The Death of Critical Thinking in the LLVLC World

A little history for those who haven't been following along here for very long.  I did my "planned cheats" and VLC plan from sometime in the summer of 2007 through spring 2009 doing essentially Atkins Induction with a few tweaks on VLC days from memory.  I did not tell anyone.  I did not seek any support.  I just went about my merry way.  I lost most of the weight in the first 10 months or so and lost very slowly to where I'd plateaued (and perhaps started to regain?) out in 2009.  It was then that I looked to the internet for answers.  I had never heard of other LC plans (e.g. Eades & Protein Power) or the Messiah himself Gary Taubes.  

At that time, Jimmy Moore's LLVLC Discussion Board seemed to match my fancy more than others, although I have registrations and read at Active LC'ers and Low Carb Friends, as well as following the goings on at a number of LC blogs.  If you're not a member of the LLVLC "wing" of the LowCarbOSphere, perhaps you feel that I'm unfair here at times pinning the goings on of this community and it's satellite friends on the whole "movement" such as it is.  That is fair.  Perhaps this post will serve as a wake up call to all of you who feel passionate to up your own volume and be heard.

Because nobody needs to be around very long these days to realize that the message is being dominated by one "voice" -- parroted by many -- and the days of any sort of critical thinking are gone.  All, of course, in the context of being smarter than the rest of all those dumb researchers when it comes to the causes and treatments for obesity.  

Anyway, I joined up and became a rather prolific poster over at Jimmy's forum.  Almost from the outset, however, I was reading certain "drone mantra" like posts about insulin and calories not counting and all that.  These didn't jive with my recollections from Anatomy & Physiology classes or my understanding of the basic laws of physics such as conservation of mass and energy.  I think the first thing I ever asked to get some critical thinking going over there on these issues was "where does the fat go?"  To this day, there has never been a satisfactory answer given though others besides me have posed the same question.  This remains the defining problem with Taubes' theories.  It wouldn't be all that important were it not for legions of low carbers who remain overweight/obese or worse yet are gaining despite "doing everything right" (except for eating less) who are now being duped into believing this is the best they can do with their "damaged metabolisms".

In any case, one of the reasons I started this blog was because I got tired of the continual strife over at Jimmy's any time someone would post something incorrect and -- cuz I yam who I yam -- ol' CarbSane here (aka Low Carb Cheater) felt compelled to weigh in with the truth.  Since the inception of this blog, and certainly over the last months or so, my contributions there had dropped off quite a bit.  Most of the time I just read a few personal journals of those to whom I related and wanted to try to help "make it to the other side" as I feel I've done.  Still, I would not avoid scientific discussions when they came about.

Where am I going with this?  Well, for the past few months weird things were afoot on Jimmy's forum.  I'll blog on that at some point as I think it provides insight into a degree of collusion that exists amongst Jimmy and his friends to dominate the agenda.  This was first made evident to me back when Fred Hahn went out on patrol to shout down anyone who dares question the great Gary Taubes, and landed here around a year ago.

I think it was around a year ago, perhaps longer, that one of my comments on Jimmy's blog never made it to publication.  I think it may have been a little critical, but it was civil and well intended so I wrote Jimmy about it.  In his response he said he didn't know what happened because he only rarely censors highly inflammatory posts.  I began noticing that in the past few months, more of my comments were getting "lost".  Those specifics are also a subject for another day, but what inspired this post is that it's obviously not just happening to me.  

This much has been clear for a while now.  If a thread gets contentious on his LLVLC board, it is the non-LC dogmatist who is inciting things.  If it's on his blogs, he occasionally even highlights such posts and calls the commenter an ignoramus or other such unflattering descriptive.  Everything's all fine and dandy when Jimmy's in the midst of his latest weight loss scheme.  Go Jimmy! You inspire!  Congrats!  Hip hip hooray!!  Such was the nature of things when Jimmy did a (yet another) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED in January.  He vowed to eat nothing but beef, coconut oil and eggs until April 1 in his (lost count how many) latest quest to re-attain his goal of 230 lbs (even though he had reached the low 210's at one point).  All was going swimmingly though Jimmy bent his own rules adding in "a little" dark chocolate.  Go look at one of those big Cadbury bars, or a baggie of my favorite chocolate treat, Lindor Truffles.  Some days he was eating 6oz, that's more than a whole bag of those aforementioned truffles my friends!  As March rolled around, Jimmy veered off course and basically ate off plan more than on that month.  April 1 came and went like April Fools Day with nary a mention of what was going on.  At least Jimmy was still posting his weights but he missed his goals both in outcome and implementation.  Later that month he went on a 6 day fast that yours truly and many others tried to discourage him from doing.  Why?  Because we knew what would happen.  EVERY one of Jimmy's extreme schemes for weight loss have resulted in a rebound.  Many have tried to save Jimmy from himself but he'll have none of it. After all .... he's still not convinced that calories have anything to do with weight loss!

