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

Reader Response: Simple vs. Complex Carbs

bread 1Last week Bill suggested that, although “there are plenty of reasons to cut out highly-refined foods,” there wasn’t a clear case that a “diet high in complex carbs from whole grains and vegetables is unhealthy.” We thought the comment was a pertinent one. In the coming weeks, we’ll offer some definitive guide material that goes deeper into the subject. For now, let’s discuss a bit of the stock behind our carb critiques.

We’ll begin with what we all seem to agree on (even our friends at the FDA). Simple carbs, those highly refined, sugar soakers are bad news. They flood your body, wreak their biochemical chaos before you can say Kelly Clarkson, and then leave you slumped in a sad heap of a human being.

But those complex carbs, aren’t they a different story? Every doctor and government agency is singing their praises, and it seems like a moderate and rationally minded perspective. We understand that impression, especially given we’ve been solidly entrenched in the agricultural age for about 10,000 years or so. But, as we’ve said before, somebody better try telling that to our physiological selves, ‘cause they’re still playing the hunter gatherer game. Total glycemic load flat out matters, and we would argue that it matters more than the glycemic index of individual foods a person eats in the course of a day.

Humor us for a moment while we first set the stage, and then we’ll move on to the contemporary details. Traditional hunter gatherer societies, those we have records of and the few remaining groups we’ve been able to study in the here and now, existed and, in the absence of famine, thrived on very low carbohydrate diets of about 80 grams of carbs a day on average. (For perspective, the typical American diet ranges from 350-600 grams of carbs a day.) Numerous anthropological studies indicate that they were taller in stature than their post-agricultural counterparts. The suggestion here: the dietary changes brought on by the agricultural age didn’t allow humans to reach their biological potential. Unfortunately, 10,000 years isn’t enough to change the human digestive system. We are operating from the same physiological makeup as our ancestors. This is just one bit of the Primal Blueprint picture, but we’ll move on for now to current affairs.

quinoa

First off, though you don’t hear people talk about getting a sugar rush off of quinoa, the fact remains all carbs eventually are converted to sugars in the body. Some, like whole grains, just take longer than others. Whatever the carbohydrate, it will eventually be broken down into glucose, either in the gut itself or after a rendezvous with the liver. Some of the glucose is stored as glycogen. What about the rest? In intensive athletic training like we talked about earlier this week, it is quickly burned as secondary fuel following the depletion of glycogen. For most of us, however, it gets stored as fat. And that’s after the body pumps out insulin in response to the excess glucose floating around.

So, if I just keep my carb intake within the range that the body can use and convert to glycogen, I’m O.K.? Basically, yes. Notice we said that the hunter gatherers didn’t eat zero carbs. Eighty grams is eighty grams. (And, by the way, it’s more than the initial target (20-50 grams) for many of the “super” low carb diets out there.) Logic should tell you that, even if you’re not ready to meet our good man, Grok, on his level, any reduction in carbs will make a difference. (And, of course, refined carbs should go first.) Another major benefit to low carb diets: the veggies, protein, and healthy fats a person eats to make up for the missing carbs.

And now for the research. Without becoming nauseatingly tedious or exhausting, we’ll offer a few points that illuminate key dimensions of carbohydrates’ impact on the body. A collaborative study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that low carbohydrate diets are effective not just for weight loss but for “reducing saturated fatty acids in the blood and reducing markers of inflammation.” One of the study’s authors, Richard Feinman, professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center explains, “The real importance of diets that lower carbohydrate content is that they are grounded in mechanism – carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion which biases fat metabolism towards storage rather than oxidation.”

Intake of carbohydrates has long been associated with cancer, and dietary therapies for cancer have included a large reduction in carbs. A 2007 study found that a low carb diet actually shrunk prostate tumors in mice, whereas other diets had either no significant impact or, in the case of the typical Western diet, had a decidedly negative impact. Very low carb diets have been used for years to treat children with epilepsy and have been shown to reduce epileptic seizures in adults. Likewise, low carb diets have been shown to positively impact blood pressure, lower diabetes risk, and reduce both heartburn symptoms and abdominal fat.

