The BBC is promoting carbohydrate hysteria

One of Twitter’s odder subcultures warns you of its obsessive presence with the hashtag #LCHF. It stands for ‘low carb, high fat’ and its followers have remarkably strong feelings about carbohydrates. Why? Mostly because they used to be fat and then they gave up carbs. They are no longer fat and so, QED, carbs are the cause of obesity and people shouldn’t worry about calories or physical activity. Silly old scientists won’t admit this profound but hidden truth because they have been bought off by Big Grain or Big Pharma or something, but who needs scientists when you have personal testimony?

This rebadged version of the Atkin’s Diet works for many people, at least in the short term, but the conclusions of some of its disciples are based on magical thinking, rather like a cargo cult. People lose weight when they cut out the carbs because they are cutting out a lot of calories. Carbs are easily accessible and energy-dense. That has been their selling point for thousands of years. In a typical meal, the meat provides the protein, the vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals, and the carbs provide the calories (plus fibre, protein, B vitamins and flavour). People in every society on Earth bulk out their meals with bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles or whatever source of cheap carbohydrate is available to fill their stomachs and give them energy. If you cut these foods out of your diet or replace them with vegetables, there is a very good chance that you are going to lose weight.

A low carb diet is not an alternative to cutting down on calories. It is a way of cutting down on calories. It doesn’t guarantee weight loss because you could still gorge yourself on cheese and bacon, but it is so restrictive that you are likely to substitute lower calorie food in practice. In its purest form, it is a highly restrictive diet. A diet which forbade you from eating any food that begins with a letter between N and Z in the alphabet would have much the same effect.

The same magical thinking can be seen in the LCHF view of diabetes. It is well known that obesity increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, perhaps by a factor of seven. In recent years, it has also become accepted that the disease is reversible in some patients through intense weight loss. Since a highly restrictive diet like LCHF can lead to rapid weight loss, there are low carb enthusiasts who have seen their diabetes go into remission. With a little cargo cult science, it is easy to come to the conclusion that a low carb lifestyle is the cure for Type 2 diabetes and, by association, that carbohydrates are the cause of Type 2 diabetes.

This is not the conclusion that mainstream scientists have come to. Rather boringly, they prefer the more obvious interpretation that obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, that obesity is caused by excess calories, and that both obesity and diabetes can be addressed by creating a calorie deficit. This is not just their opinion. It is based on empirical evidence. For example, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition found no association between carbohydrate intake and body mass in its latest evidence review and, with regards to diabetes, it concluded…

No significant association was found between total carbohydrate intake as g/ day and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.86, 1.08 for each 70g/ day increase; p=0.5).

Now, I am as happy as the next man to believe that a scientific consensus can be wrong, but if it is a choice between trusting nutritional scientists on the one hand and a bunch of keyboard warriors and diet book salesmen on the other, I will go with the consensus.

You might also be expected to go with the consensus if you were a BBC executive commissioning a documentary about carbohydrates, especially if your programme was called ‘The Truth About Carbs’ rather than, say, ‘A Theory About Carbs’. But no. ‘The Truth About Carbs’, which was broadcast on BBC1 last week, was presented by Dr Xand van Tulleken, a medic who has written a diet book. He used to weigh 19 stone because, as he asserted it at the start of his programme, he loved eating carbs.

So began an hour of television which purported to show the benefits of a low carb diet but which actually showed the benefits of a reduced-calorie diet that is high in vegetables. First, van Tulleken split carbs into three categories of his own making: ‘beige carbs’ (pasta, rice, etc. which were portrayed as bad), ‘white carbs’ (refined sugar, which were portrayed as unspeakably bad), and ‘green carbs’ (fruit and veg, which were portrayed as being acceptable because they contain fibre).

He then tried to convince the viewer that beige carbs are really white carbs in disguise by having a dietitian explain how much energy is released into the human body by ingesting the likes of a jacket potato or a bowl of rice. The normal way of doing this would be to give the calorie count, but low carbers don’t believe in counting calories and so sugar cubes were used instead. Sugar cubes are often used to illustrate the amount of refined sugar that is added to fizzy drinks, but in this instance the sugar was neither refined nor added, nor even in the food. It was the amount of glucose produced naturally by the human body as part of the digestive process; a rather different proposition.

Members of the public were asked how many ‘sugar cubes’ were in various food products. The big reveal came when the dietitian explained that a jacket potato releases twice as much energy in the form of glucose as a chocolate muffin. ‘There’s 19 sugar cubes in this jacket potato,’ she declared, not entirely truthfully. A bowl of rice was shown to be even worse, with 20 quasi-sugar cubes. The effect on the members of the public was immediate and predictable. ‘It’s grains of sugar that we’re eating!’ said one. ‘I’m not eating rice no more,’ said another.

I don’t want to sound like a Reithian paternalist, but it seems irresponsible of the BBC to give its viewers the strong impression that a chocolate muffin is a healthier option than a bowl of rice. Aside from the other nutritional considerations, a chocolate muffin has at least 50 per cent more calories than a bowl of rice, and yet this went unmentioned by van Tulleken who concluded the segment by saying:

‘The thing that this really rams home for me is that there is a huge amount of energy in a potato, and that pile of glucose that your body will turn the potato into will be stored as fat unless you burn it off.’

There are about 250 calories in a jacket potato. Regardless of whether you consider this to be a ‘huge amount’ (it is only a tenth of an adult male’s recommended intake), energy from any type of food will be ‘stored as fat unless you burn it off’. This basic truth was never alluded to in The Truthiness About Carbs. How could it be? If van Tulleken had acknowledged the laws of thermodynamics he would have debunked his own programme.

The BBC’s intrepid truth-seeker then travelled north to visit Dr David Unwin who lives the low carb life and recommends his patients do likewise. Although the documentary offered no hint that Unwin was anything other than an ordinary family doctor, he is a controversial figure by his own admission. A low carb manifesto he co-authored in 2016 was widely criticised by scientists and was such an embarrassment to its publishers at the National Obesity Forum that its trustees issued a statement to ‘make it completely and transparently clear that they were not given the opportunity to see the document, or give any input into it’. Several of them resigned on principle. It would have been interesting to see Unwin respond to his critics. Instead, van Tulleken asked him softball questions like this:

Van Tulleken: ‘Is it fair to say that almost everyone in the UK is eating more carbs than they need and more carbs than is good for them?’

Unwin: ‘I think that’s probably fair.’

The less said about the rest of the programme, the better. Suffice to say that van Tulleken underwent a colonoscopy while interviewing a bowel cancer specialist and came away with the conclusion that low carb diets reduce bowel cancer risk despite the specialist saying nothing of the sort. He then got a chef to cook some redcued-calorie meals for a group of overweight people in Merseyside, telling him that their ‘lives depend on you seducing them with low carb food.’ Sure enough, after two weeks on a reduced calorie diet that was high in fruit and vegetables, they were healthier and had lost weight. Van Tulleken treated this as a near-miraculous demonstration of the dangers of carbohydrates. Eating well, he concluded, is about ‘counting the carbs, not the calories’.

Whatever public service broadcasting is, The Truth About Carbs was the opposite. Scientifically illiterate, wilfully misleading and ludicrously one-sided, it ensured that no matter how little the viewer knew about nutrition when they tuned in, they would know less about it by the time it was over.


  • Joan

    WELL. In July of 2017. it was discovered that I got type 2 diabetes, By the end of the July month. I was given a prescription for the Metformin, I stated with the some diet and followed it completely for several weeks but was unable to get my blood sugar below 140, Without results to how for my hard work. I really panicked and called my doctor. His response?? Deal with it yourself, I started to feel that something wasn’t right and do my own research, Then I found Lisa’s great blog (google ” How I freed myself from diabetes ” ) .. I read it from cover to cover and I started with the diet and by the next week. my blood sugar was 100, Since then. I get a fasting reading between the mid 70s and 80s, My doctor was very surprised at the results that. the next week. he took me off the Metformin drug, I lost 16 pounds in my first month and lost more than 3+ inches off my waist and I’m able to work out twice a day while still having lots of energy. The truth is that we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods..

