10 Things Dietitians Say About Low-Carb Diets That Don’t Make Sense

Dietitian Examining an AppleWhen arguing with nutrition professionals about diet, it can be hard to get your point across.

They often seem biased against ideas that don’t fit with their philosophy.

They say we should eat a “balanced” diet (that includes sugar!!) and enjoy everything in moderation.

When the topic of low-carb turns up, they tend to dismiss it, call it a “fad” diet and say that it is either harmful or impossible to stick to.

Here are 10 things dietitians say about low-carb diets that just don’t make sense.

1. Low Carb Diets Are Hard to Stick to

I often see the claim that excluding entire food groups can be hard and that it is impossible to sustain such an “extreme” change in the way you eat.

This point kind of makes sense. Not allowing yourself certain types of foods could lead to feelings of deprivation.

But the thing is, all diets restrict something. They either restrict food groups or restrict calories. For some people, the calorie restriction approach may be more feasible. But it is NOT the only way.

Many people don’t seem to understand how low-carb diets work and what their main advantage is when it comes to weight loss.

This is the fact that eating low-carb leads to automatic reduction in appetite and effortless calorie restriction (1). Compare that to the low-fat, “balanced” diet – which requires you to count calories and be hungry!

This is a graph from one of the studies that compared low-carb and low-fat diets. The low-carb dieters are eating until fullness, while the low-fat dieters are calorie restricted (2).

Weight Loss Graph, Low Carb vs Low Fat

I don’t know about you, but I hate being hungry. It is a very uncomfortable feeling.

If I get hungry, I eat!

If there is a diet plan out there that allows me to eat until fullness and still lose weight, then that sure is hell is the one I will choose.

In most studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, more people in the low-carb groups make it to the end. If anything, they are easier to stick to.

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets are not harder to stick to. These diets reduce hunger and more people in the low-carb groups make it to the end of the studies.

2. Low Carb Diets Exclude Food Groups That Are Essential


It is true that if you want to reap the full benefits of low-carb, then you must remove certain food items from your diet.

These are primarily sugars and starches and include grains, legumes, candies, sugary soft drinks and other high carb foods.

If you want to go very low on the carbs and get into ketosis, you must also cut back on fruits.

Despite the hype about these foods, there is no actual need for them in the diet.

Humans didn’t have access to most of these foods throughout evolutionary history. We didn’t start eating grains until about 10.000 years ago and we certainly didn’t start eating processed junk foods until very recently.

There simply is NO nutrient in starchy or sugary foods that we can’t get in greater amounts from animal foods or vegetables.

And remember that low-carb diets are NOT no-carb. There’s room for plenty of vegetables, more than enough to satisfy your need for all the nutrients.

Bottom Line: There is no actual need for foods like grains in the diet. We can get all the nutrients from other foods in greater amounts.

3. Low Carb Diets Lead to a State Known as Ketosis, Which Causes Harm

Diabetic Shooting Insulin

Nutrition professionals often say that low-carb diets cause ketoacidosis, a medical emergency that can kill you.

Anyone with basic knowledge of biochemistry knows that this is completely false.

They’re confusing the words “ketosis” and “ketoacidosis” – which are vastly different.

Ketosis does happen on low-carb diets, especially when you eat under 50 grams of carbs per day.

When the body isn’t getting any carbs, it releases a lot of fats from the fat tissues, which go to the liver and are turned into so-called ketone bodies.

Ketone bodies are molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide energy for the brain when it isn’t receiving enough glucose.

This is the body’s natural response to a very low carb intake and also happens during starvation.

This is NOT to be confused with ketoacidosis, which is something that only happens in uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type I) and involves the bloodstream being flooded with glucose and ketone bodies in extremely large amounts.

Ketoacidosis is dangerous, that’s true. But that simply has NOTHING to do with low-carb diets.

The metabolic state of ketosis has been proven to be therapeutic in many ways. It can help with epilepsy, brain cancer and type II diabetes, to name a few (3, 4, 5).

Ketosis is a good thing, NOT something to be feared!

Bottom Line: Ketosis is a completely natural phenomenon that has nothing but positive effects and it is NOT to be confused with ketoacidosis, which only happens in uncontrolled diabetes.

4. Low Carb Diets Are High in Saturated Fat and Therefore Dangerous


On a low-carb diet, you’re encouraged to eat foods like meat and eggs, which happen to be rich in saturated fat and cholesterol.

This is claimed to cause all sorts of problems, raise your LDL cholesterol and risk of heart disease and whatnot.

But the thing is, saturated fats and cholesterol aren’t bad for you. This is a myth that has never been proven.

A massive study that came out in 2010 looked at 21 prospective studies that included a total of 347.747 subjects. Their results: there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease (6).

Despite being high in saturated fat, low-carb diets lead to a reduction in blood levels of saturated fat, because they become the body’s preferred fuel source (7).

Saturated fats in the diet raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change LDL from small, dense (very, very bad) to Large LDL – which is harmless (8, 9).

We can say the same for foods that are high in cholesterol.

For example, eggs have been demonized by nutrition professionals and the media. Despite the fear mongering, consuming eggs does NOT raise your bad LDL or your risk of heart disease (10, 11).

If anything, eggs are among the healthiest foods on the planet and eating them can provide various health benefits.

Bottom Line: Eating saturated fats or cholesterol is not harmful in any way. This is a myth that has been proven to be completely false.

5. Low Carb Diets Are Not Proven to be Safe in The Long Term


I often hear claims that low-carb diets are not proven to be safe in the long term.

This is not true. We do have randomized studies that went on for as long as 2 years, with no adverse effects and nothing but positive effects on health (12).

There is absolutely no reason to believe that these diets should cause problems down the line.

There are several populations around the world that have eaten almost no carbohydrates for very long periods of times (their whole lives).

These include the Inuit, which ate almost no plant foods, and the Masai in Africa which ate mostly meat and drank raw milk and blood.

Both of these populations ate lots of meat and fat, were in excellent health, with no evidence of many of the chronic diseases that are killing Western populations by the millions.

But what we DO have are long-term studies on low-fat diets. In the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest randomized controlled trial ever on diet, low-fat diets were proven to be completely ineffective.

After 7.5 years, the low-fat dieters weighed only 0.4 kg (1 pound) less than women eating the standard western junk food diet. There was also no reduction in heart disease (13, 14).

Bottom Line: Studies showing health benefits of low-carb have gone for as long as 2 years. Populations that have eaten low-carb, high-fat diets for long periods of time are in excellent health.

6. Most of The Weight Loss on Low Carb Diets is Water Weight

Woman Standing On The Scale Frustrated

It is true that in the first week or so, people on low-carb diets lose a lot of water weight.

The glycogen stores in the muscles and liver go down and along with them the water they tend to hold on to.

Additionally, low-carb diets reduce insulin levels, which cause the kidneys to release some of the sodium and water they are holding on to (15, 16).

But after you’ve lost that initial amount of water weight then you will continue to lose weight, but this time it’s coming from your body fat stores.

A study that used DEXA scanners, which can measure body composition with supreme accuracy, revealed that low-carb caused 3.4 kg (7.5 pounds) of fat loss and 1.1 kg (2.4 pounds) of muscle gain in only 6 weeks (17).

Another study that compared low-carb and low-fat diets showed that the low-carb group lost significantly more body fat, especially from the abdominal area where the “unhealthiest” fat in the body is (18).

Bottom Line: In the first week of low-carb eating, a lot of excess water is shed from the body. After that, the weight is coming from body fat stores.

7. Low Carb Diets Lead to Deficiencies in Vital Nutrients

Woman Confused About Salad And HamburgerCertain foods in the western diet actually lead to a reduction in nutrient absorption.

Grains, for example, are very high in a substance called phytic acid, which hinders absorption of iron, zinc and calcium from the diet (19).

Additionally, avoiding wheat (including whole wheat) should lead to improvements in Vitamin D levels, because wheat fiber has been shown to reduce blood levels of this very important vitamin (20).

Low-carb diets don’t contain wheat, are low in phytic acid and therefore don’t contain substances that “steal” nutrients from the body.

Most natural, unprocessed foods that are high in fat like eggs, meat, fish and nuts are incredibly nutritious and especially rich in fat soluble vitamins, which low-fat diets lack.

Low-carb diets tend to be high in vegetables. Personally I had never eaten as many vegetables as I did when I started eating low-carb. Now I eat vegetables with every meal.

Not a single one of the studies on low-carb diets in adults has demonstrated any signs of a nutrient deficiency!

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets allow for plenty of nutritious animal foods and vegetables, which provide all the nutrients necessary for humans.

8. Low Carb Diets Don’t Supply Carbs That The Brain Needs to Function

Woman Eating Meat

According to certain health authorities, the recommended daily minimum for carbohydrate is 130 grams.

The reason is that the brain is assumed to be dependent on glucose for fuel.

This is half true. There are certain neurons in the brain that can’t burn anything but glucose, but other parts of the brain can do just fine with ketone bodies.

When we eat very little carbs, our requirement for glucose goes down. Some parts of the brain start burning ketone bodies instead of glucose.

Even when we eat zero carbohydrates (which I don’t recommend btw), the body can produce ALL the glucose it needs out of proteins and fats via a process known as gluconeogenesis (21).

Low-carb diets don’t starve the brain, they don’t make you feel slow (unless perhaps in the first few days while you’re adapting) and they give the brain a stable source of energy throughout the day.

When your brain is burning ketones for fuel, you won’t experience the same blood sugar crashes and afternoon dips in energy. Personally my energy never feels as stable as when I’ve been eating little carbs for many days in a row.

Bottom Line: The body can produce all the glucose it needs from proteins and fats if it isn’t getting any from the diet.

9. Low Carb Diets Raise Your Risk of Heart Disease

It used to be “common knowledge” that a low-carb, high-fat diet would raise your risk of all sorts of diseases, most notably heart disease.

This hypothesis has been tested and proven to be false.

Since the year 2002, over 20 randomized controlled trials have been performed that compare low-carb and low-fat diets. They all lead to a similar conclusion.

Doctor With Thumbs Up

Low-carb diets:

  1. Reduce body fat much more than low-fat diets, even though the low-carb groups are allowed to eat until fullness (2, 22).
  2. Cause a greater reduction in blood pressure (23, 24).
  3. Lower blood sugar and improve symptoms of diabetes (25, 26).
  4. Lower blood triglycerides much more (27, 28).
  5. Change the pattern of LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very bad) to Large LDL (29, 30).
  6. Increase HDL (the good) cholesterol much more than low-fat diets (31).

They improve ALL biomarkers of health MORE than the low-fat diet still recommended by the authorities.

Still, many nutrition professionals have the audacity to claim that low-carb diets are dangerous and continue to peddle their failed low-fat dogma that is literally hurting more people than it helps.

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets actually improve all biomarkers of health much more than the low-fat diet still peddled by the mainstream.

10. Low Carb Diets Are Not Proven to Work

Fortunately, despite the low-carb diet nowhere to be found in mainstream guidelines, health professionals are taking notice.

Many doctors and quite a few dietitians have seen these studies and acknowledged low-carb, real-food based diets and started using them in their practice.

At the end of the day, there are few things as well proven in nutrition as the superiority of low-carb diets compared to the standard of care, a calorie restricted, low-fat diet (32, 33, 34).

Low-carb diets are the easiest, healthiest AND most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease like diabetes. It is a scientific fact.

Anything else you can think of? Feel free to add to the list in the comments!


  1. Great article Kris!

    I get extremely frustrated when I talk with nutritionists. One of my close cousins is a nutritionist and she buys this “everything in moderation” bullshit. I hear it all the time.

    I always ask “even soda?” Yep! Even in moderation! Please… it’s like nutritionists are controlled by the soda companies. It’s insane man, and incredibly frustrating trying to have a conversation with some of them.

    • Actually, you have a point about nutritionists being controlled by soda companies. Recently, Coca Cola was the “gold sponsor” of a symposium for dietitians/nutritionists.

      • Joe Leech says:

        Alex, Peggy,
        I’m a nutritionist. I never drink soda. If asked I recommend people avoid soda and diet-soda too.

        And I have no affiliation with the food industry, in fact I bash on the food industry all the time in my articles.

        Generalization never helped anybody. Just saying.

        • I agree, there are many great nutritionists and dietitians out there.

          Unfortunately, their large organizations are often heavily sponsored by food and/or drug companies. These people set the guidelines and it seems obvious that the guidelines are influenced by the large corporations.

        • In this case and with reference to the dietitians I would presume we are referring to the organisation and the members of it that have to follow protocol. N=1 does not help us a whole lot.

          Yes, I know dietitians who try to advise differently but it is a hard road and they are as yet not abundant. Nutritionists do not really have much of a presence in institutions like hospitals and nursing homes, etc. Putting this into a format that everybody can understand is only laudable.

          See also the (3) cholesterol/sat.fat posts that Chris Kresser is putting together, and last but not least the NuSi initiative by Gary Taubes and Peter Attia.

          Together we can make it work. Never be afraid that what you are saying has already been said. Can’t repeat it too often. Never hurts to yet again quote another study.

        • Be that as it may the professional body represents and regulates nutritionists and if that body is corrupt or seen as corrupt it’s your sell to convince me otherwise as benefit of the doubt is all but gone…

    • Yeah, I don’t buy the moderation thing, it’s just a sales scam by the food companies to make it seem ok to eat their processed crap.

      Reminds me of the amount of sugar cane you’d need to eat to get the equivalent amount of sugar in a regular daily serving of coke, it’s about 2 foot! (thanks to Robb Wolf for that one)

      Thanks for another great article Kris, your writing is a joy to read.


      • How can everything in moderation thing be bullshit? This is just a general term. That means taking carbs, proteins, and lipid groups in moderation. The body has a purpose for each group. That does not mean “Yes! I can drink soda anytime I want!” It means keeping your carbs down to the limits your body needs. You can get the carbs from vegetables and same with protein and lipids.

        “Everything in moderation” may be another phrase that food companies use to help sell their shitty food, but there are other terms they use to attract their customers as well, such as low fat, and low sodium, lower calories. With all of these claims, they either add another ingredient to compensate or they do the minimum amount required by federal regulations so they are able to put it on their label.

        There are many people fooled by this and think they’re eating healthier because of it. But let’s face the truth, processed foods are always inferior to fresh foods. You are in control of what you put into your food.

        I have seen many people get results from keto and if they can stick to it, that’s amazing! I’ve talked to a lot of those who are on keto. Those who I know who are on the keto diet/lifestyle are eating very healthy. I’ve seen many people who’ve gotten and sustained their results. I get it. I understand you can have a healthy diet with low carbs. I understand that you are frustrated with the whole food culture itself. It’s misunderstanding of how you’re trying to change your life.

        The thing I do not understand is bashing on food groups that are beneficial to your body. Fruits, red wine, and tea have been found to have flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They have also been found to increase cognitive function. There are many other examples of this.

        I do agree that the food guide is swayed by agricultural companies, but that doesn’t mean that all nutritionist and dietitians are ignorant of this fact. As a future dietitian, I find it really offensive to bash our profession. These are a group of people who are trying to help people have a better lifestyle through diet. They are trying to help people liver healthier lives.

        There are many ways of maintaining a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle, it’s just someone’s preference over another. But please, don’t bash on lifestyle changes that others are taking. It’s very inconsiderate to those it has helped and makes you look like a closed minded person.

        • Hi there! I do agree that bashing other ways to diet is not positive. However, I think a lot of us become frustrated because that is what is being done to us. There’s a certain amount of brainwashing that comes from constantly hearing the same things over and over. I am a food addict/compulsive overeater. It is not possible for me to eat “in moderation.” I typically can for a period of time, and then usually when I fall off the wagon, I overcompensate tenfold. You’re right: people absolutely need to find what works for them. We are not all the same, and there is no diet or exercise that is one size fits all. Have a wonderful day!

        • “As a future dietitian, I find it really offensive to bash our profession. These are a group of people who are trying to help people have a better lifestyle through diet. They are trying to help people liver healthier lives.”

          Then those people need to offer something better than “everything in moderation”.

          Soda is never, ever a good idea period for a healthy individual. It’s even less of a good idea in any form for a diabetic. Given those facts, how much is “moderate”? Once a month, once a week, once a day?

          That’s why “all things in moderation” is BS. It’s non-advise that leaves all the testing and real work to the client. Real advise is “drink only 1 soda a week (because that is moderate), but please try to wean entirely” There are knowable nutrition facts out there, but it would appear many nutritionists would like to be a helpful “expert” without offering specific, testable advise.

          • Totally agree. Back when I was in great shape people tried to get me to “moderate” crap foods but guess what, I got to where I was by NOT eating the junk, not by cutting down on it. The term “Everything in moderation” is just too vague.

    • “Everything in moderation, of course” and “along with a balanced diet” are code-phrases meaning “I really don’t know s*** about the topic at hand”, “I’m trying to cover my ass because my insurance company won’t”, “this is what my institutionalized training tells me to say”, and/or “I might not get corporate sponsored if I tell you what the data really suggests”.

      The question one has to ask themselves is “Why has the public been mislead by the nutritional pyramid for all this time?”. One can only speculate but if you’re thinking, “to support the market players”, I think you’re right on course.

      If high fructose corn syrup was never invented and sugar remained expensive, the obesity rate worldwide might be a little less than half of what it is today and healthcare might be far less in demand.

  2. Clarence Saizon says:

    As a personal trainer and Dietetics major I find most of what you say to be true except on one case. People who workout and exercise on a regular basis need more carbohydrates than prescribed on a low carb diet. If not I find they can barely get through their workouts because of fatigue.

    I have even experimented with this myself. I consider these diets mainly for people who get little to no exercise. No need for a lot of carbs for them because they don’t burn the calories off due to there inactivity and that produces weight gain.

    • Clarence, no – I believe the reference to the Masai should be sufficient for convincing you – carbohydrates are not necessary for working out. Many people are online now, blogging about doing full one-hour or so workouts and being fully keto-adapted.

      I believe research shows that carbs are actually harmful to our bodies – they are inflammatory.

      • I have met with many Masaai people over the past decades and it is not true that they only eat meat, blood and milk. They will eat cooked maize (ugali) and compliment with meat (if available) and blood/milk (if available).

        Same goes with many African tribes within many of the African countries. Meat is often considered a luxury and not something that is eaten exclusively. Anyone who has met with different tribes and observed their eating/cooking habits knows this.

        • Maybe their diet has changed in recent years, but when they were studied they ate mostly meat, blood and milk and were free of most modern chronic diseases.

          You can see it on the first page of this paper here, from 1989: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/40461671

          • It definitely has changed. I have spent quite a bit of time in Eastern Africa not least with certain tribes. Meat is a rarity nowadays. The diet mostly consists of starch, vegetables and legumes (and peanuts which are more related to legumes than actual peanuts).

            One thing also strikes me in those rural areas is the lack of stress, everything is at much slower pace than everywhere else, maybe that also is important. There is some obesity in major towns (such as Nairobi) and I have noticed that there is an abundance of “diet” type of foods with added rubbish. Something I didn’t see at all 10 years ago.

            This is a shame as the typical African meal is very pure and basic, made from scratch with local ingredients.

        • Mandi Kraft says:

          I live in Africa. African diets have been profoundly affected by the advent of ‘western’ foods – and so has the health of African people. One of the earliest studies linking sugar to adult-onset diabetes was done by a doctor in Natal, South Africa, who saw what happened to rural people who were exposed to sugar – they developed diabetes and other degenerative conditions.

          Meat has never been as freely available in a society that hunts as it is in ours. So when an animal was killed, it would be eaten from head to foot, including offal and organs and brains and all the densely nutritious parts that we ignore. But the other components of a traditional diet were not, until recently, starchy – maize, cassava and potatoes all come from South America, remember, and were imported to this continent.

          The grains were not able to cross the tropical regions successfully. So any starch in the diet was very moderate indeed – like the starchy tubers the Bushmen dig up in certain seasons. Otherwise nuts, seeds, tiny fruits (a Kei apple, as one example, is about the size of a ping-pong ball). What they did have, in most parts, was a very, very varied diet, including hundreds more plants than we utilise.

    • Robert Gahl says:

      Clarence, I’m a long distance athlete (bicyling/swimming). I’m not going to win a gold medal at either of these however, but I do okay (I’ve been known to swim for 2 hours at a respectable pace then pop out 3 hours worth of bike riding averaging over 20 mph in an urban commute environment). That isn’t TdF kind of riding, mind you, but I find I’m pretty quick compared to the average bike rider/swimmer.

      I’ve been on < 15g carbs/day going on 2 years. What I found is that the first 2 wks transition is hard on a competitive athlete. After a month, I found I had all the energy I needed (lost the "blahs"). There is always going to be a transition period when someone switches from carbs for energy to fat for energy (which, for long distance athletes, is a denser energy source).

      As you are a trainer, I'd recommend this book to you: The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. I'm not saying this book is gospel but it will help you to understand the transition that has to happen for competitive athletes to regain their form. I think this book also deals with the "need" for carbs for "burst speed" which also turns out not to be the brute given people assert.

      I think we both know that much of athletics is mental (I know in the pool, most of my fight is against my head, not my muscle). You can't discount an athlete looking at a job they used to do, factoring in they have made a drastic change in energy source, and as a result, not doubting the efficacy of this to some level. Athletes are creatures of habit… What worked in the past is hard to let go of.

      While admittedly anecdotal, I do know marathoners (tops in their age group) who do low carb and are still successful.

      Give the book a read. If you don't agree, no problem. I just wanted to give a professional a resource I found helpful in my own transition to low carb and exercise.

      • Joe Leech says:

        May I chime in here Robert.

        Are you saying your race day performance would suffer if you increased your carb intake >15g/day?

        I think you can perform one hour work outs and even marathons following a low-carb diet. If you’ve adapted no problem. And be “successful” too.

        But you won’t perform at the same intensity, nor get the same results or success as you would if you were on a moderate or high carb diet for that event.

        This is particularly more apparent in longer endurance events, and a work colleague of mine (fellow sport Dietitian) tested this in the very recent Marathon Des Sables “the toughest foot race on Earth” – In the race you must run 152 miles over 6 consecutive days carrying all your food.

        The bottom line is moderate/high carb diets are more beneficial than low/very low carb diets in the context of endurance events.

        • Robert Gahl says:

          Joe, that is an interesting question. I am able to operate at my peak performance w/o it at present (such as my rather ignominious peak is).

          I’ve always operated under the mantra that you race as you train. For instance, it’s been a long held mantra in my neck of the woods that a recumbent bicycle can’t climb worth beans and, yet, people who begin to regular train on them are finding that they can, indeed, climb just fine and are able to equate their hill climb time from the upright that they use to ride. Their success just required a rethinking of technique used. That and it takes time (and training).

          With respect to the race you mention, since you are required to carry everything on you, I wonder what the weight differential is between a low-carb setup versus a moderate to high carb setup. If marathons like that are like bicycle races, weight is everything. The less you carry, the faster you are (especially in the hills). I honestly don’t know the answer to that since I don’t do ultra’s (and I seriously don’t run any more).

          I’ll grant that most of my evidence is anecdotal. But, I’m not an olympic quality athlete, either. I never was. I never will be. I’m also older than dirt at this point (so the older I get, the greater I was). To truly know the answer to your question, someone would have to be “all in” and not just experiment with it.

          World class athletes are already a breed apart, what with muscle mix, metabolism, etc. They are wired differently than the rest of us. In my case, I’m wired to be a marathoner (low heart rate, great lung volume) but my muscle is not (at best I’d say my speed equates “amble”).

          I’ve just learned that you can’t look at a world class athlete and draw some conclusion from that for the rest of us louts.

          Thanks for the interchange.

          • You’ll like this video Rob its about a crossfit athlete that ran the marathon des Sables on a paleo only diet with minimal carbs. They compared the weight of his food to that of a high carb diet (using gels etc).


          • Robert Gahl says:

            I’m guessing, Joe, you are an advocate of Paleo. I recommend that diet to many, many folk. I do what I do because, to use Taubes’ terminology, I have metabolic syndrome bad. Pop that level of carbs above 15g and I start putting on weight again. I’m also 60 so, from a biochemistry perspective, all the things that use to attenuate insulin response in my body no longer do :)

            I look forward to seeing the results of the gentleman in that race.

        • This is all conjecture and hearsay, not evidence: To make a convincing argument regarding effect of diet on athletic performance, we must evaluate performance on one diet vs the other, after including adequate time for acclimatization to the diet. So far as I know, this has barely been investigated.

    • The other point about exercise is time for adaptation.

      There is a period of adaptation during which your exercise intensity needs to drop. You simply can’t deliver the amount of energy you need soley from fat, but only during this period.

      Stephen Phinney has done some pretty interesting research about this, and has shown that cardiovascular capacity is either the same or even higher once you’re adapted to a keto diet.

      The problem is that this adaptation can take up to three weeks, but will be shorter if you’re coming from a paleo type diet and you do intermittent fasting on a regular basis. It took me about a week, due to the points above, to adapt to fat for fuel.

      Having said that, you probably won’t be able to do super high intensity and volume workouts on a keto diet. They are just too demanding on the glycolytic energy pathways. Some people manage to stay mostly keto by only taking in sufficient carbs before and during workouts to fuel crossfit style workouts. But you still need to go through super low carb keto adaptation before you can add carbs in around high volume and intensity workouts, otherwise you don’t have the sufficient stimulus to completely keto adapt. This is also one of the mistakes made; to eat just high enough carbs to stop keto adaptation…

      Hope this helps,

    • I have found that I’m able to work out for a longer duration when I’m on a low carb diet.

    • Well, I can tell you this… I am a long distance runner, running 100 mile races, and I do not need more carbohydrates to run well… As a matter of fact, my running got a lot better when I switched my diet to low carb. Your clients who feel weak need to adjust to low carb. And to adjust, you need to go very low at first so your body can learn to burn fat. Without this adjustment, you feel weak. But once your body is adjusted, it is like day and night.

    • Rob Zamites says:

      This isn’t necessarily true. Go over the http://www.reddit.com/r/ketogains and tell me that low carb lifestyle people can’t make it in the gym.

      I lift x3 a week, strict keto diet and have more energy than I’ve ever had. I’d warrant I will have no issues running a 5k on my upcoming 50th birthday, just given the energy stores I have now.

    • Joe Haselhorst says:

      I thought so too. What I’ve been taught all my life. Just recently learned through personal experience that this is wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong. 6’0″, 185 living on less than 50g carbs and doing 1-2 workouts per day. Feeling better than ever. It works if you do it correctly.

  3. Clarence Saizon says:

    Alexander, soda companies are among the biggest donors to the American Dietetic Association which is why I’ve never joined!

  4. Great article Kris. It is always good to see low-carb info, and the research that supports it.

  5. Andrea Long says:

    Carbs for working out do not work for me, nor do I fatigue faster. I tried the whole eat 6 protein powered bodybuilding meals, weight lifting, had constant blood sugar spikes and lows, and got 10lbs (bulk of it fat stores) in one short month.

    So switched back over to the tried and true low carb/high fat, please get me into keto a.s.a.p. diet, eat like a beast, lost all the weight in 2 weeks, blood sugar levelled back out, acne cleared up, more energy, and killing it at weight lifting and HITT.

    Eating styles are personal and should not be a one size fits all push. Follow your body.

  6. Have you not yet learned there is no point explaining your amateur (but correct) view to a professional that “know” what is right. They need to be hit with reality to understand the recovery process.

  7. I am always on the lookout for information on low carb diets. They seem to get slammed a lot. With so much information put out on different diet plans, it is important to research things for yourself and look at where information is coming from.

    I like the way you gave the “bottom line” for each of the points you listed. Very informative.

  8. I have been on a low carb diet for over 3 years now. I have lost over 10 kg and now easily maintain my weight at 60 kg and a BMI of 21.

    I have never felt better in my life. I got rid of acne and I never come down with bugs or colds.

    My doctor checked my cholesterol, triglyceride’s, blood sugar levels and blood pressure as says everything is perfect!

  9. I love the fact that I don’t get so hungry… and even when I do, I don’t lose energy, I just get hungry. I am a senior and am very active but best of all, I take no medicine and all my vitals and blood work are excellent… I give a lot of credit to finding Kris and his articles. Gave up diet coke, thought I couldn’t do it.

  10. BOOM another blow for the low-fat nay sayers.

  11. Liliana Verd says:

    Hi Chris, love your site, it tackles doubts and problems of this lifestyle, whenever I have doubts I love searching here!

    I have a doubt: the fiber menace author is doing a series of blogs on the healthy home economist about losing weight. His last one briefly mentions that low carb diets past 40 yrs old could lead to gastrointestinal issues. Have you seen this in your research? Could you clarify this for me?


  12. Hi Kris, when on low carb diet for weight loss, do I need to avoid high carb vegetables? Thanks for the great article.

    • Kerri,

      You take the carbs and fiber content of the vegetable and subtract the fiber from the carbs to get the true count of carbs for that vegetable. Say 4 oz of broccoli has 8 grams of carbs, however, it has 3 grams of fiber so it is only 5 grams. Of course, 4 oz is a good bit of broccoli.

    • You need to avoid/minimize starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.

      It’s okay to eat some of them from time to time, just make sure to account for them in your daily carb allowance.

  13. Great article, epecially point #1. Why is it when people quit a low-carb diet the ‘experts’ claim this is proof that low-carb diets are too hard to stick to, but when people quit a low-fat diet, it’s because they didn’t have enough willpower or didn’t use enough spices or just don’t care about their health?

  14. Amazing! Love this. Just helps reaffirm that what I am doing and what I have been doing for the past 10 years is RIGHT ON POINT! I will NEVER ever NOT eat low carb. I have felt AMAZING these past ten years.

  15. Wow!! This IS as good as it gets!

    Fantastic article w/ properly sited references to back up claims and puts a very positive spin on an otherwise confusing subject perpetuated in part by so-called experts / nutritionists.

    I see stuff all over the internet that blather on about the negative effects of eating sat-fats, eggs, and meat and instead support the ‘benefits’ of eating ‘Whole grains’. Bah! Great article! Robinhooding this one… thanks!! “;-)

  16. Sarah Gray says:

    Chris the ideas on these pages are great. What replies people are putting forward-so interesting. My husband and I are both on the low carb diet and no bread, sugar etc since Xmas.

    I have lost 14ks and he has lost 10kgs and is now at his ideal weight. I cannot exercise or walk very far because of a health problem. But at least the diet is making me feel good and the cholesterol is down to 3.5.

    I still have 10kgs to go.

    Many thanks for the messages and suggestions.


  17. First class article Kris.

  18. Wenchypoo says:

    I’m going to chime in here about the benefits of a low-carb diet in menopause–especially in conquering hot flashes. According to the book The Brain Trust Program, the menopausal body loses the ability to get adequate glucose to the brain because of low estrogen supplies, so ketones become ESSENTIAL. The hot flash itself is actually the brain crying out for fuel, and dilating your blood vessels in an effort to get more blood glucose into the brain, but the blood/brain barrier won’t let it pass through without the estrogen wrapping.

    Altering your diet in such a way to produce more ketones is an enormous help in curbing and even quelling hot flashes altogether–I have made myself an N=1 patient on this, and it works. It may also be the key to avoiding Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other CNS diseases as well as a whole host of other problems: ADHD, OCD, scizophrenia, PTSD, etc., as well as the well-known epilepsy.

    Problems with the brain may very well stem from the inability for blood glucose to efficiently enter the brain, and this we must look to our “alternative” energy source to feed it: KETONES.

    I’m going to continue to be an N=1 patient for as long as I live just to see if I can make it all the way through without losing my marbles at some point, and to see if I indeed have found the natural prevention for Alzheimer’s.

  19. Wenchypoo says:

    Speaking of the brain and ketones, I wonder if all those brainy people from the past (Einstein, etc.) ran on ketones as opposed to carbs. Do ketones play a role in making one smarter? Hmmm–this would go a long way toward explaining why we’re being barraged with BS about carbs, wouldn’t it? A smarter population is a more (politically) dangerous one, and many, many industries would lose money due to our lack of consuming their goods and services–not to mention that idiots would stop being voted into office!

    Dumb us down and take our money–that’s the ticket for economic survival.

    • Amarylis says:

      My vote on this one!

    • Wenchypoo – One of the biggest questions that lingers in my brain. I have to clarify, I am a fan, follower, practitioner, even a messenger/prophet for Nutritional ketosis.

      If the cavemen are on ketones and remain cavemen, and when they started farming (10k years ago) and started carbs, the boom in civilization and improvements occurs starting about the same time (10k years ago) mesolithic transition to neolithic which greatly improves agriculture?

      So the big question, if we, today, go back to eating like the Paleolithic (100k years ago – 500k years ago – Human brains are sufficiently developed to allow for modern behavior), are we heading downhill from the peak of homo sapiens achievements?

      • That’s a very reasonable question, one I’ve pondered – my opinion (and nobody has anything better than that to offer, as far as I know) is that the leap in our achievements was due to an increase in available calories, so agriculture could be viewed as a “phase” rather than the giant leap forwards to a better way, more of a stop-gap – like the transitory bronze age, when copper was the most important substance on earth, and the transitory stone age, when your access to flint and skill in shaping it was the most important factor in whether you and your descendants survived.

        I think in this age of plenty (relatively speaking) and low infant and perinatal mortality, the new key factor is intelligence, and the ability to choose wisely what to eat, not just whatever has the most calories.

        JMO and not meant to offend anyone, such a personal topic! :)

  20. Takeda says:

    Well I’ve read a LOT of material on the Low-Carb High-Fat, Paleo, Primal, Low-Fat High-Carb diets out there… currently I’m on a Paleo/Primal/Ketogenic diet. I.E. It’s primarily Paleo but with Goat cheese/butter, Ghee, and we don’t eat any even moderately high-carb vegetables.

    Between my wife and I we’ve lost over 100 lbs and when we follow the diet closely we feel great, continue to lose weight, don’t feel hungry all the time and… generally look at how our entire world seems to be out to get us to eat the wrong things and gain weight so we have to sign up for Jenny Craig, hate ourselves for being fat, lyposuction, personal trainers, psychotherapy, new cars, new shoes, new clothes, consume, consume, consume, hate ourselves for eating the food they want us to eat and suffer the health problems that result and then feed us chemicals to control the symptoms of the health problems we have as a result and often are created by these companies to ‘save us from ourselves.’

    This last is the whole cholesterol myth! By Pfizer and other anti-statin producers own propaganda everyone on the planet should be taking this mind-destroying poison!

    I just want to be healthy and eating low-carb is the only way.

  21. Great blog post about low carb diets! You cover the most common criticism we all get!

  22. Most of the time —> I eat potato chips, tuna fish sandwiches, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, Subway subs, diet soda, milk, rice crispy treats, ice cream sandwiches, and bananas.

    I eat whenever I’m hungry.

    My diet is the best. My body fat is ideal. I never gain weight and I can easily put on muscle when I lift weights.

    Have fun with your diets that don’t make a bit of difference except between your ears.

    • Some people can eat whatever they want without problems, congrats on being one of them. You are one of the lucky few, at least for now. I don’t know how old you are, but these things tend to change with age.

      Many, many people can’t eat the way you do without severe problems.

    • Pegasus says:

      MD said: “Have fun with your diets that don’t make a bit of difference except between your ears.” Your use of the word ‘diets’ is an incorrect assumption that low-carb eating is some kind of fad, pill, or perhaps even a passing fancy for maintaining and controlling weight loss. But not everyone that eats low-carb is doing so *just* for weight maintenance.

      Low-Carb eating is also essential for maintaining blood sugar levels. So your statement is both ignorant and irrelevant. Your entitled to your opinion, lifestyle, eating habits and anything else that blows your skirt up, but bashing others who have had success in Low-Carb eating only proves you are nothing but a Troll.

      So go ahead do whatever you think works for you, but keep your snide remarks to yourself and the rest of us will enjoy the success and health benefits of our ‘diets’.

      • Couldn’t have said it better Pegasus, and as Kris very tactfully remarked , he/she doesn’t have a clue what is happening under the surface. Most of us don’t until it begins to show in a slow deterioration of healthy functioning.

  23. Amarylis says:

    Awesome! We need to find a way to get this stuff into kids minds as early as possible.

  24. Chris, I really liked this article and love that you link to the studies, thanks! I have just started a low carb diet and I’m already loving it. I’m a vegetarian but have put on a LOT of weight because I’m hungry all the time, having unfortunately started using high carb foods way too much due to their convenience.

    After only a few days of cutting the carbs, my food cravings, etc have already gone down. I am dealing with a bit of headache and maybe some mild fatigue, but I was prepared for that with research I did prior to starting the diet. Anyway, this article definitely made feel good about my choice and definitely inspired me to stick to it. I’ll definitely be back here.

