Guillaume Belanger's Reviews > The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Jeff S. Volek
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"Doctors Volek and Phinney share over 50 years of clinical experience using low carbohydrate diets": this is without a doubt much more than but a handful of people in the world can say. So it is not necessary to expound on the authors' expertise in this domain.

Although the book explains many aspects of low-carb diets and the subsequent shift to nutritional ketosis, mostly on the short and medium terms, the information is not really presented in a way that convinces the reader of the benefits of carbohydrate restriction and of inducing and maintaining a state of nutritional ketosis where the primary energy for metabolic activity is derived from fat. Instead, the information is presented as a means to explain the effects of such a diet and how it is not detrimental to health. So in this sense, the underlying presentation conveys a generally defensive and apologetic stance on the part of the authors whose primary aim is to demonstrate that carbohydrate restriction is a very effective---the most effective---way to both prevent and treat type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and associated conditions. In that respect, this book, meant for informed and interested readers as well as medical doctors and health scientists, is very instructive, well written and convincing.

There are two crucial points from this book that I now clearly appreciate thanks to the emphasis the authors place on them:

1) Eating salt is extremely important, especially when following a low-carbohydrate diet. The less carbs we eat, the more salt we need as the kidneys naturally excrete more of it. Even a slight salt deficiency is immediately felt in our energy levels and our mental clarity. They recommend a minimum of 10 g per day, which is 2 teaspoons. Especially before and during exercise. Also, the more we eat or exercise or drink, the more salt we need, as I explain in detail in How much salt, how much water and our amazing kidneys.

2) There are important differences in carbohydrate tolerance from one person to another. In fact, instead of talking about carbohydrate tolerance, we should always talk about carbohydrate in-tolerance. The reason for this is that across the normal population, there is less than about 10% of people who are, in all sense of the words, tolerant to eating carbohydrates. Everyone else is intolerant to varying degrees. In practice, this means that even if everyone---without any exceptions---will benefit from restricting, or even better, eliminating insulin-stimulating carbohydrates, the threshold for entering and remaining in nutritional ketosis (permanent fat-burning) varies greatly. Some will stay in nutritional ketosis by eating as much as 100 g of carbs per day, while others must absolutely drop carb intake to 25 g or even less. But no matter how intolerant to carbohydrates, once in nutritional ketosis, all health markers objectively improve in the same way for everyone.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
August 12, 2015 – Shelved

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