Beware low-carb propaganda

There was a nice piece in The Times here in the UK on Saturday about my latest book Waist Disposal (see here). This piece, and a small piece that ran in another publication did seem to have some impact: Waist Disposal ended up rocketing up the ranking and spent a couple of days in the number 4 slot. It’s com down a bit today, but nevertheless there’s positive signs that some have an appetite for low-carb eating and are keen to dispense with their excess fat in a healthy and sustainable way. A big and genuine thanks to all of you reading this who have invested in a copy of the book!

Any time low-carb eating gets some positive press, doubts about its safety resurface. So let’s get something clear, compared with standard diets and in particular low-fat diets low-carb ones generally outperform in terms of weight loss as well as improvements in markers for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

But, we are reminded that the safety of these diets in the long term is not assured. The main issue? – the saturated fat in the all the steak and butter some imagine a low-carb diet to be full of. Well, first of all low-carb diets are not necessarily high in saturated fat. And secondly, there is no evidence that saturated fat has the heart-stopping properties many say it has. See here for more about this.

Moreover, there is some recent evidence that replacing saturated fat with supposedly ‘healthy’ carbohydrate is more likely to do more harm than good where our heart health is concerned.

And then we hear that all that protein is not good for our kidneys or our bones. For those with normal kidney function, high protein diets do not appear to pose any risk whatsoever. Plus, the balance of evidence suggests that protein-rich diets are generally good for bone health. See here for more on this.

Some also suggest that by eschewing grains we are somehow missing out on something vital in the diet. This is nonsense. There is nothing ‘vital’ found in grains that can’t be obtained more healthily elsewhere in the diet. Don’t forget that grains are a very recent addition to the human diet – for most of the 2.5-odd million years we’ve been evolving for we just didn’t eat them. And don’t forget too that the absolute requirement for carbohydrate in the diet is none at all (we can make it from other dietary elements).

I’m writing this as a backdrop to an email I received today, and my response to it. First, the email:

Dear Dr Briffa,

Following a recent radio interview I decided to purchase your book Waist Disposal and am delighted to report that after following its recommendations for four weeks I have managed to lose 8lbs and, more importantly, am really enjoying what I have been eating and feeling on top of the world..

As delighted as I am with my results so far I do have friends who are concerned about your weight loss programme and sceptical about its health benefits.They have likened it to the now discredited high protein low carbohydrate Atkins diet and the health problems that it was found to encourage.

In what way does your programme differ from the Atkins and can you really have too much protein and too little coarbohydrate?

Yours Sincerely,


And now my response to it:


Thanks for your email and I’m delighted that WD is doing the trick for you.

The Atkins diet is only ‘discredited’ in the mind of people who either:

1. are not aware of the science regarding low-carb eating
2. are aware of the science, but studiously choose to ignore it anyway

The unpalatable (for some) truth is that Atkins is/was right.

The book, I think, refers to the relevant science. If your friends have concerns, perhaps they might like to produce the science to support their case? My experience is that people have been scared out of eating a low-carb diet on the basis of nutritional propaganda and folklore (nothing more).

Best wishes

John Briffa

The point I was seeking to make (if it’s not obvious) is that there really isn’t a good case to be made against low-carb, hgher-protein diets. I neglected to point out, however, that there is a compelling case against the high-carb, low-fat diet that has been touted as ‘healthy’ for 30-odd years. If anything, such a diet appears to be fuelling burgeoning rates of obesity and chronic disease including type 2 diabetes.

With a new Atkins book out and Waist Disposal getting some press, I think there’s a good chance we’re going to see some mobilisation of the low-carb naysayers. Should it come, do be on the look out for actual science (not mere assertions, however oft-repeated).

43 Responses to Beware low-carb propaganda

  1. Jamie 18 May 2010 at 8:14 pm #


    I took delivery of my copy of WD a week ago. An outstanding read and I am looking forward to writing my own review in the next week or so. I have so much confidence in your book that I am discussing with my employer how we might make this book available to our corporate clients.

    As far as the low carb naysayers go – bring it on I say!


  2. Reijo Laatikainen 19 May 2010 at 10:02 am #

    I haven’t read your book, but your dogmas resonate with me. I do also think that carbs are a problem for many of us. Their pivotal role in obesity has been neglected too long while keeping eye only on fats.

    However, as far as I know, we don’t have long term data (over 1 years) that would demonstrate superior effects of low carb diet on weight, morbidity or mortality. Some evidence, like effects on arterial stiffness/AI, mood and cognition and non-traditional CV markers, are not impressive at all especially if saturated fat is favoured in cost of PUFA. While people can choose what ever diet they want, we should not recommend low carb diets one-sidedly. There are some questions marks remaining.

    Indeed, high protein diets seem to be more “kidney-friendly” than thought. Lately, it has been shown that even protein supplements, like whey protein, may have positive effects on blood pressure, arterial stiffness and hunger control. However, there is some data that shows that high protein diets, especially animal protein, may accelerate development of type 2 diabetes. (Sluijs I. Diabetes Care January 2010;33:43-48). Protein may not be so hazardous as we been taught but authorities (like you) should keep eyes open for what the future will bring in regards to protein research.

  3. marian 19 May 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Is this book sold in shops? If so where?

  4. Larry 21 May 2010 at 12:58 am #

    Another health “expert” jumps on the low carb bandwagon.

    The brain needs glucose to function, and the best place to get this from is dietary carbohydrates. Also, the more physically active you are, the more important it is that you eat an adequate amount of carbs. This Dr is being very irresponsible with this recommendation.

    Every time I have tried a low carb diet, my body has cannibalised its muscle tissue, I get depressed, tired and cannot sustain exercise like I can on a high carb diet. I also end up getting insane cravings for carbs when I don’t eat much of them in my daily diet.

    High carb is the way to go. Athletes know this. Are you going to take advice from a quack who looks physically average or olympic athletes with bodies of steel.

    Wake up.

  5. Dr John Briffa 21 May 2010 at 12:45 pm #


    Seems you’ve let unfounded theory and your own personal experience trump a stack of research. Oh dear.

  6. Jamie 21 May 2010 at 1:34 pm #


    I would suggest you do your homework properly next time you both try a low carb diet and before you next sound off with incorrect statements. If you were constantly hungry on low carb, I would suggest you didn’t take your fat intake up to compensate. And I would suggest to you that there are plenty of elite athletes who follow primal-type diets. Try Gaby Reece, Gordo Bryn, and the legions of Crossfit athletes who follow that type of eating regime just off the top of my head.

    150g of CHO per day is more than enough to keep the brain & nervous system fuelled and easily attainable eating low carb, particularly if one hasn’t made amateur mistakes like not eat more fat.

  7. Aine 21 May 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Larry – I wonder whether you neglected to consume fat/oil with each meal? having read a fair bit about lo carb diets, if appears that if you don’t have enough fat along with the protein then aye, at some stage your body might start on muscle tissue.
    As Dr B suggests, listen to the vast amounts of empirical evidence out there – perhaps it’s time to give lo carb a try again, and actually follow a scientifically directed programme. Dr B’s research (and others) shows that the body is capable of converting proteins to glucose – not tons of the stuff – but certainly enough to support optimal brain function. Plus – on a decent programme you do have some carbs – remember, noone (who is serious) is advocating a zero carb approach …

  8. Robin 21 May 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I have been following your blogs for some time and find the information and ideas very interesting. When your book, Waist Disposal, came out it spurred me to make a concerted effort to impose some discipline on my eating habits. I have had to supplement your book with a vegetarian low-carb diet book because there were not a lot of veggie recipes in WD. However I keep going back to it to refresh my knowledge and have become a bit of a bore with my friends. They are impressed though that I have lost 2 stone since I bought the book on April 1st – no fool me!

  9. Florence 21 May 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Oh dear, indeed!
    Love the book, but a shame it says it’s for men. I bought it because I knew it would be relevant to women too, but I think it would put off many potential female readers.
    Just an observation!

