Bonus Footage: Sugar and Starch

      16 Comments on Bonus Footage: Sugar and Starch

It’s a busy week, so I decided to put together some extra video footage from my interviews instead of writing a full post.  This series of clips deals with sugar and starch, and how they’re pretty much the same.

We covered this territory in Fat Head pretty extensively, but not everyone who reads this blog has seen the film, and I believe it’s a message that bears repeating early and often — like voting in Chicago.  My wife tells me she knows other mommies from her mommy group who won’t give their kids candy, but believe a lunch consisting of jam sandwiches with a side of fruit is just great — it’s lowfat, you see.

When I went through all the interview footage during editing, I of course had to choose from among many takes … I usually asked the same question a few different ways to make sure I’d have plenty of choices.  So it’s kind of fun (for me at least) to hear the medical experts offering different explanations of the same ideas.  Enjoy.


I’ll be spending a chunk of this week in Tennessee looking for a house, since it now looks as if we’ll finish up our house sale and hit the road within two weeks.  I probably won’t have time to write another post this week, but I’ll check comments as often as I can.

If you enjoy my posts, please consider a small donation to the Fat Head Kids GoFundMe campaign.

16 thoughts on “Bonus Footage: Sugar and Starch

  1. Josh Goguen

    Good stuff. Thanks.

    This post actually reminds me of a question I had for you. How do your kids eat?

    I have a 2.5 year old, and while he does eat better than some kids, but he’s just so damned adorable when he asks for a cookie.

    We don’t want to be Diet Nazis and give our girls food issues, so we keep the sugar and starch down by simply not serving it to them. But if they ask, they get it, including bread or cereal or even the occasional dessert. They just don’t ask very often. But they’ll beg me for a spoonful of KerryGold butter.

    They like scrambled or fried eggs in the morning, usually accompanied by ham or bacon and apple slices or berries. For lunch they prefer to snack, so it might be cold cuts and cheese slices, nuts and olives, carrots, celery, cottage cheese, or whatever else sounds good to their tiny little brains.

    Dinner is pretty much always a meat dish and vegetables. Despite warning me that I’d better not marry her for her cooking skills, my wife has become the Julia Child of steaks, lamb roasts, clay-pot chickens, and various meat stews without the potatoes. The girls are happy to eat their vegetables, because we drizzle them with melted butter, and they love butter.

    And this did my heart good: last week my wife took them to McDonald’s because they wanted to jump and climb in the playland. So she got them double-cheeseburgers for lunch. Both girls took off the buns and ate the meat and cheese, without any suggestion from mommy.

  2. Kathy Hall

    I was diagnosed with diabetes about 6 months ago and immediately began an internet search to decide what to do since a friend did what her doctors told her and is now on insulin. I read Protein Power by the Drs. Eades and pretty much followed their diet.

    My fasting blood sugar went from 111 to 72 and my A1C from 6.4 to 5.7 in just a couple months. I read blogs like yours and the ones you recommend every day and it has kept me on the very low carb way of eating and reinforces my willpower. I’ve lost 35 lbs and so has my husband. He is now in size 32 pants is at 179 lbs – his high school weight. He and I are never hungry.

    My friend was told she could have 175 grams a day of carbs and I usually have about 30-40 if that. She looks very unhealthy and I feel great.

    Thanks for all your efforts at getting this word out!

    Isn’t a shame that people like your friend think they’re doing the right thing — the doctor said so, after all — and end up sicker and medicated? That’s why I love the internet age; those of us who don’t believe the standard advice works can at least try to counter it.

  3. Susan

    Great clips!

    I also feed my son a higher carb diet than I feed myself, but he will get cooked veggies, diluted grape juice to drink, and/or almond butter brownies made with a small amount of honey. No grains, soy, corn, cow dairy, or potatoes for him (or me for that matter). He has autism so he has weird behavioral reactions to foods which keeps things somewhat limited right now.

    I would guess that the diet you’re feeding your son helps to alleviate his autism somewhat. Best to both of you.

  4. TonyNZ

    As far as kids and diets etc…

    Kids are basically mimics. There prime target for mimicry, parents. Tom’s kids will be observing that:

    a) Mummy and Daddy are eating all these fats and low carbs and stuff…
    b) Mummy and Daddy are looking healthy when they do this…
    c) (most important) Mummy and Daddy are happy when they do this…

    Thus the kids decide that if they want to be healthy and happy like their parents, they should eat like them.

    Whereas if they were on a conventional, lowfat diet the kids would see:

    a) Mummy and Daddy are eating all this low fat high grain food…
    b) Mummy and Daddy don’t seem to be any healthier when they do this…
    c) Mummy and Daddy certainly don’t seem any happier when they do this…
    d) I’m not going to do this.

    So the easiest way for children to stick to the same diet as you is to show that you enjoy it. I suspect this is why Tom’s kids ditched the buns at McDees the other day.

    I could go on, but heres another phenomenon I’ve observed recently.

    Dad (getting home from work, fuming): “Man, what a rotten day! That boss can go stick his incident report up his whatsit! Can’t wait til I can retire!”

    Child: [wow, this work gig must suck, bugger working, lets see how else I can make a living].


    Dad (getting home from work, cheery): Well that was a productive day. Gave the boss my report and he’s implementing some of my recomendations, I can feel a promotion coming on.”

    Child: [Dad seems to like this work thing, and by the sounds of it, when he does good work he gets promotions, which sound like a good thing. I think I’ll work hard so I can get promotions]

    Kids are sponges.

  5. Sue

    How cute that your girls ate the cheeseburger minus the buns – made me laugh. I note you put nuts in your girls’ lunch boxes. We can’t do that at our school because of other kids that may have nut allergy.

    Our oldest just finished kindergarten, so she hasn’t had to pack a lunch for school yet. I believe the schools here have the same restriction, and probably will in Tennessee as well. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

  6. andy barge

    Brilliant video again! One of the reasons diabetes may be on the rise is because of programmes like this in the UK.

    I dont know if you have seen this before but it annoyed the hell out of me!

    Oh my god, that’s horrible! And people I think I was paid by McDonald’s … this video is a commercial for Kellogg’s.

  7. Anonymous

    I’m not seeing the videos using firefox? are they in the entry or a separate page on the site?

    No, it’s YouTube, embedded. I’m using FireFox, and it’s there.

  8. Jeromie

    Well, I was a little ticked off today because I was trying to find information about peanut butter. According to the China Study, they found that peanut butter was really bad for your intestines. I came across a blog that pushed a vegan diet and even quoted Spurlocks book about how he “Detoxified” himself by becoming vegan and really pushes no protein. Same thing as the movie “A Beautiful Truth” which has some awesome stuff, but pushes a vegan diet at the end of it too. Do you know much about the China study and what the chance, bias, and confounding might be for the study? I would like to have a summary of the important stuff like what they ate (and what percentages) and how they could’ve seen the results even if protein was absent from the diet. It may not be possible, but I would appreciate the help! Thank you!

    Haven’t heard of it, but I’ll see what I can find. Now you’ve got me curious about it…

  9. Kamal Syed

    I talked to a friend the other day who’s a doctor. I talked about the issue of society/government promoting a high carb diet. He agreed that its not necessarily good for you (its probably bad for you), but he thinks the reason we can’t promote a high-protein / high-fat diet, is that its too expensive!

    If the third world ate a high-protein/high-fat diet, we would not be able to support the world’s population’s food supply. Since carbs are cheap, governments need to promote high carb diets as the only way to affordably feed the world.

    Interesting, but since I can afford to eat better, I definitely will be.


    I think he may have a point. Grains are what allowed the world population to grow to 6 billion. If I lived in an impoverished country, I’d rather eat wheat or rice than starve.

  10. Jim Purdy

    That’s a quite interesting video about starches and sugars. I’m trying to eat a low-carb diet, and that information was very useful. Thanks.

    Good luck with the diet.

  11. Jonathan

    This is not strictly true. Starches are digested and converted into glucose in the body whereas sucrose (table sugar) is made up of both glucose AND fructose.
    Fructose is metabolised in the liver and has been shown to be detrimental to the body in large amounts.

    I believe that if your body hasn’t become insulin resistant then any starch you eat will simply be processed by your body to no ill effect. This is seen in the Kitavans who get 69% of their calories from high-glycemic index carbohydrates (mostly starchy root vegetables).

    However if you are insulin resistant (if your overweight) then any amount of sugar/starch will increase blood sugar leading to increased insulin and increased fat storage.

    – Jonathan

    There are populations who have adapted to the local starches over the millennia. Even in America, about a quarter of the population is apparently (for lack of a better term) resistant to becoming insulin resistant. Those people are like my son, who can live on junk food and soda and never gain a pound. He didn’t inherit this trait from me, of course; his mother (not my wife) used to drink a dozen or more beers every day and never gained a pound either. But no one would point to her as proof that beer doesn’t make people fat.

    If starches are broken down into glucose and a load of glucose in the blood requires insulin to bring blood sugar under control, then the body could become insulin resistant over time if it’s repeatedly exposed to high levels of glucose, whatever the source. The effect is probably more dramatic among those of us whose ancestors weren’t exposed to starches until relatively recently.

    I agree that too much fructose is bad news for the liver. I suspect that high fructose corn syrup, with its slightly higher proportion of fructose (55% versus 50% in table sugar) may have tipped the balance towards more obesity and more liver disease.

  12. Jonathan

    “There are populations who have adapted to the local starches over the millennia.”

    If all carbs are bad for us then this would represent a massive change in the way their bodies’ process food. These people eat high carb diets (even by today’s standards) with no signs of insulin sensitivity, overweight or heart attack. This would not be the case if all carbs are bad for us.

    The Japanese are also an example of this.

    One thing that these two cultures have in common is a very low intake of sugar and bad fats (omega 6) – both horrible for the human body as you discussed in your documentary. I believe that these two things lead to insulin resistance and not a high intake of easily digestible carbohydrate.

    I think you’d find that if you put these two cultures on a diet of flour and sugar – even if you kept there carb levels static – they would soon gain weight and show other signs of metabolic syndrome.

    – Jonathan

    Ps. I just finished your documentary and enjoyed it immensely – I’m glad that there are people out there trying to educate the public against the dogma.

    I don’t think all carbs are created equal, either. The more refined, the worse they are. Sugar, HFCS and white flour will definitely lead to insulin resistance more rapidly.

    I don’t have any data on the population you described, but I do know that Asians typically don’t consume as many carbohydrates as Americans, even with the rice in their diets. One analysis I saw stated that the average intake for an Asian male is about 1800 calories, including fat and protein. The average American consumes 500 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is 2000 calories for just one macronutrient.

    If I had known to avoid sugar and flour in my youth, I could probably eat starchy root vegetables and such today without producing insulin spikes. But unfortunately, once you’ve become insulin-resistant, your ability to handle starches from any source is limited.

    Glad you enjoyed the film.

  13. Anand Srivastava

    On the starch and sugar thing, I agree with Jonathan. I guess you need to read the latest post of Don on

    We all did evolve on Starches, from the Tubers. So yes our body will not develop any bad effects solely from simple starch. Yes grains have many other things in addition to starch that cause problems. White Rice and potatoes are not bad though, as long as you don’t have insulin resistance or leptin resistance.

    Both Insulin resistance and leptin resistance are caused by Fructose. The high Omega 6 in our diet is the main culprit that causes damage to the Liver and arteries. Giving up these two will allow a person to become healthy. Even fat loss will come but slowly. Fat loss can be enhanced by keeping insulin low for a long time. Low carb diets keep the insulin low forever, so are very conducive to losing fat.

    My personal theory is that humans cannot handle a large amount of protein. I would think that anything above 100gms of protein per day on an average human is too much. The excess will get converted to glucose, at some cost to the body. The fuel for the body must come from fat or starch. Fat is the preferred source, but starch is acceptable. Complex carbs keep the insulin high for a longer time and are not entirely acceptable.

    Potatoes and Rice are not nutrient source, they are just fuel sources. Nutrients must come from animal sources. Plants are poor sources of nutrients for humans.

    Interesting article about the tubers. What would be interesting to know is if humans with access to tubers ate them preferentially or considered them a food of last resort. Dr. Al Sears told me the hunter-gatherer tribes he’s observed eat plant foods when the hunting is poor.

    Too much protein with too little fat is definitely a bad idea. It can lead to “rabbit starvation.”

  14. Andrew S

    Answering the question “how will we feed everybody” typically starts with the debate between being vegetarian on one side and concentrated animal feed operations (CAFO) on the other.

    The idea that protein and fat are “too expensive” to feed the world is a bit of a myth plus some miscalculation, addressed by ex-vegetarian Lierre Kieth in her book _The Vegetarian Myth_. For example, the math for the amount of land and water it takes to raise cows assumes that you’re feeding grain to the cows. Raising cattle on grass instead means they graze on marginal land unsuited to farming, making use of more land overall.

    Maybe we can feed 6B, maybe not, but the “conventional wisdom” starts with some bad assumptions.

    Dr Mike Eades recommended Lierre’s book here:

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