18

votes

Is high carb incompatible with high fat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 12, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Reading Guyenet's latest post rebutting the carbohydrate hypothesis it looks like every high carb culture he mentions tends to get fatter with the introduction of more fat in the diet.

If this is so, could we say that high fat and high carb aren't compatible (I'm assuming one isn't overeating and that the amount of calories consumed would be roughly the same)? Could it be that the culprit is combining high fat and high carb and that our bodies are mostly adapted to a diet either high in fat ou high in carbohydrate?

Also, when discussing low carb/high carb the only thing mentioned is weight loss. Couldn't there be other benefits when eating low carb (or high carb, for that matter) besides weight?

0d7be15fd1a76c7a713b0e2e75381e75

(307)

on September 19, 2012
at 09:28 PM

And coconut and avocado...

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 15, 2011
at 06:12 PM

Kinda, they had meat and animals similar to chickens/cows.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 15, 2011
at 05:29 PM

They also didn't have internet or laptops to discuss these matters :) By that logic chicken and beef aren't paleo as well because back then there was no domesticated species.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 13, 2011
at 10:19 AM

Paleo HG's didn't really have pots or pans so no way to make bone broth. I would say anything under 150g is low carb

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 13, 2011
at 02:15 AM

How is bone broth not paleo? Also, at how many grams do you define low-carb?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 09:11 PM

@rob-yup I try to get at least 4k+ daily

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 09:10 PM

Bone broth may be ok but we have no idea of the actual mag/cal content and I wouldn't exactly call bone broth paleo.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on August 12, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Hey Cliff, are you still eating a massive amount of calories.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on August 12, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Can't wait for your post Melissa. I get most of my calories from carbs, about 500 grams, and about 150 grams from fat, and I tend to keep protein low.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 07:30 PM

The carnivorous answer to calcium and magnesium, is of course, bone broth. I'm not sure about potassium.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 07:26 PM

Re the calories vs. volume issue, though that's valid in some sense, it can work for or against you. You may need to eat a ridiculous number of calories worth of meat to get something you could get with fewer calories of a vegetable, but the volume in the vegetable case might be equally daunting.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 07:26 PM

You're going to have to be smart about it either way.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:51 PM

You can't really get adequate calcium, magnesium or potassium on a VLC diet unless you make very smart food choices. Even then I'm not sure its possible.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:46 PM

wow lol, he compared 100g of carrots with 100g meat which is a horrible comparison. carrots are 88% water, beef is about 70%. The only comparison that matters is how many nutrients per calorie. Shellfish are rich in certain minerals but pretty devoid in calcium, magnesium and potassium just like every other animal food. A carb based diet supplemented with nutrient dense animal foods will always have more nutrtion than a low carb diet. You can get more than adequate fat soluble vitamins on even super low fat diets if you make good food choices.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:07 PM

I disagree. Fat has fat-soluble vitamins, and meat has minerals, especially shellfish, as Melissa recently pointed out. Meat is nutrient dense. Here's a nice post about it by Kresser: http://thehealthyskeptic.org/natures-most-potent-superfood "While it’s true that fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, their micronutrient content pales in comparison to what is found in meats and organ meats – especially liver." And it's not just liver, either.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:03 PM

That's okay, it's slightly different, and the recent debate makes it relevant again. I just thought it might also have some good answers.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:21 PM

Don't forget Durian and milk

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:18 PM

@abimorph because fats lack minerals and most vitamins. You can look at any food log program and see that in general whole plant foods have much more varied nutrition than animal products.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:15 PM

Right now I eat no meat or fish out of cost issues but I eat dairy with all my meals. Generally my meals are pretty low fat, typically a couple pounds of tubers, 1-2tb of fat and some whole milk.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I think based on my 1200/1400 calories per day that 75 grams is pretty moderate. If I ate 2000+ it would definitely be low.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:04 PM

it's funny, i would think of 75 or less per day as low carb!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:04 PM

i love your hypothesis! i think you can go higher carb with low fat, or high fat/protein, with low carb. the two are not compatible, regardless of the quality of either. awesome point, man.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 04:47 PM

