Saturday, December 26, 2009

Can eating carbs make you thin?

So, with people feeling fat after the holidays and New Year's resolutions being considered, the typical glut of diet books seem to be circulating. We received one in the mail the other day so I picked it up as the title made the diet sound a little different from the normal fare. The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs--Nature's Own Appetite Suppressant--to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain was written by two experts who founded a weight loss center.

They start the book by explaining that carbs are not the enemy. From what I gathered from the first chapter, eating carbs helps the brain to produce serotonin (the brain's natural "feel good" chemical and appetite suppressant) which in turn keeps a person happy, stabilizes his or her mood, and results in less stress eating. Eating protein alone, on the other hand, results in less serotonin getting to the brain and may produce a lack of energy and binge-eating of carbs. So, the way to quit binge eating carbs is to eat carbs in a more controlled manner with snacks and foods that feed the brain serotonin.

It seems to me this is all rather intuitive, so who needs a whole book about it? If I don't eat carbs for even one day, I am grumpy and in search of them the next. But the book is worth a read if you want some good examples and details of how to eat carbs in a controlled and sensible manner. It has a kitchen list for meals for those who don't want to cook and basic meals that lay out what to eat and when. They are also a big fan of snacking and have you eat three carb snacks daily during the first phase of the diet. This phases out over time. But the snacks look decent and include low-fat biscotti, Fig Newtons, marshmallows, and pretzels.

The book also contains good information on how to help yourself if you are on antidepressant drugs and are gaining weight. Overall, it seems to be pretty decent and based on some good research.



Blogger Topher said...

I think the principle espoused here is true, which is that a wacked-out diet that is difficult to follow or induces stress will fail because its regimen is too much trouble to be followed.

9:49 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Ern said...

I dunno. Thirty years ago, doctors, etc., were telling us much the same thing, whereupon many of us (not I) got fat eating high-carbohydrate foods in excess, taking in too many calories. Carbs aren't the enemy provided they're consumed in moderation. The same is true of fat and protein.

Carbohydrates are superior to fats in two respects:

1. a gram of carbohydrate has four calories; a gram of fat, nine.

2. when consumed in excess, the calories in fat are converted more readily to body fat than are the calories in carbohydrates.

In the 1980s and 1990s, however, many people over-simplified this and simply consumed too many calories in the form of carbohydrates. You can see the results walking and driving around every day.

10:40 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Your body needs carbs, fats and proteins, as well as a multitude of vitamins and minerals to operate properly. You can eat all carbs or all proteins or even all fats and survive for a little while but eventually it will catch up with you.

There was a study done recently about weight gain. It pretty much boils down to a very simple math problem. If you take in more calories than you burn you will gain weight. It isn't a big mystery.

I'll make one more comment. After years of denial and victimhood, I am seeing a slow and positive turnaround in the way American view obesity. We, collectively, are starting to understand that there is a correlation between what we put into our mouths and our health.

11:28 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger James said...

Actually this idea is dead wrong, the weight loss statements in the above comments are also wrong. There isn't room in one comment to counteract years of propaganda, I suggest doing some research.
The body cannot add fat without insulin, insulin is released when sugars are ingested, which is all digestible carbohydrates. Calories are a good measure of heat released when substances are burned in a calorimeter, digested in the human body, not so much. The fact that fat has more calories than carbohydrates doesn't mean anything as the body uses them in different ways.
If you greatly reduce carbohydrates for one or two days you will feel ill. If you do it for a week your body will switch to its other means of fueling, which burning fat through the use of ketone bodies and you'll feel fine. BTW, if you then return to eat a high proportion of carbohydrates, you will again feel ill until you readjust again.

3:30 PM, December 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all honesty, we should just stop demonizing people who carry around a few extra pounds. Even if they use food to get a little comfort, at least they're not using alcohol or drugs.

5:06 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Aurelian said...

Good Calories, Bad Calories. Gary Taubes.

6:28 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Rob K said...

a gram of carbohydrate has four calories; a gram of fat, nine.
And there are roughly 7 million Calories in a cord of hickory wood. Good luck getting fat by eating that.

9:12 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Topher said...

"In all honesty, we should just stop demonizing people who carry around a few extra pounds."

I don't have any real problem with this. People have lots of priorities, and not everyone has to dedicate themselves to maximal fitness.

However, virtual human whales are another matter entirely. Perhaps Helen can shed some light on this, but I have to believe there's a psychological problem or a major social-environment defect with someone who allows themselves to double their weight and get to the point where normal chairs, seats, etc can't be used.

11:02 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger B. Durbin said...

James— quite honestly, any one-size-fits-all diet is a bad idea. Different people have different needs. My family has a hypoglycemia tendency, and a moderate diet of carbs is a great asset in offsetting nasty mood swings. When I say carbs, though, I don't mean simple sugars but more complex ones such as those found in starch foods such as pasta.

I have other friends who require a more protein-based diet for health, and some who should avoid carbs as much as possible. (Most pre-diabetic types should, which is why I say my family has hypoglycemic tendencies rather than actual hypoglycemia. It's descriptive rather than accurate.)

Really, though, the best diet is one that eats healthy foods in a balance. Don't eat just one type of food. Eat a piece of salmon with rice and corn on the side. Include a glass of milk. There you go. (I grew up with the four food groups instead of the "food pyramid" and I still find it a useful tool for meal planning.)

12:53 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Eating Purple Dragon Toes. said...

Carbs are brain food and you do need them. You body also needs berries, nuts, fruits, veggies and yes meat good ol meat. Yes it does need all of these things. One of the worst things for man was the agricultural revolution. Sent man into a place he needed not go.
We over do everything in this country and it has hurt us in great ways. Want a good body and a health life? WALK dont drive, eat well, get at least 8 hours of sleep, stop working 40 hour weeks, lower the stress, and love someone more than life itself.

7:14 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Mackay Rippey said...

Your brain likes carbs like it likes cocaine!

There are essential fats,

There are essential proteins

There are ZERO essential carbohydrates.

You may like them, but you don't need them.

(Essential means you will get sick and/ or die if you do not eat them.)

8:00 AM, December 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What James said above about high-protein diets is exactly right for me. It works great...when I can stay on it.

OTOH, I know of a nutritionist that has excluded all meat and dairy from her and her husband's diet. She stays wonderfully thin. He's ballooned into a blimp.

It's not one size fits all. It depends on the individual's metabolic make up.

8:04 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger kylben said...


A "no hickory wood" diet is too one-size-fits-all. Who's to say that a diet of wood isn't just as good as any other for some people?

8:40 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...


This is a topic about which I know a fair amount and at the same time possess no authority whatsoever.

As a physician, I see morbidly obese people every day, and over the many years (25) since my first days in medical school, the thinking as to how and why people are obese has changed: genetics, lifestyle, environment, you know, the usual suspects are all involved.

The terribly boring answer as to what makes the best diet for an individual, is just that, it must be individualized. There are certain approximations that do hold true: total caloric intakes do matter, as does the composition of the food you eat.

Ultimately, as important as intake is your output, W = F x D. That's the hard part, work. And what constitutes the best and most efficient ways to exercise is also controversial.

In Sum: Do some exercise first thing in the morning, before breakfast, maybe only for a few minutes if you can, to start your body working. Or if you are a morning person, this is the time to get your workouts completed.

Eat several meals, up to 5, typically small and some admixture of lean protein and "healthy" carbs. (If it is in a box, avoid it. If it can be eaten raw or it can spoil, eat it.)

STAY AWAY FROM LIQUID CALORIES (i.e., soda, frappucino's) mild alcohol intake is OK

Try to eliminate as much Sugar as possible (this takes some doing but it will certainly help you get lean.)

Cardio is best when Intervals are used: Aim for cardio 3x a week, that's often enough, coupled with lifting weights 2-3x a week. YMMV

The goal is to transform your body, building muscle which is much more efficient at using the calories you take in, not just losing "fat" which doesn't every really work for long without building muscle.

Tom Venuto: The Body Fat Solution is a book I recommend to patients and friends alike.

And yes, Carbs are like a drug. You need to "detox" off them.

Lastly, I recommend a slow transformation for my patients, beginning with 1-2 pounds weight loss a month to start, at the same time, it may take 3-4 months to begin to notice the building of muscle.

For the mega-obese (350 lbs. plus) their lives are frought with severe and complex comorbidities. Very difficult to remedy, but yes, still worth trying.

OK, long enough.


8:55 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger dr kill said...

James and DDR are correct. Weight loss is rapid on the high protein diets, but the body uses muscle protein as fuel instead of fat, and thus the liver really runs in reverse. Ketones are harmful.
To really lose weight as rapidly as possible, do the math. 3 grams of a complete protein (one Micky D patty), no fat (there will still be some so not to worry) and enough carbs to reach about 1000-1200 Kcal/day.
You will lose body fat instead of muscle, and isn't that the point of weight loss?
No. I'm not a nutritionist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

9:05 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

Very respectfully, Dr. Helen, carbohydrates are what cause people to put on fat. The diet most Americans eat is based in "science," not science, and very few out there, including those in the medical profession, are urging an evidence-based diet.

I urge you to look at the blog of Dr. Michael Eades, at Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes (probably the finest investigative science journalist out there), and a video on sugar and how it's poison by Dr. Robert Lustig from USC.

Eades' blog is here:

Taubes did exhaustive research for seven years for his book, and found that a calorie is not a calorie, but that sugar, flour, and starchy carbohydrates cause the insulin reaction that puts on fat.

Eades writes about how there's more "calorie wasting" when you eat protein and fat than carbs, meaning your body doesn't use them efficiently, and blows off those calories more so than it does carb calories, which it uses very efficiently.

What you experienced personally sounds like the carb withdrawal I went through when I pretty much stopped eating carbs a few months ago. Changed my life. I have so much energy now, don't need to nap during my writing day, and I feel great. It took about three weeks to stop craving carbs, and now I don't crave them at all.

I find it tragic that so many doctors recommend a diet that is not based in science, when people can effortlessly lose weight and stay thing by cutting carbs. A friend of mine lost 17 pounds in a month by eating bacon, eggs, hamburger and steak, and no wine or carbs. He incorporated low-carb vegetables as well in month two and beyond. Oh, and his blood pressure went from high to near-normal in a month. Mine's 111 over 64 from eating bacon, eggs, steak, chicken with the skin on and green vegetables. (Just went to the doctor.)

9:07 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Santiago Valenzuela said...

Morning Dr Helen, very interesting post.

I've been on a low (low low low) carb diet for the better part of 6 months now. I've lost weight and have much better energy levels.

I also experienced exactly what you said in your post - when you go without carbs for a day you feel lethargic, crave carbs, etc. I think that you should consider that this may be a sign of a mildly addictive quality in carbs (much like caffeine) and not in their necessity. After 2 days of such feelings I was "in the clear" and have not had any major carb cravings since.

9:11 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger george said...

For as much as we have studied this I think we essentially know nothing at all about the subject. There is no such thing as a perfect diet for imperfect creatures who are non-identical. Everything is a trade-off. Either way, nobody gets out alive. If you want to eat a lot and are willing to put up with the consequences then that is no one's business but your own.

A lot of the demonization of sugar or fat is just the same impulse at play that caused the Victorians to frown upon sex or the Southern Baptists to ban dancing. It is the desire to control everyone else and make them act as you would have them act. That it is couched as being for their own good makes it no less onerous. Even air cannot escape this impulse these days with people wanting to regulate the constituent components such as CO2 to hit some "perfect" mixture that exists only in their fantasies. The climate is like the body. Both are complex systems which we do not understand at all... and we have been studying the body for a much longer time than we have the climate.

Most of my life I have had difficulty putting on weight. I am a 6 foot guy who weighed 115 in high school and 130 in college. I have always eaten a high sugar and fat diet. I have literally not eaten a vegetable since childhood and by any measure my doctor can check I am healthy as a horse at age 45. To me vegetables are things you put in your stomach to take up space until you can find food.

Tomorrow I may find I was wrong and drop dead from some undiagnosed deficiency. But at least I lived!

9:20 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MathMom said...

I read a very interesting article a few weeks ago about the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup (HCFS) in the diet as a replacement for sugar in manufactured foods, and a strong correlation to obesity as more of this is ingested. It had some tie to government corn subsidies creating a glut of unneeded corn, and finding a way to make something out of it rather than waste it or stop subsidizing it.

