The Long Game 124: Dietary Protein, Career & Life, Nobody Cares, Getting Stuff Done, Content Industrial Complex
💔 Why Women Choose Divorce, Climate Change, Body Fat, The Crisis of Men & Boys, Gym Gear, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Reflections on career and life
What did you get done this week?
Why women choose divorce?
Let’s dive in!
🥩 Dietary protein: amount needed, ideal timing, quality, and more
I thought this was an excellent episode on a topic many people have been interested in lately. So I’ll summarize the learnings here to give you the TL; DL:
75-80% of our glucose storage capacity exists within skeletal muscle.
Muscle serves two functions:
1 – Mobility, functional mobility is critical
Most people live to age 65; beyond that, most people actually die from some form of immobility
This can be falls, breaking something, hospitalization…
2 – Metabolism, muscle is a primary site for insulin activity
Peter mentioned glucose storage, but he looks at it more in terms of glucose utilization and fat utilization
Don says to think of protein as a “vitamin pill.”
We don’t have a daily requirement for a vitamin pill.
We have a requirement for 12 vitamins inside the pill.
We don’t actually have a daily requirement for protein. We have a requirement for nine or 20 amino acids inside of it.
In terms of protein requirement, we have a requirement for the nine essential amino acids:
These amino acids are essential building blocks for new protein
But every one of them has a metabolic role like
Leucine and mTOR or
Arginine and nitric oxide or
Lysine and carnitine or
Cysteine and glutathione
And all of those roles are vastly above the minimum that is detected for nitrogen balance for the RDA (recommended dietary allowance.)
When we think about vitamin C, we know there’s a minimum RDA to prevent scurvy, but people will take 5 or 10 times that during COVID for immune response.
But we resist thinking that way about amino acids, and it’s exactly the same.
Origin and limitations of the current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein intake:
“So it’s important to recognize that what we think about protein requirements is developed from nitrogen balance, where you measure all of the nitrogen you’re eating (which you can do pretty well), but then you have to measure all of the nitrogen you’re losing (which we’re really bad at), and we call that nitrogen balance.”
“We now know that protein handling (the efficiency) goes down as we get older. So now we have much higher requirements that most of us talk about for adults.”
Protein sources: determining quality, absorption rates, and how to track intake:
We realize that when you look at a protein, there are two factors that go into a protein quality score:
1 – What’s the composition of those nine essential amino acids?
2 – What’s its bioavailability? (how well do we digest it and absorb it)
With animal proteins and most isolated proteins, even soy protein isolates, the digestion, and absorption is pretty close to 100%.
Digestion and absorption are usually 95% or higher for all animal proteins.
For plant proteins, it is less, maybe only 60-70% available because we can’t digest the fiber proteins are attached to:
You need to realize that in a plant, the protein is there for the purpose of the plant, and it is attached to fibers.
Fibers are structures, plants have proteins attached to the leaves and the stems and the roots and the flowers and the seeds.
When you eat plants in a raw form, only 60-70% of the protein is available because we can’t digest the fiber.
We can determine that a whey protein isolate is 20% better than a soy protein isolate on the basis of its essential amino acids.
The differing needs and impacts of dietary protein for a 16-year-old compared to a 65-year old:
“It’s important to recognize that whether you’re 16 or 65, your body needs to make nearly 300 grams of new protein per day.”
We have to make 300 grams of new protein per day, but the average American intake is around 80 grams or less (for women, it’s 70, and for men, it’s 90.)
This means recycling is going on.
For every new protein that’s getting made in the body, about 6 out of 7 amino acids are getting recycled.
This feeds into the process of protein synthesis and protein turnover.
If a person says, “I’m 65 years old, and I’m on a plant-based diet,” does their protein intake need to be higher?
Don says this point is exactly right.
We know that most people who go to a plant-based diet, or a vegetarian diet, decrease both the quantity and the quality.
If you’re on a plant-based diet, you’ll need more protein, and that means you’ll have to have more calories.
What is the threshold?
If you have 100, or 120 grams of protein per day, the distribution between animal and plant probably doesn’t matter because you probably have enough to cover it.
But, if you’re only eating 50 grams of protein per day, then it makes a big difference; you’ll never catch up to your essential amino acid needs.
Muscle protein synthesis: ideal timing, small meals vs. big meals:
Can you eat all of your protein in one meal?
