Kelly Frazier wrote the education materials for "Shrinkdown"
I recently shared with you an initiative that is taking place in my home state of South Carolina to help people lose weight and get healthy. It's called "Shrinkdown" and is sponsored by the local YMCA chapters. In fact, I decided to join this year to see what it was all about.
After the intial weigh-in and a check of the key health statistics a couple of weeks back, participants in the "Shrinkdown" program were given a "Healthy Living Guide" three-ring binder to bring with them to their weekly Friday weigh-ins. Additional materials have been distributed each week and will continue to for the remaining weeks in the program.
But imagine my horror today when I got my new materials and saw on page 3:21 a section entitled "Why Do I Need Carbohydrates?" What the heck is this crappy health information all about and why is it in a packet about "healthy living"?!
When I looked closer for the source of this page, I saw it was from a woman named Kelly Frazier from the Department of Health & Exercise Science at the nearby Furman University in Greenville, SC. She is a member of the American College for Sports Medicine (ACSM) and lectures regularly on diet, health, nutrition, and fitness.
I couldn't help but notice she has a link to more information about the "Vegetarian Lifestyle" on her web site. Hmmm, if she's being fair and balanced, then why not have a resource link to a site about the low-carb lifestyle, Ms. Frazier? You could easily link to blogs by Regina Wilshire, Dr. Michael Eades, and so many more I could go on for days listing.
Nevertheless, in her article about carbohydrates, Frazier wrote that they are absolutely necessary for "energy" and for the added nutrients your body needs to "stay healthy."
She quotes the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy Of Science which recommends a MINIMUM daily carb intake of 130 grams for what they describe as "proper brain function." According to their "Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids" published in September 2002, here's what they say about the percentage of macronutrients people should be eating:
"Adults should get 45 percent to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 20 percent to 35 percent from fat, and 10 to 35 percent from protein."
Even more disturbing to me was the fact that they actually RECOMMENDED the consumption of "added sugars" for people to consume. Here's what they wrote:
"Added sugars should comprise no more than 25 percent of total calories consumed. Added sugars are those incorporated into foods and beverages during production which usually provide insignificant amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other essential nutrients. Major sources include soft drinks, fruit drinks, pastries, candy, and other sweets."
Let me get this straight. This so-called health organization, which is being quoted by Frazier in the "Shrinkdown" materials, is actually recommending as much as 65 percent of daily caloric intake comes from carbohydrates, including the consumption of junk foods containing sugar and gobs of high fructose corn syrup? Seriously?!
Plus, let's talk about this business of "proper brain function" for a moment. We've seen in studies I have highlighted here at my blog that eating too many carbs which elevates your blood sugar levels can lead to Alzheimer's disease (which incidentally is greatly IMPROVED by a low-carb diet) and poor mental health. Further research is already underway in Scotland on the effect of low-carb on brain health.
But Frazier didn't stop there. She added that "carbohydrates are the preferred fuel of the brain" and that not eating carbs will result in "fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and decreased concentration and cognitive function." This all happens, according to this self-appointed health expert, because "the brain does not have enough fuel to function properly."
This is the kind of garbage nutritional science that is being let loose on all those unsuspecting participants looking to lose weight in the "Shrinkdown" program! UGH! Let's see if we can educate Ms. Frazier and others who believe this nonsense.
First of all, your body doesn't NEED carbs. That's just nonsense and is actually proven by the basic nutritional concept known as gluconeogenesis which I have even discussed in my podcast show recently.
This amazing biological process enables the body to make its own carbs from the protein it consumes. In other words, Ms. Frazier, YOU DON'T NEED CARBS FOR FUEL as you so erroneously claim. What you need to eat to fuel you body with is FAT (even eating the much-vilified saturated fat is VERY healthy for you!) despite the common myth you are simply perpetuating with your ridiculous essay on carbohydrates.
Regarding this business about not eating carbs causing all those symptoms you listed, you have GOT to be joking, right? I've blogged about this previously and I'm beginning to wonder if Ms. Frazier has some of the same retarded beliefs about livin' la vida low-carb as this other so-called health "expert" did!
Frazier turned her attention to the subject of whether carbs will make you fat and said flat out that they will not.
"Contrary to common misconception, carbohydrates are not fattening. Your body needs carbohydrates for energy throughout the day."
Yadda yadda yadda...we've been over this before. You don't NEED carbs. But catch this caveat she included in this paragraph where she backtracks just a bit.
"However, if you eat too many carbohydrates over several days then they can be stored as fat. Excess calories from fat, protein, and alcohol can also be stored as fat."
Wait a minute, wait a minute. Now this is getting REALLY good! :) Frazier says eating "too many" carbs will be stored as fat. What is the definition of "too many?" I think 100g is WAY too many carbs for someone to be eating in one day and yet Ms. Frazier says the minimum should be 130. Could it be deduced that eating 100g carbs daily COULD result in stored fat, hmmm? That would be "too many" in my book.
She tries to save face when she makes the comment about eating too many calories from other sources will also lead to weight gain, but none are as detrimental to your weight and health as carbohydrates. The volumes of science coming out about the damaging impact of carbs on various aspects of health is indeed mindboggling. Stick around my blog a while, Ms. Frazier, and you'll see what I mean!
Frazier then moved her attention squarely on livin' la vida low-carb and how it supposedly helps people lose weight. Here's what she wrote about it:
"Low-carbohydrate diets typically result in rapid weight loss during the first few weeks. Current research suggests that this intial weight loss is due to water loss...excess protein increases urination...which results in rapid water loss."
In a word, Ms. Frazier, WRONG-O! We've heard this exact same thing before from another "expert," but it doesn't add up. A real low-carb expert who worked with the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins in his clinical practice for decades has addressed the "water weight" controversy before--click here to read what Jackie Eberstein has to say. Plus, this study from Temple University last year should put this issue to rest for good.
On the subject of long-term low-carbing, Frazier said it "may result in weight loss," but that it will only happen because of the "restriction of calories, not the restriction of carbohydrates."
Again, the science doesn't support this, including a Canadian study from the early 1990s where twelve sets of male twins were overfed 1000 calories per day purposefully over an 84-day time frame. The researchers wanted to test the theory that it's all about the calories. They should have all gained 24 pounds each, but instead the weight gain varied from 9.5-29 pounds.
But even if livin' la vida low-carb resulted in eating less calories as Frazier so smugly reports, so freakin' what?! If you ask me, I'd rather have the natural calorie-reduction that comes from eating low-carb than having to painstakingly count each and every little calorie I put in my mouth. NO THANK YOU!
Yes, calories DO count, but thank the good Lord YOU don't have to count them on low-carb! :) Only a twisted mind would see eating low-carb for reducing calories as a BAD thing.
Finally, Frazier said low-carb is not for the long-term because it's too restrictive and difficult to maintain while not giving you the proper nutrition.
"A diet high in meat, eggs, and cheese is not balanced...A healthier weight-loss plan incorporate regular physical activity and smaller portions of healthy foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats."
Oh yippee, we get that favorite word of the dietary dunces--BALANCED! Guess what? Low-carb gives me all the balance I need for my health thank you very much! Ms. Frazier has fallen victim (by choice!) to the "meat, eggs, and cheese" myth about livin' la vida low-carb.
NEWSFLASH, Ms. Frazier: Low-carb living DOES incorporate exercise, vegetables, fruits, protein, and fats. You just described this incredible way of eating perfectly. Do yourself a favor, Ms. Frazier! READ THE BOOK! Any of the low-carb books would give you more education about this amazing lifestyle and you might just realize it's not as unhealthy as you think it is.
My concern is all those "Shrinkdown" participants who don't know any better and will take what Ms. Frazier has written in this literature at face value. What a crying shame!
You can e-mail Kelly Frazier about her screwy nutritional views at Kelly.Frazier@furman.edu.
1-21-07 UPDATE: Unfortunately, Kelly Frazier took great offense to my column in response to her materials written for the "Shrinkdown" program regarding carbohydrates. If you read the comments section of this post, then you will also see several interesting responses from Kelly's sisters, too. It's all very interesting, but none of it changes anything about the truth of what I wrote.
Here is Kelly's e-mail to me:
I must admit that I was very hurt when I read your blog. It caused me a great deal of pain and I couldn't understand why you would write these things. Then I found this post you wrote on your website:
"As anyone who is overweight or obese will tell you, being fat is quite a traumatic thing for many people because it brings on the intense ridicule and scorn of people who may or may not know just how hurtful they are being. The scars from these experiences can be very deep-rooted and cause very real pain to linger on for many years and many times drawing these people into serious depression, loneliness and even suicidal. It breaks my heart to see this happening in a society that is tolerant of virtually every group of people--EXCEPT THE OBESE!
Thankfully, God can reach down through this sea of pain and into the souls of people like this to begin the healing process from within these beautiful people so they can finally deal with their weight problem in earnest and restore the temple of the Holy Spirit, their bodies, to their proper weight and get their life back.
I honestly don't know how people who do not believe in God can deal with these kinds of struggles they face, such as being overweight and all that comes with that, without Him! Jesus Christ is the anchor of my life and I would literally be lost in this dying world and very likely would be obese today without God in my life! I wholeheartedly believe that to be true."
After reading that message, I knew that I had to respond to you. Jimmy, I am also a Christian. I try to carry myself with integrity and show the love of Jesus Christ to all kinds of people. I do not benefit financially from the South Carolina Shrinkdown program. I have prepared the materials on my own personal time over the past three years, sacrificing time from my family. I have spent all of these hours trying to help people, much like you do.
I started to cry when I read about the pain that you have experienced. I am so sorry that you have suffered so much. I realize now why you responded with such hostility and are so passionate about your way of life. My sister was obese growing up and also experienced those same feelings of depression, loneliness, and suicide. I spoke with a Shrinkdown participant last year who told me that she had prayed for God to take her life because she felt so hopeless. When she told me that, my heart broke.
I realize that we do not agree on the fundamentals of human physiology. I am sorry if you felt misled by the program. We definitely do not recommend a low-carbohydrate diet and have not marketed the program in that way.
I understand that low-carbohydrate diets can result in long-term weight loss. I understand that they can provide a solution to many people who struggle with weight loss. After reviewing the current literature and recommendations from worldwide nutrition authorities, however, our sponsors sincerely do not believe that low-carbohydrate diets are the healthiest way of life.
Jimmy, I wish you the best on your weight loss journey and your mission to help others. I apologize for my sisters clogging up your forum. As you can see, we have a very close family.
This was my response to Kelly's e-mail:
THANK YOU so much for your very kind comments in response to my blog post about your beliefs. Let me begin by saying that I definitely meant no harm to you personally in my column. If you and your sisters will go back and read it again closer, then you will see I only addressed the substance of your materials and did not "bash" you personally at any point.
I can appreciate the sacrifice you made to present those materials to the "Shrinkdown" program with no pay. But that doesn't give you the right to share information that is just not true. What about gluconeogenesis? What about the spikes in blood sugar that come from eating over 100g carbs daily? How about those concepts in your materials? There was no mention of them.
One of the biggest challenges I see in the United States today as it relates to helping people overcome their obesity is the inconsistent message they keep receiving from advocates of only one way to lose weight. While you acknowledge livin' la vida low-carb will work for weight loss over the long-term for some people (myself included), why can't we teach that alongside the low-fat, low-calorie, moderation diet that your sisters were preaching to me?
I apologize that you experienced pain from my column, but that was definitely not my intention. I am passionate about what I write about because I've weighed over 400 pounds and want people to know the truth. Won't you join me in the effort to promote not just your way, but many ways to weight loss? Isn't doing something, even if you believe it's not for you, better than having people remain obese? That's why I do what I do.
The overwhelming evidence that is coming out of the scientific community about just how healthy low-carb is for people is difficult to ignore. I am in the best shape of my entire life right now because of this amazing lifestyle that God has helped me stick with for three years now. I could very well have been dead right now if I chose to heed the warnings of people like yourself regarding low-carb.
When I interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish a few months ago, he said that low-carb and low fat advocates need to try to come to a consensus about what is healthy and stop the bickering. That's my point exactly, which is why I have to defend this way of eating whenever it is so blatantly challenged and ridiculed in any public forum.
We do want to help people not just with their physical needs, but also their spiritual ones because they are hurting. That breaks my heart to see people continue to wallow in their hurt and shame of being fat because I KNOW they can overcome it quite possibly through low-carb living. That's my only goal is to help those tens of thousands of people who visit my blog each and every month looking for hope and inspiration. And I plan to give it to them.
Again, I meant no harm to you or your family. I appreciate your willingness to share from your heart and hope you understand why I had to do what I did. God bless you and your family as you continue to shine for Jesus in all that you do. Take care and please don't hesistate to contact me anytime if you have any questions or concerns.
I don't think I exhibited any "hostility" at any point and was nothing but cordial to both Kelly and her sisters. Sometimes in my zest for challenging those who oppose this amazingly healthy low-carb life, my passion overflows and people mistake my authoritative style as being overly brash. I can't help it and don't plan to change. If we are going to make a difference, then truth needs to be spoken loud and clear.
THANK YOU, Kelly, for writing to me about this. I appreciate your words and hope that you understand why I was concerned about the materials you submitted to the "Shrinkdown" program. I encourage you to click on some of those links I provided to see exactly where I am coming from because it's not just my opinion. The facts are what they are and I lay them out there for everyone to see.
Like I said, what's the harm in promoting VARIOUS ways to getting healthy, hmmmm?