Whats eating Mckeating? Part 1 low carb diets
Posted on 9th February 2020 at 20:47
This war shall not stop at this article, it has dragged on for years before and It’ll continue to drag on for many eons after.
For so long has there been ongoing back and forth intense debates around low carb diets, In this article I hope to state my position clearly based on evidence to back up my present conclusions, however I am just a small voice on this stage with only a few readers, on the opposing side are those of seemingly strong opposition and of considerable influence.
One such person is the famous South African Professor Tim Noakes (famous in Sports science circles). Prior to his strong voiced opinions on low carb diets he was a lead researcher on exercise induced hypernatremia (dilution of sodium during prolonged endurance exercise) and had come up with the central governor theory which I have found super helpful in helping clients adapt to exercise programs, progress with exercise and learn to manage pain.
“If we understand that too much sugar in the blood is toxic, why can’t we understand that too much sugar in the body is also toxic?”
-Tim Noakes (I’ll be explaining why this quote is wrong at a later point)
It’s unfortunate then that he should go onto become a low carb advocate to the extent that he was held to account after a dietician complained about him tweeting advice to a Mother that she should wean her baby onto a low carbohydrate, high fat foods. Even sadder than this, he also once re-tweeted to his 40,000 followers the anti- vaccine nonsense which has become so pervasive in today’s public forum.
Then we have the “science” journalist Gary Taubes, author of Good calories, bad calories and the case against sugar. He has 80,000 followers on twitter and his books have been sold in the millions. His opinion is that calories are irrelevant and that carbohydrates are the cause of obesity.
In the UK we have doctor David Unwin, number 9 on the power fifty list of by non-other than GP magazine plus. Dr. Unwin has been awarded a prize by diabetes UK for his work in helping diabetics manage their condition through a low carb lifestyle. He uses info graphs such as the one below to highlight the sugar content of certain foods.
So in this example, a 150g serving of basmati rice contains the eqivelant of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
I’ll be delving into why this kind of stuff is an issue during this article but let me just state right now that 150g of basmati rice and 10 teaspoons of sugar are two very completely different entities, and that not only can people with diabetes enjoy foods like basmati rice, peas, bananas and (gasp) bread, these can even be helpful for management of their diabetes so long as they are part of a calorie controlled plan.
A 1975 weight loss study with 106 participants where put on a high carb low calorie diet, they ate mostly rice, fruit juice and sugar and yet still managed to lose considerable weight (average 63.9kg) and improve their blood sugar making it an effective treatment for diabetes.
Rewind the clock
A few weeks back I gingerly stepped out of my nervous little shell and revealed my angelic operatic voice to the World in order to explain the misconceptions around Low carb dieting.
In case you missed it.
So, in the face of all opposition to this subject, I decided I had better elaborate, as it seems that for some people there are things that can’t be explained properly through a one man duel operatic badly edited performance.
This article will debunk many of the common myths around low carb diets.
Before I continue, I’ll state this much.
There is nothing wrong or inherently bad about low carb diets.
For some people they work great, they can be simple and easy to follow, and they might even help with some medical conditions, including reducing frequency of seizures in epileptics, and there is potentially some benefit to cancer patients, although the jury is still out as I understand it.
My beef is with the way these diets are sold, how carbs are demonized and why these plans are chosen when more suitable options might be available.
The diet industry is an epic War zone of confusion with various zealots from different camps of nutrition preaching the ways of their one true god.
The low carb God goes by many different names…
Keto/ low carb/ Atkins/ paleo/ south beach diet etc etc.
These all seem to be based on the following premises.
Carbs are bad
Carbs make you fat/ cause ill health
When insulin is raised it prevents fat breakdown, therefore, to lose fat you must not raise insulin by eating carbs.
High carb diets lead to diabetes and reducing carbs can reverse diabetes.
It is high carbs, not high calories that cause weight gain (Gary Taubes)
Sugar is addictive, our increasing intake of sugar is causing our increase in diabetes and obesity.
These claims and others are touted as written in stone by low carb disciples, but alas, the king has no clothes, these arguments don’t hold any water when we interrogate them properly and use the power of evidence to shine a light on the lofty dark lies of a low carb life.
This article is for the average overweight person who hates their lardy ass and is concerned about those pains they keep getting in their chest, this whole nonsense just creates more confusion and it creates complexity where simplicity is needed.
Working with so many clients over the years, I’ve often had people approach me with Catholic guilt to confess that they’ve eaten a potato, or meekly admitting to having ate some bread.
FFS can we get some perspective.
Shall we go on?
Let’s address the following
Carbohydrates are bad
Insulin is the root cause of obesity
Sugar is evil
It’s carbs, not calories which matter for weight loss
Carbohydrates are bad?
