The Hunt is On: Tiger Nuts, Per Grace Liu

It was interesting skimming Grace Liu’s latest post (part 6 of her Gish Gallop on how RS2 is gonna killz U—after making you fat, destroying your “ancestral core,” and giving you hamster gutz, among other very bad stuff), in spite of thousands of anecdotes to the contrary, including a couple of recent revelations of individuals stopping their intake on her advice, and getting worse again (see here and here). Tim Steele has a comprehensive view of the whole deal that includes laughing.

In her latest, tiger nuts (high in RS2) are now implicated. Now, rather than a beneficial mainstay that helped Nutcracker Man flourish for 1 – 1.2 million years and possibly profoundly altered hominoid evolution, it’s only suitable for non-cooking hominids and you should never eat anything raw—not just tiger nuts: but any nuts, fruits, vegetables (right, by implication?). Because, once you’ve moved on to cooking meat, everything that contributed to the evolutionary steps is now poison, kills your ancestral core, gives you hamster gut…and hangnails. Basically, anything that now goes wrong with you, if you consumed RS2, that’s the cause.

It reminded me of what I still do consider to be the most interesting idea she came up with for the book the three of us were working. Tim had drafted a tiger nut overview that Grace insisted on expanding. Below is 80% Grace. I edited to remove words in caps, too many “hawt” references, and ‘explanation’ points!!! Thought you might take a look and ask yourself why she’s now willing to have people be worse off in embracing a 180 degree different view. What’s the real agenda?


Nutcracker Man was lifted from his plight as that of an intelligent ape, to a lineage that would become fully human. His growing brain was fueled not by hard-to-obtain foods that required nearly all his time to find, but by tiger nuts—the roots of what we’d think of as weeds—that were rich in iron, fat, protein, and carbohydrate. [1] Each thumb-sized tuber of the tiger nut was the equivalent of eating a small frog. It wasn’t meat but it distinguished him from his neighbors and predecessors. [2] Coming from frugivore (fruit eater) and foliovore (leaf eater) backgrounds, this new food was the equivalent of an energy bar. [3] [4] No longer are plant tubers of this nature thought of as “fallback food,” used only for basic survival, but as a source of primary sustenance. Tiger nuts and other tubers shaped man’s evolution just as Darwin’s finches beaks and morphology were shaped by radical changes in source allocation of seeds on the Galapagos Islands. [5]

Tiger nuts were the original ribeye steak compared to leaves and fruit. But unlike a delicious steak, tiger nuts also furnished ample plant fiber food for our vital gut bugs. It’s rich in insoluble fiber, resistant starch, and other fuel. Tiger nuts also supplied a generous source of carbohydrates, fats, short-chain omega-3 fats (ALA), protein, vitamin C, and a full spectrum of the minerals (iron, zinc) and micronutrients needed to enable the rapid growth of a large brain. Is it any coincidence that stone tools began to be crafted by these early men shortly after this ground-breaking meat-like main dish appeared, making up Nutcracker man’s entire food pyramid? Nutcracker Man thrived, grew a bigger brain, and made tool technology to collect and process more food. He lived the longest out of all the Australopithecine. He weighed the most and grew the tallest. After him, all of our ancestors possessed grander noggins and more slender jaws. Exceeding one million years of domination, Nutcracker Man was ultimately replaced by the more advanced hominin, Homo erectus. The meat- and seafood-eating versions became human evolution’s breakthrough prototypes —Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis and us. [6] [7]

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Screen Shot 2015 01 25 at 2 48 32 PM

[“Comparative context of Plio-Pleistocene hominin brain evolution“ Journal of Human Evolution (2001) 41, 1–27 doi:10.1006/jhev.2001.0475. Increased brain size ~440 cc to ~540 cc in during 1mya duration A. boisei with longveity and diet rich in C4 sedgenuts and tigernuts.]


