I must be totally insane to dare write with the above title... Well, I sincerely think after saying so many good things about Zero Carb, it is time to take all my courage and ask big question.
I could make it short and easy, and say, yes, Zero Carb is THE way to eat for everyone. But I will tell you right away, I am not totally comfortable with this “one diet fits all” approach. Of course, I will tell you why.
First of all, let’s make one thing clear: I profoundly believe if on eats only animal products and avoids any carbohydrate from the plant world, this will provide him with a fully nutritious diet with all the quality proteins and quality fats he needs including the necessary vitamins, antioxidants and minerals his body can require to function well.
OK. I said it; now let’s move on.
I think Zero Carb is not for everyone; or another way to put it is that not everyone needs to do Zero Carb. The best way to examine this statement is to look for whom Zero Carb has some obvious indications.
Clearly, if one was overweight most of his life and failed on most diets, including low-can and low-fat, if the same person has some components of the metabolic syndrome, especially blood sugar problems which means insulin and Leptin resistance, and if this individual has uncontrollable cravings for sweets, I would say Zero Carb is the way to go.
The real problem arise when someone do not have all of the above. Because insulin resistance can vary from one individual to another and sometimes a LC or a VLCD can also be a good choice for milder resistance.
One could have his insulin level measured to evaluate his resistance but it seems the result is difficult to interpret the result just as are blood sugar measurements.
Interestingly, we read more and more triglycerides can give you a “global picture” of your insulin resistance levels (especially how the liver is resistant) and also how your pancreas cells can deal with any swing in blood sugar.
Let me explain.
Triglycerides levels should be normally under 150 mg/dl and, ideally, under 100 mg/dl. Which means anything over 100 mg/dl can translate in an indication for a reduced carb diet.
Triglycerides are produced in the liver by transformation of carbohydrates the body cannot metabolize. It is that simple. So anyone considering Zero Carb should look at his blood level of triglyceride. And anyone actually doing Zero Carb should have triglyceride under 100; if not, he must review the way he his doing this diet… or he can simply be abusing alcohol…!!!
The other big indication for a Zero Carb diet would be Leptin resistance. Again here, Leptin can be measured in the blood but interpretation of the result is also difficult. Studies are documenting Leptin hormone is produced to reduce appetite but in overweight folks, the level, which is generally high and should cut appetite, is not working because the cells have become resistant. These folks are usually the one having lost their appropriate relation to hunger and/or satiety sensations. Going on a Zero Carb diet can improve greatly the resistance to Leptin just as it does for insulin resistance.
But I think the ultimate indication for a Zero Carb diet is addiction to sugar and/or starch. The reason being any gram of carbohydrate does affect the Dopamine reward system and thus, is at risk of creating an addiction in the sensitive/predispose people. We well know limiting an alcoholic to one glass a day, or a smoker to one cigarette a day, is nothing but the way to treat their addiction.
Up to now, we only have studies proving the “taste of sweet” is addictive (including artificial sweeteners) but, sadly, no one have yet documented the effect on the brain of a few grams of carbohydrates. It would be quite interesting to see how the brain reacts to 2 cups of salad…
But, at the end, a gram of carb will always be a gram of carb and it will require insulin to be metabolized with all the known consequences…
Anyway, with today’s rate of metabolic syndrome, which is nearly 50 % in our society (and some researchers are even saying 90%...), Zero carb can be an excellent choice for a huge bunch of people.
Of course, someone can go without following a Zero Carb for year and be quite healthy, but studies are documenting if anyone eats 50 grams of fructose per day for one month, he up-regulates his genes expression and will develop a metabolic syndrome; EVEN if he has no heredity for this problem…
Do you know how to get 50 grams of fructose per day? Easy: eat 2-1/2 apples in 24 hours… That simple.
Finally, I would say Zero Carb is also for people wanting to eat clean and real food. Food that are unprocessed and food low in omega-6, which is probably the big enemy of anyone doing a non-Zero Carb diet…
Sadly, most of us, when arriving to the Zero Carb destination, have always took the street of “health problem”.
It should not have to be this way…