We fatten cattle with corn, and we now eat massive quantities of corn because of the prevalence HFCS in the modern American diet. It might be worth reading labels and becoming aware of how much HFCS you are taking in.

When Michelle Obama's appeal to the Olympic committe to bring the games to Chicago included a little tearing-up-and-choking-back-a-sob about childhood obesity, I had to chuckle because she was speaking before an audience whose members included populations where childhood starvation is much more likely than being obese. One huge difference between our population and those in poor countries is that they cook, whatever they can find, and we open packages.

Maybe we should open fewer packages sweetened with HFCS and see what happens with our waistlines?

9:22 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Ryan said...

Dr. Helen,

I would respectively echo the suggestions of previous commmenters to read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. It reads like a novel and is utterly compelling.

You are grumpy without carbs because your body is essentially addicted to getting them everyday, and going without them causes a big drop in your blood sugar because your body's insulin levels are high. If you go without carbs for a few days, though, you won't miss them, as your body would now be producing a more normal amount of insulin.

9:29 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger AC said...

For those that doubt the efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets, this presentation by Christopher Gardner (a 25 year vegetarian) of the Stanford School of Medicine is a must see.

9:36 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Donna B. said...

I am one of those morbidly obese people who chose surgery to limit my intake of calories.

Worst decision I ever made. What the surgery did was limit my intake of protein, while encouraging intake of carbs. Carbs are often soft and pass through the tiny surgically created stomach easily. And I (as many weight loss surgery patients) have discovered this.

Yet, we are, as a group malnourished. This is true whether we are among the few who have lost weight and remained slim or whether we have lost and then regained weight on the same diet.

What is sad is that those of us who have regained the weight we so badly wanted to lose may be the healthiest of the weight loss surgery cohort.

9:36 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...

You should eat what your mind wants to eat, whenever your body's hungry. But you must train your mind and your body to want less food. And that's the only way to lose weight and keep it off - eat less. It doesn't really matter what you don't eat. It really matters why you don't eat too much.
And, from personal experience, you cannot stay on a low- or no-carb diet or a low-fat diet for long enough to keep the weight from coming back when you stop. Our markets are full of "diet food" and fat people.

9:38 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...


As I said, there is no "one answer" to the question of weight loss, as evidenced by the many testimonials and anecdotes listed above.

One thing missing in the many comments is the notion of physical fitness. This is something that is, in my belief," essential to well being.

Even if one is possesses normative weight, by whatever metric employed, without fitness, true health is not fully achieved.

The ability to withstand disease and illness, often, but not always depends on one's fitness. One example is undergoing any type of surgery, or recovering from physical trauma, or infection.

This becomes increasingly true as one ages.

I have patients who are "young" 80-year olds, and "old" 50 year olds.

And yes, of course, at some point in time, everyone becomes "old" old.

In my view, and professional experience, weight loss without contemporaneous reconditioning is necessary but not sufficient.

And yes, again, I would happily help my patients lose weight (control of BP, Hgb A1C, decrease strain on the heart, improvement in sleep apnea, etc.)even without any increase in fitness. Sometimes, you take what you can get.

As for ketones, no they are not uniformly "dangerous," ketogenic diets have long been known to be of benefit in some persons with epilepsy, and now we are learning that ketogenic diets may be helpful for persons with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Lastly, bariatric surgery may carry with many unintended consequences. I have seen many persons with vague but persistent neurological complaints following these procedures.

The cause is not known, but I suspect that it may have something to do with (micro)nutrients.

I sympathize with those who have had the need to undergo the procedure. Often it is of great benefit, but there is much we do not know about its total effect.

11:16 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger AC said...


You've contradicted yourself. It *does* matter what you eat... because what you eat matters when *training* your mind and body to want less food.

This is easy to see. Does eating highly refined carbohydrate laden, highly processed junk 'food' help train one's self to eat less?

Isn't it true that certain 'foods' actually promote hunger rather than satisfy it?

Isn't it true that certain 'foods' promote fat storage while others promote fat burning?

FWIW, I began a paleolithic style diet 4 months ago and, after the initial carbohydrate withdrawal period passed in a few days, found that I no longer craved food. Sure, I would still get hungry but far less often and the hunger, rather than gnawing, is actually comforting and easily satiated.

Of course, YMMV, but there is a growing body of evidence that there are indeed 'bad' calories.

11:26 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Eve M. said...

This comment thread is already very long, so maybe most people won't get to this. But I wanted to give a big thumbs-up to those who pointed to carbs as problematic and who recommended Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.

It's likely that some people are less susceptible than others to the harm carbs can cause and might even lose weight (temporarily) with a carb-heavy diet, but that's a far cry from saying carbs are good for you and the solution to all your problems.

Over at, I try and make some of Taubes's points more accessible to those with a scientific bent. Dr. Helen and others, please check out Taubes's book or at least dip into some of the surrounding writings.

There's not much controversy left about this part of metabolism science -- and The Serotonin Power Diet is on the wrong side.

11:44 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

In addition to the presentation by Dr. Christopher Gardener being a must see, let me add this one by Dr. Robert Lustig:

Sugar: The Bitter Truth.

As for myself, I've lost 60 pounds and counting since going "Paleo" over two years ago, and this was after trying to loose for years following standard advice and a morning hour long walk that I did religiously for over 5 years. I logged well over 5,000 miles and put on 30 pounds in that time.

I've blogged about the whole journey.

And many others report similar results.

11:45 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Nom de Blog said...

Before we judge "human whales," we should walk a mile in someone else's moccasins, so to speak. I'm overweight. I have fibromyalgia. The fibromyalgia predates the weight gain. I can't exercise because any time I exert myself, even if it's just walking around the block, it gives me pain. I walked around the zoo for an hour and was in pain for two straight days, the first day of which I was in so much pain that I couldn't do my daily chores. I try to limit my food consumption and only eat healthy things like vegetables, but it just makes me feel even more weak and tired than usual, and I have to be awake and strong enough to care for my children. We don't have packaged treats in the house because my kids have food allergies, and I make everything from scratch, so it's not the high fructose corn syrup.