Nutcracker man outlasted, outsurvived, and outsmarted many of his bigger-brained, notable contemporaries: A. robustus, H. rudolphensis, H. ergaster, and H. habilis. This was no easy feat as weather patterns shifted and food sources changed radically. Forests which were flush with waterways and rich resources only dot the landscape during the Pleiocene epoch. Nutcracker man’s peers became successively extinct at 200 to 300 thousand year intervals, yet during the one million years he claimed a wide ecological niche (~2.4 mya to 1.4 mya), Nutcracker man’s brain actually expanded and grew by a significant ~25% from a measly ~440 cc in volume. During this period, H. ergaster and H. habilis grew slightly larger brains as well; however, they failed to last as long as Nutcracker man and his progeny. It appears that the diet which archaeology determined was dominated by sedge tubers and tigernuts likely drove this distinctly larger brain for Nutcracker man and distinguished longevity. No other foods other than roasted starches and hunting and fishing supplied similar brain nourishment: starches, sugar, and omega-3.

Tiger nuts still grow just like they did over 2 million years ago and are still enjoyed by Homo sapiens the world over. This isn’t a food that just “sticks to your ribs.” It is quite possibly is your ribs (and your liver, kidneys, and brain). Along with the development of our brain, tiger nuts surely had a huge part in the development of our “second brain,” the trillions of neurons located in and around our digestive tract that provide two-way communication between our guts and brains. As our brain increased in size from 400cc to 1500cc, it is not much of a stretch to assume that our brain-gut connection tripled in importance during this same time. [8]

The modern human brain and gut are deep sinks for energy use, just like your air conditioner and outrageously high energy bills during blistering summers. Each organ requires massive amounts (15-25%) of resting energy to feed these two organs. Cnsidering the relative weight of each organ compared to the rest of the body, this is quite enormous. The brain, gut and microbiota contribute only a tiny fraction of the total body weight (averages for 65 kg person): [9] [10]

  • brain (1.4 kg): 2.2%
  • gut (1.1 kg): 1.7%
  • gut microbiota (2kg): 3% (not use energy but produces 10% via fermentation)

Energetically speaking, these are some of our most expensive organs, and these changes evolved during the long reign of Nutcracker man and immediately afterwards. Compared to other mammals, modern human brains burn up large sections of bandwidth when it comes to the distribution of background energy production from food digestion and burning body fat. For adult humans, as much 20-25% are allocated for brain metabolism, and this is ~3-fold more than primates (7-9%) and ~9-fold more than non-primate mammals (3%). [11]

These differences brought about the genesis of a new animal that the world had never seen.

Compared with primates, Nutcracker man’s ancestors and Homo lost:

  • large muscle mass
  • low dietary quality
  • large vegan/frugivore colon for fermentation of massive volumes of low quality plant fiber (leaves, flowers, gums, bark, fruits, seeds)
  • great apes: 87-100% plant material high in insoluble cellulose
  • gut microbiota: tree-, fruit- and leaf-sourced probiotics (above ground)
  • 50/50 energy extraction from small v. large intestine (herbivore)
  • small brains and small 2nd brains in the gut

Instead, they evolved organs which were new and unique in the animal kingdom:

  • less muscle mass
  • higher dietary quality (tiger nuts, meat, seafood, omega-3 fats, minerals)
  • dramatically smaller colon for fermentation of starchy plant fiber and less cellulose (oligosaccharide, resistant starch and plant fiber from broader array of nuts, tubers, roots, leaves, stalks)
  • return to carnivorous small intestines of our jurassic predecessors [12] [13] (shrunk, but relative size to total gut volume expanded > 2-fold compared to primates [14] [15] [16]) and greater dependence on nutrient dense food: starches, high-butyrate fermenting RS2, insoluble RS3-fiber, fats, meat, seafood, and low-moderate insoluble cellulose
  • hunter-gatherer/pastoralists: 10-70%; agriculturist: 80-95% plant material [17]
  • gut microbiota changes: root and soil-sourced probiotics (below ground)
  • 90/10 energy extraction from small v. large intestine (carnivore/omnivore) [18]
  • change in gut bugs and their preferred fuel (complex carbohydrates, RS)
  • 3-fold bigger brains and bigger 2nd brains in the gut
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Source: MILTON 1999, nutritional characteristics of wild primate diets

Emerging approximately 1.8 to 1.9 mya, Homo erectus shared the paleo landscape with Nutcracker man during his last 400,000 years. During the overlap, many commonalities including omega-3 and starches (tiger and sedge nuts) likely forged parallel changes in bigger brains and bellies for both groups. [19] [20] Sustained and stable sources of more and more carbohydrates and special fiber (resistant starches) for both intellect and intestines might have provided the first extraordinary catalysts for evolutionary jumps toward humanity. Whether Nutcracker man knew that or not, sedge and tigernuts cemented our bright futures as he dug up those muddy jewels. Ultimately, the hominin that won was the one who learned to hunt and char their tigernuts-n-tubers.

