Insulin Wars VII: Tom "Fat Head Movie" Naughton
I thought I would share some thoughts on some of the responses of LC "experts" to James Krieger's excellent series on insulin. For any who missed them, here are the links “Insulin…an Undeserved Bad Reputation”, Part 2,Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
Jimmy Moore asked an array of people in LC circles for their thoughts HERE
This installment is in regards to Tom Naughton of Fat Head film documentary fame.
I feel a bit bad "picking" on this guy. He seems nice enough and all that. But I guess first of all I question Jimmy's judgement in asking a comedian's opinion on James' rather thoroughly steeped in science series on insulin. I would have given Naughton a pass had he simply taken his own pass here with an "I'm not qualified to discuss such". But since he didn't, I won't ;-)
Krieger may have a point, depending on the type of carbohydrates. You’ve interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig, who insists the real problem with our diets is fructose, not glucose, and I think we have to remain open-minded on that topic. Lustig and Dr. Richard Johnson have written some excellent papers explaining how fructose may induce insulin resistance. We know there are cultures where people eat a lot of sweet potatoes and rice but don’t become insulin resistant, so perhaps fructose is the problem. In that case, a high-carbohydrate diet with a high proportion of fructose would indeed lead to chronically high insulin levels, whereas a diet of rice and potatoes may not.Wowzers! One of the best responses comes from the person least qualified to give one!! But this points out the biggest flaw in the whole carb/insulin theory. Fructose induces NO insulin response yet it is the only carb implicated to induce insulin resistance.
The pertinent question for me, however, is this: once your metabolism has been damaged by fructose, can you consume rice and potatoes without causing elevated blood sugar? In my case, the answer is no. One small potato will send my blood sugar sky-high and keep it there for hours. The same thing happens for a small serving of pasta. If I’d never discovered Captain Crunch and Coca-Cola as a kid then that might not be the case, but that’s where I’m at, so I have to limit my starch intake now.
I've not watched Fat Head (since it's now free on Hulu maybe I'll check it out) so I don't know if Naughton is a diabetic or not. He looks of normal weight now so perhaps just keeping BG in check is working ... but I do very much worry over the free fatty acid stuff. Long term low carbing does induce a degree of insulin resistance and/or insufficient insulin response. IOW, easing some starches back into the diet may well have beneficial results.
When I was at my fattest, I was living on rice, potatoes and pasta. I didn’t drink fruit juice or sodas, so it wasn’t fructose making me fat. Perhaps we can store a little fat with low insulin levels, but not enough to meet our metabolic needs.But starch made him fat so it must have been the insulin after all? *sigh*
Before insulin shots were available, Type I diabetics would waste away and die no matter how much they ate. Teenage Type I diabetics will sometimes stop taking their insulin shots — despite the dangers — because they lose weight automatically. Clearly, insulin is required to store any significant amount of fat.This highlights a common misconception or error in extrapolation if you will. T1's have NO insulin. No matter how low your insulin on LC, you still have some! When the teen T1 stops taking insulin, they have NONE. But look at this another way. What happens to the T1 left untreated? They die. So why would it be preferable to attain a very low insulin level given that insulin has other roles in the body other than keeping fat where it is supposed to be stored.
Insulin sweeps fat and sugar out of the blood. How that would suppress appetite is a mystery to me. If insulin suppresses appetite, somebody will have to explain to me why people can eat an entire box of cookies or an entire bag of potato chips, taking in more and more food even as insulin is skyrocketing.Insulin doesn't have a huge role in sweeping fat out of the blood which is perhaps why dietary fat doesn't trigger its release. It does play a role in alerting the body to when too many FFA's are in circulation though, because these do stimulate a response. Again, look at this with common sense. Obesity is not a desired state for the human body, therefore what purpose would there be for insulin to stimulate appetite? As far as I know, it has only been shown that it should suppress it. Whether this action occurs at physiological levels or is a major contributing factor is another issue. My gut tends towards thinking the insulin appetite connection is minor. I'm always amused that the same folks who will look at the abnormal fat deposition at insulin injection sites as proof of Taubes' theories will discount the results of insulin injections on appetite.
