Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Rice Experiment

My daughter recently moved to Japan for school and discovered the Freshman 15. For folks who are not familiar with that phrase, it's used to describe what happens to people when they first go away to college and start eating in the cafeteria all the time.
"Cafeteria Diet Is a Robust Model of Human Metabolic Syndrome With Liver and Adipose Inflammation"
So the Freshman 15 refers to the 15 pounds you gain when you go away to college.

Except in Japan. There it refers to the 15 pounds that everyone loses when they first go on the Japanese diet in the cafeteria at school there. (Western food is basically not available.)

My daughter was not overweight, so I was surprised I started getting panicked texts from Japan about the fact that she now had "nothing to wear" as she'd leaned out so much that her jeans were too big. She's been on and off the Paleo diet over the last seven years, so she pretty much knew that it worked for her, and worked in the short-term.

But she was in Japan...

"So, what are you eating?"

"Rice. I've never eaten so much rice. I got a rice cooker, and all I'm eating is rice."
Obesity Among Adults, 2015 or Nearest Year


The Question
"Adult obesity rates are highest in the United States, Mexico, New Zealand and Hungary, while they are lowest in Japan and Korea."
If you buy the carbohydrate/insulin-causes-obesity model, this is a major paradox. The Japanese diet has long been predominantly carbohydrate-based. Obesity has been increasing over time (although obviously not by much), but it's been doing so as carbohydrate consumption has gone down from historically high levels.

If carbohydrates caused obesity, Japan would be one of the fattest nations on earth, not one of the thinnest.

Nevertheless, patterns of health in Japan have changed since WWII with the adoption of a more American-influenced diet. "Western" diseases have emerged, although they have been largely protected from much of the obesity epidemic affecting the rest of the Industrialized Nations.

Japan: Calorie Consumption and Breakdown by Type of Nutrient
So I got curious. When my daughter moved to Japan, she left behind her rice cooker, as it was too expensive to ship it over there.

So I had a perfectly nice, functional rice cooker sitting there gathering dust on the kitchen counter.

And I had a daughter in Japan who increased her rice consumption (along with a bunch of other changing variables) and leaned out.

I've also been doing a fair bit of reading about the Japanese diet and the changes thereto since the end of World War II. While I initially found the whole low-carb argument to be pretty compelling as a primary cause of obesity, there are a number of problems with it as a hypothesis. A hypothesis that generates paradoxes typically has some fundamental flaw. The most famous example of this is the French Paradox, where you have a hypothesis that says that saturated fat causes heart disease, and you have these French people who eat much more saturated fat than Americans, and yet have less heart disease. This led to the silly resveratrol fraud, to explain away the paradox.

The carb/insulin-causes-obesity hypothesis has an even worse paradox in Japan.

The Experiment

I was kind of inspired by Stephan Guyenet's recent expirment:
"Where the praties grow: My seven-day potato diet experiment"
In which he noticed that very little happened. Sounds good!

I've been eating low-carb for almost eight years now. I'm not religiously low-carb, as I'll have some rice or potatoes now and again, but I'll often go a week or so with no carbohydrates at all aside from what's in milk.

I've been weight-stable for that entire period, after a two-month initial weight-loss period, in which I went from about 185 to 168. I'd been at 168 until about a year ago, when I stopped going to the gym and lifting weights regularly, at which point I dropped to about 160, primarily (if the mirror is any indicator) from losing muscle mass in my upper body.

I used to weigh myself almost everyday, so I'm quite familiar with the ups and downs of my body weight, although it's frankly gotten quite boring, as I'm totally weight stable, absent muscle gain or loss. So for the last 18 months I've just been going by my belt, which is, at the end of the day, the best indicator. As a confounder, I've been lifting weights again, and my weight (and results in the mirror) have been increasing. This should not affect the belt.


Rice. Made in California.
Diet is my usual diet paleo/primal diet. I avoid wheat and seed oils, eat a fair bit of beef and the occasional pork, fish, and chicken, in that order. I eat fruit and vegetables in small quantities on a regular basis, but not every day. I eat some sugar, in the form of a candy bar or a bowl of ice cream one or twice a week. I recently tracked my calorie consumption for a day to prove a point, and it was about 2,700 kilocalories (kc). Counting calories was a horrible experience, and I won't be doing it again.

Cuisinart Rice Cooker. Don't buy this model.
It leaks and seems like it's going to explode.
I exercise consistently, running 3.3 miles at an aerobic pace 5 days a week, and trail run 8.25 miles one day a week. I do some minor weight lifting and body-weight exercises six days a week, as little as needed to see an effect.

Rice Bin. Optional
Rice was mostly the Nishiki sushi rice you see in the picture. I got some other rice at the beginning, but prefer this since Grace yells at me if I'm not sufficiently Japanese in these things. I don't know that it makes a difference, as starch is starch, basically. Most days I made one meal with rice, typically 3/4s of a cup dry, which, after adding 1 cup of water, yields about 3 cups of rice cooked. That's 241 kc/cup, or 723 kc total. That's 27.6% of my daily calorie intake, mostly from carbs, as there's about 9% protein in rice and a little bit of fat. So, technically, still low-carb, but far above my average daily intake for the last many years.

Meal with Rice, Beef, and Vegetables.
So I mostly ate the rice as my morning meal, after I'd done my run. Most days I did not have a second helping, but on a few I did, same amount, but with my evening meal. In keeping with the Japanese theme of things, I tried to make some Japanese-style meals, as seen at the right. Meat, mostly beef, some vegetables such as the red peppers and pickles you see to the right, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), and daikon radish (a Japanese radish) were typical. Sometimes I added a fried egg, cooked in butter.

In keeping with my philosophy that if you eat a healthy diet you should not need to obsess about it, I didn't, and didn't track closely. I started in late October, about at month after my daughter had arrived at school, and continued until the middle of December, at which point I stopped the experiment. See results.

