My Blender Project: The Ginormous Space Telescope Concept

I used Blender to model an idea for a space telescope:


Here is the transcript:

Throughout history, our knowledge of space was extremely limited.

Of course, it still is.

Four hundred years ago few people even knew that moons revolve around Jupiter.

Now we’ve discovered planets orbiting around our nearest stars.

These discoveries were made with telescopes.

And, if it weren’t for telescopes, we’d be almost completely ignorant of what’s beyond Earth.

It’s important to understand what’s around us – long-term survival of humans depends on it – and, to see much of anything beyond our solar system, we need big telescopes.

I’m going to provide an overview – a summary of a concept – for a potentially huge space telescope.

First, I want to make a couple of comparisons.

Certainly, the Hubble Space Telescope has been incredibly successful.

With a single mirror less than three meters in diameter, it’s given us amazing views of space such as this – and it’s enabled many scientific discoveries.

Now The James Webb Space Telescope is designed with six times the light gathering power of Hubble.

It’s a significant advancement.

Technologies that make this possible includes a large segmented primary mirror and adaptive optics.

Existing designs, such as the James Webb, require assembled structures to be fit within the payload shrouds of their launch vehicles.

Then, once in space, these telescopes are unfolded by mechanisms.

So, there must be extreme reliability of many moving parts and this is achieved with high-quality components, testing, and redundant systems.

Many of these components and systems have nothing to do with astronomy.

It’s unfortunate because the costs of these items limit the sizes and capacities of the telescopes.

For the concept I’m proposing, construction of the major structures will be done in space.

In addition, the mirror positioning system will be simple and affordable.

These characteristics enable it to be scaled to a huge size.

It can be more powerful than any telescope that’s now planned for earth or space.

It could be enormous.

Any name for this needs to distinguish it from telescopes that are just “extremely large”.

So, I’m calling it The Ginormous Space Telescope.

Although it’s bigger, some aspects of this are similar to other space telescopes.

As with the James Webb, it will most likely be placed in a solar orbit about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

Some of the optics and systems can use existing designs and technology.

However, to be significantly larger, this telescope will have to be different to be affordable.

Because it is constructed in space, it can be larger than anything that needs to be assembled and then packed into a launch vehicle.

Also, costs of mechanisms to unfold the structures are avoided with assembly in space.

To assure efficient construction, this concept uses simple snap-together connections whenever possible.

Many of the connections can be made without fasteners using permanent magnets bonded to structural members.

Beam elements and components can be designed with low mass since they’ll be transmitting small loads.

Like other large astronomical telescopes, the Ginormous Space Telescope has a segmented and adaptive primary mirror.

However, the concept solves size limitations of other designs.

It enables an extremely large primary mirror because of the simple and low-cost way it positions the mirror segments.

A patent for this is owned by The Boeing Company and is titled Adaptive Reflecting System.

This states the need for a mirror system that, quoting from the patent, “…can provide massive light-gathering capacity, while allowing compact stowage in a spacecraft payload compartment.”

That’s what the Ginormous Space Telescope does.

By the way, while I’m the inventor and I worked for Boeing when the patent was filed, there’s currently no affiliation.

As a rough concept, the precise size of this telescope isn’t important, but I’ve modeled it with a total surface area of approximately 1000 square meters.

At this size, it has 40 times more light gathering power than the James Webb and it will be much larger than other proposed space telescopes.

It will be even larger than the earth-based European Extremely Large Telescope.

And, not only will this concept collect more light, its performance won’t be affected by the atmosphere.

I’ll describe the concept.

One end of the spacecraft will always be sun-facing.

This is the aft side.

The primary mirror is positioned forward of a sunshield.

Almost everything on the forward side will have a black optical coating.

On the aft sun-facing side, the sunshield will have reflective panels to block sunlight from the optics.

Aft structures support a laser that will be used to control positioning of the primary mirror segments.

I’ll explain how it’s used after pointing out a few more things.

