Context

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Well boys and girls, this will be my final blog post. I drank the RBTI Kool-Aid and it tasted good. And now, well, there’s not much left to write about. It’s all “in the numbers” you see.

Okay okay, you’re not buying that for a second. You know me well. I have a severe writing problem, and there is no known cure. Even RBTI was unable to cure me of my condition. In fact it could be the worst flareup I’ve ever had. I put the RBTI cookbook together in 6 days for example, and will be releasing another book in two weeks – Diet Recovery: Restoring Hormonal Health, Metabolism, Mood, and Your Relationship with Food!But this really will be my final blog post on THIS blog. As soon as this one is done, I’ll be switching everything over to the http://www.180degreehealth.com/ domain. The “mother ship” as I call it is getting a makeover as we speak from long-time 180 follower “CA$H Money.” It is going to be setup almost exactly the same as this badboy, just sharper around the edges. The forum will not be launched at the get go, but that is DEFINITELY in the works. Expect the new version to be live right around November 1st, give or take a couple days.

Yes, that means 10 whole days without a new blog post. I know, it’s sad, but I’ve got quite a bit of work to do on the site over the next 10 days before it comes out. So it will be good for me to focus on that. And I’m sure, with the excitement of the new site, there will be quite the blog post binge taking place for the first few months. But I’m jumping the gun here. Let’s focus on this post – the Grand Finale of 180 “Bloggie-Style.”

Context is Important

It’s pretty clear that, because of how science is conducted, that most researchers and writers are getting ever-more-narrow in their focus on things. It’s human nature I think to want to identify a single enemy, flush it out of hiding, and put it to death. First it was saturated fat that was killing everyone, then it was not exercising enough. Then it was overeating. Then it was sugar. That got slimmed down to fructose. Then inflammation was the cause of everything, which was slimmed down to gluten. Then trimmed to omega 6, or omega 3 “deficiency.” At one point it was insulin. Big, bad insulin. Then cortisol. Now food is just too damn palatable. And in my recent Wheeling dealings, it was all about minerals.

It’s good that we have myopic researchers on crusades to brutalize their chosen enemy in some ways (and it’s good that I go down as many of the rabbit holes as possible to explore the validity of these bandwagons). We get to see that some foods, substances, mindsets, and hormonal states are contributors to health problems – at least in a certain “context” wink wink. But it seems that each person in the health field is trying to one-up the other by saying, “Fructose! That ain’t nothin’! Have you seen gluten?” It all reminds me of a comedy skit by Brian Regan.

But once you take context into account, you graduate to an entire universe of more sophisticated ways of looking at things. If you identify that fructose is capable of causing fatty liver, insulin resistance, overeating, and obesity – you must later determine what context that is in. Because there is a context in which you can eat until you vomit of fructose and not have any of those problems. It’s called being a fruitarian endurance athlete. But even if you remove the endurance athlete component, you are still unlikely to develop the same fructose-related problems of someone eating a mixed diet washed down with liquid fructose in the form of Mountain Dew.

These little variables are highly significant, but it’s NOT a matter of isolating those variables to discover what really is that single Big Bad Wolf. What matters is the diet, mindset, stress level, social status, lifestyle, exercise level and type, sleep quality, health history, and heredity combined. These factors can never be separated in a real, live human being.

The reason I bring a lot of this up is my recent experiences with a change in context. At the beginning of the year I was experimenting with some of Ray Peat’s ideas about diet and health. I was eating lots of ice cream, full-fat milk (even though Ray drinks low-fat milk), shellfish, sweetened coconut, fruit juice, and fruit. I was having some of these at frequent intervals to keep the production of catabolic hormones to a minimum. If I did any exercise, it was brief and intense with an anabolic effect (for those unfamiliar with such terms, anabolic exercise is stuff like weightlifting or sprinting, catabolic exercise would be, say, distance running or hiking).

While I got very warm (over 98F upon waking and 99+ during the day), and everything was cranking from a metabolism standpoint, I was also waking up in the middle of the night starving, really hungry if I went more than a couple hours without food – which included needing to eat quite a bit late at night to be able to go to sleep, and, in turn, putting on quite a bit of fat. I went from a fairly lean and muscular 195 in November to a fluffy 210 by the end of May (“Ray May,” coincidentally).

I could have easily blamed fructose for this. Or I could have blamed dairy fat. Or I could have expanded outward and blamed it on ice cream, or highly palatable food – as ice cream has pretty much always struck me as the most alluring and addicting of all foods. And at that time, I did.

But lo and behold, the moment that I began eating many of these same foods – juice, fruit, ice cream… and other very palatable foods like pizza, pie, cheesecake – in a different context, I lost not just all the weight I gained eating these foods, but all the weight plus some. I’m down from 210 to around 187 and falling. My total quantity of exercise, while increasing lately, is still no higher than it was during the period that I gained from 195 to 210. The intensity is much lower – mostly hiking with an occasional flurry of pushups or dumbbell exercises. I’m at least as lean as I was at 195 a year ago while doing Scott Abel’s Metabolic Enhancement Training.

So these foods are fattening in one context, and not fattening at all in another. They raised my appetite in one context, and now my appetite is as low or lower than it has ever been eating those same foods.

The most famous examples of the principle of context can be found in the spheres of “physique enhancement.” Alan Aragon eats Cream Puffs. Kevin “the Machine” Weiss is one of the most badass human beings on earth, and gets very lean eating Oreo Cakesters in a certain context as well as doing what Scott Abel calls “cake loading.”

And of course, there is no more famous example than that of Martin Berkhan, who has less fat than a Snackwell and is known for eating an entire Cheesecake in one sitting – although this pales in comparison to Kevin’s incredible Cycle Diet spike-day breakfast.

These guys all know that these foods are “fattening” in a certain context (without weightlifting, calorie cycling, intermittent fasting, etc.). But there is nothing taboo about these foods. They can eat them without being raging diabetics, developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or having their hunger run away from them like personal trainer Drew Manning in his recent “Fit to Fat” experiment (which is reminiscent of Morgan Spurlock’s experience during Supersize Me)…

He describes his personal experience with intentionally gaining weight on junk food as follows…

“All of these foods that I’m eating (sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, white breads, white pastas, sodas, crackers, chips, frozen dinners, mac n cheese, etc.) taste delicious. But then I feel like crap later on and I get hungry again and crave those same foods…


I’m to the point where I feel lethargic and uncomfortable. I definitely feel “addicted” to these foods. In the beginning, I did not like soda, but now I can’t go a day without, otherwise I’ll get the headaches, bad mood, etc. Emotionally, it’s taken a toll on my confidence level, even in my marriage. I don’t like the way I look in public; nothing fits right; bending over to tie my shoes or clip my toe nails has become so difficult. I’ve definitely taken those things for granted…


I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how intense and how real these food cravings are. I think a lot of people associate the word “addiction” with drugs and alcohol, but I do believe this addiction (to America’s processed foods) is real and very similar. I know I’ll never know exactly what it’s like for every person that’s overweight and I don’t claim to, but at least I understand better than I did before when I never had to struggle with this. I hope to learn a lot more in the second half of my journey, from fat 2 fit.”

I’m eating a lot of those same foods, but in a different context to Drew Manning. I am getting a little exercise. I am eating my main meal in the middle of the day and avoiding meat, sweets, and big meals after 2pm (and triggering an intermittent fasting effect as I am eating only 300-400 calories from 2pm to 8am the following day – an 18 hour period). I am drinking a lightly-sweetened beverage in 4-ounce doses every hour (gently lifting my sugar levels with 15 calories instead of a half container of ice cream a la Peat). I am eating a very consistent daily meal schedule. I am eating very high carb in the morning and lower carb in the evening (carb cycling). All of these things have a big influence over the final outcome.

