Is SuperStarch a Safe Starch?
Remember "safe starches"? This whole SuperStarch thing reminded me of that for some reason. It was just a little over a year ago that Jimmy Moore sent out the email to all of the experts he considers experts to inquire over the safety of consuming starches. It mattered not the quality of the response, he published them all up. This post put the pry bar in whatever cracks there were in the community along carbohydrate lines and was the source of much of the antagonism Jimmy decries. Some responses of interest:
Jeff Volek: Claiming you need carbs to prevent scurvy is a red flag this guy is a nut job. Tell him to eat a red pepper. There is no evidence what so ever the human body has any dietary requirement for the nutrient class of carbohydrate (i.e., there is no defined condition associated with not consuming carbs).
This comment just demonstrated that UCAN be an asshat in LLVLC-land so long as it's not against a low carber. Next up, the other Bobsie Twin of the pair. He's not on the UCAN board, but it's kind of hard to separate yourself from the energy drink biz of someone you are so tightly associated with in the LC community.
Dr. Stephen Phinney (On the topic of dietary carbohydrates of any kind and blood glucose regulation): Clearly some carbohydrate foods raise blood glucose more than others, which is the basis for both the ‘glycemic index’ and presumably the ‘safe starches’ concepts. In part, how fast your body absorbs the carbohydrates you eat influences how these energy sources are processed.
The other half of this picture is how promptly your body can ‘tuck away’ the absorbed carbohydrate, which passes through the blood stream mostly as glucose (which means you need both adequate insulin in the blood and insulin sensitive cells to clear it).
Insulin resistance (the hallmark of both metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes) occurs to a varying degree in many of us. Thus the more insulin resistant we are, the less tolerant we are of dietary carbohydrate from the different dietary sources (i.e., one persons ‘safe starch’ may far exceed the carbohydrate tolerance of someone else who is more insulin resistant). Many people with type-2 diabetes go into complete remission when they eat less than 50 grams per day of total carbohydrate, but remain diabetic if they eat 100-150 grams (400-600 Calories) of carbohydrate (independent of what grain or tuber it comes from).
There is no absolute human requirement for dietary carbohydrate. In our many published studies of human research subjects given well-formulated very low carbohydrate diets (e.g., 5-50 grams of total carbohydrate per day), we never observed low blood sugar levels. In fact, in my 1983 study of bicycle racers eating an Inuit diet [anyone have a link or info on this study??] , even when we exercised them to exhaustion, their blood glucose values remained normal. Simply put, if the body maintains a normal blood glucose level with little or no carbohydrate sources in the diet, how can one argue that they are required?
If the level of glucose during a well-formulated very low carbohydrate diet is maintained in the normal range, how can one credibly postulate inadequate glucose availability for glycosylation? (There was more on other topics)
In the tangled web that is the Nutrition Misinformation Society, Volek also leads us to Richard Feinman, President. Volek is on the scientific board of this society disingenuously claims they are "not advocating any specific dietary strategy".
Richard Feinman: Yes. Great dangers here. I remember at the Ancestral Health Symposium where people were dropping like flies. The only part worth considering is the remark about glycosylated proteins. The normal processing of many types of proteins involves the enzymatic addition of molecules of carbohydrate, sugars or what are called glycosaminoglycans (sugar amines). This is an important part of biochemistry but completely different from the non-enzymatic non-specific glycosylation of proteins which occurs due to excess of blood glucose and which is measure, for example, as hemoglobin A1c. The former is part of normal metabolism and is necessary for the normal function of those proteins. The non-specific glycosylation is not normal and impairs the function of the glycosylated protein.
Well, at least he addressed part of Paul's premise, albeit misrepresenting it as I'm quite sure Paul knows the difference between enzymatic and non-enzymatic glycosylation. Still, I include it here for the opening snark, I guess somehow implying that the attendees of AHS11 were predominantly low carbers. But CANU be president of a 501(c)3 with Jeff Volek sitting on your science board and be totally ignorant of his work on a starch containing energy drink? In any case, when one thinks of the meme "there's no dietary need for carbohydrate", it is Feinman who immediately comes to mind.
This is really the basis for the Jaminets' recommendation for what is really a bare minimum of carbohydrate consumption. Their preference is starches over sugars for this carbohydrate -- which can be debated -- but I think the main "bugaboo" over this is that it is too "conventional wisdomey" for the renegade "scientists". And yes, despite Volek, Phinney and Feinman being scientists all, I believe the tipping point has been reached for these three where affiliations and advocacy overshadow their science such as it is/was.
Clearly, CLEARLY, there is no such thing as a fat adapted athlete with no dietary need for carbohydrate. Yet the deception of folks like Volek and Phinney that one can adopt an extreme diet and essentially become superman persists. It makes me pretty sick to think that they could even write a book like "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance: A Revolutionary Program to Extend Your Physical and Mental Performance Envelope". ** A special thanks to the anonymous donor who provided me with a copy** My, my, the tangled web ...
Seriously? SuperStarch? You can't make this kind of stuff up!
So ... I guess starches are safe after all. Paul is just a nutjob because he isn't hawking proprietary SuperRice to go along with Perfect Health Diet. Is it just me, or is there a special irony in a chapter entitled why you don't need carbs, in a book about ketotic superiority, there is STILL the need to include the "parting shot" of how you may be able to incorporate carbs in your diet?? And come on folks, root veggies -- recommended by Paul as a safe starch, his definition being independent of glycemic behaviors -- are not known for slow release behavior. Potatoes have a high GI. How does this "factoid" compute?
From the Volek authored "white paper" on SuperStarch,
The importance of carbohydrate for athletes was recognized as far back as the 1924 Boston marathon where it was discovered that blood glucose levels decreased in the top runners during the 1924 Boston marathon. The following year carbohydrate feeding was shown to prevent the decline in blood glucose and improve performance. However the notion that carbohydrate feeding was important for athletes was not fully appreciated until the late 1960s hortly after the advent of the biopsy needle which allowed histological and biochemical studies of human muscle before, during and after exercise. This early research led to the understanding of the importance of muscle glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate in muscles, as a fuel for active muscle during prolonged exercise and made the connection between glycogen depletion and fatigue(1, 2). Researchers discovered that manipulating an athlete’s training combined with a high carbohydrate diet several days prior to exercise (carbohydrate loading) significantly increased muscle glycogen levels and delayed fatigue(3). Subsequent work throughout the 1970s and 80s continued to investigate the impact of carbohydrate feeding and fluid intake on exercise performance.
It goes on to discuss osmolality and fat burning. Blah blah blah at this point. This is truly sickening folks. Bottom line, this SuperStarch is being marketed as a better way to supply glucose where gluconeogenesis is insufficient to keep up for maximum performance. This is why Tim Olson and every one of these endurance athletes use carbs to fuel their races and if there were any credibility left with these scientists, they would acknowledge that front and center.
But noooooo. In the LC community, this won't fly and still sell books. You just encourage untold numbers of people who should never adopt an extreme diet of any sort -- because with almost 100% certitude they will "fall off the wagon" -- to adopt a diet of truly unknown long term safety.
This goes well beyond the intellectual dishonesty we've seen from one Gary Taubes. It even goes beyond the general dishonesty we've seen from Jimmy Moore. Volek and Phinney (and Feinman) are PhD's either actively or in otherwise on the faculty of institutions of higher learning. Phinney is additionally an MD. As someone said in comments recently, we expect this sort of thing from manufacturers of things like UCAN, but we don't expect this behavior from scientists. Sadly, this is just the sort of behavior we can expect from low carb "scientists". Which makes the comments from Anonymous on that safe starches post such a fitting close here.
Anonymous Prominent Member of the Low-Carb Community: Jaminet is not a clinician seeing patients and he’s never been obese. In that sense, he’s a theorist. His background isn’t in medicine, and it’s his Harvard affiliation that gives him cache. Like many bloggers in the field, he knows what worked for him and that his informed his opinions.
Now here’s the issue: if he was treating obese individuals or type 2 diabetics, he might find out that 600 calories of glucose a day is too much for weight loss. He might also find out that some people have to go far below 300 to 400 calories a day to lose weight. He might find that safe starches and berries aren’t “safe” for some, even if they are “safe” for others. Or maybe not. But the key is to make a prescription based on what works for you is always a bad idea. What he did, though, is cut carbs considerably and then, in effect, add them back to deal with problems from eating so few.
Compare Jaminet, say, to people like Dr. Steve Phinney, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Eric Westman who have spent their lives working on this in the clinic and the laboratory would give different explanations for all that Jaminet is describing.
So my main point is this: telling people they have to eat or should eat 600 calories of carbohydrate a day based on “book learn’n” is maybe not the best idea.
Ahhh, gotta love the anonymity there! Surely the LLVLC gang would have provided cover for any and all criticism this "prominent member" might have garnered. It is a valid point about Paul Jaminet -- his is a theoretical prospective and his opinions/interpretations of data/studies are fair game for disagreement, scrutiny and legitimate criticism. But yeah, unlike Phinney and Westman, he's not a clinician -- with all the experience that brings, but in my opinion, a greater responsibility to operate as if one is acting in that role. Phinney's work as a clinician was to supervise multidisciplinary (aka all manner of approaches) weight loss programs. He uses that cache to profit off of promoting extreme low carbohydrate restriction. Where's that long term study bearing his name? As to never being obese, the same could be said for the trio of Atkins authors listed (though Westman appears to have struggled with some weight issues) ... but these guys have no first-hand knowledge. Not that this is important in addressing the science, but since these guys take great liberties with the science of how human metabolism actually works, it is all the more pertinent to them rather than to Paul.
Oh how I'm bothered by the fact that the SuperStarch Nutty Ketosis Twins don't have names ending in "s". The $ would be so apropos. Bottom line, according to these $hills, starches aren't safe in levels that merely allow one to function normally for most everyday activities -- e.g. having sufficient glycogen stores to provide for steady blood glucose control w/o stressing the liver to provide for all glucose needs via gluconeogenesis. But they sound safe if you're keto-adapted, and you stand to profit from them. 'Kay. Of course I'm sure some detractor will trounce me for pointing this out. C'est la vie.