Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Out of Office

Hey folks, not going to respond to all the comments until next week.  Tracy and I are on our honeymoon.

Only a few comments I have now:

1) Some of you need to read more carefully.  I clearly stated numerous times that I was NOT claiming that ALL upper paleolithic stone age Eurpeans were obese, only SOME.

2) The literature shows that people can both lower insulin levels and lose fat on low fat high carb diets as well as on low carb diets, so long as it results in reduced caloric intake.  This along with the Japanese experience directly contradicts the claim that 'carbs drive insulin drive fat storage.'   People wedded to this hypothesis are resorting to ad hoc hypotheses--like "Japanese are a different subspecies," or "Different races require different diets," or "we are genetically different from stone age people" -- to "save" their hypothesis.  

Some of you seem not to notice that I am including references to studies on present day Caucasians, that show fat loss on low fat diets, which contradict the hypothesis that high carb diets drive weight gain.  Moreover, I started from citing a direct experience I had with present-day Caucasian subjects gaining fat on low carb, high fat diets.   The Paleo paradigm is just a guide.  Since we don't know exactly what people ate in the stone age, nor how it affected their health or longevity, we have to rely more on studies of present day people. 

3) Studies following people prescribed low carb diets then allowed to range freely (not controlled metabolic ward studies) consistently show that people eat more carbs than prescribed (e.g. by Atkins guidelines). Why don't people comply?  If you say weak character, you are falling into the same trap of people who claim people are overweight because they are gluttons and sloths. 

I suggest that they don't comply because they have a drive to eat carbohydrate that is not satisfied by the low carb diet.  We also have a drive for essential amino acids, and for essential fatty acids.  These basic drives influence total food intake.

Please keep in mind that modern humans have 6 times more salivary amylase production than chimpanzees.  This is a clear adaptation to starch consumption.  I don't see any surprise in finding a drive to eat carbohydrate in an animal that has clear biochemical adaptation to starch digestion.  

4) I cited both rat and human studies in the one you can't dismiss the human studies (or Japanese experience) by saying that rats are different from humans.

5) STudies of weight loss using low carb diets show a range of  responses....some subjects lose, some don't, some even gain.  Only the average is reported, not the individual responses...if there is loss on average, this obscures individual variations.  When I return, I will be presenting my hypothesis which I think covers all the bases and allows for individual variation...which is totally ignored in conventional science.

6) I never said that we should be eating only unsaturated fats.  If you eat beef only, as your only fat source, you will get more unsaturated than saturated fats.  Same with lard.  So, I am only saying that most of the fat we eat should be unsaturated (mono and poly, just enough of the latter).

7)  Protein-rich foods stimulate insulin release.  Using Taubesian reasoning: If insulin drives fat gain, and protein causes insulin release, then a high protein diet could drive fat gain in SOME people.  

That's enough.  More when I get back, rejuvenated.


Sharon Burress said...

I really want you to enjoy your honeymoon, but I am hanging here, waiting for your theory of how to make sense of all these findings you have reported in your last five blogs. I have been on a mostly primal diet, with fairly low carbs and higher fats and proteins. I lost 40 lbs at first (out of the 150 I need to lose), but have stopped losing. I am eating NO grains and no added sugars, so I thought, by all I had read from Paleo and Primal sources, that I could not possibly fail to lose weight, but I have failed to lose more than that first 40. I have had no cravings, for which I am most grateful, but I am desperate to lose the weight, too.

Don said...


You are exactly the type of responder that I am trying to address. I will not sweep this under the rug and say that high fat, high protein works for everyone, that everyone has such supreme appetite control on high fat high protein that it is impossible to overeat and gain weight and everyone will lose weight and attain ideal body composition so long as s/he goes low in carbs and high in fat/protein.

sburress said...

So, I am going to have to resign myself to being slightly hungry (I'm afraid of the cravings; they cannot be denied indefinitely), or do I just have to be more judicious in my choices by also counting macronutrient grams and calories? Do I need to experiment to find the right balance or is there an ideal out there somewhere?

sburress said...

By the way, thank you for responding to my enquiry so quickly! And on your honeymoon!!

cathy said...

Enjoy your honeymoon. I lost nearly 20 pounds on a low-fat diet (weight watchers). Started reading, switched to paleo, somewhere between 30-50 G carbs/day. Not losing anymore. Husband, however, is losing even more rapidly than before. Grrr.
Can't wait to see yours - and Stephan's - new ideas -

Have fun!

Beth@WeightMaven said...

Don, hope you have a great honeymoon. I'm actually with you on the idea that VLC may not work for everyone Or as Robert Lustig said on his Jimmy Moore podcast:

"I think a low-carb diet has a lot of things going for it. My question is whether or not it is necessary for the majority of the population."

I'm just not sure that the Venus of Willendorf was the best way to prove your point! Then again, hey, you got everyone's attention.

And, it may be the carb addict in me, but I just don't have it in me to swear off carbs for the long-term. I like what Yoni Freedhoff says: "it's about the healthiest life you can enjoy, not the healthiest life you can tolerate."

Matt Schoeneberger MS said...

Don, Don, Don, where do I begin? Your first mistake is that you're actively attempting to avoid dogmatic thinking. That doesn't fly in this industry. How can you expect to win if you're not an unwavering member of a team? Next, you cite research that supports both teams. You can't do that! You should ignore research that supports the other team at all costs and only cite research that supports your side. If an opponent brings up support for their side, try sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "La la la la, I'm not listening!" For such a wise man, you have so much to learn :)

Hope you're both having a great time!

Ms. Strathman said...

Like Sharon, I am so grateful that some of my favorite bloggers are starting to address what factors might make some people (mostly women, it seems to me) not lose weight while following a lowish-carb paleo diet. I feel so much better eating this way, but I've gained back the 20 pounds I lost when I started without changing the eating habits that led to the weight loss in the first place. I don't gorge on nuts or cheese, nor do I eat sticks of butter or pounds of meat every day. I range from 1500-2000 calories a day and am moderately active. What made paleo work when I started and why did it quit working?!?

sburress said...

Additional information: I am 25 years post-bariatric surgery (verticle banded gastroplasty), so my portion sizes are pretty much predetermined for me. I sporadically spot check my calorie intake and it ranges from 890-1800/day.

MM said...


I'm also one of the non-responders you are talking about. I lost 20 pounds on low carb, and then stalled for about 1.5 yrs. (I'm female, late 30s) It was only by being highly vigilant that I didn't gain it all back. I discovered carbsanity ( maybe six months ago and finally was able to let go of the "carbs kill" mindset. I've been able to lose another 13 pounds by eating more carbs and less fat. Anyway, I just wanted to add my n=1 to your data pool. Glad to see a paleo blogger come out and say that LC isn't a panacea. Thanks, and have a great honeymoon.

Dan said...

My girlfriend also had similar results on a LC diet: fat accumulation where it was not before, fat lost in onther areas, but lots of muscle gain. I, however, have great success with my paleo lifestyle. Is it possible there is a gender bias for diet?

Dan said...

What could popssibly cause someone to put on weight in the presence of caloric deficit? If the subjects who "failed" on Atkins were following it as prescribed, technically they should have been in a caloric deficit. Were they exceeding their idividual caloric requirements?

hellojtm said...

the protein intakes that drive insulin up also drive up glucagon. I don't actually understand why this is, but it clears up why a high protein diet won't induce fat storage like sugar does. Insulin and glucagon are balanced in the body, if insulin is much higher than glucagon then you will be more likely to store fat, vice versa if glucagon is higher you are more likely to burn/consume muscle.

Eric said...

Great stuff Don. Have fun on the honeymoon :)

I do like the ideas you present on the topic of amylase/starch-adapted and whatnot. This is clearly an indication (among with evidence of many people found to be quite healthy on higher carb diets) that there is more to this than reducing carb for losing weight. In certain sub-portions of the population, yes, maybe, but, I suspect, as you do, that there is much more to it. However, I would be prudent in stating that people following low-carb diets, hopefully with the benefit of improvement in a host of health markers, including body composition, should naturally follow their "inclination" for higher carb consumption; not saying that's wrong but, to me, that's a bit akin to saying that an alcoholic should be allowed a little alcohol, wouldn't it!?

I guess that ultimately, it all depends on the individual...

Again, hope you have a good time with your other half :)

Sara said...

I hope you are enjoying your honeymoon! Looking forward to hearing more when you get back.

mikki said...

Congratulations to you both!

batty said...

I don't know if my input means anything, but I went VLC for a while after about 5 months or so of LC eating. My energy tanked, all I wanted to do is lay on the couch, and I gained 25 lbs. I am a Caucasian female.
I've been a reader for a while but never have commented. I'd like to thank you for the objectivity of your posts. Enjoy the honeymoon.