Matt Perryman Matt Perryman

Low Carb Magic

This isn’t really a structured post; I just want to lay out a quick bullet point list.

  • The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed; inside a closed system, it can only change form. The second law of thermodynamics says that entropy will always increase inside a closed system. You’re always sliding down a hill towards chaos. These rules are not flexible based on any observation that has ever been made.
  • Chemical reactions, even the very complex ones inside our bodies, are not exempt from this. The body is a closed system; energy that comes in will have to equal energy output. Otherwise, one (or both) of the thermodynamic laws will be violated.
  • The body, by virtue of being a giant chemical reaction, can operate outside of thermodynamic equilibrium (calories in = calories out), by using various enzymes. However, this is not what it might seem: it’s called storing energy as fat. The energy doesn’t go away; it’s stored. This isn’t a violation of thermodynamics – it’s just creative accounting.
  • If they were exempt, we’d have a way of creating limitless power. Since the world is still in an energy crisis, we can pretty safely assume that this is not the case.
  • Your body requires nutrients for various functions and activities. Nutrients also deliver energy to the body. The fact that your body can still require protein, fat, various minerals and vitamins, has no bearing on the energy that they’re providing. Protein and essential fat requirements are entirely separate from the energy that nutrients provide.

When dealing with “low carb magic”, we have two choices:

  1. Low carb/high protein diets actually violate the laws of thermodynamics, by destroying energy and by decreasing entropy (disorder) in a closed system, which would be a major revolution in physics and something never observed before; or

  2. Low carb/high protein diets are being dishonestly described as “violating thermodynamics” when (if you actually compare the total energy brought into a system and total energy (including waste heat) that is used up by the system) all they’re doing is increasing the waste of energy by the body. If you control for both protein intake and total calorie intake, you won’t see any differences in results.

Occam’s razor suggests that option two is the most likely, considering we have no reason to believe that thermodynamics is invalid – and those observations can be explained by other more reasonable conclusions.