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Keto Diet Theory Put to the Test


“Keto Diet Theory Put to the Test” When you don’t eat
enough carbohydrates, you force your body to burn more fat. However, this rise in fat burning is often misconstrued as a greater rate of net fat mass
reduction on the body. But that ignores the fact
that on a ketogenic diet your fat intake shoots up as well. The question is what happens to
your overall body fat balance. You can’t empty a tub
by widening the drain if you’re cranking up the
faucet at the same time. Low-carb advocates
had a theory, though, the so-called carbohydrate–
insulin model of obesity. Proponents of low-carb diets,
whether a ketogenic diet or a more relaxed form of
carbohydrate restriction, suggested that the
decreased insulin secretion would lead to less fat storage; and so, even if you
were eating more fat, less of it would
stick to your frame. So, we’d be burning
more and storing less, the perfect combination for fat loss— or so the theory went. To their credit, instead of
just speculating about it, they decided to put
it to the test. Gary Taubes formed the
Nutrition Science Initiative to sponsor research to validate
the carbohydrate–insulin model. He’s the journalist who
wrote the controversial 2002 New York Times Magazine piece “What if It’s All
Been a Big Fat Lie,” which attempted to turn
nutrition dogma on its head by arguing in favor
of the Atkins diet with its bunless bacon cheeseburgers based on the carbohydrate–
insulin model. (Much of Nina Teicholz’s
book, “The Big Fat Surprise”, is simply recycled from
Taubes’s earlier work). In response, some of the very
researchers Taubes cited to support his thesis accused him
of twisting their words. “The article was incredibly
misleading,” one said, “I was horrified.” “He took this weird little idea and blew it up, and people
believed him,” said another. “What a disaster.” It doesn’t matter what people say, though. All that matters is the science. Taubes attracted $40 million
in committed funding for his Nutrition Science
Initiative to prove to the world, you could lose more body
fat on a ketogenic diet. They contracted
noted NIH researcher Kevin Hall to perform the study. Seventeen overweight men
were effectively locked in what’s called a metabolic
ward for two months to allow researchers total
control over their diets. For the first month they were placed on a typical high carbohydrate diet (50% carbohydrate; 35% fat; 15% protein), and then they were switched
to a low-carb ketogenic diet (only 5% of calories from carbohydrate;
80% fat) for the second month. Both diets had the same
number of daily calories. So, if a calorie is a calorie
when it comes to weight loss, then there should be no
difference in body fat loss on the regular diet
versus the ketogenic diet. If Taubes was right, though, if fat calories were
somehow less fattening, then body fat loss would
become accelerated. What happened instead,
in the very study funded by the Nutrition Science Initiative, was that body fat loss
slowed upon switching to the ketogenic diet. Wait…why do people
think the keto diet works if it’s actually slowing fat loss? Well, if you just looked at the
readings on their bathroom scales, the ketogenic diet would
seem like a smashing success. They went from losing
less than a pound a week on the regular diet in the two
weeks before they switched to losing three and a half
pounds within seven days after the switch to the ketogenic diet. But what was happening
inside their bodies told a totally different story. Their rate of body fat loss
was slowed by more than half. So, most of what they were
losing was just water weight. (The reason they started burning
less fat on a ketogenic diet was presumed to be because
without the preferred fuel, carbohydrates, their bodies started
burning more of its own protein.) And that’s exactly what happened. Switching to a ketogenic diet
made them lose less fat mass and more fat-free mass;
they lost more lean mass. That may help explain why the
leg muscles of CrossFit trainees placed on a ketogenic diet may
shrink as much as 8 percent. The vastus lateralis is your
biggest quads muscle in your leg, shrunk in thickness by
8% on a ketogenic diet Yes, the study subjects
started burning more fat on the ketogenic diet, but they
were also eating so much more fat on the ketogenic diet that they
ended up retaining more fat in their body despite
the lower insulin levels. This is “diametrically opposite”
to what the keto crowd predicted, and this from the guy they
paid to support their theory. In science-speak, the
carbohydrate–insulin model “failed experimental interrogation.” In light of this “experimental
falsification” of the low-carb theory, the Nutrition Science Initiative
effectively collapsed…. but, based on their tax returns,
not before Taubes and his co-founder personally pocketed millions
of dollars in compensation.

William Babineau

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