For this simulation, dark components are shown lighter than they’ll actually be so they can be visible.

Mirror segments have a gold color.

Forward of the primary mirror is the Optics and Instrument Module.

An earth-pointing communications antenna is mounted to the aft structure.

The forward end of the telescope holds the secondary mirror assembly, which returns light to the optics and instrument module.

The secondary mirror is supported by long beams.

I’ll provide a little more detail and…

I’ll start with the primary mirror assembly and some of the surrounding components.

Each mirror segment is mounted on a spherical bearing that’s secured to the mirror assembly frame.

The bearing provides freedom of movement so the mirrors can be precisely aligned.

While this concept model shows circular mirror segments, they could be hexagonal.

Space between the sunshield and mirror assembly contains the spacecraft bus.

This is a module that holds instrument and spacecraft control systems.

Beams are also in this area to separate the primary mirror from the sunshield.

These beams form integral trusses when connected to the mirror and sunshield structures.

In addition to being parts of the mirror backing, the trusses connect to the aft structures and secondary mirror supports.

The aft side of each mirror segment is connected to a long slender rod that extends to the sunshield structure.

This is for positioning control of the mirror segments.

These rods are very thin and don’t show in the model.

Low-mass beams are snapped together to make the sunshield structure.

Node points of some these beams hold small devices to control the position of the mirror segments.

After the structure is assembled, the reflective panels are snapped onto the beams.

This concept model has 560 mirror segments and each of these are one-and-a-half meters in diameter.

With so many segments, having complex and expensive mirror positioning controls really wouldn’t be practical.

The Adaptive Reflecting System patent addresses this with a simple, low-cost method to control the mirrors.

It makes this concept feasible.

Here’s generally how the controls work.

As I mentioned, node points on the mirror assembly frame have spherical bearings.

These bearings hold the mirrors and allow a gimbaling movement.

This shows the back of a mirror segment, a bearing, and part of the frame.

The end of the positioning rod that’s opposite the mirror connects to a thermal actuator with a permanent magnet that acts across a small gap.

This gap allows the assembly to slightly rotate.

Red parts in this image are magnets and a thin nonferrous membrane is shown green.

The thermal actuator is held onto the other side of the membrane by the magnets.

When the actuator moves across the membrane, the rod connected to the mirror segment also moves.

The laser that’s mounted on the aft structure directs light onto the thermal mirror positioning devices.

A tracking scope can be mounted with the laser to provide machine vision to precisely direct the light.

The positioners get energy from the laser, so no wiring is routed to the actuators – for either power or sensors.

When a mirror segment needs to be realigned, the laser is directed at the thermal actuator.

This device is a simple heat engine that makes that makes small movements in response to the laser light.

When the optics systems detect misalignment of a mirror segment, the laser is pointed at the device to cause the needed movement.

This shows one of the actuators mounted on the sunshield frame.

As you can see, these are simple devices.

They’re inexpensive to manufacture as most of the parts can be 3D printed by laser sintering of metals.

Then they are bonded or snapped together as a subassembly while still on Earth.

I’ll briefly summarize how they operate.

In the patent diagram on your left, the green item is the nonferrous membrane.

This is the mirror positioning rod.

All parts with a blue color are ferrous so they are attracted to the magnets shown in red.

There’s a small center assembly and a larger outer ring assembly.

Both are held to the membrane by the magnets and friction and this is probably easier to see in this cross-section view.

Due to the arrangement of the magnets, friction is lower for the center assembly when it is heated by the laser.

This has a switching effect that’s needed for the actuator to operate.

The laser will either heat the center assembly or the outer ring segments.

These ring segments are made of nitinol, which has a high thermal expansion coefficient.

The result is that the laser energy produces controlled movements of the actuator across the membrane.

It’s nothing magical and I won’t go into the details but, when the actuator is caused to move, the rod follows it and the mirror segment is adjusted.

