I finished my most recent nutrition class days before I was heading out to pick my daughter up at college. In case you are wondering, that was by design. I’m allowed a 15 day break between classes. I try to finish up a class when I know I’m going to be traveling. The days between classes are also the days I use to read books that aren’t assigned ready. I guess you would call it “pleasure or leisure” reading.
Now, I know I’m going to sound like a big geek with a somewhat narrow focus but, as it turns out I do tend to read books about nutrition and health during my “pleasure/leisure” reading time. I didn’t used to, I swear! Anyway, it is what it is.
So, the days that I was away picking up my daughter I got to read this great book called The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD and Stephen D. Phinney, MD, PhD. I stumbled upon this book over at the blog of Dr. Michael Eades. He wrote a great review this past January.
I loved the book. It’s all about the science behind eating low carb and nutritional ketosis (good), not to be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis (very bad). Here’s a quote from the book about the distinction between ketosis and ketoacidosis:
Unfortunately, among the general public and even many health care professionals as well, these two distinct metabolic states tend to be confused one for another. Understanding how different they are is key to being able to capture the many benefits of nutritional ketosis while avoiding the risks in that very small minority of the population subject to developing diabetic ketoacidosis.
Ketosis is a physiologic change. Your body switches primary fuel sources, away from sugar (glucose) to fat. In the book, they state that this “adaptation” happens for most people when they eat 60 grams or less of carbs a day. It can vary depending on the person. Some people need to restrict their carbs to less than 60 grams and others can have more than 60 grams. You have to figure out what works for you.
I have actually experienced ketosis way back when my husband and I did “Body For Life”. Wow! It was really dramatic. I felt great, on fire. Tons of energy and surprisingly strong. That was the leanest I’ve ever been. “Body for Life” was not sustainable. It was pretty low-fat. Lots of lean, skinless, boneless chicken. That gets boring fast. Here’s another quote from the book that I thought was right on:
If a book promoting a low carb diet does not contain practical instruction and recipes promoting the inclusion of fat in its maintenance diet, it is not likely to result in much long-term success among its readers.
Now, on the flip side we have ketoacidosis. This is bad. Here’s a quote from the book:
Diabetic ketoacidosis is an unstable and dangerous condition that occurs when there is inadequate pancreatic insulin response to regulate serum ketone. This occurs only in type-1 diabetics or in late stage type-2 diabetes with advanced pancreatic burnout.
The authors explain that during ketosis the serum ketone levels in the body are between 0.5 – 5 mM. The serum ketone levels during diabetic ketoacidosis range from 15 – 25 mM. Big difference.
That was a little taste of what the book was like. They really dig down into the science of how the body works and how restricting carbohydrates is the way to manage type-2 diabetes, seizures, and severe obesity.
This condition, in which a collection of diseases characterized by insulin resistance are driven by consumption of a single nutrient class, deserves to be identified as “carbohydrate intolerance”. And as with other single nutrient intolerances (e.g., lactose, gluten, fructose), the preferred intervention is to reduce one’s dietary intake below the threshold level that produces symptoms.
This book really explains the “why”. They cover lots of scientific studies, great stuff. They go into the “how” a bit but not enough for me. I like lots of detail. They give a sample diet etc.. but I like more information. They suggest Protein Power by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades as well as their book, The New Atkins For A New You. I have read Protein Power. I liked it and I’m sure I will refer to it often. I am currently reading The New Atkins For A New You. So far so good. I have just started my next class so it may take me a while to get through it since it falls into the category of “pleasure/leisure” reading. (Although, maybe not. My current class is all about Macronutrients and so far the information that I’ve read in The New Atkins For A New You really complements the reading I’m doing for class.)
You may have guessed from the title of their “diet” book that Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek are big Atkins fans. They really believe that he was a pioneer. From all of the reading I’ve done over the past year I have to agree with them. Atkins, Paleo, Primal. It’s pretty much all the same. I think it’s great that there are variations on the same theme. Everyone is different and everyone learns/digests information differently. The more ways the same story is told the more possibility for learning.
I had not heard the phrase “Carbohydrate Intolerant” prior to reading this book. I liked it. It made sense to me. As I started to dig into my current class I noticed that one of the readings/assignments I have is a Carbohydrate sensitivity Test. Pretty neat, it’s all coming together.
I’ll let you know what I think of The New Atkins For A New You when I’m done. I suspect I’ll like it.
Eat Well, Feel Good, Have Fun!
Amy White MS HNC
I am a holistic nutrition counselor and believe real food is the true path to wellness. If you are interested in learning more about me and how I can help you, please see my story.
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