Four Problems with Calorie Counting

I found this great article over at Precision Nutrition about the issues with calorie counting.

I present to you the infographic that they shared with the article:

In particular I wanted to call out the topic of adaptive thermogenesis. I think this process is one of the things that stops a lot of people from hitting their fitness goals. The belief that eating too much is the problem means people feel that they’re doing good by eating less. I get the irony of this only one week after writing about fasting. Let's acknowledge that and move right along.  

In my experience, generally what happens is people eat less in each meal, but overall eat about the same. Maybe they’ll have small breakfast, lunch, and dinner; but because they’re hungry will end up having a few more snacks. It's because feeling hungry is stressful, and a lot of people are rightfully scared of it. Depending on whats going on in your body, feeling hungry can be anything from a minor unpleasant 'empty gut' feeling, to a fuzzy cranky brain, to full blown exhaustion and fatigue. Personally I'm less scared of feeling hungry, but only because I have experimented with intermittent fasting and developed the ability to go hungry for relatively long periods of time (24 hours) without too much trouble. But it's something I prepare for, and I've built up to over time. It's not something I started doing suddenly as a New Years Resolution. When you're used to eating something small every 3 hours, trying to suddenly reduce the amount of food you eat is bound to not only freak you out, but also be physically challenging for your body. And to top it off, even if you have the mental fortitude to push yourself through that stress, the process of adaptive thermogenesis may foil your plans anyway!

Posted on July 22, 2016 and filed under other people's things.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a way of eating that can help you to lose weight, maintain a lower body fat percentage, and stay healthy. You may not necessarily see better results than traditional dieting methods, but for some people it’s much easier to stick to. That means that the results are much better in practice for those people. Many people, including me, also enjoy the occasional reminder that going a little hungry once in a while won’t kill you - a reminder of the privilege of regular food.

If you’re looking for another way to approach your diet, or you’re just curious about the whole process, it’s worth experimenting . There is some research out there that has found fasting can improve your health in other ways, but it’s early days so we don’t quite know the story yet. I’ll describe intermittent fasting for you and then go through what I have been experimenting with to give you somewhere to start.

Why am I talking about this?

I’ve been living in a little bubble for the past few months. It seems every person I follow on the internet who talks about fitness is talking about IF lately. My first dim awareness of anything to do with periods of fasting came from my parents a few years ago when they tried the ‘5–2 diet’. I started to experiment with fasting as a way to recover from my ‘cheat day’ and found it to be very effective. More on that later.

What is intermittent fasting?

IF isn’t a diet. Rather, it’s a way of eating that makes the timing of your eating more important than what you’re eating. You already do a fast every day while you’re sleeping. Generally that would work out to be somewhere between 10–12 hours of fasting depending on when you eat dinner. A common way of doing IF is to extend the sleeping fast to 16 hours, followed by an 8 hour feeding period. In practice, this means simply skip breakfast and eat two larger meals (i.e. the same amount of food you’d normally eat if you ate breakfast) later in the day. If you eat your last meal at around 20:00 (8pm) and eat lunch at 12:00 the next day, you have just completed a 16 hour fast.

This pattern of 16 hour fast, 8 hour feeding window is called a protocol. I’ll go into detail later about this particular one. Other protocols suggest extending the fasting window further, others have the window shorter. Some suggest doing the fast every day, while others (generally the longer fasts) are best done once a week or so.

IF protocols generally don’t dictate what you should eat, instead focussing on when. That said, if you have weight loss or other goals, what you eat during that period will make a difference to your goals.

Why fast?

James Clear sums up why you might like to try this in his [post about the subject] (sorry about the imperial measures):

Surprisingly, since I’ve started intermittent fasting I’ve increased muscle mass (up 10 pounds from 205 to 215), decreased body fat (down 3% from 14% to 11%), increased explosiveness (set a personal best with a clean and jerk of 253 pounds a few months back), and decreased the amount of time I’ve spent training (down from 7.5 hours per week to 2.5 hours per week).

James is of course training regularly already, and at 14% body fat, he was doing pretty well. I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of examples of IF working well with people who are already paying attention to this stuff. They’re adding IF to a pre-existing training regime, and usually they’re already eating clean healthy food. That said, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that IF also works for people who aren’t training already (thought it really would help). You may be thinking “well obviously body fat would go down, because you’re eating less - you’re starving yourself!”. Not so. In fact, it works best if you eat the same amount of food you’d normally eat, only during the feeding window.

