Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz encourages a high-carb breakfast
Have you heard about this silly study presented at The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California on Tuesday? I hear some real doozies every now and then when it comes to nutritional science as it relates to weight loss, but this one takes the proverbial cake for being one of the most bizarre, outrageous, and idiotic to come along in a while (but now let me tell you how I REALLY feel!).
This story was all over the news yesterday and it just about made me nauseous with all the fawning the media was giving it. Here are some researchers who claim to have found a way to overcome the problem with cravings on a diet which eventually leads to dieters regaining their weight. It's a big top-secret bit of nutritional advice that they've unleashed on the world. Wanna know what it is?
EAT A HUGE HIGH-CARB, HIGH-PROTEIN BREAKFAST and then EAT LOW-CALORIE AND LOW-CARB MEALS for the rest of the day. That's it! If you eat this "big breakfast," then you are guaranteed not just to lose weight, but keep the weight off long-term, according to the author of the study Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz from the Hospital de Clinicas, Caracas, Venzezuela.
I'm sorry, Dr. Jakubowicz, but with all due respect to your research my body does not need to be inundated with carbohydrates early in the day in order for me to feel satisfied and free from cravings the rest of the day. It can be argued that eating those carbs in the morning even with a high-protein intake will result in a spike in blood sugar leading to a quick mid-morning crash and hunger like you wouldn't believe. That's why I started livin' la vida low-carb so I wouldn't have to deal with that anymore.
Of course, if you are gonna consume a large amount of carbs, then it is better for it to be earlier in the day so you have time to burn them off as part of your daily activities. But this does not abdicate the body's natural response to them over the course of the day which can have health implications if this high-carb breakfast strategy is implemented long-term. This kinda sounds like a reverse Carbohydrate Addict's Diet if you ask me.
The study itself was conducted in conjunction with researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and Dr. Jakubowicz wanted to see what the long-term impact of satiety (the feeling of being "full") and cravings using a strict low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb diet and one that included the "big breakfast" on 94 obese inactive women.
Well, there's your first problem. A truly effective low-carb diet cannot be calorie-restricted or fat-limited. Fat is the fuel for your body when you remove the carbohydrates, so limiting your calories from this macronutrient while cutting your portions down to minimize your caloric intake is setting your diet up for disaster from the beginning. I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again: DON'T MIX LOW-FAT AND LOW-CARB TOGETHER! It will only lead to a miserable weight loss experience.
There were a total of 46 women place on the very low-carb diet with the following macronutrient and caloric breakdown:
Am I the only one to look at that minuscule amount of food and say EEEEK?! While the ratio of fat/protein/carbs is excellent coming it at around 79/14/7, the calories are way too low. I even added up the numbers and I only came up with 974 calories--over 100 calories less than the researchers claimed. If you multiply 78 X 9 calories for each gram of fat, that gives you 702 fat calories. Add that to the 51 X 4 calories each for the protein to give you a total of 204 protein calories and 17 X 4 calories each for the carbohydrate to give you a total of 68 carb calories. Adding up these three numbers, you only get 974. Do I need to tell you how deficient this is for a healthy low-carb diet? The percentages are fine, but the portions are inadequate.
Their breakfast was the smallest meal of the day at just 290 calories and they could use up to 7g of carbs in the form of bread, fruit, cereal and milk and only 12 grams of protein coming from meat and eggs, for example. The researchers were trying hard to keep this control group from having a "big breakfast" with too much protein. But let's call their bluff again on this one.
Who follows a low-carb lifestyle and has bread, fruit, cereal and milk for breakfast? Anyone? I've never heard of someone who is livin' la vida low-carb eating such foods because they are NOT permitted during Induction as this group was supposed to represent. I just did a YouTube video on what you can eat on Induction and it doesn't include any of those things. Instead, it's all about consuming healthy amounts of fat and protein to keep your hunger at bay to help you get through the day. That's what Dr. Atkins advocated, NOT this made-up version of low-carb these researchers put these people on.
Conversely, there were 48 women place on the "big-breakfast diet" with the following macronutrient breakdown:
The ratio of fat/protein/carbs is about evenly balanced coming it at around 36/31/33, which isn't exactly low-carb by any real stretch of the imagination. And once again the calories don't seem to add up only totaling 1174--66 calories less than what the researchers stated. If you multiply 46 X 9 calories for each gram of fat, that gives you 414 fat calories. Add that to the 93 X 4 calories each for the protein to give you a total of 372 protein calories and 97 X 4 calories each for the carbohydrate to give you a total of 388 carb calories. What's up with this screwy math?
Regardless, it's quite easy to see that the huge high-carb "big breakfast" meal at the beginning of the day for the dieters in this group greatly skews their macronutrient totals for the day making this an odd "low-carb" diet. They consumed a 610-calorie breakfast with 58 grams of carbohydrate, 47 grams of protein, and 22 grams of fat. Their lunch was 395 calories of another high-carb, low-fat meal (13/28/34) followed by supper being a 235-calorie meal that's very low-carb, high-fat (26/18/5). I can only imagine what the bodies of these poor women were thinking on this diet. WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!?!
So, what were the "results" of this suspicious eight-month study? Four months focused on weight loss followed by another four months of weight maintenance. The strict low-carb, low-calorie group lost an average of 28 pounds compared with the "big breakfask" group who only lost 23 pounds. Statistically, this is not a big difference, according to the researchers.
But the "ah hah" part of this study Dr. Jakubowicz wants people to remember about it is what happened at the end of the eight months--after four months of maintenance. The low-carb, low-calorie dieters regained an average of 18 pounds for a cumulative weight loss of 10 pounds--just 4.5 percent of their body weight. Meanwhile, the "big breakfast" group lost an additional 16.5 pounds for a total weight loss of 39.5 pounds--an amazing 21 percent of their body weight.
Dr. Jakubowicz reminds people that the women who had the "big breakfast" said they weren't as hungry before lunch and lacked the cravings for carbohydrates that the low-carb, low-calorie dieters did.
"Most weight loss studies have determined that a very low carbohydrate diet is not a good method to reduce weight," Dr. Jakubowicz concluded. "It exacerbates the craving for carbohydrates and slows metabolism. As a result, after a short period of weight loss, there is a quick return to obesity."
Oh really, Dr. Jakubowicz. Is that a fact? Livin' la vida low-carb makes carb cravings WORSE and slows down your metabolism?! WRONG!!! My experience has been that eating a truly low-carb diet (not one that starts off your day with cereal or bread!) keeps the cravings away and consuming plenty of fat and moderate protein as every good low-carb diet does will rev up your metabolism into a fat-burning machine while you enjoy delicious foods that will keep your energy level up all day.
The major flaw in this study was the restriction on calories it placed on the low-carb dieters in the control group. Have them get rid of the fruit, milk and bread for breakfast and let them eat all the eggs and sausage they need to satisfy their hunger. Then at lunch, have them eat a hamburger patty or two with some cheese on top and a little mayo with a side salad and Ranch dressing. For supper, let them cook up a nice fatty steak and serve a little steamed broccoli or cauliflower with butter on the side. Snacks in between those meals can include almonds, macadamia nuts, sugar-free chocolates, cheese sticks, pepperoni slices, and other snackable low-carb foods.
If your control group was allowed to truly eat a healthy low-carb lifestyle as outlined above, then they would have lost more than 28 pounds in four months and they most certainly would not have gained anything back. Speaking of that, how did they gain the weight back? Did they add back more calories in the form of carbs to go with the fat they were eating? Anyone with a brain knows that a high-fat, high-carb diet is unhealthy, so why should it be surprising they'd gain the weight back, hmmmmm? This just seems so suspicious to me and they're pointing the finger of blame at the diet itself.
Look, livin' la vida low-carb works when you work it. If you stop doing it, then you are no longer following a low-carb diet. Trying to pin the blame of weight gain on low-carb is like blaming President George Washington for getting us in the war in Iraq. The only person you can fault when you decide to stop low-carbing is YOU. Dr. Jakubowicz says only 5 percent of low-carb dieters are still at it two years later, but whose responsibility is that? The diet or the dieter? I don't think you can lay that one at the feet of livin' la vida low-carb. I know many people who have been eating this way for years and they've done just fine.
Dr. Jakubowicz also says that low-carb living does not address addictive eating impulses, but I could not disagree more. When you eat this way, you bring so much balance back into your health by getting off of those blood sugar swings that are causing insulin to spike inside of your body and setting off a whole string of health consequences. Yes, you can certainly lose weight eating carbs, but what is happening to your health? There are no guarantees you are putting yourself in a better position with weight loss on a low-fat diet.
So this "big breakfast" approach is supposed to be the "be-all, end-all" diet for people now, huh Dr. Jakubowicz. It's supposed to control my appetite and make me not crave sugary and starchy carbs, eh? And it's HEALTHIER than anything else out there because you get to eat more fruit on it. Wanna know what I think (you probably don't, but you're gonna get it anyway!)? I think you're just another low-fat diet lover trying your darndest to discredit and taint the healthy low-carb lifestyle under the guise of science.
People like you doing this kind of research are what's WRONG with medical studies today. Your bias could not be more evident if you tried. Why not actually read Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution or Protein Power and see what they doctors have written about low-carb living. It's MUCH different than what you stupid study would have people believe and yet somehow I don't think you really care. And that's the most regrettable part of this entire scenario.
6-19-08 UPDATE: The always entertaining and opinionated Dana Carpender weighed in on this "study" today with a column entitled "Oh, Fercryinoutloud! The "Big Breakfast" Study" where she echoes many of the same points I made. GET 'EM DANA!!! :)
6-22-08 UPDATE: My blog post about this study appeared in business journalist Dana Blankenhorn's latest column entitled "Have You Tried The IHOP Diet?"
6-22-08 UPDATE: I heard from the researcher's son Dr. Salomon Jakubowicz today who said the media distorted what her research was all about. Here's what he wrote:
Regarding my mother Daniela Jakubowicz's study she tried to make a low-carb diet including breakfast for both subjects and controls but the journalists increased the importance of the carbs during breakfast incorrectly calling it a "High-Carb And High-Protein Breakfast." She does know that protein's satiety power is bigger than carbs or fats. Your review is challenging although not very respectful for a health researcher.
Well, #1 I'm not a health researcher. I'm a guy who lost weight and got healthy on a truly low-carb diet. That notwithstanding, I think it is incumbent upon your mother to set the record straight since the headlines completely skew what her study intended. I have invited Dr. Salomon to ask his mother if she would like to appear on my podcast show to clear the air about how her study was misinterpreted. We'll see what she says. :)