August 2, 2010

The human being got smart by eating meat.

A theory:
"You can't have a large brain and big guts at the same time," explains Leslie Aiello, an anthropologist and director of the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York City, which funds research on evolution. Digestion, she says, was the energy-hog of our primate ancestor's body. The brain was the poor stepsister who got the leftovers....
Meat is packed with lots of calories and fat. Our brain — which uses about 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle...
Interesting insight into evolution, but it doesn't say anything about what we should eat today. In evolutionary times, gathering plant material and chewing and swallowing enough of it to survive took a lot of energy. Today, we get more than enough. We have "big guts" in a different sense and for a different reason. So burning extra calories digesting low-calorie plants is probably a good idea.

By the way, if the brain uses 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle, why can't we lose weight by thinking hard?

118 comments:

Hagar said...

If you keep your calorie intake constant, you will indeed loose weight by thinking hard.

And when you think less and less hard - such as when you retire from work - but eat as much as before, you will get fat(er).

Hagar said...

And human beings probably got smart by the smarter ones having an advantage in chasing the calories that had an advantage in being better at escaping from the humans chasing them. And so on.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

Because the brain is inefficient. That is the base or minimum load is virtually the same as the peak load.

tooclass said...

Leaving aside the ethical issues surrounding eating meat (is the fleeting satisfaction of the taste of meat worth more than the short lifetime of misery and suffering of the factory farmed pig/chicken/cow?) just as a practical issue, people in American do not need to eat meat for 3 meals per day. If everyone could just cut their meat consumption down to 3 or so dinners a week (while maintaining dairy/egg consumption) I think everyone would be much better off. It is astounding that people find the idea of having a vegetarian dinner completely staggering.

Roman said...

Haven't you heard of a brain cramp? I get them all the time.

AllenS said...

If you would only cut back on the number of cafès you post, we wouldn't get so hungry looking at the pictures.

Kevin said...

"The human being got smart by eating meat."

Well, that explains vegans...

tooclass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calypso Facto said...

Why didn't more lethal carnivores (lions?) get smarter faster?

Maybe humans had to get smarter because they weren't very efficient hunters? Good enough to provide meat for development, but not good enough to get lazy about it? (Until now!)

Skyler said...

(is the fleeting satisfaction of the taste of meat worth more than the short lifetime of misery and suffering of the factory farmed pig/chicken/cow?)

Yes, absolutely yes. In every way.

sane_voter said...

@Kevin LOL

is it also any coincidence that most Vegans are liberals?

Skyler said...

I read that it's our sweat glands that made us such good hunters. We can run for long distances because we sweat, while all other animals need to slow down to pant in order to cool off. Thus, just dogged persistence pays off in running an animal down. You just have to be fast enough to keep the animal running so it can't pant and then it will eventually collapse. I don't know if it's true, but I like it.

john said...

We got smart, evolutionarily speaking, not just by eating meat, but by cooking the meat first.

That not only provided us much more food in a digestible and partially digested form, but it saved us from having to sleep it off 18-20 hours a day in a tree limb on some African savannah.

Hagar said...

But humans are poorly armed (no claws or fangs) and had to substitute with tools and smarts.

And yes, a man can "walk down" a horse.

chuckR said...

By the way, if the brain uses 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle, why can't we lose weight by thinking hard?

How do you know it doesn't help keep your weight in check? Can't very well run a scientific study on it. Although maybe you could - progressives could comprise the group that doesn't use their noggins. And Obama voters.....

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tooclass said...

Skyler - Man, you are so well versed! Who knew that perspiration was a mechanism for regulating body temperature. You must have dug deep into the books to discover that gem. Sigh. Also, would you be so callous in your response to the ethics of meat eating if a litter of puppies were raised in a concrete pen hardly big enough to turn around in, abused, impregnated and slaughtered? How about if I slaughtered that pretty horse of yours? I think you have some strange masochistic impulses to be so proud of inflicting pain on other creatures.

john said...

Wrangham's book "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human" is a good read.

john said...

Tooclass -

It's never too early in the morning to conjure up those wonderful images of horse mutilation.

tooclass said...

@john

I should have made more of an allusion to the mobster in me. Something like "how would you like to wake up next to your pretty horse's HEAD"

great pic.

Skyler said...

too wrote: You must have dug deep into the books to discover that gem.

You aren't very clever. The point is not that we cool by sweating, the theory is that our method of sweating was crucial to our being able to hunt down other animals.

Also, would you be so callous in your response to the ethics of meat eating if a litter of puppies were raised in a concrete pen hardly big enough to turn around in, abused, impregnated and slaughtered?

Why, yes. Yes, I would. Those piggies that are so cute also have this delicious thing called bacon inside them. I don't care what manner it gets onto my plate, so long as it gets there.

How about if I slaughtered that pretty horse of yours?

Not my horse, it belongs to the USMC. You'd have to face down a whole lot of Marines, who don't really have much of a problem killing people when it is legal, if you want to slaughter that horse. You're welcome to try.

By the way, at the facility where that horse is kept, they regularly teach Marines how to slaughter goats, and each platoon gets to eat the goat they slaughter. Yum.

Harold said...

You don't see very many obese chess grandmasters, do you?

The Crack Emcee said...

Tooclass,

Fuck you. Don't nobody give a shit about that stuff - we're men, and we kill, and we can't care because we ain't built to be bitches about it.

You wanna cry for the poor chicken in a coop? Fine, go ahead a cry, but don't expect us to get all weepy about the shit when (evolutionarily speaking) we've got to hunt and kill the damn thing for cooking.

You be the woman, we'll be the men, O.K.?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This is the thing about veggans.

They are so fucking sanctimonious. They need to try to tell everyone else what to do. Constantly preaching at people. Smug and self important and incredibly annoying.

They also assume that because you aren't a veggan you never have meatless meals and that you condone the inhumane treatement of animals.

