Inflammation: Which Foods Take the Blame?

Caveman Doctor has been a follower of a Caveman/Paleo diet for quite some time now (a couple million years) and after the advent of reading, writing, and the internet, there has been a wealth of material published on inflammation, avoiding inflammation, and eating foods that fight inflammation. Caveman Doctor has always assumed that the foods he ate fought inflammation (why else would nature provide him with them?). However, he was recently writing up a diet protocol for his cancer patients in which they undergo a low-carbohydrate diet during treatment. One of the nutritionists asked Caveman Doctor how he was going to explain feeding people saturated fat instead of carbohydrates. He replied “with scientific data”. The nutritionist then told Caveman Doctor that the big issue with saturated fats is that they cause inflammation, and Caveman Doc would have to answer to his critics when they brought this up. So does saturated fat cause inflammation and does Caveman Doctor have some explaining to do?


Which Are Inflammatory: Fats or Carbohydrates?

The benefit of avoiding inflammation (and defending against it with antioxidants) is a recurring theme on this site. Inflammation is a hallmark of disease, ranging from damage to arteries, cancer, and a decreased immune system.
It also seems like everywhere you look nowadays, someone is blaming foods for being inflammatory. The low-carbers and Paleo/modern cavemen often put the blame on carbs, especially grains and sugar, while the conventional low-fat dieters throw the blame on fat. It’s interesting that the dietician above immediately pointed to saturated fat as the main cause of inflammation, while cancer patients often consume massive amounts of simple sugars in an effort to “keep weight” and nobody bats an eye. It seems like fat causes a knee-jerk negative reaction, while simple carbohydrates elicit much less emotion. So which side is right?

First Up: The Postprandial Studies

A large amount of studies exist looking at food and inflammation immediately after eating (the postprandial state: post = after, prandial = eating). Most take blood from participants at certain time intervals after a meal. The studies are plentiful, and running through them all would serve no real purpose other than supplying you with a good method to fall asleep.

However, here are three prime examples:


  1. Saturated Fat/Protein: A group of scientists looked at a high saturated fat or protein (casein) meal and found that they both caused inflammation1. Of note, there is a significant amount of literature showing casein protein to be inflammatory and Caveman Doctor goes for whey instead.
  2. Glucose: The same group looked at blood samples in participants after consuming pure glucose. Participants experienced an increase in reactive oxidative species or ROS generation and amount of ROS, and a decrease in the body’s defense of free radicals with lower alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) levels2. ROS are oxidative compounds that damage cells.
  3. Mixed: A third study by this group fed participants egg-muffin and sausage-muffin sandwiches and 2 hash browns (81 g carbohydrate, 51 g fat, and 32 g protein), which (surprise, surprise) caused an increase in inflammation3. Let’s just ignore the fact that they fed them muffin sandwiches for the sake of the argument.


In conclusion, immediately after consumption:


  1. Glucose causes inflammation
  2. Fats cause inflammation
  3. Protein and fats cause inflammation
  4. As is the case often in the field of nutrition, there are studies that support any conclusion you want to make about food and inflammation.


The results of these studies lead us to two possible conclusions:


  1. All food except for air causes inflammation, and air probably does too (from its oxygen content…).
  2. All food can be shown to cause a transient increase in inflammation depending on your experimental constraints and we need to look at long-term studies.

Perhaps basically any food is going to cause a transient rise in inflammation, especially because nearly all food contains a small amount of bacteria and is a foreign element entering the body. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at number 2 and review some long-term studies.

Next Up: Do Population Studies Give Us More Insight?

Next up the ladder are studies following cohorts of people to see what associations exist with carbohydrates, fat, and inflammation. While these studies are generally fraught with error and one must be cautious with any large conclusions, they at least give us some hypothesis generation.

More Complex Carbs and Inflammation:


  1. A Dutch group and the group at Harvard looked at 18,000 women with food questionnaires (which are a horrendous method as discussed here), but it’s still at least worth giving it a look. Their results showed that as we move from low to high glycemic index carbohydrates (like bread and simple sugars) more inflammation and CRP is produced4,5.
  2. A similar study showed that high fiber intake (which slows digestion and blunts insulin release) appeared to lower TNF and IL-6 markers of inflammation, but had no effect on CRP6.
  3. Another study compared carbohydrates sources and found that wheat, potatoes, and oats actually up-regulated inflammatory genes7, while switching to carbohydrates with lower glycemic loads (which cause less insulin release) apparently reduces CRP8.
  4. As a side note, similar studies have showed that omega-3 fats were found to decrease CRP and inflammation9 and raise anti-inflammatory markers in the serum10.

