Friday, January 7, 2011

This is what makes me mad.

Hi all
Sorry to rant here but I can't resist. Please ignore if not interested.
Ok, so this is what just enrages me. Check this site out:
His arguments (badly formatted and all but that's not important) are as follows:
1. Atkins popularized the low carb diet in 1970, millions bought into it and the weight problem worsened. Again in 2002 this happened and the weight problem worsened. Therefore, it must not work.
2. He mentions a Hirsh Leibel 'study' from the 1950's and 60's which tested calories from different sources. So therefore a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.
3. He asks "please show me someone who, for an entire month, consumes 1,000 extra calories a day — without burning them off — solely from fat and protein and does not gain a pound. " Since no on has shown him this, it must not be true.

4. He says "If sugar in and of itself, regardless of how much was consumed, is the cause of obesity, why have rates in the United States skyrocketed only over the past twenty years?"

5. He talkes about total meat consumption going up along with total sugar consumption which resulted in higher total calorie count went up and must be the cause of excess obesity.

So the interesting thing is he is responding to an email in which the righter says every rebuttal to Taubes claims that obesity cannot be attributed to calories in - calories out has been 'high on rhetoric and low on science'. And his entire response is both (with the exception of the one study he sites which is not applicable).

To respond to his major points;

1. His argument that Atkins promoted the diet in the 1970s, and millions bought in but obesity increased on a macro level is completely ridiculous. The media, medical establishment, and nutritionists have all been giving the 'cut calories and exercise more' advice for the last 30 years and the obesity epidemic has worsened. By the same logic, that must be false as well.

2. The Hirsh Leibel study which he says proved that it is calories that matter doesn't apply (as I mentioned in a response). The study fed people diets of different macro nutrients and analysed the results (actually it is a 1992 review of a data from the 1950's and 60's). They excluded anyone that did not maintain a stable weight and as a result says NOTHING about the affect of different macro nutrient levels on weight loss. Again, ridiculous.

3. Gary Taubes does not say that you can consume an extra 1000 calories a day without burning them off and not have those calories stored and gain weight. What he does say is that in the absense of high levels of insulin, more of these calories will be available to burn and the result will be either you won't want to eat more (therefore you won't eat the excess calories) or your body will prompt you to be more active. That's a paraphrase.

4. I don't even understand what he is saying about the sugar thing. He says why have the obesity rates shot up only in the last 20 years and this is a reason sugar in and of itself cannot be the cause of obesity. It's actually be the last 30 years (since the 70's) which (at least according to the Sugar the Bitter Truth lecture by Robert Lustig) this corresponds with the increase in consumption of sugar and fructose). Weird argument.

5. He sites that increase meat consumption and increased sugar consumption = increased total calories (which is true) and therefore it is the increased total calories that is causing the obesity epidemic. I think, from reading both of Taubes books, he would argue, that the increase in the consumption of both can be explained by the increase in sugar (and other fattening carbohydrates) which caused the body to store more calories as fat and therefore have less energy available to burn causing people to want to eat more and not be active.

The basis of Taubes' books is that we are not getting fat because we are eating more and are less active, we are eating more and less active because we are eating fattening carbohydrates. These carbs are causing our bodies to store a greater proportion of the calories consumed as fat as opposed to making them available to the body to burn for energy and therefore we crave more calories. As a result of the craving we can eat more and/or conserve energy by not being active. He is arguing that it is the hormonal response to the food we eat that is driving weight gain and therefore driving the increased consumption and conservation of calories by our body in the form of eating more and exercising less. He (I believe) is arguing that while we can lose weight by eating less, our body will slow down it's energy usage and cause cravings before giving up the fat and unless we deal with the insulin, we are pretty much doomed to gain the weight back as soon as we stop forcing ourself to eat less and exercise.

I know from personal experience that trying to eat less and exercise without dealing with the carb issue is very hard and has definite pitfalls. I also know from personal experience that if I do deal with the carbs, eating less is very easy. I make an effort to deny myself anything but carbs and when I have calculated my intake, it is less than I take in with carbs.

I don't believe that this form of eating is for everyone. As that Chris Gardner in the "Battle of the Diets' video points out, it is alot better for those with insulin resistant. And frankly, those who need to lose weight the most (the obese) are far more likely to be insulin resistant. And in the end adherence is the most important thing.

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