Is a Low-Carb Diet Counterproductive?

Share on Facebook1Tweet about this on Twitter1Share on Google+0

I was asked to shed some light this morning on why I think low-carb diets are counterproductive for healing the metabolism.   Thought I would share an elaborated version of my response…

Several things make me very leery of going low-carb, or at least make me feel that it is counterproductive:

1) Several authors, such as Diana Schwarzbein and Barry Sears talk about cortisol being raised on a low-carb diet as if it were common biochemistry knowledge. Knowing what I know about cortisol, a low-carb diet seems very undesirable. Diana Schwarzbein repeats the mantra that “going too low in carbohydrates raises cortisol and adrenaline” time and time again throughout her work. Keep in mind she observed this by tracking her patients’ hormone levels as a practicing endocrinologist. Barry Sears emphatically states:

“…the longer you stay in ketosis, the more your fat cells adapt so that they are transformed into ‘fat magnets,’ becoming 10 times more active in accumulating fat…A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet drives insulin levels too low, thereby causing hypotension, fatigue, irritability, lack of mental clarity, loss of muscle mass, increased hunger, and rapid fat regain when carbohydrates are reintroduced into the diet. Not exactly a prescription for anti-aging. This coupled with the increase in cardiovascular mortality because insulin levels are too low, simply reinforces the need to maintain insulin within a zone: not too high, not too low.”

This is probably due to cortisol, particularly the “fat magnet” claim. Although not everyone experiences these things on a low-carb diet, I experienced almost all of them, and know many others who have as well. The longer I went low-carb, the worse those symptoms got.

2) My own personal health eventually deteriorated on a low-carb diet. My pet allergies and asthma increased, I had digestive problems – both heartburn and mild constipation, became very grouchy, and developed foul body and breath odor, and even eventually started to have tooth pain (although on zero carb I did not). Add sleep problems and the re-appearance of gas and slight acne to the list too. I had none of these experiences in the beginning stages. Quite the contrary actually. Everything seemed to improve and I had thought, like many do, that I had found the Holy Grail of health. Note: I was the perfect low-carber too. All my dairy products and meats were grassfed/pastured and local. My dairy was unpasteurized. All my produce was organic – most from farmer’s markets.

3) Even Dr. Atkins states in Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution that the Atkins diet, long-term, has “the tendency to shut down thyroid function.” He states that on page 303:

“…remember that prolonged dieting [including ‘this one’] tends to shut down thyroid function. This is usually not a problem with the thyroid gland but with the liver, which fails to convert T4 into the more active thyroid principle, T3. The diagnosis is made on clinical grounds with the presence of fatigue, sluggishness, dry skin, coarse or falling hair, an elevation in cholesterol, or a low body temperature.”

4) The mere presence of ketone bodies from going low in carbohdyrates is known to intensify insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the whole reason people go on low-carb diets in the first place, and is the root problem – worsened by a low-carb diet.

5) The most major metabolic and digestive problems that people have come to me seeking help for were caused by going too low in carbohdyrates for a long period of time. One kid had ruined his digestion and metabolism so severely that he developed hypogonadism, was suicidal, and couldn’t manage to choke down more than 1,500 calories per day without severe bloating. This was a formerly-healthy young man in his 20’s that did this to himself by being totally dedicated to good health. His diet consisted of mostly raw dairy products, raw grassfed beef, and sauerkraut – a combination of following ideas derived from Wolfgang Lutz, Aajonus Vonderplanitz, and the Weston A. Price Foundation. Only a fruitarian diet seems to be capable of matching this level of degeneration.

6) Broda Barnes stated:

“…it has been clearly established that a high protein diet lowers the metabolic rate, [therefore] symptoms of hypothyroidism will be aggravated… Hypoglycemia may be controlled on the high protein diet, but the other symptoms of thyroid deficiency which usually accompany hypoglycemia are aggravated.”


“…when the diet was changed so that it was low in fat but high in protein and with enough carbohydrate to prevent diarrhea, symptoms of hypothyroidism appeared. Cholesterol level in the blood became elevated and in order to keep it within normal range, four additional grains of thyroid daily were needed. Apparently, a diet high in protein requires additional thyroid for its metabolism.”

7) Given the ongoing topic of omega 6 overload on the cellular level, a high fat/low-carb diet is almost always higher in total omega 6 polyunsaturated fat as well – even if vegetable oils are excluded. This may be very significant, it may not be the end of the world. The issue needs further exploration. A low-carb diet will typically have twice the amount of omega 6 as a typical, low vegetable-oil diet with more calories coming from carbohydrate. My estimates, using ESHA software, of my low-carb diet included at least 15 grams of omega 6 per day. My diet over the past several days has had an average of just 3 grams of omega 6 per day. Significant? Who knows, but it’s thought-provoking.

This is just a short list of reasons. But you get the idea. It’s not that a low-carb or even zero-carb diet can’t be a healthy diet. Eskimos proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. The question is, given that the world seems to be in metabolic decline, with widespread insulin resistance, low body temperature, and more… is a low-carb diet the most effective strategy at fixing the core problem, or might it actually be counterproductive?

You can read much a much deeper critique of low-carbohydrate diets in the book 12 Paleo Myths, as well as two others included in the 180 Platinum Collection.


  1. I really believe in a strong mind/body connection. Perhaps Eskimos do well on a very low carb diet simply because carb rich foods are not available to them. They don't know about them so their bodies don't want or need them and adjust to not having them. When you are surrounded by everything though your body wants you to eat everything.

    Matt, have you read John Gabriel's The Gabriel Method? He used to be very heavy, but made some dietary changes and used visualization to lose weight. Says someone is fat because their bodies feel safe being fat and if you tell your mind you are safe being thin then you will become thin.

    Anyways, I was also thinking of something else. I don't know much about the milk diet, but have seen people writing about it here. Could it be that milk contains the perfect macronutrient ratios? 43-28-29

  2. Very interesting, Matt. I think I might want to up my carbs a little. Grains & baked goods don't really agree with me, and I don't like potatoes. I already eat about as many carrots & onions as I can stand. What do you think about eating corn? It is a seed. Any special prep you would recommend?


  3. Lacey,

    If you have access to a Trader Joe's, they sell corn tortillas made out of fresh ground corn, lime and water. They are the only fresh ground corn product I have seen. Very delicious and healthy. Remember that many of the peoples WAP observed in South America were very healthy while eating large amounts of corn, beans and potatoes.


  4. I prefer to eat lots of fresh or frozen corn, but I do love me some cornmeal-based dishes as well. You may prefer some rice in your diet as well if you don't like glutinous grains or potatoes. There are other root vegetables too, like parsnips and celeriac that are quite starchy and very tasty.

    It appears that the Eskimos were very well-adapted to a zero carb diet. I'm sure some modern humans could adapt very well too. They basically were breaking protein down into glucose, as they were not in ketosis. This is more in line with how a feline or canine breaks protein down for energy.

    There is no doubt that a shift in thinking can be powerful. There is even a belief that your body does accumulate a lot of fat specifically to protect us from inflammatory fatty acids and toxins. So it may even be a protective measure that the bodyies of overweight people employ.

    I think the best mindset is to trust and be thankful for what your body has done to deal with outside influences. It almost always does the best job possible with the tools it is given. Hence the original name of this blog and the name of my email address… "Sacred Self."

    • The right word is inuit. eskimo was an insult, like n**er to an afro american person.

      Also they weren´t on a real zero carb diet.