  10. Dusty 21 May 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Larry I doubt very seriously that you are a hardbody or an athlete. Like most people health should come first. There is not one single shred of evidence that a carbohydrate of any kind is essential to life. Your body can manufacture all the glucose it needs through the liver…as a matter of fact I run marathons and charity events while consuming a very low carb diet and NEVER experience “the wall” or any other problem that so called athletes encounter that do the carb loading routine.

    You need to wake up Larry. The high carb myth is about to hit you square in the face as you get older.. You will be like I was, dying from type II Diabetes and on massive doses of Insulin…Thanks to a low carb lifestyle I use NONE…As a matter of fact I use no meds at all, after years of living off a medicine cabinet full of prescription drugs. Avoiding carbs saved my life.

    I am one 55 year old that woke up in time. I hope you reconsider your stance as it will KILL you very very quickly…Yes I said it CARBS KILL!

  11. Mark Wilcox 21 May 2010 at 3:19 pm #


    your book is great. I’ve started eating low-carb and I’m feeling much better – my moods, energy levels, attitudes are all enhanced. I hope to lose a few pounds as well as I progress!!

    Can I be pedantic and point out what I think is a typo in your introduction which may leave your readers confused:

    “Well, first of all low-carb diets are necessarily high in saturated fat” – surely there is a “not” missing from this sentence?

    Hope this is a helpful contribution. Please keep up the good work!


  12. George 21 May 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi Dr Briffa,

    Poor Larry; he seems to have evolved to require a high carb diet!

    I’ve been enjoying a low carb life style for nearly 3 years now (never more that a total of 20-30 gm of carb a day, mainly from green veg/salad. Rest of my food about 65% fat, 35% protein)

    Blood sugar never varies from 4.5, even if I don’t eat for 24 hours!

    (Where does that glucose come from, Larry?)

    I exercise no more than once a week, (no aerobics any more, just really heavy weights for 1/2 hour and 5 x 100m sprints)

    BMI was 29, now 22.5. No more moobs; had them since 13 years old. A ‘six pack’ just appearing for the first time! I’m 58.)

    Blood pressure was 145/90, now 118/75.

    Works for me!

    I have bought ‘Waist Disposal’ Really as the book confirms every thing I have experienced with my own body in the last 3 years. Thanks Dr Briffa for getting the truth out!

  13. jenny 21 May 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    I run weight loss groups and do agree with these principles; however, the brain does need glucose to function – are you suggesting it gets sufficient from vegetables, or that it uses glucose made from proteins and fats?

  14. Jennifer 21 May 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Congratulations on your new book. I also felt that the book title sort of excluded women but maybe it will be a good book for my husband. However, men usually feel all the “diet” books out there are mostly geared towards women so maybe it is time that men feel special too.

  15. David Thorpe 21 May 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    “Well, first of all low-carb diets are necessarily high in saturated fat”
    I hope meant to say “are NOT necessarily high in saturated fat”

  16. Marie 21 May 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I would like to change my diet to low-carb, but most certainly don’t want to lose weight. In fact I’d like to put some on! Would weight loss be inevitable, or would my metabolism somehow adjust accordingly to maintain my optimum weight?

