Weekend Link Love – Edition 301

Weekend Link LoveEpisode #24 of The Primal Blueprint Podcast is now live and I think you’re going to dig it. In this week’s podcast, I share my tips for removing a physiological feature with aesthetic and health implications: excess body fat.

Research of the Week

People who stare into computer screens for more than seven hours a day have dysfunctional tear fluid similar to the fluid of patients with clinical dry eye. I think I just felt a disturbance in the universe, as if millions of eyes suddenly blinked and were suddenly aware of how dry they actually are.

Cutting out snacks is a good way to lose body fat, but don’t forget to stock up on exercise snacks.

Broccoli consumption increases urinary excretion of airborne pollutants.

The Trail of Tears shortened Cherokee skulls. Talk about the epigenetic effects of chronic stress.

HFCS-sweetened beverages have even more free fructose floating around than previously assumed. Perhaps HFCS isn’t just the same as sugar.

In mice, pastured cream leads to better metabolic markers and lower intestinal permeability compared to conventional cream.

The best bang-for-your-buck hamstring exercises may be the romanian deadlift and the glute ham raise.

Interesting Blog Posts

Some of the five most important foods for building your kid’s brain.

Yes, barefoot running (not even mentioning barefoot walking) actually is safe and efficient.

Sir Mix-a-Lot recommends that you accentuate the eccentric portion of your glute exercises.

A man stopped sitting for an entire month. Here’s his story.

Media, Schmedia

Leslie Klenke has been busy. She had interviews with Examiner and Beverly Meyer. She wrote guest posts for The Smarter Science of Slim and Energy First. Oh, and she wrote a book.

Gluten-free eating is turning out to be a particularly long-lived, stubborn, persistent fad. Where have I heard that before? Side note: it’s fun to type “gluten free is” into Google. So much anger in the autofill.

National Geographic joins the fat exoneration party.

Walking isn’t always pedestrian.

Just cause you’re frail doesn’t mean you can’t lift (relatively) heavy things.

Everything Else

Even if they’re totally safe, nootropics and other forms of cognitive enhancement that actually work could pose other, deeper problems. What happens if you’re expected to pop modafinil with your coffee and walk around with a transcranial magnetic stimulation device attached to your head just to keep up with everyone else?

Man collects scraps of trash, constructs soccer balls. Three minute video.

It’s looking like the microbiome will be the next frontier in plant and crop health, too.

This looks cool: Steaklocker, a personal meat locker that allows dry aging at home.

Our infants may be able to beat crows some of the time, but chimps can outsmart our adults. Between this and their ability to manhandle large human males like they were kittens, it’s not looking good for us.

They’re trying to bring back Europe’s bison.

Recipe Corner

  • While I definitely prefer a good lamb shawarma, this chicken shawarma ain’t bad. Lime avocado mayo doesn’t hurt, either.
  • Top the shawarma off with some cashew paprika hummus and you’ve just furthered the Middle East peace process.

Time Capsule

One year ago (June 22 – June 28)

Comment of the Week

Not to mention electronics (as well as over-stuffed furniture) are the principal cause of “sitting disease.”

And in reply:

I read this article while sitting on the toilet, creating a black hole of irony that sucked in the entire known universe. Your continued existence is just an illusion. Sorry. :(

That reminds me of the old Bill Hicks joke.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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27 thoughts on “Weekend Link Love – Edition 301”

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  1. Re: the article in the NYT about gluten – I wish journalists would stop quoting Marion “Let them eat cake” Nestle on things like this because she has to twist in the wind so hard to avoid running into Gary Taubes that she’s getting pretty bent out of shape. I get that she disagrees with him (without ever saying so) but from my point of view, Marion – if he’s wrong, what’s so hard about showing the rest of us Great Unwashed WHY he is wrong? Because otherwise, it looks like you are the one who is wrong but can’t admit it, and my own personal experiences come down pretty solidly on that side of things. In my world there are calories and there are calories, and those that come from grains cause me to gain weight; removing them reversed my Metabolic Syndrome and (for the first time in my life) allowed me to gain muscle mass via exercise. That I gained it at the same time I was losing weight was supposed to be impossible according to “experts” like Nestle, but Hell, she’s just one really naked emperor.

    1. The problem with Gary Taubes is that, ironically, he appears to be just as fond of cherry-picking/jumping the gun on the basis of ambiguous data as the low-fat proponents he holds responsible for the obesity epidemic; several obesity researchers/bloggers have provided extensive write-ups on the myriad (potential) flaws in his line of reasoning since “Good Calories, Bad Calories” was first published – I especially recommend “The Carbohydrate Hypothesis of Obesity:a Critical Examination” and other posts/presentations by Stephan Guyenet, which do a pretty good job of “showing the rest of us Great Unwashed WHY” the Taubesian “unified field theory of nutrition” is, if not wrong, then at least incomplete. Interestingly, Gary Taubes himself seems to recognize this, seeing as he appears to have toned down his aggressive rhetoric quite a bit in his more recent utterances on the subject: “Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn`t exist to say unequivocally who`s wrong…the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.)” – Ergo: We need methodologically sound RCTs to settle the matter (“Why Nutrition Is So Confusing” ; New York Times, 2014) – that sounds quite different from “carbohydrates…are the ultimate cause of common obesity,” (as stated in GCBC) – case closed, the curtain falls, applause – doesn`t it? Turns out, Gary Taubes is “just one really naked emperor,” too…at least for now.
      In that vein, uncontrolled anecdotes like yours don`t/can`t tell us much of anything, because

      a) it is ultimately impossible to adequately control for the myriad confounding factors in that setting (Have you really just removed grains while keeping every other variable exactly constant? Have you had your body composition changes in a caloric deficit measured at regular intervals by the same technician, using the same equipment, at the same time of day?),
      b) we are all subject to numerous cognitive biases/logical fallacies, which makes evaluating our experiences in an objective manner exceedingly difficult

      – that`s why the scientific method was developed in the first place.
      Pretty much every faction involved in the current “diet wars” can come up with an endless stream of anecdotes to present to potential acolytes – ironically, I just recently came across one from a vegan who claimed that “eliminating fatty animal foods” and increasing his intake of “whole grains and especially legumes” allowed him to “cure” his insulin resistance and gain noticeable amounts of muscle.
      I understand where you are coming from, because eating Paleo(ish) works great for me, too, but that doesn`t change the fact that the plural of anecdote is not data.
      (Sure, in celiacs the consumption of (gluten-containing/cross-reactive) grains may specifically inhibit muscle gain in a context-independent manner by way of GIT-damage mediated malabsorption issues, but that clearly doesn`t extend to the populace at large.
      As for gaining muscle in a caloric deficit: I have never heard any actual “experts,” ie hypertrophy researchers, claim that this is impossible. The extent to which it can happen appears to depend on many variables – in my experience as someone who was a natural bodybuilder for about a decade, the size of the caloric deficit, “training age,” and body fat percentage are the most important ones (apart from genetics): The farther you are from your “genetic ceiling” for muscle gain and the more “fat reserves” you have, the greater the deficit at which you can still achieve “net hypertrophy”; once one has exhausted one`s “newbie gains” by training properly for several years and can boast a decent level of leanness (approx. 10-15% body fat), trying to gain muscle in a caloric deficit is a fool`s errand.)

      1. You raise several points, but none of them convince me, although I’m not going to spend as much time as you did on them.

        First of all, you said nothing at all about the main point of my comment; Marion Nestle. It would be nice if you adressed that rather than my personal experiences, because your response seems to imply that she is in the right here and Taubes is not, but it doesn’t actually say so. It’s rather like Nestle’s own response to Taubes in that respect.

        Guyenet has a PhD but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily right; like Taubes, he is something of an iconoclast. Both of them have more sophistication in this field than I do by a considerable amount so I trust the one whose advice has worked for me; that would be Taubes. I am far more interested in how the experiments that NuSci (Taubes & Attia’s foundation) conducts than I am in Guyenet’s blog postings, although I do read the latter. That’s why I can already have an opinion here; I’m just not a big fan of Guyenet.

        It’s not imposible to control for the variables sufficiently to meet the criteria that satisfy *me*; you can go do your own personal experiment.

        Thanks for suggesting that my results are the due to cognitive and logical biases; your comments are subject to the same evaluation.

        I don’t give a rat’s ass if gluten-intolerant people’s malabsorption issues don’t “extend to the populace at large”; I was relating what has happened to me. In any case, as Dr. Davis has pointed out many times, these gluten issues seem to affect lots of people who are not symptomatic for what can end up being a considerable time. I know I was.

        And you say you have never heard any experts say that gaining weight in a caloric deficit and then later in the same paragraph you say that once you have exhausted your newbie gains trying to gain muscle in a caloric deficit is a fool’s errand, which certainly implies that you believe it is possible, at least for some time. And you ignore the fact that effectively, I WAS a newbie, having never been able to even exercise hard because of the fatigue the wheat caused me. But you would probably just repeat the old saw about data not being the plural of anecdote, a platitude that’s catchy but also meaningless on a personal level.

