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Does it matter how many carbs come from refined sources on low carb diet?

by (49)
Updated about 4 hours ago
Created August 11, 2012 at 10:32 PM

I eat 1800 calories a day, and sometimes when I feel like having a treat day, I eat a tub of ice cream for dinner. I am always within 1800 calories, and so I am eating less than 150g carbs, but about 120g of this is from sugar.

Besides the nutritional disadvantage, would this promote weight gain because of the sugar?

ETA: (additional info from OP's answer below):

I'm recovering from anorexia (88lb, 5'5"), and so am only temporarily on 1800 until I move up to higher numbers. The ice cream was just an idea from my nutritionist because my stomach is still quite small and I can't handle meals yet without feeling really uncomfortable.

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1173 · August 13, 2012 at 5:52 AM

I would consider less than 100 grams a day to be low carb...75 grams is a good goal. Here's a good read...Life Without Bread, by Christian B. Allan and Wolfgang Lutz: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Without-Bread-Low-Carbohydrate-Diet/dp/0658001701/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344836874&sr=8-1&keywords=life+without+bread

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18635 · August 12, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Yeah, but weight watchers is lower-carb than "general SAD" too.

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4413 · August 12, 2012 at 8:47 PM

Madeline I hope part of your recovery will be refraining from reading books about nutrition or diets.... Just the title of his book Why We Get Fat.... concerns me, for you. Just thinking its might be best to not read any book at all, like that. Read a nice novel ;) All the best to you in your recovery.

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2028 · August 12, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Dragonfly, I wasn't saying she's wrong for eating ice cream. I was trying to answer her question by offering alternatives that could work for her (high in fat and calories without making her eat too much, portion-wise). She brought up the nutritional disadvantages of ice cream, and I was trying to address that by saying there are other options. I'm sorry if I came across as critical of her eating ice cream.

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10490 · August 12, 2012 at 3:49 PM

That's a very important part. Unless otherwise stated, our advice here on PH is for the average, mostly-healthy person. If you have specific issues to consider, that advice may not be relevant. If you need to just get some calories in you, then ice cream might be the way to go for a bit! I agree about choosing the best quality ice cream available, though.

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32518 · August 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

barefeet- Seriously? Ice cream is the least of her worries. Madeleine--Eat food that feels good for YOU! http://www.threetwinsicecream.com

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32518 · August 12, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Actually, Haagen-Daz still uses milk from cows that have been given growth hormone. I would avoid. My fave brand is Three Twins organic.

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2028 · August 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Madeline, blueballoon has good advice about choosing the best quality ice cream. An easily found one is Haagen-Dazs vanilla - they have just the ingredients blueballoon lists.

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997 · August 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

blueballoon, I gave it (another +1) to Dragonfly because sometimes even the so-called "safe starches" are more problematic than a sucrose treat every so often, e.g. the KickAS diet ( http://www.kickas.org/asfood.shtml )

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4347 · August 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Madeline--As per your post below, I think whatever you can eat and feels good to eat right now is probably okay. I do recommend, though, that you not worry about restricting anything and just be kind to your body. Recovery is such a difficult thing. If your stomach can handle ice cream for calories, I wouldn't worry about eating it right now. PLEASE do not worry about carbs. Gary Taubes isn't writing for people recovering from anorexia. Work on carb quality (sweet potatoes v. sugar) later when your stomach feels better. {Hugs.}

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4347 · August 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I think the OP's comment below about recovering from an ED makes your comment especially helpful. Her stomach can't handle large quantities of other foods (carbs or otherwise), etc., right now. I'd give you another +1 if I could.

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4347 · August 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I think your explanation gives a lot more background for answer. You're RECOVERING. If that's the only way you can get calories right now without being really uncomfortable, I say do it until you can add in other foods. I would recommend, though, that you try to get ice cream with the least number of ingredients (no funny stuff)--milk, cream, eggs, sugar. Be kind to your body! Do you like coffee? Coffee and lots of cream or coconut milk are delicious together as well, and aren't especially bulky as food.

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49 · August 12, 2012 at 11:32 AM

No, I mean I'm actually really stuck about this :/ a couple of weeks ago I discovered Gary Taubes and he has basically made me terrified of carbohydrates. I have a nutritionist who is helping me to recover from anorexia. She said it was okay to have the ice cream because at the moment I need easily accessible calories. I guess I thought by going low carb on the other days in the week when I don't treat myself, if be balancing out the scary sugar.

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2028 · August 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM

One question, Madeline - is there a reason you need to go low carb?

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2028 · August 12, 2012 at 10:54 AM

This explanation helps. However, there are other high-fat options that are also sugar-free. Coconut milk, for instance. Putting plenty of this pesto on anything (vegetables, meatballs, whatever) will add a good chunk of calories as well - http://everydaypaleo.com/2012/06/29/sun-dried-tomato-meatballs-with-creamy-pesto/. Bottom line is, ice cream for the calories alone is't necessary.

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658 · August 12, 2012 at 4:14 AM

I second what Wowza said and will add that if you open the capsule of glutamine and let the powder dissolve in your mouth, under your tongue it will work quicker (and it tastes good!). Ix-nay on the ugar shay, girl. Sugar isn't just a carb, it is a road to diabetes. THAT is the effect on your body. Read "The Diet Cure" by Julia Ross for more help in breaking sugar addiction.

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4413 · August 12, 2012 at 1:11 AM

What a nice answer!

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1528 · August 12, 2012 at 12:31 AM

Tough love moment: No one here is going to support your sugar addiction, Madeline. Stop eating sugar, and stop rationalizing that your tub of ice cream is "less than 150g carbs." You can break your sugar addiction! When you feel a craving coming on, try take 1-2g glutamine with a tall glass of water. Cravings will stop within 15 minutes.

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5201 · August 12, 2012 at 12:23 AM

A tub of ice cream, I'll guess, is about 1000 calories. That leaves 800 calories for what?

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10490 · August 11, 2012 at 11:24 PM

It's definitely lower-carb than the general SAD.

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14877 · August 11, 2012 at 11:22 PM

It is low carb, Madeline. It is not VLC, but is still LC

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10490 · August 11, 2012 at 11:21 PM

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-continuum/ I'd say up to 100g carbs per day is about the max for "low-carb."

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49 · August 11, 2012 at 11:15 PM

What would you consider low carb?

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49 · August 11, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Sorry if this sounds stupid, but what will the effects on body composition be?

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10490 · August 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM

This is one of those, "if you have to ask..." sort of questions.

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14877 · August 11, 2012 at 10:44 PM

It is not healthy. You will not improve your body composition eating a tub of ice cream. This is a recipe for "skinny fat."

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14877 · August 11, 2012 at 10:43 PM

It's not healthy. You will not improve your body composition by doing this.

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9 Answers

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
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32518 · August 12, 2012 at 1:06 AM

Truly, the only way to find out about the effects on your body composition is trial & error. There is no "one-size-fits-all, no matter what the other posters may tell you.

Because I deal with FODMAPS-intolerance, sucrose makes up a lot of my carbs on a daily basis. Though I generally, don't go over 100 gm a day, everyone is different metabolically. If I were 20 again, I would have no problem with a tub of ice cream. At 49, it doesn't work for me to eat more than a spoon or two (plus I need Lact-aid, due to my lactose-intolerance!)

Anyway, If you can eat ice cream as a treat every so often and it causes no binging or unwanted weight gain/bloating, then enjoy it!

You may want to seek out organic ice cream that is antibiotic & hormone-free. Full-fat "clean" dairy is great for fertility.

Edit: Madeleine, after seeing your additional info, I would encourage you to eat whatever whole food turns you on. Carbs are not the villain for most people that Gary Taubes makes them out to be. Good quality ice cream makes perfect sense in your context!

