Weekend Links & Quick Hits: Gary Taubes, Art De Vany, Denise Minger, The China Study, Chris Masterjohn and Real Results

~ Gary Taubes finally has a blog. Of course, you would have to have had been asleep under a rock not to already know that by now. His first and as of yet, only post — The Inanity of Overeating — has racked up 250 comments so far. And his new book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It debuts on December 28.

~ Speaking of new books, Art De Vany’s The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging is out December 21st. I’m part way into it on my iPad (The Kindle version is already available) and will endeavor to have a review up by the time the print version comes out. Here’s the video trailer for the book featuring Art himself.

~ Reports of The China Study basher extraordinaire, Denise Minger’s demise have apparently been greatly exaggerated. And does she ever have some interesting plans in the works, including a possible peer reviewed publication thingy.

Top Secret China-Study-Related Mystery Thing: I’d love to spill the beans on this one, but they’re not done soaking and I’d hate to flood you guys with lectins. So for now, I’ll just say that I’m working on a thing with a person, and the person and I have the goal of getting the thing published in a well-known other thing, and if all goes as planned, the published thing should help combat the “but the China Study re-analysis isn’t peer reviewed!” argument. As soon as I can say more about the thing, you’ll be the first to know.

~ And speaking of China Study Bashers, Chris Masterjohn has a must-read on High Cholesterol on a Natural, Real Food Diet.

Lots of people find that eating a WAP-friendly traditional diet has no effect on their blood lipids or improves them, by a conventional standard. But I’ve had a number of people ask me, "why is my cholesterol so high on this diet?"

Or, "why are my triglycerides so high on this diet?"

There are a number of factors that affect blood lipids, and in the future I’ll present a more comprehensive view of this issue. For now, I’d like to explore the possibility that many people might experience a temporary increase in triglycerides or cholesterol when they switch to a traditional diet because they are actually curing themselves of fatty liver disease.

Chis, buddy, thank you so much for that. While indeed, most people report improved lipid profiles (whatever that really means anyway), I must get an email at least every couple of months from someone who has super elevated cholesterol, and here’s an example from the past. Lately I have stopped trying to involve myself in this issue simply because one, I don’t know and two, I don’t want to lead anyone astray. Now I can simply give them a link to your post and they can take it from there.

~ And speaking of cholesterol and fatty livers, I received an email from a reader the other day.

Here are some results from a reader of your blog. I want to THANK YOU for all the time you put into this. Please be aware (I am sure you are already) that lot of people are benefitting from your blog.


Are you noticing the Trigs and Liver enzymes? He continues.

I am Indian by ethnic origin but residing in Singapore for many years now. My lifestyle is sedentary desk job but I do high intensity weight training on a regular basis. I appear fairly fit to everyone externally – and all the fat I have had was always around my stomach – which I can conceal with my t-shirts or shirts well enough (read as – I am definitely NOT obese) […]

I did some routine blood tests on 3 Mar 2010 and as you can see from the results I had elevated liver enzymes and elevated cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid. The doctor advised me to quit smoking, stay off alcohol and advised me a low fat, more vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, more fruits diet. The diet & smoking part I took seriously .My diet was mainly high carb. I religiously avoided “high fat” / “saturated fat “–. Ate lot of vegetables and fruits every day. Atleast two apples! I l thought fruit juice was healthy – so that was there as well. Whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals – the works.

He complied with the advice.

My next test was 22 Sep 2010. As the results show – nothing got better. Instead triglycerides went up further. Liver seemed to be in a worse shape – all enzymes highly elevated. I was following the doctors advise on diet but had no understanding of what was actually happening. I was diagnosed with a fatty liver (Ultrasound test). I had put on weight (10 Lbs) since I was a eating a lot more after quitting smoking. […]

I said “thank you, doctor”. I do my own thing now. I religiously studied all the information I could find from 22 Sep onwards! I came across PaNu first – which had a lot of fantastic information that made sense. That blog led me to yours – and this is immensely helpful as well. The fact that you regularly post keeps it “live” and so I got hooked on to Free the Animal. Now I am subscribed to and reading almost all the work that you guys have put up there .. Yours, PaNu, Hyperlipid, Stephans, Dailyapple etc – the “regulars”. […]

