Reader Questions (Part 1)

I accumulated a number of questions while away, so this is where I'll attempt to deal with them. I'll have Part 2 up tomorrow (I went from oldest working my way to newest).

Michael asks:

I recently subscribed to your blog. I had tangentially followed dietary issues over the years, but never put much thought into what I ate. A few months ago, though, due to some new medicine I was on which decreased my appetite quite a bit, I started eating a lot less and what I did eat tended to be relatively high in fat. I've lost 15 pounds since then. Now, having discovered that there's a whole way of managing diet that lines up with my recent experience, I want to start doing it right. So, what's the best place to start for someone who needs to learn from the beginning about paleo eating? Any advice you can give will be very much appreciated.

Well, I think right here is a good place, as well as my other resources. It's not well organized, but over time — not much — you'll really start to pick up on things. I am attempting to organize things better on this page, and I'll try to get some more updates in there soon, but check out the links already there. In the meantime, feel free to ask further questions in email or the post comments.

Marc asks:

Question for on Vit. D supplements.
Do you take sublingual tablets or regular (swallow) capsules?
Curious if there is a big difference that you know off.
Thanks in advance.

First, make sure it is D3 you are taking and not anything else. I take Carlson gel caps, 2,000 units each, three per day. They're the size of a raindrop. According to Dr. Davis, he has had no success with D3 in tablet form. See here.

This next is a comment from Liana. No question, really, but I did want to highlight its importance for you vegans and veggies out there.

Next is a comment from madmax:

This is tangentially related to this post but I am really curious of what you make of this. Is it me or does McDonald just not get it?

Without digging too deeply into it (I've read enough of his stuff in the past), I think he has not given adequate thought or attention to hormonal signals and hunger.

For me, it's about hunger, not calories at all. If you're hungry all the time, and it's usually that deep, gnawing, nauseating hunger when you are, you're going to fail. Now, whether you're fat 'cause you eat too much (McDonald), or you eat too much because you're fat (Taubes), it doesn't really matter in that context. Cure the hunger (Paleo-like does it every time — as well as fasting), and you will revert to a natural human being in body composition over time.

Next, not a question as much as an admonition from an MD. paleo Newbie says:

I used to try (I am out of my general medicine internship and into specialty now) to get all my diabetic patients to low carb diets but they cant quit the fast food and refined carbs and barely got any physical activity. I know you are very critical of pill pushing doctors but we don't get much to work with. Also, our hands are tied by medicare practice guidelines (we are reimbursed this way) or malpractice will follow. For example, a 6 month trial of diet and excercise for a patient with high blood pressure before we offer an anti-hypertensive unless the patient declines. In my personal experience, 1 out of every 30 or so patients gave a reasonable effort to get out and walk and change their diet. As such, I just added on the diabetic drugs and anti-hypertensive until control and wean once they do better. Do that, and you get labeled a pill pushing drone doctor. I could debate this for hours but I can't do much unless the patient takes some responsibility. I can't cure double cheeseburgers and milkshakes, but I can give you an extra 10 units of insulin!

Hah! "I can't cure double cheeseburgers and milkshakes, but I can give you an extra 10 units of insulin!" Beautiful, and you're exactly right. Thank Zeus (and all the gods who've come along later) that we have that stuff available. So, I agree. Help them however you can, even if it means giving them insulin so they can eat Snickers bars.

That said, I wish doctors would 1) think more independently, and 2) learn about proper nutrition and give patients the choice: "red pill, or blue pill," to reference The Matrix. T2 patients should know that insulin is an option but not generally a necessity. Looks like you're one of the good ones, Doc.

Ankit asks:

When you have a minute, could you tell me what you have against legumes? I'm curious to learn more, so if you could point me toward any information; I would appreciate. Its my understanding that if I were to remove the toxins via soaking; they would be an acceptable foodstuff. Look forward to your thoughts.

Well, I deal in principles and for a Paleo-like plan, legumes are somewhere on the scale that's worse then dairy (for most), better then grains. I just don't do them much. Yea, a couple tablespoons of refried beans (hopefully with lotsa lard) every now and then. I like things simple, I don't really need legumes (I like animal fat lots better), so it's my choice to avoid them 95% of the time. But, if you do, I believe lentils are the best in terms of available protein and low anti-nutrients. Also, always soak them. The Weston Price Foundation has a good article on that.

Philip asks:

Art seems to really know what he is talking about.

Could you tell me how to do an Art DeVany approved workout. What does he advocate for cardio? (I already lift) A long one hour walk with random sprints? How often?

I don't really want to speak for Art, and I especially don't really want to be a surrogate for his paid subscription blog. That said, he explains his workout routine reasonably well in his EvFit essay. Unfortunately, the link to that is not working — though it was very recently. I've sent Art an email to let him know, in case that was unintentional.

From what I recall, he does a hierarchical workout, i.e., he lifts until a burn sets in, increases the weight and immediately goes again until burn, then increases and immediately goes again. So, it might be something like 12, 6, 3 in terms of reps. Of course, you'll need to figure out the proper weight through trial. He doesn't advocate cardio at all. The heart, he contends, is designed to operate on randomness and not steady state. As for walking, we are of course evolutionarily designed to do a lot of it. I walk 3-4 miles per day and have been doing so for about 7 years. Yes, sprints are great (and Art had a post on it on his subscription blog just today).

Personally, I get good enough results with my trainer (an exercise physiologist), and so have never been that interested to follow Art's exercise advice in terms of weights (though, one day, when I decide to go it alone), so sorry I can't be of more help.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. aj on February 26, 2009 at 11:38
  2. John Campbell on February 26, 2009 at 11:53


    Good answers as usual – I recently subscribed to Art Devany's blog – well worth it – this site, Art's and a few others are worth their weight in gold.

    But I digress – a book I read about on Art's blog – Body By Science by John Little and Doug McGuff is excellent and Art agreed on his blog. I think until Art's book comes out, this may be the best guide to working out the EF way.

  3. Lowcarb_convert on February 26, 2009 at 12:40

    Long time lurker but I just had to respond to this. I think Lyle's list is RIDICULOUS! Appetite suppressants??? Eat fiber???? Eat fruit??? Suck it up???? Lean protein??? Only a moderate amount of fat???? This looks like a list you would see in any daily newspaper, regurgitating the standard diet advice.

    I used to read Lyle's stuff but found that after a while, though he sounds very scientific – he can write on and on – he is actually not saying anything other than it comes down to calories – oh, and fat people lie about how much they eat. That what his list implies – it just about not eating so many calories.

    As you have said yourself Richard, it is about controlling the hunger. But you do that by eating luscious real food with plenty of fat. Yesterday morning I had 2 eggs scrambled with lots of butter, whip cream and cheese. Then an hour or so later I had a large helping of a meat stew covered in melted cheese. Then I had nothing else to eat until this morning. And I WASN'T hungry. I didn't have to suck it up – I really wasn't hungry.

    For me to lose weight, I find I have to control my insulin by having long periods of no nutrition coming into by body. Just not eating carbs is not enough most of the time. I'm sure Lyle would argue it was still about in the end not eating that many calories but he doesn't know how much butter I can eat right off the spoon or how much cream I can drink straight!

  4. Bud Bergeron on February 26, 2009 at 12:52

    Reader Michael states, "I want to start doing it right. So, what's the best place to start for someone who needs to learn from the beginning about paleo eating?" Many others have requested information in a simpler form.
    Why don't you put your blog in a simple, easy-to-read book format for those of us who like to be spoon fed information? How about an 'easy to digest' (pun intended) format of do's and dont's that would include a Q & A from past blogs? I would be willing to buy and read your book if you made one available. I would also bet that you have large numbers of people who feel just like Michael and me. From the blog's beginning, in simple form and written for lazy out-of-shape people like me! I just don't have the time to track all the links, read all the messages and retain all that research by memory. Just an Idea. Sign me up!

  5. Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2009 at 11:54

    I heard about it, so guess I'll check it out.

  6. Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2009 at 12:05

    Thanks for that, aj. That's pretty good.

    I purchased and have read Lyle's Rapid Fat Loss Handbook. I get what he's about, but while I was able (by that point) to lose upwards of 30-40 pounds of fat slowly via a natural diet and fasting, I was not able to stay on Lyle's diet even a week.

    That's really what convinced me that the science is the science is whatever it is, but we're dealing with real people. I concluded that the only way for this to work for most people is:

    1. patience
    2. real food
    3. intermittent fasting
    4. walk and lift /carry heavy stuff a few times per week
    5. sleep a lot

    Then, let nature take its natural course. It has 2 mil+ years of experience and I don't think we're going to outsmart it anytime soon.

  7. Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2009 at 12:46

    Great points all.

  8. Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2009 at 12:57

    Yea, Bud. I know, man. That book project has been gathering some dust, but is near being revived. On the other hand, blog traffic has increased substantially, so one reason to revive that project is that my conviction that it's really super worthwhile is now very firm.

    Thanks for the support.

  9. Minneapolis J on February 27, 2009 at 23:09

    Its funny, I know that cardio is sort of looked down upon in the paleo community…well not Cordain as he writes a book for athletes including marathon runners.

    After working with a buddy of mine who desires to personal train, I was sort of reluctant to do cardio. Surprisingly, I found it relaxing after doing a sample session…

    I think cardio can be okay, if it isn't upping the stress hormone cortisol, thus making one less lean….and shutting off growth hormone. I wouldn't recommend running marathons, but I do think that cardio thats not too taxing can speed up fat loss and shed excess water weight.

  10. Richard Nikoley on February 28, 2009 at 11:11

    Very possible, J. I've heard some people say it dramatically increases hunger. Mainly, I think that if one does it, it should be intermittent, just like fasting.

  11. Minneapolis J on March 2, 2009 at 16:51

    Well Richard, it seems like the paleo/Intermittent approach just naturally happens even if I don't intend it to. So I was on the treadmill and was told do hit a target heart rate to the whole time.

    Naturally at first, I started out doing that same tempo on the treadmill and then I realized, let me slow it down. So I basically, walk on the treadmill at an incline, then "intermittently" change it to sprints. None of that same pace crap. Walk and then randomly run….I think you would like this one Richard.

    Even when I thought I was going for same pace cardio…I without knowing it I fell into intermittent activity. The same with weight training these days. My trainer and I never go more than half an hour per session, only 3 days per week. Intermittent Activity for Exercise is King because it just falls so naturally in place with the human capabilites!

  12. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 20:05

    You can do it on the bike, too, just a bit of resistance (15% of body-weight). Go all out for 30-60 seconds, then coast for a minute or so, go again, mayber 4-6 times.

    Works in well with a crossfit routine, or, one we do sometimes is "one set of everything to exhaustion."

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