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.
This crushes your RMR and makes it super easy to gain fat back once the person goes off of the diet…which will happen eventually. Humans have been eating regular food for a long time, and we’ve managed to achieve healthy, lean bodies without all of this junk before…and we can do it now. How?  It all starts with looking at nutrition from a much different angle than you’re probably used to hearing about.
Author of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and "Why We Get Fat," Taubes has converted many readers from low-fat high carb food plans to low carb diets. Taubes believes that more research needs to be conducted on diets and what really works effectively not just for weight loss but for conditions such as diabetes. And although some research has shown that low carb diets are more effective, Taubes feels that longer-term studies are needed. In addition, he notes that several studies have given dieters specific low-fat and low-carb diet guidelines.
Joanne EglashHolistic Health ExaminerJoanne Eglash has more than 25 years of experience as a journalist and author.
Cannes Film Festival fashion: Amal Clooney, Blake Lively, Victoria BeckhamThe 69th Cannes Film Festival opened on Wednesday, May 11 with Woody Allen's new film. Ways to earn extra money: The side hustleRemember when a full-time job used to mean working 40 hours a week or more and bringing home a decent paycheck that would last, at least until the next pay check? Obesity and other weight issues are one of society’s major concerns which have resulted in a multitude of different diet plans in the market place. People have varied preference when it comes to food and the same is true when it comes to dieting. Most diet plans are based on reducing calories of a balanced diet using the three macronutrients namely: carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

The bottom line is that all of these famous weight loss programs include a low carbohydrate diet. The answer is simple ? because it uses excess fat as fuel and promotes a healthy body at the same time. The above formula shows the metabolism of carbohydrates in the body follows a simple pattern of breakdown and storage.
People have been taught that reducing fats and increasing carbohydrates was supposedly the answer.
Carbs are easily digested which is why dieters are frequently hungry with more food cravings. You can snack on nuts, meat, hard cheese and eggs while feeling satisfied because protein rich foods can even boost your metabolism. You will also notice rapid weight loss with a low carbohydrate diet because of lesser insulin production.
Reducing carbohydrates can actually reduce your appetite ? that one thing that is hard to control when dieting. When you eat less carbs, the body is also forced to burn fats especially those in the abdomen, blood vessels, and extremities.
Reducing carbohydrates in the diet can also help lower blood cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar.
In summary, a low carb diet promotes safe and rapid weight loss because it reduces appetite, burns fat stores, increases metabolism, and prevents the development of diseases.
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.
In recent years, new studies have confirmed his view that grains and sugar are the culprits when it comes to the nation's expanding waistlines. It's the quality of our diets more than the quantity, with manufacturers loading our foods with white flour, sugar and salt. However, "it is very easy to get funding to do drug research and very hard to get funding to do diet research," he said in an Oct. Hence, you can think of these tests as comparing what happens when you advise subjects to eat a low-carb diet and compare that to what happens when you advise subjects to eat a low-fat diet," said Taubes. As a result, both groups limit sugar and refined grains, making comparisons more challenging. She's written articles, features, interviews, blogs, newsletters, and reviews for magazines such as Shape, Pregnancy and Success and for Web sites such as ediets and Yahoo.
Not surprisingly, you will lose weight doing this as any calorie reduction will achieve the same result which is weight loss. Even if it sounds impossible and vague, health experts can scientifically further explain how a low carbohydrate work. But when there are too many carbohydrates, the excess unused amounts will be stored as fat.
However, this method is failing and proving to be very unhealthy, even resulting to the increase of diabetes, obesity and other health related issues.
As a result more sodium and water is released from the body bringing noticeable weight loss in just a week. This is one reason why health experts recommend a low carb diet, because it protects the dieter from hypertension, diabetes, and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Too many carbohydrates aren’t friendly when it comes to your weight and overall health, reduce your carb intake and feel the difference.
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. Taubes also has attracted attention for challenging the view that consumers should eat less fat, pointing to the failure of the USDA's diet guidelines as evidence.
As a result, criticizes Taubes, "you can think of these studies as comparing a low-fat carbohydrate-restricted calorie-restricted diet, to a high-fat, carbohydrate restricted diet" instead of comparing a low-fat, high-carb diet to a high-fat, low-carb plan. Dieting is not an easy task and even if you followed a so called “perfect” diet plan, you may still end up feeling unsatisfied and hungry because ultimately the cause of your weight gain is not being addressed.
In the end people get frustrated because they wasted time following a diet that doesn’t work. Don’t let your time and effort go to waste, read through the article and you’ll understand why following a low carbohydrate diet will give you sweet results. Our sedentary lifestyles, overindulgence and accessibility of foods makes this an issue for 67% of the Australian population. But adequate intake of proteins and fats could substitute carb function and provide energy.
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. An effective diet plan should work and bring out results regardless of the person’s body type and lifestyle. Once the weight has been lost and the dieter resumes old habits the weight comes back on, plus some and the good ol YoYo diet begins a cycle again. 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. We’re after pure fat loss, something that can only be done if we raise our RMR (resting metabolic rate) long enough throughout each and every day.  This is done through proper exercise as we’ve already discovered, and through proper eating.
What we do know is that diet plans that chose to reduce carbohydrates are just as successful in losing the weight but far more successful in keeping the weight off.
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. It cannot be done, however, when following 99% of the popular fad or crash diet plans out there. 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.
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.
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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