Many people may remember this NY Times article by Gary Taubes where he explains why conventional nutritional advice on how to lose weight is all wrong. He says it is not a low fat diet that helps with weight loss but a low carb diet. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? By GARY TAUBES JULY 7, 2002 If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it. They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling ''Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution'' and ''Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution,'' accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along. Or maybe it's this: they find that their very own dietary recommendations -- eat less fat and more carbohydrates -- are the cause of the rampaging epidemic of obesity in America. Or, just possibly this: they find out both of the above are true. ... The science behind the alternative hypothesis can be called Endocrinology 101, which is how it's referred to by David Ludwig, a researcher at Harvard Medical School who runs the pediatric obesity clinic at Children's Hospital Boston, and who prescribes his own version of a carbohydrate-restricted diet to his patients. Endocrinology 101 requires an understanding of how carbohydrates affect insulin and blood sugar and in turn fat metabolism and appetite. This is basic endocrinology, Ludwig says, which is the study of hormones, and it is still considered radical because the low-fat dietary wisdom emerged in the 1960's from researchers almost exclusively concerned with the effect of fat on cholesterol and heart disease. At the time, Endocrinology 101 was still underdeveloped, and so it was ignored. Now that this science is becoming clear, it has to fight a quarter century of anti-fat prejudice. Taubes refers to Dr. David Ludwig author of the book "Always Hungry" which says that eating carbohydrates causes insulin to be produced which tells the body how much fat to store. According to Dr. Ludwig, if you increase the amount of carbs you eat you will become fatter, if you eat less carbohydrates you will lose weight. Another book. "Foods That Cause You To Lose Weight II While You Watch TV" by Dr. Neal Barnard. explains the "negative calorie effect" (which is often misrepresented by nutritionists and journalists). The negative calorie effect is a process by which complex carbohydrates cause the body to increase its basal metabolism rate by causing the conversion of a hormone called T4 to another hormone T3. (It is often wrongly stated some foods take more calories to digest than they contain and therefore have "negative calories"). Additional factors that make carbohydrates useful for weight loss are: It takes 25% of the calories in complex carbohydrates to convert them into fat and that the body resists turning carbohydrates into fat, first storing carbohydrates as starch and only converting to fat when there is no more room to store starch and when increased metabolism cannot handle the excess carbs. Dr. Barnard says most people never come close to this point. Additionally, when the body senses it has enough carbs it turns off the appetite. Complex carbohydrates only come from plants, they are found in vegetables, fruits, and grains. I am not saying that the low carb diet is a fraud. Some people say it works for them. (From my own personal experiences trying these two diets I find Dr. Barnard's complex carbohydrate diet works for me and Dr. Ludwig's low fat diet did not.) But what I do think is interesting is that the people who tout the low carb diets are claiming science proves that it is carbohydrates that make you fat - and that is not necessarily true. Here are a couple of research papers by Dr Barnard: http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/health/medstudents/The effects of a low-fat plant-based dietary intervention on body weight metabolism and insulin sensitivity .pdf The effects of a low-fat, plant-based dietary intervention on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity Neal D. Barnard, MD,a,b Anthony R. Scialli, MD,c Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, MD, RD,b Amy J. Lanou, PhD,b Jolie Glass, MS ABSTRACT PURPOSE: This study investigated the effect of a low-fat, plant-based diet on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity, while controlling for exercise in free-living individuals. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: In an outpatient setting, 64 overweight, postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to a low-fat, vegan diet or a control diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, without energy intake limits, and were asked to maintain exercise unchanged. Dietary intake, body weight and composition, resting metabolic rate, thermic effect of food, and insulin sensitivity were measured at baseline and 14 weeks. RESULTS: Mean 6 standard deviation intervention-group body weight decreased 5.8 6 3.2 kg, compared with 3.8 6 2.8 kg in the control group (P 5 .012). In a regression model of predictors of weight change, including diet group and changes in energy intake, thermic effect of food, resting metabolic rate, and reported energy expenditure, significant effects were found for diet group (P , .05), thermic effect of food (P , .05), and resting metabolic rate (P , .001). An index of insulin sensitivity increased from 4.6 6 2.9 to 5.7 6 3.9 (P 5 .017) in the intervention group, but the difference between groups was not significant (P 5 .17). CONCLUSION: Adoption of a low-fat, vegan diet was associated with significant weight loss in overweight postmenopausal women, despite the absence of prescribed limits on portion size or energy intake. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/8/1777.full A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Improves Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Randomized Clinical Trial in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes Neal D. Barnard, MD12, Joshua Cohen, MD1, David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PHD3, Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, MS, RD4, Lise Gloede, RD, CDE5, Brent Jaster, MD2, Kim Seidl, MS, RD2, Amber A. Green, RD2 and Stanley Talpers, MD1 ... CONCLUSIONS—Both a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients. These improvements were greater with a low-fat vegan diet.