Well, I just wanted to give an overview of how mirror positioning works.

Of course, the patent describes this more thoroughly.

This concept for positioning the mirrors, along with a design that can be efficiently assembled in space, makes it possible for this telescope to be extremely large.

I appreciate your time.

This could become a funded project with support from a private investor or a government space agency.

The technologies exist so it would be great to see at least some form of this in space.





Jeff’s Art of Pi

The number pi interests me. I’m also interested in producing something that has the possibility of lasting a very long time. Reasons for pi being incredibly interesting are well documented elsewhere. Reasons for my interest in survivable artifacts are something I will describe here. This is about art and is not practical or useful – it’s just something I like.

I wanted to create something that, a million years from now, might be recognized as an artifact of intelligence. The number pi should be eternally recognizable and stone can be extremely stable so I produce natural stone sculptures marked with a pattern of holes that represent the number pi.piRelic_testThere will be a time when almost nothing we make will exist due to erosion and other forms of decomposition. Wood rots, plastics and concrete disintegrates, glass flows slowly as a liquid, and metals corrode. At some point, nothing will remain from any existing building, device, or artwork.

The question of how to record information that can be read in the distant future is not new. Messages were carefully designed to include on NASA’s Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft for the potential benefit of aliens, possibly millions of years from now. These crafts are now drifting toward the stars at approximately 25,000 miles per hour. They carry metal plaques with diagrams that depict generally how we appear and where we are located. The plaques will eventually be degraded by impacts from interstellar dust and larger debris, but they could remain intact for eons before they are drawn into a star.

pioneer 10 plaque

Artifacts most likely to exist 100 million years from now are those made of stone. Common stones with low intrinsic value are not likely to be reshaped and repurposed and stone is durable and chemically stable. Unlike plaques on spacecraft, it’s possible for stones on Earth to become shielded from erosion. So, a representation of pi in stone makes an unusually recognizable and potentially survivable artifact of intelligence.

artofpi piece 248

artofpi piece 265

artofpi piece 260 3

I fill the holes in the pieces I make now with strontium aluminate mixed with epoxy. The epoxy will help protect the holes for an indefinite period and the strontium aluminate glows for several hours after absorption of light.

Digits of pi are represented by holes using the type of copyrighted pattern shown below. This pattern represents the first 25 digits of pi:


artofpi pattern

Use of number symbols would be a more efficient representation than a series of holes. However, simple patterns of holes will be more long lasting since the finer details of symbols are susceptible to erosion. Holes make a more pleasing pattern as well. The patterns are arranged to form a square or rectangle to contrast with geometries of nature.

You can view and purchase any pieces currently for sale at this link:

Jeff’s Art of Pi Gallery

Shipping is free via USPS Priority Mail to any of the United States of America. International shipping is not available.

Polluting for Sugar

There is no way it is a good idea to burn fields for food production – especially for a nonessential food. I made the graphic below to illustrate how relatively thin our atmosphere is. I think it makes the point. Unnecessarily dumping toxins into the air we breath is just nuts.

atmosphere thickness

Atmosphere Thickness

Unfortunately, this is done for sugar production on Maui by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (a Division of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.). In addition to burning the plants, polyethylene plastics used for drip irrigation are burned. A&B contends that burning these plastics do not produce any harmful compounds.

Since the company is phasing out sugar cane as a crop, this article will probably be the extent of my activism to end this. However, A&B is working to find more economical crops. This is good, but if they continue polluting the atmosphere as part of their agricultural process, I intend to put more effort into ending this.

sugar cane field burn

Sugar Cane Field Burning on Maui



Human Diet Perspective

jnwillits - carbobydrate consumption timeline

After 2.5 million years of eating minimal sugars, grains, and seed oils, people are addicted to (and are suffering from) a radical new diet. Sugars and grains are ubiquitous and common foods have recently begun to include unusual amounts of heat-processed vegetable oils. Food industries, governments, and medical institutions endorse and promote this way of eating and the resulting chronic diseases have caused alarming levels of pharmaceutical sales.

Our first 1.5 million years of human diet history is omitted from the graph, although it would show the same 18 percent consumption level. For time perspective, if the history of mankind were represented by a distance of 100 meters, the last 100 years would be within the final four millimeters. If the complete 2.5 million year history were shown on the graph, the recent spike of carbohydrate eating would be so thin it would be nearly invisible. A graph to illustrate consumption of heat-processed vegetable oils would appear similar to the one for carbohydrates, except the vegetable oil consumption would be depicted as a flat line on the x-axis until modern times.

The time the graph shows is enough to make the point that our switch to eating sugar, grains, and seed oils is an extreme change.

Triglyceride Advice

Mayo Clinic posted this video years ago, which includes two critical health actions for anyone:

  1. Exercise
  2. Lower Carbohydrates.

This should be important to any person who wants better health and to avoid cardiovascular conditions – the most common reasons Americans become unhealthy and die.

They indicate that exercising and lowering carbs is important because you can lower LDL and triglyceride levels. While their advice is excellent, the idea that simply lowering LDL will improve health is incorrect. This part of the video is simplistic and idiotic. You can find out more about that elsewhere on my blog.

The focus on refined carbohydrates is also unfortunate. All carbohydrates are processed into simple sugars. Some process faster than others yet there is little difference in glycemic load between whole and refined grains. There’s much more about that elsewhere too.

Still, the basic advice is excellent. What interests me about this video is that it is an example of a mainstream institution advocating health through lowering carbs.

Probably the most important blood lipid metric is the triglyceride/HDL ratio. This happens through exercise and long-term LCHF eating. Ideally, your Trig/HDL ratio will be less than one and mine was 0.69 when last checked. For me, this is one of many indicators that confirm LCHF benefits.

Except in extreme conditions, heart health can only be achieved without drugs. It’s simple – just follow Mayo Clinic’s basic advice and take carb reduction more seriously than to just avoid sugar.

Here is a recent example of CNN picking up on this, but still focusing on high glycemic carbs:

In spite of pressure from health institutions, misguided nutritional education, and disinformation from the pharmaceutical industry, some medical professionals actually use the simple steps (exercise and LCHF eating) that reverse metabolic syndrome:

Credit Suisse Research’s Fat: The New Health Paradigm

I want to point you to a really interesting report: Fat:The New Health Paradigm, which was released this month from Credit Suisse Research. This is more about how reversing trends of metabolic syndrome start with ignoring conventional nutrition guidelines. The link is to the report in PDF format.

People and Carbs in the Metabolic Syndrome Era

The USDA likes pancakes!

The USDA likes pancakes!

Since the 1970’s, health institutions have advocated diets high in carbohydrates (low in fat) and carb consumption has significantly increased. The USDA recommends a low-fat diet consisting of 45 to 65 percent carbs and this is not likely to change with revisions to the 2015 dietary guidelines. I want people, especially people in my family, to know why habitually consuming this amount of carbs is unhealthy and to be skeptical of the high-carb promotions coming from institutions and the food industry. For an example of this messaging, see The USDA Likes Pancakes Topped with Fruit and a Sprinkle of Sugar. Also consider an article CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) published that included…

…even for otherwise non-controversial advice, such as advice to avoid diabetes and other diseases by selecting diets high in fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.(1)

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are healthier than junk food. However, even ignoring issues concerning grains(2), there is much controversy regarding a high-carbohydrate diet. So I asked CSPI via Twitter:

My tweet links to the CSPI article. There hasn’t been a reply. Considering the general state of American’s health (more than 50 percent are diabetic or prediabetic) and that we have followed USDA recommendations(3), the notion that eating a low fat diet is healthy is controversial. Nevertheless, validity of the low-fat diet is the consensus of opinion among many organizations such as CSPI, ADA, AHA, and USDA. I think CSPI labels it non-controversial to dismiss other ways of eating. Of most interest to me, they have explicitly dismissed the low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet(4).

The CSPI website describes initiatives they are working on, such as reduction of salt consumption and eliminating junk food from schools. Health profiles will get better when kids eat less junk food, but I would like to see CSPI seriously attack the metabolic syndrome epidemic in ways that will have more effect. To do that, they will need to focus on the key factors of modern chronic diseases – inflammation and insulin resistance. I believe the primary root cause of both of these maladies is habitual consumption of too much carbohydrate over the course of years. Certainly trends of metabolic syndrome are coincident with increases in carbohydrate consumption. While this doesn’t prove causation, there is convincing evidence that this problem will not be resolved until the general consumption of carbs reverts to much lower levels. CSPI is an influential advocacy group so it is unfortunate they promote the low-fat diet and dismiss alternatives that many people are discovering to be healthy(5).

Unfortunately, health professionals commonly ridicule ways of eating that do not fit low-fat dietary guidelines. Consider the following tweet that links to an info-graphic from Kaiser Permanente, which categorizes the Paleo diet as a fad. It suggests that you may have difficulty sustaining this 2.5 million year old diet of unprocessed real food and that it may leave you deficient in vitamin D and calcium. Dr. Maroon buys right into this.

Institutions and food industries use a variety of messaging to defend and promote low-fat nutrition. Modern health professionals often repeat the “artery-clogging saturated fat” phrase to advance the perception that the low-fat diet is healthy. Since this is the common view of experts, using this term gains the support of other experts, and the notion that dietary saturated fat clogs arteries is continually reinforced(6). CSPI is represented by credentialed health professionals who apparently have this consensus of opinion:

Yikes! I bring up the saturated fat issue to give an example of how health professionals work to bend the public’s perception to suit their beliefs and agendas. People are evolving and are slowly getting nutrition figured out so be wary of institutionalized myths(7).

CSPI’s categorization of diets high in fruits, vegetables, or whole grains as a non-controversial way to avoid diabetes ignores the LCHF movement. It ignores the science(8) and the experience of people who have reversed symptoms of diabetes through LCHF eating. Dismissing this is wrong and it is wrong to suggest that low-fat USDA nutritional guidelines are non-controversial(9).

Really, what’s the big deal?…

USDA's High-Carb Plate

USDA’s High-Carb Plate

A diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is certainly healthy relative to many other diets so what’s the big deal? This describes the low-fat diet illustrated by the USDA MyPlate icon. Actually, the icon indicates a nearly zero-fat diet. So did I get bent out of shape over CSPI’s use of the word “non-controversial” for a good reason? To answer that, I will summarize a few facts regarding what carbs actually do. Then I will get back to why I am picking on CSPI.

The USDA nutritional guidelines recommends a diet of 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates and is therefore an extreme diet. It is extreme from a historical perspective and it is extreme because of the demands it imposes on the body. People have become so accustomed to an abundance of breads and other processed high-carbohydrate foods that they are typically not aware of how unusual it is to eat so much of this. A target of less than 20 percent carbohydrates is more reasonable(10). It certainly makes no sense to recommend that half your intake should be from a nonessential macronutrient.

Consider the quarter of the MyPlate icon devoted to grains. The USDA actively supports grain consumption and suggests making at least half of your grains whole. I disagree with the USDA’s zealous promotion of grains because even whole grains are high-carb and grains are not particularly nutrient dense(11). They recommend 410 calories of grains per day for a person that consumes 2000 calories per day. This equates to six slices of 100 percent whole wheat bread and a single slice of this has 12 grams of carbohydrates and one gram of added sugars(12). If you followed the USDA recommendation with 100 percent whole wheat, you would be consuming 78 grams of carbohydrates per day just from the grains. The body breaks down all carbohydrates into simple sugars. There are approximately five grams of sugar per one teaspoon so your body will need to process 15.6 teaspoons of sugars just from the whole wheat. Fortunately, the fiber and the more complex carbohydrates in the whole wheat slows the process, preventing the type of blood sugar spike you can get from junk food. Still, the sugar from just one slice of whole wheat bread is in excess of the body’s requirement(13) and imposes an unnecessary glycemic load, considering that less than one teaspoon of sugar is in a normal person’s bloodstream(14).

