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Rebutting Heartiste on the Twinkie Diet

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

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1300 words

Nutritional myths run amok everywhere. One of the most persistent is that ‘a calorie is a calorie’, that is, every macronutrient will be processed the same by the body. Another assumption is that the body doesn’t ‘care’ about where the calories come from—they can come from fat, protein, or carbs and the response will be the same: bodyweight will be reduced until one reaches their goal. However, it’s not as simple as that. He also has the assumption that “diets work”, when the best meta-analysis I know of on the matter shows the opposite (Mann et al, 2007, see especially table 1). They control for studies where weight was self-reported. They conclude that dieting does not work. This is what, as Heartiste says, “iScience!” says on the matter, so he should believe everything I state in this article, which is backed by “iScience!”.

Chateau Heartiste published an article back in 2010 titled The Twinkies Diet Proves Fatty Fats Are Fat Because They Eat Too Much. He is referring to professor of human nutrition Mark Haub and his success on ‘the twinkies diet’, where 2/3rds of his caloric intake came from junk food such as Twinkies. He lost 27 pounds in a two month period while his LDL cholesterol decreased by 20 percent and his HDL cholesterol increased by 20 percent. His level of triglycerides also decreased by 37 percent, with his body fat decreasing from 33.4 to 24.9 percent. So he ate 1800 kcal per day—2/3rds of it being junk food—for two months and lost 27 pounds. Case closed, right? Eat junk food at a deficit and lose weight? A calorie is a calorie? There are a few problems with this contention which will be addressed below.

Heartiste writes:

Big bottom line: Being fat itself is bad for your health. “Fat and fit” is a myth. The change that counts the most is losing the weight, which can only be done by PUSHING AWAY FROM THE TABLE.

Except fit and overweight and obese individuals have similar mortality rates than their normal weight counterparts (Barry et al, 2014). However, more recently a study was published purporting that overweight and obese individuals being healthy despite excess weight is a myth. The researchers state that in a sample of millions of Britons that overweight and obese individuals had a higher risk of heart disease than their normal-weight counterparts. Unfortunately, I cannot locate the study since it wasn’t published in a journal (and thusly not peer reviewed). I wonder if variables such as diet, smoking and other lifestyle factors were taken into account. Nevertheless, the debate on fitness and fatness continues.

Another large meta-analysis shows that grade 1 obesity (BMI 30->35) had the same mortality risk as normal-weight individuals with grade 2 obese (BMI +35) having a significantly higher risk of death (Flegal, Kit, and Orpana, 2013).

Heartiste claims that ‘a calorie is a calorie’. This is a common fallacy. This suggests that the body will process all foods the same way—that is, processing them the same metabolically. This, however, is not the case. Haub himself is a sample size of 1. If Heartiste can use a sample size of 1 to make a claim, then I can too.

Sam Feltham ate +5,000 kcal per day for 21 days and only gained 1.3 kg when he should have gained 7.3 kg based on the amount of kcal he ate. A calorie is a calorie, right? This is a fallacious statement. The statement “a calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics (Feinman and Fine, 2004). Heartiste writes:

That first law of thermodynamics looms large over everything.

The first law of thermodynamics is irrelevant to human physiology. It only states that an organism gets bigger if it consumes more energy; it doesn’t state why this occurs, which is due to the hormone insulin which causes weight gain.

He does rightly state that an omega 3/6 imbalance is part of the reason but then handwaves it away. Western-like high-fat diets (i.e., diets with an imbalance of linoleic acids (LA; and n-6 fatty acid) with n-3) are sufficient enough to induce gradual enhancement in fat mass across the generations (Massiera et al, 2010). This obviously includes the average 55 percent carbohydrate diet that the AHA recommends (Eckel et al, 2014). The Standard American Diet (aptly named the “SAD diet”) has the n-3/n-6 imbalance along with being high in carbohydrates which spike insulin which impedes fat being unlocked from the adipocyte.

Heartiste doesn’t understand that if you reduce the ‘in’, the ‘out’ also decreases. This was noted in the famous starvation experiment headed by Ancel Keys. They took 36 healthy men who ate normally for three months while being their behavior and personality was monitored. In the next six months, they were reduced to eating half of their initial intake (they started at 2000 kcal and dropped to 1000 kcal; some individuals going lower than that) and their metabolic rate decreased by 40 percent (Keys et al, 1945). This is proof for the contention that the body decreases its metabolic rate due to what is ingested. A similar study was done on Vermont prisoners, except they were told to gorge on food. Since they were in a controlled setting, the prisoners could be monitored to ensure they ate all of the food.

