Paleo diet wins races!

A low-carb, high-fat Paleo dieter just won the Western States 100, an ultramarathon through the Sierra Nevadas.

…somewhere in those final 15 miles, Tim Olson opened up an an additional 15 minute gap between himself and all the other runners.  That means, after running 85 miles, he was able to put on a burst of speed at the end of the race, and he finished 15 minutes ahead of his next closest competitor.

Tim Olson finished 15 minutes ahead?

STEVE PHINNEY:  Yes, but more importantly he knocked 21 minutes off the overall time course record.

He beat the course record by 21 minutes! 

STEVE PHINNEY:  That’s correct.  This is all on a low-carb high-fat diet with relatively little of what people call in-race calories.



How to lower your body fat setpoint

Leptin is the chief body fat setpoint regulating hormone. It acts on the hypothalamus region of the brain to control our metabolism, nutrient uptake from food, hunger and satiety signals.

Here is how your normal body regulates fat mass and caloric intake

In normal functioning humans, leptin increases as you begin to overeat, and as fat begins to accumulate. The rise in leptin signals the hypothalamus that enough nutrients have been taken in. The increase in leptin tells your body to slow down the hunger signals, speed up the metabolism, and reduce the absorbtion of nutrients.

Likewise, as you fast or fat mass decreases, leptin also decreases. The hypothalamus notices a lack of leptin, and signals the body to slow down metabolism, increase nutrient uptake, and increase hunger.

Here is how a malfunctioning body regulates fat mass and caloric intake

In poorly functioning humans, such as the obese, the leptin signal is muted, and the hypothalamus has difficulty “hearing” the signal. This causes the body to continue to uptake nutrients, slow metabolism, and increase hunger, until the leptin signal is amplified by a greater fat mass, to the point that the hypothalamus is finally able to “hear” the signal. This is how the malfunctioning body defends an incorrect higher-fat mass.

This is called leptin resistance, or a lack of leptin sensitivity.

What causes leptin resistance at the hypothalamus? Inflammation!

Lowering systemic inflammation in the body, by eating a functional Paleo diet and removing neolithic food toxins, as well as staying away from hyper-palatable high hedonic reward foods, is the best way to “deflame” your body, and bring leptin sensitivity back within a healthy range.

Once you have eliminated inflammation and your hypothalamus is able to accurately read leptin signals, your body will self-regulate to a lower body fat setpoint, making fat loss and body recomposition easier.

On a Diet to Lose Weight? Most of What You’re Losing isn’t Fat.

A new study (referenced below) attempts to reveal the relationship between protein and weight. A number of indibiduals were fed very specific diets in a controlled environment for 8 weeks. They were fed what was considered “40 per cent more calories than estimated to be required for weight maintenance. This equated to overfeeding of an average of about 950 calories a day”. Here’s what the calorie percentages for each diet looked like:

                       Protein       Carbohydrate       Fat

Low Protein:     6%                 42%              52%

Med Protein      14%               41%              44%

High Protein      26%              41%              33%

Notice how high the carbohydrate % is for each diet. Without knowing what type of foods the carbs came from, we should assume each diet used the same type of carb-food, (most likely cheap processed carbs). The measurements after the 8 week study can be seen below:

  weight change lean mass change fat mass change
low protein +3.61 -0.70 +3.66
medium protein +6.05 +2.87 +3.45
high protein +6.51 +3.18 +3.44

Notice that each of the groups put on “weight”. Also, each group put on approximately equal fat mass. Considering the amount of carbohydrates between groups is relatively similar (around 40% of calories), it’s my opinion that the high % carbohydrate contribution had the most influence on overall fat gain. 

Also important, is the high-protein diet put on the most lean mass. Had the carb count been lower, or from whole food sources and not cheap processed carbs, We might see a reduction in the fat mass change for this diet

What’s most interesting to me, is that the diet that most resembles the USDA recommended guidelines (low protein-low fat) resulted in the least lean mass gain, and the most fat mass gain. In fact, the low protein diet actually resulted in NEGATIVE lean mass change!

