Exercise & Nutrition # 11 – Summing Up

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Nutrition & Exercise

So, after looking at pages of Google search results, There seem to be very few critical entries on Taubes’ book, other than the ones that I’ve mentioned.  Those that I found seem to avoid talking about the science, except for the one that I summarized.  That one had some legit criticisms, but in the end seemed to agree with Taubes’ main points.  A lot of criticisms were from people who were peddling some product or another that was in  conflict with his theories, as therefor were suspect.  (Taubes is not peddling anything but his book.)  So he seems to come out on top when looking at the discussions on the Internet.

When I wanted to try to validate Taubes’ theory over others, I decided to ask certain questions.  Looking for debate on the Internet so that I could compare conflicting views was one of those questions.  Taubes seems to check out on that front.

A second question was to assess whether Taubes argument and scientific explanations were logical.  Here I have to confirm that few others seem to provide scientific details and explanations to the extent that Taubes does.  His explanation of fat retention related to insulin and the role that carbs play in this has not been duplicated by any other material I’ve come across. Critics tend to zero in on details, rather than assessing the whole argument and its implications.

A third question was to look at his own credentials to see whether he is qualified to make the arguments or whether he has some kind of a special motive for doing so.  I see no agenda here.  He doesn’t even want to be seen as promoting any particular diet, stating clearly that his is a book about science not diets.  His background is that of a very respected science journalist.  He was an award winning science investigator before he started investigating this particular subject about a decade ago.

In conclusion, I have to say that the burden of proof seems to rest with his opponents, who have come up lacking.  Like most things, it is probably not wise to follow his ideas to an extreme.  There are probably erors in some of his conclusions that will be proven or disproved in time.  But the general jist of the ideas can be summed up as follows:

1. How much you eat is not as important as what you eat.

2. Exercise, while important for other reasons, does not play a large role in weight control/reduction.

3. Carbs are bad.  The more readily digestible the carb is, the worse it is.  Whole grains and high fiber carbs are marginally better than others, but still cause the body to react in a way that encourages fat storage.  Sugars and high fructose corn syrup are the worst.  Fruits, although they have other nutrients, have lots of sugars.

4. Fat has been unduly demonized by nutritionists. They do not encourage fat storage the way carbs do.  There is considerable debate over their role in promoting bad cholesterol and their contribution to heart disease.

5. While the best weight control diet might be raw veggies, this is unrealistic for most people and they will just stray from their diet because they are hungry (especially if they are exercising hard).  Given that, it is better for them to supplement their diets with meats containing protein and fats, than it is with high carb foods such as pasta, rice and potatoes.

The final criteria, of course, is whether this approach gets results.  Well, all I can say is that after two weeks I have lost over six pounds, -something that I’ve not been able to do with any other approach.  I’m using a diet that probably maxes out at about 1 600 calories, and snacks have gone out the window because the kinds of snacks allowed are not convenient.  On the few occasions where I’ve strayed, having cookies or brownies at a friend’s home, my daily weight reduction has either frozen or temporarily reversed (but even on those days, I’ve still stayed beneath the maximum calorie count).  I know what my cholesterol level and blood pressure has been in recent history, so I plan to have it tested again to see if there are consequences there.  If the cholesterol (which has been high-average) varies up or down, that will tell me a lot.

I feel confident that I have investigated this approach to the best of my ability.   There will always be experts on both sides of questions like this, and I am looking forward to a discussion with my doctor and the nutritionist nurse in his office.  If they tow the party line, they won’t agree with me, but they’ll have to be able to convince me.  (I’m sure they look at informed patients as a pain.)

So, enough on this now.  I’ll report back on long term results and any other earth shattering news, but for the time being, I think it is time to return to other topics.  (Some of you, who are less interested in this whole thing may be glad to hear that.)


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