The excellence of a Low Carb Diet
- A low-carb diet is wonderful for weight loss. You need never be hungry with these diets! In this first section, pick what matches your individual needs for weight loss.
- If you do not yet know what your needs are, please understand that the word 'diet' on our website does not mean 'temporary reducing diet.'
- Temporary reducing diets do not promote permanent weight loss. However, a change of eating habits (or 'diet' as we use the word) does promote permanent weight loss.
- Many people force themselves to go on starvation diets and do achieve temporary weight reductions. When they go off the diet they typically regain the weight and often more fat than they lost.
In this the Low Carb Diet section of our website we have the following pages:
- Low Carb Diets, Part One
- Low Carb Diets, Part Two
- Low Carb Foods List
- Low Carb Paleolithic Diet
- Carb Counts for Fruit Chart
Your Goal and the Low Carb Diet
A low-carb diet will promote lasting weight loss when used correctly.
Since your goal is to:
- lose body fat and
- keep it off
- (or to avoid becoming too fat), it is very important that you clearly understand how a low-carb diet works and why it works.
Your diet is simply your total consumption of nutrients. To lose body fat in a healthful way and to remain trim, it's important to improve your diet permanently. A low-carb diet can be that diet.
This Is All About You!
- Whatever the present state of your health (including your percentage of body fat), you are the product of a long evolutionary success story.
- Your ancestors survived and successfully reproduced. This isn't true just about the last few generations or even the last few centuries: your story stretches back thousands of years, in fact, hundreds of thousands of years and even millions of years!
- Please begin thinking of yourself as a highly successful human being who is the product of a very long line of other successful human beings.
Key idea: simply learn how to make better decisions by studying what worked in the past.
Your ancestors were not obese.
If you are obese, it's because you have not learned from them how to make decisions that are beneficial with respect to your percentage of body fat.
If you want to become more like them, begin acting more as they did in relation to moving (exercise) and eating a low-carb diet.
Nobody knows exactly what their lives were like. Historical records don't go back very far. However, scientists are putting together a picture that is becoming clearer. Let's have a look.
Meet Your Ancestors and Their Low Carb Diet
- Your human and hominid ancestors had a natural low-carb diet. They ate plants and animals for the last 2.5 million years (and for well before that).
- For a very long time, then, nature shaped their genes, their biochemistry, and their bodies to consume fats, proteins, and carbs (carbohydrates), which are the three macronutrients.
- For most of that time, your fore-bearers ate raw food. It was only relatively recently (sometime between 50,000 to 350,000 years ago) that your ancestors began using cooking fires.
- Your ancestors were one of 193 species of primates. All primates eat small animals. Humans are different from other primates with respect to flesh-eating in two respects.
- Humans are the only primates who cook flesh before eating it.
- Humans took flesh-eating to the extreme.
- Humans can be healthy by eating only fresh foods. There are human cultures today in which little or nothing else is eaten, and it appears that that was how our ancestors survived as well.
- Flesh foods aren't just muscle: they include subcutaneous fat as well as internal organs including marrow. Flesh foods provide both fats and proteins.
- Your ancestors were omnivores who ate berries, leaves, and other foods from plants when they are available.
- However, over the last two and one-half million years, there have been a series of Ice Ages when they didn't always have access to plant foods.
- Your ancestors came from Africa, and hominid bones are found there with animal bones, which, presumably, were leftover from your ancestors' meals.
- Without cooking, there are not many plant foods on the African savannah with enough calories to make them worth being eaten by humans.
What plants would they have eaten?
Seeds, for example, are naturally indigestible.
- All plants are composed of cells that have walls made of cellulose. For your ancestors as for us, cellulose is indigestible fiber; humans lack the enzymes in our digestive system to break it down.
- In this way, our digestive systems are unlike those of other primates. The nutrients in plant cell walls simply pass through our digestive system.
- Neither the teeth of fossilized hominids nor their fossilized stools show that your ancestors chewed or ate plant material.
- Paleolithic artists from the last Ice Age left us wonderful paintings of animals but not of plants.
What could they have been eating other than animals?
Everyone knows that our ancestors' brains became rather large relatively quickly. This could not have happened without large quantities of the right kinds of proteins and fats.
If so, it seems, then, our ancestors ate primarily flesh foods. Of course, when hungry, they undoubtedly supplemented their diet with plant foods as long as, until relatively recently, those plant foods didn't require cooking (for example, fruits).
It's important to notice that they did not evolve eating: grasses (grains)!
The seeds of wild grasses are very small and difficult to harvest. If our ancestors ate them at all, it's likely that they only resorted to them if they were starving.
Go Against the Grain on a Low Carb Diet
Today, after the Agricultural Revolution, we humans around the globe regularly consume grains [the major ones are wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, sorghum, and millet] that were all derived from wild grasses.
