Why Low Carb will always be a Fad

I really can't tell you how elated I was initially to find Jimmy's forum and what seemed to be what I was looking for in 2009:  (1) Some answers to why weight loss had stopped for a long time despite having weight left to lose, and (2) Support that the science backed the long term safety of following such a diet.  My mindset about 2-1/2 years ago was that I was generally pretty happy with where I was at.  If I didn't lose more weight I was still happy with how I looked and others looked at me.  I felt great and younger than I did when I was a decade younger.  There was the nag ... though I had not experienced the health issues of a previous stint this time, I still worried over their return.  But there was also this other nag compounded by the fact that my husband is not a low carber.  If LC was not producing further progress, was such an extreme necessary even if it was healthy.  

Initially I was quite impressed by the level of knowledge on all manner of issues.  Dr. Eades (gasp!) especially impressed me ... mostly older blogs on ketosis, IF and such.  I didn't know of his MADness yet.  And yet, early on I kept hearing about this Taubes guy.  There's an entire subforum (or there was) that was titled "An Ode to Gary Taubes" or something like that.  I kept hearing the incessent "Gary Taubes tells us..." lines.  Somewhere in all the "up the fat" and "you can't store fat without carbs" stuff, my bullshit sensor kept going off.  It didn't sound right.  I knew I was older, and it had been a while since my Anatomy & Physiology days and such, but I wasn't yet ready to cop to senior moments!  So I started looking into it.  A "kilton" (still posting about the net) finally got me to buy the ebook and read it.  Not convincing.  

Now, I just did Atkins Induction with a few tweaks from memory from around a decade earlier.  I wasn't sure what version of Atkins I had as the book had long since been lent out permanently.  I remember getting into discussions about calories counting and all that and how, back then, I felt Atkins made a pretty convincing argument -- to me anyway -- for why LC was not some "fad".  See, to me, diets like Beverly Hills based on made up pseudoscience, those were fads, but Atkins made a compelling case in his book.  But one comment over at Jimmy's stuck in my head all this time ... that being how the fad ship had sailed with Atkins.  How Atkins reveled in poking the mainstream in the eye and all that and thrived (and profited!) on controversy.  I remember not agreeing at the time because that's not how I remembered his book reading back then.

Well, I now know I had the original, and I since shelled out a few bucks to buy another copy to re-read it.  The member going by Hogsfan on Jimmy's forum was right.  The blame for LC being seen as a fad rests solely at the feet of the "Late Great" Dr. Robert Atkins.  The book is full of sensationalism, hype and outrageous unsubstantiable anecdotes.  But if true, the science would prevail.  What was his science?  There was more insulin stuff in there than I recalled, but Atkins made a CICO argument that resonated with me.  That being that ketones represented a huge amount of energy lost through excretion.  He also spoke of a fat mobilizing hormone/substance in the urine of low carbers (not insulin or ketones) but the CICO argument was convincing.

The fat mobilizing hormone stuff vanished.  The ketone energy black hole is now accepted as meaningless in magnitude.  

Fast forward to 2007, the long awaited tome of esteemed science journalist Gary Taubes is published, GCBC.  Here, finally low carbers from sea to shining sea had a scientific masterpiece on which to hang their hats so-to-speak.  The carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis, Adiposity 101, or as I like to call it TWICHOO was born.  Many were convinced, as I admit I might well have been were I to have read such a book before Atkins for the first time a decade ago.  GCBC spawned a guru multiplication, re-energized others, etc.  Finally!  Low carb was on its way to take its rightful place in the reputable Nutritional Hall of Fame.  But alas ... it turns out that most of what Taubes wrote on obesity turns out to be wrong.  What are all those who have built or at least advanced their careers on the basis of TWICHOO to do?  

Well if the past six weeks or so are any indication, double down.  Keep repeating the "hypothesis", keep doing the schtick.  I wonder.  Has anyone heard from Dr. Eric Westman lately?  How about Stephen Phinney?  Jeff Volek?  All three authors of The New Atkins out just over a year and a half ago, and the latter two out with that recent "Art and Science of LC" book not that long ago.   I wish these guys would speak up ... and if I've missed it, please dear readers point me their way.

