Thursday, May 5, 2011

Venus Revisited, 2

Chew on this excerpt from [full text available] "Isocaloric diets: effects of dietary changes" by Leveille and Cloutier:

"Forbes and colleagues (8, 9) published several papers in 1946 on the relationship between the level of fat in the diet of adult rats and the efficiency of use of dietary energy. In those studies dietary fat varied from 2% to 30%, while intake of gross energy, protein, and essential nutrients remained constant. Researchers
observed that as the dietary fat content increased, relative heat production decreased. Thus, with increasing fat intake the apparent efficiency of food use increased, allowing for more energy to be stored in the animal carcass (see Fig 2). In essence, more energy is stored as fat in the body as the proportion of fat to carbohydrate increases in the diet.


"Increasing the protein level of the diet at the expense of carbohydrate also results in changes in apparent energy efficiency. Donald et al (10) observed that adult rats fed a high-protein diet gained more weight than a similar group fed low-protein diet when the content of dietary  fat was maintained at a constant level and levels of protein varied from 5% to 25%. The animals had free access to food and water. Absolute food consumption, ie, g/rat, was not significantly different between the 5% and 25% groups. Yet total body weight gain and body fat were higher in the 25% group (Table 2).
 

"Humans appear to respond in much the same way as rats to changes in dietary composition. Danforth (11) noted that lean subjects gained weight relatively easily when overfed fat but not when fed a mixed diet of carbohydrate and fat. In an earlier study by Miller and Mumford (12), researchers observed that students overfed a high-protein diet gained more weight than a group of students fed a low-protein diet with a similar number of calories. The weight gain for both diets was less than the predicted value."

These studies showed that when we hold the caloric content of a  human or rat diet constant,  but vary the macronutrient composition, increasing either fat or protein at the expense of carbohydrate leads to greater gain of fat.


Here's table 2 from the paper:




 Although fed the same number of calories, the rats fed a high (25%) protein diet weighed 23% more than those fed the low (5%) protein diet, and had 50% greater body fat percentage.  


The European upper paleolithic diet was high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrate, which according to this type of research, has the highest food efficiency and promotes the highest body fat percentage.


Maybe that's why Venus was obese, maybe that's why people eating 'primal' and supposedly 'paleo' diets have trouble losing fat, maybe that's why only 3% of  Japanese are obese.

Just maybe.



44 comments:

Stabby said...

Nice post. I like the implication for rapid weight-loss.

But does this mean that for someone like me who is lean but doesn't like to die early, I should eat more fat and less carbohydrate because I can burn it more efficiently and spare myself the reactive oxygen species and digestive strain?

peter said...

If that is the case, what diet would you suggest for losing fat?

Anya said...

And we are back to the traditional paleo diets from De Vany / Cordain / Boyd Eaton / Staffan Lindeberg, none of whom ever advocated high fat...

They all said basically the same : go easy on the carbohydrates (specifically if you are not exercising much). Go easy on the fat . Eat as unprocessed as possible (include raw if you can) . Drop the neolithic agents of disease (check your tolerance) . Eat mostly plants . Vary.

These are the real scientists that have studied this stuff for decades. Not casual bloggers that discovered this a few years ago.

Makro said...

"Maybe that's why Venus was obese, maybe that's why people eating 'primal' and supposedly 'paleo' diets have trouble losing fat, maybe that's why only 3% of Japanese are obese."

Perhaps, but I doubt it. In western practice, in actual experimental comparisons between high-fat calorie unrestricted diets and low-fat calorie restricted diets, the supposedly fattening diets usually come out on top.

This just does not square with animal fats or protein being uniquely fattening.

I.e. see for instance:

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/9/969

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/359/3/229

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12761365

http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/reprint/88/4/1617

Furthermore, while no weight loss method is terribly effective long-term in randomized trials, the results from high-carb, calorie-restricted japanese-inspired trials tend to be just terrible:

http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD003640/frame.html

Vadim G said...

Why maybe? Isnt this pretty conclusive? do we need more clean carbs than we think we do?

