When I clicked the Publish button after writing my last post, I told Chareva, “I bet this one will draw a few extra comments.”  Yup.  Nothing like mentioning that word starch to get people excited one way or the other.  I suspect a few readers were concerned I was about to announce I’m abandoning my low-carb diet.

(I’m told one blogger has even speculated that I’m not going on the low-carb cruise this year because I want to “distance” myself from Jimmy Moore.  Heh-heh-heh … I’ll be sure to post plenty of pictures when Jimmy and Christine come to stay with us for a week in July.  The only way I hope to “distance” myself from Jimmy is by out-driving him during our disc golf matches.  I’m skipping the cruise because I knew I was going to be swamped with a software project – which I still am, but the end is finally in sight.)

Anyway, no, I’m not abandoning my low-carb diet.  I’m tweaking it.  The Perfect Health Diet is a low-carb diet.  It’s just not a very-low-carb, Atkins-induction-style diet.   It’s also probably closer to the low-carb diet your paleo ancestors actually consumed than a starch-free diet would be, no matter what the Inuits did or didn’t eat.

According to some posts Richard Nikoley put up recently, the Inuits apparently sought out animals that contain a fair amount of glycogen in their organs.  Their diets may have been up to 20% carbohydrate as a result.  There’s been some debate on that, but let’s suppose for the sake of argument the Inuits really and truly lived on a carb-free diet.  So what?  They were still the exception in the wide, wide world of paleo people, so we can’t exactly point to them and conclude that their diet is the ideal diet for everyone.  Most hunter-gatherers gathered some tubers or other starchy plants to go along with their meat and fish.  Many low-carbers might be better off doing likewise.  (Eating tubers, I mean, not necessarily gathering them.)

Gary Taubes once wrote a post explaining that when people cut calories to lose weight, they almost always cut carbohydrates as well.  Even if all they do is eat less of the same foods, a 30% reduction in calories would mean a 30% reduction in carbohydrates.  But when people go on a diet, they preferentially dump the junk food: desserts, sodas, candies, French fries, etc.  So that 30% reduction in calories could end up translating to a 50% reduction in carbohydrates.  The dieters attribute any weight loss to cutting calories, when in fact cutting their carb intake in half might have triggered hormonal changes that made the weight loss possible.

Fair point.  But we have to apply the same logic to a low-carb diet.  When we decide to drastically reduce carbohydrates, most of us immediately give up wheat and sugar – both of which (if Robert Lustig and Paul Jaminet are correct) can induce insulin or leptin resistance.  Jaminet wrote this in the Perfect Health Diet book:

Wheat germ agglutinin binds to insulin receptors, triggering an insulin-like effect.  It is as effective as insulin at pushing glucose into cells and stopping the release of fat from fat cells.  This means eating wheat may block weight loss and promote weight gain, regardless of how many calories are eaten overall.

Almost every modern book on low-carb dieting also presents evidence to convince the reader that processed vegetable oils are garbage and should be replaced with natural saturated fats, which are beneficial.  So when people go on a low-carb diet, they give up what I consider the three worst offenders in the Standard American Diet:  gluten-containing grains, sugar and processed vegetable oils.  Meanwhile, formerly forbidden but nutrient-dense foods like eggs go back on the low-carb dieter’s menu.

So people make the big dietary shift, they lose weight, feel great, and their health improves.  We attribute that to giving up carbs.  But applying Gary Taubes’ logic, what if most of the health benefits come from giving up sugar, wheat and vegetable oils and replacing them with more meats, eggs and butter — and not so much from giving up potatoes and other “safe starches” that happen to be real foods containing real nutrients?

If so, then the real question here is: are people who switch from a high-carb frankenfood diet to a low-carb paleo diet better off with or without a potato to go along with their steak and broccoli?  Will they be healthier consuming no starches at all, or including small servings of “safe starches” in their diets?

That question always seems to spark a bit of dietary tribalism.  When Richard Nikoley announced a few years ago that he considers potatoes a paleo food and was eating them again, some of his readers replied that they were unsubscribing from his blog and would no longer read it.

Really? Because the guy eats home fries with his eggs?

In comments on my last post, I noticed some people resist the idea that anyone might actually become healthier by re-introducing small servings of safe starches or that perhaps they’re better off eating a bit of glucose instead of manufacturing it from protein or fat.  If you can’t live without potatoes, then by gosh, it means you’re sick, or carb-addicted, or giving into social pressure, or whatever.

Ugh. That’s the attitude I see (and don’t much like) among so many vegans:  this works for me, so damnit, it should work for you too, and if it doesn’t, there’s something wrong with you – morally if not physically.

As I said in one of my replies, we shouldn’t label ourselves and then cling to a diet or a belief in order to continue wearing the label.  This is about finding what works best for you, period.  There is no diet that’s ideal for everyone – and I’d say that about the Perfect Health Diet as well.  Let’s review what Chris Kresser said about safe starches:

I see a fair number of patients in my practice struggling with symptoms like hair loss, cold hands and feet, plateaued weight loss, low energy and mood imbalances after following a VLC diet for several months… In cases where there is no significant metabolic damage, when I have these folks increase their carbohydrate intake (with starch like tubers and white rice, and fruit) to closer to 150g a day, they almost always feel better. Their hair loss stops, their body temperature increases and their mood and energy improves.

Put some starch back in the diet, their health gets better.  Do we really want to tell those people they’re sick or carb-addicted and should stick to a diet that’s causing them to feel lousy and lose their hair?  I’m reminded of the old Vaudeville bit:

“Doctor, it hurts when I do this!”

“Then don’t do that.”

Those people need to stop doing that.  They need to switch from VLC to something like a Perfect Health Diet.  On the other hand, Kresser also said this:

In other cases, any increase in carbohydrate intake – in any form – will cause weight gain and other unpleasant symptoms.

Those are the people who shouldn’t adopt a Perfect Health Diet.  “Safe” starches aren’t safe for them.  I’ve heard from a few people (including Jimmy Moore) that consuming 100 grams or so of “safe starches” per day triggered a wild increase in their appetites and a craving for way more than those 100 grams.  Those are the true carb addicts, not the people who feel better after eating a potato with dinner.  And as addicts, yes, they should stay away from the foods that trigger the desire to binge.

When I decided to move my own diet towards more of a Perfect Health Diet, my reasoning boiled down to this:  I don’t see a downside, and I might be better off.  The “better off” part is mostly about gut health, for all the reasons I explained in my previous post. My new and improved diet is doing a better job of feeding my gut bacteria, and the rewards so far have been better digestion, deeper sleep and more energy – especially in the morning, when I’m not usually known for my peppy personality.

Back in the day, the downside would have been a glucose spike after eating a potato.  But after starting a protocol of resistant starch and probiotics (and cooking and cooling potatoes before reheating them), that isn’t happening.  If I eat a potato with dinner, my glucose peaks around 125 and then drops into the 90s.  My fasting glucose has fallen a bit too. My appetite and weight both increased a bit when I started eating more starches, then returned to normal.

So with a possible upside and no apparent downside, why the heck wouldn’t I eat a potato?

