Substitute complex carbs into simple ones for BB

Answered on November 08, 2016
Created October 18, 2016 at 5:48 PM

What's up folks?

Until recently I have eaten complex carbs such as brown rice and sweet potato as my main carbs sources. What if I will substitute them into simple such as bananas or any other fruits? Though, I will still reach a daily goal of about 300 carbs.

How do you think it will affect my muscle gains even if I still maintain the same habits of carb consumption (such as timing and macros)?

PS: I would appreciate scientific points of view.



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7 Answers



on October 23, 2016
at 08:57 AM

I don´t know anything about bodybuilding, but here are some thoughts on the various carbohydrates.


You may want to check out some of Ian Spreadbury´s work (for example (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402009/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BQg9wkPmVw).


According to him there is a major difference between roots/potatoes/fruits/vegetables (cellular carbohydrates) and grains/sugar (acellular). He believes the latter promotes an undesirable microbiota (gram negative bacteria) which then leads to endotoxins when combined with fat. So a high fat plus grain rich diet can cause a lot of endotoxins and this is a major problem especially if the liver isn´t able to deal with them.


Conversely a diet rich in for example butter and potatoes, but free of sugar and grains, seems to work fine, for me at least. A hundred years ago two persons ate nothing but butter/lard (approx 50% of energy as fats) and potatoes for 6 months and «the digestion was excellent throughout the experiment and both subjects felt very well». https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1252113/pdf/biochemj01140-0284.pdf


And so it´s not only about complex vs simple carbohydrates, but rather paleo vs non paleo carbohydrates, cellular vs non cellular carbohydrates. Eating a lot of grains and sugar may predispose to H. pylori infection in the stomach, and oral bacteria causing cavities, that didn´t exist in the pre agricultural era. With increase in sugar the past hundred years it has gotten even worse.


There is a lot of focus on «gut bacteria» and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) these days, but not enough on H. pylori in my opinion, as this bacteria seems to contribute to SIBO. Eradication of H pylori infection can sometimes cure other digestive problems (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017036/).


So H pylori interferes with stomach acid so you won´t get enough of that. The solution to H pylori is to eat cellular carbohydrates (difficult for the bacteria to extract energy from plus in the case of for example a raw apple or a raw carrot has some anti-bacteria properties as well), and avoid grains and sugar. Although honey, especially manuka honey, may perhaps be helpful as indicated by some studies. 1-2 tbsp of honey per day on average seems to be what was consumed in the stone age.


If a person doesn´t suffer from any undesirable microbial overgrowth, and the diet is rich in anti-microbials like spices, garlic etc, and supplies plenty of vegetables, grains should be tolerable for most people, even along with plenty of fat, as seen in many traditional cultures with (up until recently) excellent health. Soluble fiber found in vegetables, can also protect against endotoxins (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20138982). Brown rice has a lot of insoluble fiber, potatoes a lot of soluble fiber. Eating more soluble fiber and less insoluble fiber is advicable for those with irritable bowel syndrome.


Vinegar is especially interesting beacuse its acetic acid can kill off some of the gram negative bacteria, including H Pylori. So you´d get more stomach acid which is so important. On earthclinic.com many reports that vinegar alone (1-2 tbsp/day) can actually «cure» allergies. But lactic acid (from fermented foods or supplements like molkosan) can also be very helpful. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4439985/)

As regards diabetes, I have pointed before to studies like in Hawaii where the native population saw a massive decline in blood glucose after just 3 weeks on a very low fat diet with about 300 grams of carbs, mainly from roots (thus a high glycemic index diet) and some fruits. Caloric intake was however spontanteously reduced from around 2500 to 1600 due to satiety, but carb intake was the same. Also in a paleo diet study a decade ago, all participants actually reversed diabetes by eating mainly lean meat, fruits and vegetables (135 gram carbs/day on average). So blaming diabetes on carbohydrates per se is just wrong, but grains, sucrose, maybe dairy, vegetable oils, sure. This is seen in many countries like India and China with diabetes rates as high as in the US on high grain diets (but still relatively low in sucrose).

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on October 28, 2016
at 11:48 AM

I'm still "digesting" Dr. Yudkin's This Slimming Business. 75g a day of starch and sugar carbs (300 kcal) is his target for weight loss dieters, but for building muscle you're generally looking for weight gain. IMO eat the carbs you need to maintain your exercise, and keep your glycogen replenished.


The complex carbs you mention are starches, and are so easily broken into simple carbs that they're virtually the same as bananas. Yudkin's methodology treats sugars and starches the same. 8 oz of raw apple is equal to 3 oz cooked potato, for instance. From looking at his tables of 5g carb units, his portion sizes are affected by what we call glycemic load today. Root vegetables such as beets and carrots allow larger portions -about 2x- than tubers such as yams and potatoes. He counts cabbage, onion and mushroom carbs as zeros, allowing unlimited amounts.


