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The Low-Carb Scam

Could it be that there is a huge scam behind low carb? Low-carb diets are used to lose weight. And indeed: you lose weight. But are low-carb diets really that healthy? The other side is already talking about the low-carb scam. Because the arguments of the low-carb faction are not always understandable. Low carb is practiced particularly often to lose weight, as it is said that carbohydrates prevent any weight loss. Is that right? Or is it all just a hoax?

Is Low Carb a Scam?

Yes, there is the low-carb scam. However, it does not apply to every low-carb diet. Because there is no clear definition for low carb (low carbohydrates). And so there are countless diets on the vast market of nutritional forms – and they all want to be more or less low carb. So what is low carb?

Low carb diet – the definition

100 to 150 g of carbohydrates per day is already very low carb for many people who eat “normally”. With a slice of bread, a portion of muesli, and a small piece of cake, the quota would have been filled long ago.

And you haven’t eaten any noodles, potatoes, grains of rice, vegetables, yogurt, eggs (the yolk contains carbohydrates), nuts, legumes, or fruit. Not even a glass of wine is then possible, let alone a beer in the evening.

Nevertheless, such a low-carb diet can be designed to be healthy and balanced – and even vegan, as we have described here. However, many low-carb experts say that only with less than 50 g of carbohydrates per day can you enjoy all the benefits of ketosis. Ketosis is the metabolic state that you want to reach with the help of a low-carb diet.

In ketosis, the organism no longer obtains its energy from carbohydrates, but in particular, from fats, which of course – so it is said – should lead to weight loss very easily.

So with a consistent low-carb diet, you eat a few vegetables and a few berries. With that, the 50 g of carbohydrates have already been eaten.

How Much Protein Do You Eat Low Carb?

But you might think that you can eat plenty of proteins in a low-carb diet. Meat, meat, and more meat. Fish too, of course, but you have to be careful with cheese and dairy products because the lactose in them is one of the carbohydrates (KH) and must therefore be deducted from the 50-KH account.

But beware! Proteins shouldn’t be eaten without limits either. Admittedly, low-carb supporters preach how wonderfully satiating proteins are and how quickly you can burn fat with them.

However, if you eat too much protein, then – it is warned – you run the risk of some of the proteins being converted to glucose, i.e. sugar and thus pure carbohydrates, via so-called gluconeogenesis (glucose formation).

The very word “glucose” causes low carers to panic. Because glucose prevents you from getting into ketosis. If you are already there, the glucose can tear you out of the long-awaited ketogenic metabolic state.

According to Volek and Phinney – two researchers and authors who have been studying the effects of low-carb nutrition for decades – a well-composed low-carb diet should therefore look like this:

Low carb, high fat, and moderate protein, which means something like: few carbohydrates, lots of fat, and moderate amounts of protein

However, the term “moderate” is likely to be quite misleading for many people, especially for vegetarians living and thinking.

You shouldn’t consume more than 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (Typically 0.8 g/kg body weight is recommended).

Increased risk of cancer due to high amounts of protein in the low-carb diet?

High amounts of protein are generally discouraged because 25 studies by Dr. Campbell – co-author of the China Study – had unanimously found over the past 30 years that the risk of cancer increases with the amount of protein consumed.

In these studies, the fewest incidences of cancer were observed in individuals whose diet contained no more than 5 percent of the daily calorie intake in the form of protein.

If, on the other hand, you orientate yourself towards low carb, then you quickly cover 25 to 30 percent of the calorie quantity with proteins – which could enormously increase the risk of cancer. But low carb lowers the cholesterol level after all – isn’t that what they say?

Low Carb – Not required for healthy cholesterol levels

Yes, in fact, some low-carb studies have shown that low-carb can lower cholesterol levels.

However, in order to achieve a healthy cholesterol level, you don’t have to practice a conventional low-carb diet that consists primarily of animal products. On the contrary.

It has been known for almost 50 years that serum cholesterol levels can be significantly reduced by simply replacing animal protein sources with vegetable ones. It should even be irrelevant which carbohydrate source you choose and how much fat you eat with it.

Mountains of meat with low carb

So if you want to eat the above-mentioned 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight with low carb, that would be 140 grams of protein per day with a body weight of 70 kilograms. That’s already 700 grams of meat a day!

Anyone who still describes this mountain of meat – or even half of it – as moderate must have completely lost the measure of all things (see, among other things, below under “Low Carb – No Future”).

