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Dhruv Makwana

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Before I reply, I'd like to acknowledge that my original comment from 3 months ago, much before our recent, cordial and respectful exchange elsewhere on this post, was probably a 6-6.5/10 in terms of tone and clarity, and could have been made more conducive to discussion: sorry. 

I'd also like to say upfront that I am very reluctantly spending 150+ minutes getting nerdsniped into writing this comment during a week when I'm aiming to address a sleep deficit, and as I said in my other comment, "For the sake of my time, this should hopefully be my last comment on this post.", but this time for real.

I realise making a point and walking away can come off frustrating/rude, but that's not my intention here, it's just self-preservation. If that's objectionable, you may ignore the rest of this comment.

But to your basic point - my point is not that "people are wrong about their feelings of hunger" (which off the top of my head, and my experience, I think they can be - for example mistaking stress/discomfort/boredom for hunger - but this is besides the point). 

My point is about the primary attribution of the cause of the subjective feeling of hunger to a not easily perceptible thing such as protein. My intuition comes from subjective wellbeing (e.g. Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert) and also perception/embodied cognition research (e.g. rubber hand illusion). The attribution is an empirical claim, and that's what I was (very poorly) getting at.

As part of this empirical attribution, there's two different concepts at play here: satiation and satiety (yes, silly naming). Satiation is how much of food can be consumed in one sitting. Satiety is how much a given food will delay or decrease calorie intake in the next meal.

From the post:

But there isn’t a satisfying plant product that is as rich in as many things as meat, dairy, and especially eggs. 

But there isn’t a satisfying plant product that is as rich in as many things as meat, dairy, and especially eggs. Every “what about X?” has an answer, but if you add up all the foods you would need to meet every need, for people who aren’t gifted at digestion, it’s far too many calories and still fairly restrictive.

From the comment:

Because protein is the hardest and most valuable macronutrient for most diets, and because it's correlated with the subset of vitamins that's richer in meat sources.

It looks like there's two aspects to this: (a) judging plants using meat as the standard (b) an implicit assumption that protein is (b) important, (c) especially "satisfying"-ness, i.e. satiation and satiety. 

[Tangent: I think others have pointed out that (a) is a little unfair - meat doesn't have many health promoting things like Vit C, fibre, antioxidants, easier to regulate absorption of nutrients, lack of cholesterol, less saturated fat etc.]

In response to (b) the first video about the very low protein requirement for humans I think covers the major aspects (babies need the most protein and human breast milk is 1% protein by weight, 5-7% by calories, adults need around 0.8g/kg of body-weight, maximum up to 1.5-1.8g/kg for strength training etc).

In response to (c), a whole host of other factors influence satiation and satiety (as mentioned in video 2 and elsewhere[1]).

  • Calorie density, influenced mostly by lack of fats and increased water. Quoting Dr. Greger, "When dozens of common foods, pitted head-to-head for for their ability to satiate appetites for hours, the characteristic most predictive was not how little fat or how much protein it had, but how much water it had." (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7498104/). Whole fresh fruit & veg generally fall in at < 100 calories per cup, whereas meats are 300-600 calories per cup.
  •  Fibre. Fibre limits the absorption of calories, meaning that you can eat more but still absorb the same amount of calories.
  • Absorbability. Conversely, processing (e.g. turning peanuts into peanut butter) separates the peanut's calories from the fibrous cell walls and thus making it more vastly more absorbable. Animal product do not have a fibrous cell walls, meaning they are absorbable off the bat. This means lower satiation per calorie - you eat more calories in a stomach full.
  • Thylakoids. The thing that makes leaves green slows down fat absorption in the gut. Slowing down fat absorption means that un-absorbed calories can reach the end of the intestine (ileum). When this is detected, appetite is decreased dramatically.
  • Hardness of food. Same food, presented hard or soft (e.g. carrots) leads to fewer calories being consumed but no extra calories as compensation in the next meal.