Measurements were performed when I got dressed. As it happens, one of the very best measurements of the health of your diet is your waist, and your waist-to-height ratio.

J. Crew Black Leather Belt
The belt I used for this purpose is actually a terrific indicator of my overall health. I bought it at J. Crew back in the 1990s in my 20s, in my hipster phase (I've been told), and had to stop wearing it as my waist expanded in my late 20s. As I'm stubborn, and cheap, I put the belt and the pants I owned at that point in a box and kept them, with the goal that I would one day figure out why I was gaining weight and fix the problem. Having solved it, that belt is now again a standard part of my wardrobe.

If you look closely at the belt you'll see that the only worn hole is the second one. So buckling my belt to the second hole will be my measure, and it's clearly a long-term one.


So from late October to early December I had a helping of rice per day, infrequently two. Something had to go in this experiment, as and protein consumption tends to remain somewhat constant, my increase in rice calories caused a decrease in consumption of calories from dairy. Yogurt and milk (both full-fat) consumption went down dramatically.

I found a number of things surprising about this experiment.

I experienced "idiopathic postprandial syndrome" (IPS, aka hypoglycemia or "hangry") for a couple of days at the beginning. This was a regular part of my life prior to fixing my diet, and one of the main reasons I stay low-carb. Main symptom is the shakes and anxiety a few hours after a carb-containing meal. Oddly, however, this went away after the first few days, never to return.

Satiety increased. IPS is typically accompanied by carb cravings. Oddly, after the initial IPS and carb craving passed, I found the rice diet to be insanely satiating. Much more so than fat. I was pretty much done for the day after that rice meal in the morning. Most days I would have a second, smaller meal in the evening, or a large snack.

I really came to enjoy the rice! You'd think it would be pretty bland, but I came to quite enjoy the smell and taste, and to look forward to it.

Athletic performance remained the same. I didn't change my routine there, continuing to do my runs fasted in the morning, and noticed no difference, no change in carb cravings, and no problem with stamina when I was on my runs except for the first couple. I noticed no change in the increases I was seeing in my running pace and in my weight lifting routine, and the weight gain I was seeing continued as I would expect it to. I put on three pounds after starting to lift, and prior to starting this experiment, and I'm now up to 169. Mr. Mirror tells me it's going into my upper body (see below).

I do not test ketones, so I have no idea what those were doing. The fact that my fasted runs were unaffected suggests my metabolic flexibility was pretty good, as runs were still fueled by fat, as they took place typically about 22 hours after my rice meal.

Heart palpitations got pretty severe. I've experienced these for a long time, typically after eating carbs, especially sugar. It's usually in the form of skipped beats, and as at one point I went in for a stress test and they found nothing, I've not worried about it. The confounder here is that I have been pursuing a Maffetone Method fitness program for some months, and my max and resting heart rate have come down dramatically, and my running pace at a fixed heart rate has gone up quite a bit. The palpitations started before the rice experiment started, and ended (mostly) before it finished. But it was kind of annoying for a while there, although it never cause any interruption in my routine. So the palpitations may have been my heart restructuring as a result of the training.

So why did I quit? Well, after the middle of December I started putting on weight in my middle, and went from the second hole in my belt to the first. My recently-acquired jeans no longer fit.

Abort! Abort!

That happened suddenly in about a week.

I have no desire to put non-muscle weight on, and the fact that it hit the belt tells me that's what it was. So I've now been off rice for about a week an a half, and the belt now buckles on the second hole again, but still a bit snugger than before. As I mentioned, I've been weight-stable for a very long time. Two things will reliably cause me to add fat: salted pistachios and egg nog. (For me, two of the highest-reward foods going.) So when I suddenly start adding fat, and I'm not eating either one of those two foods, something is up.


Around the same time I decided to abort I talked to my daughter and she relayed that she was cutting back on the rice for the same reason. [P.S. I clarified this point, she's been gaining weight but it's muscle as she's been working out, so it's still working for her.]

Based on my reading about the Japanese diet, I figured this might actually work. But clearly I'm doing something different than they are.

My primary thought going into this was that the omega-6 fats were the primary cause of obesity, and that as I am very diligent in not eating them, that I would not experience any weight gain. That didn't work. There's some evidence that the omega-3 fats prevent obesity, and the fish-heavy Japanese diet would provide a lot of those, whereas mine does not. Stephan's potato experiment may have been too short to notice this, as it took about six weeks for the fat accretion to commence in my case.  I've always thought that carbs were a co-factor to omega-6, and I still think that's the case, but they may also be a stronger stand-alone factor than I had thought. Although we still have the Japanese paradox to account for...

In the short term, I'm going to let my waist get back to what I'd like it to be, and then I'm going to try it again. There may have been some other factor that I didn't notice that caused the sudden fat accretion, and I'm kind of curious to see if that's the case.

Since this is an n=1, the only way to account for such things is to remove the experimental substance, let conditions return to baseline, and then re-commence the experiment.

Plus I still have a couple pounds of rice in the pantry.

P.S. 1/8/2018: 

The rice experiment is back on. I I think that the slight increase in waist size is more a function of my increased training load than the rice consumption.

I ditched the rice for a bit, and saw no change, but have noticed that I'm getting noticable abdominal muscles, and have gotten some cramps in the abs. My glutes and hip flexors have also increased in size.

So I think this is a fine lesson in not doing two things at the same time when you're trying to conduct an experiment.

The belt is on the second notch still, it's just a bit snugger than before. Body weight was 175 (!) when I last measured it a few days ago. Again, from the mirror and my pants, the weight seems to be muscle.

So I'm back on the rice...

We shall see.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Soft Tissues In Feet And Shoe Type

Interesting study. It's been shown before that minimalist shoes increase muscle size in the feet, an effect that any barefoot-style runner has experienced first-hand.

But I wonder how much of the differences noted here are a chicken-and-egg situation, where runners with the right traits self-select into minimalist shoes? In other words, do the people whose Achilles tendon is too thin have injury and stop using them?

It's not known how much a tendon can adapt, and I can't certainly attest that it's no small task to try to make them!

The abductor hallucis is the muscle that controls the big toe. I get consistent soreness in that muscle in my weak foot, for instance, and you would think that eight years of nearly exclusive use of minimalist shoes and barefoot would be enough time to adapt...

Similarly, do the runners with a thinner heel pad select the insoles because they need insoles to heel strike?

"Recreational runners using minimalistic shoes demonstrated stiffer foot arches than those using neutral shoes. Among the selected foot muscles, only abductor hallucis showed a significant morphological difference between shoe groups. Runners using minimalistic shoes had the thickest abductor hallucis. The minimalistic shoe runners also showed a thinner proximal plantar fascia and a thicker Achilles tendon than other runners. Insole runners had a thinner heel pad than neutral shoe runners."

The morphology of foot soft tissues is associated with running shoe type in healthy recreational runners.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"AIP for IBD: The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and Inflammatory Bowel Disease"


Link via Chris Kresser

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Never mind what’s in them dear, just swallow the capsules"

"The capsules here contained wholesome faecal microbiome to prevent recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. A trial in 116 patients shows they achieve the same 96.2% success rate as the same thing inserted via a colonoscope. Good shit, as we used to say back in the hippy days. The capsules were rated as “not at all unpleasant” by 66% of the Canadians in this trial, and 44% said the same of colonoscopy. The winters are so long there."

Monday, December 4, 2017

N=Many on Omega-6 and Sunburn: Can Sunburn be Reduced?

A follow-up to "N=1 on Omega-6 and Sunburn: Can Sunburn be Reduced?", which I posted on twitter.

Which inspired me to bring this to Dr. Shawn Baker's attention, as he's been running the N=Many carnivory test, which has expanded into some other topics:

Intereresting, I guess it's not just me.

I got the idea from one of Mark Sisson's Success Stories, many years ago, and thought it was nuts until it happened to me too.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"How an Olympic Runner Hits Race Weight"

A fascinating article.

"You can't be super-lean all the time, so pick your moments—and watch your health"

Read the whole thing, it highlights the importance of consistency and preparation in training, racing, and recovery. It's most enlightening .

And amusing.

"It was a funny moment, as everyone in the audience silently (or audibly) wondered what would happen if they presented their spouse’s bathroom scale history to a roomful of strangers."

This I found particularly interesting. Our 'ideal' body composition is based on people who are starving themselves. Athletes and models restrict calories to look as lean as they do. It's particularly harmful for women.

"“Data is emerging to suggest that it is not sustainable from a health and/or performance perspective to be at peak body composition year-round,” Trent writes, “so body composition needs to be strategically periodized.” In other words, you can’t be race-fit all the time or you’ll get sick or injured."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

N=1 on Omega-6 and Sunburn: Can Sunburn be Reduced?

I got the following message recently, out of the blue:
This was, I presume, in response to a few tweets on this topic, which I had been discussing with a few other people.
My correspondent wishes to remain anonymous, for reasons you'll see below, but I was curious to see what his experience actually was, and why he decided to look into this. He agreed to let me post the exchange we had.

[Edited for readability; PUFA = PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acids; n-6 = omega-6 fats from seed oils, n-3 = omega-3 fats from fish or certain seeds.]
I do have a question for you though, what did you do to cut back on omega-6, and how long did it take for you to notice a difference?

Thanks for this!! Well I started to look and consume less n-6 after reading your posts!!
I used to get some serious sunburn on my long runs. So upped n-3 and consumed less n-6... It's actually pretty amazing to run without a shirt, for three-plus hours and have NO sunburn at all!!! That's why I enjoy your posts!
I think Noakes here in South Africa has done a great job, but you are one of the few that emphasize PUFA/n-6 as an issue...I see many people here in SA do Banting, but use copious amounts of sunflower oil...Noakes should address this...
My old man similarly was on Noakes banting diet, but they were extremely high on n-6, so I showed them your tweets... They are doing stellar now... With my dad as with me it took as long as 6 months to see a difference, but I should add that we lowered n-6 and also upped n-3, with krill oil.
Your tweets have resulted in our entire town cutting back on PUFA's. In fact, I told some guys about your tweets and I said that I would rather be high carb and low PUFA/n-6 than low carb and high PUFA/n-6.
Thanks so much for the reply! You should come visit and run Comrades here some time!!
Reports like this are what makes doing this work worthwhile. Thanks for letting me know!

I'll see if I can pass this along to Professor Noakes, as I'm sure he'd be fascinated to hear this report as well.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Alastair Reynolds' "Poseidon's Wake"

tl;dr: I need to find a book that I like.

I've read a number of Alastair Reynolds' books in the past, and have enjoyed them all, although I noticed a flaw in a number of them that was particularly notable in this book.  So when I took Poseidon's Wake out of the library, I was quite excited.

The premise of the book is a good one: ship thought destroyed turns out to instead have been cast light years across space; a message from it is received.

The bulk of the book is then the response to this message, I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that a mission to the ship is dispatched.

The world building is pretty good, although there are a number of elements that cause it to creak, some of which are the fault of the author, and some of the publisher.  In many parts it's reminiscent of the world-building of Arthur C. Clarke, with a cast that would be today described as "minority", although since apparently all the Europeans have gone  missing, that term is really an anachronism. Labels are in Swahili and Chinese, it's mentioned several times.

Ultimately though, I found this book to be supremely dissatisfying, so much so that it was a struggle to finish.  I distinctly recall page 488, as that was the page at which I looked at the page number and said to myself, "How much longer?"  Over one hundred pages, was the unfortunate answer.

So the problems: let's start with the publisher. When I finished the book, I turned to the acknowledgements page, to discover that his was the third of three books. Huh?

Nowhere on the outside of the book is this fact mentioned, the inside flap mentions "in the conclusion of his epic saga", but one shouldn't have to hunt for this information! No doubt the publishers, noting that each version of a series sells fewer copies, decided to elide this information in order to sell a few more.

So, much of my initial reaction, that much of the world-building is absent, is likely because it was in the two prior installments.  No fault of the author.

What is the fault of the author is the bad elements of world building, the plot, and the characters.

There are a number of major world building problems, however. It won't take anything away to observe that a major plot point involves elephants in space.  As you might imagine, elephants aren't well suited to space, or space suits. Elephants, you see, are prolific creators of dung. Elephant dung is mentioned a number of times, in particular when the villian anounces that she must clear her bowels before getting into a space suit. I'd already begun wondering how this problem was handled, as the dung in spaceships issue had been mentioned as a problem earlier. The solution to how elephants evacuate themselves in spacesuits is never resolved, however. Given that elephants in space suits desperately trying to get inside becomes a issue at one point, one was left wondering if they were desperate to evacuate their bowels. This is an issue which was not resolved in the novel, however.

That's just one example of a deus ex machina approach to story-telling.  Reconfigure an entire spaceship to make it suitable for elephants?  Sure, no problem!  Couple days' work.  Fix a hole in the hull? Sorry, that's a year or more. It just makes no sense.

I enjoyed a few of the characters, including the captain of the ship dispatched to find this missing ship, and the artificial intelligence robot Swift, who plays a crucial role and is an enjoyable character. The protagonist, who appears to be an interesting, likable man at the beginning of the story, turns out to be an idiot. I can't recall a single instance where the opportunity to make a mistake arose and he failed to take that opportunity. He gets treason out of the way early on, so most of the remaining mistakes are more minor, until later, but they grate. I thought this was just ill-considered storytelling on the part of Mr. Reynolds, until he has the character recount his entire history of idiotic mistakes at the end of the book, and realize it must have been intentional. It may well have been, but it didn't make for an enjoyable read.

One additional major mistake appears just before what would have been, in a better-crafted book, the climax.  I recall an episode of an old TV series (it may have been The Dukes of Hazzard), where in order to prevent the progress of a villian, our heroes affixed a chain from the engine of his car to a tree.  What happened to that car as the villian attempted to speed away from the tree is roughly what happens to this book when the fool of a protagonist makes this crucial mistake.  The engine is ripped out, although the vehicle continues to move.

The thrust of the plot up until that point seems to be forgotten, the crucial danger that our protagonist was willing to commit suicide to prevent just disappears.  The entire story falls apart at that point. Mind you, at the very end of a trilogy!

Sadly, the book still has a ways to go.  Much of the rest involves the other characters congratulating our protagonist for his idiocy, which turns out to have been entirely pointless, as the danger never materializes, and his "moral victory" turns out to be almost entirely Pyhrric.

While I was initially annoyed that the publisher mislead me into reading the third book of a trilogy first, something I prefer not to do, I now realize that they did me a favor.

The intense dismay and annoyance that I experienced as what should have been an enjoyable read fell apart in my hands would have been far worse had I read the prior two books first.

The Importance of Negative Splits

"In the 2016 US men's Olympic marathon trials, only three of the 108 entrants ran the second half faster: the men who came in first, second, and third."
Fascinating article.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

[Cordain's] Paleo vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

Interesting comparison by Phinney and Volek, but not one that I endorse, as they’re using Cordain's Paleo Diet, which I think is silly in some respects.

"There are a lot of similarities between Paleolithic (Paleo) and ketogenic diets (KD), particularly when compared to the now discredited ‘Standard American’ low fat, high carbohydrate diet....

"By definition, a ‘ketogenic diet’ allows your body to be in nutritional ketosis, whereas a Paleo diet seems to be purposefully designed to prevent it."

That version, maybe, but I agree with many of their crticisms, although some are bizarre:

"Nagging stomach and bowel issues go away (a common side effect of a high protein diet)..."


My own view is that a paleo diet should be ketogenic a lot of the time, and that's fine. And likely included whatever dairy they could get their hands on.

OK, so read and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Seven Phases of Heart-Rate Training

So you've decided to start heart-rate training (HRT). Congratulations! Or you've been training and you've hit a rough patch, and need a little encouragement. Since I discovered it through the work of Dr. Phil Maffetone several years ago I have enjoyed great success with it, and I've seen others also enjoy the benefits.

But, HRT can be a bit challenging. The key to HRT is that most of your workouts are, well, easy. But the mental part of it can be tough, especially if you're a hard-charging Type A personality.  Extremely challenging!

So I thought I'd lay out the seven phases of HR training to help those who might think they're the only ones feeling that way, and help them get through the tough parts. (This is written from a beginner's perspective, a world-record athlete like Zach Bitter may jump directly to Horror, as he already has a base.)

1. Anticipation

You've read about the amazing success that some athlete (Mark Allen, etc.) has achieved on the Maffetone Method, and you're raring to go. You've probably done your first run or two, and you're thinking to yourself, this is easy! It's great! I can totally do this, I'll be setting a Personal Record (PR) in no time! Enjoy it while it lasts, because what comes quickly after is:

2. Hatred

"You've got to be kidding me!", you say as your HR monitor (HRM) goes off for the umpteenth time on that run or ride, telling you you're going too fast, and you need to slow down. You already thought you were going slow! And now you have to slow down even more? This is insane! My most clear memory of hating the Method and Dr. Maffetone personally was when I was going up a 21-degree grade, and I literally could not walk slowly enough to keep my HR under the target I was using. "The heck with Dr. Phil, I need to get home!" Take this as consolation: if you're doing it right, you will hate it at the beginning. So it's a good sign.

3. Resignation

This is, without a doubt, the toughest part. If you're going to bail from HR training, you're going to do it here. You'll have thoughts that this was a mistake, and you'll go re-read the material on the Method to make sure that you're doing it correctly. You are. It's not that hard, you really can't mess it up. You just need to resign yourself that it, well, sucks, at the beginning.

4. Acceptance

If you can accept that this is how it should be, and accept the notion that what you've discovered in 2 and 3 is that your engine is broken, and this is how you fix it, you'll make it through. You'll also begin to enjoy the easy pace, and begin to anticipate your HR readings. You'll start walking before the HRM goes off when you reach a hill. You'll love the fact that you can train every day, and that you won't suffer any problems from training. You'll miss your friends you used to train with, but you'll be seeing some gains, and you'll be in it for the long haul.

5. Horror

Yes, Horror. After you've come to accept and even enjoy the slow and easy pace, the moment will come when you're walking up a hill and your HRM alert will go off. You'll look down, as you're surprised that you've gone over your HR target, as you'd become pretty adept at anticipating it. But you're not over the target, you're below the bottom of the range. You have to speed up. Soon you'll notice that you have to speed up going down hills, as you've gone through the bottom of the range. You'll find you have to start running going up hills! Then you'll find that you're pushing the pace to stay in the range.  Yes, this is what you hoped for, but you'll realize that you've strapped a coach to your wrist, and he's starting to crack the whip. The easy times are beginning to end, your legs are beginning to get sore at the end of runs, and you're working! Egads!

6. Exhilaration

My moment of exhilaration came when I ran a race during my first year of HR training. I'd done some good times, PRs, and was quite happy. But I came down sick during the last race, and had to walk back to the finish line. It was pretty disappointing. I'd already paid for this race, and wasn't sure if I was over the bug. But I figured I'd run it anyway, so I ran at an easy pace, and just enjoyed the trails. But when I got to the finish line, I had PR'ed! Without even trying! This was fantastic!

7. Success

I had many successes, as during that first year I ran 9 races, was sick for two and didn't finish, but PR'ed in the other 7, breaking all my records. I was pretty stoked. This was the last race of the season for me, a half-marathon on a hilly course in my home town. The last two miles were uphill! At the beginning I ran with a friend who was a good bit faster than me, and as I was pacing myself, he slowed down so we could chat. When we got to the hills and I slowed down he dropped me and headed out of sight. Oh well. The halfway mark was at the bottom of a long downhill stretch, and I caught back up to my friend. We again ran together for a little bit, and this time I dropped him. Over the second half of the course, I gained 10 minutes, and finished with a PR, eclipsing my PR from a 1/2 four months earlier on a flat course. Not only had I beaten my fast friend by 10 minutes, but it was the easiest race I'd ever run. I was so well fat-adapted at this point that I had my end-of-race coffee, and then forgot to eat for four hours.

Needless to say, after that first year I've stuck with heart-rate training. My consistency has wavered, affecting my pace, but I know that I have a solid recipe for success for whenever I need it. It turned me from a reluctant runner for health reasons into a runner who runs because he loves to. It's been a real gift!

The most valuable lesson has been that when I waver from using HR as a guide, that's when I get myself into trouble. But that's another post.

Enjoy, and stick it out. It will be worth it!

P.S. Since the question was asked, I use a Garmin Forerunner 225, original model. It's fine as a running watch, the main feature I wanted was the wrist-based HRM. I'll never go back to the chest strap!

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Running in a minimalist and lightweight shoe is not the same as running barefoot: a biomechanical study"

Yep. Now it's official!

"Experimental conditions
"The protocol involved four experimental conditions: (1) barefoot; (2) a minimalist shoe (NIKE Free 3.0); (3) a lightweight racing flat (NIKE LunaRacer2) and (4) the shoe in which they were currently completing the most training mileage (herein called regular shoe)....

"Barefoot running was different to all shod conditions. Barefoot running changes the amount of work done at the knee and ankle joints and this may have therapeutic and performance implications for runners."

Full-text at the link.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Omega-6 Fats: The Alternative Hypothesis for Chronic Disease

People have been asking me to write a post on what I've been learning about diet for a long time, specifically focusing on linoleic acid and omega-6 fats. Well, here it is.  Credit goes to Raphi Sirt of Break Nutrition, who hit me up at just the right time.

Here's the published version over at BN ("Omega-6 Fats: the Alternative Hypothesis for Diseases of Civilization"), and here's the tweet announcing its publication:

Reception seems to have been quite good.  Mark Sisson mentioned it in his weekly 'net round-up, and then re-tweeted it separately:
Prof. Tim Noakes also retweeted the original tweet. Probably my favorite reaction was this one:
So I was pretty happy with the reception, and with the piece. Raphi was a good editor, and added a lot to it with some citations to studies backing up the argument that I'd never seen before. So if you're interested in the topic, go read that version.

Raphi also asked me to be on his podcast. Due to my verbosity, and prediliction to avoid brevity and drill down, it turned into two episodes. They're below, in order.

Episode 23 – Tucker Goodrich dishes on bad fats

Episode 24 – Tucker and Gabor on Seed Oils vs Refined Carbs – Part 2

I thought I would post the first draft here, mainly to get it off my hard drive, but also to have something to reference in posts on this blog. Links to citations, if you're curious, are in the final.

So here's the rough draft as delivered to Raphi:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: "This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol..." by Annie Grace

tl;dr: If you've ever thought about your drinking, you should probably read This Naked Mind. It's that fundamental—it's the owner's manual for alcohol.
"Can I still drink alcohol?" — Everyone's First Question About Fixing Diet
Alcohol consumption is one of the first questions that comes up after I start discussing the topic of a healthy diet with people. I always laugh, and say, "Well, alcohol's a poison, of course, so you don't want to overdo it..."

And, like most who try to eat well, I make alcohol a part of my "healthy" diet.

We also hear in the media that "moderate" consumption of alcohol is healthier than consuming none. I've never believed this, first because it's based on epidemiology, and second because I think it's a bit silly. Alcohol is a poison, and I don't think that consuming "moderate" amounts of a poison is ever really going to improve health, unless it's counter-acting some other poison. In which case the logical course is to stop consuming the first poison, not to add the second.

I was discussing the topic of booze with a friend one day recently, and she recommended this book. Despite this blog basically being a self-help blog, inspired by a self-help book (McDougall's Born to Run), I hate self-help books. Most of them I find tedious, repetitions of obvious things that we all know and know we should do.

Those that I've found valuable and compelling enough to actually alter my behavior, like BtR or Stephan Guyenet's Whole Health Source blog, contained a combination of some truths that I was aware of, and had acted upon; some validation or proof of another truth that I had considered, but had not acted upon; and then, having been pulled to that point, some other truths that I would soon be acting upon. It has been a powerful combination.

Grace's book is that kind of self-help book.

This is not a hellfire-and-brimstone anti-drinking book. I had those classes in high school, and they're a bit ridiculous. My reaction upon reading the definition of an alcoholic in that class was, "That's everybody!" Defining a disease so broadly as to include everyone is silly.

Grace does not make that mistake. She observes how widespread drinking and abuse of drinking is, as a book like this must, but she doesn't harp on it, and there are no stupid generalizations. As she explains:
"I have not given you definitive direction to stop drinking altogether. I have a hard time with rules. If there is a rule I must follow, my every instinct is to break it. A definitive statement to answer this question is difficult. I don’t want to write a rule and have the rebels, like myself, feel that they are bound. I would much rather present you with all the facts, allowing you to come to the decision that is best for you."
And, compellingly, she focuses on the subtle effects that alcohol has on the individual, the moderate drinker. She states her goal early:
"As you uncover the truth, your perception will begin to change, both consciously and unconsciously, and with this knowledge you will no longer desire alcohol. You will be free."
Then she begins to go through the facts:
"As John A. Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale, put it, “Unconscious systems are continually furnishing suggestions about what to do next and the brain is acting on those, all before conscious awareness. Sometimes those goals are in line with our conscious intentions and purposes and sometimes they’re not. ”
I've often thought that our conscious mind is really nothing more than a passenger in our body, driving to some extent, but often just carried along, so this really hit a note.
"While scientists used to believe dopamine was linked to feeling good, they now believe that dopamine is linked to learning, and learning includes wanting, expecting, and craving."
So essentially what is happening is that by activating your dopamine system, alcohol is training you, like a rat in a cage, to subconsciously crave more alcohol.

Grace goes through the consequences of that, and notes that while we can use our willpower to moderate that craving, "willpower is a finite and exhaustible resource, much like a muscle, that can be fatigued." So when you wake up in the morning and find out that you had "a little too much to drink last night", you're responding to a powerful chemical stimulus with a muscle that probably fatigued. It's no surprise that all find themselves over-indulging occasionally. The surprise would be if none did.

She does go through the many negative consequences of alcohol. It's a known carcinogen, with no non-carcinogenic dose, other than zero. We all know it alters behavior, but not how pervasive those alterations can be, and there were a few moments where I found myself thinking, "Oh...", with a bit of chagrin. None of us likes to discover we're an unwitting puppet to a chemical.
"Now that you know the naked truth about alcohol and what it has been doing to you, your body, and your mind, you’ll be able to act."
One particularly amusing little anecdote struck me, as it describes me and, probably, everyone who will read this review on this blog:
"Everyone at the table was intelligent and seemed very in control of their drinking, yet there they were, drinking a known poison in massive quantities and speculating about the possibility of plastic leaching into their drinking water."
Yes, put like that, it seems downright stupid.

The book is also well-written, and enjoyable. She has a terrific voice, is clearly intelligent, and includes some great quotes:
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi
So yes, the book is a mind-bomb.

If you've ever reflected on drinking and it's role in your life, this is a terrific book to read. It's a great book if you've wondered about the health consequences of drinking, and more important, may enlighten you to some behavioral consequences of drinking of which you had not been aware.

Her intent, if you choose to let her by reading the whole thing, is to alter how you think about and look at alcohol forever. It certainly had that effect on me. Much like first reading BtR, that niggling doubt, that nascent thought, has been validated, brought to the fore, and now demands action.

You couldn't ask for more from a book.

Highly Recommended.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Science catches up, eventually

Literally decades after Noakes observed this must be the case, this study comes out:

"These results suggests that maximal fat oxidation rate exert an independent influence on ultra-endurance performance (>9 h). Furthermore, we demonstrate that 50% of the variation in Ironman triathlon race time can be explained by peak oxygen uptake and maximal fat oxidation."
Phil Maffetone had been training Mark Allen to promote fat-burning for some time in order to produce the result Noakes noted in his book 14 years ago.

This is the problem with using published science as a guide: it's often so slow and so far behind practice that it's utterly useless.

It's also a nice reminder of what a genius Maffetone is, as the literature is still catching up to him.

Friday, November 3, 2017

"The Prevalence of Overfat Adults and Children in the US"

The latest from Dr. Phil Maffetone:

"In the US, 91% of adults and 69% of children are estimated to be overfat.

"Despite previous indications that the prevalence of individuals categorized as being overweight and obese is leveling, their prevalence is currently at their highest rates in US history."

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How Much Omega-3 Is Too Much?

tl;dr: A lot, pretty much nothing but. It's very unlikely anyone would experience this by accident.
"It took roughly a month to achieve a clear overdose. I generally felt very good, improving health overall, for the first two weeks. It leveled off after that. Around 3 weeks, I noticed that foods seemed to taste more bitter, especially potassium rich foods and I felt a little bit off from my peak, but not too much. In some ways, it felt a little like when you take a high dose NSAID for a long time, you don’t feel bad necessarily, but you can kind of feel that your body is just a little bit off from its normal homeostasis with maybe a touch of dysphoria. I also began to have this bizarre intense craving for foods rich in oleic acid, which is something I’ve had never experienced prior or since."
Read the whole thing .

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"But Noakes won’t shut up or go away..."

"...because he has a steel spine and refuses to be intimidated by bullies."

And God bless him for that.

Read the whole thing .

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Let's Talk About Thyroid -- Low-Carb or Ketogenic Diets and Thyroid Function"

A nice mention by Amy Berger at Tuit Nutrition of my thyroid post, "Thyroid and Low-Carb: What Do Thyroid Hormones Do?".

Here's an excerpt:

"The effect of low carb diets on thyroid health is quite the controversial issue. Some people following a low carb or ketogenic way of eating find that their T3 decreases after a while. At first glance, we might take this to mean that low carb causes a slowdown in metabolism, or maybe it has other negative downstream effects. On the other hand, physicians and researchers who’ve spent decades improving the lives of their patients with low carb and ketogenic diets have not reported adverse effects on thyroid function. So what’s the deal?"

Read the whole thing, and thanks for the mention, Amy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review: "The Way of Chuang Tzu" by Thomas Merton

tl;dr: The Way of Chuang Tzu is a fascinating look at Eastern philosophy from a Western, Catholic perspective, many of Tzu's writings as presented here are almost poetic, and do not require being read in sequence. Well worth reading to understand the commonalities in philosophy between two great religions and civilizations.

It may seem odd to read a book about Eastern philosophy written by, of all people, a Catholic monk, but I became interested in the intersection after being dragooned into watching Japanese anime such as Noragami and Kamisama Kiss and being surprised by what I initially thought were strong Catholic elements to the stories and morality.

But as I quickly learned, the Catholic influence on Japan was rather minute, as the Japanese government was not receptive to Catholic missionaries, and in fact banned them from the country, and killed those they found along with their converts.

The influence instead stems both from Japan's native Shinto, and from Zen Buddhism, the two dominant religions in the country. And Zen derives largely from Chinese Taoist philosophy, hence my interest in this book.

Two Chinese Men
Chuang Tzu was a Taoist writer who lived and wrote during the third and fourth centuries B.C., and is regarded as one of the greatest such writers, although he is not the most well-known. Tao (道) is a Chinese word meaning "way" (the Way of the title of this book), and while it has roots in the Hinduism from which sprung Buddhism, is more of a philosophy of living than a religion, although it clearly has religious aspects. It is the foundation of much of Chinese culture.

Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk who became quite famous in the middle of the 20th Century, and had a fascination with Eastern religious practices and philosophies.

As Merton states in his Introduction:
"The rather special nature of this book calls for some explanation. The texts from Chuang Tzu assembled here are the result of five years of reading, study, annotation, and meditation. The notes have in time acquired a shape of their own and have become, as it were, "imitations" of Chuang Tzu, or rather, free interpretative readings of characteristic passages which appeal especially to me. These "readings" of my own grew out of a comparison of four of the best translations of Chuang Tzu into western languages, two English, one French, and one German. In reading these translations I found very notable differences, and soon realized that all who have translated Chuang Tzu have had to do a great deal of guessing."
So far from being a primary source, it's is a translation twice removed, once from the Chinese, and once through Father Merton's unique lens.

Lest you think this makes this work less important, Amazon lists it as their #1 Best Seller in Asian Literature, and the it features an introduction by the Dalai Lama, who was a friend of Merton during his life, and a fan of this work.

Merton has a short discussion of Tzu and his work and influence at the beginning, but most of the text are from Tzu, or from his disciples.

Topic covered include "The Importance of Being Toothless", "The Need to Win", and the surprising "Flight From Benevolence":
"When justice and benevolence are in the air, a few people are really concerned with the good of others, but the majority are aware that this is a good thing, ripe for exploitation. They take advantage of the situation. For them, benevolence and justice are traps to catch birds. Thus benevolence and justice rapidly come to be associated with fraud and hypocrisy. Then everybody doubts. And that is when trouble really begins.  
"King Yao knows how dutiful and upright officers benefit the nation, but he does not know what harm comes from their uprightness: they are a front behind which crooks operate more securely. But you have to see this situation objectively to realize it. 
"There are three classes of people to be taken into account: yes-men, blood-suckers, and operators..."
A rather astute observation from 2,300 years ago!

Much of the book, however, revolves more around what it means to be a man of Tao, or a man of the way.
"For Chuang Tzu, the truly great man is therefore not the man who has, by a lifetime of study and practice, accumulated a great fund of virtue and merit, but the man in whom 'Tao acts without impediment,' the 'man of Tao.' Several of the texts in this present book describe the 'man of Tao.'"
Much of what is presented here will not prove at odds with Christianity, in fact the many commonalities are what drew Merton to his study of Eastern philosophy and religion.

It's a terrific introduction to a wide area of study and understanding, and for those not steeped in Chinese philosophy, Merton serves as an excellent guide.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Eight Years Later: Ouch.

So it finally happened. After eight years of barefoot-style running, I finally had to cut short a run due to a foot injury yesterday.

I was out on a trail, running over a damp stone wall, when my trailing foot slipped out from under me, leaving me unsupported. I landed hard on the leading foot on a flat rock, and kept running. I thought I was uninjured.

But about five minutes later, I realized something was wrong with the foot that had slammed into the rock.

I seem to have bruised the top of the arch on that foot, and as almost every step involved hitting another rock with the bruised arch, it was going to be a long run.

I decided to bail at that point, and was able to slowly jog back to the parking lot.

Limped around all afternoon, but it seems OK this morning.

Not a bad stretch to go without an injury!

I was wearing my Luna Sandals on this run. But a damp, slippery rock will be a hazard regardless!

P.S. As the foot felt fine this morning, I did a three-mile run. Arch twinged a little during first mile, then was fine.

Amazing how fast feet heal! It's like they're meant to be banged against rocks!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"There’s Something Uniquely Terrible about Wheat in the U.S."

Mark Sisson is an intelligent man, and a careful observer. His anecdotes are therefore worth more than most published reasearch.

