Firstly, a particular thanks to Tim and PaleoErin who pointed out some very good books, notably Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint” and Gary Taubes “Why we get fat” respectively. I have now finished both of those books, and finally things come together for me. As always in those kind of situations I ask myself how I could be so blind – the point is that none of those books did really contain anything that was new for me. It was just that I had not managed to piece the puzzle together earlier on – and with hindsight, the reasons are very obvious:
- As far as I can remember, the widely accepted and never really questioned paradigm was Calories-In/Calories-Out (“CICO”), which essentially says that what you gain (or lose) in fat is determined by the difference in the calories you consume, and the calories you burn (where the latter are assumed to be independent – and that is the key point and fallacy – from the former)
- Likewise, fat was always considered bad, on various levels. Firstly, it was bad because it would cause heart disease. But also – and probably more importantly – it was bad because it contained so many calories. This is silly on so many levels. Firstly, you need CICO for it to make sense. But then also you need to believe that it gives you more satisfaction to eat 100g than it gives you to eat 50g. Note that we are talking of different foods here – once you spell it out it really becomes outright silly: very few people would prefer 100g of, I dont know, grass, to 50g of ice-cream for example.
Now I am not sure what Atkins exactly suggests, but whilst some of his stuff always made sense to me (and I did understand – to some extent – the underlying Its-The-Insulin-Stupid (“ISIT”) paradigm) I would always assume that carbs need to be mainly replaced with protein – and that simply didnt make sense to me. Protein is a building block, not a food, and whilst the body can use to create energy (I mean, men at animals for a while now, and animals are made of protein) it is a bit like burning your furniture to heat your house – it works, but there should be better ways.
It really only made “click” in my brain very recently. The two key triggers were
- A number of articles in the CrossFit Journal, where they talked about upping the fat blocks (Zone speak) of the athletes – I thought they should be upping the carbs, or maybe the protein, but why the h+ck the fat?
- Tim’s comment here which went exactly along the same lines
I think at this point I got it – and the aforementioned books really confirmed my views. What I did find amazing though is the description in Taubes’ book how this all came about – at one point there was some momentum from the carbs-is-good camp, and from that point onwards this was the party line, and – in the words of Pavel – “the party is always right”.
I do secretly wonder though whether Taubes’ description of why this all happened is accurate. He paints the picture that there were a number of honest mistakes, and it went on autopilot from then onwards. I could imagine that the mechanisms behind this were slightly sinister, and that there were some people who pushed carb consumption for reasons other than the health of the people. Any insights or sources on this?