Fasting makes your day simpler. There are less meals to worry about, and when you try your first 24 hour fast, you’ll be shocked at how much extra time you have because you don’t have to cook/decide what to order, go pick it up, eat, or clean up.

I have also read that IF can promote autophagocytosis, which, as described by Wikipedia, is the natural, destructive mechanism by which unnecessary or dysfunctional cells digest themselves for other uses. This supposedly happens when fasting because the body is more likely to look for efficiencies within itself without a constant source of energy from you eating regularly. This process is destructive if left unchecked, but intermittently switching it on through fasting can help.

You’re convinced! But there will be doubters

IF is not the be all and end all. It’s just something else in your tool belt to help you meet your goals. It’s worth giving it a try, even if you end up deciding that it’s not for you.

You’ll probably meet a few doubters along the way. Rather than espousing intermittent fasting as the best thing in the world and getting into an argument, I suggest listening to their concerns. See if you can learn something from them. Be curious about why they think it’s a bad idea. You don’t have to act on their concerns, but you can learn a lot from listening to people that you don’t agree with, even if it’s just because they’re forcing you to explain yourself better. Here are some of the concerns I have come across with me since I’ve been doing IF.

Meal frequency

Questions:

Isn’t it better to eat lots of smaller meals?

What about your metabolism?

Metabolic rate is increased when you eat because you’re digesting food. The theory goes that if you eat more often, you will increase your metabolic rate. However, this doesn’t seem to work in practice - if you eat more food at once, your metabolic rate will generally increase to meet the food you have eaten. There doesn’t appear to be any long term ‘increased metabolic rate’ benefit from eating smaller meals more often. That said, plenty of people lose plenty of weight by eating smaller meals more often - I’m not disputing that. If smaller meals more often works for you, stick with it.

Skipping breakfast?

Question

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

There are plenty of reasons why eating breakfast is important. One of them is that insulin sensitivity is increased over a period of fasting, meaning that you are more hormonally prepared for breakfast than other meals. Since you are fasting while you are sleeping, for many people breakfast time is the only time this happens. The thing is, if you lengthen that fast, you increase the positive effects of insulin sensitivity. When you break your fast later in the day you have the same beneficial effects.

Hormonal effects of fasting

What I would consider to be extreme fasting can have significant negative effects. Like with extreme amounts of exercise, if you take it really far it can cause your body to be in a stressed state. Your body might stop the production of hormones like testosterone. However, this seems to happen when you couple intense training, lots of fasting (say, 2–3 full day fasts per week), and maybe some other stress in your life. I have heard some people espousing the benefits of extreme fasting, but they’re doing it under direct doctor supervision and taking plenty of precautions. That sort of fasting is not what I’m talking about.

Lack of information for women

Admittedly, in my own self experimentation I’m not incentivised to look for information for women, so it’s possible that I just haven’t looked hard enough. In any case, there seem to be a lot of questions about the benefits of fasting for women. I think there’s a bias towards information for men. For example, the negative effects of fasting (see above) seem to be much more pronounced in women. I don’t think they come on more easily necessarily, but from the small amount of information I’ve been able to fine, the effects seem to be more serious. Some tips I’ve found: - Women may see better results with a wider window of feeding (say 10 hours feeding, 14 hours fasting if using the daily IF protocol). - All [female page on Facebook] to help with IF.

Are the benefits really coming from fasting? Or is it something else?

It’s definitely possible that the weight loss benefits people are seeing are coming from the calorie equation - burning more energy than we eat. Comparing fasting to not fasting probably isn’t fair, because ‘not fasting’ really means ‘over eating’ in most cases. But the results are still there for the individuals involved, so if fasting is easier to stick to and it’s working, then don’t let this question stop you for now.

What I do

I have changed around my diet and exercise regime a few times in the last few years, but generally I can describe my lifestyle as active. I practice bodyweight exercise, and I’ve been dabbling in gymnastics for a while now. I have been eating a relatively low carb diet for over a year now with a ‘cheat day’ each Saturday where I eat a lot of carbs. On a Sunday, I would usually feel awful and bloated. This would often leak into Monday, plus I found I often had trouble with my eczema on Monday or Tuesday too. I did a bit of research on what other people did to ‘recover’ from their cheat days and came across the 24 hour fast.

