Catching up on lost time – the Ancestral Health Symposium, food reward, palatability, insulin signaling and carbohydrates… Part II(e, as in “end” and “enough already”)


In our last post, we discussed, among other things, an experiment from the 1960s that Dr. Stephan Guyenet of has evoked to support the food reward/palatability hypothesis of obesity. This was an experiment by Sami Hashim and Ted Van Itallie published in 1965. Four subjects, two lean and two obese, consumed a formula diet from a machine that dispensed it through a tube. The lean subjects consumed as many calories as they always did and maintained their weight. The obese subjects responded by dramatically reducing their caloric intake – to 400 calories a day or less. The male subject continued this regimen for the better part of a year (although dispensing with the tube-feeding) and lost 200 pounds, half his body weight, doing so.

When I interviewed Dr. Van Itallie for GC,BC he considered this tube-feeding device to be his primary contribution to the field of obesity research. I would question whether this is a significant contribution to anything, but his experiments were interesting, nonetheless, and I’d like to take a little more space here to discuss them.

The questions we want to answer ultimately about this experiment are simple ones: why did the obese subjects consume so few calories on the feeding tube, and why was the one guy able to keep this up with the formula, eating 400 calories a day, lose so much weight, and do so without apparently being particularly hungry. Dr. Guyenet evokes the low food reward value of the formula to explain this (nonsensical as it seems when the formula itself, as discussed in the last post, was loaded with sugar). But do we need the food reward/palatability hypothesis to explain this particular n=1 anecdotal observation about extreme weight loss?

One flaw I find in Dr. Guyenet’s interpretation of this experiment may have to do with the fact that he’s a laboratory researcher not a clinician working with human subjects or patients. As such, it may be hard for him to imagine all the various ways that humans will screw up an experiment, ideal as they might be otherwise as the experimental subject of interest.

One obvious problem with any such study like Hashim and Van Itallie’s – non-randomized, only a few subjects (4 in this case) – is that there are an almost infinite number of reasons to explain what they observed. Here’s Hashim and Van Itallie mulling this issue themselves:

Whether the inhibition of food intake exhibited by obese patients represents a physiologic effect of massive stores of fat, or whether it results from psychologic factors relating to guilt about the obesity, fear of the feeding device, inability to adjust to the formula, or some other cause, is unknown. The fact that such a striking difference does seem to be present merits further investigation.

Oddly enough, Hashim and Van Itallie neglect the most obvious explanation for what they witnessed, and I suspect it’s because they, too, had little experience until then with obesity research on human subjects. Maybe their two obese subjects reduced their food intake so dramatically because they had reason to do so. They wanted to lose weight and had significant excess weight to lose. The lean individuals didn’t, and so they didn’t bother to reduce their intake. That simple. The obese man, for instance, was pathologically obese – 400 pounds – and he volunteered for the experiment.  So maybe he was using this as an opportunity to lose weight, consciously or unconsciously. Why else volunteer?

This is a very common problem with experiments that use obese or overweight human subjects and effectively any kind of diet or lifestyle intervention. People who are overweight have a motivation to lose weight. We could argue that the fatter they are, the greater their motivation. Even if they’re instructed specifically not to eat less, for instance, because the researcher want to study the efficacy of exercise or of ad libitum eating on, say, a low-fat or low-carb diet, the researchers can never be sure that the subjects didn’t ignore their instructions because, well, they want to lose weight and they’re in the kind of institutional setting that will help motivate them.

When I was researching GC,BC, quite a few obesity researchers made note of this problem. You could give obese subjects virtually any dietary or lifestyle instructions in an institutional setting, I was told, and they’ll promptly lose at least a little weight, because they want to lose weight. That’s why they’re there; that’s why they volunteered. And they are likely to eat less (calories and/or carbs or fat) no matter what instructions they get. That’s why when you do studies with obese subjects you randomize them into two or more arms and try to make sure that each arm has an equal intervention – a diet or lifestyle change that requires an equal amount of counseling and effort to get right. This should do a pretty good job of dealing with this motivation confounder, although you can never be sure.

In 1971 Hashim and Van Itallie returned to their food dispensing machine experiments in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. This time they reported that female obese subjects consumed less and lost weight on the tube-fed formula diet, while male lean subjects did neither. The NEJM published a letter in response, by a Virginia physician, making this precise point:

“All that one has to postulate to explain the differences in the behavior of the two groups is that the male group was at acceptable weight, and knew it, and that the other group was obese, and knew it, and that the obese females were trying to lose weight and did so by the very simple expedient of reducing the volume of food intake.”

In their response to the letter, Hashim and Van Itallie argued that this was unlikely to be the case based on the fact that all the obese subjects, men and women, behaved the same way: “It overstrains credulity to interpret such uniform behavior as being entirely the product of a systematic attempt to lose weight.”  Well, not my credulity, but it’s open to investigation. In a real science, Hashim and Van Itallie would have tried to figure out a way to rigorously test the hypothesis, not leave it up to us to judge whether their defense was adequate.

(That van Itallie and Hashim defended their decision to compare male lean subjects with female obese subjects on the basis that this was the best they could do – “Unfortunately, our choice of subjects was limited; thus, this `fault’ in design was thrust upon us,” they say– boggles the mind. It may be all you need to know to understand why I consider most obesity research to border on pseudoscience. And this, in a paper published in what’s considered to be one of the two best medical journals in the world. Sigh.)

Okay, so we still haven’t answered the question of why even one obese subject – male or female – would be able to maintain a 400 calorie-a-day regimen of this formula for months and lose significant weight without apparent hunger. Is it because the formula has a low-food reward value (sugar or not) or because, well, it lowers insulin levels and so this man is happily consuming his own fat, just as if he was on a protein-sparing modified fast (as many as 600 or 800 calories a day, but no carbohydrates) or starving himself entirely, or even, perhaps, eating an ad libidum ketogenic diet of virtually all protein and fat, in which hunger is also apparently suppressed in association with weight loss?

This brings us back to the question of calories vs. carbohydrates and why diets work when they do, as I discussed in this post. And it always discourages me when this issue is missed by otherwise intelligent commentators like Dr. Guyenet.

Here’s the composition of the formula, according to Dr. Guyenet: “carbohydrate supplied 50 percent of the calories, protein 20 per cent and fat 30 percent.” So, regardless of the food reward value, the 400-pound subject was eating a diet of roughly 200 calories a day of carbohydrates. Hashim and Van Italie tell us that he was eating about 3000 calories a day prior to going on the feeding tube, and if his pre-experiment diet was half carbs, than our subject cut his carbohydrate consumption on the feeding tube from 1500 calories a day or so down to 200.

Two hundred calories of carbohydrates – 50 grams worth – was low enough to be ketogenic. “Ketonuria was always present,” Hashim and Van Itallie write, “ and the blood ketone levels on several occasions was 15 mg. per 100 ml.” This means insulin levels on the diet were extremely low, despite the 50 percent carbs.

Why wouldn’t he be hungry? Well, here’s a guy who lost 200 pounds in 265 days. Assuming three quarters of that weight loss is fat and the rest lean tissue, that’s 150 pounds of fat that he burnt in 265 days, and this was fat he wasn’t burning back when he was weight stable and eating 3000 calories a day to run his body. That’s an average of about 1980 calories of his own fat he was consuming every day. The calculation is simple:

150 pounds of fat x 3500 kcal per pound of fat/265 days = 1981 kcal/day

Add to this the fifth of a pound or so of lean tissue he’s also consuming daily (50 pounds of lean tissue/265 days), and we can easily add another few hundred calories a day from the protein. So the fact that he could reduce his food consumption from 3000 calories a day down to 400 without feeling hunger, is not something that requires a lot of extra thought if we realize that in doing so, and lowering his insulin levels, he was consuming far more than 2000 calories a day of his own body – fat and protein — to make up the difference. We don’t have to evoke somewhat vague properties about the hyper-rewarding nature of the food to explain this.

There’s one other aspect of Hashim and Van Itallie’s crazy exercise in dispensing formula diets from a tube that I find relevant. The goal of  the experiment they published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1971 was to examine whether obese and lean subjects would respond to surreptitious changes in the nutrient density of the formula they were consuming. Hashim and Van Itallie diluted the formula with different amounts of water, fed it through the tube, and measured whether the subjects responded to the dilution by taking in more formula.

In this case, we can assume that the formula might indeed have been bland and so low in food reward value because Van Itallie and his researchers made it themselves without sugar. The carbohydrates in it were dextrose (glucose) and lactose.

Now the obese female subjects all “lost weight as long as they fed themselves by machine.” The lean males seemed to adjust to dilution of the diet by drinking more of it. Not so the obese women. They just kept drinking little of the stuff and losing weight, regardless of the dilution.

So if we buy into the food reward hypothesis (and we don’t buy the notion that the “obese females were trying to lose weight and did so by the very simple expedient of reducing the volume of food intake”), then we can conclude that non-rewarding food serves to lower the set-point of women and so they eat less and lose weight. All well and good, enormous assumption aside.

But Hashim and Van Italie also studied two obese adolescents under the same circumstances. The obese adolescents (boys, 13 and 15) ate as much as ever of the formula diet, although one of them actually refused to use the feeding machine after a week. Smart kid. One way or the other, “these two obese juvenile subjects differed from the adult subjects in that they either maintained or gained weight while receiving the machine-dispensing formula.”

Hmmmm…. Does this mean the reward value if a food is dependent on age? On sex? Men find bland formulas rewarding and get fat on them, women don’t? Or children do and adults don’t? Does it mean that Hashim and Van Italie’s food reward studies are so poorly controlled that, to steal a phrase, it overstrains credulity to consider any interpretation meaningful? My vote is with the latter, but once again I’m biased.



Speak Your Mind



  1. FrankG says:

    Thanks again Gary for being the voice of reason. It is so often overlooked that an”everything restricted” diet as in your post above is in fact a low-carb/high-fat diet… at least in so far as the nutrients being used by the body.

    As ever, Occam’s Razor applies and while I can see the superficial seductiveness of the idea that: we eat more of a food if we like its taste, I don’t see that as what the proponents of “food reward” are talking about… to go their way requires a leap of faith, into areas (such as fat set-points) where the brain is in central control of everything the body does. I agree with your position that: simpler and more elegant solutions — based on peripheral or local control — abound in nature (such as a murmuration of starlings). Set points can be maintained through homeostatic feedback mechanisms and do not require an all-powerful regulator. The brain may be like the conductor of an orchestra but like a conductor, it does not need to tell each system (or musician) how to perform their own function.

    I notice that in Stephan Guyenet’s “About Me” he writes, “I received a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia in 2002, and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Washington in 2009. Professionally, I study the neurobiology of body fat regulation and obesity” (My bold emphasis). His focus on finding a central/brain mechanism for obesity, makes me think of a famous Dilbert cartoon which illustrates the truism that “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. In this strip, a problem is presented at some company meeting. Everyone says an answer which happens to match their personal “hammer” — then in the last panel, a porcupine sitting at the end of the meeting table goes “We must stick them with quills! It’s the only way!”

  2. Ken says:

    Regarding the female test subjects versus the male test subjects, in a test where the entire diet was liquid, I have two female relatives who admits to drinking less liquid in order to urinate less (even to the extent of dehydration at times). They are related to each other only by marriage, so they do not share genetics, so I am sure other readers can corroborate. This makes any male vs female liquid diet results invalid.

    • dlm says:

      I’m female. I don’t restrict liquid and I urinate a lot, frequently. Liquid in, liquid out. How does this compare with male habits?

  3. Paul says:

    Dr William Davis in his book Wheat Belly talks about the addictive properties of wheat and that his (often pre/diabetic) patients automatically reduce their calorie intake by ~400 calories when they eliminate just wheat from their diet. Perhaps this is the brain mediated proximate cause of obesity attributed to “palatability”.

    I find the idea of individual carbohydrate tolerance (Jeff Volek et al) compelling, with (for instance) the Christopher Gardner video “The Battle of the Diets: Is Anyone Winning (At Losing?)” on YouTube presenting data showing that those with lower insulin sensitivity do much better on Atkins than on, say, Ornish.

    I remain puzzled as to the inter-individual variations in insulin sensitivity. Is it the fructose and/or the refined carbohydrates and/or the branched chain amino acids and/or something else?

    A final point. I am treated hypothyroid and my T3 dropped when I eliminated carbohydrates. My T3 level was restored when carbohydrates were re-introduced. Is there something important here? – are untreated low thyroid people drawn to carbohydrates to raise their T3 levels. Also, can the gluconeogenesis of the ketogenic state lower the cortisol levels in those individuals with untreated low adrenal status – with such low adrenal status individuals being drawn to carbohydrates to raise their cortisol levels.

    Thanks for your amazing contribution.

    • Warren Dew says:

      I think a significant proportion of the individual variations in insulin sensitivity is related to activity. It doesn’t take much anaerobic – resistance – exercise to deplete muscle glycogen and make muscles insulin sensitive again, at least temporarily. Not everything is explained by diet.

      • Peggy Holloway says:

        Nothing I have ever done, neither exercise nor diet, has improved my insulin sensitivity. I have to believe that in my case (especially since my entire family has experienced symptoms related to insulin resistance and that on conventional diets will become “Type II Diabetic”) it is genetic and progressive despite lifestyle intervention.
        I have been HFLC for 12 years and currently cycle intensively; in the summer (I live in a northern climate),I will bike at a 18 mph average for 2 to 6 hours a day most days. (I am 59 years old and female). Even with that degree of activity, I am unable to consume carbohydrates with the exception of non-starchy vegetables. I have serious symptoms if I consume hidden carbs (the only way I would do so is by accident) which include GI distress and heartburn, nervousness and shakiness, followed within an hour or so by brain fog and extreme fatigue. I simply have to believe that this is a genetic condition, and I believe it is the norm in humans, not the exception.

        • Warren Dew says:

          I feel for you, but I have to note that biking is aerobic, and as a result does not use much of the muscles’ stored glycogen. That’s especially true in women, whose aerobic metabolism seems more efficient than men. Heavy weightlifting, especially squats and deadlifts, to the limits of one’s leg strength, is what appears to help the most.

          Even then, women may not be able to tolerate much in the way of carbohydrate beyond nonstarchy vegetables.

    • PJ says:

      There are several folks who say that an increased protein intake may further reduce iodine, in iodine-deficient individuals. (Other nutrient deficiencies may be involved as well.) You may want to google that for more information.

      I’ve noticed over the years that many people (particularly hypoT women for some reason) feel they do better on a carb-cycling program than straight LC/VLC.

    • g says:

      Your T3 dropped because your adrenals couldn’t keep up. Low thyroid and adrenal insufficiency usually go hand in hand. Common modern neolethal factors adverse effect both (mercury, omega-6 veg/seed oils, transfats, SAD leptin/insulin damage, mineral deficiencies (magnesium, zinc, iodine), metal toxicity, halides, pesticides, plastics, PCBs, antibiotics, gut dysbiosis/autoimmunity, etc).

      PJ — I cycle and I do best this way. I’m LC but with exercise, high carb 80-100g/day

  4. Jim Hippard says:

    Thanks Gary. I believe I speak for many that we are reading and following the discussion. I am biased as well, but my bias is based on significant weight loss, good blood values, improving lean to body fat ratio, very good health including no more capillaries popping in my retinas and most importantly to me no more handful of medication every day, all in face of what my learned doctors demanded that I do, but I wouldn’t. And I can say emphatically that it had nothing to do with Dr. Guyenet’s theory of food reward (“it all swirls around the brain”) which for me is like saying the universe swirls around the earth. But then as a mere journalist you too are not learned in the same way Galileo was not of the church.

    • mark says:

      Wow. I just had to say “DITTO” !! Awesome post. I’ve had the exact incredible changes over the last 8 months by limiting sugar/carbs and eating more fat.

  5. Pen says:

    Dextrose is sugar, and it tastes sweet like sugar. So it is not true that Hashim and Van Itallie’s 1971 formula was made without sugar and not necessarily true that it was bland or had low reward value.

    • Alex says:

      I think the point being made is that pure dextrose (glucose) is less sweet than sugar (sucrose, which is a 1:1 blend of glucose & fructose). On the ‘sweetness scale’ sucrose is assigned the value of 100 while dextrose has a value of 75.

      I once did a self-administered oral glucose tolerance test and was surprised at how ‘bland’ 75g of dextrose mixed in 300 ml of water actually was!

  6. Jim Purdy says:

    I’ve long been a fan of Guyenet’s blog, but he lost me when he proposed palatability instead of carbohydrates as a major cause of overeating.
    In my personal experience, carbs are clearly my trigger foods which often start me on out-of-control binge eating.
    When I eat few or no carbs, my hunger goes away, and even the most tasty carbs — not even Krsipy Kreme donuts — don’t tempt me.

    • Bob says:

      This is what has always frustrated me about the “high fat” is bad for you argument: what’s considered “high fat” is also high sugar. Therefore, why isn’t the high sugar content the culprit and not the fat? I think for anyone with insulin resistance, if you gave them the same amount/calories/volume/weight of steak or ice cream, if they ate only steak, they would eat the amount and then not be hungry; if you gave them ice cream, they’d eat the amount and then be famished. This happens to me, as I can eat steak and not want any more, but if I eat ice cream, I’ll want more of it (or anything else that’s sweet) almost immediately.

      One of the problems is, too, that you don’t know how addictive sugar/high carb is until you’re on low carb long enough to gauge your addiction. Now that I’ve been a practicing low carb dieter for a while now, I’ve noticed that one high-carb meal will have me overeating (low carb) for DAYS thereafter. It’s also a physical desire (as far as I can tell) to overeat, and not a mental desire.

  7. Rocketman says:

    This personal observation may be relevant, maybe not, to the restricted feeding study under discussion.
    last Fall I was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis and was first treated with the standard restricted food intake (no food or water by mouth, crushed ice was my water source as well as the IV saline solution). For about a week I was on this starvation situation while the pancreas was allowed to rest and recover. Surgery followed.
    I wasn’t hungry on the starvation diet. I have read that people on long fasts often report the same sensation.
    My weight dropped from 195 lbs to about 160 lbs. in three weeks. My well muscled arms and legs were like matchsticks.

    • Rocketman says:

      Fron “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Taubes page 340 is a discussion of hunger and starvation.
      …”And once again, there is very little hunger during prolonged starvation. “In total starvation,” Keys wrote in ‘The Biology of Human Starvation’, “the sensation of hunger disappears in a matter of days.” This assessment was confirmed in the early 1960’s by Ernst Drenick at UCLA , when he starved eleven obese patients for periods of twelve to 117 days. “The most astonishing aspect of this study,” wrote Drenick and his colleagues in JAMA, “was the ease with which prolonged total starvation was was tolerated. This experience contrasted most dramatically with the hunger and suffering described by individuals, who over a prolonged period, consume a calorically inadequate diet.”

      Taubes continues…. “The implication is that we will experience no hunger if we eat nothing at all – zero calories- and our cells are fueled by the protein and fat from our muscle and fat tissue. If we break our fast with ay amount of dietary protein and fat, we’ll still feel no hunger. But if we add carbohydrates, as Drenick noted, we’ll be overwhelmeed with hunger and will now suffer all the symptoms of food deprivation. So why is it when we add carbohydrates to the diet we get hungry…. but this will not happen if we add only protein and fat?”

      Maybe carbohydrates are one of the food macronutrients with intrinsically HIGH FOOD REWARD VALUE [or something else]. I don’t think that this is what the good doctor had in mind with his concept of high food reward value driving weight gain.

      If you accept an addictive (or high self rewarding) aspect to carbohydrates [that they become sugars when digested probably has nothing to do with this :-)], then like potato chips , it is hard to stop with just one, or like with cigarettes to a smoker, one cigarette is one too many.

  8. Kit Perkins says:

    I find the argument that the obese volunteers spontaneously decreased their food intakes to extremely low levels with “willpower” unbelievably weak.

    In fact, it flies in the face of low-carb dogma, where it is frequently repeated that if your diet is 50% carbohydrate you will have uncontrollable hunger. This is often given as the reason that calorie-restricted diets fail.

    If I remember GCBC correctly (it’s been a few years), you argue that starvation diets are easy because of ketosis, but that if you eat some carbohydrate (say 400 cals of 50% sugar drink) it will pull you out of ketosis and bring on the hunger. I obviously think this argument is incorrect, but it seems what you’ve written here contradicts that.

    The rest of the discussion is silly and seems like a clear attempt to muddy the waters, obscuring the important issues where your hypothesis falls flat. No one is surprised that an obese person eating very little loses weight. The surprise here is that they ate that little (for a long time) voluntarily.

    • Mauricio Leal says:

      That’s not what he said. Read it carefully.

      Here’s the composition of the formula, according to Dr. Guyenet: “carbohydrate supplied 50 percent of the calories, protein 20 per cent and fat 30 percent.” So, regardless of the food reward value, the 400-pound subject was eating a diet of roughly 200 calories a day of carbohydrates.”

      “Two hundred calories of carbohydrates – 50 grams worth – was low enough to be ketogenic. “Ketonuria was always present,” Hashim and Van Itallie write, “ and the blood ketone levels on several occasions was 15 mg. per 100 ml.” This means insulin levels on the diet were extremely low, despite the 50 percent carbs.”

    • Warren Dew says:

      You don’t understand the carbohydrate insulin hypothesis properly. It’s not really the percentage of carbohydrate that matters, but the absolute amount.

      50% of 400 kcal is only 200 kcal, which was low enough to keep these subjects in ketosis. They were getting most of their calories from stored fat; the 200kcal of carbohydrate likely constituted less than 10% of the total their calories were burning.

      • Kit Perkins says:

        Why did he eat so little?

        • Alex says:

          Because he was finally using his stored body fat!

          If you require 2,500 kcals per day to function and get only 1,000 kcals per day from food (by ‘going on a diet’) you don’t suddenly continue to function at the same rate on 1,500 kcals less per day – you make up that shortfall by using the fatty acids released from your body fat stores.

          So when CICO advocates talk about creating a calorie deficit, they are merely talking about ‘putting less food in your mouth’ because, at the metabolic/cellular level, you are still ‘consuming’ the same number of calories to function, it’s just that a lot of it is coming from storage instead of food.

          As already explained, it is not the percentage of carbohydrate in the diet, so much, but the absolute amount. In my example above, a typical calorie-restrictive diet of 1000 kcals per day – if 50% came from carbohydrate – would equal 500 kcals or 125g of carbohydrate (500 kcals/4 kcals per gram). But 400kcals per day – 50% of which is carbohydrate – is only 50g of carbohydrate (50% of 400 kcals = 200 kcals/4 kcals per gram).

          • PJ says:

            I am severely obese. I’ve lost a whole lot of weight on lowcarb (and gained most of it back, and lost it again, a few times, sigh). I can tell you that it is actually pretty easy for me to eat very little if I am ketogenic. Partly because it kills appetite. Partly because fat cells appear to make leptin so maybe that is related (I don’t know). Mostly because I am losing fat. When I’m losing fat, I am not hungry, I have energy, and I’m pretty damn happy about it. I often have to TRY and get my calories up even over 1200 and that’s with tracking and careful effort.

            If I throw myself out of ketosis by eating too many carbs; or, if I eat too much fructose or any real amount of grains; my eating will shift, and I’ve seen over time and tracking that the damage tends to hit me 2-4 days later, not the day of the eating something offplan at a family gathering or whatever. Of course, if I eat grains and fructose together, I will happily eat like a rabid hyena until there is nothing resembling food left anywhere; there are clearly “triggers” that have a radically different effect on food consumption.

            And the latter note might relate to Dr. SG’s comments, except that in these instances, 99% of what I’m eating isn’t the food that triggered me, but just anything. Once the trigger is pulled, the body is just ravenous. If I can really really fast stuff it with as much saturated fats and protein as possible, then I can usually avert the worse response.

            But if I am ketogenic and getting decent nutrients, and *especially* if I’m actively losing bodyfat*, I can go without eating, eat very little, and stand next to pasta, chocolate and whatever and not even care. Six months of VLCK is a breeze for someone really fat, as long as they stay away from trigger foods and foods that knock them out of K.

            * Sometimes I am not losing bodyfat despite eating very little in carbs/cals, I suspect because the body has its own regulation of this. Sometimes I am even gaining weight while doing this, if I am near the bottom of the max weight (170) I’ve lost. I personally think the body has a limit, based on high-weight-ever, of what it will allow you to lose, at which point it will adjust appetite and energy output to compensate. During times I’m not losing fat, OR when I am particularly malnourished, I am sometimes hungry despite K and have little energy at all… which is probably because there isn’t really bodyfat dumping into the system to give it to me.

            Anyway, in summary, it is not amazing that someone weighing 400# ate 400 calories a day for 6 months and lost weight. As long as he WAS losing weight, the weight he was losing, fed him.

          • Rose Smith says:

            Just echoing PJ’s experience. I’ve struggled with my weight since puberty, and before I tried low-carbing (finally, in my forties), I would periodically go on an extended starvation-level diet, averaging 350 cals/day on weekdays, and 1,000 cals/day on weekends (I added lean protein to the weekday salad + apple). It was much easier for me to stay on that diet than it was to stick to the higher-calorie Weight Watchers program, or my (ex-) nutritionist’s high-carb, 1,200 cal/day diet. I was perplexed by that fact until I understood ketosis. (It also explained why I became hungry after the daily apple, but not after the salad.)

          • Kit Perkins says:

            Here’s the argument as I understand it:

            Obese male enters study with a personal plan to lose weight. According to his plan, he eats very little. Since he is eating very little, the total amount of carbohydrate consumed is low. Since the amount of carbohydrate consumed is low, less insulin is released, so fat is “unlocked” from fat cells, allowing weight loss. Since he is losing weight, he is not hungry. If/when low calorie diets fail, it is because too much carbohydrate is consumed, raising insulin, which “locks up” fat in fat cells, causing hunger.

            I have a few problems with this, but let’s just look at the big one: Insulin doesn’t “lock up” free fatty acids in obese people. In fact, in the presence of insulin, obese people’s fat releases more fatty acids than lean people’s fat.

            References in the next comment.

          • Kit Perkins says:

            The comment with refs is awaiting moderation….

            In the meantime, sorry about the typos.

          • Warren Dew says:

            Kit, I’m interested in your reference but I’m skeptical. Every paper I’ve read on the subject indicates that insulin inhibits lipolysis – release of fatty acids – from fat cells, both in vitro and in vivo. For example:


            Dozens more papers can be found with the same conclusions in just a few seconds of searching. This is not a controversial result.

          • Warren Dew says:

            And, since my comment went through automatically with links without moderation, I’m now wondering about what was different about your experience. I doubt it’s confirmation bias on the part of the automatic software.

          • Kit Perkins says:

            I tried again with some spaces put in the URLs and the new comment is also awaiting moderation. Could be that the moderator just has to approve each person once, and you’ve been approved in the past. That’s how I have it set up on my blog.

          • Jim says:

            Kit, it might be that the spam filter on the blog is screening out posts with multiple links. Try posting one reference at a time and see if it gets through.

          • Kit Perkins says:
          • Kit Perkins says:
          • Kit Perkins says:
          • Warren Dew says:

            All of those papers seem completely consistent with the carbohydrate insulin hypothesis.

            Now, it is true that in many obese people, it requires more insulin to inhibit lipolysis, which is just another way of saying the fat cells become insulin resistant. However, insulin production is also elevated in those people, so lipolysis is still inhibited to a comparable extent, at least until the person also becomes diabetic.

        • Warren Dew says:

          Kit, I don’t think we know enough about the experiment to answer your question. My guess would be that the adjustments to eating related habits resulted in all the subjects eating a lot less for the first day or two. The obese subjects went into ketosis, which suppressed their hunger, andthey never made any adjustments to eating habits and continued to consumer very little of the liquid. The nonobese subjects got hungry as their fat reserves were depleted, and adjusted their eating habits to drink more of the liquid.

          But, without more information, that’s just a guess. To figure out whether that guess is right or wrong, we’d need to know the liquid intake of the nonobese subjects – was it initially lower, increasing after hours or days – and also details about how all subjects habits changed to accomodate a different source of calories.

  9. Nice to know this is over since the argument may never end.

    What will not cease to be interesting (and I am looking forward to) is reading your future endeavors . . . another book perhaps?

    I sure hope it is about nutrition . . . .

  10. Rocketman says:

    Mouse brain repair study (New Scientist 11/24/2011)

    Neuron transplant into brains of leptin impared mice (dangerously obese) resulted in reduction of obesity by 30%. So, is this evidence that the brain plays an obesity role based on hormones and not of food tastiness?


    Neuron Transplant in Damaged Brain Fixes Obesity

    19:00 24 November 2011 by Linda Geddes

    A neuron transplant has rewired damaged brain areas in mice, raising hopes that similar transplants might one day help to treat spinal-cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other brain conditions.

    Jeffrey Macklis at Harvard University and his colleagues took healthy neurons from mouse embryos that had been labelled with a green fluorescent protein. They used them to repair a brain circuit involved in the regulation of food intake and body weight in response to a hormone called leptin in mutant mice born with damage to that area, which become dangerously overweight as a result.

    The fluorescent neurons survived the transplant, integrated into the brain circuit, and differentiated into mature neurons that could communicate with existing neurons and respond to leptin, insulin and glucose – suggesting that they had repaired the damaged circuit. The treated obese mice went on to weigh 30 per cent less than their untreated counterparts. ……………….

  11. Rose says:

    A new piece of evidence for the importance of the periphery (as opposed to brain-centered mechanisms):

    ” Interestingly, mice expressing the MC3R gene in the brain only displayed an obese phenotype (physical appearance) similar to those where all types of expression was suppressed, indicating that actions of this receptor in the brain are not sufficient to protect against weight gain. The finding that loss of MC3R activity in the periphery impairs metabolic homeostasis is startling, Butler said, and point to a distinct role for MC3R signaling in the peripheral tissues.”

  12. Hans Keer says:

    To Gary and Stephan : Why don’t you guys sit around a table for let’s say one week and try to come to consensus. I’m sure the outcome (especially when approved by CarbSane 🙂 ) will be of invaluable value. Working together will appear to be less frustrating for the both of you and the effectiveness will be much more satisfactory.

    • FrankG says:

      “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

      Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

      There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” — Michael Crichton,

      • Warren Dew says:

        Thanks, Frank – my thoughts exactly. I’d rather they continue to debate in public so the rest of us can see the evidence for ourselves.

      • Hans Keer says:

        Well, I think it would be far more effective and public health serving if they would go through the science they make play with together, discuss their interpretations and try to come to a mutual document (including their agreements and differences). Now they are disputing via their blogs and a lot gets lost in “translation”, talk at cross-purposes and cockfight. Of course the crowd is reveling, but this can be done in another way.

        • PJ says:

          I find both of them to be intelligent, well-written guys. I’m really enjoying the back and forth, as long as they keep it civil. I think what you’re trying to say is that you are confused and you want them to simplify it for you and put it in one place neatly categorized with clear and common points of reference. Perhaps someday, someone else will find a way to do that from their collected stuff. In the meantime, as their starting point of reference and concept is completely different, it’ll sound a little like two people having an argument about two different things. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

          • I think today’s blog format works fine. Now, if we can just keep the spectators in the stands to keep throwing beer at each other…

          • Suzie says:

            I have tried to follow all this, but I’m still confused (maybe I’m slow?) Maybe someone should detail exactly what each one’s argument is. I think I understand GT’s hypothesis that carbs increase insulin which leads to fat gain. SG’s reward theory is ? From experiencing the appetite suppression low carb eating causes me vs. the continued “I want to eat something all the time” effect carbohydrates have, it appears that carbs are addicting and they raise insulin that leads to fat gain. Isn’t it all related? Do people really get addicted to fat and protein in the absence of carbs and get fat?

        • mark says:

          That’s like telling someone who believes in God that their really isn’t one, that “it” is just in our brain. Let the proof eventually win.

  13. Joe says:

    A typo:

    “In a real science, Hashim and Van Itallie would have tried to figure out a way to rigorously test the hypothesis”

    I think you meant to write “in a real science experiment”, although maybe this was a Freudian slip that indicates what you think in general of nutrition science and obesity research as it has usually been conducted in the past.

    • Steven says:

      GT has said it straight out before so maybe he meant exactly what he wrote.

    • errihu says:

      I am fairly certain that is not a typo, as Steven said, GT has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t consider nutrition science a science. Given the evidence he supplies, I agree. Much of nutrition science is not, in fact, based on actual evidence but based on polemic and trying to shoehorn evidence into a pre-existing theoretical framework.

  14. Nina says:

    Interesting post. I don’t know about the US, but in the UK the media certainly treats obese women more harshly than obese men. So your point about the women in the study wanting to lose weight and the men being happy to stay as they were rings true to me.


    • PJ says:

      Ask almost any woman: men can be openly fat and careless about it, while nagging the wife to lose 10# when he’s got 50 extra. Obviously this does vary with the individuals, but culturally, the bias against excess weight is heavily against the female.

  15. tess says:

    FOUR participants???? somehow, the good doctor didn’t mention that when he was discussing that study….

    • PJ says:

      I know. It does seem like that makes it more a “food for thought” thing than a “look what science evidences” thing, doesn’t it.

  16. jocko271 says:

    Mr. Taubes, if insulin causes obesity and calories don’t matter, why was Atkins obese? Why is Jimmy Moore obese? Why do you yourself have to exercise in order to stay in shape? Why does Dr. Eades have to do the same? Why does anyone? Why can’t we all just eat fat and lay around in front of the TV to get as skinny as we want? Is that working for anyone here?

    At some point, you and all your zombies here will have to face the facts. Calories matter. Blaming insulin (one of many hormones that “locks away” fat) is not going to give you a free pass to being skinny.

    Mr. Taubes, being contrarian is cool to sell books, but your theories don’t work.

    • Sam Kite says:

      This is idiotic. I’ll save someone else the trouble of saying the obvious. Your entire comment is bullshit. The people you say were fat weren’t fat. Neither he nor anybody else has to exercise to stay in shape, if that shape is ‘lean’. If that shape is ‘strong’ then obviously you do need to exercise, which is why people like to exercise when their metabolism is screwed up by chronically high insulin. ‘Blaming’ insulin is the kind of thing a stupid child would say, since you can’t blame a chemical for doing what it does–you can just discover it and then try to do something about it. We can all just eat fat and sit around watching tv if that’s what makes you enjoy life–there’s 1000s of people who do it every day and you never hear about it because their metabolism was never deranged in the first place.

      Finally, contrarion would mean that he’s not saying what everyone already knew for 100s of years but only recently reversed through the dogged lies of assholes like you.

      • jocko271 says:

        Sam, all you have is hostility. And as usual with the Taubes Zombies, zero facts.

        Atkins wasn’t fat? Jimmy Moore isn’t fat? Taubes himself claims to be an athlete and works out regularly. He says this in his own books.

        You obviously have no understanding of metabolism or you would know that insulin is one of many many hormones which control fat loss and gain. Choosing one and saying it alone determines how fat you are is more simplistic and childlike than anything I’ve said in my comment.

        Read a book sir. No one in the scientific community takes Taubes or the insulin theory of obesity seriously. But being a maverick sure does sell books, don’t it?

        • Warren Dew says:

          Sam has hostility – but he also has the facts on his side. Atkins wasn’t obese until after the doctors pumped him full of IV fluids after he hit his head on the sidewalk. Taubes may work out to be athletic, but he doesn’t have to work out to be thin. I myself don’t work out, but I stay thin – 5’11, 140 lb – despite a couch potato lifestyle by eating high fat and low carb.

          Calories don’t make you fat without insulin. Lack of calories can of course make you thin by starving you, but cutting the carbs is an easier way to that goal.

        • Jim Hippard says:

          Let’s see. While I was loosing my 70 lbs over 2 years the only exercise I did was 15 minutes a week of resistance training a la Body By Science. My uneducated zero fact based theory was that muscle burns fat and I wanted to have healthy muscles so I can burn more fat so I wouldn’t go blind like my doctor said I would. Of course my doctor wanted me to do this by eating lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat foods (check the sugar content for a cup of skim milk – 12 grams) and heaven forbid no fatty red meat. I knew that system didn’t work because I had done it twice before with moderate success only to yo-yo back to greater weight than when I started. So instead I tried something different, I tried eating a low carb high fat diet and I’ll be a damned ignoramus if I didn’t start losing weight, improving health, improving lean to fat body ratio (bod pod), and everything else. And just to add to my zero fact ignorance I kept reading every book I could find, such as all the paleos, De Vany, Taubes, the Eades, Bernstein, Lights Out, etc, etc, not to mention the resistance training books like most recently Ori Hofmekler’s Unlock Your Muscle Gene. And because I didn’t want my zero facts to be limited to just books written by ignorant mavericks I started reading the actual studies that can be found on the internet in various black holes of ignorance like Pubmed. Amazing stuff out there in the ether, like Denise Mengler’s Raw Food blog. Her review of the China Study took the level of my ignorance to new levels of zero facts. Taubes was just one of many saying (actually he was reporting) that there is another way. And, important to me, that my past failures were not caused by behavioral weakness as conventional wisdom condescendingly implies. On the other hand, the level of your clearly much better informed brilliance makes me think I better go back to my old way of thinking and my old state of disease so I can eat lots of medicine and go blind. Thanks 2 bit Jocko for making things clear and being so helpful. Oh and besa mi culo.

          • jocko271 says:

            Oh hey Jim, que te folles cabron de mierda to you and your wonderful family.

            You and the other Zombies can choose the one hormone you know anything about to blame all your weight problems on, but weight loss is far more complicated than that, as anyone who understands metabolism will tell you.

            Taubes and his publisher have come up with the perfect scam to get you idiots to buy up his books and drool at every unfounded thing he says. As long as he stays some kind of “maverick” cowboy to you, “challenging the conventional wisdom” and “fighting the power”, you will give him all the money he wants. He is not trying to help you, and all of his theories have been disproven many years ago by countless scientists.

            But since his readers seem to be assholes as well as fools, I say maybe he deserves your money.

          • Jim Hippard says:

            You are right Jocko. You have convinced me. I want to be just like you; sick and stupid.

          • Lyford says:

            I lost ~75 pounds over 7 months this year, and I very intentionally did no working out whatsoever, because I wanted to see what the effect of a <20g carb per day diet was. I ate far less, with far less hunger, than I was ever able to eat on a low-fat diet. I stopped taking all of my cholesterol medications and most of my blood sugar medications. I had to replace all of my pants.

            Now, was this entirely due to the insulin effect? I don't know, and I don't claim to know. (Frankly, I don't even care.) What I do know is, that for me (and millions of others), Gary's theory, even if not completely correct in every particular, seems to be an accurate first-order approximation of how the world actually works. Is insulin the key? Don't know. If it turns out not to be, does that invalidate his work? Not for me. Possibly the effects of low-carb eating that I've seen result from driving bad humors from the body or scaring away the fat fairy. (Possibly it's even because I've eaten a "low reward" diet [as long as you define "reward" as being related to sugar and wheat – I've eaten a lot of food this year that I found very rewarding].) Don't know, don't care.

            It's common for people to come into all of these various threads and make comments about how Gary's work has changed their lives, but it's common because it's true. When I was a freshman in college, I played football at about 250. I'm now 48, and have spent most (basically all) of the last 26 years "weight stable" (more or less) between 290 and 350. I'm now at around 240, with significantly better blood work, significantly reduced medications, and I did it painlessly with no hunger and no working out. Did Gary's work change my life, drastically, for the better? Damned right it did. I'm neither a zombie nor a fool – I'm someone who read Gary's books, thought they made sense, changed my behavior based on what was in them, and saw dramatic results immediately.

          • FrankG says:

            Thanks Lyfoprd.. I guess actions really do speak louder than words Congratulations to you as well!;-)

        • Margaretrc says:

          “No one in the scientific community takes Taubes or the insulin theory of obesity seriously.” Stephan Guynet said exactly that–are you he or just one of his parrots? In any case, you are wrong. There are many scientists who do, in fact, take Taubes and the insulin theory of obesity seriously. Perhaps you are defining “scientific community” as comprising only those scientists who agree with you and other proponents of the FRH, but I assure you, the scientific community is much more comprehensive than that.
          You can choose to believe what you want. I, for one, choose to follow the science and, while insulin may not be the only hormone involved in fat deposition, it certainly is an important one–as evidenced by the enormous number of people who succeed in losing fat easily on a restricted carbohydrate diet. According to Biochemistry textbooks everywhere, insulin drives fat storage and excess glucose in the blood stimulates the secretion of insulin and is, in turn, the substrate from which the fat is synthesized and stored–once the body’s needs for glycogen and energy are met. So it makes perfect sense that restricting carbohydrates (the primary source of glucose in the blood) will decrease the amount of insulin secreted and simultaneously deprive the body of the substrate from which to synthesize fat, as well as force the body to use fat, rather than glucose, for energy. Or are you suggesting Biochemistry texts are incorrect? Call me a Zombie, if you wish, but I find Gary’s many books and articles very convincing, solidly grounded in science, and the most logical and satisfactory explanation of the facts surrounding obesity and weight loss, as well as T2 diabetes. Even if (IF) one were to buy the FRH as–at least in part–an explanation for weight gain/loss, (I don’t, at least not as I understand it thus far and I do wish its proponents would make up their minds as to whether they are talking about palatability or some effect on the CNS), it offers absolutely no explanation for the development of T2 diabetes. A diet that restricts carbohydrates, whether or not it is low reward/palatable, generates weight loss and, for the vast majority, resolves other health issues, such as T2 diabetes, blood pressure, and markers of cardiovascular health–all without the individual having to go hungry, count calories, or exercise like a fiend.

          • anonymous says:

            Could you name some (more than one or two) scientists who take Taubes and his hypothesis seriously? Thanks.

          • Margaretrc says:

            Dr. Richard Feinman of Metabolism and Nutrition Society–and the other members of said society. Dr. William Davis. Dr. Michael Eades. Dr. Mary Dan Eades. (Note, Dr. and Dr. Eades actually put out a book (Protein Power) on it first, so took the hypothesis seriously even before GT published his first book.) Petro Dobromylskyj, at Hyperlipid. Dave Dixon (a PhD Physicist of the blog “Spark of Reason”) These are just a few that I know of. Oh and Dr. Robert Lustig. Dr. Mary Vernon. You’ll notice many of these (not all) are doctors who treat actual people. Dr. Andreas Einfeldt (a Swedish doctor who is part of the LCHF revolution in Sweden.) As GT himself notes, all you have to do is open any Medical Biochemistry text to the part about insulin and it will say that insulin is the prime (not only) fat storage hormone and that it promotes fat storage and inhibits lypolysis. It will also tell you that the primary macronutrient that stimulates the production of insulin is carbohydrates. Fat doesn’t have any effect at all and proteins have minimal effect. I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude from that that it is the carbohydrates in our diet, particularly sugar and starches, that drive the accumulation of fat, via the action of insulin. I’m a scientist (by training, not vocation)–a Biochemist, at that, and Taubes and his CIH make infinite sense to me and, believe me, I take it very seriously. I live by it, as does my husband, who is not a scientist, but a reasonable, intelligent individual who finds the CIH extremely logical.

          • Margaretrc says:

            I’d also like to add that, even if it were true (it’s not) that “No one in the scientific community takes Taubes or the insulin theory of obesity seriously”, that is a lousy argument to use against a hypothesis. As Galileo Galilei once said, “In Science the authority embodied in the opinion of thousands is not worth a spark of reason in one man.” (I thank Dave Dixon of Spark of Reason for reminding us of that.) So I don’t much care who in the scientific community takes GT seriously and who doesn’t. To me, he and his hypothesis makes infinitely more sense than the FRH. But both of these are hypotheses, perhaps not even mutually exclusive hypotheses. Falsify the CIH with real evidence, not “No one in the scientific community takes Taubes or the insulin theory of obesity seriously.” And it’s not a theory yet anyway–even Taubes concedes that. It’s a hypothesis, but it works for many, many people. Until someone comes up with a better one that works in the real world (who is going to eat bland food for the rest of their lives?)–or falsifies the CIH with actual scientific data–it deserves to be taken seriously, whether or not it is.

          • FrankG says:

            Now “anonymous” perhaps you could return the favour by providing an extensive list of practising physicians who promote “food reward”* and have actually helped folks lose and maintain significant excess fat mass plus the many other health benefits; in the same way that has been achieved by those mentioned above who promote low-carb, because of its effects in limiting insulin? I daresay that tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands have already benefited and continue to benefit from a low-carb diet; underpinned by the Carbohydrate + Insulin Hypothesis.

            I find it very telling that in his latest blog post Stephan Guyenet is now claiming that Dr Robert Lustig “…also believes that food reward/palatability contribute to obesity. ” While it may be true that food reward has some role, Dr Lustig has recently been quite explicitly clear about his understanding of insulin’s primary role in the current obesity epidemic.

            It is this kind of intellectual dishonesty/misrepresentation that I see more and more on Stephan Guyenet’s blog that has me distrusting everything he has to say and is the reason I will not be reading over there any more — that and the support he gets from the shrill harpie “carbsane”… seriously, if she wants to help his cause she would do better to keep her mouth shut on his behalf.

            *as for FRH I share Margaret’s puzzlement at its lack of practical definition… are its proponents “talking about palatability or some effect on the CNS”. Recently I see Stephan Guyenet in a comment posing the question… “I have a rhetorical question for you. Why is it almost always the low-carb advocates who can’t accept the food reward hypothesis? Why is it that non low-carbers for the most part see it as a common sense idea that has been backed up by several decades of heavy-duty research? Is it really so hard to imagine that people eat more of food that tastes good?
            The fact that he pointedly makes this question rhetorical, suggests to me the he is unwilling or unable to even accept the there may be an answer — a pretty closed-minded way of approaching science if you ask me. And while it may superficially make sense that we eat more a “food that tastes good” it is a big leap from that to some magical fat “setpoint” under central control of the brain.

            As a counterpoint to “eating more of food that tastes good”… I might offer the example of mature cheddar where I find the older it is the tastier it is, and yet the less of it I need to eat to feel satisfied — a little goes along way, as they say. Similarly, chocolate that has a higher percentage of cocoa is far richer in taste and yet I’d defy you to more of a 90% cocoa vs. a 60% milk chocolate — which coincidentally has far less cocoa but far more sugar.

          • FrankG says:

            …and again, today I made myself a Vindaloo curry with local grass-fed beef… very tasty! I will be eating it in small amounts over the next few days because, as above “a little goes a long way”. BUT I know from past experience that were I to eat it with plenty of naan bread, poppadoms, mango chutney and rice, I could probably finish the whole pot today. So relatively bland sugars and refined starches would facilitate me to eat more than I clearly need. Is that due to some central effect in the brain or because of the well documented peripheral effects of insulin? Occam’s razor applies… why the need to complicate things? In fact I have yet to hear of an “high reward” food (by FRH definition) that is not high in sugars and refined starches.

            Nor for that matter do I see any (even anecdotal) examples of folks who have found some level of success with a “low-reward” diet where they had not already lost significant excess fat mass and stabilised their metabolism by eating a low-carb diet. Perhaps food reward has some part in all this but even that much has to be proven to my satisfaction and it is most clearly not a slam-dunk where FRH has in any way disproved the Carbohydrate + Insulin Hypothesis.

    • Alex says:

      I count myself as one person here (at least) that can say that I do “just eat fat and lay around in front of the TV to get as skinny as [I] want”!

      Actually, I don’t lay around in front of the TV (all day!) but neither do I undertake any regular exercise outside of general day-to-day activities and walking.

      Since going low carb (several years ago now) I have lost excess fat, got down to a BMI at just over 22 and a body-fat percentage that puts me on the lean side of ‘ideal’ for a male of my age. I can eat one or, at most, two meals per day (high fat – mostly saturated, moderate protein and low carb), usually around late afternoon or early evening and not feel hungry or lacking in energy in between (typically a 16-24 hour fasting period from one meal to the next) and maintain a bodyweight that does not alter by more than a kilo or two either way on an on-going basis. I’ve also been healthier these past several years than at any other point in my life – I very rarely, if ever, get colds, flu or infections and have drastically reduced the incidence and severity of migraines and completely eradicated my pollen allergy.

      • jocko271 says:

        Alex you said: “I can eat one or, at most, two meals per day…” and that you typically fast for 16-24 hours.

        Do we need more proof that it’s not the insulin that’s keeping you lean? You eat a restricted calorie diet.

        Does anyone want to face the facts? Or do you all just want to go on thinking you’ve somehow rigged the game because you’ve defying 100 years of scientific literature saying it’s calories in-calories out?

        • Alex says:

          I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full, then don’t eat again until I am hungry once more! Hunger is never acute and does not arise suddenly. I do not get weak, dizzy or nauseous when I have not eaten for several hours. This is entirely opposite to when I used to eat a high carb, low fat diet – even a raw vegan one!

          I don’t count calories – some days I may eat more than others. I trust my body to let me know what, when and how much to eat.

