I just got a long blog post devoted to me by the blogger CarbSanity. I suppose I should feel honored, especially since she calls me a “rising star” promoting low carb diets. Unfortunately her blog seems mostly concerned with proving that everything Taubes says is wrong. Thus, of course, I must be wrong:
I found the arguments amusing. Inconvenient facts are by definition “irrelevant”. On the other hand, facts that support your position “falsifies” the alternative. Here are a few striking examples:
Here is a version of the “carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity” that I agree with:
Excessive amounts of carbohydrates (especially refined carbs / sugar) increases insulin and results in fat gain.
CarbSane does not agree. She apparently does not believe that the hormone insulin is an important factor in common obesity. Conveniently enough, these facts are judged irrelevant in her post:
- Giving insulin by injection leads to fat gain.
- Taking insulin away (type 1 diabetes, octreotide injection) leads to rapid fat loss. Probably it is also “irrelevant” that at least 14 studies of the highest quality have shown more weight loss with low carb diets, and that these diets lower the insulin levels.
- Obese people normally have very high insulin levels.
- Thin people normally have low insulin levels.
Basically CarbSane’s “falsification” boils down to the fact that weight reduction instead results from a calorie deficit (stated in big green letters towards the bottom of her post). Well, duh, of course. That’s just stating the obvious, that the first law of thermodynamics exists.
It’s like saying that to get to the North Pole, you must move north. That is indeed true, but platitudes like that do not help anybody.
The problem with reality
The calories in calories out view of weight loss is not only obvious, it is meaningless. It works fine in a lab, but in reality people can’t know how many calories they are eating. And they certainly do not know how many they are burning. And even if they could know these numbers, they may not like having to stay hungry indefinitely to artificially reduce calories in below calories out.
The interesting thing when it comes to weight loss is not that a calorie deficit works. It’s how we can best accomplish this calorie deficit in the real world. Ideally with no unnecessary hunger involved. The best answer so far, demonstrated in quite a few studies: remove the sugar and the starchy foods.
Incidentally this also reduces the insulin levels. And whether this has an effect on the fat cells (à la Taubes), or by reducing leptin resistance (à la Lustig), or both, it seems to work pretty well for most people wanting to lose weight. Especially people with metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, hypertension etc.). A condition that incidentally comes with abnormally high insulin levels to start with.
Of course, all this will be considered “irrelevant” by people who know that it just ain’t so.
Regarding the title of this post: I have not been called a fraud by CarbSane yet. But judging from earlier events that may just be a question of time.