The 24 Hour Fast

In summary:

  • last meal on Saturday night at around 21:00 (usually ice-cream!)
  • when I wake up on Sunday I consume 700ml of water. I drink water throughout the day including with each ‘meal’.
  • around 09:00 Sunday I consume:
    • glass of water with greens powder
    • 5mg of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
    • cup of black coffee
  • around 13:00 Sunday I consume:
    • glass of water with greens powder
    • 5mg BCAAs
    • cup of black coffee
  • if I’m struggling at 17:00 Sunday I consume:
    • glass of water with greens powder
    • 5mg BCAAs.
  • before bed (no later than 22:00) I eat a small snack. Note that this is the 24 hour mark. Examples of snacks:
    • a couple of pieces of tasty cheese
    • 2–3 celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Monday morning I resume my normal diet.

The BCAAs and greens powder help to make sure that I’m not depriving myself of essential nutrients, and honestly to help me get through it. In particular, they help guard against the cranky brain problem. I’ve noticed that as I’ve done the 24 hour fast more often, I am much less reliant on consuming the supplements and I have done at least one fast with only one serving of each.

I have found that the mornings are the most difficult. Once my body realises it’s not getting breakfast, the hunger goes away. The fog of the cheat day lifts by lunch time, and by mid afternoon I’m feeling pretty great. It’s a great time to do intense reading or writing.

The fast has helped significantly with my cheat day recovery. Once the fog has lifted at lunch time, it doesn’t come back. The weekly eczema flare ups that I was having have stopped (though my eczema hasn’t gone away entirely). Plus I’ve noticed I look a bit leaner in the mirror. Unfortunately I don’t have the capacity to measure that objectively so you’ll have to go with my subjective measure.

What’s bad about a 24 hour fast?

Sunday is a rest day for me, so I haven’t yet found myself trying to do a fast on a day where I’m required to do strenuous activity. I don’t know what would happen if I needed to be much more active. But I’ve managed to avoid it so far with a little bit of planning, and if I got stuck I could always eat something.

The more prominent issue I’ve noticed is the subtle negative social effects due to not eating. Eating with other humans is sharing. It can be upsetting to people if you’re not eating, so be prepared. Some people will also have opinions to share with you about what is healthy. Both of these things are manageable, but it can be a little daunting trying to explain why you’re not eating to your mother in law.

What I’d like to try next

16/8 hour fast/feeding window

This protocol is the one I used in my description of IF. It’s simultaneously one the more simple protocols, and one of the more complex ones. The version of this that was popularised by Martin Berkhan of [Leangains.com] goes into specific details about what to eat, including [carb] and [protein] cycling, specific timing for exercise, and specific supplementation. Exercising at the end of the fast pushes you deeper into the fast, and is followed immediately by the largest meal of the day to ensure muscle growth. Whilst I’m sure I will use elements of the Leangains protocol, I would like to start it off more simply.

The following is a daily protocol:

  • Upon waking consume 700ml of water. I drink water throughout the day including at least 500ml with each meal.
  • exercise in the morning at around 05:00, during which I consume:
    • 10mg of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
  • After exercise consume greens powder.
  • around 12:30 I eat lunch. Example:
    • properly prepared legumes (half a handful)
    • lots of baked vegetables (2–3 fists worth)
    • a protein (about 2–3 palms worth)
  • around 17:30 I eat a smaller snack.
    • Legumes (half a handful)
    • vegetables (1 fists worth)
    • protein (1 palms worth)
  • around 19:30 I eat dinner
    • Legumes (half a handful)
    • vegetables (3 fists worth)
    • protein (2 palms worth)

This protocol is heavily influence by my current work schedule, so it’s not perfect.

Fast Friends

My experiments with fasting are far from over. There’s plenty of great stuff about fasting, but it’s not the panacea. Intermittent fasting is another thing in your tool belt of things to help you get through this life with the body you have. The key to this is to keep experimenting and learning as much as you can. Try to uphold the value of active wonder in how your body works and how your actions (diet, exercise, lethargy, mediation, socialising) effect it. If you find something that works, that’s awesome. But be careful of creeping conservatism that makes you stick with things that used to work long after they’ve stopped. I didn’t write about IF to convince you to give up all you already know. I hope I sparked the curiosity in your mind, and I hope it carries through.

Posted on July 15, 2016 and filed under experiment.

Experiments

I don’t share much on the Internet these days. I’m not on Facebook, I barely post to Twitter (though I do read my Twitter feed regularly). My last post to my website was months ago. As I’ve felt the urge to write about this stuff, I have asked myself why I think sharing on a website will catch on for me more than other social media.

After a lot of thought, I realised that it’s because a website doesn’t have to be about me. Sure it might have my name on it, and occasionally I’ll share a story from my life to help make a point. But ultimately it doesn’t have to revolve around me[1] and my life in the same way that a social media profile tends to. Obviously I could try to ignore the nudges of the Facebook, but everything about it pushes me towards using it in that way. Not to mention the powerful pull of the friends and family who are using it in that way. Since I want to write and share my thoughts, but I don’t want it to be about me, I feel that a website is the only way.

Experiments

I have been experimenting with a bunch of different things in the health and fitness space over the past few years. I have learned a whole lot so I’d like to start writing about my experiences and my research. I think there’s plenty to say about the topic even though the Internet is full of people talking about it. There’s heaps of people talking about basically anything on the Internet, so I don’t want to let that stop me.

Armed with my curiosity and willingness to suspend disbelief and implement things I thought couldn’t work, I have experimented in these general areas:

  • bodyweight exercise
  • gymnastics
  • interval training
  • intermittent fasting
  • ketogenic diet
  • (s)low carb diet
  • nootropics

I’m going to be writing about some of these topics over the next few months. I will be writing once a week, starting next week with Intermittent Fasting. This should be fun!


  1. This post is quite introspective, but I’m leading somewhere.  ↩

Posted on July 8, 2016 and filed under experiment.

Day One 2 Review

The developers behind my favourite journalling app Day One have released a second version. It’s called Day One 2, and I like it rather a lot.

I’ve been testing the app for a few months now as part of the beta program for Mac and iOS.

After giving it some thought, I figured that rather than doing the typical thing and having the things I don’t like about the app at the end of the post, I’m putting them right up front. That way it’s the first thing you read, so you know what you’re getting into.

Stuff I Don’t Like - Features Removed

Day One 2 has removed some good features from Day One (Classic). It’s a completely re-written app, so I’m not surprised. I heard that the new app is using a database to store the journal data rather than the .xml files that the original Day One used.

In any case, in the process some features I liked got cut out. I’ll miss some more than others.

The Day One ‘publish’ feature is gone. I used it a total of 10 times. It seemed like a good idea, but its introduction also coincided with a dramatic reduction in me posting on social media so it never caught on for me. If you don’t remember the feature, here’s the description from the Day One website (I guess it’s still up because Day One Classic can still use it):

Publish enables you to post individual Day One entries to a beautiful webpage, then share them.

Day One 2 does still show the journal entries you have published under the filters menu (see below), but you can no longer publish from within the app.

Automatically detected tags are gone. But now you can directly set a tag using an automation app like Workflow, rather than the workaround I was using. I added a #hashtag to the text and Day One automatically detected it as I saved the entry.

The option to sync using iCloud and Dropbox has been removed in favour of the 'Day One Sync' feature. This could be huge for some people (I’ve certainly heard about it). I hope the developer considers bringing back other options - it feels a little unsafe having such personal data sitting out there with a small app development house rather than within iCloud encryption. Sure they’re less of a target, but they also have less resources to look after my stuff if there was to be an attack.

Stuff I do Like

Multiple Journals

The ability to seperate my journal into segregated journals is a nice flexibility upgrade for Day One. Visually each journal is represented in the UI by a different colour. But the separation runs deeper - each journal has its own set of tags too. There is a ‘all journals’ view where you can see everything at once, but the separation is a nice way to keep things organised.

I’m using three journals at the moment:

image.jpg
  • my original ‘journal’. This contains my gratitude journal and random thoughts. It’s my digital diary.
    • a book journal. This contains notes on the books I’m reading. I’m trying to remember more of what I read this year, so even if it’s just a few sentences capturing the key things I learnt from a book, I record it here.
    • a business journal. This contains my business related journal entries.

I can see that there are plenty of other ways I could use Day One now. I could have done this using tags in the original Day One, but there’s something about the separated journals that just fits better. As a result, the app is more flexible than it was before.

Multiple Inline Photos

You can now attach multiple photos to a single journal entry. It’s limited to 10, which is a sensible limit if you have to have one. If you need more, simply create a new entry.

This is a test entry I made back in November. 

This is a test entry I made back in November. 

Most interesting to me about the change is that photos can now be inserted inline with the text rather than just attached to an entry at the top. It makes your entries nicer to look at and means you can tell a story using your photos.

I imagine that people who were taking multiple photos throughout the day and sitting down to write a long entry at the end of the day were wishing for multiple photos per entry. For whatever reason, I tend to create multiple short entries throughout the day with one photo attached. I rarely waited until the end of the day to write in my journal, rather I saw it as something I’d do in the moment. In my mind, my daily reflections were seperate from photos so I never felt the need to attach any photos to those. I’d say this habit is at least partly because that’s the way Day One worked, so it’s nice to have the option now. I’ve been using Day One 2 in the beta for a while now, and I haven’t found myself using this feature.

Day One 2 uses a very similar photo view for viewing all posts containing photos. Day One 2 (left) provides all the same filtering options available on the main screen. You can filter by journal on the top left or any of the filters under the tag button on the top right. Because there are less options, Day One Classic (right) can fit more photos in the view. Would you just look at that happy puppy!

Day One 2 uses a very similar photo view for viewing all posts containing photos. Day One 2 (left) provides all the same filtering options available on the main screen. You can filter by journal on the top left or any of the filters under the tag button on the top right. Because there are less options, Day One Classic (right) can fit more photos in the view. Would you just look at that happy puppy!

User Interface Refresh

The new user interface is clean and simple in a way that I find easier to use. Like in Day One, the main screen has two big buttons to quickly start a new entry. But the list view of entries isn’t hidden behind a menu item, they’re all right there for you. You can swipe on a journal entry to perform actions on it, like adding a tag, star, or deleting it. There is a tab bar at the bottom of the screen with buttons representing various ways to view your journal: a list view, photo grid, a map, or a calendar. Because of the way I use the app, I spend the vast majority of my time using the list view.

The Day One Classic front screen (left) has filtering functions and journal entries hidden behind this list view. Day One 2 has almost all the same options available in the tab bar, with some behind the 'tag' button on the top right. 

The Day One Classic front screen (left) has filtering functions and journal entries hidden behind this list view. Day One 2 has almost all the same options available in the tab bar, with some behind the 'tag' button on the top right. 

Editing an entry from the front screen is simple. 

Editing an entry from the front screen is simple. 

The Day One Classic tag screen on the left. Day One 2 uses a modal tag view. 

The Day One Classic tag screen on the left. Day One 2 uses a modal tag view. 

The calendar view in Day One 2. I like the way the app shows a full calendar view to scroll through and slides up a list view when I select a date. 

The calendar view in Day One 2. I like the way the app shows a full calendar view to scroll through and slides up a list view when I select a date. 

The map view and the filter menu. You get to the filter menu by tapping the tag symbol on the top right. 

The map view and the filter menu. You get to the filter menu by tapping the tag symbol on the top right. 

I use the app mostly for adding entries. Usually the first thing I do upon opening app is tap the big plus button and start writing. If I’m using a photo, I usually add it after writing from within the journal entry screen rather than using the photo shortcut. That’s because my journal is mostly text. I’ve also been using the great Workflow app to do my daily journalling.

My primary use of the app is to enter information. But Day One 2 also brings improvments to viewing entries that I really like. To navigate between journal entries, you can swipe left or right or tap the up and down arrows at the bottom of the screen (up means go up the date ordered list, towards the newest entries and down means go down the list towards older entries). Those features together make it easier to navigate on the larger screen iPhone. You can dismiss the journal entry with a swipe down anywhere on the text, which is much better than a ‘done’ button at the top.

By moving the list view up to the main screen, the developer had to find a place for all the old journal viewing options. Some (like the photo grid) are in the tab bar at the bottom of the screen, but other options have been put into a filtering menu at the top right of the main screen. Tap on the tag symbol to bring up a filtering menu. You have the option to filter on stars, tags, years, activity, or music.

So far, Day One 2 has helped me spend more time reading my journal rather than always adding to it.

Custom Reminders

Setting custom reminders is a nice way to automate your journal. You can set up a reminder for a specific time, with a specific question to answer and pre-filled tags. I use this to remind me to write about a specific topic every day. I get the reminder, I write the entry, and it’s pre-tagged and ready to go. It’s simple, but nice.


