• Your life and health are your own responsibility.
• Your decisions to act (or not act) based on information or advice anyone provides you—including me—are your own responsibility.


Wildflower Riot! And The State Of The Paleo Community

While city dwellers were rioting in the UK, the wildflowers were rioting in the Sierras. Though it arrived in late August, over a month late, we had a truly astounding wildflower season this summer.

Wildflower Riot!


In the High Sierra, there's not much summer in which to bloom...and what with the late snows, everything went off all at once.


Lupines! Most alpine flowers have no scent, but lupines smell wonderful.

Mule's ears

Mule's ears. You'll find entire hillsides covered with these.

Yes, mountain bikers stop to smell, photograph, and otherwise appreciate the flowers. Riding allows people with families to support, and who don’t have time for multi-day backpacking trips, to see backcountry they could never see otherwise…and there are a lot of people with bad knees who simply can’t hike long distances anymore, especially with a heavy pack. Someday you’ll probably be one of them.

Please consider that the next time you’re advocating for wilderness designation, which singles out bicycles for removal while permitting boats, ski touring gear, climbing gear, and commercial horsepacking operations…and often grandfathers in everything from airstrips to snowmobiles to jet skis to operating mines. (Here’s a startling list of wilderness ‘exceptions’.)


Daisies...or something that looks like a daisy. (I'm not a botanist.) Yes, they're a bit purplish.

On the ridge

Riding on the alpine tundra and into the void.

I don't even know what these are

Apparently the aliens have a foothold up here.

Ridiculous alpine wildflowers

If I were a bee, this would be heaven. It was impossible to be more than eight inches from a flower.

(Some photos were taken by my friend Jeff.)

A Few Observations About The State Of The Paleo Community

  • The first problem with already knowing everything is that we can’t learn anything.
  • The second problem is that if new information finally sneaks around or smashes through our protective shield of omniscience, it’s difficult to explain why today’s definitive, prescriptive advice differs so radically from last year’s—and, more importantly, why this year’s won’t differ radically from next year’s.
  • Phrases such as “I don’t know” and “That’s interesting, tell me more,” do not diminish my stature or reputation.
  • If you wonder whether this applies to you, it probably doesn’t…and those of us who need to hear it the most won’t think it could ever possibly apply.
  • Not knowing everything doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and say “Whatever makes you feel good, man.” We know quite a bit about nutrient (and anti-nutrient) content of foods, and about how they’re metabolized. Just because some people can tolerate suboptimal nutrition doesn’t mean anyone should.
  • In my opinion, the best argument for keeping starch consumption to the lowest level that allows you to maintain your health and level of physical activity is that concentrated starch and sugar sources are nutrient-poor (or, in the case of most grains, actively disruptive) compared to animal foods. If you want me to eat lots more starch calories, “well, it won’t kill you, IF your glucose regulation is good” isn’t a sufficient argument to displace nutrient-rich animal foods like egg yolks from my diet.
  • This is doubly important for people trying to lose weight: we might be ingesting fewer calories, but that doesn’t mean we need any less choline, B vitamins, magnesium, or anything else.
  • That being said, I eat a substantial quantity of starch—because I’m regularly out there burning glycogen on a bicycle, on skis, or on foot. Up to perhaps 20% of calories is fine for the metabolically functional…beyond that, we’ve got to EARN those potatoes.
  • 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. People didn’t suddenly become lazy and gluttonous starting in 1978, and food didn’t suddenly become tasty in 1978 either. (Graph here.) And while I’m fond of pointing out that the US government first tried to change our diet in 1977, I don’t believe that we became obese purely at our government’s command.
  • A final concept for our evaluation and discussion: a “set point” is just a homeostasis we don’t understand yet. Thoughts?

Most importantly, I believe the paleo community is stronger for these controversies. Natural selection means that some animals survive and some die—and so it is online, in the world of ideas. The survivors will be those who are willing to do the careful, patient, unglamorous work of reading the scientific literature, summarizing and communicating it in an understandable way, and producing both testable hypotheses and practical advice from it. And while there is much solid work being done, I must give special mention to Paul Jaminet at Perfect Health Diet for his recent work tying together thyroid, diet, and LDL (make sure to follow the links within), and to Peter Dobromylskyj at Hyperlipid (and his commenters, particularly Stan the Heretic) for his recent work on mitochondrial dysfunction. This sort of collaborative investigation is what the Internet is for…

…and it can only be performed by those of us who don’t already know all the answers.

Live in freedom, live in beauty.



