Mark Sisson: It's All About the Insulin

If you’ve forgotten everything you ever learned in biology, just remember this and own it: carbohydrate controls insulin; insulin controls fat storage
It's All About Insulin (Well, at Least 80 Percent of It): Eighty percent of your ability to achieve body composition goals is determined by your diet—essentially, your ability to moderate insulin production so you can access and burn stored body fat for energy, while preserving or building muscle. Insulin is an important hormone that transports nutrients into cells for storage. When the delicate insulin balance is abused by habitually consuming too many carbs, cells become insulin resistant; more fat is stored and it becomes increasingly difficult to burn. This sets the stage for the development of serious conditions like Metabolic Syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Synthesis of testosterone and human growth hormone are hindered by excessive insulin production, creating an artificially accelerated aging process. There are also serious immediate drawbacks to consuming high-carb snacks or meals. The sugar high-insulin release-stress response cycle causes problems with fatigue, mental focus, mood swings, and jitters, resulting in the familiar condition of burnout. The regulation of insulin production is perhaps the most important takeaway message of the Primal Blueprint for preventing obesity and many modern health problems.
[For Weight Loss] Bottom line: It’s all about insulin to enjoy effortless lifelong weight control.

It’s as simple as this: if you have excess body fat, it’s directly reflective of the amount of insulin you produce from your diet combined with your familial genetic predisposition to store fat.
No, Really—It’s All About Insulin: The insulin story is perhaps the most health-critical concept in the book, so I want you to fully understand it on both a practical and a biochemical level. Like so many things in life, a moderate amount of insulin is good and a lot can be bad —very bad.
From The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
2009,  PDF pp. 190, 219, 30, 150, 154 respectively

Some Comments

  • My introduction to "paleo" was through discussions of MDA on Jimmy Moore's forum.   For me, it was clear from day one that Mark was a low carber.  He did seem to sanction fruit and with his "big ass salads" basically encouraged not worrying over the carbs in non-starchy veggies.  I didn't have the book at the time so relied on information on his website.  The book, as you can see from the excerpts above -- and I had to seriously chop that down -- is very heavy on the insulin theory.   We don't hear quite as much about insulin from Mark in his writings and interviews as one might expect after reading this book.
  • Mark was distinctly anti-starch for TWICHOO (Taubes Wrong Insulin Carb Hypothesis Of Obesity) reasons.  Indeed, as I've linked to before, in many of the "is it primal?" type posts, starch content was a deciding factor.  See for example his post about buckwheat.
  • Especially in LC circles, Mark is famous for his Carbohydrate Curve, which I have fun with here at The Asylum from time to time.
  • Here's an example of Mark softening his stance on insulin a bit:  Dairy and Insulin.  This was written about one-to-two months after Jimmy Moore's first data dump post, asking a butt ton of "experts" about insulin in response to James Krieger's awesome series.  Here's the link to my Insulin Wars series (responding to several of the contributors):  Insulin Wars II: Mark Sisson.  A Cliff notes of Mark's comments would be that we need an easily understood slogan (it's the insulin to replace CICO/ELMM), and it's not really important that it is correct because we want to maximize buy in. Mark's response to Jimmy's query was probably the single most honest thing I've read from a paleo/primal/LC guru.  But ...
  • With statements such as the quotes excerpted here, in Primal Blueprint Mark Sisson backed himself into a corner.  It would be difficult, if not impossible, to go back on all of this for the reason that it is all stated so definitively.  Even Taubes peppers his writing with enough qualifiers like "probably" or "it could be" that there may well come a day when he lays down his TWICHOO sword and says, oh nevermind.  Those, like Mark, who were influenced by Taubes will not have it so easy, and I can only see more difficulties as paleo goes through continuing growing pains.
  • After reading PB, along with Wolf's, it does serve as a reminder of what many expressed in comments here in recent discussions.  The "new" attempted co-opting of paleo by LC (let's be honest, the market share grab by Jimmy Moore) is nothing new.  Paleo & LC have deep roots.  From my vantage point, the paleo community is trying to find ways to counter the revolution of sorts that occurred circa late 2010 through 2011 and continued into 2012 -- with prominent blogger after prominent blogger after frequent participant of forums/blogs jumping ship from the USS TWICHOO or "coming out" as folks who had smuggled potatoes and such aboard all along.   Thus ...
  • The primary source of conflict will remain the enshrinement of TWICHOO in books like Primal Blueprint.
  • Mark has clearly changed his schtick to focus on ketosis, fat burning and glucose and aging.   Props to him for being able to alter the message just enough, but it is incongruous with what is written in PB which is incontrovertibly TWICHOO.
  • As to the first quote, I cringe every time I read similar.  Whether it's Mary Vernon (MD) or Mark Sisson (BA, Biology), this notion that you learn carbs drive insulin drives fat accumulation in biology classes is way overstated.  I have a BS in Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and in my junior year I flirted with a Chem/Bio double major, switched officially to Chem, and then back to where my heart led me:  Biology.  But as such I took two biochemistry classes (one from the Bio dept, the other a grad level class from the Chem dept), A&P and an advanced A&P lab).  Before leaving the pharmaceutical industry to study full time, I was pursuing an MS in Biomedical Engineering  at night, and took yet another A&P class.  This is not to mention several relevant electives on Cell and Molecular bio.  Y'all know my memory by now.  I just unearthed one of the Biochem texts, and yes it mentions insulin in like one paragraph of a 2.5" thick text.  Really peeps, I have no recollection of this kind of focus on insulin, and most of the people discussing this are 10 or more years older than I am.  It may well be more of a focus in current biology curricula, but it just wasn't a major focus.   Even in my A&P lab where we anesthetized giant white bunnies, cannulated various veins and ducts and injected them with various hormones to see changes in blood pressure, fluid fluxes and the like (Guyton Textbook of Medical Physio was our text for this 3 credit lab for which we were required to cite peer review sources in our write-ups), I don't recall insulin being one of them.   So this whole notion that this principle is widely taught with any degree of emphasis, let alone that folks who learned biology have somehow forgotten it, is rather bogus.  Again, perhaps with the rise in obesity and diabetes necessitating greater knowledge of metabolism, this may have changed some for younger folks ... I can only hope they haven't dumbed down insulin to this level :-(
  • I have a dream.  I know it will never happen.  But healing in the greater community would come quite easily if those who most forcefully promoted TWICHOO from an evolutionary basis could come out with definitive corrections of the record.  Problem is, doing so, would be quite difficult for those making the corrections.  


Puddleg said…
That's the thing when you write a book; your then understanding is frozen in time. We must wait for the revised edition; Mark Sisson's New Primal Blueprint.

Assuming the ICHOO is in fact "wrong", does that mean it is irrelevant? If not, what is its likely relevance to the question?

What I like about ICHOO is that everyone nuances it slightly differently. It's a flexible dogma, and no-one seems mind a little variation. Some say "refined carbs", some say "fructose", some throw in seed oils. It's even flexible enough to support a "food reward" component if it includes the word "insulin".

I liked this version of it from an Amazon review of Rocky Angelucci's "Don't Die Early: The Life You Save May be Your Own", and the writer's comment:

"Any time the glucose level in the body climbs higher than 80 mg/ dL or so, the body must metabolize that glucose quickly. This means releasing the hormone insulin, which, when released into the bloodstream will do the following:

Cause the fat in the bloodstream to be pulled into fat cells so that the glucose, and not the fat, will be metabolized.

Activate the glucose receptors on the cell membranes so that the cells can begin pulling glucose into the cells for energy.

When the cells have metabolized the glucose and the glucose level in the bloodstream drops into the normal range, the insulin level drops as well. The lowered insulin levels then tell the body to release fat from the fat cells so that the body can use fat as an energy source, a process called gluconeogenesis, the conversion of non-carbohydrates into glucose. In a healthy, non-diabetic person, the body switches effortlessly back and forth between using glucose for energy and using fat for energy, shuffling fat into and out of the fat cells, as needed, to maintain blood glucose levels in a healthy, narrow range."

That finally made the process click.

Fascinating book that I highly recommend. Bought it for my mom to reinforce her efforts regarding eating well.

Btw have been Very Low Carb High Fat since January 2011. I have lost 55 pounds and am stronger at 56 than I have ever been...which is wild considering I used to do Judo (15 years) and Race Off-Road Motorcycles (10 years). For the last 6 months I have fasted during the work week, eating one meal a day at night. I am amazed at the results...truly I am no one special and if I can do it you can too.

Evelyn, it would be really interesting to compile all these variant ICHOOs in one place; have a museum of them, with a classification system and so on. Is that what On the Record is?
CarbSane said…
Hi George,

As regards: That's the thing when you write a book; your then understanding is frozen in time.

That's the problem. It's hard to say that this was just his (and he's got lots of company in this regard) "then understanding". He presented that "then understanding" in bold affirmatives. Even his 20% can probably not rescue him much. He's a marketing genius -- or at the very least has tapped into a niche -- and you can see him altering the message. We now have fat burning beast, how we were born to be fat burners, etc. I haven't listened to the more recent ATLCX w/Jimmy yet on ketosis.

All ICHOOS seem to trace back to Taubes an his made up theories. In Jonathan Bailor's version, he even exhumed the defunct glycerol phosphate argument! The carbs drives insulin drives fat (and diabetes) meme is simply not supported by common sense or the facts -- which is why it is not debated by scientists. Even those like Feinman tends to stay away from this, favoring the metabolic advantage argument.

As to the book? Well from his website we have the subtitle "Pursuing optimum health through self-assessment and dispelling misconceptions about nutrition and medicine along the way." followed by the following endorsement from someone who mangles science every chance he gets, Fat Head!

"In Don't Die Early, Rocky Angelucci explains the actual science of diet and health in clear, simple language anyone can understand. If you're confused by all the conflicting health advice in the media, read this book. By the time you finish it, you'll probably know more about nutrition and health than your doctor." --Tom Naughton, creator of the documentary "Fat Head"

The actual science, and you'll know more than your doctor! SIGH. If the quote from that review is accurate, then this Rocky guy is even more incorrect than his predecessors. But the Fat Head endorsement gives us a clue where he gets this application of the glucose-fatty acid cycle that, while operable in higher beings, is more applicable to lower animals. This is discussed on p. 218 of Newsholme & Start (seminal Taubes reference) and the triglyceride/fatty acid cycle. Is Rocky really implying that fats -> glucose for fuel? He definitely seems to be promoting Naughton's fantastical you're as fat as you need to be to regulate blood glucose levels, though it appears glucose transport into adipocytes deteriorates before it's transport into peripheral cells in the progression of diabetes.
CarbSane said…
P.S. The On the Record series was something I've been thinking about for a while. Depending on how things go with my likely migration to WordPress (still not 100% committed to that yet) I've toyed with playing off the Asylum theme and how hospitals have wings, I've thought of setting up honorary wings dedicated to various LC memes and having the guru's pictures on the walls who perpetuate each. In any case, the purpose of whatever develops is, as the series states, to present what it is that various gurus are on the record as saying. I don't know how many times I've been engaged in conversations where someone says something like "well, So-and-so never said that, they believe XYZ". I don't have the time to dedicate to building comprehensive lists in short order. My hope is that it can accumulate over time, and I'm happy to update/clarify if any of those cited have changed their positions.

BTW: I think Sisson has a slight out available to him from his repeated mentions in PB of activity -> insulin sensitivity -> lower proportional insulin response and shunting of nutrients into muscle cells vs. fat cells. Still, it's hard to get past "it's all about the insulin" for body composition when it is specifically about getting fat.
Unknown said…
Fat is the better fuel and if you aren't experiencing that, then it is because you aren't eating enough FAT. You have to make your diet fat-centric, you have to bathe in the fat, you have to make it the focal point of your universe.

Only when you are exchanging "High Fives" with your fat-centered brothers and sisters will you enjoy the true meaning of being a Fat Burning Beast.

You will become a HUMAN TORPEDO of fat, nothing can stand in your way.

With the power of FAT, why are you even reading this, you should be eating FAT, there is nothing in the universe that you cannot achieve.

But you have to EAT More FAT!
Puddleg said…
The thing is, following Angelucci or McNaughton or Sisson, you might not know more than your doctor, and you might be confused about some things you doctor has straight, but, will you get healthier than you would following the diet advice your doctor or government is likely to give you?
I'd say the odds of that are pretty high.
The fact is, you doctor is not going to discuss metabolism with you anyway, or, if they do, they will break it down into soundbites even more inane than any coming from low-carbers.
I think what the low-carbers have is a RESULT. They then struggle to explain it. The Taubsean view seems to explain it, but you could probably make a living suggesting that it was all down to acid-alkali balance or ions.

Angelucci makes it seem (in that quote) as if the only purpose of stored fat is to supply glucose when we're not eating carbs.

We evolved to be metabolically flexible, to a) eat a variety of fuel types, then b) function without eating. If we forget b) we lose the flexibility to perform a). Because b) is metabolically closer to the VLC diet, VLC is one way to reboot and regain the metabolic flexibility, or compensate for its loss.
But this doesn't mean that VLC promises better health and longer life to the already healthy. That probably depends more on details (such as optimal nutrient intakes and avoidance of toxins, as well as non-diet factorrs) than on macronutrient ratios.

Estimates from the decomposition statistical models suggest that between 1977–78 and 1989–91, annualized changes in Portion Size contributed nearly 15 kcal/d/y to increases in Total Energy, while changes in Eating Occasions accounted for just 4 kcal/d/y. Between 1994–98 and 2003–06 changes in Eating Occasions accounted for 39 kcal/d/y of increase and changes in Portion Size accounted for 1 kcal/d/y of decline in the annualized change in Total Energy.
Sanjeev said…

> With the power of FAT, why are you even reading this, you should be eating FAT, there is nothing in the universe that you cannot achieve.
yes, all the world shall bow down before the ÜÜÜuber powerful FAT.

Mathematically this can be expressed
(∀ everything) Øατ >> ∞

QED - why? ∵

Unless the evil kryptonite (yes, teh 3LiV K@Rb) saps teh t0t@l @MEs0M3ss of the ALL powerful FAT. It's up to SuperTaubes(®©™) and his sidekicks @¿¿¦a and WW00re and bro-on to save the day.

Wish I had a bankai like Taubes.

> You will become a HUMAN TORPEDO of fat, nothing can stand in your way.

mischievous symbolism ...

Galina L. said…
"Only when you are exchanging "High Fives" with your fat-centered brothers and sisters will you enjoy the true meaning of being a Fat Burning Beast.

You will become a HUMAN TORPEDO of fat, nothing can stand in your way"

It sounds like a cult mantra. I wish you knew how ashemed for humans I am to read such idiot religious/diet statements. As a LCarber myself for a very simple reason that according to my N=1 experiment it is benefitial for my health, it buggs me immensely to abserve that just diet choise became a way of self-identification for many people. I think it could be plain dangerous to mix diet and ideology. I am absolutely ready to change my diet any time I suspect I am doing something what is not working for me any longer without any consern about what anyone (like diet brothers and sisters) may think about it. I did such things before, and totally prepared to repeat if necessary.
blogblog said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
blogblog said…
The reality is that most of the people in the world lived on high starch diets (60-80% of calories) until very recently. Somehow they miraculously managed to stay slim and healthy.

Occam's Razor would imply that carbohydrates are not really harmful as long as you don't over-eat and under-exercise.
blogblog said…
This paper was based on food surveys. Food surveys are notoriosuly unreliable.

It is quite obvious that people are eating far more food than they were 40 years ago.
Unknown said…
I like Mark and MDA well enough but the people who post there have real cultish qualities.

"Toilet Paper: Is It Primal?
Verdict: Primal"

"Oh Mark thank you so much for allowing me to continue using toilet paper, I've gotten so used to it and would really miss it if I had to give it up!"
Anonymous said…
Blogblog, I agree. But why say 'until very recently'?
Sanjeev said…
Part of the reason I commented is that for a short time I fell for that thinking too. In the final throes of my Atkins experience, trying to get Atkins to work IMHO I needed to convince myself "fat is the preferred fuel in human beings".

I see some intermittent fasting proponents going down this route - trying to cover themselves with a positive blanketing slogan[0], trumpeting each new confirmatory study as proof positive of "rightness" (for some of the proponents it's "righteousness").

For me (I don't come to skepticism naturally and easily) it takes significant effort to to say

"this has pros and cons ... I can try it out without being committed to it, I don't need for it to be all good all the time, I don't need to proselytize, I don't need to be on the lookout for even the tiniest piece of confirmatory evidence. "

[0] appeal to antiquity is the most common here, but fallacy of composition and "reductionist biochemical pathway conformity/righteousness" are not uncommon
blogblog said…
The modern Western Det is high in sugars and highly refined carbohydrates. It is low in starchy vegetables.

Unrefined carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables encourage an anti-inflammatory gut microbiota. Sugar and refined carbohydrates encourage a pro-inflammatory microbiota.
blogblog said…

by 'very recently' I mean whenever very cheap processed foods become freely available in a community.

CarbSane said…
@George, So in your mind, it's OK to make sheet up so long as you can post some success stories and you proudly display your "I'm not a doctor so I can do this and don't take any of this as medical advice" badge. Am I understanding correctly?

Many who go LCHF see their lipids go way outta whack and their health decline. They just don't stick around long if they haven't been too sucked into the echo chamber. You see diets fail people except when it's LC, then people fail the diet.

As to the result, other lifestyles have those too. There we have real living cultures to see the effects over the years, not some combination of cherry picked science, the unknowable and fantasies ... oh ... and don't forget the Inuit! Meanwhile this is why the results of prominent low carbers are important.

In any case, you have a result that can be explained with good old CICO and a splash of food reward. The religiosity of it all seems to help with adherence for some. But there's no metabolic magic and there are simply billions of humans thriving on high carb low fat diets (including Fat Louisa's ancestors despite Taubes' lies about the Pima) who demonstrate that postprandial insulin is not the impetus of fattening.

I'm with blogblog here, one has to be deliberately ignorant to believe we are not overeating as a country.
CarbSane said…
And the one vegetable we've increased consumption of dramatically? Potatoes. As french fries :(
Unknown said…
Re starch and getting fat, I challenge anyone to gain weight on a diet of plain, unadorned rice or potatoes. It is impossible to do, to eat 1800 calories of potato you have to eat over 5 pounds of potatoes per day, that's a lot of potatoes. The reason people run into problems is that they are incapable of eating unadorned starch and have to add fat to make it palatable. So you run into the situation of "I ate a sweet potato and gained weight!" Well maybe if you hadn't added three tablespoons of butter to the sweet potato you wouldn't have gained the weight.
Gadfly said…
"You see diets fail people except when it's LC, then people fail the diet."

Bullshit. This kind of thinking goes on with every diet. Not losing weight? Must be that you haven't chained yourself to the treadmill for long enough. Can't seem to lose those last 10? Must be all that terrible saturated fat in your yoghurt!
Puddleg said…
Evelyn, you are kind of missing the point; why do so many people overeat?
and why, having overeaten, do they not just become more active as a result of the extra energy?
The calorie is a measure of ENERGY not inertia.

Does diet composition have anything to do with this energy failure?

For some people, it does.

Here's another version, Richard Mackarness from 1958. It not only seeks to explain weight gain, but also decreased (or at least inadequate) energy expenditure:

"To go back to the steam engine for a minute: the orthodox view is that a fat man's engine is stoked by a robot fireman, who swings his shovel at the same pace whether fat, protein or carbohydrate is in the tender. This is true for Mr. Constant-Weight, but as he does not get fat anyway, it is only of academic interest to us. It is certainly not true for Mr. Fatten-Easily, with whom we are concerned. Mr. Constant-Weight has a robot stoker in his engine. The more he eats—of whatever food—the harder his stoker works until any excess is consumed, so he never gets fat.

Recent research has shown that Mr. Fatten-Easily's stoker is profoundly influenced by the kind of fuel he has to shovel.

On fat fuel he shovels fast. On protein slightly less fast but on carbohydrate he becomes tired, scarcely moving his shovel at all.

His fire then burns low and his engine gets fat from its inability to use the carbohydrate which is still being loaded into the tender.

Mr. Fatten-Easily's stoker suffers from an inability to deal with carbohydrate, but he can work fast on fat and protein.

What is it that causes Mr. Fatten-Easily to be affected by carbohydrate in this way while Mr. Constant-Weight can deal with all foods alike and burn up any excess automatically, like the robot stoker?

The answer to this question has only recently been found and it is one of the keys to obesity.

Biochemists and physiologists have discovered that Mr. Fatten-Easily's inability to deal with carbohydrate is due to a block in the chain of chemical reactions leading from glucose to the release of heat and energy in his body."

Well of course we can do better to explain this today: but are we any better at asking the right questions and not being sidetracked by red herrings? (lipids out of whack - compared to what? Do you know what your long-lived great grandmother's lipid numbers were? Of course not.)

When I ate sugar and other refined carbs, for years, I didn't gain weight. I just became agitated, hypomanic, bit my nails, fidgeted, walked compulsively, cultivated inflammatory and degenerative diseases. If anything, I lost weight (including an ounce of teeth). I'm like Richard Mackarness's Mr Constant Weight - carbs revved up my system. I needed to overeat to compensate for this energy drain. LCHF, of course, completely cured this syndrome.
Mackarness is right to identify a dichotomy; carbohydrates can influence metabolism in different ways. He also devotes a whole chapter to emotional reasons for over-eating (he was a psychiatrist fist and foremost)

"So far, then, two big factors in the production of obesity have emerged:

A defect in dealing with carbohydrates which makes a person fatten easily on an ordinary mixed diet;
Over-eating especially of sugars and starches as a result of loneliness, fear or emotional dissatisfaction.
When the two factors are present, weight is gained very rapidly.

So anyone who finds himself tempted to over-eat for emotional reasons and who shows a tendency to get fat, should be careful to choose low-carbohydrate foods.

The metabolic defect in the Fatten-Easilies (their tendency to store carbohydrate as fat instead of promptly turning it into energy) is probably hereditary and may be regarded as a failure to make the adaptation to a diet based on agriculture which the Constant-Weights have achieved."
Puddleg said…
P.S. talk about failing the diet vs. the diet failing people reminds me of "intention to treat"
Puddleg said…
I should make an important point about my "eat more move too much" lifestyle: for most of my life I have hated and avoided sports and resented exercise and work. I have preferred reading books and daydreaming.
My revved-up metabolism had nothing whatsoever to do with choice, it was a matter of compulsion. I had as much control over my energy output as a sufferer from OCD does over their compulsions. If this is also true for someone who gets fat easily, what then?
blogblog said…
The Irish were eating up to 4kg of potatoes (800g of carbohydrate) daily without getting fat 200 years ago. They potato-fed Irish were renowned for their incredible tolerance for extremely hard physical labour.
blogblog said…
Unfortunately science has never actually discovered any Fatten-Easies. to support this hypothesis.

I would like to see the LC crowd quote some MODERN science for a change.
Galina L. said…
Many people for whom LCarbing works(like me) recognise themselves in the mister "Fatten-Easy". I feel really, really , really frustrated when I am told it is all in my head, that science deny existance of people who should limit carbs in order to be healthy, or I miscalculated my calories, or I just have to pinch my nose while eating (I actually received such advice from Jeoffrey if I remember properly the name of that quite intelligent and sophisticated opponent in our discussion). My husband is a naturally lean person who believes everybody just needs more exercise.I just can't stand the denying of existing metabolic differences between people because I was suffering on that regard. Btw I am a fit person who enjoys exercising and cooks every meal. Yes, eating real foods trully works for many people, but for some reason such people begin to think that it is the solution for everyone. Blogblog, Geoge tells you he fells better on LC, and he is not alone. Why it is a problem? You need some research to tell you so?
Yes, I have less viggle room in my diet also because I need it for therapeutic reasons (migraines/epilepsy), but sometimes I think that my neurological disorder could be the part of whole body problem with carbs.Everything is connected.Sorry if I am repeating myself, I am mostly reading than commenting nowadays because I think I said already all I had to say.
blogblog said…
Low carbers rely far to much on ancedotes. They ignore the fact that many people don't lose weight (or gain weight) and feel much worse on lowcarb diets.
CarbSane said…
SARCASM ALERT!! I should have put that in the comment. In trying to be as interactive here as possible, I rarely proof my comments and there have been and will continue to be times where I outright misstate something, or, as is the case here, am relying on my audience to recognize my intended sarcasm.

He doesn't troll the web with near the frequency he once did, but that comment was inspired by Fred Hahn ... but his attitude is repeated many times over by popular low carb bloggers and those who frequent forums and blog comments. For them, it is the LF diet that fails and the LC dietER that fails to do it properly. If only the LC'er ate more fat, or didn't eat any fruit, or would eat only this or that, etc.etc. If you're eating 20g carb/day and not losing, well then, that spinach is causing your problems. Fred used to tell the tales of his failing clients lying to him as he would catch them eating donuts behind his back. According to his ilk, everyone loses weight eating LC. Everyone, and if you don't, you are doing it wrong.

Speaking of the last 10 lbs, that is far more a concern amongst traditional dieters than LC'ers. Anecdotal, yes, but LC'ers tend to plateau out and struggle losing the last 20 or more pounds. This is where those with only some weight to lose come in as well. They can be frustrated with other approaches, but it doesn't seem to work well at all for the women with "only" 20 extra pounds to lose. For whatever reason (I have my thoughts as to why) it does work for the moderately overweight middle aged man -- and then they're off to the races writing books and making documentaries full of Science Krispie theories on how carbs made them fat and how if you can't lose any more weight eating that way, just be happy or consider giving up that salad too!
CarbSane said…
@Unknown, I just had to laugh yesterday after reading your toilet paper comment and what's on MDA? Another roundup of Is It Primal. Spirulina, Chlorella, Mycryo (freeze dried cocoa butter)and freeze dried fruits and veggies all get the "Verdict: Primal" seal of approval. What gets the boot? Amaranth. Not Primal. But, he does acquiesce that if you're eating starch anyway, it can be an alternative. And the leaves taste a bit like spinach. I dislike this notion of calling a real food a pseudo anything. Amaranth is a traditional food of the non-diabetic sprightly Pima and a staple human food of the Aztecs in the 1400's. Not primal enough, we must go back further in time to the day when humans foraged for frozen cakes of cocoa butter to sear their steaks in. Sigh :(

Memo to Mark: Spirulina is 25% carb by weight, 30% carb by calories (adjusting for fiber) -- evil starch! ;-)
CarbSane said…
Yeah, potato diet guy, as far as I know, had a hard time eating all the potatoes he allocated for himself. Potatoes are a particular problem for the TWICHOOB -- they are high GI, insulinogenic, low fat yet satiating.
CarbSane said…
George -- The only point I seem to be missing is why we need to conjur up make-believe metabolic scenarios and exhume old (discarded!!) hypotheses all the time to explain the obvious. I don't have the time to rehash all of this, but carbs/insulin doesn't explain it. There is some evidence against fructose, but I think it's more our national obsession with drinking all the dang time. Every fructose study involves lots of soda, not just one can or even a 20 oz bottle.

Like the lipophilia nonsense, there's no evidence of metabolic types that shovel off fats and not carbs. It's not how the human metabolism works. Most of the LC memes go smack against how metabolism has been demonstrated to work in controlled studies on real humans using sensitive/intricate techniques to measure things -- stuff like radiolabels to trace the origin of fatty acids in triglycerides assembled in the liver.

Over and over and over and over ..... and over^n and again, these theories have been disproven.

Apparently "you'll never be hungry and spontaneously eat less" doesn't sell diet books. I get it.

FWIW, I'm actually kinda fond of Grok. There's clearly a type there that can be reached and encouraged to eat real foods and take an interest in their health and wellbeing, especially the younger folks. I just wish Mark would stick to that and focus on the real food and all that. Heck, keep up with the fat burning beast schtick if you must, but he jumped on the TWICHOO wagon train to mine gold. Doesn't make him a bad person, but it doesn't make it right either.

Sanjeev said…
> So anyone who finds himself tempted to over-eat for emotional reasons and who shows a tendency to get fat, should be careful to choose low-carbohydrate foods.

I was a big baby, a VERY pudgy kid, an obese teenager then an obese adult. If anyone qualifies as "easy fat gainer" that would be me.

I lost weight on low carbohydrate ... for a year. This experience led me to stick to low carbohydrate for a long time.

How long? Long enough to reach my peak obesity on low carbohydrate.

A great many people who successfully lose weight and keep it off only do it after many unsuccessful attempts. The success MAY have happened because they gained experience in all the ways they fail and with that last attempt they had enough experience to deal with the failure modes.

But ask them their "secret" and many won't say "I learned from the failures" ... often they assign magical properties to the last diet.

And concomitantly, magically fattening properties to previous diets.

Or maybe something happened in their lives that lowered their dopamine system's activity. Or raised their executive function above some required threshold.

The actual REASON why any specific person eventually succeeds where they've failed many times IMHO is more up in the air than most will admit.

> P.S. talk about failing the diet vs. the diet failing people

my first exposure to this concept, discussed in great detail from both ends (how dieters fail AND how diets fail)

AND other angles (how diet authors fail, how scientists fail in designing experiments, how people fail in reading science) was from Lyle McDonald at least 5 years ago (when I first read him) and I've seen the ideas attributed to him long before on archives of some BBSes.

But for some reason we can't listen to folks who were way ahead of their time (and ours) applying real science and real rigorous thought long before many of us even knew what these ideas meant, can we? We have to find sciencey woo to prop up our ideas - "sciencey" coat hangers to hang our ideas on, no matter how woo-ey and untested those backstopping ideas are.

> Blogblog, Geoge tells you he fells better on LC

the reported EXPERIENCE (if it is not coloured by memory fallacies and cognitive fallacies) could be a valid signpost ... something for others to try out and see if it works for them.

That would be completely fine.

and it doesn't end there ... there appears to be a trawl through the available woo looking for "sciencey" support. Many of the conclusions in that comment have been torn apart here and many other places. It might pass as an analysis of exceptional rigour ... For anyone who believes Rupert Sheldrake's "great".

The experiential report is fine. The search for scimeras ...

Sanjeev said…
> I feel really, really , really frustrated when I am told it is all in my head

IMHO anyone who explains problems away, minimizing/dismissing them using "it is all in your head" disqualifies themselves from serious consideration
Sanjeev said…
He couldn't get them all down, even though IIRC he did often fry them with some olive oil.
Sanjeev said…
> Over-eating especially of sugars and starches as a result of loneliness, fear or emotional dissatisfaction.

here's some "No sugar or starch"

heavy whipping cream (65% water, 35% fat, zero carbohydrate)
egg yolks (zero carbohydrate)
cyclamate (zero carbohydrate)
sucralose (zero carbohydrate)
aspartame (zero carbohydrate)

(that's an ice cream recipe. 3 sweeteners somehow worked better with the frozen desert)

How about eating 10,000 calories of that ... carbohydrate free ice cream in one day in response to whatever ... loneliness? maybe, I don't remember feeling particularly lonely at peak obesity ... frustration and overwork? more likely than loneliness

... most probable reason I came up with that concoction - love of food plus the delusion that ONLY carbohydrates could make me fat

Intersperse repetitions of that day with many days of excessive calories in bacon and steak and eggs ...

near zero carbohydrate ... CANNOT get fat from that, right?
Galina L. said…
I guess, there is more than one one reason why a person got fat or can't avoid a slow but unstopable weight gain. I reached size 16 in clothes not because I ate fast food or consumed too much ice-cream or candies. LCarbing adressed my reason, killed my hunger and I can enjoy the ability to eat less without discomfort. Maybe you was chabby for a different reason.

Wrong. I really want to give a lot of credit to LC bloggers who report weight gain on their diets. People indeed can over-eat without being hungry any food and gain weight. People are very creative with consuming food - some even manage overeating after the weight-loss surgery.
Puddleg said…
@ Sanjeev, if you think about it, ICHOO didn't predict my experience any more than it predicted yours.
The nature of medicine, as distinct from science perhaps, is that we are all unique and get ourselves into unique situations. The drug that cures one case of a disease, even the best drug that cures most often, might kill the next case. We are all outliers on some graph.
Most classic LCHF diets aren't "all you can eat". That seems to be a recent US innovation. (Atkin's flaw was the desire for popularity, and in the quest for it he became over-permissive - the putative metabolic advantage, a scientific curio at most, was perverted to a metabolic substitute for the Roman nobleman's feather in the throat). If you look at the places where, say, R.D. Feinman or Barry Groves say what they really eat themselves, it turns out they are frugal and abstemious by anyone's standards, apart from preferring fat to carbs.
John Yudkin's LCHF diet in This Slimming Business is like that:
1) take one standard British diet of the day (60s-70s), already high in fat and protein
2) remove most of the carbs without changing fat or protein
3) substitute non-starchy vegetables and some whole fruit for the missing carbs

This diet will automatically have fewer calories and more "other nutrients" and satiating fibre.
Puddleg said…
And I think maybe Yudkin's point was, that restricting the carb component in this way will leave you less hungry than restricting the fat or protein would, and no less nourished.
Which is no doubt the sanest way to look for any benefit of LCHF.
Anything else is just the icing on the cake (you can't eat).
Puddleg said…
Gary Taubes on the record, 3 days ago:

One argument I've been making over and over again is that this isn't about getting everyone to eat meat. We know that there are populations that eat carb-rich diets and don't eat a lot of animal products. This is about getting people to understand that refined grains and sugars are the causes of the chronic diseases that are so common in western societies (assuming, again, that this is correct) and that any diet can be healthier if refined grains and sugars are minimized. If that message gets across -- that it's the carbohydrate content of the diet we should worry about, not the fat -- we might get back to the place where our children or grandchildren can all eat mostly plants, as Michael Pollan would say, and be perfectly healthy.
CarbSane said…
Nice to know that he knows there are populations that eat carb-rich diets! Yeah, like the traditional Pima. Who were NOT fat, which was the title of his last book. He's way late to the don't eat crap carbs party, though he mentioned them frequently to demonize ALL carbs in GCBC. Still, it's no more the carbs per se than the fats per se that upset the apple cart, or butter churn.
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