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Medical How does a dietary intake of 100% animal fat mimic fasting?

  1. Nov 10, 2010 #1
    I have read some things such as reports of the Stefansson Bellevue experiment, or his reports of the Eskimos, and a few references to the research of Pennington, Kekwick, Donaldson, MacKarness, and their having patients on a dietary intake of low carbohydrate or very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat. These dietary regimes are for ongoing nutrition, or care for those who have allergies or need to lose weight.

    With more research being done about ketogenic diets for those with cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and other serious illness, this brings new avenues of possibility. There are many on low-carb and Paleo forums who post reports of doing very well on ketogenic diets, in many variations.

    I am interested to know if the rest and regeneration which fasting gives would be duplicated, for lack of a better word, by a diet of 100% fat, say 100% pastured beef suet, for something which has nutrients and a good Omega 3 to 6 ratio. Hydration with clean water, free of contaminants and additives.

    Would the diet of animal fat supply the body with nutrients so that the unwanted aspects of fasting are avoided, while giving the body the specific benefits that fasting does?

    I apologize, I do not know enough to ask more specific questions.

    If there are those among you who are interested in such things, and wouldn't mind explaining this to a "lay person", I would appreciate whatever you'd be willing to post.

    Thank you very much.
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  3. Nov 11, 2010 #2


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    Your body needs carbohydrates, period. Despite what any "new age" diet "gurus" claim. Your brain and red blood cells can only use glucose (and ketone bodies under starved states, more on this in a minute).

    Other cell types in your body prefer to use different nutrients for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycolysis" [Broken], such as your intestinal epithelium which prefers to use glutamate for its carbon source.

    If you eat a diet free of "carbs" your liver only sees the hormone glucagon (think "glucose is gone"). This sets off a cascade of events (namely through protein kinases) which turns off glycolysis in your liver and starts running http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis" [Broken]. Why does your liver do this? Because as I pointed out above, your brain and RBCs need glucose.

    Not all sources of carbon can be used to make glucose to feed your brain and RBCs. Most fats cannot be used to make glucose (the exception is odd carbon number chain fatty acids which produce a propionyl-CoA as the last step of beta-oxidation). Almost all amino acids are glucogenic (ie; they can be used to make glucose). Which in the case of a low carb diet isn't necessarily a good thing (if you're not eating enough protein) because that means your body will begin break down muscle (protein) to feed the brain and RBCs.

    Your body has an inbuilt safety for this, under conditions of starvation your body assumes you require muscle (to hunt and gather more food) so your liver's main source for ATP during starvation comes from the oxidation of fatty acids (released from your fat stores, or from a "diet of 100% fat). The excess of acetyl-CoA under these conditions leads your body to produce ketone bodies, which the brain and RBCs can use for about 30-40% of their energy demands. This means (from your body's standpoint, less muscle degradation and longer buffer period where you can find food).

    The problem with prolonging these conditions (asides from becoming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoglycemia" [Broken], which affects your body in many negative ways (it turns out your body likes to maintain a certain homeostasis and doesn't take kindly to things like changing pH).

    Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are just advertising gimmicks. What sounds safer to eat; omega 6 fatty acids or cis-9,12 linoleic acid? Probably the former, but they are one in the same.

    Omega fatty acids are just unsaturated fats that your body can't synthesize (you cannot make the 9-12 or 9-12-15 split double bonds in the carbon back bones). So these are essential fatty acids (like you have essential amino acids) you need as precursors for more complex fats, which you mostly use for cell-cell signaling (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostaglandin" [Broken]).

    If you want to feel good and have a healthy diet don't spend money on new age guru books, learn about evolution (you know the unifying theory of biology; "nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution"--Including our diets). We evolved over the last few million years eating seasonal varied diets of complex plant carbohydrates, simple animal carbohydrates, lean meats and healthy animal fats. Spending your time emulating that, making sure you meet your essential nutrient (including vitamins) demands and staying physically active should lead to desirable outcomes, any genetic problems aside (and you save the 14.95 you would have spent on a book called "stuff my pockets and follow my ridiculous diet" to boot).
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  4. Nov 12, 2010 #3
    Bobze, thank you for taking the time to post.

    My question is one of scientific interest.

