View Full Version : The Protein Debate!

Greg Everett
12-09-2006, 05:31 PM
Dr. Loren Cordain (The Paleo Diet) and Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) make their arguments for amount and type of dietary protein for optimal health. Free PDF download.


Discuss here!

kevin mckay
12-09-2006, 07:33 PM
Cool stuff, you guys kick ass!

Robb Wolf
12-10-2006, 09:13 AM
In my best Elvis voice:
Thank yew very muuuuch...thank yew!

Steve Liberati
12-10-2006, 04:40 PM
Thanks so much for such an in-depth scientific debate between two very brilliant guys. Although both make good points, I'd have to go with Cordain on this one. Experience (trial-n-error) and evolutionary history tell me Cordain paints a very clear (and factual) picture of human history and its connection with optimal health, body composition and prevention of diseases. The facts don't lie. Cordain just manages to put it all in perspective for us.


Mike ODonnell
12-10-2006, 05:52 PM
I don't think I could possible go on with Campbell's recommendation of eating only 10% of total diet from protein from vegetable sources only.....I love meat way too much (wait....did that come out wrong??).

Scott Kustes
12-11-2006, 05:40 AM
So far so good. I haven't finished it yet (what's wrong with me?!), but thanks for putting this together. It's more top-notch material. And only 4 more days till a new PM!

Coach Rutherford
12-11-2006, 08:33 AM
Great piece, however I don't need Dr. Cordain to convince me about the value of protein for health.

About 16 years ago I read DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA. I was convinced that if I gave up steak, chicken and all the other beasts, that I would save the world and make myself healthier and my endurance performance would improve. I was geeking on multi-sport at the time. I worked hard to combine foods to complete my protein requirements. The experiment last about 6 months.

I dropped muscle in my upper body. I was weak and sleepy almost all the time. Mentally, I was in a fog. I was lean mostly from the low calorie consumption and insanity of mult-sport training. I was restless at night and would find a head cold every 8 weeks even in the heat of July.

Finally I ate a steak then some chicken and finally some eggs. After only a week of adding these items back into my diet, I felt like a new man. I was refreshed in the morning. I was not falling asleep on the floor in the evenings.

It was a horrible 6 months.

Yael Grauer
12-11-2006, 08:46 AM
It was a horrible 6 months.

It took me way longer than that! I'm a slow learner. :(

Mike ODonnell
12-11-2006, 09:13 AM
I found this interesting as I was researching for a similar topic on Cow's Milk. I know Dr Campbell uses Caesin, and says that it is not as healthy as veg proteins. (I believe he points to increase in cancer with elevated IGF-1). Also thought this was interesting:

"In the current study, the Ohio State scientists found that treating prostate cells with whey protein elevated glutathione levels in the cells by up to 64 percent.“The buildup of free radicals is associated with the onset of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer,” said Joshua Bomser, a study co-author and an assistant professor of food science and technology at Ohio State. “And human prostate tissue is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress.” The researchers treated another batch of prostate cells with casein, the major protein found in cheese. Casein doesn’t contain the key ingredient for manufacturing glutathione, and, as expected, glutathione levels in these cells did not increase. “Unlike casein, whey proteins are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that increases glutathione in the prostate,” Kent said. “Cheese contains various proteins that can influence the levels of different antioxidants in prostate cells,” Kent continued. “But cysteine is the amino acid that helps create healthy glutathione levels in the prostate, and glutathione helps keep free radicals under control.”The study appears in a recent issue of the journal Toxicology in Vitro."

Just goes to show that not all proteins are alike. I know milk does make me all mucus like and brings on exercise enduced asthma....now it looks like it could do alot worse in the long term.

Robb Wolf
12-11-2006, 12:22 PM
Loads of interesting stuff in there.

I'm working on an intermittnet fasting update that looks at oxidative damage. Like all things, the dose determines whether we have medicine or poison.

Dr. Campbell shot me an email and may stop by to comment on the debate.

Brad Hirakawa
12-11-2006, 02:59 PM
"Like all things, the dose determines whether we have medicine or poison."

You just bought a tear to my eye... a tear of freaking joy!!!!


(recently.. finally.. accepted as a full memeber to the Society of Toxicology... DABT, here I come)

Mike Minium
12-11-2006, 03:39 PM
What a great paper. Thanks for the resourcefulness and the awesome read!

Jeremy Jones
12-11-2006, 04:17 PM
Nice read. I am pretty biased from hanging out will all you bad influences. . .but I tried to read with my proverbial 'witness robes' on and I still was swung to the Paleo side.

Jonathan Reik
12-12-2006, 09:03 PM
Thanks to Greg and Robb (and Nicki!) for putting this protein debate together. I really like that it incorporated two scientists in the field, without getting overly technical. I also appreciated that you chose Campbell for the "low-protein" side of the debate, rather than setting up a straw man to be easily defeated by Cordain.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that Dr. Campbell didn't provide references for his assertions. Without these references, it becomes a bit easy for Cordain to look more knowledgeable, especially when he refers to Campbell's own studies. Furthermore, Campbell brings up some scary points - increased protein intake being correlated with cancers and other diseases, etc - but then cites no evidence. These are serious assertions, especially in this community which consumes a fair amount of protein, perhaps even more than 15%. :eek: If the evidence is that compelling, please show us where it is! Thankfully, he does a bit of referring in his rebuttal. However, these citations don't back up his claims connecting protein intake with cancer (other than his own study).

