Monday, September 08, 2008

My response to more anti-low-carb nonsense

Calories eaten yesterday: 1241
Fat: 32g (23%)
Carbs: 83g (26%)
Protein: 161g (51%)
Weight this morning: 136.8 (One week ago: 135)
Calories burned in exercise today: 332

As you can see from my weight I have been off plan so much lately that I am steadily gaining. Thankfully there shouldn't be any more "special" days for a while now so I can work on getting this excess weight off.

I did one hour of lower body weight training followed by 30 minutes on the crossramp elliptical. I walked to work from the train station for a little extra exercise.

Ok, today's post is going to be a rant about carbs and the anti-low-carb nonsense out there.

The following is from a discussion on Flickr, where PhillyFoto (a frequent commenter on my photos) said that my YouTube diet videos are "misinformed" and that we need carbs for energy (he probably commenting on this video).

The following is my reply to him, taken verbatim from the discussion below the photo. I have only fixed some spelling errors. If it seems disjointed, you might want to read his comments first.

First, the frozen yogurt above (this photo) is low-carb - i.e. NO SUGAR. That's why I get the toffee nut instead of the chocolate because only the toffee nut has no sugar.

Second, I binge on high carb foods because humans are hardwired to crave sweets. Back in hunter/gatherer days that sugar was few are far between. Today it is everywhere around us and we as a nation are addicted. Wheat actually is PHYSICALLY addictive and when I started Atkins I went through physical withdrawals like any drug addict (just milder).

Carbs are the one macronutrient that is not necessary. I would not recommend a zero carb diet (because veggies are good for us with vitamins and fiber), but I know of people who eat no carbs whatsoever and they are alive and well.

We NEED fat and protein. Do a zero fat or zero protein diet and you will diet. Eat too little of those things and you'll die. Eat zero carbs or very few and you will not die. The traditional Inuit diet was 97% animal based with a few berries only in summer. They thrived on this diet until modernization came in with all the fast foods restaurants and such.

There are essential fats and essential proteins (amino acids), but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. I dare anyone to produce just one essential carb that we need to stay alive.

I don't starve my body of carbs. I currently eat about 100 net grams a day, mostly from vegetables, salads, and dairy (I eat a ton of cottage cheese). But I will NEVER go back to how I used to eat.

The more carbs I eat, the more I crave them. When I cut back, I actually have reduced cravings. Binges have more to do with psychological addiction (I like the taste) rather than a physical addiction (which I have broken).

Run down and sickly on just fat and protein? Actually, after the initial body shock, I felt great. I ate a few carbs in the form of veggies and salads - maybe 30g a day total. Those menus are still online. During that time I regularly went to the gym and carried on with my normal life. I felt fine, and my blood tests showed I was perfectly healthy. I have those numbers posted online somewhere, too. No clogged arteries and my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers were great. And diet recommends trans fat. Atkins bans that fat entirely and teaches you how to spot it hidden in products.

The only time I purposefully fuel up on carbs for energy is the day before the annual 12k race. As you said, carbs give energy. Actually, they give EASY energy. The body can burn fat and protein for energy, too, it just takes more calories to make that conversion.

I have read and studied this issue at length and read five low-carb diet books, plus a few more general diet books. I have picked up quite a bit of information on nutrition and know what is essential and what is not. So, no, I'm not misinformed. I just look beyond what the media and dietitians tell us. The government recommendations are what they go by and the government is lobbied heavily by the grain industry. I like to look deeper and learn about how macronutrients are processed by the body. For example, the liver can balance blood sugar much better than the pancreas. It's the difference between a gentle tap vs. banging away with a sledgehammer.

By the way, I eat 6 snacks a day. I'm hypoglycemic and at risk for diabetes if I don't watch my carbs (predisposition and family history). If it weren't for Atkins I would very likely be diabetic by now. That diet literally saved my life.

Let's get one thing straight, dear readers, we do not need carbs for energy. The body is perfectly capable of running on protein and fat. We are designed to eat a diet high in fat and protein with only some carbs.

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