Two Art de Vany-Related Ideas

I mentioned Art de Vany’s new book on Saturday; today I came across a few blog posts relating to some of his more important ideas and thought I’d talk about them.

The Economic Analysis of Diet

Today I recorded an interview with Jimmy Moore, which should appear on his “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” sometime early next year.

One of the things we talked about was our “economic” approach to nutrition and diet – how analyzing nutrients the way economists analyze factors of production helps sort out the confusing, seemingly contradictory results found in the scientific literature.

Since any factor calorie that is overly abundant will look like a “bad factor calorie” and any factor calorie that is too scarce will look like a “good factor calorie,” it’s easy to explain why the same nutrient can appear as “good” or “bad” in different studies.

Today, Mark Sisson features a passage from Art’s book. He says this:

At some point I realized that a human being is just another economic system. Indeed, your body contains an entire economy. There is the allocation of assets according to a hierarchy of needs. There are competing interests that sometimes struggle over resources and other times cooperate for the common good. There are surpluses. There are shortages. Like economies–like the movie industry–your body is a complex, decentralized system poised between chaos and order.

We tend to think of biologists as rigorous “hard” scientists and of economists as mushier “soft” scientists, but actually in analyzing complex cooperative networks economists are decades ahead of biologists.

The analysis in many biology papers, if translated into an economics paper with factors of production substituted for the dietary nutrients, would be recognized immediately by most economists as primitive and fallacious. Economists have developed many analytical ideas that diet researchers could usefully copy. It’s no surprise that Art and I both found our economics backgrounds helpful in sorting through the diet literature.

Intermittency in Diet

If there is a single idea that I associate with Art, it’s the desirability of intermittency and randomness to explore the extremes of the body’s metabolic networks.

Art touches upon this in the passage at Mark’s site:

According to chaos theory, certain systems that seem to be random in fact are not–it’s just difficult for us to perceive, at the outset, all the subtle factors that set the course and determine the outcome….

Another scientific concept, the power law, also comes up often in my discussions of health and fitness. It is based on the Pareto principle, named for Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. In essence, it describes the relationship between how common a factor is and how much influence it exerts. It says that the most unusual events will have the greatest impact. Pareto’s study determined that 80 percent of privately held land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population.

Similar power laws exist all around us.

There is a power law of exercise, too: Your least frequent, most extreme exertions will have the greatest influence on your fitness. The peak moments of a workout count far more than the amount of time you spend working out…. When a work-out becomes an unvarying, monotonous routine, it loses its effectiveness.

Art’s ideas suggest that it might be beneficial to explore dietary extremes, for instance in calorie intake. Sometimes we should fast, forcing our body to economize on nutrients; sometimes we should feast, giving our body a surplus of nutrients that it has to dispose of.

In our book we discuss the benefits of intermittent fasting – it promotes autophagy, which extends lifespan and protects us against bacteria and viruses – but we don’t discuss whether feasting has any merits.

While there has been no real scientific study of feasting (except in the context of every-other-day implementations of intermittent fasting), feasting has been a hot topic in the Paleo blogosphere lately:

Coincidentally, Chris Masterjohn today offers us a review of Tim Ferriss’s new book, The 4-Hour Body.

For weight loss, Ferriss recommends intermittent fasting and feasting:

His fat-loss regimen sticks to a five-rule “Slow-Carb Diet” six days a week, but on the seventh day he resteth. This is the day for “reverse Lent,” otherwise known as bingeing on whatever the heck you want. In fact, Ferriss considers overfeeding one day a week to be a critical component of his fat loss regimen because of its effects on metabolism-boosting hormones.

In this respect he seems to have come to conclusions similar to those of Ori Hofmekler of Warrior Diet fame, who advocates fasting in the day and overfeeding in the night, and Matt Stone, whose High-Everything Diet uses overfeeding as its very lifeblood.

