seal, which is very abundant at all seasons. Its flesh is the great staple of food, while its blubber supplies the Eskimo lamps, and its skin serves countless useful purposes.”

Page 268: “The flesh of the smaller seals forms such a staple of food, and their blubber and skin serve so many important purposes, that their capture is one of the most necessary pursuits at Point Barrow, and is carried on at all seasons of the year and in many different methods.”

Page 264: “Reindeer are comparatively scarce within the radius of a day’s march from Point Barrow, though solitary animals and small parties are to be seen almost any day in the winter a few miles inland from the seacoast.”

Murdoch even went out of his way to make this clear in another paper:

From: On Some Popular Errors in Regard to the Eskimos, by John Murdoch (1887)

“The enormous consumption of fat, supposed to be a physiological necessity to enable them to withstand the excessive cold, is probably the exception rather than the rule, to judge from the accounts of actual observers. It seems quite probable that the amount consumed in most cases is little, if any, greater than that eaten by civilized nations, when we consider that the people who eat the fat of the seal with the flesh and use oil for a sauce to their dried salmon, have no butter, cream, fat bacon, olive oil, or lard.

We found, indeed, at Point Barrow, that comparatively little actual blubber either of the seal or whale was eaten, though the fat of birds and the reindeer was freely partaken of. Seal or whale blubber was too valuable,—for burning in the lamps, oiling leather, and many other purposes, especially for trade.”

Murdoch’s observations clearly disagree with Stefansson’s. And even when they were able to find reindeer, even Stefansson admits that the reindeer are too lean to support ketosis.

2) While it’s true that researchers use liquid nitrogen to eliminate errors in a warm lab environment, it’s been well established that glycogen degradation falls on a curve and is temperature-dependent. The colder the temperature, the slower the degradation. Rigor mortis, which is the process of exhausting glycogen in the muscle to lactic acid, takes hours to complete, and takes a particularly long time in colder temperatures. It’s odd that you don’t mention this.

However, you seem to be unaware that diving marine mammals have even larger glycogen stores than had been previously assumed—particularly in their organs, blubber and skin [1][2][3][4]—and B) marine fish and marine mammals are unique in that they are unusually resistant to postmortem glycogen degradation and can even take days to degrade at 0°C (whales are particularly resistant even at 98°F).

3) Simply pointing out that researchers use liquid nitrogen to freeze glycogen does not tell us what the freezing point of glycogen metabolism is. Studies have shown that fish glycogen degradation can be halted at -10°C, while bovine glycogen degradation can be completely halted for months at -18°C (0°F) according to a 1980 study. Interestingly, some fish don’t easily deplete their glycogen when they struggle. Did you really think that glycogen metabolism can only be stopped by liquid nitrogen? I hope you have evidence to support such a claim.

Nevertheless, the slow degradation of marine-based glycogen has been known for a very long time.

From: Observations On The Glycogen Content of Certain Invertebrates and Fishes, By L.G. Kilborn and J.J.R. MacLeod (1919)

Until recently very little information existed concerning the presence of glycogen in the fishes. That some at least is present in the tissues of marine fish had been shown by Cl. Bernard, Pavy, Brücke, and others. It was stated by Bernard that this glycogen is unusually resistant to the influence of post-mortem changes, and that it does not readily disappear during hunger. During asphyxia, however, the glycogen rapidly disappears.

And, while you are correct that most muscle glycogen degrades via ATP (making at least land-based muscles a poor source of glycogen), you neglected to mention postmortem glyocgenolysis, until now, which is the conversion of glycogen to sugar particularly in non-muscle organs, such as the liver. For instance, glycogen in the liver (which is obviously not a muscle) will degrade via glycogenolysis, converting nearly all of the glycogen into sugar.

Interestingly, blood sugar will actually rise in the body of a dead animal, mainly due to postmortem glycogenolysis and bacterial breakdown of carbohydrates in the tissues and GI tract. When we consider that an average human liver has roughly 100g of glycogen in it, we can see that a liver has the potential to be very sugary. And in fact, universally, livers were eaten quickly and highly prized by hunters in virtually every culture—including the Inuit.

If the Inuit were consuming dietary glycogen (which does happen with carnivores, by the way) they likely got much of it from non-muscle organs, such as skins, hearts, livers and glycogen pools. These happen to be in locations in an animal that do not “contract” in the way that muscles do. For instance, Muktuk (narwhale skin) is said to be rich in glycogen and tastes sweet, like hazelnuts.

I’m unsure why you pointed us in the direction of “post-mortem glycogenolysis” since that was exactly my original point in that some glycogen degrades to sugar postmortem. And the very first study you asked us to look up when searching, “post-mortem glycogenolysis” says, “In all tissues glycogen was degraded rapidly and was accompanied by an increase in tissue glucose and lactate concentrations.” Even your own citations show us that you aren’t telling us the whole story when you say that, “the glycogen to lactic acid conversion upon death is all really basic science, not in dispute by anyone.” Well, actually, it’s clearly more complex than you are letting on. Granted I already pointed this out to you in the beef industry time tables, which you dismissed.

4) You stated that early Inuit researchers didn’t know what keto-adaptation was or how to test for it; however Joslin, Heinbecker, Rabinowitch, DuBois, McClellan and others all wrote about keto-adaptation and used a half dozen approaches to rule it out, including urine testing of acetone, diacetic, and β-hydroxybutyric acid; acetone bodies in the breath; respiratory quotient; as well as documenting protein intake. Their tests were sensitive enough to detect keto-adaptation in the Bellevue Experiment as well as in the Inuit during starvation ketosis, which they even mention in their writing.

5) In the comments, you claimed early 20th century researchers did not know about the speed of glycogen degradation. However, the rapid degradation of glycogen at room temperature was how Claude Bernard discovered glycogen in the first place.

From: Claude Bernard and The Discovery of Glycogen

At this time Bernard’s estimations of the sugar content of extract of liver tissue were made in duplicate by titration with copper reagent of Barreswil, a modified Fehling’s solution. He relates (Bernard, 1865, pp. 2291-295) how one day he was pressed for time and was unable to make his duplicate determinations simultaneously. He made one estimation immediately after the death of an animal and postponed the other until the following day. The second estimation gave a value very much higher than the first, and the difference was so great that Bernard investigated the reason for this discrepancy. Hitherto he had not ascribed significance to the length of time which elapsed between the death of an animal and the determination of the sugar content of the liver tissue. He now found that time was of great importance. Immediately after the death of an animal the liver was found to contain very little sugar, but within only a few minutes the amount of sugar had substantially increased, and at the end of two hours a large quantity had usually made its appearance.

So, from day one, glycogen was known to degrade rapidly. However, it was also known early on that glycogen in marine life was observed to degrade more slowly.

From: Observations On The Glycogen Content of Certain Invertebrates and Fishes (1920)

Until recently very little information existed concerning the presence of glycogen in the fishes. That some at least is present in the tissues of marine fish had been shown by Cl. Bernard, Pavy, Brücke, and others. It was stated by Bernard that this glycogen is unusually resistant to the influence of post-mortem changes, and that it does not readily disappear during hunger. During asphyxia, however, the glycogen rapidly disappears.

We can see that it is well known that glycogen in marine mammals was observed to degrade more slowly. So, perhaps it should not come as no surprise that, in 1952, Marsh found that whale glycogen depletion to rigor mortis took an exceptionally long time, even at 98°F!

And in the Simpson & MacLeod study you referenced, it clearly says, “It is well known that sugar accumulates as glycogen disappears when liver is allowed to stand after death.” So, again, we can see that you are not giving us all the details when you focus on muscle glycogen at room temperature. The literature is very clear that liver glycogen degrades to sugar, via post-mortem glycogenolysis, and this is what contributes to post-mortem blood sugars rising.

6) Their glycogen intake is probably not even worth scrutinizing given the well-documented very high protein and moderate fat consumption in every published study.

7) An article by Per Wikholm was published in this month’s LCHF Magasinet, where Per demonstrates that the Inuit could not have been in ketosis given that the scientific literature is abundantly clear, over and over again, that the Inuit consumed too much protein and not enough fat. And more importantly, Per debunks Stefansson’s claims for high fat with writing from his own books—Stef admitted in the pemmican recipes that Arctic caribou was too lean to support ketosis. And as the literature shows, the Inuit were saving their blubber and fat for the long dark Winter to power their oil lamps and heat their igloos. Again and again, we see that in the literature, as even Stefansson admits this.

As was stated above, the most popular LCHF bloggers in Sweden, Andreas Eenfeldt/Diet Doctor and Annika Dahlquist have reluctantly agreed with Per’s findings—admitting that the Inuit were likely not ketogenic from their diet.

8) You referenced a post by Bill Lagakos, on how “relatively” high protein consumption can be ketogenic, however the post clearly says that “Negative energy balance promotes ketosis even with relatively high protein intake…It was, however, a rather severe caloric restriction…The point is that high protein won’t ‘knock you out of ketosis’ if you’re losing weight.” In the comments of that post, Bill clarifies, “”You can easily maintain ketosis with 30% protein if it’s divided into a few meals, and especially if there is a mild energy deficit. That’s how most of the studies in this post were designed (except Phinney 1983 which had no energy deficit). The participants in Phinney 1980 were able to get 50% protein and still maintain ketosis because of a larger energy deficit.” Phinney’s 1983 subjects were eating 45% less protein than the Inuit and twice the levels of fat, according to detailed measurements from Krogh & Krogh (1914) and Rabinowitch (1936). So, unless you can show that the Inuit were chronically starving themselves every day, or at the very least obtaining most of their calories from fat, Bill’s post doesn’t show us anything that relates to the observed Eskimo diet.

I already showed evidence that the Inuit went through times when food was scarce, and this is why even in the early 1930s the Inuit were only shown by Heinbecker to be adapted to starvation ketosis. If your argument is that the Inuit were only in ketosis while they were starving, I would agree.

9) I should point out that NOBODY is saying that the Inuit were a high carb culture. I have no idea where you ever got that idea from. In fact, nobody (not even Ho, 1972) is saying that the Inuit obtained 15%-20% of their calories from glycogen. The Kroghs clarified in their 1914 paper that glycogen accounted for a little more than half of the 54g/d of carbs in the diet (the rest was from bread and sugar, which had been available since at least 1855). That’s what Ho meant when he said “largely.” So, the estimation of glycogen is actually fairly low. But as far as I know, you are the only scientist to dispute the idea of dietary glycogen. In fact, the main reason marine fish evolved amylase is to digest the glycogen in the tissues of their prey.

From: Amylase activity of fingerlings of freshwater fish Labeo rohita fed on formulated feed, by M.P. Bhilave (2014)

“In fish amylase is needed to digest glycogen, an energy source which is found in animal tissue.”

10) And let’s be clear here. I did not go out of my way to pick 20+ studies from Google to confirm a bias. I honestly could not find any studies confirming ketosis from the traditional diet of the Inuit. And I honestly could not find any reliable evidence that the Inuit consumed a high fat diet beyond Stefansson’s contradictory statements or Schwatka’s sledging diet. Even when we look at a dietary survey of Inuit food preferences (Free Download), we still don’t see a preference for high fat! The idea that the Inuit were eating a lot of fat is nothing more than a myth that Stefansson perpetuated. I challenge you to find scientific evidence that concurs with Stefansson. Even McClellan and DuBois admitted in the published literature for the Bellevue Experiment that their Western ketogenic diet did not replicate the Eskimo diet.

Frankly, I find your post and follow-up comments to be more than a little ironic. Here I’ve been unable to find any evidence that the Inuit were in ketosis from their traditional diet, or that they even consumed a high fat diet. And I’ve found a large body of evidence showing that they have never been observed in ketosis or consumed large quantities of fat, and all you’ve done is casually dismiss 150 years of research, while only referring to Stefansson’s flawed observations. If that’s not the very definition of confirmation bias, I don’t know what is.

As to why you are reluctant to accept 150 years of detailed research on the Inuit diet—while only accepting the words of just one explorer who was well known to lie and exaggerate—only one reason comes to mind. It seems, to me at least, that rather than showing an interest in what the scientific literature actually says about the Inuit, you are hoping that Stefansson’s loose observations absolve you from having to show long term safety of a LCHF diet. The evidence suggests that LCHF is the modern invention of white polar explorers who needed to pack lightly while sledging. Shouldn’t the long term safety of a diet rise to higher standards than the word of a controversial polar explorer? I should certainly hope so.



I await the next hand-brushing dismissal from Dr. Eades.


  1. Duck Dodgers on October 30, 2014 at 10:20

    The glycogen discussion is really a distraction from the main point, which is that all the available literature on the Inuit states that they ate too much protein and not nearly enough fat. And Heinbecker could only find evidence of adaptation to starvation ketosis over the course of three different studies, but he found no ketosis from the diet. Both Heinbecker and the Kroghs used respiratory chambers, analyzing their feces, urine, breath, respiratory quotient and diet. Heinbecker tested urine for acetone, diacetic, and β-hydroxybutyric acid; acetone bodies in the breath; respiratory quotient; as well documenting their high protein intake. And none of the scientists were particularly all that surprised by the absence of ketosis, given the macronutrient levels that were observed.

    In his recent dismissive comment about the Inuit’s high protein intake, Eades mentioned that Bill Lagakos wrote an article about maintaining ketosis while on a high protein diet. Unfortunately, the diets mentioned in Bill’s article don’t resemble the Inuit diet that was observed in the scientific literature. In the comments of the article, Bill writes:

    From: Dietary protein, ketosis, and appetite control, by Bill Lagakos

    “…You can easily maintain ketosis with 30% protein if it’s divided into a few meals, and especially if there is a mild energy deficit. That’s how most of the studies in this post were designed (except Phinney 1983 which had no energy deficit). The participants in Phinney 1980 were able to get 50% protein and still maintain ketosis because of a larger energy deficit.”

    According to Bill, Phinny’s 1983 subjects were consuming, “~3140 kcals, 129 grams of protein (1.75 g/kg!!) and about 293 grams of fat.”

    However, according to measurements from both Krogh & Krogh (1914) and Rabinowitch (1936), the Inuit were consuming significantly more protein and a lot less fat than the studies Bill references—the fat and protein are basically reversed with the Inuit.

    Krogh & Krogh determined that the Inuit consumed about 280 grams of protein, 135 grams of fat and 54 grams of carbs (slightly more than half of which was glycogen, the rest was bread and sugar which had been available since 1855).

    Rabinowitch estimated that the Inuit consumed 250 to 300 grams of protein, about 150 grams of fat, and 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrate (some of which was glycogen).

