I got a pleasant and unexpected surprise a few weeks back.
Here was the post: “Protein is the New Carbohydrate,” and Why to Ditch the Low-Carb Catechism (Sorry Jimmy). Basically, I was poo-pooing the notion that the reason high fat combined with relatively high protein in a low-carbohydrate setting has proven problematic for so many is because of gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of glucose from protein), and not simply the more obvious explanation of eating too much, too often. And Regina of Weight of the Evidence demonstrates that, at least in the case of Jimmy: So Much for Cake, Let Them Eat Steak.
Wait a minute!
That’s not just reduced protein, it’s also less fat, and a significant reduction in calories! […]
And if that isn’t enough to get you to think about it, consider this – to lose 50 pounds in six months, the boogeyman calorie theory holds that one would need a calorie deficit of about 1,000 calories a day.
Jimmy’s calories are not precisely thae same each day, but if you subtract 2650 from 3756, you get 1106 calories a day less than he was eating at baseline.
Now look up – Jimmy is in range of the calorie deficit that explains his weight loss, with less calories, less fat and less protein.
This is a good thing. I’m happy for Jimmy.
In many ways, the whole goalpost moving of the LC paradigm strikes me as similar in form to The Dragon in My Garage, by Carl Sagan.
…And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.
Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
After Robb Wolf put out that tweet, we had a brief email exchange and he told me he was getting ready to blog about issues he has come to have with the Low-Carb diet as most commonly promoted which, I would characterize as: “calories don’t count so long as one keeps the carbohydrate (all carbohydrate) low to very low to ketogenic.”
And so he did:
- Low Carb And Paleo: My Thoughts Part 1
- My Thoughts On Low Carb And Paleo, Part Deux
- My Thoughts On Low Carb And Paleo Episode 3: A New Hope
Let me interject something. When I posted my kinda New Year’s post and vowed to distance myself from “the drama,” a vow I fully intend to uphold, I think some people mistakenly assumed that also meant the sane, appropriate, needed, healthy debate over the efficacy of low carb in general and how it’s pitched so often. I trust those who were around will know what dramas I was actually talking about.
In that same post I also wrote:
I’m going to go all Robb Wolf on you, but without the background science. Seriously. Robb is kinda my preeminent conscience, in that I need to focus on helping the same sorts of dying and debilitated folks I’ve helped over the years.
Here’s why I wrote that, not only the whole overtone of Part Deux of Robb’s series, but this quote in particular.
So my grand take-away from all this:
- Some people are incapable of learning and change.
- Some people are assholes who snipe from the Peanut Gallery while not lifting a finger to better the world around them.
- The vast majority of people are fucking righteous and if we know something that can help them, that could improve the world, we have a moral imperative to do something to help. (How do I have morals, yet am not religious? Hmm?)
Someday I’ll farm coconuts, but it wont happen until our medical and food production systems have dramatically changed and there are enough people who know about this Evolutionary Medicine schtick that our kids and grand kids will have things better than we have them.
Yep. I started this whole thing to help myself and others and that’s damn well what I’m absolutely going to get back to focussing on. And in the end, Robb, like me, is an advocate of Low-Carb intervention—either as a whole dietary lifestyle or, short-to-medium or cyclical interventions. I regularly have LC days and often enough, ZC meals.
A final quote from Robb, the last bit of Episode 3.
What I take from this is “If one TRULY stays in ketosis, is it IMPOSSIBLE to over eat?” My gut instinct is to say “No, I can find you people who can over eat, even in “nutritional ketosis.” But this is an opinion, I have no RCT to back this up. What I find intriguing from the simple interface of coaching/helping people is: How is this ANY easier/better than the basic eyeball method I have outlined in, again, my book, quick start guides etc. How much DETAIL will be necessary to guarantee we remain in nutritional ketosis? I hear the food scale getting pulled out, right along with the measuring cups. This seems neither easier nor better, and as I’ve said elsewhere, food neurosis REALLY kicks in when folks start scrutinizing their food as is typical in the CrossFit world of the Zone, or in what would be necessary to fit the standards here of ensuring nutritional ketosis. This feels vaguely of trying to make some kind of religious ritual produce a measurably beneficial effect in the real world…perhaps I’m missing something, but this line of inquiry seems to be valiantly trying to find a way to make ketosis magic.
I hope this helps clear up some of the drama around LC and Paleo. I see the evolutionary template as a means of making informed decisions about how we eat and live to optimize performance, health, and longevity. I see LC as a tool to be used for specific situations, and to achieve specific goals. Hopefully, a day will come when NONE of this is controversial or still adhered to with religious dogmatism. Someday ketone-ringer solution will be the go-to IV for folks with TBI. Ketogenic diets will be used in conjunction with standard chemo and radiation to not only fight cancer, but protect normal tissue from the damage these blunt force tools offer. Primary care physicians will recognize the therapeutic value of LC for insulin resistance. World champion athletes will still, for the most part, be carb fueled.
Remember, hammers are just as important and valuable as screw drivers. It just depends on what the project is and what we are trying to do.
So no drama. It’s a tool, a valid tool. May be a tool some people have to avail themselves of every day, some every few days and others just might not need it at all. But regardless of when it’s used, let’s keep the food real and most particularly, sources of carbohydrate and to a lesser extent, fat. I.e: No Hot-fucking-Pockets!
I initially talked about the LC vs FR controversy or debate shortly after AHS11 on Angelo Coppala’s Latest in Paleo Podcast on the 5by5 network. My take there, was as it remains: I see merits in the arguments of both Gary Taubes and Stephan Guyenet, merits that are mutually complimentary once one isn’t wedded to one exclusive set of arguments over the other. I think both are right about some things, wrong about some things. Over time, we’ll learn better which ones.
Since then, in addition to blogging about using more white rice and potatoes in meals and seeing how various things worked and didn’t work for me, I eventually realized that calories are simply important, they count: Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count.
Subsequently, I sought to find common ground from various positions: Synthesis: Guyenet, Colpo, Calories Count, Food Quality Matters, Macronutrient Ratios are Qualitative.
Then there’s the multiple hypotheses approach: Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) and Multiple Alternative Hypotheses and Dr. Peter Attia and NuSI (Nutritions Science Initiative).
Fortunately, throughout the whole deal, I have managed to maintain cordial and friendly dialog with: Taubes, Guyenet, Peter D., Colpo, Attia, Moore, Wolf and others who have taken positions to one side or the other. I intend to keep it that way.
…Of course, then there’s the recent potato diet experiment, where I and many others were able to drop roughly 10 pounds, give or take, in the space of a couple of weeks or so—without being hungry and eating as much potato (minimal added fat or protein) as desired.
Doesn’t this kinda falsify the hypothesis that carbs make you fat, per se? No, some LC / insulin hypothesis advocates say, because it tuns out that most people were in a significant caloric deficit. So isn’t this kind of a have your cake & eat it too explanation?
Well, yes, it is. What’s being argued is that if you eat lots of carbohydrate but are in a caloric deficit and lose weight, it’s because of the calories; but if you eat lots of carbohydrate and are in excess calories and gain weight, it’s because of the carbohydrates.
Really! This is the new logical insight into the debate that The Potato Diet has brought to light. Some just haven’t realized, yet, that they’re trying to have it both ways. How many remember back when GCBC was first published and saw Gary’s long lecture about it with the slides? …How it was touted that Pima could become obese on only 2,000 kcal or less per day of mostly carbohydrate in the form of white flour & sugar? Well, this doesn’t seem to hold for potatoes, so there’s something wrong with that notion somewhere. Let’s find out!
I propose a simple new starting point.
- First and foremost, eat real food vastly most of the time. Don’t count anything. Use your head instead. The rest that follow are all either/or. Don’t do the same thing every day, or even every meal.
- Eat high carb sometimes like potatoes or other starchy vegetables, or white rice. When you do, take it very easy on the fat & protein. Think Asian here, even if using potatoes instead of rice.
- Eat high fat sometimes, like heavy cream, avocados, dark chocolate, Fat Bread & butter, coconut butter, etc. When you do, keep the carbs AND protein low. Think Peter Ds “Optimal Diet,” here.
- Eat high protein sometimes. When you do, keep the carbs and fat low. If the meat is fatty (like ribs), no added fat and if it’s lean, sensible added fat for flavor, not swimming. Keep to non-starchy vegetables and don’t give your lettuce swimming lessons in olive oil.
- Eat it all in modest balance, like Paul Jaminet’s The Perfect Health Diet.
In the end, sorry, but I think a certain level of “gluttony” does have something to do with it. Telling people that they can eat as much meat swimming in fat as they absolutely want so long as they keep carbohydrate low is the wrong message medically and metabolically, but perhaps mostly so, it’s the wrong message for a species so marvelously successful that now he can actually eat absolutely as much meat swimming in fat as he can and wants.
Alright…now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy ribs & chicken to cook up for this afternoon’s defeat of the Green Bay Packers at the able hands of the San Francisco 49ers.
So, yea…hey, and…yea, uh…if you like it and think people need to read it, why don’t we just let’s just go ahead and put it out there on those social channels, K? That’d be great. Uh, yea, Buttons to help you right there below. …And don’t forget that cover page on those TPS reports, m’kay?… Did you get the memo? …Alright. That’d be great!