How Google+ just changed my life

It is with some bemusement that I report that Google+ – not yet out of beta – has already changed my life. Bear with me because I’m going to talk about diet for a bit, but where I’m actually going is to a discussion of how our means of acquiring information is changing.

So, I saw Sugar: The Bitter Truth scroll up on G+, watched it, and…ay yi yi. Fructose, a hepatotoxic poison?

OK, I did some followup research, I’m aware that there’s a countercase and that Dr. Lustig can be accused of oversimplifying some things and there’s dispute about others. But I know a fair bit about biochemistry, physiology, and related fields, enough to make his indictment of fructose as a chronic hepatotoxin far more convincing and frightening than if I were ignorant and all those enzyme-pathway charts meant nothing to me.

So, I’m cutting way down on the sugar and especially the fructose in my diet. This isn’t the wrench it would be for many Americans, because the fact is I dislike sugar in large amounts – couldn’t stand white cake frosting even as a kid, haven’t drunk mass-market colas or almost any other common soda drinks in significant quantities since the 1970s. And I loathe high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). That crap tastes like burnt plastic to me, and I go to some lengths to avoid any food or drink that has it in the ingredients list.

There are a few sweetened drinks I do like – apple and cranberry juices, dry ginger ale, Nantucket Nectars and Snapple lemonade, and a couple of cane-sugar-sweetened boutique sodas (GUS and Reed’s ginger beer). Sadly, now I learn that the fructose content of all those nice healthy juices, and the fructose component of the sucrose dimer in the other drinks, could be kicking the crap out of my liver and shoving me towards “metabolic syndrome” – obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

This has extra point for me because a friend of mine died of non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver earlier this year. Classic presentation, comorbid with obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. This is becoming a disturbingly common pattern – and there came a point at which Lustig was explaining about fructose producing lipid-droplet deposition in the liver, and I realized what had almost certainly killed my gaming buddy. The fructose did it…

One of Lustig’s critics (sorry, I’ve lost the link) says meta-analysis of different studies suggests that a normal adult can avoid hepatotoxic effects from fructose by holding dosage below 50g a day. And that’s what I’m doing…no more apple cider with meals, halving my nightly dose of Godiva cocoa, being careful about how many lemonades I drink after an MMA class.

But I didn’t actually post to bore you with details about my diet. OK, I do think Lustig’s warning deserves a lot of attention, and if I’ve interested you in watching his talk I think I’ve done a good deed. But what’s perhaps more interesting than the message is the medium.

Lustig’s talk is a YouTube video that has gone viral. It came to my attention because someone that I encircled on G+ – that is, someone I thought likely to have interesting things to say – shared it into my stream.

Both these facts about it are interesting. First, Lustig was able to bypass a lot of gatekeepers and get a damn serious medical-epidemiological message out to the world despite the fact that it flutters a lot of dovecotes. (The food industry, the USDA, the medical establisment, and allied interest groups are enormously invested in fat-is-the-villain theory, for reasons Lustig does a good job of explaining.) Second, I got it because I can now crowdsource the job of finding interesting news to people who I’ve selected for having interests in common with me.

We’re all used to viral videos by now, but G+ implements a novel kind of filter on those and other sorts of news. It’s more selective than reputation-based systems like Slashdot or Reddit; instead of choosing a karma threshold I’m choosing my filtering population. So far, the resulting quality is quite high. At least, after I screen out the shares that are just political ranting from left-wing advocacy organizations and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself).

The result of that high quality is that G+ has already changed my life once. And could do it again.

116 thoughts on “How Google+ just changed my life

  1. I think this could just be because you haven’t really been active in other services like Twitter or Facebook. The experience you describe is common to most other ‘sharing’ types of social media.

    In other words: welcome to 2006! ;-)

  2. Actually I have been somewhat active on Twitter. But nothing I’ve seen shared there had such impact. Possibly because the set of people I follow is much smaller there; G+ makes it easier to cast a large net.

  3. Cutting down on sugar to 50g a day seems prudent whether or not Lustig is out to lunch or not…that said, Iet my kids have the occasional ice cream and such and they can have whatever fruit they want in whatever quantities they are willing to eat. I’m sure that blows the 50g limit at least once a week.

  4. I agree a similar experience is found in other social networking sites, but in Google Plus I can choose to see only those I circle in “follow”, or “friends”, or “people posting interesting stuff”, or “people posting too many lolcats”. All in all, a wonderful signal to noise ratio and selective focusing of experience.

  5. I hate video as a method of presenting information that is quicker to read than to listen to someone say. (That said, I haven’t yet watched this one, maybe it’s an exception and somehow gets more info across than the equivalent time spent reading.)

  6. I have been avoiding wheat altogether, cutting back on other grains, and reducing fructose for awhile. It all seems to help a lot. The stupid thing about fructose is that for a long time, they would give it to diabetics because it’s glycemic index is lower than other sugars. Thanks a lot!

    As far as other social networks go, I wouldn’t know about that. I was never really that interested — facebook seemed like too much work for too many inane interactions, and twitter seemed like a never-ending series of bumper stickers.

  7. Before I heard about Lustig, I heard about Gary Taubes that has a similar set of books and youtubes (during a twit.tv sidebar between Leo and Paul Thurrotte). That was 10% of my biomass ago, all Fat while I gorge myself on meats, salad, eggs andcheese enough for a particular examine on gluttony. Carbs make you fat because they cause the release of insulin, and insulin tells fat cells to store fat. But Taubes makes thr case the way Lustig does and both are right -You need fiber, Fructose is toxic in american’s supersized doses, but Starches are glucose compacted so potato chips or fries are like drinking the glucose part of pop.

  8. Aren’t many elements of our diet ‘toxic’ if consumed beyond certain quantities over a certain periiod of time? We have been enjoying the health benefits of fruits & their juices for a long time without evidence of catastrophic toxicity.

    Yet again, here’s another example of “moderation is key”…and perhaps another call for Americans to try not being such a bunch of fat bastards. A call I shall ignore, as I am a happy fat bastard ;)

    Any chance that you, ESR, are perhaps latching onto this a bit too strongly because of a spell of post-fifty mortality-awareness syndrome?

    By all means, look for good advice on shaping your diet to promote good health. But declaring such sugars “toxins”? Gimme a break! That just smacks of yet another alarmist dietary fad, oh so fashionable in recent decades.

  9. I have no idea if this proposed 50g limit is sensible, but what exactly does it represent in real terms? How many apples or glasses of orange juice etc?

  10. @Dan
    Yes, the dose makes the toxin.
    But as his talk shows, we have increased sugar intake over that toxicity level.

  11. Dan: Go watch Lustig. One key indicator of a “toxin” is the extent to which it must be metabolized in the liver. Fructose is very similar to ethanol in this respect…but worse.

    Albert: Aragon’s been trying to promote himself as a Lustig gadfly but he’s not very good at it.

  12. @Dan:

    One point in that NY Times article I disagree with is that HFCS and sucrose are equally bad. Sucrose is bad, no doubt about it, but the HFCS they use in soft drinks is 55% fructose to 42% glucose. This means that, unlike sucrose, where you’re getting one fructose molecule for every glucose molecule, with HFCS you’re getting 1.31 fructose molecules for every glucose molecule…

  13. BTW, the old-fashioned corn syrup (e.g. Karo) that is used in things like homemade pecan pies is not modified at all. It’s practically 100% glucose — no fructose to be found.

  14. >I have no idea if this proposed 50g limit is sensible, but what exactly does it represent in real terms? How many apples or glasses of orange juice etc?

    Look at the nutritional label. If the sweetener is sucrose, halve the figure.

  15. It’s easy to get caught up in the Lustig vs. Aragon vs. everybody else blah blah blah and miss what I consider to be the essential points: First, nobody will actually tell you to eat more sugar, of any kind. Arguing about precisely whether its impact is zero, strongly negative, or somewhere in between is pretty uninteresting to me as I make my dietary decisions, as it isn’t actually that hard to cut back to historical levels (or below). Second, there’s virtually nobody left anymore who can or will offer a defense of the “fat is the problem” theory with anything other than flat-out dogmatic repetition of the naively simplistic “fat = calories in – calories out” and reacting to all the other various arguments against that position with little more than fingers-in-the-ears, followed by more dogmatic repetition.

