Friday, May 1, 2009

The idiocy is propagated, yet again...

Now, I was supposed to break my fast 90 minutes ago, but since I'm not hungry I decided to stay and rant at yet another 'health' blogger espousing the old low-carb myths without even bothering to reference her ideas. Yes, I'm guilty of wasting time fighting against "someone on the Internet [who] is wrong!!" but what the hey. Since I'll bet she will ignore my post (all comments are moderated, how convenient), I figured I'd stick it up here since it closely related to the path I have been following, and the misinformation that I examined and proved false along the way:

Here's her post:

The Dangers of Low Carb Diets: A Quick Overview

And here's my comment:

Wow. That is the most idiotic, ill-informed post I've read in quite a while.

Who are these "many people" you've spoken to who can't stay eating 'low-carb' (whatever you are claiming that equals - less than 100g carb, less than 20g, zero?) because of the myriad 'facts' you present here?

Here are some actual facts:

Cutting out processed and refined carbs such as grain and sugar allows your body to 'detox' and shake the addiction many have to sugar. You might feel a bit weird for the first week, but isn't that expected for any addict going cold turkey? It's temporary, and not all carb-cutters experience it at all.

Cutting carbs allows you to take control over your blood glucose levels - no more sugar rushes and resultant 'crashes'. Most low-carbers go on to claim they have more energy, fewer mood swings, and clearer heads. Any "struggling to stick ot the diet" that goes on is NOT due to physiological suffering; it's far more likely that the psychological 'deprivation' is too much for some people. That said, for most people, slimming down is more motivation that the short-lived taste of candy.

Quote: "Ketosis (the process in which your body converts fats into energy) is a potentially life threatening condition and can also cause other problems due to the unnecessary stress put on the liver (resulting in potential liver damage)."

You are talking about ketoacidosis, a very different condition. Do your reading. Ketosis is perfectly natural, with many scientists and anthropologists citing that due to the availability of food before civilisation (animals and some plants) it's almost certain that humans existed on the ketones produced by their bodies. The brain actually prefers to use ketones as its primary fuel, and the 25% of the brain that is believed to run on glucose is fueled by the glucose the body can make from protein, etc.

"Unpleasant side effects to low carb diets also include bad breath, constant cravings for sweets, irritability, constipation and low energy"

For those who do not use all of their available energy (ketones) to fuel their daily needs, the body does get rid of them through urination and the breath. Fortunately, we have toothpaste and mint gum. Is it preferable to store unused energy as fat? As for the other "side effects", you are completely wrong. After the initial detox, it's unlikely that you will crave sweets. Hormonal balance is restored, improving mood regulation. Constipation?? Most low-carbers find they are eating MORE green vegetables when they start cutting out refined and processed carbs. Even Atkins states that you should be getting at least 75% of your daily carb ration from vegetables. And low energy may be a result for those who cut their calories as well, but that's not in any way related to carbs. I know many people who have tried Weight Watchers and cut their dietary fat intake - now THAT'S your fast track to fatigue.

You didn't bother providing your readers (if there are any) with the location of your "scoured resources", but here are some excellent resources that actually know what they are talking about:

Jimmy Moore is an excellent, prominent example of how low-carb can be a very sustainable way of life. Gosh, if what you say is true, the poor man must be so depressed, and talk about years of constipation! Surely he must be going in for weekly enemas, right?

Lyle McDonald has written a very insightful, objective book on ketogenic (low-carb) diets which clears up much of the rubbish you have spewed here. He analyses the facts behind what happens in the body during ketosis and why this is at least as healthy (if not healthier) than the typical high-carb diet.

Mark Sisson has taken things a step further - for optimum health, we need to eat the way humans ate throughout history. Eating clean, eating naturally - and given that wheat crops and sugar cane aren't all that easy to find without plantations, let alone refined version, they don't belong in our diet.

That should be enough for you to start learning what actually is going on and why low-carb diets are certainly not dangerous - they are more likely to help you shed weight and restore your body to optimum health than the continuous inflammation self-inflicted by those who stuff themselves with refined, processed, carby junk food.

That said, there are of course people who diet the wrong way - like low-fat diets where dieters think they can fill up on fat-free confectionery, some low-carbers might use too much artificial sweetener, or overfeed on meat and cheese. The bonus for low-carbers is that it's almost physically impossible to eat too much fat-dense food, since fat and protein promotes and sustains a feeling of fullness. Some people also continue to believe that saturated fat is the enemy - while the link between saturated fats and heart problems has been repeatedly severed by scientific research and studies, you can easily maintain a low-carb way of eating and limit your saturated fat intake. So long as you are getting enough protein and good fats like monounsaturated fats, you will still feel sated after eating and avoid the misery of caloric restriction dieting.

And a quick look at me - I started researching nutrition last year, and since all of the science backed up the hypothesis that refined carbohydrate consumption is what is fueling the obesity epidemic, I cut out all refined sugars and grains, as well as starchy vegetables at the start of 2009. I was perhaps 15kg overweight, which is weight I have carried all my life despite living quite an active lifestyle at times. Making this simple change helped me to shed 9kg thus far, and along the way I have made continual progress towards a cleaner, Primal lifestyle, eating primarily meat, vegetables and eggs, with some dairy, fruit and nuts (in the proportions you might find them in the wild - good luck milking a wild boar!). I have spent a lot of time communicating with those on a similar path, as well as those whose research presents opposing views. I am passionate about learning and extending my understandings - nothing is fixed, and I am always willing to adapt my views when presented with evidence.

You, however, have simply trotted out unfounded beliefs without giving us any kind of evidence. And yet no comments appear below your article (unless this one clears your 'moderation' process). Either you are too afraid to allow yourself to be criticised, or no one reads your blog. For your sake, and for the health of everyone, I hope it is the latter.


paul.smithies1 said...

It's not uncommon for sources to be missing, it's likely the readership won't read detailed scientific analysis.

But it's scandalous that academics at the WestonPrice Foundation say Irish peoples evolved to eat fish and lack the required enzyme. That's quite a claim and had no link or sources.

Dan the Man in Tonga-land said...

Wow 5 months later and your comment has yet to appear at "eating naturally," you clearly called that one right. I recently went primal after finding Mark's site, and now just two weeks later I've never felt better. I've noticed a lot of the physical improvements other low-carb eaters have mentioned, as well as minor things that I don't know whether to attribute to my new lifestyle or my own excitement (faster hair growth? better nails?).

It's very easy to be primal here (I'm teaching in the South Pacific island country of Tonga); fish and coconut were already a staple for me and I didn't have much to do to complete the transition. I hope it's as easy to continue to do when I return to the "real world" (Canada) on December 1st. Just found your blog (and your helpful list of links) and its very inspiring. Thanks!

Jezwyn said...

Hi Dan the Man! Congrats on your graceful transition to the Primal lifestyle! I have heard from other sources that hair growth and nail strength have been noticeably improved by butting out refined grains - I didn't notice much of a change but then my hair has always grown like a weed and my nails have been like diamonds since I was little, both being my pride and joy for that reason. I hope they reflect bone strength by proxy, for you and me both! I have had sensitive teeth in the past though, but that has stopped since I went primal. I'd love to think my teeth can now heal themselves naturally, through secondary dentin development... The science supports it, so here's hoping my experience does too!

I reckon you'll be fine when you get back to Canada, although fresh, organic meat will probably hurt the wallet more than it does in Tonga! You may want to fill a suitcase with coconuts to take back with you :)