T Nation

80% Carbs vs 80% Fat + 20% Protein


I just read a few articles and studies that show that a 80-20 (approx) diet of fat/protein with minimal carbohydrates, is feasible as long as there are enough minerals (sodium,patassium) in the diet.

I have a couple of questions:

First, what would the very long term effects of such a diet be? As the Inuit people were the last present to survice on such diets, did they live longer? Did they approach old age better (eg less dementia or osteoporosis or other age-related maladies)?

Second, farming has been around for at least 4,000 years and it is safe to say that 80 fat / 20 protein diet would exist only in very remore areas of the planet with no vegetation to provide ready sources of carbohydrates. If this is the case, why even consider such diets?

Third, from a general food-intolerance point of view, would the carbohydrate rich diets be the source of intolerances? Battling with moderate food intolerance myself, I have visited forums where sufferers describe their symptoms, eg wheat, gluten, lactose, tomatoes! and so on, but I have not seen anyone yet complaining about "meat" intolerance, for example "I ate this stake and had to run for the toilet". Could there be a link that we (humans) are not really meant to inject the huge quantities of fruit and vegetables that we do?


I'm guessing you read studies by Pitsiladis and Phinney.

I'll be back later.

I don't know how to fit fruits into syringes.


Why would you assume that a diet adapted for the most inhospitable inhabitable region of the planet would be appropriate for general human health? Why would that diet in any way, shape or form speak to what is healthiest for the general population?

Do you not think that the extremely nutrient dense fats that arctic circle dwellers eat might have something to do with their ability to survive (well) on such high fat diets? You got a source on whale, walrus and seal?


Bricknyce. Calling Bricknyce...


I meant to say "injest" not "inject". Sorry for the typo.


Ingest, my friend. Ingest.


you could survive on it but i bet youll feel n look like shit


"Did they approach old age better (eg less dementia or osteoporosis or other age-related maladies)?"

I don't know, but Amerindian peoples are sure prone to overweight and diabetes.


Carbs aren't necessary for survival.


You can't compare the two.

Many indigenous peoples show huge rates of obesity, hypertension and diabetes when following "typical western" diets. There has been some good research done in Papua New Guinea regarding diabetes rates as compared between islanders who have stayed native and those who have moved to cities. The second group tends to have dramatically higher rates of all nutrition related comorbidities.


The belief is that this has something to do with "thrifty genes" in regards to fat storage. For people with this genotype the prevalence of calorically dense, cheap foods is pretty much a gaurantee of nutrition related disease.

The diet of arctic circle dwellers is atypical of indigenous populations as the sort of gatherer/agriculturalist food patterns that austronesians, american indians etc. practiced (and still practice in some cases) are not possible at high degrees of latitude.

The 80% fat diet would be very specific to people who primarily get calories from whales, seals, fish and caribou and reindeer where available with little to no carbohydrate intake whatsoever.

This is opposed to more typical mid and low latitude indigenous groups who eat a variety of staple foods including game, tubers, fruit and some vegetables. Typical indigenous diets in all cases are probably lower in calories than modern western diets. Neither example display obesity comorbidities in high numbers without access to cheap, modern diets.

The 80% fat diet works very well for the small groups of people that practice it. They do so eating foods that are completely unavailable, often due to legal restrictions outside of the arctic circle (whale blubber anyone?). Their traditional foods are not only high in fat but very high in vitamins and minerals, and while calorically dense are limited in total availability. Those people are also genetically adapted to a very specialized diet.


Also, please show me evidence that humans ingest huge quantities of fruits and vegetables at all. If by vegetables you mean refined corn based products and by fruit you mean fruit juice you might be on to something, otherwise I don't know anyone who eats "huge quantities" of fruits and veggies and suffers health wise for it.


I'd think today, the proportion of vegetables and fruit to meat would be over 50% (eg at a dinner table you'd have bread, pastries, pies, salads, boiled/fried vegetables and fruit outside of meat).

However, even on a mild climate like say Southern europe, "game" would be very much easier to get to than fruit and veg. You could roam for miles and not come across any fruit tress at all, but you'd find lots of animals you could theoretically eat.

I am talking about thousands of years ago, before humans would cultivate their own land (and try to protect their fields from invaders), and before they would harvest, store, and trasport goods for trade from one region to another, I would suppose their diet would be mainly meat. I have not studied this, but from what I have seen there are vast areas of "countryside" with no fruit trees or "berries" or veg growing naturally that someone would simply live on by "gathering".

If those ancestors evolved and lived mainly on meat then all the stuff they are telling us these days about consuming "5 portions a day of fruit and veg" must be wrong.


Well wheat, oats, corn, soya are major constituents in our diets today. On top we have salads, vegetables and fruit. I believe this represents easily over 50% of our diet.

As I said above people complain about food intolerances (indigestion, flutulence, diarrhoeas, cramps, mal-digestion) and it is always starch, wheat, gluten, lactose, vegetables (eg tomatoes, peppers) and so far I have not heard anyone complaining about an intolerance to meat (I do not mean processed meats containing other ingredients).

I think, that if I were to follow a 100% meat diet (not processed meat) my IBS symptoms would disappear.


1) Most people do not refer to processed cereal grains as vegetables. They refer to them as grains. They are primarily a source of carbohydrates and fiber. Vegetables tends to refer to the green and growing parts of plants or the less sweet fruits of some plants, vegetables are typically lower in carbohydrates than cereal grains and are often good sources of fiber and water soluable vitamins. It sounds like you don't actually eat many vegetables at all, you should probably change that.

2) You understand that Southern Europe looks NOTHING like it did in pre modern times right? Your own country was once covered by huge forests and is now covered in huge pastures. Pre modern peoples derived the largest portion of their diet from starchy tubers with meat, fruit, vegetables and maybe even cereal grains and non meat animal products making up the rest.

Additionally, yes, even paleolithic people did (and do) farm plant foods and were always engaged in trade with other groups which included trade in food. Generally the study of ancient peoples is not conducted by looking at a modern landscape and going "huh, I wonder what a caveman could have eaten here", you're talking apples and ducks.

3) If this is about IBS you need to try an ellimination diet. Google is your friend, but basically reduce your diet down to a few largely non allergenic foods (chicken and rice is a common combination). Eat this way for a prolonged period of time (4-6 weeks) and observe your symptoms. If your symptoms decrease and stabilize add in other food items (NOT ALL AT ONCE) and observe your symptoms.

Many people find that IBS symptoms are caused by cereal grains, especially wheat and wheat like grains. Others trace the problem to eggs, onions, nuts, milk etc. etc. etc. No way to know what triggers your symptoms without you actually experimenting with your diet. I personally got rid of my IBS symptoms by eating more vegetables, less sugar and less cereal grains. Many others do as well.


Also, reducing your entire calloric intake or spreading it out over more, smaller meals can aid in digestion and reduce IBS symptoms. Stress can be a major factor in IBS symptoms as well, look into that.


All true. I didn't go on about the movement of or change in eating behavior of Amerindian people--partially because I became exhausted yesterday after a lazy staycation day of lying around, texting, and posting on T-mag about the minutia of nutrition.


No worries, I figured that would all make sense to you. I'm just a nerd for pre historic civilizations, paleo anthropolgy, indigenous movements etc. This food stuff (especially the diabetes issue) is of huge importance as docs are seeing a meteoric rise in comorbidities among people who until very reccently had <1% diabetes risk factors.


Dude, if your diet is 80% anything, you're probably doing it wrong.


This is what I was thinking. Can't think of a way to make it work.