On Diet

Atkins-bashing and the spirit of Bill Buckley | Richard David Feinman (The emphais is mine)

The headline read “Vascular effects of a low-carbohydrate high-protein diet.”   The article, as anticipated, was trying to trash low carb diets. This is not uncommon. Those of us who work in the field are used to it.  Low carbohydrate diets are the thing that doctors and nutritionists love to hate.  Every junior faculty in a medicine department feels obligated to write a review showing how bad such diets are, frequently by saying that they don’t conform to the recommendations of the USDA, an example of what was the original meaning of “begging the question”, namely assuming the question in deducing the answer, that is: The USDA guidelines defines healthy diets. The Atkins diet says that the USDA guidelines are bad.  The Atkins diet does not conform to the USDA guidelines. The Atkins diet is unhealthy. QED.

The paper in question, however, turned out to be especially infuriating, claiming that a low-carbohydrate  diet will cause the build-up of plaque that is characterized as atherosclerosis but the experiment was absurd.   It reminded me of the kind of articles that William F. Buckley, Jr. used to write, the kind that made you wonder: does he really not see how illogical this stuff is.  By coincidence the low carb-atherosclerosis paper appeared about the same time as Gary Wills’s portrait of Buckley appeared in the Atlantic.  It was a very sympathetic review although Wills was not blind to Buckley’s faults.  I saw in Buckley’s personality this same kind of thing that was in the atherosclerosis paper. I understood pleasure in being infuriating but you can always do that while trying to get it right. I suddenly had some perspective on it all. I could see a mindset where the truth was not the main reinforcer as we say in behavioral psychology.  Buckley was simply motivated by something else. So first, I’ll tell you about the low carbohydrate diet paper.

The thing that drives the nutritional establishment crazy is not that low carbohydrate are effective for weight loss. Everybody knows that. The earliest writers on food, Brillat-Savarin for example, made the observation that the principles of fattening your pig for market by feeding her grains applied to humans as well. What gets people nuts is that the cardiovascular risk that was supposed to follow from the increase in fat did not materialize.  In fact, when actually studied, low carbohydrate diets reduced cardiovascular risk, dramatically lowering triglycerides (fat in the blood), increasing HDL (the so-called “good cholesterol”)  and improving other risk factors.  In fact, the paper by Foo, et al. in PNAS admitted “randomized trials suggest low-carbohydrate diets may accelerate weight loss with surprisingly little negative effect on serum markers of cardiac risk such as cholesterol,” but that didn’t stop the authors who were able to come up with new warnings about atherosclerosis from low-carbohydrate diets.

(read the complete article…)

Robb Wolf a research biochemist and one of the world’s leading experts in Paleolithic nutrition responds to criticism of the Paleo Diet/Lifestyle:

From Andreas Eenfeldt, MD

  • What Happens If You Eat 5,800 Calories Daily on an LCHF Diet? | DietDoctor.com (the emphasis is mine)



    There is a difference between overeating and overeating.

    When eating bad carbohydrates it’s easy to gain weight quickly. You’ll get plenty of the fat-storing hormone insulin in your blood.

    It’s generally hard to gain weight on an LCHF diet. It’s even difficult to eat too much food, as you then usually have to eat more than you want. Even if you force down large amounts of LCHF-food, against your will, the result is usually as it was for Feltham. It’s a constant struggle and weight gain will likely be modest.

    Overweight people eating as much as they want on an LCHF diet will typically lose weight.