Hypothetical person‒ is very active, they are going to eat 3,000 calories in 1 sitting.
Peter asks, “Even if I was able to eat 150 grams of protein in one sitting, is it clear that my body will get the benefit from that, that it would if I ate 50 grams three times a day?”
Don replies, “It’s quite clear that you won’t get a benefit, that there is a limit.”
Protein requirements are an absolute number, so if your calories go down, your protein intake should remain the same.
We want to front-load protein during the day.
We want at least two meals that are well above 30 g of protein.
He always has people shooting for 40/45 g at the first meal, and another 45 at their last meal.
Long-term, your overall health is determined by keeping the muscle healthy because it keeps everything else healthy.
How important is timing protein intake around training?
If you’re beginning training and you’re in the first four weeks, post-exercise protein probably makes sense.
If you’re well trained, you’re basically training the same way, and you’ve been doing it for six months. Don doesn’t see any effect difference between having protein within 2 hours after exercise versus just having your 3-4 four meals per day.
You won’t see any difference in either mass or strength.
How much protein can muscle use at any one sitting?
You’ll digest and absorb 100 grams of protein at a meal. But muscle, in particular, only has a window of around 25 to 60 grams (depending on protein quality) that it can use. The liver will use all of it.
Getting enough protein and enough quality protein in the diet is hard
This is Don’s concern with the plant-based movement‒ do people have the resources to make it healthy?
You can, but you need a lot of knowledge and food skills.
💭 Reflections on Career and Life
Being happy with our work is a crucial part of our overall happiness. I tend not to like general career advice, but I found this piece to be a worthwhile exception.
Here are some interesting elements to think about:
Don’t do the job you want to tell other people you do. Do the job you want to do.
“Some people take jobs with long commutes not fully considering what it will do to their health. Or they take jobs that require lots of travel not fully intuiting what it will mean for their family life. Or they’ll take horribly difficult jobs for money they don’t need, or take high-status jobs for a dopamine rush with a half-life of about three days. If you want to be smarter about your beingness in time, either you can read a lot of impenetrable philosophy or you can listen to Jim. Don’t take the job you want to talk about at parties for a couple of minutes a month. Take the job you want to do for hundreds of hours a year.”
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you value—and how much professional success matters to you.
“Similarly, for reasons I’ll probably never truly understand, I’m ambitious about my career. But some people aren’t, and that’s fine. The important thing is for people to be honest with themselves about whether they have a taste for ambition. And if they do, they should know that there is no substitute for working really hard and caring, contra the popular internet-y idea that hard work amounts to a kind of false consciousness, or that the word hustle is for dweebs.
Again, the point is not that professional ambition is so morally pristine. It’s a personal taste! And you should be honest with yourself if it’s a taste you want to cultivate. Being stuck in the middle is agony: to be ambitious overall but uninterested in going above and beyond at work, or to be unambitious by nature and yet feel pressured to become a full-on workist. People are happiest when their life is aligned with their identity.”
I think this is a pretty good answer to the never-ending working-hard debate.
Flow comes from voluntary, difficult, and worthwhile work.
“The best kind of work is voluntary: It’s something you choose to do rather than accomplish under the imminent threat of poverty or getting fired. It’s also difficult: Rewarding work is not easy, but an achievable challenge that requires stretching your capabilities and allowing for learning and growth (another reason to explore, instead of just exploit). Finally, it’s worthwhile, which I interpret to mean that it’s intrinsically rewarding. If you outsource your sense of worth to the feedback of crowds and the approval of peers and professional counterparties, your working identity will feel like a sailboat in a hurricane. You have to moor yourself to something that doesn’t change direction every few moments, whether it’s the confidence that you’re helping people or the joy of pure discovery.”
🧠 Better Thinking
❌ Nobody Cares
A powerful message worth meditating on:
When things go wrong in your company, nobody cares. The press doesn’t care, your investors don’t care, your board doesn’t care, your employees don’t care, even your mama doesn’t care. Nobody cares.
And they are right not to care. A great reason for failing won’t preserve one dollar for your investors, won’t save one employee’s job, or get you one new customer. It especially won’t make you feel one bit better when you shut down your company and declare bankruptcy.
