The Case for a High-Carb/Low-Fat Diet

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
This also makes no sense. ... You're arguing against science...
You're arguing against people with lots of knowledge and experience, including but not limited to some of what Pavel Tsatsouline has written, and @kennycro@@aol.com, and @Al Ciampa. Speaking for myself as a non-scientist, I trust - highly - the latter three opinions of what science says. I don't mean to sound harsh, but there's lots of "science" on these subjects, and none of it is completely conclusive as to how one ought to eat and how one ought to train.

The people with whom you're disagreeing have earned more respect from most of us on the forum than you have shown towards them in this thread, in my opinion, and I wish to register my objection to that as a long-time member of and frequent contributor to this forum. You're entitled to your opinions; so are they.

-S-
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
The only idea I feel obligated to submit is: deconstruction should not be viewed in the vacuum created by it.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
The people with whom you're disagreeing have earned more respect from most of us on the forum than you have shown towards them in this thread, in my opinion, and I wish to register my objection to that as a long-time member of and frequent contributor to this forum. You're entitled to your opinions; so are they.

-S-
With all respect, I am not blanket disagreeing with anyone but Kenny when he is discussing the dynamics of "metabolic flexibility", and that's as far as I'm willing to go on the topic, directly related to the OP. I am giving common examples and refer to peer reviewed research, not to mention examples from competitive sports. I realize there are many strategies for achieving good general athletic performance and fewer strategies as the demands become more specific.

I don't believe this is a disrespect to anyone's views or experience, whatever they are. At no point did I tell anyone they're training or eating sub-optimally - which is what I get constantly from K, even though it should be obvious there are many ways to approach this, and even on the forum we have a wide variety of thought and practice in this regard.

I am not claiming a "right or wrong" or "my way is proven and yours is not", which is exactly what I'm getting back. The OP started a discussion and this is where the back and forth took it. I don't feel as though I'm asserting anything speculative here either. I apologize for the tone that has developed between Kenny and myself, and I apologize to anyone who might feel disrespected by my responses as I definitely did not intend anything of the sort. I will henceforth try to do a better job of identifying and avoiding participation in conversations that might turn controversial as a result.
 

LukeV

More than 300 posts
You're arguing against people with lots of knowledge and experience, including but not limited to some of what Pavel Tsatsouline has written, and @kennycro@@aol.com, and @Al Ciampa. The people with whom you're disagreeing have earned more respect from most of us on the forum than you have shown towards them in this thread, -S-
Arguing with people with (supposedly) lots of knowledge and experience is surely what this forum is all about and I didn't have a problem with what North Coast Miller had to say or how he said it (particularly in the context of Kenny's typical combatative tone which I also don't have a problem with). What's the actual ruling here, Steve?
 

ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I don't see how aerobic efficiency, alactic work sets are in conflict with anything related to whether or not you eat bananas.
The thread: the case for high carb - people have different ideas of what this means. And how that definition fits a given population. And how that population functions with its socio-cultural norms. And within all that, what sort of foods people eat.

To be clear, at least how I interpret this - high carb to me means a certain percentage of the food you eat comes from carb. I don't know what that figure should be or what other people think it should be. And I view it from a basis of percentage - that being a certain amount of energy that meets your daily energy requirements, more or less.

It is more than clear there are many strong opinions, beliefs and ideas related to food, especially so carb v fat. I would like to have a grown up conversation about it but it never happens because of the aforementioned beliefs and attitudes that exist (baffling in itself but still).

So we could turn to science. There have been many studies and broadly speaking there is scientific consensus that approximately 40-50% of daily energy needs are met by carbs from whole food sources. Yet that alone will set keto types and low carbers frothing at the mouth. Why - why such denial? So we get: rubbish science, just observational studies, meaningless drivel propping up big sugar etc etc.....and within the 'rubbish science' there is a broad agreement among nutritional scientists that this is the best science has to offer due to the inexact methods of data collection. And food scientists themselves, across many domains, agree with that - openly raising doubt AND given that doubt reach 'a broad consensus' that 40/50% offers a reasonable guideline for public health, globally, not just in America, or the West but all populations, generally.

So you could argue the toss over that, as often happens but it is what it is. So if 'it' isn't that then, was is 'it'?
'It' will be different according to many variables but broadly if that is an accepted average, following a bell curve model as 50% representing the middle with a 25 at one end and a 25 at the other. We could assume 25% of people may favour, out of choice/circumstance a lower carb intake, the other 25% a higher percentage from carb out of choice or necessity, with outliers at the extremes, again out of choice or circumstance. All energy from fat v all energy from carb.

I would really like someone who could offer up another suggestion, or to assume a different model. Still, being reasonable hopefully, that isn't controversial but maybe it is.

If follows then that in response to a 'case for high carb' that would relate to those with higher activity levels perhaps, those who indulge in frequent athletic activities. And if so, then there is an assumption that they are healthy or at least striving to be healthy....if we assume that exercise is healthy. Or, you could argue, maybe not by percentage but just greater energy demands - 40/50% of 2000 cal, or 40/50% of 3500 cal.

I would like to know what is offensive or anti-science about this presentation of consensus driven science?

I'm a big fan of Pavel's work and Al's work. Seeking to minimise stress given the stress of training, placing health first to seek higher levels of performance are central to my philosophy, as they are for many, if not all here. My criticisms and others' criticisms of the keto diet are not in conflict with that model at all. Not one bit. Many high level athletes function perfectly well fueled by carbohydrates. It is well documented. Many non athletes are very healthy fueled by carbohydrates. It is well documented. What's keto got to do with it?

Now that's a view that doesn't fit the keto narrative.
Which is just tough. Nor does it fit with the pseudo-science promoted by Mercola, the primal coconut coffee internet health quacking nonsense. I'm fine with that because most, not all, of what they claim is bollocks and marketing blatherskite, to use an appropriate SF word of the day.

But if that view is in any way conflicting with Strongfirst then I've misunderstood the message.

It is Easter and I'm off to eat some chocolate.
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
Admittedly, I haven’t read the entire thread. To respond the OP, there are only plants and animals in the natural human food chain. Some of us do better with more plant, others with more animal. Fasting is probably the magic key. Percentages are crap. You have to discover what works for you, and this can change over time.

The options comprise quite a simple list; society has made this endeavor far more complex than it actually is. Science supports just about any opinion if you look hard enough. Your own experience is not likely to be misleading.
 

Dekapon

Triple-Digit Post Count
there are only plants and animals in the natural human food chain.
...
Science supports just about any opinion if you look hard enough.
First of all, you're forgetting bacteria and fungi.

And no, Science is facts and critical thinking. You can find a blog post proving something with a quote out of context from a very small questionable scientific survey to prove your point, but it's not science.

It's getting more clear to me that this is a religious philosophical discussion.

This sort of "science" is like: "Many people say eat only fat and protein. Carbs are bad! Sugar is a carb. All sugar is bad, most of the worlds sugar come from Brazil. Therefore Brazilians are bad. FACT!"
Top Sugarcane Producing Countries

I'll get my science somewhere else.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
I'll address your second point first.

... I didn't have a problem with what North Coast Miller had to say or how he said it (particularly in the context of Kenny's typical combatative tone which I also don't have a problem with). What's the actual ruling here, Steve?
There is no "ruling" here. It can be awkward for me to express an opinion on something, especially when it's something I don't like for reasons related to our forum guidelines but something that hasn't risen to the level of requiring action on my part - but that's what I've tried to do in this case, express my opinion.

There is a big difference between accusing someone of "arguing against science," and putting it another way, e.g., "my reading of and understanding of the studies I've read on this subject disagrees with yours, and my experience disagrees with what you're saying as well." "We don't say you're wrong ..." doesn't only apply to how we talk about those with whom we compete in the marketplace.

Arguing with people with (supposedly) lots of knowledge and experience is surely what this forum is all about ...
I respectfully disagree. This forum exists for us to help each other become stronger. Part of the higher purpose of strength is in how we treat each other, and in particular, bending over backwards to treat others with respect. On this forum, I ask that everyone err on the side of "measure twice, cut once", as carpenters say - the words you post here are permanent, and expressing exactly what you're thinking and feeling isn't the most important thing. Please reread and edit your posts, as often as necessary, before pushing the Reply button.

Next to the last, and not least, and lest you think I'm taking the side of @kennycro@@aol.com and/or @Al Ciampa, both can verify that I have moderated their posts, too, when I felt they weren't in keeping with our standards.

And lastly, my actions as moderator here take many forms, including but not limited to some things that most of you don't ever see. Sometimes I'll just PM a person to express my concerns and do this without making any "ruling," and at other times, before saying or doing anything, I will solicit the opinions of those with whom I work at StrongFirst, a group of people I consider to be of the highest character, and each of whom I hold in very high esteem.

-S-
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
First of all, you're forgetting bacteria and fungi.

And no, Science is facts and critical thinking. You can find a blog post proving something with a quote out of context from a very small questionable scientific survey to prove your point, but it's not science.

It's getting more clear to me that this is a religious philosophical discussion.

This sort of "science" is like: "Many people say eat only fat and protein. Carbs are bad! Sugar is a carb. All sugar is bad, most of the worlds sugar come from Brazil. Therefore Brazilians are bad. FACT!"
Top Sugarcane Producing Countries

I'll get my science somewhere else.
What I said is that science (facts and critical thinking) can be found to support just about any opinion (not facts and usually lacking in critical thought).

I take your point about bacteria and fungi. More humans should be concerned with the former.

I agree... most public nutrition discussion quickly degrades down to opinion and personal philosophy.
 
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Dekapon

Triple-Digit Post Count
Next time, comprehend before responding. I said that science (facts and critical thinking) can be found to support just about any opinion (not facts and usually lacking in critical thought).
I did comprehend and stand by my words. Science can't prove "anything you want to make a point". That is the stuff of conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, deceit, magic tricks and straight out lies.
The "science" that flat-earthers use is not science, and definitely not critical thinking, trying to prove the earth is flat.

But lets be friends.:)

Fungi are fascinating by the way, shame they're not talked about more in nutritional and health discussions.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
I did comprehend and stand by my words. Science can't prove "anything you want to make a point". That is the stuff of conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, deceit, magic tricks and straight out lies.
The "science" that flat-earthers use is not science, and definitely not critical thinking, trying to prove the earth is flat.

But lets be friends.:)

Fungi are fascinating by the way, shame they're not talked about more in nutritional and health discussions.
I'd argue that all nutritional or exercise science is nothing but pseudo-science.
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
I did comprehend and stand by my words. Science can't prove "anything you want to make a point". That is the stuff of conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, deceit, magic tricks and straight out lies.
The "science" that flat-earthers use is not science, and definitely not critical thinking, trying to prove the earth is flat.

But lets be friends.:)

Fungi are fascinating by the way, shame they're not talked about more in nutritional and health discussions.
I am always friendly and never intend negative communication. Let point out that I purposefully used the term “support”, precisely since science can’t prove anything. And then you quoted me as saying “prove”. Hence, my suggestion of a lack of comprehension.

You obviously are not familiar with my work... We are in complete agreement about snake oil salesman and framing opinion as science.

We also agree about fungi and bacteria w/r to human health.
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
Al... I'm glad you used 'nearly'; because as a student of and one time practitioner of physics... even this fundamental science has its moments and at times differing interpretations...
Yup. I purposefully used “nearly” because our current and accepted physical “laws” might only hold true in this time and in this space.

It blows my mind when I think about it.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
My final, final thought on this aside from questions like "what do you eat?"

In the context of "high carb" diet, I look at it simply as "low fat".

Fat is calorie rich by weight and generates lots of ATP slowly. From a low-fat diet perspective, very little of it needs to be consumed to maintain a generous surpus of energy reserves for low intensity effort. Folks who exercise regularly have no problem accessing what fat stores they possess for energy.

The rest of the calories need to come from somewhere and it is difficult to source much more than 25% -30% of daily calories from protein. By default, a low fat diet is a high carb diet.

As to how macros fit in with a particular fitness strategy, you'd have to look at surplus calories, and how/what you are training for, as well as individual metabolism. The article the OP linked to is a good read (though far from definitive) if you haven't already researched this topic. If you are ketogenic the conversation over ratios is moot.

Unfortunately any discussion of high carbs becomes focused on glycolysis, and a general admonishment to avoid heavy use of this pathway degenerates into a slap fest over all things glycolytic, to the point where it is difficult to even have a conversation about the benefits of this pathway and what carbs are even good for. And so yes, unfortunately a discussion of the science is in order.