To be clear, I am willing to grant the premise that "protein > carb > fat" in terms of satiation. But this would not be the end of the matter, because cardinality matters too. I don't want to spend an hour digging for numbers at this stage, but I can illustrate what I mean with an example:

  • Chicken/beef roughly 45% calories from protein (rest from fat).
  • Chickpeas roughly 22% calories from protein (rest from carbs incl. fibre).
  • Dry soya chunks rougly 57% calories from protein (rest from carbs incl. fibre).

Based only on macros (let's say you blitzed the chickpeas into ultra fine hummus and equalised the water content), which of these is going to be more satisfying is going to depend on the ratio of how much less satisfying carbs and fat are (per calorie) compared to protein. And it's not clear to me based solely on protein being most important that meat has a slam dunk advantage here.

Anyways, as I said in the other comment, I'm going to signpost Chris MacAskill as a source of information and potential collaborator. Toodles!

  1. ^

    Chris MacAskill's https://youtu.be/zOAapJo9cE0?feature=shared high-protein, animal keto vs low-fat, plant-based diet especially the section on satiety vs satiation, which is the source of my information in this comment.

Thanks for your comment and clarifying, I appreciate the effort, I realise it is difficult to converse about these things whilst retaining respect and sanity.

This RCT came to mind not because it meets all your criteria, but because I thought it was relevant (especially non-monetary costs, i.e. quality of life) to the criteria you set out, modulo multiple months rather than years. It also I think alleviates some concerns about unfeasibility you think vegan diets.

"ideal study is a longitudinal RCT where diet is randomly assigned, cost (across all dimensions, not just money) is held constant, and participants are studied over multiple years to track cumulative effects."

I didn't mean to suggest this study implies that a WFPB diet is healthier than (for example) WFPB+(Fish 2/week). I don't think that sort of question is resolvable on the current evidence either way.

I am sorry I was not clearer about what the video links were saying - I didn't mean to imply about high meat vs vegan etc. I linked the first one to signpost a scientist who does tightly controlled experimentals setups (perhaps too tersely) but not specifically on WFPB vs WFPB+(Fish 2/week).

The next 3 were about epidemiological evidence that reducing meat consumption follows a strong dose response relationship. While we can't rule out there could be an uptick in negative outcomes at eliminating, agnosticism seems like the right call.

I don't take the war as reason to blanket trust nutrition research (or blanket doubt) either, but to be suspicious of conclusions that favour industry and look to a few well done studies and well-respected researchers that have stood the test of time.

Thank you for writing this and if it's any help, your article is what prompted me to eventually find Plant Chompers and soften to your position to my current agnosticism about the optimality of WFPB vs WFPB+(Fish 2/week). While I do have concerns about some of your baselines assumptions (see initial comment), I think it's admirable to spend hours on each paper. You might find it beneficial to reach out to Chris Macaskill and collaborate on this projects with him - I suspect he's got much more time and knowledge than me!

For the sake of my time, this should hopefully be my last comment on this post. Apologies for misleading or inconveniencing you in any way.

I don't understand really what "confidence level in the RCT" means? The main shortcoming is that it's an education based intervention, not a strict "lock them up in a hospital and give them precisely calculated meals" (see Kevin Hall's NIH experiments for something like that https://youtu.be/zOAapJo9cE0?feature=shared ). The second is the small sample size.

However I'd also like to point out that for something like diet, you need both long-term epidemiology and short-term RCTs. Throwing out epidemiology is throwing out the way we figured out smoking was super bad for your health.

For further details, please see

https://youtu.be/S8Pm-m87sEc?feature=shared starting 11:20

https://youtu.be/POhkKgBeA1A?feature=shared starting 20:39

https://youtu.be/nnyzuY-Xwe4?feature=shared starting 23:03

I have come to the conclusion that Nutrition Research is actually doing fine as a field and food companies have used the same playbook to confuse us as the fossil fuel companies did to confuse people about climate change (see Marion Nestle's work, summary here https://youtu.be/a7SprgZTK2o?feature=shared starting 8:39)

Lars Doucet! He's a winner of an ACX Book Review Contest based on his review of 19th century economist Henry George's works on economic incentives for fair natural resource allocation. A stable society makes every x-risk much more tractable 😉

https://www.gameofrent.com/

Newer ones come with silicone gaskets which don't crack as easily (and these are easily replaced in any case) and if the valve gets blocked there's an analgoue release valve which is designed to pop first (search for "pressure cooker safety relief valve" to see), which is also replaceable.

So the worst case is actually "user didn't wait for steam to emerge before putting on the weight, AND the valve gets blocked, AND the safety valve was replaced with a bad one" and then it explodes.

The additional handful of steps (lock in lid, wait for steam, place weight, and then after cooking unlock lid, check valve is clear) is definitely worth the time and energy savings.

Nutrition science is actually doing just fine (quality research has been consistent and stood the test of time) and pervasive distrust is due to a massive disinformation compaign by beef industry. Evidence? See youtube.com/@PlantChompers

Don't be put off by the name - watch any video and see Chris Macaskill's love of reference checking, breaking down complex concepts, taking a wider perspective on nutrition history,and entertaining story telling. I used to think the research was all shoddy too - now I see exactly where that comes from, and the harm that uncautios skepticism can bring.

I am somewhat concerned and confused about the Arnold Foundation's involvement in nutrition research. Whilst it looks like they were on the right track with psychology, by working with actual leading scientists in the field, for nutrition they worked with journalists, and it looks a lot like a disinformation campaign akin to what fossil fuel companies did with climate change.

E.g. funding Nina Teicholz https://youtu.be/OkqWdY5_2-8

And from the sounds of this piece Gary Taubbes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtLNHvC4aUw

Also for those interested, this is a piece on the dowmfall of the Nutrition Science Initiative: https://www.wired.com/story/how-a-dollar40-million-nutrition-science-crusade-fell-apart/

Potential extension project: how would using pressure cookers (not fancy instant pots, a regular old analogue one) affect the calculations? My intuition is that the cost of the cooker, ensuring safety standards are met, should be outweighed by the lifetime fuel and time saved.

Background: I was born in India and raised in the UK (my parents were born and raised in India). At least based on my Gujarati family in India (PS. a bunch of Gujaratis (were) moved over to Uganda and Kenya during colonial times...) soaking beans is slam dunk, but so is using a pressure cooker, which in my experience more than halves the time for cooking beans (one of my favourite investments in the past few years).

PS: Modern pressure cookers have an analogue safety mechanism to prevent exploding. The main downside is that after a few years of use the pressure doesn't build up quite so much since the heat and pressure affects the shape of the vessel.

Hello, thank you for writing and sharing this. I read the summary, but since I'm not a full-time paid animal advocate, don't have the bandwidth to engage with the full report beyond skimming over key sections and doing a few keyword searches.

In that spirit, I wanted to ask about a couple of questions about your estimates/methodology for California Prop 2 (since I looked into it once before, and have some familiarity with it)

1a. (How) Did you take into account the reduction in flock sizes (to think about lives of suffering averted)?
1b. If so (how) did you separate out the effects of avian flu-outbreak that happened at the same time as Prop 2 came into force?
2. (How) did you take into account effects on out-of-California producer effects to comply with the regulations?

PS. Whilst reading the full report, I was struck by use of lots of equations, and started to wonder (as a programmer) if for explaining the modelling and calculations, perhaps sharing code used for the calculation would be better than sharing than the algorithm in natural text form? i.e. if I were a paid full-time researcher the first thing I'd do is work through the report, write up the methods and inputs in code and see if I could reproduce the given numbers (and then start varying assumptions/modelling/inputs).

I think emphasising protein is totally the wrong track, since it's just not that important (and also if you're getting enough calories near impossible to have a deficiency in)

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-great-protein-fiasco/

I also think your general model of "satisfying" is built off of myths which just are not supported by the evidence

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/evidence-based-weight-loss-live-presentation/

See especially 38:41 where he talks about a review with meat industry funding

"In general, these data confirm a modest satiety effect with protein-rich meals but do not support an effect on energy intake at the next eating occasion."

Lastly your omission of leafy greens is suspicious - from memory spinach has about 40% of its calories from protein, and (dry) soya chunks/mince around 66%, far exceeding most animal products (due to fat), and legumes.

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