@Ambimorph, oops, didn't realize that question was around. @ROB says in his question "If they ate tubers daily I can assure you they didn't drown them in fat" - that does make sense.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:41 PM

sage, bananas have always done that to me! My body processes the sugar from bananas different than any other food I eat. They always make me gain weight. How weird!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Why would you think high carb diets are more nutrient dense?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:34 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/50542/if-you-go-high-fat-must-you-also-go-low-carb

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 03:41 PM

Guess I don't need to worry about that steak *and* coconut oil roasted sweet potato on the plate then :)

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:17 PM

that you can chalk up to basic drop in 2 of the other bad things- wheat and sugar. taking those out will reduce some of the inflammatation and reduce the "sugar hunger"

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:48 PM

I agree the quality of fat matters. But what about the more Atkins-style diet where a lot of weight is lost but lots of frankenfoods/oils are still used?

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:46 PM

@Dinis I wonder about the same thing

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:35 PM

last month i tried adding more carbs back into my diet via sweet potatoes, bananas and apples. i went from less than 50g/24 hours to about 100-125g/24 hours and gained 1 inch around my waist in 2 weeks.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 02:27 PM

Again, my biggest concern right now is "mixing" carbs and fat - trying not to worry or feel guilty because I'm having a baked sweet potato, some side salad *and* a burger patty for dinner.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 02:20 PM

@cliff, just out of curiosity, could you post what you typically eat in a day? You still include meat and fish, right?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:11 PM

Tubers, fruit and squash are all paleo options. Fermented grains/beans and white rice are also another option that aren't necessarily paleo but can still be tolerated by most. I personally find a tuber based diet extremely easy to eat and extremely satisfying.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 02:02 PM

Interesting. By the way, if we exclude grains and legumes, we're kind of limited to root vegetables - for me, that would be harder to maintain than eating higher in fat (I haven' really counted, but I'd guess I'm on the low carb end of the spectrum - I do eat lots of veggies, mostly leafy greens, tomatoes and peppers and the occasional zucchini/squash - I probably have a sweet potato once a month).

2d090e680d86e2c768edb40b4b433978

(384)

on August 12, 2011
at 01:36 PM

I would definitely agree that food quality needs to be controlled for in studies. In Taube's example of the Pima Indians, they had processed flour and sugar products given to them by our government. Of course they got fat!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 12, 2011
at 01:18 PM

Great point! Food quality is really overlooked in so many studies.

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7 Answers

24
66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

on August 12, 2011
at 01:12 PM

in the comments, kurt harris makes the point to distinguish that when carbs or fat were introduced in those diet, it was usually introduced in the form of a toxic neolithic agent of disease- "carbs" usually means wheat and "fat" usually meant omega 6 seed oils. i have been trying to and i think the conversation looks a lot different when you stop thinking in terms of strict macronutrients and think of food quality.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:17 PM

that you can chalk up to basic drop in 2 of the other bad things- wheat and sugar. taking those out will reduce some of the inflammatation and reduce the "sugar hunger"

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:48 PM

I agree the quality of fat matters. But what about the more Atkins-style diet where a lot of weight is lost but lots of frankenfoods/oils are still used?

2d090e680d86e2c768edb40b4b433978

(384)

on August 12, 2011
at 01:36 PM

I would definitely agree that food quality needs to be controlled for in studies. In Taube's example of the Pima Indians, they had processed flour and sugar products given to them by our government. Of course they got fat!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 12, 2011
at 01:18 PM

Great point! Food quality is really overlooked in so many studies.

6
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 12, 2011
at 03:23 PM

I am working on a post on them, but the Ache are a tribe in the Amazon that eat high fat and plenty of carbs too. Based on bone depositions, it's possible that this is similar to the diet of peoples in the Middle Paleolithic. So no, I don't think there is much evidence that humans either have to eat low-fat or low-carb. What seems to make people all over the world fat, at different rates depending on genetic variation, is industrial food.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on August 12, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Can't wait for your post Melissa. I get most of my calories from carbs, about 500 grams, and about 150 grams from fat, and I tend to keep protein low.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 03:41 PM

Guess I don't need to worry about that steak *and* coconut oil roasted sweet potato on the plate then :)

6
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on August 12, 2011
at 01:18 PM

There are definitely other benefits to eating lower carb. I retain water BADLY when I eat too many wheat based carbs. (This does not happen with fruit/vegetable carbs.) I am talking 5/10 lbs over just a few days if I go on a high carb binge.

Generally, I eat moderate carb, my goal is 75 grams or less per day, but no gluten based carbs and that is enough to keep my water retention at bay.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I think based on my 1200/1400 calories per day that 75 grams is pretty moderate. If I ate 2000+ it would definitely be low.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:04 PM

it's funny, i would think of 75 or less per day as low carb!

4
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 01:46 PM

when discussing low carb/high carb the only thing mentioned is weight loss. Couldn't there be other benefits when eating low carb (or high carb, for that matter) besides weight?

This is a good question. Low carb diets definitely have some benefits for people who are obese or have certain pathological disorders.

On the other hand high carb diets generally have higher nutrient density and allow the storage of a significant amount of energy(high carb, high calorie diets increase glycogen stores to ~1000g). HC VLF diets also have therapeutic uses in treating heart disease, arthritis, obesity and even diabetes. HC diets also tend to be a lot cheaper and maybe more sustainable overall with the right agriculture choices?

I generally lean towards the opinion that higher carb diets are better overall unless the person has severely deranged glucose metabolism or can't tolerate carbs for whatever reason. I could be wrong though, I would love to hear some more benefits of a VLC diet because I personally don't have a lot of experience with it and haven't done a whole lot of research on the subject.

In regards to your main question there are some studies that allude to a problem mixing carbs/fats in the same meal but I think this is based on the assumption that the fat and carbs enter the bloodstream at the same time. I don't know if that's necessarily true under normal physiological circumstances though.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 09:10 PM

Bone broth may be ok but we have no idea of the actual mag/cal content and I wouldn't exactly call bone broth paleo.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 13, 2011
at 02:15 AM

How is bone broth not paleo? Also, at how many grams do you define low-carb?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:46 PM

wow lol, he compared 100g of carrots with 100g meat which is a horrible comparison. carrots are 88% water, beef is about 70%. The only comparison that matters is how many nutrients per calorie. Shellfish are rich in certain minerals but pretty devoid in calcium, magnesium and potassium just like every other animal food. A carb based diet supplemented with nutrient dense animal foods will always have more nutrtion than a low carb diet. You can get more than adequate fat soluble vitamins on even super low fat diets if you make good food choices.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 07:26 PM

Re the calories vs. volume issue, though that's valid in some sense, it can work for or against you. You may need to eat a ridiculous number of calories worth of meat to get something you could get with fewer calories of a vegetable, but the volume in the vegetable case might be equally daunting.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 07:26 PM

You're going to have to be smart about it either way.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:46 PM

@Dinis I wonder about the same thing

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 02:02 PM

Interesting. By the way, if we exclude grains and legumes, we're kind of limited to root vegetables - for me, that would be harder to maintain than eating higher in fat (I haven' really counted, but I'd guess I'm on the low carb end of the spectrum - I do eat lots of veggies, mostly leafy greens, tomatoes and peppers and the occasional zucchini/squash - I probably have a sweet potato once a month).

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Why would you think high carb diets are more nutrient dense?

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 02:20 PM

@cliff, just out of curiosity, could you post what you typically eat in a day? You still include meat and fish, right?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:51 PM

You can't really get adequate calcium, magnesium or potassium on a VLC diet unless you make very smart food choices. Even then I'm not sure its possible.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:07 PM

I disagree. Fat has fat-soluble vitamins, and meat has minerals, especially shellfish, as Melissa recently pointed out. Meat is nutrient dense. Here's a nice post about it by Kresser: http://thehealthyskeptic.org/natures-most-potent-superfood "While it’s true that fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, their micronutrient content pales in comparison to what is found in meats and organ meats – especially liver." And it's not just liver, either.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 12, 2011
at 07:30 PM

The carnivorous answer to calcium and magnesium, is of course, bone broth. I'm not sure about potassium.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:15 PM

Right now I eat no meat or fish out of cost issues but I eat dairy with all my meals. Generally my meals are pretty low fat, typically a couple pounds of tubers, 1-2tb of fat and some whole milk.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:11 PM

Tubers, fruit and squash are all paleo options. Fermented grains/beans and white rice are also another option that aren't necessarily paleo but can still be tolerated by most. I personally find a tuber based diet extremely easy to eat and extremely satisfying.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 12, 2011
at 02:27 PM

Again, my biggest concern right now is "mixing" carbs and fat - trying not to worry or feel guilty because I'm having a baked sweet potato, some side salad *and* a burger patty for dinner.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:18 PM

@abimorph because fats lack minerals and most vitamins. You can look at any food log program and see that in general whole plant foods have much more varied nutrition than animal products.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 09:11 PM

@rob-yup I try to get at least 4k+ daily

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on August 12, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Hey Cliff, are you still eating a massive amount of calories.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 13, 2011
at 10:19 AM

Paleo HG's didn't really have pots or pans so no way to make bone broth. I would say anything under 150g is low carb

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 15, 2011
at 06:12 PM

Kinda, they had meat and animals similar to chickens/cows.

F571bcba0e6196c3e53f599924eecab6

on August 15, 2011
at 05:29 PM

They also didn't have internet or laptops to discuss these matters :) By that logic chicken and beef aren't paleo as well because back then there was no domesticated species.

1
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:53 PM

I go only on my own experience here, but in addition to weight loss, I experience a reduction in inflammation both when on a HCLF diet and also on a LCHF diet. And while I have been on a lower-carb diet for about a year, I can almost time the breakouts as a function of the amount of carbs I had the previous day, especially if wheat was involved and, yes, to a certain extent, fruit and tubers. But what I look for is that if one eats a true whole-foods diet, that is, regular foods and not food that has been trimmed, skinned, degermed, expeller-pressed, etc., it is much easier to do the LCHF version instead of a HCLF version. The protein that I really need enough of is usually coupled with the fat. Carbs and fat aren't coupled together in real foods, only in our culinary combinations.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on August 12, 2011
at 05:21 PM

Don't forget Durian and milk

0d7be15fd1a76c7a713b0e2e75381e75

(307)

on September 19, 2012
at 09:28 PM

And coconut and avocado...

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:41 PM

I add carbs and fat together, I gain weight, I add meat and fats together and I lose weight. I think fat works better with certain food groups and badly with other food groups.

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 12, 2011
at 01:50 PM

If you're running close to your minimum weight, a switch in either direction would cause a weight gain out of all proportion to the amount of food eaten. Going from high fat to high carb, there's a water/glycogen gain. Going high carb to high fat there's a food retention gain (due to slowed digestion - I'm still living with the effect of a big piece of prime rib I ate a week ago). Either of these can result in a five pound overnight weight gain.

Neither of these events results in fatness, and the gain goes away in a few days. Real fat gain takes more time - months to years of steady overeating on any diet. Post Atkins regain comes to mind as an example on one side, "meat and potatoes" on the other.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:35 PM

last month i tried adding more carbs back into my diet via sweet potatoes, bananas and apples. i went from less than 50g/24 hours to about 100-125g/24 hours and gained 1 inch around my waist in 2 weeks.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:41 PM

sage, bananas have always done that to me! My body processes the sugar from bananas different than any other food I eat. They always make me gain weight. How weird!

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