  25. Charlotte says:

    Hi! I was diagnosed diabetic and for the last 5 months have followed low carb eating. I have lost the weight I needed to and have significantly lowered my A1C score. I know from watching my glucose meter that I must adhere to low carb eating to avoid high glucose numbers.

    My problem is I continue to lose weight when I no longer need to. What do I do about this? I don’t want to appear anorexic or just too skinny. Help, what should I do?


    • Congrats on your success! The best way to stop the weight loss is to eat more.

      Nuts and cheese are two healthy low-carb foods that is pretty easy to eat a lot of, maybe you could up your intake of those.

  26. Just wondering how often you have watched the blood work of actual clients change while they’re following a low carb diet?

  27. Mark Colangelo says:

    Hi Kris, my name is Mark and I just started lchf. I want to do it right, so I can receive the most benefits from my new way of eating. Can you please email me and set me in the right direction. I eat under 20 carbs a day and my foods consist of bacon, sardines in olive oil, salmon, olives, shrimp, fatty steak, butter, water, coffee with heavy cream, sausage and that’s about it. NO VEGETABLES YET! And take vitamins. What do you think? Hope to hear from you!!!!!!!!

  28. Even when starting out I have to eat vegetables? Also, I start my day with three tablespoons of virgin olive oil, any thoughts? I drink coffee with heavy cream only, is that ok because I read caffeine can slow things down?

    Kris I’m 6″4 and weigh 350 lbs. My goal is 270, can this way of eating do it and what about loose skin? God, I hope this works, so tired of the up and downs of dieting. (Frustrated!!!!!!!!) Also, what about Splenda, good or bad? Please help, no one else to ask on this.

    • Yes, I recommend vegetables. Coconut oil is fine, although I don’t think you need to eat it raw. Coffee with heavy cream is fine too.

      This diet should definitely be able to help you lose the weight. There are mixed opinions on Splenda, I haven’t made up my mind on it personally but I’m sure you can find something if you Google around.

      Maybe you should check out the meal plan for some ideas on how to construct your diet: http://authoritynutrition.com/low-carb-diet-meal-plan-and-menu/

      • Can you live on zero carbs? The only reason I ask is because I can live on eggs, shrimp, bacon, butter, coffee, olive oil and steak.

    • Kris, I wanted to also say to you, thanks for taking the time out to answer me and all the other people who are doing LCHF. I understand that it takes time out of your life to view and answer questions put to you, but my doctor is not familiar with this way of eating. As I stated before, I just want to succeed where I failed so many times before. Thanks again, Mark!!!

    • Robert Gahl says:

      Mark, I started at 265. I’m hovering between 195 and 200 now. I will say I’m more stringent than many others with respect to Low-Carb (I try to keep my intake around 15g).

      As for loose skin, only time will tell. I’ve not had that problem.

      I think you’ll find many in the medical profession don’t understand this diet. My attitude is simply that this is not what they were taught and we have been SO beat over the head about the effects of dietary cholesterol and fat in our diet, it’s tough to break out of that mindset.

      My only warning to you is that if you are on BP meds, if you start this, just keep an eye on your BP (if you have one of those cuffs, all the better). You are going to dump a lot of salt out of your system if you start this, and that will pull water into the blood stream, thus thinning your blood a lot. Just keep an eye on it and take it easy until you acclimate.

  29. Kris, I read your article while on the verge of giving up low carb. Almost every one around me is pushing me hard to. And I am always looked at as the (freak) during family and friends gathering, to a point I was starting to lose my faith on low carb.

    I have already lost 40 pounds, quite easily, my bp is now controlled without medicine, my HDL is high and my life feels great.

    I will hopefully never surrender…

    • Mary Titus says:

      Your low carb accomplishments, alone, should tell you that you are on the right track. Of course you are the freak in the family, you are healthy. Wear that badge with pride because they will soon need your help. Following my mom’s funeral, we ate at a buffet, I recall looking at all of my family members as we filled our plates with food.

      Everyone had health issues including MS, gout, cardiovascular disease. All I could think of is how much they need to be eating like me. Soon family members came to me and asked me about diet and how it affects health. SO, it is very important to stay on track. Your family needs you.

  30. Thanks Robert, I just want to shop at a regular store and not DXL. My carb intake is also low, no more than 20 or 10. How many grams of fat would you say you eat a day? I don’t count them. How long before ketosis really kicks in?

    • Robert Gahl says:

      If you have been on 10-20 carbs/day for any length of time, you are in ketosis 24×7. You essentially go into ketosis every night when you sleep.

      As for how many grams of fat, I don’t count them. I only watch how many grams of carbs go in my gullet, and even then, I restricted it to things like lettuce and cabbage until I plateaued, weight-wise. Otherwise, I eat until I’m full.

      I use to be a rabid calorie counter, measuring out portions, etc. As a remnant of that, I tracked everything for a while when I started this low carb thing. My diet ranged, ignoring carbs, between 50/50 to 60/40 with fat taking the edge.

      For me, and I can only speak for me, is that I’d lose some weight, then plateau for a while, then lose some more, then plateau for a while, rinse, repeat. So, my advice when you plateau, don’t freak. I’ve read stories (but this isn’t medical research) of people being on low carb for quite some time before the weight loss begins.

      We’ve spent years listening to people tell us to eat low protein, low fat, high carb for years. It may take our bodies a while to give up on it.

      Note, btw, I eat no sugar now, either. I also don’t eat fruit (to avoid fructose). For me, it’s not a “diet” but more of a “lifestyle” decision. Good luck, Mark. Pulling for you.

      • Hi Robert, it’s Mark. When you say it might take along time to kick in, how long are we talking? Thanks for responding!

        • Robert Gahl says:

          Remember, none of this is factually documented. It’s just people talking about their experience with low carb so I don’t know how much veracity I can put in it. I’ve read one story of someone who said it took almost a year before the weight came off but they remained diligent for that year before they had a major drop-off.

          If nothing else, everything I’ve read so far says this is a healthier diet for you than high carb, certainly for your cardiovascular system (which certainly flies in the face of everything we are told). If you don’t lose a pound, you are taking better care of yourself if the chemistry I’ve read is sound and I have just enough graduate work in BioChem to think it rings true.

          If your Doc doesn’t know much about this sort of thing, tell him to go get Taubes book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” I gave one to my GP and to my Cardiologist because they were giving me so much grief :) Your doc may not agree with it, but there’s enough information in there that if they are honest with themselves, it’s going to raise some questions for them. And they have me as a living example :)

      • Marc-André says:

        If you think not eating fruit is an “intelligent decision” then you my friend are lost in the abyss.

        • Robert Gahl says:

          Haven’t had any for coming up on 3 years. Every blood test my cardiologist takes (once/quarter) comes up normal. Your point?

          BTW, if you are referencing my likelihood of coming down with scurvy, it is you who needs to do a bit more research, especially around what food changes happened shipboard that led to scurvy becoming a problem for sailors.

          A lot of fruit has fructose. Fructose causes the liver to go into over-drive dumping fatty acids into your blood stream (which is one of the reasons HFC is doubly bad for you). My objective is to not tax my liver and to not provide the glucose in my system an excess ability to generate triglycerides.

          Note: my tri’s and LDL are so low at this point that the in office machine they use to test can no longer read them.

          One other note: I bicycle commute now, 13 miles one way so that’s a 26 mile day with a commute speed of around 15mph (that’s point to point speed, not rolling speed which is around 20). Since I’m 60 years old at this point, I think I’m doing pretty well.

          I appreciate your concern, but your statement belies some ignorance on the data.

          • Robert, there is a whole realm of medical issues that doctors and nutritionists deal with every day that they must take into account when prescribing an eating plan for their patients and clients. With all due respect, there are not many 60 year olds seeking medical advice who bicycle 13 miles a day. In fact, there are few people at any age who can do that even if they had the time.

            The issue of not eating fresh fruit is where my departure with low carb eating begins. There are few things in nature more delicious and nutritious than fruits. They are nature’s candy and nature’s healers. An extreme low carb diet without fruit that depends heavily on animal products is NOT a healthy diet for someone with colon issues, for example. Red meat is extremely irritating to the bowel, and fresh fruit and whole grains like sweet potatoes and brown rice provide the fiber that is much needed for gastrointestinal issues.

            Everyone is different. Some people’s metabolism responds great to a strict low carb diet, while for others it can spell disaster. If people cheat on a ketogenic diet (which many do – it’s human nature), and they suddenly have a carb binge, this is a doubly dangerous, when they are now back into the sugars and starches along with the full fat foods on their low carb plan.

          • Robert Gahl says:

            @The Doc

            I don’t disagree that fruit is wonderfully tasty and quite the treat (I personally love grapes and cherries). Where we part company is whether or not my body needs it or not. Mine, apparently, doesn’t. I know where my vitamin C comes from. If I couldn’t eat beef, then, I’d adjust. Since I can eat it, then I don’t need to supplement it. I’ve done all the experiments in the Zoo to know I can’t make my own (or do so in such small portions it doesn’t count). But, no scurvy so far and if this was an ignorant choice, it should have kicked in by now.

            I’m not a “one-size-fits-all” person and I’ve been educated close to the medical profession (did biochem at the local med school) so while not a practicing doctor (hats off to you if you are), I’m aware that there are conditions for which this plan probably won’t work or would have to be modified. Having said that, I know several prior over-weight people who, seeing what had happened to me, have tried this and are seeing similar results (not exactly the same but that’s why zoology was so much fun in school… no results were ever exactly the same).

