Friday, September 29, 2006

Low carb VS Low fat...which makes more sense?

You know, one of the things that all the "experts" say when they argue against low carb is "but if you cut carbs you have to replace them with that means more fat or protein"

But think of it....that's exactly what they told us to do with low fat! For the most part you have to have either fat or carbohydrates to make food taste good. None of us want to eat bland, tasteless foods....but when you remove fat or carbohydrates you have to replace it with the other one or it won't taste as good. Think about an's the yolk that has all the taste...the white, which is almost all protein is pretty much tasteless. Now, you can take that egg white and add sugar and it will be yummy. You can also take that egg white and add fat and make it taste good. Seems like you can eliminate protein, or at least mostly without effecting the taste, but if you remove fat or carbohydrate, you have to replace them to improve the taste.

This is what food processors do when they create all the various concoctions available today. Want a low free cookie? No problem.....we'll just take out most of the fat and add carbohydrate. Want a low carb cookie? No problem.....we'll just remove most of the carbohydrate and add fat. Want a low fat and low carb cookie? Well, we can do it! We do have a host of chemicals that allow us to manufacture fake fat.....and use fiber to add sweetness.....oh and let's not forget sugar alcohols!!! More chemicals!! We have lots of chemicals to create all kinds of "foods"!!

Our bodies require a certain amount of fat and protein in the diet. If you remove 100% of either they body will die. Maybe not right away, but eventually the body will die. However, if you completely remove all carbohydrate from the diet you will survive, and likely even thrive!!

All (usable) carbs are sugar. Complex or simple, they are eventually broken down into glucose. While it is very true that whole grains are better for you than refined....and fruit or veggies are better than candy....they all eventually are broken down to glucose. (Fructose is different, but actually much more dangerous when overdone). If you eat carbs, your body will process them as quickly as possible. Fat and protein do slow down the process, but your body prefers sugar, so it will process that as fast as possible. When you eat more than you need, the body stores it as fat. Fat and proteins have to also be processed, broken down....but they are often recombined in different configurations before they're used. And, since your body prefers sugar, it will ignore the fat and protein, and only process what it needs.

As you breakdown that carbohydrate your body will sense the higher blood level of glucose and begin to produce insulin. Insulin essentially locks on to the sugar to transport it to cells for energy. As needed the cells put out receptors. Each receptor will combine with insulin and allow the cell to absorb the glucose. When there is high blood insulin levels the cells put out few receptors. If the cell senses that glucose is readily available it will only put out a few receptors, because it knows if more is needed it's easily available. Since there aren't as many receptors as there are insulin molecules, the excess glucose and insulin builds up in the blood. As the insulin and glucose levels increase the cells put out fewer and fewer receptors, leading to a vicious cycle resulting in damage to various parts of the body.

Another contributing factor to the whole vicious cycle is that the body identifies a high insulin level which triggers a hunger for glucose. And then, when the glucose is eaten, the body pumps out even more insulin to handle the additional glucose, which leads to the cells cutting back on the number of insulin receptors, which again leads to higher levels of glucose and insulin in the blood. And on it goes.

If you eat excess fat or protein along with an adequate or excess amount of carbohydrate intake the body simply stops or dramatically slows down processing dietary fat. For animals being raised for slaughter, the feed combination is based on the levels of fat and protein in the feces. If the cows are putting out too much or too little fat or protein, the feed is adjusted to a lower or higher level of that macronutrient.

High insulin and glucose levels are undeniably a cause of damage to blood vessels and organs. We know diabetics are more prone to heart disease, kidney failure, nerve degeneration, and a host of other problems. Diabetics are also more susceptible to infection because of a compromised immune system. In the absence of high levels of carbohydrate intake there is no evidence of damage caused by excessive fat intake.

Diabetes also leads to high levels of triglycerides in the blood. Most agree that high triglycerides are in itself a cause or contributing factor in heart disease. Having an intake of carbohydrate higher than the body needs results in high triglycerides in the blood. You levels always go up to a degree when you eat food, but with high levels of glucose and insulin in the blood the levels of triglycerides goes up and stays up. If glucose and insulin levels drop to a more normal level the triglycerides will also go down.

There have been dozens of studies that prove that restricting carbohydrate intake improves glucose and insulin levels in diabetics. The studies show that the lower the intake of carbohydrate, the greater the improvement of blood glucose and insulin levels. There have been no studies that prove that fat intake influences blood sugar or insulin levels. Every study that shows a negative influence of fat has one or both of the following flaws: both trans-fat and saturated fat are grouped together (very common), or the carbohydrate is excessive (even more common). Most studies have both flaws.

No doubt if a person has a diet that is low in carbohydrate intake, but still too high in fat, there will be "damage" to the body. But intake has to be really excessive, essentially too many calories, for fat intake to have a negative impact on the body.

While we are all different in the amount of each macronutrient we need, the levels of carbohydrates that most require is simply much less than is advocated by most "experts". At the same time we are encouraged to eat much lower levels of fat and protein than most of us need.

Since fat does not influence glucose and insulin levels, but carbohydrates do, why would we want to remove fat and replace it with carbohydrates? And, since high glucose and insulin levels cause damage to the body much faster and easier than fat, why would we want to remove fat and replace it with carbohydrates? Makes no sense to me!

For how many years did we live on very little sugar and lots of fat (Hunter-gatherer)? And how many years did we live on moderate amounts of sugar (Agricultural)? And how many years have we lived on refined sugars and almost unlimited quantities of them (Modern Industrial)? many years have we been facing rampant obesity, diabetes, heart disease, degenerative diseases, etc? Yes, we had heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc for a good part of our history....but only since we were pushed to remove fat and replace it with carbohydrates have these diseases gone out of control!

So....which is healthier? To me, it's high fat and protein and low carb. I stick to under 30g/day when I'm loosing....and have found I can maintain nicely on 50-70g/day, but not 70g every day. With low carbohydrate intake I can also eat about 50% more calories, and I have more energy, sleep better, have less menopause symptoms, and use only 1/3 the amount of medication I needed pre-low carb.

My blood lipids are elevated...but my HDL has more than doubled, and my triglycerides are about 10% of what they were. All my values are within the ranges set prior to the arrival of cholesterol lowering medications. I am 52 yrs old.....things are wearing out....and I figure if I've got high level, well maybe it's because that's what my body says it needs!!!!

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