Carbs or Cals for Weight Loss? Another Shai'ster shoots himself in the foot

Presentations from the Ancestral Health Symposium are up.  I'm a bit bugged by the fact that they focus on the speaker and don't show the slides.  It makes it hard to follow.  But beggars can't be choosers.  There are also slides up elsewhere, but not for all the presentations, and as of this posting there are none for the subject of this blog.

So who am I calling a Shai'ster this time?  Dr. Mike Eades, that's who.  Yeah yeah, it's not nice to call names but loosen up a bit if your loin cloth or edible pemmican panties just crawled up your butt ... it's a play on words folks!  

Eades AHS presentation was entitled  "Nouvelle Paleo: Caving in to Carbs?", and at the 20:45 mark, he begins to "discuss a couple of studies" that are going to explain why he's playing hide-the-middle-aged-belly behind the podium.  I'm thinking many of  my readers are as distracted as I am by this.  I know I just can't help myself from wondering if he's got a mirddle on under there, because he sure hasn't been following his artificial sweetener laced dairy protein so-not-Paleo cure of late.  But I digress ...

The discussion of the first study he admittedly rips right from the blog (and past lectures) of Gary Taubes and is regarding the infamous Shai study comparing the weight loss and changes in several other metabolic markers for three different diets:  LF, Mediterranean and LC.  For those who are new to this blog, I've done two prior posts on this issue:
Gary Taube$**, Shai'ster :  This post discusses how Taubes totally ignores one-third of the data collected in this study, and how when you compare the results for the Mediterranean diet to LC, the conclusions would be diametrically opposite to those drawn by Taubes.  Bottom line, if dietary records are to be believed, the Mediterranean diet produced comparable weight loss from about the 1 year mark on out to the LC diet despite reportedly consuming the most carbs (and yes, calories) of all groups.
Calories, fat or carbohydrates? Why diets work (when they do):  This post was directly related to the Taubes blog post from which Eades gets this part of the lecture.  Despite admitting that self-report dietary records are to be taken with a grain of salt, Taubes -- with his meticulous scientific methods -- proceeds to take them as proof that, again, if we ignore one third of the data, it is carb restriction that produces weight loss and not calorie restriction.
There are ultimately two issues with Shai.  It is a long-term free-living study and the intake reporting is far less than ideal for even that method of assessing it.  There are all sorts of problems with the reported intakes and the weights within a study group, let alone trying to compare.  For example, the LC'ers ate induction levels of carbs for two months followed by the "climbing the Atkins rungs".  And yet they continued to lose through six months before they rebounded significantly despite reporting the same or slightly more carb restriction.   But ultimately Shai does not make the point Eades is parroting to make.  By one year, the weight loss of MDTN and LC was a statistical dead heat and yet the MDTN group restricted carbs the least of the three groups.  

But perhaps in acknowledgement that Shai was not a controlled study, Eades goes on to discuss this study:
Separate effects of reduced carbohydrate intake and weight loss on atherogenic dyslipidemiaKrauss
Now, right off the bat I'm already dozing off because we've got another free-living study and you can have all the phone chats and weigh-in's you like, it's difficult to verify compliance.  They were given menus and frozen meals for lunch and dinner, but prepared their own breakfasts and snacks.  OK ... but let's even say they complied fully.  Here's what they did for the relevant part of the study (carb vs. calorie restriction).  
  • 1 week weight stable usual diet - 54% carb
  • 3 relevant study groups, 3 weeks weight maintenance levels, macro %'s C/P/F
    • 54/16/30
    • 39/29/31
    • 26/29/46   {perhaps there was a bit of alcohol or fiber where the #'s don't add up}
  • 5 weeks weight loss at approx 1000 calorie deficit on same diet composition
  • 4 weeks stabilization at reduced weight on same diet composition
As he starts to describe the study I'm thinking "Am I the only one who would have been thinking to myself "this doesn't sound right" as it was coming out of my mouth?"  There are times when you teach without notes, as I often tend to do,  that a "don't" becomes a "do" or you transpose words like "extrinsic" and "intrinsic" and such.  Statistics, where double negatives such as not-unusual are the appropriate terms compared to what we'd say in plain English (e.g. usual), is an especially tongue twisting subject to teach at times.  But when that happens something clicks as I hear my own voice ... I stop ... I take a deep breath ... and I carefully restate what it was I originally intended to.  But no ... so caught up in his schtick is Eades, that it doesn't even occur to him that he's making the exact opposite point with this study.  I guess he's so excited that a few lipid improvements were seen without weight loss that he doesn't see that the study design and results blow his parroting of Taubes -- not to mention his own preachings from the pulpit of the Church of Latter Day MAD* -- right out of the water.

