"Safe Starch" Controversy

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"Safe Starch" Controversy


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Old 10-13-2011, 03:46   #1
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Default "Safe Starch" Controversy

Has anyone been following the whole "safe starch" controversy that's been rippling through the low-carb and paleo blogs lately? Jimmy Moore has 2 great blog posts that really bring together everyone's responses in a single place. In this context, "safe starch" = starch sources that do not have toxic properties (like gluten) and does not mean low GI.

Is There Any Such Thing As ‘Safe Starches’ On A Low-Carb Diet? « Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low Carb Blog is a collection of responses from many low-carb/paleo experts to Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet's recommendation to get 100+g of "safe starch" carbohydrates a day. Note that he doesn't recommend that for diabetics or for people with metabolic disorders.

Paul Jaminet’s Response To The Critics Of His ‘Safe Starches’ Concept « Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low Carb Blog is Dr Jaminet's response to everyone's thoughts on his recommendations. He is incredibly detailed, respectful and thorough!

Personally, I am a bit confused. I had thought that gluconeogenesis generates however much glucose your body needs (given enough protein) but he calls that into question.

He also suggests that if someone's weight loss has been stalled on low-carb, upping carbs may jump start the weight loss again. I have been stalled for 3 months and it's certainly tempting to believe that adding back some carbs would help me start losing again. Jimmy Moore is going to try adding "safe starches" supervised by Jaminet himself; I will be following that very closely!

I am very interested in hearing your opinions and reactions.

p.s. Salim, consider this post your "Bat Signal", I am eager to know what you think!

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Old 10-13-2011, 06:39   #2
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I found this section in the comments very interesting (be sure to get the "self-fulfilling" part):

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i.e. Paul Jaminet’s blog post ‘Can there be a carbohydrate deficiency?’ i.e. Is there a need for carbs?;

Paul Jaminet answers his question affirmatively by stating, “The brain is the biggest determinant of glucose needs. While other primates need only about 7% of energy as glucose or ketones, humans need about 20%. Compared to other primates, humans have a 12% smaller liver. This means we can’t manufacture as much glucose from protein as animals can. Humans also have a 40% smaller gut. This means we can’t manufacture many short-chain fatty acids, which supply ketones or glucogenic substrates, from plant fiber. So, while animals can meet their tiny glucose needs (5% of calories) in their big livers, humans may not be able to meet our big glucose needs (20-30% of calories) from our small livers. So any carbohydrate deficiency disease will strike humans only, not animals.”

I must disagree with Paul conceptually and factually. The brain needing 20% glucose is only under conditions of insufficient adaptation to burning ketones. Basic metabolic textbooks talk about adaptation to carbohydrate “starvation” when the brain starts deriving the vast majority of its energy needs from ketones derived from fat metabolism. After several weeks of adaptation the brain can derive at least 80% of its energy needs from ketones. After a longer period of time it can derive more. Regardless, the remainder of the brain’s energy needs can be met from gluconeogenesis using glycerol derived from the breakdown of triglycerides as substrate such that gluconeogenesis derived from amino acids is minimal to nonexistent, sparing lean mass. In fact, my patients who strictly adhered to my very low carbohydrate dietary recommendations generally increased lean mass without increasing exercise.

The size of the human liver has little to nothing to do with its metabolic abilities. Rather, it’s adaptation to available nutrients and even more importantly its control by, and indeed its sensitivity to metabolic hormones such as insulin and leptin are much more important to its function. Eating 100 g of glucose forming carbohydrates daily is enough to sufficiently raise insulin to shut down ketone production by the liver resulting in the necessity to use glucose as fuel by the brain. As such, what Jaminet is recommending is a self-fulfilling prophecy; requiring the consumption of glucose forming carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice increases blood glucose and insulin enough to greatly reduce ketone production, necessitating the use of glucose by the brain. This is not good. I have talked decades about the change in brain function when it converts from glucose to primarily ketone use; it becomes much healthier. Studies are now pouring in on the connection between glucose and chronic brain diseases. Jaminet rightly mentions the benefit of increasing ketone use in epilepsy. Epilepsy is an extreme of an over excitable brain. Is it possible that a brain primarily burning ketones as its primary fuel may function better all of the time? I believe strongly that the answer to this is yes.