It’s been demonstrated several times that people on a lowcarb diet spontaneously eat less, so something about limiting carbohydrates suppresses appetite, whether it’s by reducing insulin or some other biochemical process we don’t yet understand.Perhaps Naughton should read a bit more on James' website. Or here I suppose. Studies that control for protein demonstrate that it is responsible for satiety for the most part, certainly the carb reduction per se doesn't suppress appetite as many voracious LC'ers would illustrate. Also, ketosis has some effect especially early on, more prominent in some than others. Since we tend to adapt to it, perhaps this explains the regains in those who aren't careful and buy into the "slather on the fat it won't make you fat w/o carbs" thing. At least Naughton isn't trying to convince people that on LC he lost weight eating hundreds of calories more. Bravo!!
If protein didn’t stimulate insulin, we’d be in trouble. Insulin is necessary to transport amino acids into your muscles. But protein also stimulates the release of hormones that counteract the fat-storing action of insulin to some degree, and protein induces a rise in your metabolism. But let’s leave the other hormones out of the equation and suppose for the sake of argument that carbohydrates and protein both stimulate insulin to same degree and are equally fattening per gram. The average American adult consumes nearly 400 carbohydrates per day. Do you know anyone who consumes 400 grams of protein per day?Four hundred grams? That's 1600 cals of carb a day on AVERAGE? Methinks that's a bit exaggerated. But let's assume he's correct. If that's 65% of calories that puts total at 2461 cal. Not ideal, but in line with what many claim to be maintenance levels.
Does our government recommend consuming at least 300 grams of protein per day, as they do with carbohydrates? Of course not. When we switch to a low-carb diet, we are mostly substituting fat for carbohdrates, and fat doesn’t raise insulin levels. So we’re switching from a macronutrient that raises insulin to one that doesn’t.No, we're not substituting anything, that's the problem. Americans are eating more. On an absolute basis fat consumption is even up slightly too.
Naughton freely shares his food journal and is quick to point out that he would follow a LC fast food diet for 30 days (eating @ 100 carbs a day). BUT, he counted calories! If 99.9% of the LC community believes that calories don't count, why would he?
I just think it's funny that this film is held up as a landmark film for the LC WOE when it actually validates the energy balance theory, which Naughton tries to discredit at the end of the film by noting that he actually lost more weight than the predicted losses for him following a 2000 calorie diet.
So, we have one filmmaker/comedian that goes on a McGlutton fest for 30 days, refuses to release how many calories he ate a day, and blames McDees for his 25 lbs weight gain and diminishing health markers.
And another filmmaker/comedian that goes on a controlled calorie LC fast food diet for 30 days, shares his logs, and attributes his weight loss to eating LC.
Dogma does indeed die hard ...
I can't believe someone so clueless is actually lecturing someone like James... :( What a bad joke!!!
I love your deconstruction, it's really succinct. It's interesting how he keeps bringing up these misguided scientific nuggets (basically repeating stuff taken for granted in the LC circles), and when he's right (about LC diets and appetite control) he doesn't even know why.
And fructose permanently damaging your metabolism? Give me a break. But when major news outlets print stuff like this: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article6954603.ece
then it's not hard to understand that people get confused.
@Rob, I don't recall you commenting here before so wanted to welcome you and thank you for reading & commenting!
@Muata, yeah, really scientific there!
@dietconcepts: I hold that a goodly portion of our obesity epidemic is due to eating out too much and/or eating prepackaged portions of food. In my state they now require calories on restaurant menus and it is difficult to find an entree weighing in under 1000 calories and it's not unusual to find a meal topping 2000 cals. Yet if I made the same thing at home it would be like half that. How they manage to add so many extra calories I'll never really get because this often isn't even a huge portion.
Then we have the monster meals and deals. I'm a big fan of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network. Watched a taped show last night and he went to 3 burger joints. Pretty much every burger was a dietary assault on one's body, one in particular was just over the top! They put the burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches (one with bacon), a fried egg, mayo-based sauce, and more cheddar. Of course, low carbers will claim it's the 4 slices of bread that are causing weight gain eating such monstrosities!
Hubby and I are always amazed at this sort of thing. Even when we collectively weighed in around 600 lbs a favorite take-out was an order of fried calamari and eggplant parm with meatsauce on the side order of pasta. We would share this and still have left overs. We often get strange looks when we order take-out together and get just one thing ... I get the "and what are you planning on eating" look (or the oh she must be a vegetarian). The fact that we now share one thing and may still have left-overs and collectively weigh 2/3rds of what we used to is no mystery to us!
I think lots of folks need a reason to stick to extremes. It's no different than the fat-phobe adhering to a Pritikin style diet, they have convinced themselves that sat fats are killer and wreak havoc on their metabolisms. I see the same thing in LC (worse often) with claims of permanently damaged metabolisms. I was really struck by Dr. Michael Dansinger's use of "carb cripple" in his recent interview with Jimmy. Here is a guy in the business of "curing" people with T2 advocating more moderate carb intake. If anyone has a damaged metabolism it's the actual diabetic.
He went to great lengths to blame McDonalds and super-sized meals for his weight gain. When people realize that he ate over 5000 cals a day, the focus is taken off of McDonald's and on him doing something that only the severely morbidly obese do on a daily basis.
I still show Spurlock's film in my classes because I love to see how my students' attitude towards the film change once they find out how many calories he consumed a day ;)
@CS - I do believe that our environment is more "toxic" today than it was 25 years ago. However, when I say toxic, I'm talking about the availability of food (24/7) and how our lives are much more sedentary now than they were just a couple of decades ago -- thanks to technology.
And, unfortunately, I think as time goes a long, it's only going to get worse. Because of this, people who want to lose and keep the fat off will have to be ,even more vigilant in their efforts than say one had to be 25 years ago ...
> and/or eating prepackaged portions
Laying out cash right then and there brings out economic considerations - "how much am I getting for my money? "
And even if this is a small effect among consumers, that is, only a small number of consumers would abandon a restaurant for small portion sizes, remember that it's on that last 5 to 10% of sales that most businesses make a profit. Until that point they're covering expenses. Fear of losing even a small number of future sales amplifies, in the mind of the business, the thought "consumers will leave if I don't fill them up"
Spurlock was testing what a lawyer claimed in a court, that fast foods contains compounds that might trick the taste buds and prevents a person from using self-control and stopping before consuming too many calories.
So Spurlock wasn't saying that people gain weight because fast foods are fattening, he was saying that people gain weight because they eat too many calories but that fast foods helps to eat excessive calories because the foods is caloric dense, palatable and addictive.
That sounds pretty intellectually honest to me.
So, while critical thinkers such as yourself will take home the message that you've explained, the way the film was cleverly written caused many folks to believe that eating fast food (especially McDonalds) will cause you to get fat and be on the verge of "pickling your liver", as one of Spurlock's doctors told him.
Also, when you consider that Chazz Weaver, a PT in Orange County, CA, did a similar experiment around the same time that Spurlock did his with much different results. Chazz called his documentary Down Size Me, and he ate McDonalds for 30 days and kept a detailed food journal that he happily published. Google his documentary because I think you'll be surprised by his results ....
It seems that you want to imply that eating at McDonald's can be healthy. If so, why? There was a time when I was really huge, and I could easily eat two-three Quarter Pounders while driving home after work, and then having dinner when coming home an hour later. Looking back at that, it sure was a crazy way to live, and in no way was that healthy.
A single Quarter Pounder will provide you with 510 kcals with 230 of those coming from fat (26g) and 40g CHO (160 kcals). That's OK if you want to binge every once in a while, but it's not the kind of stuff you want to eat every day, or at every single meal. I know from personal experience ;)
But, the calorie counts are really up there so if I want to eat a "lot" of good food, I'm not eating McD's every day b/c even small sandwiches and fries would take a big bite out of my maintenance intake. But I heard a disturbing statistic on the % of Americans that have eaten at least once at McD's in the past week (don't recall the number, but it was high). I'm guessing most of those aren't being very calorie frugal in their choices or McD's wouldn't be in business. Therefore there's no doubt in my mind that McD's contributes to the obesity problem. BUT ... it's not their fault, they are giving us what we want (that's not you and me obviously, but a collective "we").
Super Size Me was simply another documentary pointing the finger at "big business" for providing cheap, calorie dense food as one of the main causes of obesity, which is simply not true. As CS notes, Naughton challenges this notion that one has no power over themselves and will find themselves ordering fast food unconsciously, which I have done myself. Nevertheless, I agree with him because it wasn't because of fast food; it was because I had an eating disorder!
Can a non PT or active person eat McDonalds everyday and not be fat? Well, in Spurlock's film he interviews a guy (Goerske ?) that averages eating 2-3 Big Macs a day (everyday). He is known as a "super-user" and is far from overweight or obese! Over 85% of his calories comes from Big Macs, and, oh, he doesn't eat the fries. (You see CS, I told you it was the carbs:p).
Also, there was a similar documentary done by Sosa R. Whaley (who is a filmmaker) and another average guy (can't think of his name but his film starts with different actors who have gained weight for various movie roles) with a video camera that I can't find now who also ate McDonalds for 30 days and lost weight. These two did not do a lot of exercise like Chazz either; basically, they counted calories.
So, what's so bad about Spurlock's deception in Super Size Me? Well, in the southern Los Angeles area, they just passed a moratorium that bans the building of any more fast food restaurants in the area. Obesity and diabetes numbers in this area are pretty high, so the city council pointed the finger at fast food joints.
However, sit down, "family" restaurants like Chili's, Applebees, etc. will be permitted to be built in these areas because they are viewed as being healthier options!?!
Unfortunately, this is the type of "thinking" that, I believe, Spurlock's film has led to. If the city council thinks that obesity and diabetes rates will decrease in these areas because of these sit down places, someone needs to send them links to the nutritional menus of these places.
When someone eats twice as many calories than their body needs (as Spurlock did), they will gain weight regardless of how healthy or unhealthy the food is perceived to be. This is coming from someone who was a fat vegetarian for close to 5 years ;)
But if I were a typical person who eats mindlessly and goes on till hunger and cravings don't disappear and still the wonderful taste of the first bite is recaptured in the next bites too, I would eat 3000 calories and still be hungry for more.
So I think fast food is the worst for hunger control unless you're consciously shortcirtcuiting your cravings by being caloric conscious, hunger tolerant, one who is used to fasting or a mindful eater.
One thing I've come to realize is that it really is only the first few bites that one appreciates for their hedonic qualities anyway. I think back on my binging days and no way I got any enjoyment out of eating after those first few bites. (If I even tasted the food the negative feelings would have negated it anyway.) I'm perfectly happy sampling a few choice tasty things at parties and such and it just doesn't take any sort of super human will power to do so. I'm afraid too many buy into the "addiction model" of appetite so that they are convinced they can never eat certain foods and remain in control. I can't imagine many getting more out of control than I used to do, so I'm here to tell folks you can "heal thyself" and be "normal" again.
High end restaurants don't serve you a shitload of bread, large appetizer portions, etc. My husband took me out for a paired-wine 6 course meal for my birthday last year. Since I can't really eat much in one sitting anymore, I was worried about getting our money's worth. But it was a nice (very!) meal with portions just enough that we left quite full but not at all stuffed. I enjoyed everything served. I was not hungry again until noon the next day.
