Updated: Mar 21, 2018
The evidence that the staple Western diet consisting of starches and sugars has produced the epidemic of obesity and diabetes is now incontrovertible although deniers and red herrings still abound, no doubt motivated by a $5 trillion a year food industry status quo. However, if you want to cut out carbohydrates what are you going to eat instead? Foods that are high in fat, protein or fiber? Here I present the advantages of a low carb high fiber guiding principle for food choices.
Macro-nutrient Calories per gram
MACRO-NUTRIENTS: NOW THERE ARE Four
Most people are familiar with 3 macro-nutrients, Fat, Protein & Carbohydrates. The 4th macro-nutrient is fiber, the most widespread and globally important macro-nutrient on the planet. Fiber sustains virtually all plant eating animals from earthworms to elephants, although only a symbiotic relationship with their gut microbiota creates the thousands of nutrients available for absorption as only certain micro-organisms have the enzymes to break down fiber. Humans are hind gut fermenters, like earlier human ancestors, apes and chimps, hind gut fermentation has always been an important source of vitamins and nutrients for human hunter gatherers.
“LC Hi Fi” guiding principle allows relatively unrestricted consumption of selected foods to produce satiation and satiety while reducing the risk of age related (non-communicable) diseases, including the big killers such as cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, metabolic disturbances, degenerative nervous system diseases and cancers.
Low carbohydrate diets have numerous health benefits and there are numerous studies confirming the biological mechanisms behind these benefits. Starches and sugars produce repetitive postprandial high glucose and insulin levels that have numerous downstream negative consequences.
Whereas death risk from all causes as well as cardio-vascular diseases are increased with high glycemic carbohydrates, high fibre is associated with improved outcomes. The biological mechanisms of health improvement with fibre involve the microbiome and the metabolic bi-products of the microbiome, the so called metabiotics. Excessive protein intake has also been associated with adverse health effects. Dietary fat seems to have a neutral effect and even saturated fat has no increased risk of all-cause mortality or heart disease. However, high fat meals do cause a transient increase gut bacteria derived inflammation. The best recommendation as far as macro-nutrients are concerned is low carbohydrate, moderate protein and significant fibre, whereas fat by default, because of the low energy density of high fibre foods, often becomes the primary source of calories.