A recent article that’s gotten a lot of press and been made fun of by me exhaustively (which has confused many of you who got the impression that eating a low-fat diet starting in the 80’s caused the obesity epidemic), was an article entitled ?Big Fat Lies About Britain’s Obesity Epidemic. This was the photo used for the article (not my random selection).
This was a spin on Gary Taubes’s famous NYTimes article called ?What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,? which later led to the monster book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.
In the article, Hannah Sutter’s low-carb ferocity brings it hard, showing that over the last some odd years the Brits have followed the government advice to eat less fat, exercise more, and watch those damn energy units called calories.
Since eating less fat basically means replacing fat with more carbohydrate, the low-carb folks are convinced that carbohydrate is driving the rising trends in obesity levels. Yep, that’s right. Brits did exercise more. They did eat fewer calories. And they did reduce fat intake.
And they got significantly fatter doing so.
But when there have been humans all over the world eating low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets for millennia without obesity? far from it ? and the Asian countries in which the LEAST fat and MOST starch are consumed claim the lowest obesity rates, it’s just a little tough for me to swallow. The low-carb claim seems, at least in part, to be unsubstantiated. It is certainly easily refuted ? I almost feel guilty doing it it’s so easy.
No, the rise of obesity in the late 20th and early 21st century can’t simply be blamed on something as simple as ‘starch? because it raises insulin for an hour or two. It runs much deeper and has much complexity.
Fortunately, there’s a nice little mouse study that shows what I believe to be a far more likely culprit, especially when practiced for a couple of decades by an entire nation. I tend to hold the other advice given to be more responsible for the rising muffin tops in the U.K. ?Reduce caloric consumption.
When you reduce caloric consumption, the metabolism slows down. When the metabolism slows down, fatty acids are not burned as effectively and are siphoned off into fat cells instead of being used for energy. In addition, free fatty acids (triglycerides) tend to pile up in the bloodstream and create insulin resistance. As a bonus, carbohydrates then become fattening and the process picks up even more steam. Meanwhile, if you are in a calorie deficit, you continue to lose lean body tissue ? which always occurs in a situation in which Ingested calories + Calories from stored fat = Less than Basal needs.
But notice that the first link in this nasty chain of events is a low metabolism. At the core, this is most likely started by fructose-induced leptin resistance, the anti-metabolic properties of omega 6 fatty acids, or a combination of both. Then, to combat this low metabolism, calories are reduced ? either through undereating, overexercising, or the glorious combination of the two. It’s like trying to cure a headache by going to a Slayer concert.
Note: Ain’t hatin? on exercise, but if you’re going to exercise hard, you better eat up. In 1936 a researcher named Schenk studied 4700 athletes participating in the 11th Olympic games. ?Schenk claimed that daily intakes of? 7,300 Cal. as observed among the Olympic athletes, are essential for hard manual work or strenuous exercise.
Yes, cut calories by a small percentage ? call it, say, 5%, and it should come as no surprise that you end up with more body fat and less lean body mass. Keep it up and you could stay primed for fat storage and hungry your whole life.
Sure, it may sound ?impossible? to some that cutting calories could make for a fatter body, but get some mice (British or otherwise) in a well-controlled laboratory setting, cut calories by 5%, and watch them transform into little marshmallows. That’s what these geeks did. And the results were:
??over 4 weeks. Relative to the AL mice, CR (Calorie Restricted) mice had a 68.5% greater fat mass (3.37 ? 0.23 g vs. 2.00 ? 0.09 g, P < 0.01), and a 12.3% lower lean mass (14.43 ? 0.24 g vs. 16.45 ? 0.31 g, P < 0.01) at the end of the treatment.
Hannah Sutter, author of ?Big Fat Lies About Britain’s Obesity Epidemic? loves to demonize carbohydrates using the example that people got fatter EVEN THOUGH they reduced calories.
Taubes loves to point out that people can amazingly become fat EVEN THOUGH they eat low-calorie diets as proof that it’s not all about calories.
Not ?EVEN THOUGH? amigos. It’s very plausible that people can become fat ? and certainly become way fatter than they already are due to other factors, BECAUSE they eat low-calorie diets. A low metabolism has a more direct causal link to obesity, not carbohydrates.
I’m not saying that a low-carb diet doesn’t have some application in triggering fat loss while sparing a maximum amount of lean body mass, because it probably does, and typically does so more effectively than a low-fat diet. But c?mon guys. Carbohydrates aren’t the root cause causing such a phenomenon. Lots of people all over the world eat carbs and never become insulin resistant, get fat, develop high triglycerides, and more.