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Wildflower Riot! And The State Of The Paleo Community
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October 12, 2011
6:22 pm
Richard Nikoley


October 12, 2011
6:49 pm
Forum Posts: 2045
Member Since:
February 22, 2010
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The PHD hypothesis seems to be that low thyroid is usually a consequence of some sort of malnutrition -- often protein or glucose deficiency -- which causes the body to downregulate metabolism generally in order to conserve resources.  As I said, look into the posts linked from that one.

I know people who have substantially decreased their thyroid medication purely from low-dose iodine supplementation (kelp), and I think I agree with the Jaminets that increasing the dosage slowly is the way to go.

As far as being scared to up the starch because you might gain pounds: if you're VLC or keto right now, an instantaneous gain over the first 2-3 days of eating more starch is glycogen/water weight, not fat gain.  However, some people genuinely find that starch >50g/day puts themselves on the hunger rollercoaster. 

My advice is to ALWAYS eat that starch as the last component of an otherwise complete meal of protein and fat.  I know people for whom this is a delicate balancing act: too little starch and they get dry mouth/eyes, too much and they get hungry all the time.  Usually this happens to people who aren't performing any glycogen-depleting exercise...I don't know if this is your case or not.


It's poor soil in general, but rich for the area: most of the Sierras has no 'soil' per se, just gray decomposed granite (sand) scoured by many a glacier.  The areas with the best wildflowers have red sand, decomposed from more recent volcanic eruptions, and presumably richer in minerals.  They're also near seasonal streambeds fed from snowmelt.

However, we're still talking about high altitude (over 8000 feet) and very harsh conditions: these areas are covered with snow for much of the year, subject to massive winter storms, and the flowering window comes during the relatively short amount of time during which it doesn't freeze at night.  (Lupines and mule's ears will grow a couple thousand feet lower, but Indian paintbrush, columbines, and the others are resolutely alpine.)

"Its ironic that garderners strive to create the conditions for such
vigorous growth and such a riot of colour – and yet here it is, in the
wild, with no 'human management', no artificial irrigation, no
fertilisers nor pesticides."

Consider that our aesthetic tastes, like our metabolism, were not created by 'civilization'.  They were created by nature.


The clinical trials of Paleo diets have just started...and though they're short-term, they're all quite successful so far.  (They're also done with Cordain-ish lean meat diets...I don't know any trials of high-fat functional paleo.)

That's a great point about low-carb being functional paleo until a few decades ago!


Ouch!  Apparently the reflex of deer to jump in front of speeding vehicles is shared by the other ungulates.  And it's hard to comprehend just how fast antelope can move if you haven't seen them spooked like that.  Thanks for the link!


I find it interesting that Stephan has used a large number of Seth Roberts' references, particularly Cabanac (see the "Science" page at, while coming to very different conclusions about the nature of the problem and its solution.  Since I've only read his online information, not the book, I don't feel qualified to judge Dr. Roberts' work at this time...but what I've read so far makes a lot more sense to me than FRH.


Eating is a very fundamental expression of our social and cultural identity...and the modern American diet says a lot about modern America. 

Speaking personally, I think it's important to understand where food comes from, because otherwise it's easy to forget evolutionary context and descend into nutritionism.  Furthermore, I feel that if we're going to eat meat, we should be honest about where it comes from and how we get it.  If we admit that a diet based primarily on animal products (by calories, not necessarily by bulk) is optimally healthy, then we must admit an evolutionary history of getting animal products.  And since supermarkets are a recent invention, that means hunting.

But as I've said before, you're more than welcome to take the advice and discard the packaging.


That's an excellent point: much of the 'controversy' is driven by those who want to market themselves as having Invented a Bold New Theory of Obesity.

My opinion remains that this is both unnecessary and counterproductive.  Usually the existing science is more than adequate to explain observed reality, and I'm happy to continue exploring and explaining it -- with no claims to having "invented" a new way of eating or living.  There are seven billion people in the world, and the odds that we're so smart that we've had a thought not one of them has ever had before, particularly on a well-researched topic like obesity, are slim indeed. 

This is especially true when citing scientific literature.  If we're citing peer-reviewed science that makes the case we're making, especially when it's from decades ago, we have no claim to originality.