@giu, comments still is not working...Yudkin's system of carb counting is in agreement with what you say. Despite having relatively high glycemic index, root vegetables can be eaten in much larger portions than high starch tubers and grains. To me beets and parsnips are very sweet tasting, yet their glycemic effect is much lower than starchy foods.



on November 08, 2016
at 11:54 AM


Seeds - including legumes and grains and to some extent nuts - are another type of foods than the roots, and the «paleo principle» is really that seed foods are not «designed» by the plant to be eaten, contrary to fruits. But this can manifest in different ways. Sometimes the seeds are almost impossible to digest (like flax seeds), or they are really poisonous (for example many fruit seeds: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/11/cyanide-in-fruit-seeds-how-dangerous-is-an-apple), then they could give diarrhea, but the more subtle long term harmful changes is more difficult to detect and this is why legumes, while perhaps a good type of food for many people in small quantities, should not be given the benefit of the doubt. Cordain has written a good paper, «Cereal Grains:
Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword» (he said he used 3 years researching/writing it): http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/EvolutionPaleolithic/Cereal%20Sword.pdf. I believe many of the similar anti-nutrients are also found in seeds and legumes, but it may not yet be so well researched. So we don´t really know many of the likely hidden toxins found in for example raw pumpkin seeds (except that they are not direct poisonous like many raw legumes), because there´s not a lot of interest in researching it. Of the legumes, we know probably the most about the long term problems with soy as it is such a commonly used food, such as it causing hypothyroidism and the numerous problems associated with this condition (however adding iodine rich foods like seaweeds commonly done in Japan may perhaps alleviate this to some extent).


Another point which also underlines this thinking is that while hunter gatheres commonly eat some roots, they don´t eat much seeds or legumes (and certainly not grains). The idea of seeds being benign may stem from the Atkins-low carb-high fat element within the paleo movement, they seem to believe that grains are bad mostly because they have carbohydrates and maybe gluten, not because of all the other anti-nutrients, therefore seeds, being high in fats and lower carb and free of gluten, are ideal foods. But at least with grains you have the option of buying it refined, made into bread, beer and so on, and thus many of these harmful substances have been removed or partially neutralized. And this is very different from for example snacking on pumpkin seeds. 2500 kcal pumpkin seeds would supply 5500 mg phosphorus and 100 grams of linolic acid! These are crazy high amounts. 2500 kcal white rice would supply just 800 mg phosphorus and 1-2 gram of linolic acid. With legumes you could also cook them or make them into things like natto, miso, tofu, soymilk etc, as you do, and then they may be fine in small quantities.


I should also mention taurine being a really important amino acid found chiefly in animal foods, especially some seafoods like octopus and various mollusks (http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/6/the-forgotten-longevity-benefits-of-taurine/page-01). The fact that taurine is put such great emphasis especially in canine feed, should tell us something. These foods are typically designed to make the pets as healthy as possible, and it is not so much corrupted by industry interests like big pharma that benefits from a sick population and have strong influence on the dietary guidelines and university research.

Yudkins approach seems very similar as Austrian doctor Wolfgang Lutz who died a few years ago at age 97. I believe he published his first work in the early 1960´s, in German language. Later an English edition with the title «life without bread» was published. Maybe he was influenced by Yudkin. It is a fixed 72 gram carb diet and otherwise eat whatever you want. It is used to treat various conditions, including digestive disorders.


My problem with the low carb high fat diet is that in order to obtain the recommended intake of for example potassium and fiber, you would have to eat large quantities of low carb veggies, or maybe legumes. But it is not natural from a paleo perspective to eat much of these foods. Rather the sweet and starchy foods were preferred. The disadvantages with these latter foods is that they also supply a lot of energy in the form of carbohydrates compared to low carb veggies. But if the alternative is to eat a lot of low carb veggies and then supply the same amount of energy in the form of fat, I´m not sure it makes much difference. For some people with compromised liver function, perhaps it is better to eat butter than sugar or honey, but is it better to eat butter than fruits for them?


The paleo diet studies have shown that a «mixed» diet with moderate amount of cellular carbohydrates and moderate to very low fat, can be effective not only in weight loss, but also reverse fatty liver, diabetes etc.


In a book published 50 years ago about proper etiquette, the advice for weight loss was simply to avoid bread, trim off the fat of the meat and eat fruits instead of cakes and pies, and for the underweight to add more cream to the coffee and have extra slices of bread with butter. I think this nicely sums up everything, that both carbohydrates and fat plays a role in this, however grains and sugar are particularly problematic. But the highly saturated animal fats like butter could also be fattening especially along with these acellular carbohydrates. This was also the thinking in another book written a hundred years ago: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/books/foodandcookery/fcsc.html


As regards the glycemic index, a reason why some sweet roots have much lower glycemic index than the starchy tubers is partially the fructose/sugar content, which must be converted to other substances. But it seems some population groups eat extremely large quantities of such starchy tubers (some of these tubers actually have a higher GI than potatoes), with excellent health and slim bodies. Also a lot of people have tried eating nothing but potatoes and this improves many health conditions. The potato hack guy I belive experienced a 10% drop in blood glucose after such a diet. Others have experienced similar or better results.



