Feeding the World’s Population Without Carbs?

askdrandreaseenfeld

Is it possible to feed the world’s population without carbs?

The answer to this and other questions – for example, is it common with hair loss on low carb? And can people eat low carb if they are vegetarians? – in this week’s Q&A with Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt:

Feeding the world’s population without carbs?

I’m on LCHF and it’s going well, but one thing bothers me. I can afford fresh organic food but the worlds population is around 7 billion. Is it really possible to feed all of these people without grains/carbs? I know fat is satiating and therefore means you require less food but if you were to remove what is effectively the staples from the diet of billions of poor people in Africa, South America and Asia how would they survive?

Carl

 
I don’t believe the entire world’s population needs to go strict LCHF. That’s mostly for people who need it for health reasons.

On the other hand, should the population of the world want more fat and fewer carbs, it will surely be possible to tweak agriculture etc. more in that direction, in an environmentally friendly and cost effective way.

Best,
Andreas Eenfeldt

LCHF for vegetarians?

Hi, I read your posts regularly and quite like them but as a vegetarian, I have not been able to find much on your site. I am a male, aged 30 and weigh 125 kg (276 lbs), am based out in New Delhi, India, and have lost many times considerable amount of weight, and also through a vegetarian ketosis diet but was not able to maintain it. Please recommend a good vegetarian LCHF diet to follow.

Sulabh

 
Sulabh,

We’re going to add a lot more vegetarian options soon. Here are our vegetarian recipes so far:
https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/recipes?s=&st=recipe&kd
https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/recipes/going-green

Best,
Andreas Eenfeldt

Hair loss on low carb?

This question for both Dr. Eeenfeldt and Dr. Michael Fox as he sees women patients. I would love to see more content about the special challenges of LCHF and ketogenic diets for women, and more female experts interviewed although you do a good job of finding them for your website.

On my diet, everything has gone very well for five months. Ketosis is easy to do, monitored with Ketostix and Ketonix, I am never really hungry and eating plenty of food, with a variety of micronutrients included consistent with Dr. Terry Wahls’ approach. But three months in to the diet transition serious hair loss (i.e., telogen effluvium confirmed by dermatologist) began, and has been relentless for the last two months with no end in sight.

Thyroid was checked with minute adjustments – nothing I haven’t seen in the past and dealt with, but that adjustment is not making a difference. My endocrinologist supports LCHF but in his experience much harder for women, noting more difficulty in weight loss and blood sugar stabilization.

I am beginning to wonder if there isn’t something about the ketones or the metabolic state itself, for women, that is sending alarm signals to parts of the body that all is not well. It makes sense that there could be fat loss thresholds or too much loss too quick that could trigger different alarms in women, as they typically carry higher body fat percentage and have a hormonal state that is different than men’s. Eleven pounds (5 kg) in three months did not seem too much, since then only lost 2 pounds (1 kg), eating more fat and protein, so that slowing down hasn’t helped. Nor am I underweight at 134 pounds (61 kg) for 160 cm.

Being 58 I wouldn’t think the hormonal difference between men and women would be so relevant, but perhaps on this front it is. Could “keto adaptation” just take much longer for women? Perhaps women might adjust faster if they went quickly and full on with high levels of ketosis to make the adjustment, or alternately, perhaps they are better served by steady light nutritional ketosis (where I have been staying at).

I think this is an important topic as it represents a potentially huge and heartbreaking barrier for women to stay on the diet. Further, women could think they were ill, spend resources on blood tests and doctor appointments they didn’t need, and in the process, giving the diet a bad reputation. If we could identify clever “biohacks” to prevent the hair loss, that would be so helpful. Perhaps a survey among participants of this site and of the memberships and clientele of other experts would enlighten. I would love to have Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek’s thoughts as they are deep into the metabolic picture. Or Eric Westman, who sees many female patients.

Thank you for all your inspiring work and your site as a resource for technical assistance.
Betsy

 
Hi Betsy!

Temporary and partial hair loss – meaning the hair gets temporarily thinner – might happen to perhaps one percent of people 3-6 months after starting a low-carb diet. This is similar to what can happen after many other changes in lifestyle.

