I want to start this by saying that I truly love the keto diet. I am a die hard fan and a 15 year veteran with no intention of stopping. I just want to be intellectually honest and play devils advocate.
With that said, we have a problem in the community that makes it rival veganism for its bias and echo chamber like madness.
I am only now realizing this because I was stuck in it hard for over a decade. I had it in my mind that carbs where the devil and insulin was a dangerous drug. It took me doing something crazy to try and prove carbs were the devil to see that I was very wrong and so is the majority of the low carb community. We are too stuck in the echo chamber and it is a detriment to furthering the health of the world.
Again, I am not saying low carb is not the better diet. I am not even saying that low fat is good. I am saying that it isn’t that cut and dry.
Today I am only going to address the reversal of diabetes/insulin resistance. I am not going to address any other issues. Inflammation, overall health, nothing. Just one thing. Reversal of diabetes. The normalizing of glucose control.
The title picture says alot.
Here we have two doctors with opposite advice but both have clinical proof of their reversal of diabetes. We as a low carb community praise one and denounce the other as a quack. Neither one of them are specialists in the field of bariatrics or endocrinology yet people look to them as experts. McDougall is an internist (general physician) with no specialization. Fung is a nephrologist (kidney specialist) with no training in nutrition or endocrinology. Why do we see one as a genius yet the other as a quack?
This is what bias is. We like what one says and we don’t like what the other says. The truth is, they both have results. They both have tons of case studies showing reversal of diabetes with their approaches. The truth is, they are both right in some ways and very wrong in others. We just choose who we think is right based on our preference.
McDougall claims that fat causes insulin resistance and he quotes studies that seem to show this to be true.
Fung claims insulin itself causes insulin resistance and also quotes studies.
Who is right? Well they are both right in some ways and wrong in others. Neither is seeing the whole picture.
McDougall is right that fat does seem to cause insulin resistance. When someone eats a high fat diet, especially with low carb they do become insulin resistant. Absolute fact. He is not lying. The error is that this is not a pathological state. It is a protective measure. The reason we become insulin resistant is so the body will not be trying to use glucose for fuel in tissues that don’t need it and when it is not being supplied at a high rate. If we didn’t become insulin resistant we would run through glucose like crazy and the body would be constantly catabolizing lean tissue to make that glucose. We would waste away and die. So McDougall is right and he is wrong. He is just highlighting what he wants you to see so that he appears to have the truth.
Fung is right in that too much insulin can result in insulin resistance. It is far from accepted in any medical circle that it is caused by exposure to insulin alone. If it was then everyone who eats a high carb diet would have insulin resistance. There are billions of people that eat a high carb diet that are not insulin resistant. There are people eating nearly 95% of their diet as carbs that are not obese, they are not insulin resistant and they will not be. The way it causes insulin resistance is not fully understood but the theory I see the most evidence of is that it is caused by the person fat threshold of the individual. This is why we see some people become insulin resistant at low bodyfat (asians) and some people can become very obese and still not be insulin resistant (caucasians). So Fung is partially right and partially wrong. He does the same thing as McDougall and only shows you the parts that make his theory sound the best.
What was it that lead me to this? Why am I questioning the almighty Gods of the keto community? Or the high carb community for that matter.
The biggest issue of all here is that both sides are comparing to the infamous strawman.
A strawman is a fake opponent. The low fat side compares their ideal diet to the SAD diet (high carb and high fat) and call anything on the other side of that bad. They never look at a true low carb/keto diet.
The low fat side also compare to the same strawman. They look at a SAD diet and say anything on the other side of that bad. Low carb tends to be a little bit more open minded and will admit that low fat whole foods diets are probably better than SAD but they still can’t admit that low fat can see benefit.
I decided last year that I was going to prove once and for all that eating a very high carb diet in and of itself would cause you to get fat.
What I found by doing this changed my perspective 100%. Not only did I not have trouble with insulin resistance or glucose control but I lost weight. It was not all positive. There were downsides:
- Healing seemed to be slower
- I spent half my day in the crapper
- I felt gross and bloated half the time
This was probably my most important experiment because it pushed me outside of the echo chamber and forced me to research the other side and see how this was possible. Only when you see the other perspective can you truly get down to the root of things.
I am not the only person to see this. Check out this blog from Denise Minger. She refers to a wonderland at each end of the spectrum and in the middle is swampland. She refers to low carb high fat as carbosis which I think is pretty accurate.
I think she took alot of flack for this because she never wrote a part 2. I am not scared of the flack. I ain’t afraid of people getting hurt feelings because I threaten the echo chamber. We need to look outside the chamber to get to the truth.
Again, I want to reiterate that I love low carb. I truly think it is the natural way to live. I just want to be clear that it is not the only way to do things and we need to beware of putting people on pedestals just because they agree with our bias.
We really have to look for evidence to the contrary of our bias to see if our theory pans out. This is referred to as the black swan principle in science.
If you see only white swans and you propose a theory that all swans are white then you see a black one. You must admit that your theory is wrong. You can’t just deny that the black swan is not a swan because it is black and all swans are white. You see the issue here?
McDougall – Fat causes insulin resistance and only a high carb low fat diet can be the solution to diabetes and disease.
Millions of people eat very high fat diets and reverse their diabetes. There is your black swan.
Fung – Insulin causes insulin resistance so the only solution is to reduce the amount of insulin secretion we are getting to reverse diabetes and disease.
Billions of people eat very high carb diets and eat multiple times a day and are completely healthy and have no insulin resistance. There is your swan.
Don’t miss the black swans because all you want to see are white ones.