Low Carb and LCHF are a spectrum, not a strict
From Chapter I
The terms Low-Carb (LC) and Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF) are often confused or even downright demonized as highly restrictive, nutrient deficient fad diets in which one conforms to avoiding “healthy” foods. This is not supported by evidence. Low Carb is also not one entity or way of eating, but rather an entire spectrum ranging from a way of eating devoid of plant matter except maybe in medicinal use if at all, to a way of eating with plentiful vegetation low in carbohydrate and sugar content. Every LC and LCHF “diet” (in reality, these are each a way of eating and not diets) can be placed into subsequent categories based on what is allowed and what is not, but some overlap and others have stricter rules. This is why it is a spectrum, rather than an all-encompassing way of life following a strict set of rules, and each subset is tailored to individual response, needs, and personal preference rather than having everything set in stone. Further, most forms of the LCHF way of life are not “high-fat”. In actuality, it’s the scientifically-evidenced human way of eating, and current guidelines are obnoxiously high in toxic subsidized commodities which are no more than excessively high-carb junk food, no matter how whole they are—deadly nightshade berries and toadstools are whole and natural, but you wouldn’t eat them, would you? The Ketogenic lifestyle of the spectrum is, indeed, high-fat, because it is specifically designed for alleviating diseases of many types which are caused or worsened by carbohydrate consumption. Carnivore is a relatively unheard of way of eating and is for those with a complete and total intolerance to all plant foods in any amount, but is not necessarily high in fat or protein. It depends on personal tolerance level.
None of the Low Carb lifestyles are a cure-all. Nothing is.
The Low Carb Spectrum has a few set strict rules, which can be summed up to no modern processed grains or legumes, no refined or added sugars from any source, no synthetic food additives, no fruit juices, and for some, no starchy vegetables. This varies from lifestyle to lifestyle in what is allowed and what is not. All are based on scientific evidence including naturally-occurring plant toxicants linked to several diseases, scientific data showing drug-like effects and severe metabolic derangement, nutrient pathway disruptions and inhibition, and carbohydrate content. More specifics later.
These dietary shifts happened in part by science, and majorly because of the failed practices in effect which, for many thousands, have given no relief from their misery and have actually caused symptoms and diseases to worsen. I am putting my foot down on this: They are not based on “junk science” and have been proven effective. Junk science is convincing an entire nation that a diet based on the same substances fed to livestock to fatten them up for slaughter are somehow slimming and healthy for any other species. This is what is known as insanity.
Now, the spectrum idea is mine; it is not based on an existing method that I know of, but rather a conclusion I drew based on plant content in the way of eating, the physical reactions people have to the spectrum which led to their final placement, and on scientific approach and personal experience with experimentation. I would like to take this time to thank everyone who volunteered their personal experiences for me to develop my methods further.
Introduction to three major tiers in Low Carb
From Chapter I
This may come as a big shock, but there are absolutely zero requirements for carbohydrate in the human diet (6-7). There are tribes which, at one point, were free of metabolic diseases, and their way of eating involved animal organs, sometimes discarding muscle tissue altogether, burying it for fermentation, or preparing it in a way which was inclusive of large amounts of fat like pemmican (8), and very little to no plants. Pemmican sometimes had plant products in it.
Some tribes are known, and the supported evidence ridiculed. The Masaai are one of the most mentioned and misunderstood peoples, though studied by Weston A. Price and found to be of pristine health despite having a meat-only way of eating (9). Another tribe which was researched was the Inuit, who only ate fish and blubber and water, and had no deficiencies and no cardiovascular disease (10).
This is not an unhealthy way of life and is actually a way of life, still, for many cultures not exposed to Western beliefs and corporate interest. Claims of scurvy and nutrient deficiency abound—when animal products are the most complete form of nutrition and there is zero evidence to prove causal harm from eating them. Evidence exists on the detriment of cooking animal products. Organ meats are the highest in all essential nutrients in the most bioavailable form, but for some can present a problem with specific intolerances such as histamines.
More in Carnivore.
The Ketogenic lifestyle involves a way of eating that restricts carbohydrate to 5% of dietary intake, or twenty grams for some people—which isn’t measured in percentage. This is a therapeutic dietary restriction, and has been shown to be effective in reversing and controlling diseases of different types (11-20).
The “diet” portion of this lifestyle was developed in the 1920’s to treat epilepsy (4), and was the standard for a long time before drugs entered the scene and pushed it into obscurity. The Charlie Foundation rediscovered it after a father could find no relief for his epileptic son (21). It was so hard to find, yet so simple and effective. The lifestyle was developed around real foods instead of the lab concoctions promoting ketosis. The bonus is that the hazards with side effects is minimal to none in comparison to isolated drug therapy (22), and in fact, there has yet to be a valid study showing harm.
The only catch is the amount of carbohydrate, which again is not required in the diet (6-7) so is not an issue for most people. This is not as restrictive as some may think, but the higher fat is not for everyone; it is merely a therapeutic tool for neurological and metabolic diseases. Atkins is similar to this, but falls somewhere between Ketogenic and the Primal types.
More in Ketogenic
The Primal lifestyle has foundations in the Paleo diet—Paleo derives its name from the word Paleolithic, from the Paleolithic Period (23), with the idea that our ancient ancestors ate a specific dietary type an had optimal health. Primal has less strict avoidance protocols, whereas Paleo seems more closed off and strict in practice. Primal is more open to change based on scientific discovery, allowing things like fermented dairy and properly prepared seed foods based on the personal tolerances of each individual rather than making a sweeping generalization. The main dietary avoidances are the same across the Low Carb Spectrum, but almost all fruits and vegetables are acceptable for Primal, with seasonal being encouraged by many groups.
Because this is basically the only difference, and because of the negative reaction from people aimed at a lifestyle based on cavemen, I am only going to refer to Primal, which is based on evolutionary sciences and physiological trials which show actual response to foodstuffs in the here and now.
The umbrella lifestyle of Primal is often the subject of bullying from anti-Low Carb opposition with the idea that we are not our ancestors and this is modern day so it doesn’t apply. This is a fair point. However, make it known that even modern scientific approaches of high quality show hunter-gatherer-type lifestyles to be safe and optimal for people who can tolerate plants (24-32) and don’t have neurodegenerative diseases which Ketogenic and Carnivore both aid in control (11-20). It should also be made known that ancient Egyptians were agrarian (grain-based), vegetarian peoples, and suffered all the modern diseases, as said by Michael R. Eades, M.D. (33), and evidence is shown in dental studies of mummified remains (34).
NOTE: One point to be made to avoid bias, is that even the ancestral man ate grains (35), but how much is not usually mentioned. Ancient humans also had varying progression of dental disease and didn’t always have pristine teeth. This varying amount of disease can be answered by Weston A. Price and Francis M. Pottenger, Jr’s works following diet and dental health, with the main factor being amount of seed foods or carbohydrate consumed heavily associated with the level of dental disease (9).
NOTE: Another point to be made is that grains and other seeds were more than likely not a staple in the diet (or we’d see the poor health of all grain-based societies), and more a starvation ration which was prepared in a completely different way than modern breads. This can be addressed by studying modern hunter-gatherers not tainted by Western ideology, which includes the Inuit and Masaai before they were introduced to the Western grain-based diet (9, 10).
More in Primal
This is the end of the spectrum with the most carbohydrate allowed in the diet. The proponents of Primal originally based their beliefs on the idea of Paleolithic hominids and what they would do, but it’s progressively evolved as science has to reflect what is actually tolerated rather than something our ancestors might have eaten, given that they weren’t of pristine health as once believed, but had varying degrees of health. They also had to deal with the environment, which industrial nations do not, give or take certain circumstances.
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35. Emanuela Cristiani, et al. Dental calculus reveals Mesolithic foragers in the Balkans consumed domesticated plant foods. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Aug 2016, 201603477; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1603477113