As the OP referenced article points out (and this part of nutrition science is chemistry based, demonstrated in lab and in vivo, so pretty close to "settled" as anything is going to get), CrP and glycolysis (including pyruvate/alactic glycolysis in the mitochondria) do not require oxygen to recharge ATP. As a result they create ATP much faster than lipid oxidation. Also settled is that inorganic phosphate from the CrP pathway is a (the) major cause of muscle fatigue, more so than lactic acid or H ion buildup. Glycolysis uses some of this inorganic phosphate as a substrate, helping keep muscle force potential much higher than it would be if this pathway were completely lacking - going out on a limb I'll say there is an evolutionary reason AMP kickstarts glycolysis.

Older studies conducted at realtively low temps that attributed fatigue mostly to acidosis have been supplanted by studies conducted at physiological temperatures. Not that the older studies were all wrong - lowered Ph, accumulation of H ions do cause a drop in force potential, but it is far less than originally thought. Just one study example - mouse muscle fibers that were lacking creatine kinase (no CrP pathway) exectued 100 rapid contrations with little loss of force while natural (creatine kinase active) muscle fibers rapidly fatigued almost linearly with buildup of inorganic phosphate, dropping to less than 30% of their orignal force output.


Heavy use of the CrP pathway to the point of exhausting supply is the real problem, not the firing up of glycolysis. In practice it doesn't really matter in terms of program design as the two go hand in hand - prolonged duration maximal/near max efforts will cause increasing levels of fatigue, drops in force production, drops in fine motor skill, require longer rest periods to restore and interfere with development of best possible increases of 1RM strength. But glycolysis is more of a bystander than a perpetrator, it showed up after the crime was committed and now seen kneeling over the body.


Another factor to consider re glycolytic processes, glycolysis generates fuel for fast twitch muscle fiber, the exact same fibers that use CrP pathway and as such they allow longer non stop functioning at higher force output if the demand is there. Ketone bodies, lipids, and pyruvate are limited to the keb's cycle for generating ATP, meaning they can only directly fuel slow twitch fibers. Their primary role in supporting fast twitch muscle fiber is recharging Cr with P during periods of reduced energy demand, something they all do equally well at similar mitochondrial density, as the rate limiting factor generally is availability of free creatine, not mitochondrially generated ATP.

A wide variety of dietary macros can support an equally wide variety of training methods as long as you aren't trying to be the best on the planet. I'm sure there are plenty of training studies or anecdotal accounts one could toss around to argue whatever POV, but from a body chemistry standpoint this is the science.

Glycolysis supports and extends the functional range of the CrP and lipid pathways. If you train in a way that minimizes this, it doesn't negate the contribution it makes or make the process harmful to people training in ranges that require more of this help. Yes you can overdo it, but you can also injure yourself trying for a new PR on a single rep or give yourself all manner of foot/lower limb complications from jogging. Train intelligently and it is a non-issue.

Whether this is thing at any recreational level it does not appear to be, and at the higher levels of performance individual qualities take on greater significance anyway. Realistically it comes down to perfomance demands of the activity - if I were dog-sledding across the Antarctic I'd go high fat, if I had to outrun a tribe of cannibals I'd prefer to be carb loaded. Stuff in between...probably not as important.


I don't have a dog in this fight - you won't find me going out of my way to bash HFLC diets. I eat low fat as I feel better, digest better, and maintain better body comp with a huge variety of food items to chose from. If you do the same with a high fat diet, that's great. I don't suffer from up and down energy swings, sluggishness, lack of metabolic flexibility etc etc - any of the long list of maladies sometimes attributed to high carb (low fat) diets that are much more accurately squared with activity levels, training methods, or folks with genuine medical conditions.
 

Abdul-Rasheed

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Current B/W is ~202 lbs. My goal is Weight/Fat loss. This is my starting point, based on the article in the original post, for a daily consumption of ~2100 calories.

Protein: ~202g (~800 calories)
Carbs: ~202g (40-50g of which should be fibers) (~800 calories)
Fat: ~55 g (~500 calories)
That is 38% carb. 38% protein. 24% fat. Protein proportion is same as carbs. I think we could easily call it High-Protein/Low-Fat diet as well then? I tried this a few days, and I noticed that I have to purposefully increase the protein and decrease the fat. It was not necessarily about increasing the carbs to make it "High-Carb". If someone is not on a Low-Carb diet, most here probably are eating 38-40% of carbs calories anyway?
 
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