Insulin…an Undeserved Bad Reputation

I feel sorry for insulin.  Insulin has been bullied and beaten up.  It has been cast as an evil hormone that should be shunned.  However, insulin doesn't deserve the treatment it has received.

Insulin: A Primer

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the levels of sugar in your blood.  When you eat a meal, the carbohydrate in the meal is broken down into glucose (a sugar used as energy by your cells).  The glucose enters your blood.  Your pancreas senses the rising glucose and releases insulin.  Insulin allows the glucose to enter your liver, muscle, and fat cells.  Once your blood glucose starts to come back down, insulin levels come back down too.  This cycle happens throughout the day.  You eat a meal, glucose goes up, insulin goes up, glucose goes down, and insulin goes down.  Insulin levels are typically lowest in the early morning since it's usually been at least 8 hours after your last meal.

Insulin doesn't just regulate blood sugar.  It has other effects as well.  For example, it stimulates your muscles to build new protein (a process called protein synthesis).  It also inhibits lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and stimulates lipogenesis (the creation of fat).

It is the latter effect by which insulin has gotten its bad reputation.  Because carbohydrate stimulates your body to release insulin, it has caused some people to argue that a diet high in carbohydrate will cause you to gain fat.  Their reasoning, in a nutshell, goes like this:

High Carbohydrate Diet -> High Insulin -> Increased Lipogenesis/Decreased Lipolysis -> Increased Body Fat -> Obesity

Using this same logic, they argue that a low carbohydrate diet is best for fat loss, because insulin levels are kept low.  Their logic chain goes something like this:

Low Carbohydrate Diet -> Low Insulin -> Decreased Lipogenesis/Increased Lipolysis -> Decreased Body Fat

However, this logic is based on many myths.  Let's look at many of the myths surrounding insulin.

MYTH:A High Carbohydrate Diet Leads to Chronically High Insulin Levels

FACT:Insulin Is Only Elevated During the Time After a Meal In Healthy Individuals

One misconception regarding a high carbohydrate intake is that it will lead to chronically high insulin levels, meaning you will gain fat because lipogenesis will constantly exceed lipolysis (remember that fat gain can only occur if the rate of lipogenesis exceeds the rate of lipolysis).  However, in healthy people, insulin only goes up in response to meals.  This means that lipogenesis will only exceed lipolysis during the hours after a meal (known as the postprandial period).  During times when you are fasting (such as extended times between meals, or when you are asleep), lipolysis will exceed lipogenesis (meaning you are burning fat).  Over a 24-hour period, it will all balance out (assuming your are not consuming more calories than you are expending), meaning you do not gain weight.  Here's a graph showing how this works:

After meals, fat is deposited with the help of insulin. However, between meals and during sleep, fat is lost. Fat balance will be zero over a 24-hour period if energy intake matches energy expenditure.

This is just a rough chart that I made, but the green area represents the lipogenesis occuring in response to a meal.  The blue area represents lipolysis occuring in response to fasting between meals and during sleep.  Over a 24-hour period, these will be balanced assuming you are not consuming more calories than you expend.  This is true even if carbohydrate intake is high.  In fact, there are populations that consume high carbohydrate diets and do not have high obesity rates, such as the traditional diet of the Okinawans.  Also, if energy intake is lower than energy expenditure, a high carbohydrate diet will result in weight loss just as any other diet.

MYTH:  Carbohydrate Drives Insulin, Which Drives Fat Storage

FACT:  Your Body Can Synthesize and Store Fat Even When Insulin Is Low

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding insulin is that it's needed for fat storage.  It isn't.  Your body has ways to store and retain fat even when insulin is low.  For example, there is an enzyme in your fat cells called hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).  HSL helps break down fat.  Insulin suppresses the activity of HSL, and thus suppresses the breakdown of fat.  This has caused people to point fingers at carbohydrate for causing fat gain.

However, fat will also suppress HSL even when insulin levels are low.  This means you will be unable to lose fat even when carbohydrate intake is low, if you are overeating on calories.  If you ate no carbohydrate but 5,000 calories of fat, you would still be unable to lose fat even though insulin would not be elevated.  This would be because the high fat intake would suppress HSL.  This also means that, if you're on a low carbohydrate diet, you still need to eat less calories than you expend to lose weight.

Now, some people might say, "Just try and consume 5000 calories of olive oil and see how far you get."  Well, 5000 calories of olive oil isn't very palatable so of course I won't get very far.  I wouldn't get very far consuming 5,000 calories of pure table sugar either.

MYTH:  Insulin Makes You Hungry

FACT:  Insulin Suppresses Appetite

It is a well known fact that insulin acutely suppresses appetite.  This has been demonstrated in dozens and dozens of experiments.  This will be important when we talk about the next misconception...

MYTH:  Carbohydrate Is Singularly Responsible for Driving Insulin

FACT:  Protein Is a Potent Stimulator of Insulin Too

This is probably the biggest misconception that is out there.  Carbohydrates get a bad rap because of their effect on insulin, but protein stimulates insulin secretion as well.  In fact, it can be just as potent of a stimulus for insulin as carbohydrate.  One recent study compared the effects of two different meals on insulin.  One meal contained 21 grams of protein and 125 grams of carbohydrate.  The other meal contained 75 grams of protein and 75 grams of carbohydrate.  Both meals contained 675 calories.  Here is a chart of the insulin response:

Comparison of insulin response between low protein, high carb meal and high protein, low carb meal

Now here's a chart of the blood sugar response:

Comparison of blood sugar response to low protein, high carb meal and high protein, low carb meal

Comparison of blood sugar response to low protein, high carb meal and high protein, low carb meal

You can see that, despite the fact that the blood sugar response was much higher in the meal with more carbohydrate, the insulin response wasn't higher.  In fact, the insulin response was somewhat higher after the high protein meal, although this wasn't statistically significant.

Some people might argue that the "low-carb" condition wasn't really low carb because it had 75 grams of carbohydrate.  But that's not the point.  The point is that the high-carb condition had nearly TWICE as much carbohydrate, along with a HIGHER glucose response, yet insulin secretion was slightly LOWER.  The protein was just as powerful at stimulating insulin as the carbohydrate.

I can also hear arguments coming like, "Yeah, but the insulin response is longer and more drawn out with protein."  That wasn't true in this study either.

Insulin response to high protein and high carb meals

You can see in the chart that there was a trend for insulin to peak faster with the high protein condition, with a mean response of 45 uU/mL at 20 minutes after the meal, versus around 30 uU/mL in the high carb condition.

This tendency for a higher insulin response was associated with a tendency towards more appetite suppression.  The subjects had a tendency towards less hunger and more fullness after the high protein meal:

Comparison of low protein, high carb and high protein, low carb meals and their effects on hunger and fullness

Here's the results of another study that compared the effects of 4 different types of protein on the insulin response to a meal.   This study was interesting because they made milkshakes out of the different proteins (tuna shakes????  YUCK!!!!!  Of course some people may remember the tuna shake recipes from the days).  The shakes contained only 11 grams of carbohydrate, and 51 grams of protein.  Here's the insulin response to the different shakes:

Insulin Response to 4 Different Proteins

You can see that all of these proteins produced an insulin response, despite the fact that the carbohydrate in the shake was low.  There was also different insulin responses between the proteins, with whey producing the highest insulin response.

Now, some might argue that the response is due to gluconeogenesis (a process by which your liver converts protein to glucose).  The thought is that the protein will be converted to glucose, which will then raise insulin levels.  As I mentioned earlier, people will claim that this will result in a much slower, more drawn-out insulin response, since it takes time for your liver to turn protein into glucose.  However, that's not the case, because the insulin response was rapid, peaking within 30 minutes and coming back down quickly at 60 minutes:

Insulin response to different types of protein

This rapid insulin response was not due to changes in blood glucose.  In fact, whey protein, which caused the greatest insulin response, caused a drop in blood glucose:

Glucose response to different types of protein

The insulin response was associated with appetite suppression.  In fact, the whey protein, which had the highest insulin response, caused the greatest suppression of appetite.  Here's a chart showing the calorie intake of the subjects when they ate lunch 4 hours after drinking the shake:

Calorie intake at a lunch consumed 4 hours after consuming various protein

The subjects ate nearly 150 calories less at lunch when they had whey protein, which also caused the greatest insulin response.  In fact, there was an extremely strong inverse correlation between insulin and food intake (a correlation of -0.93).

Here's data from another study that looked at the insulin response to a meal that contained 485 calories, 102 grams of protein, 18 grams of carbohydrate, and almost no fat:

Insulin response to a high protein, low carb meal in lean and obese people

You can see that the insulin response was exaggerated in the obese subjects, probably due to insulin resistance.  Here's a chart of the blood glucose response.  You can see there was no relationship between the glucose response and insulin, which was similar to the study discussed earlier.

Blood glucose response in response to a high protein, low carb meal in lean and obese

The fact is that protein is a potent stimulator of insulin secretion, and this insulin secretion is not related to changes in blood sugar or gluconeogenesis from the protein.  In fact, one study found beef to stimulate just as much insulin secretion as brown rice.  The blood sugar response of 38 different foods could only explain 23% of the variability in insulin secretion in this study.  Thus, there's a lot more that's behind insulin secretion than just carbohydrate.

