No Carb Diet

A no-carbohydrate diet (no-carb diet) is described as human carnivorism. It excludes dietary consumption of all carbohydrates and suggests fat as the main source of energy with sufficient protein. A no-carbohydrate diet is ketogenic, which means it causes the body to go into a state of ketosis (converting dietary fat and body fat into ketone bodies and using them to fuel the entire body and up to 95% of the brain. The remaining 5% still runs on glucose which is adequately supplied by converting dietary protein via gluconeogenesis or by converting glycerol from the breakdown of fat). It uses mainly animal source foods and requires a high saturated fat intake.

History

The earliest and primary proponent of an all animal-based diet was Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Canadian explorer who lived with the Inuit for some time and who witnessed their diet as essentially consisting of meat and fish, with very few carbohydrates during the summer in the form of berries. Stefansson and a friend later volunteered for a one year experiment at Bellevue Hospital in New York to prove that he could thrive on a diet of nothing but meat, meat fat and internal organs of animals. His progress was closely monitored and experiments were done on his health throughout the year. At the end of the year, he did not show any symptoms of ill health; he did not develop scurvy, which many scientists had expected to manifest itself only a few months into the diet due to the lack of Vitamin C in muscle meat. However, Stefansson and his partner did not eat just muscle meat – they ate fat, raw brain, raw liver (a significant source of vitamin C and others), and other varieties of offal. Nevertheless, consistently with the results of this study, it is believed that ketosis prevents the depletion of vitamin C from the body; it appears that glucose molecules “compete” with vitamin C for access to cells, and thus a high-carbohydrate diet leads to a much higher vitamin C intake requirement.

Medical research

* In lab tests on mice, prostate tumors grow slower with a no-carbohydrate diet.

* “A high fat, high protein and no carbohydrate diet and similar drink, ClearScan, decreased myocardial uptake in oncology studies.” When compared to fasting.

Criticism

Alexander Ströhle, Maike Wolters and Andreas Hahn, with the Department of Food Science at the University of Hannover, rely on Bjerregaard et al. (2003) to argue that hunters like the Inuit, who traditionally obtain most of their dietary energy from wild animals and therefore eat a low-carbohydrate diet, seem to have a high mortality from coronary heart disease, but the study did not control for carbohydrate consumption or smoking, which is significant, considering it was a “westernized” Inuit population of which 79% were current smokers and more than likely ate a non-traditional diet.

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