About the Post

Author Information

I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

Okay Paleo people – Carbs do NOT Kill

This post is gonna be short and sweet. It was triggered by this:

Carbs are Killing You

Carbs are Killing You (full size)

And this: Paleo Diet Myth Testimonials

I’m not going to write a long post on this. It’s just something I need to get off my chest.

I just wanted to say that I am really tired of telling people on a paleo diet to eat more carbs. People suffering from what Paul Jaminet outlined as “ glucose or carbohydrate deficiency

People who start off great on a low carb diet, then start suffering a few days or even months down the track, health starts to go backwards, sleep is poor, energy is low, low libido, recovery from exercise is slow, perhaps even hypothyroid symptoms.They might start to gain fat again, or stop losing weight and get sick easily.

There are numerous examples on other websites / blogs of people who have developed severe carb phobia, suffered from “very low carb is good and carbs can kill” mentality, had health that suffered, ate more carbs, then felt better, had health improvements and even started to lose weight. And there is also much debate about whether or not it is better to be very low carb or not – No I’m not going there.

I’ve always been a more moderate carb eater myself, and whenever I’ve gone very low carb, I’ve never felt my best. I dislike having a high fat diet needed to replace the carbs, and my appetite control is worse on very low carb.

But that’s me, and as I’ve come from the Zone camp to Paleo, and had the experience of seeing the Zone / moderate carb diet work for hundreds of people – short and long-term, I guess you could say I’m biased.

Anyhow to re-phrase – this is how I view carbs:

Carbohydrates do not Kill – Excess carbohydrates and sugars from the wrong sources (grains, refined grains, fructose, sugar etc) can cause havoc for many people, especially when combined with other damaging food (industrial vegetable oils, excess omega 6), and lack of nutrients, and may lead / contribute to illness (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer etc) that could eventually kill them.

Carbohydrates, eaten in the right amount, i.e. is appropriate to an individual’s metabolism and activity level, eaten in a way that does not spike blood glucose in a damaging way, that come from non damaging sources (for that person*), and are combined with a high nutrient diet, are very healthy!

*personally I do not eat rice or potato, but feel great and have stable weight eating other types of starches

Post updated: Feb 14

More carbohydrates and less protein, to kick-start weight loss (this from a commenter on Robb Wolf’s paleo forum, who took the advice to up her carbs)

I am THRILLED to report that upping my carbs is the first thing that has helped in over 2 1/2 years! I made the changes I listed, but had up to 2 pieces of fruit a day, instead of the one I have listed. When I want a snack, I have been reaching for veggies or fruit instead of meat, and I am happy to report:

weight down after the weekend (instead of up)
less cravings/more calm hunger (not ravenous)
puffy face in the morning – gone
not freezing to death
more energy throughout the day and sleeping more soundly at night
hair loss is not better yet, but what do I expect after only 3 days!

These may seem minor things, but they all affect my quality of life in small ways, and all are symptoms of hypothyroid. Mainly I just want to LGN, and losing hair instead of weight was definitely not moving me toward that goal :-). I’m convinced that the very low carb diet was preventing the conversion of T4 –> T3 in my case, and may be true for you too. I’ve been down the low carb rabbit hole — “If I’m not losing on 30 g, then I should go 20g. If I’m not losing on 20g, then I should try for 0 g. If I’m not losing on that, I need to cut calories — and there’s NO WAY I’m adding carbs back in.” I understand the fear of insulin spike and hunger, but there are other forms of metabolic derangement, and 2 1/2 years of unsuccessful dieting eventually became bigger and scarier to me than a grumbly belly. So, I gave the 50-100 g level a try. To be honest, though, I feel like my hunger got more under control after only 2 days of HIGHER carb, than on all of the nearly zero carb days. Go figure!

Anyway, I hope the info helps the low T3 crowd. Good luck!

___________________________________________________________

Fructose can Kill, might be the most appropriate statement:

Sugar blamed for 35 million deaths in the USA

(HT: that paleo guy)

Also a useful discussion from Paul Jaminet on Higher Carb Dieting: Pros and Cons, be sure to read the comments as well.

Also read: StudyChocolate cake at breakfast leads to better long-term weight loss when on a low carb diet

Study: More weight lost on higher carb diets for some: It depends on insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity

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72 Responses to “Okay Paleo people – Carbs do NOT Kill”

  1. ButMadNNW #

    Hi, I’m relatively new to the whole paleo/primal thing and am wondering if I can ask you to go into this a bit more. What are “acceptable” carbs? Don’t the paleo/primal eating plans say you get carbs from vegetables? Any help appreciated. :-)

    February 2, 2012 at 7:15 am Reply
    • ButMadNNW #

      Should’ve said “guidelines”, not “plans”.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:16 am Reply
    • I get my carbs from fruit and starchy vegetables – root and pumpkin / squash. Others are happy to add potato and rice, I do occasionally – but usually avoid because I have auto-immune issues. However many people cut out all fruit and all starchy vegetables leaving them eating practically a no carb diet. Most non starch veggies are virtually 0 carb.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:23 am Reply
      • ButMadNNW #

        Thanks for the response! I eat fruit (oranges, lots of berries, etc.) and was actually worried I might be doing too much of that. I’ll stop worrying. ;-) And I’ll look into more starchy vegetables, too.