So I've long since let go of my disappointment over LC not going mainstream.  I'm armed with enough info that I'm comfortable discussing what I eat with my doctor and all that.  It's too bad though, really, because I'd like to be able to have such discussions w/o the usual low fat avoid sat fat BS as well.   I was so hopeful in recent days that carbohydrate restriction could emerge from the foggy depths of Atkins valley and gain legitimacy for once and for all because the gimmicks could be shed. 

But alas, it seems too many are bound and determined to make sure that will never happen.  LC will never be more than a fad.  Pity that.


Tonus said…
I'm thinking of starting a pool on how many comments will be posted asking you to lay off of Taubes or be nicer, etc etc. Over/under starts at 3.5!
Anonymous said…
'See, to me, diets like Beverly Hills based on made up pseudoscience, those were fads, but Atkins made a compelling case'

I looked at the Beverly Hills Diet recently. Notice the comments. The 'this diet changed my life' type stuff.

MM said…
I didn't read the Atkins book until several months after I started eating low carb. I remember being kind of shocked at how it read like an infomercial script. Lots of all caps text, like he thought shouting would make it more convincing or something. I remember thinking if this book had been my introduction to the low carb diet I never would have tried it. It read too much like a sales pitch.
Galina L. said…
I disagree with you because for many people LC is the only thing that controls overeating and food addiction, plus it fits nicely into now-in fashion paleo life-style.It easy to do and it works for many.Whatever is odd with Dr.Eades last book,his ketosis series are still very impressive. Even though not everyone got fat by eating carbs(I didn't), G.T. bock GTBC contains great amount of information about how science about diet and food got us wrong. Why to search for a guru? Nobody is perfect. Why not to take what is worth taking and ignore the rest (like Atkins bars and backing mix)?
I don't know if it is an interest to anyone, I am in a maintenance faze of a weight loss now and decided 2 - 3 months ago to get more carbs into my diet in combination with IF. At first it worked, then slowly weight started to come back(according to a tight pants test), so I am back to VLC. May be it is my age and hormonal status - in December I am turning 51.
I have to add, from the VLC point of view, Atkins looks quite sensible - go VLC, than add as much carbs , as you can to add without regaining. Unfortunately, I am not the meticulous type of a person to measure everything. VLC is just easy for somebody for whom it works. I can't claim I am on Atkins diet now - it is a mixture of VLC paleo with Tedd Becker's ideas, or probably LC version of Dr. K.Harris advice.
Duffy Pratt said…
I think Galina has hit on the thing about low carb that makes it both so easy to lose weight on it for some (including me), and so difficult to develop a good maintenance program for those same people.

The appeal of the low carb diet, at least for me, is twofold. First, it does successfully cut out my worst cravings, and thus it seems relatively effortless to follow while shedding the weight. Second, it does not involve a whole lot of counting. I can pretty much look at something and decide whether its out of bounds (fried potatoes, chocolate), whether i need to exercise reasonable restraint (tomatos, beans), or whether I can just eat until I'm satisfied (meats, green veggies, berries).

But then comes that point when you are supposed to start adding carbs back in. And there come back the two problems. To gradually add the carbs back in, I have to start thinking about them with more precision. And that kills the simplicity of the diet for me. And then, adding carbs back in also makes it much easier for the cravings to creep in as well.

Last time I did low carb, I lost just over 50 lbs in about six months. The first year after, I gained back about 10 lbs, and always thought that it was no big deal, because it would be simple to take them off again. After three years, I was almost back to where I started, gaining back all but 10 lbs. And I hovered there for a pretty long time, until this year I went back to my high weight. This time, I'm going to have to experiment with some ideas for maintaining that will suit my personality. Gradually adding back carbs was an abysmal failure for me last time. Anything that involves precise measurement isn't gonna work for me either.
Tonus said…
I think that LC's effectiveness comes from two things.

One, I think you can eat a lot more carbs than you can fats or proteins. I believe that when most people reduce their carb intake, it's not easy to find a substitute, and so they eat less. It's a pretty classic case of CI/CO.

Two, when you go low carb, the most obvious item to remove is sugar, particularly processed sugar such as you find in sweets and snacks. Which means that you either stop (or seriously curtail) your snacking, or you find healthier alternatives like nuts. Once again, you cut down on calories and lose weight.