William T. Sherman said...

Blame those aliens and that damn black Monolith.

C R Krieger said...

"In evolutionary times".  Is that like back when Noah walked the earth?

I would have thought that all times are "evolutionary times".  I have always assumed that I am just too limited in insight to see the changes taking place.  If evolution has slowed or stopped perhaps we need "Global Warming" to restart it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Joe said...

If anyone has ever seen industrial farming and how the artichokes and Brussels sprouts are treated at these "farms" you'd soon join the Solar Power for Food Movement.

Veganism is for "p*ssies" eat nothing with a face, indeed...that's nothing but "FACISM." Do you think the bulgur wheat wants to be eaten? Do you think that your gluten free, trans-fat free, no dairy fructose-sweetened whole grain free-ranch blueberry muffin wants to be baked and then eaten? Just because it has no face, doesn't mean it doesn't suffer!

Paul said...

Not just veggans, but lefties in general are sanctimonious assholes. That's one of the main selling points to the weak, fearful, and neurotic types that form the ranks of liberals...a sense of self righteous superiority they can paper over their self loathing with.

The other thing about vegans and vegetarians is that as a rule they look like shit. Washed out,dry skin and hair, aged before their time. Don't believe it? Go visit a health food store.

Animal fats are needed for nerve and skin cell health and proteins are the building blocks of the immune system.

The harsh reality of life is that living things subsist by consuming other living things. A look at our evolutionary history can tell us what we are designed to eat, and it most definitely includes meat.

tooclass said...

@The Crack Emcee

Ahh, just the intelligence level I would expect from someone who probably spends his days pretending to be a music producer or handing out copies of his latest album to people in Times Square.

In evolutionary terms, yes, eating meat was a good survival strategy. So was rape! Very easy to pass your genes on by raping a woman. Are you going to defend rape because it has its evolutionary advantages? We have to figure out which human actions are most conducive to happiness NOW, not when we were a blossoming species in Africa.

I'm not even vegetarian or vegan you nerd. I'm not weeping. But if you want to admit that you wouldn't feel bad about slitting the throat of a puppy, fine. Those are issues you and your MCs will have to deal with.

P.S. Listen to MC Paul Barman and learn something about rapping you clod.

Joe said...

i kwit eeting meet too yeers ago an i have seen no ill affects uppon my cogn..coga...abillitty to think....

I wood nevver slit a pupy's throat neither....

Big Mike said...

A lot of primates are omnivores. But predators seem to be brighter than opportunistic meat eaters so it is perhaps more correct to say that human beings got smart by learning how to hunt. That makes sense because hunters have to plan their hunt, decide when a prey animal is too dangerous and should be bypassed, decide whether to defend their kill against interlopers, and, when hunting in a team, how to coordiante the kill.

AllenS said...

The thought of the Pillsbury Doughboy being shoved into an oven, absolutely disgusts me. Have you no decency?

Joe said...

Gee tooclass how I might feel about slitting a puppy's throat would be situationally dependent, wouldn't it or shouldn't it?

Were Hauptsturmführer Weissler to order me to do or to see my life partner shot, I might feel regret.

Were the puppy and I on a life raft, and the puppy the only source of food...No.

ricpic said...

So why didn't lions become geniuses?

Joe said...


So why didn't lions become geniuses?



Because meating is is necessary, but not sufficient for sentience.

It could also have been the timing of our emergence on the scene...

Michael said...

"In evolutionary times..."

WTH?

A.W. said...

There are two facts that trip up scientists constantly about evolution.

First, today, humans are under very little evolutionary pressure. There is very little survival of the fittest and indeed many people that would be very unfit in previous times do quite well today. For instance, those with muscular dystrophy would have been sedentary meat back in the cave man days, which is imho a good thing about our present day. those who fetishise primitivism fail to realize what is so good about our times.

Second, we often divide nature from ourselves. But in fact we are part of nature, just a very different part. We have reformed nature itself so that the success or failure of a species today is best measured in their ability to successfully interact with us. So for instance, lions are not doing very well. Neither rare cheetahs, because it turns out that we don’t like them running around very much, since they might eat our children or our handicapped people (see above), or just people caught off guard and without weaponry. Dogs are one model of success, which pretty much survive on their ability to suck up to us. Rats survive as scavengers off of us, and of course cats survive in part on the suck up theory, in part on scavenge, and in part on eating scavengers like rats.

Third, whereas other creatures mainly rely on genetics and acclimation for adaptation, humans have a highly developed third route: intellect. So before a gazelle can move into a colder environment, they have to grow a thick coat. Meanwhile, for humans to go into a colder climate, they must kill something with thick fur and make them into a coat. Or hell, make it out of something else entirely (like cotton or polyester).

A whole lot of scientific silliness when it comes to the human species can be traced to misunderstanding those three realities.

traditionalguy said...

It is a well known fact that during a stressful time of mental struggle against another personality/mind, the eating of lots of protein in beef strengthens your endurance and will power. Ergo, vegan cults want your mind weakened so that you cannot resist their mind games. Somebody alert the Crack Emcee. I am surprised to see this article, because in the last 10 years a combination of New Age Hindu, but really old yoga and vegan, propaganda has taken over most public expression of thought on this subject. Did you notice that the Global Warmists actually put all eating of beef on their Hit List to save the planet from CO2? What sly deceievers they were.

William said...

Our long march to civilization was based on bbq and beer. We first utilized fire not in order to keep warm but because the smell and taste of charred meat was so delicious. The cultivation of grain came about not because of man's hunger for food but because of his thirst for beer.

GMay said...

DBQ said: "This is the thing about veggans.

They are so fucking sanctimonious."


Looks like tooclass beat you to the punch with her sanctimonious, self-righteous, pseudo-intellectual bullshit. Probably suffers from lowered bone density from her herbivorous diet too.

LordSomber said...

Veganism was the downfall for Neanderthals. It's Science.

http://pungeon.blogspot.com/2006/12/grit-of-survival-deferred.html

Mark said...

is the fleeting satisfaction of the taste of meat worth more than the short lifetime of misery and suffering of the factory farmed pig/chicken/cow?

Now I'm all hungry.

chuckR said...

The cultivation of grain came about not because of man's hunger for food but because of his thirst for beer.

Beer also was a great way to store and preserve food grain in a form less susceptible to scavengers like rats, mice and other rodents. Plus, the mild level of alcohol purified the water used in it's brewing. Don't know about you, but I'd rather drink beer than chlorinated water.

Maguro said...

If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat.

HT said...

"Interesting insight into evolutions, but it doesn't say anything about what we should eat today. In evolutionary times, gathering plant material and chewing and swallowing enough of it to survive took a lot of energy. Today, we get more than enough. We have "big guts" in a different sense and for a different reason. So burning extra calories digesting low-calorie plants is probably a good idea."

I would like to again recommend Good Calories, Bad Calories. I am not finished yet, but Gary Taubes points out the Inuit ate seal meat, almost exclusively. No fiber, no oranges, no plants.

He also points out that exercise won't help you lose weight. On the contrary.

Carbohydrates and not fat are what lead to heart disease, he says.

Finally, he notes that meat was cooked far more often than is supposed today.

Mark said...

DBQ, as with any evangelical zealot, I always wonder what the "repent, sinners!" variety of vegan is compensating for.

GMay said...

"He also points out that exercise won't help you lose weight. On the contrary."

That alone will ensure I'll not read a word he's written.

tooclass said...

@GMay

You must not have seen the part where i said "I'm not even vegetarian or vegan you nerd."

Methadras said...

The Catabolic diet. Try it sometime. Fail.

HT said...

GMay said...

"He also points out that exercise won't help you lose weight. On the contrary."

That alone will ensure I'll not read a word he's written.

+++


Good for you.

Joe said...


You must not have seen the part where i said "I'm not even vegetarian or vegan you nerd."


And YET you have the sanctimonious, self-righteous prig part down so well...

sunsong said...

Interesting insight into evolutions, but it doesn't say anything about what we should eat today.

A good rule of thumb is to try and eat fresh food, local food - as best you can. Try to stay away from the well-preserved stuff :-)

tooclass said...

Skyler Said:
You aren't very clever. The point is not that we cool by sweating, the theory is that our method of sweating was crucial to our being able to hunt down other animals.

Uhm the point IS that we cool by sweating, hence allowing us to have longer endurance to "hunt down other animals."

It's amazing that saying people don't need to eat meat 3 meals a day is sanctimonious.

I knew my icon should have been me in fatigues next to a shining steed!

The Crack Emcee said...

I like that Tooclass has a picture of George Harrison - Transcendental Meditation fruitcake that he was - but, when challenged, all that sanctimonious spirituality folds into acting like Noclass. He doesn't even believe in his own NewAge bullshit.

Which would be funny if it wasn't so typical.

Joe said...


Ahh, just the intelligence level I would expect from someone who probably spends his days pretending to be a music producer or handing out copies of his latest album to people in Times Square.


Because nothing says, Hey I'm a nice guy" than attacking someone's intelligence.

Man, you are so well versed! Who knew that perspiration was a mechanism for regulating body temperature. You must have dug deep into the books to discover that gem.

Yet more of that vaunted tooclass humility....


I think you have some strange masochistic impulses to be so proud of inflicting pain on other creatures.

No sanctimony here...

Original Mike said...

"The thought of the Pillsbury Doughboy being shoved into an oven, absolutely disgusts me."

Makes me hungry.

DADvocate said...

How about if I slaughtered that pretty horse of yours?

I like to go out in my garden a rip a tomato off the vine, laughing evilly all the time. Once inside, I pull out my razor edged knife and slice it to bits with a wild gleem in my eye.

After violently tearing a few leaves off the head of a lettuce, I place them on a piece of bread coated with mayonaisse. Bread made from the destruction of beautiful amber waves of grain. Verily pulverized into powder, beat into a batter and tortured for a length of time in a scalding hot oven.

Along with the dead tomato parts and fragments of the head of the lettuce, I put carefully sliced pieces of porcine delight fried to a crisp.

It's worth every evil moment.

sunsong said...

"Only two things that money can't buy - and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes

john denver

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

By the way, if the brain uses 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle, why can't we lose weight by thinking hard?

Ha ha. Have you seen a lot of smart obese people?

I mean, it happens, I've seen it. But typically the people with the most active minds seem to have body forms that reflect a good rate of energy consumption.

This could be a revelation for conservative America.

tooclass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tooclass said...

@joe:

you must have missed the part when wackemcee said:

"Tooclass,

Fuck you. Don't nobody give a shit about that stuff - we're men, and we kill, and we can't care because we ain't built to be bitches about it."

That was in response to 1 little paragraph why i merely suggested that eating meat for 3 meals every day is unnecessary. No-one even attempted to challenge my comment with any sort of reasonable response. But that seems to be the trend 'round here. Do you care to comment on anything?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Humans are omnivores. Always have been. Deal.

The diets we evolved to fit with involved a lot more nuts. There are interesting diets advocated nowadays to mimic, if I recall correctly, paleolithic eating patterns. It's an interesting idea.

The numbnutses here of course wouldn't realize that the brain doesn't utilize protein as an energy source. It uses glucose (simple sugar) and, when the going gets tough, fats. Proteins are great for building muscle and you certainly need a certain percentage of them for normal maintenance of tissue. But not as much as the numbnutses fixate on. They do taste great, though.

I think there's a reason that the term "meat-head" is so descriptive and funny. Personally, I love to get a good amount of meat, esp. Korean barbecue - galbi and a well-done free-range, antibiotic and hormone-free burger. There are theories for why people tend to find chargrilled meat tasty. But I also know when it's good to abstain. And unlike the meat-heads, I also have a respect for the mind and its needs, both morally and physiologically.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Who says vegans can't come up with a good dish? This one doesn't look too bad. (But it's from the same article on paleolithic diets, which, it seems, include a healthy smattering of meats).

wv: mating - Ha.

dbp said...

"i merely suggested that eating meat for 3 meals every day is unnecessary. No-one even attempted to challenge my comment with any sort of reasonable response."

How is this? Hundreds of millions of Indians go without meat for meal after meal, clearly it is not necessary to eat meat three times or even one time per day. This is completely irrelevant to the way we live though. We are residents of a country which is, to most people who have ever lived, unimaginably rich. Of course we don't have to eat meat all the time, but we like it and can afford it. What else is there to say?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Too bad being rich doesn't keep a country from going into decline, though. And since growth, not wealth, is what matters, the Indians will have us beat on that score.

I couldn't imagine pursuing veganism or vegetarianism personally, but to each their own. I certainly respect people that do so for ethical motivations. At least I do the adults. Kids, OTOH, need a certain amount of fat. Not this much, but enough to myelinate the neurons.

I think the concept of Diseases of Affluence must make a conservative's head spin.

HT said...

I don't know where to go to have an interesting discussion on this. AA asked 'what should we eat, then?' or words to that effect. So we get the typical back and forth that we've gotten. I swear, it's a really interesting book (Good Calories, Bad Calories), with a pretty bad title, I admit.

To the person who says what's wrong with eating meat just three times a week? It is fine with me. The point of the book I'm reading is that saturated fat has not been proven to cause heart disease. Exercising has not been proven to take off weight, in fact the opposite. The author implicates INSULIN as the driving force for obesity and dementia, though of course, we live long enough and we'll all have those white things in our brain. The key is where in the brain and how much, and refined carbs play a role, he says.

GMay said...

tooclass said: "You must not have seen the part where i said "I'm not even vegetarian or vegan you nerd."

You're right, I didn't. I was done with your sanctimonious pseudo-intellectual crap by your second post. (Actually the first post, but for some reason kept wading in it through the second.)

GMay said...

HT snipped: "Good for you."

Oh ok, I got it. Good for you too for recommending a book that makes a demonstrably - and laughably - false claim.

HT said...

"Kids, OTOH, need a certain amount of fat. Not this much, but enough to myelinate the neurons."

I quickly clicked on the photo, and what I saw was one child at McDonald's eating french fries. Carbs.

HT said...

GMay, as soon as you can figure out what you are talking about, come back at me with something reasonable and detailed. The book DOES demonstrate how what I said is possible. Your statement is false.

dbp said...

"He also points out that exercise won't help you lose weight. On the contrary."

I think this flies in the face of so much observation that this and everything else he has to say is dismissed out of hand.

HT said...

Ok, fine. Let me endeavor to paraphrase some of what he has said in that case. Give me a sec, if you would.

traditionalguy said...

Lamb and beef are great. Chicken that is not hormone grown is good. Most fish, especially red snapper, sole, salmon and cod are good for you. But beef is king. Yet in India most culture their worships a Cow Spirit. When the new Hindu Temple is dedicated they bring in live cows to shit in the place, and then they play in the stuff rubbing it all over themselves to worship their Cow god. That much dedication to a Cow god easily leads to a movement to end beef eating by everybody. It is as bad as eating people from their point of view.

dbp said...

I've been to Hindu temples in India and some of them had a few cows roaming the place.

I didn't see any of the other stuff you describe though.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Who eats meat 3 times a day, every day, anyway? That sounds like a lot of work. If I eat a large enough breakfast that it includes meat, then I usually don't eat lunch. (Most structured (work) days it's cereal, lunch of leftovers from dinner, which is usually a meat/starch combo, like pasta with chicken or beef, and dinner.)

Bruce Hayden said...

The diets we evolved to fit with involved a lot more nuts. There are interesting diets advocated nowadays to mimic, if I recall correctly, paleolithic eating patterns. It's an interesting idea.

While possibly true, it turns out that our nearest relatives, Chimps, do eat a fair amount of meat. Not as much as we do, of course, but much more than anyone expected. And, interestingly, they don't seem to have a problem with cannibalism.

But also of note is that male chimps apparently get a significantly greater amount of their protein from meat than the females do - they often eat their catches, or at least part of them, before they return to their tribe. Which may be why males of our species seem to want to eat meat more than the females do, and why the next time a woman tries to get a guy to eat like she does, he is likely to demur.

HT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HT said...

I hope this is able to be accepted. I pasted some paragraphs. Actually I don't think it will go through. Why not???

But, first, speaking of myself personally, I know that when I used to really work out hard (running or swimming and weights) I would eat more. No question about it.

Also, the author talks about how conventional thinking says that the obese eat too much and don’t move. Leaving aside the notion of eating too much for the time being, what he says about the lack of movement is

Well I was gonna go back through the book, but that was going to take a long time, so I just google news’ed Gary Taubes and came across this, which synopsizes it well

http://nymag.com/news/sports/38001/

I hope those who want to really stick with this, and debate me strongly and hopefully politely, will take the time to read the article.

Ultimately, the relationship between physical activity and fatness comes down to the question of cause and effect. Is Lance Armstrong excessively lean because he burns off a few thousand calories a day cycling, or is he driven to expend that energy because his body is constitutionally set against storing calories as fat? If his fat tissue is resistant to accumulating calories, his body has little choice but to burn them as quickly as possible: what Rony and his contemporaries called the “activity impulse”—a physiological drive, not a conscious one. His body is telling him to get on his bike and ride, not his mind. Those of us who run to fat would have the opposite problem. Our fat tissue wants to store calories, leaving our muscles with a relative dearth of energy to burn. It’s not willpower we lack, but fuel.

