It seems it's become rather common recently to insist that paleo is not, by definition, low carb. It might also be a fair generalization to say that this opinion carries with it the presumption of greater sophistication; as if when we were just beginners in the world of paleo we clung to low carb, but now that we know better we understand that the primary diet focus should be eating "real food," avoiding gluten, excessive fructose, processed foods, etc. -- and if this brings with it in general less carbohydrate intake, fine, but this does not necessitate an officially LC diet: less than 100g, less than 50g, whatever.
But, hey: whatever happened to the benefits of eating low carb? Whatever happened to "switching to a fat metabolism"?
When I eat upwards of 100g of carbohydrate (sweet potatoes included here, folks):
-- I cannot go for nearly as long without eating.
-- I cannot work out in the fasted state.
-- I do not ever feel completely full and satisfied.
-- My digestion suffers.
Now I am perfectly happy to admit: It might be the case that these limitations are the result of earlier metabolic "damage"; that had I not messed everything up in the first place I wouldn't "need" to eat low carb.
I am also happy to admit that there is a lot of individual variation on this question. Some people might get what I like to call the "Superman benefits" of paleo by simply dropping below 200g and cutting out the neolithic agents of disease. Or maybe they can do it at 300g, or 125g. To get nice and cynical, I'm sure we all know that every blogger has his or her own particular experience with paleo and then generalizes accordingly.
But is it not true that most of us will see immediate and tangible benefits from just eating meat and vegetables? Am I off my rocker here? Is it not fair to say "most"? Am I just generalizing from my experience? Is it difficult for us to generalize accurately here because each of us is often the only person we know who has gone paleo? And reading about different people's experiences online is one thing but having friends around you describing their experiences is another?
In some cases bloggers go even further and claim things like "no study has shown any benefit from dropping carbohydrate from 150g to 50g." We can note the usual qualifications about studies, but more important is that in claims like these, the bloggers go beyond "everyone should do what makes them feel good" and drift towards "low carb is bunk."
So what do you think? Isn't it time that the pendulum swing back a little bit towards low carb? And please don't say "I'm tired of the debate about carbohydrate" or "eat real food; end of discussion." I think, or I hope, that I've shown I'm aware of these possible responses and am trying to look beyond them.
To sum it up, I'm speculating that white people do better on low carb diets, and it might take time to completely heal the gut and metabolism fully enough to "appreciate" the benefits of moderate carb (~100 grams) paleo.
There are no sources for this, but I love seeing anecdotal evidence of how different ethnicities do with different flavors of paleo. In the one in a billion chance that a Kitavan paleohacker wants to chime in, I'm all ears :)
There are just so many benefits to a ketogenic diet, that it seems like the obvious choice to me. For example, The Ketogenic Diet: Uses in Epilepsy and Other Neurologic Illnesses talks about the evidence that a ketogenic diet may help a variety of neurological and other diseases. The Neuroprotective Properties of Calorie Restriction, the Ketogenic Diet, and Ketone Bodies shows that the benefits of calorie restriction and ketogenic diets have common mechanisms. Much research has demonstrated the power of carbohydrate restriction to overcome heart disease markers, and reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Why would anyone pass up a diet that shows so much potential for preventing the diseases and other processes associated with ageing?
Carbohydrate tolerance may be an individual matter...
... but then there was this in the news last week. Cynthia Kenyon, a genetics professor at UCSF, has been able to make roundworms live up to 6 times longer by turning off a gene called "grim reaper" and turning on a gene called "sweet sixteen." The expression of both genes is linked to carbohydrates in the diet and insulin levels. Granted, she's working with roundworms, but similar genes have been found in higher animals, including humans.
I think it's telling that Professor Kenyon has cut way back on her own carbohydrate intake since her discoveries.
I think the carb issue inside the paleo sphere really differs between two groups: people that need/want to lose weight and then a group of athletes (or at least non-overweight people) who are not looking to lose weight but rather to improve performance, extend life, etc.
Those two groups will tweak the amount of carbs within the general paleo style of living i'd say. That simple.
For example, myself: Ive never been overweight. I started paleo when i was training brazilian jiu jitsu excessively. 5-6 times a week. In the beginning it was fine. Reading more i decided to lessen and lessen my carb intake just to see how i performed, etc. Eventually culminating in a three month no-plantmaterial diet. My performance suffered.
