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Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat

Caution: contains SCIENCE!

All of us want to stay as strong and fit as we can, with as little effort as we can…and the profusion of ridiculous exercise gadgets and workout books testifies to our desire to look like fitness models, while living and eating like Homer Simpson.

What we want...

...and what we get.


However, the government-recommended “food pyramid”—and its inevitable consequence, sugar (‘carbohydrate’) addiction—sabotages our efforts to be healthy and strong. Snacking doesn’t just make us fat…it makes us weak.

To explain why, we need to review some metabolic facts.

Insulin: The Storage Hormone

Our bodies strongly regulate ‘blood sugar’, which is just the amount of free glucose in our bloodstream. Under normal circumstances, this is about a teaspoon.

If we don’t have enough glucose in our blood, our cells start dying very quickly, starting with our brain. If we have too much, it slowly poisons the kidneys, eyes, heart, and circulatory system—and we experience all the complications of untreated diabetes, such as numbness, blindness, muscle wasting, gangrene, renal failure, and heart failure.

When we eat and digest food, its nutrients are absorbed into our blood, through our intestines. If that food contains glucose (‘starch’, ‘carbohydrate’, ‘sugar’)—or certain amino acids (‘protein’)—our pancreas secrete a hormone called insulin, which signals cells all over our bodies to take these nutrients out of our bloodstream and store them. This keeps our blood sugar from getting too high.

Since there’s a lot more than a teaspoon worth of glucose in most foods (look on the ingredient label: most of “Total Carbohydrate” is glucose), it’s obvious that both our pancreas’ production of insulin, and our cells’ response to insulin, has to be solid and well-regulated, or we will have major health problems—which we call diabetes.

(Diabetes is just long-term glucose poisoning. Type I diabetes is when your blood sugar stays high because your pancreas can’t make insulin. Type II diabetes is when your blood sugar stays high because your body stops responding to insulin.)

Here’s another important metabolic fact: unlike body fat, which is a dedicated organ for storing energy in the form of…fat, our body has no dedicated storage organ for protein. (Recall that “protein” is just chains of amino acids.) Our body’s tissues—primarily our muscles—do double duty here. Muscles move our bodies, and they provide a storage reserve for our body’s daily protein needs.

This is why long-term fasting, or protein deprivation, causes you to lose muscle: your body disassembles it for the amino acids it needs every day to maintain itself.

Insulin, Proteolysis, and Protein Synthesis: It’s Not Just About Blood Sugar

Insulin has many effects in the body, not all of which are completely understood. Click the image for a long discussion.

Now we are getting to the meat of the story.

There is an interesting fact about insulin: it doesn’t just cause our bodies to store fat, and it doesn’t just cause our bodies to try and build muscles and tissues. It also tends to inhibit proteolysis, which is the process by which our bodies break down our own tissues (again, primarily our skeletal muscles) for protein.

But it doesn’t always do this.

Am J Physiol. 1993 Nov;265(5 Pt 1):E715-21.
Acute hyperglycemia enhances proteolysis in normal man.
Flakoll PJ, Hill JO, Abumrad NN.

Skipping to the middle of the text:

“Previous studies from our laboratory have indicated that the effect of insulin on suppressing proteolysis is highly dependent on the availability of plasma amino acids. [...] At maximal insulin levels…protein breakdown was suppressed by approximately 90% when amino acids were available compared with 45% when hypoaminoacidemia was allowed to develop. These studies were performed with glucose fixed at euglycemic levels.”

So we know that insulin + available protein = 90% reduction in proteolysis, while insulin + no available protein = 45% reduction in proteolysis. Now we return to the abstract:

“ABSTRACT: The influence of hyperinsulinemic-hyperglycemia on protein and carbohydrate homeostasis was assessed using L-[1-13C]-leucine and [3-3H]glucose combined with open-circuit indirect calorimetry. After a 30-min basal period, healthy human volunteers were subjected to two sequential experimental periods (150 min each) during which insulin was continuously infused at a rate to elicit maximal effects (10.0 mU.kg-1 x min-1, resulting in 220-fold basal levels) in conjunction with an infusion of L-amino acids to maintain euleucinemia. Plasma glucose was maintained near basal (94 +/- 2 mg/dl) during period I and at twofold basal (191 +/- 4 mg/dl) during period II. The endogenous rate of leucine appearance (index of proteolysis in mumol.kg-1 x h-1) dropped by 80% from basal during period I (P < 0.01) but only by 44% during period II. [...] The present study demonstrates that, during hyperinsulinemia, acute elevations of plasma glucose to two times basal levels result in a marked stimulation of whole body proteolysis during hyperinsulinemia.”

And now we also know that normal blood sugar + maximal insulin = 80% reduction in proteolysis, whereas high blood sugar + maximal insulin = 44% reduction in proteolysis.

These are two very interesting sets of facts. Here’s the summary:

  • Insulin increases whole-body protein synthesis…but the protein has to come from somewhere.
  • If protein is available in the bloodsteam and your blood sugar is normal, insulin almost completely stops the process of breaking down your muscles for your protein needs. This makes sense: why break down muscle when protein is already available?
  • If protein is unavailable in the bloodstream, insulin only halfway stops this process. This also makes sense: if protein is unavailable from the food you ate, you still need to get it from somewhere.
  • If your blood sugar is high (twice normal), insulin stimulates whole body proteolysis.

And here’s the takeaway:

Every time you stimulate insulin production by eating carbohydrates, you need to eat some complete protein with it—or instead of rebuilding your muscles and tissues, your body will continue to disassemble itself to get that protein. And the higher your blood sugar spikes, the more your body will disassemble itself anyway.

Are you seeing the problem? When you eat, insulin signals your body to stop eating itself…but only if you’ve eaten protein, and only if your blood sugar isn’t spiking.

Every time you eat candy or drink a soda by itself, not only are you signaling your body to store fat…you’re disassembling your own muscle.

It’s even worse. That ‘healthy’ mid-afternoon apple or orange, to keep your blood sugar up? Same problem. And remember the food pyramid? Those “7-11 servings of heart-healthy whole grains” we’re all supposed to be eating every day? How are you going to stuff eleven servings into three meals?

You’re not: you’re going to snack.

That’s what we’re advised: never, ever let yourself get hungry. Keep your bloodstream filled with sugar and insulin at all times! So that’s what we do. Crackers, bagels, muffins, corn chips, rice cakes, cookies, danishes…all low-fat, of course.

And, even worse, low-protein. Being grain and sugar-based, snack foods contain little protein—and the protein they do contain is incomplete. (Corn and wheat are deficient in lysine, one of the essential amino acids.) If your body is short on any essential amino acid, it will still have to disassemble itself to get the one it needs, regardless of how much of all the others are available.

Every time you eat high-sugar, protein-deficient food—even whole fruit and “heart-healthy complex carbohydrates”—you’re making yourself fatter and weaker.

In support of this theory:

Ann Surg. 2005 Feb;241(2):334-42.
Influence of metformin on glucose intolerance and muscle catabolism following severe burn injury.
Gore DC, Wolf SE, Sanford A, Herndon DN, Wolfe RR.

Metformin administration was also associated with a significant increase in the fractional synthetic rate of muscle protein and improvement in net muscle protein balance. Glucose kinetics and muscle protein metabolism were not significantly altered in the patients receiving placebo.

CONCLUSIONS: Metformin attenuates hyperglycemia and increases muscle protein synthesis in severely burned patients, thereby indicating a metabolic link between hyperglycemia and muscle loss following severe injury.”

Why would giving a diabetes drug to burn victims cause them to heal more quickly? Because metformin stops the liver from making glucose—lowering blood sugar.

Conclusion: Snacking Makes You Fat, And Snacking Makes You Weak

This explains a lot, doesn’t it? Why so many joggers can pound out hundreds of miles and still squeeze up muffin tops? Why so many cyclists can spin for thousands of miles and still have to stuff a beer gut into their Lycra? Why even the skinny ones often look like famine victims—not like strong, healthy, capable humans? And why you never look like the people in the magazine ads, no matter how long you spend on the hamster wheels at the gym?

This helps explain why so many vegans (especially raw vegans) appear scrawny and malnourished. Fruit might have some nutrients in it, but it’s still essentially protein-less sugar.

It also helps explain why obesity with Type II diabetes is so difficult to recover from: high blood sugar keeps you from building muscle like a normal person. (There are many other positive feedback loops in obesity and diabetes…this is just one of them.)

Not only does that post-workout bran muffin contain more calories than you burned—it’s making you fat, and you’re still losing the muscle you’re trying to build.

It’s not the “food pyramid”—it’s the “fat pyramid.”

Stop eating birdseed (‘grains’) and diesel fuel (‘vegetable oil’).
Start eating real food.
Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS


Postscript: How Do I Stop Snacking, And What Do I Eat Instead?

Answer: eat real food and you won’t need to snack. Here’s how I stay lean and strong with very little effort.

For more information, you can read my three-part series on carbohydrate addiction: Mechanisms of Sugar Addiction, “Adjacent To This Complete Breakfast!”, and The Myth Of Complex Carbohydrates.

Important note! Forwarding this article using the buttons below makes you 17% sexier.

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112 comments

Permalink: Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat
  • Katie @ Wellness Mam

    This is one of the most complex explanations on the insulin/protein cycle I’ve seen! I see this with clients all the time. They have such a hard time letting go of the carb based snacks, but once they do, the weight falls off more easily, they sleep better and they can skip a meal with out getting irritable!

  • EdwinB

    Again good pst JS. Going to re-read this when I’m not hyperventilating between deadlift sets :)

  • Katie:

    Everyone knows about the fat storage function of insulin (usually due to Gary Taubes), but as you know, there's a lot more to insulin than that.  

    I definitely noticed I was getting more muscular with no additional work, but I wasn't sure what to attribute it to — and I think this is one of those effects everyone notices but no one knows exactly why it works.  Once I found those papers, it all fell into place.

    EdwinB:

    Thanks!  There's a lot to it, but the takeaway is simple.  Don't snack…and if you must, make sure the snack contains complete protein.

    JS

  • Bodhi

    I always wondered why following the advice in bodybuilding magazines wasn’t working for me. (other than the fact they were juicing and I wasn’t). Sounds like eating those 6 meals a day wasn’t helping me any. Thanks for another great post!

  • what is the best way

    [...] that you're eating complete protein as part of everything that goes into your mouth. The science: Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to [...]

  • Rob

    Damn, thanks for the great post! I’ve always heard that you should have some fat in your stomach when you eat carbs to slow down their release into your bloodstream but I’ve never heard this about protein. No more drinking on an empty stomach for me! Have a great weekend.

  • julianne

    Great article. For years I’ve been telling people – always eat protein with carbs and ideally protein before your carbs, (as well as don’t eat too much carbs) It works, but not just for the reason I told them (appetite and blood sugar control).

    Thanks

  • Perfect Health Diet

    [...] [1] Interesting posts this week: Dr. Steve Parker offers a history of the Mediterranean Diet. Did you know that Ancel Keys invented it? Frank Hagan of Low Carb Age reminds us of the dangers of giving too much protein to children – a topic I expect to blog about again soon. The New York Times explains what video of slipping birds teaches us about running form. Mary Shomon lists the 10 Mistakes of Thyroid Doctors. Kevin Brown of Liberation Wellness argues that doctors may be the leading cause of death. Andrew Badenoch of evolvify assembles a lit of papers showing evidence that gluten is harmful to non-celiacs. J. Stanton of gnolls.org explains why snacking makes you weak. [...]

  • Bodhi:

    I think so — and I believe this is why modern sports nutrition is moving towards periodic carb refeeds to maintain muscle glycogen vs. continual high-carb eating.  But I don't feel I have the knowledge to make blanket pronouncements on that subject.

    Rob:

    I'm open to someone telling me why this is wrong, but the research seems pretty straightforward.  I know that I am enjoying more lean mass with no additional work.

    Julianne:

    The reasons you cited (appetite and blood sugar control) are absolutely true!  This is just one more consequence.

    JS

  • evan

    Thanks J, great read.

    In your opinion, does this apply to high-fat snacks. I ask because I was chowing down on coconut fllkes as I read your article!

  • Evan:

    It's not as much of a problem with high-fat, low-carb snacks because they don't raise insulin as much.  And there is a little bit of protein in coconut, which is of relatively good quality.  So as snacks go, it's pretty good — probably an 80% solution.  And I doubt it's a health issue…just a physical recomposition issue.

    It all depends on whether you care about the last 20%, and how much effort you're willing to put in to get it.

    JS

  • Redefine “Snac

    [...] Why the conventional wisdom to eat frequent meals is driven by what is being eaten, and why it&#8217… This entry was posted on Monday, April 25th, 2011 at 12:00 pm and is filed under CFHR Blog, Food & Nutrition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  • LP

    Really interesting article and pointers to supporting research. I’m a casual observer of nutrition and fitness articles when they peak my curiosity…mostly because I have a very peculiar diet.

    Two questions come to mind; what is your take on peanut butter (main stream brand) as the primary source of protein? And, does diet soda function in the same way as regular soda to trigger insulin release?

  • LP:

    Thank you!  I'm glad you enjoy my articles.

    I'm not a big fan of nuts or nut butters due to excessive omega-6 (n-6, in the literature) fat content — especially peanut butter, which is extremely high in n-6.  (It's also low in lysine, which poses problems for protein availability.)  One of the key principles of my diet (and indeed, 'paleo', primal, and healthy diets in general) is absolutely minimizing one's intake of n-6 fats.

    The exception is macadamia nuts, which are low in n-6.  Unfortunately they're low in protein and even more lysine-deficient than peanuts, which means they won't be a good protein source for you.

    Coconuts have reasonably good protein quality and nearly zero n-6, but again, there's very little protein in a coconut: it's mostly fat.

    The best protein sources are meat and eggs: in fact, egg protein is the standard by which the quality of protein is measured!  (This is one of the myriad reasons I eat the way I do.)  However, I get the majority of my calories from fat, primarily animal fat, egg yolks, butterfat, and coconut oil.

    Is your diet 'peculiar' because of allergies, moral constraints, or personal preference? 

    JS

    PS: The artificial sweetener issue is more complex.  Working on it.

  • LP

    My diet is peculiar for no reason other than my tastes. I’ve lived that way for 42 years. What I’ve found seems to affect me most is sugar. When I’m taking in too much sugar, that’s when I tend to gain weight. I’ll eat a ham sandwich now and then, but otherwise no meat, no eggs, no chicken, no fish. I can go through a 40 oz jar of PB in a week or so though. I eat dry salads when out for a meal with friends.. and no dressings…can’t stand them.

  • LP:

    As far as the diet sweetener, the studies I've seen seem to indicate that most do not cause any insulin release…however, there is evidence that acesulfame potassium may have some effect.

    As far as the peanut butter…my concern wouldn't be about protein quality (which is pretty good, although you could easily add something with more lysine and get a lot more effective protein out of it), it would be about having that much linoleic acid in my diet.  I'd read up on n-3 vs. n-6 fats, how they affect the immune system through the eicosanoid pathways, and their correlation to depression (Dr. Deans at Evolutionary Psychiatry has some good posts about this, as does Stephan Guyenet at Whole Health Source)…and if you're not eating meat or fish (or even flaxseed/canola oil), I'd be concerned about frank n-3 deficiency.

    JS

    (Caveat: I am not a doctor, and your health is your own individual responsibility.)

  • LP

    ;-) interesting points. My whole rational for keeping my eyes on topics is to learn about more things to learn ;-) I figure in my 40′s, things are going to start catching up to me, if I’m not vigilant ;-)

    Thanks for all your thoughts.

  • LP:

    No problem!  I hope what I write is useful to you.  Good luck, and let us know what you learn as things progress.

    JS

  • » Isocaloric b

    [...] muscle to provide the amino acids your body requires. Obviously, an all-sugar diet is extreme, but this muscle breakdown happens even with an all-sugar snack (like crackers or cereal with skim [...]

  • JKC Takes the Plunge

    [...] Found another interesting article about snacking – it says it can make you lose muscle mass: Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat – GNOLLS.ORG I sent the link to my physiologist mom to see if the science on it is accurate. Of course, rather [...]

  • Mindless eating, and

    [...] I’ll keep you posted. Maybe I’ll discover it is my thyroid playing up or my girly hormones (or testosterone) leaving me. But first I’ll try mindful eating with meals that start with protein, as this controls my blood sugar and appetite, and stops me overeating. Read this article from J Stanton, he’s got the cool graphs that show blood sugar and hormonal consequences of different meals. The study compares a high carbohydrate grain meal to a balanced meal with protein. How heart healthy whole grains make us fat. And I’ll stop snacking! [...]

  • Leptin Resistance -

    [...] about this leptin resistance deal, the more I think that cutting out any sort of snacking … Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to [...]

  • James Schipper

    This is a great explanation. Definitely bookmarking it for reference.

  • James:

    I'm glad it's useful to you…and I haven't yet seen anyone else investigate this particular angle.  The more research I do, the more I'm convinced that snacking is a major contributor to modern ill health.

    Feel free to stick around! I publish new articles every Tuesday (well, sometime on Tuesday, anyway).

    JS

  • How Did Breakfast Be

    [...] Rephrased for modern humans: predators eat meals, prey grazes on snacks.” [...]

  • Sevi Regis

    Very informative article and key points made for health, fitness, beauty, and longevity. High blood sugar is a devastating condition rising in the population more every year.

  • Sevi:

    Thank you.  Fortunately we can control our blood sugar levels by eating less of it.

    JS

  • David Csonka

    J. – I just read this article. It was epic. Nice work!

  • Rachel

    I have to agree, David…this was very nice work! An amazing piece!

  • David, Rachel:

    Thank you!  I'm slowly becoming convinced that snacking is a major contributor to obesity no matter what type of food you're eating.

    JS

  • Wood

    Hi. I just found your site and very interesting.

    I just have a question? Why react our body so? If I eat a fruit why begin my body use my muscle?

  • Wood:

    First, because excessively high blood glucose is poisonous.  When a bunch of glucose comes into our bloodstream, our body's first priority is to get rid of it.  This is more important than a little bit of proteolysis.

    Second, because healthy, active people — like humans throughout our history as hunter-foragers — aren't insulin-resistant (unless they're hunters in winter eating VLC, in which case they won't have fruit to eat) and can normalize their blood glucose relatively quickly, without huge insulin spikes.

    Third, because Paleolithic people didn't have access to fruit juice or refined sugars.  One small 12oz can of Coca-Cola has 39g of sugar…you'd have to eat 8 cups of raspberries, or three big oranges, to get that much sugar!  (Remember that modern fruits have been bred for size and sweetness…wild fruits tend to be smaller and less sweet.)

    Fourth, because protein takes a while to clear from the bloodstream.  If you've eaten substantial amounts of protein recently, odds are there's still some circulating.

    In other words, the healthier you are and the more you restrict yourself to reasonable quantities of whole foods, the less of an issue it's likely to be.  Our modern situation of sedentary, insulin-resistant people with chronically full glycogen stores due to constant carbohydrate intake is novel, and not something that would have happened often in evolutionary time.  I don't turn down the opportunity to eat wild berries if I come across them! 

    However, if you're looking to optimize your muscular development, it seems like it's best to only eat fruit and other carb/sugar sources with some amount of complete protein.

    JS

  • Wood

    Thanks. The more I read and ask, the more question I have. Someone said (dont remember the exact book title, but im sure it was some “how can be totaly healty :-) kind) Fruit must be consumed appart from any other food, before or after 2-3 hours a meal, never with fat and protein.
    Vince Gironda the “iron guru” – ok maybe not nutrition guru said, that carbohydrates and proteins must be eaten separately because ch need base (alkali) protein needs acid enviroment.

  • Wood:

    There are a lot of theories about food combining, or why foods shouldn't be combined.  Most of them don't have any sound biochemistry behind them that I can see.  (Though I'm open to explanations.)

    I've seen the “always eat fruits by themselves” thing before.  It is true that fructose is much more reactive than glucose, and tends to bond to proteins or fats (“glycation”), creating molecules we'd rather not have in our bloodstream.  For this reason, the Jaminets recommend eating fruit with saturated fats like cream or coconut, which slow absorption and are less prone to glycation.