For the last 60 years, researchers studying obesity and weight regulation have insisted on treating the human body as a thermodynamic black box: Calories go in one side, they come out the other, and the difference (calories in minus calories out) ends up as either more or less fat. The fat tissue, in this thermodynamic model, has nothing to say in the matter. Thus the official recommendations to eat less and exercise more and assuredly you’ll get thinner. (Or at least not fatter.) And in the strict sense this is true—you can starve a human, or a rat, and he will indeed lose weight—but that misses the point. Humans, rats, and all living organisms are ruled by biology, not thermodynamics. When we deprive ourselves of food, we get hungry. When we push ourselves physically, we get tired.

The key is that among the many things regulated in this homeostatic system—along with blood pressure and blood sugar, body temperature, respiration, etc.—is the amount of fat we carry. From this biological or homeostatic perspective, lean people are not those who have the willpower to exercise more and eat less. They are people whose bodies are programmed to send the calories they consume to the muscles to be burned rather than to the fat tissue to be stored—the Lance Armstrongs of the world. The rest of us tend to go the other way, shunting off calories to fat tissue, where they accumulate to excess. This shunting of calories toward fat cells to be stored or toward the muscles to be burned is a phenomenon known as fuel partitioning.

The job of determining how fuels (glucose and fatty acids) will be used, whether we will store them as fat or burn them for energy, is carried out primarily by the hormone insulin in concert with an enzyme known technically as lipoprotein lipase—LPL, for short. (Sex hormones also interact with LPL, which is why men and women fatten differently.)

dbp said...

When I hit 40, I started to gain weight (about a pound per month). I ate lunch at my desk and then used my lunch break to walk, after a few months I started to run at lunch. I lost 30 lbs over the next couple of years.

My wife cut down as much as she could tolerate in terms of calories (mostly cutting in the carb dept. even as these are her favorite source of calories.) She walked most days at lunch and did karate a couple of times per week. She never lost an ounce. She added-in jogging 3 mornings per week and has lost 15 lbs in two months.

I can think of many other cases, but these are the closest to my own experience.

dbp said...

Exercise works as long as you don't compensate by pigging-out.

HT said...

I guess we're all eating now, but

More from the article:

In the eighties, biochemists and physiologists worked out how LPL responds to exercise. They found that during a workout, LPL activity increases in muscle tissue, and so our muscle cells suck up fatty acids to use for fuel. Then, when we’re done exercising, LPL activity in the muscle tissue tapers off and LPL activity in our fat tissue spikes, pulling calories into fat cells. This works to return to the fat cells any fat they might have had to surrender—homeostasis, in other words. The more rigorous the exercise, and the more fat lost from our fat tissue, the greater the subsequent increase in LPL activity in the fat cells. Thus, post-workout, we get hungry: Our fat tissue is devoting itself to restoring calories as fat, depriving other tissues and organs of the fuel they need and triggering a compensatory impulse to eat. The feeling of hunger is the brain’s way of trying to satisfy the demands of the body. Just as sweating makes us thirsty, burning off calories makes us hungry.

This research has never been controversial. It’s simply been considered irrelevant by authorities, all too often lean, who have been dead set on blaming fatness on some combination of gluttony, sloth, and perhaps a little genetic predisposition thrown in on the side. But contemplating the means by which we might lose weight without considering the hormonal regulation of fat tissue is like wondering why children grow taller without considering the role of growth hormones. Or, for that matter, like trying to explain the record-breaking triumphs of modern athletes—Barry Bonds, say—and never considering the possibility that steroid hormones (or human growth hormone or insulin) might be involved.

Skyler said...

" And in the strict sense this is true—you can starve a human, or a rat, and he will indeed lose weight—but that misses the point."

No it doesn't miss the point. It is the point. Losing weight is starvation.

Try one small meal a day. You will lose weight. It is very simple and works every time. It just takes discipline and character. People who say they can't lose weight are not well disciplined.

Every single person in viet namese prison camps lost weight. Just don't go as far as that and you'll be fine.

I have no patience for people who whine that they can't lose weight.

Michael Haz said...

I refuse to associate with people who kill and eat baby carrots.

traditionalguy said...

dbp...The ceremonies I described are a dedication service to tempt the Cow Spirit to feel at home and occupy its new Temple. It was eye witness verified by the cow's owner who brought them there and confirmed by my Hindu friends that built the Temple. Most of them are MDs and highly respected on Medical Staff. Atlanta has 80,000+ Indian people.

DADvocate said...

Funny our resident idiot would bring up Diseases of Affluence as those most commonly afflicted with obesity in our country are the poor, thanks to our wonderful, liberal inspired, government programs. The same programs that raised "the percentage of all babies born to unwed mothers nationally rose to 32 percent in 1997 from only 5.3 percent in 1960. Among blacks nationally, 69 percent of births were to unwed mothers. " Leading to this: "the poverty rate in 2008 for single parents with children was 35.6 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent."

Another example of why the words "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" should be some of the most feared words one can hear.

HT said...

Skylar, most people cannot live under such tough conditions. Especially those for whom some amount of physical and mental effort is requisite to their lives. You know? I get it that you are tough and you can do that. But at what long-term costs. The fact is that we need a certain caloric intake everyday. The larger point I was making was that there is increased obesity in this country now, and a lot of diabetes. Why? This book attempts to give some "unconventional" answers. (Though the author repeatedly says they were quite conventional before we got thrown off track in the 60s and 70s)

traditionalguy said...

Seriously, in reading labels for Sodium content you also learn that nearly every prepared food and drink is sweetened without sugar but instead with corn syrup. Corn is a magnificent fattener used primarily as feed for all animals sold by the pound. Until 1978 the same products contained sugar and not corn. Go figure.

