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Thread: Rabbit Starvation - Is it just excess protein consumption? page

  1. #1
    Omni's Avatar
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    Rabbit Starvation - Is it just excess protein consumption?

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    I sparked an interest from another thread about excess protein and started thinking about the Rabbit Starvation stories.
    I did a bit of searching around and basically didn't find too much detail, but basically the original reports stemmed from starving people gorging on the lean meat of starving animals.
    After a bit of reading around, seems to me it is primarily the result of eating more protein than the liver is capable of processing resulting in Hyperammonemia, so to avoid this situation only eating the normal quantity of lean protein (less than 200g), so if starving rabbits is all that is all that is available and ensuring you consume the rabbits blood, organs, brain, marrow and any fatty bits that can be found and no more protein should be consumed even if one still feels hungry.
    I also read through some pages of a survivalists forum where one individual tested the hypothesis and lived on rabbits alone (2 rabbits per day) for a while and didn't suffer any side effects, but he did eat all the organs, blood etc., these rabbits were not starving though, so it seems it has to be a situational thing as well, mid to late winter so high energy demands and both predator & prey need to be getting into starvation mode with minimal fat reserves.
    Anyway I just thought it was interesting enough to share.

    Below is an outline from a rabbit raising forum, seems they aren't too far from the Primal thing either.
    Rabbit starvation results from protein-only diets, say survivalists
    Here's the problem: the body can only supply roughly 1000 calories per day through a protein-only diet because the liver is only capable of producing 250 grams of glucose from protein, no matter how much protein you eat. So, you will still feel hungry, and you'll eat more. Unfortunately, your liver will start struggling and failing to convert the ammonia into urea (not enough ATP) so the ammonia will reenter your blood stream. This starts messing with your nervous system.

    According to the Back Across the Line blog,

    "Excess intake of nitrogen leads in a short space of time to hyperammonemia, which is a build up of ammonia in the bloodstream. This is toxic to the brain. Many human cultures survive on a purely animal product diet, but only if it is high in fat.

    "A lean meat diet, on the other hand cannot be tolerated; it leads to nausea in as little as three days, symptoms of starvation and ketosis in a week to ten days, severe debilitation in twelve days and possibly death in just a few weeks. A high-fat diet, however, is completely healthy for a lifetime.

    "All of the hoopla that the media puts out about how a low carb diet is bad on the kidneys stems from the excess protein, not the high fat content. You cannot eat your fill of just lean proteins. You must add fat to keep you healthy. Also a higher fat content ensures weight loss too."

    So go ahead -- enjoy elegant rabbit dinners to your heart’s content. But eat veggies with your lappin and slather them with butter.

    If you eat a diverse diet of meats, fruits, veggies, etc., you'll not need to fear rabbit starvation.
    Last edited by Omni; 08-23-2012 at 05:46 PM.

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    Fat is a vital part of any diet.
    Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
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    Who the F!&% allowed these bastards to starve rabbits for this study?!!?

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    I don't know much about rabbit starvation, but when my bf went out of town for several weeks, rather than waste a lot of time cooking, I put chuck roasts in the crock pot and ate mostly that and not a whole lot less. A week of that and I felt truly very ill.

    Here's a long but interesting article I read that's only faintly related.

    Into the Wild and other Poisonous Plant Fables « Forager's Harvest

    If you scroll way way down, there's an interesting discussion about how many squirrels it takes to feed a person. I can see eating rabbits or squirrels as leading to actual starvation, if not some protein-caused form of starvation.

    The squirrels that McCandless was eating (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) typically weigh five to nine ounces (Whitaker, 1996). Using seven ounces as an average, and realizing that after subtracting the skin, tail, head, bones, feet, and entrails, the edible flesh would constitute about 40 percent of that weight, or 2.8 ounces of meat per squirrel. This means that he would have needed to eat about twenty-five squirrels per day to meet his caloric requirement. If he carefully removed and ate the liver, kidneys, kidney fat, heart, lungs, and brain of each squirrel, he would have about doubled the calories that he received from each animal. Since he probably did this to some extent, I estimate that he needed roughly sixteen squirrels to equal a calorie-day.
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    No it's not "just excess protein" in the diet.
    It's lean protein only in the absence of carbohydrate and/or fat.
    Rabbit starvation is also known as protein poisoning.
    It has nothing to do with the animals being eaten being in a state of starvation... for instance wild rabbits and squirrels are just VERY lean, as is even domestic rabbit.

    If you have lean protein and carbs you are fine.
    If you have lean protein and fat you are fine.
    Obviously if you have all three you are fine.

    If you eat ONLY lean protein for a length of time bad shit will happen... diarrhea, headache, fatigue, low blood pressure and heart rate, and a vague discomfort and hunger that can only be satisfied by consumption of fat or carbohydrates.
    In combination with other stressors, cold, etc like living in the wilderness/extreme situations... this can lead to death.
    Just don't do that.

    Other than that, as long as you are eating some other foods... like fat and veggies... Its damn near impossible to make yourself truly sick eating protein.
    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
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    Omni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirlot View Post
    Fat is a vital part of any diet.
    My thinking was if in this situation, then most likely we would still have fat reserves and would consuming a moderate amount of lean protein & organs prevent canabilisation of our muscles while also supplying some essential micronutrients while allowing our bodies to supply fat from existing adipose tissue?
    I imagine most of us, even the lean ones have plenty of fat stored away, but can't get glucose from it without a protein source.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Return of Dado View Post
    Who the F!&% allowed these bastards to starve rabbits for this study?!!?
    All in the name of science, may be better than feeding them saturated fats and raising their LDL till they died of chronic heart disease.

    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    I don't know much about rabbit starvation, but when my bf went out of town for several weeks, rather than waste a lot of time cooking, I put chuck roasts in the crock pot and ate mostly that and not a whole lot less. A week of that and I felt truly very ill.

    Here's a long but interesting article I read that's only faintly related.

    Into the Wild and other Poisonous Plant Fables « Forager's Harvest

    If you scroll way way down, there's an interesting discussion about how many squirrels it takes to feed a person. I can see eating rabbits or squirrels as leading to actual starvation, if not some protein-caused form of starvation.
    Interesting your own "Rabbit Starvation" experiment, maybe it's like the Atkins effect with lean chicken breast aversion.
    As for the squirrels, probably more nutritional to throw them on the fire whole to burn the fur off and cook them up a bit, then eat them from head to tail, bones and all.

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    No it's not "just excess protein" in the diet.
    It's lean protein only in the absence of carbohydrate and/or fat.
    Rabbit starvation is also known as protein poisoning.
    It has nothing to do with the animals being eaten being in a state of starvation... for instance wild rabbits and squirrels are just VERY lean, as is even domestic rabbit.
    That's the question I was trying to resolve, all accounts I have read involved eating enough or more of these lean meats to try to satisfy hunger, now I imagine in most of these situations the individuals would still have had plenty of fat reserves, so in theory could well have survived for longer without eating anything and just staying in Ketosis.
    So therefore it must have been the amount of protein they consumed, would they have been ok to just eat a small amount of lean protein for essential function and using body fat stores to provide the primary energy component. I don't imagine eating just 50-100g of only lean protein (no fat or carbs) for a week would cause a problem, it would be a calorific deficit and you would still be hungry, but would it cause Hyperammonemia?

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    Yes... eating a lot of the very lean protein because of the hunger drive from lack of fats will hasten sickness.

    Eating small only small amounts of lean protein in a survival situation is safer... but after days and days of only protein problems generally set in anyway.

    This is one of the reasons back in the day they used to travel with just hunks of salt pork or pemmican... small portions of it could be added to larger portions of lean small game to make it a more serviceable food.

    This is also one of the reason that the PSMF works... it's very calorie restricted and while it's almost all LEAN protein, it's usually not enough to cause illness for most people. Although one should watch for the signs...
    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
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    And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.


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    Omni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Yes... eating a lot of the very lean protein because of the hunger drive from lack of fats will hasten sickness.

    Eating small only small amounts of lean protein in a survival situation is safer... but after days and days of only protein problems generally set in anyway.

    This is one of the reasons back in the day they used to travel with just hunks of salt pork or pemmican... small portions of it could be added to larger portions of lean small game to make it a more serviceable food.

    This is also one of the reason that the PSMF works... it's very calorie restricted and while it's almost all LEAN protein, it's usually not enough to cause illness for most people. Although one should watch for the signs...
    Ok, thanks, hadn't looked at the PSMF diet, so basically this would be the same as eating a little bit of the lean rabbit meat for essential protein, but ensuring the brain, blood, marrow & other organs are eaten to maximise any fats as well as other nutrients.
    But eating the lean meat alone even in small quantities may be counterproductive as it may require less energy for our bodies to utilise it's own protein and save the energy other nutrients expended through the process of digestion.
    So if you don't think there is any fat or other nutrients in the critter, better to let it roam free.
    Thanks for the input all, interesting discussion.

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    Yeah, Kimkins comes to mind. . . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omni View Post
    Ok, thanks, hadn't looked at the PSMF diet, so basically this would be the same as eating a little bit of the lean rabbit meat for essential protein, but ensuring the brain, blood, marrow & other organs are eaten to maximise any fats as well as other nutrients.
    But eating the lean meat alone even in small quantities may be counterproductive as it may require less energy for our bodies to utilise it's own protein and save the energy other nutrients expended through the process of digestion.
    So if you don't think there is any fat or other nutrients in the critter, better to let it roam free.
    Thanks for the input all, interesting discussion.
    Fat was considered essential to the winter diets of native people, so much, in fact, that grilling was never considered. Boiling in water was the preferred method because it extracted every bit of nutrition possible, and that included the marrow from bones and antlers as well as any beaver tails filched from the big rodents.

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