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Geoff Bond and that thorny macronutrient problem

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  • Geoff Bond and that thorny macronutrient problem

    I just checked out Geoff Bond's site - haven't looked there for years, and I wondered what he was currently saying.

    I was interested partly because I know he was an anthropologist at one time - though I can't get a handle on that. All I can find on his site is a statement that he "spent 15 years of his early career living and working in remote African villages". I think he's maybe qualified as a medic as well, and that would refer to that. I don't know how much fieldwork among hunter-gatherers he's done, though certainly some, and that makes him interesting.

    What I'm not sure about is how much of his dietary advice actually comes from observations among hunter-gatherers, and how much is gleaned from people like Loren Cordain. I tend to think that's also true of Richard Rudgely:

    Lost Civilisations Of The Stone Age: A Journey Back to Our Cultural Origins: Richard Rudgley: 9780099223726: Books

    That's a problem, because if you take statements from anthropologists about likely Paleolithic patterns of eating as true because they are anthropologists - but the anthropologists in question have gone to the books of people like Cordain to get their notions you've got something circular going on.

    And again some of Bond sounds like conventional wisdom from dietary and medical circles, such as the warnings about fat. There's a certain amount of that in Professor Cordain, too - see also salt - although his position has tended to shift over the years in some areas. And even where there is reference to actual observation, how much of it went on? And is what people see dependent on what they expect to see, and how they interpret what they see - on the glasses they're wearing. Of course, it is.

    Anyway, have a look at his latest published piece for a magazine, if you're interested. It's on his site in the form of four PDFS, one for each magazine page.

    The Bond Effect Press Articles General Index

    It's called "Life on the Wild Side".

    Certainly attractive graphics and presentation. But it's actually a little on the light side as regards content, and I think much of it is debatable.

    One interesting feature is that he draws up his own "food pyramid". In this there's:

    6 servings of salads
    5 servings of non-starchy vegetables
    4 servings of fruits
    4 servings of fish, poultry, eggs and nuts

    At the top of the pyramid we have, bracketed together, "good oils" and "lapses" (which I guess means doughnuts, cakes, beers of whatever the Bond Dieter can't resist) and the number for these is "sparing".

    It's an interesting take, but I remain unconvinced. I like salads and vegetables, but I wonder about chewing my way through eleven servings of them. I assume a "serving" of fish or poultry (he seems wary of red meat and it significantly doesn't appear in the graphic) is a couple of ounces from other things he says, so I guess this is around 8 ounces over the day - a serving each for breakfast and lunch and two servings in the evening perhaps. There's a lot of fruit.

    Now I come to why I entitled this post "that thorny macronutrient problem". Because that's reared it's head again, hasn't it? Behind a lot of these diets there's the question: "Where are you getting your energy from?"

    For the mainstream, the answer is obvious: wholegrains (they know by now that refined carbohydrate is a bad idea). And actually, while there are big problems with that answer, and while the USDA has exploited it and pushed it to extremes to benefit the US agricultural industry, I think we tend forget how obvious it does seem when you haven't, for example, read this:

    If you asked your great-grandparents or great-great grandparents, back in the 19th century what they ate, you'd find people who ate as much meat as they could get, who generally ate plenty of vegetables and probably relished them, who were not afraid of fat, but who certainly thought in terms of a fair amount of bread, porridge and potatoes (and other root veg - parsnip, turnip, swede, etc).

    Geoff Bond is obviously looking askance at the potatoes, as well as the grains, as Professor Cordain does. And I guess this is because both men have tied themselves to the glycemic index system.

    For the Weston A. Price Foundation there's a slightly different answer, and it's a subtle and interesting one. It's "prepare the grains in a traditional manner". This means sourdough, sour porridges, etc. And they eschew glycemic index, too, so they're happy with the potatoes. WAPF style seems to be something like around 20 to 30% of calories as carbohydrate, and they're not afraid of fat, so they make up some of the caloric value that way.

    But here's a third solution. (And there's a fourth coming up). You eat low carb. This is increasingly popular, and in an age where low fat diets have clearly failed, and in which the ideology underlying those has began to look very suspect (Nina Teicholz) this is becoming increasingly popular. So, for example, we have a dietitian telling the Daily Mail that she eats around 82% of her calories as fat:

    Dietitian Dr Trudi Deakin says 'my diet is 82% FAT and I've never been healthier' | Daily Mail Online

    The problem with this one seems to be that there are worries that this might just impact the diversity of your gut microbiome pretty badly:

    Sorry low carbers, your microbiome is just not that into you - Human Food Project

    And certainly while many people are comfortable on 50 to 60% fat much above that they find their stools very loose.

    Solution four? This one seems to be eating a lot of fruit. Cordain seems to rely on a lot of fruit in his first book. It's a dietary staple. Bond's between a rock and a hard place, since he seems warier of protein than Cordain, who's happy to run up to 30% or more on that, and here Bond's throwing in four servings of fruit a day. I guess a lot of calories are coming from that. The eleven servings of salads and leafy greens aren't going to be awfully dense in calories.

    Same problem behind all these answers, though, isn't there? You've got to get your calories somewhere, and there are controversies around any of these choices as to where to do it.
    Last edited by Vainamoinen; 02-06-2015, 03:17 AM.