Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Worst Argument Ever Against Low-Carb

Vee Jefferson should be feeling mighty proud of herself right about now.

In the 18-month history of "The Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog, never has anything caused more anger and disgust from my readers than this Augusta Free Press article about livin' la vida low-carb. I quite literally received a link to this article from nearly a hundred different people begging me to respond.

When I saw it earlier this week, my first reaction was to ignore it and move on. But the more I thought about it and the more people who kept telling me about it, I changed my mind and decided to confront Jefferson's thoughtless column directly. As a registered nurse for the past decade, she has been sharing others her wealth of wisdom about health. I think her patients should demand a refund of their money for her health advice because this woman is clearly delusional about diet and nutrition.

In her column entitled "Low-carb diets - some dangerous truths uncovered," Jefferson immediately laid the groundwork for her attack against the low-carb lifestyle by declaring it as "a very unhealthy way to lose weight." She adds that it is "dangerous" for reasons that go far beyond the high-fat content and added calories. Which is worse, Ms. Jefferson, the low-carb diets like Atkins or remaining obese? I'd love to know the honest answer to that question from these people who so heavily criticize low-carb.

The side effects of low-carb that generally come in the first few days of Induction and highlighted in this recent study are described by Jefferson as "signs of impending crises."

What "crises," Ms. Jefferson? I've been eating low-carb for almost three years now. When am I supposed to be in this state of crisis that you claim? The only state of crisis that I am aware of is the OBESITY one we are experiencing currently which is why so many people need to be livin' la vida low-carb now more than ever before!

Jefferson's two biggest concerns about low-carb--she calls them "the most important dangers"--are low blood sugar and low potassium which she believes are "the quick killers."

What is it killing, Ms. Jefferson? Again, I must ask where you get this kind of information from because I don't feel like I'm going to diet anytime soon from low blood sugar or reduced potassium levels. Oh, wait a, ohhh, ouch, umpf, er...AHHHH! Nevermind, it was just gas. I thought I was dying there for a moment. Jefferson just had me so convinced.

Give me a freakin' break, lady! Is that REALLY the best you've got? Low-blood sugar and low-potassium?! Both of these problems can be EASILY managed on a low-carb diet because your blood sugar is STABILIZED and taking a potassium supplement can remedy those problems. This is just about as empty an argument as you can make against low-carb living.

Even still, Jefferson says "these are the things the dieters really need to know about" and that she will attempt "to make these things easy to read and unmistakably clear to everyone."

Oh goodie! Can't wait! NOT!

She did have ONE good thing to say about livin' la vida low-carb before attempting to "tear down" what she thinks is bad about it. Jefferson claims it is "a very good idea to limit carbohydrate intake," primarily sugar.

Shazam, she admits she support low-carb although she doesn't support the low-carb lifestyle. HUH?! Are you like 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry where you were FOR low-carb before you were AGAINST it?! This is gonna be ugly, I can see that right now.

Oh, she clarifies what she means by the lowering of carbohydrates versus "low-carb diets." The latter is too "strict" because it only allows 20-30 grams of carbs daily. Hey, at least she didn't say ZERO like most media pundits. But she still believes there are hazards to eating even this many carbs in your diet.

"These are the diets that can kill if the dieter is not familiar with the dangers," Jefferson wrote.

Are you ready for these lame-brained excuses for NOT doing low-carb? Here we go!


"Low-carb dieters may not get enough fiber, which keeps bowel movements regular and reduces the risk of heart disease, some cancers and diabetes. Without eating carbohydrates from plant sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans - foods limited or banned on low carbohydrate diet plans - it is difficult to get the daily recommended amount of fiber."

Says who, Ms. Jefferson? From day one of my low-carb lifestyle which began back in January 2004 when I weighed 410 pounds, I have taken a fiber supplement in addition to the fiber I receive from the foods I eat, such as flax seed and other products. Some of my favorite low-carb bars, including GoLower nut bars as well as ChocoPerfection chocolate bars are LOADED with more fiber than most of the fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans you can buy. Fiber is an integral part of a low-carb plan and stating otherwise is intentionally manipulating the truth about this amazing way of eating.


"The truth about low-carb dieting is that you do lose weight. The first bit of weight loss, however, is water weight.

Help me, glurble glurble glurble, I'm drowning in my 200 pounds of water, glurble glurble GASP, that I lost on my low-carb diet. HA! So what do you lose on a low-fat diet, Ms. Jefferson, besides your mind?! My friend Jackie Eberstein, who worked with Dr. Robert C. Atkins for decades researching low-carb diets, thoroughly dismantled the "water weight" myth that is often drudged out by those who oppose low-carb living. I have also addressed this issue at great length previously, so I won't bore you with the details again. Ms. Jefferson, go read all about it to learn something!


"As you progress on the [low-carb] diet, you will lose some fat, but you will also lose some muscle mass. And let's not forget that the heart is a muscle, too. The marketers of these low-carb diets tell you that you should consume extra protein to avoid losing muscle mass, but experts say that eating excess protein does not prevent this because there is a caloric deficit."

A study released earlier this year found muscle mass is preserved on a low-carb diet, echoing the research of Dr. Donald Layman who had previously noted that a low-carb/high-protein diet burns fat and not muscle. Actually, Dr. Layman provided even more compelling evidence about the positive effective of this kind of diet on fat burning when exercising in my fascinating interview with him a couple of weeks ago. Again, GO READ IT, Ms. Jefferson! Are you learning anything yet?


"When insulin levels are chronically too low, as they may be in very low-carb diets, catabolism (breakdown) of muscle protein increases, and protein (needed for muscle building) synthesis stops. Because this causes of quick muscle fatigue, the person generally exercises and moves less (often without realizing it), which is not good for caloric expenditure and basal metabolic rate (metabolism)."

Before I started livin' la vida low-carb, the constant rollercoaster ride I gave my blood sugar levels was leading me straight towards becoming a Type 2 diabetic. But when I removed sugar and other refined and processed carbohydrates from my diet, for the first time in my life I was no longer enslaved by those foods that kept me in constant physical bondage. No more ups and downs with insulin in my body working overtime. Low-carb living normalized and balanced that in my body and I've been healthier ever since.

While the first few weeks were difficult with the energy as my body was getting used to burning fat for fuel rather than carbs, ever since then I have been one of the most energetic people you will ever meet in your entire life. I am a daily exerciser getting in my cardiovascular workouts and can go for 45, 60, even 90 minutes at a time no problem. Jefferson is again lying to you about the effect of low-carb on your body. You will WANT to exercise more because of the energy RUSH you get from being on it. Get past Induction and LOOK OUT! Whooooooosh comes the energy...I'VE GOT THE POWER!


"Ketosis is usually marketed to the consumer by low-carb diet advocates as being a good thing - a positive thing. I'm telling you now, it's not. I've actually read a very popular book on low-carb dieting - I'm not naming any names - where the writer actually encourages the readers to go out and buy ketone test strips so that they can have proof that their bodies have reached the desired state of fat burning."

I'll name names, Ms. Jefferson. It was Dr. Atkins and I PROUDLY used ketone strips to see if I was in ketosis or not. Seeing that pink or purple strip was a reminder of the good I was doing for my body on my way to losing over 180 pounds in 2004.

"Ketosis, left unchecked, can lead to very serious consequences. Ketosis occurs when the amount of carbohydrates (the fuel that required to make the body function) drops below a critical level."

Ketosis is NOT dangerous, Ms. Jefferson. Why do you lie so much? What are you afraid of people knowing about low-carb? Regarding carbohydrates, they are NOT the fuel of a low-carber. FAT is the fuel that we live off of which burn much more efficiently than those garbage carbs you support.

"This forces the body to turn to protein and then to the body's fat stores to do the work carbohydrates are supposed to do. When protein is used in this manner, it releases nitrogen into the blood stream, placing a burden on the kidneys as they try to expel excessive urinary water due to the loss of sodium (salt). When fat is likewise used, the breakup releases fatty acids, or ketones, into the bloodstream, which causes a further burden on the kidneys. If ketosis continues for long periods of time, serious damage to the liver and kidneys may occur. Liver failure means absolute death, because doctors can do nothing to fix this. Kidney failure means dialysis, and may eventually lead to death as well."

Oh the horrors, weeping and gnashing of teeth! Somebody call a doctor for Ms. Jefferson before she has a stroke. Thanks for your concern over my kidneys and liver, but both are doing quite well despite being on low-carb for THREE YEARS! Gasp! Shouldn't I be on dialysis by now and on my death bed? Did somebody forget to tell my body all of this bad news?


"When a person stays on a low-carb diet over a long period of time, one day they may notice that they are unusually weak. They may feel an overwhelming urge to lie down and may even feel dizzy and lightheaded. It's very important that you are aware of what is going on so that you will be able to treat yourself fast. You need sugar FAST!"

No you don't! I haven't had a bit of sugar for THREE YEARS, Ms. Jefferson. If I get dizzy, then it probably means I need to EAT SOMETHING, not jump to get sugar in my blood as soon as possible since I am not diabetic. That's some just plain ridiculous advice! That would only make the problem worse as an insulin rush would then be followed by the inevitable blood sugar crash hours later. Nope, not going through that ever again!

"Now, since you're not diabetic, it's only important for you to raise your blood-sugar level fast. Any sugar is good. Drink a soda or some juice, eat some candy or anything you have that has a good bit of sugar in it. Then eat something starchy, like a sandwich or a potato, to maintain your blood sugar and lay off the diet now."

Oh sure, recommend people eat something with a ton of sugar in it and then follow that up with a high-carb food. What a disgusting solution by someone purporting to be a health professional. She describes this as "instant death" if it is not handled appropriately, but it's more like instant HYPE from her to discourage people from trying low-carb.

"What's the seriousness of very low blood sugar? You will eventually pass out, stop breathing, and die. If you're home alone, that means no one will be able to save you. If you're driving, it means you may have an accident and possibly hurt or kill someone else in the process."

Come on, Ms. Jefferson! Enough with the theatrics here. You and I both know low-carb does NOT cause you to have low blood sugar levels. What it does is bring balance to blood sugar where it was previously out of kilter. Hyperbolizing this issue like you have done is reckless and borderline criminal by purposefully leading people to the wrong conclusions about the impact of low-carb on their bodies. Three years and running and I've never passed out, stopped breathing or died (unless I'm typing this as a ghost or something!).


"Diets low in carbohydrates may also be low in potassium. Foods rich in potassium, but also rich in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, fruits and beans, are restricted or banned. Low potassium, also medically known as hypokalemia, is potentially fatal. There may be no symptoms at all, but the condition is still just as deadly."

Muscle pain, muscle cramps, seizures, disturbed heart rhythm which could lead to death are all alleged symptoms of a lack of potassium in the diet. While it is true many foods high in potassium are also high in carbohydrates, that doesn't mean you can't get enough potassium in your diet from supplements. I took 300mg of potassium in the early days of my low-carb plan to ward off the leg cramps and maintain adequate potassium levels in my body. Nowadays, I use products like AlsoSalt which contains high amounts of potassium. This has NEVER been an issue on my low-carb plan...EVER!

"One thing I really want the person considering doing a low-carb diet to understand is how dangerous a muscle cramp can be. No pain, no gain, right? Wrong! Your heart is a muscle! And what do you think happens if your heart starts to cramp?"

Break my bleeding heart over this load of you know what! So, if you don't get enough potassium in your body on your low-carb plan and the cramp hits your heart, then you could die. Is that your premise, Ms. Jefferson? SO TAKE A POTASSIUM PILL AND MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE!!! Why go through the drama about this and give people advice about how to get more potassium in their diet, hmmm? That's seems so much more productive than railing against low-carb as a killer.


After shelling out her unsolicited opinions about the so-called dangers of low-carb living, Jefferson then gives advice of her own:

- Always talk to your doctor before starting a diet and fitness regimen.

Sure, but be prepared to go it alone if your doctor does not support your decision to begin a low-carb diet. The latest research is showing low-carb is healthier than those in the medical profession once thought.

- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and leave the fad diets alone.

Here we go again! What is a healthy diet, Ms. Jefferson? Low-fat/low-calorie foods that taste like cardboard? What is so balanced about eating THAT way?! To me and many others who have mistakenly bought into the low-fat diet propaganda in the past, most of us would agree that the low-fat diet is the most agregious fad diet that has ever been released to the world. God help us reverse the negative effects that have been unleashed because of that failed nutritional approach.

- If you are very overweight, inquire about the use of prescription diet pills with you doctor.

Holy cow, can you believe this lady recommending taking DRUGS over a natural weight loss method such as low-carb?! Talk about your DANGEROUS FADS, Ms. Jefferson! Don't lecture people about the health risks associated with low-carb and then turn right around in the same column praising the use of medications to lose weight. What kind of credibility do you have as a medical professional offering up such nonsense as this. Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed last night or something?

- Exercise regularly, at least three times per week, alternating between cardiovascular and muscle strengthening exercises.

No argument from me on this. Thirty minutes daily MINIMUM is good for your heart!

- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily.

AT LEAST! I drank as much as 2-3 gallons daily when losing weight and still drink about a gallon or more per day now. Water breathes life into low-carb and works with the fiber you consume to flush the stored fat out of your body.

- Make sure you get enough fiber.

Eating such foods as the ones I previously mentioned as well as products like ZERO CARB BREAD from Viva Low-Carb will give you the fiber you need to allow your bowel to shake, rattle, and roll!

- Sleep is important to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Get enough sleep every night. Eat within 20 minutes of waking (this revs up the metabolism for the day).

You won't hear me bemoan this advice. Sleep is essential to your health on so many levels and eating breakfast is vital to starting your day off fueled up ready to take on the activities of your day--even on that "dangerous" low-carb diet!

- Make breakfast your biggest meal, instead of dinner. Eat five small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals.

Another "low-carb" principle at work--eating frequent small meals rather than the traditional three big meals.

- And try not to get on the scale too often. A healthy weight loss should be no more than 1-2 pounds per week. If you get on the scale and are disappointed or frustrated by your progress, it may cause you to back slide. Mostly measure your success by how good you feel and how your clothes fit, or better yet, don't fit!

While studies show weighing daily is a good way to keep the weight off for good, I encourage people to put the scale away for a few weeks if it is discouraging them. Ms. Jefferson is right about measuring your success in other ways rather than the scale! Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while!

- But most importantly, if you do insist on starting on a low-carb diet, make sure you take a break from it at least every two weeks, by resuming a normal, healthy carbohydrate intake.

Very BAD BAD BAD advice that should NOT be followed at all. If you go back to eating carbs every two weeks, then your body will never get to experience the extended weight loss and health benefits that livin' la vida low-carb will give you. And Ms. Jefferson knows this which is why she wants people to get off of low-carb. What will happen is your weight will begin to stall unnecessarily as it keeps trying to begin burning stored fat again. But the carbs you've eaten will need to be burned off first before fat-burning can commence. You're dooming your low-carb diet to fail if you take her recommendation.

WHEW! I think I need an aspirin or something after filtering through that filth of a column. I do believe this one takes top honors as the most idiotic, unresearched, imaginary defense against livin' la vida low-carb that I have blogged about here in this forum. CONGRATULATIONS, Vee Jefferson. You win the award for Anti-Low-Carb Pinhead of the Year! This was a great lesson in why I am here doing what I can to educate, encourage and inspire people about low-carb living. You tried, but you failed to convince ANYONE of your twisted views. THANK YOU for playing! Better luck next time (if you dare!).

You can send your reactions and responses about Vee Jefferson's column about the low-carb lifestyle by writing a letter to the editor of The Augusta Free Press at

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Blogger PJ at TDLC said...

You're right. It is almost impressive how much sheer stupidity she combined in a single article -- although the sheer deviousness is pretty impressive too. Only eat lowcarb for two weeks and then eat carbs?? If you feel weak, eat sugar?? What is she, an alien bent on humanity's destruction? Her entire goal is to KEEP ANYBODY FROM MOVING INTO A KETOGENIC, FAT-BURNING STATE. Since she considers that dangerous! So her, "If you must low carb, then..." is nothing more than a way to ensure nobody could stay on low carb if they followed her advice! People would be having massive sugar/carb cravings, have energy problems and more from that kind of bouncing around.

Then again, what would I know, having now lost 72 pounds of water (haha), perhaps my brain cells are dehydrated.

As if tons of people are not potassium deficient even eating high carb. For goddsakes woman. She would rather send someone to killer food and medical drugs, than suggest they eat REAL food and take a vitamin. I would wish on her the misery of the results of her advice for many people, but I just am not that cruel.

11/03/2006 12:53 AM  
Blogger Calianna said...

The "inadequate potassium" argument is about the silliest one I've ever seen against low carb!

Just to give you an idea what I'm talking about, take a gander here:

(you may need to expand the frame to see the entire address)

Some of the highest potassium content foods on that list are foods that are acceptable on a low carb diet!

1/2 avocado: 602mg
1 oz almonds: 219mg
4 oz meats: 276 to 465 mg
4 oz fish: 428 to 596 mg
1 c. cooked spinach: 1,166 mg

I could point out more on that list that have much higher potassium contents than her favored high carb foods, but it makes me wonder where in the world this woman is getting her ideas that low carb diets don't provide enough potassium, even if you don't opt to use any supplements.

The "only water weight loss", "ketosis is dangerous", and "low blood sugar levels" are just the same ol', same ol' arguments we keep hearing, and just as full of holes as they've always been. The proof is in the pudding (sugar free, of course), Ms. Jefferson.

Before she goes writing about this "dangerous" diet again, she needs to take the time to find some people who have been low carbing for months or years and find out how it's really affecting their lives for the better. And oh by the way, it's not a new "fad" - it's a diet that was first proposed by William Banting back in the 1860's. And guess what? It helped him and his overweight friends lose significant amounts of weight too.

The "piece de resistance" of this article is suggesting we should take pills to lose weight, instead of finding a way of eating using real food. Oh yeah, that's really good advice, sure...

*rolls eyes*

Remember Redux, anyone?

If you hurry in to get your diet pill prescriptions, maybe you can get in on the lawsuits against the maker of Meridia... of course you might not survive long enough to benefit from the settlement, but hey, at least you'd be following "Professional Advice" from a registered nurse!

No thanks, I'll stick to my starch-free, sugar-free diet.

11/03/2006 10:38 AM  
Blogger grain free and lovin it said...

Thanks for the info on pottasium. I was worried there for a second and perplexed.

I, myself, get so frustrated with people extolling the virtues of a grain-based diet. I followed it for close to a decade, even being vegetarian for six of those years and vegan for about six months, before the depression overwhelmed me.

What did I get for my choice on this so called "optimal diet": weight gain, low energy, acne, and tremendous intestinal distress caused from an excess of fiber. I was regular alright, regularly in pain.

During this time I was on all sorts of supplements (calcium, iron, zinc, and of course B12), particualarily when I was a vegetarian, because my grains based, low fat diet did not meet my nutritional needs.

Now, I forgo the grains and limit the carbs and I still manage a bowel movement everyday, without the pain or urgency, and my face looks great.

As for muscle loss for the first time in four years, I have experienced muscle growth and better tone.

As I read the Jefferson article, I noted that she failed to supply one real life example of someone who died or even experienced any of the horrors from a LCD.



11/03/2006 12:41 PM  
Blogger Calianna said...

I just noticed - this lady is seriously confused about metabolism.

"When insulin levels are chronically too low, as they may be in very low-carb diets..."

The only time low insulin levels are a danger is to a diabetic, and even then only when the diabetic doesn't have enough insulin to lower their blood sugar to a reasonable level. Limit the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and you don't even need to produce any insulin.

She's confusing dangerous diabetic conditions (when the diabetic doesn't have enough insulin to reduce their blood sugar to a reasonable level), with the low carb benefit of mimimal insulin production.

There's an explanation of what happens in diabetics when their insulin levels are too low here:

Pay particular attention to the paragraph that starts out "So much for too much insulin", about 2/3 of the way down the page.

Interestingly enough, the wording used in this article about diabetes is almost exactly the same as the wording in Ms Jefferson's article about low carb.

Also notice that in diabetic circles, apparently the words ketosis and ketoacidosis are often used interchangably, despite the two words meaning different things.

Augh. No wonder people are so confused about low carb diets. You'd think a registered nurse would know better though.

11/03/2006 5:13 PM  
Blogger Wanda said...

"If you are very overweight, inquire about the use of prescription diet pills with you doctor."

Oh myyyyyyyyy that one really bugs me...........I took some of those -after 4 weeks I couldn't function without dizzy spells and cold sweats.....ewwwwwwwwwww

Jimmy good job on the come backs, I have nothing to add......I am shaking my head, do people really believe this stuff??????????ugggggggggg

11/03/2006 5:55 PM  
Blogger LowCarbCentralWI said...

I just want to encourage everyone to respond to this rubbish. If you haven't already done so, when you close this window, click on the link Jimmy provided and let the Augusta Free Press know that the days are OVER when you can publish this type of crap and get away with it.

11/04/2006 11:18 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Another promising candidate for the Darwin Award! Is this a registered nurse? God help us!

There should be a law against so-called "health professionals" touting such scientifically unteniable hogwash. That should stop such idiots flogging dead horses.

Another disgusting piece of misinformation, that's what it is.

11/05/2006 2:39 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

My insulin levels are low - I had them tested. Even so, I still passed the glucose tolerance test with flying colors. And that even though my blood sugar was low that morning due to eating - you guessed it - a HIGH carb diet for 4 days pervious. As long as I am on low-carb my fasting blood sugar is more than stable, and actually higher than when I eat high carb.

If low-carb is so dangerous, then why didn't the Inuit die out ages ago?

And I acho the other poster - she uses scare tactics, but fails to provide even ONE case of her dire predictions happening to anyone.

Eat my shorts, Ms. Jefferson! I've been eating this way for 2 1/2 years and have no intention of stopping. My blood tests (including blood sugar) come back great. You are a prime reason I don't trust medical professionals.

11/05/2006 6:40 PM  
Blogger Sydney said...

I have low carbed (Atkins) for years. And it has been responsible for allowing me to lose about 50 lbs and keep it off. I have now added back tons of green veggies and many berries etc. I do have high blood pressure, which low carbing did not, unfortunately, affect one way or the other. Due to this, I take a blood pressure medication which includes a diuretic.

Low carbers with medical issues like mine CAN have some issues with potassium loss which are exacerbated by ketosis, but this is not a reason not to low carb. The latest study out has shown low carb to be the healthiest long term way to lose weight and keept it off.

My low carb experience is NOT the same as most due to my special needs, yet I am still able to keep my potassium levels normal. I take prescription potassium KDUR20 due to my special needs and also look for high potassium foods while I maintain. My doctors are all on board with me. It should be noted that I would have to take this prescription regardless of whether or not I was on Atkins, I just watch my levels a little more closely due to the diuretic I take for my blood pressure. Many many people on Atkins who lose weight find that their blood pressure improves so dramatically that they don't have to take medication anymore. Unfortunately, mine is not associated with weight. I have never had one issue with fiber. I get plenty of it.

I eat much healthier now than I ever thought about eating prior to Atkins. Its a great WOE!

3/18/2007 6:26 PM  

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