  17. Neil Fiertel 21 May 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    I was told that I needed to lose a lot of weight as my glucose was up to 6.7 which scared me but I also have had the experience of starving to lose weight and did not look forward to it. My eating habits were based upon the incorrect presumptions of a “fruitilarian” and I ate a lot of dried fruit as well as juices by the litre. I ate a lot of nuts and protein but all the honey in the coffee just added insult to injury and I have turned all of it on its head. Having spoken to several dieticians and realising somewhere they were completely off kilter on diet advice vis a vis type 2 Diabetes I did some serious research and have concluded that one can lose weight first of all by not eating carbs other than a high fibre cereal (measured to 1/2 cup) with 1/4 cup raisins for example to start the day and then essentially eating fish,meat, eggs, veggies and a lot of legumes. 2.5% b.f. yoghurt and leave out all the bread, the potatoes, the rice, the sugars and honeys and all the rest of the dried fruits. I eat 5 pieces of fruit a day..fresh apples or oranges spread out over the day with maybe some cottage cheese ( 2%) and a bit of nuts some days. For a while I had a headache but I just upped the intake a bit and I feel good much of the time and oh yes., I dropped 14kg in 3 months and am confident that though the weight drop is somewhat slower now I am still heading in the right direction. I am absolutely positive that my problem is thinking that “healthy” was packing in the so- called healthy drinks and healthy breads. Well, healthy they are not for this primal kinda guy. When I eat meat, which I eat a lot less than before it is because I have had a nice big plate of vegetables such as assorted legumes, soy milk and cooked greens and not out of some self- sacrificing masochism. I have not had my glucose checked again as I wanted to drop the weight first and am likely to get it done soon as I hit a target weight. I said to my doctor that there seemed to be some very bad advice being given officially by dieticians and nutritionalists who are completely off the mark on diabetes control and his comment says it all. Who ever said that medicine is a science? One cannot experiment upon people with double blind studies that could allow ill health on those subjects so instead we must consider medicine an art. Well, it is my conclusion is that medicine is sometimes a very bad art indeed and this nonsense, utter unsubstantiated nonsense about diabetic diets for example are deadly and consume one’s health. I rarely myself feel hypoglycemia any longer and yet am losing weight and I used to have it all the time whilst throwing back big glasses of juice for the supposed benefit of the potassium in it. Hint: low salt V-8 has low carbs of 8 grams and a huge potassium content so stick with that one for those that need to supplement and eat fish, even the canned herrings that are a nice measured portion of fish and taste delicious and lose weight with no suffering, no cravings for sweets whatsoever. A dessert is a wonderful apple or orange and after eating no other forms of sugar, they taste better than ever. About the comments about glucose and the brain, yes, indeed the body converts proteins to glucose inefficiently and thus it takes more energy to do that ( weight loss in other words) than just eating a potato for glucose and ditto for fats. In essence one can surely make one’s daily intake a lower carb diet with no extremes and be healthier in so doing. The key to me are the eating of legumes and I find that just half a cup keeps me feeling fit as can be for four hours. It is a high source of protein and a lower source of carbs..ratio is 2:1 actually and is slow to absorb, loaded with fibre and so forth. Lucky for me I love them. In six more months I will be down to the weight I used to be when I ran every day. I will never gain it back as I am really not dieting so much as changing my eating habits with knowledge and I can only thank Dr. Briffa for his science based advice and the internet for allowing me to fully research as I did each of his references. My dietician is about to hear a-plenty from me about her advice but no doubt she will continue on her merry way with the nonsense that she learned from the art of diet..not its science.

  18. Dr John Briffa 21 May 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    Mark and David

    Thanks for pointing missing ‘not’ out – corrected now.


  19. Joe 22 May 2010 at 12:00 am #


  20. Larry 22 May 2010 at 4:57 am #


    You’ve obviously been completely brainwashed by this evangelist.

    So if carbohydrates kill, how come the most healthy nations on the planet all eat a high carbohydrate diet, e.g. Japan, China, etc. You sound like a very foolish person. Problems like obesity and diabetes are caused by eating too much calories, not too much carbohydrates.

    It’s funny that since switching from the low carb diet I was on to the extrememly high carb diet I’m on now, not only do I have more energy, more motivation and more va va voom, I’ve lost 5 lbs in the week I’ve been on it.

    And no Joe, I’m not a troll. A troll is someone who looks to provoke reactions, whereas I’m just someone who differs in opinion from you. Idiot.

  21. Dr John Briffa 22 May 2010 at 4:22 pm #


    “So if carbohydrates kill, how come the most healthy nations on the planet all eat a high carbohydrate diet, e.g. Japan, China, etc.”

    Hey, Larry, Japanese men smoke a lot but are generally long-lived. Would you conclude from that that smoking is good for us?

    You appear to be blissfully unaware that ecological epidemiological observations of this nature are the very weakest kinds of ‘evidence’ used to judge the impact of a lifestyle factor on health. But let us not be too surprised, because it’s just this sort of anti-low-carb nonsense that I was suggested we need to be aware of in my post. I suppose I should thank you for helping me make my point.

    “You’ve obviously been completely brainwashed by this evangelist.”

    Brainwashing? Evangelism? Sounds like low-fat, high-carb dietetic dogma to me, Larry. 😉

  22. Angie 23 May 2010 at 1:45 am #


    The healthiest traditional diets are those of populations like the Inuit (seal, whale meat, blubber), with not a vegetable, fruit or cereal in sight (apart from a very small amount of berries from time to time), and the Masai (meat, milk and blood). Only when these populations start to consume Western diets does their health start coming apart at the seams.

    If you want detailed evidence of how our favourite carbohydrate kills, have a look at The evidence has been there for decades now.

  23. Angie 23 May 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Larry, and everyone,

    It is alarmist and inaccurate to say that CARBS (per se) KILL; rather it is the way we consume them, in concentrated and very rapidly absorbed forms that make blood glucose shoot up. It is this that will drive people to Type II diabetes.

    Glucose is definitely needed by all cells in the body (not just for brain function) but can be obtained all over the place and manufactured in the body. And there really is no such thing as a no-carb diet; they are virtually unavoidable, since they will be found in vegetables, nuts, milk, organ meats, shellfish etc. So what you don’t need, as such, as what are traditionally recognised as ‘starches’, and the refined ones are implicated in the glucose spikes mentioned earlier.

    Sugar, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish (it is only part-glucose). The detailed evidence presented in the rather long-winded video (link above) is that the fructose it contains is essentially a toxin, and is treated as such by the body. It is processed in the liver in a very similar way to alcohol, and this produces by-products that lead you straight to heart disease (as well as diabetes [and there is some evidence re. other forms of disease, such as certain cancers]).

    I am sorry that you had such a bad experience trying a low-carb diet, but not surprised, since it takes time for your body to get used to a different pattern and way of processing things. You would initially find yourself craving carbs, simply because of their very direct effect on blood glucose, but that goes away. But there is no way you should have been losing muscle mass! On the contrary. Without knowing the details of the diet, though, it is hard to know what was going on.

  24. Dr John Briffa 23 May 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    Angie (and everyone)

    I wouldn’t bother too much with Larry. In an email exchange he openly berated me for supporting my stance/low-carb with “references and scientific research”. Kinda tells you all you need to know about Larry, really.

    He’s since proceeded to attempt to post a comment questioning my motives for telling the truth (apparently, I’m just trying to sell books).

    It’s the sort of response I’ve grown used to from those who are philosophically or economically opposed to low-carb eating: when unable to make a scientific case, they resort to name-calling and conjecture. And then still claim to have the scientific high-ground.

    On the plus side, as ‘Larry’ knows, many individuals are not as stupid as he hopes they are and can, through their own research, reading and experience, discover that carb-controlled diets generally deliver on their promise of weight loss and improved markers for disease.

  25. Larry 23 May 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    You’re an idiot. You’re like the global warming alarmists who discredit any sceptic of their ideology as being a shill for oil companies.

    Seeing as you’re using that same strategy, I’d say YOU were the one who was ideologically drive, Mr Steakoil.

    If low carb was good for you, I’d be all for it. But it isn’t.

    But then you already know that, Mr Steakoil, as you’re sitting there at your laptop eating those crisps.

