October 12, 2011

What is the carbohydrate hypothesis?

I lost weight, and maintain my loss, by fitting my eating plan to the "carbohydrate hypothesis." What on earth is that?

100 years ago, this was a circus fat man.
This is the scientific theory that says eating carbohydrate in excess of our body's needs is what creates too much fat on our bodies.

Is this some new, cutting edge, theory? I wish.

It was first published in 1863, by a formerly obese British undertaker, William Banting.

The booklet describing Banting's successful weight loss was called Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public. It became such a bestseller that "banting" was a synonym for "dieting" in the British Isles for many decades.

As detailed in the comprehensive guide to the subject, Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, this scientific approach was solidly supported, and widely advised, right up to the 1960's. Weight Watchers started, in 1963, as a carbohydrate-restriction plan -- which was completely uncontroversial at the time.

Ever wonder why many restaurants still offer the "diet plate" for lunch, consisting of a scoop of cottage cheese on a lettuce leaf? A bread-less lunch is lower in carbohydrates; that's how popular and accepted the notion that "carbohydrates are fattening" had become. What happened? Why, in our own time, do so-called "diet experts" actually advocate eating even more carbohydrate and then exercising it off?

Ironically, it wasn't obesity research that created what we might call the "eat less, move more" theory of weight loss; the one so many labor in vain to follow. That was a side path carved out by the cardiac disease theories of Dr. Ancel Keys, who formulated the "lipid hypothesis." It was based on clinical observations that the "plaques" which clog up arteries are composed of cholesterol.

It was theorized that this made cholesterol the problem. It turns out cholesterol was not the problem; it was a symptom of the body's attempt at a solution. But by the time we figured that out, a whole bunch of more wrong assumptions had been acted upon.

1 comment:

  1. Nailed it. 148 years after carb restriction was proved to work, we still have to endure the bullshit about fat restriction.