Starving our Microbial Self: The Deleterious Consequences of a Diet Deficient in Microbiota-Accessible Carbohydrates

The post title is the same as that of an 8-page paper to be published in the October, 2014 issue of Cell, containing about 80 references to the literature. Luckily, I was provided the full text from a benefactor. Since it's a subscription journal I can't rightfully put it up, but I can quote the abstract since it's online at the link provided.

Erica D. Sonnenburg and Justin L. Sonnenburg, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine.

The gut microbiota of a healthy person may not be equivalent to a healthy microbiota. It is possible that the Western microbiota is actually dysbiotic and predisposes individuals to a variety of diseases. The asymmetric plasticity between the relatively stable human genome and the more malleable gut microbiome suggests that incompatibilities between the two could rapidly arise. The Western lifestyle, which includes a diet low in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs), has selected for a microbiota with altered membership and functionality compared to those of groups living traditional lifestyles. Interactions between resident microbes and host leading to immune dysregulation may explain several diseases that share inflammation as a common basis. The low-MAC Western diet results in poor production of gut microbiota-generated short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which attenuate inflammation through a variety of mechanisms in mouse models. Studies focused on modern and traditional societies, combined with animal models, are needed to characterize the connection between diet, microbiota composition, and function. Differentiating between an optimal microbiota, one that increases disease risk, and one that is causative or potentiates disease will be required to further understand both the etiology and possible treatments for health problems related to microbiota dysbiosis. [emphasis added]

My three takeaways from the abstract.

  1. You may be a "healthy person," perhaps due to good behaviors and practicing good lifestyle choices (abstaining from smoking, alcohol, high levels of processed foods, etc; while engaging in good low-stress, exercise, and sleep habits). But if you're not inwardly minding your microbiota then it might not be as healthy as you'd think it is, setting you up for the "diseases of civilization" as you get older.
  2. The best way to ensure a healthy, balanced gut microbiome is to feed it properly, and the only way to do that consistently is via carbohydrates in the diet. Leafy greens isn't going to cut it. You need fermentable fibers, including those from starchy storage organs and those resistant to digestion (resistant starch) by gastric acids and enzymes.
  3. Eat as many cubes of butter as you like, raise your LDL sky high, crowd out other micronutrients you'd get from more dense sources of plants and protein, but that butyrate and other SFCAs aren't getting to your colon. They need to be generated by the guy microbiome itself and that = appropriate, non-processed carbohydrates.

Looking into the full text, here's some interesting observations I'll summarize.

  1. A single human gut can contain upwards of 60,000 carbohydrate-degrading enzymes...compared with the human genome with about 17 glycoside hydrolassss and no polysaccharide lyases involved in carbohydrate digestion in the gut.
  2. Due to differences in gut composition among humans, some carbs are metabolically available to some, but not to others. This is why it would be important to make dirt-based probiotics part of your lineup, so as to increase the number of available enzymes in (1). For example, for most Japanese, the algal polysaccharide porphyry in seaweed is metabolically available to their microbiome, but not to the vast majority of North Americans or Europeans, because they lack the strain that can make use of it.
  3. It used to be hypothesized, back in the 60s and 70s that the importance of lots of fiber was more of a mechanical thing, like a scrub brush, and this is why the emphasis on roughage. But we now understand it's the fermentation within our intestines that provides both compounds for our own tissues and food for co-feeding organisms. And this is what supports a healthy immune system that doesn't go haywire, causing hosts of auto-immune conditions in individuals.
  4. Further to (3), the defining of "fiber" is fraught with lots of confusion by use of the terms soluble, insoluble, fermentable, and non-fermentable. What we're really interested in are carbohydrates that are accessible to the microbiota in some biologically active way.
  5. In the simplest terms, these microbiota accessible carbohydrates (MACs) lead to greater microbial diversity, which leads to increased metabolic output, both of which lead to protection from western diseases. Conversely, a low-carbohydrate diet leads to less microbial diversity, less metabolic output, and greater susceptibility to western diseases, particular of an inflammatory or auto-immune nature.
  6. A study comparing Western children in Italy with children in Africa (De Filippo et al., 2010—full text) showed greater microbial diversity, ratios less associated with obesity, and largely increased SFCA production—including a 4-fold greater butyrate and propionate production in the latter, African group. The Africans consumed nearly twice the daily fiber as the Westerners.
  7. Two independent studies (Cotillard et al., 2013 and Le Chatelier et al., 2013) revealed some interesting findings for Westerners. "The 341 combined participants from both studies were comprised of obese, overweight, and healthy individuals and exhibited a bimodal distribution of microbiota gene content: some individuals exhibited low gene count (LGC) and others high gene count (HGC). The LGC group was more insulin resistant and had higher fasting triglycerides, higher LDL cholesterol, and higher markers of inflammation relative to the HGC group. Dietary intervention of 49 obese or overweight individuals (18 from the LGC group and 27 from the HGC group) resulted in loss of fat mass and was accompanied by improvements in clinical markers such as lipid and insulin values, insulin resistance, and measures of inflammation for both the LGC and HGC groups (Cotillard et al., 2013). However, improvements in these clinical markers were most pronounced for the HGC group, indicating that microbiome richness was a predictor of response to diet-induced improvements. Dietary intervention did result in an increase in gene richness in the LGC cohort that approached but still remained significantly lower than the HGC. Together these independent studies indicate that metabolic disease clinical phenotypes are associated with gene content diversity of the gut microbiota and that diet can directly impact this diversity."
  8. Wow (7). The hypothesis about the foregoing is that it mostly comes down to 1) diversity, and 2) the SFCAs produced. Of course, since diversity is the result of a greater intake of fermentable fibers that come from a variety of carbohydrate foods, including starchy plants and legumes, more non-processsed carbohydrates = more SFCAs being produced in the colon. Eating sticks of butter gets you nowhere. These gut-generated SFCAs play a number of diverse regulatory roles in the colon: histone acetylation and signaling through G protein coupled receptors; anti-inflammatory effects; increase the pool of regulatory T cells in the gut; protective of allergic airway inflammation; energy homeostasis; broadly influence metabolism and circulating propionate signals via the afferent nervous system to influence gluconeogenesis in the intestine; protection from diet-induced obesity; and more.

