Dietitian Leslie Beck says "low-carb craze could not be sustained"
This Globe And Mail story written by registered dietitian and nutrition consultant Leslie Beck underscores some of the year's biggest news in the field of nutrition. It should come as no surprise that she names the "crash of the low-carb diet" among her "highlights" of the year.
"Highlights," Ms. Beck? It's as if people like Beck are saying to themselves, "FINALLY, the low-carb fad is over and dead!" But I am still amazed that despite all of the hem-hawing that has been done this year in the media and among "experts" like this Beck lady, something rather peculiar has quietly happened underneath their noses.
According to the Opinion Dynamics Corp survey on low-carb, the number of people who are following a low-carb lifestyle to lose weight and restore their health INCREASED to its highest level ever at 15 percent in 2005! Besides my blog, have you heard about this information in any other media? Not likely because it shoots holes all through their premise that low-carb is a goner.
But if that many people are low-carbing, then how can they get away with the lie that low-carb is dead. I supposed Beck and her cohorts believe if they repeat a lie often enough that people may begin to believe it is true. Sadly, it seems much of the media and health experts are beginning to believe their own lie!
Beck continues the trend by her peers of bashing livin' la vida low-carb as if there is some badge of honor in doing so. She declares that it was a "bad year" for low-carb diets and is all too eager to tell us why.
"Concerned for their health and bored with bacon and eggs, bun-less burgers, and countless cheese sticks, dieters finally lost faith in the low-carb lifestyle," Beck smugly wrote.
Sayawhoahowawhat? "Concerned for their health?" "Bored?" "Lost faith in the low-carb lifestyle?" What planet is this lady living on? While the media has had a field day writing story after story about how low-carb is fading, dying or dead, tens of millions of Americans kept on their low-carb program, lost weight, and even maintained their weight loss with this incredible way of eating.
After losing 180 pounds on the Atkins diet in 2004, my goal in 2005 was to NOT gain the weight back. Mission accomplished. By continuing to eat a controlled-carb diet, I was able to not only maintain my weight loss, but also lose another 10 pounds this year. So many people are finding how easy this lifestyle change is to implement and are making it their permanent way to get thin and healthy and stay that way. My health has never been better in my entire life!
But Beck must not have been paying attention to success stories like mine in 2005 because she believes this year was the end of low-carb as we know it.
"This year was the demise of an era in which millions of North Americans adopted high-protein diets packed with meat and cheese and shunned breads, pasta, rice, fruit and milk in an effort to shed weight."
Isn't it obvious that these people don't have a clue in the world about what low-carb living is REALLY about? I don't shun bread. I eat lots of high-fiber breads with 3g carbs or less. And I don't give up pasta either thanks to the delicious alternative that Dreamfields pasta provide us low-carbers. I don't need rice, but could easily make some faux rice with chopped up cauliflower if I wanted to.
Fruits? I devour my fair share of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries dipped in whipped cream along with drizzled sugar-free chocolate. Oh yeah, that's what I call dieting, baby! As for milk, Hood makes an excellent low-carb milk that is the best on the market today (especially the chocolate milk! Mmmm!).
Is Beck really this ignorant or is she trying to perpetuate the continuous lie that is going around about livin' la vida low-carb? I would hope it is the former and not the latter, but there's really no telling. After all, she is a dietitian and you never know what THEY are thinking.
Naming the Atkins diet the "most popular low-carb regime" until 2004, Beck claims the "high in cholesterol-raising saturated fats" diet was replaced in popularity by Dr. Arthur Agatston's The South Beach Diet.
But how does Beck explain how The South Beach Diet book has been a bestseller and is still white hot heading into 2006? Isn't low-carb a goner? And what's this business about saturated fats, Ms. Beck? Haven't you heard that saturated fat can be good for you? The fat-phobia we are afflicted with in this country must end for the sake of the health of our citizens. Are you listening, Ms. Beck?
Claiming the number of people following a low-carb diet had "dramatically declined" by the end of 2004, Beck said so-called low-carb products stopped selling and the final nails in the coffin of low-carb were hammer shut when Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in August.
NEWSFLASH, Ms. Beck: There are more people on the low-carb lifestyle in 2005 than watch American Idol on television! Did you even know that? Probably not because it doesn't fit the template of your biased opinion against low-carb.
The reason low-carb products stopped selling is there was a very warranted consumer backlash against all the imposter low-carb products sabotaging people's attempts to lose weight the low-carb way. When hidden sugars and excessive amounts of carbohydrates were added to these "low-carb" foods, people rebelled against them which hurt the entire industry. But there are a number of EXCELLENT and genuine low-carb products still available that will help people on their low-carb lifestyle.
And if one more person points to the Atkins Nutritionals bankruptcy as PROOF that low-carb is dead, I think I'm gonna scream! LOL! Seriously, there's more to low-carb than the Atkins company people. Low-carb's gonna keep on tickin' regardless of what ONE COMPANY decides to do to remain viable as a business. People will keep losing weight by watching their carb intake and the strong spirit of low-carb will live on in those of us who have committed to this way of eating for the rest of our lives.
Low-carb saved my life and I will NOT stop shouting it from the rooftops what a miracle it has been to me. I am a changed man because I started livin' la vida low-carb and I will not allow anyone or anything to stand in my way of proclaiming what has happened to me. That's why I wrote a book about it and am traveling around the country telling my story.
"Like other fads, the low-carb craze could not be sustained. So far, there's no clear contender for the next weight-loss fad," Beck concluded.
Is low-carb REALLY a "fad" diet? If so, then SO BE IT! That fad diet just so happened to help me lose nearly 200 pounds, increase my "good" cholesterol, take me off of breathing medicine, lower my blood pressure, increase my stamina, take away the aches and pains of daily life, improve my quality of living, and make me the thin and vibrant man I was always destined to become.
Simply put, livin' la vida low-carb is not just a catchy slogan I use. Rather, it describes exactly what millions of us following a controlled-carb lifestyle would say one accord:
LOW-CARB IS NOT AS DEAD AS THEY SAID!
Why? Because we are STILL livin' la vida low-carb. Sorry, Ms. Beck. You lose, we win. And that's just the way we like it!
Wanna help educate a real live dietitian about how successful low-carb livin' has been for you and other? Then feel free to send Leslie Beck, RD an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm sure she'll just LOVE hearing from all my readers! Let her know just how wrong she is about low-carb. :)
12-29-2005 UPDATE: You're gonna enjoy this response to Ms. Beck from one of my regular readers:
Dear Ms. Beck,
I was quite disappointed and rather worried after reading your article in Globe and Mail. For example, in said article you write that "nutrition flip-flops are to be expected". Personally, I don't see why that would be necessary nor to be expected. Nutrition, they always taught me, is based on hard, scientifically proven facts, not on falsifiable theorems or, worse even, the perceived wisdom of the day unlike some well-known "standard" diets.
However, as a researcher in nutritional science, I was even more disturbed and worried by a number of rather remarkable "statistics" and "facts" you rather happily disclosed to the public. You see, another thing they taught me at school was that, especially in nutritional science, one must be very certain of ones facts before disseminating them - especially to the public, since the opinion of a professional will likely influence the dietary habits of hundreds of thousands and perhaps even millions of people. That's quite some moral responsibility.
I think I can safely state that it is hardly a secret anymore that in several (if not almost all) countries of this world we are currently observing an obesity and diabetic epidemic of gargantuan proportions. It is completely out of control - all of this, of course, are well-documented scientific facts.
As a professional, registered dietitian and nutritionist, I presume you are aware of current, state-of-the-art nutritional science, major obesity studies, research papers as well as clinical and scientific research data. You are, according to the slogan on your website "Your source for credible and relevant nutrition information". Hence, I think I can safely assume you are indeed aware of the aforementioned scientific information.
To the unsuspecting populace, struggling with their obesity and/or related diet-driven "modern" illnesses, that is without any doubt a confident and assuring "slogan". But to be honest with you, personally, I found the last statement casu quo the disclaimer on your website "Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change" sadly, I might add, considerably more to the point.
I will tell you why.
Although I am completely willing to believe that you do what you do with passion, and the best interests of your patients in mind, it is however my contention that you are actually doing them a serious disservice. Why? Because you provide them, intentionally or not, with misrepresentations, perceived facts, half-truths as well as outright incorrect and incomplete information. Exhibit number one: your aforementioned article.
If you are indeed aware of the vast body of the latest scientific papers, research and data, it is close to impossible that you actually believe what you are writing and advising. To begin with, your statistics are all wrong. For example, you mention, among more of such dramatic statements, the "crash of the low-carb diet" and "Like other fads, the low-carb craze could not be sustained."
I can assure you that low-carb is not "dead". Maybe the majority of its critics died, but that was hardly surprising given the fact that their dietary belief systems were not based on any science known to man. In fact, as we speak more Americans and people all over the world are following a low-carb diet, with great success I might add, than ever before. Low-carb
magazines and internet blog sites are abundant and successful. You should not believe the media too quickly. After all, they have no interest in the truth, just in news. Any news, preferably bad news - because it sells better. Just like dietary nonsense sells better than nutritional science, and high-carb junk food sells better than proper, natural, wholesome foods.
So, based on many years of research in this field, as well as literal mountains of clinical and scientific evidence in nutritional research, I beg to differ. First, the low-carb dietary regimen is not a fad but, instead, based on rock-solid nutritional science. Proven, hard scientific facts, you as a professional should know that, especially since you so confidently assure the public of that knowledge in bold headlines. Secondly, significant and lasting successes have been observed in major obesities studies with controlled carbohydrate, low-carbohydrate and zero-carb diets. Hundreds of peer-reviewed, mainstream studies conclusively prove the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of low-carb diets. Hence, to call it a "fad" is hardly scientific and certainly not unbiased, "credible and relevant nutrition information"; nor is it healthy dietary advice.
All of this in marked contrast to many other diets that indeed have been shown to be based on fallacies. One of those fallacies is the low-fat diet you so happily defend, or the low-sodium diet, or the low-cholesterol diet, or the low-calorie diet, and many other varieties of such myths. Since you assure us to be THE Credible Source Of Absolute Dietary Truths, you must be aware of the fact that not controlled carbohydrate diets, but instead the low-fat/low-calorie diets are under serious scientific scrutiny at the moment. And for quite a few very good reasons indeed. In fact, many researchers and world-class scientists are now openly stating the obvious: the Food Pyramid is completely wrong, even after the latest long-overdue
"upgrade", and the evidence that it is exactly the opposite of what the obese need is overwhelming.
Why else would the office of the Surgeon General not be able to even conceptualize (let alone publish) the definitive report on the advantages of a low-fat diet, after 13 years (!) of promising it? Even after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on trials by this organization alone they are not able to write the definitive, scientific report on the very fats they have demonized for five decades. In fact they silently and secretly killed the entire project. Why? Because after "only" 11 years of promises it dawned on them that the science of the fat metabolism is a "little more" complicated than the simplistic, almost insulting stories the public is told. You know, the old, tried-and-true message: "eat less fat and more pasta, and exercise more". Sounds familiar, right? It should, because the low-fat phobists have been repeating that sacrosanct mantra for decades to everybody. One diet fits all. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Fat is evil, avoid the greasy killer like the plague.
While the opposite is true, of course. Not fat, but the consumption of refined carbohydrates from sugar, starches, flour and corn syrups are the real culprit of the current obesity and diabetic epidemic. And, incidentally, the root cause for many -if not most- "modern" illnesses.
I wonder why else a world class researcher like Jeppeson writes: "Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets [15% protein, 60% carbohydrate, 25% fat] increase the risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women." [J Jeppeson, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 65: 1027-33] if that low-fat diet is so healthy for everybody? And especially touted to "prevent cancers"?
Another random but nicely related example from the vast body of research evidence: A low-fat/high carbohydrate diet has been shown, for over 30 years, to significantly reduce and impair the phagocytosis activity, in other words the ability of these specific white blood cells to fight and mop up any bacteria or foreign bodies. Any person who eats largely
carbohydrate-based meals, particularly those containing sugars, starches, and snacks with small carbohydrate-based meals spread throughout the day - as the latest Food Pyramid advice suggests we should - could lose up to half [sic!] their immunity to disease for much of the waking day. No wonder cancers and infectious diseases are increasing...
Latest research from Sweden, for example, shows that starchy carbohydrates found in staple foods such as bread, cereals, potatoes and (over)processed white rice transform into acrylamide when heated up. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies acrylamide, a colorless, crystalline solid, as a medium hazard probable human carcinogen. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide induces gene mutations and has been found in animal tests to cause both benign and malignant stomach tumors. It is also known to cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous system. No wonder several researchers are already speaking of enormous global consequences for food production and consumption. One (real) expert in nutrition wrote:
"There is no doubt that although fats are blamed for most diseases today, there is much compelling evidence that carbohydrates are the real culprits. Whether this latest research from Sweden is confirmed or not, the fact that simple carbohydrates (sugars) and non-starch polysaccharides (fibre) have both been shown to be harmful in terms of increased cancer risk; and that ALL carbohydrates, including starches, have been shown to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, is already sufficient reason to eat foods such as bread, pasta and starchy vegetables with care"
... and preferably not consume them at all, I might add.
But as a professional you should know all this. Without a doubt, then, you also are aware that these are just a few examples from a literal mountain of peer-reviewed, major scientific studies. There are thousands more, some with even more grave findings and consequences.
Now let us have a look on the favorite diet of most of our wonderful "health" experts: the low-fat, low-calorie or very low calorie (VLCD) diets. Low fat, of course, because dietitians believe that fat packs more calories than carbs. While this tiny bit of data is true, it is certainly not true in how the human metabolism works with fat or carbs. Many dietitians also believe that all fats are bad for you - another total travesty. The human body needs fats, proteins and salts in rather amazing quantities to remain efficient and healthy. There are essential fats and proteins, but there is no such thing as essential carbohydrates in nutritional science.
But you already know that...
On the most interesting topic of fat metabolism the authoritative United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare writes:
"On a high-fat diet, 4703 to 8471 excess calories were required for each kilogram of added weight [sic]. On a low fat VLCD [very low calorie diet], replacing fat calories with 8g/day of equivalent carbohydrate calories reduced weight loss by 1.68kg, corresponding to 3300 calories of carbohydrate/kilogram, possibly 2500 calories per kilogram for carbohydrate alone."
In case this is not abundantly clear, let me explain it to you. What they say here is that it takes 4,700 to 8,470 excess calories from fat to add a kilogram of weight, yet it takes only 2,500 to 3,300 calories from carbohydrate to add the same amount of weight. Therefore, the "Golden Rule of Orthodoxy" that says "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" is not so meaningful after all: a carbohydrate calorie is obviously much more fattening than a fat calorie. So obviously some calories don't count half as
much as others.
In other words: the Calorie Theory as a scientific standard to heat a fixed, precisely determined quantity of water by 1 degree centigrade under controlled circumstances may be a proven fact, but the Calorie Theory as applied to nutritional science is absurd and a total fallacy - as the above scientific evidence proves. Hence, calorie-restricted diets, and portion control, are metabolically impossible. They even induce and necessitate recursive reduction of caloric intake, due to the natural regulatory metabolic mechanisms of the human body - which makes it even outright dangerous. Again, you as a professional should know that.
So far, the only "nutrition flip-flops" I see here are not exactly in favor of the low-fat theorem, or the low-calorie theorem for that matter.
As to the mechanism of weight gain, it is a well-established scientific fact that there is only one way to gain weight. I think I have already conclusively shown you that the calorie theory as applied to nutritional science is absurd, and thus not applicable for regulating body weight in any meaningful, let alone healthy, manner. So what is the mechanism then?
The facts are that a so-called low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet (the "healthy" diet) increases body weight. Carbs are the only nutrients that increase body weight. I know this is heresy to the "healthy eating" dictocrats, but it is demonstrably true: Carbohydrates – it doesn't matter whether these are in sugar, jam, bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, fruit or vegetables – are all
exactly the same as far as the body is concerned: they are all ultimately converted to the blood sugar called glucose. In contrast to previous dietary myths, all carbohydrates are digested very quickly – within a few minutes. This means that within a very short time after a carb-rich "healthy" meal is consumed, for example the official ADA "Preferred Food" cup of pasta, the level of serum glucose will rise rapidly. Consuming fat does not raise serum glucose, and protein has been shown to have minimal impact too. It has been known to science for many decades that high blood glucose levels are extremely dangerous and, as levels of glucose rise rapidly in the bloodstream, the pancreas rapidly produces a large amount of insulin to take
the excess glucose out. Note that just as eating fat or protein does not raise blood glucose, it doesn't raise insulin levels either. This is an important point as insulin is the hormone ultimately responsible for body fat storage. And as fats do not elicit an insulin response, they cannot be stored as body fat. In other words: Those who tell you that eating fat makes
you fat, just don't understand how the body works.
Insulin takes the glucose out of the bloodstream. It is converted first into a form of starch called glycogen which is stored in the liver and in muscles. But as the body can store only a limited amount of glycogen in this way, all other excess glucose is stored as body fat. This is the process of putting on weight.
Anybody who tells it differently, does not understand the human metabolism or nutritional science, or doesn't understand both. In other words: there is no other mechanism known to science that causes weight gain than consumption of carbohydrates. Calories simply don't count within this process. It is also proven (as shown above) that calories from carbohydrate count twice to three times as much as calories from fat - even though fat contains more calories. The reason is, of course, that the human body doesn't react as simplistic as a bomb-type calorimeter. It is far more sophisticated and
And this is only part of the story. Because LOSING the weight can only be done by two mechanisms:
a) Starve oneself (so called "healthy" low-cal starvation diets or fasting);
b) Reduce starches and sugars from which glucose is made and make the body use the preferred fuel: fat.
There is no other metabolical pathway.
As you know, in the presence of dietary carbohydrate, the preferred fuel is glucose and the capacity to mobilize fat is severely limited. Factors that increase blood glucose during dieting may stimulate insulin release and all the metabolic sequelae of circulating insulin. Fatty acid synthesis is activated and lipolysis is profoundly inhibited by insulin even at very low concentrations of the hormone. Insulin inhibits the production of hormone sensitive lipase, the fat-burning enzyme, thereby completely preventing the body's fat cells from releasing their fat and energy. This effectively stops the body from burning the stored fat and makes it almost completely impossible for the obese to lose the weight they have put on as a proven result of their "healthy" diet.
These hard, well-established scientific facts are the real reason why obese persons can gain weight on a 1000 calorie low-fat starvation diet and lose significant amounts of weight on a 2500 calorie high-fat diet, as is so often observed in several obesity studies.
And hence, these same facts are also the real reason for the rampant obesity and diabetic epidemic we see everywhere today. This indisputable scientific fact, the very basis of the metabolism of the human body, is completely and utterly ignored. And that is the root cause for the total failure of low-fat dieting, and also the exact reason why low-fat/high-carbohydrate diets will never work as intended. Whilst it may be relatively easy to fool the unsuspecting public, one cannot fool Mother Nature. Not to mention the grave dangers these diets pose - and not only in terms of the sad results: morbidly obese persons with severe signs of malnutrition, but certainly also in terms of health.
So what are the real fad diets here, I ask you?
a) The diets that are abundantly scientifically and clinically proven to be completely based on nutritional science and the conclusively proven inner workings of the human metabolism, like controlled-carbohydrate diets;
b) The diets that are only touted by self-appointed health "experts" in populist periodicals and degenerated government bureaucrats, and have been dismissed by nutritional science as total impossibilities and even dangerous, like the low-fat fallacy, or perhaps the low-calorie lie, or maybe even the low-sodium and/or low-cholesterol nonsense?
I am sure you already know the answer.
For the sake of your patients and the countless millions of already failed, desperate, obese, and illness ridden low-fat dieters, I urge you to read the scientific literature before making any further dietary recommendations. I would personally ask them something different first, however. Not "how much do you eat" but "WHAT do you eat" or perhaps even, oh evil of evils, "do you consume enough fats?"
I realize that to you this may sound like total heretical doctrine, but just remember that one, single sentence, ANY scientist or ANY nutritional researcher can explain (and conclusively prove) to you:
"Consuming dietary fat does NOT make a person fat. Consuming ANY carbohydrate does. Therefore, select and consume your carbohydrates wisely".
That's essentially the message of those demonized low-carb diets. Now do you consider that bad advice, considering the scientific facts? Something to stay away from at all costs? A fad?
Once again, I am sure you already know the answer.
So please adjust your views to the facts instead of adjusting the facts to your views, like the AHA or ADA or all those other wonderful organizations so happily and so often do. It's simply not scientific, and certainly not befitting a "source for credible and relevant nutrition information".
Need I say more?! :)