In other words, the context is more important than the individual foods themselves in this particular case.

And this is mostly just an examination of appetite and weight. We could analyze and scrutinize any number of individual factors in terms of how they are impacted by different contexts.

Anyway, I’m excited. I’m excited because it has long been one of the primary objectives at 180DegreeHealth to find ways to expand dietary freedoms, having the maximum amount of health on the minimum amount of effort. While my recent dabbling in RBTI may have appeared to be in disharmony with this – some of the “tricks” of RBTI can easily be harvested an implemented aside from the greater complexity and restriction that comes with following it full Monty (which, as I mentioned in the RBTI Intro Package published 10 days ago, is sometimes very necessary for an ill person in a very weakened condition).

And it’s not even these “tricks” that should be glorified and worshipped as the new “it.” They aren’t. Each person’s health is highly individual and complex, but tiny shifts in context can change all of the other variables. This is obviously not an unfamiliar concept – as raising metabolism for example often enabled people to tolerate things in whole new ways. Carbohydrates for example went from something that caused great crashes and mood swings to something that triggered great energy, sex drive, warmth, and happiness when consumed in the right context (without starving yourself or overexercising, and getting plenty of sleep).

So be mindful of context, not jumping too quickly to blame all things from your saggy bottom to your bad haircut on one isolated food or substance.  There are often ways to eat the foods you think you can’t without having an adverse reaction by changing as little as one other minor factor.  The whole picture of how to achieve a healthy mind and body extends far beyond any one food or substance that you may have declared war on.

Okay, that’s it for Blogger. It’s been fun. Now join me next at the new http://www.180degreehealth.com/ !

29 Comments

  1. WHAT?!?

    I may die of withdrawal symptoms.

    I warned you, when you give me nothing to read, I read Reams' work and my head explodes. It's messy. I don't like it.

    Plus now I'll need a whole new bookmark. :) This is my most faithfully visited site… except for yahoo mail.

    At least go name the 80's movies for us before you leave here for good.

    Reply
  2. Subscribing…

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  3. How do you shut off the audio on the new site. My god that's obnoxious!

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  4. See you on the other side :P

    Reply
  5. You scared me for a second there partner. I've had bloggers up and disappear on me before.

    Reply
  6. I loved the name of this blog though!!! But you know what Jack Burton always says… The Check is in the mail!!!!

    troy

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  7. Maybe pork and sea salt are bad only in the context of RBTI.

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  8. Glad that you're not really pretending to shut down the writing (and mass-debating) addiction: I really didn't believe you would (could?).

    Wise words about context–that's right at the heart of the whole metabolism regulation question, isn't it?

    So interesting to hear some more details about your body comp changes on Ray May vs RBTI July–I'm looking forward to hearing more about why you think that is.

    Are you going to send out word when the new site is live, or will people following this blog automatically have their subscription migrated over to the new site?

    Reply
  9. I agree with this perspective- context is key.

    I think that's why, similar to what Jimmy Moore says about diets, it's important to find a 'context' that helps regain health that works for you. Maybe RBTI is badass for some. But for me, especially where I am geographically at the moment, it seems really tough. I'm a brewer and fermenter, and telling me no go on beer and kombucha and sourdough and not too many fermented veggies- egads. No awesome potluck dinners- what!? And the wannabe gardener in me wants to grow potatoes and eat the hell out of them- they're easy and abundant and calorically dense.

    So, Matt- what's the next adventure? What's the context that maybe doesn't allow everyday dessert, but let's me eat those other important (to me) foods, and still makes headway on health?

    Put another way, what's next on the 180 glory train?

    Oh, and excited for the move. Glad things will get consolidated under the main site. Hurrah!

    Reply
  10. I think individual body chemistry is definitely a huge component of context. For some people there may be a magic bullet (like gluten for celiacs). For whatever reason, following basic RBTI meal patterns was a disaster for me, but I'm already seeing good results from going back to my previous eating patterns and taking a candida-clearing probiotic – and this is after only a week and a half on it. I'm doing accupuncture/TCM, too, which affects the body's chemistry so we'll see how that affects things – the doctor said I have "dampness," which is indicative of yeast. For me, I really do think candida is a major part of the nagging health issues I've had even after fixing my metabolism. And I'll also see what comes up when my hormones get tested.

    None of this has seemed to affect my weight, but the probiotics have sure cleared my skin up fast. I went from numerous pimples a week ago to almost entirely clear skin today. I hope it sticks.

    It's funny how diets can affect different people in different ways. Some people obviously have success with Ray Peat's diet; it never appealed to me. I seem to thrive on the rrarf diet. I still think listening to your body is the key.

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  11. Amy,

    Would you be willing to share what your eating patterns are? It seems like you and I have a lot of similarities. Thanks!

    Reply
  12. @ Amy: thanks for your update :) It will be interesting to see what direction your doctor takes you.

    I found it odd that Matt's new book's subtitle mentions "restoring hormonal health" since I've not found a lot of specific material on this blog that addresses hormones (at least for women). And I've always been curious about TCM's approach, but haven't tried anything out in that direction.

    Reply
  13. Rob A,

    My husband, the brewer, says the same thing. He will follow me into RBTI land only to the point where it disrupts his hobbies. There WILL be brew! ha ha

    Reply
  14. Amy–it's great to hear your update, especially about the skin clearing and generally feeling better. I think re-establishing good gut flora is so important (and not easy)–and I really think Matt has a point about feeding them, as well as taking the probiotic. I've definitely been conscious about trying to eat more 'resistant starch' type stuff to encourage their proliferation.

    Love to hear more about the acupuncture too.

    Reply
  15. I'll keep everyone updated as I progress. Ela, I haven't been doing anything specific in regards to resistant starch, but I have been eating a fair amount of legumes, which I think contain some (not sure). I've definitely been getting a lot of fiber.

    ACN, I'm basically just eating a balanced diet. My breakfast has been something like yogurt (full-fat), toast and fruit. Lunch and dinner are just balanced meals with starch, some protein (meat/fish usually), and veggies (more often cooked than raw), and maybe a piece of fruit if I want it. Eating to appetite. I've mostly been cooking with olive oil as the fat but use butter on toast, etc. I have an afternoon snack of something like yogurt with some toast/crackers/fruit, or maybe just crackers, or some legumes. My starches are mostly unrefined, but not always. The TCM doc said people with dampness should avoid too much dairy and sweets, so the last few days I've been eating less dairy than I was before. Down to just yogurt, which she said was ok. I rarely want dessert, so the sweets thing is not an issue. I drink water whenever I want to, and probably drink a lot. It makes me feel better and has been helping my body with detoxing as the yeast dies off. Sometimes I put lemon in it. I'm planning to up my bone broth intake to help re-mineralize, esp since I don't have as much dairy, but I have not started that yet.

    I've been taking a good multivitamin, maca, vitamin c and sometimes magnesium. Plus a chinese herb supplement now.

    I'm feeling a lot better but still get tired easily. In addition to the skin improvements, the brain fog, blurred vision and blood sugar fluctuations are much better.

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  16. Just curious. A question for Matt or anyone who has purchased the RBTI package. Matt says in this post:
    " – some of the “tricks” of RBTI can easily be harvested an implemented aside from the greater complexity and restriction that comes with following it full Monty (which, as I mentioned in the RBTI Intro Package published 10 days ago, is sometimes very necessary for an ill person in a very weakened condition). "

    My question is, for someone like me who is NOT interested in the following the "full Monty" of the RBTI and just wants to add in a few "tricks" of RBTI, would it make sense to purchase the RBTI package or would this be "overkill"? Does the ebook give any guidelines on which "tricks" one can implement and how to do so? I am reluctant to spend $59 for "the full Monty".

    Will the new book you are working on incorporate some of these "RBTI tricks", Matt? If so, maybe I should hold out for that.

    Thanks!

    Cathy

    Reply
  17. So,

    In the context of calorie restricting (which not eating after 2pm is), you will lose weight…

    Genius.

    Reply
  18. Cathy: The ebook does talk about ways you can implement RBTI piece-meal and reap the benefits. Primarily avoiding the "no" foods and eating on the meal schedule should make a big difference in most people's health.

    Lee:
    I am still consuming the same amount of calories (perhaps even more) than I was prior to the RBTI meal schedule, and am slowly losing weight. In fact, the calories I am consuming are much more carb based than before, which would have normally caused me to pack on the pounds. I don't really think it is the calories so much as the timing. As this post states so well- it is all in the context.
    tm

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  19. Hey Matt,
    Just a comment here on RBTI and hypoglycemia. I bought the whole Eat Stop Eat package from Brad Pilon and am listening currently to Episode 4 "Insulin and Sugar Metabolism". He's talking about how it's scientifically proven fasting does not cause hypoglycemia. People have blood sugar in the normal range even when they are experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms, which leads researchers to believe these symptoms were simply due to the anxiety of not eating.

    This just makes me think of the RBTI facebook page and how people say the refractometer always shows the hypoglycemia, even when the glucose meter does not. That lends credence to the idea that the refractometer is the more powerful tool for, as you put it, carbohydrate available to the body. Who knows exactly what is going on there, but I think I'm going to contact Brad Pilon with this info.

    Reply
  20. Ornery's Wife-

    You say you are eating the same amount of calories, PERHAPS more.

    (So you do not really know? Have you physically tracked calories consumed?)

    You are consuming more carb calories than before, that normally packed on pounds.

    (Plain bananas, rice or potatoes do not pack on the pounds. If you are consuming more carbs, are you eating less fat? Fat calories add up quick. What I have seen, RBTI is generally a low fat diet. Eat a lower fat diet, eat more whole foods, feel just as satiated if not more so (could be confused as believing the calories are just as high), do not eat for 18 hours of the day.

    100% you are eating less calories.

    SO Matt has gone from saying eat as much burgers, hot dawgs, cakes and icecream all day long (or whatever you want), for "health" and metabolism… which incidentally will make most people FAT.

    To now suggesting to eat the burgers and hot dawgs in a tightly controlled morning window, and then to calorie restrict for 18 hours of the day… which incidentally will tend to decrease calorie intake and lose weight.

    It is not magic.

    Sometimes it feels like Matt just wants to find any old excuse to being able to eat all the junk food he desires.

    Reply
  21. @Lee

    It seems Matt only says things to get attention. That is why he flips from one thing to another.

    This is Matt's new attention grabber. And he seems to be riding on someone elses lifetime work and calling it his own doscovery, for the attention.

    What a jerk.

    CandaceK

    Reply
  22. Gosh, CandaceK, you're a real charmer.

    Reply
  23. It seems Candace only says things to get attention. That is why she flips from one thing to another.

    This is Candace's new attention grabber. And she seems to be riding on someone elses lifetime work and calling it her own discovery, for the attention.

    What a skank.

    CandaceK's dog

    Reply
  24. Lee-

    I have mentioned this before, but I am absolutely eating less on RBTI, because I'm not hungry. I have calorie restricted in other ways as well and was ready to eat the ass end of a rhino after 2 weeks, couldn't sleep, and had the sex drive of a marathon runner. I happen to think it's different when it's automatic vs. forced.

    I assure you I am eating to appetite and sometimes even beyond. It was hard work getting 2 Double-Doubles from In n' Out burger down today. I barely had room left for the Vanilla milkshake. Well, it wasn't a whole milkshake. Pee Freelea hogged it all.

    Cathy-

    I'm not trying to be secretive or anything. I just mean drinking small amounts of sweetened liquid every 30-60 minutes throughout the first half of the day, and eating the basic meal schedule.

    Carborama at breakfast, calorie-rama at lunch, and scrawny lil' dinner. My favorite is a small salad and a glass of milk or plain kefir – no meat or sweets after 2pm. No plain water after 5pm.

    I think those are the primary things from RBTI that CAN result in automatic weight loss. It clearly isn't a weight loss diet. There are plenty of squishy long-time RBTI followers. There is a lot more to body composition than just eating a certain diet, schedule, and taking minerals.

    The right physical training, good sleep, high metabolism, food choices, stress level – these are all very crucial to the development and maintenance of a lean body. Obviously.

    If you want the book for cheaper or something because you can't justify the full price, just email me and we'll figure out a fair price. I don't want price to keep anyone from reading it who really wants to read it. I mean that.

    sacredself@gmail.com

    Reply
  25. Ela-

    I may do a short post here when the new site is up. This site is supposed to be redirected to the main 180D.

    Annoying Voice-

    The annoying voice is part of the old site. The new site will have no annoying voices on the landing page.

    Reply
  26. It´s impossible to gain weight on a Ray Peat diet – if you are doing everything right! For example eating a bit liver and keeping bright light the whole day on made a huch difference in health.
    The only hard thing on a Peat diet is that there is no good summary about his diet. You have to collect his advices from many, many websites.

    Reply
  27. I can see how it would help people to stay happy by having that binge day described in the video. That binge day would kill off some older people if the had the bad foods everyday. Foods that are bad for you are doughnuts, ice cream, processed frozen foods, cookies, fried foods, highly acidic sodas, coffee, and rancid high PUFA french fries. IMO you couldn’t eat like that everyday and expect to keep good health. Even to keep good muscle you’d need to eat more complex carbohydrate and far less to little refined sugar. Some raw fruits would be good to have, preferably organic but they can get expensive in higher quantities. I don’t feel good when I eat frozen store bought pizza but it is high in complex carbohydrates. The frankencheese and additives used in store bought pizza is unhealthy but restaurant pizza may be a lot healthier. Sodas are the worst. Getting in enough calories, especially complex carbohydrates, does give great results with exercise and weightlifting. Undereating and overtraining can cause a lot of health problems. I can see sweets being kept to a minimum, but to have some so the person doesn’t end up giving up and overdoing the sweets. I’m in my mid twenties and see feeling decreased health with those foods. It’s easier to eat that way though. When I lifted I ate foods like that and still got excellent lifting/athletic results when I was in my later teens. I was a far more energetic worker when I ate a lot of good tasting food but it was much healthier than those choices when I worked at the casino. They had their own employee buffet with healthy food choices. The food was all pre made their instead of being frozen food. I still ate some unhealthy foods choices like ice cream, beer (after work on weekends), and soda during that period but most of the food I had there was healthy. Self made foods are actually a lot cheaper but do take planning. Easy if you do planning on a regular basis.

    Reply
  28. Hi Matt,
    I just have a quick question, something about your style of writing that is hard for me to understand your point sometimes.

    Are you basically saying it’s not the occasional bowls of ice cream and the bag of m&m’s I ate in the past week, but what time of day I ate them, is what caused me to gain fat? I say “gain fat” because I’m actually down a couple pounds, but I’ve been taking pictures of my fat loss attempts and I “ballooned up” recently, even though I had upped my exercise (rebounding is SO much fun!). the only difference recently has been (“healthy”) m&m’s in the afternoon/early evening and small bowls of ice cream 3 times since last Sat in the evening.

    Thanks,
    Laura

    Reply
    • Yes. I mean, eating ice cream in the evening could be very leaning if you were fasting all day and just did a hard fasted workout right before eating. Who knows? But the context for me was that eating sweets late in the evening caused my body to get fatter, whereas eating them midday and having a light dinner caused me to lose fat. In the 2nd scenario, I ate less and was less hungry and lost fat without paying any attention or making any conscious effort to reduce calories or burn more through exercise. In fact, I stopped exercising completely for the first 7 weeks and lost fat the entire 7 weeks.

      Reply

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