    And, even if the ratios weren’t reversed, are we to believe that the Inuit were constantly living in a state of energy deficit?? I’m sure there were periods when they slipped into ketosis from an energy deficit—after all, Heinbecker found that the Inuit were keto-adapted to starvation ketosis.

    So, I’m not sure why Eades thinks Bill’s article proves anything about the Inuit diet. It really doesn’t feel like Eades is paying attention to any of the details in this discussion.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 30, 2014 at 10:28

      ” It really doesn’t feel like Eades is paying attention to any of the details in this discussion.”

      I call it the “Google Effect.”

      Google stuff (PubMed too), cite the stuff that appears to at least loosely support your claims or at least has a title that does so, and all your sycophants will be satisfied.

  2. Duck Dodgers on October 30, 2014 at 10:40

    The reason why this discussion is important is because chronic ketosis advocates use the Inuit to absolve themselves of having to prove the long term safety of their extreme diets. They say that ketosis must be safe if the Inuit do it (except there’s never been a study showing chronic ketosis in the Inuit).

    Instead of looking at the scientific literature, these LCHF advocates just point to Stefansson, and other Arctic explorers, to prove their diet is safe. However, what they are overlooking is that these caucasian explorers could not tolerate the Inuits’ high levels of protein, so it was the explorers who had to go into ketosis to survive in the Arctic.

    In the late 1970s, Harold Draper hypothesized on the pre-modern Eskimo reported that the Inuit had abnormally large livers and very high urine volumes, apparently to deal with the high demand of gluconeogenesis (converting protein to carbohydrate):

    From: Discover: The Inuit Paradox

    “The simplest, fastest way to make energy is to convert carbohydrates into glucose, our body’s primary fuel. But if the body is out of carbs, it can burn fat, or if necessary, break down protein. The name given to the convoluted business of making glucose from protein is gluconeogenesis. It takes place in the liver, uses a dizzying slew of enzymes, and creates nitrogen waste that has to be converted into urea and disposed of through the kidneys. On a truly traditional diet, says Draper, recalling his studies in the 1970s, Arctic people had plenty of protein but little carbohydrate, so they often relied on gluconeogenesis. Not only did they have bigger livers to handle the additional work but their urine volumes were also typically larger to get rid of the extra urea.”

    Once you consider that the Inuit evolved to handle such high quantities of protein—given that they had these abnormally large livers—you can see how even the Discover article goes on to confuse the data for readers by pointing to Stefansson’s high fat intake. Here we know that the Inuit have much larger livers than Stefansson and other white Arctic explorers do, and then the Bellevue Experiment—an experiment on Westerners—is used to extrapolate what must be happening with the Inuit.

    But, of course, Stefansson got sick within the first few days of the Bellevue Experiment, while trying to replicate the high levels of protein in the Inuit, that had been observed by scientists. Stefansson demanded more fat to cure his rabbit starvation, and put him in ketosis. White explorers had to go into ketosis while living with the Inuit simply because their livers were unable to perform that much gluconeogenesis.

    So, when you put the pieces together, you can see that the white explorers who lived amongst the Inuit are not very good proxies for actual Inuit who evolved to handle such high quantities of protein. Therefore, it’s rather dishonest—and certainly of extremely low standards—for any LCHF advocates to point to the Inuit as a means of absolving themselves of having to prove the long term safety of ketogenic diets. That’s really what the discussion is about.

    As for lack of gold-standard blood tests in the early studies, yes they would have been nice. However, several methods of testing were done by the Kroghs, Heinbecker and others to rule out ketosis—including urine testing of acetone, diacetic, and β-hydroxybutyric acid; acetone bodies in the breath; respiratory quotient; fecal examinations, as well as their documented high protein intake. All this ‘primitive’ technology was somehow sensitive enough to detect for ketosis and ketone bodies in both Stefansson and Anderson throughout the year-long Bellevue experiment—confirming their adaptation to ketosis. And the respiratory quotient is generally a very good indicator as to what is actually happening. Heinbecker showed that the Inuit went into an adapted starvation ketosis upon fasting—with minimal ketone bodies being excreted (there’s the adaptation to starvation ketosis) and the respiratory quotient lowering to ketogenic levels.

    Studies on The Metabolism of Eskimos, by Peter Heinbecker (1928)

    “According to [Kroghs’] analysis the metabolism of the food contained in the Eskimo dietary would not be expected to cause ketosis, because the calculated antiketogenic effect of the large amount of protein ingestion was somewhat more than enough to offset the ketogenic effect of fat plus protein…Average daily food partition is about 280 gm. of protein, 135 gm. of fat, and 54 gm. of carbohydrate of which the bulk is derived from the glycogen of the meat eaten…During fasting the respiratory quotient falls to a level which may be interpreted as indicating a conversion of fat into carbohydrate.

    Despite the fact that blood β-OHB wasn’t tested, there isn’t any data in these studies that suggests that the Inuit were in ketosis on their native diet. The only suggestion of ketosis comes from the high fat modified diets of white explorers while living/emulating the Inuit, who were still detected to be in ketosis after a year of the Bellevue Experiment.

  3. Beans McGrady on October 30, 2014 at 10:44

    This debate (and others somewhat like it) has implications that seem to go far beyond diet.
    At a certain point I draw conclusions, but I tend to keep listening to the discussions.
    The ways in which scientific evidence, statistics etc. can be manipulated, and ignored, the ways in which people will hold on to cherished beliefs even in the face of strong evidence, is the best argument I can imagine for a free society.
    If these folks want to eat nothing but seal blubber and reindeer skin, they can go right ahead.
    In no way to I want for them to change to whatever my point of view is. Just as long as they don’t try to outlaw potatoes(for example).
    The same goes for a lot of the alternative economic theories that the hurt children like Peter Joseph and Charles Eisenstein are promoting.
    In a free society, nothing is preventing you from creating your marxist robot circle cities. If it works I am in, but you simply can’t force me.
    I don’t know why this is so hard for people to grasp.
    I am really starting to think that it is simply a matter of being afraid of the dark without mommy and daddy to protect us, as they clearly did it so well when we were small.
    This is why I like your approach.
    “here is some information, do what you want cunt.”
    Works for me.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 30, 2014 at 10:48

      “here is some information, do what you want cunt.”

      You grasp me well, sir.

    • Onlooker_T on October 31, 2014 at 11:35

      Exactly so! And that’s what scares me about vegans (most of them). It’s a religion and they think the fate of the world rests on us all eating their way, and they’re VERY interested in using government to enforce that viewpoint.

      I don’t know if it could ever get to that point, but just their incremental influence at the margin is bad enough.

  4. Duck Dodgers on October 30, 2014 at 10:46

    What Eades attempted to do in his “confirmation bias” post is known as the Courtier’s Reply. By keeping my background anonymous, I had hoped to avoid this sort of attack, but Eades stooped to it anyhow—appealing to his own authority to make his case, without citing evidence (or even citing it incorrectly).

    From: Wikipedia: Courtier’s Reply

    “The Courtier’s Reply is an alleged type of logical fallacy, coined by American biologist PZ Myers, in which a respondent to criticism claims that the critic lacks sufficient knowledge, credentials, or training to pose any sort of criticism whatsoever”

    Only, Eades never bothered to closely read the literature he was citing—or at least he assumed that others wouldn’t bother to read it. Most people just took his word, but anyone who actually took the time to factcheck his writing would see a different story:

    The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen

    “So the Emperor went in procession under the rich canopy, and every one in the streets said, “How incomparable are the Emperor’s new clothes! what a train he has to his mantle! how it fits him!” No one would let it be perceived that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that he was not fit for his office, or was very stupid. No clothes of the Emperor’s had ever had such a success as these.

    “But he has nothing on!” a little child cried out at last.

    “Just hear what that innocent says!” said the father: and one whispered to another what the child had said.

    “But he has nothing on!” said the whole people at length. That touched the Emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but the thought within himself, “I must go through with the procession.” And so he held himself a little higher, and the chamberlains held on tighter than ever, and carried the train which did not exist at all.”

  5. Kate on October 30, 2014 at 13:42

    So, I have a question regarding the effects of chronic ketosis. Do we not have enough data points from children with epilepsy that have been put on a theraputic ketogenic diet to know what the long term safety and effects are? I do understand that the benefits in that case would outweigh any negative side effects, but would that not be a good group study or draw conclusions from?

    • Duck Dodgers on October 30, 2014 at 15:50


      I haven’t looked into this too closely, but there is a vegan blogger—Plant Positive—that has challenged Eades on that very topic, and others as well.

      See: The NuSI Guys, Part 5, The Ketogenic Advantage

      Again, I haven’t looked into it, but if you were looking for potential problems with the epileptic diets (or “confirming biases” as Dr. Eades would put it) I would start with the studies he/she references. Interestingly, it also mentions a few of the same studies on the Inuit we’ve been talking about here (and they figured it out before I did).

      From: The NuSI Guys, Part 5, The Ketogenic Advantage, by PlantPositive

      Slide 49: Hartman, Adam L., and Eileen PG Vining. “Clinical aspects of the ketogenic diet.” Epilepsia 48.1 (2007): 31-42.

      Ketogenic diets have been used for a long time as a therapy for children with severe epilepsy which is uncontrolled by medication. It’s from studies of these kids that we have our best information about what a ketogenic diet can do to our health. Here you see a long list of documented side effects experienced by these kids. It’s hard to imagine a diet that was linked to all these problems receiving enthusiastic support from a doctor, yet some low-carb promoting doctors represent ketosis as some sort of advantaged state of health.

      Slide 50: Kang, Hoon Chul, et al. “Early‐and late‐onset complications of the ketogenic diet for intractable epilepsy.” Epilepsia 45.9 (2004): 1116-1123.

      Here’s one study that looked at 129 patients at an epilepsy center.

      Slide 51: Look at this list of complications these patients encountered. Now I do need to qualify this. Some of these people had serious medical problems in addition to their seizures. The one death from cardiomyopathy was in the case of a patient who began refusing food. The two other patients who died were otherwise sick. But accounts like this are valuable because they are our best evidence of what happens when people are on these diets for long periods of time while they are weight stable. Take for instance the issue of the lipid profile. Normally trials of ketogenic diets that are sponsored by low-carb friendly interests involve obese subjects losing a lot of weight. Their cholesterol doesn’t increase much if at all because they usually start out with high cholesterol, and because they are dropping weight, and because the trials usually aren’t very long.

      I have no idea if his/her criticisms are valid or not though, no time to investigate today.

      Given how poorly the Inuit was researched by the VLC crowd, I’d be willing to bet there are problems that were overlooked.

      However, one of the more interesting potential problems with a ketogenic diet, as mentioned by PlantPositive, is the possibility increased Methylglyoxal production—a highly reactive metabolic byproduct which may promote the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the body. I have briefly looked into this recently, and what I’ve seen so far does not look good for ketogenic diets, despite early dismissals by some who are/were proponents of VLC.

      If one were looking for a problem with chronic ketosis, I’d start with increased Methylglyoxal production and its relation to elevated AGEs. Not that we are trying to confirm any biases or anything. :)

    • Duck Dodgers on October 30, 2014 at 17:54

      Plant Positive cited these studies on increased methylglyoxal production from VLC diets:

      Beisswenger, Benjamin GK, et al. “Ketosis leads to increased methylglyoxal production on the Atkins diet.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1043.1 (2005): 201-210

      Cantero, Anne-Valerie, et al. “Methylglyoxal induces advanced glycation end product (AGEs) formation and dysfunction of PDGF receptor-β: implications for diabetic atherosclerosis.” The FASEB Journal 21.12 (2007): 3096-3106.

      Beisswenger, Benjamin GK, et al. “Ketosis leads to increased methylglyoxal production on the Atkins diet.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1043.1 (2005): 201-210.


      Well, the following points were sent to me, in an email, so I admit that I haven’t had time to fully investigate it. If someone else wants to look into this, be my guest! But I’ll summarize, but can’t take credit for this research…

      Perhaps a reduced ability to detoxify methylglyoxal and AGEs is more of a risk on chronic ketogenic diets than most LCers are aware of, especially once supposedly benign physiological insulin resistance kicks in.

      Incidentally, Robb Wolf unwittingly acknowledged this potential problem here:

      Robb Wolf: Paleo Solution Episode 132

      “The state that you see rampant methylglyoxal production and a very low level of the enzymes that undo the methylglyoxal reactivity is actually during glycolysis and when we start seeing a lot of glycolysis is when people are insulin resistant, they’re not able to access carbohydrate in a normal fashion for fuel and we actually see people heading in this more kind of acidotic glycolytic kind of direction.”

      I’m a fan of Robb Wolf, and I know he’s willing to evolve his thinking. But at least back then, he portrayed this as getting ketogenic diets off the hook when it actually does the opposite.

      Peter of Hyperlipid and Ned Kock were dismissive when the subject arose awhile back. For instance, here is Ned dismissing it. Sadly, even Knock tries to fall back on the Inuit-in-chronic-ketosis myth as a defense.

      It’s entirely possible that beneficial bacteria—perhaps ones that eat fermentable fibers—help detoxify methylglyoxal. Vegas, who has a particularly brilliant mind when it comes to gut health and mapping detoxification/immune pathways, speculated about that here:

      Vegas, Mar 25, 2014

      “I am also seeing an [abundance] of methylglyoxal utilizing species, which fits in perfectly with what I think is happening with the pyruvate/lactate metabolism and glycolysis.”

      It’s not necessary to completely avoid AGEs—and it’s impossible anyway—and it’s possible that they could be hormetically beneficial at the right dose and with the body absorbing and producing the necessary things to handle them (enzymes, B vitamins, etc.).

      As an example, Manuka honey is one of the honeys highest in methylglyoxal and that is actually regarded as one of the reasons it is medicinally beneficial (though perhaps the glucose and fructose that come with it aid in processing the methylglyoxal—despite VLC claims that sugar or fructose is actually the main source of AGEs). Cooking, of course, is a source of AGEs. And if there is a hormetic effect to low levels of AGEs, that might even mean that a certain amount of cooked foods are beneficial, and could help explain why, among other things, cooking survived as a human behavior. That said, it’s also possible that the modern practice of overcooking practically everything may have its drawbacks.

      Here’s Chris Masterjohn explaining when AGEs become a risk:

      From: Chris Masterjohn, Where Do Most AGEs Come From? O Glycation, How Thy Name Hast Deceived Me!

      “Regardless of how important these different pathways {of producing methylglyoxal} are, it would be quite silly to blame AGEs on “carbohydrate,” or “protein,” or “fat,” because these dicarbonyls cause nary a whiff of harm unless they slip past our good friend glutathione.”

