The Inanity of Overeating

My new book is coming out at the end of the month. It’s called Why We Get Fat and the subtitle is What To Do About it. The book concentrates more on the first because once you understand why we get fat, the what to do about it part is pretty obvious. And the problem is that the conventional wisdom on why we get fat is almost incomprehensibly naïve and wrong-headed.

My goals in writing the book, as I explain in an author’s letter, are to push the issue (I keep wanting to use the cliché, “throw down the gauntlet,” but as I get older I notice I keep wanting to use more and more clichés, and it’s a bad sign for a writer) on this nonsensical notion that we get fat because of overeating and sedentary behavior, and to distill down and extend some of the arguments from my previous book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, into a book that can easily be airplane reading on any flight covering more than one time zone.

In this blog, if it goes as planned, I hope to ask questions as much as provide answers. Over the past decade, as I’ve read more than a century’s worth of literature on obesity and nutrition and chronic disease, I’ve been consistently amazed at the ability of researchers, learned commentators (and the far greater ranks of unlearned commentators), physicians and public health authorities to accept some of the rote ideas about these excruciatingly important subjects without seemingly giving it any conscious thought whatsoever, or without wanting to ask the kinds of questions that a reasonably smart junior high school student should ask if given the opportunity. To this date, I don’t understand this failure of intellect, although I’ll almost assuredly be returning to it regularly in future blogs.

So what do I mean about overeating being a nonsensical explanations for why we get fat? I was just reading Jonah Lehrer’s latest column in the Wall Street Journal–“The Real Culprit in Overeating.

Now Lehrer is one of the most talented science writers working today. I’m tempted to say one of the brightest young science writers, but that would be to do him a disservice. He’s as good as any of us at any age. But in this column he falls short, as he’s working outside his area of expertise. (A common problem with most science and health writers is that we often write about a different subject every week or month, so if we’re being fed nonsense by the local experts in any particular field we will typically pass that nonsense along to the readers because we don’t know enough not do otherwise.) The underlying assumption of Lehrer’s column is that we get obese because we overeat, and evidence of the fact that Americans eat too much is that a third of us are obese. Okay, so let’s take a look at this concept from a less than conventional perspective and see what questions we might naturally ask.

First, obese people tend to be weight stable for long periods of their life, just like lean people. So when they’re weight stable, the obese and overweight are obviously in energy balance. They’re not overeating during these periods of stable weight. They’re eating to match their expenditure, doing exactly what the lean do (and get copious credit for). So one obvious question is why the overweight and obese are only in energy balance when they’re carrying 10, 20, 30 or maybe 100 pounds of excess fat, and lean people are in energy balance without the excess? What’s the culprit for that? Because the problem isn’t that the obese overeat when they’re obese, it’s that they overeat when they’re lean and they continue to overeat until they become obese.

Second, let’s say you’re carrying around 40 pounds of excess fat and you put on that 40 pounds over the course of 20 years, as many of us do. When you’re in your late 20s, say, you’re still lean, and then, lo and behold, you celebrate your fiftieth birthday and you’re obese and your doctor is lecturing you on eating less and getting to the gym regularly (and probably writing you a prescription for Lipitor, as well). Now, if you gain 40 pounds of fat over 20 years, that’s an average of two pounds of excess fat accumulation every year. Since a pound of fat is roughly equal to 3500 calories, this means you accumulate roughly 7000 calories worth of fat every year. Divide that 7000 by 365 and you get the number of calories of fat you stored each day and never burned – roughly 19 calories. Let’s round up to 20 calories, so we have a nice round number. (In the new book I discuss this issue in a chapter called “The Significance of Twenty Calories a Day.”)

So now the question: if all you have to do to become obese is store 20 extra calories each day on average in your fat tissue — 20 calories that you don’t mobilize and burn — what does overeating have to do with it? And why aren’t we all fat? Twenty calories, after all, is a bite or two of food, a swallow or two of soda or fruit juice or milk or beer. It is an absolutely trivial amount of overeating that the body then chooses, for reasons we’ll have to discuss at some point, not to expend, but to store as fat instead. Does anyone – even Jonah Lehrer or the neuroscientists he consults – think that the brain, perhaps in cohort with the gut, is making decisions about how much we should eat, on how long we stay hungry and when we get full, so that we don’t overshoot by 20 calories a day. That’s matching intake to expenditure with an accuracy of better than 1 percent. (We consume, on average, about 2700 calories a day, so matching energy in to energy out and not overshooting by 20 calories requires better than one percent accuracy.) And, of course, if we only overshoot by ten calories a day on average, we’re still going to put on 20 pounds of excess fat in 20 years. So really when we talk about being in energy balance – or practicing energy balance, as the experts now like to say – we actually have to be perfect in our matching of intake to expenditure or we’re going to get inexorably fatter (or leaner, if we err on the side of going hungry), or at least we have to average perfection over decades.

One way to get around this is to assume that we overeat by this trivial amount for a few years on end and then we realize we’ve put on five or ten pounds – maybe our clothes no longer fit well or we’ve had to let out the belt a notch or two – and then we decide to undereat every day for however long it takes to make up for it. So now we walk away from the table hungry until all is back to leanness. But then how do animals do it? They don’t have mirrors or clothes to tell them they’re getting fat, and the world is full of animals that have plenty of food available all year round, plenty of opportunity to overeat if they want to and do so long enough to get chubby. And yet the only animals that get chronically obese are those that get their food directly from humans – in the laboratory, in the home or the zoo, or at the dinner table, since humans happen to be animals, too.

Considering the fact that not getting fatter year in and year out means literally matching energy in to energy expended without error for years on end, do we really think that this job is done by the brain, by either conscious behavior, or some system that listens to signals from the body and then puts a halt on eating behavior when it decides enough food has come in that the amount so far expended or likely to be expended in the near future is about to be exceeded? Here’s the idea: your gut is sending signals to this monitoring system in the brain and that monitoring system is tallying up calories consumed until it finally senses that it’s near the limit of intake. Uh oh, it’s thinking, that last bite of that hamburger is not going to be expended, abort abort! Put down the fork! Walk away from the table!

If you were designing an organism that didn’t accumulate excess fat in the fat tissue (in other words, any organism that isn’t human or isn’t getting fed by humans, directly or indirectly) would you leave it up to a different organ entirely, an organ off-site so to speak (the brain), to assure that calories consumed matched calories expended, so that no excess energy managed to somehow sneak into the fat tissue, without the fat tissue having any say in the matter? Or would you give the regulation to the fat tissue itself and let it do the job?

The reason people believe we get fat because of overeating and sedentary behavior is because they believe the laws of thermodynamics somehow dictate this to be true. In particular the first law, which tells us that energy is conserved, so if a system takes in more energy than it expends, the energy contained in the system has to increase. If that system happens to be our fat tissue, than the fat tissue accumulates fat. That’s the logic. So if we eat more than we expend, we get fatter and the logic turns this around to say that we get fat because we eat more than we expend. And so, overeating and sedentary behavior are the causes. This is the logic that leads virtually every government health agency and independent health organization (the AHA, the AMA, you name it) to have some variation of this World Health Organization statement on its website or in its promotional material: “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed on one hand, and calories expended on the other hand.”

But now imagine that instead of talking about why we get fat, we’re talking about a different system entirely. This kind of gedanken (thought) experiment is always a good way to examine the viability of your assumptions about any particular problem. Say instead of talking about why fat tissue accumulates too much energy, we want to know why a particular restaurant gets so crowded. Now the energy we’re talking about is contained in entire people rather than just the fat in their fat tissue. Ten people contain so much energy; eleven people contain more, etc.. So what we want to know is why this restaurant is crowded and so over-stuffed with energy (i.e., people) and maybe why some other restaurant down the block has remained relatively empty — lean.

If you asked me this question — why did this restaurant get crowded? — and I said, well, the restaurant got crowded (it got overstuffed with energy) because more people entered the restaurant than left it, you’d probably think I was being a wise guy or an idiot. (If I worked for the World Health Organization, I’d tell you that “the fundamental cause of the crowded restaurant is an energy imbalance between people entering on one hand, and people exiting on the other hand.”) Of course, more people entered than left, you’d say. That’s obvious. But why? And, in fact, saying that a restaurant gets crowded because more people are entering than leaving it is redundant –saying the same thing in two different ways – and so meaningless.

Now, borrowing the logic of the conventional wisdom of obesity, I want to clarify this point. So I say, listen, those restaurants that have more people enter them then leave them will become more crowded. There’s no getting around the laws of thermodynamics. You’d still say, yes, but so what? Or at least I hope you would, because I still haven’t given you any causal information. I’m just repeating the obvious.

This is what happens when the laws of physics (thermodynamics) are used to defend the belief that overeating makes us fat. Thermodynamics tells us that if we get fatter and heavier, more energy enters our body than leaves it. Overeating means we’re consuming more energy than we’re expending. It’s saying the same thing in a different way. (In 1954, the soon-to-be-famous — and often misguided, although not in this case — nutritionist Jean Mayer said that to explain obesity by overeating was about as meaningful as explaining alcoholism by overdrinking, and merely reaffirmed, quite unnecessarily, the fact that the person saying it believed in the laws of thermodynamics.) Neither happens to answer the question why. Why do we take in more energy than we expend? Why do we get fatter?

Answering the “why” question speaks to actual causes. In the restaurant analogy, okay, maybe this restaurant has particularly great food, or it’s happy hour; the drinks are cheap. Maybe it’s pouring outside so a lot of people ran into the restaurant to stay dry. Maybe every other restaurant in the neighborhood, including our lean restaurant down the block, was recently closed by the local health bureau and this is the only one that didn’t have cockroaches in the kitchen and so remained open. Maybe it’s in the theater district and the shows just got out and now every restaurant in the neighborhood is packed with the post-theater crowd. Maybe the word has spread that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie frequent this restaurant regularly, or Oprah, and this attracted a crowd hoping for a glimpse of celebrity.

All these would be valid answers to the question we asked. Some speak to the conditions inside the restaurant (the quality of the food, the price of the drinks, celebrity customers); some speak to conditions immediately outside (a rain storm, no competition, the theater schedule). They all provide the causal information we’re seeking. They answer the “why” question. That more people are entering than leaving doesn’t. It’s what logicians call “vacuously” true. It’s true, but meaningless. It tells us nothing. And the same is true of overeating as an explanation for why we get fat. If we got fat, we had to overeat. That’s always true; it’s obvious, and it tells us nothing about why we got fat, or why one person got fat and another didn’t.

Some obesity experts are intuitively aware of this problem, which is why they’ll say, as the National Institutes of Health does on its website, that “Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories from food than he or she burns.” By using the word occurs, they’re not actually saying that overeating is the cause, only a necessary condition. (It’s like saying “a crowded restaurant occurs when more people enter than leave.”) They’re just saying that when one thing happened – obesity –the other thing also happened – consuming more calories from food than we expend. And now it’s up to us to say, okay, so what? Aren’t you going to tell us why obesity occurs? Rather than tell us what else happens when it does occur.

As for the great majority of experts who say (and apparently believe) that we get fat because we overeat or we get fat as a result of overeating, they’re the ones making the junior-high-school-science-class mistake: they’re taking a law of nature that says absolutely nothing about why we get fat and assuming it says all that needs to be said. This was a common error in the first half of the 20th century. It’s become ubiquitous since.

If the experts had ever been open to a little skeptical thinking from others or had they been appropriately skeptical themselves, this might never have happened. What’s been needed (and still is) was for someone (a reasonably smart 14-year-old would suffice) to ask the obvious questions and then insist on intelligent answers. Here’s how such a dialog might go:

The experts: Obesity is caused by over-eating, by consuming more calories than are expended. There’s no getting around the first law of thermodynamics.

Us: But all that law says is that if somebody gets fat, they have to consume more calories then they expend. So why do they do that?

The experts: Because they do.

Us: That’s not a good enough answer.

The experts: Well, maybe they can’t help themselves.

Us: Why can’t they help themselves?

The experts: Because they can’t.

Us: That’s not a good enough answer either.

The experts: Because the food industry makes them do it. There’s so much good food around and it’s so tasty, they can’t help but eat it.

Us: But obviously some of us can, because we don’t all get fat. Why is it only some people can’t help themselves?

The experts: Because they can’t.

Us: Try again.

The experts: Well, it’s complicated.

Us: What do you mean complicated? We thought it was easy. Just this eating-too-much, exercising-too-little, calories-in-calories-out, thermodynamics thing.

The experts: Okay, how about this? [Now quoting from an NIH report published in 2000.] “Obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease that develops from an interaction of genotype and the environment. Our understanding of how and why obesity develops is incomplete, but involves the integration of social, behavioral, cultural, physiological, metabolic and genetic factors.”

Us: So what do all those have to do with eating too much and the laws of thermodynamics?

Experts: They contribute to making fat people overeat.

Us: How do they do that?

The experts: We don’t know. It’s complicated.

Us: Then maybe there’s another way to look at it. Maybe when we get fat it’s because those physiological, metabolic and genetic factors you mentioned are dysregulating our fat tissue, driving it to accumulate too much fat, and that’s why we eat so much and appear — to you anyway — to be kind of lazy. We’re compensating for the loss of calories into our fat.

The experts: Yeah, well, maybe. Your guess is as good as ours.

Speak Your Mind

*

Comments

  1. Bob Mikelonis says:

    The experts say it doesn’t matter why, just do as we say. And if you’re unsuccessful, you didn’t try hard enough.

  2. Samuel Klein says:

    If the answers are described in your book as good as the question mentioned in this blog, I will definitely buy your new book……..

  3. nonegiven says:

    Great first post!

  4. It’s all about Will-Power and Fortitude…hahaha!

    Once you start eating right, will power is taken out of the equation, and fat melts from your body.

  5. “Us: But obviously some of us can, because we don’t all get fat. Why is it only some people can’t help themselves?

    The experts: Because they can’t.”

    That’s not really what “the experts” says at all, depending on what you define as an expert.

    Perhaps it would do you some good to read up on the research Lehrer cites instead of resorting to straw man arguments?

    Allow me to provide a good starting point:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18927395

    The connection between overeating and other addiction-like behaviors. Look into it.

    • David says:

      You’re not really refuting what he said in this post, Martin. He’s making a simple argument. He said that a lot of people are of the mentality that people get fat because they consciously eat too much and exercise too little. Lean people are lean because they consciously match match their energy expenditure precisely to their intake. But, as he said, considering that a mere 20 calorie daily excess is enough to eventually cause obesity, it’s seriously doubtful that that is the case.

      As we have known since the discovery of leptin, body weight is something that is biologically regulated. Biologically, not consciously.

      From the abstract of that study you linked:

      “The dorsal striatum plays a role in consummatory food reward, and striatal dopamine receptors are reduced in obese individuals, relative to lean individuals, which suggests that the striatum and dopaminergic signaling in the striatum may contribute to the development of obesity.”

      Perhaps that is the answer to why the biological regulation of body weight is failing in obese individuals. You’re just proving his point. Something other than merely eating too much and not exercising enough is causing obesity. In lean individuals, this dopamine receptor problem isn’t a problem, so they remain lean eating to appetite, without ever putting thought into it.

      Of course obese people ultimately have eaten more than they’ve expended. All he’s asking is why are they eating too much. I think you understand that in a normal metabolism, eating normal food, that doesn’t happen.

      Gary’s logic stands. And it seems you’re the one resorting to straw man arguments.

    • Thomas Kurz says:

      Since rates of obesity are higher in the USA than in many other countries, does that mean that in those other countries rates of people with reduced striatal dopamine receptors are much lower than in the USA? Why?

    • GT says:

      Hi Martin,
      I did look into the url you sent me and the authors do make the same mistaken assumption about the cause of obesity. Here’s a key paragraph from the article:

      This finding is consistent with the theory that it represents a vulnerability factor for obesity (31). However, an important alternative explanation to consider is that the hypofunctioning dopamine system results from down-regulation of reward circuitry secondary to overconsumption of high-fat and high-sugar foods (31, 32). Indeed, animal studies indicate that chronic excessive intake of such foods results in down-regulation of postsynaptic D2 receptors, increased D1 receptor binding, and decreased D2 sensitivity and μ-opioid receptor binding (32–34)—changes that also occur in response to chronic substance use. Although we controlled for initial BMI in our prospective analyses, which reduces the risk that a history of overeating explains the prospective effects, we cannot rule out the possibility that the blunted striatal response is caused by overeating, particularly among individuals with the A1 allele. Paradoxically, such an adaptation may further increase the risk for the persistence of overeating.

      So on obvious question is whether the effect they see in the brain is itself an effect of a change or dysregulation of the fat metabolism in the body and that change could easily occur before noticeable weight gain. Moreover, in the animal models they’re studying, the animals will gain excess fat even if food intake is controlled and so they’re not allowed to increase consumption over that what lean animals would eat. This is the case even in the dietary obesity models they’re discussing. So what they call overconsumption isn’t actually required for the animal to accumulate excess fat. The point I’m making is that the nutrient composition of the diet effects the regulation of the fat tissue directly. That in turn causes excessive accumulation of fat, which in turn will cause secondary and tertiary effects, ad infinitum, in the brain and elsewhere. if these researchers had been aware that there is an alternative hypothesis — wishful thinking on my part — or had they simply been aware that the animal models they’re studying will gain excess fat without increasing intake (obviously expenditure must decrease in this case) then they might and arguably should have interpreted their data in a different manner. One of my goals here is to get the research community to understand that there is an alternative hypothesis that should actually be the null hypothesis — the hypothesis that requires remarkable evidence to reject. The new book is part of that mission. I hope you can find the time and desire to read it. (And I hope Jonah Lehrer does, too.)
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
      Best,
      gt

  6. Anna says:

    This kind of reminds me of how things were when I was growing up.
    Mom: Eat your vegetables.
    Me: Why?
    Mom: Because they’re good for you.
    Me: Ok, why are they good for you.
    Mom: Because they are.
    Me: No really, but why?
    Mom: Look, it’s complicated. Just eat your vegetables because I said so.

    So in other words – they tell us we get fat because we overeat. But just like Mom, when we ask why, they either can’t or won’t say. Just know we’re right, even though we can’t say why.
    Quite frankly, I just wish they’d admit they don’t know and do the equivalent of what my mom eventually did: “You want to know why? Go look it up!” Maybe if they looked harder they’d finally find some reasons why!

  7. Steve Brecher says:

    (Gary — http://www.garytaubes.com/feed/ is not a valid feed URL according to LiveJournal. Please have your “IT Department” look into this.)

  8. Doctorsh says:

    Great to see you blogging!
    You are already on my twitter feed and google reader.

  9. John says:

    I’m not sure how one is supposed to reply to a Gary Taubes blog. It feels like I’m replying to a Mick Jagger or a Brett Favre blog — an all star. If it makes you feel any better, I worship the science, not the man. As a type 1 diabetic, all the revelations you’ve brought up make so much sense. If they didn’t, I’d be saying so.

    As a type 1 diabetic, I’m in a unique position to monitor my own insulin usage, to experiment if you will. In four years I’ve dropped TDD from 120 to 90 to 70 to 50 and, I have gotten into the 30′s when I stay firm. That damn hunger thing gets in the way though. I’m down 25 lbs in three years with a lot more to go. Did a random BP today at the pharmacy — 110/65. Not too bad for a 50yr old 35 year diabetic.

    I agree with almost everything you’ve written, but I still “feel” calories matter. My type 2 friends lose much more faster. I have a very hard time losing, even in ketosis. My lack of amylin production cloudies the water though. My next experiment will be Bernstein’s diabetes solution.

    A number of diabetics around the world, mostly metabolic syndomers, are behind these ideas. Some like the Diabetes Warrior are quite vocal, and some of us use quieter words to influence opinions. I only wish the medical community would listen. My own endo equates ketosis with young girls skipping their insulin. *sigh*

    Good luck with the new book.

    • GT says:

      Hi John,
      Interesting thoughts and nice to see the numbers. As for calories mattering, it gets very complicated, particularly in the context of weight loss. I’ve had long discussions about this with Mike Eades and, time willing, perhaps I’ll post on it someday.
      gt

    • nonegiven says:

      According to Bernstein you need to hold your carb level steady, move your protein level up or down to gain or lose weight, and eat enough fat to not be hungry.

  10. PJ says:

    And what about gut bacteria? It’s shown that this can significantly affect the actual calories ingested. As if any human actually knows precisely how many calories they eat–let alone what their gut bacteria is doing with them — with a ratio of far more than 20 calories a day. PJ

  11. Beverly J says:

    The suspense is killing me.

  12. Madison_mom says:

    Bravo. What could be more delightful than laughing at bad science, and losing 9 pounds while doing so? After I read Good Calories, Bad Calories I actually tried a low-carb diet, hence the weight loss (for the first time in years). So, thank you.

  13. Richard Tamesis, M.D. says:

    The fact is, these so called experts are just lazy thinkers. It’s so much easier for them to parrot what they’ve been taught than to actually question whether what they are saying is true or not. When questioned by skeptics, they just hide behind their credentials and resort to appeals to authority to try to win an argument.

    • JCCarter says:

      Its almost like somebody relying on reading a book to form their opinion on a topic area, then using said book like the holy bible. Lazy thinkers indeed.

      • Anonymous says:

        The nice thing about the GCBC book, though, is that it’s actually got references you can go check out. The problem with experts unwilling to dive into the details is that their argument from authority falls flat when you ask them for real data.

        Some books actually give pointers to real data, though :)

        • Two words: Cherry Picking. We all have cognitive biases that make us focus on studies that support our hypotheses and ignore studies that don’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            Which is Mr. Taubes’ point in GCBC. The nice part about his work is that he actually states the design of the kinds of experiments that could be used to falsify his hypothesis, so still, I’ll give him a bit more credit than some “expert” unwilling to even give a citation to cherry picked data :)

            Frankly, one of the immediate parallels I drew when reading GCBC was that we’ve got the same institutional problem when it comes to the whole global warming swindle -> the people who have been pushing the low-fat dogma have been just as un-scientific as the people pushing the CO2 is going to kill us dogma.

          • Tell you what. Type the following into the search box on PubMed (I would have posted a direct link, but posts of mine containing links are not appearing at the moment):-

            Frayn KN[Author] AND hasabstract[text] AND Humans[Mesh]

            Also, try (read the free full text):-

            Olestra[Title] AND Ingestion[Title] AND Dietary[Title] AND Fat[Title] AND Absorption[Title] AND Humans[Title]

            Happy reading!

          • Anonymous says:

            Came up with dozens of results – which one were you citing? And does it have a range of possible absorption rates, or only the maximum, or only the absorption rate on an empty stomach?

          • The first search string gives 184 human studies with abstracts by Keith Frayn. These are relevant to carb/fat storage & utilisation. I can’t tell you which study to read specifically as so many are relevant.

            The second search string gives 1 study, which has free full text available. Look at Table 4. In the absence of Olestra, fat absorption in humans is 0.991 ± 0.012, or 99.1%.

          • Anonymous says:

            “I can’t tell you which study to read specifically as so many are relevant.” – so any one of the 184 will have listed a range of absorption rates for dietary fat? Not too helpful.

            Checked out the second string, and I’m afraid that it doesn’t quite have the data I’m looking for either -> in the laboratory setup they did, they weren’t trying to test the upper and lower limits of absorption rates in regards to range (that is, they started from an empty stomach in all cases). From the study:

            “Exclusion criteria included a 48-h fecal fat excretion >15 g”

            What that sounds to me like is that there are conditions upon which dietary fat absorption is much less than 95%.

          • The studies by Frayn have nothing to do with dietary fat absorption. I already told you that they are relevant to carb/fat storage & utilisation. Do pay attention.

            RE Dietary fat absorption study: There are conditions that adversely affect dietary fat absorption e.g. Coeliac Disease, which is why people suffering from them were excluded from the study.

            As you are proposing that, in healthy people, dietary fat is poorly absorbed, why don’t you cite some evidence to support that?

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m proposing that, in healthy people, depending on factors such as current stomach contents, current physical activity level, and although I hate using the term “caloric balance”, dietary fat is variably absorbed. While at breakfast (as indicated by the study), it seems to measure at least 95% or better, I would like to see results in other conditions.

            A simple experiment might be this -> keep increasing dietary fat in a given meal and measure the absorption rate. For example, 38g fat, measure. 138g fat, measure. 500g fat, measure. Is there an upper limit on fat absorption that would cause the fat to pass unabsorbed through the gut?

            My challenge to you here is your naive assumption that in every and all cases, 95% of dietary fat placed in the mouth ends up in the bloodstream. I don’t believe you’ve yet shown a citation (and perhaps there are no human experiments of this sort), that would support that naive assumption.

          • See http://www.ajcn.org/content/26/2/197.full.pdf
            “Up to that dose (600g fat a day) the utilization of fat is essentially normal. The absorption coefficient varies between 94 and 98, decreasing temporarily to values below 90 in a number of the subjects (for details of fat utilization under high oral intake, see (9)).”
            I challenge you to show otherwise.

          • Anonymous says:

            I love your cite:

            “It was striking to observe that the weight gain did not correlate with the caloric intake.”

            Did you read the whole thing before citing it?

          • I did. Did you? Maybe you missed “At daily intakes of 300 to 400 g fat and higher, the test subjects reported a marked sensation of heat extending over the entire body and a marked tendency toward sweating,…” Caloric expenditure increased at high intakes of dietary fat.

            Change in body stores = Caloric intake – Caloric expenditure

          • Anonymous says:

            I did read that part, and it was fascinating. You can hardly call that sensation of heat “activity” in the sense of conscious movement or exercise, yet the body was finding a way to dump energy one way or another.

            I think we fall into two problematic tropes very often -> caloric intake == what you put in your mouth, and caloric expenditure == exercise.

          • Fascinating, indeed.
            There are 2 elements to caloric intake.
            Calories eaten/drunk
            Calories excreted in urine, faeces, breath, sweat & other bodily fluids

            There are 4 elements to caloric expenditure.
            BMR/RMR = Basal/Resting Metabolic Rate
            TEF = Thermic Effect of Food
            TEA = Thermic Effect of Exercise
            SPA/NEAT = Spontaneous Physical Activity/Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis = Fidgeting
            Naturally skinny people (e.g. my ex-G/F) burn a surprisingly large number of calories this way. I don’t! In case anyone’s thinking of trying “the corn oil diet”, I would advise against it. See

            http://homepage.ntlworld.com/nigel.kinbrum/Incidence%20of%20cancer%20in%20men%20on%20a%20diet%20high%20in%20polyunsaturated%20fat%20-%20The%20Lancet%20March%206%201971.pdf

            http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7930322&fulltextType=RV&fileId=S0007114510004010

          • REBECCA says:

            That directly contradicts your own assertion, Nigel, that fat intake results in fat storage. By your own citation, the body does NOT store it but metabolizes it off. You pretty much argued – very well – that you were wrong in your original assertion :)

            Excessive fat ingestion in the absence of carbs does not result in excessive fat storage. Pretty much what we all have been saying here :) thanks for citing something that proves it :)

          • Re-examine Figs. 2 and 3. Above 4,000kcals/day intake, weight increases. The body raises its metabolic rate (the heat & sweating) with a large fat intake, but it can’t burn off all the excess fat calories (the subjects would have burst into flames!). So no “proof” after all. :-)

          • Kristy says:

            God, but the two of you back and forth, ad nauseum, is enough to almost – ALMOST – rid myself of this page altogether…However, as I want to a. Inform myself with more than just one source, and b. Help my husband not only lose weight but get healthy, I’ll try my best to simply add this to the tools in the shed to which I regularly go. And to ignore the inane back-and-forth of Who Knows Best. Crap on a cracker, you two are something else!

  14. Glenda says:

    Great post … what I would have expected from you and I’m looking forward to more!

  15. Siddharth says:

    We’ve been waiting a long time for the follow-up book Gary. Thanks for starting this blog!

  16. fitbomb says:

    So great to see that you’ve (finally!) joined the blogosphere. I have you to thank for how I eat; I completely changed my approach to nutrition after reading GCBC — and the results have been great. I’m looking forward to reading your new book and future blog posts!

  17. David Brown says:

    My copy of hasn’t arrived yet so I don’t know if you addressed the metabolic effects of excessive omega-6 intake.

    About a year ago, when I heard Dr. Bill Lands mention that a 28 gram, one ounce serving of peanuts contains 4,000 milligrams of omega-6 [1], I realized that my almost daily peanut-butter-sandwich-for-lunch habit was gradually doing me in. I’ve been researching omega-6 ever since and am somewhat persuaded that both fructose and omega-6 are major contributors to metabolic dis-regulation.

    Not long ago Susan Allport did a one month experiment in which she replaced some of her monounsaturated fat intake with omega-6s [2]. Body weight remained constant but abdominal fat content increased by one half pound. Also, her daily calorie burn at rest dropped from 1367 to 1291.

    As I cast about for information about omega-6, I don’t see a lot of concern about or interest in the problem of excessive omega-6 intake.

    1.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgU3cNppzO0
    2. http://www.cbass.com/Omega6.htm

    • GT says:

      Hi David,
      Still not talking about omega 6s in the new book (for all the reasons we’ve discussed, perhaps ad nauseum).
      gt

      • Anonymous says:

        Could you please write a one-sentence answer to why you’re not talking about omega-6, for us who don’t know?

      • Anonymous says:

        Could you please write a one-sentence answer to why you’re not talking about omega-6, for us who don’t know?

  18. Gayle Jordan says:

    Can’t wait to read the whole book…Kindle version please??
    Loved GCBC…thanks for all the great work!

  19. JayCee says:

    Great post Gary!
    It would also be true to say that different ‘types’ of people would crowd restaurants faster than other ‘types’. If there is any correlation between the (people & calories), and (restarants & adipose tissue), then we have a big problem, because calories are never indicated as types, but rather as amounts of the same apparent-constant-type. Two food types can have the exact same amount of calories, but might behave totally different because of their types. I suggest therefore that the industry should find a brand new terminology to define energy utilization inside the human body by INCLUDING at least the type (what hormones such as insulin does with it, etc.) variable. Calories are simply too poorly measured to be trusted fpr this purpose.

  20. Tom Naughton says:

    Gary, you’re not getting how it works: if my car starts getting lousy mileage and burns more gas per mile, the obvious cause is that I’m putting too much gas in it. Any other explanation would violate the laws of thermodynamics. (I realize you have a degree in physics, but the real experts on thermodynamics are people with a degree in nutrition.)

    Great to see you blogging.

    • Linda says:

      Tom Naughton – Excellent!!! LOL

    • Becky says:

      Tom, come now. It’s not just because you’re putting too much gas in. It’s also because the gas is solid at room temperature.

      Except in France. That gas works just fine over there.

    • Clark Dixon says:

      Let’s not be silly.

      GT’s argument is better stated as too much gas in the car makes you stop putting so much pressure on the pedal. After all, this is just handwaving away the physiological causes and overemphasizing the behavioral consequences (even though the mechanisms don’t change in either instance, but hey, gotta sell something, right?) while ignoring the fact that there’s a causal relationship.

      And obviously complex systems tend to boil down to single causative variables, therefore insulin must be the culprit.

      Oh my.

    • “if my car starts getting lousy mileage and burns more gas per mile, the obvious cause is that I’m putting too much gas in it.”

      I see a CORRELATION between lousy mileage and excessive gas use, but not there is nothing to tell me that putting too much gas in it is the CAUSE of the lousy mileage.

  21. Hans Keer says:

    Hi Gary, since this is going to cost you a lot of time probably, I don’t now whether this new blog is worth a congratulatory message, but I congratulate you anyhow ;-) . I can’t wait receiving your new book. I unravelled GCBC two years ago and learned a lot, it even made me a busy blogger (follow my hyperlink). I’m curious to read what new information you are bringing in “Why We Get Fat”. I heard already about something round the alpha-glycerol-3-phosphate theory. I hope to read your opinion in the book (or on this blog) on neighbouring topics like leaky gut causing foods, fructose, abundances of PUFA, intermittent fasting and post workout food. Good luck with everything.

    • GT says:

      Hi Hans,
      You may not hear anything from me on some of the subjects you suggest, because I don’t feel I know enough to comment — leaky guts, abundances of PUFA, etc. I may someday learn, but as you note, I don’t have all that much time in my life. I am working on a book, though, on sugar and HFCS, so we may get a lot about fructose.
      Best,
      gt

      • Hans Keer says:

        I understand what you’re saying, but I think you made your carbohydrate-restriction message and within that fructose-restriction message quite clear to your audience by now and a lot of disciples and your books are spreading the word.

        Next in line on the list of health devastating culprits are probably leaky gut and PUFA. Your name, fame and detective work is perhaps more needed in this area.

        Just my thoughts. VBR Hans.

        • js290 says:

          Why put a lot of effort into higher order effects like leaky gut and PUFA, when the first order effect is clear? As the earlier reply by Freedman points out, if most people aren’t going to pay attention to the first order effect, why worry about the higher order effects? My guess would be by altering one’s behavior (diet) to control the first order effect, the higher order effects will also be attenuated.

          And, what’s stopping someone else from doing the in depth work on those other effects that Taubes has in GCBC?

        • Warren Dew says:

          Leaky gut and PUFAs aren’t so much an area with a lot of bad science, as an unexplored area with no science.

          Of course, that’s somewhat true of sugar/HFCS as well, at least as differentiated from other carbohydrates.

  22. Asclepius says:

    It is great to see you blogging!

    Whenever I hear the words “multifactorial” with regard to explaining a phenomena (particularly with regard to nutrition and obesity), I always interpret it as “erm….we don’t really know/we’re not sure!”

  23. WereBear says:

    I loved Good Calories, Bad Calories! Such a fascinating read.

    I am one of the few who will be sorry your new book is shorter :) But most people will find it more accessible, which is good.

    Because for years I was in despair over how I could eat that “healthy meal” of salad with lemon juice and a bowl of pasta with low fat sauce… and two hours later I was ripping the cupboard doors off the hinges, I was so hungry.

    To add to the torment, I’d had eating issues earlier in my life; and conquered them. So I knew I wasn’t filling an emotional void or anything like that; I was freakin’ HUNGRY.

    Bad science creates so much cruelty; which is then ironically perpetuated by people with the best of intentions.

  24. Kilton says:

    Awesome post! I’m thrilled that you have a blog now.

  25. CarbSane says:

    Is Keith Frayn among the masses you mock for making a junior high school science mistake? Will you be quoting him from Metabolic Regulation again in your upcoming book?

    • GT says:

      Hi Carbsane,
      I’m so glad to have you join us. I can’t actually speak for Keith Frayne. If he says that obesity is caused by overeating, or positive energy balance, or overnourishment, etc. in Metabolic Regulation then indeed he’s making the mistake. I don’t have time to go to his book and check. If you do, please feel free to let me know.
      All the best,
      gt

      • CarbSane says:

        Thanks for the welcome. Did you read Metabolic Regulation or at least the chapter on obesity? You have described Frayn as an expert on fat metabolism and he is the author of an amazing volume of peer reviewed and textual literature. He is indeed and his works were well worth pursuing past an isolated quotation in your book.

        In GCBC you stated that you “follow the evidence forward in time from the point at which a consensus was reached to the present, to see whether these competing hypotheses were confirmed or refuted by further research.

        When I followed Frayn’s trail the wealth of information I found was mind-boggling. I’ve been posting about it over in my blog (mostly restraining myself from commenting on motive but I’m not perfect in that regard). I would think Frayn would have been one of those whom you may have thought to “follow forward”.

        Here is my post on what Frayn had to say in Metabolic Regulation: GCBC Reference Check ~ Part I of ? ~ Metabolic Adaptability & Energy Balance. Do you not think it is disingenuous to have only included the “dieting is difficult” quotation for this luminary in the field?

        If you didn’t research the later works of someone who is a foremost authority on fat metabolism, how can you teach others? And if you did, and still come to your version of fat metabolism, how can that be? See for example, these two blog posts that compare Frayn’s version of insulin resistance and fat accumulation with yours: Insulin Resistance and Fat accumulation.

        Thoughts?

  26. Jeff Borsato says:

    Great to see the new blog Gary!

    Your book is on order with Amazon, this is important work.

  27. Ken Leebow says:

    Maybe you can explain this equation to all the WW folks:

    pp = max {round(p x (16/175) + c x (19/175) + fa x (9/175) + fi x (2/25), 0}, where pp is ProPoints, p is protein, c is carbohydrate, fa is total fat, and fi is dietary fiber, all in grams.

    It appears complexity sells and simple answers don’t.

    Here’s a cute cartoon about research … http://bit.ly/dGZUjH

    I also recommend reading … Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science … it’s at the URL above.

  28. Amy Alkon says:

    So glad you’ve finally given in and started blogging. Numerous readers of my blog and column have written me to tell me that you’ve changed their lives and given them their health back with “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” It’s especially thrilling to hear from those who’ve struggled to lose weight all their lives, and thanks to your work, have dropped pounds like they were stones falling off a truck. Can’t wait to read your latest.

  29. Matt Stone says:

    Thanks Gary. Very excited that you’ve launched this blog, and your mindset for it is right. I’ve just launched a similar exploratory blog myself – dedicated fully to weight loss controversies. Obesity is an unsolved, not a solved mystery – and it’s shocking that you and Gina Kolata are amongst the only mainstream voices who’ve actually taken the time to really step back and think about it.

    The rest simply say that we know exercising more and eating less is the way to prevent and overcome obesity – and that it’s just a matter of figuring out how to implement that strategy to fix this escalating problem. Trouble is, there isn’t a long-term study on earth showing the effectiveness of that strategy.

    • GT says:

      Hi Matt,
      Well, congratulations on your new blog. Although that’s the first time I’ve seen someone use my name and Gina’s in the same sentence, as though we agreed on anything critical on the subject of why we get fat.
      Best,
      gt

    • Razwell says:

      Exactly, Matt. You hit the nail on the head. Obesity is UNSOLVED. ( not of course if you listen to the scamming fraudulent diet industry) ;)

      The Laws of Thermoynamics do NOT at all explain fat cell behavior and regulation. And on top of that , we do not know enough currently about the behavior and regulation of fat cells. Real physicists , like Stephen Hawking, would say obesity is a BIOLOGICAL problem. ( I bet the diet industry would never ask how the discoveries of Dark Energy and Dark Matter will further our understanding of the First Law of Thermodynamics).

      Gary Taubes is to be praised for challenging a farcical dogma that BADLY needs challenging. That is, the nonsense put out by the
      $ 100 billion dollar scamming diet industry who claims obesity is “all about calories”. That false belief is well disproven by 50 years worth of research.

      Those clueless, Internet gurus need an education. I am very, very happy Gary is getting this out support him and yourself 100 %.

      I know I have said this before but : Please feel free, Gary and Matt to use any information on my blog to refute those diet industry scammers. :) There are many. many references to quality studies that directly refute the farcical “Bank Account ” model of obesity, and detailed discussions.

      Best Wishes,

      Razwell

      • Anonymous says:

        Razwell – tried but couldn’t find your blog. Any help with that?
        Gary – terrific that your posting since science (and sanity) seem lacking in much of the nutritional information out there.

        Cheers,
        Marcai

  30. Jo says:

    I loved GCBC but am glad to see a more accessible book on the way. Will it be called the same in the UK? I was thrown a bit by ‘The Diet Delusion’ when it came out here.

    Also glad to see you starting a blog. This subject is way to important not to spread the word as widely as possible.

    • GT says:

      At the moment, I don’t know what WWGF will be called in the UK. You weren’t the only one thrown off by The Diet Delusion, though.

  31. Peter Silverman says:

    Have your views changed at all since Good Calories, Bad Calories? That would be a topic I would like to see on your blog.

    • GT says:

      Yes, but only on a few issues that turn out not to be critical to the overall argument. With luck, all of those will be discussed in time on the blog, although some are technical and I don’t want to scare away those who might be overwhelmed by technical discussions — or simply uninterested.
      gt

      • JayCee says:

        I would be one of those people who would really be interested in a possible future post on your latest views and ideas regarding the (still important?) role of alpha-glycerol phosphate in regulating fat storage. Even if it’s just a short paragraph – although any amount of info on it would be awesome and much appreciated please :)

        From GCBC it’s really been the one single section and chapter that I have used and quoted in discussions with various people and experts most often. I remember how a lot if things suddenly made sense to me when I read about its role (in conjunction with the importance of insulin of course) the first time.

      • I understand you being careful and not overdoing technical staff, because somehow many readers had trouble getting through GCBC. But I want you to know – there is another part of reading audience which couldn’t have enough of receiving unsimplified explanations.My first language is Russian, I started to learn English at 35, now I am 50.Even I had no problem understanding your book. May be you could just put special symbol(sort of warning) on your answers for people who are interested in scientific explanations? Then both part of your audience will get their share .
        I heard that you could make GCBC twice big, but thought better of it.I am sure you will be able to sell such book (probably, limited edition)to people like me. I am willing even to prepay. Probably, your are too busy right now to even think about such project,but may be in a future it could be a thing to consider for you.

  32. Bill DeWitt says:

    Unless there is a way for the calories consumed to be stored as fat (insulin etc) then extra calories are meaningless. The calorie is a unit of energy and energy is nearly massless – it can’t make you weigh more by itself. Unless you can convert that energy into fat, it must either be used to build something else (hair, muscle, bacteria), it must accomplish work (exercise, cogitation, immunity), or it must be excreted…

    • Alan says:

      i’d be interested to hear of any evidence that the human body can “excrete” excessive calories.

      according to my understanding, homo sapiens evolved to NEVER “throw away” calories. Excess protein and fat will get (inefficiently, but still converted) to glucose, and then stored as fat.

      • Johman says:

        Well, Type 1 diabetics must have found a way to excrete excess calories, as they can eat like crazy and not be able to gain weight in the absence of insulin.

      • Bill DeWitt says:

        Proof is quite simple and evidence is plentiful. Excrement is a fuel in many cultures, human excrement burns nicely once dried. That’s because it has calories left in it. Even without burning you can see the calories, as the bacteria are still consuming them to produce methane etc, plants can use it for metabolic fuel or you can put it in a digester to heat your house.

        It is apparent and obvious that we excrete calories, the question is how many and why.

  33. Karen says:

    Excellent first blog, Mr. Taubes. Unfortunately, there is mega big money in keeping people fat & sick. As Tom Naughton appropriately (and humorously) noted in “Fat Head”: “Follow The Money”.

  34. Janet says:

    Thanks, Gary. I’m looking forward to your new book. I followed the instructions of my doc, the USDA pyramid, AMA/AHA, etc. with little success. And I endured the usual suspicion that I was being dishonest about my low cal/low fat food intake. Changing to low carb and a higher fat intake has finally gotten rid of the weight — and without debilitating hunger.

  35. Great first post, Gary! I particularly appreciate the part about how “overeating” 20 calories a day will make you obese, if you are obeying the laws of thermodynamics.

    This post will be making the rounds of all of my “Calories In Calories Out” friends!

  36. Wonderful. Just classic. I especially like the calculation that it takes just 19 extra calories per day to gain 40 pounds over 20 years time.

    You’re going straight onto the blog roll.

  37. Richard Tamesis, M.D. says:

    Will your books be available as ebooks on Apple’s iBookstore too?

    • GT says:

      Hi Richard,
      At the moment, I don’t believe my publisher has agreed to a deal with Apple. I’m hoping they will, but last I heard, they hadn’t. (Although that was a few months ago.)
      gt

  38. labrat says:

    I’m not entirely sure your being fair to the author of that article. Isn’t he at least trying to get at the why? To use your restaurant analogy, isn’t he saying that maybe there are more people in the restaurant because the establishment was pleased to have people enter and didn’t bar them and leave them on the street?
    That same restaurant was also not too pleased to let non-paying (fake sugar) customers in?

    • GT says:

      I don’t want to be unfair to Jonah, whose work I respect immensely, but in this case he presented an ideal opportunity and I took it. As for your statement that maybe the establishment was pleased to have people enter, well that’s another possible explanation, but again it speaks to the conditions inside the establishment, not the conditions set up by another organ, perhaps a state away. Another way to think of this is imagine our restaurant is in Manhattan. There will always be enough people on the streets when the restaurant is open, and enough people living in the neighborhood, to pack the restaurant. Do we really care how many people are entering and exiting the bridges and tunnels leading into the city at any one time. And, indeed, there will always be enough people doing that to keep Manhattan itself packed. There may be more between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and having lived in NYC for decades, I can vouch for that) and that could, indeed, provide a little more rationale for the restaurant to be packed that time of year, but there is always enough people to pack it and whether it is packed or not will be determined almost exclusively by factors having to do with the restaurant itself and the local neighborhood, not the influx and efflux through bridges and tunnels.
      Best,
      gt

  39. TriSSSe says:

    Thanks for writing this post. Actually it was precisely this topic that made GCBC such an outstanding book for me. Soon after I read the corresponding chapter (twice) i added the following to the German Wikipedia article about the logical fallacy “cum hoc ergo propter hoc“:

    ——————
    The logical fallacy “cum hoc ergo propter hoc” sometimes even occurs with reference to a [physical] law that by itself can only postulate the coincidence of two events. An example for this would be the relationship between obesity and overeating which is given by the first law of thermodynamics as

    differences in energy storage = energy in – energy out.

    This equation which contains absolutely no information about cause and effect is often cited as proof that overeating (right hand side of the equation greater than zero) causes obesity (left hand side greater than zero). The logical error then does not lie in the resulting statement itself but in the deduction from the equation. The first law of thermodynamics only postulates that for a person overeating and weight gain always occur together (by definition). This can mean that someone gains weight because he overeats or that someone overeats because he gains weight. None of the latter statements can be deduces logically from the first law of thermodynamics.
    ——————–

    I hope I translated that so it makes sense. I wish you all the best for you new book!

  40. Marilyn says:

    Wonderful to see you online Gary. I bought 3 copies of your last book; one to keep, one to mark up and one to lend to medical practitioners. Only the last one doesn’t get much use…sigh. I have preordered the new one too. Thank you so much for your dedication to truth and logic

  41. Kristine says:

    I can’t wait to read the new book. Perfect timing on the release. I hope it receives a ton of publicity. Maybe it will spare many people in the crop of 2011 New Years dieters from white-knuckling it through yet another misguided deprivation diet.

  42. Mark S says:

    Thanks for your post Gary!
    I want to encourage you to keep spreading your message because obesity is really becoming a problem not just in the USA but in so many other nations as well. For the last 4 years I have lived and worked in Brazil and because in Brazil there is such a sharp class division between rich and poor one can truly observe the effect of a diet very high in carbohydrates (as is common among the poor here) diet of white rice, beans, white bread, pasta and soda as compared to a diet centered around meat, salads, and brand name sparkling water(as is common among the rich). Just from my own observations Brazilian women from the upper class tend to remain slender and healthy into their 50s and 60s, while at the same time I’ve observed that a great many of the women from the lower-class are overweight or obese beginning in their late 20s. This is in spite of the fact that many of these women have no cars so they must walk everywhere, including up and down steep hills where many of the poorer neighborhoods have been built, and the women are most often employed as domestic cleaners and spend many hours scrubbing floors and cleaning.

    Well, that’s my 2 cents worth! Please keep the posts coming because I really enjoy your writing.

  43. Nadyne says:

    Your RSS feed isn’t working.

  44. Congratulations, my friend, on establishing what will no doubt prove to be one of the most interesting, intelligent and provocative obesity-related blogs around. But let me throw in my two cents. You or I or anyone else can argue with any level of logic and articulateness, backed up with any amount of observation and analysis, that cutting out carbs (or fats, or any major food group) will reliably promote healthy weight loss, and it won’t make a big dent in the obesity crisis because only a tiny minority of people will embrace and hew to that sort of drastic change over the long term. For whatever reasons, most people seem unwilling or unable to cut out carbs. Congratulations to those of you who have made this leap and stuck to it, and benefited from it. Now how about the other 99.99% of society carrying dangerous level of excess fat? If we’re to care about most people, we need to pay much less attention to the sorts of interventions that promote healthful weight loss in theory or research studies (not that studies are anywhere near being consistent and clear on what works in this regard), and start paying much more attention to interventions that most people will be drawn to and will actually find they can live with long term. Cutting out carbs isn’t it. You can respond: Well, too bad then, because nothing else will work. And it’s true, no other one thing is likely to work. But there’s plenty of reason to believe that tackling this problem on many, many fronts and on many scales absolutely has a good chance over time of changing the public’s behavior to the point where they are taking in (at least slightly) fewer calories of all types and exercising (at least a bit) more. And if you insist on believing that only a reduction in carbs will count, fine (though I don’t buy that, and to be honest I have always been and remain appalled by the claim that exercise doesn’t matter), because carb intake would indeed be reduced as part of a behavioral-change plan, if far more modestly than might be advocated by you and most people who read this blog. To advocates of a nearly-no-carb diet that plan might seem inefficient and doomed to produce less impressive fat-reduction results, but it has the considerable virtue of being workable for most people and on a large scale, and I don’t believe yours comes close. I do happen to think there are other arguments to be made against the nearly-no-carb approach, but I don’t really see the point in making them, because the fact that most people just won’t do it, especially over the long term, ought to be regarded as a show-stopper, at least to anyone looking at the big picture.

    • GT says:

      Hi Dave,
      Now didn’t we send you a copy of the book? I thought we did. Because if we did, and you read it, you’d know that the fundamental argument I’m making is that the carbohydrates make us fat (i.e., cause obesity) and that some carb-containing foods are, of course, more fattening than others. So if carbohdyrates cause obesity, then all these other interventions aren’t going to do a damn thing (as they haven’t) unless they get rid of or at least cut way back on the causative agent. You wouldn’t try to reduce lung cancer rates in this country by getting people to cut back on calories or exercise more, because you know that it’s smoking tobacco that’s the problem. The same argument holds here. And you wouldn’t give up on trying to get people to quit smoking, just because the number of proportion of smokers who succeed (at any one attempt) is so small. Moreover, this 99 percent number is based on trials in which the underlying assumption is that people get fat for any number of reasons, but here’s a diet that might help them lose weight because it reduces calories. if people knew that carbohydrates make them fat (assuming, of course, that I’m right) and the only thing they could do about it is get rid of the carbs, the success rate might go up significantly. Moreover, we’re interested in preventing weight gain and obesity, not just reversing it, and there, too, the only chance of success is to get the cause correct. Right now, we have the wrong cause and you’re still working in the wrong paradigm
      All that said, if you haven’t gotten the book, e-mail me and I’ll have a copy sent. If you have, why did you miss the point so dramatically? Did I not make it clear enough? Sigh.
      Best,
      gt

    • js290 says:

      http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1007137

      “In this large European study, a modest increase in protein content and a modest reduction in the glycemic index led to an improvement in study completion and maintenance of weight loss.”

    • John Myers says:

      I don’t think there’s anything drastic about cutting out processed food. That’s what bread is. Maybe step one in getting this mess straightened out is to fix the food pyramid. Maybe turn it upside down?

      • REBECCA says:

        I agree, I’m confused with the assertion that removing processed carbs is difficult. It can be a bit tricky when eating out to adhere but I find that it not very difficult. I suspect those who find it very difficult are likely “addicted” to some degree (can you imagine someone who is well nourished not being able to resist bread or cookies?).

        I agree with a comment above, it is akin to saying “folks don’t adhere to giving up smoking” and then declaring it unfeasible to advise that.

        We have a hypothesis that explains why we gain weight – one that fits all the data, unlike any of the other current hypotheses – and yet there are those who get extremely riled and upset about it. I guess that confuses me …

        • Warren Dew says:

          Eating out socially with friends is likely the biggest problem new people have with low carb – it’s hard to stay low carb and participate at a pizza party. Getting low carb to be a mainstream view would help a lot, exactly because restaurants would start adjusting their menus. Maybe instead of automatically getting bread with your steak, you’d get a steak with the fat left on it, or broiled mushrooms or fried onions as sides.

    • did u read it, david? says:

      Gosh, David, you apparently haven’t tried this approach on many obesity patients. Since reading Gary’s book about a year ago I’ve been spreading the word to all my patients, with tremendous success and results (had been spreading the eat low fat, exercise more junk for the previous 8 years with no success!!). It’s really not that hard, and it’s not a no carb approach (I’m with Gary, I don’t think you really have read any of his stuff). I follow it myself, and in fact enjoy eating more than ever before!

      And as Gary states, why on earth would you not treat a condition by not treating the fundamental problem??

    • Galina L. says:

      Why do you think that seriously cutting carbs is not realistic? Population seriously cut out drinking and smoking, compare with 70.

      There isa growing number of people adopting low-carbs diets, even though most of population believes that it is a dangerous extremist life style. If popular perception got changed, that number would increase.

      Why not to be honest about at least very limited effect of exercise on a weight loss? Such message would kindly safe a lot of obese participants of hard-core aerobic classes from unnecessary sport injuries. Exercise does matter enormously for health and appearance, but weight loss depends on a diet regardless of you buying it or not.

      Buy now the most promising treatment for increasing longevity is the calorie restriction. The last research on monkeys left very little doubts about it ,except for the little detail – hungry youth-looking monkeys were very cranky and unhappy and had to be held in individual cage (so I heard).You can’t indefinitely stay hungry without benefits of anorexia or being caged, so the only way to restrict calories is cutting out carbs.

    • Cassie says:

      Myself and my husband, my sister and her husband have been low carb, me 8 months and the rest about 5- 6 months. We all enjoy our food immensely. It is not a hard diet to follow at all. What’s all the fuss about? I don’t miss sugar, I don’t eat any substitutes and my cravings are all but gone.

      • Well, apparently America has completely solved its obesity problem while I wasn’t looking. Because to read these replies to my comment, and indeed to read almost everything on this blog, it’s perfectly clear that people who are overweight have no trouble whatsoever saying goodbye to carbs for 5, 10 or 50 years of their lives. Or, well, why don’t you all tell me–what do you think the ratio is of people who have tried extremely-low-carb diets and stayed on them for many years to people who have tried extremely-low-carb diets and didn’t last much more than a year? Has this diet been a well-kept secret, perhaps, so that you folks are the only ones who have tried it and realized how easy it is to stick with? Or, gee, here’s a thought, as shocking as this may sound–you folks might not be typical! Hmmm? Of course, here on this blog and on other ultra-low-carb websites you’re the great majority, so you can all feel like you’re the keepers of the universal truth. But come on, look around, read up on how other people on non-I-luv-lo-carb-websites find the experience of cutting out all carbs. The doctor (I guess he’s a doctor, he says he has patients) just below finds that all his overweight patients do great on this diet. Has he talked to other doctors, and read widely in the literature of obesity with regard to how well people adhere long-term on ultra-low-carb diets? Because his experience with his patients simply doesn’t track those of most other clinicians and researchers. You see it over and over and over again: You lose weight, you love the low-carb life, and then at some point you cave in, you go back to carbs, and you gain it all back and more. The assertion that I just haven’t read enough of the book to get it suggests some serious confusion in this community. Folks, think about it for a second–my getting it or not getting it doesn’t have a hell of big impact on the universe. If people by and large aren’t sticking with low-carb diets, it doesn’t make any difference how right the theory is–it just won’t solve the obesity problem. The question then becomes, OK, if that doesn’t work, then what will? If your answer is: Nothing! Nothing works but ultra-low-carbs! then you’re giving up on the problem, and you’re ignoring a great deal of evidence that there are non-ultra-low-carb ways of permanently losing weight. Your getting it and my not getting it doesn’t change any of these facts. And by the way, I read the book. (I read the first one, too, in its entirety.) I get it. It probably works if you stay off carbs your whole life. Neat! Now let’s figure out how to solve the obesity crisis. Who’s with me? OK, probably none of you. But you’re not the public, you’re a tiny piece of it. Again, congratulations on your success. Too bad it doesn’t translate to the vast majority of other would-be weight losers.

        • Anonymous says:

          May be the people who has to go extremely low-carb or to gain weight are too insulin resistant and have to watch their diet vigorously. At least their choice is not between being fat or to being extremely hungry all the time. Choice between being fat or going without sugars and starches is more easy to make, it is easier to fight temptation of fresh bread or chocolate, then tolerate hunger .

          To ease the obesity crisis is possible by raising awareness of dangers of abnormal sugar levels and insulin levels. Today norms are too wide. If people get worn when their fasting BS sugar is more then 90, then less people will get too carb sensitive. Just imagine that all diabetics stopped to be advised to consume “good carbs”.More of them will be able to reverse their diabetes 2.

          To tell you the truth, I don’t believe that such problem as mass obesity could be solved quickly, but if more realistic treatment became more popular, the tendency for the obesity rate to raise may became less prominent. If we have to do something, why not do it it a way that work?

        • Anonymous says:

          Why are you so angry? Maybe low carb is not a permanent diet for all time. What diet is? I’ve been on and off it since being diagnosed type 2 over a decade ago and following Richard Berstein’s Diabetes Solution. I’ve been a lifelong sugar addict from a family of high carb/high alcohol consumers. At least this diet allows me to control my blood sugar unless I fall off the wagon. And it works. And I know it does so when I climb back on the wagon and the scale, it comes off readily. Maybe I am just like an alcoholic with a blood sugar genetic defect — but it’s the only way to control the results. Even Dr. Michael Eades admits to going face down in the carbs on occasion. But he doesn’t stay there. Would you hate alcoholics for staying on a proven program to control alcoholism? How can you argue with the science presented by Gary Taubes?

          • David Isaak says:

            I have to say I didn’t read his reaction as particularly angry. A little defensive, yes, but that’s to be expected when everyone is assualting you!

        • David Isaak says:

          You make a good point about adherence.

          On the other hand, I think that a great many people would be able to maintain a low-carb lifestyle over the long term if the entire medical establishment didn’t spend such immense resources warning that eating fat would kill you. Many people are simply frightened away from trying it.

          And, as far as what works and what doesn’t, the Ornish approach also seems to work–but has adherence rates that make low-carb look like an overnight success.

          Chris Gardner’s research at Stanford makes it clear that adherence to any sort of dietary regime is pretty dismal, but low-carb seems to do better. And Gardner, like me, is a decades-long vegetarian, so neither of us are particularly pleased by what appear to be the facts!

      • MonkeyMan says:

         I have been eating a low carb diet for a few weeks and have enjoyed it. I feel so much better and have started to lose weight. I am not going to be strict and never have processed foods or completely avoid carbs, I have decided it is going to be an exception instead of the norm. Overall I agree that it isn’t a hard diet to follow and that after about a week my cravings for processed carbs all but vanished.

    • Fraz Ismat says:

      Actually, I think that society is slowly opening up to an acceptance of a “lower carb” way of living.

      It was not that long ago that medical professionals considered such a diet dangerous. Now, it is a reasonable option for a limited period of time, for a select population. Sometime in the future, it may even become a norm.

      The “fad” nature of some low-carb approaches (I’m looking at you, Adkins!) has soured many people. This is going away, though, and a slow accumulation of evidence and experience will (over the long term) win the day.

    • Miriam says:

      A bit late to the party here, but in case anyone else is reading old posts and comments, I’ll reply to David Freedman.

      In the first place, if there’s something that works and everything else doesn’t, there’s no question what you tell a suffering person. The doctor doesn’t tell the cancer patient: “we know chemo is the only thing that will work, but we know you won’t like it so we’ve got lots of other ideas to try that don’t.” That would be insane. GT’s book indirectly brings up question: “Why is stuffing one’s face supposedly the most powerful motivation in the world?” It would have to be, if what you say is true and people won’t stick to low carb. It would have to be if the conventional wisdom is true, and it’s all calories in, calories out. That would mean that to a larger and larger majority of American, getting to shove pizza slices down their own throats is more important to them than sex, than the good opinion of others, than avoiding humiliation, than making more money, than health, than setting a good example for their children and even life itself. That’s impossible. People DO want to lose weight.

      The problem is not that low-carb is impossible to follow. There are a lot of factors at work.

      For one thing, you have simple ignorance. The low carb, high fat diet goes against everything that doctors, family members, media and scientists (with obvious exceptions) tell a person. So that’s a huge chunk of the 99.99% you mention, who haven’t ever been presented with low carb as a viable option.

      Then, you have those who have tried low carb, but who have mistakenly combined it with low fat, against probably as their doctor/nutritionist/friend/Starlet convinced them to do. That IS impossible. You don’t have to be “not typical,” as you put it, to give up pizza when you can have steak, cheese and bacon. But when you can’t have pizza, or steak, or cheese, or bacon and the only thing offered to you in substitute is a carrot stick, no one but a freak can keep to to this diet for long.

      Then you have people who tried low carb and turned back, but NOT because the diet was too hard to follow. I know a number of people who started low carb, lost weight and felt great, but gradually caved: not because they couldn’t stay away from carbs, but because they were overwhelmed by the pressure of everyone in their lives and on the internet and on the tv telling them that what they were doing was stupid, dangerous, etc. They weigh more again, and they try to watch their carbs, but they just can’t get away from the idea that fruit and lots of whole grains are absolutely essential to their diet. They caved, but it had nothing to do with low carb being hard to follow.

      Then you have those who advocate extreme low carb dieting, such as the induction phase of Atkins, which everyone admits is nearly impossible to maintain long-term. But that is not what GT has advocated; and many people who start (or reach) the “higher” phases of Atkins which do allow limited amounts of more fruit, some limited grains, more starchy vegetables, etc have no trouble at all keeping to it. That’s exactly what my roommate and I have done. Neither of us is ridiculously lazy or lacking in self-control, but neither are we unusually stoic or self-controlled. We were convinced by GT’s sound logic and scientific proof, and because food isn’t the most important thing in our lives (as it isn’t in most people’s) we’ve had no problem at all keeping to what would be about a phase 2-3 of Atkins. We rejected the earlier phases as not financially or time practical for us at this time, but we’ve still lost plenty of weight and improved our health dramatically. Making sure that people know that low carb doesn’t mean you can never have a little homemade popcorn (with plenty of butter and salt!) or an apple is important in this equation.

      Finally, there are those who simply cannot afford to do low carb. Eating that was has been a financial burden for me. Meat, cheese and green vegetables are more expensive than flour and potatoes and their related products. Thankfully, though we’ve had to cut back in some other areas to be able to do this, we CAN do it. Many cannot.

      Those are just a few possible other reasons for what you’ve stated, in addition to your idea that somehow all of us who have had success with low carb are not typical and that it will not work for other people, even if it’s the only thing that works…

  45. Frank Hagan says:

    Bravo, Gary! I loved GCBC, but it is a bit more in depth than many of my friends and family want for an introduction into the subject. I’m eagerly awaiting your new book. I suspect it will be on the gift list for several people I know!

  46. Jimmy Moore says:

    Hey Gary,

    Welcome to the wonderful world of open blogging where you can say the sky is blue and you’ll have people challenging you on that premise. It’s a wild, wild ride on the Internet, but I know a LOT of my readers have been anxiously awaiting this for a long time. OUTSTANDING introduction and I look forward to hearing more.

  47. Hana Rous says:

    The “experts” don’t care whether their science is good or not. Their answer to obesity is simple
    LAZY,GLUTTONOUS PATIENTS. Plus if they fail to lose on low fat/low calorie diets. They are obviously non-compliant too.
    If they do read “Good Calories,Bad Calories” and lose on low carb diets, they will obviously be harmimg themselves in some way that the Health Care industry refuses to elucidate.
    It’s all down to “black swans”

  48. Martha says:

    What?! You have a blog?! Score!

    I preordered your new book months ago and processed it to ship back home. It will be like an early Christmas when I’m home the Amazon package comes. :)

  49. Martha says:

    Oops. That’s another preorder that will be early Christmas. Yours will prolong the Joy!

  50. Roberto says:

    I can’t wait until you try to argue that carbohydrates are the cause of obesity, on this blog. You are going to be inundated with evidence to the contrary.

    Imagine yourself as a fish in a barrel.

    • Exactly Roberto! After all, its not like he’s written a book on the subject with a gazillion references, read mountains of research, and gone head to head with many “eminent” critics before! What an amateur!.. Oh wait…

  51. Martha says:

    I don’t think the restaurant example (or obesity) qualifies as a vacuous truth. It would have to be that there are no overcrowded restaurants (or that there are no obese or overweight people) for it to be a vacuous truth.

  52. Martin says:

    Congratulations on your blog, i immediatly added it to my favorites.
    Excellent argument. So many of the ‘experts’make the same point as you discuss. They don’t seem to realise that while ‘calories in, calories out’ is true, how relevent is that obvious statement to the problem of obesity? What is even more amazing to me is that many of these ‘experts’ are quite logical and intelligent in other matters that they discuss. I follow some of their blogs and benefit from much of what they say.
    My first question is, how come so many people of proven intelligence, knowledge and judgement can still hold such irrelevent and illogical views?
    Secondly, on a very low carb diet, does a 150 lb person require about 200-300 gms of protein per day to fulfil a need for about 100-200 gms of glucose for the brain and about the same to prevent muscle loss or to allow for some muscle gain?
    Thirdly, why, even on lo carb do i get so insanely hungry late at night?

    Thanks for your blog and your attention

    martin

  53. Charles says:

    Great blog. I now need to shut mine down now that you are up and running! Well done!

    • Alexandra says:

      Now, don’t do anything hasty like that…besides, I think you and Gary have differing opinions when it comes to low carb vs. no carb, no?

  54. Elenor says:

    Congrats Gary on your blog. I applaud you for taking on the work, because oh! It is so necessary! I’ve read GCBC twice (yes, all the way through, except the refs) and it has had a huge effect on my understanding and motivation. I look forward to your new book, long since pre-ordered. You’re one of my very few heros!

  55. Mike says:

    Great post — would have liked a share link to Facebook to spread the word.

    Cheers

  56. Donald Kjellberg, RN says:

    This looks like the start of a wonderful blogging journey. Six months ago I picked up your book, GCBC, and could not put it down for three weeks. I have to tell you, at that juncture in my life critically examining your findings was not an easy task. I became fascinated with your analysis of the science and began applying the information.

    So far I have lost 105 pounds, have more energy, improved my cardiovascular health dramatically, and have returned to college in pursuit an advanced degree in hopes of advancing this sustainable philosophy into professional application.

    You have triggered a profound shift in me and I cannot thank you enough for the immeasurable impact this has on my family and those around me.

    Thank you Gary for your relentlessness and tenacity in this grand endeavor.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congratulations! Your experience can have a greater impact because we trust nurses and doctors. I am happy for you and the people you will help by your example of open-mindedness, and resulting success.

    • Anonymous says:

      “…in hopes of advancing this sustainable philosophy into professional application.”

      I’ve lost 40 pounds, have more energy, and my heart disease risk factors have improved. In six months my brother-in-law lost 45 pounds, and was able to discontinue his diabetes and blood pressure meds, and the prednisone he was taking for RA.  I wish I could afford to make a full time profession of sharing this with others. Obesity and other chronic diseases cause so much misery for so many people, and for many of them the solution is so simple.

      Ken Richards, RN

  57. Ellen says:

    Fabulous that you’ve put up a tent in blogland. Very nice post, and I’m looking forward to the next.

  58. Lisa Maree says:

    It’s so good to see this blog up Gary! I’ve been waiting expectantly.

  59. Be says:

    Gary – great to see you in the blog-sphere. You are gonna be popular. And I love your analogy. I just finished Eric Oliver’s Fat Politics and since I learned about your new book (half way through Fat Politics) I have been very excited to read it (already pre-ordered) as I know you will flesh out many of what I saw as limited and shallow explanations in Oliver’s book about this very important subject. Keep writing – we will keep reading!

  60. Proton Soup says:

    one obvious piece that you’re leaving out Gary is that maintenance calories go up as we get fatter. it’s not just an extra 20 calories a day that adds to our girth. once we start putting on the pounds, it may raise our maintenance by an extra 100, 300, 500, or 1000 calories a day. so, we don’t just overeat to get fat, we overeat to stay fat. the fat guy who eats just enough to maintain his current weight is still overeating. but if he lowers his caloric intake to that necessary to maintain a lower weight from a previous time in his life, he will burn some fat to make up the difference and his weight will decrease until equilibrium is reached again.

    • GT says:

      Proton Soup,
      If a fat man is eating to maintain his weight he is in energy balance and so not, by definition, overeating. It gets into tricky territory with these calculations. I carefully say that a person has to put 20 calories a day into his fat tissue, because that ignores the fact that every day that he does his baseline energy expenditure is going up and so his intake will as well.
      gt

      • Harry Mavros says:

        Gary, this is a fudged response, from a logical perspective…”I carefully say that a person has to put 20 calories a day into his fat tissue, because that ignores the fact that every day that he does his baseline energy expenditure is going up and so his intake will as well”

        As Proton Soup points out, your (mis)characterisation of how small energy surpluses ought to lead to large gains in body mass over time is fundamentally flawed. In short, you are simply ignoring the most relevant fact; namely,
        any gain in body mass will result in a higher level of required energy to sustain that mass. A 20 calorie/day increase in the diet would therefore only lead to a small gain in mass, followed immediately by weight equilibrium in perpetuity (asssuming no additional energy surpluses). In order to increase mass to the point of obesity, hundreds (if not thousands) of calories/day above initial calorie levels are required.

        As to your re-casting of the question ‘why do we get fat’ (and the associated charge of vacuousness in relation to the response ‘because we eat too much’) let me pose a symmetrical question to you:

        Why do we eat too many carbohydrates?

        (please note that any account based on “carbohydrates dis-regulating fat accumulation” is logically no better off than the ‘vacuous’ explanation given by the “obesogenic environment” account of energy surplus…both accounts initially rely on environmental factors leading to weight gain, leading to pathology, leading to further weight gain).

        Cheers
        Harry

        • Marc says:

          “any gain in body mass will result in a higher level of required energy to sustain that mass”

          This is only true if the same levels of activity are maintained or if the mass added itself requires energy expenditure to be maintained. So, if someone adds fat mass and begins taking the elevator rather than the stairs the above statement goes out the window.

        • Alex says:

          Most recent research has shown that the amount of extra daily calories required to support extra tissue (either muscle, being more ‘energy-expensive’, or fat, being less so) is actually far lower than originally thought. One pound of extra muscle tissue will only require an extra 6kcals or so per day to maintain it while a pound of fat tissue only requires about half that.

          So, taking Gary’s original example, someone who gains 40lbs of body fat over 20 years will have eaten an extra 20kcals per day, on average, to gain each pound of fat mass and each pound of fat mass gained will have required an extra 3 kcals per day or so to maintain. At the end of twenty years (and 40lbs heavier) our hypothetical subject will now be eating an additional 120 kcals per day to maintain that extra body fat compared to his maintenance calories 20 years prior – still not an awful lot!

          Of course, you have to factor in that a greater total body mass makes everyday physical activities more strenuous and therefore requires a greater energy output to perform but often, depending on the type and intensity of the activity, this is quite modest. For instance, someone weighing 160lbs walking at three miles per hour may expend 128 kcals per 30 minutes, while someone 40lbs heavier would expend 160kcals doing the same activity over the same duration – an increase of 42 kcals in total or an average of just over 1kcal for every extra pound of bodyweight! When you consider, also as Gary pointed out, that people tend to limit physical exertion as they get fatter (rather than always the other way around, as is implied by the mainstream observation that people get fat because they eat too much and move too little) then even this modest increase in caloric expenditure may be even more reduced.

          • dlm says:

            You (or at least I) don’t get fat because I eat calories. I get fat if I eat the wrong calories — starch or sugar.

        • James D. says:

          “Why do we eat too many carbohydrates?”

          Because they’re tasty.
          Because they’re a quick source of energy.
          Because they’re in the most convenient foods.

          was that supposed to be a difficult question?

          • Anonymous says:

            Don’t forget, “because they’re cheap to consumers and profitable to producers.” There’s a lot of vested interest in keeping the population eating carbohydrates.

            Also don’t forget, “because they make you hungry for more by shunting energy out of the bloodstream” -> there’s a reason why you can’t eat just one Dorito.

          • REBECCA says:

            How about also “because they are slipped into so many foods” (look at any soup / packaged food / cold cut / freezer product / packaged pizza … compare the same food a decade ago. WAY more corn starch, sugar, high fructose corn syrop .. Foods contain more vacuous processed simple carb than they did in the past, by a lot .. Very hard to avoid them unless you cook entirely from scratch.

          • David Isaak says:

            Indeed. In IHOP omlettes, they even mix pancake batter into the eggs!

        • James says:

          We eat too many carbohydrates because our diets are drastically different than the diet our species evolved with. And the fundamental difference between the diet our human ancestors ate for over 2 million years and the diet we eat now is the amount of carbohydrates we ingest, thanks to modern agriculture. This is why our ancestors were not obese, and why primitive hunter gatherer societies aren’t obese either (even ones with great food surpluses). Obesity only develops in these societies when they adopt a carb laden western diet.

          So really the “carbohydrate dis-regulating fat accumulation” account is logically a heck of a lot better ;)

      • If a fat man is overeating to maintain his excessive weight (which burns more calories per day than when he’s not an excessive weight), he is by definition overeating.

        I hope that your new book tackles the many and varied reasons why people overeat and doesn’t just blame it on dietary carbohydrates. I have listed some reasons in my post Determinants of the Variability in Human Body-fat Percentage. Perhaps you could comment on it?

        Cheers, Nige.

        • js290 says:

          I think some of you are conflating two issues: gaining weight and overeating. Gaining weight (whether by increase in fat or muscle) is a physiological adaptation that can be objectively measured. Overeating seems to be a psychological response that can be subjective. Is Michael Phelps’ consumption of 10,000 calories/day overeating? Who gets to decide how many calories we should be consuming?

          • Weight, Fat mass, Muscle mass, Calories eaten & Calories burned are all measurable entities. Appetite is what’s subjective. On average, low-GL, high-protein diets sate appetite better than high-GL, low-protein diets. I’m not disputing that.

            However, calories still count (even if trying to count them is a waste of time for a lot of people).

            Michael Phelps was overeating but he was also overexercising, so he didn’t get fat. How many calories you should be consuming is up to you. If you’re as active as Michael Phelps when training, a lot. If you’re a couch potato, not a lot.

          • David Isaak says:

            “Michael Phelps was overeating but he was also overexercising…”

            Oh, really? “By definition,” I suppose?

          • Oh, whoop-di-doo! Another pointless internet argument. I’ve been through this once already with jon.

          • Alison says:

            Yes, but, what about the fact that not all calories are equal.

            A fat person gets fat because they are eating the wrong type of calories.

            So much emphasis is placed on calories when in reality what the body really needs is nutrition – and hunger will not switch off until the body gets the nutrition it needs.

            That is one reason why people crave carbohydrates. The body craves nutrition. We give it carbs. Carbs are mostly calories but usually low in nutrition. So the body keeps storing the carbs and begging for nutrition.

            I find that the more nutritious my food is, the less I need. As long as I get enough nutrition, the calories will follow. There is way too much emphasis on calories, and not enough on nutrition, and as a result we are suffering the paradox of being overfed, yet very undernourished.

            Throw the rapidly growing malnutrition into the mix of those who have severe gut damage due to gluten and highly processed foods (true estimates of gluten intolerance put the figure as 1:3 on the Western Diet) and we have a degenerative decline in overall health with each successive generation.

            Maybe weight issues are just the tip of the iceberg….

        • James D. says:

          overexercising? so he shouldve exercised less?

          • You’re talking as if overexercising is always bad.
            For an anorectic eating 800kcals/day, it’s bad.
            For Michael Phelps eating 12,000kcals/day and training for the Olympic Games, it’s good.

          • James D. says:

            youve missed the point. the prefix, over, has the connotation of something being in excess, to the point of detriment. phelps is not exercising too much, he is not over-exercising.

          • The prefix “over” means “to excess”, not “in excess to the point of detriment”.
            What prefix would you use in front of the words “eating” & “exercising” to signify an excess?

          • James says:

            Yes, Nigel, in your example you’re stating that Michael Phelps is overexercising, meaning he is exercising “in excess”, meaning you’re saying he is exercising too much. This is a value judgment. Hello?! Anybody home, Nigel?

          • I’m using the meaning “In excess of what an average person exercises”. This doesn’t necessarily mean “too much”.
            You still haven’t suggested a better prefix for “In excess of what an average person exercises”. Anybody home, James?

          • James D. says:

            i am not the same person as “James” (without a D.), just so you know. i would not qualify that as an excess at all–since, in your example, it offers balance for his diet. excess means too much. since this is all relating to obesity, too much would be something leading to obesity. phelps isnt obese, so he is not eating too much, as hes eating just enough to maintain a healthy weight. he isnt overeating or overexercising.

          • O.K. Consider an anorectic eating 800kcals/day and maintaining a very low weight. Because the anorectic is a constant weight, would you say that he/she is not undereating? I would say that he/she is undereating.

            Can you suggest a prefix that means “More than what an average person does” & “Less than what an average person does” that we can all agree on? I thought that “over” & “under” were fine, but apparently, they are value judgements.

          • James D. says:

            not with respect to the weight he/she is trying to maintain–with respect to what is considered healthy, yes, but i cant project my ideals onto others; theyre their own person.

            i cant think of a suitable prefix off the top of my head, but if i were trying to express what you are, i would just write it all out. e.g., “eats more than most,” etc. this is more accurate. by avoiding value judgments, that which isnt necessarily fact is no longer taken for granted. this is a good thing.

          • I’ll run with “eating/exercising more than most/average”. So Phelps was eating & exercising more than most/average and the anorectic was eating less than most/average.

            So, in the title, does Taubes mean “The Inanity of eating more than most/average” or “The Inanity of eating to excess to the point of detriment”?

            Over to you, Gary.

          • James D. says:

            read the second paragraph of his post:

            “My goals in writing the book, as I explain in an author’s letter, are to push the issue… on this nonsensical notion that we get fat because of overeating and sedentary behavior”

            i would say he doesnt really believe in overeating in this context, discussing obesity.

        • David Isaak says:

          “If a fat man is overeating to maintain his excessive weight (which burns more calories per day than when he’s not an excessive weight), he is by definition overeating.”

          Well, according to the definition you’ve chosen/invented.

    • James D. says:

      “one obvious piece that you’re leaving out Gary is that maintenance calories go up as we get fatter.”

      not relative to the maintenance levels before one becomes fat, which is what the fattening is relative to. the fattening is cumulative, whereas the ideal intake for a good weight is fixed.

      say you have a bucket with 10 stones in it, and call this an ideal bucket. everyday, someone takes 10 stones out of it, everyday 10 stones are put back in. if you add 12 stones one day, and 2 are left over, you dont have to add 12 stones the next day to maintain those two, theyre never removed/expended.

      • A much better analogy would be an oil lamp. If the oil burns at a faster rate than you put it in, the oil level goes down. If you put oil in at a faster rate than it burns, the oil level goes up. Turning the wick up increases the rate of oil-burning. As the oil level goes up, it burns at a faster rate.

  61. Scotlyn says:

    Excellent starting post, and very good solid investigative work in your books.

    “I’ve been consistently amazed at the ability of researchers, learned commentators (and the far greater ranks of unlearned commentators), physicians and public health authorities to accept some of the rote ideas about these excruciatingly important subjects without seemingly giving it any conscious thought whatsoever, or without wanting to ask the kinds of questions that a reasonably smart junior high school student should ask if given the opportunity. To this date, I don’t understand this failure of intellect, although I’ll almost assuredly be returning to it regularly in future blogs.”

    I think you have your science right, but you are ignoring a very significant anthropological truth here – and that is that the common perception of “Obesity” has become deeply rooted in the archetypal sub-architecture of the 20th and 21st century soul, where it satisfies deep religious and puritanical impulses. Although in popular culture we are much more lax nowadays about the sin of Lust (and, for eg., no longer consider it ok to consign young pregnant single girls to hard-labour laundries so they may repent at leisure), we still get exercised about the sins of Gluttony and Sloth, and happily condone the consignment of any obvious perpetrators (ie the fat) to lifetimes of abuse, penance, mortification of the flesh, etc. We likewise revere the thin, and laud them (and seek to emulate them) for their virtue. As a culture, we have transferred wholesale the entire cultural/religious kit of forbidden longings, desire, repression, condemnation and punishment with which we used to surround sex to food.

    To overcome this, you need not only appeal to reason, you will have to become an iconoclast!

  62. Darrin says:

    Gary,

    Very stoked to see your blog up and running here. GCBC is one of the most important and paradigm-shifting health and fitness books that I have ever read (along with Nutrition and Physical Degeneration). In a world of rapid and widespread communication, I’m looking forward to getting to hear your viewpoints on the current state of nutrition.

  63. Beth says:

    As a muddle headed, non-scientific thinker I need to learn how to question the omnipresent anit-fat assumptions and messages in the media. It’s weird but I still find myself getting brainwashed even though I know from experience that the low carb approach works for me. So thank-you to you and the other scientists, writers, bloggers who are slowly teaching me to be more scientific and crtical in my thinking.

  64. JoelG says:

    A physician friend of mine turned me on to GCBC a couple of months ago. Fascinated by the book, I ditched refined and easily digestible carbohydrates, returned to eating meat with gusto and have already lost 17 pounds. Suddenly, a normal BMI seems like something possible for a normal human, rather than a Navy Seal or something. Thanks, GT! Can’t wait for the new book and am greatly looking forward to your blog posts.

  65. Peter Silverman says:

    I would be interested if sometime you would discuss Ron Krausse’s view that heart disease used to be caused by eating too much saturated fat and now it’s caused by carbs. And his view that eating 10% saturated fat (mostly from vegetable sources) and 40% carbs is optimal. I got interested in his views because you spoke well of him in your earlier book.

    Here’s the interview where toward the end he said those things.
    http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/26/ldl-cholesterol-ron-krauss-md/

  66. Gary:

    If I had to guess, in the 3-4 years I’ve been blogging health / fitness (chronicling my own 60 lb loss via low-carb Paleo), you probably come up in comments more than anyone else.

    You don’t know me your neighbor four doors down, but I’m a friend of Mike Eades, Tom Naughton, Jimmy Moore and others you know.

    And I’m a big fan of Gary Taubes. I’m looking forward to promoting that new book of yours.

    And welcome to the blogoshere, low-carbosphere and paloesphere all in one shot! You’re a writer, so I won’t offer you advice. But having blogged diligently since 1993, you just always have to keep at it. Please do.

    Oh, and here’s a search link for ‘Taubes’ at my blog.

    http://tinyurl.com/297ykdv

  67. Fabulous–more of your keen insight and curiosity. Welcome. I look forward to sharing your thoughts with clients, colleagues, friends and family.

  68. William R Millan says:

    Delighted to see you on the web. When I found out though a heart scan that I had asymptomatic CAD, I went on a “no wheat or sugar” diet and went from a 32 BMI to a 26.8 one in a year. This whole experience was caused by my exposure to the postings of Dr William Davis.

    Your first book is the “cutting edge” of the right way to go on diet, IMO. From your comments, your second one will make your ideas more available to those who would not wade through the first one. :>)

  69. Galina L. says:

    I regularly check health news on CNN and comments made by other readers. Idea about “Exercise more,eat less” as a obesity solution absolutely prevails .It seems almost impossible to shake that believe. Who will listen? Most of scientists, experts, doctors are all into the old song. I think the only hope is in contaminating our health insurance companies. They are loosing by covering cost of illnesses of civilization.

    • Galina L. says:

      I am sorry, somehow I user the word “contaminating “instead of the word “contacting”. I already sent the message into my insurance company that I resolved my health issues (I don’t have to use asthma inhaler any more,blood sugar profiles and BP are excellent,weight went down) due to 3years of low-carbing. My life style changes spared them an expense.
      Yesterday CNN placed an article in their health news that “Obesity epidemic is a threat for national security”. Too many potential recruits are too fat to be enlisted.
      So, there are at least two influential institutions (insurance companies and government) interested in the real solution for the obesity problem. Because the problem is getting bigger the solution became more important .

  70. Walter says:

    A written interview of you on the internet is where I finally grasped what the scientific method was. I professor of mine had tried to explain it to me and he had good communication skills, but I didn’t get it until reading your interview. I’ve since read Popper, Kuhn, etc.

    I enjoy your discussions of what good science is just as much as nutrition and hope to see some of those discussions here.

  71. Becky says:

    Amazing first post. It’s always amazing that the general public is expected to take “you’re fat because you take in more than you expend” as some kind of revelation. So, are you then saying, you’re wasting because you expend more than you take in? I never considered that possibility…

    PS: Your feed is kind of acting up (worked when I put your web address directly into Google Reader, not when I used the RSS Updates URL) and you have a broken link/image down at the bottom of the page, that appears to point to…nothing.

  72. Brad says:

    Gary,

    Why is it that some people don’t lose weight or often gain weight on low carb diets? If their carbs are kept at say 10-20g/day, and they’re in deep ketosis, how can they not be losing weight? Or how can they store fat with low circulating insulin? (Assuming no prescription drugs or weird circumstances that might cause problems).

    All the best,
    Brad

    • Martha says:

      Check out acylation stimulation protein (ASP). The Spark of Reason blog has a good post on it: http://sparkofreason.blogspot.com/2008/06/swift-kick-in-asp.html

    • js290 says:

      Are you certain your subjects are in ketosis and have low circulating insulin? How close are you monitoring their food intake?

      • Alison says:

        What this doesn’t address is the role of toxins in the body. What is a toxin? Anything the body can’t deal with effectively – or can’t deal with fast enough to prevent a backlog.

        People just assume they can consume whatever they want and the body will deal with it. Not true. Sooner or later the backlog of toxins will start to create havoc in the body.

        Whilst toxins can end up anywhere in the body, they are often hived off into certain fat cells where they can be stored in relative safety to be dealt with ‘later’. In reality, later never comes as the new intake is constantly being added to the heap.

        A low-carb, high-fat diet, especially based on all-natural foods will help the body to get rid of toxins, but that takes time. Until a fat cell has disposed of its unwanted burden it cannot get rid of the fat within it.

        What people do find on low-carb is that over time, long-term health issues resolve. Their arthritis or their backache, or migraines, etc,, will vastly improve or even go.

        The fat acts as a ‘holding cell’ for the toxins that have been removed from the joints, or the back or the head. Depending on how toxic the individual is regulates what happens with the fat. As the toxins are moved around the body, the individual might well gain some weight for a while.

        But as the toxins finally start to be removed from the body, the fat cells can then release the fat it no longer needs and weight-loss may well happen over time.

        Sadly, the role of toxins in the body is rarely addressed or investigated. We pay enormous attention to the external needs of the body as far as cleanliness is concerned, yet throw all sorts of disgusting effluent down our throats without a second thought!

        Most processed carbs look nice, smell nice, and taste nice, but to quote Michael Pollan, they are nothing more than ‘foodlike substances’ that deceive the eye and the palate whilst filling the body with substances it doesn’t recognise and cannot cope with.

        We were designed to eat REAL food. Every time that food is taken and meddled with it gets further away from substances the body recognises. This is a pill that will not end all ills…

        Science seems to think that as long as a test subject doesn’t drop dead the moment a substance passes their lips, it must be ok. Long-term effects is not something they care to think about….

    • Jennifer says:

      Brad said, “Why is it that some people don’t lose weight or often gain weight on low carb diets? If their carbs are kept at say 10-20g/day, and they’re in deep ketosis, how can they not be losing weight?”

      If the person is consuming artificial sweeteners, that will keep the insulin flowing. Dairy, coffee, spicy foods and processed meats can also slow or stop weight loss for some people. Anything that tastes like plant matter can trigger an insulin release. If the person eats only unseasoned meat, that should jump-start the weight loss again. As long as the meat is sufficiently fatty (usually beef or pork), a zero-carb diet can be sustained indefinitely with excellent health.

    • Warren Dew says:

      Most frequently, the people who gain weight on “low carb diets” are eating 100-200g of carbohydrate per day, not 10-20g, and are nowhere near ketosis.

      • Doug Lerner says:

        In my case I was absolutely under 20 carbs a day. It just doesn’t work for me.

        Even the Atkins site says you can gain weight if you eat too much fat, too much protein or too many calories. I have links showing that.

        Just low-carb dieting does not produce weight loss for everybody. I’m not denying it might work for some people. But it absolutely is not a universal cure-all.

        doug

      • CarbSane says:

        There is a very “evangelistic” low carber over at Jimmy Moore’s forum who regained all the weight she lost low carbing despite maintaining the diet. She now practices IF in conjunction with VLC and has very slowly taken the weight back off. I see no reason for such an outspoken advocate of the diet to lie.

        I myself can easily see a couple pound bounce in a week or two eating VLC but very high fat food choices.

        • Warren Dew says:

          Wait, we’re talking about gaining “a couple pounds”? That’s within the error band of most peoples’ scales, and well within women’s monthly cycles.

  73. Roberto says:

    Oh Geez…He wrote a book? Did Research? A gazillion references?!? I never new. Everything he says must be true then. Irrefutable. How dare I question him.

  74. Roberto says:

    “You may not hear anything from me on some of the subjects you suggest, because I don’t feel I know enough to comment — leaky guts, abundances of PUFA, etc. I may someday learn, but as you note, I don’t have all that much time in my life.”

    In his own words. Not enough time to consider anything beyond “carbs drive insulin drives fat”. And why would we want a thorough, broad, no stone unturned approach to human biology and nutrition? When the low-carb dogma is such a nice, neat little fairy-tale.

    • So maybe there are many different things that can cause fat gain. Leaky gut, excess PUFA etc. Gary isn’t dismissing them as causes, and if he hasn’t the time to discuss these factors then that’s fine, plenty of others have discussed them elsewhere. But just because there is evidence to suggest that something else might cause fat gain it doesn’t immediately write off the carbohydrate hypothesis entirely.

      If I may, I think Garys focus lies mainly with what is the most predominant causative factor. Sure these other things are having an influence, but what is the most influential and most predominant cause of the epidemic that currently exists? I’d by no means tell people that cutting carbs is the be all and end all fo fat regulation and health, but there sure is a damn good amount of evidence showing that they are a big player.

      Anyway, looking forward to more thoughtful posts Gary.

    • Kattemann says:

      Oh, we want a thorough approach. Failing that, many people find that low carbing (or reducing carbs) really works.

      Now as for medical and nutritional research – way back in 1994 an MD studying blood glucose curves not only invented integration, but also the trapezoidal method of numerical integration. Well done, but it has been done before, about 300 years ago. If this is the level of mathematical knowledge, how can we trust the statistics of nutritional studies? For all we know they can be totally worthless.

    • Olivia says:

      Roberto,
      What is “low-carb”?
      If you were eating 300g of carbohydrates, then dropped to 200g carbohydrates, aren’t you now low-carb? What if you’re an aerobics instructor gym rat with 6+hours of physical activity per day? Is 200g of carbs low or high for you?
      What if you simply stop drinking sugary sodas and juices? Aren’t you low carb now?
      I’ve met many people who were “NOT ON LOW CARB” (that’s bad!) but really were without realizing it either through food and/or exercise choices.

      “Low carb” is a very cloudy area that’s hard to define, so your calling it a fairy tale isn’t helping the discussion along.

      • Galina L. says:

        Hi, Olivia.
        You didn’t ask me, but I hope you wouldn’t mind my answer because I was thinking about the same thing for a while. I believe that answer is in the different insulin sensitivity for different people.The criteria for appropriate amount of consumed carbs is hunger after meals and snack requirements (checking BS levels would be even better, but it is not practical for our situation).Even young and healthy individuals secret different amount of insulin after consuming the same amount of catbohydrates (which makes GI tables pointless, by the way). My family consist of me (50 y.o. female), my athletic husband and 17 years old son. Each eats different amount of carbs, if no one is hungry in 3-4 hours after a meal, than the previous meal contained the wright amount of carbs. Sugar is very limited for husband and son, no sugar for me.There more details but it may take too much space to mention it all.

    • pb says:

      “And why would we want a thorough, broad, no stone unturned approach to human biology and nutrition? When the low-carb dogma is such a nice, neat little fairy-tale.”

      It’s more like a parable that has helped countless people regain control of their relationship with food and return to a healthy lifestyle.

    • Walter says:

      I find Gary admitting/know what his circle of competence is refreshing.

    • REBECCA says:

      Anyone claiming to be an expert everywhere is just lying. I would hazard a guess he knows way more than I do and likely more than most of us here. It’s just as a good scientist he won’t bring forth advice on topics upon which he is not an expert.

      Refreshing, actually. There’s a different onus on, say, myself … I am writing here as a lay person commenting on a blog. The second he says anything it will be taken as a reference and quoted etc … totally different.

  75. Steve says:

    “First, obese people tend to be weight stable for long periods of their life, just like lean people. So when they’re weight stable, the obese and overweight are obviously in energy balance. They’re not overeating during these periods of stable weight. They’re eating to match their expenditure, doing exactly what the lean do (and get copious credit for).”

    How do we know obese people are weight stable for long periods of time? Is there some reason to believe this? Might they not instead always be creeping up, though very slowly?

    I’d be interested to know if your thoughts on exercise in general since GCBC. I know you’ve never been a big proponent of cardio to “burn” calories and generate a deficit etc.., but I have heard you at least give some credence to the idea that intense exercise may induce hormonal changes that are favorable to fat loss or maintenance. Any thoughts to share?

    • Aaron Curl says:

      Exercise increases insulin sensitivity allowing the body to produce smaller amounts of insulin. This is what I gather from the science behind exercise. The science can be seen on The Biggest Loser every week. These obese people work out like mad, yet continue to eat a caloric restricted SAD. I believe the caloric restriction and combination of extreme exercise balances their blood sugars resulting in weight loss.
      I would like to see a Paleo Biggest Loser and see the results of real food eating and less exercise1

      • BK says:

        Aaron Curl,

        The Biggest Loser contestants do restrict calories, but if you search ‘Biggest Loser Pyramid’ you’ll find a “4-3-2-1″ Biggest Loser diet, which is 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 3 servings of protein rich foods, 2 servings of whole grains, and 200 calories of “extras.” While not exactly Paleo or Low-Carb by definition, it’s not the SAD in that the whole grains move from the base of the pyramid to something more restricted (the penultimate rung). And if the contestants are averaging around 1400-1500 calories per day, it is ostensibly a low-carb diet, and the contestants will occasionally mention that they haven’t touched sugar since being on the show. They’re probably eating significantly less refined carbohydrates as well.

        Also, part of the “science” of The Biggest Loser is ‘forced’ excessive exercise and caloric-restriction, and I don’t think anyone’s arguing that you can’t take weight off of someone in the short-term by these methods (especially when we’re talking about the super obese), but the question is can this be continued in the long-term, i.e., a life of semi-starvation?

      • Galina L. says:

        I agree with your notion on exercise and insulin sensitivity. However, my own experience demonstrated that carbohydrate restriction was more relevant for my weight loss.

        I always was very physically active (6 – 8 hours/week of incentive cardio ) and always on a chubby side, eating healthy moderately low-carb diet. Then the combination of all that jumping and weight close to 180 lb resulted in the need of a foot surgery (due to overexercising, of course). I was in a panic. I thought that I would gain weight during 2 – 3 months of recovery time and I put myself on a very low-carb diet (30 grams or less of carbs ), no fruits , no starches , no sugar substitutes, no snacks, just 3 meals a day. To my surprise, it made me less hungry.Only then I finally started to loose weight and moved from my 2 years plateau. Looks like I am very weight loss resistance. During one year I lost only 9 -8 lb on that diet, but I am loosing and could finally drop extra hours of exercise. Now it is 3 – 5 hours of moderate exercise a week .Working out like mad is not sustainable. Even if you are willing and have time and willpower to do it, your body will give up eventuality, and then what?I believe that years of exercising kept my cardiovascular system healthy and my muscles toned, I never had a bad blood test or blood pressure reading in my life , however, fasting blood sugar level started to move really close to the upper border of normal (99 mg/dL). Now it is close to the low level of normal (69 -72 mg/dL).

        I understand that different people may have different experiences. In order to make my information more complete – my age is 50, female.

    • Jenni Appleton says:

      “How do we know obese people are weight stable for long periods of time? Is there some reason to believe this? Might they not instead always be creeping up, though very slowly?

      I will tell you, unscientifically, only from my own past experience and with other overweight/obese people I know. What Mr. Taubes says is true. When you are very overweight, say 100lbs, you will find yourself staying at exactly the same weight for maybe a year, despite eating less or eating more, and despite exercising less or exercising more, and then BOOM, you will find you’ve gained 10 or 15lbs. It’s not gradual at all. I found it curious that when I was 20lbs overweight, my weight could fluctuate day by day, but at 100lbs, it was determined to stay where it was.

      The obese body is stubborn. I realize it’s difficult to comprehend if you’ve never been there.

  76. Razwell says:

    Congratulations on your blog, Gary ! :)

    Gary, I have the utmost respect for what you are doing. You have many attackers from the dieting industry for pointing out the complete failure of their method to lose weight long term ( decade and more)

    Please feel free to use ANY and ALL of theinformation on my blog to refute your attackers. Particularly James Krieger and Anthony Colpo, who are terrible scientists, close minded, and only intested in defending a failed hypothesis. None of those men ( Colpo , Krieger et al) have made any strides at all in solving obesity. Their own advice is worthless.

    The diet industry is doomed Gary . it is not a question of “if” , but rather when. You are the “face” of their demise. That is why they attack you cherry picked, non – reputable , small sample size, short term studies.

    Women’s Health Initative, a well controlled longer term , large sample size study showed those women ate 360 calories less a day and GAINED weight after 8 years, and INCREASED abdominal waist size, which is a measure of FAT. Funny your attackers NEVER mention this……..

    Keep on exposing this. I support you 100 % !

    Take care .

    Best Wishes

    Razwell

    • “Please feel free to use ANY and ALL of theinformation on my blog to refute your attackers. Particularly James Krieger and Anthony Colpo, who are terrible scientists, close minded, and only intested in defending a failed hypothesis. None of those men ( Colpo , Krieger et al) have made any strides at all in solving obesity. Their own advice is worthless.”

      Both Krieger and Colpo have some good thoughts and make some interesting points. However like many others they misinterpret a lot of the information they look at. Colpo, as far as I am aware is all for low carb but can’t get the whole first law out of his head for fat loss. Krieger, also makes some valid points on some topics, but once again makes key errors in his interpretations e.g. his views on insulin and fat gain http://jamessteeleii.blogspot.com/2010/09/carbs-protein-fat-gain-hypetrophy.html

    • Ah Razwell,

      still trollign on people you have no ability to critique, which results in you creating worthless ad hom attacks?

      • Razwell says:

        Sorry, but your heros false beliefs are exposed. You are just upset at me for pointing this out

        I suggest two things:

        First, I suggest you look up what ad hominem means, as you and your heros Anthony Colpo, James Krieger and Jamie Hale consistently MISUSE the word. ( accusing everyone of ad hominems is the ONLY defense Internet crackpots have to make up for their own inadequacies and lack of knowledge on a subject)

        Second, the people I refer to on my blog are qualified ,world renowned, pioneering , nobel level scientists.
        ( Dr. Jeffery Friedman) and what the research has found is all fully referenced on my blog. I use quality reputable, longer term, large sample size studies, by the way, unlike your heros………

        You can use all these useless, misapplied expressions all you want to DISTRACT the attention from yourselves, and your lack of knowledge and qualifications on the subject, and the fact that NONE of you have made any advances whatsoever in obesity.( Dr. Friedman HAS) That is a favorite tactic all all of you.

        The people I support ( Dr. Linda Bacon, Dr. Jeffrey Friedman , and Gary ) are MORE THAN QUALIFIED to critique NON experts such as Anthony Colpo , Jamie Haler and James Krieger.

        To Anthony Colpo et al obesity is simple and certain. They are never wrong. Those two characteristics are dead giveaways of Internet crackpots. To REAL scientists in the field obesity is very much unsolved.

        Obesity might one day be solved, but I’ll tell you what, if somebody is going to di ut, it will be a guy like Dr. Friedman or someone on his level. It MOST CERTAINTLY will NOT be Anthony Colpo Jamie Hale or James Krieger. They have a lot of gullible people fooled.

        Those three guys are the kings of personal attacks. Name calling is NOT an ad hominem . Please educate yourself. Personal attacks and name calling is what those 3 guys are kings of. Notice, I did NOT say ad hominem, because I , unlike you, know the meaning of the word and how to PROPERLY use it.

        Sorry, 50 years worth of scientific litertaure does NOT support the Bank Account model of obesity which your heros cling to …….. I am very pleased my blog can help the people I support to expose the fact that the Bank Account model of obesity is and always was wrong.

        The Laws of Thermpodynamics do NOT AT ALL explain fat cell regulation or behavior. I suspect Stephen Hawking himself, and other top notch physicists , would admit this, if they ever addressed this issue. Real physcisists would say it is a BIOLOGICAL problem.

        Ooops, getting this fact out to the public would reveal the diet industry’s scam.

        • Lol, razwell creates another bible for his false beliefs. Who’s heros? Perhaps you mean the false claims put forward by the two you hold dear, Bacon, and the other idiot.

          Perhaps if you understood the concept of thermodynamics, you would have a valid opinion on the subject, But until your knowledge lags behind that of a garden worm, your opinion ranks as highly as that creature.

          • Razwell says:

            Read the blog. NUMEROUS experiments have found mice got FATTER WITHOUT eating more. (deefing times, injected with ad 36 virus) etc. NUMEROUS experments have shown people either GAINED fat or did NOT lose it, by eating less. Your body can thwart even your best efforts.

            Women’s Health Initiative . 360 calories a day less for 8 years The result? An INCREASE in waist size and abdominal fat. This study was reputable- large sample size, longer term and WELL CONTROLLED.

            You seriously need an EDCUATION on obesity. EVERYTHING needed to DEBUNK the ban account model of obesity, which you and your heros Krieger hold dear is found on my blog. READ IT THOROUGHLY.

            P.S. I have spoken with Robert McCleoud- it is YOU who do NOT understand thermodynamics.

            Thermodynamics do NOT explain the behavior of fat cells and their regulation. Thermodynamics do NOT explain the regulation of a biologically active ENDOCRINE ORGAN- FAT TISSUE.

            Please get familiar with the literature on obesity. You will soon see science does NOT support what is shown on The Biggest Loser.

  77. Megan says:

    Great, as usual! Can you please get a Facebook share button? That’s where many normal people are right now, and getting fat by “overeating” while they cyber-socialize. :)

  78. Vic Phelps says:

    How do estrogenic chemicals play a part in weight gain? It has long been known that taking birth control pills causes weight gain. What about BPA in plastic or estrogen-mimics in soy-based foods?

  79. Olivia says:

    Welcome Gary!
    I don’t think someone can even start to think about number of calories consumed to calories expended until the calories you’re eating don’t simultaneously affect your hormonal responses to store as fat. (A huge premise of the book right? Some calories are “good” and some are “bad”).

    I used to eat 3 eggs & cheese and the fat it was fried in (cream in my coffee) for breakfast, but when my pants started to get tight I had to stop and consider “I’m not going to the gym 4x per week anymore” — and dropped to 1 to 2 eggs with cheese as optional…but that was just listening to my hunger. I wasn’t hungry for 3 eggs anymore and was still following routine. Still no starvation or amazing willpower required.

    p.s. Good to see the blog started.

  80. Tammy says:

    Gary – Congratulations on the blog and the new book. I’ve already got it on pre-order from Amazon. I own and have read GCBC but I’ve been hesitant to loan it out since I think it’s a tough read for the average person (very technical). I’m hoping the new book will be more reader friendly for the novice.

  81. LynneC says:

    Gary, nice to see you blogging!

  82. Mark Sisson says:

    Hey Gary,

    Just weighing in here (not that weight matters) with congrats on your new blogging endeavor. Looking forward to your updates and insights as well as the new book.

  83. Tuck says:

    Happy to see you’ve decided to take the plunge into blogging! Looking forward to the new book.

  84. Really engaging. I’ll check back regularly.

  85. Urgelt says:

    Fat cells, we know, are constantly exchanging lipid molecules with the blood. How they do this, how much they discharge and how much they take in, is regulated by receptors on the surface of each fat cell. To say we do not fully understand these receptors, chemically, is an understatement – but we know of mechanisms which disrupt them.

    Many drugs now on the market do; they chemically interfere with regulation of fat cells and cause different lipid exchange behaviors. Fairly recently, some viruses have been shown to disregulate fat cells – viruses which had previously been considered benign – and so familial and social patterns in obesity may be a matter of contagion as much as of heredity or social behavior. Food substances can disregulate fat cells (sugar being the best example, probably). Genetics plays a role, too, obviously. Since the chemicals which regulate cells are hormones (by definition), anything which alters the hormonal balance in humans might disregulate fat cells (excessive hormones in food, hormone mimicking chemicals from plastics and insecticides, etc.). Toxins – our environment is swimming in industrial toxins, and our bodies take these in – may also be factors. Intestinal flora has been shown to be connected to fat cell regulation, too: you can make a sterile mouse obese by transfusing intestinal flora from obese mice without permitting a caloric increase in food consumption. Obesity is, indeed, a complex, multifaceted puzzle for which the answers aren’t yet clear.

    The caloric model for obesity has no clothes, and I applaud Mr. Taubes for being among the first contemporary science writers to point it out.

  86. Hugh says:

    I enjoy your writing and I look forward to reading your new book and blog.

  87. Hugh Hines says:

    I enjoy your writing and I look forward to your new book and blog entries.

  88. Dawn says:

    I just finished reading GCBC a couple of months ago as part of my quest to understand why I am now (pre-)diabetic and what to do about it. Your book really put a lot of the puzzle pieces in place for me, so I want to thank you for it (and the extensive references). I do hope that you will take on technical issues here, and also scientific issues that you’re still learning about. Your learning process will be helpful to others of us going through our own.

    Your logic debunking the “calories in – calories out” hypothesis is crystal clear and even intuitive. I think people that continue to resist this logic are being deliberately obtuse.

  89. James D. says:

    its funny how people assume there is only one way for what is imbibed to be expended or expelled from the closed system. theres no violation of any laws of physics being proposed. exercise isnt the only way for the intake to leave the system; it can leave through the urine, bowels, sweat, liposuction, etc.

  90. Sherman says:

    Well I guess fat is where the money is, but I’m disappointed that there’s no followup to all the other things in CGBC – including the troubled history of medical research (i.e. politics) that led us to believe that LDL cholesterol causes atherosclerosis, and that diabetics should be fed a high-carb diet so as to keep their cholesterol down.

    When the Vytorin study came out – you know, the one that showed the combination drug produced no additional benefit over the statin alone even though it produced significant further lowering of cholesterol – I remember thinking, “they need to interview Gary Taubes about that, because he won’t be surprised at those results at all.”

    And then there was the study which showed that having normal blood sugar levels among diabetics produced higher death rates. Of course the normal blood sugar was achieved by more “aggressive” treatment, including more strict compliance with the ADA diet. And I thought, “no, it’s not the lower blood sugar, it’s the treatment that’s killing them. Just ask Gary.” But instead, all the commentary was discussing why having normal blood sugar should be bad for a diabetic, but good for a non-diabetic. Amazing.

    Well maybe you’ve thought better of the things you said in the book about all of this, but if so I’d like to know why, and why you’ve kinda dropped it now. Caesar (i.e. – the V.A.) has now decreed that all the world should have LDL cholesterol below 100, because, you know, that will prevent heart disease. And my guess is that virtually every vet will soon be on a statin. Kinda scares me, but I don’t know whether to fight back or not. It would be nice if you were still working on that side of things.

  91. Hi GT!

    FIRST, thank you for GCBC. I read it summer 09, took 4 inches off my waist, and kept it off. (Like you said, once you know why, what to do becomes fairly obvious.)(Eades and Guyenet helped too.)

    SECOND, I summed up what I’ve learned about nutrition and health here:
    http://attractionreaction.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/chapter-8-the-obesity-epidemic/

    LAST, why do so many medical doctors and other “authorities” continue to believe/advocate the hearthealthywholegrains and “low in fat”? The Medical BUSINESS is not a HEALTH care system. Some med docs actually want to help others (e.g., the Eades), but many others are clearly threatened by anything cheap, safe, and effective at making humans healthy.

    Fight the good fight every moment
    It’s your only way…

  92. PaleoPhil says:

    Good point, Gary, and good luck with your new blog.

  93. Welcome to the blogosphere … I’m so glad you’re here!!

    Looks like you’re running WordPress (good choice!). If you’re blog is via WordPress.com, you should be able to add Facebook and Twitter share links to your posts by going to the WP dashboard, clicking on Settings (on the lower left nav) and then clicking on Sharing.

    You can drag the services you’d like to enable them. I’d recommend Facebook and Twitter, since that’s really where the action is! Note: you can tweak the appearance via the additional options at the bottom of the page.

    If you’re running your own WP blog, then you just need to install a WP plug-in. ShareThis looks like it should work: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/share-this/

  94. Terry O. says:

    To find what causes overeating forget physics but look instead at human emotion.

    Much chronic overeating (and therefore weight gain) is driven by emotion and cannot be explained by physics.

    Those of us who are in pain, particularly chronic emotional pain, seek only to feel better. Food can make us feel better, therefore we eat without regard to satiation.

    End of story.

    • Beth says:

      Sorry, I can’t agree. In GCBC,from memory, there is a discussion of how when conventional dietary advice fails, then it assumed the subject has a psychological problem. So to add insult to injury the obese patient who genuinely follows the advice is assumed to be a “liar” and “headcase” when the approach fails. Thus over weight people are twice villified for a supposed moral failing, for what is essentially a physiological malfunction. I would have “emotional” problems too if I was constantly vilified and ostracized. But that is not the cause of the obesity.

      Secondly physiology can affect emotions, so hormonal disregulation, or if you’re female, just normal hormonal regulation can affect your emotional state. The type of food you eat affects hormonal regulation, energy levels, metabolism, emotional state etc. I’m not sure of all the science of it, but I do know from personal and anecdotal experience that low carb = more stable emotions for myself and others.

    • Guest says:

      I can’t help but wonder though if food really does make you feel better. Every overweight person I know who says something similar to this also feels badly because he or she is overweight. The overeating ultimately makes them feel worse about themselves, as it’s just another way in which they have “failed” in life.

    • Galina L. says:

      Sometimes, when I feel that emotional eating is unavoidable, I reach for some good quality prosciutto . Doesn’t get spoiled while stored in a refrigerator, perfect as am emergency supply,doesn’t interfere with my eating regiment.

      • Nicki M. says:

        I do the same thing with bacon Galina, it’s my comfort food. The best part is that I don’t feel guilty after indulging like I used to with chocolates and cake.

        Thank you for all your efforts, Gary! I’m really looking forward to the new book- I can’t wait to pass it along to those I care about in an effort to get them to see the truth. GCBC was great, but quite a mouthful to absorb (pun sort of intended…)

      • Agreed! Comfort foods can be my worst enemy. It is the bacon, ice cream and easy to open and grab a handful of chips that does me in. I’ve been really health conscious lately and have substituted these comfort foods for the raw veggies and fruits. I think it’s the actual food “portions” that can hurt the diet. Eating controlled portions of “healthy” foods combined with the right amount of physical activity is key.

    • REBECCA says:

      End of story seldom is. I feel very sorry for anyone in pain, especially like this.

      It was not my particular problem but i had a couple of friends who often binged on sugar donuts etc during down times. I have talked them into keeping readily at hand more acceptible alternatives, i.e home-made bearnaise sauce and meats and other treats that feel warm and nutritious .. and made *sure* they ate when hungry, and ate good nutritious foods. Neither of them ever binge any more and both are losing weight … and the emotional lows are vastly reduced too.

      Anecdotal but, fits with the general hypothesis …

  95. TPSW says:

    I am just one of the many who want to say “Thank You” for creating such a well documented research tome with GCBC and now creating a more easily share-able version with your new book.
    Glad to see you blogging so that we don’t have to wait so long for your updated insights.

  96. julie says:

    Great first post. Thanks for starting the blog. The more info the better.

  97. JRM75 says:

    Gary could you do a post on how your thinking has changed from your ten conclusions in GCBC? Knowing what we know now, I think some of the conclusions are incorrect.

    1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic diseas of civilization.
    (Comment: not true for omega-6 fat)

    2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis – the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on your health, weight and well-being.
    (Comment: The second sentence is true, but not necessarily the first sentence. A diet high in sweet potatoes can be okay.)

    3. Sugars – sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically – are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.
    (Okay)

    4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.
    (Comment: starches in whole food in moderation are innocuous, otherwise true.)

    5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior.
    (Okay)

    6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.
    (Okay)

    7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance – a disequilibrium – in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of fat tissue reverses this balance.
    (Okay)

    8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated – either chronically or after a meal – we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.
    (Okay)

    9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fast and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.
    (Okay)

    10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
    (okay)

    • Warren Dew says:

      I think your comments are mistaken.

      Excessive amounts of omega 6s have been implicated in brain function issues. However, I don’t think there’s much evidence that it has a significant effect on obesity.

      If anything, it’s the second sentence of (2) that’s questionable. There is evidence that whole grains are at least as bad as refined flour, for example, and quite possibly worse due to larger amounts of harmful lectins and other protein fragments.

      Starches in whole foods are likely worse, not better than, sugars in whole foods, because the starches are metabolized entirely to insulinogenic glucose. From a weight standpoint, sweet potatoes are worse than fruit, and quite possibly no better than white potatoes.

      • Starches in whole foods are likely worse, not better than, sugars in whole foods, because the starches are metabolized entirely to insulinogenic glucose. From a weight standpoint, sweet potatoes are worse than fruit, and quite possibly no better than white potatoes.

        That must be why populations that eat sweet potatoes as a staple food are all obese (NOT!) *facepalm*

  98. FergieVic says:

    Truly a conundrum! What is the answer??? I have lost weight by eating Paleo or Primal diet consisting of lean meats,good fats, veggies, fruits nuts an berries. NO alcohol. I had done this in the spring and lost 10lbs in 30 days. I gained it back slow over the summer so on second try this fall only 5 lbs came off,same diet.
    I will be following this blog. Thanks

  99. John M. Myers says:

    Yay! Glad you’re up and running. I hope you post on here any upcoming media appearances.
    It would be nice if you were on “On Point”, the NPR show from WBUR in Boston. It would be nice to have an hour long interview.
    Hope you get to do some promoting!

  100. Gary Taubes, welcome to the trenches! I guess, since you’re the reason that a lot of us are down here, you’re like our Generalissimo and we your ragtag troops. So once again, I salute you. I also see from the comments section that most of the usual suspects have already signed on. This should be fun.
    I write the http://ketosisprone.blogspot.com/ which is about sudden onset type 2 diabetes, a diabetes that most people have never heard of but is fairly prevalent amongst peoples of color. I got your book a year and a half ago when I was first diagnosed with this. For one thing, I’m thin and athletic with no signs of antibodies and the literature, that I’ve read, related to this type of diabetes seems to turn much of what we think we know about weight, health and diabetes on its head. We are just as likely to be obese as thin and to make matters worse, the fat ones tend to be more stable metabolically.
    If you ever get the time check this post out, it’s a dozzy! There’s no junk science in it either which makes it all the more perplexing. http://ketosisprone.blogspot.com/2010/06/increased-weight-and-insulin-resistance.html
    I’ve got your book on order and I know this blog and the commenters to it are really going to stir things up.
    Michael

  101. Prue says:

    Thanks, Gary, for taking up the blogging challenge with a great first post. I’m looking forward to a wave of interest in low carb, following publication of your new book.

  102. Regina Wilshire says:

    Great to see you blogging and congratulations on the new book! Will be back as you continue along writing to ‘weigh in’ with some comments when I have time. …just posted your inaugural post to my facebook too!

  103. Phyllis says:

    I have been maintaining a 58% weight loss for 5+ years. My primary tool has been low-calorie eating, but I have become very interested in low-carb issues due to your Research and your Theories. I’ve read GCBC 5 times. In fact, my paper GCBC book got so full of highlights that I had to buy a copy on my Kindle to keep from being distracted when re-reading parts of it. I’ve listened to all of your lectures and interviews that are on YouTube. I’ve pre-ordered your new book, and am very happy to see that you’ve started this blog. I look forward to gaining more information here.

  104. Gary, your blog is LONG overdue. I love the logic in your writing, and how you break things down to a level that people can understand. M question is this – insulin is a storage hormone, so could that be what is causing the weight gain in most americans?

  105. Ed says:

    Gary, I’m very uncomfortable with your tone of ridicule regarding the idea that the brain may participate or coordinate hunger or energy expenditure. We already know that fat cells produce leptin, which is sensed in the hypothalamus — a part of the brain. We know that hypothalamus malfunction can cause excess hunger. We know that leptin signalling issues cause hunger. I think that ridiculing the idea that the brain is involved in weight gain hurts your credibility. I can’t hold a candle to your education on diet and metabolism at this point, but I think that no matter how well read your are, you should strive to maintain at least a modicum of humility. No matter how much you know, you the body of knowledge that you don’t know is far greater.

  106. Juba says:

    Looking forward to the new book. Congrats, Gary!

  107. Chris Lytle says:

    What a nice surprise to see you are blogging. I found GCBC fascinating. Your Dartmouth lecture literally changed my wife’s life. She cried several times during the first 25-minutes. They were tears of anger at the bad advice her doctors, nutritionists and physical trainers had given her over the years. They were also tears of vindication after a long struggle with her weight, which is now, thankfully, over. If GCBC was hard to read, as some critics suggest, it is because it is hard to unlearn what you absolutely know to be true. It took me four readings to be able to completely accept your conclusions. Dumbing down the message in WWGF to make it accessible to more people is a good idea. Still, it takes a smart person and secure person to admit that most of what he believes about diet, exercise and obesity is completely wrong. Still selling millions of copies might change thousands more minds and that’s a good start.

  108. Joe Shaughnessy says:

    Hi Gary, I’m glad to see your Blog. I think I’ve read everything you have ever published. I started out as a Physics major and ended up as an engineer, but I’ve always loved and respected science and hate to see it abused or used for evil purposes ;-) .

    I have a personal experience regarding insulin and weight loss (would be classed as anecdotal information, I know). I have been a Type 2 diabetic for 16 years. For the first 12 years, I followed the nutritional advise and recommendations of the ADA, AHA and the conventional wisdom of doctors and endocrinologists. (Did you know that conventional and convenience have the same root source – it explains a lot). My A1c numbers started above 8 and medications eventually got it down into the low 7 range. I began doing low carb, not for weight loss (though I was 6’2″ and 240 lbs), but for diabetes control. For the past 4 years, my A1c numbers have been under 6 (very close to normal). My A1c numbers were so good, my doctor took me off the Actos 2 years ago and most recently, took me off the glimpiride. I took myself of the Statins (Lipitor) six months ago since I considered the evidence for heart disease prevention and statins to be just more junk science.

    My doctor said I might lose weight after coming off the Glimpiride. I had never made the connection, but that drug works by giving your pancreas a small kick to make more insulin. The conventional treatment for diabetis is to eat lots of carbs and then cover it with heaps of insulin to smack down the glucose. Eating low carb had already reduced my need for insulin in a big way, which is why my doctor said I didn’t need the glimpiride anymore. That was 3 months ago. Since then, I now weigh 220 lbs and feel great. Medications like glimpiride that stimulate insulin production are probably one reason that weight loss using low carb is difficult for diabetics.

    For me, this was a graphic display of the role that insulin plays in fat storage and weight loss.

    Best of luck in the new Blog. I’ve pre-ordered your new book.

    Regards, Joe

    • Fraz Ismat says:

      Way to go!

      I, too, adopted a low-carb approach to control diabetes, only to lose a great deal of weight without any effort whatsoever. I didn’t consider myself significantly overweight.

      Anyway, your doc is correct that you will likely lose weight with the discontinuation of Glimpiride—this class of drugs (sulfonylurea) is bad news for most diabetics over the long term.

      If you haven’t already, read Richard Bernstein’s “Diabetes Solution” for a more extensive low-carb approach to diabetes. Also give a copy to your doctor.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pretty bad when the patient has to educate the “expert” drug administrator. It’s tiring to defend a diabetes-curing diet to closed medical minds. I was lucky enough to start on Richard Bernstein’s diet before having any diabetes drugs pressed on me, so his diet/food plan lost the excess weight and high blood sugar quickly. It’s amazing how quickly not eating carbs/sugar/starch registers on a glucose meter — I thought it might take weeks but it takes only minutes to hours to show the result of what you’ve eaten that day. I would have bought a meter years before if I knew it was available for less than $100 with 100 testing strips — I could have discovered where my blood sugar was heading with my carb laden diet (and my maternal genetics: 3 type 2 siblings).

  109. Aaron Curl says:

    I like many others, have been waiting on this blog for a long time. Your first blog and I’m hooked. Your examples are priceless. Awesome work.

  110. As a science guy (research veterinarian), I found many aha! moments in GCBC. I felt that the book did well to explain general principles of what happens from the neck down in terms of how we process food. However, as one who dances with the diet devil every day (still holding well, BMI 25 at age 52), I knew that the bigger story had to be told about what happens above the neckline. Our cravings, our ‘satisfactors,’ our addictive tendencies (I once ate an entire birthday cake in one sitting) are more complicated than being able to choose foodstuffs based on their insulin response. I read David Kessler’s (ex-head of the FDA) book ‘The End of Overeating’ and found it to be the ideal compliment to Gary’s good work. Especially the bits about how addiction works. It really rang my bells and showed me that my primal craving for certain foods is hard to suppress with an awareness of their physiological consequences. Thanks for your good work Gary.

    Morgan McArthur

  111. Maggie says:

    Congrats on the blog, Gary, I’m looking forward to it.

  112. Diet Guru says:

    Great first post Gary! Looking forward to you rnew book.

  113. George P says:

    Thanks Gary! In 2008 GCBC got me looking and thinking rather than blindly accepting! plus the benefit now of 2 years effortlessly maintaining a BMI of 22.5 (age 59) and enjoying fatty meat,eggs,cheese,cream,nuts,butter again after years in the low fat, chronic cardio wilderness with a previously unstoppable creep to BMI 30!

  114. Rhys Coffin says:

    thank you for doing this Gary. As a Kiwi and a NZ Maori, there are a small group of us working to apply these ideas to help our people.

    • Jay Wortman Md says:

      Kia Ora,
      I visited a number of Maori villages a couple of years ago to speak on this topic. I was invited by Joanne Aoake and Miria James-Hohaia. My work in Canada is focused in the Aboriginal community and specifically on the traditional diets which, in this part of the world, were low in carbohydrates. I would love to return to NZ so let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.
      Regards,
      Jay Wortman MD

  115. Jason Smith says:

    Hi Gary,
    I have heard a lot about GCBC, but unfortunately haven’t read it yet! It is so exciting to see someone (I know there is small but vocal group doing this!)calling out the medical research field for what gets accepted as causation.

    As I financial economist (academic), I find most medical research to be quite absurd. Sometimes it is the researcher that doesn’t realize that there has been a logical leap or “jump to conclusions”. In other cases, the original paper doesn’t overstate or misunderstand the alternative hypothesis, but the popular media doesn’t know how to interpret the results.

    Unfortunately, the reward most receive for pointing this out is to be told that you are the lunatic fringe!!

  116. Hey Gary,
    Welcome to the blogosphere! I look forward to seeing the new book.
    All the best,
    Jay

  117. Eric says:

    Hey Gary,

    Just curious to hear what your opinion is of the mechanism which increases body fat in migratory birds. For example, the Golden Plover will double its body weight before migrating between Hawaii and Alaska each season. Before reading this post I always figured it was some type of endogenous and innate mechanism in the brain telling the bird to over eat in preparation for a migration. Would I be wrong in thinking this way?

    Thanks,
    Eric

    • Eric says:

      Sorry, but I’ve also got one more question. What do you think motivates us to eat? I always thought a lot of this had to do with dopamine, which would infer brain involvement. But if I’m interpreting this article right the brain has nothing to do with weight regulation!?? I’m so confused!!!