Stone recently told Jimmy Moore that one of the issues he’s still trying to tweak with his diet is to get rid of the initial gain in weight. Tim Ferriss may have solved that problem with his version of overfeeding, as folks on his diet usually gain weight on overfeeding day but nevertheless experience a net loss of several pounds per week from the very beginning.

So add Ferris to the group of self-experimenters who find benefits from occasional feasting.

Chris also discusses protein restriction:

Ferriss notes that periodic fasting from protein induces a process called autophagy, wherein the cell cleans out its mishandled, degraded, and aggregated proteins that otherwise accumulate. This is consistent with my experience. I had developed a problem with small wart-like risings on my hands and fingers at one point. Complete fasting for two weeks helped somewhat, but going vegan for two weeks made them completely disappear. The problem has never come back, despite my regular sumptuous feasting on animal foods of all kinds.

Perhaps protein cycling provides an answer to the question I had raised in The Curious Case of Campbell’s Rats. Namely, is there an intermediate intake of protein that maximally protects against cancer, toxicity, and fatty liver under all conditions? Perhaps the answer is not an intermediate intake of protein, but a periodic cycling of protein intake.

We note in our book (and this blog post) that protein restriction, even if calories are not restricted at all, promotes autophagy and therefore intracellular immunity and longevity. So we’re happy to endorse protein restriction.

But high intake of protein, especially of ketogenic branched-chain amino acids like leucine, does promote muscle synthesis. So what is a bodybuilder or athlete, who seeks the greatest possible muscle growth, to do?  Is there an inevitable conflict between athleticism and longevity?

It’s possible that protein cycling – say, a week of protein restriction followed by a week of high-protein intake – might help resolve the dilemma, providing 80% of the longevity and health benefits of protein restriction and 80% of the muscle synthesis benefits of high-protein diets.

If so, Art de Vany would not be surprised.

Leave a comment ?


  1. OMG: Jimmy Moore gets to everybody, doesn’t he! It’s like a horror movie!

    LOL. Looking forward to the interview. He does an awesome job.

  2. Hah hah that’s the first time I’ve ever heard biology referred to as a “hard” science. But the state of data evaluation is shameful, especially in the epidemiology circles. Which I don’t get. I mean, if you are an epidemiologist, your whole job is numbers. They should be all over the scarce and overabundant factors. And they have biologic context to boot. I am not interested in numbers, particularly, but I love an epic, complex tale and solving puzzles, which this whole medicine/diet thing has in spades.

  3. Oh, and looking forward to the interview as well. I have one with Robert Su coming out soon – I think Jimmy interviewed him too.

  4. Emily, it’s “hard” science now that we’re doing it! 🙂

    Actually, my wife’s work is very rigorous and careful. There are probably few biologists in the world whose experiments and data are as reproducible and reliable as hers. I’m waiting for her next paper to get published to do some blog posts on her work.

    I agree, we have a lifetime’s worth of fascinating puzzles to discuss on our blogs.

  5. I must confess that the idea of protein restriction in order to promote longevity is very new to me. Intuitevely I never overfed on protein so it makes sense concerning what my body usually tells me. The only aspect, and you partly mentioned it in this article, is that several studies seem to conclude that more lean body mass is also associated with a longer life span and lesser desease with aging. So my question is if it is possible to maintain a healthy amount of muscle (I am not talking about that of strength athletes), lifting weights and staying strong, on minimal protein? I have experienced myself that I have gotten quite strong on on average 10-15% of calories from protein (I am a female at 124 pounds, so strength, of course, is relative).

  6. Yes, restricting yourself to ‘incomplete’ protein sources (vegetable or gelatine) seems to be beneficial short term or intermittent.

    Specifically restricting tryptophan and Methionine+Cystine seems to be a good idea.

  7. “But high intake of protein, especially of ketogenic branched-chain amino acids like leucine, does promote muscle synthesis. So what is a bodybuilder or athlete, who seeks the greatest possible muscle growth, to do? Is there an inevitable conflict between athleticism and longevity?”