The demise of Nutcracker Man is a Pleistocene mystery. [21] It’s possible he doomed his bright future by over relying on too narrow a niche of termites and raw tubers—failing to broaden to other roots and shoots, to diversify to scavenging and hunting meat or seafood like his replacements did [22] [23] or to learn culinary skills like firing up the BBQ.

Though rich in vitamin C, sedge nuts lose this vitamin with time and storage. We and our anthropoid primate relatives do not make vitamin C, and neither do our gut bugs. Without regular intake, reserves dwindle within 20 days. Blood vessels leak, immunity weakens and later, death ensues. Vitamin C requirements for Australopithecine were probably not that different from that of modern humans. [24] A large supply of fresh tiger nuts (1-1.5 kg) would’ve easily supplied this. However, as immense bogs, lakes, and peatlands dried up over time, so did their perpetual supply of sedge and tiger nuts. Additionally, extensive storage in the ground for months over months would have subjected stored vitamin C to degradation. Nutcracker Man saw his final act approximately 1.4 mya, just as arid savannahs and grasslands spread across the landscape. It may have been “curtains” for Nutcracker Man, but the gut bugs were to be the main attraction anyway, along with the more modern, evolved hosts they would inhabit.

Our Homo forerunners, however, may have successfully averted scurvy and death by finding mixed nourishment that not only provided iron and fat, but vitamin C as well. [25] With the scavenging of meat, marrow, brain and organs from herbivores, Homo may have taken the opportunity to fill the nutritional chasm that a big brain and sedge-heavy diet created—critical deficiencies of omega-3, iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin C, A and B12. [26] H. erectus may have been the first to use fire to cook underground tubers, and thus so inadvertently added new calories and brain-needed complex carbohydrates. The evidence fails to reveal that Nutcracker man fired up the grill for his tigernuts or other food.

It’s enlightening to consider that just when a food came along that fed our intestinal microbes at the same time it fed the human host in a high density fashion—unlike leaves and the like—the greatest leap in human evolution took place. Soon, early humans were fishing, hunting, and cooking. No longer was evolution measured in millions of years, but thousands. For the last part of our evolution into modern man, several species of hominin appeared at the same time, all eating the same plants—but only Homo had the wherewithal and savvy to begin cooking these foods, extracting even more nutrition for himself and his intestinal microbes.

