This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

The Ray Peat Critical Review Series has moved elsewhere

I moved the series to a separate blog. The next articles of the series will be posted there. I haven't moved all topics, some posts you already know may reappear later within a larger context. Discussions welcome.

asked Feb 1, 2015 by Bukowski
edited Feb 1, 2015 by Bukowski

based bukowski

thanks Buk!

Rewrote that. I'm not talking about covering the expenses of webhosting of course. I'm talking about all the peatarian nutritionists and personal trainers that pop up recently. Peatarianism is slowly becoming a business. Not saying that's necessarily bad, its just that this development was also seen in the other diet movements as years passed by.

Wow, thanks!


Could you do an article on the "fructose does not cause weight gain" claim common in the Peating community, if you haven't already?

It's covered in some aspects in the "Starch is not more fattening than sugar" article.

Also, it's probably worth distinguishing between fruit and refined sugars:

". . . the majority of the evidence points towards a possible inverse
association between fruit intake and overweight."

"Findings from well-powered prospective cohorts have consistently
shown a significant association, established temporality and
demonstrated a direct dose-response relationship between
[sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption and long-term weight gain and
risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D)."

@Lua I thought this study was interesting:

"Candy consumption was not associated with body weight measures, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or metabolic syndrome in US adults: NHANES 1999-2004"
"Energy (9973 ± 92 vs 9027 ± 50 kJ; P < .0001), saturated fatty acid (27.9 ± 0.26 vs 26.9 ± 0.18 g; P = .0058), and added sugar (25.7 ± 0.42 vs 21.1 ± 0.41 g; P < .0001) intake were higher in candy consumers than nonconsumers. Body mass index (27.7 ± 0.15 vs 28.2 ± 0.12 kg/m(2); P = .0092), waist circumference (92.3 ± 0.34 vs 96.5 ± 0.29 cm; P = .0051), and C-reactive protein (0.40 ± 0.01 vs 0.43 ± 0.01 mg/dL; P = .0487) levels were lower in candy consumers than nonconsumers."

Note that the candy consumers were taking in more calories and yet had a smaller waist circumference.

Several other studies on candy consumption seem to support this finding, in apparent contrast to the data on sugar sweetened beverages.


The subjects in that study all have very low added sugar intake. The average added sugar intake for Americans is 355 calories a day, which is about 89 grams. By comparison, the 25.7 grams of added sugar of the candy eaters in that study is very little.

"The subjects in that study all have very low added sugar intake." That's an annoyingly good point.
Here's a quote from the study:
"The analysis was based on a large, nationally representative sample of the US population." I wonder how the heck they ended up with such a skewed population, then?

Hey all, on the sticking up for Peat theme, how much sugar or starch you consume is not as important as how much you metabolize or don't metabolize (and hence convert to fat).

This is something you don't need studies for! You can tell for yourself simply by measuring your neck and waist (and hips if you're a woman). Increases in neck correlate with lean body mass, and increases in waist or hips correlate with bodyfat.

Leave the studies for the poor misguided souls who haven't even completed bio 101 yet, as far as Peat and Ling are concerned. You are your own best experiment!

Each of us is different. The goal is to metabolize a whole lot more than 98% of the population. Take that sugar and generate CO2 like a champ!

Trying to generalize across populations when the author does not control for metabolic rate (I say again, with all due respect) is utter poppycock! I don't know what poppycock is, but it sounds right!

"Increases in neck correlate with lean body mass." That's very interesting. Is that muscle, bone, or both? Independent of exercises designed to build mass in the neck?

Yes, it correlates to organ, bone and muscle.

It does have a margin for error on absolute percentages, especially on those who are very muscular.

But if you just use it for relative percentages, comparing yourself to yourself over time, it's fine.

