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Carb-free, anyone?

Cant believe the sheer satisfaction after a rich meal of excellent, full-fat meat, buttered vegetables, roquefort cheese, lovely cream sauces...

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    1. re: sal_acid

      Yes. Have added potatoes back in, since the holidays. No bad effects.

      1. re: poser

        Been carb free almost 11 months. Drool over thoughts of good meat, fish.... Do NOT miss sweets, bread, pasta. But do miss potatoes so Ive added them back. With butter:-) Was 180, now 142.

        1. re: tractionpads

          Well, that deserves a hearty congratulations. Losing the weight is a lot easier than keeping it off. Keep it up! or, I should say, keep it off!!

      2. I guess your rich meal sounds great ... sometimes, but not as a way of life.

        But give me balance ... when I'm tracking calories I aim for 50% from carbs, 30% from lean protein and 20% from fat.

        Works for me.

        7 Replies
        1. re: willyum

          That wouldve sounded balanced to me a year ago, too. But read "Why we get fat" by G. Taubes. Fat-free is dangerous. Calories dont make us fat. Insulin makes us fat. Insulin is triggered only by carbs. Theres MUCH to learn and unlearn. Thank you so much for replying!

          1. re: tractionpads

            Well, I lost 50lbs (and have kept about 45 of of it off for over a year now) while still eating carbs... so yeah.

            1. re: juliejulez

              i'm with juliejulez: i lost 35 lb about 10 years ago and have kept it off while still eating carbs.
              meanwhile, my next door neighbor went to the no-carb routine, lost a lot of weight, and then couldn't stick with it.
              now she has both cravings for carbs and cravings for butter/fat. she's added an ADDITIONAL craving (fat/butter) and has gained back more than she lost originally.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Nobody eats no carbs, not even on the JHU epilepsy ketogenic diet. If she did, she effed up. I'll point out the obvious; all diet plans have high failure rates. Especially when people think they're "on a diet."

                I eat boatloads of carbs by volume on an extremely low carb diet; they're just nutrient dense instead of calorie dense.

                Low carb for 15 years of good eating.

          2. re: willyum

            How is that balanced? It's half one thing out of three?

            I'm not balanced, either.

            I eat 50% of calories from fats, 35% from protein, and 15% non starchy carbs/veggies.

            Lipids researchers say there would be great difficulty maintaining health on a 30% fat diet. But your body, your science experiment.

            1. re: mcf

              >> "How is that balanced? It's half one thing out of three?"

              In the context of diets 'balanced' is descriptive, not mathematically precise. Here are the three main classes, as I understand it:

              "High carbohydrate, very low fat" ... typical ratio might be 70/20/10 carbs-protein-fat is Pritikin's ratio .. Ornish and Haas and many forms of vegetarianism are similar and all seem to work well if done correctly.

              "Very low carbohydrate, high fat, high protein" ... Atkins is the main proponent and this seems to be what tractionpads and you are following. Typical ratio might be 10/45/45 carbs-protein-fat or similar.

              "Balanced" in this context simply means something between these extremes, say 40-50% carbs, 20-30% protein, 20-30% fat.

              You can find "studies" that prove almost anything, but a large scale government study of basic diets indicated that all three of these can lead to weight loss but that the low carbs diet was the hardest for people to stay with for long periods of time.

              As for me, after retirement and knee surgery I became less active and eventually got to 215 lbs (BMI 27.6) with 28% body fat before deciding to diet.

              My 'guy' (free library book) says it takes an excess 3,500 calories to gain a pound of fat, so by figuring out your calorie needs and then cutting this by 500 calories per day, plus increasing your activity by 500 calories per day you could in theory burn two pounds of fat each week.

              No special diets, just smaller portions and 'clean' foods (cut back sugar, processed wheat and cut out most liquid calories). My basic meal has a lean protein, a complex carb, simple carbs (yesterday salmon, quinoa with peppers and olive oil, salad, butternut squash soup, skim milk for example).

              I couldn't quite do 2 lbs/week but I did manage to average 1.3 lbs/week weight loss for several months until I got down to 160 lbs, 13% body fat. My BMI dropped to 20.5 which was approaching the 'too low' end, so I just ate more to stabliize my weight at 170, where I've been for 4 years.

              Moderation works for me. No gimmicks, no 'special foods'. When I eat a lot (recent trip to Spain with five gourmet meals in Michelin restaurants) I just go back to the drill for two weeks to get the weight back in line.

              I can post before/after pics I took for The National Weight Control Registry if you wanna see the results. The NWCR is tracking 10,000 people who have lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off long-term and there's a lot of good info on the site. http://www.nwcr.ws/

              Not trying to pick a fight with the zero carbs guys (except I'm a believer in 'calories count'), those diets also work. But most people who try them have problems sticking to it. See the cravings for a potato in the original post.

              A bit more about the NWCR results: http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/... ... in particular the section "Weight Loss Study Results".

              1. re: willyum

                First of all, no, I don't follow any popular diet plan, I have just read a lot of metabolic science and some of the books so I know what the plans are.

                Second, Atkins is not necessarily very high fat, extreme low carb and 40% calories from anything is not "balanced" which is just a meaningless phrase people use when the want to suggest their diet is the sane one, it's high carb.

                The weight control registry had no category for low carbers when folks tried to sign up. And while you can find study authors who will *claim* anything, NO, you cannot find studies that prove just about everything.

                There's a lot of crap out there passing peer review, even phony papers submitted to prove it.

          3. Don't all vegetables have some carbs? I've always thought that a no carb diet would have to be basically meat, eggs, fish, cheese.

            21 Replies
            1. re: cookie monster

              Yes, no-carb is just meat and fat (eggs and cheese actually have a bit of carb in them, as do some shellfish). There are people who do it, but I can't imagine living that way.

              I've been low-carb for almost 15 years now - I definitely have my moments of carbohydrate indulgence, but my day in, day out meals are made up of eggs, meat, cheese, nuts and non-starchy vegetables. I would say I probably eat less than 50g of carbohydrates daily, almost all of it in the form of nuts and vegetables.

              1. re: biondanonima

                Hi! Carb free is not a defined diet. People are trying all sorts of patterns. Every food (except pure oils, fats) has all 3 ...protein, fat and carbs. But for me, a very small bit of carbs a day, about 50 or less. Vegetables, except starchy and sweet ones (potatoes, carrots, beets) have very few carbs, so can be eaten in volumes as you like. Lately I take a smll container of salad dressing and raw bell pepper wedges with me and dip the pepper into the dressing for a snack on the road. Meat with full fat, cheeses, cream cheese, eggs, heavy cream, lunch meats, hot dogs, canned meats, salami, pepperoni, nut butters, butter, tofu, all can be eaten as much as one wants, along with any carb free soups, veggies galore, cottage cheese, quiches sans crust, even high density chocolate ala Trader Joes 73% with almonds. And peanuts are very low, but macadamia nuts are even lower! Theyre my best friend, well worth the price because theyre light so you get a LOT for your money. Costco and Winco have them at 12 dollars a pound, nut Wincos are superior, and are sold in bulk, while at costco you buy an 18 dollar bag (or dont).

                1. re: tractionpads

                  This is far from carb free. It's low or moderate carb.

                  And no, you cannot eat all you want of those things, unless you want very little. Well, maybe *you* can, but not every low carber can.

                  1. re: mcf

                    The thing about not eating many carbs is that you get that full feeling faster and don't get those hunger pangs. So more than likely one eats less over all when eliminating carbs.

                    1. re: poser

                      I never eat til I feel full on low carb, can't recall the last time I felt full. I eat til I'm satiated, or no longer hungry, and I stay that way hours longer, sometimes forgetting to eat later on low carb.

                      But you still eat more calories or equal calories on low carb. The difference is that low carbers lose more weight on higher calories and more of it is lost as fat, with more lean muscle preserved or added.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I agree about the "full" feeling being replaced by a (wonderfully) satisfied feeling. If I eat carby things now, I feel stuffed but still unsatisfied.

                2. re: biondanonima

                  Same here. For over 15 years; reversed diabetic nerve and kidney damage this way, and maintain low normal glucose with no meds all this time, too.

                  1. re: mcf

                    Fantastic! What info is there on the epilepsy issue? Anyone have direct experience with carb restriction and cure or amelioration of epilepsy?

                    1. re: tractionpads

                      It's the only treatment for some people with severe epilepsy. It's a very restrictive ketogenic high fat diet. No direct experience but I'm a physician and have rotated in the epilepsy clinic.

                      1. re: tractionpads

                        Yes, Johns Hopkins originated it, I believe, and it's been in use for decades. But the diet they use is not suitable for folks who don't suffer uncontrolled epilepsy and it's disgusting. It'a almost entirely fat, they also restrict protein because 58% of it converts to glucose, which is what causes the damage.

                        Lots of research suggests ketogenic diet for cancer therapy and prevention as well as for other conditions, but the brain health/healing use is the most documented health application. You can find plenty on google and PubMed about this, I'm sure.

                        1. re: mcf

                          Yes indeed it's a pure butter diet! And my experience was at the Hopkins clinic so I was able to meet a lot of patients.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            And mayo, if I recall? Just gross, and leads to an elevated risk of kidney stones, too.

                              1. re: walker

                                Not much else. Some protein, but not much.


                                It's a very extreme measure for an otherwise intractable problem. Surprisingly free of ill effects, other than the elevated risk of kidney stones which I think is the most frequent.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  I went to that link but could not find what they rec. on the 2 different diets .. one is a modified Atkins. I'm just curious about this, I don't have any medical problems.

                                  1. re: walker

                                    I think the diet composition may be in a Wiki citation link, but our poster who worked at JHU described it as basically all butter.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Wow, tuna salad made with more mayo than fish. Makes me queasy reading it.

                      2. re: cookie monster

                        Yes, you're right. Even a cup of coffee has a couple. Milk does. Cheeses, too.

                      3. Nope.
                        I'm pro complex carbs. I am also confidant that my kidneys are not over stressed and my cholesterol is negligible- and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          Negligible cholesterol is a serious risk for premature death, I'd get that looked into!

                          Fortunately, low carb protects kidneys; it's glucose that harms them in the first place, diet wise. I reversed my carby diet induced kidney damage with low carb and high protein.

                          Fifteen years now with above average kidney function.

                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            Complex carbs are great. My dad took all 4 silver medals at the US Senior Olympics at age 75 staying on the Pritikin diet.

                            For me, Im eating whole, living grains and find they dont put on ANY weight. As soon as theyre milled, they put weight on me. Theres a little-known type of rice called "sweet brown rice." Exactly that name. Whole, living rice, cooks up glutinous and succulent. Its not sweet, thats just the name. Potatoes dont seem to put weight on me, either. I dont eat large portions, tho. On low carb diets, one eats less quantity and gets more satisfaction. Carbs should be called "cravohydrates" as they make one crave things, carbs as well as other unsatisfying things. imho

                            1. re: tractionpads

                              Wonder Bread and French fries are complex carbs. So are Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch.

                              Complexity of carbs has absolutely nothing to do with their nutrition or health qualities, it's moot in dietary terms.

                              1. re: mcf

                                Thank you for making that clarification! "Complex carbs" is often what I think people equate to "high fiber" or "nutrient dense" carbs.

                                The "complexity" has to do with molecular structure, not processing and metabolism in the body. Simple explanation of how this misconception started (read under "Classification" section): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbohyd...

                            1. I don't enjoy carb free eating, but I do restrict carbs. I don't enjoy eating a lot of full fat foods any more, either. The meal you describe is not attractive to me at all. But I have found that restricting carbs is healthier for me than any other one way to eat.

                              1. I'd like to weigh in with what I believe to be some factually based scientific statements. None of them are absolute, but I believe each of them to be mostly true, based on research.

                                Excess body weight (accumulation of unwanted body fat) ultimately comes down to calories taken in subtracted by calories used. It is an energy balance (or if you prefer, a mass balance). Our bodies are subject to the same laws of conservation of energy and conservation of mass as anything else in the universe.

                                However, there are some complicating factors, as we are biological systems, not simple engines.

                                For example, it turns out our efficiency of energy expenditure is low during daylight, and high at night time. That is, during the day, our "metabolism" is high, and at night our "metabolism" is low. Experiments in mice have shown that eating X calories on an ad lib basis leads to obesity and organ damage mimicking metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. However, the same X calories eaten in a restricted time frame of 8 hours does not cause obesity, organ damage, or glucose intolerance.

                                Doesn't this go against the "calories are all that matter" statement above?


                                Because the metabolism of each one of our cells in our bodies is entrained by the sun to a circadian rhythm. This makes it such that calories taken in during the day are more likely to be expended easily, and calories taken in at night are more likely stored. Simply put, calories taken in at night "count more" than calories taken in during the day, because our cells are more efficient at night than in the day at using energy. This is an active area of research, and we will learn a lot more about it over the next decade.

                                Time-restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high-fat diet.
                                Hatori M, Vollmers C, Zarrinpar A, DiTacchio L, Bushong EA, Gill S, Leblanc M, Chaix A, Joens M, Fitzpatrick JA, Ellisman MH, Panda S. Cell Metab. 2012 Jun 6;15(6):848-60

                                (No, I am not an author on the above paper, in case you're concerned there might be a conflict of interest or a strong bias on the views I am presenting here.)

                                What about low-carb diets?

                                They work a little bit faster at reducing unwanted body fat than other low calorie diets, particularly if the low carb is coupled with high fat (and therefore moderate protein).

                                Put as simply as possible, carbohydrates are the most potent initiator of the calorie storage system of the body (mediated by insulin). Eating lower amounts of carbohydrates minimizes this storage signal, and promotes energy expenditure rather than energy storage as fat. It turns out protein is a close runner up to carbs, as it is ~80% as potent as carbohydrates in inducing insulin to be secreted into the serum. Therefore, it is important to not eat too much protein either when trying to efficiently shed unwanted body fat. Taking in a relatively large portion of calories in the form of fat, though it is the most energy-dense form of nutritional calories, is important, though perhaps counter intuitive. We must consume a relatively large proportion of our calories in fat because fat does not increase insulin secretion appreciably, and because fats help keep us "full" or "satisfied" rather than inducing cravings to eat more calories.

                                If obese humans were induced into a comatose state and their nutritional intake and the timing of such intake were controlled by robots, the most efficient way to reduce unwanted body fat would be to:

                                1. intake a low total calorie diet such that the person was in a negative energy balance (more energy used each day than energy taken in)

                                2. administer the calories during an 8 hour period of daylight, because circadian rhythms make calories taken in at night more likely to be stored (as fat).

                                3. give the calories in a proportion of low carbohydrates (~10% of calories), moderate protein (~30% of calories), and high fat (~60% of calories) in order to minimize the secretion of insulin from the pancreas into the bloodstream, thereby minimizing the calorie-storage-as-fat signal to the body.

                                Care would have to be taken to make sure water and electrolyte levels (potassium, sodium, chloride magnesium, etc) are maintained at stable physiologic values.

                                Once ideal body weight is achieved, then a somewhat more balanced proportion of calories from all three groups can be adopted, as long as the total caloric intake is maintained at a lower level than the caloric intake required to create the obesity in the first place.

                                In summary:

                                1. because of the universal laws of conservation of energy and conservation of mass, energy-in needs to equal energy-out when averaged over time to prevent energy accumulation (unwanted body fat).

                                2. because we are complex biological systems with a variable metabolic rate than depends on circadian rhythms, rather than simple engines, energy during the night counts against us more than energy taken in during the day.

                                3. because we are complex biological systems with a variable tendency to store energy as fat that depends on insulin levels in the blood, energy in the form of carbohydrates counts against us more than energy in the form of protein, and the least potent inducer of insulin is energy in the form of fat.