          As I said in an earlier response – there is NO calorie deficit at the cellular level – we need a finite and absolute amount of energy daily to run our bodies and perform our daily tasks. Either it comes from food directly or indirectly – via stores from previous meals.

          I eat food NOT calories, I want to eat a beef steak not 400 kcals worth of beef steak. If it takes 600 kcals of beef steak to fill me up, then that is how much I eat – it is of no use or interest to me to know that I should only eat 400 kcals worth in order to meet some arbitrarily set target!

          My calories are regulated automatically because I eat the types of foods that do not interfere with hormonal signalling. Because my hormonal signalling is working optimally, I maintain my optimum bodyweight, body-fat percentage and BMI – I DO NOT maintain these things because I count calories and deliberately maintain a ‘caloric deficit’!

        • Steve says:

          Jocko, no need to be such an angry grinch. You too can share in the secret!

          You do know that LCHF people are about more then simply fat loss?
          You do know that you are free to post links to all this scientific literature you speak of? (Not that you come across as disgruntled and foolish or anything…)
          You do know that people with even average intelligence don’t waste their time trolling amongst people of differing opinions?

          Nah, you probably didn’t know.

          All this anger, it cannot help but worsen what is surely some pretty bad inflammation problems for you.

          Peace, and good health to you!


        • Razwell says:

          Try this experiement.

          Try eating a calorie restricted absurdly sugar rich diet with very little protein . See where it gets you. Even if weight does not increase much, you will develop a belly with SADLLE BAGS, and have a fat riddled physique. Skinny fat is the term. Skinny fat at best is all you can hope for.

          Hey, everybody loves the “skinny lost weight in my shoulders and KEPT my belly and saddle bags and still look like hell” look right?

          You certainly will not win any bodybuilding contests doing this.

          Date and banana diets get you NOWHERE. Insulin is not the only thing involved BUT SCIENCE HAS ABSOLUTELY identified insulin as a fat storage hormone. There is no getting around this. It IS strongly involved for sure. it just is not the *only* thing.

          Gary Taubes desereves credit. He got the ball rolling in the RIGHT DIRECTION.

      • Fred-Jan says:


        What you are doing is intermittend fasting, wich works very well. But i guess your succes has nothing to do with low carb. Intermittend fasting will work just ass wel with a higher carb content.

        • Warren Dew says:

          I think the key here is where he says “I can eat …”. With a higher carb content, the insulin spike would drive a delayed blood sugar crash after each meal, and the resulting carb cravings and hunger would make the fasting period much more difficult.

          • Fred-Jan says:


            IF has a hunger blunting effect of it’s own. When i cycle carb intake between training days and resting days i notice no difference between the high and low carb intakes with respect to hunger or cravings.

          • Warren Dew says:

            Some forms of exercise can make up for certain amounts of carb intake due to glycogen depletion. Try doing a few months with every day being a high carb day and see what happens.

        • FrankG says:

          I also only eat when I am hungry.. which naturally happens for me every few hours. The point being that on a diet low in carbohydrates (especially low in sugars ad refined starches) I am no longer hungry all the time… which literally means that: as soon as one meal was done I was looking or planning for the next food.

          Fasting on the other hand implies to me a conscious period of extended “non-eating”… that is a different topic all together — unless we now take “IF” to means the space between meals when we are not eating?

          • Fred-Jan says:

            IF can be practised in many different ways. I personaly use a six hour feeding window per day in wich i use all my meals. This looks a difficult task but actually it is not. After a short while of getting used to the regimen it produced less hunger than i experienced with low carb. Plus it got my fatpercentage under two digits. Something i could never have managed with low carb or any other regimen without calorie acounting. Make no mistake calories do count practicing intermittent fasting as it does in every other diet.

          • FrankG says:

            Thanks great for you but why are we even talking about “IF”? You brought it up by apparently assuming that was what Alex was doing and that somehow this disproves low-carb???. I hardly see that a 6 hour fast counts as “IF”… most folks do more than that each night 😉

            Meantime back on the topic of this blog…

          • FrankG says:

            I don’t count calories… no other animal on the planet counts calories and yet somehow they manage to stay in balance. I have lost significant (100+lbs) excess fat mass and maintained that loss for over 3 years, easily and without hunger or deprivation on a low-carb regimen.

        • Alex says:

          No you are wrong. I did not choose to fast intermittently, making low carb an unconscious and secondary consequence of that decision.

          I chose to go low carb, then very low carb eating to a ‘normal’ pattern. I just found that the desire to eat frequently disappeared over the longer term to the point that I fast intermittently!

          This is the point everyone in the CICO camp misses: eat the right foods and you don’t need to measure/control calories, portion sizes or meal timing/frequency. Your metabolism works optimally and energy supplied by food/body stores exactly matches your expenditure.

          • Alex says:

            I should have added – at the end of that last sentence:
            …and is dictated by hunger/satiety signals not by conscious decision or the application of will-power!

          • Mike Ellwood says:

            Just to add another scientific name who thinks along the same lines as Gary Taubes: Dr Barry Groves, who has actually been living the low-carb life since a long time before Gary Taubes wrote anything about low-carb. BG was inspired by Dr Richard Mackarness, who wrote a low-carb-based diet book in 1958 which was in print for a couple of decades.

            As someone indirectly pointed out, these are not “Gary Taubes’ theories”. Gary is reporting the scientific evidence, as he has analyzed, sifted and weighed it, and the evolution of the various theories of weight-gain and weight-loss and the approaches to them, from the time of Banting onwards.

            If I have one criticism of Gary, it is perhaps that he hasn’t put enough emphasis on the role of PUFAs. Actually, in the body of the text of GC, BC, he does make a pretty good case against them, and anyone following low-carb from first principles, having read GC, BC properly, would have been sure to avoid them (which is why I’m surprised when a lot of people claim that low-carb diets tend to be high in PUFAs). But in his final conclusions to GC, BC, Gary appears to implicitly give PUFAs a free pass when he seems to exonerate all fats, which I think is a bit unfortunate. Not all fats are created equal.

            I think that in the long run, PUFAs will turn out to be even more significant than carbs.

    • It worked for me.

    • js290 says:

      Under what conditions are the Laws of Science invalid? Hint: Our hormones will not violate any Laws of Science.

      • Razwell says:

        Physicis ITSELF is currently being turned on its head, with a POTENTIAL need for the textbook to be re- written if experiments verify that neutrinos travel faster than light by a littl ebit. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity has a noose tightening around it strongly. NOTHING, in science, is sacred NOTHING.

        Furthermore, this thermodynamics argument put forth by the commercial diet industry is the mark of poeple who have no clue. Thermodynamics says NOTHING about how fat cells are regulated chemically, nor about the chemicla behavior of fat cell receptors. Thermodynamics says NOTHING about FUEL PARTITIONING- a cental issue in obesity and fat cell disregualtion.

        HORMONES DO. HORMONES dictate WHAT calories are used for – muscle and body maintenance OR shuttled to fat tissue.

        The nostrum of “eat less, move more” HAS been debunked in numerous quality studies. Dr. Jeffrey Friedman is on record saying this. It is as outdated as the Earth being flat.

        There is NO EVIDENCE in the scientific literature that dieting and exercising have much impact on our bodyweight over the very long term . They are fir health NOT weight loss. We must acknowledge and respect the extremely limited potency of dieting and exercise to substantially change body weight over the ong term. Dr. Friedman said this too.

        GENES take charge.

        Deeper. Dig deeper.

        • Mike Ellwood says:

          With all due respect, I hardly think that Physics is being turned on its head.

          Yes, an apparent anomaly regarding the speed of light, and yes, in a separate development, the Higgs Boson may have been spotted. It’s been long time since Einstein, and the HB was also mooted quite a long time ago, so these developments are qujite natural, especially when we have more technology to throw at the problems than in the past.

          Developments will continue to occur in all of the sciences, and the important thing is to keep the science honest. Physics is still mostly honest (although Gary’s exposé of the “cold fusion” saga demonstrates that even in physics, you have to keep an eye on people). Medical science sadly no longer seems to be very honest, with the drug and food companies driving so much of it.

          The use and abuse of science is the real lesson behind GC, BC.

          I agree that nothing in science is “sacred” though.

    • Razwell says:

      I invite you to look deeper into this. Obesity is an extremely complex , chronic condition. *Over 10 % of morbidly obese poeple are that way due to a single defective gene. ( Friedman J)

      *The heritability and genetic component of obesity is equal to height. ( AJ Stunkard)

    • mark says:

      I did. I dropped carbs and ate fat with no exercise and lost 25lbs

  17. Sam Kite says:

    The more fundamental problem I have with this food reward idea is that it is less testable and answers fewer questions than the more general inflammatory effects hypothesis of obesity that the paleo community cleaves to *or* the chronic insulin elevation from carbohydrate hypothesis that effectively seems to say the same thing. All the reward (non)hypothesis seems to accomplish is to criminalize pleasure in that puritanical pathology that has been dominating every modern ethical structure since the victorian era (and long before, obviously). For chrissake, as if there are not other far more tangible rewards resulting from being lean. This man has never had type 2 diabetes and stayed up nights with his feet on fire, clearly. According to this mode of thinking the only thing standing in the way of a meth user getting clean is making the process of taking the drug less exciting.

    Frankly, this theory sounds like a tryptophan deficiency in untestable hypothesis form. Is he so afraid of hunger that he is polluting the information in the field to try to discourage people from enjoying food and eating too much–thereby preserving more for him and his prospective mates? Is this a chimpanzee-esque adaptation to masculine power struggles in the otherwise cooperative human population? Mr. Guyenet is threatening the communal harmony that has made humanity the thriving interconnected organism which I so prize. The only appropriate response I can muster is to take a page from the bonobos and get him laid until he is pacified.

    • Warren Dew says:

      I don’t think most of us in the paleo community think inflammation causes obesity. Rather, chronic inflammation from certain foods – most but not all of which also happen to be high carb – causes or exacerbates all a mannter of other issues, from hay fever to multiple sclerosis. We avoid or minimize those problems along with the problems of obesity by eating the diet evolution designed us to eat.

      • jocko271 says:

        I think all of you “in the paleo community” should actually read about what our ancestors ate and still eat before you go thinking it’s all about insulin.

        Ever hear of the Kombai? Or the Kitavans? The Massa? The Hadza? The !Kung? None of them eat low carb diets. And some of them eat 90% carbs, with almost no fat/protein. Yet none of them are fat or have diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

        Why are Asians on their usual Asian diet not fat, yet Westerners are? They are stuffing themselves with polished white rice at every meal. I’m sure you’ll say their insulin somehow stays low, because that’s your answer to everything, but the studies show their insulin goes up just like everyone else’s when they eat high carb.

        Why are they skinny and you have to try every diet known to man just to maintain weight? Why are there so many weight loss failures in the low carb world? Because you won’t own up to something you hate: deprivation (ie. calories in/calories out). I know it hurts to admit, so you’ll pay lots of money on books that tell you it’s not your fault, it’s just your screwed up insulin. You’ll even treat it like a religion, following your guru and defending him even though if you actually think about it for 20 seconds, you’ll realize the whole theory is ridiculous.

        You guys are worshipping cargo cult science spewed from a marketing guy and his publisher who just want to sell books. Please, I want to hear about how you eat 5000 calories of pure fat every day and sit on your asses and are super skinny.

        • jocko271 says:

          Actually I can see trying to get you brainwashed fools to objectively understand metabolism will be a waste of time as long as you believe so desperately in the integrity of the guru you worship.

          So Sam, Warren, Jimmy Boy and the rest of you Zombies, why don’t you chew on this:

          Is Taubes a lazy researcher, a book marketing wizard or just a big, fat liar…?

          • FrankG says:

            Evelyn..? Evelyn… is that you..? Is this thing on??? Dear… you forgot to take your pills again and you’re posting on the wrong blog :-0 Don’t worry… nurse will be along soon.

          • Chris says:

            Can someone say…NARCISSIST?!

        • Warren Dew says:

          I think you need to look up the definition of “ancestor” before you start criticizing people. None of my ancestors are from the groups you name; those groups are all modern day groups, not paleolithic groups.

          The Kitavans and the Masai are not even hunter gatherers; Kitavans are horticulturalists – farmers – and Masai are herders. The Hadza diet is influenced by centuries of being surrounded by Bantu agriculturalists, in an area where the game has been largely hunted out. Available data on the !Kung shows a diet high in fat – vegetable fat from nuts, yes, but still fat. What I can find on the Kombai is that they eat mostly hunted animals and grubs, so again, it’s a high fat diet.

          However, none are representative of the paleolithic diet, as they all live in marginal lands where large game has been hunted out. The available data for the bulk of the paleolithic is sparse, but confirms a meat heavy diet. For example, there’s the koobi fara find from about 2 million years ago, where a midden showed substantial consumption of a fatty meat – hippo:

          No similar data has been found confirming any plant based food from the same period, and bone isotope studies of neanderthals from later in the paleolithic likewise indicate a diet high in meat.

          • jocko271 says:

            I said “Massa” not “Masai”. The Massa eat sorghum, root vegetables and nuts. Not a high fat diet.

            The Kitavans being horticulturalists does not detract from the fact that they eat a 95% sweet potato diet and have no obesity or metabolic syndrome. Are you going to tell me that’s because o the low insulin? The !Kung eat both high carb and high fat depending on the season. But are you going to say they’re always in ketosis? They’re staple is a nut with equal proportions of carbs to fat.

            Speculating on what the “real” paleolithic diet was is ridiculous. You weren’t there. You don’t have real data, just heresay and random obervations from researchers who, even you admit, got there way too late to get a good idea of what we evolved eating. Why don’t you use the data that’s right in front of your face, right here, right now? Asians eat tons of white rice and are skinny. Kitavans eat almost all sweet potato.

            All kinds of cultures are eating high carb and not getting fat, but you refuse to see it because you are brainwashed by Taubes’ repackaged (after 100 years of failure) insulin theory.

          • Warren Dew says:

            “Massa” is one of the synonyms for masai. It also, separately, refers to groups like the bougoudoum and yagoua. Evidently you mean the latter, but you did not specify. As they are agriculturalists, they are of course irrelevant to paleo, which is based on preagricultural diets.

            The Kitavans are also irrelevant to paleo since they are horticulturalists – a form of agriculture – and you are wrong about their diet anyway, which far from being 95% sweet potato was also high in fish and pork. The Chinese are also agriculturalists and irrelevant to paleo, though I’ve discussed them elsewhere in the comments to this series of posts by Taubes. Feel free to respond to those comments if you want to discuss them.

            As I mentioned, there is data on what real paleolithic diets were like based on archeological data that rules out a high intake of plant foods. Sparse data is still valid data. You should feel free to ignore that data if you wish – no one is asking you to adopt a paleo diet – but they are useful to those of us who prefer to pay attention to facts.

        • Suzie says:

          I could never eat 5000 calories of fat everyday, but I can eat that many carbs easily and that does make me fat.

        • Mike Ellwood says:

          what our ancestors ate and still eat

          What our ancestors still eat? Wow, that’s an impressive trick to pull. I really wish I could see, or even read about, what my ancestors are still eating. And all this without refrigeration, presumably.

          BTW, I was in a traditional Japanese restaurant (in London) last night, and while there was plenty of fish and rice on offer, there was also plenty of meat. Not too much fat in evidence, I will concede.

        • Mike Ellwood says:

          Stephan really needs a clear-thinking, clear-speaking, enlightened and open-minded person such as yourself to espouse his cause. I’m sure he would be proud.

          By the way, the Hadza, according to Wikipedia, are hunter gatherers, and eat both meat and carbs, according to availability, exactly as one would expect.

          As it happens, I don’t go along with the whole “paleo” concept, although not because of your somewhat erratic “knowledge” of the diets of various people across time and geography, but common-sense tells me that we have no way of being certain of the sort of diets we evolved to eat. However, we can be sure it wasn’t the standard American or British diet, and we can use our intelligence and common-sense to get away from what the processed-food industry tries to sell us, and try to eat as near to real food as possible in the modern world. Some of us have found that in addition, carb restriction has been immensely helpful in terms of both health and weight. However, if it doesn’t suit you, then you may be happier following Stephan’s guidelines, and presumably would be happier spending more time on his blog, and less time on Gary’s.

  18. jocko271 says:

    In fact, this article is so important to debunking that sacred “voice of reason in the wilderness” image you all have of your guru, I’ll post it as a new comment just to piss you off:

    But I’m sure you’ll all desperately hold your copies of GCBC to your hearts as you read it and say it’s just the evil “medical establishment” trying to hit back yet again at good ol’ Gary. Judging from the success of Taubes’ books, it seems you Zombies will say and do anything to convince yourselves you don’t have to balance calories to stay lean.

    I’ll say it again: Taubes is either a lazy journalist or a big, fat liar. He’s laughing all the way to the bank after owning you idiots.

    • bopes says:


      look at Taubes’ response to Fumento:

    • FrankG says:

      An exercise in vitriol rather than sound journalism — Gary Taubes responds to Michael Fumento’s article here…

      This is the first sentence of the Wiki article about Fumento: “Michael Fumento is an investigative journalist, attorney, and author of five books, admired by some and criticized by others as a bigot and conspiracy theorist.”

      • jocko271 says:

        Yep, I’ve read Taubes’ “response”. Which is his typical play: downgrading the credibility of others when they disagree and/or nail him on the facts.

        And Fumento is no more a conspiracy theorist than all of you lot, thinking the big bad Agriculture Industry-Medical Establishment Complex is somehow trying to lie to the public to keep us all fat and miserable and on drugs… Get a grip.

        • FrankG says:

          … the Wiki article on goes on to say “In 2006, Scripps Howard News Service terminated their relationship with Fumento when it was revealed that he had failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest while writing opinion columns about the Monsanto Company during the time that he was a fellow of the Hudson Institute, an American think tank which had received money from Monsanto”

      • jocko271 says:

        And nope, not CarbSane. Neither do I read her. The only person with the real facts on weight loss seems to be Stephan. Though I’m open to alternatives if rational, science-based ones arise, not ones trying to make it all the fault of one incorrectly-understood hormone…

        • FrankG says:

          I’m also open to “rational, science-based” alternatives… perhaps you could offer some instead of all your above examples of obnoxious taunting. Clearly you are NOT interested in reasoned debate. If you are hoping to make an impression on readers here all you are currently doing is highlighting your own ignorance.

          • jocko271 says:

            You need some obnoxious taunting to break up your sheer ignorant arrogance. For someone open to rational, science-based debate, why don’t you start by cracking a biology textbook. You take everything said to you about insulin as the gospel, but you haven’t dissected the theory at all.

            Am I ignorant by pointing out that the Kitavans, Asians, Massa, Hadza and other cultures all eat mostly carbs but don’t have any obesity or metabolic syndrome? Is it ignorance when I ask you to do an experiment and eat 5000 kcals/day of fat and sit on your ass and see what happens? That’s called wanting to see if a theory holds.


          • FrankG says:

            …ignorant in every sense of the word.

        • Anon says:

          You really seem to be the one that doesn’t understand metabolism. In case you were going to ask, I studied it at the graduate level and work in an exercise physiology and metabolism lab. Of course there are other active hormones, adipokines, cytokines and so forth that affect energy storage, but insulin is the most potent anabolic hormone in the body. Other things like TNF-alpha and resistin (just to name two) have significant effects on weight gain/loss, but do so largely through their effects on insulin signaling. I was going to go through and respond to many of the things you said, but it really doesn’t seem worthwhile as you obviously have an irrational attachment to your own beliefs. What are you trying to accomplish here? You obviously enjoy confirmation bias, so I suggest you spend your time in one of the many places in which it can be found.

          • jocko271 says:

            That’s ironic coming from a Zombie on this site. This is the one place everyone laughs at because there is absolutely no fact-checking done at all. Just people saying Taubes “saved their lives” because they lost 20 lbs. and other such crap.

            To Lyford above I say the same thing: you can lose weight on low carb, high carb or any other macro arrangement. Insulin’s got nothing to do with it. When will you get that through your heads?

    • Peggy Holloway says:

      I knew that a low-carb diet was the only answer to my health issues long before Gary Taubes published “What if it all’s been a big fat lie.” His work only corroborates what my body tells me to be true. My entire family has insulin resistance and we all suffer from a variety of disorders if we eat a high-carb diet. This is a genetic issue, as insulin-resistance is present in certain genetic types and my family has been pretty much universally carbohydrate-intolerant for several generations. You can lambaste Gary and his followers all you want, but our experiences are not debatable. We’ve tried it both ways, and the insulin theory is the only thing that makes sense. My health has been spectacular since I “went low-carb” in 2000, as is the case for my family members since they followed suit. I will never go back.

      • mark says:

        That’s weird.. I too stopped eating a lot of carbs/grains and more lushes fat my Triglycerides went from 150 to 65 with no real exercise.

        A challenge: Show me someone who improved there blood lipids, Thyroid, and well – take your pick when substantially increasing there carb intake and lowering their fat intake – Calories being equal…. Those wonderful “essential Carbs”

  19. Frank Chiarilli says:

    I know women who lost weight and regained their health going to overeaters anonymous. The program is low carb and stritcly monitored food intake. You have to plan your meal for the next day and you will get a call from a mentor checking up on you. It works.
    Even though they know how bad the carbohydrate input affects them they returned to their old habits and their old weight.
    I think part of it is the food reward / comfort food issue. It doesn’t change the science any but without motivation or a change in environment it will just be business as usual .

  20. Stephen Harris says:

    I’ll throw my lot in with doctors like Michael Eades and the late Robert Atkins, who have treated hundreds or even thousands of real live patients. Nothing beats real results with real people. And Gary Taubes did a herculean job in researching GCBC. Just skim through the bibliography! The carb-insulin connection has been well researched for decades and decades. It doesn’t rely on something slippery like food reward, palatability (hard to define IMO) and their effect on neurobiology.

    I think it is clear that enough is known to say the carb-insulin hypothesis is on firm scientific footing.

    • jocko271 says:

      If it’s all so clear to you, just do the experiment: eat 5000 kcals/day and sit on your ass. If you don’t gain weight in a few weeks, please let us know. Until then, you are preaching religion.

      • jocko271 says:

        …meaning 5000 kcals/day of fat and protein of course…

        • FrankG says:

          If it’s all so clear to you get some long acting (basal) insulin and inject just a little each day — not enough to go hypoglycaemic… maybe just 3 or 4 units per day. Don’t consciously change your eating habits but eat what you need… heck eat “low reward” if that floats your boat. I expect that by the end of a just a few weeks or months you will be storing significantly more excess fat than you are currently. Don’t believe me? Ask any Doctor who has treated Type 2 Diabetes by prescribing insulin.

          You are a rude and ignorant person… you started right off the bat by callings folks here zombies and then expect to get a reasonable hearing when you bring up the Kitavans etc..?

          • jocko271 says:

            And I’m sure you’ll say those folks with Type 2 don’t eat one calorie more after they receive their insulin. Let me hear it from the choir here… halleluyah Lord Taubes!

            And whether you’re actually in control “consciously” of your eating habits is entirely another question, and it won’t change the facts anyway: You will get hungry. You will eat more calories.

            I love that you have the nerve to call someone who questions your religion ignorant. Isn’t that what the Inquisition did? You never answered my question about the Kitavans, the Asians, etc. and you surely are scared as hell to try the 5000 kcals/day fat challenge.

            You might have to (gasp)… change your opinion!!!

            I never expected a reasonable hearing from you idiots. None of you are here to find out the facts, you are here just to confirm what you want to hear: That it’s not your fault. That you can eat as much as you want and not be fat. That the game is somehow rigged against you by the powers that be.

            Grow up.

          • terrence says:

            FrankG – it may be best to stop feeding the troll – jocko271 . He/she/it has NO intention every of opening his/hers/its “mind”. Just as he/she/it has not read, let alone understood Taubes, he/she/it does read on understand your’s or any other comments posted here.

        • Diane says:

          Hey Jocko, I did the opposite of sitting on the couch eating 5000 calories of fat and protein. I walked 3000 miles, 25-35 miles a day, eating a high-carb, very low protein, low fat diet that contained fewer daily calories than I was burning. I lost weight at first, but after a couple of months, I began putting the weight back on. My double-chin returned, my waist was growing larger. I had to start watching what I ate to prevent too much weight gain despite being on a daily calorie deficit. I was hungry literally all the time. Calories in/out was failing me during this period of heavy exercise and calorie-deficit, high carb eating. After finishing all this walking, weight piled on rapidly despite controlling my calories and trying to keep up a decent level of exercise. The only thing to turn the tide was very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet and quitting all the daily exercise. I’ve lost at least 20lbs in the last 3 months without hunger. I sit at a desk all day and lay on the couch all evening. I put butter on my steak and sleep 9 hours a night.

      • Margaretrc says:

        First of all, it would be difficult for anyone to eat 5000 kcals a day of fat and protein. It would probably be difficult to eat that many calories of carbohydrates, too, but it would be a lot easier than to eat that many of fat and protein. Secondly, having eating that many kcals of fat and protein, it would be next to impossible to sit on one’s ass. Without the requisite insulin, the body has no choice but to try to burn the excess energy and will find a way to do it. If you do manage to sit on your ass, you will probably fidget away the calories, but I doubt you would even be able to do so. But if you were to eat 5000 kcals of mostly carbohydrate, the body would have no trouble dealing with the excess glucose–with plenty of insulin present, it would store it as fat, thus making it much easier to sit on one’s ass after consuming 5000 calories of mostly carbohydrates than 5000 calories of pure fat and protein. But you miss the point of low carb entirely with that challenge. Low carb dieters don’t restrict their calories because they think that is the only way to lose weight. They restrict calories because they are satisfied with a lot fewer calories than when consuming carbohydrates. None the less, there are studies that have shown that you can eat more calories on a carbohydrate restricted diet than on a low fat diet and still lose weight. Some of them are cited in Zoe Harcomb’s book, “The Obesity Epidemic.”

        As to the Kitavans and other cultures you cite–most assuredly they are eating primarily low glycemic carbohydrates, generally along with fat and protein, which lower the glycemic load of their meals even more. Hence there is never an excess of insulin required to process the carbohydrates they do eat. Sweet potatoes and most tubors, other than white potatoes, have a much lower glycemic index than the sugar and starchy carbohydrates that Gary Taubes is discussing. And the Kitavans, at least, also eat a lot of coconut, a high fat, high saturated fat food that lowers the glycemic load of their meals. And that’s my last reply to you, because FrankG And terrence and the others are right. You are only interested in flinging insults, not intelligent debate.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Seriously…do you have nothing better to do than fixate on attacking people that you don’t agree with. I don’t waste time on Stephen’s site because I don’t believe his opinion’s are of value. I’m not threatened. You’re obsession with the Taubes camp makes me believe that you cannot say the same.

        • terrence says:

          Well said, Elizabeth, well said.

          I used to follow Stephen’s site, too. But his trivial, “theory” of “reward” was the last straw – if that fuzzy, ill-defined nonsense is the best he can do, he is not worth any time or pixels.

          Apparently, Stephen does not allow Dr K (Jack Kruse) to post on his site. Surprise, surprise, DR K does not agree with Stephen’s “theory”. So much for open debate.

          Trolls do NOT want to engage in discussion or debate, they want to get reactions, and the more the better. I skip over troll “comments” and do not read them, again, not worth the time or pixels

      • mark says:

        I did – it was nearly impossible to eat that much fat because I STAYED FULLER LONGER!! I could easily eat 5K cals of carbs. I wait -thats how I gained weight.

    • Jim says:

      Stephen. No one is requiring you to “throw your lot in”. You can still take in new studies and new theories and continue to adjust your view of the world as you go. If you ever change your mind based on new evidence, that’s a good thing, right?

  21. Larry Clapp says:

    @FrankG, 11/28, 9:33am, “Evelyn..? Evelyn… is that you..?”

    You are not alone: I too got the Carbsane vibe from jocko271.

    @Jocko271, if you are not Carbsane, be aware that you sound much like her. You remind me of various evolution deniers I read in other fora. The best response to people that don’t “believe” in evolution is to first make sure they understand it.

    As near as I can tell, you build a strawman that no one actually argues (“eat 5k calories a day and see what happens!”) and then vigorously lampoon it. (BTW, this exact argument is one of the things that Carbsane likes to do (as near as I can recall), and one of the things that makes you sound like her.)

    What is so hard to understand that a) yes, if you eat less you’ll lose weight, and that yes, this is basic physics or possibly basic biology; and that b) this is easier to do on a low-carb diet? That eating a low carb diet, many people can eat “all they want” because they tend to *want less*, and that force feeding yourself 5k calories a day of protein and fat and then gaining weight in no way invalidates this hypothesis?

    Finally, I do not like Gary because he’s a maverick or what have you. I like him because he *gasp* appears to have the research on his side. And, just to be petty and ad-hominem, I dislike you because your writing style comes across pretty negatively.

    At the end of the day, I lost 46 pounds in 10 months by following the advice in GC,BC and BBS, and my bloodwork is good, and as near as I can tell that result is consistent with the insulin hypothesis and inconsistent with the fat hypothesis.

  22. MikeJ says:

    I’ve got no ideological dog in this hunt – I have read virtually everything Mr. Taubes has written, plus dozens (if not 100+) articles by Dr. Guyenet on his blog – and consider them both to be *hugely* important contributors to the debate and discussion about nutrition and obesity.
    But on this particular issue, Mr. Taubes is being rhetorically and analytically crushed by Dr. Guyenet. It’s really not even close, and no number of individual examples from commenters who share their individual successes (kudos to all of them on their achievements!) – changes the fact that Mr. Taubes is straining to keep up in this “debate” by ignoring facts, making thinly-veiled personal attacks, and distorting statements by his self-crafted “opponent” in this conversation. Hope I’m not the only one who sees this, and that there’s a silent majority of (non-commenting) observers who step away from this discussion with an improved sense of which of the two gentlemen can be better trusted to offer reasoned, unbiased analysis.
    It’s disappointing, but I guess it happens that some people resort to cheap and unfair tactics when being so obviously and completely outclassed. Better luck next time (I hope), Mr. Taubes.

    • FrankG says:

      So clearly no agenda there MikeJ… could you be any more transparent ;-0

      It is not a question of “ideology” but reproducible practicable results… I have also read extensively over at Stephan Guyenet’s blog and I’m still none the wiser as to what a low-reward/low-palatability diet even looks like… except that *somehow* I seem to have stumbled blindly into one by following the advice of Gary Taubes and the like-minded. I know firsthand the effects of insulin on fat storage and I also know which types of foods to avoid in order to minimise the need for insulin.

      This isn’t an high-school debating team where the best presented argument wins… this is real life where literally millions of lives can be affected — many already have been — by practicable advice about how to successfully lose excess fat mass and maintain that without hunger or deprivation.

      I’m still waiting for an example of a low-reward diet with a proven track record, that isn’t also low-carb… any takers?

      Stephan Guyenet likes to pepper his blog with lots of links even suggesting that quantity somehow makes up for quality “Even if not all of the studies are perfect, at some point, one has to acknowledge that there are a lot of mutually buttressing lines of evidence here. “ … and no doubt many readers are impressed by this command of the research… until one looks closer at these examples… starting with the very first he gives as an example of his hypothesis: Flavor preferences, food intake, and weight gain in baboons which ends its abstract with the following “These results indicate that flavored chows may be useful for producing a nonhuman primate behavioral model of obesity and for inducing animals to eat otherwise unpalatable diets” — so using flavours to induce female baboons to eat otherwise unpalatable diets is held up as an example of how humans eating high reward foods alters our brain set-point for fat storage so we eat more? You may find that to be analytically crushing… I’m not so easily impressed and more than a little skeptical of a researcher who thinks that is a worthy example to show in support of his work.

      • MikeJ says:

        Haha, and your weird attempt in the first comment above to discredit Dr. Guyenet as biased, based on his freaking C.V., indicates no agenda either! Hilarious.

        FWIW I do genuinely respect Taubes contributions but I think he’s off the rails a bit here.

        Not-so-respectfully disagree that Stephan has not made a reasonable and clear case for his arguments. I understand pretty clearly what he means by his terms, but hey, maybe I am just a simpleton who doesn’t understand “reproducible practical results” or is fooled by the “volume” of citations he’s made (as if Stephan offers multiple citations as some sort of gambit instead of an honest effort to elucidate). It’s one example of many, and YES, it does provide a thread of support for his arguments – which, when weaved together with other threads, coheres as a reasonable and interesting hypothesis.

        Your specific example in your reply above, by the way, is just the way Taubes argues – pick one citation, and use it as a (weak) attempt to undermine the entire line of support that Guyenet has established (with numerous posts and other citations). Leave the impression that you’ve analyzed the issue much more deeply than you have, and throw in some light ad hominem. Nice!

        Just like you tried to dismiss Fumento above with some description of the guy saying that “others” consider him a bigot and conspiracy theorist. It’s just thin, and weak.

        • MikeJ says:

          By the way, this actually does border on ideology:

          “I know firsthand the effects of insulin on fat storage and I also know which types of foods to avoid in order to minimise the need for insulin.

          This isn’t an high-school debating team where the best presented argument wins… this is real life where literally millions of lives can be affected — many already have been — by practicable advice about how to successfully lose excess fat mass and maintain that without hunger or deprivation.”

          You have a method that works for you – good for you – but to claim you fundamentally understand every dimension of the underlying mechanisms, and that you’re entitled to so quickly dismiss Guyenet, is not only presumptuous but a leap of faith. Just because it works doesn’t automatically make you correct about why, nor does it justify alarmist propositions about affecting millions of lives.

          Dr. Guyenet did, in fact write about a couple of guys who experimented with low-reward diet (NOT low in carbs – one guy was a vegetarian) and the results were promising. You should read it some time.

          • Mike Ellwood says:

            ….and the guy on high-carbs was “RAVENOUS” for the first week or two, as I recall.

            Exactly as Taubes might have predicted.

        • Warren Dew says:

          If you understand Guyenet’s position so well, why can’t you offer an example of an effective, easy to follow, high carb, low reward diet weight loss diet as Frank suggests?

          • MikeJ says:

            Because: first of all, Guyenet has covered this pretty well (+ more eloquently than I could), and second of all, your question misses the point – yet another distraction. Guyenet is making observations about mechanisms, pulling together lots of promising/interesting logical threads, and has outlined principles for such a nutritional approach – not tried to prescribe some be-all, end-all weight loss diet. I think he would say that there are MANY possible iterations of a low-reward diet, and whether they are low or high carb is just quibbling and distracting from the underlying processes at work that he is trying to understand. I think different approaches will work for different people, and that high carb, low reward will absolutely work for many. Just because most of the commenters here say it won’t or doesn’t work for them does not disprove anything that Guyenet has said!

            To that point, as I noted, Guyenet did provide an example of two guys experimenting with a low-reward, NOT low-carb diet that was quite effective for both participants (one was higher in carbs than the other). It was only two guys, but everyone posting here seems fine with generalizing their individual experiences into unqualified validation of the Taubes position, so I guess that makes the Guyenet example doubly illustrative of the counterpoint. Also, check out the extensive real-world results from Seth Roberts’ work on flavorless calories and the thousands of people who’ve had great success applying his simple method for weight loss.

            To act like a low-reward, moderate/high carb diet that results in weight loss is some kind of impossible dream (“any takers?” “why can’t you offer it?”) is absurd. You guys literally can’t see outside of your own frame of reference on this, and neither can Taubes. It’s really funny, because he’s acting just like the scientists he relishes castigating.

          • Warren Dew says:

            More empty generalizations and still no concrete information, eh?

            You have one thing right – Guyenet is still trying to understand, and the fact that he doesn’t understand yet is a big part of why he doesn’t have anything real to offer. His blog is full of speculation that some may find interesting, but is nonetheless free of facts.

            As for the people offering themselves as examples, they aren’t saying that’s evidence that should convince others – if you want evidence, read Taubes’ books. The posters are just pointing out that they have real world experiences that back up the research evidence Taubes presents.

            Meanwhile, most of Guyenet’s supporters have neither real world experience nor research evidence to back up their positions – they just support Guyenet’s opinions on faith.

          • anonymous says:

            This is the low-reward experiment that MikeJ was talking about:
            Check out Aravind’s diet. High carb (55%), low reward, and he (gasp) actually lost weight on it! And before pointing out the reported hunger in the first two weeks, note that he was simultaneously trying to kick a diet soda addiction…

          • Warren Dew says:

            The fact that Guyenet can provide two cherry picked examples over the life of his blog is indeed pretty telling when Taubes has more examples in comments on this post alone – and when Atkins could come up with thousands of examples of people who succeeded with his diet.

            But hey, two is better than one, right? Oops, contrary to what MikeJ said, one of these examples was eating only 350kcal/day of carbohydrate – less than 100g/day of carbs – which in fact is distinctly low carb. That leaves one.

            The one – Aravind – was eating slightly less than 1000kcal/day in carbohydrate, which while not low carb, is not high carb either. And, “[t]he first 10-14 days of the experiment, Aravind was RAVENOUS, much to his surprise. Compliance was maintained strictly though willpower.”

            The hunger was most likely caused by removal of much of the fat and protein from the diet. The attempt to blame the hunger on the diet soda is misplaced; lots of people replace soda with water without hunger, though they may have caffeine withdrawal. So now we know – a low food reward diet is one where you have to withstand ravenous hunger pangs.

            And, of course, there’s the unimpressive weight loss – 12 pounds in two months. Many people lose that much in their first two weeks on low carb.

            And what do we blame when someone tries Aravind’s diet and doesn’t make it through two weeks of ravenous hunger? That’s right – not enough willpower. That’s excellent evidence that Guyenet’s approach goes right back to blaming the victim.

          • anonymous says:

            Well, maybe the fact that Guyenet first wrote about his Food Reward hypothesis only this year has something to do with the amount of anecdotal “evidence” available so far…? The Atkins diet on the other hand has been around since the 1970’s. We’ll see what kind of evidence, anecdotal or in the form of an actual scientific experiment, will be available in a few years.

            In my opinion, not all or maybe even most cases of obesity can be blamed on the “victim”, but some definitely can. I myself am overweight just because I binge on high-calorie foods (not just carbs but stuff like cheese too) when I’m not physically hungry in the least. Or not even particularly craving any kind of food. The reasons I do it are purely emotional and psychological. I’ve read all about paleo, low-carb, calorie restriction, you name it, but the extra fat remains because I have no will power to stay on any kind of a healthy diet – low reward, low carb, low or high whatever, doesn’t matter. And I have no one to blame for it but myself. (Yes, I’ve even actually tried low carb for a few months, and I *gained* weight on it.) I don’t think a single hypothesis can ever explain obesity as a whole, since the reasons for excessive weight gain are numerous. But I suspect that the Food Reward hypothesis will indeed help many individuals who are struggling with their weight.

          • Warren Dew says:

            I certainly agree that it would have been wiser for Guyenet to wait a few years to see what kind of evidence he got, if that’s what you’re saying. Unfortunately he went off half cocked attacking the carbohydrate insulin hypothesis instead, and his sycophants followed suit; thus this controversy.

        • FrankG says:


          you are the one who claimed NOT to have an agenda… clearly I am quite biased — although I strive to remain open-minded which is why I continue to read from multiple sources.

          My bias is based on my results and the results which I have read from many others in similar situations. So far all I’ve sen in regard success from low-reward, are folks who used low-carb to lose significant excess fat mass and restore their metabolism and then when their fat loss stopped they turned to bland food — even adding back some real whole food carbs like potatoes — and lost a few more pounds… hardly life-changing in the way my life and health has changed. So, from my perspective, not very convincing evidence.

          My initial comment about Stephan Guyenet was not to underline his bias but to show that he is looking at this purely from a Neurobiology point of view and as such he may be losing the “big picture”. The peripheral effects of insulin are well documented yet he dismisses and denies them.

          Gary Taubes has brought many things to the table, but one has been the ability (not enjoyed by most researchers) to bring together threads from many different disciplines.

          Robert Lustig MD is also an obesity researcher but in this case one with many years of hands-on experience of dealing with obese patients, is quite clear on the role insulin plays in obesity…

          No-one is saying that ALL carbs are bad or that the low-carb approach is the ONLY way… setting up these straw-men like these simply highlights your weak position.

          • jocko271 says:

            You are anything but open-minded. The only writers you quote are Taubes and Lustig and others who think they have obesity licked. On that note, if he’s so smart, why is Lustig fat? All he had to do was avoid fructose right? Why does Taubes have to work out just to stay the same weight? Shouldn’t he be rail thin?

            Once again, everyone, look around you. There are a billion very skinny Chinese people eating tons of white rice every day, raising their insulin while we speak. Yet they will never be fatties. Why doesn’t insulin theory explain that?

            Well, BECAUSE IT’S WRONG.

          • Warren Dew says:

            Actually, obesity is on the rise in China now that starvation diets are no longer standard there:


            As mentioned before, Taubes likely works out to maintain his physical performance, not to stay thin. If Lustig is fat it may be because he only worries about sugar, while starches are just as problematic.

          • mark says:

            I absolutely fcuking love steak and eggs with a big greek salad and tonnes of olive oil. Shouldn’t I be getting fatter? I lost weight.

          • fish4free says:

            Where’s the ‘ignore poster’ button this forum. Gosh I’m just so tired of ridiculous, strident, ad-hominem spewing, straw-man building blowhards.

            Well, I live in China, since 1987 in fact. Obesity is rising here. Dramatically. I saw it happen in Taiwan and now in the mainland.

            Stick that in your Jock and swill it.

    • StanG says:

      Dr. Guyenet? Is that you?

      • MikeJ says:

        Haha, I wish.

        I read GCBC and thought it was awesome – still do – but Taubes has run himself into a rabbit hole on this issue and is getting beat down pretty hard (although Guyenet is actually polite, unlike Taubes – yes, civility matters). It’s utterly hilarious that you guys seem to think that you and Taubes are seeing some grander “big picture” that Guyenet doesn’t, because it’s exactly the opposite. You are trapped in a one-dimensional view of the problem and missing the point entirely of the exploration of the food reward concepts.

        But I’m not trying to convince you… just giving voice to the many people who may read all of this and wonder whether they’re crazy to think Taubes has lost his way on this issue. They’re not: Taubes is missing the boat here, big time. I’ll give him a mulligan, though, and continue to read his stuff (critically).

        Alright guys, good luck to you with your approaches. Sounds like they’re working for you and everyone you know, so congrats.

        • Warren Dew says:

          Guyenet is being less direct because he thinks it can overcome his lack of evidence and logic. Gary clearly prefers open and honest debate, rather than the censorship of opposing views that Guyenet practices on his blog. Hopefully the readers won’t be fooled by Guyenet’s unsubstantiated insinuations and censorship.

        • StanG says:

          Fair enough. You think Taubes is getting “crushed” and “beat down.” But what exactly would you say he is mssing?

        • Margaretrc says:

          And how, exactly, has Mr. Taubes missed the boat, @Mike J? What facts did he ignore? You make generalized statements without giving examples. That seems pretty typical of those of you defending FRH. Also, I’ve read all of GT’s entries in this debate and have seen no evidence whatsoever any rudeness or disrespect of Dr. Guyenet. Yes, he takes issue with his ideas and explains clearly why he has issues with each one. I don’t see anything like that from a any of you defenders of the FRH on this thread. All you do is attack and fling insults. Not cool and not convincing.

    • jocko271 says:

      Thank god for a voice of sanity here. Thanks Mike.

  23. Erik R. says:

    My T3 levels dropped on low carb as well when carbohydrates were removed. Didn’t feel bad.

  24. STG says:

    Off topic but needs to be said:
    Recently I viewed a news segment on poverty and malnutrition in children in this country. This situation is really depressing and appalling in a country that has so much abundance! Some individuals on this blog have posted angry, hostile, combative commentary regarding competing theories on obesity. These verbal diatribes seem absurd, insignificant and myopic in the context of children in America missing meals or being undernourished. I am outraged about hungry children , not who is “right” about obesity and insulin.

  25. John Lyman, OD says:

    Dear Gary,

    Thank you so much for your work in this area and bringing this kind of scientific scrutiny to diet and health. Have you considered taking a look at the mental health industry? Maybe in your “free” time, hah.


    • Alex C. says:

      John Lyman, take a look at the work of journalist Robert Whitaker. His latest book is called, “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America”. Whitaker is like the Gary Taubes of psychopharmacology.

  26. Tom Bunnell says:

    Melinda Gates said in her talk at TED awhile back, that while experiencing and studying logistics and transportation in their quest to globalize immunization, they took note that one example existed in the reaching of far and distant and remote villages in hard to reach places that seemed nearly impossible to reach.

    Jungles and mountains, where travel by foot or mule in often treacherous conditions, the only means of transportation.

    Coca Cola.

    They had never been anywhere in the world where there hadn’t been Coca Cola.

    It was paradoxical.

    They had packed it in on their backs

    The native people.

    Coca Cola.

    In every crevice of the planet earth!

    Available abundantly in Bin Laden’s compound.

    She didn’t realize then and still doesn’t realize today, that she had touched “addiction” and the “dealers”, — the core of sugar and caffeine and the HFCS consumption and in turn the obesity and diabetes epidemic.

    Along with mental disease and the stimulated insanity and the ruling and power struggle that pervades our earth today.

    The paradigm that you scientist’s are experiencing, is equally, — “not realizing what you are seeing and what it all means.”

    This changes everything.

    If rice and wheat and corn and potatoes and fruit and vegetables and dairy, all the sugars and starches and what we call carbohydrates, if they effect us the same as Coca Cola and caffeine addictions, and I say they do.

    That they just transport differently and not as readily is all.

    The seeds do and they are in every corner and place of this earth, just like Coca Cola.

    — I say that the paradigm that you are all studying is wrong, — as is the subject and outcome and effects in these matters.

    Just as your predecessors had done and are still doing today.

    You are wrong.

    You are all off on rabbit trails, chasing in circles and going nowhere and not getting anywhere and not knowing it.

    Yes, like idiots.

    Like idiots, high on sugar and carbohydrates and caffeine, incidently.

    -Everything from pre-Egyption on and through today and beyond, is tied to this stimulant drug usage and the addiction of hybrid fruits and grains and vegetables.

    Fruits and grains and vegetables and dairy.

    All hybrids.

    By man.

    Powerful drugs in these forms and availability and consumption.

    Preposterously effecting our earths peoples and lives.

    You can help, Gary.

    Wake up and grab ahold!

    Something is going on!

    This is “it”!

    We need your help and for you to find some answers.

    You have been “gifted”, quite accidentally I expect, to lead this onslaught.

    Best to you.

    Your successes are guaranteed.

    Thank You.


  27. terry97 says:

    Wow, as someone who studies food psychology, this series is just embarrassing. Taubes, you should stick to things you know something about… like physics.

  28. Howza says:

    Gary, I can’t thank you enough for opening my eyes to question conventional medical dogma. I’ve enjoyed watching all your lectures and appearances this past year. I’m impressed with your debating and critical thinking skills. My journey began with getting my lipid profile tested around a year and half ago. It came back very high and had me concerned. After 3 more lipid panels I started to see changes and looking back, it all makes sense to the science you suggest. This past March I cut all sugars, breads and all fruit drinks. The only thing i drink is unsweetened tea, coffee and water. I started eating grass fed beef, free range chicken, green veggies as well as free range eggs. Also, everything is cooked with Virgin coconut oil and real butter from once again grass fed cows. I lost 30 pounds like it was nothing! After following that diet I’ve maintained my weight with ease and can’t believe i didn’t do this years ago! My pre diet change, lipid panel was: Total: 248 Tri-147 HDL-54 LDL-165. After making changes, Total 266 Tri-76 HDL- 62 LDL(calc) – 189 . My question is, could I assume that my LDL went up because the simple test cannot show that I shifted to a larger LDL pattern thus showing a higher LDL?? If my doctor makes a stink about it i want to have a VAP test to get the subsets measured. From all I’ve read, it appears that the low triglycerides and Higher HDL will cause a pattern shift, thus putting me in a favorable cholesterol profile. Can anybody add to this? I would love to hear some feedback.

  29. BioEmeritus says:

    Here’s something else to factor into the discussion and hypothesis:

    • Margaretrc says:

      @BioEmeritus, The person(s) who wrote that article is/are still on the “fat makes us fat” train and that is just not true. As one of the commentators wrote, fat consumption shows an inverse relationship to obesity. The obesity epidemic began in earnest when people were given the advice to reduce fat intake and did. In countries where fat hasn’t been vilified–France, for example–obesity isn’t a problem. It’s not about fat. Period. Whether it’s about Food Reward or Insulin, it’s not about fat.

  30. clint jacobs says:

    Did you see ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer Monday evening, Dec 5? There was a segment on how workers who spend too much time sitting on the job can expect to grow bigger/fatter butts by 50%. It was even said we could grow new fat cells by doing this. Their solution? Elevate our desks and put a slolw-moving treadmill under it so we can walk off the big butt effects!

    Your comments Mr. Taubes on this outrageous segment.

    Clint Jacobs

  31. David says:

    Mr. Taubes,

    A well-written piece as usual. Your insights are highly valued by those who are fellow thinkers. I’ve long been suspicious of the food-reward/palatability hypothesis. Partly because, from the admittedly little that I have read, there seems to be very little to quantify from those terms. What does palatability mean? How can that change person to person? Could I get fat on tree bark if my brain was wired to find that palatable? It seems to ignore the biochemistry that is well known about fructose metabolism, etc. While there may be some good to avoiding heavily palatable foods, most are palatable because of their sugars, grains, and franken-fats, making it hard to separate the overeating due to food reward from the overeating due to insulin and leptin resistance, etc.

    I think an easy study might be to give two groups iso-caloric diets of identical macro-nutrient ratio, but simply have half get all their fructose in pill form so as not having a chance to taste the reward of the sugar. I suspect there would be little difference so long as the pills dissolved quickly allowing the sugars to blunt the satiety signal as quickly as the prandial sugar consumption would.

    The real problem remains, however, that forcibly consuming caloric excess of insulinogenic foods of dubious quality will undoubtedly make one fat. Stating that a person did so because they found the food palatable seems to do little to add to our understanding or help that person reverse the trend. It seems as if Occam’s razor may apply here. Does it matter that we know a food is very palatable when we put tons of sugar and vegetable fats into it if we already understand what that does to insulin regulation, appetite regulation, and a host of other metabolic mechanisms?

    Personally, I’d rather know what ingredients to avoid rather than searching the aisles of the grocery store for foods that my hypothalamus doesn’t like.

  32. cj says:

    your fat hypothosis is good.your insulin hypothosis is a work of fiction.i guess that,s why it,s a book and not a scientific paper.

  33. MBC says:

    Okay – I have to add my two cents to this Taubes vs. Guyenet controversy.

    I’ll get my personal assessment of Guyenet out of the way in the beginning.
    The problem with Guyenet is his whole game is to go after the big dog in the hopes of making a name for himself, everyone with any real world experience knows that this does not make you a big dog too, it usually just makes you a punk.
    Remember Chihuahuas will bark like hell at any other dog, be it Rottweiler or a Mastiff, this does not actually better the Chihuahua’s position in the world or in the food chain.
    Guyenet is arrogant and is more interested on convincing people he’s right than in making a case against any evidence that would contradict him.
    Just because you have a degree in something does not make you an expert in that subject or in any other. To hear people in this debate deride Taubes and claim he must somehow be wrong because he doesn’t have the same specialized degree as Guyenet is ridiculous. It’s a completely idiotic point to bring up & matters not at all to the debate. Guyenet can spend all the time in a laboratory testing rats all he wants, I want to know what works in real people.
    Taubes spent years researching and has taken apart all the original studies and has presented them in a way that is not trying to tell you what to do, he’s not trying to “sell” us on something, he’s not even trying to tell you his theory is the only one. Watch or listen to him on just about anything that’s out there on the internet and he’s the first to admit when he doesn’t know about a point or a study, etc., or says there are things he wishes he had included or spent more time on in GCBC or WWGF, he doesn’t try to veer every point brought up back to himself and how smart he thinks he is, like Guyenet does.
    Taubes is in search of the truth, not what he can sell you or convince you about himself, ala’ Guyenet.

    My biggest problems with what Guyenet says are:
    1. It’s the Catholic version of dieting. Ooohhh, food tastes good & makes you feel good, so it must be bad for you and you should pay penance for the pleasure you received from it. I feel like he’s some self-righteous monk telling me “you’re gonna go blind if you enjoy that ice cream”.
    2. It’s a complete FAD DIET. Let’s see- a diet that’s based on some easily manipulated term like “palatability” and some emotional / shame based idea of “food reward”…does this at all seem like something that a person could stick with for life or something that a person could thrive on? Is this the diet you would raise your child on? I don’t think so. Guyenet claims that in order to be healthy you should eat a little bit of a food you hate (he is still stuck on the theory that calories burned up in a test tube act the same way in the body) and he thinks you should definitely not enjoy it or your fat cells will punish you by growing larger. I cannot believe anyone is taking this guy seriously and the fact that there is even a debate about this shows how the internet really is a place for losers to go out and troll in order to make themselves feel better about how they’ve never put forth an ounce of effort to better themselves or the world so they attack Taubes for doing a hell of a lot more with his life than they ever will.
    3. Forgive me for not having read the tomes that Guyenet must have discovered in some cave somewhere that talk all about how our ancestors thrived, conquered new worlds, built empires, built western civilization and founded the greatest country the world has ever known by feeding themselves only crap they hated. Am I the only one that missed out on reading the evidence to back up his theory? Please someone show me what history books he’s read that talk about how important it is to eat only things you hate and how cavemen felt guilty when they discovered salt and how good it tasted.
    How can a scientist put forth the idea that what was good for all of civilization for thousands of years is now suddenly bad and that the reason we see all these diseases of civilization and our modern day obesity epidemic is because all of a sudden food just became more “palatable” and people chose to be gluttons and if they would just allow him to spank them the world would be right again. The whole thing is so ludicrous. If you theory completely falls apart when you look at the history of 99.99% of the population of the world through the ages – then your theory is crap!
    4. The proof is in the pudding. Please visit Mark’s Daily Apple or Robb Wolf or read the reviews for Taubes books on Amazon or Sisson’s book, or Wolf’s book. People are excelling beyond their wildest dreams, they are losing weight without feeling like crap, they are conquering diseases and injuries that the “experts” told them they would have to live with or “treat” with medication for the rest of their lives, children are overcoming learning and behavioral problems, people are thriving on the type of diet that Taubes books indicate is best for the human body, they are LIVING! They are not sitting around counting calories and worrying whether or not they will gain weight if they add that paprika or cumin or salt to their chicken. Please just try to eat the Taubes/Sisson/Wolf way, I know you’ll be able to do it, you will experience real world, life-altering results and enjoy food and life!

  34. Michael says:

    Glad we are done with this! MOVE ON, please!

  35. Razwell says:

    The only people criticizing Gary Taubes’ admireable effort to understand the hellishly complex phenomenon of obesity are complete NON expert, misinformed, uninformed Internet guru crackpots such as Lyle McDonald, Anthony Colpo and CarbSane.

    Reputable obesity scientists, SOME *might* have a view that such and such is incomplete etc. but no one is blatantly criticizing him. Gary is RIGHT to criticize “eat less, move more” and dieting as cures for effective treatments for morbid obesity . They’re NOT. Science has shown otherwise repeatedly, and Dr. AJ Stunkard and DR. Jeffrey Friedman know this.

  36. John Riedenschneider says:

    Gary, I wanna make love to you.

  37. Caroline Hannington says:

    hello Gary
    I have just read your book why we get fat, with great interest. I was wondering if children too should eat this way. I have a daughter (8) who is struggling with her weight and I have been told by her endocrinologist to eat from the 5 food groups and exercise (the usual). My daughter does exercise a lot and is very happy to be led by me in what she eats. So far the diet above isn’t doing much for her. Is it safe to embark on a very low carb diet for her ? She loves her proteins ( doesn’t eat eggs though) so would be good for her but I wanted to check it would be safe. She has no health issues except use of 1 kidney from kidney reflux as a baby.
    I would appreciate any advice you may have as I believe your recommendations are the way forward. (I have just ordered 3 copies of your book to give to like minded friends and have made my husband read my kindle copy of your book to get hom on board !)

  38. Rocketman says:

    SUGAR ADDITION (or other ‘food addiction” or fatal attraction)
    WERMD has a slideshow on “Sugar Addiction ?” where the question mark is my addition to the sense of the title and slide show. Addiction to foods is cited as questionalble…. but a lot of things are questionable to WebMD.

    Worth a look.

  39. Katie says:
  40. Razwell says:

    Gary’s lower carb hypothesis appears to be correct evolutionary wise.

    Our very early hominid ancestors from 4.2 million years back, SKIPPED FRUIT ( or ate very, very little), and went straight for nuts ( fat and calorie dense) , root vegetables, insects( nutrient dense, fat dense, and super protein dense) and meat ( fat dense, nutrient dense, protein dense)

    This makes perfect sense for survival, and getting MOST important essential fatty acids and protein. Dr. Darisuh Mozaffarian is HUGE on nuts because they provide significant cardiovascular protection.

    This is recently gained scientific knowledge about our very early hominid ancestors’ actual diets.

    Here is the article:

    Fruitarians’ claims on WHAT we evolved to eat are now completely DEBUNKED.

    This makes perfect sense.

  41. Ian Graham says:

    recently a friend lent my your Why we get Fat book. I am a good example of your point of view on healthy diet. But I am perplexed by your negative stance on milk, particularly raw whole milk. could you explain somewhere why the detriment of lactose in milk outweighs all the good aspects: fat, probiotic bacteria and enzymes, etc.
    Old 99 Farm’
    Dundas ON

  42. dr maurice mckeown says:

    My son was seriously over weight eating a vegetarian/ pasta diet. Finally he had enough. He decided to eat fish. We put him on a fish veg and some fruit diet- very low carbs no cereals or root veg. He has lost over 25 kg’s in around 6 months. His bloods are excellent. His doctor and mine is amazed. He has jokingly asked me to take over his overweight patients.
    I enjoy retirement too much.
    Thanks Garry I am reading your latest on my Kindle.

  43. Jon Oh says:

    As far as I’ve understood from your books, the main reason of being fat is insulin sensitivity. My question is why type I diabetes patients are all obese and have a hard time losing weight. To begin with, they don’t have insulin in their bodies and have to watch their carb intake. A couple of friends followed a Paleo diet and avoided grains and refined sugar. Their only source of carbs come from fruits and vegetables. They are able to manage their diabetes but they are still overweight and have a hard time losing the extra weight. Why do you think this is?

    • Big Kate says:

      In the book it was made repeatedly clear that insulin is the key issue. Insulin works by moving free sugar from the blood and into fat cells, it does that via LPL transport.
      First off lets look at type 2: As obesity rises the level of Insulin rises until the pancreas is constantly making insulin. At some point the pancreas is unable to respond to the rising levels of sugar and the sugar floods over into urine or starts to cause damage in the body. So far so much type 2 diabetes.

      In type 1 their is little or no insulin production, thus either the body fills with toxic side effects of the sugar or the urine fills with sugar either way the body remains emaciated as the human cannot make insulin an thus cannot make fat!

      But you didn’t ask about people with Type 1 diabetes without insulin, you asked about people with Type 1 diabetes who are on Insulin. In which case they are in the same position as people with type 2 diabetes, needing to keep ruthless control of their blood levels. I have a mate who has type 1 – she’s not fat but she is very organised, watches herself like a hawk, every meal she test herself, writes down the result and calculates how much insulin she needs, to manage what she has just consumed. She is well aware that insulin could cause her to put on weight and she works hard to stop it.

      The reason people with type 1 get fat is because they are recommended to eat a diet rich in Carbohydrates, just as people with type 2 are. Carbohydrates requires Insulin, so the more carbohydrates you eat the more insulin you need, and the more fat you get. In type 1 if your not producing insulin it just means you need more insulin, in type 2 your body is producing as hard as it can unless it has started to fail and your topping up the insulin it can produce.

      The solution is to switch to a high fat medium protein diet since this doesn’t require insulin but supplies all the free fatty acids and glycogen from trigylcerides and glucose from protein (via the liver) you might need.

      Btw this is all data that is in Good calories: Bad calories – can i suggest you go and re-read the book

  44. Tom Bunnell says:


    My new web site.

  45. rob thompson says:

    Dear Mr. Taubes,
    I am the author of The Glycemic Load Diet, The Low Starch Diabetes Solution, The New Low Carb Way of Life and soon-to-be published The Sugar Blockers Diet. I am in accord with your views on diet. I am especially impressed by your insights into the evolution of current dietary thought.
    In your opinion, what are the sources of scientific and government bias against a lower carbohdrate approach to diet?

  46. Steve Pehnec says:

    Hi Gary,

    Update: I lost 66 lbs from Dec 1, 2010 through Dec 1, 2011. Still at it, “re-starting” tomorrow.

    But would like to know your opinion of this:



  47. BioEmeritus says:

    Gary, I am interested in how, if at all, our ability to sense fat ( fits into your hypotheses.


  48. Jasper Kamperman says:

    Hi Gary, please have a look at today’s Wall Street Journal article “New Ways Calories Can Add Up to Weight Gain”, I think they need some education.

    Of course if you force feed people calories without giving them the opportunity for exercise, they will gain weight. If you have a room with a door that only lets people enter but not leave, the room will get fuller.

    Two cool quotes:
    * “It’s not so much what you eat, but how much you eat that counts when it comes to accumulating body fat”
    * “Carbohydrates were held steady at about 41% to 42% of calories”
    Amazing they miss the alternative hypothesis “It’s not so much what you eat, but how many carbs you eat when it comes to accumulating body fat”



  49. Garry Gaudet says:

    Two questions/concerns:

    1. What modifications to the recommended regime would be required for a person with kidney disease and 5 times the recommended level of protein in the urine? Increased dietary protein intake would appear to be hazardous in such cases.

    2. Some people seeking weight loss will turn to soups for some meals, yet there’s no recommendations for them in “Why We Get Fat”. Should soup composition simply follow the dietary components presented in the book, or does this type of food preparation merit more explanation?

  50. Jim says:
  51. Annuschka says:

    I am just going through your books,. And here is where my question arises- do you know of any study where
    infulence of feminine hormones on fat accumulation process or maybe the insulin itself is taken under consideration?

  52. Michael says:

    The most “fascinating” thing (if you got nothing more important to think about) about this whole hubbub is how Guyenet ended up with so many trolls jumping on the Food Reward Hypothesis bandwagon. Ur not a real sientist Taubes LOL!

    Even if it’s all about the calories guess what? It’s much easier to eat less calories on a low-carb diet than on a low-fat diet because * you’re not hungry all the time * because your body eats its own fat reserves. That should be enough to make low-carb the default diet to lose weight, not calorie counting. If it doesn’t work for you then try something else but it has worked for countless people already so stop whining and move on. If you’ve tried low carb and it didn’t work it’s not GT’s fault, perhaps your body has other problems that need to be fixed first. If eating through a tube makes you lose the weight that low-carb couldn’t then report it to Dr.Guyenet, he needs all the confirmation bias he can find.

  53. Betty says:

    I am certain that you are familiar with the October 17, 2011 NEJM article by Sumithran et al., and the December 28, 2011 NY Times Magazine article by Tara Parker-Pope. According to these articles, it would seem that there are at least nine, and probably more, hormones, including insulin, that regulate our hunger and energy output, and that during and for an unknown time after a period of starvation (which, after all, is what a diet is ) these hormones are elevated. Thus it is the interplay and persistence of all of these hormones that makes losing weight and keeping it off so difficult. The only people who are successful at keeping the weight off are those who are motivated and diligent enough to maintain a low calorie diet without cheating while exercising excessively forever. Having yoyo’ed a lot in my lifetime, I know just how hard it is to lose weight and keep it off. It is disheartening to learn that dieting itself adds to the problem. It is time that we stop focusing on weight loss and start focusing on lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk factors for illness that adiposity creates. Researchers should focus on how to thwart the starvation hormone cascade and how to prevent obesity in the first place.

  54. Betty says:
  55. We are humans and a magnificient creation in our Solar System. We should keep on invesitigating on our physical and mental feelings and their consequences. Ill health, ill feelings and system not able to perform as it should. May be due to viral, bactirial and psychological inflictions and so on so forth. Our body is bestowed with endless powers to out perform,less perform and curiously performe. We strive endlessly to understand our body forthat matter of enery living being body in this Globe(Earth, Air and Water, Magnetic and gracitational fields surronding us.. Always we humans should go to the beginner school that is our mothers womb/conception/genetic/genomic and so on and so ofrth. Search the genes (ancestral, envirinmental impacted genes ancestral genes constantly subjected to magneticfield of earth and its gravitational changes and environamentally subjected genes and try to study ills of human system (Health).

    Is Cancer first or obese as discussed in the above first few paras which I have gone through.
    The question be better asked the body of that particular individual. My strong intuition is that our body has got powers no less than anything else in this Universe. Body can understand which no human intellect can dare to understand when to get Cancer first or Obese. Which is first. Let us keep on questing our selves and try to find solution which is workable for the present.

