Smash the Fat Calorie Debate!

Edited and Updated post recording ;-)

Well, we didn't get to chat as much about calories per se as I'd thought, but it was a nice discussion nonetheless, I believe.  

Sam is a good sport even though he knows I've been critical of his calorie experiments and even encouraged folks to come check out these posts:  That 5000 Calorie Jokesperiment and Low Carb Circus Acts, for example.    In some ways I'm frustrated a bit because Sam's schtick is objectively of the calories don't count variety.  Further, his first experiment was specifically about not gaining weight overeating a low carb diet, so there's a bit of evasive maneuvering going on IMO.  However he is not alone in this -- Exhibit A being Jonathan Bailor -- in dialing it back when discussing it with a critic.  So of course calories count, and I'm not sure how well I articulated it (note to self:  don't schedule morning interviews just in case you are on crap sleep!!) but I do think I made some inroads on the idea of the biochem being the same in all people.  

Some things I mentioned in the interview (I may add more and pin the comment to the top of the list rather than edit in as that seems to revert links to opening in the same window unless I manually change it.)

The Dansinger study, and the tweet about it.  The "forgotten" diet comparison study.

Where to start with links to Shai diet comparison trial, but the Teicholz Shai'ster series is a good one!

And one of the original posts that started it all: Gary Taube$, Shai-ster

On Calories In:


Kitty said…
I want to hear a low-carb advocate explain why their theory can't be used to make accurate predictions. For example, Asians and vegans should all be fat and the so-called potato hack (the ad libitum eating of nothing but potatoes and fat-free condiments) should result in fat gain and not rapid fat loss. Another insulin theory problem is that many low-carb foods (e.g. beef) are very high in the insulin index of foods (a scale for how much insulin release foods cause). Also, why are Blue Zones populated by people who eat high carb diets?

I would also like to see someone nail a calorie-denier on the Taubesian idea that it's impossible to reduce one's caloric intake whilst eating ad libitum unless it's a low-carb diet. Plenty of experiments have shown that it is possible by adjusting the calorie density of the foods subjects eat (e.g. eating soup, salad or fruit before meals) and by interventions that have nothing to do with water and fiber (e.g. the size and color of plates, slower eating, etc.).

Good luck. I know you'll do well.
carbsane said…
This is excellent Kitty -- yes ... it's always that 3500 calories doesn't exactly equal one pound (not that anyone ever claims that) , but never why are there so many insulin-soaked humans who are not heavy?

Dunno if the second part will follow as easily, but I'll put it on my note pad so if it fits in I'll try and work it in.
Kitty said…
If he pulls out the "metabolic dysfunction" card to explain why the Kitavans are lean and Americans are not, please remind him that the original potato hacker (Chris Voigt, the potato farmer who did the "20 potatoes a day for 60 days" publicity stunt) presumably had "metabolic dysfunction," as did the Hawaiians (and others, I think - you know the studies) who lost weight on a high-carb traditional diet, as do all the morbidly obese people who go to low-fat clinics (e.g. McDougall) and lose weight despite the carb-laden buffet at every meal. His theory says that all of these people should gain fat, but they lose it.
Greta Carbo said…
Great interview, you really covered a lot of ground, and covered it well! Lot's of information that answers quite a few questions for me as well as providing more to think about. I heard Sam Feltham's interview with Stephan Guyenet, his first podcast, and was impressed that Sam encouraged Guyenet to talk to the extent of not speaking much himself. And he did the same with you. I think that is what interviews are all about, the guest, so I am glad that it was less a debate and more an interview. And again, you covered some familiar ground in a fresh (to me) and informative way.
MacSmiley said…
Nice job, Evelyn! Weird seeing only Sam on video and you just on audio, but excellent points nonetheless.

I would like to say, however, that as a layperson, I am still confused (as Sam and his audience are likely to be as well) about the difference between biochemistry and physiology. The truck versus weed whacker analogy does help a little bit. But I am still not entirely clear on the matter.
Kitty said…
Well done. Sam seemed a bit stunned. He seemed to realize that he was in over his head very quickly.
2lbs of Starch said…

You've done a great job explaining demolishing the "carbs->insulin->obesity hypothesis" in your last two interviews. Thanks. I never fell for it, but I didn't know the exact biochemistry arguments against it.

Sam didn't say much in your interview, or in Stephan's either. He's decent, and he knows the "alternative hypothesis" doesn't stand up to scientific rigour. So he just let you two talk. It doesn't matter. He's still going to tell his clients that "carbs make you fat", and to go keto, then maybe have a potato at lunch. Hey, people *will* lose weight following that advice, so it can't be too wrong ...
Slipp Digby said…

Good interview and as you have said, fair play to Sam for having you on, allowing you to talk so freely and, for acknowledging your blog posts which are critical of him. He looked very embarrassed and moved on rather quickly when you mentioned the nuts vs cream issue in his 'experiment'!

I think Sam has reached a bit of a crossroads now.

He's at that awkward point where you cannot really continue to hide behind the pretence of being a disinterested party just asking questions about diet, whilst also making fairly outlandish claims about metabolic advantage and miraculous quick weight loss whilst pushing VLC as THE solution.

However, the big problem is that most of his following and the advice he gives to franchisees is based on just those types of claims. Backtracking is going to be difficult.

His solution to this seems to be a bit of cognitive dissonance.

I've noticed in some recent exchanges he had started to emphasise the satiety aspects of LC and its role in achieving a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. I thought at first he had experienced an epiphany, but it didn't last as around the same time he still seemed to claiming that on the 'real food diet experiment' he felt his body just burning up the excess calories one night.

I suspect Sam's recent change of tack, the increasing referencing of trial papers and the winding in of the more outlandish claims may have something to do with this

Just my opinion, but someone who hasn't resolved these kind of arguments in their own minds really shouldn't be giving advice to anyone, let alone charging for it.
charles grashow said…
Biggest laugh I've had all day

8 hours ago

"Several years ago I was offered a six-figure, multi-year deal to promote a carb blocker product like this with white bean extract, but I turned them down because this is an asinine idea. Keep eating carbs and this product will block their absorption. Really? How about skipping the culprit carbs? I needed the money at the time, but my integrity is more valuable to me than that."

MacSmiley said…
When was the Kimkins thing?
Kitty said…
He does weird diet moralizing. I think he actually hates carb-munchers (probably because he is dying for some spaghetti). He's like a closeted gay guy who can only talk about how much he hates homos. It's very bizarre.
David Pete said…
I didn't realize there was morality attached to carbs
carbsane said…
I don't know when he started promoting Kimkins, but he famously went on it himself in June 2007 ... got down to 212 lbs.
carbsane said…
Thanks :-) That enewsletter is interesting indeed. He is supposedly launching a School of Slimology this fall?

To be fair, is this a regular thing in the UK? It would seem like most of the USA gurus couldn't be in business -- or is it that he's franchising his Smash the Fat "method".

I didn't have the energy to combat more (probably wouldn't have come off too well either) on the calorie issue. He says NOW that quantity matters. He has called calories a downright unscientific concept in the past. So ...

One video of his is eerily similar to Bailor's clogged sink thing and I'd have thought Bailor might go after him before any regulatory agency!
carbsane said…
Yes, I really do have to give him props on the professional conduct side of things here. On some level I think he may be reachable as regards the gimmicks ... or not ... but it reaches a different audience.
carbsane said…
Hey Mac,

When someone says biochemistry, that is the biological chemistry that is going on in our bodies. So one point was that all calories in (once absorbed) are the same to each and every one of us because we all "burn" that fuel the same way. And even heat generated along the way is the same -- it's built into the chemical reactions used to achieve the goal.

So the individual differences are at the physiological level -- the control and partitioning of energy. Regarding partitioning, this is not nearly as variable as the metabolic advantage crowd would like folks to believe either. We all have limited glycogen stores and fat tissue is the intended depot for long term storage of energy. Some seem to have more finely tuned homeostatic mechanisms than others. But let's just say that you can't make Person A look like Person B by feeding them B's diet!

As far as I know, other than appetite (perhaps), insulin is not implicated as a long term energy regulation hormone. It really is the beat cop enforcing the physiological laws established by "governing bodies" (e.g. the hypothalamus).
carbsane said…
Interestingly he seems to have no problem needing berberine (as effective a "drug" as metformin) to control his blood sugar on his extreme diet. Carb blockers are not new on the diabetes front and white kidney bean is effective according to something I came across recently. So as usual, his situational "ethics" such as they are, are misguided.

Also, he's currently taking advertising dollars for the KetoShred supplement which is a total rip off.
charles grashow said…

Shawn ‏@KingCobra2Kx 55m55 minutes ago
@livinlowcarbman I'm surprised to see mashed potatoes
Jimmy Moore ‏@livinlowcarbman 48m48 minutes ago
@KingCobra2Kx On PHD, it's part of the plan. I'm testing blood sugar later.
MacSmiley said…
Giving up keto for the safe starch route?
MacSmiley said…
'Course, he could just eat some beans, and get some nutrition along with the deal. But nooooooo. :-P
carbsane said…
If the butter pic in the twitter feed is any indication, I predict a 5 lb gain on this diet and carbs will be blamed.

This is a paleo meal? Inspired by evolution, breast milk and all that jazz?
carbsane said…
Paul is now offering Perfect Health Diet luxury retreats. It is my understanding that Jimmy and Christine are on this one gratis. It's only for a week so it won't make any difference either way.
charles grashow said…

Tapioca Bread


1 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons water
3 eggs
Salt to taste

"Tapioca is a substance that sometimes gets paleo peeps hot under the collar. Mark Sisson at Marks Daily Apple gives it a clean bill of health as long as you understand it’s a plain white starch and will quickly convert to glucose. "

OMG - suppose his blood sugar DOESN'T spike?? What will he do?
Carol said…
Wow, they were all the range in the 80, but I thought Starch Blockers were banned.
MacSmiley said…
Has Jimmy ever done the PHD before for any notable length of time? Maybe Paul can talk a little ( and I do mean little) sense into Jimmy. Who were those LCHF doctors who died of digestive tract cancers?
carbsane said…
I doubt it. Jimmy did an n=1 on safe starches that consisted of eating half of a sweet potato with like a half of a stick of butter. This was during a sweet potato fry phase of his as well. He gained a pound or two and concluded that starch wasn't safe for him.

I note that in a recent podcast he is again referring to himself as insulin resistant. I thought keto cured all of that?
carbsane said…
I have to look, but I came across some clinical trials demonstrating a particular white bean derivative as effective. I am not sure if I mentioned it in any recent published post, it's probably in one of the many and several languishing in the draft bin.

Yeah, I remember those things back in the early 80's too. Perhaps it was a conspiracy with evil Big Pharma. After all, they've probably made a killing on Acarbose :-)
Yeah, some of us are prone to using those terms a bit too interchangeably, and that can cause serious misunderstandings. It was a good thing that you clarified the semantics before taking that particular discussion further.
charles grashow said…

My Bibimbap lunch on Sunday at the #PerfectHealthRetreat: white rice, greens, meatloaf, kimchi, butter, berries, sour cream, egg yolk, lemon and lime juice, & more! Tasted great too. (For all my #lowcarb and #ketogenic fans, no, this is neither. But I'm trying it all this week to see how I do).
charles grashow said…

livinlowcarbman@lizzie_liz13 No need to be confused. I'm at Paul Jaminet's #PerfectHealthRetreat this week where he incorporates starch. I'm skeptical but willing to try it for a week.
sarahstanley_Organic sprouted grains and organic legumes can be part of a wellness lifestyle.
livinlowcarbmanNot my plan...just sharing what Paul Jaminet is doing.
charles grashow said…
methinks Jimmy has a problem!

56 minutes ago

My blood sugar reading at around 1-hour postprandial of my Sunday lunch meal at the #PerfectHealthRetreat in NC. Higher than I'm used to seeing, but not over 140 like I expected. I'll keep tracking.
carbsane said…
At least put the butter on the rice there and the sour cream on the berries. The way it is looks gross and unappetizing to me even though most of the foods are generally in my "like" category.
2lbs of Starch said…
These guys use their blood glucose meters like geiger counters. They think that elevated postprandial glucose levels following a meal is tantamount to diabetes. I call it normal physiology.
Slipp Digby said…
Yes the school seems to be a residential course to learn about weight loss if I understand it correctly?! Maybe Sam will ask you to do the biochemistry parts ;-)

The ASA are strictly speaking, self regulators in that they are paid for by a levy on advertising, rather than being a statutory governmental body - they do however have sanctions available and a legal backstop to report persistently misleading advertising to Trading Standards under consumer protection law. Ignoring them if you are a UK advertiser is.....unwise and can lead to embarrassing bad PR.

I suspect many diet and obesity 'experts' in the UK are entirely unaware of the CAP Codes on weight control which the ASA uses to assess complaints (See here{103cf916-ce1c-4224-b42c-49f4c4dc5203}#.VDt812ddWVM especially sections 13.1, 13.2, 13.4 and 13.5).

This may be in part because the ASA's remit to cover online advertising as well as written media was only extended a few years ago, and stuff like Sam's probably often goes under their radar a lot of the time unless reported. I think the CAP Codes sets a reasonably high bar to clear and they expect to see decent clinical trials to support weights loss rather than anecdotal evidence.

*In the interest of full disclosure* I should point out that I submitted the complaint about Smash the Fat - because of concerns about the dubious weight loss supplements being promoted and the potential for harm from statements like “That right - eat fat get slim” - and hopefully this has had the desired effect which is simply to get Sam to critically review both the claims he has made, as well as the evidence which supports those claims.

The issue of quantity is rather interesting. In his latest 'Diet Dunces' video (hate that name BTW) one of the dieters has struggled due to snacking on too many nuts and too much cheese. Sam actually agrees that these should be limited, so maybe there is hope!

My experience of combating pseudo-science is that if it is done too aggressively it can be counter productive. Interviews like this are important, a line has been drawn here (and by the ASA) what happens next is down to Sam.
charles grashow said…
On the bright side, I'm not hungry and feel great.
2lbs of Starch said…
Whoa. That's Jimmy's Monday morning fasting blood glucose level following the PHD retreat. Does this mean he has diabetes?
Perhaps he should be addressing the fact that years of such odd experimentation is actually having a negative impact on his glucose homeostasis.

Billy the K, a regular commenter here shared some excellent papers by Himmsworth that explored this very issue. Excessive carbohydrate restriction has longer-term affect on glucose and lipid homeostasis that'll take more than a few weeks to resolve . . . maybe even longer.

I was also going to comment on the other photo. PHD's ratios are actually still rather low on the carbohydrate spectrum. Many folk with healthy glucose and insulin function don't produce that kind of one-hour glucose response to a PHD meal where the primary caloric fuel is fat while protein and carbohydrate combined are restricted to a 150 gram window.
Spittin'chips said…
Slipp, just curious what you did with the Stork margarine competition winnings? Still call yourself an organist?
Spittin'chips said…
Just in case you have no idea what I'm on about, you were featured in my favourite episode of Bottom -

Sorry. Bored.
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