7

votes

Is it dangerous to switch between low-carb and moderate-carb often?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 09, 2011 at 9:22 PM

I like to switch things up once in a while for the possible benefits of randomness. I usually do about 100g of carbs a day, but a couple days a week I'll go lower carb, or intermittent fast. I am lean and as far as I know have no metabolic derangement.

Am I taking any damages associated with high blood sugar by switching between low and moderate carb? My concern here is that after my more ketogenic/fasting days, I will be slightly insulin resistant (due to my cells attempting to conserve glucose for the brain), and therefore a more carby day after will cause higher blood glucose levels. Am I messing with my body's insulin responses too much by not sticking to a constant macronutrient ratio? Am I worrying far too much about this?

Bonus question (which has most likely been asked here before but I am going to be naughty and ask it again): Are there potential postprandial blood-sugar problems associated with eating a meal high in both palmitic acid and glucose (say, ground beef and potatoes)? From what I've read, palmitic acid promotes physiological insulin resistance.

Bonus question #2 (for my own educational purposes): Am I correct in saying that one on a paleo low-carb diet will have a slightly higher fasting blood glucose than one on a paleo moderate-carb diet?

Now to go read some Hyperlipid and maybe answer my own questions.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 10:21 AM

Well. It's all in the OP question, but: For some people because they become less insulin sensitive due to low carb, spiking with carbs might drive their blood glucose up to damaging levels. It is also conceivable that yoyo-ing with your insulin levels might be damaging in the long run for some feedback system.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 10:18 AM

Any rules of thumb that you know of, to determine how much carbs, based on the exercise?

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 10:17 AM

What's this adiponectin, Stabby. Never heard of it and would like to know more. Any articles you could recommend on it?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on March 10, 2011
at 12:54 AM

And that's not to say that low fat diets are better with respect to insulin issues. Someone with more fat is eating less carbs and doesn't need that insulin sensitivity. Fats raise adiponectin far more than carbs so the basal sensitivity - the health of the person is going to be greater. 200g of carbs doesn't have to raise triglycerides then. The problems would then be in the over 50% range.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on March 10, 2011
at 12:51 AM

That says it all right there. You're healthy in your blood fat! It really all is about our basal insulin sensitivity and metabolic health. Okay maybe very very low fat diets confer a greater insulin sensitivity, but it is a band-aid for poor health just like low carb can be. Someone with low inflammation, a healthy gut, good adiponectin levels and nutrient status can eat a mixed diet without raising triglycerides.

5472f6c94387c7fc82a04da4885363b0

(353)

on March 10, 2011
at 12:27 AM

According to Matt LaLonde (on Robb Wolfs podcast). Blood glucose will increase on a low carb diet as your tissues become slightly insulin resistant (your body is trying to conserve glucose). The pathology (if I'm using that word correctly) is different from SAD insulin resistance and you shouldn't worry about it.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 12:05 AM

Awesome question. Often wondered that myself.

38d45921e803c69a82a4ea765093b323

on March 09, 2011
at 09:58 PM

good question. I often do the same and I also asked myself that question! Would be bad to go to "low carb" and "moderate carb" with the goal to aviod insuline spikes, and then realising that even these switches within the Low carb continuum is efficinet to damage the insulin system. Simply by switching carb from medium to low and back. But I guess we worry to much about that...

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4 Answers

4
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 10, 2011
at 12:32 AM

I switch actually between VLC and moderate carb (100-200 grams a day). My triglycerides were 36 when they were last checked. I have found this is a regime that works quite well for me. I actually haven't had the insulin resistance or cholesterol problems some of my low carb friends have.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on March 10, 2011
at 12:54 AM

And that's not to say that low fat diets are better with respect to insulin issues. Someone with more fat is eating less carbs and doesn't need that insulin sensitivity. Fats raise adiponectin far more than carbs so the basal sensitivity - the health of the person is going to be greater. 200g of carbs doesn't have to raise triglycerides then. The problems would then be in the over 50% range.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 10:17 AM

What's this adiponectin, Stabby. Never heard of it and would like to know more. Any articles you could recommend on it?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on March 10, 2011
at 12:51 AM

That says it all right there. You're healthy in your blood fat! It really all is about our basal insulin sensitivity and metabolic health. Okay maybe very very low fat diets confer a greater insulin sensitivity, but it is a band-aid for poor health just like low carb can be. Someone with low inflammation, a healthy gut, good adiponectin levels and nutrient status can eat a mixed diet without raising triglycerides.