On top of it all, there’s the issue of gluten allergy/sensitivity, which affects a significant percentage of the population. No, gluten isn’t found in every carb based food, but it’s in a hey of a lot of products in the Western diet. But we’ll get to that more in the coming weeks.

The big point here: while a diet “rich” in whole grains might not be an obviously unhealthy diet, it’s not the healthiest option either.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? We’ll look forward to talking more about this issue in the coming weeks.

chotda, Fran-cis-ca Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Sugar Cravings

Jack LaLanne on Sugarholics

The Migraineur: Shortcomings of the Glycemic Index

Modern Forager: So What’s The Real Scoop on Whole Grains?

From our friend Art De Vany: A Study of the Evolutionary Diet – It Works

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

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. Eh, I try to stay away from grains.

    I hear they’re related to alcoholism as an allergy…since alcohol is made from grain basically, I’m pretty sure…

    It’s too bad we haven’t evolved that far, because it all tastes so good ):

    However I’ve found that if I take in less than, say, 10 grams of carbs a day I feel like total doo doo.

    So I think SOME carbs are… pretty nice to have [:

    …just not those crappy refined ones that screw up your teeth, insulin sensitivity, and pretty figure!

    Hannah wrote on February 21st, 2008
  2. I maintained a low carb diet for more than a year (< 50g carbs per day).

    While I lost a lot of weight on the diet, one thing that I couldn’t get over was how lethargic I felt all the time.

    I am a software engineer and we work on demanding problems. While I maintained the low carb intake most of the time, I did have cheat days. On those days I would generally consume pasta or some other high carb food.

    *There was a night and day difference with my mental alertness and capacity on the days that I took on a lot of carbs.*

    So is it the sugars that were providing the mental boost? Were there foods that I could have embraced that had a low carb count yet still provided the daily mental boost that I needed. I’m not certain.

    So, fast-forwarding a few years later. I am probably 30 lbs heavier, but the mental cloudiness has subsided.

    So how do you combat the mental and/or physical fatigue often associated with low carb intake?

    Jim Jones wrote on February 21st, 2008
  3. Jim,

    Carbs are addicting on several levels. One of those is a reliance on instantaneous glucose (AKA Brain fuel) from a meal every few hours. However, that’s not necessary if you retrain your energy systems. Cutting carbs to, say, 100 grams a day is probably optimum unless you’re an athlete. And you should be getting most of that 100 from your copius intake of vegetables. Then the body makes 200 grams of stored glucose (glycogen) from the FAT in our diet every day. That’s enough to fuel your brain and then some…but it takes getting used to. Go a week on low carb but then “cheat” and you’ve set your acclimatization back a week. It takes about three weeks of steady adherence to a low carb program to dial in the energy shift. Like I said. 100 grams a day is NOT too much for most people. Even 150 if it’s veggies. It’s when you’re at 340-500 consistently that you foster a painful dependence on sugar every few hours.

    Mark Sisson wrote on February 21st, 2008
  4. Few points and questions:

    I am with you on a lot (but not all) of your points on physiological evolution. However, it is hard to compare the energy needs of the modern man vs. primitive. Depending on your family/work/health/daily life, you may need to alter your fat/carb/protein intake in order to achieve your bodies caloric needs (see Jim Jones post).

    Don’t all proteins end up becoming simple sugars as well?

    Obviously, one’s athletic/fitness lifestyle should dictate the amount of carbs one takes in, correct? ie. Endurance athlete versus someone who pursues more of your fitness lifestyle will alter carb count. Surely your point must be for an ‘average’ person and how much carbs they ingest.

    You mention carbs have long been associated with cancer, as have protein (animal specifically), but I am sure someone like yourself has read, or at least heard the concepts behind the china study. Where does that leave us? With exactly what you have always said: A diet based on veggies, with carbs, lean & clean meats used as needed (although I don’t eat meat [currently]). However, I must say, it is probably difficult for some (like young males like myself with high metabolism) to maintain a diet based on veggies.

    As with most (all?) things in life, it’s all about balance.