  26. bobby dean 24 May 2010 at 6:48 am #

    I too have low carbed since 02, under 40gr a day and off insulin, lost weight and feel best i have in life.Now 60.All my cholesterol s are great now whereas when on low fat high grains my insulin was up to 150 units a day but my dietitians were dummies and didnt know what I knew. i live in my body 24/7 and know whats best.Low carbing decreased my LP(a), my LDL, trig, and raised my HDL’s. It also stopped my cardiac calcification issue so my plague growth is almost nil in past three ys.
    Another good new book by Dr Robert Su.
    He is also on you tube. He is right on the money as is Track your Plague Dr. William Davis, can read him on

    If you are a deiticanc leading weight loss groups, then good for you for getting educated as professionals sure messed me up for decades telling me to eat more grains, oops…take more insulin, oops…gained more weight….duh…..diabetics don’t process carbs properly so why would you saturate your diet with them. Read Gary Taubes. GOOD CALORIES BAD CALORIES, pay attention to the research not the old sales by the wheat boards etc. low fat was never founded on science, it was a political ploy. Dr B thanks for all you’ve done, keep it up.
    People like Larry live in dark ages and its obvious he didn’t know how to low carb properly, everyone is so full of myths. My brain didn’t need “glucose” at all, but my body loves the taste of it,but wheat boards, rice boards, pasta boards, need your money.
    We each have our own choice to live long and healthy or develop complications from high carbs.

    Dr B can you explain why you focused on males?

  27. Dr John Briffa 24 May 2010 at 10:49 am #


    More name-calling? And not even a whiff of science.

    Remember, Larry, the piece was about anti-low-carb propaganda in the absence of supporting science. I suppose I should be grateful to you for so aptly demonstrating the sort of behaviour the post sought to alert readers to.

  28. Dennis 24 May 2010 at 8:41 pm #


    Figures 1 and 2 of your book do not mention animal foods or fats. Fats such as olive oil and others have very low nutritional value even compared to grains ” I think all food should have high nutritional value so I cannot agree that fats should be eaten in high quantities. The main foods to eat are fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, animal flesh, legumes AND some whole grains ” added fat, which was not part of primal diet, and is not nutritious, and should be kept to a minimum.

    Diary foods (perhaps 5000 years old) are more modern than grains (perhaps 8000 years old) so if you believe in a primal diet, it does not make sense to recommend eating diary products yet exclude grains. I do not think we need to be as extreme as taking a ‘pure’ primal diet – but if we eat diary it should be natural organic, unpasteurised, unhomogenised full cream milk as this is the most natural. There is no justification for recommending modern cheese as this is a highly processed food. Similarly I think it is perfectly reasonable to consume some whole grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat, oats and rye.

    You recommend eating bacon and sausages ” again I cannot agree with this as these are modern processed foods (and have reported health problems) ” animal flesh is a very important food but is should be natural cuts of fresh unprocessed sea fish, meat and poultry.

    Finally, in your recipes, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of calories come from animal foods. I do not see how one could practicably eat 2000 calories a day from these recipes, unless one eats a large amount of nutrition poor added fat which is not to be recommended in my opinion.

  29. Stefan 24 May 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    After gradually putting on weight, becoming more lethargic, having an inflammatory skin condition, and always being depressed, I switched to Paleo on the basis that it made sense that we didn’t need so many carbs if we’d only started eating them so much since agriculture 10,000 years ago.

    My depression vanished, I started being clear headed most of the time, I feel lighter, and I lost weight, which then stabilised at a weight which my wife describes as “lean and sexy”.

    No amount of handwaving arguments can win against my body’s spontaneous reaction to going paleo. Maybe paleo is not 100% ideal, but so far it seems 90% ideal whereas low fat/high carb looks 20% ideal.

    For 20 years I reduced my meat intake, ate mostly breads and veggies, and I now consider those 20 years mostly wasted. Imagine what an extra 25% energy or mental clarity can do for you for 20 years in the prime of your life.

    Whatever “researchers” you choose to listen to, the first evidence you must listen to is your own body’s reaction to different diets. Bodies are very complex, and we can’t experiment on people in anything but the most rudimentary and least invasive ways, so don’t take too seriously what any research claims — there are limits to their certainty and most of it is hypothetical and tentative.

    Do it yourself, trust your own body’s reactions, think hard about your own beliefs.