    • StopDeletingMyPosts

      Well done Joan. I too was diagnosed T2D in 2016. The medical staff told me I faced a lifetime of drugs, failing eyesight, amputation and heart disease. I refused to accept that and researched the disease myself. I discovered the incredible work of Dr. Roy Taylor. I stopped my medication and did his 8 week vlcd diet to mimic the effects of a gastric bypass (hardest thing I’ve done in years), and in doing so shed virtually all my visceral fat, unclogging my beta cells and returning my blood sugars to 4.6mmol. They had been 16mmol when I was diagnosed. Since then I’ve followed lchf, absolutely love it, and my blood sugars have remained perfect. Two years of hba1c tests well under the diabetic level. Perfect cholesterol levels and textbook blood pressure. No drugs; just good food.
      Of course, the doctors still advise, even in the face of all the evidence, that I should eat more carbs and less fat. I just advise they go read Dr.Jason Fung’s books.

  • Arnold

    You seem fixated on the calorie count, but the truth of the matter is that different products, with the same number of calories, lead to different reactions in the body. Take for instance a (1)muffin, a (2)piece of cheddar cheese, a (3)glass of ethanol and a (4)glass of biodiesel. Same number of calories. In (1) you’ll probably be hungry again in an hour. In (2) you’ll feel satiated for longer, and you’ll have nutrients to build/repair muscles and tissues. In (3) you’ll get tipsy or drunk. In (4) you’ll get to the emergency room.

    • The Hooded Man

      You must mean A&E surely?

    • jakob

      This is exactly right but way, way beyond the author’s understanding of nutrition.

  • Cri Minale

    Clearly author has biased and very limited knoknowledge on nutrition and how our body derives energy from what we ingest. Anyone interested make their own research on Fasting/Keto diets
    The trick here is not only totally eliminating refined sugars and complex carbs but also having right amount of good low GI full of minerals and fibre carbs= Green VEGETABLES!….purge your body of carbs and sugar until you force body to produce keytones for energy by burning fat….now your metabolism will rocket and just keep active and hydrated and mineral balanced (potassium/sodium/magnesium) and weight will drop off!

    • Slithy Tove

      Absolutely right. This author hasn’t the faintest idea.

    • Stefano

      Agree 100%

    • Sarah Bradley

      The author is Christopher Snowden, who is part of the Institute of Economic Affairs, which is basically a front for industry 😒 https://iea.org.uk/christopher-snowdon/

      • Audra

        Makes sense, looking at his other articles. He likes to defend sugar, tobacco, and alcohol. And boy, does he hate the Low Carb High Fat diet.

    • Thomas Jones

      You can’t even spell ketones correctly, also all that saturated fat affects the cell negatively, go do your research.

  • Cri Minale

    Totally miss the point it is all about glycogen vs. Keytones……blood sugar levels and chronic insulin spikes leading to resistance and diabetes…..sugars/toxins/gluten and other crap that is in almost all branded packaged food! Sadly the average in UK used to be “Overfed and undernourished”
    Now it is certainly “Disinformed and Poisoned”!!!

  • Cri Minale

    Also fruits / green vegetables/ legumes and starchy vegetables are all completely different regarding how they affect sugar levels hence not to be put in same category as good carbs cause really only green vegetables are with some exceptions if we are looking at minerals vitamins fibre plus low net carb count

  • Patrick Kniesler

    “Scientifically illiterate, wilfully misleading and ludicrously one-sided” encapsulated my opinion of this article nicely. Thanks for having that available in the last bit.

    • Edgar Uncumber

      The article will please that section of the readership that is pompous, narrow-minded and reactionary.

  • Lydia Morgan

    This is actually bs.
    Science has more factual studies on ketosis being how our bodies should be fuelled.
    Babies are born in ketosis and stay that way if they are breastfed until WE feed them the wrong things.
    We should not be eating high carb and have only been doing so for about 150 years.

    The author of this article has clearly zero clue about scientific fact or nutrition. Ketosis is about health and not weight loss.
    And many studies have proven it to cure all kinds of disease and ailments in a matter of weeks.

    I mean just Google Tim Noakes. Top scientist In South Africa and the world. I suppose he just biased ?

    I think this article is vile.
    If people can be helped with a ketosis diet then they should entitled to that information.

    • Thomas Jones

      Ever been to Tanzania to see the Hadza tribe? There the babies are born 100% vaginally they receive therefore the microbes from their birth mother as they move into the world from inside the body. These microbes immediately strengthen their immune system and gut microbiome, it’s not about ketosis when it comes to babies health FFS!! The Hadza consume lots of potatoes and other tubers, and kilos of fresh honey, lots of fruits, half a kilo of fibre per week, and even eat roasted colon tubes. Man has always consumed sugar, fats, protein, is Noakes God???

      • WimsThePhoenix

        Yes Noakes is God, if that means enlightenment. Do a bit of research.

        • Thomas Jones

          Noakes? The one who told people to carb load in his book “The Lore of Running”? The same man who himself has diabetes, and how promotes a diet written by an Undertaker in 1863. Sure!

          • Liz Trekkiemaiden Morgan

            Yup the very same – he tore his own book up in front of the camera – because he accepts he was wrong – back then!!

          • Thomas Jones

            Nice stunt, he wants to sell his books about a diet from 1863.

      • Penelope Wincett

        Ever heard of the Masai of East Africa, the Inuit of the Arctic, or the bison people of the North American Great Plains? Typical daily intake of a Masai warrior-class male: 1.2 kg of meat, 2 liters of full-cream milk, 50 ml of blood. The Inuit diet derived 15% of calories from protein, over 80% from fat, the balance from carbohydrate (from glycogen in the meat).

        Christopher Snowdon brings all the nutritional expertise, insight, and critical analysis one would expect of a degree in history.

        • Slithy Tove

          And then not even that, but he seems to have fooled the people at the Spectator for too long.

        • Thomas Jones

          Yes, I know about them, of course blood and milk aren’t the only things Maasai eat; the diet has always been supplemented with tubers, honey, and foraged plants that are most often used in soups and stews. More recently, Maasai have supplemented their diet with grains and maize-meal (and of course many modern Maasai live an urban lifestyle, with the more varied diet that entails). They still play an important role in many Maasai meals, however; for example, ugali (a thick maize-based porridge that serves as a staple food throughout Tanzania) is generally served with milk in Maasai households.

      • Audra

        “it’s not about ketosis when it comes to babies health” so you say. Didn’t you know babies eat a ketogenic diet? It’s called breastmilk! Ketosis is an integral part of early childhood brain development.

        • Thomas Jones

          Not all babies are breast fed!!!

          • Audra

            How many in the Hadza Tribe aren’t breastfed?

          • Thomas Jones

            Where did you write about Hadza babies in your previous comment????

          • Audra

            I repeat: How many in the Hadza Tribe aren’t breastfed?

            YOU were speaking of glorious health of the Hadza Tribe and stated, as I quoted, “it’s not about ketosis when it comes to babies health.”

            Breastmilk is a ketogenic food. If you want to start saying formula and breastmilk are equivalent, please go read a book.

          • Thomas Jones

            The discussion wasn’t about babies and breast milk. You are a complete weirdo, go and ogle some breasts if that floats your boat! Lunatic!

          • Audra

            You have difficulty accepting the fact that you were wrong about something. Unfortunately, this is a significant handicap to acquiring new knowledge. It will keep you both proud and ignorant.

          • Thomas Jones

            No love, you are the one who insists on discussing babies and breastmilk. The hadza do not know about ketosis, and I mentioned the fact they consume plenty of honey and loads of fibre and consume lean meats and many tubers. It’s the polar opposite of ketosis and Banting diet bunkum. Noakes was rightly taken to court for telling a mother to give her baby a ketogenic diet. The man is a crook and snake oil seller….enjoy your ignorance and white pride.

          • Audra

            The Hadza are a hunter-gatherer tribe with no agriculture. They do not consume legumes or grains, and they eat a wide variety of animals nose-to-tail. When people consume the entire animal, it is not considered “lean meats,” like the stripped muscle meats that we consume in Western society in our misguided efforts to avoid cholesterol and saturated fat. In reality, this diet is very well-aligned with Noakes advice to eat real, whole, nutrient dense food.

            And, as a side note, there is no doubt that hunter-gatherer peoples practice both exclusive early and extended breastfeeding for years. There is no such thing as processed “baby food.” Babies start their lives in ketosis, allowing for optimal brain development. Nutritional ketosis is clearly a normal human state if the first and perfect human food for life is ketogenic.

            I’m ever grateful for the wisdom and knowledge shared by people like Tim Noakes. People who have suffered and gotten sicker while trying to follow the misguided, industry-based mainstream guidelines, and had no choice but to search deeper for answers. The many people fighting for and sharing the LCHF way of eating have nothing to sell–there are no products to sell when people eat fresh, real, whole foods from nature. LCHF advocates have suffered themselves or work with sick patients on a daily basis. They have seen the transformative effect of the diet firsthand. And they are, therefore, motivated by compassion for the vast human suffering instigated by the ignorance and profiteering of mainstream nutrition guidelines.

          • Thomas Jones

            You think you are the only one who knows what the Hadza eat?

            It’s funny how you ignore the fact that they consume mostly honey in the wet months, yes , honey!! Honey from trees high up above the ground, and they also consume baobab for breakfast, kongoroberries during the day as as well as tubers, many leafy plants, and when an animal is killed the intestinal contents are rubbed all over the arms and faces for a healthy skin microbiome.

            Tim Noakes is a snake oil seller and you are his prize customer. Quite clearly nutritional ketosis is not the normal human state, it’s a backup should man not find carbohydrates!!!

            LCHF advocates have books and products to sell, ever heard of low carb cruises with speakers? You are one deluded and arrogant fool…enjoy your starvation diet.

          • Audra

            So what if the Hadza consume naturally occurring carbohydrates? More active people can tolerate higher amounts of carbohydrates, and I doubt they have the capacity to consume them in such excess as is readily available in Western culture. While the carbohydrates offer energy, the vast majority of the protein, fat, and micronutrients necessary for sustaining life is found in the animal foods they consume. And they certainly don’t avoid saturated fat by any stretch.

            Yes, I’ve been eating a LCHF for 5 yrs now. I’m healthier and leaner now than I was in high school. My lipid panel is perfect, and my waistline is 26 inches (meaning no excess visceral fat). People assume I’m 10 yrs younger and are always shocked to know I have four children. Thank you, I do enjoy the diet very much, and I will continue to do so. You can threaten me and call me names, but you have to live with the consequences of your own dietary choices.

          • Thomas Jones

            Everyone except this born with T1D can tolerate high amounts of carb, it’s the balance of energy and macro-nutrients that matter. actually animals aren’t easy to hunt, so instead plants/honey/ tubers are main sources of nutrients. Did you know that saturated fat affects the fluidity of the cell membranes??? Time to ditch the saturated fat and consume flax seed oil, and consume little butter, aim for margarine..they contain omega 3 which are important for the cells.

            Please start eating healthily and put on some fat, your shape is not healthy.

          • Audra

            I’m sorry, you lost me at “margarine.” Disgusting, toxic, refined, bleached, deodorized, industrial oil. Good day to you, sir.

          • Thomas Jones

            It served us well in the second world war!! You are a useless Nurse, stick to what you know, and not what you don’t, read up on saturated fats and cell fluidity..learn something.

            Oh and you have an eating disorder, get some help!!!!!!

          • Thomas Jones

            You eat “Beyond Chicken” and yet you slate margarine?? How hilarious.

          • Audra

            WTF is “Beyond Chicken”?

          • Thomas Jones

            Look at your Twitter photos!

          • Thomas Jones

            For you, so much healthier for your cells than butter and coconut oil……http://www.flora.com/article/detail/1104230/whats-in-flora

          • Audra

            I’m sorry, sir, but you are not going to convince me to eat margarine. They should be paying you for your advertising 😉

          • Thomas Jones
          • r jones

            They probably are. Seriously.

          • r jones

            Seriously? You link to a happy-clappy Unilever PR page by way of “evidence”?

            I notice they don’t mention the various industrial processes that those “natural” oils and spreads go through, do they? The hexane treatment and subsequent desolventizing. The drying, bleaching, neutralization, deodorization and degumming…the additives to prevent the whole shebang going rancid on the shelf…

            Funny how Flora forgets to mention details like that, isn’t it?

            But then food oil shills aren’t sticklers for details, are they?

            For example, you “forget” to mention that Columbia’s study found that “adding unsaturated fatty acids could ‘melt’ the membrane islands frozen by saturated fatty acids.”

            So, it’s fortunate that people following a LCHF diet include copious amounts of fatty fish, busting with omega 3, avocados, olives, nuts, olive oil etc etc.

            They don’t JUST eat saturated fats, do they?

            You “forgot” to mention that, didn’t you?

          • Thomas Jones

            Wow, another self proclaiming expert.
            It’s a scientific fact that saturated fats affect the fluidity of the cell membrane negatively, and I doubt you understand much about bio-chemistry anyway, in which case the study was wasted on you, plus you have a severe eating disorder..Orthorexia..please seek help immediately.

          • r jones

            No, not an expert, by any means.

            Which is why I quoted the synopsis of Dr Min’s study word for word.

            You know. The study YOU quoted with a flourish, but presumably haven’t read.

            But then, juvenile trolling is more your area of interest, isn’t it, love?

          • Thomas Jones

            Juvenile? You are the one with the Star Wars profile photo, you didn’t know that saturated fats affect the fluidity of the cell membrane, and the Columbia study was the first you hear of the problem with saturated fats. LCHF is really unhealthy, what on earth made you follow such a lunatic way of eating? Don’t you want to listen to solid science??? I am not your mate.

          • r jones

            No, I wasn’t aware of this single study, but with even a cursory glance at the results it’s clear this might only be a problem if someone was ONLY consuming saturated fats, and not a mixture of saturated fats and unsaturated fats, which is what the LCHF way of eating is all about.

            Perhaps you need to go back to digesting your little study properly before pontificating on it.

            Just a suggestion. In the name of solid science and stuff, mate.

          • Thomas Jones

            A high fat diet also means high in saturated fat, i.e coconut oil, butter, olive oil is rich in saturated fats, the fact that it’s not just sat fat but also unsaturated doesn’t excuse the absurdity of a high fat diet. Take a look at The Hadza in Tanzania, they consume copious amounts of fresh honey, kongoro berries, some lean animals, plenty of potatoes/tubers every day, hundreds of different plants, and they have no metabolic diseases, no diabetes, they walk more than us, but not that much more, shove that up your khazi!!! mate!!!!

          • r jones

            “the fact that it’s not just sat fat but also unsaturated doesn’t excuse the absurdity of a high fat diet. ”

            Not according to the conclusion of the U.Columbia study *you* cited, which indicates that the lipotoxicity of SFAs is counteracted by UFAs, but what would they know compared to you?

            Awkward.
            For your khazi, I mean.

          • Thomas Jones

            You are a lchf evangelist, as bad as a vegan terrorist. one cannot reason with your kind, enjoy your coconut oil, kerrygold butters, olive oils, animal fat…enjoy a cellular death.

          • r jones

            Ahhh…the juvenile ad-hominem tactic again. Not gonna work, duck. Sorry.

            Please ensure that the studies you cite in future actually prove what you want them to prove.

            Then we can have a reasoned debate.

          • Thomas Jones

            I don’t waste my time on cretins likes you, enjoy your shitty diet.

          • r jones

            You enjoy dishing it out, but you can’t take it ONE little bit, can you?

          • Thomas Jones

            You sound like a pervert, euughh!

          • r jones

            You sound like an angry little man drowning in defeat.

            Chill out. Have a nice up of coffee with a nice dollop of coconut oil. The experience might make you a nicer person.

          • Thomas Jones

            Little? 200 pounds and lift heavy weights? Sure. COCONUT OIL? Flax seed oil beats that every time, or even better drink black coffee without any oils!

          • r jones

            Ad hominem silliness = you concede, then.

          • r jones

            Cheap ad-hominem again. Tsk.

          • Thomas Jones

            I see you are a nurse, and you are thin. Did you know what a diet rich in saturated fat does to the fluidity of the cell membrane? No? Go do your research. I hope you never discuss diet with kids or patients, I shall report you to the Georgia health authorities. Fool!

