Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fiery Low-Carber Confronts Advice From Sports Nutritionist

A reader challenges dietitian Kim Mueller's opinions on low-carb

You know you are having an effect on someone when you start seeing yourself in the writings of other people. :)

That's exactly what happened today when I opened my e-mail and found a response to an article from Runners Web. I had not gotten a chance to respond to the column entitled "Science of Sport: Are the Atkins, Zone, and South Beach Diets Slowing you Down??" written by registered sports dietitian Kimberly Mueller-Brown yet, but my reader had. And I must say I am very proud of this response, too, and would like to share it with you.

Mueller was VERY adamant against the low-carb lifestyle for people involved in sports, but that didn't sit too well with my reader:

Dear Kim,

Did you actually do any research for the article you wrote.

Low carb diets do not leave you mentally drained, your brain has been shown to function more efficiently using ketosis than it does using carbs or glucose.

As for causing premature muscle fatigue again you are sadley mistaken. See when you body uses fat for an energy source then your muscle never run out of energy...unless of course you burn all the fat off your body. If you are following a low carb way of eating your body will balance out what it needs from the foods you eat and make sure you have more than enough "FAT ENERGY"

Immune function.....Again shown to be better on a low carb WOE than high carb diets!!!

True that the diet does effect your mood, only in the beggining when you are switching from a carb burning machine to a fat burning machine. But after you get passed the induction phase your body and mind have more fuel than they will ever need....FAT FUEL!!!!

During the induction phase of the Atkins diet you may need to take some supplements because of the restricted amount of carbs you are allowed. However as soon as the induction phase is completed and you start increasing the amount of "HEALTHY" carbs you eat than supplements can be reduced. Keep in mind thought that even on a "HIGH" carb diet if you are not getting your foods from a Natural Food chain and just a plain old suppermarket than your diet is lacking in nutrients anyway.

Our land has been so over farmed that there are no nutrients left in the soil and what we do put back in less than 5% of what our body actualy needs. As far as elevating the risk for cardiovascualr disease, apparently you have not read those studies either. Eating Saturated fat reduces the cardiovascular risk factors.

Actually muscle recovery is speeded up!!! Since we are already using FAT as energy there is no need to eat or drink a meal replacement after our workouts, our muscles just continue to use the fat it was using for energy and now uses it to rebuild itself.

Think about it, the body has to do less to repair itself using fat as energy and building blocks but if you wait until you work out is over and eat first your muscles have to wait longer to get the stuff to repair themselves.

Less chance of injury because as studies have shown lean muscle mass is actualy increased while eating a low carb diet. On a high carb diet your body will burn all of its fuel first, that fuel being carbs. Then when your body is empty of carbs it then turns to the next readily available fuel source, yup you guessed it....protein! Where does it get that protein, right again you muscles.

Now......if you were on a low carb diet your body would already be trainied to burn fat and as we discussed earlier there is more than enough fat on someone's body for 100 marathons.

Kidney Stones, please I have heard this so many times! Show me the proof.

Bone health is shown to improve on a low carb diet, do your research.

Actually joint pain is deminished as well because of the amount of esssential fatty acids and oils consumed on a low carb diet, which come from all kinds of FAT.

Kim, the research is growing day by day supporting the low carb lifestyle. One thing people forget is that low carb is not about getting rid of the carbs, just the refined carbs that nature did not put here on this earth. Our bodies have been designed to run on fat since the creation of time and the research supports that.

Please take a look at this website and read her credentials. This woman knows what she is talking about and so did Dr. Atkins. Also check out Jimmy Moore's blog page, a man who lost over 190 lbs living low carb. Ask him about his mood and joint pains and cardiovascular risk factors.

I hope you read the entire email and thanks for listening.

THANKS for sharing your thoughts with us today and for educating this dietitian on a thing or two about low-carb! Much of the research about the healthy benefits to your fitness routine on a low-carb program have been written about at this blog many, many times.

If anyone else would like to further the education of Kimberly Mueller-Brown regarding livin' la vida low-carb, then you can send her an e-mail at

1-6-05 UPDATE: My reader who wrote this article got a response from Kim Mueller and wanted to share it with you:

Thanks for taking interest in my article. The data presented in the article is backed by years of well-controlled scientific research so no, they are not lies.

Unfortunately, a lot of the messages being displayed by low-carb advocates originate from poorly designed research studies and a bit of convenient wording by those marketing their low-carb products. The purpose of my article was not to discount the importance of protein in the diet, rather to discuss the risks and downfalls associated with such imbalanced diets as South Beach, Zone, and especially Atkins.

It appears as you have and continue to read into false information, especially with regards to basic physiology. It is especially alarming to me that you believe a state of ketosis is health-beneficial for your body. Without carbohydrate present in the diet, your body will NOT become a fat-burning machine and rather enter a catabolic state that can negatively influence essentially every aspect of your health and fitness performance.

Healthy regards,

Kim Mueller, MS, RD
Sports Nutritionist

Can you believe the NERVE of this self-proclaimed goddess of health?! Before I blow a gasket to respond to Ms. Mueller, I was beaten to the punch by my reader who responded back to her:


Thanks for your response. One thing puzzles me though. You say that my body will not become a fat burning machine when I enter into a ketosis state. Then how do you explain my weight loss? I went form 330 lbs down to 228 lbs. I tried all the diets in the past and nothing worked for me yet I went on Atkins and lost over 100 lbs. If it was not ketosis then what was it?

Again I feel your article is misleading people since you offer no actual data to back up most of your claims yet I can produce mile and miles of data to back up mine.

I have tried the low fat, low calorie approach and yes I even went back to eating the "Healthy" regular carb way of eating after losing my weight. Then came back the cravings for sweets and the over eating caused by carbs in my diets and then came back all the weight I had lost. I have just started living low carb once again and will continue to live this way for the rest of my life.

I do agree with you that carbs are needed by the human body but I do not agree with the fact that they are needed for energy. I went for 2 years eating fewer than 50 grams of carbs a day and I never felt better in my entire life.

If you can show me some fact then maybe I will listen or actually engage you in a discussion but for you to srpread these lies with no facts to back them up enabling your readers to make an educated decision is rediculous to say the least.

Please take a look at some of the research I sent you and take a second look.

The research is clearly there for everyone to see. Livin' la vida low-carb has been found to be the only effective means for treating metabolic syndrome, help you burn more fat during workouts, and keeps you more satisfied and full than any other weight loss method out there. That's the key to your long-term success on programs such as Atkins and is clearly what Ms. Mueller is clueless about.

How about getting ALL the facts about low-carb, Ms. Mueller, and stop relying on what you and your nutritionist buddies have presupposed regarding proper nutrition.

Education, education, education...I won't stop doing what I do until everyone finally "gets" it. That's gonna be a while!


Blogger Newbirth said...

I know when I run the annual Bay To Breakers race (7.5 miles) I *have* to carb up before and during the race.

I tried the race 2 years ago on low carb. I could barely run a mile and barely managed to come in under 2 hours. I had no energy.

Last year I carbed up before the race with pizza the night before, one slice for breakfast the next morning, and 2 carb gel packets that I consumed right before the race, and about the third mile in. I had TONS of energy. I was able to run more than 2 miles before having to slow to a walk, and I completed the race in 1:37, equaling my best time ever that I made several years ago.

I almost never run on the treadmill at the gym because I can't go more than a mile before I have to stop, yet when I carb up, I can go up to 2.7 miles with no problem.

So I think the nutritionist is right on that. Intense physical activity means you need a lot more carbs.

1/05/2006 8:47 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I disagree that you need to "carb up" when you workout. My response to those who make this argument is, why don't you "protein up" and watch how your workouts improve.

My personal experience has been that as long as you eat a healthy low-carb snack that is not too heavy prior to going for a workout, then you will have all the energy you need to make the workout beneficial to you without sapping your energy.

Whatever you do, don't exercise on an empty stomach. CRAZY, CRAZY, CRAZY! And be sure to load up on protein AFTER your workout, too!

1/06/2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

After a "regular" workout, yes, I eat protein. Usually a protein based breakfast, too. But for endurance sports such as running long distances (such as 7.5 miles), I can't do it without full glycogen stores. I've tried doing it while staying low carb and having an Atkins meal bar before the exercise and I just had no energy at all.

Every day I have a protein shake for breakfast, and another one after my workout. I can't run more than a mile.

1/06/2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Let me just add, I think it has to do with how fast your body can convert fat to energy. With something highly demanding (like running), my body can't make the conversion fast enough. OTOH, put me in the gym at a moderate intensity (walking, eliptical) and I can go an hour. So I think it has to do with how fast the body can convert the fat to energy. I think we're not talking about the same thing.

1/06/2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

I think there's something to both arguments, but only in the context of "extreme" sports - i.e. when extreme demand in terms of energy is placed on the body. However, Jimmy is right that proper "protein loading" is important too.

Cyclists, for example, have been shown to have significantly more endurance on a low-carb approach than cyclists that had only carb-loaded. On the other hand, carb-loaded cyclists had somewhat more "explosive" or "burst" energy in the beginning - until the "man with the hammer" hit and their glucose-stores were empty.

Your observation that it has something to do with your body's personal metabolic conversion rate is probably correct.

However, and that's the other side of the medal, if the body is already in ketosis this process is much more efficient.

So the most efficient and effective way for a loq-carb endurance athlete to prepare is to go back to induction a few days before the great race. He or she will be in ketosis then. You will notice much better long-term, endurance, performance than with carb-loading which only lasts until you've burnt off all the carbs. When in ketosis, the lypolysis process will already have supplied your glycogen stores with ample quantities for long-term success.

Don't forget to load up on protein after the workout. And drink water - lots of it, no sugar-laden energy drinks!

1/06/2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

As an example, I found the references to a few studies showing better performance of athletes on a high-fat/low-carb diet than with carb-loading:

Enhanced Endurance in Trained Cyclists During Moderate Intensity Exercise Following 2 Weeks Adaptation to a High Fat Diet

Lambert, E.V., Speechly, D.P., Dennis, S.C., et al., "Enhanced Endurance in Trained Cyclists During Moderate Intensity Exercise Following 2 Weeks Adaptation to a High Fat Diet," European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 69(4), 1994, pages 287-293.

This study sought to compare the effects of two weeks of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (70% fat, 23% protein and 7% carbohydrate) with two weeks of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet (74% carbohydrate, 14% protein and 12% fat) on exercise performance. Five trained cyclists were required to perform a host of cycle tests at various intensities and lengths of time. Based on the results of these tests, exercise time to exhaustion during high intensity exercise was not significantly different between groups. However, when comparing the different diet groups’ performance during moderate intensity exercise, time to exhaustion was significantly longer after subjects followed the high-fat diet, despite starting off with lower muscle glycogen content (stored glucose). Subjects in the high-fat group also had a lower respiratory quotient, indicating that they were burning fat for fuel in place of carbohydrate.

So this shows that controlled carbohydrate nutrition improves athletic (endurance) performance. The low-carbohydrate/high-fat nutrional approach significantly improves aerobic (moderate intensity) performance in trained cyclists. These individuals were able to pedal nearly 40 minutes longer than individuals eating a "standard, healthy" high-carbohydrate diet i.e. carb-loading.

1/11/2006 2:12 AM  

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