Hi Carb, low carb, to starve or not to starve

Low carb or too high,
Special K ain’t so special
When diabetic.

So which is better? An Atkins like ketogenic diet or the high carbohydrate, low fat type Weight Watchers/ Jenny Craig/ Nutrisystem one. Before answering this, take a long look back at yesteryear pre 1930. Diabetes was essentially a disease of the wealthy upper class that could afford ice cream, cake, bonbons and bourbon and who were largely sedentary. Heart disease as well was hardly ever seen. Now, obesity, heart disease and diabetes are running amok in our society. So what went wrong? For starters, Ancel Keys’ theory of heart disease became the darling of the powers that were and dietary cholesterol became “evil”. I find this funny since “evil” spelled backwards is “live” and Keys’ theory is also backwards as we must have cholesterol in order to “live”.
So how were we back in the 40s and 50s? Well for starters, we did a lot more manual labor, which helped to offset our caloric intake as we burned more calories. Secondly, we made a lot more food from scratch and relied very little on processed condiments and foods (which contain lots of sugar and salt). Thirdly, our portion size was smaller and lastly, we had a much higher protein and fat to carbohydrate ratio (one that was actually closer to an Atkins-like level). Then Caesar (Oops! I mean Keys) came along and declared that we should eat more carbohydrate and less fat. When this happened, our insulin levels spiked and we gained weight and atherogenesis rates increased which led the way to heart disease. Another dire consequence of the high carb revolution was that our ascorbate (Vitamin C) plasma and tissue levels went down. This was due to competitive absorption of glucose over ascorbic acid. When this happens, we are less able to synthesize collagen and increased systemic inflammation is the consequence. What does all this mean? Simply that any diet which counts calories or gives points and disregards dietary carbohydrate is doomed from the start. We all have a glycemic tolerance (a set amount of carbohydrate that we can get away with eating). Anything above this and we gain weight. Anything below it and we loose. This is a function of genetics, nutritional status and our metabolic rate. What Atkins basically said, was that we need to find out where that number lies and eat within that limit. This stabilizes our blood sugar. We have all seen the Special K commercials that extol it as being part of a healthy diet. Yet I wonder, what part that might be? As an experiment on yourself, on one occasion, fry up two eggs and one slice of bacon with a little spinach or tomato on the side, eat it for breakfast, then see how long it takes until you are hungry again. On a separate occasion, Special K blueberry flavor and skim milk and do the same. I can guarantee that the first option will stabilize your blood sugar far better than the second, and you will eat less as a consequence. While I realize that many orthodox nutritionists will say that I am committing nutritional sin, consider that after having “rendering unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s”, what we were left with was diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Further Reading:
Vitamin C: The Real Story by Steve Hickey PhD and Andrew W. Saul PhD
ISBN: 978-1-59120-223-3
Atkins New Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins MD ISBN: 978-0-06-001203-8

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