Great Video from Dr Mercola

Dr Mercola continues his exploration of the safe starches debate today. (Note the question mark in the article title!) He discusses the issue in his own video, which I thought was outstanding. Here it is:

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  1. What a great speaker. Will have to look out for more Dr. Mercola.

  2. Hi Paul:
    Very interesting how he at first pays homage to Dr. Rosedale, and then comes around to the concept of safe starches. Probably very hard thing for him to have done so i guess a couple of motivating factors might be: he is more open minded to research than others; thinks he might lose some of his audience and product purchasers; wants to curry favor with new product purchasers. Hard to tell his motivation,but for someone who wrote a book, i think called The No Grain Diet, the video represents a real about face and with his relationship with Dr. Rosedale perhaps even tougher.

    I might add that for a true blue low carber, no grain type Dr. Mercola looks pretty good.
    You obviously got him to thinking(i will give him the benefit of the doubt) based on your research and deserve to be congratulated. Well done!

  3. Hi Steve,

    I don’t think Dr Mercola is dogmatic about which diet is best. He wants to find out what works. Also he wants to help his audience. He believes in low-carb, and Dr Rosedale was very influential in his own life – he came to low-carb through Dr Rosedale – but he is open to the idea that Dr Rosedale’s diet may be non-robust to certain risks and suboptimal for health. He wants to give good health advice to his audience, and is also aware that most people won’t go zero-carb, so he’s happy to present them with a moderate-carb alternative that is better than what they’re doing now.

    I think Dr Rosedale would agree that our diet is better than the Standard American Diet, and on a migration path for most people toward his diet, so I think we’re all in agreement on the essentials and just debating how to optimize a low-carb high-fat diet.

  4. Dr. Mercola is not the zero-carb advocate , he promotes metabolic typing, with different diets for different metabolic needs with different carbohydrate content. I don’t go to his blog often because his tone of advise is too alarmist for my taste most of the time, plus I don’t want to feel like different substances(whey protein, algae extract or something like that) are pushed on me.

  5. Paul, didn’t you make a Mercola video recently? Any idea when that will be released?

  6. Hi SGW – We had bandwidth difficulties and will re-record the interview on Dec 20. Not sure when it will be released.

  7. mercola,s abit of a fool.he,s all over the map.i don,t think he has an original thought in his head,just reguritates what others say.go to his web site and read it for awhile.he,ll have you afraid of everything in short order.very alarmist.


  8. Well I made it to the line about the “large amount of misinformation due to the corporate interests that really mislead us …”, around 14 seconds.

    Of course there’s plenty of crony capitalism and regulatory capture involved with Big Pharma, but I think the root of the problem is government intervention, not evil corporashuns.

    I know you aren’t into this political stuff, sorry, but Dr Mercola brought it up first 😉 To try and cast the current situation into a purely leftie (it’s teh corporashuns!) or righty (it’s teh govronment!) mold is dangerously naïve, in my opinion.

  9. I don’t see how he squares the Rosedale fawning with his ultimate prescription of 25-30% carb. That’s more than lower end PHD, and there’s no way to get there avoiding both sugar (if one includes naturally occurring sugar) and starch as Rosedale preaches.

    I’m experiencing inner conflict these days over carb consumption. Reading all I have lately on this topic, there’s a ton of evidence out there to support a 65% or higher carb consumption vs. that level of fat. Most SAD eaters are consuming 40-55% carb, 10-15% protein, 35-45% fat. But just changing the percents is not likely to do much, it’s reducing total amounts for many of us, and the types.

  10. Hi CarbSane,

    Any evidence that you like to point out? I thought high carb consumption is correlated to high triglycerides (which are bad for us)?

  11. A little article on Dr. Mercola about the FDA warning him to stop promoting the unproven thermography to diagnose breast cancer:

  12. Carbsane:

    PHD recommends 600 calories from starch. On a 2,000 calorie diet that is 30%. How is that lower end of the PHD range?

    Also, for many of us increasing carbs to the levels you are thinking of will alter lipoprotein particle size to an abundance of small LDL from large LDL. At least that what happens to me with a high carb consumption diet.

  13. Hi Sean,

    It gets better.

    Hi CarbSane,

    The 20-30% is PHD derived. It’s from my point that the body’s consumption of metabolic substrates is going to be close to 30% glucose, and that I believe it’s good to be slightly low-carb. So 20% to 30%, unless you want a ketogenic / lower-carb diet for therapeutic reasons, in which case you might go down to 10%.

    On the carbs, I’ll have a bit to say about that when I get into my theory of obesity (coming soon). But I think there’s good reason to think keeping carbs to 30% or less is probably healthful.

    Hi Emily,


    Somebody at the Weston A Price meeting was touting these devices to me, but I can’t remember who.

    Hi Steve,

    Our recommended carb range is 10% to 30% in the book. So the lower end of PHD recommendations would be 10% to 20%, and CarbSane is pointing out that Dr Mercola’s 20% to 30% is above that. But it’s in line with our “regular” (ie non-ketogenic) diet.

  14. i wonder how this fragile man would feel about my super high fat, protein and sucrose @ milk diet.

  15. @Steve: Lower end of PHD is 100g starch carb = 400 cals as I understand. So on a 2500 cal/day diet (about what Mark Sisson consumes) that would be 16% carb. And that’s with 100g starch. IF Mercola says to cut to 25-30% it’s just inconsistent with his fawning over Rosedale because it would be hard to get over 10% eating only non-starch/non-sugar carbs.

    In any case, my point was that Rosedale diet could never even come close, and yet he gushes over how he learned his insulin physiology from him 🙁

    As to LDL particle size, I’m not really sure there’s anything definitive on that yet. Not saying it’s not, an issue, I don’t know. But is it the small LDL per se that’s the problem, or is it the metabolic state due to dysfunction (e.g. IR) that’s the problem? I say it’s probably the latter. And are there other metabolic states that are not dysfunctional that could produce the same result? Perhaps. Which transitions into my response to

    @Chris: I’ve blogged on Hellerstein’s work on the source of fatty acids in VLDL-triglycerides. They mostly come from circulating fatty acids, not DNL from dietary carb. You do have folks who over-produce trigs, but increases in trig levels when switched to a whole foods (e.g. not sugary beverages) high carb diet, trigs go up, but DNL is not the reason. For some reason VLDL clearance goes down. Are high fasting trigs then the problem per se? Or is it that IR is one (deleterious) metabolic state that manifests in high fasting trigs. The Kitivans have high trigs too, as I understand, but no CVD.

    Most of what I’m referring to I’ve yet to blog on. But it’s a combo between high carb improving insulin sensitivity and low fat minimizing damage from impaired postprandial fat clearance that is gelling in the thoughts.

    @Paul: I wasn’t questioning your rationale in PHD, I was questioning how it still seems Mercola is hopelessly wed to Rosedale yet this video could have been an ad for PHD. Rosedale seems ever more adamant that ANY dietary glucose is going to kill ya!!

  16. Hi Paul,

    I’m about 3 weeks into the PHD. I was doing VLC prior to that. I’m a non diabetic 38 year male, fit, etc.

    I’ve been testing my blood glucose after eating a meal w/ safe starches, and one hr post meal it’s between 140 and 165 pretty consistently. Without safe starches it’s usually below 100. I am eating the sweet potato or rice w/ fats (butter or coconut oil), and my fasting glucose scores are in the 80’s. In this normal or a sign that PHD may not be the best diet for me?

  17. Hi D,

    I think it’s fairly normal. I would expect as you get more adapted to starches, that your postprandial blood glucose will come down.

    To help bring it down quicker, you can try adding some vinegar or lemon juice to the starches, vegetables, and maybe cinnamon. Fermented vegetables are especially good.

    The more starches you eat, the lower your blood glucose will tend to go.

  18. Hi Carbsane:

    s to LDL particle size, I’m not really sure there’s anything definitive on that yet. Not saying it’s not, an issue, I don’t know. But is it the small LDL per se that’s the problem, or is it the metabolic state due to dysfunction (e.g. IR) that’s the problem? I say it’s probably the latter. And are there other metabolic states that are not dysfunctional that could produce the same result? Perhaps.

    As to IR, does not appear to be me. No weight issue, and according to NMR very very insulin sensitive at 18% category. Fasting BG around 80, A1c 5.4-5.6. Cut the carbs dramatically and small LDL virtually disappear. Maybe some kind of metabolic sensitivity? Spikes from carbs ala, Dr Davis? Genetic predisposition to small LDL? Who knows. Open to your thoughts on this.

    Yes, at 2500 calories you are right. Note i used 2,000 calories.

  19. Walks like a duck.

  20. @carbsane, @steven, @paul

    I’ve been measuring calorie intake recently and have found it surprisingly easy to make subtle mistakes

    One obvious error I actually think many do is confuse “100g safe starch” and “100g safe starch carbs” A good strategy might be to specifying nutrients in calories and food in gram.

  21. Hi Ole,

    That’s exactly why I use calories instead of grams, and I often use pounds instead of grams for weight, although I know that is confusing to international readers!

  22. I have a basic question. How do you know what macronutrient category to assign a food containing significant amounts of more than one macronutrient? Starches are easy, but what about eggs? Do I count a whole egg toward my protein calories or fat calories? Or do I split it according to grams of protein v. fat? Same for fatty cuts of meat like shank – protein or fat?

    I don’t mean to split hairs but I eat a lot of eggs and fatty meat!

    Thank you.

  23. OK … call me dense here, but I always took 400 calories (the lower end of PHD, actually if I understand correctly 200 cal is more the lower end for some people) of starch to equal 100g starch carbs since a gram of carb is approximately 4 calories.

    Mercola’s recs seem in line with PHD in this video. Does this video erase the article on his website? Because that article argues heavily in favor of Rosedale, and essentially had a “you could do worse than PHD” tone to it, but approach with caution. The title? Safe starches will throw your blood sugar out of whack! (shrugs)

  24. Hi CarbSane,

    He seems to have been sympathetic to PHD since first hearing it – he was positive about it after my talk – but we had a 1-hour conversation a few weeks ago and he seems more persuaded now than he was earlier.

    I would say his first article was positive to both PHD and the Rosedale Diet – look back, whenever he talked about PHD it was in a positive way – but 80% of the article was quoting Dr Rosedale disagreeing with me, so it seemed more anti-PHD than it was.

    I don’t think he is taking a strong stand, so much as he’s presenting the views of his experts, including Dr Rosedale. I think he strongly believes that low-carb and high-fat is the right way to go, and he was personally strongly influenced by Dr Rosedale and has been eating Rosedale-style for years, but I think he’s open to other views in the low-carb high-fat paradigm.

  25. He doesn’t look like he has much muscle mass. How many pullups do you think he can do?

  26. Dr. Mercola is still claiming to get the carbs, from vegetables even after agreeing on the amount of carbs but you don’t count veg. carbs. He is only squeezing in some rice for some reason.

  27. I’m confused.

    Jaminet says: “The more starches you eat, the lower your blood glucose will tend to go.”

    How? Because of more insulin? So as I understand it, the more starch you eat the more glucose spiking and the more insulin in your system. Or is there something else magical going on?

    Would this then imply eating less starch the higher blood glucose? This can’t be right.Whenever I have gone ketogenic/lower protein my blood sugar is very low and stable.

    When I read studies like this:

    …all adherents on the lower carb did better than those on the moderate carb diet in terms of all parameters including greater reductions in fasting glucose and fasting insulin (implying that insulin sensitivity improves on a low carb diet).

    Now these are diabetics but it would seem to imply that whoever has some impairment in insulin sensitivity would benefit more from lower carb.

    Also, it seems its much easier to eat less overall on a high fat diet than moderate carb one as the low carbers didn’t need to be told to eat less calories. This is a massive massive benefit in my opinion, no flaw.

    Now, I’m not trying to be argumentative I’m just becoming confused. There seems to be so much contradictory data all over the place and it’s hard to untangle this mess. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.


  28. One more thing, I think it’s erroneous to make any sweeping conclusions based on comparisons between different ethnic groups, especially rather geographically isolated (less diverse) native groups. We can’t just ignore genetic variation amongst populations. There will be different proportions of those with different metabolic characteristics in each population. Europeans are not kitivans or whatever.

    Just because the skinny guy with the skinny parents down the road can get away with eating cake and drinking beer doesn’t mean you could, and it doesn’t mean cake and beer will make you skinny, either.

  29. @gnome

    Did you read the study yourself? The supposed-low carb diet (55% of calories from carbs) used in the study is based on the GI Diet by Rick Gallop, which allows all sorts of foods not allowed in PHD.

  30. Peter,

    Yes, I did infact. I’m not comparing Rosedale’s diet to Jaminets, as I think they are both great, and both particularly low in carbohydrate. That isn’t the question.

  31. Hi gnome,

    Eating starches lowers blood glucose in healthy people, but raises blood glucose in diabetics. That study you linked was in “Eighty-four community volunteers with obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

    The other variable is ketones. As you say, when you force ketosis by going low protein and low carb then blood sugar will fall. This is a risky approach, as you need carb and protein for more purposes than just metabolism, and ketones only substitute for the metabolic functions.

    You’re right that we want a satiating diet that doesn’t produce appetite, but it’s not necessarily the case that excluding carbs is best for that. So many people have told me they have sugar or alcohol cravings on very low carb that go away when they include some safe starches.

    Genetic variation may be important, but data from every ethnic group is still helpful to have.

    Best, Paul

  32. Paul,

    My question was more *how* it’s lowering blood sugar, because we don’t want too much insulin in our system either. We want lower blood glucose and low insulin ideally, as I understand. And especially anybody with impaired insulin tolerance would benefit more from this approach.

    The other thing is, I recognise there may be some risks involved in ketosis, but there are also some tremendous benefits too. The long term health ramifications are mostly speculation. It could just as easily turn out to be the healthiest as it seems to trigger some of the mechanisms (eg. autophagy) that are responsible for prolonging life in caloric restriction.

    Thanks for the thoughtful replies and the debate, I appreciate it.

  33. Hi gnome,

    It’s fairly simple, blood glucose levels are determined more by the rate of utilization than the rate of production … higher dietary glucose leads to more utilization and therefore lower blood glucose.

    That’s in healthy people, in diabetics production is no longer regulated properly.

    I agree that ketosis itself is often beneficial. What’s damaging is carb and protein restriction. So the healthy way to achieve ketosis is via coconut oil, not via severe carb and protein restriction.

  34. Ok, I’m starting to get it. Thanks.

    So we agree that diabetics (or even prediabetics) would benefit from restricting carbs as they cannot clear the sugar properly, so it stays in the blood and harms them.

    In this case, we are talking about what is best for healthy people. In this case the only concern would be whether there is a danger to glucose spikes or not, not fasting glucose.

    And leads to an obvious question: could high glycemic load over time lead to insulin intolerance, prediabetes and ultimately diabetes II?

    By the way, here is a study I found where they put healthy (or normal, rather) people who had been eating a normal diet onto a more paleo diet (lower in carbs). Slightly lowered their blood glucose on the paleo but a marked decrease in insulin levels, which I found quite interesting.

    The reason I’m pushing this debate a bit further is that I think a lot of people are now confused and would benefit from clearing some things up.

  35. Want to Lose Weight Fast - pingback on March 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm
  36. Great Video from Dr Mercola | Weight Loss Secrets - pingback on November 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm
  37. I know this is an older post but hope I can get an answer…just looking at this stuff tonight and see that the diet says about 1 lb. of protein per day…is that right? 1 lb. of starchy vegetables and 1 lb. of green vegetables…like 2 lbs. in all? Can someone give me a more clear understanding? Maybe someone can give me a typical menu that would be eaten in one day. I don’t know if I could eat 1 lb. of protein a day. Also, I am hypothyroid and overweight.

  38. Dear Paul,
    Do you still believe that too low carb can lead to cancer? I just seen a New interview with Dr. Rosedale today and he seems to be pushing very low protein, no carb more than ever before. Do you think this kind of diet is still a bad idea? I think he is more anti protein now than he was before as well, do you think protein is bad at about 100 to 130 grams a day??

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