      Because they ate the animal raw and everything, including all organs and the contents of the digestive tract(one dish was grass salad out of a caribous stomach content) they got a minimal ammount of carbs.

      Also raw flesh and organ matter contains carbs, our body produces carbs and stores them in the liver(glycogen) for energy release, the blood contains carbs too..there is never a real(whole foods) no carb diet, except you use modern equipment.

  5. I'm skeptical that Eskimos ate a zero carb diet. They ate a lot of frozen meat. Fresh meat that is frozen quickly will preserve muscle glycogen. Frozen organ meat, especially liver, will retain a high amount of glycogen. It's all just speculation, but it would have been interesting to see the nutrient analysis of their diet taken in the field, since meat continues to break down glycogen after the animals death unless cellular action is suspended by freezing.
    It's possible that they averaged 50 or more grams of glucose per day from glycogen.


  6. Corn is actually a grain.
    Maybe it is gluten that is hard for you to digest so try some gluten free grains.
    There is quinoa, which actually a seed. There are many different varieties of rice, and they all taste quite different. You might also want to try whole grains like wheat berries, spelt, and barley, but soak them overnight in water and lemon juice to see if that helps you digest them better.

    I just got a pack of mission corn tortillas last night, didn't realize until today how much preservatives they have in them. I do not have a Trader Joes here. I am in Memphis, but lived in Seattle 1 year before coming here and I loved Trader Joes, it was a lot of fun. We are moving again in two months, but not sure where to yet. I really hope we move somewhere where local/organic foods, raw milk, and other goodies are easy to come by. They are not here.

  7. Thanks for this summary. :-)
    You get the credit/blame for my dropping of the LC diet. The blog post on the Kitavans and the reference to T.L.Cleave changed my mind for good. Thanks for this.

  8. Interesting idea Scott. I've heard that before too but don't know what to think about it.


    Cleave, McCarrison, the Kitavans, the Mexican Pima, Burkitt, and a dozen of the native groups studied by Weston A. Price makes the carbohydrate theory of degenerative disease look pretty wank. That and, you know, most of Asia.

  9. Thank you Matt, this came exactly at the right time and is very reassuring for me, especially because A LOT of the symptoms applied fit me:
    "hypotension, fatigue, irritability, lack of mental clarity, loss of muscle mass, increased hunger, and rapid fat regain when carbohydrates are reintroduced into the diet"

    Yup, all fits me. Even the fat regain. I don't think that I ever had that much bodyfat in the last 7 years or so. I'm still pretty thin though and probably still look more under- than overweight. However my abs are starting to get less visible :'-(, which is a shame, but in the end my very own fault and as long as I'm healing I really couldn't care less.

    "The diagnosis is made on clinical grounds with the presence of fatigue, sluggishness, dry skin, coarse or falling hair, an elevation in cholesterol, or a low body temperature.”"
    Once again, every single symptom fits me. The hair loss is really starting to bug me. Might even have increased a bit after taking iodine which could be a sign of bromide detox. I know there probably are no short term solutions, but does anyone know some treatment that could stop/reverse the hair loss. It will probably come back on its own sooner or later, but as I said, it is really bugging me, as I think it is becoming more and more visible.

    Oh and about the Eskimos. I think one very important aspect why they did not develop thyroid disorders despite having a diet consisting almost exclusivel of fat and protein is the fact that they mainly ate fish.
    This would 1)give them a heavy dose of iodine 2)and they probably ate the fish glands as well (did they?) and as everyone who takes dessicated thyroid probably knows, eating animal thyroids to help one's own thyroid seems to work wonders.
    The thing Swede said might of course applay as well.

  10. Can the body digest glycogen though?If your correct then carnivores are not eating low carb diets since they eat the animal right after the kill and before rigor mortis sets in….what happens to the glycogen.

    Atkins says "diets" including mine lower thyroid.I take this more as low calorie than just low carb doing that.

    Sears…..he is wacky sorry.He talks about keeping insulin super low with his diet or actually in the zone then says that LC diets cause too drastic a drop in insulin.Does he not know that protein is highly insulinogenic on its own?Beef being the worst.

    Alot of stuff points to Kwasnieski as being right in the ballpark with all this stuff.50gms carbs,keep protein low and eating large amounts of calories….he starts EVERYone of his patients on 3K calories.

  11. Great idea madMUHHH.I am starting to think that alot of the problems that stem from LC and VLC are due to people not eating the whole animal.I can see ancient people eating thyroid glands….why not?

  12. Sorry for the triple posts.

    Kwasnieski writes that people should eat liver and pigs feet…basically the whole animal.I believe that you need to supplement with vitamins/minerals and stuff like glucosamine etc if you don't follow the way he outlines it.

  13. @wolfstriked:
    Yeah, I find it kinda funny how many WAPF followers probably are eating closer to the way our hunter/gatherer ancestors ate than many paleo folks. Eating the whole thing really seems to be important.

    And about the glycogen thing: I could be wrong there, but I think I read somewhere that most hunter/gatherers would eat the liver of the animal they killed as soon as possible, e.g. directly after killing it. Now liver certainly is high in glycogen from what I understand.

  14. Excellent summary of low-carbing problems, and I think the point about cortisol is extremely valid. Most low-carbers miss this point completely, and wonder months/years down the road why they suddenly have such severe cortisol-related problems.

    madMUHHH and wolfstriked – Mark Sisson did a post on how to do zero-carb the (so-called) right way, and according to him you need to eat a lot of organ meat to give the body what it needs when you're not eating carb foods. Although Mark's fairly supportive of low-carb anyway, I thought it was an interesting point in regards to why the Eskimos were such successful low-carbers.

    However, I am definitely *not* and Eskimo and low-carbing definitely does *not* agree with me. Now I am just trying to figure out the best way to incorporate carbs in my diet. It's weird, but after only 2 months on LC/VLC, it's like I forgot how to eat a normal amount of carbs – I have to think very hard about the carbs I'm eating now to make sure they fall within normal, moderate amounts. Dieting sucks – I am officially done with it.

  15. I was steered towards Kwasniewski as well, as many who have followed my work for a long time are aware of. But I ran into all the problems of low carb on a moderate-protein, low-carb, high fat diet. Maybe due to lack of organ meat consumption, but I doubt it. A diet with more carbs is simply preferable.

    BTW Sears, as well as Schwarzbein are all about being in the middle. Not too high in insulin and not too low. Barry's a little high in protein and low in carbs and fats and calories, but he's not too far off base really. At least until he goes to market with high dose fish oil and sucrose-laden soy bars. Schwarzbein's comment that a roughly 2 to 1 carb to protein ratio is probably pretty close to the mark for most people to enter into the ideal "zone." All human diets gravitated towards such ratios when all the macronutrients were available in abundance.

    And it's obvious. Food tastes better that way.

  16. Maybe I need more time with VLS….very low sugar.I can see something happening when I do HED.Its like part of my body feels bad but I feel better somewhere else.Hard to explain really.

    I wonder if my cells are damaged from the sugar onslaught and just need time to recuperate.I think it was Johnson who said that fructose damages the ATP storage part of the cells.Maybe they need to heal and then everyone can eat VLS and feel great.

    Matt I agree that 2:1 carbs to protein just feels right for some reason.

    MadMUHH….can we digest glycogen though?When it hits our bloodstream can our liver then just absorb it or does it convert to glucose etc….

    Elizabeth,how much liver did he say to eat?Ive read that you can get vitaminA poisoning from excess.Also kwasnieski tells people to eat alot of pigs feet if they have skin issues as the collagen(?)you absorb plus other nutrients helps to rebuild the skin over time.

