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Messages - Eric

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Journals / Re: eveheart's Journal
« on: July 08, 2016, 05:39:02 am »
Rainbow Mealworms and Crickets is a great place to buy live insects from, based on what I've read. I haven't ordered from them yet, but probably will. The idea of raising hornworms as a food source is appealing, as they eat live vegetation and I can taylor their diet to how nutrient dense I'd like them to be.

You might reach out to Inger through the forum's message system. She's the only long-term female VLCer that I know of, either on this forum or on others I've visited at various points. She'd be a great sounding board for some of your ideas. She lives in northern Europe, I believe.

And reflecting on Sabertooth's post, I think we all have a lot to learn about the nutritive value of food, especially raw food. A lot of the 'common sense' that goes along with nutrition emerged in an era where people made a lot of assumptions about what the human body needed and how to deliver those nutrients, and I suspect that a lot of this 'common sense' goes unchallenged and unexamined even among long-time contributors to this forum. The fact that we're even having a conversation about macronutrient ratios proves this point. Carbs are not carbs are not carbs, fats are not fats are not fats, and protein isn't protein isn't protein. There are so many nuances within each of those broad classes of macronutrients that can make a huge difference in how they're metabolized (or not) and how readily our bodies can extract energy and other nutrients from them. If we had a wealthy benefactor who could offer a few million $$$ we could organize some amazing and informative experiments, and learn so much. And there is a lot left to learn, in my opinion.

I thought that a lot of folks here were either ZC or low-carB and had been doing very well for several years following such a diet?  ???

What Geoff (TylerDurden) said. While there are a couple people who've managed to make VLC work over the longer term, they are a tiny minority. Most of us have backed far off that. As someone who is into athletics myself, I've transitioned to something more akin to the Zone Diet with respect to macro ratios, around 40-30-30 favoring carbs. I do go through stretches of maybe a few weeks to a month where I'll go back to VLC, but that's only temporary.

I had that experience too when first starting a very low carb, high fat diet. In my experience it lasts for a month or three, then diminishes. I suspect the euphoria comes from finally giving our bodies the building blocks they so desperately needed for such a long time, particularly fat soluble vitamins and cholesterol which are both vital to our hormonal systems. This is particularly true for those who venture into VLC/HF after spending a prolonged period as a vegan or vegetarian.

Once our body's stocks of these fat soluble vitamins and building blocks are built back up the metabolic costs associated with this diet start to overwhelm the benefits, and it's time to make some changes.

I responded to some of your questions in another thread, but thought I'd contribute here too. My answers are listed after your questions, which are in quotes below.

Even though I can feel my body wanting and needing the extra fat, will I put fat on while going from a moderate carb/fat/protein diet (currently) to a ketogenic diet as the body adapts to fat burning or will the shift just be apparent in some initial fatigue? I just don't want to take any steps backwards and gain more fat while trying to shed it.

If you are getting most of your calories from fat it's terribly hard for your body to store fat away. The biochemistry just doesn't favor it. A bigger question is whether or not you can meet your stated goals while staying ketogenic. Anaerobic workouts (like weight lifting) favor the burning of glucose, so if you aren't eating foods that can provide this glucose then there's a high likelihood that your body will start cannibalizing its stores of protein (aka muscle fiber) to turn into glucose through the process of gluconeogenesis. The end result is that you'll plateau in terms of your athletic goals and your physique even as you continue working out. I think you're much better off eating a modest amount of carbs, say 30-40 percent of your total calories. A ketogenic diet would be great if you were training to be an endurance athlete (i.e. doing aerobic exercise like long gentle runs or bike rides), but it doesn't work that well for anaerobic athleticism, in my experience.

I also don't see why you want to stay in calorie deficit. If you're working out hard, that is not the time to attempt a calorie restricted diet provided the calories you're eating are nutritionally useful.

-Will the 20-50g of carbs allow me to stay in ketosis?

Yes, but see above. I think you are undermining your training goals by trying to stay ketogenic.

-When would the best time to consume those carbs or right before bed to fuel the fasted workout?

I'd eat them about an hour before your workout, or right before bed if you intend to go into your workout fasted.

-How long does it take to get into ketosis?

It varies from person-to-person, and on whether you've been ketoadapted before. I'd guess 2-4 weeks.

-What can I expect as far as training while on a keto-diet? 

If you're doing aerobic training (gentle running, swimming, biking) then you will see slow but steady gains over a period of 3-6 months, then slower gains for perhaps the next few years as you ease towards your full potential. Your endurance will become amazing though, as long as you keep your heart rate low enough during exercise that your muscles remain in aerobic territory. On the other hand, if you're doing anaerobic training (sprints, weight lifting, CrossFit) you will feel terrible, and you might even pass out. Your strength gains will be far below potential and you'll probably plateau reasonably quickly, and you'll have trouble gaining muscle mass because your body will constantly cannibalize muscle tissue to turn into glucose. If your main workout regimen includes anything anaerobic, including weight training, I strongly advise against attempting to stay in ketosis. There is definitely a time for this style of eating and metabolism, but it's not for stretches where you're doing a lot of anaerobic work.

-How long does it generally take for the body to adjust to a keto-diet?  Any cons of entering ketosis?

2-4 weeks, in my experience. The only con is that you feel terrible for a while, but that passes. See my above comments about attempting to maintain an anaerobic training regimen while in ketosis though. Not recommended!

-Is a keto-diet optimal for cutting to the bodyfat percentage goal that I have or could I reach my goals while still consuming carbs?

I can't say whether it's optimal, but it can definitely work if coupled with aerobic workouts. If your goal is to do anaerobic workouts (weight lifting), I suggest more like a zone diet that advocates a 40-30-30 balance of carbs-protein-fat. When I first started CrossFit I tried desperately to stay in ketosis, and it was an epic fail. Only since transitioning towards more moderate amounts of carbs has my body adjusted to the rigors of CrossFit (and anaerobic training more generally). Since I transitioned, strength gains, lean muscle mass gains, and body fat loss have been swift.

General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 28, 2016, 06:27:10 am »
Why not just eat the insects?

General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 28, 2016, 01:56:28 am »
Thinking about the original title of this post, another thing I've grown interested in is raising and eating insects. The book Edible, by Daniella Martin, offers instructions at the end for raising crickets, mealworms and waxworms. I want to try doing that. I think it would be a great way to gain access to very high quality protein and fat, and I could enhance the omega 3 content of the insects by feeding them omega-3 rich plant foods that I might not be able to digest and utilize as well, like flax seeds.

General Discussion / Re: Getting acclimated to raw fat.....
« on: June 27, 2016, 09:49:09 pm »
In my experience the texture and taste of fat from cattle changes over the year. I've found that suet (for instance) tastes delectable and is of a soft, almost buttery texture when the animals are harvested in June and July, which is when they've been eating fairly lush fresh forage here in Vermont for at least a month. Prior to June the suet is not as pleasing in terms of taste and texture, as the animals haven't been on fresh forage long enough for their body fat to transition away from its winter texture, which is dry and crumbly as Derek (sabertooth) mentioned. The suet starts transitioning towards that dry and crumbly texture late in July as even fresh forage is getting dry and cattle are eating natural grain from grasses that are starting to bolt, which influences the fatty acid content in their meat and fat.

General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 24, 2016, 07:43:19 am »
RF, what do you see as the difference between management intensive grazing and holistic management? I think of holistic management, as defined by Allan Savory, as being one type of management intensive grazing. I don't see them as being overwhelmingly different.

General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 24, 2016, 07:26:47 am »
How does Salatin limit forage?

