T Nation

Antinutrients and Glycoalkaloids

After reading through some of the controversial views of Mercola and Art De Vany, I looked into their claims a bit, namely that grains and potatoes are bad for you.

There’s Art De Vany telling readers to completely cut out: “candy, desserts, rice, beans, pasta, bread, potatoes, soft drinks, juice, cereal and packaged foods.”

Mercola echoed this when he appears to almost shit himself in fear or potatoes and grains, advising that one would be better to eat ~4 lbs of veggies a day instead.

After looking into it, I noticed the grains and potatoes issue was a divided one; one side will claim grains are healthful and full of fiber (if unprocessed), and others point out the antinurtients that impede digestion and nutrient uptake. Supposedly they’re also present in legumes.

Then there’s the toxins, glycoalkaloids, in potatoes that are harmful to humans as they are not destroyed by cooking.

My question is, are antinutrients and glycoalkaloids really such an issue that they warrant cutting out an entire food group like these self-proclaimed experts suggest, or am I right in the assumption that they’re overreacting a bit?

You are correct.

Those two are experts in the art of creating a problem and providing a solution.

Especialy when the solutions they provide are expensive, and available exclusively through them or a subsidiary.

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:
You are correct.

Those two are experts in the art of creating a problem and providing a solution.

Especialy when the solutions they provide are expensive, and available exclusively through them or a subsidiary.


Yeah, I thought they weren’t giving the human body enough credit. First, one will go off on how complex and adaptable the human body is; and then continue to rant that it cannot handle grains.

Now, obviously excess grains or potatoes - or ANYTHING for that matter - may pose a problem. But that’s common sense, right? But hey, thanks for the input.

Anybody else?

I follow DeVany’s way of eating.

Tried the warrior diet, a balanced carb/protein/fat, high carb and low fat, paleolithic, and anabolic diet.

Anabolic diet was only for two weeks to tone up. Too short to say, how good of a diet it was long term. But my lifts went down right away on the shift to lower carbs and picked up in te second week after the carbup weekend. Suspect the third week in, would have been normal. I did lose some fat, visibly and look bigger.

High carb has only resulted in me putting on fat and has not imrproved my lifts as well as makes me feel bloated and fucks up my energy. I find this consistently, have tried it out for a few weeks at a time over the last few ears as well as grew up eating this way.

Warrior diet was a three month or so go where I followed it pretty strictly. Dropped a lot of weight and my lifts did not improve. Funny enouhg, the fasting helped with concentration at school.

Balanced is a better bet than high carb, low fat. Low fat just makes me hungry.
I got to be my heaviest eating this way. 170 pounds, when I started lifting at 1bout 115-120.

Paleo keeps me between 145-160 pounds depending on training. I’m doing quattro dynamo by Chad Waturbery again. When I hit 170 on a balanced diet, I was doing CW’s QD for maybe three cycles or so. Not sure whether to attribute the gain in weight to the training or diet or combination of.

But eating paleo with occasional fasting. That’s occasional. Anyone wo tells you occasional fasting(1ce a week) makes them lose muscle is full of shit, btw, or maybe i’m an exception. I don’t care what the science is, try it before you knock it.

I pack on the calories with a lot of fat. Butter, several kinds of nuts, olive oil, lots and lots of egs, fish.

Alcohol as well, tends to add calories without making me fat. But I don’t drink many drinks at once, more 2 with lunch, 2 with dinner type of deal and don’t drink daily. But it ads calories. Art also drinks a bit.

My energy is up as well, and I’m leaner than ever, but my mass isn’t as high as it could be. Just started quatro dynamo eating paloe Monday Oct 23, so should see if it is more training than diet.

I don’t train the way DeVany does, btw. Influences on my training are more Dan John and JV Askem and Chad Waturbery.

I would say try the paleo type of diet from devany or weston price or loren cordain. Give it a month or two of dedication to see if it works for you.

On potatoes and grains, I find that wheat makes me gassy, so I avoid it. I do alright with this other grain… forgot it’s name lol.

I generally don’t get a sense of wellbeing from consuming large quantities (for me, that’s more than 1 bagel in a day) of refined foods or potatoes/grains. Might be placebo, you never know, but in any case, I don’t feel good eating them, so I don’t eat them.

Intersting also, is that when I was doing my balanced diet, I was not eating refined foods, but was packing on potatoes, legumes, grains, dried fruit and honey.


All DeVany has out is one chapter of his evolutionary fitness book, runnig at ten dollars a copy.

His oringal essay is free, as well as a document entitled why we get fat.

The rest of his blog info is also free and searchable and archived.

Where does he benefit financially from craeting a problema nd offering a solution to it?

