February 25, 2013
Hi Mr. Stanton,
You may or may not remember but I mentioned in another thread I discovered your webpage quite a long while ago. Previous to that, I had been aware of other "paleo" bloggers since at leasy 2006-2007 (Art de Vany, Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, etc....). Just clearing that up in case it matters.
I have a question for you and I apologize in advance if the answer has been touched upon somewhere. Perhaps an answer with just a link to said discussion is enough then. If not, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
My question is mostly regarding: tubers. This seems to be a very gray area in the Paleo world. De Vany, who was probably the first paleo blogger out there, does not eat them. In fact, he says even banana's are too much and limits himself to less sugary fruits. I noticed in your "Eat Like a Predator, Not a Prey" article, that at the end of it, you link to about ten (or more) blogs of "paleo bloggers" or the like, yet you don't link to Art. This would of course make me wonder a second question (tubers aside): why not mention one of the first (if not the first) paleo blogger on the InTerWebZZ? ;) What don't you agree with him about? (I've read his book, BTW, and I know some stuff is strange, like lean meats and egg whites.... but I wonder if he had to "scale" his recommendations for publishing issues?? After all, if he eats such low-carb as he says he does, where does he gets his calories from??? we all know one can't eat pure protein.... right?).
Anyways, back to tubers: some paleo bloggers like the Free The Animal guy, a couple of years back even wrote an entry discussing this same thing: one goes low-carb, loses weight, stalls... then has to add carbs to keep progressing? What is this phenomenom? .... Robb Wolf, on the other hand, used to recommend only sweet potatoes and only in the post workout meal?? Perhaps he has changed his stance since then (?). Even Dr. Kurt Harris from archevore (formerly PaNu) ate Very Low Carb for about 2 years, only to then change and blog about up to 50% calories coming from carbs being OK, in fact he placed starchy tubers as more important than fruit/veggies in his version of the "food pyramid" !!! (also saying white rice is OK).
So what is this? What is going on? Is there an explination for this? Some dudes change and add potatos/rice. De Vany says he's been eating like this for 25 years and. Others only allow them Post Workout. Some say "you gotta earn your carbs". Some say "50% calories from carbs are OK as long as it's tubers and 'safe' starches", while others say "don't eat tubers and if you're gonna eat fruit, make it a berry or a kiwi". Just WTF is this?
Phew, I sure typed a bunch! Sorry about that. So here's the short version of the post: what's YOUR take on tubers? You mentioned in one of your articles 15-20% of total calories coming from carbs. If one eats a reasonable amount of veggies and a couple of pieces of fruit a day... I reckon 15%-20% of calories can be achieved from this alone, without tubers or rice. So you are in fact more along the lines of De Vany in regards to tubers??? But you didn't link to him so perhaps you disagree with him about stuff? I'm confused. Please enlighten me :)
February 22, 2010
That's a lot of questions, but I'll do my best!
Re: Art Devany. When I wrote ELAP his blog was private, accessible by paid subscription only. It's come and gone several times over the years...the upshot is that it wasn't a direct influence on me, since it wasn't available to me while I was formulating my own dietary philosophy.
Re: carbs and tubers, I think the original Perfect Health Diet recommendation of 15-20% carb "calories" is a good starting point for most people, because it's probably close to an average mostly-sedentary human's need for carbs. Some people require fewer carbs in order to maintain weight loss: post-menopausal women and the formerly obese seem to have this problem frequently. Some people find they seem to do fine on higher-carb diets as long as they're otherwise paleo: usually healthy, moderately active males with no history of obesity (20-30 extra pounds doesn't count). And one's capacity to store glucose goes up with one's degree of intense, glycolytic physical activity...the more activities you do that leave you out of breath and your muscles shot, the more glucose you'll want in your diet.
Re: weight loss stalls, the evidence seems clear to me that obesity is multifactorial. Metabolism is complicated, diets vary dramatically, and it's empirically clear that the same weight loss strategies don't work for everyone...so the idea that everyone accumulates fat for the same reasons seems unlikely to me. I see weight loss stalls as an indication that whatever your biggest problem was, your current approach fixed it...so now, you've exposed another problem that was previously hidden by your first, bigger problem! (Or, perhaps, was caused by your solution...for instance, vegans tend to feel great for a while due to eliminating so much processed junk food, but eventually the nutritional deficiencies catch up with them and they start feeling even worse.)
With the case of LC/VLC, it works very well for most people...people generally find it easy to strip a bunch of weight. Does it get them all the way to a six-pack, or their goal weight? Often, no...but I have to ask another question here, which is "Would you have hit a similar weight loss stall, complete with low energy, after losing 50-100 pounds on any diet?" Given what we know about things like leptin, the answer seems to be "It's likely." So I'm reluctant to blame every stall on a failure of LC/VLC...and there are plenty of reports of failed experiments with "safe starches" that resulted in fat gain.
That being said, given a multifactorial explanation, it seems likely that the people who stall on VLC and overcome it by adding starches have regained their ability to oxidize fat by going VLC, and later found that something else becomes their biggest problem and VLC won't cure it. However, would they have even got to that point without fixing their biggest issue (impaired fat oxidation) with VLC? I'm not sure.
Yes, I'm rambling a bit...but these are complicated issues you've raised!
Moving on: the problem with carbohydrate consumption is that our ability to store carbohydrate is limited (muscle and liver glycogen), and the preferred alternative disposal pathways for excess carbohydrate (metabolic flexibility leading to whole-body carbohydate oxidation, increased thermogenesis, etc.) only seem to work well in healthy people. So Kurt Harris, being healthy, can eat almost all the carbohydrate he wants to...but there is plenty of empirical evidence that most obese people, who usually exist in a state of metabolic dysfunction, do much better by starting with low-carb diets. Some of them can start consuming carbs again, and even do well by it...but some can't, and find they gain weight with carbs no matter what. So I don't put much stock in that particular religious conversion, based as it is on the n=1 of a healthy person who was never obese, and who fixed any fat oxidation problems he may have had with years of VLC. (See this article: Anti-Nutritionism, L-Canavanine, And The Limitations of N=1 Self-Experimentation)
As for myself, I eat potatoes, and occasionally white rice, because I do a lot of intense physical activity, and because I'm healthy and metabolically functional. But unlike many in the community, I don't feel the need to tell the low-carbers they're necessarily Doing It Wrong, because I don't see the evidence that low-carb diets are necessarily harmful. Sure, there are unhealthy low-carb diets...but there are plenty of unhealthy high-carb diets, and some people find low-carb to be a necessary patch on a broken metabolism.
And I would be cautious about attributing 15-20% of "calories" to fruit and veggies unless you eat a lot of bananas or make smoothies...do an inventory sometime and see what you're actually eating. Furthermore, as I implied in my latest article about "calories", the energy in plants, particularly leafy greens, may or may not be available to you in the same way starch or sugar is.
February 25, 2013
You are awesome for typing such a long answer! I will have to read it again, slowly, and read that link you provided about Anti-Nutritionism (I confess I have not read that one). So in the meantime I can only thank you for your time and answer! Later on I may bother you again with another question I've meaning to ask :D
February 25, 2013
Well Mr. Stanton (what does the J. stand for anyways?), at the risk of looking like a fool I waited until I had some time to read both links, and your reply again, before replying.
My short reply is: you make too much sense. Really.
More comments from me anyways. I agree with you completely. I've been on certain forums were people gave diet advice based on THEIR experience. And one of the things I always asked these people is "have you ever been fat?", and the answer was no. Both men and women, in their 40s and even 50's, who have been physically active all their lives (sports or working out), who have been "food conscious" for decades, and have never been fat.... these people, as you suggest, can sometimes get away eating much more carbs than the formerly-obese. I suspected this years ago, but sometimes reading all the internet-advice (given as if they were written in stone somewhere) makes everyone doubt.
And believe me: every low-carber out there secretly wishes they could eat that same bunch of carbs and not get fat. So when they read of this people living so healthy and happily with a ton of carbs, they say "hey, I already lost a bunch of weight to a healthy BF%, maybe I can do like they do too!", but sadly I think we, the former-fat people, will never be like them. This is just a guess of course. Perhaps we could "cure" ourselves somehow and set everything again to base level, or whatever levels they were before we got fat in the first place... who knows.