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Old 10-13-2011, 15:11   #3
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That's another part of this theory that I don't agree with. I believe that ketosis can be a healthy state, especially for people with various metabolic disorders or types of epilepsy. I don't see how one can stay in ketosis eating 100g of carbs a day even if they are adding in MCTs like coconut oil which can be converted to ketones in the absence of ketosis.

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Old 10-13-2011, 15:11   #4
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My liver appears to have a certain expertise at producing glucose, personally ... :-P

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Old 10-13-2011, 15:14   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxl View Post
My liver appears to have a certain expertise at producing glucose, personally ... :-P
Foxl, your liver is going to earn the "Best Gluconator" award at the end of the year. I'm constantly surprised at how good it is at creating something from apparently nothing! Maybe once it has a pretty trophy on its shelf it can stop trying to hard to get attention.

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Old 10-13-2011, 16:29   #6
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I was trying to figure today as to how both Protein and Carbs are listed as 4 calories per gram -- with fat at 9 calories per gram?

Carbs I can understand as they are ultimately converted to the simplest sugars (chiefly Glucose) or Triglycerides (Fatty Acids + Glycerol) but do we get energy from Amino Acids (Protein Building blocks) other than by Gluconeogenesis converting then to Glucose?

I'll have to go do some reading I guess.

Inquiring minds... and all that

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Old 10-13-2011, 16:40   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fgummett View Post
I was trying to figure today as to how both Protein and Carbs are listed as 4 calories per gram -- with fat at 9 calories per gram?

Carbs I can understand as they are ultimately converted to the simplest sugars (chiefly Glucose) or Triglycerides (Fatty Acids + Glycerol) but do we get energy from Amino Acids (Protein Building blocks) other than by Gluconeogenesis converting then to Glucose?

I'll have to go do some reading I guess.

Inquiring minds... and all that
That's a great question! I had never asked myself this before. After some googling, I think I have the layman's answer.

Normally, your body breaks down protein into amino acids. These can be used to either rebuild muscle, organs, etc or if there is an excess of dietary protein, can be converted to glycogen and stored for later use in the liver and muscles.

Gluconeogenesis is an expensive process that converts protein into new glucose (as opposed to glucose created from glycogen). Your body only does this if it isn't getting enough dietary carbohydrates.

That's just my poor attempt at biochem. If any smarties out there have a more educated answer, I'm all ears!

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Old 10-13-2011, 18:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daytona View Post
That's another part of this theory that I don't agree with. I believe that ketosis can be a healthy state, especially for people with various metabolic disorders or types of epilepsy. I don't see how one can stay in ketosis eating 100g of carbs a day even if they are adding in MCTs like coconut oil which can be converted to ketones in the absence of ketosis.
100 g per day is a "boundary" and that's what the author of the quote intended. Ketosis is generally impossible above 100g of carbs per day as an absolute quantity no matter what else you eat. That doesn't mean it's guaranteed if you eat 99g! But it is possible and I've done it (you have to eat between 3000 and 4000 calories to do it, though).

Basically, ketosis is generally impossible with a ketogenic ratio of less than 1.0 OR absolute carbs over 100g per day. Start adjusting each of those within range and you're in YMMV territory.

I once maintained ketosis while eating 90 - 99g of carbs on many days. But at that time I was eating a LOT of food and my KR was always over 1.5. I don't know why I liked eating a lot back then but not any more. Now I eat a lot less and pretty much maintain a KR of about 1.7. My carbs are generally around 30, maybe as high as 50 some days but ketosis is firm and I don't "slip out" any more.

Just another example of how just focusing on "grams of carbs" is not enough for good understanding.

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