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!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chill out, live longer? How do VLC & caloric restriction factor in?

I've been working on a related post when I came across an interesting study that I thought was worth a blog  post on by its own and was more timely for other studies I've been looking at more recently. A sidebar of looking into the claims of L.Ron Rosedale is that he's really all about longevity and believes his diet will deliver on that promise.  What I'm about to say may shock  some of you, but, there's some evidence out there that he might just be right!   The Catch 22, however, is that where he's correct it flies in direct conflict to the claims and theories espoused by the other ardent evangelists of carbohydrate restriction.  

Any research into aging and longevity these days inevitably lands one into a sea of studies on teeny tiny worms known as C. elegans.   I have some stuff in the pike on these worms, but basically, two ways of  "naturally" extending the lifespans of wild type C. elegans are (1) growing them under lower temperature conditions, and (2) forcing the worms through a dauer state (essentially dormant) developmental phase as larva through "starvation".  Both of these manipulations have the effect of producing adult worms with reduced metabolic rate.  (Worms are not intended to be the topic of this post, but here is one review on metabolic rate and longevity for those interested).  The other popular species for longevity experiments is mice.  Caloric restriction in mice has resulted in extended lifespan coupled with a reduced metabolic rate.  At first glance, run hotter/faster, burn out, run cooler/slower ... fade away?

In any case, with worms, the body temperature is easily controlled by manipulating the environmental temperature.  But what of warm blooded animals?  You put a warm blooded animal in a cold environment and their metabolism increases.  In the case of small animals like mice, they are blessed with relatively (to total fat and body mass) large amounts of brown fat (BAT) which is the thermogenic fat in such animals.  As an aside, the original uncoupling protein (UCP1) is that which generates heat in BAT.  Warm blooded animals have a vested interest in keeping their body temperatures within a relatively narrow operating range.  So ... you put a worm in a cold climate and it's metabolism goes down, you put a mouse in one, and it goes up.  A transgenic mouse to the rescue!

Temperature homeostasis in mammals is regulated centrally by neurons located in the preoptic area (POA) of the hypothalamus, a region that includes the medial and lateral part of the preoptic nucleus, the anterior hypothalamus, and the nearby regions of the septum. This region is believed to contain the central thermostat, which keeps core body temperature (CBT) within a very narrow range even when the animal is exposed to a wide range of ambient temperatures.
Apparently the neurons of the POA sense temperature and regulate metabolism accordingly.  What they did was create transgenic mice with increased UCP2 activity in a neighboring region of the brain.  This increased uncoupling essentially locally heats the POA of these mice.  Sensing the mouse is warm, the POA dials down metabolism -- it's like aiming a space heater at your thermostat, it won't sense the cooler temperature of the room it's in and turn the furnace on.

This worked!  By messing with the thermostat, the core temperatures of the transgenic mice were reduced by 0.3-0.5 °C, and as predicted, lifespans were increased. A summary of the findings:
  • Fed ad libitum, dietary intake was similar between transgenic and wild type mice -- they ate the same amount.
  • Median lifespan was increased 12% in males and 20% in females
  • Body weight did not differ for females, but beginning at 20 weeks transgenic males gained more weight than wild types, a difference reaching 10% greater bodyweight at 35 weeks.
  • Transgenic mice lost less weight with 27 hr. food deprivation than wild types indicating reduced metabolic rate that did not differ between genders.
The authors describe the results of the food deprivation experiment as evidence of "increased energy efficiency".  What I'm seeing on an increasingly regular basis is a diametrically opposed split in the VLC world.  From  the weight loss camp, we are regaled with tales of the super charged fat burning metabolism, the ability to lose and maintain weight eating far more fat than carb calories, and the promise that lowering insulin levels disfavors fat accumulation.  The MADdest of hatters (Eades) in his most recent book that fat excesses will be blown off by futile cycles and/or uncoupling.  From the health and longevity camp, the metabolism becomes super efficient with the premise that idling more slowly extends lifespan by minimizing wear and tear.  A lean phenotype is the purported result of such a metabolic state, but it's not about losing weight. In his 2005 book, from Google books, Rosedale states:

The fourth and sixth bullet points are in direct opposition to the claims of eating thousands of calories, running hot and basically feeling all warm and fuzzy all over eating low carb.  Many, many who undertake LC diets already have compromised thyroids and feel cold all the time.  Whether either of these reponses actually occurs to significant degree on a low carb diet, one thing is true:  They cannot both occur

Since we're talking longevity, let's focus the remainder of this discussion on Rosedale's fifth bullet point:  Calorie restricted animals have a lower percent body fat (as demonstrated in nearly every study).   Let's look at one such CR study:  Mild Calorie Restriction Induces Fat Accumulation in Female C57BL/6J Mice .  Now, this wasn't a longevity study, it lasted only 3-4 weeks in 8-10 week old mice ... but the bottom line was that caloric restriction during a period of substantial growth for a mouse resulted in slightly smaller (if at all) mice who were decidedly fattIer -- e.g. they had a higher percentage of body fat because they gained almost 70% more fat mass than the ad libitum group.  This finding was attributable to a 20% reduction in resting metabolic rate.  As I'll be discussing in the coming weeks, those worms too are notably fattier than their shorter lived cousins.  It is important to note that the longevity models (whether environmental or genetic) are not generally "fat" as in being larger/heavier/etc. than their wild type cousins, but they do tend to be fattier.  

So ... if, as an adult, you change your diet to something VLC, what metabolic magic can you expect?  Will it extend your lifespan and favor partitioning of fuel into fat stores while lowering your metabolism?  Or will it turn you into lean, mean, steam blowing, fat burning phenom?  It can't be both ways.  

(image link to view larger)
Remember Mighty Metabolism Mouse?  In this study, two of the interventions compared were CR (to 60% ad libitum cals) and ketogenic diet (KD).  Although the KD mice ate as much as the normal ad libitum fed mice (A), they achieved reduced bodyweights similar to the CR mice (B).  Ahh but look at (C) on the bottom there  This was body heat and the comparison between KD and CR is rather significant.  The KD mice in this study are running hotter and faster than the CR mice.

I think it would be fair to say that these mice on  a Rosedale-style diet  do not share the longevity profile of the calorie restricted mice.  

Here is another mouse study looking at energy expenditure (aka metabolic rate) for KD vs normal chow fed mice.  In this study, the mice were 15% lighter attributable to a 17% increase in energy expenditure.  We have some additional information here on body composition of the mice.  The ketogenic diet clearly produced a fattier mouse despite higher energy expenditure and reduced overall body weight.   (And, despite having insulin levels half those of the regular chow fed mice!!)  It is worth noting that in this study they measured hepatic (liver) insulin sensitivity and the KD mice exhibited "severe hepatic insulin resistance" associated with a 3.5X increase in hepatic diacylglycerol (DAG) -- intermediate fatty acid metabolites -- content, a hallmark of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD.   This needs further attention!

So ...  the longevity in calorie restricted mice seems associated with (a) reduced energy expenditure and (b) body temp at the expense, apparently, of (c) higher body fat percentages but  (d) normal to lower body weights.  Does a VLC diet get us to that exalted state?  The studies cited here seem to imply that VLC would produce the desired body weight and composition outcomes (c&d) characteristic of longevity, but the opposite of the metabolic outcomes (a&b) characteristic of same.

For me, reading these studies is  rather unsettling, as I imagine they might be for some others achieving success with VLC/HF diets.  Does exercise help mitigate the fat accumulation?  Clearly fat accumulation in and of itself is not detrimental to lifespan -- for worms and mice at least.   How about the body temp stuff.  Is the activity of these mice merely compensatory for feeling cold, or are they happy critters feelin' groovy?  How functional on physical tests are these long living worms and mice ... can we even do such tests?  (there are some for mice, but 1mm worms?).  If I attain a longevity-promoting metabolic state, will I be able to carry my groceries and kitty litter into the house in one trip, and if not will I have the energy to make two or three?  Will I freeze to death because I can't do my wood-workouts anymore?  Is all skinny fat the same?  The list could go on.  Far more questions than answers, I'm afraid, and doubtful we'll have actionable answers in my lifetime.  But for me, what we do know tends to argue against severe carbohydrate restriction for the long term.  Your mileage may vary on the interpretation. 


Larry Eshelman said...


I love your blog -- I read it everyday -- including articles that focus on LC hypocrisy (which I enjoy). But it is scientific-oriented articles like this which make this blog one of my two favorite (the other being the "Perfect Health Diet" blog).

MM said...

I don't think I like the whole longevity idea. I want to know what I need to do to live to a vigorous ~80 and then drop dead suddenly. Maybe that's what people mean when they talk about longevity, but it doesn't sound like it to me. It sounds more like living as long as is humanly possible and then some. The problem I see with that is then you start out-living people you care about which could include your own children, and that would suck beyond measure.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Thanks Larry! I'm with you MM, I don't want to live a long life for longevity's sake. I would like to age as gracefully as possible -- and I'm not just talking aesthetics but functionality -- and make a quick exit.

I'm not even sure that anything we do as adults or even teens can make much of a difference -- not by these mechanisms anyway.

Sanjeev said...

> living as long as is humanly possible and then some

That's the current idea among some of the life extension folks (kind of includes the "freeze your head" crowd).

You don't want to drop dead and be cremated 10 minutes before you can get the immortality technology ...

Nance said...

LOL Well, I now know a lot more about worms and mice! This is a great post; on the longevity discussion I'm only interested if the quality of life is maintained/improved. Otherwise, I've served my time of being sick already. :-))

Sarah Barracuda said...

With Stephan talking about setpoints again, I'm wondering whether CR isn't simply equivalent to (permanently) living below one's setpoint. Of course, the purpose isn't to actively lose weight, but I imagine it's an initial weight loss (to get to maintenance on the reduced caloric amount), followed by an indefinite/everlasting(?) plateau. And my guess is that that ain't healthy.

Older people experience sarcopenia; those with pronounced loss of appetite ( = good proxy for decline of metabolic rate?) shrivel up bigtime. (Ever had to change next to/for aging parents? The main losses are assuredly muscle.) Sure, older people need to keep moving, but that's not useful enough if their caloric intake drops a bit every day. Yes, the best examples of 'skinny-fat' are the elderly, which would be entirely consistent with lower metabolic rate. And here I'm talking *spontaneous* CR from not being hungry; deliberate CR would probably just exacerbate the effect.

Then again, all the elderly people in my family have been those who got thin and frail, not the ones who became plump with age. Maybe for the latter kind CR might be advisable? But why not focus primarily on exercise/moving more instead? All older folks could do with better mobility....

Sue said...

A lot to think about.
Sarah, yes the focus should be maintaining the muscle mass you have for better mobility etc into old age.

Did you see this overeating study:
Bray GA, Smith SR, de Jonge L, et al. Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating. JAMA 2012; 307:47-55

Overeating produced significantly less weight gain in the low protein diet group (3.16 kg; 95% CI, 1.88-4.44 kg) compared with the normal protein diet group (6.05 kg; 95% CI, 4.84-7.26 kg) or the high protein diet group (6.51 kg; 95% CI, 5.23-7.79 kg) (P = .002). Body fat increased similarly in all 3 protein diet groups and represented 50% to more than 90% of the excess stored calories. Resting energy expenditure, total energy expenditure, and body protein did not increase during overfeeding with the low protein diet. In contrast, resting energy expenditure (normal protein diet: 160 kcal/d [95% CI, 102-218 kcal/d]; high protein diet: 227 kcal/d [95% CI, 165-289 kcal/d]) and body protein (lean body mass) (normal protein diet: 2.87 kg [95% CI, 2.11-3.62 kg]; high protein diet: 3.18 kg [95% CI, 2.37-3.98 kg]) increased significantly with the normal and high protein diets.

Among persons living in a controlled setting, calories alone account for the increase in fat; protein affected energy expenditure and storage of lean body mass, but not body fat storage.

Sue said...

So for fat loss and muscle gain need a calorie restricted, higher protein diet.

King said...

I don't think you can gain muscle on a calorie restricted diet. It's more of a question of being able to maintain it. For old age-I like to think Jack Lalanne set the standard.

Sue said...

King, I should also add plus weight training. You can gain muscle on calorie restricted, higher protein, plus weight training I'm sure? Once you are at goal weight then yes need to maintain the fat loss and keep the muscles you do have.

Prof. Dr. Andro said...

just a quick note, I don't know if you are aware of that but carbohydrate restriction in particular appears to prolong life by increasing mitochondrial oxidative stress <> the mitohormesis hypothesis and not vice versa... therefore going low carb is the "non-miserable" alternative to doing tons of cardio and eating low calories for your whole life >

another promising approach would be intermittent fasting or any other way to balance the AMPK <> mTOR seesaw (some background in my own article >

Sonnenschein said...

Maybe my comment is out of place here but I have searched the Asylum and didn´t find a post where this is mentioned: What is you stance on protein restriction and logevity (Perfect Health Diet)? I have found some articles that seem to suggest that mentionnine restriction is a proven method to increase lifespan and there is a lot of information on how high(er) protein intake, especially from dairy sources) promotes increase in IGF-1 that is related to some types of cancer. I would love to hear your opinion on this, especially as your own diet seems to be high in protein. Maybe you have already posted on this and could provide a link? Thank you very much!

Steph said...;health

MRIs show how vigorous exercise protects muscle as we age. Pretty cool!

Galina L. said...

Great choice of a conversation! I have been wondering for a while what is the point of adding extra calories without a particular reason if a calories restriction was proved to be an important tool for a health management? Actually , limiting the amount of food it is the key distinction between paleo-style of diet and LCarbing, in my opinion.
You also touched another interesting area - the criteria of a perfect diet. It seems to be logical to assume that fast metabolism suppose to increase the speed of aging. On another hand, it is considered to be desirable to be able to eat a lot, stay energetic and hot as opposite to be lethargic and shivering. So, do we choose between fast aging and a long life when we choose a diet that makes us more energetic? Lets for a moment forget about food . There are other things that alter the speed of one's metabolism. You mentioned that surprising number of LCarbers are hypo-thyroidal. I am the one. My energy level was affected the most by a switch from a synthetic form of a hormone replacement to a natural desiccated thyroid. After the medicine change I stay warm when my husband is cold, and I don't need as many hours of sleep as before. Will it increase my speed of aging? It should, but it also improves the quality of my life. I don't know, if is it a fare comparison with a high fat diet. Eating coconut oil makes me definitely warmer. Usually there are several factors that affect the speed of metabolism at the same time. Exercise increases it, weight loss and calories restriction decrease. Somebody who lost weight needs less calories than a person at the same weight who is weight stable. May be one thing cancels another, and at the end of the day we usually don't aim for just a longevity when we make a conchies decision about a life-style choice, but being guided by the differences it makes in the quality of everyday life. It is difficult to imagine, for example, that some dedicated runner will stop running because excessive cardio will age him faster because running increases the quality of his life, but an injury will make the trick.

justjuliebean said...

BF thinks that women live longer than men for just this reason, also that we tend to run a bit colder (not body temp necessarily, just that he'll be comfy and I cold, or me comfy, him too warm). Seems I have a cousin into CR, he's never had a weight problem, just wants to extend. I told him I had no interest in living longer, just want to not die decrepit and frail. Though lifestyle definitely can make a difference (smoking, SAD-eating, alcoholism), it seems to me lifespans are somewhat genetically determined. It's more a question of if you want to live your last 10-20 years feeling like crap and hard to move, or as a functional old person.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Definitely protein seems to increase lean mass in calorie surplus -- check out this recent tweet:!/CarbSane/status/154621902663593984

Of studies I've seen, sufficient protein in weight loss helps minimize LBM losses, but cannot prevent them. You always lose and gain LBM. Resistance training helps minimize losses too, and can increase slightly. I've never seen someone bulk up muscle-wise while losing significant weight. It may appear that way to the person who can now see and feel their more toned muscles as the fat thins, but I've not seen this in controlled studies where body comp is measured.

Wow Steph, those ladies are INSPIRING!!

@Sonnenschein: IGF-1 is another bogeyman in my opinion. See for example. We're told (and I agree) that glucose control is important, IGF-1 plays a key role here. Yet we're told it causes cancer. Well so does any anabolic hormone by that logic. I think Paul puts the threshold for protein toxicity a bit too low. And if not, this is one area where I say this is key to maintaining for me, so I'll take my chances.

I agree with Galina (and others) here b/c quality of life is way more important than length in the end. (OTOH, I do wish that 13 y.o. Evelyn would have listened to the doc about my knees -- volleyball and gymnastics might not have been best for them at the time) What good am I at 100 if I have to rely on someone else for my existence?

Thanks for chiming in Dr. Andro! That mitohormesis one went into the library :) C.elegans eat E.coli. What is the nutritional composition of those? Do we know?

bentleyj74 said...

@ Galina

"So, do we choose between fast aging and a long life when we choose a diet that makes us more energetic?"

This seems like a heads I win tails you lose sort of choice. A diet that produces good health is a diet that produces healthy energy levels. A diet that produces good health is also a diet that improves longevity. None of the long lived populations have been LC and the single LC population we know much about was not particularly long lived/slow aging. Specifically with regard to aging it was noted that the Inuit appeared older than they were/aged quickly. Is that diet related? Who knows. The long lived + calorie restricted population most commonly cited [okinawans] were CR/high carb.

I don't think these things inform us beyond suggesting that we don't need to make sadistic choices of the "either this thing I need/want OR that thing I need/want" variety.

Sanjeev said...

> minimize LBM losses, but cannot prevent them

wouldn't a dieter want to lose one small portion of lean body mass eventually?

Specifically the skin and internally, the connective tissue / collagen matrix holding adipocytes in place, plus the vasculature and other stuff I can't think of right now ... ?

It might be a small amount of weight AND it looks like this doesn't happen on any short term basis, I would hope that it would eventually, say after maintaining a substantial fat loss for 10 to 20 years one's body/brain realizes that stuff's not needed anymore & stops maintaining it - stops renewing the collagen, stops recreating dead adipocytes.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

@Sanjeev: Yeah, I think it's part of my problem. There is no other explanation for the differential in size at my current weight vs. decades ago other than that I have higher LBM. I've never had body fat measured, but my bone density was off the chart compared to 30 yo women.

@JJB: Yeah,one way to look at it is that we are somewhat pre-disposed to have a maximum lifespan and we take years off with less than optimal environment/nutrition/habits. So let's say mine is 90, I suppose if from birth to whenever, every day of my life I ate 80% of what my twin eats, perhaps I live to 100. Eh ... quite the gamble especially if it doesn't pan out. OTOH, if I drink excessively, smoke and don't swear (because swearing can release tension - grin) while my potty-mouthed non-smoking twin drinks a glass of fine red wine a day, I may make it to 65 while she makes it to 88.

In this regard, I think that which keeps us as fully functional as possible in all human capacities -- motion, strength, intellect, memory, organ function -- should extend our lives to the max we can possibly attain.

Galina L. said...

@ Bentley,
If what you said is true "A diet that produces good health is also a diet that improves longevity", and it sounds indisputable, than my diet should promote longevity because I became resistant to infections and have no more asthma and the reduction in eczema symptoms. At the same time my diet doesn't resemble Okinawan diet, because it is LC, but not resemble what Inuits eat because it is calorie restrictive. So, what is the best criteria, the reference to the existing group of people, a lab research, or individual experience? Individual experiences may vary. However, if I was told now that I would age faster on my diet, I would rather live shorter healthier life. The miserable time between 45 years of age and 46, when my health was deteriorating quickly, is still fresh in my memory. May be in 20 years it would be a different answer, little Evelin enjoyed her sports despite what doctor told.

Frank said...

Prof. Dr. Andro

How would, again, the Okinawan fit in that picture, these people which 80% of their food intake comes from potatoes, and that have one of the best longevity score? I'll take human epidemiological data over worms study anytime. So clearly there are factor more important than being low-carb, such as caloric restriction, which was the case for the Okinaway ppl.

Also, IF has no longevity benefits when there is no calorie restriction associated with it.

See Michael Rae discussion of the issue here

eulerandothers said...

'What good am I at 100 if I have to rely on someone else for my existence? '

There's a good interview with Maurice Sendak on (Fresh Air with Terry Gross). He has watched his long-time partner die of cancer, and many others he loved have died. According to him (unable to walk much because of heart problems, but able to write and draw and listen to music), the painful thing about old age - he is 83 - is outliving people.

It's worth listening to the interview (you can listen to it at the website) because one of the best things about his life now is that he still does have some people he relies on, who willingly give him attention and some companionship that he needs. They are young and likely to be around awhile...

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

HEY FRANK!!!! Do you remember that study where some had REE go up with weight loss and some down from a month (or two?, time flies!) back? I wasn't able to get full text. If you could email it to me, I would be greatly appreciative. carbsane at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance!

Speaking of CR and alternate day fasting, I'll have to look for the link, but it actually came from that CR Society. It involved cardiomyopathy or something with every-other-day fasting.

bentleyj74 said...

"@ Bentley,
If what you said is true "A diet that produces good health is also a diet that improves longevity", and it sounds indisputable, than my diet should promote longevity because I became resistant to infections and have no more asthma and the reduction in eczema symptoms. At the same time my diet doesn't resemble Okinawan diet, because it is LC, but not resemble what Inuits eat because it is calorie restrictive. So, what is the best criteria, the reference to the existing group of people, a lab research, or individual experience?"

That is my point exactly. It would be ludicrous for an individual to say "Well, sure it's making me sick but I expect it to extend my longevity so suck it up buttercup".

My diet doesn't resemble the Okinawan diet either because I'm not currently living in the aftermath of a war in a tropical environment. LC doesn't even slightly resemble a traditional Inuit diet.

I agree with Evelyn :"In this regard, I think that which keeps us as fully functional as possible in all human capacities -- motion, strength, intellect, memory, organ function -- should extend our lives to the max we can possibly attain."

Tonus said...

Isn't there also the consideration that diet (and even exercise) may only be a pretty small factor in how long we live? Without knowing how much of an effect diet and exercise have on my lifespan, I'd just as soon tailor my lifestyle towards how beneficial it is in terms of present and future health.

I am of the same mind as others here, who don't see the benefit of living to an old age but being in very poor condition or health. Given the choice to live to 70 in excellent health or live another ten years being spoon fed mashed peas and wishing that someone would trim my damned eyebrows, I'd take the former.

I'd rather live, than simply live longer.

Steph said...

Yes, the ladies were impressive! But I was more excited by the MRIs of the muscles of the active vs. inactive seniors.

Sarah Barracuda said...

@Evelyn, re: protein - much are we talking about here? IMHO, 2g/kg lean mass seems more than enough; while I don't think PHD protein guidelines are generous, they also don't seem stinting to me. I haven't done my paleoanthropology/extant traditional cultures homework, but I imagine even the active MEN weren't/aren't getting much more than 100g/day (150g/day tops?).

You know that old 'muscle burns more calories than fat' broscience BS? I'm surprised I haven't read this idea somewhere (maybe it's been expounded endlessly, and I've just missed it), but I gotta believe that it's the *repairing* of broken-down muscle (from training--even when no DOMS results) that consumes calories, not the mere existence of muscle tissue. So I bet that fat, skinny-fat, or she-hulk-ripped, the average woman's protein requirement just isn't that high--and increases only upon hard weight-bearing exercise. Appetite control aside, I'm sure the average sedentary woman could do just fine on 50-70g/day, with muscle/bone maintenance determined primarily by exercise.

BHI said...

@ Frank I'll take human epidemiological data over worms study anytime.

I totally agree with this. I have been reading health blogs for years and even when vlc was in vogue, I just couldn't make it fit in with any 'healthy' long lived society. Now if only it was easy in our current environment to eat 'not to be full' but 'to be no longer hungry'!

Sue said...

Sarah, did you see the protein matrix by Cate Shanahan, scroll down once on link:

Most say .8 - 1g protein for every pound lean muscle I believe.

Princess Dieter said...

I've spent 28 years praying daily to die before my husband. I do NOT want to outlive him, as I'm way younger than all my siblings (who are in ther 70s and 60s) and already suffered the loss of my parents and aunts and uncles...

I'm interested in quality of life, period. If it's 5 years, so be it. I want to be able to walk and see and hear and wipe my own butt for the long haul. I saw my mom and dad suffer horrors in their last years, with docs doing all they could to extend life, and it scared the poop outta me (though I assume that was good for my bowel health).

I want to enjoy my time, and then go with as much of my capacities as possible. I do not want to rely on folks to bathe me, feed me, wipe my backside or drain my pee with catheters. Dependence like that scares me more than death, honestly.

So, I'm keeping hubby as healthy as I can, so I can die first. :D And I'm keeping healthy to enjoy my years with him, while I pray he gets a radically fabulous second wife for his last years. :D He deserves it. (But I insist on preceding him to the great beyond...)

Sarah Barracuda said...

@Sue - 0.8-1.0g/lb. lean seems a bit on the high end for a sedentary woman. Not toxic or anything, but err...unnecessary. Re: Cate's matrix, the horizontal progressions (protein up as activity up) make sense to me...but the vertical progressions (protein up as body mass up) make me raise an eyebrow. I just doubt there is that much variation in amount of lean tissue between people of different weights (but same sex).

Harry said...

Just to concur with Sarah...1.0g/lb LBM is more than enough...even for an active individual.

The thing to remember here is that carbohydrate is protein sparing (which effectively means that protein and carbohydrate are somewhat interchangeable - only up to a point, of course!). So, if you're getting ample carbohydrate and moderate protein, you'll be fine. If, on the other hand, you're on a high fat/low carb diet, then keeping the protein at 1.0gm/lb LBM is a good idea. As with all things diet-related, context is everything.

Speaking anecdotally, I have some vegetarian clients that are bodybuilders and fitness competitors who do well on lower protein/high carb diets (about .5gm/lb LBM protein). I've also experimented on myself over the years with varying protein intakes and have noticed no discernible differences in muscle mass (although other differences were apparent, like satiety and alertness).


King said...

I think Krieger or Aragon had some data showing how much an extra pound of muscle added to your metabolism. It wasn't much (10-30 kcals?).
As for protein, ~1g/kg LBM is sufficient. That 2-3g number I've seen floating around is the recommended intake for people wanting to build a lot of mass.
And finally, for living with health as you age, I doubt stressing about whether to eat 20g or 50g of CHO, or the amount of calories, is the right way to go.

Prof. Dr. Andro said...

wow, one day not checked and already so many comments that I can hardly chime in on all of them...

let's see
@evelyn: E-coli is a bacterium and although this is a very simple organism consisting of not much a nucleus, a single chromosome, ribosomes, plasma membrane and a rigid cell wall, I doubt there are ANY carbohydrates let alone sugars or fructose in e-coli ;)
On the other hand, I don't like the whole "what are we (in this case elegans) supposed to eat" b****, it is nice for hypothesis formation but of little value to determine "optimal" nutrition (same is true for exercise and EVERY other area of our life)
So, does elegans live longer, because he "is not supposed to eat sugar?" ... if you are religious the answer may be yes... if you are a scientist the answer is, "no, it lives longer, because the metabolic processes related to the extraction of energy from ..." in this case this distinction may not be important, but I have been conversing with a friend lately, who is onto something we were certainly not supposed to eat (it is a carbohydrate / starch by the way, so be scared), but could easily be labeled "optimal" in terms of what will happen to your body composition when you eat that stuff... now in that case the question is 500lbs Mr. X "supposed to eat this starch" becomes nonsensical, when it may be the "optimal" way for him to lose weight effectively.

and with regard to the Bray study the main message of the study (I have a graph + some data on the SuppVersity, also the link to an interview with the author) is that calories count in terms of body fat. You cannot get away with eating 140% of the calories you "need" (not calculated but measured by just looking at what you eat, when you maintain your weight) without getting fat *fullstop*... moreover, a way more prudent strategy to make use of the muscle building effects would be to specifically and strategically consume those amino acids which are responsible for this effect, i.e. BCAAs and leucine, in particular... but I guess until mainstream science is starting to grasp what the "lepers", like Stuart Phillips and even Jeff Volek, who dare to do research that is not intended to manage put to prevent disease and in Phillips case even worse *irony* to improve athletic performance, have been preaching for years...

sorry, if I ignored half of the discussion ;-)

Sue said...

Harry said:
"The thing to remember here is that carbohydrate is protein sparing (which effectively means that protein and carbohydrate are somewhat interchangeable - only up to a point, of course!). So, if you're getting ample carbohydrate and moderate protein, you'll be fine. If, on the other hand, you're on a high fat/low carb diet, then keeping the protein at 1.0gm/lb LBM is a good idea. As with all things diet-related, context is everything."

Thanks for that - makes sense.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

@Sarah: PHD specifies protein at 15% which, for me at the time I began experimenting with PHD would have been about 225 calories = 56g. Of all the recs in PHD, I remain unconvinced on the macro breakdown as optimal. Even at 2000 cal/day (a level that I would most certainly gain weight on) protein would come out to 75g. I generally got around 125g/day at the time. Thinking on this I'm probably more in the 80-95g range these days as I'm eating more carbs. My protein came out to like 30-35% at the time (more than twice PHD). I still get plenty of fat, but not near as much as PHD. I see the diet as more useful regarding the types of foods to eat and micronutrients of interest, than for a macro prescription. I don't see how PHD macro ratios are achieved eating real whole foods. I do not consider added fats as whole foods.

(BTW, even though Paul generously provided me with the hardcopy, I recently purchased PHD on Kindle. Electronic books are da bomb for being able to search out what you're looking for. I have currently misplaced the hardcopy, but it seems there are some changes in the Kindle update.)

Frank said...


Indeed, that's another problem with the LC fanatics. When you look at things objectively, one has to admit that all the long lived society did it on a high-carb diet, so clearly it's possible to at least live long despite a high carb diet. Now, maybe a low-carb diet would be even better, we can't say for sure, but at least we know that high-carb is not anti-longevity.

Personnally, i'm not going to do it because I like my meat and I don't think a little is problematic, but I still can say objectively that a vegan diet will intelligent supplementation is probably the best diet to go with. High carb, moderate fat, low protein, low-calorie diet with supplements is probably the best thing to do, health wise at least, and this is consistent with the long lived society (minus the supplements).

@Evelyn, I'll send the paper through the day, it seems that sciencedirect is down at the moment, I can't access it.

Is that the study you were talking about?

Chronic alternate-day fasting results in reduced diastolic compliance and diminished systolic reserve in rats.

Personnally, Michael Rae has conviced me that IF is not a safe experiment to try on myself. Not enough long term data in humans, and some negative results in rodents, enough for me to hold on.

If anyone care, I think bodyrecomposition/healthwise diet would come down to this, at least the core of it.

3 meals/day, higher protein, moderate carbs, moderate fat, calorie restricted diet. Higher carbs and calories on training days, lower carbs and calorie on rest day. Get the bulk of the calories and the carbs post-workout.

until you lose some fat, coupled with resistance training to gain muscle mass.

Once you've reach a good body composition (under 12% for man, 20-22% for women)

Then i'd go with a higher carb diet, moderate fat, lower protein diet, maintenance calorie or slightly lower with optimal nutrition (2x RDI of most micro) with safe supplementation (D3, K2, n-3 if no nutritional sources, carninutriments if vegan) and I'd stop caring so much about my diet...

As it has been said here, many factors beside diet determine our time of death and if anything, getting obsessive with it might probably make it worst.

TWJS said...

"There's a good interview with Maurice Sendak on"

A good listen. "It's a blessing to get old."

Sarah Barracuda said...

Thanks, Harry, for your 2 cents! My personal experience (which seems to reflect others') is that protein is more necessary for the initial/'newbie' gains in muscle, than for maintaining it. Were your vegetarian bodybuilders at one point omnivores (or are they lacto-ovo veg)?

Realized wording was terribly off in my prev comment: "I just doubt there is that much variation in amount of lean tissue between people of different weights (but same sex)"--I meant that there is a very clear upper limit on the amount of lean tissue (muscle OR bone) that people (especially women) can gain, so it wouldn't make sense for a 200lb. woman to estimate she has 150lb. lean and eat even close to 150g protein. Female bodybuilders are probably max 150lb. total weight (7%BF, so 140lb. lean?), and they're carrying a steroid-enabled amount of extraneous mass.

I know a sports scientist (McGuff? might be terribly misremembering) described how he thought his obese clients were all weak-willed and should be a lot stronger because they were hauling around so much mass, but then he performed DEXA scans on them and it turned out they had LESS muscle than their lean counterparts, if anything....

@Evelyn - Paul mentioned (either a post or Q&A) that his ceiling of 150g and minimum of 600 carb+protein kcals applied absolutely, regardless of one's total caloric needs. However, I don't think the 15% is stingy or dangerous (wrt. sarcopenia, etc.) by any means. He appeals to paleoanthro/current traditional societies in justifying the 15%, and that's compelling to me--people have never had access to overflowing amber fields of...cows. And I'm pretty sure the men got/get priority when it came to serving the meat.

Re: PHD macro ratios, I think it's the carb that's stingy--but I know Paul's coming at it from a 'don't feed infections [via excess glucose]' perspective. I agree on added fats not being whole foods, and use them only for cooking. And yeah, it would be hard to achieve 60-70% fat with whole foods alone (things like chocolate not being a whole food!).

Sanjeev said...

> McGuff? might be terribly misremembering

Doug McGuff did make that point on a youtube video I saw.

garymar said...

McGuff comments about this at length in this article.

Sonnenschein said...

As added fats are adressed here I couldn´t agree more! Added fats make it extremely difficult to keep intake in check (at least for me). I have always been lean and started the Primal/Paleo approach, à la Marc Sisson in the beginning, out of health reasons and gained 6 pounds (and no, it wasn´t all muscle, I didn´t have a broken metabolism and I wasn´t eating too little fat). I just overdid the fat as I hate to measure my food - never did - so I just overdid the added fat (under the delusion I couldn´t gain as long as I kept my carbs low). When I adjusted my diet I lost the weight easily. I am still convinced that fat in whole foods (eggs, dairy, meats, fish - I do not like the fattier cuts of meats other than chicken and fish - ) are healthy and satisfying. And believe me, the people, especially the ladies, who repeat again and again how lean they are on VERY high fat just eat very little food. I mean two eggs and a slice of bacon for breakfast is high in fat as to macro-ratio but it is a low calorie breakfast. Still, I would love to read more on the IGF-1/cancer connection (I commented today in another thread and will not be annoying and repeat myself here), maybe, Evelyn, if you found the time to write a little more on that (if not, I totally understand it, there is so much to adress :-)).

Sonnenschein said...

Just another brief remark on the overfeeding-study mentioned here: So it is possible to gain lean body mass by increasing protein intake without doing resistance exercise (at least the study doesn´t adress exercise)!

Sanjeev said...

> possible to gain lean body mass by increasing protein intake without doing resistance exercise
if you play with Kevin Hall's simulator

you'll see that reducing dietary fat and increasing carbohydrate increases lean mass in the end.

Not enormously but the effect is there ... It just means the data they used to model the simulator (we don't know which data it is) showed this correlation.

Just another data point showing that while the high fat, calorie-reduced diet is reducing the gut and love handles, it could actually be RAISING the body's "fattiness". Really makes me wonder what the high-fat and low carbohydrate calorically-excess diet is doing.

Sarah Barracuda said...

@garymar - Yes, exactly the article I was thinking of; thanks!

@Sonnenschein, Sanjeev - Lean mass gain without resistance exercise--but the assumption is, only with overfeeding and a concomitant (and greater) amount of fat gain, right? Sanjeev, I just played with your simulator a tiny bit, and am surprised at how high their estimates of caloric needs are (~2000kcal for a sedentary woman)....

Sanjeev said...

> surprised at how high their estimates of caloric needs

same for me. There must have been a lot of young muscular men[0] in the data the models are based on.

I've been pointing people there mostly to debunk the notion first that 3500 calories either way means a pound lost/gained

and the second widely held notion that they can diet short term then "ease off" and through some magic maintain the dieted-down numbers.

[0] I try to say it without spitting in righteous indignation ... ; )

Sanjeev said...

It also shows the exponential[0] approach to the limit.

The shape is for those completely unrealistic folks that expect linear progress ... expecting the first week's rate to continue indefinitely and break the diet when "progress" (or is it descent?) slows.

[0] like all science and engineering there MUST be loads of log()'s and exp()'s in there somewhere.

Sarah Barracuda said...

@Sanjeev - Agree. I used to imagine the behavior of a spring (sinusoidal) was a cute analogy for yo-yo dieting, but fastest speed (of weight loss) at equilibrium ('setpoint' weight) obviously doesn't work. And what's the limit supposed to be, anyway? It's likely inching upwards with time, due to aging and compromised 'metabolic status' from all that dieting.

Visible steady progress, never mind linear, is also completely unrealistic simply because people aren't continually recalculating their caloric needs for every pound lost. Never mind decline in leptin levels, etc., which they would have no means of measuring themselves.

Sanjeev said...

King wrote:
I think Krieger or Aragon had some data showing how much an extra pound of muscle added to your metabolism. It wasn't much (10-30 kcals?).
Lyle wrote a well referenced article on this once, but I can't find it now

here's an un-referenced article says about the same thing

Sonnenschein said...

Sanjeev, would you be so kind and provide a link to the source for the fact that a low-calorie-high-fat diet could rise body fat?
Also, it was interesting to do the calorie calculation. Depending on my high activity level I could (according to the calculator) eat up to 2400 kcal in order to maintain my 127 pounds. I am very sure I would gain on this!
From what I understand the overfeeding experiment was done on male subjects. It would be interesting to know if females stored additional protein calories as lean mass as well!

Sanjeev said...


It's one of the recurring themes that has been discussed here for a while. Some of my reading has been on LYle McDonald's forums for the last 8 years as well.

more fat in the liver
more fat being stored intra-muscularly

It's not established that this is harmful when accompanied by reduced calories.

These things are much worse on low carbohydrate plus excess calories but at least the rat/mouse studies show it happens to some extent on maintenance/reduced calories with low carbohydrate.

BUT on reduced calories it looks like fat clears out of the pancreas (but this is for high or low carbohydrate)

Some of the studies are listed in the right hand sidebar under "IMCt", "Hepatic fat" and "Intramyocellular Lipids/Triglycerides (IMCL (15)"

Sanjeev said...

Also note with Hall's simulator we don't know which data was fitted/modeled, and what biological models

The extra lean mass on high carbohydrate could just be extra hydrated glycogen, not muscle.

Or it could be purely a statistical artefact but I would think peer review would have had Hall et. al. check for this last kind of error.

bentleyj74 said...

"I think Krieger or Aragon had some data showing how much an extra pound of muscle added to your metabolism. It wasn't much (10-30 kcals?)."

I heard it was about 5 calories a day. Even if it's a bit more it's certainly not the metabolism machine the trainers like to claim, eh?

"The extra lean mass on high carbohydrate could just be extra hydrated glycogen, not muscle."

I wondered about this too.

In a real time sense the most reliable way to chill out is to be small and light is it not?

Craig said...

Boy am I glad I'm not a mouse! My temperature is 98.6 while moderate carb. On VLC it's 97.2. I'll take that over a mouse study any day. :)

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