Human body is an amazingly complex system of biological processes and our understanding of its inner workings is still evolving. Right now there is a very interesting debate going on in the Paleo community between Gary Taubes, author of the Good Calories, Bad Calories and Stephan Guyenet on the causes of obesity; carb-insulin hypothesis going against food palatability hypothesis.
Due to this high profile debate and some other information I have found recently, I decided it would be only fair to present some opposing views and counterpoints to some of the things presented in the 7-Day Crash Course in Nutrition and Health -article. However, I want to emphasize couple things: What causes obesity and what is an effective way to lose weight are two separate things. E.g. an infection is treated with antibiotics, but it is not the absence of antibiotics that caused the infection.
The other thing I want you to keep in mind is that the information in my Crash Course article is still extremely useful and important. By implementing just a fraction of it – for example eliminating processed foods, wheat, and getting enough sleep – can dramatically improve your health and well-being.
Counterpoints for the carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity
This article by Stephan Guyenet gives a good overview about arguments that do not support the carb-insulin hypothesis of obesity. Similar evidence is clear from Staffan Lindebergs studies of the Kitavans where the population consumes about 70% of calories in carbohydrates but are remarkably lean and healthy. There seems to be something else than just the amount of carbohydrates consumed that makes people overweight and obese.
However, this does not mean that a low-carbohydrate diet would not be a powerful tool for weight loss, but it implies that something else than simply restricting carbohydrate intake might be behind what makes low-carbohydrate diets effective; a low-carbohydrate diet naturally also minimizes grain and sugar intake. People also tend to feel more satiated when following a low-carbohydrate high-fat diet and consequently reduce their caloric intake without even noticing it.
The food palatability hypothesis advocated by Stephan is not without its own problems and logical fallacies. Todd Becker has written a great article on this. It is also interesting to read because it proposes a scenario in which both the food palatability and carb-insulin hypotheses can coexist and be simply parts of a larger puzzle.
Soon after the critique Stephan also posted an article about his current thinking of what are the different causes of obesity. It is well worth reading.
Is Lustig a sugar Nazi?
Ok maybe this goes a bit too far, but based on some news articles where Dr. Robert Lustig has been interviewed he seems to be headstrong about getting sugar banned. Similar to all the fuss about cholesterol and saturated fat years ago. However, apparently Lustig was not entirely accurate with biochemistry in his Sugar: The Bitter Truth lecture.
Dr. Richard Feinman has put together a nice article about where Lustig went wrong. Interestingly this seems to not only take some blame away from sugar, but also coincides with the message of Wheat Belly that the main culprit behind obesity epidemic is wheat:
“[Wheat] is the darling of the food industry because it is their nicotine. It is the stuff that makes you come back. It is the stuff that makes you hungry in a 90- to 120-minute cycle, and so if you eat more, you consume more, you buy more, they make more money. So this is the reason, I believe, why, if you look at the products on the supermarket shelf, it’s tough, it’s really tough, to find foods that don’t contain wheat because it stimulates appetite.”
I would love to hear what you think of all this. Also, I strongly recommend downloading and listening to the Paleo Solution Episode 95.