Also, I do not find his assertion that "the ancestral line giving rise to humans was strongly herbivorous" compelling. Those monkeys didn't have our brains, and thus our brain energy requirement, and they lived in warmer climates with ready access to food. When we began to leave those lush environments, finding energy-dense food became more of a challenge than it would have been in the tropical areas where you can stumble across all sorts of edibles.

Furthermore, he spends nearly all of his rebuttal time telling us why nutrition should not be seen through the eyes of evolutionary biology and very little time telling us why excess protein is bad for us. Campbell seems to assume that we have a good knowledge of his work. I do not, and my only knowledge of his book comes from a perusal of the reviews at Amazon. Without that knowledge or references to these protein-damning studies, his arguments about protein being bad and causing this or that disease sound like little more than pleading assertions.

Finally, the last point in his rebuttal is bizarre. It's a vague reference to anecdotal evidence from his colleagues. (My brother's girlfriend's roommate's cousin had the opposite experience, so therefore Campell is wrong. :p ) This reads more like discussion board flame war tripe than scholarly argument and is a weird addition to an otherwise cogent paper.

However, Cordain's argument is also disturbing in suggesting that saturated fat, not protein is the CVD boogeyman. My understanding is that the science behind that particular line of reasoning is pretty flimsy (see Gary Taubes' The Soft Science of Dietary Fat (http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=cache:rA7qvoaf2WYJ:www.nutricao.ufpe.br/revisao/dietfat.pdf+author:%22Taubes%22+intitle:%22The+sof t+science+of+dietary+fat%22+)) and Cordain's allusion to it is not reassuring.

All in all though, I thoroughly enjoyed the debate. I learned a lot and have a bunch of papers to look up now. This sort of honest evaluation of both sides of an idea is far too rare. Thanks for providing it! Will we perhaps see a debate on fat or ketosis in the future? (Please, please!) In any case, thanks again to the PM crew for putting this together and kudos to Campbell and Cordain for taking on the challenge.

Mike ODonnell
12-13-2006, 06:28 AM
I think there need to be a study done based on the "types" of protein intake. Milk based, Meat based, Grass Fed Meats, Soy based, Veg based etc. Just saying protein is too broad. I'd think they find natural organic/grass fed meats and Veg based to be benefit in all health markers. Where as Milk, Soy, and the conventional modern meat lacking.

Sat fat should be the next debate....that would be a good one!

Neal Winkler
12-13-2006, 06:56 AM
Jonathan, you are right to note that the evidence of saturated fats danger is flimsy. In fact, it's non-existant. Cordain actually shots himself in the foot by admitting on his own website in the FAQ section that the diatary interventions have consistently shown no benefit to reducing saturated fat. If you have access to journal articles, check this one out: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=9635993&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_DocSum

Or, check out "The Great Cholesterol Con" by Anthony Colpo.

Robb, speaking of Anthony Colpo, I would love to see a cholesterol/saturated fat debate between him and Cordain, if Cordain has the time to do another one of these. Thanks for all your work, we all appreciate it.

Yael Grauer
12-13-2006, 07:16 AM
I vote Sally Fallon versus Barry Sears.

Scott Kustes
12-13-2006, 08:44 AM
Just finished this last night and after some digestion time, here are my thoughts:
- Campbell needs citations. It's very easy to dismiss his claims without them.
- Campbell is extremely dogmatic and didn't appear open to even considering Cordain's ideas, except the one about no dairy which he agreed with in the beginning.
- Campbell makes some very good points though. Such as being too tied to "Paleo". Our ancestors did what was necessary, dictated by their environments. While I agree that the hunter-gatherer eating pattern is healthiest, there may be "non-Paleo" foods that are not altogether unhealthy.
- Cordain is still on the saturated fat kick...I'm not with that.
- I agree with Mike about "protein." Hot dogs have protein. So does grass-fed bison and wild salmon. Tofu has it, as do miso and natto. There are huge differences in all of these items (namely nitrates/ites in the dogs and antinutrients in the tofu). It's hard to call the anti-protein evidence compelling when they haven't seperated whether the people ate grass-fed, grain-fed, or processed proteins.

Colpo and Cordain had a debate on his old Omnivore site via an intermediary that was doing the emailing back and forth. It's probably available in his "Best Of". A fat debate would be cool though. Why don't you PM people get on this while you're not doing anything else. :)

Craig Cooper
12-13-2006, 10:10 AM
-Cordain needs to get on board with saturated fat.
-Campbell sounded like a junior highschool student defending his opinions.
-Campbell provided no references, suggesting that his word is dogma.
-I have a big problem with Campbell's assertion that double-blind, controlled clinical trials have no place in nutritional science.
-I have an even bigger problem with Campbell's assertion that epidemiological studies can provide compelling evidence if used properly.
-I have a huge problem with Campbell's "what works for evolution vs. what works for long-term health" comparison. Talk about reductionist science!
-Cordain's first point in his rebuttal renders Campbell's entire debate meaningless. Campbell's protein "requirements" are based on the assumption that the only use for protein is to replace nitrogen in the body. That indeed is quite the oversimplification.

