Science Confirms It: Carbs DON’T Make You Fat

Gary Taubes full of it- CARBS DONT MAKE YOU FAT

[Last updated 29th September, 2017]

Cutting carbs is the most important change for weight loss.

At least, that’s the idea sold by Gary Taubes, Dr. David Ludwig and other low carb enthusiasts.

They believe carbohydrate drives obesity because it raises the hormone insulin. Insulin is said to block the release of fat and also drive additional fat storage.

carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis of obesity (CIHO)

However, nutrition research continually shows that carbs alone DON’T make you fat. The latest clinical trial is no exception.

You probably already see my stance on this. But let’s put our personal food ideologies aside for a moment to honestly consider the weight of evidence available.

If you prefer to watch:

Cutting Carbs Does Not Increase Metabolism or Fat Loss

Gary Taubes

Journalist, Gary Taubes

If raised insulin drives weight gain, then conversely, reduced insulin (from cutting carbs) should be therapeutic.

In other words, we’d expect an extremely low carb diet to cause more fat loss than a typical Western diet.

The latest trial to compare these two eating patterns – ironically funded by Taubes’ own NuSI organisation – indicates this is not true.

Study Design

This was a tightly-controlled, metabolic ward trial, which means no cheating on the diet.

For 4 consecutive weeks, 16 overweight or obese men were fed a standard American diet, quite high in carbs (50% Carbohydrate, 15 % Protein, 35% Fat).

According to the sample menu published, it included loads of refined carbs including lemonade, granola bars, pretzel sticks and sandwich bread.

Participants were then immediately switched to a very low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (5% Carbohydrate, 15% Protein, 80% Fat) for another 4 weeks (1).

baseline vs 4 weeks kevin hall low carb study

Both the high carb diet and the ketogenic diet were equal in calories and protein, and they had no access to any outside foods for the entire 8 week period. Participants also rode an exercise bike for 30 minutes daily.

low carb kevin hall menu

Example of daily menu. Source: Vox

Changes in energy expenditure, body composition and relevant blood markers were recorded each day using the gold-standard methods where possible.

Results

After the first 4 weeks on the high carb diet, participants lost 1.1 lbs  (0.5 kgs) of body fat on average.

Switching to the low carb diet for the remaining 4 weeks led to a dip in insulin levels by almost half. However, once again participants lost just 1.1 lbs of body fat.

Change in carb intake on fat mass Hall study Guyenet

Source: Stephan Guyenet

So there was no difference between eating patterns on fat loss despite the difference in insulin, effectively disproving the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis.

Switching to the low carb diet did cause an initial sharp decrease in total weight loss, but this was due to the drop in water weight that accompanies carb restriction (2).

 

low carb no metabolic advantage over high carb for fat loss

Source: Smart Training & Flexible Dieting

To be fair, the low carb diet did increase metabolic rate by 57 calories per day on average. This outcome was actually the main aim of the study. 

However, this number started much stronger before plummeting down to about 40 calories per day, which is clinically insignificant. In fact, the metabolic advantage all but disappears after several weeks.

Some will say that 40 calories x 365 days per year = 14,600 calories per year. This equals 4.1 lbs (2 kgs) of weight loss in a year, assuming a 3,500 calorie deficit equals 1 lb of fat.

But it doesn’t actually work like that. A daily deficit of 40 calories is likely to equal only 4 lbs of weight loss after 2-3 years, if you don’t cheat.

Is that worth cutting your diet to strictly 5% carbs?

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Summary: A well-designed clinical trial, funded by low carb advocates, found a low carb ketogenic diet was not beneficial for fat loss or metabolic rate. The high carb diet was just as effective – if not better – for body fat loss, despite the higher insulin levels.

Other Trials Show No Advantage From Cutting Carbs

This was not the first well-controlled clinical trial to show cutting carbs has no advantage for fat loss.

In fact, it was shown over a decade ago.

In a 6-week trial of 20 subjects randomly assigned to follow either a ketogenic diet (5% carbs) or a moderate carb diet (40% carbs), there was no difference in average weight loss, fat loss or insulin changes. All food and beverages were provided to participants (3).

keto vs carbs for fat loss

Average change in body mass and fat mass in ketogenic diet (▪) and nonketogenic (○) diet groups during the 6-wk feeding trial and at the week 10 follow-up.

If anything, strictly cutting carbs leads to less fat loss as time goes on. Subjects also reported the ketogenic diet was worse for feelings of energy and overall mood.

There was also a smaller and slightly different version of the above NuSI study, also run by Dr. Kevin Hall.

His team found a reduced carb diet (29% carbs) resulted in less fat loss than a reduced fat diet (7.7% fat). At the time, their computer model even predicted the trend seen in the latest study (4):

model prediction of low carb vs low fat diet

Change in fat mass of reduced fat vs reduced carb. Source: Examine.com

Although the reduced carb diet (29% carbs) was not quite “low carb”, it still lowered insulin levels considerably. Despite this change there was no fat loss advantage.

Summary: Several other well-controlled trials looking at the fat loss effects of reduced carb and very low carb ketogenic diets indicate they are not beneficial for long-term fat loss.

Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight?

Do carbs make you gain weightIt’s evident that restricting carbs is unnecessary to lose weight… But what about gaining weight?

Is overeating carbs worse than overeating fat, as per carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis?

This has also been well-studied, and clinical trials show this is not the case, per unit calorie.

In a study of 16 men (9 lean and 7 obese), subjects were fed a strict diet providing 150% of caloric requirements (designed for weight gain). The additional 50% of calories came from either carbohydrate or fat for 14 days at a time. Subjects completed both diets in a crossover design.

Researchers found that both carbohydrate and fat overfeeding caused almost identical increases in body weight, fat mass, and lean mass (5).

 

Carbs do not make you fat

These increases did not differ between the lean and obese subjects either.

 

Fat gain during carb and fat overfeeding

Source: Stephan Guyenet

Another similar overfeeding study of 20 lean men also found no differences in the increase of total weight or fat mass gained after 21 days (6).

It appears when calories are matched, there’s no difference in fat gain between overeating carbs or fat.

What About When We Don’t Overeat?

Do carbs influence body fat in individuals who are not overeating calories?

Apparently not.

In a series of tightly controlled clinical studies, 15 subjects were fed a diet that shifted greatly in the amount of carbs or fat it contained over a 13-week period. The calorie amount was for weight maintenance (no gain or loss), and was kept the same regardless of the carbohydrate-to fat ratio (7, 8).

This is how one subject’s weight tracked throughout the study. The first 38 days were high carb (75% carbs), the remaining were low carb (15% carbs).

High fat vs high carb

The researchers concluded, “The carbohydrate-to fat ratio could vary widely with little or no alteration in the energy requirement for weight maintenance.”

Therefore, if you aren’t consuming excess calories, weight stays the same regardless of the amount of carbs you enjoy.

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Summary: Clinical studies show that eating carbs instead of fat makes no difference to body fat, as long as total calories remains the same. This holds true whether we overeat calories or not.

Indigenous And Pre-Industrialised Populations Thrived On Carbs

Tarahumara Indians ate high carb

Tarahumara Indians (source: Wikipedia)

Still  not convinced that carbs are not uniquely fattening?

Even if we ignore the clinical studies (the most powerful evidence available), the carbohydrate-insulin theory doesn’t fit the historical and observational evidence.

Indigenous groups like the Tarahumara Indians, Kitavans and Massas all thrived on high carb diets for hundreds of years. Obesity was rare (if not non-existent) in all of these indigenous groups (9, 10, 11).

For example, Kitavans had virtually no overweight people – and very low insulin levels – despite a diet that was 70% carbs (12).

kitavans high carb healthy weight

Kitavans (source: Staffanlindeberg.com)

The same was observed for pre-industrialized Asian populations up until the 20th century, living on staple foods like rice, noodles, potatoes and fruit (13, 14).

Even by the 1990’s, 50-60% of calories eaten in Japan and China still came from carbs. This was more than the US or UK, yet obesity rates were much lower (15).

If carbs themselves are fattening, these populations would not have had lean bodies and good health overall, regardless of how active they were.

Taubes’ counter argument is that obesity was not uncommon in many native populations from the 1950’s onward. However, by this time many developing nations and Indigenous groups – such as the Pima Indians – already had access to refined, affordable (often subsidised) Western food.

Summary: There are numerous historical examples of populations that remained slim and healthy eating high carb diets. This indicates carbs themselves are not fattening. Indigenous groups only became obese after the introduction of Western junk food.

Those Who Live Longest Eat A Lot of Carbs

There are still modern day humans thriving on high carb diets too.

In fact, many of them have the lowest rates of metabolic disease and obesity, and live longer than anyone else. The regions where they live – known as Blue Zones – give us valuable insights into the lifetime effects of certain eating patterns.

 

Blue zones eat lots of carbs

The Japanese island of Okinawa has the greatest proportion of centenarians (people over 100 years old) in the world.

Their diet has always been carb-dense; high in sweet potatoes, legumes and rice to a lesser extent. In fact, a massive 85% of an Okinawan’s caloric intake came from carbs prior to the 1950’s. Sweet potatoes alone accounted for 69% (16).

More than 65 years later and so many of them are still alive and well.

okinawa longevity study

Source: Okinawa Centenarian Study

Those from the Greek Island of Icaria also live long and healthy lives, despite a diet high in bread, potatoes and legumes.

Almost 1 in 3 inhabitants lives to be 90 years old, which is 2.5 times the rate of Americans (17).

ikarian man

Source: The NY Times 

Other Blue Zone regions share similar dietary traits to the Okinawans and Icarians, so it’s not just a freak coincidence.

Granted their active lifestyles is a factor to their longevity, but a high carbohydrate diet does not cause them to get fat or sick.

Summary: The world’s longest living populations have diets rich in carbohydrate foods.

But A Low Carb Diet Works For Me?

Low carb worksStudies show low carb diets can be an effective strategy for weight loss.

Especially if you previously struggled following a low fat diet.

But it’s not because carbs alone made you gain fat. Nor is it because cutting carbs alone made you lose fat.

A reduction in carbs automatically means an increase in protein and/or fat. It’s this entire nutrient ratio shift – coupled with an increase in whole (unrefined) foods – that’s responsible for the positive outcome.

Studies show a diet higher in protein keeps you feeling full and tends to decrease overall calorie intake, at least in the short term (18, 19, 20).

A diet lower in refined carbohydrate and fat – typically found together in junk food – also favours a reduction in calorie intake. This is because of how calorie-dense and highly palatable junk foods is.

Then there’s also the loss of water that accompanies carb reduction. Alongside fat loss, this makes the bathroom scales shift favourably, and quickly (2).

The combination of these factors is why a low carb diet so often leads to weight loss. Replacing refined carbs with protein (and possibly fat) can help to consistently curb your appetite and reduce total caloric intake, without relying on willpower.

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Summary: Many are successful on a low carb diet because it automatically higher in protein, which helps to curb appetite. They also typically eliminate all junk foods, which is where our excess calories come from.

No, Carbs Don’t Make You Fat

The science is in.

Carbs are no worse for your waistline than any other nutrient.

Studies show that when low carb and high carb diets are matched for calories, there is zero difference to body fat change. Regardless if your total caloric intake is excessive or not.

This makes sense considering all the past and present populations that thrive on high carb eating patterns.

That’s not to say carb-laden junk foods and soft drinks are off the hook. These products are low in nutrients and do not make you feel full or satisfied. They are undoubtedly the biggest contributors to excess calories, and therefore one of the main drivers of obesity and related health problems.

But it’s because of junk food as a whole – the total calories – and not just the carbs.

If you enjoy a low carb eating pattern and it’s improved your health then there’s no reason to stop. It may even be superior to low-fat for managing diabetes.

Just know that cutting carbs is definitely not the only way to be healthy or lose weight…

So stop telling people it is.

Studies continually show that carbs don't make you fat. Let’s put our personal food ideologies aside to take an honest look at the evidence. Learn more here: https://www.dietvsdisease.org/do-carbs-make-you-fat/

Comments

  1. Hiya, what about those that are insulin resistant? Does this still hold true?

    • There certainly appears to be a health advantage for those with insulin resistance to reduce carbs. But not to do with weight.

      • It’s actually quite simple look back at video of the fifties and sixties it’s well-documented people ate three times a day and went to bed there was no snacking all these granola bars all these things that these corporations push on us making us believe we need to snack all day they didn’t do that look at the word breakfast break the fast it goes exactly into what I’ve been researching intermittent fasting basically eat what you want in an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours that does not mean drunk food I simply mean carbs fat whatever it really works I’ve lost 20 pounds over 4 months and gained muscle no crazy snacking in between nothing

    • Shawn Eagle says:

      Nope, It’s not about cutting carbs. It’s about making better choices, controlling portions sizes, eating more frequently, and also learning to eat for what you’re about to do/ It’ called zig-zagging. I specialize in diabetes, cholesterol and heart disease and all my clients make and female do great on a high0carb eating plan. The only time someone should go low or no carb is for special medical conditions like IBS, Candida, epilepsy seizures, etc. But for weight loss management and diabetes high-carb is fine.

      • Shawn Eagle says:

        oh and exercising more too.

      • T1 Diabetic says:

        As a Type 1 Diabetic for my entire life (29 years) I find it hard to believe that all your patients do well on a high carbohydrate diet. Low to moderate maybe. Talk about blood sugar fluctuation. I’m simply not into checking my sugar 20 times a day and dealing with the blood sugar roller coaster. The human body does not need the amount of carbs we have been conditioned to believe we need to survive. I am sure this works for some but to say it works for all is having a narrow viewpoint. I have been Keto for a bit now and my blood sugars are better than they have ever been, I take very little insulin overall, my energy levels are high and I love what I eat.

      • High carb for diabetes lol. Dumbass.

  2. Ann Jeffrey says:

    The study was conducted on men, what about women, are they metabolically different to men? I know I do better with weight loss if I follow a reduced carb, higher good fats and protein with every meal and no snacks.

    • I suspect there is a difference bwteen genders, although how great that is in the grand scheme is unknown. Absolutely you can do well on reduced carb, because it is likely helping you to eat less calories overall

    • It has been proven in many studies that cutting carbs will enhance fat loss a lot better than a low fat diet will. It is not understood why this happens, but in most studies the low carb patients are able to cut their total calories without trying, not in every case but certainly in a majority of cases. This maybe because the fact that they are eating adequate protein and fat, which curbs the persons apatite, where as, in so many cases on a low fat diet people are continually hungry. But good on Taubes for carrying out a strictly controlled procedure, even if his pet theories fail.

  3. Steve S. says:

    Read “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz. Read Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About ItDec by Gary Taubes. Watch The Aetiology of Obesity on youtube.com. Watch anything by Dr. Jason Fung on youtube.com. Watch sugar, the bitter truth on youtube.com. Watch My Big Fat diet on youtube.com. Rent Fed Up.
    Join Ketogenic Diet Open Discussion on facebook. with 9k members who will tell you this is not a fad diet, or even a diet. It is a way of eating. It is a way of reducing cancer, reducing cardiac disease, reducing diabetes that just so happens to help you lose weight. Everything in this article is the same regurgitated tripe that has been forced on us passing for science since the 1970s while obesity, diabetes, and cardiac disease has increased. Red meat consumption is down. Gym memberships and marathons are up. Yet we are unhealthier than ever. What has changed? We replaced saturated fat with carbohydrates and vegetable oils. Don’t believe me. Those books debunk the so call low fat high carb studies and will show trials that demonstrate the benefits of fat. More and more proof is coming out and it is getting harder and harder to hide the truth. Don’t believe me, read and open you mind and your eyes.

    • Hi Steve your comment did not address or challenge anything I said in the article

      • Veronica Mitchell says:

        Probably because the science behind all the claims “on Youtube” videos are weak. Nice explanation why carbs are not the enemy, but processed, junk food,etc.

        • Author33 says:

          there are many doctors that have youtube channels and his facts are very strong. However, it is proven you can have a high carb diet, with low fat and the right amount of protein (vegetarian, etc.) and you can lose weight this way… For a high fat very low carb (right amount of protein) diet… the results are faster. but lets face it not everyone wants to eat meat. the idea’s supporting this american standard diet of moderately equal parts fat/carbs…is totally skewed from the scientific facts, because they support man made foods like bread and cereal, sugars, and industrial foods. this standard diet also suggest that our food pyramid is healthy with grains in the largest portion… and THAT, my fellow american, is a BOLD FACE LIE. You are right, Carbs are not the enemy, Bread, and deceitful dietitians are. do more research! people are still hiding the facts between the lines… https://draxe.com/nutrition-lies/

      • Joe you can say anything you like in your article, it doesn’t change the fact that we are more unhealthy today than we ever were before we started the low fat craze. More overweight people are getting better health outcomes on a low carb diet than they ever did on a low fat diet, look around the net, you may be able to eat all the carbs you like, but that doesn’t mean it is the only way. even if the experiment shows no difference either way. In all the low carb versus low fat studies, low carb participants have come out with better over all health outcomes, be happy for them. You proudly show your credentials as a dietician, well start looking at things from all prospects, not just from your slanted narrow point of view.

        • Author33 says:

          There is no way this study is 100% accurate to the rules of Keto and only 1lb lost (unless these men were at their peak health). Nevermind this study, what about all the men and women who reversed their diabetes on a low carb/high fat?? and how do all these OTHER studies show people losing tons of weight… but this one just “doesn’t” …it is a fact, the standard food pyramid is a lie. we are not meant to eat grains. before they are milled and cooked grains are toxic. after, they turn to sugar in our body. not to mention ~99% of whole grains are filled with extra sugars and other nonsense… the ~1% of whole grains that are true, still aren’t good for us, but if you don’t have any insulin resistance you can eat them, they certainly will never be “healthy” for the base of our diet. https://draxe.com/nutrition-lies/

      • It has been proven in many studies that cutting carbs will enhance fat loss a lot better than a low fat diet will. It is not understood why this happens, but in most studies the low carb patients are able to cut their total calories without trying, not in every case but certainly in a majority of cases. This maybe because the fact that they are eating adequate protein and fat, which curbs the persons apatite, where as, in so many cases on a low fat diet people are continually hungry. But good on Taubes for carrying out a strictly controlled procedure, even if his pet theories fail.

