March 10, 2019
On Saturday, we published an article about a Chinese study on low-carb diets that claims that over the course of 20 years, people on low-carb diets develop heart problems.
Although I agree with the general sentiment, we should not have published this article because it confuses some of the issues, and for that I apologize. I haven’t read the actual study, but the Daily Mail article on it that we quoted acts as though grains are good, which they are not, and it also includes the paleo diet with the keto diet as a “low carb diet.”
I will herein go over the real deal with carbs and keto and paleo and whatnot.
The Basic Thing Here
Remaining on a restriction diet long term is always going to cause problems. Being on that kind of diet short term almost certainly will not. The study was on people who eat like this long term.
The basic reality is that if you are fat, the biggest risk to your health is the fact that you are fat. And anything you do to correct that situation is worth it, regardless of whatever health risks may be involved. And carb management is clearly key to managing weight. One thing that fad diets got right over the last decade is that managing carbs is six million times smarter than managing total caloric intake if you are overweight and trying to lose weight.
The point is, you shouldn’t be overweight. If you are overweight, you should quickly correct that situation.
The first step in that process is to cut out processed foods.
- Anything that contains processed sugar
- Basically anything that comes in a box
You should also cut beans, because they are crap.
You want your carbs to come from:
- Starchy vegetables (including potatoes and tubers)
- White rice
You can simply eat as much as you feel you need to eat when making this switch, and making the switch from processed foods to whole foods will cause you to lose weight without adjusting your carb intake.
Furthermore, if you’re getting all of your carbs from the above approved sources, you’re probably going to only be eating as many as you need, because those foods are not addictive in the way that grains and cereals are addictive.
However, if a month after making the switch to only clean carbs you aren’t losing weight like you want to (this will also depend on your exercise routine), then you can slowly start to regulate your carb intake. Generally, this will mean only eating meat and vegetables on certain days, and so not really eating any carbs at all. You don’t want to cut out carbs completely, ever, because that can cause all kinds of problems, including actually slowing your metabolism and thus slowing weight loss. As a rule, if you are doing a regular exercise routine, you can cut the starchy carbs on the days you do not go to the gym.
Eventually, the goal should be something around a 33/33/33 protein/fat/carb intake, if you are an active person. If you are less active, you can go down to around 40/40/20. The keto diet promotes 65/25/10, which is completely unsustainable in the long term.
Low carbs means low energy. It also means significantly lowered brain function.
The bottom line is that what is currently being called the “keto diet” is a way for women who are aging and too lazy to work out to keep from getting fat. It is effectively an alternate form of the anorexic diet.
Just look at this list of celebrities promoting the keto diet. It is all aging women who are not the athletic sort. They add Lebron James, but say he only did it for two months as a fat-cutting measure. And I guarantee, the two months he did it were in the off-season.
Gwyneth Paltrow has been the main celebrity promoter of keto.
She is 46, and although I’ve found her attractive, she has always done the “skinny chic” look (which I don’t usually find attractive). It is obvious by looking at her that she has never been in a gym.
She always did the Calvin Klein cigarette diet look when she was young.
Bad posture, bone nubs sticking out, all of it.
This is a very different look than the healthier models, who tend to be associated with a Victoria’s Secret look, who are much more athletic.
Look at the muscles in Miranda Kerr’s legs.
You’re never going to hear about her being on a keto diet, because she clearly has a healthy lifestyle.
Fat Producing Energy?
The author of Saturday’s article, Pomidor Quixote (I think that’s how it’s spelled) has been writing about the carnivore diet and in particular, Mikhaila Peterson’s promotion of it. This is a diet that consists only of meat, and is more or less completely insane, especially if done long term. I agree with those articles. And I didn’t even disagree with what he wrote on the last one, I simply took issue with the fact that the source talked about grains and included paleo with keto.
The core concept of keto, or the insaner version of it, carnivore, is that fat produces energy. And fat does produce energy. But the body does this as an emergency measure, when carbs are not available, or when no food at all is available, at which point your body starts metabolizing fat stores on your body.
This is effectively a starvation situation. And if you are fat, and a diet with clean carbs and a good exercise program is not fixing that, then okay, you may want to temporarily engage this. But understand it is an extreme measure and putting a heavy toll on your body.
Paleo is Not a Low Carb Diet
The paleo diet is not low carb. Paleo doesn’t even address the issue of macro nutrients, and simply deals with cutting out foods that were not available to people in the Paleolithic era. In practice, it also includes foods which are more or less similar to foods available in the Paleolithic era, so it may include fruits or vegetables that come from tropical areas that Europeans did not have access to in the Paleolithic era. Fruits, root vegetables and tubers were available in the Paleolithic era in Europe.
The low-carb paleo advocates will say that in the winter, the only thing available was meat. I’m not sure that this was actually true, given that the process of storing food was to bury it under snow, which could have worked for vegetables as well as meat. But it is probably largely true that they were more likely to be primarily sustained by meat during the winter time. However, they were also likely to be sleeping up to 14 hours a day and not moving around very much.
I have tried all of this stuff, and technique has been progressing over the last decade rapidly. With the internet and the general influx of knowledge, it was figured out definitively that the standard American diet was horrible, so people began experimenting.
What I have come to and what most people have come to (or are coming to – I’m a little bit ahead of the curve) with regards to these issues is that low carb and no carb do not maximize the potential of a healthy individual. It unnecessarily reduces energy levels and it certainly does not help with strength training.
If you’re fat, do whatever you have to do to get fit.
But the only reason to stay on an extreme low carb diet is if you are a lazy woman, or if you are going for the “bodybuilder who unfortunately developed cancer” look of AthleanX.
I have written about why I do not think the “lean” look is healthy or even attractive., and how it is basically impossible to maintain the muscle mass of AthleanX without living in a gym like he does. And I have personally been to extremely low body fat as well. I did not feel as though I was maximizing my potential, and this has been the experience of everyone I’ve ever known who’s done it. The only people I’ve ever met who maintain that have extreme insecurity and body dysmorphia.
The goal of everything you do always has to be overall health and fitness. That is the only diet or exercise goal that matters.
Physical health is always the first step of life, and should be the first goal of life. Anyone who improves their physical health is going to feel better emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, but no person has ever improved their physical health by focusing on any other part of themselves. So to be the best man you can be, you must make health your first priority.