While not science, I would be nonetheless keen to hear opinions on CT’s article title ‘6 Diet Facts That’ll Blow Your Damn Mind’. I did question CT on some of the stuff he cited there (as ‘facts’), and he kindly replied. I also note Ellington Darden, another high carb proponent, endorsed the article stating it’s ‘one of the best articles I’ve ever read about carbohydrates in your daily eating plan.’
Is there a link?
Thanks for the link. It’s an interesting article. Here are my thoughts:
Well, I don’t understand the distinction he draws between skipping breakfast and intermittent fasting. I’m not sure the details are correct, but I’ll take his word for it.
As for point 2, ketosis is not a “last-ditch survival mechanism” in human beings. That characterisation does apply in the case of practically every other mammal, but human beings enter ketosis too easily for it not to be an evolutionary adaptation. The reason the body responds so readily to hyperglycaemia is that it is an emergency. Too much serum glucose causes damage. (Unfortunately, the insulin response to drive the glucose out of the blood stream and safely into muscle and adipose tissue also causes damage, and even the muscles’ mitochondria suffer damage when forced to metabolise too much glucose.) On a ketogenic diet, and once fat adaptation has been reached, the muscles actually refuse ketones and glucose in preference to fatty acids (this is the phenomenon called “adaptative glucose sparing” or “physiological insulin resistance”), which would tend to indicate that glucose is not actually their preferred fuel.
As for ketosis versus fatty-acid metabolism, they actually are pretty much the same thing, in the sense that fatty-acid metabolism is inhibited by the insulin response to excessive serum glucose (because dealing with excess levels of glucose is the priority), and high insulin also prevents fatty acids from leaving the adipose tissue by inhibiting the action of hormone-sensitive lipase. Also, ketone bodies are intermediate metabolites of fatty acids, being in relation to fatty acids much as charcoal is in relation to unburnt wood.
A lot of what is said in that section is actually correct, but the conclusion that gluconeogenesis provides too much glucose for ketosis to occur is not. Gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis occur in the liver simultaneously under conditions of low carbohydrate intake; they are stimulated by glucagon and inhibited by insulin. Glucagon is primarily secreted in conditions of low carbohydrate intake, and insulin is stimulated by (among other things) excessive carb intake. There are other regulatory mechanisms that keep glucose in check, as well; we know this because rats and mice that can secrete neither glucagon nor insulin do not become diabetic.
Also, the understanding of fat-adaptation is not nuanced enough. Skeletal muscles prefer fatty acids, though after years of being forced to metabolise glucose they often need to readapt to using them, but other organs and muscles do fine on ketones. The brain can do very nicely on mostly ketones and very little glucose, as Cahill and his team demonstrated in the 1960’s. (And Bikman would argue that the brain might not need any glucose at all, as long as ketones are abundant enough. The brain just wants fuel; it will take what it can get.)
I don’t know enough about cortisol to comment on that section. I do know, however, that high cortisol is not always a bad thing, as long as the rise is short-term.
The section on CICO is actually pretty sensible, as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure that there’s a contingent of forum members that will not agree.
The section on whether carbohydrate is essential in the diet is off base. The term “essential” is used in nutrition in a specific meaning, which is “necessary in the diet for health.” There are nine amino acids that the body requires but cannot synthesise, these are the essential amino acids. If they are not present in our diet, we get sick. There are two types of fatty acids that the body requires but cannot synthesise, these are the essential fatty acids. If they are not present in our diet, we get sick.
There is no “essential carbohydrate” in this sense. His argument that carbs are beneficial for us is a whole other ballgame, and does not need to be addressed; the point here is simply that people have lived on carbohydrate-free diets for decades and been perfectly healthy. Stefansson and “The Bear” are only two of many examples. If carbohydrate were essential to the human diet, these people would have keeled over early on. I forget how old the Bear was when he died. but Stefansson lived well into his eighties. Eliminating fat or protein from the diet, on the other hand, quickly causes severe ill effects, and even death.
Ignoring - or simply being ignorant of - 99+% of human evolution when ketosis was the ordinary metabolic state. Not impressed. Nothing is ‘natural’ about eating more than incidental carbs - and nothing unnatural not doing so.
I think that @PaulL did really good summary. I’ll only add a little bit because I thought of this concept immediately and why let it go to waste?
On his view that humans are or should be primarily sugar burners: what happens to someone who comes into a emergency room and they measure a high blood sugar? Someone comes in with a blood sugar of 4 or 500? Of course, they give them insulin. Why? High blood sugar is poisonous. It glycates cells. It’s where peripheral neuropathy comes from, among other things.
It’s why type 2 diabetes is such a bitch to treat the way they usually treat it. High blood sugar kills you sooner, high insulin kills you later.
The whole discussion of eating carbs vs. getting calories from fat seems to be based on healthy people not the metabolically deranged. He emphasizes body builders, so I’ll extrapolate that he’s writing for young, metabolically healthy people. The idea that carbs are essential for body builders is a routine discussion in the exercise section of these forums.
One of my main criticisms was the recycled claim that the body prefers carbohydrates, because if it was ketones the body would produce them instead. This ignores the basic physiology that circulating glucose is minimal (4 grams) and any excess needs to be removed from the bloodstream quickly. Hence, in the presence of carbohydrates the body has no option but to metabolise glucose. I find this worse than lazy nutritional journalism, it is bordering on fake news!
Why? If you eat a bunch of carbs your body will burn them not ketones (mostly)… that’s preference. The reason can be debated, but that’s still very much a preference. Just as it’ll burn alcohol over carbs.
There are some obviously wrong things there (no, I don’t need 500g extra protein per day just to make my glucose, thank you very much… if I did, I would have died ages ago. it’s not how the body works, it even changes its needs on a different woe, imagine that. that huge protein need with low-carb is so against what evolution does…), some right ones (yes, eating isn’t ALL about muscle gain, health matters too), some kind of “who cares” for me (what we call IF. though I don’t like when everyone and their mother uses a different definition. but at least mislabeling isn’t as harmful as eating sugars because those are important, no matter what our body wants)…
And some probably not fixed, one people needs this, another that, different health, personal factors, goals…
I do want muscles but I want to feel right, first of all. My body is very seriously disagree about very low-carb being there just to be an emergency thing. My mind disagrees as well, evolution again… I can’t not do very low-carb most of the time. It’s needed and I just hope my muscles won’t go weaker instead of stronger (but my weights get bigger… odd thing) just because I don’t eat my 160g carbs (I would be SO carb poisoned all the time and never could do my workouts. well nope I am healthy and probably would learn that again but THAT is emergency to me. suboptimal survival if I can’t avoid eating high-carb in some apocalyptic situation or whatever).
Each to their own, some people need carbs and thrive on it - but others prefer very low-carb and feels loads better on it. Not all of us are people who are fine on high-carb while wanting the biggest possible muscle gain per month. Some of us just want some decent muscle gain, eventually but even more, health, energy and feeling as good as possible.
I am not impressed, it’s one thing that it generalizes and simplifies things too much, people love that, they often like simple better than truth but there are some serious looking mistakes as well.
Not to me. Preference is liking them better but maybe it’s not scientific enough
So the body PREFERS alcohol, a toxin? It doesn’t, it just must get rid of it quickly unless it causes bigger problems.
But maybe it’s just different definition of this word. Whatever, main thing that some of our bodies very much doesn’t want much carbs and works worse with them.
OK, my turn to piss people off
#1: Agree. I’ve never considered skipping breakfast fasting. Maybe I’m a douche.
#2: Agree, we don’t have that switch so that we can “choose” to change WOEs one day. We’re animals, no different than a squirrel or bear that can fatten themselves up and survive a long time without food. The fact we do it by choice and to achieve different things doesn’t change that.
#3: Agree: Plenty of people loose weight without “being in ketosis”, we know we don’t 100% burn one or the other, you can clearly burn way more much faster in ketosis, but the majority of people go the other road. I’ll disagree on his definition of fat adaptation though.
#4: Never had my cortisol checked, but on his #1 and #2 points, I absoloutely had muscle building issues and crap Thyroid numbers when I was doing strict keto for years, switching to CKD/TKD seemed to fix that. On the test levels, I’m on TRT anyways so my levels are AWESOME!.. but not on their own so who knows?
#5: Agree… and surprised a mainstream person acknowledges that there’s more to the full picture than CICO alone.
#5: Disagree with most of his wording here, essential means what it means, and carbs simply aren’t essential whether somebody wants them to be or not. I say that as somebody doing CKD/TKD that takes in carbs, they’re absolutely essential to my progress in the gym, but not to my body otherwise. He’s pushing personal opinion over fact on this one.
While I enjoy T-Nation for some of their content I also take their opinions with a grain of salt. The fitness forums run by specific trainers are fantastic! But I tend to look the other way when it comes to opinion articles such as the one being discussed here. It’s a small group of people, whom work for a supplement company, giving diet advice. They also have a forum for steroid use, so I’ll take what works for me and they can do what works for them.
Fat-adapted skeletal muscles, on the other hand, down-regulate their insulin receptors so that they continue to metabolise fatty acids instead of glucose (physiological insulin resistance). So that means they prefer glucose?
I feel that’s more of a negative side effect than anything, but also feel like that’s a separate thing. However, I would ABSOLUTELY say that muscles prefer glucose. The plates on the bar don’t lie. There is ZERO question my workouts are night and day different from years of strict keto vs TKD/CKD.
Also, I give zero credit to the having the same amount of muscle glycogen once fat adapted as when you’re eating carbs, if that were the case you wouldn’t visually flatten out when you pull them, nor would you gain an inch on the arms after a carb load, even after years of strict keto, they’d be full already if that were true.
I too have much love for TNation but I appreciate they have a business to run and free articles don’t pay the bills.
Supplements like Plazma and Indigo 3G are predicated on higher carb diets, and articles like this are a subtle prompt in their direction.
It’s also worth saying I challenged some of the articles regarding claims made around other supplements resveratrol and curcumin. Some escaped the moderators and some didn’t. You have to accept, it’s their site and they can run it as they like.
But the point is it’s not preference. In a normal working metabolism, insulin will necessarily dispose of glucose in the blood first. Ketone production is halted. There is no choice in the matter.
You’re saying the same thing I’m saying, just from another angle. Either way it’s said the ketones go on hold and the carbs are dealt with. The ketones get their turn again after the carbs run their course whether burned off as fuel or in the case of extreme consumption after they’re stuck in fat cells.
This is the thing that I suspect is different for different people.
I don’t know if the water weight changes are for beginners only or not but it seems not. Some people eat a ton of carbs and they gain a lot of weight, it must be the glycogen and water.
While others have carby days and their weight doesn’t change. I only can explain this with thew level of fat adaptation that keeps the glycogen reserves full on and off keto alike.
Maybe some people reach that harder, it takes more years or maybe it just won’t happen. Maybe being muscular and using the glycogen stores more has some effect too, I have no idea.
I just know that some people have water weight changes when they go on and off keto and others don’t.