            The exercise I do is great for my heart but that’s about it. I get regular check ups, not because I’m that kind of guy but simply because I have arrhythmia (atrial) and my cardiologist wants to see me every quarter (and he’s aghast at my food mix so wants to keep a close eye on me). Otherwise, my checkups would be the standard trip to the GP. The exercise, as I’ve discovered (and read quite a bit about) has nothing (or very little) to do with my weight. I went from 265 (where I was exercising 45m 5 days/wk, burning around 700 cal per event, eating 1500 cal/day) to 195 (not exercising at all, eating, again 1500 cal/day). BP went from 145/95 to 110/65 (and, note, I’ve been fighting high normal BP long before the AMA changed their “guidelines” for it and there was a time when I swam 2 hrs/day then rode my bicycle for 3 hrs/day and it did not affect my BP at all which was all sorts of depressing albeit THAT amount of exercise, eating 1200 cal/day, did get me down to 175 at 9% body fat but, alas, hunger always wins).

            Now, having said all of this, I’m definitely wired uniquely for exercise (long distance stuff) but I don’t have the proper musculature to compete at it: low heart rate, great lung volume, etc. The long distance stuff does, though, put a boot to my stress which is why I gravitate to it. The point I was making above was that what I’m eating hasn’t impacted my exercise regime (not saying it created it). In some cases, it’s made it better because I rarely “hit the wall” any more (and this was my biggest fear going into this experiment — being able to continue to do long distance stuff).

            Bottom line is that there is somewhat of a catch 22 here. I want to listen to my doctor’s advice but I’m finding that it isn’t as rock solid as I used to believe it was. For years I’ve listened to them on my diet and always struggled with my weight. After a bit of reading on my own (GCBC by Taubes for one), I went out on my own and, voila, no weight problem and for the first time in my life I’m in “maintenance.” I don’t blame my docs. I don’t think he/she are ignorant. I think they are using what they were taught and the industry is still “all in” on low fat/low animal protein. They have hundreds of patients. I have one. That makes it easier for me to fully understand what is going on with me.

            Note: I bought my cardiologist GCBC for him to read so he’d know the ride I’m on. I figure challenging my doctor and self-diagnosing makes me his (or any medical professional’s) worst nightmare.

  31. Patrick says:

    The worst part about “everything in moderation” is it ignores the way some people have an addictive-like response to grain foods, especially, which is maybe to do with inflammation or some other factor.

    Nobody would tell a recovering alcoholic to have a glass of wine now and then “or else you’ll feel deprived” nor think that the alcoholic could moderate and have three small glasses a week, yet people who are prompted to binge by the smallest amount of baked goods, even the “healthy” whole grain ones, are still encouraged to have at least a few portions a day in some other form, eg bin the cookies and bring on the breakfast cereals, even though both transition from crunchy and sweet to creamy in the mouth, and have the same physical effects.

  32. Anonymous age 71 says:

    I am not sure I understood Andrea Long. She said, if I understand her, that she went on a high protein diet and it didn’t work. High protein is not low-carb. It is high protein.

    I bought a textbook used in medical schools. Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton and Hall. It cost $20 used, rough condition, from Amazon. It describes the consumption and use of protein; fat; and carbs almost exactly the same way Dr. Atkins did in his early books. Eat too much carbs and it is deposited as fat. Eat to much protein and it is deposited as fat. Eat more fat and your body starts burning fat.

    I truly believe Andrea gained weight on a high protein diet. Why she thinks that is relevant to a low carb diet, I have no idea.

    As far as low carb causing problems, past 40, I have been on pretty much zero carb for around 6 years, because I am hypoglycemic, which is what I think Atkins meant when he talked about metabolic resistance. So, I find it hard to get much more weight loss than maybe 35 pounds.

    And, I am 71 years old. So, when do the problems start? Sounds like more of the same old nonsense.

    I am glad for MD who can eat like a hog and have great health. Wonder what his b.p. is. However, the entire USA is going bankrupt from all the people who eat like that, and need a fortune in medical care. My guess is MD is really an MD.

    Last year, here in Mexico, I got a 61 year old MD on low-carb. One day, he told me, “My leg muscles hurt when I walk.”

    I told him, “You are going to die.” I well knew he already knew that. I am not a doctor, but I think it’s called something like intermittent claudication.

    He asked me to explain the diet to his wife so she can plan meals. He is down 20 pounds, and he is not going to die from that problem. His wife told me later his mood had changed with the diet. He well knew he was going to die, and as an M.D. he knew there was no treatment on the books. So, he had been very nervous and irritable. He now recommends low carb for his patients, who also do not listen.

    Mark, yes, eat vegetables to start. Otherwise, constipation can kill you if you get badly impacted. The new Atkins diet as described in THE NEW ATKINS FOR THE NEW YOU, has added four servings of low carb vegetables a day for that exact reason. And, part of a teaspoon of salt to eliminate the fatigue which is called the Atkins Flu. And, is actually a sodium deficiency.

    In the 20′s, a Scandinavian man, Stefansson, created a fuss when he said he had lived in the Arctic region on an all-meat diet. Doctors called him a liar so he ate only meat under close guard for months. No, you do not need carbs. If you are missing something you need, you might need to take a supplement. Atkins recommended a vitamin and mineral supplement. But, for themselves, there is no need for carbs at all. Your liver can produce the small amount of glucose your brain needs, from fat and protein.

    Amount of fat. I eat over a pound of natural lard (not that horrid chemical white stuff they sell in the supermarkets) a week. You can buy it in the US at Mexican markets. It’s called manteca, and looks a bit brownish. Hot lard tastes so good! Virgin coconut oil is actually the healthiest oil, but I can’t get it in Mexico. My b.p. just now was 112/67 at age 71. Average (Guyton and Hall) at my age is 150/~80.

    My son was on Atkins for two years. His cholesterol, the bad stuff that often runs 300 or more, was under 30.

    I also eat at least 4 eggs a day, fried with a large tablespoon of lard, and I eat it lard and all. When you go to a high fat diet, you may need to increase slowly. When I started, one day I had very high heart rate and high b.p. One has to increase slowly and I didn’t know that.

    I am not an athlete by any means. But, when we get cement, I help carry in the bags which are 110 pounds (50 kg.)

  33. “When the body isn’t getting any carbs, it releases a lot of fats from the fat tissues, which go to the liver and are turned into so-called ketone bodies.”

    Isn’t that dangerous for people who tend to have gallstones?

  34. I personally love low carb eating. I don’t even call it a diet anymore because I am not hungry. I don’t have dips in energy like the article states; I never knew the reasoning behind it so some good information in this article. I tried every fad in the book, starved myself, diet pills. My weight would go down then right back again. I’ve been doing the low carb lifestyle for 2 ½ years and have kept off my goal weight of 30 pounds. It took me time to adjust but I told myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day and I kept at it.

    Learned new recipes and what to eat. I used to be a carb monster, pounded chips and salsa, extra bread, margaritas and Mexican food. But all of these foods made me feel sluggish and obviously packed on pounds. I do allow myself one day to eat whatever I want, so I never feel like I can never ever have a piece of cake etc. I am just so glad that I will never have to resort to starving myself or eating another frozen meal ever again.

    High cholesterol runs in my family and my cholesterol went down from this diet. I eat more eggs and cheese than ever before.

  35. Endi Nick Johnson says:

    I’m confused when you say the body doesn’t even really need carbs. I know that fat can be used as energy in the event that carbs are scarce. However, in my understanding of such issues, in order to keep your thyroid in good health, your body needs to intake small amounts of natural complex carbs found in foods such as raw fruits, organic honey, and organic agave nectar.

    A low-carb diet will lead to an elevation of catabolic stress hormones, while a high-carb diet has been shown to increase thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3), increase testosterone, and decrease cortisol, the anti-hair, pro-misery stress hormone.

    Decreasing carbohydrate intake to low levels that are too low results in diminished levels of T3 and/or increased rT3, something most aspiring fat-burners wish to avoid desperately. Fine refined carbs are terrible. But even too many complex carbs can be harmful, still. There is a healthy balance to this issue. Moderation is key.

    • Endi Nick Johnson says:

      I do also want to add that I believe a strict paleo diet is an ideal way to stay on track. I believe it allows you just the right amount of healthy sugars without going overboard. I highly recommend the Paleo lifestyle. Just stay away from the almond flour :-) (too many omega 6 can cause inflammation, especially in those with autoimmune diseases)… I’m enjoying this information and the healthy discussion :-)

    • But with respect, raw fruit, honey & agave weren’t available year-round to anyone at all in the very recent pre-agricultural past in which our bodies did most of their evolution, and even once we had agriculture they were rare treats once out of season (most people didn’t keep bees, in the same way they did keep cows or pigs) and agave nectar is only available from one small area of the planet and is also, primarily, fructose.

      I’m not in favour of zero-carb eating myself but I don’t think those 3 examples would even have been a monthly, or even seasonal treat for most people throughout history, yet they survived and thrived and got us all here today!

  36. I’m open-minded that different diets suit different people and there’s probably no such thing as one ‘ideal’ diet for all.

    We can all selectively choose research articles to make a case we want to make.

    Before claiming guidelines don’t include low carbohydrate diets, maybe you should read the current UK nutrition guidelines for diabetes: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/nutrition-guidelines

    The truth is, the evidence on many of these questions is actually limited or conflicting, when you study it properly. So the role of the dietitian is to support their patient to follow the best diet for them, making sure they get the nutrients they need, not to dictate that one thing is definitively better than the other!!

  37. I m not a nutritionist but I can talk from personal experience. Low carb diets make me feel awful although I eat a lot of fat. Depressed, tired and bloated. Maybe because I’m Greek I’m adjusted to eat a lot of grains but I feel great on high carb diets and I have been skinny all my life.

    • Robert Gahl says:

      Gari, your experience matches many. There is data out there that indicates that carbs tickle the same part of your brain that drugs like heroin and cocaine do. I’m not saying they have the same effect but that this simply implies there is an addictive quality to them. To go low carb, for many, involves withdrawal from the stimulation of that pleasure center.

      And, note, being thin does not mean healthy. James Fixx, Pete Maravich, etc… Lots of people in good shape keel over dead.

      You also don’t indicate your age which, biologically, has something to do with this (as fat metabolism’s response to insulin is attenuated, to one degree or another, by the level of sex hormones in the body). That is, when you are young, you are more likely to be thin because of the preponderance of sex hormones flowing through your body. As you get older, and those levels begin to diminish, they are less able to blunt the effect of insulin to tell your body to store fat.

      Lastly, there is data out there to suggest that “western disease” tends to follow high carb diets.

      Having said all of this, diet science is sketchy and I’m certainly one that tells people to listen to their body. I think new evidence is suggesting all this mantra about low fat diets is turning into just so much B.S., but you have to decide for yourself what you are going to believe.

      • When someone says “all my life” is usually old :)

        I’m a woman, 42, 172 cm and 55 kg.

        In practice it is just that I see my grandparents in their 90s eat meat every Sunday, red meat once a month and be healthy and active and I think this is also what suits me.

        Anyway, everyone is free to choose his/her diet.

    • I am Greek too and I thrive on a low-carb, high-fat diet. Growing up in Greece, we ate a lot of fat without guilt (my yogurt boasted 10% fat in the label). Low-fat is a killer for me… I cannot do it. I struggle during Easter fast. Yes, we also ate a lot of bread, potatoes, some pasta, but I do not find I miss these foods at all.

  38. Low carb diets can be dangerous if misused. If you do a simple search on how to start the Atkins diet there is absolutely no mention of watching sodium levels which are very easy to exceed if you are told you can eat all the bacon and cheese that you want.

    Increased sodium raises blood pressure which in turn can do damage to kidneys if they are prone to it. And no, carbs are NOT inflammatory, nor are they harmful. For some people salt does more harm than sugar, so I find this article a bit misleading.

    • FatalMusa wrote: “If you do a simple search on how to start the Atkins diet there is absolutely no mention of watching sodium levels which are very easy to exceed if you are told you can eat all the bacon and cheese that you want.”

      This is incorrect, a known beginner’s problem with low-carb dieting is dehydration caused by INSUFFICIENT intake of sodium/salt, and other electrolytes – this is due to a change in insulin levels and various other factors.

      I don’t think a low-carb diet is right for everyone but please do your research (a simple search on “low + carb + salt” will do the trick) before commenting on non-issues.

    • Salt is not an issue. Research some real scientific data before posting, people. Watching Dr. Oz spew conventional wisdom on sodium and hypertension isn’t real scientific data.

  39. The main thing that sells me on the low carb approach is the relief from inflammation. I have battled osteoarthritis for years and since going low carb, I have noticed a big reduction in the pain during and after a workout. I have even started running again at age 59.

    I am able to tolerate pain in my shoulder, where before I was on the verge of total shoulder replacement. I have numbness and tingling in my feet due to a high carbohydrate lifestyle.

    On top of that, I never had the self control to restrict my calories, Now, I can eat when hungry, and I find that my calories are about where they were when I was starving myself. Needless to say, weight loss from the low carb diet has been another important factor in relieving the joint deterioration.

    Eating high carbs equates to inflammation, insulin resistance, and high insulin levels in the blood which promote storage of fat and restrict use of fat stores. All calories are not equal.

  40. Hmm… I like the theory on low carb diets, but after 6 weeks I’m STILL RAVENOUS (talking 20 – 30g CHO / day) – and I can eat giant bowlfuls of wombok and celery and still be hungry (and the low-carb veggie carbs add up quickly when eaten in large quantities!!!). Once a fortnight I go out for dinner at friends and don’t want to single myself out so eat the standard high carb meal, and the following day is a complete fast.

    So I know you could say that 3 x 2 weeks isn’t a proper trial of a low carb diet, but I notice that no one mentions the societal down side of eating a strict low carb diet… (or any rigid diet). Quality of life (especially ability to have warm fuzzy meals with friends) is more important to me than longevity.

    I did this to lose weight and I’m losing less than half a kilo a week on less than 1000 cals a day.

    THE THING IS I’M NOT HUNGRY on a standard complex carb diet (steel-cut oats, burghul wheat, brown rice), sugars in terms of fruit, and average fat (20 – 30g) diet!

    Apparently I’m the only one who’s starving on a low carb diet.

    • You have been on standard complex carbs for long enough to make you want to lose weight. That should be your cue. Try to increase your fat intake. That should make you feel satiated. Keep your carbs low which you are doing. Also keep your protein moderate, 1.5g to a kg of body weight should be good. Body can easily convert excess protein to glucose.

      Lastly, for not being anti social, you should and continue to go and eat out with your friends. I found that my LCHF way of eating actually invites a lot of questions and we actually chat and share more and even help a few others who really needed the change in their eating lifestyle.

  41. I’m a type 1 diabetic who has been on and off the low carb diet for years. It definitely works and you will lose weight because your body is using less insulin, the fat storing hormone. I have recently decided to stop doing it though because I have found myself becoming very obsessed and stressed about succeeding on the diet. For some people it is just too hard and miserable to be on diets. I feel a huge amount of relief.

    I don’t mean I’m going to eat pasta every night, I’m not stupid and I do understand nutrition and eat pretty healthy but I need to have rewards and enjoy treats with friends and family sometimes. In the long run I may be a little chubbier but at least I wont be putting my body through the stress of succeeding and failing on such a limiting diet.

  42. Amberdextrix says:

    1. Eating less carbohydrates negatively impacts the memory. This is not surprising because the brain must have a portion of glucose, a fact that is not debated.

    Source: Anci, Kristen, Watts, Kara, et al. “Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood .” Appetite. 52/1 (2009)

    2. High levels of ketones cause the blood to become acidic, which can lead to serious liver and kidney damage.

    3. Proteins without carbohydrates reduce the ability of the human body to create muscle, because specific carbohydrates are mandatory in protein synthesis. Glycogen — which is glucose-based and fuels your muscles — comes from you guessed it, carbohydrates.

    Maintaining an adequate amount of carbohydrates prevents the body from eating up your protein stores — and once it has cut through your body fat, eating lean muscle mass and even your organs.

    Ketosis is not a ‘diet’ state, it is an emergency state. Triggering it for lengthy periods of time is foolish, and advice like this could get people killed.

    • All of your points are incorrect. Low-carb diets have been intensively studied in randomized controlled trials and NO serious side effects have ever been reported, only beneficial effects… on weight AND all sorts of health markers.

      I think you’re forgetting about a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis, which produces glucose for the brain.

      Here is a long list of RCTs on low-carb and/or ketogenic diets. Please take a look: http://authoritynutrition.com/randomized-controlled-trials-in-nutrition/

      Btw… actually READ the article before commenting and take a look at the references.

      • You could add Kris that pH level of blood is very narrowly kept in check. I think the confusion comes from your mitochondria not functioning optimally when too much acidity is created or originates within the metabolic process.

  43. Ann Labate says:

    My issue is and always will be the same. Who’s right and who is wrong? I’m not blaming my weight on anyone but myself, but when I hear 20 different opinions it’s discouraging. I try low carb and hear it’s not good for me. I start adding carbs and hear it’s not good for me. Moderation is a bad word to an overweight person. Would you tell an alcoholic to moderately drink? Absolutely not. It’s “No Drinking” at all.

    Food is the same. It’s ok to have a cheat day but that day goes on for days. Oh, a bag of chips won’t hurt you. Of course it does. If you have not prepared yourself on knowing what cheat day should be then don’t do it. Moderation is a bad word in my vocabulary, unless you really know what moderate means. Just saying.

  44. Ben Walker says:

    Hi Ann.

    The question of who’s right and who’s wrong isn’t going to be answered by anyone else to your satisfaction. I know who’s right but that’s based on my own experience. I would put it this way, why don’t you personally try to prove that a low carb diet doesn’t work.

    Do it correctly, no days off, no cheats etc. See it as a challenge. Read something like “New Atkins” and follow it to the letter. After two weeks you’ll know either way for yourself if it is something to continue and won’t have to listen to anyone’s opinion again. It’s two weeks of your life.

    I did it this way, being super-skeptical but sticking to the rules like a limpet. I’m not going to tell you my opinion if low carb works as (in the nicest possible way) it is irrelevant to you. Go find out for yourself. All the best.

  45. Re Moderation: unfortunately, that is what makes a food addiction difficult to manage, you can’t tell a food addict to just say no… like you would an alcoholic. We have to eat!

    I take issue with your comment that moderation is a bad word for an overweight person; it’s patronizing to assume that I cannot learn a new skill – eating in moderation – AND I would suggest that someone who is only overweight (versus morbidly obese) does actually have some of those eating in moderation skills.