Permalink: Wildflower Riot! And The State Of The Paleo Community
  • Nancy

    Low Carb and Thyroid + LDL Issues

    I have been following Eat Like a Predator, Harris’ 12 steps, and PHD for about a year with great success. I am a 64 yr. old woman who has fought weight issues all my adult life. I have easily lost 40 lbs. and no longer have cravings. All markers are good except for my latest bloodwork. TSH was over 8 and LDL which had always been low was 164. HDL is still good in the low 70s and triglycerides are up, but still low at 60. So…I had a complete thyroid panel done this week and am waiting on results. I really don’t want to up starch because I am afraid I will gain lbs. I have an occasional 1/2 cup rice or sweet potato. I also started taking RDA of iodine by way of kelp about 5 months ago because I have had no processed foods or iodized salt. Maybe this was a mistake if Hashimoto’s is the diagnosis.

    Anyway, I just wanted to report in as one of those who has found success, but now has concerns about thyroid and LDL. I have devoured every word in your Hunger Series and am eagerly awaiting the sequels.

  • Those are beautiful photos.  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.  And also as it is at altitude (I'm assuming),  you'd expect these plants to be growing in what would be considered poor soil, and in a 'climate' where temperatures can be bitterly cold or brutally hot, often dry or sodden to the extreme.

    I understand that at one point 60m bison were supported on the plains of America.  Makes you wonder what would happen if we kicked the crutches from farmland and allowed nature to take over, providing vegetation for farm animals. 

  • Sean

    Great bullet points. Heh, a wall of citations.

    “we’ve got to EARN those potatoes.”

    I thought Kurt Harris’ podcast with Robb Wolfe put this in good perspective. Kurt had to add rice krispies to his diet when doing serious labor as he was actually shrinking away from a calorie deficit. But it took a serious increase in daily calorie use for this to become necessary. There’s a lot of nuance and variance as to the proper amount of starch depending on lifestyle and metabolic condition and a lot of different opinions on it all but the controversy is a sign of healthy dialog and skepticism.

  • John

    I was just thinking about this the other day. In order to lose fat, you have to be able to access your own fat to burn it. If excess carbs, fructose, gluten, pythoestrogens or other things are preventing you from using your own fat for energy, no amount of calorie restriction will help you. But if you’ve fixed all these things (by, say, eating paleo) and can use your fat for energy, then caloric deficits from intermittent fasting and exercise may be exactly what you need to lose weight. But what scientific studies have tested caloric restriction and intermittent fasting under these conditions?

    Also, historically, low carb diets were pretty much automatically paleo diets. We didn’t really have artificial sweeteners or grain oils until about the 50’s, and these weren’t really common until the 90’s. About the same time, cows started being fed grains. If you just avoided flour and sugar, you were probably good. Now, you could be low carb, eating a ton of soy protein and canola oil filled with trans fat, and face a whole new set of problems.

  • JS – I'm sure you'll appreciate this link, combining as it does Africa, antelope and a mountainbike:


  • Tyler

    I’ve been reading through Seth Robert’s The Shangrai-la Diet and have really enjoyed learning about his take on the set-point.

    I am wondering why little has been discussed recently on Seth’s advice to take flavorless calories in routinely in order to help lower one’s set-point and suppress appetite for those who are looking to lose weight.

    Thoughts on this? Seems relevant with regards to Guyenet’s posts.

  • Diane

    I think it’s more important to discuss what actually works to heal people’s broken metabolic functions rather than get attached to a man-the-hunter re-enactment fantasy or to dogmatically demonize certain foods. It is odd how people have a tendency to assimilate their dietary choices into a personal identity. Identity politics can be very damaging to both the people who practice it and to getting a positive message accepted by others outside that identity group.

  • Sam Knox

    I can’t help but wonder if the current controversy isn’t just as much strategic as scientific.

    It seems there are those in the Paleo community who want to distance themselves from “low-carb” diets purely for marketing reasons. Low-carb is old news, after all, and they want Paleo diets to be seen as something new, not a variation on an old theme.

    The thing is that even a “high-carb” Paleo diet is low-carb by SAD standards, and it may never be possible to determine if it’s the quantity of carbohydrate or the quality that makes the difference.

  • eddie watts

    as sam knox says, there is a distancing going on between the paleo/primal eaters who seem unwilling to be “tarred” with the same brush as the low carb eaters.

    i think Andreas Eenfeldt made a good point at the end of his speech about how both sides have a good deal to learn from each other.

    as for the metabolic set point: i can well believe that it exists and bypassing it is hard. i can effortlessly maintain weight just by eating low-ish carb with no processed foods, but actual fat loss requires some work both in dietary strictness and exercise.
    whether this is because i am largely sedentary (i have to drive to and from work which is office based) is of debate. i think this is likely to be the case as i used to walk to work and back when i worked elsewhere, this equated to 20 miles walking a week.
    although i am stronger now than i was then, reduced low intensity exercise also helped me get stronger.

    good update, thanks!

  • Juan

    Nice short post, JS, and thanks for the pictures, too. Good comments so far from everyone, so thanks to all of you. Please forgive the length of this comment. (Long time listener, first time caller …well, not quite.)