The results are interesting, but not surprising. The negative health effects of simple sugars are more universally accepted by both ends of the nutritional science spectrum these days. It’s interesting to note that most of these studies were all looking at consuming different types of carbohydrates, and it appears that the further we hedge from foods that increase insulin (higher glycemic index), the less inflammation we cause.

The obvious questions that come to mind:


  1. Do only simple carbs cause inflammation or are all carbs pro-inflammatory?
  2. What happens when we limit all foods that increase insulin?
  3. What happens when we go on low-carb diets?”


We can scratch the surface by looking at the other factors involved, like obesity and insulin resistance.

There are clearly many other factors involved, and narrowing it down simply to carbs or fat as the cause of inflammation is difficult. Other studies examined fat tissue in patients and found that inflammation was actually proportional to insulin sensitivity,11,12 and population studies made similar conclusions,13 putting the onus back on insulin and carbohydrates. This makes sense, as carbs directly affect insulin levels in our body. Studies have also shown that having high liver fat content is also associated with increased inflammation. Interestingly, there is ample data showing that a low-carbohydrate diet decreases liver fat content14. We also already know that CLA, a fat found in products from ruminant animals, like cows, is an anti-inflammatory compound.

What Does Metabolic Syndrome Have to Do with Inflammation?

When fed a high load of carbohydrates resulting in spikes in blood sugar, our bodies secrete insulin. If insulin levels remain excessively high for too long of a period, our body eventual becomes insulin resistant. If severe enough, this can lead to diabetes and eventually the need for medical insulin replacement.

During insulin resistance, the following happens:


  1. Fat cells convert to storage mode instead of burning fat
  2. Fat accumulation and weight gain occurs (starting centrally in the belly)
  3. Fat in the liver builds up (as it turns blood sugar into fat)
  4. Serum triglycerides increase (related to the liver)
  5. “Good” HDL decreases
  6. Blood pressure rises

These all happen to also be components of the metabolic syndrome. However, number seven not from the list above happens next: inflammation. The stress placed on our body from these insults creates a chronic stress, just like as we defined in Stress: The Basics, which we know results in an improper immune system response, and ultimately, inflammation. This is why scientists found that increased consumption of refined sugars and starches independently predicted for a greater risk of inflammatory death.15 This entire process of several diseases is driven by insulin.
Other work puts the cross-hairs back on carbohydrates as it shows that high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) after a meal is related to inflammation and oxidative stress.16 Even PET scans, which measure inflammation, have shown increased amounts in the arteries of patients with impaired glucose tolerance and in diabetics,17 both of which have high levels of serum glucose and insulin.

How Do These Studies Apply to Modern Cavemen?

The elephant in the room for most readers of this site is the question of who were the patients in these studies. I recently had a long conversation with my good friend and former college roommate Cliff Hodges, who runs Crossfit West in Santa Cruz. We were discussing how we often feel that some labs and lab values barely apply to modern cavemen. If you follow a Caveman/Paleo diet and lifestyle, you are likely healthier than 99.9% of the population out there and you also eat a relatively low-carbohydrate diet, so none of these studies may pertain to you. Paleo dieters and modern cavemen may need to view a different set of studies to take place in a cohort of people who follow these diets, but I am not going to hold my breath for that to happen.

What Actually Happens When a Person Eats a Low-carbohydrate Caveman/Paleo-type Diet?

We know that carbohydrates increase insulin, the root of all evil when it comes to dieting and health, and rises in insulin lead to weight gain and a plethora of chronic diseases. But do carbohydrates lead to our other enemy, inflammation?
If you ask this to most doctors, dietitians, and health professionals, the answer would be we just don’t have the data (I know this because I asked doctors, dietitians, and health professionals).
Well luckily this isn’t the case, and we have people like Dr. Jeff Volek who has produced some well-designed low-carbohydrate studies. His team placed 40 overweight men and women on a low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet for 12 weeks. Of course the low-carbers lost significant weight (as they nearly always do in randomized studies). However, six markers of inflammation, including TNF and IL-6 (2 of our favorites) underwent a greater decrease in the low-carb dieters compared to the low-fat group.18
His group also showed, in a randomized-controlled trial, that a low-carbohydrate diet increases insulin sensitivity by 55%.19 In this study they also looked at 16 biomarkers of inflammation, and every single one decreased. Six of these were significantly lower than the low-fat, high-carb diet (which showed no benefit in any of the 16 markers).
Another six-month study compared a low-carb and low-fat diet and found that the low-carb diet significantly lowered CRP in high risk patients20.
However, Dr. Volek and his group also looked at retinol binding protein-4 (RBP4), which is a recently identified inflammatory adipokine. They found that a low-carbohydrate diet lowered RBP4 levels by 20%, while a low-fat diet increased them by 5%.19 Marker levels correlated with carbohydrate amount consumed.

The long-term, randomized trials provide us with level 1 evidence that it’s highly likely that carbohydrates, and not fat, cause inflammation.


Does Saturated Fat Even Matter If You Are Low-Carb?

A controversial study looked at slightly increased saturated fat versus monounsaturated fat (like olive oil) in overweight subjects. They found that the saturated fat expressed more genes that regulate inflammation.21 However, this fat was given with a high carbohydrate diet, which we know results in high levels of insulin to overweight patients, with a slew of other health problems, so these results do not add much clarity. This, of course, is ignoring the fact that saturated fats should in theory introduce less oxidation and inflammation into the body, since, unlike unsaturated fats, it will have much less space for free radicals to bind since it’s backbone is saturated with no double bonds (see here for a longer description).
Dr. Volek’s group also looked at whether the amount of saturated fat we eat on a low-carb diet actually ends up floating around in our blood. In his study, he compared the blood levels of saturated fat in two low-carb diet groups, one eating double the amount of saturated fat versus the other.22 When he looked at the serum levels of saturated fat in the participants, there was no difference. Why did this happen? Likely, when there is no insulin around because there are no carbs around to stimulate it, we breakdown the saturated fat and use it for energy. The study by this group mentioned above18 found that the low-carb group ate three times the saturated fat as the low-fat group, but was found to have less saturated fats circulating in the blood. If insulin isn’t present, our fat cells turn off fat production and turn on lipolysis (fat breakdown).

Perhaps regardless of whether saturated fats are inflammatory or not, if consumed in the presence of a low-carbohydrate caveman-like diet, it may not even matter.

Dr. Volek summed it up quite nicely with his quote:

“This clearly shows the limitations of the idea that ‘you are what you eat’. Metabolism plays a big role. You are what your body does with what you eat.”23


Obesity and Insulin Resistance

One final point to note is how inflammation plays out in obese versus fit modern cavemen. Fat cells (adipocytes) in the face of insulin resistance create adipokines, which are inflammatory mediators like TNF, IL-6 the same inflammatory markers that are increased from stress. While these are present in insulin resistance, they also cause further elevated levels of blood sugar, creating a difficult cycle of high blood sugar and inflammation.24 This pattern, part of the infamous metabolic syndrome, is effectively and efficiently corrected through a low-carbohydrate diet, but for some apparent reason our health “leaders” try fixing the problem of too much sugar and insulin with, well, more sugar and insulin.
This is when things start to get a little interesting. When obese and non-obese participants were given a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal, and inflammatory free radicals were measured at several time intervals afterwards, measurement of free radicals returned to normal in the non-obese group, but remained high after three hours in the obese participants.25 This data revisits the issue with applying these studies to lean modern caveman: perhaps in the short term, inflammation isn’t a factor of what eat, as long as we are normal weight?
Addressing this issue, another study put 29 obese patients on a very low-calorie diet (starving them at 800 calories per day) and compared their gene expression with that of non-obese subjects, before and after 28 days of intense weight loss. After the patients lost significant amounts of weight and fat tissue, they exhibited both a decrease in inflammatory gene markers, as well as an increase in anti-inflammatory molecules resembling that of the non-obese group.26 Interestingly, as most of the inflammatory-causing genes are expressed in adipose tissue, this study seems to point more towards overall weight as having the effect on inflammation – and we all know which diet causes less weight gain.
These data emphasize the importance of having limited amounts of excess adipose tissue, and favoring low-carb diets as they have continually shown their superiority of fat loss in randomized trials. If you don’t have the tissue (adipose in this case) that creates the inflammation, you are curbing it before it happens.

Let’s Add This All Up:


  1. Carbohydrates and their increase in insulin lead to metabolic syndrome
  2. Low carbohydrate diets are a proven cure of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  3. Metabolic syndrome leads to inflammation
  4. Having more adipose tissue leads to inflammation
  5. Having more stomach fat leads to inflammation
  6. Insulin turns off fat breakdown and stimulates fat production
  7. A low-carbohydrate diet has been proven time and time again to be optimal for reducing fat


In Conclusion:


  1. Adding this all up, it seems like how you view inflammation is actually more important than which foods study participants are eating.
  2. Obesity and metabolic syndrome is king when it comes to inflammation – avoid these as your first step. Everyone has a different way of accomplishing this, and I have seen the best in myself and others by eating the same foods we have eaten for millions of years.
  3. If you are eating a low-carb diet, foods that cause inflammation in the typical American diet may not lead to similar results in you.
  4. If you think the question lies in inflammatory markers immediately after eating, take your pick as to which foods cause inflammation because there is data to support them all.
  5. If you think it is more important to look at long-term studies, data is limited, but randomized controlled trials appear to favor a low-carb, high-fat diet.

I tend to favor well-designed randomized-controlled trials to get my dietary recommendations, and the data points to a high carbohydrate diet as the likely culprit of inflammation. Though frankly, saturated fat consumption may not even matter as in the face of a low-carb diet and low insulin levels, we clearly process it differently. Finally, let’s look at it like a cavemen:

Carbs cause insulin.
Insulin causes your body to store fat.
Stored fat promotes inflammation.


What more do we need to convict carbohydrates of the metabolic crimes they continue to commit?



Subscribe to Caveman Doctor


1. Mohanty P, Ghanim H, Hamouda W, et al: Both lipid and protein intakes stimulate increased generation of reactive oxygen species by polymorphonuclear leukocytes and mononuclear cells. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 75:767-772, 2002

2. Mohanty P, Hamouda W, Garg R, et al: Glucose Challenge Stimulates Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Generation by Leucocytes. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 85:2970-2973, 2000

3. Aljada A, Mohanty P, Ghanim H, et al: Increase in intranuclear nuclear factor κB and decrease in inhibitor κB in mononuclear cells after a mixed meal: evidence for a proinflammatory effect. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79:682-690, 2004

4. Levitan EB, Cook NR, Stampfer MJ, et al: Dietary glycemic index, dietary glycemic load, blood lipids, and C-reactive protein. Metabolism: clinical and experimental 57:437-443, 2008

5. Du H, van der A DL, van Bakel MM, et al: Glycemic index and glycemic load in relation to food and nutrient intake and metabolic risk factors in a Dutch population. The American journal of clinical nutrition 87:655-661, 2008

6. Ma Y, Hébert JR, Li W, et al: Association between dietary fiber and markers of systemic inflammation in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) 24:941-949, 2008

7. Kallio P, Kolehmainen M, Laaksonen DE, et al: Dietary carbohydrate modification induces alterations in gene expression in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue in persons with the metabolic syndrome: the FUNGENUT Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition 85:1417-1427, 2007

8. Neuhouser ML, Schwarz Y, Wang C, et al: A Low-Glycemic Load Diet Reduces Serum C-Reactive Protein and Modestly Increases Adiponectin in Overweight and Obese Adults. The Journal of nutrition 142:369-374, 2012

9. Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Manson JE, et al: Consumption of (n-3) Fatty Acids Is Related to Plasma Biomarkers of Inflammation and Endothelial Activation in Women. The Journal of Nutrition 134:1806-1811, 2004

10. Ferrucci L, Cherubini A, Bandinelli S, et al: Relationship of plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids to circulating inflammatory markers. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism 91:439-46, 2006

11. Westerbacka J, Cornér A, Kolak M, et al: Insulin regulation of MCP-1 in human adipose tissue of obese and lean women. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology And Metabolism 294:E841-E845, 2008

12. Bruun JM, Stallknecht B, Helge JW, et al: Interleukin-18 in plasma and adipose tissue: effects of obesity, insulin resistance, and weight loss. European Journal of Endocrinology 157:465-471, 2007

13. Festa A, D’Agostino R, Howard G, et al: Chronic Subclinical Inflammation as Part of the Insulin Resistance Syndrome : The Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study (IRAS). Circulation 102:42-47, 2000

14. Browning JD, Baker JA, Rogers T, et al: Short-term weight loss and hepatic triglyceride reduction: evidence of a metabolic advantage with dietary carbohydrate restriction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 93:1048-1052, 2011