A couple of years ago I had a new client come to see me wanting to lose weight, he turned up for his first session and we sat down to discuss what his life situation is like so that I might be able to get a clear picture of the challenges that he faced and work with him to find a solution.
He lived by himself and worked from Monday to Friday sat at a desk for long stints. His breakfast was usually something from the roadside van, an egg and bacon butty and a cup of tea with three sugars. Lunch was usually a supermarket deal sandwich, bag of crisp, chocolate bar and a fizzy drink. When he came in late at night, he couldn’t be bothered to cook so usually got a takeaway. On the weekends he usually met up with friends and had an all-day drinking session.
I don’t like to point out the obvious, its far more empowering for a person to voice the issue they have and to own it, so I asked him where he thought he could improve his diet.
He looked at me with all seriousness and said “I have been eating a lot of fruit lately, and I’ve read that too much fruit can be fattening, do you think that could be it?”
This isn’t an isolated story, lots of people have got it into their heads that eating anything with carbs is fattening, but If we look at population studies it becomes clear that many long living healthy people with low incidence of heart disease, diabetes and obesity also happen to consume high carbohydrate diets.
The Italians eat a diet high in pasta, bread and vanity
A personal trainer Hull (me) eats loads of carbs and still has a 6 pack when I choose.
The people of Peru traditionally have lived on a diet of corn and potatoes and quinoa (until that is suburban British middle-class folks saw it as a super food and made it too expensive for local Peruvians to afford)
the French start their day with croissants and throughout the day gorge on baguettes, wine and self-righteous arrogance.
A small population in Papa New Guinea known as the Kitivans have a diet which is nearly 69% carbs, coming mostly from sweet potato, yams and fruit. When the population was studied, they could find no incidence of heart disease, diabetes or obesity, and on top of that, 80% of them smoke.
The Japanese diet is about 62% Carbohydrate, mostly from rice, they have lower rates of heart disease than anywhere else in the industrialized world. An area in Japan known as Okinawa has the highest number of centenarians in the World, if you want to argue low carb with them, remember that they invented Karate.
“a meal without rice is like a beautiful woman with only one eye”
Weird old misogynistic, ableist Japanese proverb which probably detracts too much attention away from the point I’m trying to make.
So, it seems hard to believe that carbs are the cause of all our sorrows, there are plenty of people who eat high carb diets and are in great health, in fact lots of forms of carbohydrate offer benefits we just can’t get as easily from protein and fats such as…
Please excuse the vulgarity of the following statement, however I must be honest and admit that my previous experiences with low carb dieting took away one of the greatest satisfactions in life, that is the great feeling a person has after they’ve been for a massive poo. 😊 sorry once again.
Low carb diets are often low fibre diets, so that fibre has to be deliberately added in via supplementation or some relaxing on the interpretation of what counts as low carb, for example some low carb diets allow beans and some don’t, some low carb diets don’t even allow vegetables, aside from the loss of nutrients this is a big loss of fibre.
High fibre foods such as veggies, fruits, beans, potatoes and pasta and bread are a super important part of a healthy diet, fibre lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of some cancers and creates intestinal bacteria to aid digestion.
Vit’s, minerals and antioxidants.
I don’t want to scaremonger here, you can get these things from meat, fish and other low carb options, you just can’t get them in as much abundance or with as much ease. Micronutrients are the things which help your body thrive, vitamin C doesn’t just stop scurvy or boost the immune system, it’s involved in every day function of your heart, muscles and about a million other things.
You can get these from oranges or peppers but you won’t get so much vitamin A which is abundant in carrots, but these don’t have much vitamin B1 which you can get from corn.
The point is that a diet with an abundance of fruits and veggies provides all the nutrients needed for optimum function.
I’m probably stretching the issue a bit with this one, however one thing I’ve felt with low carb diets is that my mood dips, I feel low on energy and have strong cravings for sweet stuff. Now this does pass, and after a few days you no longer miss these things so much, but the reason many people struggle to stick with low carb diets is that sooner or later carb cravings come back strong, it’s just hard to get by these days on a permanent low carb diet, it entails not having cake at parties, or an indulgence at the cinema or with friends. This might be healthy in some regards, but it can kind of suck for many.
One of the most satiating foods to help fill you up and provide an abundance of important nutrients is the humble baked potato, I personally have potatoes three to four times a week with meals and manage to stay in good shape.
That’s it for carbs in general, tomorrow I’ll publish my article on sugar and answer the question or whether or not it is addictive, and if it makes people fat.
(spoiler alert, its not addictive and doesn’t make people fat)
Read part two of this article here
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