    I’m a high intensity trainee and since I adopted the perfect health diet with much less protein then I used to eat but with the addition of 10g of pure BCAA in the morning and evening, I feel recovered faster and no muscle did fall off. If at all, I’m a bit bigger with the same degree of leanness.
    I believe now quality of protein trumps quantity.

  8. Hi Paul,
    so could this idea of intermittency in diet as being desirable point to the beneficial effects on health due to religious fasts, (that we talked about before), during which all animal products are banned for a number of days; is it a possible practical application?
    Can you suggest therefore a cyclical system, or pattern that would mimic these ideas? low carb, high carb, low protein, high protein, intermittent fasting with two meals a day, or 24 hours fasts or one day feast a week?
    Would this redefine the model you propose in your book?

    The consequence of my increased carb consumption is a rather undesirable rapid weight gain, so I will have to monitor more closely the type and quantity of carbs and fats consumed. I wish I didn’t have to behave like an accountant, but I’m still trying to lose fat, and now I’ve just added more work for myself.

  9. Hi Iris,

    Yes, it’s possible to add muscle on very little protein intake. The body can recycle protein very efficiently, and a pound of muscle is only 16% protein, so you don’t need to eat much protein to add a pound of muscle a week.

    The question is more hormonal signals that stimulate muscle. A lot of bodybuilders believe that protein helps them. Research indicates it is total calories and ketogenic branched-chain amino acid intake that matter, not total protein.

    Hi Ahrand,

    That would fit with the longevity literature. Restricting tryptophan also helps against bacterial infections.

    Hi Franco,

    Great! It’s great to hear that personal experiences match the science. I think only certain amino acids give the signals to stimulate muscle growth, so if you supplement those you get the best of bost worlds. There are a lot of advantages to keeping total protein intake not too high.

    Hi simona,

    Yes, I think it does confirm that religious fasts are likely to be beneficial … I don’t want to propose a cyclical system, beyond the intermittent fasting we describe in our book. This is all speculative and I would rather encourage people to experiment and report back results.

    Do you think you increased total calories along with your carbs, or is it just a shift in ratios with no change in total calories that is causing your weight gain? The two strategies of adjusting total calories downward or going more ketogenic / lower-carb are both in play.

    Best, Paul

  10. So if muscle gain is something I desire, would I be better served having a drink with leucine and lysine in it rather than one with a generic “protein powder”? It would seem to fit in with that 80/20 economic perspective.

  11. Hi Bill,

    We usually recommend whey powder as the easiest/cheapest way to get a high ketogenic and BCAA food.

    I would avoid soy protein or other protein mixes.

  12. Hi Paul,

    it’s hard to say what really happened. A lot of stress, not enough sleep for a few nights, made me eat more, 3 meals instead of 2, and reach for sweet treats that I wouldn’t even look at before when I wasn’t hungry. I definitely ate more calories but not every day and not that many, I didn’t eat that many starch calories to start with (approx two medium potatoes a day) So, surprising and sudden.

  13. Thank you so much, Paul! Muscle containing only 16% of protein – this puts things into perspective. I was very discoraged by my source of information “New rules of lifting for women” (not scientific stuff) where the author claims that 787 g of protein per week isn`t enough to support exercise-induced protein turnover while giving you a net gain in muscle size. He recommends for a weight-lifting female to eat 150 g of protein a day which is more than double of what I use to have. But it seems I am doing a good job in becoming stronger on much less! But where do those extraordinarily high numbers come from?

  14. Hi Iris,

    Those numbers make no sense. 150 g of protein a day is what we consider the maximum safe amount; I personally eat about 50 g per day, and I’ve gained muscle. Maybe not as fast as I would if I ate 150 g, but fast enough for normal people.

    Exercise-induced protein turnover doesn’t destroy amino acids, it makes them available for new protein construction. So you don’t need a lot of additional protein from food.

    The only way you might need that much protein is if you were on a zero-carb diet.

    Best, Paul

  15. Great blog and I’m ordering your book today as well. I’m a member over at Art’s site, as he introduced me to ‘paleo’ eating, and he stresses the importance of diet in suppressing (or at least not stimulating) the IGF-1 pathway. I avoid dairy, but do use butter (grass-fed) every day to increase my fat intake (aim for 70% macro). Does butter pose a problem? Sorry, off-topic I know.

    With regard to this blog post however, as the PHD recommends 50g protein and 100g carbs, I do the inverse by eating around 100g protein and 50g carbs. I’m wondering if the inverted ratios I use is ok since I do a decent amount of resistance training 3-4x a week and am a fairly muscular 235 pounds (at 6’2″). Restated, would higher protein consumption scale with amount of exercise and/or amount of lean body mass without detracting from health, or would it actually be healthier to reduce protein and lose some of the lean muscle?

  16. Hi Haig,


    Yes, your ratios are fine. You’ll find when you get the book that we have fairly broad ranges for both carbs and protein. We want carbs+protein to add up to at least 600 calories per day, so 100g protein and 50g carbs is right at our minimum.

    That specific mix, 100g protein and 50g carbs, is what we recommend for ketogenic dieting, which is therapeutic for certain conditions.

    Keep in mind that most of the protein you eat is getting converted to glucose because you are eating about 100g carbs below the body’s glucose needs. So you are not actually providing a lot of the hormonal signals that excess protein would provide. You might find adding some coconut oil to your diet will help conserve protein and improve muscle synthesis.

    I don’t think that losing lean muscle is desirable. A healthy diet should promote muscle synthesis 90% of the time; basically, only when fasting should muscle be lost. Muscle is a safer and healthier place to store excess calories than adipose tissue.

    Re the butter, we strongly support butter, the fats in butter are very healthy. Some people with dairy sensitivity may need to clarify the butter to remove proteins.

    Best, Paul

  17. Paul-as for protien cycling-what about seasonal cycling? A higher protein/ketogenic diet during the winter months and higher carbohydrate, lower protien diet during the summer months. I wonder if several weeks of high or low protien is enough to get the full benefits of autophagy or increased protein/muscle synthesis? Devoting several months to each with a more balanced approach inbetween each phase (fall and spring) may be more beneficial(?).

  18. Hi Paul,

    Ordered the book from Amazon, read about 1/6 of the book so far. I used whey powder in the past but now I use liver powder and nutritional yeast for the iron and other vitamins plus the protein. Do these compare favourably to whey protein?

  19. Hi Thomas,

    I’m not sure there’s much human seasonal cycling. We evolved in the tropics, because 90% of human history was during ice ages and the higher latitudes were uninhabitable. The tropics don’t have many seasons.

    I think the topic of multi-week fasts needs more research. Thomas Seyfried believes long fasts are the most beneficial, but I’m not aware of research backing that up.

    Hi Spoony,

    Well, liver has a lot of micronutrients but we prefer eating fresh liver. Iron is not desirable in large amounts.

    As far as protein content, the argument for whey is that it is high in the ketogenic and branched-chain amino acids. These help make the diet more ketogenic, i.e. have lower blood glucose and higher ketones; and help direct calories toward muscle rather than adipose tissue.

    I think liver is about as good as whey for protein quality, but I haven’t gone through all the amino acids. I also haven’t checked yeast for protein quality. It’s a good research question.

  20. Paul, your book arrived today and from the 2 hours I have spent with it I can tell that it is by far the best I have read so far on Primal/Paleo nutrition, and I know practically any of them on the market! It is unpretentious and scientific. It is also a great relief for me that eating primal-style doesn`t mean to have huge amounts of meat day by day but moderate servings! Also, I guess your approach agrees very well with females who are often reluctant to start their day with 4 eggs and a pound of suasage! I am hoping that a collection of recipes might follow in book-form? And I think many women, like me, would appreciate it very, very much if Shou-Ching Jaminet would be so kind to make an appearance here to discuss some issues here that are of importance for the women who are following the book? I think, as food-preferences and needs slightly differ in men and women it would be very welcome! Again, thank you for the informative book, a lot of information, good research!

