You see a lot of changing information. Some people say 20g of carbs or lower. Others say 30g of NET carbs or lower. Others just say 50g total carbs or lower. Just this past week, one of the people I watch, Jason Wittrock, sort of/kind of lost his mind over this telling people 50 total carbs.
What is the TRUTH?
The truth is….no one really knows. And, to make it more complicated, it could be different for each person. But let me unpack the differences.
What is in TOTAL carbs?
You have your carbohydrates of course…some sugars from whatever. And then you have your fibers, both soluble and insoluble. But then you have the other category – the sugar alcohols, which are neither sugar nor alcohol. One of the things Jason was losing his mind over was the person who wants to sit and eat a bag of keto cookies then wonder why they aren’t losing weight. “But I was under 30 net carbs”.
Where the problem is, is that the “sugar alcohols” aren’t exactly “carb free”. KetoConnect did an informal study on different kinds of sugar alcohols and their “net effect” on carbs. Some of them might be closer to half the carbs – so if something said it was 20g of total carbs but 4g of net carbs, they are finding that maybe the total net carbs would be closer to 12g of net carbs.
At issue is the food labeling companies are allowed to deduct carbs from net carbs based on their ingredients – that different sugar alcohols/fibers they are allowed to remove from the carb count. So, if it looks too good to be true, it might be.
What this boils down to is not going crazy with sweeteners of any kind. I recently posted about my keto cheese cake and keto chocolate, but it’s all in context. In 3 months of keto, I have made up ONE batch of the cheese cake and 3 chocolate bars. What I see a lot on youtube with keto is – “look at all of this stuff you can have and not gain weight!”. Mark Sisson is a big advocate of “eating all you can get away with” – but if you are trying to LOSE weight, I would advocate you have this stuff sparingly. I would not advocate stuffing 400-600 calories of artificial sweets with fat daily.
Do calories count?
No…and yes. I’ve been reading “the calorie myth” by Jonathan Bailor. Great book. In it, he points out a few things which are hard to deny. For example,
- Each person needs to have about a million calories per year
- Food labels can be off as much as 10% plus or minus
- You can’t tell accurately what you are burning
For example, if you think some math equation can tell you that you burn 2,000 calories per day is accurate, you’re wrong. First, you might need to calculate to the ounce how much fat, muscle, and water you have. Currently, most equipment we have is accurate to a few percent, but some people may have more muscle in their legs, other may have more muscle in their chest. Then, one day you may move 5,000 steps and the next day 14,000 steps. Washing the dishes. Mowing the lawn. Thinking. How accurate can you tell your energy expenditure on any given day? Within 10%? 20%? If you have too much protein, your body converts it to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis, so potentially 300 calories of protein are converted to 100 calories of glucose through an expensive process chemically. So having 300-350g of protein within your calories every day? Your body might only need 150g of that, and the rest is converted to glucose, so you’re probably under your calories then every day.
Then – you become more efficient with exercise, so maybe day 1 of running 20 minutes you burn 200 calories, but 6 months into running every day, you might run 40 minutes and only burn 200 calories.
Side note: Jonathan Bailor advocates having people he trained to get certified as a trainer. Not necessarily to do it, but to see what the trainer is learning. I might have an interest in this some day – to understand this even further. But, if I had to be in that position and recommend calories to someone who wants to lose weight? It’s gotta be a tough spot to be in. I know from my end, I never lost more weight in my life than when someone told me to eat 2800 calories a day. Then, when calories got dialed back, eventually, weight loss slowed and stopped for months on end. When I changed the macros to reduce/eliminate sugar, I’m now back to about roughly 9-10 pounds of weight loss per month on average so far. I have not changed my exercise, and I’m less hungry than I ever have been in my life, by a long shot. And I eat fat, and it is amazing!!! If I was a trainer, today, I would really start to look at the endocrine system and what types of foods do what to people, as some people are more sensitive to insulin than others, and these should have reduced carbs. Tough game, I don’t think I’d ever want to do it, but maybe someday my industry goes away and it would be nice to know things 🙂
end of side note…
So all of that – you start to realize that calorie counting is – beyond not accurate.