FF to his return from the cruise.  His ever less frequent weight reports ceased as did the running weight log for the past several months.   That was expunged from the menus blog.   The "it's for my health" thing was brought back with a vengeance which sparked me to write my LC Morphing to HAES series.  Somehow, nobody commented on these changes there.  Really?  It seems rather more likely that many commented and Jimmy just sent them to the trash bin.

Now, let me be clear.  Every blog owner is within their rights to publish or delete whatever they want.  But don't claim to publish all but the most derogatory comments and then censor negative commentary.  Or, worse yet, commentary that is intended to be helpful but counters your myopic view.

So ... what sparked this post?  Oh ... it's been brewing for a while.  

Since well before I was summarily "dismissed" from his forum I've noticed an increase in the circling of the wagons, cult-like repetition of mantras, and outright shouting down of any so-called dissent.  Speaking of my banning from his forum, it was not for anything I ever said there mind you, but within hours of pointing out what he himself has addressed on more than one occasion:  that many LLVLC'ers are still heavy.  Can't have any truth get in the way of all that selfless "helping people" stuff I suppose.

So it was the other night that I was up in the wee hours (not from insomnia thankfully but b/c hubby had to be up at that hour) that my Google Reader notifier registered 2 new comments over at Jimmy's blog.  As the man continues his crusade against the USDA recommendations -- because as you just know they are the cause of his obesity -- and questioning the motivations of one member (I seem to remember that it's "unprofessional" or somehow otherwise unseemly to do that) of the panel based on comments she made in Israel we have the rah rah crowd joining in on their criticism.  Just about every comment on his blog these days is the choir chiming in.  But I had to check those two that flickered across my screen ...
Comment on 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee Member Joanne Slavin: ‘There Is No Scientific Basis For The U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ by Fred Rodgersby Fred Rodgers
I hardly find it surprising that those in governmental nutritional circles are ignoring low carb – it doesn’t work! In the context of the current obesity epidemic, I think most would agree that what is needed is a way of eating that is (a) sustainable and (b) EFFECTIVE for weight loss. Low carb is, frankly, neither. As proof I offer up your own menus blog: You no longer post your weight (hmm…wonder why?) and have come out stating (I paraphrase) that, to you, LC is about “health, not weight loss”. WOW. When did that paradigm shift come about? I don’t think I’m being overly cynical – or rude, for that matter – when I make the simple observation that LC has failed you, so the basic question is why keep steering others down the same (ultimately) dead-end road?

Comment on 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee Member Joanne Slavin: ‘There Is No Scientific Basis For The U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ by Jimmy Mooreby Jimmy Moore
Lots of assumptions there Freddy.

I was rather shocked at the time -- rubbed my eyes and pinched myself to make sure I was awake -- that Jimmy would even publish Fred's comment here.  Gotta love the flippant response.   But sometime after this Jimmy had a change of heart and deleted the exchange.  Too bad because Fred had a very valid point.  Why is it so many are so ardently advocating for a change in nutritional recommendations when these are NOT working for them in the long run?  This was my issue with Amy Dungan because she has not just the one, but two sets of before and after pictures floating out there on zee internet with her "success story".  All the while it has been many years -- probably the bulk of the decade she claims to have been low carbing and loving it -- since she's weighed in at or below even her initial before weight.  (This, BTW is what happened to me after my first success with Atkins and I wouldn't in a million years have thought of advocating the diet to anyone when I was heavier/larger than when I started).

In the midst of turning tides in the paleo movement away from the high fat/no starch or sugar model, LLVLC is hunkering down, trying to co-opt as much of the remaining VLC/HF faction of paleo out there as it can, and doing everything in its power to promote a monolithic view of the "proper" way to eat a low carbohydrate diet.  In the absence of weight loss success they are moving the goal posts towards the health paradigm in cult-like fashion and anyone who doesn't buy in is extricated and intimidated.

One has to ask themselves why this might be.  Me thinks it's the whole painting oneself into a corner thing at play here.

Although I'm much more liberal with my carbs these days,  I still consider myself to generally be a low carber.  I also would not rule out another stint doing the VLC diet that brought me the success it has thusfar because it might just work its magic again after this prolonged stint of loosening things up.  We'll see.   Or ... I may even experiment with becoming a bona fide ex-low carber!  There's no room for people like me in the LLVLC world even though I remain "high on" low carb diets as one potential strategy to shed excess weight.  

I know I am not alone.  In the coming days I hope to provide a place that will foster a change in all of that....


Mirrorball said…
"In the coming days I hope to provide a place that will foster a change in all of that...."

Please do it. We need a place where open-minded people can discuss science, real science, without cherry picking, and away from the influence of all nutritional gurus.
markgillespie said…
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markgillespie said…
"the days of any sort of critical thinking are gone. All, of course, in the context of being smarter than the rest of all those dumb researchers when it comes to the causes and treatments for obesity."

You have previously posted about the Low Carb wannabe guru Zoe Harcombe and this is so true of her forum. They post every day about how stupid the rest of the world is and how they know the truth yet her forum is littered with people confused as to why they are not losing weight. I'd desperately love to get on there and tell them (though I doubt they would listen, the Kool Aid is strong over there!) but I was barred soon after I originally joined for asking awkward questions.
Anonymous said…
'I wouldn't in a million years have thought of advocating the diet to anyone when I was heavier/larger than when I started'

But it's the science! You can advocate simply based on the strength of the science, no matter where you stand in your weight loss journey.

No other diet has 'science' behind it. If they claim that, obviously they are wrong. They don't know. (If this was a religion, substitute some suitable term for 'science.' Perhaps, 'divine inspiration,' 'the BOOK (in this case, DANDR or GCBC).'

You were lost, but now you're found. Then lost again.
Thomas said…
Jimmy appears to be a food addict with a financial interest in low carb. Don't expect him to change any time soon. He is not unique, this is very common. Beware the incredible claims (with obvious average results) of those with a financial interest in those claims (this is true of nutrition, supplements, drugs...anything).
Debbie Cusick said…
I've never taken a look at the LLVLC message boards so have no clue what they are like, but I automatically dislike any sort of place that doesn't allow civilized dissent. I am active on the Active LC'ers boards as I find an interesting variety of opinions there. I guess people can be banned there but I think you'd have to be pretty extreme or confrontational for that to happen. But you have people there who are zero-carbers, Atkins followers, devotees of Matt Stone, Ray Peat, Jan Kwasniewski, paleo of various ilks, experimenters with starches and sugars ...

I have my own mixed feelings about low carb. It enabled me to lose about 30% of my starting bodyweight, and to do so while still feeling good and enjoying my food every day - something no other eating plan I'd tried over the last 30 years or more ever allowed. It also helped me gain much better blood sugar control. But on the other hand I'm also one of those whose weight loss has stalled for almost two years now far short of my goal, and the various things I've tried (fewer carbs, more carbs, less fat, more fat, less protein, more protein, less exercise, more exercise, eliminating dairy, eliminating nuts, adding in starches....) have not kick-started my weight loss journey any further. I think eating too low in the carb chain also exacerbated my hypothyroidism.

So I'm casting a wider net now - looking for that "perfect" plan that will get my weight loss moving again (without being hungry all the time - which is not a lifetime option for me), keep my blood sugar under control, optimize my thyroid health...but so far no luck in finding it. :-) So yeah, I'm not a LLVLCer but I'm still heavy. I have a lot of sympathy for Jimmy. I know full well what it's like to be a food addict. I know he has issues. Don't we *all* with something or other. But I still think he's done amazingly well considering where he started from.