    Ryan Denner wrote on February 21st, 2008
  5. I’ve always been curious, in regards to cutting out grains: are the pseudo-cereals, like the aforementioned quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth included in this?

    And I’ll just throw in my experience: as a vegetarian (I switched back after deciding fish is not for me, though maybe consuming about 14 ounces total in two months wasn’t enough to really decide) who takes that word seriously–as in, eat vegetables–I find that I work best on mostly vegetables, some fruit, about a serving each of fermented dairy and eggs each day, and some whole grains. Some days I don’t eat any grains, some I do. I guess overall, it balances out to a low to moderate consumption of them. I think if I was to try for our lovely food pyramid’s recommendation, I’d fall over from vegetable withdrawal.

    Katie wrote on February 21st, 2008
    • Quinoa and buckwheat aren’t grains; they’re seeds just like sesame seeds.

      carice wrote on January 13th, 2011
  6. I’ve never considered myself low-carb as I’m a vegetarian – even my proteins like legumes come wrapped in a carb package – but I do stay under 100g/day so I guess qualify! Huh. My question though is I seem to have a mood dependance on carbs (sort of like Jim Jones’ mental clarity, except mine is mood clarity). The few times I’ve taken out all grains my mood quite literally goes down the toilet. I’m depressed, apathetic, short-tempered. A shot of carbs and I’m feeling like myself again. My father has done low-carb for years (Atkins, sadly) and has never had the mood problems that I had. Is this a gender difference? Hormonal?

    Also, are the carbs in beans & other legumes metabolized the same way as grains? Does the Paleo diet recommend limiting them as well?

    charlotte wrote on February 21st, 2008
  7. First, no, all proteins *don’t* end up becoming simple sugars, Ryan. Where did you dig that one up? Protein can be converted into glucose the liver, but even on a low carb diet, it’s still a relatively small amount, and certainly not all the dietary protein.

    Oh, yeah, The China Study. Is that where you learned about protein? TCS is just not very convincing, IMO. And most, if not all of the other major meat>cancer studies don’t factor in important aspects regarding antibiotic- and hormone -pumped factory-farmed meat vs. pastured meat (huge differences nutritionally) or carbohydrate intake (many people consume lots o’ fast acting carbs with their meat), yet generic animal protein always gets the blame.

    For Jim Jones, one thing that really hit home to me when I was reading Gary Taubes’ book, Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease, is that the fat cells (when things are good) are more like a checking account than a savings account. In other words, the fat cells should have energy flowing in and out of them (like an account for daily expenditures), not locking it away most of the time (like a savings account). But bi-directional flow can’t happen at the same time because of oppositional hormones – insulin and glucagon. Insulin is the “account deposit” hormone and when it is present ( storing fatty acids from dietary fat and carbohydrates), then the stored fatty acids can’t get out to be burned for energy (expenditures or energy starvation at the cellular level). Insulin levels are like a lock on the account (energy goes in but can’t come out). And insulin levels are raised by glucose, primarily from the diet. If the account is “locked” and the “funds” can’t be released, then hunger drives the appetite for more “deposits” from the outside (food intake). That’s when things aren’t as good, because fat cells are more like a “savings account”, storing, but not releasing energy, thus weight gain, or weight loss stalls, or lack of energy or mental stamina.

    But if carb intake is low and infrequent, then the insulin levels stay low, and the stored energy (account funds) can be released to burn as energy. Or dietary fat can be burned as energy, perhaps even faster than energy is deposited (which will only happen when insulin is present). But there is less hunger this way, without chronically high insulin levels.

    One thing I have found after several years on a low carb diet and being fairly close to an ideal weight, is that I need to not only keep my carb intake low, but I also need to eat enough fat for energy, in fact far more fat that most fat-phobic people can imagine. Many people I have known who thought they couldn’t stay on a LC diet also were trying to keep fat intake too low, too. It’s hard to make that work.