I've come to believe that some of the worst diet advice out there is that canard: "never let yourself go hungry". Low carbers seem even more paranoid of hunger than conventional dieters which I find a bit strange. If the whole deal is to eat when hungry, stop when full, how does one distinguish true hunger if they never let themselves really get there? Hunger doesn't make me lose control. I might eat a bit faster if I get really hungry, but it only takes but a few bites to notice and consciously slow down.
This notion that body weight and appetite can be some sort of autopilot thing modern humans in this world is a pipedream. It may work for a few, but the rest of us have to do something proactive.
Once you eat good food, junk just loses its appeal. I used to feel "drawn" passing by a BK. Now? Even when one is smelling good it just holds no appeal.
I think you've posted here before, but I'm starting to lose track now :) So if not, welcome, and thanks for your input.
Exactly! But there might be a biological drive behind that. Taubes says: ‘the kind of food you eat, determines your caloric intake, because of its effect on hormones.’ CarbSane says: ‘the kind of food you eat, determines your caloric intake, because of its influence on food preferention.’
If someone can re-program themselves to view food as fuel, it doesn't matter LC vs. LF vs. veggie vs. carnivore, etc. They will begin to make choices that nourish their bodies. I would have never thought I could reach this place, it's been years in the making. But junk holds no appeal because I know it will only give me calories without nutrition. If I'm going to eat something I want bang for my buck. Even when I eat something junky, it has to be something I like. Why bother otherwise.
OK rambled on enough .... :D
I couldn't agree more, or as Harry would call it "obesegenic".
Folks seem willing to believe that 60g carb vs. 50 g carb will cause their weights to explode, and yet will dismiss out of had the notions that (a) there is just more calorically dense food available (even to the "poor", or should I say especially to the poor!) and it is easy to run a slight overage, and (b) modern conveniences from cars to AC's to cell phones and all manner of wireless devices (heck, I don't even need to go to a particular room to get on the computer!), remote controls, etc.etc. Nah ... that doesn't add up. But a few grams of carbohydrate do?
R hhhh iiiiiiiight
Your rambling made me really hungry ;-). Off for McDonald's and then a huge piece of American Apple pie (that's what we call it here). Since 'going paleo' (I know it is not rational, but it feels good, lets' call it a benign case of orthorexia), I do 'therapeutic' fastfood sessions.
I do not believe you can POSSIBLY add anything of value to a discussion of someone's position, when you have not actually looked into that person's position! To the guy who hasn't seen either movie but can diagnose why it's okay that Spurlock won't release his food log: Spurlock's rules were he'd only supersize IF ASKED. He was asked only 9 times in 30 days -- so twice a week his meal (lunch or dinner) supersized -- only!
If you'd seen Naughton's movie, you'd see that it is NOT possible to make up 5,000-kcal meal without, as Naughton puts it:" McStuffing himself.
Spurlock's doctor keeps raving about his "high-fat" diet trashing his liver. Except he only had 13 pounds of fat and *30 pounds* of sugar over the month. (He shows all his meals laid out in the movie -- he had refused to release his food logs to Naughton and all the journalists who asked!) A pound of sugar every day for 30 days will most assuredly trash your liver. A half a pound of fat? Not so much.
But since y'all are discussing this topic without actually knowing what was promulgated -- in either movie -- you are shooting at illusions and misconceptions of either movie!
It's really hard to respect that, or take your comments seriously.
Boy, was I disappointed.
Absolutely MsArchangel - one of the key points of Tom's movie is that there is *no way* Spurlock could have come even close to 5000 calories a day, based on his own rules of the game.
But I guess I'm an anomaly here, LOL. I really enjoyed Tom's movie, and one of the things I like *best* about Gary Taubes is that he doesn't point to psychological issues for weight problems. I have struggled with weight issues for nearly 30 years. But I really never felt I had any particular psychological issues.
In fact, many people over the years have often told me that I was the one who was more "together" than either of my sisters - one of whom is normal weight (5'8" and about 140 pounds) and the other is underweight (6 feet tall and 125 pounds).