I really tried to read this debate with an objective, open mind, but it's really difficult when I found myself immediately observing flaws in Campbell's arguements.

Jonathan Reik
12-17-2006, 06:57 PM
Thanks for the link to the study, Neal. Good stuff.

And Colpo's book is on my X-mas list.

Robb Wolf
12-21-2006, 10:04 AM
Hey Everybody!
Thank you for the feed back and kind words. I had this project in mind for quite some time and I'm really glad we were able to pull it off.

A few thoughts:
1-I had a terrible time writing the introduction for the debate. I found myself echoing what Prof. Cordain wrote...I've had an essay in my head for about three years something to the effect "Where is the Science in Nutritional Sciences?" I think I got scooped on that! I wanted to create the opportunity for these guys, who are at the top of their fields, to get in and hash this topic out as thoroughly as they wanted. We had the opportunity for another rebuttal from both players however I echoed Prof. Cordains thoughts that nothing would be gained and things would likely devolve further. I think we wrapped that project at the right point and it stands well on it's own.

2-I really respect Prof. Campbell. I do not agree with him but I had the opportunity to talk to him on the phone and we exchanged MANY emails. He keeps a grueling lecture and appearance schedule at an age when most of America has been buried or they are institutionalized. That is impressive but I do think some opportunities were missed and I witnessed something that appears to be common behavior among the vegetarian pundits, particularly those who are more charismatic like McDougal. Instead of addressing concerns in a point by point basis (as Prof Cordain did in this case and has done in other situations...Dr. Eades same deal) the topic shifts and things take on an hint of ad hominen attack. When Prof. Campbell dismissed all of Cordain's points about nutritional science being only in a state of taxonomy and the need for a foundational theory...he asked the question (something to the effect...going from memory here) "Why don't you like nutritional science? There were other examples and if folks want to we can really de-construct that content, but I think you get what I'm saying. Instead of sticking to facts things become emotionally charged. That is unfortunate.

It is fascinating to me that virtually every field of inquiry regarding human health and behavior that incorporates an evolutionary perspective is witnessing an explosion in understanding and progress. I found an article talking about managing workplace conflict and the need for an understanding of the dynamics of hunter gatherer groups to manage situations better. This insight appears to be revolutionizing conflict resolution as there is now a cogent theory from which to assess various studies that were previously just a disjointed mess of information. But by the arguments that Campbell and his friend the evolutionary psychologist from stanford made we have nothing to learn about group dynamics by looking at how we evolved in groups! Our whole success as a species was predicated on how effective our group dynamics were.This is HOW we hunted, gathered, raised children, loved, fought. this also represents the economic strategies necessary for our ancestors to survive. If we just dismiss this underlying theory...what are we left with? Freudian psychology? Meyers brigs personality assessments? These both have some merit but they fail to answer ANY why's and are not up to the taks of making predictions...which is what science is all about.

One point in particular that I find almost laughable. The vegetarian crowd makes the argument that we are a mainly herbivorous organism. We know how large humans were in the past, we know the capacity of their GI tracts and how they can extract nutrients from food. It should be easy to run numbers on available foods and the thermodynamic viability of a vegetarian diet. Cordain has done just that and it appears that without agriculture an exclusively plant based diet is not feasable. Detailed analysis of carbon isotopes indicates that H. Sapiens in Northern europe were MORE carniverous than the arctic fox...but then the argument shifts that these people lived short lives and did not have time to manifest all the horrible diseases this type of diet "should" produce....even though NO hunter gather gorup was ever found to be vegetarian, all ate animal products, all were by all accounts very healthy. We can PROVE that it was thrmodynamicaly impossible for vegetation to provide the totality or even a significant portion of our calories...and instead of deconstructing the assertation, instead of using science to PROVE their point, the vegetarin crowd simply dismisses the argument as irrelevant. This reminds me of the Flat Earth Society...no amount of proof is going to change their minds. Circular arguments, side stepping the point at hand, going no where.

3-On saturated fat. Cordains point has always been that sat fat should be within certain percentages. This based upon the availability of sat fat in range fed wild animal meats. It does appear that a low carb diet mitigates potential problems with sat fat. My thought? Eat as much sat fat as you can get...from grassfed sources. If you are eating grain fed meat the sat fat and n-6/n-3 elements are not in healthful ratios. You should do some tinkering to get them back into line.

I'm going to get in and do some line by line thoughts on the debate...this is all going form memory.

Ralph Cinque
01-17-2007, 11:51 AM
I have read through the debate twice, and I have also read various reviews and comments that have been posted on two different blogs. And from what I have seen, the consensus seems to be that Dr. Cordain prevailed over Dr. Campbell. One thing is for sure: they could not have come up with two more diametrically opposed advocates.

Technically, Dr. Cordain may indeed have won the debate because he did put a lot more effort into it. He provided numerous scientific references to back-up his claims, whereas Dr. Campbell didn't provide any- except for a few in his brief rebuttal. You might say that Dr. Cordain offered more "meat," both in his diet and his presentation. However, even though he didn't make his case as well, in my opinion, Dr. Campbell's position is closer to the truth. And I'll tell you why.

