Could There Possibly Come A Time Where Low Carb Is Uncontroversial?

Well, The Study finally came out. It was suggested to me that when it was published there would be revelations not included in Kevin Hall’s poster presentation which is the subject of the foregoing link.

Well, I’m not seeing it, and Stephan Guyenet did a good overview of the now-published paper.

I put this out on Facebook earlier today:

First of all, the notion that carbohydrate, per se, causes obesity is utterly ridiculous and everyone ought to acknowledge that.

About 108 Billion people have ever lived on Earth. The vast majority of them have consumed plenty of carbohydrate in various forms and the vast majority have not become obese. This is absolute falsification. And in fact, it only requires a single valid exception to falsify any rule, “the exception disproves the rule.”

Obesity is a modern phenomenon. It has nothing to do with carbohydrate, per se, not even grain and sugar carbohydrates (both have been around for thousands of years), but the fact that people eat too much, too often, in general.

Research going forward ought to focus on why people eat too much, too often, chronically, deaf to all the signal data that ought to get them to curb it. It’s probably multi-factorial and it’s also likely true that the reasons or triggers vary by individual…people eat too much, too often, chronically so, for different reasons.

However, and to be conciliatory to Low Carb, it is definitely one dietary strategy that’s pretty effective for a very lot of people (including myself) in curbing irrational appetite and allowing for less energy intake over time. Combine a reasonably low-carb lifestyle (keeping in mind Atkins considered upwards of 120g daily to fit in his LC model) with a “whole foods” or Paleoish paradigm (cut out the crap) and it’s absolutely one of the best strategies out there and can also be quite nutritionally dense. Avoid all products “enriched” with anything that doesn’t belong there, grains being the biggest culprit, so get unenriched organic grains if you consume them.

I guess that’s all I have.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Steve Smith on July 7, 2016 at 21:08

    Cheers Richard,

    I was low carb for about 10 years and following your advice have re-introduced potatoes back into my whole-food regime. I feel much better and my gout has dissappeared. A bit daunted by this website at first (there is just SO MUCH to get my head around), this post sums all your advice up succinctly. One question: As I live in the middle of Thailand, surrounded by rice fields, the only bread I can get is the stuff from the supermarkets (and Thai supermarkets stock a very limited range of items and 2 types of bread only — white and wholegrain) but I suppose a little won’t do me much harm. Am I right?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 8, 2016 at 11:15

      Hey Steve.

      French and Italians eat processed wheat, but it’s not fortified. See if you can determine that. If not, I’d avoid most of the time and just go for the street cart Mussaman curry over rice, and also the chopped up jerky (don’t know what they call it but I could tell time by the cart’s arrival on the streets of Pataya back in the wondrous days).

      Another fav was the rice plate with a sunny egg and chily sauce in the morning. And coffee. Nothing like washing down chili burn with hot coffee. 🙂

  2. Tim Steele on July 7, 2016 at 21:30

    I think there are two good reasons to eat a low carb, even ketogenic diet:

    – When there is a brain disorder that involves a keto diet as the recognized treatment; and
    – When a person is accurately diagnosed as type 2 diabetic/pre-diabetic.

    Steve Cooksey (The Diabetic Warrior) is the only person who gets a pass in my book, well, and any other diabetic specialists. Insulin resistance is a real condition, and many people have to eat around it. The standard treatment, ie SAD diet with meds, does NOT work. It makes people fatter and more dependent on stronger meds, finally insulin. This subset of people can thrive on a low carb diet. Even Steve acknowledges that fiber is needed and eats cool stuff like dandelions to provide low carb fiber alternatives.

    That said, I believe there are a lot of people who are insulin resistant from a lifetime of overeating refined carbs, maybe irreversibly insulin resistant. This can be easily confirmed with BG test strips or a doctor’s office visit. Uncontrolled blood sugar is dangerous. Healthy people who have good BG control, but under the impression they must avoid any appearance of a glucose spike are not doing themselves any favors.

    So, I think LC has a place in the dieting world, but as a targeted intervention…not a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Thanks for the follow-up post!

    Everyone else is just fooling themselves, and possibly making things worse.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 7, 2016 at 23:00

      I’m emphasizing Low Carb Daddy Atkins 120g of carbs as low carb.

      Tim, how many potatoes to still be low carb?

    • Tim Steele on July 8, 2016 at 11:20

      Yep, “low” is quite subjective. SAD is the worst, with 300-400+g per day, mostly refined, enriched starches and sugar. Once you get past that, even a low carb diet can (and should) include beans/rice/potatoes/etc. daily. Those wishing to keep carbs “low” can simply avoid the most egregious “carby” foods, ie. soda, fruit juices, candy, white rice, pasta, bread. I am always amazed at how much sugar is added to seemingly healthy foods like yogurt, ketchup, and various sauces.

  3. Onlooker on July 8, 2016 at 05:05

    Indeed, Richard. There’s still a lot we don’t understand about food, nutrition, our physiology, etc. So JUST EAT REAL FOOD is the most concise way to put it (with all the limitations of that phrase, I know). And if you’re IR then address that, but don’t go looking for trouble if it’s not there, or you just might find some.

  4. Waltermcc on July 8, 2016 at 06:29


    We have talked about this before. The saturated fat scare threw our diet out of balance, the fat being replaced primarily with sugar and flour.

    The other big variable, rarely talked about, is social. 55 years ago, no one was eating between lunch and dinner. Every evening, Mom had to threaten us before we would come in for dinner. That is just too damn funny. Any hunger signal would have been ignored because we had too much tree climbing / swimming / kickball / baseball / football / dirt eating to do before something as trivial as 6pm dinner. And we had Hors d’Oeurves two days each year – Easter (Cheezits) and Thanksgiving (onion dip and potato chips).

    If I feel a mild hunger signal at 3pm, I just wait 30 minutes and it disappears. I interpret that signal as my cells telling me that they have used up all the fuel from lunch. “If you would like to add fuel, we would be happy to use it. If not, we will turn off the signal and use your stored fat and protein for fuel. See you in three or four hours”.

    This sounds very elementary compared to all the science out there. However, with a hundred variables in the nutrition equation, I just go with more general thoughts about this whole issue.

    • pzo on July 9, 2016 at 09:50

      Very insightful!

      I’ve also noticed that “snacks” is the big thing with schools and young families. And they usually aren’t very healthy.

      One grand daughter, second grade starts school about 7:30, has lunch three and a half hours later, and has the now obligatory snack in between! I go to kids soccer games and it’s snack, snack, snack both during and after. Sometimes it’s the parents, sometimes its the team. And it’s all packaged crap.

      I’m with you, I don’t remember ever having snacks in between meals. Fifties and Sixties.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 9, 2016 at 10:15


      “You’ll spoil your dinner!”

      What kid growing up in 50s or 60s didn’t hear that a million times.

      in all my time in France in the early 90s, I saw a person eat a between-meal snack exactly one time. 2″ slice of baguette, with a nice 1/4″ slice of camembert in the middle.

      There are no dietary “paradoxes.” Americans have become a literal junk food, fast food, obese culture, and it’s spreading around the world.

      …Thanks to leftist politicians doing their deals. 😉

    • thhq on July 12, 2016 at 06:32

      My only quibble @walter is that cheezits and chips are not carbs. They’re half seed oil fat, half refined carbs. We didn’t replace saturated fats with carbs, we replaced them with veg fats. And more than replaced them. From the meat and potatoes days of 1909 to the vegan days of 2010 we nearly doubled our fat calories. Take off your Taubes/Atkins blinders!

  5. Hap on July 8, 2016 at 11:39

    Recently returned from real Hawaii (not resorts) where locals served up fried rice bowl topped with fried or scrambled egg for breakfast. A crowd pleaser. However, I have to admit, at least on the Big Island, many locals are HUGE…and I mean big AND fat. These people are not wealthy but something the matter with how they now eat and interaction with genetics. I further admit that there is a lot of relatively cheap high calorie food served up at the many Taco Bell, McD,, Baskin Robbins…well you know what I mean. In contrast there are many farmers markets and local growers and meat suppliers who stock very healthy food…..for those who choose.

    The rampant obesity among these folks is disturbing and causing a lot of stress in the not so good health system outside of Honolulu. I don’t have to tell you who runs the State and dominates it’s politics.

    Since I started on one day/week fasting, I have lost weight…..presumably due to weekly net calorie deficit, despite eating “normally” the remainder. I did not fast while 2 weeks in ruralish Hawaii and actually increased my carbs. Lost almost two pounds. Clearly, however, the intermittent fasting with some appropriate food choices, and occasional “change ups”…works for me.

    • Bret on July 8, 2016 at 12:29

      Hap, your account of the Hawaiian natives reminds me of Gary Taubes’s mention of the Pima Indians in Good Calories, Bad Calories.

      This isn’t a scientific conclusion, but the obvious culprit behind such rapid obesity is the highly refined, nutrient-bereft modern diet these folks are eating. The industry behind this diet prizes shelf life over microbiome nourishment, and the unhealthy effect is exacerbated. These folks then undergo a vicious cycle, in which their bodies are undernourished by the food they eat, which makes them hungrier, and they ravenously eat more of the same trash…all the while using up their vitamin and mineral stores and replenishing almost none of them. Horrible.

      That’s the real reason we’ve seen so many folks of native stock become fat & sick in such a brief time period.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 8, 2016 at 12:54

      There may also be nutrient imbalance in play rather than across the board deficiency.

    • thhq on July 9, 2016 at 07:50

      @hap IMO a lot of it is social norming. Multiple generations of obesity. A shared sense that obesity is wealth today and who cares about tomorrow when you are already living in heaven. I ate a lot of those KTA breakfast boxes clearing out a condo in my flip-flop Hawaiian work shoes. You didn’t mention the sausage and Spam.

  6. Hap on July 8, 2016 at 11:43

    BTW….I can’t agree more with the comments of Waltermcc. There is something going on in our society which has disrupted the relationship between activities, “reward” or satisfaction signals, and the nature of eating.

    • Marc on July 8, 2016 at 12:25

      “satisfaction signals” ….how bout most are simply fucking miserable??

      That’s the untalked about red herring in my opinion

    • thhq on July 12, 2016 at 06:41

      Around the train station a month ago the panhandlers sat in a sea of empty Cheeto and Dorito bags. Cheap rewarding food for a miserable life.

  7. king of the one eyed people on July 8, 2016 at 15:57

    I find around 150 to 200 grams of carbs a day works well for me both in terms of opening up available food choices and generally feeling satisfied. I find a good dose of fibre helps too.

    Btw, I have been searching for Jesus and Arthur Devany but I can find neither. Has anyone seen them lately?

  8. ramon on July 8, 2016 at 18:41

    I let my self get fat over the past year with new house, marriage, new job etc…. I am ultra low carbing it right now because as you said it is easy for some (not Jimmy Moore) to control their appetite. I intend to do a paleoish/primal concoction with good whole foods when I have lost my 30 lbs of baggage (that came about from cheetos, beer and burgers, restaurants, not some rice and a potato or two). Maybe Angelo Coppola style.

    Later If I feel the need to lose a couple ponds I’ll potato hack. that works well for me for 3-4 days but not while traveling. I can low carb pretty easily while traveling so it still has some attraction for me.

    • Bret on July 9, 2016 at 06:54

      ramon, I would add: keep the stress down in any way possible. Sounds like there are a few sources of that based on you account. I think the long days, long nights, early rises, deadline fretting, etc all pile up into an unhappy, unhealthy brain & body.

      For various reasons this kind of lifestyle promotes and encourages eating the wrong foods, too much of the wrong foods, etc. I notice I am way more disciplined, and thin, after a period of vacation than I am after several weeks (or months, or years) of “the grind.”