    The details are interesting and I’m glad that decades after it should have been happening, the little details are being worked out now. But I’m pretty much ready to call it; the standard dietary dogma is dead, it’s now only a matter of how slowly the “official” recommendations can change while saving face, and in the meantime, you don’t need to wait, and indeed shouldn’t wait for their face to be saved while you continue to kill yourself. Regardless of how the details shake out, the 90-10 benefit comes from all-but-eliminating refined carbs, and treating fat as a nutrient instead of an evil. (Except trans fats, which still appear to be evil, but they appear to be mostly going away anyhow.)

  16. >Any chance that you, ESR, are perhaps latching onto this a bit too strongly because of a spell of post-fifty mortality-awareness syndrome?

    Unlikely. I’m biologically young for my calendar age – no joint problems, good blood pressure, healthy skin, no problems being physically active other than occasional episodes of tendonitis. I do martial arts with twentysomethings and don’t feel at all handicapped by my years. Mortality isn’t breathing down my neck very hard yet. Well, not my own – I think Lustig’s video struck me hard because a friend of mine died not long past of symptoms identical to those Lustig described for fructose toxicity.

    >By all means, look for good advice on shaping your diet to promote good health. But declaring such sugars “toxins”? Gimme a break! That just smacks of yet another alarmist dietary fad, oh so fashionable in recent decades.

    I’d have thought so, too. But Lustig’s explanation of the enzymatic pathways and toxic effects is both detailed and convincing.

  17. >it isn’t actually that hard to cut back to historical levels (or below).

    I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. It’s easy for me – I’m finding, now that I’m paying attention to ingredients lists, that moderate consumption of things like hot chocolate and lemonade can fit under the 50-gram-a-day limit, and that’s as much as I actually want. Giving up on apple juice or cider with most of my meals is the big change, and I’m OK with having water with a bit of lime juice or lemon instead. (By contrast, if I had to give up meat or eggs, that would be brutally hard for me.)

    But most people observably have much more craving for sweets than I do. Otherwise the atrocities on most restaurant menus wouldn’t make sense. Death by sugar and bad chocolate and sticky-icky fruit syrup and and more sugar…gaaah, one slice of a typical American restaurant dessert is more sugar than I want to eat in a week. For the people for whom those deserts are made Lustig’s prescription will be hard work.

  18. @Jeremy Bowers:

    > nobody will actually tell you to eat more sugar, of any kind

    Good point. BTW, here is something I noticed about wheat recently:

    http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/02/the-china-study-wheat-and-heart-disease-oh-my/

    A few years ago, right before Christmas, in the middle of the eat-baked-foods-till-you-drop season, my toes started tingling badly. Thinking peripheral neuropathy couldn’t be good, I went to see the doctor and they told me my blood sugar was fine. I did some research, found out that a thiamine deficiency could cause this problem, took some thiamine and it cleared up right away. Then I forgot about it.

    Fast-forward 15 months. My sister-in-law came to visit. We went out to eat a lot. Lots of tasty, bottomless restaurant bread bowls. My toes started tingling and then my legs. I had visions of them amputating at the knees. But by now I had my own blood sugar monitor (they’re dirt cheap — it’s a razor/razorblade strategy) and didn’t see any real problems. Well, OK, it’s not as low as it _should_ be, but it’s not in nerve-killing range. After a some research, I found out that thiamine could be a problem — “Oh, yeah, I remember that!” took some supplements, and the problem disappeared literally overnight.

    At this point, it was time to ask myself why I had a thiamine deficiency. After ruling out most of the usual suspects, I was left with celiac disease as a primary suspect. Tests for celiac at the doctor’s were negative, but I cut out wheat anyway. I dropped twenty pounds right away, even though I’m sure my caloric intake didn’t go down, and no more tingling toes.

  19. I second the recommendation for Gary Taubes’s work, particularly Good Calories, Bad Calories, which is probably more academically rigorous than anything actually written by a nutritionist.

    In reading that and some other material, I’ve come to a few tentative conclusions:
    Fructose triggers a temporary state change in the human metabolism. Specifically, fructose has the odd effect of keeping insulin secretion lower than it would be in the presence of an equivalent amount of glucose.
    Fructose is the single most “adipogenic” (fat-inducing) of the nutrients humans usually eat. In addition to its effects on the pancreas, fructose particularly is metabolized only in the liver, where it’s turned immediately into fat for storage.
    The human body treats fructose in a manner that made beautiful biological sense until about a hundred years ago: When a Middle-Ages human ate fructose, it was summer, and food was plentiful. The fructose served as a trigger to tell the human body (which doesn’t share, for example, many other animals’ triggers such as length-of-day) that this was time to eat lots and store the fat for the winter.
    Eating fruit cyclically shouldn’t be a problem so long as one lays off the fructose almost entirely during the winter, although Michael Pollan points out that the fruit we eat today has been bred for a much higher fructose content than that of even two hundred years ago. Consuming fructose on a regular basis year-round, though, most especially in drinks where there isn’t bulk to slow absorption, is probably much of what’s made America fat.

  20. (Eric, it looks like the comment engine interprets UL-LI tags correctly but doesn’t put in bullets. Could you add a link or line describing what HTML will get past it?)

  21. I do wonder about the idea that fruit is dangerous. For how much of the year would fruit have been available for early humans in Africa? Was there winter, or just a dry season?

    Of course, our metabolisms may have changed since then.

    For more recent information, are there people who eat a good bit of fruit, but not HFCS? This seems likely, and their health would be worth looking at.

  22. >I do wonder about the idea that fruit is dangerous.

    Lustig says fruit isn’t. He claims that the amount of fiber in it slows down and reduces digestion of the fruit sugars to the point where they don’t cause serious fructose loading (I guess he’s assuming normal rates of consumption).

    I suspect this is an oversimplification. Modern fruits breeds have a much higher sugar content than the wild fruits we co-evolved with; it’s not outside the bounds of possibility that they’re dangerous.

  23. @esr:

    Modern fruits breeds have a much higher sugar content than the wild fruits we co-evolved with; it’s not outside the bounds of possibility that they’re dangerous.

    I used to think that. Now I’m not so sure (although I don’t doubt that some modern fruits have fewer things that are good for us):

    http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/05/31/wild-and-ancient-fruit/

  24. There was another tidbit in Lusting’s talk: eat more fiber.

    I took this advice to heart about 2 months ago. On the surface it means to eat more vegetables, but in practice it meant rationing my meat intake in order to force myself to make up the calories with vegetables.

    Another lifestyle change that will burn off calories with very little time investment: get a standing desk. Standing burns about 30-60 calories per hour compared to sitting. Over a work week, that’s 0.25-0.5 lb weight loss. You can ease into the transition to a standing desk by getting a bar height chair.

  25. @hsu:

    Except that “burning off calories” is pretty much the one single approach known not to work for fat loss. In particular, if you burn off 100 Calories above your usual output, your appetite will typically increase by more than that. Fat management appears to be primarily hormonally driven in humans just like it is in other mammals—and fructose and insulin-triggering carbs seem to screw up our metabolic hormones just like cocaine screws up our neurotransmitters.

  26. Every day after school, I ate a supersized package of Skittles, accompanied by a real Coke. I had a sweet tooth. It does take time to get over it, I don’t mean to minimize that, but it is also, in the grand scheme of things, not that hard. It has been way easier than reliably maintaining an exercise regime. (Though the babies can take a lot of responsibility for that…) But yes, some people are really short on the willpower. At the moment I think teasing apart how hard it is in general, vs. how hard it is in our society where the authorities are telling you it’s not the problem and all the food is full of sugar, etc etc, is very difficult. But it’s an interesting and important question.

    Also, following up the fruit and fiber: One thing that I think he was getting at in his talk is not just that the mere presence of fiber with fructose makes it OK, but that the fructose in the fruit is in the fiber. So as you slowly digest the fiber, you get a trickle of fructose instead of an instant hit, which your body can handle. So just adding fiber to your fruit juice won’t help, if I understand it correctly.

  27. @Jeremy Bowers:

    So just adding fiber to your fruit juice won’t help, if I understand it correctly.

    On the one hand, I think this is somewhat correct, but on the other hand, I think that some kinds of fiber will easily bind to fructose in your gut, even if the fructose didn’t start out in the fiber.

    Also, fiber is another thing that is not an unalloyed good. The right amount of fiber to take varies by individual, and too much fiber can definitely cause problems.

  28. @Patrick Maupin
    Standing vs sitting is really trading the risks of standing vs the risks of sitting. The standing risks all are related to problems of being active, while the sitting risks are related to problems of being inactive. Basically, choose your poison – I choose to stand.

    In addition, you can mitigate the risks by performing the opposite activity. For a standing desk, that means getting a bar height chair, which allows you to both sit or stand at the same desk. However, a person with a standard, sitting desk is stuck – they cannot stand at their desk and still get work done, so they won’t stand often.

    @Christopher Smith
    Lustig actually covers exercise at the end of his video (about 1:11:15 into the video), and one of the points he makes is that exercise causes you to eat less, which is the exact opposite point that you made.

  29. I can only give you my experience so far. I cut out grains, and severely limit sugar and starch intake. I eat meat and vegetables, along with eggs and some fruit. I still consume dairy. I also use a whey protein supplement.

    I did this because my father and uncle developed type 2 diabetes. Granted they developed this at a very old age and my uncle lived into his late 80′s, but still.

    Result: I lost 30 lbs in about 4 months. I was not fat..but now I am lean and muscular. I have more muscle than when I was 18. I’m 39 now. The results have been sudden and undeniable. I feel great. I have more energy than I ever had and wear the same pants I did in college.

    The most amazing thing is I do not have to eat regularly. If it is inconvenient to eat, I just skip a meal. I could never do that before. I had a sugar crash and HAD to eat.

    As you continue along this path your tastes will change. I can’t stand sweets now. A carrot tastes like candy. If I fall off the wagon and eat something I shouldn’t the results are enough to keep me on track….you’ll see what I mean…

    Cheese cake with about 1/3 the sugar is really good. There are a lot of deserts with a high fat content and some fruit that are quite good without lots of sugar. You don’t have to totally give up on the good stuff. Just change the recipe. You can use nut flour to make acceptable substitutes for a lot of things.

    Welcome on board. It takes about 3 weeks to get fully sorted out. The first week is the worst. Be prepared to have at least 3X the energy…..oh…and…well…there is the libido thing…..

  30. I read the NY Times Magazine article back in April, and it really had me scared – for two whole weeks. As Mr. Dooley said, “We Americans are the greatest people in the world for reform…for the short distance.” (Then we get tired of the whole thing.) After two weeks of watching what I ate, I was back to drinking Coke and downing M&Ms again.

    If you watch what you eat, and cut out the delicious stuff, go to bed early, don’t smoke or drink, get plenty of exercise, etc., etc……you won’t live any longer; it’ll just seem that way.

  31. My Achilles heel on low carb diets is pizza, otherwise I think they’re great.

  32. >Eric, do you have ideas about how you can tell whether eating less fructose is better for you than your previous amount?

    I’d expect both some weight loss and some decrease in appetite. I’m not expecting anything dramatic on either dimension, as I’m not seriously overweight to begin with.

  33. Eric,

    I lost 15 lbs. within 6 weeks earler this year by cutting out most processed carb consumption out of my diet.

    Instead of drinking orange juice for breakfast, eating an orange and drinking water works exceptionally well.

    The result has been going from 15% to below 10% in body fat. Shocked the hell out of me at my age.

  34. Another interesting book to read is Gina Kolata’s “Rethinking Thin”. I highly recommend it.

    Guaranteed to help you shatter what’s left of the idea that being overweight is a simple cause of calories in vs. calories out, and to show you just how hard it is for many people to lose weight and keep it off even in experimental programs with close monitoring.

  35. “Guaranteed to help you shatter what’s left of the idea that being overweight is a simple cause of calories in vs. calories out”

    Yup – I’ve become a believer in “good calories, bad calories.” At my age exercise stopped having an effect on weight loss.

  36. You’ve identified my model for the simultaneous optimization of CTR (ratio of clicks to views of ads) and CR (conversion ratio of visitors to sales).

    This should once sufficiently ubiquitous, make it impossible for any entity (e.g. a blog owner) to censor or centralize the control over comments, because the comments (CR refinement) will continue into the social cloud.

    Does this present a conflict of interest for Google, because if the social cloud is truly open, then how does it not eventually reduce the leverage to charge rents on advertising matching? Or does it increase the volume of ad spending (higher ROI for advertisers) and reward the business model with economy-of-scale for the cloud servers? Why wouldn’t something like Amazon’s commodity server model win over Google’s smart servers model?

    As information becomes more tailored to smaller groups, then P2P storage becomes less viable (unless we want to pay a huge bandwidth premium to store data on peers that don’t use it), because there isn’t enough redundancy of storage in your peer group, so it appears server farms are not going away. The bifurcating tree network topology is thermodynamically more efficient than the fully connected mesh (e.g. the brain is not a fully connected mesh, each residential water pipe doesn’t connect individually to the main pumping station, etc).

    P.S. I have become less concerned about the vulnerability (especially to fascist govt) of centralized storage, because as the refinement of data becomes more free market (individualized), it becomes more complex when viewed as a whole, thus the attackers will find it more challenging to impact parts without impacting themselves. Thus it appears to me the commodity server model wins, i.e. less intelligence in the server farm, and more in the virtual cloud.

  37. Eric, I’m entertained. I pointed you at the Lustig video last fall via email. You’d commented back to me on it at the time saying it looked like it merited further digging.

  38. “Except that “burning off calories” is pretty much the one single approach known not to work for fat loss.”

    Actually, it works differently.

    By being active, you grow muscles. Muscles need calories just to stay intact. So you burn more calories. And while being active, you tend to eat less. Which tends to lower calorie intake. So if you are able to keep your food intake constant or somewhat lower, growing muscle is a way to lose fat. And for most people more activity would be better, irrespective of weight(-loss).

    Over here in Europe the new health policy is that all calories are equal. However, not all foodstuffs are equal. So if you exhaust your calorie allowance while missing an important ingredient (say, unsaturated fats), you will either have to eat more calories or get a deficiency disease.

    In general, it seems the population can life a healthy life with much less meat and diary products and much more plant materials in original “packaging”.

  39. @ErikZ whole grain wheat pizza with raw milk cheese and unprocessed toppings should moderate your appetite, because whole foods satisfy the cravings and don’t drive the insulin levels sky high. These roller-coaster insulin levels destroy the internal organs. All forms of food processing are disastrous to health. Don’t reduce, eliminate entirely sugar, caffeine, and foods not in their natural form. I speak from my own experience, 46 going on 26. Very difficult to find in many places in the USA a whole fish with head, eyeballs, skin, and bone (and eat all parts of it). Grab a carrot, raw broccoli, fruit, nuts for snacks. Initially the taste may be too strong, but soon you will love it. People have been just recently conditioned by the industrial age to dislike food– the stuff we ate for eons.

    @Winter agreed that muscle mass is the key. No effort, no reward.

  40. >Eric, I’m entertained. I pointed you at the Lustig video last fall via email. You’d commented back to me on it at the time saying it looked like it merited further digging.

    If so, I must not have actually watched it at the time. I would not have forgotten the enzyme-pathway stuff.

    I did think of you when I saw it – I remembered some discussion we had had about the seven-nations study.

  41. > So if you are able to keep your food intake constant or somewhat lower, growing muscle is a way to lose fat.

    That’s a big “if”, and Gary Taubes is probably the most articulate of the large number of people claiming that exercise and building muscle serve to work up the appetite.

    > And for most people more activity would be better, irrespective of weight(-loss).

    Absolutely no disagreement there; it’s simply that the health benefits are derived from pathways that aren’t closely linked to energy expenditure per se.

  42. @Shelby:
    > All forms of food processing are disastrous to health.

    What is this “processing” of which you speak? It seems to be a term often used in advertising and advocacy, but I can’t find a meaningful definition for it – apart from the far-too-vague “anything that gets done to food that I think may be harmful”.

  43. I’m surprised no-one has mentioned Mark Sisson: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ . His book is excellent and the website is always informative. He takes a very studies-and-evidence based approach to primal/paleo living.

  44. Here are the metabolic triggers I am aware of.

    1) Drinking anything sweet – even if artificially sweetened – will trigger a surge of insulin.

    2) Eating anything with animal fats will tend to satiate faster with fewer calories.

    3) Eat your carbohydrates in forms that take longer to digest; the usual beef about “processed” foods is that processing removes the fiber that mitigates digestive uptake. Anything that says “bleached” or “white” as an adjective for grain products is probably suspect.

    4) Anything that triggers moderate amounts of muscle building releases androgens. Androgens are also one of the cues your body uses for “OK, time to burn fat.” This is triply important for women, who produce much less testosterone than men and tend to have higher body fat percentages because it. Insofar as my research has shown, it’s androgen production that does the bulk of the work in weight loss.

    5) You are better off eating 5 meals at about 350 calories per day, spaced evenly, than 3 meals at 400, 600 and 1000 calories, which is the typical US diet.

    6) Genetics matters a lot.

    7) Eat a small meal (150 calories) with complex carbs 30-45 minutes before a workout, and a slightly larger meal (200 calories) of mostly fats, salts and protein about 30-45 minutes after a workout. Make your workouts high tempo and resistance based. You want to feel just past out of breath and overheated, and “sore in a good way” after a workout. If you eat carbs in that window after a workout, your body will punish you.

    8) Carb cycling. I regulate my diet with a pattern of low carb, low carb, high carb, no carb days (where low is roughly 1 g per 5 lbs of body mass, no is under 10 g, and high is about 1 g per lb of body mass). The trick here is that you a) want a periodic high carb day where you can “cheat”. This also prevents your body from building up expectations on certain macronutrient levels as a baseline.

  45. James M,

    “Processing” means almost any industrial treatment of food. Industrial treatment is bad because Big Food doesn’t care about your health. They care about increasing output, artificial preservation, and increasing marketability by artificially enhancing taste or color. The only good food is fresh, locally produced, organic food.

  46. Jeff Read Says: “Processing” means almost any industrial treatment of food.

    Al alternative definition might be “anything that makes the food different than how it originally came from the farm/field”. There are a few exceptions (e.g. the cooking of meat) but not many.

  47. Ken,

    “Anything that triggers moderate amounts of muscle building releases androgens. Insofar as my research has shown, it’s androgen production that does the bulk of the work in weight loss.”

    I know a guy who was rather fattish (not obese) at 15 and turned into a rather good looking fellow by 17 only by weight-lifting and nothing else, no dietary change, no cardio. He always told people “Well I just worked all that fat into muscle” and then of course everybody who knows a little bit about these things told him he was wrong, the primary component to weight loss is diet, the secondary is some exercise just to keep up the body metabolism and not enter starvation mode, but generally you cannot really burn that much calories by doing 4-6 hours of exercise a week, and generally forget the concept of calorie burning through exercise unless you want to run 4 hours a day, and weight lifting isn’t even a good way of calorie burning. Basically all these experts thought weight is all about calorie intake, metabolic rate, and calorie usage, a simple balance sheet way of thinking. Now if testosterone plays an important part too, then it might be that this guy was in a sense right. In my only siginifact weight loss success (20 kg during 5 months in 2002) an extreme diet (breakfast – 1 cup of yoghurt, lunch – 1 cup of yoghurt, dinner – quarter chicken breast, no side), weight lifting, and cardio all played roughly equal roles.

  48. Shenpen: I’ve a friend who shifted to a low-carb-ish diet, and to resistance training, and has lost about 15 kg in 3 months. I am effectively their diet/exercise coach via Skype. It may not be androgens – it could be something else entirely – but the major benefits of sustained aerobic workouts are increasing your heart-lung capacity, not weight loss, and keeping your activity up on your non-lifting days.

    This is still a great benefit. But cardio workouts are fucking boring.

  49. > Industrial treatment is bad because Big Food doesn’t care about your health.

    This is false, because it is simplified to the point of madness.

    > The only good food is fresh, locally produced, organic food.

    This is also false, for the same reason.

    Industrial food is generally better for the environment because it takes less resources, which you can generally tell because it costs less. There are plenty of exceptions.

    Food which costs too much is not good.

    In addition, some of the processing is to kill germs. That’s good.

    It’s OK to promote fresh, locally produced, organic food, but let’s not overdo it.

    Yours,
    Tom

  50. “Industrial food is generally better for the environment because it takes less resources, which you can generally tell because it costs less. There are plenty of exceptions.”

    Actually, you can’t tell anything from food prices, which are enormously distorted by farm subsidies.

  51. Industrial food is generally better for the environment because it takes less resources

    This is false, because it is simplified to the point of madness.

    The price of food is a one-dimensional aggregate of everything expended to produce and distribute it: land, water, time, fertilizers, pesticides, petroleum to operate the farming machinery and the delivery trucks to take it to your grocer, feed, housing, and growth hormone for livestock, good ol’ human labor, etc. All are reflected in the price yet only some, when expended, have a severely negative effect on the environment.

    And that’s not even getting into the farm subsidies Cathy mentioned, were it not for which all food would be more expensive in a manner commensurate with inflation.

    Oh, and cheap food lasts only as long as cheap oil does. That’s running out too, so you have that to think about as well.

  52. @Jeff Read:
    > Industrial treatment is bad because Big Food doesn’t care about your health.

    Sorry, “industrial treatment” is just as meaningless a term as “processed”. I can apply a huge range of cooking or preserving techniques to food in my own home, and nobody will disparage that at all. But apply almost exactly the same techniques in a factory, possibly modified out of necessity for large scale production, and that suddenly makes “bad food”? I don’t think so.

    If you haven’t already read this article, take a look at
    http://sun025.sun.ac.za/portal/page/portal/Health_Sciences/English/Departments/Biomedical_Sciences/MEDICAL_PHYSIOLOGY/Essays/junk-food
    for a similar explanation as to why the term “junk food” is meaningless, although I would personally disagree with the definition that he concludes.

  53. Sorry, “industrial treatment” is just as meaningless a term as “processed”. I can apply a huge range of cooking or preserving techniques to food in my own home, and nobody will disparage that at all. But apply almost exactly the same techniques in a factory, possibly modified out of necessity for large scale production, and that suddenly makes “bad food”? I don’t think so.

    “Processing” isn’t about what you and industry both do to food, it’s about what industry does to food that you don’t.

  54. Cathy,

    > Actually, you can’t tell anything from food prices, which are enormously distorted by farm subsidies.

    I said costs but I was too brief. I meant cost of production, not cost to the consumer.

    Jeff,

    > This is false, because it is simplified to the point of madness.

    No, it’s not. I qualified my statements with the word generally. You used the word only. Big, big difference.

    > All are reflected in the price yet only some, when expended, have a severely negative effect on the environment.

    Price = human activity = effect on the environment. Do not put the words “severely negative” into my mouth.

    > Oh, and cheap food lasts only as long as cheap oil does.

    Nope. We had cheap food before we had cheap oil and we will have it after.

    > That’s running out too, so you have that to think about as well.

    Is not.

