3

votes

Optimal Role of Carbohydrates in the Human Diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 21, 2012 at 2:29 AM

What is the optimal role of carbohydrates in the human diet?

No carbohydrates and ketosis?

A cyclical ketogenic diet?

A low to moderate (75-150 grams) carbohydrate intake?

A higher (150-300 grams) intake of carbs of paleo sources?

Is the optimal role dependent on activity level?

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 22, 2012
at 09:16 PM

jjtitus: I see ketosis as a bodily adaptation/stress response to a lack of dietary carbs. There are definitely specific therapeutic applications (like treating epilepsy or accelerating fat loss). Beyond these specific applications, however, I see no compelling reason to deliberately remain in ketosis.

44739854bd06eb5c32af5d33aa866864

(859)

on May 22, 2012
at 07:23 PM

@Kasra Fair enough, I was just curious to see if you had any particular reason for avoiding ketosis at all times (well, except while you're sleeping I guess, unless you're a night carber)...

5447e1f37d3ffa1525dac55be36ee454

(1019)

on May 22, 2012
at 04:54 PM

Great answer Bill.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 22, 2012
at 04:06 PM

jjtitus: I think ketosis is fine. My suggestion was just my attempt at finding a sweet spot for sugar consumption.

44739854bd06eb5c32af5d33aa866864

(859)

on May 22, 2012
at 04:01 PM

@Kasra what's wrong with being in ketosis and why would you want to necessarily stay out of it all the time? In my experience, ketosis feels great (intermittent fasting) and staying lean isn't a problem as long as there are also periods of carbohydrate replenishment, optimally post work out...

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:26 PM

Best answer.!!!

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

You really have to experiment for yourself and see what works. Low-carb does wonders for weightloss and other things. Personally I just love eating alot of fruit though.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

Read Denise Minger's article on how they're are tons of wild sweet fruits high in sugar/carbohydrate.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:24 PM

Haha yes I do. See In the past I was an 80/10/10 smashing in boat loads of calories from fruit. I've also done the super low-carb meat heavy diet. I find I do my best when eating lots of fruit ( not as much as I used to ) and currently eating more animal products. I feel like I need the extra carbs too. I'm working out more than an hour almost every day doing calisthenics/ sparring and such.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 22, 2012
at 11:58 AM

I think I'd have to go against you on this one. I know one can, and many do, thrive with your numbers of that 75-150 range but I just can't see a problem with a higher 300ish range. I just see no downsides. They make just such an excellent fuel for so many lifestyles. Unhealthy lifestyles like sitting a lot and overall sedentariness present issues but that is the lifestyle, not the carb's fault.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 22, 2012
at 11:56 AM

I take a similar approach. One can indeed go zero carb or 700 grams carb per day. Sure, activity level matters, too. But, at the end of the day I think that more people would do better with a 300-500 grams range daily intake than the low-enders doing 50 grams per day.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 22, 2012
at 11:53 AM

@swede, yes I mean exactly that.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:38 AM

Bill: I don't really know what would be optimal. I would probably lean towards a little sugar with every meal.

0361cceaf703c92f99848b078bfc9f67

(225)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:25 AM

Yeah Bill1102inf, the obesity epidemic is solely because of excessive carbohydrate intake and nothing else. Of course, the rate of de novo lipogenesis from carbohydrate is minimal until intakes reach at least 700 grams or more. Are people really eating that many carbs? I doubt it. It is a combination of high carb and high fat intake that is making people obese. Please read more science and drink less kool aid.

C620145ee7593d8b0f06a885dc140c29

(4)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:50 AM

eating fruits all day long [i've read someone eating bananas :ouch:] might not be LC compliant since fruits have been selected by human hands for ages; they are more sweet than they used to be

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:30 AM

Do you mean to consume enough sugar at say one meal to restock liver glycogen for the next 24 hours or a little bit at a time over a course of the day?

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:28 AM

The only optimal role of Carbohydrate in the human body is to replenish muscle glycogen in order to allow for maximum exertion. (PERIOD). Other than that, its a piss poor fuel for anything else, and in the presence of too much of it, we have a 70% obesity epidemic on our hands.

5447e1f37d3ffa1525dac55be36ee454

(1019)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:21 AM

Sounds like you might have a bit of fruitatarian in you.

5447e1f37d3ffa1525dac55be36ee454

(1019)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:12 AM

I picked your answer, because everyone gave me the same n=1 answer. Not that I completely agree with your answer, but I do think staying out of ketosis is a good thing for insulin sensitivity.

0361cceaf703c92f99848b078bfc9f67

(225)

on May 22, 2012
at 01:41 AM

@ ben61820, without the double negatives, you mean to say?: "The fit and healthy people that I know feel terrific with a high carb intake."

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 22, 2012
at 01:22 AM

How about this: I know no fit, healthy people who don't feel terrific with a high daily intake of carbohydrates.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 21, 2012
at 07:09 PM

@PrimalDanny - There's probably an optimal level for certain groups of peoples. Like Northern European, Southern European, different parts of Africa, etc. I'd hazard a guess that throughout the populations there might be different kinds of adaptations to the diet - the "blood and dairy" diet of the Masai jumps to mind. So, saying "one diet for every human" really doesn't work.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082

(1867)

on May 21, 2012
at 02:57 PM

Danny, I'm not convinced it's a question that can be answered because it's not formulated with enough specificity to lend itself to scientific inquiry. If the question were on the order of, "what is the optimal cyclical carb consumption for moderately active ectomorphs with no preexisting autoimmune dietary restrictions or major health problems?" then it would be answerable. As is, making the claim that there *is* a right answer to "the optimal role of carbohydrates in the human diet" is itself a "religious view" in the sense you're using it, which I take to mean "universal and unproven."

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:30 AM

It's a great sentiment to be sure, but it is redundant scientifically. In what other area of biology would we dismiss the commonality of a species? We don't get anywhere by insisting that the question can't be answered. That's a religious view.

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:45 AM

Get a glucose/ketone meter and test, test, test. Only then will you know for sure how to adjust your diet to meet your goals. :) N=1 is the only true equation in this game.

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11 Answers

best answer

1
5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 21, 2012
at 06:24 PM

One approach I like is taking in just enough sugar to stay out of ketosis.

I have a feeling that would be the ideal long-term approach to staying lean.

5447e1f37d3ffa1525dac55be36ee454

(1019)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:12 AM

I picked your answer, because everyone gave me the same n=1 answer. Not that I completely agree with your answer, but I do think staying out of ketosis is a good thing for insulin sensitivity.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 22, 2012
at 04:06 PM

jjtitus: I think ketosis is fine. My suggestion was just my attempt at finding a sweet spot for sugar consumption.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:30 AM

Do you mean to consume enough sugar at say one meal to restock liver glycogen for the next 24 hours or a little bit at a time over a course of the day?

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 22, 2012
at 09:16 PM

jjtitus: I see ketosis as a bodily adaptation/stress response to a lack of dietary carbs. There are definitely specific therapeutic applications (like treating epilepsy or accelerating fat loss). Beyond these specific applications, however, I see no compelling reason to deliberately remain in ketosis.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:38 AM

Bill: I don't really know what would be optimal. I would probably lean towards a little sugar with every meal.

44739854bd06eb5c32af5d33aa866864

(859)

on May 22, 2012
at 07:23 PM

@Kasra Fair enough, I was just curious to see if you had any particular reason for avoiding ketosis at all times (well, except while you're sleeping I guess, unless you're a night carber)...

44739854bd06eb5c32af5d33aa866864

(859)

on May 22, 2012
at 04:01 PM

@Kasra what's wrong with being in ketosis and why would you want to necessarily stay out of it all the time? In my experience, ketosis feels great (intermittent fasting) and staying lean isn't a problem as long as there are also periods of carbohydrate replenishment, optimally post work out...

best answer

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 21, 2012
at 06:53 PM

Ultimately, it's all individual. But if you had but one broad brush to paint with, I think 75-150 grams of carbs daily gets the most coverage, certainly closer than the 300+ grams of carbohydrate that conventional wisdom prescribes.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 22, 2012
at 11:58 AM

I think I'd have to go against you on this one. I know one can, and many do, thrive with your numbers of that 75-150 range but I just can't see a problem with a higher 300ish range. I just see no downsides. They make just such an excellent fuel for so many lifestyles. Unhealthy lifestyles like sitting a lot and overall sedentariness present issues but that is the lifestyle, not the carb's fault.

12
8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082

on May 21, 2012
at 02:38 AM

Optimization can only be accomplished with an n=1 approach. We're all dissimilar, despite similar proclivities, and our environments up until now have altered our gene expression in innumerable ways.

There is no universal optimum.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:30 AM

It's a great sentiment to be sure, but it is redundant scientifically. In what other area of biology would we dismiss the commonality of a species? We don't get anywhere by insisting that the question can't be answered. That's a religious view.

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:45 AM

Get a glucose/ketone meter and test, test, test. Only then will you know for sure how to adjust your diet to meet your goals. :) N=1 is the only true equation in this game.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082

(1867)

on May 21, 2012
at 02:57 PM

Danny, I'm not convinced it's a question that can be answered because it's not formulated with enough specificity to lend itself to scientific inquiry. If the question were on the order of, "what is the optimal cyclical carb consumption for moderately active ectomorphs with no preexisting autoimmune dietary restrictions or major health problems?" then it would be answerable. As is, making the claim that there *is* a right answer to "the optimal role of carbohydrates in the human diet" is itself a "religious view" in the sense you're using it, which I take to mean "universal and unproven."

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 21, 2012
at 07:09 PM

@PrimalDanny - There's probably an optimal level for certain groups of peoples. Like Northern European, Southern European, different parts of Africa, etc. I'd hazard a guess that throughout the populations there might be different kinds of adaptations to the diet - the "blood and dairy" diet of the Masai jumps to mind. So, saying "one diet for every human" really doesn't work.

4
742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on May 22, 2012
at 01:12 AM

It's all individual in my opinion. I get about 400 grams of carbs daily but then again I play soccer. Someone more sedentary could consume a more moderate approach (around 120-150 grams, which is what the USDA recommends for normal bodily processes.) I don't believe it's optimal to go too low carb, but that's just like my opinion mahn.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 22, 2012
at 11:56 AM

I take a similar approach. One can indeed go zero carb or 700 grams carb per day. Sure, activity level matters, too. But, at the end of the day I think that more people would do better with a 300-500 grams range daily intake than the low-enders doing 50 grams per day.

3
20203f15287a14924c714eb68a34ce6c

(596)

on May 21, 2012
at 06:31 PM

There is no "one-size fits all" answer regarding such questions. Along with exogenous diffrences between populations, places. SEASONS, there are another personall variables. exercise, bio-markes, insuline response, fat tissue-lean tissu ratio....

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 22, 2012
at 05:17 AM

Experiment on yourself.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:26 PM

Best answer.!!!

2
C3bc92e6b5eba45dc55f43ac3c70cc25

on May 21, 2012
at 02:47 AM

Interrobung hit the nail on the head. I do like mark sissons approach of using carbs as a "supplement" but I think his recommended 150gms for active people is to low. Then again it comes down to the individual.

As for my self 400gms on high intensity or long training days 0-30gms on non workout days seem to feel optimum so far.

1
44739854bd06eb5c32af5d33aa866864

(859)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:48 PM

As others have mentioned, carbohydrates should be used for glycogen repletion after intense exercise/workouts (PWO adjust carb load to exercise duration/intensity and personal needs), otherwise VLC Paleo... Basically cyclical ketogenic, with the majority of your time in ketosis seems to offer the optimal performance/body composition/mental sharpness IMHO.

1
C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

on May 22, 2012
at 02:13 AM

Honestly I was very low-carb pro fatty meat and organs but now I'm much more fruit based. I love eating most of my daily cals from fruit. Lots of fruit, lots of mineral rich greens. Some pastured raw egg yolks and a bit of grass-fed beef is perfect for me.

C620145ee7593d8b0f06a885dc140c29

(4)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:50 AM

eating fruits all day long [i've read someone eating bananas :ouch:] might not be LC compliant since fruits have been selected by human hands for ages; they are more sweet than they used to be

5447e1f37d3ffa1525dac55be36ee454

(1019)

on May 22, 2012
at 02:21 AM

Sounds like you might have a bit of fruitatarian in you.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

Read Denise Minger's article on how they're are tons of wild sweet fruits high in sugar/carbohydrate.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:24 PM

Haha yes I do. See In the past I was an 80/10/10 smashing in boat loads of calories from fruit. I've also done the super low-carb meat heavy diet. I find I do my best when eating lots of fruit ( not as much as I used to ) and currently eating more animal products. I feel like I need the extra carbs too. I'm working out more than an hour almost every day doing calisthenics/ sparring and such.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

You really have to experiment for yourself and see what works. Low-carb does wonders for weightloss and other things. Personally I just love eating alot of fruit though.

1
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on May 21, 2012
at 06:27 PM

Probably dependent on activity level, level of fitness, muscle mass/body fat ratio, how mentally active you are, how much sperm you want to produce, and probably a million other things. The leaner you are though, the more carbs you can handle.

0
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on May 22, 2012
at 02:32 AM

Optimization can be confirmed en masse regardless of how much good data your own N=1 experiment turns out. To say otherwise flies in the face of scientific fact, such as, if you stop eating sugar and lose weight, well 'it might only work for you'. Bull** plain and simple, it would (does) work for any FAT person.

Confirming it on yourself does not make you anymore of a unique snowflake than you already are.

5447e1f37d3ffa1525dac55be36ee454

(1019)

on May 22, 2012
at 04:54 PM

Great answer Bill.

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