    For some overweight people, the eating in moderation message may not work – the relationship that they have with food may not allow them to – but for others it may be key to developing a healthy mature relationship with food.

    Please don’t globalize your experience. When you make sweeping statements like moderation is a bad word for overweight people you’re making me invisible – you’re denying that people like me for whom it is a key word, exist.

  46. The only problem with “eating until you’re full” is that a lot of people have lost the ability to make that decision. Very often, especially when people eat quickly, we don’t feel full until long after we should (and then we feel stuffed).

  47. I do keto and like that this information is getting out but being pro keto with your words does not help anybody. Anything new or different seems to be taboo by default so why fight that? The best thing we can do is get the information out to the people in an unbiased manner and let them choose. This way people are more inclined to get their info from places with discussion like this and forums instead of random tidbits from the news and magazine ads.

  48. As a scientist, I have to warn against this paranoia anti-dietitian mentality that I see here. You think dietitians are all just shills for big pharma or insert your “evil” corporation of choice? Who do you think performed all the studies you cited as “proof” of your position?

    Science works itself out. You are either pro-science and pro-truth, or you think everything is a conspiracy and you are a quack. Take your position. Dietitians are the scientists performing these studies.

    Either way, I’m a low carber myself, so don’t assume I disagree with your conclusions. I just think you are on dangerous ground with the populist anti-establishment mentality. It does nothing positive for your credibility. You might start sounding like the stoners who claim marijuana cures cancer and every other illness.

    • What exactly are you warning against here, Bob K? I hope you understand that a lot of us, myself included, have had to battle our natural belief in the authority of our doctors, and the government-backed, grain-based low-fat diets that have been taught to children in schools, mandated at works canteens and so on, in order to heal ourselves of various health problems ranging from minor to life-threatening.

      Yes, not every nutritionist is bad, however, consult the US govt’s recommended food pyramid of just ten years ago, and tell me that is the best way for everyone to eat.

      As for bringing in medical marijuana, you seem to be trying to discredit widespread and sensible distrust of blanket nutritional guidelines by tying it to an emotive issue which touches on legal matters in a way that has nothing to do with this.

      I only hope you are as outspoken in defense of people’s right to choose their own best dietary balance of fats, carbs, and protein, as you are with this piecemeal outburst. Read through, your post seems to be nothing more than a cry for us to take nutritionists on trust, despite our own experiences – something that is the very opposite of “scientific” – or even just common sense.

      If I have got you wrong, and you wish to clarify, please do, but also please look into the funding behind the many studies that recommend a grain-based breakfast, and that say artificial sweeteners are fine and desirable because “a calorie is a calorie” and so on – the funding is almost always directly linked to a manufacturer of these products.

  49. PS. While “science” (a dubious concept based on the idea of one big community working in a vacuum to arrive at the best conclusions, devoid of vested interests or hidden agendas – a proposition that is FAR from the truth) is busy “working itself out” real people, good people with hopes and dreams, are suffering and dying, so you stating that anyone who questions a scientific finding is automatically a conspiracy theorist is dangerously naive.

    A lot of us don’t think it’s reasonable that anyone should keep on suffering from a dietary profile of the “correct” amount per day of carbs that’s still widely promoted, and have taken our lives and our health into our own hands – staying aware of studies, yes, but no longer willing to assume that this year’s dietary guidelines are the automatic Truth.

    I remember when science was eagerly pushing hydrogenated vegetable fats on us all in the 1970′s, and that was backed by “science” in the form of nutritionists, doctors, and so on – do you seriously think everyone should switched to eagerly consuming that until someone in a lab happened to notice it might be problematic?

    It’s actually the attitude from some members of the science profession, that deplores anyone who is willing to think for himself or herself, that makes so many of us default to questioning the guidelines in the first place.

    • You attempt at defining science just proves that you don’t understand what it is. For example “I remember when science was eagerly pushing hydrogenated vegetable fats on us all in the 1970′s.”

      No, SCIENCE told us that hydrogenated vegetable fats were bad for you. Or who do you think it was that told us that? Science isn’t a group of people, it is a discipline for finding truth. Once you reject science, you are a QUACK, because you no longer care about truth, just like the stoners who will make any claim they can just to get marijuana legalized even though they know the claims are false.

      Like I said, you may be right about low carb diets, but if you are and you reject science, then when science proves that low carb eating is good, you’ll have to reject it. I’ve known plenty of people who’ve gone this route. Most alternative medicine quacks are like this.

      As soon as something actually has scientific evidence supporting it, they reject it. They instead push “your natural energies” and magical thinking (the “law of attraction”) etc. THAT is what I’m warning you against.

      • I am not a scientist but what I understand from GCBC is this: When it comes to identifying the causes of modern diseases (diabetes, heart disease etc) it is very difficult to pinpoint a cause because there are so many influences on our health and not all of these are even what we put inside our bodies.

        It is hard to find a group of people on whom to conduct scientific research because no two people are from identical environments. You may find several people who eat similar things but do some of them live in the countryside where there may be pesticides used, near busy roads, under electricity pylons?

        Do some of them microwave their food, use mobile phones a lot, live by the sea? There are too many other factors that could influence people’s health.

        From what I understand this is why people such as Inuits, Native Americans and so on were once studied. These days it is difficult to replicate this kind of research. The only way is to try it. If all the people on low carb diets get similar results, regardless of other factors I think we can safely call that scientific evidence.

        I’m not saying we have that evidence yet, just suggesting that perhaps it’s time for someone, like you or Kris, to start gathering the evidence.

  50. Robert Gahl says:

    Bob (great name, that), my graduate work was in biochem, done at a medical school. So while I’m not a practicing scientist, I have that in my background so I’m not proclaiming magical energies nor thinking. I’m utilizing what I learned in my graduate work and is how I validated what I read.

    How does insulin affect fat metabolism? Science. Why does insulin have different effects on our fat metabolism as we get older (influence of sex hormones or tobacco for one)? Science. What are the effects of the introduction of high carb diets on cultures who did not eat that way to begin with (Inuits, for one)? Science.

    What was the effect on the two scientists who studied the Inuit coming home and going on a protein only diet for a year, against the advice of a body of scientists who said it would kill them (no harm, lost weight)? Science. What is the link between serum cholesterol and dietary cholesterol (there isn’t any ever proven)? Science.

    What are the long term health effects on cultures who had low carb diets and changed to high carb ones (i.e., Western disease)? Science. What is the link between high cholesterol and heart disease (correlation isn’t causality)? Science.

    I could go on, but I think you get the point.

    Not everyone has learned at the levels you and I have to be able to read a biochemical treatise and understand the Krebs cycle, etc. You never say what kind of science you do but THIS science is right down my alley. Most of my physicians are marching to Ancel Key’s cholesterol hypothesis which comes from a cherry picked study (again, science, albeit bad science).

    It is possible for non-scientists to eclipse an entire body of scientists in discovery. Look into things like the Klein/Fogelman air foil. Look into people like Mark Drela who won a coveted human powered flight award that was unclaimed for a VERY long time because the aeronautical industry was so steeped in the way it was always done they could not (granted, Mark is at MIT, but his thinking was completely non-industry).

    In both cases the “scientists” in the industry scoffed at both Mark and Mr. Klein and Mr. Fogelman (non-engineers, non-scientists both who built paper airplanes during their lunch break). Read books like “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson whose subtext is that scientists can literally be tripping over an answer while gripping their dogma (example: Anthropologists are literally tripping over Mastodon bones proclaiming dinosaurs never existed in North America in the past).

    That is to say, yes, not everyone here is a scientist, or at least, have a degree and/or practice as one. But, what they do have is their own evidence of what has happened to their body (observation is a key scientific principle) and those “experiments” on themselves ran counter to an entire body of belief (which isn’t easy to do, which as a scientist, you should know the peer pressure against embarking on a counter hypothesis to a well established bit of thought, which is OH so like Feynman, a GREAT physicist, would do, a guy who ALWAYS re-ran the science he was trying to build on rather than just accept it as a foregone conclusion).

    Your advice is true (to be wary of quacks as it were). But here lies a preponderance of evidence that runs smack in the face of conventional wisdom and to ignore the data points, one does at their own peril. That is willful ignorance which will be the death to scientific study. Yes, science will always out the truth. Doesn’t mean science will be on the forefront of that, though, because scientists, like the people in this list, are only human.

    • As I said, I’m already a low carber – you don’t need to convince me. What I’m objecting to is the anti-science attitude of so many of your readers. And you are wrong – a person’s own personal experience is meaningless. This is why the quacks believe all the nonsense that they believe – they accept the notion that “personal experience” eclipses science. They channel their energies and think positive thoughts and they feel better (placebo effect) and now they are convinced it is true.

      Yes, you can be right and still go against mainstream scientific convention – science depends on that to evolve. But the point is, you should also fully expect the science and its practitioners to evolve as well. By condemning a group of people because they haven’t come on board as fast as you would have liked is bad practice (because they are changing – most dietitians I know already fully accept low carb as a reasonable and healthy diet, although they don’t believe it is the best diet for everyone).

      You are a smart person, but many of your readers are not and many are jaded by the idea that science is a big scam perpetrated by [insert villain - big government if you are conservative, big business if you are liberal]. But if it weren’t for these evil scientists, we wouldn’t know that low carb is such a great diet in the first place!

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