Carbohydrates Too High?


#1

According this USDA DRI table, the recommended carbohydrate intake for most adult men and women is 130 grams per day. Yet, according to Rob Rhinehart’s blog post, Soylent contains 200 grams of carbohydrates (he does not specify whether this is the daily value, but I will presume it is). It is well-documented that chronically-high carbohydrate intake, particularly mono- and disaccharides, can lead to obesity, insulin and leptin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

While Rhinehart assures us that he “only uses oligosaccharides,” 200 grams is still much higher than the amount advised by the USDA. Prominent figures in the low-carb/Paleo community today–such as Dr. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, and Mark Sisson–echo that advice, typically recommending 50-150 grams per day, depending on individual fitness goals.

Basically, I’m questioning the science and/or rationale behind stuffing so many carbohydrates into Soylent. While I’m sure a low-carbohydrate/diabetic version of Soylent will be offered at some point, I feel the default product should lighten the load some. Thoughts?


Soylent and Fatty Liver
Simple carb vs. complex carbs
#2

FYI… Use this information as you see fit.

No recommendation for RDI or upper limits for carbs is given by the Australia National Health and Medical Research Council. Under the “ACCEPTABLE MACRONUTRIENT DISTRIBUTION RANGES FOR MACRONUTRIENTS TO REDUCE CHRONIC DISEASE RISK WHILST STILL ENSURING ADEQUATE MICRONUTRIENT STATUS” section they state the following…

Lower End of Intake
Carbohydrate 45% of energy (predominantly from low energy density and/or low glycaemic index foods)

Upper End of Intake
65%of energy (predominantly from low energy density and/or low glycaemic index food sources)

The upper bound carbohydrate recommendations were set so as to accommodate the essential requirements
for fat (20%) and protein (15%). It is of importance to note that the types of carbohydrates consumed are of
paramount importance in relation to their health effects.

References: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n35.pdf


#3

This one I think is going to be more due to personal preference / tolerance. I tend towards thinking lowering the carbs / raising the fat to keep the insulin response nice and low is the optimum, but some folks do better on higher carb, and some on lower.

The issue with soylent and lower carb is likely to be one of taste. To get the calories for a full meal replacement you would need to put in a lot of fat for low carb, which might create an unpleasant taste. I imagine it is easier to keep things palatable in a drink going with higher carb. (about to start my own experiments with the macro nutrients on this myself ;))


#4

Oh good. I was missing about 24 carbs from my formula and the 88% was killing me! :slight_smile:


#5

Im aiming for over 400 carbs (maltodextrine only) a day, 72 g of fat and 85 g of protein. I wonder how good it would be to lower that to 200, and increase fat to 172g to compensate. Im ordering my first batch this weekend so we will see how it goes Im hitting a little over 2600 calories, and recommended for men who are a little bit active is 2500.

As long as calories in = calories out, I dont see why a high carb soylent wont be good for you.


#6

The table linked by the OP gives what the USDA thinks are the minimum levels of consumption of each macronutrient which will keep 98% of the people in the given sex/age bracket healthy. (This number – the minimum amount that keeps 98% of subjects healthy – is called the RDA, or “Recommended Dietary Allowance.”) Those numbers don’t mean that you shouldn’t consume more.

If you dig deeper into the DRI standards, you find that they have a formula which estimates how many calories per day a person needs in terms of age, weight, height, and physical activity level. You also find that the USDA recommends that 45-65% of calories be from carbs, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein.

So for example in my case, if I get 60% of my calories from carbs (an acceptable level), the math turns out that I am supposed to eat 386g of carbs per day.

The RDAs of each macronutrient are only acceptable minimums if you’re eating enough of the other macronutrients to get sufficient calories. If you ate the RDA of each macronutrient, you wouldn’t be getting enough calories.


#7

This most certainly seems like a disgustingly high level of carbohydrates. Virtually all of the research I can find on the topic shows, over and over again, that all carbohydrates cause an insulin response and all diets containing breads, wheat, flours, etc. cause insulin resistance over time, and hormonally is responsible for Obesity, high blood pressure, high, dense LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high blood triglycerides, and lower life expectancy.

The book “Why we get fat (and what to do about it” is an incredibly well sourced book going over virtually every case study of highly obese populations going back to the late 1800s up through modern times, dozens of studies of diets and literature reviews of diet research, obesity research, and the studies of how our bodies respond to different diets on a very real, immediate level. And virtually every conclusion is that high carb diets cause obesity no matter how hard you attempt to restrict calories, that they always worsen blood panels of participants, in every study conducted.

If you look into it, there isn’t actually a single study by the USDA backing up their claims of healthy carb levels, and virtually every study suggesting you should keep carbs between 0 and at the absolute upper maximum, 150g per day.

The Soylent diet is hardly different from the high carb, bready-floury diets of incredibly impoverished people who frequently end up in populations with extremely high levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and early death. I’ve had good luck with some of the DIY soylents that are 0 carb, but they aren’t as vigorously examined or worked on for optimized health as official soylent so I haven’t been able to dedicate much time towards working out the problems (mostly the runs after consumption) with it.

But as far as I’m concerned, official soylent is pretty much guaranteed to make you obese, tired, and diabetic within months, if not years. I’ve been following soylent from the beginning, and the fact that they are still essentially selling death powder to people as though it is healthy is amazing.


Soylent and Fatty Liver
#8

Type 2 diabetes is caused by consistent insulin overload. Insulin is generated to chauffeur blood glucose into cells, so it overloads when there’s high blood glucose.

The speed at which food causes blood glucose to rise is measured in experiments and called glycemic index, that can give you an idea of a food’s ability to cause insulin rise. There’s also a more direct measure called insulin index, which sometimes differs from glycemic index. The important thing to note here is that fats, proteins, and carbs all place on the insulin index chart. The average fats and proteins cause a lower insulin response than the average carbs, but soylents can be designed selectively and there are plenty of carbs with as low an insulin response as you would want. Recall here that a low or moderate insulin response is perfectly healthy, only a high insulin response is undesirable.

You saying “high carb diets cause obesity” would be as silly as me saying “high fat diets cause heart attacks”. Trans fat causes heart attacks and simple carbohydrates cause diabetes, but that doesn’t mean all fat is bad or all carbs are bad. There is substantial room for maneuverability in terms of macro ratios, the key is to avoid unhealthy fats, protein, and carbs. Your misunderstanding is brought to fatal collision with reality by the statement that “official soylent is pretty much guaranteed to make you obese, tired, and diabetic within months, if not years … [it’s] death powder”. This is quite obviously not the case to people like myself who’ve lived largely or exclusively on official Soylent for months to years, diabetic individuals who’ve had success lowering their A1C with it, and the fact that most report feeling better and losing weight.

The reason your expectation is in stark contrast with reality is two-fold: first, you’re attributing harmful effects to the whole category of carbohydrates rather than relevant categories under the carbohydrate umbrella. Taubes’ book has the exact same flaw, he doesn’t distinguish between bad carbs and good carbs nor give sufficient consideration that there are bad proteins and good proteins, and bad fats and good fats. His point that we had mistakenly demonized all fats is spot on, but he goes on to make the exact same mistake by demonizing all carbs. Second, you’re placing too much emphasis on a single factor. In any case the search for a single factor causing all Western dietary health problems is doomed from the start, the field is more complex than that.


#9

There is an extremely easy way to avoid every last carb in Soylent. Don’t drink it. There are several carb free competitors on the market and you can even make your own.


#10

We aren’t talking about trans fats, which are artificial and if not added, rarely present in foods sold today, so not relevant. We have also discovered that it is inflammation, not cholesterol, that causes heart disease and the mortality that goes with it.

Fats and protein have an insulin response that is so low it is not worth mentioning, soylent’s response profile is similar to that of chasing gulps of sugar with regular coke.

Taubes does distinguish between low and high GI carbs, but fact is both cause a carb load orders of magnitude higher than fats and protein and the body will not burn fats until that load is gone. At best I’ve seen a few anecdotes for soylent and just as many against it. Without hard numbers and studies, I’m disinclined to believe you.

The few cases you speak of could just as easily be the result of long term semi-starvation as of a healthy diet.


#11

A meal of just beef has an insulinemic response of 51 (and a glucose response of 21.)

A meal of just pasta has an insulinemic response of 40. (white pasta has a glucose response of 46, brown has 68, but the both have the same insulin response.)

I thought that was worth mentioning.


#12

Where do you get that from?


#13

The threads in this forum by diabetics measuring blood sugar every 10 minutes after using, and comparing to their pure-glucose, fasting, and 0-carb responses. There are at least a half dozen threads with a solid 50 or so responses.


#14

Taubes’ belief that high-fat diets are particularly effective for weight loss has been proven false by long term comparative diet studies, it turns out all the popular diets (zone, low fat, atkins, etc) do about as mediocre as each other. Results from this meta-analysis of 50 randomized trials: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1900510 yes this had calorie restriction for all diets, including atkins

In that analysis you can see low-carb and low-fat share the top spots at the 6 month mark though not by much, and all the tested diets caused significant weight loss. However at 12 months the diets pulled together and did as well as each other, with low-fat just barely doing best. It essentially proved the diet that works is the one you can stick to, and there’s no real difference between them for weight loss.


#15

The book talks about that study in great detail, and it is not the only study mentioned. First of all, the initial weight loss in most diets is water weight and ends up being reversed over the long run because the body prefers to store fat when possible, and it is only possible during heavy insulin response. If you restrict calories, the body will drop temperature and restrict energy usage, so your calories in will still balance calories out, you will just be miserable.

The book uses many longitudinal studies that span 5, 10, even as long as 30 years to examine the relationship between diet and weight, and goes into great detail about the differences between the first part of a diet and going out several years, why people go off diets and why different diets are easier to stick to.

Also, one major group of studies you are neglecting is discussed heavily in the book: studies of diabetes and obesity in “malnurished” areas in poverty living mostly off of high GI grains like soylent mostly ends up being. Those studies include millions of participants and come to very solid results.

The second set you are neglecting is studies of unrestricted calorie low carbohydrate diets, which show better results than caloric restriction low carbohydrate diets over time, as the hormonal balance that so quickly allows fat to absorb blood sugar and prevents it from releasing fat is no longer present.

There is an enormous difference, not just for weight loss, but for insulin resistance and all major markers of health. High HDL, low LDL, Inflammation markers, triglycerides, and insulin sensitivity all seem to be unaffected or negatively effected by soylent among those who voluntarily did blood panels before and after, just as we would expect.

I suggest you actually read the book instead of googling 5 second rebuttals to it and tossing out poorly research straw man points. Carbohydrates are best minimized for health as much as possible.

And personally, I’ve tried them all. plain caloric restriction causes extremely painful hunger pangs and puts me to sleep very rapidly, and even after persisting for 6-8 months my weight remains entirely stagnant. Low carb unrestricted diets, I’ve lost 7 pounds in the past month and have plentiful energy, my blood pressure, LDL, triglycerides, resting heart rate are all down, my HDL and insulin sensitivity have both risen, and I subjectively feel amazing, and not hungry at all.

The book really is worth a read. It’s extensive citations and review of the past 120 years of the literature on the subject is amazingly thorough and explains the physiological mechanisms in detail that match up quite closely to the details in my A&P book, and it is absolutely an enlightening perspective that has helped me, after nearly 15 years of obesity and weight gain, to get control of, and start making progress on becoming healthy. Also, if you think an analysis of 50 trials on a short coverage term beats an analysis of dozens of literature reviews and longitudinal studies, you may want to rethink your approach to scientific thinking.


#16

I stand by my opinion of the book, and I have read it. Smearing me as someone who quickly googles rebuttals and doesn’t read source material is obnoxious and just unnecessary, please stop. Taubes’ doesn’t properly account for nuance within the three macro categories and his explanations are insufficient, despite his claims to the contrary. Just because he says he accounts for it doesn’t mean you have to agree with him.

If the only thing you read is Taubes’ book you’re going to end up agreeing with him. He’s not a dishonest person but what he does is collect and present the arguments in support of his position, the book is not an objective review of all relevant evidence and arguments, it’s his collection of the best arguments for his position. That’s fine because I agree with him, and you, on important points: consistently high insulin --> insulin insensitivity --> diabetes + obesity. Avoid high GI foods to avoid insulin spikes, or better yet avoid high insulin index foods to avoid insulin spikes. However, you go wrong when you say “Carbohydrates are best minimized for health as much as possible.”, you’re making the same mistake in reverse of demonizing all carbs. Now that I know you’re a diabetic for whom low-carb worked I understand where you’re coming from. Diabetics are a specific case of people who have lower tolerance for all carbs (and other foods that raise insulin), so it makes sense that you’d come to advocate removing them entirely. But, like the celiac sufferer who advocates everyone stop eating gluten, it’s not necessary for most people. And as we’ve recently discovered, different people can get completely different blood glucose response from the same food so the insulin index and glycemic index are population averages, not absolutes.

Can you cite examples? I can think of two from diabetics who were getting blood glucose spikes from Soylent, and several other diabetics who’ve lowered their glucose spikes and A1C. From non-diabetics I can only recall positive or neutral results.


#17

He devotes a great deal of time to the nuance within the three macro categories, he devotes an entire chapter to it and cites a plethora of studies. Which is why I don’t think you’ve read the book, given your opinion on it incorrectly describes its contents. The citations he provides on the intricacies of different fat types and different carbohydrate types, high and low GI carbs and fiber is incredibly detailed.

I’m not a diabetic actually, not even close. I’ve never had blood sugar problems in my life, only obesity. Aside from obesity, I’ve never had any signs or symptoms of diabetes.

All carbs create insulin response and carb load in the blood, trigger the production of triglycerides and fit that same profile, no matter how low their GI. Just because some aren’t as bad doesn’t mean they are not still bad. Sure, the high GI carbs won’t make you as fat, but they will still contribute to insulin resistance and obesity, organ fat buildup, inflammatory response.

And still, soylent is a very high GI food, utilizing maltodextrin in large amounts, despite the fiber-masking.

Carbs provide no benefit, they do not improve life in any way, and they do not improve soylent. Of the many complaints of people who tried it and quickly quit, you find “I was still hungry all the time” “it wasn’t satisfying” “it gave me horrible gas” “it made me feel weird” among other complaints, and all of those are caused by it’s high carb content. Those complaints have been less with each reduction, but they are still there and soylent has still driven people away with this problem.

I think your recollection is pretty biased and ignores those who did not stick with soylent. And if they went from eating mostly bread, pasta, pizza, and sweets to soylent, then an improvement is expected. Doesn’t mean there isn’t much better and less bad ways of doing it.

Why hold so much loyalty to a product and company in the face of the science and lowkey disparage me when you certainly are in no position to do so. I want soylent to be better and more successful, why don’t you?


#18

I know this conversation is not about trans fats, but you are incorrect in the statement that its rarely present in foods sold today.

Go grab a box of girl scout cookies, peanut butter, ice cream, saltines, popcorn… Look for the Hydrogenated Oil listed in the ingredients list. Partially hydrogenated fat molecules have trans fats. But why does the nutrition label list 0 trans fats on these items?

Because the FDA allows Food manufacturers are allowed to list “zero” if a product contains less than one-half of a gram of trans fat. The trans fat ban only took effect in 2016 and will be phased out of the food chain by 2018.

I will let someone else chime in about the long chain and short chain sugar molecules, someone else can handle that one.

Anecdotal evidence is not on your side. I lost my job in December, before losing my job I averaged 14,000 steps per day, I weighed 185 lbs. I started eating Soylent in January, Today I average 3,000 steps a day, I weigh 165 Lbs with cloths on. I started eating soylent for 2 of 3 of my meals per day, or 1,000 calories, I will eat up to 800 - 1000 additional calories for dinner/snacks.

For the first time in my live my bowels are regular, I have a lot of additional energy where as before I would start dragging at noon until dinner, then after dinner I felt like a nap. I am up from 5:30 AM to drive my wife to work, and I find myself up until 11:00PM at night, often looking for a job.

I am less active and losing weight and never felt better, I don’t know what to say but you probably should reevaluate your statements that “you are guaranteed to be obese tiered and diabetic.”


#19

I have none of those foods, virtually none of the food I eat has trans fats added, and in some US states they are flat out banned. So no, not about trans fats.

I’m well aware of the difference between sugars based on how complex they are, but THEY ARE STILL CARBS and still carry a harmful carb load that induces hunger, increases fat storage, and so on for normal people, and it offers no benefit to anybody. If soylent took out all it’s carbs down to 10g per day, nobody would notice, nothing bad would happen, there would be no ill effects for anybody, but health would improve far greater among those already seeing benefits, and would skyrocket among those for whom soylent just isn’t enough. And your anecdotes v. mine. Have you seen the complaints/leaving forum? Do you know how many people tried soylent, gained weight, were always hungry, and quit? More people than its current total userbase by at least a factor of 5 or 6.

There is really no justification for having carbs in soylent, especially such high levels. At best it only improves the diets of people who were eating mostly junk food and are genetically lucky. For the rest of us it is still diabetes inducing sugar syrup


#20

Good to hear you’re not diabetic!

Actually the powder version is 65 and the liquid is 50, which are categorized as moderate to high and low to moderate respectively, and one of my consistent suggestions to RL has been lowering the GI. The difference between you, me, and Taubes is narrower than you seem to imply.[quote=“chris_sudlik, post:17, topic:3167”]
I want soylent to be better and more successful, why don’t you?
[/quote]Why are you assuming I don’t think it can be better? Just because my criticism of Soylent is different from yours doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent.

The difference between us is characterized by the statement I take to be true and you don’t, which is that a moderate to low insulin response is normal and completely fine, it doesn’t have health consequences. From what I can tell you believe 1. a moderate or low insulin response has negative health consequences, and 2. it spirals out of control. In addition you assign hunger-inducement and fat storage among other things to the entire chemical category of carbohydrates while I don’t. This must come from Taubes’ analysis, which I found unconvincing on this point.

I think your perception and analysis are very strongly biased: “More people [tried soylent, gained weight, were always hungry, and quit] than its current total userbase by at least a factor of 5 or 6.” I don’t understand how you could possibly know this unless you have access to a wealth of data I don’t, like for starters the current total userbase. Unless you simply assumed it was true based on your other beliefs about carbs.

Carbs are part of a normal diet. You can live without them by transitioning into ketosis and maintaining that but you can live just as well with them, ketosis and glycolysis are roughly equivalent in terms of health outcomes with little difference outside of special cases. Carbs nor fats, excepting specific nutritional fats like omega 3 and 6, have any exclusive nutritional value beyond their calories and they’re both fine as long as you eat forms that don’t come with negative consequences. Normal insulin response is fine, not unhealthy.