Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 May

A Metabolic Paradigm Shift, or Why Fat is the Preferred Fuel for Human Metabolism

There’s a good reason so many people (mostly the sugar-burners, whose disparate group includes fruitarians, veg*ans, HEDers, body-builders, most MDs, the USDA and virtually every RD program in the country) can’t seem to grasp why a lower carb, Primal approach to eating is a better choice for health and fitness: their fundamental paradigm – the core theory that underpins everything else in that belief system – is flawed. They remain slaves to the antiquated notion that glucose is the king of fuels, so they live their lives in a fear of running low. The truth is, fat is the preferred fuel of human metabolism and has been for most of human evolution. Under normal human circumstances, we actually require only minimal amounts of glucose, most or all of which can be supplied by the liver as needed on a daily basis. The simple SAD fact that carbs/glucose are so readily available and cheap today doesn’t mean that we should depend on them as a primary source of fuel or revere them so highly. In fact, it is this blind allegiance to the “Carb Paradigm” that has driven so many of us to experience the vast array of metabolic problems that threaten to overwhelm our health care system.

It boggles my mind that such a large segment of the so-called health and fitness community would continue to defend high carbohydrate diets with such tenacity. It should all be very obvious by now. The studies keep piling up indicating that carbohydrate intake is the major variable in determining body composition and that excess glucose from carbohydrate intake (especially from processed grains and sugars) is the primary culprit in obesity and in many disease processes. It follows logically that if you can limit carb intake to a range of which is absolutely necessary (and even up to 50 grams a day over) and make the difference up with tasty fats and protein, you can literally reprogram your genes back to the evolutionary-based factory setting you had at birth – the setting that offered you the opportunity to start life as a truly efficient fat-burning organism and to continue to do so for the rest of your life as long as you send the right signals to your genes. Becoming an efficient fat-burner is the major premise of the Primal Blueprint eating and exercise strategies.

But logic doesn’t rule when you are stuck in the Carb Paradigm, so I still see some misguided bloggers decrying the Primal Blueprint eating strategy as potentially harmful for its relatively low carb intake or stating that my advice to “generally keep carbs under 150 grams a day unless you’re an athlete” is ridiculous. How many more times do I have to overhear a trainer advising a still-portly client to “eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day, always with some carbs, so you keep your blood sugar up and don’t go into starvation mode.”? It’s time to stop this nonsense and reframe the current views of human metabolism to accurately reflect the two and a half million years of evolution that shaped the current human genome – a perfect DNA recipe that fully expects us from birth to function largely on fats.

It’s time for a Metabolic Paradigm Shift within the health and fitness world.

The Faulty Carb Paradigm “Logic” Goes Something Like This

The basic underlying assumption is that glucose is the preferred fuel of most cells; BUT, because we can’t store very much glucose (as glycogen in liver and muscles), we need to provide a continuous source of glucose in the form of exogenous carbohydrate (high carb meals) to keep the brain, blood, and certain organs humming along and the muscles primed for activity. AND, if we don’t feed ourselves enough carbohydrate every few hours, our blood sugar will drop and we’ll go into “starvation mode” and cannibalize our precious muscle tissue. AND any lack of regular glucose refilling (i.e. skipping a meal or fasting) will cause cortisol to rise, which will have additional deleterious effects. FURTHERMORE, an excess of glucose in the bloodstream is known to raise insulin and will predispose excess calories (from all sources) to be stored as fat. THEREFORE, we should also be doing a lot of moderate-to-heavy cardio or lifting activity most days to burn off this excess stored body fat. HOWEVER, if we want to be ready and able to exercise frequently and strenuously to burn off our stored fat, we need to eat lots of complex carbohydrates between workouts to refill our glycogen stores. And ULTIMATELY, the only way to lose weight is to restrict calories (calories in<calories out), BUT if you’re working out regularly, it’s almost impossible to maintain a calorie-restricted regimen and still be able to work out hard enough to burn appreciable calories. Sheesh.

Sure, there are exceptions, like the driven and genetically gifted types, who can train long hours, refuel on carbs and not add much body fat (hey, I was one). But unless you love to work out incessantly and have really lucky familial genes, the Carb Paradigm is an unsustainable and ridiculous literal and figurative treadmill, a self-fulfilling prophecy for most people who tend to gain weight steadily and insidiously over the years and wonder why. If you are one of the 60+% of the American population who is overweight, the above scenario plays itself out because you have spent your life programming your genes in the direction of being an effective sugar burner and, as a result, have become dependent on a fresh supply of sugar (carbs) every few hours. Naturally, in the presence of all that glucose, and provided you actually do some exercise, your genes will eventually get the signals to up-regulate the enzyme systems, pathways and receptors involved in sugar-burning and fat storage and they’ll down-regulate all those involved in accessing and burning fat for energy. Of course, that doesn’t make it right, but it sure makes it appear as if glucose is king. What makes it worse, if you don’t exercise, you head down the path to insulin resistance and/or obesity.

The Problem: The Basic Assumption of the Carb Paradigm is Wrong

Glucose is not the preferred fuel of muscle cells under normal human resting metabolic conditions or even under most normal human movement patterns (exercise). Fat is. Sure, given an unlimited supply of glucose and regular refilling of glycogen stores, skeletal muscle will burn through it during exercise the same way a fire burns through kindling when that’s all you have to offer. The body can shift carbohydrate oxidation to keep up with intake. But skeletal muscle can burn fat with great efficiency (and far less oxidative fallout) at relatively high outputs for very long bouts. Cardiac muscle actually prefers ketones, and the brain can run just fine (maybe even optimally) on a blend of ketones and minimal glucose.  Our survival as a species has depended on these evolutionary adaptations away from glucose dependency. Entire civilizations have existed for ages on what is practically a zero-carb diet. Think about this: there is actually no requirement for any “essential dietary carbohydrates” in human nutrition. It’s possible to live a very long and healthy life never consuming much – if any – in the way of carbs, provided you get adequate dietary protein and fat. The same can’t be said for going too long without protein or fat. Cut too far back on either of those macronutrients and you will eventually get sick and die.

The Evolutionary Model

Fat and protein were the dominant macronutrients (when food was even available) over the majority of our two-and-a-half million years as evolving humans. The lack of regular access to food and a scarcity of carbohydrates for much of this time necessitated that we adapt efficient pathways to readily store and access body fat for energy if we were to survive day-to-day and generation-to-generation. Our movement patterns were such that we never required large amounts of glucose or that we needed to store very much glycogen. It was predominantly fats, ketones and the minimal infusion of glucose via gluconeogenesis that got us here. Dietary carbs were insignificant. In fact, when you consider how ridiculously small the body’s glycogen reservoirs are, you understand that it would have been impossible for us to survive as a species if glucose were truly the “preferred” fuel. The liver, the main back-up glycogen/glucose storage facility for the brain and other glucose-burning organs, can only store about 100 grams of glycogen. Less than a day’s worth. Your muscles can only hold another 350-500 grams, barely enough to run for 90 minutes at a reasonable clip, and that glycogen isn’t even available to provide fuel for the brain. Meanwhile, we have a virtually unlimited storage capacity for fat (like 100,000 grams or close to a million calories on some people). The reason glycogen storage wasn’t necessary is because, between our copious fat storage capability, easy access to fats as fuel, gluconeogenesis and ketones, we just didn’t need much. Evolution tends not to reward structures or functions that take up unnecessary space or waste energy.

So How Much Glucose Do You Really Need?

Much less than most people assume. At any one time, the total amount of glucose dissolved in the bloodstream of a healthy non-diabetic is equivalent to only a teaspoon (maybe 5 grams). Much more than that is toxic; much less than that and you pass out. That’s not much range for a so-called “preferred” fuel, is it? Several studies have shown that under normal low MET conditions (at rest or low-to mid- levels of activity such as walking and easy work) the body only needs about 5 grams of glucose an hour. And that’s for people who aren’t yet fat-adapted or keto-adapted. The brain is the major consumer of glucose, needing maybe 120 grams a day in people who aren’t yet on a low carb eating program. Low carb eating reduces the brain’s glucose requirements considerably, and those who are very low carb (VLC) and keto-adapted may only require about 30 grams of glucose per day to fuel the brain (and little-to-none to fuel the muscles at <75% max efforts). Twenty of those grams can come from glycerol (a byproduct of fat metabolism) and the balance from gluconeogenesis in the liver (which can actually make up to a whopping 150 grams a day if you haven’t metabolically damaged it with NAFLD through fructose overdosing). Bottom line, unless you are a physical laborer or are training (exercising) hard on a daily basis, once you become fat-adapted, you probably don’t ever need to consume more than 150 grams of dietary carbs – and you can probably thrive on far less. Many PBers do very well (including working out) on 30-70 grams a day.

The Fat Paradigm

The Fat Paradigm, under which the human species has thrived quite effectively for two and a half million years, recognizes that human metabolism is pre-programmed by evolution to be primarily fat-based (the real preferred fuel). In other words, our genes expect us to function optimally when we consume fats and can easily access our stored fat. The Fat Paradigm acknowledges that the body is able to manufacture adequate glucose as needed. It acknowledges that most typical human movement patterns can be fueled almost entirely by fats and/or ketones (PDF) if need be, but can draw on glycogen when energy bursts are required (and which can then be replaced over time). It acknowledges that fat (and cholesterol) are not the proximate cause of heart disease. It acknowledges that fat cells are designed to release stored fatty acids as required, especially during times of scarcity or fasting. It allows for intermittent fasting as a means of accelerating fat loss without sacrificing muscle tissue. It increases insulin sensitivity, modulates energy and mood swings, and allows for a normal and healthy drop in hunger and cravings. There is a downside, however: you can’t train long and hard day-in and day-out in the fat paradigm.

Now then, having explained all this, please understand that I am not carb phobic. I actually permit more carbs in the Primal Blueprint than many other low carb eating strategies. I prefer to view carbs as the “elective” macronutrient, as a tool to use to manipulate your glycogen levels as needed. Low carb isn’t even the main objective of eating in the PB: eliminating grains, sugars and seed oils are the primary objective. Of course, when you get rid of that crap and naturally limit your carb intake to veggies, root tubers and a few fruits, you almost invariably decrease carbs to under 150 grams a day. And that emulates our ancestral dietary intake.

I came up with a simple Carbohydrate Curve a few years ago that offers a pretty concise picture of where most people ought to fall if they are seeking optimum health and energy, depending on their size, weight, sex, age, goals, etc. Now, many hundreds of thousands of user experiences later, I am finding that the Curve is pretty much spot on for a large segment of the population.

When I say generally that a chronic intake of over 150 grams of carbs can lead to insidious weight gain over a lifetime, I am factoring in the concept that many people are at the effect of a familial genetic predisposition to storing fat easily under the carb paradigm (the 60+% overweight). I am also factoring in the drop in metabolism that happens naturally with age, as well as the fact that PBers don’t NEED to purge and refill glycogen stores every day via exercise. Yes, there are some people (a small percentage of outliers) who might maintain pretty decent body composition at up to 300 grams a day on little exercise. I would bet that they also are selective about the carb sources and do a better job of controlling overall calories, so there’s little excess to store. For most of the population, that 150 mark remains a good average level for maintaining ideal body composition.

Well, that was a lot to digest today. You see where I’m going with this. I need your help in showing the health community that their basic assumptions are wrong and that they need to make a Metabolic Paradigm Shift. I’m sure there will be lots of specific questions, so bring  ‘em on and I’ll do a follow up post in a week or two.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. The human body is adapted to eat a varied diet out of necessity. In my opinion this doesnt prove that we can either function optimally eating high carb OR high fat.

    robertbarnes3 wrote on May 20th, 2011
  2. Thanks, Mark! I will be seeing you on Wednesday in New York for the Q&A on just this subject, and this got me even more fired up to go!

    Justin wrote on May 20th, 2011
  3. THANKS MARK – this REALLY helped me. But could you use some more sources? Some claims you made like “your body runs on fat not glucose” I could not find backed up by a scientific explanation, if you know what I mean.

    Meagan wrote on May 20th, 2011
  4. Ancient societies eating high carb are NEOLITHIC..we’re going back a little more in time to Paleolithic..which is higher fat and lower carbs…HOW many of you know the difference?

    DAVE PARSONS wrote on May 20th, 2011
  5. PB has worked wonders for me and I’m a true advocate. I have a dirty little secret though…I love carbs. I know, I know. I should go scourge myself right now, but I just can’t seem to kick cereal. Probably one of the worst things I could eat.

    I have seriously minimized how much I have though. I’d say about 80% of the time I’m under 150 grams of carbs a day.

    Trey wrote on May 21st, 2011
  6. My weight loss coach has me really watching my carbs. I went off sugar which was really really hard for me. But she lost 100 pounds eating 6 small meals. Being in her 40’s I read about her on-line saw her before and after photos and thought why not we are the same age and I have to get weight off per dr orders and wanting to be here for my 5 kids. Jill has been a great support. You really actually have to see her before and after photo to understand what I am talking about. she is at
    Your information is great. Thank you!

    Havannah wrote on May 21st, 2011
  7. Excellent post on the metamorphosis we all undergo by following the PB! Explaining the reasons why a glucose metabolism is so detrimental to our bodies for the masses that continually buy that failed logic is paramount. Thanks for putting it layman’s terms for all, Mark.

    nachobrawler wrote on May 21st, 2011
  8. Why is there no email link for forwarding articles to others?

    Alex wrote on May 21st, 2011
  9. I would say that generally speaking this is a great advice for normalizing and improvings one`s metabolism.

    Perhaps there is a bit too much preferance on fats but that can be understood in the light of oppostion to general public dietary guidelines.

    But – it is very important that BOTH fat and glucose metabolisms are functioning AT THE SAME TIME. This cannot occur when one isn`t adapted to efficient fat burning.

    Rejecting fat or carbs (which is not the case with PB – 100 to 150 grams average of starch and sugars from fruit seems very appropriate for the majority of people) can be dangerous and can severly damage one`s health.

    Bostjan Remyc wrote on May 21st, 2011
  10. How long is it supposed to take before your body starts working normally again after you go PB? I’ve tried PB/LC a few times for a few weeks at a time, but always had to cut it short after I ended up with severe brain fog and absolutely no energy (and severe sugar cravings). And I wasn’t even very low carb at around 150g a day.

    My heart also beats extremely hard when I eat a lot of meat. This feels scary and makes it almost impossible to sleep. It goes away once I eat more carbs.

    ‘Primal Palate’ wrote that it took her many months of PB to reach homeostasis. It would be great if others could share their transitional experiences as well.

    Don wrote on May 21st, 2011
    • You will experience brain fog and lack of energy. This happens while your body adapts. You have to get past that.

      wozza wrote on May 21st, 2011
    • Hey Don,

      It took me a few weeks of feeling REALLY poor then a couple months of slowly feeling better day by day. I didn’t get that “wake up one morning and feel awesome” thing like I see a lot of people write about. I’ve been primal for almost a year now. I’m almost 40 and feel better than I did when I was 21. Seriously.