I guess you're right on the calories from carbs too. I thought 2-3 pieces of fruit a day plus some steamed veggies like carrots and broccoli added up. But 15-20% of even a 2200-calorie diet seems hard to attain this way.
Well, I'm gonna leave it at this. I do want to ask you something else but you're probably a very busy guy. Do you mind if I ask something more, diet-related? Sorry to ask permission to ask (lol), but I'd rather do that than ask and get a response saying "sorry buddy but you exceeded your question quota", haha.
February 22, 2010
Sure, go ahead and ask…I'll answer when I can.
Everyone is tempted to generalize their personal experience to the rest of the world…particularly when that experience is the result of executive function ("conscious choice", "willpower").
"All you have to do is…"
Unfortunately, the problem might not be a failure of executive function…the problem might be that the results of that choice aren't the same for someone else as they are for you!
"But I tried that and it didn't work." "Bullshit…you're just a lazy fatass who can't stop eating Twinkies."
The confounding factor, of course, is that there are plenty of people who genuinely aren't trying. A friend of mine mentioned that he had a couple obese relatives who had undergone weight loss surgery…one had a stomach stapling and the other a gastric bypass. "How has that worked for them?" I asked. "Not real well," he replied. "They're pretty much eating all the same things they were before, and they're gaining the weight back."
However, people like that tend not to show up here, reading technical articles on paleonutrition and looking for answers — so I tend to take my readers at their word.
February 25, 2013
I understand what you are saying in that last reply as well, and I am starting to think that indeed some people do better on different diets. What bothers me is that in the animal kingdom it doesn't seem to be this way - or so I think! I really know little about the animal kingdom, lol. But are there lions eating different diets? Or even amongst the same type of primate, are some choosing to eat more insects/small animals because they "thrive" on higher protein, while others eat higher fruit/plants because they thrive on that???? If the answer to this is no, then why would humans need different diets?
As for the weight-loss surgery: ALL the people I know who have got it (less than 10 in total), have regained their weight back. NONE made an effort to eat healthier. They were just eating the same crap food, just very little at first because their stomach was so tiny. But apparently the stomach has the ability to expand over time, again. I actually know a guy who did it twice (he is rich), and then surgery to remove loose-skin (did I mention he's rich?).
In my observation, people who don't learn nutrition never succeed in the long term. Just like this surgery, even EXERCISE can cause the same weight yo-yo'ing or whatever it's called. I once knew a guy who told me was walking 2 hours in the morning, going to the gym at noon, and then riding some elliptical or stationary bike at home at night. It was a crazy amount of stuff. Him, and people who go crazy on physical activities in order to lose weight, sometimes do manage to lose a significant amount of weight, even if through pure willpower. But what happens once they stop the crazyness? Yeah, we can all guess that one correctly. While those of us who learn how to eat can take weeks off working out without getting fatter. :P
My other question is more something out of curiosity than anything else. In all this years reading stuff, I have also read a good bit on food-combining. Now don't just tell me "it's a fad" because some books might have been written with the intention of just selling copies. Some people have actually tried doing some research on the time it takes to digest meals of different combinations. And supossedly there is evidence that protein and starch require different enzymes etc. and together it is stressful to digest. Since, at the end of the day, nobody really gets "clogged" and supossedly "everything is eventually digested", I know the modern medicine stand on this is that it's nonsense. But what if digestion really is a stressful task? (it must be, if Fasting is so good, right?), and we could be doing the body a major benefit if we combine a certain way, every day? I have played around with this a couple of times throughout the years. I will say it is a bit hard to keep doing it forever. Some "low-carb" meals combine well (meat and veggies... quite paleo too). But if I eat a meal of, say, starch+veggies, I get hungry really quickly after that one.
Anyways since you're so informed about everything nutrition-related (and have a cool hair cut), I really want to hear your opinion on this. Oh, and I almost missed this: from a "Paleo" point of view... was paleo man combining meat, fruit and starch??? I am also perhaps quite ignorant about Paleo man... but whenever I try to picture him, without being able to properly store a lot of food or use refrigerators... I imagine when a hunt was performed, they ate only animal products? Or did they tell their wives "bring those yams and lets make a stew"? I dunno. I am still on the fence about this and I keep changing my mind. I am not currently combining but from personal experience (N=1, I know...) I do feel digestion and bowel movements are both a little better with it. But this is going by "feel", which I know may not count for anything really.... anyways, reply whenever you find time. Thanks in advance!! :)
I'd wager that if lions had managed to populate the entire planet, from pole to pole and everything in between, like humans have, lions would also have adapted to different diets.
February 22, 2010
I don't have an answer to the general case of food combining, but I have a few observations:
1. Our digestive systems are smart: ingesting meat causes the stomach to secrete more acid to help break it down, and bile to help digest the fat. This actually increases the digestibility of any food you eat along with meat!
2. Many of the vitamins in vegetables are fat-soluble, and therefore are only absorbed in significant quantity if we eat them along with a source of fat, e.g. fatty meat.
3. Insulin is not selective: there's no such thing as "protein insulin" or "fat insulin". Therefore, eating carbs+fat at the same time will cause the fat to be stored along with the carbs, because even though it's OK for fat to hang around in the bloodstream for a while, high blood sugar is toxic and the body needs to get it stored.
Empirically, we see that weight-class athletes, bodybuilders, and others whose success depends on cutting that last few percent of fat follow either a very low-carb diet or a very low-fat diet, with nothing in between. (Though they sometimes alternate, e.g. leangains and the variants of CKD.) So while it doesn't matter so much for the general health case, if you're trying to get "ripped", "shredded", or whatever other violent term you use, it seems best to stay out of the muddy middle.
So from what I can tell, most of the traditional rules are unsupported by science, and there are good reasons to combine meats and veggies. Starch and fat, however, might be somewhat mutually exclusive if you're going for extreme leanness. However, I'm open to a deeper exploration of the science here.
February 25, 2013
Hi J. Stanton,
I guess I wasn't too clear in my long rant! According to proponents of everything food-combining related, the worst offender is Protein+Starch. Nobody has a problem with "meat and veggies", as long as it's non-starchy veggies. Not sure where the limit for "starchy" is drawn, but lets assume the more purists would only eat spinach or celery with meat, while others may allow themselves some steamed broccoli and carrots. This last bit is a guess of course.
But the big deal is made for Protein+Starch combinations. The traditional "meat and potatoes", so to speak. As you said, digesting meat requires an acidic environment in the stomach and everyone agrees on this. But these people claim there is evidence that digesting starch (like root tubers, and I am guessing grains of all (or most) kinds) requires an opposite environment, therefore these things should not be eaten together for optimal digestion. Oh well, if you ever come across anything interesting regarding this, just let us know.
February 22, 2010
If you want to never become muscular, always avoid the combination of protein and starch! Insulin is required to stuff protein into muscles.
Remember in the 1990s, when bodybuilders went from "huge" to "bizarre-freaky-alien-huge"? Steroids have been around forever...that's when they discovered how to use injectable insulin to force mass gains.
Also, the idea that an acidic stomach somehow inhibits the digestion of starch is...how can I say this...bunk. Starch is digested in the mouth, which is close to neutral pH, and in the small intestine, where the acidic pH of the stomach has been neutralized by bile. (The pH in the ileum is 7-8.) And since the optimum pH for amylase is about 6.5-7, it doesn't matter if your stomach is pH 1.5 or pH 3...you're still not going to get significant amylase activity there.
There's a reason those raw-food anti-combining gurus tend to look skinny, sickly, and have no muscle tone...they're peddling woo, not science.
February 25, 2013
Hi J. Stanton,
Thank you for your answer. I am replying super late because I had forgotten about asking this. My experience goes hand in hand with your first part of the answer though: if I never combine protein/starch, I get small. Not scrawny like those raw-vegan guys, but I just can't really get "muscular" at all.
It is funny, but I still do believe that SOME combinations are best avoided. I just think this needs more research. For example, there are certain combinations that give me stinky gasses... which I NEVER get if I don't combine like that again, even eating those same foods, but sepparately. Other times there is no gas, but a tremendous feeling of bloating and what I guess is called "acid burn", a term I'm not familiar with but I guess I know how it feels now. Yet, again, eating those same foods but combined differently wont cause it.
And in case you are wondering, let me tell you I also highly suspect the things about protein+starch combinations. For example, if for a meal, I have a big plate of potatoes and sweet potatoes... just that, with say butter... this definitely causes the "burn" feeling. And this is starch+starch combination. Very strange. Yet if I eat a steak+potatoe I am fine, and supossedly this is the "worst" combination. I also seem to do fine with steak+rice, but rice+other starch feels "heavier" on the stomach, if you know what I mean.
I have found other sites preaching that different starches don't combine very well and in my experience this holds some truth. The Gracie family (I assume you've heard of them, the brazilian jiu-jitsu folks??) have a book "The Gracie Diet" and it's all about combinations. But their theories are different from traditional food combining theories. They do allow protein+starch at any given meal, BUT it has to be one kind of starch only, I think, and perhaps one type of protein also (I can't remember right now). This seems more flexible than the traditional approach. Also I must confess, from the periods I've experimented with it, it's really boring to go through life eating protein and starch sepparately! And also one tends to get hungry very quickly after meals like this, which at first I always thought was due to a 'quicker digestion', but now I feel it's a double-edged sword as you will crave food and may end up eating a ton more (maybe even crap).
To finish... if I haven't said so already.... your site rocks. :)
February 22, 2010
Eating meat will make the stomach more acid: this has been established since at least the 1930s. Thus, anything you eat with meat will be digested more completely. Perhaps a huge bolus of starch with no meat isn't being completely digested?
I found this food combining table, which automates the choices available on the Gracie Diet.
* Starches do not combine with each other.
* Raw or cooked egg yolk, coconut water, brewer’s yeast, coffee, and several kinds of tea are considered neutral and compatible with any food.
* Space your meals at least 4.5 hours apart. No snacks!
* Avoid: Sweets, canned foods in syrup, pepper, clover, cinnamon, pickles and vinegar.
* Never eat pork in any form.
The main diet combining rule seems to involve never eating meat and fruit together...though meat with veggies and starch is fine, and fruit with starch is fine.
My take: an interesting combination of smart ideas and woo.
June 5, 2011
My step-daughter has been successfully losing weight with 'Weight Watchers' which has very similar food combining principles as the Gracie Diet. Perhaps Dr Hay's principles are behind both? There's a matrix/formula for putting food together. It's worked for her, but she did not enjoy any of it. Then there's the problem of rebound weight gain when the programme is finished.
Better to change a lifestyle ... "Diet" is then "what you eat", not "what you eat for a period of time".
In terms of food combining, I'm sure nutritional science has moved on a lot since Dr Hay produced his thesis. From what I understand, if you eat protein and carbohydrate together, the protein is processed first, queuing the carbohydrate. If you snack, there is a distinct possibility that the carbohydrate is not properly digested, but stored as fat; don't snack and it will simply be digested second. 4-5 hours later, you can eat again.
February 25, 2013
I know, food combining sounds like "woo" specially when different authors prescribe different diets. I guess I just wish there would be established rules, scientifically-proven and everything... because I do know that some combinations just don't sit well on me. I suspect this happens to everyone. But are we all susceptible to the same combinations, or is it an individual thing? BTW I have no stomach or digestive or bowel movement problems at all... I'm healthy in this regard, but just searching for perfection :P
Anyways thanks for the input once more.
February 25, 2013
I just re-read your first reply to this thread, J. Stanton. What a pile of good information!
I must confess... I have been trying for years, without much success, to find a way of eating that allows me to lean out while eating starch. I have failed pretty much all the time. Unless I keep it to a minimun and I am training (hard) at least 3-4 times per week, then I can lean out. But it is still a relatively low-carb diet (veggies, little fruit, and a "little" starch). If I eat all the "safe starches" I want... like some rice or tubers at both lunch and dinner.. even with no snack and a starch-free breakfast (but with fruit)... I have trouble leaning out. I guess my metabolism is still not the same as one of a naturally skinny guy, is probably still somewhat broken.
I think I need to go on a relatively VLC diet again for a while... I hate to admit it, but I do perfectly on those. I never get the mood swings or headaches or anything... digestion and bowel movements improve from good to perfect (haha, dont ask), I lean out... it's all good, except the fact that I do wish I could eat some more carbs, haha. Oh well... life's not fair as my nick says :D
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