From 9 Oct 2010 to 9 Dec 2010 – I followed the paleo lifestyle as strictly as I could. […]

Also: NO WHEAT. NO RICE. NO SUGARY SWEETS. NO BEER. (extremist – remember ? J – and yes – still NOT smoking – its 9 months as of today and counting ) I did not have a single can of beer in two months. I had social drinks 4 times in the last two months – a glass of whiskey or a glass of wine or so. That’s it. And guess what my favorite “cheat” is – handful of raisins and cashew nuts. My sweet tooth had subsided after the first month or so. […]

I COMPLETELY REVERSED my fatty liver in 2 months by cutting carbs and eliminating sugar!!! A plug here for Stephan’s blog as well – his posts on Fatty Liver reversal were motivating and informative. My TG levels are now less than HALF of what they were. Blood Pressure came down from 140/90 to 120/80.

I lost 16 POUNDS of FAT in two months and my strength level is actually higher. I DID ZERO cardio. My workouts are mainly high intensity WEIGHT training which I do about only one day a week for about 6-8 minutes ONLY. In the last two months – I have been in the gym only 6 times totaling to about 30 minutes of training time in two months! cardio for weight loss? Another piece of rubbish.

I plan to continue this diet and retest results after 6 months. From reading all the information I know now that cholesterol numbers are rubbish – but atleast I would like to get my HDL higher since I think that is a “nice to have”. I also want to lower the TGs further. But I guess since the liver seems to be ok now – this should fall into place in some time as well. I achieved more than I had aimed for in the last two months ! Thank you Richard and also kurt harris, Stephan and all you guys who keep this “movement” alive!

~ And speaking of awesome results, check out Matt Madeiro at Three New Leaves. Great progress, with photos.

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. Jason Sandeman on December 11, 2010 at 11:50

    I know the feeling about going against the advice of your doctors/dietitians. I was able to bring my out-of-control glucose values in line in record time by doing just that. Eat less fat? Did the opposite. Eat whole grains? Steered clear if them. TG is back to normal level, and avg BG is better than a “normal” person. Go figure. Congrats to the guy for bucking the trend and taking care of business by himself!

    • Dave, RN on December 13, 2010 at 19:38

      I did the same. I took my fasting blood sugar from 120’s 130’s to low 80’s. 2 hour post pradinal also in the 80’s. Been that way for 3 years plus now. When I (like a good RN) did the ADA diet at first the results were a disaster. I actually got worse. Fortunatly I saw the light early on and fixed my self. I can even eat sweet potatos and have a mid 80’s blood sugar 2 hours later.
      I’ve often wondered why this isn’t taught. The saving to the health insurance comanies and Medicare wold be huge. But then, there’s no money in curing diabetes with a proper diet. What a shame.

  2. Scott on December 11, 2010 at 15:22

    To be very certain that I am not misrepresenting anyone, Dr. Harris’ position regarding carbs (and his lack of advocacy for a certain ratio) has not recently changed, but has rather been quite consistent over time, as outlined here: .


  3. julianne on December 11, 2010 at 11:42

    Thankyou! I really appreciate you posting the fatty liver before and after with blood test results. Case studies with blood test results are really useful for me when dealing with clients with similar problems.

    For those who are not from USA like me (New Zealand) here is the translation into our units:
    TC 236 mg/dl = 6.1 mmol/l
    TC 264 mg/dl = 6.8 mmol/l
    HDL 38 mg/dl = 0.98 mmol/l
    HDL 41 mg/dl = 1.06 mmol/l
    LDL 166 mg/dl = 4.29 mmol/l
    LDL 206 mg/dl = 5.32 mmol/l
    TG 160 mg/dl = 1.81 mmol/l
    TG 84 mg/dl = 0.95mmol/l

    Online Conversion calculator

  4. Chris Masterjohn on December 11, 2010 at 14:14

    You’re welcome!


  5. Scott on December 11, 2010 at 14:55

    Chasing the “perfect” cholesterol numbers…in spite of everything we know about their deficiencies…in spite of their responsibility for justifying damaging prescriptions…in spite of ourselves, apparently. It’s like we feel like we must be able to justify to other people through this set of lab values that our diets are actually good for us.

    Or that we can breathe a sigh of relief about our cardiac health if we can just get the numbers right.

    I liked your past post taking everyone, including yourself, to task for this.

    I’m one who has “worse” cholesterol numbers on low carb / high fat…worse in every regard, including HDL (which has rarely budged for me no matter what I do). I follow pretty strict paleo, including no wheat (my wife is gluten intolerant) and no dairy (I’m intolerant), but feel and function and work out much better if I eat like a (paleo) Kitavan vs. a (paleo) Eskimo. I actually actively limit fat when I’m watching calories (LeanGains follower as well).

    (Can you tell I’ve spent my fair share of time poring over my numbers too?)

    Not saying anyone should follow my example, just saying that my “sample of one” numbers would be an advertisement for the exact opposite of what is explained in the post, as far as carbs are concerned.

    Maybe it is just self-serving, but I have become a believer in Stephan’s position that if one starts with a healthy metabolism, it has nothing to do with carb levels, but is all about carb source. And Dr. Harris agreed with that position in the comments of Stephan’s somewhat recent posts after his presentation at the WPA event.

    As for the liver panel and current liver status…those are great and I’m glad that your reader has had such success taking his health into his own hands. It is a huge testament to his determination that he has controlled his eating after stopping smoking.

    Note: I understand that the reader is not necessarily advocating an entirely low-carb approach (e.g. his snack of raisins with his nuts). Perhaps the advocacy (if any exists) is just the removal of industrially refined carbs (wheat/sugar), with which I of course agree. Just sounding off.

    Scott W

    • VW on December 11, 2010 at 15:35

      I, too, have this weird deal about my cholesterol. I don’t know what is going to cure me of it. Typically, I like to go get the facts on an issue and trust myself. With cholesterol/heart health, I’m out of my depth and it seems like there are tons of self-proclaimed experts spouting an extreme variety of opinions on the subject. I don’t know if there are numbers to shoot for, whether cholesterol is all a big scam or what.

      I haven’t gotten any blood tests since switching over from a vegan diet ways a few months ago. I know that before I became a vegan, my doc wanted me on cholesterol medicine. It will be interesting to see how I respond when I do get my cholesterol checked, as I’m quite certain that it’ll be way up from the 160ish level that I maintained my entire vegantime.

    • Chris Masterjohn on December 12, 2010 at 11:46

      Hi VW,

      I certainly would not proclaim myself an expert on this matter, but I do run the web site, where in the articles and the associated blog I frequently weigh in on the topic.

      In my oipinion, both the “cholesterol warriors” and the “cholesterol skeptics” get many things right and many wrong. My approach is to try to synthesize all of the information into a model that can actually account for all of the important observations and experimental results. I hope my choline post, discussed herein, and the other information prove useful to folks like yourself trying to sort through this mess.


    • VW on December 12, 2010 at 12:07

      Thanks for the response. I’ll definitely go over there and start studying up.

    • Eric Sinterman on February 21, 2011 at 21:23

      My father had a heart attack from eating the way you suggest. Good one.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 21, 2011 at 21:43


      I once knew someone who was a stupid fucking moron and they said exactly the same thing you just did.

  6. Ned Kock on December 11, 2010 at 16:35

    I think Chris is on something big with choline. Another paradox, which I have first seen here in testimonials, that seems to be explained quite well!

  7. Kurt G Harris MD on December 11, 2010 at 17:05

    Thanks to Richard’s correspondent for acknowledging PaNu. Glad to have been of help. Thanks to you Scott for your comments here.

    Like many, I did indeed start by believing that macronutrient ratios (high fractions of starch) could per se cause metabolic derangement.

    However I no longer believe this as it quickly became apparent to me that the anthropological and ethological records simply do not support this assumption, nor does it fit with what we know about insulin function, pathological insulin resistance and what we are learning about leptin.

    Discussion of “carbohydrate” as a class of foods is as uninformative as discussing the merits of “fat”.

    Carbohydrate includes insoluble fiber like cellulose, soluble fibers like inulin, short chain polymers like FOS and GOS, in addition to those we know well as fructose, sucrose and glucose. Glucose and the polymers of glucose known as amylose and amylopectin are metabolised quite differently from all these others. Discussing them all in the same breath is simply uninformative.

    In the case of fats we have saturated fats which are an ideal fuel source, n-6 PUFAs which are currently eaten in amounts vastly in excess of our evolutionary experience (and IMO are much more responsible for metabolic disturbance than any starch) and n-3PUFAs which are helpful in that they compensate for the damage cause by n-6s. Discussing the benefits of “fat” as a class of food is as uninformative as “carbohydrate”

    My 12 steps remains relatively low carbohydrate when put into practice by most people because of the benefits and palatability of animal foods, not because of the evils of any particular carbohydrate other than excess (and free) fructose. Once could easily substitute sweet potatoes for beef fat and cream as a fuel source and many do.

    Of course, once you are damaged enough by the SAD to have metabolic syndrome, you may have less tolerance for starch than you might otherwise. Then you have to limit starch as an accomodation to your disease. The fact that this might be necessary does not mean starch “caused” your glucose intolerance any more than fat intolerance after cholecystectomy means you got galllstones by eating too much “fat”.

    • PaleoGarden on December 15, 2010 at 13:26

      Some of your best writing and observations are found in this above comment, Kurt. The analogies’ significance light up like light bulbs as you walked through the similarities between overclassifying the macronutrients. Well done, sir.

    • js290 on January 9, 2011 at 00:25

      I found out about Dr. Ron Rosedale through this blog when Richard linked to the interview Jimmy Moore did with Dr. Rosedale. In his book, he talks a lot about leptin and insulin. Something he says regularly, which I think is the most generalized abstraction, is that in order to be healthy, one should be burning fat as fuel, which our brains seem to prefer anyway. I think the question we’re all trying to figure out for ourselves is how we should be eating so that we’re burning fat? That is, what should our individual diet look like so that our hormones are in balance?

      He makes similar comments about a strict paleo diet potentially being less than optimal for longevity that Professor Gumby seems to make, that we should look to the best science we have to determine what the diet should be. Personally, I think paleo is a good initial condition to start with. And, if science hasn’t quite caught up, I’m siding with nature.

      BTW, I think your 12-step is the most reasonable set of tips I’ve seen. While I don’t have anything against paleo per se, I think it may be too confusing and restrictive for someone trying to make the first step away from the SAD. Your 12 steps seem like a reasonable transition.

    • gallier2 on January 9, 2011 at 03:27

      I think the paleo label is only usefull to make clear that we shouldn’t take the “scientific message” at face value (especially what is presented of it in the mainstream) and apply it in spite of bad results. It’s only there to remind that if you were in the wild, like our ancestors were, that you wouldn’t consume Oreos, twinkies and margarine. In fact, the paleo label is counterproductive if one chooses the reenactment path, because we are not in the same environment anymore. The Dr.Gumpy article at Paleonu makes it quite clear that even modern H&G are not reenacting paleos.
      To get even a bit more political, we should even look at it not as a paleo-diet lifestyle but as an anti-NWO-corporate-fascism diet.

  8. Abhi on December 11, 2010 at 19:25

    I am the reader with the “reversed” fatty liver. Thanks Richard – nice to see it up here already!
    Julianne@: Glad to see the numbers are helpful.
    @Scott: I actually followed a diet that was around 70% fat (<6% PUFA ), 20% protein and 10% carbs – deriving mainly from PaNu steps. I like rice and potatoes – but i just cut them out since i wanted to lose some weight as well. Once i get down to my desired weight i will "up" the starches.
    I always ate till i was full. The snack of nuts and raisins was more my weekly cheat – not daily one.
    @Dr Harris: Your 12 steps are fantastic and actually changed my life 🙂 Thank You! Look forward to more posts from you!

    • Sam on December 12, 2010 at 20:40

      Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those thanking Dr. Harris for his comment here — so much knowledge, expressed with such clarity. His writing always makes me think of the quote attributed to Einstein: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. ”

      Always appreciated.

  9. Walter on December 11, 2010 at 20:06

    @ Dr. Harris

    Thank you for your comment here. Please post more frequently at your own site. I know it can be time consuming, but even a short post can be informative.

  10. mehitabel on December 11, 2010 at 23:20

    I’m a believer in the paleo diet and long-time follower of Richard, Peter, Mark and others.
    At the risk of being the baby ruth in the punchbowl, I found the following ancient article tonight and am a little concerned about it.
    Any thoughts, feedback would be welcome.

    Received May 10, 1971.
    Mann, G. V. (Vanderbilt Univ. School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn. 37203), A. Spoerry, M. Gray, and D. Jarashow. Atherosclerosis in the Masai. Am J Epidemiol 95: 26–37, 1972.–The hearts and aortae of 50 Masai men were collected at autopsy. These pastoral people are exceptionally active and fit and they consume diets of milk and meat. The intake of animal fat exceeds that of American men. Measurements of the aorta showed extensive atherosclerosis with lipid infiltration and fibrous changes but very few complicated lesions. The coronary arteries showed intimal thickening by atherosclerosis which equaled that of old U.S. men. The Masai vessels enlarge with age to more than compensate for this disease. It is speculated that the Masai are protected from their atherosclerosis by physical fitness which causes their coronary vessels to be capacious.

  11. O Primitivo on December 12, 2010 at 14:50

    Speaking of cholesterol, here is an excelent article, which is new for me: Cholesterol, longevity, intelligence, and health –

  12. R Dunn on December 12, 2010 at 17:20

    Damn you Gary Taubes. Now every assertion I make or hear I think of as a hypothesis.

  13. Anon on December 12, 2010 at 18:40

    Any concerns about the readers high LDL numbers? That is quite an increase.

  14. Kurt G Harris MD on December 13, 2010 at 10:24

    If you eat a high saturated fat diet, LDL will often increase. The numerical increase is usually (in every single case I have seen) a result of increased particle size. For example, my LDL went from 115 to 190, but my particle number at 190 LDL is 1050 and I have zero small, dense LDL. My HDL went from 38 to 65.

    As a true cholesterol skeptic, I don’t really buy the “clash of the lipoproteins” model of atherosclerosis for coronary disease, but if you do, the changes are all in the direction that the latest research correlates with low risk of CAD.

    I advocate HBA1C and postprandial BG measurements when getting started. Liver function labs are very meaningful but not needed by most people.

    I advocate zero measurement of serum lipoproteins. They are meaningless, so why bother? The predictable increase in both LDL and HDL are simply expensive ways of confirming that you are eating a high sat fat diet, but if you already know that, why spend money to confirm it? *

    * The main risk that these measurements have is the absurd brow-beating you will get from the typically ignorant primary care physician to start paying money to take fungal toxins – statins.

    • VW on December 13, 2010 at 12:17

      Don’t forget that it might also affect your life insurance policy application process.

      When I just got a new policy, they tested my blood pretty thoroughly, including H1AC, HDL, LDL, etc. I’m afraid that we’ll all get ripped off if we have higher-than-they-feel-is-optimal cholesterol levels.

  15. Kurt G Harris MD on December 13, 2010 at 15:12

    Yes but there is not much you can do about it – they won’t give you a policy at all if you refuse testing….
    It will be many years at least before they use calcium score and HBA1c instead. Some actually use total cholesterol in their models, which is even worse.

    Your best bet would be to get a calcium score done, and if it is zero, argue directly with the medical director for the insurance company – a zero calcium score trumps the predictive value of any lipoprotein by orders of magnitude. I have no evidence of this working, but it is the only thing I can imagine might work…

  16. Matt Madeiro on December 13, 2010 at 17:12

    Thanks for the link love, Richard!

    I’ve just put up newer photos, so anyone who is curious can come bask in my narcissism. 🙂

    • Richard Nikoley on December 13, 2010 at 17:16

      that’s well deserved narcissism, sir!

      Congrats again.

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