    Yours,
    Tom

  55. 1. Industrial scale economy-of-scale benefits can be orthogonal to benefits of whole food, e.g. uncracked whole wheat grain can be stored up to 25 years and is used as a store-of-value, but cracked grain or ground flour can not be stored long. (brown rice can not be stored, but white rice can)

    2. Germs can be symbiotic, e.g. antibiotics destroy the bacteria we need in our digestive tract. Kids that eat dirt may have more educated immune systems. Salmonella outbreak for example, might be caused by industrial storage and density.

    3. There must be knowledge (i.e. trial&error, cultural adaptation, genetic evolution) built into the natural food and human methods that developed over long periods of time. I offer the analogy of the facade of a Hollywood set. The fractal complexity of nature is not necessarily represented in the models we might apply to approximate nature, i.e. taking vitamins versus eating whole foods. My knowledge of chemistry is limited to a distant Chem101 class, yet if I remember correctly, whole foods have enzymes, amino acids, and probably other components, which are destroyed or altered by processing, including high heat, storage, cracking the shell, etc..

    4. Androgenic (and implicitly muscle mass) effects of exercise are the key. A can of tuna pre-meal is more effective in driving intensity of workout. I speak from the experience of “inexplicably” sending my recent onset of neuropathy (which has a scary prognosis) into remission by ramping up my intense workouts again. By intense, I mean mixed mode, boxing or sprinting interleaved with barbell and calisthenics, cycling the elevated heart rate anaerobically. Whereas, when I slack off for a month or more, there is a negative transformation of my waist line, overall body structure, youthful vigor, skin tone, libido, hip strength, etc..

    5. I do sporadic aerobic exercise, but this is mostly to provide a base from which to elevate my anaerobic performance. I find aerobic less boring when I am jogging in the mountains where there varied sights such as the native kids joking or joining, and then I end a 5 – 10 km run with 0.5 km at 15 – 30% incline up a steep mountain, so that I have a challenge at the end to keep it interesting. This releases endorphins so I am floating in a cloud the rest of the day or evening, which provides the subconscious motivation for the challenge.

  56. > I know a guy who was rather fattish (not obese) at 15 and turned into a rather good looking fellow by 17 only by weight-lifting and nothing else, no dietary change, no cardio.

    This was probably a combination of the fact that his body was undergoing massive preprogrammed remodeling anyway and the effects of (particularly high-intensity) resistance training, which appears to activate GLUT4 expression on muscle cells, which sensitizes them to insulin and helps direct blood glucose into muscle instead of fat.

  57. Jeff Read said: “Processing” isn’t about what you and industry both do to food, it’s about what industry does to food that you don’t.

    Well, that’s convenient. It means “whatever the BADENTITY does”, not “what the word means in every other usage”.

    What do you have in mind for this bad processing, and how can we tell it apart from good processing, and how do we know it’s bad?

  58. Jeff Read said: “’Processing’ isn’t about what you and industry both do to food, it’s about what industry does to food that you don’t.”

    Sigivald said: “Well, that’s convenient. It means ‘whatever the BADENTITY does’, not “what the word means in every other usage”.”

    Have you seen the documentary “King Corn”, made on a low budget by a couple of indie filmmakers? Among other things, they actually made HFCS in their kitchen!

  59. Have you tried mixing your juice 50-50 with mineral water? Results vary between types of juice, but for example with lemonade it’s very tasty indeed.

  60. I was rather obese and fattish at 15, and turned into a goodish looking guy at 17 by changing nothing at all!

    … unless you count adding a few inches to the height total.

    Subsequently, I was a rather obese and fattish 19.

  61. Processing is used as a catchall term for foods because the net effect of most of our processing is to make foods easier to digest by breaking down various big molecules into smaller ones through a wide variety of processes and across a wide variety of molecule sorts. This includes things like various complex nutrients, which get broken down into uninteresting amino acids or whatever other uninteresting components they were made of, and thinks like converting complex starches to simple ones or even sugars. Perhaps counterintuitively, making these things easier to digest actually causes us a lot of problems because we can’t actually handle the entire food entering the bloodstream at once.

    The remainder of the “bad processing” is taking things that are digestable, and turning them into things that aren’t easily digestable by bacteria, which not-very-counterintuitively at all simultaneously makes them not necessarily a good idea for us, either, since we really are all running on the same basic biology. Think things like preservatives or transfats.

    I will admit I am also sometimes frustrated by people who wave around the phrase “processed food” in much the same way that people wave the word “unnatural” around in non-food contexts and expect us to simply leap to the conclusion that the thing is bad based solely on the use of the word, but in fairness I have to admit that in this case it’s not so much that it “contains a kernel of truth” as that it contains a kernel of falseness. As snap judgments go, it’s one of the more accurate ones.

    And I would quibble with some elements of the snap judgment; for instance, given our race’s history with food spoilage and the damage it can wreak, mostly forgotten today, I’m inclined to say that even if some preservatives may slightly promote cancer in some ways that many preservatives are still a net win, for instance. But still, processing food ? bad is more reliable than unnatural ? bad.

  62. @Christopher Smith:
    > Except that “burning off calories” is pretty much the one single approach known not to work for fat loss. In particular, if you burn off 100 Calories above your usual output, your appetite will typically increase by more than that.

    This assumes that you allow your appetite to drive your eating. But if you know that your appetite is miscalibrated (which mine certainly is), why rely on it? Why not actually measure your weight and the calories you consume on a daily basis, and use the data to tell you what your “equilibrium” level of eating is, regardless of what your appetite is telling you?

    I discovered this approach in John Walker’s The Hacker’s Diet, which is online here:

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/

    I don’t do everything exactly as he describes, but I agree with his basic idea, which is what I summed up above. I’ve lost about 40 pounds in the past year.

  63. I remember some time ago a claim that sugar was a cause of some of the debilitating symptoms of aging. It seems that sugar molecules were ‘decorating’ the peptide chains of our protein molecules and interfering with their proper functioning. Has there been more on this, or has this other anti-sugar accusation sunk back below the noise level?

  64. LS,

    It’s called glycation, and it will mess your body up. You don’t hear about it anymore because America dhrugged its collective shoulders and said “eh, whatever, GIMME MORE CAKE”.

    If the First Lady wants to get anywhere with her anti-obesity campaign, perhaps the most effective thing she could do is pressure Congress into imposing Pigovian taxes on sugar or sugar-containing products (including HFCS). It really is that bad for you, and we should treat it like we do similar bad-for-you things, like tobacco.

  65. Well, thank goodness for google+. Without it, who would have thought that, as recently as 1972, the professor of nutrition John Yudkin published a book called “Pure, White and Deadly”, outlining his views on the dangers of sugar, or would have even realised that there had been research on the matter ever since? Lustig’s contribution, as a certified wackjob, seems to be to rant on about the dangers of fructose, as opposed to glucose, even though pretty much everything ends up as glucose in the bloodstream anyway.

    But at least we have eric raymond, who claims to know a fair bit about biochemistry, physiology, and related fields, along with everything else, to tell us what the facts of the matter are.

    Morons.

  66. I have been checking out the fructose debate. The defenders of fructose, the people who say Lustig is an anti scientific crank say that it is OK for an adult male to consume 50 grams a day. Lustig says 19 grams. Average American consumption is fifty grams a day, so average American male consumption probably a bit higher.

  67. Mr. Read:

    Instead of (ab)using the big guns of government to force people to do what you think is good for them (eat less sugar, eat less fat, stop buggering each other, go to church on sunday, whatever), why don’t you just remove the existing distortions to the market? HFCS exists because it’s cheaper than cane sugar. It’s cheaper than cane because we have price supports on cane sugar. Shut down whatever idiot fucking department it is that published the food pyramid or the circle or whatever other idiot tomfoolery they have now and stop putting the gloved fist of government behind what is basically a political/philosophical position.