It hasn’t been a drastic change.  My diet is still high-fat and low-carb, just not as low-carb as before.  On most days, I’ll have a potato or sweet potato with lunch and another with dinner.  So instead of sausage and eggs, I’ll have eggs and a potato.  Or sausage and a potato.  I’ve had rice a few times, but frankly I don’t enjoy rice all that much.  I find it rather bland and unsatisfying.

The one real treat I’ve added – mostly on weekends – is Udi’s gluten-free bread, which makes nice, crunchy toast.  It’s made from tapioca and rice flour, the kind of flours Dr. Davis warns his Wheat Belly readers can seriously spike blood-sugar levels, so I checked my post-meal reaction a few times.  Nope, no big deal.  Up to around 120 or so, then back down to the 90s an hour later.

Meanwhile, the girls are quite happy that we’re including potatoes in more of our meals.  Last weekend, I made hash browns with onions fried in macadamia oil, melted some cheddar cheese on top, then served over-easy eggs on top of the hash browns.  Sara declared it the best breakfast ever and requested that I make it every Saturday.

Since there are potatoes in the house again, I also taught her to mimic the one line from an old Michael Nesmith comedy skit about learning Irish as a second language:  “My, that’s a foin sack ‘o’ potaaatoes.”  (You have to say it with a thick brogue.)

I don’t bother weighing or counting, but I’m probably not quite up to a Perfect Health Diet intake of starch.  I still like my meats, eggs and vegetables and they’re still the biggest components of my diet.  Toss in two medium potatoes, and it’s only about 60 or 70 grams of starch.  I don’t feel any need or desire to go higher.

So far the results have all been positive, but I’ll let you know if that changes.  Like I said, this is about finding what works, not wearing any particular dietary label.

Meanwhile, Paul Jaminet is receiving your questions and will probably have his answers ready next week.

133 Responses to “Safe Starches and Dietary Labels”
  1. js290 says:

    Why are people still talking about macro composition? Each person should simply measure their blood sugar response to various foods.

    What is Normal Blood Sugar?

    • Jillm says:

      My experiment: Lunch – rump steak with spinach fried in butter. Blood glucose 4.9. A few days later – baked beans on bread and two pieces of fruit. Blood glucose 11.2.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        I’d say that second lunch is off the menu.

      • gollum says:

        Eating (V)LC causes technical insulin resistance.
        Same reason OGTT must be administered after eating carbs for days.

        Still sceptical; bugs making insulin act better may however explain success of oat regimen for DM2. Which we all dismissed as “yeah eat cardboard instead of syrup BG improves DUH” which of course is a part of the answer.

    • Jackie says:

      I think I will look into this idea. I have reintroduced rice and I thought all was okay but today I had a good fist sized portion as recommended with PHD and found I was exhausted an hour later and then moody (defensive).

  2. Your almost wonderful article reminded me of my first semester calculus class from circa 1984, and that part right after discovering the shortcut to figuring out the area under a curve. We call that “taking the integral,” of course, and learned that, while derivatives can get you from point A exactly to point B, integrals can only go from point B back around the general vicinity of point A, but not exactly.

    If I haven’t lost you, the point of this story is that when taking the integral of anything, you always have to include “+ C” in your answer. If you don’t add “+ C” in your answer, your answer is wrong. Every time. Wrong. No C, no credit. No ticki, no washy.

    The same with your discussion. I am a type one diabetic and I’m sure there are others just like me in your audience. As well as just a few type twos. We cannot add the safe starches as easily as everyone else, the T1s even less so than the T2s. All your posts about the subject are wrong unless you always, always, always include some sort of disclosure–the + C of nutrition–to those discusions. Add some safe starches, but if you’re a type 2 diabetic, be very careful. If you’re a type one diabetic, you will definitely have to increase your insulin dose, so think extra carefully about it before you add those additional carbohydrates. Even better, go with the RS and skip the other “safe” starches.

    It wouldn’t only make me and your other diabetics happy, it won’t only make us feel included, it will make your answers correct.

    Thank you, best wishes, humbly… – lc

    • Tom Naughton says:

      We would definitely want to reconsider all the calculations for diabetics of either type.

    • Bret says:

      Sounds to me like somebody thinks Tom owes diabetics a special accounting of “how to apply these remarks.” If indeed that is true, I find that position wholly unreasonable.

      There are a lot of pathological conditions affecting metabolism in some way–epilepsy, gout, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disorders, and so on. Diabetes is just one type (okay, two types). Maybe I have Hashimoto’s disease, and I am a regular reader of Tom’s blog. Is it reasonable in the least of me to suggest he should always mention how a particular dietary angle might affect me? Of course not, and I don’t see any difference for diabetics.

      We are all responsible for taking care of ourselves. It would be foolish to pin that responsibility onto someone else who is just sharing information. In fact, a big reason we’re in this modern mess is that so many of us did exactly that (“Well, if the USDA says to eat 300-400 g of carbohydrate a day and avoid animal fat…”).

  3. Stephen B says:

    Tom, I agree with what you’re saying. I stayed on VLC for too long – about a year or so. I think I should have come off that diet as soon as the weight plateaued. I have a copy of the Perfect health Diet and need to give it another read. I have just planted a shed load of potatoes in the back garden so please don’t change your mind again before the autumn (Fall)!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      If I change my mind again, Chareva won’t be happy with me. She’s planting a bunch of potatoes too.

  4. John Myers says:

    Eat real food. That’s 90% of good health. We can speculate about the other 10% but I think the ‘Eat real food’ bit is crucial. Blood sugar response is crucial as js290 says.
    Listen to your pants.

  5. Lori Miller says:

    Re: potatoes as a paleo food. Loren Cordain devotes a whole chapter on potatoes in The Paleo Answer. He says that potatoes have saponins, which can penetrate the intestine, especially in people who have diseases of chronic inflammation. Traditionally, certain varieties of potatoes had to be frozen, soaked and dried to detoxify them.

    I agree that some people shouldn’t eat potatoes just because of the carbohydrates. After all, you can use a plain baked potato to give yourself a home glucose test. http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/14046889.php

  6. Nads says:

    As well as my own reaction to the very low carb diet, I have known what you are saying to be true for quite some time. Here in Australia many followers of the books (by David Gillespie) Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies have lost weight and regained health just by cutting out sugar and vegetable oils and introducing a good amoint of proper fats.

    A while back I found that I felt best and my appetite was least when I cycled in and out of mild ketosis. I am part of an LCHF group and there is so much resistance to resistant starch and upping carbs. Some dominant members have most convinced that they need to do under 20g of carbs, and be in deep ketosis. It just doesn’t suit everyone but the ones it does suit just do not have the insight or empathy to realise it doesn’t work the same way for everyone., and they tell people they aren’t doing it right and have to drop carbs even further It is exasperating!! I no lomger feel I belong in the group, but do feel I am still LCHF.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      So their reply to “Doctor it hurts when I do this” is “Then do it even more.” Not a good idea.

    • js290 says:

      As Ron Rosedale has pointed out before, it’s not “ketosis” per se that you want. It’s the utilization of the ketone bodies as fuel. This may be why it was observed that the Inuits were not in ketosis. Ketosis is the unused ketone bodies. It’s probably incorrect to conclude the Inuits were on a “high protein” diet.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        According to the studies Nikoley referenced, Inuit men consumed an average of 240 grams of protein per day. That’s high protein in my book.

    • Marg says:

      Couldn’t have said it better.

  7. Nads says:

    Something I owuld love is more informed information about the cooking of various foods that have potential safe starches eg can unripe bananas be heated and still retain their resistant starch, is it actually true that cooked and cooled potatoes can be made into fries, are chips ok if they are made with ok oils? How much do potatoes need to be cooked before they can produce resistant starch ie cooked fully to soft? Or just blanched or par cooked? I have heard elsewhere that sweet potatoes aren’t a good source of RS. Are pumpkins (we eat them a lot in Australia – I think you may call them squash) a good source of RS, and is it the same thing with cooling them? How about white v brown rice?

    Are all these questions answered in either Chris Kressers or Paul Jaminet’s books?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      No, the PHD book doesn’t get into RS to that extent. However, Richard, Tim and Grace are working on a book all about RS.

      The Jaminets recommend white rice instead of brown rice. Apparently the toxins in rice are in the brown husk.

      • js290 says:

        Brown rice and sorghum causes psoriasis for me within hours of ingesting food that came in contact with either one. Takes two weeks for the skin to clear back up.

        I suspect my brown rice eating years probably also caused my receding gums.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        RE: Brown vs. White rice. At least in this country white rice is “enriched”. From my reading they use too much iron[1] for men and not enough for periodic women and folic acid instead of folate. As we age folic acid accumulates, because the conversion slows down and folic acid is toxic. The other nutrients are out of balance.

        For these reasons and others Dr.Paul Jaminet advises washing the white rice before eating.

        Perhaps the advantage of whole grains is avoiding the “enrichment????

        [1] Shooting at two targets with one bullet is generally considered inadvisable. This is why their are different
        vitamin supplements for men and periodic women even in the cheapest brands.

  8. Nads says:

    From last post – And how about rice crackers? And reheating rice noodles? How about konjac noodles?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      No idea on those. If I tried them, I’d check my glucose reaction and decide from there.

    • NancyM says:

      Konjac noodles are made with glucomannan. Not a resistant starch, but they’re indigestible (for you) and they’ll make your gut-bugs happy. I think glucomannan was mentioned several times in Tom’s interviews.

      I make “pudding” out of glucomannan.

  9. Azurean says:

    Nikoley was the one focusing on Inuits in the first place, I don’t remember them being the bread-and-butter (well, only butter) argument for very low-carb, just one “see, it’s possible” example among others.

    Anyway, let’s forget Inuits and talk about paleo starch sources. The wild tubes my European ancestors ate before agriculture had between 5% and 8% carbohydrates, were small, and had a boatload of fiber to turn into fat. Potatoes you buy in markets today have between 25% and 30% carbohydrates, are as big as your fist, and don’t contain much fiber. The “cook and cool” trick only marginally increases the resistant starch content (3.6% cooked to 4.3% cool, see http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-04/fi-rsc042513.php)

    That being said, I don’t have that much of a grudge against safe/resistant/whatever starches, if that works for you then it’s great. I would never had joined this debate if Jaminet and Nikoley didn’t take the “very low-carb will kill you” marketing approach.

    • js290 says:

      Yeah, I kind of wonder if those who have hair falling out and such, whether they were simply in a state of under nutrition. And, if by adding more starch sources, what they really did was simply add adequate amounts of food back to their diets. That is, would they have seen the same result by simply eating more of anything (fat or protein or carbs)?

      • Tom Naughton says:

        That’s another version of “they weren’t doing it right.” Since these people were working with Chris Kresser to straighten out their diets, I think it’s highly unlikely he wouldn’t have noticed if the problem was simply that they weren’t eating enough. I think it’s more likely that some people really and truly don’t do well on a very-low-carb diet, no matter how many calories they consume.

        • js290 says:

          I guess my point is we can’t know for certain what they were doing. All we’ve heard is that some starches were added back. But, was it as an addition to or in replacement of other things? Were they eating other things that may be sensitive to but attribute it to VLC?

          It’s like Dr. Mary Vernon asking whose “Atkins diet” people are on. In general, we have to be careful about committing equivocation fallacy. It’s not logically possible for a well formulated ketogenic diet to be therapeutic and not-therapeutic at the same time.

          • Tom Naughton says:

            But it’s entirely possible for the same well-formulated ketogenic diet to be therapeutic for you and problematic for someone else. Kresser is all about diet and health and tailoring the diet to the individual. So again, I think it’s unlikely that those patients would have done just fine on a very-low-carb diet if only he’d noticed a missing nutrient or a sensitivity to some other food that they coincidentally stopped eating when they were told to add potatoes to their diets.

            You keep coming back to some version of the “they didn’t do it right” argument. I take it that means you don’t want to accept that some people might actually need a bit of starch in their diets to avoid health problems?

            • Michael says:

              ‘You keep coming back to some version of the “they didn’t do it right” argument.’

              I would have to say though that this goes for both ‘camps’. I’ve seen instances on FTA where someone who reports positive results within 10 minutes of first use — I kid you not, 10 minutes — is hailed as yet more evidence of PS’s wondrous powers, but someone who reports problems after trying for 3 weeks is told they didn’t try long enough or weren’t doing it right.

              Really, I think it’s just human nature to respond like this. Moreover, it could actually be true in many cases.

            • js290 says:

              A little bit of alcohol probably makes an alcoholic feel better, too, right? 🙂

              As I’ve said in the first response, each person should measure their BG response to the various foods they eat.

              But, I’m not convinced starch is some magical cure to hair falling out. I suspect hair falling out is probabaly a sign of deeper nutritional problems that’s associated with people with who use VLC diets to help solve other health issues.

              Nature would be pretty schizo to misuse a better fuel by making it both good and bad for you at the same time.

              From a metabolic flexibility perspective, the real question for me is how much glucose impairs one’s ability to effectively burn fat? This is the individual variability, but that’s what the BG meter is for. 🙂


              • Tom Naughton says:

                So the answer to my question is yes. Anyone who doesn’t thrive on a very-low-carb diet is somehow doing it wrong or has some other metabolic problem going on, because nobody, absolutely nobody, would need any starch in the diet to avoid thyroid problems or other health issues. It’s got to be something else. Does that sum it up?

  10. Martin says:

    I am myself now experimenting with resistant starches and carb refeeds once a week (following Kiefer’s carbnite), and before I had stayed on a ketogenic diet for >3 years.

    According to Kiefer, it’s the insuline spike rather than carbs themselves that are important (unless one is an athlete and needs to replenish glycogen). Therefore I am avoiding adding fats to my carb dinners not to blunt the glucose and insulin spikes.

    I wonder to what extent, the extra starches are a good thing NOT because they supply carbs that are supposedly required for thyroid health and other processes, but because they 1) supply resistant starches, and (2) they lead to insulin spikes which, if occurring sporadically rather than chronically, increase insulin and leptin sensitivity.

  11. Stephen says:

    So when you initially cook them do you boil them nd then to re-heat do you fry them in butter? Also how long is it ok to leave them in the refrigerator for? A day? Two max?

    Really enjoyed this post as well as the last few info dense posts, fun reads.

    Go raibh maith agat (your ancestors know what that means!)

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I do the lazy version. I peel them and then nuke them. Then I stick them in the fridge. The Jaminets wrote in the book that they’ll cook a bunch of potatoes and stick them in fridge for the upcoming week, so I guess several days is fine. I’ve always eaten mine within two days, so I can’t say what a week would do to the texture. I can say freezing them makes them rubbery.

    • edella says:

      I boil my potatoes in my sous vide, as its sometimes under-utilised just ministering to me. No expensive plastic bag, just floating around in the water. I cook them at exactly the right temperature to cook a potato, but not more on the boil which might crumble them, which is why the sous vide is better than a pot if you are absent-minded. . And I cook them just long enough that they are done but not overcooked. Then they sit with their skins on in the fridge. I shred or cut them as needed, maybe remove the skins (or not) and they fry up perfectly for breakfast. Or I oil the skins and they make very speedy and floury baked potatoes. Or I use them cold for potato salad, I’m a type 2 diabetic so tend to have safe-ish starches and sugary roots like carrot in the morning in case more insulin is needed later on. I’m gradually increasing the basal insulin but there hasn’t been any great need so far for tons more fast acting insulin, no monumental spikes. a wonderful excuse to have a taste! (Arran pilot arrived this week, reddish purple and meant for baking…)But its early days yet, and all about trying things out. In the UK, a very good supermarket is selling little 1kg bags of posh heritage potatoes, so its a terrific excuse to have a taste!

  12. Restist_This! says:

    Eating a 310g (after baking) potato for lunch with sour cream. Curious to see what by BG will do. Potato Starch has brought the fasting numbers down, though not in the 80’s yet.

    This post has summed up exactly what I’ve come to believe, but much better than I could have written. Everyone gets put in different nutritional camps, either from others’ or from their own choosing. It’s just like politics – kool-aid drinkers attack anyone not towing the line 100%. And just like how I have one foot in the conservative camp and one foot in the libertarian camp, I’m split between LCHF, paleo and PHD (which I just bought). I see PHD as the libertarians…a little from all the groups but more logically consistent and less extreme. Not nearly as much cognitive dissonance, irrationality, and unwarranted “party” loyalty that you see in conservative/liberal/vegan/LCHF groups.

    I still read/listen to material from all of these groups and if it has merit, I’ll incorporate it into my ‘diet’, whatever name someone wants to give it. WFLCSS – Whole Food Low Carb w/Safe Starch? 😉

    Rant over.

    Beans – I realize they don’t have as much RS as potatoes, but why don’t we hear more about them in the new WFLCSS movement?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      The Jaminets actually advise their readers to avoid most beans. They call beans “almost grains.”

  13. ProudDaddy says:


  14. Tammy says:

    Tom – I like your post and it’s 100% true. I look at it in the frame of Weston Price – people all over the world eating all sorts of traditional diets and remaining perfectly healthy. I view the whole spectrum of Atkins/Paleo/Primal/PH Diet/Weston Price as all low carb compared to SAD anyway. I’m a big fan of the original Atkins diet as it worked great for me but Induction is only the first two weeks when you reset your body. I eat rice, I love sushi. Potatoes I never have liked so I don’t worry about it but I don’t fault anyone for eating them. They are real food, no manufactured in some factory in NJ after all.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I think Weston A. Price got it right too. It’s about nutrient density more than anything else. Eat a diet that provides all the necessary nutrients, and it will almost certainly be quite a bit lower in carbs than the Standard American Diet, which is based largely on nutrient-poor grains.

  15. Kathy from Maine says:

    I’m almost through reading PHD, and find it fascinating, especially all the scientific studies he mentions. The one that blew me away is in Chapter 8 under the heading “Nutrients Are Not Food.” In one study, one set of lab mice/rats were fed “chow” (seeds, grains, beans, and alfalfa, foods similar to what rodents eat in the wild) and another set were fed a “purified-nutrient diet” (protein, starch, sugar, fiber, fat, vitamins, and minerals). The rodents that ate the purified-nutrient diets were worse off in terms of health and it often made them fat. He goes on to say these types of diets are unhealthy because they’re malnourishing, as they are lacking in many of the trace nutrients that are found in real food. He then makes the connection between that and what many (definitely not all) people do when trying to lose weight: they start relying on shakes and meal replacement bars. Guilty as charged!

    Quick question. I made mashed potatoes the other night. I used white “boiling” potatoes and boiled them in their skins. Then I refrigerated them overnight. Next night I peeled several of the potatoes and mashed them with butter and some heavy cream, and then nuked them. Three minutes on medium brought the temp up to around 110 degrees, which was plenty hot enough to melt butter on top. So far, so good. But then we ate them. They were gluey and tasted pretty bad.

    Did I use the wrong kind of potato?

    I looked up online which potatoes to use for which purpose, and the site said to use “waxy” potatoes (also called boiling potatoes) with a thin skin for hashed browns and potato salads. It said to save russets for baked potatoes.

    I also tried to use one of the cooked and cooled potatoes for hashed browns this morning, but it didn’t shred very well and tasted pretty bad. Wrong texture or something.

    Any advice here?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Not sure if the type of potato makes a difference. For hash browns, I shredded them raw, then nuked them for about 2 1/2 minutes. Then I cooled them in the fridge. Then I fried them in macadamia oil and they tasted great. Good texture too.

      • edella says:

        The type of potato makes ALL the difference, or at least so my -I-l from Lancashire said. She was very specific when buying potatoes, and bought the variety for the specific dish. She was quite scornful towards lazy south cost cooks who thought the only names for a potato were ‘white’ or ‘red’. My current experiments tell me that a mashed potato is for pleasure not RS. Cooling just doesn’t improved a mashed or baked potato as far as I’m concerned. My hash browns come out OK, but I think this is where the sous vide comes in, because I’m able to usually avoid overcooking them and triggering the dread glue reaction. (I suspect the vast quantities of onion and duck fat that I add to the shredded potatoes also helps.)

        • Kathy from Maine says:

          I had it wrong about choosing boiling potatoes when making mashed potatoes. I found the following list online. Prior to going LC around 1998, my potato of choice was the Russet for everything. Seemed to make the best baked, mashed, and potato salad potato all around.

          Best for baking: russet potato

          Best for potato salads, gratins, and scalloped potatoes: russet, new potato, red-skinned potato, white round potato

          Best for mashing: russet potato, Yukon gold potato

          Best for soups and chowders: Yukon gold potato, red-skinned potato, white round potato

          Best for pan-frying: red-skinned potatoes, white round potatoes, new potatoes, and fingerling potatoes

          Best for French fries: russet potato

          Best for purees: fingerling potatoes

          Best for roasting: new potatoes

          Best for steaming: new potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes

          Best for potato pancakes: russet potato, Yukon Gold potato

          To answer Erica, a “boiling potato” is simply a small white potato with a thin skin. I won’t buy these again, though, because they turn to glue when mashed.

          BTW, I’m beginning to think that at least some of my current issues were caused by my many years of very-low-carb eating (30 grams or fewer of carbs). Not that I’ll ever admit that in public! 🙂

          • Kristin says:

            Kathy, you got it figured out. The floury potatoes are primo for baking and for mashed potatoes.

            I’ve been experimenting with mashed potatoes making about a two cup finished batch and reheating for 4-6 servings nor more than one a day. I hadn’t heard about mashers being exempt from RS but I can say that I haven’t had an appreciable BS rise.

            I have not had gluey potatoes even on several reheatings. My method is to well boil the peeled potatoes, add a lot of butter and some cream cheese and mash them. Then add a little cream to get the consistency. I then cool and put in fridge. I reheat a serving on the stove over low heat in a heavy-walled small saucepan (I have an All-clad butter warmer that is outstanding for reheating for just me.) It may be all the fat or the controlled reheat on the stove but every serving tastes fabulous.

    • Roy GA says:

      I’ve heard that mashed potatoes can get gluey if you over-whip them, like with an electric mixer.

    • Erica says:

      I make mashed potatoes with Russet potatoes and they are great. I haven’t tried boiling and cooling them first, though that experiment is on my agenda. What is a ‘boiling’ potato? I find that red skin potatoes are too waxy for mashed, but do make great potato salad.

      Tom, thanks for that little tutorial in making hash browns. I wondered how to do it!

    • Elle says:

      You may have overcooked the potatoes to begin with. The starches exploded and made a gluey texture. Boil them a bit less and be a little more gentle in the mashing. Waxy potatoes are more prone to this.

  16. Mike says:


    Thanks for an interesting series of posts. The Jaminets owe my download of their book to you.

    I’ve read on a few other blogs (MDA, Dr. Attia) about the same general idea. Incorporating a few starches/carbs back into the diet with at least initial good results.

    Do you think the effect may be different depending where you are in the “correcting my screwed up energy metabolism/insulin resistance” journey?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Absolutely. I think the effects can also be different because of genetic heritage, without there necessarily being any damage to correct.

  17. Dave L says:

    I always figured that eating for health and wellness should never become a religion. There can be room for the occasional “cheat” junk food. And it’s all too possible to become overdependent on a small set of “health” foods. For example, although I love almond flour, surely having it at every meal in some form might not be a good idea.

    I can apparently eat some starches and a small amount of sugars without weight gain. I even like sprouted grain wheat bread, just not 6-11 servings daily as suggested by the government. And that’s the whole point: I’m still consuming nowhere near the amount of carbohydrates, especially refined carbs, that I did a few years ago.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      That’s why I like Mark Sisson’s 80/20 rule, although I’d add the caveat that if the occasional cheat sparks a binge, you shouldn’t cheat at all.

      • Elenor says:

        I had a huge laugh the other day: I had worked very hard to lead a friend into going Paleo (we did a 30-day challenge — and then tried to keep on being somewhat strict after it). I kept telling him, leading up to it, about Mark Sisson and “his 80/20 rule.”

        A week or so after the challenge — I heard a podcast with Mark where he ruefully pointed out that he did NOT say it was okay to go for 80% strict — he said to SHOOT for 100 and you’ll probably hit 80… (I don’t remember if he said — or if my friend and I concluded — that shooting for 80 probably means only hitting 60!)

  18. Boundless says:

    “It’s made from tapioca and rice flour, the kind of flours Dr. Davis warns his Wheat Belly readers can seriously spike blood-sugar levels, so I checked my post-meal reaction a few times. Nope, no big deal. Up to around 120 or so, then back down to the 90s an hour later.”

    Couple of remarks on that:

    1. Davis advocates a fasting BG no higher than 90, and a postprandial no higher than 100, but optimally NO RISE at all postprandial. The numbers you’ve reported for yourself would likely raise eyebrows at both the Davis and Perlmutter offices. There’s also HbA1c to consider, and home testers are available for that. The Davis/Perlmutter target: 5.0% max.

    2. Rice contains wheat germ agglutinin, which appears in your PHD quote above. There is apparently no lower limit of toxicity for this stuff. Some UK researchers looked into using WGA as a carrier for a drug they were working on, but first did some WGA safety testing. It failed.

    I suspect that in the future BG target ranges are going to shift. But my bet is down rather than up. Personally, I don’t even test my own, but I’m planning to, just out of curiosity.

  19. JD says:

    It’s really hard not to eat what’s considered a low carb diet when you give up processed sugar/starches, vegetable oils, legumes, and wheat products. If you wanted to eat a high carb diet with those restrictions you would have to do something like the 30 bananas a day route, and it’s really really hard to eat than volume of food on a daily basis.

    When I was 25 I went on the South Beach diet, which is a lower fat low carb diet. The weight just melted off at a ridiculous rate, even with my one cheat meal a week. Now at 35 I find if I want to lose weight without exercising I really need to do the ketogenic route and lower both carbs and protein. I became convinced after reading Jimmy Moore’s n=1 posts that this might be the case (for those that don’t know after gaining 10-15 lbs a year eating a low carb diet he spent a year making sure he was in ketosis by measuring blood ketones and lost it all). I also suspect this would be the case for most people as long as there are no thyroid or other hormone issues. So I think there is something to Taube’s logic of the lower the carbs the lower the weight, but I also think 90% of the health benefits of a low carb diet come from giving up process flours and sugars, vegetable oils, wheat products, and for those that are sensitive but might not know it legumes.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It’s all about individual variability, like Chris Kresser pointed out. Some people lose more weight if they include a few starches, probably because of a better-functioning thyroid. Others like you and Jimmy gain weight if they include any starches. So we’ve all got to find what works for us, then avoid falling into the mental trap of thinking if it works for me, it should work for everyone.

  20. Katja says:

    I am so glad that you are one of the few not sticking to self inflicted dogmas. Life is not black and white, why should anything else be that way. I have never followed a very strict low carb diet, but I stuck to real foods. I just felt better that way. And I just shook my head at people (like some vegans) always followed up on issues and concerns with “I must not be doing it right, I need to be even stricter”. I once read about a woman who decided to be soooo low carb that she would eat nothing but steak. Every day. This sounds like another form of an eating disorder. And I would rather live shorter than living that restrictedly day in and day out.

    I am glad to see that my instincts overall are somewhat confirmable with data. Sometimes trusting intuition and instinct is frowned upon, but so far listening to my desires and body has worked well for me.

    My major change over the last few years was to accept that bread is “highly processed” and thus does not cound as real food. As a German that is equal to blasphemie and my parents are in shock. I generally do not eat replacement breads as I personally do not miss it that much, although, there are instances where I made pancakes for kids and family utilizing other forms of flour. Occassionally, I buy gluten free bread for the family, but generally not so much. I am just not very good with or like replacement foods. But I think everyone needs to determine their own way of healthy living. There is no black and white as I stated before.

    What I find the strangest is how difficult it is to get the generation before me to accept that dietary advice is changing. My partents in law still believe eggs and butter are the devil and should only be consumed on a rare occassion — Apparently, deviled eggs are called that way for a reason. They cook fat free (what the heck is fat free half and half?) and they think cereal is the best food possible. No matter what I say they think I am crazy or insane or both. So, I will stop talking soon.

    My mother drives me equally crazy with her re-assuance that “she did not really need meat with her meal” like she always feels she needs to apologize for eating any. I would rather her not apologize, but buy her animal products consciously and humanly. I am ok with not eating meat every day or not at all if it works for you, but do not always apologize for what you eat.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      “Self-inflicted dogma” is an excellent description for what some people do to themselves.

  21. Lindy says:

    I have read (not only) the last 2 post & listened to the podcast (Jimmy Moore) and decided to add some safe starch back in to my diet. Some days I just flat run out of energy. And it is all about what works for us as individuals. Thanks for the great explanation.

  22. Even the Atkins diet talks about introducing carbohydrates back into the diet as long as they can be tolerated. Unfortunately, I think I’m one of those carb sensitive folks who need to stay in induction.

    Paleo folks are hard to nail down because they’re so splintered. I like the idea of paleo being a template rather than a diet. Otherwise you get all sorts of nuttiness like sugar is bad because it’s not ancestral, but bananas are okay even though bananas were first domesticated around 8,000-9,000 years ago. I don’t cringe at the idea of resistant starch because by definition it shouldn’t increase blood sugar. By the same token, I don’t cringe at resistant starch from corn, either. Unless there’s evidence that corn-based resistant starch has side effects nightshade-based resistant starch doesn’t, I’m more than happy to view them equally.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      My beef with the hi-maize RS people isn’t so much that it comes from corn, it’s that they’re promoting it as a method of adding a wee bit of RS to muffins and other junk to turn them into “health food.”

  23. kats612 says:

    Tom, I am just loving these latest blogs! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have purchased PHD and will read it on the cruise (that you’re not going to be on! Darn it! I was looking forward to meeting you and Chareva!)

    I don’t want to start anything new just prior to vacationing, but will give this some serious thought once we get home. This is exciting stuff and I probably would not have ventured into this “unknown” realm had you not blogged about it. I have many of the issues that others have experienced going very low carb, such as cold hands and feet, hypothyroid, low energy…where I used to have high energy when I first started. Also, my weight has slowly been creeping back up over the last 2 years. So, for me, this is very exciting! And not just so I can have potatoes again! lol

    Thanks again 🙂

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Sorry I won’t meet you on the cruise this year, but I hope PHD turns out to be what you need. Sounds like you fit the profile of the person who does better with a bit of starch in the diet.

  24. Bret says:

    I admire Jimmy Moore for showcasing people whose beliefs are not 100% the same as his own–otherwise, we turn into a religious congregation, as Dave L aptly analogized above. On the specific topic of RS, Jimmy said he would like to conduct another n=1 experiment with such a focus. That blogger who thinks you two are in a rift over RS probably ought to get his/her head examined and learn to daydream less.

    I have noticed a fairly deep mid-morning tiredness recently, accompanied sometimes by difficulty concentrating, despite eating an extremely low-carb diet. My initial suspicion was that my daily 18-oz travel mug of coffee was wearing my adrenals down, but now I’m willing to bet that those symptoms were largely due to the gluconeogenesis I was forcing my body to undertake. I’ll explore the latter experiment first (I love my coffee!).

    • Tom Naughton says:

      A little safe starch perhaps, some resistant starch, then see what happens.

      The blogger who thinks we’re in a rift has a suspicious mind, to put it mildly.

  25. Melissa Cline says:

    Would love a recipe post from Chareva about some of the starches you’ve added. Think some of the winter squashes would do well roasted on the grill kebab style?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      On the grill, I don’t know. She roasts various vegetables in the oven with a little olive oil and spice, and they’re delicious.

  26. Firebird says:

    Tom, have you considered using white rice as a breakfast cereal substitute? Cook it, cool it…add in cream, 1/2 & 1/2 or almond milk, vanilla extract, sweeten it any way you like.

    I didn’t find Udi’s bread but I picked up a loaf of EN-R-G’s rice/tapioca bread. It’s pretty good toasted w/butter but cold it falls apart.

  27. Carolyn Scilley says:

    Hi Tom! I really enjoyed this post. Though, I will not be incorporating white potatoes back into my diet, because I am sensitive to nightshades, I will be giving my husband potatoes again. He has lost the weight that he needed to lose, so now we will be adding some hash browns once a week and see how he does. He loves hash browns. I may add some sweet potato once in a while to my diet, because I really like them as well. I am one of those who’s hair has thinned on a very low carb diet. But when I gave up fish supplements, my hair quit thinning. It is much shinier and softer since I gave up most carbs however. Also my skin improved 100 percent. Also I am sure my age has played a role in my hair thinning since I am 57. I still feel 100 percent better on my present WOE than I ever felt eating higher carb. I was only eating 130 grams of carb on most days before I started this, so I definitely cannot go back to that level without gaining. But I accept the fact that many people can, and they will do just fine at a higher level, if they eat the correct foods. Thanks again for your posts. I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I love the farming stuff also. I grew up on a farm and we grew all of our own vegetables, beef, pork, and eggs. Also we had venison and elk. Thanks again.

  28. Bunnywest says:

    Thank you, Tom, for putting this in terms that a non scientist can understand, and helping to explain my occasional overwhelming need for a baked potato! Every so often I just feel the need for one of those babies because I am sluggish and find it difficult to concentrate, and now I have Science to back what my body is telling me. Now if only someone could explain whether or not I can top that baby with sour cream and butter? (I’m getting differing answers to that one).
    Love your work 🙂

    • Tom Naughton says:

      The answer from the Jaminets in the PDH book would be yes, absolutely, cover that potato in good fats.

      • Kathy from Maine says:

        Except if you’re on their weight loss program. They say in Chapter 43 that calorie restriction to the point of hunger is unnecessary, and that one of the key steps for weight loss is to “eat normal PHD amounts of carbohydrates and protein; restrict fat.” A little later in the same chapter they give two examples:

        “Instead of using 2 to 4 tablespoons of fat or oil in cooking and causes, use at most 1 tablespoon per day. Instead of a large dollop of butter or sour cream on a baked potato, flavor it with a small pat of butter plus vinegar and salt.”

        “Replace fatty meats with somewhat leaner meats. When you have ribeye steak, instead of eating attached fat, trim excess fat.”

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Same idea as in “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living.” Protein stays the same, dietary fat intake goes down to lose weight — replacing dietary fat with body fat to maintain about the same energy proportions.

          • Firebird7478 says:

            In “The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance”, they say, “When in doubt, lower carb intake or INCREASE fat intake.” I’m guessing that applies to someone who is a LCHF marathon runner.

            I have a tough time with leaner cuts of beef. They’re much drier when they cook, and they don’t fill me up. That’s a big reason why I don’t eat a lot of fish.

  29. Jana says:

    For Lent my husband gave up grains to include rice, corn, wheat, oats and any others. In those 40 days he lost 10 lbs. this is rather unfortunate because it dropped him below a healthy weight and is now at 135 lbs. He has a very challenging time gaining weight, only successfully doing so when on anti-depressant medication, where in a month he gained 20 lbs. So, for all the light weights out there, how do they gain weight in a healthy manner? My husband is lactose intollerant and strongly dislikes the flavor of dairy, but will use butter. He is also allergic to sweeteners and is not interested in sweet foods.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Lots of whey protein and some weight-training if he’s up for it.

      • Jana says:

        Are there any brands of whey protein recommended. My husband won’t do sweet stuff or any with sweeteners added.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Not sure on that. The one we use is vanilla-flavored, so he probably wouldn’t like it.

        • PJ says:

          ‘Natural Factors’ brand, ‘Whey Factors’ type, ‘unflavored’ option. It is probably the best quality undenatured whey protein on the market and without the minor crappy ingredients nearly everything else has. The unflavored is truly unflavored, I’ve been using it in a supp shake for some time. It’s a little more expensive than most proteins but I think if one can afford it, it’s worth it.

  30. Mark says:

    Tom, You’re a Traitor! Or should a say tator? ;~) just kidding.

    You say you do not like rice but have you tried day old cold with a pat (or two) of melted butter mixed in? It’s pretty convenient and quite tasty…

    Also you mention that you gained weight at first when adding potatoes to your intake but then normalized back to your original weight. Would you attribute this to water retention from the carbs? Did you pants fit differently?

    The reason i ask is because I’ve added Bob’s potato starch 1-2 TBS a day to my intake along with occasional cold rice with butter to my diet and immediately gained weight. I included a probiotic (not soil based) as well but still had gas. I stopped the consumption of both the BPS and rice in fear of where i was headed.

    Your thoughts?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Could have been water weight, could have been an increase in gut flora. We have something like five pounds’ worth of those, from what I’ve read. The weight snapped back, so I didn’t worry about it.

  31. Boundless says:

    “As I said in one of my replies, we shouldn’t label ourselves and then cling to a diet or a belief in order to continue wearing the label.”

    Here are some labels for various tribes of food wonks:

    Dietary principles rule, period. Principles trump the consequences, even if the consequences are the exact opposite of the original intent. Adverse outcomes thus have to be due to factors other than the principles.

    Dietary principles also trump the consequences, but these people are at least willing to consider that their principles may have some adverse consequences that they’ll just have to deal with. Many meat avoiders fall into this category, due to legitimate dismay with CAFO meats.

    Authority=fact. These folks tend to get myopic about some authority opinion of what an ideal human diet is, perhaps supported by scattered papers that may or may not be flawed by confounding factors. These folks are resistant to being mistaken (which they may confuse with being “wrong”).

    Fact=authority. These folks go with the actual outcomes, and stay aware for indications of emerging issues. These folks experiment and measure, and are always willing to be mistaken.

    The one thing we’re really certain about in human nutrition at the moment is that the USDA’s “MyPlate of Metabolic Syndrome” is a disaster, for anyone, even though parroted in some degree by other “authorities” like National Diabetes Promotion and Maintenance Associations.

    Beyond that, we’re pretty much on our own, and there’s a huge amount to learn. Some developments will be false leads. We’re apt to end up at genotype-specific diets, and perhaps even a choice within that depending on the outcome blend desired (health, longevity, vitality and perhaps even convenience and cost).

  32. Troy Wynn says:

    It’s a puzzle.
    1. Pretty sure humans/carnivores and omnivores were not evolved to spike blood sugar on a consistent basis.
    2. Our ancestors ate plant food that was high in fiber. Back in those days I am betting there was little digestible carbohydrate in the plants (other than seasonal fruit, which most likely fattened them up for winters lean times), so chances are good it was primarily fiber, and perhaps gut feeding resistant fibers.
    3. The bulk of their energy came from fat.

    I am not sold so much on the safe starches, but I am on the resistant starches, or fibers to feed gut bugs as I see this as an unfortunate and important missing component to LCHF.

    Regardless, I am very dubious about having a lot of blood sugar (glucose) in the system.

    If you are doing an N=1, you may want to consider one variable at a time.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      From what I’ve read, there’s evidence that humans began eating tubers a long, long time ago … as in hundreds of thousands of years. But I agree we didn’t evolve to spike blood sugar on a consistent basis, and meat and fish were prized foods. According to the Jaminets in their Perfect Health Diet, the diets of hunter-gatherers were typically 15% to 40% carbohydrate, depending on the region. If we’re talking 20% of a 3000-calorie diet, that would work out to 150 carbs per day. Still on the low side.

      • Bryan Harris says:

        I like the idea that those early humans were very active. I would not be surprised if they needed quite a few carbs for all that activity but not 60% carbs (or whatever the USDA has been telling us non-active, sedentary folks to eat).

        Do they mention in Perfect Health Diet anything regarding what kinds of activities early humans may have practiced just on a day-to-day basis? For example, persistence hunting? Or is that before hunter-gatherers came along?

        • Tom Naughton says:

          The book didn’t get into what Paleo Man’s daily activities were. The Jaminets also state that fat should be our primary fuel, but we do need some glucose for the brain, red blood cells, and other tissues.

  33. ethyl d says:

    You mention the blandness of rice. The way to make rice taste good is to fry the grains for a few minutes before boiling it. Butter or meat drippings, whatever is on hand, get things off to a good start, and then when adding liquid to boil it, use meat broth or leftover liquid from pot roast or a roast chicken or the like. Or save the liquid from glazing a skillet after frying meat to boil the rice. Some water can be added if there aren’t enough meat juices. Then make sure it cooks long enough to form a light crust on the bottom. This procedure makes rice quite delicious. Not that we have to add rice to the diet, but all these meaty additions turn rice into something very tasty indeed if one has a desire for it.

  34. Pierson says:

    “I’ve heard from a few people (including Jimmy Moore) that consuming 100 grams or so of “safe starches” per day triggered a wild increase in their appetites and a craving for way more than those 100 grams”

    Doesn’t that sound a bit like the ‘bad’ craving vegans and some vegetarians can often have for animal proteins? Accordingly, seeing as how pretty much all known humans have had diets with at least 1\4th of their calories coming from carbs, maybe the glucose craving is a sign of a deficiency of sorts? Say what you will about your Irish ancestors, their oats, apples, berries, raw dairy and seaweed were fine sources of glucose, so they were hardly ketogenic.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Perhaps, but the vegans who give in to the urge to eat meat don’t end up eating 10 pounds per day of the stuff for the next month. But carb addicts will end up eating entire bags of potato chips or cookies, and I don’t think it’s to satisfy the need for missing nutrients at that point. It’s more akin to alcoholics who can’t stop drinking after a beer or two.

      I think few if any paleo people lived on diets that put them constantly in ketosis. Probably more like nipping around the edges of ketosis much of the time. Even with the addition of a potato or two to my diet, my morning ketone reading (when I check) is usually around 0.5, the low end of “nutritional” ketosis.

      When Richard Nikoley pointed out that the Inuit weren’t in ketosis according to three different studies, it immediately sparked a debate about how accurately ketones could be measure back when those studies were conducted. They were probably in ketosis, but the inferior urine strips didn’t detect it, etc., etc. I’m not buying that explanation, because the researchers were certainly capable of measuring protein intake, which they pegged at an average of 240 grams per day. Since pretty much everyone who tries a n=1 ketosis experiment ends up having to restrict protein (as instructed in the Volek and Phinney book), I’d say it’s unlikely people consuming 240 grams per day were in ketosis. By the time I restricted protein enough to get my ketones over the 1.0 mark, I didn’t much like the diet and gave up the experiment.

      • Pierson says:

        If anything, Nikoley’s work does show that long-term ketosis is not the natural state of any known Human population. That being said, it’s odd that one could have an addiction to carbs in a whole-foods context. Cookies, beer, and GMO potatoes (fried in seed oils and MSG) are one thing; organic fruit, veggies, honey, dairy, and tubers are another. It’s like finding someone who lives off of a vegan diet because of a compulsion to overeat animal proteins; while not impossible, given that these foods have been a part of our history for so long, it’s weird to see such a response in anyone

        • Tom Naughton says:

          It would be weird if we didn’t live a culture where people can seriously screw themselves up with Coca-cola and Little Debbie Snack Cakes. I doubt you’ll find a Kitavan who can’t stop stuffing himself with sweet potatoes, but I can certainly see where a former potato chip addict, to name one possibility, would be taking a risk eating potatoes. Some alcoholics can’t swish with mouthwash that contains alcohol without triggering a craving.

          • Pierson says:

            That must be the issue Denise Minger mentioned about ‘metabolic brokenness’. If it is the case that Jimmy Moore’s early life was loaded with refined, nutrient-poor, sugar-loaded garbage, than that does make some sense

            • Tom Naughton says:

              Unfortunately, that’s the case. Jimmy used to drink 12 Cokes per day and eat entire boxes of Little Debbie Snack Cakes. Let’s just say he’ll never have the metabolism of a Kitavan.

  35. Anna says:

    I’ll throw in another hot potato: honey.

    Apparently honey contains, apart from sugary stuff, scFOS (short chained fructooligosaccharides) which make it to the colon and feed friendly bacteria and has similar effect on blood sugar as RS. A couple of ancestral tribes (Hadza, Otjhima) live off honey, sometimes as much as 70% of their total energy intake comes from honey. Their very varied and apparently healthy gut flora is the subject of study, of course.

    I learned all this from Heisenbug’s blog and also the human food project. Very interesting. I will now search for a complete chemical profile of maple syrup and agave syrup.

    • Boundless says:

      > I’ll throw in another hot potato: honey.

      Even if it’s real honey, there’s much more downside than up. And the odds that it’s real honey are very low and getting lower every day. I go into more detail at:
      Wheat Free Forum > Food Elements > Honey

      > … maple syrup …

      Just discussed by Kris Gunnars this week at:

      > … and agave syrup.

      This junk should really be called “Extra High Fructose Agave Root Syrup”. It’s not extracted from the above-ground part of the plant (and the plant is destroyed, tequila fans). It’s made by the same process as HFCS and may be as high as 90% free fructose. I discovered it was perfect for making a margarita about 10 days before learning what it really was, and the hazards of fructose :(. Fortunately, stevia works just as well.

      • Anna says:

        Correct, neither agave nor maple syrup make the cut wrt oligosaccharides. Too bad. My kids really like maple syrup.

        And yes, you do have to look for *real* honey. Maybe get yourself a beehive of two? 🙂

        And of course, the very carb sensitive probably do better avoiding honey all together.

        However, the young ones in my family will from now on get more honey and less of other sweet stuff.

      • Kristin says:

        I use a little local raw honey especially after the holidays and into the spring to help control seasonal allergies. Seems to help quite a bit. It isn’t hard to find real honey if you stick to local producers.

        I had not heard of the possibility of honey being beneficial to the gut. I’ll have to check that out.

  36. Gilana says:

    Sorry if you’ve answered this already, Tom: You’re baking, cooling, then reheating your potatoes–are you then consuming the skin, or not?

  37. Christopher says:

    So, I noticed the other day when I was feeling particularly wiped out and groggy, (a not uncommon feeling I must admit, after being on a VLC diet for a year or so now) I had a meal that included a small portion of funeral potatoes. We were waiting for family members to arrive and as a result the potato dish was allowed to cool to near room temperature before I consumed them. A couple of hours after that meal, I felt great! My bias towards VLC diets led me initially to attribute the improvements to the grilled Salmon that was also a part of the meal. But, after reading this series of posts, I am convinced that it was actually the potatoes.

    As I have noticed a general lack of energy and trouble sleeping the last few months, I am intrigued by the idea that RS may be the solution. With that in mind and after I mention that I absolutely love potatoes, I have a (somewhat wacky) question:

    Are 5 Guys french fries high in Resistant Starch? If we are saying that cooking the potatoes and then cooling them and reheating them, causes an increase in RS, then I think 5 Guys process of taking fresh potatoes, grown locally (at least here in Utah, a stones throw from Idaho), blanched, cooled and fried again, should be the perfect recipe for high amounts of RS as it is described here. Combine them with a good fat/protien source like a bacon cheeseburger (without the bun, of course) and we are pretty close to paleo-like meal. They are still fried in Peanut oil, which I am aware is not exactly ideal. But, other than that, does anyone think that I am totally off my rocker here?

    (I am aware that I am looking for an excuse to eat 5 Guys french fries. But, they are delicious. Can you blame me?)

    • Tom Naughton says:

      They probably would have some RS in them. And they might be the tastiest fries on the planet. (We have a Five Guys here in Franklin too.)

  38. Chad says:

    Thank you for posting so much about this. I have felt the paralyzing confusion that comes with too much knowledge and at 31 have struggled so much knowing what to eat. You manage to put things into perspective without the typical “don’t believe thoooose people over there!!” approach that causes lingering doubts.

    I very much appreciate your efforts and making this incredibly complicated topic much easier to approach and understand.

  39. Kristin says:

    WebMD has a corporate contract with my company and therefore inflicts their bad science reporting on me through helpful emails to my business account. Usually I wrinkle my nose reading the titles and hit the delete key.

    I was surprised this morning by this title: “How You Digest Carbs May Influence Weight Gain, Study Says”. Well as usual the article didn’t provide much real information but I did find an article that was more helpful. It seems like a reasonable study and does indeed link the number of copies of a specific gene, AMY1 with propensity for obesity. More possible evidence that we all must find our correct level of carb intake in order to be healthy.


  40. Martin says:

    If you want to decrease the amount of starch in rice wash it thoroughly before cooking until the water runs clear. Do the same process of washing it over and over again after cooking it.

  41. Rick says:

    I think this about sums it up.

    “If you’re on the weight loss phase of a ketogenic diet, than a couple tablespoons of potato starch won’t hinder your progress, and it’ll probably help your bowels. If you’re weight stable with low & variable ketones, and your goal is deep ketosis, then exercise caution.”


  42. Marla Umhoefer says:

    A great way to eat white rice ( I use Jasmine rice) is to cook it in homemade bone broth. Full of good fats and gelatins and very tasty! Broths are super simple to make: save the bones and all the trimmings, fat and organs you didn’t eat from the meat you just ate, throw them in water and cook covered from 4-8 hours on low heat.

  43. julianne says:

    I think the reduction of problem foods is why many diets get immediate success and religious converts. My first transformational diet was the zone diet – THAT *magic* ratio!. What is took out was all the grains, sugars and processed foods. I thought it was the magic ratio, until it didn’t work so well (adding back the occasional slice of wheat bread) Then I discovered paleo magic – same ratio of food – just minus the grains – gluten was the key for me – no more joint inflammation.
    Many other diets achieve the same – raw vegan for example – I wrote a post about this – here is the link: http://paleozonenutrition.com/2012/11/11/raw-vegan-blood-type-o-and-the-paleo-diet-what-do-they-have-in-common/

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I agree totally. When people go low-carb, they not only cut grains and sugar, most switch from processed vegetable oils back to natural fats. And so they remove the three worst foods from their diets.

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