  21. Hi Iris,

    I’m glad you like the book! I’m especially glad to hear you think it will appeal to women.

    We’re trying to post a recipe a week in pictures. Eventually we hope to have enough to gather together in a book. It will have to be in color. If we can get a hundred recipes or so, enough to cover the needs of practical life and all the various nutritional considerations and taste preferences, that would be perfect.

    My wife is very busy and hasn’t been bitten by the blogging bug yet – though she does a lot behind the scenes – but I would love for her to make appearances too!

    Best, Paul

  22. Hi Paul,

    Is it possible that some people need more than the 400 cal from starch and less cal from fat?
    Im finally adding some weight(very underweight)in muscle, but in order to make it happen I have to eat at least 200 grs of carbs (from tubers)a day, getting the majority of my cal. from fat didn´t make me gain or make me feel well.
    Do you think is valid for some people to tweak the macros upping starch & lowering the fat ?

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowleadge!

  23. Hi Mark,

    Some people do have increased carb needs for reasons such as chronic infections. I’m not sure what may be going on in your case.

    If it makes you feel better, then I would keep eating the carbs, as long as they’re from safe starches. The cost to the body of converting a little extra glucose to fat is probably trivial. As Stephan points out, the Kitavans were pretty healthy on a diet high in safe starches.

    So, yes, it is valid!

    Best, Paul

  24. Mark,

    if you want to gain, you can not only raise your starches but raise your fats and proteins(or better: your total calories) too, not to stray away too much from the ratios. Mine are 20/60/20 (C/F/P) right now with ~3000cals/day and I’m doing extremely well.

  25. I dont know what took me so long to read up on this post. I have been avoiding the internet for the better part of the past week. This post is VERY interesting.

    First, personally coming from a underweight background having put on weight continuously for the last 9 months, i have experienced all the ratios from high carb low fat to low carb high fat. regardless really of my carbohydrates or fat intake in a given day, it has always been the protein that is the determining factor on my weight gain, specifically the muscle meat. I am a huge fan of organs and random animal parts I can get ahold of. But the most ‘easily’ gained weight is when I am high in protein. i gain fat with high protein and moderate fat. i dont gain if i lower the protein and up the fat. also more protein=more acne. more protein= sore joints. more protein= thinner hair. more protein=dirtier teeth(?). more protein= more constipation. more protein= excessively varying water retention. Just my experience.

    Until this post, I never realized or thought about the potential benefits in restricting protein cyclically… but I have done it on occasion. For me, I turn to protein WAY MORE than I need to. It is incredibly easy for me to down pounds of lean meat and not think twice about it, which is what I am currently working on fixing.

  26. Hi Franco, Mark:

    Yes, as Franco says total calories should be the biggest factor promoting muscle gain. Mark, do you find you eat fewer calories when you eat a high-fat low-carb diet?

    Another question: When you say you ate 200 g carbs from tubers, you don’t mean that you ate only 200 g tubers, do you? To get 200 g carbs from potatoes or sweet potatoes would require eating 1.2 kg or 2.7 lb.

    200 g potatoes would supply only 130 calories of carbs which is below our safe minimum of 200.

    Hi Mallory,

    I’m a believer in low-protein intake … especially if you have so many negative symptoms from high protein! I don’t recomend lean meat at all. It doesn’t taste good either.

    It’s interesting that you have more weight/fat gain with more protein. That is contrary to many others’ experience.

    Best, Paul

  27. It seems more and more prominent bloggers are agreeing with you Paul,

    Just listened to the latest Robb Wolf Paleo Podcast with Tim Ferris “eat a few Brazil nuts everyday for selenium” and Zoë Harcombe at the livinglavidalowcarb sow “Keep (quality) carbs low but do not eliminate, cycle between low fat vegetarian and high fat protein days.”

  28. Hi Ahrand,

    Truth always wins out. The great thing about the Paleo blogosphere is that it’s interactive and filled with smart people, so good ideas spread quickly.

