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October 8, 2016

The arguments against a carbohydrate restricted diet

by Helene van den Berg

I, me and my fat, Part 6

  1. It violates the law of calories-in/calories-out (promise weight loss without having to eat less or exercise)
  2. It is an unbalanced diet, because it restricts the nutrient category – carbohydrates. 
  3. High- saturated fat diets cause heart disease (raises our cholesterol) 


Restricting carbohydrates, leads to weight loss and fat loss, independent of the calories we consume from dietary fat and protein (discussed in detail above). The law of thermodynamics has nothing to do with it!

The argument that a diet restricting fattening carbohydrates, will be lacking in essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids), is nonsense!. The foods you are avoiding are the fattening and nutrient-deficient starches, refined carbohydrates and sugars, NOT the nutrient–dense leafy green vegetables, salads, meat and eggs. Meat contains all the essential amino acids, essential fats and 12 of the 13 essential vitamins (vitamin C is scarce in animal products). Meat is a concentrated source of vitamin A and E, the entire vitamin B complex and vitamin B12 and D are only in animal products (Vitamin D also from sun exposure).  We use B vitamins to metabolize glucose in our cells – so, the more carbohydrates we consume, the more glucose we burn and the more B vitamins we need from our diets. Insulin inhibits the uptake of vitamin C by the kidneys – so, when we eat carbohydrates we excrete vitamin C with our urine, instead of retaining it!. The isolated hunter-gatherer populations thrived during long winters on no carbohydrates and no green vegetables or fruit, but got enough vitamin C from animal products. 

Carbohydrates are not required in a healthy human diet – there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. 

If there are NO carbohydrates in the diet, the brain and central nervous system (CNS) will function mostly on ketones for energy (“ketogenic diets”).  Ketones are synthesized in the liver, from the fat we eat (dietary fat), from the fatty acids of the fat tissue and even from some amino acids. Some of the energy will also come from glycerol (released from fat tissue when triglycerides are broken down and from glucose synthesized in the liver from the amino acids in protein). During the night, when we don’t eat, our livers will convert the fat into ketones for brain fuel – ketosis is therefore a natural process. Ketosis should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a pathological condition in uncontrolled diabetes. The brain and CNS run more efficiently on ketones than they do on glucose!. 

Ketogenic diets can cure epilepsy in adults and even treat and cure cancer!!  

Another thing: If you can lose weight without hunger, aren’t you more likely to maintain that way of eating, than one that requires indefinite starvation?. 

The heart disease argument are also wrong. Could a diet, that makes us lean by removing the fattening carbohydrates, gives us heart disease?. It should do the opposite!. It is more the easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars that cause the heart disease!. Our obsession with the fat and saturated fat in our diets, is simply misconceived!. By 1970, dietary fat had become the official dietary villain and health authorities stated that saturated fat clogs our arteries and dietary fat makes us fat.  For the next 45 years, the saturated-fat consumption declined, but rather than getting leaner, we got fatter. The number of Americans with high levels of LDL cholesterol have been decreasing (avoiding saturated fat and using cholesterol-lowering drugs), but the number of heart attacks was not decreasing with it!!. The Cochrane Collaboration Analysis (most expensive diet study ever done) has found that the low-fat diet of 20 000 of the 49 000 women over 6 years, had no beneficial effect on heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer or fat accumulation.

The logic that, a drug that lowers LDL cholesterol, can prevent heart disease; then surely a diet that lowers LDL cholesterol, will prevent heart disease, whereas a diet that raises it must be the cause of heart disease. 

This logic is flawed, because:

  • what drugs do and diets do are two entirely different things.
  • there are other risk factors to take in consideration with heart disease, like:
  • triglycerides: The higher your level of circulating triglycerides, the greater the danger of a heart attack. It is the carbohydrates we eat, that elefvate the triglyceride levels. The fat (saturated, or not) has nothing to do with them. 
  • Low HDL cholesterol:  low HDL cholesterol, is a risk factor for heart disease (especially in women). Replacing saturated fat in your diet with carbohydrates (e.g. giving up your scrambled eggs and bacon, for cornflakes, skim milk and bananas), you lower your HDL or “good cholesterol” and your heart- attack risk will go up.  Our HDL cholesterol levels, is a far better predictor of heart disease and a biomarker for dietary carbohydrates. (low HDL = lots of carbs; high HDL = few carbs).

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