A spark of reason

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I’ve been reading through many (not all) of the comments on Guyenet’s rebuttal of the carbohydrate hypothesis. Although it can be rather tedious, especially because of the apparent mental hospital escapee ItsTheWoo2 (who does have a few good points but a complete lack of putting those point out there in a sane way), but Stephan finally got to his senses and blocked the comments from her (him?).

After reading both the blog post and the comments I find that I am rather unsure of what we are discussing. It seems we are dealing with to poorly defined theories and that much of the seemingly contradictory nature of those theories stem from a lack of clear definition.

The only comment I felt was really worth noting was that of Dave “Spark of reason” Dixon who had this to say:

Just to clarify (and apologies if already discussed, I haven’t gone through all of the comments): what precisely is the «carbohydrate hypothesis» under discussion? Is it that carbohydrate is *necessary* for obesity, or *sufficient*? My reading of Taubes is the former, that you need carbohydrate to drive fat storage, but not that just eating carbohydrates will make you fat.
I don’t find anything in what you presented which is inconsistent with that view, e.g. examples of lean cultures with traditionally high-carbohydrate diets may simply indicate that other factors are needed to drive obesity, and particularly metabolic syndrome. Are there any examples of obesity occurring in the absence of dietary carbohydrate?

Isn’t this actually an important point? Does the carbohydrate hypothesis being discussed say that carbohydrates are necessary or sufficient for causing obesity? If, as Dave interprets GCBC, the theory says carbohydrates are necessary, then what exactly are people arguing about?

I don’ get it!

5 kommentarer

  1. Good points on this and the previous post Pal. I am particularly surprise by the poor formulation that I've seen so far of the food reward theory, if we could call it that.


  2. Although Taubes was rude at the end of his questioning, I get the sense that ultimately he doesn't consider «food reward» to be a falsifiable hypothesis. You tend to eat more of food that tastes good? Uh, yeah.

    In Richard Nikoley's appearance on the Latest in Paleo Internet radio program the other day, he made the interesting point that among the neolithic agents of disease are a fat (linoleic acid), a protein (gluten) AND a carbohydrate (fructose). Trying to reduce bad health to any single element or reason is a fool's errend. To that extent, I do think Guyenet is being more «scientific» than Tabues, although Guyenet's hypothesis does not seen to be formulated in a stringent enough way.


  3. I don't believe the two theories are mutually exclusive. If I remember correctly, Stephen indicated in his food reward posts that food combining both fat and carbohydrate (bakery products or mashed potatoes with butter mixed in) is especially rewarding. Either way, carbohydrates tend to be involved, so I'm not sure they can be entirely separated. It seems like we have two different puzzle pieces and we just can't quite figure out how they should link together, but we think we know that those pieces both do fit in the puzzle.


  4. Thanks for bringing some sanity to this discussion! Looking at it from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean I have a hard time to understand what this Rumble in the LC/Paleo Jungle, is all about.

    As you might have heard, we have a very vibrant Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) community here in Sweden. And, yes…we all subscribe to the carbohydrate hypothesis with insulin beeing the major player in obesity.

    Still, from day 1, we have included people talking about the importence of sugar addiction in the obesity epidemic. We have stayed open minded that there might as well be an important, complementary neurological explanation for overeating and obesity, wholly or partially unrealated to the effects of insulin.

    From my (anecdotal) experience there are people that due to sugar addiction, can get off track just by the taste of sweetness, even from artificial sweetners with no effect on insulin.

    So I don´t find theese two theories mutually exclusive but rather complemantary. Two years ago, Swedens most reknown and respected neuroscientist, Martin Ingvar publiched a book on the brain and obesity. He was embraced by the LCHF community!

    It was not a true low carb message, rather a low GI- message, but Ingvar clearly pointed the finger towards sugars and easely digestible starches as the main villans, even from a neurobiolocical (reward) standpoint. And he did not deny the effects of insulin on obesity.

    So perhaps this is the main differanse…Guyenet seems to belive that reward theory falsifies the carb hypothesis, but I have not seen any solid agument from him proving that so far.


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