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Power law variation and diet

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 12, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Art De Vany talks a lot about power laws. I think this is a really important concept, at least for the field that I'm more or less qualified for (physical therapy and musculoskeletal health and exercise).

My question is about power law variation and fractals related to diet. Eating different kinds of plants and animals and intermittent fasting are consequences of this concept, and they seem to have a lot of face-value.

Yet, I have never seen Art De Vany write about power law variation and macronutrient ratios (I don't subscribe to his blog and haven't read the book yet).

Would that make sense: trying to change your carb/fat/protein ratio's in a power law manner? Sometimes very low carb, sometimes high carb, sometimes... And I don't mean by measuring and planning this very carefully, but just letting things happen.

Any thoughts on this? Any experience? Or science?

Thanks.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on January 12, 2011
at 08:59 PM

@ Pieter D: Again, I don't know if there's any data on scheduled vs. random carb cycling. You may have to do an n=1 study on yourself.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 12, 2011
at 07:45 PM

Ed, thanks, and indeed carb cycling is somehow related to my question, although I feel that the typical cycling is rather planned and non stochastic.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on January 12, 2011
at 06:41 PM

For some reason I thought you were talking about mixing carbs in - oops. So, yes, I think you are absolutely right that we should eat in a random, unplanned fashion. Both De Vany and Sisson seem to advocate a loose version of this.

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3 Answers

2
77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on January 12, 2011
at 06:37 PM

First, I don't think De Vany intends the power law idea to apply in all instances - e.g., you should avoid the stochastic consumption of paint chips and battery acid. Since we belive that we are not well-evolved to consume most processed carbs, then according to similar logic, they are to be generally avoided. So explicit harm trumps the possible benefits of random variation.

Second, part of what De Vany likes about the power law is that it helps us better mimic the consumption patterns of our ancestors. This advantage is lost if we include foods that they did not eat.

(For what its worth, I read a friend's copy of the book over vacation.)

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on January 12, 2011
at 06:41 PM

For some reason I thought you were talking about mixing carbs in - oops. So, yes, I think you are absolutely right that we should eat in a random, unplanned fashion. Both De Vany and Sisson seem to advocate a loose version of this.

2
0ee98c251b5eef357445aefec99c5d7b

(888)

on January 12, 2011
at 04:51 PM

Well the argument can be made that paleo men didn't eat perfect macronutrient ratios every meal. So it would be interesting to see the results when someone tries to mimic paleo eating behavior by eating lots of meat a couple of days, then mainly vegetables, one day mostly fish, net day some roots and tubers, and throw in some IF in between. This might be worth tinkering with. I don't think there's been scientific studies about this subject but there might be some anecdotal evidence floating around.

Not many Paleo peps advocate this sort of approach (correct me if I'm wrong), but it actually makes intuitive sense that Paleo men just ate 1 macronutrient each meal (say meat, or tubers, or veggies) instead of mixing them so carefully as we do.

1
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on January 12, 2011
at 06:25 PM

Pieter D,

An example of what you're talking about is carb cycling, which is a common technique used by bodybuilders as well as overweight folks to cut bodyfat by alternating lower and higher carbohydrate intake. I've never tried carb cycling myself (at least not intentionally), so I don't know if there's any advantage in doing it randomly vs. on a schedule.

Carb cycling has been used or discussed by some of the bloggers that are popular here. Robb Wolf successfully used carb cycling in 2009 to lean out after a bulking cycle. Martin Berkhan said in 2009 that "the Leangains approach is more or less carb cycling in a condensed time window."

Of course, fasting is the ultimate manipulation of macronutrients. The benefits of IF-ing have been discussed extensively on previous threads. Again, I don't know whether spontaneous, random fasts confer much (or any) benefit vs. scheduled fasts.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on January 12, 2011
at 08:59 PM

@ Pieter D: Again, I don't know if there's any data on scheduled vs. random carb cycling. You may have to do an n=1 study on yourself.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 12, 2011
at 07:45 PM

Ed, thanks, and indeed carb cycling is somehow related to my question, although I feel that the typical cycling is rather planned and non stochastic.

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