FAQs: CC Diets

  1. Is the CC diet approach just a reissuing of the Heller’s Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet?

    The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet of the Hellers, and their approach to the diet, differ from the (non-profit) Carbohydrate Concentration Diet approach in a number of ways. The Hellers focused on helping Carbohydrate “addicts” rather than on the entire population. And the Carbohydrate Concentration Diet is more general in not requiring that carbohydrates be eaten at one meal, or within one hour, as the Hellers’ diet requires. Thus the CC diet can incorporate, for example, the Herring Fast-5 diet which urges that all carbs be eaten within a fixed five hours.

    Of special importance, the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet of the Heller’s originated through their perception that they themselves were carbohydrate addicts and their conviction that other addicts like themselves would benefit from the diet. The Carbohydrate Concentration approach, by contrast, originated through the perception of Jeremy J. Stone that a successful weight-loss diet he had fallen into of eating one large meal a day (plus a snack) had close links to the very positive scientific results of eight decades on caloric restriction and intermittent fasting of mammals and the more recent scientific investigations into autophagy.

    Accordingly, the Catalytic Longevity website, incorporating the important work of Mark McCarty, explores and documents the effects of this diet on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and the like, through a mining of relevant scientific research.

    But the Addict’s diet has been cited repeatedly and positively in this work. And readers are encouraged to visit www.carbohydrateaddicts.com, to learn from it, and to purchase and learn from the Hellers’ books.


  2. What can I take with a carb-rich meal that could decrease the post-meal elevations in both glucose and insulin?

    A more uniformly beneficial strategy that CC dieters can use to minimize the effective glycemic index of carb-rich meals is to include factors such as soluble fiber, vinegar, or almonds. These have the potential to suppress meal-induced increases in both glucose and insulin. How these work to achieve this benefit is still not entirely clear, but the current scientific literature offers some clues. Soluble fiber forms a dense meshwork that slows the interaction between starch and the key digestive enzyme which degrades it, amylase. The acetic acid in vinegar appears to decrease the activity of enzymes (disaccharidases) in the intestinal lining required for full digestion and absorption of starch and sucrose. Substituting modest amounts of almonds for carbohydrate intake of equal caloric value is associated with a large reduction in daily insulin secretion — up to a third — that is clearly disproportionate to the reduction in carb intake; why almonds are so effective in this regard remains mysterious.

    More scientific detail →


  3. Does combining my carbohydrates with protein or fat dilute the glycemic index of the carbohydrates and lower the effective blood sugar rise?

    Ingestion of protein and of fat (especially monounsaturated fat) along with carb-rich foods often does indeed blunt the post-meal rise in blood glucose, effectively lowering the glycemic index of the meal. This appears to reflect increased production of certain hormones, produced by cells in the intestinal tract, that act on the pancreatic beta cells to boost the insulin response to absorbed glucose. These hormones can also slow the emptying of the stomach into the upper intestine, possibly decreasing the effective glycemic index of food still remaining in the stomach. These hormones also promote satiety — which helps to explain why meals containing protein or fat tend to be more satisfying than meals of pure carbohydrate. The downside of this mechanism is that, whereas it helps to restrain the post-meal rise in glucose, it accomplishes this mainly by boosting insulin secretion — which rather misses the point if your goal in CC dieting is to minimize your daily insulin levels. Nonetheless, moderating postmeal rises in glucose is inherently beneficial for diabetics, and may also aid in diabetes prevention. More scientific detail →


  4. When I eat carbohydrates to excess in a day and develop higher insulin and glucose levels, does this produce a short-term increase in weight — and what is the nature and permanence of this weight gain?

    If you gain a couple of pounds because of a day of indulgence, it’s not primarily fat weight you have gained, but rather water weight. Increases in blood insulin levels act on the kidneys to boost the retention of sodium and chloride; if you are eating a salted diet, as most of us do, this will be associated with some temporary fluid retention. Once you get back on your CC regimen, and your insulin goes down, you will readily get rid of that sodium and water, and your weight will be back down. Don’t become too distressed or elated about temporary small variations in your weight — just try to stick with the program as best you can. If you succeed most of the time, you should do well.


  5. Is this a brittle diet that I must follow carefully; what harm will result if, for example, I drop off the diet for a weekend or a week?

