Around the Web; Say Hey Kid edition

Here’s what caught my eye this week:

[1] First, thank you to Mark Sisson: Our thanks to Mark Sisson and Mark’s Daily Apple for listing us among his “18 Underrated Blogs You Should Be Reading”. We’re in excellent company because all 18 are great blogs. Many of the blogs are fairly new, which demonstrates how rapidly the Paleosphere is growing. Mark is in many ways the leader of the Paleo movement (deservedly so), so we’re honored and proud to be recommended by him.

[2] For aural amusement: I love the way Dinah Washington sings this song.

[3] Interesting posts this week: Speaking of Mark, he somehow produces high-quality interesting posts every day. This week I was intrigued to learn that Australian aborigines were engaging in eel farming on a massive scale as early as 6,000 BC.

Melissa McEwen commented on “Venus-gate”.  Also in Paleolithic commentary, anthropologist Julien Riel-Salvatore gives an update on the finding that Neanderthals cooked starches by boiling in water or moist baking. Quick summary: at Shanidar, Iraq, they cooked date palms, wild barley and legumes; at Spy, Belgium, they cooked water lily corms, sorghum, and five other starchy plant species.

Chris Masterjohn had a fascinating post: “When Fat Burns In the Flame of Lean Muscle Mass — Better Put That Butter Either on Steak or Potatoes”. I left some thoughts in a comment there.

In his post welcoming Mark’s Daily Apple readers, Chris mentioned us among his top referrers. We’re delighted to have passed readers along, but disappointed that we rate so highly – it means others aren’t linking to him enough!

Emily Deans writes on who’s vulnerable to stress and why.

The Scientist tells us that oxidative stress in birds produces timidity as well as shortened lifespan.

Greg Laden of Science Blogs addresses the claim that Paleolithic peoples didn’t live long. In fact, it appears that life expectancy of girls was well into the 50s; as in all premodern societies, the greatest mortality was at childbirth and infancy.

The New York Times joins Ray Peat, Matt Stone, and others in discussing possible benefits of fructose at low doses. It turns out that after intense exercise or fasting has depleted glycogen, glycogen is replenished most rapidly by a mix of 2 parts glucose to 1 part fructose. Precisely the ratio in bananas! Perhaps bananas are the best breakfast.

The New York Times also reported on a study which found the lowest mortality with intake of more than 6 grams of sodium per day. That’s about 2 teaspoons of salt.

In yet a third New York Times report, we learn that removal of the tonsils causes obesity. Of course, the tonsils have an immune function, obesity is a disease, and pathogens cause disease. But that’s not the explanation doctors are proposing:

One of several theories is that enlarged tonsils cause difficulty swallowing, prompting a child to eat less. Once the tonsils are removed, appetite returns.

For lovers of baked goods, Chef Rachel Albert, the Healthy Cooking Coach, has a 99% Perfect Health Diet compliant (save for a bit of legume-derived xanthum or guar gum) recipe for Rosemary-Garlic Popovers.

[4] That plush toy looks real:

[5] Venus-gate revisited: Those odd-shaped Paleolithic figurines? Maybe they were a result of the Gravettian liposuction industry.

Gina Kolata (“With Liposuction, the Belly Finds What the Thighs Lose”) reports that liposuction doesn’t produce lasting weight loss. When liposuction is used to remove fat from one part of the body, the fat comes back elsewhere:

It took a year, but it all returned. But it did not reappear in the women’s thighs. Instead, Dr. Robert H. Eckel said, “it was redistributed upstairs,” mostly in the upper abdomen, but also around the shoulders and triceps of the arms.

[6] How to lose weight fast: Stephan Guyenet continues his must-read series on links between the brain’s reward system and obesity with a post on “How to Make a Rat Obese” and “How to Make an Obese Human Lean”. Secret to the latter? Stock your refrigerator like this:

I wonder if this refrigerator would work as well:

[7] Seth Roberts has another long-term weight loss chart: This time the Shangri-La Diet comes out the best.

The Shangri-La Diet fits in with Stephan’s ideas, but makes a radical claim: that although eating tasteless calories causes weight loss, it’s not necessary that the whole diet be tasteless – only one spoonful a day is enough!

Seth’s ideas are incorporated into our weight loss recommendations indirectly. Our recommendation (Perfect Health Diet: Weight Loss Version, Feb 1, 2011) is to eat normal dietary levels of carbs and protein, reducing fat intake a bit but eating the usual Perfect Health Diet foods – but to eat intermittently with a daily 16-hour fast. During the fast, meet any hunger with a spoonful of coconut oil, Shangri-La Diet style.

[8] Bravo: Our view of obesity was superbly summarized by Stabby on Mark’s Daily Apple forum, and then reduced to a pithy aphorism by NourishedEm:

Stabby: Perfect Health Diet strives for…well…perfection in health and what follows from that? Better body composition.… [O]besity is a disease of metabolic syndrome, and eating a healthy diet can help in reversing it. The general mindset of someone trying to lose weight is that they would like as much of it gone as quickly as possible, but as always with everything it is the sustainability of things that ultimately matters. When we make health numero uno we put ourselves on the best possible path for the future.

NourishedEm: You don’t need to lose weight to get healthy, you need to get healthy to lose weight.

[9] I love this photo: The Hadza of Tanzania:

From National Geographic via Conditioning Research.

[10] Willie Mays turns 80 today: Here’s his famous catch:

[11] As if we needed more reason to avoid prostate exams: Biopsies are causing dangerous infections:

Studies emerging during the past year have uncovered that a small, yet growing percentage of those undergoing routine needle biopsy tests are becoming critically ill and dying from bacterial infections…. Nine out of 10,000 men whose tests were negative died within a month, researchers in Toronto reported in the Journal of Urology in March last year….

When he looked at hospital admissions among patients whose biopsy was negative for cancer, Nam discovered the chance of being hospitalized within a month of the procedure had increased fourfold in less than a decade, reaching 4.1 percent in 2005 from 1 percent in 1996, according to the Journal of Urology report.

When Nam searched for the cause of the hospitalizations, he found 72 percent had an infection-related diagnosis.

[12] Post of the week: In a week with some great competition, anthropologist Peter Frost of Evo and Proud wins the prize with a really interesting post on Candida infections. He presents evidence that a few substrains of Candida, which thrive in the mouth and vagina, have evolved an ability to infect the brain and induce a preference for sexual activity in “non-Euclidean” geometries. Startling if true. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before many pathogens evolve these abilities.

[13] Shou-Ching’s Photo-Art: This week’s installment – click to enlarge:

[14] But do the computers have health insurance?: Scientists afflict computers with schizophrenia to better understand the human brain:

Computer networks that can’t forget fast enough can show symptoms of a kind of virtual schizophrenia, giving researchers further clues to the inner workings of schizophrenic brains, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Yale University have found.

Pouring corn oil and sugar into the computer also impairs it, giving further clues to the origin of mental illness.

[15] Not the weekly video: The ultimate dog tease:

Via Bix.

[16] Video of the week: The Coral Triangle is a huge area centered on the Indonesian archipelago. The Bajau are a people who not only maintain Paleolithic lifeways – they live much their lives at sea. The Bajau are often hard of hearing due to intentionally puncturing their eardrums to facilitate diving. This video is mainly about conservation, but I thought the parts about the Bajau were most interesting:

People of the Coral Triangle from James Morgan Photography on Vimeo.

The conservation part touches upon a topic that came up in the comments last week, in which Peter argued that to save fisheries we need a system of oceanic property rights. Someone in the film (at 10:25) makes the same point in different words:

In order to enact a really sustainable and meaningful conservation program for the Coral Triangle region, we need to empower groups such as the Bajau to look after and curate their own environment.

Video via Barry Ritholtz.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Steve Brecher

    Paul, the link to your Feb. 1, 2011 weight-loss post *might* not be the one you intended because in that post you didn’t recommend I.F., you only mentioned it at the end among “other techniques.”

    Regardless, a question that I’ve been meaning to ask: is there a rationale for specifically a 16/8 hr. fast/eat period, rather than, say, 18/6 or 14/10?

  2. Hi Steve,

    No, they’re all good. It’s a matter of personal preference. 12-16 hours is probably where the marginal benefits of an additional hour are the greatest. Above 16 diminishing returns kick in.

  3. As far as Venus-gate, I agree with Melissa that exaggerated depictions are the norm.

    Imagine an alien looking a comic book. If they found Peanuts, they’d conclude we all had gigantic heads. If they found a superhero comic, they’d conclude that men all had 55″ chests and women all sported F cups.

    Then imagine a museum. If they found Greek statuary, they’d conclude we were all muscular, totally hairless, and had tiny penises. If they found Indian statuary, they’d conclude women all had perfectly globular breasts and enjoyed having sex upside down. And that’s just the representational end…


  4. That ‘plush toy’ photo links to a spam site.

  5. I’ve just started having a banana, coconut cream and some protein before a gym session. It just seems to work. No dizziness, good energy. This type of carb just feels good. Interesting about the glucose: fructose ratio. I’ve done other fruits or veggies before for the carbs – but this feels the best.

  6. Hi JS,

    Yes, if they found Hollywood all women would be beautiful and the obesity epidemic would have gone in reverse.

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks, I’ve removed the link.

    Hi julianne,

    Sounds like a good post-workout meal too.

    Best, Paul

  7. Paul,

    Another great Saturday post. I got a kick out of your mentioning liposuction. I’ve had a substantial cache tucked away for just such a consideration, but I’m very glad I never opted for it given the possible results re: your diagram. It’s bad enough that gravity has readjusted body parts all on its own without giving it any help.

    Loved S-C’s photo art.

  8. Hi Paul,

    can I ask about the 16/8 daily fast you mention, which I have been doing and actually really enjoying from essentially the day your book arrived. How does it relate to gluconeogenesis? Is the intention not to enter this or to enter it a little bit? Does autophagy necessarily entail a (metabolically measurable) amount of gluconeogenesis? (The reason I ask is that my cystic kidneys, which I hope to favour by some autophagy, are not supposed to be particularly good at protein by-product handling.)

  9. Hi erp,

    Thanks! Happy Mother’s Day!

    Hi donat,

    Gluconeogenesis is a natural activity which everyone who eats a low-carb diet does some of the time, and we think that’s for the best.

    Intermittent fasting with the same carb consumption doesn’t really increase gluconeogenesis, just concentrates it in certain times of the day (late stages of the fast) and creates a little ketosis.

    Autophagy is driven by a number of factors, including both protein scarcity and energy scarcity.

    For autophagy promotion in your condition I would suggest a low-protein diet (~200 calories per day), higher carbs (>400 calories per day), and intermittent fasting, with coconut oil consumption.

    Best, Paul

  10. robert_evans

    The liposuction question has been bugging me for a while. How does you body “know” how much fat you have — leptin? I’m guessing in most cases, the amount of fat being removed is small (1-2 pounds); it is, after all, being done for cosmetic reasons rather than drastic weight loss.

    Body image is a really tough subject. Take Gweneth Paltrow. I am sure her well publicized diet routines are not healthy in any sense. Pressure to conform to an ideal type is hard to resist. Friends and family tell me I look gaunt at 6″ 165 pounds…although I know there is plenty of fat left to burn up if needed.

    That’s why I like the PHD focus on the goal: healthy living, not a perfect body.

  11. I remember that the >400 carbs guideline does not include vegetables (stuff like broccoli and cauliflower are not too starchy to be in this group?) and I assume then that also any starchy carbs are meant to be counted net of fiber.

    Many thanks, …also for the very desirable mother’s day recipe

  12. Hi Robert,

    Yes, leptin is the main hormone communicating fat mass … other hormones also go up with fat mass (usually) such as adiponectin, but leptin seems to act as a fat mass monitor.

    I think they can take away a substantial mass, much more than 1-2 pounds, but equally important is that they take away many cells. So adipose cells would have to be re-created from stem cells or replication to re-create the same fat mass.

    The loss of cells impairs the metabolic buffering performed by adipose cells and so liposuction must make diabetes more likely.

    I guess that like me you could use a little more time at the gym … but life is so busy, we all have to choose our priorities.

    Hi donat,

    I basically exclude vegetables because (a) typically half their carb calories are used up in digestion, so an 80 calorie/pound vegetable delivers only 40 calories/pound, and 40 calories is inconsequential compared to daily glucose utilization, (b) most people overestimate the carb calories contained in vegetables, and (c) few people eat more than ~2 pounds vegetables per day so it doesn’t matter much and counting would be trouble to no purpose.

    So yes, just count starches and sugars and fruits and berries and leave the vegetables out would be my advice.

  13. Robert, I know it was a typo and you meant 6 feet high, but just picturing you at 6 inches high and 165 lbs made me laugh out loud wondering how you packed that much density into such a small package.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all, mothers, sons and daughters.

  14. @Erp; how do you know it was a typo? Small people have lives, too.

    @Paul; related question. I like the point that you are removing cells. But are the new fat cells leptin resistant from birth?

    In South America (brazil, argentina) cosmetic surgery is quite common. This is what I am more familiar with than what happens in the US. IN argentina, doing it once a year — only only removing small amounts — is the norm. Also, the argentine diet is more meat based than the US diet, and perhaps that helps with recovery. I can say it clearly works — Argentine women look fantastic. The US result is usually upper body fat gain, which doesn’t look great.

    I’m sure future generations will look at our culture of fat-harvesting from women as a sure sign of total cultural degeneracy.

  15. Interesting post about how the removal of tonsils is linked to obesity. My mother and I are both overweight, she had her tonsils removed as a child and I still have mine, but I suffer from fairly regular bouts of inflamed tonsils/sore throat/strep throat. Going back to my mom, she also has had her gal bladder removed and has hashimoto’s thyroid disease. I wonder if they are all related somehow?

    Secondly, where does the saying, ‘fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate’ come from, and is it true?
    The title of Chris’post made me think of this.


  16. Hi Rick,

    Very possibly all are related. Gallbladder disease and thyroid disease are, I believe, usually caused by infections. Could be the same chronic infection that caused her tonsil problem.

    I thought Chris explained the saying very well (

    In 1895, a biochemist by the name of Rosenfeld coined the expression “fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate.” This was based on observations that cells could break down fatty acids into ketone bodies but without sufficient glucose the cells could not break them down fully into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

    You need Krebs cycle substrates in order to burn fats, make ATP, manufacture glucose, or do many other things. Low carb+protein intake limits the available substrates and limits what the body can do.

    Best, Paul

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