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How "Heart-Healthy Whole Grains" Make Us Fat
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May 24, 2012
4:47 pm
Connor
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it's all well and fine, but whole grains are good for you. you don't have to eat as much to feel as full, nor do you have to load it up with shite and sugar like they did in this study. it's not the steel cut oats that's the factor, it's the crap they put on it, duh.

May 29, 2012
1:15 am
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Connor:

Name one nutrient in whole grains that's not found in much greater and more bioavailable quantities in meat, eggs, or vegetables.  ("Fortified" grains don't count.)  

As I've pointed out many times before, grain proteins are terribly incomplete, with a PDCAAS of perhaps 0.25-0.4 (vs. meat and eggs at appx 1.0).  No one can live on grains alone...anyone who tries gets deficiency diseases like beriberi, kwashiorkor, or pellagra.  Grain-based diets must be supplemented by real food in order to sustain human life...why not just eat the real food and skip the grains?

Also, the steel-cut oats weren't "loaded up with shite and sugar"...they were made with a 2.5:1 water/milk ratio, a tiny bit of half-and-half, and about a tablespoon of sugar...a totally normal breakfast.  In contrast, the "omelet" was made with one egg and one egg white, and low-fat cheese.  (This is because the study authors were Zone dieters, and wanted it to hit the 40-30-30 Zone ratios -- unlike a real omelet, which would probably be something like 10-70-20.)

Whole grains are cheap.  They're also used to fatten cattle, pigs, sheep, and to give geese fatty liver for foie gras.  Are they better than refined grains?  Sure...in the same way low-tar cigarettes are better for us than regular cigarettes.  

JS

April 4, 2013
4:02 pm
EatLessMoveMoore
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Wow, CarbSane really debunked all this. Have you considered issuing a retraction?

April 5, 2013
6:04 am
Melissa
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It has come to my attention that you have met - and been on cordial terms with - Richard Nikoley. First denounce him, then we'll talk.

April 16, 2013
1:09 am
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"EatLessMoveMoore"/"Melissa"/"CarbSeine":

Don't expect a response to sockpuppeting or gratuitous pot-stirring.

JS

January 12, 2014
11:31 am
The Doc
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Technically, no food is bad and NOTHING makes people fat except oversized portions that exceed the individual's daily caloric needs. To vilify any specific food or food group other than refined white sugar and flour is doing an injustice to the public.

Many people, especially the obese, are totally confused about proper nutrition for weight loss because they keep being bombarded by conflicting information from a myriad of sources.

Eat a variety of foods in healthy portions and get a reasonable amount of exercise every day, and you will not have any weight or health issues. The ONLY exceptions to this mantra are people with clinical disorders such as hypothyroidism and allergies to certain food substances such as nuts or gluten. But even in those cases with the guidance of a good nutritionist, they can still eat a variety of wonderful, delicious, and satisfying foods that are conducive to their individual health issues.

January 13, 2014
3:15 pm
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The Doc:

"Technically, no food is bad and NOTHING makes people fat except oversized portions that exceed the individual's daily caloric needs.  To vilify any specific food or food group other than refined white sugar and flour is doing an injustice to the public."

OK, so no food is bad EXCEPT refined white sugar and flour.  That means a hypocaloric diet consisting entirely of Pringles, Doritos, and Velveeta is healthy and nutritionally complete, and vilifying them is doing an injustice to the public...right?  No sugar or white flour in those...

Do you ever wonder why we have RDAs for dozens of vitamins and minerals?  It's because we've found those substances are absolutely necessary to human life.  (There are more necessary substances which have no RDA, but that's a different article.)  If you begin analyzing grain-based products for nutritional content, you'll quickly find them far inferior to meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and other Paleo-approved foods.  

Furthermore, nutrient density becomes critical in the context of a hypoenergetic diet, since the same nutrient needs must be met using far less food.

Additionally, you might also want to read up on the effects of partially-digested gliadin proteins on intestinal permeability: Fasano 2011 is a good start.

Finally, all of this ignores the effect of nutrient deficiencies on hunger: see my article series on the subject and/or my AHS 2012 presentation.

I feel sorry for your patients -- many of whom probably suffer from real food intolerances, endocrine imbalances, and other medical issues which you're handwaving away and telling them it's their own fault with silly, counterfactual advice like "Eat a variety of foods in healthy portions and get a reasonable amount of exercise every day, and you will not have any weight or health issues."  

Stated bluntly, there's a reason people are going to the Internet for advice: your advice has failed them.  

JS

June 9, 2014
9:01 pm
CarbSanity
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Carbsane already debunked all of this, bro... (And you STILL owe her an apology.)

June 23, 2014
4:48 am
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“EatLessMoveMoore”/”Melissa”/”CarbSeine”/"CarbSanity":

You need some new material.

Also, it's been a couple years, but I recall her criticisms being as follows:

1. The differences between diets were not limited to glycemic index.

This is precisely why I have explained the composition of the diets in detail, why (unlike the study authors) I referred to them as the "instant-oatmeal", "steel-cut oats", and "omelet+fruit" diets, and why I didn't attribute the differences to GI. This leaves the options as "didn't bother to read my article before attacking me", "poor reading comprehension", or "deliberate misrepresentation" -- neither of which is worthy of anyone's time.

2. She called me a hairdresser.

Apparently this is an insult in her world, and it also renders one unfit to write nutrition articles. While I am not a hairdresser, I will stand up for the honor of hairdressers everywhere and defend their right to write about anything they damn well please -- as well as their right to be judged solely on the quality of their work.