What's the magic solution that I can use to lose weight, if I can't exercise and I'm already eating healthy?

11:56 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger AC said...

And I failed to mention that I first found Dr. Gardener's video at Richard Nikoley's "Free The Animal" blog so here's a belated HT to Richard Nikoley.

Thanks Richard!

12:01 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Eve M. said...

@Wacky Hermit: I sympathize! You should know that exercise is not required for weight loss; in fact, they still can't prove that exercise contributes positively to weight loss in all cases (because exertion can make you hungry). Some research described in Taubes's book suggests that bed rest is actually better for the very overweight. The key is not to go for a "balanced" diet; vegetables are not necessarily your friend if they're starchy and/or if you're not getting enough fat in your diet and/or if you're also eating fruit (which is generally quite carby).

FWIW, I have exercised consistently for quite a few years, both before and after I lost 40 pounds by changing to a low-carb regime for life (I happened to use Atkins; depending on your insulin sensitivity, straight Paleo or even South Beach might work).

You might find interesting a recent carbgrrl post of mine that points to Taubes's discussion of the most recent American Heart Association guidelines for exercise.

Best wishes for health, happiness, and desired body weight in 2010...

12:04 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger water said...

I think the Taubes' book is very important, but I also suspect that carbs aren't necessarily THE main suspect. I am more worried about refined flours and sugars than a sweet potato, for example.

But the serotonin aspect of this book the interesting point. My spouse found his mild depression lifted, and his dreams returned when he quit eating gluten carbs (wheat, barley, rye). (all celiac tests were negative).

Check out the PaNu blog for info on Paleolithic nutrition. It is written by a doc who's read Taubes and gives practical info for putting Taubes's ideas into practice.

12:35 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well yes, carbs make you feel happier in the short term but hey so do heroin and booze. Yes I know I am being a little over the top but when I ate a lot of carbs I had to keep eating a lot of carbs to feel sort of ok mentally. My moods swung MUCH more up and down. I got much more depressed and, after eating a bunch of sugar or bread, much more manic. I tried the more healthy carbs like whole grain sprouted bread, fruit and legumes but it made very little differnce.
I read Gary Taubes book and have since been eating low carb for my health and my moods have never been better and more stable in my almost 40 years of life. I really wish I had know how to eat this way in my teens and twenties.

12:38 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger John Galt said...

@dr kill

There is actually a body of research, albeit not enough and not detailed enough, that seems to indicate that the lower the percentage of carbs one consumes while on a calorie-restricted diet the more lean body mass is spared. One study showed dramatic results even when moving from 30g/day to 20g/day to 10g/day with the lowest level of carbs allowing weight loss in which the loss comprised in excess of 90% fat weight while higher levels of carb intake caused correspondingly higher levels of losses of lean body mass. If you're aware of some studies that refute the ones I've seen I'd very much appreciate pointers to them.

1:10 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

Here are Gary Taubes' findings from his book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (based on seven years of his exhaustive research into what is and isn't evidence-based eating). They're from an interview of Taubes posted recently on The Daily Bell:


"Taubes: I listed them in the epilogue of the book. Here's that list:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic disease of civilization.

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

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

4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and the other chronic diseases of civilization.

5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation not overeating and not sedentary behavior.

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

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

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

9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The less carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

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


FYI, Taubes has won the top prize for science journalism so many times they've made him ineligible for it so as to give others a chance at it. He is passionately concerned with finding out and putting out the truth, in a way careerists supposedly in science are not. I confronted one of these guys at a psychology conference I went to, and he refused to even go back and look at Ancel "Selection Bias" Keys work -- simply insisted it was terrific research, which it is decidedly not, and which Taubes exposes in the book.

Ancel Keys' "research," by the way, is largely responsible for the non-science based way Americans eat. It's tragic at how many practice hearsay-based medicine and how many people are fat and unhealthy because they follow these so-called experts' advice.

1:32 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

"A lot of the demonization of sugar or fat is just the same impulse at play that caused the Victorians to frown upon sex or the Southern Baptists to ban dancing. It is the desire to control everyone else and make them act as you would have them act."

I'm a libertarian and don't want to "control" people -- I would like to have people have the real evidence about what sugar does for them so they can decide for themselves.

Look at the Lustig video somebody posted a link to.

I'm not a leftist, a communist, a feminist, or a conspiracy theorist, and I'm a fiscally conservative atheist who is pro drug legalization and thinks you should be able to sell your body if you want to.

Not exactly what you're describing, huh?

1:35 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Eve M. said...

Amy, thank you VERY much for posting that snippet and Taubes's stellar bio. That says it all.

I'm starting to think of the whole "carbs/sugar good, fat bad" thing as CarbGate. :-) People are finally catching on to how badly they've been had.

2:01 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Cato Renasci said...

I'm a type 2 diabetic and have to limit carbs significantly - and I was a guy who loved breads and pasta. It changed my life - I lost over 50 lbs and have kept it off for almost 2 years now. My cholesterol, on a diet with significant amounts of red meat and animal fat (including butter) is significantly better than it used to be.

I agree with those who say that there is no one-size-fits-all diet. For me, high protein, low carb gives me the most energy and does the best job of controlling my diabetes. There may be people for whom a higher carbohydrate diet with less protein and fat work, but for me that was a forumla for weight gain and blood sugar disaster. I wish the pasta craze of the 80s and 90s had never happened!

2:05 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

Cato Renasci

I recently posted a blog about a T2 wo contacted me about his story. The whole writeup is here:


I was an obese diabetic who weighed as much as 235 lbs (5'10) and I had missed several weeks of work the last several years due to respiratory issues. I was typically being diagnosed with bronchitis or "episodic asthmatic" events.

My health deteriorated to the point that in February 15, 2009, after two doctor visits earlier in the week, I told my wife to take me to the doctor or the hospital. Literally...I could barely move.

Long story short, I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with a BG reading of 700+ and an A1C that was literally "too high to read". Three days later I was discharged home as a Diabetic and while the doctors were not sure, I was told that I was likely a Type 1 and that I would be on insulin and medications for the rest of my life.