Other foods have higher concentrations of carbs. For instance, the simple sugar component of the carbohydrate in just a medium order of fast food fries is about 10 teaspoons. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s article, What happens to the Carbs?, is an excellent discussion of how the body processes more carbs than can be used.

None of this information proves that eating six slices of whole wheat bread a day is unhealthy. We do not know the optimum macronutrient ratio and we never will because there are too many variables that continually change (insulin resistance, level of exercise, etc.). However, what is known about the effects of excess blood sugar reinforces my conclusion that a 45 plus percent ratio is potentially damaging.

Of course, “extreme” is a matter of degree. Would you think drinking 12 ounces of Coca-Cola Classic per day is excessive carbohydrate consumption? This piles on 39 grams of simple sugars per day to process – all in excess of requirements. After one year, you will have consumed more than 31 pounds of sugar. Swapping the soda with sports drinks or “natural” fruit juices will bring essentially the same result. What if you eat six slices of whole wheat bread per day? Is this excessive? While the 78 grams of carbohydrates in the bread is converted to simple sugars, your blood sugar level will not be spiked as it is with the sugar from Coke. Nevertheless, I believe this is excessive as well. While tolerance to carbs varies, excessive habitual carb intake results in the inflammation and insulin resistance that is driving metabolic syndrome. Fat and protein do not significantly affect inflammation(15) and insulin production. Carbohydrates do. To avoid diabetes, lower the proportion of calories that require insulin production. An occasional carb binge is not going to significantly harm anyone with normal tolerance, but there are consequences.

If you do eat grains, at least follow CSPI’s advice to eat whole grains. This is important because the glycemic load from a serving of white bread is almost as much as it is for a soft drink (16 for the drink and 14 for the bread). Unfortunately, most of the grain-based processed foods that fill our grocery stores do not consist of whole grains.

The insulinogenic index is probably a better way to assess whether foods will stress your system and increase chances for diabetes. It factors in protein. fiber, and fat(16). Avocados are nutrient-dense and include a lot of fiber, making a calorie from avocado more than five times less insulinogenic that a calorie of 100 percent whole wheat. There are better foods to eat than whole grains to avoid diabetes.

You may believe that the correlation of low-fat diet and metabolic syndrome trends do not point to the cause of generally poor health. After all, health conditions have clearly been exacerbated by refined sugar consumption, mostly from sugary soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks. These quickly metabolizing sugars result in more impact to health than complex carbohydrate foods that include fiber. Assessing nutrition is also complicated by the fact that everyone’s tolerance to carbs differs and exercise has effects as well. Low-fat diet advice is not completely to blame for chronic metabolic diseases. However, an excess of carbohydrates over a long period of time does result in

  • fatty liver disease
  • visceral fat
  • diabetes
  • obesity(17)
  • oral health dysfunction
  • inflammation (affecting cardiovascular health)
  • high triglycerides and more…

Atherosclerosis is influenced by elevated blood glucose(18) so don’t elevate your blood glucose. The only way to significantly elevate blood sugar is to guzzle carbs. I don’t think there is a reason for concern, unless your carb intake approaches or exceeds USDA dietary recommendations.

Research these issues for yourself. If everyone had an understanding of all facts regarding nutrition, the diet advice given by institutions would be of no consequence. However, people are getting information from institutions that they are believing and following and some of this advice is making them sick. The information seems believable because it is repeated over and over. Some of it is just believable anyway. For instance, doesn’t it seem logical that eating sticky saturated fat could clog your arteries? And why wouldn’t it be healthy for humans to start consuming a diet with one fourth of calories coming from grains?  The low-fat high-grain diet is enshrined in icon’s, repeated in textbooks, and it is alluded to as “non-controversial”. Medical doctors who deviate from low-fat dogma are attacked for any inconsistency or any issues that can be found. They are publicly derided and they are sometimes referred to a quacks. Watch for this and look for the evidence to decide what is credible.

Nutrition is complex and it has been afflicted with poorly executed and biased science. There are many variables and there is much that is unknown. People’s tolerance to carbohydrates varies widely and can change over time as insulin resistance changes so there is no single diet that fits everyone. It is too soon to dismiss anything just because it is not USDA approved.


Jeff’s Non-USDA Approved Plate

With no sugars and no grains, what’s there to eat?

There’s lots of really tasty choices, even when you limit yourself to real, unprocessed food. The photo shows one of my plates consisting of:

  • hamburger (unfortunately not grass-fed)
  • cheese
  • mustard (no sugar in this)
  • bacon
  • pickle
  • celery
  • carrot
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • onion

I entered the type and amounts of these foods into the USDA’s SuperTracker and clicked the Nutrient Intake Report link. From that I learned his meal is 486 calories with nine percent carbs. Had I included a white hamburger bun, calories would have gone to 606 and the carb content would have been 22 percent. A couple of years ago, I would have included the bun and sugary ketchup, skipped the bacon, and there would have been fries instead of veggies. Interestingly, if the bun was 100 percent whole wheat, calories would have been 600 with the total carbs at 22 percent. So adding a wheat bun would more than double the carbs, but there is little difference in carb content between the white bread and whole wheat. Adding the 100 percent whole wheat bun would have increased fiber consumption by three grams along with the 114 additional calories.

This is a typical dinner for me. Eating this way, I find that I am sometimes not hungry in the morning so I skip breakfast. Later in the day, after about 15 hours of fasting, I will go running and I don’t bonk. This is a common experience for fat-adapted runners. There’s no way that would have happened in my past as a carb-loading runner(19).

I think it is worth the effort to criticize CSPI because they can influence health trends positively. CSPI is a strong advocacy group that has demonstrated capability to change when it is warranted. It will be awhile before USDA reduces the grain portion of the plate icon due to powerful special interests. CSPI can help with this. Better advice for them to give for avoiding diabetes would be:

Don’t eat sugar. Don’t eat grains.

The body makes glucose as needed without dietary carbohydrates so it would be better if CSPI recommended avoiding foods that have to be ultimately processed as simple sugars. My guess is that CSPI does not follow Jeff’s Health Notes so I will invite them to comment on this via Twitter.

Some of my comments are opinions supported only by my experience, reported experience of others, and my interpretation of research. However, there is enough science regarding what carbs do to know that an average of more than 45 percent is excessive and there is much other evidence. Look around – you will find a few people from health and food industries recommending carbs, lots of people eating carbs, and lots of people burdening the health care system with chronic diseases. Long-term LCHF eaters are not participating in this.

Notes and References:

1. This is quoted from CSPI’s article, Nation’s Health Groups Oppose Appropriations Riders Aimed at Gutting Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The author probably means “and whole grains” instead of “or whole grains”.

2. See the lecture, Wheatlessness: A 21st Century Health Strategy, by cardiologist Dr. William Davis.

3. See Jeff’s Health Notes: Eating Trends Follow Guidelines and information from the CDC:

Also, we have been eating a lot of wheat during the metabolic syndrome era…

4. Jeff’s Health Notes: Nutrition Action Debunks Low-Carb Diets???.

5. The LCHF movement is supported by science, although more is needed. Passion for it is based on the stories of millions who have experienced LCHF health, including improved blood lipid metrics, weight loss, and reversals of type 2 diabetes symptoms. There is much collective experience throughout social media.

6. While cholesterol  amassed to repair an inflammation can clog arteries, dietary saturated fat does not. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee made statements pointing out that dietary saturated fat is not a significant concern based on science. For instance, from their report…

…recent meta-analyses of prospective observational studies did not find a significant association between higher saturated fat intake and risk of CVD in large populations.

In some conflicting statements, the committee also noted that Americans are eating less saturated fat and they believe we should eat even less.

7. There is a need for unbiased nutrition science. The following article by Stephan Guyenet, PhD discusses the weak association between habitual saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol and the lack of science that, according to popular belief, demonstrates that dietary saturated fat is “artery-clogging”: Does Dietary Saturated Fat Increase Blood Cholesterol? An Informal Review of Observational Studies. Then there is the issue of whether you really want low cholesterol. Both total and LDL cholesterol metrics are not good predictors of mortality and low LDL is associated with risk for dementia. There is more about this in Jeff’s Basic Health Notes and Comments for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. Also see Zoë Harcombe’s article Saturated fat & CHD in Europe.

8. A great deal of science has demonstrated effects of excessive carbohydrate intake and much more needs to happen. Groups such as The Noakes Foundation work to advance science related to metabolic syndrome. See the References section of this website and review citations provided by the referenced sources. Some of the authors of the references, such as Dr. Joseph Mercola, have been the subject of vitriolic rhetoric from people and organizations that do not agree with his views. Ignore this and objectively review the information provided and what is cited as evidence. Special agendas often result in very skewed conclusions that get published regarding nutrition. See Interesting Low-Carb Science where scientists discover they can reverse symptoms of diabetes in rats by feeding them a low-carb diet. Also see My Five-Star Rating and Comments on The Big Fat Surprise. Read the book and review the references. There is also much information that points to LCHF benefits that is from experience. For instance, Dr. Sarah Hallberg reverses symptoms of metabolic syndrome in her clinic through the prescription of LCHF, as opposed to using high-carb ADA nutritional guidelines. Her TEDx talk, “Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines”, is published on YouTube:

9. For my admittedly controversial views on the USDA dietary guidelines, see Comments for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. Also see Food Guidelines Are Broken. Why Aren’t They Being Fixed? by Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD. which states:

The excessive consumption of carbohydrates is the primary cause of obesity and diabetes—and it’s not a stretch to implicate the dietary guidelines in these epidemics plaguing our country.  

10. Jeff’s Health Notes: More About Macronutrient Targets.

11. Zoë Harcombe: ‘Healthy whole grains’ – really?!

12. The amount of carbohydrates in whole wheat bread is almost the same as the amount in white bread. There is twice as much fiber in whole wheat. A slice of 100 percent whole wheat bread includes two grams of fiber. However, there are more concentrated fiber sources, such as from avocados. One green avocado provides 20 grams of fiber.

13. As there is no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, any amount is excessive by definition, although the extent to which carb consumption matters is widely variable. Eliminating carbs would be impractical and unnecessary. However, because our bodies produce glucose as needed from the essential macronutrients (protein and fat), I believe habitually consuming over 45 percent of your diet in carbs is extreme. This is based on known effects of elevated blood sugar and some of my own experiences with the health consequences.

14. Micheal R. Eades, M.D.: A spoonful of sugar

15. Inflammation results when the small and dense type of LDL cholesterol particles become lodged in artery walls. This type of LDL is more prevalent in people who eat low-fat high-carb diets. For a well-referenced article regarding this by cardiologist Dr. William Davis, see New Blood Test Better Predicts Heart Attack Risk. Also see Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favorable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet, Annals of Medicine.


17. Unless someone is extremely gluttonous and slothful, the only way an otherwise healthy person can become overweight is by habitually eating an amount of carbs that are excessive for their physiology. Few people are overweight due to gluttony or sloth.

18. See section 4.3 of Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition – 2015 (UK), Carbohydrates and Health.

19. Endurance athletes improve performance once they become fat-adapted.