Skyler said...

Until 1978 the same products contained sugar and not corn. Go figure.

Does this have more to do with protectionist trade policies?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I quickly clicked on the photo, and what I saw was one child at McDonald's eating french fries. Carbs.

And fats, yo. A whole lot of 'em.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

You gotta hand it to tortilla face's idiot dad for stupidly politicizing obesity.

So now liberals are responsible for bending to the red state corn lobbies and other factory farm interests? How about the lard sandwiches eaten by Southerners during the Civil War? Are the blue staters also to blame for the fact that the fattest asses are scattered throughout the Bible Belt, including Dadvocate's beloved Appalachia?

Ever been to California? How about the deep South? Anyone who can't figure out which regions consciously decide to eat like shit as opposed to the others is probably living in the same bubble as Dadvocate and the other Republicans.

But he can always call me an idiot, so I guess that's one way to feel better about his ignorant bullshit. I have not seen anyone on the left advocate subsidizing unhealthy foods; while it is common knowledge that fatty, processed junk foods are more efficient per weight, both on a caloric and financial basis - but don't tell that to the corporations Dadvocate's willing to continue to subsidize for doing so.

Watch as the self-proclaimed party of "personal responsibility" refuses to exercise any and blame everyone else for their shortsightedness.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Does this have more to do with protectionist trade policies?

It has to do with lobbies and subsidies for fat corporations. Two things that the right will do nothing about.

It's how they make their money, you see. It's also how they demonstrate an utter lack of any integrity or concern for the country.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Here's more of your fat states, sneaking right up like a streak in one's coronary arteries into the state directly adjacent to the part of O-Hi-Ho that Dadvocate resides in.

New England and CO, OTOH, seem to be doing relatively well by comparison.

The right governs their own waistlines as badly as they do the nation's financial interests. Should anyone really expect differently? They are, after all, the party of gluttony and mammon.

As they bloated the nation's budget and poisoned the nation's credit rating, so too they have done to their own guts.

Skyler said...

Geez, ritmo. We're talking about pre-historic matters. How on earth do you bend this into being about evil republicans? You're not the first in this thread to do it, but it's really amazing how people can be so polarized that they can only associate their every opinion with their political party.

HT said...

There is a tendency among public health authorities, obesity researchers and health writers to discuss obesity as though the problem on a societal scale were only twenty or thirty years old, but this confuses the problem of obesity with the current obesity epidemic. because these last few decades also coincide with the spread of McDonalds' and other global purveyors of high fat fast foods, obesity can conveniently be blamed on fast food by virtues of this association. It has also been popular blamed on high fructose corn syrup. But the research dates back further. Any hypothesis that purports to explain how obesity is caused ... should explain the emergence of obesity in any population and at any time...

'If the Pima Indians could return to some of their traditions,' explained one NIH authority, 'including a high degree of physical activity and a diet with less fat and more starch, we might be able to reduce the rate, and surely the severity, of unhealthy weight in most of the population.'

The problem with this version of the Pima (Arizona) history is that obesity and overweight had been evident a century ago, when the relevant nutrition transition was from relative abundance to extreme poverty.

...if the Pima diet on government rations was anything like that of tribes reduced to similar situations at the time, then almost 50 percent of their calories came from sugar and flour.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Just responding to Dadvocate, Skyler. Sorry to get disproportionate in my response to his intentionally inflammatory comment.

GMay said...

HT,

Thanks for posting the info, but I'm still calling bullshit on the guy.

20 years experience in the Marines and ensuring well over a total of 500 people adhered to fairly rigid standards of physical appearance tells me the guy has missed something somewhere.

To a man (and woman) every time I put them on a monitored and closely supervised regimen of physical exercise targeted at lowering their weight, they lost weight. We'd always begin by monitoring diet. If they didn't increase their physical activity and changed their diet, the results were minimal.

When we took them out and personally ensured they increased their level of physical effort (time, reps, distance, etc), the weight, I suppose, just magically came off. I can't count the number of times I had guys religiously trying the latest nutritionist nonsense while doing the minimum physical effort and making no progress.

Yet when we took their asses out for extra PT routinely, and got them to change their mindset about exercise, the pounds strangely disappeared. Most of them would even ditch that latest nutionist garbage and go back to eating how they used to eat and, shockingly, against the grain of all this new research...they kept the weight off.

This isn't to say we never counseled them on good eating habits and good nutrition, but there's a load of fucking baloney out there when it comes to this subject. Looks like you bought some of it. As Crack might say - it looks like some new age bullshit.

Anecdotally, my eating habits never change, yet somehow, unexpectedly, when I get lazy and stop exercising, I put on weight. When I get off my ass and do fat burning and cardio, those pounds just disappear for some strange reason. It's so weird how it happens like that every single time.

The Crack Emcee said...

Tooclass (though I hesitate to bring you back),

"joe:

you must have missed the part when wackemcee said:,..."


...something that compelled you to throw everything you seem to believe to the wind, like a three year old, and let loose like the true falsely moralistic idiot that you are.

Yeah, Joe and everyone else caught that.

It's a specialty of mine.

Skyler said...

GMay wrote: "Yet when we took their asses out for extra PT routinely,"

I think the problem is that most people don't really understand what it means to have exercise, let alone rigorous exercise. Twenty or thirty minutes a day on a treadmill going at some moderate pace is not how it works. If you sit at a desk for most of your existence and need to lose weight, you need to compensate with several hours of exhausting workouts every day. It's not easy. Or you can just radically reduce how much you eat. That requires less time but a lot of will power.

The key is that they've gotten overweight by eating too much for their activity level for too long. Now they have to compensate by doing the opposite.

HT said...

"Looks like you bought some of it."

I have not, and I'm not sure why you think so. The book that I talk about tries to debunk the latest nutrition fads.