3
Medium avatar

on March 10, 2011
at 12:26 AM

I think it's important for any discussion of carbs to have some mention of glycogen. In most of the paleo-ish literature I read there is precious little about glycogen and I don't really understand why. Take Taubes' WWGF for example. He goes into tedious detail on many things but only mentions glycogen I think 5 times in passing. For someone who is talking about insulin as a primary agent in adiposity, he should be qualifying a lot of his statements with "as long as glycogen is saturated, insulin will...."

Which brings me to the question at hand which is the potential risks of oscillating between low and moderate carb. If you are going in and out of ketosis, like 1 week on, 1 week off, it would be unnecessarily stressful and I would wager unhealthy in general. On the other hand, I have experimented with alternating days and it works really well. On days where I deplete glycogen (MWF in my case) I eat a fairly substantial amount of sweet potato. On days where I don't workout and I'm just walking around, I get pretty close to zero carb. Sometimes I'll feel my liver glycogen dip too low on off days and eat a little bit of carbs, but for the most part, it's an on/off alternating. You end up efficiently recharging your glycogen stores while taking advantage of the anabolic nature of insulin. There's a reason why bodybuilders (stupidly and dangerously) inject insulin ("slin" to use their vernacular) when they're not diabetic.

Glucose gets partitioned preferentially as glycogen because it's a more efficient process (7% ATP loss vs 25%) compared to storing it as fat. Your body will do this all day long if you are continually depleting and repleting glycogen. The truth is that most people aren't doing this to any great extent. You're depleting your liver glycogen constantly, but it's a shallow reservoir of about 100g and I suspect that our consumption of ketogenic fats leads to ketone-body utilization by the brain etc. even in the presence of sufficient glucose, so the exhaustion of liver glycogen is slower (this is simply a hunch based on experience).

If you were able to perfectly predict the saturation status of your glycogen stores and top them up to 99% all the time without exceeding that point, I doubt that you would gain any measurable amount of fat ever. There must be some mechanism whereby excess dietary fatty acids are stored as TGs in adipocytes, but I'm not aware of it. For what I do, the lack of insulin on what are basically zero carb days causes a downregulation of insulin to the point that adipocyte lipolysis suppression is largely halted. With a protocol like this, it is very easy to lose fat while gaining muscle (if you look at a few days at a time). For what it's worth, I feel great doing it.

I advocate pitching the whole idea of X # of carbs/day and instead thinking of it as X # of carbs needed on Y day to recharge Z glycogen depletion. If you lift weights or sprint on a particular day, feel free to recharge with more carbs. If you're just sitting or walking around, even a lot of walking, you can get by with very little. Over time, the latter situation should result in a gradual depletion of most glycogen which could necessitate a weekly recharge or something, but if you're working out every couple days, it's safe for fat loss to load up on those days. The amounts will be highly variable and will require experimentation of course.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 10:18 AM

Any rules of thumb that you know of, to determine how much carbs, based on the exercise?

0
Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on March 09, 2011
at 10:04 PM

Why would it? If you look at your diet over the long run - as in lifelong, are you eating well balanced, quality meals?

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on March 10, 2011
at 10:21 AM

Well. It's all in the OP question, but: For some people because they become less insulin sensitive due to low carb, spiking with carbs might drive their blood glucose up to damaging levels. It is also conceivable that yoyo-ing with your insulin levels might be damaging in the long run for some feedback system.

0
F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 09, 2011
at 09:55 PM

You wouldn't have a consistent macronutrient ratio in the wild, as it were. I doubt it's going to hurt much switching things up now and again. Especially if you're getting your carbs from healthy sources (from a Paleo perspective).

Yep, I've heard about low-carbers having slightly higher fasting blood sugar. As long as fasting glucose doesn't get high I wouldn't worry--after meals is more important. Can't say how your particular body will respond to various meals though. To answer that question best, you should get a glucose meter. Damage starts occurring at more than 140 mg/dl one hour postprandial (after you finish your meal). As long as you don't go over that you should be OK.

5472f6c94387c7fc82a04da4885363b0

(353)

on March 10, 2011
at 12:27 AM

According to Matt LaLonde (on Robb Wolfs podcast). Blood glucose will increase on a low carb diet as your tissues become slightly insulin resistant (your body is trying to conserve glucose). The pathology (if I'm using that word correctly) is different from SAD insulin resistance and you shouldn't worry about it.

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