I know I said The Older Brother was taking over the blog for a little while, and he is. But I was interviewed a couple of days ago for a libertarian site called Liberty.me and the video is now available online, so I’m interrupting just long enough to post it. Pierre-Guy Veer, the host, is a libertarian living in Quebec. (I heard there was a libertarian living in Canada, but didn’t believe the rumors. Glad I met him.) His microphone cut in and out, but his questions were brief and you can pretty much guess what he was asking from my answers.
We now return to your regularly scheduled guest host …
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I’d planned to review Keto Clarity, Jimmy Moore’s new book, last week. But as you know, I was distracted by some videos and posts featuring really stupid fat-shaming and other forms of b.s., so I decided to deal with those instead.
As I’ve mentioned several times recently, I’m not on a ketogenic diet and don’t aim for ketosis. I’ve done enough experimenting to know which diet gives me the best combination of energy, strength and weight control, and it’s not ketogenic. I’m on a low-carb diet (usually below 100 grams per day), but I don’t restrict protein or carbs enough to stay in ketosis.
For reasons I explained in a previous post, I don’t believe a ketogenic diet was the default diet of our paleo ancestors, and therefore I don’t buy the notion that anyone who doesn’t thrive on a ketogenic diet is suffering from a metabolic defect that needs to be fixed. There’s simply no evolutionary reason we should all be genetically geared to feel fabulous on a diet that few if any of our ancestors consumed.
But I also don’t buy the argument that since our paleo ancestors didn’t live on ketogenic diets, a ketogenic diet must automatically be ineffective or even dangerous. Our paleo ancestors didn’t drink whey protein shakes either, but those shakes are certainly beneficial for people who lift weights to build muscle. A ketogenic diet, like a diet supplemented with whey protein, is intended to be therapeutic – i.e., it’s supposed to help you accomplish a particular goal.
Obviously, one of those goals is weight loss. That was the main motivation for Jimmy to adopt a ketogenic diet, and considering that he lost 80 pounds in a year, I’d say it’s working. I also suspect that most people who buy Keto Clarity are interested in weight loss. And the scientific literature shows that ketogenic diets are indeed a good tool for weight loss – not for everyone, of course, but for many, many people.
One of the silliest arguments I’ve heard dismissing ketogenic diets goes something like this:
Well, sure, people lose weight on a ketogenic diet. But it’s only because people in ketosis end up eating less.
That almost sounds like an explanation, but it isn’t. Imagine having this conversation:
“My brother-in-law used to be an alcoholic, but not anymore. Now he drinks normally.”
“If he used to be an alcoholic, why isn’t he an alcoholic now?”
“Because he doesn’t drink as much.”
That’s not an explanation; it’s simply a restatement of a result. If someone craves alcohol to the point where he drinks so much that it’s screwing up his life and his health, but then starts feeling satisfied on a drink or two, wouldn’t we want to know why? Wouldn’t that suggest a dramatic and positive change in his brain chemistry?
I’d say the same thing about ketogenic diets. If an obese guy loses significant weight and keeps it off for the first time after adopting a ketogenic diet, it’s obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that he ended up consuming less energy than he expended during the weight loss. But that’s not the explanation; that’s the result. Wouldn’t that result indicate that something rather positive changed in his metabolism?
Well, uh, the ketogenic diet is satiating, you see.
Uh-huh … which is as much of an explanation as He stopped drinking too much because he’s satisfied on less alcohol now, you see.
So without (I hope) re-igniting a debate about who should or shouldn’t try a ketogenic diet, I’m reviewing Keto Clarity for what it is: a guidebook for people who want to try a ketogenic diet, either for weight loss or some other reason.
The book begins by explaining what ketosis is and the difference between a truly ketogenic diet and a low-carb diet – an important distinction because, as Jimmy learned after his weight crept back over 300 pounds, it’s entirely possible to be on a low-carb diet or even a very low-carb diet without being in ketosis. (That would be the case with me. I drift in and out of ketosis, according to my meter.)
The next couple of chapters are the here’s how to do it guidelines: how to determine the mix of fat, protein and carbohydrate that will produce what Dr. Jeff Volek and others call nutritional ketosis. The required ratios, as Jimmy explains, will vary from person to person, but the most important lesson here is: don’t make the mistake of thinking that if a low-carb diet is good, a diet low in both carbohydrates and fat is even better. You have to get your energy from something besides protein.
I can attest to that one. When I first tried a low-carb diet in the 1980s, I still believed in the low-fat nonsense. I didn’t read a book on the Atkins diet or any other low-carb diet (my bad) and tried to get by on skinless chicken breasts, turkey ham, egg whites and green vegetables. After a week of feeling half-awake and lethargic, I gave up. Whoops.
Anyway, as Jimmy explains in Keto Clarity, it’s the fat in a ketogenic diet that keeps your energy up and appetite down. But of course, the fats have to be the right fats. As the book explains:
Saturated fats, like those in butter, coconut oil and red meat, and monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocadoes, olive oil and macadamia nuts, are basically safe for consumption in terms of your health. They don’t raise your blood sugar, and they don’t cause any harm when eaten to satiety. In fact, they are quite beneficial: they are anti-inflammatory, raise HDL, help you feel full and – most important for our purposes – they help you create ketones. Compare this to the polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, which increase systemic inflammation and linked to multiple health problems, despite the fact that they are heavily touted as the healthy oils we should all be consuming.
And let’s be honest: butter, sour cream, coconut oil, avocadoes and egg yolks are freakin’ delicious. If you’re going to change up your diet, it certainly helps if your taste buds don’t feel punished.
In a subsequent chapter, Jimmy explains how to use a blood ketone meter to check your ketone levels. And yes, if you’re going to try a ketogenic diet, you should invest in one of those meters. The urine ketone strips Dr. Atkins recommended back in the day were all that were available, so that’s what ketogenic dieters used. But once you become keto-adapted and are relying more and more on ketones for fuel, fewer ketones are excreted in the urine, even if your blood ketones are still high.
One of the advantages I’ve found of a low-carb diet (ketogenic or not) is that I can go for hours and hours without eating – unlike back in my high-carb days, when skipping meals would give me the shakes. In a chapter on fasting — which many people consider the other “f” word, according to Jimmy – he explains that there are health benefits to intermittent fasting. (Paul Jaminet makes the same point in his Perfect Health Diet book.) One advantage of a ketogenic diet is that it allows many people who previously couldn’t stand the thought of going 16 hours or more without a meal to do so easily. But, Jimmy cautions, you need to listen to your body. If you’re really and truly hungry, as opposed to experiencing a stomach gurgle, you need to eat something.
Good point. I don’t think starving yourself ever works out in the long run.