From his post on observations while traveling abroad:

"...This means I’m quite attuned to the quality of wheat. Wheat simply doesn’t affect me to the same degree in other countries. When I was in Greece, a couple times I had some baklava after dinner or pita dipped in hummus or olive oil. Pita is unleavened. It certainly isn’t fermented. It’s about as unaltered as you can get. And it didn’t affect me...."

And this:

"Industrial Food is Addictive

"...It’s a damn shame. but industrial food always wins. It’s supposed to, and that’s the problem."

"Discovering New York’s Ultra Scene"

By Ken Posner, who would be the guy to ask...

"...We certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision."

Why not discuss it? It's child abuse, plain and simple, which is why they took the child away from his parents.

They obviously don't understand the basics of raising a human.

"Baby raised on vegan diet hospitalized for malnutrition, taken from parents"

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Where the praties grow: My seven-day potato diet experiment"

In which our hero encounters the high-carb flu.

Interesting symptom, I suspect due to mitochondrial restructuring to accommodate an altered micronutrient ratio. Makes sense it should go both ways.

I've no interest in trying this experiment, but that's mainly from the eagerness the Irish part of my family showed in avoiding a high-potato diet.

The population explosion the Irish experienced on potatoes, as Guyenet relates, speaks to its healthfulness.

Note how appealing everything else became!

"After a few days on the diet, non-potato foods began to taste fabulous.  I always enjoy fresh vegetables from my garden, but while I was on the potato diet, simple tomato or lettuce salads with vinaigrette dressing were delectable."

Potatoes, the spice of life! Read the whole thing.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"A dose of fructose induces oxidative stress during endurance and strength exercise"


One of those studies I would love to see done in a low-omega-6 context.

But I presume this is what accounts for the recovery benefit that low-carb athletes see.

The Best Advice on Running Ever

“Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high that hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practice that for so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smoooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.” — Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Barefoot hiking in the Adirondacks

Great post from the legendary Kenneth Posner.

"Without the extra weight, I scampered upwards, the anorthosite rock faces offering great traction for bare feet, and managed to pass a handful of shod hikers, which is always fun."

He carried FiveFingers as fallback shoes (always wise to have fallback shoes!), and used them a few times.

My Daughter's Blog: Grace Under Pressure

My elder daughter has started a blog, to catalog her adventures attending school in Japan.

Here's her latest, where she details frantic efforts to secure a flight into an area about to be hit by a hurricane.

"The Longest Trip Ever: My Flight to School"

She's a great writer—very funny. Check it out and subscribe if you enjoy it!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"The Seven Pillars of Running Wisdom"

Must-read, and great advice for any sport.

Alex Hutchinson is ending his Sweat Science column, and it will be missed, this is his summation of what he learned.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

Omega PUFA types and effect on gut microbiome

Type of fat matters.

"A host-microbiome interaction mediates the opposing effects of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids on metabolic endotoxemia"


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Software Eats the World, But Biology Eats It"

If you want to know why Microsoft and Google's efforts will fail...

Link via In the Pipeline

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Tripping Over the Truth"

'Is Cancer a Metabolic Disease?' Yes, it is...

Link via The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

"Vitamin C – an update"

Five-fold reduction in death from sepsis. Impressive.

Link via Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"The Great BirthdayShoes Garage Clean-up"

Please help this man!

Link via Toe Shoes, Barefoot or Minimalist Shoes, and Vibram FiveFingers Reviews, News, Forums | Birthday Shoes

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"Climate Change Activist’s Barefoot Walk Across America Ends in Tragedy"


Link via NYT > Home Page

"How a decade-old sports science article changed my relationship with running for the better"

In the span of a few pages, anthropologist Daniel Lieberman and biologist Dennis Bramble explained how human physiology is better suited for distance running than almost any other animal’s. And what’s more is that running was critical in allowing our ancient ancestors to out-compete other predators for prey. Running wasn’t an invention of modern fitness culture, it was as natural and uniquely human as the capacity for abstract thought.

I had a similar reaction to learning about Lieberman and Bramble's research, although my exposure was through Born to Run, which is a fantastic read on its own.

Prof. Lieberman is one of the most learned individuals I've ever had the pleasure to encounter. If you'd like to learn more about his research and thinking, I highly recommend his The Story of the Human Body.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"In the past we knew how to run for our livelihood"

Progress. Sigh.

Link via Tracking Science

Review: "Dune: The Butlerian Jihad"

Dune, if you're not familiar with it, is the most popular and well-regarded science fiction novel ever written.  It's one of my personal favorites, I've read the entire six-book series many times over.

Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, is not one of the original six books, however, and is not written by the same author.  It's the fourth pre-quel book written by the original author's son and his co-writer.

I've avoided the Dune prequels for the same reason I avoid most other attempts to capitalize on successful stories by other authors.  They usually disappoint.

In this case I skipped the first three pre-quels and started with the fourth, as it's largely an independent story, and I hoped they'd gotten their writing and story-telling sorted out, as I'd heard not-good things about their earlier efforts.

Luckily, I took it out of the library.

I won't go into great detail about this book, other than to say the low-star reviews at Amazon or Goodreads reflect my views.  The writing is poor, the story-telling implausible, character motivation is often questionable, and large swathes of what this book was supposed to be about were discarded. The authors do away with the religious motivation for the jihad, for instance, which guts the story. Happily that's not made clear until the very end. Dune was notable for its intelligence,  they did away with that, too.

So if you're looking for an extension of your experience with Dune as I was, skip it.

I did find the story some what entertaining, however, as some of the attempts to fill in the story from the original novels was interesting (it was supposedly based on the original authors notes), but it was soured by the poor and in-your-face story-telling.  So I'm not entirely unhappy that I read the thing.

But I am very happy to have taken it out of the library.  I'll skip the rest.

Dune and the other five books in the original series are magnificent, however.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.