  30. Megan 24 May 2010 at 11:33 pm #

    I started low carb after reading your article in the Times. I am an apple shape and seemed unable to lose the bump. I couldn’t control my appetite after giving up smoking 10 years ago; I was starving constantly. My favourite tipple was rye bread slathered with butter. I thought about food every minute of the day. I ate a healthy diet with lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruit and organic meats yet my weight crept up every week. I never knew what it felt like to be “full”. If I woke at night, I’d cram bread and butter and if I bought a litre of icecream as a treat, I’d eat it all at one sitting.

    Since going low carb and no grain (meat, fish, salad, greens, avocados, berries, eggs, nuts, fats) only 6 days ago, I’ve started to lose weight but, more importantly, my gigantic appetite has stopped screaming for attention every waking moment and my getting-to-be-constant friend, acid reflux, has been quiet these last 5 nights. It’s the first time in 10 years that I feel in charge of my body. There will be blips, I know, but I’ve found something that works in just a few days. By the way, one of my sons is an athlete and has been following a low carb diet for the last 2 years under the guidance of a personal trainer. He’s fit, youthful, energetic and successful at his chosen sport!

  31. Robin 25 May 2010 at 12:51 am #

    I love all this.

    You have to feel a whisper of sympathy for Larry making the mistake of trolling on this discussion board. Must be his high-carb diet. If he has a diet.


  32. Wendy 25 May 2010 at 1:39 am #

    Larry hasn’t quite figured out yet that while he’s entitled to his own opinion, he’s not entitled to his own facts.

    Perhaps he wouldn’t sound quite so shrill if he took a basic course in human metabolism.

  33. LarryAJ 25 May 2010 at 2:10 am #

    The other Larry is either miss informed or has been brain washed by the anti-low carb crowd. The ONLY cells that MUST use glucose for energy are those that DO NOT have mitochondria, notably the red blood cells (the greatest number) and a few in the brain stem and kidneys (if I remember right). ALL other cells have functioning mitochondria EXCEPT CANCER cells where something has switched off the genes that function in the normal mitochondria so fat/protein metabolism stops.

    The following is a link to a scan out of TEXTBOOK OF MEDICAL PHYSIOLOGY by Guyton, 8th Ed. (which is THE textbook used by premed students) where I have marked the paragraph telling that even the brain will adapt to using fat in stead of glucose.
    AND if you think about a diabetic, their disease is proof that glucose is actually a weak toxin (BUT still a toxin!) to the brain since one of the dangers of diabetes is high blood sugar (glucose) which causes them to lapse in to coma which can lead to death. So saying that the brain needs sugar is almost like saying it needs arsenic – of course, arsenic is not a weak toxin so the dose would have to be smaller to match the effect. NOTE: there are some calling Alzheimer’s disease diabetes of the brain.

    I will end with a last comment – I have been on a low carb/high fat diet since February 2002. My annual physicals since then show excellent triglyceride and HDL levels. And on the Active Low-Carber Forums (URL – there are many more low carbers that have been so for over a year. So the issue of long term, meaning over a year, is moot.

  34. LarryAJ 25 May 2010 at 2:26 am #

    I should have noted that the 8th Ed by Guyton was published at the height of the anti fat hysteria. So Guyton had to water down the percentage of energy obtained from fat to the 50 to 75% you see in the text. But if as the text says, the Eskimos sometimes ate almost all fat, then the energy derived from fat HAD to be much higher, probably in the 95% range, maybe higher. I doubt that tests have been done to find the upper limit.

  35. Sue French 17 August 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I’m a bit late getting to this fascinating argument/discussion. I originally logged on to get some more info on how to get to a truth about low carb versus hi carb diets. It’s really confusing if you’ve spent some time reading Patrick Holford who is quite disparaging about the kind of diet John recommends. Whats a person to do? Also for someone like me who doesn’t eat meat or fish and loathes tofu is there any hope of managing this way of eating? Am i allowed Quinoa to up my protein intake? I’d be really glad to have some ideas and opinions on how vegetarians can manage this way of eating and John if it isn’t too late (by now you might be sick of this correspondence) what are your thoughts on Patrick Holfords work which seems to be in direct contradiction to your own.I’m quite confused and relish some clarity!

  36. Steve Taylor 26 August 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Dear Dr John,

    I bought and read your excellent book after seeingthe article in The Times on Saturday. I was so persuaded by your argument that I began to follow the advice from the Sunday following. I weighed in a 246.8 pounds and a week later I am 240.6 pounds and not one hunger pang!

    Can I ask for you views on eating offal such as liver and kidneys. There isn’t much about these foodstuffs in your book. Also my wife asks “where is the equivalent book for women?” and more pointedly when are you going to write it!

  37. Phil 11 January 2011 at 12:03 am #


    The coma you refer to in diabetics is not caused by high blood glucose levels. It is caused by severe dehydration and a profound metabolic acidosis; which, in turn, are caused by an absolute lack of insulin.

    Glucose itself isn’t harmful, an excess of glucose causes body cells to metabolise it in ways that lead to harmful by-products. No glucose=death.


  38. Terry Hobday 12 April 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Larry may have a point. Our need for carbs and protein and fat varies, depending on our metabolic type. We are all different, there is not a one size fits all approach Some people do best on a high protein diet and some do better on a higher carb one. Most of us don’t get enough good fats from fish and pasture raised animals.

  39. Kim 31 July 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    To respond to certain comments. The Masai(who averaged 40-45 yrs) has a high meat diet but in primitive societies where lack of cleanliness abounds,parasites can get into the body & eat at the High cholesterol that a hi meat diet can cause.The parasites doing this is a documented fact.The Innuits with their high meat diets lived till 60,had bad cases of osteoporosis,higher rates of stroke ate raw animal organs to get their vitamin c,hardly a ideal lifestyle. I grew up in the 70s where obesity was rare.White toast,pancakes,cokes,pasta,sugary cereals chocolate bars,apple pie were common but we all walked,played tag,hockey,kicked the ball,there was no video games,200 channel tvs,internet,video etc.We were active.Last, the studies (fringe) that some people allude to regarding saturated fat being good don^t account for statin lowering drugs,very common these days & purposely left out depending on bias.Also one study on saturated fat (from Israel) had saturated fat coming mostly from beans rather than meat.The difference ? beans with their hi fibre(along with anti heart disease,anti cancer fruits,vegetables,legumes) absorb some LDL cholesterol in the intestinal track.Meat has no fibre.I too eat meat but unlike eating a apple you can^t eat red meat every day

  40. db 22 October 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    It seems to be that some of the bloggers are under the impression that the body can not make its own glucose. I suggest they look up the term gluconeogenesis. I used to be a person on the verge of “metabolic syndrome”. By following strict low-carb, I was able to improve my HDL, lower my LDL and significantly lower my triglycerides to a normal level. NO previous diet was ever able to achieve that. My saying is: If you don’t want to be a diabetic, then eat like you ARE one. Sugar is the enemy, my friend, and carbs are sugar!

  41. kim 24 October 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Your body runs on carbs & your brain runs on sugar.Ketosis mimics a starvation state & is a response to save you when you are ill(anorexia,severe alcholism). But it hates that state & will quickly come out of it if you give it enough carbs.Your blood work improved because your taking in less calories,whenever you reduce caloric intake cholesterol goes down.Try going 3 months withour any carb,just eat fat & protein—–see what happens

  42. db 25 October 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with you. While it is true that the brain needs a certain amount of sugar to function, your body can fufill that supply through gluconeogenesis. The only diet that was able to naturally improve my triglycerides was the low-carb ketogenic diet. In short, I’m just commenting on what worked for me, and there are plenty of testimonials from people who have been in ketosis for long periods of time, will no ill effects….so believe what you may, I know what works for me.

  43. Julie 14 November 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    I too do not need my nightly dose of Tums before bed as long as I eat low carb. Too me I feel like most carb food is a drug. I even had withdraw symptoms when I stopped the sugar and breads. The constant hunger and obsessive thoughts about food are now gone. My ankles aren’t swollen at night. Not to speak for anyone else, but I definitely feel that carbs are toxins to my body.

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