As I mentioned above, I don’t believe everyone will feel his or her best in a constant state of ketosis. So in chapter titled Keto FAQ, I was pleased to see this comment from Bryan Barksdale, one of the experts Jimmy quotes liberally throughout the book:
I believe a well-designed ketogenic diet can overcome a lot of the negative effects people experience while eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. One such strategy some people may want to use is cycling in and out the various macronutrients, just as would have happened naturally in an ancestral diet.
Jimmy then writes that some people shed more fat if they cycle in and out of ketosis, although cycling may not be appropriate for everyone.
Again, test it for yourself and see how it works for you … If cycling in and out of ketosis gives you the results you desire, then go for it.
My sentiments exactly. Jimmy is obviously quite enthusiastic about the benefits he and the people whose personal stories he quotes in the book have experienced, but he doesn’t argue that everyone should be in ketosis all the time – despite what some internet cowboys will tell you.
He also doesn’t claim that being in nutritional ketosis automatically translates to weight loss. When you burn fat for fuel, you create ketones. That fat can come from your diet or your adipose tissue. If you consume all the fuel you need in a day, your body has no reason to tap its reserves. What a ketogenic diet accomplishes for many people is put their bodies into a fat-burning mode where it’s easier to tap those reserves – which makes it easier to eat less. That’s the point. There’s no magic involved that causes calories to vanish into thin air.
In one of the last chapters, Jimmy lists a number of diseases and conditions that have been successfully treated or may eventually be treated with ketogenic diets (some of the research is in its early stages), including epilepsy, diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, some cancers, fibromyalgia, autism and Alzheimer’s.
The emerging research is another reason that while I don’t buy into the “everyone should be in ketosis all the time” argument, I also don’t buy the “ketosis will ruin your health” argument. That argument reminds me too much of this one:
Sure, your low-carb diet might help you lose a lot of weight, raise your HDL, and lower your blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides … but it will give you a heart attack.
I just don’t think our bodies are that stupid. I don’t believe we improve a gazillion health markers while we’re killing ourselves.
Given what we’re learning about the gut microbiome, the one real concern I’d have about going on a ketogenic diet would be depleting the healthy gut bacteria – but the problem there is a lack of fiber, not ketosis per se. So as I’ve mentioned before, if I were aiming for ketosis, I’d be sure to include a lot of fibrous plants in my diet and supplement with some form of resistant starch – which doesn’t kick most people out of ketosis.
The final chapters of Keto Clarity include a shopping list and a bunch of recipes contributed by readers and friends of Jimmy’s. Some of the recipes look pretty good and I plan to try them. I don’t aim for ketosis, but I certainly don’t avoid delicious high-fat foods, either.
Jimmy is a gifted writer, and everything in the book is explained clearly and as simply as possible, with some humor sprinkled in for good measure. If a ketogenic diet is something you plan to try – or are already doing but need more guidance – this is the book for you.
PROGRAMMING NOTE (so to speak): I need to step away from blogging for awhile so I can focus on that book and DVD companion Chareva and I have been planning. Ideally, we’ll be ready to release both by the time the low-carb cruise rolls around in May. She’ll need to produce a ton of cartoon characters and other artwork, so I promised her I’d have a draft ready by Oct 1st. (She’s talented, mind you, but she can’t draw scenes I haven’t written yet.) With full-time programming work, kids, the farm, blogging, etc., I’m behind on my writing schedule. If I don’t give myself some focused writing time, I’ll miss my deadline. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that The Older Brother agreed to sit in the Fat Head chair until I get caught up. I enjoy reading his posts and consider them a nice change of pace. I’ll answer comments on my own posts, but otherwise the blog is all his for awhile.
Man, it’s nice to have a reliable guest host …
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Perhaps you remember the terms for body types from high-school biology. These are from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Ectomorph. A human physical type (somatotype) tending toward linearity, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by the American psychologist W.H. Sheldon. Although classification by the Sheldon system is not absolute, a person is classed as an ectomorph if ectomorphy predominates over endomorphy and mesomorphy in his body build. The extreme ectomorph has a thin face with high forehead and receding chin; narrow chest and abdomen; a narrow heart; rather long, thin arms and legs; little body fat and little muscle; but a large skin surface and a large nervous system. If well fed, he does not gain weight easily; if he becomes fat, he is still considered an ectomorph, only overweight.
Endomorph. A human physical type (somatotype) tending toward roundness, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by American psychologist W.H. Sheldon. The extreme endomorph has a body as nearly globular as humanly possible; he has a round head, a large, round abdomen, large internal organs relative to his size, rather short arms and legs with fat upper arms and thighs, but slender wrists and ankles. Under normal conditions the endormorphic individual has a great deal of body fat, but he is not simply a fat person; if starved, he remains an endomorph, only thinner.
Mesomorph. A human physical type that is marked by greater than average muscular development, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by American psychologist W.H. Sheldon. Although the Sheldon system of classification does not make absolute distinctions between types, a person is classed as a mesomorph if mesomorphy predominates over endomorphy and ectomorphy in his body build. The extreme mesomorph has a square, massive head; broad, muscular chest and shoulders; a large heart; heavily muscled arms and legs; and minimal body fat. He tends to develop muscle easily.
These are not mutually-exclusive types. Most of us are a mix. I’m an ectomorph-endomorph. I have long arms and legs, but also tend to get fat in the middle … and I definitely have the slender wrists and ankles, despite being thick through the upper thighs and butt area.
Some really beefy guys are mesomorph-endomorphs. They’re very muscular and strong with the fast-twitch muscles and quick reflexes of a mesomorph, but also tend to get fat around the middle. Think offensive lineman.
It’s the mesomorph type I’ll be talking about here, so let’s look at another brief definition from an article in Men’s Fitness:
Mesomorphs look well built without setting foot in a gym, and pack on muscle the instant they pick up a dumbbell.
Mesomorphs look well built without setting foot in a gym … Yup. I’ve known people like that. In order to stay lean and muscular, all they really have to do is not screw up. But many mesomorphs do work out, because the results are so rewarding and impressive. The same article in Men’s Fitness mentioned a study of the effects of resistance training. Given the same workouts, the ectomorphs put on almost no muscle at all, while the mesomorphs made big gains in muscle size. It’s character vs. chemistry again – the chemistry in this case being genetics.
The Older Brother and I had a mutual friend in high school who was a perfect mesomorph. The guy had a small waist, wide shoulders, big muscles, chiseled abs and veins popping out all over the place. So what did he eat? Any damned thing he wanted to, including a lot of junk. And his exercise program? He didn’t have one. If he’d ever decided to take up weight-lifting, he would have looked like a Greek god in no time. I ran into him in a bar 20 years after high school (where yes, he was drinking beer) and he still had exactly the same build.