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997 · August 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

blueballoon, I gave it (another +1) to Dragonfly because sometimes even the so-called "safe starches" are more problematic than a sucrose treat every so often, e.g. the KickAS diet ( http://www.kickas.org/asfood.shtml )

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4347 · August 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I think the OP's comment below about recovering from an ED makes your comment especially helpful. Her stomach can't handle large quantities of other foods (carbs or otherwise), etc., right now. I'd give you another +1 if I could.

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4413 · August 12, 2012 at 1:11 AM

What a nice answer!

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4703 · August 11, 2012 at 11:45 PM

I'm not saying what you're doing is healthy, but Ray Peat does eat a quart of ice cream a day, so you might want to read up on raypeat.com or dannyroddy.com to find out how and why that works for him/them. Although there is a heavy bias against sugar in some circles, both Peat and Roddy favor it as a nutritional tool in certain circumstances to deal with what they would call disorders of energy metabolism. In contrast to the other answers, they both improved their body composition on high sugar diets, so if that is your interest you might find answers more to your liking on their sites.

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1173 · August 11, 2012 at 10:58 PM

150 grams of carbs isn't exactly "low carb"...and if you get 120 grams of carbs from sugar (half fructose) that is going to have negative health consequences.

If this is a "treat day", that you do occasionally, it probably won't promote weight gain.

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1173 · August 13, 2012 at 5:52 AM

I would consider less than 100 grams a day to be low carb...75 grams is a good goal. Here's a good read...Life Without Bread, by Christian B. Allan and Wolfgang Lutz: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Without-Bread-Low-Carbohydrate-Diet/dp/0658001701/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344836874&sr=8-1&keywords=life+without+bread

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18635 · August 12, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Yeah, but weight watchers is lower-carb than "general SAD" too.

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10490 · August 11, 2012 at 11:24 PM

It's definitely lower-carb than the general SAD.

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14877 · August 11, 2012 at 11:22 PM

It is low carb, Madeline. It is not VLC, but is still LC

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10490 · August 11, 2012 at 11:21 PM

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-continuum/ I'd say up to 100g carbs per day is about the max for "low-carb."

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49 · August 11, 2012 at 11:15 PM

What would you consider low carb?

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49 · August 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I'm recovering from anorexia (88lb, 5'5"), and so am only temporarily on 1800 until I move up to higher numbers. The ice cream was just an idea from my nutritionist because my stomach is still quite small and I can't handle meals yet without feeling really uncomfortable.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79
2028 · August 12, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Dragonfly, I wasn't saying she's wrong for eating ice cream. I was trying to answer her question by offering alternatives that could work for her (high in fat and calories without making her eat too much, portion-wise). She brought up the nutritional disadvantages of ice cream, and I was trying to address that by saying there are other options. I'm sorry if I came across as critical of her eating ice cream.

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10490 · August 12, 2012 at 3:49 PM

That's a very important part. Unless otherwise stated, our advice here on PH is for the average, mostly-healthy person. If you have specific issues to consider, that advice may not be relevant. If you need to just get some calories in you, then ice cream might be the way to go for a bit! I agree about choosing the best quality ice cream available, though.

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32518 · August 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

barefeet- Seriously? Ice cream is the least of her worries. Madeleine--Eat food that feels good for YOU! http://www.threetwinsicecream.com

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · August 12, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Actually, Haagen-Daz still uses milk from cows that have been given growth hormone. I would avoid. My fave brand is Three Twins organic.

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2028 · August 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Madeline, blueballoon has good advice about choosing the best quality ice cream. An easily found one is Haagen-Dazs vanilla - they have just the ingredients blueballoon lists.

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4347 · August 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I think your explanation gives a lot more background for answer. You're RECOVERING. If that's the only way you can get calories right now without being really uncomfortable, I say do it until you can add in other foods. I would recommend, though, that you try to get ice cream with the least number of ingredients (no funny stuff)--milk, cream, eggs, sugar. Be kind to your body! Do you like coffee? Coffee and lots of cream or coconut milk are delicious together as well, and aren't especially bulky as food.