I guess the exception would be, as you note, if you are doing neck exercises somehow to isolate and increase the neck. So, maybe don't do that. :)

Can verify, Marshawn has a real fat neck.

enter image description here

I gained several inches on my waist in a very short time after switching to a Peat-inspired diet. My diet was pretty good to begin with (whole foods, gluten-free, only source of pufa was small amount of nuts). When I say I switched to a Peat-inspired diet, I replaced a lot of my calories from meat (I was eating a LOT of meat) with fruit and juice. And I gained 25 pounds of fat super fast. I reduced my overall caloric intake because I replaced a lot of fat with carbs from fruit, yet I still became overweight. So the claim that fructose is protective against weight gain is hard for me to hear. Since increasing fruit basically made me overweight. A year later and this weight won't budge. :(

I hear you. But it's your metabolic rate that's the issue, not the fructose. At your current rate, the excess calories you are eating are being converted to fat. Peat never said you won't get fat if you eat too much!

Do you monitor how many calories you eat, and in what proportions, with or something similar?

The good news is, it should be very easy to take fat off if you carefully count calories and eat nothing but orange juice and nonfat milk and a little bit of coconut oil.

Add as much coffee as you can take, and carrot or activated charcoal to relieve the burden on your liver (and liver once a week).

The pounds will just fall away, as long as you don't break and indulge in tasty treats with starch and fat!

Lua, you were on a zero carb diet, right? I gained a little fat coming to Peat from a ketogenic diet as well. A ketogenic diet is generally pretty catabolic, unless you're really overfeeding.
I also gained a lot of strength/muscle really quickly, so I'm not that unhappy about it. I can tell that my metabolism is slowly increasing. May I ask if you have tried lifting weights?

I did the ketogenic disaster as well. It knocked my metabolic rate down to less than 4% CO2. Barely alive! As you say, if your metabolic rate is that low and you start eating starch, your fat will likely skyrocket.

I was on a zero-carb diet for a year, but I ate a moderate-carb diet (150-200 gm carbs, if I had to guess) for 3 years before coming to Peating. So I didn't go from ketogenic to Peat. I was eating like 3 pieces of fruit and the rest was starch. Now I eat about 300 gm of carbs, with some potatoes everyday and the rest fruit.

I used to be very active, but in the past year I have developed what I think is true chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (this was set into motion a couple months before switching to Peating), and any kind of physical exertion makes me completely exhausted and depleted. Weight training especially makes me exhausted, and not in the "you're out of shape and so your muscles ache" sort of way. On a whole different scale than that. So no, I can't do weight training if I want to be at all functional--like have the energy to buy groceries and prepare food for myself.

"The good news is, it should be very easy to take fat off if you carefully count calories and eat nothing but orange juice and nonfat milk and a little bit of coconut oil. Add as much coffee as you can take, and carrot or activated charcoal to relieve the burden on your liver (and liver once a week)."
I know that these diets work for fat loss, but I find them extremely stressful, and I lose just about all of my muscle mass on such diets. I would recommend against eating this way, especially for women, except for maybe very short periods of time, and only if one is not in a stressful state.

Lua, I don't mean to push it, but I just want to clarify where you're at:
Do you think that you could possibly manage weight training 5 minutes a day? Like three sets of shoulder press alternated with rear dumbbell flies.
Then the next day, squats/lunges for 5 minutes, the day after that 5 minutes of supermans/planks? etc., etc. That's how I got back into weight training when I was so depressed/exhausted that I felt like I couldn't get out of bed, and it made a huge difference for me. I really can't stress how much difference 5 or 8 minute sessions can make. There are even exercise tapes devoted to such programs, and they often have a countdown timer, which is very motivating.

Every time I try weight training, even just 10 leg lifts, I feel incapacitated. Really. This is what CFS/ME is. Exercise makes people with this condition worse, not better. It has nothing to do with motivation or willpower or laziness or lack of desire to exercise.

Bukowski, sorry to hijack your post.

Lua, how long have you been avoiding PUFAs before starting the high fruit diet?

I've avoided vegetable oils for the past 10 years. Prior to Peat, I was eating a handful of nuts a day. Total pufa avoidance (since switching to Peating) has been 11 months.

I see. That's not the problem then. I would eat more saturated fats if I couldn't process sugar. Maybe good (soft) cheese.

@kapow, muscle mass should be conserved when you're getting enough nonfat milk. The problem is, you may need more milk than you realize, maybe a half gallon a day, or more depending on how large or active you are.

The diet should not be stressful if you set a timer and remind yourself to eat/drink every couple hours or so.

1 Teaspoon of MCT oil I think could help with weight loss. Taking a lot can cause diarrhea. Up to a tablespoon a day can be helpful. More than that doesn't bring an additional effect.

@lua, Here are Peat's remarks on chronic fatigue:

The short explanation is fatigue is caused by intracellular swelling.

The recommendation is CO2/bicarbonate, salt, magnesium, calcium, and potassium in relatively higher doses.

Magnesium and bicarbonate are the hardest to supplement because they are not easily digested in higher doses. The magnesium bicarbonate water is an easily digested form of both.

Recipe here:

Also, with more bag breathing for CO2, the fatigue should improve.

@Anon, MCT oil, plus 1!

VOS, thanks for the ideas. Unfortunately, I've tried all those at higher doses, including mag bicarb water, and have noticed no difference.

@Lua, then you might want to add sun (or a UV-B lamp) and Vitamin K2-MK4. You can beat chronic fatigue, if you can find a way to get your bicarbonate balance back! Rapid breathing and trouble sleeping drain your bicarbonates and become a self-perpetuating cycle.

I worked my way up to a pint of magnesium bicarbonate water a day. Along with 18 teaspoons of instant coffee, that makes about 2 grams of magnesium I'm digesting and using.

To give the overburdened liver a break, try raw carrot or activated charcoal if you have digestive issues.

"Kapow, muscle mass should be conserved when you're getting enough nonfat milk. The problem is, you may need more milk than you realize, maybe a half gallon a day, or more depending on how large or active you are."
Vision, I don't want to hijack this thread either, but I think I should respond to this particular point. I have a long history of restricted calorie eating, and I don't have difficulty sticking to strict diets, as long as they work the way they are intended. I have tried almost the exact protocol you describe (with slight variations) three different times for about 2 weeks at a time. (The main difference was that I ate shellfish and greens in lieu of liver). I believe that I have lost at least 2.5 lbs of muscle for every 1lb of fat each time, and I don't build muscle easily. (I have read estimates that a woman might hope to gain about 5 lbs of muscle in her first year of training, and much less each succeeding year. That has been my experience).

Long story slightly shortened: I have been under extreme stress and even more extreme insomnia for several years now, and I think that's what causes me to lose much more muscle than fat when I try to underfeed. I don't think it's a good idea for women, especially, to allow hard-earned muscle to evaporate. If I were a man, I think I would just bite the bullet and get rid of my 8 pounds of fat in a few weeks, knowing that it might take me a few months to build my muscle back. However, a total of 6 weeks of restrictive eating (at about 1000 calories/day) has enabled me to lose about 3 lbs of fat, while it has taken 2 years or so of muscle gains. That just doesn't seem acceptable/healthy to me.

Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity

"Sleep curtailment decreased the proportion of weight lost as fat by 55% (1.4 vs. 0.6 kg with 8.5 vs. 5.5 hours of sleep opportunity, respectively; P = 0.043) and increased the loss of fat-free body mass by 60% (1.5 vs. 2.4 kg; P = 0.002)." So, for the sleep deprived, 2 weeks of caloric restriction resulted in .6 kg of lost fat, and 80% of weight lost was fat free mass. (And for me, 5.5 hours of sleep would be heaven). :-)

Anyway, I'm well aware that my case is unique, but I just wrote this to suggest that dietary protocols that seem like they "should" work might sometimes end up doing more damage to the more vulnerable among us (and women can be more profoundly affected for the reasons cited).

"The good news is, it should be very easy to take fat off if you carefully count calories and eat nothing but orange juice and nonfat milk and a little bit of coconut oil."

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What a miserable way to live. Eating only skim milk, oj, and some coconut oil while carefully counting calories.

Kapow 100%

@kapow, this is really fascinating. I'd like to learn more. How do you know you are losing muscle? What are you measuring?

When you say 1,000 calories, almost the exact same diet, what was the proportion of OJ to milk? How much coconut oil?

Sleep and stress are critically important, regardless of what you eat. But they are not worsened by this diet, and if anything, improved. The problem may be that if you are metabolizing substantially more than 1,000 calories in a day, then sleep and stress are going to suffer.

The trick is to eat roughly about what you metabolize, so that you don't lose muscle mass, and sleep and stress are not a problem. When you achieve this, lean body mass actually increases, and fat, especially as a percentage, decreases. But if you starve yourself, you'll lose lean body mass, not just muscle but bone and even organ mass.

That's why I suggest tape measuring and counting calories precisely. You really need to know what you are metabolizing, so that you can be sure you are not starving, losing muscle mass, and suffering, as you say, from sleep deprivation and stress.

@Weed and PUFAs, Lua, I've heard others say that milk and OJ are an unpleasing diet, to which I can only say, even the slightest bit of bad health is far worse, and there are entire continents of people who wish they were so incredibly lucky as to afford milk and OJ and honey. Milk and honey is the food of opulence in the promised land.

Context is everything.

I don't care about palatability as much as health. My point was that these peaty hacks you mention don't work for everyone. They haven't for me.

Well, if I were there with you Lua, I could help you more. But since I'm not, I can only ask you to do these truly profound life-changing "hacks" faithfully, day in and day out.

I can tell you as someone who does try to do this faithfully, it's not all that easy for me. The world is a very mad place and there is a lot of pressure in the media and the public, no less from corrupt studies by paid hacks, to think and act against your own self-interest.

Okay, I definitely didn't want to make this thread about me, but perhaps it's only fair that I try to answer some of your questions. :-)
I take a lot of supplements on and off, and coconut oil is one of them. I'm not that regimented about these things, but I can safely say that I took about 1 tablespoon most days. The reason for keeping calories below about 1000 is that I find that I can maintain my weight at about 1600-1800 calories. If I eat about 1300 calories, I get cold and hungry, but don't see any weight loss. Only when I get down to about 1000-1100 calories do I begin to see catabolic action.
I don't have strict number for milk/OJ. I just usually try to get at least 80-90 grams of protein when I am restricting calories, from lowfat cottage cheese/nonfat milk and small amounts of shellfish with greens. The OJ is used when desired, a few ounces at a time. I've also eat green apples and very small amounts of other fruit/vegetables. I switched things up slightly with each try, but this is what I did most consistently.
I measured my waist. I also obsessively used one of those body fat analyzers at the gym, and occasionally used one at home. (I know that they are not that precise, but I have found them okay for showing general trends). I know that I lost strength. And I know what it feels like to have firm bits leaving my body, as opposed to the squishy ones. :-)
Perhaps I should add that I was also lactating, but only slightly. I can almost hear you say, "AHA!!!"

Yes, I could see that you'll lose lean body mass eating 60% of your metabolic rate. I've read that this is what bodybuilders do when cutting, and they lose body mass. Are you a bodybuilder?

If you're not losing a pound of fat a week when eating 1600 calories, then is it possible you don't have much fat to lose, maybe? I hit a plateau myself, and stop losing fat at about 22 pounds of bodyfat. It seems like I just don't lose any more fat after that. Unless if I were to starve myself, of course. For my roughly 155 pounds of lean body mass, 22 pounds of bodyfat calculates to be 10-12% bodyfat.

And for a woman of average build, I would guess the plateau could come at 20-22% bodyfat, or maybe higher, depending on your age?

I'm not a bodybuilder, exactly. And to be honest, I don't think that I have an ounce of unhealthily excess fat (I carry most all of my fat in my legs). But I do want have some more muscle and less fat, because I want to be able to do things like pullups, for example. Or hop over fences when I'm 70. Or fit into the clothes I wore before my 3 year old was conceived. Things like that. :-)
But again, this isn't about my particular situation. My point is that there are a lot of variables (known and unknown) that might make any particular set of recommendations totally unworkable for any one particular person. (And I'm sure the people in that sleep study were consuming more than 1000 calories, anyway).
By the way Lua, if you happen to be reading this, I NEVER meant to imply that you lack the willpower/motivation to exercise. I just wanted to make sure that you didn't equate exercise with having to do 40+ minute sessions.

Kapow, thanks for clarifying. I felt the need to specify why I can't exercise, because most people assume it's from laziness or lack of desire. It can be hard for people to understand how exhausted someone with CFS can get from only a couple minutes of exercise, or from everyday activities.

4 Answers

Sorry you had to leave peatarian with this. I don't think the comments you got were all that bad, compared to the abuse you would get on the rayppeatforum, and then you would be banned (again)!

I mean, if Bruno were to start moderating comments that he feels are abusive, it's a short slippery slope to moderating you and me!

BTW, there doesn't seem to be any way to make a comment on your blogspot blog without authenticating with a social media ID, which typically limits comments both good and bad.

[Edit: Actually, I'm wrong about that last part. I see there is an Anonym option at the bottom of the list of options. I posted an anonymous comment and got the message "Ihr Kommentar wird nach der Freigabe sichtbar." I think that means the comment will appear after approval, or something like that?]

answered Feb 2, 2015 by visionofstrength
edited Feb 2, 2015 by visionofstrength

11 upvotes as of this comment. I'm hoping Bukowski realizes how overwhelmingly popular the review series is over here and brings it back. :-)

Thanks, yes I enabled moderation for now to get a grip on how many spam comments are made.

Thanks for the work you put into this.

It would be interesting to know how you put those things into practice?
How does your current diet/lifestyle look like?

answered Feb 2, 2015 by skally

Back to the average good old self. Starch-based main meals with a bit of everything, from milk to fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, fish.

You can't beat traditional old school. It feels right on a deep level and works like a charm with even just a little (but mandatory) exercise and sun.

Yeah sounds like my diet too. I feel that any diet fad which is radically separate from what our ancestors have developed will only work for a few people of many. Seems like it's those few that are most vocal about it though.

Well, B's not saying everyone should do traditional old school. Maybe it's for you if you are already a "healthy human", as B likes to say.

I actually don't know any "healthy humans". By that I mean, an alveolar CO2 rate of at least 6%, but preferably higher. I suspect that at least two out of three here are not healthy either, by that standard.

Hey, it's not our fault! Everybody is suffering the effects of lifelong exposure to estrogen and other hidden contaminants.

For those who are trying to recover from that damage, increase metabolic rate, lose fat, and enhance physical and mental performance, you might want to try something that our ancestors could not afford - optimal nutrition.

You understand me correct VoS and I actually really respect your adventurous experimentation with the limits of Peat's ideas. I do think that there is some potential for folks like you to discover the most practical ways of using them for helping people who are in a very damaged state to get them back to better function--breaking it down into a simple protocol that eventually could be accepted and used in hospitals or in bed ridden people recovering from serious body damage and malfunction. Complete with some kind of redlight/CO2 regeneration setup. Something that could be made into an affordable treatment for even the poor. How cool would that be?!

I'm just saying that if you are already functioning reasonably well a diet and lifestyle that is intuitive with mostly whole foods can't be beat in terms of practicality and enjoyment of cultural variety while likely giving very satisfactory health results.

That would be cool. We could use all the help we can get there Bri-man, so please keep those peaty ideas coming!

Thanks for putting your time into writing up these critiques, they're very helpful.

I'm curious to know what aspects of Peat's work you agree with, or believe are mostly correct. Things like limiting PUFA in the diet and consuming adequate carbohydrate are not particularly controversial. But do you think he is generally correct in recommending a close calcium to phosphate ratio? Do you agree with recommendations such as limiting muscle meat on account of the tryptophan, and are his views on serotonin (that it is an inflammatory mediator of stress) something that should be taken seriously?

answered Feb 3, 2015 by tesabi

not just tryptophan, cysteine and methionine as well.

True. But I would say restricting tryptophan is kind of 'core' Peat, in that he's kind of alone in advocating its restriction. Others such as Denise Minger and Mark Sisson recommend balancing out muscle meat with gelatin as the high glycine content ameliorates the effects of methionine, but they don't seem to have much to say about tryptophan.

Those are good questions. I have not read up enough to have a clearcut opinion.

Just regarding tryptophan, I dont think his recommendations make sense: He is recommending a consumption of a very tryptophan rich food (milk), which has even less glycine and anti-inflammatory amino acids in it than muscle meat itself. If you drink 1-2 liters of milk a day plus some low fat cheese, your tryptophan load is tremendous. He mentioned that the calcium "would steer the tryptophan away from serotonin pathway", but did not present a study in support of that. That would also mean we could just continue eating meat, but add a calcium supplement and all tryptophan goes into the good-guy-hormone pathways. It all sounds dubious to me.

My guess is that Peat likes milk because it's one of the best sources of calcium. The benefits of a high calcium intake might outweigh the potential problems with tryptophan. You could consume calcium from cheese lower in tryptophan up to a point, but then you lose a source of liquid, and that might be enough to trigger constipation. Cheeses often have additives, you can't put coffee and sugar to cheese, and it's more expensive or time consuming to make. So milk is hard to replace and consuming it has an overall positive effect.

Beef protein is 0.5% tryptophan. Milk 2%, and some cheeses 1%. Once you consumed enough calcium, I assume consuming gelatin is better than consuming more milk if the objective is to reduce the effects of tryptophan.

Ok but then you have to know when trypto is bad. Peat says that conversion to serotonin is metabolism if you drink milk and crypto...but are you get any side effect?

Intuitively, it can't always be bad. It's in milk. I know adults are different from babies, but still I think it should give some intuition. I wouldn't avoid milk just because it has higher crypto content.

Charles, please do a RPCRS on evidence that the liver needs protein to function well, specifically 80-100 plus grams daily, that is specific to liver function.

answered Feb 3, 2015 by Westside PUFAs

Good point, yes I was meaning to write about that, but maybe Dewitt can also chime in. He wrote about the problems of very high protein intake previously.

A study shows that the liver stores more vitamin A when the protein intake is higher.

If you need to convince yourself that a diet of beans low in protein and vitamin A is good for you, Bukowski might help you become convinced with an article (if you suspend rationality for a moment).

i don't just eat beans. the old white man you jerk off to daily said that potatoes have a higher quality of protein than eggs in an audio interview. i eat more potatoes than i do beans. i also eat eggs and occasional red meats but trying to find non hormone injected red meats but limiting those for try methi and cyst restriction. i also added raw gf skim milk back in my diet. a half of a half gallon a day seems good.

"old white man" what is this obsession with race. how is it relevant unless you're a racist.

I prefer "ethnicitist."

Peat said in an interview how when they fed rats a diet high in beans and soluble fermentable fiber, they became anxious and aggressive and quick to attack because of all the fermentation

here you have a clear example of that translating...mcdougall is also highly anxious and has a veiled but obvious aggression

pboy keep smoking tobacco, and keep being a fat texan. rats are not humans.

LOL, im 130 pounds man, im like the opposite of fat. I know rats aren't humans but im just pointing that out for your sake. Like from my perspective, and im sure a lot of people on here, you are extremely aggressive in a silly non constructive way. I swear man I used to be a vegan so I know the difference totally, it will change your perspective when you aren't being constantly hit from inside your gut

im not vegan