To the Editor:
Re “What Really Makes Us Fat,” by Gary Taubes (Sunday Review, July 1):
The metabolic advantage conferred by, and even ancient biological mandate for, a low-carbohydrate regimen was recognized by the embattled Dr. Robert Atkins (a cardiologist) early on.
It is indeed too many carbs that contributes to obesity and Type 2 diabetes; and too many carbs, not saturated fats, that contributes to heart disease and perhaps a host of other ills, according to several major studies concluded in the last decade.
A surfeit of carbs was very likely not consumed by our Paleolithic predecessors. Excavations of the kitchen middens of our hunter-gatherer ancestors reveal that they consumed a range of tough, fibrous vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds and any creature that hopped, slithered, swam or flew that they could trap, spear or whack on the noggin.
There were no French fries or other starchy vegetables (including the much-touted whole grains) or high-sugar fruits or just plain sugar (O.K., honey maybe) on the hunter-gatherer menu.
We have inherited the same metabolism and subvert it at our peril.
Just have a spoonful of teff or quinoa, not a cupful, unless you’re running a marathon. As for store-bought bread, read the label: some high-fiber, whole-grain breads still have the same amount of carbs as a slice of white.
Instead, choose breads that contain the same amount of net (digestible) carbs per slice as, say, a cup of a low-carb vegetable like broccoli and swap the vegetables out occasionally for the bread as part of your personal maintenance carb quota for the day.
New York, July 2, 2012
The writer, a former Web content director for Atkins Nutritionals, is the developer of a low-carb French fry, Skinnies.
To the Editor:
More than 60 percent of Americans are now overweight or obese, and the problem is increasing. We need a comprehensive solution.
Diet is only a part of the problem. We live in a world that Jack built, and Jack is a capitalist. Jack builds automobiles, computers, elevators, drive-throughs, escalators, moving sidewalks, mass transit and televisions, all of which limit our mobility and physical activity.
Fast food, processed foods, sweets and snacks may be part of the problem, but they fit seamlessly into a wider scheme, one designed by Jack.
Our physical environment makes humans fat, unproductive, unhealthy, depressed and increasingly dependent upon a voracious health care industry. The irony is that we know how to build a healthy environment, but cannot figure out how to make money doing it.
Our leaders see the problem but are too afraid to promote change. A healthy animal can live off a grease trap at a McDonald’s and stay trim and healthy. Put that same animal into a car and feed it healthy food, and it will get fat.
EMIL B. LESTER Jr.
Pittsburgh, July 1, 2012
To the Editor:
Gary Taubes suggests that calories differ according to nutrient source, and that carbohydrates, not calories, make us fat. This conclusion stems from a clinical study on 21 human subjects comparing low-carb and high-carb diet regimes lasting four weeks each (current issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association), a “provocative” study that is rightly questioned by an invited editorial in the same issue.
As the editorial states, the study did not control effectively for differences in exercise and the known protein effects on metabolism. Simple carbs (sugars in soft drinks) are caloric and unhealthy, as Mr. Taubes suggests, but complex carbs (beans, grains) are not only healthy but also the exclusive source of muscle glycogen, the only biologic fuel supporting rapid energy expenditure like sprints, weight lifting and chasing the kids.
There is no evidence that eating fewer complex carbs disproportionately causes fat loss, and substantial evidence that without complex carbs, the body must rely upon much slower acting metabolic fuel (fat or, during starvation, muscle).
Low-carb diets may therefore reduce the capacity and motivation for the very exercise required to control weight effectively.
W. JACKSON DAVIS
Boulder, Colo., July 2, 2012
The writer, professor emeritus of biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, is president of the Miracle Workout.
Note from KBJ: Isn't it hilarious that the second letter writer blames "capitalists" for our obesity problem? He must never have heard of self-control, free will, or personal responsibility. Thank God the cretin has no power.