        Do you really want MDA comments to only include data from peer reviewed studies with no personal experiences attached? I think most of us assume when we write that you can tell the difference.

        1. Congratulations- you have managed to spectacularly miss most of the points I was trying to make.

          I “said nothing at all about the main point of” your “comment; Marion Nestle”? Really? What do you think was the point of me citing Gary Taubes` (relatively) recent admission in the NYT (Have you actually read that article?) that all the various and sundry pet theories with regard to the obesity epidemic favoured by the numerous factions in the “diet wars”- including his own – don`t have a solid scientific leg to stand on as of yet (thus acknowledging his belief in the sinisterness of “sugars and refined grains” as bias), resulting in the conclusion that the only thing we know with a reasonable degree of certainty at this point is that “most of us are surely eating too much of something?”
          That is exactly what Marion Nestle has been saying all along, and essentially reiterates in the NYT link love article. Hence, it`s crystal clear that she is not the “naked emperor” here, seeing as Gary Taubes is the one who first claimed to have found the one surefire way to cut the Gordian Knot that is the obesity epidemic, only to later backpedal and concede that, actually, he is merely endorsing what he believes to be the most plausible among myriad as of yet insufficiently tested hypotheses (again: compare his claims in GCBC to his more recent writings).
          To sum up: Gary Taubes has a strong history of confusing hypotheses with facts, which many people have rightly called him out on; by his own recent admission, the currently available evidence is not sufficient to support a paradigm shift with regard to our understanding of weight regulation,- after all, changing this situation by producing “methodologically airtight” interventional research is NuSI`s raison d`etre – which makes “tacit skepticism until further notice” a la Nestle an entirely rational attitude as far as the “alternate hypothesis” is concerned. That clear enough for you?

          For reasons I can`t quite figure out, you blatantly ignore the essence of the wisdom your own favourite “iconoclasts” are trying to get across these days: In the NYT piece I must have mentioned a bazillion times by now, Gary Taubes bemoans that the current state of nutrition science is the confusing mess we love to hate in large part because the research community has forgotten its Popperian roots by largely throwing the hierarchy-of-evidence concept to the wind; he argues that anecdotes/observational data,while potentially useful for generating hypotheses, are so riddled with confounders that they generally amount to little more than “noise,” which is why randomized controlled trials are required to actually test one`s hypotheses and thus “establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge” – that`s pretty much what the “Nutrition Science Initiative” you are so interested in set out to do (as already mentioned above).
          Why is all this relevant to our discussion? Because it helps to illustrate that “what works for you” is relevant to you, and you only.
          In general, writing about “personal experiences” is fine, and there is nothing wrong per se with ignoring Marion Nestle`s stance on calories, Stephan Guyenet`s stance on carbohydrates or your average RD`s stance on grains if you feel that following the recommendations of Gary Taubes gives you better results. Resorting to your “personal experiences” in an argument about causal relatioships, however, is inappropriate, because said experiences can only present you with (mostly tenuous) associations; ridiculing Marion Nestle/dismissing Stephan Guyenet`s hypotheses on the basis of your uncontrolled observations makes about as much sense as me declaring Gary Taubes` hypotheses null and void because I know several people who gain weight on an ad libitum “meat-heavy” low-carb diet and lose weight on an ad libitum McDougall-inspired vegan diet rich in starches (read: no sense at all, because they don`t live in a metabolic ward, which is why I have absolutely no idea what is actually happening).
          Apropos Stephan Guyenet: You demand that Taubes` opponents show “the rest of us Great Unwashed WHY he is wrong,” then proceed to brush off the writings of those who actually attempt to do just that with reference to your lack of scientific acumen, and fall back on your “personal experience default position”. Why demand evidence in the first place when you apparently don`t feel up to evaluating it? That makes no sense whatsoever.

          “It`s not impossible to control for the variables sufficiently to meet the criteria that satisfy *me*, you can go do your own personal experiment.”

          Whatever floats your boat – as long as you don`t claim that your “personal experiment” tells us anything about causal relationships,
          because that would necessitate adhering to the actual scientific method.

          “Thanks for suggesting that my results are the (sic) due to cognitive and logical biases; your comments are subject to the same evaluation.”