Just curious? Do you not believe in the possibility of "broken metabolisms"?
Sanjeev said…
> wannabe guru Zoe Harcombe and this is so
> true of her forum

ZH commented inaccurately on some of James Krieger's posts.

Naturally not wanting to be mis-quoted, James went to her forum & tried to set the record straight.

the funniest thing was the claim James had no right to be on the forum.

yeah, objecting to people mis-quoting him and then criticizing the mis-quotes was unconscionable.

The groupthink, wagon-circling and continual flow of straw men was just amazing.
Sanjeev said…
is there actually food addiction?

For those familiar with Jimmy's writing & history, maybe you can tell me if he exhibits a touch (or more) of compulsivity.
Thomas said…
"Just curious? Do you not believe in the possibility of "broken metabolisms"?"

scall0way asks a good question here. The word "broken metabolism" is thrown around the diet world with such ease, it's almost as if we are all supposed to know exactly what it means. In fact, it feels like a LC/paleo cliche anymore. What is a broken metabolism exactly? Does this refer to a diabetic? Insulin resistance? Hypothyroid? Someone who has trouble losing weight? All of the above? Or is it just someone who hasn't figured out that calories and activity do count?
markgillespie said…
Sanjeev, it was me that first posted links to James Krieger's site on there to challenge some of Zoe's nonsense. When he saw how many views he was getting from her site he wandered over to see what was going on which is when all that went down. That was partly why I was also banned as they assumed I invited him to go on and cause havoc which I didn't, though it was great fun to watch!
LynMarie Daye said…
Zoe Harcombe gave one of the best examples of the "begging the question" fallacy I've ever seen.

In her contribution to Jimmy Moore's blog article about James Krieger's Insulin Myths series, Zoe wrote the following about James' assertion that the body can store fat even when insulin levels are low:

"Myth 2 – there are other things that can impact fat storage and fat burning, but all pale into insignificance compared with insulin. Insulin is the big daddy of fat storage so don’t worry about the minor players."

Its beauty is in its subtlety!

(I feel like I'm channeling Sanjeev with this post...)

Rad Warrier said…
I am a type 2 diabetic whose blood sugar levels are well under control mainly through exercise and diet, and perhaps helped a little by the daily consumption of 750 mg of Metformin. I believe I will not be considered a "low carber" because, even after living in the West for well over a decade and being diagnosed a diabetic more than five years ago, I choose to continue with my traditional south Indian vegetarian diet. After the diagnosis of diabetes, I tweaked my diet a little - reduced overall food intake a little, reduced rice consumption also a little, and 'upped' my curry intake significantly - but in essence, the diet continues to be a modified version of the south Indian vegetarian. Calorie in - calorie out works extremely well for me. I didn't have much weight to lose, and managed to lose around 7 kg over the past 5 years through exercise, partly helped also by a little diet restriction. As would be clear by now, exercise is the "cornerstone" of my blood sugar control strategy.

Recently, I happened to read a post from a low-carber in a diabetes related e-forum where he declares that exercise is not part of his strategy for blood sugar control. Here is an excerpt from his post: "After diagnosis, we only focus again on this "overflow" glucose while the actual problem is EXCESS glucose or glucose throughput. Among other things, metabolizing glucose (successfully) produces excess Methyl Glyoxate which has been implicated in progression - both IR and beta cell death. Using exercise as a significant part of your control regimen might actually be counter-productive (although good for you in other ways), since this only allows you to metabolize more glucose while still keeping your meter happy." [Emphasis mine]

In another post in another diabetes related e-forum, he discusses this Methyl Glyoxate which is claimed to be a by-product of glucose metabolism and which is also claimed to do all vile things including causing us to age.

What is this Methyl Glyoxate? How did it become such a vile villain that it is claimed to be?

CarbSane said…
Oh Mark, I remember that! I think James linked to it here in the comments somewhere. It's sort of like the nonsense Peter pulled and Kurt went on his rampage accusing me of trolling for commenting on the blogs of others when he blogged about me and let some pretty nonsensical discussions about me run wild on his blog. Ahh well. At this point I doubt Jimmy would even let my replies through should someone post a new comment on my interview with him.