    I like to find out about things, and be able to answer specific questions, and ask questions of others, when subjects arise.

    I asked the question on this forum, because I would like to know to know the chemistry involved.
  5. Nov 12, 2010 #4


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    Not to discourage you but that is a lot of chemistry! The amount that would be best learned in some college courses.
  6. Nov 15, 2010 #5


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    Well there are lots of myths and misconceptions about carb and fat in the media and establishment.

    Lets start with the common one that the body, esin needs carbs.

    The body does not need dietary carbs, but will use them if supplied. If we dont eat enough glucose to fuel the brain, the liver can synthesis ketone molecules. Our bodies can manufacture all our glucose needs via gluconeogenesis, the process of converting protein into glucose. Also, some tissues which prefer carbohydrate metabolism to ketone metabolism, like our brain, will eventually convert to at least partial ketone metabolism.

    And ketosis is very different from ketoacidosis, a commonly made mistake people use to portray low carb as a <shudder> <shudder? horrible thing.

    Dietary ketosis is among the most maligned and misunderstood concepts in nutrition because it is often confused with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition most often associated with uncontrolled insulin-deficient Type 1 diabetes. In the Type 1 diabetic, the absence of insulin leads to a toxic build-up of blood glucose and an extreme break-down of fat and muscle tissue. This condition doesn't occur in individuals who have even a small amount of insulin, whether from natural production or artificially administered.

    Dietary ketosis, however, is a natural adjustment to the body's reduced intake of carbohydrates as the body shifts its primary source of energy from carbohydrates to stored fat. The presence of insulin keeps ketone production in check so that a mild, beneficial ketosis is achieved. Blood glucose levels are stabilized within a normal range and there is no break-down of healthy muscle tissue.

    The most sensitive tests of ketosis ("NMR" and "blood ketone level") show that everyone is in some degree of ketosis every day, particularly after not eating overnight and after exercising. Ketosis is the body's survival system. It is not an abnormality nor does it present any medical danger, except to a Type I insulin-dependent diabetic. The body functions naturally and effectively while in a state of dietary ketosis.

    The danger of excess carbs, especially refined carbohydrates, is well known. Its no longer controversial or unproven. On the other threads, I have posted lots of evidence of the harm of carbs as well as the lack of evidence that saturated fats are bad.
  7. Nov 15, 2010 #6


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    That's true!

    Your body does need carbs. Your brain can only use those "ketone molecules" (I suppose you mean ketone bodies here) for about 40% of its energy demands. The rest must come through gluconeogenesis. Not all compounds are glucogeneic. Most amino acids are, but living of amino acids for the glucose needs stresses the body in other unhealthy ways. Namely, amino acid (protein) metabolism leads to increased BUN levels, which negatively affect both your kidneys and your liver.

    *Slight fyi gluconeogenesis is not the process of converting protein into glucose. It is the process of making glucose from any available carbon source. Glycerol, lactate, propinyl-CoA etc.

    Ketosis is when those "ketone molecules" is elevated. Its isn't a "good" or "bad" thing, but most often is a first indicator of a disease state. Ketoacidosis is when those "ketone molecules" get to dangerously high levels and begin to alter the blood pH. A diet of only animal fat is a sure way to end up here. Why?

    Because the regulation of ketone bodies is not as regulated as other metabolic cycles. The production of "ketone molecules", is for better or worse, controlled by the amount of available acetyl-CoA available in the mitochondrial matrix. An abundance of AcCoA will lead to KB formation, whether it is poisoning your body or not.

    AcCoA is the outcome of beta-oxidation of fats. So when your body is running B-oxidation, it naturally has an excess of AcCoA (important note here, CARBONS FROM AcCoA CANNOT BE USED FOR GLUCONEOGENESIS, the consequence of which means some substances, like lysine for instance, are ONLY ketogenic). In an evolutionary sense this makes "senses".

    If the body is starving then you are burning only fat stores for energy. This also means blood glucose levels will be low (hypoglycemic) and the brain and RBCs energy demands maybe in peril. Making ketone bodies in this situation then would be beneficial.

    The problem comes in disease states (extended starvation, anorexia, alcoholism, diabetes, or people who buy in too goofy diets) when KBs reach dangerous concentrations.

