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Fashionable Diet Fallacy #5. CARBS are your enemy

June 13, 2005 07:32 AM

What's the Truth Behind the Hype?
The Top Ten Diet Fallacies ?
Separating the Facts from Fashion and Fantasy
Fashionable Diet Fallacy #5. CARBS are your enemy
How to Shrivel Your Muscles, Stunt Your Growth, Get Sick Faster, Accelerate Aging, Deplete Your Sex Drive and Sap Your Energy ? By Not Eating Enough Carbs

We are currently scapegoating Carbs as the culprit for the ongoing obesity epidemic ? and for the diseases we associate with obesity.

Fashionable diet gurus have us believing that carbs are not essential nutrients and therefore should be severely restricted or even spared.

Low carb diet advocates argue that the hormone insulin promotes fat gain and should therefore be tightly controlled by chronically restricting carbs. Given the current popularity of low carb diets, it seems as if carbs are indeed the enemy. But are they?

Nothing could be further from the truth?

Let's examine the assumption that carbs are not essential nutrients. This assumption literally fails to recognize the two most critical biological functions of carbs (besides being a fuel):

1) The activation of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP)
2) The finalization of growth hormone (GH) and insulin like growth factor (IGF1) actions, as well as the enhancement of androgens actions.

The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is a critical process that is responsible for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and all energy molecules including ATP and NADPH, needed for all metabolic functions in particular, recuperation (healing of tissues) immunity and growth.

In addition, PPP is a precursor for another metabolic pathway ? the uronic acid pathway ? responsible for steroid hormones transport, production of proteoglycans (essential for connective tissue and cellular signaling) synthesis of spingolipids (lipids that are necessary for neural protection) and over all detoxification. The pentose phosphate pathway, which occurs mostly in the liver, is derived from glucose (i.e. carb metabolism).

Now, here is the problem...

In times of a desperate need for energy, such as during prolonged starvation or due to chronic severe restriction of carbs, the PPP would shut down its main function and instead switch into sheer energy production. It is likely that energy demand is a top priority for the body and therefore, in times of a desperate need for energy, the body would suppress certain important metabolic function (such as the PPP) to accelerate immediate energy production. Note that 30% of glucose oxidation in the liver can occur via the PPP.

One may argue that glucose can be synthesized from fat or protein. Yes, but not enough!

Since the synthesis of glucose from fat or protein (gluconeogensis) is actually a very limited metabolic process that occurs mostly in the liver, any severe restriction of carbs, in particular for active individuals, may adversely suppress the PPP critical functions; due to insufficient glucose supply during an increased energy demand.

The PPP actions also decrease with age, a fact that may contribute to the decline in steroid hormone production and the typical muscle waste associated with aging.

In other words, dietary carbs are essential for the full activation of the PPP and its critical functions.

Severe chronic carb restriction (below 70g-100g for an active individual) may lead to an adverse suppression of PPP, with an overall decline in sex hormones, compromised immunity, impaired growth and accelerated aging.

As noted, besides playing a vital role in the activation of the PPP actions, dietary carbs also help finalize the actions of the most anabolic agents including growth hormone, IGF1 and the sex steroid hormones.

Studies at Stanford University in CA and Helsinki University in Finland revealed that insulin is a potent promoter of IGF1 and the sex hormones action. Researchers found that insulin helps finalize the anabolic actions of GH, IGHF1 and androgens by down regulating certain proteins that suppress both IGF1 and androgens action, in particular in the muscle tissue, (i.e. IGHFBP-1 and SHBP, respectively).

A recent study at the University of Texas, indeed, proved that post exercise carb supplementation together with essential amino acids profoundly stimulates net muscle protein synthesis.

Interestingly, simple carbs had a more profound effect on enhancing anabolic actions after exercise than complex carbs. Nonetheless, as a general rule, our body is better adapted to utilize complex carbs than simple carbs. Again, it is when you eat that makes what you eat matter.

In conclusion:

Dietary carbs biological functions go far beyond just sheer energy production. Chronic carb restrictions may lead in the long run to total metabolic decline with severe consequences for survival (i.e. capacity to regenerate tissues and procreate.)

Ignorance, not Carbs, is our true enemy.
Ori Hofmekler is the author of The Warrior Diet and Maximum Muscle,
Minimum Fat
, published by Dragon Door Publications,, 1-800-899-5111. For more information on the
Warrior Diet Fat Loss Program and Controlled Fatigue Training (CFT)
certification seminars log onto or call
818-992-1994 (866)WAR-DIET

Copyright ?2004 Ori Hofmekler All Rights Reserved