Yes, I know I am about to beat a dead horse and that you are probably frustrated about reading another VLC/LC versus Paleo, but here goes:
After reading every thread possible on VLC and opinions against VLC/LC and whether Paleo should even be associated with VLC/LC, I have come to the following conclusions:
I ABSOLUTELY needed VLC to lose even one ounce on Paleo. I tried "regular" Paleo and did not lose, while my husband lost body fat he didn't even know he had. My brother had the same experience as my husband, as well as my nephew.
All of the females in my family had to go VLC to lose any weight on Paleo. The single exception is my sister-in-law who is doing an Ironman this weekend.
I believe that VLC/LC has its place within the Paleo spectrum for weight loss, addressing diabetes, and other heath issues, that cannot be addressed with regular Paleo. While Paleo is a healthy way of eating, it does not solve all problems. Most of us are here for health reasons. For some, that means losing significant amounts of weight. Maybe those who are adamantly against VLC/LC Paleo are otherwise healthy and do not completely understand the other side.
Now that I am satisfied with my weight (though I could stand to gain some muscle) I am interested in what the best ratio is between fat, protein, and carbs, in order to maintain optimal health. I do not want to get stomach cancer or hypothyroid, or do any other damage by staying on VLC for too long. On the other hand, I do not want to gain significant amounts of weight, or damage my health by having too many carbs. I know this is a highly individual thing, but I would like to know, IYHO, what is the best ratio for optimal health?
Oh girl you are singing my song! It's an adjustment for sure. What I would suggest is doing an Atkins style ramp up adding 5-10g/day each week and watching the scale and noting how you feel. For me I can maintain at around 75g but more than that and I will start to gain. Still, that's a smorgasbord of carbs when you've eaten LC/VLC for a while. I also have to watch calories. I know that's blasphemy around here but it's just how it has to be for me. You may notice that your calories come down naturally as your carbs go up. It seems I tend to cut back on fat and protein when I'm doing my 75g carbs. It just kind of happens. And remember if you gain a couple you can go back to your VLC for a few days and it will go away. The key is not to let it get out of hand. You really have to stay on top of it for a while and then it will become like second nature for you. You're gonna do great!
I have to disagree that LC wouldn't be needed but for a lifetime of SAD eating. I think genetics plays a HUGE role in it. I ate exactly the same as my brother and sister and neither of them were overweight. We actually ate a very healthy albeit conventional diet. But NO crap at all. I don't think the diet during my formative years is to blame for me getting to over 300 lbs. I really don't. I come from a long line of morbidly obese women on my mother's side. It's not all diet. That just can't explain everything to my mind.
I think VLC/LC might not ever be necessary to any human so long as all things, from pre-birth to birth to growing years to adulthood, were executed as they should be with respect to health.
You allude to this in your question with the noted differences in approach when trying to lose weight versus maintaining once "healthy".
The problem that many people face is that they have jacked up their metabolism so badly with SAD or some other silly way of eating in modern day that just to get to ground zero can be a confusing and frustrating process, and some never make it all the way to their desired goal.
I believe that VLC/LC can work wonders for people who need to lose weight and/or correct some other ailments/conditions as a result of poor diet. I'm not 100% certain that the VLC [per se] is what causes weight loss. It probably highly contributes, but also I think when the average eater goes VLC or LC, that means they must, by default, cut out all kinds of crap, like cakes, pizza, breads, crackers, chips, tortillas, sweets, sugary drinks, etc etc.
I think everyone can use a different ratio and tweek it as they see fit, but I currently do about 50F/30C/20P with most fat as saturated and some mono, most carbs as starch and some berries and protein from meats, eggs and dairy. But I'm kinda right in the middle of tweeking to figure out what works best for me personally because I have some question marks with my methods thus far that I need to get figured out.
In order to maintain optimal health I would suggest the Optimal Diet guidelines (discussed over at Hyperlipid unsystematically, in various places. The idea is to: eat sufficient protein (i.e. just enough protein to meet your needs for repair, none in excess), enough carbs to fuel the few areas of the brain that can't run on ketones (which is about half the amount of protein you need) and all the rest from fat.
The rationale for limiting protein to that amount is pretty obvious: meets your needs without the metabolic stress of breaking it down in the liver for glucose and unduly stimulating IGF-1, MTOR etc, which are linked to cancer. The idea of the minimal carbs is to avoid the stress of having to generate the few necessary carbs from protein (ingested or your muscle tissue) and reduce cortisol, with the presumption that getting most of your energy needs from fat is preferable to using glucose (for well rehearsed, contested LC reasons). This ratio is supposed to leave you on the edge of ketosis, if I recall correctly, Jan Kwasniewski doesn't think that long term ketosis (or the heightened cortisol that accompanies it) is a good thing.
Just like you said it is highly individualized, there is no one macronutrient ratio that you can prescribe for the majority of people. There probably isn't even an ideal macro-nutrient ratio period tbh, individual needs change day to day and maybe some days you need more fat, carbs or protien versus other days.
A good guideline is to eat as many carbs and protien as you need for brain function/activity level and fill the rest of your calories with fat. This should yield good results for just about anyone imo.
For those of us with messed up metabolisms who need to lose weight I think low carb is absolutely essential to regaining our health and losing weight. Paleo man would have naturally cycled between periods of low and high carb intake and it's our chronically high intake of high glycemic carbs that has gotten us into this mess. Eating low carb is what reverses it. I do think that people who have not reached this point can probably just take out the grains, eat lots of carbs and be fine. If you're insulin resistant, like so many of us are, I do believe you need to go low carb though.
I like protein three meals a day. With each meal having a vegetable. However this only works for me longterm if I can add in some fat such as butter to each meal. In that case I do much better than if I go without the butter. I am alergic to coconut or I would do that instead...