First, for those who haven’t seen it already (it’s been online for about a week), the bibliography of my 2013 AHS presentation “What Is Metabolic Flexibility, and Why Is It Important?” can be found here. I’ll post the video as soon as it’s made available.
Not An AHS 2013 Recap
If I try to list everyone who contributed to my experience, I’ll no doubt forget several important people. However, I have a few observations about the AHS, and the state of the community in general:
- The Ancestral Health Symposium, the Society that created it, and the Paleo and Primal movements that help give it strength, are here to stay. The quality of the presentations, and the size of the audience, grows steadily each year.
- This is not an accident: it’s due to a great deal of hard work by the organizers and presenters. Congratulations to everyone who put in the long hours.
- Naysayers, gadflies, and grousers: the train has left the station and continues to gather steam.
- Speaking of which: just because someone eats beans, or corn, or wheat for a few months, and feels fine, doesn’t mean those of us who avoid them are disordered eaters. I wrote that article long ago: The Limitations of N=1 Self Experimentation.
- Rule of thumb: the more restrictive the diet, the more evangelistic its adherents.
- Yes, relentless calorie counting and exercise logging counts as a restrictive diet! And while I’m not going to gainsay anyone who decides they’re happier doing that (and/or performing pathological volumes of exercise) than restricting carbohydrates or doing a Whole 30, I don’t believe it creates any moral high ground to lecture from.
- I still eat like a predator. It works.
Why You Should Buy An Exercise Physiology Textbook
Next, the alert reader will notice that the first four sections of my bibliography don’t feature a forest of Pubmed citations: they reference a basic exercise physiology text.
W. Larry Kenney, Jack Wilmore, David Costill
Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 5th Edition
2011, Human Kinetics Publishing, ISBN 978-0736094092
If you wish to dig deeply into the science of nutrition and health, but lack the academic background, I recommend you find a copy and read it. Yes, it’s expensive, because it’s a college textbook…but consider the following:
- Reading a textbook written for undergraduates is far easier than trying to piece together an understanding of human metabolism from Wikipedia and Pubmed articles. The presentation and organization are worlds ahead. How much is your time worth?
- I’ve found it extremely valuable to have all the basics presented in one place. The sixteen pages of Chapter 2 alone are worth the price even if you never get any farther. (They describe bioenergetics—how our bodies store, transform, and use energy.)
- There is very little bad nutrition advice…only a few pages out of several hundred. (Caveat: much of the rest is aimed at endurance athletes looking for maximum performance in competition—not strength athletes, or normal people trying to maintain health and lose fat.)
- Most importantly, you’ll be able to quickly pinpoint and discard large quantities of speculation, woo, and nonsense. Once you’ve read a basic text like Kenney, it’ll become obvious who hasn’t…an observation which includes several bloggers with a penchant for name-checking scientists, burying their readers under an avalanche of references, and/or selling expensive books and programs.
Why am I recommending sports and exercise physiology, instead of nutrition, general physiology, or biochemistry?
- Exercise physiology stays mostly at the functional level. Thus, I believe it to be far more useful for the layman than a general physiology text like Vander’s—which starts at the level of the individual cell, and goes so deeply into the gory biochemical details that you’re unlikely to ever finish all 700 pages. Even if you manage to plow through it, that level of detail can easily obscure your understanding of real-world issues.
- Exercise physiology helps us understand how our bodies adapt to the changing demands we place on them every day.
- It’s easy to derive basic dietary principles from basic bioenergetics and functional physiology—and I find this approach far more productive than trying to wade through the swamp of bad epidemiology that comprises most modern nutrition “science”.
Summary: if you’re deeply interested in the science of nutrition and health but don’t have the academic background, I believe you can save yourself substantial time and confusion by starting with Kenney et.al. (And if you’re a cheapskate or on a tight budget, you can find the 4th edition for far less.)
Either way, if you buy it through any of the links above, you’ll support gnolls.org at no cost to you.
Live in freedom, live in beauty.