      Here’s Paul Jaminet connecting the dots with VLC:

      Paul Jaminet said:

      “It happens that the incidence of kidney stones, glutathione deficiency, and vitamin C deficiency is increased on very low carb ketogenic diets for epilepsy, and other very low carb diets.”

      And what happens when you consume RS?:

      From: The Theory of Resistant Starch, by Tracey Roizman, D.C., Demand Media

      “…Resistant starch also showed antioxidant effects by preventing depletion of glutathione, one of the main antioxidants used by the liver.”

      How does RS exert this preservation effect? The RS-loving microbiota may have something to do with it:

      From: Changes in Bowel Microbiota Induced by Feeding Weanlings Resistant Starch Stimulate Transcriptomic and Physiological Responses

      Diet-induced microbiota influences mucosal transcriptomes. Microarray analyses showed that feeding RS to conventional rats altered the colon tissue expression of 9 genes with existing annotations (fold change [FC] > 1.5; FDR < 0.05) (Table 6). The genes showing the highest fold changes included Gsta2, encoding glutathione S-transferase A2, and Ela1, encoding an elastase protein, which were expressed at 2.6- and 2.5-fold-higher levels, on average, in conventional rats fed RS than in their BD-fed counterparts, respectively (FDR > 0.05). Glutathione S-transferases are involved in the detoxification of exogenous compounds, such as carcinogens and environmental toxins, by conjugation with glutathione…the microbiota, not RS alone, was responsible for the altered mucosal transcriptomes in the large bowel observed between dietary groups.

      Mung beans appear to inhibit AGEs:

      From: The Mighty Mung Bean, By William Gamonski

      “Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) form as the result of the chemical reaction between glucose and proteins in the body. These dysfunctional molecules damage tissue in the kidneys and retina, which accelerates the diabetic complications of kidney dysfunction and blindness. When Chinese researchers analyzed the AGE inhibition activity of sixteen legumes, mung beans ranked second only to the common bean.”

      Perhaps the microbiota starvation and lack of prebiotics in VLC diets is what contributes to its elevated AGEs?

      From: Effect of dietary prebiotic supplementation on advanced glycation, insulin resistance and inflammatory biomarkers in adults with pre-diabetes: a study protocol for a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised crossover clinical trial., by Kellow, et al.

      “Prebiotics which selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the human colon might offer protection against AGE-related pathology in people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.” (Effect of dietary prebiotic supplementation on advanced glycation, insulin resistance and inflammatory biomarkers in adults with pre-diabetes: a study protocol for a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised crossover clinical trial.)

      We can’t easily assume that methylglyoxal is entirely evil if it’s found in medicinal Manuka honey. However, the evidence above suggests that the problem may have more to do with one’s ability to detoxify methylglyoxal, AGEs and other toxins than the intake of methylglyoxal itself. This has all been dismissed by the VLC crowd, much like their assurances that physiological insulin resistance is benign.

      The most adamant VLCers will likely say that physiological insulin resistance and methyglyoxal are not a problem if you avoid all carbs that spike your BG above a certain level. They often claim that the rising FBG of VLCers should level off at a reasonable level, which they conveniently and hypocritically tend to set at a level for LCers that’s above what they discuss as safe when it comes to high carbers—in other words, a 115-120 FBG is A-OK PIR for LCers but a sign of damaging prediabetes and Alzheimer’s developing in HCers).

      Interestingly, Eskimos appear to age rapidly—I believe even Stefansson observed this. It’s a bit of a riddle. We know the literature doesn’t suggest they are in ketosis, but given the evidence above, we might speculate that they might have difficulty detoxifying AGEs due to their low starch intake.

    • Gemma on October 31, 2014 at 00:17


      I am so sorry to hear about your husband.

      Dr. Mary Newport used coconut and MCT oil too.

      The point I am trying to make, and the dots I am trying to connect here: both are potent antifungals. Maybe it is not about feeding the brain with ketones, but about killing the pathogens with caprylic acid.

      Read for instance here:
      Yeasts and fungi. How to control them.

      But Dr. Newport’s husband is far from cured. MCT oil is definitely not enough, to keep the pathogens in check (my speculation only, of course).

    • Richard Nikoley on October 30, 2014 at 14:06

      Why would you want to confirm a religious bias by resorting to abnormal people as a surrogate?

      Ketosis is drug therapy, most likely.

    • Gemma on October 30, 2014 at 14:08


      A similar question here, by Petro:
      “I need hard core evidence that ketosis is bad before I abandon it for the alternative of intermittent hyperglycaemia…”

      see in the comments:
      Are ketone esters dangerous?

    • Kate on October 30, 2014 at 14:09

      Totally concur. Knew that would come up as I was typing it.

      Just figured that if Eades were to ever tire of defending his Inuit story, perhaps he could find a different group to draw conclusions from. (Or perhaps he’s already looked into that and the result wasn’t good.)

    • Gemma on October 30, 2014 at 14:10

      And I am asking: do we know what causes epilepsy or Alzheimer disease?

    • Kate on October 30, 2014 at 14:13


      My question isn’t so much about ketosis itself (everyone during some point in their lives, I can guarantee you, has produced ketones). Hell, I got a bad stomach virus and only drank apple juice and still managed to produce ketones due to complete lack of calories.

      I’d really like to get at the danger of long term ketosis. And the keto followers keep going back to the Inuit example to prove its safety and efficacy, or its ability to sustain for long periods of time.

      Keep in mind that I’m angry because I believe it made me very ill. And I want there to be a study out there somewhere to backs it up.

    • Gemma on October 30, 2014 at 14:17


      There are no studies on LONG term effects, as far as I know.

      There are studies showing damaging effects on the health of epileptic children put on keto diets (bone loss, etc.)

    • Gemma on October 30, 2014 at 14:26

      An answer to myself: no, the science does not know what causes Alzheimer disease. So, what about some pathogens, see:

      Atherosclerosis and Alzheimer – diseases with a common cause? Inflammation, oxysterols, vasculature
      “1. We propose that ATH and AD share a common infectious/inflammatory pathoetiology.

      2. Both have similar age-dependence, vascular pathology, genetic underpinnings including the central role of APOE, Aβ involvement, and association with infection. Both diseases are dependent on bone marrow-derived cells, principally macrophages, and show overlapping drug responsiveness.

      3. We postulate a causal mechanism. (i) Infection and inflammation, notably in macrophages associated with the vasculature, induce the expression of CH25H. (ii) Acutely, the enzymatic product 25OHC provides protection against pathogen propagation; chronically, macrophage 25OHC activates ACAT, leading to cholesterol esterification, lipid droplet formation, and ultimately vascular occlusion.

      4. We infer that, in individuals with ATH or AD, they are neither merely ‘Ill’ nor ‘Old’, but instead both acquired infection/inflammation and endocrine aging are likely to play a joint role in causing these age-related diseases.”


      Cryptococcal meningitis misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease: complete neurological and cognitive recovery with treatment.

      I hope Dr. Mary Newport, mentioned in Hyperlipid’s post, has investigated these options too, in order to cure her husband’s AD.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 30, 2014 at 16:30

      Holy shit, Gemma.

      Did Peter really write that?

      How deep the religion goes. Normal human metabolism is now defined as a chronic condition.

    • Drahcir Yelokin on October 30, 2014 at 17:55

      God fucking damn it. I feel like I’ve left religion twice now. I’m gonna go eat some fucking potatoes.

    • Lori2 on October 30, 2014 at 18:45

      I don’t know if this has any relevance to the subject under discussion or not. I first came across information from Dr. Newport in December of 2008 on an Alzheimer’s forum. At that time I started my husband (who had Alzheimer’s) on 3 tablespoons of MCT oil daily and he continued on it until he died in December of 2012.

      The increase in his alertness was apparent to everyone. Objectively, there was a dramatic improvement in his doing the “clock drawing” test. Subjectively, I would say that he returned cognitively to where he had been two years previously—so we gained two years.

      LCHF was something I had not heard of at the time. I made no adjustments to his diet other than add the MCT oil, so his diet would have been considered a high carb diet. Would a change in his carb intake have made additional improvements? I’ll never know. It’s not a cure, but I would definitely recommend MCT oil for anyone with Alzheimer’s.

    • Sid on October 31, 2014 at 02:39

      I don’t think we can readily extrapolate the safety of ketogenic diets from studies of children with epilepsy since those people are suffering from serious metabolic disorders which would make them susceptible to all kinds of complications anyway. But since VLC diet advocates sometimes use this literature as evidence for efficacy and safety of the ketogenic diet, I did look into it a while ago and came across this long-term follow-up study from Argentina:

      Key points (copy-pasted direct quotes from the paper which anyone can access freely):

      1. Two hundred sixteen patients (119 males, 97 females) were followed for 1–20 years. Mean age at onset of the diet was 5 years (range, 1–18 years). Mean duration of the diet treatment was 3.5 (range, 1–12 years). The mean time of follow-up was 9 years (range, 1–20 years).

      2. The children had previously received a mean of six different AEDs and were on a mean of 3.5 AEDs when the diet was begun. Eighteen months after initiating the diet, 140 of the initial patients (65%) remained on the diet. Thirty-one patients (22%) were seizure free, 48 children (34.5%) had a 75–99% decrease in seizures, 14 children (10%) had a 50–74% decrease in seizures, and the remaining 47 patients (33.5%) had less than 50% decrease in seizures. Thus, 18 months after starting the diet, seventy-nine of the initial patients (56.5%) had achieved a more than 75% decrease in their seizures. There were no apparent differences in efficacy based on age or sex.

      3. Seventy-six of the 216 children (35%) who initiated the diet discontinued within the first year. In 43, the reason given for discontinuing the diet was lack of effectiveness. Thirty of these children discontinued between 1 and 2 months and 13 discontinued 3 months after starting the diet. In 21 patients persistent and severe vomiting and hypoglycemia were the reason for discontinuing the diet one month after initiation. Twelve patients were not able to maintain the diet accordingly.

      4. Table 3 lists the adverse effects of the KD in 140 patients who remained on the diet. Side effects were well treatable. Three of six patients who developed kidney stones had received topiramate. The same table also shows the more severe adverse events provoked by discontinuation of the diet. Five patients died during the treatment with the KD. Cause of death was pneumonia in two, sepsis in one, status epilepticus in one, and was unknown in the remaining patient.

      Ok, their Table 3 lists the following adverse effects: vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, constipation, abdominal pain, weight gain, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglycerinemia, hypocarnitinemia, metabolic acidosis, hypercalciuria, kidney stones, prolonged, hypoglycaemia, dehydration, anemia, obtundation, renal tubular acidosis, optic neuropathy, infectious disease, leukopenia, hehydration + metabolic acidosis + vomiting.

      So, to summarise, the diet appears to be moderately effective for seizure control in treatment-resistant epilepsy (though from the way VLC diet gurus sometimes speak about it you’d swear it was the cure). The percentages given for efficacy in this article are somewhat misleading since they are calculated from the number of those who were able to adhere to the diet rather than the N=216 intention-to-treat sample. The latter is the preferred way of data presentation in studies of medical interventions nowadays since it’s more reflective of what happens in the real world when people are prescribed an intervention and some are able to follow it and others are not, and if they are not, their outcomes should not just be discarded from the primary outcome analysis. So, of the 216 kids who were put on the ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy in this cohort, 31 (14%) were seizure-free. 79 (37%) achieved a >75% reduction in seizures. In my opinion, those are very good outcomes given the refractory nature of the conditions studied and there is no need to artificially inflate them. The diet was, however, also associated with a number of adverse effects.

    • Gemma on October 31, 2014 at 07:20

      HT is not enough here. A big hug to Asklipia for passing me a tip on this small plant: Bacopa monnieri

      … antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal too.. is it not worth trying, Dr. Newport?

      Neuroprotective mechanisms of ayurvedic antidementia botanical Bacopa monniera.

      “Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive dementia. Bacopa monniera is described in the Ayurvedic Materia Medica, as a therapeutically useful herb for the treatment of cognitive impairment, thus supporting its possible anti-Alzheimer’s properties. Our studies have shown that Bacopa monniera reduces beta-amyloid deposits in the brain of an Alzheimer’s disease animal model. The objective of this study was to establish the presence of endogenous substances in Bacopa monniera extract (BmE) that will impact components of the oxidative stress cascade such as the reduction of divalent metals, scavenging of reactive oxygen species, alterations of lipoxygenase activity and hydrogen peroxide-induced lipid peroxidation. The extract contained polyphenols and sulfhydryl contents suggestive of endogenous antioxidant activity. The results demonstrated that BmE reduced divalent metals, dose-dependently scavenged reactive oxygen species, decreased the formation of lipid peroxides and inhibited lipoxygenase activity. These data combined with our previous studies that have shown that BmE treatment reduces beta-amyloid levels in the brain of an Alzheimer’s disease doubly transgenic mouse model of rapid amyloid deposition (PSAPP mice) suggesting mechanisms of action relevant to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”


      Ayurvedic medicinal plants for Alzheimer’s disease: a review

    • JOhn on November 1, 2014 at 01:48

      I’m at least glad that some in the paleo community are acknowledging Plant Positives work. Most dismiss him because he has a plant based (vegan) biased. But the more you learn about plant based diets (not vegan, btw), the more you realize that this Plant positive character has a way more balanced view of nutrition than most of the “paleo guru’s”. I had no idea just how much the paleo proponents were ignorant of certain topics until I gave his video’s a decent glance. Most people posting here are waking up to the fact that the low carb guru’s are ignorantly in denial. Well, the same applies to most of the Paleo guru’s.
      I think it’s time that people step away from these dietary cult like beliefs and look at some actually decent evidence. I commend Duck Dodgers for his ability get even the most paleo of paleo cult followers to look into the actual research that can help us learn about nutritional health.
      I also give Richard props (even though he has been somewhat of a “fucktard” in the past), for giving us a forum to learn about these things.

    • pzo on November 1, 2014 at 03:47

      Dave Asprey of “Bulletproof” fame points out that the alleged 65% MCT’s in coconut oil is false. The bulk of the fatty acid profile is lauric acid and he claims research shows that it is processed just like any other long chain FA. Therefore, CO is only about 8% MCT.

      Lauric acid has been identified as strongly antibacterial and antiviral. So don’t give up on CO! I try to incorporate some every day, and use MCT oil, too.

    • GTR on November 1, 2014 at 04:20

      “I’m at least glad that some in the paleo community are acknowledging Plant Positives work.” – so what is his work? He doesn’t do the actual research. He is just an information-aggregator and popularizer. And the feature we should require from such role is objectivity and lack of bias, as well as an open mind. He doesn’t have these, as he is deep into the vegan religion.

    • gabkad on November 1, 2014 at 06:18

      Gemma, maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t the antibacterial, antifungal in coconut oil lauric acid?

    • Gemma on November 1, 2014 at 06:26


      Both lauric and capric (=caprylic) acids are antifungal, though the dose and timing differs/matters, see:

      In Vitro Killing of Candida albicans by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides (2001)

    • gabkad on November 1, 2014 at 06:27

      GTR, plant positive’s information can be good but his snide sarcasm towards people who have not embraced veganism is rather unpalatable. If he’d just present his information without being judgemental it would be more constructive.

    • John on November 1, 2014 at 15:47

      I wonder what you mean by “safe.” The Ketogenic diets used for epilepsy come with whole host of problems, including cardiomyopathy, dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, hypoglycemia, kidney stones, osteopenia, lowered resistance to infection, and others. Doesn’t really sound safe. Some of those problems may be with the way they have been implemented (like using purified diets like Ketocal, high omega six content, setting calories at 90% of what children need), but that still doesn’t mean many of those problems aren’t from ketosis. And a diet with all those problems may still be a better choice than available drugs, or not treating epilepsy at all.

    • JOhn on November 1, 2014 at 20:59

      “He doesn’t do the actual research. He is just an information-aggregator and popularizer. And the feature we should require from such role is objectivity and lack of bias, as well as an open mind. He doesn’t have these, as he is deep into the vegan religion.”

      I have no idea if he does research or not. He certainly does bring a lot of information to light and does a stellar job of showing how kooky the ideas of low carb/paleo bloggers though. We all have our biases though, especially all the paleo guru’s. I don’t shut out information just because someone has a bias though. Though for someone skeptical of the lowcarb/paleo bloggers claims (most of us here reading this blog), I highly recommend his blog of video’s.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 21:14

      “I highly recommend his blog of video’s.”

      Have him post a comment here stating that most everyone is probably better off eating some amount of animal foods, even if insects, shellfish, oysters, some bird flesh, bit of offal, etc.

      Otherwise, he can get fucked in the ass until the broomstick is bloody.

      This whole deal is about dismissing the radicals from Indiocratham.

      You don’t take down one Fucktard by introducing another.

      Fuck Plant Positive.

    • Thomas on November 2, 2014 at 09:37

      You don’t take down one Fucktard by introducing another.

      You win the internet.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 09:39

      “You win the internet.”

      I love that crown. It’s good for about 24 hours. As it should be.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 09:43

      …Oh, and by the way, that bloody broomstick metaphor is not how I generally operate in terms of allusion.

      I’ve been watching Game of Thrones. There’s my excuse. Good thing I’m in solitude and the fucktards are safe from me. :)

  6. Dan on October 31, 2014 at 06:36


    Here are my thoughts if you are interested. Too long to write in the comments section here. I wanted to give it some time to think about.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 31, 2014 at 09:19

      Good stuff, Dan. Though, I’d like to point out that, in the debate, I had already explained that the Inuit were observed to have been adapted to starvation ketosis. It was Peter Heinbecker who observed this in 1928, 1931 and 1932.

      In 1969, R. M. Lloyd briefly summarized Heinbecker’s findings saying, “Adaptation to starvation ketosis has been shown in Eskimos (Heinbecker, 1928, 1931, 1932).”

      So, there really isn’t any debate about their adaptation to starvation ketosis. We already know they were adapted, which makes perfect sense.


    • Dan on October 31, 2014 at 12:34

      Hey Duck, Well I definitely wasn’t trying to say you thought they were never in ketosis. I remember you saying that. My point really was that we look at these studies and then we tend to attribute this across all of the population (not you in particular, but people in general). Or at least that is what it can come across as sometimes. And I don’t think what I am saying really refutes any points you made actually as I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

  7. Dan on October 30, 2014 at 21:07

    “In fact, the main reason marine fish evolved amylase is to digest the glycogen in the tissues of their prey.”

    This most definitely is not what the study shows. Or at least not what your quote shows. It shows amylase to serve a function, but that absolutely does not give any indication as to why it evolved. These are very two different ideas. Not relevant to your post I know, but this is a critical error that should be avoided because it leads to storytelling. Oh x is for purpose y, and so it must have evolved for purpse y. Not true.

    Also the reference showing that fish show slow glycogen depletion mentions that this doesn’t happen under asphyxia. Most fish are under these conditions as soon as they are removed from water. Remember that arctic and antarctic conditions are actually very dry because moisture freezes (trust me I have studied fish populations in Antarctica). So they would have been under asphyxia-like conditions the moment they left the water. Another small point, but just wanted to clarify that.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 31, 2014 at 09:34

      All good points, Dan. Interestingly, it appears some dead fish seem to maintain their glycogen in ice:

      Postmortem Glycolytic and Other Biochemical Changes in White Muscle of White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni) and Northern Pike (Esox lucius) at 0°C

      Postmortem biochemical changes in the white muscle of white sucker and of northern pike were, in general, similar to those observed in other species as reported previously by other investigators. However, glycogen content of pike was found to remain relatively high even after 7 days of storage in ice. This is in contrast to the findings with several other species, including white sucker, where the muscle glycogen is practically completely degraded in 3–4 days. Higher glycogen content in the posterior portion of pike muscle as compared with that in the anterior portion may partly explain the apparent high glycogen content in the muscle of this fish after several days of storage.

      Maybe it has to do with how quickly they are killed.

      Interestingly, Clarence Birdseye invented “flash freezing” by watching the Inuit fish:

      Wikipedia: Clarence Birdseye

      Birdseye’s next field assignment, off and on from 1912 to 1915, was in Labrador in the Dominion of Newfoundland (now part of Canada), where he became further interested in food preservation by freezing, especially fast freezing. He was taught by the Inuit how to ice fish under very thick ice. In -40°C weather, he discovered that the fish he caught froze almost instantly, and, when thawed, tasted fresh. He recognized immediately that the frozen seafood sold in New York was of lower quality than the frozen fish of Labrador, and saw that applying this knowledge would be lucrative.

      According to the studies referenced above, instantly freezing fish to -40°C should be more than enough to preserve all the glycogen. It sounds like the fish wouldn’t even have time to asphyxiate.

    • Daniel on October 31, 2014 at 15:01

      Makes sense if they are frozen. I was referring to your quote and from what I had noticed while fishing in Antarctica. They would be under aphyixia type conditions if you pull them out of the water and leave them in the dry air for a few minutes. If you put them in ice then the moisture would mean they are getting oxygen or freezes them as you say or they wouldn’t be exposed to the air.

  8. Michael44 on October 30, 2014 at 21:09

    Wow duck – Thank you ….again!……..

    And, after the 9th point (blow) had been delivered to Dr Eades, Dr Eades began stumbling around the ring mumbling something about why we couldn’t talk about biochemistry instead, because he’s an expert on that he says to himself,…

    and then Duck hit him with point 10 and the knock-out blow. Down for the count.

  9. Dan on October 30, 2014 at 21:17

    “So, when you put the pieces together, you can see that the white explorers who lived amongst the Inuit are not very good proxies for actual Inuit who evolved to handle such high quantities of protein.”

    Playing devils advocate here. A recent study showed that caucasians had far more genes associated with lipid catabolism than other groups. So maybe white people are just better at doing the high fat, moderate protein diet and entering ketosis as opposed to ‘had to enter ketosis because they couldn’t do gluconeogenesis’. If inuit are evolved for high levels of protein, perhaps caucasians are evolved for high levels of fat? Totally just throwing it out there……

    • Richard Nikoley on October 31, 2014 at 09:45

      The problem, Dan, is that there is not this abundance of ad libitum fat in nature from animals. Wild animals are leanish.

      So how would we evolve a penchant for a very high fat diet.

      As far as I know, the highest fat consuming population ever studied are the Tokelauans. Hardly a white northern race and moreover, their fat grew on trees.

    • Dan on October 31, 2014 at 12:33

      Well it was more ‘just throwing it out there’ kind of comment. But a recent study in nature did show that Caucasians had a massive adaptation to lipid catabolism and they think it was from Neanderthals. They said it spread rapidly throughout the population. So we clearly were using the fat for something.

    • tatertot on October 31, 2014 at 12:38

      “So how would we evolve a penchant for a very high fat diet.”

      If fat is not so easily found in nature, which I know for a fact is a true statement, and we also require dietary fat, then it makes sense that we would evolve a mechanism to ‘crave’ fat.

      Just as we crave water when thirsty, we probably feel a need to eat fat, but in our land-of-plenty, this fat is just too easy to get and even makes food addictive.

      Deep-frying makes all food ‘fatty food’ and look how easy it is to overeat fried foods!

      In a natural setting, eating whatever plants you can find and whatever animals you can kill, there just isn’t much fat in the land.

      Marbled beef is a modern invention.

    • GTR on November 1, 2014 at 05:01

      @Dan – do you mean the Neanderthal ancestry stuff? Non-black modern humans and Neanderthals intermixed, the result being that both Whites and Asians got something like 2.5% average Neanderthal DNA. Although the number is similar, Whites got different Neanderthal DNA than Asians; and we don’t know enough about Asian Neanderthal-inherited DNA yet. The European Neanderthal ancestry is being discovered, and it surely has something to do with the way the body and the brain handles fats:

      ” Europeans inherited three times as many genes involved in lipid catabolism, the breakdown of fats to release energy, from Neandertals as did Asians. […] The team found that Europeans had differences in the concentration of various fatty acids in the brain that were not found in Asians or chimpanzees, which suggests they had evolved recently. The Europeans also showed differences in the function of enzymes that are known to be involved with the metabolism of fat in the brain.”

      “Our results show that NLS—genetic variants shared between modern humans and Neanderthals, but distinct from chimpanzees—are specifically enriched in genes involved in lipid catabolism in contemporary humans of European descent. Signatures of recent positive selection associated with lipid catabolism genes containing NLS in contemporary Europeans further indicate that these genetic variants may have been swept to high frequency by positive selection.”

      Another archaic human race – Denisovans – that gave like 5% genes to Australian Aboriginals (and who – Denisovans – themselves had some even more archaic admixture from like 500k years ago) didn’t have these genes.

      ““We don’t see the same alleles in the Denisovans,” said Lachmann in an e-mail. “This indicates that adaptive selection might have been restricted to Europe.”

      “Hawks agreed. “With this set of genes, they’ve shown that selection favored them relative to the rest of the things we got from Neanderthals,” he said. “But that doesn’t tell us why.””

      Notice that at least one high-fat-diet advocate (Dave Asprey) admitted a very high Neanderthal ancestry – at 4.5% (in his podcast with Daniel Vitalis). Might be one of the reasons for his preferences. There are people with even more Neanderthal DNA – 5% being a high range.

      This all may bring us to the conslusion that one needs a genetic test as one of the inputs to the question of what percentage of fat one’s diet should comprise?

    • Daniel on October 31, 2014 at 15:05

      The difference is Caucasians evolved mechanisms for fat metabolism above and beyond what other races did. Also humans in general did the same thing. These metabolic adaptations would come about through craving fat. It would have to have involved an intimate process with consumption of fats. Marbled beef is definitely fatty. But I live in NZ where all our meat is grass fed on big paddocks. It is still very fatty if you want it to be (depends on where you get it from the animal). Lamb is quite fatty in general. Also bare in mind that potatoes are not similar to what we would have eaten too. I am not trying to claim here that all humans were on fat all the time. Not at all!!! I am saying it was important in our evolution. I know Duck doesn’t disagree with this. I think it is an important point though.

    • Daniel on October 31, 2014 at 15:06

      *wouldn’t not would

    • Duck Dodgers on October 31, 2014 at 18:30

      “The difference is Caucasians evolved mechanisms for fat metabolism above and beyond what other races did”

      That’s interesting.

      “I am saying it was important in our evolution. I know Duck doesn’t disagree with this.”

      I do agree. There’s plenty of scientific literature showing hominids, as well as prehistoric and hunter gatherer cultures selecting and carrying the highest yielding marrow bones back to their base camps and cracking them open. So, we know it was important to them.

      There’s also evidence that the men spend too much time hunting big game and often come back empty handed. Turns out the “gatherers” are crucial and the men tend to pursue hunting strategies that are often unsuccessful and don’t provide enough meat for their families once meat sharing is considered.

      Cooperation and Conflict: The Behavioral Ecology of the Sexual Division of Labor

      “In addition, the long periods between successful hunts, reaching an extreme of nearly 30 days among the Hadza, are also puzzling if a hunter’s aim is to acquire meat currency to invest in reproductive advantage. Other, more predictable ways of acquiring meat would ensure that even poor hunters would always have something to trade (or eat!) in between successful big-game hunts. Hunting must not be simply about acquiring meat, either to eat or to share.”

      I would think it’s not unreasonable to conclude that primitive man, lacking modern hunting technology, might have been even less successful than the Hadza.

      No doubt people craved fat, but it doesn’t mean they obtained fat on a daily basis. But, yes, I would agree that evidence clearly suggests that animal fat was important to humans. Megafauna were certainly found outside of Africa, and that might explain the correlation with caucasians lipid metabolism.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 10:56

      Dan said: “Because there may have been times when gathering foods would be insufficient to supply energy demand (i.e. ice age when these fat metabolism genes in Caucasians became rapidly widespread) and with little game been caught that would have mean’t starvation”

      Well, it’s a myth that there was no vegetation during the ice age. If that were true, then surely the herbivores that our ancestors were eating would have starved to death within a few weeks time. Funny how nobody thinks about that.

      Luckily, researchers have recently figured out that the snowy landscape we learned about in elementary school was actually filled with colorful wildflowers and starchy plants:

      From: Fifty thousand years of Arctic vegetation and megafaunal diet

      Although it is generally agreed that the Arctic flora is among the youngest and least diverse on Earth, the processes that shaped it are poorly understood. Here we present 50 thousand years (kyr) of Arctic vegetation history, derived from the first large-scale ancient DNA metabarcoding study of circumpolar plant diversity. For this interval we also explore nematode diversity as a proxy for modelling vegetation cover and soil quality, and diets of herbivorous megafaunal mammals, many of which became extinct around 10 kyr BP (before present). For much of the period investigated, Arctic vegetation consisted of dry steppe-tundra dominated by forbs (non-graminoid herbaceous vascular plants). During the Last Glacial Maximum (25–15 kyr BP), diversity declined markedly, although forbs remained dominant. Much changed after 10 kyr BP, with the appearance of moist tundra dominated by woody plants and graminoids. Our analyses indicate that both graminoids and forbs would have featured in megafaunal diets. As such, our findings question the predominance of a Late Quaternary graminoid-dominated Arctic mammoth steppe.