Welcome Rad! I'll look into that. I don't recall ever hearing about such a compound being an end product of glucose metabolism. I do know that I've posted enough material here on carb overfeeding and even huge excesses are well tolerated for a time -- the "excesses" in such diets are any fats consumed.

@scall0way & Tom: I have a post in the works entitled just that - The Damaged Metabolism. I started it months ago and it's just been sitting there awaiting finishing touches, so I'll exhume it some time this coming week.

s0w, I have some other thoughts on this to share because I think many people are confusing telling it like it is with lack of empathy. Indeed Sanjeev hits on what's going on with Jimmy -- and many others in the LC community. It's my belief that yo-yo dieting is a form of bulimia on a longer time scale. Whether folks binge or not, gaining or losing more than say 10 lbs or so repeatedly and an inability to maintain a relatively stable body weight IS likely due to psychological issues not physiological ones. Eating disorders are by definition disordered eating habits. Jimmy has an eating disorder, but since he doesn't seem to even admit that to himself, I don't see his gaining any sort of control over this any time soon.
Tom said…
@Scall0way, Thomas, Carbsane, I'm curious as to why it's called "damaged" metabolism and not "efficient" metabolism. It seems to me that if your body is doing more with less, that's generally a good thing, even though it's working against weight loss.

Looking forward to the metabolism post! :-)
Sanjeev said…
methylglyoxal, not oxalate.

or click here

rat study so it's an interesting clue to pursue doesn't prove anything about humans

but it's interesting how a lot of the low carbers are seizing on this as proof positive carbs are teh evilz for all humans.
OnePointFive said…
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OnePointFive said…
Lots of info on methylglyoxal, most of it beyond me, in this full thesis from the same university as the rat study
MM said…
Jimmy is accepting challenges? I'm tempted to challenge to to *actually* eat according to the USDA guidelines rather than scarfing down Coke, mac & cheese, and Little Debbies. I can't believe he really thinks he was eating according to the pyramid then. Scary. I suppose that challenge would be smacked down in short order, and I'm not sure it's worth bothering. I'm sure Jimmy would give the excuse that his "damaged metabolism" couldn't handle that many carbs. I'm not saying the guidelines are perfect, but I think they may actually be better than what he's currently eating.

In generally when I see low carbers write about "damaged metabolism" it is in reference to having blood sugar spikes after eating a relatively small amount of carbs, like 20 grams. But as you've pointed out, CarbSane, eating low carb actually causes this phenomenon. You can't tell them that, though.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
RE Methylglyoxal (MG): MG is a glycolysis inhibitor which also makes cells insulin resistant, so it's present under two different conditions.

1) Excessively high intake of dietary carbohydrates, which fills liver & muscle cells' glycogen to the brim, which makes them insulin resistant in order to reduce their glucose intake, to prevent them from becoming over-stuffed with glycogen.

2) Excessively low intake of dietary carbohydrates, which depletes liver & muscle cells' glycogen, which makes them insulin resistant in order to reduce their glucose intake, to spare glucose for the brain & red blood cells. See Methylglyoxal on Atkins... Uh oh!
Sanjeev said…
Tom wrote...
@Scall0way, Thomas, Carbsane, I'm curious as to why it's called "damaged" metabolism and not "efficient" metabolism.
If those with the damage could be shown to be equally or more healthy, efficient would make sense.

But since it probably leads to suboptimal health (notwithstanding Sandy Sczwarc) ...
Sanjeev said…
Thanks Nigel

I had forgotten that blog post. Interesting ... methylglyoxal causing bad effects in rats PROVEs carbs are bad for humans, another rat study showing raised methylglyoxal on low carb is a completely absolutely invalid study done by "THEM(TM) that ride in black helicopters"(TM) to slander Atkins.

Yes, it's hyperbole. Sue me.

Why oh why oh WHY did I not see, BEFORE I got to my heaviest weight, that many low carbers are basically the same as the Bigfoot crowd, the UFO crowd, the anti-Vaxers?

With that thought process I bet some of these folks think X-files were documentaries
Debbie Cusick said…
"In generally when I see low carbers write about "damaged metabolism" it is in reference to having blood sugar spikes after eating a relatively small amount of carbs, like 20 grams. But as you've pointed out, CarbSane, eating low carb actually causes this phenomenon."