        February 2, 2012 at 7:35 am Reply
        • I tend to stick to no more than a cup of fruit a day – and get the rest of my carbs from starch veg. Fruit does contain more fructose and can be an issue for some people trying to lose weight.

          February 2, 2012 at 8:50 am Reply
      • Debbie #

        I’ve maintained an 80 pound weight loss for over 20 years, but really was semi-starving myself, eating very little protein, and tons of sugar-free candy (seriously). I am now eating well, low-carb, but I haven’t been measuring. I eat a ton of low-carb vegetables, some nuts, a square or two of dark chocolate – but after reading your blog, I’m wondering if I’m still under-eating, or not eating enough carbs. I would still like to lose about 5 pounds – but, as I’m in my fifties, perhaps that’s not realistic for me. My energy isn’t as great as I’d like – so – root vegetables? Thanks.

        March 6, 2012 at 5:31 am Reply
        • I know what you mean about the 50’s thing. I’m hitting menopause and suddenly my tummy is an inch bigger! Not happy!
          Need to readjust my diet / exercise / supplements I think.

          March 6, 2012 at 9:02 am Reply
  2. were encouraging that more and more people in the Paleo scene are taking this stance – Mark’s book is excellent, but his infamous carb-chart might have led (…and is leading…) many people down the – for them – wrong path

    February 2, 2012 at 8:05 am Reply
  3. Great post, Julianne. One that can’t be repeated enough. With the popularity of paleo, I believe we are also starting to see more of people saying paleo didn’t work for them. Whilst I am sure there is always going to be people for whom it genuinely doesn’t work, I do think most of the problem is in the application.

    When low-fat was all the rage, a low-fat diet, by official definition, was anything under 30-33% of total energy intake. But people take the approach that if eating low-fat at 33% is good, then 10% must be a whole heap better and will melt the fat off a whole lot faster. Now with paleo being low-carb (relatively speaking by comparison to a conventional Western diet), people are doing the same thing. If 100g of carbs per day is good, less than 25g must be better and will speed up fat loss. De ja vu.

    Again, when we were focused on fat, we threw the baby out with the bath water. There was no fidelity in our language to distinguish between the types of fat – they were all bad. Those who now operate with more fidelity in their understanding of fat, make more of a distinction between SFA, MUFA, PUFA, and TFA. Some even understand the biological differences of individual fatty acids.

    Now we have all the carbohydrate phobes seemingly unable to make distinctions between glucose and fructose. Much has been written, at all sorts of levels, in the paleosphere about the separate effects of glucose and fructose, yet we still have people just throwing all of the carbohydrates out. Yes, some people will need to keep even glucose sources limited, but even this might translate to having a starchy carbohydrate refeed every few days. People just need to suck it up and get it into their heads that if they have been trashing their bodies for years, there isn’t going to be a short cut which will fix that in weeks.

    Once you have enjoyed the initial benefits of cutting crap out of your diet, the daily fasting, carbohydrate restriction, and METCON’s, is going to throw their metabolism into meltdown rather than be the fast track to eliteness no matter how many websites throw up poster children to the contrary…

    …I’ll end my rant now before I get myself really wound up!

    February 2, 2012 at 8:17 am Reply
    • Great rant – too true!

      February 2, 2012 at 8:42 am Reply
  4. michaela #

    Greta post Can I ask you what ratio would you suggest to woman who is not trying to loose weight. I know less carb is better for people who want to try to loose weight. So what is good ratio of protein carb and fat 25/20/55? or more protein?? less fat??
    Thanska lot

    February 2, 2012 at 8:38 am Reply
    • I cant really comment on what would work best for you. Many factors come it to play when I suggest a carb amount for people. Blood sugar/ diabetes / pre diabetes / insulin resistance / carb addiction/ leptin resistance / activity level …

      However as a general rule – I always recommend a very clean diet first.
      As far as portion sizes: A palm size of protein at a meal, about 1/2 – 1 cup starchy veg, OR fruit, and lots of non starch veg. Fat – Just use a bit for cooking / dressings / or some avacado. I dont suggest people have a lot of fat as the calories can count – but enough to control hunger and made the meal taste good.

      If you don’t need to lose weight – and in my experience have a more pear shape and are more active – you can usually tolerate and often feel better with a bit more starch. And fat is not so important to limit – but be careful about sticking to good fat. Coconut oil, getting omega 3 and 6 about right and also adding mono-unsat fat

      February 2, 2012 at 8:48 am Reply
  5. Lori itu #

    I myself found that while following my Paleo Diet, when I increased my carbs I felt much better! Doing Crossfit without a goood amount of carbs causes me to be tired moreso! This immediately improved when I began eating more starchy “paleo” accepted carbs! Not only did my energy improve after my workouts but during as well!

    I made this change after reading your blog! Thanks

    February 2, 2012 at 10:06 am Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes I feel best with 20 – 30 grams carbs before a longer crossfit workout. If lifting weights – I get dizzy with too few carbs

      February 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm Reply
      • an hour or so before?

        February 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm Reply
        • Yes. I usually have some protein about1/2 – 1 hour before leaving for the gym and a banana on the way. So about 1/2 hour before exercise.

          February 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm Reply
    • This happened to me too about a week ago! All I did was add a couple pieces of fruit back into my meal plan and voila, the energy was back! Before starting Crossfit a couple weeks back, I had never done the zone or paleo. I guess I was just lucky, in that I read the zone first, then added paleo to it.

      February 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm Reply
      • But I have to ask.. are you all Crossfit and You Know It?

        February 3, 2012 at 5:02 am Reply
  6. michaela #

    Thank you so much, one more question do you consider carrots beets as carb veggies or non carb veggies? Sorry one more, I have read Loren Cordain book and he suggest to eat less protein in pregnancy, we are planning to conceive this year so I will going to eat even more, it is better to obtain more call from carb like sweet potato, may be quinoa then from fruits?

    February 2, 2012 at 11:53 am Reply
    • Beets and carrots – are lower in carbs than sweet potato – but do supply usable carbs unlike leafy veg.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm Reply
  7. FrankG #

    Hi Julianne and thanks for the post.

    This graphic certainly has stirred up an hornet’s nest of discussion! Personally I see that as a good thing… helping to get the message out there that there might be alternatives to the currently established eating guidelines ;-)

    I also think that the banner heading is overstated but wonder if that was not deliberate; so as to grab the attention?

    I agree entirely with your statements that: “Excess carbohydrates and sugars from the wrong sources (grains, refined grains, fructose, sugar etc) can cause havoc for many people, especially when combined with other damaging food (industrial vegetable oils, excess omega 6), and lack of nutrients, and may lead / contribute to illness (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer etc) that could eventually kill them.” and “Carbohydrates, eaten in the right amount, i.e. is appropriate to an individual’s metabolism and activity level, eaten in a way that does not spike blood glucose in a damaging way, that come from non damaging sources (for that person*), and are combined with a high nutrient diet, are very healthy!”

    I wonder how you would condense those sentiments into a short, attention grabbing headline?

    Perhaps something like “If you are always unwell, overweight or have Type 2 Diabetes.. it may be the carbs and NOT the fat in what you eat that are slowly killing you”

    Cheers

    February 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm Reply
    • FrankG #

      Just to add that as a Type 2 Diabetic myself I have maintained myself for over 3 years with great success in both a significant reduction of excess fat mass and Blood Glucose control — as well as every other health marker. This was accomplished while enjoying a low carb way of eating BUT I have never understood or suggested to others the idea that “low carb” equals “NO carb” ;-)

      Thanks

      February 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm Reply
      • Agreed, low carb is not low carb. And as Dr Wahls and Mark Sisson pointed out – nutrients in low starch vegetables are important, so skipping them IMO is a bad idea. And improving mitochondrial function in type 2 diabetes if very important. ‘Carb appropriate’ is a term I would use

        February 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm Reply
    • Yes – I’d love to think of a shorter sentence – will give it some thought.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm Reply
  8. Thank you! I started paleo about a year ago with hopes of dealing with some auto-immune issues, and felt immediately better with regards to those things. But I almost immediately gained weight (and more importantly, fat) trying to maintain a high-fat/low-carb diet and also my athletic performance. Now moderate fat/protein/carbs I feel loads better and have actually lost some of that weight. I’ll be passing this along!

    February 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience

      February 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm Reply
  9. As always, fantastic,.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm Reply
  10. JasonM #

    Hello Julianne. I would love to get your opinion on grains like quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, etc for use as a side at dinner? Unfortunately my wife grew up on potatoes and white rice so I am struggling to get her completely over to vegetables and fruit.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm Reply
    • There are degrees of toxins in grains – Have a look at Mat Lalonde’s ancestral health video – you’ll find a link on one of my blog posts.
      See Paul Jaminet and Perfect Health diet re potatos and rice and using them to provide adequate starch in your diet. They are for most people very low in anti-nutrients. I avoid them because of auto-immune issues and I like other starches better.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm Reply
  11. Great points – you should make a beautiful infographic for people to pass around the internet with ease.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm Reply
    • FrankG #

      I agree Julianne, please do!… you have a great way of explaining things clearly and succinctly. I think this graphic was well-meaning but clearly missed the mark and we do need to get something out there to counter the existing memes like “arterycloggingsaturatedfat” ;-)

      Cheers

      February 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm Reply
  12. Jon #

    I have a lot to thank the low carb community for – the big one being that it led me to Paleo.

    But I do think the message about carbs is wrong for many people. It was certainly wrong for me and adding back in certain types of carbs to Paul Jaminet levels had helped me in three ways:

    1. I no longer crave cheat meals
    2. I broke through a weight plateau
    3. I’m stronger

    February 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm Reply
    • That’s true, the message re carbs and insulin has been so useful for so many.
      The Zone diet led me to Paleo (via CrossFit)

      Like Jamie says – just because reducing carbs (compared to SAD) is good, eating less does not make it better. Also I believe that many people benefit from low carbs not just because they reduce glycemic load but because they also take out grains (particularly gluten grains), fructose and other damaging foods. They think it is low carb that improved all their health issues when in fact it is is likely to be removing gut irritants and liver toxins. I spoke to Jimmy Moore about this. http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/5505/521-paleo-and-zone-nutritionist-julianne-taylor/

      February 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm Reply
  13. Sharyn #

    Does anyone eat bread or crackers of any kind? This is the hardest thing for me to find a substitute for… Im too skinny and Ive lost weight on this paleo diet this last month… I tried to make bread with almond flour (so expensive) and it was a disaster. I seem to be eating a lot of kumara and am getting bored with it…. I need some quick easy ideas.. Im always hungry!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:07 am Reply
    • What about trying white rice or potatoes – check out perfecthealthdiet.com, and adding more fat

      February 3, 2012 at 10:46 am Reply
  14. I do one or two pieces of fruit a day, but don’t restrict kumara, carrots or pumpkin. I can eat other non-gluten carbs like buckwheat, rice and chickpeas moderately (say 4 times a week?) and they are convenient for when I am… being lazy about cooking or want to get creative with a cake or whatever. That’s a new development after years of avoiding all grains/pulses/beans and so far, no ill effects. Lately I have cut out SUGAR (particularly fructose) more or less completely (apart from the small amount in my fruit and root veges). In order to keep my energy up, this required eating more starches. This has been a good move in terms of energy, sleep and mental clarity. I’m experimenting with stevia in baking. It’s.. a bit random so far.. but I’ll get there. I think you are absolutely right that the ‘problem’ is fructose. I blabbed on a bit about that on my blog. How the metabolism of it bypasses the control steps of glycolysis and metabolites can build up to damaging levels. And of course, it really is everywhere. Many people don’t realise that sucrose is half fructose.

    Next, what I REALLY have to do is control my caffeine intake. I’m such an addict. It’s obscene and I know I won’t feel really my VERY BEST until I get that sorted (have done it before and felt amazing, but the withdrawal symptoms were horrendous ..both for me and my friends…).

    Thanks for another great post.

    February 3, 2012 at 4:59 am Reply
  15. michaela #

    I have found the same problem I do not eat enough carb and I do feel tierd do not have energy for my workout. Do you suggest to eat banana before workout? What about after workout what is the best carb meal not to spike insulin a lot. Thanks so much

    February 3, 2012 at 5:05 am Reply
  16. I so often wonder where people are getting their information from, I’ve felt the need to comment on several blogs which say similar things to the comment by Matt Stone “But only because the high priests of Paleo are all super negative about carbs.”. Really? Who exactly are these “high priests”? Where do they say that? Is it too hard to reference?

    I’m a layperson who listens to Robb Wolf’s podcast, reads Mark Sisson, etc and I’m not hearing “super negative about carbs”. Robb and Greg Everett discuss training Crossfit athletes, Olympic weightlifters, MMA athletes, football players, etc, so it’s almost ludicrous to suggest that they’d be dogmatically low carb.

    Meanwhile, I’ll possibly end up in the IKEA restaurant tomorrow watching people so obese they have difficulty moving, filling their glasses past the brim with the free refills of fizzy, sugary water and I shall consider whether what the world really needs right now is an “eBook entitled 12 Paleo Myths”?

    February 3, 2012 at 9:35 am Reply
    • FrankG #

      I agree Nick… there seems to be quite a backlash against Gary Taubes and others based on the misapprehension that his message is all carbs are bad” — I think many may have over-simplified the message into that quote but I do not hear anyone really saying that. Just as I do not hear Dr Lustig saying that “all fructose is poison” or anyone else saying that “insulin makes you fat”.