So here’s the point: a whole lot of people who consider themselves experts in exercise or nutrition because they look so darned good and are so darned athletic are mesomorphs. But what you’re seeing in their impressive-looking photos and videos is a genetic gift. If they don’t totally hose themselves with a crappy diet, they stay lean. If they work out at all, they put on muscle.
So when they point to their muscles and abs as proof of their superior knowledge about nutrition – or worse, point to an endomorph’s fatter build as proof that he can’t possibly know as much as they do – it’s bull@#$%. Period. (Given my last couple of posts, you can guess who inspired this post.) When I see a natural-born mesomorph posting a picture of his beautiful body as proof of his expertise in fitness and nutrition, I roll my eyes and think, “Well, that’s fabulous. Be sure to send your mom or dad a thank-you card for passing on those genes” — especially if the mesomorph has to puff out his belly to produce a “before” shot of himself looking kind of, sort of, maybe a little bit fat.
I’m not saying anyone who happens to be a mesomorph is disqualified from giving diet and exercise advice to those of us not so genetically gifted. Some really know their stuff. Mark Sisson is mostly a mesomorph (with a bit of ectomorph mixed in), and I’d certainly take his advice. But here’s the difference: Mark knows his ripped build is largely a genetic gift. He’s said several times that he was lean and muscular even when he was living on what he now knows was a garbage diet. He just wasn’t healthy on that diet.
It doesn’t prove anything if a particular diet or exercise program works well for a mesomorph, because pretty much everything that isn’t actually harmful works for them. Vegetarian diet, vegan diet, high-fat diet, low-fat diet, paleo diet, whatever … if these guys get adequate protein, work out now and then, and don’t fill up on junk foods that overcome their natural tendency to stay at a low level of body fat, they’re going to look great. Their impressive physiques don’t in any way prove they have the answers for the rest of us.
Let’s use academic achievement as an analogy. I wasn’t genetically blessed in the body-build department, but I was in the intelligence department. So was The Older Brother. We both breezed through school. Sure, we studied, but not as hard as some kids who were B or even C students.
I remember one of my roommates in college looking at the single spiral notebook I took to all my classes and saying, “That’s all the notes you take? How the heck are you getting A’s in everything? You hardly write anything down!”
“Uh, well,” I mumbled, “if the professor says something and it makes sense, I just remember it. I don’t really have to write much of it down.”
That’s a genetic gift. My dad was like that. He loved to read, and he could quote from books he’d read 10 years earlier. When the game Trivial Pursuit came around and we played as a family, he’d mop the floor with the rest of us. He’d read a ton of books in his lifetime and it seemed he hadn’t forgotten a word. So he’d finish in maybe 20 minutes, then the rest of us would pretend he’d never been a part of the game and play on.
The point is, I would never, ever point to what worked for me in college – just remember what the professor said! – as proof that it’s the best approach for everyone. I wouldn’t take a picture of my high-school report cards or the plaque I received when the professors in the communications department at my university named me the top senior in the department, put those pictures on a web site, and point to them as proof that I’m an expert in education or in how to get good grades.
I got those grades largely because I’m a “brain mesomorph,” so to speak. Brain mesomorphs can pick pretty much any method of studying and still do well, as long as they don’t do something to screw up that genetic gift – like, say, don’t study at all.
The Older Brother and I were both A students, but we approached schoolwork in totally different ways. I don’t like scampering to meet deadlines, so if I was assigned a term paper, I’d start weeks ahead of time and work on it a little bit every day. Sometimes I’d be finished days before turning it in. Then I’d get an A on the paper.
The Older Brother would wait until the day before the paper was due, then start writing. Sometimes he’d work all through the night and turn in the paper without having slept a wink. Then he’d get an A on the paper. Completely different approaches, same happy result.
Neither of us would ever be so foolish as to point to those papers and say, “Here’s proof of my expertise in how to get good grades.” And neither of us would be so foolish as to point to an average-IQ kid who worked his tail off to get a B in a tough class and say, “Well, I sure hope nobody listens to that kid if he offers advice on study habits. If he had any expertise in good study habits, his report card would look as good as mine.”
In fact, I’d consider that average-IQ kid who had to seriously apply himself to get all B’s the true expert on how to raise your grades. He actually had to overcome his lack of genetic gifts to reach that goal. That’s the kid I’d ask for advice on study habits if my kid wasn’t blessed with a high IQ and was struggling in school, not the high-IQ kid who barely has to study to get straight A’s.
So to paraphrase what I said at the end of my previous post, if you’re 100 pounds overweight, maybe the best weight-loss coach for you is someone who had to struggle to lose 100 pounds, even if he’s still built like an endomorph because (duh) he’s an endormorph. The mesomorph who’s never been fat a day in his life can’t relate to your struggle, and if he’s like some mesomorphs, he’ll mistake his genetics for proof of expertise.
And if he’s an a-hole of a mesomorph, he’ll consider you a failure unless you end up looking like him, even though you couldn’t possibly look like him unless you had his parents.
Knowledge can be passed from one person to another. Genetics can’t. Don’t mistake one for the other.
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Since my last post raised a hubbub and, of course, prompted more online temper-tantrums from the half-baked brains at Julian Bakery, I’m going to share a few more observations about Mr. Collins and Mr. Squealer, then get back to more important stuff.
I’m not going to link to their videos or posts, by the way. Some of you have already found them and left your own comments – at least until the open and honest Collins and Squealer stopped allowing those comments. If you want to find their garbage online, I’m sure you can. I’ll just recount some of their predictable excuses, counter-attacks, whatever you want to call them, and respond.
Here’s my favorite: Why would anyone take weight-loss advice from a comedian?
Har-dee-har-har! Comic genius. That line just never gets old. I’m sure it will be every bit as funny the next thousand times as it was the first thousand.
(Oh, and the barely-literate Mr. Collins — who “rights” his own books and who called me a coward for attacking him from behind a computer after he attacked Jimmy Moore and Diane Sanfilippo from behind a computer — also called me an idiot. Now that is comic genius. I’m still laughing.)
In the past few years, I’ve posted plenty of letters (many including dramatic before-and-after photos) from viewers expressing their eternal gratitude to the comedian. I’ve received way more of those letters than I’ve posted. Some of the letters were so sincere and expressed such heartfelt emotions, I was choked up after reading them. Those are the people who matter to me. One of those letters outweighs a thousand snarky comments from internet cowboys who think they’re either being funny or are going to wound my ego with comments like “Oh, yeah, a comedian. Some expert, huh?”
But what the heck, I’ll deal with the issue at hand, since Mr. Collins and Mr. Squealer raised it again.
Okay, boys, you got me: I don’t have a university degree in health science, or nutrition science, or whatever degree would be considered an official qualification. But that is a strange criticism indeed coming from the two of you, since you don’t either.
Mr. Collins earned degrees in criminal justice and forensic science, according to his bio. So he’s a trained cop. That’s every bit as relevant to health and nutrition as my degree in journalism.
Oh yeah, great idea, get your diet advice from a cop. Don’t they all eat donuts? Har-dee-har-har!
Now of course, Mr. Collins may know a ton about health and nutrition. But if he does, he learned it outside the university environment – just like I did, and just like a lot of other bloggers and authors did. Even the doctors who know what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition will happily tell you they didn’t learn what they know in med school.
But the real impressive credentials here belong to Mr. Squealer. Because, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Squealer achieved his lofty position in life by having the good fortune to be born to a mommy who started Julian Bakery many years ago and then made her son the CEO.
Oh yeah, great idea — get your diet advice from a member of the lucky-sperm club whose mommy started a bread business and then turned it over to her precious little boy! Great qualifications, there, Dude! Har-dee-har-har!
Once again, Mr. Squealer may actually know a lot about nutrition. But if so, he has no official qualifications, and having your mommy make you the CEO of her company is no more relevant of a background than traveling around the country doing shows in comedy clubs.
Oh, but wait … Collins and Squealer already explained in Mr. Collins’ barely-literate post why people should listen to them and ignore people like Jimmy Moore and Diane Sanfilippo. Here’s the reason:
Just look at us. Look at our pictures! It’s obvious we know what we’re talking about, because we have abs!
Uh-huh. So does this guy:
That’s my son Zack, and he’s always had those abs. He had those abs when he was living on pizza, potato chips and Coca-Cola. (He’s since cleaned up his diet.) He had those abs when he tried and failed to gain weight by massively overeating. (He was trying to get heavier while playing power forward on his high-school basketball team.) His mother (not Chareva) had that same ridiculously-low level of body fat even when she developed the very bad habit of drinking a helluva lot of beer every day.
Some people are lucky like that. They were born to be lean. The difference is that Zack has the intelligence to realize that just because he’s cut, that doesn’t make him an expert on how to lose weight. His advice (since he has a nice, self-effacing sense of humor) would probably be something like, “It’s easy. Go out and inherit my mother’s genes.”
Oh, but wait … in Mr. Collins’ barely-literate post, Mr. Squealer assures us he found the answer to his own (ahem) weight problems, lost the weight, and has kept it off for three years. And by gosh, he’s willing to post pictures to prove it.
I included two of those pictures in my previous post:
Like I said in that post, that sure doesn’t look anything like a 33-pound weight loss to me. That looks like the difference between sucking some air into the belly in one shot, then tensing the abs and employing better lighting in the second shot.
But perhaps I was unfair. Mr. Squealer actually included three pictures. Here they are:
His body isn’t at the same angle in the middle shot, but the other two are pretty much straight-on. Since Collins and Squealer like to have fun with photos, I had some fun myself — the difference being I’m not going to tell any lies while having fun.
I took those two pictures, put them in Photoshop, and resized them until Mr. Squealer was the same size in both shots. (I matched top of the head to belly button, and also made sure his nipples were the same distance apart in both shots.) On the “fat” Mr. Squealer shot, I drew a red line just below the belly button and just touching the edges of his waist. Then I copied the red line to the “lean” shot. These lines are exactly the same width. You can download the picture and measure yourself. Here’s what we’ve got:
My, my, my, isn’t that strange? Mr. Squealer claims he was 220 pounds in the “fat” shot and 185 pounds in the “lean” shot. The guy lost 35 pounds – nearly one-sixth of his entire body mass, you understand – yet his waist doesn’t appear to have gotten any narrower as a result. Oh, but he knows all about weight loss, because he used to be fat and had to lose 35 pounds. Just ask him. Honest guy like that would never lie.
If those are before-and-after shots of a man who lost 35 pounds, then I’m the King of England. So I’ll just come out and say it this time: Heath Squier is lying about his weight loss. He’s probably just sticking out his belly a bit in the “before” shot. I’d bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts), he’s never been fat a day in his life. If he has been fat – really and truly fat — he can post pictures to prove it.
So Mr. Squealer’s qualifications come down to being born 1) naturally lean, and 2) to a mommy who started a bakery and was willing to make him the CEO. (Given his recent behavior, that might prove to be a bad decision.)
But you wouldn’t want to take advice from a comedian … har-dee-har-har!
Oh, I’m sorry … an overweight comedian! That’s the latest topper on the hilarious joke.
You see, in addition to showing up in comments and threatening to find me at a conference someday and commit some kind of physical violence for calling him an a-hole (proving that he’s very gosh-darned proud of how he put his life on line to protect my freedom of speech while in the military – just ask him), Mr. Collins added a comment on one of his videos describing me as another low carb failure who can’t even stay below 200 pounds.
Fascinating. In a reply to one of his barely-literate comments on my previous post, I suggested to Mr. Collins that if someone calls you an adolescent, an asshole, a fraud, or whatever, it’s not a good idea to prove him right with your next response. I guess he didn’t get the concept. Because I basically called these guys liars in my previous post, and he responded by telling a lie in public.
Where on earth did he come up with the (ahem) fact that I can’t stay below 200 pounds? I’ve never said that. No one else has said that. The scale doesn’t say that. I was just at the gym today. That’s the only place I weigh myself, because we don’t have a scale at home. I was at 196. I’m pretty much always within a pound or two of that number, sometimes a little above, sometimes a little below. And I wouldn’t panic if I did weigh 200 pounds. In fact, I posted a picture of myself awhile back and noted that it was me at exactly 200 pounds. Here it is:
Good grief, what a fat comedian! Is he taking over for Louie Anderson? Har-dee-har-har!
I’m 55 years old and spent most of my life as a fat guy. Now I’m not a fat guy. I’ve gone from this …
… to this.
The towel shot, you may recall, was taken on the morning of my 55th birthday.
In other words, unlike Mr. Squealer, I actually was fat and then got considerably leaner. I didn’t have to stand in front of a mirror and suck in air and puff out my belly to produce a “before” shot where I look sort of, maybe, kind of, a little bit fat – and then lie about my weight loss. I was the real deal.
So if I’m a low-carb failure because you can’t see all my ab muscles (which weren’t visible even when I was a rail-thin 10-year-old), I’m fine with that. I’m not really concerned about the opinions of a couple of dumb-jock types who have no flippin’ idea what it’s like to actually be a fat guy struggling to lose weight.
And speaking of the dumb jocks … their explanation of the “2009” Jimmy Moore picture that was actually taken in 2013 is that it’s no big deal and was probably an honest mistake. And then, to prove once again that he’s barely literate, Mr. Collins claimed that in my post, I said the picture maybe was from 2011, or maybe from 2012, then decided it was 2013. Must’ve been tough getting through cop school without being able to comprehend plain English. I explained, in clear and unambiguous language, why the picture couldn’t possibly be from 2011 or 2012, which means it was from 2013.
But let’s analyze that “honest mistake” excuse, shall we? How was this honest mistake made, exactly? What series of errors caused Collins and Squealer to believe that picture was taken in 2009? The only place I can find that picture online is on Jimmy’s site, where it’s clearly identified as being from 2013. If you don’t actually know when a picture was taken (and you’re not a dumbass), you find a way to verify the date. When I found the picture of Diane Sanfilippo I posted, I not only made sure it appeared in a collection of pictures taken at Paleo FX 2014, I blew it up in Photoshop and checked the date on the badge.
And like I said in the post, that picture took only seconds to find. But Collins and Squealer claim it was really, really difficult to find recent pictures of Diane, ya see. Uh-huh. That explains why so many people responded by quickly finding recent pictures of her and posting them on Facebook.
So that claim was clearly a lie. Mr. Squealer’s claim that he was 35 pounds heavier in his “before” picture is clearly a lie. Mr. Collins’ recent claim that I can’t keep my weight below 200 pounds is clearly a lie. So since lying is what habitual liars do, I’m going to step out on a limb and declare that the “honest mistake” about the date on Jimmy’s picture is a lie. The dumb jocks just didn’t think anyone would bust them on it.
And speaking of Jimmy … yes, he looks heavier in his AHS 2014 picture. He’s probably gained back some weight since losing the 80 pounds. According to the dumb jocks, this means nobody should listen to him about how to lose weight.
But since the dumb jocks claim to know everything there is to know about nutrition and health and weight loss (they have abs, after all!), they should know damned good and well that if you spend decades being obese and then lose a massive amount of weight, your body will always fight to regain the weight. A person who loses 100 pounds to end up at 240 has a totally different metabolism and set-point than someone who peaked at 240. That’s why nearly everyone who loses weight on The Biggest Loser gains most of it back. That’s why in diet studies, losing just 10% of your body weight and keeping it off is labeled as “success” — and most people in diet studies fail to achieve that success.
The tendency to become obese is largely genetic. So is the tendency to be lean and cut. That’s why twins who are separated at birth and raised in different families still end up having remarkably similar physiques. That’s why my son Zack was lean and cut on a totally lousy diet and is still lean and cut on a much better diet.
Unlike Collins and Squealer, Jimmy was born into a family of very fat people. (And I’m pretty sure his mommy didn’t start a bakery she could have him run later so he could think of himself as a successful businessman and expert on nutrition, but I’ll confirm with Jimmy.) Jimmy’s mother had bariatric surgery, for pete’s sake, and still managed to become obese again after initially losing 100 pounds. That’s his genetic background.
Yes, Jimmy’s weight has gone up and down. He will be battling that genetic burden (not to mention the damage he caused himself when he was drinking 12 Cokes per day in his thirties) for the rest of his life. But battle he does. For years, he weighed more than 400 pounds. If he’d just gotten down to 360 and stayed there, he would have been a “success” by diet-study standards. But he got down to 220. Then he slowly drifted back up to over 300. Then he shifted his diet again and lost 80 pounds. Now he’s gained some of that back. I suspect he’ll lose it, but let’s suppose he doesn’t. Let’s suppose he ends up at 250 and stays there.
That would still mean he’s more than 150 pounds down from his peak weight. It would still mean he’s shed nearly 40% of his peak weight – in a world where most obese people can’t lose 10% of their peak weight and keep it off. Ask any obesity researcher how he or she would feel about a protocol that allowed people to lose 40% of their initial weight.
So if the two dumb jocks/adolescent bullies who think they know everything there is to know about weight loss (because they have abs!) are so cock-sure about their expertise, here’s how they can prove it: stop making idiotic videos that attempt to fat-shame people who dare to report that Julian Bakery bread spikes their glucose just like any other bread or is the target of an FDA action. Stop making more videos and posting more barely-literate comments to justify your adolescent-bully behavior.
Instead, take that awesome expertise of yours, go find some seriously obese people who weigh 350 pounds or more, and coach them into losing so much weight, they look like you — with abs! Show us what real expertise can accomplish. Or hell, just coach them into losing 100 pounds and keeping it off. Show us how you – not some fat comedian and certainly not Jimmy Moore – have the answer these people need.
Because based on what I’ve seen so far, if I were 100 pounds overweight and my choice of a weight-loss coach was either an empathetic, kind-hearted guy who’s actually lost more than 150 pounds and understands the struggle … or a dumb jock who engages in internet fat-shaming and has to puff out his belly to make his naturally-lean body almost look a teensy bit fat, I’m going with the nice guy who’s been where I am – even if he still weighs 250 pounds and I can’t see his abs.
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I usually make it a policy not to get involved in internet squabbles among bloggers, but I can’t resist this time – largely because one of the blogs is basically a front for a food company, and its owners are acting like adolescents jumping onto social media to slam their Very Worst Enemies from junior high school. Not exactly what I’d call appropriate behavior for corporate executives.
If you read Jimmy Moore’s blog, you know he tested his glucose reaction to Julian Bakery’s low-carb (ahem) bread awhile back, and the results weren’t pretty. The stuff spiked his glucose just like any other bread. Others have reported the same result. One angry customer even had the bread tested by an independent lab, which found that it contains way more carbohydrate and far less fiber than the company claimed. The FDA also sent the company a warning letter about the claims on its label. Jimmy reported that too.
Now, this is the point at which intelligent, mature executives would either keep mum and let the controversy pass, or perhaps announce that they’re working on fixing some errors in their process. But the goofballs running Julian Bakery aren’t intelligent or mature, so they stooped to producing blog posts and YouTube videos “exposing” Jimmy Moore as a fraud … oh, and Diane Sanfilippo too. I don’t know how or when she angered the adolescents running Julian Bakery, but they apparently felt the need to “expose” her too.
The blog posts and videos consist of the people who run Julian Bakery interviewing each other as experts … so it’s all roughly as believable as watching executives from Monsanto interviewing each other on the health benefits of semi-dwarf wheat. That alone would merely be laughable, but then the same people claiming to be angry over accusations of fraud prove what honest and trustworthy people they are by engaging in fraud — this time using pictures.
The pictures appear in a post with the laughable title of Low Carb Blogger & Author Jimmy Moore Exposed As Fraud By Heath Squier. (Heath Squealer – er, Squier – is one of the adolescents who run Julian Bakery.) Let’s check some quotes – and no, I’m not going to link to this garbage.
This picture specifically outlines Jimmy in 2009, when he stopped eating our products, and now, it shows him in 2014, and this is a current picture at Paleo fx in 2014.
Uh, Mr. Squealer, how exactly does a picture “outline” Jimmy? Is one picture of Jimmy surrounding another picture of Jimmy?
Okay, never mind. Here’s what Mr. Squealer was referring to in his didn’t-excel-in-English style of communication:
Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. We see Jimmy in 2009, looking pretty good for a guy who once weighed more than 400 pounds and has battled obesity for his entire life. But then – and this is no doubt the crux of the problem – he stopped eating Julian Bakery products! He went on some crazy ketogenic diet and (as the article informs us) got fat. Man, if only he’d kept eating that Julian Bakery bread, he might still look as good as he did in 2009.
And we know that leaner-looking Jimmy picture is from 2009, because the Julian Bakery people said so, and they’re not the kind of people who would lie for the purpose of selling their products. That’s why they’re so gosh-darned sick and tired (as they inform us in their videos) of being accused of dishonesty. So I can only conclude that in addition to his other talents, Jimmy Moore is capable of time-travel. I can’t believe he never told me.
Take a good look at the t-shirt Jimmy is wearing in the (ahem) 2009 photo. Look familiar? Here, maybe this will help:
Yup, the lean, mean, fightin’-machine Jimmy is wearing one of our Wheat Is Murder t-shirts. We began producing those in June of 2011. Judging by the background, that’s a photo from one of the low-carb cruises. Can’t be the 2011 cruise, because the cruises are in May. So the earliest possible cruise where he could have worn a Wheat Is Murder shirt was 2012 – but we all know darned good and well that’s not a 2012 photo, don’t we? Jimmy weighed more than 300 pounds during the 2012 cruise. He was getting advice or insults from every direction.
The advice that finally made a difference came from Dr. Jeff Volek, who explained to Jimmy how to adjust his diet to stay in ketosis — you know, the diet the adolescents running Julian Bakery want you to believe ruined that great physique Jimmy had back in 2009, when he was still eating Julian Bakery bread and hopping into his time machine to buy a t-shirt I first produced in 2011.
Since that “2009” picture couldn’t possibly be from the 2012 cruise, it was likely taken during the 2013 cruise – i.e., after Jimmy had been on a ketogenic diet for a year and lost 80 pounds, despite not eating Julian Bakery bread.
But what the heck, let’s take the mystery out of it. Here’s a picture I know for certain was taken during the 2013 cruise, because I took it.
Darned if that physique doesn’t look just like the one Jimmy supposedly had back in 2009, when he was still eating Julian Bakery bread and buying t-shirts produced in the future. The length of his hair looks identical too. So I’m going to step out on a limb and say both of those pictures are of Jimmy after a year on his ketogenic diet.
Like I said above, I don’t know what exactly Diane Sanfilippo did to produce a temper-tantrum among the adolescent executive corps at Julian Bakery, but whatever it was, they responded by posting this picture from Paleo FX 2014 as proof she’s gotten fat – no doubt the result of failing to include Julian Bread in her diet.
I know a little bit about photography, so when I saw this picture, my guess was that the “fatter” Diane was result of bad lighting, not a “chunky” body.
Chunky? Yup, the adolescents named the picture Diane Sanfilippo Chunky when they uploaded it. Then one of them wrote this:
Of all the people I have searched for current photos belonging to the Paleo or health community, Diane was the most difficult to find any recent photos of. When I did find them, they were never full body and always a strange angle. It appears someone is working overtime to make sure that people don’t see, just like Jimmy and many other of her buddies, she has reverted back to her previous weight.
Hmmm … I found a different picture of Diane from the same event – with an angle I certainly wouldn’t call strange — and it only took me a few seconds. Perhaps Mr. Squealer and his fellow executives are mystified by Google. Or perhaps we should interpret that claim as: Of all the people I searched desperately hoping to find a picture that made her look fat, Diane was the most difficult.
Anyway, here’s what I found:
Geez, what a fatty, huh? I’m surprised she didn’t cite unspecified “security concerns” and back out of the event so no one could take her picture.
She looks exactly like she did when I met her on the 2013 cruise – which is to say, she’s built like an athlete, with too much muscle to ever be a skinny-Minnie, and she’s got great curves. (I say that with Chareva’s blessing. Unlike certain bakery executives, Chareva doesn’t have a fragile ego.) Perhaps Diane ate some Julian Bakery bread after that first picture and quickly lost weight as a result, then posed for the second picture.
In addition to warning readers about how Jimmy and Diane got fat after refusing to eat Julian Bakery bread, Mr. Squealer posted pictures of his own weight loss – which, I presume, was mostly induced by eating Julian Bakery bread. Take a look, and be sure to read the weight figures:
So that’s what a 33-pound weight loss looks like, eh? Boy, that’s got to be discouraging news for any guy with a big ol’ beer belly. He’d look at Mr. Squealer’s before-and-after pictures and think, “Geez, this guy loses 33 pounds and barely shrinks. That means I need to lose at least 300 pounds – which sucks, because I only weigh 285.”
I went to high school with a guy who was thickly muscled and as cut as I’ve ever seen outside the body-building world. And yet during a game of pickup basketball, I noticed that when he was winded, his belly relaxed and protruded a bit as he sucked in air. His abs appeared to go soft for a moment. Then he’d breathe out, the belly would shrink, and the abs looked chiseled again. It never occurred to me to stick a scale under him to see if his weight was fluctuating by 33 pounds as he breathed, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case.
I once managed to semi-starve myself into a 35-pound weight loss. I was still a road comedian at the time, and when I walked into clubs where people on the staff hadn’t seen me in a year or so, the comments ranged from “Wow, you look like a totally different person!” to “Uh, pardon me for asking, but are you okay? You’re not sick or anything, are you?” I went from wearing either size 38 or 40 pants, depending on the style, to size 34 pants.
I don’t have any other pictures of what a 33-pound weight loss looks like, but here’s what a 50-pound weight loss looked like on Tom Hanks:
And here’s what a 60-pound weight loss looked like on Christian Bale when he starved himself for his role in The Machinist.
Bale lost 60 pounds and went from looking beefy to looking positively cadaverous. Mr. Squealer claims he lost a bit more than half that much weight, but the main difference I see in his before-and-after pictures (besides the degree to which he’s contracting his abs) is the lighting. I can only come up with three explanations:
- When you lose body fat, the first 33 pounds don’t make much of a difference in your physique.
- Mr. Squealer’s body produces a unique form of adipose tissue that is denser than lead. (I believe eating Julian Bakery bread cures the condition, however.)
- Mr. Squealer is lying about his weight loss.
But it couldn’t be number three, because that would be dishonest — and it’s not as if the company has been busted for false claims or anything. And it’s not as if the Julian Bread executives would stoop to grabbing a picture of Jimmy Moore from 2013 and claiming that’s what he looked like when he was eating their bread in 2009.
A couple more quotes from the blog before we go:
Talk about the absolute bipolar opposite of what we preach in the primal and paleo world, at least what I teach.
Um … what exactly does the “bipolar opposite” mean? Is that an opposite that sometimes isn’t an opposite and sometimes is, depending on whether it’s feeling manic or depressed?
Again, look at the photos. I won’t say anything. Just go look at the proof, and go look at these people on the Internet and their photos. They’re overweight and their weight fluctuates big time. Not to mention a lot of their employees. If you and your book is so great, why are almost all the people who work for you overweight?
If you and your bread is so great, why isn’t you able to grasp the relatively simple concept of subject-verb agreement? But more importantly, why doesn’t you act like grown-ups when your company’s product is criticized? Is it because you is immature?
And here’s a quote from one of the YouTube videos:
Paleo FX and Ancestral Health Conference are a joke.
So the Julian Bakery people have these bread products they hope to sell to the low-carb and paleo communities, and these are the strategies they employ and the statements they make in public. Brilliant. I’m sure these posts and videos are doing wonders for their corporate image.
It’s always so much fun watching children pretend to be grown-ups.
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So far I’ve only read about 2/3 of Keto Clarity, Jimmy Moore’s recent book. (As usual, I’m behind on my reading. The book was released three weeks ago.) Since the book is about nutritional ketosis, naturally I’ve been replaying the debates about ketosis in my mind as I read. I don’t want to clutter up my soon-to-appear review of the book with those debates (the book, after all, is mostly a how-to guide for people who have already decided to try a ketogenic diet) so I thought I’d chime in with some thoughts on ketosis now and review the book on its own merits.
I’m not a fan of caustic debates among bloggers and authors who all advocate a more-or-less paleo, whole-foods diet but disagree on safe starches or ketosis. I explained why in my post about Differences, Commonalities and the Judean People’s Front. We agree far more than we disagree, but when the topic of ketosis comes up, you can almost sense some people wanting to yell “Splitters!” across the coliseum.
Depending on which splitter has the floor, nutritional ketosis is either the natural human metabolic condition and should be sought by everyone who wants to be lean and healthy, or it’s an emergency-only condition that will ruin your metabolism and possibly kill you. I don’t buy either argument, at least not as a blanket statement for everyone. I believe achieving ketosis could be beneficial or not, depending on the individual. So I’ll just toss out some of the arguments I’ve come across recently in books, blogs and podcasts and respond with what went through my head when I heard them – and that’s all these are: my personal reactions to those arguments.
Ketosis was the natural metabolic state of our Paleolithic ancestors.
I used to believe that, but I don’t anymore. I think paleo people probably drifted in and out of ketosis, depending on the season and what foods were obtainable. Fossilized bones and fecal samples tell us that many if not most early humans consumed a wide variety of plants, including starchy plants, and a whole lot of fiber. We call them hunter-gatherers for a reason. If all they ate was meat, they’d just be hunters.
As Jimmy’s book and others point out, to achieve and maintain nutritional ketosis, you not only have to restrict carbohydrates, you will probably have to restrict protein as well. I don’t think paleo people would have restricted either. As the Jaminets discussed in their Perfect Health Diet book, the hunter-gatherer tribes whose diets were documented typically consumed somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 30 percent of their calories as carbohydrates. That alone would prevent nutritional ketosis for most of us. Meanwhile, the Inuit – our poster-boys for a carb-free diet – apparently consumed rather a lot of freshly killed seafood that contained perhaps 20 percent of its calories in the form of glycogen, otherwise known as muscle starch.
But let’s suppose for the sake of argument (since the point has indeed been hotly debated) their seafood didn’t contain that much glycogen. It’s been documented that adult male Inuits consumed an average of 240 grams of protein per day. That’s not exactly what I’d call protein restriction, and I find hard to believe anyone would stay in nutritional ketosis while eating that much protein.
Paleo humans only ate plants as a fallback food if there wasn’t enough meat available.
I know that one isn’t true. At least it wasn’t true for many Native American tribes. I just recently read that in areas where hunting tribes and farming/gathering tribes lived near each other, they got together for food swaps. The hunters traded meat for maize, beans, squash, etc. I don’t think they’d voluntary trade away precious meat for what they considered a desperation-only food. They must have liked those starchy plant foods. As someone who enjoyed fresh squash from Chareva’s garden with dinner a couple of nights ago, I can tell you I’d happily swap some excess meat for it.
If you’re not in nutritional ketosis, it means you’re still a sugar-burner.
Simple math says otherwise. I believe (as do the Jaminets, by the way) that we should get most of our energy from fat. But you can get most of your energy from fat without being in nutritional ketosis, which is defined as a reading of 1.0 or higher on a blood ketone meter. Let’s look at some numbers.
Suppose I consume 2,000 calories in a day, including 100 grams of protein and 100 grams of carbohydrate – in other words, roughly what I consumed during my Fat Head fast-food diet. That would be 800 calories from protein and carbohydrates combined, plus 1200 calories from fat. My brain would have used up much of the carbohydrate, and since my muscles didn’t shrink, I certainly wasn’t converting all that protein to glucose and using it for fuel. But what the heck, for the sake of argument, I’ll say all 800 protein and carbohydrate calories were used for energy.
With me so far? Good.
Given the weight I lost during that month, I was burning at least 3,000 calories per day, possibly more. That means I was burning 2200 calories or more in the form of fat … which means even if every gram of carbohydrate and protein was used for fuel (which it wasn’t), 73% of my energy needs came from fat. So I obviously wasn’t a sugar-burner. But I can tell you from my own n=1 attempt at maintaining nutritional ketosis that I can’t do it while consuming 100 grams of protein and 100 grams of carbohydrate in a day.
Here’s another recent example: as I recounted on the blog, I spent five hours last Saturday clearing the brush from our fields. It was hard, physical work that no doubt burned rather a lot of calories. For breakfast (my only meal before all that work), I had four eggs fried in butter and two pieces of gluten-free toast slathered in butter. The toast provided 22 grams of carbohydrate, or a whopping 88 calories. If I wasn’t burning mostly fat during the day’s labors, I would have keeled over. And yet I wasn’t in nutritional ketosis. I checked out of curiosity and registered 0.4 on the meter.
If you don’t feel good or experience health problems while in a constant state of ketosis, there’s something wrong with you and you need to fix it.
I disagree completely, and when I hear that one, it sounds eerily like vegan-think. Tell a vegan you felt lousy while trying to give up animal foods, and she (because most vegans are she) will reply that meat is evil, we know it’s bad for you, so if you don’t feel good without meat in your diet it means you’re addicted to meat, or you’re not doing your vegan diet correctly, or there’s an underlying health problem you need to identify and fix so you can give up meat.
Nonsense. If you feel lousy on a vegan diet but then feel better after eating a steak, it means you should eat the steak. That’s how any proponent of a paleo diet would reply.