    Matt,I see posts here and there where you say that you try to eat 50%fat/25% carbs and protein.This makes alot of sense to me.Its when I do HED the way my stomach wants is where I hit issues.Like taking a half pound of pasta for a meal.I get very hypo off that.But say a chuck of meat,a potato,some carrots etc and fat to cook in it really does coincide with what "feels" natural and is eaten around the world.

  17. I switched my diet to a paleo style diet at the start of this year. I have cut out grains completely (I do still have a small amount of diary each day though) but I have found that my digestion is going crazy, I am constipated and I get heartburn like never before. After reading this article I feel I could be doing more harm than good. Time for me to do it a bit research.

  18. Time for you to cut that Paleo crap out Anonymous. Then do some research. You can start by reading the progression of ideas here and monitoring your body temp in response to dietary changes.

    Eat da starch!

  19. About eating organ meats, which totally lack in the typical American diet…
    I know we are humans and not cats, but I do find it interesting that when big cats kill their prey the first things they eat are the heart, kidney, and liver, and then they move on to the fatty parts, and then the leaner meat.

    Also, kidney and heart does have some carb and liver I believe has about 6 g of carb for 4oz. Certain shellfish too, like lobster, clams, oysters, and mussels also have carbs, as much as 6-8g for a small serving of mussels.
    So if a low carb/high protein diet contains large amounts of these foods plus veggies and dairy products, then it might not even be that low carb.

  20. matt-

    would you please elaborate on your comment about the Pima? in Taube's tome of low-carb research he states 1 in 2 modern Pima were diabetic, many obese, and states most of what they ate were rations of flour and sugar.

  21. Swede said…

    I'm skeptical that Eskimos ate a zero carb diet. They ate a lot of frozen meat. Fresh meat that is frozen quickly will preserve muscle glycogen. Frozen organ meat, especially liver, will retain a high amount of glycogen.

    Scott I'm suspicious as well. There was a study done awhile ago that I can't find that said the eskimos got 50 grams or more of carbs from meat. More, they did eat vegetation seasonally (Price notes that) and they made and drank alcohol (although this could be low carb).

    They also did eat all the organs of the head. I don't know for sure yet but I'm beginning to think that true zero carb or very low carb as it is practiced today by some (just muscle meat mostly) is a practice akin to veganism, i.e. something thought up by relatively prosperous people with too much time on their hands. :-)

  22. RE: glycogen

    Glycogen is a glucose polymer just like starch, except that it is found is muscle tissue instead of plants. Our digestive system digests it into mono and disaccharides and absorbs it without any problems.

    As far as I know, most mammals retain the ability to digest carbs throughout their lives, including glycogen. Just look at any commercial dog food: the first ingredient is usually corn. Its not optimal for dogs, but they seem to do fine eating that type of food throughout their lives.

    @ Michael
    There is probably a lot of glucose in the brain as well, seeing as how it burns 140 grams per day minimum.

    That guy who preaches zero carb, Charles Washington, looks horrible. He has dark eye circles like a raccoon. I can't imagine that he looks in the mirror and feels like he is doing something good for his body!


  23. wolf – He wasn't specific on the amount of liver that I recall, but he did stress eating a variety of organ meats, and even said something about eating the stomach and its contents… that image stuck with me. But who's to think the stomach contents of something would be low-carb, anyway? We eat mostly herbivores, after all…

    Vida, I found that fact very interesting as well. Carnivores seem to think muscle meat is a secondary food compared to organs and fat.

    I tend to gravitate toward nutrient dense dairy, like cheese and raw milk, and eggs for my protein sources. I eat meat every day, too, but I enjoy the other stuff more.

    I agree somewhere around 50% fat feels pretty natural. I think I hit somewhere around 60% on most days – I'm very liberal with the butter. :)

    • I always wonder what a good amount of fat is. I think I generally eat 50-60% fat and then wonder if it’s too high. I use a lot of coconut oil, evoo and butter. Plus full fat dairy. I seem to have a hard time getting the carbs up without just living on bread. Thanks for sharing your daily fat intake, Elizabeth.

  24. Every time I've tried low-carb I've felt sharp during the day then ravenous at night leading to evening carb binges that made me feel sick and guilty. That Tom Naughton, Aajonus and all those paleo people are so damned convincing. But it didn't work for me. I'm still fat and fatigued. I bought one of your books and will buy another while reading your blog. I'm hoping to find balance in balance! I quoted the bee-jesus out of you and linked to you all over the place in my blog today. Thanks for doing it Bloggie-style, Matt! Your research is really helping me.

  25. Emily!!! Glad you asked darlin! B/C this is one of the biggest low-carb bitch-slaps in the world.

    The Arizona Pima on the reservation eat typical American fare – White bread fried in vegetable oil, a little meat, and lots of Pepsi/Coke products and alcohol.

    The Mexican Pima living in the mountains just across the border subsist off a higher carbohydrate diet, and a much higher Glycemic Load diet – mostly corn, potatoes, and beans.

    They literally have NO diabetes or obesity.

    It's all about fructose, caffeine, and alcohol combined with tons of PUFA on a low-nutrient diet.

    Taubes dug the grave for the carbohydrate hypothesis of disease when he brought up the Pima. He should've stuck to the refined carbohdyrate hypothesis of disease, but he went off into Atkins land recommending a ketogenic diet. Oops! Try again Gary! Wouldja like to go for double Jeopardy where the scores can really change?

  26. Thanks Lisa!

    Carbohydrates are the needing insulin to allow typtophan to cross the blood brain barrier where it can be converted to melatonin so you can sleep medicine.

    Same reason alcoholics have to drink to fall asleep, or relax in the evening… or why sugar binge urges happen late at night.

  27. I was thinking this the other day.What was the health like of the Indians who ate tons of corn.The SPaniards say that when they found the Aztecs they discovered their staple flatbread made from corn.

    You don't EVER hear of these other native Americans,instead the Pima Indians/eskimos are brought up.

    As Matt just pointed to the Mexican Pima having no diabetes its just amazing that this just slips thru unnoticed.

  28. Based on my own experience, I agree with you. I can tell when I'm getting speedy, and a few things do it reliably – skipping or delaying meals, not eating enough (a constant problem – I seem to require inordinate amounts of food), staying up too late, getting into overdrive with a project, and skimping on carbs. The adrenaline thing makes sense to me – I do think my adrenal glands are shot and have been most of my life, and I'm not sure how to get to a healed state with them, since my reaction to everything in life is to get insomnia. In fact, I react to insomnia by getting insomnia.

    (That said, and following up on your recent reply about exercising…. I think I can tell when exercise is doing me good vs. doing me in. I don't think feeling warmer has to do with overtaxing my adrenals in this case. Part of it could be an increase in brown adipose tissue, since I'm jogging (gingerly) in cold weather, which is said to increase this stuff, which, in turn, boosts your metabolism. Have you looked into this?)

  29. I have done the diet before and gained it back – this time (i am into week 2) I am approaching the plan as a lifestyle – like everyone says you must do – and I am exercising, which I have never done at this stage of the diet = i am feeling a little sluggish today but thinking this will change – planning great things! great blog.

  30. It's funny. For all my life all I managed to cook was scrambled eggs (and not precisely in a superb fashion). Now I just follow my instincts and just bathe everything in butter till' it tastes just fine, same with all other cooking related procedures, till' fine. There's always a lot of natural carbs and always a lot of fat, and salt, I don't care about macronutrients or anything. Everyone's telling me my cooking is incredible *_*. Lol, they get even more baffled when I tell them I didn't do anything special, just did things by taste.