I mean, he has bene providing free info for a long time and as it stands, the only revenue I know he has gotten from it is the few people who bought chapter 1, where many people are waiting for the entire book to come out.


[quote]SkyzykS wrote:
You are correct.

Those two are experts in the art of creating a problem and providing a solution.

Especialy when the solutions they provide are expensive, and available exclusively through them or a subsidiary.


[quote]101101 wrote:
Now, obviously excess grains or potatoes - or ANYTHING for that matter - may pose a problem. But that’s common sense, right? But hey, thanks for the input.

Anybody else?

some people like me are allergic to wheat and other cereals. for me excess wheat intake is anything above 0. if i take in any, then within an hour or two i will have an eczema attack. the more i take, the more severe and longer before it heals.

a strength athlete i work with handles grains (and all carbs for that matter) very well, in fact when his performance drops whenever he doesn’t get enough carbs. yet he is able to stay very lean and does not use hormones. cardio is nil.

a female endurance athlete i work with eats no carbs other than fruit and non-starchy veggies outside of the periworkout period. her metabolism uses fat for energy very well and she recovers faster on the higher fat diet, not that protein is low. also feels better, has nicer skin, hair, etc.

now, how does this jive with some of the expert recommendations of T-Nation writers?

charles has written many times on how about 25% of his athletes are carb and wheat tolerant and the rest usually are not. most of the time when he makes recommendations it is low carb because that is the way most of his clients can optimize their results. also, i suspect that charles is a low carb type.

john is in the middle of the road, advising real, unprocessed food, balance between macronutrients, balance within fatty acids, and consumption patterns that prevent one from eating anything with significant carb/sugar levels except periworkout. he adjusts recommendations from here.

similar to john, just with slightly different carb consumption patterns.

so we have poliquin roughly in the anti-grains corner, john somewhere in the middle, and Lonnie in the opposing corner. should make for a good three way chair match, but alas no. if my two clients mentioned above were to go see these experts, i am pretty sure that they would end up with a similar diet in the end.


the writings reflect the approaches of the writers, but it does not mean that they would not come to the same conclusion. if adjustment needs to take place, then charles can ramp up carbs, Lonnie can cut or shift them, and john is in the middle, so he can go both ways. less important is the starting point, its where they end up after working with the client and constantly adjusting the diet to find the optimal for that client at that given time.

important to note is that usually even the starting diet is far superior to the client’s previous one even if no individualization has taken place. simply put, most people eat like shit, high level athletes included.

if one is looking to take info from the experts, one must realize that there is a wider variety of recommendations when they have data regarding your progress. the articles are not necessary for everyone, they are written with a specific topic or target client in mind.

as for the fear merchants like mercola, two points, as MDs they are not over charging at $500/hr. they can make the same writing scripts, so a little theater borrowed from religion (the you’re gonna die, so do this part) can be benign unless the client is a hypochondriac. also, the people who are grain or cereal adapted usually will be less likely to be fat etc, and thus less likely to be looking for advice on how to not be that way, so there are also market forces that reward extremism and we end up where we now are.

It’s not so much of a “are carbs OK or not OK?” question; which the discussion is still currently interesting it’s more of what’s contained in two sources of carbs.

After reading some writing from Art De Vany and some from Mercola, both are opposed to eating bread and potatoes. Art is also against legumes.

So, I saw some brief reasoning of why that I won’t go into because my main point is what my own searches found: Potatoes contain toxins, glycoalkaloids, and bread contains antinutrients, which inhibit the uptake of minerals, etc. found in the food. So potatoes appear to be poisonous, and bread appears to impede digestion.

Both of those I recall were mentioned. My question: are they really that big of a deal? Are they really so bad that one must refrain from eating potatoes or bread entirely as to avoid ingesting glycoalkaloids, etc.?

My own thoughts are no; neither should obvioulsy be eaten in excess, and when eating unrefined (or as close to it as possible) bread and potatoes, as long as you’re also eating vegetables, and not making those a main staple of the diet that one will be OK.

What I’m wondering is if someone disagrees and believes they’re just downright horrible foods, or if they agree and have something else to add.

I agree with a ballanced approach. Eliminating entire groups of foods because they contain a certain substance that could be interpreted as harmfull is absurd, and would lead to the elimination of all foods.

There is nothing on earth that is entirely “good” or that doesn’t contain something that Could be considered harmfull.

It is a kernel of truth wrapped in a mountain of hyperbole and speculation that suggests eliminating entire food groups.

Some of this outlandishness also serves a second purpose. It has been observed that in the indoctrination process to groups and cults that the sacrafices made to be part of a group actualy reinforce allegiance to that group.
By placing some rigid criteria on inclusion, a merchant is garaunteeing that the customers are very attatched to these products and services. Hence a cultlike following and customer base, which Mercola and DeVaney are known for.