    What Taubes also makes clear, is that the body compensates for the lack of energy flow out of the fat cells, too, either with increased hunger or increased lethargy/inertia. In other words, the body compensates by slowing things down to conserve energy. That may well also include lack of mental stamina, especially if the insulin levels are continually elevated or on a steep roller coaster pattern. In other words, if you frequently take too many vacations from a low carb diet, then you aren’t really on a low carb diet, the the body has trouble shifting gears so often. And the “glucose gear” is so seductive, yet like many seductive things, potentially destructive.

    If you haven’t read Taubes’ book, I highly recommend it. The energy flow stuff comes near the end of the book, but I suggest you start at the beginning, so it will all stay in context.

    Anna wrote on February 21st, 2008
  8. Anna-

    I may have misunderstand the whole protein synthesized to sugar/glycogen when someone explained it to me (either that or he was wrong) – thanks for clarifying.

    Re: TCS, I found it convincing, but we can agree to disagree. And I will say that I do agree with you on TCS not taking certain things into consideration.

    But I still stand by my ‘it all comes down to balance’ as long as you keep balance in a healthy perspective.

    Ryan Denner wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  9. Wow, under 100 g of carbohydrates a day?! I’d need to cut down on my fruit, lol. Jokes aside, this is interesting, but I wonder if it would be worth it for me. Trying, yes, but living it? I eat around 300 g of carbs a day, mostly fruit and vegetables. Everyday I have some whole grains (homebaked bread, pasta, rice…) and sometimes every week even a sweet. Since I eat five times a day, I seldom have cravings, and in general I feel great, full of positive energy.

    Do you have the opinon that a low carb diet is good for everyone? Pregnant women, old people, children, ill people… And how about us, “healthy eaters”, that still are a bit high in (mostly “good”) carbs?

    Pelikan wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  10. as always you explain this swimmingly and I whole heartedly agree.

    the rest of america?

    can we (the royal) sway them? it remains to be seen huh?

    Signed,

    A Gluten Allergic MizFit

    carla wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  11. nobody seems to make any mention of the fact that complex carbs mainly come in the form of “whole grains” – in the which the fibre contains phytic acid, which depletes or prevents the assimilation of vital minerals in the body, and lectins, which destroy the gut mucus lining in sensitive individuals (i.e. the least adapted to the modern diet) and allow whole proteins to cross the gut wall – potentially the cause of many modern auto-immune diseases. these must not be ignored as their potential ill health effects could be very serious. leaky gut was recently noted as a very underreported syndrome – and phytic acid, although well known in nutritional science, is completely ignored in the rush to vaunt complex grain consumption.

    markus wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  12. I have no idea of what my carbs intake is, to be honest. I try to get the bulk of mine in vegetables and fruits, though, even if I still eat other carbs regularly enough (probably most of it on mornings, with bread, oatmeal or muesli). In fact, a few weeks ago, I noticed that I didn’t even bother with adding rice or quinoa to my meals, so there are days when I only have such carbs at lunch, or not at all. It’s weird, I don’t know what triggered that change. I suspect having a very small kitchen and not enough room to cook three different things (veggies, a protein and rice) all at once played a role in that.

    What I can clearly testify about is how refined carbs seriously screw me up. I happen to suffer from a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome, and things always go the same way: you can be sure that if I’ve been eating cookies, pizza and crap like that for a few days, I experience a flare in the intensity and regularity of my tics. Too much caffeine does that as well, but to a lesser extent, because I may not be very sensitive to its effects (I quit coffee cold-turkey to see how it’d go, I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptom whatsoever). Anyway, I’m not sure what is the reason to that–chemicals? conservatives? HFCS? trans-fats?–but I’m now more and more wary of such things, even if I still have, hum, ‘problems’ with them. Perhaps the link is the same as in epileptic children, as mentioned in the post?

    Kery wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  13. Jim J – I’d like to expand on what some other commenters have said – perhaps you didn’t consume enough fat, and perhaps cycling between carbs and fat for energy sources caused your brain brownouts. I regularly get at least 60% of my calories from fat. As I understand it, your brain will soak up about 130 g of glucose a day if it is present in your bloodstream. However – a big however – your brain can run on fat, and actually runs better on a product of fat metabolism called ketones. The reason for this is that blood glucose can fluctuate extremely rapidly, especially on high carb loads, leaving your brain vulnerable to an energy crisis. Ketone levels do not fluctuate as fast – this is why fat is a better brain fuel.

    As to why cycling between carbs and fat is counterproductive – it takes a little while for your brain to realize that it’s not getting 130 g of carb and switch to ketone burning. So every time you eat a plate of pasta, it could take a couple of days before the brain gets back into ketone mode.

    I’ve oversimplified slightly – the brain will always burn some glucose, but when ketones are present the brain uses much less than 130 g of glucose. Furthermore, the liver is really quite good at converting protein to just the right amount of glucose – since you’re a programmer, you’ll probably appreciate the elegance of such a self-regulating system over having an operator – i.e., you – trying to figure out how much glucose to put into the hopper!

    I have been at somewhere between 30 and 70 g of carb per day for 6 months (I no longer count everything I eat, but I have a pretty good general sense of how much carb is in the foods I choose), and the only time I really get brain fog is if I eat, like, all 70 g of carb at a sitting! A couple of hours later, I’m a complete idiot. But I do eat amounts of fat that are shocking by the conventional wisdom – 100 to 150 grams per day. I’ve lost almost 20 lbs that way, with somewhere between 5 and 10 more to go.

    Migraineur wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  14. Katie – quick question. I’m looking at what you eat, and I’m having a hard time figuring out how you’re getting enough calories! If you’re only having 1 serving of dairy or eggs, less than the food pyramid’s 6 recommended grain servings, and no meat or fish, you’re hardly eating any calorie dense foods. Do you eat a lot of legumes? Add a lot of fat to your diet? Eat mostly tropical fruits (which are higher in calories than apples or berries)?

    I’m not trying to pick on you, just genuinely curious about how somebody could consume 1800 or more calories eating mostly vegetables and fruit.

    Migraineur wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  15. “there’s a growing movement among paleoanthropologists that suggests the dietary shift to more starch among humanity’s earliest ancestors proved critical to our evolution”.

    http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53576/

    Matt Metzgar wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  16. Matt:
    It’s an interesting article that you reference, and the idea certainly brings an intriguing possibility to the table. However, I have to say that the article doesn’t (in my humble estimation) follow through on really supporting the claim referenced in your post.

    Though I’m just “regular folk” and not a scientist, the lone comment posted by a reader at the end of the article reflected my reservations about the article’s claim (though in much clearer terms and detail):

    comment:
    Selective effect of amylase copy number?
    “It’s my impression that salivary amylase has little direct digestive significance — it doesn’t work particularly well and is probably denatured at gastric pH. Greater oral amylase activity, however, could lead to increased sensation of sweetness and thus favorably influence the choice of starchy foods. To suggest a selective advantage for starch eaters is to assume a great deal more information about paleoecological selection pressures than is known. Is there any comparative data about brain size, intelligence, etc., among the groups of different level starch eaters mentioned? Or about predilection for diabetes?”

    Jen wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  17. Wow. Great stuff, everyone. I have been traveling the past week (extensively the past 24 hours) and returned to see this discussion. I love the input and will attempt to refine it and recap it shortly. Matt, I read that study and analysis when it came out and was immediately suspect (as Jen notes) because salivary amylase contributes VERY little to starch breakdown in the overall scheme. Migraineur, thanks for pointing out the ketone pathway. We will do more explanation along those lines soon as well. Anna, every doctor should be compelled to read GCBC. The rest of you, thanks for valuable continued participation here.

    Mark Sisson wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  18. Great stuff. I also try to get a high % of my diet from fat and little from carbs.

    Do you know where I could find a few low carb/high fat dessert recipes… that are actually good?

    LiveWellBeWell wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  19. Check out http://paleofood.com/ for low carb recipes (for desserts and just about everything else).

    Jen wrote on February 22nd, 2008
  20. LiveWellBeWell – I generally try to take a dessert recipe that doesn’t contain flour (such as a custard or a macaroon or a crustless cheesecake) and drastically reduce the sugar. Sometimes – and I know this is controversial on this blog – I’ll use a little artificial sweetener to make up for the difference. But this is increasingly rare.