Furthermore, he then points out a great point. 100 years ago, not one person counted calories and no foods had labels with calories, and you’d have 3 people in ONE THOUSAND get diabetes. In fact, this was when they started to feel there was an epidemic in the cities. This was a rare, rare disease, now one in SEVEN are diagnosed with it.
Therefore, 100 years later with EVERYONE counting calories, why is it that people lose weight, gain it all back and then some? Why are some people hungry all the time?
The shift now has been moving the entire industry of weight loss FROM a physics problem of calories in versus calories out to the endocrine system with hormones. Fat burning is a hormonal issue, not a caloric issue. This is why you see some skinny people who can eat 4,000 calories a day and not gain a pound, and you have really large people eating 1,200 calories a day and starving themselves and the scale doesn’t move.
Most of the science in this arena chases down insulin. I had been told to eat 4-6 small meals a day. Use the food pyramid. Eat 1,800-2,000 calories, and you can do anything within those calories as long as it satisfies the food pyramid. Well….this is junk science. What we are finding is there was not one…not ONE trial on how this way of eating would impact a person, let alone a society. This was put in place in 1977. And guess what. The last 40 years has seen our population explode with:
- heart disease
- metabolic disease
Dr. Lustig talks about a lot of the problems today as a “processed food disease”. It’s compelling shit. Many of the keto folks have discussed, in depth, how saturated fats are not the enemy, and how LDL as a number is bunk science. That lipid panels are useless, and you need a test called the NMR lipid profile to determine small/large LDL particle size. That there is no correlation between high LDL cholesterol and heart disease – but there is a STRONG correlation between small particle LDL sizes and heart disease. With keto, you are increasing your HDL and improving so many numbers.
Even if keto is too much for you, Lustig points out that where many diets “get it right” is removing processed food and added sugars. So, whether you want to do zone, paleo, weight watchers, vegan, vegetarian – whatever diet you pick – the BIG issue is added sugars.
What is of interest, today….
For me, I don’t care if I go over calories. In fact, I eat as MUCH as I want and can take. And most days, I can’t even approach my 2,200 unless I eat some of my prepared sweets which are loaded with calories. What most of these low carb guys will tell you is – TRY to eat more. If you are using a “well formulated” ketogenic diet, it FIXES your body’s ability to actually feel full. You start to fix leptin. Things come back into balance. I only eat one meal a day during the week. Seems EXTREME, right? When I have my keto coffee in the morning, I’m not hungry until dinner time. You only eat when you are hungry. Satiety fixes this.
And back to Bailor’s and Lustig’s points. When you remove CRAP from processed foods/added sugars, your body will tell you when you are truly hungry and tell you when you should stop eating. For the first time in my entire life, I feel I have controlled my hunger. While I did a “traditional” diet for 15 months, and often I was satiated pretty good – there were times that had I not had portion controlled prepped meals, I could have eaten a house. With this diet, good luck getting filled up on salad and ground beef…or chicken and cabbage.
Has anyone seen what 8 cups of salad with a half a pound of ground beef with bacon and cheese looks like? Have they tried to eat it? It’s about 1,000 calories and it completely stuffs me. It tastes amazing. And I’m good for 24 hours.
While I’m out of time at the moment, the next item I plan to write tomorrow is about saturated fats, LDL cholesterol, and what the recent science is showing. So many people like myself have been brought up where we must eat low fat diets and avoid saturated fats because it will clog arteries. Well, the problem is, they were sort of wrong about causation. If you go back and look at the studies that did this, these diets that were high in saturated fats were also high in carbohydrates. So, eating a big ass new York strip steak with a baked potato that spikes your insulin more than table sugar? That apparently is the recipe of death and where saturated fats got their bad name. In the absence of carbohydrates, saturated fats are harmless and needed for the body for fuel. So – more on that, with the LDL-C and LDL-P with all of the world’s leading researchers on this. Short story – they got it wrong 40 years ago when the sugar industry paid doctors to point at saturated fats as the cause for heart disease and diabetes. We now know this is a sugar problem, but most of you are thinking about what the text books have been saying for the last 40 years – which was ALL based off of the junk science that was paid off. And THAT has led to the problems we have today.