      • Eric says:

        I’d also like to hear your thoughts on body temperature. This whole idea of the brain not being able to accurately regulate homeostasis is so interesting to me!! I always assumed (man me and my assuming seem to be getting me into a lot of trouble) that the brain also regulated this, but clearly it is not able to regulate mechanisms like this within a 1% error of margin. If the brain was in charge of this, and because we know the brain can’t regulate things within a 1% error of margin, imagine how quickly our core temperature would go just even into the 200s! Shoot just a 1% upward drift for a little over 100 days would put us at 200 degrees Fahrenheit! That’s crazy!!

  118. Alex says:

    I agree. It’s not calories per se but what the body does with those calories. What the body does with those calories is determined, in large part, by hormonal signalling and it is the type of food we eat – not the calories they contain – that dictates our hormonal responses.

    • REBECCA says:

      For me i have actually proven it, i eat a thousand more calories a day than i used to and am consistently losing. I gained on 1300 a day, now i am losing on 2300 a day.

  119. Richard Tamesis, M.D. says:

    The reaction of nutrition experts to the obesity epidemic after telling us the doctrine for the last 40 years that it was the result of eating too much fat, meat and gluttony reminds me of the attitude of the Communist leaders of the former Soviet Union when their bold Five year economic programs would repeatedly fail to achieve their goals. The Soviet leaders would always conclude that it must not be that the Marxist theory is wrong but that the workers were not working hard enough or were too lazy or needed more political reeducation.

    • Clark Dixon says:

      You know facts aren’t going to make an appearance when the armchair philosophers start showing up. Relevant biology? pfff. John Stuart Mill will lead the way.

      • Razwell says:

        Your lack of education on the topic of obesity is GLARINGLY obvious. Please educate yourself and start making sense.

        The diet industry just spews a bunch of pseudo babble fooling only the lesser educated ( people in need of an Internet guru to lead them).

        The work of two top experts on obesity completely contradicts the information put out there by James Krieger. DIETING DOES NOT WORK- AND NEVER DID. Top science shows this.

        You would do well to do a Google search of “Validity of Claims Made In Weight Management Research ” by Lucy Amphor.

        http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/30

        The eat less move more approach is NOT effective long term and NEEDS TO BE QUESTIONED.

  120. Glad you are blogging.

    Please select a different, legible font for the comments!

  121. lifeonmars says:

    Well, as a 48 year old woman who has never been seriously overweight some may say that I’m not be qualified to comment here, but…

    I can say that during my lifetime I have gained weight and I have lost weight. During two pregnancies, I ate like a starving horse and gained – after pregnancy watched calories and exercised and lost weight.

    A few years ago a career in real estate, long hours in my car or in a chair, too much food on the run and virtually no exercise brought me up 15 pounds from my happy place. Back to the gym, watched total calories and soon it was gone again.

    My lifetime food philosophy has been to eat everything in moderation. I eat eggs, bacon, sweets, bread, butter, etc. and I drink wine and beer in moderation as well. But MOSTLY I eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, healthy fats and I pretty much avoid soda and most junk foods. I eat a well-rounded diet for good nutrition now and that seems to keep my weight in check.

    Here’s the “meat” of this comment though – it’s total calories for me. I KNOW when I’ve been overeating and it obligingly shows up on the scale. When I cut back my total caloric intake and up my exercise for a bit the pounds go away. I don’t eat a lot of grains simply because they have a lot of calories, same for refined sugars and such. I keep track of my weight and keep it within a 5 pound range now. If I know I’m going to have dessert with a meal I share it, or maybe skip the alcohol or eat less of the main course because I know that it’s all about the calories.

    How can it be total calories for me, and for people who have shared weight loss stories on SparkPeople or Livestrong.com (two of many examples) but not about total calories for other people? There are loads of folks out there who share stories of bringing total calories in line with what their body would need at a healthy weight, and – they lose weight! And they keep it off!

    And what about the nutrition professor who lost 27 pounds eating twinkies and ding-dongs? Those are NOT good carbs by any definition…

    I know that we have cravings – mine fluctuate wildly during the course of the month due to hormone fluctuations I suppose. I don’t always give in, and when I do I balance it in some way. It works – and it’s about calories.

    • David Isaak says:

      “How can it be total calories for me, and for people who have shared weight loss stories on SparkPeople or Livestrong.com (two of many examples) but not about total calories for other people? ”

      How can it be that so many people have sex and then become pregnant, but others don’t?

      Lessee, ummm–

      1) Some are too old or too young
      2) Some are infertile
      3) 50% are men
      4) etc.

      • Doug Lerner says:

        I think people, in general, have a hard time getting past the “it worked for me so it must be true for everybody” way of thinking.

        There must be more than one healthy way of eating. I live in Japan where the obesity rate is just 3%. Yet the typical Japanese diet is clearly very very high carb (lots of white rice) and low fat.

        In my own experience, I’ve tried low-carb eating multiple times and find I lose weight at the beginning but never lose a lot of weight and stall after a couple of weeks. On the other hand, if I simply limit calories to an average of 1800 per day over each week I’ve managed to lose 100+ lb. (The problem is rebounding afterwards.)

        So I’m stuck in a difficult situation of not being able to lose weight AND keep it off. Though I can lose weight if I just count calories.

        Low-carb eating does suppress appetite. But not enough for me to lose weight just by reducing carbs to 20 per day.

        But it apparently works for some people.

        I’ve come to believe it’s just different for different people, and there is no universal answer. It could partially have to do with genetics. Maybe a lot has to do with how you are brought up. If you were slim until adulthood and then gained weight seems to be different from whether you were heavy while growing up.

        I think what works for Taubes works for Taubes and may work for some other people, but it’s hard to generalize beyond that.

        doug

        • In my own experience, I’ve tried low-carb eating multiple times and find I lose weight at the beginning but never lose a lot of weight and stall after a couple of weeks. On the other hand, if I simply limit calories to an average of 1800 per day over each week I’ve managed to lose 100+ lb. (The problem is rebounding afterwards.)

          Great post. I have the same exact problem with low carb, as I lost 10 pounds the first week (or so), but had too many zero-loss weeks despite sticking to 20 grams per day.

          My diet, which starts tomorrow, is going to combine “the best” of low carb along with watching my portion sizes (as close to counting calories as I will ever do).

          • Anonymous says:

            By now I am well aware that different approach works for different people, however I want to share my experience in case it may help or give you some ideas. I also experienced a plateau during my dieting. It was a long one – for 2 years. Besides going into ketosis , I also increased time between meals by eliminating snacking and stopped using artificial sweeteners on everyday basis. It took some gradual increase of time and resulted in at least couple migraines while my body readjusted.
            It looked like these – 2 or 3 eggs for breakfast with 1 tsp of butter at 7a.m., a hand-size stake with ! cup of homemade sour craft with 1 Tbs of coconut oil at 12:30, 2 cups of green salad with herbs, green onion, some slices of cucumbers and 1 egg + 1 Tbs of mayo at 6 pm. I drank only green jasmine tee with a slice of a lemon (I found out it curbed my appetite significantly) after meals and between meals. Like you, I found out that I have more stable energy level if I limit the volume of my food. For that reason I had a small cup of drink(4 oz) after my meals and normal one in between.

  122. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate that you didn’t mention “carbs” in this post. Nonetheless, I’m sure the low-carb myth that carbs make you fat is what you continue to believe in. Carbs do not make you fat.

    Nobody is getting fat because they eat an extra 20 calories a day, obviously. Furthermore, as people gain weight, their maintainence increases, making weight gain more difficult. It would be impossible for someone to gain 30 or more pounds in a long period by eating 20 extra calories a day. The reason people get so fat is they are eating huge amounts of calories far above and beyond their maintenance.

    It is not just refined sugar and refined flour that makes up a lot of this extra calories, but fat. It’s a myth that fat is always “filling” and not addictive. I know from experience that fat can be addictive just as much as sugar. When I was obese I was eating huge amounts of fat, so there goes that myth that everyone gets fat only on huge amounts of carbs. It doesn’t matter if it’s butter or margarine or what kind of oil it is, it is metabolized the same way. The culprit clearly is caloric excess. Only athletic types really have a license to eat huge amounts of food. Obtaining a sense of self-control is the first step.

    • jon says:

      i lost 60 lbs within 8 months by cutting carbs, despite eating as many if not more calories. over half of the calories i eat come from fat, and im still losing weight. if youre speaking from personal experience, youre a special case, because i know many others who share experiences like mine.

      • Roberto says:

        And I know many people who don’t have such a wonderful experience sans carbohydrate. People whose thyroids fell apart. People who found any and all athletic pursuits next to impossible. People who could gag maggots with their breath and body odor. And even one guy – I think his name was Jimmy Moore – who even managed to regain 60 pounds in this supposedly “impossible to store fat, calories don’t matter” promised land.

        • Anonymous says:

          its not impossible to store fat without eating carbs, the body can turn other things into sugar–its difficult for the body to store fat without carbs though. no ones saying that if you eat 0 carbs long enough youll shrink to a skeleton. people with thyroid issues are an exception. the vast majority of people who have trouble losing weight could do so by avoiding carbohydrates. btw, jimmy moore is a low carb diet advocate… curious that he would encourage this if he gained 60lbs from it…

        • Anonymous says:

          its not impossible to store fat without eating carbs, the body can turn other things into sugar–its difficult for the body to store fat without carbs though. no ones saying that if you eat 0 carbs long enough youll shrink to a skeleton. people with thyroid issues are an exception. the vast majority of people who have trouble losing weight could do so by avoiding carbohydrates. btw, jimmy moore is a low carb diet advocate… curious that he would encourage this if he gained 60lbs from it…

    • Galina L. says:

      Fat is flattening or not depending on other components of the diet. When consumed with carbohydrates, it can’t be use as an energy source and gets into adipose tissue because carbs consumption leads to an increased insulin secretion . It is very well explained in Garry’s books and lectures. If you do not feel like reading, check some of YouTube videos with his lectures or at least read his article “What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie?” right here in that web site.

      • Roberto says:

        “When consumed with carbohydrates, it can’t be use as an energy source and gets into adipose tissue because carbs consumption leads to an increased insulin secretion.”

        Another shortsighted, overgeneralized low-carb tidbit.

        Yes, the fat goes into storage as a result of heightened insulin secretion and glucose oxidation. But what happens next?? All those pesky glucose molecules have been shipped away, the insulin has been broken down, and you have slightly more fat. BUT, hope springs eternal, that added fat brings added leptin and your brain knows to makes you less hungry until you burn that fat off. What do you know, millions of years of evolution paid off. At least that’s how it should work, in people with normal metabolisms, who always knew that Coke, McDonalds and Twinkies would have their consequences and chose to abstain. And that simple system is why quite a few of us still fit into our wedding outfits, and why even the morbidly “over-carbed” obese still remain weight stable, as Gary said.

        • Galina L. says:

          Do you imply that only people who eat junk food are overweight? There are a lot of thin people eating fast food without getting overweight and over vise. As far as I remember, it was a lot of excitement when leptin and its role was discovered. Later came a big surprise – works on mice and rats, not a problem solver for humans. Looks like not everyone is having a “normal metabolism”.What is the reason for abnormalities, then? Some people do not care about their health, weight, blood pressure., but majority of overweight ones really suffer and try to improve their situation
          You believe that my point of view is caused by some sort of closemindness.What about another explanation, like personal experience? Imagine somebody like me is puzzled all her life, why my husband and son could eat huge amount of past, and I avoid all that, do hours of exercise and still being chubby? I tried all diets with yo-yo effect until discovered low-carbing at the ripe age of 46, then that particular diet finally worked.The lower amount of carbs, the better my health. The Garry’s book finally gave me answer why my diets didn’t work before and what makes people different in regard to their diets. Body functions in a very complex way. It is possible that Garry’s explanation is still simplified, but at least it explains some nutritional paradoxes much better then “eat less, exercise more” approach. I don’t accuse you of being the proponent of that theory , but in your post you mentioned himself that somehow some people’s abnormal metabolism is not regulated with leptin. I believe that you gave too simple explanation to that phenomenon.

          • Alex says:

            You are absolutely correct. Studies in mice and rats showed that administration of leptin to leptin deficient rodents (usually genetically manipulated to be that way I might add) decreased ad libitum feeding and body fat mass. However, when this research was transferred to obese humans (who are not genetically bred to be leptin deficient) it didn’t work! They discovered that most obese humans have plenty of circulating leptin but they were resistant to its effects. They also had high levels of circulating insulin and insulin resistance and one of the current theories is that leptin resistance (not lack of leptin) goes hand in hand with insulin resistance. Another study found that high triglycerides caused an inability of leptin to cross the blood brain barrier and act on its receptors to regulate appetite and fat mass. What causes elevated triglycerides? Oh yes, high carbohydrate consumption!

          • Galinal L. says:

            Thank you for support and very intelligent description of the leptin deficiency problem.

          • Roberto says:

            I do believe, on a whole, obesity has been caused by our exposure to unnatural, engineered, nutrient-poor junk food. Yes I feel it’s safe to assume that most obese people have eaten those foods more liberally than most. Of course there are exceptions. I think it’s silly to try to rationalize that carbohydrates, regardless of their source, are the cause of obesity. Blueberries, yams, bananas and squash never hurt us.

            Yes I’m aware we don’t fully understand leptin, there’s more to the story. But however it works, our weight is biologically regulated. I sincerely doubt that whole, unrefined carbohydrates caused that regulation to fail. Why would anyone even consider blaming sweet potatoes, strawberries and squash. It couldn’t possibly be rancid vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, hybridized refined garbage wheat, numerous obesogenic chemicals, lack of sunlight, lack of vitamins and minerals and yes, in many people, literally no physical exertion whatsoever. Clearly a person shouldn’t have to run marathons to be healthy, but sitting down at a desk, or in a car, or in front of a computer at ALL TIMES is disgustingly unnatural. Literally, hundreds of factors, and here we are on a blog that is going to argue that butternut squash, cherries and brown rice caused the obesity epidemic. It boggles the mind, it truly does.

            If avoiding carbs helped you regain your health I’m very happy for you. But like all people who can’t tolerate carbohydrates, in all likelihood, you are insulin resistant. That’s the underlying problem. And it wasn’t caused by too many potatoes and grapes, that I can assure you. The low-carb movement has to stop foisting their biological weaknesses on the rest of the world.

          • Galina L. says:

            Hi, Roberto.
            Thank you for all your answers. I understand how you felt when you comment that idea about blaming wonderful foods like sweet potatoes, fruits, brown rice for obesity just was blowing your mind. Then it easy for you to imagine how I was confused when I realized it was true for me. Just before I had discovered the most wonderfully whole wheat sprouted bread made by Alvarado street bakery. Better then any white bread.Bagels made by that bakery I still buy for my husband.

            You are right, of course.I am insulin resistant. My guess is so do others who have trouble to loose weight while eating healthy.The bad thing is the insulin resistance has tendency to increase with age for everyone.

            My trouble with you is that you sound angry, put some labels on people with different opinions. Nobody is standing between you and your good carbs. Enjoy it while you can. Just don’t close your mind , if some day you will found yourself with too much fat on the middle, don’t blame some evil chemicals.

            Really try to read some articles on the blog.

          • Galina L. says:

            I just read your other posts and decided to add couple more sentences to my reply. I think you believe that insulin sensitivity could be developed without any reason. There is a research that demonstrate that among young healthy individual insulin response after the same meal may have four times difference. When people are getting older, the stronger insulin response they have due to their genetic or the choice of food, the less insulin sensitive they became due to the process of insulin down-regulation.
            Yes, we are different and humanity is diverse. The only common ground for nutritional is – no one group of of people will benefit from the diet rich in refine carbohydrates and trans-fats.
            Who knows?May be in a future sugar measurement devices will be used by almost everyone regularly and it will be less disagreement about what one should eat, based on the number and not on the idea what is healthy.
            There are a lot of paradoxes in nutrition and there is no simple answer on many question. If you FEEL you know the answers – it is the bad sign.

          • Roberto says:

            I don’t think I have the answers. Far from it. Gary Taubes thinks he does though. In his mind we’re all overweight because we ate too many carbs. Not refined carbs, not sugar, but carbs in general. The man honestly believes that thousands of years of human evolution was undone by cherries, squash, sweet potatos and bananas. It’s utterly ludicrous.

          • Galinal L. says:

            Did we read the same book (Good calories. Bad calories)? There is no such thing you just mentioned there. In his book Garry points toward the overeating of refined carbs as the reason for modern cluster of deceases. And whole tone of the book is not self-righteous. It is about the bad science in nutrition, about so called scientists,who thought they knew answers in advance and how they cherry-picked and doctored date . The book mostly calls for more well designed research than giving answers.

            I believe that more research is desperately needed in nutrition. I am sure,as a person who doesn’t know answers too, you will agree. More and more people are getting seek, military authorities complain they do not have enough healthy recruits. Problem is getting bigger.Unfortunately, the general health advice doesn’t work for at least half of the people .

            I am sure, your and me are not far apart in our ideas in healthy eating, I just have to go further in controlling my insulin response. Probably, because I am older (50) and female.

          • Robertoo says:

            Gary lists his basic conclusions in the epilogue of GCBC. The second conclusion on the list is as follows:

            “The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis – the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.”

            He specifies that refined carbohydrates are worse, but he still points the finger at carbohydrates in general.

          • Galina L says:

            Why did the conclusion about carbs in the diet made you upset? If chronically raised insulin is the root of the diseases of civilization and abnormal blood sugar is the reason of that, why not to pay a very close attention to all cabs in the diet? Why to tell somebody who is obese – “O, I am sure, brown rice and bananas may not harm you. Just cook all you meals yourself” Look at Dr.Oz and poor Oprah – the victim of nutritional advice based on an ideology. For some people it will be reasonable to just avoid refined carbs()like Dr.Oz), for others – to watch all categories.Is it reasonable to consider any food group a sacred one? No one is pushing you to live on burgers or skip fruits. Looks like you see the modern processed food as the main sours of the obesity epidemic. According to anthropologists, the humanity got familiar with caries, high blood pressure , diabetes , cardiovascular deceases only after discovering of agriculture. Egyptian mummies and other remains provided am ample material for their research.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dr Oz has said he has to carry snacks like nuts to get him through the day. Sounds like I was when hypoglycemia started.

            And to Roberto: It’s not that carbs are bad, it’s the AMOUNT of carbs that are bad.

          • David Isaak says:

            “I do believe, on a whole, obesity has been caused by our exposure to unnatural, engineered, nutrient-poor junk food.”

            The fact that you believe this is, well, irrelevant to me.

            “Yes I feel it’s safe to assume people have eaten those foods more liberally than most.”

            Ah. We’ve moved from what you believe to what you feel.

            Many of the low-carbers actually don’t have much of an issue with blueberries, yams, or squash. Potatoes and grains are a different matter entirely, and these were not widely available in the envronment in which we evolved.

          • Michael says:

            [quote]
            “If avoiding carbs helped you regain your health I’m very happy for you. But like all people who can’t tolerate carbohydrates, in all likelihood, you are insulin resistant. That’s the underlying problem. And it wasn’t caused by too many potatoes and grapes, that I can assure you. The low-carb movement has to stop foisting their biological weaknesses on the rest of the world” [/quote]

            Reminds me of the Scottish preacher lecturing to his flock about the last day. There would be weeping and gnashing of teeth as the sinner cried out “Laird, we didnae ken”, and the Laird would say:
            “Weeelll…..ye ken the noo!”

            Tough luck on those poor benighted sinning insulin resistees then eh? They should have kenned.

            I can see from casual observation that there do appear to be plenty of people around who do appear to be able to handle carbs with no apparent resulting gain in weight. The “normal” people in Roberto’s viewpoint, apparently. Well, good luck to them, but a lot of them are relatively young. I know a lot of people who were still slim in their 40s, but in their 50s and 60s looked decidedly chubby. But weight-gain is not the end of the story. If Gary’s thesis carries any weight (no pun intended), it is the diseases of civilisation (other than weight gain) that we really have to worry about. I heard a statistic to the effect that something like half of us were going to get some form of cancer eventually. I can’t give you a source, but there does seem to be an awful lot of cancer about, and in relatively young people too (I learned today of the death of a former colleague, younger than me; I recently lost an aunt at an early age (for our family); another aunt has so far survived treatment, although she has at least lived quite a long life). Yes, this is only anecdotal “evidence”, and we all have to die from something.

            So, you say that they (possibly “we”) are insulin resistant and then you have to ask, what caused that? I think you are saying that it is likely that it was excessive junk food, but not carbs in general. Somewhere you said that what harm did bananas do anyone?

            Hm…well, when I became overweight, I was eating what I thought was a very healthy diet. No junk food; no fast food. Minimal animal fat; cooked with olive oil and used olive oil spreads. Lots of whole wheat bread, rice and pasta. Baked potatoes. Vegetables cooked, but not overcooked; salads. Lots and lots and lots of fruit. I would say that I was more or less addicted to bananas, grapes and apples. I’d put them with my muesli, often with dried fruit as well (highly concentrated source of sugar … would you call dried fruit a junk food? – I didn’t then. I would now, even though it’s not cheap. That was the diet I was on when I began to suspect symptoms of type II diabetes (as well as being seriously overweight).
            (I have to be honest and admit that I also drank beer … not all the time, but I did binge from time to time, and that must have been a factor).

            So all these insulin resistant people (possibly/probably me included), however, they got there, what should they do?

            Well I would say that Gary’s first book (or the judgements therein) is aimed at these sort of people, and his new book probably aimed at them more directly.

            It may not be the solution for everyone, but I think it can potentially help many millions.

            Regards,
            Mike Ellwood

          • Two probable causes of insulin resistance other than genetic susceptibility are:-

            1) Hypovitaminosis D due to lack of UVB exposure (UVB cannot penetrate window glass). See http://phlauntdiabetesupdates.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-evidence-that-vitamin-d.html?showComment=1291728699509#c1224945468171543953

            2) Excessive sedentariness. See http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/files/2010/12/Published-Paper.pdf

            Cheers, Nige.

          • Warren Dew says:

            Actually, when I started gaining weight, it was exactly due to potatoes and sweet potatoes. I hadn’t been to a fast food restaurant in years.

            Fortunately for me, I stumbled onto a form of low carb diet – paleo – that prohibits tubers, and the 15 pounds I’d gained promptly went away.

          • Razwell says:

            Correct, Galina.

            Gary, while not being omniscient on the subject of obesity ( no one is) , is 100 % correct to challenge a failed nostrum , the “eat less, move more ” dogma . He deserves to be praised.

            This advice does NOT work long term and Dr. Jeffrey Friedman AGREES.

            Gary is right, diets do NOT work long term as a treatment for obesity. The bank account model of obesity is a flawed dogma that needed challenging badly.

    • Mark S says:

      @Stancel,
      The culprit(cause) is clearly NOT caloric excess, did you even read Gary’s post? Do you really think that we animals consciencely self-regulate our own fat tissue? Do you think cows walk around in their pasture with a calorie counter to make sure they don’t eat too much grass… or that sharks count how many miles they swim per day and balance that against how many seals they’ve eaten so they stay in tip-top shape??? An apex predator like a great white lives in an environment of fatty delicious calories (that would be seals) that the shark could eat to excess every day if he so chose… and yet they don’t get fat… Animals that eat the TYPE of foods that they have evolved to eat and are adapted to eat do NOT get fat. They don’t exercise, count calories or worry about obtaining some “sense of self-control” as the first step in regulating their fat tissue.
      I can just see one great white shark saying to another… “I can’t go out and eat seals today, I’m getting kind of pudgy, I better swim a few laps around the island instead.” “No” the other shark says, “you’re real problem is you need to take the first step and obtain a sense of self-control over how many seals you’re eating” fat shark murmurs “but they just taste soooo good, I can’t help myself, I guess I just lack the will power to stay in shape.” Other thinner shark shakes his head in moral contempt.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mark, this is irrelevant. Animals don’t have body image.

        All those animals are constantly active, so yes, they do exercise.

        • Mark S says:

          Stancel,
          With all due respect, you think cows are “constantly active”? Really? I guess sharks do move a lot but I have seen some pretty lazy lions on the discovery channel. They seem to stay in good shape on a zero carb diet just like I do. Yes, I guess maybe a shark is constantly active (you’re guess is as good as mine on this one) but the shark is active because it has the energy available to be active and not because it is consciencely trying to stay in shape and not become obese. You don’t see some sharks that are less active than others and hence overweight.
          I would respectfully reply that animal models are both relevant and applicable. We are after all talking about the behavior of mammalian fat cells, our adipose tissue. Animals in the wild maintain a perfect body weight without consciencely thinking about how many calories they are eating or expending! Why? Because they eat the diet that they are meant to eat.

          When you went through adolescence and got taller you developed. You were not getting taller because you were eating more, you were eating more because you were getting taller. It’s the same thing when our adipose tissue starts growing, our hormones are slightly out of whack and we are eating more because we are getting bigger.

          • JCCarter says:

            You ever been on a real farm? Not a shed with cows in it. A real live farm where animals walk around and select their own food?

            Cows are quite active.

          • Garth says:

            Our cows are on pasture, and they are certainly more active than most tie stall cows. And yet, they are significantly fatter than any Holstein I’ve ever seen; even the ones who stand or lie down literally 24/7 and have grain supplements are incredibly thin. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of Angus and Devon and Hereford that are extremely fat, despite living exclusively on forage. The obvious difference is that humans have in one case selected for genetics that produce milk, and in the other selected genetics that produce fat/muscle.

            If you dried off the Holstein and fed it a bunch of grain for long enough, it would get a bit fatter, though it would never look like a beef cow. If you fed the beef cow a bunch of grain for long enough, it could get obese. Devons fell out of favor when feedlots became the norm, because they fleshed too easily – by the time they had finished sizing up they would have rolls of fat. But they do great on grass.

            Good Calories, Bad Calories, is hands down the best diet book I’ve read. It convinced me to change my diet from low fat, near total vegetarian, to much higher fat, no refined carb. I was not over weight, and I stayed not overweight.

          • Anonymous says:

            yep, I’ve been on a real live farm. Spent a year on one in fact. Even spent a few cold and miserable mornings milking real live udders with my real live hands… and your point is? That cows are “active”? Again… look at the causality. Animals in the wild don’t become obese because they exercise or count calories… they stay lean because they eat the diet that they have evolved or were designed to eat. If we humans would do the same… we too will stay lean.

          • Anonymous says:

            yep, I’ve been on a real live farm. Spent a year on one in fact. Even spent a few cold and miserable mornings milking real live udders with my real live hands… and your point is? That cows are “active”? Again… look at the causality. Animals in the wild don’t become obese because they exercise or count calories… they stay lean because they eat the diet that they have evolved or were designed to eat. If we humans would do the same… we too will stay lean.

      • Razwell says:

        Exactly, Mark. :)

    • REBECCA says:

      Stancel, this is nothing more than spewing of the dogma.

      Remember, we are trying to further understanding and figure out where we have gone wrong societally with our weight and health. Remember that telling folks to just suck it up, diet and exercise, does not work.

      “self control” .. What has caused us to lose control? Is that not a valid discussion point? Is it not central to how we help folks get better?

      And I don’t need control anymore, I’m doing very well eating this “correct” way and without deprivation. You want others to feel guilty and deprived and get a lesser result than i did? Why are you so hostile to this? It seems odd that you are so strongly opposed when no-one seems to have come up with any actual refuting arguments, just parroting the usual rhetoric …

  123. I like JRM’s comment about the conclusions you drew in GCBC, because the tuber thing is really an important data point that cannot be overlooked. There are many hunter gatherers eating high carb diets that do not suffer from metabolic disregulation. Thus I would say that points 8 and 10 also need to be called into question. It’s not the carbs, but rather the lectins, fructose and linoleic acid that are causing metabolic disregulation, and they are doing it by somehow causing leptin resistance. Now by what mechanism is this occuring? Well that is the part that could prove extremely interesting, and would help us come to a better understanding of what is actually going on.

    While insulin and insulin resistance plays a role in the physical storage of fat, the carbohydrate hypothesis is fundamentally flawed. More and more I am looking at leptin resistance as the fundamental cause, not insulin resistance. There is a lot of great writing being done by a few guys on this topic, particularly Chris Masterjohn and Stephen of Whole Health Source. Take a look at Chris Masterjohn’s post on this very question here: http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2010/11/is-insulin-resistance-really-making-us.html

  124. Hockey Guru (aka Poisonguy) says:

    Atta boy, Gary.

  125. Alex says:

    Following on from some of the comments thus far, I would like to add this:

    The laws of thermodynamics are often bandied about in these discussions and, in particular (by inference/implication, if not always specified directly) the EQUILIBRIUM laws of thermodynamics as they normally apply to CLOSED systems. All biological systems are not closed but OPEN and so, therefore, the NON-EQUILIBRIUM laws of thermodynamics should properly apply (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-equilibrium_thermodynamics). The other problem of misapplying the wrong laws is that only the first law, the conservation of energy, is ever stressed as having an impact. When the correct laws are applied to open systems, then the second law must also be considered (and perhaps take precedence) and that is the law of ‘dissipation’: energy, in an open system, can be dissipated to the outside environment in a number of ways.

    Another point often brought into the debate is whether ALL carbohydrates are bad. First of all, one must realise the truism that there are NO essential dietary carbohydrates as there are with certain amino acids and fatty acids. We have the ability to synthesise all the carbohydrate we require endogenously from other non-carbohydrate substrates. So, semantically, it may be possible to state some dietary carbs may be LESS deleterious than others but not necessarily that some dietary carbs are actually GOOD for you or ESSENTIAL!

    To drive home the contention that dietary carbohydrates are not always deleterious, the old stand-bys of the Kitavans and the Okinawans are often trotted out. However, in the case of the latter, they also eat a great deal or pork and pork fat in there diet and most of their carbohydrate comes from green, fibrous vegetables (terrestrial and oceanic) rather than sugars and starches (even rice). They also tend to restrict total energy intake, which also further reduces total carbohydrate intakes. It is their animal fat and protein intake, specifically, that is credited with their health and longevity and not their carbohydrate intake according to this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=1407826&query_hl=7&itool=pubmed_docsum

    This brings us to the Kitavans who, by all accounts, DO eat a diet very high in carbohydrate containing foods. However, if you look at the types of WILD foods gathered and the preparation and cooking methods, you have to question how much of the carbohydrate content of these foods remain as easily digested sugars and starches and how much is actually converted into resistant starches that end up being fermented by gut bacteria with an end result of the production of assimilable short-chain saturated fatty acids?

    It may be that, as prepared and eaten, many of these foods may not be as “high carb” as first appears!

    • Roberto says:

      Alex

      I’m sorry, but your argument is silly.

      Yes, there technically are no “essential” carbohydrates. And while there are essential fatty acids, that doesn’t mean that fat is the optimal source of energy. We need very small amounts of essential fatty acids, and a lot of studies are suggesting that in excess they are very damaging to us. EFA’s are found in virtually all plant life, aside from DHA. And our bodies can convert a certain amount of alpha-Linolenic acid into DHA.

      The Kitavans were reported to have been obtaining roughly 70% of their calories from carbohydrate. If even half of those carbs were in the form of indigestible fibre and resistant starch, as you suspect, they would have wasted away. Not enough calories. But that 70% figure refers to digestible carbs. Fiber is not counted as a calorie. Plus, I read that most of their fruit was domesticated. Plenty of digestible carbs there.

      Whether you like it or not, the Kitavans were a group of human beings…eating most of their calories from carbohydrate…in utterly amazing health. I’m sure if Dr. Atkins knew about them, they made regular appearances in his nightmares. One last time: tons and tons of carbs and perfect health. If carbohydrates were such a noxious poison, that wouldn’t happen. It just wouldn’t, the proof is in the pudding. And they are not genetically protected, they had one fat ass on the island who exploded after a stint of western eating at a nearby city.

      They might go through periods of food shortage and are forced to fast periodically. But they do not “restrict total energy intake”. They might not overeat to the extent many westerners do, but they get all the calories they need. Otherwise, they’d be dead. And the Kitavans had a surfeit of food. They apparently left fruit to rot.

      It’s the types of fat and the types of carbs. Think intuitively for two minutes.

      Rancid GMO corn oil sitting in a factory, contaminated with pesticides and industrial solvents
      versus
      Fresh, grass-fed, organic butter

      High-Fructose corn syrup and bleached white, hybridized wheat flour
      versus
      Yams, Bananas and Butternut Squash

      • Alex says:

        I agree with you, EFAs are only needed in relatively tiny amounts and too much of a good thing can be deleterious to health – especially omega-6. However, most dietary fats – and particularly saturated fats – have uses other than mere energy provision within the human body (as someone else has already astutely observed). The same with amino acids – in fact, amino acids are seldom directly oxidised to provide energy, though they are often converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis, which can provide a fuel source.

        I think your observations regarding energy restriction and starving are silly! Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘overfed and undernourished’? What about the lesser known but equally viable ‘underfed and sufficiently nourished’? Energy is but one part of why we need to eat food. A large part of good nutrition is supplying the body with the raw materials it needs to build and maintain healthy tissues and maintain health by supplying essential micronutrients.

        My reading on Okinawans has been from the horses mouth, so-to-speak, and it is within their culture to leave the table still hungry – so, yes, caloric restriction is a daily, ongoing habit not a one off!

        Note that this is specifically for the Okinawans, not the Kitavans. You appear to be accusing me of associating this habit with the Kitavans as well but I did not say this in my original post – take two minutes to read it again carefully!

        As for the Kitavans, you should also check out a recent post on the Whole Health Source blog – also direct from a native Kitavan – you will see that there is lengthy preparation of most foods including fermentation, slow prolonged cooking, soaking and slaking of foods before they are consumed. All of these processes can alter the make-up and digestibility of these foods. You cannot just look at the nutritional values of the food in its raw state or as would be typically prepared and served here in the west. A study was done with native Australian Aboriginal ‘bush foods’ where the nutritional values were assessed from samples that were traditionally prepared and cooked as well as in their fresh raw state – the differences were remarkable in some cases, as was their digestibility and the effect on blood glucose, etc.

        • Roberto says:

          “However, most dietary fats – and particularly saturated fats – have uses other than mere energy provision within the human body…The same with amino acids…”

          Carbohydrates have many uses other than as an energy source as well. Carbohydrates can be converted to fat to be used for various purposes. They can be converted to many amino acids. If you were protein deficient, you would fare much better with a high intake of carbohydrate than a high intake of fat. They can be converted to glycogen far more efficiently than protein.

          I’m sorry, you didn’t mention the Kitavans in your statement about energy restriction somehow ameliorating the (highly unlikely) negative effects of carbohydrates. But, just the same, the Kitavans had virtually no food shortage – almost a constant surplus in fact – and suffered no ill-effects in the face of a massive carb intake. So there goes that theory…

          “What about the lesser known but equally viable ‘underfed and sufficiently nourished’?”

          First off, I never made any comments on that matter, I don’t know why you’re berating me about it.
          But since you asked, no I don’t think it’s possible to be ‘underfed and sufficiently nourished’. Any prolonged underfeeding will result in death. No if’s, and’s or but’s. You might have wonderful vitamin and mineral status, but without enough energy you are going to die. So, you’ll have to explain to me how one can die from starvation and remain sufficiently nourished. Oh wait…I forgot about breatharians. They claim to survive off air and sunlight exclusively. My Bad…

          “…you will see that there is lengthy preparation of most foods including fermentation, slow prolonged cooking, soaking and slaking of foods before they are consumed. All of these processes can alter the make-up and digestibility of these foods.”

          That’s wonderful, I’m all for it. In fact, I practice the same methods to improve the nutritional quality of my starch sources. They are excellent for breaking down phytic acid and lectins. But neither you nor Gary Taubes have argued that those compounds cause obesity, you keep screaming that it’s the carbs. I hate to disappoint you, but slow cooking, soaking and fermentation increase the amount of carbs available for digestion. That’s one of the main purposes. We’re not very efficient at digesting raw starch. And since you mention Whole Health Source, look over Stephan’s recent series on potatoes. He seems to regard the old taters and their carbs quite favorably.

          • Roberto says:

            I made this statement:

            “If you were protein deficient, you would fare much better with a high intake of carbohydrate than a high intake of fat.”

            Protein deficiency, in a varied, high carbohydrate, low fat diet is almost an impossible scenario. As long as you have two high carbohydrate sources with complementary amino acid profiles, and sufficient calories, protein deficiency is extremely unlikely. Beans and Rice and you’re good to go. Eat nothing but butter and avocado, however, and protein deficiency is almost guaranteed. So if you want to compare the utility of the most fat comprised foods versus the most carbohydrate comprised foods, the carbs are clearly the best bet. But it’s a moot issue altogether, because either scenario is unlikely to occur. In almost every diet ever practiced there were ample amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrate.

          • James says:

            I like how you just make things up to support your position, Roberto. You just said “carbohydrates can be converted to many amino acids”. What on earth are you talking about? Open up a book or something, dude.

          • Roberto says:

            We don’t have to obtain the non-essential amino acids from our diet, because the human body can produce them on it’s own. I know at least some of them are formed from byproducts of carbohydrate metabolism. The chemistry is over my head, but I assure you, if you are not receiving enough nonessential amino acids in your diet, some of them are formed from carbohydrate. On second thought, maybe they can be formed from fat metabolism as well, I’m not sure. If you’re so well read on the topic, perhaps you could break the chemistry down for us?

            I only bring it up, because Alex gives the impression that other than as a source of energy, carbohydrates serve no purpose and are therefore inferior to fat which can be used for many purposes. That is not the case. I gave a very generalized reply to two very generalized statements:

            “Another point often brought into the debate is whether ALL carbohydrates are bad. First of all, one must realise the truism that there are NO essential dietary carbohydrates as there are with certain amino acids and fatty acids. We have the ability to synthesise all the carbohydrate we require endogenously from other non-carbohydrate substrates. So, semantically, it may be possible to state some dietary carbs may be LESS deleterious than others but not necessarily that some dietary carbs are actually GOOD for you or ESSENTIAL!”

            “However, most dietary fats – and particularly saturated fats – have uses other than mere energy provision within the human body (as someone else has already astutely observed). The same with amino acids”

          • Alex says:

            You are just so wrong on so many points – as already suggested, you and Clark should go read some more biochemistry text books!

            You said that essential fats are not a primary source of energy. I agree but only because the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, are not required in huge amounts. But all other fats do provide a significant amount of the energy we use every day. The heart works best on fatty acids. Even the brain, which is the greatest user of glucose as an energy substrate, can get up to 75% of its energy requirement from ketones (a by-product of fatty acid metabolism). Similarly muscles can use both ketones and fatty acids in conditions of low intensity activity (which is how most people exert themselves most of the time). We only rely on glucose during very high intensity activities like sprinting and weight training.

            Certain non-essential amino acids (alanine, principally) are not synthesised from carbohydrates (glucose) but a by-product of glucose metabolism called pyruvate. However, since we can synthesise our own glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates via gluconeogenesis, we do not need to ingest either glucose or carbohydrates to get pyruvate or alanine. Also, since you have to eat sufficient dietary complete proteins to get the essential amino acids the body cannot synthesise, you will also be getting a full complement of non-essential amino acids anyway.

            You are also over-inflating the importance of carbohydrates as a substrate for uses other than energy. Again it is largely glucose that is required in enzymatic glycosylation to make certain glycoprotein molecules and, as already stated, we can make our own glucose without eating much in the way of dietary carbohydrates. When you provide large amounts of exogenous glucose via dietary carbohydrates, you are also risking the creation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which are damaging. AGEs, unlike the glycoproteins synthesised via enzymatic glycosylation, are randomly created by the interaction of reducing sugars (like glucose) on proteins, without the direction of specialised enzymes.

            You say prolonged under-feeding will result in death – prolonged malnutrition will result in death. One does not necessarily go with the other. Starvation will result in death because you are not getting either sufficient energy or nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods that are not particularly energy-dense will result in a mild form of caloric restriction but provide all the macro- and micronutrients required for health. It is precisely because modern processed foods are usually energy-dense but lacking in good nutrition that may be a factor in over-eating: it is the nutrient-density (or lack thereof) that is dictating consumption and not the caloric value. Since the body is not getting the nutrition it requires but an abundance of energy it cannot immediately use, it may sequester much of this away as fat while continuing to drive hunger in order to achieve the necessary daily quota of essential nutrients.

            At least this goes some way to explaining obesity and over-eating (as well as diseases of modern civilisation) other than the redundant observation that people are lazy gluttons!

          • Roberto says:

            You either misinterpret what I say and criticize me, accuse me of things I didn’t say and argue against it, and you even manage to argue against my points by completely restating what I said.

            “But all other fats do provide a significant amount of the energy we use every day.”

            I never once said that fats weren’t a potential, efficient source of energy. In fact, I never once said that fats are harmful. I’m not part of the low-fat brigade, I eat 2 pounds of butter a week. All I’ve argued is that there’s no reason that a person with good glucose control should eliminate carbohydrates in favor of fat. I think they are equally viable sources of energy in most circumstances. And I promise you, 99% of athletes need carbohydrate to function optimally. I run, hike, lift weights and play hockey weekly on top of a physical job. I’ve attempted that on low-carb diets and it was miserable. There might be low-carb, mediocre long-distance runners trying to prove something to the world, that never win a race. But generally all athletes will function better with carbohydrate.

            “Certain non-essential amino acids (alanine, principally) are not synthesised from carbohydrates (glucose) but a by-product of glucose metabolism called pyruvate.”

            Thank you for explaining the chemistry. And I didn’t mean to give the impression that they were directly synthesized from carbohydrate. I amended that in the comment you just replied to:

            “I know at least some of them are formed from byproducts of carbohydrate metabolism.”

            Back to you:

            “However, since we can synthesise our own glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates via gluconeogenesis, we do not need to ingest either glucose or carbohydrates to get pyruvate or alanine.”

            I realize that, that’s why I had said in the event of protein deficiency carbohydrate can be used to form certain amino acids:

            “If you were protein deficient, you would fare much better with a high intake of carbohydrate than a high intake of fat.”

            If you are protein deficient you aren’t going to have any “non-carbohydrate substrates” to put through gluconeogenesis, near as I can tell. Last I checked we can’t convert fat to glucose. Correct me if I’m wrong.

            “Also, since you have to eat sufficient dietary complete proteins to get the essential amino acids the body cannot synthesise, you will also be getting a full complement of non-essential amino acids anyway.”

            EXACTLY what I said:

            “Protein deficiency, in a varied, high carbohydrate, low fat diet is almost an impossible scenario. As long as you have two high carbohydrate sources with complementary amino acid profiles, and sufficient calories, protein deficiency is extremely unlikely.”

            Back to you:

            “When you provide large amounts of exogenous glucose via dietary carbohydrates, you are also risking the creation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which are damaging.”

            I had my HbA1c checked while I was eat roughly 60 percent of my calories from carbohydrate and it was 4.9%, very good. Do you know why it was so good, because I’m an insulin sensitive person and can eat all the carbs I want. And I think all the other insulin sensitive people in the world should do the same, if it so pleases them. And there is no reason to believe that unrefined carbohydrates themselves cause insulin resistance.

            And in regards to your second last paragraph. I understand all that, but being “underfed and sufficiently nourished” is still an incorrect statement. Having enough energy to not wither away and die, in my opinion, is a major part of being sufficiently nourished. Perhaps “underfed but still have enough vitamins and minerals” is what you meant to say. In either case, you’ll still die.

            And really dense, concentrated fat sources are usually pretty vitamin and mineral poor. I’d much rather obtain 70% of my calories from potatos and bananas than butter and coconut oil.

          • Roberto says:

            “You are also over-inflating the importance of carbohydrates as a substrate for uses other than energy”

            You are over-inflating the importance of fat when you argue that because we need a few milligrams of certain fats each day, it’s somehow optimal to eliminate carbohydrate from our diet and get as many calories as possible from fat. Especially when those EFA’s you tout seem to be quite detrimental when our intake crosses a certain threshold. I could eat wild apples and probably meet my essential fatty acid needs just from the odd worm in them. And many of those EFA’s are found in plant matter.

          • Roberto says:

            But eat all your calories from saturated fat if you want, if you feel good doing it I see nothing wrong with it. Chances are, if you could never tolerate carbohydrates, you are insulin resistant. And that’s your battle. There are many insulin sensitive people in the world for whom healthy carbohydrate sources will never be a problem.

          • Roberto says:

            And that’s the biggest mistake the low-carb crowd makes. They constantly indict carbohydrates as though they’re the root of the problem, when they’re not. Insulin resistance is the reason people can’t tolerate carbohydrates. And when we try to convince the world that carbohydrates are the root of all evil for the obese, and not focus on the cause of insulin resistance, we’re just catering to their fundamental problem. And Gary Taubes would fail miserably if he tried to convince the world that sweet potatos, bananas and blueberries somehow brought insulin resistance upon us.

          • Alex says:

            Even vegetarians can get sufficient amino acids, so it is highly unlikely that anyone would be deficient in amino acids. Carbohydrates are only ‘protein sparing’ in as much as a majority of amino acids can be used for protein synthesis as opposed to a proportion (usually around 58%) being used for glucose synthesis. In studies where sufficient protein is supplied there is no need or benefit from adding carbohydrates with regard to protein synthesis. Indeed the amount of amino acids required for optimum protein synthesis to repair/build muscle tissue after an intense resistance workout is quite small – around 20g or so. In fact, we turn over protein quite efficiently (and weight trained individuals increase that efficiency even more) so our actual daily dietary protein intake need only be relatively modest.

            High fat whole (animal-based) foods do, indeed contain a lot more nutritive quality and in a much more bioavailable form than most plant foods and certain plant-based micronutrients are much better absorbed when eaten with a fat source like butter.

            Yes, if you are insulin sensitive you may appear to get away with a higher carbohydrate intake but insulin sensitivity can have its pitfalls. Studies show a high degree of insulin sensitivity can be a predictor of later obesity.

            As for exercise, depending on the duration and intensity, performance may be better with a higher carbohydrate intake but usually the amount of exercise is excessive, unnecessary and may not always be that healthy in the longer term.

            People can and do lead full healthy, physically active lives on very high fat diets with little to no dietary carbs – I am one such individual.

          • Roberto says:

            I would love to see that study suggesting that high insulin sensitivity is a risk factor for obesity.

            And I wasn’t talking about whole food fat source, I said dense, concentrated fat sources which are nutrient poor.

            And not all people feel good on low carb diets. Many feel absolutely miserable. I’ve encountered hundreds of anecdotal reports attesting to that. Some people feel better, look better, are more energetic and are healthier all around eating carbs. I’m sorry…

          • James says:

            Roberto, I sure do feel bad for our ancestors who must’ve been walking around miserable for 2 million years on their low carb diets.

            Have you ever seen someone who is trying to quit smoking, Roberto? They feel kind of bad. According to your logic, that means they must be healthier smoking. Again, you appear to have no idea what your talking about, or what a rational argument looks like.

          • Roberto says:

            Yes, because that comment you just made was such an insightful, well-supported argument.

            A lot of people go on low carb diets have their metabolisms slow to a halt and struggle with that for years. No, that is not equivalent to the low-grade withdrawal effects you get when you quit smoking.

            We’ve observed many cultures, thousands of people, thriving on low-carb diets over the past hundred years. Oh but I guess I should disregard them and go by speculations as to how we were eating during the paleolithic period.

            And once again, I reiterate, if you feel better eating zero carbs by all means do so. I don’t think such a diet is always incompatible with good health. And there are still countless people whose health has never been compromised eating carbohydrate and feel much better doing so.

          • Roberto says:

            “We’ve observed many cultures, thousands of people, thriving on low-carb diets over the past hundred years.”

            I meant to say high-carb diets.

          • Alex says:

            Agreed! Some people take longer to adapt than others.

          • Alex says:

            Sorry – I replied to my own comment (above) instead of yours! Search Google or Google Scholar – that’s how I find these studies.

          • Alex says:

            Concentrated fat sources that are nutrient poor? Such as? Would you class butter as a concentrated fat source that is nutrient poor?

          • Anonymous says:

            Obesity may not be a problem for insulin sensitive people, but diabetes, cancer, heart disease and alzheimer’s might. Given the evidence of the “diseases of civilization” following the expansion of carbohydrate intake in the diet, I’d be worried even if I was one of the lucky insulin sensitive people who could eat anything and not gain a pound.

    • Clark Dixon says:

      Hi Alex,

      I’m glad you cleared this up. Here I was under the impression that living organisms were separated from there environment by membranes that exchange energy and matter, making them closed systems.

      Obviously I was wrong, and things like cell membranes and skin do not in fact isolate organisms and cellular processes from the larger environment, and there are no active systems operating within biology to regulate the exchanges of energy and material from the surroundings.

      I’m glad you cleared this up with lots of yelling and no facts.

      Cheers,

      Clark

      • Alex says:

        Sorry for the ‘yelling’ – that was emphasis, by the way, I was not sure how to get italics or bold typeface!

        No facts? Did you look at the links? That biological systems are open systems is pretty much a scientific fact – just because we have membranes that stop us from oozing into our immediate environment does not mean that we are totally separated from it. Energy is not just dissipated from the body via heat; urine, faeces, sweat, etc. also contain a certain amount of calories not used or stored.

        • Clark Dixon says:

          Good, Alex. You’ve managed to realize that energy doesn’t evaporate into nothing. Now reconcile that with what nutritional research actually says and you might hit the mark.

          Here’s a hint: The Experts don’t say what GT’s strawman says. Discussion of calorie balance already accounts for inefficiencies and losses via other mechanisms besides heat; it’s implicit in the discussion because they were foolish enough to think that obesity apologists wouldn’t latch on to Gotcha magic in the form of insulin fairy-dust to claim that a single hormone disproves their strawman of thermodynamics.

          Go figure.

          • Alex says:

            And your point is?!!!

            Energy may not evaporate into nothing but it does bleed into the environment one way or the other. The thermodynamics you keep quoting only apply to closed systems (like the bomb calorimeter used to determine the caloric values of foods in the first place). They are designed specifically to prevent as much leakage of heat energy into the surrounding environment as possible, unlike living organisms.

            While it is true that the final caloric values given to foods take into account certain losses, they are not exact and must remain open to scientific review.

            Get over (equilibrium) thermodynamics – it doesn’t explain everything to any degree of exactitude outside of bomb calorimeters and combustion engines!

          • Clark Dixon says:

            Where does the mass in the adipose tissue of the obese come from, Alex? Thermodynamics doesn’t explain anything, clearly — except that magic insulin fairies create mass from nothing.

            God is always a preferable explanation to science with creationists.

          • James says:

            It comes from dietary fat. What’s your point?

          • Clark Dixon says:

            It’s almost like you have to ingest energy — in the form of food — in order to become obese.

            Radical! Thermodynamics must be wrong.

          • James says:

            Yes, of course you do. Again, what on earth are you talking about?! Where in the world do you get the idea that Gary says you don’t have to ingest energy to become obese. Again, the only logical conclusion I can reach is that you either didn’t read or don’t understand his post.

          • roy baty says:

            Tapdancin’ like a madman, James.

            Simple question to break your loop o’ question begging: What is the solution to becoming non-obese if one’s weight has gotten away from him/her?

            Let’s stop talking theoreticals and point out a solution. If thermodynamics isn’t relevant, obviously “eat less” isn’t a solution (despite the empirical examples of plenty of people doing just that, but I digress).

            Name a solution.

          • James42 says:

            Of course eating less is a solution. I know that. Gary Taubes knows that. If you consume less energy than you expend then you lose weight. Starvation works. It’s thermodynamics again. The problem is people don’t like to starve for very long, so they stop. The other problem is it has nothing to do with why the got fat in the first place.

            Lowering carbohydrate is another solution. For my first 8 years of medical practice, I advocated a low fat, low calorie diet to all my patients. Sent them to nutritionists, yada yada… And I watched them stay the same weight, get sicker, etc. I then read Gary’s book, and when I got to the chapter on thermodynamics I couldn’t believe how dumb I’d been for so long. And how dumb everyone had been for so long. It truly is mind boggling – and a public health disaster. So I started advocating low carb to my patients (and started doing it myself – I’ve always been skinny, but you should see the amount of fat calories I can put away now! And I weight what I was in high school!). And I watched as scores of patients lost weight, got off their blood pressure and cholesterol meds, and no longer needed their anti-diabetic drugs. The difference was astounding. So now I tell folks with metabolic syndrome that they can either continue taking insulin/oral agents for their diabetes, their cholesterol medication, and their 2 or 3 anti-hypertensives (to the tune of several thousand dollars a month) OR they can stop eating sugar and flour. It’s so ridiculously simple it’s sickening. If it weren’t for folks like Clark I’d be out of a job!

          • roy baty says:

            You mean that the body won’t react well to nutrient deficiencies? The hell you say.

            And you overreact to one dogmatic uninformed position by jumping on another dogmatic and only scarcely better informed position. I’m seeing a trend here. Learning how to assess evidence and think for yourself would suit you better than hopping bandwagons.

            Anyway — what does causing deficiencies in protein and healthy fats, by pushing low-fat/low-calorie diets, have to do with the magical powers attributed to low-carb eating? Here’s an idea: the availability of and requirement for nutrients is separate from the energy they provide.

            Your mind is blown.

            So you have a pet method of causing people to eat less food. Congratulations. You’ve proven that thermodynamics isn’t the cause by proving it’s the cause. Your rhetorical skills are to be commended.

          • James says:

            Sorry, Roy. On a low carb diet I consume on average 300-500 calories more (primarily in the form of fat) than on a standard, non-carb restricted diet, but weigh 15 pounds less. How is that eating less food again?

            You see, these hypotheses are actually testable. You can even do it for yourself – in fact, instead of hopping on one dogmatic bandwagon I’d suggest you actually test it as I have with myself and my patients! (and you’re right, my mind was blown when this happened! Had I not read Gary’s chapter on thermodynamics, I would’ve thought as you do that I was somehow defying the laws of physics!).

            Apparently you think thermodynamics “causes” obesity. And here I was thinking you thought it was because people ate too much or exercised too little (hint: learn what causality is. It should have been obvious from Gary’s post, but that must’ve been above your head. Anyhow, once you figure it out, come back)

          • “On a low carb diet I consume on average 300-500 calories more (primarily in the form of fat) than on a standard, non-carb restricted diet…” You measure this how?

          • Lagoonpt says:

            Things I do know are my Aunt passed away ten years ago but recently became a diabetic.

          • Razwell says:

            Nigel, please watch Dr. Jeffrey Friedman’s obesity lectures widely available on Google videos. You just might learn something – namely, that the bank account model of obesity is wrong. Obesity is NOT ” all about calories” ……..

          • I watched Jeffery M. Friedman at Nobel Conference 46.

            Friedman said “No-one becomes obese in an environment where there are no calories.” So, calories do count!

            He also said “Not everyone becomes obese when given free access to the calories.” So, everyone is different. Quel surprise!

          • Razwell says:

            Hello Nigel

            I am not necessarily a low carb fan. There could be many reasons Mark McPherson is not losing body fat . Your body can put up fierce resistance. Calorie counting is NOT what to do, nor dieting harder.

            Is Mark McPherson using drugs? Does Mark McPherson have Cushing’s or Acromegaley? Is Mark McPherson m orbidly obese? ( rememeber obesity’s genetic component is absolutely MASSIVE- only surpassed by height )

            Does Mark McPherson have a long history of dieting which has DAMAGED his metabolism, and RAISED his setpoint ?

            Science does NOT know how to get people to lose weight and maintian it. That is the truth.

            My point is that obesity is not well understood, and the advice of the bank account model of obesity does not work long term. The time has come to question the effectiveness of that approach.

            The body will rebel against dieting. Dieting makes you fatter long term by raising fat storage enzymes and raising your setpoint.

            The long term effectiveness of dieting is .001%

            Here is something for you to read.

            “The Validity of Claims Made In Weight Management Research”.

            http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/30

            James Krieger would do well to read that.

          • As for Mark, why don’t you ask him? While you’re at it, try explaining to FrankSwilliams why he’s gaining weight on a low-carb diet, when according to the insulin theory, carbs drives insulin drives fat accumulation drives weight gain.

            I know that losing weight is difficult due to human nature and the obesogenic environment that we live in (that makes companies loadsa money), but you’re not doing anyone any favours when you tell them “You can eat all you want and you’ll still lose weight & bodyfat as long as you restrict carbohydrates”.

            So, what should Mark & Frank do? Give up and stay fat because it’s just too difficult? Or accept that calories do count and try every possible trick in the book to avoid the obesogenic environment? I find Lucy Aphramor’s approach in your above link rather defeatist.

          • Razwell says:

            Nigel

            Where did I ever say all you have to do is restrict carbs? You are confusing me with a low carb advovate. I do nto advocate any particular dietary style.

            However, I am strongly against the bank account model of obesity because it has far too much contradictory evidence aginst it.

            Remember, Dr. Jeffrey Friedman ALSO said in that same video you watched:

            ” Allow me to suggest that advances in 21 st century medicine will alloqw us to do much better than simply reiterate a nostrum ( eat less, move more) which is NO MORE LIKELY TO WORK TODAY, THEN IT WAS 2,000 years back”

            You must have skipped over that.

            Remember, I am not necessarily a low carb guy ( not against it, either) I do not think insulin is the only explanation. Proper insulin responses can be your best friend. However, chronically elevated insulin levels for a very long time is a huge problem . ( although not the only problem) That is an incontrovertible fact. But there are other hormones and situations too that make fat loss difficult. But, yes the insulin hypothesis as the only explnation for obesity is not complete. Gary deserves credit for his attack on ther bank account model though. No one has solved obesity yet. Gary is not omniscient but no one is. However possibly incomplete his own theories for obesity are, it STILL DOES NOT change the fact that the model he is attacking ( bank account model) is WRONG, and has MUCH evidence against it. For that I support him and applaud him.

            I am a guy who knows the bank account model of obesity put out by James Krieger, and Anthony Colpo , and the rest of the dieting industry is dead WRONG.

          • Your writings give the distinct impression that you believe that carbs are inherently fattening and that energy balance has little to do with weight loss/gain.

          • Razwell says:

            Nigel

            Those guys with “letters after their names” include Dr. Jeffrey Friedman. The man is a genuis. What he says carries major weight. He is a top expert on the subject and has made one of the most important discoveries all time with regards to obesity. That is why I get his message out.

            Losing FAT ( not weight) is VERY difficult. VERY difficult to get shredded. The behavior of fat cells i BIOLOGICALLY regulated. The Laws of Thermodynamics do NOT explain the regulation and behavior of fat cells. That is biologically regulated, and a biological problem, Stephen Hawking and other top notch physics professors would admit this. Many people who lose weight have not lost miuch fat at all. They just look like smaller versions of their fat selves. This is NOT success. Still looking like a pear, but just a smaller pear is not good. I am not judging these poeple, i am just tryin to make the point that weight loss is just that – weight loss. The loss could have come from bone, muscle water and organ tissue. Skinny upper bodies and lots of saddlebags and belly. That is not success.

            The dieting industry takes concepts from the hard sciences and misapplies them to the softer sciences like medical science. .

            LIPODYSTROPHY cannot be explained by “thermodynamics” or the farcical bank account model of obesity.

          • Razwell says:

            Gary is uncovering some good things.

            Remember, the Austrian and German scientists from the 1930′s, 1940′s were the cream of the crop and some of the greatest scientists we ever had. ( although some associated with Hitler were morally bankrupt )

            Von Braun (that general era ) is the reason we went to the Moon. He advanced U.S. rocket technology to what it is today. Einstein was great too.

            The German and Austrian scientists at the time proposed and leaned towards a CHEMICAL/LIPOPHILLIC/HORMONAL /FAT CELL REGULATION/DISREGULATION hypothesis to explain obesity. Are calories a factor? Yes . But only one factor among many. Anyone who thinks obesity is ALL about the calories is just plain ignorant of the science.

            They were great minds back then.

          • Razwell says:

            Lucy Aphramor and Dr. Linda Bacon are not defeatist. They are putting out what the research has shown.

            The TRUTH is we are still figuring this obesity thing out. . Listening to the advice of the dieting industry does NOT work LONG TERM.

            Calories are one factor among DOZENS . However, we do not have control over many things about our body fat regulation . The body counts calories for us far more effective than we can – a point both Dr. Bacon and Dr. Friedman have said.

            Have you looked into the work a another scientist named Dr. Stephan Guyanet?

            i

          • Just because your favoured experts (may) have letters after their names doesn’t mean that they aren’t biased in their opinions. The solution to the obesity problem involves changing human behaviour so yes, it’s a tricky problem.

            If you’d bothered to take a look at my blog, you would have seen that Whole Health Source is in my blog list. I read all the blogs in my blog list.

          • Razwell says:

            Keep in mind I do not know Mark and mean no disrespect to his difficult situation. I am only putting out questions that need answering to answer Nigel’s question.

            In fact Mark’s experience fits in PERFECTY with what Dr. Linda Bacon is saying. Namely:

            *The playing field for fat loss is NOT equal for everyone- not by a long shot

            *People regain fat, DESPITE maintaining diet and exercise diligently.

            Please read Dr. Linda Bacon’s manifesto.

            Losing body fat long term, even short term is exceedingly difficult.

            DON’T EVER DIET. Dieting is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

          • David Isaak says:

            Well, the National Weight Control Registry database shows that those who eat low-carb maintain their weight loss while eating more calories yet eating less than those on low-fat diets.

            Now, of course, its possible that all of the low-carb people overestimate their caloric intake and underestimate thier amount of exercise, while low-fat dieters do the exact opposite…but I find it hard to see why that would be the case.

          • It’s obvious. Dieters that feel hungry a lot of the time feel like they’re eating very little, so they underestimate their food intake.

            LC’ers that are sated most/all of the time feel like they’re eating a lot, so they overestimate their food intake. Not all LC’ers get lucky, though.

          • roy baty says:

            You’ve measured your calorie intake? Really measured it, and not done the usual cognitive trickery of assuming you eat X calories per day, like literally everyone does and which has been verified in research?

            By the way James, look up what “cause” means. Thermodynamics does cause obesity. Overeating also causes obesity, due to the simple fact that energy doesn’t magically vanish or appear from nothing. If you’ve got fat stored in your body, then you had to ingest that energy. Newsflash: these things aren’t contradictory.

            I know you’re going to continue your song and dance by bringing up every point but this, and talking about how you’ve found Jesus I mean Taubes and your new holy book (while accusing me of being dogmatic, which is hilarious by the way).

            You really aren’t qualified to even have this discussion by the posts you’ve made so far. That you can’t realize there’s more than one “cause” to obesity (hint: the body might just be more complex than that) is telling.

          • Lagoonpt says:

            All I know is that I eat more calories on a low carb diet and I have lost sixty pounds!

          • “And I watched as scores of patients lost weight, got off their blood pressure and cholesterol meds…”

            I am so glad to read that your patients are experiencing success. Have you had patients that have barely lost any weight? I ask because once I started low-carb, I lost a lot the first week, but quickly tapered to zero losses, despite sticking to it.

          • REBECCA says:

            Guys it is clear that James never read GCBC, and he is not comprehending the basic premise of the carbohydrate / insulin hypothesis. James I say this not to be insulting but to point out, anyone welcomes discourse and disagreement but you must actually argue something, and make a point. Merely sarcastically making sneering comments is not furthering discussion. IF you disagree with a point, find valid scientific basis for your discussion and back it up please …

          • Jamessims says:

            You still obviously have failed to comprehend Gary’s argument. And you apparently have no idea what a straw man is.

            I feel bad for Gary sometimes. He presents these perfectly reasoned arguments, but the folks in the mainstream nutrition/obesity community appear to simply be too dumb to comprehend them (Clark Dixon, or “Mr. Einstein”, would be case in point). It’s quite a catch 22… Hard to reason folks out of a position they weren’t reasoned into.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            I like it when people can only reply with “you don’t understand” instead of actually arguing the points raised. Handwaving and useless flailing is often the last resort of the out-witted, I suppose.

          • James says:

            Well then for crying out loud make an argument! All you’ve done is completely mischaracterize Gary’s position as “creating mass out of nothing” and that there’s “insulin fairy dust” (there’s not even any mention of insulin in Gary’s blog post). None of this has anything to do with Gary’s post above, as numerous people have told you repeatedly.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            Oh that’s obvious, GT doesn’t mention insulin because he has no solution to the problem besides obesity apologism and telling the obese people that it’s Not Their Fault.

            The insulin magic is implicit, just not mentioned.

            You spin me right round baby right round….

          • Mokshasha says:

            Clark – first – GT is hardly apoplgizing for our chubby population – and is offering an **understanding** of why it’s happenning-

            please explain your view of “insulin fairy dust” magic please! when one looks at soooo many of the different angles on this – from Weston Price’s work to GT, to Dr Eades, Mark Sisson – AND you look at the results these people are getting following their advice – conventional dietary thinking just can’t deal with the results these people get on their recommended diets –

            however, the insulin “magic” (not magic at all) explains all this fully! my partner – neither of us overweight, has joined with me in virtually eliminating carbs from our diet and are concentrating on hi-fat meats, dairy and and we both are – over 2 months – continuing to experience weight loss and increasing muscle tone – all without any change in our moderately active lifestyle.

            please explain why this is happening in your dietary world view.

      • REBECCA says:

        Clark, I’m curious about your statement about organisms being closed systems … It is very easy to simplify grossly or misunderstand if this is not your area of expertise.

        If you account for every single interaction / reaction / exchange with no exceptions whatsoever, you can consider a single living organism unit a closed system. One cell would be a very very complex unit to quantify and describe. Also, no biologist in their right mind would presume to be able to describe / quantify EVERY interaction or connection with the environment of the cell (read some of the recent works on heat loss across permeable membranes, to get a small idea of what i’m saying here) .. As soon as you expand to multiple cells, you likely have gone to a level of complexity far too great to fully account for.

        In other words, living organisms are for sure NOT closed systems, in that we cannot possibly account for all energy exchanges. We don’t really have a handle on a single cell in a single organ in a single biological entity .. It would be ludicrous in the extreme to characterize a Human’s metabolism as anything but an open system.

        If you have science to the contrary, I’m sincerely interested in seeing it, as i’m sure everyone else here would be … The resulting equation for describing the energy balance in a human body would likely be hundreds of pages long … and pretty much impossible to ensure it’s accuracy …

        Oh and I like others am using capitals for emphasis, apologies if this offends, I find it convenient when typing.

        rd

        • David Isaak says:

          Closed systems are closed systems. If they have exchanges with the environment, they aren’t closed, period.

          One of the great questions of physics is whetehr or not the universe is a closed system.

      • David Isaak says:

        Living organisms do not qualify as “closed systems” in any thermodynamic sense whatsoever.

        I’m not a nutritionist. However, I AM a chemical thermodynamicist, professionally speaking. The fact that living things can grow in the first place means that they are not closed systems. Growth in a closed system is impossible by definition.

        Growth in an organism violates not only the First Law, but the Second, since in any closed system entropy always increases or stays at zero. Living systems are highly negentropic–which, of course, they achieve at the cost of greater entropy in the universe as a whole.

        No yelling, and 100% facts. Ask any physicist.

  126. Beth says:

    Lifeonmars wrote: “I know that we have cravings – mine fluctuate wildly during the course of the month due to hormone fluctuations I suppose. I don’t always give in, and when I do I balance it in some way. It works – and it’s about calories.”

    Therefore it all comes down to will-power, thus obese people lack will-power? Hormones are just trifling things to be overcome by abstinence and an internet support group?

    If insulin was a sex hormone, say testosterone, do you think its influence would be so easily dismissed?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, there was no hidden subtext or implied criticism in my post. It was a question based on my personal experience. If it’s not about calories in and out, then why does that work for me? As I said in the first sentence – I’ve never been overweight. Perhaps I don’t understand what it’s like as well as others who have struggled with weight loss – I’m interested in nutrition and the mechanics of weight management regardless.

      Paying attention to balancing my diet (eating from ALL food groups in moderation) and my average caloric intake works for me. Maybe there’s something else going on with very overweight people – but that was sort of the question. Why am I different, or maybe why are they different? And if it’s NOT about calories and activity level, then why do so many people have success losing weight when they reduce their food intake and start exercising? In other words, why does it work for some and not others?

      I understand that people are genetically different – but Mr. Taubes seems to imply that the calories/activity balance is wrong across the board. My experience and that of others doesn’t seem to agree.

      • Anonymous says:

        May be the answer is in a different degree of insulin sensitivity, or rather different ability to tolerate carbohydrates by different people.
        It is possible that GT didn’t singled out those who are definitely insulin sensitive from those who don’t because in time insulin sensitivity has tendency to increase. If you are familiar with his book, there is a whole chapter describing multiple observations by doctors and anthropologists how health of big groups of people changed after adapting Western-style diet. It usually took 20 years to see tremendous difference. On personal level I can asses that I was able to loose weight on a calorie-restricted diet in my 20 – 30 years, now, at 50, it is out of question for me. Only a very cow-carbing works right now.

        • Anonymous says:

          Possibly, but I’m 48 so not much younger than you. While it’s a bit harder now than it was 20 years ago, it’s still not that difficult. I grew up here so my diet has always been “Western style” but is perhaps more balanced and varied than a lot of people have. I make a concentrated effort to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts and so on, and I always pay attention to how much I am eating. I rarely drink soda or juice, so that cuts a lot of liquid calories and sugar. And I exercise…

          • Anonymous says:

            It looks like a different degree of insulin sensitivity for me. I have been
            eating healthy and exercised intensive myself, until at 45-46 I became
            constantly hungry and gained 26 pounds in one year,. After that I had to
            drop all that “a lot of fruits” snacking and turned to low-carb way of
            eating. My massage is – please, don’t consider any of carbohydrate food
            sacred, don’t think that exercise is an insurance again weight gaining.If
            you are hungry in two hours after your meal or experience an energy crash
            after eating – it is a sure sign of blood sugar level going out of whack.
            Watch your fasting BS level, if it is moving beyond 90 (or even 87), your
            are going into more insulin sensitivity.If you started to have problem with
            yeast and urinary tract infections – it is very probably linked to your
            blood sugar. I wish somebody told it to me at 45.
            I hope you will not need my warning and continue to enjoy your fruits.The
            last thing I want to add – after low calorie diets I regained weight each
            time, low carbing so far works much better + cured me of premenstrual mood
            swings.

          • Anonymous says:

            I agree 100 percent. Interesting thing about the fruits and vegetables bandwagon is that it exists almost independently of any clinical trials supporting it. There is copious observational evidence that people who eat fruits and vegetables are people who are healthier, but that evidence says nothing about cause and effect. And if we look at the anthropological literature, populations that ate virtually no plant products — the Inuit, African pastoralists like the Masai, and the Native Americans of the Great Plains — were considered the healthiest and most vigorous populations on the planet. That doesn’t mean they lived the longest, because we don’t know, but they were capable of feats of endurance that most of us couldn’t imagine today. So, yes, I’m not all that sanguine about the value of most fruit in the diet, nor do I think that exercise is an insurance against weight gain.

      • Anonymous says:

        Probably the answer is the different degree if insulin sensitivity. It is decreased with age. I could loose weight on a calorie-restricted diet at my 20, but not now, at 50.

  127. Beth says:

    7th paragraph down. Shouldn’t the 7000 calories for 2 years be divided by 730 instead of 365 for the daily calorie excess? Or have I just totally misunderstood this? Not that it makes any difference to the argument

    • Beth says:

      Cancel that. Just got it. 7000 calories per year, not 2 years. Doh!

    • GT says:

      Hi Beth,
      You’re right there’s an error. It should have said 7000 calories every year and then the 365 days is right. So thanks for pointing this out. I’ve edited the post to make this fix.
      GT

  128. Lelentzm says:

    Amen Alex and bless you Gary Taubes for writing GCBC. You changed my life for the better.
    As to thermo, if we humans were furnaces then the discussion about burning calories and emitting heat would be all there was to it. We are more than dumb furnaces, however. We eat for fuel, heat and structure. Nobody seems to ever talk about eating saturated animal fat and cholesterol for what constitutes our brains and immune systems- for materials and NOT only fuel. Cholesterol is NEVER used for fuel, dietary carbohydrate is nearly exclusively used for fuel (and storage fuel for later). The human brain IS cholesterol. The membranes of our 100 trillion cells are saturated fat and cholesterol. The axons of our 100 billion neurons (which if laid end to end would wrap around the earth 4 X) are fat and cholesterol. Fuel is all anybody mentions. We are more than fuel.
    ‘Calories in calories out’ applies to a closed system bomb calorimeter in a lab. I don’t know about anybody else, but “Survival of the Fattest” by Stephen C Cunnane and “The Other Brain” by R Douglas Fields, and GCBC by Gary Taubes (and a degree in chemistry), and a high-animal fat, high cholesterol diet have helped me tremendously.

  129. Lena says:

    I could not stop read your book “Good Calories and bad Calories” it´s so interesting. This article is just as entertaining and interesting. It is fascinating to read about how we can get fat by eating as little as 20 extra calories extra per day. In 1995 I weighted 58 kg (live in sweden), in 1995 I was 68 kg heavy but still not fat. After a pregnancy 1996 I was 68 kg and now 72 kg (after reducing carbohydrates and increased amount of natural fats in my diet). I have always been a lean person but also always frustrated to not to be able to wear my old trousers. In the future this might be the opposite? I feel I have the key to be able to reduce my weight even more (very slowly) by eating less carbohydrates and more natural fats.

  130. Clark Dixon says:

    So….

    When asking “why people get fat” the physical mechanism — thermodynamics causes accretion of mass when energy intake exceeds energy output — is named, and then labeled insufficient.

    The explanation lies in physical laws. But that’s not good enough. Heh.

    Are we concerned with the physical causes or with the interaction of psychology and physiology that leads to the behaviors? The thermodynamic answer is absolutely right; if you’re trying to move the discussion to behaviors, that doesn’t change.

    Trying to conflate the two is dishonest sensationalism and it gives the sound-bite cronies all the more reason to think that being obese is something outside of voluntary control. Which it is not for most people.

    Dysregulation or no, if there weren’t an abundance of food, cheap and full of calories, there wouldn’t be fat people. The problem is behavioral and mediated by the environment.

    • poor Clark says:

      Man, it seems that somebody long time ago never informed Clark that he was a moron. How unfortunate.

      Really, Clark, you’re apparently not nearly as bright as you think you are. Read Gary’s post again, then read your reply. If you still don’t get it, read it again. If you still don’t get it, ask for a brain transplant. If you have the option, ask for Gary Taubes’s brain. It’s apparently much larger than yours.

      • Major Tom says:

        worthless troll for $1000 Alex.

      • Mark S says:

        well, no need to call anyone a moron on here.. this is going to be a great blog so let’s respect Gary by not calling names and insulting one another.
        However I would like to ask Clark if he even read the post?? If so, please read again. Thermodynamics does not “cause” anything! Saying thermodynamics is the cause of getting fat is about as helpful as saying that gravity is the cause of me falling of a cliff! (a real cause would be.. someone pushed me or maybe I slipped etc…)
        Clark, read Gary’s post a couple more times.

        • Clark Dixon says:

          Where does the mass come from, Mark?

          Thin air? Magic fairies? Transdimensional insulin aliens?

          Mass doesn’t come from nothing. Turns out thermodynamics still applies.

          It’s almost like physiology can be influenced by interaction with the environment, and physiology can in turn influence behaviors, while behaviors can influence physiology. This might even happen while not creating energy from nothing.

          As an aside: if thermodynamics has nothing to do with the problem, if this magic mass is popping up from nowhere, why aren’t we hooking up Not My Fault obese people to batteries to to collect all this magical insulin power?

          Hint: I don’t disagree with the premise that certain ‘bad’ diets can skew nutrient partitioning through a variety of mechanisms, that they can effect metabolic ‘efficiency’, or in simpler terms, how and where ingested energy is used, stored, or returned to the environment. Nor do I disagree with the premise that this underlying physiology can influence behaviors, and in turn be influenced by behaviors.

          But to sit here and say “thermodynamics doesn’t play a role” is just flat lying. There are causes that nuance that explanation, sure. But if it doesn’t matter, then plug in the obese people and let’s get us some free electricity.

          • James says:

            Who said “thermodynamics doesn’t play a role”. Again, it appears you either haven’t read what Gary wrote, or you don’t understand it. His point is that the mainstream obesity community has misunderstood thermodynamics, assuming that there’s an arrow of causation in one direction. This is false. If you don’t believe it is false, then I’d like to know why. The only one creating a straw man argument here is you (though I doubt you know what it means).

            “Magic mass popping from nowhere”? Seriously, I really don’t think you’ve either read or understand Gary’s argument. Do you believe there’s “magic mass popping from nowhere” during pregnancy or puberty?

          • Clark Dixon says:

            So people won’t get fat if they eat too much?

            That’s an interesting take on the matter. Mass comes from nothing, only it doesn’t come from nothing because….cognitive dissonance.

            Dun dun DUN

          • James says:

            Sure they will. The question is why they eat too much. Holy cow, do you still not get this?!

          • Clark Dixon says:

            The “why” is a behavioral matter, or rather, behavior mediated via psychology.

            Great from a theoretical standpoint, not so helpful when it comes to the solution. Oh no I’m fat, what can I do? Taubes: sorry sucker, your fat is VICIOUS

            Turns out you can diet?

            Amazing.

          • James says:

            That’s one theory – and if you mistakenly believe that the energy balance equation works in one direction then it’s the ONLY theory you can think of. As Gary alludes to, there’s an alternate hypothesis. But it’s a hypothesis that you would only consider once you realize that the energy balance equation works in both directions (which you now do!).

          • Clark Dixon says:

            Oh and here comes the “theory” from someone that doesn’t know what theory means.

            Alternate hypotheses only work when they have evidence to support them and can demonstrate parsimony. Hint: starve fat people and they lose weight. News at 12.

            Dysregulation of fat tissue via dietary causes, which in turn triggers behavioral shifts and a feedback loop, is irrelevant if you take the damn food away.

            Stop eating = you stop being fat. It’s almost like this alternate hypothesis lacks explanatory power or any empirical evidence that isn’t better explained by Eat Less Food.

          • James says:

            Yes, the whole “stop eating” solution is working out great, isn’t it? Rates of obesity have plummeted since that became the party line, haven’t they?!

            But I must say I’m impressed you know the meaning of parsimony. I didn’t know you had it in you :-o

          • Clark Dixon says:

            Wow James, you mean when people don’t eat less and are in fact surrounded by an obesogenic environment of cheap good-tasting calorie-rich foods, that they don’t stop eating?

            That’s stunning. Amazing.

            It’s almost like putting your money in a pile on the street and telling people not to steal it is a good way to stop people from stealing your money.

            And your solution is to figure out “why” people want to steal your money.

            Brilliant!

          • James says:

            No, they stop eating when they get full. If that energy is being directed towards the fat tissues, or the bones of a growing boy, or the fetus of a pregnant woman, they’ll consume more energy before they’re full. It’s very simple chief.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            I take it you’re not at all familiar with research showing that people don’t stick to diets, have incredibly poor recall about what they actually ate, and are very poor judges of food intake when not held to a strict plan.

            Of course you’re not, that was rhetorical, lol.

            Point being, appetite and consumption, like every other cognitive bias in humans, has little to do with reality, and left to their own in an obesogenic environment a human will overconsume.

            Why are you this uninformed, James? It’s funny, but kinda embarrassing. For you.

          • So the solution is simple: Get rid of the obesogenic environment. Oh, wait. A large number of multinational companies ain’t gonna let that happen.

          • James says:

            No, on the contrary what I’ve found is that when you tell people “sugar and flour is making you sick”, they stop eating it. And they lose weight and get healthy. In spite of the powerful lure of the “obesogenic environment”, lol. No need for strict plans or measuring food intake ;)

            I appreciate you feeling embarrassed for me, Clark. If there’s one thing that’s clear from this discussion it’s that you do care about people. Well, at least unless they’re fat.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            So you take the “lie to people” and fearmongering approach, huh?

            ps what happens if they replace sugar and flour with fat and other high-density calorie sources and don’t lose weight?

            Ooops sorry my myopic bandwagon can’t fix your problem? Here’s your refund?

            lol

          • James says:

            And again, Clark, tell me how people gain mass during puberty and pregnancy (I keep noticing we answer your questions and you answer none of ours. Hmmm….).

          • Clark Dixon says:

            psst, James:

            Physiological signals stimulate growth. But 1) this is actually proven to occur, 2) this is a healthy, normal process of growth, and 3) starve a pregnant woman or pubescent child and see what happens.

            Hint: you won’t get a child or a full-grown adult.

            Hint: if you take away a fat person’s food, you won’t have a fat person.

          • James says:

            Hooray for Clark! So physiological signals stimulate growth to occur, and the person eats more. They didn’t grow because they ate too much or didn’t exercise enough, did they? They grew because the system was storing more energy, and it was growing more thanks to…..hormones. dun dun DUN. The energy balance equation works in both directions! And this is the only thing Gary is trying to point out in the post above. There’s no “creating mass out of nothing”, no suspension of the laws of thermodynamics. And now you understand it! Congrats, my friend, you’ve come so far ;)

          • Clark Dixon says:

            Amazing, you figured out what I said from my first comment. That is powerful. Powerful.

            ps what’s never been in question was that environment -> physiology -> behavior

            What’s been in question is the outcome, and in particular, the utility of the ‘why’. ‘Why’ people overeat is interesting to know but not a solution, and certainly not when “eat less” is the only realistic answer anyway.

            Otherwise you wind up with all these Martin Levac people thinking that it’s not their fault that they’re fat and they should just accept it.

          • James says:

            “Why people overeat is interesting to know but not a solution”!

            Did you really just say that?

            If we know why people overeat, we can prevent them from getting fat.

            Kind of like figuring out why people get lung cancer, and telling them not to smoke. Dude, what’s going on in that brain of yours?

            I don’t know who Martin Levac nor his relevance to this conversation. You’ve established that you don’t like fat people, and are threatened to think you can’t make fun of them anymore.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            You make it sound like I wrote a stunning piece of idiocy, when in fact what I said was that targeting the proper mechanism is going to be the common answer; knowing ‘why’ people overeat doesn’t mean anything if the solution is “eat less food”. The “why” isn’t an answer that provides solutions.

            This is like saying I can prevent a car from running out of gas by knowing why — the car not having gas is one cause, the driver failing to notice the tank being on E is another link in the causal chain.

            Altering the driver’s behavior is one way to fix the problem and this happens because — wait for it — you get him to fix the critical mechanism: the car’s out of gas.

            The behavioral “why” is irrelevant when it offers no solutions. Knowing “why” people overeat is like asking “why” the driver didn’t pay attention to the car; your solution has to address getting the gas in the damn tank.

            The rest is handwaving and apologism.

          • James says:

            Um, you did write a stunning piece of idiocy. Many stunning pieces thus far, in fact.

            Knowing why is very relevant. Just ask all my patients (not the ones who I used to tell that “eat less food” B.S. to, but the ones I told to stop eating bread and flour)! Once I realized the why of obesity and metabolic syndrome, the solution was very simple. And cheap! The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes…

            Perhaps I should tell them all that, according to Clark Dixon, their weight loss is defying the laws of thermodynamics! ;)

            It’s okay to be wrong sometimes, Clark. I was for many, many years.

            You and I both know this has nothing to do with any rational analysis of Gary’s argument, and everything to do with the fact that you just plain don’t like fat people.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            That’s a nice set of posturing and fallacies, James.

            Turns out that when you don’t actually try to refute points, make up strawmen, hurl insults and ignore cogent points, you look like a feeble apologist with no answers.

            At least I’m not the one trying to find answers that don’t deliver solutions. Turns out if you don’t eat you don’t get fat, and you’ve yet to refute that. You’ve done a spectacular job of tap-dancing, though.

          • James says:

            Don’t deliver solutions?

            Let’s recap – telling obese patients with diabetes and HTN to “eat less food” = epic fail
            telling them to stop eating sugar and flour = weight loss, control of blood sugar and blood pressure

            How is that not a solution?

            And yes, if you starve, you won’t get fat. My 3 year old can tell you that, Clark. Again, completely irrelevant and I have no idea why you keep bringing it up.

            So let me get this straight – I can avoid sugar and flour, eat till I’m sated and maintain a 6-8% body fat. Or I can starve myself and also maintain it. What am I gonna choose? Hmm…. Toughie, eh?

          • Clark Dixon says:

            So you really think you can’t gain fat w/o insulin? And here I thought you weren’t one of the Insulin Magic folks.

            Let’s play Occam’s Razor again: what’s more likely, that there’s WOW MAGIC happening, or that a diet of protein, fats and low-GI carbs is better at controlling energy intake with ad-libitum eating?

            I know you’re going to default to the MAGIC answer, since ignoring parsimony in favor of confirmation bias is what fundamentalists do, but I just want to see the flailing.

          • James says:

            So you do believe that low carb diets work, then! And here I was thinking you thought the solution was to tell people to “eat less food”. Well heck now we’re on the same page – you just have a different hypothesis as to why they work (the whole “controlling energy intake with ad-libitum thing). I couldn’t care less if you want to believe that it’s better at “controlling energy intake”. The fact is it works and helps people become healthier. My work here is done!

            And “Occam’s Razor” – verry nice, Clark! All them fancy words almost made me pee my pants!

          • Clark Dixon says:

            So you are unaware of how ASP can drive fat accumulation in the absence of energy?

            Oh, no, you aren’t and you’re just doing that tribal thinking, half-informed, cognitive-bias your reality thing that you folks like to do.

          • James says:

            “that tribal thinking, half-informed, cognitive-bias your reality thing that you folks like to do.” A well constructed argument boss! Straight from the fox news school of rhetoric. Airtight, my friend.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            More tapdancing and no point-addressing.

            Do you know what ASP is, and why it means you can gain fat w/o insulin? Can you explain why people still gain weight on low-carb diets?

            No, you can’t. Because you’re a tribal-thinker that jumps on bandwagons instead of understanding what he’s talking about. This model of low-carb = lose weight has poor explanatory power and no ability to troubleshoot if — horror of horrors — something goes wrong in the process.

          • REBECCA says:

            Anecdotally there are a lot of people who did not eat and got fat, then ate like crazy and lost weight. It is easy to explain weight loss under calorie deficit conditions …

            So how do you explain my own situation? 30 pounds gained over 2 years never going over 1800 calories a day, in fact averaging under 1300 (and yes i measured every bite with an accurate scale) … But then i followed a “no processed carb – low carb” and high fat way of eating, never EVER going below 2000 calories a day – averaging 2300 calories a day, never restricting my intake .. lost 50 pound in one year.

            That should be impossible according to you, yes? It is not only not impossible but there are many who have similar stories …

          • How did you feel on your old & new diets? Were you sluggish on the high-carb diet? Did you feel full of beans on the low-carb diet? You measured calories eaten but did you measure calories expended?

          • REBECCA says:

            Clark, do you really not comprehend that one of the main premises of this blog and Taubes book is .. wait for it … that the CAUSE of overeating is critically important?

            You are arguing in circles, but .. i’m astonished you are still not getting it. You may disagree with Taubes premise but .. the main focus of this whole topic is …

            It is important to know why people overeat …

            The answer is subtle and very important. It explains why “low fat, calorie restrictied” diets have less positive outcome than “low carb, unrestricted calorie” diets …

            If the answer is as simple as you are implying, and all of this is blather, answer these …

            Why do all calorie restriction diets (statistically) fail?

            Why in some populations do the hard working, energy expending ‘classes’ get fat while the upper tier “indolent” classes don’t?

          • David Isaak says:

            People won’t get fat if they eat nothing but sawdust, no matter how much they eat. But that sawdust is packed with calories (I’ve measured it in a bomb calorimeter in P Chem lab classes.)

            It isn’t about mass.

          • Doug Lerner says:

            That’s one reason why instead of bomb calorimeters, food calories are currently calculated based on digestible nutrients. The famous 4,4,9 values for kilocalories per gram of protein, fat and carbohydrate.

            Here’s an interesting article on the subject in Scientific American:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-do-food-manufacturers

            It points out that food manufacturers do not burn their food to measure kilocalories. As you can see in the article, indigestible fiber is subtracted before doing the calculations. That’s why sawdust won’t make you fat.

            doug

          • roy baty says:

            pssst James

            Look up the difference in ‘necessity’ and ‘sufficiency’

            might help you a little, just sayin’

          • Mark S says:

            Clark, the mass does indeed comes from food, but that doesn’t make food the cause of overweight. The mass of a house comes from bricks, but the cause of the house is the guy that built it.
            When you went through adolescence you began to grow taller and developed an appetite. But the cause of your growth wasn’t all the food you were eating, the cause was the hormones that were driving your growth. The vertical mass came was made up of the mass of protein and fat you were eating but the ultimate and true cause of your growth was the onset of adult sex and growth hormones. It’s the same with horizontal mass as well.
            And no, Clark, nobody is “flat lying” just because the disagree with you. It’s really simple and too bad that you just don’t get it… thermodynamics really has NOTHING to do with the CAUSE of overweight.
            cheers!

          • Tom Cullen says:

            Exactly right. And money has nothing to do with being rich.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            If I tell teh contractor building the house to stay home, the house doesn’t get built. If the shipment of bricks doesn’t show up, same thing.

            Again, fascinating thought experiment; but there are two variables which are downstream and have far more explanatory power: stick to a diet and don’t eat so damn much.

            ps adolescence is caused by pronounced and measurable changes in a whole slew of factors — hormones being only one of them, contrary to popular belief that hormones are causative agents — which can — wait for it — be verified and, strangely enough, don’t tend to cause fat gains.

          • JCCarter says:

            Mark,
            What happens if the builder is not supplied the bricks?

          • Galina L. says:

            I think, your mistake is in the oversimplifying. It is easy to understand. Body functions in a very complex way,it is almost impossible to get into all details during regular conversation. Not everybody here is trained in physiology (not me) and for the sake of argument and opportunity to explain , simplification is used.

            I don’t believe it is accurate to use the low of physics in order to explain the function of the body physiology.(but convenient for conversation)The mass increase or the physical job done are not only two outlets for used energy. How energy is used in the body depends on many things. Hormones regulate how a body work . Of course, there are many hormones except insulin, but insulin-glucagon balance regulate the fate of consumed calories. Insulin promote calories storage , glucagon -calorie release. If glucagon promotes release of calories stored before as a glucagen, is it in contradiction to the low of thermodynamic? Or if insulin promotes fat storage and prevents the use of fat as an energy source , does it mean that energy disappeared or gained as a fat?

            Probably your opponent said that “thermodynamic doesn’t matter” just because it doesn’t explain anything in physiology, only allows to oversimplify the explanation.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            “I think, your mistake is in the oversimplifying. It is easy to understand. Body functions in a very complex way,it is almost impossible to get into all details during regular conversation. Not everybody here is trained in physiology (not me) and for the sake of argument and opportunity to explain , simplification is used.”

            I’m over simplifying by acknowledging that complex systems aren’t ruled by single variables. I see.

            RE: thermodynamics, of course it’s just an abstraction. Nobody (well…) is concerned with precise energy flows and biochemical processes and inefficiencies and energy outflows and entropy…the point being, if someone is getting fatter, then the mass stored in their body is coming from *somewhere*.

            It’s not magically showing up because they eat carbs and insulin is released. There are reasons that will cause adipose tissue to store fat vs. release it, but there are no magical hormonal causes here; thermodynamics and energy balance will always be necessary causes, even if they aren’t sufficient.

          • Galina L says:

            I am glad we agree on something – there is no way to explain functioning of complex system by oversimplifying. My point is – there so much is going on hormonally, the energy in the system is getting distributed in so many complex ways (no one is assuming it is just getting lost), that it is counterproductive to be concentrated on lows of thermodynamic alone. I believe, that you will agree that there are a lot of unsolved problems in the obesity problem. People who try to explain the issue by the simple “calorie in – calorie out” model, in my opinion , just deny the necessity to look further for more explanations because in their mind the problem is sold . By reading your posts, I got an impression, that you do not mind using your brain. Then looking for more accurate picture of a body functioning shouldn’t make you upset. But you are angry somehow. Probably, you feel that all those self-indulging, lazy coach potatoes are trying to get of the hook and refusing to get accountable for their sins against the healthy lifestyle by denying lows of physics.Probably, there are some who do just that. Let them be. The are also enough of thin coach potatoes and nobody minds them. Or some who do drags or smoke. Lets not to discuss two completely different groups of people. Why is it , that for a big part of overweight population “exercise more, eat less ” model doesn’t work? Do you mind the search for the answer?

          • “There are also enough of thin coach potatoes and nobody minds them. ”

            I like this sentence! Very good and very creative…. and I think it’s true, as people who overeat BUT do not get fat are just considered to have a healthy appetite, while those us who DO get fat are perceived as lacking self-control.

          • montmorency says:

            Gary touches on this in GCBC. If you sit in a library all day, studying, then society regards you as a virtuous person. If you sit on a sofa all day watching television, society regards you as a lazy slob. There is an element of class snobbery going on here as well.

        • Mokshasha says:

          ATTENTION Gary – love that your blogging – but yer gonna have to take the reins and unload some of these threads (like the Clark saga) if you want people to come back and actually enjoy and intelligent discourse. I happen to agree that Clark must be something of what is claimed above in addition to having no life whatsoever –

          i really like your work but won’t bother coming back to the blog if there is just this prattle that doesn’t go anywhere – For example – i don’t know exactly how Eades and Sisson edit their blog responses – but it’s usually a pleasure and informative to read their entries, even the dissenters –

          Clark is just a boring and contrary person with no serious argument of any interest – PLEASE deal with this or your blog runs wild and misses any point–

          thanks!

    • Galina L. says:

      Do you mean that they stupidly eat 20 extra calories a day? What a reckless behavior!

      • Clark Dixon says:

        Then again I could be arguing that mass appears from nothing because of a hormone, and that strict diets don’t work because people don’t like them.

        I figure it’s the lesser of two evils, you see.

        ps lol @ 20 extra calories per day. simplistic math ftw.

    • Razwell says:

      Thermodynamics do NOT at all explain the regulation of fat cells or their behavior.

      Obesity is largely NOT in our voluntary control. Read Dr. Linda Bacon and watch Dr. Jeffery Friedman’s lectures.

      Your body fat is controlled by complex systems and feedback loops.

  131. Smoran8m says:

    Interesting article. I struggle with these same issues myself and am very interested to see what you have to say.

  132. Fhcory says:

    The big paradox is that the Glycemic Index itself refutes the conventional hypothesis.The further down the G.I you go the more you defend the alternate hypothesis. Guess who lives at the bottom of the G.I. ?Good ol’ Dr.Atkins! He was right all along! My dying wish is to have the conventional medical/corporate “unholy alliance” publicly apologize for the professional assassination of Dr. Atkins

  133. Gary, thank you so much for asking the questions you have asked, and for bringing the data to light. One of the questions you asked in this blog was why supposedly educated people bypassed the thought process with respect to rote ideas, with the result being what John Tierney, a columnist for the NY Times Science Section, calls an “informational cascade”. http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/how-the-low-fat-low-fact-cascade-just-keeps-rolling-along/

    One of the most valuable contributions of your writing is the example you set of reasoning through the problem. It seems to me that as a society, we are in the process of abdicating our power of reason in favor of worship (and unthinking worship is never good in any context).

    Dallas Willard, a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, claims that in Aristotle’s day the basic definition of an educated person was that he could apply reason to form a fair estimation of whether the professor was making a valid case for whatever subject he was teaching. Willard also claims that a course in basic logic was eliminated as a requirement about 50 years ago in most college institutions. If these things are true (admittedly, I haven’t checked them independently) then by Aristotle’s measure, most college graduates are uneducated. As for junior high students: I have one, and I have to say she isn’t yet known for applying careful reason to her decision-making process:-)

    Your comments re: Jean Mayer (in your Stevens Institute talk, I believe) are a good example of emphasis on reasoning. As I recall you described Mayer as someone who has said a lot of smart things and a lot of stupid things. Your characterization of Jonah Lehrer reveals the same focus on looking at “what”, not “who”. Although childish, it is oh so easy to adopt a party mindset and view an authority as “good” or “bad”–and then extend that view to everything he says–rather than using reason to distinguish between smart and stupid claims that often issue from the same person. Thank you for the reminder to pay more attention to what is being said than to who is saying it.

    To that end, I would like to see an online, hyperlinked (to the degree possible) edition of the GCBC bibliography, encouraging your readers along the journey you took, that we may be further empowered to base our reasoning not only on your analysis and your presentation of selected quotes, compelling as it is, but even more on the underlying context. Such a reference would further support the growth of conclusions based on reason.

    Keep it coming, and thanks again for your tireless and careful work in this area! It is transforming my health and my family’s health.

    -chris

  134. Laurie D. says:

    So looking forward to the new book. I loved GCBC but it is hard to recommend to friends who are a bit less science-minded. I always find it interesting that some people seem threatened by the information you present. My guess is that it goes against what they believe (like a religion) or worse, sell. I think my proudest moment after reading your book and talking about it in my Anatomy class, was when one of my 17 year old students went out and bought the book for herself (and read it). Hopefully, we will have a new generation of medical professionals out there who will not preach the calories in, calories out dogma.

  135. Robertoo says:

    It won’t let me respond to your last comment Alex. I think the thread is getting to long, so I’m trying it here.

    Yes, butter is very nutrient poor, whole milk isn’t, but butter is.

    When you reach that link, set the serving size to one cup. That’s 1628 calories of butter. That would be roughly two thirds of the average persons daily calories. If you look at the nutrient breakdown, the only thing butter provides substantially is vitamin a. It provides appreciable amounts of vitamin e and vitamin k, but still only 26% and 20% of the RDA, respectively. It provides negligible amounts of every other vitamin and mineral. If you ate almost all of your calories from butter, with say a chicken breast or two to get enough protein, you would without a doubt perish from vitamin and mineral deficiency. So, at two thirds of your calories, the amount I’ve gotten you to look at, you would have to make damn sure the other third of your calories came from very nutrient dense sources. In other words, the more butter you eat, the greater the chance of you developing a deficiency.

    And please don’t say that nutrient breakdown is based on industrially produced butter. The difference between it and grass-fed is not going to be that substantial. When you remove the butter from milk, a lot of healthy components get left behind. Butter is not, in and of itself, life supporting. Whole Milk is, without a doubt. You could last a very long time eating nothing but whole milk. It is one of the most life-supporting foods on earth, a close equivalent to the milk we all survived off of in the first years of our life. But you can’t touch it!!! Over a third of it’s calories are from carbs!!!

    • Roberto says:

      This is weird, I put the link to butter on the nutrition data website in that last post, but with the link in there it wouldn’t allow the post, I tried 10 times. Then when I took the link out it let me. So, go to nutritiondata(dot)com and search butter if you’re interested in looking at it.

      • Alex says:

        You appear to be associating the term ‘nutrients’ only with micronutrients, i.e., vitamins and minerals, what about the healthful fatty acids found in butter fat? Many of the short and medium chain saturated fatty acids found in butter have health benefits.

        You are also constructing a straw man argument by giving the impression that a high fat diet comprises blocks and blocks of butter with the occasional chicken breast thrown in for the protein.

        My definition of a high fat diet is to eat whole animal foods (including the attached fat), a little cream (for sauces, etc.), some butter (for sources, cooking, etc.) other dairy like cheeses (full-fat), whole eggs (lots of good fats in the yolks), etc. Are you seeing a pattern? You are not just getting the fats but also the protein, vitamins and minerals.

        • Roberto says:

          Yes, Alex, I’m aware of that. And I never once said that eating in such a manner is necessarily unhealthy. Although, it certainly is for a lot of people. Some people need carbs, for you to say that they don’t would be as arrogant as me saying that you’re lying about feeling good on a low-carb diet. I can’t feel good on low-carb diets, no matter how hard I try. And don’t give me that ‘your body just needs time to adjust’ shit. Raw foodists say that too, right up to the point where their teeth fall out. When I eat an abundance of carbs, and as much fatty food as I crave, I’m more energetic, my skin is clearer, I’m stronger, I think more clearly, life is just better. When I ate low-carb, I was congested, I couldn’t think of words, I had foul body odor, I was constipated. I didn’t like that, and it was not getting better.

          And, to top it all off, I had my HbA1c checked after several months of carbohydrate restriction and it had actually gone up slightly from when I had it checked eating a massive amount of carbs. So, if it’s not even keeping my blood sugar lower on average, why on earth would I keep eating and feeling that way? Many people, who are insulin sensitive, have this experience with low-carb diets. I’m sorry, but they do.

          And 90% of low-carbers who I say this to respond with: “Oh, but, but, but have you not read “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. Carbs spike insulin and insulin makes you fat.” It’s becoming a cult. You’re not unlike the vegans out there with their precious “China Study”. I’m surprised you haven’t gone to war yet.

          You were setting up a straw man argument when you were using essential fatty acids to demonstrate the superiority of fat based diets. In a mixed, high-carb diet, the possibility of a person developing an essential fatty acid deficiency is next to none. An egg and half a fillet of salmon and you’re good to go.

          “You appear to be associating the term ‘nutrients’ only with micronutrients, i.e., vitamins and minerals, what about the healthful fatty acids found in butter fat?”

          There are healthful fatty acids in a lot of high carb foods as well. But we need very small amounts of them. And all the research suggests that we’re getting too many of them. For the last time, the fact that certain fats are essential is no argument to give up carbs and load up on fat. That is silly. That would be like me saying ‘our bodies need a certain amount of glucose in the blood at all time, so I think we should give up fat and eat nothing but carbs, because they’re the best source of glucose’.

          “Many of the short and medium chain saturated fatty acids found in butter have health benefits.”

          I’m not denying that, I eat plenty of them, but I don’t have to give up carbs to do so.

          And have you ever read about the insulin index? A group of researchers compared the insulin response in test subjects to 38 different foods. Like the glycemic index, but with insulin instead of glucose spikes. And what did they find? Well, here’s a summary from Mark’s Daily Apple:

          “While Holt and her co-authors found a high correlation between glycemic index and insulin index measurements, they stumbled upon an intriguing exception. High protein, virtually no-carb foods like meat and eggs, while low on the glycemic index, measured high on the insulin index. In other words, while the meat and eggs didn’t cause a spike in blood sugar the way most carbohydrates do, they did result in an unexpectedly significant rise in insulin.”

          Ouch, Gary Taubes really got caught with his pants down on that one.

          • Anonymous says:

            how was he caught with his pants down? i dont recall him saying carbs are the only way insulin can be produced.

          • Take a look at Page 24 of Complete Notes to Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.
            “▪ so: carbs = glucose = glycerol phosphate = trigs = fattening”
            He’s saying that carbs are needed to get fat.

          • Anonymous says:

            and where does it say carbs are the only way to produce insulin? you know, pharmaceutical companies have been manufacturing insulin for diabetics for decades now–they dont use bread and sugar. im sure taubes is aware.

          • It’s irrelevant whether or not serum insulin is raised due to dietary carbs or dietary protein. From the above link:-
            “◦ insulin plays a huge role: nutrient storage hormone
            ▪ primary role: store away blood sugar (too much is toxic)
            ▪ other roles: primary regulator of fat, carb, and protein metabolism; glycogen synthesis; fat synthesis and storage in cells and liver, and inhibiting the release of that fat; and more…”
            That isn’t correct anyway. Insulin’s primary role is to inhibit the release of fatty acids from fat cells and the release of glucose & ketones from the liver. Insulin enhances the uptake of glucose by cells (via Glu-T4) but glucose can enter muscle & fat cells without insulin (via diffusion & Glu-T1).

            I’m sure you know how insulin is produced in the body, so don’t talk nonsense.

          • Anonymous says:

            youre going off topic. see my reply to roberto and start over if you wish.

          • REBECCA says:

            Nigel? You do know that Glu-T1 is primarily the mechanism for glucose entry across the blood-brain barrier, yes? It could be that you misunderstand or it could be that you are just not being clear here, but Glu-T1 is primarily in endothelial and erythrocytes … It is a minor player with muscle and fat cells, you know this yes? As per
            http://www.nlm.nih.gov/cgi/mesh/2010/MB_cgi?mode=&term=Glucose+Transporter+Type+1
            For the purposes of this discussion it is not relevant.

          • There is definitely Glu-T1 in muscle & fat cells.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20727851
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17320047
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12712244
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8895337
            By “minor player”, are you suggesting that the amount of glucose transported by Glu-T1 & diffusion isn’t enough to provide sufficient G-3-P? The fact is that there’s always enough G-3-P. See
            http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2010/12/oh-nevermind-taubes-and-g3p.html

          • REBECCA says:

            No, gluconeogenesis – especially in a low carb diet – can cause spikes in glucose levels. You need to learn more before you get so very angry on this topic …

            Exactly what researcher would not expect an insulin rise for meat consumption? Only an ignorant one. However, for normal folks it would not cause problems.

            For those of us already with a problem, things are different, we have to be very careful.

            i suspect one of the problems here is that the recommendations would be quite different for 2 different populations …

            1. Normal weight / non-metabolically harmed people

            … avoid processed carbs, eat enough good fats, … etc etc (just like you seem to be advocating)

            2. overweight and/or metabolically impaired people

            .. low carb, watch the insulin reaction, etc etc etc

            One of the recent problems is, sugars are slipped into almost everything nowadays. Cold cuts, packaged soups, meat balls .. all have LOTS of sugar or corn starch or HFCS. I once tracked a friend who was “low carbing” and she had 15 grams of this junky sugar in a day that she was unaware of, all slipped into foods that classically she considered low or no carb (take a look at artificial crab at some point!)

          • “No, gluconeogenesis – especially in a low carb diet – can cause spikes in glucose levels.” In a type 1 diabetic, yes. In someone who secretes insulin, proteins produce a glucagon and insulin response. Glucagon raises BG. Insulin lowers BG. They cancel each other. Proteins have a GI of ~0.

          • REBECCA says:

            It seems apparent that in (metabolically) “normal” people long-term very low carb way of eating results in normal, stable blood glucose levels. There is a great movement now amongst physicians in Canada working with First Nations populations (some over 50% Type II diabetes) to return them to a very low carb diet, because of some terrific results from clinical trails … None of these populations have reported anything but reversal of symptoms and good, normal health indicators all around.

            I have seen data that seems to show very high protein in the absence of enough fat definitely can lead to high blood ammonia levels etc, and this was definitely an outcome of gluconeogenesis, yes?

            None if this has been studied enough, there’s a lot more to be done, in fact that really is the point here … we need to push the agenda to re-introduce solid facts into this whole debate …

            AS for your assertion above, Nigel … You seem to claim that gluconeogenesis is not something that needs to be considered here (unless i misunderstand you). My thinking here is, in long-term very low carbers their blood glucose appears to be stable and their insulin responses are normal (Bernstein cites references to back up his claim to this effect, especially in the context of type II diabetes, but also in “normals” – and it is supported anecdotally by my own situation and history here).

            The blood glucose from non type I diabetics is stable for a reason when eating very low carb. Their insulin responses during meals is apparently normal (i.e. normal phase I and then sustained phase II).

            So where do you think their blood glucose comes from, the low carbers who have been at if for years? Remembering that there is no evidence of poor health outcomes from years of following this way of eating?

            If you wanted to paint accurate picture of the hormones that are lurking to raise blood sugar you should also include adrenaline(epinephrine), somatostatin, cortisol, ACTH, growth hormone, thyroxine .. the list is extensive. The interactions are astonishing and i truly believe our understanding as yet makes “tip of the iceberg” an understatement. Hugely complex …

            I still keep coming back to the fact tho that, with data we have in hand today, there seems to be nothing to contradict that long-term adherence to low carb – even VERY low carb – seems to be without negative impact on health indicators. It is documented to have good impact on type II diabetics and others with pre-diabetic symptoms and indicators (again, going by Bernsteins assertions, among others).

            Read Bernstein carefully and you won’t be surprised by high protein diets causing insulin reaction, it’s normal physiology and very much expected.

          • “I have seen data that seems to show very high protein in the absence of enough fat definitely can lead to high blood ammonia levels etc, and this was definitely an outcome of gluconeogenesis, yes?” I am familiar with “Rabbit Starvation”. How is Rabbit Starvation relevant to the general population?
            “AS for your assertion above, Nigel … You seem to claim that gluconeogenesis is not something that needs to be considered here (unless i misunderstand you).” You misunderstand me. I was merely pointing out that in non-type 1 diabetics, the increase in hepatic glucose production due to dietary protein is “cancelled out” by the increase in serum insulin due to dietary protein.

            In Type 1 diabetics, there is no increase in serum insulin due to dietary protein (unless they inject a bit more to cover it), so there is an increase in BG due to dietary protein.

            I have read Bernstein’s site. I’m in favour of low-carb diets (I’m on one). I’m just against pseudoscience.

          • Warren Dew says:

            The serum insulin from dietary protein “cancels out” gluconeogenesis by driving the glucose into cells including fat cells. It’s “cancelled out” from a blood glucose stability standpoint, but not from a fat gain standpoint.

          • Anonymous says:

            Since you mention Canada: Have you seen the new Canada Medical Association website asking for public comments on topics such as Canadians’ Responsibility for Health Care. Many responses blame the individual for being overweight, being too lazy, not exercising enough, eating too much, being too old (boomers will use up too much health care), not understanding calories in/out, etc. Your comments would make a good counterpoint.

  136. Richard says:

    Or I suppose, in the case of putting too much air in a balloon, and it pops, obviously the answer to why it popped is too much air. That much is simple. The question is why was too much air put into the balloon? Just as obviously the answer is, at this point, in terms of the balloon, that we don’t know why. Putting air into a balloon is a very limited system, or we suppose that it is, but the human “system” and its digestive system, and the interaction of the human with its surroundings is a lot more complex. The argument that Taubes makes is that to propose that excessive storage of fat is caused by some simple voluntary or willful act misses the point altogether.

    Taubes proposes that the cause of excess fat storage is physiological. That does not mean that the calories consumed are somehow balanced with the calories needed. Instead his proposal is that the body “decides” how much fat to store. (And, considered properly, the issue of obesity is excessive fat storage.) Now, it may happen that in a properly functioning metabolism the calories consumed are roughly in balance with those expended, but the key word is roughly. Instead of exact balance, the body decides how much fat to store. So we are not talking about energy balance directly, we are talking about fat storage and excessive fat storage, and only indirectly, and to the extent necessary, about energy consumption.

    Fat is being burned all the time and fat is being created in the body. In addition, fat is available as food in the environment and is being, or can be, consumed. One major underlying issue or question is whether eating fat makes you fat. Saying that eating fat makes you fat is not much more scientific than saying that eating tiger hearts will make you brave and fierce. Or, simply put, are fat calories more fattening than carbohydrate calories? This is like asking which weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?

    Instead, what Taubes and others are saying is that excessive consumption of carbohydrates, in a sense substituting carbohydrate calories for saturated fat calories, rather than eating saturated fat, makes the body think that the situation for the organism, in its environment, that there are not enough fats to eat in that current environment. There is a physiological reaction to fat deprivation: The body wants to have a certain amount of “fat” on hand on the body and wants to have it available to burn for energy and it takes into account the fat available to the system in the environment. When the body “perceives” that there are no or very limited fats available to eat at all (as in a low-fat diet) the various fat creation and storage systems make and create fat to protect against the low-fat environment. Eating less and less fat to lose weight is just more evidence to the various bodily systems that the environment is seriously lacking in proper fat sources. Hence the body makes and stores its own fat, and excessively, in terms of our perception. The immediate impact and result is excessive caloric consumption of carbohydrates, precisely because there are no dietary fats available. If one then looks solely at caloric consumption, rather than at what the body requires for proper nutrition, the excessive consumption of carbohydrates leads too easily to the misguided thermodynamic explanation. The thermodynamic explanation is misguided because the body can and does regulate fat creation and storage. It is not a simple system. The body is not a balloon.

    Apparently, as well, long term fat deprivation, and excessive carbohydrate consumption, leads to strange and undesirable metabolic results.

    Comically, of course, getting fat (that is to say, excessive fat storage) turns out to be a willful act, a voluntary act, but one based on good intentions, in the sense that in the hope of losing weight, or maintaining a proper weight, people voluntarily eat less fat, and more carbohydrates. This is of course, the entirely wrong thing to do, and the result is a metabolic disaster.

  137. JCCarter says:

    ..

  138. Bob Terwiliger says:

    “So now the question: if all you have to do to become obese is store 20 extra calories each day on average in your fat tissue — 20 calories that you don’t mobilize and burn — what does overeating have to do with it? And why aren’t we all fat?”

    Probably because your math is wrong and based on questionable assumptions in the first place, namely that this is a smoothly linear process that can be traced down to a small daily surplus of calories. Sensationalist, a convenient sound-bite, and misleading.

    How many people are actually making an effort to count calories? How many people have any idea what their calorie needs are, compared to their expenditures, and take steps to restrict that intake?

    You’re right on one point — left to their own, the average person will tend to overeat. But this is not a dysfunction; this is an organism ill-equipped for a world with cheap, readily available, calorie rich foods.

    “They don’t have mirrors or clothes to tell them they’re getting fat, and the world is full of animals that have plenty of food available all year round, plenty of opportunity to overeat if they want to and do so long enough to get chubby. And yet the only animals that get chronically obese are those that get their food directly from humans – in the laboratory, in the home or the zoo, or at the dinner table, since humans happen to be animals, too.”

    So you mean that animals that have unlimited supplies of tasty calorie-rich food given to them, with no expenditure of energy, get fat, and animals in the wild don’t? How revolutionary. It’s almost like animals that aren’t in an obesogenic environment with a commensurately higher settling point don’t overeat.

    “Considering the fact that not getting fatter year in and year out means literally matching energy in to energy expended without error for years on end, do we really think that this job is done by the brain, by either conscious behavior, or some system that listens to signals from the body and then puts a halt on eating behavior when it decides enough food has come in that the amount so far expended or likely to be expended in the near future is about to be exceeded? Here’s the idea: your gut is sending signals to this monitoring system in the brain and that monitoring system is tallying up calories consumed until it finally senses that it’s near the limit of intake. Uh oh, it’s thinking, that last bite of that hamburger is not going to be expended, abort abort! Put down the fork! Walk away from the table!”

    Is that right?

    Here I’d have sworn that there was no fine-tuning involved. I’d have sworn that not-getting-fatter was a product of not eating more than I consumed, on average, not precisely matching without error for years on end. As if that were even possible; as if that’s how biological processes regulate. By this logic, the positive feedback mechanisms shouldn’t be possible in living systems. And yet somehow, it happens despite your incredulity.

    Also, you might do well to note that regulation of body mass doesn’t function with ‘weight management’ in mind. It functions on the basis of preparation for famine, whereby storing fat makes good sense in the plain old utility calculation that evolution produced because that’s what keeps mammalian organisms alive when food is scarce.

    Speaking of evolution –

    “If you were designing an organism that didn’t accumulate excess fat in the fat tissue (in other words, any organism that isn’t human or isn’t getting fed by humans, directly or indirectly) would you leave it up to a different organ entirely, an organ off-site so to speak (the brain), to assure that calories consumed matched calories expended, so that no excess energy managed to somehow sneak into the fat tissue, without the fat tissue having any say in the matter? Or would you give the regulation to the fat tissue itself and let it do the job?”

    If I were designing an organism for that purpose, and for some reason I was limited to using the ad-hoc mechanisms that evolution was forced to use, then I expect I’d come up with the same solution.

    To whit — “leaving it up to the brain” is inaccurate. The brain’s regulatory mechanisms are signaled by leptin and other hormones — conviently linked to reward behaviors mediated by dopamine in the mesolimbic system, a whole separate bag of chips — and exert influence on the body in return via hormonal actions.

    To say it’s “left up to an off-site organ” is wrong. Regulation of fat mass is a product of local regulation and central regulation working through integrated networks. To say it’s a binary either/or thing is to be misinformed. Fat tissue does indeed play a large role in storage of fat.

    This is tantamount to saying that systemic factors don’t influence recovery from an exercise bout because most of the tissue remodeling happens due to actions intrinsic to muscle tissue. Which is equally incorrect. Central and peripheral factors are always at work.

    Amazingly enough, satiety and appetite are influenced by energy intake, thanks to that nasty leptin signaling from fat tissue affecting reward networks and ghrelin signaling from the GI tract affecting appetite and — it’s almost like this isn’t a simple thing that boils down to “dysregulation of fat tissue”.

    Unfortunately the premises leading to the conclusion are wrong. It’s not true that calorie intake must be precisely matched with output; nor is it true that regulation of fat mass is exclusively governed by the brain.

    • Razwell says:

      Counting calories does NOT help LONG TERM weight regualtion. Real experts such as Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Jeffery Friedman have addressed this. Read my blog thoroughly, which has their lectures and manifestos.

      Also read “Calorie Monitoring” on the FAQ section of Dr. Linda Bacon’s site, where she takes apart James Krieger’s MISINFORMATION.

      I have news for you, Bob. Dr. Friedman DISCOVERED leptin and most certainly is the TOP expert on how it works.

      • Bob Terwiliger says:

        Your argument would be more compelling if you addressed the points instead of appealing to authorities, Razwell.

        Claiming “these people say you’re wrong” and “this person DISCOVERED what you’re talking about” isn’t particularly helpful or insightful.

        • Razwell says:

          I see your point, Bob, but acknowledgeing and defering to the experts is not appeal to authority.

          Also these points are all addressed in detail on my blog.

      • Clark Dixon says:

        Bacon? Seriously, Razwell? Bacon, who says:

        “Quite aside from the lack of scientific support to suggest that dieting is successful, I find the idea of monitoring and restricting food quite sad. Seems so disempowering to give up our internal felt sense of what’s right to some outside authority’s idea of appropriate foods or amounts, no? I’d miss the joy and spontaneity in eating. And I love knowing that I can trust myself. Every time I think of diets, I think of some women I once saw standing near a buffet filled with food. One looked at the display and said, “Oh, I really shouldn’t.” Another commiserated, saying, “It really is tempting, isn’t it?” They all looked on sadly. Who wants to feel like they constantly have to monitor and fight their desires?”

        This is saying “exerting willpower gives me the creeps” and her entire argument is framed in those terms. She’s making a classic confirmation bias error and framing her entire argument based on what she wants to be true. The biological explanation doesn’t equate “being full” with healthy eating; it explains that your appetite is more concerned with storing energy than with maintaining a stable weight. Conscious intervention in that process is wrong because her intuition doesn’t like it.

        Oh, and conveniently explain away the fact that obese people can become non-obese via calorie restriction by labeling them genetic outliers — even though the current obesity problem only began in the 70s and 80s. Apparently history had a lot of genetic outliers and people evolved in three decades? lol

        Yeah, that’s compelling as hell isn’t it? It’s sad when people can’t overeat and give in to every biological impulse, therefore dieting doesn’t work. You could say the same thing about rape or murder, as those are biological impulses caused by neurochemical networks too. It’s sad looking at that guy that wants to stab you, but he can’t because society will judge him. lol

        • Razwell says:

          Obesity has BEEN AROUND SINCE 23,000 B.C.

          • Clark Dixon says:

            In a startling proportion of the population? Try again.

            Do I need to understand the difference between “happens at all” and “happens in a majority of people”?

            That’s a rhetorical question. Because obviously you don’t get it. Easier to say that humans evolved in a single generation, lol

          • Razwell says:

            WATCH Dr. Jeffrey Friedman’s lectures. This is discussed. You are absolutely wrong.

            Obesity’s genetic component is only possibly surpassed , possibly , by height alone. FACT.

            Studies of international samples of monozygotic twins show this, as does the genetic work of Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, who is one of the world’s TOP EXPERTS on obesity and a nobel level scientist.

            I am sorry you keep on looking to defend a failed bank account model of obesity rather than look for truth. That is what Anthony Colpo does and he and James Krieger are NOT good scientists at all.

        • Razwell says:

          Yes, Clark., Dr. Linda bacon

          Dr. Linda Bacon is a TOP expert and VERY familiar with the literature. Much more so than James Krieger.

          You obviously have NOT read my blog , ALL posts and in detail , nor have you watched ALL of Dr. Jefrrey Friedman’s lectures on Google videos and YouTube, or else you would know these points already……..

          Weight egulation is over YEARS. NO ONE can conciosuly match MILLIONS of calories ingested over years to MILLIONS of calories expended . Furthermore claorie labels are NOT accurate many times.
          Willpower is a MIRAGE.

          What Dr. Linda Bacon says is correct. DIETS DO NOT WORK. This is shown over and over again. No matter how many times they re[peat the epxeriments and refine their methods, it is always the same result. Diets do NOT work LONG TERM .001 % success rate.

          The elite NWCR poeple are NOW REGAINING, DESPITE maintaning their diet and excericise.

          Dieting RAISES SET POINT. Dieting RAISES fat storgae enzymes.

          Please read my blog. I am tired of repeating this and re addressing ALL of this which is THOROUGHLY discussed on my blog in DETAIL.

          People like Maunuel Uribe NEVER become normal , NOR do they/could they maintain it. True medical obesity currently has NO CURE. FACT.

          To real scientists obesity is full of uncertainty and unknowns Only Internet crackpots think it is simple and certain……..

    • Anonymous says:

      “Probably because your math is wrong and based on questionable assumptions in the first place, namely that this is a smoothly linear process that can be traced down to a small daily surplus of calories. Sensationalist, a convenient sound-bite, and misleading.”

      I think the author was asking a rhetorical question and is not assuming the process to be as smoothly simple as eating an extra bit of food every day. It sounds like you think that he is. Also, the math is correct. If 20 additional calories were stored each day without output you would gain weight.

      “So you mean that animals that have unlimited supplies of tasty calorie-rich food given to them, with no expenditure of energy, get fat, and animals in the wild don’t? How revolutionary. It’s almost like animals that aren’t in an obesogenic environment with a commensurately higher settling point don’t overeat.”

      The point is that animals in the wild don’t get fat even though they have the opportunity to consume more calories. Animals eating human food are the ones developing obesity problems even though they have the same choice of eating more. A lab rat doesn’t have to eat the tasty food if it doesn’t want to. The comparison between wild and domestic is a relevant point despite your remarks.

      “To whit — “leaving it up to the brain” is inaccurate. The brain’s regulatory mechanisms are signaled by leptin and other hormones — conviently linked to reward behaviors mediated by dopamine in the mesolimbic system, a whole separate bag of chips — and exert influence on the body in return via hormonal actions.”

      Again, it appears that the author is not saying that it is left up to the brain, but instead suggesting otherwise.

      “Unfortunately the premises leading to the conclusion are wrong. It’s not true that calorie intake must be precisely matched with output; nor is it true that regulation of fat mass is exclusively governed by the brain.”

      I don’t think you comprehended the article when you read it. The author did not use any of those as premises and the conclusion, if any, is that overeating is just stating the obvious while most people extend it to be the cause.

  139. FrankSwilliams says:

    Gary, I have a question.

    I started a low carb diet after reading the excellent info on the magicbus site. I made some great losses the first week, which people told me was water, but then I gained weight, slowly, over the next month or two. Why would have this happened?

  140. Razwell says:

    This study is extremely WELL CONTROLLED and reputable. They had intensive advice from nutritionists to maintain their diets. You would know this if you were informed.

    Read my blog Nigel and stop dancing around the issue that your hero James Krieger was torn apart by Dr. Linda Bacon on the FAQ section of her site called “Calorie Monitoring”

    James uses small sample size, SHORT TERM, NON reputable studies. No REPUTABLE LONG TERM study has ever shown that diets work long term for the treatment of obesity . NONE.

    Calorie counting is a mirage. Our weight regulation systems are VERY LONG TERM – YEARS- not meal to meal or day to day or month to month.

    We do NOT have concious control over our weights to a very large degree.

    Your bank account model is wrong. See all the contradictory evidence from reputable studies at my blog.

    • If you think that the use of self-reported FFQ’s makes for a well-controlled study, you’ve lost the plot. Did you even bother to read the info’ in the above links? When energy intake and energy expenditure are measured precisely, energy balance determines weight gain/loss (barring water weight changes).

      I already know that trying to count calories doesn’t work for a lot of people as a lot of people won’t tolerate hunger pangs. This is why diets that naturally reduce energy intake (e.g. low-carb diets) work. However, even on a zero carb diet, you can’t stuff yourself silly and not gain weight. Dietary fats can be stored as body fat in the absence of dietary carbohydrates. The sooner you learn how the human body works, the better.

      I looked at your blog but I wasn’t impressed. There are no truths in diet & nutrition. There is only evidence for or against a particular hypothesis.

      • Anonymous says:

        james d. here… you can gain weight without carbs, but its not necessarily because of fat consumption. there are alternate ways for the body to produce insulin. carbs are picked on because theyre the main reason people have high blood sugar levels, prompting increased insulin production, prompting increased fat retention.

        • Try living on 1kg of protein a day (4,000kcals/day) & nothing else apart from a few grams of EFAs and let us know how you get on. I’d advise you to look up “Rabbit Starvation” first.

          Body fat is mostly influenced by dietary fat, also carbohydrates if on a high-carb low-fat diet with an excess of calories.

          • Anonymous says:

            what i meant was, level of fat consumption; consuming more fat does not mean you will hold onto more fat. the amount of fat retained by the body is not regulated by the fat itself. thats the crux of the matter.

          • Net change in bodyfat stores = Fatty acids stored (derived from dietary fat in chylomicrons) – fatty acids released.

            Assuming that you’re sedentary (typing on your computer, say), you’re burning approximately 1kcal/minute. Assuming also that 100% of that is obtained from fatty acids (its anything from 0% to 93%), a maximum of 0.11g of fatty acids can get burned/minute. If you eat 50g of fat, where do you think that it goes? It’s toxic if it sloshes around in the blood for too long, so it’s cleared from the blood into bodyfat stores. This does not require raised blood glucose or insulin levels.

            Therefore, the more fat you eat, the more gets stored relative to what gets burned.

          • Anonymous says:

            insulin plays an important role in regulating how much is stored. fat stores and fat burning arent the only two paths for fat. if the fat cannot be burned or absorbed by the body it is expelled through other means–doesnt need to be burned with exercise. this is why many low carb dieters, who dont exercise or cut calories, lose weight.

          • “insulin plays an important role in regulating how much is stored.”
            Dietary fat alone produces no insulin response. If you drink 100ml of olive oil and nothing else, where does the fat go once it’s in the blood? The fat in blood can enter fat cells (as fatty acids) even at basal levels of serum insulin.

            “if the fat cannot be burned or absorbed by the body it is expelled through other means”
            Name them. Moderate ketosis only accounts for ~4kcals/day.

          • Anonymous says:

            urine, sweat.

          • Urine only accounts for ~4kcals/day as ~0.812g/day of acetone (no fat is lost in urine) given moderate ketosis (~7mmol/L) and ~2L/day urine. If I’m generous and assume that equal amounts are lost in sweat & breath, that makes ~12kcals/day. About 5g/day of fat is lost in faeces, so that’s ~45kcals/day giving a grand total of ~57kcals/day. That accounts for ~6.3g of fat per day.

            So, where did the other 43.7g of olive oil go? Into bodyfat, that’s where!

          • Anonymous says:

            youre just adhering to an ideology, nigel. lots of people have lost weight despite switching to higher calorie/fat diet. ive done it myself. you can keep repeating what youve read as many times as you want though.

          • I’m adhering to Human Biochemistry. You can’t answer my question because you haven’t studied how the human body works. Check out “My Carb Sane-Asylum” and “Adipo Insights” (in the blog list of my blog).

            Unless you’re as obsessed as a body-builder and weigh absolutely everything that goes in your mouth, you have no idea how many calories you’re eating. People are hopeless at estimating their own energy intakes. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVjWPclrWVY

            Does it matter anyway? What you’re doing works for you. So keep on keeping on. I’m not anti low-carb dieting. I’m just a stickler for accuracy in how they work. Telling people that they can “eat all they want and still lose weight on a low-carb diet” is setting some of them up for failure.

            Anecdotal evidence is not data.

          • Anonymous says:

            not human biochemistry but the study of it rather; strong opinions, however well-founded they seem =/= fact. i.e., “it’s cleared from the blood into bodyfat stores. This does not require raised blood glucose or insulin levels.

            Therefore, the more fat you eat, the more gets stored relative to what gets burned.”

            unfortunately, your conclusion, while intuitive, is not correct. more fat =/= more fat stored. there are exceptions. so there is something else involved, but youre fixated on intake and expenditure. not looking at the bigger picture.

          • “unfortunately, your conclusion, while intuitive, is not correct. more fat =/= more fat stored.” Why should we believe you? You haven’t provided any evidence to support your statement apart from your n=1 experience. You haven’t explained where 50g of dietary fat goes. I’ve attempted to quantify it. You haven’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            i dont care if you believe me–and what is this “we?” youre speaking for yourself, nigel. the fact is, your conclusion that more fat = more fat stored, is incorrect.

            heres your problem: your conclusion suggests that fat stored is directly proportional to fat consumed–a constant. i highly doubt you believe no matter how much fat is consumed at different times, the body will hold onto the exact same percentage of it every time. this discrepancy alone denotes a problem with your conclusion.

          • I would hope that there’s more than 1 person reading this blog, hence the plural. You still haven’t provided any evidence to support your “The fact is”.
            “your conclusion suggests that fat stored is directly proportional to fat consumed” No it doesn’t. I wrote “Body fat is mostly influenced by dietary fat” and “Therefore, the more fat you eat, the more gets stored relative to what gets burned”. Where does that suggest proportionality? It means that as one increases, the other increases.

          • Anonymous says:

            “No it doesn’t… Where does that suggest proportionality? It means that as one increases, the other increases.” did you seriously just write that? read that a few times. think about it.

          • *sigh* http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/proportional “At a constant ratio (to).” Now do you get it? I’m done here.

          • Anonymous says:

            youve been done.

            you believe more fat = more fat stored.
            you believe retention is not directly proportional to intake–which i predicted you would
            now heres your problem, simplified even further:

            premise: person eats same number of calories every day
            premise: person does not store same amount of fat everyday
            conclusion: more fat =/= more fat stored

            basic logic, nigel.

          • REBECCA says:

            I have a request, can we be civil here? I don’t know about others but i am a member of a Low Carb High Fat diet group (have been for years) and I measure everything i eat (yes, everything, every last thing i eat an drink – with the sole exception of ‘eating out’ and then i estimate best i can, and that’s not too frequent) and use an on-line respected calorie counting software package. Have an interface in my cell phone that makes it easy and have created / measured many recipes, and use an accurate kitchen scale.

            Your point about anecdotal is correct (i.e. it is not science), but we find it adds interest to the situation and stories and helps some folks get context. My own story is startling in how it supports the low carb way of eating but that really is beside the point when it comes to Taubes.

            His main focus always was in the beginning that all dietary science is BAD SCIENCE. His thing has always been, back up what you say. He would have written an article and gone back to his physics writing had he not been appalled by the sloppy soft research and the absolutely insane interpretations, not to mention wild unsubstantiated claims, out there.

            Anyone can have an opinion but the real quest here is, let’s pursue the science correctly. All of the dietary studies to date have been (at best) cohort studies, and (at worst) completely badly structured. That is not a problem as long as no claims are made and huge, life threatening decisions don’t flow out of them (“eat margarine not butter” when they were full of trans-fats, this was a big result that killed a lot of people) …

            Let’s focus on the science. I don’t write well, unlike Taubes. I think we should either support or refute what he says here, and not degenerate into name calling and unsupported claims or snide remarks …

            My own anecdotal story: I averaged 1300 calories a day(not once over 1800) for 2 years and gained nearly 30 pounds during that time period. Changed to a diet that eliminated processed carbs and emphasized natural good fats (butter, animal fats, olive oil to some extent) and ate to satiety … average 2300 calories a day.

            IN the last year i have lost 50 pounds (even tho – while i needed to – that was not the intent of my dietary changes). I eat as much as i want whenever i want. i have had stints where i am eating 3000 calories a day for more than a few days in a row without gaining weight.

            Taubes advocates more research, and to have every claim backed up by science. If you dispute something he says and can explain it well and back it up, it adds to the discussion my opinion is that it adds to the enjoyment of this blog. If it is just kneejerk poking, as some have done here, it detracts from the purpose.

          • David Isaak says:

            The plural of “anecdote” is “data”.

          • CarbSane says:

            That may be a cute saying, but it’s not applicable to science. Even a lot of anecdotal data must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt because of the huge variables of human suggestibility and fallibity, which is why we have “placebo” controlled studies.

            I can understand the enthusiasm. I’ve lost and kept off probably close to 100 pounds eating mostly low carb. I share my “secret” when asked. What I can’t abide, however is the Atkins style exaggerations so many seem willing to fall prey to. It’s as if LC is some sort of Ponzi scheme where it’s all about sharing the “wealth” by gaining more converts. So what if a huge percent are disenchanted when they discover that they can’t eat humongous portions and not gain weight.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sorry if I interrupted the dialog,I just wanted to add that Dr. Bernstein (the one who is the author of “The Diabetic Solution”) experimented with his patients nutritional needs and he found out that no amount of liquid oil (I believe it was an olive oil, but I am not sure) that people consumed as an addition to their 30 gram of carbs a day diet created a weight gain or it influenced their insulin responces. If I remember properly , all participants were young males. I have no idea how their bodies sorted our that oil and don’t remember any explanations.

          • Hi galina. See Fig. 2 & 3 in http://www.ajcn.org/content/26/2/197.full.pdf
            When energy intake exceeded 4,000/day, the subject’s weight increased. The subject in Fig. 3 was consuming about 1,000kcals/day less than the subject in Fig. 2, hence the lower rate of weight increase in the corn oil subject compared to the olive oil subject.

          • Warren Dew says:

            I’m generally on a ketogenic diet, and here’s what happens if I eat just fat. First, it gets stored within the gut for significant amounts of time; it doesn’t all get absorbed right away. What does get into the bloodstream gets processed into ketones. Excess amounts appear to get pooped out – that’s likely why my poop floats when I’m in ketosis, and not otherwise.

          • If you had a significant amount of fat in your poop, you’d know about it! It’s called steatorrhoea (a.k.a. the soily oilies) and it’s horrible. I had it when I was young, due to a temporary liver problem.

            The calcium salts in milk products can form calcium soaps with fat, but that only accounts for ~10g of fat/day.

          • Warren Dew says:

            That can happen at first, and did happen to me at first. Eventually your body, or your intestinal flora, adjusts, at least on the paleo diet.

          • Anonymous says:

            If you eat 50g of fat, does it all have to be absorbed by the gut? Wrap it in a plastic bag, and it passes through your GI tract without possibly adding to your fatty acids in the bloodstream. To think that there aren’t other biological mechanisms that can reduce the absorption of calories in the GI tract, and that 100% of the calories placed into the mouth must reach the bloodstream, is a stretch, don’t you think?

          • “If you eat 50g of fat, does it all have to be absorbed by the gut?” Pretty much, yes. Over 95% of dietary fats are absorbed during digestion (unless you’re taking a lipase inhibitor or drinking liquid paraffin or eating Olestra). Unabsorbed fat appears in the faeces and too much causes steatorrhoea (“soily oilies”). Yuk!
            “Wrap it in a plastic bag…” Who eats food wrapped in a plastic bag? Now you’re just being silly.
            Protein absorption is generally >95% (apart from raw egg whites, which is <60%). Unabsorbed proteins ferment in the colon causing smelly wind.
            Carbohydrate absorption is generally 100%. Unabsorbed carbs (e.g. lactose intolerance & sugar alcohols) ferment in the colon causing colic, diarrhoea & wind.

          • Anonymous says:

            My bet is that even with 95% absorption of dietary fat, that’s probably the upper end of some spectrum, and the “soily oilies” probably represents some much lower percentage of absorption.

            Citation?

          • My first reply contained a link and has disappeared into the spam filter. Please be patient!

          • REBECCA says:

            Oh dear, Nigel. This is not metabolically accurate. You need to study how fat is stored. Quite a few questions from this, like “what level is toxic? and what do you mean by toxic?” as well as “cleared from the blood into bodyfat stores” … You understand that fat metabolism and storage is a dynamic process .. Can you please cite any reference materials that show that the “chylomicron – to – fat cell” level for sure translates to stored triglycerides in adipose tissue? That is what you are claiming here, yes? That is rather one of the main points of fat metabolism that in actual fact refutes what you are saying above, unless i am wrong no-one has actually proven what you have said .. or have they? I stand to be corrected, but please cite properly your answer …

          • What’s not metabolically accurate and why? RE Toxicity: High serum triglycerides (TGs) are atherogenic. See http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/triglyceride-and-chylomicron-stacking.html

            After a high-fat, low-carb meal, serum TGs are raised until they’re cleared from the blood. See http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/gretchens-postprandial-experiment.html

            “That is rather one of the main points of fat metabolism that in actual fact refutes what you are saying above…” Can you back that statement up?

          • David Isaak says:

            Uh-huh.

            Can you please explain why high-carb diets invariably raise triglycerides–around the clock, not just temorarily–and low-carb diets invariably lower them?

          • You are forgetting that there is a difference between postprandial (pp) TGs and fasting (f) TGs. Did you not click any of the links in my above post?

            High-fat diets raise ppTGs a lot but lower fTGs. High-carb diets raise fTGs (if kcals in > kcals burned on average) but do not affect ppTGs.

          • Warren Dew says:

            Indeed – and it’s the high fasting levels from high carb diets that are associated with heart disease, not the moderate postprandial levels from low carb diets.

          • CarbSane says:

            High carb diets only raise trigs if chronically hypercaloric, and/or in conjunction with high fat consumption.

          • Anonymous says:

            youve been done.

            you believe more fat = more fat stored.
            you believe retention is not directly proportional to intake–which i predicted you would
            now heres your problem, simplified even further:

            premise: person eats same number of calories every day
            premise: person does not store same amount of fat everyday
            conclusion: more fat =/= more fat stored

            basic logic, nigel.

          • A = B – C
            A is change in fat stores. B is fat intake. C is fat burning.
            If A increases, B increases but B is not proportional to A. You’re ignoring C.
            If B is constant, A is constant only if C is constant.
            Basic arithmetic, James.

          • Anonymous says:

            fat burning occurs after the fact, after fat is stored. that wouldnt make a difference anyway, unless youre saying expenditure is the only thing that leads to a constant intake not yielding a constant percentage of the intake stored. but this would necessitate proportionality…

          • “fat burning occurs after the fact, after fat is stored.” Incorrect.
            Living humans always have some fat in their fat cells. Fatty acids (FAs) are constantly exiting & entering fat cells. Futile cycling is one way that the body generates heat. Fat burning is an ongoing process and the amount varies with exercise, muscle glycogen level, serum insulin level etc. Fat intake is also continuously varying. When intake exceeds burning, there is a net input of FAs to fat cells and vice-versa. I have other things to do now. Good night.

          • Anonymous says:

            oh, by fat burning you now-just mean fat loss in general–when people say “fat burning,” theyre usually referring to its use as fuel for something like walking, or running; like how cars ignite fuel to propel themselves. with that said, i wonder why you felt it necessary to qualify your hypothetical with sedentary behavior… lol

            “Assuming that you’re sedentary (typing on your computer, say), you’re burning approximately 1kcal/minute. Assuming also that 100% of that is obtained from fatty acids (its anything from 0% to 93%), a maximum of 0.11g of fatty acids can get burned/minute. If you eat 50g of fat, where do you think that it goes? It’s toxic if it sloshes around in the blood for too long, so it’s cleared from the blood into bodyfat stores. This does not require raised blood glucose or insulin levels.

            Therefore, the more fat you eat, the more gets stored relative to what gets burned.”

          • “oh, by fat burning you now-just mean fat loss in general”Classic strawman fallacy. You state that I mean “X” which you then argue against when I actually mean “Y”.
            I gave a worked example for which I had data. Don’t blame me if you’re too dense to understand it.

          • Anonymous says:

            lol, you get caught backpedaling and accuse me of misrepresenting your claim. lolol. accept your errors and move on, mate; no one who can read english properly is going to buy it. the only thing id blame you for is wasting peoples time. i understand perfectly well what it is youre saying, and thats a problem for you.

          • REBECCA says:

            Nigel, can you please back up your statement “body fat is mostly influenced by dietary fat” .. I’m sincerely interested to know your rationale for that and how you can back it up …

          • Certainly. essayiste posted a link to this but you may not have seen it.

            http://www.ajcn.org/content/61/4/952S.full.pdf

            See Fat oxidation and fat balance on Page 3.

  141. Ivan R says:

    Gary: I like the books, like the blog. The comments, not so much. They degrade — as usual — to a slugfest between know-it-alls talking past each other.

    But keep up the blog.

  142. Mokshasha says:

    ATTENTION Gary – love that your blogging – but yer gonna have to take the reins and unload some of these threads and commentors (like the Clark saga) if you want people to come back and actually enjoy and intelligent discourse. I happen to agree that Clark must be something of what is claimed earlier in addition to having no life whatsoever – his responses are mostly sarcasm with no substance and he’s sabotaging your blog responses.

    i really like your work but won’t bother coming back to the blog if there is just this prattle that doesn’t go anywhere – For example – i don’t know exactly how Eades and Sisson edit their blog responses – but it’s usually a pleasure and informative to read their entries, even the dissenters -

    Clark is just a boring and contrary person with no serious argument of any interest – PLEASE deal with this or your blog runs wild and misses any point–

    thanks!

  143. Hi Gary,
    I’m so glad you chose to do a blog, as your book has dramatically changed how I think about my own experience with morbid obesity. I had never considered that the calories-in/out hypothesis could ever have been wrong, or at least, misinterpreted, as like everybody else, I simply assumed that if I took in more calories than I expended, I got fat. Additionally, when you weigh 350 lbs (I do), others assume your life, or at least eating, is “out of control”, yet, I wondered why my weight was so stable, albeit high.

    After I read your book, I decided to do Atkins. Although the first week was stellar (I lost 10 pounds), subsequent weekly losses were sometimes at zero. I don’t know why, as I kept as close to 20 grams of carbs per day as possible. Even if I wasn’t perfectly at 20 grams, I was pretty darn close. I thought I would have lost weight simply given that I’m really fat and there mere lack of bread, sugar, etc., would have shown on the scale.

    So, this has caused me to wonder… based on my own experience… if calorie intake does play some role. Here’s what I wonder: although carbs are the MAIN culprit in terms of producing fat, I wonder if there is a correlation between QUANTITY of food and insulin response. For example, if I have ½ pound of steak and have a certain insulin response, would my insulin response double if I ate a full pound of steak, thereby making me fatter? I have no idea what’s true, but I only when I got on the scale and had a zero loss, I was devastated.

    I welcome your thoughts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not sure how long you’ve been at this, so maybe this won’t be helpful. I lost 106 lbs in 5 months. On a monthly basis it was linear 21 lbs a month. But within those months it was not linear. I’d plateau for 4 or 5 days, maybe a week and then suddenly drop 5 or 6 lbs.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are more things to try – increased intervals between meals, not eating late at night. There is a wonderful book by Dr. Eades “6 weeks cure for middle-age middle”. Hold on.

    • REBECCA says:

      Mark, one thing that happened to me .. if i end up too high protein and not enough fat by percentage, i stagnate. Every time. Typically i find i have gone high protein / lower fat as well as low carb, and that for me is a problem. I add high fat sauces and butters and that makes me fuller and increases enjoyment. My calories up to about 3000 a day, i start losing weight and my appetite drops …

      I never gain tho, worst that happens is i plateau.

      None of this “made sense” until i read Taubes. Although actually that is not fair of me, as i studied nutrition and metabolism at an agricultural school … Animal nutrition is based (at least more often) on good science (sooo much easier to chop up animal organs and study the fallout from a particular diet, not to mention putting them in cages and controlling all the variables ..)

      • One of my goals is to learn how to make high-fat sauces. What kinds of vegetables do you eat (and that still allow you to lose weight)?

        • Anonymous says:

          I hope you will not mind my answering. I like to cook and it makes any diet manageable. The most popular high-fat souse is the Hollandaise http://www.helpwithcooking.com/sauces/hollandaise-sauce.html. Another easy option is using liquid from a meat or chicken stew (with cream or sour cream). The low-carb way of the thickening the liquid is using a Xanthan Gum. You will need a very small amount, carefully dusted over the surface. It gets lumpy easily.
          There are a lot of veggies to use. My preferred choices are eggplant made in a Foreman grill served with some nice stake drippings, homemade sauerkraut, stir-fries.There are a lot of good culinary recipes on http://www.proteinpower.com on the Mary Dan Eades blog and on http://blog.yourlighterside.com/

  144. Anonymous says:

    I have bad news for you. The only reason why Jonah Lehrer seems competent is because he is typically writing on things that are typically not *your* field of expertise. If he is the best science writing has to offer, the field has a lot to answer for. Don’t take my word for it. Ask some actual researchers, e.g. in decision making what they think of how Lehrer represents the field. Given the platform he has acquired, he might improve with time. But so far, it is all quite asinine.

  145. Anonymous says:

    Great post, I’m so glad that you’re finally blogging!

  146. REBECCA says:

    Correction, it was not James. My apologies :) I was meaning to say Clark

  147. M H S says:

    I really enjoyed reading GCBC, and I have already preordered WWGF. I have a request about format. Do you think you might ever authorize an audiobook form of GCBC or WWGF? In the case of GCBC, I beg you to make it an unabridged work. I play educational audiobooks when I work at home, and GCBC is one of my favorite nonfiction titles, one I reread portions of frequently.

  148. Dear Mr. Taubes,
    I could not agree more with your comment: (A common problem with most science and health writers is that we often write about a different subject every week or month, so if we’re being fed nonsense by the local experts in any particular field we will typically pass that nonsense along to the readers because we don’t know enough not do otherwise.)

    In our book (available from Jaunuary 13th 2011) with the title:
    EATING HEALTHY AND DYING OBESE… ELUCIDATION OF AN APPARENT PARADOX…
    we have a chapter: Science ‘feeds’ confusion’, which is worthwhile reading (I will send you a copy, please indicate a postal adress).
    The book is a scholarly written science (even for scientists!).
    By reading the book, you might discover why your philosophie belongs in the chapter ‘half-truths’ (please read the coverpages of the book by opening this link:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12992606/BOOK1-COVER-PAGES%201-4_8.12.pdf
    Healthy and sugarfully greetings from Switzerland
    Leoluca Criscione

    http://www.google.ch/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=5h&oq=leoluca+criscione&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4SKPB_deCH293CH293&q=leoluca+criscione+nature+y5+receptor

  149. Dear Mr. Taubes,
    I could not agree more with your comment: (A common problem with most science and health writers is that we often write about a different subject every week or month, so if we’re being fed nonsense by the local experts in any particular field we will typically pass that nonsense along to the readers because we don’t know enough not do otherwise.)

    In our book (available from Jaunuary 13th 2011) with the title:
    EATING HEALTHY AND DYING OBESE… ELUCIDATION OF AN APPARENT PARADOX…
    we have a chapter: Science ‘feeds’ confusion’, which is worthwhile reading (I will send you a copy, please indicate a postal adress).
    The book is a scholarly written science (even for scientists!).
    By reading the book, you might discover why your philosophie belongs in the chapter ‘half-truths’ (please read the coverpages of the book by opening this link:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12992606/BOOK1-COVER-PAGES%201-4_8.12.pdf

    Healthy and sugarfully greetings from Switzerland
    Leoluca Criscione
    http://www.google.ch/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=5h&oq=leoluca+criscione&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4SKPB_deCH293CH293&q=leoluca+criscione+nature+y5+receptor
    http://www.google.ch/search?so

  150. Theres this video on youtube buy this guy named brad pilon he says the conventional was thought that oh i just need to control my insulin levels is actually false and that you can get insulin all the way to fasting insulin levels without having any fat being released he says that you not only half to keep insulin low but get growth hormone up seeing as growth hormone promotes the use of fat as an energy source while insulin stores fat

  151. Anonymous says:

    If the low carbohydrate message is right (and I suspect it is) a reason why so many experts may be resistant to it is the scale of the implications, compared to which the embarrassment of admitting to having been wrong for so long pales into insignificance. Apart from the harm done to the big food companies – which we may not think we care about but many of us will have some of our pension funds invested in them, and then there are loads of employees who stand to lose their jobs – how on earth do we think we can provide even the populations of the Europe and the USA with enough grass fed animals and poultry, and sustainably caught fish, let alone the 6,000,000,000 plus people currently in the world.

    • Do you think that the big food companies are going to do nothing to prevent a huge drop in their profits?

      • Warren Dew says:

        It would be great if they started making good low carb snacks, preferably without artificial preservatives and such.

        • You can already get meatballs with melted cheese at Subways. You can already get cheese, nuts, cooked meats, pickled eggs etc in supermarkets. Do we need manufactured low-carb snacks? Hasn’t Atkins Nutritionals already been there, done that?

          I was referring to the huge grain/sugar-based multinationals e.g. Kellogs, Nabisco, Nestlé, Tate & Lyle etc.

        • Galia L. says:

          When people go low-cabs their need in snacks diminishes . When you are not hungry between your meals, why to eat a shack?

    • Roger Butler says:

      I have no doubt that the food companies have for years been financing research they hope will prop up their interests (or muddy the waters) and also been lobbying like mad. Here in the UK our new government has publicly stated that it wants to work in partnership with the food companies on matters of public health. But the bigger question must be if the healthy diet for everyone requires carbohydrate to be replaced by good quality protein and natural fats how can that be achieved. For years we have been told that problems of malnutrition throughout the world are not problems of food production but rather political and economic problems. That surely can no longer be true if everyone needs to be eating larger quantities of meat and fish.

      • CarbSane says:

        This is the problem with swinging the pendulum too far the other way which is what many in the low carb community do. You are probably correct that we could not even begin to sustain the whole of the human population on a Paleo-type diet. But cultures have existed on carb-based diets with impressive health and longevity results. Indeed we have more relevant examples of this than we have of low carb high fat cultures. Those eating Paleo are not eating anywhere near the diet of, for example, the Inuit. There are safe and healthy ways to prepare grains. I suspect the food companies will figure out a way to get into soaking and sprouting for example.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that many of the therapeutic ketogenic diets have been known to include industrial seed oils, eggs from caged birds, commercial pasteurized dairy products and grain fed beef to resounding success. Indeed before the recent Paleo explosion, most low carbers consumed a fair amount of the foods listed above and Atkins was touting their health back in the 70′s.

        • Roger Butler says:

          Having now acquired an electronic copy of “Why We Get Fat?” and read the first couple of chapters I noticed that somewhere towards the end of the introduction (sorry, don’t know how to site Kindle books, no page numbers) GT says
          :
“what causes is us to fatten…has often seemed like a religious issue rather than a scientific one…the scientific question …has gotten lost…[and] been overshadowed by ethical…and sociological considerations that are valid in themselves and certainly worth discussing but have nothing to do with the science itself and arguably no place in a scientific inquiry.”
          I suspect therefore that it is a distraction from the main purpose of this blog to raise public policy implications of the low carb message. However, I do still think that the economic and other public policy implications will weigh heavy with politicians and other policy makers and will go some way to explaining institutional reluctance to engage in this discussion. How does the government of an economically advanced nation tell its people that the only healthy diet is one that is beyond the financial means of many of them?

  152. Anonymous says:

    If the low carbohydrate message is right (and I suspect it is) a reason why so many experts may be resistant to it is the scale of the implications, compared to which the embarrassment of admitting to having been wrong for so long pales into insignificance. Apart from the harm done to the big food companies – which we may not think we care about but many of us will have some of our pension funds invested in them, and then there are loads of employees who stand to lose their jobs – how on earth do we think we can provide even the populations of the Europe and the USA with enough grass fed animals and poultry, and sustainably caught fish, let alone the 6,000,000,000 plus people currently in the world.

  153. Doug Lerner says:

    I just watched your very interesting, but long (72 minutes!) lecture at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4362041487661765149#.

    I keep on swinging back and forth between low-fat/low-cal and the low-carb theory. I still can’t find the “just perfect” combination, but if I listen to your lecture I become convinced that scientists have been discovering and rediscovering the effects of carbohydrates on fat gain for almost 100 years now and yet keep on ignoring the conclusions of their own research.

    The only things about your lecture which bothers me are:

    1. You never return to your original slide showing the huge takeoff of obesity in the U.S. starting in the 70s to explain how it all fits in.

    2. You don’t explain how countries, like Japan, with a relatively low percent of obese people are ok on extremely high-carbohydrate diets (loads of rice) and generally very low fat. Maybe that works because of the low amount of fat for the insulin to metabolize?

    My own diet was getting out of control, so to get appetite under control (I think everybody will at least agree that certain carbs stimulate appetite) I’ve been doing carb restrictions since 12/26.

    What this means is that I’m having very few carbs, but lots of fats (butter, mayo, olive oil), macadamia nuts, chicken with the skin on, fatty meat and fish and cheese. Just a few vegetables and no fruits.

    Since the 26th my cumulative weight change has been:

    12/26 start
    12/27 -0.9 lb
    12/28 -2.2 lb
    12/29 -3.1 lb
    12/30 -3.1 lb
    12/31 -4.4 lb
    1/1 -5.7 lb

    So what to make of this?

    doug@still trying to figure things out

    • During the first week of a low-carbohydrate way of life*, you deplete muscle glycogen. You start with about 400g of the stuff. For every gram of glycogen that you lose, you also lose about 3g of water (as glycogen is reconstituted into glucose using water). Therefore, 3-4lb of what you lost in the first 6 days was water. Scales can’t tell the difference between fat, muscle & water weight. Once your glycogen is as depleted as it can get, your rate of weight loss slows down.

      If you are too sedentary, you will lose muscle weight. This results in a faster rate of weight loss, as muscle is less energy-dense than bodyfat. Does that make it a good thing? No.

      * As diets apparently always fail, I shall stop using that word.

  154. Anonymous says:

    I don’t accept your premise.

    For the body to service, or maintain, fat with oxygen and nutrients; it requires a nontrivial amount of EXTRA energy. Thus; an overweight person can consume more calories per day and maintain their current weight (vs. adding more pounds).

    You see this in dieting; the more overweight someone is when they start a diet, the more they loose initially than someone lighter… because their caloric deficit is greater at say a 1200 calories a day diet than a thinner person at 1200.

  155. MichaelF says:

    You’ve made something simple very complex.

    One year ago I was 20 pounds over my ideal weight based on BMI, etc. I had a kid on the way and since I’m an older dad I decided it was important for me to be healthy.

    I made a point of eating less. I dropped 20 pounds in a year.

    How about let’s say that for many of us if you eat until you’re comfortably sated you will get fat.

    The way to avoid getting fat is to EAT LESS. Serve out small portions and finish your meals still unpleasantly hungry.

    It’s that simple.

    • Nddean says:

      I have twenty five years of experience that says it is not that simple. In another twenty years, you may find it isn’t that simple either.

  156. Donald R S says:

    The regulation of energy delta MUST be better than plus or minus 10 or 20 calories per day.
    According to the “energy-in = energy-out” theory is must be plus or minus ZERO over a lifetime to maintain a steady weight. I find it highly improbable that current knowledge and theory explains this regulatory system adequately, especially in light of our evolutionary past where daily caloric intake could not be assured (the hunter-gathers)!

    I am searching for evidence of other regulatory mechanisms, beyond the “satiety center” in the brain making decisions based on blood glucose levels, etc. It occurs to me that one method of regulation could be an automatic one that involves variable absorption of nutrients from the gut. I am not aware that this is considered an important “variable”, but it could be easily done by selective secretion of digestive enzymes. The impact of this is that not all we eat gets absorbed! Perhaps some thing like refined carbohydrates are harder to “regulate” than others… Perhaps the natural flora of the gut plays a role in the degree of absorption of nutrients and modern antibiotics have interfered with this process. It would be interesting to submit this to an analysis of variance study to see how much each of the current known “variables” contribute to the overall variability.

    I believe it is indeed complex! It is probably much more complex that current experts admit or even understand!

  157. Anonymous says:

    It’s not a 20 calorie per day process. It’s an extra 1000 calories on a birthday, 2000 calories on a Thanksgiving, 1500 calories at an office party, etc. 5000 calories over the Christmas holidays. 600 calories at Friday night drinks…

    And it is the brain that regulates food intake. At least my brain regulates my food intake. My “thinking brain”. There’s this thing called a bathroom scales. One day it shows I’m a pound heavier. I make a point to exercise more and eat a little less. Very soon I’m back to my target weight. If you aren’t an adult looking at a scale to watch your diet and then using that feedback to adjust your eating and exercising, then you’re getting fat.

    Animals in the wild don’t get fat because they don’t have cheap, calorie-dense fast food everywhere they turn and they don’t have other animals delivering it.

    Physics is right. Thermodynamics is right.

  158. Carl Pham says:

    This is an ironically disappointing column. It takes “experts” to task for summarizing the causes of obesity as “eating too much” — and does more or less the same kind of useless oversimplification. It’s all prologue, no story. It reads like an ad for a Get Rich Quick scheme, where you get ten paragraphs of how stupid other people are, and how clever you are — but, er, no actual scheme. Is this just advertisement for the book? Spend $20 and *then* the answer — the “why” that is so much more meaningful than thermodynamics — will be told? Then why not say so? Why pretend you have anything more meaningful to say here than those you criticize?

    And at that, I’m not sure your criticism is entirely merited. Belief in the first law of thermodynamics is hardly universal, as anyone in the Patent Office, or observing late-night ads for gasoline additives that will get you 500 mpg can testify. There are very likely plenty of people — people who NEED help with their weight — who are indeed not entirely clear that getting fat is the result of calories in exceeding calories out. They may easily fall prey to voodoo and witch doctoring schemes that do them great harm. For those folks, it DOES make sense to emphasize the basic point that any scheme that does not, in the end, result in fewer calories in than calories out is going to fail by inevitable laws of physics. It’s by no means the END of what they need to know, but it may well be a key beginning. The fact that you criticize people for starting at the very beginning — because it’s already intuitively obvious to you, and your fellow intellectual elite — seems a bit unkind, if not arrogant, and does disservice to your otherwise excellent investigative and scientific work.

  159. Paula says:

    Had a doctor friend for dinner last night to watch the 2007 documentary “King Corn” – quite fascinating and alarming, not to say there’s anything we can do about it, except patronize sustainable farmers like Joel Salatin perhaps? The sequel to “King Corn” is “Big River.” Both well worth a watch; instantly available in streaming Netflix.

    Gave doctor both GT’s books (GCBC & WWGF) – but he (48 years old) says Atkins is dangerous due to fat causing colon cancer; got angry when I tried to say GT shows that’s not true (“Don’t throw this book at me! The research is overwhelming on this point” etc.). I believe GT on this point (fat doesn’t cause cancer). However, WHAT ABOUT BURNED MEAT?

    Here are a couple articles on the subject:

    (1) http://www.emaxhealth.com/74/13065.html

    ” BBQ and cancer: Is grilling meat a cancer risk? Grilling Meat Safety”

    “Tips for safer and healthier grilling (excerpts from the Harvard Health Letter of June 2007)

    “Ruining a piece of meat isn’t the only thing you need to worry about if you are cooking at high temperatures. High heat can also produce chemicals with cancer-causing properties, reports the June 2007 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

    “When meat is cooked at high temperatures, amino acids react with creatine to form heterocyclic amines, which are thought to cause cancer. That’s why cooking meat by grilling, frying, or broiling is the problem. Grilling is double trouble because it also exposes meat to cancer-causing chemicals contained in the smoke that rises from burning coals and any drips of fat that cause flare-ups. How long the meat is cooked is also a factor in heterocyclic amine formation; longer cooking time means more heterocyclic amines. Depending on the temperature at which it’s cooked, meat roasted or baked in the oven may contain some heterocyclic amines, but it’s likely to be considerably less than in grilled, fried, or broiled meat. (ETC.)

    (2) HEALTH JOURNAL

    Tips to Make Summer Barbecue
    Healthier for You, Your Guests

    By MARILYN CHASE
    Wall St. Journal – June 2, 1997

    BARBECUING MEAT, fish or poultry over glowing coals or a gas grill so that they sizzle is one of summer’s most succulent pleasures.

    Unfortunately, it’s far from the healthiest way to dine; but you can refine your grilling technique to make it a lot safer.
    Here’s the problem: When meat, fish or poultry is barbecued, it creates two kinds of chemicals that can cause the kind of genetic mutations that result in cancer.
    Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when fat drips down onto an open flame, sending up a column of smoke that coats the food with carcinogens. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are created when meat, poultry and fish are cooked at high heat — as in pan-frying, broiling or barbecuing — until well done. It’s the food’s natural amino acids reacting with creatine (a chemical in muscle meats) that produce the HCAs.
    Microwaving, stewing, boiling or poaching pose little risk because they’re done at lower temperatures. Oven roasting is somewhere in the middle. Rare to medium roasting is relatively safe. But well-done roast beef contains plentiful HCAs, as does gravy made from pan drippings.
    Does this mean sacrificing the summer barbecue on the altar of wellness?
    No, it just means updating your grilling technique: lower cooking temperatures, marinate the food, precook it in the microwave, and wrap it in foil for the cooking.

    Avoid charred or blackened foods. “What we can tell people is not to eat well-done meat, and especially well-done red meat,” says Rashmi Sinha, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

    THIS TAKES a balancing act, because hamburger and poultry, especially, must be cooked through to eliminate bacteria. Any ground meat is particularly prone to such contamination. And you don’t want to trade carcinogens for salmonella, or E. coli. But even ground beef should be cooked only until it is done — not charred.

    How do you reduce time on the grill? Simply by precooking — as many people do anyway to avoid food that’s burned on the outside and raw on the inside.

    Moreover, microwaving for two to five minutes releases meat juices containing those chemical precursors, says chemist Mark Knize of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. By discarding that juice before grilling, he says, “You get a 90% reduction of HCAs.”
    If you don’t have a microwave, precooking in steam or in a low oven until almost done will also let you reduce time on the grill.
    Finally, “Wrapping meat in foil for barbecuing will prevent PAHs from being deposited on food in the smoke,” says Elizabeth Snyderwine, NCI’s chief of chemical carcinogenesis. Even placing a sheet of foil under the food shields it from smoky byproducts.
    In a 1996 study, NCI found people who usually ate their beef well-done had more than triple the stomach cancer risk of people who ate meat medium rare. Other studies found diets heavy in well-done, fried or barbecued meats may boost risk of colorectal and, perhaps, pancreatic or breast cancer. In lab animals, HCAs cause liver, lung, stomach, colon and mammary tumors.
    Taken together, the human and animal studies are compelling, if not conclusive.
    “I think we know these compounds are likely human carcinogens,” says Dr. Snyderwine. More human studies are needed to nail the precise chemical cause of cancer, but scientists agree we know enough to limit our exposure now.
    “I would cook meat at a lower temperature,” says Dr. Sinha. Barbecue temperatures can top 900 degrees when fat drips down and flames shoot up. “That’s what you really want to try to avoid.”
    NEWS ABOUT the health benefits of marinating came in April from Mr. Knize. In his lab, he marinated chicken before grilling with a standard recipe containing olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt and brown sugar.
    Using sophisticated analytical chemistry, he found levels of a major HCA compound fell by more than 90% in the marinated poultry. (However, when the grill time was extended to 30 or 40 minutes, another HCA compound rose, so it’s still important to keep grilling time down.)
    We don’t know exactly how the marinades work, but it is believed that they draw out the chemical precursors of the carcinogens.
    Perhaps one day researchers will concoct a designer marinade that includes such natural cancer-fighting compounds as the polyphenols found in tea, or certain amino acids that would block the formation of carcinogens, as proposed by John Weisburger, former director of the American Health foundation in Valhalla, N.Y. Until then, think of the grill as providing a brief finishing touch to glaze your food, not to torch it.
    “If every once in a while you want to eat forbidden food, it’s OK, as long as it’s not a regular habit,” says Moshe Shike, director of clinical nutrition at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Amid a diet rich in fruits and vegetables containing natural cancer-fighting compounds, he says, an occasional barbecue isn’t harmful.
    Safe grilling shouldn’t be a source of seasonal stress, but simply a prelude to its pleasures, Mr. Knize explains. “It’s like putting on sunscreen before you go out into the sun,” he says.

    • Anonymous says:

      First the claim is made that the evidence is “compelling if not conclusive” (not sure why those two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive), then adds a caveat that says “I THINK we know these compounds are LIKELY human carcinogens . . .” Seems to me there are suspicious weasel words in there. Finally, I find it hard to believe that anyone suggests wrapping food that you’re going to eat in foil as a method of improving its safety. Aluminum foil? Safe? Really? I thought it was a known carcinogen. Any thoughts on this? Anyone?

    • Michael says:

      I think that grilling and barbecuing meat are terrible ways to cook meat in any case, and charred food of any type is repulsive.

      I’ve standardised on frying meat gently in a covered pan, not letting it burn.

      Similarly one shouldn’t over-fry eggs (until they have that almost crisp circumference, although some seem to like the taste). Michael Eades writes about this somewhere on his blog.

      (On the other hand, primitive man from whom we evolved must have charred meat more often than not, although it was probably near raw on the other side!
      On the other other hand, he probably got killed in battle or by predators before he had time to develop cancer)

      Regards,
      Mike Ellwood

    • Michael says:

      I think that grilling and barbecuing meat are terrible ways to cook meat in any case, and charred food of any type is repulsive.

      I’ve standardised on frying meat gently in a covered pan, not letting it burn.

      Similarly one shouldn’t over-fry eggs (until they have that almost crisp circumference, although some seem to like the taste). Michael Eades writes about this somewhere on his blog.

      (On the other hand, primitive man from whom we evolved must have charred meat more often than not, although it was probably near raw on the other side!
      On the other other hand, he probably got killed in battle or by predators before he had time to develop cancer)

      Regards,
      Mike Ellwood

    • Warren Dew says:

      Premenopausal American women can cut their chance of getting cancer in half by taking 1100 IU of vitamin D per day. That should more than make up for the all the marginal food related risks put together. Unfortunately they haven’t found statistically significant effects for men yet.

      Michael, most likely primitive woman got plenty of vitamin D from sunlight. Maybe men too, if it works the same way for us.

  160. Paula says:

    Had a doctor friend for dinner last night to watch the 2007 documentary “King Corn” – light hearted, but quite fascinating and alarming, not to say there’s anything we can do about it, except patronize sustainable farmers like Joel Salatin perhaps? The sequel to “King Corn” is “Big River.” Both well worth a watch; instantly available in streaming Netflix. I didn’t really know my country before seeing them.

    Last night gave this doctor (a rheumatologist) both GT’s books (GCBC & WWGF) – but he (48 years old) says Atkins is dangerous due to fat causing colon cancer; got angry when I tried to say GT shows that’s not true (“Don’t throw this book at me! The research is overwhelming on this point” etc.). I believe GT on this point (fat doesn’t cause cancer). However, WHAT ABOUT BURNED MEAT?

    Here are a couple articles on the subject:

    (1) http://www.emaxhealth.com/74/1

    ” BBQ and cancer: Is grilling meat a cancer risk? Grilling Meat Safety”

    “Tips for safer and healthier grilling (excerpts from the Harvard Health Letter of June 2007)

    “Ruining a piece of meat isn’t the only thing you need to worry about if you are cooking at high temperatures. High heat can also produce chemicals with cancer-causing properties, reports the June 2007 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

    “When meat is cooked at high temperatures, amino acids react with creatine to form heterocyclic amines, which are thought to cause cancer. That’s why cooking meat by grilling, frying, or broiling is the problem. Grilling is double trouble because it also exposes meat to cancer-causing chemicals contained in the smoke that rises from burning coals and any drips of fat that cause flare-ups. How long the meat is cooked is also a factor in heterocyclic amine formation; longer cooking time means more heterocyclic amines. Depending on the temperature at which it’s cooked, meat roasted or baked in the oven may contain some heterocyclic amines, but it’s likely to be considerably less than in grilled, fried, or broiled meat. (ETC.)

    (2) HEALTH JOURNAL

    Tips to Make Summer Barbecue
    Healthier for You, Your Guests

    By MARILYN CHASE
    Wall St. Journal – June 2, 1997

    BARBECUING MEAT, fish or poultry over glowing coals or a gas grill so that they sizzle is one of summer’s most succulent pleasures.

    Unfortunately, it’s far from the healthiest way to dine; but you can refine your grilling technique to make it a lot safer.
    Here’s the problem: When meat, fish or poultry is barbecued, it creates two kinds of chemicals that can cause the kind of genetic mutations that result in cancer.
    Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when fat drips down onto an open flame, sending up a column of smoke that coats the food with carcinogens. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are created when meat, poultry and fish are cooked at high heat — as in pan-frying, broiling or barbecuing — until well done. It’s the food’s natural amino acids reacting with creatine (a chemical in muscle meats) that produce the HCAs.
    Microwaving, stewing, boiling or poaching pose little risk because they’re done at lower temperatures. Oven roasting is somewhere in the middle. Rare to medium roasting is relatively safe. But well-done roast beef contains plentiful HCAs, as does gravy made from pan drippings.
    Does this mean sacrificing the summer barbecue on the altar of wellness?
    No, it just means updating your grilling technique: lower cooking temperatures, marinate the food, precook it in the microwave, and wrap it in foil for the cooking.

    Avoid charred or blackened foods. “What we can tell people is not to eat well-done meat, and especially well-done red meat,” says Rashmi Sinha, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

    THIS TAKES a balancing act, because hamburger and poultry, especially, must be cooked through to eliminate bacteria. Any ground meat is particularly prone to such contamination. And you don’t want to trade carcinogens for salmonella, or E. coli. But even ground beef should be cooked only until it is done — not charred.

    How do you reduce time on the grill? Simply by precooking — as many people do anyway to avoid food that’s burned on the outside and raw on the inside.

    Moreover, microwaving for two to five minutes releases meat juices containing those chemical precursors, says chemist Mark Knize of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. By discarding that juice before grilling, he says, “You get a 90% reduction of HCAs.”
    If you don’t have a microwave, precooking in steam or in a low oven until almost done will also let you reduce time on the grill.
    Finally, “Wrapping meat in foil for barbecuing will prevent PAHs from being deposited on food in the smoke,” says Elizabeth Snyderwine, NCI’s chief of chemical carcinogenesis. Even placing a sheet of foil under the food shields it from smoky byproducts.
    In a 1996 study, NCI found people who usually ate their beef well-done had more than triple the stomach cancer risk of people who ate meat medium rare. Other studies found diets heavy in well-done, fried or barbecued meats may boost risk of colorectal and, perhaps, pancreatic or breast cancer. In lab animals, HCAs cause liver, lung, stomach, colon and mammary tumors.
    Taken together, the human and animal studies are compelling, if not conclusive.
    “I think we know these compounds are likely human carcinogens,” says Dr. Snyderwine. More human studies are needed to nail the precise chemical cause of cancer, but scientists agree we know enough to limit our exposure now.
    “I would cook meat at a lower temperature,” says Dr. Sinha. Barbecue temperatures can top 900 degrees when fat drips down and flames shoot up. “That’s what you really want to try to avoid.”
    NEWS ABOUT the health benefits of marinating came in April from Mr. Knize. In his lab, he marinated chicken before grilling with a standard recipe containing olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt and brown sugar.
    Using sophisticated analytical chemistry, he found levels of a major HCA compound fell by more than 90% in the marinated poultry. (However, when the grill time was extended to 30 or 40 minutes, another HCA compound rose, so it’s still important to keep grilling time down.)
    We don’t know exactly how the marinades work, but it is believed that they draw out the chemical precursors of the carcinogens.
    Perhaps one day researchers will concoct a designer marinade that includes such natural cancer-fighting compounds as the polyphenols found in tea, or certain amino acids that would block the formation of carcinogens, as proposed by John Weisburger, former director of the American Health foundation in Valhalla, N.Y. Until then, think of the grill as providing a brief finishing touch to glaze your food, not to torch it.
    “If every once in a while you want to eat forbidden food, it’s OK, as long as it’s not a regular habit,” says Moshe Shike, director of clinical nutrition at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Amid a diet rich in fruits and vegetables containing natural cancer-fighting compounds, he says, an occasional barbecue isn’t harmful.
    Safe grilling shouldn’t be a source of seasonal stress, but simply a prelude to its pleasures, Mr. Knize explains. “It’s like putting on sunscreen before you go out into the sun,” he says.

  161. Doug Lerner says:

    Taubes doesn’t seem to mention countries like Japan, where the rate of obesity is MUCH less than the U.S., yet the main diet is clearly very high carbohydrate (lots of white rice).

    A comprehensive theory of why people get fat can’t just ignore situations like this.

    doug

  162. Anonymous says:

    I used to eat, on average, about 2500 calories a day. A typical “American” mix of carbs and proteins.
    I loveand would eat bread and pasta and potato chips and the like but was always very athletic and figured
    that the activity would keep me in shape…I didnt eat a ton of stuff that I considered “unhealthy”.

    I never thought of bread and pasta as unhealthy…just dense and fattening in excess.
    Everything in moderation you know…I always tried to eat responsibly. If I ate too much or too much of the wrong stuff I would work out harder the next day to “burn it off”.

    Then 20 years go by and I slowly got larger (despite spinning, running etc) cholesterol went from perfect to high in a single year and the docs wanted to put me on a pill.
    I figured I had to make a change.
    My wife had an Atkins book and I read that.
    A friend had a book about paleo (Caveman) eating and I read that.
    I read Speers too I think.

    So about 5 years ago i began an experiment.

    I no longer “work out” at all. Just a normal active life for a 52 year old guy.
    I developed the belief that the idea that “working out” regularly would “rev up my metabolism” was probably mostly snake oil because how could Darwin explain an organism that kept consuming calories at an accelerated rate after the need for consumption was past? Not the idea of efficiency I’d say. Sure…more muscle means more calories burned because it takes more energy to push that weight around… but I really didnt need all my bulky muscles any more at my age.

    I (very nearly completely) quit all pasta and bread and sugar and potatoes and rice and soda etc.
    I now eat lean protein and veg like cabbage or lettuce 4 or five times a day.
    No meal particularly larger than any other but all are large enough to fill me..
    No real “Dinner” so to speak. (a big meal at the end of the day really doesnt make any sense physiologically..I think I read a theory that a larger meal at end of day evolved because of the difficulty of the work day and the efficiency of gathering fuel for a fire..well I have a gas range and can eat whenever I want during the day)
    All meals are about the same size so I have a fairly consistent supply of food going through me. Lots of water of course. Keeps things moving
    Total calories are typically GREATER than I used to put in.
    Total energy expenditure is way LESS as I dont exercise in any formal way at all really.
    I do stay active…I just dont stress my body at the gym any more.

    I drink booze when i want to…but not beer (always was a whiskey guy anyway). I do splurge on a slice of pizza (etc) when I am out with the guys but find it hard now to eat more than one. I might have a small order of real pasta once in a blue moon but it really feels heavy now. I never eat fast food anymore though an in-n-out protein style still tastes pretty good in a pinch.

    So…In a year I dropped 50 lbs,
    Cholesterol is back to perfect.
    Hemorrhoids (though they were mild) are now gone.
    Resting heart rate down to 55 from 65.
    Waist from 46 to 38. (Im now 6’1″ 215)
    Blood pressure was always good, maybe because of exercise I guess…and it still is.

    I missed the buzz on the first book…but just finished the new one…and am glad to see what I found to be true for me explained in clear sentences.

    It is a bit more expensive to eat the way I eat now. Processed carbs tend to be super cheap.
    You can probably eat every day at some drive through dollar menu for super cheap…but money isnt everything.
    My wife finds it a bit boring (I am the cook in the house usually)…but I spice things up with stuff like red sauce “pasta” made with sliced cabbage “noodles” instead of pasta. For me the noodles are really a red sauce delivery system anyway. So long as I can twirl it up on my fork and get an occasional chunk of sausage then I feel like I ate a big bowl of spaghetti.
    We do go out for a nice dinner on occasion…but it really feels like an occasion when we do.
    She looks great in a nice dress now that she has dropped 20 lbs just because I dont make the stuff I used to.

    Cheap food may keep us (as a nation) happy…but it also keeps us fat. Read “The Omnivores Dilemma” to get an idea of how corn and corn sugars are EVERYWHERE in fast food and processed snacks. Americas corn harvest is like a government subsidized river of raw product that business just has to find a way to sell because the government makes it so cheap to buy and profitable to sell.

    I cook a lot of chickens and pork back ribs and lamb (when I find a nice leg on sale) on my Portisserie ( a really great portable charcoal rotisserie that takes care of itself while it cooks my food). I can buy a whole chicken for 4 or 5 bucks at the local food for less. The heat is in the rear so I can cook meat long and slow without charrring or flare-ups to get things really tender and render at least some fat out.
    For standard “meals” I buy sliced low salt chicken at the local ethnic market (very little filler).

    In the end it really came down to accepting that Food is not Love. Food is not Success. Food is not Satisfaction. It is just fuel.
    I wont put bad gas in my car. Why would I feed myself in a way that made my performance suffer?

    I wish I had figured it out 20 years ago…but its never too late for change.

    Good book. Good luck to you all (be you thick or thin).

    Happy New Year.

    MP

    • Anonymous says:

      Way to go! It took me a while to get to where some kinds of carbs didn’t still call my name, but I read in Wolfgang Lutz’s (may he RIP) book, Life Without Bread, that the longer you stay off carbs, esp sweets, after about 12-18 months most people have an often dramatic cessation in any carb cravings. May that force be with us!

      • Anonymous says:

        I dont have any cravings any more…but there are a few “iconic” foods that I grew up with and that I would like to be able to endulge in again. One of those is just plain old pasta in red sauce but that was always a weeks spot for me. If there was any left over in the fridge I was always aware it was there and would always find ways to have more of it.

        Recently I was turned on to a noodle replacement from Japan. Very few carbs. Like almost none.
        Made from a Yam fiber with some tofu thrown in for mouth feel.

        So I made up a batch of red sauce with chicken sausages and simmered the noodles in it for a long time (they do not over cook like semolina pasta).

        Absolutely delicious. Pasta is in some dishes just a sauce delivery system after all.
        My wife and I were totally satisfied and even felt as if we had sinned despite knowing the counts.

        So….there were-left overs…but for some reason I had no urges to go and consume more.
        That pasta sat in the fridge for two days and I never had another bite of it and that never would have happened with the old me and real pasta.

        I am left with the question….have I changed myself so much that I could have real spaghetti in the fridge and just leave it there…or does my mind or body know that that pasta doesn’t give the same glycemic kick as the real stuff so the craving just dont exist?

        Here is a link to the product is anyone is interested.
        http://www.house-foods.com/Tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx

        My local Ralphs carries it. I would suggest you use the fettucini size. The stuff has a bit more of a tooth feel and that is more noticeable in the round cuts of spaghetti than it is in the ribbons of fettucini.

        My technique is to rinse it well…and then just sommer it in a watery pasta sauce until the sauce has thickened. You CANNOT over cook these noddles (so far as I can tell).

        The consistency is even better after a couple of days in the fridge. (Yes…I did eventually make another meal from the remains).

        Go forth and enlittle yourself.
        Smallerman.

        PS…I have developed a thought system that helps me with eating correctly..
        Basically it is a sliding scale arranged left to right in my mind.
        On the left end of the scale are leafy green veg and proteins.
        On the right end of the scale is white sugar and “candy”.
        Every thing that is not leafs and protein is to a greater or lesser extent “Candy”.

        After looking at everything I propose to eat (or that is proposed to me to eat in restaurants or in commercials) I have come to realize that almost everything sold to us as food is candy as far as our system is concerned.

        Potatoes?
        Candy
        Bread?
        Candy
        Fruit?
        Candy
        Corn chips?
        Candy
        Ketchup?
        Candy
        etc.

        As far as our guts are concerned there really is not a lot of stuff occupying the area in the middle of my scale; i.e. not protein and leaves…and yet not candy. SO much of it…as far as our guts are concerned, is just “candy” with fiber and fillers.

        So basically..when my friends tell me what I eat and do not eat…I just say “I dont eat candy…but I have a different definition of what actually IS candy.”

        Does that help anyone?
        SM

      • Anonymous says:

        I dont have any cravings any more…but there are a few “iconic” foods that I grew up with and that I would like to be able to endulge in again. One of those is just plain old pasta in red sauce but that was always a weeks spot for me. If there was any left over in the fridge I was always aware it was there and would always find ways to have more of it.

        Recently I was turned on to a noodle replacement from Japan. Very few carbs. Like almost none.
        Made from a Yam fiber with some tofu thrown in for mouth feel.

        So I made up a batch of red sauce with chicken sausages and simmered the noodles in it for a long time (they do not over cook like semolina pasta).

        Absolutely delicious. Pasta is in some dishes just a sauce delivery system after all.
        My wife and I were totally satisfied and even felt as if we had sinned despite knowing the counts.

        So….there were-left overs…but for some reason I had no urges to go and consume more.
        That pasta sat in the fridge for two days and I never had another bite of it and that never would have happened with the old me and real pasta.

        I am left with the question….have I changed myself so much that I could have real spaghetti in the fridge and just leave it there…or does my mind or body know that that pasta doesn’t give the same glycemic kick as the real stuff so the craving just dont exist?

        Here is a link to the product is anyone is interested.
        http://www.house-foods.com/Tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx

        My local Ralphs carries it. I would suggest you use the fettucini size. The stuff has a bit more of a tooth feel and that is more noticeable in the round cuts of spaghetti than it is in the ribbons of fettucini.

        My technique is to rinse it well…and then just sommer it in a watery pasta sauce until the sauce has thickened. You CANNOT over cook these noddles (so far as I can tell).

        The consistency is even better after a couple of days in the fridge. (Yes…I did eventually make another meal from the remains).

        Go forth and enlittle yourself.
        Smallerman.

        PS…I have developed a thought system that helps me with eating correctly..
        Basically it is a sliding scale arranged left to right in my mind.
        On the left end of the scale are leafy green veg and proteins.
        On the right end of the scale is white sugar and “candy”.
        Every thing that is not leafs and protein is to a greater or lesser extent “Candy”.

        After looking at everything I propose to eat (or that is proposed to me to eat in restaurants or in commercials) I have come to realize that almost everything sold to us as food is candy as far as our system is concerned.

        Potatoes?
        Candy
        Bread?
        Candy
        Fruit?
        Candy
        Corn chips?
        Candy
        Ketchup?
        Candy
        etc.

        As far as our guts are concerned there really is not a lot of stuff occupying the area in the middle of my scale; i.e. not protein and leaves…and yet not candy. SO much of it…as far as our guts are concerned, is just “candy” with fiber and fillers.

        So basically..when my friends tell me what I eat and do not eat…I just say “I dont eat candy…but I have a different definition of what actually IS candy.”

        Does that help anyone?
        SM

      • Anonymous says:

        I dont have any cravings any more…but there are a few “iconic” foods that I grew up with and that I would like to be able to endulge in again. One of those is just plain old pasta in red sauce but that was always a weeks spot for me. If there was any left over in the fridge I was always aware it was there and would always find ways to have more of it.

        Recently I was turned on to a noodle replacement from Japan. Very few carbs. Like almost none.
        Made from a Yam fiber with some tofu thrown in for mouth feel.

        So I made up a batch of red sauce with chicken sausages and simmered the noodles in it for a long time (they do not over cook like semolina pasta).

        Absolutely delicious. Pasta is in some dishes just a sauce delivery system after all.
        My wife and I were totally satisfied and even felt as if we had sinned despite knowing the counts.

        So….there were-left overs…but for some reason I had no urges to go and consume more.
        That pasta sat in the fridge for two days and I never had another bite of it and that never would have happened with the old me and real pasta.

        I am left with the question….have I changed myself so much that I could have real spaghetti in the fridge and just leave it there…or does my mind or body know that that pasta doesn’t give the same glycemic kick as the real stuff so the craving just dont exist?

        Here is a link to the product is anyone is interested.
        http://www.house-foods.com/Tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx

        My local Ralphs carries it. I would suggest you use the fettucini size. The stuff has a bit more of a tooth feel and that is more noticeable in the round cuts of spaghetti than it is in the ribbons of fettucini.

        My technique is to rinse it well…and then just sommer it in a watery pasta sauce until the sauce has thickened. You CANNOT over cook these noddles (so far as I can tell).

        The consistency is even better after a couple of days in the fridge. (Yes…I did eventually make another meal from the remains).

        Go forth and enlittle yourself.
        Smallerman.

        PS…I have developed a thought system that helps me with eating correctly..
        Basically it is a sliding scale arranged left to right in my mind.
        On the left end of the scale are leafy green veg and proteins.
        On the right end of the scale is white sugar and “candy”.
        Every thing that is not leafs and protein is to a greater or lesser extent “Candy”.

        After looking at everything I propose to eat (or that is proposed to me to eat in restaurants or in commercials) I have come to realize that almost everything sold to us as food is candy as far as our system is concerned.

        Potatoes?
        Candy
        Bread?
        Candy
        Fruit?
        Candy
        Corn chips?
        Candy
        Ketchup?
        Candy
        etc.

        As far as our guts are concerned there really is not a lot of stuff occupying the area in the middle of my scale; i.e. not protein and leaves…and yet not candy. SO much of it…as far as our guts are concerned, is just “candy” with fiber and fillers.

        So basically..when my friends tell me what I eat and do not eat…I just say “I dont eat candy…but I have a different definition of what actually IS candy.”

        Does that help anyone?
        SM

      • Anonymous says:

        That book does sound interesting. That has been my experience on the few times I have gotten into the swing of not eating carbs.  BUT, for me, it is like surmounting an enormous hurdle to get started.  Even though my intellect knows that I will no longer feel those powerful urges, I have a near impossible time getting there. Bizarre and disturbing.

    • I like this. :)

    • great write-up!

  163. Anonymous says:

    GT:
    I have ordered copies of Why We Get Fat for several relatives, whom all suffer from a Midwestern diet. I read GCBC and consider it the most important tome on nutrition in the past 40 years. My copy is dog-eared, highlighted and tabbed like an old text book.

    Will you be lecturing in Seattle this year?

  164. LindaA says:

    I had a physical in October, two days before Halloween. My doctor read me the results of my blood tests and then she said to me (not for the first time):”What is it going to take to get you to lose some weight?” She recommended I start looking at the glycemic value of what I was eating, and try to eat foods lower on the scale — then to come back and see her in 6 weeks for another round of blood tests.

    I tried this for a day or so, but it soon became clear to me that the easiest way to proceed was to eliminate foods with “obvious” sugar. So that was what I did: No cake, cookies, donuts, ice cream, sugary cereal, bagels, etc.; if I had bread, it was low-carb bread or (in restaurants) whole wheat. I had always done 30 minutes a day on a stationary bike. A week or so into this low-sugar regimen, just for the heck of it (and because I suddenly felt I could), I upped my daily cardio output from 30 minutes to 40 minutes, shooting for consumption of 300 calories each session.

    After 6 weeks of this, I was 18 pounds lighter, and the results of my blood tests showed vast improvements, straight across the board. My doctor was delighted. “WHAT have you been doing?!” she asked, and I told her: No obvious sugar and an additional 10 minutes each day on the bike.

    It’s now 10 weeks into this regimen, and I’ve lost 28 pounds. The goal is to stay on it for another 22 pounds, for a total loss of 50 pounds.

    When I think about it, my cardiovascular health had been on a steady decline; I remember a day last summer when I went trudging out to the bus stop and it was an effort, because my lower legs felt like tree trunks. I was suffering the beginnings of peripheral arterial disease. All that has been turned around. No more twitchiness or sluggishness in my lower legs. Other benefits have been much wider: I’m more alert and have more energy. I sleep better (and no acid reflux).

    I’m convinced: It’s the sugar. Go off the sugar and stay off the sugar. The couple of times I’ve slipped up and had something with obvious sugar, I definitely felt it the next day.

    What it comes down to is I like how I feel off sugar better than I like eating it.

    • Doug Lerner says:

      I have noticed that regardless of how you lose weight blood sugar vastly improves.

      Last year in January I had dangerously high A1C values. I counted calories for 6 months, dropped about 30 lb and my A1C over that time dropped to below 5, a perfectly normal range. In fact all my blood values became normal. I paid no attention to how many carbs I ate. Naturally they were restricted because I was restricting calories, but nothing like 20 carbs per day. I often ate strawberries and oranges and bananas.

      I’m convinced it’s not the carbs or the sugars, but the mere fact of getting eating under control and losing weight.

      I’ve tried low-carb eating over and over again like 6 times now, and while I lose a lot the first week I never progress past that. The only diet that seems to work is counting calories.

      Perhaps it’s different for different people.

    • Anonymous says:

      How different we are! It is not so easy for me, on another hand my doctor was always happy with my blood tests, blood pressure level. When I gained too much weight in one year he didn’t suggested losing because he didn’t believe people could keep off the weight loss. Now he is very surprised that I can

    • Anonymous says:

      Good for you! You really are a great example of the tremendous benefits of low carb lifestyle.

  165. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know about lactation and the affect it has on weight loss. I am a fairly committed low carber traditional foods person. I havent yet read Gary’s books, but look forward to both arriving shortly in the mail (not sure which will be more my speed in terms of technicality). This is my second baby, and I was about 25 lbs overweight for the first year of my first son’s life, then easily lost weight when he was about 12- 15 mos. (he nursed for about 2,5 yrs) I am once again 6 mos post partum with about 25-30 lbs to lose and low carb is not working. i am looking forward to reading Gary’s books in hopes for an answer on how to handle lactation, but if anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate it a lot.

  166. Anonymous says:

    Hi Gary Taubes,

    In many interviews and in your new book, you say that being fat (overweight or obese) is associated with higher mortality and disease. Some writers have examined the data associated with this claim and found it to be inconclusive, much as the data you’ve studied (related to the idea that fat makes us fat and causes heart disease) has been poor and inconclusive.

    A particularly good example of a study that calls into question the idea that being fat increases mortality is Katherine Flegal’s study, “Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity” http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/293/15/1861.abstract.

    One example of a scientist who questions the link between obesity and increased mortality/morbidity is Paul Ernsberger, the author of Rethinking Obesity: An Alternative View of Its Health Implications.

    Jeffrey Friedman questions whether or not there is even an epidemic of obesity—he says that most people have only gained 7-10 pounds compared to a generation ago, and weight has only gone up a lot among the extremely obese, who are perhaps 30 pounds heaver than a generation ago.

    Note also that we base our belief that we have obesity epidemic in large part on the BMI. By its measure, you are overweight when your BMI is over 25. It used to be that you were considered normal weight until your BMI was over 27, but that was changed in the late nineties. For various reasons, the BMI is not a good way to measure a person’s fatness or their health, but it is still the main arbiter of fatness for most laypeople, and apparently, for most family doctors, who have the BMI chart on their office walls.

    So, what do you think? Western countries have populations that are among the longest-lived in the world. Is being fat really that bad for you?

    Inquiring minds (namely my mind) want to know.

    Jennifer Dales

    • Doug Lerner says:

      I know my observations are just anecdotal, and I have no statistics, but… While I’m obese (100+ lb overweight) I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anybody really old with my weight.

      My mother’s in an assisted care facility, and so I’ve met lot of people there in their 80s, 90s and even 100s. And I know a lot of people in my neighborhood who are in their 80s.

      My mother, who is 84, is overweight. But nothing like what I am. I have never seen anybody her age or older who is extremely obese.

      I am guessing it must be rare.

      The U.S. actually ranks 36th in the world in longevity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy) – one rank behind Cuba!

      WIthin the U.S. here is a list of states by longevity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_life_expectancy.

      I’m not saying there is a cause-and-effect necessarily, but all the states with the lowest longevity are also the states with highest obesity rates, such as the south.

      doug

      • Jennifer D says:

        I’m Canadian, and we are among the top ten for longevity, I think. And we have a lot of obesity. Not that it means anything from a scientific point on view! Thank for you thoughts.

        • Doug Lerner says:

          According to this table anyway:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bmi30chart.png

          Canada’s obesity rate is just 14.3% while the obesity rate in the U.S. is 30.6% Again, correlations don’t show cause-and-effect, but maybe the lesser rate of obesity in Canada does have something to do with it’s longer longevity.

          Here in Japan, where I live, and which has the longest longevity for women in the world, the obesity rate is just 3.2%

          doug

    • Anonymous says:

      medications can keep a fat person alive for a longer period of life……but not always a good quality of life.

      diane

  167. Dear Mr Taubes,
    You know my opinion on your contribution to the obesity epidemic: you ‘feed’ the confusion in the field!
    I order your two books and will read them for completeness!
    Meanwhile read please my comment to Morgan Spurlock’s (Super Size Me) using this link
    http://super-size-me.morganspurlock.com/forum/posts/id_74/Eating-healthy-and-dying-obese/
    Healthy greetings from Switzerland
    Leoluca Criscione

  168. Anonymous says:

    Just listened to excellent interview Taubes did on KPBS: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jan/04/what-does-food-have-do-being-fat/

  169. David Isaak says:

    Nigel, I think that Johman was responding to the question posed in the first sentence of Alan’s comment–and a very good answer it is.

    As to your question about what that has to do with the vast majority of the population–well, that’s another question. Certainly “excretion” isn’t a major pathway.

    In many overfeeding studies, however, increases in BMR, especially “futile cycling” which generates excess heat, seem to be relevant. Overfeeding studies are quite interesting in that weight gain does indeed occur, but the relationship between caloric intake and weight gain is far from predictable, and over time tends to “max out” at some level–even though the presumed “calorie excess” is constant.

    When I was overweight, I always became quite hot after a meal. This wasn’t merely subjective; people around me commented on it. Now that I’m around 11% body fat, I no longer heat up when I eat.

    There appears to be some form of homeostasis involved, but the whole area is underresearched.

  170. arrabella says:

    I genuinely do not overeat, and i am obese. When i was a child, i had no control over the quantity and accessibility of food. My parents provided meals, and that was all. My two brothers were skinny and i was fat! I ran around outside as much as they did, i swam, rode horses, was never lazy, yet, i was very fat? I have horses, the same size, fed on the same food, excercised the same, one is prone to
    lose weight and condition, the other remains plump!
    Its a mystery to me. But without doubt, my experience as a small child, without ability to access food eating exactly the same as my siblings, proves that there are surely some differences in chemistry of some fat people. To keep my weight reasonable, i eat no sugar, wheat or diary, no red meat. I have no wrinkles, and great skin, and low cholestrol, but i am still only 5’7 and 200llbs! Strange

  171. Anonymous says:

    My husband suffered from type 2 diabetes for over 20 years. During that time, he saw his doctor faithfully, tried to lose weight and took the meds the doctor prescribed. His condition deteriorated as the years passed. Doctor finally told him there was nothing more he could do and sent him to an endocrinologist and nutritionist. Endocrinologist put him on 5 units of insulin a night, nutritionist told him to eat between 14 and 16 carbohydrates a day. She explained that 15 grams of carbohydrates equaled one carbohydrate. She was telling him to eat between 210 grams and 240 grams of carbohydrates a day.

    After 1 1/2 years his condition worsened. In July of 2002, I told my grown children that in 6 months I would be pushing dad around in a wheelchair.

    He had to increase the amount of insulin he was injecting. By this time, he was at 43 units a night.

    His weight, which had always been an issue, now ballooned up to 280 pounds. He was depressed.

    The neuropathy in both his feet was severe. On a pain scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst), his was a 9>. He was on nuerontin for the pain of the nueropathy. He could not walk over 75 feet without sitting down to alleviate the pain.

    He was irritable, moody, incredibly fatigued most of the time, had night sweats so bad that he covered his pillow with a bath towel every night, he would go to bed at 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. because he wanted to get rid of the pain from the nueropathy – he said if he can fall asleep he doesn’t have the pain. And he fell asleep very easily – even fell asleep while driving home by himself one evening and hit the concrete medium divider on the freeway.

    His entire personality changed. I hardly knew this man even though I was married to him at that time for over 30 years.

    I came across Dr. Richard Bernstein’s book, “Diabetes Solutions” I will make this long story (and believe me if it looks long to you, you should have seen how long it looked to me when I lived it) a little shorter. We implemented a low carb lifestyle. I gave up baking all the wonderful sweets he loved so much. I changed my cooking from ethnic foods like potato dumplings to serving a helping of broccoli instead of a starch/sugar laden food.

    Within one week of eating low carb, my husband’s personality came back. He lost 80 pounds within 9 months, he came off of insulin within 3 weeks, the neuropathy in his feet diminished to a pain level of <1, he has not had pain meds for over 7 years, he is off of diuretics meds. The doctor takes him off of medication every time we go. What a change!

    Oh yes, and my husband has also walked in 2 5K races and finished. He walks 2 miles on the track at our rec. center 3 times a week.

    Shortly after going on low carb eating, my husband asked me if I thought he was ill because he was losing weight so quickly after so many years of not being able to lose at all. I told him I didn't think he was ill — I thought he was getting well!

    One of his doctor's was so astonished by the change in his condition that she told him that he is her "poster child for diabetics." She said if she could get all her diabetics to do what he did, she'd be a happy doctor. My thought as I heard her say that was, "why don't you tell them what to do"

    It's been 7 years now. He has never gained back the 80 pounds. Once in a while he will gain 5 or 10 pounds and that is his sign that he has increased his carbs and needs to cut back. He is amazing.

    Oh yes, and I lost 40 pounds by eating the same way he does. We have started coaching other diabetics and the results have been heartwarming and very rewarding.

    T

    Tha

    • Thank you for sharing this. I am glad for you and for your husband recovery.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you, Mark.
        The last 7 or 8 years have been wonderful. One of the bonuses of low carb is a tremendous increase in energy levels. Our renewed energy and my husband’s improved health have made us both feel wonderful. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. What amazes us is that we feel like we’re in our 20′s again!

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you, Mark.
        The last 7 or 8 years have been wonderful. One of the bonuses of low carb is a tremendous increase in energy levels. Our renewed energy and my husband’s improved health have made us both feel wonderful. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. What amazes us is that we feel like we’re in our 20′s again!

    • Doug Lerner says:

      A very interesting story. Thanks for sharing. I wonder why some people, like your husband, are successful with losing weight and getting blood sugar under control with severe carb limitations and other people, like me, are not.

      On the other hand, I’ve been successful with losing weight and getting blood sugar under control by cutting calories to 1800 and ignoring how many carbs I eat.

      It might be the common factor is simply the “losing weight” part. Restricting carbs does reduce appetite. Maybe for some people it reduces appetite enough to lose weight long term and for others it doesn’t.

      doug

      • Anonymous says:

        Doug
        I am happy to hear you have been successful in losing weight. I am curious about what you meant by “severe” carb limitations. My husband eats 5 to 6 carbs a day which translates to upwards of 90 grams a day.

        We start every day with a great breakfast which consists of bacon and/or sausages, eggs, strawberries, blueberries (a small amount of blueberries), a piece of toast and black coffee. Lunch might be a grilled cheese sandwich – I use lots of butter when making grilled cheese – and a salad. A typical supper might be roasted chicken (with skin on), broccoli and green beans. A snack might be some sugar free (prepared) Jello. We measure everything except our meat. If there are 9 grams of carbs in 2/3 of a cup of the peas, then 2/3 or even 1/3 of a cup of peas is what we eat.

        I hope this helps explain a little on how we use low carb to lose weight and control blood sugar and gives you an opportunity to compare it with your methods.

        Among other things, our seminars teach people how to understand nutrition labels and especially the 2 main points on those labels: the serving size and the amount of grams of carbs in that serving size.

        And congratulations again on lose weight! Good for you!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Doug
        I am happy to hear you have been successful in losing weight. I am curious about what you meant by “severe” carb limitations. My husband eats 5 to 6 carbs a day which translates to upwards of 90 grams a day.

        We start every day with a great breakfast which consists of bacon and/or sausages, eggs, strawberries, blueberries (a small amount of blueberries), a piece of toast and black coffee. Lunch might be a grilled cheese sandwich – I use lots of butter when making grilled cheese – and a salad. A typical supper might be roasted chicken (with skin on), broccoli and green beans. A snack might be some sugar free (prepared) Jello. We measure everything except our meat. If there are 9 grams of carbs in 2/3 of a cup of the peas, then 2/3 or even 1/3 of a cup of peas is what we eat.

        I hope this helps explain a little on how we use low carb to lose weight and control blood sugar and gives you an opportunity to compare it with your methods.

        Among other things, our seminars teach people how to understand nutrition labels and especially the 2 main points on those labels: the serving size and the amount of grams of carbs in that serving size.

        And congratulations again on lose weight! Good for you!!

        • Doug Lerner says:

          Maclover,

          Thanks for your note. But before you congratulate me, I’ve rebounded again. That’s why I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I don’t lose weight on low-carb. I do lose weight on low-calorie, but I can only manage to stay on it about 2 years. Then I start regaining. I’ve lost and regained 100+ pounds on low-calorie 5 or 6 times already. (sigh)

          By “severe carb limitations” I mean no more than 20 grams of digestible carbs per day. In other words, essentially what is prescribed in Atkins “induction” level in order to turn it into a so-called “ketogenic” diet.

          I’m not sure what you mean by 5 to 6 carbs a day translating to 90 grams a day. Do you mean you have 5 or 6 servings of carbs a day?

          If so, and looking at your menu, 90 grams of carbs per day could be about right.

          When I’m dieting low-cal I tend to lean towards the proteins myself, but avoid the butter and fats you mentioned. I avoid the fats because they are high calorie. And I tend to avoid bread just because it isn’t that satisfying and it seems like wasted calories. I sometimes have udon or soba or a bento (boxed lunch) with rice in it if the calories are within limits. I almost never eat sandwiches because they are shockingly high-calorie, even for what looks like a small-sized sandwich, so I consider it a waste.

          I don’t know how many carbs I eat, but I would guess, comparing menus, that I am probably not off by your count by more than 50%. So I would guess naturally, when counting calories, that I probably eat between 100-150 grams of carbs per day.

          Still, I can’t keep my weight off.

          doug

          • Anonymous says:

            Hi Doug
            There are a couple of items in your comment here that really jump out at me. If I may, I’d like to review them with you and possibly offer some assistance. I was immediately taken by your comment “I don’t lose weight on low-carb. I do lose weight on low-calorie, but I can only manage to stay on it about 2 years. Then I start regaining.” My first thought in my experience of the last 5 years of coaching diabetics and presenting corporate seminars on how to reverse diabetes, I have not heard of one person who couldn’t lose weight on low carb. That started me to wondering what you may be doing wrong. I got a clue when I read: “I don’t know how many carbs I eat, but I would guess, comparing menus, that I am probably not off by your count by more than 50%. So I would guess naturally, when counting calories, that I probably eat between 100-150 grams of carbs per day.” This last statement could hold an important clue for you.

            Here’s what I present to my clients: You need to know how many carbs you eat each day. You need to know that 15 grams of carbohydrates equals 1 carbohydrate. When I speak of carbohydrates from now on you will know that I mean carbohydrates and not grams of carbohydrates.

            You need to know how to read a nutrition label. In that there are 2 very important items on those labels: 1. the serving size and 2. the total carbohydrates for that serving size.

            My next admonition to clients is this: Measure, Measure, Measure! Do Not Guess! 1 cup means 1 cup – 1 Tablespoon means 1 Tablespoon. We bought 3 extra sets of measuring cups and an extra set of measuring spoons and kept them on the table at dinner. Over the top? Well, it reversed my husband’s type 2 diabetes to the point where he came off of 43 units of insulin and other meds, significantly reduced the pain of his neuropathy from 9> to a <1 (10 being the worse of pain) and he lost 80 pounds. There's more but suffice to say yes, for us it was and is worth the really little effort that it takes to eat well and measure, measure, measure.

            Clients ask me how many carbs should they eat in a day. I tell them I don't know but I do know how to determine how many carbs you should eat. Choose a number of carbohydrates that you think you should be eating. Please don't forget if you are taking insulin or any medication to lower your blood sugar you should check with your doctor before lowering your carbohydrates. If you have a sedentary job, your number should be lower than if you have a job that requires a great deal of physical labor.

            You weight yourself every morning, in your birthday suit after using the bathroom. Doing this gives you the best possible reading on your weight and it gives you the best possible record of how well you are losing (or gaining) weight.

            Okay so let's assume that you decide that you should eat 6 carbohydrates a day (6 x 15 grams = 90 grams of carbohydrates or 6 carbs.) You do that for 2 weeks and see what's happening to your weight and blood sugar.

            If in those 2 weeks you gain weight or your blood sugar rises, you know that you should drop one or two carbs a day. You repeat the new carbohydrate intake for the next 2 weeks and watch what happens. Once you see that you are, indeed, losing weight, that is the number of carbohydrates that you stay with until you reach your goal.

            Once you reach your goal, you can add back one carbohydrate a week until you see your blood sugars going up or your weight.

            One last item from your comments that stands out for me: "I avoid the fats because they are high calorie." From all my research, fats are not high in calories but they are an important nutrient in our diet. We eat as much butter and fat as we desire. Blood tests for cholesterol come back as high in HDL, low in LDL, etc. I hope this helps you in your journey to lose weight and keep it off forever.

            I

            I

          • Doug Lerner says:

            Hi, Maclover.

            Thanks for your note and sorry for the confusion.

            When I say I don’t know how many carbs I’m eating I mean I don’t track carbs when I am doing calorie counting.

            But the multiple times I tried low-carb eating (Atkins) I rigorously did track all my net carbs, down to the 1.7 grams of carbohydrate in a teaspoon of garlic powder. I was very strict in my carb counting.

            I don’t know what you mean by 15 gm of carbohydrate equaling “1 carbohydrate.” Where is that from? I just count actual digestible grams of carbohydrate, which is usually defined as total carbs minus fiber.

            Anyway, when I restrict my carb levels to 20 grams of carbohydrate (the induction level of Atkins which is supposed to start-off your ketogenic diet) I find I lose some weight the first week or 2 but then simply do not lose afterwards, even I continue for months.

            The reason is not mysterious. I eat too many calories.

            Even the Atkins site, if you go through all the fine print, first just says don’t eat too many carbs. Then it cautions you not to eat too much protein. If you did deeper it says you may not be losing weight because you are eating too many fats (I have links to all these pages at the Akins site) and finally it does say you can’t eat too many calories and should limit them to 1800-2000 if you are a male.

            Well I knew that to begin with!

            I have tried low-carb eating many many times. But the only times I have ever actually lost a substantial amount of weight was when I limited the total calories I ate and tracked those instead.

            doug

          • Anonymous says:

            Thanks for all of the information. I find it very helpful. I’m new to low carb eating but find I’m losing weight without much effort. And also don’t feel so tired.

          • Anonymous says:

            As Gary shows our bodies are not evolved to eat carbs, check out the work of Dr. Al Sears on how are bodies are not evolved to do cardio or weightlifting, but only short intense bursts that expand lung volume. For example running a 50 yard dash a