So how can protein cause rapid rises in insulin, as shown in the whey protein study earlier?  Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can directly stimulate your pancreas to produce insulin, without having to be converted to glucose first.  For example, the amino acid leucine directly stimulates pancreas cells to produce insulin, and there's a direct dose-response relationship (i.e., the more leucine, the more insulin is produced).

Some might say, "Well, sure, protein causes insulin secretion, but this won't suppress fat-burning because it also causes glucagon secretion, which counteracts insulin's effects."  I mentioned earlier how insulin will suppress lipolysis.  Well, some people think that glucagon increases lipolysis to cancel this out.

The thought that glucagon increases lipolysis is based on 3 things:  the fact that human fat tissue has glucagon receptors, the fact that glucagon increases lipolysis in animals, and the fact that glucagon has been shown to increase lipolysis in human fat cells in vitro (in a cell culture).  However, what happens in vitro isn't necessarily what happens in vivo (in your body).  We have a case here where newer data has overturned old thinking.  Research using modern techniques has shown that glucagon does not increase lipolysis in humans.  Other research using the same techniques has shown similar results.  I will also note that this research failed to find any lipolytic effect in vitro.

It should be remembered why glucagon is released in response to protein in the first place.  Since protein stimulates insulin secretion, it would cause a rapid drop in blood glucose if no carbohydrate is consumed with the protein.   Glucagon prevents this rapid drop in blood sugar by stimulating the liver to produce glucose.

Insulin:  Not Such a Villain After All

The fact is that insulin is not this terrible, fat-producing hormone that must be kept as low as possible.  It is an important hormone for appetite and blood sugar regulation.  In fact, if you truly wanted to keep insulin as low as possible, then you wouldn't eat a high protein would eat a low protein, low carbohydrate, high fat diet.  However, I don't see anybody recommending that.

I'm sure some are having some cognitive dissonance reading this article right now.  I know because I experienced the same disbelief years ago when I first discovered this paper and how protein caused large insulin responses.  At the time, I had the same belief that others have...that insulin had to be kept under control and as low as possible, and that spikes in insulin were a bad thing.  I had difficulty reconciling that study and my beliefs regarding insulin.  However, as time went on, and as I read more research, I learned that my beliefs regarding insulin were simply wrong.

Now, you may be wondering why refined carbohydrates can be a problem.  Many people think it's due to the rapid spikes in insulin.  However, it's obviously not the insulin, because protein can cause rapid spikes in insulin as well.  One problem with refined carbohydrate is a problem of energy density.  With refined carbohydrate, it is easier to pack a lot of calories into a small package.  Not only that, but foods with high energy density are often not as satiating as foods with low energy density.  In fact, when it comes to high-carbohydrate foods, energy density is a strong predictor of a food's ability to create satiety (i.e., low-energy density foods create more satiety).  There are other issues with refined carbohydrate as well that are beyond the scope of this article.

The bottom line is that insulin doesn't deserve the bad reputation it's been given.  It's one of the main reasons why protein helps reduce hunger.  You will get insulin spikes even on a low-carb, high-protein diet.  Rather than worrying about insulin, you should worry about whatever diet works the best for you in regards to satiety and sustainability.  As mentioned in a previous article, individual responses to particular diets are highly variable and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another.  I will be writing a post in the future on the need for individualized approaches to nutrition.

Click here to read part 2 of this series on insulin.

459 Responses to “Insulin…an Undeserved Bad Reputation

  • Interesting. For me eating 1200 cal spaced evenly through the day results in very little weight loss and a lot of hunger. On the other hand, something that has always worked for me is paying attention to meal timing. Leaving space in-between meals with NO’ snacks (irregardless of meal composition). One of your charts seems to explain why this works. Still, if I eat a lower carb meal with NO snacks, the weight loss is faster. Maybe grazing is the biggest problem.

    • rezzrovv
      8 years ago

      I hate to do it, really I do but irregardless is not a word.

      • Engy Gerges
        8 years ago

        I’m doing this reply to appreciateeeeeeeeeeeeee verrrrrrrry verrrrrrry much your great effort ..

        thats amaziiiiiiiiiiingly helpful and clear the mind very much .. i had a bunch of conffussion about the higher amounts of protien & amino acids but that cleared it alllllllllllllll and made all my info. making sence ..


        🙂 🙂

  • As it turns I’ve been taking you up on your challenge of eating 5000 calories of mostly fat with some protein. I’ve lost 15 lbs in a month and dropped two inches from belt.

    You are correct that there are healthy cultures that consume carbohydrates, but they are generally consuming carbohydrates in their starchy forms not highly processed forms.

    Furthermore, you did not address the multitude of diet studies that show that overfeeding (up to 7000 calories a day) for months on resulted in a range of 1 – 10 lbs of weight gain. With regards to insulin suppressing appetite, I don’t have access to the study, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case with HEALTHY individuals. Insulin resistant individuals would obviously be resistant to the appetite suppression effects.

