Remembering Kevin Moore

What’s With The Antagonism About Low-Carb From The Paleo Community Lately?

There is something rather disturbing happening behind-the-scenes in the Paleo community that I’ve seen unfolding before my eyes over the past six months or so. And in fact, it is becoming even more overt lately with various prominent bloggers writing about their questioning of long-term low-carb dieting for optimal health, including highly-respected people such as Dr. Kurt Harris, Stephan Guyenet, Richard Nikoley, Chris Kresser, Paul Jaminet, Danny Roddy, Dr. Garrett Smith, Matt Stone, and I’m sure many others. At the same time low-carb stalwarts like Dr. Jack Kruse have tried to bridge the gap that’s beginning to grow between the Paleo and low-carb communities with a workable solution for us all to follow.

PaleoHacks.com featured a question last summer questioning whether Paleo is low-carb or not and noted this sudden shift away from the low-carb aspect that some people choose to include as part of their Paleo diet. It’s all leading to a great deal of confusion and concern in the low-carb community with innocent people not knowing who or what to believe anymore. That’s why this is disturbing to me and could quite possibly jeopardize the entire ancestral health movement if we’re not careful to be mindful of the damage that is being done to the overall cause. There’s still time to mitigate any damage that has been done and to unite behind the overall mission to help those people who just don’t care about nutrition and how it impacts their health.

I will clear one issue up right away for the sake of getting it out there. No, a Paleo diet isn’t necessarily a low-carb one. But as Professor Loren Cordain author of The Paleo Diet told me in a pre-interview chat I recorded last week (listen to the full interview airing on March 7, 2012 on “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show”), “The evolutionary diet supports low-carb…it’s a pretty good fit.” When I brought up to him how I’m disheartened that there has been this sudden rise in antagonism about low-carb from the Paleo community lately, Cordain was quick to point out that “it’s very difficult to eat Paleo and eat high-carb. I don’t think most people can do it.” So what’s the deal with all these subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to disparage a way of eating that is beloved by so many of us for being a lifesaver for our health?

It’s no secret I’m a fan of low-carb diets (defined for me as 40g or less daily–others can certainly get away with more probably up to around 100g daily). After all, it was the high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb Atkins diet that helped me lose triple-digit weight in 2004 and attain some pretty remarkable changes in my health in the process that I still enjoy today. While I’ve been quite open about some weight management struggles as of late (which I’m working diligently with a doctor I trust to deal with it) despite shifting my diet to more of a Paleo-style approach with more grass-fed, pastured and organic foods in August 2011, I still couldn’t imagine eating any other way than this. The quality of my diet in 2012 is light years ahead of what it was before 2004 when I transitioned from being a sugar-burner as my primary source of fuel to a fat-burner energizing my body with the power of ketones. It was a major shift that took place in my life over eight years ago and I’ve reaped the amazing benefits of it ever since in the form of improved lipids, controlled blood sugar, lower blood pressure, satisfaction with my diet without hunger, an active lifestyle working out several days a week, clearer thinking, and so much more than I could ever write down in one blog post. Even if I never lost another pound (and I expect that I will again someday), the health benefits that I’ve experienced eating this way have been worth it for me to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

But I was disheartened to read one of my fellow real food health activist bloggers named Ann Marie Michaels from the “CHEESESLAVE” blog write a post earlier this month called “Why I Ditched Low-Carb” where she describes a whole laundry list of health problems she says she endured following low-carb. While I have a great deal of respect for Ann Marie and love what she has done to promote health from a traditional foods perspective, this one just threw me for a loop. I’m not saying she didn’t experience these issues she is describing but I wonder how much of it can be attributed to her low-carb diet or something else. After reading her post, I summarized what I thought were her main criticisms of long-term low-carb diets that forced her to start adding carbs back into her diet again.

Here’s what appears to be her primary objections to low-carb:

  • Thyroid function slows down causing T3 and reverse T3 signaling to become deficient on low-carb
  • Hypothyroid symptoms like hair loss, cold extremities, eyebrow thinning happen eating low-carb
  • You need to eat more carbohydrates in your diet and supplemental thyroid hormone in order to get pregnant
  • A 40-50% carb diet promotes fertility and athleticism, 30-40% carbs is a low stress diet
  • Eating low-carb lowers your body temperature because of a depressed metabolism
  • Adding carbs (upwards of 300g daily) back into your diet will dramatically improve your health by raising your body temp
  • Increased body temperature is an indication of improved adrenals and thyroid
  • These are the same kind of critical statements that I’ve seen and heard being made about low-carb diets across the blogosphere. It popped up in Part 3 of Chris Kresser’s interview with Chris Masterjohn a few weeks ago when Kresser noted that many low-carb Paleo dieters in his practice are “suffering from the classic hypothyroid symptoms.” And by adding carbohydrates back into their diet again they seem to anecdotally get better. He concluded that “the low-carb diet contributing to hypothyroid and increasing carbohydrate intake improving thyroid function is definitely real.” I look forward to exploring this topic further with Chris Kresser in Episode 10 of my new “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” podcast about “All Things Thyroid (Thyroid 101)” on March 22, 2012!

    But is there any real evidence of this? When I don’t definitively know the answer to something, I go to people who are a lot smarter than me to assist. And I just so happen to know a few good nutritional health experts I’ve been privileged to interview in hundreds of podcast episode over the years to reach out to for answers.

    One of my “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” listeners asked my latest guest last week LIVE on the air in Episode 7 featuring Dr. Cate Shanahan about this brewing controversy over low-carb diets negatively impacting hormones like thyroid coming from the Paleo community and she was genuinely oblivious to it happening. I had already been working on this blog post asking various people in the Paleo and low-carb communities to chime in on that list of claims about low-carb diets and their impact on hormonal health. Here are the responses I got back beginning with Dr. Shanahan (who noted in my ATLCX podcast that she has revised her position on carbohydrates to be between 40-75g daily instead of 100g) who offered up her thoughts and concerns about these issues:

    This just so happens to be an issue I’ve been pondering since reading about the controversy over safe starches, and a couple pieces of the puzzle recently fell into place that I think I add up to at least one explanation for the debilitating symptoms some people develop when going low-carb, and offer a method for anyone on low-carb to do so without problems.

    Below are the bullet points of what I’ve concluded so far, and the details are fleshed out in this blog post on my website DrCate.com:

    – Problems arise in those who have gone from high-carb to low fairly abruptly
    – In these cases, we see high rT3 and sometimes high LDL
    – Supplementing with T3 seems to help, at least a little.
    – This set of symptoms is very similar to the so-called Hibernation Syndrome

    Newly discovered compounds called thyronamines, derived from rT3 and produced by the liver and other tissues may be the cause of hibernation syndrome. They appear to play a very important role in making all the needed metabolic adaptations for a prolonged winter fast. By going from high-carb to low-carb relatively abruptly, people mimic the nutrient changes associated with pre-hybernation binging. This may, in some people, flip an atavistic hibernation switch and initiate the conversion of T4 into rT3 instead of T3. Once we make rT3, our tissues can convert it to thyronamines to cause a variety of symptoms consistent with hibernation syndrome.

    What’s the solution? Go slow! In my T.R.I.M. program, I introduce low-carb meals one at a time over a course of 6-12 weeks, beginning with breakfast.

    Dr. Shanahan promotes a “gradual” approach to cutting carbs that may keep these criticisms about low-carb diets from being valid. Of course, there are others who wonder why we’re even talking about this since there doesn’t seem to be any science behind it to back it up. Dr. Peter Attia from the “War On Insulin” blog asked “What is the proof or data supporting these claims? It’s best to address this by examining the data supporting this position, it seems? These aren’t folks talking about science, they are stating their experiences and opinions, as far as I can tell.” He said he plans on writing a series of posts addressing these issues in the coming months.

    Dr. Spencer Nadolsky says “I have heard all of these (claims about low-carb diets) before and I have always asked for references. I only hear anectdotal evidence which is obviously not the best.” Dr. Nadolsky goes on to say that “what we really need to see is if someone on a keto-adapted diet with enough fat (aka energy) in the diet would product the same effects. I have never seen anything that shows that this is the case. If they can find that then they have a case.” He said much of the supposed evidence presented is too short-term to offer any solid convincing arguments about this subject. Swedish LCHF physician Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt said “When it comes to hypothyroidism on low-carb I have not seen any studies showing this, nor have I seen it in my patients or heard about it from other doctors practicing low-carb for a long time. I doubt it’s true. Personally I think this whole hypothyroidism/adrenal fatigue thing is a very alternative theory without much credible science to back it up. Generally I don’t think it makes much sense.”

    These medical doctors weren’t alone in the desire to see more evidence. Biochemistry professor Dr. Wendy Pogozelski (aka “Dr. Pogo” who I interviewed on my podcast here) said that she has “never seen any real studies to support this claim.” She added: “I believe that there are anecdotes to say that MANY dieters, whether low-carb or low-fat or low-calorie, experience a slowing of their thyroid function (Oprah Winfrey is a good example and her dieting was low-fat/low-carb). I’d say ‘show me the science’ before I believe that the effect is limited to low-carb eating or that any reduced thyroid hormone signaling outweighs the benefits of carb restriction for many people.” Dr. Pogo’s fellow biochemistry colleague Dr. Richard Feinman stated that he is not aware of any low-carb papers that bear on thyroid but would be delighted to take a look at any if they exist. He concluded If these guys (the critics of low-carb diets) have found a non-low-carb way to eat, they should go for it. If they want me to switch to it, I’m simply not in the market. Me neither Dr. Feinman.

    Jackie Eberstein, a registered nurse who worked with the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins for nearly three decades, says her experience with patients on low-carb diets was that they got better not worse once they got their diet and hormonal health markers in order.

    I’ll start by saying that I spent too many years seeing patients get healthier on an Atkins Lifestyle. Many patients who came to us already had hypothyroid symptoms, low body temps even after spending years on Synthroid. Many also had low DHEA levels that once addressed could improve thyroid function.

    Eating low-calorie and weight cycling I believe slows metabolism. Not low-carb if calorie intake is adequate. We also did not see many patients with high reverse T3.

    As far as needing more carbs to get pregnant this was not my experience especially in women with PCOS. We cautioned our patients if they did not want to get pregnant they needed to use birth control.

    I am not aware of any of the low-carb studies, even those up to two years, where low thyroid symptoms suddenly appeared during the study.

    On another point there are certainly people whose metabolic situation won’t allow anything other than a low-carb intake and even 30-40% carbs would be too high. It would also be too high for those people who are carb-addicted.

    Low-carb triathlete Ben Greenfield, author of The Low-Carbohydrate Guide For Triathletes, identified four studies that he is aware of that address low-carb and thyroid health and offered commentary on each of them:

  • Effects of slimming and composition of diets on V02 and thyroid hormones in healthy subjects
  • They fed subjects 75% fat, 10% carb, 15% protein and did not see a decrease in T3 and increase in reverse T3. But the high-fat diet looked kind of crappy – all I could see was linoleum acid, casein and milk, unless I was missing something.

  • Isocaloric carbohydrate deprivation induces protein catabolism despite a low T3-syndrome in healthy men
  • This one shows carb depletion decreased T3 levels, but I’m not sure what volume the subjects were eating, and study was very small.

  • The effect of varying carbohydrate content of a very-low-caloric diet on resting metabolic rate and thyroid hormones
  • They only fed subjects 1000 calories per day. That’s not realistic in most cases.

  • Effect of Carbohydrate and Noncarbohydrate Sources of Calories on Plasma 3,5,3′-Triiodothyronine Concentrations in Man
  • This study shows increased T3 levels with more carb consumption, but not clinically concerning low T3 with lower carb consumptionŠ.

    Nora Gedgaudas from Primal Body-Primal Mind chimed in on this stating that the “thyroid thing is pretty overblown.”

    I have personally never seen the problems you are asking about as a result of the diet I recommend. I think if one is going to have problems with low-carb (relative to your list) its mainly going to be seen in conjunction with low-fat, biliary problems and/or overly high protein. The problem isn’t a lack of carbs but a lack of sufficient fat, poor biliary function (and therefore poor utilization of fat) or an inability to effectively utilize ketones due to an unwitting sustained dependence on glucose through excess protein (converting to sugar to keep the primary glucose dependence going). Dr. Richard Bernstein has talked about this. The idea that carbs are or ever were essential to us dietarily is absurd. How on earth would we ever have survived any Ice Age and how would the Inuit have ever survived as a people? I have thyroid problems left and right in my family and so far I’m the only one that’s dodged that bullet–and the only one that’s low carb. Look ma…no eyebrow thinning!

    “Denver’s Diet Doctor” Jeffry Gerber believes one of the problems is the difference between why people go on a low-carb diet vs. the Paleo diet.

    Most doing low-carb diets need to lose weight and sometimes lots of weight. My patients in a family medicine office tend to be overweight and already have medical issues as opposed to the Paleo community, with their muscles bulging ultra athlete, CrossFit crazed group that they are. The Paleo community are looking at maximizing and optimizing performance, the low-carb people usually have weight loss and health issues to address. Different goals and different diets, not that one is better then the other, they both excel in the proper circumstance. I use both in my office.

    I must say the issues raised by the Paleo group regarding low-carb diets are theoretical and I do not observe, nor can I measure, any of this within the medical office setting. What I do measure in my office is cardio-metabolic markers such as cholesterol, lipids, LDL particles, APO-B, LDL sub-fractination, cardiac CRP, HgA1c, C-peptide, TSH, etc. These numbers ALWAYS improve if patients can lose weight.

    Dr. Ron Rosedale, who infamously had a friendly exchange of ideas over Paul Jaminet’s “safe starches” concept, weighed in on the thyroid concerns of low-carb diets. He argues that eating carbohydrates wreaks more havoc on health than low-carb diets ever will.

    I believe that those who advocate for higher starches and many if not most in the medical and health community, misunderstand the physiologic response to low glucose, and the true meaning of low thyroid. It is extremely important to have the confusion and misunderstanding of the true meaning of free T3 and body temperature being lowered, resolved.

    Glucose scarcity elicits an evolutionary response to perceived low fuel availability. (In all but frank hypoglycemic crisis, glucose deficiency is a misnomer.) This results in a shift in genetic expression to allow that organism to better survive the perceived famine. Intracellular antioxidant systems, heat shock proteins, DNA repair, autophagy, all tricks that nature has, are upregulated to allow the organism to increase repair and maintain itself to remain healthy and alive. As part of this genetic expression, and as part and parcel of nature’s mechanism to allow the maintenance of health and actually reduce the rate of aging, certain events will take place as seen in caloric restricted animals. These include a reduction in serum glucose, insulin, leptin, and free T3. The reduction in free T3 is of great benefit, reducing temperature, metabolic damage and decreasing catabolism. TSH is not elevated. We are not talking about a hypothyroid condition. It is a purposeful reduction in thyroid activity to elicit health. Yes, reverse T3 is increased, as this is a normal, healthy, physiologic mechanism to reduce thyroid activity. It is not always a sign of malfunctioning thyroid as is frequently taught, but is instead one of the redundant ways that thyroid action is controlled.

    Furthermore, in caloric restricted animals where body temperature and free T3 are reduced, the immune response is markedly increased, not reduced as opponents of VLC diets often maintain, and CR animal’s mortality rate is well known to be significantly reduced while lifespan significantly increased. There is also a huge reduction in autoimmune diseases, secondary to improving immune function, not lowering it.

    Again, I am not talking about a sick thyroid. I am not talking about a thyroid that is low because it has to be, or a body temperature that is low because the body does not have enough lean mass or proper physiology to maintain a higher temperature. I am not talking about hypothyroidism. I am talking about a thyroid that is purposefully being lowered to enhance the wellness and survivability of life. Please understand that this is very different. One is very healthy; one is very not.

    This is analogous to fasting insulin. Almost always, a high fasting insulin indicates insulin resistance and poor health. Properly treated, fasting insulin goes down and the person is healthier. You don’t say that that person now has a sick pancreas. The same is true for thyroid. As part and parcel of making that person healthier, fasting insulin is reduced, fasting leptin is reduced, and so is free T3 reduced.

    One can certainly have low thyroid hormones because of sickness, or because of a primary sick thyroid. I can give the more extreme example that body temperature is lower when one is dead. In calorie restricted animals and in those on my diet, on the other hand, free T3 and body temperature are reduced as part and parcel of a shift in genetic expression towards maintenance, repair, and longevity, in the same way that the temperature of your car is reduced when it is functioning best; when it is getting the best mileage, has the best acceleration, and where the engine will live longest. In both cases, it is making the best use of available resources, and wanting to reduce waste. In the former, thyroid is low because it is sick. In the latter, and with my diet, thyroid goes lower to keep one healthy. If the car is running hotter, you know that is sick. It does so because it must and perhaps better than not running at all.

    Temperature must be orchestrated for maximal health. As we age, one of the major problems is that our temperature does not go as high with infection as it did when we were children. This can predispose to serious infection. My diet does not relegate people to low temperature. It keeps temperature a little bit lower when that is healthiest, but does not prevent a rise in temperature, a fever, with infection, but instead would promote it. This is very healthy. Having a “fever” when not necessary, and is promoted by the thermogenesis of burning ‘healthy starches’ and excess protein is what is not.

    Furthermore, it is now a fairly well stablished finding that free T3 is reduced in centenarians. One example;

    “A cross-section analysis of FT3 age-related changes in a group of old and oldest-old subjects, including centenarians’ relatives, shows that a down-regulated thyroid function has a familial component and is related to longevity” Age and Ageing 2010;Andrea Corsonello, et al 39: 723–727

    “Down-regulation of thyroid hormones, due to either genetic predisposition or resetting of thyroid function favours longevity.”

    The key is that we can reset our thyroid function to be that of centenarians, even if we were not so genetically predisposed. We can make our own luck, but not by adding carbohydrates..
    If ketone production is an indication of fatty acid utilization as fuel, and if this is a marker of a shift in metabolism towards that seen in caloric restriction that has been shown to confer tremendous health benefits including longevity, then what Cahill states must be strongly noted; as little as 100 gms. of carbohydrate that higher starch advocates promote, will prevent this. (Fuel Metabolism in Starvation Annu. Rev. Nutr. 2006.26:1-22. George F. Cahill, Jr. Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School)

    That gets us to the main issue and most important question; is there a diet or glucose (starch) intake that can better maximize the repair/damage ratio that life, health, and youthful longevity depends on?

    ‘Safe starch’ and higher carb advocates say that their diet would not have the effects on thyroid as my diet, namely lowering T3, and they are likely right; see below. However, they believe that lowering thyroid is disadvantageous. It is far from; in fact quite the opposite. The purposeful lowering of thyroid likely helps to mediate metabolic advantages that help confer longevity in centenarians and in calorie restriction. Note that The holy grail of aging research (including the giant pharmaceutical corporations) has been to find a way (drug) to mimic the effects of calorie restriction (that has been shown to greatly improve health and increase maximal lifespan in almost every species studied since the 1930s) without having to do so.

    In the study cited previously,

    [In centenarians] “Down-regulation of thyroid hormones, due to either genetic predisposition or resetting of thyroid function,
    favours longevity.”
    …as my diet has been shown to do.

    And the effect of calorie restriction on thyroid;

    Effect of Caloric Restriction and Dietary Composition on Serum T3 and Reverse T3 in Man
    The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism jan1, 1976 vol. 42 no.1197-200

    “Subjects receiving the no-carbohydrate hypocaloric diets for two weeks demonstrated a similar 47% decline in serum T3 [as caloric restriction] … In contrast, the same subjects receiving isocaloric diets containing at least 50 g of carbohydrate showed no significant changes in either T3 or rT3 concentration.”
    Very low carbohydrates such as mine has similar effects on thyroid as caloric restriction. Keep in mind that I do not calorie restrict. People are told to eat whenever they are hungry, except for 3 hrs before bedtime.

    Of interest is that the authors’ note in this study that the (isocaloric) addition of 50 gm of carbohydrate totally reversed this beneficial effect of lowering T3.

    Some more clues..

    Centenarian indicators of longevity;
    Evaluation of neuroendocrine status in longevity. Neurobiol Aging. 2007; 28(5):774-83 Baranowska B
    “Our data revealed several differences in the neuroendocrine and metabolic status of centenarians, compared with other age groups, including the lowest serum concentrations of leptin, insulin and T3…”

    Calorie Restriction indicators of longevity;
    The Fall in Leptin Concentration Is a Major Determinant of the Metabolic Adaptation Induced by Caloric Restriction Independently of the Changes in Leptin Circadian Rhythms. The Journal of Clin. Endocrinology & Metabolism Sept 1, 2011 vol 96, no 9 Virgile Lecoultre, Eric Ravussin and Leanne M. Redman

    Leptin is involved in the hormonal regulation of the reproductive, somatotropic, thyroid, and autonomic axes and ultimately in the regulation of energy balance. In parallel to the metabolic adaptation observed in response to caloric restriction (CR), plasma leptin concentrations are substantially decreased…Conclusion: Our results confirm an important role for leptin as an independent determinant of the metabolic adaptation in response to CR.
    Note also that the reduction in leptin may be primary to elicit the metabolic adaptations of caloric restriction, including the reduction in thyroid/free T3, and therefore the extreme beneficial effects on health and lifespan. That brings us to my study;

    Clinical Experience of a Diet Designed toReduce Aging
    Journal of Applied Research, vol 9, no 4, 2009
    Rosedale, Westman, Konhilis
    “This retrospective analysis of patients from a private clinic adhering to a high-fat, low carbohydrate, adequate protein diet [the Rosedale diet] demonstrated reductions in critical metabolic mediators including insulin, leptin, glucose, triglycerides, and free T3… Patients in this study demonstrated a similar directional impact on the measured parameters when compared to studies using more established models of longevity such as caloric restriction.”

    We may have found a way to mimic caloric restriction, at least to some extent and any extent is extraordinary. It appears that my diet can mimic the hormonal changes in T3, insulin, and leptin seen in calorie restriction studies that are instrumental to mediate the major physiological and extremely beneficial effects of calorie restriction, but without having to calorie restrict. There are no studies that indicate that a higher carbohydrate diet would have similar benefits. However, there are clues that it would not. Cahill has shown that a carbohydrate intake of 100 grams/day reverses ketoses, impedes the ability to burn fat, and likely prevents the full physiology and genetic expression of health and longevity as revealed by caloric restriction. Furthermore, adding 50 gm of carbohydrate may at least contribute to reversing the beneficial effect of lowering T3 that mediates much of the advantages of CR, as shown in the above study. ‘Safe starch’ diets add double that intake.

    Holistic psychiatrist Dr. Judy Tsafrir says she is “puzzled” by the anti-low-carb sentiment that seems to be running through the Paleo/ancestral blogosphere.

    I don’t really get it. It seems very clear to me that most peoples’ health is vastly improved by a moderately low to very low carb diet. I am of the mind set that the specific source of the carbs matters. For people who have been formerly obese, their metabolism is often significantly damaged, and they could never eat upwards of 300g of carbs a day without gaining weight and having a recurrence of metabolic syndrome.

    She added her thoughts on hypothyroidism being indicative of a high-carb, not low-carb, diet.

    My thoughts are that hypothyroidism is very common among people eating a high carbohydrate SAD diet. Symptoms such as hair loss and feeling cold are not unusual symptoms among dieters, particularly those who lose significant amounts of weight. Any diet that is too calorie restricted, or combined with excessive exercise and or stress/poor sleep could cause such symptoms. Additionally, it is well established that persons who lose large amounts of weight, however they lose it, may and typically do, experience long-term cold intolerance and alterations in metabolism. ANY diet which is too energy (calorie) restricted may decrease metabolism. And science points to virtually all significant weight loss producing changes in metabolism and often, as previously stated, in experience of temperature, ie., feeling cooler. Adding carbs back in that drive weight gain and the recurrence of serious medical conditions is all too common.

    Reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Michael Fox who regularly studies the research behind carbohydrate-restriction and uses it with his patients who want to get pregnant offered up a different point of view on this jaded view of low-carb diets on thyroid health and fertility.

    My initial and summary response to these allegations regarding low carbohydrate diets is that each of these thoughts are categorically wrong and go against the conclusions of all of Weston Price’s research and findings. His findings are landmark and timeless, probably representing the most extensive look at primitive diets and populations ever done and because the societies are no longer in existence, his work can never be reproduced. It is odd that anyone who has read his book and analyzed his findings would come to any of those conclusions.

    Decrease in metabolic rate due to incomplete T4 to T3 peripheral conversion. / hypothyroid symptoms increase. / Lowers body temperature and depressed metabolism. / adding carbs raises temperature and improves health. All these ideas follow the same physiologic response:

    Lowering body temperature and metabolic rate via thyroid hormone and increased adrenal activity (cortisol) is a stress response mechanism in place to survive starvation stress and is activated in other hypothalamic stress situations such as excessive exercise. Probably the biggest trigger for this response in people today is hypoglycemia, a phenomenon exclusive of carbohydrate rich diets. In contrast, people on low carbohydrate diets have very stable blood sugars removing the powerful stress stimulus of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Our experience in reproduction also supports this physiologic response. For patients who are underweight, over exercised, Insulin resistant with reactive hypoglycemia, and those pursuing low calorie but normal to high carbohydrate nutrition plans (starvation diets) are at the highest risk of this Thyroid / Adrenal reaction to physiologic stress. Bariatric surgery patients who are forced into low calorie but usually maintain relatively high carbohydrate intake have a particularly severe form of this response. The fact that the body is responds to reactive hypoglycemia with this “stress response” is clear evidence that moderate to high carbohydrate nutrition and it’s subsequent hormonal responses (elevations in insulin, cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone, endorphins, etc.) are toxic to human physiology.

    These patients all complain of lower body temperature and cold hands. TSH levels are mildly elevated and T4 / T3 levels are low normal to slightly low in these patients (relative hypothyroid pattern). Universally when their diets are converted to high fat very low carbohydrate, they warm up and feel much less stressed due to the blood sugar stabilization and reduction in stress response.

    Eating 40-50% carbohydrate diet promotes fertility and athleticism: When we treat both normal and insulin resistant patient with ketotic, very low carbohydrate and high fat diets, our pregnancy rates increase 2-3 fold. The female reproductive hormonal system is the most sensitive endocrine system in humans. If ketotic diets were harmful or produced stress, fertility would be the first to go and pregnancy rates would plumet, not increase as they clearly do.

    In regards to athletics, carb loading was originally described for marathoners and other extreme exercisers. This was based on the increase in glycogen stores. At the rate of useage in these activities, carb loading only buys another 15-30 mins of exercise before glucose stores are depleted from the liver, muscle and kidney. In high carb diet athletes, when glucose runs out, it must be replenished, hence the need for liquid sugar, like gatorade. This is due to an inability of these individuals to significantly draw on fat stores for energy. Many high athletes are turning to high fat low carb ketotic diets, to allow for the continued useage of stored fat during the event. From personal experience, I can exercise at maximal levels for more than an hour without signs of hypoglycemia.

    I hope these comments will help readers understand that the allogations against low carb diets are completely unfounded in physiology.

    So now that we’ve heard a defense of low-carb diets from some of the most ardent supporters in the medical and research realm, what do some of the more prominent members of the Paleo community think about all of this growing antagonism about low-carb coming from their peers? I asked Robb Wolf about it and he typed in “ketogenic diet hypothyroid” on PubMed to see how many results there are. Wanna know what he found? “Not a single damn reference on PubMed. There are some folks trying to carve out a niche by really muddying the waters on all this. It’s not doing (overweight and metabolically challenged) folks a favor in my opinion.” Interesting. Jamie “That Paleo Guy” Scott reveals there are many “confounding factors” at work here that make this a lot more complex than meets the eye.

    “When people first move from a conventional low-fat approach and begin to open themselves to either a paleo or low-carb approach, you see people cutting their carbohydrates, and specifically cutting these from grain and fruit-based sources. They often gain a lot of health traction from this approach, though I am not entirely convinced that we can measure this on the basis of carbohydrate content alone. What you often also see is a reluctance to push fat intakes up, or it is only done minimally. This may be due to a persistent fear of fat, or it may be that a person decides in their mind that if they go low carb AND low fat, they will get better results (indeed, many of the body building-type diets are variants of low-carb, low-fat, high-protein diets – and you usually see the wheels fall off people inside 6-8 weeks). It could also be that, after many years of poor eating, that digestive capacity is low and people feel quite unwell eating the likes of fatty meats – the fat can go right through them.”

    Grace “Dr. B G” from the “Animal Pharm” blog says she has observed that ketosis can “bring about a compromised adrenal and low thyroid state.” But that doesn’t mean we should all start eating a bunch of carbs to compensate.

    I’d disagree with the statement that a thyroid supplement and 300g daily carbs are required. The standard adrenal recovery and optimization protocols rely on 150g daily carbs. Certain people may require more I believe (i.e. athletes) and certain individuals may require less.

    PCOS is one kind of infertility which is reversed by low-carb and ketotic diets when insulin and leptin sensitivity are reclaimed. However this will not be the case in those with severe adrenal dysfunction.

    These questions and the debate of the role of carbs are important especially in the context of multiple endocrine organ dysfunction (i.e. gonads, thyroid and adrenals). I say this because adrenal dysfunction is largely unrecognized but is EPIDEMIC. Even children and teens suffer from adrenal and thyroid issues.

    And it’s not from low-carb diets!

    Yes, ketosis and intermittent fasting are problematic for a TON of people if folks whether they are trying to get pregnant, leptin resetting, trying to increase free testosterone, lower estrogen dominance or just trying to lose body fat. It’s not that complicated but for those who have no problems with ketosis, I suspect they are not likely to ‘get it.’ I went into adrenal and thyroid dysfunction with intermittent fasting which put me in ketosis. Overtraining and CrossFit hastened the health decline. Not everyone has Kevlar lined adrenals!

    Dr. Emily Deans From “Evolutionary Psychiatry” is one who thinks there is some validity to the arguments made about low-carb diets and thyroid levels.

    There is no question that starvation, fasting, and a VERY low carb diet will lower T3 levels. It is not the same as true hypothyroidism as TSH often is low or low normal as well, and with a true primary thyroid gland problem, TSH will be very elevated. It seems reasonable to speculate that the body will work to increase energy efficiency in a state of fasting or starvation, it is possible that lower T3 will do this, and it MAY be this change in thyroid function is responsible for some of the speculated longevity effects from a low carb diet. Certainly the process is very reversible with eating more carbs and does not represent any damage to the thyroid.

    As for the symptoms of hypothyroidism, Dr. Deans explains:

    In my own experience, fasting in the winter time causes me to have cold extremities. There is also a noradrenergic effect which may be responsible. It seems unlikely a run of the mill low carb diet would cause these problems. Add in lots of fasting and ketosis, I suppose you could overdo it.

    On the lower body temperature issue with low-carb diets, she concludes that “fasting definitely does” and that “very low-carb might do this to some.” Dr. Dean observed that she’s not aware of any endocrinologists who track morning body temps to determine the health of a patient’s metabolism. Regarding the “accurate” signs of hypothyroidism that people should be looking for, she listed “low pulse, decreased reflexes, a certain pallor and lack of energy, hair falling out, and depression.” I didn’t see anything in there that low-carb diets necessarily are contributing to.

    As far as adding more carbohydrates and supplementing with thyroid hormone to get pregnant, Dr. Deans believes it is “an issue of context” depending on who you are and what the purpose of doing so would be.

    Many women nowadays are infertile due to PCOS, which is known to respond well to a low-carb diet due to the insulin resistance. In that case, I think low-carb diets would increase fertility. The only situation I’m aware of regarding supplemental thyroid hormone added to very low-carb diets was Chris Masterjohn’s anecdote of the moose thyroid eating young ladies of the far north. It’s an interesting anecdote, but I’m not aware of any OB/GYN’s pushing supplemental thyroid hormone unless someone is truly hypothyroid. If you have symptoms and low T3 and eat very low-carb or are fasting a lot and can’t seem to get pregnant, it does seem reasonable to increase the carbs rather than supplementing with thyroid hormone. I’m not a big fan of counting macronutrients as you know. The very low-carb diet is a physiologic extreme with a number of interesting metabolic consequences, some of which could conceivably be very favorable in the case of certain types of cancer, epilepsy, dementia, possibly in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There may be elements to that extreme that are not favorable for others, such as athletes, for different reasons.

    Diane Sanfilippo from Balanced Bites notes that carbohydrate intake on Paleo depends on the activity of the dieter and their nutritional history.

    From the practical implementation side of things… while I don’t have clients who are eating 300g or so of carbs/day simply for general health, I absolutely see how it can be a valid approach for some people who have been eating low-carb for a while without benefit or with halted success, and especially for athletes. I don’t honestly believe that carbs are inherently bad or are what contributes to metabolic derangement. I think that BAD carbs are bad: refined/processed foods and foods devoid of bioavailable micronutrients to help us to metabolize the carbohydrates and provide adequate fuel for our cells. I can’t see how whole foods that we’ve survived on for thousands of years would be problematic except in the case of a modern world wherein a person may be dealing with food addictions or, again, metabolic damage as a result of the aforementioned types of bad carbs.

    She does think if someone starts feeling horrible eating a low-carb diet that they should shift to eating more carbs to figure out what works well for the individual.

    I certainly am not seeing clients who have eaten lots of sweet potatoes or fruit all their lives) as opposed to refined/modern foods) struggling with their carb intake and metabolic derangement/weight lost resistance. When people got hooked on sugar, grains and refined/modern foods, the problems began to mount. So, my point is this: while I generally eat fairly low carb and will recommend that people eat lower carb (under 150g) if they are less active, I certainly would never rule out the option of adding carbs back in and rebalancing macronutrient ratios of someone’s intake differently if their low-carb approach wasn’t working for them anymore. Why keep plugging away at a way of eating that isn’t working for you and you don’t FEEL well? I think it’s all about finding out what works for each person, and then going with it, knowing that that may change periodically.

    Diane says many Paleo dieters end up eating low-carb by default when they forget to include dense carbohydrate sources in their diet.

    I think one of the BIGGEST mistakes a lot of people make when they go Paleo is that they forget that eating dense carb sources wasn’t the root of their problems, but often they just stick to other vegetables and almost mistakenly end up on a low-carb path and possibly discover ill-health side effects as related to cortisol and thyroid disregulation after some time into their new lifestyle. I send people to my FAQs post frequently to help them discover dense sources of Paleo carbs, and I certainly hold no dogma around a low-carb approach being healthier for every person.

    And finally, we hear from Beyond Caloriegate e-book author Adam Kosloff who is perplexed by the “extravagant, circus-like debates about diet.”

    Let me get this straight. Adding 300g of carbs to your diet will improve your health by raising your body temperature? Low carb is bad for your eyebrows? Maybe bleeding people with leeches fixes the flu, too. And burning witches at the stake makes it rain. Ya never know.

    Look, I can’t comment on the science, or should I say “science,” behind these critiques. Not because they might not have merit. They might! Frankly, we lack the long term, controlled studies on low carbing we need to answer all the nitty gritty questions. At some point, we all grade into the realm of “making stuff up” because the science is so often so poorly done, ambiguous, badly communicated and summarized, and, at best, hard to apply broadly.

    So why do we insist in indulging in these extravagant, circus-like debates about diet minutiae? My friends: science is not extravagant. Science is a brutal, blunt instrument. When we try to sell people on packaged solutions — like “perfect” diets that have something to say about every food group, macronutrient, micronutrient, protein, enzyme, etc — we are going way, way, way beyond the mandate of actual science.

    And I empathize – it’s tricky! Ordinary people who just want to lose weight and call it a day need structure. They need the 7 Simple Fat Loss Steps for Stupid People, or whatever. Because they don’t have the time, patience or skill to navigate the labyrinth of “diet myths…or are they really??” that have been spun for them.

    That said, we in the low carb/Paleo world have a serious forest-for-the-trees problem, if we’re spilling our virtual ink debating questions like these. Ding ding ding! There’s a massive obesity epidemic going on that’s crippling America and killing millions. We need to deal with THAT. All attention on THAT. Enough “low carb thins your eyebrows” talk. Because even if it does, WHO CARES? Low carb/Paleo is likely our best weapon in the fight against obesity. If your house is on fire, and a fireman comes to the rescue with a hose, are you really going to kick the guy out if he steps on a piece of your fine china while fighting the blaze?

    Enough rearranging the deck chairs. The Titanic is SINKING.

    We are debating Level 10 “stuff” (e.g. “Does low carb thin the eyebrows, long term?”) when we can’t even get our act straight about the Level 1 “stuff” (e.g. “What causes obesity? Eating too much, or insulin’s impact on the fat tissue?”).

    Speaking of which, I am also baffled that so many high profile thinkers in the low carb/Paleo realm appear to be willing to toss the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis into the junkheap and replace it with fever dreams about “food reward”. But that’s another axe to grind for another day.

    Here’s the real issue here. The fundamental one. We are focusing on the wrong constraints, when it comes to communicating with each other and with the world at large. Does it make logical sense when someone calls the Paleolithic diet a “fad diet”? Of course not! Paleo is literally the opposite of that, prima facie. What holds people back from “buying into” the Paleo/low carb message is (in general) EMOTIONAL resistance, not intellectual resistance. Fear, anger, frustration, bafflement, etc. These emotions are expressed in terms of intellectual counterarguments. But at the root of the resistance are feelings/needs that are not getting met. We all have needs to be heard, to understand, to be part of a tribe of like minded people, to make important contributions. When those needs aren’t met, wars, rhetorical and otherwise, break out.

    A more productive debate would be: how can we get everyone’s needs met? And by everyone, I mean everyone: low carbers, anti-low carb Paleos, vegetarians/vegans, USDA officials, corn syrup manufacturers, etc. Let’s rise above seeing people as “enemies” or even “allies” and recognize the binding humanity in all of us. We have a major challenge on our hands — the Titanic is sinking! — and we need all hands on deck.

    I agree Adam. I’ve been scratching my head over all this talk about what low-carb is supposedly doing to people’s health long-term coming from people who I would consider allies in this debate of ideas. As Dr. Feinman noted, if you’re able to eat more carbohydrates and not have it negatively impact your health then GO FOR IT! But the overriding message we need to be sending the general public is that they are being fooled into thinking a low-fat diet with “healthy whole grains” and vegetable oils is the optimal way to eat is dead wrong. Unfortunately, for many of them, they have been eating that way for so long that they come to low-carb or Paleo or whatever with comprised hormone and metabolic issues that will need to be addressed. It’s not the low-carb diets that are necessarily leading to these issues. People who tend to land on low-carb have already been through the wringer and back trying to attain the best health possible for many years following inferior dietary advice. Perhaps a low-carb Paleo diet is precisely what is needed to slow and maybe even halt the damage that has been done.

    Rather than being critical of this way of eating with people who are on the same team, why not acknowledge that more research needs to be done on these theories that have been written about? And in the meantime why not walk alongside those of us who do choose to eat more of a very low-carb (under 50g daily) diet as a means for healing the damage that has been inflicted from so many years of poor nutritional choices that have gotten our hormones and bodies off kilter? There’s power in numbers and we are not as strong if we allow ourselves to become fractured by the minutia when the big picture still isn’t in focus for the hundreds of millions who desperately need to hear our message.

    Let the discussion begin. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

    • wilberfan

      I haven’t read this entire post yet–but I wanted to thank you, Jimmy, for addressing this!  I’ve been Paleo (following 18 years vegan) for only about 16 months now, and this back-and-forth about carbs (“Yes, they are! No, they’re not!”) has been EXTREMELY confusing for me.    Maybe it’s the price we pay for being at the “cutting edge” of nutritional thought?

      • Carbs are the new eggs.

        • Anonymous

          Scare ’em bloody murder?

      • Anonymous

        I’m seeking to bring clarity to a frustrating issue.

    • Turbo Kelly

      Wow! Great post.

      • Anonymous

        THANKS for reading Kelly!

    • CarolynF


      This is very shocking to me that the Paleo people think that eating lots of carbs is good for you.  My personal experience is that I have been lowcarbing for 10 years and have maintained a 50 pound weight loss, which I could never do when I was eating healthy whole grains.  My blood sugar is normal and my lipids are great as well as my blood sugar.  I was hypothyroid before I was lowcarbing and those numbers are great, too using Nature-throid.  
      Is this Friendly Fire?  or what?

      We all know that when you add lots of carbs to your plan, you had better kiss any dietary fat bye-bye because that is a deadly combination.  Has Paleo turned into Weight Watchers??? Just wondering….

      • Agree, I realized a while back that ANY fat with ANY carb equals a donut.  Just like glucose & fructose from fruit isn’t any better for you, just because it’s natural, than candy bars, even good fats eaten in combination with good carbs from natural whole foods are just as bad as donuts from any of the big name donut stores in terms of creating stored body fat.  With the exception of the adulterated oxidized omega-6 processed trans fat vegetable oils you don’t get from the whole fats & carbs, you WILL get just as fat, but it will at least be healthy fat.

        • wilberfan

           “ANY fat with ANY carb equals a donut.”

          I can’t speak to the scientific accuracy of that statement, but it’ll be a great tag-line for the movie poster! 🙂

          • Anonymous

            There’s probably more truth to that than not.

        • Anonymous

          Well said.

      • Steven Hamley

        ‘Lots of carbs’ is relative.  Very few people with Paleo advocate much more than 150-200 which is only roughly 25-30% of total calories

        • Anonymous

          CHEESESLAVE said she consumes as much as 300g carbs daily on her new “I hate low-carb” plan.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe they can get away with it more than us metabolically damaged folks.

    • Jimmy,

      I posted a few weeks ago about all the “rumblings” on many sites in our community. It did suprise me a bit too.

      FWIW, A lot of people are drastically changing their caloric intake when switching to paleo, the “symptoms” described of lowered body temp, cold fingers, T3…seem to be perfectly in line with classic calorie restriction. If you combine this with the fact that many “paleo converts” are “health” minded people, my speculation is that they exercise at higher and better intensities than the average person. Combine the exercise and calorie restriction, and you have a good recipe for not feeling optimal.
      Just speculation here from someone who is NOT an MD and only passed physiology 101. But, I have been eating this way since Art Devany made me see the light in 2006. I find it interesting he has stayed far away from all this discourse and continues to do his own thing. But his own thing has changed over time…always adapting and finding what works for HIM. There in lies the secret i think. The discussions will go on, and you might be right, we might blow up this whole movement, the problem is there is no cookie cutter one size fits all, and in our ever instant gratification quest, this doesn’t sit well, so people give up.