However, since proteins must not be used for energy supply in a consistent low-carb diet (danger of gluconeogenesis) and carbohydrates certainly not at all, another energy source is needed in order not to starve to death (after devouring 700 grams of meat).

And this source of energy is called fat, of course.

How Much Fat Do You Eat on Low Carb?

So low carb does not mean low fat, which many low carb beginners seem to believe and often only live on lean meat and a few leaves of lettuce.

Instead, if you say low carb, you also have to say high fat. This means that 50 to 60 percent of the daily number of calories should come from fat. According to Volek and Phinney, 70 percent is even better.

Of course, this only means healthy fats, namely saturated fats (that’s no typo!), monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fats.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils, on the other hand, should be avoided or reduced to a minimum if possible.

Great are u? a. fatty cuts of meat, lard, coconut oil, and olive oil.

The latter two are actually highly recommended. The organism can also cope with fatty meat and lard – once a week. But daily?

Lots of salt with low carb

It is also very important in the low-carb diet not to forget to add salt, at least that is what is advised in some places. This has the following background:

One of the main goals of a low-carb diet is known to be the reduction of insulin levels.

Insulin has many different functions in the body. So it doesn’t just take care of the transport of glucose into the cells.

A high insulin level also improves muscle growth, since amino acids from food reach the muscles faster under the influence of insulin.

Insulin also ensures that fat is stored and at the same time inhibits fat breakdown, which is why the goal of many dieters is to keep insulin levels as low as possible.

However, insulin is also responsible for sodium reabsorption in the kidneys, which means it prevents too much sodium – an essential mineral – from being excreted in the urine.

If the insulin levels are constantly very low, then very large amounts of sodium are also constantly excreted, and with the sodium also a lot of water – one of the reasons why newcomers to the low-carb diet lose a lot of weight so quickly at the beginning.

So the sodium level drops and the mineral balance gets out of whack.

The usual side effects of the disrupted mineral balance (but also of the switch to ketosis) are fatigue, headaches, constipation, and dizziness.

To get around this problem, you simply have to salt the food lavishly. However, this is not ideal for everyone, puts a strain on the kidneys, and can promote high blood pressure in people who are sensitive to salt – to name just two of the possible side effects of a high-salt diet.

The Promise of Low Carb – Nothing Special!

If you stick to all of the low-carb rules mentioned (and more), then you will be blessed with falling kilos, a radiant appearance, irrepressible joie de vivre, and the high probability of eradicating almost every disease immediately.

In sports, too, one will achieve such top performances that it is almost impossible to get off the podium.

So you have all the advantages that every other form of nutrition also promises – regardless of whether it contains many or few carbohydrates.

Yes, even the so-called high-carb/low-fat diet – which consists of exactly the opposite of a low-carb diet – apparently leads to powerful and healthy people with a balanced mind and a perfect appearance.

So how did low-carb advocates come up with the idea that low-carb could be healthier than carbohydrate-rich diets? Why do you think carbs are evil personified?

And that’s where the great low-carb or keto pope Atkins, as it is said, died with 117 kilograms and high blood pressure, quite overweight and suffering from heart disease.

Very easily:

Low carb meets the taste of the masses

It’s much easier for most people to believe (because easier to implement) that a diet high in meat, fish, cheese, and fat is healthy than a diet high in vegetables, fruit, sprouts, and salads.

The biggest challenge of a low-carb diet is to avoid bread and sweets. Everything else, however, remains roughly the same, while a wholesome and predominantly vegetarian diet requires a lot more changes.

Low-carb is compared to low fat

There are numerous studies showing that a low-carb diet can lead to greater weight loss and better diabetes outcomes than a low-fat diet.

However, the difference in weight loss is usually very small (only 4 percent more weight loss with low-carb in one study) and only in the first few months of the diet (after a year the weight loss in both groups is the same again. Of course, there are also studies that show the opposite, namely that you can lose weight better with low-fat than with low-carb (e.g. Cell Metabolism/study from August 2015: With a low-fat diet, there was a daily reduction of just under 90 grams of body fat, with the low-carb diet only a little over 50 grams).

But why is a low-carb diet compared with a low-fat diet and not, for example, with a natural high-carb diet rich in vital substances?

In addition, the question arises, how were both forms of nutrition structured? Low carb alone doesn’t say much, as we saw above.

Low carb can mean between 0 and 150 g of carbohydrates. Low carb says nothing about whether salads and vegetables are also eaten and nothing about how much of them.

