Another Bad Study, Badly Reported

      40 Comments on Another Bad Study, Badly Reported

Suppose you were reading the health section of a newspaper looking for ideas on how to lose weight, and you came across an article that started like this:

Whether you are just starting a New Year’s diet or struggling to maintain a healthy weight, a provocative new study offers some timely guidance. It isn’t so much what you eat, the study suggests, but how much you eat that counts when it comes to accumulating body fat.

The findings are the latest in a string of studies to challenge claims that the secret to healthy weight loss lies in adjusting the amount of nutritional components of a diet—protein, fat and carbohydrates.

I don’t know about you, but I’d assume that provocative new study involved adjusting the nutritional components of a diet – protein, fat and carbohydrates.  Let’s check:

In the study, to be published in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 25 young, healthy men and women were deliberately fed nearly 1,000 excess calories a day for 56 days, but with diets that varied in the amounts of protein and fat.

Hmmm  … it appears that the provocative new study which supposedly proves the secret to healthy weight loss isn’t a matter of adjusting the ratio of protein, fat or carbohydrates is

1)  a study of people who intentionally gained weight instead of losing weight


2) manipulated the balance of fat and protein, but not carbohydrates.

Let’s read on:

While those on a low-protein diet—about 5% of total calories—gained less weight than those on a normal- or high-protein regimen, body fat among participants in all three groups increased by about the same amount. Typical protein consumption is about 15% of calories, while the U.S. government recommends it make up between 17% and 21% of total daily calories.

The findings suggest that it matters little whether a diet is high or low in fat, carbohydrates or protein, it’s calories that build body fat.

It matters little whether or a diet is high or low in fat, carbohydrates or protein?  I must be missing something here … did the researchers change the ratio of carbohydrates in the diet nor not?

The patients in the Pennington study ranged in age from 18 to 35 and had BMIs between 19 and 30. (Between 25 and 30 is considered overweight.)  They lived at the center’s metabolic unit for between 10 and 12 weeks and were fed the 1,000 extra calories a day for the final eight weeks of their stay. Carbohydrates were held steady at about 41% to 42% of calories while fat levels varied with the protein regimen.

Brilliant.  Study subjects were put on three different diets designed to induce weight gain, the carbohydrate ratio was virtually the same across all three groups, and yet media health reporters are telling us the provocative study proves that manipulating the fat, carbohydrate or protein content of a diet won’t help us lose weight.

After eight weeks, all participants in the study gained weight. The 16 men and nine women made similar gains. The low protein-diet group gained about seven pounds, about half the 13.3 pounds added on by the normal protein participants and 14.4 pounds put on by the high protein group.

If you read the full study (which I did), you’ll learn that the low-protein group didn’t gain as much weight because – despite overeating by 1,000 calories per day – they lost muscle mass.  The other two groups gained muscle mass, with the high-protein group gaining the most.  I’d say that’s an important difference.  Losing muscle mass is a great way to slow your metabolism.  Gaining muscle mass raises your metabolism.  The results listed in the study seem to confirm that point:

The low protein diet had 6% of energy from protein, 52% from fat, and 42% from carbohydrates. The normal protein diet had 15% of energy from protein, 44% from fat, and 41% from carbohydrates. The high protein diet had 26% of energy from protein, 33% from fat, and 41% from carbohydrates.

Overeating produced significantly less weight gain in the low protein diet compared with the normal protein diet group or the high protein diet.  Body fat increased similarly in all 3 protein diet groups and represented 50% to more than 90% of the excess stored calories. Resting energy expenditure, total energy expenditure, and body protein did not increase during overfeeding with the low protein diet.  In contrast, resting energy expenditure and body protein (lean body mass) increased significantly with the normal and high protein diets.

Elsewhere in the study, the researchers provide more details:  the low-protein group lost an average of 1.5 pounds of lean body mass, while the high-protein group gained an average of 7 pounds of lean body mass.  When you overeat by 1,000 calories per day and still lose muscle, you know it’s a lousy diet.