      If I teach my young son about fire and point out both the risks as well as the benefits, should I be accused of just saying that “fire is dangerous”..?

      Just as Julianne clarifies above, it is a question of quantity and quality — with the quantity that each of us can tolerate very much up to the individual.

      February 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm Reply
  17. sam #

    Can you make psot about pre workout fuel and post workout fuel? I will appreciate this, becasue when I went to paleo I do not do my best I guess carb is problem I do not eat enough of them. I am confused some paleo suggest no fruit some suggest fruit some suggest root veggies, some suggest only protein.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:30 am Reply
    • Sam #

      Please can you reply what is in your opinion best pre and post workout fuel? Thanks a lot

      February 4, 2012 at 6:29 am Reply
      • Hi,
        You need to play around with this a little to see what works for you
        See Robb Wolf FAQ http://www.robbwolf.com/faq/ go down to ‘athletics’
        Also here are my general recommendations (this is from my paleo guidebook, currently I’m updating and re-writing)

        Performance and Pre and Post Workout Nutrition:

        Protein:
        Animal protein (lean meats and fish) are high in BCAA’s
        Leucine, isoleucine, valine
        Protein powders highest in BCAA’s: egg white, 4.3g per 25g then whey 3.5 per 25g. Meats 3.4 per 100cal (about 25g protein). Needed to stimulate and repair muscle tissue.

        (NOTE: BCAA caps contain about 500 – 600mg (0.5 – 0.6 gram) per cap, you do not need these – you will get enough from eating real meat, or using egg white or whey protein powder)

        Get the amount of Protein you need in a day:
        .8 – 1 g per pound body weight (10 – 20 hours training per week)
        Approx 2 grams per kilo per day.

        45 g meat (raw) has 10g protein
        70 g fish has 10g protein
        13 – 15 grams protein powder has 10 g protein (usually 1x 30 ml scoop)

        1 hour intense exercise uses approx 30 g protien.
        Have 20 – 30 g protein stright after 1 hour workout, with a matching amount of carbs for glycogen replacment and recovery. Eg. approx 1 cup sweet potato is 30 g carbs

        Other points re recovery:

        Carbohydrates:

        Use vegetables and fruits, for carbohydrates around workouts – starchy carbs are needed
        Better than grain carbs because:
        Alkaline forming – reduces acid load on body. (grains are acid forming)
        Polyphenols and anti-oxidants reduce inflammation
        Nutrient density per calorie is far higher than grains
        Contain beneficial fibre for gut health
        20 – 40 % calories from fruit and vegetables to provide alkaline environment in body (per day)

        Herbs and spices – use lots, many are anti-inflammatory e.g. turmeric, ginger and garlic

        Fats:
        Omega 6 fats promote inflammation
        Omega 3 fats reduce inflammation
        Saturated fats can increase inflammation but not nearly as much as Omega 6
        Monounsaturated fat is neutral to anti-inflammatory. Also known as Omega 9
        Reduce omega 6:
        Use lean grass fed meats / free range Poultry
        Use olive oil and coconut oil, avocado, nuts and their oils.
        Check your oils if using other oils: See label – Polyunsaturated oil amount less than 15g per 100g.

        Increase fish oil Omega 3
        Promotes brain and nerve function
        Decreases inflammation
        Speeds recovery

        February 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm Reply
      • Good info here too
        http://talktomejohnnie.com/diet/game-day-nutrition

        February 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm Reply
      • Sam #

        Oh my gosh I can not say enough thanks for that

        THANK YOU

        February 5, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply
  18. Joan Mercantini #

    So you get your carbs from starchy vegetables. One size does not fit all! If you were a diabetic you would be aware of what starchy vegetables , not to mention lentils and beans can do to raise your blood sugar. Time to wake up and smell the coffee!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm Reply
    • My point exactly – one size does not fit all.
      The current information that carbs drive insulin drive fat storage, has led many to think that if they need to lose even a small amount of weight they have to go virtually no carb.

      And that is simply not the case, many people lose weight perfectly well on a moderate carb diet. And feel better to boot.

      However as you point out a person with type 2 diabetes and poor blood sugar control, needs to be far more careful with starchy carbs and fruit.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm Reply
    • Hi Joan, your response reads a little aggressive considering that your point is actually addressed and agreed on in this post. The paragraph…

      “Carbohydrates, eaten in the right amount, i.e. is appropriate to an individual’s metabolism and activity level, eaten in a way that does not spike blood glucose in a damaging way, that come from non damaging sources (for that person*), and are combined with a high nutrient diet, are very healthy!”