Ned Kock said...

Hi Don.

Very good points you've been making, but I think that when we look at macronutrients we tend to miss an important point: how nutrient-dense different food classes are. And this has to consider both macro and micronutrients.

One can consume the same amount of carbs, but depending on the food source, satiety may be very different. For example, fruits appear to be more satiating than both wheat and rice, on a gram-adjusted basis (from China Study II data analysis: bit.ly/hRu25A).

In the China Study II data (see: bit.ly/hRu25A), wheat flour consumption is more strongly associated with total calories than rice; with both associations being positive. Animal food consumption is negatively associated, somewhat weakly but statistically significantly, with total calories. This means that, as animal food consumption goes up, total calories consumed go down.

If it comes from animals foods, fat is satiating not only because so much in our body is made of fat and/or requires fat to run properly; but also because animal fat contains micronutrients, and helps with the absorption of those micronutrients.

One way or another, thank you for a very intellectually stimulating set of posts.

john said...

What do your meals look like now-nutrient dense protein sources like shellfish combined with different starches?

I definitely have trouble maintaning muscle and strength without protein around 150g/day (I'm 80kg). I've replaced nightly cheeses with sweet potato varieties (plus butter, coconut oil, or cream), and I've lost around 4 lbs over 3 weeks. I doubt it's fat as I've always been lean. My strength is a bit down too.

George said...

Surely this is some kind of social experiment you are pulling with your recent posts. High carb, low fat (and mostly unsaturated), and low protein recommendation.

Next post - we should eliminate animal products all together.

JT said...

Don,
I find your last several posts very interesting. Im interested in what your influences were in leaving the paleo=low carb dogma. I am also a former follower of this lifestyle.

My experience is similar to John's, I need a minimum of 150 grams of protein a day (Im fairly lean at 190lbs) to maintain current strength and bodyweight. When my protein drops I immediately lose muscle, strength, and mental functioning.

I have the same experience with starchy carbs, I also find I need about 150 grams a day. And if it drops too low for too long the same thing happens. I will get very skinny, weak, slow, and dumb. I look like a concentration camp victim.

When dropping fat, I do not have the same experience. I can maintain strength, muscle, and cognitive functioning. I actually seem to improve.

The only time I have ever been able to put on body fat extremely rapidly was when I ate high amounts of fat and carbs combined.

Is my experience consistent with your own findings?

Don said...

Stabby,

Again, there is no evidence that avoiding carbs is the key to longevity. I point to the Kitavans and the Japanese.

Fat is NOT burned more efficiently, it is STORED more efficiently.

Peter,

I gave some suggestions as a starting place in comments on the previous post, Venus revisite.

Anya,

Right. Staffan doesn't even advocate high protein, unlike Eaton, Cordain, and De Vany.

Don said...

Makro,

Studies comparing low-fat calorie restricted diets and high-fat unrestricted diets suffer from an obvious problem: one group is forced into restriction, the other gets to eat ad libitum. this makes adherence to the high fat diet much easier than adherence to the low fat diet.

Also, Japanese diet is not deliberately calorie restricted. So why test it? You are only showing that people don't do well when they have to consciously control calories. How about putting people on an ad libitum Japanese diet...the way the Japanese actually eat?

Try searching for studies that test ad libitum low fat diets.

In this one, they lost a pound per week:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8281220

This one also, about a pound per week lost over 12 weeks on an ad libitum low fat, high carb diet:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14744846

Let's compare apples and apples.

Don said...

Vadim,

Yes, I believe so. More clean carbs and less fat and protein, especially if the goal is fat loss.

Don said...

Ned,

"This means that, as animal food consumption goes up, total calories consumed go down."

But as animal food goes up, food efficiency also goes up....so fewer calories are more fattening.

The purpose of the fat drive is to meet fatty acid requirements. The more EFA dense the source, the less fat needed to meet those requirements. If your diet and dietary fats have low EFA contents, you will keep eating until you meet the EFA requirement or you max out your ability to metabolize the carbs and protein you eat, even it this leads to excess energy intake. Hence, if you eat fish, you meet your EFA requirements very quickly and your fat needs go down.

Don said...

John,

Fish and grass-fed meat, in much smaller portions than before (mas of 6-8 ounces daily), plus larger servings of potatoes and sweet potatoes. Much lower fat. Details later.

Losing weight is a result of the lower food efficiency. Eat more.

Don said...

George,

Your comment illustrates the all-or-nothing type of thinking that infects so much nutritionism.

Either all animal, or all plant. Either all raw or all cooked.

Vegans say animal products are worthless; 'primal' dieters seem prone to say that plants are worthless.

This seems a rather simplistic way of thinking; or, perhaps more correctly, not thinking.

Cutting out all animal products means no B12, insufficient omega-3s, and marginal trace mineral nutrition.

Animal products are important, but how about eating just the amount and type needed for good nutrition, health and longevity? Like the Japanese or the Kitavans?

So far as I know, every nutrient has upper and lower limits...below the lower limit, you suffer deficiency, and above the upper limit, you suffer toxicity.
In the zone, you have optimum health and longevity.

Seems to me we should look at those people who have the health and longevity that we want, and from there, we can reverse engineer the ancestral diet.

Don said...

JT,

Yes, pretty much.

If someone needs to gain weight, somewhat higher protein intake will help because it increases food efficiency. But I think in many cases, people think they need really high protein because when they reduce protein, they don't adequately replace it with carbohydrate.

Definitely, fat+carbs is the quickest way to gain fat.

But lots of people put on fat eating high fat, high protein, low carb also. Tracy did, rapidly. Her appetite INCREASED on a low carb diet.

In my experience also, the fastest way to lose fat is to cut fat. And like you, I find that cutting fat also improves physical and mental performance so long as I replace the energy with quality carbohydrate sources (starchy vegetables and fruits).

JT said...

Yes, I agree with you that people can definitely gain fat on a low carb diet. My personal extreme weight loss on this was due to the fact that I could not consume enough calories because the diet had such a severe appetite blunting effect. Those who don't have their appetite shut down could definitely overeat and gain fat.

I do not think macro ratios play the biggest role in weight regulation, at least not as big as total calorie consumption. BUT, it does play a role in body composition and physical performance. Because of this, it seems to me the focus should be on performance and body comp whenever we are evaluating macro intake.

After closely controlling and monitoring my food intake and macro ratios. I have noticed specific effects:

1) Low fat +Moderate carb + moderate protein at about a 1 to 1 ratio of protein and carbs, with 1 gram per pound of LBM. This is my sweet spot. When I eat this way it is like all the switches turn on in a major way. Strength, body comp, and mental functioning are optimized in a major way. The transformation is rapid and almost drug like in the effects. Libido is excellent.

2) Low fat + High Carb+ Low protein is better than low carb, but not as good as the above diet with higher protein. Even when calories are kept the same my physical and mental performance decline. Body comp becomes a little softer as well. Libido is OK.

3) Low carb + high/medium/low protein = extremely catabolic for me. All physical and mental performance markers decline rapidly. Libido is non existent.

If I ever had to live in a harsh environment like our ancestors, I would want to function and feel like I do on diet number 1. This level of functioning would greatly enhance my ability to hunt, fight, and reproduce. For this reason, I am starting to believe that the true optimal diet for humans is somewhat similar.

sagehill said...

There is one major flaw with Don's theory... there are no figurines of obese men from that era.

True, the Venus statues are fertility figures...still, according to Don, two teaspoons (or even tablespoons) extra of fat per day for men would have the same problem as he says it does for women. I just can't see stone-age men as getting obese from eating extra fat and/or protein, so I decided to e-search for myself and came across the following explanation, which I prefer:

"The chances are, a Stone Age woman ... would not have had the opportunity to get that fat, unless, of course, she had some special status. She evidently did not need to gather, or hunt, but must have been catered to and had her needs met by others."

http://arthistoryresources.net/willendorf/willendorfwomen.html

This makes far more sense than everyone getting obese on a little extra fat. Also, what about the Eskimos? Their diet is a huge percentage of fat, but they aren't obese, or weren't until they were exposed to Western carbohydrates.