    My family is somewhat fat-fobic (tell me I'll die from heart disease), but when the thing touches their mother they are doomed. Of course my brother is the one that loves it the most, also the one less corrupted by SCIENCE. Ah, the humanity…

  31. Here is a low carb exerience for you Matt…..

    I am 23 now and have been big into fitness/diet etc since I was about 16-17 so its been a long journey. I went from eating the typical bodybuilder way focusing on protein and carbs neglecting food quality in my younger days and more recently as in the last 2-3 years I found the work of a certain Mr Devany and Mark Sisson.

    Pretty much got obsessed with that stuff and brainwashed. It worked well for a while I dropped from about 84kg to 75kg, was doing stupid amounts of sprints, short intense workouts on empty stomach with loads of coffee, trying to do Intermittent fasting (which made me feel like I was dying). I thought I was on the path to ultimate health and decided to only eat when hungry probably chowing about 1500 calories a day max as hunger was non existant most the time, yet I craved non Paleo foods like crazy…..

    slowly without me realizing strength, stamina, sex drive, mood and pretty much everything went way downhill over the 2 years. I developed an anxiety disorder and depression. Palpitations and difficulty breathing also came about along with ice cold hands/feeling chilled all day long. basically I went from being happy and feeling good to being an utter mess who was neurotic and carbophobic.

    Found your blog funnily enough through Free The Animal who is a big time Paleo cult believer (and overrated in terms of blogging).

    A few weeks ago I bought the metabolism e-book, which I was skeptical at first as I doubted anything could get rid of my Paleo mindset, I was so brainwashed eating grains or startch in general would kill me. Your blog and e-books/e-zines have done a steller job of putting some sense into me.

    Its been about 2 weeks now eating starches again regularly after nearly 2 years and its crazy. Not only has my life gotten a whole lot easier, the first few days were a struggle though I felt borderline ill with terrible headaches and lethargy think it was a reaction my body had to having a constant supply of glucose once again. I am also seeing a host of other things improve but know it will take time and consistency. It seems my body is so damn happy to have some freedom with food after being restricted for so long with either Paleo or before that only eating carbs after workouts.

    I am trying to eat well but not stuff my face as I am cautious of gaining unnecessary fat and whilst I know it would speed up the recovery I am willing to be patient and let things take their time. My mood has increased a huge amount, my racing mind has slowed down and life just seems so much better. Probably in comparison to the low carb/Paleo fog I lived in for too long!

    I had forgotten how damn nourishing a bowl of soaked oats are in the morning, especially after living off fruit, nuts and boiled eggs for breakfast for years.

    Thanks Matt for showing me the light, keep up the great work.

  32. The Pima are really a good one. Taubes starts his lectures with them, but without mentioning that their original diet is high in starch, too. This was the point that made me start to doubt the LC-story.

  33. I haven´t got all those symptoms. I feel fine and am healthy and have the weight I like, except for a a small fat layer under my belly button :-).Since 2004 I eat more or less low carb, from South Beach, to low carb but more protein to Art De Vany style of Paleo. To me that means: no grains, no potatoes, no beans, no dairy (except heavy sour cream). VERY much animal fat, some vegetables, no fruit (except for the summer time: berries). Lately I upped my fat intake and lowered my protein intake, and that feels very good! (Influence of Dr. Harris). What I mean to say is that yes I also believe that low carb is not for everyone and certainly not ALL the time. People are unique ànd change. So if you listen to your body, instead of believing in a Sowjet system, then it can happen that you change your carb intake. I mean if you have symptoms…those are messages you should listen to and follow up and NO theory can be more important than your own body. Besides NO scientist can prove scientifically which food is good to us. That would be too expensive to follow people their whole life and also they never ever could control their food intake. Also, there so many interactions between sort of foods/minerals/vitamins/hormones and there are so many more factors: sleep, stress, happiness, personal development, traumas. But there is also change (we are linear machines):If you are healing yourself by a different/better food intake, your body, hormonal system and metabolism is going to change and so you may need different food.
    To me the bottom line is that we knew very well what to eat: we were in balance with our environment, whether that was a potato or a rabbit. Scientists come up every month/year with new findings and new recommendations. So what are these recommendations? At most, they tell you what the Science at that time, has proven. This is not the best solution for your health, because if there is no further testing done then there is no new recommendation; no new evidence. And when there is new "evidence", then these recommendations change as well. Who is actually responsible for this recommendation, in fact, up to that point? And how much damage has been caused to the follow up of this? In the meantime, our ancestors knew about it a long time, who had no evidence-based medicine, because that was not yet invented, but they have used their common sense. Everybody is different and changes along fractal stochastic patterns: listen to your body and follow up. To me that is now Paleo, that is soooo simple, so logical, no complicated still to be proven medical hypothesis and like in the real world: paleo is everywhere very different. If you (genes) are used for generations to tropical food because you live in Panama, you´re going to have a hard time to eat Inuit Paleo food. My body wants me to change my food intake every season: I can´t take fresh salads here in winter time, but I love it in the summer: balance with your environment.

    • Thank you George, those are exactly the things I wanted to say but wasn’t sure how.
      I think I can say in summary “Just eat real food, in season and preferably local”.

  34. Of course the line "(we are linear machines)" must be read as (we are NO linear machines).

  35. Chris,

    That certainly isn't the first time I've heard that story. In fact, I've heard that exact story about a half dozen times now.

    I think it's where that mentality eventually leads. Your adherence to it, glandular health, nutritional reserves, and genes determine how quickly you make it to the destination you describe.


    Thank God you're eating more fat. If you think that feels really good, try throwing some starch into the mix. :)

  36. Greatpost George, even though I disagree in one or two things.
    I'm especially not convinced how strong the genetic factor really is. I think for the most of us, genes are irrelevant and differences very small. I mean if you can feed rats, pigs, birds, humans the same food and they react in the same way (only read about this via a secondary source, but McCarrison did a lot of this as far as I'm concerned), then I really find it hard to believe that the genetics within one species matter so much. It's much more about epigenetics and gene expression in my opinion and that definitely can be influenced.

    Also, my only real worry with Paleo/low-carb is, is that it just feels so GOOD. I've heard of a lot of people (me included) who first felt GREAT on a paleo diet without noticing that their adrenals were slowly burning down until it was too late. This just supports your stance that you have to listen to your body and common sense, you just have to look at it closer and not just only say I FEEL fine so I probably AM fine.

  37. I have always found the point of 180, and the reason I am drawn to it, is that he seems to be one of the few that doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Low carbers tend to do well at first I believe simply because they are cutting out the crap in their diet: sugar and white flour and moving toward a whole food lifestyle. (And no I don't mean the soy-mongering chain of upscale grocery boutiques). Then some health issues kick in. With me it was allergies made worse by low-fat dairy and processed whey and soy protein supplements. Had I gone paleo, I might not have had some of these issues and I might have lost weight as dramatically as I did on low carb. What I doubt would be any better was my rebound hyperphagia which was the worst ever: 15 pounds in 6 months (5 pounds more than I lost on the diet). The second time I went off low carb I came here and my hyperphagia has been minimal. Less than what I lost on the diet, which for me is a huge leap forward. Oh the other thing about my hyperphagia from LC, it went to my belly. For 35 years I had a flat abdomen, except for being pregnant. Even after childbirth, my upper abs went back to looking like it did before the baby (lower abs, not so fortunate). Now I've got that barrel shape thing going on which is totally dispiriting. Cortisol man. It will fuck you up.

    I really think sooner or later you are going to want to incorporate carbs. Check out the book Hungry Planet. Eskimos now are eating carbs because they can. They still seem pretty healthy to me as well, especially the older generation.

  38. Every human being that ever had access to carbohydrates ate carbohydrates as part of their regular diet. It's uh, part of our primal paleolithic programming. Find carbs, eat them.

    They also didn't voluntarily do sprints (or involuntarily do sprints… a 12-year old Masai warrior can kill a lion with a spear, and humans are slow, what the hell would we run sprints for? Those who sprinted away from the proverbial "saber-toothed tiger" didn't stick around to pass on their genes).

    I don't remember Weston A. Price talking about intermittent fasting being one of the hallmarks of achieving good health either.

    And yes, what makes you "feel good" isn't always what's "good for you." Schwarzbein's "building vs. using" concept cannot be overlooked. She states plainly that "breaking down feels really good because you're using up your biochemicals." That's all fine and dandy if you are metabolically healthy and plan to eat and sleep to rebuild. But if you plan to do low-carb and intermittent fasting and your body temp is 96.5 degrees F to begin with, then you are in for a world of hurt.

    Don't worry Chris. I lived in that mentality at 16-25 and am still here to tell about it. There's hope for you yet!

  39. I stumbled on to this blog and found it interesting.
    Paleo/HIIT/weightlifting are like "lowfat/aerobics" 20 years ago. This too, will pass.
    My wife's grandparents lived to be 90, with no disease until very shortly before death. They both had all their teeth. They ate white flout tortillas, beans and some meat almost everyday of their lives, along with vegetables from their own and neighbors gardens. The meat was usually portioned off into stews with beans and veggies. They ate a small dessert most days, and once in a while, a big one. they drank coffee and water and some milk, very little soda. They did not own a car and walked everywhere. they worked in the garden and built their own house. They thought that heavy physical labor was crazy, if you could avoid it. So much for crossfit.
    My wife and I eat in a similar fashion and we are not overweight or sick. I'm 60, and I've seen all the fads come and go. Low carb is probably a good intervention for obese/diabetics, but it's no good for long term health, mental or physical. Some of the paleo websites seem to me to be about narcissism or selling something. I am interested in exercise and so I visited a bunch of these blogs out of curiosity. A lot of these "experts" are just guessing and trading on desperate people who want to change their bodies in some way.
    Finally, my wife and I like both beans and sweet potatoes. and yeah, butter tastes way good. Just some thoughts.

  40. My biggest concern is that now that I have added starches and grains back in after having been on a low-carb diet for close to a year, my anxiety and irritability have come back full force, and I cannot eat too many carbs at one time without my sugars going too high. I am at such a loss on what to do – I refuse to go back to low carb, but my metabolism just cannot handle too many carbs right now. Any recommendations?

  41. "Only a fruitarian diet seems to be capable of matching this level of degeneration.", in youtube/nutrition forums you see hundreds of videos about 80/10/10 and people seem to get good results. however i don´t think those are long term results…
    any experiences with high fruit sugar low fat?

  42. Thanks for the feedback Matt. Came at a good time and your pointing out Anthony Colpos excellent article was very helpful.

    Sadly I feel very conned by the diet and paleo/evolutionary world especially people like Arthur DeVany and Mark Sisson who many hold in high regard. Yet check the Primal blueprint forum nothing but health problems….

    I think Mike above said it best: "Paleo/HIIT/weightlifting" are like "lowfat/aerobics" 20 years ago.This too, will pass.

  43. Hell yeah Griff!

    Chris and Griff-

    Don't be so hard on Sisson or DeVany or low-carb in general. I've never come across a health author or blogger that didn't truly mean well. I think they are really trying to help people, just as the low-fat cardio people want to help people, but it just seems that they don't understand the whole puzzle, or how to help people overcome true metabolic problems other than to say, "sprint, fast, and cut back on carbs, and try some supplements."

    Anonymous with hypoglycemia-sounding carb reaction:

    What is your basal body temperature (body temperature taken first thing in the morning upon waking?) and have you tried overfeeding for a month or two yet? We need more info. to try and come up with some avenues for you to explore.

  44. As far as 80-10-10 is concerned, I've got a theory… health benefits derived from essential fatty acid deficiency? Maybe this is why eating low-fat doesn't do anything while eating really low-fat seems to work wonders (like Furhman's nutritarian gig in particular).

    This may also be why many inflammatory diseases clear up while fasting, although there are clearly other factors involved.

    They do end up having typical vegan degeneration though. Emaciation, spaciness, low sex drive, dental problems, etc.

    In general, fruitarian/vegan eating looks good on the internet, but they are often in greater denial than any people on earth about real issues that they eventually face… probably because veganism takes on a certain level of religious fervor that gets in the way of the body's clearcut message, which is "HELP!"

  45. Thanks for the iodine links. There's no doubt that increasing iodine levels in the body may have tremendous benefits, hence iodoral for sale in my wee lil' Amazon store now. I am always very hesitant about Pharmacological doses of any vitamin or mineral though unless I am 100% sure it is legit and doesn't harm some other system of the body.

    I'll be looking into iodine and Brownstein's work later this year.

  46. I know I'm probably fuzzing about nothing. But while we're talking about avodiing sugar (which we aren't at the moment, I was just desperately trying to somehow make my comment appear meaningful to the current context ;-) ).
    Do you think the amount of sugar in coconut milk is anything to bother about? As far as I know it has a comparably high fructose content which certainly is something you do not want. But I don't think it can be that bad. I just consume a lot of that stuff lately. (1L a week, is that a lot? It's the thinner kind though)
    Guess I just should cut down a very little on it and get some more pure coconut oil without caring too much about it.

  47. @madMUHHH

    Based entirely off the endocrinologist lecture on fructose from a few posts ago:

    Are you concerned about your liver or triglycerides? Would you worry about an equivalent amount of alcohol? If not, forget about it.

    It is separated from the fruit fiber, so it seems most like a little shot of fruit juice, except mixed with coconut oil.

    Would you feel comfortable eating the equivalent amount of apple juice mixed with oil? Probably depends on how strict you're trying to be; most important is to not get yourself and your cortisol riled up worrying about it.

  48. Well put Youngblood. A couple grams per can of sugar in coconut milk is not something to worry about. If it is we're all screwed.

  49. Yeah, I think I should just moderate my intake a little. But it would be a shame to deprive myself of such a delicious food/beverage/whatever.

    But this talk got me thinking a little and I came up with two interesting, albeit not really important points:
    1)I think it's kinda funny that tropical fruits seem to contain more fructose, at least as far as I'm concerned. Why funny you ask? Well, what do tropical regions have in abundance? Sunshine! And as it turns out Vitamin D is kind of an antidote to the effect of fructose:
    This may be getting a little "spiritual" now, but it is really interesting to see how in nature all things even out perfectly. This really supports my theory that one of the main reasons for why we are getting sicker and sicker is our ever growing disconnection to nature. I don't know if that sounds like bogus to you. But to me it makes sense.
    2) Also, I think I read somewhere that coconut water is good for a hangover. So it may very well have a positive effect on the liver, which in turn perhaps would minimize the detrimental effect of the fructose content in the coconut. Now this is pure specualtion, but it support the idea that in fruit the "poison" comes with the "antidote".

    I'm getting some weird ideas while siiting in the bathtub. Your thoughts?

  50. MadMUHH, yeah the whole Universe seems to be "designed" or evolved if you will to be a ginormis homeostasis machine. One of the most metaphysically insightful moments in pop culture came on Seinfeld when he realized he was "even Steven" and that when Elaine and George went through their opposite phase they balanced him out. When you pay attention, it's kind of hard not to get all misty and spiritual about the seemingly intelligent and well-ordered "nature" of things.

  51. I believe in evolution as there is such an abundance of proof like lizards outside a cave with their cousins living miles down born translucent and with no eyes.The galapagos islands are another fascinating look at evolution.

    I also agree this world we live in seems very well thought out. :) So many things are there for a reason or made in a certain way to work perfect.The way the planets are all aligned in our solar system to revolve around the sun in same plane so none collide.Then I think about sea travel in the past.Just so happens that at night you become blind out on the seas in times long gone.Oh wait theres that one EXTRA shiny star that always points north.

    Kinda makes me angry that nutrition is so dam complicated.

  52. I saw mentioned somewhere on this blog that beans and high fiber veggies are bad for IBS, but if you don't have IBS are they ok?
    I've been mad craving them lately and I even just got done making some roasted chickpeas. I've been eating real heavy on the starches past few days. It's what I have been wanting so it's what I've been eating.
    BTW, I've had two people today tell me I look like I'm losing weight.

  53. Hey Matt! Save me hours of searching your blog and help me with a question. Why does going low-or no-carb cause severe headaches? I've heard answers ranging from Herxheimer Effect from Candida-die off to tryptophan and serotonin causing vasoconstriction. Got any ideas?

  54. @madMUHHH

    The symptoms of a hangover are often associated with dehydration. Coconut water is relatively rich in electrolytes or something. It is very hydrating anyway. So I believe the liver is not involved, at least not more than the liver gets involved regarding dehydration.

    @madMUHHH, Jennythenipper, and wolf

    I think you guys are really great. But you're crazy. =)

    The planets share a plane because they formed from a spinning disk of free stellar material, which formed a disk because when things spin they tend to diskify.

    There will always be a brightest star, just like there is a tallest mountain that makes a good landmark. Humans are good at seeing contrast.

    Tropical fruits have the most fructose because they have the most energy to spare. Blowing everything on fructose in a northern climate means you don't have anything left to grow roots, etc.

    Of course, none of these things, even if they're true, preclude the system from having been designed. I'm not remotely qualified to go there.

    @Lisa Sargese

    Another answer to add to your repertoire: It takes time for your brain to adapt to metabolizing ketone bodies, during which you're left miserable. As far as I know this is the standard answer from the conventional low-carb camp.

    Although, if nature is really as smart as some of us think it is, it is actually your body telling you "You're doing it wrong, eat them taters." =D

  55. Hey. I don't normally leave comments, but I just wanted to say thanks for the great information. I have a blog too, though
    I don't write as good as you do, but if you want to check it out here it is. Thanks again and have a great day!


  56. When things spin with a center of gavity things will diskify yes,but in space?

    You might be right about the star.

    DId you know that all the galaxies are moving also.Galaxies intermingle in other galaxie space all the time yet nothing touches.The sun or our sun(every star you see is a sun)is actually orbiting around another object.

    Ok back on to nutrition. :D

  57. Matt,

    Why do you feel low-carb diets often result in dramatic weight loss for people who haven't had success with other diets? Is a low-carb diet bad for these people?

  58. There's one thing about fructose I want to put out in the anti-fructose blogosphere. Might as well start here. First, let me agree that fructose in excess is not good.

    With that out of the way, then, let's look again at why the body treats it differently from other sugars. It doesn't put it directly into the bloodstream – it converts it into glycogen and stores it in the liver. It doesn't signal leptin, so you don't feel satiety.

    Why? I've heard the theory, here and elsewhere, that fruit is being sneaky and wants to trick us into eating more and more of it.

    Wait a sec – who gave fruit the final say in how our bodies metabolize it? Clearly, our bodies evolved to treat fructose this way. Since it is such a harmful substance (again, why? Our bodies have chosen to react to it as such, but that's probably just a side-effect of what our bodies are really trying to do with it), why have a taste for it at all? Why not signal "Satiety! Satiety!" when it's ingested, at least?

    There is some reason our bodies really want us to consume it – and probably the stuff it's packaged with – in mass quantities. Of course, this would be in an evolutionary context, not in the context of vending machines on every corner, chock full of fructose, year-round.

    Just something to think about.

    Love your comments, MadMUHHH.

  59. Thanks Madmuhh,

    In all my ponderings in life I've come to many of the same conclusions. That's the power in Weston A. Price and the quote I have listed above. It states, emphatically, "Mother Nature Obeyed."

    I am a firm believer in equilibrium, my life forever changed by John F. Demartini – who unfortunately has ties with "The Secret" even though he has nothing do to with the wacko spiritual movement called "The Law of Attraction." Yes, the law of attraction that says like attracts like and uses a magnet as a metaphor. Hey dipshits, a magnet attracts opposite and polar complementary energies. Positive attracts negative. Negative attracts positive.

    As for fruit, I do suspect that it draws us in with a special sugar molecule that effects us that way. But hey, our bodies haven't come up with any genius ways to handle snake venom or plant poisons either. We were able to get around some hurdles though, with that whole cooking thing.

    Lisa –

    My first answer to your question was "dehydration." So Youngblood pretty much answered that one. I've found that headaches come with any major and sudden dietary shift though, no matter what it is.


    Eat those beans and fibrous veggies. There's no reason to exclude them unless you have a damaged, hyperinflammatory gut – in which case you probably should cut back until the swelling and irritation has come down before reintroducing such foods.


    I'm not adamantly opposed to low-carb diets. For some obese people, it seems to get weight off.

    But it should be used for that purpose and that purpose alone. A lean person best not be foolin' around with low-carb.

    Still, a better approach to losing tons of excess body fat, if the person cannot be patient enough to wait for the metabolism to optimize, is probably to carb cycle, or do small bursts of 'refeeding' – not strictly go low-carb and stay that way day in and day out. Then I think dead ends are very likely, and rebounds almost certain. Jimmy Moore, for example, has a very low body temperature and is now gaining weight with a daily caloric intake that is more appropriate for his average meal intake. He's in a rough spot, and it will be interesting to see what happens to him over the next several years. I think he's starting to open up and branch out because doubts are creeping in, and he's probably super tired of his brutal diet of hamburger patties and diet drinks.

  60. @youngblood.carl and everyone else:
    Just to make things clear. I don't believe in Creationism and all that stuff. I'm not religious either, but I think I'm getting on the path to become somewhat "spiritual". There certainly is a scientific explanation for everything, but will we ever be smart enough to figure it out? I just things in nature are more interconnected than most of us think and considering how right most primitive cultures were when it comes to nutrition, even if it was mostly instinctual, I believe that there is a distinct benefit in staying in touch with the nature around your and honoring every lifeform that walks upon it (which shouldn't stop you from eventually eating it). Now it's really hard to put all this in words and I'm still trying to find out what is and feels right for me (but in the end, who isn't?)

    Btw, studies have actually "proven" that praying posseyses some unique healing abilities. I'm notsomeone who prays but this yet again shows that a certain sense of spirituality would benefit most of us.

  61. Matt,

    Re: snake venom and plant toxins.

    1) We don't crave snake venom, except perhaps as a ceremonial psychoactive substance. Although I hear frog venom is better. But we do crave fructose.

    2) I would argue that the body has found a use for many plant toxins and that small doses (like what you would get from eating an edible plant) may be beneficial. (Though evidence seems to suggest they are mostly beneficial only in the presence of saturated fat.)

    The much-ballyhooed "phytonutrients" are often produced by the plant as a toxin. At levels found in a reasonable diet, they might be protective. (Many prevent oxidative or AGE [advanced glycation end-product] damage.) At higher levels, they may have pharmalogical effects – the basis of herbal medicines. And/or be toxic.

    (I'm pretty sure the traditional cultures W.A.P. studied all had some kind of herbal medicine tradition.)

    At dietary levels, the beneficial effect could be hormeosis at work or something we've developed a more specific adaptation for.

    It could be that if you don't eat the fructose in the grapes, apples, or tomatoes, you don't need the resveratrol, quercetin, or lypocene in them, either. Maybe it works that way.

    (As an aside,
    I remember driving myself crazy, having bought turmeric supplements, because turmeric was touted as anti-inflammatory, only to read the next day that turmeric caused DNA damage. I'm sure both are true and that the dose makes the poison. I'm also sure we'd agree that the best approach is to keep inflammation at bay in the first place so you don't need "supplements.")

    3) The other possible explanation for craving fructose when it does us no good is that it stands in for something else, the way cannaboids and opiates in plants can stand in for our own.

    But it doesn't seem to work on the same principle. It seems we process fructose in a very specific way, not in a way that stands in for something else.

    My guess is that since fruit was much more rare, less full of fructose, and seasonal in the past, that gorging on it was a good thing. There was a lot of energy and other nutrients in that fruit – good to get as much of it as you could. And that worked for the fruit as well. It's just not working for us now because there's way too much fructose around, plus, it's usually separated from its original package, which contained stuff which blunted its bad effects (fiber, vitamin C, phytonutrients, or, in the case of sugar cane, chromium…).

    Also, there's evidence that sugar is much worse in the presence of PUFAs (cited somewhere on Stephan's blog).

  62. There's no doubt that the omega 6/fructose combo. is heinous. This goes back all the to Barry Sears, 1995, when he mentioned that the combo. of hyperinsulinemia and omega 6 was more or less "the perfect nutritional storm."

    This insures, by overactivating the delta 5 desaturase enzyme, that all that omega 6 gets converted to AA for the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids.

  63. "His diet consisted of mostly raw dairy products, raw grassfed beef, and sauerkraut"

    Matt this doesnt seems to be fairly healthy doesnt? it has protein fat and good amounts of carbs, why the problems you think?

  64. I think he was lucky to get 50 grams of carbs per day at most. Plus, raw meat is less digestible, and hard to eat in really large amounts. Grassfed beef is also quite lean, which may be, as mentioned above, anti-metabolic.

    Healthy or not, what matters is whether or not it is improving his physiological weaknesses, or counterproductive to that weakness. I argue that anyone with a slow metabolism or low body temp should not dick around with low carb, low-calorie diets, which is precisely what this was. Many of the calories are lost in protein digestion as well, substacting from the energy total.

  65. Speaking of AA, what do you think of the AA content of butter, or of organ meats? Something to worry about?

  66. @Helen:
    There is a very interesting article on Primal Wisdom about that whole plant/toxin thing. I think it adresses some of your points and probably leans to the same direction. Here's a quote:

    Some will argue that the synergistic effect of multiple ingredients in plants reduces this toxicity[he is talking about phytonutrients in plants/veggies]. But I doubt that. Remember, the plants that survived evolution were those that either poisoned or created symbiotic relationships with predators. These chemicals may make plants excellent medicines — many have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and general antimicrobial effects, just what a plant needs to survive.


  67. matt your dam good at this stuff… i like your approach so much.

    so your against eating raw meat?

    i did raw dairy and i think it gave me problems.

  68. AA could very well be a problem. It's not an unhealthy fatty acid per se, it's just that when you have high AA tissue concentration, it may be worth consideration.

    This would give even more reason to suspect why WAPF followers often get minimal health results and sometimes even have trouble on the diet. This list of foods highest in AA is like the the WAPF dream menu.

  69. Nothing against raw meat. But eating nothing but raw meat practically on a low-carb, low-calorie diet is another story.

  70. i actually had a blood test for essential fatty acids and my AA was just a bit overrange.

  71. Anonymous – what is your diet like?

  72. lest we get too down on paleo eating, let me assure folks that the macronutrient ratios are very versatile.

    paleo doesn't = low carb.

    i ate a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb paleo diet and developed anxiety symptoms caused by excessive adrenaline; classic case. it sucked bad. real bad. but experimentation is fun, right? :/

    i then changed the ratios within a paleo context, and just followed my instincts. i now naturally eat
    a lower protein, moderate fat, moderate carb diet to good effect.

    …who said (besides Cordain) that eating starchy tubers isn't paleo?

    …and who claims that grass seeds and beans are necessary or desirable? eat 'em if you want, but i'd rather chow down on yams, sweet potatoes or sweet cassava.

    diet from an evolutionary context makes the most sense to me; i just don't get hung up on the ratios.

    …and sorry; rice, oat meal and corn cakes are simply not quality energy sources.

  73. Thanks Shel. Well put.

    I prefer root vegetables myself.

    But it can't be denied the fact that there are impeccably healthy people the world over eating oats, rice, and corn as staples. Those foods didn't cause the demise of human health, as Weston A. Price irrefutably showed.

    I think humans can make any nutritious food a part of an excellent diet. Paleolithic or neolithic. It's the uber-neolithic refined foods that are the trouble makers, and Paleo authors, until they put that into perpsective, are always going to get harrassed by me.

    • Did he irrefutably show that?

      Or did he show that such foods didn’t cause the demise of human health, when grown and prepared in certain ways, in their specific context, which was without motorways, airplanes, Wifi, mobile phones and the associated 24/7-on lifestyle?

  74. ~hey Matt.

    there are undeniably healthy populations who eat grass seeds; but i wonder if they are healthy because of, or despite grass seed consumption. their other food choices are exemplary (healthy fatty meat, copious veggies).

    nutritionally, grass seeds and beans are basically empty (a few b vitamins and inferior quality proteins). lots of energy though.

    have you tried fermented and unfermented poi (taro)? check it out. good stuff. after eating this, i don't miss porridge.

    its good that there are people who are refuting the low-carb dogma, but i hope we all don't miss the point that, like you stated, we eat actual food and ditch the refined crap. but keep in mind that we're all different, and some do very well on low-starch/sweet.

    i hope we don't get caught up in ridiculous flame wars (i can smell it coming) and miss the point we're all trying to make: that an industrial diet is killing us.

  75. 4) The mere presence of ketone bodies from going low in carbohdyrates is known to intensify insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the whole reason people go on low-carb diets in the first place, and is the root problem – worsened by a low-carb diet.

    Peter discusses that a bit here:

    "What is happening? Well, the first thing is that LC eating rapidly induces insulin resistance. This is a completely and utterly normal physiological response to carbohydrate restriction. Carbohydrate restriction drops insulin levels. Low insulin levels activate hormone sensitive lipase. Fatty tissue breaks down and releases non esterified fatty acids. These are mostly taken up by muscle cells as fuel and automatically induce insulin resistance in those muscles."

  76. Jeromie -

    That's good information for low-carbers who say, "Look, I ate a pretzel and my blood sugar is 202!." (I know Peter is low-carbing for other reasons, too, though. I like his blog, though I also like my starch.)

    MadMUHHH – That Primal Wisdom site looks really interesting. I've been vaguely looking for something like that. Thanks.

