Good Calories, Bad Calories: The Mythology of Obesity, or The Mythology of Gary Taubes?

In my last post on Gary Taubes and his book Good Calories, Bad Calories, I stated that I would do a chapter-by-chapter critique of the book, starting with Chapter 14, "The Mythology of Obesity".  In this chapter, Taubes begins to create a mystery that doesn't actually exist.  He does this through a combination of logical fallacies, selective quotation of out-dated scientific data, and leaving out existing data that conflicts with his statements.

Taubes opens the chapter with this sentence: 

"Critical to the success of any scientific enterprise is the ability to make accurate and unbiased observations."

He then goes on to say:

"...if the initial observations are incorrect or incomplete, then we will distort what it is we're trying to explain."

Taubes is correct in these statements.  Unfortunately he doesn't follow his own advice.  He notes the hypothesis that obesity is due to excess calorie consumption and/or inadequate physical activity, and then says that this hypothesis fails to explain the evidence and observations. 

However, what Taubes fails to realize is that it only fails to explain the evidence and observations when you leave out important information regarding that evidence or those observations.

Taubes's First Big Boo Boo

Taubes makes his first big mistake on the very first page of this chapter.  He writes:

Lean people will often insist that the secret to their success is eating in moderation, but many fat people insist that they eat no more than the lean - surprising as it seems, the evidence backs this up - and yet are fat nonetheless.  As the National Academy of Sciences report Diet and Health phrased it, "Most studies comparing normal and overweight people suggest that those who are overweight eat fewer calories than those of normal weight."  Researchers and public-health officials nonetheless insist that obesity is caused by overeating, without attempting to explain how these two notions can be reconciled.

The last statement in that paragraph is blatantly false.  These two notions have been reconciled over and over again in numerous studies.  It is well established that overweight people underreport their food intake on average.  In fact, there is a huge volume of literature of on this...so huge that it is surprising that Taubes missed it all.  The underreporting is quite severe.  One study comparing obese twins to their non-obese twin counterparts indicated underreporting of 764 calories per day.  Another study indicated obese subjects to be underreporting their calorie intake by over a thousand calories per day.  This is just a fraction of the data that is out there.  Yet, Taubes selectively quotes out-dated research that relied on self-report of food intake.  Taubes's reliance on out-dated and low quality data will be a consistent theme through the remainder of his book.

The phenomena of underreporting is verified when you supply overweight people with the amount of calories they claim to be eating.  In one study, women who claimed to be eating 1200 calories per day were supplied with that actual amount of food intake.  What happened?  They lost 1.7 pounds per week.  George Bray reported on a similar clinical experience.

My own clinical experience also verifies this.  For example, we had one individual who was not losing weight.  She swore to the dietitian that she was following the program.  One day, her husband came into the dietitian session with her.  He ratted her out and said she was eating 8 tablespoons of peanut butter per day and wasn't recording it in her food log.  That's over 800 calories per day of food intake that she wasn't reporting.  It is no wonder why she was not losing weight.  This is not to say that everyone who underreports food intake is blatantly lying about it.  Many people simply do a poor job of estimating their food intake.  But the fact is, people underreport their food intake.

Taubes, through selective cherry-picking, tries to create a mystery where there is no mystery.  He calls the idea of energy imbalance a "hypothesis", yet fails to consider not only the data mentioned above, but all of the controlled studies that demonstrate experimental overfeeding to create weight gain.  Researchers insist that overeating causes obesity because that's exactly what the data shows, despite Taubes's attempts to spin it otherwise.

The "Carbohydrate or Calorie" False Dichotomy

Taubes moves on to discuss data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES) survey.  From 1971 to 2000, this data showed an increase in calorie and carbohydrate intake (as a percentage of calories) in the U.S. population, while fat intake decreased.  Taubes then states:

This increase in energy intake...was "attributable primarily to an increase in carbohydrate intake."...The NHANES data suggest that either calorie or carbohydrates could account for the increase in weight...

Taubes creates a false dichotomy here by asserting that either the increased calorie intake, or the increased carbohydrate intake, was responsible for the weight gain.  However, it's not "either/or" because the two are not independent of each other.  The increased carbohydrate intake IS the increased calorie intake, so you cannot separate the two.  Taubes creates a dichotomy where none exists.

Anecdotes and Newspaper Articles are Not Scientific Evidence

Taubes goes on to discuss physical activity.  He talks about the "exercise explosion" of the 1970's and 80's, implying that Americans were more active than ever.  However, what does he cite to support this?  Some anecdotes and newspaper articles from the New York Times and the Washington Post.  He also cites statistics on the revenues of health clubs.

It is absurd to imply that physical activity is high based on some newspaper articles and gym revenues.  For example, many people join gyms but don't go, or go infrequently.  And no matter how many Americans were supposedly partaking in the "fitness revolution", it is not statistical evidence of how truly active Americans were.   Also, formal exercise only represents a small portion of total daily energy expenditure.  When it comes to physical activity, we are concerned with all physical activity throughout the day, not just formal exercise.  Gym memberships and the "fitness revolution" are not indicative of 24-hour energy expenditure.

If you look at the science rather than anecdote, you get a different picture.  While there isn't good survey data regarding physical activity from the 1970's and early 1980's, the CDC does have data on leisure-time physical activity trends from 1988 to 2008:

Now, this is just leisure time physical activity, and not 24-hour activity.  However, you can see that the trend was mostly flat, with a slight downtrend in this decade.  This data indicates that 1/3 of Americans participate in no leisure time physical activity at all.  Taubes's numbers on gym memberships are meaningless, and his claims of a "fitness revolution" do not hold when you look at the data.

There is also data out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area between 1980 and 2000.  The percentage of individuals engaging in physical activity for 30 or more minutes, at least 5 times per week, was only 8-12%.  Only 1% participated in 60 minutes daily.  While this is not national data, the results were similar to what has been observed on a national level, and contradict Taubes's implication of an "exercise or sports epidemic" in America.

There is also data estimating the cost of mechanization (dishwashers, elevators, cars, etc.) to our daily energy expenditure.  It is estimated that we expend an average of 111 calories per day less, which, if not compensated by lower food intake, would result in substantial weight gain over many years.

In the usual fashion, Taubes creates a physical activity paradox where none exists.

The Poverty/Obesity Relationship:  Not A Contradiction After All

Taubes moves on to address another apparent contradiction...that obesity rates tend to be higher among the poorest members of society.  Taubes considers this a contradiction for two reasons.  First, he presumes that the poorest members of society are also the hardest-working, have less access to labor-saving devices, and thus are the most physically active.  Second, he presumes that they are undernourished and do not eat very much.

Of course, these are both assumptions.  Interestingly, Taubes criticizes advocates of the thrifty-gene hypothesis for making assumptions.  Perhaps Taubes should take a look at his own assumptions.

When you actually investigate the scientific data, you will find that Taubes's assumptions do not hold.  First, let's look at the presumption of low calorie intake.  There is a wealth of data that shows that the calorie intake of people living in poverty is not low.  In fact, people in poverty are more likely to consume energy-dense foods, because energy-dense foods are much lower in price.  There is an inverse relationship between the energy density of foods and price.  Here is a chart showing food prices from Seattle supermarkets in 2006:

 

You can see that the least expensive foods are both the fats and the refined carbohydrate foods, so one cannot simply point a finger at carbohydrates here.  In fact, there is a several thousand percent difference between the cost of vegetable oils and sugars compared to fresh produce.  It is very easy to overconsume calories when eating energy dense foods.  In fact, the energy density of foods plays a role in regulation of food intake, and high energy-density foods lead to passive overconsumption (meaning you consume more calories without noticing it, or without adequate feelings of fullness).  For a given volume of food, the greater the energy density of your diet, the more calories you will eat.  Thus, you can actually spend less and eat more.

People in poverty are more likely to underreport their food intake.  They are also  more likely to skip breakfast, which can result in appetite dysregulation and greater daily energy intakes (interestingly, adolescent breakfast skippers also have lower carbohydrate intakes).  Also, low-income urban neighborhoods have a high density of small food stores, which carry mostly energy-dense foods.

Let's also look at the presumption of high activity.  This does not hold when one looks at the data.  According to NHANES, leisure time physical inactivity is higher in people below the poverty line compared to people above the line.  This is particularly true among women, where obesity rates also tend to be higher.

On top of all that, Taubes fails to consider that obesity rates for higher socioeconomic classes increased at a higher rate than lower socioeconomic classes from 1976 to 2008.

The bottom line is that poverty does not mean chronic energy deficiency or high physical activity.  In fact, impoverished populations with true chronic energy deficiency have almost no obesity.

Pima Problems

Taubes continues to get it wrong when he moves to discuss the Pima Indians, again relying on old data from the 1800's and eary 1900's, including journals and anecdotes rather than rigorous scientific research.  He discusses how the Pimas went from food abundance to poverty when placed on reservations, along with a corresponding rise in obesity.  He implies that it could not have been due to an increase in energy intake or a decrease in physical activity.  His support for that?  Anecdotes from anthropologists.  Taubes relies heavily on anecdotes from anthropologists Frank Russell and Ales Hrdlicka.  Taubes comments how obesity was most prevalent among the Pima women, who also (supposedly) "worked considerably harder than the men", and mentions how Russell was not particularly confident that the Pima were no longer active (I'm not sure how Taubes can infer Russell's level of confidence from written words).    He mentions the low fat intake of the Pima (24% of calories, according to data from the physician Frank Hesse), and the high intakes of refined flour, sugar, and canned fruits.  The implication, of course, is that it's the carbohydrates causing the obesity, not elevated energy intake and/or reduced energy expenditure.

When one looks at more modern, higher quality scientific data, we get a different story.  There is a group of Pima Indians living in a remote region of the Sierra Madre Mountains in an area only recently accessible by road.  These Pima have experienced little change in environmental conditions, and continue to lead the traditional lifestyle of the Pimas of the 1800's.  A number of studies have compared these Pima Indians to the U.S. Pima Indians living on reservations.  Rates of obesity are dramatically lower among the Mexican Pimas compared to the U.S. Pimas, while physical activity levels are 2.5-7 times higher.  Direct measurements of energy expenditure using doubly-labeled water have shown the energy expenditure of the Mexican Pimas to be 600 calories per day higher than U.S. Pimas.  The Mexican Pima Indians have a diet of over 60% carbohydrate, and around 26% fat.  Estimates of the traditional Pima diet before the influx of the white man place the carbohydrate intake even higher at 70-80% carbohydrate.  So much for carbohydrate causing obesity!

Chapter 14:  Nothing But Mythology

The bottom line is that the vast majority of the information in chapter 14 is misleading and based on very selective reporting of mostly old, low quality data.  Unfortunately this journalistic style of Taubes continues through the rest of the book.  Supposedly Taubes did 6 years of research for this book, yet it took me only a few days of PubMed searches to find better research.  Chapter 14 is more an exercise in confirmation bias than true scientific inquiry.

I will discuss Chapter 15, "Hunger", in a future blog post.

382 Responses to “Good Calories, Bad Calories: The Mythology of Obesity, or The Mythology of Gary Taubes?

  • An outstanding critique! So many oversights on the part of G.T. The irony is blinding, really. Decreeing the need for objectivity and proceding to cherry pick studies and draw conclusions based on erroneous and/or incomplete data.

    Look forward to this series – nice work as usual, James.

  • Oh and get your umbrella, James – the forecast calls for a storm of logical fallacies : )

  • You raise some interesting points. I was impressed with Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” but obviously some of his conclusions can be challenged.

    Diet book authors often oversimplify the evidence. Let the buyer (eater) beware.

    Jim Purdy

  • There is a plethora of data showing that obese people mis-calculate cals more severely than lean or moderate weight individuals. Actually, the relative mis-calculation is about the same, but when eating more cals this relative amount is higher in absolute terms. To illuminate my point considering the following- 10% Miscalculation of 4000 cals = 400 cals, while a 10% Miscalculation of 2000 cals =2000 cals. Obese people eat more cals and under reporting becomes more significant with bigger meals.

    Bogl et al. (2009) “The measurement of habitual dietary intake and physical activity has previously relied on subjective self-reports that are prone to misreporting. By using comparative measures within twin pairs we found that the amount of food consumed is the major contributor to obesity independent of genetic predisposition.” There is a huge amount of scientific data indicating that calorie consumption is the key player in weight gain and loss. The often mentioned “Mystery of Weigth Loss”, is not really a mystery.

    Maybe Taubes doesn’t understand the definition of a hypothesis;energy balance is not a hypothesis, but a theory- a hypothesis that has proven successful on. numerous occasions, near absolute certainty (yet not quite, as there are no absolutes in science) on the bead model of truth. Note, theory does not carry the same weight in everyday conversation as it does in science.

    As James mentions anecdotes and newspaper articles are not scientific evidence, this should be apparent.

    Great article, keep up the good work.

    jamie hale

  • Excellent stuff, James. I’ll be sharing this on a couple high-traffic forums.

  • Jean Paulo
    9 years ago

    As always, thank you for writing this article. I can’t wait for people to realize Taubes’ nonsensical claims against carbohydrates. I enjoy reading all the articles in your site. Keep up the good work.

    God bless!

  • Great start to your critique of Taubes’s book. I think you hit the nail on the head with the whole “it’s the calories or the carbs” argument. I’ve often pointed out to folks on LC forums that the much talked about carb creep, which many LC’ers blame for regaining weight, is actually a calorie increase! Can’t wait to read the next installment …

  • Thanks for all of your comments, guys. It’s a lot of work researching this stuff; I’m glad you all get benefit out of it.

    Jamie, thanks for the reference to the Hogl paper and the further analysis. Steve, thanks for posting on other forums.

  • Cool!

  • James,

    I’ll unscramble some of the stuff you wrote on this blog soon, but first explain what you mean by this statement:

    “Yet, Taubes selectively quotes out-dated research…” Out dated? What do you mean by this?

    What then is “in date” research? Please explain to us all why research performed decades ago is any less valid than research performed today?

    I’ll get to the rest of this lop-sided review when I have a chance. There are so many errors in it that it makes my head spin.

    I urge everyone here to read GCBC. Don’t just skim and say you read it. Read it slowly and cover to cover. THEN read James’ critique and see what you think. If you haven’t read the book, there is no point in reading this critique, right? Right.

    • What then is “in date” research? Please explain to us all why research performed decades ago is any less valid than research performed today?

      When the methodology of more recent research is superior to the methodology of research decades ago, then yes, the most recent research should carry more weight. This is especially true as we have better techniques for measuring things than we did back then.

      A perfect example is the issue of self-report of food intake and obesity. Before the invention of doubly labeled water, the only tool we had to know someone’s food intake was self-report. However, data over the past decade indicates that the self-report data of the 1980’s and 1990’s was not accurate. Thus, the more recent data trumps the old data. Yet Taubes relied on self-report data, despite the fact that better data was available to him when he wrote the book. That is not the action of a scientist performing scientific inquiry…that is the action of someone trying to create a story.

      Newer research also trumps older research if the methodological rigor is greater and the studies are of higher quality. This is true regarding the Pima Indians. Controlled scientific studies are more reliable than anecdotes from anthropologists.

      I urge everyone here to read GCBC. Don’t just skim and say you read it. Read it slowly and cover to cover. THEN read James’ critique and see what you think.

      Yes, everyone here should do that. And keep in mind that I’m only giving you a fraction of the data that Taubes has so conveniently left out of his book. If anyone here would like to research for themselves, go to PubMed.com and you can search for well-designed, controlled research on these topics (rather than anecdotes, stories, newspaper articles, and old scientific research using inferior methodology). For example, do a PubMed search for “obese underreporting” and see the wealth of studies you come up with, or “Pima Indians” or “energy density cost food”. And if any of you would like the full text of these articles, I would be happy to provide them for you so that you can investigate and read for yourself.

  • Good Critique. I am a low carbohydrate advocate, but dont share many Taubes’ ideas. From your article:

    “They are also more likely to skip breakfast, which can result in appetite dysregulation and greater daily energy intakes (interestingly, adolescent breakfast skippers also have lower carbohydrate intakes).”

    There is nothing wrong with skipping breakfast, on the contrary, it might be beneficial as it includes a fasting period. Most studies that show that eating breakfast is better than not is because a. The trial is made in such a short time that metabolic adaptations (regarding mostly the circadian rhythm) dont occur (actually, IF resets clock disruptions, but its another topic) and b. They are observational studies.

    Healthwise, a low carb approach is better. Bodyweight (excess BODYFAT that is) is only the tip of the iceberg in the problem….and both increased calories AND increased carbohydrate consumption are the culprit.

    • Healthwise, a low carb approach is better.

      There is little solid scientific evidence that a low carb approach is any better than moderate intakes regarding health. In fact, good health can occur across a broad spectrum of macronutrient intakes.

      • There is little solid scientific evidence that a low carb approach is any better than moderate intakes regarding health.In fact, good health can occur across a broad spectrum of macronutrient intakes.  

        We can start with this one:

        http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/Meeting2/CommentAttachments/Feinman-Volek2009-170.pdf

        • Why don’t you look at the individual responses to the diets and maybe you would realize that the “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t fit all. Like I’ve said before, I’m not against low-carb diets in any way. But the fact is they don’t work for everyone, which has been my consistent position this entire time.

          • “Why don’t you look at the individual responses to the diets and maybe you would realize that the “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t fit all. Like I’ve said before, I’m not against low-carb diets in any way. But the fact is they don’t work for everyone, which has been my consistent position this entire time.”

            I have looked at them and LC does work for everyone who follows the diet. They just work better for some, for reasons that should be painfully obvious. Conversely, high carb does not work better for anyone for improving health markers.

            For reversing the effects of classic metabolic syndrome, are you suggesting that some people would do better eating high carb diet? Yes or no?

  • David Boothman
    9 years ago

    Outdated means not written by your friends. This is how peer review now works. Facts expire with the cohort that produced them to be replaced by childish attempts at science by their replacements. It reminds of the barbarians camping in the remains of London after the Romans left and marveling at the sewers that once worked. Get used to it, the financial debacle and losing your house is just the start. The know-it-all syndrome is not isolated to finance.

    • David,

      Read my response to Fred Hahn what “outdated” means.

      Science is all about making progress regarding knowledge. As newer techniques for making measurements become available, our knowledge expands. The new knowledge will either confirm previous knowledge, or it will overturn it (like how doubly-labeled water data overturned the old self-report data).

      If you have logical reasons why Taubes’s citations of newspaper articles, anecdotes, gym financials, data based on self-report, etc., should take precedent over more modern science, then please do explain.

  • BaronSky
    9 years ago

    I’m looking forward to your future posts in this series!

    When you get a chance, please check out this blog post: http://tinyurl.com/2c5gm5m

    The blogger presents some fairly bullet-proof evidence that Taubes may have willfully disregarded scientific information that did not agree with his thesis. It has to do with the idea presented in GCBC that the glycerol portion of triglycerides can only be produced from glucose. She uses GCBC’s reference list to show that Taubes came across a review paper that discusses glyceroneogenesis (the creation of glycerol phosphate from non-carbohydrate precursors) in detail. The notion that glucose must be available in order to store body fat was a major point of his carbohydrate hypothesis; glyceroneogenesis greatly weakens that point. It seems Taubes was aware of it, yet ignored it. Very telling, IMO.

    • BaronSky,

      Thank you for that link. That is excellent information.

      That is not the first example of Taubes willingly disregarding scientific information that doesn’t agree with his thesis. Barbara Rolls commented how she sent him a huge pile of research on satiety and he ignored all of it. He also interviewed her for over 6 hours, and he ignored all the information from that too.

      The deeper you dig regarding Taubes, the more his credibility disappears.

  • Jean Paulo
    9 years ago

    I can’t stand all these nonsensical theories why carbs are evil blah blah, insulin causes fat storage regardless of calorie balance etc.

    Keep up the great work Mr. Krieger

  • Shelly Smith
    9 years ago

    Anecdotes are not scientific evidence – unless they’re your anecdotes, and every single obese person sneaks spoonfuls of peanut butter, because your anecdote saying that one did.