This upgrade is a solid upgrade. The app is cleaner, faster, and allows me to interact with my journal more. I was always going to recommend this app though. I started journalling every day around a year ago, and I’m completely converted to it’s usefulness. I’ve had some of the most productive and wonderful times of my life since I started journalling. It could definitely be a coincidence, but there’s something about writing in my journal every day that has made me notice how good I’ve got it in a way that I never did before.

Day One has made my journalling habit stick, and I look forward to reaping the benefits with Day One 2.

Posted on February 10, 2016 and filed under tech.

Awesome Macro Photography

I'm so excited! I just stumbled onto some absolutely incredible macro photography over at AlexanderWild.com. You should go check it out right now!

From Alexanderwild.com. Click image for link to the portfolio - you can buy the images there. 

From Alexanderwild.com. Click image for link to the portfolio - you can buy the images there. 

Seriously, check this stuff out. There's a whole gallery combing my favourite things: insects and fungus... 

From Alexanderwild.com. Click image for link to the portfolio - you can buy the images there. 

From Alexanderwild.com. Click image for link to the portfolio - you can buy the images there. 

These photos are Alex's work - I'm reproducing them here without prior permission based on Alex's Social Media - Personal policy. Go take a look at all the photos at AlexanderWild.com and check out his blog at myrmecos.net

I love the internet. 

Posted on January 22, 2016 and filed under other people's things.

Mushrooms

I have a bit of a fascination with mushrooms. They’re mysterious, dangerous, psychedelic and beautiful. The things we know as fungus are only the fruiting bodies of much larger organisms in the soil. And as it turns out, for many plants soil fungi is pretty important to making the whole system work. I’ll start at the beginning.


Plants and Animals

Animals can break down, reassemble and destroy organic matter but they cannot create it. So we animals eat organic matter and rely on other things to make sure there’s enough organise matter to go around. Plants are capable of turning inorganic materials into organic materials. They make things like cellulose, proteins, and sugars from inorganic minerals derived from soil, air or water. The elements plants build with include calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, sulphur, iron, zinc, cobalt, boron, manganese, molybdenum, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen.

Despite this prodigious ability, plant roots have no way to cause the break down of rocks into minerals. They must rely on whatever is in the soil already. Depending on the situation, much of what is in the soil is not in a form available for uptake into the plant. This is because plants can only take up minerals in solution from the soil. That is, as water is evaporated through the plants leaves, the plant replaces that water via the roots. The water contains all of the nutrients available to the plant, and anything not in solution is simply left in the soil. That could be organic material, rocks, or even some types of fertiliser. Even if the nutrients are there in solution, the plants can’t decide what nutrients to obtain. You see this all the time in the garden when there’s “too much” nitrogen in the soil. The plants grow fast, and depending not he plant generally turn that nitrogen into a lot of leaves rather than fruit.


Fungi

Luckily for plants, the soil contains fungi. Fungi lives in the soil as a complex interconnected mass of threads called hyphae. The hyphae are tiny - usually only one cell thick. They break down organic matter and rock particles for food, and distribute it across the network of hyphae. The network can grow to be enormous, with the size of some single organisms measured in square kilometres. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Apart from growing to insane sizes, the great thing about the abilities of fungus is that the process of breaking down organic matter and minerals can make it available to plants. Some plants and fungi form a mutually beneficial relationship known as a symbiotic relationship. The way this works is that the fungi inserts the single cell hyphae into a root hair and consumes a small amount of the plants vascular fluid. This is not generally harmful to the plant since fungi don’t survive solely on vascular fluid - the primary food for fungi is decaying organic matter in the soil. As the root grows, bark develops around the hyphae until it is subsumed into the plant. The hyphae then breaks down inside the plant, nutrients and all. This provides the plant with nutrients that would not otherwise be available to it from the soil.

Not all plants are capable of forming a symbiotic relationship with fungi. And there are certainly fungi that are destructive rather than helpful to plants.


I hope I’ve conveyed why I’m so interested in mushrooms. I find it fascinating that mushrooms are just a tiny representation of a much larger picture. To me, they are a reminder that things are not as simple as they seem. The interconnected fungus networks are a literal example of how everything is connected.

Posted on December 23, 2015 .