      …clearly says “appropriate to an individual’s metabolism” and “eaten in a way that does not spike blood glucose in a damaging way”.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm Reply
    • Sid #

      Of course diabetics are different, just like someone with gallbladder issues may have to be wary of fat.

      Paul jaminet has a post on this. Basically, lets say a sweet potato has a GI of about 50 or 60. When you add it to a meal with fat it lowers the GI a lot, add some protein it lowers it even more, then add some fibrous vegetables which brings the glycemic index/load down even further.

      If you’ve been eating very low carb for a while it may take a week or 2 to adjust because basically your body has lost some ability to process glucose efficiently, just like it takes a week or 2 for someone to adjust to a low carb diet and use fat and ketones efficiently.
      http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4937

      April 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm Reply
  19. To condemn natural foods like brown rice (a staple food for centuries in the Asian cultures, well known for being among the healthiest and longest-lived), 100% whole grains, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, legumes and so on for healthy carb-tolerant people, especially those who are highly active and already reasonably lean, doesn’t make a whit of sense to me.
    But I might be wrong

    February 4, 2012 at 3:35 am Reply
    • I guess you need to read this article: Cereal Grains:
      Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword
      http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/EvolutionPaleolithic/Cereal%20Sword.pdf

      Also I have not condemned rice, or sweet potato. Also white potatoes are fine for most people.
      It all depends on the level of toxins in grains and legumes and the individual. Traditionally grains and legumes were prepared with much soaking, fermenting, slow cooking to reduce anti-nutrients. My whole point about this post was that we shouldn’t condemn carbohydrates, they should be used as required. A highly active althlete is going to need more carbs.

      February 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm Reply
  20. Lynda #

    I agree with this post – well once I saw what carbs you were talking about! I eat carrots, onion, pumpkin, a little beetroot and a little kumera. I was shocked reading a forum recently where the person said they didn’t add onion or carrrot to a dish because of the carbs! I am sorry but after cutting out wheat, sugar, rice and potato I think my body will do just fine with some healthy vegetable carbs! Thanks for pointing this out.

    February 4, 2012 at 10:09 am Reply
    • Yes – it is interesting that when the word ‘carbs’ is mentioned people immediately think of bread, pasta, rice and other grains, and potatoes.

      Carbohydrates are any food that are made from digestible sugar (glucose, fructose, etc) molecules – fruit, vegetables – especially root and squash.

      February 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm Reply
  21. Hi Julliane. I haven’t been around so often, but I always come back to your blog for quality information. If only 10% of nutritionists would be so open minded, this would be so different… Best wishes, Ricardo. PS: New paper -> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22291727

    February 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm Reply
    • Awesome Ricardo, thanks for the link! Stephanie Seneff, great – one of my heros in the nutrition science world.

      February 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm Reply
  22. [...] Julianne: Okay, People, Carb’s Don’t Kill [...]

    February 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm Reply
  23. Sylvia #

    I was a fan of Taubes and low-carb paleo for 6 months until it bought me sudden chest pains, shortness of breath and high cholesterol levels.

    My thyroid levels seemed okay, but I was constantly cold, dizzy, had pounding palpitations and had trouble sleeping – I’m only 26 by the way. Prior to the low carb diet, I’ve never ever had those symptoms before, so when they suddenly showed after a few months on the diet, I thought I was dying!

    I’ve been to cardiologist, taken numerous blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds and more, luckily it wasn’t my heart. So the doctors thought I had anxiety, so I went to psychologist and testing showed I was normal and not suffering from anxiety or hypochondria.

    After all that, I was at my wit’s end. I continued the low carb diet for 7 more months, not realising that it was causing me to have high cholesterol. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto Paul Jaminet and Anthony Colpo’s blogs, that’s when it all fell into place. Turns out it was low carb that caused me to have borderline hypothyroid symptoms (feeling cold, low libido, high cholesterol), low blood sugar/salt (which caused the dizziness and poor memory, brain swelling pressure), and despite eating more fruits and vegies my heart was having palpitations and chest pains were probably caused by mineral excretion (low magnesium/potassium/selenium levels?) The chest pains were bothersome enough that I thought I was having a heart attack – I kept going to emergency!

    Although my blood test showed that my thyroid hormones were more elevated than previous years, my doctor wasn’t concerned. Since I started eating more carbs (potatoes, sweet potatoes, taros, rice) I feel SO much better. I hope the chest pains will completely go away soon.

    Anthony Colpo also mentioned other side effects other low carb paleo dieter’s have had, namely: cramps, lethargy, bad breath, constipation, and menstrual irregularities, cardiomyopathy, panic attacks, nausea/vomiting, bruising, diarrhea, hyponatremia, hepatitis, kidney stones, and severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

    Some studies have shown that ketogenic diets have caused cardiac fatalities! When I read that, it really really scared me. Thank goodness I caught it early before I continued to damage myself.

    Thank you for writing posts like these! People need to know not ALL carbs are bad. Honestly, I think Gary Taubes really need to be careful in recommending low carb like it’s the only diet for everyone, you can seriously hurt people dishing out advice like that. I still believe paleo/ancestral diets are awesome, but with higher carbs added is probably safer for most people. I don’t know how the Inuits or Masai does it (low carb) but I’m guessing it could be their activity levels. But my job requires glucose to fuel my brain, so sweet potatoes here I come!

    I noticed a few others who were on low card diets also had dizziness, brain fog and cold body temp when they were on low carb too – it goes away when I make them eat roast potatoes lol.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I too am concerned about the low carb authors and the fact they are unaware of the down sides of too few carbs.

      May 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm Reply
  24. cliff #

    Your fructose propaganda is just as bad as the carb porpaganda.

    Pot meet kettle :)

    May 30, 2012 at 12:59 am Reply
    • I’m not convinced fructose is safe. A moderate amount contained in whole fruit – yes, but not as soft drinks and high fructose syrups

      May 30, 2012 at 8:29 am Reply
  25. Julieanne,
    I think you missed the mark a bit here and when we decide to make a blanket statement without looking at the entire BIG PICTURE we do more harm than good. We need to remember that when *most* paleo people refer to “carbs” they are referring to pasta, bread, cereal and fries, the big offenders. This infographic is value-added, it does good, not bad. It does not state ALL carbs are bad or to stay away from ALL carbs, it’s very specific about the carbs it says to stay away from, which we should all agree, we all need to stay away from. Rice is NOT ANYTHING to post this over, seriously. I think we need to stop getting caught up in “our personal” beliefs and take into account the overall big picture. This infographic is an overall GREAT message to outsiders of the paleosphere to get people on a healthier track and off of the crap that is making them fat and making them sick and the items listed on the graphic, do that, there is nothing in it, that is not accurate. People on the inside of paleo already debate the minutae, leave this stuff for those debates but this graphic was intended for those not in the loop. You aren’t helping anyone with this post. No offense, just my personal opinion. I hope you take another look at it and realize that. I love a lot of your stuff, while we don’t always agree but this just doesn’t help the movement progress.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:43 am Reply
    • To some extent I agree with you, outside paleo or low carb community, people will find this infographic gets the message about refined carbs across.

      However my message – is to paleo people, hence the heading, not necessarily the general public. Also I think this infographic has big holes in it. This kind of message is giving too many people carb phobia.

      First: Carbohydrates are NOT bad for you – only the wrong ones and only eaten in excess for your needs, which includes spiking blood sugar and consequent insulin in an unhealthy way.
      The inforgraphic does make a point about eating the wrong carbs – that is true. But blanket statements like carbs can kill promote carb phobia – of all carbs in my observation. To the point where many in the paleo community are eating too few carbs and not feeling or performing well.

      Second: Fat can make you fat – excess calories of any type will drive fat accumulation. A blanket statement like fat does not make you fat – is wrong. Excess fat will go into fat cells, on a protein and fat diet – insulin is released in response to protein in sufficient amounts to store fat.

      Third: A decrease in calories helps you lose weight. You can cut carbs and not lose fat – I’ve seen this happen.
      Excess carbs cause overeating, and excess carbs drive hunger – this is where the problem lies with carbs. Carbohydrates in excess, particularly refined – and especially eaten on their own (as many people do these days), is that they drive HUNGER. (Through high blood sugar -> high insulin -> drives blood sugar low -> hunger, cravings -> overeating.
      This in my observation is the problem with excess carbohydrates, we cannot maintain a lower calorie intake when we are hungry. Backed up by a number of studies. If however, you have a calorie controlled low fat, high carb diet, you will lose weight, but you will be hungry in the process.

      A higher protein, lower carb diet – in general will increase satiety, control blood sugar, and the person will decrease calories – leading to weight loss.

      The problem with infographics like this is that they simplify far too much.

      Part of my frustration has come from dealing with numerous paleo people (via forums, I moderate on Robb Wolf’s) who have dropped carbs in their diet very low and have been suffering a number of problems as I outlined. I see clients regularly who do the same.
      Increasing carbohydrates makes a huge difference in how they feel and perform, and when I balance their diet – portion control of all the macronutrients – fat loss resumes, and hunger is actually better controlled.

      However – quality of food should take precidence. When eating natural non grain carbs – I rarely see an issue with carb intake at all. Very few people go too high, eating what they feel like. So my point to paleo people is – paleo carbs do not kill.