    When you advocate high-carb diets, you advocate sickness and death – and you profit from this, too. That’s horrible, and I don’t know how people like you can live with yourselves. But hey, keeping people fat and sick helps put more money in your pocket. I totally understand that.

    • Anecdotes are not scientific evidence – unless they’re your anecdotes, and every single obese person sneaks spoonfuls of peanut butter, because your anecdote saying that one did

      Apparently you didn’t read the studies I cited using doubly labeled water, nor did you read the study I cited where obese people were supplied with their claimed energy intakes and lost weight. The anecdote was only supplied in addition to this research, not in place of it.

      When you advocate high-carb diets

      Where did I say I advocate high-carb diets? This is a strawman. Not only did you not read the studies I cited, but apparently you also didn’t read my last post here, where I specifically state:

      Of course, I already sense a bunch of strawmen coming my way, including accusations that I am somehow against low-carbohydrate diets. I am not. In fact, I have attended the Nutrition & Metabolism Society conference (an organization that is heavily interested in low carbohydrate diets), been a reviewer for their journal, and have either met or know high-profile scientists in the low-carbohydrate arena, including Eric Westman, Marie Vernon, Richard Feinman, Jeff Volek, and others. I have also published research on low-carbohydrate diets myself. Low-carbohydrate diets are certainly an effective strategy for some people intending to lose weight…but they are not the only strategy, nor are they the best strategy for everyone. And they do not work for the reasons that some people think they work.

      I essentially predicted the type of response that you just made.

      you advocate sickness and death

      The Okinawans eat extremely high carbohydrate diets and are among the longest-living people in the world. Perhaps you should re-examine your assumptions.

      and you profit from this, too

      I’m not sure how I profit from something that I never recommended.

      I don’t know how people like you can live with yourselves

      I’m don’t know how people like you construct such absurd statements. You ignored all the scientific studies I cited. You claim I recommended something that I never did. You construct a strawman, insinuating that I’m somehow against low-carbohydrate diets.

  • BaronSky
    9 years ago

    Shelly Smith – reading comprehension is not your strong suit apparently. James never said that the anecdote of the peanut butter eater was *evidence* of anything. He offered it as an *example* of what scientific research bears out – that the overweight under-report how much they eat. James posted hyperlinks to this scientific research; how could you miss it? The rest of your post sinks to the level of a straw man argument and therefore doesn’t even deserve a response.

    It has begun…LMAO!

  • James you said:

    “Low-carbohydrate diets are certainly an effective strategy for some people intending to lose weight…but they are not the only strategy, nor are they the best strategy for everyone. And they do not work for the reasons that some people think they work.”

    1. What sorts of people would a low carb diet NOT be an effective strategy for losing fat and improving internal health markers? Please give examples. Skip the rare cases like people who are missing their gall bladders.

    2. In whom would raising carbohydrates be a better strategy for fat loss? We all realize that switching carbs from refined grains to vegetables is better – FOR EVERYONE. But in whom would increasing total carbohydrate be superior for fat loss? IOW, what types of obese people would experience greater fat loss from increasing total digestible carb grams even of the healthiest kind?

    We all realize that insulin resistance is the issue when discussing excessive fat accumulation. But how does one become insulin resistant? One might assume, if one was to think two dimensionally, that insulin resistance is caused by many factors. But it is not. In fact, if one adopts and sticks to a very low carb diet, it is virtually impossible to become insulin resistant. Chronically elevated insulin caused by excessive carbohydrate consumption – of any type of carbohydrate as all carbohydrates are ultimately converted to glucose – leads to insulin resistance in many people.

    It is the carbs James. It is indeed. And every other factor that can contribute to insulin resistance won’t contribute if a person is eating a healthful, low carb diet.

    • Fred:
      “2. In whom would raising carbohydrates be a better strategy for fat loss?”

      The people who would better adhere to a high carb diet. Adherence is key. What if one is miserable on a low carb diet, but enjoys a high carb diet? I assume adherence would be better for the latter.

      I ate a low carb diet years ago, and I’m on a low-cal diet now. I much prefer the low-cal approach. It’s so wonderful to not have to worry about carbs, to eat any type of food I want, from any food group or category, as long as I’m in a deficit. No type of food is excluded. I lost some weight on low carb, but I fell off the wagon and gained most of the weight back. It wasn’t sustainable to have to deprive myself of so many foods that I enjoy. Now I can eat the foods I prefer, just less of them.

      And, on another personal note, recently I’ve reduced my meat intake and it seems to have improved my digestion. I won’t get into the details, obviously. lol. This is not a weight loss issue, but obviously it’s an important issue to me, from a “quality of life” perspective. I’ve only made this change recently, so I’ll see how it goes. But as long as reducing my meat intake continues to improve my digestion, I’ll continue with that. So I don’t think a low carb diet is really the right fit for me, in terms of adherence/ sustainability, enjoyment, and digestion.

      “We all realize that insulin resistance is the issue when discussing excessive fat accumulation.”

      And some of us realize that excess calorie intake is the issue when discussing excessive fat accumulation. 🙂

      • “The people who would better adhere to a high carb diet. Adherence is key. What if one is miserable on a low carb diet, but enjoys a high carb diet? I assume adherence would be better for the latter.”

        I am not talking adherence. I am talking physiologically.

        “I ate a low carb diet years ago, and I’m on a low-cal diet now. I much prefer the low-cal approach. It’s so wonderful to not have to worry about carbs, to eat any type of food I want, from any food group or category, as long as I’m in a deficit. No type of food is excluded. I lost some weight on low carb, but I fell off the wagon and gained most of the weight back. It wasn’t sustainable to have to deprive myself of so many foods that I enjoy. Now I can eat the foods I prefer, just less of them.”

        First of all, you say it is so wonderful not to have to worry about carbs yet you now have to worry about calories. How long will you sustain this do you think? No one sustains a low calorie diet for long. And if you are on a low calorie diet, and eating a lot of carbs, you are now on an unhealthy diet that is nutritionally inferior. And by lowering your calories, you are by default on a LOWER carb diet than you were before or you would not be losing weight.

        “And, on another personal note, recently I’ve reduced my meat intake and it seems to have improved my digestion. I won’t get into the details, obviously. lol. This is not a weight loss issue, but obviously it’s an important issue to me, from a “quality of life” perspective. I’ve only made this change recently, so I’ll see how it goes. But as long as reducing my meat intake continues to improve my digestion, I’ll continue with that. So I don’t think a low carb diet is really the right fit for me, in terms of adherence/ sustainability, enjoyment, and digestion.”

        What kind of meats were you eating before? How do you know that your improved digestion, whatever that means, isn’t due to eating less food? The fact is your diet now is nutritionally inferior and your health will suffer for it in the long run.

        Why don’t you list a typical days meals and we’ll see how nutritionally sound it is.

        • I am not talking adherence. I am talking physiologically.

          Any proposed physiological superiority of a diet is irrelevant if someone doesn’t want to stick with the diet in the first place.

          • “Any proposed physiological superiority of a diet is irrelevant if someone doesn’t want to stick with the diet in the first place.”

            That’s a cop-out.

            If a doctor prescribes a drug for a condition, and it is the best drug for that condition, he still prescribes it even though the patient might not take it.

            If people were taught that the low carb approach was the most healthful, they just might stick to it seeing as how it is a very delicious and satiating way to eat.

            The fact is, a low carb diet a la Protein Power, Paleo Diet, etc., is the most healthful way to eat. Nothing even compares.

          • That’s a cop-out.

            Hardly. If someone won’t stick with a low-carb diet, then it simply won’t work. I find it amusing how Taubes says that long-term dieting doesn’t work because people don’t stick with it. Yet, when you look at the long-term trials on low-carb diets, most people don’t stick with it either.

            If a doctor prescribes a drug for a condition, and it is the best drug for that condition, he still prescribes it even though the patient might not take it.

            That’s a poor analogy. First, there is usually a variety of drugs available for particular conditions, and efficacy is often similar. If one drug causes side effects or if the patient simply isn’t willing to take that drug, then you try a different drug.

            Second, the concept that a low-carb approach is “most healthful” has little scientific support. Somatotropina posted some studies showing greater changes in some biomarkers related to health that were independent of weight loss, but the problem is that a greater change does not necessarily mean greater long term health benefits. A 10 point drop in systolic blood pressure one one diet, and a 15 point drop on another, doesn’t necessarily mean one diet will result in less long-term disease than the other. Otherwise that would be like arguing that someone with a systolic BP of 100 is healtheir than someone with a systolic BP of 110; the fact is they are both in the healthy range. When one looks at populations with the lowest disease rates, we find a variety of healthful dietary approaches across different populations. The main things in common among all of these approaches is a reliance on unprocessed, minimally refined foods.

            Even if a low carb approach was more healthful, it is not dramatically more healthful, and individual responses vary dramatically (an individualized approach is obviously something you do not understand with your constant tendency to force a one-size-fits-all approach on everyone). Let’s say a low-carb approach was 10% more healthful, but another approach still offered reasonably good health. If someone was not willing to stick with the low-carb approach, but is willing to stick with the other approach, then the other approach is obviously superior for that individual.

            Of course, the whole idea of “healthful” is very vague in and of itself. “Health” can be defined in many ways, from the absence of chronic disease to the way one psychologically feels.

            The fact is, a low carb diet a la Protein Power, Paleo Diet, etc., is the most healthful way to eat. Nothing even compares.

            Again, there is very little good scientific evidence for that. Second, I find it interesting for you to make that comment when the people in this world with the longest life expectancies and lowest chronic disease rates don’t consume low-carb diets.

          • Wow. So let me get this straight Jim, lowering BP, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering triglycerides, increasing HDL, altering LDL particle size, etc. all achieved in a superior fashion via a low carb diet is meaningless because we don’t know if any of these benefits are actually benefits in the long term. Is that your argument?

            And no – sometimes there is NOT more than one substance to treat a condition. Sometimes there is only one like insulin.

            The problem is that no one is teaching people that a low carb approach is the most healthful – for everyone. You evaded my question before when I asked who it might be more healthful for? You side stepped it saying “for those who don’t prefer a low carb diet.”

            There are no healthy humans who would fare better from a health perspective eating a high carb diet. Living long does not mean living healthy. Look at the people in the caloric restriction society. They look like they are 20 years older than they are. They may live longer but they will live frailer and less robustly. Take a look at these folks

            http://www.crsociety.org/Video_Clips

          • The problem is that no one is teaching people that a low carb approach is the most healthful – for everyone.

            No one is teaching that because there is no most healthful diet for everyone. Once again, you are completely ignorant of the concept of individualized responses. Did you look at the individual responses for the study you linked to? Not everyone did well on the low carb diet. Some people had adverse changes in blood lipids.

          • Really? You need to look a bit closer James.

            ALL of the people in the CR (carb restricted) diet had lower TCG.

            Most in the CR group had improvements in HDL-C. A few of the individuals went down a bit in HDL-C BUT ALL of the CR subjects improved their overall TCG/HDL ratio which is more important than total HDL-C.

            BMI improved in ALL of the CR participants.

            LDL-C was a toss up. Half in both groups did better or worse so for LDL-C it’s a toss up which diet you choose.

            TC (total cholesterol) went up in some of the CR subjects but this is in part due to the significant improvements in HDL.-C. If your total HDL goes up due to HDL going up this is good.

            And it is well established that TCG/HDL is a more important and telling ratio than TC/HDL which improved the greatest by far in the CR group.

            Overall, what this paper shows is that for these subjects, the CR fared better overall for everyone.

          • “If your total HDL goes up due to HDL going up this is good.”

            I meant to say if your total cholesterol goes up…

          • You side stepped it saying “for those who don’t prefer a low carb diet.”

            I actually said much more than that. I would also add “people who don’t respond well to low-carb diets” to that list.

            Living long does not mean living healthy.

            I would like to see you present some evidence that the Okinawans are not “living healthy.” You act as if they’re all frail, weak people who live a miserable life.

        • Fred:
          “I am not talking adherence. I am talking physiologically.”

          You asked about a “strategy for weight loss.” I think adherence is an important element of any successful weight loss strategy. As James wrote, the diet doesn’t matter if someone can’t or won’t follow it.

          “First of all, you say it is so wonderful not to have to worry about carbs yet you now have to worry about calories.”

          Yes, but I can eat a variety of foods, and I can eat what I like to eat. For example, last night I had pizza. 🙂

          “How long will you sustain this do you think? No one sustains a low calorie diet for long.”

          It doesn’t have to be for long, just as long as it takes to lose the weight! I’ve lost 55 pounds so far (255 to 200.) And I’ve lost 50 of those pounds since February. I have another 25 pounds to lose, so hopefully it won’t take much longer. Then I can bump it up to a maintenance level.

          “And by lowering your calories, you are by default on a LOWER carb diet than you were before or you would not be losing weight.”

          Yes, and lower fat and protein, too. Much lower.

          “What kind of meats were you eating before? How do you know that your improved digestion, whatever that means, isn’t due to eating less food?”

          It was a problem whether I was eating more or less. I don’t want to get into it too much, for obvious reasons. My point is that there are other dietary concerns other than weight loss, macronutrients, etc. For me personally- and I’m just talking about myself here- I don’t think a high meat diet would be conducive to comfortable, convenient, efficient digestion. Again, that’s just me.

          “The fact is your diet now is nutritionally inferior and your health will suffer for it in the long run.”

          Ooh, I’m so scared! lol. It’ll be fun proving you wrong.

          I’m eating a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, eggs, yogurt, etc. Mostly whole foods, but some treats here and there, as well. I think I’m doing okay. 🙂

          • You probably didn’t measure it but I can guarantee you you’ve lost a good deal of lean mass going from 255 to 200. How long has it taken you do lose the 55 pounds?

            The foods you list are good ones save for the pizza.

          • Fred:
            “You probably didn’t measure it but I can guarantee you you’ve lost a good deal of lean mass going from 255 to 200. ”

            Nope. Not happening. Your scaremongering won’t work on me. It may work on others, but not me. I put up with all that hysteria and scaremongering on the Internet for years. No more. I’m done with it. Sorry, Fred. I hate to break it to you, but I’m feeling good and healthy and losing weight and there’s not a damn thing you can do about! I’m also strength training, and that’s gone well. And no, I’m not doing that your way either! lol.

            “How long has it taken you do lose the 55 pounds?”

            I lost a few pounds here and there before February, and 50 pounds since February. And I’ve done it without once thinking about reducing carbs.

            “The foods you list are good ones save for the pizza.”

            But boy did it taste good! I also had a slice of key lime pie a couple of nights ago. Yum! Sorry, I’m just not going to give up my favorite foods for you or anyone else. I’m losing weight my way, not yours, and I’m enjoying it immensely. 🙂

          • This is what is amazing about you, Fred. You are completely unable to accept that someone had a successful approach that does not involve low carbohydrate. This person is both happy and healthy using this approach.

            And your comment regarding lean mass is strange, given that a loss of lean mass can be due to a loss of any non-fat tissue (including body water). In fact, in the only study that I am aware of that compared a low-carb, high protein diet to a moderate-carb, high protein diet while using a 4-compartment model, the low-carb approach caused a significantly greater loss of fat-free mass AND a non-significantly greater loss of protein.

          • Of course Jordan has lost some lean mass going from 255 – 200, but that’s normal. The same lean mass that he gained along with fat going from 200 – 255 his body simply doesn’t need to move around a heavier load, so it uses it. This happens on ANY diet, regardless of composition. However, as James notes, following a LC diet can help you lose a bit less LBM; however, the same thing could be achieved by making sure that your eating enough protein that helps to offset your body form using it’s own tissues. Lyle McDonald does a really good job explaining this in his books.

          • Hi, Muata,

            Just to make a correction, lean mass loss is actually greater on a low-carb diet. This was clearly shown in the study I referenced, which used a 4-compartment model for assessing body composition (the only study of which I’m aware that has used this model).

            I will address other comments at a later time.

          • From the paper:

            “These additional losses probably are associated with the 0.7 MJ/d lower energy intake with the LC diet than with the MC diet.”

            They didn’t take in the same amount of calories. Had they, we might have seen no difference in lean mass loss in the LC group. The LC group ate 12 grams less protein per day.

          • 12 grams less protein per day is a miniscule amount and isn’t biologically significant, let alone statistically significant. It is absurd to suggest that this small difference played any role, particularly since this amount is well within the margin of error of dietary assessment. Even if energy intake had been equivalent and there had been no difference in FFM loss, it flies in the face of claims of superiority of a LC diet for maintaining muscle. It has also been found in other research that ketosis provides no advantage in improving protein retention during a fed state.

          • 12 grams less protein per day is a miniscule amount and isn’t biologically significant, let alone statistically significant.It is absurd to suggest that this small difference played any role, particularly since this amount is well within the margin of error of dietary assessment.Even if energy intake had been equivalent and there had been no difference in FFM loss, it flies in the face of claims of superiority of a LC diet for maintaining muscle.It has also been found in other research that ketosis provides no advantage in improving protein retention during a fed state.  

            If I could find the link, I would show you where you and Alan Aragon argued with me RE a study that showed greater fat loss with LC and you both argued it was not the LC but because the protein content was higher – and it was – by about 15 grams.

            Man oh man. You’ll say anything at all just to be right. You evade and ignore that which you can’t reply to and speak with a forked tongue when convenient for you.

          • Fred,

            I was going to give you the last word, but when you use that last word to tell a lie, then I will have to speak up. The thread you are referring to is here, and there is nothing in the entire 15 pages of that thread to suggest what you are saying is true. Anyone can go there and see for themselves. Look through every post by Alan Aragon and myself and see.

            This is the second time you’ve been caught lying in this thread, and it’s not the first time you’ve lied elsewhere (such as when you lied to the NMS group about statements that Cassandra Forsythe made).

          • Why do you assume he had more lean mass at 255? How do you know. Often, though not always, obese people have less lean mass. I’ll dig up the papers on this – the research I am talking about was discussed at the Nutrition and Metabolism Society symposium in 2009. I believe Dr. Paddon-Jones presented it.

            I am suggesting that simply eating less food will-nilly, eating whatever you like like pizza and pie and just eating less in total is NOT a healthy way to lose.

          • Because to move around a 255 lb. man takes more FFM/LBM than it does to move around a 200lb man. How can obese people have less lean mass when they have a higher metabolism than their lean counterparts, especially when FFM/LBM is used as a major predictor of a person’s metabolic rate?

            Also, when you consider that FFM/LBM is basically anything that’s not fat, then it becomes clear that obese folks have more because their organs (part of their FFM) are larger than their lean or smaller counterparts. Also, when your throw in water, connective tissues, skeletal muscle, etc., it all makes sense that the obese have more FFM. When someone is in a positive energy balance consistently over a period of time they gain both LBM and fat.

            I agree that a person who wants to lose weight in an intelligent manner should be aware of their macros, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with having pizza or pie. Since you’re part of the strength world too Fred, I’m sure that you’ve seen bodybuilders have all out sweet feasts after a show.

          • CarbSane
            9 years ago

            Why do you assume he had more lean mass at 255?

            Read this study that I blogged about because e results caught my eye because of my body composition, weight and size.

            How someone in your position can even question this is surprising. Shocking really.

          • “This is what is amazing about you, Fred. You are completely unable to accept that someone had a successful approach that does not involve low carbohydrate. This person is both happy and healthy using this approach”

            It’s not a matter of acceptance Jim. It’s a matter of whether or not he is losing fat in the healthiest and expeditious way possible – something you obviously could care less about. My acceptance is beside the point.

            When I talk to clients I try to give them the best choice possible and educate them as best as I can. If they choose to just eat less food in total to lose weight opting to eat the foods they enjoy, they ALWAYS lose lean mass and significantly decrease the nutrient density of their meals. Pizza? Give me a break. That’s shit food chock full of antinutrients.

            And how do you know if he is healthy James? DO you know this guy personally? His entire story could be BS. That ever occur to you?

            Fat free mass can be water loss and usually of not always is a part of a VLCD. We account for this to determine the difference. Not only this, clients who go the low calorie route almost always lose strength or we have difficulty getting them much stronger.

    • What sorts of people would a low carb diet NOT be an effective strategy for losing fat and improving internal health markers?

      People who don’t like low-carb diets.

      People who aren’t willing to adhere to a low-carb diet.

      People who feel miserable on low-carb diets.

      People who like to engage in high amounts of exercise where carbohydrate is a primary fuel source.

      People who want a more moderate approach

      One might assume, if one was to think two dimensionally, that insulin resistance is caused by many factors. But it is not.

      Sleep loss causes insulin resistance

      Psychological stress causes insulin resistance

      Prolonged inactivity causes insulin resistance

      Fat overfeeding (without extra carbohydrate) causes insulin resistance. And in this study, carbohydrate overfeeding decreased insulin resistance!

      Chronically elevated insulin caused by excessive carbohydrate consumption – of any type of carbohydrate as all carbohydrates are ultimately converted to glucose – leads to insulin resistance in many people.

      Tell that to the traditional Okinawans who don’t have any insulin resistance yet consume a diet of mostly carbohydrate.

      It is the carbs James. It is indeed.

      And you can keep ignoring all of the cited literature that indicates insulin resistance has numerous causes, and carbohydrate itself will not inherently cause insulin resistance.

      • “People who don’t like low-carb diets. People who aren’t willing to adhere to a low-carb diet. People who feel miserable on low-carb diets. People who like to engage in high amounts of exercise where carbohydrate is a primary fuel source. People who want a more moderate approach.”

        Sorry I should have clarified. Physiologically speaking, who would do better? Some people find it better to smoke less than to quit. that doesn’t make light smoking healthy.

        “Tell that to the traditional Okinawans who don’t have any insulin resistance yet consume a diet of mostly carbohydrate.”

        They eat a low calorie diet James and real food. Yes, if you eat a green pepper and a small bowl of rice a day all the while under eating caloric requirements, you won’t become insulin resistant because you are not eating enough carbohydrates.

        Since they eat little, they are eating a low carbohydrate diet even though most of their calories come from carbohydrates.

        And as I said even though there are other factors that contribute, show me a single study that indicates that insulin resistance occurs in people on very low carb diets who also suffer from the aforementioned problems.

        This paper is garbage and you know it.

        http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/6/1/37

        “We conclude that acute bouts of overnutrition lead to changes at the cellular level before whole-body insulin sensitivity is altered.”

        Before? Say what? What does that mean?

        • Since they eat little, they are eating a low carbohydrate diet even though most of their calories come from carbohydrates.

          The traditional Okinawan diet was estimated to be around 1,785 calories per day. At 85% carbohydrate, that’s 379 grams of carbohydrate per day. Wow, so you’re claiming that 379 grams of carbohydrate per day is a low carbohydrate diet? Apparently you have absolutely no standards regarding what is considered low.

          And as I said even though there are other factors that contribute

          Apparently you have very short term memory of what you actually said. Why don’t we go back to this comment and see…

          One might assume, if one was to think two dimensionally, that insulin resistance is caused by many factors. But it is not.

          Those are your exact words.

          This paper is garbage and you know it.

          Then please explain why it’s garbage. Asserting something doesn’t make it so.

          Before? Say what? What does that mean?

          There are molecular changes that are precursors to changes in insulin sensitivity (no different from how there are molecular signals that are precursors to elevations in muscle protein synthesis, which have also been studied). This study showed these changes to occur with fat overfeeding, along with no elevation in carbohydrate.

          Here’s a direct quote from the authors:

          In contrast, we found that high-fat (HF) overfeeding results in a significant increase in serine phosphorylated IRS-1, a traditional determinant of insulin resistance. At the same time, HF overfeeding is associated with increased expression of p85α and decreased association of p110 with IRS-1 and decreased insulin-stimulated PI 3-kinase activity. Although in the present study we cannot determine which component (serine phosphorylation of IRS-1 or increased expression of p85α) plays a greater role, these changes are typically associated with insulin resistance in skeletal muscle.

          And why don’t we also look at the data. Here’s the GDR data which indicates insulin sensitivity:

          Eucaloric: 12.1 +/- 4.7
          HC: 10.9 +/- 2.7
          HF: 10.8 +/- 3.4

          Certainly a trend towards lower insulin sensitivity in both the high-carb and high-fat overfeeding groups, although not statistically significant (which is not surprising because of the variability and the fact there’s only 21 subjects). To statistically detect the difference with 80% power, you would need roughly 50 subjects.

          • I cannot pull the full text of this:

            http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117986031/abstract

            I’d like to read it. Would you mind sending it my way? Thanks.

          • “The traditional Okinawan diet was estimated to be around 1,785 calories per day. At 85% carbohydrate, that’s 379 grams of carbohydrate per day. Wow, so you’re claiming that 379 grams of carbohydrate per day is a low carbohydrate diet? Apparently you have absolutely no standards regarding what is considered low.”

            From what I can tell, the diet data is from 1949 – a few years after the end of the war. I highly doubt that they were eating their usual and typical fare at this devastating period in their time.

            We need data from pre-war times to accurately assess what the Okinawans typically ate. So to suggest that the foods in 1949 were indicative of the Okinawan usual fare is a guess.

            And those who lived into their older years were eating the pre-war, usual Okinawan fare which more than likely had a lot more pork and fish.

            This ever occur to yo?

  • James said:

    “The Okinawans eat extremely high carbohydrate diets and are among the longest-living people in the world. Perhaps you should re-examine your assumptions.”

    Please cite the evidence to support this claim and define “extreme” please.

      • This paper proves nothing.

        “…particularly the traditional diet, which is low in calories yet nutritionally dense,…”

        There you have it.

        To suggest that the Okinawans eat a high carb diet all the while knowing they eat very little calories and much of their carbs from vegetables and fruit in order to support your assertion that a high carb diet can be healthful is slippery.

        And of the ten verified oldest people who ever lived, 4 were Americans and 3 were Japanese none from Okinawa. And Italy tops Japan for the oldest population.

        • This paper proves nothing

          It proves “nothing” to you because you didn’t read it.

          To suggest that the Okinawans eat a high carb diet all the while knowing they eat very little calories

          So you’re saying the amount of calories matters.

          of their carbs from vegetables and fruit

          You didn’t read the paper. The staple carbohydrate in the diet is the sweet potato, which is a starchy, but low glycemic, carbohydrate.

          And earlier you said…

          Chronically elevated insulin caused by excessive carbohydrate consumption – of any type of carbohydrate as all carbohydrates are ultimately converted to glucose

          Obviously you weren’t too worried about whether the carbs came from fruit or vegetables when you made that statement.

          And of the ten verified oldest people who ever lived, 4 were Americans and 3 were Japanese none from Okinawa

          It doesn’t matter who the oldest person is. What matters is the life expectancy of the average person. And the Okinawans are among the highest in the world, despite consuming a high carbohydrate diet.

          that a high carb diet can be healthful is slippery.

          It’s not slippery when it’s a documented fact that these people eat a high carbohydrate diet and have very low chronic disease rates.

      • The traditional Okinawan diet has a composition of 85% carbohydrate, 9% protein, and 6% fat  

        Similar papers have the Okinawan diets being assessed post WWII after their lifestyles were devastated. It seems reasonable to assume that using 1949 as a year to assess a typical Okinawan diet is a guess. We need to know what they ate before the war to more accurately judge their typical fare.

  • And for all of you who don’t know this, GCBC could easily have been 3 times as long or longer if Gary’s editor would have allowed it. And understand this – it is absolutely OK to purposefully omit data that appears to counter your argument or hypothesis if you deem and can support the fact that such data is misinterpreted, meaning worthless. Why take up the space?

    Just because James feels that some of the data left out of GCBC for reasons of publishing were valid and should have been included, doesn’t mean it should have been included. James isn’t even a scientist let alone a professional journalist. Not that he has to be mind you – but the fact is he’s not. I don’t have to be a cardiologist to criticize open heart surgical procedures, but I damn sure better be able to prove I know what I am talking about if I do. The bottom line is you can’t include every single paper and study possible. You are given an upper limit by the publisher. I omitted a research from my Slow Burn book that went against slow training because the research that indicated that slow training was inferior to faster rep tempos was worthless. I won’t go into why here. Email me for details.

    The basic idea is to propose an alternative hypothesis to the cause of obesity. James believes that there is no need to propose an alternative. However, good scientists always do whenever there is a solid basis for one. And the hypothesis that carbohydrates are the cause is plausible.

    Here’s how Richard Feynman the Nobel-prize winning physicist) put it in the early 1960s:

    “In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is — if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it. It is true that one has to check a little to make sure that it is wrong, because whoever did the experiment may have reported incorrectly, or there may have been some feature in the experiment that was not noticed, some dirt or something; or the man who computed the consequences, even though it may have been the one who made the guesses, could have made some mistake in the analysis. These are obvious remarks, so when I say if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong, I mean after the experiment has been checked, the calculations have been checked, and the thing has been rubbed back and forth a few times to make sure that the consequences are logical consequences from the guess, and that in fact it disagrees with a very carefully checked experiment.”

    There are numerous experiments that have yet to be done that need to be done before we can know for a fact how obesity occurs. We do not yet know the actual cause. Gary is proposing a plausible and testable alternative hypothesis. As Carl Sagan said: Science as a candle in the dark. You all who are reading this should be interested in knowing if in fact there is more light to be shed on the subject of obesity rather than satisfied that you know and have all the answers already.

    • James isn’t even a scientist let alone a professional journalist.

      What do you think is necessary to be considered a “scientist”?

      • Employed as one, usually if not always with a PhD in the sciences.

        • Where did you get that definition?

        • Employed as one, usually if not always with a PhD in the sciences

          I was employed as a scientist by my previous employer. I was also 2 years away from my PhD but decided not to further pursue it and got the second master’s instead. So apparently I’m not a “scientist” just because I didn’t finish another 2 years of school, despite the fact that I have more scientific publications than some PhD’s, and despite the fact that I’ve been a reviewer for journals, and despite the fact that I have the same amount of education and coursework that PhD’s have.

          Of course, using your definition of “scientist”, that would imply that Taubes also isn’t a scientist. And that would also mean you are as far from a scientist as one could get, so perhaps you or Taubes aren’t even qualified to be having these discussions.

          I guess that also means that George Bray is more qualified than you or Taubes to be discussing these issues as he’s a “scientist” by your definition, while Taubes and you are not.

          let alone a professional journalist

          And being a professional journalist matters just how, exactly, when it comes to the accuracy of his conclusions?

          Of course you forget that I’ve written over 250 articles myself in various lay publications, and am the editor for one of these publications. Hmmmm.

    • And understand this – it is absolutely OK to purposefully omit data that appears to counter your argument or hypothesis if you deem and can support the fact that such data is misinterpreted, meaning worthless. Why take up the space?

      Then perhaps you can explain why self-report of food intake was considered worthy of being included in the book, but data based on doubly-labeled water (which is much more reliable) wasn’t included. “Space” is not a logically defensible reason for this.

      Or perhaps you can explain why Taubes leaves out the proven phenomena of glyceroneogenesis when he talks about triglyceride metabolism, despite the fact that such information was available to him before he wrote the book. Glyceroneogenesis is an important part of triglyceride metabolism…it’s certainly not based on questionable or unreliable data. “Space” again is not logically defensible.

      Or perhaps you can explain why anecdotes, newspaper articles, quotations and opinions of scientists, and the like were considered worthy of taking up quite a bit of space in the book, but results from published, randomized, controlled trials of a much higher quality were left out.

      The basic idea is to propose an alternative hypothesis to the cause of obesity

      And the whole problem with that idea is the assumption that there’s a single cause.

      However, good scientists always do whenever there is a solid basis for one

      A hypothesis that is based off of highly selective quotation of poor quality literature is certainly not a solid basis for anything.

      We do not yet know the actual cause.

      No, we do know. You just like creating mysteries where none exist. Mysteries sell.

    • CarbSane
      9 years ago

      And understand this – it is absolutely OK to purposefully omit data that appears to counter your argument or hypothesis if you deem and can support the fact that such data is misinterpreted, meaning worthless.

      What if the data is in a study cited in the bibliography, yet three years post publication someone continues to ignore the information?

      Mister Taubes has never deemed, nor can he support the fact there’s a carb load of data out there that blows his G3P hypothesis out of the water. A “hypothesis” he presents as if it is fact, and his followers regurgitate dutifully.

  • After reading Taubes’s response to Bray’s critique of GCBC, it’s clear that Taubes was indeed familiar with the doubly-labeled water technique and consciously elected to ignore the plethora of research using this technique:

    “Much of Bray’s critique hinges on his assertion that I believe that obese
    individuals do not eat more than lean individuals. He quotes a line from
    GCBC, but by doing so out of context directs attention away from the
    critical observation that must be explained. ‘Even if it could be
    established’, I wrote and Bray quotes, ‘that all obese individuals eat more
    than do the lean – which they don’t – that only tells us that eating more is
    associated with being obese’.

    The keyword in the sentence, however, is ‘all’. It must be the case, as
    discussed in GCBC, that the obese tend to eat more than the lean,
    because they tend to expend more energy than the lean. This does not
    mean, however, that all lean individuals expend less energy than all obese
    individuals of comparable height, sex and bone structure. The
    distributions of calories consumed overlap, as do the distributions of
    calories expended. This is the observation that requires explanation. I do
    not mention doubly labelled [sic] water in this context, because the necessary
    observations were made with calorimeters nearly a century ago (3).”

    Oh, and the necessary observations that he references was written in 1915:

    3. Benedict FG, Emmes LE. A comparison of the basal metabolism of
    normal men and women. J Bio Chem 1915; 20: 253–262.

    This is a classic case of using outdated data when much more reliable studies and techniques are available. The doubly-labeled water technique was first applied to humans in 1982, so I’m sure that Taubes came across it in his extensive research on human metabolism since most nutritional scientists, like Greg Ellis, have said that this technique gave them the answer to the question of why obese folks report that they eat less, yet still gain or don’t lose weight.

    To think that he would simply ignore all the data surrounding this technique, makes one really question Taubes’s true motives.

    • As I mentioned before, there is still research that is needed to perform before we can say that we know the cause of why some people become obese and why others do not. To think we know the answer is unscientific.

      I encourage you all to try an experiment. Reduce your carb intake by 500 cals a day and replace with ~3 shot glasses of olive oil (meaning equal calories). Try this for three weeks. Report back here and let us know what happened.

      • As I mentioned before, there is still research that is needed to perform before we can say that we know the cause of why some people become obese and why others do not.

        There’s tons of data out there on this Fred…huge amounts of data on NEAT, energy expenditure, appetite regulation, hormones, psychological factors related to eating, portion sizes and how they relate to eating, social and economic influences, etc, etc, etc. But as long as you keep your focus narrowed to Taubes, Eades, and carbohydrate, yes, it will always be a mystery to you. It’s easy to create mystery when you leave information out.

    • Muata,

      I’m glad that you bring this up, because the Benedict paper doesn’t even support what Taubes is saying. Anyone who want to look at the Benedict paper can read it here. The Benedict paper looked at basal metabolic rate, which is not indicative of 24-hour energy expenditure, nor is it indicative of the number of calories someone is eating per day. Second, they looked at normal weight individuals, not obese people, so the paper is completely irrelevant to the topic of underreporting.

    • Gary Taubes cites a series of 50 to 150 year old publications because he is writing not only about the *science* of nutrition, but about the *history* of that science.

      It isn’t laziness that leads him to find a decisive paper that dates to 1915. Quite the opposite. He’s dug deep to show that crucial, well-confirmed facts had been established early in the game.

      To suggest that he’s trying to fool us by citing extraordinarily old, false (“outdated”) data — or that he himself has been fooled by it — would be absurd.

      • Gary Taubes cites a series of 50 to 150 year old publications because he is writing not only about the *science* of nutrition, but about the *history* of that science.

        But the reader is led to believe that those historical beliefs are the same beliefs held today, which is not true.

        He’s dug deep to show that crucial, well-confirmed facts had been established early in the game.

        But his well-confirmed “facts” are anything but facts.

        Let’s take his list of “facts” on page 394. 3 of those 4 facts are actually wrong, which CarbSanity addresses in this blog post. But this is what happens when you think old data represents “facts.”

        Even what we know about how insulin regulates blood sugar in humans has dramatically changed over the past decade based on metabolic tracer studies, which were not available in the 1950’s.

        In an interview with Taubes (I need to track down the link), Taubes stated how he doesn’t pay attention to modern research, because many “facts” were supposedly already established many years ago. This is quite surprising for a science writer to state this. I would think that a science writer would know that conclusions in science are often tentative. This is particularly true in the field of nutritional and physiological sciences; advances in measurement techniques have not only progressed our understanding of the human body, but have also overturned previous thinking.

        To suggest that he’s trying to fool us by citing extraordinarily old, false (“outdated”) data — or that he himself has been fooled by it — would be absurd.

        If you rely on outdated data, you get outdated conclusions.

  • There is little solid scientific evidence that a low carb approach is any better than moderate intakes regarding health.In fact, good health can occur across a broad spectrum of macronutrient intakes.  

    Low carbohydrate always do best than other diets. For a more “real world” evidence, please look at (probably you have seen it before): http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/297/9/969

    There are plenty of studies done that show the same results. And by the way, the benefficial effects are independent of weight loss.

    Fat overfeeding (without extra carbohydrate) causes insulin resistance. And in this study, carbohydrate overfeeding decreased insulin resistance!

    “Subjects were then studied after 5 days of high-carbohydrate (HC; 20% fat, 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein) and 5 days of high-fat (HF; 50% fat, 30% carbohydrate, 20% protein) overfeeding (40% caloric excess over a eucaloric diet) in a cross-over counter-balanced manner.”

    Here you have your answer. 30% carbohydrate isnt low carb. They are also eating 40% calories more than they need (including carbohydrates) and the trial period is 5 days. More over, you can find:

    “HF 2800 kCal diet contained 155.6 g fat, 210 g CHO and 140 g protein)”

    Do you think 210g of carbohydrates is low?

    Also, if you check the list of foods used (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2761378/bin/1743-7075-6-37-S1.DOC) you can find (in the HF group):

    – Plain Bagel
    – Doritos
    – Ritz Cracker
    – Bread Wheat Home Pride
    – Ice Cream Vanilla
    – Spaghetti COOKED
    – Pasta Sauce
    – Triscuits NABISCO
    – Honeydew
    – English Muffin
    – Saltine Cracker
    – Ham , smoked (water added, honey)
    – Yogurt Light Rasp Dannon
    – Bread Wheat Home Pride
    – Potato chip Lays
    – Chips Ahoy

    Does it looks like a common LC diet? The HF group wasnt low carb. Thats one of the reasons using percentages of calories can be tricky. Im not going to talk about the types of fat used, but you find things like “Margarine Canola Harvest”.

    Regarding glyceroneogenesis, its a NORMAL mechanism in adypocites by which the rate of lipolysis is controlled. Assuming that low insulin = increased glyceroneogenesis = fat gain is wrong. Kind of the misunderstanding of Acyl Stimulation Protein. If we wouldnt have a lipolysis inhibiting mechanism, we would die the first few days of starvation by ketoacidosis from uncontrolled rate of fatty acids and hepatic ketogenesis (like in T1DM patientes who lack insulin).

    • Here you have your answer. 30% carbohydrate isnt low carb.

      It doesn’t matter if it’s not “low-carb.” That’s not the point. It’s an overfeeding study to test the effect of fat overfeeding, while keeping carbohydrate at a baseline eucaloric level (i.e., no increase in carbohydrate intake beyond baseline). Fred Hahn claimed that carbohydrate, and nothing else, was the cause of insulin resistance. This study clearly showed that fat overfeeding, without additional carbohydrate over the baseline eucaloric level, will cause insulin resistance.

      Assuming that low insulin = increased glyceroneogenesis = fat gain is wrong.

      That’s a strawman. Of course the statement you just made is wrong, but that’s not the point. The point is that Taubes has often asserted that glucose is necessary for the production of glycerol-3-phosphate. The implication, of course, is that carbohydrate is needed for lipogenesis. The glyceroneogenesis pathway is an alternative pathway for the production of glycerol-3-phosphate and no carbohydrate is needed. Thus, fat overfeeding will cause fat gain just as much as carbohydrate overfeeding will, even in a low carbohydrate condition.

      The bottom line is that there are multiple pathways through which the body can synthesize fat tissue. The pathway through which it occurs will depend upon which macronutrient is being overfed. But overfeeding (i.e., positive energy balance) is the key factor here.

      • “Fred Hahn claimed that carbohydrate, and nothing else, was the cause of insulin resistance.”

        That is not what I said James. You’re not reading what I’m saying, your just reacting.

        I said that though there are other factors that can contribute to insulin resistance they will not result in insulin resistance if on a very low carbohydrate diet. Moreover, when on a low carbohydrate, real food diet, it is unlikely that you will not sleep well, or overeat calories since blood glucose will be normalized and your diet will be rich in nutrition.

        • That is not what I said James. You’re not reading what I’m saying, your just reacting.

          Your short-term memory is very poor, because these are your exact words….

          One might assume, if one was to think two dimensionally, that insulin resistance is caused by many factors. But it is not.

          Then you said….

          In fact, if one adopts and sticks to a very low carb diet, it is virtually impossible to become insulin resistant

          But that’s a separate statement from the first one and is unrelated to it. The first one is an incorrect statement, period. Perhaps you didn’t word what you were trying to say correctly.

          • Wrong. I never said what you said I said so deal with it.

            And I stand by my statement that it is virtually impossible for a healthy person to become insulin resistant if they are eating a VLCD. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

          • Wrong. I never said what you said I said so deal with it.

            One might assume, if one was to think two dimensionally, that insulin resistance is caused by many factors. But it is not. You made this statement in this comment. Everyone can go there to read this. Fred, either you didn’t bother reading what you wrote, or you are being intellectually dishonest (which wouldn’t surprise me then why you like Taubes so much, because he is obviously intellectually dishonest as well).

          • Wow, I can’t believe he’s denying that he wrote that. Amazing. Baffling.

          • If you can’t see the difference, fine.

            Have you read GCBC?

          • Have you read your post that you don’t seem to believe exists?

          • Let me try to explain this again.

            My point was that if you are eating a nutrient dense, real food, low carb diet, you won’t sleep poorly, be overly stressed out, over eat calories, etc.

            YES – other factors can cause IR however, these factors are found in the presence of a high carb diet.

            It’s like saying lung cancer is caused by many factors, some of which are buying cigarettes, lighting a lighter, tearing off a wrapper, etc. None of these are possible if you don’t smoke.

            If you are following a real food, low carb diet, you are going to sleep well, eat less calories, be less stressed out, etc.

            This was my point. Try and see more deeply into the issues discussed than just looking at things at face value.

          • Fred:
            “My point was that if you are eating a nutrient dense, real food, low carb diet, you won’t sleep poorly, be overly stressed out, over eat calories, etc. ”

            What if someone is eating a LC diet and still suffers from those maladies? Can they still develop IR? Or do you believe that the LC diet is a silver bullet, 100% effective in every case, and for a multitude of conditions?

            “YES – other factors can cause IR however, these factors are found in the presence of a high carb diet.

            “It’s like saying lung cancer is caused by many factors, some of which are buying cigarettes, lighting a lighter, tearing off a wrapper, etc. None of these are possible if you don’t smoke.”

            But those activities aren’t real factors WRT lung cancer. If someone bought a pack of cigarettes and immediately threw them away, he’s not going to get cancer. You know that.

            If you think that’s a good analogy, then you must consider the other “causes” of IR to be analogous to these other “causes” of lung cancer. Therefore, you must believe that they’re not real causes of IR. Or is it a poor analogy? It has to be one or the other.

            “If you are following a real food, low carb diet, you are going to sleep well, eat less calories, be less stressed out, etc.”

            I’m not eating a LC diet and I sleep well, eat less calories, and I’m not stressed out. So that must mean that I don’t need a LC diet. 🙂

      • No one overeats fat calories on a low carb diet. But this is quite common on a high carb diet. Again, you fail to look at the entire picture.

        And a high carb diet only “works” when eating a reduced calorie diet. By default this is a lower carb diet then what the subjects ate prior to the study. You keep evading this fact.

        • By default this is a lower carb diet then what the subjects ate prior to the study. You keep evading this fact.

          No, you keep evading this study I showed you back in this comment how subjects increased their carbohydrate intake (but decreased their calorie intake) and lost weight. So who is the one failing to look at the entire picture here? You keep focusing on one macronutrient, despite the fact there’s two others as well. That’s not looking at the big picture.

          • At a quick glance they went from 200 grams to 250 grams of carbs/d, increased their fiber by 5 grams but decreased energy intake by ~700kj/d and you use this as proof?

            And how did they assess macronutrient intake James? What have you in the past criticized as an inferior method for accurately determining true food intakes?

            You like to criticize studies that you don’t like but use others to support your position even though they are both fraught with similar problems.

          • “all other values were assessed by analyzing food records with NUTRITION DATA SYSTEM 93.”

          • Fred, read the paper.

            During the first 4 months, all the food was supplied to the subjects. The carbohydrate intake increased to 377 grams per day. So tell me, Fred, if weight loss is about decreasing carbohydrate intake, then that would also mean that weight gain is about increasing carbohydrate intake. So why did these individuals remain weight stable over the 4 months? You can’t use the inaccuracy of self report as an excuse because the food was provided to the subjects during those 4 months. And although the subjects were underreporting at study entry, they still increased their carbohydrate intake during the controlled euenergetic diet phase, because they were on a 15% fat, 68% carbohydrate diet during the 4-months that food was supplied to them, while being on a 50% carbohydrate diet upon study entry.

            Second, the researchers actually knew how much the subjects were underreporting. The energy intake required for weight maintenance was 2,068 calories per day. The subjects were eating roughly 50% carbohydrate at study entry, which is 258 grams of carbohydrate. This is pretty much identical to the self-reported carbohydrate intake during the ad libitum phase. There was slight underreporting during this phase (although not dramatic), indicating the subjects were consuming slightly more carbohydrate than this. So yes, Fred, the subjects did increase their carbohydrate intake, or at least were consuming the same amount of carbohydrate as they were upon study entry. Yet they lost weight.

            So, Fred, you need to explain two things. First, you need to explain why increasing carbohydrate intake did not lead to weight gain. You also need to explain how weight loss occurred despite the fact that carbohydrate intake either increased or remained the same.

      • “It doesn’t matter if it’s not “low-carb.” That’s not the point. It’s an overfeeding study to test the effect of fat overfeeding, while keeping carbohydrate at a baseline eucaloric level (i.e., no increase in carbohydrate intake beyond baseline).”

        It doesn’t matter? Of course it matters! As Dr. Feinman has said:

        “The deleterious effects of fat have only been measured in the
        presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence
        of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the
        presence of low carbohydrate.”

      • This study clearly showed that fat overfeeding, without additional carbohydrate over the baseline eucaloric level, will cause insulin resistance.

        Yes, but a good amount of carbohydrates and not the best food choices were present in the same group. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates and you will get competely different results. Fat overfeeding, in the ABSCENCE or limited amount of carbohydrates will not cause insulin resistance.

        The glyceroneogenesis pathway is an alternative pathway for the production of glycerol-3-phosphate and no carbohydrate is needed. Thus, fat overfeeding will cause fat gain just as much as carbohydrate overfeeding will, even in a low carbohydrate condition.

        You can see the importance of Pyruvate levels in the following paper (cited by an article linked in one of the comments: http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/reprint/16/13/1695.pdf). During feeding (that is, I assume, a “healthy high carb” diet), the pyruvate produced by glucose metabolism, as well as G3P are the main precursors for TG synthesis.

        During fasting (or a high fat diet), the first step involves GLUCONEOGENESIS, by which pyruvate is produced and subsequently converted to G3P.

        So the correct assertion is that you need pyruvate for G3P, not glucose per se. Pyruvate is the output of glycolisis. Increased glucose, increased glycolisis, increased pyruvate. You can also produce pyruvate by gluconeogenesis. So glyceroneogenesis and gluconeogenesis are related. Note that glycerol is also a precursor for gluconeogenesis.

        When you are “fat adapted” (dont like the term, though) several metabolic adaptations occur, so your glucose requirement are reduced, and your gluconeogenic rate also is reduced (your tissues are functioning with ketones or FFA).

        So, consider that for fat gain to occur during very low carb or low carb conditions you have to be almost in a vegetative state (no physical activity so all the FFA and glicerol released arent oxidized and get re-esterified), eat very large amounts of fat and protein (so you can produce G3P, and the increased protein can increase Gluconeogenesis), chose the wrong kind of fats (polyunsaturated oils come to mind) between others. It might happen (it happens) but its harder. Im not saying that you can eat 10,000 kcal of fat and protein and dont gain fat BTW.

        Considering the other choice, carbohydrate overfeeding, you have increased pyruvate (both by glycolisis and gluconeogenesis), increased insulin levels (so decreased HSL activity, lipogenesis enzymes and genes upregulated, among others), reduced adrenergic hormone levels (epinephrine, nor epinephrine), between others.

        So metabolically speaking, fat overfeeding (in the abscence of carbohydrate) wouldnt have the same impact as carbohydrate overfeeding.

        • So, consider that for fat gain to occur during very low carb or low carb conditions you have to be almost in a vegetative state (no physical activity so all the FFA and glicerol released arent oxidized and get re-esterified), eat very large amounts of fat and protein (so you can produce G3P, and the increased protein can increase Gluconeogenesis), chose the wrong kind of fats (polyunsaturated oils come to mind) between others. It might happen (it happens) but its harder. Im not saying that you can eat 10,000 kcal of fat and protein and dont gain fat BTW.

          So, what’s the level of calories over maintenance that a person on a low carb diet can eat before they start to gain fat? Reading most LC sites and blogs, there are many that say that “calories don’t count” cause it’s the carbs. So, going by this line of thinking, a person on a LC diet could conceivably eat 10K calories without gaining weight, no?

          • The “metabolic advantage” seems to be around 300kcal. But is highly individual. 10K calories is an exageration I used to make my point. Its highly unlikely that someone can eat that amount of calories only on fat and protein. But what usually happens is that people on LCKD spontaneously eat less calories. But with the same amount of calories, you see better results with a LCKD than on high carb diet.

          • But what usually happens is that people on LCKD spontaneously eat less calories. But with the same amount of calories, you see better results with a LCKD than on high carb diet.  

            “Some” people will spontaneously eat less; it’s highly individual like the “metabolic advantage” you mentioned.

            However, what do you mean by you “see better results”? Do folks on a LCKD lose “significantly” more weight/fat than folks following a high carb diet of equal calories? Are there studies showing this? I’m asking because the vast majority of studies I’ve read show that after water weight loss is accounted for, regardless of diet composition, folks will lose @ the same amount of weight.

            BTW, who even came up with the notion of a “metabolic advantage” with LC dieting? And where did the 300 kcal figure come from?

          • I dont have the studies at hand right now, but once I get back home I can send you some links. And by “better” results I mean better health effects. Weight loss, again, is just the tip of the iceberg. LCKD effects on lipids, atherosclerotic markers, glucose, insulin are independent of weight loss, contrary to low calorie-high carb diets.

          • The “metabolic advantage” seems to be around 300kcal.

            There is little evidence that the “metabolic advantage” is even close to this amount.

            Some studies have been unable to detect a metabolic advantage.

            Others have detected a 81 kcal/d advantage at best. And the problem with this one is that we don’t know if the advantage was due to the protein, the low carbohydrate, or both. Although this study suggests it’s maily due to the protein. And that’s probably why Johnston et al failed to detect differences, since the protein content was similar.

            The bottom line is that there is little evidence that a low carbohydrate intake, independent of the protein intake, will result in a metabolic advantage. The only other possibility is the loss of ketones in the breath/urine, but it is difficult to remain in ketosis for an extended period of time, and the loss of ketones is estimated to only be a very small contribution to calorie loss.

          • It seems you’ve stymied James Lucas. He is unable to respond to your previous post save to criticize the amount of extra caloires utilized via a MA.

          • Maybe because I hadn’t gotten around to responding yet?

          • “But what usually happens is that people on LCKD spontaneously eat less calories.”

            True Lucas. And this is because more fatty acids are available for energy on a VLCD. You put less food in your head, but you’re not “eating” less.

        • You seem to be saying that glyceroneogenesis will be minimal when one becomes “fat adapted” on a low carb diet because gluconeogensis will be reduced. I can see an argument along those lines being made for the liver since that organ is a site for both gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogensis. But adipose tissue is not a gluconeogenic tissue – it can not produce glucose because it lacks several of the terminal enzymes necessary for gluconeogenesis. Fat cells produce the enzyme PEPCK-C, originally identified as the key gluconeogenic enzyme in the liver, strictly to produce glycerol phosphate for triglyceride synthesis. In fat tissue, gluconeogenesis and glyceronogenesis are NOT related.

          • Fat cells produce the enzyme PEPCK-C, originally identified as the key gluconeogenic enzyme in the liver, strictly to produce glycerol phosphate for triglyceride synthesis. In fat tissue, gluconeogenesis and glyceronogenesis are NOT related.

            Piruvate (and other substrates) is not made in adipocytes and piruvate is a substrate for PEPCK-C. That there isnt gluconeogenesis in adipocytes doesnt means that gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogenesis arent related. This figure might help you:

            http://www.biochemsoctrans.org/bst/031/1125/bst0311125a01.gif

          • Oh my…

            Pyruvate *is* produced in adipocytes. Glycolysis occurs in fat cells and the end-product of glycolysis is pyruvate. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, fat cells do use glucose as a metabolic fuel even though they are filled with fat. Strange but true!

            The substrate for PEPCK-C is oxaloacetate, not pyruvate.

            Maybe I’m just not understanding your point, but if you are implying that glyceroneogenesis in adipocytes is somehow dependent upon gluconeogenesis (which does not and can not occur in fat cells), that is incorrect. The two processes have no direct effect on each other although they both are up-regulated during low insulin states.

            This article might help you: http://tinyurl.com/2f7yzan

          • And also…

            The figure that you posted (http://www.biochemsoctrans.org/bst/031/1125/bst0311125a01.gif) is just a schematic tool (which I’ve seen before btw). It’s not meant to stand alone; you actually have to read the paper it’s presented in. If you were relying just on that picture, I can see how you got so confused.

          • Im sorry I didnt make my point clear. I wasnt referring to gluconeogenesis in adypocites. What I meant was that hepatic gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogenesis are related to WAT glyceroneogenesis.

            Glyceroneogenesis is a necessary mechanism to control excessive lipolysis and ketoacidosis (so the rate of lipolysis and activity of PEPCK-C would be correlated). If glyceroneogenesis is one of the culprits of fat gain during VLCKD, you are assuming that upregulation of PEPCK-C during low carbohydrate feeding is what causes the fat gain. Following this assumption, you would expect the same during fasting. So accordingly, fasting would increase fat mass because of increased glyceroneogenesis. We know that doesnt happen.

            You have to consider also the regulation of PEPCK-C in different tissues (ie. glucocorticoids stimulate it in liver and kidney but repress it in WAT; and fasting increases glucocorticoid levels).

            Glyceroneogenesis is a relatevely new discovered pathway and many things have to be elucidated fist. For example, a study (although done in rats) found (from the discussion, http://www.jbc.org/content/283/41/27565.full.pdf+html):

            “As expected, PEPCK-C activity was higher in epididymal and mesenteric adipose depots from rats fasted for 48 h as compared with animals maintained on a high carbohydrate diet.

            However, the relative changes in the activity of PEPCK-C did not correlate with the measured rate of glyceroneogenesis. Glyceroneogenesis was highest in the adipose tissue of rats fed a sucrose supplemented diet, when PEPCK-C activity was at its lowest. Nevertheless, the PEPCK-C activity was always higher than the respective rate of glyceroneogenesis. High flux and low activity suggests that glyceroneogenic flux may be dependent on the provision of substrate (both pyruvate/lactate and fatty acids) or that PEPCK-C in adipose tissue is controlled by an allosteric regulator.

            (…)It is possible that PEPCK-C plays additional
            roles other than supporting glyceroneogenesis in the adipose tissue and other tissues in which this pathway is active. For example, deletion of the gene for PEPCK-C in the liver resulted in a marked reduction of citric acid cycle flux (47), presumably due to an altered rate of cataplerosis in the tissue. This area clearly needs further study”

            On the other hand, in your blog article you state:

            “Glyceroneogenesis occurs in the fat cells themselves – no liver required.”

            In fact, glyceroneogenesis takes place in several tissues.

            “Does this mean that reducing dietary protein is a good strategy for encouraging fat loss on a reduced carbohydrate diet? In my opinion, it could work, but should only be attempted if fat loss has stalled for an appreciable amount of time or if one is gaining body fat.”

            Youre assumption is based in the fact I mentioned above. On the contrary, when fat loss stalls for quite a time, the most effective way to get back your fat loss going is A. reduce the amount of dietary fat and reduce overall calories or B. reduce dietary fat and increase protein intake mantaining the same amount of calories. Once you get to your goal, return to the original proportion of fat:protein.

          • Well, I’m not sure I agree with you entirely but thanks for taking the time to explain your position better. I’ll just leave it at that. 🙂

          • CarbSane
            9 years ago

            LMD: “Glyceroneogenesis occurs in the fat cells themselves – no liver required.”

            Lucas: In fact, glyceroneogenesis takes place in several tissues.

            These are not contradictory statements. GLyNG can occur in several tissues, but it occurs in adipocytes. Therefore fat cells need not rely on GLyNG from external tissues to generate all the glycerol needed for esterification.

            Lucas: If glyceroneogenesis is one of the culprits of fat gain during VLCKD, you are assuming that upregulation of PEPCK-C during low carbohydrate feeding is what causes the fat gain. Following this assumption, you would expect the same during fasting. So accordingly, fasting would increase fat mass because of increased glyceroneogenesis. We know that doesnt happen.

            GlyNG is not responsible for fat gain any more than lipolysis is responsible for fat loss. Fat gain will occur when there is net esterification of triglycerides in fat cells vs. lipolysis. It matters not whether you have carbs with fat or not, chylomicrons (dietary fat) stimulate the rapid uptake and re-esterification by ASP. Your body will make what it needs to do this and if you lack pyruvate it will catabolize as neded to get it. Gluconeogenesis , glyceroneogenesis and indeed the continual cycling of fatty acids and triglycerides are all energy consuming processes. Absent caloric intake, that energy comes from fatty acids and fewer are re-esterified even as glyceroneogenesis as a source of G3P increases. Thus fasting = loss of fat mass and lean body mass. If you eat too much fat, even in the absence of carbs, it will accumulate not because you ate pyruvate (or precursors) but because the body is programmed to remove dietary fat from the blood stream relatively rapidly. Therefore it will get the G3P needed to do so by whatever means. In the end, it will accumulate if your energy needs are exceeded by intake.

          • If you eat too much fat, even in the absence of carbs, it will accumulate not because you ate pyruvate (or precursors) but because the body is programmed to remove dietary fat from the blood stream relatively rapidly. Therefore it will get the G3P needed to do so by whatever means. In the end, it will accumulate if your energy needs are exceeded by intake.

            That’s a great way to look at it: the body doesn’t want a high concentration of fatty acids in the circulation b/c it can have harmful effects (lipotoxicity) so the body has developed means for storing fat in fat cells under all dietary circumstances. And before someone suggests that the body will just “burn off” all excess free fatty acids, please consider this blog post that I wrote that suggests that there may be a very practical reason why this cannot take place: Weight Gain: Protection Against Hyperthyroidism?

          • These are not contradictory statements.GLyNG can occur in several tissues, but it occurs in adipocytes.Therefore fat cells need not rely on GLyNG from external tissues to generate all the glycerol needed for esterification.

            Yes, but that statement could lead to confusion.

            Absent caloric intake, that energy comes from fatty acids and fewer are re-esterified even as glyceroneogenesis as a source of G3P increases.Thus fasting = loss of fat mass and lean body mass.

            Im assuming that you are referring to prolongued fasting, not <24-48h fasting.