The problem (and I don't understand why so many people seem to fail to grasp this point) is that simply switching to LC does not get most people to an ideal weight. They stall long before they reach a target, and are confounded because they've been told the whole time that LC or LCHF is the perfect diet and that they cannot possibly eat too much if they're doing it right because their bodies will magically regulate intake.

Instead of modifying their LC diet to account for their lower weight and lower calorie needs, they either give up and blame a damaged metabolism, or they give up and return to their old habits out of frustration. If they hadn't dismissed CI/CO, they might be on their way to reaching the goals they set for themselves before getting swept up in LC dogma and fantasies about being in perfect shape/health with no effort on their part.

We always want the easiest path to a goal, this is natural. But during our lives, we also learn that most things worth having require some effort, and that solutions that seem too easy are usually too good to be true. Consider how many things in life work out for the best when we put in very little effort, and how many work out for the best when we put in time and effort and concentrate on making it work. Why would something as critical as our health and appearance be any different?
CarbSane said…
Great comment Tonus!

@Galina, I think you missed my point (language barrier perhaps?). The "marketing" of low carb will have it forever relegated to fad diet status. Look, as geeky as I am, if something works for me I don't really care how or why. And I think it is fair to say that if LC were the miracle panacea there would be no obesity epidemic. The obese will try just about anything at least once no matter what the government or health "experts" say.

In 2009 when I found the LC community on the web (and I'll include those bloggers like Stephan who weren't really LC but were widely cited and followed in the community) it really seemed like, finally, a science-based promotion of the WOE. I wanted that for reassurance, that how I was eating, however non-mainstream, was ultimately healthy for the long haul.

Problem was the longer and closer I looked, the more holes in the theories emerged. I don't think it's enough to say well, so-and-so may not be right about XYZ, they got me to lose XX lbs on LC. Or that they wrote lots of informative articles so that excuses a hack of a book, not to mention countless blog posts on the so-called metabolic advantage.

A common sentiment expressed here by several commenters is that hopefully if Taubes is wrong about the obesity part of GCBC, at least what he wrote in the first part of the book on sat fats, cholesterol and CVD was correct. It does make one question it. I don't know what to think anymore about Eades' older writings, were they correct and he just got carried away?

Like I said recently in comments, had Taubes not doubled down with WWGF and acknowledged inaccuracies in GCBC it would be a different story. Instead he's built another floor on that house of cards when several cards at the base have been removed.
CarbSane said…
Yeah, MM, I had high hopes for The New Atkins book, and even reviewed it rather favorably. However, they still had to so the schtick of carbs as a "Metabolic Bully". I lamented at the time that those authors didn't write a separate book. I haven't read Volek & Phinney's latest. I guess it's a Catch-22 in a way.
MM said…

I was actually referring to the book by Atkins himself. I checked it out from the library to see what the original low carb guru had to say, and I was very disappointed, almost repulsed by his writing style. The New Atkins is better, but I didn't read that until I was on the last legs of VLC, stuck stuck stuck, and desperate for some clue as to what I was doing wrong. It didn't help with that, of course, but it wasn't as pushy or as much of a sales pitch as the original Atkins at least.
Galina L. said…
You know better than me about the enormous complicity of metabolism. Nothing is simple in human body. Combine it with the necessity of marketing and you will get something fad-looking in many cases. During my visit to Russia I spoke with somebody in a publishing business. There are no books about LC in Russia and I thought he would be interested in potential market value of bringing LC and Paleo literature in Russia. He immediately started to figure out how to market it - something in the line of "eat more in order to weight less". After I thought about the list of books I could give to him, I realized it would be impossible to do without at least some short explanations about some contradictions. Does it mean that old R.Atkins's books are too outdated to be translated and published? I don't know, actually. It would work for many people.I also found out that majority of people prefer simple explanations and fairy-tale weight-loss stories.After all, we are not suppose to micro-manage our body. Sure, some will find out that what works for one doesn't work 100% for another. Just think about it from marketing perspective.
When you read a literature, remember, it was printed for somebody without scientific background, unlike pubmed articles.

I would give Dr.Eades a big credit because he worked as a doctor with obese people for many years while being himself incline to obesity. He knows what works from somewhat deeper perspective than just nutritional scientist or a coach who works with young people who want to look "ripped". I wouldn't follow anybody's advice to the letter. Why trust 100%?
I think G.Taubes is unlucky with his nutrition books titles.
CarbSane said…
@MM: Yeah, the original is like that, I just don't recall it reading that way back the first time I read it. At that time it was more motivational. Problem was the parts about eating one bite of potatoes -> drop out of ketosis -> undo days of dieting b/c you've blown the ketosis calorie drain, really stuck with me.
CarbSane said…
@Galina: I think you just made my point with the marketing -- it's all about "effortless" and "eat more but get thinner". There are very few differences of substance between the actual 1972 Atkins diet and the version of 2010. Only the "science" that's presented changed. I think the Volek and Phinney book was written to advance the lifestyle but I'm not sure. I just don't see that VLC -- which is what the trend is among the LLVLC crew -- is advisable for the long haul. At least not to bet my health on it. Humans have not eaten such a diet except for the Inuit. But, as I've also stated, the tradeoffs, as in cases like yours for the migraines, may be worth it from a therapeutic standpoint.

I think most Americans can benefit from reducing their refined carb consumption. How we go from there to Carbs Can Kill is what's killing the mainstreaming of carb restriction for weight loss, etc.
Diana said…

Not to sound Clintonian but I guess it depends on what the definition of "mainstream" is.

I actually do think that LC has gone mainstream. It's in everyone's consciousness, who tries to lose weight, and that is virtually all of us, including the non-obese.

I see carbs demonized everywhere. I could go looking for links, but please trust me, carbs are a dirty word. Pasta does make you fat.

I think what you are saying is, and Duffy's comment is a perfect example of this, is: LC isn't a permanent viable way of life for most of us. At some point you're gonna add those carbs back, and you're gonna run into trouble.

In my own case, I added the carbs back in the form of binging on the worst kinds. That is obviously terrible, and I realize that LC isn't totally to blame for this.

But I do partly blame LC for it, as LC encouraged my worst tendencies (all or nothing, stuff or starve, etc.) I was a food extremist, dependent on food for emotional salve, and LC only displaced that - it didn't enable me to face my real problem. LC encouraged me to think that "carbs killed" rather than being honest about the fact that I was just obsessed with food, period.

"I think most Americans can benefit from reducing their refined carb consumption. "

Amen to that.

You know what I'd love to see? A reality show that takes reality into account.

Take a high school with a high obesity rate and sign up some volunteers. They pledge to eat no sugar for a month, restrict their eating to three plates a day, and walk for an hour. Assume compliance (yes, I know...but you have to have some trust).

Weigh them after a month.

I'd love to see this. Three behavior modifications. No dieting, just three modifications. What happens?

I would love to see this.
MM said…
I stumbled upon this forum. If you scroll down to Dawna's comment you can read some really good (bad?) quotes from the Atkins book. Yikes!


I don't own the book so I can't verify them, but I see no reason to doubt they are real.
CarbSane said…
Yep, they're real! I would have liked to see the latest book say something like: Atkins thought his diet worked by losing large numbers of calories through ketone spillage, but that theory has been dispelled. Still, a number of studies show that many find being in ketosis advantageous as it can have an appetite suppressive quality. What's so wrong with that?

The subtitle (the high calorie way ...) of his original book says it all. If all these claims on the internet are any indication, this notion is alive and well. I'm stuffing my face with 4000 cal/day of mostly fat and some protein and losing weight. Yeah right.

I'm still curious what the fat mobilizing hormone found only in the urine of low carbers was.
cwaiand said…
i love galina,s post where she says"why not take what is worth taking and ignore the rest"(in reference to eades or atkins or i guess any book).how are you supposed to know what part to take and what to leave?people are reading the books for info and are somehow supposed to know what,s right or wrong in them.
that,s evelyn,s whole point,if the books are not accurate(or truthful)then they need to be exposed(poor choice of word).the low carb is simply a possible way to cut calories.i see more failures than sucess with it.Galina,s weight is creaping up so she is going to cut her carbs back(i guess she,s not cutting calories ha).if she tracked her calories and broke out a food scale ,sahe could go ahead and eat SOME of the carbs she likes.
i read some bodybuilding site,the guys who get lean don,t do it by accident.they count calories ,use fitday ,weigh food.
if your overweight only one way works.ELMM.how you do that is up to you.but CALORIES COUNT.

Galina L. said…
I agree with you - VLC is not for everyone. It is not what I advice to try for my own son when he decided to eat more healthy in order to manage his allergies. He got the idea by watching how my eczema disappeared. Right now it is gluten-free for him.Sort of working, but not a cure. I want him to be metabolically flexible. In my case, I got much better relieve from other health problems besides migraine (asthma, eczema, once-a-year cold) only on ketogenic diet, just low-carbing made it better. Does it mean the VLC diet is healthier or it is a trade-of for some health problem in a future - I don't know. Probably everybody is having some doubts. Even Peter-Hyperlipid started his blog in order to put his ideas into discussion because he was not sure about the correctness of his diet.We can't restart life as a Kitovan. So far Tedd Becker's ideas are the most appealing for me now. Which LC book did you find the most respectable so far?
I sort of feel sorry for the Atkins enterprise. They have to sell LC junk. Marketing makes everything dumb and less credible.
bentleyj74 said…
"In 2009 when I found the LC community on the web (and I'll include those bloggers like Stephan who weren't really LC but were widely cited and followed in the community) it really seemed like, finally, a science-based promotion of the WOE."

This was the part that snared me. Not that carbs could merely be a factor in weight loss [I know for a fact that I can be lean and even GET lean using coke as a meal replacement in a pinch] but that they were dangerous and damaging in and of themselves. That they were nutrient poor and metabolically deranging fluff and filler for the great unwashed.

Stephan was decidedly more in the LC camp in past years and even penned things suggesting people who are overweight or diabetic "be careful" with carbs specifically. His turnaround was not overnight but rather over a period of years unfortunately he didn't express it exactly as such until fairly recently. Ditto Kurt Harris. No question he was an adamant low carb advocate [or someone needs to teach me how to read] who has become more moderate recently.

I do think it's possible and maybe even likely that unembellished carbs have higher food reward all by themselves than unflavored fats. It makes perfect sense obviously that staple foods which can meet or very nearly meet your needs will have highest reward value even in the absence of engineered palatability. It also is not suprising that adding carbs to an already fairly high food reward diet [fats/seasonings] would have an immediate and marked impact.
Anonymous said…
'I'd love to see this. Three behavior modifications. No dieting, just three modifications. What happens?'

I'm guessing that if volunteers lose weight not eating sugar, walking every day and eating just three plates of food, LCers would crow that this is just more proof that sugar is to blame for obesity. After all, everyone walks, right?, on legs, and it doesn't mean they lose weight. Also, surely someone knows somebody who swears they never snack and they are fat, too, and doesn't that mean that there's only one thing left, of the three, that is making you fat - sugar?

That you cut out snacking altogether, restrict yourself to 3 simple meals with nothing in between meals, and you move your body more - I would bet that you could do that AND have sugar with your meals and still lose weight. Sounds good to me.

You could load up those 3 daily plates to go way over the calorie limit that maintains your weight. Then you would be eating more calories, if you didn't expend more calories, so you would gain weight. But that would be true if you ate more calories that were on your plate and they came from bread and meat and mayo. Would I love to see that? Don't need to - obesity research already shows that.
bentleyj74 said…
I have actually witnessed people trying to lose weight who do exactly that. Take only one plate...but load that plate like they are crossing the sierras later. One woman admitted to me that if she were not too embarrassed to do it in front of me...she'd LICK her plate to get the last scraps. She was serious. She's only slightly overweight but that seems shockingly obsessive to me.

My point in this little set of anecdotes is that people do overeat for a reason [agree with GT that they didn't just wake up one morning and decide to overeat by hundreds of calories] and until that reason is adequately adressed all the little tips and tricks in the world will not divorce them from the desire to eat for reward rather than fuel.
Galina L. said…
I don't mind much LC not going into masses fast. After LC became more popular in Sweden, they got a butter shortage http://www.dietdoctor.com/butter-shortage-in-sweden. Idea is getting more popular very slowly, and slow speed is a good thing - economy gets time to adjust.
I am also scared in advance to see what may happen if LC takes place of low-fat propaganda.So far capitalism is the most effective regulator and engine of economy, but it has a tendency to turn popular products into public health enemies. Indians smoked tobacco without much harm, South Americans used coke since forever without much harm. Look at the frozen yogurt story.It is a reasonable guess that marketing would manage to create something really unhealthy even out of eggs. Probably, the number one diet advice should be - cook your own food from a scratch and never buy anything you see on a TV screen in commercials.
Diana said…
I thought it was taken for granted that I meant the "one plate" concept not heaped with food. Inherent in the "one plate" is the fact that you can see the plate.