The paper opens its concluding section thusly:

Whether the ancient microbiota is a better microbiota is debatable; however, at least two arguments support this idea: (1) our human genome lacks the plasticity that our microbiota possesses and therefore has not been able to keep pace with the recent profound changes brought on by our modern lifestyle, such as the consequences of a diet very low in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (e.g., low diversity microbiota, less SCFA production); and (2) traditional societies typically have much lower rates of Western diseases (Wirsing, 1985).

All in all, a nice read and reference chase if you can get your hands on it.

Update: New by Chris Kresser, based on a great comment he posted on his blog the other day. It dovetails quite nicely with this post. 7 Things Everyone Should Know About Low-Carb Diets.

Democracy, Labor, Unions: An Exercise in Fucktards, Plebeians, and Noobs

The world has been built on labor. Just ask any mother.

Labor DAY? What? Labor is 24/7/365/250,000, in one way or another. I'd characterize my sleep last night as somewhat laborious. Life is a labor of love. Self love.

But that's just H. sapiens, 250,000 years strong. Of all the Homo species, sapiens are still the shortest survived. So, we'll see. Can we survive ourselves?

...The "Labor Movement" began in the 1800s, but gained steam only after "laborers" were comfortable that there was consolidated, exigent State power to loot the founders of the capital means of the production that made their jobs possible.

It's pretty simple: Resentment. They didn't have the wherewithal, foresight, smarts or gusto to create, invest in, risk, etc. The capital means that allowed them to do more than scratch at dirt—that allowed them to have a  real cut, and "opulence"—like a toilet and running water—better than a 17th Century King—was not enough. That dirt-scrathching, poor immigrants to America going a ways back—before it was largely regarded as The Land of the Free—built kingdoms of jobs that paid out millions...It's just a lucky accident. We'd have done way better with 4.5 million, top-down, federal employees—all LABORING to LOOK OUT FOR YOU!

Important wages are thanks to unions, and not individual value to an enterprise. My goodness. It's such a tough row to hoe: go it alone, vs. gang up, get allies, and loot. LABOR DAY! Fortunately, the Division of Labor reaches to all markets. It's remarkably resilient where people don't want to take the risk of doing their own looting and have immunity-dispensation via law, by means of an euphemism called voting.

...But, by doG, when someone else did risk their own accumulated capital, Laboristas going to go all gift horse on it because they're a "union," now backed by guns, coercion, force. And it will be politically popular, because H. sapiens have replaced the ancient, natural jungle with an asphalt one...and that's "the fault" of those who accumulate capital and risk it, too.

It's so fucking, lafably pathetic.

I make fun of "Labor Day," always have.

