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Low-Carb Diets Aren't 'Low'
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Chris Shugart
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The Low-Carb Diet Isn't 'Low'

"I lost 12 pounds in three weeks of V-Dieting, but of course most of that was water weight."

I heard someone say that the other day, so I responded with my usual:

"No, no. While it's true that any time you lower carbs you tend drop some water weight, it's only a pound or two for most people, not 12. You've probably lost around 10 pounds of actual body fat, which is great!"

That conversation got me to thinking about something. It is a known fact that low or reduced-carb diets cause some initial "water weight" loss. But why do we assume this is abnormal? In other words, maybe most people are walking around water-logged...bloated...carrying around an excess amount of water.

The modern Westernized diet, packed with more carbs than your biology was ever meant to handle, causes most people to walk around looking like stuffed sausages. So, when they do a low-carb diet, they immediately lose a lot of that unnecessary bloat.

But this is important: These people don't unnaturally lose water weight; they normalize to where they're supposed to be.

Now, let's take that a bit further. Is a reduced-carb eating plan really a "diet?" Or is it simply the eating plan that the human body is best adapted to? Maybe low-carb is the diet we're supposed to be eating based on how the body best functions? And I'm not talking ketosis low, just lower than most people eat given the advent of agriculture and processed/junk food.

(Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss says it more eloquently than I do. In a recent conversation we had about leptin resistance, he used the phrase "insufficient adaptation to an agrarian diet." I like that.)

So, it's not that I'm a "low-carb diet guy." Rather, it's that most people, especially those who struggle with weight, are "very-high-carb diet people."

My usual diet recommendations aren't unnaturally low in carbs. Rather, my philosophy is to eat the optimal amount, which is only "low" by modern standards set by bread addicts, doctors who receive about two hours of nutrition training in 6 years of med school, corrupt dietetic groups, and our subsidy-happy government.

How many carbs per day are we talking about here? I see no reason to go over 150 grams, with most people thriving on around 100g, and fat loss coming very easily in the 50 to 100 range. No need to go Atkins low (20g.) And no need to skip the powerful benefits of peri-workout nutrition, which is usually carby, if the rest of your meals that day are low...er, I mean, ideal carb.

So, it's not a "low-carb" diet. It's a perfect carb diet. No bloat, no lethargy, no crazy energy drops, no diet-caused mood swings, no excess body fat, and no dying of easily-prevented, food-caused diseases.

All those benefits that, for most people, can be had by just dumping the bread, cereal, other grain-flour products, and soda from their diets.

I'll take that trade in a heartbeat. Will you?


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nateschmidt24
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I will!

My dad was talking to a guy at work about how his son (me) is into weight lifting and eating lots of meat and veggies and the guy said "if he doesn't eat bread where does he get his engergy?"

I lol'd

good post Chris as per usual

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Dani Shugart
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It's strange isn't it? A diet made up of carbs, which come mainly from nature, is considered "low carb" and unhealthy by bread eaters and pasta bodies. But heck, if they want to put in all the work it takes to burn that junk off, good for them.

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corstijeir
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My sister has struggled with weight in the past few years.

Her doctor the other day told her to stop eating HFCS or anything with corn in it and no more peanuts.

Say's she's allergic and will die sooner than later if she keeps eating corn syrup based products.

I told her to cut out grains as well then after about 8 weeks go back to the doctor and get retested for allergies. I'm thinking that not only will her weight problem be fixed ( 1 water bloat, 2 no more stomach bloat from the gut being irritated at eating grains ), but I think her allergic reaction to HFCS will probably be reduced from what it was.

Great Article.

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corstijeir
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DaniRed, I love when people tell me I am un healthy- saturday I moved a friend to a new apartment, 3rd floor, 2 stair wells each floor.

I was sprinting up the steps each time I had to go back up, took me 3 leaps per stair well. If being able to sprint up 3 floors of stairs and not lose my breath is unhealthy, then I don't want to be "healthy".

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Japek
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This article is awesome. I had a client tell me that she carbo-loaded with pasta last night for this mornings workout. My head almost exploded.

On Friday, she asked me to recommend an energy drink to get her past her 2 PM crash... I told her that cutting sugar from her diet would solve her problem. Then she said that she never eats sugar or carbs... when I asked her what she had consumed already... she responded with "chex mix, fruit juice and a banana." Hmmm

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Kurtis Frank
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corstijeir wrote:
DaniRed, I love when people tell me I am un healthy- saturday I moved a friend to a new apartment, 3rd floor, 2 stair wells each floor.

I was sprinting up the steps each time I had to go back up, took me 3 leaps per stair well. If being able to sprint up 3 floors of stairs and not lose my breath is unhealthy, then I don't want to be "healthy".


Yay, I'm not the only one who gets weird looks when I gallop up 3 steps at a time :)

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Dani Shugart
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I want to join the 3-steps-at-a-time club! We've got steps in the house, but they're carpeted. Let's hope I don't face plant while trying to target the glutes.

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nateschmidt24
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Dani, you'll just have to drop into a pushup, or actually explosive pushup to launch yourself back up

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alexgermany
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a few weeks back you explained to me why you recommend a "low carb diet" and since that moment i switched.
i feel a lot better, no bloat, steady energy and effortless fat loss.
this weekend i ate some worse things. my abs didnt disappear (obviously) but i am bloated and feel kinda bad.
so back to lower carbs and low grains...thanks chris.

i never thought fat loss could be that easy.

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Chris Shugart
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alexgermany wrote:
a few weeks back you explained to me why you recommend a "low carb diet" and since that moment i switched.
i feel a lot better, no bloat, steady energy and effortless fat loss.
this weekend i ate some worse things. my abs didnt disappear (obviously) but i am bloated and feel kinda bad.
so back to lower carbs and low grains...thanks chris.

i never thought fat loss could be that easy.


That's awesome, Alex! Glad I could help.

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barn-e
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You do realize, don't you, that the 20g carbs "Atkins diet" is actually just the first phase of the overall diet? It's called the induction phase and only lasts two weeks. After that, you gradually raise carbs in phases 2 and 3 until you find a level that you can tolerate.

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Chris Shugart
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barn-e wrote:
You do realize, don't you, that the 20g carbs "Atkins diet" is actually just the first phase of the overall diet? It's called the induction phase and only lasts two weeks. After that, you gradually raise carbs in phases 2 and 3 until you find a level that you can tolerate.


Yes. I've published several articles on it and have even spoken to Dr. Atkins before he passed away.

You do realize that don't you? [Read that in a Mr. Howell from Gilligan's Island voice for best effect.]

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BrickCallahan
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Interesting perspective I hadn't considered, even though I think about carbs all the time. I bought into the idea that you needed your precious whole grains in order to not pass out from an absence of energy. I've weened myself away from being a daily grains consumer to a sporadic one to a once in a while one.

I've been a Hammer reader since January and credit my daily check-up on this place to being more conscious not just about grain consumption, but food selection in general. I'll say, though, that I still had a problem with eating too many grains for my liking despite this.

Thankfully, my four weeks of intermittent fasting has done wonders for my grains consumption. It's still too early to get comfortable and declare grains dead, but the IF format seems to be just what I needed to take my grain consumption down to a few isolated incidents during the week.

They aren't gone for good, but I no longer have trouble not building my meals around bread and it's showing up not just with the measuring tape, but with how I feel internally. I wish I'd gotten into this a long time ago, since I used to get horrible bloating every day and it actually affected a serious relationship (I wasn't too pleasant when I was bloated, which was, well, most of the damn time). Live and learn.

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barn-e
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Well, great! I get pissed off when people criticize things they haven't researched. A couple years ago there was a nurse on the radio bashing Atkins and she had never even read his book. I don't remember you interviewing the Doctor though. I'll have to dig into the archives.

Atkins' book first introduced me to the low-carb concept many years ago, even though I've moved on to better and more advanced things.

Edit: I can't find the interview using search. Do you have a link to it? Thanks.

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Chris Shugart
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barn-e wrote:
Well, great! I get pissed off when people criticize things they haven't researched. A couple years ago there was a nurse on the radio bashing Atkins and she had never even read his book. I don't remember you interviewing the Doctor though. I'll have to dig into the archives.

Atkins' book first introduced me to the low-carb concept many years ago, even though I've moved on to better and more advanced things.

Edit: I can't find the interview using search. Do you have a link to it? Thanks.


Mind & Muscle Power Magazine, late 90's.

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Chris Shugart
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Somewhat related, here's a snippet from Dr. Loren Cordain's paper, Cereal Grains: "Humanity's Double-Edged Sword"

"For the vast majority of mankind's presence on this planet, he rarely if ever consumed cereal grains. With the exception of the last 10,000 years following the agricultural 'revolution', humans have existed as non-cereal-eating hunter-gatherers since the emergence of Homo erectus 1.7 million years ago.

It is apparent that there is little or no evolutionary precedent in our species for grass seed consumption. Consequently, we have had little time (<500 generations) since the inception of the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago to adapt to a food type which now represents humanity's major source of both calories and protein. The sum of evidence indicates that the human genetic constitution has changed little in the past 40,000 years. The foods which were commonly available to pre-agricultural man were the foods which shaped modern man's genetic nutritional requirements."

Tom Naughton's comments: "This is why it drives me nuts when nutritionists insist we 'need' grains. It makes zero biological sense. According to Cordain, grains have been part of the human diet for roughly 0.4% of our existence. If 99.6% of my ancestors managed to live without them, why would I need them now?"

More: http://www.fathead-movie.com/ Under "Amber Waves of Pain"

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popupwindow
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I'm confused. If you say people are bloated and carrying around a heap of water weight while eating high carb (no disagreement there), and that they flush this once they go low-carb (again, no disagreement), then why would someone on high carb who goes the psmf/velocity path not drop 5-10lbs of water? You said to the person that dropped 12lbs that 1-2 was water, but if only 1-2 is water, then why do people who swap to low carbs see a big drop in water retention? Surely either the effect is minimal, so most weight lost on velocity is fat and people aren't retaining much water (unlikely), or the effect is large, so a lot of the weight lost on velocity is water. Right? Even if you mean 1-2lbs water, few lbs glycogen etc, that's still not fat loss.

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ghost87
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Chris,

I'm not promoting an argument here but human beings also didn't live off of protein powder for the last thousand years (and I consume a lot of protein powder).

My point is that stating that we should avoid "artificial foods" or foods that we rarely consumed in our history is not a good argument when the V diet or my own bodybuilder diet that has incorporated protein powders are not in line with line of thought.

BTW, it's almost bedtime, where's my protein powder with casein and mixed nuts....?

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Chris Shugart
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ghost87 wrote:
Chris,

I'm not promoting an argument here but human beings also didn't live off of protein powder for the last thousand years (and I consume a lot of protein powder).

My point is that stating that we should avoid "artificial foods" or foods that we rarely consumed in our history is not a good argument when the V diet or my own bodybuilder diet that has incorporated protein powders are not in line with line of thought.

BTW, it's almost bedtime, where's my protein powder with casein and mixed nuts....?


True, but I'm not a "Paleo" guy really. (And most of them use protein powders too; one of the main Paleo guys actually owns a supplement company.)

The difference is that protein powders like Metabolic Drive don't wreck your body like the non-food junk foods, the refined grains, etc. It does quite the opposite, so why avoid it just because it's not "Paleo"? And things like Superfood (dehydrated veggies and fruits), REZ-V (the good stuff from wine), Flameout (fish oil and CLA) are actually very "primal" -- just in concentrated form.

In short, there's a big difference in a Pop Tart and a protein shake.

So what I promote is the best of both worlds - the whole foods that we're best adapted to eat along with the most advanced supplements to give us an edge.

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tomkade
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Chris,

What is your peri-workout nutrition like? Do you do the ANACONDA Protocol? It will be difficult to keep the protocol while on "ideal" carbs since each FINiBAR has 40g of carbs.

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Kungfushish
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I have a question, before humans ate grains what did we use for carbohydrate in muscle building, i know weightlifting in the modern sense didn't exist but they definetly heaved heavy loads and carried heavy stone tools. Wild tubers were found to have been consumed by our ancestors.

Btw gonna go see an endicronologist, last time he recommended i refrain from brown rice and eat more meat and veg. He said i still needed a little starch for growth. Being a teen building muscle and losing fat at the same time is not unheard of so i might add slightly more starch and a little extra calories carefully.

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Chris Shugart
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tomkade wrote:
Chris,

What is your peri-workout nutrition like? Do you do the ANACONDA Protocol? It will be difficult to keep the protocol while on "ideal" carbs since each FINiBAR has 40g of carbs.


I vary peri-workout nutrition depending on goals and training style, but it typically involves a FINiBAR or Surge Workout Fuel pre, then Surge Recovery after. That's less than 100g carbs. The rest of the day is low-carb solid foods and shakes. Very easy to stay between 100 and 150g carbs and still get your workout nutrition taken care of. V-Dieters get about 50g post-workout; the rest of the day it's just a few grams here and there in shakes.

Other times I'll use Anaconda and MAG-10 as part of the peri-workout plan. Both are carb-free.

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Chris Shugart
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Join date: Oct 2002
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Kungfushish wrote:
I have a question, before humans ate grains what did we use for carbohydrate in muscle building, i know weightlifting in the modern sense didn't exist but they definetly heaved heavy loads and carried heavy stone tools. Wild tubers were found to have been consumed by our ancestors.

Btw gonna go see an endicronologist, last time he recommended i refrain from brown rice and eat more meat and veg. He said i still needed a little starch for growth. Being a teen building muscle and losing fat at the same time is not unheard of so i might add slightly more starch and a little extra calories carefully.



Remember that in the history of man as we know him, he's only been eating grains since agriculture began, roughly 10,000 years ago. Yet Homo erectus arose something like 1.7 million years ago. So, obviously man did just fine without grains during this hunter/gatherer time. Grains have been part of the human diet for only something like 0.4% of our existence, yet so many people assume we have to have them. Are we to assume there was no muscle-building going on before then?

This is a huge and diverse topic, so a few books for you to check out: Protein Power, The Primal Blueprint, and The Paleo Solution.

Now, all that said, as a very young man you're going to be able to "get away with" a lot dietarily. And you do need to use this "magic time" and take advantage of the relatively easy ability to build muscle. Just don't engrain any bad eating habits that you won't be able to kick after the after the age of 25. You don't have to go strict "paleo" or anything (some of those guys are a little TOO strict in my book), just avoid the obvious junk, even if you're able to eat it for now and not see any bad effects.

Keep the "eat like your ancestors" thing in mind for sure, but also take advantage of what modern supplements have to offer, especially when it comes to peri-workout.

Keep us posted!





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