Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dietary Articles of Faith

This is the last post on the Low Carb Wisdom blog. But I will be continuing my blogging at a new blog, Real Food Wisdom (more on the new blog below). I am abandoning this blog as I no longer consider myself to be following a low carb way of eating. I am grateful for the introduction to the low carb lifestyle, as it opened my previously closed eyes to the realities of eating nutrient dense foods. But I no longer believe the central, low carb article of faith: the Taubesian hypothesis that carbohydrates elevate insulin levels, which in turn drives fat storage. I also reject the belief that you must only count carbs, not calories and I reject the belief that exercise does not help with weight loss. These three ideas are elaborated on at length in Gary Taubes' book, Why We Get Fat.

This means I do believe there are good carbs (e.g., potatoes, white rice) and bad carbs (e.g., refined wheat or sugar), just as there are good proteins (e.g., meat) and bad proteins (e.g., gluten) and good fats (e.g., butter or lard) and bad fats (e.g., soybean or corn oil). I am also put off by all the low carb dogma out there, where you are a "sinner" if you eat a potato or white rice. Also, there is a growing recognition that the low carb way of eating is not a magic bullet, that low carb can cause problems (and abandoning low carb may actually cure those problems), and that some carbs may actually help with weight loss.

So what do I believe? How will I be eating in the future? I now consider myself to be following a version of the Paleo diet and briefly considered creating a blog called "Paleo Wisdom" (the name is available), but I didn't want to lock myself into another diet mode (repeating the "Low Carb" mistake by linking my way of eating to a specific, named dietary approach). The version of the Paleo diet that I follow most closely is the Jaminets' Perfect Health Diet, which is controversial in the Paleo community, because it doesn't shun potatoes, rice, and dairy. But I reserve the right to change my mind in the future about what I eat, as new evidence comes along.

So what do I believe? And how will it affect my future diet?

I believe that natural, real, whole foods are best, foods with very little or no processing. This means I am open to some non-Paleo belief systems, such as the Weston A. Price view of nutrition. It also means that things like potatoes and bananas are fine to eat, in moderation, and perhaps even correctly prepared, ancestral wheat.

I believe that eating animal products is essential to good health.

I believe that correctly rendered lard, butter, egg yolks, meat, coconut and olive oils, tree nuts and other high fat items are healthy for you and won't give you a heart attack. I am grateful to Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes for opening my eyes on this point.

I believe that calories count, that this is the biggest determinant of weight loss and maintenance. I also believe that calorie restriction is necessary for maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels. It is not all about eliminating carbs, it is also about limiting calories. Adding in potatoes and rice, while watching calories, actually helped me stabilize my blood glucose levels.

I believe in eating vegetables. Lots of vegetables. And some fruit.

I now believe that food reward and palatability are crucial concepts to understand in losing and maintaining weight. I believe that simple foods are best, for most occasions. Thank you, Stephan Guyenet.

I believe in exercise. Both resistance training and cardio vascular. Just not to excess.

I believe that eating nutrient dense, whole, real foods is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb approach to eating. Therefore, it is not necessary to add fat just to be more healthy. It is already high fat.

I believe in (this may surprise you) the Weight Watchers approach to losing weight. Not their low fat mantra nor their fat phobia, but their psychological perspective on weight loss, the weekly accountability of weighing in and the community support one gets from interacting with others on a similar weight loss journey. One of my most gratifying experiences in life was when I was a leader at Weight Watchers. I have written about this before and I am now actively considering re-joining Weight Watchers, but on my own terms. Calories count, but counting calories is a bummer. Counting points is easier. I can eat Paleo using their point system to track calories and I will lose weight. Plus I will gain the support of the people in the weekly meetings and perhaps influence some of their attitudes about eating real food.

So if you have enjoyed what I have written on Low Carb Wisdom, consider following me as I transition to Real Food Wisdom. The first post will be up shortly, probably tomorrow.


  1. Love the new blog name. Our philosophies sound very similar, and I'm completely with you on reserving the right to change approaches as new evidence (or experience) dictates.

  2. Hi. I think I read you're on metformin(?) If you weren't....would you not be able to handle safe starches...(post meal above 140) what advice would you give to the IR who's not on any medication

  3. Yes, I take Metformin. Cutting carbs helps keep blood glucose levels down, but even more important, in my opinion, is eating a sane amount of real, whole foods (in my case, around 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day). Plus exercise, both cardio and resistance.

  4. that is interesting because im thin as a stick with IR. i think exercising would be beneficial to me. i do eat safe starches but i eat them in small amounts throughout the day to avoid a blood sugar spike. otherwise i will spike. ive had to juggle that around some.

  5. Hi! Great site! I'm trying to find an email address to contact you on to ask if you would please consider adding a link to my website. I'd really appreciate if you could email me back.

    Thanks and have a great day!

  6. Great blog - wish you'd start writing it again! :)