      According to the researchers, the once-thought barren landscape of the ice age was actually dominated by forbs (colorful wildflowers) and graminoids (grasses). Indeed, the wooly mammoths had food to eat after all.

      “Forbs” include Typhaceae, which includes Cattails that have a starchy root and and starchy pollen that happen to be rich in Resistant Starch. As Tim has recently pointed out, cattails are a good source of starch, with a rich ancestral history. They are also a bit of a superfood, offering water, nutrition, shelter and fuel for heat—a perfect staple for survivalists.

      And “Graminoids” happen to include Cyperaceae, which includes our favorite starchy and nutrient-dense tiger nuts.

      Wooly mammoths, woolly rhinos, reindeers, bison megafauna were apparently living off of these plants and there is no reason why Paleo ancestors wouldn’t have eaten them as well.

      And if that weren’t enough, researchers have discovered that humans were already milling barley and wheat at the peak of the last glacial maximum, 22,000 years ago.

      From: Science Magazine: Ice Age Cereal

      Grain starches extracted from an ancient grinding stone in Israel reveal that humans milled wild barley and wheat 22,000 years ago, according to two archaeologists. The finding represents the oldest known evidence of processed food and may help explain how early humans transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to settled farmers.

      So, I don’t think we can easily claim that food wasn’t available during the ice age. That’s just a myth. Clearly the fatty animals were getting energy from something :).

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 11:24

      Another piece:

      10,000 Years on the Bering Land Bridge

      Feb. 27, 2014 – Genetic and environmental evidence indicates that after the ancestors of Native Americans left Asia, they spent 10,000 years in shrubby lowlands on a broad land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska. Archaeological evidence is lacking because it drowned beneath the Bering Sea when sea levels rose. …

      O’Rourke and colleagues say that in recent years, paleoecologists – scientists who study ancient environments – drilled sediment cores from the Bering Sea and Alaskan bogs. Those sediments contain pollen, plant and insect fossils, suggesting the Bering land bridge wasn’t just barren, grassy tundra steppe but was dotted by “refugia” or refuges where there were brushy shrubs and even trees such as spruce, birch, willow and alder.

      “We’re putting it together with the archaeology and genetics that speak to American origins and saying, look, there was an environment with trees and shrubs that was very different than the open, grassy steppe. It was an area where people could have had resources, lived and persisted through the last glacial maximum in Beringia,” O’Rourke says. “That may have been critical for the people to subsist because they would have had wood for construction and for fires. Otherwise, they would have had to use bone, which is difficult to burn.”

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 12:17

      “but another twist is that most of the plant foods mentioned would be almost impossible to gather enough for the perhaps 8000 kcal/day needed for an active, cold population.”

      Seriously, it wouldn’t kill you to look this stuff up before saying things like that. ;)

      Winter Cattail Collecting Experiments

      Cattail (Typha latifolia) rhizomes and shoots were experimentally collected and processed during late winter (January through mid-March) to examine their utility as winter food resource. Shoots are readily collectedfrom warm water springs, but are generally inaccessible where marshes are frozen. They produce return rates of 500-600 Cal/hr., but are bulky and were most likely used as a dietary supplement. Cattail rhizomes were easily collected in fields by using a digging stick to pry off 6-12 inches of frozen soil above the rhizomes. The starch content of the rhizomes is at its highest from late fall until early spring when it begins to support new growth. Processing which employs simple mashing and boiling techniques produces return rates of 3000-4000 Cals/hr. When combined with other experimental data, the return rate range for cattail rhizomes is 200-5000 Cals/hr. Increasing experimental data indicate wide return rate ranges are a common characteristic of many food resources, suggesting the need for caution in applying diet breadth models in archaeological situations.”

      The rhizomes (USOs) would have been a relatively sufficient fallback food. The study explains how the rhizomes could be stored for long periods with a little processing.

      “herbivores, they could eat plants that we would find useless”

      That’s what cooking and processing is for, as the experiment above shows. These techniques were well understood during the ice age, as the evidence of processing shows. Cooking was well understood by that time as well. You didn’t actually think that everybody starved to death if they couldn’t kill a wooly mammoth, did you? :)

    • Dan on November 1, 2014 at 00:55

      So the way I see it is that humans may not need to have eaten a lot of fat (although obviously they did if it was available), in order for these adaptations in fat metabolism to occur. I believe long bouts of starvation must have occurred in order to promote this strong selective pressure towards fat metabolism adaptations that we see within our species. The example you provide above may even suggest this also. Because there may have been times when gathering foods would be insufficient to supply energy demand (i.e. ice age when these fat metabolism genes in Caucasians became rapidly widespread) and with little game been caught that would have mean’t starvation. And so I think both our arguments can be correct. A hunter gatherer diet could be low in fat, but they may still retain and require those adaptations, in order to burn that fat effectively when they are starving. So I’m not pushing a paleo was high fat diet at all. In fact I don’t agree with that in the slightest. I push the idea that fat burning was so important to us. My hypothesis is when you go low carb you somehow tap into that fat consuming starvation state, and it can provide some benefits especially when trying to lose weight.

    • Dan on November 1, 2014 at 01:05

      I don’t think I was very clear. When I say fat burning I mean from our adipose tissue not from the fats in the diet. And we know carbs can help with supplying adipose tissue with fat. So you can be eating a low fat diet as a group and still be efficient fat burners, especially if starvation is frequent enough to warrant adaptations to fat metabolism. I don’t really think the adaptations would have come about because we ate high fat meat. But it probably doesn’t hurt. I really do believe though keto-adaptation via starvation drove these adaptations. And that is where my argument lies – we must have been keto-adapted fairly frequently to provide that selection pressure. But that doesn’t change our diet, because when you were able to find food it could have been tubers, berries and nuts for all I know.

    • pzo on November 1, 2014 at 04:04

      A “Must read” for anyone interested in ancestral and paleo HG diet and life is Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains by Dr. Jack Brink

      Dr. Brink spent his entire adult life studying this matter, focused on a buffalo “jump” called Head Smashed In in Canada. His research used the notes and diaries of the early European contacts, the fur traders and missionaries. Also, interviews with the elderly men and women who used to live the buffalo hunting life on the great plains.

      The PDF of this book is free. For me, I had to tear myself away from it to do chores and other things.

      What I’m getting at is that the plains Indians were very selective in their kills, once they got horses. Young vs. old, cow vs. bull, time of the year. In the spring, the animals were very lean. But the fall kills, which included the pre-horse “jumps” were very, very fatty. Don’t forget, that’s the essential ingredient in pemican. The choicest “cuts” were the fatty ones, tongue and liver. Those were often consumed on the spot, raw. Muscle meats were sliced thin and dried to store as is or to be added to fat for pemmican.

      Point being, plenty of fat to be had in some wild animals…………..especially the most sought after.

    • pzo on November 1, 2014 at 04:05

      I want to clarify that the interviews mentioned were done a hundred or so years ago, not recently!

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 08:25

      “When I say fat burning I mean from our adipose tissue not from the fats in the diet”

      I was just popping in the say just this from your previous comment.

      I think the simplest explanation is that all of these tastes (salt, sugar, fat) and metabolic adaptations (high fat, high protein, high carb, etc.) are really adaptations to feast and famine.

      So, in plenty we eat everything and a lot of it and all foods in excess can pack on fat and some lean. In famine, there’s a metabolic preference to burn body fat over lean tissue.

      This makes perfect evolutionary sense, yet has been hijacked by farious people to mean we should be eating high fat, low carb diets as some metabolic ideal.

    • Bret on November 1, 2014 at 09:22

      …are really adaptations to feast and famine.

      Which leads me to believe routine fat deprivation is a good idea. If our ancestors frequently had to forage in lieu of a fresh, fatty kill and/or settle for a lean bird or deer, then we probably ought to as well.

      Discussions like this put into perspective the proclamations of the VLC/ZC “experts” who keep insisting that dietary fat-induced ketosis — and that is to say, gobs and gobs of fat, day after day — has an evolutionary justification. Complete nonsense. It makes me angry at myself to think about how I used to believe it.

    • pzo on November 1, 2014 at 11:16

      Interesting, but another twist is that most of the plant foods mentioned would be almost impossible to gather enough for the perhaps 8000 kcal/day needed for an active, cold population.

      And we all know that most of those megafaunas we killed were herbivores, they could eat plants that we would find useless.

      I’m sure that depending on the location and point in time, we ate more than mastodon meat, but only animal products could give the calories needed.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 12:25

      Gotta love this quote from the experiment:

      Winter Cattail Collecting Experiments

      “The central questions we examined are the ones originally posed by (Eschler, 1997): (A) Can cattails be collected and used as food resource in the depths of winter? and (B) Is the return rate from collecting and processing these resources high enough to make them viable as a winter staple in lieu of other potential food sources? We think the results of the experiments reported here clearly suggest that the answer to both question is yes. Dormant cattail rhizomes, containing a maximum amount of recoverable starch, are available throughout the winter months from November through March. These rhizomes can be economically collected and processed, even from frozen fields, at a return rate that exceeds, with a single exception, that of any other plant resource available at any time of the year! [3] Moreover, rhizomes can be readily dried and stored for weeks, if not months, and can be prepared for consumption in the same simple fashion as are fresh rhizomes.”

      Cattails are a really fascinating plant. According to the paper, the rhizome was super starchy during the winter months, and the pollen was super starchy during the summer months. Both could be processed and stored for long periods. Both were easy to process and bake, and provided sufficient calories.

    • Dan on November 1, 2014 at 12:57

      Duck I did not say there wasn’t plants to be consumed in the ice age. Obviously there had to be to supply the grazers. That is very different than saying there was enough plants for humans to eat at all times. None of the above studies showed that.

    • Dan on November 1, 2014 at 13:01

      Yup I think we are in agreement. To me eating high fats allows you to enter kept-adpatation and gain it’s benefits of losing that weight while still maintaining calorie control.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 15:03

      “That is very different than saying there was enough plants for humans to eat at all times.”

      So, show me the studies that show there were enough killable animals for humans to eat at all times.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 16:09

      “That is very different than saying there was enough plants for humans to eat at all times. None of the above studies showed that.”

      Oh good lord, Dan. Like you’ve never cited research, connected the dots and then speculated before? (See your latest blog post). ;)

      But seriously, Eske Willerslev, one of the lead authors of the forbs study (above) was quoted saying that the ice age was “dominated” with wildflowers:

      Disappearance of wildflowers may have doomed Ice Age giants

      While many scientists had thought the ecosystem had been grasslands and the big animals were grass eaters, this study showed it instead was dominated by a kind of plant known as forbs — essentially wildflowers.

      “The whole Arctic ecosystem looked extremely different from today. You can imagine these enormous steppes with no trees, no shrubs, but dominated by these small flowering plants,” Willerslev said.

      So, if this dry steppe-tundra that they describe was filled with wildflowers, I have another speculation for you…

      Ice Age Bees

      Yep. If there were all these wildflowers “dominating” the ice age, I would speculate that Arctic bees were pretty much everywhere. And what do Ice Age bees make?

      Ice Age Honey

      Honey is one of the most nutrient dense foods found in nature. Therefore, I would speculate that honey was accessible throughout the Ice Age—wherever there were these forbs for all the megafauna to eat.

      My apologies that there aren’t any studies that have thoroughly researched this for you!

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 16:11

      I spoke too soon!

      Bee Fossils Provide Rare Glimpse into Ice Age Environment

      Thank you very much… :)

    • GTR on November 2, 2014 at 06:32

      A more trivial fact about the brain – having some glucose is good for willpower and self-control.

      “blood glucose is one important part of the energy source of self-control. Acts of self-control deplete relatively large amounts of glucose. Self-control failures are more likely when glucose is low or cannot be mobilized effectively to the brain”

    • GTR on November 1, 2014 at 17:53

      All this talk about Northern people food is kind of a distraction from a known fact that humans evolved in Africa – a quite hot place (with Arabia being suspected to be important in human evolution too). 35k years or so in the North is not a long time in the evolutionary terms. Humans are not that adapted to Northern parts of the world, we need clothes and shoes to be there. There has also been nothing special about the health of Northern people.

      What is perhaps interesting anhropologically about the more Northern parts of the world and its people is the higher intelligence there as compared to the South. In a sense it means that human bodies were not adapted to such environment to such an extent, that a higher intelligence was necessary to survive there. As well as this tendency to plan ahead long term – helps survive the winter (rather than an ability to improvise). A Northern paleo Homo Sapiens Sapiens diets are thus interesting as the ones that don’t prevent, but rather aid in such brain needs. Cold water fish being a good candidate, berries would help too. Perhaps something of this kind is even necessary for modern Northern people more than for Southereners? – such information should be sought for.

      These Neandethal fat genes for the Europeans would be thus one of the few remanants of the real adaptations to the North, from the race that had lived there for like 400k years, the Neanderthals, but these genes are few, overall only 2.5% of DNA comes from archaics (Africans also have DNA from archaics, just different, not yet identfied species).

      As to the conditions of the Europe itself during the glaciations – some people seem to have a misconception that it was similar to what was like Arctic today. But plants require sun energy to grow, something always rare in the Arctic, while perhaps even more plentiful in the Europe than today due to the lower cloud cover, due to the drier air. Yes, the air was colder and drier (water was accumulated in the ice), but the sun was there. One of the bad factors for plants was low CO2 level, at some peak moments even close to the extinction level for C3 plants (no problem for C4 plants, that tolerate low CO2 levels well). Both dryness, as well as not much CO2 would work against forest forming, but again – the sun was there, so smaller plants could be plentiful, unlike for the Arctic today. Besides during the glaciacion the Northernmost parts of the Eurasia were under ice, so only the sunnier places like Iberia, Italian penisula, Balkas were available. So paleo Europe when the Homo sapiens sapiens arrived there, or Western Eurasia is very different from the Inuit environments.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 18:27

      pzo said: ““Must read” for anyone interested in ancestral and paleo HG diet and life is Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains by Dr. Jack Brink… But the fall kills, which included the pre-horse “jumps” were very, very fatty. Don’t forget, that’s the essential ingredient in pemican…Point being, plenty of fat to be had in some wild animals…especially the most sought after”

      Yep, Buffalo can get pretty fatty. And their jumps were a feat of engineering and geological luck. But, I had to smile at this quote from the book…

      Imagining Head-Smashed-In:
      Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains
      , by Jack W. Brink

      Most accounts of pemmican-making from the northern Plains mention the inclusion of a type of berry or fruit into the mix. For the region around Head-Smashed-In, the berries of choice were the saskatoon and chokecherries. A pleasant cluster of saskatoon bushes grows at the site today, snaking up the side slope of the spring channel toward the cliff. We don’t know if these would have been there a thousand years ago, but saskatoons and chokecherries are ubiquitous in the region and would never have been far away. Historic accounts of pemmican-making always mention improved taste as the reason for adding berries to the mix, and it is true that it is much more palatable with a healthy complement of saskatoons or chokecherries. However, there may be a more important purpose served by the addition of fruit to pemmican.

      Many plants, including fruits, contain tannins (also called tannic acids). These astringent chemical compounds have well-documented antimicrobial properties. Tannins are part of the plant’s natural defence mechanism against fungal and bacterial attack…Although the specific tannic acid content of saskatoons and chokecherries is not well studied, it is almost certain that adding berry tannins to the mix of dried meat and fat furthered the cause of prolonging the life of the food by inhibiting bacterial growth…

      …Picture an array of brown hides stretched out on the prairie, workers kneeling to the sides and mixing together a mash of meat, soft fat, and crushed berries. When all the ingredients were thoroughly made of buffalo hide.

      Sounds like someone had a sweet tooth. Hard for even the most diehard carnivores to resist. :)

      Pzo, I realize you weren’t trying to show ketosis from pemmican—you were just showing the importance of fat in the Blackfoot diet (and I concur). But, I will point out for those who missed it that even the Prairie recipe for pemmican was too lean for ketosis—particularly if we now see that berries were mashed in.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 18:46

      I love to see the proper Duck get a bit randy. :)

      Ha, what is it? The Hadza get 90% of calories from honey for 2-3 months of the year?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 19:05

      “What is perhaps interesting anhropologically about the more Northern parts of the world and its people is the higher intelligence there as compared to the South. In a sense it means that human bodies were not adapted to such environment to such an extent, that a higher intelligence was necessary to survive there. As well as this tendency to plan ahead long term – helps survive the winter (rather than an ability to improvise).”

      Finally something that does’t make me dismiss you as a racist.

      Evolution is driven by earth climate. Why you have millions of niches, why they evolve when niches change and they go extinct or evolve survival. Basic.

      But that’s rather micro and there’s also the macro to consider with a migrating animal like human.

      Back in 1991 I was reading a lot and had this thought. How come all the great inventions come from where it gets very cold?

      I posed the question to a shipmate, a French officer I knew had done a tour in Tahitti. He lafed.

      He told me that one of his greatest revelations was that tropical regions give people the license to not do any planning.

      “Why aren’t you out fishing?”

      “We have fish, and can get more any time we want.”

    • GTR on November 2, 2014 at 10:51

      @Richard – groupings are quite observable on so called PCA graphs. You can check them for filled areas (clusters), that are separated from other filled areas with an empty space. An example for dog-like animals:

      For people:

      Notice these groupings are not like a laws of the universe, but just a statistical observations. The populationst can change at any time via demographics processes; thus groupings would look differently.

      As the things are now the consensus is that there’s quite a genetic distance between Africans, and non-Africans (visible on the graphs in the last link); which is supposed to be caused by this Out of Africa event; where only a small; (non-representative, having only a small part of African genetic variation) group of probably East Africans left the continent.

      One of the weirdiest consequences of long distances between some groups of people that if one has a child with a person from a very genetically distant group, then some average person form the same ethnic group may turn out to be more genetically related to this parent, than this mixed child.

      Basically ethnicity (like Southern Italian), or race are a forms of an extended family; that is basically one’s distant cousins. This is partially a legacy from the time when people married within local village, or a village away. But some of such processes persist even right now, as people (statistically) tend to choose spouses similar to them; which also creates clusters.

    • Gemma on November 2, 2014 at 13:02


      Do not play with your keto diet too long, please.

      Your blog post name fits:

      You Reap What You Sow

    • pzo on November 2, 2014 at 03:42

      Richard, don’t you know that it’s not permissible to compare groups of people and find out that there are differences? Not just find out, but to actually state them? That we aren’t all exactly the same but different?

      The theory about northern climes requiring planning and methods to get through the cold months has been around for quite awhile. And probably reflects cold (pun), hard evolutionary fact. Perhaps that’s partly the result of Caucasian’s one or two percent Neanderthal DNA. The original almost-Inuits.

      Despite a hundred years of IQ testing, with non-written and culturally neutral tests being around for decades, some populations consistently score higher, some lower.

      This isn’t Lake Woebegone, where all the children are above average.

      Another interesting difference is immediate vs. delayed gratification. Using children of many ages from toddlers and up, some populations consistently show better, or worse, ability to fore go immediate gain for more of it later.

      I’m a certified card carrying liberal egalitarian, but to pretend these differences don’t exist would be intellectually dishonest. In fact, knowing of these differences makes me appreciate those who are different from me even more.

    • GTR on November 2, 2014 at 04:12

      @pzo – there’s one even more interesting question about the intellectual chagne that happened in the Paleolithic (most likely in the Africa). One of the puzzles about early homo is a lack of significant change in the types of tools made over an extended period of time and over a large area. The lack of change would be impossible with the modern humans – very soon local variants would have arisen, and a progress over time would be present. This includes even the very early anatomically modern humans (skeletons just like ours). Basically meaning that the Old Mind of humans was working on a different rules that the modern one.
      One of the speculative hypothesis is that archaic human mind was more like multiple savant skills for specialized purposes, rather than a single, integrated general itelligence like today. This would make some evolutionary sense, as a specialized skill in something practical is immediately useful, while a general intelligence requires years of learning to become useful in practice. So some time ago, most likely still in
      Africa (*) this revolution happened, where the mind integrated into one, resulting in superior creativity and ability for great inventions (perhaps at the expanse of some precision).

      Is the Human Mind Unique? — Steven Mithen: An Evolved and Creative Mind

      (*) Some evolution of humans might be in the Middle East with a back migration to Africa.

    • pzo on November 2, 2014 at 04:24

      Very interesting, GTR. I thought you were going to bring up Julian Jaynes “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.” But, no. I think Richard has mentioned Jaynes’ work, and when I made a big move seven years ago, that was one of a relatively few books I kept.

      I recall reading about that back migration somewhere not long ago.

      I tell you, I still struggle with the “Out of Africa” theory. I know that DNA proves it, or at least that’s what I’m told. One problem I have is that the Old World was well populated by homo erectus and Neanderthal. So, in some 70,000 years homo sapiens sapiens killed and/or interbred with these and other, smaller groups of earlier hominids? And then marched all the way to Patagonia when there was no survival need to?

      Honest, inquiring minds can hurt.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 07:24


      I agree there are differences. I know there’s a bell distribution. I understand that certain races and skin colors are associated with being, ON AVERAGE, on one part of the distribution.

      Still, this means absolutely nothing when talking about any particular individual.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 07:28

      …To put it another way, virtually every individual on earth, of any race or ethnicity, could find other individuals of all races and ethnicities that are both smarter and dumber than they.

      Accordingly, dealing in averages on such matters is Fucktarded and there seems to me to always be an underlying agenda, probably involving some sort of excuse to steal.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 09:52

      “I’m a certified card carrying liberal egalitarian”

      How come you don’t just tell me you’re Robbin Hood and be honest about it? What’s with this alphabet soup designed to put a tinge on it to fool fucktards?

    • pzo on November 2, 2014 at 10:49

      Alphabet soup?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 10:50

      “I’m a certified card carrying liberal egalitarian”

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 10:57

      “Notice these groupings are not like a laws of the universe, but just a statistical observations.”


      Here’s the deal, man. I’m unafraid of the idea that human populations have different levels of TALENT.

      Did you see that?

      Evolution breeds talent and grace. But my question is always: talent and grace according to, and for whom? I don’t give a runny shit how some white coat cock suckers in a university lab in Cambridge, MA score Australian aboriginals. The fact probably is that they could adapt and thrive in his environment far easier than he could in their ancestral one.

      In terms of human animal survival, “intelligence” is subjective.

      But I tend to think you’re a racist, given the past. I’m eager for you to prove me wrong.

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 12:48

      Richard, I’m not saying there were enough animals either. I think starvation was common.

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 12:53

      Duck, I might have come across as a bit rude in that comment. I don’t mind connecting the dots. But what I was getting at is surly we can agree that there would have been periods that plant foods (that humans could eat and get enough calories) would have been scarce at times in a very cold environment. I would never suggest that there were not plants to be eaten at all. There had to be for the grazers. But remember plenty of animals, i.e. moose, have to go through periods where food is unavailable for a long time such as during winter. In an ice age I could see that as fairly common for humans too. Kept-adaptation would have been a frequent part of their lives (this is my conjecture), it says nothing about their diet.

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 12:56

      Are you saying that Northern Europe was the same as California during the ice age?

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 13:36

      I read the berry version was for the colonizers, because they didn’t like the full meat version.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 2, 2014 at 16:09

      Dan said: “surly we can agree that there would have been periods that plant foods (that humans could eat and get enough calories) would have been scarce at times in a very cold environment”

      Of course. But just like a squirrel stores nuts for the winter, I should think that humans had the ability to store rhizomes/tubers for the winter as well. Even the Inuit stored Yupik potatoes for the winter. We shouldn’t assume that humans were unable to plan ahead. We agree that people often starved and as the Inuit show, adaptation to starvation ketosis was likely common.

      I think the trouble is assuming that just because plants were unavailable that animals were easy to come by. Given that even modern Hadza have poor success rates, I would imagine that animals weren’t exactly growing on trees either.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 2, 2014 at 16:11

      “Are you saying that Northern Europe was the same as California during the ice age?”

      Heh. No. I’m saying that where there are wildflowers, as the researchers now believe is what “dominated” the ice age landscape, bees are usually pollinating those wildflowers (i.e. wildflowers typically need bees to pollinate them).

      My understanding is that Arctic bees exist, and are usually found wherever wildflowers are found.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 2, 2014 at 16:15

      “I read the berry version was for the colonizers, because they didn’t like the full meat version.”

      Just curious, but where do you see that? Chokeberries were an important part of the Blackfoot culture and the tannins in the berries are believed to help preserve the pemmican.

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 23:26

      Genna, thanks for the link love:)

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 23:28

      I honestly don’t remember. I think Phinney mentioned it on one of his videos.

    • Gemma on November 3, 2014 at 04:11


      That was a warning, not promotion of your blog!

    • Dan on November 3, 2014 at 11:00

      Yup I’m aware of that.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 3, 2014 at 11:18

      Given that Phinney relies on Stefansson so heavily, my guess is that’s where he got it from.

      Stefansson argues with himself in “The Fat of the Land.” He claims that berry pemmican must have been engineered to satisfy the tastes of white fur hunters, but he later admits there’s evidence of berry pemmican being made by the Indians before the white man ever showed up. Per Wikholm covered this in his LCHF Magasinet article. I wouldn’t be surprised if Phinney overlooked that.

      It’s yet another example of Stefansson refuting himself.

      Incidentally, Per points out that the concept of storing berries in fat has also traditionally been used by the Samis in Nordic countries. So, it hardly seems like the Blackfoot’s invention for trading with modern whites.

      And why let your extra berries go to waste? Truthfully it makes sense to store extra berries in fat if you were trying to store every possible carb for Winter, since it would be another antidote to rabbit/caribou-starvation in late Winter and early spring.

      (Hat tip to Per for pointing this all out)

  10. Jake on October 30, 2014 at 23:12

    Duck, you have not mentioned your credentials, I have noticed that. Whether a desire to not taint the discussion with “appeal to authority”, lack thereof or simply modesty makes no difference. Your posts are the clearest, most concise and thoroughly referenced of any I have read since I started on my “paleo journey”, and more to the point they are the ones which I have derived the most personal benefit.
    I posted a tongue-in-cheek comment in reference to the “Man will never fly society” in Richard’s last post, that is how I see the two of you, the Wilbur & Orville of the ancestral health community. IE they will laugh until one day they gasp and STFU, slink away in shame. Anyway, my thanks for your tireless legwork, Dusk, and to Richard’s “fuck em all” attitude that provides the platform.

    PS, Hat Tip to Tatertot Tim as well, the 3rd “Wright Brother”

    • Richard Nikoley on October 31, 2014 at 02:20


      You are man who understands my suicidal madness.

    • pzo on November 1, 2014 at 04:10

      I just told someone that people like Richard, Dave Asprey, Mark Sisson and others are proof that high intelligence coupled with curiosity and lots of information are often better “authorities” than the academically inbred ones.

      In simplest example, think of all those nutrionists and dietitians spouting the dogma of officially approved diets………..while everyone is sick and dying. But, sure keep on doing the same thing….

  11. Bret on October 31, 2014 at 04:06

    Scathing, Duck. Well done. Kudos to Richard for hosting it here and keeping the discussion alive.

    I very much doubt Eades is going to read it. The “I don’t have time” cop-out is all too easy to take — even though, as Richard pointed out above, he seems to find the time in certain cases. Just not in yours.

    He and his relentlessly loyal, worshipful fans can continue to live in ignorant bliss. We shall all pity them ironically when they are fighting off kidney stones, gout, and other consequences of a biologically inappropriate diet.

    Thanks to this entire interchange, going months back, any time I run across the phrase ‘confirmation bias,’ I think of Eades, though certainly not in the way he intended when he wrote that post.

  12. Starch+lvr on October 31, 2014 at 05:09

    Damn, I just get to thinking how well read I am on this topic and DD and others show me that I’m not.

    To tell you the truth, when I saw this post I thought, “oh know, more Eskimo and Eades shit!”

    But it has been eye opening and interesting.

  13. GTR on October 31, 2014 at 13:48

    So basically a guy who wrote Protein Power book, and sells protein-preparation kitchen tools think it’s bad to propagate the message that a group of indigenous people ate a lot of protein?

    • Richard Nikoley on October 31, 2014 at 14:46

      The irony just keeps coming and coming.

    • JOhn on November 1, 2014 at 02:28

      I’d like to find someone who is knowledgeable in dietary health, state that his protein shakes are a better dietary choice than potatoes and legumes. On second thought’s, I probably wouldn’t.