I admit that it does seem counter intuitive what he says about exercise. Personally, my weight is generally the same almost no matter what I do, including exercise. I'm on the lean side. The only way I ever really lose weight is when there is a crisis in my life, and I'm too anxious to eat.

What Gary Taubes states is that when you run a clinical trial, you cannot show a cause and effect as the one you are talking about.

Gary Taubes on Larry King Live (part 2 of 2)

http://www.macktactics.com/approachingagirl/?p=2366

Unfortunately he gets interrupted so much, he can't get his points out.

Here is part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEqhar40TVw

HT said...

The key is that they've gotten overweight by eating too much for their activity level for too long. Now they have to compensate by doing the opposite.

I know you think so Skylar, and most people reading this probably think so too. But Gary Taubes might reverse it and say, their activity level is too low BECAUSE they are obese. He would say that many obese people suffer from malnutrition not because they are eating too much but because they are eating the wrong things.

It antagonizes people to read this, I understand, but why not just play with an alternative point of view only on this little tiny blog entry?

HT said...

20 years experience in the Marines and ensuring well over a total of 500 people adhered to fairly rigid standards of physical appearance tells me the guy has missed something somewhere.

So far, there are two Marines here.

What Gary Taubes might say is that if exercise and diet were all it took to lose weight (and the hurdle of supposed laziness) then HOW COME IT IS NOT WORKING? Why are there still so many fat people? (I look forward to the reality show about The Biggest Loser! The real behind the scene life of that show I'm sure is pretty awful.)

The life you talk about is a very circumscribed one, with extremely fixed variables. I would imagine in your time whenever that was, there were few obese people signing up and staying in the Marines. Looking at our Armed Forces today, on the other hand, is another story. I believe now there is indeed a problem with obesity.

DADvocate said...

You gotta hand it to tortilla face's idiot dad for stupidly politicizing obesity.

Hah! I see you did come by my blog. She's 5' 8" and 125 lbs. Hardly obese. Keep your hands off of her, you perv, or you find out a few more things about Appalachians!!

Yes, it sure is funny how obesity has risen, the black family structure fallen apart and 30% of all black men spend time in jail since we started the liberal Great Society stuff. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

HT said...

Just scanning news from my former town and came across this headline (from WTOP): Low Carb Trumps Low Fat

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=106&sid=2017552

GMay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GMay said...

"The book that I talk about tries to debunk the latest nutrition fads.

I admit that it does seem counter intuitive what he says about exercise."


While I can certainly appreciate somone who's into debunking the latest nutrition fads, I'll still put my experience (which is considerable) up against his assertions here. It's not just counter-intuitive to me, it's just flat out wrong.

"What Gary Taubes might say is that if exercise and diet were all it took to lose weight (and the hurdle of supposed laziness) then HOW COME IT IS NOT WORKING?"

Because someone (usually the fat person) is lying. In every instance where one of my fatbodies was left to his/her own devices, they weren't able to take the weight off. Why? They were telling me they were eating right. They were telling me they were exercising on their own. But they just couldn't take the weight off.

When you take them out almost every day and ensure they literally exercise their asses off, it, strangely enough, seems to work. It's the same thing outside the military. The culture pushes "Just 15 minutes a day, three times a week" and people buy off on it. As Skyler pointed out already - that's horseshit. How many people think they can get it done with a pill?

It's the same with diet. People with weight problems who are self conscious about it, lie about what they eat all the time.

So the reasons "it's not happening" is that most people are full of shit one way or the other (probably both) when it comes to diet and exercise.

"I would imagine in your time whenever that was, there were few obese people signing up and staying in the Marines. Looking at our Armed Forces today, on the other hand, is another story. I believe now there is indeed a problem with obesity."

My "time" was over in 2009, so we're not talking ancient history here. When I was stationed at Parris Island from 2001-2004, I saw guys dropping 80 lbs in boot camp, just like they did when I joined in 1988. To this day guys drop all kinds of weight while in the DEP. Because their recruiters (the good ones) are the first people who have ever helped them get off their fat asses. The big reason they lose the weight? They're doing real exercise for the first time in their lives.

Recruiters who aren't doing their jobs might get the guy's weight down far enough to enlist, but then they leave them on their own before boot camp and they balloon back up again. They might knock off the weight in 3 months of bootcamp, but when they leave that rather intense physical routine, they can again balloon back up. So you have to closely supervise them again and if you make them do serious fat burning exercises, the fat seems to burn off. Call me crazy.

I'm all about alternative viewpoints, as long as they don't fly in the face of reality. This guys assertions about exercise do. It seems to be more of the current "do as little as you can, but hope for maximum results" type of mindset.

HT said...

No, the author is not a dietician. He is not really advocating anything. He is more challenging the commonly held assumptions about carbs, obesity, and exercise. Give me a sec again, and I'll go back through the book if I can to tell you what he says about the validity of self-reporting in the overweight and laziness (supposed) etc.

HT said...

Gary Taubes might ask you what kind of diet you put your trainees on. He says that the rise in calories through the 80s was also a rise in carb consumption.

p. 283 - "To say that the obese eat more than they should ... or are less active than they should be - thus, inducing their positive caloric balance - implies only two possibilities. Either it's beyond their control, in which case there is another, more profound cause of their condition - perhaps a metabolic or hormonal disorder for which we should still be searching - or it is within their control, and so we are led to the judgment that the obese are weaker of will than the lean. It may be true, as von Noorden noted, that their appetite is unable to regulate their energy consumption, but why, then, do they not consciously adjust? The logic keeps taking us in circles.

"The closer we look at the overeating hypothesis, the more counterintuitive its logic becomes. Consider a thought experiment. The subjects are two middle aged men of similar height and age. One eats 3,000 calories a day and is obese. (The epidemiologic and metabolic studies of the past centruy make clear that we could find two such men with little difficulty.) Let's cut the calorie intake of our obese subject in half and semi starve him on 1500 calories a day. He will lose weight although if Albert Stunkards 1959 analysis holds true, there's only once chance in eight he'll lse even as much as 20 lbs. Our lean subject will lose weight on this diet as well, as Keys demonstrated with his conscientious objectors in 1944. That's what the law of energy conservation implies. They would both be hungry continuously, making it likely they would fall off the diet given time. That's what common sense sense, the history of obesity research, and the Carnegie, Minnesota, and Rockefeller experiements tell us. And after some amount of weight loss, their weight will plateau, because their metabolism and energy expenditure will adjust to this new level of calorie intake. 'Eventually, calorie balance is re-established at a new (low) plateau of body weigh and the calorie deficit is zero,' as Keys explained."

I am still looking for the part on self-reporting. It's a huge book and this takes time.

It will be just about impossible as you may guess to match your experience with something he has written in the book, but he does cite military studies to support his hypotheses. Which he notes were accepted until the exercise explosions of the 70s, 80s, 90s which were accompanied "ironically enough" by the obesity epidemic in this country.

HT said...

p. 288 - "Even if we accept that obese individuals are possessed of a defective character, then we're still left in the dark. Why doesn't the same defect ... cause obesity in everyone?"

In my case, I am certainly not lean because I exercise.

"'Those who do become obese apparently have something additional to and independent from this mental makeup: an intrinsic tendency to obesity.'" (Hugo Rony)

GMay said...

"Which he notes were accepted until the exercise explosions of the 70s, 80s, 90s which were accompanied "ironically enough" by the obesity epidemic in this country."

Which I will note that those who are/were obese most likely weren't exercising. This strikes me as a correllation=causality argument which, while mildly interesting, is also not persuasive in the least.

At very minimum, these people were not/are not exercising properly or according to their needs (which most of them rarely know), if they were exercising at all. Some people put on weight faster than others. Some take it off faster. What I always had to do was find out how much exercise was effective for those who always struggled maintaining their weight.

Some were always dismayed to find that they had to exercise a ton to keep the weight off, but we always found the weight-loss threshold.

Personally, I'm naturally slim/athletic, but I do put on about 15-20 pounds when my physical activity stops. When I decide to drop that weight, I change nothing about my eating habits and go out and do some real exercise and shed the extra weight. Works like that for everyone I know and have worked with in the military too.

Funny how that works.

HT said...

Which I will note that those who are/were obese most likely weren't exercising.

Let me again quote Gary Taubes.

"Any hypothesis that purports to explain how obesity is caused ... should explain the emergence of obesity in any population and at any time..."

He cites the Pima Indians in southwest Arizona as one example. According to your theory, they became overweight at the turn of the 19th century because suddenly they stopped exercising. Or because they did not have the crazy exercise regimen of the Marines.

The author on the other hand says the real cause of the Pima Indians obesity was caused by the lack of access to their traditional diets and

"...[if their] government rations was anything like that of tribes reduced to similar situations at the time, then almost 50 percent of their calories came from sugar and flour."

HT said...

It is a causality issue, and that you haven't been persuaded is perhaps because you haven't been exposed to the arguments, or rather to the studies that back up his (once commonly held) hypothesis. I have not typed in those studies here, so when you say you are not persuaded, that is not surprising. You haven't read the studies.

HT said...

Nor do you want to. Or at least you didn't yesterday.

That alone will ensure I'll not read a word he's written.

GMay said...

I'm not really sure why this isn't clear. I don't have a theory that covers the Pima Indians. I don't know all the variables. Don't care either.

What I do have is hard evidence gathered over 20 years from people from around the country, from all walks of life, and just about every major race.

What I've discovered flies directly in the face of the so-called studies you mention. I mean, I guess my eyes were lying to me. So tout these studies until you're blue in the face and I'll keep calling them bullshit.

Sorry I'm not as impressed as you are by "studies". In an appeal to authority argument such as this, I will defer to my own.

GMay said...

"Nor do you want to. Or at least you didn't yesterday."

You're right, I didn't and still don't. When there's what I reasonably consider to be a major flaw in the premise, why waste my time?

Ken Mitchell said...

Human beings are omnivores. We'll eat anything that doesn't eat us first.

Yes, we ought to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but we also need to eat meat. We evolved as hunters; not exclusively so, but meat formed an important element in our evolutionary diet.

Look at the teeth of modern man; we have both incisors and canines, for cutting and tearing, but we also have molars for grinding. The enamel of the teeth of homo sapiens isn't as thick as that on the more vegetarian hominids; we can't afford to spend all of our time eating dirty roots and tubers!

Ken Mitchell said...

Kevin said..." 'The human being got smart by eating meat.' Well, that explains vegans..."

Old joke; "vegetarian" is old Indian word meaning "bad hunter".

Ken Mitchell said...

HT said...
" Exercising has not been proven to take off weight, in fact the opposite. "

True story: when I was in college and Navy OCS, one of my friends was perennially overweight. (So was I.) No matter how little Mark ate or how much he exercised, he was in excess of the Navy's weight standards. Anybody who LOOKED at him could see why; he was 5 foot six inches and built like one of Tolkein's dwarves. (The warrior variety.) The squadron commander tried to get a weight waiver, but his boss ordered him to do more "conditioning weight training" in school. No problem, Mark said; he practically lived at the gym anyway. He gained 15 pounds that semester. He could run circles around me, and in fact, he's the guy who practically dragged me around the track for our final physical fitness test. Mark, if you're reading this; Thanks. I still owe you.

When we graduated and went to Pensacola, the flight surgeon immediately saw the problem and put Mark into the buoyancy tank to get an ACCURATE measurement of his body fat index.

Four percent. FOUR.

Some people DO gain weight by exercising more.

LewisSmith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.