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Care and Feeding of Growing Goblins

Goblin's Gym: Chapter on nutrition I'm afraid this chapter will ruffle many feathers. Saturated fat good ? Vegetable oils bad ? Whole grains not always good ? I did not suck these things out of my thumb. At the very least my echo chamber is quite lively. Hear me out, do your own research, then decide. Also remember individual variability - some will thrive best on a carnivore diet, a few will actually do best on a plant based diet.

If the "Standard American Diet" (fittingly abbreviated as SAD) is so great, why is obesity so widespread ? Why do so many kids need braces (jaw not forming correctly), or glasses ? Why is osteoporosis an issue ?

Ideally, good nutrition should start with the parents before they conceive their child. It is probably too late for that now, but we can try to do damage control. Young bodies are resilient, and can often catch up missed growth if they finally get what they need.

Modern Times vs. Tradition

To start, please read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A Price (also available as a printed book). The Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF) published a summary of his diet recommendations .

A more detailed breakdown of the Lötschental diet can be found in the book Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. Mineral-rich water is my assumption.

For pre-conception nutrition and the topic of epigenetics, please see The Better Baby Book and Deep Nutrition (Dr. Cate Shanahan).

Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic by Sandra Kahn and Paul R. Ehrlich. This book describes how nose breathing, proper oral posture, breast feeding and intensive chewing are important for proper development of the jaw. They think that it was the chewing, and not the micronutrients that made the difference in the cases that Dr. Price reported.

Origins of dental crowding and malocclusions: an anthropological perspective (PDF)

I think it is a combination of factors. For example, the traditional people in Lötschental / Switzerland ate sourdough rye bread that was stored for months. This is seriously hard bread (think oversize hockey puck). Combine vigorous chewing with plenty of minerals from dairy and mineral-rich mountain water, vitamin D and K2 from dairy and sunshine, and their jaws and teeth should grow just nicely.


Basic nutritional knowledge.


Basic nutritional knowledge.

Energy balance

Basic nutritional knowledge.

You can read on the study by Dr. Davis in the article Self-selected nutrition by infants .

Overfed, but Undernourished

I plead "common sense" on this section.

Healthy Bodyfat ?

My statements are based on the experience of many athletes. For men, hormone levels seem to be best in the 10 to 15% range. Women store a bit more fat "in the right places", and need more to maintain a normal menstrual cycle. There are outliers - Tristyn Lee walks around at a shredded 5% most of the time.

Keep in mind that bodyfat percentages need to be taken with a rather large bag of salt. Bodyfat scales are good for entertainment only. A finger pinch is enough for me to determine that I still carry enough fluff, even if the Tanita scale at the gym once said that I'm at a shredded 6.4%. Even the gold standard "DXA scan" is not completely reliable.

Inertially Challenged ?

These recommendations are pretty common in the physique field, and fit well with common sense. If you want to get more scientific about it, you could look at The Renaissance Diet 2.0 by Renaissance Periodization.

My recommendation to track the weight each morning is based on the fact that there can be LARGE daily fluctuations based on your bowel contents, hydration, glycogen loading, salt etc. Adjustments should be made based on the weekly average, not individual weight samples subject to these large fluctuations (that would be a good route to eating disorders).

Exercise to lose Weight ?

Basic physics. Cardio exercise will only burn energy while you do it (and tends to make you hungry). Additional muscle tissue will increase the basal metabolic rate.


Daily protein requirement:
Protein intake for adolescent sprint athletes
Protein and nitrogen balance in male adolescents
Kids grow better with some meat
One egg per day makes young children grow better
Dairy seems to be ok
Milk helps kids grow
Chocolate milk for recovery after training - seems to do the job quite well. I am not crazy about the high sugar content, and I also prefer my milk in a less processed form.

Processed meat - nitrates and other additives are widely considered a cancer risk (often bunched together with unprocessed meat, giving red meat a bad reputation).

Pork - many religions prohibit its consumption. Back then, the risk of trichinosis was a public health issue. Today, pork is raised in ways that are a far cry from the way these clever animals were meant to live. Free-range pork is hard to find today, even if it was a major food source for the long-lived people on Okinawa before WW2. Your choice.

While soy has a good amino acid balance, it is also a source of isoflavones and phytoestrogens that could mess with hormones. It could be ok or even beneficial for females, but I am concerned for males.
Soy could advance pubarche (first appearance of pubic hair)
For girls, it could delay puberty
Influence on sperm count ?
No, it's quite alright (if you take in a generous 5 to 10 g of soy protein per day - which won't get you very far). Please note that this study was sponsored by soy industry - surely they would have demonstrated safety for a higher intake if they could have ?

Protein bars, ready-to-drink protein drinks: Just read the friendly labels, in particular what protein they actually use.

Protein with breakfast is a good idea
Protein before sleep is good, too

Types of protein supplements: basic nutritional knowledge.


Basic nutritional and metabolic facts. The brain normally runs on glucose, but will also happily burn ketones instead. I am not trying to push a low carb keto diet here, but want to encourage metabolic flexibility (to switch between carbs and fat as an energy source).

My list of good carbs is based on foods with a lower glycemic index, and a reasonable carb "density". In other words, if the body gets a reasonable portion of carbs spread out over some time, they are fine. Oatmeal contains a lot of phytic acid, but is a good opportunity to get some serious munching in.

My avoid list ? The perils of sugar should be well known. Grains such as wheat are controversial - some say they are ok, others are worried about e.g. Gluten and Wheat Agglutinin. I don't need them. Carbs combined with fat - people who can only eat one piece are also known as liars. Also see this article on the health impact of ultra-processed foods if any doubts remain.

What is the most fattening food ? Potatoes combined with fat, i.e. potato chips or French fries.


Some basic nutritional facts.

Younger kids can metabolize more fat during exercise than Big'uns

Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids:
Omega 3 and athletics
Evolutionary aspects of diet: the omega-6/omega-3 ratio and the brain
Importance of the omega 3 / omega 6 ratio

Good fats: Fish as a source of omega-3 fats should not be controversial. Saturated fat from meat, eggs or dairy may be less popular. But as part of a healthy diet, it should not be a problem . Olive oil is part of the mediterranean diet, generally considered healthy. Avocado and coconut should be ok within reason. I would not recommend overconsuming nuts or seeds given the omega 3 / omega 6 balance.

Fats that I avoid: Hydrogenated fats / trans fats should be well recognized as ++ungood by now. Vegetable / seed oils are not on the public hit list yet, but maybe they should be. Fried / processed foods are usually made with these fats, so they end up on my bad list by extension.
Omega-6 vegetable oils as a driver of coronary heart disease: the oxidized linoleic acid hypothesis
More references about seed oils


This should not be too controversial.


About phytic acid, please read the extensive article Living with Phytic Acid by Ramiel Nagel. His soaking method for brown rice is more practical than some of the other methods proposed. Brown rice requires more chewing, good thing in my opinion.
Ascorbic acid can counteract the effect of phytates / older article on this .

Lentils and beans: The need for soaking should be well known.

Water of Life

These recommendations are based on my experience, including feedback from my rather sensitive teeth. Reverse osmosis water goes right through me. Diet soda can be an alternative to the full sugar version, but it remains a rare treat as I am wary about the acid.

Mineral contents: See bottle labels or supplier websites.

Vitamins, Minerals and your Bones

Better Bones - detailed article by CM Monteleone on what your body needs to grow strong bones.

Fingernails and nutritional status: I don't have a solid base for this statement. But - Nutrition and nail disease - "Virtually every nutritional deficiency can affect the growth of the nail in some manner."

Vitamin D: Depending on whom you ask, it will be either the most important micronutrient, or not a concern (until they get their blood levels tested and find that they are severely deficient). I don't get out in the sun much, so I consider myself "underexposed" and supplement 4000 IU per day. If you run a blood test, you can use the Grassrootshealth.net vitamin D calculator to calculate an appropriate intake depending on your target level.
Rhonda Patrick on Diet-Gene Interactions, Epigenetics, the Vitamin D-Serotonin Link and DNA Damage (long and a bit technical, but gives some ideas on what can go wrong when you are Vitamin D deficient, or don't get enough EPA / DHA essential fatty acids)

Osgood-Schlatter (knee pain) may be influenced by Vitamin D deficiency: Pathophysiology of Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Does Vitamin D have a Role?
I guess this helps explain my wonky knees.

US dietary reference intake vitamins minerals DRI

What animals will do to get at salt . I once had a close encounter with a cow in a narrow place. Safe passage, a few licks of my sweaty arm later...

RTFL (read the friendly labels)

In general, the ingredients I avoid are used in highly processed foods.

Carrageenan: Evidence is somewhat thin on the ground. I err on the side of precaution. Real food doesn't need thickeners.
Advance on safety evaluation of carrageenan


Multivitamins and essential fatty acids do something...
or not ?

My question: Do you feel lucky ?

Vegetarians and vegans would do well to consider supplementing Creatine Monohydrate. Found in small quantities in meat, Creatine Monohydrate is a precursor substance for Phosphocreatine used in high intensity exercise.
The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores
Creatine Supplementation in Children and Adolescents (as usual, more research is needed, but it should be safe)

Power Food Secrets

Raw Milk - your choice...
WAPF article comparing raw milk with heat-treated milk
Is raw milk dangerous ? - article by Chris Kresser.
US FDA: Raw Milk Misconceptions and the Danger of Raw Milk Consumption Some cookbooks:

It takes Guts - cookbook by Ashleigh VanHouten.
Nourishing Traditions - cookbook by Sally Fallon.

Plant based diet

I understand the ethical attractions of veganism, but in my opinion the nutritional shortcomings must be taken seriously. If you want to grow and perform your best, you will have to get everything right, with little margin for error. Vegan advocates can be missionaries with an active reality distortion field. They like to sweep the inconvient facts of antinutrients under the carpet. If in doubt, please run the food schedule through a nutrition tracker like Cronometer, and look at the daily report to see if you would get enough for all important micronutrients. Vitamins B12 and D will need supplementation.

Thankfully, some authors have picked apart vegan health claims in great detail, so I won't have to. The movie "The Game Changers" is about vegan athletes. Arnold Schwarzenegger was most likely not vegan when he built his prize-winning physique.

Debunking the Game Changers - detailed article by Chris Kresser
Healthline fact checking "The Game Changers"
Watch for iron intake !
Vegan Diet in Young Children - how to make it work.

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