  • gargi

    awful article. pls dont use this guy again. dont agree with anything he says. could he not see the evidence of it working.totally misses the point. the bbc and media for years and years have been spouting the same dogma this person been rattiling on about. finally bbc and media waking up. I hope you dont give him another platform pls. he has no nutrition cedentials at all…rubbish article

    • StopDeletingMyPosts

      Still, it gives me hope. He must have been paid a fair bit for writing this despite having about as much knowledge of the subject as a dead ant. If he can get a nice earner like this then non-morons should be able to make much more 🙂

  • gargi

    christ…I have seen the no of articles this guy is writing for you…you really need to get some evidence based person on other side of coin to do articles on same topic.

  • Blammo

    “…but if it is a choice between trusting nutritional scientists on the one hand and a bunch of keyboard warriors and diet book salesmen on the other, I will go with the consensus.”

    The author could not be more uninformed if he tried

    • Maria H

      Fortunately Tim Noakes has been fighting this nutrition battle for us . The entire nutrition trial took place in depositions in South Africa and is available on you tube. Look up Tim.Noakes deposition . Despite efforts to shut him up twice by the Medical Association of South Africa too embarrassed to admit that the high carb low fat advice has been killing people. Tim WON both the initial trial and the subsequent appeal on ALL counts.

      • Blammo

        Yes I’ve been following Tim Noakes for several years.

        Other people of note are Dr Zoe Harcombe, Dr Aseem Malhotra (who was subject of another hatchet job by this particular author), Dr RanJan Chatterjee, Gary Taubes, Nina Teicholz, and the Nutrition Coalition

        • lolexplosm

          Dr (PhD) Harcombe? You mean author of candida quackery diet books? https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/candida-and-fake-illnesses/

          Who thinks fibre is not beneficial and may actually cause cancer based on no real evidence whatsoever?

          Don’t get me started on the rest.

          • Blammo

            Lol, now who sounds like a cultist?

  • NoobSighBot

    This is a terrible article. Author goes on a barely coherent rant armed with primary school science on a topic he has very little understanding of.

  • WimsThePhoenix

    Someone who studied history is in no position to pontificate about nutrition. Judging by his Wikipedia photo, it would do Snowdon no harm to try an lchf diet.

  • grizewald

    How strange that all of the people objecting to this article can only muster ad hominem attacks and anecdotes.

    If just one of you were able to link to peer reviewed studies that pass the bar for accepted levels of scientific proof, you might be able to raise some doubt. Sadly, all I see here is the familiar tabloid level of debate.

  • Mr Right

    you may take offence to my comment but you haven’t a clue about what you’re talking about . seriously poor article. In fact i would say delete this harmful garbage if you care about people’s health. Oh and educate yourself on basic endocrinology if you want to benefit others

  • Andrew Sproston

    http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/Christopher_Snowdon

    Yeah I believe you inversely to the amount of tobacco and good funding you receive.

  • Someone

    As most commentators on the site have already noted, the author of this piece does not know what he’s talking about. The lchc diet is so much more complicated than the Atkins diet that it is really sad to see what was actually a pretty poor BBC documentary on the grounds of scientific content dismissed for all the wrong reasons.

  • Dave Gale

    What utter bollox.

  • Lokesh Soni

    I agree with every point made in this excellent article and was discussing exactly these points after watching the programme.
    Likening carbs to sugar is totally ridiculous. The effect on a public, who don’t know whom to believe when it comes to nutrition, could be profoundly bad. People look to the BBC as the standard bearer of cutting edge, well balanced, information. Anyone with knowledge of nutrition would’ve known how appallingly bad this programme was. It makes you think what could be the motivation for the programmes creators.
    It’s not that the programme promotes the ketogenic diet that’s the problem. It’s the bad science and the complete destruction of carbs as a food group.
    The program says that excess carbs turn into fat. What does excess fat turn into?
    I felt shame for the BBC watching this programme. And feel even sadder for those viewers that will be influenced by this poor program.
    Thanks for this great article.

    • Slithy Tove

      Plainly someone else with about as much knowledge as the author. That means zero.
      Excess carbs taken in will be turned into fat if not used by way of exercise. That’s why we get fat. Excess fat ‘turns into’ the blubber stored around your waist and internal organs.

    • Maria H

      SUCH a pity you cannot view this with an open mind . If you find yourself with diabetes PLEASE take another look and in the meantime please do not let your bias atop others that you know benefit from the knowledge in the BBC program.

    • Cri Minale

      The destruction no but the total overhaul and classification of Carbs is a Must…..it is GMO/ super refined and toxic grains produced in the cheapest way possible that should be banned as well as extra sugar everywhere….Our body will produce carbs from protein and scientifically we need only relatively small amounts of carbs as stored in muscle and as glutamate in the brain!….that is all……you are deluded if you still believe that Humans need to eat the recommended amounts of carbs from grains which has been the downfall of nutrition and promoting obesity epidemic, insulin resistance and diabetes…..as well as making Food corporations/bakers and the Pharmas pumping medicines to compound/ worsen problems caused by poor & toxic nutrition very very rich….again!!

      • lolexplosm

        [citations needed]

        Also the brain has significantly lower storage capacity than say muscle and it’s certainly not glutamate. Besides that it prefers to use glucose.

        • StopDeletingMyPosts

          gluconeogenesis.

    • Blammo

      “It’s the bad science and the complete destruction of carbs as a food group.”…

      Except that’s specifically what the program in question *didn’t* do; the doctor presenting the program put carbs into different categories. Beige carbs (low in fibre) being at best unhelpful and at worst a significant contributing factor to T2 diabetes (amongst other things) , and green carbs (high in fibre) being ones which you can eat freely.

    • No one is destroying or demonizing carbs as a food group.

      The clue is in the name – Low Carb, not No Carb. Eat less of them and eat the healthy ones.

      • Slithy Tove

        When people have already set their minds on their view being the only view worth having, thern it’s usually pointless to try to convince them to an opposing view.
        But you’re right, low carb is the key. There are Zero Carb-ers but for m, that’s a little extreme. However, what works for you works for you. There are no rights and wrongs.
        A low carb eating lifestyle certainly worked for me.

    • Liz Trekkiemaiden Morgan

      There is no nutritional requirement for eating any carbohydrates. The body can create sufficient glucose from meat to feed the organs that need it (eyes, parts of the brain etc) – the rest runs better/cleaner on ketones than glucose – it is the bodies lazy option to utitlise if they are offered. That’s how man survived the thousands of years through the ice age with virtually no carb to eat. There are wise carb choices and poor carb choices. The point is that schools, and the NHS promote a carb based diet as the healthy diet, and in the 60 or so years they have been doing this, the world’s health – and weight has taken a nose dive. Big Pharma, Big Agro, and Big Food all have fingers in this dirty pot – it’s time to change.

  • Slithy Tove

    Of course, the doubters will say that what follows is purely anecdotal, and it is. It is also true.
    In May last year, at 102 kgs I went on the LCHF diet. I even gave up beer after 20+years. I have moderate to bad OA in both knees, exacerbated by my weight and my specialist (the leading knee replacement specialist here in Thailand) said I needed to lose at least 20 kgs. I thought that it would be impossible.
    When I saw him in February 2017 my weight was 102 kgs, my blood pressure was 145/95 and my heart rate about 88 bpm. I don’t smoke. I am 69 years old.
    I started LCHF at 15-20 grams carb per day and by July I had lost 12 kgs and felt very well. My Thai GP remarked on the difference, but it was when I went back to the UK and had a checkup at my GP there that the practice nurse was astonished and so was I.
    Not only had I lost 12 kgs in 2 months (good going at my age), but my BP was 100/60!! The nurse was so surprised that she took it again the old fashioned way. It was the same. My heart rate was reduced from 88 to 72. All my blood tests came back perfect – no raised glucose – except that my cholesterol was 10% up, possibly because of my preference for fried belly pork and duck eggs. However the ratios between total, LDL and HDL were perfect as was that for triglycerides.
    Almost a year on and I have lost 25 kgs, a quarter of my starting body weight. My BMI is down from 34 to 25.2 and I don’t need to take Arcoxia for the pain in my knees and lower back.
    Something is working properly and it’s not due to listening to people like Christopher Snowdon who write ignorant junk like this article..

    • lolexplosm

      Fantastic news that you took control of your health and achieved your aims despite your doubts. However, as the author suggests in his junk article, we can’t assume this is solely down to low carb intake. You gave up beer for example, alcohol is terrible for metabolism and calorific. I don’t want to take away from your success but we can’t use an anecdote as evidence for the general public to go low carb.

      • Slithy Tove

        Thanks for your kind remarks but, but but er, I do think you need to reconsider your remarks about beer being ‘terrible’ etc. It is,partly for the reason you mentioned but also the fact that isn’t just calorific, it’s ‘CARB-orific’ and that’s the crux.
        I was drinking 3 or 4 large bottles of beer a day (remember I’m in a tropical climate) before I stopped and it’s 25 grams of carb per bottle – that is up to ONE HUNDRED grams of carb every night whereas I reduced my intake to about 15-20% of that per DAY.
        And whilst I agree that just one anecdote isn’t a reason for the Government to persuade the public to go low-carb, if like me, you were a member of 9 or 10 low carb internet groups and forums, you could multiply my anecdote by quite a few thousand – and that’s only the people on the groups. There are many similar stories to mine – people who have eg, reversed their diabetes and/or brought other serious ailments under control.
        I have to say that your post makes me think you are either a dietician or perhaps a GP, still welded to the old way of thinking about weight loss. That, thankfully, is slowly changing and not soon enough either..

      • Lokesh Soni

        It has to be said that Ketosis works fabulously well for weight loss (so does cocaine), but long term it’s hard to impossible to make it work.
        Amazing that Slithy’s BP improved so dramatically as well.
        However please feel this next question. Is it really bad / unnatural to eat a slice or 3 of watermelon? 2 or more bananas in a day?
        What about the garden of Eden? Was it just one apple a day?
        The idea that carbs = sugar for the layperson will come across as fruit is bad for you. The ketogenic diet restricts fruit, one of the things that torments my friends who’ve tried Keto long term.
        The ketogenic diet is a fasting mimicking diet. Which is therapeutic to a point, as Slithy has proved with himself. The longest a person has been recorded to water fast is over 1 year (0 calories). This means the person was running purely on ketones.
        It can be useful for a while but ultimately natures perfect food for us is Fruit. To deny that and all the phytonutrients and vitamins (particularly vitamin C, something we absolutely must get from diet as we are one of the few species that can manufacture it within our bodies) is utterly ridiculous. It’s born of folks who think too much and are unable to feel, or look into nature, for answers.

        • Slithy Tove

          No-one is denying (least of all me) that fruit is a food that can be good for you. However, you forget that we are talking here of a ketogenic diet (restricting the intake of carbohydrate so as to promote ketosis) and sadly fruit contains natural sugars (fructose) which are by nature, carbohydrates.
          Intake of the fructose in fruit, or any other type of sugar not just the white stuff on a spoon, negates the entire point of a ketogenic diet. It’s sad, because I enjoy fruit, but I prefer my healthier, slimmer body so am happy to forego fruit until I reach my goal weight.
          Fruit is NOT a ‘superfood’ (a ridiculous term invented by journalists as bad as the one who wrote this article) and eating too much of it, like any other food, will negate any weight loss effects.
          As in all walks of life, moderation is the key.

          • Lokesh Soni

            Hi Slithy,
            I don’t want to get your back up on this, but I can see youre heavily in the Keto camp. If you are doing the keto diet then obviously you can’t have more than 50grams or so of carbohydrate.
            That wasn’t the point of this ‘doc’, the point was ‘the truth about Carbohydrates’ (to the layperson it would have come across as ‘the truth about food’).
            If you were to eat 80% carbohydrate (a true high carb diet) you would also see dramatic weight loss, not as dramatic as on Keto, but dramatic nonetheless.
            On a keto diet you would have to restrict watermelon consumption to a few cubes, or 1 piece of fruit.
            This is an important question to ask / feel;
            do you think it’s unnatural for man to eat several pieces of fruit a day. Would eating more than a few pieces in a day be regarded as unhealthy?
            Also can oils, extracted cold fats be called food? Do you think it’s healthy to eat 300 or so calories from coconut oil alone?
            Does a normal diet for man require him to take an array of supplements to stay alive?
            I wouldn’t say Fruit is a ‘superfood’, however can you think of a more perfect food for man that nature provides? Ever wonder why all children love sweet, colourful foods?
            Love

          • Rajeev Samuel

            Why don’t you try sniffing asbestos a few times a day and let’s discuss in 10 years?

        • Liz Trekkiemaiden Morgan

          The human body metabolism was intended to eat fruit a) seasonally and b) not the super sweet fruit that fills our supermarket shelves in this day and age. The fruits have been selected over the last 60 years to be sweeter and larger than ever before and that means fructose – which is worse in many ways than glucose. And at the same time because of modern agricultural practices they have actually less nutrients than of old. And we have access to them all year round.

          • Lokesh Soni

            Everything has been hybridised. The animals eaten today are inseminated unnaturally, fed a GMO ladened diet of foods that would be unnatural in.nature but contain ‘good protein’s (e.g. Soy). Industrial (and non industrial animals) are provided with abundant antibiotics and steroids. These are not wild animals people are eating. It’s not game meat and contains far higher levels of Fat than any wild animal would come close too.
            Humans are one of the few animals that can’t produce its own vitamin C. See much obtaining from diet. Fruits (and vegetables) come loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols which are ‘essential’ to the functioning of the human body.
            You are correct in saying that modern day fruits have been hybridised to be sweeter than we would have had in nature.
            It’s also true that today’s ‘low fat diet’ proponents are talking about a diet with 10-15% calories from fat rather than 35% plus previously recommended as a low fat diet. This is an important difference. It also omits use of almost all extracted oils (like extracted refined sugar, is a harmful product, perhaps more so).
            Do you really believe that arteries get clogged up because of carbohydrates? Why does the body (and the brain) prefer to use glucose as a fuel source, only moving towards ketosis when glucose supplies are diminished?
            Just some thoughts for you.
            Thanks

      • Slithy Tove

        For some reason, the reply which I made yesterday was marked as spam and not posted.
        I have cut and pasted it and hopefully it will this time –

        Thanks for your kind remarks but, but but er, it is SOLELY down to low carb intake. That will, of course affect calorie intake, but is the only thing I have changed and I have been extremely structured and rigorous about it.
        I weigh myself daily first thing in the morning after the loo, I weigh all my food for every meal to the gram and keep a meticulous daily food diary for all this time. I have discovered reserves of will-power I thought I didn’t have. That’s the biggest factor of all for me – the ability to stick to a different lifestyle and not revert to a more damaging one. .
        I do think you need to reconsider your remarks about beer being ‘terrible’ etc. It isn’t much good for anyone, partly for the reason you mentioned but also the fact that isn’t just calorific, it’s ‘CARB-orific’ and that’s the crux.
        I was drinking 3 or 4 large bottles of beer a day (remember I’m in a tropical climate) before I stopped and it’s 25 grams of carb per bottle – that is up to ONE HUNDRED grams of carb every night just in beer, whereas I reduced my intake to about 15-20% of that per DAY.
        And whilst I agree that just one anecdote isn’t a reason for the Government to persuade the entire public to go low-carb, if like me, you were a member of something like a dozen low carb internet groups and forums, you could multiply my anecdote by quite a few thousand – and that’s only the people on the groups. There are many similar stories to mine – people who have eg, reversed their diabetes and/or brought other serious ailments under control.
        I have to say that your post makes me think you are either a dietician, or perhaps a GP, still welded to the old way of UK thinking about weight loss. That, thankfully, is slowly changing and not soon enough either.
        Living abroad has exposed me to other, less rosy, views of UK medicine which outside the country is often viewed as very conservative in many areas. That is why I am prepared to explore other less mainstream avenues and have very often been proved right.

  • lolexplosm

    Ah the cultists descend. How dare anyone question or have a different opinion to the LCHF way. He must be wrong, a shill, should be fat shamed, is stupid etc I.e every ad hom under the sun. If you think this program was infallible and flawless, your confirmation bias is far too strong. Many diet and nutrition professionals have taken issue with this program and it will probably confuse the public further.

    A letter pointing out some of the criticisms –
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_X8f34YFQaNVWcGxuwdg7sTkepRdAmiB/view

    Low/zero carb diets have a place, it’s not a lifestyle everybody needs that guarantees to cure all obesity, T2 diabetes etc. This should all be discussed with your relevant healthcare professional. We do not need to stop eating rice because it’s allegedly like eating sugar cubes or whatever. And don’t get me started on the Big Food/Grain/Sugar/Pharma consipiracy theories the salesmen like to peddle.

    • Blammo

      No, not “how dare”, just how can anyone write such a paper thin rebuttal of something they obviously haven’t researched in any serious depth.

      • lolexplosm

        Not much was needed to rebuke this program.

        • Blammo

          Which you’ve been unable to do so far I see.

          • lolexplosm

            Yeah because any evidence and such that I post will cause everyone to reconsider their opinions…

          • Blammo

            Apologies, I assumed you were here to enlighten us with your superior knowledge and understanding. But you’re just here to troll badly I now realise

          • lolexplosm

            I’m not that arrogant, don’t paint it as if a discussion with those of a different opinion is trying to enlighten them and being superior.

            I just can’t think why people think being told a bowl of rice or a jacket potato is the same as 20 or so sugar cubes is perfectly acceptable and neither can many diet and nutrition professionals.

          • Try wearing a blood glucose monitor and measuring the reaction from eating them.

          • Slithy Tove

            Quite.

        • Slithy Tove

          Nor refute.

  • BeckyInTX

    LCHF was originated in Sweden. Totally unrelated to Atkins. Author needs a fact check.

  • Rajeev Samuel

    Carbohydrates cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, IBS, ALS, MS, Parkinson, heart disease, liver disease, autism, and the list is growing and growing and growing.

    • lolexplosm

      [citations needed]

      • Rajeev Samuel

        H t t p : / / w w w . G o o g l e . C o m

      • Slithy Tove

        Yes, I agree with you there. Blanket expositions of ‘fact’ need to be backed up with references.

  • Edgar Uncumber

    This article struck me as shallow and silly.

    In a number of ways it is factually misleading. The first is to claim that the benefits of LCHF have no evidentiary base, that it is “cargo cult science”. Snowdon uses one report, from the SACN, to claim that scientists have found no link between carbohydrate intake and type 2 diabetes. But the SACN report was published three years ago, and the studies it relied on were carried out before 2013. It’s using data that are five and more years old.

    Meanwhile, the scientific debate around carbs is right now the hottest and most polarising topic in nutritional science. More recent studies, such as this – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29178536, published December 2017 – do find a beneficial link between low carb intake and type 2 diabetes. Other such studies are emerging all the time.

    Doctors, rightly, are catching on to the benefits, too. Snowdon fails to mention that, as the documentary reports, the Royal College of General Practitioners will shortly be recommending LCHF as a way of managing type 2 diabetes. Snowdon has been incurious and sloppy.

    He also puts great store by the idea that LCHF is a highly restrictive diet, and that any benefits result from the mere reduction in calories. There is probably some truth in this, but his point of departure – that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ – misrepresents how we actually metabolise the macronutrients of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

    Unlike fat and protein, carbohydrates turn immediately into glucose in the bloodstream. To protect our bodies from corrosive levels of glucose, insulin turns it into fuel for immediate use (glycogen) and then, whatever glycogen is not burned up right away, insulin turns it into fat (triglycerides) to be stored for later. So anxious is insulin to get rid of glucose that it also inhibits the availability of fat as fuel, so that all the glycogen gets burned up. In this way, carbs contribute to the build-up of not-immediately-necessary fat.

    There is another important characteristic of carbs that contradict the ‘a calorie is a calorie’ thesis. It is that carbs stimulate the appetite for more carbs. A high-carb meal causes a spike in your blood sugar level, and when that level crashes you feel the need for more carbs. Research shows that abrupt spikes and falls in blood sugar activate parts of the brain involved in hunger, craving and reward. [ https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/how-carbs-can-trigger-food-cravings/ ]

    When eating protein, fat and complex carbs, on the other hand, you feel satiated for longer. My own experience is that, on a high-carb diet, I would eat a substantial snack or meal every two hours to satisfy hunger pangs. Now I go six, eight or more hours with no hardship. I also eat less because protein and fat make you fuller, quicker. So, 50 calories of chicken and 50 calories of rice have very different effects.This is why people on an LCHF regime find it very easy to lose weight. Studies back this up: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets#section3.

    “Restrictive” is also subjective and biased. My own perspective is that, having lost 8kg in three months on LCHF, I’ve never enjoyed my food more; my diet is varied and delicious.

  • Nick

    This author should be embarrassed with his lack of nutritional knowledge and with his general ignorance on the subject matter he is discussing! Like others have said, he totally misses the point with regards to glucose and ketones! What a joke!
    We have essential fats, essential protiens… but NO essential carbohydrate! What BS! Our bodies were designed to be in ketosis! We literally have a carb addiction epidemic on our hands at the moment.

  • What a nasty piece of work.

    To describe Dr Unwin so shoddily is a gross thing; especially when you could see in this documentary that his program is working for many real people; reversing diabetes and saving the NHS a huge sum of money. He is so well regarded that his program is being distributed to all British GPs to offer as a choice to all type 2 diabetics. Perhaps that success does not impress the author; perhaps the author could do better himself?

    The author’s real IEA agenda is all to clear, and that’s fair enough. But he undermines it by the use of character assassination. He attacks the LCHF movement for being cultish (despite the hundreds of thousands of diabetics managing their illness by ignoring the government advice and embracing LCHF). He attacks the program maker for having a book to sell; but so does he, several in fact, and so did Charles Darwin. How does this undermine credibility?

    The crisis in obesity and diabetes needs tested solutions that work for real people. This program offered one.

    Come on Spectator, you can surely do better than this!

  • Callum Lumley

    The article is correct that it is simply, calories in > calories out leads to weight gain. That is a law of thermodynamics not of biology/ physiology/ nutrition. The whole point of low carb diets is not that this law is mystically violated, but that ketosis gives rise to more stable blood sugar and therefore lower hunger overall which would tend to lead to weight loss as a result of lower calorie coconsumption. So fundamentally it is still a simple matter of calorie deficit.

    • Liz Trekkiemaiden Morgan

      Our bodies are not Calorimeter bombs!! They use the food we eat on a much more organic and microscopic biological level than a piece of lab equipment. Calories are not all equal.

    • Audra

      Actually, no study ever has shown that discrete amounts of calories translate to defined amounts of gained or lost body weight. It’s based on a simplistic math formula adding up the rough amount of calories in a gram of fat times a rough estimate of the number of grams of fat in a pound of average human body fat. Weight loss studies fail to prove this formula every. single. time.

  • Edgar Uncumber

    In a number of ways this article is factually misleading. For one thing, Snowdon claims that the benefits of LCHF have no evidentiary base, that it is “cargo cult science”. Snowdon uses one report, from the SACN, to claim that scientists have found no link between carbohydrate intake and type 2 diabetes. But the SACN report was published three years ago, and the studies it relied on were carried out before 2013. It’s using data that are five and more years old.

    Meanwhile, the scientific debate around carbs is right now the hottest and most polarising topic in nutritional science. More recent studies, such as this – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29178536, published December 2017 – do find a beneficial link between low carb intake and type 2 diabetes. Other such studies are emerging all the time.

    Doctors, rightly, are catching on to the benefits, too. Snowdon fails to mention that, as the documentary reports, the Royal College of General Practitioners will shortly be recommending LCHF as a way of managing type 2 diabetes. Snowdon has been incurious and sloppy.

    He also puts great store by the idea that LCHF is a highly restrictive diet, and that any benefits result from the mere reduction in calories. There is probably some truth in this, but his point of departure – that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ – misrepresents how we actually metabolise the macronutrients of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

    Unlike fat and protein, carbohydrates turn immediately into glucose in the bloodstream. To protect our bodies from corrosive levels of glucose, insulin turns it into fuel for immediate use (glycogen) and then, whatever glycogen is not burned up right away, insulin turns it into fat (triglycerides) to be stored for later. So anxious is insulin to get rid of glucose that it also inhibits the availability of fat as fuel, so that all the glycogen gets burned up. In this way, carbs contribute to the build-up of not-immediately-necessary fat.

    There is another important characteristic of carbs that contradict the ‘a calorie is a calorie’ thesis. It is that carbs stimulate the appetite for more carbs. A high-carb meal causes a spike in your blood sugar level, and when that level crashes you feel the need for more carbs. Research shows that abrupt spikes and falls in blood sugar activate parts of the brain involved in hunger, craving and reward. [ https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/how-carbs-can-trigger-food-cravings/ ]

    When eating protein, fat and complex carbs, on the other hand, you feel satiated for longer. My own experience is that, on a high-carb diet, I would eat a substantial snack or meal every two hours to satisfy hunger pangs. Now I go six, eight or more hours with no hardship. I also eat less because protein and fat make you fuller, quicker. So, 50 calories of chicken and 50 calories of rice have very different effects.This is why people on an LCHF regime find it very easy to lose weight. Studies back this up: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets#section3.

    “Restrictive” is also subjective and biased. My own perspective is that, having lost 8kg in three months on LCHF, I’ve never enjoyed my food more; my diet is varied and delicious.

  • Anna

    I now wonder who is the trusting nutritional scientist in this article and who belongs to the bunch of keyboard warriors and (diet) book salesmen? Christopher are you an expert in nutrition too? There have been SO many studies about low card diets that prove you so wrong. At the end of the day, stop eating cakes, bread, cookies and processed food etc can only make you good, don’t you agree?

  • Kenshin0011

    Simplifying the complex, metabolic pathways that human digestion takes to “calories in calories out” is entirely unscientific.

    A calorie is man made measurement. It’s how much energy it takes to heat up water 1 degree. Our bodies do not care how many calories are measured in a food. Calories from fiber are NOT absorbed by humans (meaning only about 70-80% of an apple’s listed caloric content are absorbed because the rest is indigestible fiber).

    Also, 500 calories of twinkies versus 500 calories of Fish/Spinach are NOT metabolically equal.

    • StopDeletingMyPosts

      Exactly. 500 calories of Mars bar will cause a massive insulin spike, and eating such carb-heavy food 10 times a day is how people end up with hyperinsulinaemia, insulin resistance and eventually T2D.
      500 calories of leafy greens (while probably too much for someone to actually stomach) would have a very limited affect, causing a minimal spike of insulin. It’d probably fill someone for several hours eliminating the tendency high-carb foods have to make one feel hungry very quickly after eating.

  • Chad Murphy

    There are some major problems with the concept of “calories in, calories out”. The main issue is that science simply does not support this concept. I think that is counterintuitive for most of us, but it is the truth. It would seem that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics would explain why calories in, calories out should work, however, the law only applies to an isolated system. Unless you have sewn your butthole closed and blocked your urethrae, then your body is not an isolated closed system.

    Read this in your best Bill Clinton voice: “It’s the Insulin, Stupid!”.

    To prove this we can use those with Type 1 Diabetes as our case study. When a person has Type 1 Diabetes they have an issue with producing insulin. Without medication, their bodies will just wither away until they die. Before the introduction of exogenous insulin, it wasn’t uncommon to try and feed a Type 1 with a diet of well over 10,000 per day. However, it didn’t work, they would still wither away.

    The other case study to look at is those with Type 2 Diabetes. For someone with Type 2, they are often give exogenous insulin as a treatment. Unfortunately, the result is that Type 2’s almost always gain more weight when taking insulin and it doesn’t matter how much they restrict their calorie intake and increase exercise. The reason is clear, it is insulin that controls fat accumulation and not calories. Insulin’s job is stuffing glucose into cells and into the liver and muscles when cells are full. It also converts glucose into lipids (fat) and stores it in the adipose cells.

    It is also shown that calorie restriction causes a decrease in metabolism. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21538

    And again, totally contrary to conventional wisdom, fasting (and keto which mimics fasting) actually increases metabolism. https://idmprogram.com/fix-broken-metabolism/

  • Anne Croucher

    My doctors used to love accusing me of gorging – even when I was faint from doing low calorie diets, but I never lost much weight – how could I? I was pale and feeble all the time. When I discovered low carb I felt really well and lost weight easily as I was active and happy. On a diet to lower cholesterol, full of grains I got fatter every month – it is the sort of diet used to fatten animals after all, and then I was diagnosed type two diabetic, so I went back to low carb Atkins, and in 6 months, no more diabetes and I lost 46lb, which was a year ago and the situation is still the same.I do eat lots of low carb foods – salad, vegetables, nuts and fruits, but set a limit of 10 percent carbs, and it is just so easy to do and it keeps me very well. I think my doctor is sulking.

  • Liz Trekkiemaiden Morgan

    Actually you may not cut calories – you may even eat more, but they are
    the right calories, calories that feed your cells at a mitochondrial
    level. Healthy fats, like butter – yes butter, and lard, olive oil,
    coconut oil will make your vegetables taste like heaven, and keep you
    satisfied, plus your body will be able to utilise these fats in the very
    building blocks of your cells, giving you a metabolic, calorific
    advantage – you can eat more calories, but lose weight and/or inches.
    It’s fact, not fiction – magical thinking – my not-so-fat a…!!

  • jakob

    The fact that this intern doesn’t even mention the word insulin tells us all we need to know about his “expertise”. Is there no homework required to be able to pen pieces at Spectator?

    • r jones

      Exactly, jakob. The effect of carbs on insulin over-production is absolutely central to why LCHF works so well. ESPECIALLY in more obese people with damaged metabolisms.

  • What a load of tripe!

    Four years into LCHF and I am no a longer type 2 diabetic with serious hypertension and a fatty liver since three years ago. I am, however, 23kg lighter despite having eggs, bacon, almond flour/cream cheese waffles, double cream, sausage and sometimes a mushroom or a tomato for breakfast EVERY morning for four years.

    Try a bit of research before coming up with this half-baked rubbish.

    • No Longer Diabetic

      The vast majority of posters here see this article for what it is, an extremely poor attempt to pretend they know what they are talking about.

  • Carole Coote

    Oh dear, I shall have to give up my Keto diet. I want to be the picture of health and fitness if the author the article

  • Matt Nadolski

    Look man, in simple terms: carbohydrates are sugar.

    Diabetes is your body failing to respond to sugar appropriately.

    The proscribed course of action for Type 2 diabates has always been boiled down to one singular two step solution: eat less sugar, and suppliment insulin as necessary. All these people are saying is, “Well great, but if you were to eat even less sugar you may not require the suppliment part.” if this approach works for literally anybody, what is the problem with them taking it?

    Your bowl of rice example is similarly goofy. The two things, especially if we are talking white rice, are functionally, once they’re past your face, almost the same thing, they’ll disolve in about the same amount of time, and you’ll feel hungry again shortly after because there’s not much to them. You can improve on rice by going with wild rice and brown rice- but you’ll still get similar effects and your blood sugar will go up; and you will continue to eat if food is available in all probability because neither is particuarly good at keeping you feeling full, which will likely lead to an increase in both your carbohydrate *and* calorie count. Rice is not particularly healthful unless you go FAR out of your way to select ( and pay for! ) a type which is superior, and many people are not going to do that.

    I’m not sure how exactly you define the fact that your body is going to convert a potato into glucose v.s. just eating a roughly equal amount of sugar as being this all together “different” act. You realize that either one, as long as you relatively proportion it correctly, will have EXACTLY the same effect on whoever consumes it in terms of blood sugar changes. Yeah, the guy who ate the potato will feel somewhat fuller, and there is SOME argument to be made for the fact that the potato contains some useful minerals and the like- but in the end, if we’re talking about diabetics here, if you choke down an excessive portion of potato, you’re still going to die for exactly the same reason as if you just slammed down a bunch of sodas or sat around eating bags of sugar.

    This is really straight forward stuff, talk to a diabetic, anywhere, it is VERY important for a dieabetic person to keep track of what starchy foods they consume. Most diabetic people that I have talked to eschew potatoes entirely, or only eat so called “sweet potatoes” which are hilariously far less packed with carbs than Russets despite the name and flavor.

    I’m afraid I just don’t understand the point you are trying to make here. Who cares if some people are exceptionally zealous conscerning something that you seem to readily admit is functional? What, exactly, is your problem with people being slightly off the mark from a scientific perspective while they are doing something that you seem to agree and acknoledge is wroking for them? Do you personally fully comprehend every activity you engage in on an atomic level at all times? I can guess the answer to that.

    You don’t have anything to say to the concept of Ketosis? Just shout “magic!” at it, and don’t even bother to mention the word or the fact that there are a good number of doctors who seem to agree that it is a thing?

  • Thomas Jones

    Christopher Snowdon wasn’t trained in journalism, but my Father is former Fleet St journalist with 40 years experience. Maybe I should try my luck in being an unqualified Journalist, it seems anyone can be these days.

  • Glenn G

    How can you argue with the following. I am in my late 50s, I was medicated for cholesterol, gout & athsma. My doctor also wanted to medicate me for high blood pressure & was worried about my fatty liver & pre-diabetes.
    Since going to a LCHF diet where I eat as much meat & fat as possible along with lots of full fat milk & cream & also nuts ( I love beer so I drink low carb Pure Blond beer as well as high carb beers at the same levels that i always have ) I have stopped all medication & no longer get athsma & gout. My blood pressure is normal & there are no signs of pre-diabetes or fatty liver ( fatty liver had nothing to do with alcohol intake which hasn’t changed ) so I don’t give a shit about what all the clever scientific experts say because they have been wrong time & time & time again in the past. Also since going LCHF my cholesterol went up a bit so my doctor was all worried about it & advised that my arteries will be all blocked so he booked me into a clinic for a calcium score report which came back with a score of .39 which meant that there was virtually no calcification in the arteries that deliver blood to my heart so it works for me ( and millions of other people that are now questioning all the clever experts ) despite all the saturated fat that i now eat & what the author prattles on about ( because he is getting paid to do so ) not to mention
    Thomas Jones who has to resort to name calling because he has no argument to back up his claims

  • Arthur O’Keefe

    The author of this article is engaging in ad hominem and straw man arguments. Among many other flaws in this piece, he claims that the debate over low carb is a scientific consensus vs. “keyboard warriors and diet book salesmen.” In fact, qualified researchers – including an ever-increasing number of medical doctors – are proponents of LCHF as a viable way of eating to not only lose weight but to reverse the effects of health issues such as fatty liver and type 2 diabetes. Such professionals refer to level 1 scientific evidence to back up their arguments, and laypersons who decide to adjust their eating habits to LCHF are often simply in agreement with their arguments, as opposed to the authors straw man of “keyboard jockeys vs. experts.” If Expert A and Expert B are giving me two different pieces of advice, which expert should I trust? If the advice concerns what I should or should not eat in order not to get sick and die an early death, I consider it sheer idiocy to simply assume that the expert that represents the government health authorities must be right. Hence his ad hominem dismissal of LCHF eaters as “cult-like” betrays an abysmal lack of critical thinking. As a case in point, Prof. Tim Noakes in South Africa was accused of professional misconduct in 2014 and eventually exonerated (twice). His alleged “unprofessional conduct” was a Tweet in which he opined that weaning babies from breast milk to LCHF was healthy. Noakes was found not guilty, then the authorities appealed their own decision, and Noakes was found not guilty again. So here are the key points of this example in relation to the author of this article’s spurious and wrongheaded non-arguments: 1. The prosecution against Noakes produced one meta-analysis (which was revealed in court – by public nutrition policy expert Zoe Harcombe – to have been grossly misinterpreted by them), while Noakes’ defense team produced literally dozens of examples of scientific evidence – including randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses- whic the prosecution failed to dispute. 2. The prosecution had four years, the full financial resources of the state, and a full-time team of lawyers and health professionals at their disposal; if LCHF were simply “cultist magic,” it would have been child’s play to debunk Noakes and secure a guilty verdict. Instead, they were reduced to changing the accusations against Noakes after the fact in the hope that something would stick and they failed utterly. This was in large part because Noakes’ defense team presented the abundant scientific evidence in favor of LCHF which the author of this article claims does not exist. As someone attempting to write on this topic, if he is unaware of the evidence associated with the Noakes case, he is guilty of monumentally sloppy and unprofessional research. If he is aware of it and has decided to ignore it in favor of collectively smearing LCHF proponents as anti-science cultists, he is displaying a contemptible level of intellectual dishonesty. Honest disagreement begins with an acknowledgment of what an argument actually consists of, not dismissing people you disagree with as quasi-cultists. A consensus of scientists is not the same thing as a scientific consensus, and the primary argument in favor of LCHF has always been not that science per se is wrong, but that official government nutrition guidelines do not represent the best available science in terms of weight loss strategies to deal with issues such as diabetes and fatty liver. To read about some professional opinions in favor of LCHF, I.e. medical doctors who cite actual science to back up their views, one could search the following names: Andreas Eenfeldt, Tim Noakes, Ted Naiman, Sandra Hallberg, Jason Fung, just to start. Science, not “magic” or “cargo cult thinking” is the basis of their assertions. The refusal of this author – and far too many like him – to comprehend this fact seems indicitave of an inherently weak argumentative position.

  • Arthur O’Keefe

    I am posting this again because the original post was wrongly detected as spam:
    The author of this article is engaging in ad hominem and straw man arguments. Among many other flaws in this piece, he claims that the debate over low carb is a scientific consensus vs. “keyboard warriors and diet book salesmen.” In fact, qualified researchers – including an ever-increasing number of medical doctors – are proponents of LCHF as a viable way of eating to not only lose weight but to reverse the effects of health issues such as fatty liver and type 2 diabetes. Such professionals refer to level 1 scientific evidence to back up their arguments, and laypersons who decide to adjust their eating habits to LCHF are often simply in agreement with their arguments, as opposed to the authors straw man of “keyboard jockeys vs. experts.” If Expert A and Expert B are giving me two different pieces of advice, which expert should I trust? If the advice concerns what I should or should not eat in order not to get sick and die an early death, I consider it sheer idiocy to simply assume that the expert that represents the government health authorities must be right. Hence his ad hominem dismissal of LCHF eaters as “cult-like” betrays an abysmal lack of critical thinking. As a case in point, Prof. Tim Noakes in South Africa was accused of professional misconduct in 2014 and eventually exonerated (twice). His alleged “unprofessional conduct” was a Tweet in which he opined that weaning babies from breast milk to LCHF was healthy. Noakes was found not guilty, then the authorities appealed their own decision, and Noakes was found not guilty again. So here are the key points of this example in relation to the author of this article’s spurious and wrongheaded non-arguments: 1. The prosecution against Noakes produced one meta-analysis (which was revealed in court – by public nutrition policy expert Zoe Harcombe – to have been grossly misinterpreted by them), while Noakes’ defense team produced literally dozens of examples of scientific evidence – including randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses- whic the prosecution failed to dispute. 2. The prosecution had four years, the full financial resources of the state, and a full-time team of lawyers and health professionals at their disposal; if LCHF were simply “cultist magic,” it would have been child’s play to debunk Noakes and secure a guilty verdict. Instead, they were reduced to changing the accusations against Noakes after the fact in the hope that something would stick and they failed utterly. This was in large part because Noakes’ defense team presented the abundant scientific evidence in favor of LCHF which the author of this article claims does not exist. As someone attempting to write on this topic, if he is unaware of the evidence associated with the Noakes case, he is guilty of monumentally sloppy and unprofessional research. If he is aware of it and has decided to ignore it in favor of collectively smearing LCHF proponents as anti-science cultists, he is displaying a contemptible level of intellectual dishonesty. Honest disagreement begins with an acknowledgment of what an argument actually consists of, not dismissing people you disagree with as quasi-cultists. A consensus of scientists is not the same thing as a scientific consensus, and the primary argument in favor of LCHF has always been not that science per se is wrong, but that official government nutrition guidelines do not represent the best available science in terms of weight loss strategies to deal with issues such as diabetes and fatty liver. To read about some professional opinions in favor of LCHF, I.e. medical doctors who cite actual science to back up their views, one could search the following names: Andreas Eenfeldt, Tim Noakes, Ted Naiman, Sandra Hallberg, Jason Fung, just to start. Science, not “magic” or “cargo cult thinking” is the basis of their assertions. The refusal of this author – and far too many like him – to comprehend this fact seems indicitave of an inherently weak argumentative position.