The effects on metabolism may not have produced significant differences in fat accumulation in the short duration (less than two months) of this study, but I suspect that since the low-protein group was losing muscle mass, we’d see more of a difference over time.  Interestingly, the researchers didn’t say exactly how much extra body fat each group gained.  They only told us the difference wasn’t significant:

The overall increase in fat mass for all 3 groups was 3.51 kg (95% CI, 3.06 to 3.96 kg) from baseline and was not significantly different between the 3 groups (P = .89), although the low protein group added on average more than 200 g of fat (about 2000 kcal).

I also found these paragraphs interesting:

With the low protein diet, more than 90% of the extra energy was stored as fat. Because there was no change in lean body mass, the 6.6% increase in total energy expenditure reflects the energy cost of storing fat and is close to the estimate of 4% to 8% for fat storage derived by Flatt. With the normal and high protein diets, only about 50% of the excess energy was stored as fat with most of the rest consumed (thermogenesis).

The extra calories in our study were fed as fat, as in several other studies, and were stored as fat with a lower percentage of the excess calories appearing as fat in the high (25%) protein diet group.

I’m confused … if the low-protein group stored 90% of their extra energy as fat, while the other groups only stored 50% of their extra energy as fat, how did they all end up gaining the same amount of body fat?

Maybe I’m just not getting the math involved, but never mind.  Even if all three groups did gain the same amount of body fat, this study doesn’t really tell us anything about how to effectively lose weight, and it certainly doesn’t prove anything one way or another about the effects of manipulating the carbohydrate content, since the carbohydrate ratios were virtually identical.

Another researcher who commented on the study in a Reuters article put it nicely:

Donald Layman, a food science researcher at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said it’s difficult to see how the findings apply to a general population that isn’t being overfed such a protein-deficient diet, in the case of the low-protein group.

“It’s an interesting scientific study, but from an obesity standpoint, I don’t think it tells us anything,” he told Reuters Health.
Bingo.  Even if the protein ratio made little or no difference on fat accumulation in an over-eating study conducted in a metabolic ward, most of us aren’t trying to get fatter.  We’re trying to get leaner.  And we don’t live in metabolic wards where our meals are prepared for us and every calorie is tabulated.  We live in the real world where we don’t (and can’t) count every calorie, and where the amount of food we eat is determined by our appetites.  Protein is satiating.  When we eat higher-protein foods, we tend to eat less.  When we eat high-carb meals, many of us find our appetites going all out of whack, and we eat more.

The lead researcher for the study was George Bray, who seems to have dedicated his career to proving that the federal government’s dietary guidelines are correct – and if he has to cleverly design studies to achieve that goal, or write conclusions that aren’t backed up by the actual data, by gosh he’ll do it.

It was Bray who conducted the study on salt restriction that I mentioned in my Science For Smart People Speech, the one in which a drastic reduction in dietary sodium produced a whopping two-point drop in blood pressure.  Based on that meaningless result, Bray concluded that sodium restriction is an effective means of controlling hypertension.  (Say what?  Two points is a meaningful reduction in blood pressure?  I don’t think so.)

Here’s Bray offering his conclusion from the latest study:

“If you over-eat extra calories, no matter what the composition of the diet is, you’ll put down more fat.”

Really, Dr. Bray?  If you wanted solid scientific evidence that the composition of the diet is meaningless, why was the ratio of carbohydrates the same in all three groups?  Since you blasted Gary Taubes in your review of Good Calories, Bad Calories, we know you’re well aware of the hypothesis that it’s carbohydrates, not protein or fat, that promote fat accumulation … so why didn’t this provocative study include a group that restricted carbohydrates?  After all, none of the low-carb diet gurus recommend anything close to a ratio of 40% carbohydrates.

I think the answer to that question can be found near the end of the study.

This study was supported in part by the US Department of Agriculture.


