Recommended Reading on Insulin

A shout-out to James Krieger who seems to think a lot like me (or me like him? or we just think alike??!).  I would like to encourage anyone reading this to go and take in an excellent post by James:

Insulin…an Undeserved Bad Reputation

Here's my bottom line on all this:  If the "alternate hypothesis" were true, then all cultures eating a higher carb diet would be obese and nobody could lose weight on a high carb calorie restricted diet.  We know neither is true.


James Krieger said…
Thanks for the shout-out! Yes, I think that we think much alike
Craig said…
Thank you for posting the link. The read was informative. Particularly on the relationship between calorie density and satiety. I would like to see that relationship and the mechanisms behind it expounded upon. As it would seem that this is the primary motivator for over eating/ weight gain. Not too sure about the comparison given of the low vs high carb meal, 75g of Carbohydrate is low carb? That's more carbs than I intake in three days worth of eating. Now the author does address this, but the problem that I have in taking this as gospel is that there are an awful lot of low carb bloggers out there, who document their blood sugar rises in terms of both peak and duration when eating meals of different carb content, and their experience has been that a low carb meal keeps these two levels far lower. Perhaps it is a question of whether you are 'healthy'. But would a 'healthy' person be struggling with adipose tissue gain/loss? I will check out this blog, and the one you give through given link in interest to see if these questions can be answered.
CarbSane said…
Hello Craig! Thanks for reading and commenting.

I think that low carb tends to appeal to diabetics and those at risk (who may have some degree of pre-diabetes) so IMO the LC blogosphere population is probably skewed a bit. Couple that with the fact that long term low carbing exacerbates insulin resistance and can impair insulin response, and low carbing make us more carb sensitive. So when a low carber checks BG's after a carby meal no doubt their levels go up, probably moreso than they would normally even for them. It's like an LC Hotel California fearing any little amount of carb, insulin, etc.

In order for a person to assess their true carb sensitivity they should probably consume a "balanced" maintenance diet for at least 3 days before testing BG levels.

If one seeks to increase carbs somewhat, it is best to do so gradually and stay away from the glucose meter and the scale for a while. No doubt initial changes will be negative, but in the long run, unless one has impaired beta cells, BG levels should normalize and weight will stabilize so long as overall intake doesn't go up.
James Krieger said…

You stated:

". Now the author does address this, but the problem that I have in taking this as gospel is that there are an awful lot of low carb bloggers out there, who document their blood sugar rises in terms of both peak and duration when eating meals of different carb content,"

Note that my article is about *insulin*, not blood sugar. Certainly, low-carb meals result in lower peak levels of blood sugar, but this is not the same thing as insulin. The two should not be confused.

In fact, one of the reasons why high protein meals help control blood sugar better is directly due to the synergistically higher insulin response when you combine protein and carbohydrate.
CarbSane said…
An important distinction James, that I see many confusing when they discuss the two. More insulin leads to a lower glucose response (with equivalent sensitivity) but not even that is always the case. I've seen studies where certain proteins elicit a greater insulin response w/o reducing glucose levels, and I've seen studies where glucose levels are lower w/o different insulin responses.

No doubt BG and insulin are related, but there's too many other things going on (some we may not even know about yet) to make a direct correlation.
Craig said…
Thanks for the food for thought guys. I have to say that what you have given here in the comments goes completely against what is prescribed in books such as Protein Power & documentaries like Fat Head. There the polar opposite is stated, that low carb eating improves insulin resistance. This position would seem to be backed up by the number Type II diabetics who have been able to chuck their meds after restricting carbs.
On the topic insulin and blood sugar, you will have to forgive my ignorance (no tone there I assure you). I was operating under the understanding that the body produced as much insulin as was needed in order to normalize blood sugar levels. So that when those levels are elevated, so too are levels of insulin. Is this not the chief prob with Insulin Resistance, blood sugar remains high, and so more and more insulin is produced?
The other question I have about studies on responses to high and low carb meals, goes to what is repeatedly stated in regard to low carb eating, that being, that after a period of time, the body adapts to relying upon different energy sources. If this is the case, tests done upon individuals who were still chiefly relying upon sugar consumption for their energy would show a completely different response than those that did not.
Again, thanks for the responses guys. Been out all day today, but I will be checking out both your sites!
Btw - if you could point me towards a post that deals with evolution argument used by low carb devotees, that would be awesome. Cheers!
CarbSane said…
I can't point to specifics at the moment, but weight loss studies that compare different diets generally produce similar improvements in reversing insulin resistance.

There seems to be a misconception that "using insulin" causes insulin resistance. Carby diet --> high insulin --> insulin resistance --> dysfunctional insulin release and/or hyperglycemia. I'll be posting a review article that says otherwise, specifically that IR is common/inevitable during puberty, pregnancy and with aging, but it's those whose beta cells don't respond accordingly that develop BG issues. Not everyone with IR progresses towards diabetes. The IR seems to precede hyperinsulinemia, not the reverse. In the Western diet, fat (usually in the context of a hypercaloric diet) appears to be the main culprit. I'll be blogging on this soon (maybe even today).

I agree with your assessment of tests done on certain individuals following different diets. LC'ers especially need to be proactive in how tests are interpreted by medical professionals, but at the same time some of our "good news" may be an anomaly as well. For example those eating a high fat low carb diet may well have low fasting triglycerides, but what of 24 hr exposure? Personally, I'm hoping that the elevated fasting trigs is symptomatic of a metabolic disruption and correlates with CVD and not that the trigs themselves are doing something directly deleterious to the cardiovascular system.

Re Paleo: I blogged on Eaton's paper which is a pretty comprehensive look at our ancestry and diet. I've also blogged on the 12 year follow-up,. Interestingly, this was cited by Dr. Westman (in The New Atkins and/or the LC Nutrition paper) as evidence our evolutionary diet was low carb. But I find this doesn't necessarily support the low carb approach, but an almost isocaloric one. Lots of info at Loren Cordain's site: Paleo Diet.
Craig said…
Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to reply (again) and for supplying me with the all the info that you have. I shall certainly be reading up, as the chief reason why I undertook low carb eating, was that, despite being very, very strong by natural standards, I was also carry too much fat. And after watching Fat Head, basically went away thinking I was sending myself to an early grave. Now, 4 months on, I am 30lbs less, and very, very, very strong. Too, I can honestly say I am experiencing far great mental clarity. But having said all this, I am not carb phobic either - table sugar phobic yes, but that was my crack! - So I will look at the info you cite. For, just as when I hit the iron, I like to know why I am seeing the results I am. I am not content just with seeing the improvement. Though I have to be honest, I do not have a love of 'science' writing. So it will be tough going!
Again, cheers for taking the time to reply!
James Krieger said…
Part 2 of my insulin series is now posted: