As quoted from the pages of The Guardian, in this study 148 obese adults were asked to reduce the consumption of saturated fats such as meat, milk, and butter.
The group that runs the low-carbohydrate diet to replace the calories with sweet consumption of processed foods with cheese and red meat, as well as fish and nuts. September 2009 – I eliminated most sources of sugar in my diet (for a definition of “sugar” click here) six days per week.
January 2011 – I reduced starch intake to one serving per day, but continued to eat fruits and vegetables in an unrestricted manner. May 2011 – Reduced carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day and reduced protein intake to approximately 120 grams per day, entering a state of nutritional ketosis. Another way to see the implications of these changes on my actual intake is shown in the figure below.
The most externally obvious change that occurred as I ratcheted down my carbohydrate intake was a decrease in body fat.
The other (profoundly simple) “test” I used to track my weight loss was my waist measurement. Between February 2010 and July 2010 I had a bad bout of swine flu, which left me in pretty rough shape for a while. Pay more attention to fat mass, separately, than overall body weight, and do the same with lean mass. Most people, especially physically active people, probably experience some seasonal variation in body fat, especially at low levels. Cutting calories through dietary restriction has been shown to lower cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and even prolong life in mammals. The investigators compared three 8-week diets varying in protein-to-carbohydrate ratio under conditions where food was restricted or food was available at all times. Even though the mice on LPHC diets ate more when food was always available, their metabolism was higher than that of mice on the calorie-restricted diet, and they did not gain more weight. Additional research is needed to determine how LPHC diets affect long-term metabolic health and survival, as well as to what extent the type and quality of proteins and carbohydrates matter. If the study's results apply to humans, adjusting protein and carbohydrate intake could lead to healthier aging in a more realistic manner than drastically cutting calories. Food intake is regulated primarily by dietary protein and carbohydrate, and not by the number of calories consumed, according to the most comprehensive study of macronutrient balance ever undertaken. It may be possible to live longer and increase fertility by manipulating diet, according to world-first research in mice from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre.
A new study from King's College London offers clues as to why chronic pain can persist, even when the injury that caused it has gone. Dandruff is not caused by a fungus, as many believe, but by an imbalance between two competing bacteria that naturally colonise the human scalp, according to a study released Thursday.
It's rare for scientists to get what they describe as "clean" results without spending a lot of time repeating the same experiment over and over again.
There are several layers to this and, frankly, there are some things we can’t fully explain – I’ll always acknowledge this. Take a look again at the figure below, which shows you how many calories folks are consuming on each diet and, more importantly, where those calories come from. You’ll note that people on these diets, including the strictest low-fat high-carb diets, significantly reduce their total amount of carbohydrates (therefore reducing the amount of insulin they secrete). The reason, I believe, most of these diets have some efficacy – at least in the short-term – is that they all reduce sugar and highly refined carbohydrate intake, either explicitly or implicitly. Someone made a great point in response to my post on why fruits and vegetables are not actually necessary for good health. I know a lot of people who eat this way and, I’ve got to say, these folks do not eat a lot of sugar or a lot of highly refined carbohydrates. While I do plan to write an entire post on this topic of what one can and cannot conclude from an experiment, I do want to at least make the point here: The biggest single problem with nutrition “science” is that cause and effect are rarely linked correctly.
I am, to be clear, not implying this is the case for this trial, but I want you to understand why it’s important to read papers fully.
This trial, The Lifestyle Heart Trial, prospectively randomized a group of not-so-healthy patients into two treatment groups: the control group and the experimental group (or what we’d call the “treatment” or “intervention” group). First off, and perhaps most importantly from the standpoint of drawing conclusions, compliance was reported to be excellent and the differences between the groups were statistically significant on every metric, except total average caloric intake. Take a moment to look over the rest of the table (or just skip reading it since I’m going to keep talking about it anyway). Though not shown in this table, the experimental group also reported less chest pain severity (though chest pain frequency and duration were not statistically different). Let’s take a leap of faith and hypothesize that the dietary intervention (rather than, say, the social support) had the greatest impact on the measured parameters in the subjects.  It’s certainly the most likely factor in my mind.  But what, exactly, can I conclude? People don’t like to be hungry, and if they are reducing their caloric intake by reducing fat intake, they seldom find themselves satiated. Semi-starvation reduces basal metabolic rate, so your body actually adjusts to the “new” norm and slows down its rate of mobilizing internal fat stores. I argue that reduction of fat intake has nothing to do with it and that the reduction of total calories has a transient effect.
It’s *really* tough to study this stuff properly, especially compared to studying things blood pressure lowering pills, which are complex in their own right, but MUCH easier to control in a study.
A nutrition department of a university accepts funds from a company that makes confectionery. Do you think the Academy’s supporters want to hear that if you eliminate their products you will no longer need to rely on the products provided by the biggest supporters of the Diabetic Association? Pretty much solely because of their report, Suzuki was forced to eventually withdraw the Samurai from production in the US although they later won the lawsuit that was filed as a result of the forged report by showing videos from the actual testing of the car conducted by CR. Ironically, the fact that CR had to admit it was faked somehow wasn’t plastered all over their magazines and the front pages of a bunch of newspapers. At that point, everything they publish became suspect and may as well line a birdcage somewhere. Peter, I have a coworker who has recently lost 80lbs over the course of a year on weight watchers.
Looking forward to your next post, and of course people's comments for the current one! I will discuss all of this in great detail, hopefully in the coming month, when I do a post on PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids).
Anyway, it’s nice to discover someone who takes the Taubes viewpoint on things, and also takes the time to actually post online about it with some frequency, so thanks!
Oh absolutely, I was mostly referring to the fact that most of the excess carbs we eat are converted to palmitic acid, which is a SFA.
There was an (1) average protein, low fat group (65% CHO), (2) High protein, low fat group , (3) Average protein, high fat, and (4) high protein, high fat (35% CHO).
Thanks very much, Bob, both for the kind comments and for sharing the other data with folks. Hidden Carbs: Items that you incorrectly believe have 0 carbs because why would they put carbs in them? Portion Size: That ice cream really was good!  Too bad one pint was actually 4 servings!  Manufacturers intentionally list small serving sizes to get the numbers low. Set the total calories relative to your total burn.  Their estimate is decent but you can see below that it lists my BMR at 2620 and I have set my goal to 2000, so this is 620 deficit per day x 7 days = 4340 Calories. Add as many measurements as you would like, I would recommend Neck, Waist, Hips, Thigh, Chest, Arms.  You will be grateful later when you have tracked all of these and can see your progress. So there you have it!  Now you have fully configured your MFP for success!  Stay tuned for the next installment that will talk about how to use MFP daily and the pitfalls associated with it.
Hi there, I’d really like to get this to work, but seems none of the script pages to install will work? From what I’ve read you need to be using Firefox to download the script, and download GreaseMonkey as well. Kris, little late but not just Firefox, you can install scripts like this on Chrome as well, works fine.
Previously: Mainstream Nutrition Science on Obesity, Atkins Redux, Did the US Government Give Us Absurd Advice About Sugar?, What Causes Obesity? If you've been wondering what these posts are doing on LessWrong and you haven't read this comment yet, I urge you to do so. To recap: so taking in more calories than you burn will cause you to gain weight, though calorie intake and expenditure are in turn controlled by a number of mechanisms.
Unfortunately, the NWCR is working with a self-selected sample and asking them what they did after the fact. We may not be able to conclude anything more from the NWCR data than that a significant minority of dieters do succeed at long-term weight loss, some through calorie-restricted diets, some through low-fat diets, and some through low-carb diets. This reality, however, hasn't stopped the authorities from recommending the approach, which makes reading such recommendations an exercise in what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance," the tension that results from trying to hold two incompatible beliefs simultaneously. Take, for instance, the Handbook of Obesity, a 1998 textbook edited by three of the most prominent authorities in the field—George Bray, Claude Bouchard, and W.
The latest edition (2005) of Joslin's Diabetes Mellitus, a highly respected textbook for physicians and researchers, is a more recent example of this cognitive dissonance. But look at the actual sources and it turns out that, surprise surprise, mainstream experts aren't idiots after all.
Successful treatment of obesity, defined as treatment that results in sustained attainment of normal body weight and composition without producing unacceptable treatment induced morbidity, is rarely achievable in clinical practice.
Suppose for a moment that this is true, that long-term weight loss is rare regardless of the approach. It's also worth mentioning that neither of these sources ignore the debate over low-carb diets.
Dietary composition may play a role in long-term success in weight loss and weight maintenance.
Recently, increased interest has focused on the possibility that diet content may affect appetite. I assume the author of the Joslin's article would say, however, that low-carb diets haven't been shown to completely solve the problem of long-term weight loss being really hard. To the best of my knowledge, there have been only two randomized, controlled trials of low-carb diets that have covered a period of two years (and none covering a longer period than that). Furthermore, if you believe the rule about weight lost to dieting coming back in five years, it seems likely that would happen to both groups.
Note that the Israeli study also found that that participants in all three groups significantly reduced their caloric intake, supporting the hypothesis that even diets that don't explicitly restrict calorie intake work by reducing calorie intake indirectly.
What about the other study, published in 2010, which Taubes has hailed as "the biggest study so far on low-carb diets"?
That's right, this study found no statistically significant difference between low-fat and low-carb diets in terms of weight loss, and again show the typical pattern of people losing weight in the first six months and then slowly gaining it back.
Long-time readers of LessWrong, however, will realize that the universe is allowed to throw us problems with no good solution. Just imagine: "It's doctors and pharmaceutical companies that caused your cancer in the first place.
Early on in the process of writing this series, I said when it was over with I'd do a post-mortem to look at how I could have broken it up better. But there are other issues here, the big meta-issue being that downvotes don't help me distinguish between people thinking the posts were completely off-topic for Lesswrong vs. Gastric bypass isn't just drastic, it can be deadly or have major life-altering side effects. If I remember right, gastric bypass has been mostly superseded by other, less risky techniques, like sleeve gastrectomy.
You can use Google Docs to create an anonymous feedback form, but I don't know the details of setting it up; I just know that Luke has one.
One element which I think is somewhat misleading is the seeming equivalence you are drawing between low-carb and low-fat diets.

Questions of nutrition often touch on this weird gray area of human knowledge, where even though science has many answers, it still doesn't have the resources to give us ALL the answers with statistical significance. Even a few days of not eating much pasta or bread or rice or potatoes or legumes or beer or fruits feels very unnatural to me; conversely I actually get tired of eating meat if I eat lots of it for a few days in a row. Feeling tired after eating low-carb for only a couple days is an extremely well-known temporary side effect, so I'm surprised you weren't aware of it if you were actually intentionally going on a low-carb diet. So, what's wrong with the National Weight Control Registry mentioned in the OP, which is self-selected for persistent weight loss but not for diet used to achieve it?
From a public health perspective, the diets that you prescribe can only be of limited complexity and time-cost.
I can't see how prescribing a low-calorie diet is that much more complex than prescribing a low-fat one or a low-carb one.
Low-calorie diets are complex because you can eat any food, but you have to track the calories of every item you eat to ensure that you don't go over your daily calorie budget. Has there been a comparrison done of the relative micro-nutrient levels of low carb vs low fat diets?
Interestingly, I saw on article on the topic of micronutrients and hunger just a few days ago here.
I think its very plausible that nutrient deficiency could manifest as hunger, generating weight gain as the body compels oneself to eat enough to fulfill nutrient requirements despite the excess of calories. Or there's multiple needs that play on the same mechanism, making it harder to tangle out specific causes, rather than simpler. And also, you are assuming we have identified every micronutrient are are capable of adequately fortifying a donut with them.
Well there are a lot of possibilities, but if there are multiple micronutrients in play, then doughnuts could be fortified with all of them. If the micronutrient hypothesis were correct, surely someone would have noticed by now that if you eat a serving of miracle foods X and Y every day, then the rest of the day you can eat whatever you want in the amounts you want and get and stay thin.
There was a wave of spam some years back for a type of bread that supposedly drastically reduced hunger. If rather than keeping track of how many grams of fats (or carbs) you're eating you can just abstain from foods with lots of fats (or carbs), can't you do the same with calories too?
Unfortunately, trying to restrict total calories this way without counting gives you a relatively narrow margin of error, and most of us aren't very well-calibrated.
Then again, if one day you overshoot by 25% and another day you undershoot by 25%, the (first-order) effects cancel out (there are second-order effects, but they are, well, second-order). And once you know that water has no calories in it you no longer need to track anything about it.
This is a hard-to-miss study by Tulane University, which finds that contrary to decade-old warnings about the risks of a high-fat diet, eating more fat can help you lose weight and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
This is because plants contain fibers, which lower risks for cardiovascular diseases and various cancers. Content (text, audio, video) on this website is only intended to provide general information to the reader and is not intended to be used as medical advice, professional diagnosis or treatment.
Signup to get the most important weekly news roundup from across the web about Health, Wellness & Fitness. Meanwhile, they were also asked to reduce the high carbohydrate foods such as white bread, sugary cereals, and other processed foods. Both groups also had better cholesterol levels, reduced body fat, and muscle mass is more dense. As a result, I probably lost more lean mass than I would have liked, or expected to, even transiently. My body fat probably fluctuations between 7 and 10% over the course of year now, often a function of activity type (more than activity level).
Now, new research publishing on May 28th in Cell Reports shows that, at least in mice, low protein, high carbohydrate diets can provide benefits similar to those obtained with calorie restriction. Of the three, low protein, high carbohydrate (LPHC) diets offered when food was always available delivered similar benefits as calorie restriction in terms of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, despite increased food intake.
It has been associated with the ability to reduce the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases and to improve overall health. Researchers have found a new health benefit of resveratrol, which occurs naturally in blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, grape skins and consequently in red wine. Just a pity that the ones used in the study won't feel any difference as they ended in the shredder anyway.
That said, many of the successes (at least weight-wise, though hopefully by now you realize there is much more to health than just body composition) of popular diets can be explained by a few simple observations. You can argue that those who are overweight probably consume an even greater amount of carbohydrates. Even the Ornish diet, which is the most restrictive diet with respect to fat and most liberal with respect to carbohydrates, still reduces carbohydrate intake by about 40% from what people were likely eating pre-diet.
No one on the Ornish Diet or Jenny Craig Diet is eating candy bars and potato chips, at least not if they are adhering to it.
The point was, essentially, that telling people to eat 5-6 servings per day of fruits and vegetables can hopefully drive a beneficial substitution effect. I have no intention of engaging in a battle with proponents of plant-based eating or no-saturated-fat diets. Stated another way, it’s one thing to observe an outcome, but it’s quite another to conclude the actual cause of that outcome. In other words, for every intended difference between the groups a difference existed, except that on average they ate the same number of calories (though obviously from very different sources), which was not intended to be different as both groups were permitted to eat ad libitum – meaning as much as they wanted. Ornish’s study?  I think the reduction in sugar and simple carbohydrates played the largest single role in the improvements experienced by the experimental group, but I can’t prove it from this study any more than one can prove a low-fat vegetarian diet is the “best” diet.  We can only conclude that it’s better than eating Twinkies and potato chips which, admittedly, is a good thing to know.
And, the majority of the benefit folks receive comes from the reduction of sugars and highly refined carbohydrates.
Case in point…they recently reported that olive oil is not good for you because it does not contain omega 6.
3, has a good point about some plans (including WW) having the advantage of group support, which I think is a very major confounder.
It is wonderful to watch these people glow once they have found some sort of solution to their weight problem.
One of my favorite things to say to people who are scared of saturated fat is that even on an entirely plant based diet, (ala Ornish Diet), if they are restricting their caloric intake, their bodies will be running on the saturated (animal) fat that they have stored on themselves. For example the degree of unsaturated fatty acids in our membrane bilayer probably plays a role in our insulin sensitivity, just as one example. You can still install the script by downloading it and dragging it into the Chrome extensions page.
I just couldn’t figure out where the setting was to change the daily nutritional goals (kept going right over it, of course) and this was perfect. I have all the columns you outlined above, I downloaded Tampermonkey, installed the script, and zilch. The newest version of Chrome seems to break the script, so if you download the previous version, it should work.
Along with most nutritional information labeling, it is regulated by the government (USDA or FDA).
Remember, though, that as discussed in previous posts there's little reason to think low-fat or low-carb diets could cause weight loss except by indirectly affecting energy balance. The chapter on obesity was written by Jeffrey Flier, an obesity researcher who is now dean of Harvard Medical School, and his wife and research colleague, Terry Maratos-Flier.
The second quote from the Handbook of Obesity comes from a paragraph explaining that given how hard obesity is to treat, doctors face a "Shakespearean" dilemma of whether to attempt to treat it at all. Many therapeutic approaches can bring about short-term weight loss, but long-term success is infrequent regardless of the approach. If it is, no "cognitive dissonance" is required to recommend treatments that sometimes work. The Handbook of Obesity criticizes Atkins-style low carb diets at some length, but also says that, "Moderate restriction of carbohydrates may have real calorie-reducing properties." And the Joslin's article ends up being fairly positive towards low-carb diets in general (p. For example, a study comparing a moderate-fat diet consisting of 35% energy from fat and a low-fat diet in which 20% of energy was derived from fat demonstrated enhanced weight loss assessed by total weight loss, BMI change, and decrease in waist circumference in the group on the moderate-fat diet.
For example, diets with a low glycemic index may be useful in preventing the development of obesity; subjects given test meals with different glycemic indexes and then allowed free access to food ate less after eating meals with a low glycemic index.
Intriguingly, though, while participants on the Mediterranean diet didn't initially lose as much weight as those on the low-carb diet, the weight regain didn't seem to happen as much on the Mediterranean diet.
Together, these two studies support the picture painted by Joslin's: low-carb diets may work somewhat better for weight loss, but they don't appear to solve the problem of long-term weight loss being really hard. He goes to great lengths to play up the unpleasantness of calorie-restricted diets, but tells his readers that if they just stick to their low-carb diet theunpleasant side-effects will go away eventually. If your case isn't bad enough to justify something drastic like gastric bypass surgery, your main option is diets which sometimes work but usually don't.
That's something that may be especially worth keeping in mind when evaluating claims in the vicinity of medicine and nutrition. However, Vaniver has given me what seems like good advice on that issue, which I plan to follow in the future. The world seems to be split between fat acceptance advocates who don't want to hear success stories and will tell you a tremendous amount about the disasters (which definitely do exist) and the people who say they know a moderate number of people in their social circle who are doing well after the surgery.
While I am very interested in nutrition and have done much reading on the topic, I'm not a huge fan of Taubes', in spite of that fact that I think low-carb dieting actually is superior for most people and that many of the points he makes about the conventional wisdom are correct. While you note that low-carb diets have higher prevalence of side effects, they also show statistically significant benefits in areas other than weight loss, including relative improvements in blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and insulin sensitivity. It's not really a false dichotomy because the difference between those two modes of weight loss is precisely what I was making a point about, what Gary Taubes is talking about, and what all the researchers have studied.
I never said anything was wrong with it, so I'm not really sure what you'd like me to address about it or how it relates to my argument.
Low-fat and low-carb diets tend to simply disallow the dieter from eating categories of food, which requires no record-keeping and no-math.
All of the research trials I've read on low-carb diets specifically state the total number of grams or Calories from carbohydrates in the diet.
He cites two studies on multivitamins that show in one case no impact on appetite, and in another case an increase in fasting desire to eat but no impact on hunger, fullness, or prospective food consumption.
I mean, whether you cut fat or carbs you still have access to a variety of meat and vegetables, and people would want to study one variable at a time. Under the micronutrient theory, you could arguably control your weight by eating micro-nutrient fortified doughnuts for breakfast. You need calories and nutrients from food to function properly, why should hunger only arise from one? If excessive eating results from a deficiency of 10 micronutrients, it's reasonable to expect that supplementing 5 of them would have a marked impact.
Especially since people have been searching for foods like this for years with little success.
A normal calorie deficit for weight loss means eating ~20% below your maintenance level, so if you overshoot by 25% (quite easy to do when you're not measuring portion sizes), you're making zero progress and don't even know there's a problem. Rather, stick with what scientists have known for decades: A low-fat, plant-based diet is decidedly best for our health. There is no calorie restriction, but the second group was able to cut 500-700 calories per day.
Low carb low calorie diet was defined as an intake of 40 grams per day, while the low-fat diet means 30 percent of fat per day, in which saturated fat to less than seven percent of the total. My goal was to reduce my waist to 32 inches and I calculated I would need to lose 20 pounds of fat, without losing any muscle mass, to do this.
Lean mass took a big hit initially (although I believe in my case, the prolonged illness didn’t help), but then recovered.
LPHC diets under ad-libitumfed conditions generate the metabolic benefits of caloric restriction without a 40 percent reduction in total caloric intake.

But for the purpose of simplicity, let’s assume even the folks who go on these diets are consuming the national average of approximately 450 grams of carbohydrate per day (in compliance with governmental recommendations, as a percent of overall intake). If you tell someone who eats Twinkies, potato chips, and candy bars all day to eat more fruit (and they do), you’ve almost guaranteed an improvement in their health if they eat bananas and apples instead of the aforementioned junk food.
I’m reasonably confident that the proponents of these diets are good people who really want to help others and have nothing but the best intentions. Ornish was the principle investigator on a trial published in the journal The Lancet in 1990. In other words, there were not enough subjects in the study to determine a difference in these “hard” outcomes, so we can’t make a conclusion about such events, only the changes in “soft” outcomes. Good science, bad interpretationGravity and insulin: the dynamic duoIf low carb eating is so effective, why are people still overweight? His clinical interests are nutrition, lipidology, endocrinology, and a few other cool things. Eg, the criticism of the Ornish Lifestyle Heart Trial is excellent (and I LOVED the kitten-stroking quip), and really could and should have stood alone. After short diologue with her on the particulars of her daily intake I quickly realized her consumption of carbohydrate was significantly reduced and eliminated almost all fructose.
Tampermonkey also has a safari extension Install the extension then follow the link to install the script just as the instructions detail. You can try to intervene directly in the mechanisms controlling food intake, one of the most well-known examples of this being gastric bypass surgery, admittedly a bit of a drastic option. A commonly cited rule (for example here) is that most people who lose weight through dieting will regain it all in five years.
36-38), though Good Calories, Bad Calories contains similar comments, including about the Handbook of Obesity and Joslin's. The Fliers also describe "reduction of caloric intake" as "the cornerstone of any therapy for obesity." But then they enumerate all the ways in which this cornerstone fails.
Retention in the diet study was greater among those actively participating in the weight loss program in this group compared with 20% in the low-fat diet group. Some data suggest that diets with a high glycemic index predispose to increased postprandial hunger, whereas diets focused on glycemic index and information regarding portion control lead to higher rates of success in weight loss, at least among adolescent populations. The first, an Israeli study published in 2008, also also included a group assigned to a Mediterranean diet. If, as Taubes claims, data like this shows that low-calorie diets "simply doesn't work for more than a few months," does this data justify saying the same thing about low-carb diets? Don't you now there are all-natural ways you can cure your cancer?" If someone says that to you, then knowing that the universe is unfair, and that sometimes the best solution it gives you to a problem will have serious downsides, well knowing that just might save your life.
I think this is the first article in the series that appeals to me at all, with its greater focus on the actual available state of our knowledge and a lesser focus on Taubes specifically. Notably, in 6 month and longer studies low-carb had better attrition rates, which is the key to the long-term weight loss conundrum if you are making decisions for yourself (source).
Better yet, try a low-fat diet for 3 months and a low-carb diet for 3 months and see which feels more natural and which improves your health markers more.
A gigantic number of people have been able to select themselves for losing truly massive amounts of weight. The most damaging foods for a dieter are those that are hyper-palatable, generally consisting of high levels of both fat and carbohydrates (think cookies, french fries, doughnuts). If someone is using low-carb to refer to low-sugar diets they are probably confused themselves, and spreading it to everyone else. Besides, it's also reasonable assume that these micronutrients are around in varying amounts in different kinds of foods. Sameena hopes to drive people's attention towards their health so that they can live better, healthier, longer and trouble-free lives! We do not undertake any responsibility or liability of any health issues caused by following advise on this website. However, another assumption says low carb low calorie diet can actually be more effective for weight loss than low-fat diet.
It’s a pretty remarkable test that is now the gold standard for measuring body composition. As silly as this sounds, I recall, back in the spring of 2009 while stuck in an airport, using calculus to integrate the volume of fat I needed to lose from my waist (both visceral – around my organs – and under my skin) to get down to a 32-inch waist.
Total body weight is shown on top of each bar, while the blue bar represents lean tissue and the red bar represents fat. Popularity, of course, was determined by a number of factors, including compliance with current government recommendations (sorry Atkins), number of people who have tried the diet, and reported success on the diets. That doesn’t mean bananas and apples are “good for you” – it just means they are less “bad for you.” Here’s the kicker, though. But that doesn’t mean we can or should overlook the errors being made in drawing their conclusions.
I’m not discounting soft outcomes, only pointing out the distinction for folks not familiar with them.
They never factor in that the chicken was breaded or that when someone ate steak or fish they had a large amount of bread of potatoes along with it. I installed the script in Chrome (in Windows XP it worked fine, in Windows 7 I have to reinstall it every time I start up the browser because it won’t save it in my extensions folder). However, it's important to emphasize that some people do lose weight through dieting and keep it off long-term. And the percentage following low-carb diets was originally small, but it's risen over time. Taubes begins by citing a review article covering calorie-restricted diets that found that "Typically, nine or ten pounds are lost in the first six months.
Low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet appear to be associated with significant weight loss.
So maybe just experiment and try to figure out which foods let you personally eat in moderation and not feel hungry. However, I've read enough of the literature on medical quackery to know Taubes' rhetorical tactics can be used for much more dangerous ends. I recognize that it is rude to say so, but I can't help but suspect that your moral position with regards to eating animal products likely affects the way that you have researched, thought about, and framed this evidence. The intersection between people who can successfully count calories and explicitly track macronutrients for years and the people who are overweight is small. But tracking calories involves knowing how many calories are in every food item you may want to eat and knowing how much and which you've eaten throughout the day. Back when I was in high school we relied on a combination of calipers (in the hands of an experienced user) and something called hydrostatic testing, where you are weighed in and out of water to calculate your percentage of body fat. It’s actually an easy problem if you can remember how to integrate the volume of an oval “cylinder” and you know the density of fat.
Hence, in September 2009, I weighed 195 pounds, of which 156 was lean, 39 was fat, and my body fat (the number below) was 20%. We’re led to believe that the reason such folks get leaner and more healthy is because they are eating more fruits or more vegetables or more grains or more [fill-in-the-blank], rather than because they eliminated the most egregious offenders from their diet. Ornish personally, and I can only assume that he is a profoundly caring physician who has dedicated his life to helping people live better lives. But as always, I STRONGLY encourage folks with access (or folks who are willing to purchase it) to read the paper in its entirety.
But both of these observations may just reflect the relative popularity of those approaches in the general population.
However, this diet has not been systematically studied, nor has long-term maintenance of weight loss. Keep Eliezer's advice in Beware of Other Optimizing in mind, and if one thing doesn't work for you, try something else. This creates an excellent opportunity for someone like Taubes: imply that if the experts admit they don't have a great solution to the problem, then clearly they don't know what they're talking about, and therefore your solution is sure to work! So suggestions on how I could best solicit anonymous feedback would be especially appreciated. In the same way that the world is allowed to throw us problems with no good solution, it's also allowed to make any particular "morally desirable" position the more costly, difficult, and unhealthy.
The intersection between people who are overweight and can successfully eat low-fat or low-carb diets is still apparently small (based on the studies), but larger than those who can track calories.
Both low-carb and low-fat diets restrict these foods, one because of the fat content and one because of the carbohydrate content. To that end, the Institute of Medicine recommends taking no more than 35 percent of calories from fat.
Doing in the “wrong” way can result in equal loss of fat and lean mass (or, worse yet, disproportionate loss of lean mass). For people who don’t want to read the study completely, or who may not have much experience reading clinical papers, I want to devote some time to digging into this paper. The end conclusion is the whole thing must be bad and therefore needs to be reduced or outright expunged from the diet. I recall hearing Gary talking about his discussion with a participant from the Biggest loser on Larry King and the rapant weight gain after the show.
But then it states, a few paragraphs later, that the results of such energy-reduced diets "are known to be poor and not long-lasting." So why is such an ineffective therapy the cornerstone of treatment? If you need to lose 200 pounds, it may just be that those studies don't capture every relevant fact. It’s hard to tell if this change was statistically significant by inspection, so you glance at the p-value which tells you it was not. That is one big difference I’ve noticed between studies cited by writers who want to condemn the entire diet consumed by Americans vs those who look at it with a more in depth eye and realize that certain components are the problem not the whole diet across the board. There never will be large randomized studies on the weight loss of people who need to lose this much weight. Reducing fat intake 35-40 percent of total calories is 15-20 per cent shown to lower total cholesterol and Low-density Lipoprotein much as 10-20 percent. Without any loss of lean tissue, I had reduced fat mass to 13 pounds and body fat to under 8%. Why did the people in the China Study who ate more plants do better than those who ate more animals (assuming they did)? Well, for starters, reading abstracts, hearing CNN headlines, or reading about studies in the NY Times doesn’t actually give you enough information to really understand if the results are applicable to you.
Once I found the two entries where the fibre calculation is done, it was easy to update the script and apply it to my browser. Parenthetically, if you actually want the answer to this question, beyond my peripheral address, below, please read Denise Minger’s categorically brilliant analysis of the study.
Beyond this reason, and let me be uncharacteristically blunt, just because a study is published in a medical journal it does not imply that is worth the paper it is printed on. Steve Rosenberg, once told me that a great number of published studies are never again cited (I forget the exact number, but it was staggering, over 50%).
Translation: whatever they published was of such little value that no one ever made reference to it again. The thing is, it is possible to eliminate wheat and still eat way too many carbs (can we say ice cream?). I’m now happily in ketosis, and the best part is, I know the WHY of weight loss now, how totally liberating and hope giving.

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