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!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The ExASPerating Gary Taubes

Yes, I'm going to address Part I of Taubes' ... um ... what would you call that bout of verbal incontinence he unleashed yesterday?  When someone writes a 4731 word blog post with a 30+ word title, ultimately about nothing of consequence, words to describe it escape even this usually ... shall we say ... less-than-concise blogger.  Yes, folks, the irony will not escape me when this post undoubtedly runs lengthy.

We're treated to Taubes' "shaggy dog story", whatever the heck that means, in which Gary yip yaps out the "iconic moment numero uno punch line" like the not-so-shaggy Taco Bell dog who just had his paw run over by some wayward scientist chasing a pair of dimes in his wheelchair:
In the Q&A session following my hour-long presentation, a member of the PBRC faculty, a distinguished-looking gentleman who I’d guess was in his mid to late sixties, raised his hand and said, “Mr. Taubes, is it fair to say that one subtext of your talk is that you think we are all idiots?”
Is it fair to say that I think they are all idiots? A surprisingly good question.
Certainly one subtext of my talk (and my work) is that a journalist is getting it right and sixty-odd years of nutritionists and obesity researchers got it wrong (with maybe a half dozen exceptions who were marginalized for their beliefs.)  So, yes, it was fair to say that I think a large body of otherwise very smart people, Ph.D.s and M.D.s all, were operating with suboptimal intelligence. Certainly in a pursuit — science — in which the one goal is to get the right answer, getting the wrong answer on such a huge and tragic scale borders on inexcusable.

First, what does the age or physical characteristics of the person asking that question have to do with this?  Had I asked the question wearing an outfit that emphasized my ... erm ... assets, would he have mentioned that a buxom blonde of whatever age he guessed asked the question?  Instead of 32 words intended for his audience to picture some sort of doddering, past-his-prime scientist, a mere 9 words would have sufficed:  "During the Q&A session, a PBRC faculty member asked".  In a field where words certainly do count, was Taubes so overcome by his own brilliant rhetoric that he didn't realize when proofing the post, just how "surprisingly" arrogant that sounded?  Perhaps he feels scientists are such idiots they are unable to even formulate "good" questions, but surely this is not the first time Mr. Taubes has read such interpretations of the way he writes about researchers.  Such a question should not have even been surprising let alone "surprisingly good".  

Then, with more verbal flourish, Taubes answers the question.  Any Armageddon (movie) fans in my readership today?  Taubes ought to ditch his Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) act, and channel his inner Oscar (Owen Wilson).  

Oscar: Ok, Mr. Truman, let's say that we actually do land on this. What's it gonna be like up there?

Truman: 200 degrees in the sunlight, minus 200 in the shade, canyons of razor-sharp rock, unpredictable gravitational conditions, unexpected eruptions, things like that

Oscar: Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks. That's all you gotta say, scariest environment imaginable.

Taubes would have come off better just saying that he really felt that, yes, they're all idiots.  It's obviously how he really feels anyway.  Of course he didn't have the chihuahua jewels to tell the old gent he was an idiot in person.  Good thing he has a blog to do that where he can be all Che Quiero rather than his in-person Bruiser Woods (Legally Blonde).


guess it depends on the venue
Enough small humor bunny smiley #6086  What does Gary's opinion of scientists have to do with his TWICHOO or even FR for that matter anyway?   Answer:  Nothing.  But it makes for a good diversionary tactic.  You see, in the lecture he links to in his article, we learn yet a bit more about Taubes and science.   Seems he was not even a very good student when he was a physics major.  This is not surprising to this blogger.  I'm coming around more and more to the opinion that Taubes ultimately understands very little of what he writes about.  It is what fuels his hubris because he really thinks he knows better due to his inability to understand why it is that he's so blatantly wrong.  

What is inexcusable at this point Mr. Taubes, is your continual evasion of the valid questions that have been raised about your own hypotheses.  YOU need to man-up and answer those questions.  Good science begins with a hypothesis that explains observations.  Not with a hypothesis that must be "complicated" -- to quote a certain Swedish diet doctor -- in order to explain mountains of inconvenient facts.  

Because in reality, your hypothesis has actually undergone rank simplification over the years.  Not because you suddenly discovered the fine art of brevity or needed to streamline it, but because so much of what you put forth in GCBC turned out, in the end, to have been not supported by the science.  And most of the contradictory evidence post-dates WWII, but predates -- often by a decade or more -- publication of your "three PhD thesis equivalent" tome.  

So it is with supreme irony that you mention Dr. Allan Sniderman because, once again, you inadvertently provide critics of your theories (that are now inextricable from criticisms of your professional competence and ultimately your credibility and conduct) additional insight into what you should have known all along.   You know, when for years you were still ignoring that 2003 Reshef paper and glyceroneogenesis, a GCBC reference no less, while lecturing research scientists with your provably wrong version of fat tissue regulation.  You see, Gary, you kept at it with the whole "G3P is rate limiting for deposition of fat in adipose tissue" schtick when you should have known it was wrong all along.  And many times along the way, folks have mentioned ASP to you and you've been asked about it.   You always brushed that stuff off.  Now we know you even had a science-buddy in Allan Sniderman.  I suppose I owe you a debt of gratitude for your stubborn intransigence in addressing Reshef and the whole G3P issue.  You see, had you just had the LC Kindergarten Cop post a comment here dismissing Reshef on the basis that "it's mostly rat studies", you could have saved yourself this whole waste of time of having to actually read some of those references in GCBC.  And I would probably have never heard of Keith Frayn as I persisted in trying to get you to answer to the science.   

Some readers may be wondering what tangent I'm off on now, so let's bring it in here and now.  Keith Frayn is probably the most comprehensive research science expert in the field of adipose tissue metabolism.  He is among the authors of articles concerning research on the etiology of insulin resistance, the triglyceride/fatty acid cycling and trafficking, and the role of acylation stimulating protein -- ASP -- in all of this.  And when it comes to ASP, where did Frayn's trail lead?  To Dr. Allan Sniderman -- articles such as the two cited below (note the dates).

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.  1997.  56:703-712.
AD Sniderman (1),  K Cianflone (1), L Summers (2), B Fielding (2) and  K Frayn (2)
(1) McGill Unit for the Prevention of  Cardiovascular Disease, Royal Victoria Hospital, Quebec, CA
(2) Oxford Lipid Metabolism Group, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford UK

J. Lipid Res. 1998.  39:884–891.
J. Saleh (1),  LKM Summers (2),  K Cianflone (1),  BA Fielding (2),  AD Sniderman (1), and  KN Frayn (2)

Surely Gary Taubes has read these papers?  If not before publication of GCBC, but in the intervening years whenever his professional interactions with Sniderman came about?   Or how about when, as discussed in the Fat Accumulation blog post, Josef Brandeburg asked him about it?  
In a post entitled WHAT IF LOW CARB IS WRONG? DOES ASP PROVE THAT INSULIN DOESN’T MATTER AND THAT ITS CALORIES THAT REALLY COUNT?, Josef Brandenburg (June 30, 2009) wonders over the significance of ASP and asks Taubes about it.  Brandenburg cites the following articles as references for that post:  Purification and  Characterization of Acylation Stimulating Protein Katherine M. Cianflone,  Allan D. Sniderman, Mark J. Walsh,  Hai  T.  Vu, Jean GagnonS,  and  Miguel  A.  Rodriguez, 1989; and Metabolic response of Acylation Stimulating Protein to an oral fat load,K. Cianflone, H. Vu, M. Walsh,  A.  Baldo, and A.  Sniderman, 1989.
Against the backdrop of his office/desk, with several presumably authoritative reference books the great Taubesini consults when doing his version of good research and hypothesis testing, Josef says: "I shared my research with Gary Taubes and he had this to say"   
.... “One thing to keep in mind in all this is the need to explain the observations, not just work with possible mechanisms that can’t explain anything. So one of the observations is weight loss on a high fat diet — the Atkins diet.
“So if ASP was good at sequestering dietary fat away in the fat tissue without carbs being needed, why would people lose weight when they ate an Atkins diet? ....
There's a really "scientific" approach to the topic, eh?   Rigorous hypothesis testing?  Not!  Keep in mind this was before some formerly anonymous bunny-eared blogger came along who just wouldn't let him drop this issue anymore.  Mr. Taubes, there are observations made by even some of your most ardent defenders that yes, folks not only can, but they do, gain weight on VLC/VHF diets.  Or how about the work of Dr. Jeff Volek?  How is postprandial triglyceride clearance improved ... it can't all go into the muscles!  How does it get into the adipose tissue in the absence of the carb-induced insulin spike?  

In his current post, Taubes writes the following:
One of my supporters in mainstream medical research is Allan Sniderman, a professor of cardiology and medicine at McGill University in Montreal. Since the mid-1980s, Sniderman has been arguing that Apo-B (the protein component of low and very low density lipoproteins) is a far better predictor of heart disease, which it surely is, than the cholesterol that happens to be contained in these lipoproteins. He’s also a co-discoverer of the hormone ASP — acylation stimulating protein — which plays a role, however controversial, in fat storage. Sniderman read Good Calories, Bad Calories shortly after it was published in September 2007 and then invited me up to lecture at McGill.
[As an aside, thank you again Mr. Taubes for illuminating yet another oft-ignored body of research as regards Dr. Wheat Belly's version of low carb "science".  Very interesting stuff there courtesy of some hapless group of research scientists, likely including a few gents (and surely some ladies too) toiling away trying to elucidate actual mechanisms rather than publishing fluff pseudoscience.  I hope to get to blog on this fascinating new information soon.]

The truth of the matter is that ASP is not some poorly understood protein.  It's role is NOT controversial.  And now that Taubes is on the record acknowledging that ASP is a hormone, there's yet another little fib-b-poo he slipped into his interview (pt 2) with Jimmy Moore responding to yours truly and others (~9:50 mark).  You see, as recently as January of this year, Gary was still insisting that "when you write about adipose tissue metabolism, the only thing people will write ... the only hormone they're usually talking about is insulin .. where they're talking the part where putting fat in the hormone [sic] ... nobody ... you know ... at least ... the books I have ... nobody talks about any other hormone" all because for reasons unknown, in the 2010 version of Frayn's Metabolic Regulation, ASP is not in the graphic.  It is mentioned in the text, but who reads those sorts of things in science picture books.  [Taubes also admits he never read the 1995 version of that book referenced in GCBC ~30:50 mark]

ExASPerating indeed.