  14. ChocoTaco369 on October 31, 2014 at 16:42

    I think that the interesting point is that the Inuit is consistently the ONLY traditional society that’s ever used to bolster claims of a high fat diet. There are no documented ketogenic societies, and even if there WERE and the Inuit WERE ketogenic, that’s the ONLY ONE. There are COUNTLESS high carb/low fat traditional societies stomping around Africa TODAY. Carbohydrate, over and over again, has been proven to be much more widely consumed than dietary fat. This is also evident since we…get this…BURN IT PREFERENTIALLY to fat. Carbs generate more ATP when burnt for fuel than fats. 90% of the cells in our body depend on carbs to stay healthy, not fats (gut microbes). Carbs are stored as glycogen, fat is stored as adipose tissue. The body RUNS ON CARBS.

    Why the hell would anyone want to mirror their diet after the Inuit anyway? They are typically chubby and age extremely rapidly, so why anyone would want to look like the most haggard traditional society is beyond me. I would much rather look like one of those African villagers that can sprint at world record pace, do 30 chin-ups and spear a tiger than a freezer burnt Inuit dragging a freshly clubbed seal’s corpse through an ice storm.

    • Daniel on October 31, 2014 at 16:51

      Fat produces more ATP per gram than carbs. Also, the whole preferential argument is entering some grey area there. Out bodies can survive without carbs, but cannot without fat. Thus, you could equally make an argument that fat is more needed than carbs. I don’t think making either argument (i.e one is ‘essential’) is really productive. I agree with your point on Inuit though. They are one group of many, which do consume carbs. I just don’t see how this really refutes why a high fat diet is bad for you.

    • Jo on November 1, 2014 at 00:50

      One can also consider that fat, either from animals or plant based, was generally hard to get (meaning expensive) until recently and had many other uses (for lighting, heating, medicinal, cosmetic uses, protecting the surface of stuff, cosmetic, etc.) compared to protein/carbs…. It was only natural that fat was therefore not much available as food.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 1, 2014 at 16:36

      “On an equal calorie/protein diet, a person eating plenty of carbs will have a faster metabolism and a warmer body temperature than a person on a low carb or ketogenic diet”

      I know PlantPositive is controversial, but interestingly he speculated that the warmer body temperatures from carbs may have been why the freezing Inuit preferred to not be in ketosis and had their livers convert much of their excess protein into carbs. I don’t know enough on the subject to know if that actually works out metabolically or not, so don’t shoot the messenger.

      I do know the Inuit were known to be very warm to the touch—and incidentally the Inuit believed this warmth came about from eating fresh and particularly rotted, raw meat.

    • ChocoTaco369 on November 1, 2014 at 11:54

      The body at any given time is making more ATP out of fat than carbs because your body burns a lot more fat than it does sugars. It stores tens of thousands of calories of fat and only around 1-2K calories of glycogen. However, gram per gram, carbs make more ATP than fats. That’s why carbs better fuel workouts. Instantaneously, they generate more fuel more rapidly and better support cellular respiration. On an equal calorie/protein diet, a person eating plenty of carbs will have a faster metabolism and a warmer body temperature than a person on a low carb or ketogenic diet.

      What you say about fat is not true. Fat is not essential. There is no fundamental NEED to eat fat. Same with carbs. “Essential fatty acids” are not essential to human life. The body just doesn’t make them endogenously. There is no study, ever, that shows eating a 0 omega diet will kill you, and even if it could, it’s fundamentally impossible because all real food contains trace elements of all fatty acids.

      What is 100% for certain is that the body needs carbohydrate and fat to function optimally. A person cannot function at a high level restricting either to very low points. It is a balancing act. For optimal function, I’d throw the balance to carbs for functionality, energy, youth and overall health. A low carb diet by nature starves the gut, which will eventually lead to food intolerances and/or allergies, and physiological resistance to insulin.

    • Bret on November 1, 2014 at 16:25

      Out bodies can survive without carbs…

      Until we develop kidney stones, gout, iron overload, vitamin A toxicity, and so on. Then we are relying on modern medicine to keep us alive.

      The idea that carbs are not essential has some severe limitations, such as the above. Many important nutrients, such as potassium, can only be obtained in sufficient quantity from in carbohydrate-rich foods, not counting isolated/pulverized/capsule-type supplements. Therefore, I think it’s a stretch to say we can survive without carbs. That begs the questions, “For how long?” and, “But can we thrive without them?”

      I don’t mean to take this clause out of the context of the rest of your comment. I do agree with you that it is silly to look at either fats or carbs in an all-or-nothing manner. They are both essential parts of a healthy diet. The question of course is in what amounts, in what proportion to one another, and whether these items vary from person to person.

      I just don’t see how this really refutes why a high fat diet is bad for you.

      It doesn’t prove that a high-fat diet is harmful. However, it yanks the rug out from under VLC/KG true believers, who keep trying to argue that evolution adapted us to eat this way. The Inuit are the only people these folks can cite, and they don’t even understand the nature of the Inuit diet. They seem to think simplistically that ‘all meat’ (which itself isn’t quite true) is the same as ‘high-fat/ketogenic’ — a mythical notion Duck has debunked exhaustively, but people like Eades insist on keeping alive.

      Without a sizable, healthy culture to corroborate it, the ketogenic diet as a baseline recommendation for all seems to make little sense. It is just not supported by any evolutionary evidence or logic besides. As tater, Duck, Richard, et al have mentioned, fat was too scarce in an evolutionary context to allow for ketogenic diets.

    • Dan on November 2, 2014 at 13:45

      We are in agreement. My only addition to that, and you have pretty much said it, is that there is evidence for kept-adaptation to be beneficial, but this evidence is not from evolution. However, my argument is that we would have had periods of starvation and I’m sure our bodies have evolved to deal with that through kept-adaptation. One could argue that this is not healthy to be in a starvation state long term but the same could be said for a fed state, which is what you do if you constantly eat carbs or high calories. Right?

      I don’t disagree with the HG argument, and even if Inuit were high fat and in ketosis I don’t think it matters when 99% of HG groups were not. To me I just don’t think that that is a good line of evidence anyway. Edit: Well I have no doubt Inuit were kept-adapted just not all the time, probably most of the time.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 17:11

      “One could argue that this is not healthy to be in a starvation state long term but the same could be said for a fed state, which is what you do if you constantly eat carbs or high calories. Right?”


      You can eat nothing but potatoes and be well into ketosis. You can lose much weight rapidly by eating nothing but potatoes. Look up ‘potato hack’ on the blog.

      A caloric deficit, regardless of composition, is far more effective at inducing ketosis than is some fantasy diet designed to be ad libitum energy sufficient.

      You can be in deep ketosis on a 1,200 kcal per day honey diet.

      This is what is fucktarded about the whole thing. Ketosis is starvation adaptation. Fucktards endeavor to show its natural, provided you restrict both carbs and protein, and eat almost nothing but fat.

      It is to fucking laf.

    • Dan on November 3, 2014 at 11:07

      Choco unless there is something I am missing I don’t see this as true. Fat is more energy dense per gram than carbohydrates are.

      Read this (link at end).

      “On the other hand, gram for gram, fats provide more energy than carbohydrates.

      The reason for this is the amount of oxidation that takes place as these compounds are converted to carbon dioxide and water. Carbon for carbon, fats require more oxidation to become CO2 and H2O than do carbohydrates. Roughly speaking, carbohydrates already have one oxygen for every carbon atom, thus, each carbon atom needs only one more oxygen and each pair of hydrogen atoms needs one more oxygen. However, almost every carbon atom in a fat molecule needs two oxygens instead of just one additional one, and each pair of hydrogen atoms still needs one more oxygen. So, just from counting the number of oxygens needed to be added, fats require about half again as much oxygen for the same number of carbon atoms. Because of this, the oxidation of fats takes longer, but it also gives off more energy.

      When comparing gram to gram, instead of carbon to carbon, the effect is exaggerated. When you weigh a carbohydrate, more oxygen is included in that weight. When you weigh a fat, you get more carbon atoms per gram and therefore, gram for gram, the fats will give even more energy (over twice as much) than will the carbohydrates. Generally, fats provide about 9 kilocalories per gram and carbohydrates provide about 4 kilocalories per gram. (Using nutritional units, that is 9 Calories/gram for fats and 4 Calories/gram for carbohydrates.)”

    • Dan on November 3, 2014 at 11:13

      I did wonder that myself because my ketones didn’t go up when I was not in a calorie deficit. However, I am dubious to think that raising my carbs high would make me stay kept-adapted. Have you got any links for this Richard? Otherwise I will do a self experiment.

  15. Dan on October 31, 2014 at 18:06

    Actually ChocoTaco here is a question for you. If carbs are the primary fuel utilized by the body, in other words if present it is burn’t off first then we have to ask how all these unique adaptations came about for fat burning. If carbs were always present then there would be zero selection pressure for these adaptation. Thus the only logical argument is that extensive periods existed where fat metabolism was vital, and as such eating high fat diets have been a part of our diet. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I enjoy debating this and I hope I am not coming across as aggressive or a douche bag.

    • forgotmylastusername on October 31, 2014 at 23:59

      We are always burning fat and glucose. It isn’t an either/or. Although it’s pretty clear that the paleo narrative of eating slabs of fat 3 times a day is just wishful thinking that isn’t at all supported by evidence.
      People get attached to their dietary beliefs for many reasons. At-least one of those reasons is that people want to live on bacon, eggs and fatty pork belly ribs everyday. I remember when I discovered low carb and lost weight eating such a diet, I tried to find anything and everything that supported the view that this is the optimal diet.

    • ChocoTaco369 on November 3, 2014 at 09:00

      Dan, I’m not sure if you are trying to misrepresent my argument or not.

      As I mentioned earlier, your body burns far more fat than carbs throughout the day. Your body stores tens of thousands of calories worth of fat, and only around 1,000-2,000 calories worth of glycogen. And as the commenter mentioned above, you always burn fat AND glucose to degrees no matter when your last meal and what you’ve eaten.

      What the body craves to do is step up glucose metabolism at the expense of fatty acid metabolism at times. Most of your day is a catabolic state in terms of time – you are generally fasting. When you are being fed, your body hopes to swing into intense bursts of anabolic metabolism. When you’re not feeding yourself carbs, you lower the net anabolic state. People on low carb diets have trouble building muscle. They have low body temperatures. That’s because they don’t have as strong of an anabolic reaction after meals. Your health is a “rolling average” of states. Since your body is typically eating itself, it is important to make the fed states POSITIVE. Carbs do this best.

    • Dan on November 4, 2014 at 12:56

      Nope not trying to misrepresent you Choco. I am stating that gram for gram fat produces more ATP. Biochemically at least.

      I have also said in just about every post that it is redundant to say that one fuel is preferred over the other, and that they are both burn’t. I was merely highlighting that if one was going to claim carbs were ‘preferred’ I could make similar arguments, which I made above, for fat. Both are pointless arguments however, which was my point.

      Also not sure about the body temperature argument. At least there is some contradictory information. Heres some info I found from Time magazine on a google link I will attach below.

      Carbohydrate Sources
      “Most raw fruits and vegetables are 80-95% water, and anything that contains a lot of water is very easy to digest and goes through the digestive system very quickly, giving you a cooling sensation,” says Swanson. Easy digestion means less energy and heat.”

      “It turns out the fat content in ice cream actually makes your body warmer. “Foods that contain more fat, protein, and carbohydrates often heat the body up a little bit while digesting food,” says Swanson. “The sheer temperature difference gives a cooling sensation, but when your body starts to digest, you feel warm because your body has to provide energy to digest that food product. Fat is notorious for moving slowly through the digestive system so it takes more energy to digest that fat. Anytime you are putting more energy through the system, whether it be digestion or weight lifting, your body has a tendency to heat up.”

      So it does mention complex carbs as been important but clearly the story is more complicated than a simple – carbs warm you up more hypothesis.

  16. Dan on November 1, 2014 at 00:36

    I agree that we don’t just burn fat or glucose. Hence, my argument that you cannot really state that one is ‘preferred’.

    I’m not sure what to say about your low carb argument because you could make that same argument for any diet and dieter. If one is likely to try to convince oneself that the current diet is optimal, then they will probably repeat this behaviour on the next diet.

    • Gemma on November 1, 2014 at 00:53

      This debate on fat or glucose preference leads to nowhere.

      We are not talking the human body preferences only, we are talking about our gut microbes that are EXPECTING COMPLEX POLYSACCHARIDES to feast on.

    • JOhn on November 1, 2014 at 02:01

      I agree Gemma. Our body burns whatever it has available. Fat or glucose/starch. Whatever ever gets burnt first is of little importance. But whole food carbohydrates are way more important to our health because they generally contain way more than just glucose, they also contain fiber. Well, not just “fiber”, which most paleo guru’s claim is almost of little importance, but fibers like inulolin, resistant starch, polysaccrides and various other fibers that are way more important to health than most paleo proponents would ever recognize.

    • Dan on November 1, 2014 at 12:52

      I originally had a comment up that said fat or glucose preference doesn’t make sense. It is gone for some reason but basically we are all in agreement.

  17. pzo on November 1, 2014 at 04:29

    Stepping back from the trees to find a forest, Denise Minger’s lecture on what we can learn from the vegans gave me this insight: Extremely high fat or low fat diets seem to be great interventions for metabolically sick people. Although she doesn’t look into these diets in the long term, it’s obvious anecdotally that problems almost always arise. Perhaps not for some individuals, the outliers, but the lists of ailments long term on both sides is impressive.

    Once back from the edges of human diet, we find a very logical choice in the Perfect Health Diet.

    I, too, question all this fascination with the Inuits. First, too stupid to head for warmer climes, two whole continents before them! Not meaning to be nasty, but you’ve got to wonder. (pzo writes as dawn is struggling over Whitaker Bayou in Sarasota, Florida, windows open to the breezes. Plenty of mullet, snook, snapper, sheepshead, and redfish to be had for little effort.) Even the Lap’s, on the other side of the Atlantic seem to have not eaten so narrowly.

    Then, there’s the matter of rapid aging including skin and joint deterioration and IIRC, heart problems. Not exactly poster kids for a high protein, LC diet.

    In other words, take away this ONE population, and we have NO population that comes near to it dietarily. Oh, yeah, back to SW Florida, the Europeans that ran into the Calusa Indians here all commented on how BIG those buggers were………..and hell to defeat in battle. Their diet? Huge amounts of fish and shellfish, as the shell mounds indicate. But they also ate alligators, deer, turtles, and a decent amount of berries, “swamp cabbage” from palm trees, and coconuts. A Perfect Health Diet if there ever was.

    • gabkad on November 1, 2014 at 06:34

      pzo, there weren’t any coconuts in those days.