This is normally a very temporary thing and the lost hairs grow out again after a couple of months, making the hair as thick as before.

If you’ve even seen your doctor with the usual results, I think it’s even more certain that this will be a temporary thing.

The only advice I’d give is to make sure you’re not starving yourself (it does not sound like you do). The problem should be very temporary.

Learn more here:
https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/side-effects#hair-loss

Best,
Andreas Eenfeldt

More

Low Carb for Beginners

More Questions and Answers

Many more questions and answers:

Low-Carb Q&A

Read all earlier questions and answers – and ask your own! – here:

Ask Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt about LCHF, Diabetes and Weight Loss – for members (free trial available).

More About LCHF and weight loss

  • Keto for beginners: weight loss
  • How to Maximize Fat Burning
  • Too much protein is better than too little
  • Isn't weight loss all about counting calories?

10 Comments

  1. gbl
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4338/2

    I hope you'll include dals and pulses in the vegetarian options and not rely primarily on soy products which are carcinogenic suspect for women.

  2. LowCarbFinn
    Overpopulation is a problem in itself and most other problems stem from that. And it is mainly caused by women not having full human rights in most parts of the planet. An example: In Nigeria a woman needs husbands permission for getting contraceptives from her doctor. No wonder, that Nigeria's population growth is currently one of the highest on the planet.

    3-4 billion people would be quite enough for this planet. I've done my part by being voluntarily childless. And I don't buy anything produced in countries where women don't have full human rights. Thus I mostly eat only domestic food and of European countries I boycott Ireland, Malta and Poland because of their abortion legislation, which is a gross human rights violation.

  3. Tim
    ...abortion legislation which is a gross human rights violation.

    Well, except for the unborn human...

    It's mostly socialist governments and dictators that cause a lack of food. Everywhere there is unrestricted free enterprise there's excess food.
    If these people who think the population is too great were really serious they would off themselves...obviously they think it's only good for others. And the most defenseless, at that...such cowards.

  4. LowCarbFinn
    For you Tim - and based on your nick you are a man, which in my books makes you unqualified to discuss women's reproductive rights - it seems to be more important to protect fetuses than protect the planet from overpopulation and to protect womens rights.

    You should remember this: Restricting abortion only hurts the poor women. Well-to-do women can travel to some civilised country to get their abortions, only the poorest women suffer. What do you have against poor women? Prohibiting abortions does not stop them, it just makes them more expensive and more dangerous and the poor women are always the ones who suffer the most.

    My mother could have aborted me and that's quite okay for me. I am just humbly grateful she decided to carry me to term. The idea that she could have aborted me (she had one back alley abortion before she gave birth to me, this was in the 1950's and I'm lucky she she survived it) does not bother me at all. That would have been her right, because it's her body and giving birth is a choice, not obligation.

    Any opinion, Tim, about women in Nigeria needing husbands permission for getting contraceptives from their doctor?

    Another question: Are you strictly against IUD-contraception? You should be, because and IUD prevents a fertilized egg - human being in your books - from attaching to the uterine wall. Theoretically an 'abortion' every month...

    You wrote:
    "If these people who think the population is too great were really serious they would off themselves...obviously they think it's only good for others."

    No, us who think the population is too large, we are often VOLUNTARILY CHILDLESS, like me.

    Reply: #8
  5. Alan
    Betsy, I had some issues with hair loss, and whilst I don't think it was diet related, the symptoms were at least very similar. In my case, I think it was from trying out a different "hair care" regime which turned out disastrous with hair thinning and a lot of hair loss. A few months later and all the new hair is growing really fast and much thicker. I'm 99% sure I can put this down to taking some biotin vitamin supplements (10,000 mcg bought on Amazon) and they are the only supplement that I take. The difference is quite amazing, but it takes a few week to kick in. I'm not a doctor or anything so I can't advocate anything, but I thought that I could at least mention it in case it is worth looking into.
  6. Nate
    Actually, LCHF will make it possible to feed more people than otherwise. About 75% of the world's land is dry enough to only support grasslands, not forests. These lands are labeled brittle in the Regenerative Agriculture world. These brittle lands have turned and are turning into desert at an alarming rate. Regenerative Agriculture mimics nature to allow the brittle lands to heal, thus stopping and even reversing decertification. Nature has had huge herds of large and small herbivores migrating around these brittle lands. The migrating herds and the grass that they eat and trample have developed symbiotic relationships that allow the grass to grow taller, develop deeper roots, thus, helping the small amount of rain to infiltrate the land better and be stored there. We need to study Mother Nature more in agriculture just like we need to do that with our metabolism. Soil biology is absolutely amazing!

    For more on Regenerative Agriculture google Allan Savory, Gabe Brown and/or Joel Salatin. Or see these:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deser...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uMPuF5oCPA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8O9zHOs4D4
    http://www.polyfacefarms.com

  7. Nate
    Based on my last comment, maybe it would be interesting for Diet Doctor to interview some of the Regenerative Agriculture leaders. People may want to learn how they are changing agriculture like LCHF is changing medicine. Learning that Regenerative Agriculture is 1. producing more nutritious meat and vegetables 2. reducing the amount of desertification 3. storing much more carbon in the soil thus reversing climate change 4. drastically reducing the amount of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers needed by farmers 5. reducing the amount of outside inputs such as gasoline, trackers, etc. needed to farm successfully 6. allowing more small, local farmers all over the world to succeed without going into debt to the huge Industrial Agriculture Complex.

    Another leader in this field is Elaine Ingham. LCHF gardeners will be especially interested in her talks. She is the first speaker in the following and she talks about 45 minutes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMvpop6BdBA

  8. Tim
    The fact remains, if you really believed your rhetoric about over population you would do something about your use of resources :-) Your continuing existence proves you don't really believe it.

    ...because it's her body...

    Gee, if it's my body how come I can't legally sell my kidney?

  9. Marion
    The very idea that 'we have to feed the world' has caused more problems than it has ever solved.

    The idea took off somewhere in the sixties ('club of Rome'), when Certain People (let's call them, in the style of the great Thomas Sowell, 'the Annointed') became concerned about overpopulation. This concern spurred Norman Borlaug to engineer the new dwarf wheat strain which produces harvest ten times bigger than the previous wheat strains - and causes uncount millions of people trouble digesting it (read 'Wheat belly')
    The production of wheat and corn was subsidized ("we have to feed the world!!") Huge monoculture farms producing ginormous amounts of wheat and corn sprung up. Monocultures like that need a sh*t ton of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, which profitted Big Oil, but is slowly killing the planet and us with it. And corn and wheat was produced. Soon there was so frikkin' much of the stuff, they didn't know what to do with it. There were only one or two cattle feedlots in the USA in the fifties, to 'finish' off cows, but when corn and wheat became so incredible cheap, it became more profitable to keep animals in feedlots than to have them graze, with all the consequenses that brought.
    Corn and wheat being so cheap, it became the preferred foodstuff to put into *everything*. The whole legacy of High Fructose Corn Syrup can be traced back to "We Have To Feed The Word!!" TM.
    And lastly, what did the US do with the great surplus that they couldn't flog? They dumped it onto Third World markets for a song, feeling very proud to have 'fed the world', ignoring the fact that Third World farmers can't compete against such prices, go bankrupt, lose their farms and trek to the big cities to live in slums and polish shoes for tuppence.

    But don't take MY word for it; listen to Joel Salatin:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioKXaVj0Tfs

  10. Marion
    Joel Salatin (please check him and his farm out - he's the greatest spokesperson for returning to grassfed cattle, among other things) also did an hour long lecture about the history of the idea 'we have to feed the world' and the ramifications of that faulty idea on the way agriculture has been approached for the last seventy years.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtjfoxRoHdA&t=706s

    Andreas, PLEASE watch this!! Because 'we have to feed the world' is as faulty a concept as 'a calorie is a calorie' and has had even MORE catastrophic effect on human life

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