          Oh, come on! I am not saying your results aren`t real; what I am saying is that the interpretation of said results in uncontrolled settings tends to be skewed, because the human brain appears to be highly adept at outsmarting itself (Just look at the marvel that is homeopathy, or at how consistently people underreport food intake and overreport exercise!). There are piles of data on this. As I already wrote, the scientific method was developed for this exact reason – we need help separating “signal” from “noise,” as Gary Taubes and Peter Attia like to phrase it. Methodologically sound interventional research may not work perfectly, but it sure is more reliable than everything else currently available.
          Oh, and of course “we” includes me (I did write that “WE ARE ALL subject to” biases/logical fallacies for a reason…), in general – but seeing as strictly adhering to the principles of evidence-based reasoning is pretty much the best one can do in order to keep one`s biases at bay , and since I am not the one claiming that my personal anecdotes topple higher-category evidence (e.g., pretty much every metabolic ward study ever conducted) here, I don`t think your “tu quoque” is justified in this particular instance.
          (If I were a vegan recounting how eating low-carb grain-free made me get ever fatter and sicker until I finally found salvation in a McDougall-esque plants-only diet, and claimed that this personal experience proved Gary Taubes wrong (I know several people who fit this mold, as previously mentioned), would you agree with my line of reasoning?I bet the answer is no.)

          With regard to the asses of rats and Dr. Davis: You weren`t just “relating what has happened” to you (if that were indeed the case, I, in turn, wouldn`t give a rat`s ass), but insinuated that said experiences invalidate Marion Nestle`s viewpoint, thus overstepping the epistemic boundaries of anecdotes. Invoking Dr. Davis doesn`t do your line of reasoning any favors either, considering that “Wheat Belly” consists almost entirely of poorly supported claims, completely baseless speculation, and outright falsehoods – his tome is so hyperbolic, in fact, that even some of the more science-minded Paleo proponents – who are,after all, primed to like the message – have written rather scathing reviews (Emily Deans, for example).

          “These gluten issues seem to affect lots of people…”

          That depends on what you mean by “lots of people,” I guess; based on recent prospective multicenter surveys, the prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity seems to be only slightly higher than that of celiac disease (which appears to affect somewhat less than 1% of people in most industrialized countries).

          “And you say you have never heard any experts say that gaining weight in a caloric deficit (?) and then later in the same paragraph you say that once you have exhausted your newbie gains trying to gain muscle in a caloric deficit is a fool`s errand, which certainly implies that you believe it is possible, at least for some time. And you ignore the fact that effectively, I WAS a newbie,…”

          Based on the context, you probably forgot to write “is possible” where I put the question mark, because you seem to have read a contradiction into what I said – I just can`t figure out why: What I actually wrote was that I have NEVER heard any experts claim that gaining MUSCLE (not weight – so: no, this doesn`t invalidate CiCo – which, it should be emphasized, Gary Taubes considers valid, if largely irrelevant as a practical tool) in a caloric deficit is IMpossible, and that muscle gain in a deficit is not exactly unheard of “in the trenches,” especially where newbies with fat to lose are concerned – thus implying that this is what probably happened to you. How you managed to extract practically the complete opposite from my musings is beyond me.

          “Do you really want MDA comments to only include data from peer reviewed studies with no personal experiences attached?”

          In general: no. Provided that said comments concern themselves with cause and effect in regard to scientific hypotheses: most definitely yes.

          “I think most of us assume when we write that you can tell the difference.”

          Indeed I can. I just don`t think invoking “personal experience” is universally appropriate – regardless of context. If you want to deconstruct/falsify scientific hypotheses, you better bring the right tool – and anecdotal evidence most certainly doesn`t qualify.

    2. PS: It should be noted that Gary Taubes specifically indicts “refined grains” – not grains per se – in the (relatively recent) NYT article I cited; I forgot to stress that point.

      1. Huh. Looks like my main comment got lost in the ether. Oh, well. I mostly just seconded Aki`s points anyway.

    3. “…It should be noted that……in the (relatively recent) NYT article Aki and I cited…”

  2. Weekend Link Love are some of my favorite posts. Always something interesting. Thanks Mark 🙂

  3. Chimps did not “outsmart” humans in this study.The way the study is being portrayed is inaccurate and is actually much more interesting. First of all, chimps were never pitted against humans (it was chimp vs. chimp, human vs. human). Secondly, Nash equilibrium does not necessarily result in optimized payoff. Take a look in the original paper at the payoffs for chimps and humans in Figure 4A vs Figure 4B. Human “matchers” received a significantly higher payoff (1.16) than chimps (0.85) while the “mismatchers” had about the same payoff between chimps and humans (1 vs 1.03). Overall, humans were better at getting payoffs than chimps, by NOT tending toward Nash equilibrium.