All the mental energy that you use to elaborate your misery would be far better used trying to find the one, seemingly impossible way out of your current mess. It’s best to spend zero time on what you could have done and all of your time on what you might do. Because in the end, nobody cares, just run your company.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
❓ What Did You Get Done This Week?
This week, we keep it simple, and I think, in many ways, keeping it simple is the best way to go.
What did your team ship last week? Talking, strategizing, planning, etc., is cheap. Building is what matters.
📚 What I Read
⛏ Revolutions Occur When a Significant Portion of Elites Defect From the Existing Regime
And why Harvard shouldn't admit more students
Contrary to widely held opinion, popular discontent is typically insufficient to trigger large-scale conflict or civil war or a revolution.
When the masses want to effectively topple an existing system, they need a Schelling point to rally around—an individual or organization who can resolve the coordination problem of guiding large numbers of people to unify and act collectively.
Typically, a disaffected or aspiring elite individual or group fulfills that role.
In Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction, the sociologist Jack A. Goldstone has written:
“Poverty is generally not associated with revolution…When the American Revolution occurred, American colonists were far better off than European peasants. Even in Europe, the French Revolution of 1789 arose in a country where those peasants were generally better off than the peasants of Russia, where revolution did not occur until more than a hundred years later. This is because poor peasants and workers cannot overthrow the government when faced with professional military forces determined to defend the regime. Revolutions can occur only when significant portions of the elites, and especially in the military, defect or stand aside. Indeed, in most revolutions it is the elites who mobilize the population to help them overthrow the regime.”
To ignite a revolution, poverty or inequality or mistreatment by the existing system may be critical ingredients. But having the right elite aspirant at the right time who is willing to lead the people to challenge the prevailing regime may be more critical. America’s founders, France’s revolutionaries, and Russia’s Marxist-Leninists came along at the right time and had both the drive and ability to cultivate or make use of people’s grievances to topple the existing structure.
Pair with: The Elite Overproduction Hypothesis
👋 Mandated Diversity Statement Drives Jonathan Haidt To Quit Academic Society
Prominent social psychologist and NYU professor calls the requirement “explicitly ideological.”
It was probably inevitable that Jonathan Haidt, an academic long concerned about the politicization of academia, would eventually be caught up in the displacement of intellectual inquiry by ideological rigidity.
Last week the New York University (NYU) psychology professor announced that he would resign at the end of the year from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, his primary professional association, because of a newly adopted requirement that everybody presenting research at the group's conferences explain how their submission advances "equity, inclusion, and anti-racism goals." It was the sort of litmus test against which he has warned, and which he sees as corroding institutions of higher learning.
Pair with: Nature: Manuscripts that are ideologically impure and “harmful” will be rejected
🌍 What Many Progressives Misunderstand About Fighting Climate Change
Wishful thinking hampers the clean-energy revolution.
The good news is that, with reasonable reforms, the energy transition is fully within reach. Private investment in clean-energy technology is skyrocketing, and even Big Oil is starting to realize there is no future in fossil fuels.
But this may not be enough for some environmentalists. Jamie Henn, an environmental activist and the director of Fossil Free Media, recently told Rolling Stone, “Look, I want to get carbon out of the atmosphere, but this is such an opportunity to remake our society. But if we just perpetuate the same harms in a clean-energy economy, and it’s just a world of Exxons and Elon Musks—oh, man, what a nightmare.” Many progressive commentators similarly believe that countering climate change requires a fundamental reordering of the West’s political and economic systems. “The level of disruption required to keep us at a temperature anywhere below ‘absolutely catastrophic’ is fundamentally, on a deep structural level, incompatible with the status quo,” the writer Phil McDuff has argued. The climate crisis, the Green New Deal advocate Naomi Klein has insisted, “could be the best argument progressives have ever had” to roll back corporate influence, tear up free-trade deals, and reinvest in public services and infrastructure.
Pair with: The Future History of the Nuclear Renaissance With Isabelle Boemeke ☢️
🏭 Content Industrial Complex
Two events in 2017 shifted the course of this embryonic industry. Influencer marketing took a hit with the Fyre Festival, a weekend of music and partying in the Bahamas organized with the help of rapper Ja Rule, which ended with attendees paying between $5,000 and $250,000 to eat Kraft Singles on a slice of Wonder Bread in FEMA-style emergency relief tents. Then, the YouTube vlogger and Team 10 member Logan Paul took a misguided trip to Aokigahara, also known as Japan’s Suicide Forest, eventually encountering a dead body, laughing it off, and posting a video of the excursion for all of his fifteen million subscribers to see. In response, there has been an industry-wide turn from macro influencers, who have millions of followers and command high fees, to lower-liability micro influencers—especially from the cultural sphere—who have fewer followers but offer higher-quality engagement and content. This tactic aims to expand a brand’s audience by relying on an influencer’s appeal to authenticity and legitimacy within a particular community—be it fourteen-year-olds, or artists. In the past, art and the artist’s identity were largely incongruous with such relatability; but then the contemporary precariat emerged, whose lives and livelihoods are oh-so-relatable to those of “the artist.”
Pair with: Life after lifestyle
🍭 Brain Food
💔 Why Women Choose Divorce
I came across two interesting articles related to why women choose to divorce.
Why women choose divorce: An evolutionary perspective
Abstract: In Western dual-educated, male-female marriages, women who divorce face greater burdens because of decreased income and primary or sole responsibility for caring for children than men who divorce. Why, then, do these women initiate divorce more and fare better psychologically after a divorce than men? Here, we articulate an evolutionary mismatch perspective, informed by key findings in relationship science. We argue that mismatches between women's evolved preferences and configurations of modern marriage often clash, producing dissatisfaction. Women's unprecedented career ascendance also affords women ever more freedom to leave. We discuss pressures from social expectations for men and women that contribute to or compound these vulnerabilities. We conclude with key questions for future research, which can contribute to strategies for mitigating relationship dissatisfaction and the profound loss and pain that results from divorce.
Then, I learned that women are much more likely than men to initiate divorce, and this second piece gives some ideas as to why this is happening.
Why Women Are Much More Likely Than Men to Initiate Divorce
Divorce is common. For instance, in 2019, one million American women divorced.
Though divorce is financially costly, particularly for women, the percentage of divorces initiated by women is higher than men-initiated divorces. Furthermore, a surprisingly large number of women report post-divorce life satisfaction. For an explanation of this paradox and reasons why women divorce, we turn to a recent paper by Parker and collaborators, published in the February 2022 issue of Current Opinion in Psychology.
The authors argue, using the evolutionary theory, that various mismatches between the sexes increase the likelihood of divorce. These mismatches are detailed below. (Note, most of what follows applies to divorces initiated by women in heterosexual relationships in Western countries.)
Good genes, deep pockets, and other mismatches in mate preference
When it comes to mate selection, women value characteristics such as masculinity, facial symmetry, attractiveness, and social dominance. Quite a few of these characteristics signal good genes. For example, they correlate with health and physical strength, which are attributes that increase survival and reproductive success.
Why might a desire for genetically superior men result in mate preference mismatch? Because men with good genes are usually more interested in short-term relationships and do not make the best long-term partners (e.g., are less resourceful). So, women, especially those able to financially support themselves, may not feel motivated to stay in a relationship with such men.
Another mismatch concerns financial resources: Not only do women desire physically healthy and attractive romantic partners, but they also often desire resourceful mates (i.e. rich and successful men).
Pair with the excellent and mandatory reading for all men This is How Your Marriage Ends.
Also pair with: An Unromantic but Compelling Theory About Sexual Motivations.
🎥 What I’m Watching
🚫 10% Body Fat is Too Lean For Most Men
Unfortunately, social media has led many men to aim for very low body fat percentages. Fitness models live a very restraining (and most of the time enhanced) life to be able to share a very lean physique in their photo because that’s what the algorithm rewards. But for most men, this is a bad pursuit. It’s very restrictive, worsens your life in pretty much all aspects, you look small when wearing clothes, your performance is lower and so on…
The video recommends 12-15%, but I personally prefer the 15-20% range.
📉 Why Are Boys Underperforming So Badly In Education?
Richard Reeves explains why boys and men are struggling so much in education. Why are boys falling behind girls in school? Why are so few men going to college compared with women? Does Richard Reeves think that redshirting should happen and boys start school one year later than girls?
Pair with: The Crisis of Men and Boys
🔧 The Tool of the Week
🧰 Some Additional Gym Stuff
Some additional gym gear I’m using these days:
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
"The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think."
— Marc Andreessen
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