    As for processed food. Think of this–which burns faster, a log, or sawdust? Yup. Surface area. The more you grind down the food–the finer the pieces–the faster it gets processed in the stomach and intestines. I disagree that you should eat 5-6 small meals a day, I think you should eat 2-3 large ones, but of the kinds of food that take a long time to digest. Meat, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

    And yes, Pizza is generally my one big problem with a wheatless diet. We tried doing the gluten free thing, and it just wasn’t right. So once a week I eat some pizza.

    If it kills me, it’s worth it. It’s *Pizza*.

    Gottlob:

    I realize this is hard for some people to believe, but when you’ve been around 40 or 50 years, you’ve had time to read lots of things about lots of things. If you aren’t a peasant, and have a functioning brain, you MIGHT be able to learn a thing or two about areas of interest outside of what your Lord or Master pays you for. If you are a peasant, then you go home and watch WWF[1].

    I’ve been following/studying diet and exercise for a long time now, and the more you dig, the harder it gets to short shit out. What is absolutely certain is that it is complicated:

    * Genetics plays a role. Some genes allow one to eat more wheat, some more meat. Some make you produce more cholesterol, some higher insulin for the same amount of sugar.

    * Gut bacteria play a huge role.

    * It’s not what you eat, it’s what you absorb, so gut bacterial plus genetics plus pre-mastication processing.

    * Most folks focus too much on macro nutrients–Carbs, Fats, Proteins–and not enough on the micro-nutrients and the balances between them. I suspect that we not only eat until we’re fully, but that our bodies are after certain vitamins and minerals or whatever, and we eat until our bodies think they have enough of that. Since a lot of micro-nutrients are in saturated fats and we eat lots of low fat foods…

    * Stephan Guyenet (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/) did his Ph.D in Neurobiology and studies the neurobiology of body fat regulation. He presents a good case that Taubes is at least partially wrong about the science behind “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html). He also makes a case that obesity is at least partially a leptin signaling issue, and partially a “rewards” issue (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/06/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity_28.html is the last if the series and sums it up).

    All the evidence I’ve read suggests that if you are “normal” and just want to live a “normal” life, moderate consumption of minimally processed foods (by which I mean stuff that when you buy it looks a LOT like what it looked like when it was in the ground or on the hoof) and moderate amounts of varied exercise will probably keep you functioning comfortably for a long time. Me? I’m not normal, and I’m not interested in a normal life. This makes things harder. I’m also lacking in self discipline, which is why I had McDonalds for dinner and will now go get a cider and some chocolate.

  68. What I tend to look at are accounts by weight lifters and athletes, contrasted with fitness models and fashion models.

    The typical weight lifter and body builder getting ready for a show spends 8-12 weeks building muscle mass, eating a lot of small meals throughout the day and carefully timing carb intake and protein intake around their exercise programs. In this phase, they do low carb days of about 60 g of carbs and high carb days of around 150-200 g. This is called “bulking”.

    When it’s 3 weeks before the show, they “cut” – they switch from a diet where they about half the carb intakes on their low carb days and do about 60 g on their high carb days, and they change their workouts from muscle building to maintenance. And they drop a significant percentage of their body fat.

    When it’s about a week before the show, they shift their diet to more fiber rich foods and do muscle ‘destroying’ workouts to trigger androgen production for that last bit of cosmetic bulk and to remove the last half percentage of body fat. Or, more commonly, they take supplements that mimic androgens or replace androgens.

    It’s probably the largest control group study on the effect of diet and resistance training on healthy individuals in the country.

    Genetics matter a lot.

    Fashion and fitness models do similar routines, but at lower intensity…and then add controlled burn fasting rather than “muscle destroyer” exercises, as their needs at the end are different.

    Short form – the models on fitness magazine covers (or in fashion magazines), look that good about two weeks out of 12. They get used because the imagery hits many of the ‘fitness cues’ we’re wired to find attractive. The industry that says “Buy our crap and you’ll look this good all the time…” is lying to everyone.

  69. Surprised nobody has mentioned gut bacteria yet. They do a significant amount of digestion for you, and … they can be trained.

    When they start eating fructose, however, it doesn’t get absorbed nice and easy, it ferments. This leads to all sorts of unpleasantness like bloating, pain and gassiness.

  70. Instead of (ab)using the big guns of government to force people to do what you think is good for them (eat less sugar, eat less fat, stop buggering each other, go to church on sunday, whatever),

    Okay, fine. Jack up the insurance premiums on big sugar consumers. They’ll think twice about reaching for that Coke if it means their premium doubles.

    HFCS exists because it’s cheaper than cane sugar. It’s cheaper than cane because we have price supports on cane sugar. Shut down whatever idiot fucking department it is that published the food pyramid or the circle or whatever other idiot tomfoolery they have now and stop putting the gloved fist of government behind what is basically a political/philosophical position.

    HFCS itself isn’t really the problem. HFCS and cane sugar are roughly equivalent in terms of calorie content and health effects.

    What we’re discovering is that they are both insanely bad for you, and that there’s no reason why anyone should eat any sugar that didn’t come in freshly picked fruit. Entire industries have grown up around satisfying our craving for sweet things, exploiting vulnerabilities in our system, just like the tobacco industry. Social disincentivization has worked remarkably well for smoking; we should start doing it for sugar as well.

  71. gottlob, you’re mischaracterizing the debate. For literally my entire life and 10-15 years before it, the authorities have been pounding on fat and Puritanesque gluttony as the source of the problem. If you’re going to wave around people who believed sugar and refined starches cause weight loss, Taubes documents sources that come from the 19th century; John Yudkin wasn’t even remotely the earliest source. Taubes also makes a convincing case that the “common wisdom” about obesity before the 1960s is pretty much what we are laboriously rediscovering now.

    I don’t know if esr is being gentle or if he hasn’t read over the totality of the evidence, but barring some course change in diet this entire mess is going to be one of the most powerful arguments in favor of libertarianism ever made. Governments spent decades telling people to kill themselves over a diet that has never actually been supported by the evidence without a heavy government-funded distorting hand. Arguably “Good Calories, Bad Calories”‘s most important and novel contribution isn’t even the dietary claims it makes but the extensive historical documentation of how we got from everybody knowing sugar and starches make you fat to everybody “knowing” that it’s caused by fat. (It’s also one of the most reliable ways to tell if someone has actually read it, if they just blankly look at you when you ask them about that section because they assume the entire book was about just the dietary issues.)

  72. >I don’t know if esr is being gentle or if he hasn’t read over the totality of the evidence, but barring some course change in diet this entire mess is going to be one of the most powerful arguments in favor of libertarianism ever made.

    I’m aware of this. Government diet advice has not merely been wrong, it has been perversely bad. And for the exact reason any libertarian would expect: capture of the advisors by industry lobbies.

  73. I think dietary science is full of shit, including the supposed heretics. Nobody knows what humans are best evolved to eat. This whole unfortunate debate is based upon a rationalistic theory-first approach to decision making. It’s not rocket science that fruit, vegetables and meat are good for you. One needs only to know that these things have been consumed for hundreds of thousands of years to know that they’re a good solution. Humans have also been eating bread for (less) thousands of years, so it is reasonable to consume bread on a what-works-for-me basis. Consumption of large quantities of refined sugar is a modern invention, and people have long known sugar was rubbish simply because it rotted your teeth. Look for counter-examples and consequences, not truth.

  74. Jeff Read,

    > Social disincentivization has worked remarkably well for smoking

    It’s the legal disincentivization that cranks my starter. I’m not a smoker. I don’t like cigarette smoke. But we need to leave smokers alone more than we do. It’s ridiculous to make it illegal to smoke outdoors.

    > we should start doing it for sugar as well.

    I would rather we leave people alone. Unlike cigarette smoke, my consumption of sugar does not mess up the environment of my fellow humans.

