1

votes

Did the Inuit eat low-calorie?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 14, 2011 at 10:10 PM

I can't find anything about total caloric intake of the Inuit. Someone hypothesized that they were healthy because they restricted calories and it had nothing to do with low-carb high-fat eating (yes, they used the Cals in vs. Cals out argument...)

Stephen Guyenet had an article that stated some very lean, very healthy Massai ate around 4,000 cals a day

Any help is appreciated.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on February 15, 2011
at 12:10 AM

You can get really fat eating like an Inuit if you make yourself overeat. Since they don't appear to have a tradition of making themselves overeat, they were probably as lean as any other group.

  • 3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

    asked by

    (1023)
  • Views
    3.1K
  • Last Activity
    1283D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

4 Answers

best answer

2
55179539f4b916555b8ba813dd27cf5c

on February 14, 2011
at 11:17 PM

I just had a look at a study that may shed some light on your question...

Deutch et al. (2007) reviewed the changing food patterns of Greenland Inuit, and looked back at some studies done in the 1950s. There certainly seems to be no evidence that they restricted calories...which seems like a blanket statement anyway to apply to a diverse group. The study cites various surveys which put average Inuit energy consumption in a variety of towns anywhere between 1,916 - 4,541 calories.

Interestingly, the average of 4,541 calories came from the town that reported the highest percentage of traditional foods consumed. So it would suggest that traditional foods were higher in calories, lending less support to the idea that Inuit centuries ago restricted calories.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V78-4P6MBT8-1&_user=37161&_coverDate=10/01/2007&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000004218&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=37161&md5=55f174997f76396a97db8f0f41178cb5&searchtype=a

2
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 15, 2011
at 04:35 AM

Why on Earth would any traditional culture 'restrict' calories if food was available? It's perfectly natural to eat until you feel satiated. People only restrict voluntarily if they have anorexia or, as has recently occured, they have read things that make them feel they might live longer because of it. But in the past, people just until they were full. If you didn't eat until satiation, it was because you ran out of food. The only way you can argue that innuit restricted calories is if you argue that they ran out of food often. I think it's likely they sometimes ran out of food, but on the flip side, with the size of game they hunt, one animal can be a meal for weeks or longer, nicely frozen in the naturally refrigerated arctic. I suspect that whole calorie restriction of the innuit thing probably came from some carb eaters who desparately want to cling to the notion that carb is good and fat is bad and so all evidence to the contrary must be explained away even if the explanation if lame.

As for storing fat, unless you are a half dead emaciated skeleton, then you are storing fat. Everyone has some as a percentage of body weight and that includes all the traditional Masai and Innuit. What it is hard to do on lowcarb is to store a ton of EXCESS fat, more than is healthy for you. But for those with previously damaged metabolisms or for those who are deliberately trying to force down extra calories by fighting the natural satiation response, it is still possible to do it, even on lowcarb. Just harder than if eating a lot of carb and a lot of unnatural types of carb.

I remember one documentary on tv that I saw about a tribe whose culture felt that pudgy women were more pretty, so before their wedding, they would often seclude their women in a hut where the women were supposed to sit around and be very lazy and eat as much food as they could stuff down in order to get fatter! Of course, this did work, but the women had to make a huge effort to force down enough food and some of the women did better than others. Even by the end, most of them were only a little fat, but I bet if they had access to the kind of crap we have here, they would have done a lot better at getting fat!

0
Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

on February 15, 2011
at 12:50 PM

Any traditional hunting culture had surely great variation in the number of calories consumed, depending on the season and how much food was available. The industrialized production of foods allows modern people to set a goal and stay constantly at that level of food intake, but that was not always the case. The average consumption for the innuits or other hunters may have been quite different from the maximum consumption they reached when game was widely available.

0
F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on February 14, 2011
at 11:16 PM

Google "inuit caloric intake" and one of the first results that comes up is a book on Google books. It's a medical anthropology textbook. Just living in the Arctic with the cold weather and hunting and trying to stay warm, they're going to need something like 2500-3000 calories a day. With all the fat they also eat, I'm betting their intake goes way higher than that. Probably comparable to the Maasai if not higher.

I'm not sure what the mechanism would be to store fat if you're eating lots and lots of fat but very little carb. I suppose some people might gain some bodyfat on such a diet. But you're never going to see the amount of obesity and even extreme obesity that you see here in the U.S. on the gigantic SAD carbfest that so many of us eat.

I don't even think it's about their physical activity. Dietary fat just doesn't cause insulin spikes like carbs and even protein can do. Insulin's the primary fat storage hormone, so if it's not in the stratosphere, there goes your fat storage. But I bet traditional Inuit are way energetic since they've got a constant supply of fatty acids. Probably stay in ketosis all the time too.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on February 15, 2011
at 12:10 AM

You can get really fat eating like an Inuit if you make yourself overeat. Since they don't appear to have a tradition of making themselves overeat, they were probably as lean as any other group.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!