    • there are also books that tell you about zen of farting
      https://www.amazon.com/The-Zen-Farting-Reepah-Gud/dp/1583940855/ref=cm_lmf_img_1

      or a book on reptile thingies controlling the planet for 1000’s of years
      https://www.amazon.com/Children-Matrix-Interdimensional-Controlled-Years/dp/0953881016/ref=cm_lmf_tit_8

      or flat earth
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flat-Earth-Conspiracy-Eric-Dubay/dp/1312627166

      So based on your type of “evidence” we live on a flat planet controlled by some kind of rnterdimensional beings and that we all have that magical zen thing but are afraid to release it in public

    • I totally agree with you Steve. Ive been clean eating for 8 years (no junk food and few processed foods). I went on a keto diet 4 months ago because it was either that or take diabetic meds. Ive lost 34 pounds without even trying. Ill never go back to eating carbs again.

      • I eat a generally low carbon diet so I’m not arguing with you but the point of the article is that junk food is the enemy and not carbs. It’s refined carbs that need to be watched out for, NOT the carbs in healthy, whole foods which is what I presume you mean when you say, “clean eating.” The only reason I eat less carbs is because I eat things like sweet potatoes and wholegrains instead of sugary processed products which OF COURSE will make you weigh less.

    • Shawn Eagle says:

      Um, I hate to break it to you but the author of that book and everyone you mentioned aren’t qualified or educated in nutritional sciences. They are complete frauds and fakes selling the fad diets to people who don’t know any better.
      ATTENTION ALL PEOPLE WHO READ THE ABOVE COMMENT DO NOT BUY THOSE BOOKS AND DO NOT TRUST ANY ONE OF THE NAMES MENTIONED THEY ARE NOT EDUCATED IN NUTRITIONAL SCIENCES.
      Aso just because you lose weight it does NOT mean it’s healthy! When you cut carbs you burn muscle tissue and you also weaken the heart! Ketogenic diet is foolish!

    • But my husband had a heart attack when he went on the atkins diet. We changed from his high fat, high protein diet to whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, dairy whole foods, and his health is returned as well as his heart function. That’s a fact that is hard to get past for all these people touting ketogenic. It weakens the heart muscle and inceases atherosclerosis.

      • Debra- But I’ve heard of the opposite happening! I know of quite a few people who had heart attacks and heart problems when they ate whole grains and high carb diets, and who reversed their heart problems and had better blood work after going high fat, low carb. I’m not trying to deny your husband’s experience; I’m sure it’s personal. Even Gary Taubes admits that there is a small percentage of the population who tend to do better with lower fat and higher carb. But it’s not a “given” that people on low carb and Atkins-type diets will get heart problems!

      • DBHAWTHORNE says:

        Debra….Unless your husband was practicing the Atkins diet for a decade or more I think we can safely assume he was a heart attack waiting to happen well before he went on the diet.

  4. Healthier says:

    Wow, what a pile of lies. No one claims that less carbs with equal calories can make you lose weight. The entire point is that eating less carbs makes you eat less calories.

    • No that is not the entire point of the carb-insulin hypothesis. They state carbs are uniquely fattening through a mechanism related to insulin and fat storage. That’s the part that is untrue, because high carb diets calorie-matched do not cause more weight gain

      • Paul Schultz says:

        In the n=1 experiment I did on myself, I found what I think are typical results. I did quality carb refeeds (100g oatmeal, millet, amaranth, etc.) in the morning after long runs (greater than 10 miles) twice per week and ate low carb the rest of the time- no junk in my diet (no processed foods). Then I shifted to low carb / high fat all the time (less than 25g carb per day with lots of veg). I ate the same number of calories on both ways of eating- I use a food scale and am meticulous. The hunger I experienced when doing carb refeeds could be ravenous (“runger”). Even though my intent was strict calorie control to support training but not be in a caloric surplus/deficit, I’d still reach for the cookies and cheat (sometimes five or six- we’re talking big supermarket cookies). I’d hate my lack of willpower. On LCHF I don’t have the same depth of hunger cravings, and when I do crave a little more, an ounce of walnuts or almonds take care of it. It is so easy to walk by the cookies these days because they have simply lost their appeal. When dieting comes down to an issue of willpower, it will fail. And my weight has actually dropped to numbers I haven’t seen in a decade or more, but my running performance (same training volume), lifting preformance (same workouts), and bloodwork (“textbook” good cholesterol per my doc) haven’t suffered. I don’t care what the studies show.

      • Meerkat Mac says:

        You’re using faulty logic. If you consume too few calories you will probably lose some weight, no matter what food types you eat. If you eat too many calories you will probably gain weight, again no matter what food types you eat. The point of low-carb dieting is that the foods you do eat will not be as readily available as energy, so your body will burn more fat instead of whatever sugar carbohydrates you introduce into your blood. That’s science. What you offer as “science” is a convoluted trial involving one group of people doing opposite dieting approaches for 4 weeks each back-to-back, without specifics about total calorie intake, calories expended, or metabolic issues. A 12 week trail of two separate groups plus a control group would have been a more scientific study.

        You also fail to cite any authoritative sources for your claims that carbohydrates are “good” for you and don’t cause weight gain, while there are hundreds of authoritative sources that show solid scientific evidence that they do spike blood sugar and can definitely contribute to weight gain and health issues more so than any other food group. Citing cultures that maintain healthy existences while consuming mainly carbohydrates doesn’t suggest carbohydrates do not contribute to obesity. These cultures may only have access to carbohydrates as a primary food source, and may be uniquely adapted to efficiently process what they eat into the vital energy the need to burn every day. If their caloric intake is no greater than their caloric energy use, then they’d probably not gain much weight. But again, that would be true no matter what they ate.

        Are you secretly working for the junk-food industry?

        • Author33 says:

          that’s not true because people experimented and ate 5,000 calories on ketos and actually lost weight were they gained almost 10lb on a standard diet. they also gained 4lb on a vegan diet…

      • Also, what about that type 1 diabetics, who make little or no insulin, waste away to skeletal and die unless injected with it, and then fatten up when given it, and that type 2 diabetics given insulin gain weight, and doctors freely admit that they will gain weight? Are you denying that increased insulin causes weight gain, or are you denying that increased carbs result in increased insulin production? It seems that both of these things are true. Thus, if protein and fat don’t cause the high releases of insulin that carbs do ……

        I think the problem here is that there is not a sufficient separation between REFINED carbs and NATURAL carbs in these studies. Most natural carbs, with a few exceptions, have enough fiber not to spike insulin, so you can eat a good amount of them, get full, and not spike insulin too badly, or go TOO high carb, though more than on a lchf diet. The studies should focus on diets high in refined carbs versus all other diets. However, those studies won’t get made, because the food industries would never fund them, because the results would be disastrous, and it would probably be considered medically unethical to do an experiment in which you officially target and feed people the “standard American diet” that is true for many Americans, exclusively. I didn’t see any fast food items in the study either, though many of those are quite high carb.

        Did you notice that the carbs in the study Didnt really get into high sugar, which is known to be the main culprit. Dessert was pineapple. How about cake or candy bar? The only sweet thing was a granola bar, which has a good amount of fiber. There was bread, but no soda, chocolate or other candy, cake, doughnuts,etc.

        Let’s see a study on high vs. low sugar, the mother of refined carbs! It just feels to me sometimes like these diet studies are carefully controlled to tiptoe around the real issues, like we need to eat what organic farmers produce rather than what the big sugar and grain foisters foist. And what of the fact that refined carbs make you crave and eat more carbs? I would agree that the study was probably too controlled to be realistic and address the other issue of ability to control portions on high carb when supply is not limited. Seems to me conclusions are thus highly theoretical.

  5. Thank you for the useful analysis, although I believe Taubes’ views on the impact of carbohydrates on obesity are more nuanced than you suggest. It is not surprising to me at all that Taubes’ NuSi (which I support financially) funded this research.

    • I saw Taubes speak in Iceland just this May, and his views really are summed up here, in my opinion.
      When will he publicly address these findings considering they do challenge his own books? Curious about your view on NuSi changing CEO so many times in a short space of time. And Attia’s exit.

  6. As you article points out, the study was ‘strictly’ controlled. The subjects were not able to eat any more food than they were given. In the REAL world however, it is the fact that many people are SO addicted to carbs and sugar that they are unable to ‘strictly’ control their intake.

    Many find that they cannot just restrict themselves to one or two cookies or biscuits, they are compelled to eat the whole packet…!

    For many, in the same way an alcoholic has to completely avoid alcohol, their only option is to completely avoid the carbs. The smallest amount can set them off on the spiral of addiction again. Maybe in some there is actually a link whereby the fermentation of the carbs in the gut is actually producing alcohol……

    Whatever the reason, it is not as straightforward as the article suggests. The metabolically challenged have big issues with carbs and so do the carb-addicted. Suggesting that carbs are harmless – even in their natural forms is not necessarily true. The indigenous cultures quoted (unlike most in the modern World) have not been exposed to fattening antibiotics, metabolic disrupting chemicals and the plethora of nutritionally impotent ‘pseudo-food’ that we are constantly bombarded with. There is no comparison. Eating good, healthy, natural home-grown in good, mineral-rich soil and unmeddled-with and undenatured, unpasteurised, unchemicalised foods from birth creates very different people to those exposed to the nasty Western garbage. Even our so-called ‘natural’ carbs like fruit and vegetables aren’t natural any more…..

    • I agree with Ali!
      I have had Diabetes 2 for 20 years. Following a low GI diet just made me fatter and sicker, with no energy at all. I ate lentils, chickpeas, sweet potatoes – low GI breads – all the healthy low GI stuff to no avail. I was constantly craving sugar. I have found that even one low GI muffin can set me off on a sugar and carb binge that I cannot control. Its as if I have a huge empty hole in my stomach that cannot be satisfied no matter what or how much I eat. I find I’m edgy, cant focus, get distracted easily, cant sleep at night, and constantly crave crave CRAVE something sweet or with carbs.Since I’ve cut out carbs altogether I am calmer, I don’t crave, I am focussed,I have more energy, and I don’t think about food all day. This is definitely like being an alcoholic with similar effects, except I am addicted to carbs.

      • The point was carbs – the nutrient itself – is not what makes you fat. The diet that makes us that way happens to be high in carbs (from junk food), but its the context of the whole diet, not just one nutrient.
        I attempted to make it clear that metabolic issues like type 2 diabetes can be treated very well with low carb diets. I think I linked to my article about low carb and diabetes twice within this article

        • Joe, Ali & Linda have hit the nail on the head. Splitting hairs doesn’t help a carb addict – myself included – control their eating or weight. I’ve experimented with my own body for a number of years now. And that’s the only “trial” I need. I absolutely know now, that eating carbs – no matter how “healthy” the food – sends me into binge eating where NO amount of willpower will control my intake. Whereas following a LCHF diet easily keeps me around 62-63 kgs, without hunger, without the 3:00pm sugar-fix hunt, and with more energy than people half my age. I take no medications, no vitamins. I love to walk, but that’s about my only exercise. Putting it simply – carbs are not my friend. And sadly, I see this pattern again and again in obese people I know. Carbs are not the friend of a vast majority, who do not need to be told the opposite.

          • I’d like to add my name to your list, Trisha. Carbs are not my friend either. I have been LCHF for nearly a year and it is a wonderful way of eating for me. I read Gary Taubes “Why we get fat” last February and the science was undeniable. I began LCHF for a month to see how I felt, the rest is history. It works for me, and it should be an OPTION for everyone to try for themselves. If they don’t like it, they can remain in low fat high carb diet mode and feel hungry, deprived, miserable and depressed (like I was for four decades). Give people the knowledge, let them choose, I guarantee that many will stay with LCHF when they feel the benefits in all areas of their lives.

      • Veronica Mitchell says:

        You may find that it is not just the glycemic index of the carbohydrate that affects your blood glucose. What is more important is the amount of carbohydrates you are eating. So if you eat too much at any one time, the glycemic load would be greater and your blood glucose higher.

    • I addressed that low-carb diets are a good option for weight loss, because they help reduce total calories when they are not controlled by the person themselves.
      Not sure I buy into “fattening antibiotics, metabolic disrupting chemicals”.

    • Ali, I could not have said this better myself. Thank you.

  7. Morgana says:

    Whenever I read about this NUSI study, I think that something must be wrong! I am not diabetic, but I eat a low carb diet due to other health reasons. I did years of low fat-high carb, so I’ve experienced both forms of eating. I can definitely, absolutely say that it’s much easier to lose, and keep weight off, on the low carb diet. I am not overweight, and I exercise constantly (my job requires it), but eating more carbohydrate foods has the tendency to put belly weight on- (which I tried to control by methodically doing sit ups every night, as well as other things…) As soon as I went low carb, I effortlessly lost weight and I don’t even have to think about it. I see many people coming to the conclusion that the low carb diet causes one to spontaneously eat fewer calories, but that is not true of myself. There’s no way possible I could be eating fewer calories than when I ate high carb, considering that fat is higher in calories. On the contrary, I’m sure I’m eating more calories! In fact, my body works exactly like how Gary Taubes describes in his books. One has to remember that in these studies, they post the average outcomes. I’m curious if some of the men in the study had different, individual results. Carbs don’t seem to work the same for every person…..

    • I agree. Based on results from blood tests, my dietitian was able to pinpoint that I was not digesting carbs very well, but I recognize that not everyone is me! We should also consider that people vary genetically and that some groups of people are better able to digest and use certain foods according to their ancestry and geographic location.

    • I agree there may be some differnces (subtle?) between men and women in many aspects, carb metabolism one of them.
      No doubt low-carb can help with metabolic health and weight loss: http://www.dietvsdisease.org/low-carb-diet-diabetes/

      Not the only way though, many people successful on low fat also.

      Unsure if you would be eating more calories, but of course not possible for me to comment on. Perhaps you are burning more through metabolism and physical activity?

      • So, what’s the real deal then? If both ( LFHC / LCHF ) are as effective to lose body fat and weight when calories are matched in for a caloric deficit, then that can also mean that I can as well eat the same % of carbs and fats within the caloric deficit? or is it strictly necessary to ingest higher amount of fats while also eating low carb amounts and vice versa? I’ve read on some of the instagram posts of brad schoenlfeld phd that tolds that carbs – fats ratio must be setted by personal preference, while the most important thing (when trying to lose bodyfat and weight while keeping lean body mass) is to match the right amount of protein (approx. 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass) within the caloric deficit (i.e: for a 1500 kcal/day LCHF diet the macro distribution would be something like this:
        fats: 60% — 100 g
        protein: 35% — 131 g
        carbs: 5% < 20 g
        *for a 1500 kcal/day LFHC diet the macro distribution would be something like this:
        fats: 5% — < 9g
        protein: 35% — 131 g
        carbs: 60 % — 225 g
        *conclusion* is it correct to equate both carbs and fats % without problem for a specific goal on body fat and weight loss while keeping lean body mass, to something like this?:
        1500kcal / day – paired fats and carbs:
        fats: 32.5% — 54.2 g
        protein: 35% — 131 g
        carbs: 32.5% — 121.87 g
        it does seems that LCHF diets are better at managing insulin levels, decrease in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels compared to LFHC diets (reference: http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets#section6 ) … so, what to then?

        • Joe Leech, Dietitian says:

          Hi Riky,

          You can have whatever macronutrient ratio you want as long as your total calories are underneath your requirements (if you want to lose weight) and above your requirements (if you want to gain weight).A higher protein percentage better for maintaining muscle mass in a caloric deficit as well as gaining muscle mass if you are strength training.
          It is not necessary to have either fat or carbs higher or lower than the other, as long as you get enough protein, your total calories reflect your goals, and you ingest enough fats for hormonal balance and health.
          Regarding insulin levels – you probably don’t have to actively manage insulin unless you already have high fasting insulin levels.

  8. George W Wells says:

    Just as a pedant

    “The latest trial to compare these two eating patterns”

    A single treatment group does not allow for true comparison. Sure they had the preceding time period, but its not the same as a control group.

    The funny part, is that Taubes spends most of his time saying how bad nutrition research is, then his group funds a single treatment trial.

  9. using starving tribes in your evidence was a mistake
    can you please investigate how to deal with the problem of carbohydrates causing tooth decay
    what other animal eats things that destroy their teeth ????

  10. Lydia Smith says:

    No, I won’t stop telling people that cutting carbs dropped 15kg of fat from my body composition within 6 months. They ask, so I tell them. I also tell them that it healed my fatty liver, reversed prediabetes, greatly reduced lower back pain to being almost non-existent, removed depression and brain fog, receded the red and sore knuckle bumps, cleared my irises of psoric spots and resulted in smooth, silky skin. Then I direct them to countless and a growing number of personal stories and the evidence of others.
    I have become wary of ‘studies’ as they are usually funded by the vested interests of pharmaceutical or food manufacturing giants under the covers.
    Get into the real world Joe, there are scores of real people telling it how it is. Try it too, then perhaps you can voice a true opinion.

    • Lydia I don’t have time to respond to your emotional response, but it does not contest any of the scientific points made in the article.
      I am not sure you read it all, please see the header ‘But A Low Carb Diet Works For Me?’
      My point is that carbs did not make you fat in the first place.
      Yes reducing carbs can help with weight loss and improve metabolic health, but that’s the action of removing carbs.
      The carbs in your diet is not what caused those problems to emerge in the first place. People such as yourself are getting to two mixed up.

      • Joe I don’t know how you have the patience to deal with all the people who have clearly not grasped the point of your article. As a fellow dietitian working in weight management I understand only too well how hard it is to explain the actual science that people just don’t want to hear. You explained this very clearly in my opinion. The internet has a lot to answer for!!!

  11. Wow….this is news to me!!! I guess I magiced that 60 lbs off when I went low carb. It certainly was not oexercise…I did none..or portion control….I was eating like crazy after years of low volume lots of grains eating….When I went low carb a 16 oz steak for dinner was common….so yeah….when the 60 lbs dropped off with no effort after going low carb….must be magic…maybe voodoo or something….

    6 years in …. still low carb….still wearing size 8 pants….

  12. I have been low carb high fat for six years now, I lost all the weight I put on over the years of following a “Low GI” low fat diet which helped make my sugar craving go up and up.
    I feel better than I have felt for years, I am 74 and my doctor said to me “I don’t know what you are eating, but keep it up”
    I have been following all the research over the years, and still do.
    I am convinced that, for me this way of eating has worked and still works for me now.
    I eat half the amount I used to, due to satiety caused by eating the saturated fats. I used to eat three meals a day, this has cut down to two, not because I am trying, but because I am simply not hungry.
    The old way, I used to think about food all day and was permanently hungry……..now I forget about eating until my body reminds me.
    I can only thank all these “new” nutritionists who have followed such greats as John Yudkin who, in the 70s warned us about the evils of sugar.

  13. This article shows that Joe has never had issues with carbs and obesity. He doesn’t get that carbs (the processed sweet ones particularly) can cause overeating for many people (me, for example) and that, since eliminating most of them from my diet, I no longer feel the need to binge. He doesn’t get that the high fat I eat satiates me like nothing else on earth and as a consequence I actually eat less, and never need to snack between the (usually) two meals a day I have (sometimes one, I only eat when I am hungry nowadays). He doesn’t get it. I don’t know why he is so passionately against LCHF way of eating, it is all very odd. I have struggled with low fat diets for three decades but actually got fatter! They don’t work for me, this (LCHF) does work for me. I am finally happy, I have found a way of eating that fills me up with delicious home cooked natural foods, I am home 🙂 .

    • AJ I don’t have time to respond to your emotional response, but it does not contest any of the scientific points made in the article. Im cutting pasting what i wrote to Lydia.
      I am not sure you read it all, please see the header ‘But A Low Carb Diet Works For Me?’
      My point is that carbs did not make you fat in the first place.
      Yes reducing carbs can help with weight loss and improve metabolic health, but that’s the action of removing carbs.
      The carbs in your diet is not what caused those problems to emerge in the first place. People such as yourself are getting to two mixed up.

      • Also so many assumptions you made were just terrible. If I am so passionately against low carb, then why did I write this article? http://www.dietvsdisease.org/low-carb-diet-diabetes/
        Why do I recommend low carb to so many people?
        You have demonstrated that a) you did not read this article, and b) you do not have a good understanding of the science in this field.

        • Why is everyone passionate for a LCHF diet, responding “emotionally” according to yourself? That’s an odd thing indeed.

          • Hi, It’s AJ again, still LCHF and still over a year later, enjoying this way of eating. I AM passionate about limiting carbs and upping fat, mainly because the low fat high carb advice we in the UK were given in the 70’s was WRONG and actually extremely damaging to many, many people.

            Only by limiting the carbs and increasing the unprocessed fats in my diet have I realised that I have finally found the answer. I no longer feel hunger at all, its wonderful. I see people around me, some are family members and friends who are insulin resistant, they are still desperately doing low fat high carb diets futilely, losing and gaining, losing and gaining. Miserable, hungry, deprived and still developing diabetes, PCOS, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, and other hormonal diseases caused by the body battling with all the refined carbs, breads, starches they are encourage to ingest because they are “healthy”. Makes me frustrated, and yes, emotional, because I can’t do anything about it. I long for the day when it is officially recognised that limiting carbs and cooking with good fats is a healthy way of eating.

  14. And I’d like to know what HFLC foods the participants were fed? Good, healthy fats from Nuts, meat/fish, butter, oils, or inflamation causing unhealthy fats There is a huge difference.

  15. John Burton says:

    Hi
    In the article it is stated that half experienced a reduction in insulin. Was there a check for ketosis? Was it validated that the subjects had entered into a state of ketosis and for how long were those particular subjects actually in ketosis? Of the subjects that may of made it into ketosis are the results of those individuals available?
    I have re-read the article and am missing it (it’s early as I’m reading… like before 5am..) is there a link to the formal write up of the study?

  16. Joe- you keep saying that carbs don’t make us fat in the first place- (or, I’m assuming, in your mind at least, don’t cause metabolic syndrome or fatty liver). You say that removing carbs from the diet works for obese people. Yet I have never been obese (I tend to be on the thin side), I exercise constantly because my job requires it- (as stated in my comment above), and yet I too lost weight on a low carb diet without even trying. My waist got very thin- (all this time I just thought my bones were thick, since there didn’t appear to be any extra fat on me). So if carbs didn’t put on the weight, what on earth did? Actually, you don’t have to answer that, since it’s a rhetorical question. I know without a shadow of a doubt that sugar puts weight on me. I’ve observed the same effect in other people as well. If removing carbs enables one to lose weight, it seems logical enough that they might be what’s causing the weight gain in the first place.

    • If removing carbs enables one to lose weight, it seems logical enough that they might be what’s causing the weight gain in the first place.

      This hypothesis been tested in ward studies over and over. Which is the studies I was explaining at the beginning of this article. When we’re fed either carbs or fat in equal calories, keeping protein constant, there is no difference to fat mass between groups.

      The reason you believe carbs made you gain weight is because a carb-heavy diet allows you to eat more calories without realising it.

    • Dee Burke says:

      Hi Morgana, when you talk about carbs you have to realize that not all carbs are equal. Sugar is regarded as bad because insulin doesn’t have to do any work on it to turn it into glucose, so it is usable and storable straight away either to your muscles or your belly. it is also very hard to keep track of your sugar intake because so much is added to the food you eat and drink. Secondly many carbohydrates are refined carbs and give you empty calories because all the goodness has been removed and different things added to make up for it. Trouble is that makes the refined food ‘Moreish’ so you stay hungry and eat more. Just as important is make sure you have plenty of fiber (40grams), if you check what you have each day you will be shocked as you will be nowhere near it. I use Soya Bran, it’s cheap and has 72grams per 100grams, it says 77grams of carbohydrates but that is total carbs, you subtract the 72grams of fiber from this so it’s only 5grams of carbs per 100grams. I get mine from Holland and Barrats. hope this helps.

      • Dee- I know all of this! I was just trying to make the point to Joe that, yes, some carbs DO make us fat. Sugar definitely is a culprit, probably the main one. But white flour, white rice, white potatoes, possibly even some fruits can be problematic for many people. My guess is that it has to do with varying levels of insulin secretion, possibly even salivary amylose levels as well. I do believe that certain carbs make at least some of us fat. I now eat low carb/high fat, and, although I eat fewer meals than before, I definitely eat more calories, yet I am thinner (as well as much healthier). Which was the other point I was trying to make……I do not believe that the only reason people put on weight when they eat more carbohydrates is due to higher caloric intake due to hunger; this has certainly not been the case for me! Joe is probably right that it could be a “hormonal issue”; after all, insulin is a hormone! Who knows, maybe carbohydrates cause some people to over-secrete cortisol. Nutrition science is in its infancy, and there’s a lot we don’t know yet. In any case, I don’t think this is something that is just personal to me; I’m sure it’s quite common.

        And I don;t eat soy because I’m highly intolerant to it! As for other so-called “complex carbohydrates” , most of them make me feel terribly hungry (either that or nauseated, since I have digestive issues with many types of carbohydrates; this is why I went low carb in the first place). Except sweet potatoes; this seems to be the only high carb food that I can digest well, and keeps me satisfied for a long time.

  17. Except the thing is I ate fewer calories. Fat is more calorie dense than carbohydrates.

    In addition, when I ate high carb low fat, I was often eating a very reduced calorie diet in an attempt to keep my weight down. Now I don’t even worry about my caloric intake.

    Maybe some people can get away with eating high carb, but many of us- (I suspect probably most of us)- can’t.

    • Perhaps there is a genetic/ hormonal factor at play as well which influenced your situation.
      But there is not a metabolically unique way carbs are inherently fattening (yes, they are far lower in calories per gram than fat).
      That was Taubes’ theory, that carbs were fattening due to an insulin mechanism, but it’s been repeatedly disproven.

      • Dee Burke says:

        Truth of the matter is there is no one cure all in life. We are all different and so difference needs difference. What is good for you is not necessarily good for me. You have to try different things to find your individual needs. All diets work, for somebody, you have to find what suits you (not Joe, anybody). Mine is LCHF, read below to see why. Whether it because of LCHF or calory restrictions I don’t know or care, it works, though I suspect the latter.

  18. David Salter says:

    Here’s a tip DietVSDisease. When you are scratching your head wonder why your subscriptions are going down, you might want to consider the fact that now most people have either tried low themselves, or know someone who has tried it – so they have personal experience that disputes your ridiculous claims.

  19. Very interesting article, and for once nice to read something that’s not biased in favour of any particular diet. I only know one person who tried the keto diet and had success, probably because they are gluten intolerant and find it hard to digest grains; yes, they lost weight (and, in my opinion, they now look unhealthy because of it) but my friend is now obsessed with it to the point that any other opinion is automatically invalid. They have even gone so far as to say that there’s nothing wrong with ‘fat shaming’, because anyone who is overweight is unhealthy and maybe saying hurtful things will make them do something about it. That has coloured my opinion of the keto diet greatly, so it’s refreshing to read an article that doesn’t say that eating carbs will make you fat and unhealthy. Yes I am overweight (so says BMI, but if I was within it’s so-called healthy weight category, I would be skin and bones) and I love biscuits, cake and chocolate. I also can’t cook and have a low disposable income, so most diets are out of the question. Exercising is also difficult because of social anxiety, meaning I hate leaving the house, so I am restricted to what I can do indoors. Eating the food I like is one of the ways I can reduce the impact of depression on my life; a fillet of breaded cod, a bowl of Weetabix, a couple of peaches or a slice of chocolate cake make me happy. My favourite foods are high in carbs, so reading about carbs not being the main cause of weight gain is a lot of weight off my mind!

    • Hey Evan thanks for leaving a comment, you can see there’s a lot of haters here who don’t even read the article lol.
      Low-carb can help you lose weight, but only if you can stick with it long term. same goes for keto, which of course has a lower % of long-term success because people don’t adhere.
      But the point is that carbs – the macronutrient – don’t make people fat in the first place, or sick.
      No more than fat or protein would.
      Bu the problem with carbs is we tend to eat refined carbs eg bread, which is not satiating and results in us eating more calories somewhere else.
      Re you workouts at home, social anxiety is quite common! Can I recommend you download Freeletics body and Freeletics gym apps. They’re free, I use those workouts all the time to give some direction and keep motivated to improve on your last session. If you have some dumbells at home, even better. In most cases weight training will do you more good than cardio, because building muscle will increase your metabolism.

      • Oh great, so I’m a ‘hater’ now because I (and others) are challenging your assumptions by talking about our own personal experiences with LCHF and how this way of eating has helped us to reverse health issues, lose excess fat and weight, and brought us back to a healthy relationship with food. Are you a ‘hater’ too because you are denying our personal experience?

      • Hi Joe,

        I tend to get the gist of your article about carbs not inherently making you fat but then you go on to say….

        “Bu the problem with carbs is we tend to eat refined carbs eg bread, which is not satiating and results in us eating more calories somewhere else.”

        The more calories that come from somewhere else would tend to be in the form of more carbs, right? Wouldn’t this all suggest that carbs are actually what is making us fat in the first place especially when you take into account the insulinogenic effect of carbs which is even higher in refined/processed carbs?

        Something about your argument just seems silly to me because while it may be true that carbs in and of themselves don’t make you fat, it is actually the carbohydrate that drives obesity (hormonal). It’s like people here are arguing over subtle nuances. Both sides appear to be right IMHO but if you look at the bigger picture, which is obesity, it really appears there is no doubt it is a complex hormonal issue that carbs especially in the refined form are implicated in.

        It just feels like you wrote this article to be provocative when you really understand how carbs are part of the complexity of obesity.

  20. Les Toplisd says:

    I’ve suffered from extreme life threatening obesity all my life. Never able to lose on ANY plan. After trying low carb, high fat I’ve been able to lose 185 lbs. Looking at your low carb high fat menu I can account for the lack of a difference in the low fat vs low carb diet. Your low carb diet is LOADED with dietary MSG. Some simply cannot lose while any extraneous MSG is in the diet.

  21. I think much of this article is self-fulfilling prophecy. Carbs (sugar) cause insulin response. Low-carb (Kegotenic) diet focuses on Very low carb, high protein, medium to low protein. That means the ratios are like %65(fat)%30(protein)%5(carb) this causes a sugar deficit. Body says, I need sugar or Ketones, give me one or the other. Since you have protein, your body can produce the glucose if needed. As you progress into ketosis, the liver helps regulate the bodies energy expenditures & helps free up energy in the form of ketones. Eventually your muscles start to use ketones for energy as you’ve dropped the water weight in glycogen. Body starts releasing fat energy into the blood and your muscles & brains start to consume ketones. This is why people drop weight. Also you cannot refute all the stories that it works when you goto: reddit.com/r/keto these people have put the hard work in and it so happens that they loose weight following the keto guidelines. Every person who does this has to follow their macro guidelines based on their height & weight, the percentages change at each weight milestone. These studies follow it without the presumption of knowing how the process is supposed to work I think.

    I’m not a doctor, or formally trained in biochemistry. I’ve watched a lot of videos on youtube about people who do this for a living. Who are endocrinologists & PhDs in this field who understand the hormonal chemistry behind it. I suffer from gout and wanted to know what caused the high Uric Acid, turned out It’s all about Sugar and the metabolism & byproducts. It’s also responsible for the rise in blood pressure among people with gout & sleep apnea as well.

    • Absolutely low carb or even keto is helpful for weight loss for the length of time people follow it.
      But carbs themselves don’t cause the weight gain or related problems in the first place.
      Perhaps junk-foods that happen to contain carbs, but it’s not the macronutrient itself that is to blame.

  22. Hey, it’s good to know calories in, calories out is still the rule we can all follow ultimately. The variable, then, is free-range humaning.

    Knowing that 1500 calories is 1500 calories, despite the macros, bringing this into a meaningful translation might then look like WHICH macros of 1500 will keep a particular body satiated to the extent that it won’t be ravenous and dreaming of chocolate cake.

    MY particular current challenge has been to add weight to my frame and the easiest is carbs (cereal, rice, quinoa, potatoes). The problem is that once I start this, my body wants nothing much BUT carbs and then I notice I want the sweet carbs and then I start looking forward to making cookies and cakes and then I start to lose weight (probably muscle since I start edging out protein) and also energy.

    I’m challenged at finding my good-for-me combination that allows me to keep my muscle, a little fat, and also my sanity. I work out, teach yoga, lose weight easily and currently am in an apparent caloric deficit and eating more fat and protein just doesn’t seem as easy or as appealing as a bowl (or 3) of Mesa Sunrise.

    • Yep that’s right, calories rule overall.
      The type of macro may affect your calories in, definitely (such as protein and satiety).
      This is the distinction most people can’t seem to comprehend.
      If you want to gain weight and muscle, have you considered supplementing 5g creatine per day. It’s very inexpensive and heavily studied.
      Totally works and is safe.

  23. Dee Burke says:

    Hi, how about a real world scenario never mind so called trials. I have been on a LCHF diet for 7 weeks, my carbs in the <20 to 30gram range, Protein 80 to 100gram range and Fat 100 to 130gram range, Fiber 45gram range. Green vegs not counted, peppers and higher carb vegs counted. No seed legumes (Peas, Beans etc). No Oat, Wheat etc foods. Around a gallon of liquids a day, (Water 2 liters, water in my Stew 1 liter, the rest is coffee (5 mugs, no milk no sugar but sweeteners). No real exercise. At my computer all day and my TV at night. 1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda in water 4 times a day, first one on rising on an empty stomach and 2 tablespoons vinegar in water once a day (for gout). Result: 20lb in weight lost and 6inches off my waist.

  24. Dee Burke says:

    Hi, forgot to add what I regard as the most important element in this venture Calories. Calories between 700 to1500 mostly around 1000 calory mark. Occasional fasting, I find it easiest to go without breakfast until after 12 noon, that way you have fasted around 12 to 14 houres, fasting doesn’t mean not drinking (coffee, water ) The only thing I still crave for is a big plate of Greasy chips

    • Yes, exactly: limiting carbohydrates not only helps one to lose weight, but it also takes weight off the belly area, which is the most important weight to lose. I find low carbohydrate is the best (for me anyway), for body composition; in other words, thin stomach and waist, good muscle tone, etc. I find that even more important than the number of pounds lost. And on a high carbohydrate weight loss diet, of course, the problem is constant hunger. That’s what about half of Gary Taubes’ book was all about, hunger!

  25. True opinion? It is either true or it is an opinion, Lydia. Thanks Joe for conducting this research. Carbs are not the enemy.

  26. On Sunday Sept 17th I started on a LCHF diet (Approx 5 – 20 – 75) keeping my carbs between 20 to 30 grams per day. NO EXERCISE. I have lost 2stone 4pounds in that short time. I started because I became pre diabetic and I have stuck to the diet faithfully?? I keep a record of everything I eat and weigh everything. There is no way you can diet without keeping records. My initial problem was portion size, having always been used to eating whatever I bought regardless of wieght. The only thing I really missed from my previous diet was chips, so once a month I close the book and pile as many chips onto a plate as I can.It’s caviar, but it keeps me happy till the next month. My staple meal is breakfast, not that I consider breakfast the MUST have meal of the day, it is simply that I want to set a good base of nutrients.
    Breakfast.
    1 cup of coffee with 10gms coconut oil
    40grams Soy bran, (72% Fibre 29gms)
    20 grams Dessicated coconut, (Fat 12gms)
    20grams Chia seed, (Omiga3, 3gms)
    20gramsOmiga 3 mix, (Omiga3, 2gms)
    25grams Whey protein, (Protien 20gms)
    20grams, Flax powder. (Fibre 6gms)
    250ml unsweetened Soy milk. (Bits of everything)
    Allow 20 minuets for ingredients to soak up liquid.
    This gives me 9grams Carbs – 36grams Protein – 48grams Fibre – 44grams fat. 6grams Omiga3.
    When I have egg and bacon for breakfast as a change, I have 50gms of Soy bran later in the day
    Without the Soy bran high fibre I find it very difficult to get the neccessary 40gms daily intake so I would immagin many people do not get enough fibre.
    My average daily Calorie intake (over the combined weeks) is 1224.375. (Told you I recorded everything)
    Now, whether the wieght loss is due to the diet or restricted calories I am not sure. Fact is, it is working so I don’t really care. A big PLUS for LCHF diet is taking away the worry of Fat Scare Stories. As for scientsts, I stopped listening to them years ago when they and Curry destroyed the egg industry with warnings of every egg was a Salmonella killer only to appologise 3 years later admitting they were wrong. Thanks for your time and ear :0)

  27. Hi, thanks for your reply. I have seen others mention turnips for chips but a) I have had no luck finding any, plenty of swedes but no turnips. b) Turnips are full of starch like potatoes and @ 9gms per 100 I might as well cheat properly and have the real thing, @ 18gms per 100. Turnip might look like a chip but don’t taste like a chip. Just worked it out, my average daily carb intake over the last 12 weeks is 24.

  28. Good article Joe! However your delivery seems to suggest you wish to gain attention through going against the LCHF diet. Eating low carbs or going into a state of ketosis is not purely for the purposes of fat loss. Fighting diabetes, cancer and sugar cravings are other benefits the low carb diet has. Your article however does remind people that carbs shouldn’t be shamed. I really think you should have given a full look into the aspects of both diets because of course any educated person knows that 2000kcals is 2000kcals not matter what form of nutrients it takes.

    • tom … Any educated person knows that different nutrients are digested different way, period. Telling otherwise proves lack of basic knowledge. Sorry for being a git harsh, but facts are facts.

  29. Well, I agree carbs don’t make you fat, I eat a lot of carbs and zero animals every day since 17 years ago and I am lean and very healthy. I eat these carbs: rice, beans, fruit, vegetables, potatoes, bread, oatmeal, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pizza mmmm (just cook it yourself, try the best healthy version and avoid process sugar).

    For people is too hard to lose weight because their body is highly acid, it takes almost a year to clean the body from junk food. 2 weeks of what people call “Eat clean” is not going to help. It is very simple and obvious: sodas, food in cans, sugar, all brands of cereals, juices etc.. those things are not food, yes you can eat them but they just make you sick and fat. Eat what is design by nature not by the industries that want you sick.

    • A typical tree hugging vegan trying to pass her unholy preachings onto other innocents. Get some liver down your neck or as I had last night a good helping of lambs heart wrapped in pork fat and bread to soak up the juices. Delicious.

  30. Interesting read. If low carb works for you great.
    But hope all the low carb advocates here realise ALL fruit and ALL vegetables including leafy greens are all carbs. And fibre required for good bowel health comes from carbs. Low carb seems to mean different things to different people. Great article though

    • All fruits are high in fructose suger thus high in carbs. Many vegetables are the same, Carrots, runner beans, peppers, onions to name but a few. Beans and peas are high in starch so that vegan Ana is filling herself with sugers. Chances are it is her metabolism that is keeping her slim, it’s the way she’s made not all that vegan rubbish.

      • Dee – Whatever influence or credibility you, you completely lost. The name calling and shaming is absolutely uncalled for. You just sound like a fanatic who is set on arguing with anyone who doesn’t immediately accept your HFLC diet. Based on the number or responses to this article and the vitriol with which you post, you clearly have an agenda.

  31. Shawn Eagle says:

    People will never learn! Low/no carb diets are nothing but fads that people created to make a quick buck off of those who don’t know any better.
    Weight loss doesn’t mean it’s healthy! I can lose 100 pounds y starving myself, but obviously, it’s not a good idea to do this.
    What people need to understand is that complex carbohydrates are an essential nutrient that your body NEEDS! We need glucose for the brain, muscles, cells and the retina of the eye. We use glucose 24/7 nonstop just like healthy fats and proteins. Also, we need carbohydrates to make ATP which is what makes our body move. Without adequate carbohydrates, the body has to start pulling proteins (BCAA) from actual muscle tissue (not from the protein you eat) to convert into glucose. You can eat 1,000 grams but excess protein won’t store in the muscles it goes to fat cells (just like fat and carbs) or it gets pooped out. This process called Gluconeogenesis and is NOT good! This can also put major stress on the heart as well.
    The key to weight loss and being healthy is to eat well-balanced meals/snacks with portion sizes that are right for each individual person, eating the right kinds of food, EXERCISE (most people who blame carb for making them fat don’t exercise), combining the right kinds of carbs with proteins and healthy fats.
    A person also has to learn to eat for hat they’re about to do. most people eat 3 or 5 meals and have equal calories at each one. The amount of calories eaten, should be adjusted for what you’re abutting to doing. If you’re going to workout you obviously would need more calories than if you were to sit and pay bills or taking a nap. You have to think a little.
    Simply cutting an entire essential nutrient from your healthy eating plan isn’t the best thing to do. very unhealthy and can lead to future heath problems. No matter what someone may tell you about low/no carb, keto/LCHF, Atkins etc it’s packed with lies. I have been teaching/using high-carb for over 25 years and my trainer has been teaching/using high-carb for over 45 years and never has it steered us wrong. I have helped countless people with T1DM, T2DM, heart disease, cholesterol, and obesity. The pounds came off effortlessly!
    If you are having a hard time losing weight or controlling diabetes then seek a REAL dietitian that is educated in nutritional sciences. They can and will help you! Carbohydrates don’t need to be cut from the eating plan.
    Just so everyone knows, I lost 100 pounds eating high-carb can even having fun foods once in a while. You don’t have to starve and you don’t have to be miserable. trust me fad diets will make you miserable!
    Shawn Eagle CPT, CDE (Future) RDN

    • Shawn Eagle, yet another so called ‘EXPERT’. Why are the other ‘experts’ wrong and you are right. i have been on a LCHF diet for 18 weeks <30grams carbs. I have lost 2stone 11pounds, I have lost 8 inches from my waist. My high blood pressure which I have been on medication for for years is now normal, I now sleep like a log for 7 uninterupted hours then fall asleep again for a couple of hours. I have never felt better and my only 'exercise' is normal daily routines. I think you need to do a bit more research into LCHF diets. you get your glucose from carbs, I get my glucose from belly fat. The body will utilise whatever of the three is available. Carbs first, if non then fat, if non then protien including muscle tissue. I am no expert, but I know what I see, I see a slimmer fitter me. 'Experts' are and always have been contradictory, that is why I no longer listen to any of them. Dee Bee LCHF.

    • I think the point that keeps getting lost here is that every BODY is unique. For most people eating a balance of healthy foods from all categories is probably best. I was hospitalized last summer with extremely high blood sugar. But it turns out that it wasn’t so much the carbs–or the protein or the fat that played the major role. I had had an infection, that in turn promoted inflammation in my gallbladder and pancreas. Antibiotics, followed by a low carb diet and insulin shots reduced the blood sugar enough in two weeks that I only take a night-time long-acting shot right now (and probably could eliminate that with just a bit more exercise).

      Our bodies are very complicated and change all the time. Sometimes I can eat lots of carbs and sometimes I can’t. I have to pay attention everyday to my body, to what I’m doing in my life, my general health. Balance is key. though. Not just in what we eat, but in our whole life style.

  32. Shawn Eagle commented on Science Confirms It: Carbs DON’T Make You Fat.

    in response to Steve S.:

    Read “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz. Read Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About ItDec by Gary Taubes. Watch The Aetiology of Obesity on youtube.com. Watch anything by Dr. Jason Fung on youtube.com. Watch sugar, the bitter truth on youtube.com. Watch My Big Fat diet on youtube.com. Rent Fed Up. Join […]

    Um, I hate to break it to you but the author of that book and everyone you mentioned aren’t qualified or educated in nutritional sciences. They are complete frauds and fakes selling the fad diets to people who don’t know any better.
    ATTENTION ALL PEOPLE WHO READ THE ABOVE COMMENT DO NOT BUY THOSE BOOKS AND DO NOT TRUST ANY ONE OF THE NAMES MENTIONED THEY ARE NOT EDUCATED IN NUTRITIONAL SCIENCES.
    Aso just because you lose weight it does NOT mean it’s healthy! When you cut carbs you burn muscle tissue and you also weaken the heart! Ketogenic diet is foolish!
    ———————————————————————————————————————————–Tell me Shawn, have you actually tried a ketgenic diet? because to become a ‘Real’ expert as you appear to think you are, you have to disprove other theories by trial, not by just dismissing them out of hand. Remember, to become an ‘expert’ you have to be taught by an ‘expert’ and if that ‘expert’ is wrong, so are you. The only ‘expert’ advise I would give is don’t believe in ‘experts’, listen to what they say, try it yourself, if it works, great. Ifit doesn’t, ditch it and try something else.

  33. To Shawn Eagle. You are wrong, and one of the things you show your ignorance at is your statement that LCHF diet wastes muscle. It doesn’t because of the protiens you take which keep the muscle fed. The only time you could lose muscle is if you have no body fat to burn and are taking insufficient protien, to do this you would need to starve yourself. If you were an ‘expert’ you would know that.

    • If you have large muscle mass and go LCHF to the point of ketosis, you may very well lose muscle mass. Because of gluconeogensis, protein intake must be kept very low on a LCHF diet to maintain ketosis

      • Sorry Joe you are wrong, on a LCHF diet protien intake should be moderate to high, 80 – 90 gramms. It is low carbs that causes the ketosis @ an intake of <20 gramms per day.

  34. Shawn Eagle: Carbohydrates are the one macronutrient that is non-essential. We need protein and we need fat to live, but our bodies are able to make our own glucose- (being an “expert”, I’m surprised that you don’t know this?) There is nothing inherently dangerous about a low carb diet. I’ve eaten this way for years now- (I started NOT for weight loss, but for other health problems). Like many of the other posters, I feel healthier than I ever have; as a middle aged woman, I am in better shape, health-wise, than when I was in my 20’s and 30’s! I can’t believe that a diet that makes me feel this great is somehow killing me on the side. Don’t go scaring people on the internet with your misinformation, please.

  35. Tali S. Cooper says:

    Interesting. So what this confirms, is the ectomorphs are incredibly resilient to carbohydrate abuse. Carbohydrates alone(in most cases) aren’t the main cause of weight gain. Body type, activity level, gut bacteria, strict dietary content, stress levels, environment, and even overall mental state are also included. Either way however. A calorie is not a calorie, and just because they have a seemingly solid connection with weight gain doesn’t mean they actually mean anything. In equations such as more calories from more meatball subs or something equals almost exactly out to amount of weight gain, isn’t the calories, it’s what the food is made of and how said substances are processed in the body. Which are almost all different. Surely, carbohydrates alone aren’t the culprit, but neither are fat and cholesterol. Plus, the ketogenic diet still isn’t entirely off the table at this point. There are still valid scientific points to it that keep it a good option.

  36. chaz gaddie says:

    I would be interested to see your math on the statement “A daily deficit of 40 calories is likely to equal only 4 lbs of weight loss after 2-3 years, if you don’t cheat.”

    My math is as follows:
    40 calories a day x 365 days per year = 14,600 calories per year divided by 3500 calories per pound = 4.17 pounds per year…….

    • This “calories-in, calories-out” idea is ridiculous, in my opinion. I used to count my calories, didn’t eat too much and still gained weight. Now I don’t count calories anymore, I eat what I want, and I eat far more calories than I used to, and I’ve lost weight and have maintained the same weight since. Weight gain/loss is affected by the body’s hormone and endocrine system.

  37. The basis of the modern “studies” you cite were for, 4 and 6 weeks respectively??? Ahahahaha! You’ve got to be kidding yourself into believing that those time frames are anywhere NEAR adequate to draw such sweeping and delusional conclusions…

  38. I’ve been on many diets in the last 25-30 years, all of which required some form of starvation or restriction of vital nutrients and exercise to get past the first 5kgs. I always regained the weight even while persisting with the diet. I thought the LCHF was going to be the life saver. My daughter and I have been on it for the last 18 months without any sustainable weight loss. The initial 5kgs that was lost returned without any change in diet. I’ve observed countless inactive, reed-thin people consume volumes of all sorts of food, including tons of sugar, and not gain an ounce. I have also observed overweight people diet and exercise for years and not make any significant losses. I have seen too the exceptions who have lost weight on diets and/or exercise and the exceptions who have gained weight while consuming “excessive” amounts of food. I have seen people with massive hanging tummies but thin legs and butts. All these observations and my own experience have led me to believe that weight gain and loss has got very little, if at all, to do with food. I think the medical fraternity should put more effort into finding the real cause and solution, and if they did, there are PHDs and Nobel prizes out there waiting for those of them who would dare to think outside the box of conventional medical wisdom.

  39. This is just soo funny. Science confirms IT!!! :))))
    There are science researches that confirms opposite views on everything where money are involved in this world. To what side would you believe? Mostly such a load of paid bullshits!
    Use common sense and try it both on yourself and you will see how insulin can mess with your body and mind if you are not gonna have it under control!!! There are of course exceptions to everything, but the way to stay on this planet longer is not gonna be about feeding yourself with carbs 3 times a day (not talking about carbs from veggies).
    Or just have a look how bio hackers, the people who wanna live seriously long, famous rich people who cares about health, highly knowledgable healers etc… how they eat and you got the point… 😉 Some are on ketogenic diet, some are on low carb diet directing their carbs to the part of the day when they exercise and where is the place to make use of insulin…

    The most important is watch yourself how do you feel when you eat and after throughout the day… and watch how your mind works on high and low carbs!!! Gut is your second brain!

  40. I’ve exercised heavily for over 20 years on weights, cycling and running. Switching from 300g of carbs a day down to 150g approx led to weight going from 150lbs to 142lbs in 3 weeks losing 2.5 inches from my waist, 0.75 inches from my biceps and an inch from my quads.

    I still retained my ability to bench 250lbs in the gym with only the edge taken from my general strength on the weights. My speed and stamina on my mountain bike jumped through the roof. My calories remained between 2000 & 2500 per day as before.

    What I do notice is that if I fall off the wagon and have a chocolatey snack or even as little as 50g of dark chocolate (80% coca) the next morning my weight will increase by a 1lb and my waist by half inch every time. This will be water weight which will be gone the next day but heavily refined carbs are much more detrimental than natural ones.

    I can be on 170g of more refined carbs and gain no weight but as low as 110g overall with the chocolate thrown in and still gain the pound.

    More research needs to be done, for some reason scientists don’t like to admit that nothing is an exact science.

  41. this is such BULLSHIT! OMG I am laughing Your data is a complete joke too.

  42. Buy a glucometer. Eat carbs. Test. Cry. If you aren’t in carb trouble now, you WILL be. As you get older, even a mild dose of carbs can be lethal … cause T2 diabetes.

  43. Low carb is bad. High carb is bad. Low fat is bad. High fat is bad. Make up your minds people. All these nutrition “experts” are driving me nuts.

    Honestly, there isn’t an absolute perfect diet. It’s very subjective and varies by person. I know people who do great with a keto diet, and people that do great eating plenty of carbs.

    So, do whatever works for you and take everything these hacks say with a grain of salt.

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  46. Peter Piper says:

    Well, if this report is true, then weight loss must be in the MIND because I and several of my friends and acquaintances have lost a LOT of weight over a period of 1 to 2 years using the ketogenic (low carb) diet. Having been on various diets in the past that did not work for weight loss, we did indeed have great success with the low carb, high fat diet. I could tell after a month that I had finally found the right diet for me. Over a period of a year, I lost over 80 pounds without going hungry. After several years I’m STILL on the ketogenic diet because I LIKE the foods allowed on the diet and I don’t like the foods that are not allowed… so this diet is a way of life for me. I don’t really care what “science” says; it works for me and my ketogenic friends. Perhaps there are different diets for different people. Who knows? All I know is that I lost ALL of my health problems and I lost over 80 pounds effortlessly. And I noticed that the so-called “science” of this article was based on a very short period of time… not enough time to get into ketosis and stay in it. Not very scientific at all.

    • Joe Leech, Dietitian says:

      Hi Peter,

      I am glad you had such great success on the ketogenic diet. At the end of the day, the best diet is one that you can stick to because as you say, it is a way of life. Thanks for your comment.

  47. We all have different matabilisms with different levels of activity and different hormonal balances. Whereas some people do better on high carb diets, others fair better on high fat for their energy needs. What we agree on is that the food we consume should come mainly from unprocessed foods. Added sugar, refined carbs and highly processed fats are the main enemy here. Processed food has properties that promote us to eat excess calories by their clever scientifically manipulated qualities. Simply eat real food in whatever combination of macronutrients that YOU enjoy when hungry and stop when satisfied, and trust your body to do the rest to keep you healthy.

  48. Johan Vrolix says:

    It has been show that obese people, who probably are insulin resistant to some degree, take longer to start losing weight on a keto diet. 4 weeks seem a too short period to be relevant.

  49. Hello,

    I’m curious about your assertion that carbs do not “cause” you to get fat in the first place. Mainly my question is about the actual use of the word “cause”. By the way this isn’t meant to be a gotcha comment and I genuinely liked your article. I’m just curious if you really mean that carbs (simlple, complex, etc.) have been specially and experimentally shown to not cause fat increase or your assertions related to insulin. One of the main principles of psychology and clinical science in general is that correlation is not causation. Another important point is that one particular study can show many things (hence p values only alluding to the notion that we are x % confident that this result is not due to random chance within a confidence interval). At some point in your article you loosely mention your claims are based on the available evidence as well as the weight of evidence and not one particular study. But as complicated as the body is I find it hard to believe that without outrageously meticulous studies that control for all sorts of genetic and other micro factors down to the molecular or at least cellular level that you can definitivey use the word “cause” as you have in some of your replying comments. Again loved the article this is mainly just for clarification on your choice of words. The word “cause” is a very strong and overly used word.

    Side note I’m sure you have probably heard of the Hierarchy of Evidence for clinical studies based on your knowledge of clinical evidence. I think that would be a great point to mention in your articles especially to defer people from making outrageous claims about personal case studies. Also a few of the studies you mention are conducted the best way but you already mention that!

    • ****arent conducted the best way

    • Joe Leech, Dietitian says:

      Hi Ryan, I do believe carbs are not the cause of obesity. The burden of proof does not lie with the general consensus; it lies with people who are opposing the consensus, in this case, that carbs make you fat. Most people would say they don’t, so the onus of proof falls on other people to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they DO make you fat, and they haven’t been able to prove it.

      I didn’t mention the hierarchy of evidence because I thought it wasn’t necessary, but perhaps it is. Kevin Hall, who I speak about in the article, has done the best crossover study yet, so as I mentioned above, it’s up to the opposers of the consensus to prove that carbs DO make you fat, and this has not been done as yet.

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