Yesterday I listened to an excellent podcast between Justin Manning and Richard Nikoley. It might have been the single-best hour of any health podcast I have heard. Unlike most health podcasts today which promote neurotic food obsessions or unsafe fitness practices, this was the story of Richard Nikoley of FreeTheAnimal.com and what happened on his journey into low-carb Paleo.
His story is important because he has been doing this for years. He is also over 50 years old. Hearing about how some 25-year-old got ripped doing 6 months of Paleo and CrossFit tells me nothing. You’re supposed to be fit and healthy at 25. And unlike Art De Vany and Mark Sisson, Richard was never a professional athlete.
Richard and I share a lot of similarities. Both of us came into Paleo via the writings of Art De Vany. We both lowered the carbs. We both lost weight. We both had issues after our weight loss. We both questioned and eventually rejected the anti-carb dogma. Along the way, we experimented with intermittent fasting and cold exposure.
Early in the interview, Richard mentioned how influential the book Fooled By Randomness by Taleb was to him. This was the same book I was reading at the time I first was exposed to Paleo. I believe that book along with our backgrounds in investing helped us think differently about the various health claims during our journey. Richard saw it faster than I did in nutrition. I was focusing more on the survivorship bias rampant in the fitness community. I even put out a post calling Taleb to task for being fooled by randomness on his own fitness routine.
Caveman by Jason Schleifer
Richard’s Low-Carb Paleo Journey
Although the entire show is good, I want to highlight the portion that starts around 21:20. Here are the notes I took.
- Low-carb Paleo fools you because weight loss is so easy at first.
- Removing grains, veggie oils, and processed foods creates a caloric deficit.
- Richard lost 60-70 pounds following Low Carb Paleo. He got down to 175 at 5 ’10.
- At his low, his hands and feet hurt from being very cold. This is a common side effect of low-carb diets.
- During this period of chronic discomfort, he got “off his game” and gained 10 pounds.
- After gaining 10 pounds, he felt great, which is what caused him to question the low-carb dogma.
- It frustrates him when LC zealots advise a further reduction in carbs to those with stalled weight loss that experiencing side effects and symptoms associated with LC diets.
- Richard acknowledges that LC/Ketogenic diets can be good for initial weight loss, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, and epilepsy.
- Believes LC/Ketogenic diets are best used as an intervention, not a lifestyle.
- Most people who have walked this planet did not follow a LC diet.
- People under 35 seem to do well on LC. That is a result of being young.
- Being Paleo and showing off your abs at 20 doesn’t prove anything.
- LC Paleo leads one to believe that restricting carbs not restricting calories caused fat loss. This is false.
- On calories: “You don’t need to count them, but they count.”
- Weight loss stall is caused by a reduction in mass. When you lose mass, your energy requirements drop. To further lose weight, you must either further reduce calories or increase activity.
The book Fooled By Randomness discusses attribution bias. We try to find the reasons that explain a result and sometimes we get it wrong. Richard got it wrong. I got it wrong. Unlike several of the charlatans in the Paleo community, we are willing to admit it. Paleo is a wonderful narrative. It really is a shame that it got hijacked by the low-carb cult.