                                4. because we are complex biological systems with hunger signals that lead to cravings to eat (we are not comatose!), eating a higher proportion of calories from protein and fat is preferable to calories from carbohydrates, because the former tend to maximize satiety and minimize cravings compared to the latter, making it more likely we can actually meet our relatively low caloric intake goals.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: alarash

                                  None of that is scientifically correct. For one thing, you got diurnal rhythm completely backwards. Cortisol raises blood glucose and insulin response to their highest levels in the morning and tapers off later in the day, hence more fat storage response the earlier you eat.

                                  And calories are only determinative in closed machines, not hormonally determinant human biology.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    None of it?

                                    you silly goose ;)

                                    1. re: alarash

                                      I'm not silly, I'm just familiar with the published research. Very familiar.

                                      To the point where i need a new hobby. :-)

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        <None of that is scientifically correct.>

                                        You sound pretty confident. And it seems you see things as pretty black and white, which surprises me a little, as the field of endocrinology and diabetes research is significantly muddled in the area. I've seen endocrinologists have semi-formal debates taking opposing sides on the issue of the pros and cons of low-carb diets, and if calories are all that matter, and if eating at different times of day matters, if activity at different times of day matters, etc. They're complicated issues, but I feel you've compared apples and oranges. You've attempted to correct my comments about the diurnal variation of *metabolic rate* with diurnal variation of *insulin secretion*.

                                        Are you a physician? A diabetes researcher? An endocrinologist? Or is being very familiar with the published research just a hobby?

                                        In any case, I find your above comment silly, no matter what your profession, training, or hobby.

                                        <For one thing, you got diurnal rhythm completely backwards. Cortisol raises blood glucose and insulin response to their highest levels in the morning and tapers off later in the day, hence more fat storage response the earlier you eat.>

                                        I purposely did not make comments about the diurnal variations of cortisol or insulin. So, I don't think I got those things backwards. I actually didn't comment on them at all.

                                        I commented on overall metabolic efficiency, which depends on many factors, most of which I have purposefully omitted.

                                        Regarding diurnal variation, what matters to me is the *overall* diurnal metobolic efficiency, not the diurnal variation of each of the individual components that contribute to it.

                                        I feel the experiment in genetically identical mice on a high fat diet, controlled for calories, which were divided between ad-libitum feeding vs 8-hour time-restricted feeding groups, speaks to the point of overall metabolic efficiency as dictated by circadian clocks throughout the body.

                                        The reviewers at the journal Cell seemed to agree.

                                        This discussion has prompted me to delve more deeply into pubmed, and I hope it inspires you similarly. Someone once said “The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.”

                                        I'm eager to learn. But confidence and truth, in my experience, don't necessarily come from the same tongue. And comments that imply absoluteness, like <None of that is scientifically correct.>, should raise a red flag with any reader.

                                        1. re: alarash

                                          First of all, mouse studies rarely turn out out to be representative of human responses.

                                          Second, by discussing night time vs. day time use of calories, yes, you did open the subject of diurnal variation.

                                          Third, no, I'm not a doctor, I'm an assiduous researcher with the capacity to read, comprehend and analyze across a very wide swath of disciplines.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            In my reading, I have drawn the conclusion, that while mice and men are obviously substantially different species, mouse models recapitulate human disease as a rule (exceptions exist) when it comes to maladies attributed to single gene mutations. Regarding polygenic disorders, cancer, and metabolic disease, the differences between mouse models and human pathology are more significant, though excellent mouse models exist in each of these areas.

                                            However, in the case of a profoundly stunning and unexpected result such as the timing of calorie intake being so important such that ad-lib mice are obese, and time-restricted mice are lean, controlling for calories; such a result cannot be ignored by saying "mouse studies rarely turn out to be representative of human responses," especially since humans and mice are in the same class (mammalia).

                                            I asked if you have specialized training in this area (endocrinologist, diabetes researcher, etc) to better understand your marked confidence in your statements. I thought perhaps you have professional expertise in this area specifically, and perhaps at the doctorate/professional level, since you were so readily willing to dismiss with a word the opinion of others.