However, well over 99% of our genes evolved before the cultivation of wild grasses.
Nor were our ancestors eating legumes (like beans), potatoes, dairy products, or processed sugars!
Carbs (sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums) come from plant foods. Our ancestors didn't evolve eating carbohydrates; they evolved eating fats and proteins.
As a result, our bodies are:
- well equipped to consume fats and proteins
- poorly equipped to consume carbs.
In GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN, Scientists concluded from their research that our ancestors' calories broke down as 22 to 40% from unprocessed carbs, 19 to 35% from proteins, and 28 to 58% from fats. Also, "their diet contained virtually no grains."
Unless you are an active athlete, you may already know that getting 40% of your calories from carbs will make you fatter. If you want to lose body fat, that percentage should at least be cut in half.
Based on this understanding of your ancestors' natural low-carb diet, let's think through the best macronutrient percentages for you.
Of First Importance
- As explained in the article [see "Weight Loss Program"], the total calories from our diets may be broken down into a certain combination of carbs, proteins, and fats.
- For example, a 15/35/50 diet means that 15% of its calories come from carbs, 35% come from proteins, and 50% come from fats.
- Our English word 'protein' comes from the Greek word 'proteins', which means 'primary.' Indeed, proteins are of primary importance. This is of particular importance if, as we recommend on this website, you regularly engage in strength training.
- Our muscles, organs, and other tissues are made from proteins. Our bodies synthesize proteins from amino acids, which are absorbed from the digested proteins that we eat.
- Proteins in our bodies are always in flux. They are unstable. There's a constant turnover: the amino acids in cells must be replaced daily by recently digested amino acids from foods. So it's critical to eat sufficient protein every day. Since it can be used for energy, eating a bit more protein than is needed for repair is not a problem for a healthy person.
- Muscle cells use much more energy than fat cells. If they must, our bodies can cannibalize energy from lean muscle tissue to produce glucose (blood sugar). This, though, should be avoided because it decreases lean muscle mass, which weakens us and decreases the amount of energy utilized by our muscles. In other words, it's best not to use proteins for energy.
- Glucose is a simple sugar that is an important energy source for our bodies. All sugar and starch carbs are made of glucose. When we ingest carbs, we digest them back to glucose.
- Glucose is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen, but any excess is stored as fat. Glycogen, which is a carbohydrate, is readily broken down into glucose that can be used as energy, but, as you may have noticed, it's more difficult to use fat as energy.)
- Why not eat a diet that is 100% protein (or, at least, a diet that is protein-rich and very low in both carbs and fats)? If you did, you'd become sick in a few days and very sick in a week or two.
- Though our bodies can use protein as an energy source in an emergency, this is wasteful and very hard on the liver and kidneys. All carbs and fats are made up of just three elements, namely, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. In addition to those three elements, however, proteins also contain nitrogen and other elements; so they don't metabolize as cleanly as either carbs or fats.
- Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required for protein metabolism. A diet that is too high in proteins quickly depletes stored vitamin A and this causes serious health problems.
- The reason ancient and modern hunter-gatherers always avoid a protein-rich, low-fat diet is simple: it's impossible to survive on one. Similarly, a protein-rich, low-fat, and low-carb diet would be suicidal.
- Therefore, it's important to consume a balanced intake of proteins. We need proteins but we also want to avoid too high a percentage of calories from proteins in our diets.
- Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. We need 20 different kinds of them, but our bodies can produce all except 8, which we need to obtain from our diets.
- Furthermore, it's best if those 8 are in the correct proportions (as they are in egg whites). It's best, then, to consume "complete" proteins, which come from foods that supply all 8 essential amino acids. (Such foods include meat and internal organs, fish, eggs, and dairy products.)
- Furthermore, it's best to spread protein consumption throughout the day. To prevent muscle tissue from becoming used for energy, it's necessary to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. Consuming sufficient, high-quality protein relatively frequently (as we recommend) throughout the day will ensure that you maintain your lean muscle mass.
- We seem to have evolved to eat about one-third of our calories from proteins. That is certainly sufficient. If you are healthy and doing regular strength training, we recommend that you get about one-third of your calories from proteins (and not over 40%).
- This raises the critical question: assuming that you are getting about one-third of your calories from proteins, where should you get the other two-thirds of your calories from? Should they come only from carbs, only from fats, or from some mixture of carbs and fats? If a mixture, what's the best ratio?
The best answer for your future comes from your past: your ancestors had a low carbohydrate diet.
Ready to learn how to lose weight on a low-carb diet?
To learn more about low-carb diets, low-carb foods, low-carb recipes, and how to start your diet, go to our web page: