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Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Dietary Strategy of Separating Carbs & Fats

The recent post on the Harcombe Diet reminded me of some things that I've posted here regarding the separating carbs and fats in one's diet.  Almost a year ago now, I wrote this post:  Separating Fats & Carbs

In that post I laid out my rationale for this dietary strategy to prevent obesity.  It is also a strategy I generally employ to this day for maintaining my losses thus far.  Personally, I doubt this is a viable ad libitum strategy for weight loss that I'll discuss later.  


But the rationale for this approach is pretty simple.  First, mammalian infant food (aka milk) aside, I cannot think of any whole food in nature that is high in both fats and carbohydrate simultaneously.  The closest other foods would be some nuts and legumes that are relatively high in one while containing significant amounts of the other.  The human metabolism is not really built well to handle large mixed intakes of these two fuel sources, and yet our digestion and normal metabolism is pretty efficient at absorbing and sequestering them at the same time.  It seems more that the body is "wired" to sense nutrients, not calories.  Thus carbs, proteins elicit insulin (and other) hormonal responses designed to effect transport of these nutrients to the appropriate target tissues while fat elicits other responses (e.g. incretins and chylo-stimulated ASP) designed to effect the storage of fat in the lipid buffer.  These hormones seem to be involved in signaling satiety, but if we learn anything from those CAF-eteria rats, it's that the satiety signals don't match the caloric intake when the foods are calorie-dense, generally highly palatable CF foods.   So, for example, perhaps 30g protein sends up the satiety flag.  If it's accompanied by 50g carb that's a little over 300 cal.  Add in just 1T fat and your up over 400 cal just like that.  We're not wired to sense that 1T fat.  Same goes for the same 30g protein accompanied by 22g fat totaling just over 300 cal.  Add a little less than just 1/2 cup rice and you're again up over 400 cal.   Neither the 1T fat nor the 1/2 c. rice is a lot of food.  Can you say passive overeating??

This nutrient sensing theory is born out in LC studies that measure intake before and after removing most carbs.  The subjects do not increase protein and fat intake, actually they generally hold steady or even reduce slightly too.  Low carbers will tell you that this is proof that it's the carbs that are fattening that are causing us to eat so much.  But as that one study I reference frequently replacing 15% fat with protein, resulting in a LF diet, produced much the same result as does eating a low fat diet.  Folks don't tend to eat more carbs in absolute terms.  Where all of this went awry that is usually blamed on the LF diet itself is the phenom of Snackwells (and do those FiberOne commercials sound awfully familiar??) and other processed crap being "OK" b/c they were low fat.    We see it all the time now in LC circles where folks eat LC cheesecakes and brownies and wonder over the stalls if it's all about just the carbs.

My rationale for separating carbs and fats has nothing to do with this notion that insulin elicited by carbs will trap/accumulate the fat consumed with it.  Our energy balance over the course of 24 hours or several days is what ultimately determines if we accumulate excesses or draw on reserves and lose fat mass.  I'm of course ignoring very targeted and "extreme" strategies employed by various athletes/body builders to enhance performance and/or build muscle except to say that unless you are one of these, it's probably better to ignore much of that research as it will likely make not a wit of difference for you.  For the vast swathes of the rest of us folks, it really boils down to CICO.   Obviously many humans are able to balance  CI to CO needs without any conscious effort.  But in our modern obesogenic environment, I know very few who are able to actually do that.  Usually some conscious effort is required to maintain a normal weight, and as someone recently commented here, for someone to achieve a body that would be considered "model" by various standards, this effort is not only conscious but considerable.  

So in addition to choosing whole foods, one way to expend the least conscious effort to control intake to maintain a reasonable bodyweight would be to separate those carbs and fats between meals.  Eating rice or potatoes?  Go easy on the butter and cream and have with lean protein.  Eating fatty cut of prime rib?  Pass on the starchy sides (or go really easy!), and I might add don't put butter or a fatty sauce on a fatty meat!  Have a hankering for Doritos?  Buy a snack pack or count out a serving size from that jumbo bag and put the rest away.  It is very difficult to overeat plain carbs just as it is difficult to overeat whole fatty foods.  Eating at McD's, get the smaller sandwich and/or fries and make note to go lighter the rest of the day.  If you really must eat one of those meals that would qualify for a test meal in those studies (e.g. say 200g carb + 100g fat), consider fasting the rest of the day and into the next ;-)

To lose weight with such a method?  I contend most overweight/obese have a broken "stop signal" and to produce the necessary calorie deficit, this approach may not, make that probably will not, be sufficient or may only get you so far down the scale before the dreaded plateau.  Some good old fashioned weighing, measuring and counting might just be in order at this point.

In the post from a year ago, I did go into some thoughts on separating these macros on a longer scale.  For example alternating days and such.  I do believe this too can be an effective strategy.  This can muster the power of "inefficiency" switching fuel burning up and keeping the body guessing which enzymes it needs today.  Or it may just work as a sustainability trick.  I'm not sure about some of the longer cycles employed by some.  But one thing I'm very sure of:  If you are one of those people doing a very high fat version of  VLC for days on end who is unable to sustain that w/o going on a carb bender.  STOP.  This is far worse for you than even eating the SAD.  And I'll even go out on a limb here and say that's not just my opinion, but fact.  If I had the time I could swamp this blog for days with peer-review studies backing up all the reasons why you shouldn't do this!  One last caveat would be that if your cycles result in longer periods of alternating calorie deficit and surplus, you may also be sabotaging your metabolism.  Day to day fluctuations are normal, even a couple of days.  But it is not controversial that caloric restriction (intentional or not) lowers resting metabolic rate and may also cause the metabolic cost of activity to go down (e.g. the body becomes more efficient in performing the same work).  Such adaptation may last well into the "binge" or period of energy surplus so that calories will not average out over the long term in the same way as they would day to day.



So one of the things I've seen people  write about me when they are directed to this blog is "oh she's one of those food combiners" or "she's spouting that tired separate carbs and fats canard".  I wanted to clarify that I'm not.  Or at least not providing some metabolically advantageous rationale for doing so that will produce "effortless" weight loss because calories don't matter.

34 comments:

Kindke said...

"she's spouting that tired separate carbs and fats canard"

Eh whats wrong with that, actually that makes perfect sense since as you said, they do not occur together in nature in significant quantities.

Also theres quite a few studies floating around pubmed showing strange incretin responses when carbs and fats are ingested together. I wouldnt count nuts as I dont think they were consumed in significant amounts before engineering inventions,

Oh and despite Dairy being high in carbs and fats, a recent study is suggesting that that Dairy consumption if protective of a slender waistline.

MM said...

CarbSane,

I didn't mean to imply that you're "one of those food combiners" with a previous comment of mine. (I'm not sure to whom exactly you are referring there. I hope it's not me.) I did the old food combining diet once long ago. Here's an old food combining chart.

Anyway, it sort of worked for me, but I don't think it was necessarily the food combining itself but the Waiting. According to the book I read you have to wait at least 3-4 hours between meals. I guess this was to make sure the protein meal had cleared your system before eating the carb meal or something like that. So, no constant snacking, and it did make me mindful of what I was eating. I could see something similar but with fats and carbs working for some people.

CarbSane said...

Oh no! I didn't mean YOU implied that! I was referring to comments elsewhere (long ago as well) by others!!

Christopher Robbins said...

kindke,

Regarding that dairy study, this is a must read: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition's recent peer review failure

CarbSane said...

Hi Kindke, I guess I just wanted to be clear that the separating thing wasn't being stated on some energy usage/fat storage basis per se. I know lots of folks who do just fine on 3 "balanced" meals per day as well.

As to the dairy study, I don't have the time to look at it at the moment. But to me "dairy" is so much more than whole milk -- low fat dairy is protein + carb and cheeses are mostly fat + protein.

I was not raised a milk drinker, but the fact that you often have to "get kids to drink their milk" tells me that this "high CF liquid calorie" food is not all that obesogenic. Concentrate the fat and add some sweet however -- can you say ice cream?!! -- and bingo!!

SamAbroad said...

This made me laugh out loud:

" Have a hankering for Doritos? Buy a snack pack or count out a serving size from that jumbo bag and put the rest away. "

Hahahahaha!!! Oh that's all we had to do? America, the obesity epidemic has been solved! Hurrah!

Got any more gems tucked away that no one has ever thought of before ever (and that by track record totally work too! *wink*)

eulerandothers said...

I had already seen this study about metabolic syndrome, one variable being dairy products:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16306556

'In conclusion, we found that high calcium intake and dairy product consumption are associated with lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older women. There was no significant inverse association between vitamin D intake and metabolic syndrome. These findings warrant further examination in prospective studies including clinical trials.'

Kirk said...

CarbSane: This is probably the most interesting thing you've written.

Christopher: Sometimes I am tempted to start a blog dedicated to mocking nutrition studies like this dairy idiocy. It seems like there's plenty of material.

Princess Dieter said...

Why is Sam Abroad laughing. Our insane portion sizes of hyperpalatable foods must surely contribute to our tendencies to overeat and, hence, get FAT, be the foods served at Chili's, McD's, in assorted restaurants (the pasta portions out there are NUTS and I've been to more than one restaurant that serves huge salads with what has to be a half a cup of dressing on or on the side)...or at home (with those of us used to easy delivery ordering taking advantage of the assorted pizza and Chinese and others and THOSE whack servings)...or at home cooked and served with multiple servings as portions, since we've got portion distortion.

I've seen various dietitians over the years trying to get myself to get out of obesity (finally have) and all of them have mentioned how well I can calorie count and estimate servings. Sure, I know. But they say most folks are stunned to learn what a serving of rice or meat is. That's NOT what they're used to anymore.

So, plucking out 5 or 8 tortilla chips out of a bag, eating ONLY those and not just digging into the bag for more and more IS part of getting a handle on our obesity issues. Realistic and self-controlled portions.

Is it easy? Hell no. These ARE foods that call to us or we wouldn't overeat them. I don't see folks overeating raw spinach or broccoli slaw lately. I do see jumbo fries and oversized pizza slices and huge portions of fried rice out there.

I don't see it as something to laugh at, the suggestion that rather than eliminate all junk and carbs, one learn to moderate.

In my case, I do remove trigger foods--haven't had pizza in 8 months--but that's me. Not everyone gets the urge to go berserk over mac n cheese or pizza. ; )

Princess Dieter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bentleyj74 said...

I don't know what's so funny either, this is what I observe in the practice of people who are not merely at their ideal weight but who also don't spend much if any time obsessing about food theories which nearly always fall short of the goal to make them thin despite themselves.

fredd said...

Hi CS,

You say: "My rationale for separating carbs and fats has nothing to do with this notion that insulin elicited by carbs will trap/accumulate the fat consumed with it. Our energy balance over the course of 24 hours or several days is what ultimately determines if we accumulate excesses or draw on reserves and lose fat mass."

So if I may clarify, your rationale is that it is just easier to consume more calories from carbs AND/OR fat, and combining them compounds the problem, and in the end it comes back to the big CIvsCO?

As always, love your posts! I do have one issue... whilst in certain areas of physiology adaptation does occur requiring new stimulus (think weights training), I have never seen proof of "switching up your diet" to "keep the body guessing" or improve caloric expenditure due to inefficiency... i.e. I am not sure I agree with this part of your post:
"This can muster the power of "inefficiency" switching fuel burning up and keeping the body guessing which enzymes it needs today".

fredd said...

In addition, in your previous post on the subject, you say:

"1. Our paleolithic ancestors, from whom we differ very little genetically, did not have access to foods that were rich in both lipid and carb content simultaneously. "

I have always had a bone to pick with statements such as this... I am not trying to be rude, but am honestly asking... why does it matter what our ancestors ate? I have never understood the reasoning behind paleo eating...

fredd said...

Furthermore, what do you think of this? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10805507?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

SamAbroad said...

Princess Dieter, I'm laughing because that advice is about as useful as telling a smoker to just have one a day, or an alcoholic to just have the one whiskey.

If you think I'm being hyperbolic then you need to understand that highly engineered junkfood is custom designed to over-ride our ability to moderate. The advice to just 'eat a little bit' has been around for a while and it has not worked.

How come no one has any trouble moderating broccoli?

We'd like to think that humans are rational beings that act in a logical manner but most of the time we are a slave to instincts just like lab rats. And we know that rats fed junkfood will starve than eat healthy food in some studies.

Re: mixing fat and carbs. I come from Ireland where we have been putting butter and cream in our potatoes for centuries. We only started to become fat once veg oil and refined sugar started to become ubiquitous.

I maintain my weight effortlessly (did lose it with LC originally) eating baked potatoes with sour cream, as long as it's real food macros don't seem to matter as long as I get enough protein and fat. I know this doesn't apply to all.

I'd say the separating carbs and fat thing would work, but that's not because there is something intrinsically wrong with carbs and fat together, you're just making your food reward lower. Same deal with carbs in general.

I wonder wh

CarbSane said...

@Sam:

I am a former binge eater. I used to believe in food or carb addiction. No longer. These things may be so hyperpalatable you want to eat more and overeat if you rely simply on ad libitum controls. But they have no power over you to MAKE you do it.

So with those foods that are high food reward, I'm suggesting you can take control. It is JUST FOOD. There is nothing about even the most hyper engineered palatable food that gives it superpowers over your behavior. If a food is a problem for you, avoidance is one strategy. If you can abstain for all perpetuity this is a valid strategy. But if you can't and you're going on binges, then that's not a good long term strategy.

I find your attitude defeatist. For the past 4 years whenever I've had any of those former binge trigger foods it has NOT required any sort of superhuman effort not to overeat or binge on them.

Foods like Doritos aren't binge foods as much as mindless overeating foods. If you don't have more you can't eat more. Hence my suggestion. If the bag is sitting on the table next to the couch it's far easier to overeat.

Where did I say there was something intrinsically wrong with carbs and fat together? It appears we just don't sense the calories well when they are eaten together. I also didn't say that Sam doesn't sense the calories well in making a general statement. When you eat potatoes and sour cream I'm guessing this is somewhat portion controlled or do you boil up a pot of diced potatoes and dollop on the sour cream and consume until full? I'm thinking rather you cook up one or two and spoon out a "reasonable" amount of sour cream. Ya know ... kinda like portion control? Just thinking.

CarbSane said...

@Kirk: Thanks!

@Princess & bentley: Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts on this. Some may not think the strategy workable for them, but it works for me. I never said I had the solution to the obesity epidemic! LOL

@fredd: "So if I may clarify, your rationale is that it is just easier to consume more calories from carbs AND/OR fat, and combining them compounds the problem, and in the end it comes back to the big CIvsCO?"

If you mean easier to consume more cals from isolated carbs or isolated fat than protein yes. But we need to get "fuel" from somewhere it is impossible to get it from just protein. But yes, put carbs + fat together (and worse yet in a food with low protein content -- think ice cream) and it is far easier to eat a lot of calories. Ice cream adds the liquid factor as well. Cold Stone Creamery has an infamous smoothie that doesn't look all that big but tops 2000 cal. I'd dare say eating even 2000 cal of burgers and fries at McD's would be more difficult!

