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What are the downsides of low-carb?

by (3979)
Updated about 21 hours ago
Created July 08, 2013 at 4:00 AM

I get the sense that low-carb is a kind of metabolic trade-off.

For a non-athlete, what are the adverse, or simply non-beneficial effects of low carb?

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

In fact, the 2 scourges of the Atkins diet which Carbsane misses are gout and constipation (impacted feces). Her writing skill needs to improve; her blog is just unreadable. But the point is 25% see their LDL increase and we've seen this in this forum. It's unclear whether that's due to genes (ApoE4) that react to saturated fat, micronutrient deficiency, or low FT3. But that is a lingering problem because these peoples' lipids skyrocket. It is this which mistakenly gave the doctors the impression that saturated fat increases cholesterol. It does in some, yes.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

The current Atkins foundation makes ketosis optional. So even in the Atkins diet, you only need ketosis for 2 weeks. That's probably short enough that it will not incur permanent damage. But what's funny are the stories during the heyday of the Atkins diet. I'm hearing from other forums that people were showing up in emergency rooms across the country with fecal impaction: apparently their colons had become so dry from not enough glucose so they took fiber which worsened the constipation and they literally needed emergency digital removal from the horrified nurses.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

It's all really simple isn't it. It's the best thing since sliced bread. Usually people mature. And evolve. Look at Richard Nikoley. These thoughts are uttered by those who've done it for 3 or 4 months and think nothing can go wrong. And those who champion such a diet are actually metabolically damaged people who've done their own cost-benefit analysis and decided that he'd rather VLC and suffer its after-effects. Or have skin in the game like the Edes, Rosedale, Taubes, Gedgaudas.

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690 · September 22, 2013 at 3:31 PM

>>>>I think her list pertains to people who stay in perpetual Atkins induction phase. <<<<<

E- Thanks for the clarification.

Staying in perpetual Atkins induction phase sounds like a really bad idea an probably counts as an eating disorder?

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10199 · September 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I got the weight loss, A1C, triglyceride and blood glucose benefits, and cured my diabetes, simply by reducing the volume of carbs that I ate and by being much less sedentary. Lesson learned: I'll need to restrict carbs if I become inactive again.

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10199 · September 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Evelyn's still grinding her Jimmy-axe. I think her list pertains to people who stay in perpetual Atkins induction phase.

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10199 · September 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM

I'm glad Jimmy isn't Paleo. We'd all have to shoot ourselves.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 5:38 AM

Actually, didn't Jimmy actually come out and say that he does have hypothyroid symptoms? I was thinking, of all people, he's the one who's optimally suited for this diet. If not Jimmy who? And Jimmy also has cold fingers? Who else? Angelo Coppola? Dr. Mercola? Abel James? Richard Nikolei? You mean this is not limited to a tiny fraction of people who go into ketosis? Seriously, reading these people, you'd think it's completely atypical to have such symptoms. Oh, that's right, ketosis is a natural state. I keep forget, that's what Lucas Talfur says. So he msut be right.

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690 · September 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM

First of all ... the label "low carb" is not very precise, low carb compared to what? Surely a person's size & activity level matter? IMO not all carbs are equal. I any case, I did Akins YEARS ago for ~ 6months and never suffered any of her first four complaints... I totally agree with you "Carb reduction is invaluable for controlling diabetes" & I'd add auto-immune conditions.. My wife's MD put her on a very restrictive "salmon & greens" j/k but no grains, sugar or fruit and her condition is under control.

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245 · September 20, 2013 at 11:45 PM

sexy post

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0 · September 20, 2013 at 10:58 PM

When you say reduced, does it mean irreversible?

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69 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

I don't get why you PH folks tirelessly carry water for that huckster. Seems every couple months a legitimate question comes up - and like clockwork it's either deleted or closed. Why?? It's largely because of people like himself shamelessly co-opting the Paleo brand that it's still seen as a fringe diet - and you folks seem only too happy to help him.

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1601 · July 09, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Thus, I don't think low-carb will inherently cause thyroid problems! But I do think that perhaps people can come in with thyroid problems and some aspect of low-carb + nutritional deficiency + stress could exacerbate it. Because I wonder about gluconeogenesis with hypothyroid, cortisol issues, unintentional malnourishment and undereating, etc? From my research a combination of the former seem to be pretty common in the US population at large, and perhaps those new to paleo as well who do not eat liver, kidney, etc. on a sufficient basis.

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1601 · July 09, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Hi Dragonfly, thanks. I do believe in ketosis therapy and for many people as a weight loss tool. I guess low-carb is just not something *I* think can safely be done without a lot of guidance, or basically following the Jaminet's ketogenic diet, which calls for a lot of coconut oil, <50 g Carb, and branched-chain amino acid supplementation. I think so many people may enter paleo, or low-carb diets in a state of dysregulation (Cortisol, for example, or overstressed, or even malnourished and overweight) that I think it's important to address good nutrition first (and include carbs).

