My interview with Jimmy Moore should be up on the day that this post becomes available. (I usually write my posts on weekends and schedule them for release at the beginning of the following weeks.) So the time is opportune for me to try to aswer this question: What is a good low carbohydrate diet?
For me, and many people I know, the answer is: a low calorie one. What this means, in simple terms, is that a good low carbohydrate diet is one with plenty of seafood and organ meats in it, and also plenty of veggies. These are low carbohydrate foods that are also naturally low in calories. Conversely, a low carbohydrate diet of mostly beef and eggs would be a high calorie one.
Seafood and organ meats provide essential fatty acids and are typically packed with nutrients. Because of that, they tend to be satiating. In fact, certain organ meats, such as beef liver, are so packed with nutrients that it is a good idea to limit their consumption. I suggest eating beef liver once or twice a week only. As for seafood, it seems like a good idea to me to get half of one’s protein from them.
Does this mean that the calories-in-calories-out idea is correct? No, and there is no need to resort to complicated and somewhat questionable feedback-loop arguments to prove that calories-in-calories-out is wrong. Just consider this hypothetical scenario; a thought experiment. Take two men, one 25 years of age and the other 65, both with the same weight. Put them on the same exact diet, on the same exact weight training regime, and keep everything else the same.
What will happen? Typically the 65-year-old will put on more body fat than the 25-year-old, and the latter will put on more lean body mass. This will happen in spite of the same exact calories-in-calories-out profile. Why? Because their hormonal mixes are different. The 65-year-old will typically have lower levels of circulating growth hormone and testosterone, both of which significantly affect body composition.
As you can see, it is not all about insulin, as has been argued many times before. In fact, average and/or fasting insulin may be the same for the 65- and 25-year-old men. And, still, the 65-year-old will have trouble keeping his body fat low and gaining muscle. There are other hormones involved, such as leptin and adiponectin, and probably several that we don’t know about yet.
A low carbohydrate diet appears to be ideal for many people, whether that is due to a particular health condition (e.g., diabetes) or simply due to a genetic makeup that favors this type of diet. By adopting a low carbohydrate diet with plenty of seafood, organ meats, and veggies, you will make it a low calorie diet. If that leads to a calorie deficit that is too large, you can always add a bit more of fat to it. For example, by cooking fish with butter and adding bacon to beef liver.
One scenario where I don’t see the above working well is if you are a competitive athlete who depletes a significant amount of muscle glycogen on a daily basis – e.g., 250 g or more. In this case, it will be very difficult to replenish glycogen only with protein, so the person will need more carbohydrates. He or she would need a protein intake in excess of 500 g per day for replenishing 250 g of glycogen only with protein.