The case for the government 'food pyramid' takes another blow
Atkins vindicated again.
Poor Dr. Robert Atkins, the diabetes expert who discovered in the early 1970s that low carb diets help patients lose weight better than low fat diets, has always had the worst time being believed. He's been debunked, lied about, and treated as a pariah by the diet establishment, despite the obvious merits of his findings.
Study after study affirms them, researchers such as Gary Taubes confirm his claims, and similar low-carb regimens to the Atkins Diet, such as Keto, have large followings, but the high-carb government food pyramid and an entire diet industry built around those earlier postulations about low-fat diets carry on, pretending he doesn't exist.
Now a big and very rigorously tested study has come out from a couple of Harvard researchers, and well, is Dr. Atkins vindicated again.
Here's what the New York Times writes:
It has been a fundamental tenet of nutrition: When it comes to weight loss, all calories are created equal. Regardless of what you eat, the key is to track your calories and burn more than you consume.
But a large new study published on Wednesday in the journal BMJ challenges the conventional wisdom. It found that overweight adults who cut carbohydrates from their diets and replaced them with fat sharply increased their metabolisms. After five months on the diet, their bodies burned roughly 250 calories more per day than people who ate a high-carb, low-fat diet, suggesting that restricting carb intake could help people maintain their weight loss more easily.
The new research is unlikely to end the decades-long debate over the best diet for weight loss. But it provides strong new evidence that all calories are not metabolically alike to the body. And it suggests that the popular advice on weight loss promoted by health authorities — count calories, reduce portion sizes and lower your fat intake — might be outdated.
According to one of the study's authors, writing in a Los Angeles Times op-ed titled, "The case against carbohydrates grows stronger":
People have a hard time believing that weight control isn’t just a matter of calories eaten and calories burned. But there is an alternate hypothesis about obesity, which is what my group studies. The carbohydrate-insulin model argues that overeating isn’t the underlying cause of long-term weight gain. Instead, it’s the biological process of gaining weight that causes us to overeat.
Here’s how this hypothesis goes: Consuming processed carbohydrates (especially refined grains, potato products and sugars), causes our bodies to produce more insulin. Too much insulin, one of the most powerful hormones, forces our fat cells into calorie-storage overdrive. These rapidly growing fat cells then hoard too many calories, leaving too few for the rest of the body. So we get hungry, and if we persist in eating less, our metabolism slows down.
Makes sense to me.
Yet still we have the government food pyramid and the huge diet industry that builds all its knowledge around that flawed model. Michelle Obama with all her diet advice, is all in for this one. Any question as to why so much of the public has gotten fat? Why is this thing still around and what is being done to get rid of it? Here it is in all its glory on Health.gov:
Look at all that carby grain at the bottom, even if half of it is whole grain, which is recommended. It's still carb, and it still needs to be controlled if weight loss is to happen and stay permanent. How about all of it being whole grain, by the way? And seriously, six to eleven servings? Like, three per meal, plus one for a snack? Seriously, if I ate like that, I'd weigh 300 pounds.
Popular Science notes that this new study debunking the food pyramid yet again shows just how little we (and that includes the government) know about weight loss and how it happens. And more particularly, it shows how little the government knows. Which raises questions as to why this pyramid is 'science' and why the government is still out plugging it. And why it's in the nutritional business at all.
This is not to say that low-fat diets don't work for some people. Another interesting recent study notes that low carb and low fat diets, if stuck to, both can lead to weight loss. But the new study affirms that low-carb diets are best for keeping the weight off because metabolism is increased and the diet encourages the body to just naturally burn the fat off. Which is why, on the Atkins site, the dieticians encourage Atkins for Life, and contrary to the typical lies, the diet is not about just eating bacon and butter, it actually requires about half the food on the plate be non-starchy "foundation vegetables." Anyone can see right there that it's credibly healthful.
Yet that food pyramid still carries on. Can the government just get out of the diet-advice business and let science take it from here?