Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A High-Carb, Protein-Packed Breakfast For Weight Loss? Not In This Lifetime!

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. :)

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Blogger Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

I just saw this headline a bit ago and couldn't believe what I was reading. Following this advice would have me binging by Noon. No thanks.. I'll just stick to what I'm doing.

6/18/2008 9:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Bunnell (TB)--TB said...

The carbohydrate addicts will quite naturally lead us there way(carbohydrate addiction) without ever knowing that they are justifying and reinforcing there own addiction and perpetuating us to do the same!

6/19/2008 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I generally agree that some of the articles you post are a bit bogus, I find that you are ever increasingly hostile towards anything non low carbohydrate. I know you are a very strong advocate for the low carbohydrate lifestyle, it has changed your life and you make a living from it. However, not everyone has the will power or the drive to make such a lifestyle change.

A calorie restricted diet is not evil, it won't hunt you down and kill you. A lot of doctors and health professionals choose for their patients to restrict their calories because they can eat the foods they love. If you take a person who has never been on a low carbohydrate diet and suddenly expect them to eat nothing but induction food for two weeks or longer, a high percent of them will fail. Even if they can later add in fruits and nuts and the like, it may be too much of a severe restriction. It may very well be that your health will vastly improve, but it does happen on a restricted calorie diet also.

I respect the work you do, and I respect your opinions, but I do not agree that you should be bashing everyone else in the process. If you had lost your weight on a restricted calorie diet, improved your health, and maintained your weight, would you not promote that and disagree with everyone else?

Jimmy, I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your lifestyle, honestly. I am not wanting to cause arguments or hard feelings. I just think that a carbohydrate restrictive diet is not a magic cure nor is a calorie restrictive diet. Some will have success on one and not the other, neither is for everyone. I would just like to see a little less hostility towards other peoples choices and beliefs. I respect yours, please respect mine.

6/19/2008 9:36 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

You are just mad because you have been busted. Your diet is impossible to follow. Jakubowicz seems to be a serious Doctor, unlike you. I'll try her method and let you know.

6/19/2008 10:27 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANK YOU for openly expressing your concerns, anonymous. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows I have often hit hard on ridiculous studies like this one because they are simply continuing to push the message that low-carb is unhealthy while propping up a low-fat diet as the preferred way. This is not something new and you can see examples of where I've come down on the low-fat/low-calorie lie many times in the past:

MAY 2005: "Low-Calorie Advocate Fails In His Attempt To Discredit Low-Carb"
JUNE 2005: "Why Low-Fat, Low-Calorie Diets Fail And Low-Carb Succeeds
DECEMBER 2005: "Low-Fat: Been There, Done That, Made Me Fat"
JANUARY 2006: "Study: Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet Results In Negligible Weight Loss"
FEBRUARY 2006: "8-Year Study Exposes The Low-Fat Lie"
NOVEMBER 2006: "The Worst Argument Ever Against Low-Carb"
MAY 2007: "Study: High-Carb, Low-Fat Diet Ineffective For People With High Insulin Levels"
JULY 2007: "High School Science Teacher Gets All Snobby With me Over Low-Carb Support Columns"

These are but a few examples of how my general writing style has not changed very much as it relates to challenging the low-fat diet wisdom. If anything, I've toned it down somewhat from those earlier columns.

With that said, most people who read my writings know that I am all in favor of people finding the proven plan that works for them to lose weight, following that plan exactly as the author prescribes, and then KEEP doing that plan for the rest of their lives. If that's a low-fat and/or low-calorie diet, then who am I to stand in their way and tell them NOT to do it. There are certainly a dime a dozen support sites out there for those particular ways of eating that people can visit.

But when someone comes to the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog, I want them to be encouraged, educated, and inspired about the healthy low-carb lifestyle. Yes, this way of eating worked remarkably well for me to help shed the pounds and greatly improve my health, so I can't help but share the positive experiences and research about it. It's precisely why I started this blog to begin with.

With all the constant negativity out there about livin' la vida low-carb as exemplified in studies like this one, we need MORE people to get fired up and responding to these kinds of things. There are no checks and balances on these people who espouse low-calorie, low-fat diets. They just write assuming ahead of time that low-carb is bunk. But I know better than that because of what has happened to me and to many moore people.

Trust me, if you need to hear from more low-carb success stories, I'm sure they are all too happy to fill up this comments section with their testimony of change.

I'm curious, though. What articles have I posted that you think are "a bit bogus." Everything I write about is researched and accurate to the best of my knowledge. If you think I've made something up (ergo, the use of the term "bogus"), then I'm all ears. Don't throw something out there like that without providing examples.

And don't misunderstand my passion for wanting to get the word out about healthy low-carb living and think that means I am "hostile." Enthusiastic, maybe, but there is no hostility in my blood. I care about people enough to tell them the truth about what is healthy.

While you believe someone can only accomplish success on low-carb if they have some miraculous willpower or drive, the reality is it takes neither of those to be successful. All you need is a steadfast resolve to make better choices for the sake of your weight and health. When people start caring enough about themselves to reduce their carbohydrate intake to control blood sugar and insulin, eat some protein at each meal for satiety, and consume plenty of fat to burn as fuel and to keep their diet delicious and healthy, then we will see some pretty major changes happening with obesity and disease.