Despite his greater eloquence and verbosity, Dr. Cordain's case really came down to just one argument: that modern humans are descendants of hominoids who ate high-protein, high-meat diets for a very long time, eons, and they "evolved" on such a diet. Therefore, our "genome" (referring to our total genetic nature) demands that we follow such a diet because we are clearly "adapted" to it. He alleges that such a diet is deeply ingrained, mandated, and stamped in our very genes.

I put some of those words in quotes because they are all derived from modern evolutionary theory. But I think that it's wrong. The idea that random genetic mutations underwent "natural selection" to make us who and what we are is nonsense. Here is a link to my article about it: http://www.1to1vitamins.com/news/2007/artl6239.html.

Since Cordain's whole case is based on Evolutionary Theory, if Evolutionary Theory is wrong, then his whole argument falls apart, which I think it does. In a way, he's like a guy hopping around on one foot. All I have to do is sweep that one leg out from under him, and he goes tumbling down. He's got nothing else to stand on.

Why, may I ask, should the whole science of human dietetics be based on just ONE consideration, namely, what did our ancestors eat? Granted, it's an interesting question, and I think it is an important question. But it is not the only consideration. For example, it pales in comparison to doing clinical research studies and epidemiological studies of modern humans, feeding them different diets and then observing and comparing their outcomes and results. That is far more valuable and important and crucial than just being dogmatic about following in the footsteps of our remote ancestors. But to Cordain and his followers, paying homage to the Caveman and trying to duplicate his way of life as much as possible has become both a religion and an obsession.

Whenever I start talking about the quest for the optimal diet, the first thing that comes to mind is the realization that the most proven technique and method of life extension is caloric restriction. Imagine, with all the knowledge we have about vitamins, minerals, hormones, antioxidants etc., it turns out that simply controlling the amount of food eaten is the most certain way to stem disease and prolong life. Experimentally, it has worked with animals large and small, and there is every reason to believe that it works the same way with humans.

So, what does it mean to restrict calories? It means to restrict proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Those are the only things that have calories. In a sense, we say "calories" just because it's less work than writing out "proteins, fats, and carbohydrates." But which of the three should be most restricted? Obviously, there is debate about that, but I see no reason to be biased one way or another. Why do we have to particularly demonize any of one of them? I say restrict all of them. Try to determine how much of each is really, truly needed and then set the restriction bar a little above that. That makes sense to me.

Let me stress that I am not an advocate of extreme caloric restriction. I do not think people should make themselves downright skinny and wasted in an attempt to prolong their lives. But I do think the principle is sound, and that applied in moderation (which is maintaining an attractive, healthy leanness), it has a lot to offer.

So how much protein is needed? Well, let's look at what protein is used for by the body. Basically, it comes down to two things: structure and function. You need protein to maintain structures, including muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, etc. And then on the functional side, you need protein to make enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, immunoglobulins, and other functional components. How much does that all add up to? Well, Dr. Campbell proposed a number that is actually quite widely agreed upon in Science: .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Dr. Cordain never offered any formidable objection to that figure except to imply that it referred to a minimal amount- enough to barely get by. But as Dr. Campbell explained in his rebuttal, that is really not true. The figure includes a safety factor to cover the few people who require more for various individual reasons. Dr. Cordain never offered a technical, quantitative reason why that figure should be considered insufficient, other than that it vied with the "evolutionary model."

Let's take me as an example. I am 5'6" and weigh 137 pounds, which is 62 kilos. That works out to a dietary protein need, according not only to Campbell but to most nutritional scientists, of about 50 grams of protein a day. I probably get closer to 60 or 70, and that's eating almost entirely plant foods and without eating any meat at all. And on that diet, I am maintaining my weight and my strength and my health. I'm not heavily-muscled, but I am rather toned and fit and athletic, especially for a man my age. At least, I think I am. I don't go to the gym, but I do have some exercise equipment that I use at home, plus I bicycle regularly and swim in the summer. At age 55, my goal is to preserve the muscles that I have, that is, to keep them from dwindling. If I do that, say over the next ten years, I will be doing better than 98 percent of people, because most people, the vast majority, male and female alike, lose quite a lot of muscle over that decade- no matter how much protein they eat. And so far, I seem to be managing OK. I don't seem to have lost any muscle size or strength between the ages of 45 and 55, which is pretty good in itself. And I have every hope and expectation of doing the same between the ages of 55 and 65. But my plan does not involve loading up on animal protein. Why should I? I didn't do that the last ten years, and I maintained my strength and fitness. Remember, I'm not trying to make my muscles grow; I'm only trying to maintain what I have. I'm not saying it's impossible to grow new muscle in your 50s and 60s, but it's darn hard, and I'm not sure it's worth trying. The things I might do to accomplish that might cause me stress and strain in various ways, and since I'm content with my overall size and strength and proportions, I'm inclined to leave well enough alone and just try to maintain. So that's my plan. In fact, the only way I could possibly gain new muscle is if I started doing very heavy exercise- lifting heavy weights. But I'm not going to do that because it's not going to make me any healthier overall, and I could easily get hurt. Do you think I want to spend my hard-earned money supporting physical therapists, chiropractors, and orthopedists? I assure you I don't. But what would happen if I kept up the same level of exercise that I do now, the same workload on my muscles, and just increased my consumption of dietary protein? I'll tell you what would happen: nothing.