Then there is this theory:

"...after reconsidering the Willendorf Venus in light of various pictures I had by then seen of immature stages of the psychotropic Amanita muscaria mushroom, I could not help but suspect that the figurine had been sculpted to personify, as strange as it then seemed, the particular stage of an A. muscaria....it was apparent that the figurine's strange coif was designed to personify the characteristically knotted cap of a young A. muscaria...and the red ochre on the figurine was intended to color it the most common color A. muscariae caps display."

http://ethnomycology.com/Figurines/FigurineIntro.htm

The biggest take-away for us today isn't that stone-age H/G limited their fat, but that people these days are NOwhere near as active as stone-age people were. We drive to stores, drive around and around to find the closest spot; take elevators and escalators; most of us sit all day at work, then sit all night in front of computers or televisions. Even jogging, walking or lifting weights an hour or two a day that some people do to control weight would not approximate the all-around effort that H/G made all day during their general lives. Hardly anyone is physically active ALL day long anymore except the Amish, and even they ride buggies and cars. lol

Then there are the environmental toxins as well as other modern-day problems that we have, that they didn't have.

Aaron said...

Ah Don,

I'm not sure if you remember a back and forth a couple of years ago on danny roddy's site. But I put forth an idea that the a Kitavan-like diet would be best for longevity vs a higher protein paleo diet that would be better for overall absolute robustness for the moment (your robustness would still be high on a kitavan-style diet).

Can you say if the weight gain in the higher protein groups was due to an increase in muscle or an increase in fat -- because if muscle increased, that is not necessarily a bad thing -- the human body almost invariably increases muscle when fat mass increases -- it's only when you've been gaining lots of weight over a long time do you start to not gain as much muscle (as you gain the fat)

Chef Rachel said...

Good to see you challenging popular views. I have seen many people over the years who did low carb and stayed over-fat. They thought they could eat all the fat they wanted as long as they kept carbs below 50 or 100/day.

My experience, when I was overfat, was that that didn't work for me either. I find fat and protein help w/satiety. My appetite is easily sated now compared to low fat, high carb diets. Still, I need I am careful not to over do fat. If I eat too much, regardless of type of fat, my face tends to break out and weight goes up.

Super high cal density foods (nuts, cheese, bacon, sausage, oil, dried fruits) can totally stall fat loss for many moderate to low carbers, especially women. There's a role for them as condiments... not key players for all but the most lean and super active.

Joe said...

There doesn't seem to be much discussion about fluctuating the ratio of fat in our diet with the seasons. If we're basing our theoretical macronutrient rations on naturally available foods (animals), then shouldn't we consider the changes in that food source through the year?

Animals are fattest in autumn after enjoying a summer of abundant carbohydrate sources. I also doubt our ancestors would have bothered hunting as frequently during spring/summer if other foods, especially fruits, were readily available.

Chef Rachel said...

I have seen many people over the past 15 yrs who did low carb and stayed very heavy. They thought they could eat all the fat they wanted as long as they kept carbs below 50 or 100/day.

My experience, when I was overfat, was that that didn't work for me either! I find fat and protein help w/satiety. My appetite is easily sated now compared to low fat, high carb diets and moderate protein, low fat diets.

Still, I am careful not to over do fat. If I eat too much of it for my energy needs, regardless of type, my face tends to break out and/or weight goes up.

Super high cal density foods (nuts, cheese, bacon, sausage, oil, dried fruits) can totally stall fat loss for many moderate to low carbers, especially women! I think there's a role for them as condiments and flavorings... not key players for all but the most lean and super active.

Don said...

JT,

I pretty much agree with you, and in later posts I will discuss why I think evolutionary diets were relatively low in fat. But I have one question for you.

If you eat 190 g protein (1 g/lb.) and say 200 g carbohydrate daily (1:1), that provides 1560 calories.

I define low fat as ≤30%. If your diet is also 30% fat, then your total caloric intake is 2229.