    Incorrect. As I pointed out the only thing that regulates how much KBs are being produced is AcCoA. Insulin, allows the uptake of glucose by cells with insulin-dependent GLUT receptors (such as muscle).

    Edit to add: I suppose you could make the argument that insulin indirectly contributes to KB production (rather the lack of insulin), because of the increase in glucagon/insulin ratio, which further activates HSL, thus raising even more blood FFA levels.

    Your blood glucose levels need to be maintained at about 90 mg%. Insulin only helps lower higher BGLs to this point. It does so by allowing cells such as muscle to take up glucose and by starting insulin-dependent cascades which result in the promotion of glycogen formation.

    Glucoagon is responsible for bringing your BGLs up to this level when they are too low. Muscle DOES NOT HAVE GLUCAGON receptors, so with a increased glucagon/insulin ratio the muscle will not uptake blood glucose stores. While other organs, like the liver will respond through glucagon dependent cascades (namely through PkA) to start gluconeogenesis.

    Your muscle glycogen stores run out very quickly (measured in the hours) and those metabolic end products (lactate) will be sent to the liver for gluconeogenesis. If you continue to not eat carbohydrates, the muscle will begin metabolize protein so that glucogenic amino acids can also be sent to the liver to raise and maintain blood glucose levels.

    At about this point, the continued exposure of glucagon will activate hormone sensitive lipase, which causes fatty acid metabolism to start. The elevated blood level rise of fatty acids induce carnitine transport in the liver, where b-oxidation will result in increased AcCoA and as discussed above, will increase KB formation. The point of the KBs is to protect against muscle protein catabolism. And ketosis.

    Continuing to not eat (or eat incorrectly) will result in even more fatty acid metabolism and even greater increases in KB formation and after extended periods of this ketoacidosis.

    As I pointed out, ketosis is just the rise in KBs which happens naturally as your glycogen stores are depleted. It isn't a "good or bad" type of deal, it is a "just is" type of deal. However as I also pointed out, continued poor nutrition or disease states leads to elevations of ketosis to ketoacidosis.

    Reading a "popularize of science book" (by a physicist too no doubt) isn't an alternative to medical education nor seeking real medical advice.
  8. Nov 15, 2010 #7
    How exactly does a fast provide rest and regeneration to an organism? This statement, to me, implies a deep misunderstanding of fundamental physiology. Can you clarify that statement please? It smells of popular diet book jargon.

    As for the second part of your question. Fat and water are not the only things your body requires. Amongst the more important molecules your body requires are electrolytes, micronutrients and proteins. Electrolytes imbalances can cause illness/death in hours to days whereas micronutrient and protein deficiency typically takes much longer (months) and aren't typically lethal but can cause serious illness and/or lower quality of life (at best).

    What unwanted aspects are you speaking of and what benefits do you feel fasting affords?

    I've been into Health and Nutrition since I was an overweight teenager trying to lose fat so I could score with chicks. In fact it was that motivation which exposed me to a good amount of physiology and biochemistry (and science in general) and which ultimately sparked an interest in science which has yet to be quenched, though I've strayed far from the health and nutrition arena of my youth. That was a decently long time ago. Lets just say I've been around the block when it comes to all sorts of diets.

    I've done everything from Straight/Cyclic/Targeted Ketogenic Diets, to Protein Sparing Modified Fasts, to Intermittent Fasting to Carb Cycling to just straight calorie deficits with balanced macronutrient profiles etc, High Carb/Low fat, High fat/Low Carb and many in between. Come to think of it, the only macronutrient I've never cut out was Protein which makes sense because I came from a bodybuilding backround.

    There is so much crap out there that if a person is not well versed in fundamental science then its almost impossible to tell the pseudoscience from the real science (euscience?). I'll just share a tidbit with you that most 'health/diet gurus' never will. Every single one of the diets that you ever read about will work. Fad diets trick you into eating less while telling you that you can eat as much as you want. Losing weight is a simple matter of calories in versus calories out. You create a caloric deficit via a)eating less or b)moving more and you will lose weight. The same can be said of any fad diet that is not necessarily promoting weight loss, but just good health. The easy part is following the '4 Phase Plan' as spelled out by the all knowing [insert guru here]. The tough part is actually maintaining a regimen which is both sustainable and healthy in the long run. The tough part is developing a balanced lifestyle which includes being 'mostly' healthy while maintaining your sanity at the same time. I say mostly because I've yet to meet a person, who is sane, who can really maintain one of those paleo-starvation-what-have-you diets 100% of the time for years on end. Everything in life is good for you, the key is knowing where/when/how to maintain the appropriate balance of the good-bad.