    My 2cents worth on the controversies (I’ve read everything, pretty much, on the Interwebs as well 30-odd books, and counting, on this subject during the past 3 years of paleo):

    In the most useful, catchall sort of way, the so-called carbohydrate hypothesis seems to pretty much trump everything else, at least in societies where people have grown up eating grain-based diets, which is to say, in most of the world. Certainly, this is true in the fattening part of the world which is, again, a great portion of it (the non-starving parts are mostly all fattening, to be sure). The reason it is trump is that there is such a broadly acknowledged suite of health benefits to simply eliminating sugar and flour (simple to write, at any rate) that there’s no real point, practically speaking, to go beyond that. It is more than weight loss and often addresses alleviating many of the metabolic insults that, in all likelihood, were caused by an overconsumption of carbs in the first place. Paleo usually ends up low carb-ish by default, because the floury and sugary foods are gone. It will also cast aside most of the rest of the non-foods and opt for things that fly, swim, or run, or that are green. There are lots of fuzzy edges around all of this, of course (ie: dairy, nuts, seeds, starchy tubers) but by-and-large, non-politicised paleo is the most obviously healthful way to eat. If an eating system requires supplementation, willpower, caloric restriction, or dependence on Man-made foods, things found only in the deepest oceans or remotest New World rain forests, or any other such corruption for an extended period, then it can’t possibly be optimal, by definition.

    Palatability? Nyeh! Whatever. Every food I can think of that can be considered as a reason people are fat or fattening has carbohydrate AND fat together, with the preponderance being carbs, I’d say. (Breads, sweets, etc. are mostly carbs.) 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. Except, of course, government agencies and other (medical) bodies who consider hamburgers and pizza as being “meat”. (These are mostly carbohydrate, especially the pizza). Anyone can eat a pint of Haagen Dasz Ice Cream, no? I’ve done it. Said pint is about 50% sugar and 50% fat, by weight, but I doubt anyone would be remotely compelled to eat half a pint of sugar (or, say, honey) or half a pint of butter, in one sitting. But, put ’em together and you’ve got a party! Again, carb hypothesis, basically, trumps.

    So, to me, the food reward view approach is kind of like building a door to nowhere. That is, why bother? As an intellectual exercise? Perhaps. But, for practical use it is as likely to work as “The Biggest Loser” techniques.

    So many critics and commenters on websites who routinely pillory Gary Taubes or some paleo writer advocating carbohydrate restriction are, oddly, often on a low carb diet themselves. But, of course — ahem, er — for all the right reasons, not those wrong ones such as — fill in the name here — is suggesting!

    thanks for staying with me (those who have)
    Keep up the great work, JS, and I know many of your readers have awesome blogs, too.

  • Wayne Johnson

    This will be the first (and probably last) fan mail I’ve ever sent to anybody. I am very impressed with your “Why Are We Hungry” series and am anxiously awaiting the next (last?) installment. Whenever I read the blogger squabbles about theories of obesity, I am struck by the number of times that hunger is not even mentioned.

    Anyway, you have become my most highly-regarded blogger, and I’m certain your number of readers is destined to increase significantly (p<.0001).

  • Juan

    What Wayne Johnson said. ditto

  • daniel

    asking questions is just as important as answering questions. i try to question everything. i also get on everyone’s nerves because of this. “why can’t you just leave stuff alone?” or, “why do you think about this or that so much?” silliness. i think and i probe and i question BECAUSE I DONT KNOW. or at least i think i might know something but i want to find out for sure. so i check and recheck. if solid evidence to the contrary should raise its head, i’ll change my ideas. i dont mind being mutable, and i can’t stand the thought of being ignorant.

  • Greg

    @Juan: well put.

    @Wayne: Indeed. Let us not forget that falling blood sugar is a major driver of hunger – and that has little, if anything, to do with reward & palatability…

    JS: I love your penultimate point, that foods did not suddenly become hyper-palatable in 1977/8. I think both the LC and Paleo communities lose out when myopically focusing on obesity. What about the consequences of elevated blood sugar? (AGEs, glucotoxicity, glycolated LDL, etc.) My girlfriend did a ketogenic diet with me and all of her measurable health markers improved, but she didn’t need to lose weight and lost maybe 5 or so pounds – so these improvements can’t be attributed to losing weight. I attribute them to the absence of carbohydrate. Or in the palatability/food reward world, does delicious food cause health problems as well? 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. Belaboring my point, optimal diets are larger than preventing or curing obesity. And perhaps the ancestral health community needs to be clear about differences between those two categories – prevention and cure.

  • That penultimate point is interesting.

    I've had a really good time this evening with my step-son talking through all sorts of things, not least … diet. 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.

    I think the '50s brought in grains and cereals and the '60's processed foods and even fast food restaurants, which were largely something “we” only saw in American movies until that point.

    Yes, the governments are dictating our diets.

    Now, we find it difficult, cumbersome and even financially impossible to eat real food, take real meat, real veg and make a meal. It is very frightening that a family can be “fed” for £10 at KFC, yet that amount of “food” would need more like £30 to make a real meal. In these economic times, that equation is a simple one. Alas, it is not the right one.

    In a previous post, I said something along the lines of “those of us who can afford” can do this now and hopefully line a path for those who cannot yet … so long as they can bring something to the table. There will be casualties.

    Back to the top of the post – yes, our peasants are revolting! These are very poor times and with a frightening number of people being pushed under the poverty line we think we must do something about it … but, I started out my adult life in very similar times in the late '80s and dragged myself up out of it. Those people seemed to think that they were owed something, that they could have something for nothing. No! Every man is only worth what he can bring. Rioting is a very valid and purposeful reaction to oppressive regimes; theft and looting is not that.

  • JKC

    “If you wonder whether this applies to you, it probably doesn’t…and those of us who need to hear it the most won’t think it could ever possibly apply.”

    HAHAHAHAHA – best blog comment I’ve read this week

  • Keoni Galt

    This was the perfect answer to all sides of the debate.

    IMO, some participants are looking for a trade-mark stamped, scientific-community credentialed, confirmation they can make a name with by neatly explaining the obesity epidemic of the last 20 years. It is a quest for achieving a higher status of prestige in a selective, intellectually-elite community.

    These folks that have this motivation, are missing the forest for the trees.

    You, JS, have got them all beat when it comes to the big picture:

    “Eat like a predator, not like prey.”

    This has become my personal mantra, and all the mental reinforcement I need when confronted with the temptations of an artificially manufactured FEED product offered to me.

    Would a predator eat a concoction of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring and bromated and enriched grain flour? Or a tuber or grain dehydrated, reconstituted, immersed in heat-damaged and oxidized linoleic acid “vegetable” oil and than liberally coated with iodized – sodium chloride?

    And would such fare offer enough sustenance and vigor to my body to enable the necessary energy expenditure in the successful pursuit and harvest of the next kill?

    I laugh at my younger self…when my boar hunting was defined solely as nothing more than a recreational pursuit to engage in with my friends. I did not understand what I was really experiencing by participating in the most primal act of being alive. The experience of fulfilling the naturally ordained role of the human as an omnivorous predator.

    I used to pack my bag full of chips, nuts, candy, crackers, granola, energy bars, and gatorade, and have to continually snack while hunting Hawaii’s mountainous rain forests to keep my energy levels up to deal with the rigors of hunting boar with a pack of dogs in rugged terrain.

    Now I hunt with only water in my pack. Like other predator species, I hunt hungry. To think an idea so simple — that a primal diet is optimal to engage in the most primal of pursuits — eluded me all those years as a young hunter. My former ignorance speaks to the level of propaganda and misinformation in our culture and its influence regarding our self-awareness of being a predator species.

    I was acting like a hunter, but still eating like prey.

    We live in a world socially engineered to indoctrinate the masses to make them ignorant of our species’ ecological niche as an omnivorous predator in the cycle of life.

    Instead, we are inculcated into a mindset of being cattle in the great domesticated herds of “civilization.”

    While hunting taught me the skills and knowledge to kill, clean and butcher prey, I did not embrace the logical conclusion of the hunt. I was squeamish about eating game when I had been raised on a lifetime of factory-farmed, manufactured feed products. I would only cut the most desired cut of meat from the pigs we caught (the tenderloin) and feed the rest to the dogs (they still get there share as their reward for catching it…but I take way more portions for my own family’s use now), and throw the offal and bones away. I used to use heavily flavored and sweetened sauces to try and mask the game flavor of the meat.

    I was a squeamish hunter that did not truly relish the fruits of labor from the hunt.

    Now, I harvest the liver and heart. I boil the bones to make stock. My only seasoning on the cuts of meat I harvest, is salt and pepper.

    I relish the life sustaining harvest of the land.

    As an omnivorous species, we all have a choice to make: eat like a predator, or eat like prey.

    And really JS, the phrase you came up with – that has become own mantra to guide my dietary choices – fits in perfectly with another timeless maxim:

    You are what you eat.

    Mahalo nui for your mana’o.

    Imua kakou.


  • Timothy

    JS, you live in paradise. But you deserve it because you never take it for granted, and you share it with the rest of us.

    Those striped seed pods look like Nepenthes. I did a double-take. If I was up there with the snow melt I’d be tempted to find a place to introduce some Darlingtonia Californica. Never could get it to grow in cultivation.

    I believe you’re right to prioritize nutrient density above other considerations. I’ve just recently started eating grass-fed beef liver, and in terms of nutrition per calorie, it seems like the perfect food. The resulting energy and body comp improvements have been amazing. But what I can’t wrap my head around is: if beef liver is incomparably nutritious, why does it taste so vile?

  • Daniel

    @keoni: nicely put. I’ve mentioned this before as well that the paleo community is missing the forest for the trees. Besides Peter and Paul, JS is the only other one to really get it in the big picture. That’s why gnolls.org is my favorite blog-there isn’t any BS or obvious attempts to sell me vitamins. JS doesnt push propaganda, just the truth.
    BTW, your blog rocks too.

  • Richard Nikoley


  • Nancy:

    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 sethroberts.net), 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 means…you'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!

  • 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.


  • Wayne:

    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 gnolls.org 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 itself…it 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 sale…how 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 soon…you've all been contributing such thoughtful comments that I feel the need to respond with care.

  • 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: http://hopeforhashimotos.com/videos-bio-haskell-hashimotos/

  • Robbo

    @ 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.

  • Rafael

    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….

  • Beowulf

    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.

  • Tyler


    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.

  • 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)

  • @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.

  • daniel

    “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.

  • Nancy

    @ 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.

  • 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.

  • Keoni:

    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.

  • 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.

  • Diane

    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.

  • misha

    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.

  • 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: http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk/2011/06/calf-liver-mushroom-gravy-with-poached.html

    Image Enlarger

  • 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 […]

  • Robbo:

    Exactly.  It's just like the people who claim the success of (for instance) the Esselstyn diet is because it eliminates meat…when it also eliminates “vegetable oil”, sugar, white flour, and many other unhealthy foods.


    The question, of course, is “Why does my current set point involve more bodyfat than I'd like?”

    The fact that you've moved it downward with your current dietary modifications means that “set points” aren't magic: as I said, they're just a homeostasis we don't fully understand.  But without knowing much more about your current diet, exercise, state of health, etc., I can't possibly offer any suggestions.


    Exactly.  There's a reason I say in “Eat Like A Predator” that “If it's a fake version of something else, it's not food.

    “Net effective carbs” is a bogus concept, and so is “nut flour”.  Nuts are generally high in linoleic acid, low in complete protein, and contain many lectins similar to grains…I suspect that many of the people who claim they can't lose weight on “low-carb” or paleo are eating lots of nuts.  Again, there's a reason I treat them as a condiment, not an ingredient.


    It'll be interesting to see if you actually lose any weight, i.e. if you're consuming so many less calories with meals that it makes up for all the calories in the ELOO.

    I'll definitely find and read a copy on your recommendation.


    I don't agree with the monolithic dairy ban, either.  “Dairy” is not one product.  Remember that butter (100% fat with impurities) is not the same as cheese (mostly casein, some fat) or whole milk (mix of whey protein, casein, butterfat, and lactose).

    I find it very difficult to make an argument for fat in meat but against butter.  Lactose depends on your ability to digest it…casein is where things get tricky, and that's probably a whole post in itself.

    If a “set point” can be moved by diet, that proves it's a homeostasis between diet and some other factors.


    “Eat like your grandmother” doesn't have the same ring to it.


    The US has dramatically changed its welfare structure…but in the UK it seems like one can basically sit on the dole their entire life, with housing, food, and a small income all provided by directly by the government.  (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.)


    I'm not used to being held up as a good example…that's wonderful!  I hope his students were inspired to write some great essays.

    As far as thyroid: in that case, reverse T3 (rT3) might be your problem…was that measured in the labs you had?



    More soon, I promise…I'm having a busy weekend (with houseguests.)

  • Daniel

    Yeah I’m not trying to play the Neo-con game here; we alot more conservative with our welfare than ANY country in the EU. But I hear Thomas Jefferson’s and John Adams’ words in my head- they warned us what would happen to our country if we let conglomerates, banks, and PACs have more power than we do. Money talks and walks, and the founders are rolling in their graves. I think our last true refuge besides our own minds is the Web. At least here we can talk, share ideas, disagree, and build things, all without interference(much). I’m thankful for it, for I’ve met some awesome people and learned so many things.
    –tangential much??? ;). I can talk about anything….

  • eddie watts

    it is possible for someone to sit on the dole their entire life in the uk yes.

    you only live once though, not a great way to live.

    as to the “entire post needed about casein” is that in the pipes then? i’d like to know more about it, i think i am fine with it but in all honesty might not notice unless issues are obvious

  • eddie watts

    it is possible for someone to sit on the dole their entire life in the uk yes.

    you only live once though, not a great way to live.

    as to the “entire post needed about casein” is that in the pipes then? i’d like to know more about it, i think i am fine with it but in all honesty might not notice unless issues are obvious

  • It is perhaps a cop-out to say that we are products of our environment, but when an entire generation is put out of work by direct government policy – that's miners (particularly), ship builders, train builders and steel workers – and no help with re-training or re-employment it is no wonder that their kids grow up in an entirely new type of world: one of benefits and handouts.

    They've seen their parents do whatever it is they do to get more cash than the dole and seen a few (maybe one percent) drag themselves out of it. They are a new generation bred on benefits.

    No incentive and no hope.

    That is the reality of today's unemployed youth in modern Britain. Yes, they can live … on benefits. I agree. It is no life – it is existence.

    Sadly, entrepreneuralism is not an answer. I mean, how much crap can we buy when there is no money to buy it with? These people need jobs. They're not you and me – they just want to live, somehow. They're not interested in a big picture or a better life; they just want to live.

    We've gone so far down the rabbit hole now that I wonder if we'll come out the same. Many of us here will celebrate the fall of capitalism and relish the life without rules, without bounds beyond. Russia came through it and so did the former Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. African is always going through it.

    Those of us here in the first world reading this on the internet in our safe houses should pause a minute and wonder … what if it all goes?

    It could … in an instant … any time.

  • Bob Kaplan

    I think we should do-away with the term “set-point” from the perspective of obesity and fat regulation.

    I don’t think that people who were once obese and now are slim have “reset their set-point,” rather there is a settling point.

    Your weight settles at a fat mass which is not predetermined by an adipostat. It’s more likely that there is a competition of forces inside the body that ultimately demonstrates homeostasis. In a healthy individual, the forces at play ultimately result in a ‘normal’ weight and body composition.

    Perhaps someone becomes hyperinsulinemic and insulin resistant and as a result accumulates fat to the extent that they are considered morbidly obese. They might also have damage to their mitochondria and they might improve their ATP production through the mechanism of obesity, as Peter at Hyperlipid postulated.

    If we’re hyperglycemic, we don’t talk about resetting the ‘glucostat,’ rather we need to get to the underlying abnormality or abnormalities that is/are causing the high blood glucose and it’s not that someone left the thermostat on too high.

    The lake metaphor is apt where we might look at the water level of a lake over a period of several decades and notice that it fluctuates here and there, but overall there appears to be a set-point of the lake. Something must be regulating the water level of the lake for it to remain so constant over time, right? Wrong, and the fact that we don’t understand how the lake seems to keep a relatively consistent level of water does not rule out the idea that set point is wrong in the explanation of why we get fat.

  • Daniel

    @Paul Halliday- nicely put. Reminds me of Tyler Durden’s speech near the end of Fight Club. In fact, alot of what has been said lately reminds me of that. In all honesty I have a similar dream.

  • Jim Purdy:

    Reality wins all arguments.  But there's not enough time to trial and error every option: the role of science and knowledge is so we can spend as little time as possible trying things that don't work. 

    Welcome to gnolls.org: do stick around!


    Yes, that's definitely locoweed!  I didn't know it grew in such harsh environments…that ridge is, quite literally, alpine tundra.

    Re: weight, some people start losing it right away and some take a while.  I've seen cases where someone's weight didn't budge for 2-3 months, and my ownbody composition was still slowly changing six months later.  Your metabolism got screwed up over a period of many years!  Don't expect it to fix itself in a week or two.

    Besides, you're in a much better spot already re: hunger, right?  You're not losing weight yet, but you're not hungry all the time either.

    I can't offer much advice without knowing much more about your diet…but common pitfalls include eating too many nuts (esp. nut flours and nut butters) and consuming liquid calories of any kind.  The only thing you should be drinking is water — with occasional tea, coffee, or mate.  Remember, the point should be nutrient density, not fat for fat's sake…fat just comes along for the ride with foods like whole eggs and untrimmed red meats.


    Good call.  Overcooked liver is…ecch.  Anything rich and creamy (reductions are good too) will help a lot.  Beef liver is a reason to have a cast iron pan: I'm not sure you can get a non-stick pan hot enough.


    That's beautiful!


    Absolutely.  Fractional reserve banking is a scam, for which any individual would go to jail for fraud.


    Yes, it's a crap way to live: that's exactly why I say “creating a permanent dependent underclass is a bad idea”.  Social dysfunction is basically guaranteed.  As Paul says below, “no incentive, no hope.”


    Exactly.  No incentive, no hope.

    Russia didn't “come through it”…it's been destroyed by it.  Their population is falling because the entire country is so hopelessly corrupt that people don't even bother to have kids.

    “What if it all goes?”  Page 1 of The Gnoll Credo tells you everything you need to know.

    Bob Kaplan:

    Exactly.  People talk about “set point” like it's a thermostat, but that's silly.  Your body makeup is a consequence of your genetics, diet, activity, etc.  If you “go on a diet” and all you do is force yourself to eat less, you haven't changed any of the factors that caused you to be fat — so obviously your weight will return when your restraint fails, as it almost always does. 

    The fact that people change their “set point” by eating low-carb, eliminating wheat, etc. clearly demonstrates the fact that set point isn't magical.  It's a homeostatic equilibrium.


