3

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Carbs: Not evil. Simple Carbs: Evil?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 21, 2012 at 4:34 PM

As one of the many paleohackers who have gone through the following:

"I feel amazing without carbs! Carbs are evil!" "No wait, I feel like crap after a while without carbs. I need SOME carbs, for sure." "Okay, I should just eat my carbs, but only as much as I need and from wholesome, organic, low-glycemic, non-grain sources."

I've been wondering about simple carbs, particularly fruit. For almost 9 months now, I have been fruit-free. Cutting out sugar and fruit sugars has done wonders for my mental and emotion health, but I'm wondering if it's smart/sustainable. I wonder if I'm missing something. When I eat even a little piece of fruit, I can feel it interfere with my mental clarity and my emotional stability.

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on September 24, 2012
at 01:51 PM

One ounce of high-fructose-corn-syrup contains 21 carbs and has a glycemic load of 12. Two slices of whole wheat toast (the prototypical "complex carb") contains 20 grams of carbs and has a glycemic-load of 10. One large apple contains 26 grams of carbs (23 of which are simple carbs) and has a gylcemeic-load of 6. Which is more like eating pure sugar: eating 1 large apple (simple carbs) or two slices of whole wheat toast (complex carbs)? Eating whole wheat toast is the same as eating pure HFCS from a GL standpoint. The packaging and type of simple carb matter, not simple vs complex.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 10:32 PM

LOl. Gotcha. I used to be underweight too. But in my experience, what is true for fat loss is essentially the same for muscle gain with minimal fat acquisition. So, when trying to gain clean body weight, you should still minimize fruit consumption.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:55 PM

I am underweight and have been for my entire life. I will never consume fruit with fat loss in mind.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:46 PM

@ Dan W: Fruit is fine just watch your portions and time it properly. Our livers don't store much fructose, and our muscles can only store glucose. The best times to consume fruit with fat loss in mind would be with your first meal of the day in the morning and/or post workout. It is also wise to consume it seasonally if you are European, because generally speaking access to significant quantities of fruit would not have been a year round luxury.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:31 PM

I use the term "evil" somewhat jokingly. In fact, I'd like to make amends with (eating) simple carbs somewhere down the line.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:28 PM

Talldog, I definitely see what you're saying, but it's going a little far to say "complex carbs" is a myth. Obviously it's not. Just because it's eventually broken down into simple carbs does not mean that it has the same effect as eating simple carbs, as I think foreveryoung was implying.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Yeah, I mean, now that I've been off fruit for a while, fruit tastes reeeally sweet to me, and I suspect that's connected to some kind of "downregulation" of insulin response. I'm definitely not used to it anymore.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:09 PM

tasks. 6 or 10% body fat says nothing about the muscle mass you carry or your physical capabilities. I care more about performance than aesthetics, definitely. I mostly train so that aesthetics follow performance, not the other way around.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:06 PM

"doing well" is by definition superficial and subjective. It is not quantifiable. The criteria that fit under the heading of "doing well" are determined subjectively by the individual. For instance, 80/10/10-ers seem to think all that matters for doing well is being at a low body weight and being engaging in long bouts of endurance exercise. MY definition of doing well includes a different basket, including but not limited to having a healthy hormonal pattern, clear skin, a good libido, and an ability to lift your own bodyweight, and the ability to perform well broadly in physical and mental

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:43 PM

I understand they are processed differently (fructose must be processed by the liver in a similar fashion to alcohol). But, for the purpose of a discussion on "simple vs. complex carbs" it's not pertinent, because there is a core idea that must be transmitted: all carbs are--at the end of the day--sugars. There are far too many people that sing the praises of complex carbs while at the same time warning of dangers of simple sugars (as if they are somehow vastly different and totally unrelated). That's the meme that must be gotten through before you can have an intelligent discution on carbs.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:33 PM

I would argue that "doing well on fruit" does not have a superficial context of being "skinny" or "lean". Rather doing well on fruit means that one can eat it, and continue to live as healthy, or healthier than without it (as measured by energy, skin, alertness, etc). I'm good sitting at 10% BF. No need to get to 6%. I am healthy and that's much more important to me.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:17 PM

You are ignoring the differing metabolic effects between fructose and glucose. Just because leucine and glutamine are both amino acids does not mine they have the same metabolic effects. Your analogy is like saying whey protein isolate is the same as casein protein isolate because both are ultimately proteins broken down into amino acids. When in reality they are broken down at different rates and the differing amino acid patterns have differing biological affects.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:16 PM

You are ignoring the differing metabolic effects between fructose and glucose. Just because leucine and glutamine are both amino acids does not mine they have the same metabolic effects.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:11 PM

this is like saying a house and a bunch of bricks are the same thing,because when a house gets destroyed it's a bed of bricks. Actually it is worse because you ignore the metabolic differences between fructose and glucose. Everyone knows that ultimately disacharides are broken down into monosacharides.

10405c6f4c2e5bb251d25a37a0dc35a4

(66)

on September 21, 2012
at 05:32 PM

This is totally true. Also fat burners need absolutely no carbohydrates. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fat-adapted/

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5 Answers

3
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on September 21, 2012
at 05:21 PM

First off, people really need to get passed calling foods or macronutrients "evil." Seriously.

Personally, when it comes to emotional stability/mental clarity, physical performance, and physical composition, starch wins hands down. You will suffer no ill effects from omitting fruit provided you have an otherwise nutritious diet. I restrict my fruit consumption to the summer months and don't consume it otherwise...usually not even nightshades. I consider myself healthy and do not think I am a genetic freak, so you can expect to be fine as well when omitting fruit. I do however supplement with vitamin C, but only for the cortisol suppression, not because I'm not eating fruit.

Also, people's definitions of "doing well on fruit" are clearly at variance with one another. Dr. Doug Graham, Durrianrider, and Freelee all consider that they "do well on fruit." I personally beg to differ on that, because I don't think their experience with fruit is any different than mine. It gives them energy and allows them to eat as much as they want while remaining "skinny." However, unless you're a 13 year old emo-punk rocker or just have generally no sense of aesthetics, you know that lean is the new skinny, and a fruit based diet is not the way to get you there.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:06 PM

"doing well" is by definition superficial and subjective. It is not quantifiable. The criteria that fit under the heading of "doing well" are determined subjectively by the individual. For instance, 80/10/10-ers seem to think all that matters for doing well is being at a low body weight and being engaging in long bouts of endurance exercise. MY definition of doing well includes a different basket, including but not limited to having a healthy hormonal pattern, clear skin, a good libido, and an ability to lift your own bodyweight, and the ability to perform well broadly in physical and mental

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:46 PM

@ Dan W: Fruit is fine just watch your portions and time it properly. Our livers don't store much fructose, and our muscles can only store glucose. The best times to consume fruit with fat loss in mind would be with your first meal of the day in the morning and/or post workout. It is also wise to consume it seasonally if you are European, because generally speaking access to significant quantities of fruit would not have been a year round luxury.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:09 PM

tasks. 6 or 10% body fat says nothing about the muscle mass you carry or your physical capabilities. I care more about performance than aesthetics, definitely. I mostly train so that aesthetics follow performance, not the other way around.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 10:32 PM

LOl. Gotcha. I used to be underweight too. But in my experience, what is true for fat loss is essentially the same for muscle gain with minimal fat acquisition. So, when trying to gain clean body weight, you should still minimize fruit consumption.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:31 PM

I use the term "evil" somewhat jokingly. In fact, I'd like to make amends with (eating) simple carbs somewhere down the line.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:55 PM

I am underweight and have been for my entire life. I will never consume fruit with fat loss in mind.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:33 PM

I would argue that "doing well on fruit" does not have a superficial context of being "skinny" or "lean". Rather doing well on fruit means that one can eat it, and continue to live as healthy, or healthier than without it (as measured by energy, skin, alertness, etc). I'm good sitting at 10% BF. No need to get to 6%. I am healthy and that's much more important to me.

2
2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on September 21, 2012
at 05:22 PM

It's about giving your body what your DNA expects to "see." We are adapted to eating fruit but fruit is seasonal. Not grapes or bananas year round. Fruit has been hybridized for sweetness and size. I have wild grapes growing by my house and they are smaller than blueberries and each have 3-5 seeds. Not like the seedless candy from a vine you buy in the store. Your body doesn't expect a huge fruit load every day but at the same time it does expect and it is OK to eat some. You can handle simple carbs like that.

10405c6f4c2e5bb251d25a37a0dc35a4

(66)

on September 21, 2012
at 05:32 PM

This is totally true. Also fat burners need absolutely no carbohydrates. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fat-adapted/

2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 21, 2012
at 05:09 PM

For me. Processed carbs are evil. Naturally occurring carbs are not. If I were looking to loose weight, I would certainly cut back on fruit. But in maintenance, I can pretty much eat any fruit/vegetable and I have no ill effects that I can tell.

Certainly it is an individual thing. Many people do well on a low to very-low carb diet. Some do better with higher carbs. Some do better sticking to tubers rather than fruit, some can mix it up. Looks like for your N=1 friut is out. Next try some tubers/roots and see if you get a similar effect. If so then you might be a low carb person.

1
11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on September 21, 2012
at 05:52 PM

All carbs (simple or complex) end up in your blood stream as...wait for it...simple sugar molecules.

A simple carbohydrate is a fancy name for a simple sugar molecule (a monosaccharide molecule). Fructose and glucose are monosaccharides.

Combine two simple sugar/carbohydrate molecules together and you have a disaccharide. Table sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide, because it is a glucose and fructose molecule hooked together.

Combine more than two simple sugar/carb molecules and you have a polysaccharide. Because of the fact that long chains of sugar molecules no longer taste sweet, they are generally referred to as carbohydrates instead of sugar (but don't fool yourself, they are still a form of sugar). Starch (like found in a potato) is an example of a polysaccharide as it is just glucose molecules hooked together to form a chain.

But, not matter what form you consume (monosaccharide, disaccharide, or polysaccharide), your body digests it in the same way. It breaks the chains down into their individual sugar molecules and places those individual sugar molecules into your blood stream.

Eat a lot of fruit and you end up with a bunch of individual fructose sugar molecules in your blood.

Eat a lot of table sugar and you end up with a bunch of individual fructose and glucose sugar molecules in your blood.

Eat a baked potato and you end up with a bunch of individual glucose sugar molecules in your blood.

The concept of "complex carbs" is a myth, because no matter how complex (long of a chain of sugar molecules) carbs it ends up in your blood stream as simple sugar molecules.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:16 PM

You are ignoring the differing metabolic effects between fructose and glucose. Just because leucine and glutamine are both amino acids does not mine they have the same metabolic effects.

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:43 PM

I understand they are processed differently (fructose must be processed by the liver in a similar fashion to alcohol). But, for the purpose of a discussion on "simple vs. complex carbs" it's not pertinent, because there is a core idea that must be transmitted: all carbs are--at the end of the day--sugars. There are far too many people that sing the praises of complex carbs while at the same time warning of dangers of simple sugars (as if they are somehow vastly different and totally unrelated). That's the meme that must be gotten through before you can have an intelligent discution on carbs.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:17 PM

You are ignoring the differing metabolic effects between fructose and glucose. Just because leucine and glutamine are both amino acids does not mine they have the same metabolic effects. Your analogy is like saying whey protein isolate is the same as casein protein isolate because both are ultimately proteins broken down into amino acids. When in reality they are broken down at different rates and the differing amino acid patterns have differing biological affects.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:11 PM

this is like saying a house and a bunch of bricks are the same thing,because when a house gets destroyed it's a bed of bricks. Actually it is worse because you ignore the metabolic differences between fructose and glucose. Everyone knows that ultimately disacharides are broken down into monosacharides.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:28 PM

Talldog, I definitely see what you're saying, but it's going a little far to say "complex carbs" is a myth. Obviously it's not. Just because it's eventually broken down into simple carbs does not mean that it has the same effect as eating simple carbs, as I think foreveryoung was implying.

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on September 24, 2012
at 01:51 PM

One ounce of high-fructose-corn-syrup contains 21 carbs and has a glycemic load of 12. Two slices of whole wheat toast (the prototypical "complex carb") contains 20 grams of carbs and has a glycemic-load of 10. One large apple contains 26 grams of carbs (23 of which are simple carbs) and has a gylcemeic-load of 6. Which is more like eating pure sugar: eating 1 large apple (simple carbs) or two slices of whole wheat toast (complex carbs)? Eating whole wheat toast is the same as eating pure HFCS from a GL standpoint. The packaging and type of simple carb matter, not simple vs complex.

1
5f2b384345050356bfd4fda5f2f169f3

(55)

on September 21, 2012
at 05:09 PM

Hi Dan,

Wow, interesting. Most paleos would not think of a small piece of whole fruit as an especially simple carb: aka, a juice could be pretty simple (potentially a-cellular), but a whole piece of fruit, like a quarter banana or something, has that nice soluable fiber which is going to slow things down a little.

You're quite right I think about simple versus complex. I'm not a huge fan of it, but some people have a lot of sucess on 'slow carb' which actually has quite a lot of complex carbs like beans, but they still drop weigh etc... because they never ever spike their insulin.

In your case, I am almost suspecting an alergy? A tiny bit of fruit shouldn't be causing brain fog. 9 months of no fruit your body may have downregulated a bit and you may have that ironic insulin insensitivty that can happen to long-term vlc-ers, so you're getting a rush off a single piece of fruit, but I don't know about that. I think I'd check alergies if I were you, seems weird.

There is a big range of glycemic index in fruit too, and load. Maybe go for an apple loaded up with some almond butter (to slow down the sugar) over a mango? Just some ideas...

Cheers!

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Yeah, I mean, now that I've been off fruit for a while, fruit tastes reeeally sweet to me, and I suspect that's connected to some kind of "downregulation" of insulin response. I'm definitely not used to it anymore.

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