A teaspoon of this ... A quarter teaspoon of that.

One thing that the recent Taubes meltdown at AHS has done is elicit the reappearance of the LC Kindergarten Cop in comments sections far and wide.  Yes, I'm talking about the hopelessly mired in parroting LC dogma Fred Hahn.   He's pulling back out the "teaspoon of sugar" schtick to proclaim that carb consumption is evil.  It just so happens I had addressed this in a recent post:  Let's play Concentration!

In that post I did the calculations on the circulating levels of the form of fat we burn at any given time.  For a normal person, this comes out to around 0.5g fat.  Using more elevated levels we're still talking at most about 1g fat.  Using even a low end density for oils and butter, 0.8 g/ml, we're talking 1.25 ml.  What's that in teaspoons?  One-quarter of a teaspoon.    (One eighth teaspoon for normal individuals, and knocked down to around one thirty-second of a teaspoon after a meal!)

Let's presume a 2000 cal diet with 65% carb or 65% fat.  That's 325g carb or 65 teaspoons of sugar.  For fat that's 144g fat or 36 teaspoons fat.   So 65X circulating levels of glucose or 144X circulating levels of fatty acids.  So what is the point of this teaspoon stuff?

I would hope that looking at those numbers makes the point that the instantaneous, absolute circulating levels of substrates vs. dietary intakes are meaningless.  Indeed to my view, that a normal person's blood glucose levels only go up about 1/2 teaspoon after even a carby meal is testament to the rapidity of clearance of glucose from circulation.  And, as was commented in my last post, if circulating NEFA are so low how do we ever lose weight?  The answer is that the absolute concentration is meaningless other than to know what is normal for physiological function.  The glucose and fatty acids are circulating, being taken up by cells and being released/taken up by liver, perhaps kidney, and adipose tissue (glucose uptake only).  It's turnover/flux that is important.  

The absolute number that really matters are the calories associated with those substrates.  Burn 2000 cals/day it doesn't matter if you consume it as all fat or all carb, it gets used and your circulating levels of glucose and fatty acids remain normal.

So what's my purpose in repeating this?  Perhaps so there's a shorter version of the Let's Play post folks can link to whenever someone drags out that tired old teaspoon of sugar nonsense to mandate VLC diets for all. 


Jeff Consiglio said…
Having been led down the LC Yellow Brick Road for many years, by very clever and erudite "scientific sounding" arguments about insulin, leptin, glycation, etc., I've concluded REAL WORLD RESULTS provide MUCH more compelling evidence of the efficacy (Or lack thereof)of an dietary or exercise protocol than pages upon pages of science-speak ever will.


- 7the Day Adventists do quite well on high-carb quasi-vegetarian diets.

- Peruvians were NOT fat or diabetic on their mostly potato diet.

- Irish were healthy on mostly potatoes

- Kitavans of course

- Pima ate a HIGH CARB diet when they were still lean and healthy!

Etc., etc

This REAL WORLD evidence proves the point that one should never allow "scientific sounding" arguments to trump one's common-sense observations of what works or doesn't in the real world.

I'm embarrassed that I used to push LC diets on my personal training clients.

Now getting MUCH better and more CONSISTENT results by having them literally count their calories with online food-journal, and letting them eat the foods that THEY LIKE, while trying to steer them toward a non-orthorexic diet that is mostly healthy, but allows one the flexibility to also eat "not so healthy" foods in moderation, as long as one stays within their daily calorie-limits.

LC guru's misguided dismissal of the primacy of calorie intake, is why so many of them are far from lean.

Thanks for letting me vent.
Thomas said…
Carbsane-LC dogma definitely works better in a "static" world. It's easy to understand. To bad it's mostly wrong.

This "understandability" factor can't be underestimated. This is what allows these simple myths to keep going. If it all makes sense, it has to be true, right?

For example, I'm a chiropractor, and my profession has been telling people for years that their spines have been "out" and they need to be put back "in", meaning their vertebrae is out of place and that popping noise is the spine going back into place and re-aligning. The problem is, that is pure crap! But it's easy to understand and it keeps people coming back. Believe me, if your spine was that "out", you'd be in the ER. LC dogma works on the same level. Spinal adjusting does tremendous things for people, by the way, just as lower carb/paleo can help people lose weight and become more healthy (relatively speaking)-it's just that the explained mechanisms behind it all is mostly garbage. More realistic explanations also tend to take the "magic" out of the treatment (chiro, LC , or whatever) as well, reducing it to a science and less of a philosophy, and possibly showing that it may not be for everyone or that there are other options (horror!). This equals reduced income (double horror!).

By the way, I get info emails from Joe Mercola all of the time and his site is full of LC and supplement garbage and scare tactics designed to make you purchase stuff. A little advice for everyone out there: If someone is peddling "wellness" information (supplements, detox, anti-vaccine, government schemes designed to keep diseases from being cured and support corporate interests, etc.) be very, very, very skeptical. I'm not saying this stuff isn't true necessarily, but I think many of these claims need more evidence than is normally given. As a chiro, I've been the target of many of these "wellness" peddlers as a potential rep, and they always highlight the wellness industry as the "billion dollar industry." It's all about the money folks! It's hardly ever about the truth or the search for truth IMO. The wellness industry targets people's naivety and tries to exploit it, filling the gap with half truths and magic bullets that cost a lot of money and deliver hit and miss results (mostly miss IMO). Be very skeptical!

Sorry about the rant, I guess I'm a little bitter.
CarbSane said…
Rant away fellas, and welcome Jeff!

I recall it was Mark Sisson in Jimmy Moore's roundup of LC "experts" responding to James Kriegers (excellent) series on Insulin who pretty much admitted what you're saying Thomas. For Mark it is all about the "buy in". Who cares if the 151st gram of carb leads to insidious weight gain claim is woefully exaggerated at best, fraudulent more likely. If it gets folks buying into his gimmick -- and then buying his books, overpriced (ultimately low quality) supplements, etc. it's all for a "good" cause.

There are several who comment here who have lost weight once they disavowed the dogma. I have several fold more who have emailed me about their similar experiences.
Anonymous said…
Today, I checked my email and Dr. Mercola's newsletter had Taubes. Same old, same old.


I looked at the comments. First comment, top of the list, from tedhutchinson, brings attention to the abstract of a study which is introduced with this sentence: 'Part of the trouble is that research that doesn't fit with the "official" consensus opinion tends to get hidden.'

So: I read the abstract. It is on pubmed, so I read the study - not 'hidden' - and I read the following editorial, letters to the editor, etc.

The letters to the editor had a reply from James H. Hays, M.D., one of the authors of the study, who was one of the researchers, in which he said (because there was weight loss on this high-fat, low-starch diet):

'Increased fuel excretion and utilization could be mechanisms of a “metabolic advantage” of a particular diet, and our study cannot exclude such mechanisms. However, I believe that our results can be explained by the old saw, “Weight
equals calories in minus calories out.'

How many LCers (how many fans of Mercola and Taubes, for that matter) reading about 'hidden research' bother to read the study (not just the abstract) and the discussion in the pages of the journal that published it - all available free, to the public, on pubmed?

And how many, reading Hays' reply, will focus on 'metabolic advantage' and discount what he actually says about 'calories in, calories out'?
Layla said…
My real world results:

Fat on HC diets.
Skinny bitch on LC diets.

Mind you, NORMAL LC diets! No VLC bullshit. Veggies come first, then fatties, then meatties and then maybe some carbies.
Which comes down to 1-2 pounds of veggies, 2-4 eggs, quarter/half a pound of meat, some olive oil and some butter, 0-3 glasses of semi-skim milk and then maybe some potatoes/peanuts/legumes if I feel like it.
More carbs means less fat and meat. More fat and meat means no milk and potatoes.

Now is that a sensible LC diet or what?
Mavis said…
Oh, God - Dr. Mercola!

I signed up for his e-mail updates a couple of years ago so I could read one lousy article (I knew not how bad he was at the time), and shortly thereafter canceled them. I gave the reason as being I don't need eight new things to freak out about daily. The things I'm already unduly worried about keep me busy enough.

It must work for some people, since he's still doing it.

And don't get me started on naturalnews.com.
Anonymous said…
Yep, that Dr. Mercola. His headlines read along the lines of:

-The One Mineral In Your Drinking Water That Will Cause Your Head To Fall Off Tomorrow

-What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About What Makes Your Kidneys Shrink As You Age

-Two Reasons Why Living On Top of Clay Soil Will Shorten Your Life

And so on.
Jeff Consiglio said…
Layla - Glad that you found a diet which provided YOU with a better framework for lowering your calories enough that weight-loss occurred.

I'll be the first one to agree that many people get much better appetite suppression from LC, which then makes it easier for them to lower their calorie intake.

So yep...LC should not be dismissed.

But like Carb Sane, I think we should support it for the right reasons, and also recognize than it is NOT a panacea for everyone.

LOTS of overweight long-term low-carbers out there after all.
Sue said…
Jeff, I like how you say letting people eat the food they like because that is very important for compliance. LC definitely worked for me but I kept binging on carbs after a long LC stint. Also felt guilty eating one piece of fruit - that's just wrong.
Sanjeev said…
eulerandothers said...
Yep, that Dr. Mercola. His headlines read along the lines of:
-The One Mineral In Your Drinking Water That Will Cause Your Head To Fall Off Tomorrow
on the spectrum between Steven Novella and Kevin Trudeau ...

WOW ...
Mavis said…
@ eulerandothers:

LOL. I needed that!
CarbSane said…
Yes, LOL about Mercola. This is the impression I get. If there was even 10% truth to his stuff on artificial sweeteners we'd all be dead (it's in the drinking water of the rest of y'all you know!!).

Dr. Dansinger, who did that first diet comparison study that Andreas ignores, has repeatedly stated that the primary outcome was that compliance breeds success. The two more moderate programs had far less attrition than the extremes, but this data has been cherry picked to show LC had less attrition than LF -- Kent Altena did so in comments here once. Yeah, Atkins did a bit better attrition-wise than Ornish, but both did more poorly than the more moderate diets.

I would say that traditional Atkins works for most for a period of time b/c it does tend to produce ad libitum spontaneous reduction in intake. The focus on HF that Andreas and the LLVLC gang promotes is less likely to produce that success. These folks are likely losing lean mass over the long haul.
CarbSane said…
@Layla: Nice to see you about! Your plan sounds rather ... sane. What are you doing posting on a psycho's blog? ;-)