Large study of low-carb eating finds weight-loss, muscle-gain, better cholesterol


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Man, I can do a low-carb diet forever - except for the fact that I can’t give up beer!


Have you tried working in a weekly cheat day? If it works for you, you don’t have to completely give up the loverly beer.


First response: Yep.

Second: Moderately surprised to see anything coming out of the NIH that doesn’t toe the low-fat party line.

Edited to add: Note that a low-carb diet doesn’t necessarily mean high-protein. You’ll generally want to get most of your calories from fats (saturated, if possible).

This fits with my experience. I did Atkins for a year, with very good results.

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The problem with a protein and fat heavy diet is that of economies of scale.

Carb laden foods like grains and cereals are staples because they are calorically efficient - both in terms of carbohydrates themselves compared to protein and lipids, and in terms of food production. It’s a lot easier to feed huge numbers of people on wheat, corn, and rice than it would be to feed them on meat and other animal products. (Yes, there are protein and fat rich plants, but not a lot of people eat nothing but things like peanuts and coconut oil.)

In a world of 7.2 billion people, with little sign of our growth slowing by any meaningful amount any time soon, and with most arable land already being farmed, the vast majority of people rely on high-carb diets to survive. But this is hardly news - humanity has relied on carbohydrates for the bulk of our caloric intake since agriculture itself was developed.

The low-carb diet fad can only exist in places of excess, where a small portion of the society can afford to subsist on mostly meat while the rest eat chiefly grains. It’s a luxury lifestyle that is unsustainable on anything resembling a large scale. It might have some marked health benefits, and indeed our evolutionary history may favor it - but we no longer exist as small bands of hunters in a world rich with game.


Coconut oil. 30g of protein per meal (variable depending on the individual). Not too difficult. Part of the reason grains are so cheap and plentiful is because that’s what the modern agricultural industry has been geared towards (and receives subsidies for).

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Places of excess are the only ones where obesity epidemics occur and weight-loss diets are necessary, though.


How about the growing of coconuts to make the oil from? How difficult is that?

The issue isn’t modern agriculture - the issue is largely biology. Coconuts simply don’t grow in the same places as wheat, rice, and corn. They also don’t produce nearly as big a yield for a given area of land. They also require far more labor and processing.

There are a lot of practical factors that go into these things. It’s not just “which food has more protein per serving”, it’s also the whole logistical situation in terms of being able to produce the food in question, ship it around the world, and ultimately make use of it.

And then there are the cultural aspects like cuisine and tastes - who wants to eat coconut oil every single day, unless they eat a lot of Thai cuisine or the like? But grains? People gladly eat grains, in part because they’re versatile and can be made into many different things, but also in part because we’re used to eatting them culturally.

I bet you could survive on a pint of coconut oil and a few fistfuls of soy a day if you had to, probably with great health benefits, but who is going to be able stomache that sort of thing? There’s more to food than just nutrition - it also has to be appetizing. People have to want to eat it. Sawgrass smoothies might be great for you, but if they taste like lawnmower clippings, people aren’t going to drink 'em.

“The developing world’s new burden: obesity
It is a bitter irony that as developing countries continue their efforts to reduce hunger, some are also facing the opposing problem of obesity. Obesity carries a higher incidence of chronic illness including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And while some of the poor are becoming plumper, they are not necessarily better fed. Obesity often masks underlying deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.”

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I did low-carbing for years with great success, but it can get boring - and expensive if you try to make it less boring by eating out a lot. Learning to cook a variety of foods at home helps.

I agree that producing a lot of meat is resource-intensive. If you are dedicated low-carbing can be done as an ovo-lacto vegetarian. Most fresh fruit has a lowish glycemic index if eaten raw and whole.

In areas where coconuts don’t grow, swallows could bring them.


They can grip it by the husk.

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I’m glad you’re not suggesting that coconuts migrate.

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Just a day?! Damn, this is gonna be harder than I thought.


Protein requirements on a low carb diet are exactly the same as protein requirements on a high carb one.

You don’t replace carbs with protein… You replace carbs with fat.

The magic of low carb diets are largely in its effect on insulin/glucagon ratios, and in turn ins effects on our ability to metabolize fat… To the point that it becomes the substrate of all our energy needs, rather than carbs.

Its cool, cool stuff.

And yes its sustainable… Fat is cheap, plentiful, shelf stable, and energy dense. Lupins are the highest protein containing legume. They also nitrogenate soil, and grow like weeds.

We could have another green revolution, feed the world, end hunger, and our agricultural dependency on petroleum, eradicate type 2 diabetes, most heart disease, etc… We could cut medical costs by a third in the US, reduce obesity, keep our aging population fitter longer, and all kinds of good stuff if this type of eating is widely adopted and becomes the norm.


I’d also argue that, at least at this time, it’s only a diet for people like me–people who have a problem with cholesterol and so on.

Of all the things I’ve tried in the past, South Beach was the one that was the most successful–but as you point out, it’s not a diet for poor people (which is why I’m not on the diet anymore.)

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The original Green Revolution was technological, not cultural. You aren’t going to get people to give up their staple foods and replace them with lupins and other legumes very easily.

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I’m looking at it from a technological perspective, not a cultural one.

There are many plant species that grow in other areas, which need their own green revolution. There are perinneal crops, with far better yields than annuals. Food could be grown in ways other than monocrops, for bulk harvest.

Our food systems are industrialized, centralized, and outdated. They are petroleum based and expensive as heck, and geared to produce garbage food for mass distribution that is killing us… We add sugar, salt, and fat to foods to make it palatable, but the food itself is refined carbs for shelf stability and consistency. The price of growing and harvesting food is a fraction of the sale price. Less than 20%. The rest is moving it, packaging it, advertising it, and retailing it.

Eating well for most people is simply not economically feasible.

Do you think people will care if their twinkies are made with lupin flour and fat and erythritol, rather than wheat, and fat, and sugar? I don’t think so.


You can. Hard liquor is totally low carb friendly.