16

votes

What's wrong with Taubes?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 29, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Hi all,

My most recent dive into paleo/primal began about a month ago, and it's going really well. This community has been a great source of info, resources, and laughs!

But I don't want to ask a particular question about my particular situation. Rather, I'm looking for some help in navigating the crowded and sometimes murky paleo waters. I've recently listened to Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories as an audiobook, and I'm impressed with the depth and subtlety of the science he brings to his argument. So, I was surprised to see someone in a recent thread mention in passing that there is a lot that is wrong in Taubes' carbohydrate hypothesis.

After listening to Taubes, I read Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution and have been trying to follow his autoimmune protocol advice. For now I'm running with Wolf (hooowwwwwwlll!), but I'm having a hard time reconciling the various sources of paleo advice and information that are out there. Of course, my number one feedback source is my own body, and I think things are going well so far. But I'd like to have a good grip on the underlying science.

So, I guess my question is: can someone offer a broad description of what distinguishes Taubes' theory from those of Wolf, Cordain, Sisson, etc? Do they have more in common than not? Clearly they are coming from different worlds and have different overall goals in their work.

Thanks, all.

EDIT

Thanks for the great answers, everybody. Could you be specific, though, in explaining where Taubes is wrong about his carbohydrate hypothesis?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Hmmm, come to think of it, Sumo wrestlers eat about 10 bowls of rice at a sitting.

54578cc6508b657cad1da21cdf76d74e

(149)

on January 01, 2013
at 06:11 PM

what a great and concise answer

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on March 10, 2012
at 04:09 AM

ha, and then I saw this: http://paleohacks.com/questions/57172/can-taubes-and-guyenet-both-be-right/57194#57194. wowza.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on March 10, 2012
at 03:59 AM

I had this EXACT question and am so happy to see it here! Recently I saw a post by Kurt Harris (on Nikoley's blog, Free the Animal) that said that Taubes was wrong because it's not about "magical" insulin locking fat away, it's about food reward. Can someone please explain? Does Harris think that Taubes' carb->insulin->fat retention theory is just up and wrong? If so, why?

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 13, 2012
at 07:29 PM

I have read that Asians have bigger pancreases, which helps them utilize rice better. Anyone heard that/have an opinion?

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 03, 2011
at 05:21 AM

@Sue: You and me both. But the odds are extraordinarily high for any big losers, as they are for *all* losers, that loss will not be maintained. Research tells us by year 1 post, a good 30% or mopre is typically regained and this progesses. This is true for about 97%. The fact is that for the vast majority, loss is hard work, but maintenance is herculean work that most fail.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:08 PM

I hope he can maintain.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 05:36 PM

@Aaron, the bottom line for me is that you just can't look at the human population of the Earth, even today, and conclude that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening. You just can't. So if it's something else, then that's not Taubes' hypothesis. Although now he says it's sugar, but fructose doesn't stimulate insulin. And round and round we go. Replacing "cholesterol kills" with "carbs kill" isn't getting us anywhere.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 05:29 PM

@Sue: I'd add Malcolm Kendrick there too. I am mildly annoyed (cuz I like me my animal fat, specially buttterrrr) that when you add all the other countries back in to Key's cherry picking, the correlation does not seem to go away quite like Ravnskov contends.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:16 PM

(con't) @ Sue: The proof is in the pudding. The real test with Jay begins NOW. 1-2-3- and 5 years will tell the tale, and that, of course, is IF he perseveres with PHD.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:14 PM

@Sue. Thanks. I am a consistent reader of Paul's and greatly respect his work. You will not that Jay has lost large amounts of weight many times. I applaud this current loss. What I will be most interested to see is Jay's ability to maintain - meaning, where he is in 3 years and 5 years. I'm very interested in this case in Paul's commentary re: setpoint change. And I look at obesity as highly heterogeneous. I love Paul's diet and feel it can work for many, many people and might be optimum for many. I have recommended his book to tons of folks and will continue to do so.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:56 PM

To me, "fattening carb" is practically a tautology. (It certainly is in my body. I don't have to weigh myself anymore; I can predict my weight based on how many carbs I've eaten lately.) It makes sense from a paleo perspective too: carbs would have been the most plentiful in the summer and fall, in time to put on some extra fat for the winter. The *real* question is: was it the carbs themselves that triggered the hormonal changes that make carbs fattening for me, while not for my skinny friend? Or did some other factor flip that switch, so suddenly carbs became (more) fattening for me?

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:50 PM

You have to retain the context of "compared to." Yes, "carbs are bad" is a heresy, but compared to "animal fats are good for you," it's a lesser one. After all, there has been a vocal minority of low-carb doctors and researchers for decades; they never completely went away from when "sweets make you fat" was common knowledge. But even many of those heretics wouldn't challenge the anti-fat hierarchy, and tried to shoehorn their low-carb plans into the low-fat paradigm, ending up with recommendations to cut carbs by replacing them with more protein or "healthy" fats like PUFAs.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:35 AM

Uffe Ravnskov deserves the credit for the fat and cholesterol are harmless.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:14 AM

Check out latest PHD post - Jay Wright went from 250 to 170 in 7 months on perfect health diet http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=5181

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:04 AM

Evelyn, well said.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 10:54 AM

"Carbs are bad" is a minor heresy? That's got to be the understatement of the year! What Taubes has succeeded in doing is replace the hoax of sat fat demonization with the hoax of the uniquely fattening carb.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 10:42 AM

I'm not here to hack my weight Dextery, sorry if that disappoints you. But as to your last question, the laws of thermo DO hold rather well in my and all situations. This question asked what was wrong with Taubes' theories. I answered.

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:09 AM

Why do you think you have plateaued out. What science do you apply to your stall? Is the science irrelevant to your personal situation? Why does not the thermodynamics law hold rather well in your situation?

4aea637def16d0b25b17fb69fd651a0b

(105)

on December 01, 2011
at 09:30 PM

This is true. Taubes is not wrong. He was extremely careful to not be wrong. That doesn't necessarily make him right. And to him that distinction is everything. Are carbs the trigger for obesity? Maybe. Is it a specific carb (fructose, or wheat)? Quite likely. Is it something else (palatability, omega 6 imbalance, trans fats)? Certainly could be. But no matter what the ultimate trigger is, he is most certainly not wrong that insulin is responsible for shunting calories into adipose tissue. The way to fix that, if your metabolism is broken, is to manipulate your insulin levels through diet.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 06:26 PM

The laws of thermodynamics hold rather well. Eating less and/or moving more works every time its tried. VLC worked for the EL part for a nice long ride, but I've plateaued out with that. My "weightiness" as you call it is irrelevant to the science. Or do you think just because someone loses weight eating a particular way verifies the theory of the diet? I knew several people who lost weight on the Beverly Hills Diet ... doesn't make Mazel's whacked pseudo/junk science any more credible.

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 01, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Ok Evelyn, What unflawed science and theory do you hold that you apply to your own personal weightiness that explains all?...I ask again.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on December 01, 2011
at 02:30 PM

As if "fat and cholesterol are harmless (maybe even good) and we've all been victims of a hoax for forty years" wasn't groundbreaking and earthshattering by itself? "Carbs are bad" is minor heresy compared to that.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 10:53 AM

@Aravind, Yeah, the *Taubes is not paleo* is what really confounds me as to how GCBC made it into the paleo literature part of the PH Infographic. I do believe peanut oil is a recommended fat in the diet he put forth in WWGF.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 10:49 AM

@edrice: And drink a lot of beer, and take naps after they stuff their faces silly. Your point?

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 10:46 AM

Dextery, I've asked before, and I'll ask again. It's Evelyn or CarbSane please. The name you use is a personal attack.

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 01, 2011
at 03:25 AM

CarbInsane, you sound like a politician like Barney Frank trying to shout down an idea that you absolutely "know" is wrong for the country. I ask you, what unflawed science and theory do you hold that you apply to your own personal weightiness that explains all?

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 01, 2011
at 03:16 AM

CarbInsane, you sound like a politician like Barney Frank trying to shout down an idea that you absolutely "know" is wrong for the country. I ask you, what theory do you hold that you apply to your own weightiness that explains all?

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 01, 2011
at 03:04 AM

@Rose: <3 to you. And today, or as of last night, I have run across two terms I am adopting, while throwing out "metabolically deranged" which has become quite the whipping post in these parts...They are: carbohydrate intolerant and obligate low carber. I ran across both on Judy Tsafrir MD's blog. And of course, you comment is so totally on spot!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 01, 2011
at 02:59 AM

@TeaElf, edrice, Arvind and TheLoon - Thanks and thanks for reading. Being succinct is quite obviously NOT a strength of mine!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 01, 2011
at 02:58 AM

@Dorado Galore: Ah, it is good that none of us can see each other's thoughts, sometimes...;)

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on November 30, 2011
at 08:09 PM

Superb answer, Aaron.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 07:50 PM

Hi Charlie, As Beth linked above, I've done a fair amount of Taubes debunking on my blog. Many would say it's how I made my name, which is probably true, but I do blog on a lot of other topics. (It just happens that my critics tend to read those posts they are most critical of more often. Go figure!) I have a search on the right sidebar on the blog. The GT fact check labels have a lot of hits, but searching on Frayn, "Reference Check", McGarry, etc. may be a better place to start. Also a summary of where he falls short here: http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2011/01/stick-toothpick-in-it

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 07:04 PM

In addition, some of these authors have revised their stance over time. Robb Wolf in particular talked on one of his podcasts recently about how he was originally a LCing paleo until he realized it was hurting his performance and so now he has added more starch in his diet. So again, I think that the right stance re carbs is that the ideal amount varies on a person to person basis.

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 30, 2011
at 07:00 PM

skepticism of taubes, that is

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 30, 2011
at 07:00 PM

That's quite a list! Not sure what to make of it without specific examples, but consider my skepticism increased.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Exactly edrice, there were plenty of refined carbohydrates (white rice) available, but obesity mainly only affected the people that were force-feeding themselves huge quantities of calories. The insulin and abundant refined carbs did not cause increased eating in the general population. Taubes should have looked at this and came up with better answers before writing his book instead of fumbling for explanations still years later.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 06:13 PM

But Rose, re: *My recollection is that he said it's because those who eat rice regularly are generally eating low-calorie diets* ... ummm, so they don't eat a lot and don't get obese. This is that "old paradigm" right?

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 06:11 PM

He does a great job with the sat fat/cholesterol and disease. That's about it. His mangling of the science of obesity has me more questioning whether he was indeed right about the sat fat & cholesterol now than anything else. That part still looks solid and he probably should have stopped there. But after the NYT piece, I think that book advance was for something groundbreaking and earthshattering about obesity. So he had to come up with something.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:58 PM

Mem, brilliant response. However, it saddens me that you didn't take time to call someone a liar, a knave, a fool, a moron, an imbecile, or worse, a vegan. You appear in fact to be well mannered and respectful. Urge you to practice scoring points by taking cheap shots on a wild and indiscriminate basis. Or, on a narrow and focused basis, if you prefer. Just get ruder, dude. (Seriously, your response is a model for aspiring grownups such as myself.)

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:17 PM

"It'll all shake out in time." Yep. As interesting as mechanisms are, in real life, solutions rule. If low-reward's working for ya, work it. If starches are working for ya, starch it up. Just keep yer tuber-lovin' paws off my ribeye.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:06 PM

The following link has Taubes' answer to the Asian question - 1)eating mainly brown rice instead of white and 2) no sugar (those familiar with Japan have said that these are both false) - http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jan/04/what-does-food-have-do-being-fat/ (Taubes' 5th comment from bottom, or search for "Japan".)

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 30, 2011
at 03:51 PM

+whatever, best answer ever, even tho I am not sure you answered it

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 30, 2011
at 03:48 PM

or perhaps you will eat carefully throughout your life, keeping thin and active, and then balloon out once you hit menopause, and realize that any theory is wrong if it doesn't adequately take hormonal factors into account.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:48 PM

Also, if the Insulin Theory was correct, it would seem that eating white rice would have spurred even more eating of white rice. If their total number of carbs were low, why did they not increase it? Affluent places like Japan had no economic constraints on the amount of carbs or calories consumed, but yet they did not overeat carbs or calories. The Insulin Theory does not explain why there was no obesity epidemic in Japan until the greater adoption of Western diet and lifestyle. There was something about Western diet and lifestyle, and it was not carbs. He should have explored this initially.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 02:36 PM

Great answer mem!!!!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:36 PM

Kudos, Mem! - from another "ageist." You're a master of astute observation and your time on earth will be beneficial to others.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 01:02 PM

Jaminet recommends 100-150g of carbs a day as a baseline (more if you're active) and also recommends "safe" starches from potatoes, white rice, taro and so on. I don't disagree that these are considerably lower carb diets than SAD, but they are also not the diet that the LC community typically endorses as the whole Jimmy Moore "safe starch" debate shows.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 12:01 PM

mem - Cordain is decidedly high fat? Moreover, "decidedly" is based on your low carb paradigm. Look, there have been so many macronutrient debates here and elsewhere that we are unlikely to resolve in this thread. But as you know, I respect and value your opinion even if it is to the contrary

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 06:36 AM

+1 - Yes, well done! Thank you, Aaron!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 06:33 AM

@Aravind: You can combine any combination of macronutrient that you wish. The fact still stands that every paleo luminary who has written a book and those cited by the OP describe what are clearly low carbohydrate eating plans in their books. These are specifically described diets.Anyone of us can eat macros as we wish. That is a choice. It is not based on the recommendations of these books. Paleo is decidedly high fat, again, by comparison to all recommendations outside of paleo. It would be an equal "dodge" to state that this is simply a "correlation."

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on November 30, 2011
at 06:27 AM

Awesome answer, Mem!

