Earlier in the year Jimmy Moore graciously invited me in for a second podcast, the subject being the perceived “impatience” the Low Carb movement was beginning to encounter as a relative mainstay of the Paleo (Real Food) movement. I had just published this: Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count.
I wished to be a gracious guest, shoot a few points and observations, be conciliatory, and not be too controversial—something I reserve for this blog…something, over which, I have exclusive control and owe no one anything. But I’m not a Jimmy Moore basher, never have been, and still resist anything of that nature to the best of my ability. Why? Because he and others consistently seem to help people in real and profound ways. No interest in silly attempts at derailing that.
…I’m not a good marketeer. Never have been. I suck, actually. Truth told, I hate trying to sell anything except in the rare circumstance where the value equation is so profound as to be obvious. In other words, if a product or service can’t “sell itself”—and you’re just the messenger—then I have little interest. Who wants to try to make a living being either embarrassed, or a sheister?
But I learned one essential thing from accomplished marketeers. The A/B test. Let’s say you want to sell something. You create a bunch of different ad copy, commercials, or even scripts for salespeople. Then you track results. The one that consistently outperforms best becomes ‘A’. That’s your baseline; and then you proceed in never ending fashion to create a series of ‘B’ copy to test against ‘A’, and when some ‘B’ consistently outperforms ‘A’, then ‘B’ becomes the new ‘A’. Wash, rinse, repeat, endlessly. Continuous improvement process. Obvious, but timeless qua rational process.
So as much as I hate to try and sell stuff that can’t manage to sell itself, this marketing process has implications beyond selling widgets, information, services. Like, life? Like, diet? Like, exercise? Like, individually construed? …And that’s essentially what I’ve done over the years since 2007 when this all began. Initially, all I really knew was LC. That was my ‘A’. But I didn’t name the blog “Low Carb X” or “X Low Carb.” I named it Free the Animal (it was named “HonestyLog” for years prior, “UncommonSense,” prior to that). I hate closed-ended stuff. Things always change and eventually, you’ll have to either become dishonest to prop up your diminishing paradigm, or dump all the hard work. Im always about the open-ended. And I just became even more open ended when I changed the tagline on the blog from something about weight & fat loss on a Paleo diet to “social commentary on the human animal condition.” Wide open integration of all relevant and available facts. That’s the only deal for me.
Yea, I know…Hard to keep a loyal audience that way. Fuck ’em. Out with the old, in with the new. That’s what I always say.
…I have this frequent commenter who’s an ‘eat less move more (or moore)’ kinda guy and he pretty much hates Jimmy, loves an insane miscreant woman, etc. But, he has adapted to me over the months and he rarely goes over the line. Sometimes, often, I yawn at his stuff and he gets plenty of shit from other commenters because he basically sings but one song. At any rate, he did clue me in to a section of a speech Jimmy just gave in Australia to some LC conference or some such thing. Even LowCarb Woo couldn’t take it.
This should begin at the right spot, but if not, it’s 21:10 into the video.
So after mulling this over, here’s what I think.
What next? First, it’s carbs you can’t eat—ALL carbs, no distinction. And now, what? Protein can be just like carbs? It’s chocolate cake? Well, at least that leaves fat and alcohol. Sure, fat is an important macro in natural form that affords metabolic and hormonal benefit, beyond just energy. But it’s also not particularly nutritious in terms of essential vitamins and minerals either—the purest grass fed and pastured notwithstanding.
And so I just have to conclude that I really am dealing with a dogma here, attemtpting to explain away the obvious for the sake of the dogma itself…and perhaps, the name of the website, all the books, relationships, allegiances and alliances, etc. Yea, I know. “I told you so.” But I don’t operate like that. I lost 60 pounds doing LC in a paleosphere. Hard to dismiss. When I hit 175 with cold hands & feet in the winter, not feeling particularly great, I was still not one to lash out and proclaim that LC and all of its advocates are full of shit.
As impatient as I am to call out deserved BULLSHIT immediately, I’m the opposite when it comes to things I think don’t deserve my standard treatment. I’m a huge practitioner of discrimination and distinction in the classic sense. So I just needed to figure this out for myself, attain a first hand level of confidence, if not certainty—even if it took years, which it did.
Well, call me confidently certain. I’m going to save all I’m learning about the VHC (very high carb) way of doing things for later. For now, I’m officially classifying LowCarb as nothing more than a good diet hack. It’s certainly appropriate long term for diabetics and the super metabolically deranged, but for just normal weight loss or weight maintenance? No, and in fact, most are going to find the potato hack far superior for reasons I’ll address over the space of time. (I still do think a more meaty, fatty, LC approach is best for the obese or significantly overweight, until you stall—it’s more nutritious, plain and simple.)
So in the end, what we have is a dietary regime (LC) which has been shown in study after study to spontaneously reduce caloric intake substantially. But that’s not why people lost weight. “It’s the carb restriction.” Then, when they stall and find that eating ad libitum fatty steaks smothered in butter alongside cauliflower mashed with butter, cream and cheese, they gain weight, it’s….it’s….it’s…TOO MUCH PROTEIN!
It’s never, ever about simply eating less for whatever reason you have been satiated or motivated to do so. Conversely, weight gain in an LC environment is explained by…uh, wait, has it ever been explained? Oh, yea, just now: it’s the protein.
It is to laf.
It always comes back to evolution and the subtile science behind it; science grasped by few…and it must be said that many LCers retain the LC moniker and only court Paleo because they just can’t identify themselves as evolutionists (yea, I admit: a huge problem unto itself). Remember, 40-45% of Americans not only don’t believe in evolution (that would be about 80%, I think), but believe in Young Earth Creationism.
The whole ketosis deal—now “nutritional” ketosis—is instructive, but I’ll save that for a bit. You see, everyone lives in a man-made world, the makings of which they attribute to a God, in whose image they have been made.
Thus, man didn’t create the concept of species as a classification convenience (while someone proclaims that turtles don’t evolve into dogs), God did; a handed down, unchangeable reality. Alas, sorry, but speciation is man made and in many respects is inconsistent and in some unintentional respects, arbitrary. All we really know is that in pure nature, there are cells. And there are organisms made up of colonies of cells. We also know that most cells reproduce asexually, some organisms reproduce asexually, and most organisms reproduce sexually (yippee for us!!!); and even, that some sexual reproduction is an evolutionary dead end (see mules, ligers, tigons, etc.).
In the same way that creationists have a stumbling block in terms of the concept of speciation, so they treat ketosis. Ketones are by-products of fat metabolism. The myth is that restricting carbohydrates “puts you into ketosis.” But as human organisms, we’re always metabolizing. We’re metabolizing alcohol, carbohydrate, protein and fat. All the time. Everyone is always “in ketosis.”
So what you really mean—isn’t it?—is just that you want more ketones, right? Or, to just state it FUCKING PLAINLY: you want to burn more fat?
OK, and because I’m always happy to help, here’s how:
- Restrict carbohydrate drastically
- Restrict protein drastically
- Restrict fat drastically
- Restrict food (calories) drastically
- Restrict any combination of the above drastically
Get it? Because carbs are conveniently high up on the hierarchy of what your body metabolizes first, it’s the most obvious choice for most. And, in fairness, people love meat & fat, so there’s a palatability element. Unfortunately, the very valid hack that implies has turned into an industry that just won’t quit or restrain itself—and seems to be intent on spreading its religious-like dogma far and wide.
“Nutritional ketosis” is a non-concept piled upon an existing non-concept.
There, I said it.
Update: Unfortunately, LLVLC Forum members seemed to have missed the message (or, more likely, didn’t read the post). It’s not about LC, Ketosis, blunting gluconeogenneis being BAD. It’s about misattribution of cause to effect. I clarify more in comments below in case that’s useful for anyone to help understand my central theme here.