on October 26, 2016
at 01:01 PM

I do not know if this characterization is correct. for starters, both organic and nonorganic beans cost more than potatoes per lb. Second, with moderate amounts of rice and large amounts of fruits I had high blood glucose (about 100). So despite affording it I prefer to substitute most of my fruits with things such as beans, roots and sprouts. Second, the amount of K per calorie in beans is only 2/3 of potatoes, but the amounts of fiber and Mg is higher. Potatoes, too, have anti-nutrients, but what matters is how many anti-nutrients are left after processing. Sprouting and pressure cooking do make a big difference. I am unsure at this point about any effect of proteins and fiber eaten together, mostly because I do not know how to test it myself. Finally, about half the beans I consume are in natto form (I make it myself, with soybeans, but also with chickpeas, adzuki and other sprouted beans). Natto is the highest food in PQQ, K2, and bio-film busting enzymes.


Comment: @glib I can't make comments work, but I can edit inside your answer.  100 is not high blood glucose. When I was diabetic, mine was 200 and steady. There's a concern if you maintain levels above 100. thhq, 10/29/16



on October 25, 2016
at 06:35 PM


I think beans can be very beneficial for vegans or for someone who cannot afford to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Legumes have many of these vegetable components; a good amount of soluble fiber (and not too much insoluble fiber), antioxidants, potassium, folate etc. But they also have many anti-nutrients. I agree with you, we may not need much protein, but beans will add more protein than roots or fruits.


In the potato diet experiment, they may only have obtained about 4-5% of energy as proteins. However potatoes have very high protein quality, with a 110 score according to nutritiondata, higher than ground beef (but much lower than egg yolks or organ meats). Additionally it is possible that the high potassium content of the potatoes can have a protein «sparing» effect, as was shown in older people eating 5000 mg potassium/day had 3-4 pounds more of lean muscle mass than those with half the intake. Loren Cordain believes that a net acid forming diet - i.e. one low in potassium - may waste muscle mass to release glutamine to buffer out excess acids, and that an acidic diet could lead to low levels of glutamine and perhaps contribute to infections/ digestive problems etc (perhaps a reason why many find glutamine helpful for digestive problems).


Human milk has just 6% protein, or around 40 grams per 2500 kcal. But animal foods are more than protein, and it´s a big difference between muscle meat and organ meats. For example one would have to eat 1.5-2 pounds of ground beef (140 gram protein), to obtain as much choline and b5 as is found in human milk. On the other hand just 2 egg yolks plus 100 grams of misc organ meats (beef liver, kidney, brain and heart) (total 20 gram protein) would supply this amount of choline and b5. And there are other nutrients too, known and unknown. Choline seems especially important for older people, for brain function, liver function etc, and beans won´t provide as much choline as egg yolks and organ meats.

But eating just organ meats will likely cause an imbalance too. Perhaps we need something like a 2:1 muscle meat to organ meat ratio to get the right balance. Then protein intake can be very low. It seems that while some hunter gatherer groups can eat 30-35% of energy as protein, much of this just goes into carbohydrates (glycogen)/energy anyway, and it is a question whether it is more beneficial to just eat fruits and roots instead, or even butter.



on October 24, 2016
at 12:19 PM

another excellent post, Giu. It brings me to briefly discuss beans, a food associated with longevity. Potato and butter works because it is low in proteins, too, and many are realizing that not only you want to keep your insulin low, your leptin low, but also and perhaps most importantly your mTOR low (and hence your proteins low). Beans have a favorable fiber/calorie ratio compared to potatoes (and virtually all other non-fat caloric foods). That results in a lower glycemic index compared to potatoes. I wonder if the equivalent of a glycemic index for proteins/mTOR is or is not kept low too by the same fiber. The criticism of beans proteins, which are not digested as well as meat, may be actually a strength, longevity-wise. The more I experiment with my diet, the more I appreciate the advantages of low protein.



on October 22, 2016
at 03:06 PM

The primary difference is - simple sugars will spike your insulin a lot faster. Complex carbs will be broken down over a longer period of time into simple sugar, and you'll probably release the same amount of insulin, but just slower. The big difference is that complex carbs include fiber which is beneficial to your gut flora, which high blood glucose will feed the bad bacteria which will eventually lead to sickness. Another difference is that starches will break down to mostly glucose, while bananas will break down to fructose and glucose. Fructose will feed the bad bacteria, and if your liver has enough stores of glucose, it won't convert fructose to glucose, rather it will convert it to triglycerides. If it's unable to clear itself of these triglycerides over enough time, you'll wind up with fatty liver. High fructose intake will also cause lots of glycation end products known as AGEs which are pretty detrimental. Also, chronic high insulin, whether from simple or complex carbs will cause insulin resistance, which over time will lead to pre-diabetes and eventually full on diabetes. This happens even more quickly in the presence of PUFAs. But all that said, one or two bananas a day isn't going to cause this, liters a day of soda will. So if you want to switch to fruit instead of starches, likely nothing bad will happen. Just make sure you get enough leafy greens to feed your gut and make sure your body is fine with the sugar intake. Consume fruit after you've depleted your glucose stores (i.e. after workouts.)

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