40 thoughts on “Another Bad Study, Badly Reported

  1. Jared

    I skimmed the full-text of this study too, and thought that the most surprising conclusion was that calories were NOT the best correlate with weight gain.

    Carbohydrate was the greatest correlate with fat gain. They all had the same amount of carbohydrates, and they all gained the same amount of fat.

    Protein was most correlated with lean mass gain (and fat inversely so).

    If anything, it shows how important different macronutrients are! They all ate exactly the same number of calories, but all gained different amounts of weight. How can this possibly fit into the “A Calorie is a Calorie is a Calorie” camp. It takes some serious mental gymnastics….

    Exactly. The takeaway message should be that low-protein diets are awful … you can lose muscle even while getting fatter.

  2. Mike

    “If you over-eat extra calories, no matter what the composition of the diet is, you’ll put down more fat.”

    When I here someone say something like this, I tell them about a patient that Dr.Eades,tells us about.She complained that,she had lost only 4 pounds in 2 months.When the doc’s looked at her food log,they found she was eating 5000 calories per day “5000” and she still lost 4 pounds.

    I ate a LOT of food on the last low-carb cruise and lost a pound.

  3. Ray Kelley

    This kind of stuff continues to infuriate me, and the worst part is that people still tend to trust scientists as agenda-free seekers of truth who go wherever the facts take them. This kind of stuff is the same as the resistance encountered to the ideas that the Earth was round, or that it revolved around the Sun. But, the truth does seem to be seeping its way out there. I just wish the dam of ignorance holding it back would crumble apart entirely.

  4. Marilyn

    “It isn’t so much what you eat, the study suggests, but how much you eat that counts when it comes to accumulating body fat. . . .”

    I must say, that is one of the most incredibly original ideas I’ve ever read. Good grief!

    That article is just bizarre! Maybe they figured if they ignored carbohydrates in their “study,” they could avoid any embarrassment of having low carb perform the best?

    I think that’s exactly what they were doing.

  5. curtis

    in other news, don’t eat anything and only drink water for 30 days to shed the pounds off the scale, you will look sick though!

  6. josef

    Another carbohydrate apologetic “study” by the establishment.

    The same dog with a different collar.

    These studies are reminiscent of the old Soviet Union’s press articles that always found ways to extol the virtues of communism and condemn the evils of capitalism.

  7. Sally Myles

    Your phrase ‘maybe I’m not geting the math’ probably holds truer than you know.. you remember how the math in Supersize Me didn’t hold up either to close scrutiny?

    Somewhere there are researchers being paid millions by carbohydrate growers to attempt to bamboozle the great American (and British in my case) public.

    Seriously, if I won the lottery, before I bought a nice big house, I’d finance something that shows people THE TRUTH.

    And on a sidebar, how the USDA sleep at night? If we know all this stuff, you can bet your heiney they do too…..

    Morgan Spurlock at least doesn’t pass himself off as a scientist.

  8. DJ

    “Follow the money” indeed. It’s such a shame scientific research has become more about pursuit of dollars instead of pursuit of truth. I can’t help but wonder what other conclusions have been paid for rather that actually arrived upon scientifically.

  9. Ed Terry

    I just discovered the USDA’s Supertracker site, which closely aligns with their “food plate”. Just for grins, I searched on coconut oil. I was shocked, although I had previously thought that coconut oil offered benefits, I now know better.

    1 tbsp coconut oil
    Solid Fats – 110 calories
    Empty calories* – 110 calories
    Added sugars – 0 calories
    Saturated fat – 12 g

    1 tbsp corn oil
    Solid Fats – 0 calories
    Empty calories* – 0 calories
    Added sugars – 0 calories
    Saturated fat – 2 g

    *Calories from food components such as added sugars and solid fats that provide little nutritional value. Empty calories are part of total calories.

    I had not realized that solid fats were not metabolized like other fats. Shame on me 😉

    So corn oil isn’t a source of empty calories.