Now, the USDA and common wisdom villify saturated fats. The best protein rich foods contain saturated fats (animals!), so it stands to reason that people on a conventional-calorie-counting-low-fat-diet will be avoiding protein rich foods, in order to avoid the fat (dummies). This diet had a calorie EXCESS. Imagine how much you would lose on a calorie deficit! It’s all lean mass!

It should be obvious to you now that a combination of low-protein, low-fat and low-calorie dieting will lead to a loss in mostly LEAN MASS. Not only will you be weak, but you will become skinny-fat. There’s no beauty in frail weakness.


Bray GA, et al. Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating – A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA 2012;307(1):47-55


Lifting in a Fasted State, and Pre Workout Protein

From Health Correlator

The idea that protein powders should be consumed prior to weight training has been around for a while, and is very popular among bodybuilders. Something like 10 grams or so of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is frequently recommended. More recently, with the increase in popularity of intermittent fasting, it has been strongly recommended prior to “fasted weight training”. The quotation marks here are because, obviously, if you are consuming anything that contains calories prior to weight training, the weight training is NOT being done in a fasted state….

Read the rest here

This is something I have been practicing for a long time. Fasted training has numerous benefits, including more fat burning.

Study Critique: Low Carb Diet Improves Memory

This study attempts to draw conclusions between a low-carb (ketogenic) diet, and enhanced memory function. Their conclusions are that a ketogenic diet is protective because of the lower insulin levels it secretes. In this post, I’ll take a look at the other hormones at play, and try to find out what might be the real cause for the memory improvement. Seems like a good time, let’s see how it measures up…

Take a look at the graphical data below from the study. Clearly there was a memory improvement after the low-carb meals. Makes it easy to put the blame on insulin, huh?

But, what else might be going on here? We know there must be other hormones at play. Notice the breakdown of each meal below, and take note on the amount of protein in each one. They are very close, basically the same for the purposes of this study.

I’ve said previously that protein actually enacts a higher insulin response than carbohydrate. Since both meals in the study kept protein relatively the same, the insulin response from the high-carb meal could only be a result of the higher carbs. I suspect that, had the low-carb diet used the same amount of protein (a good estimate of the average low-carb meal), and the high-carb diet used half the amount of protein (about 30 g. a more realistic amount for the Standard American Diet), the researchers would have observed a higher insulin response in the low-carb meal, or even an insignificant difference in insulin response.

Now, introducing Ghrelin, a wonderful hormone indeed.

Ghrelin production ramps up when you become hungry and during periods of fasting

  • It increases secretion of growth hormone
  • It increases focus and cognitive function
  • It increases cardiac output
  • It increases the amount of dopamine in the brain’s center of reward and addiction

If you don’t believe me, just Google it.

So normally, once you eat, ghrelin will decrease, and insulin will increase. Here is where satiation kicks in, and you start to feel satisfied, relaxed, calm, and possibly a bit fuzzy, depending on what exactly you ate.

Now I’ll try to show you how insulin alone is not the reason for the difference in cognitive function. This study shows the different levels of ghrelin responce across 3 breakfast meal types: a  high calorie simple carb, a  high calorie complex carb, and a low calorie meal (water).

Ghrelin concentrations decreased after the HC-SC breakfast by 41%, after the HC-CC breakfast by 33%, and after the LC breakfast by 24%. No significant differences in ghrelin concentration among the 3 breakfasts were observed until 120 min. Ghrelin concentrations were correlated with subjective measures of hunger (r = 0.51) and fullness (r = –0.44). The percentage decrease in ghrelin between 0 and 30 min was inversely correlated with the percentage increases in insulin (r = –0.76) and glucose (r = –0.79) but not with changes in leptin (r = 0.10). The percentage changes in ghrelin concentrations between 30 and 180 min were correlated with the percentage changes in insulin (r = –0.53) and leptin (r = –0.47) but not with changes in glucose (r = 0.22).

The big high calorie simple carb meal would have likely been the equivalent of pop tarts, waffles, syrup, or any combination of cereal grains covered in sugar. You know, the processed food-like crap that millions of ignorant parents shovel into their kid’s mouths before they run off to school.