      One thing I do KNOW for sure after my years of reading and learning, real food is a must. Home made and non processed. For some that’s bacon and butter, for other spuds and butter, for others celery and lean grass fed beef with no butter….

      Keep up the good work Jimmy and stay the course…YOUR COURSE.

      • Anonymous

        Finding what works for you is the centerpiece of livin’ la vida low-carb IMHO.

    • Jn26972

      not sure about them but i started2.5 yrs ago and would’nt change it for anything! went from 220 to 182. the first few weeks were a little rough why my body was converting over from carbs to fat but that was absolutely it. i started investigative research into food and health about 3.5 to 4 yrs ago for the simple fact that i was sick and tired of being sick and tired and that everything the government has bee telling me to do the last 30 to 40 yrs was slowly killing me.  a huge variety of health problems from skin tone, acne,bowel,ibs,itching,back pain,low energy,bloating and the list goes on…mysteriously disappears. i am soo to be 43 and feel younger and more energetic than ever before! my 19 now 21 yr. old step-daughters weight was getting out of hand and came to me one day and said tell me what your doing i want to eat how your eating, of course through the previous yrs i had been teaching here not only what to eat but why and the health benefits of everything i ate. well she down 120lbs and feels just like i do! on the other hand my wife. i try to eat from 50 to 60 fat 30 to 40 protein and 10 from select veggies like cabbage,b-srouts,leafy green,aspargus,broccoli,saurkraut,etc. on the other hand my wife cant seen to lose more than 10lbs, doctor says thyroid is fine but i have my doubts! was wondering if you had an opinion or any suggestions to try? thanks and keep up the great work!!            

      • Anonymous

        WAY TO GO on your low-carb success. Your wife may have other issues going on. Email me at livinlowcarbman@charter.net with the specific menus she is eating and I’ll do my best to assist you.

    • Good Article, I’m halfway through, but I need to leave! tnx Jimmy

      • Anonymous

        ENJOY Charles!

    • Dave Dixon

      Hey Jimmy. I just skimmed the above (wish I had time for a detailed read and response), but thought I would relate my very recent experience. I got hooked up recently with an excellent trainer (who, amongst other things, does strength and conditioning for world-class power-lifters). Now, I was sinking into some of the symptoms I saw above: cold extremities, lack of energy and appetite, gradual weight gain, sleeping issues, etc. In addition to the workouts (focused on large functional core muscle groups), my trainer did one tweak to my diet, which was to ensure that I got 1g of protein per lb. of bodyweight every day. The difference in two weeks has been pretty astounding, massive increase in energy/appetite, now often too hot instead of too cold (can’t sleep with a blanket anymore), sleeping like a baby, and the extra flab is starting to disappear. Obviously the increase in physical activity has something to do with that (though I was playing basketball 3x/week before), but I’m guessing that “protein power” is literally at work here. I haven’t really changed the carbohydrate content of my diet by much, still generally below 50g/day, maybe creeping a bit above 50g on workout days, where I’ll have some fries or something post-workout just to avoid a major blood-sugar crash.

      I suspect there’s a “trap” of sorts eating low-carb, which is not getting enough protein. We tend to think “high fat”, and it may be easy to wind up not eating enough protein and effectively driving the body into a starvation state. I’ll bet I’d relearn something about this if I went back through the Drs. Eades’ books…

      • Anonymous

        Hmmm and some people say the problem is eating too MUCH protein. LOL!

    • John Lushefski

      There are lots of good points addressed by several people.  I think one of the main problems with the low-carb/hypothyroid debate is that because macronutrients are not the entire puzzle, we would need an extremely large number of studies to try and isolate everything’s effects.  As it is now, the evidence is plain inconsistent and cryptic: extreme calorie changes, vegetable fat sources, improper mineral intakes, etc all force us to make uncertain interpretations. 

      There is lots of negative (and positive of course) anecdotal evidence, but nobody says that low carb consumption is sufficient for great health; we have no idea what that person could have done to experience problems.  I do know that 99% of low carbers eat nowhere near a true “traditional diet,” as can be seen on shows like Bizarre Foods or The Human Planet. 

      Also, blood thyroid levels alone don’t paint a perfect picture of thyroid hormone metabolism or temperature or symptoms of hypo/hyper.   

      • Anonymous

        Lots of confounding variables…but people like an easy scapegoat.

    • Anonymous

      Awesome. I thought Dr. Rosedale made some interesting points regarding body temperature. It reminds me of when I studied thermodynamics in college. One thing we were taught, is that heat = waste, so Dr. Rosedale’s opinion seems to follow that principle.

      Thanks again for giving us both sides of the debate in your usual even-handed manner. It’s great to hear from all the experts on issues like this.

      • Anonymous

        This is an issue that warrants more discussion.

    • I’ve had the opposite experience.  I started the Atkins Diet because, with my hypothyroid, literally no other diet works for me.  I’ve lost 70 pounds in a year and my thyroid function test that I took recently shows that my TSH levels have dropped, which means that my thyroid is working better than it was a year ago.  This is the first check up that I have had IN YEARS, where I did NOT have to increase my thyroid medication.  My health has improved dramatically on low carb. I’m not going back.

      • Anonymous

        CONGRATULATIONS Elizabeth! I’m so proud of you. Keep it up!

    • It always amazes me that people tend to approach their pet low carb/paleo theory like religious dogma, and that zealotry is starting to get in the way of constructive debate.   If we can’t all stand together against the tide of the SAD, then we will all fail. 
      What’s becoming clear is that the interaction between diet and thyroid hormones is not very well-understood yet.  I’m frustrated with stalled weight loss, rising TSH, but I don’t feel cold or sluggish at all–I feel much warmer and more energetic on low carb.  I have a feeling the thyroid was a mess BEFORE I changed my diet, and whether the current response is a normal (and perhaps positive?) side effect of the dietary changes is unclear–doesn’t seem to me that ANYBODY knows the answer.

      BTW, count me as someone who became (unexpectedly!) pregnant on a very low carb diet–PCOS symptoms are very well treated with low carb!  I had a healthy, wonderful pregnancy and well baby. 

      I have a theory (and it’s only a theory, unsupported by scientific inquiry) that there are two types of people who benefit from these dietary changes:  1) individuals with damaged metabolisms from years of dietary abuse, insulin resistance, PCOS, wheat intolerance,  and other causes, and 2)  individuals with (more) normal metabolisms.  People in group one MUST restrict carbohydrates significantly, people in group two may be able to tolerate a moderate amount of carbs with no ill effect.  It seems to me (casual observation only) that more people who are successful at Paleo type diets fall into group 2, while those of us with damaged metabolisms must follow a VLC, regardless of whether it’s an “ancestral” approach or not.  It seems to me that people who lean toward paleo without low carb are healthier to begin with, and may not already be suffering from thyroid and adrenal issues, while those of us in group 1 have a multitude of impairments including already damaged thyroid function and adrenal issues.  So an observation that people on VLC diets incur damage to the thyroid and adrenals may be missing the fact that the damage was already present, and as other issues are resolved, perhaps thyroid and adrenal issues become more apparent. 

      • Anonymous

        Jan, you’re exactly right. Let’s do the examination and then make assessments from there.

    • Excellent article. I give you credit for wading into some pretty deep issues. I
      like your comment that “more research is needed”. We all have our
      beliefs about what works for us, but what does the science say? Recent publications comparing LC to HC seem to
      support LC as superior for weight loss and metabolic disorders like diabetes.
      But, we all need to keep an open mind when it comes to the science of diet. Only
      recently are the questions being asked the right way with properly controlled
      studies. It’s an exciting time. My bets on LC but science, not opinion, will
      prevail in the end.

      • Anonymous

        Until we test some of these hypotheses about low-carb diets, nothing can be said with certainty about any of it.

    • This is such a great article, Jimmy!  A house divided cannot stand, and the paleo and low-carb community need to keep focused on our common threads:  the importance of getting the word out that eating sugars and starchy carbs will harm our bodies, and we need to eat healthy fats and more natural foods.  It is unsettling to hear all of this negativity about the way I have been eating for the past 11 years.  I eat about 20 net carbs per day, and my health right now is excellent.  Listening to some of these accounts, I am wondering when my thyroid is going to begin to self-destruct.  I wish more long term research was being conducted.  I feel so good now, and it would be really difficult to ever go back to grains and sugars.  Thanks for the great article.

      Ida (Co-Author of Thin and Thinner) 

      • Anonymous

        Gloom and doom isn’t the way to attract people…whether the Paleo peeps like it or not, low-carb is here to stay. Why not embrace those of us who choose to eat high-quality food with a low-carb bent?

    • Ellabella

       Excellent post Lisa.  I just stated something similar.  Even the paleo authors can’t agree on what is truly paleo.  At least with low carbing, the only disagreement is how high or low you should go in your carb grams…something I can definitely live with since we’re all so unique in our carb ceilings anyway.   I have quite a bit of distaste for the present state of the “paleo” movement.  Truth is, low carbing opened the doors for them.  Wish someone would just tell it like it is…

      • Ellabella

         oops!  Excuse me!  Jimmy, you did!!!!

        • Anonymous

          Working on it! 😉

      • Anonymous

        We need the Paleo people because they are sharing good messages about food quality. But they need us because people may need to cut carbs down for optimal health.

    • Great post Jimmy!  I too have been noticing a growing separation from the Paleo group.  I lost nearly fifty pounds and have kept it off by eating a low carb/paleo diet.  Low carb and paleo are linked, but not as siblings or parent-child.  They are subsets of what Sean Croxton calls “just eat real foods”.  Low carb is “the diet” for type 2 diabetics, those with certain medical conditions, and those who have a significant amount of weight to lose AND have been seriously obese (say, BMI 30+) for years.  Eating low carb is the fastest, easiest, and most maintainable way for them to lose weight.

      Paleo eating, especially with higher levels of carbs (or safe starches – those carbs with low to no fructose), is really popular with younger people, people who have always been involved with fitness for most of their lives, and people who have never been morbidly obese for years.  So yes, they can eat real foods including carbs – and this can be safe starches and, God forbid, wheat.  This will be done to tolerance.  All of us who eat were heavy for years will never lose weight eat 300 grams of carbs no matter what they are.  And even those who are now “Paleo” but were once very heavy will go low carb if their weight starts creeping up.

      Bottom line – Paleo and low carb are related by being subsets of real food eating.  But if you are morbidly obese and have been for years, then a low carb/paleo diet is the only diet for you.   

      • I just read through the comments, and many people made the same points that I did but expressed them much better.  Yes, I like Mark Sisson’s and Rob Wolf’s approach: here are all the foods that are good for you, now eat them in the way that works for you given your age, activity level, metabolic/medical condition, and goals.

        • Anonymous

          Personal, customized nutrition…works every time!

      • Anonymous

        They are certainly cousins…and occasionally have arguments like family, too. 😀

    • Kevin Geary

      Thank you for addressing this. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve seen the same shift as of late and it’s causing all kinds of confusion. We need people to go Paleo/Primal, not to step into a shit-storm of back and forth banter about how low-carb might cause problems (when they need to realize that high carb is causing the majority of society’s problems).

      • Anonymous

        Unity on common points and not division on unimportant ones is what will take this to the mainstream.

    • Kevin Geary

      I agree that Paleo needs to find a common ground or it won’t be treated seriously. You can’t have 10 people define paleo ten different ways and expect that you’re going to market that mess to the general public. That’s why I like PRIMAL and follow Mark Sisson’s guidelines. There’s only one “Primal” diet that I know of and his blog has led to convert many people I know. The Paleo crowd needs to get their shit together.

      • Anonymous

        That’s the problem…Paleo is NOT defined. Cordain says it’s low-carb by default, but there are others who say Paleo isn’t low-carb at all. Talk about confusing the end user.

        • The paleo concept will become less useful for everyone, the more defined it becomes.

          It is more helpful as a logical framework, for people to use to evaluate their health issues and nutritional needs, within the context of evolutionary adaptiveness and their individual  goals.

          It’s confusing to folks, because it seems that many people want some pre-packaged, completely defined program that they can just subscribe to and do. That line of thinking presupposes that there should be one diet for everyone, but if that is the case, then why have so many different primitive population groups thrived on such varied diets?

          In my opinion, the only people that will truly benefit from a concretely defined “paleo diet”, with very specific and exacting macronutrient ratios and food lists, are the people trying to sell it as a product.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t mind it being a template but respect needs to be given to those who do it differently than others.

    • Elizabeth Miller

      Cro-Magnon man must have all been hypothyroid and infertile I guess. According to Brian Fagan (Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans) for tens of thousands of years, our ancestors would have been lucky to get one cup of plant food a YEAR! Not exactly a staple. The temperature ranged from a high of 4′ C to -20′ C (Le Musee Nationale de la Prehistoire in Les Eyzies, France)– not too friendly for growing carbohydrates. Yet according to Spencer Wells (Pandora’s Seed: The Unforseen Cost of Civilization) our ancient grand-parents were healthier by several different measures that even contemporary humans. Carbohydrates simply are not an obligate human food (though the colorful veggies round out the dinner plate) Yet there’s no doubt some people (especially young, fit people) tolerate them well — at least for a while. For my carbohydrate buck I’ll take the nutrient dense low carb veggies over starches every time.

      Perhaps those not feeling well on a carb restricted paleo diet never became fully keto-adapted? 

      • Anonymous

        Me too Elizabeth! Keto-adaptation is an important element in this discussion.

      • You can’t extrapolate localized ethnographic adaptation to food sources to totally different population groups. Just because Inuit lived on blubber and reindeer liver, doesn’t mean you yourself will thrive on the same diet.

        One also shouldn’t do the reverse. “Cro-Magnon man must have all been hypothyroid and infertile I guess.” I’m sure any of the Cro Magnon population which didn’t possess individual genetics ideal for living in a low carb ice age environment probably did become infertile, and thus did not reproduce. In that manner, it would not take very long for the entire population to consist of low carb cold adapted humans, since only those individuals would pass on their genes.

        An isolated population left to live on a relatively unchanging diet for thousands of years will undoubtedly develop adaptations specifically derived through natural selection, bring about the ability to live at an optimal level in those conditions.That is why most Japanese contain certain enzymes in their gut for digesting sea weed, and people of European descent are more likely to retain lactase production into adulthood, as opposed to most native Africans.

        However, it seems that in the modern world, with international travel, access to the entirety of the planet’s varied food production, and modern medicine to save the day, the genetic and environmental factors which helped guide and direct the diets of different human population groups has been entirely derailed. Thus, the reason why there is no perfect diet for anyone. We’re all members of different tribes, scattered to the winds and desperately trying to determine what our own “ideal” actually is.

        • Anonymous

          Excellent thoughts David!

    • Very good post Jimmy and good comments by all. I think your last paragraph sums up my thoughts exactly. We are all in this battle together and I think we should keep striving towards finding the answers – but at the same time not cut each other down in the process. Keep up the good work!!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for your even-headed approach on this, Spencer.

    • Hi, Jimmy

      As you know I support you , Dr. Eades and Gary Taubes and think you are a nice guy. My own personal diet is a bit more carb rich but not too much. Gary allows tinker room.

      I recognize your struggles with you weight Jimmy. it’s difficult. Losing weight for you is not the same as losing wieght for any average person. I do not know for sure if obesity runs in your family r not, but if it does – that will explain alot. Dr. Douglas Coleman was a true genius obesity researcher. What he found was true. That man spent 30 years trying to disprove his own hypothesis, but it was eventually confirmed. His successful mice experiments etc. working out well in humans. ( mice  and share 99 % same genome)

      Obesity is more genetic than any other medica condition studied by science- only height is a super tiny smidgen more- and obesity *might* even completely equal height.

      I feel that you should still be low carb, Jimmy, but perhaps some sweet potatoes will help- a little bit of them. Can’t say. Experiment my friend.

      On another note:  

      P.S. I think Colpo is a dishonest fraud, and I am really looking forward to perhaps posting  pictures of my professional natural bodybuilding brother who puts Colpo’s physique to SHAME.

      Here is an idea : Dr, Eades can do a post with the Title  “Anthony Colpo Put Your Shirt Back On”  LOL !!!!!!!! Colpo is so arrogant insulting others’ physiques. I really want to put him to SHAME by posting my brother of the same weight.

      My brother follows a Gary Taubes style diet with the exception of some sweet potatoes thrown in. 6  week out from his conest time he certainly does NOT load up on carbs.

      My brother’s physique and symmetry is BETTER than ANY- ANY guru I have seen on the Internet. IFBB pro Eddie Moyanz was very impressed by him, as well as several other IFBB pros.

      WHERE is Anthont Colpo’s pro card???????? Nowhere that is where. What has that shady slime ball ever won in his life? Nothing.

      I also strongly suspect Colpo picture is not even him it looks PHOTSHOPPED to me. BLow it up to 400 % Look at the bizarre LOOOONG NECK- GIRAFFE NECK.

      Ten look at those bizarre tan lines. Does he workout in a turtle neck? ONLY 1/4 of his girrafe neckis  tan , no tan on arms at all.

      Listen to how that fraud was backing low carb in your podcast with him He orginally tried high carb in the 80’s. He completely rejected it and went on and on about how lousy it made him feel.

      . Now he has done a complete turn around. That is TYPICAL of what scammers and frauds do,. The money DRIED UP =- –  so they completely do a turn around. Very characteristic of a fraud.

      Urgelt and others warned me about  Colpo. He is extremely shady and uneducated. Take it from me. Colpo is a scammer and manipualtive and misrepresents EVERYTHING.- including me.

      Best Wishes, Jimmy


      • Anonymous

        You’ve found what works for you and I’m constantly tinkering. We’ll get there sometime.

    • Jeanie

      I stopped reading Ann Marie Michaels after it was clear she was following Matt Stone. Can’t stand the guy and he is a charlatan!

      • I was just thinking that she sounded exactly like Matt Stone–“Holy Batman!”-type interjections and all. 

        • Anonymous

          He has made an influence.

      • Anonymous

        Tell us how you REALLY feel. 😉

    • nico

      Gerber and Rosedale are my favs…

      Thereis no one size fits all! The majority of paleo peeps are youg and buff.. Let them eat carbs!

      Thoseofus who are chronically overweight obviously have insulin issues…. There is no mystery here… we can not handle the carb load they can…

      I think your research here is great jimmy…. But don’t let this trip you up so much…

      You are the one who recognized that one size doesn’t fit all…

      And if your readers are confused, have them read Gerbet’s response…

      For those of us with insulin probs, I do think we have to supplement with T3 to keep our thyroid function going so we can lose weight. Adrenal support is important too… Everybody should get their hormones tested… The only question I would ask Ronis doesn’t the lower edthyroid response result in little to no weight loss? That is the conundrum to me…


      • Anonymous

        Finding what works for you and doing it is all that matters.

    • I forgot to  mention:

      All you need to do ,Jimmy, is stay at the lower end of your set point. This is about 8 to 10 pounds less. That is all anybody can do for the very   long term. VERY MODEST weight loss leads to DRAMATIC health benefits.

      There is still A LOT scientists must learn about the INVOLUNTARY  body weight regulation system, and how it works.

      Those who judge you are ignorant of science and low intelligence. The VERY BEST obesity researchers in the world- the pioneers- have publicly said that “eat less ,move more” is a completely unscientific approach to obesity. It  is a complete social myth that allows the low intelligence people to judge obese individuals. it is a social STIGMA PREDICATED on an OUTDATED Hippocratic nostrum from 2,000 years back. It is no more effective today than it was then.

      Poor lifestyles can explain a weight gain of 5 pounds, but NOT true obesity at all. Obesity is hellishly complex and SO deep.

      ALL of the science points to people like Manuel Uribe being in a DISEASE state. Something is different about morbidly obese people which results in obesity INDEPENDENTLY of caloric intake. That last line is in the literature.

      Obesity research is filled with ENORMOUS unknowns. They are far greater than any knowns.

      Take care,


      • Anonymous

        “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” –Donald Rumsfeld

    • When I started low-carb, I found I needed supplements I didn’t need on my previous diet. I need magnesium, and when I went down to around 20 or 30g of carb per day, I needed a potassium pill or two. And of course, you have to eat more salt on a LC diet, especially if you’re active and losing some salt in sweat. I started LC because I’m very prone to acid reflux and wanted to get off acid blockers, so going back to a high-carb diet wasn’t an option. And I’d be fat and diabetic if I ate anything close to 300g of carb per day.

      A friend of mine recently started low-carbing, and she said she was trying to keep her calories under 1000 per day. That’s not enough! No wonder she’s cold and she’s shaking after a workout. Using the nutrient calculator on the diabetes update blog, we found she should be getting around 1,600 calories and a lot more protein and fat than she’s eating. 

      Given the evidence (or lack of it) that you’ve provided here, the LC=> hypothyroid sounds like a post-hoc fallacy.

      • Anonymous

        It’s based on a whole lotta nothin’ but anecdotes.

    • Anonymous

      Great post Jimmy! Give the people the truth! 

      I’m astonished at how so many of these 22-year-old “Paleo Hackers” suffer from magical thinking. “Calories don’t count,” they say to themselves,  “and I exercise, so I can eat as much of everything as I want.” So you’ll read about guys eating 2 pounds of meat at a sitting with 4 potatoes. Well, dudes, you might be able to get away with that at 21-25. But 26-30 will come knocking on your door. . .You notice how these magical thinkers never measure their blood sugar either. They have no idea what they are doing to themselves; the damage won’t show up for another few years. But they believe that they alone are invincible and somehow exempt from the ravages of insulin. 

      • Anonymous

        Payday someday an old Baptist preacher once said.

    • JBug

      And I thought I was imagining things. What I’ve noticed isn’t so much the health questions as to the food choices. Yes, I like artificail sweetners in my coffee. I like coffee. I like dairy and have no problems with it. I like being able to have a low carb protein bar as a snack. I love hot dogs in summer. What I’ve noticed is the Paleo commnity bashing low-carb diets for eating ‘junk.’ “Low–carbers eat some processed foods and artificial sweetners. Low-carbers don’t limit their meat to only grass-fed and they eat lunch meat or sausages. Low-carbers don’t totaly eliminate seed oils or all grains. We in the Paleo community don’t eat all that junk”. It’s encouraging an ‘us vs them’ mentality but I can’t for the life of me figure out why they feel the need to make the distinction.

      • Anonymous

        Purists haven’t lived in the body of an obese carboholic before. There is far too much judgment and not enough empathy that we are all different.

        • Whatever works

          With all due respect, Jimmy, you don’t seem to follow your own rule.  You spend far more energy judging (thinly veiled and not) those who eat higher carb and not enough energy “empathizing” with them.  It would be refreshing if you would genuinely encourage those of us who are healthily and happily eating a higher carb diet to continue doing so, and those of us who don’t feel well on LC to experiment with different amounts of carb. 

          Balance is what’s missing.  You have a golden opportunity to change the tone of the discussion by being genuinely supportive of the different choices we make.  Step up and embrace the fact that wide variations of carbs can be healthy for different people.  To me, then you’d be practicing what you preach: less judgment, more empathy.

        • Whatever works

          With all due respect, Jimmy, you don’t seem to follow your own rule.  You spend far more energy judging (thinly veiled and not) those who eat higher carb and not enough energy “empathizing” with them.  It would be refreshing if you would genuinely encourage those of us who are healthily and happily eating a higher carb diet to continue doing so, and those of us who don’t feel well on LC to experiment with different amounts of carb. 

          Balance is what’s missing.  You have a golden opportunity to change the tone of the discussion by being genuinely supportive of the different choices we make.  Step up and embrace the fact that wide variations of carbs can be healthy for different people.  To me, then you’d be practicing what you preach: less judgment, more empathy.

          • Anonymous

            Not sure what “rule” I’m supposedly not following. I haven’t judged anybody and anyone who reads my blog knows I’m all for people finding what works for them regardless. If you choose to eat higher carb and it makes you happy and healthy, then go for it. I’ve maintained this position from day one of starting this blog. Not sure what you are expecting from me but if you eat higher-carb then have at it. My thing is that same courtesy should be extended to those of us who choose to eat low-carb. That unfortunately isn’t happening amongst many high-carb Paleo people.

          • Anonymous

            Not sure what “rule” I’m supposedly not following. I haven’t judged anybody and anyone who reads my blog knows I’m all for people finding what works for them regardless. If you choose to eat higher carb and it makes you happy and healthy, then go for it. I’ve maintained this position from day one of starting this blog. Not sure what you are expecting from me but if you eat higher-carb then have at it. My thing is that same courtesy should be extended to those of us who choose to eat low-carb. That unfortunately isn’t happening amongst many high-carb Paleo people.

      • Ann

        They do if they’re smart.  Processed foods are NEVER good for you. 

    • Steven Hamley

      Low carb and Paleo are definitely on the same team.  Low carb is almost Paleo and Paleo is almost
      low carb by default.  Both disagree with
      the lipid hypothesis, healthy whole grains, the need to eat every 2-3 hours and
      with the recommendation to eat 300 grams of carbs.  Both are more successful than standard diets
      for weight loss and reversing metabolic (and other) diseases.


      But the fact that some people plateau, regain their weight
      and develop some minor problems suggests the diet can be improved.


      There is a subtle difference to what low carbers and Paleos
      advocate.  Low carbers advocate for
      carbohydrate restriction, where gluconeogenesis and ketones replace glucose
      this is usually 50-100g.  Many of the Paleos
      you’ve mentioned advocate low carb, but enough carbs so that glycogen is topped
      off and not much more than that.  The
      amount of carbohydrates would be roughly 130-200, or more for athletes.  I eat about 150-200g of carbs a day, I consider
      myself to be low carb at roughly 25% TC but I don’t think I am restricting
      carbs.  The 50g of carbs would be
      considered a very low carb diet.


      The picture at the top is a little misleading.  I don’t think people believe that if one goes
      low carb for a while then they will definitely become hypothyroid.  It’s more: some people may find a down regulated
      thyroid in response to being on a carb restricted diet for a while.  As other people have said it’s just an
      adaptive response, which will go away when no longer restricting carbs, I don’t
      think anyone thinks it is thyroid damage (like Hashimoto’s).  The depressed thyroid > longevity argument
      by Ron Rosedale is a distraction, who cares about living longer if you’re cold,
      tired and fat?


      My hypothesis of obesity is:

      Leaky gut + lipopolysaccharides > SOCS3 > leptin
      resistance > obesity

      Bad nutrition + oxidants > mitochondrial dysfunction >
      endoplasmic reticulum stress > PTPB1 > leptin resistance

      In this model low carb tends to get rid of the grains and
      legumes for the leaky gut and increases mitochondrial biogenesis.  But carbs or insulin don’t cause obesity.


      Currently I can think of a few small factors that may add up
      to causing a plateau on a carb restricted diet for some people:

      Depressed thyroid

      Low copper and manganese intake

      Elevated AMPK from ketosis (AMPK is a nice enzyme because it
      increases mitochondrial biogenesis but it also increases appetite and decreases
      energy expenditure)

      Poor leptin transport: glucose and insulin increase leptin



      We need a model that works, and if people are plateauing and
      experiencing hypothyroid symptoms then our model can be improved.  This was the same argument I used in my
      submission to the Australian dietary guidelines.


      The dietary guidelines
      are obviously healthier than eating a highly refined and processed diet, full
      of foods such as pizza, donuts and sugar sweetened beverages.  However, there are enough people who follow
      the dietary guidelines yet still succumb to chronic disease…  What this suggests is the dietary guidelines
      can be improved


      The camp against carb restriction is going ‘our model has
      some flaws and can be fixed by X’ the low carb camp is going ‘our model is good
      enough, let’s not confuse people’


      Instead of thinking this carb debate as arguments, think of
      it as scientific discussion.  It’s better
      to have our faults exposed by friends, so we can overcome them before we face
      our real opponents.


      For the time being we should make our advice flexible: try this,
      try that.  Experiencing hypothyroid
      symptoms? Try more carbs.  Experiencing a
      plateau?  Try carb refeeds.

      • Anonymous

        I’m all about this…find what works for you and then do it. But the problem comes into play when fear is used (you’re gonna mess up your thyroid if you eat low-carb) to prop up another plan. These are the tactics used by the vegan/low-fatties.

    • Anonymous

      I posted this as it appears on Richard Nikoley’s Free The Animal site, and said I would reproduce it here.

      “Context Matters”

      Skyler Tanner gets a huge gold star. 

      What’s most disturbing to me in all discussion on health and diet, looking both at conventional wisdom side and the low-carb/paleo war, is that most folks seem to have forgotten that context really matters. It’s easy to make sweeping statements on macronutrients, but really, for the large part, macronutrients mean nothing in the context of someone who is not insulin or leptin resistant, doesn’t have micronutrient deficiencies, or hormonal dysregulation; this much is evident from study of tribal populations.

      Unfortunately for many of us, we do have those problems, but in a certain ways, macronutrient tweaking can help reverse dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and weight setpoint issues. To me, the big issue on Taubes vs. Guyenet is that neither side seems willing to acknowledge that the careful application of context would create a pretty powerful combined working theory. That is, if someone who is perfectly healthy eats a hyperpalatable, hypercaloric diet and becomes insulin resistant, then hyperinsulinemia is a problem, and sugar or starchy carbohydrates may not be the best choice if reversal is the goal (the “Paleo 2.0 thinkers definitely understand this). And it’s also naive to think that the path back to “normalcy” is a true reversible reaction; those only exist in the lab. In other words, if excess calories from poor quality carbohydrate sources got you to a sick state, it doesn’t mean that a hypocaloric diet with good quality carbohydrates (or none) will get you back.

      What’s important to realize (in the context of weight-loss, since that is the predominate reason people change their diets) is that low-carb Paleo is a blunt tool that will get you far, but it is not a panacea, and it will not do the optimization for you. Dr. Harris, I agree with the large majority of what you write, but when you tout the merits of starches over green vegetables, for example, without acknowledging the context of a person’s micronutrient status or digestive health, your message unintentionally does a disservice. Or the Jaminet’s “safe starch” recommendation; someone who has major blood sugar regulation issues due to underlying cortisol dysregulation may end up just getting worse with even a moderate amount of starchy carbs if they don’t address the context of what’s causing the issues in the first place. It’s important to do plenty of research and work with a practitioner you trust in order to get to the root of things.

      Bottom line, my recommendation for folks is: 
      – transition to a nutrient-dense diet (call it Archevore, Paleo, Primal, whatever), which will likely be significantly lower carb than you’re used to
      – eat enough starch to fuel your exercise
      – sleep
      – get your micronutrients in line
      – get your leptin and cortisol in line
      – fix your digestion
      – make a list experiments you can run on yourself and follow the scientific method. One of those experiments should be playing with macronutrients via safe starches.

      As for the long-term effects of low-carb, again, context matters. For some, staying low-carb in perpetuity will be no problem, provided everything else I listed above is in check (think Inuits). For others, they will see degradation in thyroid status, insulin resistance, and/or coristol dysregulation (think Pima).

      I’m going to cross-post this at Jimmy’s site too, because we all need to get back to what’s really important at hand: making fun of Durian Rider and his 30 bananas.

      • Anonymous

        I agree context matter, Badier. Some of us have used up all of our healthy metabolism capital eating, drinking and being merry for far too long that we can’t even have starch anymore. If someone else can, then that’s awesome. But people like me and many of my readers cannot. We agree on more than we disagree on, so why not focus on that?

    • Jimmy – as I was reading quotes from all the sources you reached out to – it appeared to me that one GIANT piece is missing from this puzzle – and I think it deserves some kind of acknowledgement. And it may not have to be a scientifically complicated as you’re making it out to be?

      My take on this whole “debate” is that it’s coming from the HARD CORE, almost work-out OBSESSED folks from the CrossFit cult. 

      Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people passionate about whatever health or fitness related endeavor they’re on – but it is my observational opinion that long-term, hard-core, ultra intense physical activity is unsustainable from a practical and recreational perspective. Are you a PROFESSIONAL athlete? Sure – do what you have to do to earn your $25 million dollars a year. Body builder? Sure – get ripped (“take it to the MAX”) for the few years you’re in the spotlight.

      But for the CASUAL non-competitive, non-professional human being – I think overly intense “working out” ends up being unhealthy in the long run (short term “vanity” will equal longer-term suffering if you will).

      Ask anyone on the “super slow” workout system (i.e., 30 minutes of intense, yet slow lifting PER WEEK) and see how many of them are “suffering” on the low-carb lifestyle… I bet it’s next to NONE.

      If these “Paleo” cave-men went out hunting as often as the hard-core CrossFit fanatics did – maybe they wouldn’t have lasted too long either.

      Again, I’m not knocking the CrossFit program outright – but just from a gut instinct here – am starting to lean towards that “lifestyle” may not be as appropriate “for the masses” as one may suspect. Perhaps only elite athletes with good genetic disposition for higher levels of carbs can sustain a rigorous CrossFit workout schedule (much in the way that only the “elite” athletes make it to the Big Leagues).

      Just my 2 cents and armchair holistic observations. Take a look at the “control group” of who’s making the most noise… and you might find your answer – and maybe more questions and answers…


      • Great points. Our Paleolithic ancestors and even modern primitive peoples don’t do all that much activity for their meals.

        These various sites hype their activity level. In reality, most of them are moderate, certainly not as intense as CrossFit.

        Our ancestors would not have wanted to expend any more energy than was absolutely necessary for health. These CrossFit super intense sprint all the time nuts do nobody an favors. Intense exercise sustained and often just increases inflammation and ages us faster. Numerous professional athletes look like they aged very fast, especially in the face. LeBron james looks like he is 40 in the face. LOL !

        Great points.

        • Anonymous

          Excellent point about the short bursts of energy that our ancestors engaged in. That’s why I like Mark Sisson’s approach because it incorporates these principles.

      • Anonymous

        I agree that it’s worse to overdo it with exercise…but doing SOMETHING is the primary objective for most.

    • Oh, boy. What really saddens me is seeing a group of intelligent people clinging to their own beliefs to the point of insulting others/ripping their character to shreds. I see this all the time in my own profession (physical therapy). What are we fighting about? In most instances (whether diet, nutrition, exercise) you have a very small percentage of the population fighting to the death over the 5% of theory/practice they disagree about. Seriously? Is this the example we want to set for a public that is either completely apathetic or completely confused already? 

      How about if we all agree that “research is awesome and important for any profession to move forward, and many research studies are well done and the data is valid, while many more studies are not well designed and the results are not statistically significant, and there will always be a percentage of the population who will find fault with literally ANY study, and most of the industrialized world is sick and unhealthy, and would benefit from making ANY healthier changes to their diet, and endocrinology is really very complicated and each person will respond differently to everything, and what works for each person today may not work 6 months from now, and that doesn’t mean that the “gurus” are stupid or lying or out to get us but rather that we all make our best guess with the evidence that is available to us at the time and we see how it goes for us and then make our next best guess, and humans are not meant to work out hard every day of their lives, and if we could just agree that eating real food and doing moderate exercise and sleeping and decreasing stress will probably help 90% of the world then we would all be much better off.”

      Whew. I feel better now.

      Can we all agree that we are (in general) wanting to do our best to look at the research and to help ourselves/others live healthier lives? Can we agree that more research needs to be done to look at these issues? Can we agree that even if we disagree with another person’s viewpoint that we don’t need to attack each other? And while we’re at it, can everyone realize that hiding behind a computer screen and spewing out nastiness is not helping anyone? I am really so tired of all of the turf wars in healthcare/medicine/fitness. By collaborating we stand a much better chance of helping more people……the 5% we may disagree about doesn’t need to divide us so deeply.

      • Anonymous

        And science is not supposed to be about belief but rather than evidence. That’s something I try hard not to get caught up in on a daily basis.

    • I’m wondering if the drop in body temperature isn’t a result of too few carbs, but too few calories. Wouldn’t increasing saturated fat also increase body temperature? On page 79 of The Perfect health Diet, Dr. Jaminet states on the benefits of high saturated fat consumption is:

      “An increase in body temperature. High fat diets increase the levels of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins which cause fat to be burned for heat. High-fat diets, therefore, usually increase body temperature, which is likely to improve health.”

      • Anonymous

        Interesting point…perhaps.

    • I’m afraid I don’t see the antagonism. I see defensive postures for the diet that you know and love and find works for many people. The fact that some people in the paleo community feel that less low carb is fine shouldn’t bother you. Are they saying low carb doesn’t have a place and that eating low carb is bad for all?

      The low carb and paleo communities have been conflated because of large overlaps, but they aren’t the same, and they have a different focus. The ‘safe starch’ controversy is a prime example. Why does someone in the paleo community saying a starch is “safe” trigger countless metabolically challenged low carbers and diabetics to eat them and then complain when their blood sugar spikes and crashes? Why would they think safe to a paleo dieter would mean safe to someone who can’t handle carbs well? The two have little to do with one another. But somehow, some people think paleo and low carb are basically the same? Why?

      I think more education and explanation for your listeners would help. You might start and end your more paleo shows with something that explains that some of these concepts don’t apply fully to low carb dieters and explain that many paleo eaters eat that way for other health reasons that are not related to blood sugar.

      I prefer to identify with the paleo or primal people, simply because there is a focus on the foods, not the macros. However, within this healthy diet, there is plenty of room for low carb dieting.

      • Anonymous

        Oh, there’s antagonism when you say that someone eating low-carb is gonna develop thyroid problems and other health issues. It’s really no different than what the vegans say about meat-based, high-fat diets. I recognize the differences between low-carb and Paleo, but I’m at least respectful towards people who choose to eat starchy carbs or honey and the like themselves. But my hope is that those of us who don’t eat those things aren’t somehow vilified because we choose not to consume those because we can’t.

        • I guess I don’t see it as antagonistic to have a different belief. If they believe that, then they should say it, just like vegans should warn about eating meat if they believe it will harm you. You believe a high level of carbs and low levels of fats are harmful, too, but you aren’t being antagonistic to say that, are you?

          • Anonymous

            No, but I’m not saying someone else who chooses to eat differently than me is harming themselves either.

            • Even if you were, it’s not wrong to do so if you say it in a civil manner. Someone who smokes is harming themselves, for instance.

              I know you don’t say it to them meanly, but we all talk about how high sugar diets are harming people, kids, and leading to overweight, shortened, and miserable lives.

              It’s the tone of the discussion that’s key. People can say anything to me that they feel is important, as long as they are nice about it, and in the end, respect my decision (or go away). Still, even then, if they wrote on their own blog how “people who eat _____” are harming themselves, it’s just their belief, just like we believe, and say, that too much sugar, corn oil, and soy protein is harming the people who eat it.

              • Anonymous

                True and I’m a big believer in tact.

                • …and you’ve always been very tactful and respectful, even in interviews where you most likely held the opposing viewpoint. Very good.

                • Anonymous

                  Thank you!

      • Anonymous

        Roland, regarding the safe starch debate: I would say that’s been mislabeled. What underlies the concept of safe starches is something the Jaminets term a glucose deficiency, and they are indeed saying it applies across the board to everyone. Paul has even recently said that *everyone* should be eating some carbohydrate regardless of their therapeutic needs. He’s a super nice guy, and super smart, but that doesn’t enter into the bottom line reading of his protocol: He’s definitely telling everyone to eat starch. And others who are somewhat less polite and well-spoken have followed suit, advising everyone with any problem at all to “add more carbs.”

        • Anonymous

          And that’s a dangerous message for some of us to follow.

    • Kelly Mahoney

      With one simple tweak to your site/diet and you will be on the same page as the paleo bloggers that you mentioned:

      “Livin La Vida Low Refined Carb” (LLVLRC)

      I think the aforementioned paleo bloggers have come to value the unrefined carbs from whole, plant foods like fruits and veggies for the benefits of weight loss, health and wellness.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a bit too simplistic because some of us can’t even have the unrefined carbs in high quantities without consequences to our health. It’s the price we pay for poor nutritional habits before finding low-carb living.

        • Kelly Mahoney

          Jimmy, what were the results when you experimented with eating mostly fruits and vegetables while restricting (not eliminating) meat and dairy and eliminating refined carbs? How long did you eat that way and how much weight did you gain? Kelly

          • Anonymous

            I’m not a Joel Fuhrman follower.

            • Kelly Mahoney

              you lost me there. I’ll have to google it.

              • Kelly Mahoney

                I’m back from google. Regarding your Fuhrman comment, I think you are implying that I follow a certain type of diet guru. I don’t. But I am insulted. I don’t believe in following any guru, be it Loren Cordain or T. Colin Campbell. I do believe in studying as much information as I can tolerate and making my own decisions based on my own experiences. All you had to say is that you have tried eating lots of fruits and vegetables and gained weight. Who am I to judge your experiences?

                • Anonymous

                  Just saying what you described is very Fuhrman-esque. No need to get upset. I’ve found what works for me and you have too. It’s just one big happy family. 😀

                • Kelly Mahoney

                  Peace Brother

                • Anonymous

                  Always. I enjoy the conversations. Thanks for sharing today. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Keep doing well on your healthy low-carb lifestyle!

    • Anonymous

      Disengaging from online activities is not necessarily the answer. We have a very loving community at my forum and I invite you to join us Penny!

    • Anonymous

      There are a lot of possibilities that go beyond eating low-carb.

    • Anonymous

      My pleasure! This needed to be addressed.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. Cate is amazing!

    • Anonymous

      That’s marketing…but we know these things take time.

    • Anonymous

      People like to form camps and defend their side to the death. Why not acknowledge there are various ways to get to optimal health?

    • Anonymous

      HA! Seems that way sometimes. I can’t eat that way either but I’d never expect someone else to eat under 50g carbs daily like I do if they don’t need to. There is room for individual variation here. Acknowledging that is all I’m asking for.

    • Anonymous

      Suzan, I’m sorry to hear you’re not active in the community because we need voices like yours. Focusing on the key information is what I try to do and let the other chatter just run around in circles where it’s discussed. There are too many people who need to hear this message that I refuse to be deterred.

    • Anonymous

      But there’s gotta me more to it than that…LOL!

    • Anonymous

      Lisa, it was getting frustrating reading all that stuff with no response. This needed to be done.

    • Anonymous

      Cordain is changing, Ellabella! I like Paleo because of the emphasis on real quality foods. And I don’t think it is a “fad” like the ear stapling diet. It has been around as has low-carb for a very long time and will be for many years to come. Supporters of both should embrace each other to become stronger.

    • Anonymous

      Paul, the best thing you can do is try something to see how it works for you. If it doesn’t work, then default back to what you were doing before.

    • Anonymous

      Nan, the various “sides” of the fence is not that interesting to me. Find what works for YOU and do it no matter what someone else says is “right” for you.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, it exists but I wonder if people drawn to low-carb are already damaged to the point that it manifests itself during low-carb. Doesn’t mean low-carb caused it necessarily. Younger fit people can certainly handle more starchy carbs…but not us older peeps.

    • Anonymous

      April, there are some voices of reason in this and I respect Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson too. They are the real world changers and we need a lot more like ’em.

    • Anonymous

      Fat plus carbs is not a good healthy combo.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t know what the motivations are and can’t speak to that. But what I do know is in his new book The Paleo Answer there is greater clarity on the subject.

    • Andre Chimene

      Jimmy, thanks for putting yourself in the crows nest and the line of fire. As an ol prediabetic to Type 2 to Type 1 to…Type Whatever…I had my metabolism sunk with the sugar/starch roman orgy, complete with the vomitorium. The only way back to health for me was a high fat/moderate protein/very low carb diet. Its a free country and folks can eat whatever their body tells them to. My body told me to eat sugar and cake and starch and candy. That’s why I never listen to my body anymore. He’s an idiot. He got me into this mess. I also don’t care for the Kitavans or the Inuits or the Pygmes. No idigenous peoples are on the internet and or need our advice. We who are here, are not them. We are here because we are already broken and need to be made whole again. Eating like the never unbroken and pretending their example will fix us is as dumb as listening to my body. My body is an igmo. I used to hate math but I can’t argue with it. I shoot insulin every day, so I know that my insulin intake is less than what “normal” people produce. Check 1 for longevity. Because I check my blood sugar 6x per day, I know my numbers are less than normal round the clock. Check 2 for longevity. I suggest if you think you are tolerating starches you “look at your numbers”. If there were an in home leptin/MTor checker I would be able to Check 3. Sorry for the rant but I am still pissed that Jack LaLanne died bout the same age as Julia Childs. She had a high fat ball! Jack juiced and ate low fat…he shoulda smoked his veggies the way that George Burns did.

      • Anonymous

        My body’s an idiot too! Glad I discovered the smart side of things before it was too late!

    • Anonymous

      Tee-totally agree. And I think Dr. Atkins would be saying the same things if he were around today. He’d find the Paleo movement hysterical and encouraging.

    • Richard Nikoley


      You’re always open for controversy, even promote it, and this is the root of the love we all have for you. Honesty.

      I drop this link with a bit of trepidation, so let’s just chalk it up to a bit of a preview for your most loyal readers in advance of our lively conversation on Friday, airing I think early next week.

      It’s basically about LC vs. Food Reward, Taubes vs. Guyenet.


      Richard “Free the Animal” Nikoley

      • Anonymous

        Friday will be fun. Airs on Tuesday next week.

    • Anonymous

      That should be highlighted more.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t allow that kind of nonsense at my forum.

    • Anonymous

      There are great ways to spend time out if the blogosphere.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. Judy Tsafrir is a great resource on GAPS:

    • Anonymous

      That’s shortsighted Andy. People who have eaten excess sugar/grains have damaged themselves unlike our ancestors had to experience. Thus, carbs come into the equation.

    • Anonymous

      I consume sea salt exclusively. I’ve interviewed Dr. Jorge Fletchas about iodine:

      150g carbs would be way to high for me.

    • Anonymous

      How cool Loretta!

    • Anonymous

      I wrote to Paul and asked if I had misrepresented his position in my above comment, and it seems I may have overstated it slightly. There are some very rare cases, he said, when zero-carb might be best, but in general not. Here’s a direct quote from the correspondence: “[…]
      my position is that the body is going to consume glucose in large quantities whether you eat it or not. In general, it’s best to eat some carbs to reduce the stress on the body from manufacturing it, to avert the risk of deficiency in things it’s manufactured from such as protein, to avoid adaptations which may develop to conserve glucose or protein, and to promote balanced immunity and a “terroir” that is resistant to infections. However, in diseased conditions all kinds of things can happen. Carbs do feed bacteria and people with gut dysbiosis are often intolerant of them; in diabetes, as I’ve written, one usually benefits by shifting from carb to protein. In such conditions compromises may have to be made. I don’t assert that absolutely everyone should be eating carbs, but I think the conditions where zero-carb is optimal are exceedingly rare, and in general I think it is usually possible to heal the pathologies, which would shift the optimum toward carb consumption. I don’t think anyone should be saying, well, zero-carb has ameliorated my health condition, so I should stop here and eat this way the rest of my life. Rather, they should think about how to continue fixing things so that they become carb-tolerant.”

      • Anonymous

        THANK YOU!

    • marilynb

      I totally agree with what Adam Kosloff had to say.   The real issue is needing to eat healthIER so we’re not a bunch of fat, sickly blimps.  I’m not striving for perfection, just to do better.  I don’t eat “perfectly”.  I drink coffee and diet sodas, I enjoy Atkins bars and sugar free candy for treats, I eat dairy and I don’t care about the nitrates in my bacon!  But I’m eating a 1000% better and healthier than I did two years ago, have lost over 80 lbs. and have found that low carb eating is a way of eating I can continue even after I get to my goal weight.  It’s not a “diet” that I’ll be ending and going back to my previous way of eating.  I’m just not gong to stress over trying to eat the “perfect diet”, because stress isn’t healthy, either.

      • Anonymous

        Sadly, unless you “look” like you’re healthy (i.e. thin), then many people will never really take what you have to say about health seriously.

    • Anonymous

      Doug, I agree you cannot build a community with people who choose to be off doing their own thing. But I think most of the Paleo community is open to hearing new ideas and dealing with it on an individual basis as it pertains to them. As it should be.

      • Doug

         Yes, I agree. I was more talking about a specific subset in the paleo community, not paleo bloggers in general. Sorry, should have been more specific.

        • Anonymous

          It’s cool. And I agree.

    • Tom Trouwborst

      I have been pretty consistently low carb for about 2 years now and pretty close to Paleo for the last six months to a year (no wheat but still eat diary).  Lost 35-40 lbs.  However, I am now arguably hypothryoid with TSH in the 6 to 7 range (was not this high previously), some additional skin issues and low body temperature (97.7 this morning).  I also have a blood pressure issue which minimally was not as acute before going low carb.  Anecdotal, I know.  But the topic does peak my interest.
      Tom T

      • Anonymous

        I wonder if you were already heading for thyroid issues before Paleo…I dunno.

    • Sschriver

      I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all diet. You can’t decide that because something did or didn’t work for you, it must mean it does/doesn’t work for everyone.

      Save a few years of experimenting and yo-yoing with a gene test. There is a gene that, depending on which version you have, will tell you if your body works best on low carb/higher fat, or high carb/low fat. Mine happens to be the low carb one.

      There is also a gene that tells you, depending on which version you have, what type of unsaturated fat you get the most energy from. Mine happens to be monounsaturated.
      I used to worry about getting the correct omega 9:6:3 ratios correct, but now I wonder who’s ratios are those? Because maybe they aren’t mine.

      • Anonymous

        Correct. I’ve taken that test myself. Don’t know about the veracity of it though.

      • Steven Hamley

        If we’re dealing with 18 carbon long fats I think everyone should get slightly more energy from saturated > mono > poly, in that order because the body has to hydrogenate the double bonds.  It seems logical

    • Sschriver

      It could be other things affecting your thyroid, not just diet. Other hormone levels, your adrenals, and even dopamine levels are linked to thyroid problems.

      • Anonymous


    • Guest

      I will like to thank you for writing this post. I’ve been tracking the paleo community blogs for some time and noticed with worry what I would describe as useless hairsplitting debates that don’t help the problem of obesity and health catastrophe that we see nowadays. Just an example that I found yesterday in one blog:

      [quote]In Nora’s presentation she cites a paper that she says shows that a
      wide-ranging sample of paleolithic coprolites shows that they weren’t
      eating any plants. What?

      So I tracked down this paper. Turns out
      it’s not a paper, it’s an article in a magazine, though I admit that
      Scientific American is definitely a quality magazine.

      So your homework assignment for the night is to read the “paper” and figure out where it says any of what Nora says at all.


      it doesn’t say any of those things at all. Nope, none. Hilariously, a
      lot of the article is in fact devoted to the Pecos basin
      hunter-gatherers I’ve written about, but they didn’t live in the
      Paleolithic and they ate a massive amount of various plants.

      Bonus point: find ANY paper that supports what Nora says.”[ end quote]

      The paper, which is from 1974, sums up the science of coprolites so to
      speak. So I went and had a look at the listings of publications of coprolites from
      the authors and others who referenced them. It seems to
      me that our blogger is splitting hairs.

      The Scientific American article does say that,

      [quote]”He did not find plant materials of any specimens […] So far we have found no bone and plant remains […]”[end quote]

      refers to poo analysis from specific regions and from 300,000 to
      50,000/70,000 years old which is the point that Nora was making in her
      book. Other publications point to the discovery of millet traces, but
      from 12,000 years ago which are much newer.

      Yeah, it can be argued that Nora should have given a reference to a
      study that
      is all about human poo from 300,000 or 70,000 years ago which
      argues of the non-existence of plant material residues. Other very old
      samples had pollen on them, suggesting that they might have eaten
      flowers. That is hardly a rich carb diet… It seems to me that is
      simply nitpicking if you see the whole picture of what they found:

      analysis has identified grains of sand, which are almost inevitably
      ingested at the seashore, flecks of charcoal, which indicate the use of
      fire in the preparation of food, and fragments of mollusk shell, which
      point to one food resource that may have been exploited by the

      A very low carb diet gives amazing results. After some troubleshooting and adjusting,
      the results are impressive. People whose health is in really bad shape would benefit with a transitioning period of moderate amounts of carbs (eliminating “toxic carbs” like gluten) for 2-6 months before they go into a very low carb diet. Some just need more help and advice to ease ketosis transition. But others simply don’t want to let go a diet richer in carbs.

      I personally restrict carbs to a minimum and eat moderate amounts of protein. My main fuel source comes from healthy fats, chunks of it. I never go hungry and never been so healthy in my life.

      • Anonymous

        This needs to be discussed, so thank you for your contribution!

      • I agree.  Fear of fat. That’s what I think it is.  People are really afraid of fat!  You need fat to make hormones, you need it to make cell walls that are able to allow good communication between cells.  Fat is one of the most important parts of your diet and a lot of these low-carbers are just simply afraid of raising the fat level!   And that’s why they fail and then blame it on the diet that they weren’t really following anyway!

        When I started changing my diet, it was a desperation maneuver after surgery to rebuild a frozen shoulder because my body was so eaten up with rheumatoid arthritis.  I hadn’t had a pain free day for 40 years.  I was a mess.  I started detoxing, did veggies, worked my way through a lot of material, and ended up Paleo.  (Through all this detoxing I was taking a fortune in supplements!)  And then, by experimenting (myself and my extended family – 11 people in total – who all agreed to do the experiment strictly) discovered that the real key to success is MORE FAT.  In fact, when I hit a weight plateau, I just reduced my protein intake slightly, increased fat, and dropped a couple kilos almost instantly.  Now it is moving again, though slowly.

        I eat pork patties with a thick slab of butter on them for breakfast with a side of bacon.  I eat pork chops that I buy from a guy who raises his pigs on grass and acorns and he leave about three inches of fat on them.  I usually eat the chop about 2 in the afternoon.  Then, I MIGHT have a small bit of bacon, fish, scallops, shrimp, something small and light with a chunk of butter, for an early dinner and I’m done for the day.  I do take extra omega 3s (like about 3 to 6 grams per day) since I don’t care much for fish.  But that’s it!

        Do NOT be afraid of fat!!! I can’t say this often or loud enough!  If you read paleo-archaeology studies, again and again you see that our ancestors were eating brains and breaking open bones.  What is in there?  A LOT of fat!

        August 1st, 2007 was when I started.  I was out of pain in about 10 days, and the only times I’ve ever had a relapse since then was due to carbs.  Nothing else, just carbs – of ANY KIND!   I’m 60 years old and my hair, literally, has started turning back to my youthful color and the gray is diminishing!  I feel like a 25 yr old.  I won’t go on about the other family members who have experienced amazing turn-arounds in their health because that would take too long, just suffice it to say that not a single one of us would EVER go back to eating the old way.  We  never feel cravings, no gas or bloating, recovery from IBS and pre-Lupus type symptoms, eliminated allergies, moodiness, circles under the eyes gone, skin improvements, eat all you want and never gain weight… and so on.  And we all pile on the fat.  Butter on everything.  Extra fat on the cuts of meat.  We eat deep fat fried pork fat for snacks fer gawd’s sake! 

        So, yeah, it’s the fat.  These people still have cravings because they aren’t giving their bodies the fat that the body wants and needs and they are using this as an excuse to eat more carbs.  There is NO craving for carbs if you are getting enough fat.  I’ve experimented and others have tried it, and it works.  EAT MORE FAT!!!!

        • Anonymous

          True dat!

        • I’ll second that!

          I’ve been on the paleo/low carb/high fat diet for nearly a year now and every time things went wrong (tiredness/weight loss, being way to skinny already/cravings for carbs/low mood/low energy/not sleeping right etc etc) it was lack of fat. Just as importantly, it was also lack of being able to handle/digest the amount of fat required. So even when I was eating enough fat, my body wasn’t getting enough fat!
          some time to get the digestive supplements right and tie it in with eating
          enough fat.

          Interestingly, disgust of fat seems to be linked (at least for me) to not being able to digest it. I can tell my digestion needs a boost when I feel disgusted at the thought of eating fat. My digestion stops handling fat if I go over about 25g of carbs (or eat something my guts don’t like, like too much fibre) in a meal too…..I can tell because the cravings/tiredness etc etc comes back and hour or too later.
          Primal Body Primal Mind has an excellent chapter on digestion (especially important as I was also getting immune reactions to the food sitting in my stomach too long and fermenting due to lack of stomach acids).

          So EAT MORE FAT!!!! (And make sure you’re digesting it!)

          • Anonymous

            Love my fat. 😀

        • Gingerschneider

          Bravo!!  I agree totally.

    • Tlbunnell

       Heroin addictions will always pull you back into using heroin again. — Sugar and carbohydrate addictions act the same way.

      You are majorly, addicted.

       Everybody is.

      Planet earth.

      All of these sugars and carbohydrates are powerful stimulant drugs in the quantities we consume daily.

      An orange has alcohol in it but you would have to eat a bushel full in order to feel the effects of the alcohol.

      That’s what we have done with sugars and starches and all of the other sugars we consume every day, and almost every hour of every day.

      Equivalent to eating bushel’s full because of all the hybridizing concentrations, and the farming and global availability with transportation and marketing and the feeding of our addictions, not to mention processing and the distribution of these carbohydrates.

      We subtract for fiber and counts and consider 40-50 and even up to 100 grams daily as minimal.

      Yes, it’s minimal compared to thousands.

      We are slaves to our addictions.

      How many puffs of a cigarette can one puff daily without feeding the addiction.

      Addictions will depress you, and they will trick you, and even alter your lab results, getting you to use again.

      Your mind will follow aimlessly and relentlessly down this “return to the substance use trail” without ever once knowing it until you start using again, or at least increase your usage.

      At least a little but preferably a lot.

      Every single one of us became addicted to all of these massive does of all of these sugars and carbohydrates even before we were weaned at about two years of age.

      Every single one of us, addicted since shortly after birth by our mothers.

      They too addicted, but never once knowing it.

      Of course the bulk of our population, something like 99%, never acknowledge these addictions or make any attempt to break them.

      They do not believe, we are neither stimulated nor addicted.

      Our minds and bodies being profoundly effected by these drugs, as is our earth.

      Stimulated drug addicts, never once knowing it..

      Tom Bunnell

      • Anonymous

        Welcome back Tom!

    • Interestingly, I believe I remember Dr. Joel Fuhrman making similar comments to Dr. Rosedale with regard to slower metabolism, lower body temp, etc., being a preferable state for longevity and touting that his Eat To Live diet (almost entirely if not entirely vegan) achieves this state. Notably, his diet is also very low in starch.

    • It looks like I’m late to the party, but this is my take:

      After the Taubes/Guyenet dust-up at AHS 2011, Stephan said, essentially, that up until that time he had been “playing nice”, but now he was going to show that the insulin theory of obesity was wrong and that, by implication, carbs weren’t the source of the problem. At that point, a lot of people picked sides, with most of the Paleo folks siding with Stephan because his food reward theory seemed more Paleo-friendly. So I think personalities played a role.

      Also, I think marketing played a part. People started thinking more about how Paleo diets were going to be presented to the public. People are looking for a way for Paleo diets to stand on their own (“differentiation”, in marketing terms) and claiming they were not low-carb, at least in theory, is a way to do that.

      Finally, I think it was in-part generational. Most of the well-known low-carb proponents are getting a little long in the tooth and, basically, the Paleo kids didn’t want to do what the low-carb old timers were doing.

      • Anonymous

        That’s too bad. United we are far stronger.

    • tam

      I can sum this up in one line:  the low carb flu sucks!

      • Anonymous

        Ha! True.

    • Anonymous

      Preach it!

    • Anonymous

      Congrats on your health improvement Gena!

    • Steven Hamley

      Loren Cordain was likely trying to make a distinction in his first book to open up the market and being a little defensive of the Paleo concept (he probably predicted people who say ‘Paleo is just another Atkins’, which has happened).  Personally I found his talk of Paleo being different from ‘low carb fad diets’ to be awkward.  Now that the Paleo and low carb communities have come closer and he doesn’t be to be defensive about the Paleo concept he has embraced that relationship.

      • Anonymous

        You’re right.

    • Steven Hamley

      Mark Sisson’s 21 day transformation was simply to set people on the right track.  The transformation is ‘sugar burner’ to ‘fat burner’

    • Gordon

      Dude, we have different goals. You want to save the world. I want to be as healthy as possible. Is it any wonder that we think differently? I’ve always been skinny and very active. 40g per day of carbs just doesn’t work for me. 150 does. So what? VLC does work for some. I’m thrilled that it does. Live and let live. This isn’t a religion, you know.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve never claimed anyone should be eating 40g carbs daily. What I say is find hat works for you. The problem is the judgment that comes when someone claims low-carb will damage your health when the opposite is true. I don’t need my diet to be my religion but I do expect respect for my nutritional choices just as I do for others.

    • Glen

      I think the issue might be fat as well.  I eat quite alot of butter, cream,sour cream, full fat yogurt and cheese as part of my low carb lifestyle.  If I was strictly paleo with no dairy I think it would be hard to get enough fat.  

      • Anonymous

        Unless you consumed a lot of coconut and animal-based fats.

    • tam

      Low carb flu = inflammation?  Search for ‘low carb flu’/Julianna’s comment and the link to Barry Sear’s post about taking salmon on a diet.  http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4283

    • cwaiand

      can someone/anyone explain what a :busted metabolism”is.i see that phrase thrown around all the time.it doesn,t exist,at least not from what i,ve seen.your metabolism can be out of wack because your OBESE.LOSE WEIGHT METABOLISM RETURNS TO NORMAL,IT IS NOT PERMANENTLY ALTERTED.too many over weight people saying”my metabolism broke so then i got fat”.it,s the other way around,you got fat and then your metabolism and blood markers went to hell.i,ve lost weight on low carb ,high carb,twinkies,you name it .it all works if you reduce your calorie intake.ELMM is the only scientifically proven method that ALWAYS WORKS.it makes no difference what the macro of carb to fat is if you reduce calories.

      seriously people this has all been studied already.too many over weight people looking for a way out so they don,t have to admit it really is glutony and sloth.unless underlined by a TRUE metabolic derangmint obese peolpe over eat and under move.


      • Anonymous

        Wow, this should produce an interesting response.

      • Diane

         If you were to write a coherent sentence, I might give some thought to your opinion.


        • Anonymous


        • Anonymous


      • Diane

         If you were to write a coherent sentence, I might give some thought to your opinion.


    • Marilyn

      Thank you for this, Jimmy!   I think there is a lot of old-generation – new-generation stuff going on here, rather than genuine low-carb vs. paleo.  As organized approaches to nutrition, both low-carb and paleo have been around for decades.  The difference is that in spite of many variations on the theme, low-carb has a core that is pretty well-defined.  Paleo has a basic core, too — eat only what our ancestors ate — but it is open to much wider interpretations.  That makes low-carb easy to attack, and paleo easy to join, regardless of the nature of your latest nutritional revelation.

      I really appreciate your bringing in some of the people who have studied and lived with low-carb for many years.  I find their wisdom inspiring. 

      • Anonymous

        It needed to be said.

    • Nina

      Jimmy Thank you for your continued hard work in spreading information and common sense through your blogs and podcasts.

      I wonder if this ‘war’ is a North American thang?  In the UK I hear both low carb and cave man terminology used, but more commonly a focus on a diet for better health.  

      I really appreciated Richard Nikoley’s take on this.  As he sensibly commented, people live in all sorts of climates and terrains, where available food sources may vary.  This will have an impact on diet.  

      I found some of your early (huntin’, shootin’ ‘n fishin’) interviewees irritating.  Our ancestors didn’t have guns.  They had some fierce competition for their favourite meat sources and faced dangers to health and well being from weather/accidents/lack of modern healthcare etc.  I imagine they were resourceful enough to eat anything that kept them full, including leaves, berries and roots, where they were available.  The idea that a buffalo steak was easily available every day, seems bonkers to me.

      As for side effects of low carb, I’m missing definitive evidence for cause-effect relationship, as well as evidence that the definition is clear and shared, as well as the diet.  Looking at what Kent Altena cooks up, as well as Dr Davis’ recipes make me realises how much sweetener Americans use, even if it’s in the form of Stevia & Splenda. So my low carb diet is very different from theirs, even though I respect and learn from both of them.


      • Anonymous

        Respect would go a long way here.

    • pam

      “safe” as in benign, “not harmful”

      (i do understand both sides have different concern)

      I just wonder if it’s called “clean starch”, then there’d be less controversial.


    • Interesting discussion, Jimmy.  I just wanted to chime in that I’ve been low carbing for 5 years and had lost 50 pounds until a few months ago when I started mysteriously gaining without much change to my diet.  I realized that my bbt was low and having a few other symptoms of low or suppressed thyroid (who cares…it wasn’t working), I started taking a supplement called Thyroid Health that has among other things dessicated thyroid and iodine.  I’ve lost 9 pounds with little change in diet.  Oh and my bbt is up too. 

      I’ll say it again.  Suppressed or low in reality makes little difference, well I’m glad I don’t actually have thyoid disease, but this is working.  BTW yes I’ve been tested and the doc tells me I don’t have low thyroid. 

      • Anonymous

        Awesome to hear that the dessicated thyroid has helped you.

    • Dan

      Jimmy, listen.  I’m not going to lie, this post troubles me a bit.  

      You say that none of this is proven, that there is both a lack of research and that what little research there is doesn’t show much anyway.  You say that, rather than taking a risk, why not walk along a path that is proven to work.  You say that you don’t need to experiment with other diets because you know that yours works perfectly the way it is.

      This troubles me because it’s so dogmatic.  You’re clinging to this view and are boxing yourself in from anything that says otherwise.  Isn’t this the very thing we low-carbers are trying to fight against?  We make scathing remarks about the low-fat way of life, but when the tables are turned and we see something that shows the flaws of our way of life, we plug our ears instead of seriously considering it.

      Now, people are reporting great results by working carbohydrates back into their diets, and it seems to me that you’re too afraid to take that step, clinging to any article or study your can scrounge up despite what the people actually doing it are saying.  You took what you believed to be a risk when you first started doing Atkins and it worked great for you.  Don’t you think it’s time to take another risk?

      • Anonymous

        I appreciate your concerns, Dan, but none of what you think I said is accurate. You know that I’m the first to encourage others to find what works for them and do it. But the problem comes into play when people make these claims about low-carb that aren’t grounded on truth…just speculation. That’s what this post was about.

    • tam

      Their diet could have been too alkaline too.

    • Lydia – Divine Health

      Well Done Jimmy!

      When blood sugar is one of the most tightly regulated systems in the body, I wonder why we don’t focus more on that issue – too many carbs = spikes in insulin, potentially leading to metabolic syndrome. Wait, most of us already have or had metabolic syndrome, leading to a hell of a lot of problems! Anyway, I am glad you wrote this – sharing! 

    • I have eaten primal/archevore for a very long time and reap a ton of health benefits, including almost total reversal of all my post lyme syndrome symptoms. My sister on the other hand, who follows a VLC diet in order to handle her weight is now, even when skinny, pre-diabetic, insulin resistant, has peripheral neuropathy, incontinence, systemic yeast infections and fibromyalgia. She has been on a VLC diet for about 10 years, changing nothing in her eating habits during that time or her lifestyle. It pains me to see her consistently unhealthy and wish there was some way to find out if adding in a few safe starches would alleviate her suffering. I believe in eliminating NAD’s certainly and have been PUFA and GLUTEN FREE for a long time, but eating a small bit of rice/potato definitely helps me to feel better. I think there is room for Low carb, paleo and “primal” in this world which all eliminate JUNK…lo carb is NOT a primal eating style even if it is in alignment with many of the principles. I also think it is imperative to stress that LONG TERM use of a program means years…not months and over years, using my sister’s declining health as an indicator, I do not believe that VLC is sustainable. 

      • Anonymous

        I appreciate your perspective and know where you are coming from. The only thing I can add to what you have said is that low-carbers should always strive to improve the quality of the food they are consuming. That’s what the Paleo/primal movement has done and I’m very grateful for. Still not totally convinced “safe starches” are good for some of us, but I’m willing to keep learning.

    • Johnny Lawrence

      I had the same problems as Ann Marie. I was in a low carb prison. There’s nothing wrong with eating grains and dairy. People have been doing it for 10,000 years (according to Paleo gurus). No one since Paleo man has been healthy? Hogwash. Fix your metabolism and eat whatever you want.

      • Anonymous

        I wouldn’t describe low-carb as a “prison” but if what you’re doing works to make you healthy then go for it.

    • Wow, congrats on generating such an impressive number of comments! This is obviously a hot topic. Forgive me if someone already addressed this, but it seems to me part of the problem might be social. I live in the deep south and people here identify with their “clan” based on which church they attend. They are very loyal to their membership, and they don’t just worship together, they socialize in every conceivable way. Some rarely interact with people outside their church, and they are very happy people. It works for them. The low-carb community chats online, and maybe we tend to gravitate toward like-minded folks when we make the occasional dinner plan, but we don’t have other non-diet, social events binding us tightly together on a daily basis. Fanatically together. We don’t focus on competition or ego. I’ve never heard any low-carb person described as “hard core!” I am not inside the paleo clan, but it looks to me like their diet is part of a more comprehensive “religion.” I pick up a superiority complex from them that I don’t notice in the low-carb crowd. If they choose a particular belief, they may defend it regardless of the facts. If that’s the case, I find myself hoping that one of your commenters is right, that paleo is a fad that will run its course.

      • Marilyn

        Anne, after some of the reading I did this morning, I’d say you’re right about “paleo” being a religion for some folks.  When I read comments like:  “. . . our obligation to go out in the world and work transformational change by converting others to Paleo. . .” or I read about people trying to convert Jimmy Moore — who has had such stellar success following a low-carb diet — to eating some rice, I think good grief!

    • Christina Beymer

      I don’t think that there’s a one size fits all diet of any kind, some people need more carbs than others, some need more fat. I can’t go too low on carbs or I become quite grumpy and lethargic. I can get away with keeping carbs at 4-7 per meal – 5 small meals a day: 7 x 5 = 40 g, but generally about mid day I eat some fruit, even a banana and I still lose weight and I’m not a jerk anymore. 

      • LLVLCBlog

        Can’t disagree with that Christina. But unfortunately some people think anyone who chooses to eat low-carb is somehow damaging themselves–and that’s just silly!

        • Christina Beymer

          Yeah, but my math is waaaay off ;-). No they are not endangering themselves. Our PharmD says that you can tell if something is working or not working based on how you feel. There’s too much fear based advice these days.

          • LLVLCBlog

            AMEN to that!