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on November 30, 2011
at 05:26 AM

Or perhaps you've never had any weight issues but somehow screwed up your digestive system in your 20s. Then you go low carb, heal your "incurable" disease, and realize you did in fact experience minor nagging health problems from carbs all along.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 05:03 AM

Reasonable people can disagree :-)

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 04:58 AM

mem - I'm sorry you feel it was weak. I do not believe that Paleo is necessarily low carb and stand by that

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:19 AM

(con't) the amount of smoking which seems to have only been referred to as a "small amount." For non overweight ppl who quit smoking, some studies show and average weight gain of 17-20lbs. And that, of course, is only the average...For overweight/obese persons who quit smoking, the weight gain is around 40lbs. Per an interveiw with a Kitavan on Stephan's site, Kitavan's basically never eat over two meals. "Sometimes, we might have a piece of fruit if we get hungry." Lots of questions...fewer answers.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:13 AM

Aravind: This is weak, very, very weak. " "That low carb is correlated to many implementations of Paleo is exactly that - a correlation." These writer's characterize their diets in words: HIGH FAT, MODERATE PROTEIN LOW CARB. Macronutrient ratios are described. There is a reason for this and it isn't happenstance. Perhaps someone will write a NEW paleo book based on the Kitavan's diet. Hopefully, they will be far more interested in some habits like Kitavan smoking and lipolysis in relation to smoking and smoking as an appetite suppressant.They might even bother to *quantify*

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:05 AM

*used intelligently*

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:04 AM

Jaminet's eating plan is a self-described low carb diet, and indeed it is. Sissons' carb range goes up to about 150, which is quite assuredly, low carb. And of course, the assumption si that this will be sued intelligently...ie, begin wt gain, back down. Neither Wolf nor Cordain advocate anything approaching the typical American carb intake, which is 490gm/day, or even approaching the ADA recommended daily carb intake which for a woman my hieght an size would be in excess of 300gms/carb/day. Reading thier books and diet plans puts them right in line with Sisson's scaled recs.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 02:56 AM

Or perhaps your health will completely fall apart at the age of 45 or so, and you'll become obese over a couple three years right along with your multiple medical illnesses, low carb and maintain a 90lb weight loss continuing to low carb for 9 years now, with an additional total for a 106 longterm weight loss, and be within optimum weight range, which contrasts with a mere 97% of all weight-losers...oh, and maybe you'll lose all the additional medical illness along the way, even b4 you begin paying attention to 06/03 ratios...

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:17 AM

Charlie, I specifically phrased it in such a way as to not express a personal opinion one way or the other. I understand the controversy, but I don't know enough about the science to know exactly who is right. Taube's book Why We Get Fat was the book that first convinced me my vegetarian-ish diet might not be the best option and opened my mind to the paleo books I read after, so I am glad I read his book. I wasn't so much interested in his insulin theory as I was in his debunking of the lipid hypothesis, which is not particularly controversial--at least not in the paleo community.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Or perhaps you'll do Atkins in your 20s (twice) and it worked so well and then after the time you became a vegetarian and got a like a toothpick, hardly a muscle in sight, and then USDA SAD and got fat then got into your 50s and tried it again and it worked so well, that you got into your 60s and did it even once more with the same results only this time you called it Paleo, and decided from here on out it's low carb paleo till the dirt nap. Taubes cracked the code and is not going away.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:14 AM

Or perhaps you'll do Atkins in your 20s (twice) and it worked so well and then after the time you became a vegetarian and got a like a toothpick, hardly a muscle in sight, and then USDA SAD and got fat then got into your 50s and tried it again and it worked so well, that you got into your 60s and did it even once more with the same results only this time you called it Paleo, and decided from here on out it's low carb paleo till the dirt nap. Taubes cracked the code and is not going away.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on November 30, 2011
at 01:15 AM

plus one Aaron......

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 01:04 AM

Rose, I think he has used various arguments at various times (the one you mention is similar to his "all diets are low carb diets" line.) I think he would have come up with something much more interesting had he thought it through in the beginning before writing his book. The big question is “What is different about Western diet and lifestyle?” Sugar and flour are strongly correlated, but maybe there is more to it (some have even used this same correlation to say that whole grains are the answer.) I think if he had really explored the question more he would be much more in the Ancestral camp.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:52 AM

You want specifics? This oughta keep you busy for a while: http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/search/label/Gary%20Taubes%20Fact%20Check

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:50 AM

My recollection is that he said it's because those who eat rice regularly are generally eating low-calorie diets, and even if the % of carbohydrate is highish, the absolute amount is still relatively low -- lower than the amount eaten by cultures that have received the blessings of cheap flour and sugar. I could be wrong; I'm not home and can't search my books/files.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:49 AM

Or perhaps you'll do the low-carb thing (more than once) in your 20s and 30s and decide a decade or two later that there's got to be a better way. That's why I'm going with Harris and Jaminet ... so far, safe starches are working for me!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:42 AM

Well done Aaron B! A lot of people here don't get this because it hasn't happened to them. I'm skinny now but if I look at a carb I blow out like an airbag! It didn't happen when I was young and most of the doubters are young. Just wait, kiddos, it's coming your way and you'll change your tune. Taubes has been there.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:41 AM

At one point he said it was because Asians really eat brown rice instead of white rice. Then later he said it was because they don't eat as much sugar (wouldn't that be the Sugar Theory of Obesity then?) It is clear from his answers though that he hadn't thought about it when he first developed his hypothesis. If he had, he would have went with a different hypothesis from the get go. He should have used that part of the book to look at what is different about Western lifestyle and diet instead of roping himself in to the crayon science of Insulin Theory. Then he would have been "Ancestral".

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:35 AM

What CharlieMezak said! The perfect is the enemy of the good! A lot of strict constructionsistS are not getting it. They want their cult to prevail or scorched earth.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:28 AM

All I can say to the grain-fed high carbers is, Beat It!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:23 AM

Shari Rocks! Taubes Rules!

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:20 AM

You know, I've heard the whole asian+rice point brought up before, and I thought Taubes had an answer for it. I can't remember what that answer was, though! I'm going to go look for it.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:18 AM

Charlie, scroll to the bottom of this -- http://gettingstronger.org/2011/11/obesity-starts-in-the-brain-2/ -- to see a pretty good summary of what seems unsound to some folks re Taubes' theory.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:13 AM

Yes I do! I believe I called him an asshat (I'd have to check the #AHS11 tweet stream to be sure ;).

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 12:10 AM

Beth - then you know that I am justified in calling him a douche!

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:09 AM

You all suck. My poor friends are looking for their bottles of eye bleach right now.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:03 AM

Charlie, see also this from Kurt Harris: http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/9/29/jimmy-moore-inquires-about-safe-starches.html

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:02 AM

Thundercats are goooooo

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:01 AM

Aravind, I do, I was there ;).

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:01 AM

I think there's only one real disagreement, and that's how many carbs folks should eat. Taubes recommends a low carb diet; the others you mention do not see any problems with otherwise healthy, active people including higher amounts of carbs in their diet, as long as they avoid neolithic sources of them.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:50 PM

@CharlieM - this would require a lengthy answer and would be slightly more controversial that gay marriage or abortion. Read Whole Health Source - Stephan Guyenet - for the arguments against the Carbohydrate Theory of Obesity.

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:46 PM

I get that Taubes isn't paleo per se, but he certainly does write a lot about how pre-modern diets don't seem to cause the chronic ailments that are common in our society. But what specifically prevents you from subscribing to his hypothesis that carbohydrate consumption (especially easily digestible carbs) is the main cause of obesity in western society?

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Thanks, Kewpie. But what about Taubes' theory seems unsound to you? If anything, it seems that Taubes could be looked at as providing the modern scientific proof that the underlying assumptions of paleo is correct, that assumption being that we are best adapted to eating what our ancestors ate. Taubes may not be out to prove that particular point, but doesn't his contribution to the discussion weigh mostly on the side of paleo?

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:42 PM

Thanks, Beth. I think you've done the best job of addressing my question. I understand that Taubes' underlying argument comes out of modern biochemistry and epidemiology, while folks like Wolf and Cordain are taking greater leaps through the theory that we are probably best adapted to eating the foods our ancestors ate. What I'd really like to understand is what specific disagreements exist between paleo folks and Taubes.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:39 PM

@Beth - do you know what I am referring to?

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:38 PM

@LB - Make it happen Cap'n. I'm your wingman. Testicles are locked and cocked...pun intended

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:37 PM

Shari never got the memo that being a whore is so not Low Carb. Fortunately it is Paleo, so she has that going for her, which is nice.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Oh. So this is where u hangin? Balls goin on the wall!!!

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:24 PM

Shari and Taubesy sitting in a tree, C-I-C-O...

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:24 PM

Shari and Taubesy, sitting in a tree, C-I-C-O

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 29, 2011
at 11:12 PM

Plus 1 for the edit!

94a4a87e3d2e1e9160b6ed77678b4bea

(1311)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:54 PM

True - get you started on the right track. I have loved Taube's writing style the best of all the diet-science books I have read and he definately left me on the hunt for more reading material and that's what led me to Paleohacks! Yay!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 10:45 PM

Don't bring a knife to a gun fight Kumar!

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:42 PM

Truce, truce! This is getting too intense.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 10:39 PM

Oh no you din't. Well your mama is a llama...like a Camel

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:36 PM

Your mom is correlated to many implementations of paleo.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:26 PM

First of all, your question is quite well written! Second of all, it might not be an issue of differing theories. Rather, Taubes has a theory that he advocates as central to weight gain, whereas Wolf/Cordain/Sisson have written on a wider variety of things and seem to be more into practical eating advice.

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12 Answers

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14
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 29, 2011
at 11:09 PM

Taubes believes that carbohydrates in the diet drive insulin levels up and this insulin causes fat to remain locked away in fat stores, thus leading to obesity. He is now suggesting that sugar/fructose have a role in creating the initial insulin resistance. But bottom line: he advocates a low carb, high fat diet and his diet prescription doesn't include much aside from macronutrient ratios. This view is highly regarded among low carbers, but others not so much (many feel that the fact that reducing carbs aids in weight loss does not necessarily mean that carbs were the cause of weight gain).

On the other hand, Wolf, Cordain, and Sisson advocate making dietary choices based on our evolutionary past. In general, they suggest we avoid foods that haven't been around long enough for us to have adapted to them and that doing so will lead to improved health. Things like grains, dairy, and sugar are all the so-called "neolithic" foods and baseline paleo is to avoid these foods. Then folks start branching off, where you have some who recommend dairy (Sisson) or others (Jaminet, Harris) who recommend "safe" starches low in the toxins paleo folks like to avoid (e.g., white rice, white potatoes). All of these folks suggest varying levels of carbs depending on your personal situation (are you healthy, do you exercise a lot, etc).

I'm not exactly sure that they have a lot in common given that their main tenets are really very different ... I guess it's that they both place a lot of stock in meat ;). That said, if you are going to do a low-carb diet, doing it paleo is going to be far, far healthier for you than one that simply eliminates carbs.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:05 AM

*used intelligently*

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:42 PM

Thanks, Beth. I think you've done the best job of addressing my question. I understand that Taubes' underlying argument comes out of modern biochemistry and epidemiology, while folks like Wolf and Cordain are taking greater leaps through the theory that we are probably best adapted to eating the foods our ancestors ate. What I'd really like to understand is what specific disagreements exist between paleo folks and Taubes.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:04 AM

Jaminet's eating plan is a self-described low carb diet, and indeed it is. Sissons' carb range goes up to about 150, which is quite assuredly, low carb. And of course, the assumption si that this will be sued intelligently...ie, begin wt gain, back down. Neither Wolf nor Cordain advocate anything approaching the typical American carb intake, which is 490gm/day, or even approaching the ADA recommended daily carb intake which for a woman my hieght an size would be in excess of 300gms/carb/day. Reading thier books and diet plans puts them right in line with Sisson's scaled recs.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:01 AM

I think there's only one real disagreement, and that's how many carbs folks should eat. Taubes recommends a low carb diet; the others you mention do not see any problems with otherwise healthy, active people including higher amounts of carbs in their diet, as long as they avoid neolithic sources of them.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 01:02 PM

Jaminet recommends 100-150g of carbs a day as a baseline (more if you're active) and also recommends "safe" starches from potatoes, white rice, taro and so on. I don't disagree that these are considerably lower carb diets than SAD, but they are also not the diet that the LC community typically endorses as the whole Jimmy Moore "safe starch" debate shows.

54578cc6508b657cad1da21cdf76d74e

(149)

on January 01, 2013
at 06:11 PM

what a great and concise answer

29
03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:28 AM

GCBC does two main things:

  1. It explores the dietary fat/cholesterol hypothesis of obesity and disease, and tears it to shreds. Not only does it show how little actual evidence supports this belief that everyone today takes on faith, and how easily it can be falsified; but it also explains the true sources of the belief, which were political and sociological, not scientific. (If he'd stopped writing after this point, he already would have done a great service to humanity.)

  2. It presents an alternate hypothesis of obesity and the diseases of civilization (DoC) -- namely that they are caused primarily by excess consumption of carbohydrates, especially processed carbs like flour and sugar. It gives numerous examples of societies where obesity and DoC shot up when colonists came in and introduced the people to "civilized" food containing large amounts of those staples.

The important thing to remember about #2 is that it's a hypothesis. The purpose of a hypothesis is to set up an explanation that seems plausible, and then see if anyone can shoot it down (as GCBC does thoroughly with the dietary fat/cholesterol hypothesis). A hypothesis isn't really expected to be solid when you first present it. You publish it so people can poke around at it and see if they can find any contradictions, and you rethink it to see if you can make it withstand those. Rinse and repeat. If it holds up well over time and no one seems to be able to punch any more holes in it, you call it a theory and say you're starting to be pretty sure it's true.

GCBC is just the first step in that process. It presents the carbohydrate hypothesis as a simple cause-and-effect: eat a lot of carbs -- especially refined carbs that tend to convert to blood sugar faster than whole foods and have had much of their nutrition removed -- and you will raise your insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that tells your cells to store fat, so chronically higher insulin levels means you'll store more fat, until your body balances the two at a higher level than if you hadn't been eating so many carbs. Keep up the consumption, and you may also wear down your capability to produce insulin and/or your cells' sensitivity to it, leading to one or the other type of diabetes. In the process, high levels of insulin stress various systems in the body, leading to heart disease and other maladies.

That's the starting point in a nutshell, but it still leaves a lot to explore. Do the type of carbs matter? Could you eat potatoes for generations and never have a problem, but one generation on white flour makes you sickly and fat? Could the carbs be "opportunists", only having a negative effect when some other culprit (industrial seed oils, fructose, gluten, stress, pollution, take your pick) gets the ball rolling? What part do genetic differences between peoples play in this; could some racial groups be better adapted to some/all carbs than others? If refined carbs are the culprit, do they cause obesity by the carbs->insulin->fat-retention method he suggests, or through some other mechanism where elevated insulin is more side-effect than cause? Whatever the mechanism, is cutting carbs the way to reverse the damage (and is the damage reversible?), or does something else have to be done?

So there's a lot left to explore, and it probably won't come down to Taubes being "right" or "wrong." He supplies plenty of evidence that he's onto something, but it will take time to figure out exactly what. How much of his hypothesis will remain when it's been whittled down and rethought in light of continued new study and evidence, we don't know. But I'd bet he's already a lot closer to the truth than the fat/cholesterol stuff ever was.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:42 AM

Well done Aaron B! A lot of people here don't get this because it hasn't happened to them. I'm skinny now but if I look at a carb I blow out like an airbag! It didn't happen when I was young and most of the doubters are young. Just wait, kiddos, it's coming your way and you'll change your tune. Taubes has been there.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 30, 2011
at 03:48 PM

or perhaps you will eat carefully throughout your life, keeping thin and active, and then balloon out once you hit menopause, and realize that any theory is wrong if it doesn't adequately take hormonal factors into account.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Or perhaps you'll do Atkins in your 20s (twice) and it worked so well and then after the time you became a vegetarian and got a like a toothpick, hardly a muscle in sight, and then USDA SAD and got fat then got into your 50s and tried it again and it worked so well, that you got into your 60s and did it even once more with the same results only this time you called it Paleo, and decided from here on out it's low carb paleo till the dirt nap. Taubes cracked the code and is not going away.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on November 30, 2011
at 05:26 AM

Or perhaps you've never had any weight issues but somehow screwed up your digestive system in your 20s. Then you go low carb, heal your "incurable" disease, and realize you did in fact experience minor nagging health problems from carbs all along.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on November 30, 2011
at 08:09 PM

Superb answer, Aaron.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 06:36 AM

+1 - Yes, well done! Thank you, Aaron!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:14 AM

Or perhaps you'll do Atkins in your 20s (twice) and it worked so well and then after the time you became a vegetarian and got a like a toothpick, hardly a muscle in sight, and then USDA SAD and got fat then got into your 50s and tried it again and it worked so well, that you got into your 60s and did it even once more with the same results only this time you called it Paleo, and decided from here on out it's low carb paleo till the dirt nap. Taubes cracked the code and is not going away.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 02:56 AM

Or perhaps your health will completely fall apart at the age of 45 or so, and you'll become obese over a couple three years right along with your multiple medical illnesses, low carb and maintain a 90lb weight loss continuing to low carb for 9 years now, with an additional total for a 106 longterm weight loss, and be within optimum weight range, which contrasts with a mere 97% of all weight-losers...oh, and maybe you'll lose all the additional medical illness along the way, even b4 you begin paying attention to 06/03 ratios...

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:49 AM

Or perhaps you'll do the low-carb thing (more than once) in your 20s and 30s and decide a decade or two later that there's got to be a better way. That's why I'm going with Harris and Jaminet ... so far, safe starches are working for me!

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on November 30, 2011
at 01:15 AM

plus one Aaron......

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 10:54 AM

"Carbs are bad" is a minor heresy? That's got to be the understatement of the year! What Taubes has succeeded in doing is replace the hoax of sat fat demonization with the hoax of the uniquely fattening carb.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:35 AM

Uffe Ravnskov deserves the credit for the fat and cholesterol are harmless.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 06:11 PM

He does a great job with the sat fat/cholesterol and disease. That's about it. His mangling of the science of obesity has me more questioning whether he was indeed right about the sat fat & cholesterol now than anything else. That part still looks solid and he probably should have stopped there. But after the NYT piece, I think that book advance was for something groundbreaking and earthshattering about obesity. So he had to come up with something.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on December 01, 2011
at 02:30 PM

As if "fat and cholesterol are harmless (maybe even good) and we've all been victims of a hoax for forty years" wasn't groundbreaking and earthshattering by itself? "Carbs are bad" is minor heresy compared to that.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 05:36 PM

@Aaron, the bottom line for me is that you just can't look at the human population of the Earth, even today, and conclude that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening. You just can't. So if it's something else, then that's not Taubes' hypothesis. Although now he says it's sugar, but fructose doesn't stimulate insulin. And round and round we go. Replacing "cholesterol kills" with "carbs kill" isn't getting us anywhere.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:50 PM

You have to retain the context of "compared to." Yes, "carbs are bad" is a heresy, but compared to "animal fats are good for you," it's a lesser one. After all, there has been a vocal minority of low-carb doctors and researchers for decades; they never completely went away from when "sweets make you fat" was common knowledge. But even many of those heretics wouldn't challenge the anti-fat hierarchy, and tried to shoehorn their low-carb plans into the low-fat paradigm, ending up with recommendations to cut carbs by replacing them with more protein or "healthy" fats like PUFAs.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 05:29 PM

@Sue: I'd add Malcolm Kendrick there too. I am mildly annoyed (cuz I like me my animal fat, specially buttterrrr) that when you add all the other countries back in to Key's cherry picking, the correlation does not seem to go away quite like Ravnskov contends.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:56 PM

To me, "fattening carb" is practically a tautology. (It certainly is in my body. I don't have to weigh myself anymore; I can predict my weight based on how many carbs I've eaten lately.) It makes sense from a paleo perspective too: carbs would have been the most plentiful in the summer and fall, in time to put on some extra fat for the winter. The *real* question is: was it the carbs themselves that triggered the hormonal changes that make carbs fattening for me, while not for my skinny friend? Or did some other factor flip that switch, so suddenly carbs became (more) fattening for me?

24
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on November 29, 2011
at 11:02 PM

What???s wrong with Taubes?

Nothing. Not one damn thing.

(And yes, I want to have his low carb paleo babby.)

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:38 PM

@LB - Make it happen Cap'n. I'm your wingman. Testicles are locked and cocked...pun intended

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:24 PM

Shari and Taubesy, sitting in a tree, C-I-C-O

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:02 AM

Thundercats are goooooo

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:24 PM

Shari and Taubesy sitting in a tree, C-I-C-O...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:28 AM

All I can say to the grain-fed high carbers is, Beat It!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:37 PM

Shari never got the memo that being a whore is so not Low Carb. Fortunately it is Paleo, so she has that going for her, which is nice.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:09 AM

You all suck. My poor friends are looking for their bottles of eye bleach right now.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Oh. So this is where u hangin? Balls goin on the wall!!!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:23 AM

Shari Rocks! Taubes Rules!

4aea637def16d0b25b17fb69fd651a0b

(105)

on December 01, 2011
at 09:30 PM

This is true. Taubes is not wrong. He was extremely careful to not be wrong. That doesn't necessarily make him right. And to him that distinction is everything. Are carbs the trigger for obesity? Maybe. Is it a specific carb (fructose, or wheat)? Quite likely. Is it something else (palatability, omega 6 imbalance, trans fats)? Certainly could be. But no matter what the ultimate trigger is, he is most certainly not wrong that insulin is responsible for shunting calories into adipose tissue. The way to fix that, if your metabolism is broken, is to manipulate your insulin levels through diet.

14
D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 10:34 PM

Taubes is not Paleo per se. Taubes has provided a treatise on the role of carbohydrates vis-a-vis obesity (which I personally do not subscribe to, but to each their own).

That low carb is correlated to many implementations of Paleo is exactly that - a correlation.

EDIT - The thing that is wrong with him is that he cuts in front of people when attending nutritional seminars. What kind of person does that?!?!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 10:45 PM

Don't bring a knife to a gun fight Kumar!

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:03 AM

Charlie, see also this from Kurt Harris: http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/9/29/jimmy-moore-inquires-about-safe-starches.html

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:42 PM

Truce, truce! This is getting too intense.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 12:01 PM

mem - Cordain is decidedly high fat? Moreover, "decidedly" is based on your low carb paradigm. Look, there have been so many macronutrient debates here and elsewhere that we are unlikely to resolve in this thread. But as you know, I respect and value your opinion even if it is to the contrary

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 10:39 PM

Oh no you din't. Well your mama is a llama...like a Camel

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 05:03 AM

Reasonable people can disagree :-)

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:13 AM

Aravind: This is weak, very, very weak. " "That low carb is correlated to many implementations of Paleo is exactly that - a correlation." These writer's characterize their diets in words: HIGH FAT, MODERATE PROTEIN LOW CARB. Macronutrient ratios are described. There is a reason for this and it isn't happenstance. Perhaps someone will write a NEW paleo book based on the Kitavan's diet. Hopefully, they will be far more interested in some habits like Kitavan smoking and lipolysis in relation to smoking and smoking as an appetite suppressant.They might even bother to *quantify*

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:13 AM

Yes I do! I believe I called him an asshat (I'd have to check the #AHS11 tweet stream to be sure ;).

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:36 PM

Your mom is correlated to many implementations of paleo.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 03:19 AM

(con't) the amount of smoking which seems to have only been referred to as a "small amount." For non overweight ppl who quit smoking, some studies show and average weight gain of 17-20lbs. And that, of course, is only the average...For overweight/obese persons who quit smoking, the weight gain is around 40lbs. Per an interveiw with a Kitavan on Stephan's site, Kitavan's basically never eat over two meals. "Sometimes, we might have a piece of fruit if we get hungry." Lots of questions...fewer answers.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:50 PM

@CharlieM - this would require a lengthy answer and would be slightly more controversial that gay marriage or abortion. Read Whole Health Source - Stephan Guyenet - for the arguments against the Carbohydrate Theory of Obesity.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 12:10 AM

Beth - then you know that I am justified in calling him a douche!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 06:33 AM

@Aravind: You can combine any combination of macronutrient that you wish. The fact still stands that every paleo luminary who has written a book and those cited by the OP describe what are clearly low carbohydrate eating plans in their books. These are specifically described diets.Anyone of us can eat macros as we wish. That is a choice. It is not based on the recommendations of these books. Paleo is decidedly high fat, again, by comparison to all recommendations outside of paleo. It would be an equal "dodge" to state that this is simply a "correlation."

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 29, 2011
at 11:12 PM

Plus 1 for the edit!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 29, 2011
at 11:39 PM

@Beth - do you know what I am referring to?

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:01 AM

Aravind, I do, I was there ;).

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 04:58 AM

mem - I'm sorry you feel it was weak. I do not believe that Paleo is necessarily low carb and stand by that

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:46 PM

I get that Taubes isn't paleo per se, but he certainly does write a lot about how pre-modern diets don't seem to cause the chronic ailments that are common in our society. But what specifically prevents you from subscribing to his hypothesis that carbohydrate consumption (especially easily digestible carbs) is the main cause of obesity in western society?

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 10:53 AM

@Aravind, Yeah, the *Taubes is not paleo* is what really confounds me as to how GCBC made it into the paleo literature part of the PH Infographic. I do believe peanut oil is a recommended fat in the diet he put forth in WWGF.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 07:04 PM

In addition, some of these authors have revised their stance over time. Robb Wolf in particular talked on one of his podcasts recently about how he was originally a LCing paleo until he realized it was hurting his performance and so now he has added more starch in his diet. So again, I think that the right stance re carbs is that the ideal amount varies on a person to person basis.

12
Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on November 30, 2011
at 06:15 AM

One of the benefits of age is that you develop the looooooong view...

Another great benefit of aging is often the growing impatience with that which is easily and rapidly identified as "drama."

You've reentered the paleosphere at a time of great drama.

We are a bunch of humans and lord oh lordy, are humans ever drama-kings and queens!

We stimulate and excite ourselves this way. ;)

Folks around these parts have been talking lots about food reward and self over-stimulation in general. Perhaps we should be looking at drama-reward just as we look at high-stim reward and what it does to our brains...

Anyhow, here's something handy to assist you in taking a longer view. It is a post from 2008 - 3 years ago - maybe a little less, in which the first commenter is our well loved (with good reason!)Dr. Stephan Guyenet. Let me quote it for you:

"Hey Peter,

Nice post. I think the connection between insulin, hunger and obesity is not really appreciated in mainstream medicine.

Gary Taubes has a nice discussion of it in "Good Calories, Bad Calories".

I'm working on a post about obesity that touches on this; I'll probably post it within a week or so."

http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2008/03/diabetes-and-hunger.html

I hold Dr. Guyenet in very high regard. I have spent hours poring over his site, and have read every post he has written. It is an extraordinary blog and gift he has given freely to anyone who will but read it.

The point here is that all things change. Sometimes they don't seem to change in quite the best way.

We now have a situation where not only Dr. Guyenet and Gary Taubes are thrown into "camps" but other relationships in the blogsphere have also become quite disrupted. Lines have been drawn. Strong alliances which were quite clear to readers exist no more, and new and sometimes very interesting alliances have been formed.. And around all of this is pressure, pressure, pressure on these bloggers by the flame fanning drama stimmers.

When you walk into the paleosphre right now, what you are walking into is actually a sort of artifically created situation which really isn't helpful to anyone. It's about hurt feelings, pride, and self defense and the ongoing fanning flames, all, regretably, played out in a very public way. In reality, imho, all of this has little to do with the content of Stephan Guyenet's work or Gary Taubes or anyone elses. On the surface it's played out that way....

We like here to do the: We are very rational and logical people routine...but the fact is, is this is all about E_M_O_T_I_O_N...F_E_E_L_I_N_G_S.

And to boot, it's decidedly un-paleo behavior that no hunter-gatherer tribe would have engaged in. Survival was paramount and therefore the guiding light of INTERDEPENDENCE reigned and still reigns in very old indigenous cultures I've spent time with.

Old hunter-gatherer cultures had gatherings and rituals with which to "flex" their emotions. One of these I am very familiar with is the Inupiaq's "Kivgiq" or "The Messenger Feast." This entails basically non-top drumming, dancing,laughing, hugging, eating and small gift-giving for about 5 days straight and traditionally, men who ran village to village as messengers ferrying gifts.

Personally, what I see we have to offer is alot of PART-truths. We have some information and we lack alot of other information. It sounds like you are making your way. What PART-truth works for you is likely to be dependent on what you come to ancestral health needing or wanting to change. Your PART-truth, imho, will be very different if you arrive here signficantly overweight or obese. If your goal is a small to moderate weight loss, and perhaps other health issues (or not) I would point you in the direction of Paul Jaminet, whereas, with really significant weight to be lost, I'd point you to Taubes and perhaps Cate Shanahan's site as well as Mark Sisson's, which forever manages to take a long and broad view and offers ALOT of info.

And I'd tell you no matter what, to read Stephan Guyenet's site, not just all the current food reward theory stuff, but so much that is invaluable that long preceeded FRT.

And there are many, many variations on the themes above. Not everyone comes to paleo for weight loss!!!!!

There are more than a few figurative "potholes" to be fallen in, in paleo land these days. You look to be a smart guy. Read, take what works for you and leave the rest. It'll all shake out in time. There are alot of part-truths to be greatly expanded upon.In a mere five years we are likely to laugh heartily about some of today's dearly held PART-truths and have greatly expanded on others, with a whole new picture to see.

Welcome!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:36 PM

Kudos, Mem! - from another "ageist." You're a master of astute observation and your time on earth will be beneficial to others.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:17 PM

"It'll all shake out in time." Yep. As interesting as mechanisms are, in real life, solutions rule. If low-reward's working for ya, work it. If starches are working for ya, starch it up. Just keep yer tuber-lovin' paws off my ribeye.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:58 PM

Mem, brilliant response. However, it saddens me that you didn't take time to call someone a liar, a knave, a fool, a moron, an imbecile, or worse, a vegan. You appear in fact to be well mannered and respectful. Urge you to practice scoring points by taking cheap shots on a wild and indiscriminate basis. Or, on a narrow and focused basis, if you prefer. Just get ruder, dude. (Seriously, your response is a model for aspiring grownups such as myself.)

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 01, 2011
at 02:59 AM

@TeaElf, edrice, Arvind and TheLoon - Thanks and thanks for reading. Being succinct is quite obviously NOT a strength of mine!

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on November 30, 2011
at 06:27 AM

Awesome answer, Mem!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on November 30, 2011
at 02:36 PM

Great answer mem!!!!

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 30, 2011
at 03:51 PM

+whatever, best answer ever, even tho I am not sure you answered it

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 01, 2011
at 03:04 AM

@Rose: <3 to you. And today, or as of last night, I have run across two terms I am adopting, while throwing out "metabolically deranged" which has become quite the whipping post in these parts...They are: carbohydrate intolerant and obligate low carber. I ran across both on Judy Tsafrir MD's blog. And of course, you comment is so totally on spot!

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:08 PM

I hope he can maintain.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 01, 2011
at 02:58 AM

@Dorado Galore: Ah, it is good that none of us can see each other's thoughts, sometimes...;)

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:16 PM

(con't) @ Sue: The proof is in the pudding. The real test with Jay begins NOW. 1-2-3- and 5 years will tell the tale, and that, of course, is IF he perseveres with PHD.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 03, 2011
at 05:21 AM

@Sue: You and me both. But the odds are extraordinarily high for any big losers, as they are for *all* losers, that loss will not be maintained. Research tells us by year 1 post, a good 30% or mopre is typically regained and this progesses. This is true for about 97%. The fact is that for the vast majority, loss is hard work, but maintenance is herculean work that most fail.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:14 AM

Check out latest PHD post - Jay Wright went from 250 to 170 in 7 months on perfect health diet http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=5181

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on December 02, 2011
at 04:14 PM

@Sue. Thanks. I am a consistent reader of Paul's and greatly respect his work. You will not that Jay has lost large amounts of weight many times. I applaud this current loss. What I will be most interested to see is Jay's ability to maintain - meaning, where he is in 3 years and 5 years. I'm very interested in this case in Paul's commentary re: setpoint change. And I look at obesity as highly heterogeneous. I love Paul's diet and feel it can work for many, many people and might be optimum for many. I have recommended his book to tons of folks and will continue to do so.

11
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:27 PM

Before others get into the details, let me offer that many of the "gurus" are pretty compatible on the big-picture items: eat whole foods, avoid processed foods, etc. If you condense each philosophy/manifesto to half a page or less they all sound pretty much alike.

I think many of the differences reside in what causes/drives obesity or how brain/body signals interact, etc.

7
7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:51 PM

Many see Taubes contribution to Paleo is his work vindicating saturated fat. He also kind of vindicated PUFA???s too while he was at it, and he says he eats low GI bread, so not really much in the Paleo camp.

His whole insulin hypothesis should have never been put to paper. It does not address all the Asians that eat white rice, so he should have come up with a better hypothesis initially. Especially after he spent a big part of GCBC showing how an entire class of macronutrients were unfairly demonized, then in the next part of GCBC he turns around and does the exact same thing himself to a different macronutrient. (Can you imagine how he would castigate idiot scientists for just ignoring half the world's population just so they could demonize a macronutrient?)

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 01:04 AM

Rose, I think he has used various arguments at various times (the one you mention is similar to his "all diets are low carb diets" line.) I think he would have come up with something much more interesting had he thought it through in the beginning before writing his book. The big question is “What is different about Western diet and lifestyle?” Sugar and flour are strongly correlated, but maybe there is more to it (some have even used this same correlation to say that whole grains are the answer.) I think if he had really explored the question more he would be much more in the Ancestral camp.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:50 AM

My recollection is that he said it's because those who eat rice regularly are generally eating low-calorie diets, and even if the % of carbohydrate is highish, the absolute amount is still relatively low -- lower than the amount eaten by cultures that have received the blessings of cheap flour and sugar. I could be wrong; I'm not home and can't search my books/files.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:48 PM

Also, if the Insulin Theory was correct, it would seem that eating white rice would have spurred even more eating of white rice. If their total number of carbs were low, why did they not increase it? Affluent places like Japan had no economic constraints on the amount of carbs or calories consumed, but yet they did not overeat carbs or calories. The Insulin Theory does not explain why there was no obesity epidemic in Japan until the greater adoption of Western diet and lifestyle. There was something about Western diet and lifestyle, and it was not carbs. He should have explored this initially.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 10:49 AM

@edrice: And drink a lot of beer, and take naps after they stuff their faces silly. Your point?

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:20 AM

You know, I've heard the whole asian+rice point brought up before, and I thought Taubes had an answer for it. I can't remember what that answer was, though! I'm going to go look for it.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:06 PM

The following link has Taubes' answer to the Asian question - 1)eating mainly brown rice instead of white and 2) no sugar (those familiar with Japan have said that these are both false) - http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jan/04/what-does-food-have-do-being-fat/ (Taubes' 5th comment from bottom, or search for "Japan".)

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:41 AM

At one point he said it was because Asians really eat brown rice instead of white rice. Then later he said it was because they don't eat as much sugar (wouldn't that be the Sugar Theory of Obesity then?) It is clear from his answers though that he hadn't thought about it when he first developed his hypothesis. If he had, he would have went with a different hypothesis from the get go. He should have used that part of the book to look at what is different about Western lifestyle and diet instead of roping himself in to the crayon science of Insulin Theory. Then he would have been "Ancestral".

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Hmmm, come to think of it, Sumo wrestlers eat about 10 bowls of rice at a sitting.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 06:13 PM

But Rose, re: *My recollection is that he said it's because those who eat rice regularly are generally eating low-calorie diets* ... ummm, so they don't eat a lot and don't get obese. This is that "old paradigm" right?

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 30, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Exactly edrice, there were plenty of refined carbohydrates (white rice) available, but obesity mainly only affected the people that were force-feeding themselves huge quantities of calories. The insulin and abundant refined carbs did not cause increased eating in the general population. Taubes should have looked at this and came up with better answers before writing his book instead of fumbling for explanations still years later.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 13, 2012
at 07:29 PM

I have read that Asians have bigger pancreases, which helps them utilize rice better. Anyone heard that/have an opinion?

6
93ae9f2d376e5426e891a9b58d8302fa

(2936)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:36 PM

Taubes is a genius at analyzing experiments to see if they conform to scientific method. That's all he does and he does it well. In the case at hand, he correctly deduced that the dietician community if full of very questionable experimenters, lots of leaping to conclusions, lots of confusion amidst statistical noise, etc. I think he came to the right conclusions in a narrow sense, and he doesn't want to jump into the wider fray. He'll just hold his ground, defend his position, and if that means hurting a few feelings now and then, it's okay, he'll win in the end.

5
24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 06:03 PM

Where to start! Well

  1. He doesn't research comprehensively, or even extensively, though he gives the impression of doing so. Published in 2007, GCBC contained very few references dated even a decade earlier. His major source of his whole Adiposity 101 is a 1965 textbook. Quantity of references does not trump quality.

  2. He doesn't do, as he claims in GCBC, and follow the research forward in time to see if anything has changed.

  3. He violates the basic rule of formulating a scientific hypothesis and research. Observe ??? hypothesize ??? test. What Gary did was hypothesize ??? cherry pick in support ??? tell the world his alternative should be the "null" hypothesis requiring massive evidence to discard.

  4. Despite being provided with said massive evidence, not to mention that observations would preclude even formulating such a hypothesis in the first place, Taubes continues to promulgate the same flawed science.

  5. He misrepresents the science. The only other excuse is that he really doesn't understand it well enough to properly interpret it.

  6. He thinks he's smarter than all those idiot scientists who just won't listen to him. This wouldn't be something that's wrong with him, I suppose, were it true.

  7. He never addresses the specific criticisms of his science. Never. It's always his critics who are attacking poor Gary, who supposedly have nothing of merit to add, etc.etc. His loyal following eats it up, so I can't blame him in a way. But if facts were on his side he could be the "bigger person" in the face of criticism and answer the criticism.

  8. He doesn't correct in print that which was factually wrong. Yes, I'm talking his whole G3P debacle and the "you can't store fat without carbs" magic that some still claim. A good scientist (or investigative scientific journalist) explains where they went wrong and why -- e.g. this is what I thought based on these studies, but I've changed my mind on the basis of new evidence. Instead he just drops the subject. There's no doubt he could have dumbed down the G3P theory in WWGF if he hadn't been called on the carpet in Q&A sessions and exposed for misrepresenting references by some bunny-eared biotch.

As to his hypothesis? I think it's been thoroughly dismantled by too many to count. Currently, by he, himself. In the words of Kurt Harris {paraphrase}, 'the Carb-Insulin hypothesis can't be rescued on the backs of refined carbs and fructose'. He's trying, but every time he does, he seems to shoot himself in the foot.

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 01, 2011
at 03:25 AM

CarbInsane, you sound like a politician like Barney Frank trying to shout down an idea that you absolutely "know" is wrong for the country. I ask you, what unflawed science and theory do you hold that you apply to your own personal weightiness that explains all?

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:04 AM

Evelyn, well said.

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 30, 2011
at 07:00 PM

That's quite a list! Not sure what to make of it without specific examples, but consider my skepticism increased.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 30, 2011
at 07:50 PM

Hi Charlie, As Beth linked above, I've done a fair amount of Taubes debunking on my blog. Many would say it's how I made my name, which is probably true, but I do blog on a lot of other topics. (It just happens that my critics tend to read those posts they are most critical of more often. Go figure!) I have a search on the right sidebar on the blog. The GT fact check labels have a lot of hits, but searching on Frayn, "Reference Check", McGarry, etc. may be a better place to start. Also a summary of where he falls short here: http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2011/01/stick-toothpick-in-it

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 30, 2011
at 07:00 PM

skepticism of taubes, that is

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 10:46 AM

Dextery, I've asked before, and I'll ask again. It's Evelyn or CarbSane please. The name you use is a personal attack.

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 01, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Ok Evelyn, What unflawed science and theory do you hold that you apply to your own personal weightiness that explains all?...I ask again.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 01, 2011
at 06:26 PM

The laws of thermodynamics hold rather well. Eating less and/or moving more works every time its tried. VLC worked for the EL part for a nice long ride, but I've plateaued out with that. My "weightiness" as you call it is irrelevant to the science. Or do you think just because someone loses weight eating a particular way verifies the theory of the diet? I knew several people who lost weight on the Beverly Hills Diet ... doesn't make Mazel's whacked pseudo/junk science any more credible.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 02, 2011
at 10:42 AM

I'm not here to hack my weight Dextery, sorry if that disappoints you. But as to your last question, the laws of thermo DO hold rather well in my and all situations. This question asked what was wrong with Taubes' theories. I answered.

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 01, 2011
at 03:16 AM

CarbInsane, you sound like a politician like Barney Frank trying to shout down an idea that you absolutely "know" is wrong for the country. I ask you, what theory do you hold that you apply to your own weightiness that explains all?

3a567c1637db69f1455ce35e78201a2c

(1054)

on December 02, 2011
at 05:09 AM

Why do you think you have plateaued out. What science do you apply to your stall? Is the science irrelevant to your personal situation? Why does not the thermodynamics law hold rather well in your situation?

5
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:37 PM

Similar things have been said about Wheat Belly. Most people here don't disagree with the idea that wheat should be avoided, they just don't think the author gave a scientifically sound rationale. The "problem" with Taubes is similar. His dietary advice is similar to all the other members of the paleo priesthood, but some argue his underlying theory is unsound.

That's why it's so important to try the diet out for yourself and see what works for you and what doesn't. There is a lot of conflicting science about what causes obesity, and it is great that there are some sharp minds searching for answers. But for most people the most important thing is to find a healthy diet that reduces their weight (if necessary) or keeps it stable in the first place. All of the authors you mentioned will get you started on the right track. Then it is up to you to experiment until you find exactly what works best for you.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 30, 2011
at 12:18 AM

Charlie, scroll to the bottom of this -- http://gettingstronger.org/2011/11/obesity-starts-in-the-brain-2/ -- to see a pretty good summary of what seems unsound to some folks re Taubes' theory.

Ded84388fef90e4209cf9520d1456a95

(530)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Thanks, Kewpie. But what about Taubes' theory seems unsound to you? If anything, it seems that Taubes could be looked at as providing the modern scientific proof that the underlying assumptions of paleo is correct, that assumption being that we are best adapted to eating what our ancestors ate. Taubes may not be out to prove that particular point, but doesn't his contribution to the discussion weigh mostly on the side of paleo?

94a4a87e3d2e1e9160b6ed77678b4bea

(1311)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:54 PM

True - get you started on the right track. I have loved Taube's writing style the best of all the diet-science books I have read and he definately left me on the hunt for more reading material and that's what led me to Paleohacks! Yay!

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 30, 2011
at 02:17 AM

Charlie, I specifically phrased it in such a way as to not express a personal opinion one way or the other. I understand the controversy, but I don't know enough about the science to know exactly who is right. Taube's book Why We Get Fat was the book that first convinced me my vegetarian-ish diet might not be the best option and opened my mind to the paleo books I read after, so I am glad I read his book. I wasn't so much interested in his insulin theory as I was in his debunking of the lipid hypothesis, which is not particularly controversial--at least not in the paleo community.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 30, 2011
at 12:35 AM

What CharlieMezak said! The perfect is the enemy of the good! A lot of strict constructionsistS are not getting it. They want their cult to prevail or scorched earth.

2
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 30, 2011
at 03:10 PM

Oh I can't stand it any longer. Here are two things Taubes gets wrong:

  1. By cherry picking, he makes the explorers the authors of poor native diets. Maybe in some instances yes. But consider that corn, potatoes and cacao were not eaten in Europe before 1500. Columbus' mission was not to turn natives into wheat farmers. The natives were gorging on bad calories for millennia before any explorers.

  2. Taubes is dismissive of exercise. What part of hunt-and-gather is he missing? This is of first importance, and slighting it makes him anti-paleo IMO.

Feel free to vote me down. I'm hoping for a PR.

1
8c509aac21bdb54b3ca91de2da994b9b

on November 30, 2011
at 04:52 PM

An article by Taubes from 4/2011, discussing his belief that sugar is toxic... just wanted to post this in case anyone wanted to read it. sharing time... :)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all%3Fsrc%3Dtp&smid=fb-share

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