Clara Davis: Babies Know Best

“The nurses’ orders were to sit quietly by, spoon in hand, and make no motion…”

The babies never had anything other than breast milk prior to starting the experiment.  Fully ad lib, they could have as much of whatever food they wanted.  Every morsel was weighed and quantified.

Setting: orphanage.


“Armed with growing evidence from the newly emerging field of nutrition, doctors began prescribing with bank teller–like precision what and when and how much a child should eat in order to be healthy.”  #fakenews LOL

Results: “Every diet differed from every other diet, 15 different patterns of taste being presented, and not one diet was the predominantly cereal-and-milk diet, with smaller supplements of fruit, eggs and meat, that is commonly thought proper for this age.”

“15 uniformly well-nourished, healthy children”


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The DietFits Study

Preliminary results from Chris Gardner’s follow-up to this study suggest insulin resistance may not be as big an influence on the success of LC/LF diets as prior studies have shown.  Maybe I was wrong.

We aren’t given many details in the abstract or interviews, and there are still some good studies showing otherwise (eg, those by Cornier, Pittas, Ebbeling, and Gardner himself), although this one is bigger (n = 609) and longer (1 year).  However, the range of weight change was huge, something like +20 lbs to -80 lbs, so the devil might be in the details… time will tell.  Might be subtle yet important changes in body comp or other metabolic indicators.

If it turns out to be true, my best guess: they were all following Hunger-Free Diet(s)… which work regardless of whether low fat or low carb.


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Whole grains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

WUUUT *rimshot*

A new study on whole grains demonstrates how nuanced & complicated nutritional science can be.


Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women (Karl et al., 2017)


Sounds simple enough…


Study design: adequate to address the questions being asked.  Isocaloric, weight-maintenance diets.  Biggest differences between the two diets were whole grains (0 vs. 200 g/d) and insoluble fibre (15 vs. 30 g/d).


Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of cereal fibre, but that’s irrelevant for the point of this post.



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The BROAD Study or Meat

Is eating meat necessary?  Optimal?


Hint: it’s more important to not eat processed refined junk foods.


Exhibit A. The BROAD study: a randomized controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischaemic heart disease, or diabetes (Wright et al., 2017)

Tl;dr: it worked.



The longer version: it was a low-fat vegan diet supplemented with 50 ug B12 (methylcobalamin) daily.


Participants were advised to eat until satiation.

We placed no restriction on total energy intake.

Participants were asked to not count calories.”


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The Spanakopita Experience

I’ve made variations of this recipe about a million times, substituting different cheeses &/or yogurts, different ratios of spinach:leek, different onions, etc… but here’s the recipe I make most often.

2 lbs chopped spinach

2 eggs

1 white onion

½ bunch of parsley

½ bunch of dill

1 bunch of scallions

A couple cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

Optional: about half a chopped up leek

12 ounces of dairy — mix & match; these are a few that have worked well for me: Feta, cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and Parmesan.  Current fave is equal parts Feta, Greek yogurt, and Parmesan.




edit: all ingredients should be chopped, diced, & sliced

Some people like to sauté the garlic and onion a bit; it softens their contribution.  I don’t.  There aren’t strict rules; I’ve even replaced some of the spinach with shredded Brussels sprouts.  MADMAN!

Mix everything in a big pot or mixer.  If you want a creamy spanako-spinach dip instead, pour it into something like this, and bake 250F x 1 hour or until it reaches your desired consistency.  Time & temp may vary depending on your oven.



For the full spanakopita experience, gonna need phyllo dough and melted butter or duck fat or bacon grease or something similar.  This can have a big impact on the final flavor — I usually use a mix of butter and something else.



Place a sheet of phyllo in the dish and brush on a layer of butter.  Repeat 5-10 times.  Add the spanako mix, then phyllo-butter-phyllo-butter again about 5-10 more times.  For a lower carb version, use less.  Some people go crazy and put layers of phyllo between layers of spanako mix.

note: water is toxic to all known species of phyllo.  Don’t get it wet.

Now is the time to cut it into squares – not after you bake it or else the crispy phyllo will crack all over the place.

Bake it at 350F for about 45 minutes or until the phyllo is golden.




Advanced course: spanakopita triangles.

Cut the phyllo into 2-3 inch strips.  Butter up 2 strips on top of each other, put a spoon-sized lump of spanako mix at the bottom, fold lower left corner over, then fold up, then fold lower right corner over, then fold up, and repeat until you’ve used all the phyllo.

Cook at same temp but about half as long.



Super-advanced: sprinkle a little Parmesan (or something similar) on the phyllo before you fold it so it gets in there, between the layers of phyllo.  You can do this for both the pan spanakopita and the triangles.


note: baking spanakopita is very aromatic.  You’ve been warned.


calories proper










Insulin secretion happens pretty quickly after a meal, in part, due to nutrients and gut-derived incretins like GLP-1.  GLP-1 secretion only happens with a meal, so the insulinemic response to oral glucose is greater than that to i.v. glucose:



Part 2. The liver sees WAY more insulin than peripheral tissues when this happens.  And it’s probably that way for a reason; ie, perhaps you need more insulin to shut down hepatic glucose output than to stimulate muscle glucose uptake and shut down lipolysis, etc.


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Carb early but not often

*if you’re going to carb, that is



The Sofer study was uniquely insightful in that they compared 3 carb-rich meals per day with the same amount of carbs but restricted to 1 meal.  Both groups ate 3 times per day.  Tl;dr: one carb meal is modestly better than three even when total carbs are controlled.  Since the carb-meal happened to be dinner, #fakenews reported that “carbs at night” are superior… but we saw right through that – the real conclusion was carb frequency not carb timing.


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What or When to Eat

Artificial light at night, crappy sleep, and skipping breakfast are major contributors to poor circadian rhythms.  Some bro’s insist WHAT you eat is infinitely more important than WHEN you eat.  I beg to differ, at least in part – nix the refined & processed foods and it doesn’t really matter if you prefer low fat or low carb (P<0.05).  Evidence: Hunger-free diet(s).


Exhibit A.  On the other hand, feed two people identical diets but induce circadian disruption in one and whammo – big difference in outcome.



Significantly less fat loss and more muscle loss in the circadian disrupted group.

Interindividual variability? Yes.  Statistical significance? YES.


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Eating in the absence of hunger

Good idea? Bad idea? … a bit of a rant

Some gurus swear by the “only eat when hungry” mantra.  I’m neutral on the issue.  In my opinion, it can work for people who are good planners because if you wait until you’re hungry and haven’t planned or prepared a meal yet, then it might be a while until you finally get to eat.  Maybe you’re an hour from home: unlucky => by the time you start cooking, you’re famished and end up overeating.  So you try to repent by skipping breakfast the following morning but fall into the same trap.  Of course, however, it’s not gonna be like this for everyone.


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A timeline of ketoadaptation

This is how ketoadaptation works (when it works), chronologically, on physical performance (I think):



Dark grey line: the gradual increase in performance for someone training on a regular diet.

Red line: performance declines on keto initially, but is back to baseline (light blue line) by week 3.

Light grey line: as long as ketoadaptation doesn’t impair performance, similar gradual increase in performance for someone training on a regular diet.  Parallel to the dark grey line.  May even catch up to the dark grey line.  I don’t know, but probably not as per FASTER – long-term LC athletes were not superior to their LF counterparts.


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