The Evolutionary Angle
This has been brewing for more than a week, originally under a completely different title, but I couldn’t get past the first paragraph without reflection. Procrastination is a virtue — in the proper context — and so I’ve just been chewing on it; thinking, reading stuff here and there, emailing some of my go-to people for references, thoughts, insights and it has ballooned to a multi-part series.
Now moreso, after what I leaned this morning. At first, what I had in mind was only going to be peripherally related to Mr. Matt Stone. I hadn’t even planned on mentioning him as I didn’t want to get tiresome. Let the implications fall where they may. But now he has his reworked ebook out on Metabolism. There’s now no way to do this series without acknowledging that. It would be silly and weird, and I’d rather be tiresome than silly and weird. What great choices I leave for myself… Let me get a few things out of the way. Do I begrudge Matt his living? No. If you want to read the book, buy it and read it. Will this series serve to promote his book for free? Probably. Will I buy it, read it and review it? Maybe, once I judge feedback in comments over at least the first 2-3 parts which are pretty well mapped out. Am I concerned about promoting values I’m at odds with, at least in part? Well, my dispute with Matt is really more about his style than his content, quality of thinking, quality of work, diligence and so on. Being rather abrasive myself, I can hardly be hypocritical enough to dismiss his work without doing my own, at least in the way I do it which, as far is I can tell, is way different than he does his.
Finally on this subject, you have Matt’s interview with Jimmy, and mine — if you haven’t listened already. Do I think Matt did a good job outlining his approach? Yes. Do I agree with lots of it? Of course, but I disagree with important elements, which is what this is all about. Is his interview nonetheless worth listening to? Absolutely. And mine too.
So, please, let’s not waste any time in comments about the propriety of my approach. It is what it is and I’m in for the haul. Let’s go. There is absolutely no point in sweeping this under the rug. Matt has obviously garnered some attention from a contrarian stance which he’s chosen to take, or feels his research has led him. He’s right or he’s wrong, and having any fear or trepidation over which one is just silly — kinda like not being able to face the fact of human mortality, constructing all manner of fantasy to hide from it. Let’s confront it and see where it takes us.
Is obesity, seemingly inexplicable weight gain, and ill health a function of diet? Obviously yes. Can it be cured or ameliorated by diet, by what you eat (or don’t eat)? Again, obviously yes. I think Matt and I would agree. So, where do we part? It’s in the how.
As a paleo blogger and lay student of evolution, anthropology and natural selection — far more than of health and nutrition vis-a-vis current science, medical research and stacks of books — I have a certain time-saving luxury. I tend to dismiss out-of-hand studies, papers, hypotheses, blog posts, podcasts, newsprint, and books that clearly contradict one of the most established fields of human knowledge: evolutionary biology and its underlying natural logic of natural selection. Humans are animals. Being as well established as it is, it’s my position that the onus of proof is upon those who, when contradicting clear implications of our evolution, do so, i.e., clearly lay out how human evolution is either toast, or got it wrong in a particular area. And none do, because they likely can’t. Their research, studies, books and whatnot exist in a scientific vacuum for me. And that makes them less than worthless, and I’m being girly generous. …By the way, I often find myself in need of kindling for a campfire…
From this point forward I’m just going to assume some familiarity with Matt’s ideas. Judge for yourself, but to summarize how I think of it, it’s kinda like the guy with only a hammer and so everything is a nail. The hammer is body temperature. Get that up to the 98s and it means you have a good functioning metabolism and everything should start taking care of itself. Yea, I’ll accept the criticism that this is likely oversimplified. As I said, I’m assuming familiarity.
I think this is unfounded. I don’t think there is any basis whatsoever that I can find to suggest that body temperature correlates well with obesity or health. As I can recall from my fat days, any time I felt like I was coming down with something and checked my temp it was 98.6 or higher. Hell, I was always running hotter than hell, or at least my vision of it. …A prime motivation to turn things around. And how exactly did I lose 60+ pounds with a "slow metabolism" while at the same time getting 300-400% stronger in the gym eating low-carb paleo and fasting my ass off, even working out severely fasted? Was I an anorexic male with a workout fetish? Do anorexics double and more in strength? Could something else be going on? …You betcha, and that’s what this is all about.
Our ancestors go back to surviving the ice ages and way beyond — and please, stop a moment to consider what that must have been like, without a single scintilla of modern convenience. How should I elaborate? It’s cold. It’s always cold, freezing; harsh, and there’s little to no plant life for a "plant based ‘moron’ diet." Get out your thermometer…but not to see how freezing it is outside, or even in your cave or makeshift animal-skin tent, but to test your underarm temperatures. Gotta watch that Shwarzbeinesque "metabolism." You may need to go out and dig up some starchy tubers from the frozen tundra. …Oh, wait…
Now, I don’t mean to dis Shwarzbein. Frankly, I’ve not read her. Doubt I will. If she’s talking science in an evolutionary vacuum, of which I get the sense of from her fans, no need — dismissed. If she’s not, no need either, ’cause I’ve got enough already. I pretty much don’t value much that doesn’t explicitly — and I mean explicitly — account for human evolution. …Going back to mudfish that breath air might be nice from a deep evolutionary perspective. I’m serious, and I’m always prejudice…on the lookout for non-accounting "science" that glosses over or overlooks the fact of human evolution, so I can look elsewhere.
Here’s what I think: we have no concept of how sturdy, long lived, and robust is our genetic lineage. See, I come from a different perspective entirely. We’re so susceptible to the neolithic because it’s so new to us. It’s the equivalent of another ice-age, nearly back-to-back from the one we already survived. Will we survive it? Not you, but the human race will; but that’s also thousands of years off, yet. Whether or not you choose to "do your part," evolution will march on. Either we’ll emerge as tubs of lard working in cubicles, but perfectly healthy and well adapted to Pop Tarts, Hot Pockets and Cheetos as primary food sources — mutually-sexually attracted to the physically grotesque — or sexual selection will win out (one can hope), and we’ll select over time for those who can eat neolithic crap and still look good & attractive (what choices!). Have you considered this? I look upon the obesity epidemic — from an evolutionary context — as a full on assault on sexual attraction as a prime driver to propagate our species. Long live hot babes.
So much for body temps & overeating for libido. On that basis, just bring on the scotch!
I’ll end this part by ending the banter a bit and ask you some questions which, I hope bring on some good dialog in comments. Remember, comments are all read, and it could change the direction of things. But feel free to comment on any aspect, as you always do.
- Is chasing a constant body temperature akin to chasing a constant heart rate?
- Is average heart rate and basal body temperature inversely correlated?
- How about blood pressure?
- Do different healthy people at different times and in different circumstances possesses different heart rates, blood pressures, metabolisms, body temperatures?
I’m not arguing for having a "low" basal body temperature. I simply don’t know what that means. I searched far & wide for data on pure H-G average temperature plots and didn’t find. If it exists, I doubt two things: 1) that it’s unequivocally the same for individuals and, 2) that there’s not some variation by season, environment, diet.
I dont think it’s wise to chase any constant. That goes for food, movement, heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, or, body temperature. Eat real foods, eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Go until you’re hungry and then some. And sometimes, some, some and some more; then eat. Eat as varied a diet as you can, from real foods, including as much animal fat and seafood as you can. Think tide pools. Think kelp washed up on the beach. Would you have eaten it if very hungry?
I’m sure they did too. Seafood is critical, I believe. I’ll get into that more, later.
In part II I’ll begin to reveal the how, and lots of it is based on my own self-experimentation over the last week or so. Stay tuned.