Why low carb?

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Why low carb?

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  • Daniel Phillips

    I think it’s accurate to say that most paleo people are low carb. Why is it that way?

    If we look at the Hadza (a hunter-gatherer people in Tanzania), we see that the men go out hunting and foraging, and the women go out foraging. They forage mostly for tubers and fruit.

    That seem to me that that would be a typical setup for hunter-gatherers. Every able-bodied person have to be employed in bringing in food.

    The availability of particular foods is often highly variable. Hunting is in general an unreliable business. Sometimes hunters will bring something back, sometimes they won’t. Both plant and animal foods are often seasonal.

    Therefore, the more sources of food, the better.

    When we are talking about food with respect to hunter-gatherers, the most important nutrients are the macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs). Or in other words, calories.

    Unless hunter-gatherers could rely mostly on meat, which is unlikely, many of their calories must have come from carbs.

    So, back to the modern day, those of us who try to approximate a paleo or ancestral diet should be eating plenty of carbs in the form of tubers and fruit.

     

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  • PG (Pierre-Guy) Veer

    I’m curious: how many cavemen remains have been discovered? According to one of the experts in Fat Head, most of them were massive and had healthy teeth, whereas those from the start of agriculture were weaker and had tooth decay.

    Yes, primitive humans did eat carbs, as sweet is one of the primal tastes. However, science knows that you can get their nutrients in lower-carb veggies.

    Plus, the wheat we have today is nothing like the one of centuries past. Norman Burlog created a kind that’s shorter and grows quicker… but was it more nutritious? It did save millions (if not billions) of humans; maybe it would give them a chance to find better food

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      Daniel Phillips

      Yes, but I was talking about tubers (that is, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.) and fruit, not grains. Grains are a neolithic food, so they are not paleo.

      (Scientists did find evidence of grain consumption among the Neanderthals, but to me common sense says that grains couldn’t have been a staple food for them.)

      So here is the question again, rephrased slightly: If people in paleolithic times evolved to eat carbs (which I think is highly likely), then why are so many proponents of paleo diets these days so resolutely anti-carb?

      (You can’t get all the nutrients from non-starchy vegetables, by the way. In particular you can’t get appreciable amounts of sugars from them.)

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    Sean Ridlon

    I have never considered myself “paleo” but I did lose 75 pounds by eating only meat, no sugars, no breads, no pasta, no potatoes. It was pretty easy but I ate cooked stuff so I’m not sure if that’s paleo or not.

    I hunt. I farm. I kill a moose most years, and catch fish.

    I have three hogs in my freezer and goats, sheep, and a cow in the pen right now.

    I don’t want to go back to cave man times, so I’ll share an anecdote with y’all: my animals eat grains and grasses; I eat the animals.

    Grains, grasses, and tubers are slave food. The people of quality always ate meat while the field hands ate grits, oatmeal, corn pone, gruel, tortillas, hominy, and the like. Meat is luxury and living high in the hog requires a hog.

    I think grasses and grains are comfort foods I grew up with but it’s cheap filler.

    Give me a chop any day. And I lost a bunch of weight doing it.

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      Daniel Phillips

      Low carb can be good for weight loss for some people because they will spontaneously eat less calories on it. Whether or not it is healthy in the long term is another question. I tend to think it isn’t. I believe it will raise cortisol levels for many people, which isn’t healthy. I will however grant that some people seem to do fine on it.

      “Slave food” doesn’t mean a lot from a nutritional point of view. I would note that the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt had heart disease. They certainly weren’t slaves. I’d also note that the longest living, healthiest people in the world have been peasants who ate high carb diets (for example the Okinawans and the Kitavans).

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    Richard Masta

    The paleo world seems to be splitting into two larger groups right now: the ketogenic crowd and the Carbs Are Okay crowd. The latter group is also the “resistant starch” crowd. Someone who identifies as paleo needs to acknowledge that there are Carb eaters in the movement, or they misunderstand their own label. I agree that low carb for a while to lose weight is quite fine (and possibly necessary) but a healthy human can eat all the complex carbs his body lets him. If he’s healthy, he’ll stop eating because he’s satiated. That’s that.

    I do think that microbiome can play a role in certain types of people (like the hadza) digesting certain macros (like carb or fat). Maybe if you find a low-carb tribe and stuff their face with tubers they might not handle it well. It’s all so fun to think about !

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