Conferences and lunch with Gary Taubes

I recently attended the annual scientific meeting on obesity in San Diego put on by The Obesity Society. This is a big gathering where researchers and clinicians gather to discuss all aspects of the science of obesity with one remarkable exception. Over the course of four and a half days, I did not hear the phrase “low-carb diet” cross the lips of a single presenter. I have been going to these meetings for several years now and it is quite clear that the organizers have no desire to look at low-carb research. Even when one of the recent past-presidents has a much anticipated two-year low-carb study published there is not a mention of it in the program. And when he does speak, he gives a totally unremarkable presentation on a different topic. It’s almost as though he is embarrassed for having done a study on low-carb and is happy to put that unfortunate experience behind him. The fact that even though he made several errors that mitigated against the low-carb diet arm, the fact that the low-carb diet results were still better than the low-fat, low-calorie arm probably just increased the embarrassment.

One of the things I find really odd at these meetings is that there are awards sessions every day where various researchers heap accolades on one another for advancing the science while the epidemic continues to rage on uncontrolled. It reminds me of that famous photo of the firemen posing while behind them a house is consumed by fire, or the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner accompanying George Bush’s premature declaration of victory in Iraq. Making it even more surreal is the fact that a noticeable number of the acclaimed leaders in this global emergency are suffering its consequences themselves. We are not supposed to notice this, much less comment on it, of course. But, in what bizarre alternate universe do we find ourselves, when the experts who are expected to lead us out of this misery cannot make their prescriptions work on themselves? Suffice to say, I’ve yet to see a credible low-carb researcher with a personal weight problem.

I will continue to attend these meetings as there are basic science presentations worth attending and there are sometimes good discussions on specific issues like fructose which are germane to the low-carb field. I will also continue to give them feedback on the need to stop ignoring the low-carb science but I’m not holding my breath.

I spoke at another smaller conference this week in Toronto on vision care. Loss of vision due to poorly managed diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in this country. Considering that a very low-carb diet yields consistently excellent blood sugar control it makes sense that low-carb can have an impact in this area. I was thrilled that my presentation was the “warm-up act” for my good friend Gary Taubes. I gave my usual discourse on why I think we are using the wrong paradigm in our approach to conditions linked to insulin resistance – obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes – and why I think we need to add a low-carb diet to our therapeutic armamentarium.

It is always a pleasure to hear Gary speak. He gave a tour-de-force presentation on the history of the diabetic diet and how it has been influenced over the decades by a small group of prominent scientists whose evidentiary basis for steering diet recommendations was scant at best. Gary, in researching his excellent book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, has actually interviewed all the main characters who are still living and has an in-depth historical understanding of how we were so badly misled.

The highlight of that day, however, was lunch where I observed Gary struggling to have a hamburger (bunless of course) prepared to his liking and where we had some great conversation about family, friends, literature and, of course, diet. He has another book coming out soon. It is called, “Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It”, and will be released in December. You can pre-order it now on This will be a good book for people who found “Good Calories, Bad Calories” challenging and who want practical advice on diet. In the meantime, for those who are seeking guidance on doing a low-carb diet, I highly recommend “The New Atkins for a New You” by my friends Westman, Phinney and Volek.

8 thoughts on “Conferences and lunch with Gary Taubes

  1. It’s just the most remarkable thing that nobody can understand something as simple and basic as low carb. Of course if they did they would have to look at what they are eating and drinking as well as what it is doing to them as well as the rest of the world. It’s simple basic truth.

    I’m going to be able to get The Bunnell Farm Band and The Mexican Cowgirls going this winter. Both live and online and DVD.

    I’m looking forward to spreading the message of drugs and how bad they are for us and what drugs are, including sugar and hybrid carbohydrates and alcohol and caffeine and nicotine, as well as their effects on the human race.


    Nobody want’s to hear it but with really great entertainment and comedy they will listen. When they listen, they will see and they will hear and they will believe.

    Especially the children.

    Nothing else is possible.

    Anybody who listens and looks will believe this simple truth, there is no way not to believe such an obvious, factual, truth.

    I hope someday both you, Dr. Jay and Gary Taubes and myself and The Mexican Cowgirls can give presentations together for the whole world to see.

    This will all be common knowledge once the ball begins to roll.

    It’s so stupidly simple, we will wonder how we could have been so dumb for so long.

    Science can prove everything we are saying, explicitly.


    This is written by local writer/activist Winona LaDuke(Native American). — White Earth, Minnesota.

    It’s interesting, they dance all around hybridizing and it’s effects without focusing on same.

    The big picture is hybrid carbohydrates.

    The core in all this should be hybrid carbohydrates and the effects individually and globally, both past and present.

    I’m going to see if I can sit with her and a few others in her group and show them “My Big Fat Diet”.

    A while back I purchased a copy for group showings as well as an individual copy.

    I’m also going to rent our local theater and cultural center here for an evening and have a mass showing for our general public of all races to see.

    Somewhere around Christmas.

    I can do this with advertising and promotion included for about $500.

  3. Dr. Jay… ever do any work with the Canadian Diabetes Association? Oh how they need you 🙂 A friend of mine works there… it’s not all bad, but needs definite improvement.

    Dr Jay’s Reply:

    I have had contact with various people connected to the CDA over the years but I don’t feel like I’ve made much progress in getting them to consider a low-carb diet option for diabetics. I was actually a contributor to their last guidelines update in the Aboriginal section. If you look closely you will see the text makes reference to the fact that Aboriginal diets were lower in carbohydrates and therefore that a low-carb diet might be considered for them. That didn’t make it into the recommendations, however. At least in the US, the ADA has been including a low-carb diet as a valid option for weight loss, and they have now extended the time frame from 12 months to 24 months. I see this as evidence of some thawing of the ice in terms of resistance to low-carb. For whatever reason, the CDA has shown no sign of similar thawing.

  4. I heard Taubes being intereviewed on the CBC the other day. I was completely unimpressed. He was rude, unable to answer the (very civil but probing) questions) and instead resorted to ridicule. That spoke volumes.

    Dr Jay’s Reply:

    I happened to be in Toronto when Gary was there and had a late night visit with him prior to that interview. He is burning the candle at both ends and, I think, getting a little tired and frustrated with the constant barrage of mostly uninformed criticism of his work. For the most part, people choose to misunderstand his point and many have not even read his books when they bombard him with the same questions over and over again. I don’t blame him for getting a little testy at times. I presume you are mainly referring to his comments about Dr Yoni Freedhoff’s critique of the new book in which he said that Gary doesn’t think the First Law of Thermodynamics applies to humans or some such thing. This has to be frustrating for Gary as he knows Yoni and he devoted a significant portion of the book to just this issue. Either Yoni hadn’t read the book or had and didn’t understand it, neither of which stopped him from blogging this nonsense. After I listened to the interview, I felt badly for not having forewarned Gary that in Canada it is far, far more important to be nice than it is to be right.

    Bottom line : don’t let your personal reaction to Gary in that interview prevent you from benefitting from his exposition of the value of a low-carb diet.

  5. Hi All. I think that since the science is so painfully obvious that we’re all getting quite blue in the face. Perhaps we might put our attention on the political side of all this. To this end I’d like to recommend some reading to keep us all from going bonkers. I highly recommend “Death of the Liberal Class” and “Empire of Illusion” by American journalist Chris Hedges. Also, Shiv Chopra’s “Corrupt to the Core: Memoires of a Health Canada Whistleblower”. You can also find podcasts of interviews and lectures with Hedges at AllanGregg or TVO Big Ideas. Youtube also has video clips. He chronicles the dismal history of the corporate oligarchy that is behind all of this. We live in what he calls an “inverted totalitarianism” Suffice to say that science is not driving the bus in either government or the NGOs , especially in the field of Public Heath. But things are changing. Just a week or two ago, two Drs. on Dr.Oz came out and admitted that sugar and flour (metabolic syndrome) drives hypertension more than salt. Small triumphs!

    Dr Jay’s Reply:

    The anti-salt campaign makes sense for those who tend to retain salt. The problem is that we know why the kidney does this in most cases. Both a high fructose intake and a high glucose load cause the kidney to retain salt through different mechanisms. Fructose also inhibits nitric oxide mediated vascular control through the production of uric acid. A recent NHANES study from the US showed that rising blood pressure is correlated with fructose consumption but not salt consumption. It is looking more like advice to reduce fructose (and glucose for those who have insulin resistance) would be a more effective way to get blood pressure down.

  6. Dr. Jay, As we all know, insatiable thirst is a prime symptom of Type 2. I suspect, but I want to be sure, that it is caused by insulin driven sodium retention. Am I right? Also, one of the usual criticisms of an Atkins-like diet is that is hard on the liver and kidneys. This is odd because don’t diabetics make up the majority dialysis patients and fatty liver is the result of liver overloaded with carbohydrate?

    Dr Jay’s Reply:

    The thirst associated with diabetes is driven by high blood sugar. As sugar passes through the kidneys it takes water with it. Thus, an untreated diabetic will typically experience excessive urination as well as excessive thirst.

    The idea that the kidney is stressed by a low-carb diet is based on two misconceptions. One, that low-carb means high-protein; as you know it does not. Since increased protein consumption will put stress on a damaged kidney this could be a problem if (a) you have damaged kidneys and (b) you eat excessive protein. If you correctly follow a low-carb diet like Atkins you won’t eat excess protein so there should be no problem even if your kidneys are compromised. Secondly, a healthy kidney is not damaged by a high protein diet. This is a problem only if there is kidney damage to begin with.

    The liver is going to be active in converting fats to ketones and protein to glucose when you are eating a low-carb diet. As far as I know, this does not cause damage to the liver. On the other hand, a diet high in fructose will cause fatty deposits in the liver which is known as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This is becoming much more prevalent nowadays and is part of that whole continuum of chronic disease – obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease – that is driven by a high fructose, high refined carb diet.

  7. Here’s a letter I just wrote to the CBC.

    To atone for the deplorable “Village on a Diet” show which amounts to nothing more than weight-loss “snuff porn” I would love to see the CBC followup on what Dr. Du Toit in Valemont BC is doing with his patients. His very successful weight-loss program that we got a glimpse of on The National a few weeks ago where exercise is prohibited and people are safely and easily shedding pounds and keeping their dignity should be given serious attention. It would make a brilliant counterpoint to Villiage on a Diet. I know that Dr. Du Toit is corresponding with both Dr. Jay Wortman (My Big, Fat Diet) and Gary Taubes, author of “Good Claories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat” who has been interviewed both on Quirks and Quarks and Q.. So, repent for your sins CBC and do a feature report on a more humane way to attain health and wellness.

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