  56. Brad Steen says:

    Hi Gary,
    I am a healthy 59 yr old Crossfitter, and I was the first person in my city to buy WWGF. Love it, loaned it out, and will likely never see it again. Had your review and analysis of the research been available during the height of the Atkins craze my sister might very well still be lean and healthy. Unfortunately, even though the low carb lifestyle saved her life, she was barraged with articles that told her that her new found mobility and good health would soon give way to kidney failure or worse. Shame on them! I am currently following your guidance and losing a pound every three days. I eat when I’m hungry, but stick to your advised formula. Thank you. Brad Steen

  57. Razwell says:

    I have done some experiments on myself lately.

    My own anecdotal experience is that if I eat a tasteless diet , I get ravenously hungry and NEVER feel full, even after eating a lot. Having a meal I truly enjoy supresses my appetite. I also do not over eat this way.

    The food reward hypothesis does not help me at all.

  58. Valdemir Fernandes says:

    Gary, I read your two books and would like to see more articles here on your site. You must´ve been busy since your last post in November.
    Specially on topics like day-to-day menus and tips. Your diet, although I would not name it as a diet, more as a way of life, should be spread all over the world. I have a blog (, where I would like to publish some of your ideas, tips, etc.

    Congratulations on your work!

  59. What are your thoughts on THE PERFECT HEALTH DIET and its claim that glucose deficiency
    has a negative effect on the immune system, etc? He recommends consumption of
    starches like white rice and potatoes and tubers because they do not contain the ‘toxins’ of
    grains and yet will provide the body with glucose while not having to convert fat or protein to
    glucose. Paul Jaminet’s thesis is to provide the body what it needs based on its composition
    in the most direct and non-toxic manner….I would love to hear your thoughts on his diet recommendations

  60. I was really distracted from understanding this post by wondering how this feeding tube looks/works.

  61. Werner Kujnisch says:

    I just finished reading your book “Why we get fat and what to do about it”. I learned many things that will help me maintain my weight. Currently, age 65, 5’6″ and my weight is 135 lbs. I just recently lost 20 lbs to get to my current weight by eating low carb. Your book has helped me to fine tune my Lifestyle even further. I highly recomment your book and it’s one of the best I’ve read in some time. Keep up the good work in bringing the truth were it is needed most ….

  62. Blair Taylor says:

    Dear Gary

    I really appreciate your post. I live in Mississippi and trying to persuade somone with regards to nutrition is to challenge their religion, their beliefs, their family, it is a sacred area to say the least. With regards to nutrition and disease, I have taken the low road, I have made a stand to speak my mind regardless of the repurcussions. We need people like you in every state capitol building right now, getting this information to the children, asap!

    Thanks Again Gary
    Blair Taylor
    Combat Veteran USAF

  63. Big Kate says:

    I am confused, i just been reading good calories, bad calories. As far as I understand things: LPL rises in the muscles when you exercise but post exercise it falls in the muscles and rises in the fat tissue. My question is does it rise in the fat tissue in reaction to insulin or is independent of insulin. I understand exercise increases hunger, but is that because of carbohydrate consumption. What if your not consuming carbohydrates? What if your living off fat and protein be exterior or interior? In that context: does the LPL react the end of exercise with increasing in the fat tissue? Or is this simply unknown as no one has studied that option yet?

    The implications if LDL did not go up in fat after exercise if you were eating a no carbohydrate/inuit diet type diet would be profound, as exercise would help loss of endogenous fat.

    Right now it seems the only point of exercise is to improve ones stamina/endurance and energy level and presumably ones cardiovascular system

    thank you for your time


  64. Richard says:

    I am kind of with you on the “food reward” concept. It strikes me that if we have to invent a new concept to explain these inconvenient facts, a new concept that doesn’t fit very well with the exceptions and facts, as you point out, then we may be heading into the realm of the untestable. Something like religion, perhaps, and spiritual beliefs. Which is what it feels like to me.

    I am not sure that insulin is a cause or effect in all of this, and there may be another mechanism at work here, but reduced carbohydrate consumption seems to be the way to go for better weight management. Excess carb consumption seems to cause problems for many, if not most, people. Of course, “excess” is kind of dependent upon results.

    I am becoming more intrigued with the concept of Glucose being (in excess) a poison that the body regulates very actively, rather than an “energy source” “preferred” by any part of the body. Thus the body uses glucose first not because it “prefers” glucose, but rather to eliminate the excess amounts from the system immediately, before it can do too much damage. It elicits a dramatic response from the body because the excess glucose is so toxic. Of course, after too much glucose too many times, and too many life or death type attempts to eliminate the problem, the coping system can break down, and it frequently does.

    I am also trying, without much success, to consider the food reward hypothesis in the context of an evolutionary approach. Or is the idea that humans are so totally unprepared (in terms of evolution, much like innocent populations of Native Americans and smallpox or measles, or whatever) for palatable and rewarding food that all such principles are somehow negated? I might consider that, except really, I like the taste of fat and real food. I am not sure how sugar and the various added flavors can make wheat products more rewarding. Even my 10 year old daughter has commented that the problem with carbs in general is that once you start eating them you can’t stop, because you don’t feel full soon enough. That is the very opposite of a reward.

    I am not sure how or why Stephan Guyenet went so completely off the rails, but I find myself preferring to read less of his ideas and more from Denise Minger.

    Thanks for your blog,


  65. Empowerment says:

    Clean eating is not a new concept! Nor is it a fad diet to shed weight. Clean eating is about sticking to what is closest to natural products and avoid processed foods that come out of a box. It’s not about restricting what you eat, but rather about making conscious choices to eat better quality foods. This means more natural products and less chemicals and additives. Although some people may be able to jump right into clean eating and never look back, most need to ease into this lifestyle. A sure way to get started is to firstly drink more water; secondly eliminate processed foods; thirdly balance your meals; and finally control portion size.

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  95. Pierre says:

    please do not feed the trolls…

  96. paleoslayer says:

    I went to a Japanese buffet yesterday and ate vast quantities of meat fish and vegetables. At the end of my meal I was struggling to eat the last few bits of beef left on my plate, even though it was absolutely delicious – “highly palatable” if you will. It was extremely difficult to continue to eat so I reluctantly left my last plate unfinished. Then I split a strawberry cheesecake w my friend. Now the funny thing was, even though I was literally ‘full to bursting’ I could have easily had 3 or 4 more full slices of that cheesecake! But I restrained myself, drank a glass of ice cold water and left it at that.
    Since following lo carb I’ve lost my belly fat, went doen to size 30 waistline(from 36) and, stopped my BP med. I also love bacon (highly palatable) yet cannot eat over a certain amount. The 5000 cal fat challenge is a moot point for me,
    Its like Taubes’ analogy of a busy restaurant. Why is it busy? because more ppl entered than left? (cal in /cal out). It’s true, but it doesn’t give you any useful information. Maybe its bc they serve great food, maybe there’s a price special on, etc, etc.
    Im not saying Taubes is 100% right, our bodies are physiologically very complicated. But he definitely is on to something. Palatability is a part of it, but it goes deeper than that.

  97. jocko271 says:

    Unless of course it’s high fat. Then you can feed all you want right? Just keep saying it enough and maybe it will come true…

  98. Sam says:

    Most people don’t care if the insulin hypothesis 100% right. What people care is the bottom line, if it helps to stay healthy and lose weight. The low carbohydrates eating lifestyle is the best out there to achieve both. It is easier to achieve long term compliance and results. Easier than low calories and is new incarnation eating unpalatable food. That’s why no matter what the trolls write, there are many that can attest that it just work the best, that why so many stand by it.

  99. Clarity says:

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that you’ve constructed a straw-man based on your lack of understanding of the low-carbohydrate method of diet, and not because of some personality flaw where you like getting a rise out of other people.

    The crux of the theory is not that insulin causes fat and if you eliminate insulin you will never get fat. The crux of Taubes’ position is that simply reducing calories in a food-composition-agnostic way is an ineffective strategy for weight loss. The reason for this is that hormones affect metabolic pathways in a manner such that the bodies of many obese people do not tap into fat, protein, and glycogen stores to compensate for a reduced caloric intake. In these metabolically-damaged obese people, the body has to down-regulate cellular activity in order to compensate for the lack of available calories. Hunger signals run rampant as a feedback in order to stop this from happening. The down-regulated cellular activity means that the obese dieter feels terrible and lacks energy; the up-regulated hunger signals mean that the obese dieter must fight against their most fundamental bodily urges in order to remain on a diet.

    Low carbohydrate diets work in these situations because insulin is a factor in preventing the use of fat as fuel, especially in those who are sensitive to it. For many, if not most of these obese dieters, a low carbohydrate diet will correct the cellular down-regulation by lowering insulin release. Less insulin means that their cells can now metabolize fat. As such, cellular starvation does not occur. Hunger signals are therefore not up-regulated. The body is able to use its fat as fuel without lack of cellular energy and a struggle against hunger physiology on the part of the dieter.

    Now, I would argue that it is not natural that someone becomes as sensitive to insulin as these obese dieters. People who never become this sensitive can eat carbohydrate and have insulin spikes without becoming obese. However, this does not mean that we can discount or ignore an obese person’s sensitivity to insulin. While carbohydrate in their natural form as fruit, tubers, and non-inflammatory grains probably will not cause this sensitivity, I would also posit that the industrialized standard American diet is not natural, and contributes to the derangement, especially sugar and refined inflammatory grains.

    The method of eating works, therefore, because it enables people to eat less because it prevents cellular starvation from occurring where it would otherwise occur by encouraging fat metabolism.

    Your 5000 kcal fat challenge is therefore a red herring because it addresses the wrong mechanism. We implicate insulin because it starves sensitized people at the cellular level and promotes hunger, causing one to eat more calories until the cells get all the glucose they need for energy. The fact that one is not hungry enough to eat 5000 kcal a day on a low carb diet where they would be on a high carb diet is what is important.

  100. Mike Ellwood says:

    As a matter of interest, have you taken the 5000 kcals per day (of fat and protein) challenge yourself?

    I suggest you do.

    It might be instructive, although perhaps not in the way you might expect.

  101. mark says:

    Dude – try to eat as many avocados as you can mars bars in 24 hrs (calories being equal)

  102. jocko271 says:

    The 5000 kcal challenge is not a red herring. It exactly and precisely puts the insulin theory to the test by asking you to see what happens when you DON’T raise insulin, but eat lots and lots of calories (while not expending more than necessary). Get it?

    This “sensitized” idea is unproven and smacks of pure speculation on your part. But I’m sure you’d use it well to your advantage if it turns out I’m right and you get fat without “raising insulin”. I agree that the SAD is definitely not natural for the body, but there are lots of effects on the body from this, not just on insulin receptors. The main one is (ready?): …OVEREATING. Yes, fatties eat too much. And that’s because they are around abundant, cheap, easily digestible and delicious food which is high in concentrated energy.

    And to all those above barking about how they lost so much weight and yadda yadda, it’s because the fat sated them and they ate less. Or Stephan’s food reward theory comes into play, since they’ve cut out a huge part of their former diets (carbs) and the food has become more monotonous than before. No big story there. People, please leave the cargo-cult.

  103. Martin says:

    jocko271 said: “The main one is (ready?): …OVEREATING. Yes, fatties eat too much.”

    They eat too much, like a kid who is growing eats too much. I guess that is why he is growing.
    As Taubes said: You can stunt a kid’s growth by starving him, but that does not mean, that the positive caloric balance was the cause of growth.
    It seems you just can’t grasp that what you consider a cause is actually an effect. Or you don’t want to.
    I must say, your demeanor seems pretty desperate. If you were so sure that your hypothesis was right, you would not try so hard to troll this blog.

  104. Suzanne says:

    Speaking from my personal experience as a Type II Diabetic, keeping insulin levels stable is one biological intervention that suppresses hunger, in conjuction with eating sufficient fats and moderate protein. I have noted that by eliminating carbohydrates except for non-starchy vegetables and full fat dairy, I don’t gain weight. I can gorge myself on meat, eggs, cheese, and fats, and don’t put on an ounce back of my 80 pound weight loss. My food consumption of these items varies widely, yet I do not gain weight. My diet is anything but monotonous, fat and seasonings are employed liberally to make food exceptionally tasty.

    Prior to my weight loss, I grew heavier and heavier as my blood glucose increased over time. My blood glucose increased as I hungered for and consumed more and more carbohydrates, and the more my blood glucose increased, the hungrier I grew for carbohydrates. Cut out the carbs, replace them with fat and protein, and my hunger disappeared along with a great deal of excess fat.

  105. paleoslayer says:

    I went to a Japanese buffet yesterday and ate vast quantities of meat fish and vegetables. At the end of my meal I was struggling to eat the last few bits of beef left on my plate, even though it was absolutely delicious – “highly palatable” if you will. It was extremely difficult to continue to eat so I reluctantly left my last plate unfinished. Then I split a strawberry cheesecake w my friend. Now the funny thing was, even though I was literally ‘full to bursting’ I could have easily had 3 or 4 more full slices of that cheesecake! But I restrained myself, drank a glass of ice cold water and left it at that.
    Since following lo carb I’ve lost my belly fat, went doen to size 30 waistline(from 36) and, stopped my BP med. I also love bacon (highly palatable) yet cannot eat over a certain amount. The 5000 cal fat challenge is a moot point for me,
    Its like Taubes’ analogy of a busy restaurant. Why is it busy? because more ppl entered than left? (cal in /cal out). It’s true, but it doesn’t give you any useful information. Maybe its bc they serve great food, maybe there’s a price special on, etc, etc.
    Im not saying Taubes is 100% right, our bodies are physiologically very complicated. But he definitely is on to something. Palatability is a part of it, but it goes deeper than that.

  106. jocko271 says:

    “Most people don’t care if the insulin hypothesis 100% right.”

    A Zombie admission. Well appreciated.

    Then don’t defend Taubes when he’s wrong. If you lost weight, that’s great. But it’s not because you somehow tricked your body by keeping insulin low. It was because you’re no longer hungry and don’t eat as much. That’s all I’m saying.

  107. Rachel says:

    But that simply isn’t the case for me. I started counting calories and got down to about 1300kcal a day. The weightloss slowed. My heartrate dropped to 45bpm.

    Then I discovered low carb, and spontaneously my calorie intake shot up to around 1700 to 1800kcal a day. I weigh and track all my food online, so I know. I also sat on my backside, quit the 30 minute runs I’d been doing, and watched the weight fly off. It’s still flying off months later.

    I am a walking, talking refutation of the idea that people on low carb diets reduce their calorie intake. I did the opposite, and I lost weight. Sorry.

  108. js290 says:
  109. Razwell says:

    “Eating less” does NOT solve morbid obesity. That would be dieting. And, remember, dieting does not work. The most recent NJEM study demonstrates that when researchers examined dieters a year later , their metabolisms were SLOWER and hormones were negatively disrupted A YEAR LATER . LONG TERM damage.

    Morbid obesity is NOT a simple condition of eating too much. Science is very clear and consistent on this.

    Obesity is an extremely complex phenomenon. Fat cell regulation is currently very poorly understood. Please dig deeper. You’re promoting the MYTHS of the Internet gurus who belong to the fraudulent commercial diet industry.

  110. mark says:

    because your insulin hasn’t stored your food as fat (and made you eat more because you’re hungry) and actually used it as engery… ? Am I missing something

  111. Rose says:

    Rachel, you could be writing my story. Right before I embarked on my low-carb way of eating, I’d spent a fair amount of money on private sessions with a nutritionist, whose program was a 1,200 calorie low-fat, high-carb regimen plus daily workouts. I didn’t lose a single pound. For the last four years, however, I’ve averaged an intake of 1,700 calories a day, the last two years with no gym workouts whatsoever, and have lost 70 pounds, and maintained that loss easily as I approach 50 years old.

    I certainly believe that all energy is conserved — the “calories in, calories out” mantra isn’t technically wrong — but I think if it’s hard to control the “in” part of the equation, it’s downright impossible to control the “out” part. Even though I ate more and (consciously) moved less, once I stopped eating carbohydrate, somehow my body used up way more of the fuel I was giving it, instead of storing it away in fat tissue.

  112. JJ says:

    Wow, Rachel and Rose, you could be me. Consistent calorie restriction with exercise – no weight loss. Raise calories and decrease carbs – easy weight loss.

  113. cj says:

    you miss-counted your calories.what you stated is not possible.keep living the dream(dilusion).

  114. Suzanne says:

    There are many of us cj. We, our bodies, are the evidence that you are wrong. I realize it’s very challenging to get out of a rut in your thinking, but keep reading and synthesizing.

  115. mark says:

    LOL Seriouly- god doesn’t exist.


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