Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What else is wrong with Low Carb Diets?

I had a couple other things to add to my list of common (and wrong) objections to a low carb diet.

1. Low carb high protein diets are dangerous because they can cause osteoporosis.

First off, low carb diets are normally high fat not high protein. So that's silly. Secondly, this is based on some hypothetical reasoning not the clinical data. The logic goes like this (taken from here)

"a diet high in animal protein creates an acidic environment within the body. "When that happens, calcium in bone tissue is used to buffer the acidity. What you get is a lot of bone loss from bones when you're on a high protein diet,"

However, as we know from years of crappy advice, you can think through the hypothetical results of a dietary change and come up with a theory as to what will happen but that is very different from testing. I mean, let's remember that a hypothesis is the first step in the scientific process, not the last.

Here's an actual study of that hypothesis:


This is why I am skeptical of a lot of nutritional advice. Much of it is untested hypothesis, and much of the rest is based on badly designed studies. Thus I have my n=1 experiement.

2. Low carb diets are hard to stick too.

Has anyone out there tried the Ornish 10% calories from fat diet? Diets can be hard to stick to no matter what the composition. Being controversial makes it even harder to stick too. I can say from my own experience, I find low carb eating much easier than the rest because I can eat when I'm hungry and I don't have to count calories. I know, I know, I am counting calories right now but believe me, were I just maintaining my weight, I would not be. I see the calorie counting right now as a way of measuring what is going on so that I can see the results of changes...

3. Carbs are the body's preferred fuel source so limiting them is silly.

The reason people believe carbs are the body's preferred fuel source is because they are burned first, before fat. By the same logic, alcohol is even more preferred because it is burned before carbs. The reason blood sugar is burned first is because it is toxic at high levels so the body tries to get rid of it by burning or storing it. The body ensures it is burned first by choking off the supply from our fat stores so that we cannot burn fat. If the body had evolved to prefer carbs as a fuel source, wouldn't it make sense to evolve stores of carbs for burning? I know, that is just a hypothesis but it does make some sense. Aside from a small bit of sugar stored in muscles and the liver, the body does not keep sugar around. Doesn't that say something?

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