Eating is hard

Losing weight is probably less important for regular people than you think. Increasing muscle mass is more important than focusing on body fat percentage.

There was an article in the Washington Post last fall sort of downplaying low-carbohydrate diets. Maybe she’s right.

If so, why does one eat less on fewer carbs?

A hypothesis is because of fewer and lower insulin spikes, resulting in less feelings of hunger. See more at Pubmed on how Ghrelin and leptin regulate hunger.

Another hypothesis is that by eating fewer carbs you eat either more protein and/or more fat, both of which are more satiating than carbs.

If so again, in the studies where people lost weight, did they just lose fat? Or did they lose muscle and fat? I’d rather be a bit overweight but muscled and strong than lean and weak and small muscled.

She also said “After a year, any low-carb advantage all but disappears.” This isn’t an indictment of a low carb diet, but rather could point to multiple mechanisms. Has the body reached a new set-point and the ghrelin and leptin values different?

Too many people conflate “losing weight” with health.

A person can be low weight, but also low muscle and a person can be obese and have a high muscle mass (still not necessarily healthy). The older we get the more at risk we are for sarcopenia.

Regardless of her argument, you can start with what should we eat at all, from a macronutrient perspective.

We all need protein (essential amino acids) and fat (essential fatty acids).

There is no such thing as essential carbohydrates. Maybe I’m wrong.

We also need micronutrients (Vitamin C, Vitamin A, etc.), which can be found in protein, fat, or carbs.

If you start with protein, there are two considerations: grams of protein per body weight and grams of protein per meal.

Protein per body weight estimations run from .8g/lean body mass all the way up to 1.0 grams per total body weight. Some researchers recommend a minimum of 30 grams of protein per meal to ensure you get enough leucine to trigger protein synthesis. Dr. Gabrielle Lyon is one advocate of this approach.

To help determine how many grams of fat and carbs you should get, you would need to estimate how many calories you should be eating.

There are calculators online to estimate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which estimates how many calories you expend based on your age, height, weight, and your body fat percent. The BMR is adjusted based on your activity level.

Another consideration is your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE), which is how much you might have burned off in a day based on activity level.

Fat and carbs can then be tailored based on your meal desires to meet your caloric needs.

A concern but not an indictment: some of this author’s other articles focus on the goodness of vegetables and how pork products are bad for the environment.

It bears further investigating if she is a vegetarian and/or doesn’t understand the benefits that ruminants (I know pigs aren’t ruminants) play on soil health.


I don’t necessarily advocate or strive for a low carbohydrate diet.

Looking at my cronometer app on my phone, I’ve averaged 50 grams of carbs a day for the last two years or so.

I do strive personally for a low grain diet, and get my carbs primarily from veggies (broccoli, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, lettuce, etc.) and fruits (berries, bananas, apples, pomegranates, watermelon).

The quality of food is important, so when deciding whether to eat a slice of bread, you would ideally not just say “should I eat 22 grams of carbs right now?” but rather think about the larger value to your overall diet.

I may have grossly oversimplified the details of the above, but I’ve been ruminating on this for a while.







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