Energy and Structure: Stress testing your physiology

This post stems from a question on Discord about why I’ve moved away from drinking milk (and if you haven’t joined my Discord server, please do, there are a lot of smart people on there with lots of different experiences).

This is going to be a bit all over.

Most of the benefits of milk are from the milkfat and some of the more exotic lipids contained in the milkfat.

The galactose is beneficial in certain contexts because over the long term if your cells have a diabetic like phenotype or a hypoxic phenotype (dare I say they are basically the same thing), galactose will shift the cell state to increase OXPHOS increasing ATP and oxygen consumption, glucose doesn’t seem to be able to shift the cell metabolic phenotype in a positive direction except to maintain whatever state the mitochondria are in and potentially worsen it if cells are in an already diabetic like phenotype and glucose isn’t being directed properly. Fructose definitely can in the right contexts.

Glucose is not a good metabolic substrate to rely on predominately if you are an organism that relies on palmitic acid driven OXPHOS and like to breathe oxygen; and I would distinguish between a basal and peripheral metabolism here. From my experiences you can have quite a bit of potatoes and still have room to breathe.

It’s important to note that acute exposure to galactose will not cause this shift, cells have to be exposed chronically (environmentally) for the shift to occur permanently. Once the steady state is restored cells will happily burn palmitic acid and a nice physiological insulin resistant state can be restored.

When I think about milk and in particular the galactose and ketones increasing at altitude it’s not hard to imagine that milk is the input which produces the desired metabolic output i.e. moving from a hypoxic to normoxic environment. Not too much different than fructose driven glycolysis in low oxygen environments.

When I think about ketones and their ability to “prevent” or “reduce” the consequences of hypoxia I think given how high they are in human babies that mitochondria are still developing oxidative capacity and the internal “atmospheric conditions” are being buffered if not facilitated by lactate.

Tissue unsaturation does increase as one climbs in altitude and this may account for the higher rates of skin cancer and so do ketones.

All energy substrates have “innate”, yikes, pros and cons that will make your life adaptive or miserable as internal and external environmental factors change. One prediction would be that as oxygen becomes less available there is more reliance on glucose as a suitable energy substrate along with raises in ketones and lactate. And in some cases fructose. When exogenous glucose is not available fat serves the ketone lunch.

This is why ketosis is not appropriate in my opinion except as an intervention. Ketosis is a side effect, the benefits come from SFAs.

And while the intervention can resolve symptoms, it does not as far as I can tell “cure” things, it just keeps life going but you still slowly fall apart.

To cure things, you have to provide stimulus that can rebuild structure. And so, this builds on my energy and structure post.

So why don’t we want to drink milk all the time if it has the benefits of restoring OXPHOS? Restoring is the key word here. Well when I drank milk all the time I found that my diet was quite limited and I’m a guy who likes variety and thinks monotherapy diets are interventions not cures and tend to think they predispose people to orthorexia and a host of other psychological problems.

Eventually you get tired of milk and want a bit of substance. I tend to pay attention to what I’m hungry for, I tend to trust that, maybe a bit too much for some people, maybe not enough, I’m cautious and there is some logic behind how I judge whether or not a craving is a real need verses something more psychological. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat something for psychological reasons and there is definitely some interplay in which a psychological craving might have overall benefit. But let’s not get too spooky here.

When you get to the point where your like, I’d like to chew on something, it’s probably a good sign that you need to chew on something besides the meat in your meat and milk diet.

For those of you who understand my cryptologic you’ll know that I’m not a fan of fruits and vegetables, but I am a fan at the same time because I like a little NERF ball. That is Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 or NRF2.

I think, though this is working through some higher level signaling (not everyone can conceptualize the implications of metabolic substrates and NRF2 is a good place to have that dialog), that this is one of the ways antioxidants work, it’s not because they are functionally benefiting the system, it’s because they are assaulting the system and whittling out adaptation by increasing our own mammalian antioxidant system (this explains the dose bell curve of antioxidants as well), since exercise, antioxidants, and other stressors (psychological stress) hit NRF2 it is a good common ground and the proverbial point in which “cures” as differentiated from “interventions” happen or can happen.

Once OXPHOS is stable, how do you approach making it antifragile? You begin by coming off your monotherapy diet and stress testing it. Not much different than a baby. You start by gently exposing it to the environment. If you protect your baby too much it will be maladapted and if you stress it too much it will be maladapted. You want that sweet spot or zone of proximal development a psychological concept which originated with Lev Vygotsky which I think applies to physiology or is a good way to conceptualize physiology.

And that is the beginning to a long process. I started off with herbs and spices and a bit of starch. Even herbs and spices were a bit uncomfortable at first much like the first time you pick up a weight or attempt a long walk or a short jog. But it starts there. And for now, that’s were we’ll end.

Best wishes,


2 Comments Energy and Structure: Stress testing your physiology

  1. Johan


    Great to see you back posting – after going through what I perceive to be near-religious levels of nutritional forums, and that includes the likes of Ray Peat, Matt Stone, etc, your blog is one of those I continue to check-in / read from time to time. I like the fact that your not dogmatic in any sense of the word and that your post are both a combination of empirical (n=1 testing on yourself) and academic / scientific referencing. Hope you keep writing for years to come, even if sporadically.


  2. Evan

    So…. what the hell have you been eating lately? Still focus on SaFa I’m sure, but also starting to look more kindly at fructose, and even starch?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *