Thursday, May 19, 2005

'Dietitian's Diet' Dead Wrong About Low-Carb

Have you seen the latest book out there in the ever-growing business of berating the Atkins approach and declaring an end to the low-carb lifestyle movement? It's called The Dietitian's Diet: Beyond Low Carbohydrate by a man named Todd Phillips, R.D. (self-proclaimed to be "The Dietitian" - I guess he thinks he's his own god or something!).

Phillips is portraying himself as yet another one of the so-called experts in this debate over obesity and health in the United States. While his background includes some education and various experiences in nutrition, it is not clearly apparent that Phillips has made any significant revelations on the study and research of health and weight issues. But all of that has changed now with the release of his new book and he's hoping the public will buy into what he has to say.

Singling out the low-carb lifestyle above every other weight loss plan, Phillips questions why people have been falling for it and other similar weight loss programs because he believes they are merely a "gimmick" to bilk Americans out of billions of dollars while the obesity epidemic continues to get worse. Phillips adds that people who are watching their carbohydrate intake by using the new glycemic index are only fooling themselves with a "fad diet" that has already existed for many years and, according to him, has not worked.

"I really hope that most people do not fall for this fad diet gimmick. The glycemic index has been around for years," Phillips wrote. "I can explain exactly why the use of it for weight loss or any other practical reason makes no sense."

While Phillips infers that the rise in obesity numbers is due to the failure of the low-carb approach, actually just the opposite is true. It is the extremely disappointing failure of low-fat/low-calorie diets that have made the waistlines of so many Americans continue to expand and their health get progressively worse. Blaming low-carb and calling it a "gimmick" or "fad" when it has been a lifesaver for so many people who have finnally overcome their struggle with weight loss is both shortsighted and narrow-minded, especially for someone such as Phillips who claims to be an authority on the subject of nutrition and health.

Phillips said he has become increasingly concerned with the effect that various types of carbohydrates will have on people's blood sugar because the glycemic index is only an estimate and not an exact science.

"Fiber, protein and fat can all change the absorption rate of carbohydrate containing foods," Phillips stated. "Since most people eat meals and not single foods, the glycemic index has very little relevance."

When you are livin' la vida low-carb, you get lots of fiber, protein and fat as part of your daily intake, with very little sugar or carbohydrates of any kind. If you are following a low-carb approach correctly, then your blood sugar will not be affected by the changes in the carb absorption rate because there won't be enough carbs in your system to have that great an impact. The GI is not irrelevant because it is still a great way to keep track of your carbohydrate intake so you can continue to stay in ketosis during weight loss and maintenance.

"The fact that some carbohydrate containing foods do cause faster and larger spikes in blood sugar levels has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss," he added.

If Phillips would have conducted better research before writing a book about a subject he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about, then he would have known that sugar is prohibited on any low-carb program in addition to any other kinds of carbohydrates that can be converted into sugar and cause blood sugar levels to go up. To declare that overconsuming sugar and other such carbs "has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss" is extremely bad advice to follow. I believe sugar has more to do with the high obesity rates in this country than advocates of low-fat diets want to admit since so many of their products contain loads and loads of it!

"What really matters is the calorie and nutrient density of each food," Phillips concluded in his book, suggesting people pay attention to food density instead.

What is Phillips advocating instead of the low-carb lifestyle as a means for losing weight? You guessed it -- the same old failed portion-controlled, low-fat/low-calorie approach we have heard over and over and over again for the past three decades! He calls this "a much more intelligent method for losing weight." If eating that way makes you smart, then I want to be the dumbest person on the planet! I've tried that plan and it just didn't work for me. Livin' la vida low-carb has been so much better as a safe, effective alternative way to eat.

I can testify personally to this because low-carb has helped me lose 180 pounds and keep it off for good! I don't worry about calories, fat grams, portion sizes or even the density of my food as Phillips suggests. Instead, I eat delicious-tasting and satifying foods that are good and healthy for me regardless of how loudly low-fat apologists kick and scream to the contrary!

Phillips says his secret method for weight loss and health will cause a person to be "more likely to build upon a lifestyle of good nutrition" and "will not only lead to a more ideal body weight but also a healthier body."

Oh, please. Give me a break! All this approach to weight loss will do is further frustrate you because you will be in constant hunger desiring the low-carbohydrate foods that your body needs to provide you with the energy, nutrition and weight maintenance that you have desperately sought your entire life. I know because that's exactly what low-carb has done for me.

"With the food density approach, there is no food or food group that is off limits," he says, adding that lifestyle development, not the elimination of certain foods, is what leads to permanent weight loss.

Actually, I vehemently disagree that no food or food group is off limits. Sugar and white flour must be eliminated from your diet so you can consume those good carbohydrates your body needs. Low-carb is a very real lifestyle change that has been used successfully by millions to permanently lose the weight that has plagued them their entire lives. I've never been more healthy in my 33 years on this earth than I am right now thanks to low-carb. Describing my low-carb lifestyle as anything other than a sound, healthy approach to eating is just plain dishonest.

I guess you could conclude "The Dietitian's Diet" is just another not-so-veiled attempt by low-fat supporters to try and discourage people from doing low-carb, despite how effective it has been for so many. I'm glad we've exposed yet another book as worthless junk science, but there will be others coming that will continue to trash low-carb!

Don't let these books discourage you because all of these authors know that low-carb has worked very well for people desiring to lose weight. Furthermore, they almost have to oppose the low-carb lifestyle because it goes against everything they've ever learned and told their patients about nutrition.

Nice try, Phillips, but nobody's gonna buy into your propaganda.

05/19/2005 UPDATE: Well, look who decided to respond to my review?


This is Todd Phillips author of The Dietitian's Diet. I appreciate your opinion and comments. It looks like you spent some time to think about them. I just want you to know where I am coming from. When I set down to write the book I started with an open format and weighed in on all of my education and experience as a registered dietitian. By the way, it was a long six years of education and internship in order to meet the requirements to take the test to become a registered dietitian. They do't just hand these things out. When I started out to write the book, I did not know what I was going to advocate. However, I did my research on diet stats and talked to many doctors. One doctor in particular made an impression on me that I never will forget. You see, I do know people who have lost weight on low-carb, but at what price. This particular doctor told me that he can spot a person who has been low-carb dieting the very minute that they walk into his office. He can spot them from the dark circles under their eyes. He went on to tell me that when he does a cat-scan on these people he always sees one thing that really troubles him, fatty livers. This is not a very healthy situation. Just last month I witnesses a man die in the ICU ward at the hospital that I work at. He was only 47 years old and low-carbed it all the way to the grave. He started out with heart failure and soon went into multiple organ failure. Not a good way to go.

If you read the book closer, you will see that I am neither advocating a low carb nor a low fat diet approach. I am advocating a lifestyle approach to good health. Neither a low carb nor a low fat approach, when taken too extreme, is good for anyone's overall health. I advocate moderation, variety, and lifestyle improvement: the common-sense approach.

Once again, I appreciate your heart-felt comments and your interest in the subject. I hope that you will read the book a little bit closer and try to see the overall approach. In the mean time you may want to consider a visit to your doctor for a health check up. That is if you have been low-carb dieting.


Todd Phillips, R.D.

How much more arrogant can this guy get? That snide comment at the end about getting a health check-up proves my point even more. This guy is nothing more than another mouthpiece attacking the low-carb lifestyle as unsafe and dangerous. While he mentions several hearsay stories meant to shock people away from doing a low-carb lifestyle, I'm just not buying into it. My health has been the best it has ever been in my entire life and my doctor has even commented on that fact. What do you have to say about that, Mr. Dietitian?! Send Todd Phillips an e-mail letting him know what you think of his disdain for low-carb!


Blogger LCandrea said...


You might want to review the following article which I found informative:

Note especially that "Based on empirical evidence, diets associated with improvement include those restricted in rapidly absorbed carbohydrates, those with a high protein-to-calorie ratio, and those based on starvation."

This does not neccessarily mean a traditional "low-carb" diet, but certainly doesn't suggest a link between high protein/ low carb and fatty liver. Again, note that CONSUMING fat has no known relation to fatty liver, whereas obesity and hyperlipidema are factors.

Since most people who try low-carb diets have been or are obese, and many will have abnormal lipids, it's impossible to really know what caused the liver issues with the individual mentioned by Mr. Phillips.

On the other hand, very fast weight loss IS associated with the condition, and as we know, that indeed is something to contend with on low carb diets.

Regarding the "dark circles" comment, that certainly describes me, but has for many more years than I've been low-carbing.

Just a few thoughts. I think critically important to keep an open scientific/medical dialog (as much as possible considering I'm a layperson) with the experts.

5/19/2005 4:22 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your advice, Andrea. I guess what frustrates me so much is how these experts in the medical community walk around like they have the final word on what is healthy and what is not.

When there are nutritionists who make arguments both for and against a low-carb lifestyle, how are you supposed to know who is right? For me, I prefer to ignore hyperbolic statements from the experts unless they can show long-term documented research to back up their claims.

Second-hand anectodal stories like the one Phillips used don't cut if for me. Again, THANK YOU for your comments. Welcome to Livin' La Vida Low-Carb!

5/19/2005 5:39 PM  
Blogger jenni said...

I, too, have the dark circles below my eyes (frequently), but as any one with any medical training would know, they have nothing to do with low carb. They are commonly known as allergic shiners, and are a side effect of food intolerances.
And yes I have heard of a man on a low carb diet dying of a heart attack, he had only been doing low carb for three weeks, unfortunately not long enough to undo the damage of all those years of high carb.
I do not deny that it takes along time to become a dietician, unfortunately, however the things that dieticians are taught during these long years of training is antiquated. Most of it has since been PROVEN wrong by many scientific studies. I am not talking about studies made by low carb advocates either. I am talking about universities, hospitals and other respected scientific institutions such as Australia's CSIRO. The CSIRO (an indepedent government funded organisation) tried it's hardest to prove that low carb was ineffective or dangerous, but only managed to prove how healthy it really is. They were so impressed that 2 of the scientists who researched it have now released a book on low carb.
I am sorry to inform you, Todd Phillips, I will not be buying your book. I prefer to stick with what I know is healthy and effective.

9/14/2005 7:56 AM  

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