While still in the hospital, I was given an ADA Food Pyramid by the "hospital nutritionist" and upon inquiry was informed to "eat the food groups" but stay below 2200 calories. This seemed odd to me but at the time, I was a mental wreck -- having been given several body blows -- so I took the advice and ordered my meals from the hospital menus. To be honest...they looked a hell-u-va-lot like what I ate ordinarily....

So, I go home and start researching what to do. I was determined to do ALL I could to stop taking insulin and medications. I'd seen too many relatives go down this road...and quite frankly...I did not like the destination nor the ride to get there.

A couple days later after discharge, a home health nurse came by -- I also quizzed her about my diet -- SHE HANDED ME ANOTHER ADA Food Pyramid and told me to "eat the food groups".

A couple of days later my doctor told me to check out the Low Glycemic Index to see if that would did and it started me on a journey that lead me to Mark Sisson's website where I explored all things Primal.

...Continued in next comment.

2:22 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

...Continued from previous comment.

Today, with the benefit of a great workout program and a Primal diet, I am 75 pounds lighter and I take -0- insulin and -0- medications. My latest blood work showed NO EVIDENCE OF DIABETES NOR OBESITY! (I am still diabetic, you just wouldn't know it from my blood work).

I have been insulin and medication free for about 6 months. Because I know how utterly confusing and hopeless life can be when diagnosed with diabetes, I have attempted to reach out to "spread the word" about Paleo / Primal eating and living. I often "befriend" people in social media groups and strike up a conversation.

Multiple times -- I'd say at least 4-5 times -- I have began a conversation with a "Certified Diabetes Educator". EVERY SINGLE TIME -- NO EXCEPTIONS -- they do not HAVE A CLUE when it comes to Paleo / Primal eating. Honestly...I find this disgusting. Especially when I have to hear (or read) how they are required to go to X number of hours of recertification classes and how they are trained on the latest...blah, blah, blah. ALL of this is bad enough, but here's the kicker...

THEY ATTEMPT TO CONVINCE ME TO STOP!!! ...And go back to eating grains, beans, rice, pasta etc. THE AUDACITY!!! EVEN AFTER they know that I have lost weight and kicked diabetes in the ass (for now) they try to get me back on the train...the train to hell.

WHY? Why would they do this?????

Certified Diabetes Educator: "Because you are missing nutrients and fiber."

Fiber? ...I laugh... "so you are telling me to go back to insulin and meds ...for fiber?"

CDE: "you need a balanced diet from a variety of sources and all of the nutrients"

...."Ok... tell me what nutrients I am missing from eating meats, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, celery, tomato, green peppers, mushrooms and nuts..... plus I take a multivitamin... Tell me exactly what nutrients I'm missing that is worth going back on insulin and medications."

I have never received an explanation or answer to that question.... NONE!

Richard, I understand that not every Type 2 is going to be able to stick to a Very Low Carb diet... I get that. BUT the ADA should PUSH Very Low Carb diet as the PRIMARY solution and IF THE PATIENT CAN NOT Stick to it...then promote the carb laden diet that keeps people "carbing up and shooting up".

2:23 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've tried high protein, low carb diets and portion control. Neither helped me to lose weight consistently. They'd work for a while, but then I couldn't maintain the diets. Also, I always ate a lot more food than I realized.

The very best, most consistent technique has been to buy calorie counting software. Now I log in what and how much I consume, my water intake, and also keep track of calories burned in exercise. Voila! Fifty pounds came off in one year, and have stayed off. In essence, the calorie counter helped me consume fewer calories than I burned without going uncomfortably hungry. It's been a gentle weight loss.

That's why Taubes' statement seems suspicious: "Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger." My experience shows me that consuming excess calories was the whole problem.

2:27 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...

Um, let me respond to Ms. Alkon and her quotes:

1) Entirely not falsifiable. Dietary fat most likely has a role athersclerosis, by some contributory factory, the amount of which is not known.
2)The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight and well-being: likely partly true.
3)Mostly true, for many people
4)Wholly without basis to make this all encompassing claim
5)Tautology: Excessive fat accumulation is the result of excessive fat accumulation, not helpful.
More to the point, are there persons who weigh more than 300lbs and who are fit? Yes, it is a non-zero number, weight lifters, football players, etc. What happens to them after their competition days? Obesity and illness
6)Totally without basis, except that exercise does induce hunger, a good thing.
7) Without sufficient basis to make this claim, borders on the cultish
8)Insulin is involved with fat regulation, not the only thing. Some people are insulin resistant and there are many other factors
9) Not true. By maintaining insulin levels in concert with our intake (both quantity and quality) we can manage our metabolism. This is why eating several times a day, small meals, is the most effective way to get and stay lean. Once your body begins to transform fat into muscle your total caloric intake may increase (this is true for many athletes, of course. Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France would consume as many as 9000 calories a day!)
10) Nonsensical, don't have much to offer.

Just sayin'.

Do what works for you! Everyone is different. But as I said, certain approximations are true for populations.

What you listed, in my experience, are not those.


2:39 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger lady_daraine said...

Ok, MeTooThenMail:
Everything you have said is without reading the corresponding research. Every claim in that post IS research based. And not just from Taubes's research - there are plenty of other sources that show that the original quote from Taubes is correct.
I would suggest you read the book - and the many other books like it with other research - before you try to claim that "Without sufficient basis to make this claim, borders on the cultish". It is not cultish. What IS "cultish" is the insistence that studies that are obviously incorrect should be used for the basis of a nation's diet. If your eyes don't show you the truth of this problem, I would suggest you read about the lipid hypothesis, how it is based on correlation and not causation, and then see if your claims still stand.
History is glutted with theories and claims that have been proven wrong after being dogma for a long time.
Just because a claim isn't popular, doesn't make it incorrect. Also, being supported by a government (or a church) doesn't make it correct. I think that the lipid hypothesis will end up with many other bad theories from the past - such as the earth being flat, and the center of the universe. The proof is there, the government just needs to get out of the way so it can be seen.

3:39 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

Would a healthful primitive population that consumes upwards of 50% of all its calories from SATURATED FAT (about 60% total fat), doesn't get heart disease or stroke falsify the lipid hypothesis or the diet-heart hypothesis?

Judge for yourself.

3:49 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...


Thank you for the comment.

There is the notion of competing claims.

AGW is a good example.

Now that we have learned that the temperature data have been homogenized, and that leading scientists around the world have known about this, or should have known, and that other data contradicting the claims regarding CO2, temperature, etc. exist but are not "in the mainstream" is a fine example.

As a matter of fact, I have studied atherosclerosis, its origins, and its effects now for many years, especially having been the director of several stroke programs.

I am well aware of the data on many claims with regard to diet and health, diet and illness.

We become leaner when our bodies' make-up, as determined by what our body is, what we consume, and the energy demands we put on our body, change in a patterned way.

We do not become obese simply because of some dysequillibrium of "the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism."

This is an unsustainable claim as it stands.

Obesity occurs for many reasons: genetic make-up, insulin physiology, liver metabolism, dietary intake, energy requirements, etc.

The "cultish" quality of the claim is in its simplistic reduction of a highly complex and dynamic system (human physiology) with its attendant immense individual variation into something concise and complete.

I have seen and treated obese persons for the better part of 20+ years. As have the many hundreds or thousands of colleagues I have known or met over a similar period of time.

If it was all that simple, everyone would be employing such a strategy for every person.

Sadly, it's not a one solution fits all problem.

And again, obesity alone is not the only problem, deconditioning is also a problem.

Weight loss for its own sake is often helpful, but not sufficient alone to promote healthfulness.

To illustrate this in the extreme: anorexia.

And yes, it is important to keep an open mind and think out of the box. I try to do that all the time.

I stand by my comments.

4:13 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...

Richard Nikoley,

Take the case of Familial Hypercholesterolemia (formerly called Type II(a) hyperlipidemia (or hyperliproteinemia.)

This is a common genetic disorder whose sufferers experience LDL serum cholesterol levels in the many hundred no matter what they eat and who previously died (before statins and other therapies) in their 30's or 40's due to coronary artery disease and other forms of atherosclerosis.

Again, genetic make-up is very important, as well as other factors, e.g. comorbid hypertension, smoking, diabetes, etc.

It's not simple and our knowledge regarding these illnesses, even something as well known and as common as essential hypertension is incomplete.

I used the word "approximations" for a reason. These are trends that tend to hold true. It does not mean that it is the truth or the only truth, only a significant and predictable trend.

4:21 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger LissaKay said...

My recent experience with a lifestyle plan has proven that a return to the eating and living style of our ancestors is the key. I lost 11 pounds in 5 weeks while eating heartily and healthfully, spending less than 3 hours a week exercising.

The eating portion of the plan during the weight loss phase consists of a single piece of whole grain bread and as many egg whites (or egg substitute) as desired. Lunch and dinner are made up of all the veggies (no corn or potatoes though) and all the poultry and seafood one wants. Olive oil and seasonings, such as garlic, basil, thyme, sage, etc. can be used as desired. In fact, it is recommended that at least 5 or 6 tablespoons of olive oil be consumed each day.

That's it - non-starchy veggies, poultry and fish. All you care to eat, and the pounds melt off. No beef, no dairy, no bread, pastas, rice, no fruit, no sugar. There is also no portion measuring or calorie counting - no limits to intake at all.

Exercise is 30 to 45 minutes of intense strength training, 3 times a week. No cardio, no treadmill, no spin cycle. Just 2 sets of 10 reps for each major muscle group with weights heavy enough to cause muscle failure by the 8th or 9th rep in the 2nd set. Compared to how we lived 100 or more years ago, we are woefully sedentary and out of shape. Building muscle in this manner does not trigger post-workout hunger, but it does cause a sustained increase in metabolism that burns calories at a higher rate even when at rest. It also helps one avoid the flabbiness than often occurs after losing large amounts of weight.

There are additional lifestyle changes in this plan, which include not rushing meals, sharing meals with family and friends as much as possible, getting outside for fresh air and sunshine, etc. After one reaches the weight loss they wish, the eating plan then adds in whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans, 3 or 4 whole eggs per week, fruits - both fresh and dried, and limited amounts of dairy in the form of cheese and yogurt.

This is a plan that I formulated for myself and has worked amazingly well. I used three books as the basis for this - The Cardio-Free Diet by Jim Karas,
Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, and The Mediterranean Prescription: Meal Plans and Recipes to Help You Stay Slim and Healthy for the Rest of Your Life by Angelo Acquista and Laurie Anne Vandermolen.

Even after lots of "cheating" over the holidays, and not being able to exercise due to a pinched nerve in my neck, I have not gained back any of the lost weight. I look forward to being trim enough to be comfortable in a swim suit by our beach trip in June!

4:24 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr Helen,

It is tragedy that the mainstream medical practitioners like yourself still promote the "carb intake is good for you makes you feel good" the short run. Of course you feel just loaded your system with a gutfull of sugar made from the carbs. It also makes you fat leading to metabolic syndrome.

In the longer run, which gets people past the sugar high they had been ingesting for years, those people who limit carbs to less than 20 gms per day, have a highly tuned sense of satisfaction and well being.

Getting rid of the lie of the government food pyramid and getting off the "carbs are good for you" and "eat your healthy whole grains" merry-go-round will lead this country out of obesity.

The past 35 years of bad science promoted by Ancel Keys and the lipid hypothesis has lead the US population to an obesity rate of 38% which is predicted to be 45% in 10 years....that is 120,000,000 obese people..wrecking havoc on our delivery of health care.

4:41 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...


Yes, I'm well aware of "Familial Hypercholesterolemia" being used to substantiate the lipid hypothesis.

And, yes, you can even observe infants with heart disease, but it's not the high cholesterol that's the cause, but oxidation.

LDL is so prolific (particles) that there's too many of them to be recycled back to the liver by HDL before they, essentially, go rancid and much things up.

Fortunately for me, my diet of about 70% fat from natural sources (animals & coconut) provides me with an HDL in the 130s, LDL in the 60s and TGs in the 50s. The biggest predictor of risk for heart disease is the TG/HDL ratio recommended to be 2 or less and lots of people have a hard time with that because their trigs are so high from high carb intake and HDLs so low from not eating enough healthful saturated fat. My ratio is 0.4.

If you look at some of the stuff coming from heart surgeons recently, they are very well aware of what's causing heart disease: inflammation, and oxidized LDL works of that. The cure is not to worry about cholesterol levels but to focus on lowering inflammation by dropping processed food, sugar (particularly fructose that's metabolized only by the liver and almost exactly like alcohol and is the direct cause of fatty liver disease in kids, now), and modern high omega-6 fatty acid vegetable & seed oils (restore a natural n-6:3 ratio of 3-4:1 instead of the 20-30:1 people are doing on modern diets.

4:44 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

Oops. I meant to include a link about the heart surgeons.

4:49 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...


Like I said, our understanding of these processes are approximations.

And yes, oxidation and inflammatory changes within the endothelium may very well be important for some persons.

In fact, essential hypertension is thought by some to be primarily an endothelial disorder.

Again, if it works for you, great!

I caution the readers here to take what works for one person and use that anedoctal information for themselves.

As the expression goes: Your Mileage May Vary.


That sounds fantastic!

Keep it up!

And yes, I encourage my friends, patients, and family to build their own program.


The most important word.



Until then...

Be well!


5:02 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...


Fair enough. My dietary approach is paleo, not low-carb per se, though my own n=1 self-experimentation has led to a composition of roughly 70/20/10 natural fat/protein/carb. Could be 60/30/10 on ave, as I never count. It's a life way.

Have lost 60 pounds over 2+ years and counting. Do it slow & make it real.

If you study the diets of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists and other non-industrial populations, composition is all over the map, yet they are lean & healthy, lacking the diseases of civilization, even cancer.

You have the Kitavans on one hand, 70% carb (from starches via roots & tubers), and the Inuit on the other, 80% fat and near zero carbs.

A healthful diet that promotes leanness can be achieved by anyone somewhere between those two extremes, but they have to figure it out for themselves.

Because of the amazing satiation that happens with high (natural; animal, coconut, olive) fat, I recommend people begin with the high-fat paleo approach. As I have come closer to my ultimate goal, I do incorporate more starch in the form of potatoes and such. But then again, I also go zero carb some days.

And I fast intermittently, randomly. That's another important piece of the puzzle. Paleoman didn't always have three squares (I'm rarely ever hungry enough to eat more than two meal), not to metion the cellular cleansing effects of autophagy, kicked in by fasting.

6:59 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger dr kill said...

I'm again amused by American propensity to complicate simple subjects, and then to lecture as experts.
A calorie is not a calorie?
Evidence-based weight loss?
If I ever suffer from Altzheimer's, Parkinson's or epilipsy I will certainly follow a diet that produces ketones.
Good carbs and bad carbs?

If your caloric intake is less than your metabolic rate you will lose weight. Easy.

8:05 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dr Kill,

How about you taking in 2000 kcals of fresh squeezed orange juice a day and I take in 2000 kcals of fat and meat for year and we will see who is thriving....all kcals are not equal.

I'll take my meat and fat ketones any day over your non ketone diet.

I will thrive without Altzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilipsy or cancer and will die peacefully without the ravages of disease.

8:23 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

Dr. Kill:

This morning I blogged of a video by Dr. Robert Lustig that I already linked to. Here's the blog post.

Now, he deals primarily with childhood and even infant obesity. Yea, he sees 6-month infants who are obese. If a calorie is a calorie and it's simply a matter of kcals in/out and a function n sloth combined with overeating, how do 6-month old infants become obese? We're talking way beyond baby fat, a lot of which is brown fat which carries a metabolic advantage.

Care to explain? Are they gluttons already (they're sedentary as a function of nature), or, is it perhaps the composition of nutrients they are given? Infants never get obese on breast milk, but they can on sweetened formula.

Could it be fructose? Beer bellies, anyone. As a Dr. I assume you understand that fructose and alcohol are unique in that they go straight to the liver.

And another tidbit: 100% of fructose not burned immediately gets converted to palmitic acid -- a saturated fat.

8:35 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Marie said...

I don't understand how the egg white, olive oil, whole wheat bread thing is supposed to be the diet of our ancestors.

How long ago?

The ancient Greeks were separating egg whites? The Goths were using olive oil? The ancient Egyptians ate whole wheat bread?

Also, did they have unusually long or healthy lives or something? I thought they died young. Why would I want to have "their" health?

8:39 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...


On the lifespan issue, you must realize that you must correct for the benefits & relative safety of civilization. Childbirth in the wild is dangerous, as is having to fend for one's self. They had no vaccinations, no snake anti-venom, no ability to fix broken bones without likely lasting trauma and debilitation.

H-Gs, pastoralists and other noon-industrials have been studied going back two centuries at least, and those who make it through the pitfalls live long lives.

For example, see Dr. Staffan Lindeberg's research on the Kitavans.

8:59 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger LissaKay said...

@Marie ... I presume you have directed your comment to me, since the three food items you mention are part of the weight loss phase of my personal plan, as well as the reference to the "diet of our ancestors" ...

A rudimentary knowledge of anthropology and the history of food and its preparation would have provided you with the answers you seek, as would reading the books I referenced in my post. In such absence, I will offer this explanation:

The egg white component is part of the weight loss plan in the Mediterranean Prescription diet. That diet is based on the diet the people of the Meditteranean region have followed for centuries. The omission of the egg yolk is but one way to cut out unnecessary fat. Certainly, it was not beyond the capabilities of ancient Greeks to separate the yolk from the white, and while I have not come across any detailed accounting of the use of this culinary technique, I would not hesitate to doubt its use.

I can see that you are quite literal, and surmise I am describing the "diet of our ancestors" when I describe my eating plan. I am referring to two separate things here, and for the sake of brevity, I chose to not go into a great length of detail. The diet of our ancestors is mostly vegetable based, with small amounts of animal protein. It does not include the over-processed, vitamin and mineral depleted, manufactured nutrients we are eating today. The animals they ate not only were not loaded up with hormones and fed a diet unnatural to their species, but also made up a much smaller ratio of total calories consumed.

So, your extrapolation of olive oil not being native to the Germanic Goths is missing the point. My diet is based largely on the Mediterranean diet, and olive oil plays a large role in that. Then there is the fact that MY ancestors did indeed hail from the Mediterranean region.

Lastly, it is without a doubt that the ancient Egyptians did indeed dine upon whole wheat bread. I am pretty sure that they lacked the capability to process wheat into refined, nutrient depleted, flavorless white flour. Whole wheat bread was a staple of the diet of ancient peoples the world over.

A diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, rice, nuts, seeds, legumes with poultry and seafood providing protein is one that is strongly associated with very low rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity, thus longer and healthier lives.

You really should read some of the books and links referenced here, there is a lot of good information, unlike the lies the government tries to feed us about nutrition and diet (pun not really intended!)

9:21 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...


"The omission of the egg yolk is but one way to cut out unnecessary fat"

Why? Perhaps you don't realize, but nearly ALL of the nutrition is in the yolk. The albumen is only half the protein of the egg, a little sodium, and that's about it. The yolk, on the other hand, contains just about every essential vitamin & mineral we require.

Think about it this way. The yolk is what nourishes an embryo to term. The albumen is analogous to embryonic fluid in a human. To discard the yolk is to starve the fetus by cutting the placenta, having it try to nourish on embryonic fluid.

Modern ignorance in spades.

"The diet of our ancestors is mostly vegetable based, with small amounts of animal protein."

Oh really? And how did our ancestors then survive an ice age? How is it that our closest contemporary ancestral relative, the Neanderthal, was nearly 100% carnivorous, evidenced by carbon analysis of teeth (the Neanderthal is second to wolves in terms of carnivory).

Have you heard of Kleiber's law? I didn't think so.

11:38 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Richard Nikoley said...

...Oh, and BTW LisaKay, while I think the Med diet is generally fine -- though I actually lived in France for two years and it is a VERY HIGH FAT DIET, contrary to ignorant belief in America (and we call it a "paradox" because they have such lower heart disease than us), Paleo trumps faux Mediterranean.

11:43 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MeTooThenMail said...


Just a quick return.

Yes, egg whites are fine. They have excellent protein, little to no fat, no carbs, and yes, folate and other nutrients are in the yolk, but as a source of protein the whites are excellent.

For those who have no problem with their serum cholesterol, many advise that you can have as many as 7 or so yolks per week (again, noting competing claims as to whether or not to use the yolk and YMMV)

Then there is the notion of so-called "thermogenic food" in other words, foods that require high amounts of energy to be digested. For weight loss this is a good thing, using energy to process fuel (food). It is reported that the egg white requires more energy to be digested than the yolk. The most thermogenic foods are protein laden with low fat: turkey, chicken breast, game meats (ick!), fish.

Lastly, I forgot to mention hydration. This, in both my personal and professional experience is a must.
The 8 glasses of 8 oz. water is a good start. I try to drink at least 1-2 liters of water a day, often more on the days I exercise.

Oh, and no, I have no financial interest in Tom Venuto's "The Body Fat Solution". I think it is an entirely reasonable and very well presented book explaining the challenges of weight loss, exercise, and most importantly how to think about food and explore why you haven't been able to lose weight and get fit.

For those so interested (maybe you too, Dr. Helen) it's worth a read. I highly recommend it.

That is all.


10:31 AM, December 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, let's pretend there are some dumb asses in the crowd.

I resemble that remark. So, define carbs. Define foods that are carbs that one would recommend another stay away from.

Thank you for your support.

7:31 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger dextery said...


Take a look at this website for things to avoid and things to eat.

I eat only meat and fat and salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing and a few green veggies topped with lots of melted butter...and my lipid profiles are great...better than the average by 50%.

9:32 PM, January 01, 2010  
Blogger Monica said...


Yes, people with a genetic condition called "hypercholesterolemia" are the best evidence that has ever been put forward that cholesterol and LDL has anything to do with heart disease.

The problem is that in 1986, a study tracing hypercholesterolemia in Mormon pedigrees was published in the high impact Journal of the American Medical Association. To their surprise, the researchers identified four individuals born between 1815 and 1870 who undoubtedly carried one defective allele, yet lived to be between 60-80 years of age. We cannot be certain what these individuals were eating, though it is interesting to note that white flour and refined sugar certainly did not become more prevalent until the mid to late1800s to early 1900s. Hydrogenated vegetable oils did not appear in abundance until 1911 or so (though they were used a few decades prior to this).

Authors of another more recent study of this condition, with a larger pedigree from the Netherlands, made similar conclusions, i.e. that mortality of individuals carrying genes for hypercholesterolemia *did not begin to rise until after 1915*. Further research indicates that increased risk of coronary heart disease is more likely to develop in these individuals when they have high triglycerides, low HDL, and/or hypertension. All three of these factors are strongly influenced by diet. It is clear from these publications that the supposed genetic determinism of early death due to hypercholesterolemia is far from absolute. It is also likely, based on later research on HDL, triglycerides, and hypertension that a diet low in carbohydrates could ameliorate this condition.

Many of these supposedly genetic conditions are largely mediated by environmental factors. See here:

By and large, our genes are victims of us -- not the other way around. If people with hypercholesterolemia could live into their 60s, 70s, and 80s in the mid to late 1800s, why can't people with the same genetic defect do so today? I would bet money it is the refined carbohydrate, sugar, and trans fats and omega 6 in vegetable oils.

We've been eating plenty of saturated fat and cholesterol for millions of years. You can barely impact your serum cholesterol levels by cutting out dietary cholesterol. That's been known since 1936 and the idea of cutting out dietary cholesterol has been all but abandoned by even the most lipophobic of researchers (not the same thing as government dictocrats and health professionals, though).


Williams RR, Hasstedt SJ, Wilson DE, Ash KO, Yanowitz FF, Reiber GE, Kuida H. 1986. Evidence that men with familial hypercholesterolemia can avoid early coronary death. Journal of the American Medical Association. 255: 219-224.

Sijbrands E, Westendorp RGJ, Defesche JC, de Meier PHEM, Smelt AHMS, Kastelein JJP. 2001. Mortality over two centuries in large pedigree with familial hypercholesterolaemia: family tree mortality study. British Medical Journal 322: 1019-1023.

Hill JS, Hayden MR, Frohlich J, Pritchard PH. 1991. Genetic and environmental factors affecting the incidence of coronary artery disease in heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis 11: 290-297.

6:01 PM, January 02, 2010  

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