Whoa boy.  It's been a long while since I listened to those January 2011 interviews.  It was a busy and stressful time in my life and addressing those comments fell by the wayside.  Still, I realize that at this point, in light of his recent behavior, I need to go back and discuss this man's supposed response to my criticisms.  If for no other reason, but to remind people of -- or introduce them for the first time to -- the real mettle of this man  in the face of criticism of any sort.  It's long overdue.  Because he's still at it with a new target in his sights.  

I'm just hoping all his talk about rubbing back and forth is truly metaphorical in nature. 
 Bunny Smiley (oh no she di' int)

Of course every quack thinks he's right
~ Gary Taubes, referring to himself


Thomas said...

.... “One thing to keep in mind in all this is the need to explain the observations, not just work with possible mechanisms that can’t explain anything. So one of the observations is weight loss on a high fat diet — the Atkins diet."

“So if ASP was good at sequestering dietary fat away in the fat tissue without carbs being needed, why would people lose weight when they ate an Atkins diet? ...."

OK, granted I only have this version of Taubes response that you provided, I would have personally been embarrassed to give the above response. The answer to Taubes question in the second paragraph is so obvious it shows his ignorance of the energy balance equation or at least his extreme bias against it. Simply, if intake is less than expenditure, a high fat diet will still allow one to lose weight (nothing trapped-he loves this idea). It is well known that Atkins allows some to eat less and still feel satisfied. I have a hard time believing Taubes wouldn't consider this in his response, at least to avoid looking stupid to someone he seems to openly criticize as less than intelligent(obesity researchers). Maybe in the full response he does? Anyway, preaching to the choir here.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hi Thomas, the full response is linked to (Josef's blog) and offers nothing additional IMO. This is indeed an embarrassing showing for Gary on the concept of ASP taken in the context of his recent "schoolings" of others on science!

Tonus said...

The blog post on his site is underwhelming. I'm not an anti-Taubes; I read GCBC as I was learning more about diet and it influenced my decision-making to a fair degree as I went about controlling my diet and improving my health.

But the blog post seems to consist of an 80,000 word (give or take a few) self-administered pat on the back. Does he think those scientists are idiots? Well, yeah, seeing as how some lowly writer managed to trump 60 years of research by knowing where to look! And not that he's saying he's right or anything (wink!) like all of those crayon-wielding nutcases out there, but he might just be that one-in-a-million voice in the wilderness who is about to change the world!

I didn't have a problem with his description of the question-asking researcher. I see that as a bit of artistic license. But the rest of it could have been boiled down to "I may not know anything about this stuff, but I know I'm right." Considering that he's really really busy with a REAL LIFE (something the rest of us obviously cannot relate to), you'd think he'd try to be more concise in his approach.

He seems to be trying really hard to come off as humble, but does not appear to have the ability to pull it off.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I didn't have a problem with his description of the question-asking researcher. I see that as a bit of artistic license.

Fair enough. But I can't help but wonder how he would have described it were the person posing the question Stephan himself, or someone like Denise Minger. I don't know that it matters in the end ... I suspect ultimately his description would be intended to make them look hopelessly mired in the wrong paradigm for whatever reason, be it entrenchment or newbie entrainment, to make his point.

eulerandothers said...

' Does he think those scientists are idiots? Well, yeah, seeing as how some lowly writer managed to trump 60 years of research by knowing where to look! And not that he's saying he's right or anything (wink!)...'

No need to say he's right. Let someone else show he's wrong. I hope it happens 'big time' and not in a footnote that points to a pubmed abstract.

The 'lowly writer' trumping the scientists does capture the popular imagination, doesn't it?

The 'scientists are idiots and, in particular, doctors, who know nothing about nutrition and lack the education and reasoning ability... (yadda, yadda, yadda)' attitude unites Taubes believers and fans those flames.

We're all victims of the wrong information and now the individual can see the truth because ONE BRAVE MAN challenged the establishment. I smell Nobel prize!

Diana said...

Well, there isn't a Nobel prize for journalism, thank heaven. Perhaps he'll get one for literature?

I swear that when I wrote my crack about "Einsteinitis" I was going to throw in a line about "Feynmanitis" but I refrained because the comment was long enough and I'd made my point.

Taubes did not disappoint, quoting Feynmann, as if a quote from the great man makes your point right.

Jim said...

Evelyn, address the one area where "calories in, calories out" is problematical. It's when one is eating more carbohydrate than one has room for in glycogen storage. The mainstream dietitian thinks this is OK because if there is de novo lipogenesis, the extra fat will be used up anyway. If my liver weighs 3 pounds and 8% can be glycogen, that's 1/4 of a pound of glycogen. If I am a skinny pseudo-intellectual with 121 pounds of lean mass, that's maybe 50 pounds of muscle and if 1% can be glycogen, that's another 1/2 pound of glycogen for a grand glycogen total of 330 grams. But maybe I don't use 330 grams of glycogen a day. Maybe I only use 260 grams. Does the research show this is totally innocuous? Wouldn't this scenario have to lead to hyperinsulinemia? (I'm being devil's advocate for the only part of the low-carb argument I think makes sense.)


Jim Jozwiak

Sue said...

Evelyn, I brought your post to Josef's attention as I wonder if he thinks the same about ASP.

Lerner said...

I'm trying to think of the movie where some megalomaniac is ranting and ranting while his listeners one by one filter out of the room. He's left alone, wondering what happened.

S said...

I am getting tired of all this.

It would be nice if bloggers on these issues would stick to dicussing the facts, and refrain from impugning motives and personal attacks.

This criticism applies to a greater or lesser degree to most people who blog on this subject, so I am not just criticising this blog.

Readers can make their own judgments about whether (insert name) is arrogant, egotistical, greedy, stupid, aggressive, balanced , knowledgeable, nice, horrible, fat, lean, a shill, or whatever.

To all bloggers: more signal, less noise please. Resist resorting to the ad hominem stuff; in the end it does no good. I know how hard it is to resist attacking someone who has attacked or misrepresented you. I live in a glass house too.

Please (all) impress me and others with high quality discussion while treating others with dignity and respect (whether or not you think they deserve it. Show you are better by not taking the bait.

Steve L (maybe I will post this comment on other blogs to show I am trying to be even-handed here)

Fashiontribes Diet said...

This is more just a general observation from reading your posts lately, but I have come to completely agree with you that HAES is a LC dodge b/c they for some reason they refuse to acknowledge that calories actually matter - despite the fact it's proven that restricting calories not only works for weight loss, but for longevity, too. And yet from what I've seen, most of these LC "gurus" are a bunch of guys that aren't only not in shape, they're pudgy-to-downright fat. (And then to hide behind "damaged" metabolism - such bosh; hello, try eating for 1 person instead of 5, and exercising & see what happens.) Also, I read that section in GCBC that if the byproduct of carbohydrate-metabolism (I can't remember the term) wasn't present, any fat eaten couldn't end up as triglycerides - which not only isn't true (I tried it on myself) but for the same reason fructose turns to fat as a way to store those fruit calories for use later, it struck me: why would fat be any different, regardless of carbs were present during metabolism or not? (It's kind of like saying Mother Nature was careless and left in a weird loophole for us to exploit.) This argument, the more I considered it from an evolutionary perspective, made less & less sense. It's like with LC, common sense has left the building and is living it up at Alice in Wonderland's tea party.

LeonRover said...

I hope that commenters on this blog are not confusing the Physics' Nobel Prize winner "Bongo Drums" Feynmann and Nutrition and Metabolism's Feinmann.

They both have Richard as a first name - but are not in the same intellectual decile.

markgillespie said...

In response to Jim's question this link may help

Short answer, the body increases carb burning at the expense of fat burning so more dietary fat is stored.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

@euler: Gary does have a talent for taking us along for a rebel journey with him. Who doesn't root for the underdog?

@Diana: Well, Arafat got a Nobel Peace Prize ... *sigh*

@Sue: Josef reminds me of a lot of others. Here's this inconvenient fact, please convince me why I it doesn't invalidate my long held beliefs.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

@Jim: The glycogen limits are one reason for the hierarchy of fuel usage. Carbs first. You burn the carbs off. Coincidentally, I have a paper from reading back through comments on one of those older posts that deals with this to blog on shortly. Also, thanks Mark!

@Fashion: Welcome to the Asylum! It's like with LC, common sense has left the building and is living it up at Alice in Wonderland's tea party. Sure seems that way sometimes doesn't it? It's really too bad because there are so many benefits to various facets of the diet. I've been saying for a long time that ultimately Taubes will do more harm than good for the cause because you cannot gain mainstream acceptance for one's ideas by promoting flawed theories in a faddish manner.

Jim said...

Lyle is talking about getting fat. I am asking about becoming hyperinsulinemic leading to metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and then getting fat as well but not necessarily gaining weight. Lyle is saying people's glycogen stores are huge, that 500-700 grams need to be exceeded day after day. I tried to show that non-athletes don't have anywhere near that glycogen capacity because they don't have the muscle mass.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

@Steve: Welcome! Your writings sound so familiar to me ... DFH? With all due respect, I think you need to re-evaluate why bloggers blog. We all have our reasons and styles and whatnot. Sure, I write for an audience here, but for the most part my audience is here because they enjoy the content, I don't write, as some have accused, just to generate page hits. But whatever I do here I do for the free consumption for anyone who wants to read it. If you find nothing informative, move on. Not every post needs be for your edification and edjoomacation. Some can be to share my thoughts. It is my blog ... right? I know I have some readers who read only the more straight science posts. But I also have some readers who read just those of this sort. And still others read a little of everything here. I'm happy for all of these readers!

Surely you do not think everyone should just ignore the arrogant antics of the pop culture hero of the LC world? There's enough of this "can't we all just get along for the movement" crap going around. It serves no one well and is ultimately harmful as those who do not achieve the promised result sink into despair.

That GT chose to tout the support of someone intimately associated with the non-controversial role of ASP (though more needs to be learned and its relationship with inflammation for example) in a post that dealt with little else is worthwhile pointing out, IMO.

@Leon: Did you mean quintile? >:)

Diana said...

@Leon, "I hope that commenters on this blog are not confusing the Physics' Nobel Prize winner "Bongo Drums" Feynmann and Nutrition and Metabolism's Feinmann."

Mos def not. Read Taubes' blog post - in order to bolster his own shaky creds, he quotes Feynmann's (I never know how many n's to put, sorry) oft-quoted quote about science, discovery, etc.
In another comment on another post here, I had conjectured that a lot of Taubes' shtick arises from his aborted career as a wannabe physicist.

I don't think it is out of line to call Taubes on his arrogance. Because it is truly relevant to the subject. If he was right, it wouldn't matter if he was a dick. He would be a dick who is right! I don't frankly care what any great scientist's personality flaws are. The only thing that matters is the work.

But - when someone falsifies sources, cherrypicks data, calls everyone else an idiot, and distorts the historical record (the Pima), it's different. Is this not somehow related to a personality issue?

Furthermore, I believe that it was the publication of GCBC that gave the Church of Low Carb its founding scripture and gave it such cred. Before that you had a disparate group of people with varying agendas. With GCBC you had validation. Thus Taubes requires special scrutiny. Perhaps endocrinologists don't take his shizzle seriously but the desperate overweight do, and he deserves for his whole act to be fact-checked. This act includes attitude.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

@Jim: Carb consumption simply does not cause hyperinsulinemia. Even in sedentary people who are not in perpetual calorie excess. Our bodies will simply shift to burning more glucose vs. fatty acids for energy. So long as high carb is not associated with high fat in excess, it's all pretty OK. The problem begins when we no longer properly store our excess energy in our adipose tissue.

Fashiontribes Diet said...

Just one more thing to add (sorry, not to get all "Woo" on you) - I guess where I get annoyed at the higher-profile members of LC is that, in all honesty, if you look at their current physical shape, if they actually eat the way they preach, then they're like the last people on earth I'd want to take diet or weight loss advice from. I showed my husband some pix I found online taken at the recent AHS - ie. taken very recently, within the last month - of Jimmy Moore, Gary Taubes & Dr. Eades - and he was shocked at how unhealthy everyone looked (even more so when I related that one had to wear a girdle on-camera because he was deemed too fat for his own cooking show devoted to, yes, helping people stay slim). Now the people at AHS who eat true paleo (ie. real food in reasonable portions) & work out - like those guys from Efficient Exercise, for example - looked healthy & fit & I would be much more likely to trust their advice on physical conditioning. I liked that pic you linked to of Richard Simmons, pointing out that he's no fatty. Looking at the higher profile members of LC - with their girdles, unhealthy pallor, and supposed "damaged" metabolisms & yet promoting this idea that calories don't matter while downing insane portions of paleo food - I've decided you can't really say the same, which, for me, has now completely undermined their credibility at this point. I'm glad on this blog instead of dispensing questionable diet advice, you deal instead with more of the biochemistry angle, such as how insulin actually functions & its impact, the topic of butyrate, the role of leptin, etc.

Thomas said...

@carbsane-I'm looking forward to reading your take on the "exceeding glycogen storage capacity leading to denovo lipogenesis" idea. This is so commonly brought up in low carb circles as THE reason to keep carbs low-I hear it all of the time (despite the fact that the argument MUST always be within the context of a continuous calorie excess-so calories rule again). Anyway, I'm curious to hear your more technical take on this.

Thomas said...

Correction-I should say the "exceeding glycogen storage capacity leading to denovo lipogenesis that leads to body fat gain" idea.

Lerner said...

@Fashiontribes: where are those photos? and they wear girdles?

wrt Taubes saying: "why would people lose weight when they ate an Atkins diet?" Answer: because they consume fewer calories. That's something he cannot even envision. I agree that he likely has no actual understanding of much at all - but I bet he can organize his references perfectly.

No one can "win" an argument with Taubes or his followers because he is all about mechanisms and he sidesteps the many real world examples where his theories fail. In science such as medicine, nobody accepts mechanistic arguments as proof of anything - quite the contrary. They've seen many theories come and then go when they don't pan out (McCully's "Homocysteine Revolution" e.g.) . But in nutrition, about all that exists lies in supposed mechanisms - and they are presented as some sort of "proof".

About thirty years ago, there was a saying: aerodynamic engineers can "prove" that a bumblebee can't fly, but we all know they do".

In our time, Taubes can supposedly "prove" his theories, but they don't fly.

Sanjeev said...

When eating real food it's very hard to go below 10% fat in the diet

if carbohydrate calories by themselves are in excess then carbohydrate calories will be used for all of one's energy needs, and that (at least) 10% fat will go to fat stores first, maybe followed later by the excess carbohydrate being turned to triglycerides. or click or click

De novo lipogenesis is low in humans most of the time. I've lost track of the references but from what I recall, in the presence of dietary fat DNL is even lower than usual.

In the case of the McD's junkie I sincerely doubt any of the carb from the fries or the bun is being stored as fat - those carbs are likely all being burned (how many calories of carbs is that, really?) and some of the frying fat and the beef fat and the fat from the milkshake are being burned but if that junkie is gaining adiposity, what's being put in the adipocytes is the dietary fat, and very little of any derivative of the carbohydrates.

Sanjeev said...

but zero fat will not let one eat carbohydrate and protein calories in excess of needs; as Lyle's article states (not referenced unfortunately) DNL up-regulates at very low fat intake.

Fashiontribes Diet said...

@Lerner: here's the post about Dr. E & when he had to wear a girdle:; photos of LC people: Jimmy Moore & at AHS11; Gary Taubes at AHS (compare how he looks with Mark Sisson, who just had a 60th birthday I believe & obviously walks the walk when it comes to what he writes, and it shows: he looks amazing!) - and Dr. Eades at AHS

nobody said...

@Fashiontribes Diet, None of them are as fat as Carbsane, so what's your point?

Tonus said...

I don't recall that CarbSane has promoted a particular diet as an ideal solution for fat loss that allows us to ignore calorie counts. If she was doing that, then I would understand it if someone pointed out that she was overweight. Much as I understand why she points out that people who ARE promoting LC as a natural, self-regulating diet are unable to reach an ideal weight, and in some cases struggle mightily with their weight.

nobody said...

Who exactly in the pictures you linked is struggling with their weight currently? They all looked fit to me. Are you suggesting Gary Taubes is overweight?

OnePointFive said...

Possibly because of my non US pronunciation but I can't get this out ditty of my head!
"The world has held great heroes,
As history books have showed;
But never a name went down to fame
Compared with that of Toad!
Intelligent Mr. Toad!
Encouraging(exasperating?) Mr. Toad!
The clever men at Oxford
Know all there is to be knowed.
But none of them know half as much
As intelligent Mr. Toad!"

Sorry, I know, ad hominem and totally non scientific but it really was my first thought

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Nobody ... well ...

Fashiontribes Diet said...

@nobody...huh?! Clearly Jimmy Moore - who, I should acknowledge, I do appreciate for all the work he does putting together an active roster of podcast guests each week - actively promotes LC as a "healthy" diet, and yet is obviously quite overweight. GT looks anything but brimming-with-health & vitality, to me at least. IMHO, looking at these two high-profile representatives of this LC approach all but invalidates their twin claims that if you follow their brand of LC, calories in won't matter, when they obviously do (Jimmy) and that this way of eating will make you HAES, when it doesn't appear to (GT). And Dr. Eades - that link was about the fact his own diet made him fat enough to have to wear a girdle, plus, when you compare him to, say, Sisson, Mark is the only one of the bunch that seems vibrantly healthy, slim, and fit. And this at age 60. The other three, however, are either a combination of overweight & unhealthy-looking, or both, and yet are actively promoting (& profiting) off a version of the LC diet based on apparently-shaky biochemical principles. While Sisson is similarly promoting & profiting from a diet & lifestyle approach, at least he looks the way he promises his Primal approach will make anyone who follows it look.

I guess, in short, there's a lack of truth in advertising I find somewhat galling.

And Evelyn isn't promoting a certain diet, but focusing on the science in the area of fat metabolism, evaluating things from the perspective of biochemistry, and then calling out the spurious scientific claims being promoted as "science" in the name of LC.

Lerner said...

Evelyn, I'm sorry that my question resulted in an attack on you. I guess I should have known that there would be at least one troll around. I assume that you have the IP address of the troll. I'd be glad to help out in identifying the geo origination, if you like. Let me know. (Yes, I realize that you are not exactly crushed by the comments :)

Fashiontribes, I'm also sorry that my question got you involved. I never will comprehend, I guess, why people get so emotional in defending their diet writers.

wrt Sanjeev's links, I'm surprised at the idea of low postprandial conversion of carbs to TAG. So I went looking and see this older study:

"Hepatic de novo lipogenesis in normoinsulinemic and hyperinsulinemic subjects consuming high-fat, low-carbohydrate and low-fat, high-carbohydrate isoenergetic diets" 2003


"Indeed, by converting excess carbohydrate and excess gluconeogenic substrates to triacylglycerol, DNL in the liver may be an important pathway for controlling glucose production and blood glucose concentration."


"Our results showed that after 5 d in energy balance on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, normoinsulinemic lean and hyperinsulinemic obese subjects had significantly higher fractional DNL than did normoinsulinemic lean and obese subjects fed a high-fat diet."

Table 3 has for LFHC diet in Lean normoinsulinemics: postdiet:prediet TAG = 1.44 (and 0.96 for HFLC)

So... where is the study that counters that? More importantly, is there one somewhere that takes the same measurements but on carb-only meals?

nobody said...

So it's ok to talk about Gary Taubes' or Jimmy Moore's weight, but that makes me a troll when I turn around and make a similar comment about the author of this blog.

Also what exactly are you going to do with the physical location of my IP address? That's a very odd statement.

Sanjeev said...

from the ajcn study:
after 5 d in energy balance on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, normoinsulinemic lean and hyperinsulinemic obese subjects had significantly higher fractional DNL

Lerner, that's basically what I concluded from the 2 pages I pointed to.

Normally DNL is low, but rises with extended low fat and/or excessive carbohydrate regimes (the ajcn study you pointed to says 5 days at maintenance calories, Lyle wrote 3 days of caloric excess)

Diana said...

"So it's ok to talk about Gary Taubes' or Jimmy Moore's weight"

Who mentioned Taubes' weight? No one. He looks terrific IMO. I've seen him on the street in Greenwich Village but I didn't give a holla. He's a big, athletic dude. I seem to remember that he thinks he should lose a few. I don't think he has any weight to lose, not an ounce.

We do refer to Jimmy Moore's weight because he does. Constantly. It's one n=1 experiment after another, one 60 pound weight swing after another. Never-ending. This isn't relevant to his "calories don't count" mantra? I think it is.

On the other hand, it would be low and mean to include his personal problems in this discussion, even though he does so constantly. So we don't.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hey gang. Pay no nevermind to nobodies ... I certainly can't be bothered to, though I do appreciate your concern Lerner. Yes, such trolls are an unfortunate hazzard of blogging and trying to keep an open forum for discussion. Frankly I'm surprised there aren't more, but happy for that nonetheless.

Enjoy the evening gang :-)

MM said...


This study is interesting. If you read a little further down in the paragraph you quote about the high carb diet leading to higher DNL you get this little gem.

"In the present study, this higher proportion of simple sugars (54%) led to elevated fractional hepatic DNL, whereas when only 40% of the carbohydrate consisted of simple sugars, hepatic DNL was minimal (11). Overall, these findings confirm and extend previous results from Hudgins et al (8), who found that the proportion of simple sugars in very-low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets was the determining factor for hepatic DNL in healthy subjects. "

It seems that it's not necessarily the high carb content per-say that lead to higher DNL, but rather a high sugar content. Snackwells do make you fat! :)

Thomas said...

Wrt the DNL study-I don't think there is any question that DNL is up-regulated with higher carb diets and especially in obese hyperinsulinemic people (who seem to have upregulated DNL anyway). Should this surprise anyone? A relevant question is does this up-regulated DNL LEAD to fat gain as the LC crowd preaches (carbs make you fat)? Because if carbs are inherently fattening as the LC/paleo crowd claims, it HAS to be through carb induced massive increases in DNL and hyperinsulinemia (to hold it all in, don't you know). Showing fractional increases in DNL doesn't really prove anything other than it's increased (if we increase the number 1 by 100%, we still only get 2, not a big number-so fractional increases don't tell us much). This study doesn't answer this at all-just how already being obese or lean and hyperinsulinemic effects DNL with regard to macro composition.

This study does speculate that consistent high sugar diets may lead to insulin resistance, but that's just speculation (I highly doubt that it does if the people consuming a high carb diet are in calorie deficit at least some of the time-but that's my own speculation).

So, this study shows hat DNL happens to some degree and that it's more in the obese hyperinsulinemic subject at all tested macros and more for everyone on a higher carb (especially sugar) diet. At the worst, at least in this study, it seems to increase about 10% (like going from 1 to 1.1-I've seen other studies show higher increases, over 20%, which still doesn't say much). So, it happens-and we already knew this.

Lerner said...

Ahaaaa!!! I just realized what is going on here. I couldn't understand why Lyle would say that you can't store fat from ingested carbs. That's why I posted the quote from my study's intro: if you can't store all the serum glucose into glycogen stores, you have to convert the excess into TAG and store it that way. It's so simple. That's what threw me. Lyle isn't contesting this at all, he is restating over and over that you can't get fat merely from eating small amounts of carbs. Fat storage depends on eating in excess of needs.

So why on earth would anyone have to explain that you can't get fat from merely eating carbs?? Ahaaaa!!! Because they were brainwashed by Taubes and the other LCers that calories don't matter. Oh boy... I have to laugh but it's also kind of frightening... the nonsense has spread around the world and people actually do believe it. No wonder Lyle seemed irritated, he must be pestered over and over by people saying "but Taubes says calories don't matter, only carbs do! It's the insulin!!!"

Oh boy... What I really wanted to get into was whether Intermittent Fasting is inherently atherogenic, specifically regarding postprandial elevations in TAG from carbs AND/OR fat and the effects such as resulting reduced levels of HDL (e.g. "Postprandial decrease in HDL cholesterol and HDL apo A-I in normal subjects in relation to triglyceride metabolism"). But once more, Taubes derailed things - even from afar.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hi Lerner & all re: DNL
I've blogged on the works of Jequier ( and Hellerstein (, as pertains to DNL, as well as a study demonstrating that it occurs in skeletal muscle feeding into a futile fatty acid cycle ( Everything I've ever read about DNL is that it is not a significant pathway leading to fat accumulation. And, as has been pointed out, even 20X not-a-lot is still not-a-lot. Also, let's not forget that DNL is an energy requiring process. Which means that 100g carb will create far less than 100g stored fat while 100g dietary fat can come a whole lot closer to creating 100g stored fat.

Sanjeev said...

Lerner's linked paper:
I just realized I may have been mis reading it (doesn't change the conclusions by a lot).

when they speak of "15% fractional DNL" do they mean

1. out of all the TAG, 15% came directly from dietary carbohydrate


2. 15% of the dietary carbohydrate ended up as TAG

Lerner said...

wrt to the meaning of fractional DNL, I'd say that pertains to % of total TAG made from carbs.

Note that this study is using fasted DNL. However, I'll point to the results I'd posted a few days ago on the Homburg Cream and Sugar (HCS) study: that *postprandial* TAG is a better CVD predictor than fasted, in normals.

That's in line with the apparent move to switch to postprandial TAG testing in general over fasted - at least in research but not in most clinical practice.

The normoinsulinemic lean HC subjects in this thread's study were:
weight ~156 pounds
daily 11163kj (2666kcal)

Fasting TAG is already up 44% from that.

Put all that food intake into one big Intermittent Fasting feeding session and I'd think that *postprandial* fDNL would be much larger than after each of 3 meals per day - simply because you've got more excess carbs to put away at the time. (Evelyn's ref to the Susan Powter effect would also enter into it.) Total postprandial TAG would presumably be very high.

This all relates to the proposition put forth by the HCS lead author that possibly "atherogenesis is a postprandial phenomenon". That can make IF more dangerous than isocaloric frequent small meals - independent of macro composition.

(I did realize the purpose of the study that I'd posted in this thread was for comparisons between groups. However, I disregarded the comparisons and only wanted to look at the data from the normals.)

P.S. I had already read Evelyn's Jequier article, but that seemed to focus on relatively small "meals" of 100g glucose. The smaller the feeding, the less fDNL.

Lucas Tafur said...

Hi Evelyn,

Do you have information regarding differences in ASP expression in adipose tissue between humans and rats? I have written about the subject (while specifically about ChREBP levels, It seems that the lipogenic capacity of rat adipose tissue is way greater than humans, so interpretation from rat studies can be misleading.

Thank you

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hi Lucas, I don't know that I have specifics, but from everything I've read in terms of both glyceroneogenesis and the triglyceride/fatty acid cycle and ASP there do not seem to be significant differences in those mechanisms. Rodents differ from humans in a number of ways: (1) they don't have much subQ fat, (2) they have significant thermogenic brown fat, and (3) DNL IS a major contributor to the fatty acid supply. ASP has been studied quite a bit in humans. The initial problem with ASP that was "controversial" was that circulating levels didn't always agree with predictions. This is because it is produced by the adipocyte to act on the adipocyte and I suspect the circulating levels are what escapes. But the obese do have elevated circulating ASP levels. MetSyn may well be associated with ASP deficiency (new papers I've come across) -- the delayed triglyceride clearance characteristic of dyslipidemia, and ASP is clearly linked to the inflammatory component of obesity.

I took a look at the ChREBP and bookmarked that to have a closer look at it when I have a bit more time later in the week. On first glance my "correlation v. causality" radar went up.

Lerner said...

I believe this is likely a landmark study, "Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during
massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man" 1988

"When the glycogen stores are saturated,
massive intakes ofcarbohydrate are disposed ofby high carbohydrate-oxidation rates and substantial
de novo lipid synthesis (1 50 g lipid/d using ‘ı-475 g CHO/d) without postabsorptive
hyperglycemia." Am JClin Nutr 1988;48:240-7.

Now I need to find a study about postprandial TAG levels from massive fat meals.

be11225a-e974-11e0-b0d9-000f20980440 said...

Fred Hahn actually asked Dr. Frayn what he thought of Insulin's role vs ASP. Seems he doesn't agree with you at all:

Sanjeev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanjeev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanjeev said...

do we have proof that Frayn actually wrote that? Until Frayn confirms in some way INDEPENDENT of FRED, and confirms the entirety of the contents attributed to Frayn, then I'll believe Frayn wrote it.

Did Frayn sign the emails using gpg? That would do it for me.

AND THEN, it will be argument from authority anyway because we have not seen that result so far in a peer reviewed journal

and we so far have no good, well controlled studies to contradict the studies we have seen so far

This is NOT an invitation for "logical"[0] arguments, it's an invitation to find & post good studies.

[0] or FRED-ical arguments

Sanjeev said...

> Did Frayn sign the emails using gpg? That would do it for me.

After I check the hash/signature for myself

Sanjeev said...

gpg == "Gnu Privacy Guard" or click here

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I've considered contacting Frayn, but it's a moot point. If he wrote every word, he was responding to a strawman argument (insulin OR ASP) about the basal TAG/FA cycle. And he flat out says that ASP regulates fat mass in his 2010 book. I've come across too much research at this point that ASP has become more a focus than before. It is clearly and indisputably involved in the clearance of dietary fat into adipose tissue, and this C3KO mouse is fascinating. Frayn (UK) used to collaborate with Cianflone & Sniderman (McGill). Seems that ended a while back and Cianflone's group moved on to do some exchange program with China. Sniderman seems to have branched more into ApoB while Cianflone has focused on ASP. Whether there's any bad blood or competetion there, who knows. But researchers do not cite prior works w/o correction if they have changed their interpretation of the results.

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