    Yours,
    Tom

  75. Hey William

    O. B’Livion is a cool surname.

    Re your comment:

    I’ve been around for over 57 years, and have had time to read lots of things, including Yudkin’s book when it first came out. He was considered a crank at the time, albeit a respectable crank. (On the topic of respectable cranks, does anyone remember Herbert Dingle?) I’ve seen so many flip-flops on medical topics in my life that I entirely agree with you that the more you dig, the harder it gets to short shit out. Also, it is complicated. What is completely ludicrous is the idea that Google+ constitutes a revolution, apart from the way in which it allows morons to promulgate simplistic garbage, and get other morons to believe them. But then, the internet already did that. So what exactly has changed?

  76. “Be careful about what you read in health books – you might die of a misprint.”

    – Mark Twain

  77. I mostly stopped eating carbs and sugars a few years ago, and lost 20 pounds within a few months — and have stayed at a pretty constant weight since. As for the “weakness for pizza” that some people are citing as an obstacle — try scraping the cheese, tomato sauce, and toppings off and eating that, leaving the crust behind. Works for me. Kind of wasteful, I know. But better wasteful than waist-ful!

  78. What’s interesting is to look at Michael Pollan, who can write a detailed description of the effects of regulation on food, and then he assumes that this time regulation can be used to get the food supply right.

    It’s a lot easier to change what you do than the way you do it.

  79. Isn’t it very simple? Most of the comments have agreed, and I concur. Nature made whole foods slower to digest (e.g. fiber, not finely ground to infinite surface area, etc) so we don’t spike our insulin, plaque our liver, etc.. Whole foods satisfy appetite because they contain the complex micro-nutrients our body craves (e.g. amino acids, etc), which processed foods do not. Complex carbs, sugars, fats should not be limited, because our body needs and will regulate these (even the ratios between food groups) signaled by our cravings. To change body form, increase exercise, don’t limit diet. Processed carbs, sugars, and fats should be entirely avoided, as these screw up the feedback mechanism and probably cause the confusion referred to. The appetite feedback loop is out-of-whack when not consuming whole foods, and probably also when not exercising sufficiently. Except for outlier adverse genetics, no one eating only whole foods and exercising, needs to count calories and grams.

    @Tom if the government wasn’t taxing us for the healthcare of those who smoke, and those who breathe their smoke in public venues, then we would be impacted less by their smoking. Probably there would be less smokers if government wasn’t subsidizing their health care and lower job performance, so then the nuisance for us non-smokers would also be mitigated.

    @gottlob Isn’t social media a revolution in information targeting, i.e. fitness, which is orthogonal to the “quality of demand” to which you refer?

    Tangentially, I also think that knowledge will soon become fungible money (and I don’t mean anything like BitCoin, of which I am highly critical), in the form of compositional programming modules, which will change the open source model from esr’s gift to an exchange economy. Remember from esr’s recent blog, my comment was that software engineering is unique in that it is used by all the others, and it is never static, and thus is a reasonable proxy for (fundamental of) broad based knowledge. I suggest a broader theory, that the industrial age is dying, which is why we see the potential for billions unemployed. But the software age is coming up fast to the rescue. Open source is a key step, but I don’t think the gift economy contains enough relative market value information to scale it to billions of jobs.

    @Ken doesn’t genetics matter at the extremes of desired outcome or adverse genetics, where whole foods and reasonable level of physical activity is sufficient for most, e.g. some fat is desirable and necessary normally?

  80. Roger Phillips,

    My first instinct with the “primal lifestyle” folks is to consider them driven more by a sense of self-righteousness than scientific justification. I think of “going primal” as more like “going Geico” (think “hipster cavemen”). Until you’re running down springbok on the savannah and spearing their hearts with your own hands, you’re not primal.

    Similarly, my first instinct with people who claim to be experts, and who feel it’s necessary to circumvent the usual pathways and have a public soapbox from which to proclaim an alarmist message, is to look for signs of crankhood.

    However, in both cases I also apply a rule of thumb: if the science is sound, who gives a shit? When Climategate dropped it looked to me as if some researchers at one institute had done things that weren’t on the up-and-up. But the science was sound, so I didn’t worry too much about it. Come to find out it was pretty much all fabricated by the usual suspects: oil industry mouthpieces and ignorant right-wingers. But even if their methods were questionable, it would have affected the bulk of climate research not at all, and it is from that preponderance of scientific evidence that we must decide what to do about it if we are reasonable.

  81. >Come to find out it was pretty much all fabricated

    They didn’t fabricate me. I read the emails and saw the fraud and manipulation with my own eyes, thank you. Now there’s been yet another political whitewashing; color me unsurprised.

  82. You can color me surprised. So many of you are so skeptical of AGW, yet you jump on the latest nutrition bandwagon as soon as it gets rolling. It’s the same thing folks! Poor experiments! Theories without evidence! Casades of researchers after grant money! Religious appeals to Nature!

    Maybe we should all stick to open source software, gaming and the smartphone wars…..

  83. Eons of human history of eating is not a sufficient scientific sample for whole foods, given the correlation of relatively recent radical increases in heart disease and cancer rates? I understand correlation is not foolproof, but is it rational to characterize such strong historical correlation as “Religious appeals to Nature” or “latest nutrition bandwagon”?

    There was a pre-industrial era study that filipinos who ate a diet rich in virgin coconut oil had slim bodies and never heart disease nor diabetes. We were told in the west, probably with much “science” and “data”, that the tropical oils are unhealthy. I rationally trust what worked well for eons and is working well for me.

    I am both an anaerobic and aerobic athlete (american football, track & field, sprinter and middle-distance runner, body builder, boxing, etc), and I detect a nearly instantaneous difference in my health between eating whole and processed foods, and even worse for the addictive drugs of sugar and caffeine. Perhaps non-athletes are numb to such a feedback loop. My experience concurs with Ken Burnside’s comment that an athlete who is on that knife edge of maximum muscle mass to fat ratio, fine-tunes to obtain a peak result and thus is very in tune with even the minute effects of food. Not being cranky, rather to draw an analogy, those who can’t build, pontificate, theorize, test their theories, and collect “data”. Reality is code with widespread successful uptake. Programming a diet no less so.

  84. > Come to find out it was pretty much all fabricated

    This article made me think of a line from Guys and Dolls, where the big-time gambler from out of town explains to the Salvation Army that he can’t possibly be a criminal because of his record: “thirty-three arrests, and no convictions.”

  85. You can color me surprised. So many of you are so skeptical of AGW, yet you jump on the latest nutrition bandwagon as soon as it gets rolling.

    It is personally beneficial to be in better shape. If you are not already in very good shape, it behooves you to try something different\ that will help you get into better shape, as long as it seems reasonable.

    And the benefits are not just long term, live longer, type benefits. You get a lot of short term benefits from being in better shape. For example, strangers will be nicer to you as you shed the fat, especially members of the opposite sex. Yes that’s shallow, but initial impressions are, by definition, shallow interactions.

  86. >I mostly stopped eating carbs and sugars a few years ago, and lost 20 pounds within a few months

    I completely quit eating carbs a few years ago for a couple of months and lost no weight at all. On the other hand a couple of decades ago I lost 20 pounds eating a lot of fried potatoes and donuts and drinking lots of whole milk. I think the food composition claims are mostly nonsense.

    >Michael Pollan, who can write a detailed description of the effects of regulation on food, and then he assumes that this time regulation can be used to get the food supply right.

    See Hayek’s last book, The Fatal Conceit. He discusses the problem in the context of politics and macro-economics, but I have observed that it is as true for all the other nonsense (food fads, homeopathy, environmentalism) that leftist academics are prone to.

    >I detect a nearly instantaneous difference in my health

    Can you spell “placebo effect”?

  87. @William B Swift
    Rapid onset of severe peripheral neuropathy is not a “placebo effect”, when I reversed it into remission with diet and exercise. I have been on a life-long transition to whole foods, having been a “pedal to the floor binges” sugar and processed foods addict as a teen. Recently I had to go “all in” or give myself to the doctors and the drug industry.

    Also an athlete such as myself has used metrics such as a stop watch, a scale, a measuring tape, etc.. to measure performance, and can after decades correlate small immediate changes as gradients towards past successful and failure directions attained.

    I can also measure it quickly with insomnia, and lack of energy to keep my brain running at full speed 15 hours a day (the effect is brain fatigue and the body wants to sleep but can’t). I actually hit the wall, where I can’t continue to think if I don’t take in whole foods. Sometimes I don’t take a shower, nor leave the house, for a month and run out of whole foods, then eventually I hit the wall when I can’t sustain my energy level with processed foods, e.g. spaghetti instead of raw broccoli, etc.. Note I don’t use any sugar or caffeine to cover for this, so that my feedback signals are pure.

    How many “scientific” excuses (or statistical “truths”) with those pundits who “talk but who don’t build” come up with before they trust experience of people who are succeeding with diet, and large, historical samples of humanity. Okay that is my last comment in this thread. Thanks for letting me share my opinion. I wish the best for all readers with their diet.

  88. “Eons of human history of eating is not a sufficient scientific sample for whole foods, given the correlation of relatively recent radical increases in heart disease and cancer rates?”

    Eons of what? The people who built Stonehenge put the bones of their dead in caves or chambers cut into rock, so we have lots of their remains to examine. Average age at death in their society (natural, whole foods and all) is about 28. They never lived long enough to develop heart disease or cancer. This remained true for eons. Your selfish genes don’t need you after you’ve reproduced them. A lot of this food business is people superstitiously thinking that, if they just do the right things, they’ll never get sick. They are wrong.

  89. @LS:

    You can color me surprised. So many of you are so skeptical of AGW, yet you jump on the latest nutrition bandwagon as soon as it gets rolling. It’s the same thing folks! Poor experiments! Theories without evidence! Casades of researchers after grant money! Religious appeals to Nature!

    No, it’s not the same thing. Making the personal decision to personally reduce one’s personal intake of fructose is not even close to the same thing as making the political decision to coerce others into reducing their output of greenhouse gases or pay a hefty fee to Al Gore’s Papal Indulgences Carbon Offset Trading Company.

  90. @The Monster:
    The foodies do the same thing. They make the political decision to coerce others into eating the way they do. They remove treats from school vending machines, prohibit which fats the restaurants can fry with, all in the name of making a better world.

    @Shelby:
    The average age at death figures exclude infant mortality. These were people that grew up to adulthood and died. For a very long time in the history of the human race, life *was* “nasty, brutish and short.”
    They ate the “cave man diet” and lots of raw foods. They died young.

  91. >The foodies do the same thing. They make the political decision to coerce others into eating the way they do.

    This is a major reason I can’t identify with foodies, despite appreciating food in the way they do and often finding the sorts of things foodies like appeal to me as well. I refuse to enter in to the snotty, elitist, heavily prescriptive attitude they carry around. Yeah, yeah, I get it about fusion cuisine and artisan chocolate and wild mushrooms, la la la – now stay the fuck out of my face. And everyone else’s.

  92. @LS Upper Paleolithic lived to 54. You are conflating the probably orthogonal issues of a riskier lifestyle with whole food benefits.
    (sorry had to reply, to correct the factual record on historical lifespan)

    @esr agreed and something I need to remember with respect to any topic I want to discuss. I prefer no person nags another person, who hasn’t asked for debate or discussion. A uniform distribution would be worse than boring, imagine everything was the same color. Sometimes it can get lonely, given when my social personality does not fit with most of the foodies nor the hackers, although I eat whole food and do math and programming. I fit more with the football and basketball jocks in terms of my social interests.

  93. Eric,

    If you follow the research closely you’ll find that the real key to life extension is calorie restriction & restricted calorie diet. Eat half as much to live twice as long, the research is corroborated across the Animalia taxonomy (we just have to wait another 100 years for the completion of human trials).

    You’ll need to trigger your starvation reflex to supercharge your telomerase to extend your telomeres to rejuvenate your cells for longer life & additional cycles of replication prior to atrophy.

    I am, as ever,
    With great respect, kind Sir,
    Your willing servant,

    Derek

  94. @LS

    The foodies do the same thing. They make the political decision to coerce others into eating the way they do. They remove treats from school vending machines, prohibit which fats the restaurants can fry with, all in the name of making a better world.

    But if we eat the same food they eat, how will they be able to tell how superior they are to us?

  95. The foodies do the same thing. They make the political decision to coerce others into eating the way they do. They remove treats from school vending machines, prohibit which fats the restaurants can fry with, all in the name of making a better world.

    Obesity has gone up dramatically since the mid-1980s, as has health issues related to obesity (like type 2 diabetes). Are you saying we should do nothing and let it continue? Of course we should be speaking out about it. There is no way that the USA population has become more genetically predisposed to obesity within one generation.

  96. @hsu: the point is that we shouldn’t try force other people to be healthy, i.e. politics is guaranteed failure. Rather than increase socialism, just come out of it and prosper and let each person be an independent actor in a free market that anneals by rewarding knowledge and penalizing ignorance. The alternative is to bind each other in laws (i.e. collectivism), which is futile attempt to create a uniform distribution, which means no competition, no knowledge, and no market annealing. We would just all stuck in one big molasses morass.

  97. “But if we eat the same food they eat, how will they be able to tell how superior they are to us?”

    You can never hope to keep up with the foodies. There’s another fad born every week; it’s sort of like web development tools….

    Now, please pass me the ersatz artificial imitation process cheese product spread substitute…I need my minimum daily requirement of dimethylethylbutlpropylamylphenylisodiamine. (Or, just use its generic name of Kekule’s Nightmare.)

  98. What’s “market annealing”? I hope it’s not the culling of the weak.

  99. @Adrian Smith:
    Some view competition as a zero-sum game, but if that were true then why do the poor (even in the slums of Brazil) of the 21st century have in many aspects a more prosperous life than kings of yore. Unequal distribution creates demand, and demand drives technology. This blog was about a new media technology (social information targeting) that can accelerate demographic-specific relevancy of information.

    Axiom: those who want to protect the weak by forcing uniform distribution of anything, implicitly adopt a zero-sum game (collectivism) and ultimately destroy the very thing they think they are trying to help. This is the Iron Law of Political Economics. For example in the Gibson raid, the 2009 Lacy Act was created to appease domestic wood industry, but that surety now makes every citizen a potential criminal (unintended side-effect orders-of-magnitude worse than the intended “benefit”). (my other interpretation is it is another evidence of the dying industrial age)

    Corollary: be wary of those wolves in sheepskin bearing “gifts” of collective surety, which is in reality the appropriation other people’s resources (i.e. stealing from the collective future).

  100. if that were true then why do the poor (even in the slums of Brazil) of the 21st century have in many aspects a more prosperous life than kings of yore

    Cheap energy, largely.

    Still not clear on what market annealing is, and Google isn’t helping. Is it like encouraging drug legalisation so as to provide more opportunities for the weak to self-euthanise?

  101. Cheap energy, largely.

    Energy doesn’t happen without technology, and technology is driven by demand.

    If everyone was rich, but since rich is a relative quality, no one would be rich. If everything was a single color, then nothing would be that color, because we couldn’t see anything.

    Thus, knowledge can’t exist if there is no diversity, because there is nothing that can change. The world would have to become static, for there to be sustainable uniform distributions. Corollary is that for the world to be static, perfection would be possible, which means the asymptotically infinite cost of 100% coverage of any phenomena would not exist in nature, which disagrees with every science I know of, e.g. evolutionary theory, etc..

    Annealing (see “simulated annealing”) is in the abstract, a generic probabilistic global optimization. It requires many orthogonal experiments and failures in order to not get stuck in a local minima or maxima of the N-dimensional solution space. It is contrasted against for example gradient methods (e.g. Newton’s method), which find local but not global minima or maxima. Generally speaking one does not know what the solution space of a problem is a priori, thus a mathematically closed strategy is not available, and afaik annealing is the only possible global optimization strategy. Esr may want to correct me, if I am overreaching in my conclusion.

  102. No one has *quite* said the words “insulin resistance” in here, though “metabolic syndrome” is pretty close.

    QV.

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