As it currently stands, the low-fat, low-calorie, portion-controlled diet has been given DECADES to rule the nutritional roost. And what has it gotten us? MORE obesity, MORE diabetes, MORE sickness, and MORE death. We're taking more prescription drugs now than ever before and nobody is disgusted by this.

This isn't me "bashing" anyone, it's just presenting the truth. Isn't it true obesity rates have gotten MUCH worse since the great low-fat, low-calorie diet began being promoted in this country in the early 1970s? And diabetes, especially Type 2, has exploded into a literal crisis of health over that same time period, hasn't it? Who is gonna argue that we are healthier as a nation today than we were 30 years ago? Anyone?!

By the way, I DID lose a whole lot of weight on a low-fat diet in 1999 and I was miserable on it. Hungry all the time, weak with barely any energy, dizzy and nauseous, and downright MISERABLE! Although I lost 170 pounds in nine months eating that way, I gained it all back within four months when I couldn't take it anymore.

With livin' la vida low-carb, that impulse to rebel against how I eat has NEVER even remotely crossed my mind. I am more satisfied now with how I eat than I even was when I was eating whatever I desired. Now I desire those low-carb foods my body was always meant to eat.

There are no hard feelings from me. Life is too short to be upset at anyone, let alone someone who was brave enough to share their thoughts and concerns with me (albeit anonymously). I can appreciate your perspective and am grateful you respect mine. Nobody is saying livin' la vida low-carb is a "magic cure," but it sure is dramatically changing the weight and health of a whole lot more people than we are being told about.

If low-calorie diets are working for you, then GO FOR IT! Keep working your plan and it will keep working for you. Get involved at a low-calorie supporting web site, forum, or blog and get all the inspiration you need for your chosen dietary approach. But this is "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" and I will keep on talking about the healthy low-carb life. It's the purpose I have in my life right now and, God willing, nothing will ever keep me from fulfilling that purpose.

THANK YOU again for sharing your thoughts with me and my readers. I may just have to make a blog post out of this response. :)

6/19/2008 10:31 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

WOW, they're coming out of the woodworks today. How exactly am I "busted," Jonathan? Low-carb works fabulously for me without that high-carb "big breakfast" meal strategy. Care to share your intellectual prowess with us about what the heck you're talking about?

6/19/2008 10:36 AM  
Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

In my own experience, I've actually had the reverse effect--whenever I've loaded up on carbs for breakfast, I've been hungry the rest of the day! Since eating to control my diabetes, I've had much more success battling hunger and cravings by NOT having carb-laden breakfasts.

6/19/2008 11:00 AM  
Anonymous ej said...

Thank you THANK YOU Jimmy for disputing this stupid media-crazed story. I agree with cindy, too- high-carb breakfasts leave me with a growling stomach and STARVING within 2 hours!

6/19/2008 7:32 PM  
Blogger another fat chic said...

I think one of the coolest things about you is that you spend so much time trying to help matter what plan they choose. High carb is never going to stop cravings...that is just nuts! I guess there will always be those who don't get it?
I do not find you "bogus" at all...we are here at your blog to learn about low carb...maybe the low fatties should read about low fat suff :)

6/19/2008 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy, I admire you for taking the time to respond to the must feel like a broken record at times! You aren't in the least bit "hostile." If anyone has listened to your podcast or read your blog on a regular basis, they know that you continually tell people to do what works for them. But you also hold true to your convictions about low-carb, and I admire that. You are helping more people than you ever know.

I often feel like we are over- saturated with different "studies" that all prove different things, and I would much rather hear about someone's own personal experience than about another study! So keep up the great work!

- Taiwan gal

6/19/2008 9:16 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Just another bogus study - the results would have been different if the low-carbers were not so low-calorie - that was just too hard to keep up.

6/19/2008 10:20 PM  
Anonymous paul bowers said...

once the study is published and we can see what the "low carb" group was actually eating when the gained weight we'll be able to tear down the author's conclusion. there is no way these people were eating low-carb diets, let alone a 1000kcal lc diet, and gaining weight.

6/20/2008 5:46 AM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

I have enough trouble with my body making glucose in the morning. I definitely DON'T need to help it out with a bunch of carbs for breakfast. After a carb breakfast of whole grain cereal and skim milk, I was hungry again within a hour. And, I would pig out later in the day due to insatiable cravings.

"Busted?????" I'd say you busted this "myth" with your careful analysis. Low carb, low calorie won't cut it.

6/20/2008 9:07 AM  
Blogger junkfoodmonkey said...

That study just flabbergasted me, because of how stupid it was. For one thing the doctor running it was clearly biased. And if the point was to prove that a big breakfast helps you lose and maintain, then why was the diet being compared against a different type of diet altogether? That's not comparing like for like.

Surely the composition of the two diets should have been the same in the sense at least of percentages of fat, protein and carbs, and the breakfasts again should have the same percentages, though obviously one will have a larger number of calories. To me that's the only possible way to get to a result that's worth anything.

My breakfast is always decent sized (not huge) and usually the least carby meal of my day, 4 or 5 grams generally. And it holds me fine till lunchtime.

6/21/2008 12:56 PM  

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