I was watching a short piece of a U-Tube video in the Main Lobby of Low Carb Friends this morning, which disturbed me a little bit. The title of the thread was "Don't you Just Love Gary Taubes." And since I got interrupted while reading his book last year, I thought it would be informative to see what he had to say.
The video clip dealt with the inaccuracies of the science behind what does, or does not constitute a healthy diet. At least, in Gary Taubes' opinion. And he was putting forth the typical, general low-carb stance that "saturated fats are probably harmless."
Now those were his exact words, by the way, with the word PROBABLY emphasized -- twice.
The person interviewing him was countering that stance with a statement the studio had personally received from the American Heart Association saying that saturated fats should be kept to a minimum, and that trans-fats should be eliminated all together. Upon trying to explain his hypothesis regarding that view, the interviewer interrupted Taubes, and asked about all of the foods that were laid out on the table.
Gary Taubes pointed to a bowl of oatmeal with strawberries. What he said was that this type of breakfast was recommended by the American Heart Association, along with low-fat or non-fat milk added to round out the meal. Now, according to Taubes, this is the type of meal that raises insulin levels which will cause the body to store those carbs as fat, rather than burn them for energy.
He then pointed to the next breakfast. A somewhat typical low-carb breakfast. I say somewhat, because the media had placed a small glass of orange juice next to the salad-sized plate of bacon and eggs. Gary Taubes picked up the glass of juice and placed it next to the oatmeal, and said it would be a better fit to put the juice with the oatmeal.
Perplexed, the interviewer next looked at what appeared to be a lunch plate. A bacon cheeseburger, and said something to the effect that he couldn't be seriously recommending a bacon cheeseburger. At which point Taubes appealed to the late Dr. Atkins, saying that Atkins recommended a bacon cheeseburger because Atkins said it doesn't raise insulin levels.
Now...the disturbing aspect of all of this...is that initial insulin-raising studies performed and published about 10 years ago by the same folks who initially did the glycemic index testing, doesn't back any of this up.
NONE OF IT.
A bacon cheeseburger DOES raise insulin levels, and not just slightly as so many low-carb advocates proclaim. The study showed that it raises insulin levels higher than oatmeal does. Higher than pasta. With beef's insulin demand being equal to brown rice, and fish's insulin demand being equal to whole grain bread.
So why a researcher who claims to have looked at tons of research studies and data, and yet chose to omit that important detail that disproves his hypothesis is beyond me. In fact, it makes me a bit sick to my stomach, because that's exactly what some of those who oppose Gary Taubes' work are saying. That he selectively omitted any studies that didn't fit with his personal conclusions.
The truth that has been demonstrated so far, is that carbs are not the ONLY stimulus for insulin secretion. Plus our ideas about blood glucose levels and even carb counts themselves are also coming into question.
For instance, when you add protein to a carb-rich meal, insulin secretion rises moderately without further increasing blood glucose. But when one adds a large amount of fat to a carb-rich meal, insulin increases even though the glucose level goes down. So a lower glucose level doesn't mean our insulin levels are also low. And a total meal carb count doesn't necessarily predict what our insulin levels are going to do.
On the average, carb-laden foods did mimic their glucose levels close enough, but the surprising aspect of the study was that protein-rich foods such as beef, fish, eggs, and cheese stimulated a larger amount of insulin compared to their glycemic response. So while the blood sugar didn't raise very much from eating protein foods, the insulin level rose 3 to 6-fold!
For a low-carber trying to lower their insulin levels, that is NOT very good news.
The other interesting surprise in the study was that white and brown rice were essentially equal in insulin-raising capability. The same as white vs brown pasta, and white vs brown bread. Probably because everything is highly processed these days, whole grain or not. Which means adding whole grains to your diet isn't necessarily going to solve the problem -- if you're still consuming any type of processed flours.
The conclusion of the study was that the macronutrient composition of foods has relatively limited power for predicting the extent of postprandial insulinemia. And other studies done on milk and yogurt, or white bread with yogurt and pickled cucumbers, also point to the same thing. That our biological reactions to protein foods are not what we have always been told they were.
Making the control of insulin, and ultimately fat loss, more complex than just counting carbs.