    General rule of thumb, if someone is telling you that their method is the best method for everybody, across the board and at the same time is trying to explain how everything everyone else is doing is bad and wrong and that you need to buy their 3 phase diet plan or whatever, run and hide. They don't know what the hell they are talking about or they know exactly what they are talking about but they really want to make some cash. With overweight and obesity rates sky rocketing in most developed nations, everybody is looking for that quick, easy, black and white type of answer. The problem is that nothing in reality is ever black and white. Reality, IMO, is pretty much all shades of gray.
  9. Nov 15, 2010 #8


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    Good post:biggrin:
  10. Nov 16, 2010 #9
    bobze, i'd like to see some evidence that increased protein metabolism is bad for your kidneys. just because an increased BUN reading could indicate a kidney problem does not mean that increased excretion of urea is going to do damage.

    in any case, if i were going to fast, i'd do a protein-sparing modified fast to control hunger and limit lean tissue losses. plus some fish oil for EPA/DHA and a multivitamin to limit nutritional deficiencies. it's no way to live, but then, neither is being obese.

  11. Nov 16, 2010 #10
    Clearing urea out of the blood is one of the primary functions of kidneys. High protein diets lead to higher quantities of urea being produced, leading to more load on kidneys, leading to their faster deterioration.

    There's plenty of evidence that high-protein diets are bad for people with some kind of preexisting kidney damage, even if it's mild, e.g.


    The effect on healthy kidneys is more controversial. Studies usually focus on short-term measurable effects such as the decrease in filtration rate, and that is not seen in people who switch to a high-protein diet. On the other hand, you're not going to find short-term measurable effects on the lungs in someone who starts smoking, either. And then at some point after 20 or 30 years the body reaches the limit and things start to break down.

    Back to kidneys, at least one study back in 1990 found that people from the top quartile by protein intake had double the risk of renal cancer compared to people from the bottom quartile. 2x is not much and this cancer is quite rare to begin with. But, on the other hand, this was long before Atkins became a fad, and quantities of protein consumed by modern low-carb dieters are probably unheard of by the standards of 1990. Could be a good idea to get into the dialysis business by the time early adopters of Atkins start getting into their 60's.
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  12. Nov 16, 2010 #11


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    Hello bobze,

    Damn, thats a long post :smile:

    I dont see you actually refute anything I said.
    First you (thankfully) move away from saying our body definitely needs carbs to agreeing that 40% of these carb needs can be met by ketones. You further agree that the remaining can be met by gluconeogenesis, although you quibble over whether all compounds are glucogeneic. I can live with you disagreeing over that. As long as we've busted the myth that the brain can function only on carbs and all those carbs have to come from diet. And we've busted that big time, thanks :smile:

    And re: the cliched claim that "amino acid (protein) metabolism leads to increased BUN levels, which negatively affect both your kidneys and your liver", Evidence please.

    You also agree that there is a difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis. Thank you. Most people who shudder at the word ketosis are misplacing their shuddering by understanding ketosis as ketoacidosis.
    But you seem too think that ketoacidosis is some progressively worse form of ketosis, which is not entirely correct.

    BTW here is a study that shows how "dangerous" ketosis actually is :wink:
    Ketones are a byproduct of fat metabolism, so if you follow any diet and lose weight (or lose weight due to other reasons), you will produce ketones.
    Maybe all the metabolic processes that lead to ketone production in ketoacidosis are present in ketosis, yet ketosis will not lead to an acidotic condition.

    Here's a lovely link that explains it well.

    Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is seen primarily in patients with type 1 diabetes. The incidence is roughly about 3% of type 1 diabetic patients going into ketoacidosis when their pancreas first shuts down, and they are first diagnosed as diabetic. It can occur in type 2 diabetic patients as well if blood sugar is very uncontrolled. It is a serious condition that occurs in uncontrolled diabetics when their blood sugar is extremely high AND the bicarbonate is low (<15 mEq/L), AND they are in acidosis (pH <7.30). A low carb diet would be an excellent idea to stabilize blood sugars.

    BTW not sure if you have read Dr. Bernstein. He has worked wonders in people with diabetes. With very low carb diets.
  13. Nov 16, 2010 #12


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    Yes, I know. All those who claim that high protien diets stress the kidneys run to these few studies, which are always about people with kidney problems :wink:

    In fact fitness experts have been trying to bust this myth for decades. They regularly eat high protien diets.

    Here's the abstract :
    The other myth is that high protien causes osteoporosis. Thats been debunked too.

    In fact our protien needs may have been underestimated. A 1994 study revealed the increased needs for the elderly.
  14. Nov 16, 2010 #13
    :facepalm Like I said, a 7-day study of the effect of protein intake on filtration rates among middle-age bodybuilders is not going find any more harm than a study of the effect of smoking on VO2max among the same group. (Studies were done, the impact of smoking is minimal.) That does not mean there's no harm done.

    What we really need is to look at the rates of chronic kidney disease and ESRD among the elderly (60+) and correlate them with (possibly self-reported) average lifetime protein consumption levels. We already know that a high-protein diet accelerates the progression from mild renal insufficiency to chronic kidney disease (link above) and from CKD to ESRD (http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/12/1986.abstract). All we need is to connect the dots: even assuming that renal insufficiency is equally likely to occur among Atkins followers and carb eaters, the former group is far more likely to end up on dialysis. But I'm not aware of such study. And the myth of safety of high protein diets lives on.
  15. Nov 16, 2010 #14


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    Its not only BUN levels, but blood acidity in general. On most western diets we are slightly acidotic because of increased protein consumption. Your kidneys are built with an excess of nephrons, which in most cases mitigate this acidosis. But the general effect is to require your kidneys to work harder.

    Increases in protein metabolism also lead to increases in ammonium excretion (through tubule lumen hydrogen ion loading), which is good because it reduces ammonia levels, but at the same time reduces concentration of final urine (not provisional, which remains isosmotic) and again requires more work on the kidney.

    The problem with kidney disease (as apparent to anyone who's studied renal physiology) is the excessive GFR (glomular filtration rate), which glomular function doesn't take a "dive" until we've reached around 15% of our glomular function.

    This is pretty basic medical renal physiology. For more information, I'd recommend https://www.amazon.com/Vanders-Rena...03X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1289927606&sr=8-1".

    *Just a note, I'm not saying "protein diets" are "bad", just as I was not saying that "carb diets" are "bad". We're far to individual for that. I will say, what I said a while ago, that if you really want a healthy diet you should seek to emulate that diet we evolved to eat. Namely, complex plant carbs in variety, lean meats and simple animal carbs and healthy animal fats. As Yanick pointed out though, the discipline required to adhere to such "stone-age" diets, is too much for most American's (and Westerners) in general, who live by the American motto of miracle cure-all's and get rich quick schemes.

    The reality in our modern setting is that hard work and discipline are required to maintain health, there is no free lunch.
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  16. Nov 16, 2010 #15


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    You seem to under the impression that I was arguing with you, I wasn't. I was simply pointing out incorrect things you've said-Either because you've never actually studied human physiology, nutrition and biochemistry or you've been led astray by the cognitive bias of any one of the million "eat this diet"-authors.

    First let's get some terminology straight (especially since you seem to advocate "accuracy"). "Ketones", any old ketone, is not usable by the body. Your body can only use "[URL [Broken] BODIES
    [/URL]. Of these only http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-hydroxybutyric_acid" [Broken] can be shipped around the body for a potential fuel source, where it is converted to acetoacetone then undergoes 1 round of B-oxidation to make 2 acetyl-CoAs. AcCoA is the ONLY ketone your body can use for energy production, which involves TCA cycle.

    Secondly; I pointed out that your body can use ketone bodies to meet some of the brains energy demands in my first post. SOME being the operative word here, accounting for 30-40%. Aside from that, the brain MUST have glucose. Your brain cannot meet its total energy demand for energy through KBs. IT WILL DIE WITHOUT GLUCOSE.