  • “Labor Day:” Doing Soviet Better Than the Soviets. Note the charts that show how private sector labor unionism is a pathetic limp dick, compared to how the public-sector has a far more effective hardon for looting from you until your great, great, great, great grandkids pay the bill you voted for them to pay and not you.
  • Labor Day Remembrance and Appreciation. Note how the labor movement began as a way to keep the chinks, dingos, n*ggers, wetbacks, waps, krauts, spuds, etc. out, all safe for WASPs. It's reminiscent of Caesar Chavez, who began his hilariously dumb farm workers union (you can't organize unskilled labor) as a means of keeping out "illegal" wetbacks.

How about Democracy vs. Monarchy?

Before I get to that, let me ask you to ask yourself whether, if presented the question as an experiment in thought, you don't just do this.

baby birds feeding
Do you actually think and consider, or just eat regurgitate?

While I'm an anarchist and support no ruler at all, I've said for many years that I'd take—any day—Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or any number of others as absolute Monarch, to pass down an owned legacy, over the democratically elected pip-squeaks and clowns we have now, as temporary caretakers who loot it because there's nothing to pass down, and all "balance of powers" is a sham that equates to consolidation of looting powers—and if it's to be consolidated, I'd prefer it it one with some measure of human, prideful accountability...and not a fuckatarded committee who literally couldn't design a candle, if they needed to.

...I've known of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, former UNLV professor, for long times. But, just as with Murray Rothbard, I never paid very much attention—just as I eventually decided I could think on my own and didn't need Rand-Jesus, or others, from about 1995ish, onward. That said, this is prescient.

The Failed God: Democracy

...I lafed out loud when I caught Hans-Hermann speak at things that you might find interesting:

  • Confirmation bias and confounding variables at 1:25.
  • How Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the stanchest fathers of democracy, though it would only work in small "commune" circles. At 2:00.

Have at it, fucktards, plebeians, and noobs. But, in terms of the latter point of Hans-Hermann's, see my AHS presentation at EXACTLY 13:00. What did we evolve to account for?

I ask you: who's thinking, and who's just regurgitating their bullshit?

...The "Labor Movement" is a silly, whoring thing. It exists only as a downstream consequence of fascism. That's "capitalism" lite, where the State fools you into thinking that those who accumulate capital and risk it are those necessary-evil bad guys that just need to be controlled: with endless reams of regulations and stacks of paperwork that you pay every penny for in the cost of your goods and services if they turn a penny of profit, a prioi.

..."Coolest" thing is that the best capitalized have legions of lobbyists, making all you union members and voters even more pathetic and foolish. It is so laf. You're such fucktards, plebeians, and noobs, you'll spend a freely-earned dollar to protect a State-penny.

That penny is very valuable, even though it comes at the expense of your soul as a human animal. You got it for free: via nightsticks, guns, long black robes, painted cars, GI Joe fashions, jails, edifice, marble, oak benches, and wannabes that are your favorite people on earth. They're looking out for you, and you believe it.

But it's OK in America, Land of the Free. Your grandkids will pick up the tab. Just enjoy the fact that you LABORED; bemoan that someone got MORE THAN YOU; forget that you didn't accumulate capital and risk it. Just get someone to grab it for you in SOLIDARITY! What a pathetic standard to bear: "I'm going to be as much of a fucktard as the lowest common denominator." SOLIDARITY!

You lived paycheck-to-paycheck, despising those who did otherwise and created the means of your paycheck. You jerked off in public, voting to loot them.

You even wore a sticker on your lapel: "I Jerked Off!" But it's OK—not only because that's your personal business—but because its background is an American Flag, trumping all introspective thought and reflection.

"Voting" — A Big Whopping 1/300 Millionth Say In Your Own Affairs

It's not your fault and neither is it the fault of "capitalists" (none really were, they were just looters using Division of Labor effect). They sought political power to gain advantage over competition in myriad ways, and you did the same to gain political advantage over them. You are both pathetic: false capitalists, false human animals.

Capitalists blame you, you blame capitalists; and the State garners its vote, just as surely as the poker dealer takes a spiff for the house.

...But everyone understands the poker dealer, and they understand the other players in the game.

Only fucktards, plebeians, and noobs don't understand—or outright ignore—the State's interest.

...We live in an entire world of State Enterprise, while we live also in a world of Anarchy that makes literally everything possible—simply because you don't need an executive order—or even one from the city council—to get up every morning and produce a thing or two...whether on your own behalf, or on the behalf of a social circle euphemistically referred to as  a "company."

Or, to nurture an offspring—not yet, anyway...The State has an important interest in the education of its subject zoo humans.

...I can't really say I'm bullish on the prospects of H. sapiens.

Probiotic Fibers And Flatulence; My N=1

Way back in the beginning of experimenting with resistant starch via supplemental potato starch the most common side effect by far was rather impressive amounts of gas, or "fartage," for most people.

Some couldn't tolerate it while others, like myself couldn't help but laugh uproariously. Unless you've experienced it yourself, it's tough to describe the volume and frequency it can induce—and often for a solid day or more. A couple of times, for myself, it was also accompanied by more than mild intestinal discomfort.

But I persisted and over time, it just went away, even with large doses of potato starch. Later, I even added things to my "cocktail" like inulin and fructo-oligo-saccharidesglucomannanbanana flourplantain flour, and took them with my go-to, dirt-based probiotics (Prescript-AssistAOR Probiotic-3, and Primal Defense Ultra). And everything was pretty cool, as relayed here.

A while back, I relayed my experience of being in moving upheaval and eating crappy for about a month. That was in conjunction with taking absolutely no supplements at all, including any of the aforementioned.

Yesterday I got curious. If I supplement the probiotic fibers again, will I be back to fartage square one?

Went and got some raw milk, fresh squeezed orange juice, and some organic apple cider vinegar from a local whole-food co-op here in Placerville, CA. First, I took a shot of the vinegar and chased it with the OJ.

Then I made a cocktail with raw milk as the base and a handy stick blender:

  • 4 TBS Potato Starch
  • 2 TBS Banana Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Inulin/FOS Powder
  • 3 1g-caps Glucomannan

I took it with 1 capsule each of the three probiotics and waited for the fog to roll in. But it didn't. In fact, it never did at all. No foghorn required. I felt fine, clear, and it seemed that I was breathing easier from my nose. The only "negative" I experienced is that I guess I must have been unwittingly retaining water, because from about 9PM, and for the next 12 hours, I must have pissed out a gallon of water. So, here I am, having detailed, lucid dreams (as has been widely reported by others with PS supplementation) about having to take a piss, trying to find a place, having to stand in line, etc. Luckily I managed to wake up (about 10 times) before my turn came up. Incidentally, this was accompanied by absolutely no thirst at all.

So, bottom line is that the bugs that co-feed on the various gases produced by the ones eating all those fibers seem to have taken up long-term residency in my gut. Very interesting indeed, though somewhat disappointing on the entertainment front.

Anyone have similar or different experiences?

Update: Supplemental reading: Does Dirt Make You Happy?

My First Post Is Up At Liberty.Me

Greetings, Fellow Anarchists.

If you'd like to join the gated community with a discount, use FREETHEANIMAL as your coupon. You'll get a discount and they'll hit me with a Hamilton if you do.

The New Nutritional Starvation Diet

Is the horse I'm beating dead, yet?

Well, get it while it's hot, I guess. Dogpile!

So yesterday's installment was about how difficult it is to source a lot of fat from animals in the wild, most places. Duck added a supplemental comment as well.

And, what with Chris Kresser (Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health?) and Tom Naughton (Reactions To Arguments About Ketosis) displaying increasing skepticism over the healthfulness of very low carbohydrate and/or ketogenic diets in perpetuity, let's just keep putting fuel on the fire, shall we?

I've been lightly participating in both comment threads linked above; rather politely, too. There was a comment by "Damocles" this morning I found interesting and to me, offered a clue as to why so many defend ketosis in spite of what it does to glucose tolerance (See Inuit and Stefansson).

From an evolutionary perspective, it makes perfect sense for the body to increase insulin resistance during ketosis.

Its a signal for the body that carbs are very scarce at the moment. So by increasing insulin resistance, cells wich can well burn lipits and ketons refuse to snatch the glucose from the blood, – leaving more for the most important organ: the brain.

As the brain needs (even in ketosis) a certain amount of glucose to funtion.

The insulin resistance in ketosis is a smart allocation of glucose (to the brain), when carbs are coming available, and to not have to rely on gluconeogenesis from proteins.

When carbs come available again regularily, the insulin resistance can be reduced, so all the other cells can uptake this fuel.

Physiologically, he's correct. But here's the problem.


“From an evolutionary perspective, it makes perfect sense for the body to increase insulin resistance during ketosis.”

Yes, this is all very well known and understood, including the fact that some textbooks (I used to have a handy reference) indicate that after a time of adaptation, the brain’s absolute glucose requirement goes down (like from 120-130g per day to ~60).

Here’s your blind spot, though, in my view. This is not an adaptation to ketosis. It’s an adaptation to STARVATION. Ketosis itself is a physiological adaptation to starvation. So-called nutritional ketosis is really a hack designed to get a person into ketosis by means other than fasting or chronic starvation, and in a very odd way: restriction of not just carbohydrate to near nil, but restriction of protein as well. Stop and think about it. How does that even pass anyone’s smell test as a desirable daily state?

I concede that long-term ketosis likely has some therapeutic value, as do a number of pharmaceuticals and other therapies when properly prescribed by a clinician with LOTS OF EXPERIENCE. I also concede, in fact strongly support, the notion that episodic ketosis is likely very beneficial. Autophagy. It’s called fasting and just about every religious tradition includes it in some way for good reasons having nothing to do with pleasing doG.

But, chronic starvation is a bad idea, a priori. I suspect chronic ketosis to model a starvation state through restriction of both carbohydrate and protein at the same time, requiring upwards of 80% fat—that’s pretty vapid in terms of micronutrients—to be an equally bad idea for the vast majority of people the vast majority of the time.

This really falls under the “extraordinary claims” clause. As ought anything so unnatural on its face.

By total happenstance, I got an email from Duck a while later. A link to a review paper from 2003: Low-carbohydrate diets: what are the potential short- and long-term health implications? (Shane A Bilsborough MSc (Nutrition) and Timothy C Crowe PhD; School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia).

I found the section Potential short-term health implications - Ketosis on page 398 quite interesting and posted this follow-up comment (still in Tom's moderation queue at the time of this drafting).

Duck emailed a paper earlier and guess what I happened upon (emphasis mine)? (pg 398)

Studies examining the long-term safety of ketogenic diets are few in number with most of the available data coming from the application of ketogenic diets in the treatment of paediatric epilepsy.18 The diet used in this patient group is a high-fat, adequate protein, low- carbohydrate diet designed to mimic the biochemical changes that occur during starvation. Studies of children who have followed a ketogenic diet for management of epilepsy found that about 50% of children will continue on the diet for at least a year.18 Reasons for discontinuing the ketogenic diet were due to either a lack of efficacy or due to the restrictive nature of food choices. Common adverse events attributed to the diet included dehydration, gastrointestinal symptoms, hypoglycaemia, as well as carnitine and vitamin deficiencies. Cognitive effects, hyperlipidaemia, impaired neutrophil function, urolithiasis, optic neuropathy, and osteoporosis have also been reported to occur in some patients following ketogenic diets.19 In addition, elevation of blood uric acid levels is a well-recognised side effect of prolonged ketosis.7

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. Can everyone agree that remaining in perpetual ketosis by means of restricting BOTH carbohydrate AND protein in order to “mimic the biochemical changes that occur during starvation” is:

1. A-priori unnatural, since the biochemistry in a state of starvation is not a NORMAL physiological state.

2. An extraordinary claim, when asserted as some sort of optimal diet for long term health or weight maintenance.

…Thus, requiring very extraordinary evidence, up to a standard that ought to be absolute proof. Otherwise, everyone out there doing this “nutritional” ketosis nonsense in perpetuity is conducting a massive experiment with zero basis in natural reality.

Just the word itself is a complete scam. “Nutritional.” Let’s see, restrict both macronutrients with the most vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and replace it with the macronutrient with the very least by far of all those things. Call it “nutritional.”

…Alright, now I’m getting angry.

And so, it ought to be renamed so that it'll at least possess the virtue of honesty: "Nutritional Starvation." Taking applications now. 50% off until Labor Day.

Here's one thing to wrap your mind around, in addition to the above. What else goes haywire in a biochemical, metabolic state of starvation besides the glucose tolerance (physiological insulin resistance) that I've hammered on over and over (See Inuit and Stefansson)?

We understand why we get insulin resistance on VLC and/or ketogenic. Preserve glucose for the brain. Why? because it's an absolute requirement and to put it bluntly, our metabolism has evolved to fuck you up in the short-term in order to preserve your long-term survival chances. What else is it willing to fuck you over with in the short term? Speculating, but how about:

  1. Stress hormones. Keeping you alert and on edge, ready to exploit the most meager source of food?
  2. Restorative sleep. Good, restful sleep is for the well fed?

That's just two, but they're biggies if it turns out to be true. Why? Rapid aging, that's why. In the very short term, none of this is a problem, it would make you better prepared for survival, etc. Perfect evolutionary sense.

Another commenter (retired doc) suggested that physiological insulin resistance is no big whoop, and you can just cheat on the test.

...The Inuit failing a glucose tolerance test is a normal finding for someone who’s been in dietary ketosis. This is the cause of the carb-induced brain fog. It’s physiological (i.e. a harmless adaptation). If you’re going to have a GTT and are on a ketogenic diet, you should up your carbs to 150g per day for three days. Otherwise, you are going to appear diabetic when you’re not.

That’s a piece of info I picked up on my reading.

Another thing is that someone on a ketogenic diet may have a slightly higher fasting glucose than he did have. Again, a physiological adaptation.

So, instead of jumping to conclusions, as many of the “anointed” do, look this stuff up.

Well, I happen to have very smart, well-studied, laser-sharp commenters who do look stuff up. But, sometimes, they just call BS when they see it. Here's a regular commenter here, Bret.

To supplement Tom’s reply, it was really Richard’s point that the Inuit were not in ketosis regularly. My point here is that ketosis does not necessarily result in universally excellent biomarkers, the way many unconditional ketosis trumpeters imply. People considering going into chronic ketosis deserve to know the full facts, not just the one-sided view many people give.

On to your retort: So your answer to a post-ketosis BG in the 300s is that the literature says you should up your carbs to 150 g/day for three days? First, I don’t care what any literature says I “should” do. That’s a silly appeal to authority to begin with. Secondly, What is the purpose of a GTT if you are going to modify your normal diet beforehand, other than to pass an insurance physical? Sounds like you’re defending ketosis for the sake of defending ketosis. By the way, what do you think is happening to your BG over those three days, as you prepare for your GTT? If your reaction is like the Inuit’s, then it is hitting the 300s. All to get a good GTT result… Doesn’t sound too smart to me.

Care to elaborate on your point about a higher fasting BG being a physiological adaptation? Much like your previous point, that tells us absolutely nothing useful. Tom’s BG in the 190s was a physiological adaptation of his eating those potatoes. Getting fat from overconsuming refined carbs is a physiological adaptation. Red, inflamed skin from scrubbing yourself with a steel brush is a physiological adaptation. Calling a phenomenon whose cause nobody disputes a physiological adaptation tells us nothing in a debate about the pros and cons of conflicting dietary philosophies. A higher BG is a higher BG in my book, and is not a flattering point in favor of ketosis.

I do not appreciate one bit your suggestion that I have jumped to conclusions, displayed the same attitude as ‘the anointed’, and failed to look this stuff up. Those are all three assumptions, and quite wrong ones, at that.

Of course, in the end it's always about how it works for you, so here's how it worked for Kris.

...I had the same exact high blood glucose reactions as you after adding a little too much starch to my diet. Since I was suffering a few side effects of low-carbing, I figured I was destined for diabetes and possibly even insulin injections because I felt I couldn’t stick to it any longer. At first I started experimenting with eating starches such as potatoes or oatmeal for breakfast, but with minimal fat if any at all, and no protein. I found that I was getting lower and more controlled BG readings… in fact lower than when I was on the LC diet. When the negative side effects of low carb began to disappear, I became more and more relaxed about the carb issue. I must admit, I do feel best when keeping wheat to a minimum and getting most of my carbs from fruits and vegetables, although I will eat some sugar on occasion if I feel like it. Now, whenever I test my BG it is consistently normal. When low-carbing my fasting readings were anywhere from 118-125. Now they are 90ish. I am not meaning to encourage you to make any changes if you feel that what you are doing works for you. I just want to let you know the BG readings may be temporary and perfectly normal for a body that is just not used to eating starches and sugar any longer.

How many times have I heard this same story? It's in the hundreds, now, and it includes literally every friend and family I know that has done LC for a long time and bothered to measure fasting and post-prandial blood glucose. Here's my reply.


“Now, whenever I test my BG it is consistently normal. When low-carbing my fasting readings were anywhere from 118-125. Now they are 90ish.”

This was my experience, my wife’s…other family members. Essentially everyone I know.

In fact, there is a confirmation bias going on in the LC community and I believe it’s used a bit nefariously by some to promote LC diets.

Suppose you’re a couch potato, overweight, completely out of shape, etc. Suppose further that you’re a member of a group that dub themselves VLE – Very Low Exercise. The aim of this group is to consistently keep your heart rate under 100 so as to avoid becoming a “Palpitator.” Any kind of spike is taken very seriously.

