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Fat And Glycemic Index: The Myth Of "Complex Carbohydrates"
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April 3, 2012
11:37 am
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Candy:

I'm glad it's working for you!  If you find your progress stalling, there are many more steps you can take: see my classic article "Eat Like A Predator."  Keep us posted, and stop by anytime.

JS

April 23, 2012
3:27 am
Snapper
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Thanks so much for the article, it is very illuminating. Thanks also for the rebuttal of David Freedman's counterpoints. As an academic and researcher, I know how much dedication it takes to develop clear and cogent rebuttals. It is so terribly important that these debates occur.

I would add something that I don't believe you said above, in response to David. Even he concedes that people lose weight on low-carb diets and it is falling off the diets that is the major problem. This is scarcely any way to argue that low-carb isn't desirable!

Yes, in the 'real world' it is important that people continue with the dietary plan. The trouble is that in the real world, people are bombarded with low-fat messages and for that reason alone they will start to doubt. I'd like to see proper studies of the *reasons* that people 'fall off the diet. Is it because they craved carbs after a long period, or due to other forces? There are literally carbs everwhere: I struggle to find good sources of fat.

Again, thanks so much for the article. I have long known of the evidence that fat retards the digestion of carbs, but it tends to get lost.

April 23, 2012
4:36 pm
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Snapper:

All diets work if you can stick to them: compliance is the problem.  And AFAIK, contrary to the implications you mentioned, compliance is better with low-carb diets than with low-fat diets!  In the long run, it's easier to give up donuts than steak.

That being said, yes, grain-based carbs are pushed on us continually…because they're cheap due to being heavily subsidized.  See this article for some facts and figures.

I'm glad you find my articles useful!  Do stick around.

JS

July 21, 2012
5:15 pm
Raven K.
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I have been reading a few comments here and decided to go ahead and post. I was brought up in a home, where my parents tried their hand at getting me to eat veggies. Well, they of course are not the best tasting when you are a kid. I rebelled with their effort. As a kid though, I was not overweight at all. And then I hit puberty. I started putting on weight left and right. I had tried diets later in my early twenties and I tried a lot of them. I had finally become insulin resistant which is a growing epidemic. It almost seems as though, this is the way they are trying to depopulate the world in a slow and painful death. Because of the high sugar I had also developed PCOS. Which has a whole host of it's own issues. I have dieted and exercised in the past where I was mowing lawns about 40-50 hours a week and then working out in a gym, three times a week. So in one year, you would think I would be picture perfect. But, that was not the case. By the end of one year eating to what I thought was perfectly healthy, primarily vegetarian, doing all of that exercise and I lost a total of 50 lbs!!! I was also miserable. Well, imagine my surprise that I could not keep that up any longer. So until recently when someone shared with me a book written by a dietician that had undergone some of the same issues even though she ate perfectly healthy and maintained a perfect weight for most of her life, she all of a sudden started to develop something they have now called Metabolism B. Which all makes sense. I have been on the diet now for a month and a half and have lost 18 pounds of pure fat. It has changed my life and my vitals. My pule has dropped from the 90+ range to sometimes in the 60's. The sugar has dropped also. It is amazing, what it has done for me. And it seems the more nuts and food allowed on the diet I eat the more I lose. So it actually encourages you to eat more. I have not been doing much in the way of exercise here lately as I injured my foot. But, even still?? For me in the past when i set out to lose a pound I would gain three. I have a ton of lean muscle tissue (thank goodness. I do not look as heavy as I actually am.) But, I look at people now in a whole new way. I so badly want to tell them about what I have been doing. It would change their lives! But, I am not mean. I am not judging them I just want to help them. I realize they have to want to help themselves, but, all of the industry is not helping those people that do have what I have and it is only getting worse. the population is much higher than previously thought. I will continue to work on my diet. It looks like I have lost 30 + pounds because it is all fat tissue. I am getting a flat stomach. Like holy crap!! I feel great and love to share it with the world. Changed my life!!

July 25, 2012
10:15 pm
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Raven:

It's discouraging to do everything we're supposed to -- do cardio, eat more whole grains, eat less meat -- and still be fat, miserable, or both.  I'm glad you've finally found success!

The problem with preaching is that you can't force others to change.  They have to want to change themselves.  I think you'll find that as your health and appearance continue to improve, people will naturally become curious.  Don't shove it in their face, like so many vegans do -- but don't be shy, either.

JS

August 4, 2012
6:36 am
Jeff
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David H. Freedman : Your argument is instantly invalid when you're comparing people eating veggie pizzas vs "supreme" pizzas. At no point in this article does the author say "calories are irrelevant". Of course if you eat 4000 calories a day and you're sitting around on your computer you're going to get fat.

ANYONE eating any sort of take-away pizza is going to get fat unless they're very very active. A large pizza has about 2000 calories then with your coke on top you're nearing 2300-2500. Have another nice fatty desert and you're up to 3000. You can't do that then say "Oh, this proves that fat makes you fat".

I eat lots of fat and I'm 8% body fat. A typical meal for me would be 2-3 scrambled eggs with some goat's cheese and a cup of goat's milk, some chicken+rice+cheese sauce+some cream cheese on the side, peanut butter on bread etc. If I sat eating huge pizzas covered in enough cheese to feed an army of mice while telling myself it's ok because it's fat then I'd be obese.

This is one of the primary problems with people, they eat FAR TOO MUCH FOOD. People are eating as much food as full time athletes and they try all sorts, low carb, low fat and find nothing works because they're stuffing their faces full of stuff all day.

The issue here is that it's easier to stay lean, happy, satiated and full of energy with more fat in your diet, but you still have to eat small portions in accordance with your physical activity. I personally only eat about 2000 calories a day if I'm not training. For most men 2500 calories is too much if they're siting at their computer all day yet most eat 3000+.

People just eat food as a comfort and out of boredom. That's the primary issue. The low fat thing just makes that existing problem that much worse, but this is the reason why simply adjusting the composition of your diet isn't that useful unless you stop eating like a horse.

August 4, 2012
9:03 am
Jeff
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@Matt Evans: This has to be one of the most hilarious statements I've read in a while:-

"I propose calling this the Baguette Paradox: the French eat lots of white bread baguettes but don’t experience the vicious cycle of carb addiction"

Can you not see the error in your statement? Try this:

"Joe smokes loads of cigarettes, but he isn't addicted to cigarettes. I call this the Joe-Paradox.".

Still not getting it? Oh well. 🙂

September 9, 2012
12:44 pm
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Jeff:

I agree that comparing one form of pizza-scarfing to another doesn't mean anything.  Besides, the fat on the toppings is rounding error to the fat in the cheese.

I disagree, however, that "people just eat food as a comfort and out of boredom".  Obesity skyrocketed beginning around 1980...did people suddenly become bored and in need of comforting in 1980?  (See the graph here.)  It's a complex problem: if it were simple, we'd have already solved it by now!

I like the Joe Paradox, though.

JS

January 19, 2013
7:52 pm
Adam
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This short and sweet YouTube video shows numerous authors that support a low caraway of life and those that promote a vegan, starch based diet. Watch and learn:

Link to YouTube video

January 19, 2013
11:03 pm
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Adam:

The scary thing about television, and any form of video, is that you can completely misrepresent reality via selective reporting and outright fraud -- and since the video keeps moving at its own pace, it doesn't give you, the watcher, any time to rationally evaluate its claims.

Technique: Show a few low-carbers who are clearly carrying some excess pounds

False implications: All low-carbers are fat; paleo is the same thing as low-carb

Omitted by the video: All the skinny ones (not pictured); Gary Taubes very explicitly distances himself from paleo dietary precepts, in Why We Get Fat; many of the pictured people were morbidly obese beforehand, and have lost 50, 100, or more pounds just to make it to "overweight"

I've noticed over time that the more malnourishing the diet, the more its proponents must resort to making videos instead of writing articles.  Even The China Study, the "scientific" bible of veganism, has been conclusively refuted in all aspects by everyone from Chris Masterjohn to Ned Kock to Anthony Colpo to Denise Minger.  

JS

February 8, 2013
1:44 pm
Adam
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I guess I'm some sort of phenomenon then. JS, your points have holes in them. Sure, you don't have to eat a low-fat diet to get skinny. And low fat diets dont cause people to get fat, either. When people lower the fat in their food or diets, they also alter the flavor. Thus, many low fat options are loaded with simple carbohydrates, such as sugar. There are 3 key points that you have totally ignored or missed, and after taking them into consideration COMPLETELY changes the playing field:

1) Fat, while good at slowing digestion, also ensures that more fat will be stored up. There are 3 possible outcomes for carbs -one is liver glycogen storage, another is muscle glycogen storage, and lastly, if too much is consumed and without a blend of other macronutrients - fat storage can happen. WITH FAT however, only ONE outcome is possible - fat storage. Lets not forget the metabolic pathway of fat. With the exception of MCT's, all dietary fats are stored in the fat cells. I'd love to talk about the shortcomings and consequences of this fact when it comes to training but I'll just let you research what happens to the body when you starve it of its most preferential fuel source (carbs) and replace it with fat. The key is controlling nutrient partitioning.

2) You neglect the need to eat complex carbs like sweet potatoes and oatmeal with a protein source and fiber as well. This is common knowledge in the bodybuilding community. Obviously that isn't where you came from. A BALANCED MEAL LOWERS THE GI, all while giving your body FAR MORE MICRONUTRIENTS than "table sugar". Geeze, there is so much more benefit in starches than straight sugars.

3) Low-fat, high carb and high protein diets were not meant for the general public but rather for professional bodybuilders who still live by those guidelines today. If you aren't training like a beast on a regular basis and performing cardio, then you ought not consider this diet. It is likely that you arent disciplined enough to eat a 10% daily valule in fats while keeping your carb choices limited to healthy, slow releasing options - not to mention being able to have a good portion of protein and fiber at every meal. This just isn't practical for 95% of the population, I know this for certain. I'm a dedicated bodybuilder and its hard enough for me but IT WORKS, with the right discipline.

February 8, 2013
5:37 pm
JayJay
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When I was in College learning about digestion I recall two pictures one of a simple carbohydrate and one of a complex. (this was a long time ago so the details are sketchy). The simple carb was a line of simple sugars joined up in a line with two points of digestion(breakdown?, the beginning and the end. The complex carb was multi chained diagram of simple sugars joined together with MANY points of digestion(breakdown?). I couldn't see how the carb with two points of digestion could be broken down quicker the the one with many points. What I was taught didn't make sense from the diagrams I was given. I concluded that complex meant the shape was more complex, nothing else.

I hope it makes sense I am NOT a writer.

February 9, 2013
9:05 pm
Ara
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Did you notice the vegan authors' wrinkly faces and dark circles under their eyes? they look pretty unhealthy to me. Eating disorders maybe?

February 15, 2013
1:34 am
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JayJay:

I know what you mean, but I'm not sure.

Ara:

I didn't want to be mean and point that out -- but yes, the proponents of extreme low-fat diets all seem to age very quickly.  And while the video calls them "lean", I'd call many of them "practically cadaverous."

Note that they have to cherry-pick from three entirely different nutritional approaches in order to find three people who don't look awesome: the WAPF (Sally Fallon), paleo (Cordain), and anti-bread (William Davis).

Meanwhile, they avoid showing pictures of Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, Art Devany (who, well into his 70s, is still stronger and looks better than any of the vegans in the video), Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, or any of the other paleo spokespeople. Robb Wolf is the smallest of the group, and he killed an elk with a friggin' atlatl.

Like I said above, videos are what you make when you've got an argument that won't stand up to logical scrutiny.

Adam:

1. ... "WITH FAT however, only ONE outcome is possible – fat storage."

Apparently your understanding of metabolism and digestion is poor.

First, fat is burned directly for energy, just like glucose.  (It's called "beta-oxidation"...look it up.)  In fact, since you're sitting at a computer right now reading this, you're burning about 90% fatty acids for energy if you're healthy and haven't eaten carbs in the past several hours.

Second, fat tissue is not static: it's constantly releasing fat into circulation and taking it back up.  And unlike glucose, fat in the bloodstream is not immediately toxic to your tissues and organs, so the fat you eat will often hang around for a while until it's burned for energy...

...unless you eat it with a bunch of carbohydrate, at which point the insulin release will indeed cause some of it to be stored as fat more quickly than your body can burn it.

These half-baked veg*an myths are surprisingly pervasive!

2. You're moving the goalposts.  I'm not arguing for the consumption of sugar: I'm pointing out that the advice to "eat complex carbohydrates" doesn't actually change how quickly you absorb them.

3. " If you aren't training like a beast on a regular basis and performing cardio, then you ought not consider this diet."

I hope it's clear that this article isn't aimed at bodybuilders who are training like beasts!  If you're trying to drop under 10% bodyfat, yes, you'll need to do some extreme things with your macronutrient composition (either keto, extreme low fat, or CKD), not to mention your training.

JS

April 12, 2013
6:26 pm
Kevin
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The biggest reason people on low fat/low calorie diets go off of their diet and gain the weight back is because they are starving and their bodies know that they ultimately need some calories.

I believe the biggest reason people on low carb/high fat diets is not because they are starving or even because they crave carbs. It's because these days it's next to impossible to shop for and prepare wholesome high fat/low carb meals. People become addicted to easy to make frozen, microwavable meals, most of which seem to be pasta. On top of that, when you go to restaurant, or to friends homes, they don't serve high fat/low carb meals.

The low carb/high fat diet works, and it works great. It would be very easy to stay on the diet if it was easier to get and prepare the proper foods. It was easy back when there was nothing else available, and both spouses did not work (allowing more time to shop and prepare).

For those that don't believe it, they really just need to try it and see how much better they feel in almost no time. It is an effort, but unlike the low calorie diets, you feel great all the time!

April 15, 2013
8:16 pm
Christie
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I am confused. I like what you say. It sounds good. I live in NZ and like many Australasians I am fat, and I need help but there is soooo much information,I'm getting confused and I feel overwhelmed-its as if as soon as I hear one new helpful thing I forget some other helpful thing. My question is this: will reducing wheat in my diet reduce the amount of fat on my body (particularly around my belly) and/or give me more energy and a better grip on my moods? Also, what is the best flour out there for me to made bread with if I am not going to use wheat? I'm sorry if you have answered these questions already-I think wheat is making my thinking foggy and my concentration poor so I may have missed it!

Keep going on your crusade-you have got my attention!

April 16, 2013
1:30 am
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Kevin:

Availability of compliant food is definitely an important stumbling block for both LC and Paleo.  The US government subsidizes grains and soy so heavily, which makes them so artificially cheap, that it's difficult to find food made without them!

 

Christie:

For the bigger dietary picture, read this guide: Eat Like A Predator. 

One thing you'll have to accept if you want to make permanent positive changes to your diet and life is that you won't be eating the same food.  There is no gluten-free bread that tastes just like wheat bread -- and most of the substitutes are only marginally better for you anyway.  You'll be eating less starch in general, and the starch you do eat will come from root vegetables (e.g. potatoes), and perhaps rice, instead of bread, crackers, cookies, pastries, etc.

I wish you the best on your journey!  Feel free to ask questions once you've read and digested ELAP (pardon the pun).

JS

May 9, 2013
8:56 pm
Jay
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A good, clear read. Thank you.

At only 20 years old, I've recently turned to scientific research to learn that dietary fat does not make people fat, does not cause heart disease, and does not play any role in the numerous problems that the general public assume it to cause.
I had thought that the rising rates of diabetes was due to carbohydrate consumption. This has made me realise that it is not only carbohydrate consumption, but just as importantly, fat reduction.

I'm currently unable to leave my house (I basically leave my bed only for meals) due to a severe chronic illness. Because I'm sedentary, most would think that I would pile on weight (and I have in the past). But recently, I changed my diet to eat as much fat (and protein) as I desire, and no grains (or potatoes), so now I'm able to maintain a very healthy weight. Note that the condition I have does not cause weight loss!
I'm very excited to go on to study dietetics once I have recovered! But I'm sure this will be challenging with the current beliefs of the education systems...

May 11, 2013
2:03 am
Winston
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I have a quick question, which revolves around the militancy of sticking to paleolithic diet. How much is necessary to backslide? I find, personally, that I feel healthiest after a full day of climbing and hiking, or 10-15 miles of biking and a 10k run. Then following all of this with beer and pizza. The next day I will feel slim, light, and ready for more. If I don't eat any simple carbs (like pasta, pizza, and beer) then I usually feel exhausted and heavy. Now the heaviness could be from being tired, but I also know that over-training and starving yourself can lead to actual weight (or just fat) gain. So am I starving my body for the few hours that it takes for my body to absorb the fats and proteins I eat afterwards? Am I still just partially "addicted" to these things and the feelings will go away after months of adherence to a paleolithic diet?

On a broader note, you say that tortillas are great because of the lard contained within, slowing digestion and lowering GI. Does this mean that eating pasta or bread, as long as it is covered with a liberal amount of oil or butter, cheese, and meat and vegetables, that it will be okay? Is this why pizza is not so bad? because of the fat content from the meat and cheese? And if you don't cut out high GI foods completely, how much does this affect the paleo diet? I live in Italy right now, and finding alternatives to pasta (which has mixed messages between high and mid GI) and pizza (a prime target on this page) are difficult (though not impossible) and expensive to find.

Thanks

May 16, 2013
5:52 pm
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Jay:

I'm sorry to hear about your illness, but I'm glad that VLC has helped you.  Persevere with your nutrition training...we need people within the system as well as outside it.

 

Winston:

I'll take your second question first.

I strongly recommend staying gluten-free: the tortilla was merely an illustrative example.  (AFAIK Italy is relatively accepting of gluten-free eating, to the point of providing gluten-free foods to those diagnosed celiac.)  However, it's best to avoid processed foods, and you should be able to find vegetable and potato-based side dishes (e.g. gnocchi).  But yes, it will take an effort to maintain a healthy diet in a world saturated with cereal grain products, particularly wheat.  It's best to realize that you'll simply have to eat different foods now...

...and eating bacon, eggs, and buttered prime rib without guilt makes up for a lot of missed pizzas!

Now to your first question: as an active person, you'll need to consume more carbohydrates than a sedentary office worker.  The difference being, of course, that the easy sources like beer and pizza are out...and it takes a whole lot of potatoes and veggies to make up for that!  White rice often helps...it's technically a cheat, but a reasonably harmless one (it's basically just starch).  See my article on the "Low Carb Flu" for more information on the state you may be stuck in.

JS

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