For years I was guilted into thinking I *had* to have psychological problems or I wouldn't be so fat. What a relief it was to me to find that all I had to do was change the way I ate, and all my issues with food and binging vanished, and have allowed me to lose 115 pounds (slowly) over the last 5 years - even though I still have a lot to do, alas.
But 5 years into the process I still enjoy my way of eating and never ever have the urge to binge, or to make a Dunkin Donuts raid - as I might have done in years past.
Your experience suggests that what you eat regulates/dictates your appetite and energy expenditure and jibes with (part of) Taubes' hypothesis. 'Bad calories' screw up weight regulation and body composition. Do you know what happens to your appetite when you reintroduce the foods you exclude in your current way of eating? Are you getting irresistable cravings?
Welcome to you too Ed. I'm sorry our discussion was so disappointing you decided to comment negatively rather than contribute what you consider more worthwhile content. I hope you'll read further and find something of merit.
Taubes seems to simplistically imply that if we just cut out carbs we'll all become lean. Doesn't seem to work that way for a lot of people, unfortunately.
@Muata: THANKS! Good to be back, although returning to a foot of snow is no picnic :(
CS, I was led here by your interview with Jimmy, and I have a few statements to make if you don't mind.
I am an admitted Taubes disciple. As a fat kid my whole life, nothing (and I mean nothing) ever worked for me besides LC. And Taubes explained so many things in such detail that I took to his writings and arguments, instantly. I've talked to the guy before, had both books, read the articles, and listened to every podcast on itunes, and watched every lecture on youtube.
Although, I am glad a person like you has come along and posed some questions to him. When I read the email correspondence between the two of you, I wasn't shocked at all. Gary is a prideful guy -- and he's a very smart guy, and I think he should be cut some slack. Yes, you're question(s) are valid, but we must also understand the guy is attacked everywhere he goes that isn't LC friendly. That interview on CNN with Jillian Michaels continues to ring in my ear (and she made herself look so silly in the process).
I do hope you two can stick to the science and get to the root of your arguments, and I hope Gary will answer your questions in detail like he does his won arguments.
Anyway, here's my .02 from a guy who's lived a life fat, and is frankly tired of being confused, fat, sick, and tired:
1.) Whether or not a LC diet decreases appetite and therefore leads to less calorie consumption should not be an arguments against LC. I mean, who cares? Seriously? If you're losing weight, what does it matter? Protein consumption leads to being satisfied; being satisfied leads the mind to thoughts other than food; thinking on things other than food lead to less consumption of fat, protein, and carbs; the less consumption of protein, fat, and carbs lead to weight loss, case closed.
Who cares if the weight lost (and health gained) in a LC diet is from the lack of an insulin response, or because of a negative energy balance? Does it really matter if we're getting healthier, losing weight, feeling better, and eating in moderation?
2.) You guys are much, much too harsh on Naughton. Yes, the guy watched his calories, but he also watched his carb intake as well, and 90-125 carbs a day isn't anything near an Atkins induction. In fact, the guy did a diet that is absolutely feasible in today's America. He should be applauded for it.
And someone said earlier that he lost a lot of muscle. That's not true. His body fat was taken before and after his 4 weeks. He lost a total of 12 pounds, and when his body-fat and body-weight are taken into consideration at both weigh-ins, he lost a total of 10 pounds of body-fat. With a 12 pounds total weight loss, i'm willing to bet the other 2 pounds was water weight.
Naughton showed that a moderate carb/moderate calorie diet can exist even in today's environment, and it can also be beneficial to you.
The one thing about Taubes' arguments that I didn't like is that he rarely talked about vegetables, and even the green leafy vegetables everyone agrees are good for you, he barely mentions.
It all comes down to one thing: human beings were meant to live in balance, and that goes for food as well. If an insulin response is just ONE of the things that lead to fat accumulation, then there's nothing wrong with controlling that response.
But, I do agree with CS that eating fat ad naseum is just as ridiculous as going on a carb binge for a decade.
Anyway, that's .02 from my view of things, and I am glad I found this blog! I hope to enjoy more good information and responses!
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