At the end of the study, their metabolic rates had increased by 50 percent. This is evidence that the body was trying to get back to its original weight. In six months, the prisoners went back to their normal weight as they ate normally (Salas, Horton, and Sims, 1971) One man only gained ten pounds eating all of those calories. Clearly, the body was resisting weight gain and when they were allowed to eat normally, they effortlessly regained their normal weights.

Finally, on the topic of Haub, Big Food shill, I will address a few things about him and his ‘research’ that recently came to light.

Intermittent fasting and obesity expert Dr. Jason Fung showed that in 2016 after Coca-Cola released their funding reports after criticisms of transparency, Mark Haub was found to be one of the many researchers that were backed by Coca-Cola. This is an attempt to show that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ and that ‘all calories are created equal’. This has been rebutted above.

In 2016—six years after his ‘experiment—it was revealed that he was funded by Coca-Cola. No doubt in order to ‘prove’ that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ and have people continue to gorge on high carbohydrate/insulinogenic foods. However, the human body is a lot more complex than to just reduce it to simply calories in and calories out—which I have written about in depth.

People like Heartiste need to get an actual understanding of the literature and what Coca-Cola has been trying to do for years, which is to make eating junk food ‘OK’ because ‘it doesn’t cause obesity’. Children consume 45 percent more food when exposed to advertisements (Harris, Bargh, and Brownell, 2009). So to begin to curb obesity rates we don’t need to ‘eat junk food’, we need to not eat junk food and eat a diet more ancestral to us—that is, one lower in processed carbs and higher in animal fat and protein. Big Food shills like Haub need to be exposed for what they are—people who do ‘research’ for a quick buck, i.e., not furthering our understanding of a complex issue as he would like you to believe. Exercise also doesn’t induce weight loss. So the claims of ‘eat less and move more’ (eat less according to the 55 percent carbohydrate recommendations) is bound to fail.

If Heartiste can make a claim using one man as an example then so can I. Read the above article by Sam Feltham in which he writes about hs experience eating 5,000 kcal per day for 21 days while only gaining 1.3 kg. I can use this example to say that eating low carb and high fat at 5,000 kcal per day will lead to negligible weight gain, however, I don’t use n=1 sample sizes to make claims and no one else should either.

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11 Comments

  1. Aldoto says:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24738156

    https://www.nature.com/news/the-big-fat-truth-1.13039

    http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1681397

    http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1681393

    The JAMA study was criticized on several grounds, especially for its poor sampling.

    https://infogalactic.com/info/Waist–hip_ratio#Indicator_of_health

    https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2FS0140-6736%2805%2967663-5

    Having a higher WHR has been repeatedly correlated with body dysfunctions, especially for women.

    A key point against against Fat Acceptance is that of the Blue Zones:

    https://infogalactic.com/info/Blue_Zone

    None of the areas listed have a significant population of the overweight.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      1) It’s been found in a large meta-analysis that the BMI with lowest chance of mortality is BMI 27 (Afzal et al, 2016). This study also controlled for smokers.

      2) Dieting does not work (see Mann et al, 2007).

      3) I cite another analysis showing that fitness, not fatness, predicts all-cause mortality.

      4) In conjunction with the above, along with the cited studies in my article (as well as the other data in my blog), clearly overweight people can be healthy, and to curb obesity rates we need to encourage an environment that has more ancestral foods as well as discourage advertisements and Big Food shilling.

      Like

    • Aldoto says:

      The 2017 study you posted has most of the listed BMI’s be within the ballpoint of 25 (with two below it actually. Considering past studies have shown that 25 BMI is the minium for avoiding body dysfunction I would say the 27 BMI should be disregarded as an aberration.

      In any case, you must address the Blue Zones (which outperform both 3rd World areas and 1st World countries in matters concerning health and vitality).

      Like

    • Aldoto says:

      Make that 2016 study. My mistake.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      If you read the study incited in my previous comment, you’d see that the BMI with the lowest rate of mortality slowly crept up to 27 from BMI 24. If trends continue, soon BMI 30 will have the lowest rate of mortality. I assume this is due to better health care along with more diet nd exercise (refer back to the study on fitness vs. fatness for all-cause mortality.

      In regards to Blue Zones, from what I know about Greece, Sardinia and Okinawa, their diets are far and away different compared to what us American proles eat. The point is, a western diet (the aptly named SAD diet [Standard American Diet]) is the cause of these problems and ameliorating our obesogenic environments should curb the obesity rates along with raising the life expectancy of the average American.

      I’ll take a look at the other two populations cites in that Blue Zone link later this afternoon. However, as our diet goes to the East, diseases of civilization pop up, ie prostate cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke, etc. Coincidence? No.

      Like

    • Aldoto says:

      I did read the study. And I’m pointing out that the 27 BMI might be too much of an abnormality. And also that BMI from 25 onward has been linked to body dysfunction (see Waist-hip ratio).

      The Blue Zones certainly have better diets. But they are also significantly active physically in comparison to other countries and isolated genomically. Okinawa is key here considering how Japan historically scores low in comparison to other other countries BMIwise and its diet largely differs from the Japanese mainland’s in that consumes more pig.

      Like

    • Aldoto says:

      Let me put it this way: Are you willing to bet the Blue Zones aren’t significantly lower than a major chunk of the rest of the world BMIwise (obviously accounting for racial or ethnic differences).

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      I did read the study. And I’m pointing out that the 27 BMI might be too much of an abnormality. And also that BMI from 25 onward has been linked to body dysfunction (see Waist-hip ratio).

      In regards to WHR, I fully agree—an attractive WHR for women is ~.7—and they also birth more intelligent and healthier babes. However, with good diet and exercise, one can be healthy and fat. I do agree that WHR is superior however. People with a high BMI are more likely to have a high WHR. Combined with all of said here and the rest of the studies on my blog, I’ve made a good case that a good portion of overweight and obese people are metabolically healthy, contrary to popular belief—that is, if their diet and exercise is in check.

      It’s not an abnormality. There was an increase of over 3 points, from 24 to 27. So if people are living longer despite being bigger, then they must be getting better medical care, dieting well, and exercising more—the tenets of a healthier lifestyle.

      Waist-to-height ratio is an outstanding measure of health measurement—along the same lines as WHR and WC.

      Bluher (2012) found that up to 30 percent of obese individuals are metabolically healthy, being protected from “type 2 diabetes,
      dyslipidemia, coronary artery disease, stroke.”

      The Blue Zones certainly have better diets. But they are also significantly active physically in comparison to other countries and isolated genomically. Okinawa is key here considering how Japan historically scores low in comparison to other other countries BMIwise and its diet largely differs from the Japanese mainland’s in that consumes more pig.

      Of course they have better diets—because they have constructed better food environments for themselves that are not obesogenic.

      Look at the Okinawans. Diet is not the only reason they live so long; their genes also have a large effect. Okinawans are genetically distinct from other Japanese, and natural selection, drift, and population bottlenecks explain their longevity (Bendjilali et al, 2014). Okinawa is also, sadly, falling to the scourge of the West—our Western diet.

      So it’s a combination of genes and environment that help them live so long—and without that ever-important environmental factors in regards to longevity, the Okinawans will soon have lower life expectancies. You can’t outlive a bad diet.

      In this study (Miayatake et al, 2005), the researchers used the BOD POD to assess Japanese body fat percentage. They discovered that for both men and women combined, the mean BMI was 25. Mean body fat levels in men were 25 percent whereas for women it was 34 percent (no surprise there). East Asians are the most endomorphic race, then comes whites—less endo than Asians, than blacks are mesomorphic. So East Asians hold more body fat than whites—and especially blacks.

      In regards to the Nicoyans, they eat an ancestral diet of rice, beans and animal protein eating a low glycemic diet and one high in fiber (Rosero-Bixby, Dow, and Rehkopf, 2013).

      And with the residents of Loma-Linda, their diet has to a lot to do with it as well, since Adventists are multiethnic and in this study, 25 percent of the sample was black (n=97,000; Tonstad et al, 2009).

      They conclude that all vegetarian diets reduce the impact of obesity and type II diabetes…. what do you expect when you omit processed carbohydrates? In regards to their statement that protein spikes insulin, this is why protein is kept to moderate levels—and is why the insulin index was developed.

      All in all, largely diet with some genetic effects explain it, which proves my point.

      Let me put it this way: Are you willing to bet the Blue Zones aren’t significantly lower than a major chunk of the rest of the world BMIwise (obviously accounting for racial or ethnic differences).

      Yes. And if the food environment that is constructed isn’t obesogenic, i.e., getting bombarded with advertisements and being surrounded by cheap, garbage, highly processed carbohydrates which are the main spiker of insulin levels which eventually lead to obesity and type II diabetes.

      Diet matters, contrary to what JayMan says.

      There are studies showing that type II diabetics who dieted and exercised didn’t have a different mortality rate. The study consisted of over 5000 people, one group given a rigorous diet and exercise program and the other group was given general health information. The diet was 1200-1500 kcal for people who weighed less than 250 pounds and 1500-1800 kcal for people weighing more. Moderate exercise is defined as 175 minutes per week. The two groups differed in weight and fitness, rates of stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular deaths were identical (Pi-Sunyer, 2014). They ended the study because mortality rates were similar for both cohorts, though rates were low in both groups.

      All in all, the point of this article was that diet quality matters (contra JayMan) and people up to 35 BMI can be healthy. The Blue Laws actually helped my point.

      Do you want to talk about why it’s so hard to lose weight next?

      Like

  2. Aldoto says:

    Exceptions don’t disprove rules. Nobody said you can’t have a relatively functional body with a BMI above 25 in comparision to others like that. The question is if having one is reccommended.

    The Adventist study notes both that the BMIs got larger moving from vegans to meat eaters and that group members below 30 kg/m2 had lower levels of diabetes than the ones above it. The Look Ahead Study associated weight loss in non-severely obese popuplations with better functioning. The Nicoya Study noted that the sampled population had a lower BMI than other Costa Ricans.

    So far, the evidence you’ve posted doesn’t really support the Healthy At Every Size Narrative. The Japanese BMI being 25 doesn’t make an issue for what I’ve been saying.

    Like

    • Phil78 says:

      “Exceptions don’t disprove rules. Nobody said you can’t have a relatively functional body with a BMI above 25 in comparision to others like that. The question is if having one is reccommended.”

      I’m pretty sure his entire point was that fitness itself is a better predictor of health than just BMI, not that BMI isn’t associated with health overall health as he stated that a better diets should curve obesity rates.

      “So far, the evidence you’ve posted doesn’t really support the Healthy At Every Size Narrative. The Japanese BMI being 25 doesn’t make an issue for what I’ve been saying.”

      The same could be said with you giving more and more evidence between the associations between health and BMI.

      Where did he advocate “size doesn’t matter” rather than valuing the presence of lifestyle habits in exercise and diets more than just a person’s BMI? Naturally Obesity would be associated often with the lack of these components.

      And as for your use of “exceptions” would you call 30% of obese people being metabolically healthy, as he has cited, being merely exceptional?

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      ‘Recommended’? It’s ‘recommended’ if you eat and exercise well. That’s it. Thing people who sit more die earlier than fit people who are more active.

      The Adventist study notes both that the BMIs got larger moving from vegans to meat eaters and that group members below 30 kg/m2 had lower levels of diabetes than the ones above it.

      If you’re vegetarian, you’re most likely going to be eating foodstuffs that are not processed. If you’re eating meat, you’re more likely to be eating other high carb garbage that spikes insulin and leads to obesity.If people are raised eating well and stay in good food environments, they’ll be fine. Meat eaters are more likely to eat processed carbs. This is why they had higher rates of diabetes and obesity. This is not new information.

      The Look Ahead Study associated weight loss in non-severely obese popuplations with better functioning.

      Mortality rates still did not decrease.

      The Nicoya Study noted that the sampled population had a lower BMI than other Costa Ricans.

      Eating a low-glycemic diet is why—they are not spiking their insulin. When insulin is spiked, fat cannot be unlocked from the adipocyte. If insulin is kept low, then when in a deficit then the fat can be unlocked. This is why East Asia has had low obesity rates (until the introduction of the Western diet—which is my point).

      So far, the evidence you’ve posted doesn’t really support the Healthy At Every Size Narrative. The Japanese BMI being 25 doesn’t make an issue for what I’ve been saying.

      Eat well. Exercise. Mindful eating. Three things to keep in mind and you’ll be healthy. Furthermore, it’s much much harder to overeat on vegetarian foods than meat. However, it is much easier to eat more carbohydrates and people who eat meat (Americans do consume way too much protein and way too many processed carbs which is the cause of the obesity epidemic) more likely eat processed carbohydrates and thusly insulin stays spiked.

      Let’s talk about the biology behind why dieting doesn’t work now:

      Dieting makes the lean fatter (Dulloo et al, 2015). Dieting to lose weight can contribute to future obesity risk and weight gain (Siapush et al, 2015). High school girls who diet are more likely to become obese (Stice et al, 1999).

      All diets fail.

      Dieting doesn’t work because of things like the garbage AHA recommendations of 55 percent of daily energy coming from carbohydrates. This is why people cannot lose weight and end up gaining more weight (see the Biggest Loser Study; Fothergill et al, 2016).

      Like

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