    Unfortunately, I'm not aware of much solid research on glycation in vivo: there are some suggestive studies, but nothing I can draw definite conclusions from.  And much of the fructose problem comes when we overload our livers by consuming too much at once (i.e. soda): otherwise it's taken right out of circulation by the liver.  So in the absence of solid evidence, I'm going with the science I understand (or think I understand).

    Vince Gironda was way ahead of his time on some things, but I'm not sure what he means by acid vs. base environment.  In the stomach?  In the intestine?  In the bloodstream?  Where?

    JS

  • Wood

    lol I never followed this “advice” so I never think after. If I never have learnt biology I would say in the stomach, but I dont think there can be base environment..So maybe later. But it doesnt matter, for me just other obsession. The little fruit I eat, I eat mostly after a meal as dessert.

    Thanks for Your time.

  • Wood:

    Yes, the stomach is heavily acid, and the small intestine is weakly acid.

    It is true that eating meat causes your stomach to produce more acid, in order to break it down…but I'm not sure how that screws up CHO digestion.  Perhaps he was working on an early form of carb cycling and was wrong about why it works…which wouldn't surprise me.

    JS

  • How Often Should You

    [...] protein. As to why, I’ll draw your attention to a brilliant post by J. Stanton, entitled “Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat.” Stanton explains why eating a carb rich snack without protein is inherently catabolic: the insulin [...]

  • . : seattle foodster

    [...] protein. As to why, I’ll draw your attention to a brilliant post by J. Stanton, entitled “Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat.” Stanton explains why eating a carb rich snack without protein is inherently catabolic: the insulin [...]

  • How often should you

    [...] …and you’re about to rip down a wall or tear a work colleague a new a-hole, then reach for something with protein in it. A shake with low-fat milk or something else low carb and high protein. [...]

  • How often should you

    [...] …and you’re about to rip down a wall or tear a work colleague a new a-hole, then reach for something with protein in it. A shake with low-fat milk or something else low carb and high protein. [...]

  • Why snacking makes y

    [...] All of us want to stay as strong and fit as we can, with as little effort as we can…and the profusion of ridiculous exercise gadgets and workout books testifies to our desire to look like fitness models, while living and eating like Homer Simpson…………………..read on HERE [...]

  • Meal Timing Concerns

    [...] some protein. As to why, I’ll draw your attention to a brilliant post by J. Stanton, entitled “Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat.” Stanton explains why eating a carb rich snack without protein is inherently catabolic: the insulin [...]

  • Tomas

    Wood,

    I guess the book is Fit for Life from H. Diamond.

    Anyway, I’ll bookmark this article too, it rocks, like totally.

  • Richard

    Thanks for a very interesting article!

    I have some noob questions.
    If one does consume (more than a few grams of) carbohydrates in a meal is there any recommended minimum ratio of protein to carbohydrates to counteract this effect?

    Also, on average how long does protein remain available in one’s bloodstream? And what factors determine this rate (e.g. type of protein, activity levels, demographic factors etc). I have googled this and found wildly inconsistent answers.

    I discussed this article with a colleague who is interested in health and fitness and they said one doesn’t need to eat all the essential amino acids in each meal, but rather as long as you consume all the essential amino acids during the day. Would you agree?

    Cheers

  • Richard:

    I don't know the exact ratio.

    My estimate would be to take your daily protein requirement, and make sure it's distributed somewhat proportionally among the foods you eat.  So if you're targeting (for instance) 20% of calories from protein, try to keep your meals reasonably close to that.  But personally, I don't count calories or worry about macronutrients: I just make sure I'm eating some meat or eggs with every meal.  Problem solved!

    That being said, if you're eating a surplus of protein, your colleague is correct that it hangs around for a while before your body gives up and converts it to glucose.  So if you've just recently eaten a steak, there's still a big amino acid pool left over for insulin to chew on.  But if you did that, why are you eating again already?

    Also, I don't like counting on protein combining over time: if my body is hungry, that means it wants complete protein NOW, not later when I finally get around to compensating for a lysine-deficient grain snack.  There is indeed a lot of engineering you can do to keep yourself in complete protein from plant sources, but why bother?  It's a bunch of extra work to figure out, when you could simply eat whole paleo foods and not bother with all that calculation.

    I think the biggest offender here is eating a carb-heavy breakfast, followed by mid-morning carb snacks, leaving you without meaningful or complete protein intake until lunch.  Another big offender is proteinless (or incomplete) post-workout carb snacks, i.e. treating yourself to a whole-grain bagel.

    Stick around!  There's plenty more to talk about, and I update each week.

    JS

  • 7/18 – Rest Da

    [...] some protein. As to why, I’ll draw your attention to a brilliant post by J. Stanton, entitled “Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat.” Stanton explains why eating a carb rich snack without protein is inherently catabolic: the insulin [...]

  • Richard

    Thanks very much for your comprehensive answer John!
    It certainly gells with various other articles I have been reading (e.g Mark’s Daily Apple and Archevore).

    I wouldn’t say I have any digestive issues and am certainly not overweight (170cm, ~59kgs). My interest in this area stemmed from treatment for recurrent seborrhoeic dermatitis, which I control by diet, lifestyle and some creams which has been quite successful.

    I used to follow a high carb diet without even knowing it was high carb but am shifting to a higher proportion of animal and veg protein diet. I live in Australia so we are lucky that most of our meat (beef especially) is grass-fed

    Cheers!

  • chris.george

    Richard said:

    Thanks very much for your comprehensive answer John!

    It certainly gells with various other articles I have been reading (e.g Mark's Daily Apple and Archevore).

    I wouldn't say I have any digestive issues and am certainly not overweight (170cm, ~59kgs). My interest in this area stemmed from treatment for recurrent seborrhoeic dermatitis, which I control by diet, lifestyle and some creams which has been quite successful.

    I used to follow a high carb diet without even knowing it was high carb but am shifting to a higher proportion of animal and veg protein diet. I live in Australia so we are lucky that most of our meat (beef especially) is grass-fed

    Cheers!


    Richard,

    Just curious. I haven't had Kangaroo in years. Since you're in Austrailia is it still pretty easy to get?

  • Richard

    Hi Chris

    Yes we can buy Kangaroo meat from our local supermarkets (Coles or Woolworths) and butchers. It is a bit cheaper than beef or lamb but I noticed its been creeping up in price since it has become more popular. Anywya it is quite tasty :)

    Cheers

  • Day 20: Meal Timing

    [...] some protein. As to why, I’ll draw your attention to a brilliant post by J. Stanton, entitled “Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat.” Stanton explains why eating a carb rich snack without protein is inherently catabolic: [...]

  • Richard

    Hi John,
    I would like clarification about one of your earlier responses (July 1st, 2011 at 2:06 am). If fructose tends to bond to proteins or fats causing glycation, it seems contradictory to me to eat fruit with saturated fats like cream or coconut. Why doesn’t the ingested fructose bond with the ingested fat or is it the type of fat you eat that is more important (i.e. gycation doesn’t happen between saturated fats and glucose)?

    Cheers

  • Richard:

    First, it's not John, it's J.  (There are many other first names that start with J.)

    As far as your question, saturated fats are much less reactive than monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.  Those double covalent bonds each represent a site at which another atom or molecule could attach to the fat…whereas to bond to a saturated fat, you'd have to kick one of the hydrogens off first.  The more unsaturated a fat, the more reactive it is.

    Additionally, fat slows gastric emptying and the absorption of nutrients — so the sugars will be absorbed more slowly and produce less of a blood sugar spike.

    JS

  • Richard

    Thanks for the clarification about your name (apologies) and the dynamics of glycation

    Cheers and have a great weekend!
    Richard

  • Janey

    Hi J,
    I am trying to understand what you are saying and to some extent I do.

    The facts:
    I am a 52 year old woman. I am 5′.4”. I now weigh 23 stone = 322lb.
    I have type ll diabetes taking:
    Glyclazide 80mg 2/24hrs,
    I suffer from diverse pain and a worn right hip. I take:
    9/24 30mg Dihydracodiene,
    6/24 400 mg Ibuprphen,
    1/24 10mg Amitriptyline,
    I have a burprnophine 20mg weekly patch,
    Blood Pressure I take:
    Olmasattan Medoxomil 10mg 1/24
    Angina controlled with:
    Chlortalidorne 50mg 1/24

    In the past 4 years I have been trying to live a life on a continuous reduced calorific diet. In 2005 I reached a massive 30 stones=420lb, by 2009 I got down to 299lb and I have been swinging between that and 322lb. For the past 5 weeks I am stuck at 322lb. I am eating no more than 1500 calories per day and on one of the weeks I stayed at 1000 calories. There is no way that I should be stuck at my current weight

    If I understand your article correctly, if I can stop my blood sugars from spiking and have complete protien at every meal or food I have, I should start to lose weight easier. I guess it does make sense becasue I started to lose weight on a regular basis when I had whey protien supplement everyday.

    I always eat breakfast of a healthy balance cereal with milk on it and a milky coffee, would that contain enopugh protien?

    I usually have a soup and slice of bread at lunch time and for my evening meal I generally have potatos and veg, not too keen on meat. So if I continued like that but added protien to the equation, in your opinion would I lose weight and take myself under what I am stuck on?

    Thank you for your time and perseverance

    Kind regards

    Janey

  • What to eat the morn

    [...] Times Magazine Nutrition & Metabolism | Full text | Ketogenic diets and physical performance Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  • How To Use Intermitt

    [...] According to J. Stanton of Gnolls.org snacking not only makes you fat…it makes you weak as well. [...]

  • What Was It About To

    [...] | Full text | Ketogenic diets and physical performance Running on Empty | Running Times Magazine Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  • Janey:

    I've been at the AHS conference and haven't had the time to reply, and I'm still on the road.  I'll give you a more comprehensive reply in a few days…but in the meantime, yes, it's best to make sure you have complete protein with whatever you eat.  That's only one part of the puzzle, but it's an important part.

    Furthermore, I recommend that you get that complete protein from whole foods, and not supplements like whey protein: meat and eggs are your best sources.  (Liquid foods like milk, with the exception of soup, aren't a great idea for weight loss: it's easy to consume lots of calories very quickly, which short-circuits the satiation response.)  If you eat breakfast on the go and don't have time to cook, hard-boiled eggs are a great solution.

    There is a lot more to say here, which I'll get to in a few days when I'm back at home and well-rested.  Where did you find out about gnolls.org?

    JS

  • Having Second Though

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  • JP

    Hello J and big thanks for great articles & links

    I’m coming from the angle of (endurance)sports and the need to plan nutrition before and after training (plus to avoid my kids getting carb-addiction), so I have some related questions, to which you might have understanding.

    Q1) I try to avoid getting any carbs just before aerobic training(1-3 hrs). E.g. train before breakfast, avoid sports drinks before or during, min 2 hours in between meal and trainings etc.. I.e. I try to train with normal/low blood sugar level. But I always get carb&protein (~80/20%) after the training. Purpose is to train the body for better fat burning (-> Marathon endurance & general health).
    —> Do you see any risks in this kind of method ?
    (Male, 43 years, BMI 21, celiac desease–> glutein free diet)

    Q2) ..about protein intake after training. In some earlier comments I saw, that whole protein (e.g. meat) will be available longer time in blood stream. Would that be sufficient also as a protein for post training needs. I.e. Steak during lunch and just carbs after training at 6 PM ?
    Sometimes you just don’t have optimum refil available.

    Q3) sometimes I have a pause in my training, e.g. running 1 hr to see my son’s match (45 mins) then running back home and then eat. Occationally I feel a bit week after that, but I could easily run 2-3 hours continiously with just water, withoiut such weakness feeling. Does the pause in training initiate some processes (muscle-protein-recompositions…?) which would require carb&protein ? ..or something ?

    …There are not many places where one could expect any help for these questions…
    -JP-

  • JP:

    Q1) No, carb+pro just after training is good for recovery.  Your muscles will be insulin-sensitive and will suck the nutrients right up.

    Q2) It depends on how much steak you ate, how depleted you are of glycogen, and a number of other factors that I can't possibly take into account. Hard-boiled eggs are a good portable source of complete protein, as is beef jerky.

    Note that not eating afterward won't cause you to keel over and die: in fact, periodic fasting creates beneficial autophagy, and exercise will only hasten the process.

    Q3) Yes, stopping exercise throws your body back into attempted-repair mode to some degree.  You don't require food at those times, or at any time — see above note — but it's beneficial for growth.

    JS

  • JP

    Big thanks for quick and clear answers !
    (…which triggered hunger for more..)

    -What if one only get protein as a recovery meal and no carbs
    (so if I just happen to carry beef jerky with me)?

    - I had to search “autophagy”, so it kind of clears your cells from garbage and “resets the errors” ?

    ..beef jerky, here I come !

    JP, from Finland

  • Quick Question about

    [...] I saw, people suggested working out on an empty stomach. BBC iPlayer – Frontiers: Muscle Wastage Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  • » Isocaloric b

    [...] Notice that none of the options for incoming sugar is “build muscle.” That’s because you can’t build muscle on an all sugar diet. In fact, you’ll be guaranteed to break down your own muscle to provide the amino acids your body requires. Obviously, an all-sugar diet is extreme, but this muscle breakdown happens even with an all-sugar snack. [...]

  • JP:

    That's fine: in fact, some people do that on purpose (“carbless post work out”) to maintain the high degree of insulin sensitivity as long as they can.  So long as you refill your glycogen stores sometime before your next workout you'll be fine.

    Yes, autophagy is the process by which your body cleans up old, damaged tissues (most notably, mitochondria).  Unsurprisingly, if your body needs to cannibalize itself for protein, it starts with the stuff that needs replacing anyway…this is why occasional short fasts (24-48 hours) and/or fasted training are good for you.  

    JS

  • Anna K

    Hi J,
    great blog, thanks. I have a quick question about snacking. It’s a bit confusing.

    1. I like to have a big breakfast of fat and protein with a little carbs and for lunch a little fruit with a lot of sour cream. Would 1/2 apple with raw grass-fed sour cream for lunch, as an example, be considered snack or meal? Sour cream has only a little protein.

    2. Also, you said “if your body needs to cannibalize itself for protein, it starts with the stuff that needs replacing anyway”, so why do you always need to eat protein with carbs? Wouldn’t you just cause autophagy by eating carbs without protein and that’s a good thing (assuming the carbs cause only a small insulin spike)?

    thanks!

  • I'm not J and won't directly answer your post, but I will say this: First, metabolic flexibility, which you can read all about … and second, regarding insulin spikes check out this post: http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/9/29/jim…..rches.html

    Hot off the press …

    I will answer your question indirectly from my experience of “eating like a predator” over the last three or four months.

    Your meal plan sounds fine to me. So many “paleo people” get so hung up on whether they're doing right … just eat … just eat real food, according to your needs … you body will tell you once you start to listen to it.

    I can't put anything more than a couple of tablespoons of full fat probiotic yoghurt down in the morning. My stomach wakes up around 11:30 and I long for a good lunch. You're very different to me. I used to wake up to a “shotgun breakfast” of cigs, orange juice and coffee, now a nice cup of tea … and a couple of spoons of yoghurt.

    If your breakfast carries you through and all you need is a light lunch with some lighter food … do it … it's a meal. Sp what that it's fruit – if you're not metabolically broken, eat and enjoy! You went from satisfying yourself in the morning to midday … and again, 'til dinner time. Check out J's articles on what exactly is satiety and satiation – they're addictive articles and need reading a few times, but even a scientific layman like me can follow it and it really helps me understand as the family cook how to construct a really valuable meal – our evening meal. More than food, it's our “tribal time”.

    Woman are different to men. This is a fact. Woman seem to tolerate fruit very well, even like it. That's your lunch – enjoy it … enjoy it however you do. Some berries, slices of fruit and some cream with is really good. I endorse it, others might not – it's all “meat, meat, fish and more meat” for many in the paleosphere, but … again, so long as you're not metabolically broken … carry on. Do ensure that you eat enough meat, fish, shellfish and eggs otherwise … and I would say green veg for the folates and all manner of other goodness.

    Don't get too hung up – eating real food when you're hungry is a meal. Eating a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps (chips) is a snack. Beef Jerky is a snack, but a good snack if you're hungry and have a meal planned for an hour or so ahead. You'll get it …

  • Anna K

    Paul, thanks for your reply. Snacking makes sense now. But I’m still confused on when autophagy kicks in. It’s just more of a scientific curiosity. Does it only happen during intermittent fasting? I’ve read a bit about it and it looks like insulin spike inhibits autophagy, presence of amino acids also does.

    So a low protein and low carb breakfast you are eating is similar to IF and will actually promote autophagy.

    Interesting article on that:
    http://knol.google.com/k/ron-mignery/protein-cycling-diet/2s3nmvrwklbxs/1#

  • Why aren't I lo

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    [...] has all the essentials in roughly the optimal ratio. The whole article is well worth a read: Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

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  • Anna K:

    When autophagy kicks in depends on how much protein you ate at your last meal, and how much activity you've undergone in the meantime.  My impression is that it's 1-2 days if you're sedentary, more quickly if you're exercising, given typical protein intakes.

    To rewind to your first question, no, a relatively protein-less lunch should be fine as long as you got plenty of protein at breakfast, some of which should still be in your bloodstream.  And for your second question, you're correct: insulin inhibits autophagy.  If you want some calories to tide you over during a fast, pure fat is recommended, particularly MCTs (i.e. coconut oil).

    Translation: don't worry about it.  A big paleo breakfast should give you enough protein that a small fat+carb snack around lunchtime won't cause a problem.  It's the people who eat a bagel with margarine for breakfast (or a “breakfast danish”) who are doing themselves harm, for any number of reasons beyond this one.

    Paul:

    Good points, as always.  There's sometimes a thin line between promoting optimal nutrition and promoting orthorexia.  I believe in understanding and explaining what I see as the best way to do things, and letting people decide for themselves how far they want to take it.

    JS

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  • Anna K

    J, thanks for your very detailed answer, it makes sense now.

  • The Value of Complet

    [...] to J. Stanton at http://www.gnolls.org for putting this forward in an understandable way in his article ‘Why snacking makes you weak, not just fat’) It really is very simple, the body needs protein, and if I don’t provide it with quality [...]

  • Stipetic

    Hey J,

    Curious. When blood sugar and insulin are high (more proteolysis going on), where does all that protein leaving muscles go? Converted to enzymes? Membrane proteins? Shunted to the liver for gluconeogenesis? These don’t seem like viable options. So, where do these amino acids go? Urea cycle? Or are they just recycled back into the muscle once the blood glucose re-normalises? Confused.

  • Stipetic:

    I don't know for sure. Insulin increases both protein uptake and protein synthesis, so I would suspect the aminos go to wherever protein normally goes on a regular basis.

    More info: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16545079

    JS

  • Stipetic

    I followed the proteins down the road you paved–the one that leads to lean muscle loss (which I believe makes intuitive sense, btw)–but I came to a fork in the road and noticed the proteins had gotten away. Where did the go? I’m sure it’ll come to me or someone else will figure it out. Thanks for the great read once again.

  • Stipetic:

    My current understanding (which may not be correct) is that amino flux is similar to fat flux: lipids are always moving in and out of adipocytes.  Similarly, as a result of autophagy and other ongoing repair/renewal processes, aminos are moving in and out too — and the processes that use aminos can be substantially upregulated and downregulated (insulin inhibits autophagy, for instance, though I'm not sure whether it's because high glucose inhibits autophagy or the inhibition is direct).

    I need to do more reading on this, and I appreciate any additional information you (or anyone else) can provide. 

    JS

  • Snacking | Mark'

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  • I just want to snack

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  • Eating for Muscle Gr

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  • Rebecca Cook

    I came across your website while researching the subject, “Does Sugar Physically Weaken The Human Body?” This is a subject that my 10 year old daughter chose for her 5th grade science project. I watched my Nutrition Professor take 2 VERY strong young men and perform the following experiment with them; Sent both out of the room. Invited the first to come back into the room and had him stand with his arms to his sides. The professor pressed his wrists towards his legs and told his to try to lift his arms out to his sides… which he was able to do with NO problem. He did this twice. Then the professor asked if anyone, especially the young man if he had a sweet tooth. The young man told the professor that he didnt eat a lot of sugar, but he did eat some refined sugar. The professor named several reasons why sugar was so bad for our body’s and then asked the young man to hold out his hand. He then poured out about 2 tsps of sugar in the palm of his hand and asked him to rub the sugar in his hand for one minute. While he timed him, he went on with more reasons sugar was evil… when the minute was up, he had the young man brush off the remaining sugar in the trash can. The professor repeated the same experiment and asked the young man to try to lift his arms. The young man could not do it. The young man, in disbelief tried again, and again with no luck. The young man even got VERY angry and put in ANGRY effort. still couldn’t lift his arms. The professor asked his to sit down. He called for the next young man and performed the exact experiment and had the exact same results.
    SO, my question is… does sugar really have that quick of an effect and such a drastic one on our bodies?? and if so.. Why does it make us weak like that?? By the way… I DID eat tons of sugar… starting IMMEDIATELY I’m eliminating sugar from my diet and eating protein with every meal!

  • Rebecca:

    That's stage magic, not science.  All the professor has to do is to hold your arms down in a different way.  Give your subjects weights to lift and don't let them know what's being rubbed on their hands (i.e. do a controlled, blinded study), and you'll find that no objective difference exists.

    Note that similar stage magic is used by the unscrupulous for “allergy tests”: you're told to hold vials of allergen in your hand and “try your strength” against theirs.  It's a safe bet that any such demonstrator is a quack.

    That being said, there are plenty of sound metabolic reasons not to ingest refined sugar or HFCS — especially in the quantities available in soft drinks, candy, and baked desserts.  However, they have to do with factors such as:

    • Refined sugar and HFCS contain no vitamins or nutrients, unlike whole foods
    • Refined sugar and HFCS are high in fructose, which causes many problems when consumed in isolation and/or to excess
    • Refined sugar and HFCS can cause huge blood sugar spikes and troughs when consumed in isolation and/or to excess, causing hunger, mood swings, etc.
    • Refined sugar and HFCS can cause gut dysbiosis, SIBO, GERD, etc. when consumed in isolation and/or to excess
    • All the issues I've already brought forth in the body of the article

    I think a 5th grader would probably do best to concentrate on the first and third issues (nutrition, blood sugar swings). I wish you both the best with your project!

    JS

  • 8 Reasons to Start I

    [...] 1.  Prevent the habit of frequent snacking [...]

  • Irina

    As I understood it actually snacking is not the problem but eating some kind of carbohydrate without protein?

  • Irina:

    Complete protein, yes.  Most snacks are either protein-less or contain incomplete protein (e.g. grain proteins, which are low in lysine, and most plant proteins).

    'Energy bars' are a bit better — but they almost universally get their protein from soy, and they're usually full of sugar and Frankengredients. 

    Real food usually requires preparation, and by that point I'm eating a meal.  The main reason to eat like a predator is to regain a healthy metabolism that can go without food when necessary, without leaving us weak from hunger.  Then we can wait until we have access to delicious real food.

    JS

  • [...] meal plan.” Originally Posted by aussie_89 Any tips on snacks? Yeah, don't. Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote « Previous Thread | Next Thread [...]

  • [...] on that spectrum is a bit of a balancing act. We don’t want to be constant snackers, because snacking makes you fat and weak. Longer fasts have shown health benefits, but you will start losing muscle mass eventually. Sixteen [...]

  • [...] Snacking makes you weak Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat - GNOLLS.ORG Your food is very low in natural animal fat and appears not to have any ruminant meat and that's [...]

  • jack

    for my snack i usually eat a tbsp of peanut butter, or 23 almond or 2 fruits such banana or apple – is these good for snack or should i completely avoided.

    is it better to eat loads at one setting (say 700 kcal) so you dont have to eat snack?

    what is your thoughts on this.

  • camron

    why is that most of the article i have read on the internet says it is good to have snack.
    when you want to lose weight then snack is key to weight loss as it help manage hunger and reduce bingeing. Eating a healthy snack of a piece of fruit or some raw veggies can tame your hunger without ruining your appetite for your next meal.

  • … because “most of the internet” is backed by some kind of corporation backed interest. Follow the money.

    Snacking is not necessary. In fact, snacking ruins leptin – your body's trigger which tells you when it is replete. Look back to the '80s where little bite-sized snacks crept in – small portions, just enough so as not to ruin appetite. All it did was creep more sugar into the diet and creep total calories.

    Go from meal to meal. Savour hunger in between. Eat until replete when you do – without snacking and without overloading with sugar, leptin will guide you.

  • jack:

    I discourage snacking in general because of the reasons in this article (and more).  Yes, eat more at the meal…if you're eating like a predator, it'll take hours to digest the food anyway, so those 700 kcal will be released very slowly.  As a bonus, predatory eating will keep your blood sugar more stable.

    If you can't make it between meals without snacking no matter how much you eat, that's a bad sign — your metabolic flexibility is likely impaired, and you might have a bit of reactive hypoglycemia.

    camron:

    Paul pretty much nailed it: if we all stopped snacking, who would buy all that junk in the snack food aisles?  It's not like we usually eat all those chips, dips, crisps, candies, puffs, bars, pastries, doodles, and dingbats with our meals…

    As (I think) Brad Pilon said, “You don't lose weight by eating…you lose weight by not eating.”  If you feel that you have to snack, you either ate the wrong foods at your last meal (i.e. carb-heavy bready/sugary stuff, including so-called “healthy” junk like bagels and smoothies, that put you on the blood sugar rollercoaster) or you didn't eat enough of them.

    JS

  • jack

    how about eating 2x boiled eggs or banana for snack. would this causes weight gain?

  • jack

    Eating smaller meals more frequently reduces fat storage through portion control
    Eating small, frequent meals helps prevent you from over-consuming calories
    through simple portion control. Excess calories at one meal will always be converted into
    body fat. When you consume a meal, the food is digested and directed into any cells
    requiring immediate energy. Once the cells have received all the energy they need, the
    body can store the excess fuel in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver. However,
    there’s only so much glycogen your body can store. Any excess calories beyond this limit
    will be stored as body fat.

  • jack:

    Boiled eggs are an excellent source of complete protein.  As such, they qualify as a meal, not a snack…and sometimes it's not realistic to fix a full meal.  I say go for it.

    jack:

    You'll need to justify those bold assertions.  What the heck is “portion control”, and why would it reduce fat storage?  If you eat less, you'll just be hungry sooner.

    If you eat a complete meal of meat or eggs, with plenty of fat, not too much starch, and no simple sugar, your body will take hours to digest it…for example, a mixed meal usually takes over four hours before it's even left the stomach, let alone fully digested!  The reason people have to eat every few hours is that they're mostly eating quickly-digested carbohydrates, which are broken down, absorbed, and stored in just a couple hours…leaving them hungry again.

    Read this article for a detailed study on the subject, using real-world foods.

    JS

  • mtb

    What about for a growing teen boy? My 15 year old son rarely eats breakfast and has lunch at the school cafeteria (not awful, but certainly not Paleo/Primal/Perfect Health Diet). Then he wants to snack continuously from the time he gets home through bedtime.

    He used to eat bread with jam and peanut butter for snacks, and tons of fruit. I’ve been transitioning our family to an eating plan like Perfect Health Diet, so I’m no longer buying bread but I do buy rice cakes with seaweed as a substitute (which he eats plain). I’ve thought of keeping deviled eggs around (my son likes those), but am having trouble coming up with other good foods to have available for raiding quickly from the fridge.

    Great posts. Thank you!

  • Does he like meat? Have some shredded leftover meat always available. Brisket is good … just slow cook it, let it cook, shred it and leave it in a bowl in the fridge. It'll last longer than the length of time it takes for him to eat it.

    Guacamole? Well, just pureed avocado … lovely with those eggs he likes and really nice with that shredded meat when going on a fridge raid.

    Pate? Pah-tey :D

    Bread is just a means of communing good food to the mouth … there are all manner of things that can be used instead. Chicory leaves (Endive, in US, I think), celery, small lettuce, mushrooms; try to steer him towards something on real food.

    Meanwhile, those eggs will see him on and on … HTH.

  • mtb

    Wonderful ideas, Paul! Thanks very much. He *loves* meat; in fact, he just finished off a pork roast that in many households would last a week! The guacamole is a great idea too. And I’d love to get some liver into him, so I’ll try introducing him to pate.

    I love your description of bread being a means of communicating good foot to the mouth. I was thinking that rice cakes could play that role, but your suggestions of celery, etc, are much better.

    Thanks again!
    M.

  • My pleasure :D

    Do check the ingredients, though, since pate is often bulked with some kind of rusk. More artisan pates will be little more than liver, fat and spices.

    Rice cakes are not altogether evil. You'll find many of us here are not averse to some white rice, especially the more active folks. The difficulty is finding one that is not laced with all manner of rubbish like MSG or so-called “yeast extract” which is practically dressed up MSG.

    Purity is the key. Simple, straight-up rice cakes are okay, but not great for the long term since they get in the way of eating really good food. When grazing, you really want to build up with protein.

    You'll find a way …

    Meanwhile, you've got some more ideas.

  • mtb

    Thanks for the heads up about the pate. I also thought I might try to find some good chopped liver recipes that I could spice to his liking.

    The rice cakes are Lundberg Organic, so fairly straightforward but I agree it shouldn’t get in the way of his eating more nutritious food. We are following Perfect Health Diet, which does call for a small amount of white rice and potatoes, and with time I’m sure we’ll figure out what the right amount is for each of us.

    Interestingly, my son hasn’t once in the last month (since we started doing PHD) asked for bread, which we used to eat a lot of. I’ve increased the amount and frequency of meat, plus fat like good butter on the sweet potatoes, that we have at meals and I think that has been very satisfying for him!

    Thank you again!!

  • You're among like-minded folks here. I know J says he eats close to what would be described in 'The Perfect Health Diet', I do, many here do.

    Look into making pate – it's really not difficult. Home made often has a more loose consistency, but it's so much better.

    Also, look at Potted Shrimp – basically, shrimp (in the UK, these are a different breed to what is called shrimp in the US, but either will do … small, Icelandic prawns would be perfect), mace and butter … set in the fridge.

    Potted Meat is not too difficult: http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk/2011/06/potted-beef.html

    How about a smoked mackerel spread? http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk/2012/11/smoked-mackerel-pate.html

    You get the idea …

    Again, whatever you put this real food on is simply a means of getting it to your mouth. Simply, a spoon will do.

    Back to the post in hand …

    J showed us how snacking is not good. I've commented above that going from meal to meal and savouring the hunger in between is a good thing. Eat full and real meals when you do.

    That said, I remember when I was “a growing lad” in a vegetarian household! I ate a lot of oats … enough to make anyone think I was a horse :D I would have been very envious of a fridge stocked with some boiled eggs, a bowl of shredded meat and a handful of lettuce leaves to make a wrap with, fuelling my long evenings of homework and revision.

    Again, while snacking is not ideal, perhaps it's more a case that your lad needs a further meal … and so, offering good, real food for a small meal is a good thing. Proper protein and fat really can't be wrong. Carry on. I hope the links give some more ideas.

    My motto on a couple of paleo forums is: “Needs more fish …” … I do think everyone could do with more oily fish in their diets. Mackerel, sardine, sild, herring, even salmon; all good, all make good pates, all work well simply cooked, chilled and crushed onto anything that can be pushed into your mouth :D

  • mtb

    More wonderful ideas! Thanks so much for taking the time. I didn’t know about the potted shrimp; sounds delicious. We do need more fish in our diet, and making them into pates is a great idea. The potted meats sound yummy also.

    I’m with you (and this article) on the snacking. Unfortunately it is something we have all done around this house for a long time, but that was when we were eating lots of whole grains/beans/light on meat and fat. I need to train myself not to snack as well; honestly, some of it is just habit. However, my son rarely eats breakfast and his school lunch is so-so in nutrition, so he’s probably ravenous for “real” food when he gets home. I think I’ll make an effort to have a small “meal” waiting for him (not unlike “tea” for kids in the UK?) rather than having him troll for snacks all afternoon. That might tide him over until dinner and help train him to space his eating.

    Wow! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help.
    Wishing you the best of health,
    M.

  • mtb:

    You can relax the “no snacking” rule for growing teenagers, who most likely need the extra energy, as long as the foods available contain complete protein.  Especially if he's eating lunch at school (usually both gross and inadequate) and not eating breakfast, which will leave him ravenous when he gets home…the extra afternoon meal is probably necessary.

    Paul's ideas are very good.  Additionally, mashed potatoes (with plenty of butter) can be quickly microwaved and eaten, as can white rice…but make sure they're eaten with some meat!

    JS

  • mtb

    Thanks, JS, for more great ideas! I haven’t tried Paul’s recipes yet (I’ve been down with the second of 2 bad colds in a row; I’m hoping that our new way of eating will improve that!). But I did make deviled eggs for the afternoon “meal” today and they were very well-received. Also stocked up on various grass-fed meats at Whole Foods, and I’m looking forward to having a fridge full of great options. (Any good ideas for buying grass-fed at lower prices than WF?)

    BTW, I’m trying your Paleo Scramble tonight.

    Great website. Thank you!!

  • mtb

    P.S. Has the Gnoll Credo been released in Kindle format? I was just looking into buying it as a thank you for your website…

    M.

  • mtb:

    There is no ebook version available at this time…we'll let everyone know when that changes.  However, the paper version is only $10.95, and it's available worldwide.

    Thank you for your interest and support!

    JS

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