    Another observation– 75 grams of carbs is not a low carb meal. That’s my total carb consumption in a day. Someone having that as a single meal is in the range for 225 g of carbs a day. Try eating zero carb and supplementing with 225 g of sucrose a day and see what happens. I bet you’ll put on fat and start developing symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

    As a powerlifter, I’m well aware of the insulinogenic properties of whey protein and branch chain amino acids. I purposely supplement with pure glucose and BCAA on weight training day to aid in post workout recovery. On workout days I consume gargantuan amounts of protein and lean meat and as little fat as possible.

    To summarize, while I don’t agree with the premise– insulin is not evil, I do not agree with the spirit of your post. The data you point out above is merely indicative that the human body can adopt to a variety of diets based on whole foods.

    To top it all off, you cherry picked the portions of your study to interpret them to match your view points. Take a look at the study you cited for beef ( being as insulinogenic as brown rice (not even counting the fact that brown rice is not nearly as insulinogenic as white rice).

    However, protein-rich foods and bakery products (rich in fat and refined carbohydrate) elicited insulin responses that were disproportionately higher than their glycemic responses.

    Insulin spikes with protein to drive nutrients to muscles. That makes sense. Drinking fat and highly insulinogenic protein (such as whey) will depress your glucose levels as insulin signals multiple things at the same time. Thus while insulin plays a critical role in healthy people in modulating anabolism, when you’re up-regulating anabolism and consuming lots of fat, you’re going to store fat. Throw in some insulin resistance that reduces the appetite suppressant effect and you’ll be even worse off.

    For people who have been eating industrialized crap the entire lives, the damage to their metabolism might be so great that caloric restriction alone will not be an effective way of restoring insulin sensitivity. One of the most effective way to restoring insulin sensitivity is to go low carb. Not only that your lipid and metabolic panels will improve.

    • Matthew – all I can say – is AMEN!

    • Heid P.
      8 years ago

      Thank you Matthew. 75 grams!

      That chart showing insulin swings creeps me out – I used to be on that roller coaster, and it was hell.

    • Steve Thresher
      8 years ago

      Great comments! I recently switched from low-fat to low-carb and I’m seeing faster fat loss while still being able to increase strength. Cholesterol levels have improved as well which was my initial concern.

    • Anand Srivastava
      8 years ago

      The only problem I saw in the article, was when James compare carb with protein. Protein and Carbs are not comparable. Protein is a building material and should not be used for energy. Fat is the energy source comparable to carbs. If that comparison was done, of course one would spike insulin and the other won’t.

      Comparing high carb diets with a high protein diet is a bogus study. Protein will give energy only by converting into glucose. So what’s the benefit.

      But yes carbs have its uses. They are not as good a fuel source as fat, but they are not bad, if there is no metabolic syndrome. The real misconception is that glucose causes metabolic syndrome. They don’t. It is the proteins which come along in the bad carb sources that do most of the damage. Or it can be non-glucose so called carbs, that may cause damage. It can also be the poly unsaturate fats that cause damage.

      The really safe fuels are only glucose and saturated or Mono-unsaturated fats. That is the bottom line.

      • Anand,

        There is no rule that protein “should not used for energy.” Why shouldn’t it be used for energy?

        Fat is also not a comparable energy source to carbs. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, while carbs contain 4 calories per gram. Thus, fat is much more energy dense.

        And where is your evidence that carbs are not as good of a fuel source as fat? Why do you think glycogen and glucose the preferred energy source for your body for high intensity exercise? And where is your evidence that proteins that come with “bad” carb sources (whatever a “bad” carb source might be) that do the most damage?

        You have made a number of assertions without any evidence to support those assertions.

    • Enjoyed your article, but I feel like you missed the mark a bit in proving that insulin responses due to protein intakes are not in fact due largely in part to gluconeogenesis, and I’ll quickly use your charts to explain why. We see that egg and whey protein meals caused the sharpest insulin response. These are also the two fastest to break down, thus causing a more dramatic spike of blood aminos, which requires an immediate response to regulate homeostatic conditions. Now also, given that we see a normal lowering of insulin across all meals regardless of type, it is obvious to conclude that the dramatic insulin spike is due to dramatically varying metabolism and breakdown times for the foods studied. Having said that, it is quite likely that gluconeogenesis IS causing much of the insulin response we are seeing, over time and int he case of egg and whey, almost immediately. Evidencing this further is that we see the overall insulin secretions are greater for whey protein, indicating that this quick rise in blood aminos is using the glucogenis pathway (also keeping in mind that whey has a lot of glucogenis amino acids in it ) Great article though, and I don’t think the fact that gluconeogenesis does in fact play a big role in protein metabolism and insulin responses in the body disproves anything you’ve said. (other than the obvious) would love to hear your counter to that though. I always love a nutrition science debate 🙂
      Stephen Baker

  • Jordan Jo
    9 years ago

    “In fact, if you truly wanted to keep insulin as low as possible, then you wouldn’t eat a high protein diet…you would eat a low protein, low carbohydrate, high fat diet. However, I don’t see anybody recommending that.”

    In fact, there are many recommending that. Also, as other have posted, this works in the reduction of adipose tissue. I am surprised that with all the research available that there is still such a high level of ‘lipidphobia’ among nutritionists.

  • jeff reagan
    8 years ago

    I found it very interesting that non carbohydrate containing foods such as eggs, beef, fish and cheese promote increased levels of blood glucose (Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 66: 1264-1276) as measured by glucose AUC at 120 minutes after ingestion. Your argument that glucagon stimulates the liver to release glucose to avoid insulin induced hypoglycemia makes sense. Is it know whether this effect is due to glycogenolysis or gluconeogenesis or both? It would be fun to have a debate between you, Gary Taubes and maybe Gerald Reaven. Thanks, Jeff

  • I’ve experimentet lots over the last 2-3 years with “diets”. I haven’t had better success with anything other than “low-carb/high fat” dieting. It made me lose 34 lbs in 90 days and get six pack abs, TONS of muscle and strength… I am now eating carbs, I’ve gained 20 lbs and my abs are gone…


    • So what’s this got to do with insulin?

      • I think the point most people are making is that you wrote an article out of spite and malice. This isn’t to help people, it’s to hurt someone, maybe Taubes, maybe someone else. All I know is that you cherry-picked your studies and EVERYONE sees it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself….

        • I think the point most people are making is that you wrote an article out of spite and malice.

          First, you have no evidence that this was written out of spite or malice. Second, even if it was, it still does not refute the information provided in the article. The motivation for writing an article is irrelevant to whether the content is factual.

          This isn’t to help people,

          I’ve had numerous people contact me personally and told me this article helped them and educated them. You really have no clue why I wrote this article, do you?

          All I know is that you cherry-picked your studies and EVERYONE sees it.

          If the studies are cherry picked, please show where they are cherry picked and how.

          You ought to be ashamed of yourself….

          I think the only shame here should apply to people who post here with unsupported rants such as yours, or people who pretend to know my motivations

  • F*cking good article! My mind is blown, will tweet and post on our facebook wall. I’ve always been pro-carb and it annoys me greatly when they are unfairly vilified as a basis for paleo and other ridiculousness.

    • Thank you, PropaneFitness. Yes, I agree with you, the whole “carb villification” movement has been quite ridiculous!

  • There are so many things that do not apply to a “damaged metabolism” here. More on my Site.

  • Hmmmm. You said that the following is a myth: “Carbohydrate Drives Insulin, Which Drives Fat Storage”, yet you did nothing whatsoever to “dispell” it. If anything, you actually agreed with it entirely. First, you agreed that carbohydrates stimulate insulin production. Second, you also agreed that insulin plays a role in lipogenisis. Now put 1+1 together… where’s the myth again???

    A few other points:

    1. You point out that other hormones have a role in regulating fat storage. Of course they do. The real question is to what extent different hormones have an impact on the regulation of fat tissue. You provided ZERO evidence that insulin either does not play a role in fat accumlation, or that its role is a limited one.

    Biology 101 says that insulin is the primary hormone involved in fat accumulation (by a country mile). No one disputes this and you have not provided any evidence contrary to this. An individual with type 1 diabetes will find it virtually impossible to accumulate fat due to inability of his or her pancreas to produce insulin. Studies show that the injection of insulin into these individuals will result in subsequent weight gain.

    2. The elevation of Insulin per se does cause you to be hungry. However, the reduction in blood sugar that occurs following (not during) an insulin spike does cause hunger. This explains why eating a high protein meal does not stimulate hunger soon after digestion (despite increasing insulin), yet a high carb meal almost certainly will. Carbohydrates spike blood sugar (which insulin subsequently knocks down), while protein does not.

    3. It is the combination of (a) high blood sugar caused by consumption of carbohydrates, and (b) high insulin levels that work together to cause fat accumulation. High protein diets do not trigger weight gain, because they do not raise your blood sugar. High levels of insulin without a source to store fat (glucose) will not result in weight gain. Therefore, a low-carb dieter need not avoid or limit protein consumption.

    4. You accurately describe the short-term link between blood glucose and insulin production, but ignore the potentially far more serious long-term link between the two. The major concern here of course is the problem of insulin resistance. Do certain high-carb diets (particularly those high in fructose) induce insulin resistance over time? As one becomes insulin-resistant, the amount of insulin in the body becomes exceedingly high and weight gain is almost a certainty unless carbohydrate consumption is severely restricted. There are many researchers (most famously Robert Ludwig) that believe our enormous consumption of sugar is the root cause of insulin resistance.

    • This guy wont reply to this post bc he knows he is wrong. Come on respond to this reply. or you know you are wrong

      • I don’t reply because if I were to reply to every single person who makes comments on my site, my entire day would be nothing but arguing with people on the internet.

        My priorities are (in no particular order):

        1. Writing articles for my paying subscribers
        2. Dealing with my clients
        3. Responding to comments of my paying subscribers
        4. My full-time day job (which is not this site)
        5. My part-time job as a securities trader
        6. My family and home responsibilities

        Responding to Mike or such individuals is far, far down on my priority list. Mike is clearly mistaken in his thoughts and assertions and, if I actually get time to respond, I will, but there are other priorities. If arguing with people on the internet is your or Mike’s priority, then more power to you.

        • James, im sure you have time. you obviously just don’t know how to reply to such a solid counter argument given here by mike.

          • Robert, that’s pretty arrogant of you to think you know my schedule and how much time I really have. Mike’s counter argument would require a lengthy detailed reply which will take more time than I currently have. If you or Mike want priority in terms of my responses, you would have to be a paying subscriber. Random people who leave comments on my site are the lowest on my priority list.

          • well, you certainly had time/will to reply this 2 coments, despita their don’t relate to any of your “priorities”, but still didn’t managed a way to answer Mike’s well observed points.

            The debate would only be beneficial to everyone who reads, but it just seems you’re not interested in it.

          • I responded because it only took me 60 seconds to type it. It would take me significantly longer to respond to Mike’s points, an hour or longer. You obviously have a very distorted concept of time, but perhaps that doesn’t surprise me since you seem to think everyone has time to engage in lengthy debates with random people on the internet.

            Perhaps this excerpt from an Anthony Colpo post applies to you?

            These individuals completely fail to realize that providers of free web content actually have no obligation to provide said content. When someone sits down to write an Internet article on diet or training, there is no moral, ethical, or legal barrier to prevent them from stopping and saying: “You know what? It’s a beautiful day – instead of writing an Internet article for a bunch of strangers, many of whom are going to piss and moan and post derogatory stuff about me in response, I’m going to turn off the computer and spend some time with my kids. Or go visit a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Or get outside and do some exercise.”

            In addition to plentiful information, these individuals, having gotten use to the instant nature of email and online chat, now believe that everyone in the world is just like them: Living unfulfilling lives, sitting day-long at their computer ready and waiting to answer any email and chat the minute it appears on their screen. Heaven forbid these people stop to consider that other folks actually have lives to live and have very limited time to answer the abundant email they receive each day.

          • Actually, my time perception is fine thank you, at least fine enough to aknowledge that from December 12th several hours have passed. Again if it would be of your interest i believe you could already replyed to it. I’m perfectly aware it’s up to you to reply to whoever and whenever you want, but come on, the point here is that refuting Mike’s arguments would greatly improve the debate.

            Don’t get me wrong, i’m not picking on you but i like to see diferent perspectives on this subject and feels like a lost oportunity to do it. This is such a merky ground that we easily found tons of people who take on tons of diferent diets/lifestyles and still acomplish their goals in health or fatloss. Theres no magic formula, so as i already said, this kind of debate would be great.

            Based on what i’ve read so far, i’m with Mike on this, but if you could prove me wrong i would apreciate it.

    • Chandni
      7 years ago

      A few things I want to say to your points:

      1) You are somewhat correct about the excess blood sugar which may lead to fat storage, but if you recall, he pointed out a 23% discrepancy. It is not as dramatic as you imply.

      What proof do you have that the high blood sugar is converted to fat? Are you a scientist? Can you prove or disprove this? Did it occur to you that it is the type of “carbs” you are eating which drives responses in the body?

      “When the body is flooded with sugary treats, it launches an insulin attack to bring down blood glucose (sugar) levels. In a hypoglycemia patient, that response is already set to overload. Throw in the added sugar prompt and the pancreas goes into hyper-drive. It’s far better to cut out processed sugars altogether and stick to a diet of complex carbohydrates. Vegetables and whole grain products release their glucose content over time, helping the foster a sustained balance. A diet of vegetables and whole grains will also support weight loss.”

      At the end of the day none of us here are researchers, doctors, or scientists, but instead of just spitting out what ever he feels (as you have done), he has provided ample documentation to support his points.

      2) His article was not focusing on all the different hormones related to fat storage, it was related to insulin specifically and the myth that protein does not cause insulin spikes. You frame point #1 on some alien premise of what the article is actually about.

      Read it again carefully and try to get the message he is conveying. I will help you: he provided graphs showing consequences on insulin from eating various foods or by obese/lean subjects.

      3) I could not find it anywhere by the way that, “blood sugar” increased weight gain. Your own beliefs are not valid, I mean your opinions. Provide some facts or sources, then talk.

      4) The body converts everything to glucose, and our brains prefer carbohydrates. This is the actually the Number 1 fuel source for the body.

      You wonder why most Americans are dying of some disease by their 40’s or 50’s and they ate a high protein diet which is at the cause of most diseases today, as noted by doctors! (see eating meat is bad for you, a simple search which will provide a wealth of information). Our bodies respond to the excess protein via damage to the kidneys, heart, etc.

      5) Since everything is converted to glucose eventually (this is a fact)…our bodies run on it, this is “our energy.” then it should occur to you that what matters the most is number of calories and the types of foods we are eating———–> Example: Okinawans live on Complex carbohydrates, fruits, tempeh or miso (ideal form of soy) and they live to 100 while here in good old USA finding a 70 year old who isn’t on 10 medications or dead is rare!

      6) There is alot that is still being learned on the subject. You should be grateful someone took the time to investigate this and disproof the myth that only carbohydrates are at the cause of insulin spikes (which before you wrote on this topic, you took the time to understand the implications of insulin spikes, as he attempted to).

      7) PS I am someone who went down 4 pant sizes eating complex carbs whether vegetables, lentils, fruits, and I love rice, grains, and occasionally ate eggs and fish.

      I am 100% proof you don’t need a high protein diet to lose weight. I did this doing minimal exercise of 4 hours of walking a week, and eating 2 meals a day, but totaling about 1150-1300 calories a day (I am 5’5 and now weight 127 lbs).. I am healthy and never hungry, and if I am hungry I eat. but I am always nourishing my body and my body thanks me for it. Just as it does the Okinawans who are mostly healthy and vibrant into their 90’s.

  • Actually, the biological process of fat accumulation through insulin from consumption of high carbohydrate diets is about as well understood as any by biologists in the field.

    The real question is whether there exists any biological processes of fat accumulation that do not involve consumption of carbohydrates at their core. That is, are there any plausible biological mechanisms by which eating too much fat and protein (but not carbs) could lead to excess fat accumulation. So far, I know of none. The lazy argument that I hear most often is that people eat too many calories, thereby causing fat gain. But there are no biological processes by which excess calories can be stored as fat. None whatsoever. A similar argument in this vein is the food reward hypothesis, which says that people have a tendency to overeat certain foods that stimulate high reward in the brain. Again, even if you accept that people will overeat certain foods they like more, there are no biological processes given by which eating too many calories will result in excess storage of fat. None, nada, zilch. There is of course, a biological process by which excess consumption of carbohydrates are stored as fat. Hmmm…

    • Mike, it’s absolutely possible to store fat when insulin is low, have you not heard of Acylation Stimulating Protein (ASP)? I suggest you start looking more into the counter-arguments against Taubes position (This site, Carbsanity.blogspot, Lyle Mcdonald and others) and lay off the smugness in your posts in the mean time as you may look back in embarrassment in years to come.

  • Ben Dover
    8 years ago

    so high fat low carb and moderate protein is bad?

    keto is bad?

    • No. High fat, low carb, moderate protein seems to work well for a large number of people regarding weight loss.

      This diet will not work for everybody though. Some find that they need to make the diet a plain one. (lessen the good taste, suddenly food doesn’t look so appetizing anymore). You do not want to ingest too much protein because it can work as a poison unless there is adequate fat in your diet to prevent protein overdose.

      I liked this analogy the best.
      Imagine eating from a stovetop that is COVERED in cookies and cakes just piled up on top of each other. Then imagine eating from a stovetop that is PILED with turkey and ham and steak. Thanksgiving is an excellent example of this. The cookies will be gone in days, the meat may have to get thrown out (or frozen).

      It is easier to eat carbs than protein. To me, that is a warning sign that it may not be the best thing to have around the house. I know this has nothing to do with the insulin side of things, but if you look at it with the theory “Listen to your body” your body is clearly saying that with meat, it is happy and has had enough. With the carbs your body is saying, “I need more, this just isn’t doing it for me.”

  • sam8571
    8 years ago

    I was a low carber for over 10yrs, from the Atkins to the Dukan diet and yes they all helped me lose weight.

    That’s 10yrs!!