Likewise, low fat can mean anything. For example, if you look at a nutrition plan from the German Society for Nutrition, which contains no more than the officially recommended 30 percent fat, then as a health foodie you lose your appetite and with such prospects, you prefer not to eat anything at all.

For breakfast, there is wholemeal bread (which would not be objectionable), but with margarine and jam, plus at least the only ray of hope, namely an apple and 3 slices of crispbread as a snack, before it gets a little more colorful at lunchtime with a vegetable rice pan. But in the evening it starts again with margarine bread, which this time can be topped with low-fat cheese and pickles.

All of that is low fat. But not healthy.

But why isn’t the low-carb diet compared to a diet that is actually natural and rich in vital substances with an excess of bases – which, by the way, doesn’t have to be low-fat to be healthy?

Low carb with side effects

Even if you lose more weight with low carb and diabetes gets better faster, what’s the use of all this if some people don’t feel well at all?

There are also studies that show that low-carb practitioners suffer from constipation or diarrhea, headaches, bad breath, muscle cramps, and skin rashes much more often than low-fat eaters.

Unfortunately, this is not mentioned in the study abstract. There you often only read about the positive aspects of low-carb nutrition.

It is also now known that children born to mothers who ate during pregnancy (including about 450 g of meat per day) are at higher risk of suffering from overproduction of cortisol and high blood pressure later in life.

Chronically elevated cortisol levels can cause many symptoms, such as B. Disorders in carbohydrate metabolism (insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes), muscle weakness, bone loss, menstrual cycle irregularities, potency problems, thin skin, and mental disorders.

Low carb lumps together all carbs, both good and bad

Animal studies, in which pure glucose is administered to simulate a high-carbohydrate diet, are also occasionally used to demonstrate the better effects of a low-carb diet. But what does pure glucose have to do with a natural diet containing carbohydrates? Nothing.

But this is where misunderstanding often occurs. Carbohydrates are often lumped together. Of course, isolated carbohydrate foods are bad and should be avoided. Isolated carbohydrates are found in white flour products such as baked goods and pasta, in cakes, snack foods, and biscuits, in white rice, and in sugar and sweets with sugar or other highly concentrated sweeteners.

But what speaks against moderate amounts of high-quality wholemeal products, potatoes, pseudocereals, etc., which are eaten as part of a diet that also consists of lots of vegetables, salads, sprouts, healthy oils and fats and – depending on taste – now and then with organic -Egg, fish or grass-fed meat can be added? Exactly, nothing!

If you want more details on good (healthy) and bad (unhealthy) carbs, and you’re interested in a list of the good and bad carbs, you can find them here: Pregnancy Low carb can be healthy, but it can also be harmful

Ultimately, there is not a single study that would prove that a low-carb diet would be better and healthier than a wholesome, natural, and predominantly vegetarian diet rich in vital substances made from regional and seasonal organic products.

Of course, a low-carb diet could also be wholesome, rich in vital substances, and predominantly vegetarian (if it can contain around 150 g of carbohydrates) – which we have already pointed out above.

However, a conventional low-carb/high-fat diet based on animal products and with a carbohydrate content of only around 50 to 80 grams is in most cases neither complete nor rich in vital substances nor particularly natural – and certainly not sustainable or environmentally friendly.

Because low carb is a diet without a future…

Low Carb – without a future

If every adult in the world were to eat low-carb and eat 700 grams of meat a day, that would mean 255 kilograms of meat per person per year and 1,400 million tons of meat for an estimated 5.5 billion adults in the world – not counting the low-carb eating children and adolescents.

Currently, around 290 million tons of meat are eaten worldwide every year.

So with low carb, we would have an almost 400 percent increase in meat consumption, a 400 percent increase in animal suffering, and a 400 percent increase in water and energy waste and environmental pollution associated with industrial animal husbandry – exactly what the meat and Dairy industry wants it, which is why it regularly “supports” numerous scientists with funding so that they can vigorously promote saturated fats in the form of meat, milk, and eggs. The aforementioned low-carb expert Jeff S. Volek is one of them.

How long do you think the earth could endure that?

Anyone who eats low carb lives according to the motto “After me the deluge”. Low carb is therefore a diet for people without foresight, but certainly not a diet with a future.

Since you can also become slim and healthy with a normal carb diet, i.e. a balanced diet that is as natural as possible and rich in vital substances with an excess of bases, there is not a single useful, i.e. convincing, argument for the extreme form of low carb diet could lead to choosing low-carb over another form of nutrition.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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