      I feel your pain though, sugar withdrawal is just plain not fun. Bacon helps a lot, don’t be shy with it.

      Desert Caveman wrote on May 21st, 2011
    • Don’t worry — it happened to me too. There is no need to push through it… every time I got scared from being so foggy I went to Taco Bell and had 3 tacos and a pop. I was thinking things just weren’t going to work out… Well the taco bell trips ended up being further and further apart, from every 3rd day to every other week… and now I haven’t been there in a month and I’m totally fine on like 50g carbs today. No suffering through mental fog to make it here. Just persistence with returning after my Taco Bell breakdowns.

      justin wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  11. Mark,

    I feel like there’s much evidence to the contrary that there is any one preferred macronutrient fuel for the human body.

    Dr. Guyenet has shown several examples of healthy high-carb cultures. In populations not predisposed to metabolic disorder due to their whole foods and traditional diets, perhaps lots of starch is fine.


    Colin wrote on May 21st, 2011
  12. HI..Has anyone here ever heard of Charles Darwin? He had a theory about location and evolution..
    I’m pretty sure that where we live and the generations of our Ancestors in these locations…along with the food they ate and eat is why cultures in different ares of the globe can consume different foods and thrive…America is very young and the people are from everywhere…and this Agro-business diet has shown that we are some of the most messed up…
    I eat tons of fat and very few carbs and am strong as an ox..can go for days without much food at all…and have noo problems sleeping or eating or thinking…I am PRIMAL/PALEO shows very clear to me..So do yourself a favor..MANAGE this..keep track of your food intakes..It is SIMPLE diet-exercise and a way of life you can tune for you to be in the best health and eat well and live well…EVERYONE is different..find your slice of the Primal life and live it..GROK ON>>>

    DAVE PARSONS wrote on May 21st, 2011
  13. What’s the level below 50 grams of carbs called, Keto/ I.F. mean?

    Bruce wrote on May 21st, 2011
    • Bruce,

      Generally speaking when you consume 50 or less carbs per day your liver runs low on glycogen and starts producing ketones. Ketones are made from fat. This is why people talk about being “fat adapted”. It is the process of “weaning” your body from using carbs to using fat for fuel. The liver will also produce glucose from free fatty acids in a process known as gluconeogenesis. This is a beneficial state because it burns fat AND the conversion isn’t efficient so it has to use a lot of fat to do it.

      I.F. stands for Intermittent Fasting. A daily 20 hour fast would be considered intermittent and would definitely help you get into ketosis faster.

      Monte Diaz wrote on May 21st, 2011
  14. To the poster who made the comments about paleolithic vs neolithic “ancient” societies….does it really matter?

    We live in the present and adaptions have taken place whether or not your inner “grok” wants to acknowledge it or not. We have 8 times the concentration of amylase in our saliva than apes. Guess what, this is irrefutable evidence that we’ve adapted to eating starchy tubers. (Carbs!) And not just a few either…

    Like I said earlier, you can find a culture that has thrived on a diet falling predominantly into any one of the big 3 macro-nutrients.

    So can paleo be low carb? It can. Can paleo be high carb? It can. We need to remember that paleo is a “time period” not a “diet”. Diets have been and will always be varied. The only thing unavailable in the paleo time period is the industrialized processed garbage that makes up the majority of the SAD diet.

    Monte Diaz wrote on May 21st, 2011
  15. One of the proofs given to me that obesity causes T2 Diabetes is that 45% of diabetics are overweight or obese. Well then, that should prove that slenderness causes diabetes too, because 55% of diabetics must be either the right weight, or slender.

    Bill DeWitt wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  16. Could someone give concrete examples on what the different levels of carbohydrate intake would look like? I don’t have any concept of what a gram or 50 or 150 grams of carbohydrate a day would look like. How many grams carbohydrate is fruit?

    Ruth wrote on May 22nd, 2011
    • Go to it’s free and tells you all that info!

      Lisa wrote on May 22nd, 2011
    • For example:

      1 banana = 7g sugar + starch (complete 10g)
      1 small apple = 5-7g sugar
      1 serving Berries = 5g sugar

      Total sugar (carb) consumption coming from fruit = 20-25g

      Do not consume more than 20-30g of total fruit sugar in one day.
      Approx. 2-4 servings of fruit a day.

      That’s on top of having liberal amounts of vegetables 2x a day with your main meals and perhaps a handful of nuts.

      You’d total about 50g – 75g of Carbs a day.

      1 cup of Raw dairy is about 11g I think.
      When choosing Yogurt pick one that’s plain.

      Primal Palate wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  17. As a truck driver I often stop at convenience stores for snacks during my work day. About five years ago I noticed that I was losing weight without really trying, a good thing since I was packing around an extra 30 pounds. Now whenever I put back on those extra pounds I go back to what worked before. A low carb but filling snack of “pork rinds”. Limit my beer and bread intake along with more pork rinds and pounds begin to go away.

    Darc wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  18. Mark
    Again, another great post! I bookmarked it so that I can e-mail it to some workmates.

    They look at me so curiously when I do stuff like scrape the toppings off the pizza (I am not gluten-intolerant), or take a lunch sandwich and scrape the meat off and throw away the bread (you know – the crap that they feed you when you have a lunch meeting)! (lol)

    You are going to not like this, but, I am having some success by uptaking my carbs through a banana and raw legumes/vegetables (5 days/7 for lunch). I know you aren’t freindly towards legumes, but those raw snap peas (or garbanzo beans when I treat myself) are so yummy!

    Evenings (when I can get it down) and weekends are meat-centric (if I even eat at all).

    It isn’t just that I like my vegetables raw (taste matters!), it is also that it is my enzyme replacement therapy. And for enzymes, the food must be raw (below 104 degrees). High enzyme and flora lead to a healthy immune system.

    And despite a fairly sedentary lifestyle (not enough high intensity work) (retired Ultimate disc & 10K racer), I am still getting a fair report from the doctor, to wit:

    – triglycerides 44,
    – LDL just above the optimal level, but particle size is large,
    – could lose about 10-15 lbs (of fat), but also would need to add about 10 lbs of muscle to be in the “sweet spot”

    Just a note, I know how much you disdain legumes, but I thought you might be willing to hear an observation of how that is working out. Maybe? Where you get your carbs does matter? I don’t know – it is something that I am still confused about…

    Iluvatar wrote on May 22nd, 2011
    • I forgot to add. I also eat a lot of peanuts (yeah, I know, yet ANOTHER legume!). Peanuts w/ skin on b/c of resveratrol (beats red wine or grape skins!). I mix it in with other nuts (pecans, walnuts, and cashews).


      Iluvatar wrote on May 22nd, 2011
    • You sound like an old fart with a stubborn brain, and you are paying wayyyyy too much attention to individual nutrients. You do realize that there are hundreds of nutrients in food, right? Nutrients that have yet to come out with fancy names and studies? Buzz off.

      George wrote on October 22nd, 2011
  19. Wow, That was a really good post. Even though I am in Fitness, I don’t restrict my self of things at all carbs or fat as long as I am eating healthy foods. Years ago I tried cutting down on carbs but I couldn’t work out as intense as I liked. Now I just try to listen to my body, if I feel I need to eat carbs I do, and If I feel I need to eat something with fat in it I do as well. Thank you for a great post

    Tatianna wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  20. When I changed my eating life style to meat and veggies and a few fruits, I found I have a hard time getting to 100 grams of carbs a day, let alone 150 grams.

    Bull wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  21. What I’ve found is the main problem with any lifestyle, be it paleo, vegan, vegetarian, is the holier than thou attitudes. Even in this post, everyone’s like, “This is sooo obvious! Why doesn’t it anyone get iiiiit, everyone else is so duuuumb” (I’m paraphrasing; stay with me!)

    The low carbers think they’re right. Vegans think they’re right. Vegetarians think they’re right.

    Lot of references to the average American. What about thin non-Americans? Someone who eats moderate fat, moderate carbs and protein in “standard” ratios of 40-30-30 and doesn’t have weight or health problems?

    A girl can run herself ragged trying to find the right thing to stick with. I’ve flirted with vegetarianism. Couldn’t do it. Won’t even touch veganism. But I’ve never liked meat, so what to do? I like chicken, but I can only eat so much of it before it gets boring, even with a multitude of recipes on hand.

    I don’t believe in very low fat (wtf, at 80/10/10!??) Never again. But low carb also makes me feel like shit, too. Could I get some general guidelines on increasing according to activity? Please don’t ask me to experiment. Being as lean as I am, I’m afraid to experiment and lose weight (be it muscle OR fat), but I’m having a hard time finding a good balance for maintainence.

    Lisa wrote on May 22nd, 2011
    • Hi Lisa

      I think the balance is the key. Like you I have tried being a vegetarian, I also experimented with cutting carbs, but nothing worked for me a well as a simple balanced diet. I don’t like restrictions, but I also eat pretty healthy due to my eating habits growing up. I have to say that I am very lean, and I believe I got that way by not restricting food groups.
      All though it is bad to over indulge on complex carbs, such as white bread, rice or pasta. But fruits and veggies, I eat in crazy amounts.

      Tatianna wrote on May 23rd, 2011
      • Sorry, I made a mistake, When I said complex carbs I meant to say Simple Carbs. Sorry made a mistake.

        Tatianna wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  22. @Lisa — “The low carbers think they’re right. Vegans think they’re right. Vegetarians think they’re right.”

    Yeah, well, that’s the nature of religion. Or the “belief engine” that Tom Naughton talked about on the 4th Annual Low-Carb Cruise. I have had fantastic results from low-carb, but it’s not the answer to life, the universe, and everything — there are still pieces of the puzzle missing. It’s not settled science.

    I’ve been blogging about my own low-carb journey at These days, I’m tending toward low-carb paleo, except that 50-100g/day is not really low-carb. I’m thinking of it as “right level of carb” at least for me, and the SAD is just ridiculously high-carb (with a boatload of HFCS).

    When I went low-carb in 1999, I avoided the “Atkins Flu” by keeping a detailed diet log for a few days to establish a baseline, then cutting back gradually over a period of a little over two weeks. The feel-bad period from cutting back on a really high-carb diet is about the same length as the feel-bad period you get from quitting smoking, and I suspect it’s pretty much from the same cause — breaking an addiction.

    Howard wrote on May 22nd, 2011
    • @Howard – whoa, chopped a part of my comment off before posting. That’ll teach me to not proofread…

      What I meant to say was, those have worked for a lot of people. So to say flat out that vegs are totally off the mark is a little unfair. Though I have to admit a lot of the vegans I know are either overweight, sickly thin, or just sick all the time because of low immunity.

      But if a person is reaching their nutritional targets, does it matter if they do it with a lot of veg, fruit and tofu and not a lot of meat?

      Vegetarian is failing me now; carbs aren’t really an issue with vegetarianism, but fat is! I’ve had to up my fat intake because I was, like a lot of other veg women, getting irregular cycles before they stopped entirely.

      But daily, I pretty much get around 130-150 g of carbs daily. I haven’t gained or lost weight, but I know when I’m on the lower end of things, I don’t always feel well. So it doesn’t sound like a case of breaking an addiction to carbs.

      Lisa wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  23. From what I get to hear a lot..Im never right..LOLOL Life itself is an experiment …Im afraid we all have to experiment ..for there is nothing written that pertains to us all…GROK ON>>> however you do it…to each his or her own…And dont forget the Bacon…

    DAVE PARSONS wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  24. I could not DISAGREE more. High fruit, LOW fat, raw vegan diet is the way to go if you’re looking for not only a lower body weight but also vitality and stamina. Read Douglas Graham’s book 80-10-10. This high fat diet you’re promoting is just giving people an excuse to keep eating animal products, which are high in saturated fats and cholesterol, not to mention antibiotics and growth hormones. You can throw scientific data and any diet, but to claim this is how humans are SUPPOSED to eat is riiiiidiculous. Humans, before all our conveniences had to find food to eat. That was mostly fruit. Look at the way anthropoid apes eat (these animals are closest to humans.) Very high carbon diet (fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.) Less than 1% of their diet is comprised of insects/rodents. Pound for pound, they are 5x stronger than humans and have no real need to even drink water since all the water they need comes from the raw fruits and veggies they’ve been eating all day. I’m sad at the number of people who read his article and now feel enlightened.

    Sunny wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Sunny: I’d suggest taking in a class in either biology or botany. A diet consisting of mostly fruits would mean to starve in any northern states. Ever eat Peaches in January in Ohio? Or how about fresh cherries in October?

      Oh, and bananas don’t exist in Michigan. 4million years on this planet walking upright was not because of your of your “riiiiidiculous” enlightenment experiment. Go get all hippy on some other zen internet forum.

      Daniel Merk wrote on May 23rd, 2011
      • I wonder if the “fangs” we have are for something else… because I have seen the show about Chimps hunting down and eating other primates..
        And …there sure are a lot of fruit trees out on that African Savannah and up in northern Europe….we GROK ON>>>

        Daveman wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Sunny, did you know that you could not find a fruit like you know 10,000 years ago? Nor could you find most of your favorite vegetables. The fruits you think apes eat are mostly bitter, hard and small compared to the “candy on a tree” you may be used to. Secondly, look up the behavioral changes that enabled our fuel hungry big brains, the literature usually mentions breaking bones for marrow and cracking skulls for brains. That’s all about the fat. I was a vegan for 35 years and it almost killed me the last ten. Returning to an ancestral diet saved my life.

      Bill DeWitt wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • So we used the spears and arrowheads to reach all those apples and cherries on trees.
      I guess I could get good at throwing arrow heads at a berry bush…it would take a lot of practice though.
      All those american indians that killed all those precious animals just for their fur (hmm, reminds me of something).
      And all those eskimos that kill all those fish for thousands of years to try and rid the ocean of its ‘pests’…those darn fish just won’t stop coming back, will they.
      And the primitive australians killing kangoroo for the flesh, errr I meant fur…

      No, we did not evolve eating meat at all…I guess non of these cultures got your Memo…eh?

      Primal Palate wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Sunny, I got sick from trying to keep my fat that low. Yes, even with higher carbs. It worked for awhile but I found it impossible to sustain.

      Fruit and veg are awesome and I love them, but I really disagree with 10% fats. When I was keeping my fats at 20-25g daily, I was cold and irritable all the time. I was underweight because the drastic cut made me lose a little, and I never needed to in the first place. I was weak to boot, which was the worst, because I’m normally athletic.

      I’m not saying you need to go and eat meat, but once I played with the fat intake a little, I felt a million times better. I just make sure 20-30% of my calories come from fat now. Little extra olive oil, more tofu or tempeh, anything helps.

      Lisa wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Chimps strenght is their downside. They can’t make delicate, precision movements, necessary for advanced tool making. They are also horrible throwers. This is because in chimps a small number of neurons controls movement of large number of muscle fibers. This gives an easy way to get 100% of muscle strenght utilized by firing a limited set of neurons, but means no fine control.

      Humans are supposed to be selected for having a large number of neurons thanks to the requiements of hunting by throwing. Throwing has accuracy requirements that grow with distance, and unlike in moving across the trees there is no possibility of last-milisecond corrective movement.

      Tomasz wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • No. And I’ve read that back in the primal days, fruit as we know it was not easy to come by. The fruit you see today was all modified and selectively bred.

      And I would strongly caution eating massive amounts of fruit unless you can point to a study that shows the body handling the sugar from whole fruit differently from refined sugar.

      Fructose greatly accelerates glycation.

      George wrote on October 22nd, 2011
  25. Daniel Merk… Hippy police. I have too little time this morning to go into eating what’s in season and remembering humans didn’t start out in cold climates such as the Midwest. I would like to recommend the book titled, “80-10-10” for anyone looking to be UNbrainwashed by the meat and dairy industries… or maybe you could read it for the sake of playing Devil’s Advocate.

    Sunny wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • So it looks like more meat for us……dont forget the bacon!!!!
      Your talking to the wrong crowd here…go talk to a vegan page…we have more books than your one …and they are written by PHD’s and others who have done the homework… forgot to say”organic”
      if your so TUNED into that routine…

      Daveman wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Sunny, your theories on your vegan experiment/spirituality movement doesn’t interest me. Was a vegetarian for 10 years and was tired of being sick. Good luck with your experiment. We’ll see ya in a few years when your bones break and your hair keeps falling out. Biology tells us this.

      Daniel Merk wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • I feel sorry for your bones….

      Primal Palate wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  26. Keep destroying the planet to satisfy your appetite. You’re right. The meat and dairy industries can just buy us a new earth when this one is tapped out. If your TWO pansy ass, tiny little canines and your lightning fast speed and razor-sharp claws (haha!!) Are enough of a reason to pretend to be omnivores, cool. But your cooked, seasoned, sauced-up meat is not the caveman diet you’re all so proud to be following. True carnivorous can hunt, chase, bite into and rip apart an animal. They devour every trace of meat in their bones, including their face, eyes, guts, etc. All RAW. I dare you to kill a chicken and then eat it’s flesh. You know what? Even try boiling it before you eat it to make it more tolerable. It tastes like shit. Be meat lovers. Go ahead. But claiming it as natural to the human race is a joke. Calling on evolution to make a point is showing a misunderstanding of the way evolution works.

    Sunny wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • You can’t seriously claim that humans evolved being vegans?

      On the other hand I understand what you mean. If we keep promoting this way of eating within a short amount of time we’d be out of resources.
      We are already short on resources, that’s why there are feedlots and empty oceans.
      People need to stop having 3+ children. Population control is in order.

      Also, Mark Sisson doesn’t promote a high meat diet, in his book (which you probably haven’t read) he states that the bulk of the meals are supposed to be vegetables!

      Most of us here don’t buy feedlot meats and chicken from commercial stores fattened on soy. I agree, that type of chicken does taste like shit!

      Primal Palate wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • And – forgot to meantion this one, we do have Vegetarians on board of the primal diet, too.

      Primal/Paleo just means cut out things we didn’t evolve on FOR SURE, which is grains and processed sugar.
      Can’t argue with that. You can be vegan and primal.

      Primal Palate wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • We agree. The dairy and meat industry is indeed taxing the planet. But on this forum, we work with farmers, not big agri business. Also, this forum is all about veggies and animal protein. Lastly, don’t fool yourself into thinking that by giving up on animal husbandry the plant farmers are going to save the planet. Just about every species smaller than a cat suffers. There are plenty of books on the subject.

      Daniel Merk wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Ah – and there it is…

      If vegetarian eating is about health – why do you lot ALWAYS default back to the ecology argument!?

      You have NO understanding of evolution if you think that the fact we no longer eat meat raw is proof that we are not meant to eat it.

      We CAN eat meat raw, and if we couldn’t cook we would. But cooking makes food easier to digest and enables us to access nutrients in foods we could NOT otherwise eat.

      What is more an issue is you are so dogmatic about your view, you FAIL to recognise when you are making points against your own argument..

      NO OTHER ANIMAL cooks it’s food!!!

      Why don’t you eat all your food RAW!?

      Tell you why:

      1) Potatoes – inedible
      2) Wheat – inedible
      3) Corn – inedible
      4) Rice – inedible
      5) Legumes – inedible

      In fact ALL the above are either poisonous or at a minimum toxic enough to make you VERY sick if you don’t cook them!!!

      Most primates are omnivores. Humans do not require claws, as we can track and hunt and even use tools. Additionally, opposable thumbs mean all primates can hunt without claws.

      Our digestive tracks are FAR too small to be true herbivores (i.e. only eat green leafy matter and fruits).

      Humans CAN get by eating the above GRAINS, as despite our anatomy that is too different from animals that are are truly able to eat plants, these food sources give us energy quickly enough to be useful… but they ARE TOXIC raw!!!

      So it is impossible for a human to be a vegetarian, because for those of us that UNDERSTAND evolution:

      1) prior to eating grains (10,000 years ago) eating only vegetables/fruit would meant starvation

      2) And prior to 50,000 years ago we could not cook our food, so we couldn’t eat the grains and legumes and potatoes etc listed above that are toxic for humans when eaten raw.

      So why don’t YOU eat your food raw?

      You wouldn’t survive without MODERN farming giving you YEAR round fresh fruit.

      If you just ate vegetables, with NO grains you could NOT survive.

      And as to your environmental concerns – you are completely ignorant of the FACTS

      1) Corn and soy farming causes some of the WORST environmental degradation of land on this PLANET – PERIOD.

      2) CORN/Soy/Grain fed animals are definitely a problem for the health of our planet and our own health

      3) Cows, chickens, pigs, sheep etc raised on GRASS are environmentally GOOD. This is a fact. There were up to 60 million bison in North America roaming the plains.., the reason the plains of North America were so fertile was due to these animals.

      Where ever on the planet there are NOT grazing animals the land DEGRADES to arid land…

      Grazing animals provide part of a CHAIN of life.

      You pseudo greenies that use your eating habits to push a flawed agenda, do not TRULY understand ecology, you have a “religious” or philosophical belief, and you use emotion (like your rant above) to push your agenda and try and make people feel guilty…

      Well go actually learn about ecology and nature AND Evolution…

      You will find that you disgust for meat eating is so fundamentally FLAWED. The fact is – without meat eating animals and humans the planet would not have as much biodiversity as it does today.

      Of course I am wasting my time on you (but perhaps not some other person reading this)… as you would NEVER give up your belief system – no matter what the ACTUAL FACTS…

      Luke wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • This is a quote from Mark; The lion’s genetic makeup was shaped by meat-eating. Its teeth and claws are made for killing, its digestive tract is meant to process protein and fat. You might even say the lion’s genes expect the ancestral lion diet of raw meat and function best on such a diet. Conversely, a diet that diverges dramatically from the ancestral lion diet will probably be harmful…”
        Humans do not have this make up, we do not have the digestive system to eat meat, we do not have the teeth. Look at a carnivore’s teeth, nothing is similar. I do believe that we should not eat any type of grain, it wasn’t around as we evolved. I think eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, fish, anything that was easily available to early humans is what we should eat. Agriculture is destroying our plant and health. If we did not eat meat, there would be no negligible pollution. 90% of the worlds agriculture is for the animals people eat, not for humans. Only 10% is realized back in the form of a food that is not digestible, unless cooked, and unhealthy for humans. The beef industry pollutes, uses more energy, more fuel and more fresh water than all other reasons on earth. We already eat too much meat . Why do you need all this fertile land if we do not need the agriculture? Just to pollute the planet? If you cook anything over 104, it looses any benefit for nutrition. The human body actually functions best on fruit, it digests and gives you energy in 20 to 30 minutes, veggies take 4 to 6 hours and meat never really digests or gives you energy. Your argument about athlete’s don’t matter because very few are, what about those that are? Try eating anything but fruit before a day of high exertion and see what happens. Digestion is the #1 user of energy in your body, about 75%. You only have 25% left to perform if you ate meat, even the day before. I believe a lot about this PB diet, everything but the meat! There is far too much evidence against raising, grazing, feeding, torturing and murdering animals for man’s food, health, pollution, ethical and moral issues to think that is acceptable. almost all the meat available is garbage because the animal was fed grains that it is not supposed to eat. And given drugs and steroids to help it survive and make it fat. I am 66 years old and still perform better than most teenagers at an extreme sport that requires more physical conditioning that any other for over 45 years. I have not ate any meat in 30 years and stopped grains 5 years ago, mainly the PB diet without the meat. I am in perfect health and have never taken a single drug of any kind. I am totally NOT religious either, morality does not come from a god. Those are the actual facts.

        B wrote on December 27th, 2011
  27. I think this is dangerous. To write such and article with spiritual consepts and just play it on your way of eating as its the new jesus. This is just redicoulus. It harms the body, people and the planet. Do you really want to smell like dead animals? kill young animal babies so you can get their milk. Please share some real facts that has been published and supported of all this claims. Not just some paradigm bullshit shift that you claim. If its one thing that has increased around the world the last years is meat and dairy and animal products in total. The results, the world a sicker place. People doesnt have empati, their ego is bigger then the planet. They rape, kill, does whatever just to satisfie their ego and status.

    Karl wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • “kill young animal babies so you can get their milk.”

      “People doesnt have empati”

      “They rape, kill, does whatever just to satisfie their ego and status.”

      What are you, 12?

      Check out some conspiracy theories by Jessie Ventura, you’re really gonna flip.

      Nobody wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • There has also been a increase around the world in the last years (speak English much?) of corn, soy, wheat and rice products in total – so all the raping, killing and satisfying egos must be due to those things!?

      Luke wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  28. What are your thoughts on Ezekiel bread as an alternative to breads?

    Dan Gatta wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  29. Big agriculture is killing the planet whether it is to grow wheat or cows. There is an alternative but it requires actual education, not slogans and labels. Such as Allan Savory’s efforts to reclaim deserts with a return to a denser population of free grazing meat animals.

    Bill DeWitt wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  30. Sunny — I find it funny that you are telling people to read 80-10-10 when you haven’t even finished the book yet.

    Maybe we should eat a shit load of fruit and end up like this kid…

    Or maybe we could eat 4000 calories of fruit a day and gain 60lbs in less than a year like one of your “peacekeepers” on 30bad did. The crazy thing is…instead of telling her to cut back, the cult members are congratulating her on her weight gain?

    If my wife gained 60lbs in a year I would throw her ass out. :)

    Issac wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  31. ..good thing we didn’t step in it….

    Daveman wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  32. Oh gosh! Was I ever troubled by some of the latest posts.

    You want to “right-size”

    Iluvatar wrote on May 23rd, 2011
    • Holy Cow? What did I do to screw that UP? Doh!

      But anyway, a healthy diet starts off w/ EATING UNPROCESSED FOODS!

      It is a major pain, and it takes a lot of time – but that is the first step – for you and your children.

      You do prep cooking on the weeekends – USING REAL (store bought) foods – and they you prep it.

      You DON’T JUST eat a veggie-only diet; & and you DON’T just a meat (& fat) only diet – YOU EAT THEM ALL!!!!

      It is a balance! A balance set forth from our primevil (sp?) heritage.

      Dudes! We ate meat & we ate vegetables!

      And the latter we ate RAW! (Enzymes)

      And the latter led to a healthy gut (along w/ a rad-hard ample supply of bacteria!)

      Which led to a healthy gut!

      Which led to a healthy immune system!

      And the rest led to healthy brain function (saturated fats), healthy bone & muscle development (fats as well as meat protein)

      So please check out HOW you are DOING IT before you make your disclaimers!

      HOW you eat your veggies, HOW you eat your meat – MATTERS (and ob btw, I HATE non-extinct dinosaurs called CHICKEN – yuk!) – I want meat from mammals – just like we used to eat about 4 million years ago – KAY?

      It is about eating a DNA sequence that closely resembles my OWN!

      best, Iluv

      Iluvatar wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  33. But I really love cheese..and bread

    Rob wrote on May 24th, 2011
  34. Most of us go through rough times trying out different diets and lifestyles. Most times we get disappointed when the promised healthy results doesn’t show up or when health degrades after years on a typical wondrous diet. I am no exeption. 2009 I and my family went LCHF – Low Carb High Fat (Sweden). And it was good,initially and especially for me with a history of dieting away even being a raw foodist.I thought that finally I can eat FAT, BUTTERS and CREAMS without guilt or fear.Suddenly I was more accepted by friends and familys. But that didn’t last long. And thank God for that…I only regret that i didn’t listen to that little, little vioce whispering to my logic much earlier but all in good time, right!? Well, I developed a tremendous thirst for juicy, ripe fruits(?)I became constipated, aching from a new kind of fibromyalgia (wow)all over my body, dandruff, slow minded/thinking and other weird reactions. But, what else to eat!? Fruits are dangerous, fats are dangerous, not this and that…total confusion and disappointment. ‘Til I onne day surfing around the Internet for SOMETHING, I hit Freelee’s vids. I recognized the message but never fully understood. Today, I follow the 80/10/10 almost 100% and can experience results already! But fruits are dangerous!? Hm – nope. I thrive on them, Freelee does and many many more – perhaps even LONG term. If so, I can only work for enlightning the world and ask of Gods blessig to do so. Live a little; is a very good saying. Yes, let’s live a LOT, eating whole fresh ripe products without blood, pus and suffering…Love and Peace, over and out ♥

    Lena Buhr wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • Interesting. I have been following LCHF for a little over 10 years now (back well before it got to be popular in Sweden), and I have not experienced any of the problems you described. I would suggest you post this to which is a blog run by Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, a Swedish doctor. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Eenfeldt on the 4th Annual Low-Carb Cruise.

      TXCHLInstructor wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • Lena, I’m glad you found something that works for you but hope that you supplement and please do keep track of your blood sugars.

      Looking over the 80/10/10 diet, I notice that most of the food is not available locally for 3/4 of the year in my area (probably even less in your region). My food is all grown locally, sustainably, organically while your’s was mostly flown in from monoculture farms cut out of the rainforest. I’ve seen the deer, rabits and birds coexisting with my food, while your food requires massive wildlife death to make way for tractors, trucks and airplanes. Mine requires 1/1000 the fuel as your food to transport it to my table.

      If you are ethnically Swedish, it is even less likely that you are adapted to a Fruitarian diet. Good luck, and God Bless, but seriously, check your A1c often.

      Bill DeWitt wrote on May 24th, 2011
  35. Very interesting read and enjoying all the comments. I have a HUGE hate for how almost every lunch bar / cafe / restaurant bases their meals around carbs, pads all their salads out with pasta, rice etc. and it’s soooo hard to buy decent protein when you’re out and about. Luckily I learned to cook and now take my own food with me everywhere. I just wish more food places would stop pandering to everyone’s ‘carb addictions’ as I love eating out but it’s so hard to find good low carb choices. I feel much better on high protein and looooove coconut and nuts, and train so much harder and feel better and lighter on a 50 – 100g carb per day diet. Thanks Mark for your honesty and explanations!