    I am not stating my experience in dieting but the fact that I had to continue dieting for this amount of time and i never truly reached my goal weight for any longer than 3 months.
    I actually bounced back well over my starting weight once I hit my thirties and gave up any restrictive dieting for a short term (I hit 110kg)

    It is forums like this that let me to do my own research and trails and forget about the actual science which seems odd to say coming from me but the reality is that I am now at my goal weight and have retained a lean physique without any exercise and while eating all the foods that I missed out on a low carb diet.
    I now weigh 72kg, I’m in my 40’s and have abs all year round yet I eat several full pizzas every week as well as all the other foods I love including large packets of chips and family sized blocks of chocolate, as does all my clients.
    I get regular checkups and I am healthier now than when I was in my low twenties.

    What matters to me now is what works and not what others say or the research behind their conclusions.
    I use my diet on hundreds of clients and still maintain a 100% success rate even with thyroid issues.

    The biggest change in my diet was however due to a study on Insulin and protein which led to my reducing meal times, extending fasting and carb loading to boost metabolism and prevent cravings.

    I average 1.5% body fat loss per week even with my pre-comp clients and that’s with a minimum 3-4 full carb load days per week (loading varies from 200-600g carbs per day).
    Glycogen is of coarse monitored with intentional overspill for one of the 3-4 days of carb loading.
    I also reduce aerobic exercise (increased anaerobic to utilise glycogen).

    The biggest weight loss gains were only seen after altering the fasting period which did not work with protein and/or fats alone even with a small amount of carbs.
    Better results are also achieved if the carbs are consumed at night and even processed carbs such as white bread can provide a better result on certain days depending on the next days food program (best before a carb load day with complex carbs).

    I am now trying to introduce timed fructose into my diet before liver glycogen is full just to see the effects.
    This alone has taken over a 18 months as I like to be thorough and test with as many individuals with varying weight and health conditions as possible.
    So far there has been no benefits except when adding sucrose (50% fructose) during carb loading on an overspill day to help store some body fat in order to lose more body fat in the following days.

    Obviously most restrictive diets work but at I wouldn’t rely on the loss being anything permanent.
    There are obviously ways to eat the foods we have grown to love and not be too concerned about the extra carbs or calories so long as the food intake and food types are timed with as little glycogen overloading as possible.
    It is all trail and error but worth the time to test it for yourself.

    Any way, keep up the good work.
    Love the site and the fact that you do respond to so many negative remarks despite your obvious intention to provide useful information to people like me who take in on board and incorporate it into my diet plans even if just to test different outcomes.

    • Sushmita
      8 years ago

      It is not a coincidence that our brain runs on carbs and our bodies prefer carbs as our primary fuel source. Countless medical sources back up this fact. If we eat 5 burgers vs the equivalent calories of bread (say 10 buns), won’t we still gain weight? Ultimately, everything is converted to glucose in the body whichever macronutrients we are discussing (carb fat or protein). The key to weight loss for me (and I am mostly a vegetarian who survives on complex carbs including lentils and some proteins from eggs, fish, dairy on occasion) was no snacking, 2 meals a day under 600 calories typically 450 and intermittent fasting. I have seen it over and over on the web how waiting between meals allows the body to burn fat. See this blog he provides ample examples just as this site did: Getting stronger Intermittent Fasting for health and longevity. The Okinawans by the way live to 100 on average and they live on carbs including rice, vegetables, fruits, some protein. Another favorite book of mine is Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

      This site by the way and your graphs are great! There is so much brainwashing going on in the net about a paleo diet eating high meat diets with vegetables when in fact this is a sure fire way to experience the numerous problems associated with meat eating and which lead to strokes, heart disease, numerous cancers, by your 50s, and that is even if you exercise. It doesnt solve the damage it does to your internal organs.

  • oops 🙂 posted this in the wrong spot at first.

    Enjoyed your article, but I feel like you missed the mark a bit in proving that insulin responses due to protein intakes are not in fact due largely in part to gluconeogenesis, and I’ll quickly use your charts to explain why. We see that egg and whey protein meals caused the sharpest insulin response. These are also the two fastest to break down, thus causing a more dramatic spike of blood aminos, which requires an immediate response to regulate homeostatic conditions. Now also, given that we see a normal lowering of insulin across all meals regardless of type, it is obvious to conclude that the dramatic insulin spike is due to dramatically varying metabolism and breakdown times for the foods studied. Having said that, it is quite likely that gluconeogenesis IS causing much of the insulin response we are seeing, over time and int he case of egg and whey, almost immediately. Evidencing this further is that we see the overall insulin secretions are greater for whey protein, indicating that this quick rise in blood aminos is using the glucogenis pathway (also keeping in mind that whey has a lot of glucogenis amino acids in it ) Great article though, and I don’t think the fact that gluconeogenesis does in fact play a big role in protein metabolism and insulin responses in the body disproves anything you’ve said. (other than the obvious) would love to hear your counter to that though. I always love a nutrition science debate 🙂
    Stephen Baker

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