Yes, CICO says that you can eat sugar and lose weight. But in my experience, most fat teens are sugar bingers. You can't expect a fat kid to limit him/herself to an ice-cube sized dessert.

This is all about laying down habits and breaking the cycle of food dependence. Yes, food dependence is very much a psych issue.

But, I don't know how to say this politely, so I'll just say it, "eff that ess."

I'm an outside in person. Your mileage vary, but I refused to believe that there are more effed up people in the US now than in 1934. There's just a lot more fat people, brainwashed into thinking that they must eat their 2000 calorie a day diet (ha!), eating huge portions.

I would not have believed that portion control worked unless I had not done it with success myself. Also intermittent fasting, which really broke my food dependence.

I was rewarded with weight loss. Therefore I continued it. But the reward wasn't only weight loss, it was an actual freeing of my assumptions that I "had" to eat all of it, that I had to eat a certain way, amount, etc. I started from the outside in.

We all have psych/food issues. Thin people have them. I don't care. Just do it, you'll find that those issues become much more manageable.
Craig said…
I suspect you've been asked this before, but I'll ask it anyway: Is there a summary available somewhere that advocates for LC, and mostly gets the science right (at least to the extent that the science has been worked out)?
CarbSane said…
@All: I've always felt that had I never dieted I would not have gotten obese. And for me it would have meant cutting out the BK lunches ... pretty simple stuff.

Which plan?? I hear the original Protein Power book was good. The New Atkins is pretty good except for a bit of gimmickry and the sugar alcohol "pass". There is a section about savoring not smothering that addresses calories and I don't remember the whole eat a lot of fatty meats thing either (my ebook doesn't work anymore and I don't have time to spend on hold to get it to).

@Galina: It's a no-brainer that the current human population of the planet, likely not even a large proportion, could be sustained on an LC diet. Not without all those "bad" livestock practices, fish farming, etc. I don't think it should, either, because it simply is not the diet humans evolved or adapted to eating unless you happen to descend from the Inuit. Still, I do think it could/should be "mainstream" for weight loss and certain diseases ... this is where the gimmickry is erecting barriers to that, and the purpose of this post.

I don't consider how I ate to lose the weight a fad diet. I don't consider long term low carbers following some fad per se.

@Craig: Welcome. Hopefully my forthcoming book ;-) In the meantime if you search on Toothpick here, or Critical Conclusions I think there are two posts summarizing where GCBC goes wrong.
Sue said…
Galina, while I'm thinking about it and before reading the rest of the comments I wanted to ask whether you decreased the fat in your diet while you increased the carb? That could account for weight gain.
Rad Warrier said…
"I see carbs demonized everywhere. I could go looking for links, but please trust me, carbs are a dirty word."

Very true. Visit any diabetes e-forum and you will realize that Low-Carb-High-Fat is the one and only path. As The True Religion, it of course transcends logic and science. Those who do not believe in this religion -- the kafirs, the heathens (or whatever other words are there) of this world -- are of course to be burnt at the stakes :-)

The true believer might proclaim loudly the mantra of YMMV, ("Your Mileage May Vary"); yet, in the very next breath the admonishment may be that whatever your mileagee, carbs are vile for you. It is the cause of all that ails humanity, including aging :-)

I think I am a very good example of YMMV. As a type 2 diabetic, I don't have to low carb to keep my blood sugars and lipid levels in the normal range. I regularly exercise and may consume up to 200g of carbs a day including the "vile" fructose in the form of of fruits.

Fads and hypotheses come and go, and things happen in their own way. This Hindi doha (couplet) of Kabir (who lived in the 15th century CE) seems quite relevant to the human condition:
Dheere dheere re mana, dheere sab kuchh hoy
Malee seenche sau ghada, ritu aaye phal hoy.

"Slowly slowly O mind, everything in its own pace happens;
A hundred pots a gardener may water but fruit arrives only in its season."

I tried LC & then VLC & initially had great success. I do like the way when it's working & you're in the flow, your appetite just seems to vanish into thin air. I had never experienced that freedom prior. However, toying with VLC I started to develop a number of health problems which I'm still not sure are related or coincidental. I know Paul Jaminet of Perfect Health Diet is of the mind that VLC gave him a stiff case of scurvy. Regardless, being LC taught me to give up sugar, milk/cream & even grains (I just don't have it in me to start trying to ferment them etc.), and I now stick to "safe" starches like sweet potatoes. I also credit new Atkins with making me dial way down on eating fruit, which is probably a good idea. However, I do believe VLC precipitated a ton of internal inflammation & cortisol issues for me which I'm only slowly digging my way out of. The current GT TWICHOO (did I spell that right?) unfortunately keeps all carbs demonized in the cult of LC (it has that creepy feeling to me) and you're right - relegates the whole kit & kaboodle into fad status.
CarbSane said…
Hey Rad, and how many times have you been called an addict? And don't dare object to that derogatory label or you'll be called an addict in denial. I think many who eat VLC as a WOE are addicted to butter >:)
Tsimblist said…

A few years back I took an online diabetes risk assessment at diabetes.org. It advised that I was at high risk for diabetes. Both my father and my maternal uncle were Type 2.

Then I went to their Adult Type 2 board and searched for any posts on McDougall, the diet I was using (starch based, low fat, vegan). There was one old post with a short thread.

So I asked if anyone was aware of it or had tried it. And the lynching began. I tried to reason with them, but there was very little of that there. I did get someone to concede that "not all carbs are created equal". But I was warned that if I continued my dietary lifestyle then I would soon be in the Type 2 boat myself.

It scared me enough that I started having my glucose checked every 8 weeks or so when I donated blood. And when the A1c test became available, I started having that one done too.

My diet never did push me over the edge or even in that direction. But I learned to stay away from the diabetes boards.

It wasn't until I found this blog that I understood the visceral reaction to my posts.
Anonymous said…
I consider myself to be in the same situation as Tsimblist. Type 2 diabetes runs in my family. Over the several years that I low-carbed, my fasting blood sugar (the count my doctor sees when he sees the results before my physical) has been slowly climbing.

When I started eating any and all carbs (my average lately has been 216 carbs a day), but keeping my calories in control, and losing weight slowly but steadily, I told my doctor that I am through with low-carb dieting. My blood sugar is still, I guess, pre-diabetes: it's 100. But it's the lowest it has been in recent years. In all the years of avoiding carbs, it was in the teens. (Lipids excellent, too, BTW.)
Rad Warrier said…
Evelyn, you are absolutely right -- I am an irredeemable addict, and that too in denial, in the eyes of the low-carbing-high-fatting (did I miss an 'r' while adding an extra 't'?) denizens of the e-world of diabetes boards. (On another note, I often wonder why I meet far, far few low carbers in the real world than as ephemeral denizens of the e-world.)

" I tried to reason with them, but there was very little of that there." Tsimblist, I stopped reasoning with the LCHF crowd long ago -- found that it is a waste of time and energy which can be used for better purposes.

Craig said…
@CarbSane: Very much enjoying your site. The diet dogma of some sites can get tiresome.

This is perhaps a bit off topic to the main theme of this thread, but your blog posts about NEFA's and their possible role in perpetuating or worsening beta cell dis-function was very interesting. Since you continue to eat LC, albeit with somewhat higher carb levels, I wonder if you have speculated about the carb threshold needed to avoid a problem?
CarbSane said…
Thanks Craig! I don't think it's much of an issue during weight loss. In energy deficit fats aren't going to accumulate where they don't belong. But when weight stable? It seems we're born with (and/or develop early in life) the degree of fat tissue IR we're stuck with. But the postprandial clearance seems to be a focus of a lot of the research these days. My speculation is that avoiding huge fat loads at one time may well be more important than macro ratio/amounts. Personally, barring therapeutic need for other issues, I can't see a good case for less than 20% or 100g carbs. Certainly perpetual ketosis does not seem to be a natural state to me. Others feel just the opposite ;)
CarbSane said…
"why not take what is worth taking and ignore the rest"(in reference to eades or atkins or i guess any book).how are you supposed to know what part to take and what to leave?people are reading the books for info and are somehow supposed to know what,s right or wrong in them.
that,s evelyn,s whole point,if the books are not accurate(or truthful)then they need to be exposed(poor choice of word).

I think this part of what cwaiand said is very important. How DO you know? In Taubes' case he left out some stuff and doubled down on the carbs make you fat thing. So I'm not sure what "good part" folks are supposed to take from it. I mean really, where is it that the low fat crowd advocates eating snackwells morning, noon and night?
Diana said…
Re: "take what you need" - yes, indeed. There's good info and bad. It's not a roadside farmstand where all the tomatoes are the same!!

That's why you find all these lost souls on Low Carb forums obsessing what "what are they doing wrong" and going ever lower in their carb counts. It's quite common. I read one famous LC forum (guess which one) and I was horrified at the bad advice given to one desperate woman who is having a tough time exercising while low carbing. And the person giving bad advice weighs 296 pounds! Excuse me, but this is insanity.

I am becoming increasingly fascinated with the fact that adipose tissue is an endocrine gland and not a passive repository for energy. I think this is the key to the whole idea of fat physiology and its effect on our brain. And plateauing and all that. The fact that adipose tissue secretes hormones makes reducing it so much more complicated than for example, losing muscle tissue. Am I right about that, Evelyn?
BigWhiskey said…
"Certainly perpetual ketosis does not seem to be a natural state to me. Others feel just the opposite ;)" Speaking of Pe-Ke and fads, I checked out a video-doc, Eat the Sun, a few nights ago and ran into a reincarnation of Druidism and Pe-Ke. Here is a link to the summary by Christopher null: http://www.filmcritic.com/reviews/2011/eat-the-sun/
CarbSane said…
Yes Diana, And I hate when I come across things, the browser crashes and I can't find them again. Because I found a description of leptin defending against insufficient adipose tissue (losses) more strongly than against excesses.

Your description of the LC forums is apt. Even had I not been booted from one, I had all but left anyway. It is disheartening to see all the harmful advice given out in the name of defending dogma. I recall one thread where several folks mentioned melatonin causing migraines. Instead of "well, maybe melatonin's not for you", there were all these responses that perhaps they needed this or that vitamin or supplement too. Many of these folks spend over $100/month for a laundry list of supps. If you find yourself perpetually downing a dozen pills a day, something is wrong with your diet.
CarbSane said…
@Galina: Let's not confuse mainstream with popularity (as in numbers following the diet). The ketogenic diet is pretty mainstream for treatment of epileptics but it's not a diet that even a majority of epileptics follow. I would like to see LC become more mainstream for various reasons, as in something the medical establishment generally accepts. That doesn't mean LC will become a default advocated diet. IMO it should not be.
Galina L. said…
I am glad you mentioned other medical reasons for people to be on a LC diet. I think it could be even more helpful for other conditions than just a weight loss (because, as you know , it is always possible to loose 20 lb and stop almost forever). In my case LC got me from allergies, leg edema, frequent infections(like candida, urinary tract infections,colds), pre-menopausal things... I don't wont to repeat the same long list over and over again, but that list is long. Effect was even more pronounced on ketogenic diet.The problem is - most of the time people would take a pill over a life-stile change. In Russia I manage to convince 3 ladies in mid-seventies and two mine age to give LC a try. It worked in the same pattern every time - weight loss, normalizing of energy levels and moods, normalized blood pressure for folks with BP issues. Sounds great except that out of 5 ladies my mom is the only one who still continues LC. Probably,my grandma's Alzheimer scared her enough.Even my former mother-in-low who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis can't find herself motivated to continue. Is eating cakes and breads so important? Looks like it is. No one of the people I am talking about is eating a fast-food.

It was quite easy for me to restrict my diet because I was on an anty-allergy diet since childhood till probably 15 y.o.because I suffered from an eczema. It is the standard treatment in Russia to put somebody with allergies or gastrointestinal issues on a bland diet - no spices,tomatoes, vinegar,mayo,salt is limited, food is steamed or boiled, for allergies also no chocolate, oranges, strawberries. It sort of worked for allergies, didn't cause people to get skinny, by the way.

I can see a reason for a LC diet to be the mainstream diet for people with metabolic syndrome, mood disorders, frequent infections. But doctors don't believe in people's ability to follow a diet (as my GP told me)I think it would be reasonable for a ketogenic diet to be the default diet for people after heard attack and brain injuries at leas inside an incentive care unit.
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