I’m not a scientist, I’m a lowly little Personal Trainer and Massage Therapist. I don’t perform studies (other than my N of 1 ones), I don’t write research papers, I don’t have a degree in anything health related.
What I do do is read a lot. Blogs (I’ve got a few of them listed in my blogroll), news articles, and most importantly, science. I try to find and read as many sides of an issue as possible.
And one thing I have, that a lot of people don’t, is an ability to think critically.
There’s a Diet War going on out there. One faction would have you believe that primitive man spent most of his time lolling about the savannah, working on his tan, only getting up off his ass long enough to throw a spear at a passing buffalo, then sitting back down to gorge himself and get back to the serious business of lazing about. Sounds pretty idyllic. Sign me up! Oh yeah, and that buffalo was made out of bacon.
Building on this belief system, they argue that modern humans are therefore primed for a life of blogging and bacon eating. It’s the true path to optimal health! See, our bodies are made to sit and eat fat, so when we eat carbohydrates, everything goes haywire. Insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, cancer, DEATH.
‘Course, there’s all that pesky scientific data that suggests that increasing physical activity improves metabolic function (don’t believe me? Google ‘exercise and insulin resistance’, or check out my pinterest board on the topic). How can that be, if the body’s natural state is lolling about the savannah? If our bodies are designed to sit, why would moving improve metabolic function?
Do you REALLY believe primitive man spent most of his time on his ass? I don’t, not for a minute. I believe primitive man spent most of his time on the move. I believe the human body’s natural state is one of almost constant motion. When we move, we metabolize carbohydrate just fine. In fact, science holds carbohydrate is the brain and muscles’ preferred fuel (yep, I’m aware of the studies that suggest otherwise. Guess what? So far, they’re outliers). ‘Course, if we’re not moving, carbs can cause problems. But is eliminating carbs the answer? Only if you believe our bodies are designed to sit all day. If you believe that our bodies are designed to move, then eliminating carbs is a band-aid. A band-aid that might allow you to sit on your ass a few more years before disease sets in, but that ultimately doesn’t address the CAUSE of the disease: exercise deficiency. That’s right folks, I’m calling it like I see it: Metabolic Dysfunction is a disease of exercise deficiency, not of carb intolerance.
“But modern lifestyles make adequate exercise nearly impossible!” they claim. Bullshit. I have kids, a job, a household to manage, and a social life, and I am able to include adequate exercise into my daily routine. I also manage to maintain a blog! Yes, you too can blog AND exercise.
“But only young people and endurance athletes can eat carbs safely!” they counter. Bullshit, again. I’m 40. I exercise 30 minutes a day on average.
“But…but…some of us are so damaged by obesity and the Standard American Diet that we simply can’t ever eat carbs again!”. Bullshit, times 3. I was obese for 3 decades. At 35, I had a whole laundry list of metabolic issues: PCOS, high blood pressure, blood sugar regulation control problems, low HDL, and obesity (not to mention depression, panic attacks, migraines, hair loss, cyctic breasts and acne and much, much more). I reversed it ALL while eating carbs.
Ask yourself: which is more likely the natural state of the human body:
a. sitting and eating only one or two macronutrients, to the exclusion of thousands of edible energy sources
b. moving and eating whatever is easiest to find (which, where I live, would be mostly plants, with some rodents, insects and perhaps an occasional bit of larger game thrown in to supplement)
I choose b, and live accordingly (minus the rodents and insects). And you’ve seen my pictures. I suspect I look a lot more like the mythical Grok(ette) than most basement dwelling, bacon eating bloggers.
Love it Girlfriend. What a fun read. I googled “low carb rant” and your blog post came up. I am a low-carber myself but only compared to my former high carb life. I am eating as many veggies as I can and good fats and love my protein. I miss processed foods so I “cycle them”… that is my way of explaining that I fall off the wagon regularly but only for an occasional treat. What I love about you and your site is that you are NOT a scientist. You’re a gal who has figured out what works for you and is sharing common sense.
I am sending you positive energy via the internet!
Keep up the great stuff.
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I love this… but in full disclosure, I’ve been overweight all my life until I woke up a couple of years back.
I’ve lost 153 pounds on the ketogenic diet. I really don’t think carbs are the enemy, it’s usually how people mix carbs and fats that makes things bad.
I lost that much weight by exercising (weight lifting) 6 days a week, and biking close to 70 miles a week.
I switch my diet and introduce carbs every couple of months or so.
Great rant. My goal in losing over 50 pounds was to get to the point where I could DO STUFF, not sit around and pontificate on the merits of various and sundry macronutrient ratios. Seems to me that most of the gurus out there do nothing but tap away at their computer keyboards.
If you actually DO STUFF then carbs are a damned fine thing to eat.
I eat VLC, keto style diet. I do not eat bacon all day long. I do not mainline cream. I don’t big macs without the bun. I mostly eat dairy, organic eggs, grass fed beef and almonds.