Did i feel terrible, look terrible, etc? No. Do i believe we need plants, and by extension any certain amount of carbs? No. However, athletically i have simply found that i perform better and longer with a higher amount of carbs (still not high, we're talking maybe 100-300 gram/day range only). Further, something in the diet has to give and if i raise the carbs a good bit something has to come down so my fatintake comes down to compensate. Low fat? No way. Just that i'd rather lessen fat intake than protein.
But for people who are maybe older (i am 31), overweight, diabetic, or just looking more towards weightloss as opposed to atheltic performance I would assume that lowercarb intake within the paleo lifestyle would be more prevalent.
Most diet movements don't have this dichotomy so it may strike a lot of us as weird here. Most are simply aimed at weightloss (which i think is why Atkins gets bashed a bit).
I've been listening to a lot of ROn Rosedals' stuff here.
I think he makes a lot of great points that we need to look deeper than simply the anthropological menus of early man. He thinks we need to study nature and evolution itself to determine the best diet. According to him the diet that most likely promotes longevity is a low carb, moderate protein (like no more than 50g a day) and high fat diet.
Take a listen - it's really interesting I think.
OK, here's a weird one for you. If I eat below 75g of carb or so:
I can't do fasted workouts, especially not early in the morning
I overeat. I actually find sweet
potatoes, carrots, etc to be filling
My digestion suffers. I don't do
well on tons of green veggies, which I WILL eat if I'm eating low carb.
What I want to know is when did 'low-carb' come to mean '50g or less' (ketosis)? Whether your diet defined as very low, low, moderate, or high in carbs has to do with the proportions of macronutrient calories you are eating as far as I am concerned (internet seems to agree). I eat about 150g of carbs most days, but considering I eat 3000+ calories per day mostly from fat, it's really not much carbohydrate compared to someone eating, say, 1700 calories per day and 150g carbs.
It should be a personal thing and everyone should experiment to see what best works for them. Overall, I didn't feel my best while in ketosis (it helped some issues a lot but hurt others). I tried it for 6 months, I simply feel better with higher carbohydrate intake. Plus it's helping me meet some goals. I am not in this for weight loss - I want to build mass and get stronger. I wasn't finding that easy in ketosis.
*I have decreased stamina (I can't work out fasted either way, fasting destroys me - I usually work out in the morning just on heavy cream though, and feel great).
*I get some reflux. Only ever had this on VLC, grains give me digestive issues too but different ones.
*Increased appetite, only satiated by more carbs. Can eat veg and protein until my stomach is distended, and still feel hungry until I get at least a couple bites of sugars.
*Weight gain is harder. I need muscle AND fat (and already too lean). Oddly muscle gain seems to be easier since adding more carbs, too. Could just be I feel better and am able to work out more.
Now, it is absolutely necessary for me to practice moderation in my carbohydrate intake. Not too much total, absolutely NOT TO MUCH AT ONE TIME, and less if I'm not burning some of it off with exercise! Thankfully on inactive days, I don't even tend to have a taste for carbs. If I break my rules, my blood sugar starts to go nutso (I am mildly hypoglycemic), my energy levels suffer, and depending on what I am cheating with I can start to feel sickly all over again. It's a delicate balance but I've found my sweet spot I think.
For me I need higher carbs to feel right, too low for too many days and I just don't feel quite right. One of the people I live with needs about the same, one less. We deal with it by eating more fruit and giving him more meat.
I think it is really a personal thing that is best played with, it is interesting that in our house it seems to break down along gender lines.
I think it's a personal thing. Go higher if you want to, but not too high. And I wouldn't say go vlc, for most people at least. The best thing about paleo is that it's flexible. Your diet can be completely different from someone elses interpretation, and still be healthy and paleo.
I do much better with lower carbs, although I have added back a few foods (veggies/fruits) I wouldn't touch a year ago, I still only have them once in a while and always as part of a meal with lots of fat and protein.
I'm still in loosing mode, and suspect I'll probably be able to increase carb intake for maintenance, but still will keep on the low side. Most of the fruits/veggies I like are lower carb and I get almost all my carbs from fruits/veggies.
Omnivores versus low carb paleo 13 Answers
Hack my paleo lc diet 3 Answers
Atkins and (low carb) Paleo 9 Answers