But if you tell some people in the everyone should be in ketosis crowd that you felt better and saw some health problems disappear after eating two or three potatoes per week, suddenly the potato becomes like meat to a vegan. No, no, no, the potato is bad! If you feel better after eating the potato, it means you’re not doing your ketogenic diet correctly. You need more fat. You need to eat nose-to-tail. Something is still broken in your metabolism, so you need to dig deeper and find the underlying issue and fix it.
No, it means you should eat the potato.
The whole premise of paleo diets is that the ideal human diet was shaped by evolution. The diet that kept our paleo ancestors healthy is the diet that will keep us healthy too. For reasons I explained above, I don’t believe our paleo ancestors lived in a state of chronic ketosis. There’s no reason we should all be genetically geared to thrive on a diet that none of our ancestors actually consumed. In fact, adopting that diet might be a bad idea for some people.
But once again for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that with enough diligence and determination, you could identify that deep, underlying problem that’s causing you to feel lousy when you stay in ketosis for weeks on end. Here are your options:
- Spend months of your life and hundreds if not thousands of dollars undergoing tests, waiting for results, undergoing more tests, digging and researching and visiting specialists and perhaps finally identifying that deep, underlying metabolic problem that caused you to feel good after eating a potato … but feeling like crap until you do identify the deep, underlying metabolic problem.
- Eat the potato, feel good, and go on your merry way.
Pretty easy choice, if you ask me.
Ketosis will ruin your metabolism.
Like I said, I believe staying in chronic ketosis could be a bad idea for some people. That doesn’t mean it’s bad for everyone. Dr. Jeff Volek has lived on a ketogenic diet for decades. So has Nora Gedgaudas. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt has been measuring ketones and maintaining ketosis for (if memory serves) at least two years now. If their metabolisms are broken and their health is going down the tubes, you sure as hell can’t tell by looking at them.
Back during the raging safe-starch debate on this blog, I mentioned that I’ve heard from people who lost weight and felt better after adding some starch back into their diets, and that I believe them. I have no reason not to believe them. I’ve also seen posts and read comments from people who were able to lose weight and keep it off for the first time in their lives after going ketogenic. I believe them too.
A ketogenic diet has clearly been a godsend for Jimmy Moore. Yes, you could argue (as so many internet cowboys have) that if Jimmy can’t keep his weight down on anything other than a strictly ketogenic diet, it means his metabolism is broken. Fine. Drinking a 12-pack of Coca-Cola per day and ballooning up to over 400 pounds by age 30 probably will break your metabolism.
But if going ketogenic allows you to feel great and lose nearly 80 pounds and keep it off, then go ketogenic … unless, of course, you believe it’s better to remain obese while spending years of your life and hundreds if not thousands of dollars undergoing tests, waiting for results, undergoing more tests, digging and researching and visiting specialists and perhaps finally identifying that deep, underlying metabolic problem that prevents you from losing weight while eating potatoes.
Ketogenic diets are stupid because everyone apart from diabetics should be able to consume at least 150 grams of carbohydrate per day.
I don’t think the everyone should eat starch argument makes any more sense than the no one should eat starch argument. All humans have the AMY1 gene, which makes it possible to digest starch. That’s one of the many reasons I believe our paleo ancestors ate starchy plants. But some clearly ate a lot more than others. Let’s review a quote from Denise Minger’s book Death By Food Pyramid:
It turns out the number of AMY1 copies contained in our genes is not the same for everyone. And the amount of salivary amylase we produce is tightly correlated to the number of AMY1 copies we inherited. AMY1 copy number can range from one to fifteen, and amylase levels in saliva can range from barely detectable to 50 percent of the saliva’s total production. That’s a lot of variation.
It sure is. And that means some people can handle a whole lot more starch than others. Research shows that people with fewer copies of the AMY1 gene are more likely to be obese. To quote a study I mentioned in a previous post:
The chance of being obese for people with less than four copies of the AMY1 gene was approximately eight times higher than in those with more than nine copies of this gene. The researchers estimated that with every additional copy of the salivary amylase gene there was approximately a 20 per cent decrease in the odds of becoming obese.
That’s why when people have pointed to the Kitavans as examples of people who are lean and healthy despite a diet very high in starch, I’ve replied, “Good for them. But I’m not a Kitavan.” I haven’t had a genetic test to determine how many AMY1 copies are floating around in my DNA, but given the difference in my weight and health on high-starch vs. low-starch diets, I suspect I’m in that under-four-copies group.
I usually eat two meals per day. To get 150 grams of carbohydrate into my diet, I’d have to consume 75 per meal. Not a chance. After supplementing with resistant starch, I’ve found I can have that potato or squash with dinner and end up with a post-meal glucose peak in the 125-135 range. I’m fine with that. So now I have a potato with dinner a few times per week.
But when I consumed two potatoes (i.e., about 70 grams of starch) awhile back as an experiment, my glucose ended up at 195 and stayed high for two hours. I’m not fine with that. And no, I don’t think it’s because I need to eat more starch to raise my tolerance. That’s just another version of the if you can’t be healthy on this diet, it means you’re not doing it right argument. If I’m in the low-amylase group, there is no way for me to do it right. Yes, I can eat some starch – but only some. Based on my experiences and n=1 experiments, I’d say 100 grams is the upper limit for me. Your upper limit may be higher or lower. We’re all different.
A ketogenic diet will starve your gut bacteria and ruin your gut health.
If there’s one warning ketogenic dieters should pay attention to, I’d say that’s the one … although I think the possible danger lies in a lack of fiber, not ketosis per se. I recently watched a two-part series on the gut biome produced by ABC Catalyst in Australia. The bottom line is that our gut bacteria need fiber, period. It’s their food. I no longer buy the notion tossed around by some low-carbers that fiber is useless. It’s not only useful, it’s probably crucial for long-term gut health.
In part one of the series, researchers did some blood work on a young, very fit gymnast after feeding him a meal of French fries and other junk food. He was surprised to learn that his body was pumping out a higher-than-average level of insulin to normalize his blood sugar – in other words, he was at risk for developing diabetes. (The doctor/journalist who hosted the episode only pumped out half as much insulin after the same meal.) In part two, after a month on a high-fiber diet, the same gymnast ate the same junk-food meal. This time his body required only half as much insulin to do the job. Fiber has been shown in research to improve insulin sensitivity – and since most of us who adopt low-carb diets want to lower our insulin levels, fiber should be part of the diet.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the fiber has to come from starchy plants, but if were on a ketogenic diet, I’d sure as shootin’ be loading up on as many high-fiber vegetables as I could. I’d also try supplementing with resistant starch as soon as possible.
Okay, those are my thoughts about the ketosis pro and con arguments. You may now proceed to the comments and yell “Splitter!”
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