  4. As a somewhat frail person (much younger than 77, but suffering the after-effects of years of vegetarianism, chronic cardio & undiagnosed Celiac Disease) I was encouraged by the post about Mr. Addo & his protegées.

    I’ve recently suffered yet another exercise-related injury that made my heavier weights impossible, & was feeling very despondent about my future prospects. So thank you for the uplifting reminder that there is always hope!!

    1. I think upping your gelatin consumption should help you toughen your connective tissue. Maybe you already eat enough of it. I appreciate Carrie for mentioning in a post that vitamin C is crucial for collagen building. Vitamin C is one of the few reasons I eat fruit fairly regularly. An orange a day apparently provides enough vitamin C for an adult.
      I’ve been wanting to get some Knox gelatin for a while after reading that Edgar Cayce recommended it to be eaten with vegetables to enhance the body’s glands’ abilities to utilize nutrients. Not sure why Knox was the brand recommended, but the other day I snatched a bag out of a grocery store food bank donation box (just cutting out the middle man) and there was some Knox gelatin in there, also a container of cocoa, a container of green tea, a little jar of instant coffee, a bottle of decent mustard (French’s with nothing artificial), baby formula and some other stuff.. it was a score. Cheers to whoever donated it. I mixed baby formula and gelatin to make a supplemental pudding, and also cocoa, milk, gelatin, honey, and cinnamon to make a sloppy drink. They were ok.

      1. Thanks for the suggestions– I do have some gelatin daily, as well as weekly bone broth, & I feel it helps for sure, but it may not be enough. Also I don’t eat as much fruit as I used to, so it’s possible that upping the vitamin C would make a difference. This time of year I crave fruit & tomatoes, so it won’t be hard to up my intake!

        I hope your foraging leads to more healthy discoveries. I always admire your fortitude!

        1. As far as Vitamin C goes, Kale covers that pretty well, too. 🙂

          100g Kale, raw – 200% RDA
          100g orange, all commercial varieties – 89%. This comes 9g sugar
          1 large (3-1/16″ diameter) (184g) – 163%. This is the closest I could get to 200%. This comes with 17g of sugar.

      2. Great Lakes brand collagen and gelatin are both good and fairly cheap. Your local hippy grocer may have it.
        I find the collagen (green container) mixes best with cold water. This, along with a few drops of trace minerals is my post-dinner drink.
        I’ve noticed over the last couple months that my skin heals faster when I cut it or burn it. I took the tip of my thumb off peeling a sweet potato last week, and it was healed up in a couple days. It used to take a solid week to close cuts like that.

  5. A few small thoughts:
    I didn’t try “gluten free is” but I tried “vegans are” and it filled in some pretty mean stuff too.
    Nicotine is a nootropic. I wouldn’t smoke again, but if the competition gets too intense I might need the patch or a vape.
    East African children routinely make soccer balls out of trash, and use them to become excellent competitors.

    1. Agreed that nicotine is probably a bad source of nootropics. I’m curious about any negative side effects of the vape cigs. Certainly seem to be a better alternative that traditional cigs. It’s amazing the list of foods with nootropics that we have easy access too and are even healthy for you:

      Choline in eggs
      Asian Ginseng

      Those are a few that come to mind. I’ve heard of other sites mention Modafinil, but am a little hesitant to give that a shot. Has anyone had any experience with it?

      Perhaps make a nootropic smoothie containing eggs, creatine, caffeine, and ginseng while smoking a vape cig….you might just reach a higher level of cognitive abilities like in the movie Limitless. 😉

      1. Sounds like what I used to have for breakfast: caffeine, eggs, and a smoke. But it didn’t make me very smart.

  6. The article about the guy from Ghana made me tear up. I love that his culture teaches respect for elders. It’s so awesome to help people like that. Preventing falls will make their remaining years so much better.

  7. Really liked the article about the guy who stood for a month. I converted my work station to a standing station back in December (made from cardboard boxes no less) and haven’t looked back!

    The only problem is recently I’ve been suffering from some tendonitis in my right ankle that I need to address. Anyone got any tricks to getting it taken care of?

  8. I make sure I get enough fruit, but I suddenly have a powerful craving for gelatin. Come to think of it….my eyes are feeling a bit parched too..:/

  9. Dear Mark,

    Awesome links this week! Thank you!
    Especially the articles on nootropics and the microbiome are amazing.