That seems quite low for an active, lean 190 pound male. I only weigh about 155-160, and I need 2500+ even though I only train once weekly and no other activity except walking 10-15 miles per week.

Is your diet ≤30% energy from fat? or do you consume more carbohydrate than you desribed (1 g carb for every g protein)?

Don said...

sagehill,

The lack of figurines of obese males from that time doesn't prove that there were no obese males. Basic logic: Lack of evidence is NOT evidence of lack.

Look around. Compare how many images we have of women in our culture versus how many we have of men. Images of women dominate our culture. IT seems to me to be human nature to have more fondness for images of women than of men.

Your quote from arthistoryresources merely regurgitates the old calories in, calories out story about obesity, i.e. to get/stay fat you have to be inactive. Not so, as witnessed by the dozens of people who vainly try to lose fat by walking on treadmills at our big fitness centers.

It also suffers from the stupid idea that people get fat only by overeating large amounts in a short period of time. I have dealt with numerous obese people, and most do not eat extraordinary amounts, and most did not gain their weight in just a few months or even a few years. Obesity generally develops over a very long period of time, generally decades.

But you all can go on thinking that all obesity occurs through force feeding (i.e. overeating) and inactivity.

Re Eskimos, the unique nature of the fat in their foods, i.e. very high in superunsaturated omega-3 fats, along with the limits of the caloric harvest in their environment, can explain their low risk of obesity despite a low carb, high fat diet.

Funny how you low carb folks attack the idea that overeating and inactivity cause obesity among Americans, but when it looks like a prehistoric person grew obese on a low carb high fat diet, they suddenly change their tune and say it has to be because she was over fed and inactive. You just can't bear to see your theory bite the dust so you start using the very same arguments of your opponents. Fancy that. See my post on epistemology.

Don said...

Aaron,

The rats fed 25% protein were FATTER, not more muscular. Same with the humans.

Makro said...

"Studies comparing low-fat calorie restricted diets and high-fat unrestricted diets suffer from an obvious problem: one group is forced into restriction, the other gets to eat ad libitum. this makes adherence to the high fat diet much easier than adherence to the low fat diet. "

The hypothetical difference between an (untested) non-calorie restricted low-fat / high-carbohydrate diet and a high-fat diet isn´t even terribly relevant to the hypothesis that we are discussing.

To recap, your hypothesis is that a diet high in land animal fat and protein results in rampant weight gain.

But actual studies putting already overweight people on exactly such a diet result in weight *loss*, not weight gain. That the high-fat groups generally outperform standard weight loss advice is secondary. What is important is that the results falsify your hypothesis, no ifs, no buts.


As to low-fat diets, the general picture is rather sad (actually, the general picture in randomized trials is sad overall, damn the fat ratios), but sure, you can lose a little weight with them too (I.e. long term, with an emphasis on "little").

Finally, we return once again to the Japanese. No, it just isn´t ok to take the outcome of one country and then pretending that the outcome is really a controlled trial, with the relevant variables (with the relevant variables not even fully known) being exactly the ones that you were interested in to begin with.

Cross-country comparisons are not entirely worthless, but it´s dangerously close, especially when we are discussing complex interactions.

Chef Rachel said...

I think it's important to emphasize that the ideal macro nutrient ratio, if there is one, for each person will vary w/ his/her energy requirements, activity level, body composition, and whether male or female. Whether one eats 2 or 3 or 4x a day also matters.

While too much fat can retard fat loss or lead to fat gain for some. Others (fit/lean guys into cross fit, firefighters, cyclists, super active women, etc) may need a higher percentage of fat to maintain weight. At a certain point they can't eat more volume.

Makro said...

"Funny how you low carb folks attack the idea that overeating and inactivity cause obesity among Americans, but when it looks like a prehistoric person grew obese on a low carb high fat diet, they suddenly change their tune and say it has to be because she was over fed and inactive. You just can't bear to see your theory bite the dust so you start using the very same arguments of your opponents. Fancy that. See my post on epistemology."

A slightly different take:

When one interprets a pre-historic figurine in a specific, (unverifiable) fashion, assuming a very specific theory of human evolution (zero change in the last 10-30 000 years, regardless of present-day actual population variability in fat deposits), then a high-fat, high-protein diet is shown to be fattening, despite actual human randomized trials showing the exact opposite.

As they say, heh.

SamAbroad said...

Hmmm, see this is where I'm not convinced. The more fat I eat the more weight I lose. I HAD to add carbs back in because I was losing too much weight. Also it did seem to contribute to depression and PMS. So definitely not optimal health-wise.

But weight wise I get serious appetite suppression from fat and protein (even on moderate carb). This is four years post 60lb weight loss so not a temporary effect.

I also know my example not to be unusual.

JT said...

Don,
It depends on what my goals are at the moment. For the past few months I have been trying to gain again, so I have upped my carbs, but I am about to go back to diet #1 where I feel and function best.

Im 6ft 190lbs and I train with weights 60-90 minutes 6 days a week with very high volume and intensity. I can actually function great on only 1500 calories a day. But, I throw in random spike meals 2-3 times a week and just eat whatever I want. This bumps my overall calories enough to keep my metabolism high and weight up. I always keep my fat really low except for the spike meals.

I feel this way of eating works best for me, and from the way it turns on my mental and physical functioning I am beginning to suspect that this is the way our ancestors had to of done it in order to survive. But it is not for the weak willed, whenever you are in this state for a long period of time your experience of hunger is on different level, it is much deeper. Its not an "im feeling weak and need to snack on something" type of hunger, but more of "Im ready to do whatever it takes to hunt down any animal in the area and eat the whole thing"!

So, it puts my body and mind into a state where I am hungry, motivated and strong. I am not weak and lethargic. I fell like I am in the physiological state that would be optimal for survival as a hunter gatherer, especially if I had to hunt wild animals.

malpaz said...

then why are all the protein eating bodybuilders ripped eating MASSIVE amounts of protein

theres obvious hormonal differences between what works for women vs men. cant change the reproductive drive the female has whether she wants it or not.

i hope this series continues, i find it very informative, but i hope it goes in a direction BESDIES weight loss.

i dont much care what the fatty venus chick ate or didnt eat. i am more interested in your theory...it makes sense, higher carb, moderate pro/fat i am guessing? im curious as to what is benefitting, how nutrition plays in and why the body reacts the way it does. is it seeming more healthy? more viatmins? more minerals? better metabolic signaling? leptin? very intrigued...

skylertanner.com said...

How about we refine Pollans' answer:

"Eat real food. Enough. Include some plants. Figure out what works best for you from there."

Best,
Skyler

skylertanner.com said...

How about we refine Pollans' answer:

"Eat real food. Enough. Include some plants. Figure out what works best for you from there."

Best,
Skyler

Stan (Heretic) said...

Maybe, the studies they wrote about used typical rodent's feed where most fat is hydrogenated with transfats, and most carbs are sugar. If that is the case then, may be, many if not most of their conclusions are just garbage? Just may be...
8-:)
Regards,
Stan (Heretic)

sagehill said...

"You just can't bear to see your theory bite the dust so you start using the very same arguments of your opponents."

First, I don't view you as an opponent, and I am far more open-minded than you think. I was merely questioning the theory that 70 calories of extra fat a day would create a stone-age Venus, fertility figures of young women about 200+ lbs overweight. I was 120 lbs overweight and I never looked as rounded as those figurines, and at 50, it took most of my life to get there. To get that fat, that young they would have to eat more than the average woman, not just two teaspoons more.

That's all I'm saying. I'm not extrapolating to the population at large, the way you are: "These Venus figurines prove stone age people had obesity; stone age people ate meat and fat; therefore stone age people must have been obese; therefore, anyone who eats meat and fat will become obese; moreover, just two teaspoons extra of fat a day causes obesity." That's how it sounds to me anyway.

I'd like to see the formulation of rat food in the above studies. Fresh fat, meat and veggies are too messy and imprecise for lab studies. Lab rat food is kibble full of GMO corn and soy, transfats, and sugar (probably HFCS), components precisely calculated and adjusted, especially since rats are tiny compared to humans; 100 extra calories for a rat is like 1000 or more for a human. I'd like to see the diets of people that the scientists observed: What exactly did they eat? Was it a casual observation or studies done in a lab where they could give people the same precise formulations that rats ate?

Finally, things are not as clear-cut as "100 extra fat calories per day makes you obese." Modern people have environmental toxins and other insults assaulting their bodies and immune systems from the day they're born. Our lives are filled with plastics that leach hormone-disruptors and fake estrogens in consumables like milk, salad dressings, bottled water, soda pop, lotions, shampoos and liquid soaps, as well as plastic computers, furniture and carpets. Much of our food contains preservatives, antibacterials, and other chemicals, or has been pasteurized to death. Fruits and veggies contain pesticides and herbicides by the dozens, poisons not easily washed off because it has absorbed into the plant tissues. Most meat animals, from fish to cattle, consume toxin-filled GMO corn-soy feed, antibiotics and hormones, and live in filth for most of their lives.

"You are what you eat"... and so are those animals, and thus so are we. Soy is a massive endocrine disruptor, and it comes through in the meat of animals that eat it to affect our bodies, as do the hormones and antibiotics.

So, maybe you have a point... if we eat nothing but toxin-filled food all our lives, two teaspoons of fat (GMO soy and corn-laced) per day might well be the tipping point. On the other hand, you are saying, Low-fat is best. Problem is, we had decades of from 1970s to 1990s where everyone just got fatter.

I don't know what the answer is, that's why I cruise the various blogs to see what the new theories are.

blogblog said...

The past is like a foreign country they do things differently there.

LP Hartley


It is very dangerous to assume that what is important now was valued in the past. All HG societies are marked by extremely high levels of male-male violence. It is highly advantageous for a HG male to be as physically large and strong as possible.

A bit of extra body fat is actually beneficial because it helps provide a larger physique at low metabolic cost. Fat also protects organs against physical injury. A 90kg male with 15% body fat is going to have a huge physical and psychological advantage over a 60kg male with 10% body fat.

It is also essential to use food as efficiently as possible because there is a high cost to hunting in terms of injury risk and resource depletion. In fact most large predators have extremely low activity levels and hunt infrequently.

The small and frail Kitivan or Okinawan males would have no hope anywhere near a warlike a society like the Masai. Small size for males is not important in a peaceful agricultural society.

blogblog said...

The natural rat diet is mostly grain-based, typically around 5% fat and extremely high in fibre. No wild rat ever eats a 30% fat diet let alone an 80% fat diet. Rat feeding trials are utterly irrelevant to humans.

Wild rats never get fat because they exercise constantly. A rat will run for about two hours a day at a speed of up to 1.2 km/hr - equivalent to a human running a world record marathon. Yet in feeding trials rats are kept in small cages with no opportunity to run or climb.

cathy said...

Do you feel that Stephan's most recent post supports this change in your views? Just curious ....

CarbSane said...

Hi Don,

It's interesting that obesity in humans is associated with higher protein content in protein content of formula fed in infancy. (One study: http://www.springerlink.com/content/r575628738433556/). Though, at least in weight loss context, increasing protein tends to lead to weight loss in ad libitum diets. So, since rodents continue to grow while humans don't, is it possible that increased protein content in their diets facilitates building enough lean mass to "support" the adipose tissue?

This is an interesting study. It directly counters the metabolic advantage argument based on thermogenesis (made by Feinman and Fine). In their paper they argue for replacing carbs with 50/50 protein and fat. In this study the carb was replaced entirely with protein and yet we see the opposite of what F&F would predict.

Rodents are hind gut fermenters and still don't seem to process carbs all that efficiently. Even genetic models generally need some sort of high fat diet to fatten considerably. The human Atwater factors may be quite different for rodents?

