The Low-carb Confusion

I have 2 facts for you. Fact number 1 is most adult humans are pre-diabetic to some extent. The second fact is most adult humans still confuse a low-calorie diet, a Keto diet, and a low-carb diet. A Keto or a ketogenic diet is inherently a low carb diet, but a low carb diet may or may not put you in a state of ketosis. An unrestricted carbohydrate, low-calorie diet shall never shift the metabolism into a ketogenic state.

Keto and low-carb gained popularity because both address the primary health dilemma of modern humans, which is insulin resistance. When carbohydrates are consumed, especially sugar, insulin, the primary storage hormone, is released. Modern humans adapted to become better at storing calories consumed than to burn those calories. Unfortunately, the ability to mobilize and burn fat correctly was sacrificed in the process.

Excessive amounts of nutrients, especially sugars, force several tissues to become resistant to the actions of insulin to protect themselves. Free glucose tends to bind with cellular protein structures and cause all kinds of damage.

Insulin resistance and subpar partitioning occur both in people with functional beta cells and those who suffer from type 1 diabetes. So a type 1 diabetic can also be a skinny fat bad partitioner.

Keto or ketosis or a ketogenic diet describes a physiological state or a method to get into that physiological state. What happens is shifting from utilizing carbohydrates to a prominent fat utilization for energy state. When most of the energy is derived from fat, the liver produces ketone molecules which are byproducts of fatty acids processing. It is essential to understand that unless you have type 1 diabetes, even if you fast for a month straight, the beta cells in your pancreas will still release a baseline amount of insulin. Without this baseline insulin release, the ketones concentrations will rise uncontrollably into dangerous levels; a condition referred to as ketoacidosis. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes should NEVER attempt stopping the use of insulin, especially the long type, even when following a zero-carb lifestyle.

The Low-carb Confusion. (Adobe Free Photos)

Insulin resistance and subpar partitioning occur both in people with functional beta cells and those who suffer from type 1 diabetes. So a type 1 diabetic can also be a skinny fat bad partitioner. On the other end of the spectrum, a type 1 diabetic can be an excellent nutrient partitioner with athletic body composition and need much fewer insulin units per day to control blood sugar compared to other type 1 diabetics.

For people with functional beta cells, when the measurable concentration of ketones gets above a certain level, they’ll be predominantly burning fat, which is ideal for losing weight and reversing insulin resistance. Sedentary individuals need to stay under 30 grams a day of net carbs to achieve and remain in ketosis.

The concept of net carbs is simple but can become a slippery slope. Net carbs are the number, usually in grams, that remains after deducting the amount of fibers from the total amount of carbohydrates in a portion. The assumption is that fibers are indigestible, and therefore, no absorption occurs, which translates into no effect on blood sugar and no insulin response.

If you have read some of my previous English articles or watched some of my videos in Arabic, you probably realize how ridiculous this assumption is. We are much more than an insulin response. However, and for the sake of delivering some knowledge, let’s assume that the hypothesis is correct. After all, insulin is a master hormone.

If your fat intake is substantially higher than your protein intake and your net carbs remain under 30 grams per day for a few consecutive days, the shift into the ketogenic state will occur. There are exceptions; some people should have to go for longer or restrict their net carbs intake to almost zero. This article shall not explain the reasons for that.

Nowadays, the carbohydrate consumption of sedentary people is more than most high-caliber athletes need

On the obsolete calories count, 30 grams of net carbohydrates equates to 120 Calories. If we compare that to the 60% of Calories from carbohydrates recommendation adopted by mainstream health authorities in America, we’ll see a huge difference. For instance, if a sedentary person on the red side of the Nutrient Partitioning Spectrum that decides to cut down calories consumes 2500 Calories per day, 1600 of those should come from net carbs, which converts back into 375 grams. That is 12.5 times as much!

Nowadays, the carbohydrate consumption of sedentary people is more than most high-caliber athletes need, adding that those athletes are on the purple side of the spectrum, i.e., extraordinary partitioners. As a result, the person in the example mentioned above can initially lose body fat, reaching an inevitable plateau.

Surely consuming that much excessive carbohydrates would create problems sooner or later. Add to that the fact that most of the food consumed today is processed; lots of sugar and lots of chemicals. As much as 60% of carbohydrates consumed are sugars. Sugar is added to ketchup, cookies, baked goods, and salad dressings. Then there’s the issue of high fructose corn syrup. An active, healthy person with favorable nutrient partitioning tolerates, for the most part, a relatively high level of carbs, and the recommendations for whole foods and cutting down on the sugar is fine. The problem is that most people are not active, healthy people with a blessed nutrient partitioning. So for most of us, any carb source should be treated like sugar and avoided most of the time.

over 75% of inhabitants of the western world are insulin resistant

Irreversible damage to the liver is thought to be an intermediate step on the path to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Sugar is processed mainly by the liver, causing stress to the organ. Consuming large quantities of sugars day in and day out since early childhood will eventually overwhelm the liver, and we develop fatty liver and insulin resistance. When that finally happens, the carbohydrate processing machine fails, and now we have to become much more drastic in our choices. There’s no turning back after the machinery breaks down. There’s a difference between maintaining something and reversing the damage. Most of us have become highly insulin resistant for extended stretches, making the damage permanent. According to reliable sources, over 75% of inhabitants of the western world are insulin resistant. Some form of keto or low carb becomes the only lifestyle option available.

The Low-carb Confusion. (Adobe Free Photos)

A ketogenic diet is defined by most keto followers as 70% of the calories coming from fats and less than 5% from carbs with the rest from proteins. If the fat is dropped to around 40% and the lost energy is substituted by carbs, that would become the WORST diet model. Unfortunately, most research that demonizes low-carb/high-fat diets is not really low-carb enough or high-fat enough which makes the conclusions of hundreds of such research papers worthless.

Sadly, most people think that low carb is anything less than the modern diet. Many people believe that the modern diet is regular or balanced because that’s what they’ve been eating all their life for the last couple of generations. They don’t know anything else, so they think low carb is anything less than that, which is not the case, and the aforementioned worthless research papers when published as news titles only add to the misinformation. To reverse insulin resistance, to effectively regain metabolic health, and to change body composition, a maximum daily amount of about 100 grams of net carbs is low-carb. Generally speaking, a daily intake between 30 grams and 100 grams is considered low-carb according to the low-carb community and below that is keto. However, these are not carved in stone rules. If, for example, someone does 45 minutes of intense cardio twice per day and does not consume any fructose, that person will attain and remain in a ketogenic state even if the daily net carbs surpass 100 grams.

My Nutrient Partitioning Spectrum theory explains why a few people can tolerate as many carbs as they wish without the slightest problem, while the rest of us are spread on a continuum with some who cannot tolerate carbs at all. Type 2 diabetes is the red end of this continuum.

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