So what do you suggest telling them? I've actually found that adding a small amount of starch, like a potato a la Kwasniewski, gives me better blood sugar control that a super-low-carb diet. But when I hit higher carbs my blood sugar skyrockets. As examples - a meal with about 10-15g carbs might give me a blood sugar reading of 140-150 after 2 hours. But if I had in a small potato and increase the carbs to maybe 30-40g I actually can get a reading in the 120-130 range. But if the carbs per meal go up above the 50g range my blood sugar goes to something like 250! I do avoid gluten grains as I don't enjoy nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and GERD - all things I developed in my 40s that went away with a gluten-free diet, that I stumbled upon quite accidentally in those pre-google days of yore. I get my starches from potatoes, sweet potatoes, a little rice.

I do have issues though with denigrating any way of eating that works for people. There are a lot of very smart and savvy low carbers who are *nothing* like the Bigfoot crowd or the UFO crowd. Ditto for plenty of non-low-carbers. You can find proponents and detractors for just about any eating plan imaginable. I'm still trying to find ways to increase my carbs without totally trashing my blood sugar, but low carb did enable me to lose 110 pounds and keep it off for a couple years so far (even though I'm still fat) so I don't want to bash it too much. Nothing else ever worked for me and I was being pressured into bariatric surgery instead.

As for the idea of "damaged metabolism"? I think this is a very real issue. I don't think a woman who weighs 140 pounds and would dearly love to be 125 pounds has a damaged metabolism, per se. But someone who weighs 400 pounds clearly has issues that go well beyond what you put in your mouth.

My brother-in-law is an example. Not that he is 400 pounds! But at 6'2" and 250 pounds he weighs more than he would like, but can't seem to shift an ounce. My sister (his wife) is 6 feet tall and weighs about 145 pounds. And she says she doesn't understand it as she knows what he eats, and says he really doesn't eat much more than she does. But he also has a severe hypothyroid condition that 10-15 years of Synthroid has not seemed to fix in any way.
Sanjeev said…
scall0way said...
There are a lot of very smart and savvy low carbers who are *nothing* like the Bigfoot crowd or the UFO crowd
yes, completely true. I was speaking of that small subset to whom I gave a "pass" on my critical thinking - that small extreme set that does get into the conspiracy theories and the special pleadings and so on.
Anonymous said…
When I google 'Is there a broken metabolism,' I get pages and pages of bloggers and websites attempting to propose that yes, you can break your metabolism and HERE'S how to fix it.

But I don't see any pubmed entries popping up, so I look forward to Carbsane's post about this. In pubmed itself, I don't see any entries that reference the problem (it WOULD be a problem) of a 'broken metabolism.' Is there a study produced by a scientist that actually shows this exists, and I just haven't used the right search argument?

How can a term that is so bandied about, as if it were fact, not be defined and the existence of the mechanism, or even just the condition, not proven?

It may not be Bigfoot, but at least with Bigfoot, you could take a picture!
Sanjeev said…
eulerandothers wrote...
When I google 'Is there a broken metabolism,'
The closest I've read were James Krieger's posts about the formerly obese having metabolism reduced/slowed below the metabolism of the equal-weight never-obese
Anonymous said…

I do read (the free stuff of) James Krieger.

What I found was this, and, if anything, it reinforced my belief that you need to move your body to fight tendencies toward obesity.

In particular, in the comment posted by Krieger in this article:

'It's difficult to say if people are, in essence, 'doomed forever.' I don't think anyone is doomed forever. However, it is very likely that a formerly obese person will always have to work harder to keep the weight off than a person who has never had a weight problem. Like a type 1 diabetic who will always need to be on insulin, someone who used to be obese will need to maintain certain habits to help keep the weight from creeping back.

There is some evidence that endurance exercise can actually increase NEAT activity in animals. However, it is not known whether this is true in humans. If this does happen in humans, it's possible that regular endurance training over an extended period of time could help meaintain unconscious levels of physical activity throughout the day.'

I agree with every bit of that. It's not that anything is broken, or damaged (that's the only thing I would add.)

It's that if you want maintenance, you need to maintain something! Actively maintain. Emphasis on the active. You want the skinny body with the habits of the fat person, good luck with THAT....