            If you eat too much fat, even in the absence of carbs, it will accumulate not because you ate pyruvate (or precursors) but because the body is programmed to remove dietary fat from the blood stream relatively rapidly.

            You are forgetting that adipose tissue is not the only tissue that takes up FFA. As the uptake of FFA in several tissues increases, lipolysis and beta-oxidation also increases. You are just looking at one side of the picture. That FFA uptake increases doesnt mean that it will automatically be stored and/or is only uptaken by adipocytes.

            You are also controlling the most lipogenic hormone: insulin.

          • CarbSane
            9 years ago

            Im assuming that you are referring to prolongued fasting, not <24-48h fasting.

            If you’re referring to short term “energy shortages” coming primarily from glycogen, OK, but our bodies are constantly turning over fats and constantly using fats for some part of our energy supply. Yes, carbs are the priority energy source so consuming them downregulates fat metabolism, but it never shuts it down completely.

            You are forgetting that adipose tissue is not the only tissue that takes up FFA. As the uptake of FFA in several tissues increases, lipolysis and beta-oxidation also increases.

            There’s no evidence that beta oxidation (the actual “BURNING” of fats) is upregulated by fat intake. Yes, a VLC’er will oxidize more fats, but that’s only b/c carbs are in less supply. But they’ll only oxidize the fats needed to meet energy needs. Overeat fat and it goes back into the fat tissue where it belongs for the most part. Otherwise you’re going to be talking lipotoxicity. I’ve blogged some on that topic (my blog. Interestingly enough, obese women and trained men have higher intramyocellular triglyceride content. Is that a good thing? Perhaps the trained men, but I’m thinking not so much the obese women.

            There’s a deceptive thing about low carb and fat burning. OF COURSE a person on a low carb diet burns more fat for energy than a person on a high carb diet. But that is of little importance. What is ultimately important is the NET amount of fat oxidized and that is dictated by the energy we expend, period. We really don’t want crazy lipolysis if we’re not oxidizing the fat!

          • Sorry, I meant:

            “Regarding IMT, you are right. But consider that obese women develop that situation by a high fat/high carb diet.”

          • If you’re referring to short term “energy shortages” coming primarily from glycogen, OK, but our bodies are constantly turning over fats and constantly using fats for some part of our energy supply.Yes, carbs are the priority energy source so consuming them downregulates fat metabolism, but it never shuts it down completely.

            I never said that fat metabolism was completely inhibited by high carbohydrate feeding. If this was the case, there wouldnt be fat loss in subjects consuming hypocaloric high carb diets.

            My comment regarding short term fasting was because of your assertion of “abscence of calories = loss of lean body mass”. It only applies to prolongued starvation. During fasting, the body shifts its main source of energy to FFA, and tries to maintain as much glucose as possible. That being said, the metabolic response to fasting is not by the abscence of calories per se, but the abscence of glucose. So you might expect a similar response to a high fat ketogenic diet (with the difference being in protein intake, and no muscle loss like in PROLONGUED fasting).

            There’s no evidence that beta oxidation (the actual “BURNING” of fats) is upregulated by fat intake.Yes, a VLC’er will oxidize more fats, but that’s only b/c carbs are in less supply.But they’ll only oxidize the fats needed to meet energy needs. Overeat fat and it goes back into the fat tissue where it belongs for the most part.Otherwise you’re going to be talking lipotoxicity.I’ve blogged some on that topic (my blog.Interestingly enough, obese women and trained men have higher intramyocellular triglyceride content.Is that a good thing?Perhaps the trained men, but I’m thinking not so much the obese women.There’s a deceptive thing about low carb and fat burning.OF COURSE a person on a low carb diet burns more fat for energy than a person on a high carb diet.But that is of little importance.What is ultimately important is the NET amount of fat oxidized and that is dictated by the energy we expend, period.We really don’t want crazy lipolysis if we’re not oxidizing the fat!  

            I repeat, im not saying that you can eat 10K calories and lose fat. The issue is that the hormonal environment during a high carbohydrate diet isnt optimal for endogenous fat lipolysis and subsequent beta oxidation to take place.

            You have to consider also the energy wasted (2nd law of thermodynamics) and the increased cost of the digestion of proteins. Finally, you have to consider ketogenesis and the physiological role of ketones. Insulin is just a part of the big picture.

            Regarding IMT, you are right. But consider that obese women develop that situation not by a high fat/high carb diet.

            If you have time, please look at the following study:
            http://ajpendo.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/262/5/E631

    • Low carbohydrate always do best than other diets. For a more “real world” evidence, please look at (probably you have seen it before): http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/297/9/969

      Lucas,

      There’s a problem with some of the ways that you are looking at it. Because a low-carb diet caused superior reductions in some (not all) biometrics in this paper, you are assuming that it is better for long-term health. You are assuming a direct linear relationship between biometrics and health; however, such relationships are rarely linear (which is why we have risk categories for various biometrics). Let’s take the blood pressure in the study you cited. The low carb group had the greatest decrease in blood pressure, but mean blood pressures were normal to begin with. Thus, one cannot argue that, because one diet caused a reduction of 7.6 points and another caused a reduction of 3.3 points, that one was superior for long-term health….particularly when we’re talking about health over 10, 20, or 30 years….not 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year. A 4 point mean difference, while being statistically significant, may not be biologically significant in terms of long-term health outcomes, particularly if the subjects had normal blood pressures to begin with. Really, it comes down to the whole “statistical versus biological significance” issue.

      If one is going to use short-term biometrics to argue for the health superiority of a diet, then you would also have to consider that high protein intakes increase IGF-1, and there are studies showing an association between IGF-1 and cancer risk. Note that I’m not saying that high protein diets will increase cancer risk; I’m just saying that such an argument could be made if we were to use your logic of short-term linear changes in biometrics as indicative of long-term health outcomes.

      Even Michael Eades illustrates in this blog post how simply looking at short-term biometrics may not be indicative of long-term health. He mentions how one group in this study experienced a decrease in LDL, yet an increase in arterial plaque.

      Despite the problems of observational data not being able to establish cause/effect, I feel that observational data is much better when looking at very long-term health outcomes of diet. When one looks at populations that show good health over the long-term, we find a variety of macronutrient distributions, such as moderate carbohydrate intakes of the traditional Mediterranean diet, or extremely high carbohydrate intakes of the Okinawan diet. What we do find in common among all these diets is a reliance on unprocessed, unrefined, whole foods.

      • Despite the problems of observational data not being able to establish cause/effect, I feel that observational data is much better when looking at very long-term health outcomes of diet.When one looks at populations that show good health over the long-term, we find a variety of macronutrient distributions, such as moderate carbohydrate intakes of the traditional Mediterranean diet, or extremely high carbohydrate intakes of the Okinawan diet.What we do find in common among all these diets is a reliance on unprocessed, unrefined, whole foods.  

        I agree with you in that short-term biomarkers can be tricky (some times the wrong biomarkers are seen or are misinterpreted). But doing observational studies on VLCKD for a long time is very difficult. Certainly, we can make assumptions based on molecular effects and biochemistry, and on case-control studies.

        I agree also with your statement of whole, unrefined foods. The problem with the latter is the lack of knowledge of preparation techniques that are necessary to assure a good use of them. Also, that is “unrefined or unprocessed” doesnt mean that is healthy for you.

  • Jean Paulo
    9 years ago

    How about fat overfeeding? We all know that a gram of fat yields 9 kcal/g while a gram of carbohydrate has only 4kcal/g. Itis a lot easier to consume massive amounts of energy dense food such as fat than of carbohydrates without mentioning the lag time of dietary fat before CCK kicks in telling the brain we’re full.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7598063

    • Yes, I have seen that study before. The problem is as Fred pointed out with a quote from R.Feinman:

      “The deleterious effects of fat have only been measured in the presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the presence of low carbohydrate.”

      In the study you mentioned, the excess fat intake was ON TOP of the carbohydrates being consumed. I dont know if I am not good looking at studies but they didnt mention the macro distribution or grams in both groups. Again, the study showed that excess fat intake on top of carbohydrate would yield more body fat gain. Take out or reduce the carbohydrates and the whole picture changes.

      Do the experiment yourself. On different ocassions:

      – Eat a large piece of fried steak, with butter and cheese until you are full.
      – Eat a large bowl of cereal or bread, with jelly and some fruit juice until you are full.

      Measure the amount of calories eaten in both meals and the whole macro and micro profiles. You will find out that you can eat more starchy/sugary foods than fatty foods. Also, the nutrient density is greater in fatty foods, both in macronutrients and in bioavailable micronutrients.

      • Jean Paulo
        9 years ago

        Exactly! That’s why I don’t buy Taubes’ assumption that carbohydrates alone makes people fat regardless of calorie balance thus if we look at the nutrient oxidation and storage, the oxidation of carbohydrates is almost equal to the intake, when people consume more fats, the oxidation does not increase therefore it’s much easier to get fat on a high fat diet but still what matters most is the total calorie intake.

        • Jean – It’s not a matter of “buying it.” It’s a matter of testing the hypothesis. Science keeps an open mind. Q: Did you read Good Calories Bad Calories? I have to say it doesn’t sound like it. Gary does not suggest that carbs alone make people fat. That is not what he is proposing.

          To quote Dr. Jeff Volek:

          “You are not what you eat. You are what your body does with what you eat.”

          I’ve read GCBC twice and into a 3rd reading in fact. There is a huge amount of information that requires a good deal of thought in order to see what Gary is proposing. He is not trying to pull a fast one on anyone as James suggests. That is ludicrous. I suggest reading the book.

          In fact, I put to you that ALL of the people commenting on this blog who whole heartedly agree with James have not read the book in its entirety and certainly could not discuss or even explain Gary’s arguments – right or wrong.

          • It’s a matter of testing the hypothesis

            I don’t think you understand what it means to test a hypothesis.

            Testing a hypothesis does not mean seeking out confirmatory information. It means seeking out conflicting information. It means that you try to falsify the hypothesis under rigorous, controlled conditions, not confirm it with half-ass anecdotes, quotations, newspaper articles, and old, poorly controlled research.

            Taubes fails miserably at hypothesis testing. His lack of inclusion of doubly labeled water studies is just one example. The statement, “those who are overweight eat fewer calories than those of normal weight” is a hypothesis. It’s a hypothesis that’s been tested and fails. Yet Gary had no problem including this in his book, despite the fact that the data shows it’s false.

            Did you read Good Calories Bad Calories?

            What do you think this whole blog series is about?

            There is a huge amount of information that requires a good deal of thought

            Again, what do you think this whole blog series is about? This one blog post is about ONE chapter and how Taubes distorts and misleads in this one chapter. And you haven’t refuted any of that; instead you made excuses for him about space. I will get to the other chapters in the future.

            I put to you that ALL of the people commenting on this blog who whole heartedly agree with James have not read the book in its entirety

            No, Fred, the problem is that you limit yourself to this book (obviously because you’re closing in on reading it 3 times), and never actually investigate further. You don’t read the studies he cites. You don’t bother to actually look up research on your own and read studies on your own. Yes, it’s no wonder you find him so convincing because you have little knowledge of the wealth of data that exists outside of your low-carb world.

          • “No, Fred, the problem is that you limit yourself to this book (obviously because you’re closing in on reading it 3 times), and never actually investigate further. You don’t read the studies he cites. You don’t bother to actually look up research on your own and read studies on your own. Yes, it’s no wonder you find him so convincing because you have little knowledge of the wealth of data that exists outside of your low-carb world.”

            You sound like you’re stomping your feet in frustration James.

            I do so read the research James, I do so! (There I’m stomping my feet). Not only do I read it, I have the luxury of asking a lot of really smart people like Gary, Mike Eades, Dr. Feinman, and a host of others to explain to me that which is over my head when reading such studies. So I have a very good understanding of many of the research papers included in his book.

            Question for you – you say that insulin resistance is a multivariate problem. Tell me, what advice would you give to a person diagnosed with insulin resistance? You only get one choice:

            Would it be:

            A. Go to bed earlier
            B. Meditate to reduce stress
            C. Go on a very low carb diet
            D. Eat less food
            E. Go to the doctor and get drugs for the condiiton

          • I do so read the research James, I do so! (There I’m stomping my feet).

            Really? Because it was extremely apparent over in this series of comments that you didn’t read this study.

            I have the luxury of asking a lot of really smart people like Gary, Mike Eades, Dr. Feinman, and a host of others to explain to me that which is over my head when reading such studies

            Thank you for proving what I’ve been saying all along. You limit yourself to the low carb world of research and researchers.

            And apparently even Gary doesn’t read the research he cites, such as shown in this comment, or how he makes an erroroneous statement about Jim Levine’s research in his book (which I will address in a future blog post).

          • “Thank you for proving what I’ve been saying all along. You limit yourself to the low carb world of research and researchers.”

            Hah. What a joke. These are scientists and physicians James. Not “the low carb world.” Give it a rest. A group you were invited to but refused to join.

            By the way, you should set up your blog to open links in a different window. It’s annoying to have to leave the site to check a link.

          • And are you going to answer the question I asked RE insulin resistance? A,B,C, D, or E?

          • Jean Paulo
            9 years ago

            I’d rather read Alan Aragon’s Girth control book 10 times or purchase any of Lyle McDonald’s books than read unscientific biases of an author who treats one single macronutrient such as carbohydrate like some sort of tool of the devil. It may be a good read for people who likes science fiction. As far as anecdotal experience is concerned, how come I can reach sub 10% body fat using a moderate carb based diet? I hate to use personal experiences as an example because it is bias and unscientific since it wasn’t conducted in a lab but I cannot really understand why Taubes and some people believe that VLCD is superior or the only way of acquiring low body fat or only way of reaching optimum health. What means of survival doesn’t mean what’s optimal. I am not against Low carb diet myself but I can’t stand the fact that too many people are being brainwashed that there is a specific diet that is superior to every diets as if it will work for everyone.

          • Good. Read that which confirms your bias. Enjoy.

          • Jean Paulo
            9 years ago

            What is bias about that? Alan’s book is well researched thus he never emphasized any superior diet over another. He only explained the physiology of macronutrients, how to setup personalized fat loss/ muscle gain diet and other good stuff from Girth control book. Oh, he even wrote the details on how to critically analyzed research and studies I highly recommend that you read his book. Lyle McDonald, being the author of ketogenic book (which is a low carbohydrate diet) and Rapid fat loss never said anything that low carb dieting is superior than moderate carb diet. It always depends on case to case basis.
            However, that’s outside the point. The point is, as long as there is a calorie deficit, regardless of the macronutrient ratio, there would be fat loss. People can eliminate all the carbohydrates, sugar, etc but without calorie deficit, no fat loss.

          • I’d like to also add Greg Ellis’s Ultimate Diet Secrets; the title does the book a great injustice because this guy is a nutritional scientist who is pretty buff for a man in his 60s! Also, and I know that most LC’ers hate him, but Anthony Colpo’s Fat Loss Bible provides a lot of studies that compares LC diets to other dietary approaches. Oh yeah, I read GCBC when the first week it came out cover to cover btw …

          • If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Ellis and Colpo, visit Mike Eades blog and read his critiques of both these books.

            I have both and have read both and like James has pointed out they are just books. Ellis makes several fundamental errors WRT the laws of thermodynamics and Colpo’s book is just all over the place. There are many parts of both that are pretty good however and seem to be saying what is so RE: muscle building and eating healthfully.

            Ellis is buff but that proves nothing. Not that he is but many men his age use GH. And there is nothing wrong with that mind you.

          • I agree with you Fred that folks should definitely read Eades’s critique of these guys and also the responses! Never just read one side of any debate; read both and decide for yourself … Good point about the GH too; I’m not sure if Ellis is or isn’t, but after reading his training book, I can see that he understands more than just the basic principles of resistance training. So, it’s not hard for me to believe that he doesn’t use anything. Also, considering that Steve Maxwell considers Ellis one of his mentors, has to carry a little weight, at least in the strength world.

          • I agree with you Fred that folks should definitely read Eades’s critique of these guys and also the responses!Never just read one side of any debate; read both and decide for yourself … Good point about the GH too; I’m not sure if Ellis is or isn’t, but after reading his training book, I can see that he understands more than just the basic principles of resistance training.So, it’s not hard for me to believe that he doesn’t use anything.Also, considering that Steve Maxwell considers Ellis one of his mentors, has to carry a little weight, at least in the strength world.  

            Yet there is a lot Ellis says that is not founded in science. I don’t consider Steve an expert in strength or muscle building. But in Jujitsu, yes. He’s an expert.

          • Yet there is a lot Ellis says that is not founded in science. I don’t consider Steve an expert in strength or muscle building. But in Jujitsu, yes. He’s an expert.  

            I know folks have accused him of using animal studies for some of his assertions, but not founded in science. Well, folks can google him, read his books, and decide for themselves.

            However, Steve Maxwell only BJJ? Fred, you’re joking right? He’s a strength and conditioning coach. Have you met Steve? Do you know his background in training professional athletes? Also, he wouldn’t refer to himself as an expert because, as he’s noted, there are none …

      • Eat a large piece of fried steak, with butter and cheese until you are full.
        – Eat a large bowl of cereal or bread, with jelly and some fruit juice until you are full.

        That’s not a valid comparison of overeating fat versus carbohydrate, because in your fat example, you’ve mixed in a lot of protein. So you will get superior satiation from the protein alone in the high fat example.

  • Fred – a few things.

    1. You outright lied about something you claimed not to have said, and it is there for all to see. At least have the decency to tell us it was an error on your part and clarify accordingly, rather than trying to deny you said it when the evidence is there for all to see.

    2. You are running in circles a bit. You claim that calories aren’t as important as carbs and yet when you are finally shown evidence of Okinawan eating patterns you hypothesize that it was because of their hypocaloric state. In the same breath you claim that hypocaloric diets are effective due to carb reduction – NOT calories.

    Please explain your position that we can all understand.

    • Yes you’re right I LIED. I cannot keep up with your bias. Believe what you will. Enjoy.

      • I’m actually interested in hearing what you have to say to his second point Fred …

        • I’m actually interested in hearing what you have to say to his second point Fred …  

          Referring to:

          “You claim that calories aren’t as important as carbs and yet when you are finally shown evidence of Okinawan eating patterns you hypothesize that it was because of their hypocaloric state. In the same breath you claim that hypocaloric diets are effective due to carb reduction – NOT calories.”

          They don’t eat a lot of carbs in total. I’ve already explained this. You are not going to become insulin resistant even if you eat 100% of your calories as carbs if you barely eat anything at all. If I eat 1000 calories a day and 70% are carbs I’m only eating 175 grams of carbs. If most of those carbs are fibrous, then its even less digestible carbs. This makes my diet low carb.

          I hope that’s clear.

          • They don’t eat a lot of carbs in total.

            Fred, this is exactly why you get accused of not reading.

            I already pointed out to you in this comment that the Okinawans consumed 379 grams of carbohydrate per day. That is not low…not even close. And the staple carbohydrate is the sweet potato, which is not mostly fiber. So you can’t even claim that most of the carbohydrate comes from indigestible sources.

          • ”They don’t eat a lot of carbs in total. I’ve already explained this. You are not going to become insulin resistant even if you eat 100% of your calories as carbs if you barely eat anything at all. If I eat 1000 calories a day and 70% are carbs I’m only eating 175 grams of carbs. If most of those carbs are fibrous, then its even less digestible carbs. This makes my diet low carb.
            I hope that’s clear.  

            So, let me understand this. If, I need to lose weight, and I consume less energy than my body needs, then it doesn’t matter where the calories come from?

            Also, using your example of 175 g of carbs a day is pretty high for a LC diet, no? I’m not aware of any LC author who would recommend this amount of carbs and call it LC. One thing for sure, it’s definitely no LCKD!

            Nevertheless, the Okinawans eating @1800 calories a day and 379 grams of carbs is far from a “starvation” diet or a LC diet. So, no Fred it’s not clear …

          • Muata – you are not at all reading what I am writing to you.

            First, you don’t necessarily want to lose weight – you want to lose fat. Big difference. EX: 5 years ago I weighed 165. I now weigh 175 and have the same level of body fat on me now than then.

            If you eat less calories than your body needs you will, nore than likely lose weight – for a while anyway. There are several factors that can happen when you deprive your body of significant energy. Your metabolism might slow, your physical activity might diminish, you might lose lean tissue, etc.

            Your goal is FAT loss and maintenance of lean tissue. Your goal is NOT NOT NOT weight loss.

            175 grams of carbs CAN be low depending upon what someone was eating before and the type of carbs as well as well as how active you are. It’s not just 175 period. Try to think more deeply on this than just knee-jerk responding to me to try and catch me in a mistake. It’s getting old.

            As for the Okinawans, I can’t seem to find that paper. I asked a couple of other people who can’t locate it either. I have to get it and read it before I comment further. I found a couple of papers that are similar and the data is from the 40’s and looks as if the way in which data was collected was pretty piss poor.

            Look, YES if all your carbs were broccoli, cauliflower, etc. and you ate 379 grams of it a day and were a field worker working for 12 hours a day along with your diet being low in fat (remember high carb high fat is different from high carb low fat of the same caloric amount) you are probably going to be ok. Still, you might be better off with less carbs and more fat.

          • If you eat less calories than your body needs you will, nore than likely lose weight – for a while anyway. There are several factors that can happen when you deprive your body of significant energy. Your metabolism might slow, your physical activity might diminish, you might lose lean tissue, etc.
            Your goal is FAT loss and maintenance of lean tissue. Your goal is NOT NOT NOT weight loss.

            So, do you believe in the energy balance equation Fred? Also, I’ve gone from 44% BF down to as low as 10%, so I understand the main goal of fat loss. You’re right, I should have said fat loss instead of weight …

            175 grams of carbs CAN be low depending upon what someone was eating before and the type of carbs as well as well as how active you are. It’s not just 175 period. Try to think more deeply on this than just knee-jerk responding to me to try and catch me in a mistake. It’s getting old.

            Fred, it’s not a knee jerk reaction. Actually, what’s funny is that even though you are contradicting yourself by saying that ingesting 175g of carbs can be a LC diet, which we both know that no LC author would back you on this, especially Eades, I agree that the all carbs are not created equally for all folks; for instance, grain-based carbs can be disastrous for “some” individuals like myself. However, that’s for me. Everyone else will have to decide for themselves because one size does not fit all…

            As for the Okinawans, I can’t seem to find that paper. I asked a couple of other people who can’t locate it either. I have to get it and read it before I comment further. I found a couple of papers that are similar and the data is from the 40′s and looks as if the way in which data was collected was pretty piss poor.

            No problem, just post a link when you find it. But, I think that one thing we don’t discuss enough about the Okinawans is their principle of “Hara Hachi Bu” or never eating until their full. If we had that built into our society, I really think there would be less obese although the dietary debates would continue …

            Look, YES if all your carbs were broccoli, cauliflower, etc. and you ate 379 grams of it a day and were a field worker working for 12 hours a day along with your diet being low in fat (remember high carb high fat is different from high carb low fat of the same caloric amount) you are probably going to be ok. Still, you might be better off with less carbs and more fat.  

            But, the 379g of carbs came from a starchy carb Fred and not green veggies.

          • “Fred, it’s not a knee jerk reaction. Actually, what’s funny is that even though you are contradicting yourself by saying that ingesting 175g of carbs can be a LC diet, ”

            That’s not what I said. I said if you are eating a 1000 calories diet and 175 grams are included and MOST of the carb grams are fibrous, this decreases the total digestible carbs dramatically to net a low carb diet.

            And I found two papers by the same author that indicate that the diets of the Okinawans were assesses in 1949 – AFTER WWII. The Okniwans would not be eating their typical fare at this point. We need to know what they were eating before the war to have a more accurate assessment.

            So we don’t really know if the 379 grams was typical. It might not have been.

          • If I eat 1000 calories a day and 70% are carbs I’m only eating 175 grams of carbs. If most of those carbs are fibrous, then its even less digestible carbs. This makes my diet low carb.

            So are you saying Michael Eades was wrong when he made this statement:

            Now, as those of us who have ever followed a low-carb diet know, 175 gram of carbohydrate does not a low-carb diet make

          • No I agree with Mike. It is not low carb. It is neither high carb. And as I said, if a large portion of the 175 grams is very fibrous, then you are eating a lot less than 175. I said:

            “If most of those carbs are fibrous, then its even less digestible carbs. This makes my diet low carb.”

            Did you miss that I said this or did you create a strawman argument on purpose?

  • And I have to give a +3 on the comments regarding Taubes leaving things out due to space constraints. There is a glaring difference between leaving out irrelevant or superfluous citations and leaving out well designed studies that don’t jibe with your conclusions.

    I don’t see how anybody can see GCBC as an “objective” manuscript. Like James said, perhaps your education would be best served by reading other books/research rather than a 3rd run at GCBC – unless of course your 3rd run involves an objective look at his research.

    • Mike please – I’ve read many other books on the subject pro and con. I’ve even written two. Do yourself a favor and don’t act like James accusing me of not reading. It’s just plain weird to accuse others of things that you have no knowledge of. Really weird. Do you really think that the only book I have read on the subject is GCBC? So why say something like that?

      And do you truly believe that Gary wrote the book to hood-wink the entire scientific community and the population at large? That is so utterly ridiculous it’s laughable. I HOPE you don’t believe this. Do you think Gary thought he’d be able to scoot GCBC past all of the nutritional scientists of the world? Have you stopped to wonder why Gary gets asked to lecture on GCBC all over the country by top universities? Do you think if GCBC was so obviously flawed and biased he’d be in such demand? Has any of this crossed your mind?

      Why don’t you or James attend on of his lectures and stand up and question him? I don’t think you or James would have the guts to confront him man to man in front of other people. I can tell you this – you’d lose your arguments.

      • Mike please – I’ve read many other books on the subject pro and con.

        But books aren’t original scientific studies. They are someone else’s interpretation of studies. So by limiting yourself to books, you are limiting yourself to someone else’s interpretation rather than your own.

        And do you truly believe that Gary wrote the book to hood-wink the entire scientific community and the population at large?

        No, he obviously wrote the book because he had a pet hypothesis that he wanted to push forth, regardless of whether it was actually true. He may seriously believe it’s true, but people often believe things in spite of the evidence, particularly when it comes to ego and money. That’s not to mention a 6-figure advance to write the book. That type of money can certainly help destroy any sense of objectivity.

        Do you think Gary thought he’d be able to scoot GCBC past all of the nutritional scientists of the world?

        GCBC was not subject to scientific peer review before publication, no more than the Cat in the Hat was.

        Have you stopped to wonder why Gary gets asked to lecture on GCBC all over the country by top universities?

        So is George Bray, who is diametrically opposed to Gary. The number of lectures you get invited to do has no relevance to whether what you claim is correct.

        Do you think if GCBC was so obviously flawed and biased he’d be in such demand?

        Fred, have you ever heard of the appeal to popularity fallacy? Because that’s what you’re doing right here with that comment.

        Why don’t you or James attend on of his lectures and stand up and question him?

        Why would I want to pay to see one of his lectures, just to question him?

        I don’t think you or James would have the guts to confront him man to man in front of other people.

        Oh, I would be extremely happy to. In fact, I would have a one-on-one debate with him in front of an audience. I would have absolutely no problem with doing that.

        • “But books aren’t original scientific studies. They are someone else’s interpretation of studies. So by limiting yourself to books, you are limiting yourself to someone else’s interpretation rather than your own.”

          James stop. My god. You’re making a fool of yourself saying stuff like this. Think before you speak. Your instant nay-saying of everything I say no matter what it may be just to nay say is becoming ridiculously transparent. Stop already. If you came to my office you’d see a pile of research papers on my second desk that I have read and read on a continual basis. And as I mentioned, when these are over my head, as they often are, I have quite a few experts via the NMS that help me. So please, do yourself a favor and drop the “Fred doesn’t read…” crap.

          “No, he obviously wrote the book because he had a pet hypothesis that he wanted to push forth, regardless of whether it was actually true. He may seriously believe it’s true, but people often believe things in spite of the evidence, particularly when it comes to ego and money. That’s not to mention a 6-figure advance to write the book. That type of money can certainly help destroy any sense of objectivity.”

          Or not. Your assessment of the book and Gary’s character is just that – your subjective assessment and nothing more. Given the fact that you are on a crusade to debunk, your bias screams out loud and clear.

          As for the appeal to popularity fallacy, the fact is that there are many authorities in the field who agree with Gary. That means that there is something to what he is saying. It doesn’t make his hypothesis right – even Gary will tell you as I have repeatedly that there is research that has NOT been done that NEEDS to be done to test the hypothesis. Do you not agree?

          “Why would I want to pay to see one of his lectures, just to question him?”

          James, you attend a lecture to learn something – even from people who you disagree with. We can all learn from anyone. And questioning your own thoughts on a subject is the mark of a good scientist. You think you know. And the fact is we don’t know the actual cause of obesity. No one has nailed it down.

          “Oh, I would be extremely happy to. In fact, I would have a one-on-one debate with him in front of an audience. I would have absolutely no problem with doing that.”

          Great. We are in fact arranging a round table discussion on the very subject via the NMS. We are trying to do this and get media coverage. In fact, I have suggested your name as one of the experts but the one criticism of you has been your attitude. You’ll have to promise to drop the ad hominem attacks and hostile tone. This will be a group of serious scientists and serious scientists don’t talk to each other as you often talk to me and others on your blog and via email.

          Think you can do that?

          • Fred:
            “And the fact is we don’t know the actual cause of obesity. No one has nailed it down.”

            Then why are you so certain that it’s all about insulin and carbs?

          • Oy vey. I am certain that it is a plausible hypothesis which seems to be a better explanation than just too many calories.

            From GCBC:

            ‘Even if it could be established that all obese individuals eat more than do the lean – which they don’t – that only tells us that eating more is associated with being obese’.

            Let that sink in. Let it ruminate in your mind along with the idea that obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation.

            Watch this video. It is essentially correct.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNYlIcXynwE

          • Fred:
            “From GCBC:
            ‘Even if it could be established that all obese individuals eat more than do the lean – which they don’t – that only tells us that eating more is associated with being obese’.”

            Obese individuals don’t eat more than the lean? LOL! You’re kidding, right? Please tell me you’re joking. That’s so laughable. Talk about intellectually childish. Sorry, it’s just so hard to fathom that there are actually people out there who believe in an idea that is so incredibly stupid. It’s like someone who believes that the earth is only 6000 years old. It amazes and baffles me every time I hear it.

            It really goes to show the power of ideology. People wrap themselves up in these crazy notions, and get so emotionally invested in them that they just can’t see past them to the obvious reality staring them in the face. It’s stunning. Just stunning.

          • Oneoff
            9 years ago

            I’ll say it: (some) obese individuals don’t eat more than the lean.

            Note that many obese individuals are not actively gaining weight. Why would you expect them (all) to be eating a lot more than a lean person, if their weights are stable? Fat is metabolically low-maintenance.

            Your reaction isn’t uncommon, however. It illustrates a harsh, reflexive rejection of a slightly counter-intuitive reality — of what, on reflection, is quite reasonable — that has been part of the problem.

          • I’ll say it: (some) obese individuals don’t eat more than the lean.

            But that was never the point of Taubes’s original statement. In his original statement, he referenced a 1980 paper where overweight people ate fewer calories, on average, than normal weight. This 1980 paper has been since shown to be wrong.

            Do some obese individuals not eat more than lean? Of course. A very active lean, weight stable person might expend 4000 calories per day and eat 4000 calories per day. Likewise, a less active obese person might expend 4000 calories and eat 4000 calories per day. But that’s not the point. The point is that reports of low calorie intakes among obese people who are not losing weight are simply due to underreporting and not due to some mysterious metabolic defect.

            . Why would you expect them (all) to be eating a lot more than a lean person, if their weights are stable?

            This is a strawman. Note that I never said all. I’m talking about what happens on average, and I’m also talking about what is happening in regards to the reports of low calorie intakes.

          • I interpreted the quote from GCBC as meaning that overweight people didn’t eat more in order to become overweight, which I think is ridiculous. That’s what I meant.

            I didn’t say that they eat “a lot more” all of the time, and even if they’re not “actively gaining weight,” they’re still maintaining a higher body weight. Of course, James is right that an active lean person can burn as many or more calories than a sedentary overweight person. But all else being equal, a person at a higher body weight is going to burn more calories than a person at a lower body weight.

            When I was 255 pounds, and sedentary, I ate a lot of calories to maintain that weight. When I ate less, guess what, I lost weight! But I had to go pretty low, lower than I thought I would have to. That’s what scares/ angers people. Weight loss requires real sacrifice, effort, and discipline, and not everybody is willing to pay the price. They’re not willing to do whatever it takes. I should know, I refused to do it for a number of years, as well. Then I woke up and got serious.

            Overweight people ate enough to gain the weight, they currently eat enough to maintain that higher body weight, and they need to create a deficit to lose the excess weight. Surplus, maintenance, deficit. Is this not understood? Is this controversial? I hope not! That’s scary!

          • I interpreted the quote from GCBC as meaning that overweight people didn’t eat more in order to become overweight, which I think is ridiculous.

            Amen! I know full well that I ate too darned much to get as fat as I did. There’s no other way folks!

            When I was 255 pounds, and sedentary, I ate a lot of calories to maintain that weight.When I ate less, guess what, I lost weight! But I had to go pretty low, lower than I thought I would have to. That’s what scares/ angers people. Weight loss requires real sacrifice, effort, and discipline, and not everybody is willing to pay the price.They’re not willing to do whatever it takes.I should know, I refused to do it for a number of years, as well.Then I woke up and got serious.

            This says it all Jordan! After getting truly obese following my first try at low carbing (200 to 160 to 265+) then almost getting thin on my second try only to balloon back up to ??? (I think high 280’s hubby says he thinks over 300 — very large is all that matters!) I spent a year or more in debate with myself over whether to try again.

            I mean I literally debated in my head whether it was worth it to try one more time or just get used to being fat. You are SO right. It takes one of those “moments of truth” and a FIRM commitment to do it. It is natural to be hungry from time to time when you are in caloric deficit (even on low carb). There will be times you feel deprived folks, although on some plans more than others. In an ideal world we could all check into some version of TBL’s Ranch until all the weight is gone and not have to deal with anything else. But this is the real world with all its stressors and responsibilities.

            Too many people are looking for that magic bullet and there is none. It’s going to take “work” and that dreaded word in the low carb community: willpower!!

            The reason I believe GCBC remains so popular in some circles, and why some are so adamant in their defense of unsustainable or flat out debunked claims in that book, is that too many are still looking for an excuse for getting obese. Sorry, but what is “contentious” or “controversial” about your comment (and mine here) is that we don’t see the obese as victims or addicts or whatever characterization absolves them (including the former us!) of responsibility for their obesity.

          • Well said, CarbSane! 🙂

            I must confess, I lost a lot of weight on low carb years ago, and then gained most of it back. I think the problem was twofold: one, I didn’t fully internalize the necessity of a calorie deficit. Two, I created temptations that I couldn’t resist in the long run. (I cheated a lot on my low carb diet, until I eventually scrapped the whole thing completely and went back to my “eat a lot of everything” diet. lol.)

            Now that I’ve understood and *accepted* the reality of a calorie deficit, and now that I have no irresistible temptations to contend with, hopefully that won’t happen this time around. I’m feeling good about that prospect. 🙂

          • I must confess, I lost a lot of weight on low carb years ago, and then gained most of it back.I think the problem was twofold: one, I didn’t fully internalize the necessity of a calorie deficit.Two, I created temptations that I couldn’t resist in the long run.(I cheated a lot on my low carb diet, until I eventually scrapped the whole thing completely and went back to my “eat a lot of everything” diet.lol.)

            No need for “confessions”!! 🙂 For me to lose a lot of weight LC was the only way to go. I’m honest enough with myself to realize I didn’t have it in me to be as disciplined as a CRD would require. In fact, I still weigh more than I would like, but I’m not b*tchin’ because I know it is all on me to put my nose to the grindstone to lose the rest, or whether this is a happy medium. Right now it’s a happy, non-stressful easy maintenance medium :D.

            My problem with LC the first two times was that I believed the ketosis thing and once one ate an extra 10g carbs, why bother avoiding carbs right? Nowadays I’ve eased my restrictions, but even have a hard time eating 120g on a plan I tried with that level.

            My point and I think yours is that we really need to own our weight — then it is a matter of what we’re willing to do to keep it at a healthy one.

          • Oy vey. I am certain that it is a plausible hypothesis which seems to be a better explanation than just too many calories.

            From GCBC:
            ‘Even if it could be established that all obese individuals eat more than do the lean – which they don’t – that only tells us that eating more is associated with being obese’.

            Let that sink in. Let it ruminate in your mind along with the idea that obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation.

            OK, going by GT’s quote, if eating more is associated with being obese, is eating less associated with not being obese?

            Also, if obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, and eating more is associated with being obese, why wouldn’t eating less “reverse” this hypothesized “disorder”.

          • Hector
            9 years ago

            “James stop. My god. You’re making a fool of yourself saying stuff like this. Think before you speak.”

            With the way you have responded, disregarded your own comments, and contradicting yourself, it seems like you are the one who is making a fool of yourself.

            “Your assessment of the book and Gary’s character is just that – your subjective assessment and nothing more. Given the fact that you are on a crusade to debunk, your bias screams out loud and clear.”

            What is the point of James’ website again? If you didn’t read it, then I’ll reiterate it for you: “Weightology is dedicated to providing you honest, accurate information regarding weight management. Whether through the weekly newsletter, the blog, or personal consultation, you will be empowered with knowledge based on evidence and facts, rather than hearsay and hype.” So he read Taubes’ book and brought to light what he felt like was misinformation or blatant exclusion of the facts on the studies that were cited on the part of Taubes. I haven’t read yet where James has said that low carb diets are bad or that those are not the diets people should do. Instead, he seems to be of the opinion that when it comes down to it, the success of the diets come down to calorie intake and not just the exclusion of one macronutrient. Please correct me if I’m wrong on this assumption James. You also seem to be showing your bias in your replies to James and to others on this blog.

            “Great. We are in fact arranging a round table discussion on the very subject via the NMS. We are trying to do this and get media coverage. In fact, I have suggested your name as one of the experts but the one criticism of you has been your attitude. You’ll have to promise to drop the ad hominem attacks and hostile tone. This will be a group of serious scientists and serious scientists don’t talk to each other as you often talk to me and others on your blog and via email.”

            I would be interested in reading about this round table between the different experts on the subject if it ever happens.

          • “With the way you have responded, disregarded your own comments, and contradicting yourself, it seems like you are the one who is making a fool of yourself.”

            Please. I have done none of these things. Give me specific examples.

            “I would be interested in reading about this round table between the different experts on the subject if it ever happens.”

            If and when we can arrange it (the lipophobes are usually reluctant to engage in “battle”) I’ll let you all know. It will be made public on the Nutrition and Metabolism website http://www.nmsociety.org

          • “With the way you have responded, disregarded your own comments, and contradicting yourself, it seems like you are the one who is making a fool of yourself.”Please. I have done none of these things. Give me specific examples.“I would be interested in reading about this round table between the different experts on the subject if it ever happens.”If and when we can arrange it (the lipophobes are usually reluctant to engage in “battle”) I’ll let you all know. It will be made public on the Nutrition and Metabolism website http://www.nmsociety.org  

            When you say “lipophobes” to whom are you referring?

  • One last thing, Fred.

    It’s curious that your criteria for a “scientist” is either;

    a) “Employed as one, usually if not always with a PhD in the sciences”
    or
    b) A professional journalist. (We’re left to assume that academic background doesn’t matter).

    Do explain why you think GT is more of a scientific authority than James.

    • Mike – Did you read GCBC?

      • Yes. Just once though.

        • You did read it? OK – tell us what Gary’s premise is?

          • Premise? There were quite a few… allow me to give you a very breif review of what I thought.

            It is quite possibly the most thorough dismemberments of the lipid hypothesis I’ve seen.