                                            It goes without saying that anyone is capable of reading and understanding for themselves the scientific literature, with enough experience in the methods of experimentation. I read your comments with an open mind to learn, regardless of your professional background, as I am no endocrinologist or diabetes researcher. I try to leave room for error in my comments, as a way of acknowledging that my statements are based on my "current and limited understanding."

                                            I admit, I am impressed at the degree of your confidence, despite it being uncoupled from professional/scientific training in this specific area.

                                            1. re: alarash

                                              "I admit, I am impressed at the degree of your confidence, despite it being uncoupled from professional/scientific training in this specific area."

                                              I leave lots of room for uncertainty in scientific exploration as so little that's claimed is actually true or as simple as authors and media like to conclude, But some things are actually well known and documented, like the role of diurnal rhythm and macronutrient breakdown on appetite and tat storage, vs, fat burning.

                                              I've staked my own life and health on what I've learned, and keep an open mind to good research at all times on the rest.

                                    2. re: mcf

                                      Thank you, I was utterly confused by those "facts"

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        I'm surprised at the confusion, as I tried to be fairly clear. And I think my opinions and comments are based on what I consider to be factual research.

                                        But as a point of clarification to your brusque response, my comments themselves I would never dare try to pass off as fact.

                                        Since you mentioned you're a physician: out of curiosity, in what field is your specialty? Is your specialty training complete?

                                        Since you mentioned you rotated in Neurology (as a medical student? resident?) at Hopkins, what portion of your training was/is at JHH?

                                        1. re: alarash

                                          I'm a pathologist, a 3rd year resident. I rotated in neurology as a medical student. I didn't imply that everything you wrote is untrue but it focuses on a few variables that are not necessarily all that important IMO. I'm sure you will judge my opinion based on the above information but that's OK with me.

                                          And who are you? What do you do?

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            I was just curious as to your chosen field of specialty, since you mentioned you're a physician. And also your connection to JHH. I lived nearby for a time, so I was curious how long ago you were there, and in which capacity.

                                            If one is a physician, a scientist, or an assiduous researcher with the capacity to read, comprehend and analyze across a very wide swath of disciplines, in the 'information age,' everyone has access to the truth, and I enjoy learning from each of you, and am inspired to read more deeply into the literature to continually gain a progressively more informed opinion on this and other matters.

                                  2. I've cut way down on carbs since the new year (I've been tracking and it's been about 50g a day.) I'm eating when I'm hungry, and my calorie intake has been cut almost in half, I would guess without me trying. I've lost 10 lbs (out of many more to lose), and I'm not craving sweets even though I've been battling my sweet tooth for years.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Savour

                                      Way to go!

                                      For some, the abolition of sweets keeps the cravings away.

                                      1. re: Savour

                                        Wait til you start tasting the sugar in lettuce and veggies and stuff you used to like tastes way oversweetened. :-)

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          I even think some bell peppers are too sweet :)

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            I was always a more savory, very dark chocolate type, but my husband used to want dessert every night, and desserts I found sickeningly sweet he thought were just right.

                                            Now, a few years of low carbing later, he rarely wants dessert, and stuff tastes too sweet to him, too. And he's not nearly as low carb as I am.

                                            I couldn't believe it the first time I bit into a piece of romaine heart and it tasted sugared to me. :-)

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              Yea people think I'm crazy but even as a kid my mom tells me I turned away most desserts for being too sweet and as a kid was low carb by nature ;)

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Oh, I loved sugar when I was a kid, but that had a lot to do with being sweets and soda deprived at home. But I always preferred dark chocolate over milk, liked stuff with tartness, too. I drew the line at Peeps and Snowballs, bleah.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  My downfall is sweet and salty things. I can eat a lot more sweet when it's salty, too.

                                          2. re: mcf

                                            Already happening. I had a couple of cocktails Friday night and my usual favorite (a variation on a Manhattan) was almost undrinkable and a plain old scotch whisky (my second drink) tasted as sweet as a Manhattan used to. My husband put sugar in my coffee and I almost spit it out.