Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

That New Volek (& Phinney) Study: Part II ~ More on Journal Choice, Funding and Thoughts on Press Quotes

There is so much about the recent study from principal low carbohydrate advocate Jeff Volek, that this may well be the subject or impetus for several posts here as we close out 2014 -- it is so much more than just the study, but more what it embodies vis a vis the whole low carb/keto schtick.  Along with Stephen Phinney and ten -- count them, TEN! -- others who claim to meet the PLOS One standards to be designated as authors, we were brought the following study:

In a way this tops off a year of disgraceful behavior on the parts of just about everyone in the IHC who seem hell-bent on deceiving people into adopting their extreme lifestyles. If the science were really so clear, then why can they not address it honestly? There is nothing, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. in this study that supports the following quotes from Volek that have been repeated in multiple outlets too numerous to cite (but I'll link the official press release from his new institution, Ohio State University, the presume source for all further "journalistic" resports):
The finding "challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn't correlate with disease," Volek added.
“There is widespread misunderstanding about saturated fat. In population studies, there’s clearly no association of dietary saturated fat and heart disease, yet dietary guidelines continue to advocate restriction of saturated fat. That’s not scientific and not smart,” Volek said. “But studies measuring saturated fat in the blood and risk for heart disease show there is an association. Having a lot of saturated fat in your body is not a good thing. The question is, what causes people to store more saturated fat in their blood, or membranes, or tissues?
“People believe ‘you are what you eat,’ but in reality, you are what you save from what you eat,” he said. “The point is you don’t necessarily save the saturated fat that you eat. And the primary regulator of what you save in terms of fat is the carbohydrate in your diet. Since more than half of Americans show some signs of carb intolerance, it makes more sense to focus on carb restriction than fat restriction.”
Perhaps Volek is not aware that the favorite Ancel Keys "bashing" study by Yerushalmy & Hilleboe did indeed provide better evidence than his data provided for all fat,  for just such correlation between animal fat consumption (higher in saturated fats) and heart disease. Not only that, but plant fats (mainly unsaturated) fats and even carbohydrates were negatively associated with heart disease.  See Denise Minger's post on the Y&H Study and Keys where she lists the correlation coefficients.  There are statistically zero human cultures on this planet ever who have consumed a high saturated fat diet.  NONE.  

MacSmiley has posted the following link (direct PDF download) in comments on my prior post on this study.  It is a document summarizing one of the funding parties of the study, The Beef Checkoff Program -- involving just about everyone beef, so Big Bovine it is!  

When such clearly telegraphed expectations are there, it becomes all the more difficult to believe that funding source had nothing to do with this, especially when the principal investigator has such a long track record of low carbohydrate advocacy.

Speaking of that track record ...

2008:  Comparison of Low Fat and Low Carbohydrate Diets on Circulating Fatty Acid Composition and Markers of Inflammation  

Authors: Cassandra E. Forsythe, Stephen D. Phinney, Maria Luz Fernandez, Erin E. Quann, Richard J. Wood, Doug M. Bibus, William J. Kraemer, Richard D. Feinman, Jeff S. Volek. (italics indicate author of current study)
Funding:  The Dr. Robert C. Atkins Foundation 
Journal:  Lipids 
In this study they took 40 overweight men and women with atherogenic dyslipidemia and put them on a VLC diet (C:F:P 12:59:28) or an LF diet (C:F:P  56:24:20) for 12 weeks.  The details of this study - presumably providing anthropometrics for the participants - were "described previously" in Comparative effects of dietary restriction of carbohydrate or fat on circulating saturated fatty acids and atherogenic dyslipidemia. Submitted for publication.  I found one other paper by this research group citing that study (also with submitted status), but no paper was ever published that I can find.  Apparently it was rejected?  No PLOS back then I suppose.  But I digress ...

So of note, the subjects were reported to consume ~1500 cal/day for the 12 weeks of their respective diets.  We are told:  
Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol intake were significantly higher during the VLCKD than the LFD. The LFD led to improvements in some metabolic markers, but subjects following the VLCKD had consistently greater weight loss, decreased adiposity, improved glycemic control and insulin sensitivity and more favorable TAG, HDL-C and total cholesterol/HDL-C ratio responses. In addition to these markers for MetS, the VLCKD subjects showed more favorable responses in alternative indicators of atherogenic dyslipidemia and cardiovascular risk: postprandial lipemia, apo B, apo A-1, the apo B/Apo A-1 ratio, LDL particle distribution and postabsorptive and postprandial vascular function. Most striking, we reported that despite a threefold higher intake of dietary saturated fat during the VLCKD compared to the LFD, circulating saturated fatty acids in TAG and CE were significantly decreased, as was 16:1n-7, an endogenous marker of lipogenesis. There were profound changes, as well, in other fatty acids in circulating TG, PL, and CE fractions (Tables 2–4).
Unfortunately, the VLCKD group averaged an approximately 850 cal/day deficit vs. baseline, while the LFD group only averaged around 600 cal/day deficit.  Whatever these other markers were or how favorable or unfavorable they might be, the results are irreparably confounded by the differing caloric deficits and resulting weight loss differential.    I'll discuss the full results vis a vis fatty acids in my post addressing the findings of the current study, but wish to make a few observations:
  • They didn't alter total absolute (grams) fat intake or absolute saturated fat intake in the VLCKD in this study.  Intake was roughly equivalent to baseline at around 100g total, 35g sat fat (note: some numbers not adding up on table).
  • The LF group reduced absolute carb intake by almost 60 g/day (roughly 20% of baseline intake of ~270 g/day)
  • It had long been established that DNL was not a major pathway and that any significant increases in this required high carb load and/or overfeeding calories.  See here and here.
However, the results here for palmitoleic acid would work out as follows:
VLCKD Before:  2.11 g/L total trig x 5L x 4.53% = 478 mgVLCKD After: 1.04 g/L total x 5L x 3.10% = 161 mgVLCKD Reduction = 0.317 grams of palmitoleic acid
LFD Before:  1.87 g/L total trig x 5L x 4.54% = 424 mgLFD After: 1.51 g/L total x 5L x 4.53% = 342 mgLFD Reduction = 0.082 grams of palmitoleic acid

2010:  Limited Effect of Dietary Saturated Fat on Plasma Saturated Fat in the Context of a Low Carbohydrate Diet

Authors: Cassandra E. Forsythe, Stephen D. Phinney, Richard D. Feinman, Brittanie M. Volk, Daniel Freidenreich, Erin Quann, Kevin Ballard, Michael J. Puglisi, Carl M. Maresh, William J. Kraemer, Douglas M. Bibus, Maria Luz Fernandez, Jeff S. Volek (italics indicate author of current study)
Funding:  American Egg Board-Egg Nutrition Center Dissertation Fellowship in Nutrition Award.
Journal:  Lipids 
In this study, they did a randomized cross-over study of 6 weeks duration for either a high sat fat low carb diet (CRD-SFA), or a high unsat fat low carb diet (CRD-UFA).  The subjects were 8 weight stable men.  The six week time frame was based on assertions that this was the time frame for lipids to stabilize in response to fish oil/omega 3, but whatever ....  For the three weeks before each 6-week intervention, the "run-in" (or "washout") was a "standard" low carb diet "using standardized procedures from [their] laboratory":  10% carb, 65% fat, 25% protein.  The diets interventions worked out to 12-13% carb, 58-59% fat,  29-30% protein.   I would note that the baseline data reported in this study was a little over 2000 calories of 34% carb, 41% fat, 25% protein.  
Nutrient intake estimated at baseline from dietary records showed a lower than expected energy, 2,072 kcal/d compared to 2,513 kcal/d for the feeding periods. This was likely due to under-reporting at baseline (Table 1) [22] although it has been argued that the demands of gluconeogenesis and other processes require more energy for weight maintenance [23].  Habitual carbohydrate intake was also lower than the average American diet at 32%en reflecting two subjects who were habitually consuming a lower-carbohydrate diet
So with a small sample size to begin with, they included two subjects who were chronic low carbers?  Odd.  Again, I'll address the other lipids, etc. in a separate post, but at weight stable caloric intake, both CRD's lowered fasting triglycerides roughly 40 points from the baseline average of 122 mg/dL.  Of course (what else is new) we cannot compare these results directly with current reports because the fatty acid profiles are of nanomol/mL units instead of weight percent.  Longer chain fatty acids would represent a higher weight percent per picomolar (nanomol per 0.001L = 10^-12 molar = pico) concentration.

So they gave us the concentrations of palmitoleic under baseline, CRD-SFA and CRD-UFA conditions.  These were 147.4, 55.9, and 58.4 picomolar respectively.  This means that there was a range of 280 to 740 picomoles of palmitoleic acid in the blood stream of these 8 men throughout the study.  So less than one nanomole = less than a one-billionth of a mole which works out to about one-quarter of one-millionth of a gram maximum.  This sounds like I've made a math error.  Someone please check this for me, because this is unbelievably insignificant.  Even if I'm off by a factor of one million ....

The OSU Press Release ...

I'm going to C&P these numbers into the short DNL post I did with the numbers on the current study.  But it should be abundantly clear that this quote from Volek is wildly misleading and inaccurate:

If you burn saturated fat preferentially, then how come saturated fats make up around 30% of recycled fats??  The overwhelming source of triglycerides secreted by the liver in the fasted state is excess NEFA released from adipose tissue with some contribution likely due to chylomicron (dietary fat).   This is just nonsense.  

The Journal ...

Perhaps the editors at Lipids finally got the memo on these studies and took a pass on this third installment answering the question on absolutely nobody's mind.   Rather, here's what they sought fit to publish in their most recent issue (the Look Inside links go to an image of the first page for those interested):

  1. Original Article:  Hydroxyoctadecadienoic Acids Regulate Apoptosis in Human THP-1 Cells in a PPARγ-Dependent Manner  Venkat N. Vangaveti, Venkatesh M. Shashidhar, Catherine Rush, Usman H. Malabu…Pages 1181-1192  Look Inside Get Access
  2. Original Article:  Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplementation Reduces mTORC1 Signaling in Skeletal Muscle from High Fat Fed, Obese Zucker Rats  Zhuyun Li, Cory M. Dungan, Bradley Carrier, Todd C. Rideout, David L. Williamson Pages 1193-1201  Look Inside Get Access
  3. Original Article:  Inducing Effect of Clofibric Acid on Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase in Intestinal Mucosa of Rats  Tohru Yamazaki, Makiko Kadokura, Yuki Mutoh, Takeshi Sakamoto, Mari Okazaki…Pages 1203-1214  Look Inside Get Access
  4. Original Article:  Vitamin E Conditionally Inhibits Atherosclerosis in ApoEKnockout Mice by Anti-oxidation and Regulation of Vasculature Gene Expressions  Futian Tang, Meili Lu, Suping Zhang, Meng Mei, Tieqiao Wang, Peiqing Liu…Pages 1215-1223  Look Inside Get Access
  5. High Density Lipoprotein Level is Negatively Associated With the Increase of Oxidized Low Density Lipoprotein Lipids After a Fatty Meal  Sanna Tiainen, Markku Ahotupa, Petteri Ylinen, Tommi Vasankari Pages 1225-1232  Look Inside Get Access
  6. Original Article:  Effect of Compounds Affecting ABCA1 Expression and CETP Activity on the HDL Pathway Involved in Intestinal Absorption of Lutein and Zeaxanthin   Eric J. Niesor, Evelyne Chaput, Jean-Luc Mary, Andreas Staempfli, Andreas Topp…Pages 1233-1243  Look Inside Get Access
  7. Communication:  Treatment of Low HDL-C Subjects with the CETP Modulator Dalcetrapib Increases Plasma Campesterol Only in Those Without ABCA1 and/or ApoA1 Mutations  Eric J. Niesor, David Kallend, Darren Bentley, John J. P. Kastelein…Pages 1245-1249  Look Inside Get Access
  8. Methods:  Separation of Enantiomeric Triacylglycerols by Chiral-Phase HPLC  Tomáš Řezanka, Karel Sigler  Pages 1251-1260  Look Inside Get Access
  9. Methods:  Separation and Detection of Plasmalogen in Marine Invertebrates by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with Evaporative Light-Scattering Detection  Shinji Yamashita, Akihiro Abe, Kiyotaka Nakagawa, Mikio Kinoshita, Teruo Miyazawa  Pages 1261-1273  Look Inside

The Press Coverage Deluge ...

Which brings me back to the press coverage of this lackluster, would-be obscure article published in a pay-to-play journal.  It was splashed everywhere, copying the same quotes from Volek, and totally misrepresenting anything meaningful gained from the study (which wasn't much).

I usually don't think all that much about industry funding per se -- it shouldn't influence things -- and in many cases it doesn't.  The data are what they are after all.  And yet it does, which is where study design and interpretation come in.  Don't get me wrong, we've seen this with research by those advocating other dietary philosophies as well.  It should always be considered and viewed with skepticism.  When industries like Big Bovine, Large Leche and Enormo Egg get behind the research of a clearly ideologically driven researcher such as Volek, it's plain as day what is going on.  Is it any wonder that The Big Fat Surprise got all the buzz it did?  Nina Teicholz's case in that book -- the vaunted supreme science -- hinged on Atkins and meat/dairy/egg funded research by The New Atkins trio:  Westman, Volek and Phinney.    Oh ... and not to mention Richard "Entropy & Mirrors" Feinman among the authors of the first two studies.

It's shameful really, that nobody in the mainstream media can even look up from their coffee and smell the ketotic stench.  Speaking of that (coffee) ... with WARNING regarding profanity, and w/o specific endorsement (also, Harley needs to learn about gluconeogenesis!) -- aaaaannnnd veering somewhat off topic -- I bring you Durian Rider discussing the recent ABC Catalyst program:

Oh ... and in case you don't follow me on Twitter or FB ... Look who bumped into the big Kahuna of low carbers himself recently!!  

Top two:   Early July 2012 2nd month of Nutritional Ketosis
Bottom:  November 2014 2.5 years of NuttyK

Forgive me please.  If I didn't get little chuckle over this nonsense every now and then, I'd probably cry!!  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

De novo Lipogenesis to Palmitoleic Acid ~ Teaspoon? Might as Well Measure with a Cup!!

This is a minor side thought prompted by the recent Volek saturated fat - turns out to be monounsaturated fat - paper and comments Volek has made to the press.  The same general comments have been repeated in various outlets.  In the study, subjects were first put on a VLC (< 50 g/day) diet (six weeks including half that of "run in") and then carbs were exchanged for fat incrementally every three weeks until the final carb levels were roughly equivalent to starting levels at around 350 g/day.  I'll definitely have something to say about the study itself, but the "major" groundbreaking result of the study was that the levels of the 16 C monounsaturated fatty acid -- that is produced by desaturating the palmitic acid product of de novo lipogenesis -- dropped with carb restriction and gradually came back up as carbs were re-introduced.  
An increase in this fatty acid indicates that a growing proportion of carbohydrates is being converted into fat instead of being burned by the body, the researchers said.
"When you consume a very low-carb diet your body preferentially burns saturated fat," Volek said.          
source (though it's been repeated everywhere)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

That New Volek (& Phinney) Study: Part I The Journal Article & The Headlines

Yes folks! Yet another study has hit the presses to tell you everything you thought you knew about nutrition is wrong, wrong and more wrong!! 

The Journal Article

Brittanie M. Volk, Laura J. Kunces, Daniel J. Freidenreich, Brian R. Kupchak, Catherine Saenz, Juan C. Artistizabal, Maria Luz Fernandez, Richard S. Bruno, Carl M. Maresh, William J. Kraemer, Stephen D. Phinney, Jeff S. Volek.

Count 'em ... a dozen authors.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Please pardon the appearance

I was looking at something, accidentally applied another template, and lost a bunch of stuff.  I was planning on switching things up a bit at some point but not now!  Ahh well ... this will have to do unless there are major readability issues.  Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fat Burning 101 -- The Biochemistry

Laugh if you get it!

In comments on my last Thermodenyics post, I made the following statement:
The β-oxidation + Krebs part is the "metabolism" of fatty acids resulting in production of some heat, some ATP, and a large number of so-called "reducing equivalents" that will produce much more ATP (cellular energy currency) in the Electron Transport Chain. You don't see mass escaping your body, but the carbons that were originally contained in the larger fatty acid molecules are exhaled as carbon dioxide. Atkins' original claim was that enough molecules escaped the Krebs cycle and were excreted before being fully metabolized for their caloric content. The vast majority of β-oxidation to burn fat for energy occurs in organs like the heart and skeletal muscle. Once a fatty acid is committed to the β-oxidation pathway they are oxidized completely down to carbon dioxide.
In comments, Kindke quoted that last bolded line and inquired:
I'm interested in this comment, can it be explained in more detail, ......where does it come from? ..... and from what references does it gain support?
I began responding in regards to just that statement, but it requires context and thus I thought it better to make a blog post out of the expanded topic instead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Protein Power Plan: Keto? Paleo Inspired?

A little detour into the Protein Power book by Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades, 1996.  Was looking at a few things sparked by the thermodynamics posts he's made, and was surprised by a few things in the PP book that I had never even skimmed until now.  This post didn't fit the thermo topic, so I thought I'd mention this separately (and there may be another post or two coming as time permits).

I had never heard of the Eades or their books until I found the low carb community in 2009.  While Atkins remains the primary low carb diet, the PP book/plan is high up on the list for second place, and Eades' blog was still uber popular at that time.

Circa 2009 the low carb mantras of the day were largely focused on:

  • Up the fat intake
  • Fat can't make you fat
  • You can't get fat or gain fat weight without eating carbs, so even if you don't lose more weight, at least you won't gain.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Examine Research Digest!

Before I discuss the latest product from the folks, just a quick update.  For the past several months I have been dealing with the life struggles that come along with aging parents (around eighties).  It's been rough.  It's not a subject matter for this blog.   But newer readers may not be aware of my "falling off" as I'm still somewhat prolific by blogging standards these days.  Longer time readers may be wondering why I haven't been around nearly as much.  In addition to these personal things, I'm reviewing a manuscript for a book and still trying to get some of my own projects out of the door (or back out there in the case of Restriction Addiction).  I do still read all of the comments here, but responding on my phone which is how I check most times, is next to impossible (I just don't do teensy touch keypads and thumbs well).  I want to thank you all for remaining respectful overall even when contentious topics come up.  There have been so many interesting discussions/debates going on, and I think lots of helpful insights and such have been shared here of late.  Thank you for contributing!  Hopefully I can get back to responding more in the near future.

OK ... so the main reason for my post today is to alert you to a brand new product from the folks at called the

a monthly publication looking at recent studies and hot topics.   First of all, when my friend Sol Orwell sent me a preview I was blown away with how beautiful it is!  So well done, I know you'll be impressed.  This is geared towards those with an interest in nutrition from the lay person on up through health and fitness professionals.  Think Life Magazine for your nutrition life!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thermodenyics in the Incestral Health Community: It Began with Atkins

For the past couple of months, I've been somewhat obsessing about thermodynamics having written the AARR piece and a few blog posts, not to mention revisiting several dating back to near the beginnings of this blog.  I began this a while ago as a single lengthy post, but it's gotten out of hand and finding time to tidy up such a post vs. publishing shorter chunks in parts became impossible.  Not sure how many parts this will have.  This series will put several members of the IHC "on the record" so to speak.  While I've done so in the past, the hope is to have it all in one place.

Robert Atkins the Calorie Guy!   

Surely Atkins is an honorary member of the IHC, even though he passed away over a decade ago before this community reached the level that it has.  Most of the "greats" have learned something (perhaps essentially everything) they know about low carb diets and tangentially about thermodynamics/calorie theory from the "late great one" himself.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ancestral Diet Dishonesty ~ AHS14 Edition ~ Derectumfying Paleoism ~ Part II

In Part I, I discussed the first three of four talks at the recent Ancestral Health Symposium that were actually devoted to -- or supposed to be in some fashion -- "ancestral diets".  The IHC has a long history of co-opting select aspects of such dietary practices to fit the current interpretation of the hunter-gatherer-inspired way.  If the deluge of cookbooks from all corners are any indication, there will be no letting up soon of the trend to cauliflowpaleoize all "inferior" but nonetheless delicious and often cultural staple foods.   But now, in a most bizarre twist, we've reached the point where imposing "paleofied" versions of ancestral diets on these very peoples went off without a hitch, or seemingly any notice of the supreme irony of it all.

This assault on ancient humanity was culminated in a presentation by Gideon Mailer, PhD.  I took a screenshot of his title slide for visual impact here.  So that you won't need to clienlarge, the credo below the AHS peartichocock (I think it looks like a cross between an artichoke and a peacock) reads:  "the human ecological niche and modern health" .

When the AHS Program was first announced and I read the abstract for this talk, I knew folks were in for a load of garbage.  
How can a professor in the humanities - and not the sciences - raise awareness about ancestral health principles within a large public research institution? How can young college students - many from wheat/soy-growing economies - learn about ancestral health principles through the early-US history survey course? And why is Minnesota an ideal testing ground? The University of Minnesota system benefits from public-private partnerships between its scientific research and agricultural grain interests. Yet two prominent groups in the state - Scandinavian descendants and Native Americans - are particularly amenable to ancestral health principles. By studying early-American history (c.1400-1900) many of these and other groups might "Decolonize the Diet", moving away from grains, legumes, and a low-fat paradigm - a new and exciting project uniting the historical study of early America and contemporary health initiatives in the Great Lakes region.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ancestral Diet Dishonesty ~ AHS14 Edition ~ Derectumfying Paleoism ~ Part I

This post has been a long time in coming.  Bits and pieces have been in the draft since long before the Ancestral Health Symposium this past August even took place.  The abstracts and bios had been online for quite some time prior, so I had a pretty good idea of what was to transpire.  Indeed, I had intended to blog on this before AHS14 just to "compare notes" after all was said and done and had done quite a bit of research.

For an organization and event containing the words "ancestral health", the program in general seemed lacking in relevant material.  Paleo was a less often heard term this year, yet it was sadly not replaced by discussions of more recent and/or definable ancestral diets.  You know ... those that promoted health up until, in many cases, the 20th century and beyond?  

The nods to discussion of the lifestyles of ancestral cultures were clustered together on Day Two of the symposium, all of the shorter 20 minute variety, there along the right side of my screen shot at right. This was announced around the time I had been reviewing The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, wherein she misrepresented the traditional diets of just about everyone she discussed in her book.  But most prominently, were the diets of those indigenous to North America whom she described as subsisting practically entirely on buffalo meat from sea to shining sea.  I was also deep into researching the truth about Ancel Keys, prompted by the hatchet job done on him at the hands of Teicholz.  Thus, the second two presentations caught my eye.  They will be the focus of this post, but I'll include all four in summary, for reasons that should become clear.  (Each heading to follow links directly to the YouTube video, the abstracts and bios are from the preceding AHS14 program link.)