    Kat Millar wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • have cooler…for travel…
      we think along the same lines..
      I keep my carb load at the zero to 50 range…And never have any problems with lifting- moving- thinking- grokking…GROK ON>>>

      Daveman wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • It’s all about cost. Carbs are CHEAP food, and those restaurants are making money by feeding them to us. Adding a cup of pasta to a salad is far cheaper than adding a cup of chicken. It’s all about dollars and cents, and they could care less about our health.

      Ann wrote on June 6th, 2012
  36. Been Primal for a few months now. In general I feel great and I’ve lost a decent amount of fat, but I have to say it’s been a real challenge finding the right balance of carbs to both promote fat loss and at the same time prevent burn-out from exercising. I know carbs are not suppose to be necessary, and my workout routines are Primal, but I really do notice a positive difference when I consume things like sweet potatoes after workouts. I do not consider myself necessarily an athlete, but I do lift heavy things about three days a week and move around enough other days, so I would love to hear more on tips for balancing fat loss with exercise on a Primal diet.

    Matt wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • Remember that Primal cuts out grains, legumes and processed sugars.

      You can eat potatoes and fruit. Especially if you lift heavy things and need the glucose for your muscles…they recover much faster with a little help.

      I’ve read that only people that want to trim down to an unhealthy level of body fat do 3-4 days of low carb meals + work outs…followed by 1 day of high carb meals (rice, potatoes)…followed by 1 day of Fasting.

      This is supposed to bring your fat % way down…your blood sugar took a dumb after the high insulin meals of the high carb day and now if you don’t eat the day after that your body has to burn fat to produce normal blood sugar levels again.

      4 days low carb, 1 day high carb followed by 1 day fasting…rinse repeat. You can make it 5 days low carb if you’re counting weeks.

      The rest of us who don’t care about a 5 or 10% body fat can eat potatoes and still be way under the average SAD’er.

      Nobody wrote on May 24th, 2011
  37. Okay, how about this scenario:

    Take two people.

    Drop them in the woods, say, 200 miles from the nearest civilization.

    One is given a bag of corn starch.

    The other is given a gallon or more of any kind of fat you choose.

    Each must hike to civilization eating only their macronutrients. One can only eat fat, the other carbs.

    Which one do you think will make it first?

    My point being, carbs provide a better fuel source for metabolism than fat does.

    I would bet the house that the corn starch fed hiker gets out first.

    This is backed up by any elite level competitive athlete, anywhere. NONE eat a low carb diet. NONE.

    soahc wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • OK, three days later we find the cornstartch man less then halfway there, still trying to choke down a dry powder, but the animal fat, *ketoadapted* man simply emptied out the fat, used the bucket for water, and walked fasting three days until he reached civilization. A fat burning metabolism will not run out of energy (at any reasonable walking pace) until all fat stores are depleted. Sugar metabolisms run out every couple of hours or so.

      Bill DeWitt wrote on May 24th, 2011
      • No, my point is, a carb burner will be able to hike faster. Sure, the fat burner may be able to go longer without eating, but as long as the carbs are available, the carb burner will be able to hike faster.

        Corn starch is easily assimilated mixed with water.

        And, again, no elite athletes eat low carb. WHY IS THAT?

        soahc wrote on May 24th, 2011
      • Oh, I see your point. You say that since the corn starch will weight a lot, and the fat burner will not have to eat as often, the fat burner will be able to hike faster because they can just eat a bunch of fat then ditch the rest and keep hiking without food.

        It really depends on what kind of survival situation. Long term, ketosis may be a better state for survival in famine, however when the need for explosive activity arises, like fighting a mountain lion or sprinting, the carb burner would fare better.

        You’ll never see a Mongol wrestler on their traditional diet winning the UFC.

        soahc wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • “My point being, carbs provide a better fuel source for metabolism than fat does.

      I would bet the house that the corn starch fed hiker gets out first.

      This is backed up by any elite level competitive athlete, anywhere. NONE eat a low carb diet. NONE.”

      There is a difference between ideology and evidence. Unfortunately for you, the evidence is much more equivocal and indicates that a high-fat diet can indeed play a large part in preparing endurance athletes for competition. Specifically, in several studies there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of athletes using both HC and HF diets. Just for starters:

      There’s plenty more available if you use your webz foraging skills to expand your horizons beyond vegan sermons and echo chambers.

      Todd wrote on May 26th, 2011
    • “This is backed up by any elite level competitive athlete, anywhere. NONE eat a low carb diet. NONE.”


      How about world-class Swedish triathlete Jonas Colting? He is on the record as stating that a high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach has not only improved his health but also maximized his athletic performance in competitions. He has won the Ultraman World Championships in 2004 and then again in 2007 as well as high finishes in the Long Distance World Cup in 2001, 2004, and 2005.

      Also I do recall a female low-carb athlete at least placing )if not winning) a recent iron woman championship…

      Also – to your experiment, if already adapted to their diets (switching off carbs takes 2-4 weeks to detox) then the guy with the fat will win – PERIOD. He (or she) will even likely have fat left at the end (a gallon is a LOT of energy (fat is 9 kcals/g – compared to carbs being 4 kcals/gm) Meaning your carb person would have to carry DOUBLE the weight (assuming equal density of food calories) to have the same number of calories.

      However even if not adapted – your experiment is flawed. If they have enough energy with them – they both get there.

      Lastly – as has been suggested, if someone is already n fat burning mode, then they can EASILY dump the gallon of fat and just run unencumbered by any additional weight.

      A 75kg (165lbs) man with 10% body fat has 7.5kgs (16.5lbs) of fat to burn… if they have not been eating carbs, and hence switched into fat burning mode they can EASILY use their fat stores as energy.

      200 miles would require maximum 28,000 kcals (assuming 25yo, male, 5’11” running at 7.5 miles per hour for 30 hours (allowing for SOME rest – as 30X7.5 is more than 200 miles, so the kcals required is LESS than that)

      With 7,700 kcals for 1kg (2.2lbs) of fat, this 28000 kcals would burn 3.6kg (7.9lbs)

      Leaving 3.6kg body fat, which equates to 5.5% body fat remaining.

      If eating the carbs – they would need to CONSTANTLY stop and refuel, as their bod would not be able to easily access body fats…

      The reliance on carbs for these events is evident to ANYONE that has used a carb gel during a long race.

      Even for a marathon (42.2 km/26 miles), runners have to dose up on carbs from gels or drinks… so 200 miles would definitely require the same regular dosing.

      In competitive sports there is no doubt carbs give bursts of energy, which results in performance, but so do steroids, doesn’t mean it is good for you.

      Fact is NO ONE has done the proper trials to check who would win in your scenario.

      However this study did look at runners:

      Only issue is everyone is so indoctrinated into believing fats are bad, that “13 runners failed to comply fully with the third regimen, complain- ing that it was too fatty, even though they gained no weight”

      The third regime being “45 percent of calories” came from fats.

      Results are there:

      “At the end of the two fattier diets, the athletes increased the amount of time they could run at peak capacity by an average of 7 percent—or about 30 seconds. Overall endurance increased 14 per- cent, and exercise-induced muscle fatigue decreased. Moreover, the study found that runners who consumed the fattiest diet used their stored energy more efficiently than they did when on the lowest-fat diet.”

      May have been better if the morons worried about eating fats had complied, instead of believing the DOGMA that fats are bad.

      So let’s set it up, with a high carb and low carb athlete… still willing to bet your house?


      Luke wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  38. Actually they won’t have to eat any fat at all. If they are already ketoadapted, they can burn body fat as easily as dietary fat. Look on the first pages of this thread and find the youtube link to the hunter who ran down his prey over 8 hours with just water. Carb addicts can’t do that. As for your “Elite” athletes, the paradigm has not yet shifted, so of course most athletes follow the outdated carb loading advice. That’s called “Argument by Authority” and is a fallacy used when the facts are not sufficient to support the contention. I suspect that if someone points to an athlete who does eat low carb, you will shift the definition of “Elite” until it excludes that person.

    Bill DeWitt wrote on May 24th, 2011
    • No, if they are in ketosis, they will NOT be able to push as hard as the person burning carbs.

      Call it whatever you want, if the paradigm shifts and gymnasts, boxers, wrestlers, and sprinters start using fat as their primary fuel, I will eat my words.

      But they won’t. It will never happen. Look, don’t you think that if fat was a better fuel source, elite athletes would be using it by now? These are people that will go to no end improving their performance by any means. Of course they would have changed their diets away from carbs if fat is better.

      Put a 25lb sack of corn starch on my hikers back, and they will hike out faster than your ketosis hiker who carries NOTHING. All else being equal, both being people of average fitness.

      Again, I would put money on it.

      The burden of proof obviously rests on you, since no current athletes run on ketosis (unless they do and don’t talk about it).

      soahc wrote on May 24th, 2011
      • No current competitive athletes that is, IE the ones who win.

        THat includes sprinters and endurance athletes. If fat adaptation is so much better, why wouldn’t marathon runners on an olympic level do away with gatorade type drinks? After all, they make a living, many from poor countries, competing. Seems like they would make any adjustment in macronutrient ratios necessary, but still they carb load and drink sugary drinks and gels.

        soahc wrote on May 24th, 2011
        • carbohydrates serve well as a fuel when you are doing high intensity activity because glycogen oxidizes as fast as you take in oxygen, and that’s what you want when you are doing high intensity heavy breathing activity. and the body has limited stores, hence why athletes refuel often.

          but day to day, a diet that is high fat, low to moderate carbs increases stock performance.

          So yeah, use carbs for high output activity if you want.

          George wrote on October 22nd, 2011
      • I could ask you to prove that none do, since there are some on this board who do. But no one denies that carbs are a faster burning fuel. But you have switched from a 200 mile hike, to fighting mountain lions to sprinting. In the rare instance that you have to fight a mountain lion, maybe a handful of berries is a good idea. For most of typical human endeavor, and for long term health, fat is the better fuel.

        As for proof, I don’t need to be convinced. I am on record (in another forum) for fasting three days and maintaining my level of exercise. Not “Elite” by any means, but beyond normal daily levels by quite a bit. I posted detailed records of activity and BG readings. If you want to find out if it’s possible, you will have to make the experiment yourself.

        Bill DeWitt wrote on May 24th, 2011
        • There is nothing to prove. Ask any elite athlete what they eat, and they will say carbs. Of course I can’t prove that ‘none do’, so you will have to be satisfied with the vast majority.

          And no, I still argue that a carb burning hiker could go 200 miles faster than a fat burning hiker, all else being equal, and given the carb burning hiker had access to carbs.

          Berries are nothing, barely any calories in them. Corn starch would be leagues better as a fuel source for high intensity exercise.

          The proof is in the (high sugar) pudding. If fat was a better fuel source, for explosive or endurance exercise, world class athletes would have made the switch.

          soahc wrote on May 24th, 2011
      • Man I don’t really want to step into this, but there are athletes that are currently doing paleo and talking about it.

        Additionally, many of the elite CrossFit guys run pretty strict Paleo.

        I’m not saying there’s not a place for carbs – no one is. In fact, all the big players in this (Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson) all advocate carbohydrate intake in addition to protein and fats. They also advocate more the more active you are. They just don’t advocate the carbs found in grains and legumes.

        Hal wrote on May 24th, 2011
      • Put a 25lb sack of corn starch on my hikers back, and they will hike out faster than your ketosis hiker who carries NOTHING. All else being equal, both being people of average fitness.

        YOU HAVE NO PROOF of this…

        You are taking what you know/believe.

        Why are there no athletes doing this?

        1) the entire SPORTS industry believes what you believe!

        The coaches and nutritionalists don’t know that they could do things differently.

        As you your mountain lion scenario – endurance is different to sprinting… and in a sprint situation, fats are a great fuel

        Also, your belief has been disproven… look at the links to the information people have posted, including the one I gave you above – both endurance and ability to maintain peak speed improved!!!

        2) regarding the gatorade thing – I’ll tell you why – cause gatorade couldn’t earn millions selling people sugared water if people realised a steak with some fats would mean you can perform without their product!!!

        The entire FOOD industry is skewed towards corn, soy, wheat and SUGAR – PERIOD… and they love having unquestioning lemmings like you that spout off about elite athletes as a reason to keep eating their crap.

        3) Even Mark (the author of this post) notes that if you are doing a lot of exercise, or competing at an elite level you can up your carb intake, because carbs are a cheap easy (and nasty fuel – like I said steroids get great performance – but not good for you)… But here is the FACTS, 99.99% of the population are NOT elite athletes – not even near it… and even more so more than 99.99999999% of the population will never be in your silly hike test, and even if they were – it would be ONCE.

        Actually the burden of proof rests on YOU… Just because a infinitesimal percentage of the population that engages in elite performance sport MAY (and again – it is yet to be properly studied) be better off using carbs as an energy source, the fact is this is NOT what normal life is, and so the burden of proof is on you to prove the higher carb, low fat method is good for everyone else, because ever SINCE we adopted the approach you are advocating (and ever since the likes of gatorade started selling their drinks to people that DELUDE themselves into thinking they are some sort of athlete) obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, depression, crohns disease, MS have been on the rise, and it can be traced in nearly every country to when health authorities in each country started advocating the low fat – higher carb food pyramid…

        And anticipating you will bring up sedentary lifestyle… explain how before the 1970’s obesity was rising at a pace only a fraction of what it is today (increased sugar consumption – but no low-fat higher carb diet recommendation until the mid 70’s), yet belonging to a gym was near UNHEARD of, doing yoga, pilates, private personal training session – all the same – nearly ALL organised exercise just didn’t exist… the fact is in terms of total hours spent exercising there is MORE for a lot of people – and they are STILL overweight.

        It is DIET… you cannot out exercise poor diet and poor diet includes carbs – and ever since we were conned that carbs are good the WHOLE world is getting fat!!!

        Luke wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  39. OK, yes, if you manipulate the test until only a carb diet will be best, then the carb diet is best. Do you, in reciprocation, agree that if you don’t manipulate the test, if you only speak about the average person, the average athlete, in average circumstances, who wants more than to simply excel in a limited endeavor for a short span of years, that for this 99.99% of humanity, fats would be the better fuel?

    For instance, obviously LOX rocket fuel is a better fuel if you want to shove multiple tons off the Earth, but for driving around in daily traffic, gasoline is better and less likely to erode your car’s pancreas. What’s best for an abnormal person in an abnormal situation cannot reasonably be declared to be what’s best for all people.

    For the record though, for a long time, the best athletes in the world advocated cigarettes and beer. I’ll go with the biochemistry over athletes recommendation every time.

    Bill DeWitt wrote on May 24th, 2011
  40. Elite athletes stress their bodies in ways not necessarily healthy. Mark and pretty much all low carb/Primal/Paleo experts have repeatedly said that higher carbs are necessary for those athletes that insist on or are required to train for abnormally high amounts of time. See, for example, The Paleo Diet for Athletes. The whole point, that you’re missing, is that Mark is not concerned with fueling an elite athlete lifestyle because, again, elite athletes arguably put their bodies through unhealthy levels of stress that are dangerous in the long run or near impossible for the ordinary human to maintain.

    Matt wrote on May 25th, 2011

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