AHS showdown: Gary Taubes vs Stephan Guyenet

Gary Taubes vs Stephan Guyenet

Here is the most talked about, tweeted and blogged moment of the Ancestral Health Symposium, captured on film. Two stars colliding.

Stephan Guyenet has just finished his talk on “food reward” being a major cause of obesity. Gary Taubes, the undisputed champion of the “carbs->insulin->fat” camp, steps up to the microphone for the start of Q&A…

[UPDATED WITH VIDEO]

Showdown

Taubes (usually my hero) makes the argument that Guyenet is ignoring populations that were poor, eating unrewarding food, and still got fat, thus “refuting” the reward theory. Guyenet disagrees and says that their food was not necessarily unrewarding.

Taubes says that in science it is always a good idea to consider all the facts, not just the ones that fit your theory. In fact, please do it before giving a talk on the subject. Then he walks away from the mike.

As the entire audience cringe from the awkwardness of the situation Guyenet answers, with superb coolness, “Thanks for the advice.”

Epilogue

From what I heard Taubes later apologized to Guyenet in person. Good choice, but I think Taubes would have gained a lot more by doing it in public during his speech. In fact he almost did it, but unfortunately ended up just mentioning that he had “insulted” Guyenet, without the magic “I’m sorry” words.

I heard quite a few influential people who were still upset about the incident much later. That is too bad.

On the positive side I think we can learn something important from this. Of course we should be respectful of our opponents. And if we are not, we can’t win.

PS

I have a few disagreements myself with the “reward” theory and consider myself much more in Taubes camp on the issue of obesity. I plan to make a post later on Guyenet’s talk.

I don’t give much for the almost bizarre idea of “bland liquid from a straw” being the ultimate weight loss diet. I don’t think that is necessary at all. In fact I seem to disagree with Stephan Guyenet more and more. But I still think he is a brilliant thinker, a good speaker and his blog is well worth reading.

Update

Actually the exchange may not have been quite as dramatic as the discussion afterward made it seem like. Now I have seen it again on video. Check it out yourself, the most interesting part starts at 3:26 and is pretty short:

Perhaps this is mostly a collision of cultures. The Q&A at these conferences is usually über-polite. So when someone is not polite it stands out.

More

More about AHS

Stephan Guyenet’s report from AHS

Gary Taubes blog

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113 comments

  1. Funderaren
    The roman gladiators eat a low fat high carb diet to gain body fat. Wonder why?
  2. Robert
    RE: Roman gladiators

    I didn't know they still existed? ;o)

    Simple! The answer - to gain weight. Sumo wrestlers also get fat on a high carbohydrate diet by overeating.

    So why don't Okinawans, Kitavans, !Kung, Yanomamo, etc, get fat on their traditional high carbohydrate diets?

    Wasn't there a man not that long ago that spent 60 days eating nothing but potatoes and lost 21 pounds? Not sweet potatoes but the potatoes commonly eaten here in North America. All that starch! You'd expect him to balloon up like a ... well, ... like a Roman gladiator!

  3. Funderaren
    Yes but why didnt the gladiators and sumowrestlers just eat cheese and butter?

    And what carbs did sumowrestlers and gladiator eat.

  4. FrankG
    Exactly! If obesity results simply from a diet high in calories then why doesn't the Sumo diet focus on eating fats... they are twice as calorie dense as carbohydrates or protein -- more bang for your buck surely if you are looking for empty calories? Why spend half the day eating bowl after bowl after bowl of rice, when you could get the same calories in half the time? I expect that sumo wrestlers and their trainers tried fat long ago and realised it didn't work... or maybe they just asked farmers what they fed to their cattle to fatten them up -- sugars and starches.

    So much of this stuff was and still is, self-evident if we just listened to our own human culture and experience. My Mother knew that to lose weight you cut out the bread, potatoes etc...

    It is about the quality of our food more so than the quantity... and the quality these days favours refined/concentrated carbohydrates in processed and packaged "food"... low fat products with too much sugar and refined starch.

  5. Milton
    I wouldn't use Sumo wrestlers as an indicator of which macro-nutrients make us fat. Depending on who you ask, Sumo wrestlers will consume anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 calories per day. They consume enormous quantities of both carbs and protein, along with a lot of beer. They don't skimp on fat either, though I suspect that they do not add it to their meals since they'll turn most of what they eat into fat anyway. Their meals are actually pretty healthy, featuring lots of meat and vegetables cooked in chicken broth to go along with their rice.

    A Sumo wrestler's diet is high in pretty much everything, and extremely high in calories. It's possible that it's also pretty low in sugar and grains. It's a testament to how you can control your weight via a combination of rest, exercise, fasting, and yes... counting calories.

  6. Funderaren
    Milton they dont eat much fat if you compare with the amount of carbs. If it were just about calories why not eat more fat since it contain more calories.
  7. FrankG
    @Milton... so where does your "counting calories" rationale explain why a diet, purpose-designed to be high in calories, doesn't emphasise fats which are the most calorie-dense macronutrient? Why don't actors putting on weight for a film role, sit around drinking from bottles of olive oil and eating sticks of butter?
  8. Robert
    I don't know about you guys but I and many others find it hard to eat a lot of fat. Since I brought up the subject of the sumo wrestlers, they can much more easily overeat low fibre carbs such as noodles, white rice and as someone mentioned, beer. That's why they don't try to get all their calories from fat. To eat that much fat they'd likely get nauseous. Ever try eating a stick of butter? Not those little ones you see in restaurants but the larger ones. I know personally I could eat more white rice than potatoes in the course of a day. The beer offers liquid calories which add up quickly. For those of you that are familiar with medieval diets, peasants would drink several pints of ale per day for several reasons. One was due to an unsafe water supply and secondly it was to add needed calories to their diet. From what I've been able to find out, sumos drink around 6 pints with their meals and they eat two meals per day.

    Someone asked what the gladiators ate. Many sources I've found talk about a diet built on grains and vegetables with few animal foods. I'm still looking for some credible sources ...

    But not eveyone buys into the near vegetarian diet that many people cite:

    http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/07/real-gladiator-diet.html

  9. Milton
    I don't know why the Sumo do not purposely add fat to their diets. The diet itself is not very low-fat; they simply do not appear to add additional fat. They may not see a need to change what they have traditionally used, since it works. As I said, it's a pretty healthy diet, save for the extremely large portions and their approach which emphasizes conditioning the body to build fat by the way they schedule meals and exercise periods.

    And as I also pointed out, I did not see anything that indicated that they eat sugar or grains as part of their diet. If we are going to use the Sumo diet to indicate that carbs are fattening, then we would also have to ask that if sugar and grains are fattening, why don't the Sumo consume those either? Their nutrition plan is so unique that it's a bad idea to use them to make any sort of point about diets and health, except for the obvious-- if we consume massive quantities of food, we get fat.

  10. Margaretrc
    @Robert, "But they do load up on foods that Taubes claims makes us fat. Look at the Kitavans diet which is based on sweet potatoes and other tubers." First of all, Taubes is very clear that his is a hypothesis that fits the facts better than the hypothesis that it is fat that makes us fat. His point is not that peoples who eat a high percentage of carbohydrates are necessarily fat. His point is that when someone is fat, it is more likely due to the carbohydrates in the diet than anything else and restricting them is more likely to bring about results with the least amount of discomfort. Secondly, as you yourself said, the Kitavan diet is high in low GI carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and other tubors--very little sugar or white flour, unless they want to fatten up (there is some rite of passage that involves fattening up and what do they load up on to get fat? Not fat. Starchy carbohydrates! At least that is what I read in Stephen Guyenet's discussion of them.
    "Not very much fat in the case of the Okinawans or the Tarahumara Indians or the Bantu" don't know much about those populations, so will limit my comments to a population that I do know--South India. I grew up there, my brother still lives there, and I was there visiting as recently as '07. Unless things have changed drastically in 3 1/2 years, they do not have near the rate of obesity that we do. Perhaps more are obese now than when I was growing up, but you can still walk around and see mostly thin people, and not all of them are poor and undernourished. But they do have a high rate of T2 diabetes and CVD. "Indian food is not low fat, they love their sugar and the rice of choice is white basmati. Naan bread is made from white flour. They use lots of vegetable oil, ghee and thick yogurt-based sauces in their cuisine." I think, in proportion to the starches and sugar, it actually is quite low fat. But that is not the point. I don't think the amount of fat they use in their cooking has changed that much--just the kind. It is (now) higher in vegetable oil than in times past, and they do like their sweets and therein, I think, lies the problem--not with the ghee and thick yogurt based sauces, which they have always eaten. They have always had sweets, too, and sweeten their tea and coffee and always have. It's just that, outside of the sweetened tea and coffee, sweets were always a treat, not indulged in every day except perhaps by the very well to do. If you are going to try to explain a recent problem, you can't look to things people have been eating forever for an explanation! Bottom line is, I think there is a huge variety of traditional diets that are healthy and it is not one macronutrient that makes them so, but the particular combination of macronutrients, their preparation, and the life style of the people consuming it. I think we should be looking at the introduction of trans fats, easily oxidized vegetable oils (yes, both are fats), sugar and refined starches, and frankenfoods prepared from soybeans without processing to remove antinutrients naturally found in soy for an explanation as to why so many of us have broken metabolisms. But for those whose metabolism is broken, there is really only one proven remedy that can restore health without deprivation: carbohydrate restriction combined with real, whole foods. Everyone else can do as they please.
  11. FrankG
    @Milton You can try to discount the bowls and bowls of polished white rice (I'll bet the common people didn't have such luxurious white rice?) and several beers (6 pints at each meal?) taken alongside the "healthy" Chankonabe stew all you like, but they are loaded up with refined carbohydrates and last I checked rice is a cereal grain.

    I was just reading how it is seen as right of passage for Sumo apprentices to eat until they throw up... once again it defies logic that IF it were only about calories, then why subject yourself to food torture when you could eat much less volume (half as much) but still get the calories in. It only makes sense when you accept that the quality of the macro-nutrients has an effect on our metabolism and satiety.

    Try this experiment for yourself when you are hungry: eat a stack of pancakes with syrup, washed down with orange juice... could you maybe manage seconds? At another meal (also when hungry) try eating a similar (same calories) stack of steaks or pork chops... I doubt you'd even finish the first serving let alone feel like seconds.

    Think about wild animals... how in the heck do they stay in balance without kitchen scales and calorie charts. Lions that only hunt every second or third day despite plenty of game... or rabbits surrounded by a field of grass and yet they know to stop when they have had enough. Compare them to domesticated dogs and cats eating pet food made with rice and carrots... overweight ad suffering the same chronic diseases as their human owners.

    I agree that there would be no need for Sumos to change their traditional approach, which clearly works... in the same way that farmers know the traditional approach to fattening cattle. pigs etc... There is a reason these things became the tradition in the first place. There same reason why my Mother knew that to lose weight she would cut out the bread and potatoes... we ALL knew and accepted that simple truth until the nutritional scientists somehow convinced us they knew better than tens of thousands of years of human trial and error... look around you.. how's that expert advice working out these days?

  12. Robert
    @Margaretrc,

    "(there is some rite of passage that involves fattening up and what do they load up on to get fat? Not fat. Starchy carbohydrates!"

    My knowledge of the Kitavans has been gleaned from Lindeberg's web site and his book "Food and Western Disease: Health and Nutrition from an Evolutionary Perspective". I do not remember any such "right of passage". The was no mention of fattening but he did remark on how lean they were. The average BMI for men was slightly over 22. He also talks about how humans are well adapted for starchy root vegetables and how the fructose in fruit poses no threat to us. Again, the key is whole, natural foods. The Kitavans do not consume sugar and refined carbohydrates.

    I beg to differ about Indian food being low fat. Especially when compared to other Asian cuisines like Japan and Vietnam. I must say however that my personal experience with Indian food is limited to here in North America. Mostly Northern India (Punjabi style). I won't use my restaurant experiences (they never closely reflect a Nation's true diet anyway) but rather my experience dining with Indian families. I can't comment on what the Indian traditional cooking methods were. That's outside my realm of experience. You are correct about Indian sweets. Its mostly something you see served at special functions or holidays. I was at a Sikh wedding last year. They laid out the sweets big time!

  13. Milton
    I said: "It's a testament to how you can control your weight via a combination of rest, exercise, fasting, and yes... counting calories."

    FrankG said: "once again it defies logic that IF it were only about calories"

    I just wanted to point out that I never said it was "only about calories." Sumo wrestlers gain weight via a careful combination of factors, one of those being the ingestion of copious amounts of calories. Their daily intake is so extreme that they really can't be used as an example of how macro-nutrient percentages affect weight.

    You may want to check my posting history here, as you seem to think that I'm trying to make a larger point about LCHF diets, based on beliefs or assumptions that I do not hold. I am simply pointing out that the diet of Sumo wrestlers is, by virtue of its particular qualities and specific goal, not good for indicating how any particular macro-nutrient affects our weight.

  14. Funderaren
    Milton if you eat 10 000 calories, you will of course get some amount of fat in your food, but its not high in fat if you compare it the rest of their intake. While I agree that sumowrestlers gets big by a combination of factors, its intresting that they eat a highcarb meal. Its also interesting that they skip breakfast and do workout on empty stomach. And that they go to bed with a not so empty stomach.

    As for beer, its to create a beer belly. So the fat end on the right place. Sumowrestlers dont want fat on their legs and arms.

    There is something called the reverse sumodiet. Several smal meal, high in fat, breakfast, no beer etc. Very interesting stuff.

  15. Margaretrc
    @Robert, #62 "I beg to differ about Indian food being low fat. Especially when compared to other Asian cuisines like Japan and Vietnam." Clearly, "low fat" has a very fluid definition and a lot depends on what you are comparing a particular diet to. The south Indian diet is way lower in fat (proportion wise) than the French diet, but higher, perhaps, than Japanese or Vietnamese. Yet they have more heart disease and T2 diabetes (I think) than these other populations. Something has broken their metabolism so that they can no longer tolerate their traditional high carbohydrate diet. Is it increased sugar and white rice? It it the exchange of polyunsaturated vegetable oils for natural fats like ghee, coconut oil and peanut oil? Or perhaps a combination? I don't know. I don't think it matters one whit what traditional diet any healthy population eats or what it is about the diet that makes it healthy. What matters is that, once that metabolism has broken down, there is only one proven way to restore health with minimal deprivation: carbohydrate restriction. It's the only thing that makes sense metabolically. I also think that a high carbohydrate diet, traditional or not, is more likely to cause metabolic break down than a diet high in natural fats (show me a population that eats a traditional LCHF diet and also has a high rate of heart disease and T2 diabetes and we'll talk--I doubt it exists), which is why, even though my metabolism--as far as I know--is quite okay, I choose to follow a LCHF diet for health reasons.
    @Frank G, #61, well said! I totally agree.
  16. Robert
    @Margaretrc, #65

    "What matters is that, once that metabolism has broken down, there is only one proven way to restore health with minimal deprivation: carbohydrate restriction."

    Well that worked in the case of a group of aborigines in Australia if you recall. A group that had been off their traditional diet reverted back to their traditional diet and reversed the diabetes and other health issues they had.

    However, we see Asians coming to America and ending up gaining weight, increasing their cholesterol, etc. But when they return to their homeland they reverse these health issues by returning to their normal diet. In the case of Asians, this does NOT mean low carb. These people are fixing their problem with a high carb diet.

    Low carb may be working for you (and others) but you can't prescribe a single diet for everyone and the healthy populations on high carb diets can't be ignored.

  17. Funderaren
    Robert, I think everyone gain health if they return to their homeland (Not counting warzones and disaster areas). Because how many countries can you count that have a worse diet then the "american diet" with its high intake of white flour and white sugar?
  18. Margaretrc
    @Robert, #66, "Well that worked in the case of a group of aborigines in Australia if you recall. A group that had been off their traditional diet reverted back to their traditional diet and reversed the diabetes and other health issues they had." "The Aborigines ate simple, balanced diets prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the late 1700s. Their diets contained meat and fish, as well as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Honey was a popular sweetener..." Doesn't sound like a high carbohydrate diet to me--unless they were eating a lot of honey, which I doubt. Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/australia-aborigines-and-bush-tucker#ixz...
    "However, we see Asians coming to America and ending up gaining weight, increasing their cholesterol, etc. But when they return to their homeland they reverse these health issues by returning to their normal diet. In the case of Asians, this does NOT mean low carb. These people are fixing their problem with a high carb diet." Yes, I've met many of those Asian Americans. They might be overweight in comparison to their native counterparts, but they are rarely, if ever, obese/diabetic. I submit that, when they return to their homeland and reverse their health issues on a relatively high carbohydrate diet (which is probably nonetheless lower in sugars and starches than the SAD) they are able to do so because their metabolisms are not actually broken. I also submit that "high carb", like "low fat", is an expression of very fluid definition. Is the Asian diet (I mean Japanese, Vietnamese, etc.) really that high? Think about what they eat. Yes, they eat rice and noodles (though not usually both in one sitting). But a typical serving is also piled high with vegetables, which are generally low in carbohydrates, and meat/tofu/protein of some sort. And the traditional Asian plate is not low fat--think of how the vegetables and meat are prepared--generally stir fried in oil. A far cry from the American plate, which--for example--includes plenty of potatoes, pasta or other starch, bread, etc., some meat and vegetables, a little fat, and dessert most likely made of sugar and flour. "High carb" does not mean lots of non starchy vegetables! I can see why Asians who return to their traditional diet might regain their health. Once the metabolism is actually broken, however, I don't believe this is going to work. Here is what an Asian doctor believes, based on his own experience and track record treating others with malfunctioning metabolism: http://www.carbohydratescankill.com/blog I believe he would be familiar with the traditional Asian diet! He also has a couple of entries about the Kitavans, which might interest you.
    I think it's also an interesting side bar that the Japanese have a noodle variety, called Shirataki noodles, which "Japanese women eat to keep from getting fat." It's made from glucomanan and is all water soluble fiber. In other words, they know that it is the noodles that are fattening--if/when they get fat. Hmmm.
  19. Robert
    @Funderaren, #67

    A diet worse than the American one? The recent "diet" of Nauru is at least as bad but there aren't many that I can think of off the top of my head.

    @Margaretrc, #68

    "Doesn't sound like a high carbohydrate diet to me--unless they were eating a lot of honey, which I doubt."

    Never said or implied it was. Just citing their example of a group eating a crappy diet then returning to their traditional diet.

    "I submit that, when they return to their homeland and reverse their health issues on a relatively high carbohydrate diet (which is probably nonetheless lower in sugars and starches than the SAD)"

    Yes, lower in sugar (I assumed that was a given) and possibly lower in starches.

    "Yes, they eat rice and noodles (though not usually both in one sitting). But a typical serving is also piled high with vegetables, which are generally low in carbohydrates, and meat/tofu/protein of some sort. And the traditional Asian plate is not low fat--think of how the vegetables and meat are prepared--generally stir fried in oil."

    Not high in fat and certainly not as much fat as most low-carb diets. There is no single, standard Asian cuisine but they do tend to be much lower in fat than the SAD diet and many LC diets. I'm familiar with Dr. Hu and his book. I think he's just trying to cash in on the remaining LC popularity. Even the title was selected for its shock value. He admitted as much on Amazon.com.

    As I said, my knowledge of the Kitavans was taken from the man that lead the Kitava Study. I don't think Dr. Hu is going to have much more to add to what Lindeberg has already documented. The Kitavans were Lindeberg's specialty. The Kitavans are doing and will continue to do just fine on their traditional high-carb, low-fat diet as long as they don't allow any western foods to creep into their diet. So far, so good for the Kitavans!

  20. Latest in Paleo Episode 30: Gary Taubes recent interview with Taubes in which he talks about AHS events among other things.
  21. Margaretrc
    @Robert, 69, "Yes, lower in sugar (I assumed that was a given) and possibly lower in starches." Exactly, which would be why they regained their health, since their metabolism was still functioning properly.
    "There is no single, standard Asian cuisine but they do tend to be much lower in fat than the SAD diet and many LC diets. " Lower than LC diets, yes, but SAD? I don't know about that. The diet recommended by the USDA is actually quite low fat and based on PUFAs, to boot--not good and not good. There are healthy diets that are high in fat, as well--for example the French. But their fats of choice are olive oil and butter, not PUFAs. The bad thing about the SAD is the disproportionately high amount of sugar and refined starches as opposed to fats, and the type of fats used: PUFAs. It would seem that we actually agree on that, no?. I am not arguing against any traditional diet, just SAD. I'm just saying that, once one's metabolism is damaged, returning to a traditional diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is going to exacerbate the problem, not help, whereas restricting carbohydrates will alleviate the problem.
    "As I said, my knowledge of the Kitavans was taken from the man that lead the Kitava Study." Dr. Su's blogs reference the Kitavan study as put forth by Lindeberg et al. And he does have something to add. He is not especially critical of Lindeberg's work, nor does he argue that the Kitavan diet doesn't work for them. He just tries to reconcile what Lindeberg found out about the Kitavans with what he knows about carbohydrates, both from personal experience, and his practice. Seems to me a bit closed minded to dismiss what he says without reading it!
    "the remaining LC popularity"???? LC has been around for over 150 years. It suffered a set back when Ancel Keys, McGovern, et al duped the public into believing fats, particularly sat. fats are bad, but it is coming back and gaining in popularity as people learn the truth, I would say! It's not going away any time soon. Good thing, because it is the only thing that is going to save this country from the current epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
  22. Robert
    @Margaretrc, #71

    The USDA recommended diet vs. what Americans actually eat are not the same, generally speaking. I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree on the fat content of a typical Asian diet versus the SAD. No argument regarding refined flour and sugar.

    As far as the French are concerned I think you'll find the healthiest, longest-lived in France tend to live in the southern regions where they use less butter and more olive oil. It just so happens to be where Jeanne Calment lived (Arles, France). She admits to "pouring" olive oil on all her food. Let's not forget that the French also tend to walk and bicycle a lot more than we do.

    Btw, I did go and read two articles (part 1 and 2) by Dr. Hu at his web site. He concludes by asking the question if the Kitavans would be better off on fewer carbs. Don't try and fix something that isn't broken, I'd say to Dr. Hu.

    Prosperity leads to the downfall (as far as health is concerned at least) of most countries. Look at Canada, United States. It was the catalyst to Nauru's problems. The Chinese have more disposable income these days. It will be interesting to see how or if that impacts their health over the next couple decades.

  23. Funderaren
    Robert, the french in the south has more sun. More vitamin D = better health.
  24. FrankG
    The prosperity of a nation may well lead to the health downfall of that nation -- China does indeed have a growing Type 2 Diabetes and obesity problem, as does Okinawa and pretty much anywhere that adopts the "Western" diet -- but at the same time there is still a clear socio-economic divide where the wealthiest individuals have much better overall health. So I'm not ready to point the finger at access to more food but once again to the quality of the food that is available.

    I have no doubt that the people flocking to the Chinese cities for work, are eating a poorer quality diet than they had when raising their own crops and animals. They may also be eating a greater volume but how much of that is cheap fillers?

    The rich folks have access to unlimited quantity but they also have access to better quality food and they don't suffer with the same "Western" diseases.

  25. Robert
    @FrankG, #74

    "but at the same time there is still a clear socio-economic divide where the wealthiest individuals have much better overall health."

    Agreed. The wealthiest can *afford* the best health care. But that was not always the case. In the middle ages it was the wealthy that tended to be overweight and in poor health while the poor, living on a more Spartan diet, were leaner. (Perhaps not happier, but probably in better health)

    "I have no doubt that the people flocking to the Chinese cities for work, are eating a poorer quality diet than they had when raising their own crops and animals. They may also be eating a greater volume but how much of that is cheap fillers?"

    No doubt. And what type of work will they find in the city? Will they also be less active in a modern urban setting? <- rhetorical question. ;o)

    "The rich folks have access to unlimited quantity but they also have access to better quality food and they don't suffer with the same "Western" diseases."

    As I said above, this may be the case today but it was the reverse in the middle ages.

  26. Re "I have no doubt that the people flocking to the Chinese cities for work, are eating a poorer quality diet than they had when raising their own crops and animals.
    But it isn't just changes in diet that occur with urbanization.
    Particulate, noise, ozone, and light pollutions inevitably occur and each decrease either melatonin or Vitamin D3 antioxidant creation in humans, increasing inflammatory status while decreasing anti inflammatory reserves. Raising Inflammatory status changes the type of gut flora to those that exist in an inflammatory environment.
  27. FrankG
    I would suggest that the the food supply in the Middle Ages -- unrefined, local seasonal food -- was of better quality than we have today. I'm not sure what your point is? Mine is that the focus on *quantity* or volume of food is a misdirection from the more important *quality* of our food... "Western" food has too many cheap fillers -- sugar and refined starches chiefly.

    If you eat better quality food with a focus on nutrients other than just calories (energy), you naturally need to eat less of it. I am convinced that many of the health issues we see these days is the result of malnourishment in the midst of apparent plenty. No matter how much sawdust we eat if we do not get the nourishment (macro + micro-nutrients) we need, our bodies remain "hungry".

    "A man, given carbohydrates alone, however liberally, would starve to death on calories." - Sir Heneage Ogilvie, former vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, England.

    Much of the factory work in China's rapidly growing cities involves very long hours of repetitive manual tasks -- this unlimited supply of cheap labour is why their economy is booming and why everything we buy is "Made in China". And just like any other animal we adjust our dietary needs as required -- you'd expect the lumberjacks at a camp to eat more than their pay-clerk but both can remain in equilibrium.

    I think it is about time we abandoned the platitudes about gluttony and sloth.

    ---

    Agreed Ted and these may well be significant factors in the overall health picture but surely the "rich" urbanites mentioned above are subject to the same environmental pollutants as everyone else? They may live in a better part of town but they are still in town.

  28. Re They may live in a better part of town but they are still in town.
    Indeed but distance from the busy main road affects inflammatory status. Poorer people tend to live in the most polluted areas and their kids suffer the most pollution on route to school. There is also the question of cortisol and it's impact on obesity.
    J Stanton has a useful series on Satiety here http://www.gnolls.org/page/2/
    including links to a paper showing the more stress you put people under when dieting the more cortisol is released.
    I think kids today suffer more stress with both parents working than when I was a lad growing up in a village with mum at home and just dad at work. I think the stress of early separation may be a contributing factor to comfort eating and childhood obesity. We may have been poorer but the fact mum was at home meant breastfeeding was generally longer than is currently the case. (BF helps establish cultural Gut Flora)
  29. "A man, given carbohydrates alone, however liberally, would starve to death on calories." I found this quote online as the forward to the 1958 book Eat Fat And Grow Slim by Richard MacKarness, M.B., B.S (1958) It's free full text online and well worth reading.
  30. FrankG
    I agree about the pollutants and the move away from what has traditionally worked for humans... no doubt these are a significant factors.

    Many thanks for that link Ted. Great to see books like that available online... I can add it to the excellent work of Surg. Capt. T.L. Cleave : "The Saccharine Disease" http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/Cleave/cleave_toc.html

    Back to Sir Heneage Ogilvie and I particularly noticed the final sentence below -- even in starvation while muscles and organs are being broken down, we can still store carbohydrates as Fat...

    "A man given carbohydrates alone, however liberally, would starve to death on calories, While he was dying he would break down his own proteins to provide materials for the repair of his key organs. He would use what calories were needed to provide energy, and he would lay down the carbohydrate surplus to his caloric requirements as fat."

  31. Robert
    "I'm not sure what your point is? Mine is that the focus on *quantity* or volume of food is a misdirection from the more important *quality* of our food... "Western" food has too many cheap fillers -- sugar and refined starches chiefly."

    My point was simple, as we were on this topic I stated that the health status of the rich was not always superior, as you seemed to be saying. Today this is the case. That's all.

    "I think it is about time we abandoned the platitudes about gluttony and sloth."

    Taubes and his followers may want to abandon the "platitudes of gluttony and sloth" but personally, I find find Taubes' message that less carbs, ergo more fat and downplaying the importance of exercise is dangerous. Many people will take it as licence to eat more and move less.

    "A man, given carbohydrates alone, however liberally, would starve to death on calories."

    Sorry Sir Ogilvie, I don't know anyone that lives on carbs alone. Exaggeration to make a point perhaps?

  32. Funderaren
    "I find find Taubes' message that less carbs, ergo more fat and downplaying the importance of exercise is dangerous. Many people will take it as licence to eat more and move less."

    Thats the beauty of LCHF, its not easy to eat more on LCHF. Also its something wrong with any diet that needs exercise to prevent people from over eating.

  33. FrankG
    "I find find Taubes' message that less carbs, ergo more fat and downplaying the importance of exercise is dangerous."

    And I suppose the message that fat is bad so "have a low-fat yoghurt" (with the fat replaced by refined starches and sugars) hasn't been dangerous? "Oh it's *good* for you... have another one!"

    As for "Taubes and his followers" that is bordering on a form of ad hominem which attacks the person rather than their evidence. I for one am not anyone's "follower" and I object to the implied insult... if anything it shows me how weak you must feel your position is to resort to such personal attacks.

    I also don't know anyone who only eat carbs and it clearly was written to emphasise the point. Fact is in 1958 there were respected Doctors accepted that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening.

    In terms of exercise you might refer to Dr Lustig's work with obese children who spontaneously became active as he managed to improve their metabolic state... I have experienced the same in my life.

  34. Robert
    @FrankG,

    "As for "Taubes and his followers" that is bordering on a form of ad hominem which attacks the person rather than their evidence. I for one am not anyone's "follower" and I object to the implied insult... "

    Oh please, stop with the drama! Aren't we being just a tad sensitive here. I simply meant "those who subscribe to Taubes' theories". Don't try and make this something it isn't.

    "And I suppose the message that fat is bad so "have a low-fat yoghurt" (with the fat replaced by refined starches and sugars) hasn't been dangerous? "Oh it's *good* for you... have another one!"

    I notice a common theme amongst LCers. They always tend to introduce the strawman argument regarding refined starches and sugar when clearly the discussion wasn't about junk carbs. I know very few people, including myself, that dispute the fact that refined starches and sugar are bad for us.

    @Funderaren,

    "Thats the beauty of LCHF, its not easy to eat more on LCHF. Also its something wrong with any diet that needs exercise to prevent people from over eating."

    The problem with your statement here is the assumption that only LCHF can curb appetite. High fibre, high carb can do the same for many people. I can eat a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal and feel satisfied for 5 hours or more. You think I'm in the minority? How about the other high carb eating societies? And please, we're talking about complex carbs here. I think the refined starches and sugar thing was covered and agreed upon long ago.

  35. FrankG
    Then perhaps you should say "those who subscribe to Taubes' theories" if that is what you meant... surely you can see how "followers" implies a mindless acolyte driven on by blind faith. Taubes is only one of many, many sources that I read... I apply critical thinking and make up my own mind. By the same token, slapping a label on others and calling them "LCers" is also dismissive and disrespectful. If you want a reasonable discussion, I suggest you treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.
  36. Funderaren
    Robert, for many people complex carbs doesnt work as good as fat. They have tested low fat diets before and it didnt work for them, when they eat LCHF, it works better for them. And frankly LCHF is delightful to eat. Something I couldnt say about low fat meals.

    One thing you miss is that different cultures have developed different food habits because of a reason. In Scandinavia we have a very harsh climate big portions of the year so for thousands of years we lived on meat and diary as our primary source of food. We never eaten carbs in the amount that the Asian people did. I dont think we can switch food habits in one generation.

  37. Robert
    @Funderaren,

    Oh yes, fat is delightful to eat. So is cheese cake for that matter. And yes, I agree that for some, LCHF does work at least in the short term. Most studies involving LC do include the caveat that more long-term studies are required due to the untested result of using LCHF over periods of 10, 20 or more years.

    I live in Canada so I know all about cold winters. Also, I'm quite aware that my "recent" ancestors ate meat, dairy, few fruits and vegetables. They had little choice. I'm referring to the ancient Irish and Welsh diets of roughly 8000 years ago. The ability to digest milk was one of those changes that occurred over a short span of time. Milk drinking can be traced back to central Europe about 7500 years ago. Do you not think the same could happen with high carb food sources?

    There is a good reason why we have amylase gene copies. Now, I understand that populations with a high-starch diet (Asians, Peruvians, etc.) tend to have more amylase gene copies than those with lower-starch diets but as with the milk-drinking example, do you not think this is changing as we speak? Perhaps that is one reason that I and others like me in North America don't get fat on such a diet?

    I would find it interesting, to study individuals of European descent here in the US and Canada to determine the number of amylase gene copies in people who a) fatten easily on carbs and b) those who remain slim.

  38. Robert
    @FrankG,

    Sorry Frank. Honestly, no disrespect intended.

  39. Funderaren
    "I would find it interesting, to study individuals of European descent here in the US and Canada to determine the number of amylase gene copies in people who a) fatten easily on carbs and b) those who remain slim."

    That would indeed be interesting. And yes I think people can adapt to eat more carbs, but I dont think we can control it. Things like that usually happens by accident. The lowfat wave during the eighties was not the answer.

  40. Robert
    @Funderaren,

    "The lowfat wave during the eighties was not the answer."

    Clearly, it failed in western populations.

  41. FrankG
    @Robert. No Worries... Thanks.

    Perhaps I am overly sensitive but I seem to constantly have to deal with being categorised as if I am part of an organization or quasi-religion based on a "belief system"... nothing could be further from the truth. I post as an individual and I try to discuss ideas with other individuals... I may or may not share similar viewpoints to them and I am OK with that. I try not to see an "Us" and a "Them".

    Much like religion there seem to be some individuals who hold that "unless you are with us, then you must be against us"... "you must either be all right or you are all wrong". With no middle ground or room for compromise. I don't subscribe to such a black and white World... I see many shades of grey :-)

  42. Re Robert tend to have more amylase gene copies than those with lower-starch diets but as with the milk-drinking example, do you not think this is changing as we speak?

    The UK BBC Radio 4 program The First 1000 Days: A Legacy for Life http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013q28r broadcast today and available for listening to again online made some interesting points about the fact that the egg from which you were born was created in your mothers body during the time your mother was in your grandmothers womb.
    It follows the nutritional/environmental conditions surrounding your grandmothers becoming pregnant. The egg that formed your body was created probably some 20+ yrs before you were born and is dependant for it's quality to the nutritional status of your mothers mother.
    The program also touched briefly on the quality of sperm as well.

    It's starts by discussing some Swedish research on the longevity of the grandchildren of people who suffered feast or Famine in Sweden around 100yrs ago. Haven't tracked it down yet though.

  43. Isn't the internet fantastic, Here's someone discussing that research.
    Sex-specific, male-line transgenerational responses in humans
    The longevity of the probands was influenced by the paternal grandparents access to food but only during the grandfathers' slow growth period (SGP: 8-10 years for girls, 9-12 years for boys).
    So what trouble lies ahead for the children and grandchildren that result from the current obese generation of kids?
  44. Margaretrc
    @Robert, "As far as the French are concerned I think you'll find the healthiest, longest-lived in France tend to live in the southern regions where they use less butter and more olive oil." That's not germane to my point, which was simply that the French diet tends to be high fat, yet healthy.
    "Let's not forget that the French also tend to walk and bicycle a lot more than we do." That may or may be true, but I don't think that is why we are fatter. I tend to agree with Taubes that the more extra weight one is carrying, the less inclined one is to move, and once that weight starts coming off, the tendency to move more follows naturally, both because you are burning your calories instead of storing them and because you have less of a weight to lug around. It makes sense metabolically and physically.
  45. Robert
    @Margaretrc, #94

    "That's not germane to my point, which was simply that the French diet tends to be high fat, yet healthy."

    Which French diet were you referring to? Yes, the French diet is high in fat but there are regional differences. All I did was point out that they tend to live longer in southern regions where olive oil is the primary fat. The further north you travel, the more saturated fat you find, i.e. butter, cream, more meat, less fish. Let’s not forget those baguettes made from refined white flour and those rich, sweet deserts. The southern diet is more like a Mediterranean diet. Actually, since the southern most regions border the Mediterranean, it is a Mediterranean diet!

    Again, the lifestyle in France is different from here in Canada and the USA. They tend to take longer to consume meals, the portion sizes are smaller there, they use their bicycles a lot more and then there is the wine. These are all factors that have to be considered. It would be intellectually dishonest as a researcher not to consider all these factors (and more). N’est-ce pas?

  46. Funderaren
    Would be fun to compare the Vitamin D levels of the people in south and north of france. I dont think butter or olive oil does much difference to someones health, but is mere a result of whats easier to produce.
  47. FrankG
    Which "Mediterranean diet" are *you* referring to? The Med has a long coastline with many and varied peoples and diets.

    It is intellectually dishonest to co-opt these terms and then toss them out in discussion as if they mean the same thing to everybody... they are vague, subjective, non-specific terms let's be honest OK?

    "Balanced" and "Moderate" are other examples except these carry the added punch of implying that: if you don't follow them then your diet must be "UN-balanced" or "IM-moderate"... sure let's discuss intellectual honesty. MY diet is balanced and moderate so far as I am concerned... but of course you may not see it the same way.

    BTW I love your impression of so many French folks riding bicycles... do you envisage them wearing berets, with a Gauloises sticking out the corner of their lips, maybe a string or two of oignons over the bikes handle-bars and baguettes sticking out of the basket? I wonder how many of them have a gym membership, or home-fitness equipment like the multi-billion dollar industry here in N. America?

  48. Robert
    @FrankG,

    "Which "Mediterranean diet" are *you* referring to? The Med has a long coastline with many and varied peoples and diets."

    Why the French Mediterranean diet of course! The subject was France, after all. Last time I counted, there were 22 countries that bordered the Mediterranean. I don’t consider it a single diet.

    "MY diet is balanced and moderate so far as I am concerned... but of course you may not see it the same way."

    What has that to do with the price of tea in China?

    "BTW I love your impression of so many French folks riding bicycles ..."

    Why thank you! Pity I couldn't send a sound byte of French accordion music or Maurice Chevalier singing. ;o)

    I guess the thought of Asians riding to work on their bikes amuses you as well? Regardless, they do it nevertheless. I somehow think the typical Frenchman isn't big on going to the gym. They don't seem to stress over this stuff as much as those of us in the colonies.

    Gotta run! I'm fresh out of baguettes ... à la boulangerie!

  49. Robert
    @Funderaren,

    I would expect the vitamin D levels to be higher in the south. It would be like comparing the vitamin D levels of Floridians to New Yorkers, to use an American analogy.

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