    The brain prefers glucose to all other energy sources, just as intestinal epithelium prefers to use Gln. Different tissues preferentially select carbon sources over others and removal of said sources leads to dysfunction of the tissue (and in some cases, such as the brain, to tissue failure).

    Again, as I pointed out, your brain must glucose. Gluconeogenesis is the livers process to increase blood glucose levels for the sake for your brain (and RBCs). It doesn't matter whether you get that glucose through ingestion (the body's preferred way) or through catabolism of other useful substances. The whole reason the body has gluconeogeneic enzymes is because of the brains requirement for glucose (a carb).

    Again, the most efficient way for the body to regulate blood glucose is through ingestion of glucose and storage as liver glycogen. If you disagree with this, please study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycogen_storage_disease" [Broken].

    This is basic renal physiology. As I pointed out above, to PS, increasing BUN, blood ammonia and blood acidosis stresses the kidneys, it increases their energy demands and causes long term changes to protein expression (namely NE3 and other such exchangers).

    As Hamster pointed out, its evident in people with decreased glomular function that high protein diets in individuals in diseased states suffer more because of this. As to the effect on "healthy" people, the long term trends remain to be seen. Again, I'm not advocating "against" protein as you seem to suggest. The only one here that seems to advocating (in a rather uninformed manner) against a "culprit" macronutrient are these get rich quick dieters. The bottom line is, your body needs all macronutrients to maintain a healthy balance.

    Again, if you want a healthy diet, try and emulate what we evolved to eat.

    For starters "most people" aren't aware of ketosis or ketoacidosis even are, so I fail to how they would "shudder". Secondly, I never said "ketosis" is "bad"-It is simply a reflection of the biochemistry of your metabolism. Namely, that you are doing elevated fatty acid catabolism.

    Elevated KBs isn't the "natural state" of the human body, it is an adaptation to decreased nutrition from starvation. KB levels don't rise to measurable amounts till around ~48h without proper nutritional needs.

    Ketoacidosis is the "outcome" of extended elevation of KBs in the blood plasma. This can result from a number of pathological conditions or from starvation conditions.

    Ketosis is like having acidosis. It is simply a reflection of the underlying biochemistry taking place. It isn't "good" or "bad", it simply is. It can be (just like acidosis or glycosuria or hypernatremia, etc) an indicator of biochemical processes in disequilibrium or potential problems yet to come (such as you're starving!). In itself it means little without a full history and clinical scenario.

    If by "ketones" you mean AcCoA then sure.

    BOTH ketosis and ketoacidosis are the result of elevated b-hydroxybuterate (and too a lesser extent acetone and acetoacetone) levels in the blood. The latter is a result of a pathological state of ketosis. Or in other words, in very elevated levels of those KBs.

    I don't need a "blog-spot" to explain them to me. As I pointed out in my "about me" post, I am a medical student, I've studied them more in depth than is offered on the "blog-spot".

    Low carb diets work in type II diabetics because in type II diabetics the natural response to insulin is still there, just resistant. By utilizing a low carb diet, you can increase the body's response to insulin and promote glucose-balance.

    Even more important than "low carb diets" in type II'ers is low caloric diets.

    Low calorie or low carb diets are NOT appropriate treatments for type I diabetics. Who have no basal insulin because of (most often) an autoimmune response against the pancreatic-beta cells. These people need insulin administered, and the different types of insulin (there are different biological half-life types, such as "long lasting insulin") and have to control their diets based on the peak-presence of insulin. However, with fast acting insulin and insulin-pumps becoming more prominent over the last 25 years, many of these people are free to lead a more "normal" life-style and diet. Though, since many of them tend to error on the side of hypoglycemia, it remains to be seen the long term effects of such a state and over the next couple of decades we'll undoubtedly see what affects this has, if any.