The unrelenting ice ages, microbe-wrapped tiger nuts, and unlocked fuel from cooked food gave birth to the greatest superorganism to ever walk the Earth. No longer were our ancestors fueling puny brains with fruit and leaf fallback foods. Tiger nuts and cooked tubers got humankind out of Africa, and it only took two million years. [27]
[1] Lee-Thorp, J. “From the Cover: Isotopic evidence for an early shift to C4 resources …” 2012. <>
[2] O’Connell, James F et al. “Male strategies and Plio-Pleistocene archaeology.” Journal of Human Evolution 43.6 (2002): 831-872.
[3] Sherwood, CC. “A natural history of the human mind: tracing evolutionary changes in …” 2008. <>
[4] “Full text of “Physical Interactions of Humans with Primates …” 2013. 5 Feb. 2014 <>
[5] Grant, PR. “Darwin’s finches: population variation and natural selection.” 1976. <>
[6] Richards, MP. “A brief review of the archaeological evidence for Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 56.12 (2002): 16 p following 1262-16 p following 1262.
[7] Montmayeur, Jean-Pierre et al. “Evolutionary Perspectives on Fat Ingestion and Metabolism in Humans.” (2010).
[8] Henneberg, M. “Evolution of the human brain: is bigger better?.” 1998. <>
[9] Aiello, LC. “Brains and guts in human evolution: The Expensive Tissue …” 1997. <>
[10] Aiello, Leslie C, and Peter Wheeler. “The expensive tissue hypothesis.” Current anthropology 36.2 (1995): 199-221.
[11] “Guts and Brains: An Integrative Approach to the Hominin Record.” 8 Jun. 2014 [page 32] <>
[12] Ley, Ruth E et al. “Evolution of mammals and their gut microbes.” Science 320.5883 (2008): 1647-1651.
[13] Montmayeur, Jean-Pierre et al. “Evolutionary Perspectives on Fat Ingestion and Metabolism in Humans.” (2010).
[14] Milton, Katharine. “Nutritional characteristics of wild primate foods: do the diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us?.” Nutrition 15.6 (1999): 488-498.
[15] Milton, Katharine. “Primate diets and gut morphology: implications for hominid evolution.” Food and evolution: toward a theory of human food habits (1987): 93-115.
[16] Milton, Katharine. “The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution.” The Journal of nutrition 133.11 (2003): 3886S-3892S.
[17] Leonard, William R. “Dietary change was a driving force in human evolution.” Scientific American 288 (2002): 63-71.
[18] McNeil, NI. “The contribution of the large intestine to energy supplies in man.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 39.2 (1984): 338-342.
[19] Perry, George H et al. “Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation.” Nature genetics 39.10 (2007): 1256-1260.
[20] Snodgrass, J Josh, William R Leonard, and Marcia L Robertson. “The energetics of encephalization in early hominids.” The evolution of hominin diets (2009): 15-29.
[21] Lee-Thorp, Julia. “The demise of “Nutcracker Man”.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108.23 (2011): 9319-9320.
[22] Leonard, William R, J Josh Snodgrass, and Marcia L Robertson. “Effects of brain evolution on human nutrition and metabolism.” Annu. Rev. Nutr. 27 (2007): 311-327.
[23] Sponheimer, Matt et al. “Hominins, sedges, and termites: new carbon isotope data from the Sterkfontein valley and Kruger National Park.” Journal of Human Evolution 48.3 (2005): 301-312.
[24] “Different Forms of Vitamin C – Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State …” 2003. 13 Feb. 2014 <>
[25] van der Merwe, Nikolaas J, Fidelis T Masao, and Marion K Bamford. “Isotopic evidence for contrasting diets of early hominins Homo habilis and Australopithecus boisei of Tanzania.” South African Journal of Science 104.3-4 (2008): 153-155.
[26] Milton, Katharine. “The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution.” The Journal of nutrition 133.11 (2003): 3886S-3892S.
[27] Perry, George H et al. “Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation.” Nature genetics 39.10 (2007): 1256-1260.


OK, did you get all of that? I think it was excellent thinking and analysis on the part of Grace Liu.

Unfortunately, it’s now more important for her to act stupid, wave hands, lie her ass off, and harm people.

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. Tim Steele on January 25, 2015 at 15:44

    Kris Gunnars just wrote a blog post on Authority Nutrition about faulty arguments used by vegans. Doesn’t this sound familiar?

    “Humans are omnivores, we evolved eating both animals and plants.

    Saying that animal foods (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) are inherently harmful is simply wrong, and there is a ton of evidence against it.

    We’ve been eating these foods for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. Most chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many forms of cancer are relatively new.

    Blaming new health problems on these old foods simply doesn’t make sense!”

  2. George on January 25, 2015 at 17:54

    I would havet starved to death eating tiger nuts! I bought a bag, but got two, and they are hard like little rocks! I have soaked the for days but still hard, although not as hgard. If you can get inside the shell then they trasdte sweet but man, it’s a lot of work to just eat one for me.

    • tatertot on January 26, 2015 at 09:53

      I grew tiger nuts last summer. When you harvest them, they taste like a starchy potato and have a really nice crunch. After about 3-5 days of drying, the starch starts to convert to sugar and they get sweeter. I can see why early man went crazy for these things.

      I don’t care for the dried tiger nuts in a bag, but try lightly toasting them in a hot pan with a bit of butter or coconut oil (or just dry). They take on a chocolate flavor and are much easier to eat…almost brittle.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 26, 2015 at 10:05

      I like taking the ones in a bag and soaking them for 48 hours to rehydrate. They take on a water chestnut texture.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 26, 2015 at 10:06

      And just so we’re perfectly clear, Tim. My way is better. Your way is going to decimate your ancestral core and give you hamstergutz. Downstream effects may include NASH and gout.

    • tatertot on January 26, 2015 at 10:14

      You are so full of shit! That’s it. Gloves off. 12 part series coming up.