You see, they took these men, monitored their diet at 54% carb for a week to assess weight stable caloric intake.  They then kept the calories constant and changed up the macronutrient content of the diet with the intent of maintaining weight.  The carb restricted diets did result in slight losses in both groups, even rising to the level of statistical significance in the 26% carb group.  But I'll have to take Eades' word for it that they had a hard time getting the low carbers to eat all of their food (I don't see any mention of this and it's likely he got this from  Presuming they did eat a bit less, would this suprise anyone?  The protein intake was almost doubled in both LC groups, but perhaps fat is just not all that palatable after all to most people in very high quantities.  This is actually the glory of LC diets as I've said repeatedly.  Spontaneous caloric reductions.  Still ... the losses are negligible even if one presumes they ate all their foods. (There was a fourth group that also consumed 26% carb but higher saturated fat for its consumption.  These folks lost less weight during the weight maintenance phase than the lower sat fat 26% group ...).   Still, these small losses are easily explained by water weight alone.  Before I move on, the 26% carb diet might not seem all that low carb to many, but Eades does the calculations and estimates that compared to baseline, these men consumed a cup of sugar's worth less in carbs.  That's a pretty significant carb restriction, and if it were just the carbs, this should have produced measurable losses.  I'm not sure if I should trust Eades math, but roll with me here.

Eades description of this phase as "feeding the heck out of them" is rather interesting because this was the amount of food required to maintain their obese state, but ...   So now, when did they lose weight?  When they "slashed" (again Mike's wording) the heck out of their calories.  Yep -- slashed!

When they imposed an approximately 1000 cal deficit (no change in activity level)  for five weeks, then each group lost a statistically similar roughly 5 kg = 11 lbs (interestingly enough, though not statistically significant, the high sat fat 26% group again lost the least weight at 4.8 kg vs. 5.3 for 54%, 5.0 for 39% and 5.4 for 26%/lowSF).  And I would note that the weight loss is approximately the 2 pounds/week one might expect from a 1000 cal/day deficit.  Of course Eades says he would still lay this "at the doorstep of carbohydrate restriction".  Huh??  I say, CICO 1- Lardo 0.

So you see, when one is looking to see if it is carb restriction or caloric restriction that leads to weight loss, there are lots of studies out there.  For all of Taubes' arrogant critique of Shai for not considering the other variable, it's just the same worn over bluster from a different blowhard in Dr. Eade$**.  I'm just shocked he didn't drag out the Grey & Kipnis study my readers are well familiar with!  With all those wild insulin swings he was bound to miss the point that ultimately calories ruled the day and determined weight stabilization or loss.  Oh!  I know.  That one was an actual metabolic ward study where intake was carefully controlled, and carb:fat content was swapped out at 1:1 to rather great extremes (~25% protein, ~75% carb or fat).  I guess one can find a way to dismiss it by chalking the results up to rampant cheating by the intellectually inferior misfits who tend to be the subjects of such studies. (Free virtual jerky for the person to find the link to that   snobbish claim on his blog).

So in conclusion folks, we have on our hands yet another Shai'ster, but this is nothing new to readers of this blog.  I find it utterly amusing that the title and overall message of Eades' lecture seems to be aimed at those in the paleo movement who are somehow selling out -- or "caving to carbs" as he puts it.  He implies this is some sort of addiction driven character weakness.   Really?  Just because he couldn't eat just one or two croissants on his recent vacation but rather gobbled down several and probably washed them down with his other caloric nemesis, it's really all you not-so-low-carb-after-all paleo sell-outs who have a problem.  Nevermind that when one looks at pictures from this event (a ton of which can be found here) you see quite a lean and healthy looking group overall.  One might even call them sprightly!  

And then there's Dr. Michael Eades.  C'est sous vide.

**  The Infamous $

I would like to address my past use of the $ in the spelling of Taubes' name, and the spelling of Eades' here.  The record needs to be set straight, (yes, again for those who haven't heard it before).  First of all as regards Taubes, this was only done in two posts here on this blog to my recollection.  Twice.  The second and final time was on 9/10/2010, the Shai'ster post discussed here ... closing rapidly in on one year ago!  Jimmy Moore picked up on that around a month later and invited me on his podcast which was taped 11/9 and aired in January.  At that time I had already acquired the texts that Taubes misrepresented in GCBC and thus was aware of far more professional malfeasance than I had revealed in the blog up to that point.  

I do not think that speculating that his near quarter of a million dollar advance to write GCBC -- not to mention royalties, speaker fees and such related to the book and his hypothesis -- influenced his judgment is out of line in any way.  I never said "he's in it just for the money" or some version of that.  I never picked on his personal attributes to discredit his writings.  I presented an awful lot of scientific evidence refuting his hypothesis, many times contained in his own references he claimed supported it.   I said his inability to come clean and correct the record is influenced by financial interests.  Now in his email to me, Gary stipulated that he'd rather chalk it up to the more "innocent" scholarly incompetence.  Therefore for the most part this is the aspect of Gary's work that I've been highlighting ever since.  I think this is more problematic for Gary since it undermines his credibility as a journalist to be exposed for gross misrepresentations of his references and giant lapses in research thoroughness, but this is what he apparently prefers.  

Still, for those few dollar signs, I got labeled a Gary Taubes hater and taunter.  Free advice flowed from far and wide the web on how if I wanted to be taken seriously I should produce droll matter of fact posts and keep the messenger (the old ad hominem charge) out of it.  Oh ... and keep your personality and cheeky humor to yourself please, especially if you insist on remaining anonymous (at the time).  How dare you attempt to write an entertaining blog someone might actually want to read.  No you non-believer you, attempts at witty commentary are only allowed on blogs we like.   I contend that had I taken that advice, the "shots heard round the LC web" these past few weeks may never have been fired.  From either side.  Or at the very least it would have taken longer to transpire.  Sometimes you need to be a little schticky not-so-sweet to get a message heard, so I'll just keep being me and let's see if we can't rid these discussions of the tired dogma and pony sales pitches for once and for all.  I'll keep on keeping on.  And does it really make much of a difference to many of you that you can now put a name, a few more pictures, and the exact nature of my degrees and education to the voice behind this blog?  Or did it give my detractors one less thing they could go homina hominem about ...

So I ceremonially transfer the $ to Dr. Michael Eades but this will be the first and last time I use it.  He has earned it though, what with his shameless promotion of a diet that isn't working for him, giving away soon-to-expire Metabosol, and whatnot.  Hope he stays preoccupied with his day job as an (overpriced) appliance salesman and leaves us moist eyed females to listening to our bodies without his creepy blogs encouraging us to wallow in lard.  {{{shudder}}}

With that said, I shall say this.  More than ever,  

I'm in the mood to kick a little ass  
~ Kate Mosely (Moira Kelly) in The Cutting Edge
So I say to you, let's
Kick ass on one on one  
~ Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) in The Replacements
OK somebody stop me LOL!


I thought of you when Wiley Long tweeted "An overweight speaker talking about weight loss. Wonder how often he ignores his own advice?" during Eades' presentation. But off the podium, I thought both Drs Eades looked fine.

What I thought more interesting was that Taubes and Eades had different explanations at AHS11 for why the Kitvans etc weren't fat eating high carb. For Taubes, it was carbs are bad after the metabolism is wrecked, likely by sugar; for Eades, the Kitavans et al were like your 90-year-old smoking grandfather. Curious!
Duffy Pratt said…
Good post. I have one quibble I have to bring up. You said:

"When they imposed an approximately 1000 cal deficit (no change in activity level) for five weeks, then each group lost a statistically similar roughly 5 kg = 11 lbs (interestingly enough, though not statistically significant, the high sat fat 26% group again lost the least weight at 4.8 kg vs. 5.3 for 54%, 5.0 for 39% and 5.4 for 26%/lowSF)."

It may be irresistible to take whatever shots you can at Eades' boneheadedness, but if it wasn't statistically significant, then it's irrelevant. And if it's irrelevant, I don't see how it could be interesting. That point applies even more so when the input data is as unreliable as you argue it is.
Christopher said…
YOU need to be at AHS next year, Evelyn.
CarbSane said…
Thanks Christopher!

@Duffy: Fair enough! If not stat.sig. it is not worth considering. Agree completely. However my mind works in strange ways and I was reminded of discussions on Shai where folks claimed that LC lost more than Med. Yes, essentially the same. And with short term studies, I've heard a zillion times something like: well they lost a pound more in 5 weeks, imagine if that had continued for longer! In this case for the 26% carb high total fat group, high SF lost 4.8, low SF lost 5.4 kg. It's not a big interest of mine, but I don't think weight loss differentials have been identified between types of fats, with the exception of significant substitution of MCT for long chain fatty acids.

So perhaps interesting is a poor choice of words. Something like "I would point out that if you're inclined to draw conclusions for trends, the high sat fat low carb diet fared the worst for weight loss in this study"
Tonus said…
I wonder if Eades' presentation came before or after Naughton's, which if I am not mistaken had to do with the way scientists and researchers misuse data to promote a conclusion?

Naughton's film was my first exposure to the LC and 'fat is not an enemy' approach, and since his premise is that we've been lied to for so long, it's weird to see how the LC community has evolved. There are blogs and blog comments from people announcing that Stephan Guyenet doesn't know anything about diabetes or metabolism, and how they no longer respect or trust him.

That's nice, mister anonymous internet layperson. I'm sure Stephan is crushed by your six-degrees-of-separation dismissal of his life's work! Once this blows over you can go back to chiding the general population for its dogmatic attachment to the church of low-fat, I guess.
bentleyj74 said…
I remember when Stephan leaned more low carb [as did many others] probably because of it's ability to control hyperinsulinemia [control but not fix as CS has posted at length about].

Watching him [and several others] reverse that position has been interesting.

The thing that really struck me and kind of embarrassed me in hindsight was how willing I was to take it on faith that HFLC was an optimal diet in terms of nutrition. A fact check from nutrition data disabused me of that notion pretty quickly.

High fat american style does not appear to be nutrient dense unless you go reeeeeeeaaaaalllllllllllly far out of your way to make it be so by consuming things that are most assuredly not a typical component of the diet. For sure not heavy cream and splenda with fried chicken breast smothered in cheese.

You can get there a lot faster and with less ado [and less calories] by eating tubers and veggies and fruits and seeds. In other words...carbs.
Kindke said…
BentleyJ74 I would say the only thing that has really changed has been acceptance of tubers to be a primary component of the diet and thus for that diet to still be healthful.

Even though I am a strong advocate of low carb, I never listened to anyone demonising fruit (except bannana )or milk, both of which I still consume alot of and neither of which has ever sabotaged my bodyfat. For me the true meaning of low carb has always been not consuming foods that send your blood sugar into outer space.

Sadly, thats where my blood sugar heads if I eat tubers/rice/bread etc, so I have to stay away from that stuff.
Sanjeev said…
LOL to the ending
here' a few more in case you need them in the future

boot buttock
roil some rump
goose some glute
chafe cheeks
boot/bump booty
Sanjeev said…
> for those few dollar signs, I got labeled
> a Gary Taubes hater and taunter

I was astounded by the number of posters that showed up with ZERO comment on and/or discussion of the merits or demerits of the data and arguments, and simply alleging anger and hate then using the allegations as reason to ignore the merits.

Thinking about the stuff that happened in that period, something stood out about Stephan's post:

"... this is why researchers are not taking GT seriously ..."

Does it sound like Stephan FINALLY heard Taubes say (paraphrasing)

"I'm writing and talking for the benefit of working researchers. I don't have time to engage with James Krieger & anonymous internet bloggers ..."
Sanjeev said…
drum on some derrieres
MM said…

I guess I think it's your blog and you should write what you want to write however you want to write it. Not everyone will like it or will approve, but as the saying goes you can't please all the people all the time. Who really gives a crap what GT or anyone else thinks? And geez use the $ on whomever you want. So far they've deserved it! Thanks for letting me know the facts of the matter, and I definitely love the witty commentary. It's very droll. ;D
Diana said…
@Sanjeev, "drum on some derrieres"

You must help me, I am having problems with my wrecked metabolism, wrecked, wrecked from all these years of carb abuse and addiction.

Last night, for dinner I measured out 1/2 c. of raw rice. Of course I cooked it; I give you that measurement cos I don't know how many cups that cooked up to but it was quite a bit. I also cook it in a teeny bit of butter. Oh the horror! White rice and butter!

My calorie counter sez that this is 350 calories; a whopping and disabling 70 carb grams at one sitting.

Result: down one pound to 140, 16 pounds net loss overall, 26% body fat down to 23.4%.

This is what my wrecked metabolism has wrought: weight and fat loss. (Hint: ELMM.)

Whatever shall I do? Go piss on a ketostik?

@MM "Who really gives a crap what GT or anyone else thinks?"

Yeah. Except if you want to be Taken Seriously by Serious Folks, you do have to observe some proprieties. Not too many though. "Yeah yeah, it's not nice to call names but loosen up a bit if your loin cloth or edible pemmican panties just crawled up your butt ... it's a play on words folks!"

I wish I had one of those emoticons Colpo uses to show someone rolling around on the floor laughing.

Do you remember where the line "magic and religion and bullshit" comes from? (Hint: a movie.)
CarbSane said…
@Sanjeev: Drumming Derriere! You've hit on my penchant for alliteration :D

@MM: Thanks! I don't write like I do to attract readers, but it just so happens to do so and I'm more than happy with that. To those who say I'd be taken more seriously if I wrote dry matter of factly, I'd say it's hard to be taken any way if nobody's reading!! I don't know that I'd enjoy blogging in that manner ... check that, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it much, as I have to be that person doing my day job, so then there would nothing to criticize ;)
CarbSane said…
Hi Beth, From the picture I saw of her, MD looks to have lost a bit of weight since the 2009 commercials. But the paperback version of 6WC recently came out and Mike has a gut by any standards. When you're selling such a diet book, especially one you designed for yourself, "fine" doesn't quite cut it for me!

As to the explanations of the Kitivans, I don't buy either one. HOW does the metabolism "get wrecked" -- I mean c'mon. Does anyone really believe that they broke their metabolism and then they got fat? Really?? Eades smoking old people is an even more disingenuous explanation to me. I'll address this in a blog post. We don't know what we don't see tells us absolutely nothing about why we see what we know!
CarbSane said…
Oh ... I wanted to add that the Eades mention that MD was using bioidentical hormones. I'd be interested to know if she's still taking them and if she credits them for the apparent improvements in this area.
bentleyj74 said…
Do you remember where the line "magic and religion and bullshit" comes from? (Hint: a movie.)

Come on Diana no fair playing hard ball. ;)
CarbSane said…
Can't believe I don't remember this one! I've only seen this movie like a zillion times :-)

From Bull Durham:

Crash Davis: Come on, Annie, think of something clever to say, huh? Something full of magic, religion, bullshit. Come on, dazzle me.