Then one day, the elevator is broken, so you get up off your electric scooter and take the stairs. After several flights you note that your heart is racing, so you get out your meter, insert a testing strip (har har! :) and low & behold THEY WERE RIGHT! 250 bpm. YOU’RE PRE-PALPITATOR IF NOT FULL-BLOWN PALPITATOR TYPE 2!


Alright. Keep pounding nails into this Nutritional Starvation coffin, or just bury it alive?

Who Prefigured The Entire Microbiome Revolution?

 Take a look and listen.

He's certainly right about this. But, out of his mind about this.

Hunters Of Wild Game Can’t Remain In Ketosis

Below, I have another Duck Dodgers post for you, derived from a comment on a previous post. But first, you'll recall a recent post; wherein, I made mention of Part 1 of a Catalyst episode on the gut microbiome: Australian Catalyst: Gut Reaction; It Signals The End of VLC and Ketogenic Diets For Everyone. Part 2 is now up and running. See what happens to the athlete's insulin response after just a month on a high fiber diet.

In other news, Tom Naughton, who has always been the kind of guy who can change his mind (evident even in how his views changed during his making of Fat Head), has now solidly come over to the The Dark Side. See: Reactions To Arguments About Ketosis.

Alright, here's Duck.


More nails in the coffin for those who think that it's possible to stay ketogenic while consuming wild game.

From: Energy Source, Protein Metabolism, and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence Strategies

Our concern is with periods of high lean meat (i.e., high protein) consumption, when carbohydrates and animal fat would have been scarce or unavailable to hunters and gatherers as sources of calories… …It should be pointed out, however, that the few minimum values that do exist for wild ungulate meat may nevertheless tend to underestimate somewhat the actual amount of fat available to hunter-gatherers in a carcass, because the values do not include subcutaneous and visceral fat deposits, fat in the bone marrow, and so forth. On the other hand, as will be discussed more fully below, many of these fat reserves may become largely or totally depleted during the winter and spring, bringing the available fat levels more in line with the values for meat alone... ...…Second, hunter-gatherers may augment their supplies of storable fat through labor-intensive activities such as rendering bone grease. Preparation of bone grease involves smashing the bone, heavy limb elements as well as lighter vertebrae and ribs, and then boiling the small pieces of bone in water until the grease is extracted. Grease is skimmed off the water and placed in skin containers to harden. Among nomadic groups lacking pottery, the laborious boiling process is accomplished by heating rocks in a fire and transferring them to a perishable container such as a skin bag that contains the broken-up bones (see Binford 1978 for a description of grease rendering). Commonly, the rendered fat is mixed with an equal proportion of pulverized, jerked lean meat to make pemmican, an energy-rich food that can be stored for several years if kept dry (Stefansson 1956:179, 188).

Interestingly, the study points out how carbohydrate starved cultures would often trade fat or carbohydrates:

Trade for fat or carbohydrate with other populations provides another widely practiced alternative. For example, Nunamiut Eskimos who relied heavily on caribou for subsistence annually traded for fat and seaweed with coastal-dwelling Taremiut (Gubser 1965; Spencer 1959; Eidlitz 1969:50). The same situation obtained for inland Athabascan groups who traded skins, blankets, and tools to Eskimo and Northwest Coast populations in return for seal, whale, or oulachen oil (Olson 1936; Birket-Smith and de Laguna 1938; People of ‘Ksan 198089ff.; Kuhnlein et al. 1982).

The study goes on to conclude...

In this paper we have focused on alternative strategies open to hunter-gatherers to cope with nutritional deficiencies which occur seasonally in environments where ungulate meat forms the principal available resource in late winter and spring. In environments where alternative, fattier species such as beaver, raccoon, or migratory waterfowl are normally available in the spring, heavy reliance on lean ungulate meat and its associated nutritional problems might nevertheless occur periodically during “bad” years in which the number of smaller game animals is significantly depressed. It is also possible that such reliance may occur chronically in areas of the subarctic where caribou constitute the primary, year-round subsistence resource (cf. Burch 1972). Thus, while the emphasis of our discussion has been on the consequences of recurrent, winter - spring reliance on ungulate meat, the susceptibility of populations to the deficiencies discussed above actually ranges over a continuum from periodic to seasonal to chronic, depending on the frequency with which lean ungulate meat constitutes a major part of the hunter-gatherer diet. In addition, these same arguments may be extended to situations in which climatic, environmental, demographic, or other changes lead to long-term reductions in available energy. Under such conditions, selection may favor a permanent shift in the subsistence strategies of hunters and gatherers toward greater emphasis on carbohydrate resources. The apparent increase in reliance on plant foods in many parts of the world following the end of the Pleistocene might profitably be explored from this perspective. The greater protein-sparing capacity of carbohydrate under conditions of marginal calorie or protein intake may also help to explain why hunter-gatherers in the early Holocene began to invest time and energy cultivating plants, despite the meager returns many of these cultigens would have provided in their early stages of domestication. Similarly, a long-term increase in the availability of carbohydrates, due, for example, to the introduction of a cultivated plant species, may alter the importance to hunter-gatherers of animal fat, and may lead to permanent changes in the animal species they procure, the parts they select during butchering and processing, the importance of marrow production and grease rendering, and the season of the year they hunt or trap. The inadequacies of a lean-meat diet and the noninterchangeability of fat and carbohydrate clearly open a number of interesting avenues of research that remain to be explored in detail.

As we can see, game meat is just too lean to support ketosis. The idea that you can stay in ketosis from eating wild game, when food is scarce, isn't supported by the scientific literature. And for those who are still not convinced, here's a study showing how little fat can be extracted from reindeer/caribou.

From: Body growth and carcass composition of lean reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus L.) from birth to sexual maturity

Body growth and carcass composition were measured in lean reindeer during the juvenile growth period between birth and 3 years of age. Mean carcass weight in these lean reindeer was 56 ± 4% of body weight and the deposition of body muscle and bone mass was linearly correlated with body weight after the 1st month of age. The weight of the brain relative to body weight and carcass weight declined, while the relative changes in heart, liver, kidneys, parotid glands, and tissues of the gastrointestinal tract were small after the neonatal period. The extractable fat content in carcasses increased from 4.4 to 11.4% of wet weight or approximately 100g fat at birth and 3.5 kg fat in adult reindeer. Fat-free dry matter represented a constant percentage (18–20%) of wet carcass weight independent of body weight after the neonatal period, while a significant inverse relationship between carcass fat and body water was found.


'Aint science a bitch? The bottom line: there is simply too little fat available in the wild to be in a constant state of ketosis. It requires modern processing to have enough fat at fingertips at all times, 24/7. Everybody has to eat something, so deficiencies are going to be made up by lean protein and/or carbohydrate but most certainly both most of the time.

All this other stuff is Mother Goose Fantasy. Chronic ketosis simply has no basis in any population of earthlings anyone knows about. Ketosis is likely beneficial episodically, i.e., during an intermittent fast, just as we're metabolically designed by means of evolution.

By the way, does this story sound familiar? If you're a woman and hit some of the LC/VLC forums, it sure should because these sorts of health problems are epidemic.

Mari says:
August 27, 2014 at 10:18

Hi, I am very new to the idea of RS, but I have been eating VLC for almost 4 years. I lost 80 pounds, but gained back 50, even though I have remained LC for the majority of that time. I have tried many different methods to add carbs back in to my diet, but I can’t seem to get past the 30 grams a day mark. Any time I do, about 30 to 45 minutes after I eat, my heart rate shoots up from my normal 75 bpm to over 100, all while seated. I do not check my blood sugar. I have read some info about incorporating RS into my diet to help my gut bacteria and to possibly allow me to tolerate more carbs in my diet. I already try to incorporate homemade kefir and fermented vegetables in my daily diet, but I now realize eating VLC doesn’t really give the probiotics in the kefir and vegetables much to eat. I would love to use potato starch in my diet, but I have Hashimotos disease and I am supposed to stay away from night shades, so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to eat that. I did buy a jar of Now Foods Nutraflora FOS, thinking it was equivalent to the RS in potato starch, but reading most of the comments here, I realize that it is not. What I would like to know is if the nutraflora will help, or if I should try something else? I would love to be able to not have to eat VLC anymore. I am constantly exhausted, freezing cold and now the only way I can drop any weight is by staying under 1700 calories, in addition to staying under 30 carbs. When I told my endocrinologist about my problems with weight loss, he just prescribed me an appetite suppressant, which is the only way I can stay under 1700 calories. You all seem extremely educated in this realm, so I turn to you for some advice. Thank you :)

She's been referred to this recent post on Chris Kresser's blog: Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health?

May saner minds prevail.