Skip to main content

USDA Low Carb Dietary Guidelines: Not Only Misinformed but Dangerous

"Due to the mountain of evidence supporting low-carb diets, since 2012 I have  followed one to manage my own type 1.5 diabetes — which has characteristics of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. And I have helped countless patients do the same. If many of my patients and I consume more than 50 grams of carbs a day our sugar goes out of safe range, no matter how much we exercise — and I am an avid runner." 

If the committee moves forward with its potential “low-carb” definition in the upcoming 2020 guidelines, it will be a grave misstep. Labeling a diet that derives nearly half its calories from carbohydrates as “low-carb” is not only unscientific, it’s dangerous. Folks who follow this recommendation won’t see any of the benefits of a true low-carb lifestyle. Their health will continue to deteriorate — and they’ll dismiss “low-carb” diets as ineffective. - Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

Like Dr. Cucuzzella, I've been low carb (and intermittent ketogenic) since 2012, I've not strayed from the <20% carbohydrate percentage over the last 8 years, other than a short 4-6 month stretch. Low carb diet is an effective tool for many metabolic issues, psychological issues, and athletic performance improvements. There are many reasons to eat low carb and very few not to.

Now the USDA is considering adding low carbohydrate into its dietary guidelines. However, the USDA considers low carb 45%. No, that's not a typo. And yes, if you follow this page you probably know enough about nutrition to know that at 45% you are receiving zero benefits but perhaps the equivalent of tossing gasoline on a fire.

Eating a lot of carbs with a lot of fat? You have the macro nutrient equivalent of a birthday cake or a Twinky or a cheap low quality ice cream (high quality ice creams actually aren't all that sweet and are somewhat nutrient dense). The funny thing, I noted above a short 4-6 month or so stretch I was likely not low carb, I'd guess in that time I was no more than 30-35% carbs based on what I was eating in excess (mostly potatoes and ice cream). I won't take full credit for the dietary miscue, it was mostly medication induced, like a rodent to a salt wheel. Carbs were really good, and sweets were even better.

Now, before you panic, go back a few post on the CRC Facebook page to 2016 where I note that it's entirely possible to do quite well on a high carb diet in the absence of fat. The problem is, you can't mix the two. You can't have a high fat, high carb diet. This is called a high energy diet, and it's the absolute worst case scenario. No study has ever shown a high energy diet to be good for health, longevity, weight loss or any positive biomarkers. Basically, you are going to get fat and die. Eating Twinkies, milkshakes and cake are bad for you. No one is going to dispute this in a way that is sane. 

Dr. Cucuzzella makes some great points, and he's a real practicing MD, so he's seen low carb work in the real world on real people. He's also an athlete whom I've heard on multiple podcasts over the years, dating back to the days when I was a trail runner. Click the link and see what all the fuss is about.


Popular posts from this blog

Visceral Fat is not Subcutaneous Fat

Hmm... No. Both the photo and title are misleading. Visceral fat isn't the same as subcutaneous fat, which while not pretty, is relatively harmless provided it isn't excessive. Visceral fat on the other hand is fairly dangerous as it surrounds your organs and is a sign of metabolic disease and insulin resistance. The reseason visceral fat may be so dangerous vs subcutaneous fat is a regulartory molecule called TRIP-Br2. TRIP-Br2 is not found in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Oddly enough, TRIP-Br2 appears to block or prevent normal lipolysis. So, if you have lots of visceral fat, you might not be able to lose weight normally. This may explain why many people struggle with the viscous cycle of failure. Insulin resistance, inability to lose fat, and so on, are all tied together. This may also be why diets like keto (insignificant carb), carnivore (0 carb), low carb (<20% of your calories from quality carbs) work for people when the standard diets don't, even thou

Covid-19 Revelations: We Don't Need Gyms, We Never Did!

Insider I'm not sure how everyone else is doing during Covid-19, the lockdown and gyms being closed, but I'm personally down 12+lbs. True, some of that is muscle since I can't lift, but a lot of it was excess fat. The fact is, gyms are not always utilized correctly, and people can do better by getting proper exercise in the real world. The best use of a gym is inclement weather, week nights during the winter, or short duration high intensity weight training. Spending your weekends and even your summer week nights at the gym is a terrible way to get exercise. Walking (walking briskly or with a weighted pack if you feel walking is too easy, is still one of the absolute best forms of exercise in terms of risk vs benefits), hiking (even better than walking, introduces instability and elevation and usually involves that weighted pack), biking (mountain, road, gravel, even indoors - if you must), swimming (you don't need a pool to swim, open water is fun and free)

Muscle Mass and Cardiovascular Health, It's More Than Aerobic Exercise

The heart is the most important muscle in the body, and more than a half century after Dr. Kenneth Cooper's recommendations to train the heart via aerobic exercise -aka cardio- there continues to be evidence that this is not the most beneficial way to improve heart health or healthspan. This study looks at the benefits of increasing skeletal muscle mass specifically on heart health.  The study found participants in the highest skeletal muscle mass tertile (the people with the most lean muscle mass) had 81% (HR=0.85) lower risk for a CVD event (heart attack) as compared with those in the lowest SMM tertile.  One way to look at it, despite all the extra time spent running, it is sprinters who likely have healthier hearts than distance runners when muscle mass is factored in.  So even if you enjoy running for the pure joy of it, consider rebalancing a little more time to the weight room, your heart will appreciate it.