With regard to Paleo, I do still think there's merit to the notion that our paleo ancestors can be looked at for clues to our metabolisms. No matter what someone believes they actually ate, mixed foods at one time seems highly unlikely. I would add that we've certainly adapted to the diets of our more recent ancestors and, frankly, I think most would do better to research their heritage and traditional diets than put too much weight on what Inuit or Kitivans eat/ate. Still, these traditional cultures mostly ate a low fat diet rich in carbs. But there are cultures who ate a high fat diet with not so many carbs. The SAD is high in both and we get fat and sick. I think there's a lesson there.

Lastly, as to your study, I think it makes my point. The combining or lack thereof is not a metabolic strategy for any "advantage" in terms of energy balance. This was a CRD. I did say that I don't think just this strategy will have much use for weight loss in an ad libitum context but it might be useful for those who desire a more ad libitum approach to maintenance or not gaining the weight in the first place.

Diana said...

Sam, Your analogy is wrong. As a former smoker AND a former binger, I can say that the advice to eat one small bag is not analagous to "smoke one a day." It is: no effort to quit smoking is a failure. If you lasted one day, you succeeded for one day. You went back to smoking, OK. Studies show that every successful quitter tried and "failed" several times. Eventually you'll get there.

It worked for me! 28 years ago (1983) I quit smoking. I had a relapse when my father died, 4 years later. I consciously said to myself, "I'm having a smoke," the night before his funeral. Odd, he died of the effects of smoking....I haven't had a cig since and do not want one.

With food, it's a bit different, because we've got to eat. You can try and fail to quit the bingeing. Some folks have to cut out the trigger foods forever. Some folks can manage to eat a bit now and again.

I lost weight recently by a variety of methods fair and fowl. I did intermittent fasting, protein modified fasting...and good old moderate calorie restriction. During the moderate calorie restriction times I had a half gallon of ice cream in the freezer and ate half a cup a day. I lost weight. I never thought that I'd ever be able to do this.

It's possible. I think your analogy is wrong.

Diana said...

Evelyn,

Separating carbs and fats is something that occurred to me, and which I use to a degree, but only because CICO works, and adding two TBSPS of butter to my baked potato will put me over the limit for the day, cause I want to put dressing on my salad, and put butter on my slice of toast. It's my form of mental "food banking."

But....

I gather that you are saying something more profound than that. You think there is something essentially bad due to our Paleolithic heritage about combining carbs with fats, because "The human metabolism is not really built well to handle large mixed intakes of these two fuel sources, and yet our digestion and normal metabolism is pretty efficient at absorbing and sequestering them at the same time."

Couple of responses.

1. If protein foods evoke insulin, and if (as we know for certain sure) Paleo people ate protein and fat combo, what is the metabolic difference between carb and fat combo (as long as calories don't go thru the roof) and protein and fat combo?

2. I too cannot think of a Paleo food that is high in carb and fat either - closest to that would be organ meats which Paleo people (and my grandparents) loved.

Since I cannot find nutritional analysis of kangaroo or buffalo liver, so beef will have to do:

http://www.fitday.com/WebFit/nutrition/All_Foods/Poultry/Beef_liver_fried_or_broiled_no_coating.html

(Back in my low-carb loony "carp creep" paranoia days I avoided even organ meats because of the evil carb count.)

What if Paleo people combined a meal of juicy organ meats with honey, nuts and dried fruit. (I have got to believe that they had the brains to dry fruit, which is another issue I have with the Paleo "they never ate sugar" crowd.)

Combining a high fat meat with a high carb food source would qualify as a Paleo combination of carb and fat, no?

(Of course, maybe they got fat eating that stuff! We'll never know, will we?)

So....I think that even if Paleo food didn't have many carb/fat combos in one food, they found a way to make the combination in their cuisine.

And also, as you point out, the original human food is high in fats and carbohydrates. So maybe our metabolism IS set up to handle the combination. Does our basic metabolism food metabolism machinery change as we age?

Archibald said...

Give me a big plate of plain, baked potatoes, of which I am very fond, and I will consume and enjoy a modest quantity that seems to at least simulate in every respect -- given my terrible history of eating disorders -- normal, homeostatically controlled eating behavior. Add salt, pepper, seasoning, or veggies to the aforementioned, and I *might* be susceptible to a little bit of passive overeating (whatever that may mean in the context of a plain, whole carb). Start adding fat, especially tasty fat like butter, cheese, or sour cream, and my behavior will best be described as more driven than passive, at the very least needing a good deal of cognitive-behavioral control which may or may not succeed. Top this growing production off with some bacon, and you had better get your hand out of the way very quickly, and don't even dream that you're going to have any of that prime rib left over that you're about to put on the table! As for that bag of Doritos, I may, in a pretense of restraint, eat just five, but that opened bag in the pantry will infect my thoughts until I eventually give in, probably finishing the bag, so it's better not to have it around the house at all. And yet that bar of very fine chocolate, 100% cacao, has been in the cupboard for months, barely nibbled, alongside the bag of fat-free sugar-candies of which I occasionally think to have one or two. Give me a bag of Carbsane's beloved (for a good reason) Lindt truffles and, if you were planning on having one yourself, you had better have another bag handy. It's funny, though, how preference comes into it even so with CF foods. Fill my house from attic to basement with boxes of Fig Newtons, and I would as soon build something with them as eat one. Anyway, this is why I am "into" fat-carb separation and am interested in all of Carbsane's ideas and everything she has to say on the matter. I'm staying very agnostic on the issue of food-reward, hedonic-system dysregulation and set/settling point theory because, at this point at least, it makes no difference, and behavior modification is the only realistic tool for most of us schlubs and schlubettes.

Carbsane, you say "It seems more that the body is 'wired' to sense nutrients, not calories." This is one of the things, of course, that Flatt was saying in that "infamous paper" as you described it in an earlier blog-post and which I gave up trying to get my pea-brain around altogether. Except that you have added an important aspect to this particular concept which was missing, in my opinion, from the Flatt discussion: a context in which it's comprehensible why the information is useful to know in the first place!

Thanks for this wonderful post Carbsane.

Archie

SamAbroad said...

Carbsane,

I'm not saying that carbs are inherently addictive, they're not. Neither do I think portion control is a futile endeavour.

But junk food has inherently addictive properties that have been shown to stimulate the same parts of the brain as drugs.

Does everyone who tries a drink, a cigarette or a line of cocaine become addicted? Nope. But some do and you would never consider telling those people that they ought to moderate those substances would be irresponsible at best.

Bully for you that you are a former binge eater. Well I consider myself a current binge eater. As in as long as I don't eat what I consider trigger foods then I'm fine. But the minute I start saying one cookie, a few chips, or one candy bar, well that's it. I will walk to the store in the driving rain to get more. That takes willpower does it not?

I think it's bizarre that you would promote a strategy that has been shown to fail 99.9% of the time. Theories of personal responsibility and fortitude are lovely and all but they don't help most people in the long run. If you have some data to prove otherwise I would love to see it.

I wonder if your strategy would have worked better on cigarette smoking than tobacco control laws? Somehow I doubt it.

Princess Dieter said...

I agree with Sam Abroad on the addictive properties of certain combos. I tihnk Kessler's example of hyperpalatable foods and lab animal behaviors coincided PERFECTLY with my behavior. It was reading HIS book that spurred me to re-evaluate fast food/chain restaurants/hyperpalatable foods that are that combo of sugar/starches and fat (and add salt for the killer triumvirate of addictive food).

Whether it's low fat (where you take the fat out to reduce hyperpalatability) or take the carbs/sugars out (again, to reduce hyperpalatability) and moderate salt, and that diet may cut the reaction in people who ARE, as Kessler calls us, hyperconditioned overeaters. I'm one of those.

When I tried lowfat/high-carb, I could lose very short-term as it was not satiating for me. When I move to higher protein, higher fat, lower carb, I found that groove where I was satiated and could eat less. I don't heat high fat at la Jimmy M. I still watch my teaspoons and tablespoons. But I don't shun fat like in lowfat dieting days. I shun starches/sugars more often. And that keeps me from going into food frenzy.

I will eat a half baked potato about once a week with sour cream and cheese and broccoli or sometimes bacon. I like that combo. It's hyperpalatable, but since I eat it with protein (and plenty) and keep the portion small and tell myself THAT IS IT, no more...it works.

If I did't say "that is it", I could eat 4 of those potatoes loaded up. For sure. I know they can trigger (like pizza). The salt/starch/fat thing. BUT...I know to keep the rest of the meal lighter (grilled meat/poultry, salad or veggies, fruit).

I can't eat the rice or potatoes THAT often. I will reactivate the appetite and stall the weight loss or regain slightly if I do (carb water retention?). But I know I can handle some now and then, though I went months cold turkey on starchy foods. It's a matter of knowing I can handle A BIT. not a lot.

Like people who can handle...a small amount of Doritos or two cookies. Some surely can.

Princess Dieter said...

Oh, and I have no use for a plain potato, baked, boiled...well, maybe on a grill with a smoky flavor, maybe. If it's plain, no seasonings or olive oil or butter or sour cream or cheese. Why bother with it. As far as starches, I'd rather eat plain rice than plain potato. I may be in the minority, but to me, potatoes are that nice starchy base for stuff that tastes good. :D Like bread, Bread plain didn't much interest me. Or noodles plain.

Sue said...

PD, I agree. No way can I eat a. Potato without seasoning.

CarbSane said...

@Sam:

But junk food has inherently addictive properties that have been shown to stimulate the same parts of the brain as drugs.

The psychoactive nature of foods is grossly overexaggerated. Just because an area of the brain is stimulated does not make it somehow addictive. Lots of other non-food activities also stimulate that same part of the brain too.

I started a long comment here and decided that instead of that I'll be devoting another blog post to the concepts of food addiction in the next couple of days.

RRX said...

When I tracked the macro levels of my usual VLC maintenance diet last year, I found that I was eating in the range of 120-150g of fat a day. When I switched to all-bets-are-off-just-cap-the-kcals, I didn't worry about the amount of fat in my diet. Despite that and because I was eating so many other wonderful foods that in no way needed the addition of fat for me to thoroughly enjoy, I saw the fat in my diet drop to a range of 60-80g/day on average. That's pretty much been the case since. I am not afraid of fat and enjoy it when I have it, but when I have fat is when I think that it's a necessary part of what I am eating. I never add fat to something for the sake of just adding fat. That really does seem ridiculous to me. In that way, I am likely doing something similar to what you describe.

Mirrorball said...

I've tried potatoes without any seasoning, just microwaved, then baked. I went from 'Yuck!' after the first bite to 'Not so bad' a couple of seconds later to the point I was enjoying it a lot actually, in a very non-hyperpalatable way. I would eat them regularly if I could find good potatoes for sale. It's amazing how fast you can adapt to plain food.

CarbSane said...

Just for the record, I, personally, don't separate them fully. Although I suppose doing so could be a "food reward" based way of eating. I have no use for a plain potato, rice or even most veggies (certainly most LC ones). I was never an "up the fat" low carber, but I didn't watch the hubby cut the butter to put in the veggies too much either ;)

I think many low carbers would be surprised how satisfying "low fat" can be. For instance, on 1/2 cup rice a "pat" of butter and a little seasoning is more than sufficient. A "pat" being about 3-4g fat. So this is what I'm talking about. And don't give me the 1/2 cup is not enough. Make it 1 cup (~240 cal) 2 pats butter (~70 cal) and add broccoli and chicken breast chunks and you have a really satisfying low fat meal. I think low carbers are SOOOO brainwashed on the satiety of fat that they don't even realize how much food they can eat when they reintroduce carbs.

