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Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fat Burning Beast?

I gotta say, whenever I hear about these low carb athletes, blog posts and such flickering through the feed reader and such ... I tune out.   Why?  Because almost invariably when it comes to touting the superiority of the low carb diet, the tent gets very large indeed.  Anyone eating fewer carbs than the mythical "average" American consuming 500g/day is a low carber.  Which is ridiculous on its face, but makes for great hyperbole to blame the carbs for obesity and all manner of evil in the world.  In any case, when one looks a little deeper into the diets of these low carb athletes, they aren't really low carb at all.   

I'm quite tired of this double standard applied by purveyors of low carb wisdom and light.  You see if a study shows even the slightest benefit to LC over the rival diet, it is touted as further evidence of LC greatness, even if after more careful consideration, it was hardly a low carb diet after all.  Yet that same diet fails to elicit the famed LC magic, and all of a sudden low carbers notice and point out that it wasn't really a low carb diet after all.  Sorry.  Can't have it both ways.  


The same goes with athletes.  In comments on my nutty ketosis post, Tim Olson was brought up.  Western States 100 – Low Carber Wins Ultramarathon – Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek Study.  Impressive chap Tim Olson is.  This ultramarathon is 100 miles, and Olson won the event this past summer beating the previous course record by 21 minutes and crossed the finish line 15 minutes before the next racer.  I'm impressed, and there's no sarcasm there.  

I'm having a hard time finding any info on Olson's actual habitual diet, but that's not why I'm writing this.  
STEVE PHINNEY:  All these runners eat and drink throughout the 100-mile race, because you can’t maintain your hydration unless you drink, and most runners find that if you can’t eat during the race, for instance, if you get a upset upset stomach, you drop out.  That’s because if you can’t eat, you hit the wall or do what the other guys call bonking.  Bonking is what happens to runners who are adapted to racing on sugars and carbs, and if they can’t eat enough carbohydrate, their blood sugar drops too low, because there isn’t enough glycogen . . . carbohydrate in their system to make a storage form of carbs called glycogen.  So if these body stores of carbs burn out, blood sugar goes too low, and the brain suffers from inadequate fuel, and if you don’t stop running you’re going to pass out.  With bonking, it feels horrible, and if you don’t stop, then you’re going to go into a coma.
Why didn’t he need much?  And what DID he eat?
STEVE PHINNEY:  I wouldn’t tell you the details even if I knew because it’s confidential research information.  And I don’t think he’d want any of the details of what he’s doing to be public, because, realize, all of a sudden this guy knows absolutely that he’s got a remarkable competitive edge.
That last statement is interesting given what Olson himself tells all to read, but I'll get there.
But Olson did eat – so . . . was it glucose gels?  Or did he go for butter?STEVE PHINNEY:  Well typically he probably wouldn’t eat butter or fat anyway because this guy is a super slim, highly efficient, fat-burning athlete.  He’s got very little body fat, but if let’s say he’s 7% by weight body fat that means he still has at least 30,000 calories of fat in his body when he starts the race.

STEVE PHINNEY:  When the starting gun goes off, 30,000 calories of body fat.  Now, if you run this race typically your body will burn 10,000 calories over the 100-mile course, so he’s got enough to run the race three times over before runs out of fat fuel.  But that’s because he’s a fat-burner.  For the carb loaded runners, who are less adapted to burning fat, at the same starting line, even if they’d done their carb loading to the maximum, the most carb calories they’d have in their bodies is 2,000.  Now, if you’re running on a carb fuel strategy, and you’ll need 10,000 calories to complete the 100-mile race, that 2,000 calories of carb stored in your body at the start of the race is only 1/5 of the fuel that you need to complete the race. 
OK, so Olson is "fat adapted" and burning fat for fuel during the race while the poor high carbers must eat more frequently or they will "bonk" from running out of carbohydrate fuel.  The way Phinney describes it, however, shouldn't a fat adapted runner like Olson need to eat nothing at all?  I mean really, he's got enough fat to fuel his journey, all of his mitochondria, and enzymes, and what not are running smoothly.  At most he needs maybe 50g glucose to help run his brain, right?  

Well, as it turns out, Tim Olson wrote a diary of sorts about the race:  Timothy Olson’s 2012 Western States 100 Race Report

...  I made a stupid mistake and ran through that aid station a little too quickly. I was feeling so good that I forgot to grab any gels. A half mile down the road I realized I only had one gel and was not going to see my crew for 10 miles, yikes; this made me a little nervous, but I was hoping I could make it.
...  When I finally reached the aid station, I was so stoked to get a gel in me, but they did not have one gel without caffeine. I don’t use caffeine and after many bathroom stops at last year’s Western States, I had decided to not use caffeine for this race. I really needed some nourishment quick, so I decided to have a few quick drinks of Sierra Mist and two orange slices.    Not exactly what I had in mind, but it had to do. I knew I would be to my crew in five or so miles and then I could restock my pockets with gels that work for me.
I was a little scared with where my nutrition was going; I was really relying on fat as my fuel with the help of Vespa* and was just hoping my body would ride the climb out. I had to battle many mind games before and during this year’s race. Circumstances don’t always go your way, but figuring them out on the fly is the only way to survive. The day before the race, I decided to be a part of the test studies. I did not eat breakfast Friday because they wanted us to give blood after a ten-hour fast. In the middle of giving blood I got incredibly dizzy, and the next thing I knew I was having crazy dreams and then woke up on the floor. I’ve never passed out before and it was not my ideal situation to experience it for the first time the day before the biggest race of my life. I felt pretty worn out and funky all day Friday, but regardless, I woke up Saturday ready for the journey that loomed ahead. Things don’t always go as planned, but accepting the situation and letting it not get to me helped me through other stages of the race. So I guess my body can take running a 100 miles in less than 15 hours, but giving blood is just too much for it; life is funny.
I entered Michigan Bluff (mile 56) after a big climb, in the lead and ready to get some calories down. I came in feeling okay, but was definitely a little frantic as I relayed information to my crew and restocked on gels and Vespa for the rest of the trip. ...
.... We buzzed through ALT (mile 85) and kept pushing. I had moments where I was fading, but would quickly snap out of that fear of slowing and see all the good in my life....
I tried to keep remembering to fuel, but gels were getting pretty tired. Sierra Mist was working, so I would down a few cups at each aid station and maybe a gel occasionally. ...
... I pulled into Highway 49 (mile 93.5) in quite a daze. I was just too focused on the next step ahead. Krista got me a filled water bottle; I had a few drinks of Sierra Mist and was on my way.
So, *Vespa is "a synergistic blend of naturally-occurring "wasp extract," honey, propolis and royal jelly which athletes of all ages and abilities rely upon fat for steady even energy levels to prevent bonking and intestinal issues, allow quick recovery with minimal muscle soreness and give them that competitive edge."  So I ask ... Should a fat-adapted fat-burning beast need Vespa?  Isn't that for all those carb-loading dolts??  What of these gels?  Well here's an older entry on irunsofar, discussing them.  Mostly they are 100 calorie glucose and/or fructose packs with some electrolytes and amino acids (and caffeine in many).  So again I ask ... Should a fat-adapted fat-burning beast -- using Vespa to enhance their own superior fat burning abilities no less -- still need multiple "shots" of glucose?   Why?

So Phinney and Volek recruited like 25 of the 350 some-odd racers to participate in their study.  About half were "low carbers" -- whatever that means.  And according to the interview, in addition to the winner, one or two more of the men and one of the women who finished in the top were "low carbers".  Sounds like a study from which we will learn a lot.  Sarcasm there.  But really, what's with this tangent?  How well someone utilizes fat for fuel during a 100 mile race, heck for most of us even in a 10 mile race, is totally irrelevant.  You've got people having fat burning dreams playing leisurely games of frisbee golf for crying out loud, and a 100 pound rock climber thinking nutritional ketosis is an experiment worth trying.  

Here I thought low carb advocates -- including the paleo variety -- sought mainstream acceptance of the diet, both for weight loss and ultimately as a lifestyle choice.  Well, if this nutty ketosis stuff keeps going on, this sure isn't going to be helping.  We note that Olson -- as Phinney states -- was not eating butter on the trail, he was sucking down carb gels and Sierra Mist.  Mark Sisson gave this story some "link love" -- I wonder if we'll have an "Is it Primal" edition featuring Vespa and various gels.... I guess Sierra Mist is OK for races because if I'm not mistaken, it's sweetened with sugar, not HFCS.   Look, if a person running their 50th, 75th, 99th mile isn't running entirely on fat stores ... do you think maybe their metabolisms are telling us something?  Olson speaks of filling his pockets with gelS.  If 30,000 calories of body fat isn't enough, what is all this high fat eating good for if not to facilitate more efficient use of dietary fat for fuel as well, right?  Your triglyceride/fatty acid cycles are forever going, why not replenish those stores with a stick of butter??  

The answer seems obvious to me:  our cells NEED glucose.  Even in fat burning mode.  And even a LCHF ultramarathoner needed dietary glucose to win the race.   Quite a bit of dietary glucose.  Or am I missing something?

This seems as good a place as any to ponder Volek & Phinney.  A long time ago I mentioned here that Volek had received funding from Atkins Nutritionals.  This is no secret.  I wondered out loud at the time if that might not just bias his work.  At the very least, folks can be quite skeptical of research funded by Big Pharma or done by some "biased" research group such as a group including Taubes' arch-nemesis George Bray.  Again, there's a double standard there.  In any case, I was challenged a bit about that and looked further into Volek's background ... nothing worth mentioning at the time, but I think maybe it is worth mentioning now.  

Jeff Volek is out of the Education School at UConn, he holds the following degrees:  •Ph.D. Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University, 1999  •M.S. Exercise Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 1995  •R.D. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, 1992  •B.S. Dietetics, Michigan State University, 1991.   Now, he does have a background in nutrition, but when one publishes in peer review journals, it is generally in the field in which they hold their highest degree.  Kinesiology is subject area that is generally associated with sports training from the fitness perspective, not nutritional studies.  Being out of the Neag School of Education, the program is essentially educating trainers.   His current course offerings include:  EKIN 248: Physiological Systems in Human Performance, EKIN 258: Mechanisms and Adaptations in Sport, EKIN 392: Muscle Physiology, EKIN 393: Physiology of Human Performance.    So it makes one wonder, me anyway, how it is that his summary bio states:
My primary area of research is focused on physiological adaptations to low carbohydrate diets with emphasis on outcomes related to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  I primarily use prospective diet and/or exercise interventions and use sophisticated cellular techniques to understand changes in adiposity, fatty acid and lipoprotein metabolism, inflammation, vascular function, and endocrine adaptations. Our recent studies have suggested a shift in our understanding of the role of dietary carbohydrate restriction. Long considered primarily a stratagem for weight loss, reduction in dietary carbohydrate is now understood to lead to improvements in metabolic syndrome and other cardiac risk factors, even in the absence of weight loss and frequently even in the presence of higher levels of saturated fat.
Huh?  What does any of this have to do with what an expert in kinesiology normally studies and a full time faculty member on the basis of?  Well, at least:
Another major area of research has been in the general area of sports nutrition including studies evaluating a wide range of dietary supplements on exercise performance and overall health.
Still, nutrition and supplements on performance is not really what he received his PhD in.  So, you wonder how it is you get funding to do the nutritional studies he has done, and once funded and completed, how they get published.    How does a Kinesiology PhD get published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition? Well, I don't suppose hooking up with his partner in crime, Dr. Stephen Phinney, has anything to do with that?  Might just help that he "is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."   Volek's other market for his publications is Nutrition & Metabolism, guess who's on the board there too (along with a few other interesting names and affiliations to the home base of one Dr. Richard Feinman).  

Perhaps Volek missed his calling and really wanted to be a sports nutrition guy, but it is interesting how he was able to build his career going straight to that to where he's basically more of a diet guy than having anything to do with kinesiology.  And his first mentioned focus is metabolic syndrome, diabetes and CVD???  I don't suppose being somewhat out of one's element, receiving funding from Atkins Nutritionals, and likely relying on connections with certain journals might just influence this man's objectivity?  Just wondering ...

But perhaps he's trying to return to sports roots with this performance angle.   This, too, I find interesting.   UConn ... hmmm ... UConn ... whatever does one think of when they think sports and UConn?  Basketball!!  I realize these teams have their own trainers and staff and all that, but when you think about it, if there really was anything to what this esteemed researcher was coming up with, don't you think we might hear something of how his principles are being implemented?   Imagine if all 5 starters could play the entire game if needed?  Do the trainers not know about this performance edge?   How about the cross country team?  Not quite the prestige of the National Champ basketball programs, but more up the nutty ketosis alley anyway.  I'm not seeing it.  

No ... the focus these days seems to be how to improve the performance of the 0.0001% engaging in ultra endurance competitions.  My, my we've come a long way from even The New Atkins (2010) let alone the "real" Atkins.  We're at a point to where long term VLC diets bearing no resemblance to anything humans evolved to consume are being marketed as better, healthy, and even performance enhancing.  

I say, channeling my best Rod Tidwell/Cuba Gooding Jr impression from Jerry Maguire:  Show Me the Evidence.  I think their last book, subtitled: "An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable" needs some scrutiny on that claim.   I don't suppose these "experts" have any bias that might cloud their judgment?    Nah.

And what of that study of ultramarathoners.  They drew blood from 25 recruits, perhaps a handful of whom finished in the top tier, and surveyed them on their usual diets.  OK, this should tell us all a lot!

74 comments:

Tonus said...

"He’s got very little body fat, but if let’s say he’s 7% by weight body fat that means he still has at least 30,000 calories of fat in his body when he starts the race."

How many butter-stuffed chicken wings does that amount to?

Sanjeev said...

nothing new ... there have been several incidents of vegans and low carbers incorrectly claiming an athlete as a fellow traveller

Lyle McDonald and Anthony Colpo have both take apart Phinney's older studies, showing that what the proponents' claims don't exactly comport to the actual results

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I don't have the time nor the desire to delve into their works at great length, but one of the things I always came away with was that, in the end, they were trying to show that LC was as good as carbs for performance. Basically that one just needed to be properly adapted to "enjoy" that. But with this nutty ketosis thing it's not just any low carb at all, it's kicking it up a notch to where you need to test blood ketones and restrict carbs severely and protein too in order to get back to square one. Where's the benefit of that? I don't geddit!!!

I recall reading some Colpo about one study. Didn't pay much attention at the time ... too bad.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hopefully enough for me to wallow in until I reach nutty nirvana!

Javeux said...

Why does so much of Volek's work involve hiding details and avoiding the measurement of informative biomarkers that would clear up ambiguities? It's almost as if everything he's trying to tell us about LC is a load of BS and he doesn't want us to know it.

JC Carter said...

If you want a real tkae on fat-adaption, try John Hawleys latest work presented at the Nestle symposium, amongst his other work.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301836


I cant recall his phd background, but he is married to the head of the Australian Institute of Sport nutrition program, Louise Burke.
A lot of kin phds go on to perform sports based nutrition work, but Volek went off on a whole new tangent.

George Henderson said...

"I don't have the time nor the desire to delve into their works at great length"
- Jeez Evelyn, there are details in the Voleck papers relating to physiological changes seen in ketosis that you won't find anywhere else. There is actually stuff that is pure and useful science and not "my diet is better than yours". Don't let Colpo or anyone else digest it for you - it is interesting reading.

http://www.nmsociety.org/docs/LowCarbDiet/Dietary_carb_restriction_induces_a_unique_metabolic_state.pdf

I got a lot out of this one...

Tsimblist said...

Here is another N=1:
http://bobseebohar.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-results-are-in.html

I was dismayed when I heard that he had gone the LC route. Now I don't know what to think.

Lerner said...

Evelyn, you might have missed the link I posted a few weeks ago of Volek as pitchman for a (low GI) sports drink:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNr2JwJ6ARE

Your referencing UConn today makes me realize why the drink is called UCan. Also note that (low GI) waxy maize has been a trend in the workout and low BF% world.

I suppose it's well known that Volek's on the Atkins science board:
http://meuk.atkins.com/science/science-advisory-board/
(Most there seem to not have double chins, btw.)

What I don't know is if Volek makes disclosures or not.


The one and only Volek study I'd read (the abstract only is available to me), not long ago, was this one:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23021013

"Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome." 2012

"CONCLUSIONS:

Incorporating daily whole egg intake into a moderately carbohydrate-restricted diet provides further improvements in the atherogenic lipoprotein profile and in insulin resistance in individuals with MetS"

Notice that the abstract doesn't mention that it is a calorie restricted trial - which in reality it is. To me, that'd be akin to describing the Twinkie Diet and not mentioning the critical factor of calorie restriction there.

I agree very much with Javeux. When dealing with LC advocates, it's always necessary to say, "what do you have in your other hand, the hand that's behind your back hiding something..."

Lerner said...

I had the notion to look into rhabdomyolysis a few months ago. I ran across some "caveman doctor" writing about how running a marathon elevates certain cardiac enzymes, especially the most specific one which IIRC is named cTnT (cardiac Troponin-T). Now, I've never wanted to be a marathoner, and do believe that being such is less than healthy. But still, that troponin evidence seemed particularly damning - over and above the increased prevalence of cardiac electrical irregularities found in marathoners, e.g.

So I dug deeper, read the study and a commentary, and quickly discovered that the cTnT elevation was found mainly in those who had trained the least - maybe <10 hrs per week. But the caveman's post had somehow failed to mention that.

As always, when dealing with advocates, it's always necessary to say, "what do you have in your other hand, the hand that's behind your back hiding something..."

P.S. the name "troponin" should sound familiar to anyone who is aware of the blood sample testing that is done for people suspected of having a heart attack (aka MI). Another enzyme tested for is CK, creatine kinase aka CPK creatine phosphokinase.

P.P.S. This mechanism might account for that original Greek runner dying after relaying the news of the Battle of M.

Lerner said...

Whenever I see "N=1" these days, I have to laugh because it reminds me of Kruse writing somewhere of his self-injection with MRSA and calling it his "N-1" experiment :)

michaelbell_a said...

Evelyn, thanks for writing about Tim Olson; you dug deeper than I did and I certainly learned some things from your article. There are enough differing opinions by people who seem smart and well intentioned that I don't think anyone knows what is right yet (I waded through all 150+ Robb Wolfe podcasts and you can certainly see that his view is constantly evolving as research comes in.) But, it's all so helpful anyway, and personal experimentation can be guided by these views. However poorly thought out Jimmy Moore's journey might be, it is still very interesting and enlightening.

I personally reduced my carb intake because I was tired of being hungry all of the time. It helped a lot. Then I went a bit too far and nearly passed out during a crossfit workout. So I increased a little bit and got some of the best of both worlds. I think everyone out there, including the researchers, are probing in different directions to see what is working and what isn't. ALL of it is useful, even when some of it is wrong. You have to go too far sometimes to find out that it is too far.

BigWhiskey said...

"OK, this should tell us all a lot!"
You are NOT going to leave us hanging, right?

Leo said...

The concept of "fat adapted" is a huge nonsense
It suggests that someone eating high-carb can't burn body fat
Then how people lose weight on high-diets?

it suggests that someone eating low-carb will mostly burn body fat?
Then how people on low-carb gain weight?

It's not a matter of carbs vs fat but of calories
If we don't eat enough external calories we burn our body fat whether we're on a high or low carb diet.

The body of someone eating low-carb has no reason on earth to burn its own body fat if there's dietary fat to burn first. And the body of someone eating high-carb has no reason on earth to avoid burning its own body fat if there isn't enough dietary carbohydrates to burn first.

This idea that if you eat carbs and your body takes energy from glucose then your body won't burn body fat when needed is ridicolous, people couldn't lose weight if that were true. You can eat very high carb, fuel activity with glucose and still would easily and quicky burn body fat when needed.

Also it's not very scientific to claim that he has 30.000 calorie to burn.
That would imply that the body can burn all its fat if needed. But if you reach 5% body fat the body stops burning fat at the expense of muscles and organs. The body will never use all its fat stores.

LeonRover said...

N-1 ought to imply that after each experiment there is one fewer - so how many lives does Krusey the Kat actually have?

George Henderson said...

Abstracts don't mention lots of things; they are blurbs for the paper, which you are then meant to read. If the 2 diets were isocaloric, then the abstract is representing fairer than most.
There are a heap of full-text Volek, Phinney, Feinman et al. papers on this site http://www.nmsociety.org/low-carb-research.html

Why doesn't somebody read them some time so we can have a proper discussion?

However, I don't think they shine much light on the athletics disputes. They are mostly about REAL medicine.

George Henderson said...

It's about metabolic flexibility.
http://jap.physiology.org/content/111/4/1201.full

A feature of the loss of MF seen in metabolic syndrome is "a shift towards glucose as a substrate". It doesn't seem to work the other way.


Maybe it is nonsense to talk of being fat adapted (maybe, maybe not)- but it is definitely not nonsense to talk of losing the ability to burn fat.

"And the body of someone eating high-carb has no reason on earth to avoid burning its own body fat if there isn't enough dietary carbohydrates to burn first."

Unless your blood sugar drops and you get weak, sick and hungry and eat more carbs. That's a good enough reason for lots of bodies.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

You're right Lerner, I missed it the first time. So looking closer, http://www.generationucan.com/super.html, I'm trying to figure out what the superstarch is. If it's amylopectin A, that's blamed for "fattening" http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=superstarch&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C33 But it would be interesting if it doesn't elicit much of an insulin response, and it doesn't depress fat burning, (and it doesn't spike glucose) -- is it digested and absorbed at all? Is UCAN the biggest hoax of all?! Might just be.

Lerner said...

George, it's not about a "lot of things", it's about a crucial thing. Here is a precedent paper: "Increased dietary cholesterol does not increase plasma low density lipoprotein when accompanied by an energy-restricted diet and weight loss." 2008 PMID: 18726564

See the difference? Here's one that goes farther back: "Effects of a low-energy diet associated with egg supplementation on plasma cholesterol and lipoprotein levels in normal subjects: results of a cross-over study." 1986 PMID: 3676232

If you want to be in the Taubes camp and say that calories aren't crucial, then c'est la vie.


Evelyn, I never delved much into waxy maize (but you apparently can just alternately take corn starch for a tiny fraction of the cost). It's IMO just another shiny something to come down the pike and garner dollars from the gullible for a while - another distinction without a difference. *If* it matters at all it does solely for those wishing to get from 7% BF to 6% BF.

They are now selling amino acid transdermal patches, for goodness sake - because the digestion "damages" the AAs. It's reminiscent of homeopathy.

Leo said...

according to the NWCR people on average lost weight and maintained the loss more with higher carb diets. If eating an higher carb diet would led to the inability to shift to burning body fat when needed without feeling weak and needing to eat more, there would be almost no one losing weight with high-carb diets but actually there are more people losing and maintaning weight with those diets than LC diets.

People have been eating higher carb than LC diets for centuries without never losing the ability to lose weight on demand just by eating less and allowing the body to burn its fat instead. There are high-carb eating tribal populations who still rely on fattening during food abundance and then losing the excess weight during the cold climate months, eating less, switching easily from one fuel to another.

George Henderson said...

The paper I linked to above tells us that inactivity leads to the loss of metabolic flexibility and the favouring of glucose as a substrate.
Feeding a high-carb diet in this context is tending to support that change, feeding a lower carb diet (or perhaps feeding as many carbs, but less often) ought to work against it.
More people lose weight with higher carb diets because more dieters are told that's the only way. Pretty much the same proportion of people will lose weight on any diet - not that many. But those who do lose weight on VLC will on average lose a little more than these others.
Metabolic syndrome isn't all about obesity. You can regain more metabolic flexibility without losing weight on a low-carb diet, by burning the fat you're eating. Improving the metabolic syndrome is probably a lot easier than losing lots of extra weight and maintaining the loss.
Adaptation to ketogenic dieting can be seen as the opposite extreme of metabolic inflexibility from metabolic syndrome.
This is why it's therapeutic, at least in the controlled way that Atkins used it.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I've always wondered what caused people like this to make such drastic changes in their approach. For me, 4 weeks (or did I read that wrong) is hardly enough to convince anyway. But ...

... interestingly when I checked out the UCAN energy drink touted by Volek in that video, and went to the website, lo and behold whose name is there? Why that's him to the left of Volek. http://www.generationucan.com/experts.html

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

George, I find your comment condescending and insulting. First, I never said I haven't read any of his works, just that I don't have the time nor desire to delve at great lengths. By contrast, I've spent a ton of time because I had the desire to delve at great lengths into the work of Keith Frayn. I'm just one person. I had read the study you linked to a while back. I've read quite a few Volek papers, more recently when Jonathan Bailor misrepresented studies in his Smarter Science of Slim book. At some point, even someone who reads as much as I do needs to rely on others to sum things up from time to time. I'll leave it to the athletes who've shown an ability to do that in the past, and yes, AC is one who fits that bill.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Interesting you should say that, because one thing I noticed recently is that Volek provides individual results in many studies, not just means. I generally like this (at least it should be supplemental data made available IMO) ... except that what I was finding was that if you looked at the means, there's often no difference (statistical or clinical) but you get "10 of 13 had decrease in this group while 12 of 15 had increase in that group" and come to find out this was meaningless. In this regard I find there's often lots of info -- baffling with bullshit?! -- that obscures the fact that little of consequence was observed.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Yeah, I can see the sports nutrition expecially the overlap with supplements and performance. But as you said, he went on a whole new tangent.

I'm not really into this particular area at the moment, but that's not why I wrote this. I know many are, but many of the folks jumping on this bandwagon seem to have even less of an interest in sports/performance and all of that than I do -- it is for weight loss.

Somehow avoiding puking after running 20 miles is not on the top of my list of reasons to eat a certain -- very unnatural to me -- way. :D

kb said...

Evelyn, I commented on another post of yours about my increasing and wacky BS readings, reaching a fasting level of 160, but after eating (only if low carb), bringing them down to a typical 118. I was resigned to having a very damaged metabolism and being a full blown diabetic. I have been a LCer for around 6 years, following all the LC online gurus out there, struggling with hair loss and insomnia watching while the weight creep on. Also seeing cholesterol, hormone and inflammatory blood test readings getting worse and worse, while telling myself these doctors don't know what my LC gurus know - that I am in fact healthier and they just don't know it yet. lol

I then started more of a PH diet when Jaminet came on the scene, fasting to 1pm, adding safe starches, but continuing the butter, cheese, cream etc. I was never one of those people who needed to eat anyway, so fasting was fairly easy for me. I kept thinking of the guy on the PHD blog who lost a lot of weight eating just dinner with steak, potato loaded with butter and salad with blue cheese dressing. This is the way I love to eat, I thought. Well, the BS readings were getting higher and higher. Its because I don't exercise, I thought, but just couldn't bring myself to do it for lack of motivation. I also attributed the BS readings to an occasional treat such as ice cream (the recommended treat if you were going to have one).

Then, a strange thing happened... I stopped putting cream in my coffee, and I felt I no longer was craving fatty food and protein. I was craving oatmeal, fruit, and much lighter foods. So I ate oatmeal for breakfast one day with a tiny bit of brown sugar. I felt woozy and thought... now you've done it... the BS probably soared over 300. An hour later I got a BS reading of 95. For lunch I had a breaded chicken breast over a light salad with lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. Two hours later, a BS reading of 85! Shocking!!!

I started to research how fat affected BS and found that when we eat fat, it causes triglycerides to rise in the blood. This causes the liver to become resistant to insulin and in turn churns out more and more glucose. The more fat you consume, the more insulin resistant the liver becomes, and the more glucose it produces. And guess what... saturated fat causes the most insulin resistance. And this scenario impairs energy expenditure, which of course would have some impact on the performance of a LC athlete.

Many of these LC gurus are young men or men without weight issues. I chuckle to think of those like Taubes who refer to overweight menopausal women as just being doomed and destined to be fat because the damage was already done. It is now hardwired in our being.

Forgive me if my post triggers a 'duh' response from many of you. I don't understand much of the very sophisticated science talked about here. I can only speak of my experience and struggle which seems similar to yours Evelyn. I think we are the same age as well.

I have decided to eat as I have in my past when I was at my healthiest. Its what I crave now anyway... lower fat and lighter foods. PS, after about a week of cutting out most saturated fat, eating carbs and sticking to much lighter fare, I have no cravings, have normal BS and lost 6 lbs already.

Thanks Evelyn for the incredible time you donate to cut through the BS and find the truth. I think you are amazing. I wish I found you years ago.

Tsimblist said...

Ahh...

... and now I see on Seebohar's blog under "Stuff I Like":

"Generation UCAN
The future of sport nutrition that provides optimal blood sugar control."

an3drew said...

How awesome would it be to be both fat-adapted and cold-adapted?

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Here's his blurb from the website:

"It doesn't matter the age, athlete, or sport. Using SuperStarch to stabilize blood sugar and teach your body to burn more fat is the real deal for any athletic and health-conscious individual."
~Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, 2008 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team Dietitian

Paul N said...

Well, to get the answer to that, you ask someone who *is* both fat and cold adapted - the World Record holder Apa Sherpa

Their main on-mountain food - "tsampa" - basically a mix of wheat or barley flour and yak butter. They eat just twice a day.

Their main drink - yak butter tea, (Nepal's national drink) and lots of it.

Think he is taking in more fat calories than carbs?

He looks pretty good for 21 summits and 51 years - maybe the fat, cold and exercise have something to do with it?

Jane said...

George, metabolic flexibility seems to boil down to how healthy your mitochondria are. If they aren't, you have to use glucose because you can get ATP from it without mitochondria. Have you seen the recent work on exercise-induced autophagy? If you're munching up damaged mitochondria all the time and making shiny new ones you will have all the metabolic flexibility you want. That's how it seems to me anyway.

'Exercise induces autophagy in peripheral tissues and in the brain'
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22892563

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Thank you kb! And thanks for sharing your story. More and more I think LC is a trap for too many people.

Hmmm ... I've not been keen on cutting cream in my coffee, but perhaps it's time to reconsider that.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Uh oh ... acellular carbs and refined fats! :D

Hiit Mama said...

I wanted to pass this guy's stuff on to you. He has one of the podcasts I listen to and recently he has been selling all sorts of low carb regimens for endurance athletes. http://www.lowcarbtriathlete.com/ & http://www.everymantri.com/everyman_triathlon/2012/11/what-to-say-when-your-friends-tell-you-that-you-need-to-eat-carbohydrates-for-proper-endurance-fueli.html I think Tim Noakes is all over this now too. I don't know if it's all about finding a new niche to sell more stuff or what. But since I am far far far from an endurance athlete I will avoid commenting on the validity of his claims.

Unknown said...

For the vast majority of people fat adaption is a solution in search of a problem, humans tend to do pretty well using carbs as a fuel search.

Maybe there is a Bad Ass factor that I'm failing to consider, normal people want to be fat adapted because it makes them more of a Bad Ass, like with bicep tattoos and Harley Davidsons.

Or maybe they are just trying to figure out a way to avoid MM.

Sanjeev said...

wow ... Noakes? Really?
click
or to ensure work safety copy and paste
http://www.mh.co.za/nutrition/healthy-eating-tips/the-tim-noakes-dietor

from the descriptions (so it all depends on the reporter's spin) it's another "this worked for me so everybody should do it"

click another
work safe:
http://www.health24.com/fitness/Diet_Supplements/16-481-512,73175.asp

and for Noakes it's all about teh 3vIl INSULINz:
from that last page: "But instead, in my case, under the action of insulin most of the carbohydrate that I ingest is directed into my fat cells where it contributes to progressive weight gain, continual hunger, lethargy and, in time, pancreatic"

Over a year ago, Noakes was in bad shape ... After a month, his sleep apnoea disappeared. The other afflictions followed. His headaches vanished ... meat and fish. “I think fish should be the primary drive. I’ll eat pilchards and tinned fish for lunch.” He eats eggs, nuts.

C'mon Tim, get with the program ... you'll overdose on Zn soon, and be Mg & Mn deficient

more hits:

https://www.google.ca/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=noakes+%22low+carbohydrate+diet%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&redir_esc=&ei=8cqnUKbvNMWqywHfgIHICg or click

Reads like Noakes is simply recommending what worked for him, not spinning any sciencey scientificating guess-ticulations about it.

hooray for breaking a lifetime of dietary habits
boo for falling for the simplistic non-explanation

Sanjeev said...

> Reads like Noakes is simply recommending what worked for him, not spinning any sciencey scientificating guess-ticulations about it.

wrong ... I typed that up before I read that insulin blurb above then forgot to delete it.

Sanjeev said...

off topic question for everyone who ha come off Atkins/Taubes/Moore/Phinney/Volek/Noakes

How did introducing skim milk go for you?

I was NOT lactose intolerant at age 30.

I have had next to no milk except the occasional ice cream for a long long time.

I recently tried some skim milk ... the experience was quite explosive.

is that the right age frame to develop lactose intolerance ... OK at 30, intolerant @ 45?

any of you find a trick to re-introducing milk (preferably skim) ... maybe going very slowly?

If I am now intolerant I don't want to fiddle with lactase pills the rest of my life, not having skim milk ever again is fine

Sanjeev said...

I'm not adamantly low fat these days, just doing the occasional couple of days of very very low fat eating.

Diana said...

How is everyone going to adapt to the death of the Twinkie? I for one died a little bit inside when I heard about Hostess going out of business.

Lesley Scott said...

@Sanjeev "How did introducing skim milk go for you?" honestly, I hate the taste of it. I've never been a big milk drinker but reading more on Kresser's site made me seek out raw cow-dairy milk. that was like a different food altogether than the ultrapasturized stuff in the grocery store. but I was listening to an interview with Art Ayers & he said that you can overcome lactose intolerance by drinking milk everyday for like 2 weeks. Kresser said the reason the pasturized stuff causes intolerance is that the pasturizing process wipes out whatever enzyme it is that's normally in milk that makes us able to digest it. When I tried the raw milk (I don't really like raw goat milk; too "earthy") I didn't have any issues at all. plus, Danny Roddy & Chris Masterjohn indicated it really helps with glutathione. Its of course illegal to sell where I live now, so I may have to do some online sleuthing to see if I can order some.

And I'm with you on never having skim milk again. blech.

kb said...

I never thought eliminating the cream would be possible for me either, (I sometimes made whipped cream just for my coffee). Besides, I always assumed it was such a small indulgence anyway, and so low carb! I think it was only because my coffee maker was on the fritz, that I started making cappuccinos and lattes instead, because I have a Nespresso. I discovered I enjoyed these so much more! And the milk frother works best with 1% organic milk for some reason. This is the only reason I became a convert. Now I can enjoy a decaf cappuccino late afternoon when I get a little hungry and would ordinarily reach for a hunk of cheese and rice crackers, some nuts or a full fat yogurt.

kb said...

BTW didn't mean to imply that cutting cream out caused me to not crave fats anymore. I think it was a coincidence that i had been craving lighter foods recently. The weight loss may be from normalized blood sugars or most likely because I was cutting out many calories by eating lighter. Interestingly though, I was not eating very much as a LCer. When I ate cheese it was an oz or a stick. Nuts were a small portion also. And I often fasted much of the day.

Remember when Kruse talked about eating very low carb and cold exposure, because animals are supposed to hybernate all winter? And I thought... right... and they get very fat so they don't have to eat for 6 months. And the other gurus talked about cavemen preferring the fat of an animal... probably because it metabolized differently and allowed them to go much longer without food. Maybe insulin resistance is by design to help humans hang on to their fat to survive famine. My body finally realizes there is no famine in my future and hopefully no hibernation either.

Sanjeev said...

Haven't had them for many many years. Maybe my donut aversion therapy carried over ....

The amount of work that's gone into name recognition won't be allowed to go down the drain

Somebody will buy the trademark and the recipe.

Sounded more to me about private equity (Attia's buddies) trying to get rid of the unions than anything else. Just be sure the ones you buy next year don't contain any Chinese baby food.

Sanjeev said...

I actually like the taste quite a bit. And for some reason I love chewing the stuff. The kind-of-sort-of- like a toffee thing can be pretty fun.

My distaste for taking pills over-rides the taste and chewiness though ...

blogblog said...

"He looks pretty good for 21 summits and 51 years - maybe the fat, cold and exercise have something to do with it?"

More like a lot. We convert 80% of our energy intake into heat. If you live in a very cold climate (without central heating) you use far more energy and have pretty much zero chance of obesity.

blogblog said...

"Remember when Kruse talked about eating very low carb and cold exposure, because animals are supposed to hybernate all winter?"

Very, very few mammals hibernate. The vast majority of mammals (including humans) live in tropical or subtropical climates.

Humans evolved in the tropics and have not evolved to hibernate.

screennamerequired said...

Being fat-adapted is like the ultimate middle finger to the mainstream dietary authorities. The best part about being a fat adapted beast is freaking out all my gullible conventional wisdom believing friends by pouring butter in my coffee, snacking on pork rinds and drenching my meals in lard while they gasp in horror. If only they and all the ignorant scientists and authorities knew what I now know about nutritional science from reading Marksdailyapple.

kb said...

That depends what your definition of hibernation is. Mine is the state of metabolic depression. My point being that eating a certain way may trigger a hibernation type state. Perhaps it is hardwired as a safeguard against famine.

Lerner said...

I once tried to join up with a rebel-against-authority group, but they wouldn't let me in because I told them I wouldn't follow their many rules. Go figure.

Jane said...

Sanjeev
That link you gave says this

'Specifically, natural saturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and medium chain triglycerides are extremely dense energy sources that produce very little damaging byproducts from their metabolic use for energy – compared to burning blood glucose for fuel, which can cause a significant amount of free radical damage...'

Is this crap or what? Please feel free to scientificate about it.

Diana said...

Sanjeev, I'm serious about this - I LOVED Twinkies as a kid (Evie, put this in your database of how Americans eat/used to eat.). I hated the cupcakes, Devil Dogs were OK, but I loved Twinkies. As an adult I avoided them out of snobbism. Weight concerns? Please, I ate plenty of things that were just as devoid of nutritional content and were just as intrinsically fattening. (Yes, I know, nothing is intrinsically fattening but you get my drift.) Occasionally I'd weaken and have a pack, and it was love all over again. Yum!!

Not sure what you mean about Attia - you are not saying he was personally involved in this, or were you making a general comment about private equity and unions? I think both sides were at fault here. The issues are quite serious - 18 thou out of work. Not good. Their job prospects are bleak in "the new normal" economy.

Unknown said...

I was already lactose intolerant so it wasn't a factor. I became intolerant around age 42-44 can't remember exactly.

As you say the results of drinking milk or eating ice cream are quite impressive.

Sanjeev said...

My Attia comment was just reference to the whole arbitrage/PE community, nothing specifically about PA.

I think I did get your point, If someone tried to take away the Indian sweets I grew up with, or baklava I would be pretty sad too.

>As an adult I avoided them out of snobbism.

wow ... we're total opposites. I often do stuff my social circle frowns upon to shock them and to prove I'm not a snob. Stupid reason to do stuff (especially stupid if it's risky), but there it is.

George Henderson said...

Sanjeev, exposure to lactose keeps lactase in production after childhood. It can drop off if it's not needed. Introducing milk slowly should see it restored, lactobacillus might help too as this produces some lactase.

George Henderson said...

Question; if glucose is the preferred fuel for athletics, why does inactivity increase the use of glucose as a substrate?

George Henderson said...

My first guess would be that all athletes do in fact burn a lot of fat, and glucose just fuels their "overdrive" gear. The more cells that burn fat, the more glucose is available to fuel cells that really do prefer it.
So that exercise is already a fat-burning process; and in its absence the body prefers glucose for more functions.
But why?

Paul N said...

Diana,

You will just have to come to canada for your Twinkie fix. The Canadian dairy company Saputo has the rights to Twinkies in Canada, and has no plans to stop making them!


Paul N said...

Not so sure about "zero" chance - sugar, wheat and n-6 fats will probably still do it, especially if displacing n-3 and sat fat rich foods.

Inuit who return to traditional fare (with central heating) lose weight and improve health.
As for those who don't live with central heat, well, that's a good question - but one I don't personally want to experience!

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

My thing about cream is an aversion to black coffee. Reminds me too much of crash diets ;) I just need to be the one to make my coffee. Bless my husband's heart for bringing me my first cup most mornings, but he tends to have a heavy hand with the cream.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Interesting links both. Thanks!

Here's the way I see this going down. Chronic energy surplus, cells and mitochondria eventually fill up with too many lipids so the cells refuse glucose delivery (because they can), but glucose is always high so oxidation of the fats is always depressed. Reverse the energy surplus and you're back in business.

I think the reason exercise is effective is that we likely burn local stores of fatty acids that are then replenished by adipose/dietary NEFA.

I think VLC diets are effective for the very overweight and/or sedentary because they mimic a healthy metabolism and spontaneously reverse the chronic surplus. Until they stop working ...

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I won't really miss the Twinkies as they are not a favorite indulgence. Little Debbie still makes swiss cake rolls ;-)

Jane said...

George, have you heard of exercise-induced autophagy? Explains why inactivity increases glucose use.

Craig in CT said...

@ kb:
"BTW didn't mean to imply that cutting cream out caused me to not crave fats anymore. I think it was a coincidence that i had been craving lighter foods recently."

Thanks for the clarification. Hard to believe that there was enough fat in a few cups of coffee with cream to substantially alter your hunger (and blood sugar?) in the way you described.

P2ZR said...

I hope you people haven't missed the memo that Twinkies are bad solely on account of their being made of wheat flour, HFCS, and industrial seed oils.

That's to say, if they were made of almond flour, pastured eggs, and the lipid-replete mammary secretions of grazing coconuts, they would be not only benign--but positively fat-burning and life-giving beyond all description.

P2ZR said...

I don't know if there are paleo 'twinkie' recipes that are thus named per se, but I'm pretty sure there are recipes for stuff like cream-filled cupcakes with the above paleo ingredients--in other words, essentially twinkie fare....

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Check out my latest. Perhaps UCAN eat twinkies made from SuperStarch and coconut cream! (grass fed of course!)

Lerner said...

What stuck out for me was that Phinney was explicitly asked if the runner was using gels, but Phinney did not acknowledge that. You had to read the comments to find out what was *not* being revealed in the interview.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I think that's called dishonesty in the rest of the world. In low carb circles it's justifiable obfuscation I suppose.

Diana said...

@Evelyn, I realize this is months after this was posted but I have a question. The sentence: "OK, so Olson is "fat adapted" and burning fat for fuel during the race while the poor low carbers must eat more frequently or they will "bonk" from running out of carbohydrate fuel."

Did you mean "poor carb-loaders"? I am confused.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Yes ... actually probably meant high carbers. I'll go fix that now.

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