Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eating Fat For Health Back In Vogue Thanks To 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'

Sometimes it takes a singular event to shake people back into reality when the lines between fact and fiction become blurry and unclear. That's precisely what has happened in the last six weeks since the hottest health book of the year Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes was released to the public with all the unconventional, counterintuitive information contain therein that was gathered from more than five years worth of research. And the evidence is speaking for itself as people are finally being told the truth about carbohydrate restriction and how eating fat, even saturated fat, is indeed an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

Best of all, real lives are being changed for the better because of this remarkable new book. Take a look at the following e-mail I received from a reader whose shared how her life was forever changed for the better as a result of reading Taubes' masterpiece. Here's what she wrote to me in her e-mail:

Dear Jimmy,

I have never written on a blog or to a blogger before in my life. But, as I recently found your blog site and have been reading through your posts, I wanted to share my story with you.

I have ALWAYS bought into the low-fat hype as gospel, ever since I was 19 and went through a depressed period in my life that caused me to develop anorexia. Now, granted, most people don't take the low-fat diet to that extreme (I am 5'4" and at my LOWEST was 85 pounds!), but the bottom line is that because I was combining such a low calorie/low fat diet with obsessive exercise, it was relatively easy for me to lose weight and keep it off. Of course I use the term 'easy' in the loosest definition imaginable. I was starving myself to death because of emotional issues - trying to stay healthy was the furthest thing from my mind.

It didn't help that my family is made up of emotional eaters - my mother and two of my sisters are very overweight and my other sister is like me - starving herself to stay in control of her life.

Even later, through my early to mid-twenties as my weight stabilized around 105 to 110 or so, I was able to stay at that weight while eating extremely low fat/high carb food. But, again, I was physically hungry all the time, not to mention pretty NUTS - planning out my meals by the minute, counting calories obsessively, refusing to let even a sliver of anything that might have fat in it past my lips. I thought if I didn't make it to the gym on a particular day, I would surely wind up gaining weight.

As I got older, I was able to work through a lot of my issues regarding food (although I was still a control freak about it) and even gained enough weight to be considered pretty normal looking. I got married and had my son (thank GOD my body recovered from the abuse I put it through in order to be able to carry my baby.) But, still even after having him, I was able to lose the weight pretty quickly with a low fat diet. Still obsessing over whatever I put into my mouth, though. Still angry with myself if I couldn't exercise every day and avoid gaining weight from the tiny sliver of pie I might have allowed myself the night before.

Now, I am 33 and divorced and for the first time in my life, I was suddenly having difficulties with my weight (like, I am up to 127 - the horror!). So alarming for someone like me - who has remained in strict control of my weight and my life for so long. I had recently starting dating (and cooking) for someone I cared about tremendously and I realized that my diet had changed dramatically to include many more carbs than I was used to eating on my own. You know the way to a man's heart is his stomach, right? :-)

My mother sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago about the Gary Taubes book. At first, I dismissed it - the whole idea about it was so crazy - eat a lot of fat to get skinny? Aerobic exercise is meaningless for weigh loss? I would be challenging the very foundations of my identity by even entertaining these notions. But, whether it was my recent inability to lose weight or just the timing - I bought the book to check it out.

I started reading everything I could about Taubes and his opinions and his research. And, it was like someone suddenly pointing out to me that the only reason I thought the sky was blue was because everyone on TV and in magazines and on the radio was telling you so. There was actually a good possibility that it was green. It was literally blowing my mind to think that I (and most of the health gurus) had been totally wrong. That all this low fat stuff was based on shoddy research and corporate agendas. And, as I read through the book IT MADE SENSE.

I started eating the low carb/high fat way (which was REALLY REALLY hard for me....) a few weeks ago. And, I feel better than I have in months. But, although I have not lost a tremendous amount of weight (I feel slimmer due to the water weight, definitely), probably because I really don't have a lot to lose to get to my ideal weight, I no longer feel like a slave to my emotional food demons. Or to the gym. Yeah, now I have to worry about carbs a bit - but the food I am eating is real, solid, satisfying food. I am no longer hungry - physically or emotionally. And, the more I read about Taubes and his research (and related research by others), the more confident I am that I am doing what is good for my health, too.

My point is that if someone who was as crazy and obsessed about the low fat/high carb diet dogma as I was can change their ways, then ANYBODY can do it. Please share my story on your site as you see fit and feel free to respond! As an avid writer and recent low carb convert, I think your forum is phenomenal.

This is the kind of transformational story you WON'T be hearing about in the mainstream press. But this woman is merely one example of how Good Calories, Bad Calories is changing the way people think about what a healthy diet really is. If the past three decades has taught us anything, then it should be that fat-phobia is indeed foolish. Fat is your best friend and it is the excessive amount of refined and even those highly-touted whole grain carbohydrates that you should be leery of. That's the clear-cut message that Gary Taubes delivers throughout his book.

I've been keeping you up-to-date on all the latest news regarding Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories book and you can access those previous posts by clicking here. There's still so much happening with the book that it's time to give you yet another update about what's going on. ENJOY!


Examples of the kind of bad research that Gary Taubes wrote about in his book abound and actually are easier to identify now. Take this Junkfood Science blog post about a so-called "study" on the glycemic index and diabetes. One of my readers was very concerned that the conclusions made about consuming carbohydrates ran directly counter to what Taubes wrote in Good Calories, Bad Calories. But leave it to Gary Taubes to explain why studies like this one published in scientific journals are bogus. Here's his analysis of the study:

It's an association study. They measure glycemic index of the foods people ate and follow them for however many years. Such studies tell you nothing about cause. (See my recent NYT Magazine article "Unhealthy Science.")

In this case, for instance, if people who were constitutionally predisposed to gain weight, who will also have an increased tendency to become diabetic, altered their eating habits to maintain their weights -- say, they ate less white bread, drank less beer, etc. -- then this would "confound" the results because the study would identify these people as eating the lower glycemic index foods and yet being more likely to become diabetic.

The problem with all such studies is that if there is any self-selection involved -- and diet is all about self-selection -- and if the self-selection is related to the endpoint being studied -- in this case diabetes -- then the results you get will be impossible to interpret. These people interpret them to fit their preconceptions, and that's classic junk science.

The only way to establish whether sugar or high glycemic index carbs cause diabetes is to do a randomized controlled trial. Take a few thousand people, randomize half of them to a low carb, low sugar diet, tell the other half to continue eating the massive amount of carbs (150-odd pounds of sugar a year, etc.) they're already eating, and follow them for say a half dozen years and see which group has more diabetes. They should fund such a trial to find out the results.

If health and weight management are the true objectives of those researching dietary concepts like carbohydrate consumption and the glycemic index, then why wouldn't they want to fund such randomized, controlled trials as Taubes has suggested? Unless those things don't take precedence and maybe protecting the financial interests of big corporations does...hmmmm?


Many of you have asked about an audio version as well as a more reader-friendly version of Good Calories, Bad Calories to share with your friends and family members who are more likely to check it out in these formats. So far the publisher Knopf, a division of Random House Publishers, has not indicated that either of these is forthcoming anytime soon. But if the book performs well during the upcoming holiday season and shows sustained sales into the new year, then perhaps an audio book will be in order.

Keep in mind that would be one long audio book since Good Calories, Bad Calories is still about 400 pages even after you remove the references. So an abridged version of the audio would be warranted. The greater likelihood is that a paperback and even a mass paperback version of the book will be released about one year from now that will reduce the size of the book to expose its message to a broader audience. When you see this happen, then all of us should start gobbling up copies and distribute them to everyone we know who has weight and health problems.


In my previous Taubes updates, I shared with you a critical review that Taubes' fellow New York Times journalist colleague Gina Kolata had to share about Good Calories, Bad Calories. Let's just say she wasn't impressed. Taubes then responded to this negative criticism which was again tersely answered by Kolata, who has her own self-interests to look after regarding the diet hypothesis she put forth in her book Rethinking Thin.

Respected nutrition expert and Protein Power author Dr. Mike Eades was pleased with Taubes' response to Kolata and added a few more observations of his own as only he can. Dr. Eades was not at all pleased that the New York Times allowed Kolata another opportunity to slam Taubes and didn't pull any punches about it either:

Gary should have been allowed his rebuttal without her refutation of his rebuttal. That would have been equal time for all, with her getting four times the space that Gary did. But that’s not the way the media works when one of their own is attacked. Nor is it the way the media works in general when one of its shibboleths - in this case, the idea that carbs may be unhealthful - is under attack.

Keep spreading the truth, Dr. Eades! We need strong voices like yours to break through loud and clear for these imbeciles to wake up and listen!


The best part about a book like Good Calories, Bad Calories being released to the general public is it fosters an open discussion of livin' la vida low-carb in the form of some very intriguing questions. Here's an example of that in an e-mail I received from a reader:

I just finished Gary Taubes book, Good Calorie-Bad Calories; I now know more than I ever wanted to know about the history of diets but still don't know if you can have a glass of wine or not or if he thinks one should use lard instead of butter as he said on Larry King. After all that reading I guess I'm back to the South Beach thing....wish I knew his email address! Or maybe you could answer my question.