LC "low fat phobia" means folks will avoid any reduced fat dairy. I'm not talking fake cheese food concoctions here. Those should be avoided by everyone for every number of reasons, and please don't come near me with anything but real butter. But reduced fat real cheeses (certain ones like mozz, provolone, smoked gouda more than others for sure) can add as much flavor as full fat versions with half the calories.

Call me strange, but I love potatoes with cottage cheese (2%) and chives.

Diana said...

"I think low carbers are SOOOO brainwashed on the satiety of fat that they don't even realize how much food they can eat when they reintroduce carbs."

You betcha. I have a confession to make: I still have major guilt issues eating carbs. Any kind, but esp. starch types.

It's truly like being a lapsed member of a religion. You do what is formerly forbidden, but you still feel guilty.

I recently did the modified protein sparing fast, and discovered that CERTAIN low-fat versions of the real thing are fine. Low fat Swiss cheese (which still has fat) - fine. Fat-free ricotta and cottage cheese - I'll pass. I'd rather eat rubber. Oh yeah, those cooking sprays are great.

As I said on another thread, Julia Child got attacked bigtime during the anti-fat jihad of the 1980s. She stuck to her guns but did retreat a bit...and I with her. I learned that a pat of butter, to give the delicious taste of butter, is as good as a whole tablespoon.

Later on, when I went all LC gonzo, I went back to the "drench it in butter, see if I care" attitude. And I ended up as one of those nutcases on the low-carb forums, endlessly wondering why I wasn't losing weight when I was "doing everything right."

In short: Listen to your body* and heed the iron law of energy balance. If you hate fat-free ricotta, don't eat it. If you like the whole-milk kind, eat that - but recognize that it is calorie dense stuff. Experiment and get over the LC prejudice against low-fat, and definitely substitute where you can. The big picture is made up of many details.

*Take that, Michael Eades!!

Frosty said...

You wrote: "But one thing I'm very sure of: If you are one of those people doing a very high fat version of VLC for days on end who is unable to sustain that w/o going on a carb bender. STOP. This is far worse for you than even eating the SAD. And I'll even go out on a limb here and say that's not just my opinion, but fact. If I had the time I could swamp this blog for days with peer-review studies backing up all the reasons why you shouldn't do this!"

When you have time, could you at least do a summary of the reasons this is harmful? It is a pattern I see a lot of and, in fact, fell into myself while doing VLC.

Is it different than doing a PSMF with carb refeeds (not that refeeds are binges)?

SamAbroad said...

"The psychoactive nature of foods is grossly overexaggerated. Just because an area of the brain is stimulated does not make it somehow addictive. Lots of other non-food activities also stimulate that same part of the brain too."

Not addictive enough to give blow jobs in an alley, no. But addictive enough to have irresistible cravings for the item when stressed out. Every emotional eater turns to a small group of foods to ease the pain.

I can actually feel the tangible sedative feeling of eating a piece of cake. Anyone else relate? I've never been given a prescription sedative before but I'd imagine it to be close to that.

I think the mentality of 'Oh just eat a little -insert crappy non-food here - and then stop' has been tried and tested and found wanting.

You know the only thing that works for craving junk food? Stop eating junk food. You white knuckle it for about three weeks and after that it becomes so much easier. Your strategy wouldn't work for the majority of people or else weight watchers would have solved the obesity crisis. I watch women in work who are religious calorie counters and those who are 'health nuts'. The health-nuts are way thinner, as in actually thin. I belong to the latter group thankfully. :)

CarbSane said...

Sam, the very fact that different people have different "drug" foods argues against it being the food or something in it that is physically addictive or psychoactive in the same way as ethanol or known psychoactive compounds.

SamAbroad said...

Yeah, the foods are different but almost exclusively industrial.

And I'd argue that those foods aren't that dissimilar in ingredients either. Usually some combo of flour, oil, salt and sugar and flavouring. That covers pretty much every food people are liable to binge on.

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