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2028 · August 12, 2012 at 10:54 AM

This explanation helps. However, there are other high-fat options that are also sugar-free. Coconut milk, for instance. Putting plenty of this pesto on anything (vegetables, meatballs, whatever) will add a good chunk of calories as well - http://everydaypaleo.com/2012/06/29/sun-dried-tomato-meatballs-with-creamy-pesto/. Bottom line is, ice cream for the calories alone is't necessary.

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4266 · August 12, 2012 at 12:40 AM

If you are restricting calories in order to have free reign to waste your calorie allotment on junk food, you aren't promoting your own health. I think you know this.

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5775 · August 11, 2012 at 11:35 PM

You can't answer a "does it matter" question without knowing someone's goals.

RESTRICTING to 1800 calories a day AND including things like "tubs of ice cream" is going to wreak havoc.

If anything, someone who is restricting calories should be eating the highest quality food possible.

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5201 · August 12, 2012 at 12:23 AM

A tub of ice cream, I'll guess, is about 1000 calories. That leaves 800 calories for what?

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20908 · August 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM

Does it even sound remotely healthy to eat a tub of ice cream? The carbs in ice cream are sucrose, that means 50% glucose (promotes insulin release) and 50% fructose (promotes insulin resistance). You'll be spiking blood sugar, secreting tons of insulin, and storing a bunch of fat - most like around your middle.

If you do this once a month, not a big deal. If you're doing it weekly, then you've got a problem.

If you care about your health and body composition you won't be looking for reasons or excuses to eat a tub of ice cream.

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14877 · August 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Hey, Madeline. I just read your edit, so instead of a snarky comment, I'll provide an answer. I used to have the same problem, and what helped me was sneaking in low volume, easily digested, and calorie dense foods into my meals throughout the day. I woudld often sip tea with a big spoon of honey (sometimes sugar) before or after meals. I also temporarily avoided eating so called "healthy" things like salads and steamed broccoli. Most of my meals consisted of half of a small plate of beef or fish and the other half with fruit, root vegetables, or rice. My breakfast and lunch were usually meat with fruit, and my last meal was usually fish with a bowl of rice or root vegetables (all kinds, even pototoes) . In between meals I got extra calories with the tea with honey/sugar.

This ends up being a lot more sugar than a typical paleo diet calls for, but when you're coming from a state of anorexia, your body absorbs and puts to use calories at an astonishingly efficient pace. You can think of every meal for during the first 3-9 months of recovery is equivalent to post workout meal- your body is primed to utilize the nutrition in the most efficient means possible.

Personally I'd stay away from the ice cream as an everyday choice, and try to make whole fruits (with a high glucose/fructose ratio- most fruits besides apples and bananas) the major source of sugar (honey digests well too, despite its low g/f ratio). I'd save the ice cream for a treat on weekends or something, or just do a small dish in the evening before bed.

Hope that gives you some ideas.

I would not listen to the likes of Mark Sisson and Gary Taubes, as these two people's practices and beliefs when it comes to carbohydrate consumption are only possibly (and I stress possibly) beneficial to individuals at the opposite end of the spectrum as yourself- obese, sedentary, insulin resistant, metabolically derranged. Carbs did not make these people fat- they didn't get fat off of root vegetables, rice and fruits- they got fat from overeating on pastries, cookies, chips, pizza, beer, etc. People like to lump these things is as carbs, and then blame the government for pushing low fat diets because it's easier to lay the responsibility elsewhere. In reality is these are processed foods with the predominant number of calories coming from fat.

Eat a well balanced, predominantely whole foods diet and get some exercise in daily and you will be healthy.

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0 · August 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Think this answers it (re-asssuring for fruit lovers on paleo): http://www.simplyshredded.com/the-science-of-nutrition-is-a-carb-a-carb.html

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