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2030 · July 09, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Great link Dragonfly, thank you. I always enjoy reading about our ancient diet. I tend to agree that plant foods weren't a prominent food source during the paleolithic.

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10199 · July 09, 2013 at 2:56 AM

And it appears the same was true for all Amerinds on exposure to western diseases. Smallpox in the case of Aztecs and Incas, probably yellow fever in the case of the Salish, and though the main Mayan culture was gone by the time of the Spanish an epidemic is suspected as cause of their decline. Probably no significant diet connection.

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10199 · July 09, 2013 at 2:44 AM

Thinking about point #8, reduced immune function. The low carb indigenous Salish population in my area was decimated by exposure to diseases for which they had no resistance. I've not heard that the same was true for higher carb eating Incas, Mayans and Aztecs. Worth looking in to though.

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10199 · July 09, 2013 at 2:26 AM

All well and good with your link to high latitude diet Dragonfly. The indigenous Salish in my area successfully back-adapted to a low carb diet, and lived for several thousand years that way. But very few Amerinds lived in the high latitudes, compared to the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans nearer the equator who ate more carbs. The Asiatic pioneers could survive on meat, fish, bark cambium and berries. They developed advanced civilizations using corn, potatoes and domesticated animals. If humans live where carbs are abundant they eat them and thrive, whether in central Africa, the Americas or Asia.

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32518 · July 09, 2013 at 12:42 AM

http://archaeonova.blogspot.com/2013/04/myths-of-paleo-part-one.html

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2030 · July 08, 2013 at 11:35 PM

I guess your right, the fact that we can use ketones for fuel doesn't necessarily mean it's best. At what point though, should we consider it a legitimate dietary strategy. If you can survive to say 70-80 years in the high arctic for more than one generation I think it should be considered more than just a starvation defense, or maybe not maybe the body is just that resourceful.

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 9:54 PM

@colin if you read through the discussion, he is discussing ketosis as it applies to a Type I diabetic. Others picked up on the theme of ketosis as a long-term survival method where and when carbs aren't available, as with the Inuit. Being able to live on ketones has nothing to do with whether that's optimal for health or longevity.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 9:30 PM

http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/low-carb-diets-and-hypothyroidism-a-false-alarm/

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 9:30 PM

http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/low-carb-diets-and-hypothyroidism-a-false-alarm/

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Yup. He is referring to Type I diabetes in his post.

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2030 · July 08, 2013 at 9:23 PM

@thhq, Thanks for the link, but I think the author is confusing ketosis and ketoacidosis is he not? Then again maybe that wasn't your point. Like Dragonfly I haven't found anything conclusive in proving that type of diet unhealthy, it's mostly just anecdotes. Personally I don't fair to well on a low carb diet, but by no means does that say that someone else can't thrive on it.

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2626 · July 08, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Citing bloggers (who cite peer-reviewed research) is still better than citing nothing. And I was referring to "sheep," not "fat.

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2626 · July 08, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Citing bloggers (who cite peer-reviewed research) is still better than citing nothing, as you've done. And I was referring to "sheep," not "fat."

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2506 · July 08, 2013 at 8:31 PM

I agree with you. Upping my carb intake somewhat has really warmed me up. I used to keep my thermostat to 80 degrees, which is quite economical for living in south Florida. But now I can't tolerate anything above 78 degrees. I also find myself more sweaty due to eating carbs. I think this points to more active (read: healthier) thyroid. I am getting thyroid testing done next month which will prove/disprove my theory.

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 8:22 PM

No @colin, but others have called ketosis a death-state. Here's an example. http://mises.ca/posts/blog/against-ketosis/ We can survive in ketosis for extended periods because it's most useful as a final defense against starvation. Not necessarily optimal or desirable.

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 8:06 PM

+1 for the fat people comment at the end. That was me, and though I never ate VLC, eating LESS carbs definitely helped me lose weight. For a fat person it's a matter of sheer food excess more than macro ratios. Another unmentioned downside I experienced restricting carbs was hypoglycemia.

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 8:04 PM

I agree with everything you said... Since adding sweet potatoes into my post workout breakfast I have so much more definition head to toe its awesome. I wondering if I should include carbs on my off days?

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2030 · July 08, 2013 at 7:42 PM

That's a bit strong alligator, I'm not sure too many LC'ers would appreciate being compared to a cancer patient or an anorexic.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 7:35 PM

...and calling someone fat when we're talking about body composition and health is not an ad hominem attack. It's just being concise.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Huh? I've done more blogging in the last 5 weeks of ketosis than I have in the last 5 months or more.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Hmmm, how did you figure that from what I wrote? I have a GREAT appetite--plenty of desire for food, just not hungry until later in the day.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I find it funny that youre using the term blogger in a way that's supposed to earn my respect (or anyones). A nutrition/fitness/health blogger is to a healthy/fit/lean/athletic person as a Gamer is to a soldier/race car driver/soccer player, etc.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I find it funny that your using the term blogger in a way that's supposed to earn my respect (or anyones). It's a nutrition/fitness/health blogger is to a healthy/fit/lean/athletic person as a Gamer is to a soldier/race car driver/soccer player, etc.

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2626 · July 08, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I am voting you down non-anonymously for the ad hominem insults (has calling someone a "sheep" ever convinced anyone of anything, in the entire history of humankind)? Also, your refusal to provide citations or even links. Many of these criticisms have been addressed by other low-carb researchers or bloggers, so it's important to know whether you're referring to better, more definitive evidence or just the same old things.

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2043 · July 08, 2013 at 7:08 PM

I upvoted you because I hate the anonymous downvotes. I think you should only be able to down vote if you leave a comment indicating you are downvoting and why. I also agree with many of your points.

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1772 · July 08, 2013 at 7:02 PM

And did you ever think that "clarity of mind" that your experience is just a less active mind? A less creative one?

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1772 · July 08, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Right because having no desire for food- one of our most primal urges- is a sign of health. The fact that sick people like cancer patients and severe anorexics have no appetite is a sign of health for them too. LMAO.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Thanks for the anonymous downvote. I can only assume you're one of those fat/skinny-fat low-carbers I was talking about. Have fun falling short of your potential.

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 6:39 PM

I definitely feel elevated cortisol levels on VLC...

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 6:05 PM

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/ketosis-advantaged-or-misunderstood-state-part-ii

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 6:05 PM

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/ketosis-advantaged-or-misunderstood-state-part-i

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Yes dramatic impact is an under statement...I noticed no gain in water weight or any negative effects. I have much better digestion as well. On my off days I don't consume many carbs unless I drink wine, or have some cheese. I am toying with the idea of having a small portion of sweet potatoes on my off days to see how I like it.

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1601 · July 08, 2013 at 4:26 PM

other interesting posts perhaps: www.leangains.com/2009/02/low-carb-talibans.html http://www.leangains.com/2010/06/malcolm-gladwell-on-low-carb-diets.html

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2506 · July 08, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Indeed, once you get down below a certain threshold (100-150 grams?) even a small change in carb intake can have a dramatic impact.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 3:07 PM

And changing diet/dietary macros during Breastfeeding is not something I recommmend. If you are already low carb, no problems from what I am seeing in the blogosphere.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Read these posts, if you haven't already, Dan. http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/ketones-and-ketosis/tips-tricks-for-starting-or-restarting-low-carb-pt-i/ http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/saturated-fat/tips-tricks-for-starting-or-restarting-low-carb-pt-ii/

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 3:03 PM

No need for catabolisis if you are eating sufficient protein and fat.

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3979 · July 08, 2013 at 1:45 PM

...but I think that's partially due to the face that we are catabolizing ourselves. Are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Big questions.

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3979 · July 08, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Yeah, I'm also super skinny, and I'm not sure low-carb is so good for me (anymore). My energy isn't as high as it was on reg-carb. Sure, it's steadier, but I think my body's processes are more sluggish as a result. I've pushed through the hypoglycemia before--it's interesting. It's sort of like a mental/emotional test. It's awful when you're going through it, but when you come out the other side, there's a certain amount of clarity and peace gained. But now I'm beginning to think that something is lost, too. We feel cleaner on low carb, both physically and mentally,

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Vlc doesn't cause hypothyroidism. That's an unfortunate myth floating around the Paleo world. You may find these interesting: http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/low-carb-diets-and-hypothyroidism-a-false-alarm/ http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/carbohydrate-restriction-as-an-adjunct-treatment-for-hypothyroidism/

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26182 · July 08, 2013 at 1:27 PM

even if you are not an athlete, if you do any type of intense exercise -- sprints, lifting, etc -- you will not recover as quickly and your performance will suffer -- just my N=1

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 12:23 PM

+1. LOL. Who's Jimmy Moore? I lost my scorecard and don't know who the base runners are any moore.

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2506 · July 08, 2013 at 11:50 AM

N=+1. Low carbs do me well for a few weeks before feeling a bit weak, run down. My stools also seem to do a bit better with more carbs. And I also find myself being able to sweat really good whilst doing cardio if I eat more than 100 grams of carbs per day.

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24538 · July 08, 2013 at 6:27 AM

I've had really awesome experiences with it too, as long as I wasn't pregnant or breastfeeding. My milk has almost disappeared overnight the half dozen times I've decided to go low carb while breastfeeding.

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8205 · July 08, 2013 at 5:44 AM

Don't know where my punctuation went! I meant to say I lost my inability to walk and exercise, lost my brain fog, too!

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8205 · July 08, 2013 at 5:42 AM

I've yet to see any evidence of these supposed negative effects. They are speculation at best. Personally, my N=1 very low carb x 2years shows: Improved thyroid function No scurvy (I eat plenty of veggies with vitamin C) No dry eyes, dry mouth, or constipation No gut dysbiosis or leaky gut symptoms Can't speak to the other things, blood normal, a little past the breast feeding stage of life (but with PCOS I had major problems with breast milk production on SAD). Oh, wait, there are some effects: I lost 60 lbs GERD Inability to walk and exercise Brain fog The horror!

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69 · July 08, 2013 at 5:25 AM

Is it a hipster too-ironic-for-actual-confrontation thing?

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 6:19 PM

I am not going to cite sources because I am not a pseudo-academic who gets paid for this thing. This is based on a combination of experience, observation, and scientific studies. I would also like to differentiate between chronic low carb diets (like under 75g per day) and carb cycling diets which stagger between low, moderate, and high carb days. I am only speaking of chronic low carb diets.

  1. reduced leptin

  2. reduced thyroid function

  3. muscle wasting/inability to build muscle/reduced capacity to recover from exercise

  4. reduced testosterone

  5. elevated cortisol

  6. reduced insulin sensitivity

  7. development of food intolerances (due largely to the less mucus production, which makes the gut more permeable).

  8. reduced immune function

  9. diminished or poor body composition (without the use of steroids or "HRT")

  10. reduced overall physical and emotional resilience.

  11. poor gut biome (if not getting sufficient fiber...usually the case because there are pre-biotics in many starchy foods like bananas and sweet potatoes). We ferment some of this into Short chain fatty acids to be used for energy.

HAving said this, I feel obligated to address some caveats and some positives.

The first caveat is that low carbs is relative. If you're a trac and field athlete, and consume 200 grams of carbs a day but also burn 200 grams a day through sprinting/workouts (lets say you consume 200 each day and it goes to muscle glycogen to get depleted again the next day), then you're also eating a low carb diet...but without ANY of the downsides of actually restricting carbs and filling up on excessive quantities of fat. You also get the benefits of improved insulin sensitivity, hormonal profile, lipid profile, and body composition.

Or...you could be a delusion low-carb fad following sheep.

Here's how it works: 1. Fit, athletic, lean people eating well try low carb diets. First see some weight loss. Skin looks tighter (water loss), and you look more aesthetic. Then as time goes on, you begin feeling flat, your recovery diminishes (and with that body comp, immunity, sex drive, etc), and you carb up. You feel good and ralize low carb diets are temporary and not for athletes and laready fit people. you end up eating a chronic moderate carb diet, or you carb cycle and return to being your usual fit, lean, athletic self.

  1. fat people: Eat low carb. Lose weight. Lose some fat and even more muscle.. Pencil necks and wrists and ankles, with all of their bodyweight concentrated around their center of gravity (midsection...chest/abs/upper thighs). May look decent in clothes but not in a swimsuit.

That's the truth. Keep spinning your wheels or start exercising, eating RIGHT, and having fun.

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2626 · July 08, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Citing bloggers (who cite peer-reviewed research) is still better than citing nothing, as you've done. And I was referring to "sheep," not "fat."

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2043 · July 08, 2013 at 7:08 PM

I upvoted you because I hate the anonymous downvotes. I think you should only be able to down vote if you leave a comment indicating you are downvoting and why. I also agree with many of your points.

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2626 · July 08, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I am voting you down non-anonymously for the ad hominem insults (has calling someone a "sheep" ever convinced anyone of anything, in the entire history of humankind)? Also, your refusal to provide citations or even links. Many of these criticisms have been addressed by other low-carb researchers or bloggers, so it's important to know whether you're referring to better, more definitive evidence or just the same old things.

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 8:04 PM

I agree with everything you said... Since adding sweet potatoes into my post workout breakfast I have so much more definition head to toe its awesome. I wondering if I should include carbs on my off days?

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 6:39 PM

I definitely feel elevated cortisol levels on VLC...

Medium avatar
10199 · July 08, 2013 at 8:06 PM

+1 for the fat people comment at the end. That was me, and though I never ate VLC, eating LESS carbs definitely helped me lose weight. For a fat person it's a matter of sheer food excess more than macro ratios. Another unmentioned downside I experienced restricting carbs was hypoglycemia.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I find it funny that youre using the term blogger in a way that's supposed to earn my respect (or anyones). A nutrition/fitness/health blogger is to a healthy/fit/lean/athletic person as a Gamer is to a soldier/race car driver/soccer player, etc.

Medium avatar
10199 · July 09, 2013 at 2:44 AM

Thinking about point #8, reduced immune function. The low carb indigenous Salish population in my area was decimated by exposure to diseases for which they had no resistance. I've not heard that the same was true for higher carb eating Incas, Mayans and Aztecs. Worth looking in to though.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Thanks for the anonymous downvote. I can only assume you're one of those fat/skinny-fat low-carbers I was talking about. Have fun falling short of your potential.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 7:35 PM

...and calling someone fat when we're talking about body composition and health is not an ad hominem attack. It's just being concise.

Medium avatar
10199 · July 09, 2013 at 2:56 AM

And it appears the same was true for all Amerinds on exposure to western diseases. Smallpox in the case of Aztecs and Incas, probably yellow fever in the case of the Salish, and though the main Mayan culture was gone by the time of the Spanish an epidemic is suspected as cause of their decline. Probably no significant diet connection.

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91 · July 08, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I find it funny that your using the term blogger in a way that's supposed to earn my respect (or anyones). It's a nutrition/fitness/health blogger is to a healthy/fit/lean/athletic person as a Gamer is to a soldier/race car driver/soccer player, etc.

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2626 · July 08, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Citing bloggers (who cite peer-reviewed research) is still better than citing nothing. And I was referring to "sheep," not "fat.

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245 · September 20, 2013 at 11:45 PM

sexy post

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0 · September 20, 2013 at 10:58 PM

When you say reduced, does it mean irreversible?

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24538 · July 08, 2013 at 5:25 AM

When I've done it, I've had mostly good experiences.

Some people can become hypothyroid. My hypothyroidism was caused by wheat consumption, so I noticed the opposite. But maybe if I had stayed with it for longer my thyroid function would have eventually taken a beating.

If you don't eat enough organ meats or vegetables there is the possibility of scurvy.

According to Paul Jaminet there can be a down regulation in mucus production leading to dry eyes, dry mouth, and constipation.

Without the prebiotic fiber from starchy roots, the gut bacteria that is in charge of keeping the junctions between cells tight to prevent leaky gut don't get fed, and it can cause dysbiosis and exacerbate leaky gut in some people.

Hematomacrosis (a rare genetic disorder) can happen to people who are prone if they eat a lot of red meat, and don't give blood.

Breastmilk production can be an issue with VLC too, but since your name is Dan, I am guessing that won't be an issue for you.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Vlc doesn't cause hypothyroidism. That's an unfortunate myth floating around the Paleo world. You may find these interesting: http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/low-carb-diets-and-hypothyroidism-a-false-alarm/ http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/carbohydrate-restriction-as-an-adjunct-treatment-for-hypothyroidism/

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8205 · July 08, 2013 at 5:44 AM

Don't know where my punctuation went! I meant to say I lost my inability to walk and exercise, lost my brain fog, too!

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8205 · July 08, 2013 at 5:42 AM

I've yet to see any evidence of these supposed negative effects. They are speculation at best. Personally, my N=1 very low carb x 2years shows: Improved thyroid function No scurvy (I eat plenty of veggies with vitamin C) No dry eyes, dry mouth, or constipation No gut dysbiosis or leaky gut symptoms Can't speak to the other things, blood normal, a little past the breast feeding stage of life (but with PCOS I had major problems with breast milk production on SAD). Oh, wait, there are some effects: I lost 60 lbs GERD Inability to walk and exercise Brain fog The horror!

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24538 · July 08, 2013 at 6:27 AM

I've had really awesome experiences with it too, as long as I wasn't pregnant or breastfeeding. My milk has almost disappeared overnight the half dozen times I've decided to go low carb while breastfeeding.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 3:07 PM

And changing diet/dietary macros during Breastfeeding is not something I recommmend. If you are already low carb, no problems from what I am seeing in the blogosphere.

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1005 · July 08, 2013 at 10:00 AM

I did a low carb <30g for a little while, but it just didn't vibe with me. I'm already very lean with no interest in losing weight, so I wasn't in it for that.

I noticed the extra energy, but, it was mostly adrenal / pseudo-energy, and I don't like that. After the experiment, I took my diet in the opposite direction with limiting my adrenaline.

I found it to be too limiting in daily food choice combos. I really like eating lots of starches / fruits / juices all day long.

My main goal for trying it out was to boost my immune system, which, I did get a little bit of for a short while, but, it didn't work out. The key idea there turned out to be watching my arginine intake, supplementing with lysine when I need to, and the biggest key was sleeping better. (And a round of heavy antibiotics.)

I'm not against it for those who have some extra fat on reserves and feel great on the diet with 2-3 meals a day and no blood sugar issues. But, it didn't work well for me. I quickly felt hypoglycemic and had no interest in pushing through that.

I much prefer a diet closer to Japanese foods / PHD / Zone. I found that to make me feel the healthiest / happiest with what I'm eating.

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3979 · July 08, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Yeah, I'm also super skinny, and I'm not sure low-carb is so good for me (anymore). My energy isn't as high as it was on reg-carb. Sure, it's steadier, but I think my body's processes are more sluggish as a result. I've pushed through the hypoglycemia before--it's interesting. It's sort of like a mental/emotional test. It's awful when you're going through it, but when you come out the other side, there's a certain amount of clarity and peace gained. But now I'm beginning to think that something is lost, too. We feel cleaner on low carb, both physically and mentally,

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3979 · July 08, 2013 at 1:45 PM

...but I think that's partially due to the face that we are catabolizing ourselves. Are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Big questions.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 3:03 PM

No need for catabolisis if you are eating sufficient protein and fat.

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11683 · July 08, 2013 at 10:27 AM

The disadvantages to me of going too low carb is I feel too low energy on it, also I find soluble fiber helpful for well-formed stools and preventing constipation. That being said,I think my current carb intake is fairly low - 1/2 cup starchy veg or rice with each meal, and maybe 1/2 banana or some berries as a snack.

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2506 · July 08, 2013 at 11:50 AM

N=+1. Low carbs do me well for a few weeks before feeling a bit weak, run down. My stools also seem to do a bit better with more carbs. And I also find myself being able to sweat really good whilst doing cardio if I eat more than 100 grams of carbs per day.

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 5:46 PM

To those that say VLC has no impact on thyroid function I don't believe you. I couldn't figure out for quite awhile as to why my hands and feet were blisteringly cold. I don't have a blood test to prove my theory but my hands and feet go from cold to warm within a short time after I have ingested some carbs. I too was scared of carbs but I train quite hard 3-5 days a week and my body responds unbelievably well to carbs.

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2506 · July 08, 2013 at 8:31 PM

I agree with you. Upping my carb intake somewhat has really warmed me up. I used to keep my thermostat to 80 degrees, which is quite economical for living in south Florida. But now I can't tolerate anything above 78 degrees. I also find myself more sweaty due to eating carbs. I think this points to more active (read: healthier) thyroid. I am getting thyroid testing done next month which will prove/disprove my theory.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 9:30 PM

http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/low-carb-diets-and-hypothyroidism-a-false-alarm/

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1601 · July 08, 2013 at 4:38 PM

I'm not making this about me, but I think it's important to remember there are positives and negatives of every diet.

I'm assuming you've already researched the positives, and perhaps experienced some of them. Paleohacks is full of them. Such as you may, perhaps, feel fuller on low-carb, because you're eating more nutrient dense food.

So, here are some potential negatives:

Thyroid issues http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/08/mario-replies-low-carb-diets-and-the-thyroid-ii/

Yes, it is possible to develop a glucose deficiency on low-carb diets. If this occurs, the body will conserve glucose by reducing T3 and increasing rT3.

The paleo diet, in and of itself, may not cause problems, but if you're undereating, there is potential, no?

What the perfect health diet (Paul Jaminet) calls low carb seems slightly different than other nutritional persons.

Paul estimates that 200 calories of dietary carbs, plus 400 calories from gluconeogenesis, is barely sufficient to prevent a glucose deficiency in a sedentary healthy person.

I think it's also important to note, however, that there are highly variably and individual impacts on mood, brain function, sleep, etc. - from any diet, not just a low-carb one.

Finally, Infections

I definitely think it's important to consider the role of fungi/protozoal infections versus bacterial ones. Paul Jaminet said in a podcast with Chris Kresser that fungi/protozoa feed on ketones - which can come from eating low carb; or low-carb with coconut oil; or low-carb, coconut oil, and branched chain amino acid supplementation. If you get worse eating low-carb, than that could be an indication of a fungal infection, which is actually not all that uncommon. It takes a while for these infections to show themselves....so that is something to consider. As well, eating too much protein to excess can feed pathogens, which all feed on iron.

Just some points to consider.

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1601 · July 09, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Thus, I don't think low-carb will inherently cause thyroid problems! But I do think that perhaps people can come in with thyroid problems and some aspect of low-carb + nutritional deficiency + stress could exacerbate it. Because I wonder about gluconeogenesis with hypothyroid, cortisol issues, unintentional malnourishment and undereating, etc? From my research a combination of the former seem to be pretty common in the US population at large, and perhaps those new to paleo as well who do not eat liver, kidney, etc. on a sufficient basis.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 6:05 PM

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/ketosis-advantaged-or-misunderstood-state-part-i

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 9:30 PM

http://aworldlymonk.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/low-carb-diets-and-hypothyroidism-a-false-alarm/

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 6:05 PM

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/ketosis-advantaged-or-misunderstood-state-part-ii

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1601 · July 09, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Hi Dragonfly, thanks. I do believe in ketosis therapy and for many people as a weight loss tool. I guess low-carb is just not something *I* think can safely be done without a lot of guidance, or basically following the Jaminet's ketogenic diet, which calls for a lot of coconut oil, <50 g Carb, and branched-chain amino acid supplementation. I think so many people may enter paleo, or low-carb diets in a state of dysregulation (Cortisol, for example, or overstressed, or even malnourished and overweight) that I think it's important to address good nutrition first (and include carbs).

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 3:18 PM

My personal experience with VLC was extremely slow recovery times like a hard workout would take 3-5 days to heal. I had constant brain fog, and very poor memory. I added .5 lbs of sweet potato post workout and my stamina, strength, and drive has increased dramatically. Brain fog, poor memory and slow recovery times all disappeared. I am not trying to lose weight as much as I'm trying to gain lean muscle and decrease body fat %. I am still only getting 75-100 grams of carbs a day but it has made all of the difference

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2506 · July 08, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Indeed, once you get down below a certain threshold (100-150 grams?) even a small change in carb intake can have a dramatic impact.

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519 · July 08, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Yes dramatic impact is an under statement...I noticed no gain in water weight or any negative effects. I have much better digestion as well. On my off days I don't consume many carbs unless I drink wine, or have some cheese. I am toying with the idea of having a small portion of sweet potatoes on my off days to see how I like it.

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154 · July 08, 2013 at 5:01 PM

For me, I have felt really great for the few days I have been able to sustain it. However, I find it hard to maintain. I will tell myself I am allowed to eat a piece of fruit and next thing I know I have eaten 3 pieces and want to keep going.

For me the upsides were: better sleep habits, less digestive distress.

down sides: very powerful carb cravings and bingeing when I slip off the wagon

I have considered trying again and seeing if I make it through a week if the cravings will go away, but I haven't done that yet.

Moderately low carb diets are beneficial but you don't really have to be zero carb to be considered low carb. If you are just starting out you might find it easier to hang around 100-150g of carbs per day by eating carby vegetables (beets, squash, sweeet potatoes) and some fruit to ease into it.

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343 · September 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

My personal experience of maintaining low carb eating over the long term is that it was great for about a year, bearing in mind that I had probably a weekly cheat evening (wine, dessert) and kept below 50g the rest of the time. Then I noticed, when I was at my slimmest and strongest and had the kind of body I'd always DREAMED of having, that I was increasingly suffering from three things. I could not sleep and had zero sex drive. And I mean NOTHING. I even deliberately stayed single, even though I looked how I'd always wanted to look, because who wants a girlfriend who isn't interested in having sex? And what's the point in working your arse off to look good if you then inflict celibacy upon yourself? None of this was a problem when I was less slim, less strong, less fit and 'overweight'.

I think now I've found a better balance, although unfortunately I've had to kiss goodbye to that magazine cover body. I'm softer now, though still fit, and I believe healthier. But I still look good by the standards of your average person on the street, I can SLEEP - which is just the most wonderful feeling ever, as anyone who's suffered from insomnia will fully understand - and my sex drive has returned to normal.

I don't know if it was the low carbs or merely the fact that my body was under a lot of stress and may not have had enough bodyfat (which I could equally have achieved with a high carb, low calorie vegan diet) for it to be happy. Honestly, though? My gut feeling is that it needed more carbs. I feel this very strongly and have no hard evidence for it whatsoever :)

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8205 · September 21, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Oh my, it's just horrible! So dangerous--if you try it, you might suffer the following:

Serious weight loss (65 lbs for me)

Low HbA1c and normalized blood glucose levels

Loss of GERD symptoms

Decreased insulin and testosterone levels (in women)

Menses regularity--may lead to pregnancy in otherwise annovulatory women

Loss of acne, hair stops falling out.

Cessation of asthma

Fatigue loss

Sudden drop in triglycerides and increase in HDL

Fatty liver reversal

So very bad for you. I wouldn't try it if I were you.

;o)

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10199 · September 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I got the weight loss, A1C, triglyceride and blood glucose benefits, and cured my diabetes, simply by reducing the volume of carbs that I ate and by being much less sedentary. Lesson learned: I'll need to restrict carbs if I become inactive again.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

It's all really simple isn't it. It's the best thing since sliced bread. Usually people mature. And evolve. Look at Richard Nikoley. These thoughts are uttered by those who've done it for 3 or 4 months and think nothing can go wrong. And those who champion such a diet are actually metabolically damaged people who've done their own cost-benefit analysis and decided that he'd rather VLC and suffer its after-effects. Or have skin in the game like the Edes, Rosedale, Taubes, Gedgaudas.

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10199 · September 21, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Interestingly evelyn lists 11 reasons low carb is a fail too:

http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2013/06/11-unexpected-health-hazards-of-atkins.html

Which includes brain fog, insomnia, extreme LDL levels and increased inflammation.

Carb reduction is invaluable for controlling diabetes, and can be useful as a weight loss technique if it results in reduced food consumption overall.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

In fact, the 2 scourges of the Atkins diet which Carbsane misses are gout and constipation (impacted feces). Her writing skill needs to improve; her blog is just unreadable. But the point is 25% see their LDL increase and we've seen this in this forum. It's unclear whether that's due to genes (ApoE4) that react to saturated fat, micronutrient deficiency, or low FT3. But that is a lingering problem because these peoples' lipids skyrocket. It is this which mistakenly gave the doctors the impression that saturated fat increases cholesterol. It does in some, yes.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

The current Atkins foundation makes ketosis optional. So even in the Atkins diet, you only need ketosis for 2 weeks. That's probably short enough that it will not incur permanent damage. But what's funny are the stories during the heyday of the Atkins diet. I'm hearing from other forums that people were showing up in emergency rooms across the country with fecal impaction: apparently their colons had become so dry from not enough glucose so they took fiber which worsened the constipation and they literally needed emergency digital removal from the horrified nurses.

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10199 · September 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Evelyn's still grinding her Jimmy-axe. I think her list pertains to people who stay in perpetual Atkins induction phase.

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690 · September 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM

First of all ... the label "low carb" is not very precise, low carb compared to what? Surely a person's size & activity level matter? IMO not all carbs are equal. I any case, I did Akins YEARS ago for ~ 6months and never suffered any of her first four complaints... I totally agree with you "Carb reduction is invaluable for controlling diabetes" & I'd add auto-immune conditions.. My wife's MD put her on a very restrictive "salmon & greens" j/k but no grains, sugar or fruit and her condition is under control.

.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 5:02 AM

I haven't found many, personally. Not in my vlc/keto experience or in all my reading on the subject.

On the contrary. I have more clarity of mind, consistent energy and better digestion.

Sure, a few downsides:

I do miss my taters, sometimes... Until I eat some and remember how much carbs bloat me.

Keto-breath. Though that seems to go away after some time.

I am never hungry before noon, so it makes brunch dates with friends a bit challenging.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Hmmm, how did you figure that from what I wrote? I have a GREAT appetite--plenty of desire for food, just not hungry until later in the day.

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32518 · July 09, 2013 at 12:42 AM

http://archaeonova.blogspot.com/2013/04/myths-of-paleo-part-one.html

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Yup. He is referring to Type I diabetes in his post.

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2030 · July 08, 2013 at 7:42 PM

That's a bit strong alligator, I'm not sure too many LC'ers would appreciate being compared to a cancer patient or an anorexic.

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2030 · July 08, 2013 at 11:35 PM

I guess your right, the fact that we can use ketones for fuel doesn't necessarily mean it's best. At what point though, should we consider it a legitimate dietary strategy. If you can survive to say 70-80 years in the high arctic for more than one generation I think it should be considered more than just a starvation defense, or maybe not maybe the body is just that resourceful.

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 9:54 PM

@colin if you read through the discussion, he is discussing ketosis as it applies to a Type I diabetic. Others picked up on the theme of ketosis as a long-term survival method where and when carbs aren't available, as with the Inuit. Being able to live on ketones has nothing to do with whether that's optimal for health or longevity.

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32518 · July 08, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Huh? I've done more blogging in the last 5 weeks of ketosis than I have in the last 5 months or more.

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 8:22 PM

No @colin, but others have called ketosis a death-state. Here's an example. http://mises.ca/posts/blog/against-ketosis/ We can survive in ketosis for extended periods because it's most useful as a final defense against starvation. Not necessarily optimal or desirable.

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1772 · July 08, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Right because having no desire for food- one of our most primal urges- is a sign of health. The fact that sick people like cancer patients and severe anorexics have no appetite is a sign of health for them too. LMAO.

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2030 · July 09, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Great link Dragonfly, thank you. I always enjoy reading about our ancient diet. I tend to agree that plant foods weren't a prominent food source during the paleolithic.

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1772 · July 08, 2013 at 7:02 PM

And did you ever think that "clarity of mind" that your experience is just a less active mind? A less creative one?

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2030 · July 08, 2013 at 9:23 PM

@thhq, Thanks for the link, but I think the author is confusing ketosis and ketoacidosis is he not? Then again maybe that wasn't your point. Like Dragonfly I haven't found anything conclusive in proving that type of diet unhealthy, it's mostly just anecdotes. Personally I don't fair to well on a low carb diet, but by no means does that say that someone else can't thrive on it.

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10199 · July 09, 2013 at 2:26 AM

All well and good with your link to high latitude diet Dragonfly. The indigenous Salish in my area successfully back-adapted to a low carb diet, and lived for several thousand years that way. But very few Amerinds lived in the high latitudes, compared to the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans nearer the equator who ate more carbs. The Asiatic pioneers could survive on meat, fish, bark cambium and berries. They developed advanced civilizations using corn, potatoes and domesticated animals. If humans live where carbs are abundant they eat them and thrive, whether in central Africa, the Americas or Asia.

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69 · July 08, 2013 at 4:40 AM

Jimmy Moore says it's the ONLY way to go, and anyone who says otherwise is a "hater". Who can argue with that logic?

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69 · July 08, 2013 at 5:25 AM

Is it a hipster too-ironic-for-actual-confrontation thing?

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69 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

I don't get why you PH folks tirelessly carry water for that huckster. Seems every couple months a legitimate question comes up - and like clockwork it's either deleted or closed. Why?? It's largely because of people like himself shamelessly co-opting the Paleo brand that it's still seen as a fringe diet - and you folks seem only too happy to help him.

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10199 · July 08, 2013 at 12:23 PM

+1. LOL. Who's Jimmy Moore? I lost my scorecard and don't know who the base runners are any moore.

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578 · September 22, 2013 at 5:38 AM

Actually, didn't Jimmy actually come out and say that he does have hypothyroid symptoms? I was thinking, of all people, he's the one who's optimally suited for this diet. If not Jimmy who? And Jimmy also has cold fingers? Who else? Angelo Coppola? Dr. Mercola? Abel James? Richard Nikolei? You mean this is not limited to a tiny fraction of people who go into ketosis? Seriously, reading these people, you'd think it's completely atypical to have such symptoms. Oh, that's right, ketosis is a natural state. I keep forget, that's what Lucas Talfur says. So he msut be right.

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10199 · September 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM

I'm glad Jimmy isn't Paleo. We'd all have to shoot ourselves.

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38 · July 09, 2013 at 4:42 AM

Well for me its.. low energy and sadness because you cant eat the tasty food. Nothing much apart form that.

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