    • tc on January 26, 2015 at 10:15

      Try the peeled version. It’s like eating candy!

    • tc on January 26, 2015 at 10:23

      Tim do you have any pictures of your tiger nut garden patch? How labor intensive was harvesting?

    • tatertot on January 26, 2015 at 10:29

      Pictures and everything!

      I second your motion for chocolate covered tiger nuts!

    • George on January 26, 2015 at 17:17

      I was thinking about planting them but have to wait a little. Need new toophers after trying to eat the bugger’s. The ones I have soaked for days taste pretty damn good, sweet, so I’ll find a way to eat them. I have recipe I need to try.

    • George on January 26, 2015 at 17:18

      HA HA HA!

    • Charkes on January 26, 2015 at 19:21

      As long as it won’t deflate my balls.

  3. GTR on January 26, 2015 at 04:35

    Applying the same “hamster gut” logic to the fig it would mean that when we eat figs, we partially turn into chimps.

    • GTR on January 26, 2015 at 18:06

      Apparently some (minority of) fig species are native to Africa:

      “here are about 755 fig tree species worldwide, with around 511 of them occurring in the Indo-Australasian region (Asia, Malesia, Pacific islands and Australia) and approximately 132 in the Neotropical region (Central and South America). In the Afrotropical region (Africa south of the sahara, including Madagascar) there are currently 112 recognised species, 36 of which are indigenous to southern Africa (25 species in South Africa).”

    • gabkad on January 26, 2015 at 12:41

      GTR, that article is really not terribly representative. Figs, apples, pears and bananas are not native to Africa. I know, I know, it’s so disappointing but it’s true. Chimps would never have been eating this stuff historically and they don’t eat them in nature. But yes, they do eat African fruits. And they eat monkeys….. I could not watch the video though.

    • gabkad on January 27, 2015 at 07:28

      Fair enough. But apples and pears are definitely not indigenous to areas where chimpanzees live.

      Bananas originated in India. Any bananas in Africa are transplants. Apples originated in Central Asia. Not ancestral foods of chimpanzees.

    • Duck Dodgers on January 27, 2015 at 09:19

      Easiest reference is the Lost Crops of Africa, vol. III Fruits series.

      I see the following “wild fruits” listed:

      Aizen (Mukheit) (Boscia species), Chocolate Berries (Vitex species), Custard Apples (Annona species), Ebony (Diospyros species), Gingerbread Plums (Parinari and kindred genera), Gumvines (Landolphia and Saba species), Icacina (Icacina species), Imbe (Garcinia livingstonii), Medlars (Vangueria species), Monkey Oranges (Strychnos species), Star Apples (Chrysophyllum and related genera), Sugarplums (Uapaca species), Sweet Detar (Detarium senegalense), Tree Grapes (Lannea species)

      Probably just the tip of the iceberg. Who knows how many other obscure fruits there are.

  4. Wenchypoo on January 26, 2015 at 06:29

    Tiger nuts = pili nuts from the Phillipines, which have the highest concentration of Omega-3 in the nut world. As long as the ALA-to-EPA converter is properly functioning, there’s no reason NOT to have a big brain and excellent cognitive abilities, as well as triple-digit HDL.

  5. tc on January 26, 2015 at 10:25

    Guys, seriously. When is someone going to dip tiger nuts in some very dark cacao and sell them to me? I would never stop eating them!!

    • Duck Dodgers on January 26, 2015 at 11:45

      Seriously. I was in WholeFoods the other day and made the mistake of buying SaviSeeds, which are supposedly one of the highest plant sources of Omega-3s. They sold them plain and also as chocolate covered. The plain ones tasted like rotten fish. The chocolate covered ones tasted much better. Tiger nuts already taste like candy and I’m sure they’d taste amazing with chocolate.

      Would make a great crunchy breakfast cereal too.

    • gabkad on January 26, 2015 at 13:12

      tc have you tried it? You can do it.

  6. John on January 26, 2015 at 13:13

    From her post “Bionic Fiber replenishes the ancestral phylogenetic core microbiota which are damaged by SAD diets, antibiotics and high-dosage potato starch (raw resistant starch, type 2).”

    One of these things is not like the others…

    A person searching for help with digestive issues would surely wonder first, wtf potato starch is and second, why its lumped in with the big dogs.

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