      July 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm Reply
      • Julieanne,
        We had a huge debate over this on my FB wall…after further examination and having a few friends make some really good points…I believe that the infographic has some good information but isn’t thorough enough and does not do a good enough job of breaking down it’s initial points. It did lead 3 new people to ask me questions about carbs and what to eat and what not to eat which is good but it does not appropriately show the right message and can be misleading so I definitely can understand where y’all are all coming from. I think if they had been more specific about which carbs make you fat, how and why, how fat can help you lose weight but again can make you fat if eaten to excess and just being more specific in it’s message instead of sensationalistic would have been a better graphic message overall. So, I just wanted to tell you, I appreciate your response. I think we agree in what we all believe as far as carb intake should be and let you know I have actually removed my postings of the graphic. As you said, it is too simplistic in it’s approach, I think that sums it up, perfectly. Thanks again.

        July 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm Reply
  26. Erick #

    All I can say about carbs is that they make me SLEEPY. I am a big guy at 6’2″ and around 220 pounds and pretty lean.
    So for me, I’ve gone through phases of going very low on carbs (under 100g per day average) to going up on carbs because I can’t afford to eat 3000 calories of quality meats and veggies per day and gaining muscle is a goal of mine.
    What ended up being the best solution for me so far (I’m still toying with things) is that I cut carbs to less than 50g for a day or 2 per week. On most days, I’m at around 150-200g of carbs (sounds like a lot and might be for a person that is 130 pounds, but I’m 22o and very physically active).
    I think overall that everyone is different and there is no perfect way to pinpoint what level of carbs is ideal for everyone. It is a matter of trial and error. Those who try a diet and decide it didn’t work for them frequently fail because they do not spend time paying attention to the way foods and macros affect their body, mind, and energy levels. Rather than shrugging off a diet because a person isn’t seeing the results they want, it would be better to make small adjustments until things fall into place better.

    August 6, 2012 at 9:14 am Reply
    • Great to hear from someone who ‘gets’ it. And interesting to hear of your own experience. I had a client recently – a woman who experimented and found this method very succesful too. She has about 100- 150 g carbs for 5 days and 30 carbs on 2 days a week. She found she got best weight loss / and felt good this way.

      I think the mistake people make is ditching the food quality choices if lower carbs dont work, instead of trying more starchy carbs (some find adding a little rice, if root vegetable is not enough), or playing round with macronutrients.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:37 am Reply
  27. Meg #

    When counting carbs, non-starchy vegetables do not count, right? What do you consider non-starchy carbs?

    Thank you! I love you blog. I just found it and want to do some self experimentation to see what works for me!

    Also, when people are eating paleo and know they need a certain amount of carbs, do they eat them throughout the day or JUST before/after their workout?

    September 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm Reply
    • Use the carb counters here
      http://paleozonenutrition.com/2012/04/13/paleo-diet-carbohyrate-counter/
      I eat carbs at most meals but not all and tend to concentrate them around workouts

      You need around 100 grams carbs day for physiological functions. Personally i feel best when I eat this amount, not every day – but most days

      September 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm Reply
      • Meg #

        Thank you so much, sweetie! Honestly, thank you. I have been trying to get ahold of someone to answer this question for me and you are the first to reply. xoxo

        September 6, 2012 at 6:08 am Reply
  28. Karen B. #

    I also found that I feel better with some carbs.
    Somehow I got the message that to lose weight on Paleo I had to cut out starchy foods, nuts and fruit, so I did. When I worked out I’d get shaky and nauseous. Now I eat half a banana or other fruit before my workout and the other half when I’m finished and it’s working great! I no longer feel shaky or nauseous at all, just pumped (and really ready to eat the other half of my fruit). I also have an apple (my fav) or another piece of fruit in the evening, as a snack and have been sleeping much better.
    I’m almost 50, slightly overweight, eating paleo for 3 yrs and have hypothyroid which I take levoxyl and cytomel for.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:01 am Reply
  29. Chelsea #

    thank you thank you!
    I feared starches and fruits for about a year and now finally realizing that I feel better, and eat a lot of veggies vs meats now!
    So glad I found your site.

    June 15, 2013 at 12:36 am Reply
  30. Brianna #

    Simple carbs made me OBESE with a BMI of 36. I am now quite slender…size 6/8 pants. Still have my boobs…I used to be very ill all of the time but not any more…I hated to drive let alone walk. Cutting out almost all simple carbs and cooking my own food with simple ingredients and eating as much saturated fat as I can stand has worked for me I have lost 50 lbs. and I am MUCH more active that I have been in over 10 years…I am not super strict about the complex carbs that I do eat <100 a day is fine…so still eating fruit and veggies…and lots of butter or cheese on the veggies…

    June 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm Reply

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