    I'm not sure why you are on a hiatus against "carbs" other than being suckered by diet gurus. For the 3rd time in one day, if you want a healthy diet, emulate what we evolved to eat. Which certainly includes carbs. The problems Americans are faced with isn't the "evil" carb, its the excesses of macronutrients and calories in general, coupled with a relatively inactive life-style. We want a lot for little investment and unfortunately, health doesn't work that way.
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  17. Nov 16, 2010 #16
    i'm not here to promote hi-carb/lo-carb/paleo/keto/etc. for the record, my personal bias would be a pretty balanced diet of lean meats, veggies, nuts, dairy, whole grains, fruits, fish, legumes, etc. with a good bit more exercise, and a slight bit more protein-% than the typical modern american diet.

    but the protein myth of destroying your kidneys is just that. and what constitutes "high" protein depends on who is perpetuating the myth (promoting veganism say, versus attacking bodybuilding or paleo nutters). at this point, as you guys have pointed out, all we have is a bunch of speculation, save some http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19917783" that no doubt clouds the matter in the minds of docs that have formed a bias.

    it would also be nice if the people that want to perpetuate the "protein is bad for your kidneys" myth would give a recommended upper limit, say in something like grams_protein/kilogram_bodyweight/day.
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  18. Nov 16, 2010 #17


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    Wow, you're saying everything Gary Taubes does :wink: He is not a diet guru BTW. His only interest in nutrition arose because someone pointed him out to the pathetic quality of the research there. Since you claim to be such an expert, I am sure you know about Ancel Keyes and the terrible myths he helped establish, which are still the key tenets used by the establishment and doctors. Its Taubes who opens our eyes to the tons of real research and evidence there. Like I've said zillion times on this very forum, his book is like a compilation of research.

    And most of the blogs I reference are written by doctors and experts in biochemistry. None of them are diet gurus. So even a well-intentioned medical student can learn something there :wink:

    We evolved to eat a lot of meat. And a few berries and tubers.
    There were no grains and no refined flour (or other refined carbs), sugar or HFCS for more than 90% of our evolutionary history. In fact, right upto the early 1900s, the common sense approach of weight loss was to avoid refined carbs and sugar. Its only after Keyes and a few others started spewing nonsense and the media gobbled it up that the tenets changed.
  19. Nov 16, 2010 #18


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    On the contrary what lives on is your myth, that high protein is somehow harmful. Unless you have some kidney problems to start with, there is absolutely no evidence that high protein is bad for you.
  20. Nov 16, 2010 #19


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    Well I don't know that is so much of a myth, as just a non-sequitur in the grand scheme of things; ie your more likely to die of something else before protein adversely affects your kidneys, baring degenerative renal disease. Remember we actually only need about 15% of our nephrons and since each kidney has about 106 nephrons, loosing some is hardly consequential.

    It is well known however that (again reference Vander's or another appropriate and authoritative source on renal physiology) that after increases in protein metabolism (such as eating a meal) glomerular hyperfiltration happens. Hyperfiltration leads to golmerular sclerosis. Namely because AA concentrations results in the transient elevation of GFR. Hence all those nephrologists proscribing low protein diets to patients with renal disease.

    However, as I pointed out, to a healthy individual this doesn't appear to be a big deal. The hyperfiltration is only transient and lasts for an hour or two. So that any sclerosis that does occur because of protein loading, has little effect in the grand scheme of things (a few nephrons, who needs 'em?)

    Remember, you can actually give away a kidney which is pretty amazing (probably not as amazing of the number of organs you don't need to survive. I mean really think about what do you need? A brain, which some people do fine without, a left ventricle, an atria, a kidney, a stomach, a third of a small intestine, a pancreas, a lung and half a liver--That's pretty interesting). So because of the excessive glomerular function, high protein diets (within a realm of reason) are probably of little concern (again, you're more likely to die from something else before it adversely affects glomerular efficiency).

    Edit to add; it would be an interesting "homework" assignment if anyone could find a cohort study comparing renal disease in people in the west (high protein diets) and people in developing countries (low protein diets). It would be interesting to note if the increase in life expectancy (something evolution clearly didn't plan for) is problematic with nephron destruction over the longer life span. With such a excessive amount of nephrons, I still would doubt that our GFR and glomerular function would be adversely affected--I don't think we've increased life-spans to such excessive amounts yet. Maybe one day, 10 generations from now, it will be more of a concern (assuming those future people can just make their own new kidneys :))
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Nov 16, 2010 #20


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    See the post above. Please reference a renal physiology text book. Not a blog.
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