            I really thought GT did a great deal of historical research and I found the chapters on how our current dietary guidlelines came to be very enlightening and well presented.

            Insofar as the carbohydrate hypothesis, more and more I’m seeing just how he has used selective citation to align with his biases.

          • LynMarie Daye
            9 years ago

            That about sums it up for me too, Mike.

  • Fred:
    “Pizza? Give me a break. That’s shit food chock full of antinutrients.”

    Antinutrients! lol. You’re a scaremonger extraordinaire!

    “And how do you know if he is healthy James? DO you know this guy personally? His entire story could be BS. That ever occur to you?”

    No, I assure you it’s not BS. God, that would be so pathetic, to lie about losing weight on the Internet to try to impress somebody or win an argument. That would be so sad! I would never do that. I really have lost 55 pounds- actually about 57 pounds now. I’ve been tracking my weight loss on Twitter since December 30, you can check it out if you want. (You’ll have to skip through a lot of retweets though, lol.) While that’s not “proof” that I’ve really lost the weight, it does go to show that I spent six months tracking my weight loss before entering this debate with you. I can’t predict the future, so clearly it couldn’t have been some overly elaborate scheme to lie to you, Fred!

    As for health, I haven’t gone to the doctor and taken any tests. All I know is that I feel great. And that’s all you know, too.

    “Not only this, clients who go the low calorie route almost always lose strength or we have difficulty getting them much stronger.”

    I’ve gotten stronger.

    “I am suggesting that simply eating less food will-nilly, eating whatever you like like pizza and pie and just eating less in total is NOT a healthy way to lose.”

    Pizza and pie *and* fruits, veggies, poultry, fish, some red meat, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc. A variety of foods that I enjoy. It’s a very sustainable and pleasurable way to create a calorie deficit. If you think I’m unhealthy, I’ll say it again, it’ll be fun proving you wrong.

    • “Antinutrients! lol. You’re a scaremonger extraordinaire!”

      Really? Take a look-see http://thepaleodiet.com/articles/Cereal%20article.pdf

      “As for health, I haven’t gone to the doctor and taken any tests. All I know is that I feel great. And that’s all you know, too.”

      How old are you? There are lots of people who “feel great” and are not in good health. I am not saying this is you. But the way you are eating is not the most healthful way to eat. But if yo’re young, you can get away with a lot.

      “I’ve gotten stronger.”

      So you are strength training and recording your progress? Excellent! Very important. Give us some examples of your strength gains over the past few months of 57 pounds of fat loss.

      “Pizza and pie *and* fruits, veggies, poultry, fish, some red meat, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc. A variety of foods that I enjoy. It’s a very sustainable and pleasurable way to create a calorie deficit. If you think I’m unhealthy, I’ll say it again, it’ll be fun proving you wrong.”

      Thanks for the specifics. Sounds like a fairly low carb diet to me. Have you added the total carb grams from what you were eating before and now?

      • Jean Paulo
        9 years ago

        Anything is healthier than a typical westernized diet. Oh by the way, have you ever read Mark’s daily apple’s blog about importance of refeeds? He’s a paleo guy by the way:

        http://www.marksdailyapple.com/carb-refeeding-and-weight-loss/

        People keep on looking at the data that carbohydrates being not essential in human survival. The means of survival isn’t always what’s optimal. What about the people who engage on moderate to high amounts of streinous physical activities everyday? Let’s take strength training for example, sure the body is capable of deriving fuel from fatty acids through gluconeogenesis but the conversion of fatty acids to readily usable energy to sustain high intensity exercises such as sprints and weight training aren’t fast enough as much as glucose form carbohydrates can do.

        • “People keep on looking at the data that carbohydrates being not essential in human survival. The means of survival isn’t always what’s optimal.”

          This is directly from the DRI:

          “The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed. However, the amount of dietary carbohydrate that provides for optimal health in humans is unknown. There are traditional populations that ingested a high fat, high protein diet containing only a minimal amount of carbohydrate for extended periods of time (Masai), and in some cases for a lifetime after infancy (Alaska and Greenland Natives, Inuits, and Pampas indigenous people) (Du Bois, 1928; Heinbecker, 1928). There was no apparent effect on health or longevity.”

          Here’s the link:

          http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=275

          “What about the people who engage on moderate to high amounts of streinous physical activities everyday? Let’s take strength training for example, sure the body is capable of deriving fuel from fatty acids through gluconeogenesis but the conversion of fatty acids to readily usable energy to sustain high intensity exercises such as sprints and weight training aren’t fast enough as much as glucose form carbohydrates can do.”

          Gluconeogenesis is the conversion of protein to glucose. The body actually prefers to use fatty acids as a primary fuel source. But you must allow this process to take place. That is why athletes suffer when switching from high carb to low carb unless they stay the course long enough to allow for the adaption. I am as strong as I have ever been at 49 and I eat scant carbs. It takes time to adapt if you have relied on carbs for fuel for the vast majority of your athletic career.

          Loren Cordain discusses the issues of low carb and endurance athletics and feels the endurance athlete needs more carbs in order to do what they do. This makes a bit of sense as most endurance athletes are very lean and have little available fat to use for fuel.

          Still, because Cordain is a low fat proponent, I think he is not thinking clearly on the issue. Just feed the athlete a lot more fat instead. This is how the dogs that do the Iditarod are fed.

          • Jean Paulo
            9 years ago

            Yes because a requirement for a nutrient to be essential is our body being unable to manufacture on it’s own. But in my understanding of physiology, our body can manufacture glucose from pyruvate, lactate etc during the absence of carbohydrates. Since our body’s preferred fuel source is glucose(which can be derived easily and faster from carbohydrates than conversion of protein and fats into energy), during the absence of carbs, gluconeogenesis will take place that’s why endurance athletes, physique athletes who reduces their carb intake to maximal level increases their protein intake to support further gluconeogenesis.

            When you feed people more fat, what is more fat by the way? During the absence of carbs, doesn’t it make sense to raise protein instead of dietary fats since fats has very little thing to do with energy? Don’t you think, endurance athletes eat more carbs simply because carbs are readily available fuel to maximize their performance? Thus without mentioning the protein sparing effect of carbs that fats cannot do. If we look at the oxidation rate of the 4 macros including alchohol, if someone eat more carbs, the oxidation is relatively equal to intake, when someone eat more fats, it does not increase the oxidation rate thus the storage efficiency of fats is like 90-95% therefore it is so much easier to store fats than of carbs, The only reason why excessive carbohydrate intake is blamed for fat storage is because of it’s fat sparing effect. Eat more carbs, burn more carbs, you burn less fat. That’s why in evolutionary terms, it makes abosolute sense for a person who eat more carbs while decreasing their fats intake to prevent massive amount of fat storage.

          • Jean Paulo
            9 years ago

            On my personal experience, I have nothing against low carb diets, I once tried Targeted ketogenic diet as well but my performance during my strength training during those times suffered. I can’t sustain my workout intensity, strength gains has stalled. So much with the anecdotes, besides fructose can refill hepatic glycogen stores which is the critical signal to the brain to prevent catabolism. I’ve never seen studies that cite fats being anabollic

          • On my personal experience, I have nothing against low carb diets, I once tried Targeted ketogenic diet as well but my performance during my strength training during those times suffered. I can’t sustain my workout intensity, strength gains has stalled. So much with the anecdotes, besides fructose can refill hepatic glycogen stores which is the critical signal to the brain to prevent catabolism. I’ve never seen studies that cite fats being anabollic  

            I didn’t say fats were anabolic. Insulin is anabolic and can be raised after a workout by eating protein alone. You don’t need the carbs. Read Dr. Jeff Volek’s book The TNT diet. Jeff is a serious scientist and does some very good work in the field.

            Your strength might have suffered short term, sure. That’s why I said in an earlier post that you need to give it time.

          • I can’t follow your logic Jean – I’m sorry. Your not explaining the science right. Maybe it’s a language issue?

          • Jean Paulo
            9 years ago

            Energy balance is the science I follow

      • Fred:
        “How old are you? There are lots of people who “feel great” and are not in good health. I am not saying this is you. But the way you are eating is not the most healthful way to eat. But if yo’re young, you can get away with a lot.”

        I’m 29. As Jean alluded to, anything is better than the way I was eating before! I was a pig. Some people actually believe that overweight people eat the same amount or less than people of normal weight. Not me! I ate more, a lot more.

        I’m sure my joints will appreciate not having to carry around all of that excess weight. My knees were already starting to get a little sore. Not lately though. 🙂

        Fred, you also have to keep in mind that weight loss is temporary, it’s not a permanent state. I only have 20-25 pounds to lose, it’s not going to take much longer. And then I’ll go to maintenance. It’s not like I’m going to be on a low-cal diet forever. So even if there are issues with eating very low-cal on a permanent basis, that is emphatically *not* what I’m doing. So what’s with all the scaremongering?

        “So you are strength training and recording your progress? Excellent! Very important. Give us some examples of your strength gains over the past few months of 57 pounds of fat loss.”

        I’ve made progress on all of the exercises that I’ve been performing: rows, chest press, lunges, push ups, body rows, one-leg hip bridges, a plank variation. I have very little equipment so I’m keeping it pretty simple. I’ve just started doing chins over the last week or so, that should be a good test of strength over the next few months.

        “Thanks for the specifics. Sounds like a fairly low carb diet to me. Have you added the total carb grams from what you were eating before and now?”

        It’s not really low carb, those were just the first foods that came to mind. I also eat plenty of potatoes (one of my staples,) as well as corn on the cob, peas, oatmeal, popcorn, toast, hamburger with the bun on occasion, etc. Mostly whole foods, but not LC or Paleo.

        • “I’m 29. As Jean alluded to, anything is better than the way I was eating before! I was a pig. Some people actually believe that overweight people eat the same amount or less than people of normal weight. Not me! I ate more, a lot more.”

          Thought so. And this means you are not insulin resistant. Those that are often do eat the same amount of food as lean people and become fat.

          “Fred, you also have to keep in mind that weight loss is temporary, it’s not a permanent state. I only have 20-25 pounds to lose, it’s not going to take much longer. And then I’ll go to maintenance. It’s not like I’m going to be on a low-cal diet forever. So even if there are issues with eating very low-cal on a permanent basis, that is emphatically *not* what I’m doing. So what’s with all the scaremongering?”

          I am not attempting to scare you. I am merely providing you with information. Are you getting scared? If I tell you that pizza is crap food and contains loads of antinutrients, this is not designed to scare you but to inform you.

          “It’s not really low carb, those were just the first foods that came to mind. I also eat plenty of potatoes (one of my staples,) as well as corn on the cob, peas, oatmeal, popcorn, toast, hamburger with the bun on occasion, etc. Mostly whole foods, but not LC or Paleo.”

          If you are eating loads of these foods, you are doing your body a disservice. and given that your eating low cal, you are starving yourself on a cellular level. What you describe is nutritionally void. But your 29 so you can get away with it – sort of.

  • Before I continue with this debate, is anyone actually reading this, beyond the few people engaged? If a number of people are reading this, then please post a comment and I will continue. But if this is just a tit-for-tat between Fred and I, with a few spectators and a few others occasionally jumping in, then continuing this is not worthwhile as it will be nothing more than someone always trying to get the last word.

    If no one comments, then Fred, you can have the last word. I haven’t even read the rest of your comments so I’m not even sure what you have said thus far. Engaging in tit-for-tat will not be a productive use of my time, and probably not yours either.

  • Jean Paulo
    9 years ago

    Fred:
    “Pizza? Give me a break. That’s shit food chock full of antinutrients.”Antinutrients!lol.You’re a scaremonger extraordinaire!
    “And how do you know if he is healthy James? DO you know this guy personally? His entire story could be BS. That ever occur to you?”No, I assure you it’s not BS.God, that would be so pathetic, to lie about losing weight on the Internet to try to impress somebody or win an argument.That would be so sad!I would never do that.I really have lost 55 pounds- actually about 57 pounds now.I’ve been tracking my weight loss on Twitter since December 30, you can check it out if you want.(You’ll have to skip through a lot of retweets though, lol.)While that’s not “proof” that I’ve really lost the weight, it does go to show that I spent six months tracking my weight loss before entering this debate with you.I can’t predict the future, so clearly it couldn’t have been some overly elaborate scheme to lie to you, Fred!As for health, I haven’t gone to the doctor and taken any tests.All I know is that I feel great.And that’s all you know, too.“Not only this, clients who go the low calorie route almost always lose strength or we have difficulty getting them much stronger.”I’ve gotten stronger.“I am suggesting that simply eating less food will-nilly, eating whatever you like like pizza and pie and just eating less in total is NOT a healthy way to lose.”
    Pizza and pie *and* fruits, veggies, poultry, fish, some red meat, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc.A variety of foods that I enjoy.It’s a very sustainable and pleasurable way to create a calorie deficit.If you think I’m unhealthy, I’ll say it again, it’ll be fun proving you wrong.  

    Oh yeah, pizza and bagels are perfect refeeding foods which includes a lot of starchy, non-fibrous carbs which helps a lean person achieve greater leanness if the diet was structured properly. Did anyone mentioned leptin yet? That carbohydrates is the only macronutrient that upregulates crashed hormones due to dieting?

  • I’m reading, I was hoping you would continue.

  • Do you guys prefer threaded comments, or just a straight list like on Alan Aragon’s blog?

  • For what it’s worth, Dr. Greg Ellis on page 167 of his book Ultimate Diet Secrets, states the following:

    “Insulin which is released by the pancreas in response to the ingestion of carbohydrates, is the primary hormone that drives energy partitioning in favor of fat accumulation.”

    “….insulin stimulates increases in fat mass rapidly and to a larger degree than it stimulates increases in muscle tissue. That’s the downside of a high carbohydrate diet.”

    And theres more.

    • For what it’s worth, Dr. Greg Ellis on page 167 of his book Ultimate Diet Secrets, states the following:“Insulin which is released by the pancreas in response to the ingestion of carbohydrates, is the primary hormone that drives energy partitioning in favor of fat accumulation.”“….insulin stimulates increases in fat mass rapidly and to a larger degree than it stimulates increases in muscle tissue. That’s the downside of a high carbohydrate diet.”
      And theres more.  

      Fred, first you say that Ellis’s work is not grounded in science, and then you quote a section from his book … Anyone who has read Ellis knows that he hammers away the point that NO ONE is above the law of the energy balance equation. He’s also very clear that folks can, and do, lose fat on different dietary approaches because of this law. However, he believes in and follows a LC diet. Also, he was the first one to point out to me that GT didn’t mention the doubly-labeled water technique in GCBC, which totally discredited his hypothesis …

      • Fred, first you say that Ellis’s work is not grounded in science, and then you quote a section from his book … Anyone who has read Ellis knows that he hammers away the point that NO ONE is above the law of the energy balance equation. He’s also very clear that folks can, and do, lose fat on different dietary approaches because of this law. However, he believes in and follows a LC diet. Also, he was the first one to point out to me that GT didn’t mention the doubly-labeled water technique in GCBC, which totally discredited his hypothesis

        I SAID that there is a lot of good information in both Ellis and Colpos book did I not?

        I said “There are many parts of both that are pretty good however and seem to be saying what is so RE: muscle building and eating healthfully.”

        So don’t strawman me. Don’t you want a good debate?

        And Ellis’s hammering about the 1st law is what I meant when I said what I said. He recognizes the role of insulin and carbs but then mindlessly hammers out the 1st law. He doesn’t even realize what he is saying.

        As for Gary and the doubly labeled water technique, not only has he read the research he interviewed the guy who invented it. He knows all about this research and there are reasons why there was no need to include it as these experiments just confirmed the obvious.

        This is why I suggest attending one of his lectures and asking him these questions. I guarantee you if you met him in person and asked him the toughest questions you could think of you’d come away thinking VERY differently than the picture James is hopelessly trying to pain. In fact, what James is trying to do is painfully laughable to anyone who is serious about this field.

  • Fred, all of your comments go in my spam folder now. I am no longer engaging in discussion with you because it will never end. Any comments that are replies to others, I will let through so that you can continue to engage with others, but any more replies to me will not get posted. I’ve already given you the last word on numerous threads.

    • Alex H.
      9 years ago

      Fred, all of your comments go in my spam folder now.I am no longer engaging in discussion with you because it will never end.Any comments that are replies to others, I will let through so that you can continue to engage with others, but any more replies to me will not get posted.I’ve already given you the last word on numerous threads.  

      FRED HAHN???? Who is this guy???

      Thank goodness, James, I’ve been reading your work with much interest. Since I like lifting weights, I also appreciate what you contribute to the Journal of Pure Power. Excellent stuff all around.

      You might have to ask yourself, however, if you might not want to drop Hahn altogether. I don’t know about the rest of the readers here, but I find his arguments with you to not only highlight how ignorant this person is, thus not contributing anything constructive, but also highly distracting to my enjoyment of your blogs. I mean, how much of his nonsense do I have to read through to get to other people’s more constructive comments?

      Please keep up the good work.

      AH

      • CarbSane
        9 years ago

        I think there’s something to be gained by giving this guy enough rope to hang himself. I have lost 80+ pounds low carbing but I cannot be fanatic about it, and that was part of how I did it and have maintained for almost 2 years now. I am SOOOOO glad I didn’t read up on what was “new” in low carbing in 2007 when I started this and just did my own thing. Honestly, I doubt I would be where I am today had I discovered the Taubsian LC Cult mentality back then.

  • If anyone would like to continue to engage in discussion with Fred, then it can be done on the forum:

    https://weightology.net/weightologyworld

    I let Fred’s last comment go through, but I will not let any more through. Any more discussion that directly addresses Fred will need to happen on the forum. This means I will delete any replies that people make to Fred.

  • Fair enough. Just as you let him have the last word with you, he can have the last word with me, too. See, we’re very civil around here! 🙂

  • From Freedman et al. (2001):

    “Caloric balance is the major of determinant of weight loss. Diets that reduce caloric intake result in weight loss…regardless of macronutrient content” As I said in my previous email there is a plethora of evidence supporting this claim. Low carb dogmatists have a strong faith (belief in absence of evidence) in the purported magical properties of low carb diets, and no amount of evidence will change their belief. I know, I have repeated what has been said numerous times in this thread, and other places, but maybe, it should be pointed out again. The low carbers often repeat their claims, however, many of those claims happen to be unfounded

    In conculsion, I think this article- Low Carb Dogma http://maxcondition.com/page.php?152
    may be worth reading. And to be clear I am neither for or against low carb diets. Which one is better? It depends.

    • Jean Paulo
      9 years ago

      From Freedman et al. (2001):“Caloric balance is the major of determinant of weight loss.Diets that reduce caloric intake result in weight loss…regardless of macronutrient content” As I said in my previous email there is a plethora of evidence supporting this claim.Low carb dogmatists have a strong faith (belief in absence of evidence) in the purported magical properties of low carb diets, and no amount of evidence will change their belief.I know, I have repeated what has been said numerous times in this thread, and other places, but maybe, it should be pointed out again.The low carbers often repeat their claims, however, many of those claims happen to be unfoundedIn conculsion, I think this article- Low Carb Dogma http://maxcondition.com/page.php?152
      may be worth reading.And to be clear I am neither for or against low carb diets.Which one is better? It depends.  

      Exactly

      • CarbSane
        9 years ago

        Third!

        LC was just the easiest way for me to get in negative balance. One big fan of Taubes is a “success story” on Mark Sisson’s site. He lost a lot of weight rapidly. But he logged foods and it turns out for three months or so he was averaging <1150 cal/day. Is it a surprise to anyone that a nearly 400 lb man would lose a lot of weight eating that little?

        • Hey, let’s not forget Tom Naughton’s movie “Fat Head”, which was supposed to be some sort of LC answer to Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”. He ate 2000 cals for 30 days, and, lo and behold, he lost weight …

  • Fascinating discussion. I’m not sure I agree with all your critiques of Gary Taubes. but it’s interesting reading. For *me* a low carb diet is the only sustainable diet on the planet. I’ve tried all of them just about, and low carb is the only one that not only works for me, keeps my blood sugar under control, keeps my blood pressure under control – but also the only one where I can enjoy my food and my daily eating. Sure I don’t eat things like pizza or Tollhouse cookies, but since I think things like wheat flour and sugar are deadly foods for *anyone* to eat I mind at all. To me this is the only sustainable way to live, and in 4 1/2 years of low carbing I have lost 111 pounds and continue to improve my health in any way, and all while eating well over 2000 calories daily (I don’t weight and measure my food every day, but do it often enough to see that I’m on track, though I generally find I way overestimate how much food I’m eating if I stop measuring for a while – so that while I “guesstimate” I’m taking in about 2300-2500 calories I’ll often find, when I measure, that it’s really more like 1800-2000).

    But heck, I’ve lost 111 pounds eating as much as I want, but all good healthy foods. One of my best friends has lost 70 pounds on Weight Watchers – staying to low fat and fat free items and very low calories, and all the “frankenfoods” that WW sells in the supermarkets full of cr*p ingredients. People tell me how great I look. People don’t know what to say to her because she looks so gray and gaunt and unhealthy that everyone fears she is dying of cancer or some other dread disease. Yeah, anecdotal evidence – I know, I know.

    But when I switched to a low carb diet I saw my son after one week, and he asked me what I was doing differently. In one week I had clearly not lost much weight, so I asked him what he meant. “Well, you just look so much healthier somehow, and your skin looks so much nicer”. As anecdotal evidence of one that’s the sort of thing I like to hear, LOL.

    I don’t think Gary Taubes is God by any means. But the more I listen to him the more impressed I am by him. I, personally, feel a low(ish) carb diet is by far the healthiest for anyone. But I’m not a proselytizer. I don’t try to make everyone eat that way. We all have to find our own ways. The one thing I hope we can all agree on is to eat REAL FOODS – and not the sort of packaged junk they sell in the supermarket full of HFCS and trans fats. My son and his wife don’t stay on a low carb eating plan, but they buy real food and do all their own cooking.

    I admit I do wish I could get everyone to give up goods make from processed wheat flour but I know that’s just a pipe dream. 🙂

    • Debbie,

      Congratulations on your outstanding weight loss!

    • CarbSane
      9 years ago

      I have lost 111 pounds and continue to improve my health in any way, and all while eating well over 2000 calories daily (I don’t weight and measure my food every day, but do it often enough to see that I’m on track, though I generally find I way overestimate how much food I’m eating if I stop measuring for a while – so that while I “guesstimate” I’m taking in about 2300-2500 calories I’ll often find, when I measure, that it’s really more like 1800-2000).

      First off, congratulations on your long term significant weight loss! I hope my comments around the net and my blog do not leave the impression that LC is not a great way to lose weight. Mostly it is how I finally lost and have maintained mine.

      But I think l share with James and others a search for the truth and distaste for those who would exploit an often desperate situation to sell books and collect lecture fees. Speaking for myself, I see no other motive at this point for Taubes. I don’t think Taubes started out with this in mind, but for him to perpetuate his “teachings” when he knows better is harmful. Debbie for every person like you there are probably hundreds of people who can’t tolerate low carb for the long term. These people agonize over falling off the wagon, think that every gram of carb is like ingesting shards of glass or rat poison and beat themselves up to the point of binging and doing more harm.

      Indoctrination in fallacies does not help anyone.

      I quoted your passage to highlight how low carb diets really work: you reduce caloric intake.

      Every obese person or person with an eating disorder should try LC IMO at least once. But it is not for everyone.

      Congrats again. I too exude health eating (mostly) low carb!

  • there is no one size fits all. I think that this is so important. As far as I am aware only one “diet guru” preaches this: Peter D’adamo. I really enjoyed his book “Eat right 4 your type” as it was a fresh look on diets in that it attempted to explain why different people have different results on the same diets.

    LOL, very true. I agree that different people enjoy eating different ways. My major bone to pick with D’Adamo is that the the type of diet he recommends for my “type” is one I could never ever live on under any circumstances! I’d be miserable. 😀

  • Debbie, congrats on losing 111 pounds. That’s awesome! Whatever works for you, go for it!

  • I see you’re still obsessed with Taubes.

    • Sue,

      Thanks for your comment. As it says in my mission statement, I am obsessed with “providing you knowledge based on evidence and facts, rather than hearsay or hype.” That also means providing a complete picture when an incomplete picture has been presented.

  • CarbSane
    9 years ago

    Reply to Lucas (I put this here b/c the nesting was getting really hard to read!)

    The issue is that the hormonal environment during a high carbohydrate diet isnt optimal for endogenous fat lipolysis and subsequent beta oxidation to take place.

    You have to consider also the energy wasted (2nd law of thermodynamics) and the increased cost of the digestion of proteins. Finally, you have to consider ketogenesis and the physiological role of ketones. Insulin is just a part of the big picture.

    Regarding

    Lipolysis and beta-oxidation are distinct metabolic paths/reactions. Lipolysis takes place all the time, and FWIW, the obese are not suffering for a lack of available free fatty acids, they almost invariably have elevated NEFA/FFA levels when this biomarker is reported in weight loss studies (of all sorts).

    You need to look at the NET picture and fat storage as a bank account. Let’s say you have $1000 in the bank, and you need to pay a $100 bill and just got paid $100. If carbs are $10 bills and fats are $20’s, if you’re paid in $10’s you skip the bank and just pass those on to pay your bill. But if you are paid in any mix of $10’s and $20’s, for some reason you are required to deposit the $20’s you do that and withdraw that amount later in the day to pay your bill. If you are paid all in $20’s you deposit all of them and withdraw later to pay the bill. No matter the scenario, your balance at the end of the day is $1000 unless you were paid $200. Then you will have $1100 in the bank at the end of the day, and if you weren’t paid at all, you had to take $100 out of the bank. I blogged on endogenous vs. dietary fat here. It is easy to get caught up in insulin’s energy partitioning function, but at the end of the day, insulin controls what is “burnt” when, but it has no impact on total energy usage. The LC community’s touting of lipolysis and even higher oxidation rates is meaningless taken out of context. It is energy requirements that determine whether we add to, take from or in the end balance out our fat reserves. Hormones do not have the power to change the First Law of Thermo or mass balance.

    I’m not sure I get what you mean by protein and the 2nd Law, but I really don’t wish to clutter James’ comments here with that discussion. If you care to go to my blog on thermo and comment there I’ll be glad to edjumacate you 😉 No doubt certain processes upregulated on LC consume additional energy, but there are others that are downregulated. First Law stuff!

    Can’t find the quote but loss of lean body mass happens from the moment your protein intake doesn’t meet your needs. It may not be measurable, but our bodies are pretty efficient at getting substrates needed to support key metabolic processes.

  • Fascinating discussion. I am a strength coach with 17 years experience coaching natural athetes and bodybuilders. I agree with everything you are saying BUT the fact remains that my clients can drop bodyfat eating lots of protein and fat calories and struggle to drop bodyfat eat very low cal diets which contain carbs. I want to agree with you but meticulous measuring has confirmed this over and over.

    I really value your guys input on this. Great discussion. Thanks everyone.

  • The more comments I read from low-carb zealots, expecially Fred, the more I’m convinced that low-carb isn’t healthy for the brain and the less I’m attracted to the idea of following such a diet.
    You can’t really claim your diet is the healthier when it doesn’t even allow your brain to think straight. I haven’t seen any evidence that you low-carb eaters are the healthiest people around. Just looking at your photos makes it clear you’re nothing special and there’s healthier people on less obsessive diets but then reading your almost pathological faulty reasonings…
    And you’re telling me that such a diet would be the best choice for teens or young men and women who are active, have a fast and can enjoy a variety of foods, including pizza as someone said, rather than eating bacon and pork ribs all the time?! You must be kidding me. Low-carb so far seems the diet for the obsessive compulsive, who don’t want to take responsability for his/her lack of results in lowering calories enough to create weight loss and wants an excuse to be lazy and not to exercise.

  • Could someone help me please? I have been low ( not very low) carbing for 3 years and feel much better with this way of eating but have failed to lose more than 10 pounds, which went in the first few weeks. I seem to be fixed at a set point of 190 or so pounds. My question is – way back at the beginning of this discussion there was a reference to some of the reasons why someone might not lose on a low carb diet, and the loss of the gall bladder was included. Does anyone know how this might affect attempts to lose weight and what I could do about it? I have tried supplementing with bile acids etc. Would be most grateful for any suggestions as I have tried everything.

    • Elsa,

      You may want to read a recent article I wrote which explains one of the reasons why weight loss plateaus.

      • James, thanks for that link which was very interesting if somewhat depressing for me. From what you say it seems that the metabolism slows with weightloss despite our best efforts. However in my case the amount of weight lost is so trivial and I can assure you that I eat a very high quality diet, not too much of it and I take exercise. I appreciate that this thread is concerned with your critique of GT and GCBC and I don’t want to intrude with my specific problems too much but I was just so intrigued to read that the lack of a gall bladder might be critical in preventing weight loss. I was really hoping that those with more knowledge and understanding of the science behind metabolism could explain to me if this is so and why, and what if anything could be done about it.

        • I was just so intrigued to read that the lack of a gall bladder might be critical in preventing weight loss. I was really hoping that those with more knowledge and understanding of the science behind metabolism could explain to me if this is so and why, and what if anything could be done about it.  

          Actually Elsa, the lack of a gall bladder should probably assist weight loss if anything because low bile acids would mean less fat absorption — think Alli. I don’t recall that the gall bladder is involved in lipid metabolism once the fats are absorbed.

        • Elsa,

          I would agree with CarbSane in that there is no physiological reason why the lack of a gall bladder would impair metabolism or weight loss. In fact, there is a tendency for increased bowel transit times and diarrhea, which would favor weight loss rather than weight gain.

  • 1. “What sorts of people would a low carb diet NOT be an effective strategy for losing fat and improving internal health markers? Please give examples. Skip the rare cases like people who are missing their gall bladders?”

    I looked back and found the comment that I was referring to. (Fred Kahn on June 25th).

    Thanks very much for your replies CarbSane and James. I just wish I could find the answer. There must be something that would “fix” a broken metabolism like mine but I haven’t found the switch yet. Incidentally I don’t even know why it got broken as I have never in my life been a junk food eater, or even much of a glucose fan. My doctor calls it the thrifty gene. For years I have eaten well and moderately, taken exercise and tried different supplements, (Berberine, lipase, CLA , iodine, magnesium to name but a few.) The interesting thing is that it has certainly paid dividends in terms of apparent health – triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure etc are all optimal but weight stays resolutely the same, and far too high at 192 pounds for a not particularly tall woman. Must I resign myself to staying this weight? Any suggestions, however bizarre, gratefully received.
    And thank you for this blog – most interesting.

    • Elsa,

      It’s difficult to tell what may be responsible for your struggles without knowing your full background, including detailed analysis of both your diet and your overall habits and activity, as well as your health history. When I was a researcher at an obesity clinic, all of our clients had intensive one-on-one counseling that was tailored to people’s individual needs and health histories, which allowed us to achieve tremendous success.

  • Interesting, I have to admit that after the smashing of the lipid hypothesis in GCBC, which I think was spot on, my critical thinking kind of disappeared and I went into a trance under the sheer volume of material. That and all the paleo recommenders and I never questioned the book from then on.

    However, after searching for critiques and finding yours, and rereading the chapter closely, I have to agree that all of your points are spot on. It definitely in retrospect looks like he’s trying to weave everything too perfectly into his framework, although I agree with many of his points in general.

    Forgive me if I missed something, but I think Taubes, at least in this chapter, was more focused on implicating refined carbohydrates, basically sugar and white flour, in all of his examples, never all carbs in general. And I’ve seen material from him admitting in several other sources that he doesn’t assume all carbs are bad necessarily, he admits the asian populations on starch seem to be a counterexample to that. I do agree he seems to be too anti-calories in calories out and dismisses it completely, tries too hard to implicate SOLELY carbohydate.

    My current view, although amateur and still learning, is that you’re spot on in calories mattering, overeating and exercising less makes one gain weight, but carbs, especially refined ones, make those two a hell of a lot easier to do.

    Keep up the good work, I’d like to see the future chapter posts. I think it’s a great contribution.

    • Scott,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Taubes, at least in this chapter, was more focused on implicating refined carbohydrates, basically sugar and white flour, in all of his examples, never all carbs in general.

      The problem is that Taubes never really makes a strong effort to make this distinction in the book. While he does sometimes mention refined carbohydrate and not just carbohydrate, he muddies the waters when he starts talking about carbohydrate, its effects on insulin, the efficacy of low carbohydrate diets, and the increased carbohydrate consumption and low-fat recommendations in the U.S. The fact that his message is not clear is obvious when you go on low-carbohydrate forums, as well as engage with many Taubes’s followers. Many of these people will implicate too much carbohydrate of any kind, along with insulin. Thus, it is clear that, if Taubes’s message is only refined carbohydrate, that message is not being heard by most who follow him.

      The other problem is Taubes primarily implicates refined carbohydrate through its effects on insulin. However, as shown in my recent article series on insulin, Taubes’s proposed mechanisms are not correct, and are based on incorrect understandings of how insulin works. His proposed mechanisms are not consistent with the findings of modern research. This is also not to mention why Taubes cannot explain why there are people who do consume large amounts of refined carbohydrate yet do not become obese.

      Refined carbohydrate certainly increases risk of obesity, but it is not primarily through insulin. Taubes ignores the more obvious data (which is also the data that is more strongly and consistently supported by research)…foods high in refined carbohydrate are typically energy dense, can be consumed in large amounts quickly (such as liquid calories via sodas and juices), take less calories to digest, and/or have special hedonic properties that cause us to eat for reward/pleasure rather than hunger. All of these aspects override natural appetite regulation and favor positive energy balance. The positive energy balance is key, and you are correct that it is easier to overeat on refined carbohydrate foods. We know positive energy balance is key because there are studies where, when people increase their sucrose intake yet remain in energy balance, they do not gain weight and they do not become insulin resistant.

      I’d like to see the future chapter posts

      I’ve been wanting to get to the future chapter posts. It’s just challenging given that I have a full time job outside of this website, along with the fact I need to keep up with my Weightology Weekly articles. It’s just going to be a matter of when I’m able to grab a chunk of time to write another post.

      • “The problem is that Taubes never really makes a strong effort to make this distinction in the book. While he does sometimes mention refined carbohydrate and not just carbohydrate, he muddies the waters when he starts talking about carbohydrate, its effects on insulin, the efficacy of low carbohydrate diets, and the increased carbohydrate consumption and low-fat recommendations in the U.S. The fact that his message is not clear is obvious when you go on low-carbohydrate forums, as well as engage with many Taubes’s followers. Many of these people will implicate too much carbohydrate of any kind, along with insulin. Thus, it is clear that, if Taubes’s message is only refined carbohydrate, that message is not being heard by most who follow him.”

        I do remember the book as a whole being ambiguous on whether it implicates carbs or refined carbs as the villian. I’ll have to go a second full read myself soon and with my thinking cap on this time. It does seem like he tries to paint a picture of all carbs being bad (“The carbohydrate hypothesis”, the Larry King Live video), but a lot of the book only had evidence against refined carbs.

        In either case, from what I can tell I think you’re spot on with the whole low-carb and paleo communities taking the whole book as the gospel truth (myself formerly included, until experience repeatedly told me calories, more or less, determined body fat, then I started questioning things).

        “The other problem is Taubes primarily implicates refined carbohydrate through its effects on insulin. However, as shown in my recent article series on insulin, Taubes’s proposed mechanisms are not correct, and are based on incorrect understandings of how insulin works. His proposed mechanisms are not consistent with the findings of modern research. This is also not to mention why Taubes cannot explain why there are people who do consume large amounts of refined carbohydrate yet do not become obese.”

        I’ll have to take a look at those and compare them with GCBC sometime. It’s true, he never mentions those people to my recollection. I would assume his explanation would be of genetic variations, but I can’t speak for him. You’re absolutely right, I’ve known many many people who are very thin (many asians included) who consume a fair percentage of refined carbohydrates in their diet. I know one guy who I only ever see eating chocolate and candy! But the unifying factor for all of them is they only consume moderate amounts. Of course this is all anecdotal, but my experience matches with your theory.

        “Refined carbohydrate certainly increases risk of obesity, but it is not primarily through insulin. Taubes ignores the more obvious data (which is also the data that is more strongly and consistently supported by research)…foods high in refined carbohydrate are typically energy dense, can be consumed in large amounts quickly (such as liquid calories via sodas and juices), take less calories to digest, and/or have special hedonic properties that cause us to eat for reward/pleasure rather than hunger. All of these aspects override natural appetite regulation and favor positive energy balance. The positive energy balance is key, and you are correct that it is easier to overeat on refined carbohydrate foods. We know positive energy balance is key because there are studies where, when people increase their sucrose intake yet remain in energy balance, they do not gain weight and they do not become insulin resistant.”

        You know, that makes a lot of sense and fits in with my experience as well. I do notice that refined carbs make me want to eat more, not because my stomach is hungry, but because some other mechanism is at work. In fact, I find my actual hunger, as felt by sensations and rumbling in the throat and stomach, is suppressed by ingesting refined carbs, while this second “brain hunger”, which is likely just a hedonic addiction as you say, calls out for more and more. If I go purely by the stomach “true” hunger, I never overeat.

        Speaking of your example of sucrose intake, it reminds me of an interview Seth Roberts did with Taubes http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2008/01/20/interview-with-gary-taubes-part-13/
        where Roberts talks about his Shangri-La diet, where one ingests low density sugar water (or oil) over a period of the day to lower calorie intake, and it apparently works well from what I’ve read. Taubes can’t seem to figure out what’s at work here, but Seth’s experience matches with what you’re saying well.

        “I’ve been wanting to get to the future chapter posts. It’s just challenging given that I have a full time job outside of this website, along with the fact I need to keep up with my Weightology Weekly articles. It’s just going to be a matter of when I’m able to grab a chunk of time to write another post.”

        Oh no, I meant that in the sense that I will look forward to them whenever they come out, not rushing at all. I completely understand the lack of time for critiquing a monster like GCBC pro-bono. Thanks a ton for doing whatever you do. I can tell from your writing and posts that you’ve got a lot of expertise in the field, you’re very intelligent, and you try to keep conversation civil and rational when others don’t, which I highly respect. I’ll be reading your posts, and I’ll definitely take a close look at any future critiques of GCBC chapters to try to add to the discussion.

  • To Scott:

    I agree with James that Taubes seems to make no effort to single out refined carbohydrate in his book. In the famous NYT article, he does mention sugary drinks, and he references these as “maybe 80 or 90% of the problem” (that’s a paraphrase) somewhat under his breath in his lectures.

    My issue with this man is that he continues to peddle a PROVEABLY false theory on the causes of weight gain (and by extension weight loss). And since the 2007 publication, he has sought to correct few of his errors in his lecture$. Being a formerly obese person myself I know full well the desperation. I think had I read his book before embarking on my latest weight loss journey I may well have been suckered in by his style, which is saying a lot as I am well educated in related fields. What is sad, to me, is to see folks — and there are prominent examples in the low carb community — who continue to be frustrated and struggle with weight regain or lack of weight loss on low carb because they’ve been fooled by this huckster. Countless others who agonize over every gram of carb they ingest to where if they give in to 10 extra grams it leads to an all out face-stuffing binge.

    IMO, it’s not even refined carbs, per se, that are to blame. When I was a kid (when we had only one or two “fat kids” in the entire school year class, and those kids wouldn’t even be all that fat by today’s standards) my classmates ate quite a bit of refined carbs (not me mostly, Mom was into sprouted grain bread, diluting fruit juice, whole fruit or celery with PB, etc.). But the classmates ate frosted flakes for breakfast, baloney or PB&J on Wonder bread for lunch with a Hostess cupcake or Twinkie, things like fruit roll-ups, saltines, cookies&milk for snacks, and KoolAid to drink after school. And who of a certain age can forget Pixie Stix & Lick’m’Ade (these were both pure sugar with flavorings that came in straws or that you licked and dipped a stick into). Why did eating those things back then NOT send us kids into a feeding frenzy?? Why did not our insulin riddled bodies accumulate fat??

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