I don’t think I’m allowed to post comments on Mark Sisson’s site. I was banned a couple years ago. But I was checking out his most recent post and tried to post this comment on the topic of increased sensitivity to alcohol and caffeine on a low-carb Paleo diet, which I don’t think showed up. My response was…
“Alcohol and caffeine cause sugar levels to crash on a cellular level. They are perhaps the most potent triggers of these crashes, which you can test by monitoring your urine with an agricultural tool called a refractometer. A reading below 1.5 denotes a crash. Below 0.5 is considered very severe.
The fewer carbs you eat, the more prone you are to these crashes – for one because you are not offsetting the effects by consuming carbs with them (always consume coffee with lots of sugar if you have this problem – and have a candy bar or some cookies if drinking gives you this problem).
And I suspect another reason is diminishing glycogen storage capacity, which is to be expected when you are relying on glycogen less and less to fuel your body. The storage depot diminishes. Eating a higher carbohydrate diet, especially if the calories are high, increases glycogen storage and prevents the severity of the sugar crash when encountering a trigger such as alcohol, sugary foods, or foods with a high glycemic index.
That explains a worsening response to alcohol, but as far as getting drunk off of fewer drinks and being sensitive in that regard, a low-carbohydrate, whole foods diet is likely to trigger that because it is not very stimulating to dopamine and serotonin, which causes receptor sites to become more sensitized to anything that causes a surge in levels of these neurotransmitters – something alcohol does.”
GREAT THOUGHTS FROM 180 FOLLOWER: “JIB”
“My guess is that breaking down and detoxifying the ethanol you’re imbibing is hard work for a liver that’s already tasked with the creation of glucose from amino acids in a low dietary glucose state (gluconeogenesis).
We know that alcohol consumption inhibits gluconeogenesis by decreasing the availability of the “intrahepatic gluconeogenic precursors” by 61%. If alcohol detox and gluconeogenesis are competing for the same raw materials along similar pathways, and if the effects of alcohol increase with inefficient detoxification, it follows that someone drinking alcohol in a gluconeogenic state may be more sensitive to its effects.”
From the Brixman website, with a quote from Carey Reams:
“I know some people feel better on the high protein diet. However, the high protein diet only provides temporary relief but is not a cure.
The short-term relief occurs because the diet eliminates many carbohydrates to which the patient was hypersensitive. However, by itself, the high protein diet does nothing to correct the malfunctioning of the liver and pancreas.
Moreover, over the long-term, the diet can actually worsen the problem. This is because large quantities of hydrochloric acid are needed to digest all the protein. The liver begins to wear down trying to meet the demand. As we’ve seen, it is this liver malfunction that originally causes hypoglycemia.
Finally, on the high protein diet, urea builds up due to poor protein digestion. This leads, as we saw last time, to explosive tension and heart attacks. Ironically, some hypoglycemic die from heart attacks brought on by the high protein diet, the commonly accepted cure.”
Hopefully tools like the refractometer will be accepted as valid at some point in the future and people will be able to recognize that it does have actual scientific value in evaluating human health.
Urine urea nitrogen tests are already accepted. The refractometer simply provides another piece of valuable information, as is the case with the pH, conductivity and cell debris numbers.
Anyway, to simplify things, what would we expect from a very high-protein diet?
I’d say exactly what it said on MDA:
“My guess is that breaking down and detoxifying the ethanol you’re imbibing is hard work for a liver that’s already tasked with the creation of glucose from amino acids in a low dietary glucose state (gluconeogenesis).”
I would say it might be worth considering a slight re-wording: “a liver that’s already OVER-tasked with the creation of glucose from amino acids in a low dietary glucose state.”
What I got from that comment was that, basically, your liver has to work harder on a low-carbohydrate diet, and because of that, alcohol’s going to have a greater effect on you because you’re going to have a harder time de-toxifying it. Women have less of a tolerance for alcohol, they say, because of some enzymatic thing?
The specifics there are irrelevant — the point would be, with women, that they have a more difficult time getting the alcohol de-toxified and out of their system. The increase in alcohol sensitivity from a low-carbohydrate diet would make sense to me under the theory of low-carbohydrate dieting creating a greater burden for the liver, and so it has less resources available to deal with other things outside the standard dietary fare — like alcohol. And probably all other toxins, for that matter.
If you’re less efficient at processing and clearing out wastes/toxins from your body, how can that be beneficial? At the very least, people that promote low-carbohydrate diets should be willing to consider these questions. Maybe if someone shared studies about tribal populations and rainwater consumption there could be an acknowledgement of the value of distilled water. Of course, it’d require an acknowledgement of low-carb teachers that high protein intake can lead to greater build-up of toxic metabolic byproducts.
The biggest problem I see is that teachers of low-carb might be afraid that the theory is flawed, and then saving face becomes more important than protecting the health of their followers. Though I think the majority of people, if not all of them, promoting low-carb, really believe that it’s the best system out there. I can’t blame them. I’m very into RBTI now, but I have to be careful to keep my mind open and not fall into the trap of signing up to one belief system at the expense of ignoring everything else.
So with that said…the ‘solution’ here is to explore these issues more deeply. It’s unfortunate you’re not allowed to post there, and I’m guessing anyone who promotes alternative viewpoints there or goes against the grain too much will be blocked.
But people’s health is what matters most. I know I’m preaching to the choir here. :p
It is concerning, though. I trashed myself doing low-carb paired with high intensity exercise and fasting on a regular basis. But when I started I felt absolutely wonderful.
I wonder if people who are doing it more moderately than I did are doing damage to themselves without being aware of it, because
1) it’s so gradual
2) the damage might be hidden by low-carb dieting
When I started trying RRARF I felt AWFUL. Maybe your ability to handle carbohydrates is the true test of carbohydrate metabolism, which itself depends on proper functioning of the liver/pancreas/entire body as a whole. “Carbs drive insulin drives fat” is a little too simple. Maybe “Malfunctioning body drives malfunctioning health”. The problem is not insulin but a malfunctioning of the organs that are responsible for proper metabolism, which ultimately would end up representing the body as a whole.
So I didn’t even realize how messed up I was until I started eating carbohydrates in quantity again, and also NOT fasting and NOT over-exercising. These things can all produce temporary highs and make you feel awesome, as you’ve pointed out on this blog countless times with countless examples….
…much like chocolate. I was eating lots of unsweetened chocolate during my low-carb stint too. I’m sure that didn’t help. But that’s just one more example of something that can make you feel fantastic when really it’s messing you up. I’ve never done drugs but I’ve heard that there is absolutely no way to describe how good cocaine makes you feel. I don’t question that but I think the dangers it presents to the human body speaks for the point I’m making here.
So it just concerns me because I think a lot of people won’t know how much they’re damaging themselves because they won’t be eating carbohydrates. You can feel better because your body’s not being thrown off by getting overwhelmed with a benign substance that, if it were healthy, it should be able to process. But if you went to low-carb as a result of a malfunctioning of that process to begin with, you could just be exaggerating a deficiency that was already there, and it could be getting worse while you’re feeling better.