The LC Dogma Duping of Robb Wolf ...
What duping? Was he was duped, or does he dupe people?
Roughly 10 months ago, Robb Wolf posted the first installment on his "current" views about carbohydrates in the diet: Low Carb And Paleo: My Thoughts Part 1. In it, Robb describes his changing views on dietary composition and body composition through his personal prism of going from highly active, running a gym, etc. to a more sedentary lifestyle involving lots of writing time. As he relates:
I had a tough time remaining lean. I’d cut carbs…but to no effect on body composition. Slowly I realized, both by experimentation and by really looking at the literature: CALORIES MATTERED MORE THAN CARBS FOR BODY-COMP.
Why would he have assumed that? Did he learn this in his undergraduate study towards his biochemistry degree? No. You will not find such nonsensical ideas in textbooks. It would appear, however, that Robb has little if any formal education in physiology and nutrition, and he was taken in by the hypotheses of someone with even less relevant formal education -- a science journalist named Gary Taubes. (Some might find this 2011 podcast interview transcript entertaining.)
As I mentioned above, when I first started eating LC, or more specifically, cyclic low carb (CLC) I was leaner than ever in my life. ... but it was my new-found energy and activity level that drove my leanness, not an inability to store fat in the absence of significant insulin. I think this is one of the most damaging messages that comes out of the LC camp to this day,
I was duped by this,
so I’m not going to do what a lot of other recovered LC writers do and make folks out to be idiots for still believing this…but, it is time to face facts.
... HOWEVER! If one manages to cram enough cheese, olive oil and grass-fed butter down the pie-hole, this is in fact, a “mass gain” diet.
This paragraph is what I've come to recognize as quintessential Robb Wolf. He is taken in by every new or sensationalistic thing that comes down the pike -- especially if it fits in any way in with his paleo schtick. Ahem ... Jack Kruse ... need I say more. But when it's shown to be scientifically bereft, Robb jumps ship and points fingers. Don't you dare question his judgment because (a) he wasn't the only one duped, and (b) any of the others that are speaking out are just doing so out of sour grapes and he's above that. Nonsense.
Given all of the information and legitimate debunkings of Gary Taubes out there, I do believe that it takes a special kind of fool -- mostly a self-imposed ignorance -- to still believe that carbohydrates are fattening via their stimulation of insulin and the myopic view of insulin as a fattening hormone. Further, it takes a special kind of hubris to continue to perpetuate scientifically unfounded "hypotheses" in the face of such a mountain of contradictory peer-reviewed research clearly refuting them. Especially the latest crop of wannabes like Jonathan Bailor, William Lagakos and Kris Gunnars all of whom have either the science creds or backing and claim to be evidence-based in their approaches. Had they come along in 2007-9, they could be excused. But lately? No excuse.
Back to Robb, he apparently got some blowback for saying he was duped. Did he address that in a matter-of-fact way? Of course not. No, rather he lashed out at readers in My Thoughts On Low Carb And Paleo, Part Deux. Reading it again now, he is angry at those who asked how he had been duped into abandoning LC dogma, not realizing that many -- myself included -- picked up on the original phrase in the context in which it was intended, and thought this somewhat of a cop-out after all that. I don't have time to provide you with all the quotes about insulin in his book, but suffice it to say that a search the term in the Kindle version of the book maxes out the search feature at 100 hits, and that's not yet halfway through the book. He discussed insulin a lot. He is still mired in outdated hypotheses put forth by Taubes in GCBC from 30 years ago! These hypotheses, rather than having been substantiated by research in the three intervening decades, have long since been discarded by all but the Science Krispie diet gurus. Sadly, Robb Wolf seems determined to earn his place in that hall of fame as he seems to have learned nothing from the ride he took on Kruse's ice slide.
So ... Robb learned the old fashioned way that, yes, you can indeed store fat even without eating much in the way of carbohydrate. Who knew? Oh, I don't know. How about those Inuit we keep hearing so much about?? One would think that after so many embarrassing missteps and turnabouts Robb might exhibit a little more restraint in the news stories and such that he shares with his 50K+ Twitter followers and countless Facebook followers.
The other day, he thought this was newsworthy to share on Facebook: Could that low-fat diet make you EVEN FATTER? As experts question conventional wisdom on diets, the extraordinary results of one man's experiment. Guess who? Why Sam Feltham of course!! As regulars will recall, Sam did a jokesperiment several months ago where he consumed almost 6000 cal of LCHF for 3 weeks and didn't gain all that much weight. Nevermind that he couldn't be bothered to do the minimum diligence of any such experiment (e.g. establish weight maintenance cals, body composition, and most importantly consuming a pound of notoriously malabsorbed nuts as the entirety of his caloric surplus), in the end we really only have his word to go by and given his penchant for publicity I'd say that it is questionable at best. I would have a hard time eating a pound of nuts per day for three weeks without any additional food, let alone all he ate.
But anyway, so bound and determined to prove some sort of point, Sam repeated this with junky "low fat" foods. That ANYONE is taking this seriously is truly a joke, and none of those people should be taken seriously. But Robb? After being duped himself, or so he claims, by these outlandish kinds of statements? Why is he helping to spread the word that low fat makes you fatter and high fat can actually make you slimmer?
Using such pictures as below (hotlinked from link and link, these are on the website but no longer show up in the article) to prove his case? I know I'm convinced!
But the headline and article fails to stress that he was deliberately way overconsuming calories ... and that his "low fat" diet amounted to 140g fat per day. Any way you butter your bread, this is not a low fat diet ... that's more than a stick of butter!
Dramatic new evidence for this has come from a unique experiment conducted by a personal trainer from East London. As Sam Feltham explains: 'My business is helping people to lose weight, and if all calories aren't equal, that could make a real difference.'
[but later ...]Chris Cashin also questions if he got the amount of calories he claims, and points out that the experiment wasn't at all scientific.For his part, Dr Malhotra is keen for the results of Sam's experiment to be put on a firmer scientific footing because they could be highlighting something important.
I know the sensationalistic media is all for a good stunt, but did this Dr. Malhotra just fall off the turnip truck or something? Does he think this has never been tried? I'm with Cashin here as given Feltham's manipulation of photo angles etc. I'm starting to wonder if he even did the experiment at all. Anyone can stage a weigh in and such. The way the high fat diet is described, he ate fatty fish, meats and eggs interspersed with snacks of nuts implying these were relatively small amounts. He claims to have eaten a pound a day for three weeks. I find that increasingly difficult to even believe, and it explains entirely his result. To quote Diet Doc Eenfeldt, there's something sick about eating so excessively only to poop it all out.
'I've long been sceptical of the claim that all calories are created equal,' says Sam, who's just over 6 ft tall and normally weighs 14 st (89 kg).
'I'm sure I eat more calories than I burn, yet my weight and waist measurement normally remain the same.'
No you don't. You're in energy balance. Yeah, a low fat diet can make you fatter if you overeat ... and there's a reason why Feltham is back to maintenance calories with the bacon and eggs. (Me thinks we've got a closet satfatophobe here afraid of admitting such to the keto-crazed low carbers that support him). It is all just so ridiculous anyway. No serious person should argue the strawman arguments Feltham puts forth. His business is to make money off of people trying to lose weight, and as long as he has some short term success story he's happy to scam you with that.
But I digress with all of this anyway. The main thing is that Sam has caused a resurgence of the "you can be as much of a fat and protein glutton as you want and you can't gain" meme.
It's simply not true.
Robb Wolf's experience was that it is not true.
He came, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, to this conclusion based on his own experience of not being as lean as he'd like just by restricting carbs and having fatty meats. And yet an unbiased look at the scientific literature would have shown this to be the case much sooner.
So one might wonder then, exactly why, when he felt duped into believing this at one point himself, he is promoting publicity stunts by the likes of Sam Feltham. Instead he should be cautioning his followers not to go down that path yet again.
Perhaps Robb feels that the way to get over feeling duped is to become the duper. Looks that way to me. Just remember, the next time Robb Wolf says something like this:
I think this [the inability to store fat in the absence of significant insulin] is one of the most damaging messages that comes out of the LC camp to this day.... that he is part of that camp perpetuating damaging ideas based on flawed science.