Muscles don't respond and grow just because you eat more protein. If they did, then all the people (men and women alike) who go on high-protein diets to lose weight would get more muscular as they did it. But of course they don't. So what happens to the extra protein? It gets broken down. The body deaminizes the excess amino acids, breaking off the nitrogen radical which basically becomes ammonia. Then, the liver wraps up the ammonia radicals into a larger molecule known as urea (which is easier to handle; it's not irritating the way ammonia is), which is then excreted by the kidneys. This amounts to extra work for both the liver and the kidneys. But it has to be done so that the body can process the extra protein as a fuel, either for burning or for storing as fat. (Yes, the body can convert protein into both carbohydrate and fat.) But when it comes to my need for fuel, I would rather rely on carbohydrates or even fats because both carbohydrates and fats burn all the way down to carbon dioxide and water. And nothing else. That's clean fuel. Why should I try to burn proteins when the nitrogen radical won't burn? Think of it like a log that you throw on the fire to create heat (which you want) but which also generates a bunch of black smoke (which you don't want).

But getting back to Dr. Cordain's arguments again, relying on the "evolutionary model" to evaluate all things biological is both presumptuous and, in my opinion, wrong. It occurs to me that human ancestors ate the way they did "way back when" not necessarily because of some evolutionary mandate, but because there was an Ice Age going on. Granted, under primitive Ice Age conditions, you either feed heavily on meat, or most likely, you die. But now that things have warmed up and the ice is mostly melted, we don't have to do that any more. And no, our genes are not going to scream bloody murder if we don't.

Dr. Cordain seems to think that only when we eat so much protein that we saturate our liver with unconverted ammonia do we get into trouble. Sure, that is a deadly situation, but don't you think there are lesser and more subtle degrees of harm from excess protein? And regarding the kidneys, he admits that people whose kidneys are already impaired suffer from high-protein diets, but for those whose kidneys are in the normal range, he assumes that they "adapt" to the greater workload of a high-protein diet. Even if that's true, and I'm not sure it is, give me one good reason why we should give our kidneys the extra work? Don't think of it as a beneficial thing like physical exercise. It's not like that at all. I know from my own clinical experience that people who eat high-protein diets have higher levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and I don't see that as a good thing. He can laugh it off if he wants to, but I do not. I would add (and he agrees) that high-protein, meat-based diets result in higher purine intake, which is tied to the formation of uric acid. However, he tries to argue that somehow that's a good thing, and that high-purine diets actually lead to lower uric acid. But his argument is very weak. He makes some startling citations, true, but trust me, it goes against the bulk of the scientific evidence concerning gout.

Regarding bone health, Dr. Cordain admits that high-protein diets result in increased urinary loss of calcium. But he argues that it doesn't matter because at the same time, intestinal absorption of calcium increases. But that doesn't change the fact that there is a strong epidemiological correlation between high-meat diets and osteoporosis. I agree, as he points out, that there can be "confounding variables." But even when researchers try their best to account for those confounding variables, the association still remains. Besides, even if it is true that high-protein diets cause increased calcium absorption, we should wonder why. It's well known that the body cranks up the efficiency of calcium absorption precisely when it is under calcium duress. Perhaps that is what is going on.

I will close by making one last point, and I'm surprised that Dr. Campbell didn't make it. Look at the comparative analysis of mammalian milks. Meat-eating, high-protein feeders, like lions and tigers, and for that matter even dogs and cats, have much higher amounts of protein in their milks than do cows or sheep or people. In fact, do you know which mammal has the lowest protein content in its milk of all? Yes, it is the human being. Human breast milk has a protein content of only about 1 percent, whereas dog milk has 7.5 percent protein, and cat milk has 10.6 percent protein. In fact, I have seen human breast milk listed to be as low as .8 of 1 percent protein. Yet, on an exclusive diet of low-protein breast milk, a human baby can double its birth weight in a matter of months. Let's see you talk your way around that one, Dr. Cordain.

Neal Winkler
01-17-2007, 01:03 PM
Nice reply, Ralph.

I agree with Scott Kustus that everything Dr. Cambbell said can be dismissed because of lack of references. I kinda find his lack of references to be insult to my intellect, to be honest.

Elliot Royce
01-17-2007, 07:46 PM
"of about 50 grams of protein a day. I probably get closer to 60 or 70, and that's eating almost entirely plant foods and without eating any meat at all. And on that diet, I am maintaining my weight and my strength and my health. "

I don't think there is one prescription for everyone. Higher protein consumption has, in my mind, two benefits: protein fills you up and reduces appetite, and it provides the support for muscle growth. Since you have the discipline not to binge and no desire for muscle growth, you don't need all that protein.

I don't buy into the evolutionary argument much -- too much noise around it (see my posts on sickle cell anemia) -- but I can speak from experience that the Paleo diet allows you to lose weight while building some muscle mass. Having said that, as soon as I shifted back to a high carb diet, my lean mass started to increase at a faster pace (carbs are anabolic).

Yael Grauer
01-17-2007, 08:10 PM
I really like the metabolic typing diet. It really seems to explain why some people thrive on a high-protein diet and some people just don't. (Yes, the test costs money. But you can get the book out of the library.)



Robb Wolf
01-21-2007, 03:07 PM
Great post! You bring up many, many interesting points. Regarding the holes in evolutionary theory, epigenics and work like that of Stephen Wolfram (http://www.stephenwolfram.com/) (http://www.stephenwolfram.com/%29), specifically cellular automatia remove many order of magnitude the uncertainty of complex structure evolution. Frankly as a biochemist the more I learn about genetics the less likely it seems that things "just happened" but just because my mind can not grasp potential underlying mechanisms does not mean they are not there. It is very interesting however. Embryology is compelling, as is population genetics. A still popular book. Darwin's Black Box made a point I think similar to yours that certain structures are too complex to have formed randomly...I think the term is "irreducibly complex". The only problem with this is the folks who buy into the theory take micro structures like flagella draw a line in the sand and claim "this structure can not function if one more protein is missing...it is irreducibly complex". Then a month or two goes by and some new bacteria from a deep ocean vent turns up and it has a flagella that functions with 10 less proteins than the supposed limit! One can whittle away hours on Amazon.com reading the ongoing drama from the pro and con camps around that book.

Is evolutionary theory an airtight and finished science? No, not by a long shot...but what I see opponents of the theory do is pick at the edges yet offer no viable mechanism as an alternative. Physics is in a "crisis" as string theory was thought to be the bridge between quantum mechanics and relativity, integrating gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces and magnetism. They have been hashing the same equations around for almost 60 years. Time to shift gears! Evolutionary theory appears to make ever greater inroads with regards to predictive value. I guess you are saying those predictions/conclusions are flawed, I'm frankly not seeing it. I think you made the point that no one in academia wants to hear about flaws to evolution. I LOVE conspiracy type stuff and that's why I love Uffe Ravanskoves' work (http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol.htm) He crunches Merck's numbers, proves they are lying and gets them hammered with millions of dollars of fines. He questions the role of dietary fat in various diseases, statistically proves his point...and is ignored by the mainstream. This sounds a lot like the chap you mentioned in your link, but for that guy to hold any water for me he had better have some numbers and alternative explanations not just shining a light on holes in our current knowledge as a means to dismiss a whole branch of science. The flat earth society still has a following:
http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm (http://www.alaska.net/%7Eclund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm)
You gave a more detailed rebuttal of evolution question than Campbell, he simply dismissed it as relevant. That's convenient and much like making a point with a flat earth-er.

Evolutionary theory and an understanding of our our origins is revolutionizing the areas of bio-science and medicine that actually embrace it. Even workplace conflict is being attenuated by an analysis of our hunter-gatherer social dynamics:

Related to this caloric restriction is not the only method whereby health and longevity are improved. Intermittent fasting is to date less studied however the results have proven to be equal if not superior to CRAN....and this appears to model normal human feeding patterns. Airtight case? No, absolutely not, but it is very compelling.

Keep in mind that Cordain has always reported ranges of macro nutrients consumed by hunter-gatherers, with protein intake being quite low on average for some groups such as the !Kung to quite high among thee Inuit and Ache. ALSO it is stressed that these levels change throughout the year based upon availability. The point being however that these people were remarkably healthy whether the intake was high or low.

Ralph it sounds like you are fit, active 55 year old vegetarian, yes? So what conclusions do we draw from that fact VS Art devany and Keith thomas: http://evfit.com/

These guys are your age or older. Fit, lean and meat eaters. I'm open to the statement that "a whole food diet is beneficial to health" but Keith used to be vegetarian. Incorporated meat, has better body comp and improved blood chemistry's. Are you game for trying that for a month or two? I have blood chemistry's from when I was vegan...a whole physical in fact. I was a mess compared to where I am now yet I am 10 years older. That is pretty damn compelling for ME.

Metabolic ward studies are underway right now that look at a "paleo diet". Recently the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism published a study looking at a "paleo diet" vs high carb diet in pigs. It is very interesting.

I may be blindly embracing a flawed science but I'm not quite ready to toss evolution and what Prof. Cordain has to say on the scrap heap of time. From my perspective a paleo diet saved my life, that of my mother (both celiac, both highly carb intollerant). Veganism offered me nothing but to "try harder". Not very helpful.

On the strange coincidences vain, this arrived in my inbox from Ido Portal while I was writing this response, perhaps there is a God:

Neal Winkler
01-21-2007, 05:29 PM
Well, I would argue that that illustration does a grave injustice to the extremely sophisticated defenses by various religious apologists today and throughout history. Anyone who can walk away from say, a William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga and claim that all religious people are just blind fools who don't have the intellectual respectability to face contradictory evidence probably needs to take a step back and take a look in the mirror.

