1

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Calorie contradiction, please could someone clarify

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 06, 2011 at 4:09 PM

As a beginner i'm researching stuff at a very high level to begin with - please bear with me.

The article here ends with "If you are not an athlete who expends a tremendous amount of calories, then I would not suggest the paleo diet because of it being harder to keep up a high calorie intake with it." (i don't like this article - some grammar errors and just poorly written imho) anyway..

The article here surmises that with the advent of agriculture / grain harvesting, our calorie intake has perhaps doubled.

I don't get it. Why does the first author think that an athlete would need less calories?

091423a30c0188fbff51e39397e7e056

(384)

on July 28, 2012
at 07:35 AM

No athlete thinks they can't get calories without carbs. They think they cannot get glucose without carbs, which is pretty much true. The process to breakdown protein into glucose is slow and most athletes don't want to be fat adapted since glucose is the best energy source for burst activity. Don't be misinformed when you call someone misinformed.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 07, 2011
at 05:02 AM

Thanks. :)

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 07, 2011
at 01:28 AM

Not required is the point. I personally run better with carbs in my diet. But not pre workout.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on February 06, 2011
at 10:53 PM

This is the more articulate version of my pithy post. Good job. +1

5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0

(1386)

on February 06, 2011
at 05:39 PM

on the other hand, there are a lot of healthy and physically active paleo people who mistakenly believe they must be eating LC, or even VLC to get the most out of paleo, which is equally BS. healthy and active people can easily handle, and also benefit from some more carbs.

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5 Answers

5
82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 06, 2011
at 10:03 PM

The article here ends with "If you are not an athlete who expends a tremendous amount of calories, then I would not suggest the paleo diet because of it being harder to keep up a high calorie intake with it."

That sentence doesn't make sense. I think probably the first word "not" in that sentence is a typo. The author didn't intend to write it. The editor of the website should have deleted it.

But the sentence is wrong even if we fix the typo. It's easy to eat lots of calories on a paleo diet if you want because you can eat unlimited amounts of animal fat and starch from root vegetables. Animal fat is more dense calorically, not less dense, than grain. Root starch (e.g. potato flour, tapioca, etc.) has approximately the same density as grain flour.

This brings up a mistake made by your second author. He says that grains and legumes are more easily stored and transported than paleo foods. This is wrong. Pemmican (a mixture of dried meat and rendered animal fat) is denser and more easily transported per calorie than any plant food. Unlike grain, pemmican contains no toxins and yet it can be stored for years without degradation. It's a paleo food.

The article here surmises that with the advent of agriculture / grain harvesting, our calorie intake has perhaps doubled.

He actually says two different things and mixes them together. What he says is this (my italics): "The cooking of grains, beans and potatoes had an enormous effect on our food intake -- perhaps doubling the number of calories that we could obtain from the plant foods in our environment."

He seems to be confusing our intake (what a person eats) with plant foods in the environment (the amount of plant food extracted from a given amount of land).

The second half of this is true. After agriculture was invented, there were more calories from edible plants in the enviroment. This is true for two separate reasons. First, farmers artificially bred plants so each plant produced more food. Corn is a good example. Before farming, corn looked like any other grass plant. Then farmers changed it through breeding so it produced gigantic (monstrous, really) seeds that we take for granted today. Second, you can produce a lot more food by growing potatoes or grain on an acre of farmland, than you can by foraging or hunting in an acre of forest.

This has nothing to do with the number of calories consumed by individuals. Hunter-gatherers ate large amounts of calories. Most of these calories came from meat, not plant foods. Consumption did not increase when agriculture was invented because even though production per acre increased, human population per acre also increased. The two increases washed each other out. I'll give a reference to a real scientific paper below so you can look at actual numbers for calorie consumption by hunter-gatherers.

But this whole question (whether production of calories per acre increased 10,000 years ago) is irrelevant. What matters to you personally (and to me and everyone here) is how many calories we can eat today on a paleo diet. We can eat as many as we want.

You personally can eat as many calories as you want on a paleo diet.

Can I make a suggestion? Read articles by experts. The authors of those articles aren't experts.

I'm going to suggest two things to read. First, here's a scientific article about hunter-gatherer diets. If the article seems too technical, just look at the numbers in Table 3. Take a few minutes to think about them. You will see that real hunter-gatherers ate large amounts of calories. (Those numbers are averages including children.) You also see that hunter-gatherers, in general, ate huge amounts of meat and considerable amounts of root vegetables. You can buy as much meat and root vegetables as you want in stores today.

http://www.unm.edu/~hkaplan/KaplanHillLancasterHurtado_2000_LHEvolution.pdf

Second, read the bloggers recommended by people here. My personal favorites are Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Blog, Kurt Harris's PaNu blog, and Peter Dobromylskyj's Hyperlipid.

Those three people are genuine experts, and they are extremely smart.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on February 06, 2011
at 10:53 PM

This is the more articulate version of my pithy post. Good job. +1

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 07, 2011
at 05:02 AM

Thanks. :)

3
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on February 06, 2011
at 05:56 PM

I can't take the writer of the first linked article seriously. Basically, it's just another Internet geek making stuff up. No evidence that humans have been around for a million years? Really? I mean I suppose we could debate the meaning of "human" but come on...

1
Medium avatar

on February 06, 2011
at 08:55 PM

Worrying about calories is as nonsensical as worrying about fat. Just forget about it. I have no idea how many calories I eat in a day and refuse to ever tabulate it. Incidentally, I am getting stronger, gaining muscle (GF keeps mentioning that my legs are getting more muscular) and my bodyfat is dropping. Just eat a lot of fatty meat cooked in more fat, some nutrient dense veggies like spinach cooked in or covered in fat and fill the rest of your stomach with a low-fructose starch. It will all take care of itself.

1
661049c9d47b802738d33f94b1e6fb5c

(157)

on February 06, 2011
at 07:42 PM

Hi guys, I am not a native speaker of the English language and still,I can comment on the grammar of the first article and boy it is badly written.Apart from the writing,the argumentation is rather silly. As for the NHS article,I believe that they just want to be covered legal wise.They comment that further research is needed and slightly attack the design of the method but it is a common practice in papers.

1
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on February 06, 2011
at 04:15 PM

I think the not is misplaced. Their are 2 major misconceptions with athletes.

  • they think they NEED copious carbs.(and think they're running on them)

  • They think calories are hard to get without carbs.

I call misinformed and under educated. Its ridiculously hard to go wrong with a Whole food, unprocessed approach to nutrition.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 07, 2011
at 01:28 AM

Not required is the point. I personally run better with carbs in my diet. But not pre workout.

5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0

(1386)

on February 06, 2011
at 05:39 PM

on the other hand, there are a lot of healthy and physically active paleo people who mistakenly believe they must be eating LC, or even VLC to get the most out of paleo, which is equally BS. healthy and active people can easily handle, and also benefit from some more carbs.

091423a30c0188fbff51e39397e7e056

(384)

on July 28, 2012
at 07:35 AM

No athlete thinks they can't get calories without carbs. They think they cannot get glucose without carbs, which is pretty much true. The process to breakdown protein into glucose is slow and most athletes don't want to be fat adapted since glucose is the best energy source for burst activity. Don't be misinformed when you call someone misinformed.

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