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Does eating a low carb diet make you insulin resistant? I am a worried low carber

Answered on February 01, 2014
Created January 30, 2014 at 12:31 PM

I am a low carb eater and i have always thought that i would never become diabetic because i don't eat many carbs and therefore don't need to produce much insulin to remove the glucose from my blood. HOWEVER i have just watched a programme which told me that low carb diets can promote insulin resistance. I always thought a lack of carbs in the diet meant you didn't need as much insulin because there was less to remove from the blood, but now it seems i have got this wrong and by reducing carbs i may be doing myself harm. Does anyone know how many grams of carbohydrates i should be looking at consuming? I'm concerned!

Thanks for any advice/help,

Mark

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 01, 2014
at 11:24 PM

Those numbers are clearly fabricated, I don't see how you could have determined the precise measurements down to the gram of the foods I listed. And I doubt greens, tomatoes, broccoli, olive oil and butter can add 40 extra grams of protein. That would require buckets of them...you are exaggerating to make your point and it's kind of obvious.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 01, 2014
at 11:19 PM

If you still doubt that reducing IGF-1 levels has a significant effect on human longevity, I encourage you to look at this analysis, Reduced insulin/IGF-1 signaling and human longevity: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-9728.2005.00148.x/full

Reduction in insulin and IGF-1 promotes C. Elegans longevity: http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v28/n2/abs/ng0601_139.html

Decreased expression of IGF-1 receptor extends lifespan in mice: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v421/n6919/abs/nature01298.html

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 01, 2014
at 11:10 PM

Here is a study which details the effects of calorie restriction vs. protein restriction on IGF-1 levels:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-9726.2008.00417.x/full

If you read through it you will see that while the group on caloric restriction had no long term decrease in their IGF-1 levels, the protein restricted group noticed a substantial decline in IGF-1. I never mentioned anything about calorie restriction because clearly the only method that has a proven effect in lowering IGF-1 is that which restricts protein.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 01, 2014
at 11:06 PM

I never mentioned anything about calorie restriction, so I don't see how this is relevant. Your study about mice is off topic, I never suggested pregnant mothers should eat less protein while they are in the process of creating a whole new being inside them. I am referring to an average person and their protein needs. In this case the OP has high blood glucose, clearly it is due to high protein intake since it is the only thing on a low-carb diet that can substantially elevate glucose.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 01, 2014
at 09:34 PM

since i mentioned the Jaminet book, here is a link to all the refs he uses for his chapter on Protein, perfecthealthdiet.com/notes/#Ch9 (may be of interest to some)

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 01, 2014
at 09:27 PM

some discussion of protein requirements in article & comments in an oldish Jaminet post here, protein-for-athletes. (the Jaminet book may have more up to date info tho, have not checked it).

some musings on the bro-science...it may be that bodybuilders go imperial & non-bodybuilders go metric...wot?...eg. 1g/lb compared to 1g/kg....(& then there is total body weight vs lbm to muddy the waters further).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 01, 2014
at 02:34 PM

What I think we're all saying is 50g of protein is quite low. A 50 gram limit does not have scientific support, the DV is a minimum. I'm not aware of a realistic maximum for healthy individuals. Protein limiting studies generally stop working as you approach primates, primate studies don't show as great of effect as studies on flatworms and mice.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on February 01, 2014
at 01:32 PM

Here's a review of a study refuting the idea that calorie restriction(not necessarily protein restriction admittedly) extends lifespan: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-calorie-restriction-extend.html . Here is a clinical study showing low infant mouse protein intake associated with a -11% lifespan: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11244286 .

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on February 01, 2014
at 01:32 PM

Okay Gastronomer, do you have any clinical trials in animals or observational studies in humans? Also, is the type of protein being controlled for? While I do fault the China Study, it did seem to indicate that different sources of protein may effect lifespan differently (dairy vs meat vs vegetables vs grains).

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 01, 2014
at 03:51 AM

good point. According to fitday your intake (and I tried to be concervative) is 3200 calories, 283g Fat, 95g Carbs (mostly from the vegetables), 95g Protein (the 6 eggs and the sardines put you well over 50g). Sounds like a complete and fairly healthy diet --- but still close to 100g of protein.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 01, 2014
at 03:50 AM

Good grief it was a sample menu. In real life no one counts each milligram of protein, it's a rough estimate. I agree about the veggies but most of them are not complete proteins and besides you'd have to eat a bucket of spinach, lettuce, water cress, collards, mustard greens, or swiss chard to get a substantial amount of protein from it. The general idea is to limit it. Also the requirements would necessarily vary by height, weight, activity level, age, etc. Obviously a 140lb, 5'9", 12 year old growing kid who plays basketball might need more than a 160lb, 5'3", 76 year old woman.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 01, 2014
at 03:07 AM

The menu you propose would be 50+ grams from eggs and sardines themselves. What about the veggies? They are essentially just carb/protein, it adds up.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 01, 2014
at 02:46 AM

Ok, I'll bite. I did a lit search and found nothing to support your claim except two (not peer reviewed) articles that showed the effect of high protein diets on herbivores (one on rabbits, one on cows. In both cases the animals were on a 80-90% protein diet. That's a far cry from 25%-40%. Also they were herbivores and as such do not equate to humans.

What other research is out there? I ran the nurses study and it looks like higher protein equates to longer life span with no change in the cancer rate. (But we all know the problems with the nurse study)

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 31, 2014
at 05:57 PM

Staying under 50 grams is quite easy. A can of sardines is 17g, eggs are 6g each, an 4oz tuna steak is 24g. Sample day for me would be: Breakfast: 1 egg, butter, veggies. Lunch: 1 can of sardines, avocado, olives, macadamias. Dinner: 5 egg frittata with veggies, tons of olive oil, some tomatoes, and steamed broccoli.

Just by eyeballing the protein I would come out to 53g on that sample menu right there. I could also have swapped out the can of sardines for 4oz tuna instead.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 31, 2014
at 05:50 PM

The clinical trials aren't there for humans because unlike other animals, humans tend to live quite long and the trials would have to last several decades which is unfeasible. However, protein restriction does extend lifespan and reduce the incidence of cancer in virtually every species in which it is implemented on. In humans, mutations in the IGF-1 receptor that decrease its activity (similar to dietary protein restriction), are much more common in extremely long-lived individuals which is consistent with data from the animal trials.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 31, 2014
at 05:44 PM

I know it's not easy to accept that excess protein might be bad for you, since it goes against popular culture's glorification of protein, specially in the fitness community and the bodybuilding crowd. However, regardless of how you perceive protein, it doesn't change the fact that it causes accelerated aging and degeneration, via activation of PI3K, Akt, and mTOR. You're free to eat it as much as you want, ultimately your body will determine who was right; I pray for your own good you're on the right side of this argument, I hear cancer isn't much fun.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 31, 2014
at 05:38 PM

Maybe it's you that needs to do a bit more research. All the research on the effects of protein consumption shows that in the long term increased protein intake accelerates aging and degeneration. You are focused on the short term effects of increasing protein (primarily increased muscle mass, for vanity reasons) which is a myopic approach to nutrition. Long term health effects of low/moderate protein consumption are much more favorable that high protein. I'd love to see those studies you put so much faith on by the way. Let's see how good your confirmation bias skills are.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on January 31, 2014
at 05:02 PM

In addition to asking you what foods would satisfy that which seems to me like a deficient diet, instead of bickering with CD, just post your clinical studies if the results are so clear. That is unless you don't have any clinical studies to post because there aren't any clinical trials in healthy middle aged individuals that show a whopping 1g/lb of of dietary protein to be dangerous.....?

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on January 31, 2014
at 05:02 PM

The Gastronomer, I'm a big guy, 200lbs 6'3". If I eat less than 3,000 calories per day I lose weight. My body-fat is around 13%. My question to you is what on earth are you eating that you only get 50 grams of protein per day. For me, eating moderate meat, fruits vegetables, nuts and Whole Grains it would actually be difficult for me to get less than 50 grams of protein per day. I would have to go out of my way to make that happen.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 31, 2014
at 02:00 PM

That's the same specious logic that says you shouldn't eat cholesterol because it will raise your cholesterol. Do the research, there's a ton out there. All of the research (I've read over 20 independent reports) centralize on between 1 + .25 g/lb lean body mass for healthy adults.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 30, 2014
at 05:32 PM

For a second there I read "sardines" instead of "saltines" and almost got mad lol. Sardines are awesome, saltines not so much.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 30, 2014
at 05:30 PM

The elderly suffer from long-term muscle wasting regardless of protein intake for the most part because they are aging and aging entails degeneration of muscle tissue. If 50 grams is sufficient to stop (or at least substantially slow down) muscular degeneration in an elderly person, then this should be a clue that for a normal person who is not aging (and thus not suffering from muscle wasting) 50 grams is certainly enough. Obviously, this assumes a person with a sedentary level of activity and average weight and height. The literature also shows that a large protein intake is detrimental.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 30, 2014
at 05:06 PM

I could not disagree with you more. I used .75g/lb lean body which is on the low end of recommendations from teh medical community (not bro-science). There are vast amounts of literature that backs up these claims. And vast amounts of literature that shows that show muscle degeneration occurs below this level.

Do the research. The 50g number comes from a study of elderly people to prevent muscle degeneration -- not my idea of optimal.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 30, 2014
at 03:28 PM

I see you chose your "optimal" protein amount to be 1 +/- 0.25 g/pound*day, which is essentially the oft-repeated 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (with a 0.25g margin of error) magical amount of protein we should all be eating. This a the classic example of broscience, this number is what gets tossed around in gyms and in fitness centers everywhere with little evidence to substantiate it. There is no evidence that 50g is not optimal for health and blood glucose control. If your interest is building vanity muscles and impressing ladies, that is a different matter however.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 30, 2014
at 02:43 PM

My biggest concern with your post is the final statement. RDA is a minimum to prevent sickness. They are not optimal levels. 50g is the minimum to prevent sarcopenia in inactive adults. Somewhere between .75-1.25 g protein per lbs lean body mass is typically found to be optimal for active adults. For a 175lb active man with 15% bodyfat (i.e. me) that equates to 100-150g protein per day. We should not accept minimums as our thresholds, we should seek out optimals.

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4 Answers

0
D371623b5671d11fa678b201ff23442b

on February 01, 2014
at 11:38 PM

No, Low Carb does not make you insulin resistant.

Hundreds of people on low-carb forums have gotten their blood sugar under control when they cut the "complex carbs" that Conventional Wisdom always recommends diabetics eat more of.

0
7e36094a0f7a2fbad24290225405220b

(2064)

on February 01, 2014
at 10:29 PM

I saw that programme. The low carber's blood glucose went from 5.1 to 5.9. Both perfectly normal numbers and within a normal range. They just needed to find something!

0
Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 30, 2014
at 02:14 PM

Alright, here is what is happening. On a ketogenic diet or a very low carb diet, the body (the cells in most of your body, except the brain) turns to fat for energy in order to preserve glucose for the brain. This occurs because insulin levels are quite low and therefore the glucose transporters in your cells are inactive, therefore glucose is not taken up but fatty acids are. The reason that fat is taken up is because hormone sensitive lipase is activated when insulin levels are low (low-carb or fasting induce low insulin) and glucagon levels are high; the purpose of hormone sensitive lipase is to begin the breakdown of triglycerides into free fatty acids. This is what the cells utilize for energy through fatty acid beta-oxidation in this state.

Now since in this state the cells in your body are only taking in fat, since that is what you are feeding them, they ignore the glucose in the blood (physiological insulin resistance) so that the brain can use it. Keep in mind however, that glucagon (which is high when insulin is low) tells the liver to engage in gluconeogenesis and produce glucose from excess amino acids and glycerol. This can cause a spike in blood glucose if an excess of gluconoegenic amino acids are consumed, because there is very little insulin and the cells are taking up fatty acids instead of glucose. So the glucose will linger in your blood, until your brain metabolizes it, or until it is substantial enough to force your pancreatic beta cells to release insulin once again to instruct you cells to revert to using glucose, in order to consume the lingering glucose in the blood. This is why true ketogenic diets restrict protein, because in excess they convert to glucose and force the body to go back to using glucose for energy instead of fat.

Moral of the story: VLC will keep your blood glucose low if you eat mainly fat and do not consume more protein than you need to, you'd be surprised how little protein the body actually needs for maintenance and repair. Here in the US the RDA for protein is 50g on a 2000 calorie diet, that is a good starting point.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 30, 2014
at 02:43 PM

My biggest concern with your post is the final statement. RDA is a minimum to prevent sickness. They are not optimal levels. 50g is the minimum to prevent sarcopenia in inactive adults. Somewhere between .75-1.25 g protein per lbs lean body mass is typically found to be optimal for active adults. For a 175lb active man with 15% bodyfat (i.e. me) that equates to 100-150g protein per day. We should not accept minimums as our thresholds, we should seek out optimals.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 01, 2014
at 09:27 PM

some discussion of protein requirements in article & comments in an oldish Jaminet post here, protein-for-athletes. (the Jaminet book may have more up to date info tho, have not checked it).

some musings on the bro-science...it may be that bodybuilders go imperial & non-bodybuilders go metric...wot?...eg. 1g/lb compared to 1g/kg....(& then there is total body weight vs lbm to muddy the waters further).

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 30, 2014
at 01:05 PM

Not likely. Better yet, don't go ketogenic, just stop guzzling Mountain Dew and scarfing down saltines. Eat real food.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on January 30, 2014
at 05:32 PM

For a second there I read "sardines" instead of "saltines" and almost got mad lol. Sardines are awesome, saltines not so much.

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