If this discussion is frowned upon here, then my lips are sealed forevermore. But, I would just like to say that there is nothing on this subject that anyone could say that would offend me, so don't worry about hurting my feelings. :-)

Pierre Auge
01-21-2007, 05:55 PM
I tried very hard not to post this but from the standpoint of a person with some Faith as mentioned in Ido's chart I'm kind of offended. I think it is only those without faith that view it as such a stark cold ignorance, but those who have it may seem to view it much more like that evolutionary chart with which it describes science.

Two quotes from Albert Einstein if you will:

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

I would swap the word Religion with Faith since I would be more inclined to label Religion in certain dogmatic applications to be more closely related to your chart. I find it odd that those who consider themselves most intellectual and rational ignore the rational attachment to that which we do not/can not understand.

I often would prefer to speak to an individual from a manifestly opposed or opposite religious/faithful position than an agnostic who's staunch ignorance of their own spiritual existance serves only to make them obviously less rational and intellectual than they believe themselves to be.

Neal I would normally agree with you that I do not offend easily on this subject but today I find myself severely offended at this point and that is something that usually requires great and concerted effort. Particularly on the behest of someone I consider a friend. Maybe I should reconsider that position?

I think as far as science and nutrition both sides have made good arguments except for that illustration. I find my IQ has probably dropped several points for having read it! My point I think moderation on all counts is best, and hence why I think the zone works well in almost every case.

Unlike Neal I'm not very apologetic, If this kind of discussion if frowned upon here I will be deaply saddened.

Neal Winkler
01-21-2007, 06:46 PM

Certainly you've heard worse before? The conception that faith is an irrational belief in something that cannot be proven, and that religious people emphaticaly embrace this "fact" is a common one. No sweat.

Mike ODonnell
01-21-2007, 08:03 PM
I'm out......

Pierre Auge
01-22-2007, 11:07 AM
Yes but it isn't that fact its that were expected to be fine with being called irrational, dogmatic, or simple. My thought processes are not so simple and that is what I find irritating not so much the attack on Faith itself. I am not saying that agnostics are not entitled to their opinions. Simply that they shouldn't expect me to shelve mine when they start speaking, that is far too often the case. Anyways this went from a good discussion on the topic of protein intake and I have contributed to deteriorating it. For that I'm sorry, for sharing my opinions I am not!

Robb Wolf
01-22-2007, 03:50 PM
My intention was not to hurt anyone's feelings or to point towards some kind of science VS religion hierarchy. It was just ironic (to me anyway) that I received that email while penning that response. I see how the content is potentially inflammatory...apologies, not my intention. Just the irony of the timing.

Obviously one finds the same type of dogmatism in scientific circles as in religious or other circles. I also think it does science AND religion a disservice when people are afraid to simply "I don't know." Tough thing to do, everybody wants to have all the answers.

I remember an article in the NewScientist magazine that put forward the notion that our world, this universe we experience is actually running on a computer....essentially the Matrix come to life. These computer geeks put together a theorem that "proves" this is the most likely explanation of our universe. Someone wrote in and asked if that was the case, why the reticence for scientists to accept the notion of the supernatural as it would be indistinguishable from what these guys were describing. The response form the computer geeks was rubbish...nothing cogent and they simply could not bring themselves to admit the guy had them. Pretty funny when you think about it. Trying to answer questions beyond experience with a 0.000001% error.

Hopefully that puts my thoughts on this topic in some framework for you and I appreciate you being honest with your feelings.

And just for the record I have no problem with arguing and disagreement. I just have a problem when people start getting called coward or are told to STFU. Some points of conflict will obviously not be amenable to a meeting of the minds with the respective parties. That's life. Just no need to start launching insults that you would never do if the person were in a position to kick your ass if they wanted to.

Greg Everett
01-22-2007, 03:53 PM
So how much protein do the computer people recommend?

Robb Wolf
01-22-2007, 04:03 PM
So how much protein do the computer people recommend?

THAT is a good question.

Scott Kustes
01-23-2007, 04:54 AM
At least 1g-1.6g per lb of bodyweight. It's the only way to get HYUGE guns!

Pierre Auge
01-23-2007, 10:29 AM
I like your answer good stuff. Wisdom is in the words, i admit I may have jumped a bit hard on that one. I'd say the computer geeks could use some big guns!

Steve Liberati
01-23-2007, 12:09 PM
Intuition tells me Robb scared off Ralph. Either that or he had a change of heart and turned his position on our evolutionary past.

I'll be the first to tell you nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board. I can recall the time when Robb put me in place and brilliantly defended the merits of evolution as it relates to modern-day nutrition. Good thing he did, as I gained an entire new perspective on fitness and life.

Evolution in practice!

Ralph Cinque
01-23-2007, 12:25 PM
I can see that this board likes to travel all over the place, which I don't mind. Makes it interesting. But if you like, I'll give you Part 2 of my article that challenges Evolutionary Theory. It proposes a whole different paradigm of the origin of life on Earth. And at first, it may seem wild and preposterous. But it's not my paradigm. Two highly respected British scientists were the ones to first propose it. And the more I think about it, the more plausible it seems.


Scott Kustes
01-23-2007, 01:42 PM
Interesting theory Ralph, one which I've heard before. One major issue I take is this quote:
What appeals to me about this theory is that it has life coming from life, rather than from inanimate matter, which is really quite laughable if you think about it.
The theory of panspermia doesn't solve the problem of life coming from the "primordial soup," it merely pawns it off onto space. If we are searching for the ultimate origins of life on earth, not just a proximate one, panspermia gives us nothing. Ok, so the first life came from outer space? How was the first life generated? Divine creation? Abiogenesis? Panspermia still doesn't solve the "first mover" issue.

Robb Wolf
01-23-2007, 03:07 PM
Interesting theory Ralph, one which I've heard before. One major issue I take is this quote:

The theory of panspermia doesn't solve the problem of life coming from the "primordial soup," it merely pawns it off onto space. If we are searching for the ultimate origins of life on earth, not just a proximate one, panspermia gives us nothing. Ok, so the first life came from outer space? How was the first life generated? Divine creation? Abiogenesis? Panspermia still doesn't solve the "first mover" issue.

Exactly Scott. I have no problem with life hitchhiking in on a meteor...perhaps even that it originally generated in the hydrocarbon rich, Gama ray intensive Ort cloud...but it still does not address the first thing to replicate itself, whether that was RNA, DNA some kind of self replicative protein like a prion (mad cow). The self organization of some of these molecules does shed some light on how these initial steps might have happened but I must admit....just "looking" at the whole process...random chance seems a far fetched proposition.

Scott Kustes
01-24-2007, 10:19 AM
Robb, I'm interested in your take on "random chance" and how it's all come to be. Care to take a shot at laying out your thesis?

Ralph Cinque
01-24-2007, 10:57 AM
By logical necessity, since Panspermia claims that life on Earth could not have originated from inanimate matter (since such a thing would contradict everything we know about biology), then there is no reason to think that life elsewhere in the Universe could arise from inanimate matter either. Therefore, the assumption is that living matter (organisms) are as primordial to the Universe as non-living matter. In other words, they have always been around.

Yael Grauer
01-24-2007, 03:30 PM
Well, Robb's little chart pissed me off. I like this scientific diagram better.


Steve Liberati
01-24-2007, 04:32 PM
True, a picture (chart) says a thousand words....

and yep, sometimes the truth hurts!

Allen Yeh
01-25-2007, 03:10 AM
This picture always makes me laugh.

Yael Grauer
01-25-2007, 09:07 AM

Robb Wolf
01-27-2007, 07:03 PM

HA! that's awesome. I think Yael's diagram is a reductionist representation of Allen's holistic representation. Kick ass!

THAT is an interesting proposition. how are we modifying the environment to make things hospitable enough for living organisms? Seems the big-bang, and cooling universe model would be highly at odds with life being woven into the birth of the universe. At present it does not appear that anything heavier then hydrogen ions existed until several generations of stars had fused heavier elements into existence such as carbon and the rest of the periodic table.

Not sure if I follow your question? "random chance" may be much less random that it would appear when we consider the self organizing nature of many non-living systems. This article on cellular automatia is fascinating in that it models highly complex social dynamics with very simple fundamental rules:

These rules are likely fractal and describe everything from quantum events to molecular organisations to societies.

If this is something that underlies the universe it removes a huge amount of what would be insurmountable chance from the equation of evolution and spontaneous generation.

The question of whether a "supernatural"event can or can not occur is interesting to me. Information theory tells us you need a significant matrix to embed information. Quantum computing holds the promise of reducing information storage to the level of an atom and possibly the super positional characteristics inherent in quantum phenomenology. All that considered it is implicit that some matrix exists to contain the information of the universe...so something most likely exists OUTSIDE this universe...which likely means our concepts of physics crash in this "place" and in simple terms, all bets are off!

I suspect the "real" story of our existence is far more interesting than anyone really can comprehend. Or, maybe not.

Craig Cooper
01-29-2007, 10:05 AM
I fail to see how Panspermia disproves evolution. Even if living matter has always been around, and it came to earth on a comet or some other extra-terrestrial vehicle, how do you explain the diversity of life on this planet? What do you call the process of life development based on interactions with its environment?

Scott Kustes
01-29-2007, 01:06 PM
Craig, he isn't arguing against Evolution. He's arguing against the accepted Darwinian view of evolution: the theory of evolution. Notice that he (or the article) made mention of evolution already being incoded into the DNA, therefore, it is somewhat of "fate" that humans would end up where we are as it was coded into the DNA of that first single-celled organism.

I smell what The Wolf is cooking. You're speaking more of a "order out of chaos" type of thing. This is what I tend towards too. I think that we just can't see the overriding universal laws of everything because of our immersion in the system, just as you can't see a high-level view of a forest when you are in the forest.

Craig Cooper
01-29-2007, 11:24 PM
Scott - Thanks for the clarification. Does that mean that he (or the article) is arguing against the idea that random point mutations are responsible for the bulk of major evolutionary changes, that those changes aren't random?

Chris Masterjohn
03-08-2007, 10:51 AM
Hi guys,

You might be interested in reading my own debate with T. Colin Campbell. This is my latest response:


There are links to my initial review of Campbell's book, The China Study, and Campbell's rebuttal on VegSource.com in the opening paragraphs.

Chris Masterjohn