    This all started because my husband, who doesn’t turn on the lights over the work surfaces in the kitchen, once misread a cheesecake recipe calling for 3/4 cup sugar as 1/4 cup. No one else at the party we took it to liked it much (we could tell, even though they were too polite to say so). But after years of not eating very much sugar, we liked it very much – it was tangy and creamy and had just a teensy hint of sweetness – and we were glad to bring the leftovers home.

    Now, if you are looking for cookies and cakes and things that are generally made with flour – I gave up on those years ago. Oh, with one exception – do try Anna’s coconut cookie recipe. I make them with half as much sugar (or lately, maple syrup) and no artificial sweetener. (http://web.mac.com/gandasalvesen/iWeb/Site/Blog/6C219325-4768-4A1D-8B15-D11DE3BB53C1.html)

    Migraineur wrote on February 23rd, 2008
  21. “Then the body makes 200 grams of stored glucose (glycogen) from the FAT in our diet every day. That’s enough to fuel your brain and then some…but it takes getting used to.”

    You have a source for that? Why would ketones be required as a substitute for glucose on a low carb diet if fat was converted to glucose in such large quantities?

    You would need at least 88 grams of fat to create 200 grams of glycogen.

    I’d be very surprised if you’re statement is remotely accurate.

    Joe wrote on February 26th, 2008
  22. Joe

    Read this in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Should have specified fat and AA. But here’s the quote: “(Even if no dietary carbohydrate is consumed, it is estimated that 200 g glucose/d can be manufactured by the liver and kidney from dietary protein and fat.)”

    http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/86/2/276?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=westman&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&volume=86&resourcetype=HWCIT

    Just because the body can use ketones doesn’t mean it abandons glycogen.

    Mark Sisson wrote on February 26th, 2008
  23. Hey Mark,

    Can blood type also dictate which way to lean towards (high carbs [from fruits & veggies], moderate protein VS low carbs, high protein) when looking to eat healthy, such as a study from Peter D’Adamo, ND, suggests, or is his research somewhat flawed due to the mold & fungus factors in grains & meats (grain-fed animal meats anyway)?

    Also, are coconuts a good source of balanced carbs & protein, or does the laxative like property outweigh the nutrition?

    God bless!

    Sunday wrote on April 7th, 2008
  24. I’m not a fan of the “blood-tyoe” diets. I think we are much more alike than that and would all be best served by a diet lower in carbs, higher in protein and fat. Coconuts are great in moderation, like most healthy foods.

    Mark Sisson wrote on April 11th, 2008
  25. “80 grams is 80 grams”

    True but what size were these people? Modern day hunter gatherers are very small. The men probably weigh less than 140 lbs on average.

    Also, what is their activity level? Walking around looking for food with the occasional sprint. Pretty tame by today’s standards of Crossfit and other programs which demand a high anerobic load.

    You need carbs to do anerobic work.

    Joe wrote on July 20th, 2008
  26. Joe, you must be joking. Ironically, look at this study that came out today on the aerobic expenditures of the Maasai. 2500 caloriies spent each day. All fat-burning. Not many carbs to speak of. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080718075357.htm

    Meanwhile, if you follow PB or Crossfit, you know that you have enough glycogen on a low carb diet to get through any CF workout, regardless of how intense, because it’s over quickly. Then you burn fat the rest of the day as your body makes ketones and/or any added glucose it needs from dietary protein (or muscle).

    Mark Sisson wrote on July 20th, 2008
  27. “low carbohydrate diets are effective not just for weight loss but for ‘reducing saturated fatty acids in the blood and reducing markers of inflammation.'”

    One of the functions of insulin is decreased lipolysis – reduction in the conversion of stored lipids into blood fatty acids. Decreased insulin causes the reverse.

    Brian K wrote on September 7th, 2009
  28. So beautiful guestbook style of site. What CMS do you use ?

    Pups wrote on September 27th, 2009
  29. Wow, nice server design. What CMS do you use ?

    Jon wrote on September 28th, 2009
  30. So nice guestbook design. What CMS do you use ?

    Lsd wrote on October 9th, 2009
  31. Ivan, spaceba.

    Mark Sisson wrote on February 5th, 2010
  32. Mark,

    I read this post when it first came out and I was very pleased to see more information on Complex Carbs. As you stated above, are you going to release a “Definitive Guide for Complex Carbs?” I would be very interested in reading it.

    Thanks!
    Sam

    Sam wrote on April 1st, 2010
  33. Another fantastic article in the series of grains from the best of MDA. More reasons to avoid grains :)

    Primal Toad wrote on June 4th, 2010
  34. Hi, I’m a little new to the site but trying out the Paleo diet. Just a couple questions/concerns I had:

    1.) Is it not true that complex carbs can take tens of hours to digest? Wouldn’t that minimize insulin spikes during meals and wouldn’t you feel energized for the rest of your day if your breakfast was say 20-50 g complex carbs?

    2.) I don’t understand how you can lump all carbs into one evil category while still urging people to consider that there are good and bad fats. Can’t the same be said for carbs? Simple carbs (sweet and artificial carbs) might be causing much greater elevated insulin levels while complex carbs might actually stabilize insulin levels because they (theoretically) continuously release glucose during digestion.

    3.) I know you said that there were anti-nutrients in grains that might inhibit absorption. Isn’t it possible that a deficiency in say, Vitamin D, is made up by the fact that people on high carb diets are mostly in lower, tropical climates where they get a lot of exposure to the sun? And can’t these same people have evolved to more efficiently handle complex carbs found in rice, grains, etc. than people who have even more recently been exposed to agricultural farming?

    Just playing Devil’s advocate, but I would like to know Mark’s and anyone’s thoughts on this.

    Henry wrote on September 6th, 2010
  35. I was paleo for a long time and switched back to a vegetarian diet because I cant afford grass fed beef, because the feed lot stuff makes me sick. I would mostly eat fruit and veggies and eggs in my diet and found it to be fairly effective of a diet so not really knocking it, but I noticed that I felt pretty low on energy all the time and starving hungry, so after that 10,000nth piece of fruit I was eating in the day wasn’t filling enough I needed a change. You are saying that we haven’t evolved since paleo times, contrary to that, I do know that, in my ancestry, the vikings, were the first to have the genetic switch to drink milk sugar(lactose)after weening age. So after 10,000yrs of eating grain, I think we have had enough time to adjust a little bit. So far on my veggie diet, I gained 10lbs(not fat), feel full(no cravings)and have a ton of energy(strength returning) so what can I say?

    Seth wrote on October 5th, 2010
    • @Seth, the difference is that everyone is born with the ability to digest lactose (mothers milk) and some of us lose it in time, while others keep it. There was no prior enzymatic toolkit to easily digest grains.

      Mark Sisson wrote on October 14th, 2010
  36. Quinoa is a seed from a plant related to spinach, it’s not a grain!!!

    carice wrote on January 13th, 2011
  37. If you eat meat, please do not buy factory farmed. Learn to hunt or pay the price and invest in pasture raised…just eat less of it or use the money you save on not eating junk food. Treat animals humanely.

    Eileen wrote on March 31st, 2012
  38. Mark i realise this is an old post but i have been reading up on low/no carb diets and came across this artical and interesting comments below. However you havent responded to some of the readers comments asking isn’t balance a good thing? can’t there be such a thing as good carbs as there are good fats? I must say i also agree with other readers comments stating that low carb diets give them brain fog, I would add to that digestive discomfort. As for combatting that by eating more fat? queue even more brain fog and greater digestive discomfort. could it not be that people bodies are lot more different than you perceive? and that what works for one may not work for another?

    bobbie wrote on March 25th, 2013
  39. Anxiety and control anger. Jessica Palmer took her own former
    private practice in midtown Manhattan had little competition when he
    thought was going on for the listener, wouldn’t excite the neurons firing.
    The practice evolved out of the Thoroughbred
    Retirement axl rose Center.

    Melodee wrote on June 20th, 2014

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple