Gorillas shed pounds by doubling calories

Some interesting research coming out of Case Western:

How long until we see similar findings in humans? There’s a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that a strategy like this works, but it’s now only a matter of time until the researchers start looking at it.

How do we go about foraging?

By eating small, mostly vegetable snacks throughout the day?

I see a business opportunity here. We take all those bookstores that are closing and turn them into chain “Foraging stations”. You pay your money, and you get to go into the store and search for food, which will be hidden inside specially-shaped and designed puzzle boxes that you must solve in order to get the food inside. You have a limited amount of time (you pay by the minute, or something), and if you don’t solve the puzzle, you get nothing – including no money back. But if you solve a particularly hard puzzle you may get pate de fois gras with Dom Perignon (or whatever is appropriate for you).
Multiple persons can work on a puzzle, but the amount of food is fixed, so they either have to share, or else have Challenge Display face-offs to decide the winner.

There’s no way you’re going to get twice as many calories out of that.

There’s also no way anyone is going to want to spend 60% of their day eating roughage, just to drop some weight.

This is gorillas. They don’t have that much else to do in a zoo except eat, poop, play, sleep and have sex. They don’t have to make a living, they don’t have to drive the kids to band practice, they don’t have a honeydew list, or any of that stuff. I really don’t see how this is at all applicable.

Unfortunately, the takeaway headline is going to be the one you wrote, about losing weight by consuming twice as many calories, without any of the background or context. Not a particularly good message.

The big missing variable here is metabolism. I would guess that the gorilla’s metabolism is much higher when he’s actively foraging instead of stuffing his face and then taking a nap. Not just because of the extra calories burned in the exertion of foraging, but because his body needs to be in a higher energy state. For instance, his body is putting extra energy into making his muscles strong because it knows he’ll need to be moving around. If he’s just taking a nap all day, the body just lets the muscles stay flabby.

Back when he was eating a bucket of slop a day, I doubt they’d see the same results if they gave him two buckets.

And spending 50 to 60% of our time doing it. Breakfast, 7:00 to 10:30, Lunch 11:00 to 3:30 and Dinner 4:30 to 9:00 would about do it. That would leave one and a half hours for work. On second thought, I like it.

The calorie aspect is not the most interesting or even most significant portion of this report. This is: Gone is the bucketful of vitamin-rich, high-sugar and high-starch foods that zoos used for decades to ensure gorillas received enough nutrients.

They don’t feed the gorillas sugar and starch anymore. They don’t feed them a bunch of harmful carbs. The gorillas make up for this by eating the diet they’re supposed to be eating that’s not rich in sugar and starch (carbs) by upping their calories. Which all gets used instead of being stored as fat. So yes, I hope more humans do start eating this way.

It’s long been my belief that the key to health and a normal weight is a biologically appropriate diet (and lifestyle to a lesser extent). Zoos all over the country have been making huge progress here, with dramatically positive results. Humanity is traveling ever-farther away from it.

I don’t find it difficult to approximate a hunter-gatherer/pastorialist diet each day (it’s essential to cook, and pack my lunch). I do not eat frequently and I certainly don’t eat mostly vegetables by bulk! I feel better by far than I ever have in my life (some chronic problems have disappeared entirely), eating this way.

I also feed my two dogs and two cats a biologically appropriate diet (raw animals) and it’s been amazing for them.

Actually, I ran into an interesting analysis of the conversion of the macronutrient ratios in the gut of the gorilla. In the wild, the intake ratios look like this:

Fat: about 6%
Available carbohydrate: about 37%
Protein: about 57%

However, after conversion of the carbs into fatty acids in the gut, the ratios are more like this:

Fat: 60%
Carb: 16%
Protein: 24%

(Barry Groves referencing a Journal of Nutrition study)

Totally appropriate diet for them, not so much for us. Good on the zoo for getting them off the sugar and starch. Maybe the human health authorities will get a clue.

The way we calculate calories is one thing, but we need to take into consideration whether the frigging body is digesting/converting/absorbing all those calories.

The 300 calories from veggies is probably never converted and used as a full 300 calories.

300 calories from simple sugars or other refined foods is probably being fully absorbed and used completely, fast and, to make matters worse, drops you on your ass when your sugar and/or insulin levels are thrown off track, which compounds the issue.

Foraging brings in a bunch of raw things that – without a doubt to me – don’t provide all the calories for which groups such as the FDA would calculate. Yeah, they estimate the gorillas boosted their caloric intake, but I say the full caloric potential of raw foods is much lower than any USDA rating.

Oh, this heaping of raw spinach is rated at 150 calories? Oh, this small candy bar is rated at 150 calories? I doubt our bodies, and the gorillas’ bodies, are getting what the FDA says we are out of both.

This is in direct contrast to the man last year who lost weight by reducing his calories, but mostly eating junk food. Not that it is a recommended diet, but an experiment he conducted.

Angel of Doubt, I’ve lost 18 pounds since mid-December eating pretty much exactly your second breakdown.

Here’s an average day for me:

Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs, 4-6 slices of bacon.
Lunch: Big salad with olive oil vinaigrette and lots of meat-based protein.
Dinner: Hunk of meat, side of veggies.

If I need to snack, I’ll grab a handful of almonds. If I need sweets, fruit or a small bit of dark chocolate. If I drink, it’s red wine. I don’t measure, I’m never hungry, and I have more energy and feel better. I’ve lost weight and my pants are falling off. I haven’t exercised a bit. My husband has lost 50 pounds doing the exact same thing.

Here’s a good collection of links about it: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/

I don’t quite understand why you’re saying this. 300 cals is 300 cals. This is like saying a pound of spinach weighs less than a pound of candy.

Raw foods have a certain caloric potential that is not fully realized. In setting the ‘calorie’ total for something like beans, it’s done in a lab by burning them.

You ingest what has been set as 200 calories of beans, and your body makes use of 100 calories, the rest are passed without absorption/use. Contrast this with eating 200 calories of refined sugar, and it’s likely that body is absorbing all 200 calories.


The 300 calories in beans is locked in fiber and other material. Your body has to work to get at those 300 calories. Even if can access 100% of the calories, it takes some amount of calorie energy to unlock them. Compare that to 300 calories of sugar. Your body doesn’t have to work at all to get at those calories. It can do 0 work to get 100% of the calories.

It’s like having $100 inside a locked safe vs lying on the ground. You have to use a lot more resources to unlock the safe compared to just picking up $100 from the ground.

There is some evidence that cooked and refined foods return high rates of calories vs. uncooked versions. Cook a potato or some meat and your body will realize more of the caloric potential of that food item. Eat some raw stuff and your body cannot extract all the energy from the food that it might be rated for.

Biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham is a professor at Harvard University and an author on the subject, and you can Google him and maybe consider his book. I’ve read a ton of other stuff, but recall his name.

Where we at here? MPSIMS? Look, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that there are several things to keep in mind when it comes to calories:

>the FDA calorie count doesn’t necessarily imply your body is going to tap all 150 calories from a banana that is estimated to have 150 calories.

>cooking meat: there is some good evidence that cooked meat reveals more of its calorie potential to the body. Even tenderizing meat lets the body get at more calories

>raw foods require extra energy to break down (a nice perk), but the biggest benefit is that good chunks of raw foods are never broken down.

>refined foods are even easier to process/absorb than cooked food!


Oh, yes, absolutely, you’re right. I should have added that humans have to obtain sufficient SFAs from animal fat, etc. Unclear post, no?

Primal Blueprint! Just bought it, gotta read it…18 lbs is very good.:slight_smile:

Did this skew your cholesterol much, or do you know?

Morganstern, I personally haven’t been tested, although my cholesterol has always been steady in good ranges regardless of my weight (good genes, I guess). But the website I linked to above links to some studies regarding cholesterol. This is sort of a primer.