Sunday, 17 January 2010

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

I haven't yet fully read the book mentioned in the title, but I've read the Cliff Notes. I have the following comments, based on these notes:-

1) Do I really need to buy Good Calories, Bad Calories?
2) I completely disagree with the following:-

a) Fattening Diets
▪ it's impossible to fatten people on high-fat, high-protein diets: they just can't eat enough
▪ in one experiment, the volunteers would sit staring at "plates of pork chops a mile high" and refuse to eat enough to get an excess thousand cal/day

b) The Carbohydrate Hypothesis, II: Insulin
▪ so: carbs = glucose = glycerol phosphate = trigs = fattening

a) There's an obvious problem with trying to fatten someone using "plates of pork chops a mile high" and that is BOREDOM. Even I, who loves meat, would baulk at eating pork chops washed down with more pork chops plus a side helping of even more pork chops. However, if I had a plateful of fatty roast beef, pork, lamb & duck with all of the crackling/skin plus lashings of juices, I wouldn't have any difficulty in getting thousands of excess kcals/day. Om, nom, nom!

b) See I have a theory and Enzymes.

P.S. Today's featured article on Wikipedia is....The ketogenic diet!

20 comments:

Jim Purdy said...

With many diets, their True Believers go too far in promoting a one-size-fits-all approach.

Unfortunately, everybody is different.

I am impressed with Gary Taubes' GCBC, but it is not a universal solution.

Nevertheless, it did make me focus more clearly on carbohydrates and the problems they cause me.

To be even more specific, I looked more closely at grains, and I realized that bread and cereal grains are disastrous for me. In restaurants, I've had to force myself to avoid the pre-dinner breadsticks and rolls. At home, I've had to give up my beloved Corn Chex cereal.

blogsthatmakemethink.blogspot.com

Nigel Kinbrum BSc(Hons)Eng said...

Hi Jim.

I'm 99% impressed with GCBC. Unfortunately, it's the 1% that I'm not impressed with that I'm making all the fuss about. Tch, nerds!

Nige.

GK said...

"plates of pork chops a mile high" is obviously not to be taken literally.

The researcher Taubes quotes mentions the difficulty of getting people to overeat on all all-meat diet. That does not mean they were asked to eat only pork chops.

No, more likely lack of hunger is the explanation, not boredom.

Nigel Kinbrum BSc(Hons)Eng said...

GK.

If I had taken "plates of pork chops a mile high" literally, there would have been 126,720 half inch thick pork chops on the plate! ;-D

I appreciate that overeating an all meat diet is harder to do than overeating a varied one, but it's not impossible. A low-carb diet doesn't even need to be an all meat diet, if you include oily fish, hard cheeses, eggs, mayo, butter, berries in heavy cream etc.

People are reporting stalling/gaining weight on a low-carb diet. People cannot gain significant amounts of muscle mass, even if they do resistance training with weights (which they usually don't). Therefore they are gaining bodyfat. This is because calories still count. Stating that this is physically impossible only leads to frustration and disappointment.

Nige.

Anonymous said...

I think people here need to read the book, try out these ideas, and discuss them before getting too serious about their refutations.

I think one thing is irrefutable: refined grains and sugars are not the way to go. I find one bit of advice I heard recently very sensical: eat all the junk food you want, but only foods you make. Most people won't take the time to make many bad foods. Slow down, eat whole, unpackaged and unprocessed foods and enjoy them!

Jim Purdy said...

Anonymous said:
"I think one thing is irrefutable: refined grains and sugars are not the way to go."

Absolutely! Excellent advice.

Nigel Kinbrum BSc(Hons)Eng said...

Hi Anonymous. I already have tried low-carb and it definitely suits me. I discovered this back in 1997, long before GCBC existed, so why do I need to read GCBC?

I'm only refuting 2 points. Nobody gets everything 100% correct, including me.

People have reported gaining significant weight on low-carb diets. GCBC suggests that this is impossible. My theory suggests otherwise.

I totally agree with you that refined grains and sugars are not the way to go.

Nige.

Chris said...

It is worth reading. I've read a lot of low carb stuff and I've learned new things form GCBC

Chris said...

Nigel

do you mean your idea that is possible to get fat on a low carb diet?

I think it is a complicated one that has been debated to death on various blogs and forums over the years. There was a debate in the comments on Peter's hyperlipid blog some time ago

More recently there was discussion in the comments at Richard’s blog

The argument usually gets round to the topic of ASP.

The simple argment is that you can only get fat when there is insulin. Carbs drive insulin, cut the carbs you cut the insulin and voila. Then there is ASP a hormone that allows lipogenesis in the absence of insulin.

But I'll quote one of the commenters at Richards:

In all the studies quoted to support the ‘ASP can make you fat on a high fat diet’ argument I have yet to see one where the methodology didn’t include both insulin and glucose in the mix. If ASP can make you fat in the absence of raised insulin why is it type I diabetics who make little or no insulin are mostly rail thin by the time they are diagnosed?

As I understand it, ASP’s ability to store fat is short-term and allows fatty acids to flow back out again for use as an energy substrate because, without the insulin it cannot block HSL (hormone sensitive lipase) and prevent lipolysis.

By relying on this system you actually only store body fat at a level and within a time frame that maintains a comfortable fat storage ‘reservoir’, which we have evolved to maintain against unexpected food shortages and famine conditions.


It is complex.

There is also the topic of other chemicals and compounds promoting insulin in addition to carbs - salicylates can be a problem for some and i'd also argue that artificial sweeteners might have an effect

Still at the simple level, for most people it is hard to get fat on a low carb diet. Get rid of grains and sugars as a good start and go from there.

Again I'd recommend GCBC there is a lot of good info in there that you will not have read before.

Nigel Kinbrum BSc(Hons)Eng said...

Chris said...
"Nigel
do you mean your idea that is possible to get fat on a low carb diet?

Yes, but it has nothing to do with ASP.
The simple argment is that you can only get fat when there is insulin. Carbs drive insulin, cut the carbs you cut the insulin and voila.
Healthy people have insulin. My theory suggests that normal insulin levels are sufficient for fat cells to store fatty acids as TGs.
It is complex.
Oh, yes!
Still at the simple level, for most people it is hard to get fat on a low carb diet.
It's certainly harder for people to gain weight/body fat on a low-carb diet. It's not impossible, though.
Get rid of grains and sugars as a good start and go from there.
I thoroughly agree.
Again I'd recommend GCBC there is a lot of good info in there that you will not have read before.
I have a lot of reading to do!

Nige.

Chris said...

My theory suggests that normal insulin levels are sufficient for fat cells to store fatty acids as TGs.

It depends what you call normal. If someone is getting fat maybe their normal is too high?

Nigel Kinbrum BSc(Hons)Eng said...

Chris said...
"It depends what you call normal. If someone is getting fat maybe their normal is too high?"
Insulin resistant (IR) people have higher serum insulin than insulin sensitive (IS) people for a given carbohydrate intake. However, IR people do better on LCHF diets than IS people!

I wouldn't describe Dr. A as fat (I wouldn't dare, LOL!) but she had problems with glucose tolerance and she also managed to gain weight on a LCHF diet.

Nige.

David Brown said...

Nigel,

One thing Taubes overlooked was the omega-6 fat issue. In fact, almost everybody overlooks it. Ask a couple dozen people what they know about 0mega-6 fats and most will answer, "Nothing." And the ones who think they know something about omega-6 generally are thinking about omega-3.

In mid October, 2009 the Samueli Institute, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism jointly sponsored a two day workshop entitled Nutritional Armor for the Warfighter: Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enhance Stress Resilience, Wellness, and Military Performance?

On day two, Biochemist Bill Lands, PhD spoke on Why Omega-6 Fats Matter for Your Health. In his opening remarks he said, "Pragmatically, I really want primary prevention. I mean, treatment is all well and good. But if you never had to treat something, wouldn't that be a wonderful world? So, how would a pragmatist create a wonderful world? Well, if you know biochemistry, you can trace the molecular events that caused the disease or the undesired consequence and prevent the underlying cause of the problem. That means you have to trace back - and we can do that - the context of this molecular event. And the context is competition between omega-3 and omega-6 for storage and for action".

These past four decades Americans been relentlessly bombarded with messages to consume less butter, choose low fat dairy products, eat less red meat, eat fewer eggs, etc. At the same time we've been told to replace animal fats with margarine and polyunsaturated vegetable oil products. But foods manufactured from seed oils are high in omega-6 fats. It's estimated that Americans consume 10 to 30 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3s. Both omega-3s and omega-6s are essential fatty acids. That means we have to eat them to be healthy. However, they need to be consumed in roughly equal amounts because the body does not have the ability to sort nutrients to balance their concentration in tissues.

Dr. Lands continues, "I heard several times yesterday about these chronic diseases that are preventable. If that's true, how come nobody's preventing them, for crying out loud?... These data have been out for a long time. Everyone knows that. Ancel Keys sort of knew this but he never really talked about omega-3 and omega-6. And it was a tragedy because we have had 40 some years when we could have really been preventing something and we didn't. We got off and we got on to distractions that were not mediators. But these are mediators of disease. People who have more than half of their HUFA (highly unsaturated fatty acids) as omega-6 HUFA, they really have a high incidence of cardiovascular death."

So when Taubes writes, "Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic disease of civilization," I have to say he just hasn't paid enough attention to omega-6 fat.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

David

That's "The Israeli Paradox", yes? See Are diets high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids unhealthy?

Nige.

P.S. I've been too busy to do much reading of GCBC. I'm up to Ch. 16.

Magarietha said...

To GK. Y'know this is NOT an all meat diet. I have been on it for 4 months. So we have a family with hypercholesterolaemia. Now what do you say about the fact that our bad cholesterols come down exponentially and the same with everyone else on it? We've been preached to forever by doctors to stay low fat because of our "deadly" levels. Now we eat lots of OILS, some saturated fats, lots and lots and more lots of greens and our numbers come down and what do we get now? MORE criticism for our miserable lifestyles - wha-at? So tell me please how will a potato or a bowl of rice (asian) improve my life and those ugly numbers, when the socalled ketogenic diet does it just dandy. I went on a pure veg and fruit diet once for a full month without my meds and my cholesterol shot up to 14. In American numbers I think that's over 400's. I got the fright of my life. Now I do the exact opposite and the doctors say, dunno what you're doing, but keep doing it! I love the science in GCBC. Someone should read the book from start to finish for a change. I know it's like reading Tolstoi's War and Peace - guess it's kinda the same thing. So help me out here please. I'm dumb this way.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Magarietha,

There's no point in asking GK any questions as he/she is long gone.

It's good that GCBC has make you re-think your diet, as your previous diet was apparently not doing you any good.

My quibble (and it still applies today) is that Taubes still insists that calories don't count and that you can exercise as much gluttony as you like on protein & fat and not gain weight as long as you don't eat carbs.

As I'm sure you'll eventually discover, this is not correct. You get *some* appetite suppression on low-carb diets and this is a good thing as it leads to weight loss and dramatic improvements in your bloods.

Cheers, Nige

Magarietha said...

Hi Nige, thanx so much for replying. My family were born that way - a faulty gene. When people marry someone with the same gene their children don't reach their teens. They need constant blood transfusion.. sorry that's too morbid. Anyway, still I get scared so if this diet can make me dump only one set of the many pills that would be fantastic. I don't know about the over-eating thing. I have always been almost too thin - that's why doctors are always so surprised to see my shocking lipogram. So now I've lost even more weight. I have a good feeling about this. Cheers and take care!

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Magarietha,

Apart from two hormone replacements (due to a semi-broken pituitary gland), I'm now on zero medications.

Luckily for me, I don't have any seriously faulty genes, other than a tendency towards type 2 diabetes & psoriasis and those are totally under control thanks to diet & supplementation. Good luck!

Cheers, Nige

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