  10. Zachary Worthy

    Yeah 40% of calories from carbohydrates isn’t good at all, how funny that that’s the only thing they didn’t change. Also, they didn’t say what kind of calories they were either. I’d be curious to know what the actual food was that they were feeding these people. Could be fat and protein from slim jims and other processed garbage for all we know.

    The extra protein apparently came in the form of tuna fish, among other sources.

  11. LeonRover

    I like the fact that this study was published.

    It contains worthwhile information – and can be described in a number of ways.

    George Bray’s is one, which looks at the extra energy content and only glancingly at the extra macronutrient content.

    I have always distrusted ratio analysis. It may be useful in equi-caloric or ad libitum studies. However, in over- or under-eating studies, it is the change in amounts of macro that is important to me. I can relate this to daily eating.

    You are quite correct, Bray does not focus on the fact that the extra calories were a combination of protein calories and fat calories, while amount of CHO remained the same (thus 60% of initial diet (as CHO) is same number of CHO calories as 40% of the overeating diet).

    I would rewrite Bray’s conclusion as

    “If you eat extra fat calories, no matter what the combination with protein is, you’ll put down more fat – when carbohydrate remains constant.”

    This study has NOTHING to say about changes in CHO.

    The study provides data on how under-eating protein reduces LBM (lean body mass) while increasing intake of protein increases LBM.

    The underfeeding of protein, while over-feeding fat shows that is a critical macronutrient and that reduction of LBM can occur in overfeeding as well as in underfeeding (semi-starvation) studies.

    In this context I observe that Liebel and Hirsch underfed their subjects on 800 kcals per day on amounts of protein even lower than in this study and found reductions in LBM, and lower BMR also.

    I now take the conclusions of Liebel concerning existence of an adipostat with very raised eyebrows – in fact,I am not compelled!

    My personal take?


    Eat an extra 90 gms of protein per day for 6 weeks,


    Substitute 90 gms of protein for 90 gm CHO per for 6 weeks,

    And see what happens.

  12. Hilary Kyro

    Tom, I think you are conclusively right again; USDA! It’s the answer to a lot of good questions about public policies and “established facts” that have made us all cloudy-headed contestants on Jeopardy!
    As you well-note; buried in this silly study is again the convincing proof that you can over-consume carbs and yet starve your muscles, heart, gut and brain. Over-eat on “food” and you get pumped-up! A 7 pound muscle gain is worth noting to natural bodybuilders.
    Muscle gain, Oh noes, lo-carb is another threat to big pharma…have you seen the shady ads for low testosterone Rx during the football games, sandwiched between ads for sandwiches and Abilify, the anti-psychotic that you can add to your anti-depressant?

    What a racket … the USDA promotes grains, then finances scientists to conclude (in effect) that the grain-based diet isn’t making us fat.

  13. Alex Thorn

    Like you, I am also confused by the mathematical contradictions thrown up by the statistical manipulation of the data in this study. The only way that I can make sense of it is this:

    If the low protein group gained 7lbs in weight but lost 1.5lbs of lean mass, then they must have gained 8.5lbs of fat mass (3.86Kg). If the high protein group gained 14.4lbs of weight but gained 7lbs of lean mass, then they must have gained 7.4lbs of fat mass (3.36Kg). So is the 1.1lbs (0.5Kg) difference in fat mass gain significant?

    If all groups were overfed by a total of 56000kcals and we take 3500kcals as the amount required to equal one pound of fat gain (inaccurate, I know, but that is what the ‘calorie balance’ proponents, like Bray, often state) then the low protein group converted 53% of their calorie excess to fat (8.5 x 3500/56000 x 100) while the high protein group converted 46% of their calorie excess to fat (7.4 x 3500/56000 x 100)! So where did they get their 90% versus 50% figures from?

    Glad I’m not the only one who thinks these figures don’t quite make sense.

  14. marilynb

    I read about this study on Dr. Briffa’s site and dismissed it as unimportant when I saw they were not manipulating carbs, too. “It isn’t so much what you eat, the study suggests, but how much you eat that counts when it comes to accumulating body fat” – that’s a really irresponsible comment since they’re not looking at ALL of the “what you eat”.

  15. Justin B

    This is abysmal. How is stuff like this allowed to be published? How can you not test something AT ALL, then claim that the something was tested, and proven one way or the other? The sad part is that people don’t read the studies, only the headlines & articles.

    As do most health reporters.

  16. Dan

    Two personal points to add:

    A couple weeks ago I tracked all my calories for a few days while focusing on limiting to 100g of carbs a day, (I heard someone else had good luck with that.) At dinner I ate about 450 calories, finishing my day at just a little over 1500, and I felt completely full; no hunger pangs that night or starving feeling in the morning. Also lost a couple pounds that week.

    Secondly, my boss holds a PhD and she told me her oversight professor told her, “Never mind what you find, make the data work.” No joke; at an internationally respected research university nonetheless. Cheers.

    If you torture the data long enough, it will say whatever you want to hear.

  17. Captain ChiliDog

    “This study was supported in part by the US Department of Agriculture. ”
    Years ago, I worked for an engineering firm that specialized in providing expert analysis and testimony for traffic collision law suits. I bet you can guess how often the “science” was favorable to the people that were paying for our services.

    No surprise there.

  18. Craig

    I recently started my own forced overeating experiment for my barbecue blog, since I still have friends who don’t understand how I eat so much barbecue without gaining weight no matter how much I try to explain insulin to them. Of course, since I’m keeping my carbohydrate intake the same, the percentage of calories I get from carbs is going down while I intentionally increase my total calories with a daily whey protein and coconut milk shake.

    Granted this is totally unscientific. I’m just hoping that when I fail to swell up like a tick I can finally make a lightbulb go off over the heads of some fat-phobic friends.

    That would be nice, but I’ll wager they conclude you’re just lucky enough to have a high metabolism.

  19. Marilyn

    @ Ed Terry

    “*Calories from food components such as added sugars and solid fats that provide little nutritional value. Empty calories are part of total calories.”

    What is this baloney about fats containing “empty calories”? I recently read a book in which the author, a “nutritional health expert,” stated that fats, like sugar, contain empty calories. I thought it was just something she made up. I guess not. We have it straight from the USDA.

    And apparently, it’s common “knowledge.” I just Googled “fat” and “empty calories.” I have a question for these experts, though: Can anyone tell me why “solid fats” are empty calories and fluid fats are not? What about my coconut oil? Sitting in my cupboard in winter, the coconut oil is solid. In summer, it’s fluid. So if I want to avoid empty calories, I should only eat coconut oil in summer????

  20. Rocky

    I’ve diligently kept a food log (using Cronometer) every single day for over 18 months and I’ve weighed myself and checked body fat percentage on a regular basis during this time. I’ll wager that few people arguing in favor of the calories in/calories out model have been so diligent as to log everything they eat, every day for 18 months.

    My caloric intake is all over the map: Zero calories for days at a time. A couple of thousand some days. A few thousand other days. Some days more than 5000 calories. Exercise is similarly irregular: I’ll get busy and not do so for a week or so and I’ll have periods where I work out for an impressive number of consecutive days.

    Looking at the weight graphs, however, tells a far different story. After losing 23 pounds in the first 60 days of this new eating (to reach the same weight that I was my freshman year in college), my weight has not varied by more than plus/minus one pound nor has my body fat percentage varied by more than plus/minus 1% in the subsequent 16 months.

    The key? All of my food is hormonally favorable food designed to control my BG.

    Tell me it’s just about calories, will they? I don’t think so. I have 18 months of data to prove it’s not so.

    They seem to consider the human body some kind of black-box energy system. It isn’t. Our metabolisms can change dramatically.