If he's like most grass farmers, his pastures are fairly heavily managed. He probably seeds with whatever forage he'd like to see dominate on a yearly basis, and if a pasture drifts too far from his ideal species composition he might plow it under and start again or use a broad-spectrum herbicide to kill everything and start again. If your goal is to make money in grass farming, you can't just waltz into a field and graze cattle. You need to manage the field for particular species that your cattle can digest and that allow the cattle to gain weight as fast as they can.

I do eat some fruit, but not much. Probably one serving per day, on average, and it's never the centerpiece of a meal. Fruit has a lot of fructose in it, which is challenging for my body to process in any quantity. Some fruits balance that fructose with lower sugar overall and a lot of antioxidants, so I tend to eat those fruits more. Examples of my preferred fruits include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and various wild fruits. I tend to avoid most of the fruits you seem to gravitate to. Just too much sugar for me.

Greetings HB, welcome to the forum. I do CrossFit so I can identify with your predicament somewhat, although the workouts we do might be a bit more intense than what you do.

As for gaining fat from eating fat, I don't think you need to worry about that. My understanding of fat gain is that our body tends to store excess sugar as fat, so people put on fat by eating carbs, particularly refined sugar. Fat that is eaten is generally used as fuel or broken down into fatty acids that are used as building blocks for tissues and hormones. On that same note though, I'm not sure your pursuit of 13-14% body fat is a particularly healthy one. While I'm certainly not advocating for obesity, having too little body fat can be detrimental too as it can push the body towards various hormone disorders. As an individual, I don't see any practical value in pushing my body towards the ultra-low body fat percentages seen in professional fitness models. I myself don't find those types of physiques particularly attractive, either on men or on women.

As far as your digestion goes, you are right in that it can take time for the body to adjust to a new set of eating patterns and start producing the proper enzymes in the proper proportions. A couple more ideas you might consider: first, take a sip of vinegar before eating. The vinegar can promote production of HCl, which can help with digestion. A lot of people in the US suffer from too little HCl production, and this deficiency is often misdiagnosed. Second, make sure you chew your food very well. Raw foods have a range of enzymes in them that can help to break down the food item. These enzymes are degraded in the highly acidic environment of the stomach though, so the only time they can do their work is while you are chewing and swallowing. So chew your food well and let those innate enzymes do as much work as they can, which will take some of the load off of your digestive tract.

Another point: I tend to have one bowel movement per day and sometimes one every two days. It wouldn't occur to me to say that you suffer from constipation based on the info you provided.

Finally, I don't worry too much about counting calories or calculating my macronutrients. Unless you plan on trying out for the Olympics, I don't think counting calories is necessary. Just trust your body. If you're hungry, eat what you're hungry for. If you aren't hungry, don't eat. I suspect that I probably eat around 2,000 kilocalories per day, with about an even split between protein, carbs and fat. I need the extra carbs because of the highly anaerobic workouts we do in CrossFit, and a lot of these carbs come in the form of raw root vegetables like jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, burdock root, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, etc. I generally work out in the morning, and walk into the gym having fasted since the previous day. First meal after a workout is generally 100 percent raw protein, though it usually isn't a very big meal. I usually eat one or two larger afternoon meals that are dominated by plant foods, particularly the raw root vegetables I mentioned above for the carbs and the dietary fiber that's good for my gut microbes. My final meal of the day is usually a mix of plant foods and raw animal foods, with the latter making up the bulk of the calories. Tonight's dinner, for instance, will be wild-gathered purslane and lambs quarters with sliced carrots and jerusalem artichokes topped with olives and about 6 ounces of raw wild coho salmon. This pattern has worked for me reasonably well, although I am still experimenting and may tweak it yet.

General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 24, 2016, 05:28:36 am »
I wonder what you guys think about rotating herds in the way Joe Salatin suggests...

Salatin's method is basically management intensive grazing, which is the gold standard among grass farmers. It can grow a cow or steer to slaughter weight relatively fast (say 18-24 months relative to other grass-based methods that might require 36 months or more), and in my mind that's where it fails. Anytime you're raising an animal with the intention of slaughtering it ASAP the meat will miss out on the many phytochemicals that accumulate over years of diverse eating. This is a point that Derek (aka Sabertooth) noted in his initial post, and it's something that I think is hugely important. This is why tribal hunters went after large adult animals primarily, because they recognized that their meat and organs were more nutritionally valuable. Of course they'd take a little one if it was easy, but the hunters who brought back fawns weren't the ones who were revered. The revered hunters were those who could bring back older adults.

Salatin's method is also grass-based in a literal sense, which means the forage he offers cattle is mostly grass rather than a more even mix of grass and other herbaceous vegetation. Limiting forage to grass makes sense economically because the protein and sugar content of the forage is higher and you'll end up with a 1,000 pound animal sooner, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll end up with better quality meat when the animal goes to slaughter. Basically, management intensive grazing systems are designed to find a middle ground between a desire for somewhat higher quality meat (which comes from allowing cattle and other grazers to forage on pasture) and a desire to make money. The fact that financial concerns are involved in the tradeoff means that grass farmers will deliver lower quality meat than if financial concerns weren't part of their management decision making.

General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 23, 2016, 08:31:55 pm »
Great post Derek. I have a few thoughts to add:

First, in the United States the label "Grass Fed" does not mean all that much. A label that says only "Grass Fed" just means that at some point in the animal's life it was fed grass, which can include hay. A label of "Grass Fed" doesn't necessarily mean that an animal ever actually ate fresh grass (or fresh forage more generally) at any time in its life. I think this is one reason for why the taste and texture of "Grass Fed" meat can vary so much.

"Grass Fed" meats in the US can also be finished on grain for the last months of their lives to fatten them up to slaughter weight faster without having to acknowledge this on the label. If you want an animal that has never been fed grain, you need to look for a label that says "100 % Grass Fed" or something similar. Even this label doesn't guarantee that the animal ever ate fresh forage, just that it was never fed grain. A confined feedlot could earn the "100 % Grass Fed" label by raising cattle in a barn and feeding them hay. There are other more stringent labels that pertain to the diets of marketed ruminants such as those by the American Grassfed Association and the Food Alliance, among others, but there's no requirement that a seller meet the standards of these third-party labels in order to use the term "Grass Fed" in their marketing.

Having worked with a number of grass farmers in the Northeast US I have pretty much decided that it's nearly impossible to find high quality meat available on commercial markets. The economics of grass farming don't work very well. To make money grass farming a farmer must rely on forages with high protein or sugar content to force animals to grow fast enough to send them to slaughter in a reasonable amount of time. Any diet that forces an animal to grow fast isn't really all that good for its nutritional value. The best beef I've eaten comes from hobby farmers who raise for taste and texture specifically and can afford to give a half-dozen cattle 50 acres to roam around on. These are generally wealthy people who care about the food they eat and not about turning a profit on it.

I don't hardly buy beef anymore in the US Northeast as our landscape just doesn't work for them. Grass farmers in this part of the country literally have to force the land to be pasture, as it so desperately wants to grow back into forest and start the long process of healing itself from years of overgrazing by dairy farmers and from the tillage practices used by vegetable farmers. I do sometimes buy Icelandic sheep as they seem to be better adapted to the landscape from an ecological standpoint, and I'd also buy goat if I could find someone who didn't heavily supplement their goats diet with cheap grain.

General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: June 02, 2016, 09:06:59 am »
Permaculture farms can vastly out yield conventional agriculture but will almost always require far more labor...

Even setting their need for labor aside, I'm not sure I buy your initial point. I have yet to visit a permaculture farm that can even approach the pound-of-food-per-acre yield that conventional agriculture delivers. Every permaculture farm I've ever visited has proven to be a very low yield system that also requires very high labor inputs, much higher than conventional agricultural systems. If you know of a permie farm that bucks this trend, I'd love it if you'd share their name or a link to their site.

General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: June 01, 2016, 05:57:40 am »
So, it is impossible for permaculture farms to produce high yields per acre?

I won't go so far as to say it's impossible, but I have yet to physically visit a permaculture farm that does it. Maybe there's one somewhere out there that can pull it off.

General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 31, 2016, 10:04:42 pm »
A couple articles to reinforce the statements I'd made earlier:

What nobody told me about small farming: I can't make a living. By Jaclyn Moyer

Don't let your children grow up to be farmers. By Bren Smith

In response to one of Geoff's earlier comments, it's true that most writers don't make much money off their books. Books often serve as advertising that attracts participants to their workshops or classes, or attracts event organizers to tap them as speakers. These can be quite profitable. We brought Michael Pollan to my university a couple years back for a 2 hour talk and to meet with students during their classes for a couple days, and he charged something in the range of $20,000-$30,000 for the event. That's not bad. String a few of those together over the course of a year and you've got a nice living. Another friend of mine, Chris Martenson of, charges $10,000 as his base price for giving a talk at an event. That's not too bad either.

And regarding permaculture, while I think the principles of permaculture are, in theory, quite useful, in practice permaculture is largely a fraud. All of the permaculture farms I've visited are nothing more than glorified organic farms, and they rely on huge amounts of free (aka exploited) labor in the form of interns to keep them viable. All of the permaculture farms I've visited require huge labor inputs to deliver low food output, and would never survive if they had to generate revenue by selling their product on a per-pound basis without getting free labor from interns and selling Permaculture Design Certificates to subsidize their agricultural operation.

General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 30, 2016, 09:56:31 pm »
I've often wondered that myself. He's an interesting case, as he has several decent selling books out and gets primo speaker fees. It wouldn't surprise me if more than half his annual income is from off-farm ventures like writing and speaking.

General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 30, 2016, 07:22:14 pm »
You guys don't know. Organic farming is highly profitable, so much so that you probably wouldn't even need the money you make to pay for anything other than bills and taxes.

Just to be clear, the farmers I work with are not commodity growers. I work mostly with grass farmers, and to a lesser extent organic fruit and veg growers. These are the people who are (supposedly) doing everything right. Management intensive grazing, stocking to extend the grazing season, using breeds with excellent feed-conversion ratios, using perennial polycultures and companion planting, compost and compost tea rather than synthetic fertilizers, etc. They still can't make money.

The few exceptions are the ones who manage to carve out a niche market for themselves, like using hoop houses so they can be the first to bring a particular product to market each season or focusing on novelty varieties of foods. Even then their incomes are marginal. They might net $15,000-$20,000 per year per proprietor after investing 80+ hours per week over their growing season. If they have health insurance at all it's a very high deductible plan, which means a serious illness or injury will be financially ruinous. They also have no retirement savings, and some of them can't even afford to eat the food they grow because they so desperately need the cash to pay bills. I've met more than a few farmers who grow high-end organic vegetables or raise high-end meats who are on food stamps.

Commercial farming is not an entrepreneurial venture I'd go into right now. Maybe someday when people are ready to accept food prices that are 2x or 3x what they are today, but not right now.

Raw Weston Price / Re: The Great Dance: A Hunter's Story
« on: May 21, 2016, 12:47:45 am »
Found the documentary here: The Great Dance: A Hunter's story

General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 21, 2016, 12:39:30 am »
I don't think it's even possible to make a reasonable living at farming anymore, unless you inherit a huge acreage and are willing to grow a subsidized commodity crop. I work in the agricultural sector as a consultant, and 90%+ of the farmers I know who make a living do so largely by having second or even third jobs off-farm to augment their meager farm incomes. Having seen so many negative balance sheets, I marvel at why anyone would want to go into farming.

Public assistance, apparently.

Yes, very convenient indeed. Thanks for the updated link ys!

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