    Aside from a trivial weight gain if you “fall off the wagon” for a number of consecutive days, there should be no meaningful long-term adverse consequences to your weight or your health from occasional short-term lapses. In fact, even if your standard practice is to do a CC diet only several days a week, this likely will aid your weight control and improve your risk factors, even if you won’t gain the calorie-restriction and lifespan extension benefits achieved by more dedicated adherents. Realistically, because of travel or social commitments, most people will depart from their dietary ideals now and then — don’t be too hard on yourself. Lapsing for a few days or even weeks won’t reverse the health benefits earned by previous months or years of dedication. Bear in mind that elderly Okinawans are still enjoying significant lifespan extension, even though most of them haven’t been calorie restricted since the 1970s.


  6. Besides a Carb Concentrated Diet, what else do you recommend if it is not contraindicated by your condition or contradicted by your doctor?

    A baby aspirin a day; medium chain triglycerides, supplements (discussed below), stress reduction and low salt.


  7. Why haven’t I heard more about Carb Concentration diets?

    This formulation has just begun to be circulated. But millions of people bought the Hellers’ books, so a lot of people have heard about a special case of them. Unfortunately, the Hellers have never published their clinical experience in formal scientific papers, so the medical profession knows little about this strategy. They did do a comparison study that looked at how people did when carbs were split over 3 meals or eaten in one meal; the CC dieter were much more successful at achieving weight loss. But for whatever reason this isn’t in the medical literature. Other than that, the Hellers have years of experience in helping overweight people get leaner and healthier, but the medical authorities tend to deride this as “anecdotal experience”. If CC diets are ever to gain greater respect from “the powers that be”, doctors need to be encouraged to try CC diets with their patients, and to publish their clinical experience in medical journals. We hope to encourage this. And scientists investigating practical life extension strategies ought to take a serious look at CC diets too. But especially important in the CC approach is the link deduced in the above paper between CC diets and caloric restriction dieting experiments. This plus links to autophagy and hormesis suggest that diets with long windows of low insulin should be very promising.


  8. I’m a vegetarian because I love animals and I’m worried about global warming. Could a CC diet work for me?

    Sure, because a CC diet does not need to be a low-carb diet. You can eat all your favorite foods in your major daily meal. For your subsidiary meal, you can have low-carb plant foods like green salads, nuts, and soy products.


  9. The Hellers say that eating carbs with three meals daily is bad for weight control. Then why did the Japanese stay so lean on their traditional diet that is about 80% carbs — mostly high-glycemic-index white rice?

    If all your life your diet has been extremely low in fat, you’re not likely to ever get fat. That’s because almost all of the fatty acids in our bodies come from the fat in our diet. But that isn’t very relevant to what most Americans face — they’ve already gotten fat by eating diets rich in both fat and in high-glycemic index carbs, which have prevented that fat from being burned. Clinical studies show that moderately reducing dietary fat while keeping carb intake high just isn’t very effective for achieving meaningful weight loss. Diets very severely restricted in fat — like the Pritikin diet — work somewhat better, if accompanied by exercise — but most people find them unappealing and won’t stick with them. Diets that promote fat burning either by keeping total carb intake low, or by restricting significant carb intake to a single meal, seem to work better for most people.


  10. Will you have enough energy to do effective exercise on a CC diet? I tried an Atkins diet once, but I just didn’t feel much like exercising when I was on it.

    That’s not uncommon. Studies show that people on low-carb diets tend to be less motivated to do aerobic exercise, probably because their liver glycogen stores are very low. (When runners run out of glycogen, they “hit the wall”.) But a CC diet is not necessarily low carb — in fact, you can eat a lot of carbs with your daily “reward meal” — enough to fill your liver glycogen stores. So if you want to do lots of aerobics with a CC diet, just make sure you eat a lot of carbs when permitted to. Note that the Hellers strongly recommend exercise with their regimen. This helps to burn more fat, and also promotes muscle insulin sensitivity, so that your daily insulin secretion will be even lower.


  11. If a person eats three meals a day and no snacks, his insulin will be at or near fasting levels for about 18 hours a day. Why is a few less hours a day of elevated insulin with CC diets so important?

    Two points here. It’s not just the total number of hours, but the number of consecutive hours of low insulin that may be the key factor. The physiological adaptations that protect animals that are calorically restricted probably don’t happen instantly as soon as insulin goes down. It may take a number of hours for them to rev up. With a CC diet, if your subsidiary meals release only a little insulin, your insulin will be low or relatively low for about 20 hours consecutively. That gives low insulin a lot of time to act on your system.

    Another point is that when people scatter meals rich in high-glycemic index carbs throughout the day, this can cause wild swings in blood sugar that trigger hunger and cravings in some people, making it hard for them to control their food intake and keep their weight down. That’s probably why the Heller’s diet works well for people whom they describe as “carb addicted”.


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