While I don't pretend to speak for Gary Taubes, I did feel confident about what he would say regarding this inquiry. Here was my response:

THANKS for writing! If you'd like an occasional glass of wine and your blood sugar can remain stable from it so you are not producing high levels of insulin, then I'm sure Gary Taubes would tell you it is okay to drink it. It's all about finding how much your body can tolerate so you reduce insulin production which is at the heart of obesity and disease.

As for fat, butter and lard are both excellent ones for cooking as is coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, and others. Just stay away from margarine and other low-fat substitutes because they don't provide your body any nutritional benefit.

THANK YOU again for your e-mail! And pick up GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES to find out more about what Gary Taubes has been talking about.

Remember that drinking alcohol stops the fat-burning process because it has to be burned up just like carbohydrates do. For more information on why fat is healthy, check out this blog post I compiled about the subject.


Ever since Gary Taubes appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" show a few weeks back, people who missed it have been clamoring to see the video. I released this segment featuring Dr. Andrew Weil endorsing Good Calories, Bad Calories on YouTube, but CNN had been slow to post any video of the interview.

Now they have about 17 minutes of snippets from the show you can watch by clicking here. Again, this was not the totality of the show, but a pretty good representation of what transpired. Dr. Mehmet Oz shows his arrogance, Joy Behar exhibits her ignorance, and "Biggest Loser" trainer Jillian Michaels exudes her intolerance of ideas that run counter to her own.

Whether you've seen the "Larry King" interview or not, you'll DEFINITELY want to watch this again to see what we're up against challenging the conventional wisdom. The status quo hates it!


Another example of alarmist research regarding cancer was recently released that had one of my readers who started livin' la vida low-carb last year in a tizzy. It was about the subject of cancer, something I've blogged about how changes in the diet may help with as has Gary Taubes in his book. Here's what my reader wrote:

Hi Jimmy,

Love your blog! A low carber by need myself (I follow Dr. Berstein's program since being diagnosed as a diabetic last March), I have to defend myself often from ignorant (misinformed) people who just don't believe that low-carb is healthy. Using Gary Taubes' masterpiece to back me up I have recently started 'educating' my surroundings a bit more strongly.

Today however, I am faced with the publication of the latest report on Diet and Cancer by the World Cancer Research Fund going against red meat, salt, energy dense foods (fat isn't mentioned explicitly but implied) and pro-exercise.

It would be great if Gary Taubes could comment on this report, as it seems to contradict his findings partially and is IMHO another piece of bad science. As I am not able to reach Gary, and I'm pretty sure you can: Could you ask him if he plans to comment (and post it if he does)?

As a matter of fact, he did have a comment about this study to share:

The report is typically disheartening. First, it concludes that excess fat is the primary risk factor for cancer, but then goes back to the 1900s to say that the cause of excessive fat is nothing more than eating too much or sedentary behavior.

It actually does talk about the role of insulin and insulin-like growth factor in cancer formation, a major step forward, but then comes down only on red and processed meat based on the same kind of meaningless observation studies I discussed in my recent NY Times Magazine article.

In fact, clinical trials have been done to test the hypothesis that eating more fiber or fruits and vegetables and less meat has any ability to prevent colon cancer -- the cancer that these experts say red meat causes -- and the trials have shown no effect.

So these experts ignore the clinical trials and instead focus on the observational studies. By not raising the role of insulin in fat accumulation, the report manages to do an excellent job of avoiding an explanation that would cover all their evidence. Instead, it's just more of the usual.

Insulin is credited with a role in cancer formation, but the carbohydrates that elevate insulin are not considered cancer-causing (although, of course, foods with dietary fiber are considered potentially cancer-preventing). Excess fat is credited with a fundamental role in cancer, but the insulin that causes us to accumulate excess fat is not discussed and so it's all about calories.

It's probably worth noticing that the authors are the usual suspects in this business and the report matches up well with the preconceptions they've had since the 1980s.

You hate to say FOLLOW THE MONEY when it comes to dietary research, but that seems to be where we are at right now in the oftentimes dicey world of bad science.


Have you ever wondered why we got to be so fearful of fat in the first place? Well, take a trip down memory lane with a history lesson on dietary fat by reading this brilliant timeline published in the Ottawa Citizen explaining the evolution that has taken place since the 1960's. From the introduction of margarine as a replacement for butter to the trumpeting of omega-3 fats in 2007, this is one column you won't want to miss. Taubes' book is listed as part of the change in mindset regarding fat consumption.


Gary Taubes was given an opportunity recently to appear on NPR's "Science Friday" with host Ira Flatow to talk about his book Good Calories, Bad Calories. Appearing on the program with Taubes was Dr. Robert Krauss from the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California. You'll recall I highlighted this study by Dr. Krauss regarding how low-carb is beneficial to cholesterol. In my previous blog interview with Taubes a few months ago, he described Dr. Krauss as "one of the smarter scientists in the metabolism field."

My favorite part of this interview on "Science Friday," which you can hear by clicking on the play button at the program link, is when Taubes rather bluntly stated "you need to eat carbs to get fat." I never really thought about that before, but there's a lot of truth in that statement since carbohydrates are the root cause of obesity and disease for so many people. Listen to the entire interview and smile if you're livin' la vida low-carb!


There are certain people who have access to a newspaper column and use that power they have been given to spread their absolute disgust and disdain for anything positive related to the healthy low-carb lifestyle. One such person is Bryant Stamford whose "Body Shop" column appears in the Louisville, KY-based Courier-Journal newspaper. I've previously blogged about his anti-Atkins drivel here and here.

Now he's at it again with this recent column where he attempts to discredit and rip apart Good Calories, Bad Calories bit by bit. In fact, Stamford hates low-carb so much that he doesn't even mention the name of the book in the first of a two-part column. He again repeated his ridiculous claim that this way of eating failed because people are now fatter than they've ever been. Um, then why isn't it the fault of the low-fat diet recommendations that have been hammered down our throats for three decades, Mr. Stamford? I can hardly wait for part two of this column--NOT!

Tell Bryant Stamford what you think about his idiocy regarding livin' la vida low-carb by sending him an e-mail at


Of all the people in the world who would oppose the concepts of Good Calories, Bad Calories, one person you would not name is Australian independent researcher Anthony Colpo. Once an ardent supporter of livin' la vida low-carb and the creator of an outstanding low-carb bodybuilders forum, Colpo's views have noticeably shifted this year as he moves away from the "metabolic advantage" that happens with a controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach.

In light of that, it's probably not surprising that Colpo would make some strong statements against the new Taubes book at his forum. One of the members there asked Colpo what he thought about Good Calories, Bad Calories and Colpo responded in typical fashion from him:

"If Taubes' message is that the current obesity epidemic is not due to insufficient activity and/or excessive calories, but simply due to high carbohydrate consumption, then his message is complete bullsh*t."

There are at least 10 pages of comments discussing the book, although most of the people, including Colpo, have NOT read the book. READ THE BOOK, people, before making comments based on your own preconceived notions of what you think the book says. You'll save yourself a lot of embarrassment over a lack of knowledge. I'll be blogging more about Colpo's change of position on low-carb in a future post. Stay tuned!


I wanted to share an example of how the message presented in Good Calories, Bad Calories is now helping to shape the discussion regarding dietary fat, especially saturated fat. Once thought of as the great evil nemesis that leads to heart disease, Gary Taubes has opened a lot of eyes with what he uncovered in his research about saturated fat and it is making an impact on some popular diet and health media outlets.

Check out this Men's Health column entitled "What if Bad Fat Is Actually Good for You?" by Nina Teicholz. Absolutely, positively INCREDIBLE!!! You wouldn't have seen this kind of column in the 1980's or 1990's with people like Dr. Dean Ornish or Susan Powter out there claiming fat is why you're fat. Those days are becoming ancient history! Taubes' book is merely the beginning of the end for the low-fat lie.


Finally, you are invited to get in on the conversation about Good Calories, Bad Calories that we are having over at my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Discussion" forum right now. In this chapter-by-chapter discussion, led by my intelligent and enthusiastic moderator Charles Washington, the members there are able to talk about what they learned in each chapter. So far we have covered the Prologue and Chapter 1. This week we'll be moving to Chapter 2 as we continue looking at each chapter one week at a time until we're finished. Won't you join us?

We'll keep updating you on a lot more news about Gary Taubes and his book Good Calories, Bad Calories as it continues to make a difference in the lives of doctors, nutritionists, and patients who are looking for a way to manage weight and health.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Always Inquisitive said...

I agree 100% that Colpo (among many others) should actually read GCBC before attacking it. At the same time, the exercise paper that Colpo sites in "They are all mad" (Keim et al, citation at bottom of comment) does seem to fly in the face of Taubes' claims on exercise. I note that Taubes did not reference this paper in either GCBC or his New York Magazine article. I would be very interested in his take on the study as it seems to directly contradict his hypothesis that exercise does not lead to weight loss.

For those who are not familiar, the Keim study was one where they took 2 groups of overweight women and had them on various exercise and diet regimes. The interesting part is the group of women who started on a weight maintenance diet with no exercise for 2 weeks. This established the baseline number of calories necessary for them to maintain their weight. They then stayed on this diet for the next 12 weeks but added treadmill exercise for 6 days each week. They lost an average of 0.5kg per week.

In his NY magazine article Taubes wrote, "As for those people who insist that exercise has been the key to their weight-loss programs, the one thing we’d have to wonder is whether they changed their diets as well." Well, in this case they most certainly did not change their diet and exercise sure seems like it was the key to their losing weight.

Keim NL, Barbieri TF, Van Loan MD, Anderson BL. Energy expenditure and physical performance in overweight women: response to training with or without caloric restriction. Metabolism 1990;39:651–8

11/11/2007 10:38 PM  
Blogger Kevin M. said...

As i have already come to suspect, Colpo is a low-cal believing dinosaur. It is demonstrably true that a great deal of exercise will take off weight, as Colpo claims, and perhaps Taubes should qualify his statement about this. However, it is not just from burning calories, but from changing the metabolic balance of the body. Burn out the sugar, and the body can start to use fat for fuel. Whatever Colpo and exercise can achieve, low-carb can achieve more simply and without exercise. Exercise can accelerate the sugar-control process, and has been known to break people out of stalls, as well as growing fuel-burning muscle tissue. This does not take away the other benefits of exercise, such as toning and shape, which Taubes accepts. I do think Taubes' point on exercise, while not incorrect, is confusing to people, and should not be one of his main talking points. It is only distracting from his bigger message of "insulin drives fat, sugar drives insulin". Colpo thinks he already understands biology, but he is missing the underlying metabolic function, and does not seem open to hearing it.

11/12/2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger Kevin M. said...

Here's an article on the study by Dr. Kraus showing that reducing carbs reduces cholesterol:

I perhaps have too much time on my hands, but I did a transcript of the Taubes/Kraus interview. Dr. Kraus states clearly that he agrees with Taubes, but will not support further studies of low-carb. I simply can't make sense of this. Can you? This is a crucial question of why won't the researchers do more?

[at about 30:00 mins - Gary proposes a study measuring the energy output of a small group of people eating a low-carb but high-calorie diet. The calorie hypothesis says the subjects will get fat, the carb hypothesis says they'll get thin. This test would be simple, small and cheap at a cost of maybe $50K.]

Host: Dr. Kraus, what do you think of that?

Dr. Kraus: Well, listen, I'm all in favor of testing hypotheses by experiments, but I'm not sure the experiment Gary proposed is going to give us a definitive answer because really what most people are concerned about is, if you can lose weight that's fine, but can you maintain a weight loss over the long term, and we are just notoriously poor at devising any scientific rationale that would convert to a result that would make people thinner after two or three years of following a diet.

Taubes: But that's a nihilistic argument, Ron. Again, the question is, you know, we could say we're notoriously poor at getting people to quit smoking. The question is what makes them fat? If you physicians out there could tell these people, "look, carbohydrates make you fat, the reason you get fat when you fall off the diet is because you go back to eating the foods that make you fat", it would help people stay off the foods. Instead, what they're told is, "look, it's really hard to stay on a diet, but try this one, it works just like every other one, they all work by reducing calories", which isn't necessarily the case...

Dr. Kraus: Sure, I'm just saying the experiment needs to be a longer one to really make it stick in terms of putting a lot of effort into getting people to change preferences.

Taubes: But we're only interested in testing hypotheses, that's all we're, you know, it's like, let us find out what the truth is.

Host: You've gone the next step already, doctor Kruas, you...can't change the diet.

Dr. Kraus: I think, putting funding into a project like that I think would require a buy-in by the public who expects to get some health benefits from it.

Taubes: Well, not if you're talking $50,000. I mean, again, its, you know...

Dr. Kraus: That would be great.

Taubes: We could get some heavyweight guy on Wall Street to fund that tomorrow...

Host: So to speak...

Taubes: know? Play your role in scientific history, you know, like being the guy who funded the Eclipse expedition in 1917.

Host: But in all seriousness, Dr. Kraus is right, and you've [Gary] pointed out how overweight and obese the society is, you would think they would be looking for some simple answer, and if it's the carbohydrate problem, then that would be something you could focus on Doctor Kraus, but you're not.

Dr. Kraus: I'm just skeptical, I'm absolutely enthusiastic about the science, I think there's alot that Gary has highlighted that I think is moving in the right direction to try to explain how we got fat. But I'm really concerned that we don't yet have a real strong clue as to how to convert that information into a therapy that would either prevent obesity or treat it effectively and I think that we're not going to really be able to justify the research until we can show that it could lead us to those kind of experiments, and those are really expensive, really hard to do.

Host: Well, maybe somebody who's got a few extra bucks wants to do Gary's experiment, and we'll report it back here on Science Friday.

Taubes: One can only hope.

Host: We'll see how it works. I want to thank you both for taking time to be with us today...Gary of "Good Calories Bad Calories"...a very thoughtfully written book, I recommend it, it will get you thinking about things and learning stuff you never knew before...Dr. Ronald M. Kraus, senior scientist and director of atherosclerosis research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California...

11/12/2007 11:54 AM  
Blogger LCforevah said...

always, I'm so disappointed in Colpo because I considered him to be much more disciplined than to criticize a book before reading it. I've read his "Mad" thing, and he accuses Taubes of discussing the "metabolic advantage". Well, Taubes never uses that expression in his book--not that I could find. He has a much more nuanced approach to presenting how insulin is involved in homeostasis, and if Colpo had read the book, he would know this.

It boggles the mind when people do that. That's why the Larry King interview with Behar, Taubes, Oz was such a set up. Nobody but Dr Weil had actually read the book! And he was an add-on interview!

11/12/2007 12:43 PM  
Blogger Always Inquisitive said...

Hi Kevin, thanks for the input and the partial transcription of the Science Friday interview.

You wrote "Whatever Colpo and exercise can achieve, low-carb can achieve more simply and without exercise."

Do you have any studies that indicate this, or is it all based on anecdotal evidence?

11/12/2007 3:38 PM  
Blogger JD said...

There was a show on public TV a week or so ago about a group of employees from public TV who spent 9-12 months training for the Boston Marathon. None of the persons in the group changed their body composition. They did baseline and scans at 9 months if I remember right. Only one women who set out to lose weight changed her body composition. One of the commentators (don't remember her qualifications) made the statement that exercise was good for maintaining weight but not the overwhelming factor that diet is in losing weight. Not sure if she had additional research to back up that statement or not.

11/12/2007 5:11 PM  
Blogger Fred Hahn said...

Here is a quote from Colpo's childish rant "They are all MAD!! which is a free PDF rag against the metabolic advantage of low carb diets. Here he rails againt Gary Taubes - or tries to:

"To flatly state that exercise does not lead to weight loss is downright absurd. If Taubes had instead said "exercise will not lead to weight loss if you fail to establish a calorie deficit", then he would have been absolutely correct."

Well, isn't that what Gary said? Exercise alone doesn't cut the mustard. You must establish a calories deficit through eating right.

Here's what Colpo doesn't get: If you exercise for an hour, you have to subtract the amount of calories you would have burned anyway in that hour doing something less strenuous. Let's say you burn 300 total calories in an hour of some sort of physical activity (less as you become fitter). In an hour of regular activity you'll burn 100 calories. SO 300 - 100 = 200 EXTRA calories burned. There are 3,500 calories in a single pound of fat.

So it will take you 17 days of 1 hour treadmill running to lose a single pound of fat. BUT after every session you will be hungry. And it doesn't take much food to equal 200 calories.

Colpo picks and chooses the studies which support his stance (he misreads and misinterprets them usually), and then rails against people disallowing any response from them calling them names and banning them from his site. Like the bully who spits in your eye and then runs away.

If all of the Colpo supporters knew how poor his interpretation is of many of the research papers he cites, they'd weep.

He claims only metabolic ward studies are of any value and then uses non-ward studies to promote his position(s) on exercise.

Fact is, there are many ward studies that have shown a metabolic advantage to low carb eating - a number of these dissenting studies are in the references of the very papers he does cite!

He is so blinded by his mistaken stance on the metabolic advantage issue that he has misread and misrepresented virtually every study he cites in the first chapter of his "Fat Loss Bible."

On his web forum under his name he uses this quote from Sir William Osler:

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism."

Amen. It would do him well to read the very quotes he uses to define himself.

11/12/2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If only I could eat fat and it would satiate me and cholesterol not raise my LDL. *sigh* Unfortunetly, none of those things are true for me.

Low-fat isn't bad. I like the food and can't tell the difference between non-fat cream cheese and low-fat. I even like non-fat cheese. I like fat, sure, but it raises my calories up too quickly and it doesn't take many calories before I start gaining. I'm currently eating low-fat, moderate-carb, high-protein.

As for exercise, I lost almost NOTHING when I just worked out, and a good part of what little I did lose was muscle. Going low-carb and having a protein shake after my workout were the two biggest factors in losing fat mass.

11/12/2007 11:18 PM  
Blogger Kevin M. said...

Fred, very helpful post, thanks.

I somewhat agree with Colpo's position in that Taubes should qualify his statement to say that exercise alone CAN lead to weight loss - a GREAT DEAL of exercise for a very small loss, as you have nicely explained, and with the resultant hunger problem. **Any loss greater than the 200 calories you mention above comes not from a calorie deficit, but a carb deficit.** Colpo thinks it's all from the calories, but the simple math shows that is impossible.

To be fair, some people do respond to an added calorie control on top of carb control, and this has broken some people out of stalls, so there are exceptional cases. And exercise can likewise help to tip the metabolic balance by burning away some fat and carbs and adding muscle. But the rule seems to work for the majority. Carb control alone can remove 10 lbs per week. Jimmy is living proof of this, among many others.

Colpo does not understand this dynamic of "metabolic advantage" and is stuck using the old caloric model of nutrition biology. Carbs drive fat gain, not calories, and this is the whole point of Taubes' book. These are precisely the studies that Taubes wants researchers like Kraus to pursue, but even expert researchers like Dr. Kraus become strangely irrational on this point, like they have fallen into Alice's Wonderland or a Bermuda Triangle of the mind. His own study showed that high cholesterol is cured by a low-carb diet alone. But then he says "there is no demonstrable public health benefit". He leaves us in the logical merry-go-round of "we can't fund a further study if we don't have proof of the dynamic, but we can't prove the dynamic without further studies"...a catch 22 of illogic, and perhaps, cowardice. It is truly an absurd position.

So, "always inquisitive", I don't know if these points answer your question adequately. Yes, there are increasing studies which agree with this point, but they are ignored by mainstream science and the media. Jimmy has posted many of them here, in fact, the point of this blog is to be a main clearinghouse of such information. If you can't find it, write to Jimmy. Also see the "Protein Power", "Weight of the Evidence" and "Ask Dr. Vernon" blogs for more professional reviews of continuing studies. And of course, Taubes exhaustively lists many such studies in his book, and in all his other articles. Key researchers in this area are Jeff Volek, Richard Feinman and Eric Westman. Popular low-carb forum sites also have links to these studies. Read Dr. Ron Rosedale on "Insulin and its Metabolic Effects", available widely on the Web. Perhaps the most impressive study is the comprehensive review of studies by Jeff Volek and Richard Feinman (2005), good, simplified reviews of which can be found here:

and here including charts (scroll down a bit):

I do not believe that anecdotal evidence is worthless - it is the "living proof" which is the real last reality check of effectiveness, and genesis of hypotheses. If everyone is cured by a clinically "unproven" treatment, isn't that indication enough to fund studies? Aren't studies therefore justified? Aren't studies the next logical, absolutely necessary, clinical step? Haven't we done that for 50 years with low fat? Haven't we spent BILLIONS of government taxpayer dollars on studies of low-fat, all futile? But the one treatment that demonstrably reverses all known symptoms of metabolic syndrome, namely low carb, they refuse to study.

As Taubes has pointed out, science already agrees with every individual point of low carb, but then they won't follow the chain of their own syllogism back to first principles. Scientists agree, when spoken to reasonably and privately, that insulin primarily drives fat accumulation. Scientists agree likewise that carbs primarily drive insulin secretion. So why not simply treat fat by reducing carbs? No researcher seems capable of making this most simple of logical leaps. They insist, like Dr. Kraus above, on searching for some other arcane cause (and spending billions on the search), on highly complicating the issue, on finding a "therapy" or ideally, a drug treatment instead of the simple dietary treatment which is indicated (and long accepted and prescribed for other medical conditions). They insist that we must find a "healthier way" to achieve the complete and immediate reversal of metabolic syndrome. Pure absurdity.

This is known in philosophic language as "begging the question" or "tautology", a classic logical error, like describing the color gray by saying "it is a color with a lot of grayness in it". There is no such thing as a "healthier" complete reversal of symptoms with no negative effects. And it's not a miracle, it makes sound biologic sense. But we need it to be formally "verified" by studies. That is all we are asking for, but the mere suggestion of this logical step is met with uncomprehending stares, like we have suddenly started speaking an unknown dialect.

Also, by the way, Dr. Mike Eades ("Protein Power" blog) had a good post a few weeks ago explaining why supposed "metabolic ward" studies are NOT the most trustworthy studies, because people still can and do easily cheat on them. All the term means is "studies done in hospitals". Therefore, the only studies that are TRULY strictly controllable are animal studies, and these have recently shown excellent results for low carb in mice as well. Colpo's studies are out of date and selective, and he does not want to hear it. Dr. Eades post is here:

This is something that happens with age, we get set in our beliefs, and become unwilling to change when change is indicated. The mystery is not low carb or its effectiveness, which is amply indicated by both anecdote and many controlled studies. The mystery is why science cannot, or will not, pursue it, or even grasp why they should, though they agree with all its particulars.