15. Buyken AE, Flood V, Empson M, et al: Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010

16. Ceriello A, Bortolotti N, Motz E, et al: Meal-induced oxidative stress and low-density lipoprotein oxidation in diabetes: the possible role of hyperglycemia. Metabolism: clinical and experimental 48:1503-8, 1999

17. Kim TN, Kim S, Yang SJ, et al: Vascular Inflammation in Patients with Impaired Glucose Tolerance and Type 2 Diabetes: Analysis with 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography. Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, 2010

18. Forsythe C, Phinney S, Fernandez M, et al: Comparison of Low Fat and Low Carbohydrate Diets on Circulating Fatty Acid Composition and Markers of Inflammation. Lipids 43:65-77, 2008

19. Volek J, Phinney S, Forsythe C, et al: Carbohydrate Restriction has a More Favorable Impact on the Metabolic Syndrome than a Low Fat Diet. Lipids 44:297-309, 2009

20. Seshadri P, Iqbal N, Stern L, et al: A randomized study comparing the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet and a conventional diet on lipoprotein subfractions and C-reactive protein levels in patients with severe obesity. The American journal of medicine 117:398-405, 2004

21. van Dijk SJ, Feskens EJ, Bos MB, et al: A saturated fatty acid–rich diet induces an obesity-linked proinflammatory gene expression profile in adipose tissue of subjects at risk of metabolic syndrome. The American journal of clinical nutrition 90:1656-1664, 2009

22. Forsythe C, Phinney S, Feinman R, et al: Limited Effect of Dietary Saturated Fat on Plasma Saturated Fat in the Context of a Low Carbohydrate Diet. Lipids 45:947-962, 2010

23. Low-carb Diet Reduces Inflammation And Blood Saturated Fat In Metabolic Syndrome., Suny Downstate Medical Center.  Science Daily, 2007

24. Volek JS, Phinney SD, Forsythe CE, et al: Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low fat diet. Lipids 44:297-309, 2009

25. Patel C, Ghanim H, Ravishankar S, et al: Prolonged Reactive Oxygen Species Generation and Nuclear Factor-κB Activation after a High-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Meal in the Obese. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 92:4476-4479, 2007

26. CLÉMENT K, VIGUERIE N, POITOU C, et al: Weight loss regulates inflammation-related genes in white adipose tissue of obese subjects. The FASEB Journal 18:1657-1669, 2004

© 2015 CDR Health and Nutrition, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Tom and Diane

    Excellent explanation! Thanks!
    In your opinion, why are dietitians, nutritionists, and other medical experts taught and trained the food pyramid and “balanced diet”? Is it more profitable to keep us ill and fat?

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)


      Well, I don’t want to get too conspiracy theorist here but it seems like a lot of health experts (and college students, high school students, etc.) just blindly follow what they are taught without questioning things for fear of getting in trouble or even just laziness or complacency. For instance, when we question dietary recommendations and look through the literature, it is scary how often recommendations conflict with the data. While it would profit some companies (and hurt others), I would hope practitioners are not purposely trying to keep us unhealthy and think their are likely other explanations (like complacency, stubbornness, etc.).

      We need more critical thinkers out there to question “conventional” thinking and open up dialogue.


    2. Dr. Gerald Veurink

      Yes in short :-). It is easier and cheaper to produce high carbohydrate foods. It is also more profitable for manufacturers of cereals, flour and bread. Big Pharma is not that interested in creating cures for degenerative and neurodegenerative diseases because they can keep patients on medicinal drugs for life, so creating repeat business. The explanation and information in the article, “Inflammation: Which Foods Take the Blame?” provides excellent information on the research that has been done on the impact of different food types on inflammation. kind regards. Dr. Gerald Veurink.

  2. girl interrupted

    Hi Caveman Doctor,
    I’ve been trying to find a physician/specialist for a while. For some reason I’m having a very difficult time getting an appointment with one. When I call the doctor’s office the receptionist always ask “what are your symptoms?” They’re never satisfied with the answer I give them and they always ask for details. If I don’t give detailed symptoms the receptionists refused to give me an appointment.

    How do I get an appointment with a specialist? Does the receptionist have the right to ask me personal medical questions over the phone? What do I have to say to them to get an appointment? Please advise
    Thank you

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)


      I understand your need for privacy. However, the receptionist may merely be asking for insurance reasons or so that the physician is prepared for your consultation. I think you can be very brief and somewhat nonspecific, but this is likely appropriate information for the physician to gather before your appointment, especially if he or she is a specialist.

      I hope this helps,

  3. Pingback: New JAMA Article Supports the Metabolic Advantage of Low-Carb Diets - Caveman Doctor : Caveman Doctor

  4. Pingback: Very Low-Carb Diet Burns More Calories, Study Concludes

  5. kraftwerk

    It seems somewhat of a jump to claim “Carbohydrates and their increase in insulin lead to metabolic syndrome”. You can eat as much carbs as you like but as long as you never fully replete your liver glycogen it won’t be converted to fat right? I mean you could consume nothing but 10 sodas a day @ 2000 cals, but if your maintenance is 2100 cals you’re not going to get metabolic syndrome. You could probably even consume them all at once and fill your liver and store fat, but during the fasting period you would burn that fat off again.

    I haven’t been able to find any studies that say carbs and insulin cause metabolic syndrome. It’s caused from developing abdominal/visceral/liver fat from repleting liver glycogen too often (in other words over-eating or under-exercising). The studies all suggest that the adipose then interferes with the insulin function and causes insulin resistance. So wouldn’t the high insulin is a result not a cause of metabolic syndrome?

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)

      Metabolic syndrome, originally known as syndrome X or insulin insensitivity syndrome is a declining response of insulin to elevated levels of blood sugar. This happens after chronically elevated levels of blood sugar cause insulin release. It only stands to reason that those insulin levels get chronically elevated from eating excesses amounts of the food that elevates insulin – carbohydrates.

      Does consuming soda elevate the serum blood glucose level the same as eating fat? No – two totally different physiologic responses.

      This is exactly why when comparing diets (isocaloric or not), a low-carb diet always decreases insulin and blood sugar levels while increasing insulin sensitivity (i.e. decreasing insulin insensitivity syndrome).



  6. Pingback: Overweight or Obese? Maybe it’s not just you - Caveman Doctor : Caveman Doctor

  7. Pingback: Sprinting from Lions to Health - Caveman Doctor : Caveman Doctor

  8. Luke

    hey caveman doctor, what do you think of the inflammatory effects of carb loading to somebody who follows a paleo diet? i eat low carb ( about 100g or less a day ) and weight train almost everyday, and a carb load would help replace my muscle glycogen. would carb loading ( with paleo carbs ) have inflammatory effects on me if i normally have a low carb diet?

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)


      Not great data on this but I would highly doubt it. If you are maximizing your workouts and diets periodic glycogen replacement shouldn’t raise inflammation. This is individualized, but I get most of my daily carbs pre and post lifting as this gets my insulin to an anabolic state around workout time (and I am most sensitive to insulin at this point). With clean eating and good workouts I doubt this raises inflammation at all.


  9. Lauren

    Dr Champ, I’m struggling to reconcile this with the notion purported by Peter at Hyperlipid that ketogenic diets cause physiological insulin resistance and will often show a high fasting blood glucose (high enough to be diabetic in classification). I know that he also supports a paleo/LC dietary platform, but can you explain how his suggestion fits with this? Thanks.

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)

      What time span are you referring to? I don’t do or promote ketosis full time but rather periodic and have trouble seeing how that would happen in this manner. LC/paleo and ketogenesis all the time are two different entities. That being said, has this been shown in any studies? because the trials have shown quite the opposite, though these were in people with metabolic derangement to some degree already.


  10. Pingback: Surrounding ourselves with Carcinogens: When in Rome - Caveman Doctor

  11. Pingback: Tuesday 2/12/13 « crossfit bios

  12. CVL

    Thanks so much for writing this post. I’ve been trying to understand leptin and its relation to obesity which has led me to reading books by Rosedale, Galland and Isaacs. I’ve also looked at Jack Kruse’s website. Everyone except Kruse points to saturated fat as an inflammatory agent which causes leptin resistance. Given my own personal experience, I found this hard to believe. Further, their disparagement of saturated fat sounded tinny, gratuitous, conspicuous and conclusory. Your rebuttal is well grounded in research. I think it’s always easy to point the blame at saturated fat. Nobody is going to give you flack if you point the finger at saturated fat, but say anything good about it and look out, you’ll get attacked for sure.

  13. Pingback: Paleo Lifestyle and Addiction Recovery: Recovering Awareness About How to Thrive

  14. Pingback: Ask a low carber - Page 2

  15. Pingback: Saturated fat... who do you believe? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

  16. Jack

    Great article!

  17. Marie

    I am 47 and have suffered from acne most of my adult life. After doing some research on how diet could help my husband lose his belly, I switched from a vegetarian diet to a more paleo diet. My acne started to clear up. On a recent vacation I fell back into some bad habits of bread and sugar and my face was full of acne again. Now I am back on my diet and my face is clearing up. However, I just noticed another benefit of eating the paleo way. I have been blessed with horrible ears and constantly battle with ear infections. When I cut out carbs and bad foods. The ear infections go away and obviously flare up when I resume bad habits. I disregard what most doctors and dietitians say anymore. If it works for you and you have proven it works, go with it.

  18. Pingback: Dr. Art Ayers anti-inflammatory/Dr. Oz bashing - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

  19. Gloria

    I understand that protein causes insulin release comparable to carbohydrates.

    I was disappointed this didn’t even get a mention, it was all “fats and carbs”.

    Thus the conclusions not fully informed given a lot of the argument hinged on insulin and inflammation.

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)

      it causes glucagon as well and is not comparable in that regard

    2. Dr. Gerald Veurink

      The human body can produce necessary glucose as a final by-product of protein intake, however, that is not a problem unless extremely high levels of protein are consumed in the diet. Fat or lipids can also contribute glucose but that is usually no problem either as it is produced when needed and only in the quantity that is needed by the human body. Carbohydrates in any form cause the most problems because they generate too much glucose in a relatively short period of time and therefore raise blood sugar levels, which is detrimental to ones health. Kind regards. Dr. Gerald Veurink.

  20. เบอร์มงคล

    Superb, what a weblog it is! This website provides useful
    information to us, keep it up.

  21. Julie Arnold

    I am an accidental believer. I recently went on a low carb diet and found that the eczema I have struggled with for over two years (really driving me nuts, I might add) has all but disappeared. I am sold. Thanks so much for this article!
    Your new best friend

  22. Dusty

    Type 1 diabetic here, just recently started on the low carb diet. My sugars are amazing, which wasn’t surprising. I lost weight, which didn’t surprise me either. But what shocked me was after a few weeks of low carb, my knee pain went away. I had very swollen knees, which I thought was just from my weight lifting program. Turns out after I cut out carbs, my knees feel about 80% better! I guess that would support your claims. Thanks for the article!

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)

      Great to hear!

  23. Dusty

    I also accidentally found that mere weeks after I started my low carb diet, my terrible knee pain went away. My knees still give me fits every so often, but while on carbs and processed foods my knees were terrible. They felt like they were swollen and my knee caps floated around in there quite a bit. I had a hard time just walking. Now I don’t even notice my knees anymore. This is a huge motivator to make this my lifestyle change instead of just a diet.

  24. Mary slachter

    I am on a feeding tube so you are saying that 18%casein soy protien will retain fats,29% fats and 53% carbohydrates? If my diet is supposed to be low fat low fiber and high protien isn’t this the opposite? With this diet I crave sugar and I am gaining weight even though my caloric intake is the same 1000 ml’s a day.fibersourcehn1.2 nestle product

  25. Pingback: What are macronutrients? Why are carbs, fats and proteins important? – TheFitCoop

  26. Pingback: How to nourish a human body in a world of tasty garbage

  27. peter

    how come everybody is knocking insulin? How else are you supposed to put amino acids into the muscle cells after a good workout, or glucose into glycogen stores, without insulin? Doesn’t dietary protein also increase insulin?

    scratching my head

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)

      Peter, you are correct. Insulin is a normal part of health. Excess insulin is the problem.

    2. Dusty

      Dietary protein does produce an insulin response, but not as much as carbohydrates. As a type 1 diabetic on a low carb diet, I have cut down on the amount of insulin I take for boluses by about 60%. This helps with weight control as the more insulin I take, the more weight I gain.

  28. steve

    “Carbs cause insulin.

    Insulin causes your body to store fat.

    Stored fat promotes inflammation.”

    So if I eat more carbs and never gain the fat, I wont have the inflammation.

    1. cavemandoctor (Post author)

      Potentially. This is certainly a hot topic in the diet world. I am of course purposely simplifying things here but there is data to support both ends of the spectrum and that can be a long article in itself.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *