If you want to lose weight, should you avoid fat or carbs? Recently a six-day long and artificial study was heralded by some as the final word on the topic (“avoid fat”). Even though much longer, bigger and more lifelike trials usually give the opposite result (“avoid carbs”).
Science journalist Gary Taubes has long championed the low-carb approach and obviously he does not agree that this six-day trial is the final word. Here’s his new opinion piece in The New York Times:
I wrote about the study two weeks ago, and basically bring up the same two main things – this study is very short and it ignores hunger. The participants were locked up and had no choice but to starve. In that situation any starvation diet will do.
If you’re not locked up you’d want a diet that reduces hunger so much that you do not even need to count calories (like low carb).
The thing that Taubes does not bring up is the real trick of the study. The low-carb group burned through their limited glycogen stores during the short study (that’s why they lost more weight). Once the glycogen is gone – after a few days – there’s no choice but to start burning even more fat. Quite a convenient time to stop the study, right?
It’s amusing that to finally “prove” that a low-fat diet works best for weight loss you have to…
- Lock people up so they can be starved,
- stop the trial after just six days, and…
- not care that they actually lost less weight.
If that’s your proof then consider me not so impressed.