  21. Richard David Feinman

    Good post but you were too kind to Bray in general but off the mark on the role of the sponsor. The paper says

    The US Department of Agriculture
    and Louisiana State University had no role in
    the design and conduct of the study; collection, management,
    analysis, and interpretation of the data; or
    preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

    and one must take their word on that. To suggest that the results were manipulated to please the sponsor or that the sponsor intervened is a very serious charge and should not be made without evidence. This is the charge made against research funded by the Atkins Foundation which may be the only place anybody can get funding to do serious low carbohydrate research. The Atkins Foundation is, of course, very sensitive on this. The lipophobes confuse the Foundation with Atkins Nutritionals which, as far as I know, does not fund research and is much stronger on money coming in than money going out.

    The problem is sometimes complicated. If the work is funded by a company that may be different than a foundation set up by the same company. When I was working in protein chemistry, there were two funding sources related to tobacco, the Tobacco Institute and the Tobacco Council. The Institute was a front for the tobacco industry and known as such while the Tobacco Council was an independent foundation and, while one had the sense that they preferred research on lung diseases not caused by tobacco, once they funded the research, they were hands-off.

    You were too kind to Bray because he acted as if nobody had studied this problem before whereas Volek’s lab has shown that on a low carbohydrate diet there is preferential fat loss and, in particular, preferential trunk fat that is considered more deleterious.

    1. Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Gomez AL, Judelson DA, Rubin MR, Watson G, Sokmen B, Silvestre R, French DN, Kraemer WJ: Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2004, 1(1):13.
    2. Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Love DM, Avery NG, Gomez AL, Scheett TP, Kraemer WJ: Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Metabolism 2002, 51(7):864-870.

    and Volek & Westman tabulated several studies that show preferential fat vs. lean loss in low carbohydrate diets (I will add in my post on this subject).

    3. Volek JS, Westman EC: Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleve Clin J Med 2002, 69(11):849, 853, 856-848.

    One might say that Bray had restricted his study to protein or focussed only on weight gain rather than weight loss but I’d be inclined to say that that was disengenuous and that those subjects were strictly relevant and is simply a very biased refusal to face the value of carbohydrate restriction. Others might think that not citing relevant literature, especially if it contradicts your own conclusions is a very serious violation of research integrity and should be taken up with the Office of Research Integrity which is charged with overseeing federally funded research and that some kind of investigation should be undertaken. Others may be impressed with the continued attempt to deny a useful method of treatment to people suffering from obesity and diabetes, a breakdown in medical ethics, but I don’t know about these. I’m only a chemist.

  22. Rocky

    Holy cow! I followed FrankG’s link to the petition and noticed that signature #60 is from a nurse practitioner who lists her affiliation as Pfizer. She’d better be careful aligning herself with such radical thinking or she may end up dehired.

    Yikes. Either Pfizer is working on a drug to fix the hormonal issues, or she’s risking being outsourced.

  23. pjnoir

    It seems to me that NOBODY wants to see Dr Atkins get his due. (Let alone read his diet) Low carb will always be attacked becaue of the bread addiction we (they) have. I can’t even stand the mouthfeel of the stuff anymore. Atkins saved my life and lead the way to personal reposibility of one’s health.

    The medical community and nutrition experts attacked him back in the day, and they’re not about to admit they were wrong.

  24. Charlie F

    I’ve been reading and watching lots of info about juicing, and recently watched a movie called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.”

    I have a question that may seem a bit silly, but nonetheless…

    Would combining juicing of vegetables and leafy greens combined with eating proteins be a good combination for maintaining health/losing fat?

    I am thinking if done correctly, this would work. Any answer or opinion would be appreciated.

    I suppose it would be a good way to get lots of vegetable nutrients in your diet, but I’d prefer to eat the whole vegetable, fiber and all.

  25. Craig

    At the farmer’s market, when I talk to local farmers who produce grassfed beef they complain that they can’t get any of their beef certified “prime,” since the USDA reserves that designation for beef that is heavily marbled with fat from feeding the cattle subsidized grains, regardless of the quality of the actual meat itself.

    So after reading comments here that the USDA considers that same solid fat empty calories, I guess this would be a good summary of the USDA’s official stance, and please correct me if I’m wrong: The more solid fat that is marbled into a cut of beef, the higher the quality. But that fat should be considered empty calories, trimmed off where possible and thrown away. Meanwhile people should get the majority of their calories from the same subsidized grains that were used to make the cattle gain so much unnatural fat in the first place.

    You would have to be a government bureaucrat to be capable of that level of double-think.

    I think you summed it up pretty nicely.

  26. LaurieLM

    ‘Solid’ saturated fat vs liquid ‘manufactured’ fats.
    Tom you have mentioned this before, but solid fat is solid IN THE FRIDGE and at room T, but NOT at body temperature. (saturated-fat bashers constantly cite that sat fat clogs arteries because it is SOLID, when cold).
    I read Susan Allport’s “THe Queen of Fats”, and I’ve read a lot of what Dr Mary Enig has written. And I’m a biochemist. And I teach a review in organic chemistry for pre-meds.

    Here’s the really way-cool interesting thing. Think of liquid oils like firewood logs with twigs sticking up and about all over. Trans fats are the most notorious and ultimately inflexible for these superficial stick out things. The reason they stay liquid in the fridge is because they can’t stack neatly like firewood that is smooth and can be packed and stacked quite nicely in glorious little rows, and that is why sat fat is solid cold.
    So in the body at body T and all over every membrane of all 100 trillion of our cells, the smooth flowing nicely meshing saturated fat aids fluidity, nibbleness and motion and transfer of nutrients and signals, whereas the liquid-swill manufactured (‘heart-healthy’) unsaturated oils are RIGID and clumsy and don’t flow and don’t aid in motion. Artery clogging, yes most probably.

  27. Dori Wilson

    Tom thank you for another sensible review. I am astonished at the blatent manipulation of data (not really!). I had an elementary statistics professor once tell our entire class that almost any data can be made to say what you want it to say based on the parameters one sets up in the first place, or in the subjective interpretation. I realized that day that a statistical analysis really falls on the ‘ethics’ of the one conducting said analysis! This is where I see that most experts who espouse the dietary dogma of the powers that be are either incredibly stupid or ethically bankrupt!
    @Charlie F – I saw the juice diet movie before I saw fat head and I thought it might be a cure for my psoriasis – it wasn’t. What it did was allow me to lose 8 lbs over 4 weeks while feeling weak and famished. After I watched Fat Head and put to practice the low carb knowledge I already had, I realized the juice guy lost all of his weight because he was still keeping his carbs fairly low which allowed his ‘fat burning’ system to kick into high gear. He was essentially still on a ‘high fat’ diet – his own body fat! I used too much fruit in my juicing endeavor because I couldn’t stand the taste of the stuff, thus I was inducing insulin spikes that defeated the potential for weight loss. Like Tom, I too would much rather eat every single nutritious part of my veggies with a load of real butter and some garlic salt 🙂

    As Denise Minger pointed out in her speech at AHS, these vegan miracle diets all eliminate sugar, white flour and processed vegetable oils in addition to meat. Then when people get healthier, we’re told this proves meat is bad for us.

  28. Becky

    What a RADICAL study. Calories in, calories out. No one has ever thought of that. I wonder how much this study cost. It can’t be more than Michelle Obama spent to switch the USDA daily recommended guidelines from a pyramid to a circle… I guess you could just write over all of the dietary guidelines and make yourself a “bang head here” poster?


  29. Lori

    @Charlie F, I saw Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead also and wrote a review about it. Vegetable juice and (fatty) meat sounds like a variation of the Atkins Diet, which a patient dubbed “the steak and salad diet.” If you’re looking for micronutrients, you’ll get a lot more out of the meat than the juice. Vegetables are great, but I don’t think there’s anything special about juicing. What did the trick in the movie was that Staples and Cross left high-stress jobs and stopped eating junk.

    My review:

  30. Ashley

    I just saw your film and greatly enjoyed it! I’ve discovered the truth about the lipid hypothesis myself over the last year and a half. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 26…I can admit that I had been neglecting my health for a long time, through 6 years of higher education and 2 years of a career. I was obese, and at the time of diagnosis, my average blood glucose level was over 200. I decided to change my life, and made a 180 degree turnaround. I started exercising everyday (going from a YMCA membership to a high end health club and now I have my own elliptical trainer at home and I walk/jog in my neighborhood and around my city). I went low-carb and gave up processed white flour…now I limit my carbohydrate intake to less than 150 g a day. I used to be a major carb junkie…not anymore. I eat more animal fat, and fat in general than I did before. When I started my journey, my total cholesterol was a little over 200, and triglycerides were over 300! Now my total is 157, and triglycerides are 78. I’ve lost nearly 115 lbs and I am no longer on any medication for diabetes (I had been taking metformin). My doctor is astounded and says I’m her hero, and my body is no longer that of a diabetic. My average blood glucose is now around 100, and my hemoglobin A1c numbers have been non-diabetic for the last year. This is the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been, and I’m not looking back!

    Outstanding! Another former diabetic gets off the drugs by ignoring the ADA … I love it.

  31. Rebecca

    I teach nursing at a university and also follow a low-carb way of eating, so when I came across the research article you discussed, I eagerly read it in its entirety. I had hoped that maybe it would contain some low-carb friendly findings since those can be difficult to find in the medical / health research literature although they are there sometimes if you know how to look for them. However, this study made me want to bang my head on my desk multiple times. I was mostly irritated that although the study didn’t manipulate the level of carbs in the study diet, they felt they could comment that any level of carb intake could lead to weight gain. Also, if I recall correctly, this article was not only supported by the USDA but several of the researchers involved in the study also received funding from some of the major drug companies.
    I don’t often comment on blogs although I love to read them when I have time, but it’s frustrating to be in the medical field and have to be constantly exposed to this type of poor research study. I agreed 100% with your post!

    It’s frustrating even for those of us not in the medical field.

  32. Richard David Feinman

    @Becky. You got it. It took me awhile but I am writing my blog post on this ( and I finally figured it out. It is about recommendations. It used to be (should be? we assume it is?) that recommendations follow from the research. Now, it’s backwards. Committees make recommendations and then research tries to support it, and that’s what gets funded. So maybe Tom is right to point to the USDA who were undoubtedly not involved in the design and writing but you have to ask why did they fund it in the first place?

    I like your “Tom is right” explanation.

  33. T. D.

    Dear Tom,
    I want to thank you for your movie, Fat Head; it’s been life-changing for me and is what led to my reading the Eades’ book on the protein lifeplan. I did the Atkins diet plan decades ago and while I lost the weight–as promised–I still craved carbs. I know that it was because I was so ridiculously busy at that time in my life that I only wanted the headlines, not the details of WHY I should cut way back on carbs. Now, in my early 50’s, I’ve taken the time to learn about carbs and their actions in my body and have little to no craving for them whatsoever. The best part is that instead of the 5 medications a Cardiologist prescribed a year ago for high BP, high cholesterol and high blood-glucose, I now only take a few basic vitamins and feel better than I did as a vegan who used to run 7 miles a day, 6 days a freakin’ week (in addition to weights and countless leg-lifts, and ab crunches). Now, I’m eating a healthy, delicious low carb diet and am back to what I love: walking/hiking/taking the stairs whenever possible, and relaxing with slow-breathing when a stressful situation comes up.

    I’m so glad that the Drs. Atkins, Eades et al are getting the credit they’ve been long due. And again, Thank You, Tom. Without your movie, I’d never have picked up another ‘diet book’ again because I’d vowed several years back that I was finished with any weight loss plans, or any books of the sort. I felt let down by every plan I’d ever tried, including the stupid pyramid guidelines that I especially trusted because I thought I could totally trust the source (boy, is my face red!)

    Big Hugs,

    Welcome back to real food and real health, T.


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