My issue with this “diet war” is that those of the people who are pro-starch have to characterize those of us who don’t as if we are somehow deluded and as if we all we want to do is bathe in lard. I am an ACTUAL obese person, with ACTUAL bipolar disorder, and ACTUAL PCOS. I feel like a normal person on keto. So many of my symptoms clear up when I eat this way. Do you know what it is like to not be a slave to your mood or blood sugar? To have energy? To not want to kill yourself every minute of every day? I am super active, live in urban environment, and walk everywhere. It is life or death, not vanity weight or self-hatred. So that is why some of us treat it like a war. Because it is.
Yes, low-carb diets are perfectly adequate for controlling the symptoms of insulin resistance.
Not sure if your use of capitalized ACTUAL is meant to imply that my own PCOS, depression, metabolic dysfunction and obesity were not ACTUAL PCOS, depression, metabolic dysfunction and obesity?
I do, in fact, know what it is like to not be a slave to my mood or blood sugar, to have energy, and to not want to kill myself every minute of every day. I know what those things are like because I have normal insulin sensitivity and healthy metabolic function, now, and all my previous illness and dysfunction have resolved. I remember all too well what it was like living that way, and am glad I never need to again.
I was very active too, by the way. I chased two small children around and walked a lot (also live in an urban environment, within walking distance to just about everything, and I DID walk). It wasn’t until I started getting my heart rate up for 30+ minutes a day through dedicated *exercise* that I started to see improvements in my functionality. And those improvements were breathtaking. And then when I added in weight training my whole world changed. I’m HEALTHY now. Not just dealing with my symptoms.
I work as a bookkeeper and I sit for at least 8 hours a day. I try to get up and move at least every hour, and I often stand in front of my computer or when I’m on the phone. I just started a bootcamp that I do for one hour every morning monday through friday. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep my metabolism going while I am at work sitting for so long. I do believe it is the reason I have gained so much wait, and I absolutly HATE sitting for so long. Should I reduce my carb intake because of this? I have no clue what to do.
Hi Stephanie, are you at a healthy weight? I always recommend standing stations to my ‘desk jockey’ clients, I think that simple change will make a huge difference. Weight lifting helps increase lean muscle mass which will have a beneficial metabolic effect, and lastly, I suggest my client find ways to be active a few times an hour, the simplest way is to get up and do a few burpees. I’ve heard people scoff at these seemingly small changes, but honestly I think small changes add up to huge positive effects!
I am one of the confused ones….I have always been the “fat girl”. I have been on my “fitness journey” for around a year now with lots of progress. I agree that when folks talk about “carbs” and if they are good/bad I always think of bread, cake and pasta. I have been moving towards a paleo/primal diet (can’t figure out what the difference is between the two), only to find that my green smoothy in the morning – made with fruit, greens, water and some GofL Protein powder (thanks Kaleo) has enough “carbs” to put me over the “optimum range” according to primal. I want to do what is best for me, I have a lot of momentum right now, but all the “advice” is really tough (as was the week I ate only raw for an experiment). Right now I am sticking with whole foods including meat. I appreciate all the information you share as well as your take on the data! Thank you for “keeping it real”
I think real carbs get lumped in with the junk “food” stuff that’s made in a factory.
This seems to be causing much confusion.
I mostly agree with you. I get a lot of people asking me if fruit will make them fat though, so I don’t think confusion about processed carbs is the whole story. Thanks for the input!
I loved this post.
I hurt my knee a few years ago and was pretty much unable to even walk properly for a year (until I had the reconstructive surgery and then it took me a year to be able to straighten/bend my knee more than 45 degrees). Up until that point I was an athlete who worked out a minimum of 4 hours a day, on top of all my school work. I did find that cutting carbs helped a bit when I was unable to move around, but I still gained weight (fat) and I know that it was largely due to not exercising and still being used to an athlete’s calorie intake.
I like that you call BS on 'But modern lifestyles make adequate exercise nearly impossible!' I work a min of 10 hrs a day (sadly at a desk job) but I rock climb every day at lunch (for the past year) and hit the gym 3 times a week and recently I’ve taken up bikram yoga at night, which is an every day thing. I still manage to see my dogs, my boyfriend, maintain a social life, sleep 8 hours a night and grocery shop. I think people would just rather watch TV for 5hrs and disconnect from reality. I know that’s all I wanted to do when I hurt my knee.
I’d love to see a post on how much cheaper it is to buy healthy foods than it is to eat burgers and fries every night. People keep telling me “It’s cheaper to eat McDonalds than to eat healthy!” and it’s driving me insane.
Shannon, thanks for the reply! Have you seen this recent New York Times piece on the price of real food vs. junk food?
My husband works a desk job and has never been a fan of 'exercise' (although he has always been active, even athletic). He's recently started doing some basic army-style exercises whenever he can fit them into his work day. Anyone can do it!