  77. Read Peskin's article. Not terrible, but with major flaws of course. There is, has never been, and will never be any kind of correlation between carbohdyrate consumption, body fat levels, and rates of degenerative disease. The type of macronutrient you eat is not the core issue behind declining health.

    There are many people and have been many civilizations eating tons of carbohdyrates without the horrific results that alludes to.

    To have the arrogance to say that his recommendations don't have contradiction is super lame. But he is not totally on Cloud 9. He does make many valid points.

  78. It's not that a low-carb or even zero-carb diet can’t be a healthy diet. Eskimos proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. The question is, given that the world seems to be in metabolic decline, with widespread insulin resistance, low body temperature, and more… is a low-carb diet the most effective strategy at fixing the core problem, or might it actually be counterproductive?

    This is such key observation my Matt, and why his presence online is so important. You see I couldn't get two and two together for years….I was like "But why? Why can the Eskimos eat super low carb and be perfectly healthy and not me? Why can the Masai drink mostly raw milk and I can't even digest it at all? Why can the Swiss have perfect health on mostly rye bread and raw dairy, and again, I get sick from it? (being both gluten, and dairy intolerant) Why did the kids Weston A Price put on a whole foods diet, quickly heal their different health issues, and I get acutely sick when I try to follow his 1930s guidelines?

    It shows how much more complex the problem is today than to just start eating whole foods, cutting out sugar, and then expecting to heal. It's never that easy in a modern human with multiple food intolerances, insulin resistance, leptin issues, low body temperature and very impaired metabolism.

    Thankfully it seems Matt has developed an emergency plan for us, the RRARF program, that seems to work wonders in those who attempt it, like myself. Fingers crossed I, and my all too many fellow ill health sufferers, get all the way to the other side of metabolism hell and get to experience something closer to health in this lifetime.

  79. I am so fascinated by this topic, thanks for your thoughts. I am up to my neck researching!!

  80. I am blown away by this article. I’ve been following the Paleo diet for several months to address several serious health issues, and now have new issues all addressed in your article. And here I thought I was doing a good thing. The one thing that did get fixed with low carb is no longer being pre-diabetic or having constant uncontrollable sugar cravings. So that part has been a Godsend. I’ve been adding in some carbs recently and feeling much better – and without increased sugar cravings – yay – I never want to live like that again. And, in one week with higher carbs I lost 2.5 of the 5 lbs I gained from just 2 weeks on Paleo – so I’m thinking that was the cortisol reaction. Oh my goodness. It’s all making so much sense. THANK YOU!!!!!!! Can’t wait to read the rest of your site and read your book.

    • Hey Dara,

      Welcome aboard. Many folks have had similar experiences and one of the aims of 180 is to be a place where they can learn from each other, and realize that if their specific diet doesn’t work for them, it’s not just because they’re doing it wrong, or insufficiently strict or whatever. Have fun poking around- there’s lots of great info here.

      Good luck!

  81. Please forgive these naive questions, but perhaps you can point me towards some links that I missed while poking around on your site…

    From birth until age 30, I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian–a “healthy” vegetarian who ate tons of homemade food, whole grains, vegetables, etc. But my oldest son was sick and getting sicker, and by 2010 when he was six, he was incredibly anorexic and slipping into an autistic haze.

    A modified GAPS protocol is absolutely and amazingly helping–but although things are SO so so much better (it’s been 2.5 years), my son is so “fragile” that he still has months (like this past) when anything sweet/starchy/fibrous will precipitate diarrhea. My middle child, meanwhile, is constipated and having a terrible lip rash that is only clearing up with a regular course of enemas (these are also for some reason helping w/his bedwetting, which he REALLY wants to stop). But at the same time, my husband’s digestive system always feels inflamed, and his autoimmune symptoms are not really abating. Additionally, his face is inflamed and peeling, and he is so incredibly not-hungry, like it’s “masked”. This has been going on since before GAPS, and really never got better at all – the result is almost anorexic, except he is dying to gain weight and tries to eat more, with no success.

    I wonder if maybe my husband’s gut could handle more carbs at this point, and maybe needs them?? But WHY?? This is what my tired brain can’t understand.

    I still don’t get why it would somehow be GOOD to go back to a low-fat, high-carb, low-protein diet, which is what I was doing for my whole life and my husband was doing for the 14 years he was with me before GAPS.

    Can someone shed light on this?

    With much appreciation,

    • are you still all vegetarians ?

  82. Someone asked the question above and, it seems pretty clear indeed that when the Inuit consumed fish, they did eat the whole thing, including the head and endocrine glands (all high in protective cholesterol but, also thyroid hormones; active thyroid hormone is found in high concentration in the brain of animals. Cholesterol, thyroid and replete vitamin A levels all contribute to an optimal amount of the protective hormones (pregnenolone,progesterone, DHEA, etc.) in proportion to the levels of circulating low-density lipoproteins.

    Interestingly, G. W. Crile, among others, noted that the basal metabolic rate of Eskimos was 125% of that of people in the United States. [Crile GW (1939), Adams & Covino (1958), William R. Leonard (2005)]

    Even more important though is the fact that most Inuit people probably ate more saturated fats (from fattened Caribou as well as whale blubber) than unsaturated fats, contrary to what many assume… The former has a neutral to stimulating effect on thyroid and metabolic function, contrary to the depressing effect of the latter…

  83. I have been sugar free for 3 months now. (Well, not completely, because ketchup and other condiments have sugar in them), but it has been drastically reduced in my diet, probably close to 90%. When I get a sweet craving I use Stevia. Anyway, just this past 9 days I have been trying to eat gluten free as well. (Not low carb, but just avoiding gluten. It is harder than I thought). I normally get HORRIBLE menstrual cramps. The kind that make me curl up in a ball and try not to pass out or throw up. It is really bad. And I don’t eat much processed food… mostly made from scratch, and healthy, whole foods supplements.

    So, anyway, at the end of the first week of going gluten free, I had my period and barely any cramps. I have no clue how this was related. I was told that 1) I don’t have endometriosis (had an exploratory surgery to figure out why my cramps were so bad) and 2) I have a LOT of scar tissue in my abdominal area due to an appendectomy I had years ago, they think…

    The scar tissue could have been causing the discomfort and extreme pain. But, none this month! (well, on a scale of 1-10 it was only a 4, not a 10!)

    So, I am going to cut back on gluten (not cut it out completely) hopefully by 50% and then the week before my period be gluten free for that week. We will see how it goes.

    I don’t know about low carb… I eat salads (carbs) and rice and quinoa and make delicious homemade breads. But I do eat a lot of wholesome proteins, and cook with a lot of coconut oil (good, Omega 3s). I don’t know what I could be doing different (other than the no sugar and reduced gluten). So, I will continue on with no sugar and see how that goes. Thanks for the article.

  84. That’s interesting, Rebecca – just yesterday I was thinking about how my periods have gotten so much easier, pain-wise, and it didn’t occur to me that it could be that I’ve been gluten free for the last year.

    I went GF in support of my son, who seems to be gluten sensitive (he used to have awful seasonal allergies, now he only gets stuffed up when he has a gluten cheat). Anyway, to my surprise, my eczema cleared up almost entirely and all my joint pain (which I chalked up to middle age) went away. And now I realize, cramps are much milder. Hm.

    Love this blog. Matt, you are the voice of sanity. I’ve now sworn off dieting and am trying to get back to how I guess I ate as a young child – by intuition, as much as possible.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>