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Research on Being

Reassessing Some Dietary Paradigms

Well, on a whim I listened to Jimmy Moore’s interview with CarbSane due to the sensationalism of the title heading. Now I had heard of CarbSane before but I thought she was just some random person with a personal blog about her low carb diet progress and not a trained scientist with a critique of Gary Taubes’s logic in Good Calories, Bad Calories. Well, let’s just say that some of my views have changed. I still believe that a low-moderate carb whole foods Paleo style diet is where it’s at but some of the underlying reasons behind this that I held after reading Good Calories, Bad Calories no longer seem tenable or have been replaced by other ideas. After listening to the interview I basically blew through some of CarbSane’s blog posts on the topic in addition to James Krieger’s piece on insulin and some of the articles over at Lyle McDonald’s website and they seem to have some interesting points.

For the most part, the biggest issues taken against Taubes seems to be his logic of caloric deficits not being needed for weight loss and the role of insulin in the body. I believe CarbSane was accurate in characterizing Taubes as inconsistent inasmuch as it comes to the role of calories in weight since he seems to imply in some parts of his book that calories don’t count at all while in other parts he seems to imply that, in practice, they don’t matter since these weight loss diets have such a high factor of satiety that calories are cut spontaneously. There is obviously a huge difference between these two positions as one accepts that calories in and calories out matter whereas one does not.

James Krieger’s article basically takes issue with the demonization of insulin in many low carb circles (including those surrounding Taubes) and with the idea that insulin and, by extension, carbs are somehow uniquely fattening in some way. He argues that insulin acts as a regulating hormone that tells the liver to stop secreting glucose when glucose is being ingested and helps increase uptake of glucose in the cells while also suppressing hunger. In other words, insulin’s function is not seen as bad but necessary and he also shows that its elevation does not last very long and that foods on low carb diets (such as dairy and meat) also cause insulin to increase. At the end of the article, one basically comes away with the idea that insulin is not the most important factor in cells taking up fat and that a more damaging problem is not insulin so much as very high blood sugar levels which are not, in fact, the same, which is shown by the fact that some foods with a high insulin response have a small effect on blood sugar versus other foods with the same insulin response.

So if calories do matter and insulin isn’t the bad guy does this mean that you should go on a grain binge or something? Of course not. What it does mean is that insulin response is not the primary factor in determining what effect on body composition a food is going to have and that simply getting rid of carbs is not going to magically change your body compositions because of hormonal balances changing. It may still seem to magically change your body composition among other things but that will be happening for different reasons. First of all, quality of carbs matter and it seems that many refined carbsĀ  are both less filling and more energy dense than other foods thus increasing caloric intake very easily. Secondly, grains are full of anti-nutrients and other toxins which can create problems so it still makes sense to limit or eliminate them but it seems that overall, as long as your carbs come from fruits, vegetables, or rice there shouldn’t be much of a problem. If you’re trying to lose weight you should still limit carbs, however, mostly because your body will burn more fat if glucose from carbs are not available as an energy source. It seems that if you want to reduce caloric intake it makes the most sense to change what foods you’re eating so that you get full and get the full balance of necessary nutrients from a smaller amount of food. What this means is that you need to eat more of foods that are highly satiating and which can suppress hunger for longer. What this means is basically that if you eat more protein, fat, and fiber on a diet then you should spontaneously decrease your caloric intake as these are all highly satiating. I also believe that though eating carbs with fat isn’t a problem in and of itself as far as how the body processes it, that specific combination is probably easier to overconsume because it is highly palatable.

So, right now I would an say ideal diet for weight loss would be biased towards meat, fat, and fiber (fibrous vegetable) consumption in order to produce spontaneous caloric reduction. If the diet is not for weight loss then it no longer matters so much what you eat in what ratio so long as you avoid fake foods (artificial and processed foods) and high toxin foods (vegetable oils, legumes (except lentils), nuts (except chestnuts), grains (except rice)) and get a good balance of raw, cooked, and fermented foods.

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Filed under: Diet, Insulin, Macronutrients, Taubes, Weight loss, , ,