    Be careful what you ask for!  I'm hoping for for a smoother transition, myself…you've read The Gnoll Credo, so I won't rehash it here.


  • I should perhaps clarify – what I wanted to convey about Russia, the former Soviet Unions nations and African States is that when the structure of society ceases or is removed dramatically, like the withdrawl of central structure support, the toppling of a leader or a sudden switchover in politics, that the “reboot” seems to happen quite quickly. People addapt. There is a period of unsettlement and beyond that new structures emerge. That's what I mean by “coming through” it. The period of lawlessness in the middle is one where TGC become very important.

    It is important for forge social relationships with neighbours, friends, local groups and so on anyway, but important for if a group reaction is needed against a sudden threat – this could be anything from the Council closing down a local childrens' play area right through to the total collapse of society. In tribal terms, this is instinctual but we are far from living instinctually today.

    There are a number of writers who understand that paleo goes way beyond food, feeding, rearing and consuming, it goes into personal responsibility and into soceital responsibility. J is one of these writers, Richard Nikoley another. 

  • Diane

    Regarding wildflowers, being annuals, the plants are dead during the harsh season with the seeds lying in wait. So whether that dormant season is a harsh winter like your area or a harsh summer like mine, doesn’t matter too much to the plant. I’d say that it’s the quality of the soil that annuals seem to like best: poor soil with full sun. You get that in the alpine areas and I get that on exposed rocky hillsides. This would explain (to me anyway) why many of the same flowers grow in both desert and alpine climates.

    I’m staying the course for that day when I finally lose weight. I don’t drink any calories, except one cup of coffee with cream and I’m not doing anything like trying to simulate baked goods with almond flour or anything like that. My hunger seems to have come back a little.

    I read article IV in your hungry series (I think that was the one) and that seems to fit me to a T. I think I’m hopelessly broken. I’m not even obese, nor have I ever been. I have simply always been overweight. The best I’ve ever come is right at the upper edge of any body mass or weight charts and I’ve never quite slipped over into the obese category.

    If you find a cure for the broken metabolism in all your research, I’m going to be very happy to read it.

  • Greg


    I’m not telling you that this is the solution, but personally I did alternate day fasting for 2 days per week for several weeks. At first I would be ravenously hungry on the refeeds, but gradually my hunger reduced. I lost about 7 more pounds after landing on my keto-plateau (keteau?) and the weight has stayed off. But mostly I find it interesting how a handful of nuts or an egg can satiate me now. It wasn’t always that easy, and I think the ADF permanently changed something. It’s easy and low-risk, so think about it at least.

  • Paul:

    The Gnoll Credo is even more important afterward.  If we replace the current structures of “civilization” with similar structures, we'll end up in similar situations with similar problems.

    History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme…and we've heard enough verses of the same song to know how each one ends.  War, famine, totalitarianism, collapse; verse, chorus, verse, chorus.


    You're right: under natural conditions, annuals only flourish continually under conditions hostile to perennials — poor soil, underlying impenetrable hardpan (e.g. the Serengeti), or extensive herds of grazers and browsers.  Otherwise the natural succession takes hold and we get bushes, trees, etc.

    Here are a couple hacks you might try.  It's best to change one thing at a time so you know what's doing what.  Let me know if any of them help.

    -More fat calories from coconut oil, instead of butter/cream/dairy.

    -Creatine supplementation — especially if you're eating no (or not much) red meat.

    -Fasting, as per Greg.  You might try IF first: eat breakfast and dinner, but no lunch (12-hour fast).  Then, once that becomes easy, try a full 24 hours: breakfast, but no lunch or dinner.  If you have the scheduling flexibility, it's best to wait until you're actually hungry to eat breakfast.

    Personally I'd try them in the above order…but do what you like. 

    Also keep in mind that, especially if you're active, the PHD recommendation of ~15-20% of calories from carbs may help.


    ADF is powerful, but I'm loath to recommend a full 24 hours for someone who's still struggling with adaptation.  I agree, though, that there is benefit to pushing yourself a little bit.  Sometimes we think we can't do something when it's purely a mental block.

    Anecdotally, women seem to prefer eating a protein-heavy breakfast (often a late breakfast) and skipping lunch to simply skipping breakfast.  I'm experimenting with that myself.


  • eddie watts

    can you enlighten me/other readers on the creatine supplementation?

    typically it is recommended for strength/size gains so i am wondering how it aids fat loss?

  • JL

    JS – Your analysis of Russia’s demographics is an over simplification and also somewhat outdated. Falling population is the result of a high death rate as well as a low birth rate (itself not only the result of corruption) and emigration. The country has actually experienced a mini baby boom over the past ten years with relative stability and economic growth. The real grimness lies in the death rate due to a number of factors including smoking and drinking, cultural norms, etc.

