Baseline health and Paleo 2.0

With Gary Taubes blogging and the extended low-carb/paleo community hopping, I feel less of that ol’ carbgrrl blogging pull, but I follow all the goings-on with keen interest.

One recent post over on Hyperlipid analyzes fasting insulin and — get this — accidental weight loss among the obese. Here are some excerpts that may be mind-blowing to the nutritionally uninitiated:

[O]ut of only five subjects, one obese person became a food refusenick. Various studies have had similar compliance problems, with obese participants refusing food. … What is more interesting is the trend in accidental weight loss.

My take home message is that the lower the carbohydrate intake (and it is reasonable to assume the lower the fasting insulin) the harder it is to consume enough calories to maintain the obese state. It’s possible, but not easy.

I think this decrease in hunger probably only occurs in obesity. For those of us who have adopted a LC [low-carb] eating pattern without the need for weight loss (and still have little excess fat) there are clearly other factors coming in to play, as there will be when a previously overweight person approaches target/ideal weight, what ever that might be.

The experience is actually quite familiar to those of us who have managed to lose serious weight by controlling our carb intake and thus our insulin production. Once you’re able to burn your own body fat for fuel, the uncomfortable hunger pangs of a lifetime of diets fade into memory. It’s remarkable.

What’s being suggested above is that this is a normalization process, back to some baseline of health and body weight. You know how the diet industry insists that you shouldn’t think of them as diets but rather lifestyle changes? It’s the right idea, but — if you’re doing low-fat and “chronic cardio” — the wrong lifestyle.

Gary Taubes relays Bob Kaplan‘s downright poetic way of thinking about this in a recent post:

A restricted-carbohydrate diet doesn’t make you lose weight; it corrects your weight.

A restricted-carbohydrate diet doesn’t make you lose water weight; it corrects your water weight.

A restricted-carbohydrate diet doesn’t improve serum lipids; it corrects serum lipids.

A restricted-carbohydrate diet doesn’t improve health; it corrects unhealthiness.

I think we’re entering into a kind of Paleo 2.0 phase, where many of us are discovering that our “target/ideal” limits are something short of our personal wishlist due to accumulated damage over time. I’ve been trying for several years now to “get the last 20 pounds off” without success, and I’m not alone. (I do feel that I’m asymptotically approaching better health, and I’m strongly motivated by the idea of delaying the effects of aging by avoiding AGEs!) The good news is that the evidence is also starting to accumulate, and people are cottoning on to it earlier in life. Oh, to be able to do things all over again…