The high calorie simple carb meal suppressed ghrelin more than either of the other two meals. The simple-carb meal would have enacted the largest spike in blood glucose levels, with the largest decrease in cognitive function, motivation, clarity, etc, flooring levels of ghrelin. Although the responses to ghrelin were inversely correlated with insulin levels, I assume that is because the 3 meals also had similar protein amounts, making the difference in insulin response only a result of the amounts of cheap carbs across the meals.

Want to stay sharp and focused in the morning? Tired of the mid-afternoon slump after lunch? Try limiting blood glucose spikes by eliminating sugar, bread and cereal from your diet. Eat only things that will keep you on the cognitive razor’s edge: meat, veggies, fruit.

Type of Fat Does Matter. USDA Lies.

Everyone should know this by now, that the type of fat you consume has a huge impact on health and fitness.

In the Paleo community, we actually know how to read and interpret the studies. We know how to avoid junk science. We know that Saturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fats are the ones to eat.

Here is something interesting I came across. First, take a look at the graph below. It represents obesity in the US since the USDA guidelines came into existence:

Now compare it to this graph, showing sources fat intake over time:

Really makes you wonder who we should, or should not be listening to when it comes to our health and well-being. Wasn’t it the government that told us to switch to veggie oils and man made processed crap? Wasn’t it them who told us saturated fat was going to make us fat and give us heart attacks? Ah! It was! Fuck you, USDA, for making us fat and ugly, and dead!

Dietary guidelines are dirven by politics and money, not science. Get your head straight and eat like an animal, because you are one! It really is that simple!

I eat an average of 80-110 grams of fat per day, most of it saturated. I am the healthiest person I know.

Side Note: This is really REALLY fucked up. Pizza is not, and never should be, considered a vegetable! Just more proof that the government health guidelines really are driven by politics.

More Evidence Against Grains, Bad Gene Expression

I came across a great paper summary from one of my favorite blogs: That Paleo Guy.

It turns out grains may be much more damaging than you think.

From Bioacive antinutritional peptides derived from cereal grains:

Not only cereals grains have a poor nutritional value for healthy individuals, but some cereals may also induce widespread primary and secondary intolerances, thus becoming “non tolerated” or “toxic” under particular, although rather frequent, conditions. Peptides originating from digestion of wheat protein or of other “toxic” cereals in the human gastrointestinal tract are responsible for both primary and secondary intolerances

And From Antinutritive effects of wheat-germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine-specific lectins

…as the lectin appeared to be fully active and fairly stable against proteolytic breakdown, its potentially harmful effects on both metabolism and health need to be explored, particularly when diets containing WGA are fed for extended periods of time.

The consequences of the continuous stimulation of the pancreas, particularly in the long term, may be harmful for both of its vital exocrine and endocrine functions. Moreover, as one of the previously shown toxic effects of dietary PHA [kidney beans] is due to its interference with the functioning of the immune system, it is of special concern what effects the systemically-absorbed WGA may have on the gut and the body’s immune systems. The thymus atrophy observed in rats fed with diets containing WGA may be particularly damaging for the proper functioning of the immune system.

it is particularly worrying that detectable amounts of functionally- and immunochemically-intact WGA are transported across the intestinal wall and may reach the systemic circulation

And Paleo Guy summarizes:

So let’s summarise.  We know that grains are a poor source of nutrition and easily replaced by more nutrient-dense foods.  We know that they can contain immuno-reactive proteins, such as gluten.  We know that they can also contain lectins, and in the case of the lectin, wheat-germ agglutinin, we know that this go avoid digestion and end up in systemic circulation, where, possibly, we might see effects on the endocrine and exocrine function of organs such as the pancreas and on immune-regulating organs such as the thymus.  We also see that there is potential for these lectins to also have insulin-like activity.  All of these effects are seemingly independent of the carbohydrate content of the source foods they are found in.

All good reasons to avoid grains, IMHO. Another thought comes to mind. I know people tend to use the excuse “I just have bad genes”, or, “I was born into a family of people with bad [insert problem here]”. The truth is, these effects are gene expressions, things that you or I am naturally predisposed to expressing under certain conditions. Well, genes don’t necessarily need to be expressed all the time, it takes hormones to express those genes. And you are perfectly capable of changing most of those conditions!

Now ask yourself, what causes hormones to be expressed? hmmmm…..OH NO SHIT! The FOOD YOU EAT! And the things you do!

Diet and toxin exposure have been shown to influence gene expression 1, 2, 3

Exercise causes positive hormone reactions, and eating the right foods causes more positive hormone reactions! These hormones cause good genes to be expressed. This comes through in our health and outward appearance. Avoiding toxins and laziness stops the bad genes from being expressed.

Note this nice discussion from Mark’s Daily Apple on gene expression.

Our modern lifestyles, as we say in the Primal Blueprint, create a deep chasm between our genetic expression and that of our ancestors

Live and move like the predator you evolved to be! Gene expression is in your control.

How I Cured Chronic Acid Reflux With A Paleo Lifestyle

Ever since I can remember, I have had digestive issues and chronic hartburn from every meal. I have lived on Tums and Pepto-Bismol. I had prescriptions for Prilosec and generics. As an infant I cried constantly, probably as a result of inheriting my mother’s unfavorable gut-flora, a direct result of her eating habits.



The problem with all these “solutions” is that they are not really solutions at all. They merely mask the problem, making the symptoms just bearable. Eventually you are forced to up the dose, or deal with pain again.

It’s a common problem for most people on the SAD (Standard American Diet). They just pop a proton pump inhibitor and get on with their day, with no concern for how that 99% shutoff in their digestive system is affecting their health. I was concerned. I knew there must be something better. I wasn’t about to sit around while my stomoach was effectively shut off. Why should I willingly take a pill for the rest of my life? That shit costs money! And I really would like to be able to absorb the nutrients in my food, is that too much to ask?

Lo and Behold! As soon as I started a low-carb diet, symptoms improved. Any time I downed a bagel or some sugary subsance, symptoms returned full force, within minutes. But still, I was not cured. I searched for an answer. What could it be exactly? I knew I started to feel better too, and felt like I was getting more out of the food I ate….. Then I began a Paleo lifestyle…..I WAS CURED! It made sense now! Hahaha! eureka!

I started to make a connection between carb-heavy foods and my GERD. I did more research. I learned about H. Pylori. Turns out, grains are a major trigger to bacterial overgrowth of H. Pylori. The problem with GERD is not too much stomach acid, but too little. H. Pylori support their habitat by suppressing stomach acid production, and antacids perpetuate the problem. When you feel pain and burning, it’s a result of the bacteria causing pressure in the gut, and whatever little acid is present, gets backed up into your esophagus. The broblem with processed foods and carb-heavy foods like grains, H. Pylori love to feed on these, it’s their preferred enery source by fermenting the fiber in them.

The common misconception is that heartburn, GERD, acid reflux is a problem of too much stomach acid. So, everyone tends to avoid acidic foods, spicy foods, etc. Sorry folks, but there is no evidence to support that theory, and after learning about how GERD works, you can see why. It’s pretty simple really.

10 months Paleo, and I am completely heartburn free! I gave away my prescription proton pump inhibitors to some unsuspecting sap. I warned him to just change his diet, he ignored me. I can’t truly blame him. He is just a sheep, conditioned from birth to believe this is normal. Taught that popping a pill every day for your problems is really ok.

I know I’m a freak, I’m that .01% of the population that ACTUALLY USES MY BRAIN. I wasn’t trained to think this way, I just got my head out of the fog of the SAD. I can think more clearly now, I have more energy now, and I sleep better. I can honestly say the women noticed a change too. I have more clout around here because of the Paleo lifestyle. The male types sense that there is a more masculine figure around, and respect floats in my general direction. The female types get a chill every time I walk by, and I can feel their curious eyes, sizing me up. “What is it about him?” Maybe I just found out how to master my inner animal. Self improvement really is easy, you just have to embrace your ancestral background, and utilize it. Eat like the predator you evolved from. I might seem like a cocky bastard, but I feel like a million bucks (a few more punds of lean muscle helps too), so It is damn well justifed.