    Paul’s point is an excellent one. Having witnessed first hand how social and political structures completely break down and then are slowly replaced, I see many parallels with what is happening today in the Western world. Many of my friends and relatives in the US simply cannot comprehend that the system they’ve known their whole lives can cease to function. Unfortunately, the older one is, the more difficult it is to accept and adapt. The older generations are the ones who really took it on the chin here in Russia.

    In retrospect, as I think Paul is alluding to, it’s amazing that the transition in Russia was as smooth as it was. Considering the country’s history, the potential for violence was certainly there. I can only hope that other societies that experience similar transitions do so even more smoothly. And with the world’s over population problem I’m not sure the result of a shrinking population is such a bad thing.

  • eddie:

    It's an idea based on the fact that the carnitine shuttle is impaired in mitochondrial dysfunction.  And I seem to recall that Diane was just starting and wasn't eating a lot of red meat.  I don't know if it will help, but it seems like a rational thing to try.


    You're right, it was an oversimplification.  And you're absolutely correct that the older generations are the ones most affected: people simply remain in denial that the patterns by which they've lived their entire lives don't work anymore.

    Furthermore, no, a shrinking population isn't a bad thing at all.  It's only bad if you're a bank — because fractional reserve banking depends on infinite exponential growth in order to not collapse.  That's why “economists”, politicians, and other tools of the banking industry continually beat the growth drum: it's necessary to maintain the fraud they're perpetrating on all of us.

    The price, of course, is continual economic collapse as the costs of failure are shifted to the people via the government, and ecological collapse as the growth drive strips unrenewable resources.


  • Page not found &laqu

    […] Wildflower Riot! And The State Of The Paleo Community […]

  • Paul:

    That's a great article.  Cracks are spreading across the face of the dam…


  • alan2102

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


    And, it may be that creating a permanent dependent overclass is as bad, or even worse. The banks (multi-$trillion bailouts, free money with no strings attached), the military-industrial complex (a gigantic permanent aid-to-dependent-corporations program), and various other big welfare programs for the already-wealthy are indeed a guarantee of long-term societal dysfunction.


    related: FREE book:
    The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer

  • alan2102

    JS: “If carb-obesity isn’t true, we still have to explain why obesity is such a strong risk factor for these diseases.”

    Not nearly as strong as you might think. See the paper I just sited on an adjacent thread (science-behind-low-carb…), by Linda Bacon:
    Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift
    Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

  • alan2102:

    Absolutely.  Corporate welfare is a much greater problem than individual welfare, though the societal consequences are harder to pinpoint since corporations on welfare don't generally engage in violent crime on an individual level.  (Collective extortion is more their racket.)


    I've seen the paper you linked: while they point out that lifespan is still increasing in America, functional lifespan is actually decreasing — which strongly suggests that improved medical care is compensating for a sicker population, and America is not growing more healthy as it grows more obese.

    Furthermore, Ned Kock has ably dissected the “why do overweight people live longer?” paradox in this article, and its sequel.  It turns out that having greater fat-free mass is very strongly associated with lower mortality as we age — an effect that even shines through the prevalence of obesity among old people who are “overweight” according to BMI.

    That being said, I agree that health is a better goal to pursue that an arbitrary bodyfat percentage!  However, I believe the evidence shows that a healthy weight is a salutary side effect of healthy diet.  Eating like a predator won't necessarily get you a six-pack by itself, but you shouldn't remain obese barring serious hormonal/metabolic dysfunction.  The failure of dietary therapy is an indictment of mainstream dietary advice, not an indictment of the idea that a heavy fat mass is often indicative of health issues.


  • E Craig



    We have seen in studies (and I’m actually way too lazy this morning to look them up…) that overweight and obese people tend to underestimate how much they eat.  We also see many diseases correlated with a higher body fat percentage (whether that’s visceral or subcutaneous is a different story.. =) ). 


    To turn your back to those results while counseling obese patients is, I think, morally wrong.  Linda Bacon does such a good job of massaging and ignoring data in her published book/works that I'’ve physically thunked my forehead with my hand a few times.  Book was a waste of my valuable $1.99.


    Perhaps its a logical fallacy of sorts, but I just can't take her research seriously.

  • E Craig:

    The “metabolically healthy obese” are only 10-15% of the obese population, if I recall correctly.

    Also, the “metabolically healthy obese” are only so because they're continuing to get fatter, which poses its own problems — namely that they won't be metabolically healthy forever.  Weighing 300+ pounds poses its own health risks even if your glucose tolerance is still good.

    That being said, if someone is in a strongly weight-reduced state (e.g. they started at 300# and now weigh 200#, even though their ideal weight is around 150#), the health impacts of trying to lose that last 50# against leptin and insulin dynamics probably overshadow the benefits!  However, that's not Bacon's thesis AFAIK.


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