Sorry for my verbosity today!

11/13/2007 2:53 AM  
Blogger Fred Hahn said...


Well put, well put. Hear, hear!

Truth be told, Colpo has no idea how wrong he is. If Mike Eades wanted to he could pulverize Colpo's stance and destroy his book sales. Colpo's Fat Loss Bible
is a mixture of truth and nonsense. But hey, let him rant away.

I thinks it's too bad that Jimmy Moore gave this guy so much credit and singled him out as an expert trainer. While his cholesterol book is good, the same had been said already many times before in Dr. Ravnskof's book and others.

As far as exercise is concerned, Colpo is in the stone age.

11/13/2007 9:17 AM  
Blogger Kevin M. said...

Colpo used to talk pro-low carb, but has recently changed his story and shown his real loyalties. Jimmy is planning an updated post on him in the near future. I think what is really needed now is for Colpo's "metabolic ward" studies to go head-to-head with Taubes' or Volek's studies, with reviews of their validity by Eades and Wilshire. This is where they are in disagreement.

It's a research war, but that is where we should be, research mano-a-mano. Let there be a thousand LC studies, that's what we're asking for. The research verification of the carb/insulin/fat hypothesis is everything. The massive anecdotal evidence and initial study indications give us every confidence of success, and maybe that is why the research community is scared deaf, mute and blind over it.

11/14/2007 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colpo is right.
Carbohydrates don't promote fat gain!

This is just nonsense of the worst kind. The body has well known metabolic pathways to fat gain and all of them are activated ONLY when there's an excess of calories.

Insulin CAN'T store fat at random.
Insulin is needed to drive glucose in the cells and to drive amino acids in the cells. Even if you water fast for 2 weeks your body still produces a good amount of insulin. Insulin will be used as a fat storer ONLY if there's fat to store which means only if there's an excess of calories. Insulin would also store proteins as fat if there's an excess of calories. A adipocyteous protein called ASP instead will easily store fat as body fat if there's an excess of calories.

If you look at studies you will see that the same amount of calories consumed by people with chronic high insulin levels doesn't result in any little extra weight gain compared to the same calories consumed by people with low insulin levels. By turn the same amount of calories consumed by people with low insulin levels doesn't result in extra weight loss.

All the metabolic pathways:
carbs to fat, proteins to fat and fat to fat are well functioning and easily activated whenever and only if there's an excess of calories.

The mobilitation of body fat can occur only if there a lack of calories. Otherwise even if your diet is 80% fats your body will burn those fats and will leave the body fat untouched!

So there's no way low-carb can improve the burning of body fat as any diet wich doesn't provide enough calorie will trigger the body fat burning and will put the body in a fat burning mode.

Only calories can activate or deactivate a fat burning mode of the body. One can easily eat 800 calories of pure white sucrose and he/she will be in a fat burning mode. The idea that low-carb puts the body into a greater fat burning mode is ridicolous. Any lack of calories will put the body in fat burning mode whether the calories from butter or from alcohol.

If you eat 1000 calories of pure corn syrup and consume 1500 calories no fat gain of any kind will occur and your body will burn its own body fat.

It's just not true that eating carbohydrates stop fat burning or that eating fat increases fat burning. If there's a lack of calories the body will get the calories from burning body fat.

If there's a balance or excess of calories the body won't burn body fat but will burn either the carbs (if the diet is high carb) or the fat (if the diet is high fat) or both (if the diet is moderate)

I support and follow a low carb diet and I think a restriction in carbs is what many need to feel better and have lower BGs but all this "hype" is really turning people away from a lower carb approach to eating because it is creepy for how stupid it is.
Really this obsession with sci-fi and nonsense of the low carb craze is scarying me.

The body would be completely flawed and non funtional if there was really a metabolic advance. The body needs to store fat when there's an excess of calories and the body needs to get calories from body fat when there's a lack of calories.

That's how it can secure the best survival in all kind of circumstances. If low carb eating really disrupted this effective calorie balance we would have extincted a lot of years ago since our life depends on such simple and strict calorie balance.

Storing fat is vital for animals and our body is no different. Its trigger to store fat is an excess of calories to make those calories available when there will be less.

Burning fat is vital for animal and our body is no different. Its trigger to burn body fat is a lack of calories to finally use the calories it stored in provision of food shortage when there were an excess of them.

This is the end all be all of body weight and fat loss. And we're alive nowadays writing in this blog because it works like this whether you eat 100% carbs or whether you eat 100% fat.

Any metabolic advantage that seems a good thing nowadays to overweight modern western people would absolutely be a MORONIC DISADVANTAGE of the worst kind for the survival of the body.

2/25/2008 9:39 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home