    • Ramon on July 9, 2016 at 09:44

      Yes, I used July4th long weekend to get kick started. You are very right.

  9. pzo on July 9, 2016 at 10:23

    Nothing to do with corporate control of the food pyramid, right? The grain, sugar, snack, and soft drink industries have hijacked the government advice to the point that the ADA says that candy, bread, and sugar is fine in moderation. Talk about hens and foxes.

    • thhq on July 9, 2016 at 11:21

      pzo if you have a personal problem with obesity use this. It was developed by ADA years ago. I used it to get rid of T2 diabetes.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 9, 2016 at 13:32

      “Nothing to do with corporate control.”

      This is how a leftist “thinks.”

      They are fools and useful idiots at the same time. PZO is a hilarious example. Thanks, PZO.

      Bill and Hillary have a net worth of $150 million. Why? Favors, speaking, engagements, plausibly deniable “deals.”

      The worst thing about Hillary’s five private servers in her own home, to use exclusively for US Secretary of State business, was that it was principally to shield her get rich quick scheme, in league with the former automatic liar in chief.

      PZO, your’re a perfect idiot and fool, and that judgment does not rest on what republicans have ever done. You own your willingness to be as stupid as you want to be,

    • thhq1 on July 9, 2016 at 14:09

      Blaming corporatism is the very essence of parasitism. An entitlement to exist without working for The Man. The snarky rhetoric buys a lot of votes. Statism is of course an entirely different and better thing than corporatism.

      (Bill and Hillary are at least hard working parasites though. I remember an old Mary Matalin line. They live upstairs above their shop. The sign on the shop window says “Politics”.)

      The day will come when some Progressive neo-Stalin will send these parasites off to a North Slope gulag, where they can sit in happy idleness for the rest of their lives watching the walruses. Unlike today’s hipster Progressive visionaries, the USSR built dams and won wars. They built things, crudely but solidly, off the backs of their slaves.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 9, 2016 at 14:58

      Drug and gang lords work harder. Pffft.

      Thought you might have been a bit more above the Marxist labor theory of value.

      I don’t give a shit how hard you worked to make a mud pie.


    • Richard Nikoley on July 9, 2016 at 16:54

      “Unlike today’s hipster Progressive visionaries, the USSR built dams and won wars. They built things, crudely but solidly, off the backs of their slaves.”

      I believe you made a point, there.

      Indeed. The Soviets were captives of their own ideology, but I’ve always seen enough to convince me that they hold values for family and country. I tend to think that what happened was a tragedy far more than an evil. Lots of people got chewed up, in furthering “good ideas.”

  10. pzo on July 9, 2016 at 14:05

    From corporate control of the world connecting to HC’s email servers. Quite a leap.

    Neoliberal economic policies. Yes, corporate control of the world. Nations can’t even make their own laws anymore. Trade pacts let corporations sue any country and law that they feel they are harmed by. And the hearings are held in private, with no records. Not far removed from Star Chamber antics.

    So tell me. Where we a happier nation with hope and looking to a better future under democratic/Democratic administrations and legislatures, or now, after 35 years of debasing the human spirit via neoliberalism? The Republicans like when I grew up would not recognize the party of today. They aren’t conservative, they are corporatists. And yes, Bill Clinton veered to the corporate right, too. As do some so-called Democrats.

    And they are so good at deflection. There’s no man behind the curtain.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 9, 2016 at 16:45

      “Yes, corporate control of the world. Nations can’t even make their own laws anymore.”

      This is how a moron fucktarded leftist thinks.

      They think the beggar is in control.

      Perfect fools, useful idiots.

      Thank you, PZO, for showing us just how fucking stupid leftists are.

  11. pzo on July 9, 2016 at 14:36

    @thhq1: Oh. Progressives and liberals never built anything? You must have very, very selectfull blinders. Everyday, millions of people still enjoy the great WPA and CCC projects of the New Deal.

    No slave labor used.

    • thhq on July 9, 2016 at 16:17

      No I have no blinders pzo but you have a short memory…or maybe you missed my outrage over the fact that neo-progressives have no grand coulee dams and interstate highways to show for all the money they’ve spent.

      How’s Biden doing with the cancer thing pzo? I’d rather see the guvmint build a new Mayo cancer clinic than continue to close working coal mines.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 9, 2016 at 17:01

      “Progressives and liberals never built anything?”

      No, not in the context of government, and not without slave labor (some of you euphemistically call it “taxation”).

      Any yet, people seem to be able to build endless Mc Donald’s and Starbucks outlets al over the world without forcing a single soul, or stealing from a soul because it’s so “important.”

      …I haven’t even gotten started with your leftist, fucktarded sycodouche, yet, PZO. you’ve been on my good list for a long time. It’s not quite like that, anymore.

      Please persist.

  12. Gruesome on July 11, 2016 at 05:40

    Well, darn! If obligate carnivores obtain more starch than Jimmy, how the hell are they able to maintain their six-packs. This really oughtta spin the wheels of teh LC gurus like Stephanie “The Keto” Person. Even fellow guru Terra Universale dropped off the bandwagon at one point. Those cravings became massive.

    All evidence now seems to point to the likelihood that the earth is really a flat disc with a small sun and moon, not a small pebble hurtling and spin-topping through a giant dark space. Yeah, that really flips the script too.

    I suppose when all else fails, you can revert to the only thing that’s true and that’s the Bible.


    “The Bible Condones Sweets:

    “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

    Sugar is Fine in Moderation:

    Eating excessive amounts of processed sugar is linked to low energy levels as well as obesity, but the Bible teaches that honey, a natural sugar, is good in moderation.

    “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” Proverbs 25:16

    It’s not just honey that’s mentioned in the Bible, though. Many people don’t realize that cane sugar is also mentioned in the Bible.

    “To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.” Jeremiah 6:20

    “Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” Isaiah 43:24

    Children Learn from Eating Honey:

    “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” Proverbs 24:13-14

    “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Isaiah 7:15

    Children naturally have a sweet tooth, and Jesus Christ himself was not deprived of sweets as a child or as an adult. Not only do we know that he ate honey, but we are actually given a reason for it. We may not fully understand the spiritual benefits of honey referred to in the above verses, but we definitely want our children to be imparted with the wisdom to know how to choose the good in life.

    There are so many things we have to say no to in today’s day and age. Don’t deprive yourself or your children of one of life’s most natural pleasures. Nutritional trends are always changing, but the Word of God never changes.”

    • thhq on July 11, 2016 at 07:11

      On Guyenet’s blog Dr. Ludwig argued that Hall’s study had proven the null hypothesis that calories are not all equal. Since the fructose-laden high carb diet produced greater fat loss and lower muscle catabolism than the low carb high fat diet it looks like he’s agreeing with you. Honey is better food than fat, at least for weight loss. Dental health is another matter.

  13. Martin on July 13, 2016 at 08:05

    if the LC diets work well in practice only due to spontaneous reduction in food intake, like what Stephan says, then they are no better than the potato diet which achieves exactly the same but in addition feeds the good bacteria. Is that correct?

    Richard, what is your total loss since you started the potato hack in Feb? You lost like 10lb within a week or two and I look forward to hearing how you’re doing now. Surely you lost more than 60lb, the number you dropped on a LC diet years ago.

    • thhq on July 13, 2016 at 08:30

      From what I read in Hall’s study, LC is worse than HC due to lower fat loss and muscle catabolism. The HC study diet was about as bad as they come, with half the carbs coming from sugar. Compared to that the Potato Hack looks mighty healthy.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 13, 2016 at 09:18

      Hey Martin.

      As for me, my goals are different.

      I didn’t have 60 lbs to lose, more like 25ish.

      I’d guess I’m about 15 into it. I don’t use the scale. I’m living at 4,200 ft elevation, now, quite active a few days per week in various things. Nothing is level here in the mountains so everything that involves movement is in some way strenuous.

      I’m watching how things go naturally, no longer in a concrete jungle and cage.

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