As far as "high-carb" Paleo being low-carb in reality, definitely.  The Jaminets recommend perhaps 15-20% of calories from "safe starches", which is perhaps 250-500 calories (or 63-120 grams) at typical caloric intakes.  There's 280 calories (70g) of sugar in one 16oz Rockstar energy drink.


I've emphasized the difference myself: low-carb is primarily a side effect of paleo, not the endpoint.  But Dr. Eenfeldt is correct: both of us have something to learn from the other...and, of course, without Gary Taubes we'd probably still be stuck thinking cholesterol and saturated fat were bad for us.

As far as set points, I'm not saying they don't exist!  What I'm saying is that "set point" is the word we use when we don't know why a system returns to equilibrium. 

As far as exercise, I believe it's important -- not because it makes you lose weight directly, but because it maintains the metabolic flexibility that allows you to burn fat at rest instead of glucose.  And to that end, short, intense exercise is better than "jogging" or any "cardio" work, which is mostly useless.  (Walking is great for other reasons.)


You're not a "first-time caller" by any've been around longer than anyone except Tim, Cornelius, or Bodhi (where are they, anyway?)

Yes, it's become fashionable to pillory Gary Taubes lately...for many, it's just another version of what Sam said, which is people trying to claim originality for marketing reasons.

"Many people love prime rib of beef, for example, and find it very
rewarding and palatable, yet no-one in his/her right mind blames that
sort of food on the fattening of the world."

Agreed.  Any hypothesis that requires us to define pate de foie gras and prime rib as not "rewarding" or "palatable" is prima facie bankrupt.  As I've said before, "wanting" and "liking" can only be parsed in the context of satiation, satiety, and willpower.


PS: I'll respond to the rest of you soon, but right now I have to go run some errands and eat dinner.  Thank you all for the support and feedback!

October 12, 2011
9:27 pm
Daniel Hagg, MD

Great post. Your blog has really hit its stride this year and is now among my favorite and most anticipated. Loved The Gnoll Credo, which I just passed along to my wife so she will understand where I'm coming from. Keep up the good work. I am, like many I suspect, a long time reader finally motivated to let you know how much I appreciate the effort.


October 13, 2011
1:28 am
Forum Posts: 2045
Member Since:
February 22, 2010
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I greatly appreciate the vote of confidence!

Yes, the glossing over of hunger is puzzling.  People don't say "I want to become obese and diabetic."  They become obese and diabetic because they're constantly hungry. 

Anyway, the best compliment you can give is to forward my articles to others -- and if you want to support my efforts, you can buy a copy of The Gnoll Credo and/or use my referral link to make your Amazon purchases.  The monthly checks do help me keep updated and ad-free.


Well said.


Yes, low blood sugar appears to be a major driver of hunger.  I have an interesting hypothesis around that which I'm not yet ready to present.

As far as the consequences of chronically elevated blood sugar, I think the "time under the curve" may be more important than absolute level.  (Warning: speculation ahead)  It seems likely that our bodies are relatively well equipped to repair any damage caused by a normal level of fasting blood sugar.  So the damage might not be caused by high-carb in might be the constant influx of carbs ("7-11 servings per day", "eat lots of small meals") keeping blood sugar continually elevated.  I note that the Pacifc Islanders that we're so often beaten over the head with ("CARBS ARE FINE FOR EVERYONE BECAUSE OF 150 KITAVANS") have very different eating patterns than the typical American.

Of course, right now this is just plausible speculation...but I think we can all imagine it presented as established fact by some in the paleosphere.  This is part of what I'm cautioning against.

"Following Hyperlipid's emphasis, I'd love to know the MECHANISM for
heart disease risk factors and elevated blood pressure due to food
tasting good."

That's another good point.  If carb-obesity isn't true, we still have to explain why obesity is such a strong risk factor for these diseases.  There are a lot of missing steps between dopamine signaling and (for instance) arterial calcification. 


If you actually price out the amount of food you can fix for the price of McDonalds or KFC, you'll realize that they're not necessarily such a great value.  A Big Mac only has 3.2 ounces (90g) of meat in it, and hundreds of calories worth of bun, "cheese", and "special sauce".  Hamburger is perhaps $3 a pound here, less in bulk or on about 1/2 pound of hamburger, a $1 head of lettuce for the "bun" and a big salad, and a few cents worth of condiments instead?  Just saying.

"Those people seemed to think that they were owed something, that they could have something for nothing."

It's called "the dole".

Creating a permanent dependent underclass is never a good idea.  You're trading short-term security for a guarantee of long-term societal dysfunction.


That's because it's true.  If you're conscious enough to understand the issue, odds are you haven't fallen prey to it either.



More've all been contributing such thoughtful comments that I feel the need to respond with care.

October 13, 2011
1:36 am
Honora Renwick

Very informative, including the comments. Having Hashimoto's (subclinical automimmune thyroiditis) I was especially interested in the link to the lab in Victoria, Australia that does the complete thyroid assessment. I've contacted them regarding whether a private individual can purchase these tests and what the fee is.

Also for untreated Hashimoto's Dr Alexander Haskell is cautious about introducing iodide/iodine to patients as iodine will fuel a rise in TSH. He introduces iodide/iodine once the thyroid autoantibodies are down to the normal range. Here's the link where he explains this:

October 13, 2011
4:11 am

@ Paul Halliday

.."Britain is very different to the US, but catching up … and it was interesting that I talked about the '40s as being one of the major changing point in the standard diet – we had rationing, where meat and butter were not available in quantities we would have liked."

The rationing period is often advanced as a) a period when the British were more healthy through better nutrition and b) proof that butter and meat are unhealthy because they were restricted in availability by rationing. It is usefult to remember that grains and sugar were also restricted during that period - householders and others were exhorted to plant potatoes wherever they could to substitute for pre-war grain imports, and of course the use of shipping for sugar imports was severely restricted.

So the rationing period could equally well be evidence that restriction of grain and sugar promotes health.

October 13, 2011
5:18 am

If we have to believe in self-experimentation, I can tell you this. I am stuck at 96-97 Kilos of body weight for about a year. HAve tried many things, IF, CR and so on. Weight may go down to 92-95 but as soon as things settle in, my body weight goes to 96-97 again. I truly believe this is my set point, and really is hard (at least for me) to permanetly change it....

October 13, 2011
5:59 am

To me the difference between low-carb and paleo is the distinct primary focus of each. To someone eating paleo, food quality is important. Eating real meat, seafood, veggies, fruit, nuts, and oils that could be produced without an industrial process is a major component of the eating style. To someone eating "low-carb," the primary goal is to be low carb, so highly processed and artificial products like low-carb bread/pasta, artificial sweeteners, and unnaturally high amounts of sugar alcohols all become fair-game in the quest to keep carbs under a certain number.

In some ways, the equivalent problem in the paleo/primal community is with non-wheat substitutes for an old favorite. Sure, I can make paleo muffins using almond or coconut flour and honey or maple syrup, but should this sort of "technically paleo" sort of food really be anything more than a rare treat? I think not.

October 13, 2011
8:31 am


Seth Roberts' book is a very quick read and I'd encourage you to go through it if you get a chance. It's succinct and wouldn't take more than a couple hours, I'd say.

I've decided to n=1 and see how his take on the set-point would work with me. I am 6'2 and have been working on gaining muscle, doing gains up until 15% body fat and then cutting down to 10%, as I find this to be a helpful way of putting on muscle fairly quickly (alongside fat) without feeling as if I'm getting too out of shape.

I started taking the ELOO the other day, an hour after and before meals, twice a day. So far, I'm convinced it has cut my hunger. While lifting and trying my life to cram in extra calories, I found that I was always hungry (a good thing when that's the goal). But when I chose to start leaning out, avoiding starches more actively, I found it hard to resist.

(Mind you, it is hard to make muscle gains on a "strict paleo/primal diet" if, and this is my estimate as to why this type of diet is so effective, one is healthily in balance due to their 'set-point' being set appropriately with the paleo-esque foods... which is why I feel I've had to amp up my intake and eat more starches and a few shakes here and there.)

The ELOO has really tempered my appetite back. I just need to make sure I am getting ample protein, perhaps supplementing with BCAA, as I've heard others have great success with.

So, although it's only been a couple days, I think Seth was definitely onto something, even for a guy who has hardly any fat to lose. He also laid out his entire reasoning in a book that feels shorter/easier to read than Guyenet's posts, as much as I enjoy trudging through them.

Thanks for your response and all that you do.

October 13, 2011
12:25 pm
eddie watts

JS: i was not suggesting you did not believe in set points, sorry if it came across that way. before i had this experience i did not personally believe in it.

there are a few things in paleo-sphere that i have issues with.

rob wolf in his book gave a great breakdown about the issues with eating grains. it was extensive and that section of the book is worth the rest imo.
but then he says something along the lines of "dairy causes similar problems, i don't have room to go into it now so you'll just have to take my word for it and have none for the 30 days"

i find this unforgivable personally!

previously on his blog, pre-book, he had said that women often struggle if they eat any dairy, especially cheese. he gave no mechanism at that time which i found odd.
i personally thought cheese=high calories...maybe this is why.

i am naturally sceptical, especially since i've found so much stuff to be false.

since reading MDA there was a post about cheese specifically and other dairy products being high in certain amino acids which cause a higher-than-macro-profile-would-suggest-insulin-response. this made me happy and reaffirmed my beliefs in dairy.
(i still think dairy=good for weight gains, not so much weight loss. this is reflected in my weight loss when reducing it, beyond the simple caloric load)

my personal experience with set points has made me more of a believer, but i believe they are bypassable with hard work: extra strictness in diet and (i think this is key) vigorous excercise, specifically resistance work. even more so for women as for men.
(maybe this is societal: mean are at some level expected to be strong and lift weights, women are not. men hold doors open or carry shopping for women etc etc)

@ Rafael: are you training?

and Paul Halliday: i don't believe it costs £30 to feed a family one meal. i am a big eating guy, my wife is 6 foot tall and my 15 yo son is approaching her height now and he eats more than i do (eating more because he is growing, Taubes would say)
we feed the three of us, more like 5 as me and son eat double, for well under that amount. with fresh meat and veg dominating. (ok we buy frozen veg, fresh goes off too quick or you have to shop alternate days. don't let perfect be the enemy of good etc)

October 13, 2011
12:25 pm
Halifax, UK
Forum Posts: 364
Member Since:
June 5, 2011
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@Robbo - That is a very good point about grain and sugar restriction during post-war rationing. When I first described the dietary regimen I was following to my parents, my mother commented on how it sounded exactly like how my grandparents ate, dietary practices formed prior to the Second World War.

Living in the Ice Age

October 13, 2011
3:42 pm

"Creating a permanent dependent underclass is never a good idea. You're trading short-term security for a guarantee of long-term societal dysfunction."

Well put. That perfectly describes the situation we're in today. Welfare states most certainly do not work. There can and should be some sort of plan for assistance-but that's the key word there. Assistance. Work for food. Work for housing. There is plenty of US infrastructure to update that would employee thousands. The gov't is going to take my income anyway, might as well use it for something other than creating generations of weak people. Oh, and the FED is a criminal organization. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

October 13, 2011
4:56 pm

@ Honora..Thanks for responding on the Hashi's and iodine. I do not have a diagnosis, but I had been taking a daily dose of kelp the last 6 months. I have discontinued since the screening TSH was high. However, I got back the retesting with the complete Thyroid Panel and all my numbers are in the normal range. Also I have no symptoms. So I am going to up the starch a bit and check again in a few months.

@JS .. Thanks for the links to the Jaminets re the thyroid research. I am taking their and your advice to get the starch up to 200 calories a day. Today with meals: blueberries, a little rice noodles, small portion potato.

Also I am going to try to earn the added starches. I had a ladder accident last year and broke my heel and a few other bones in my foot so exercise has been limited. I hate gyms, but I joined recently so that I can get exercise in a controlled environment...doing heavy weights and exercise bike.

And I wanted you to know that my husband, who is a univ. professor, assigned his advanced comp class an essay, "How to Create the Perfect Snack Food." Then he used yours as a model essay. Sneaky huh? Teaching composition and good eating habits.

October 13, 2011
9:05 pm
Jim Purdy

This statement really struck me:
"It’s easy to put up a wall of citations—but if a hypothesis contradicts observed reality, it’s best to take a step back."

There have been many times when my preconceived notions have bumped into a hard wall of reality, and reality always wins.

After 68 years of age, I realize that I know a whole lot less than what I thought I knew 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago.

In fact, I'm not sure of anything, and I'm just as skeptical of doctors and others who think they know everything. I'm finding that nothing beats good old trial and error.

October 14, 2011
12:10 am
Forum Posts: 2045
Member Since:
February 22, 2010
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Our perception of self shapes our actions.  If we think of ourselves as sheep, we'll behave like sheep.  And sheep are a profit center for the shepherds — so this faulty self-perception is everywhere encouraged.

He mea iki.  I'm glad you've been inspired.  That's a powerful essay, and I thank you for sharing it with us. 

Live in freedom, live in beauty.


No, I don't take it for granted.  I used to spend many hours driving to and from here on weekends and vacations.  It's instructive to recall that "nature" is what everywhere used to look like — before we plowed it under and paved it over.

You're right that those pods look like tiny pitcher plants…but the biome is utterly, completely wrong.  I don't know what they are.

I don't know why we react badly to beef liver…predators almost always eat the liver first, as do the few remaining hunting cultures, which prize it tremendously.  I don't dislike it, but I can't say I find it delicious either.

Note that you might be overcooking the liver.  Quickly searing it in a cast-iron pan seems to be best (perhaps with sauteed onions) if you're not hiding it in chili.


I can't claim to understand the Big Picture yet.  No one does.  But I'm happy to describe the parts I understand, and I'm doing my best to understand the parts I don't — or hand them off to others, like Peter or Paul, whose expertise in the area exceeds mine.

Your support here and elsewhere is greatly appreciated…and your signed copy of TGC is on its way!


How else am I going to goad you into posting here again?  Stop being such a damn stranger.

Dr. Hagg:

Thanks for noticing that it takes a lot of work to write informative, concise, well-presented articles! 

I'm glad TGC spoke to you, and I'm honored that you found it meaningful. Contact me if you'd like some DBTT stickers…and that goes for any of my fans who have bought a copy of the book.  (US only, please…postage is otherwise prohibitive.)


I have no experience with Hashimoto's.  I do note, however, that a functional paleo diet is designed to be about as strongly anti-inflammatory as one can get without resorting to drugs or supplements.



I'm slowly catching up…thanks in advance for your patience and support.

October 14, 2011
6:36 am
Halifax, UK
Forum Posts: 364
Member Since:
June 5, 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Seconded! I enjoy reading Richard Nikoley's blog as it was a great inspiration to me when I started out doing something about my increasing weight and decreasing fitness. It'd be good to see you (Richard) here more often.

Living in the Ice Age

October 14, 2011
12:42 pm

Those red and yellow pod things are locoweed. Here are pictures with the identification:

When I was talking about identity politics I was referring to it in regards to people getting panties in a wad over whether you eat dairy or some other foods (that's not paleo!) or whether you eat x number of carbs or not or follow this plan or that plan. That sort of thing. I appreciate the matter-of-fact health-oriented ideas on Kurt Harris' blog, although I suspect he hangs on so tightly to the paleo name for search engine optimization reasons more than anything.

When I was hiking the PCT I followed the wildflower season as I went. Flowers in the desert, flowers in the High Sierra, flowers in the cascades. Maybe I am some kind of goofy female nutcase, but I never felt so happy, so full of joy and so absolutely wealthy as when my days were filled with vistas of endless wildflowers. I never got tired of them. All the way to Canada, I could come around a corner and be stopped dead in my tracks to see another field of flowers.

I'm still searching for dietary answers myself. Two weeks now on very low carb/high fat diet and while I can smell the acetone in my urine and sense that I lost a couple pounds the first week, I feel that I'm gaining it all back this week. My body is too well-trained to let go of weight. I'm not sure what to do next.

October 15, 2011
10:22 am

A few commenters said they had a problem with the taste of beef liver. I highly recommend this recipe on paleohacks (the first answer):
I like this version, but also tried it without butter and cream, and it's great too. The fan should be as hot as possible. Frying time may be even lower than in the recipe, perhaps 40 sec for each side - even 30 if you like raw inside (I do). Slices should be thin, 5-8 mm.

October 15, 2011
1:08 pm
Halifax, UK
Forum Posts: 364
Member Since:
June 5, 2011
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Problems with the taste of liver? Pfffff ...

Fry it in a pre-heated hot pan until it's sealed and get it eaten! Keep it to a minimum, mind - you don't want too much of a good thing and I think once a week it pretty good as part of a well balanced diet.

Here's my favourite way with liver - layed over a thick onion and mushroom gravy with a poached egg on top and some superfluous leaves:

Image Enlarger

Living in the Ice Age

October 15, 2011
1:59 pm
Perfect Health Diet

[...] Dobromylskyj and JS Stanton are also developing ideas along this line. Speaking of JS, his post this week has some great photos of Sierra wildflowers and reflections on the state of the Paleo [...]

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