    I don’t know how much credit we deserve. Probably not much. But it’s nice to share in the credit!

    Best, Paul

  29. Paul;

    I finished reading your book and think it is fantastic.

    Do you have an opinion on the macro ratios for children, ages 3-6 range?

    My two want to carb out on starchy grains, will eat some meat if it is good and fatty, but really just crave sugar and wheat.

    I have been trying to reset their sweet taste buds using 70% Lindeman’s chocolate, ( I eat the 90% bars). They like it and consider it a treat so I can usually avoid them wanting something that sends insulin all over the place and getting the cravings a short time later. Plus they are getting some short chain fats.

    I’m mostly wondering about how much protein to push as I let them eat as much starch as they want ( other than grains which I try to limit for them). Thank you

  30. Hi Perry,


    Children should have fairly low protein intakes, lower than adults. 10% is fine.

    Carb fraction, I would recommend 20% to 40% but if they want to go higher I wouldn’t worry too much as long as it is safe starches, fruits and berries. The younger they are the higher the carb fraction should be, 40% might be best for the 3 year old.

    You do want to keep them off sugar and wheat. Easier said than done, I know.

    I would try to get them to go for fatty foods and combine fatty foods with the starches, fruits and berries. If you can teach them to like fats and the taste of fats that will help. You might try things like cream and berries, homemade ice cream, bone marrow, putting butter on steak without trimming any of the fats off, or other foods that help give them a taste for fat. But they have to like it, you want the foods to be tasty to them, so that they embrace the diet and get into the habit of preferring fat to sugar.

    Best, Paul

  31. Hi Paul,

    I’m going to have to track how much protein they are getting because with their milk and yogurt consumption, the total protein has to be well over 10%. Each is drinking a good quality pasteurized milk from a local dairy, about a half gallon each a week and they split a larger container of full fat yogurt over the week too.

    But with the meat consumption, overall intake has to be pretty high. I thought growing kids would need more than an adult. Thank you.

  32. Hi Perry,

    Whole milk and plain whole milk yogurt are about 22% protein so that’s not too far off. Be sure to stay away from low-fat milks.

    The older they are, the higher their protein and lower their carb consumption can be.

  33. I too have lost much more bodyfat by lowering protein. Intermittent fasting was just not doing it before, and high fat, low carb worked but only with lots of weighing and measuring, and still needing attention to calorie consumption.

    It was this Knol that got me thinking about protein cycling and autophagy, a regime against neurological disease developed by Dr. Ron Mignery:

  34. And also, one thing I didn’t mention is that the theory behind Mignery’s Protein Cycling Diet is that the activating element of starvation or intermittent fasting which causes the beneficial autophagy, etc. is exactly AMINO ACID RESTRICTION.

    In the comments section, one guy just ate protein in a 3-hour window once a day, with fruit/whipped cream the rest of the day, and lost 12 lbs without changing calorie consumption. He also claims to have improved his eyesight and hearing. Worth a try…

  35. Hi Paul,

    to add to what you said to Mark. I’m a bit over 200 lean lbs (just to giva a relation) and found ~120g of carbs to be my minimum to feel well, have a good rate of glycogen-supercompensation and thus lift strong. Below 80g recovery from workouts seems to take forever (beyound 8 days) and I feel foggy (brain) and lethargic.
    But I’m unsure if that could be changed with (high) coconut oil consumption (Ketones) because I still haven’t had a chance to buy some. Will experiment with it next week. What do you think?

  36. Hi Franco,

    Ketones should conserve glycogen somewhat but I don’t know how much that will help. Will be interested in hearing the results of your experiment.

    Hi gunthergatherer,

    Thanks! I hadn’t heard of Mignery before. Looks very interesting and very much in line with our take on the literature. We are big advocates of autophagy for life extension, neuronal health, and immunity from disease … and of protein restriction, as well as intermittent fasting, for promotion of autophagy.

    We also believe that maintaining or increasing muscle mass is desirable most of the time and indicates generally healthy hormonal balance. So I spend most of my time exploring the margin of low protein and muscle maintenance/growth.

    I will have to read Mignery soon. Thanks!

    Best, Paul

  37. Two Art de Vany-Related Ideas | Healthy News - pingback on December 22, 2010 at 5:18 am
  38. Hey paul, i’m just about to order your book, and have enjoyed catching up on posts since i’ve been on vacation the past 3 weeks!
    Anyway, i’ve been trying to follow your guidelines but I have a problem. My blood sugar goes crazily high after eating carbs. For weeks now, i’ve been eating 30-50g carbs in the form of winter squash, sweet potatoes or white rice, and my blood sugar goes up to like 145, and sometimes stays really high for a few hours!! I’ve read about peripheral insulin resistance when eating a high fat low carb diet, which causes your muscles to become insulin resistant to spare glucose for the brain, but i would have thought my levels would lower after eating this way for over a month! (NB i’m a healthy 20 yr old who has never been overweight).
    What do you think is up, and do you have any suggestions?

  39. Hi Remo,

    I think you’re normal. When I was very low-carb my blood sugars would go into the 140s for several hours after a carb-containing meal, and my fasting blood glucose would be ~105.

    As you’re aware, low-carb dieting leads to adaptations to conserve glucose. This “physiological insulin resistance” increases blood sugar levels.

    30-50g carbs per day is a fairly minimal carb intake and I’m not surprised you’re going into the 140s after a carb-rich meal. That’s certainly within the range of normalcy.

    Eating more carbs, or maintaining regular carb intake, will lead to greater insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

    You can also lower blood glucose levels by eating coconut oil for ketones.

    You might also try taking some vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, B6, and biotin that may help with carb metabolism. But I don’t think that’s likely to be an issue. Basically, 140 is fairly safe transient blood glucose level and is a normal post-meal level on a 50g carb/day diet.

    Best, Paul

  40. Wow…I’m surprised given the amount of research you obviously do that you only now have stumbled upon Dr. Mignery’s excellent free ebook. Perhaps you can a post a review.

    Equally surprising is Mignery’s low profile on the blogoshere ( It has a total of 10 posts with only 3 comments from readers, including me. He doesn’t reply to comments or give any contact info.

  41. gunther gatherer

    Neal, I agree that Mignery’s ebook is excellent and has helped me personally in several ways. It’s also true that he isn’t replying to comments and hasn’t updated the Knol or his blogspot in a while.

    I wish there was more info on protein cycling strategies out there. Anyone have any other links for protein restriction and autophagy? I’ve scoured PubMed and must have read all the studies by now.

  42. Paul
    thanks for the prompt reply! However i am still pretty concerned, because it seems my blood sugar only goes up to 140 on a good day! Today, i just ate 150g of cooked white rice with about 1 tsp of fat (so around 40g carb) and 1 hour later my blood glucose was 171 mg/dl!!! If it’s useful, my fasting blood glucose yesterday was 4.3…
    I’m worried about the damaging effects of such high blood sugar even if i only experience it once a day, and i’m confused as to why my body hasn;t adapted after eating this way for a decent amount of time.

    Having said that, i have been experiencing jet lag the past couple of days, and my sleep cycle has been really messed up (going to sleep really late, and sleeping for over 12 hours). Perhaps this has temporarily disrupted my blood sugar balance? I could try testing once i’m back in my normal routine…
    I appreciate your thoughts!

  43. oops i meant my fasting blood glucose was 4.3 mmol/l, so thats 77 mg/dl!

  44. Hi Remo,

    150 g cooked white rice digests to about 430 calories / 110 g glucose … so that is a full day’s carbs at once. It’s also not mixed with fat or other foods to slow down digestion. So this is the most severe gluocse challenge I would consider.

    It’s undesirable to ever have a blood glucose of 170 mg/dl. So we want to try to understand this.

    Your fasting blood glucose is low so it doesn’t seem like your body is trying to conserve glucose.

    Jet lag and disrupted circadian rhythms can be big disruptors of glucose metabolism. Changes in air pressure during flying might also play a role, see

    Try eating a smaller amount of rice with food after you have recovered a normal sleep pattern, and see what your blood sugars do.

    Best, Paul

  45. It seems there’s some confusion here about how the white rice quantity is being expressed.

    Remo said he he ate 150g of “cooked white rice.” If he meant that 150g was the weight *after* cooking, then according to FitDay he is right that he consumed about 40g carb, well within the PHD recommendations for a specific meal I think.

    Paul’s figures appear to be based on the alternative assumption that 150g was the weight of the dry rice *before* cooking. If that’s true, then Paul’s figures are consistent with FitDay’s data.

    It’s a huge difference! So perhaps Remo could clarify what he meant.

    I have a blood glucose meter on order to test what some “safe starches” do to my own blood glucose. By the way, I ordered the one recommended by Dr. Bernstein. He has said in interviews that after long experience they have determined that one consumer-grade meter is accurate at the normal blood sugar levels Bernstein recommends (rather than the abnormally high levels conventional docs maintain diabetics at). He didn’t want to say the name on the air but invited people to call the office to find out. I did, and Dr. Bernstein answered himself. I admire his work tremendously and it was an unexpected pleasure to have a brief talk with him. Since he doesn’t, I won’t mention the specific meter, either, but anyone can call his office to find out. You might even get to talk to him!

  46. you are correct Bill – i measured the rice after cooking, so it was indeed 40g carb not 110g. So my high BS is very worrying indeed!
    (p.s Just to clarify i’m a “her” not a he :P)

    My circadian rhythm is still messed. When i woke up, i tested my BS, it was 95. I then ate about 75g of cooked sweet potato with plenty of cinnamon and 1 tsp coconut oil. 1 hour later, my BS is 88.2, the complete opposite effect of white rice!

    However, I#ve heard of cinnamon lowering BS, what are your thoughts on this? If it has this effect via increasing insulin, is this something to be avoided?

    I’m thinking of eating the white rice with cinnamon, and see what happens then. This self experimentation is pretty fascinating XD

  47. update : i must have experienced reactive hypoglycemia, because 30 mins after i last tested, my BS is 109

  48. Hi Remo, Bill,

    Looks like I misremembered the carb content of rice. Sorry.

    Cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity and coconut oil creates ketones which substitute for glucose and tend to lower blood sugar. So both of those would have tended to keep blood sugar down, but I’d be surprised if the effects were large.

    It’s better to have high insulin than high blood glucose, so if cinnamon helps keep blood glucose from going above 140 mg/dl, then I would support cinnamon use.

    Let us know your experimental results, Remo! Somehow I suspect the jet lag may be a big player.

  49. Paul,
    I’ve been reading your blog for some time but haven’t seen you touch on the following questions (if you have, my apologies!):

    1. Have you come to any conclusions (assuming one is adhering to the 16 hour fast and eating only during 12-8pm daily) about the best time of day to exercise? I assume it would be during this 8 hour period, lest you need to recharge glucose and break the fast because of the exercise.
    2. Is it advisable to stay away from intensive exercise (running, weight lifting) on weekly ketogenic fast days?

  50. Hi RW,

    1) Actually, I think the best time to exercise is when you are fasted.

    The main consideration is that you’ll never do your best exercise on a full stomach! But apart from that, exercising while fasted helps adapt you to more efficient use of available resources, and increases the stress on the body that leads to new muscle and glycogen reservoir synthesis.

    As long as you eat in the subsequent 24 hours, you’ll provide sufficient resources for muscle synthesis.

    The exceptions to this advice would be extreme endurance training or competitive events. Don’t run a marathon fasted! But ordinary training of an hour or less, however intense, is probably best done in the fasted state.

    2) No. Train as usual during your fast. Just be sure to drink a lot of water and get some electrolytes (salt, potassium, magnesium).

    Of course, you should always listen to your body and if it tells you to take it easy, take it easy.

    Best, Paul

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