Lastly BMR/kg body weight is 4X higher for rats and 7X higher for mice compared to humans. The TEF may not have a significant impact in these contexts and perhaps the rodies simply process proteins more efficiently than carbs.

A recipe for getting fat? High carb + high fat and low protein. The so-called "cafeteria diet".

Interesting, thought provoking posts!!

Teddy said...

"But as animal food goes up, food efficiency also goes up....so fewer calories are more fattening."

This is technically (and obviously) true (and tells us nothing) but generally not what I would think would be a fair statement of what is happening.

I'd imagine that generally speaking the more efficient the food, the more satiated we would feel.

Also, if I were designing a human body, I would feed it the food with the greatest efficiency as it would seem to be a waste to burn energy just to store energy. In the same manner we feed our cars with only one fuel that is efficient.

If you want to decrease food efficiency eat loads and loads of protein and take fiber supplements. If you want to go further simply eat tables, chairs, tires, etc...

Fat is most efficient in terms of thermal effect of food, protein worst. It would be interesting to see how humans compare to other species in this respect(cows, apes, whatever...)

jdwalker said...

I like the idea of questioning some of the parts of the paleo movement that seem to be more dogma that is perpetuated more by the culture of paleo than the facts. I was wondering if you could shed some light on one aspect that occurred to me while reading your posts. INnpaleo themed books, they often make a point of claiming that historically people were taller. They seem to make the point that the advent of agriculture brought on diminished nutrition, which caused a decrease in height. They seem to argue that a healthier, paleo style diet would provide greater nutrition, health, and height. But I find it hard to believe that agriculture, or even diminished nutrition is behind the many groups of people that are shorter in stature, especially when these shorter stature peoples tend to be the ones seen as the healthiest and longest lived. And this isn't a case of the shorter people being able to live longer but not as healthy and mobile. They tend to be the ones that tend to live long lives and remain mobile and healthy throughout their lives. And there are papers (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071721/) that seem to indicate that maybe nutrition, health, and longevity are more positively correlated with being shorter than with being taller. Can you shed some light on this and why a lot of paleo books tend to invoke height as a measure of health? Is this simply playing into a cultural stereotype that taller equals healthier and not based anything of real substance?

jaime said...

Hi Don,

So how would this new fat- carb thinking would change your post on how to build muscle?

From my experience, hight fat -low carb doesn´t translate into weight gain...on the other hand, building muscle is an herculean task.
Now I have lower my fat intake and start consuming more carbs (+-2 grs x pound).. Its been amazing how my body is responding, muscles are finally growing (been underweight I dont have much fat to burn really)better sleep, mood, etc.

Do you consider white rice as a problematic source if carbs?, My main staple is basmati since I dont do well with brown varieties, also Im japanese descendant so I guess rice runs through my genes. Potatoes & sweet potatoes dont agree that much, just eating them less frecuently.

jaime said...

Hi Don,

So how would this new fat- carb thinking would change your post on how to build muscle?

From my experience, hight fat -low carb doesn´t translate into weight gain...on the other hand, building muscle is an herculean task.
Now I have lower my fat intake and start consuming more carbs (+-2 grs x pound).. Its been amazing how my body is responding, muscles are finally growing (been underweight I dont have much fat to burn really)better sleep, mood, etc.

Do you consider white rice as a problematic source if carbs?, My main staple is basmati since I dont do well with brown varieties, also Im japanese descendant so I guess rice runs through my genes. Potatoes & sweet potatoes dont agree that much, just eating them less frecuently.

Chef Rachel said...

Perhaps the venus figures represent a sort of queen bee of some prehistoric tribes. Maybe she was the inactive, forced fed member of the group who they fattened as a way of showing their abundance (like the Potlach ceremonies some groups in N. America enganged in). She may not have been the norm among all women at that time or in those tribes.

Yes, eating too much fat can cause weight gain even in the absence of high insulin levels and I think the mechanism is through providing more energy than the person needs or burns up in a day. Still I would not lambaste fat as evil, unnecessary, or something everyone should minimize. It does serve many functions and can help w/satiety, if used appropriately (in accord w/ones energy needs).