    • pzo on November 1, 2014 at 07:24

      I’m certainly willing to admit it was a presumption of mine.

      But Wikipedia tells us otherwise: “O.F. Cook was one of the earliest modern researchers to draw conclusions about the location of origin of Cocos nucifera based on its current-day worldwide distribution.[27] He hypothesized that the coconut originated in the Americas, based on the fact that American coconut populations predated European contact and because he considered pan-tropical distribution by ocean currents improbable”

      On the west coast of Florida, Tampa Bay is the northern limit due to cold in the winter.

  18. pzo on November 1, 2014 at 18:41

    Not exactly on topic on these arguments, but I came across something very interesting. We’ve all read about how assorted native type folks find nirvana in sugar, flour, McDonalds, etc., and how their health suffers.

    Well, the people from the HMS Bounty who settled on Pitcairn Island seem to have been the reverse. The several ships who came along in the years and decades after the establishment of that colony all noted the exquisite health of the inhabitants. This and other sources make you realize that the average European then had a very poor diet and subsequent health.

    With what we know now, not surprising at all.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2014 at 19:52

      What do you expect?

      Mel Gibson attracted a lot of brown skinned beautiest to the island. Occam’s Razor.

    • pzo on November 2, 2014 at 10:53

      We’ve all seen the studies that show what happens to native people when they go to a Wester SAD diet. Although just anecdotal and a long time ago, it’s nice to see what can happen going in the other direction in an isolated population.

    • Nürnberg on November 3, 2014 at 22:54

      Not to be overly picky but I always loved the story of the mutiny on the Bounty so I just have to point out that at the time the colonists at Pitcairn Island were discovered by the Royal Navy there was but one surviving white man, John Adams, living alone with all the women they’d kidnapped from Tahiti, and a whole lot of kids. The rest had been killed for various reasons, the resentment of the Polynesian men they’d brought along and started treating like slaves being one. So I’m sure the inhabitants were healthy although hardly surprising given that they were almost all native Polynesians, albeit some of mixed blood.

    • pzo on November 4, 2014 at 03:03

      I wish I could remember the title and author of the Bounty book I read about six months ago but I can’t. The woman who wrote it took the accounts from the existing logs, court records, and letters from the principles.

      Per my not very good memory, there were NO polynesian men on Pitcairn, and the men on Pitcairn were all Brits or descendants of Brits. There was a lot of competition for the available pussy, er, women, and the latter were treated as chattel. Probably close to the hunter-gatherer communal norm, I’d wager.

      I recall that the last time the Bounty put into Tahiti, already on the run, if you will, they hosted a bunch of women on board, and then set sail. Several saw what was happening, and jumped overboard. There was already a long history of visits to Tahiti and other locations with plenty of fucking with the natives. The record doesn’t have much to say about what the Polynesian men had to say. Perhaps they were like the plains Indians men who thought that if their women fucked the strangers who had amazing “medicine,” guns and such, that they would subsequently attain the medicine fucking their women after the Europeans did. But, bottom line, I don’t know.

      Anyway, short of finding that book again and rereading the pertinent parts, I don’t think what you say is accurate.

    • Nürnberg on November 4, 2014 at 06:48

      I refer you to almighty and ever trustworthy Wikipedia:

      According to the article there were indeed 6 Polynesian men on board. The next section, “Death of Fletcher Christian” gives more details regarding the killings, even though that section is not referenced it agrees with what I’ve read (outside of Wikipedia that is), namely that all the Polynesians and all whites but Adams were dead by the time the colony was discovered. The main reference for the section I linked appears to be a 2003 book by one Caroline Alexander, is she by any chance the lady you are referring to? I have read other books on the topic thouhg not this one but they agree with the above.

      I admit I was not quite precise regarding the women though, as some of them were in fact there voluntarily though most were kidnapped from Tahiti. Anyway, I don’t engage in online arguments just for the fun of it but in case you recall the name of your contradictory source please let me know, I’d be interested. Rather interesting how their little society collapsed into noble savagery.

    • Nürnberg on November 4, 2014 at 06:52

      *all the Polynesian MEN were dead of course, as I wrote previously.

    • pzo on November 4, 2014 at 11:31

      You’re probably correct. My memory has never been great.
      The point was, of course, that the very real foods diet they were on led to great health as noticed and recorded by the visiting Brits.

  19. Duck+Dodgers on November 2, 2014 at 06:34

    The Inuit supposedly evolved with abnormally large livers, apparently to help them convert protein to carbohydrates. So that may be an adaptation to a high protein diet. But saying that you are poor at secreting insulin doesn’t necessarily mean you evolved to eat more protein and less carbohydrate. It’s a bit like saying I’m bad at soccer so I must be good at football. For all we know, it just means you evolved eating more fiber which slows carbs and contributes to intestinal gluconeogenesis. I guess I’m saying we just don’t know.

    And if I remember correctly (I’d have to check and I’m away from my computer at the moment) I think Rabinowitch found that the Inuit had lower cholesterol in their blood than what Stefansson and Anderson had, which was another data point showing that they probably weren’t simulating the Inuit diet/lifestyle during the Bellevue Experiment.

  20. Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 09:19


    Dr. Eades approved another comment today. Sorry, he doesn’t have comment permalinks enabled and I care too little to make one.

    He approved a Standard Spew from the Razwell Virus. What’s worse? He told him to go for it. Apparently, Mike is pressed for time (again and always).

    • Duck Dodgers on November 3, 2014 at 09:39

      I love how Razwell sets up his diabolical plan to refute me with a foundation of logical fallacies. Here all I’ve done is present 150 years of evidence—study after study, and observation after observation—while also presenting Per’s research showing that Stefansson refuted his own statements as well as evidence showing Stefansson’s untrustworthiness. I’ve presented this mountain of evidence and all they can do is dismiss it! They are so steeped in fallacies, I’m beginning to wonder if VLC is correlated with an inability to think rationally.

      There’s already a laundry list of fallacies team Eades has employed, so far, to keep their Inuit myth alive:

      Argument from ignorance (appeal to ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam) — assuming that a claim is true because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa.

      Argument from silence (argumentum e silentio) — where the conclusion is based on the absence of evidence, rather than the existence of evidence.

      (Shifting the) Burden of proof (see — onus probandi) — I need not prove my claim, you must prove it is false.

      Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is the tendency to favor information that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses and to ignore information that disagrees with one’s point of view.

      Continuum fallacy (fallacy of the beard, line-drawing fallacy, sorites fallacy, fallacy of the heap, bald man fallacy) — improperly rejecting a claim for being imprecise.

      Argument from authority (authoritative argument, appeal to authority, argumentum ab auctoritate), is a common form of argument which leads to a logical fallacy when misused… Fallacious examples of using the appeal include any appeal to authority used in the context of logical reasoning, and appealing to the position of an authority or authorities to dismiss evidence.

      Courtier’s Reply is an alleged type of logical fallacy, in which a respondent to criticism claims that the critic lacks sufficient knowledge, credentials, or training to pose any sort of criticism whatsoever. It may be considered a form of argument from authority.

      I’ve been accused of “confirmation bias,” but the very definition of confirmation bias requires one to “ignore information that disagrees with one’s point of view.” Except I’m the only one who has actually taken the time to address everything! Given that Eades has only appealed to his own authority—without presenting any evidence to make his case—it’s difficult to accuse me of ignoring evidence.

      In reality, I’m just the messenger. 150 years of scientific literature says, “X”. It’s not my fault that’s what the literature says. And it’s not my fault they never bothered to read the scientific literature to begin with.

      It’s up to naysayers to refute “X” without resorting to logical fallacies. If they can do that, great—I welcome learning more about it (that’s why I do this). If they can’t, they should really give it a rest because they are just embarrassing themselves with a giant face palm.

    • Bret on November 2, 2014 at 19:01

      Apparently, Mike is pressed for time (again and always).

      Is anyone surprised? Forget this guy; he’s a joke.

      I’ve heard from plenty of people that Eades is a nice person. A southern gentleman or something like that. So it probably feels awkward, mean, whatever, giving him this treatment. But he has earned every bit of it. Nice or not, he’s useless. Watching him censor dissent he cannot refute has been a complete, unmitigated disappointment. I’m not wasting another second of my time reading his opinion on dietary issues, or anything else for that matter. I’d be just as well off consulting the USDA.

    • Duck Dodgers on November 3, 2014 at 10:20

      …And how could I forget Eades’ most egregious fallacy of all…

      • Dogmatism: the claim that the issue at hand is beyond argument, that the solution is self-evident.

      Almost humorously, a dogmatist will often claim they don’t have time to debate because the truth is so apparent and “basic.” This stance is often intended to block communication of any sort.

      Sounds very familiar.

      I suppose dogmatism can only exist within a framework of fallacies. So, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that they rely on them so heavily in their arguments.

    • Bret on November 3, 2014 at 20:30

      Almost humorously, a dogmatist will often claim they don’t have time to debate because the truth is so apparent and “basic.”

      Nora G. dropped a similar line in an interview a while back. Though, instead of lacking time to debate, she lacked the time to look into the resistant starch thing. It was a real eye roller.

      “I don’t have time” is the biggest cop out in the world. Everybody has 24 hrs each day in which potentially to look something up. If he doesn’t, it is because he chose not to, by prioritizing different activities. If you truly want to learn about something, rather than simply reinforce existing biases, you will find the time to look into it, or debate it for that matter.

  21. Richard Nikoley on November 2, 2014 at 17:19

    That’s confounded.

    What if she did an 1800 cal per day honey diet. Or 1600?

  22. Duck Dodgers on November 3, 2014 at 17:42

    Well, I’m not a geneticist, so I have no idea. I suppose it relates in that we are supposedly rapidly adapting to a Neolithic, grain-based diet, over the past few thousand years, but we are not quite there yet. I would imagine we are likely far beyond having to worry about what our Neanderthal ancestors ate for breakfast every day.

    Don’t forget Guyenet also showed that even the Neanderthals ate wild legumes and grains:

    From: Beans, Lentils, and the Paleo Diet

    Legume consumption by Neanderthals

    Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were a hominin species closely related to modern humans. They lived as hunter-gatherers in similar environments to some humans, and are thought to have eaten a diet rich in animal foods. However, evidence is accumulating that their diets also featured a variety of plant foods, including wild legumes and grains. Some of the most compelling evidence comes from the analysis of Neanderthal tooth plaque, which contains recognizable evidence of plant food consumption (2):

    “Our data show that Neanderthals in both environments included a spectrum of plant foods in their diets, including grass seeds (Triticeae cf. Hordeum), dates (Phoenix), legumes (Faboideae), plant underground storage organs, and other yet-unidentified plants, and that several of the consumed plants had been cooked. The identified plant foods from Shanidar match well with the soil phytoliths and macrobotanical remains found at other Neanderthal sites in the Near East, whereas those from Spy show use of USOs as predicted for European Neanderthals. Neanderthals’ consumption of these starchy plant foods does not contradict data from isotope analysis, because nitrogen isotopes record only the consumption of meat and protein-rich plant foods.”

    Did Neanderthals enjoy wild varieties of peas and fava beans? It certainly appears that they did.

    Humans are thought to have eaten a more diverse diet than Neanderthals in the Upper Paleolithic, and one that relied more on small game and plant resources than the Neanderthal diet (at least after the “broad-spectrum revolution“). It’s hard to imagine that our human ancestors in Europe passed up these plant foods that Neanderthals relied on.

    Guyenet also often makes a point of explaining that USOs (i.e. starchy tubers) were likely often consumed by pre-Neolithic cultures. So, I’m not convinced that descendants of Europeans have adaptations to an Inuit-like diet just because of a single allele buried deep in one’s DNA.

  23. Gemma on November 3, 2014 at 04:15


    THREE MONTHS. Short-term therapeutic intervention, yes, that might work.
    And what now? Is she able to go on like this for, say, three years?
    A hint: No.

  24. Sky on November 3, 2014 at 04:49

    This GREAT article from the NY Times makes it all moot:

    Enough of the splitting hairs while trying to distinguish and separate your own beliefs/agendas from the others.

    The bottom line: Follow a LCHF diet while trying to keep the carbs (especially the processed kind) from anywhere around 100gms/day to less than that. This should work for the majority of the people out there.

    • Gemma on November 3, 2014 at 08:18


      This NYT article by otherwise usually great author Ed Yong does not mention the influence of nutrition on a human microbiome, which is what we have been talking here. And Jeff Leach as well.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2014 at 08:43

      Yep. And no serious mention of RS, etc.

      I like the thrust of the article and in fact, this is what Tim and I were saying from the start. Feed it, let them sort it out. Yes, almost everything can be beneficial or pathogenic. Dose (or population or relative population) makes the poison.

      But looking at this as an argument to starve the gut with an HFLC diet is super fucktarded.

  25. Duck Dodgers on November 3, 2014 at 08:53

    Perhaps. I don’t doubt that’s true for you, and I hardly know your history. But, I believe carb metabolism can be quite complex. For instance, someone who eats VLC for just three days temporarily fucks up their carb tolerance.

    Short-term low carbohydrate/high-fat diet intake increases postprandial plasma glucose and glucagon-like peptide-1 levels during an oral glucose tolerance test in healthy men.

    …Which makes me wonder if those who eat a cyclical ketogenic diet are continuously duped into thinking that they don’t tolerate carbs very well—perhaps not unlike bashing their head into a wall over and over again.

    And of course, over the past year we’ve uncovered volumes of evidence showing that fibers and a healthy gut biome are crucial to carb tolerance. Certain fibers appear to be particularly good at blunting glucose spikes, and in conjunction with the right biome, they appear to slowly improve our ability to handle carbs over time.

    So, should we automatically assume that a human’s carb tolerance is determined by a single allele in a genome? I doubt it’s that simple.

  26. Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2014 at 09:34

    Duck, v is a solipsist.

    Many folks who comment over years and years, insisting that what they do is what everyone ought to do (it’s so simple), are.

  27. Duck Dodgers on November 3, 2014 at 09:42

    v. It likely does relate. And I always like hearing what Stephan Guyenet has to say. I think he raises some excellent points.

  28. Duck Dodgers on November 4, 2014 at 18:32

    v, I’m not here to diagnose you. I’m not a geneticist. I’m not sure why you care what I think of your genetics. If you can’t eat carbs, you can’t eat carbs. What do you want me to tell you? All I’m saying is that it seems a bit silly to blame it all on your DNA when genetics itself is still in its infancy.

    Just curious, but do you come from a long line of meat eaters? Did your recent ancestors eat carbs? Did they do ok? Or are you the first person in your family to have this unique issue?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.