JS

August 29, 2014
11:27 am
Heathicus
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There are numerous major issues with this study when it comes to extrapolating the results to whole grains in general. The first thing you should realize is that sugar was added to each of the oatmeal portions, and not a small amount either (16g for the medium and 19g for the instant). Things were also added to purposely raise the GI of the milk, which was only 2% (full-fat milk is more filling and also lowers the GI of oatmeal more than reduced-fat and skim milk).

This study was designed to test the effects of high GI, not the effect of grains in general on blood glucose / insulin / weight gain (or else there would be no need for adding extra ingredients). This study says literally nothing about the healthiness of steel-cut/instant -unsweetened- oatmeal, as prepared with either water or whole milk. Yes, added sugar is bad - I don't think you need me to tell you this, yet it seems to be conveniently ignored in favor of attacking whole grains.

However, not only is this extrapolation of results questionable, but the methods used in the study were also flawed. Maybe you weren't aware, but total volume of food AND liquidity of food both contribute to satiety. Meaning, it is not just the calories and the content, but also the perceived size and solidity of the food. For example, skim milk is less filling than whole milk and often leads to consuming more calories in compensation, resulting in increased weight gain despite the 50-70 calorie difference between skim and whole milk. It is unclear as to the exact reasons for the difference, though milk fat is the likeliest possibility but extra milk chemicals/enzymes could play a role.

The total physical volume of food is much greater in the low GI group and includes many foods that would take longer to eat than oatmeal. Two packets of oatmeal (roughly 56, study used 60g plus added sugars) can be consumed in about 2-3 minutes, leisurely. Instant oats are especially easier to consume quickly because the oats are rolled quite thin. On the other hand, it might take that long just to eat the apple slices, then you figure in the grapefruit, the eggs, cheese, tomato, and more than a cup of spinach! It should be noted at the fiber content is a lot higher in the low GI group than it is in the oatmeal group (roughly 6g, 3g per packet), and fiber is known to contribute to satiety.

As for oats/whole grains and insulin/heart health... here are recent studies on pubmed, studied in humans
-Whole grain intake consistently has been associated with improved cardiovascular disease outcomes
-Whole grains high in viscous fiber (oats, barley) decrease serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood pressure and improve glucose and insulin responses. Grains high in insoluble fiber (wheat) moderately lower glucose and blood pressure but also have a prebiotic effect. Obesity is inversely related to whole grain intake
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20820954

-Higher intakes of whole grains were associated with increases in insulin sensitivity.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14594783

-A higher intake of whole grain is associated with decreased risk of deteriorating glucose tolerance including progression from normal glucose tolerance to prediabetes by mechanisms likely tied to effects on insulin sensitivity
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23235198

Yes, my friend, insulin sensitivity IMPROVES with oat/whole grain consumption. It is literally bettering your body's ability to deal with blood glucose. This was simply a quick, two minute search of studies on pubmed. There quite a lot more supporting the insulin-SUPPORTING nature of various whole grains (that aren't seriously bogged down with added sugar like in this study). I don't have a problem with paleo folks but propaganda-spreading goons like you, JS, are doing nothing but spreading lies and bad information. Please, stop.

August 29, 2014
5:40 pm
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Heathicus:

"I don't have a problem with paleo folks but propaganda-spreading goons like you, JS, are doing nothing but spreading lies and bad information. Please stop."

The observant reader might notice that this article was written over three years ago. Since then, not only have I not stopped, I've written dozens more articles -- and I've been invited to present my work at multiple academic conferences all across the country. 2012 at Harvard Law School, 2013 in Atlanta, 2014 at UC Berkeley (forthcoming very soon). While credentials by themselves prove nothing, I suspect that surviving the review process, not to mention the quality of the presentations themselves, places me a step or two above "propaganda-spreading goon."

Therefore, let's move on to the actual content of your comment.

1. The first thing I did in the article is enumerate the actual contents of the diets, including the added sugar. Furthermore, as I noted above to "CarbSanty", I refer to the diets by content, not by GI -- so your criticisms don't apply.

2. A typical serving of flavored instant oatmeal contains 16g of sugar per 46g "serving" (USDA nutrition data), which scales to 21.2g of sugar in 60.9g. This is more sugar than was added to either the instant or the regular oatmeal in the study (19g/16g).

Result: the oatmeal in the study is indeed representative of how people actually eat oatmeal, and your criticisms don't apply.

3. It's amusing that you presume to lecture me on satiety. Read or watch this presentation, with extra credit for this series of articles, and get back to me.

More importantly: the study used a mixture of 2% milk and half-and-half -- which has EXACTLY the same amount of fat as a similar quantity of whole milk. (The math: 160g of whole milk has 5.25g fat. 160g 2% milk has 3.11g fat, 15g of half-and-half has 2g of fat.) Please read the study before presuming to lecture others on its content.

4. "The total physical volume of food is much greater in the low GI group..."

Trivially false. Table 1 lists the total energy density for each diet, which was identical between the instant and steel-cut oatmeal, and 2.5% lower for the omelet+fruit. Please read the study before presuming to lecture others on its content.

5. "...and includes many foods that would take longer to eat than oatmeal."

Even if this were true (and we don't know, since the experimenters didn't share how long it took to eat the meals), you're confusing satiation with satiety. See my presentations and articles, linked above -- particularly the references to Benelam and Berridge.

6. The studies you quote are all associational, and do not prove causation. More importantly, let me quote Harris 2010, the first link you posted:

"Whole grain intake consistently has been associated with improved cardiovascular disease outcomes, but also with healthy lifestyles, in large observational studies. Intervention studies that assess the effects of whole grains on biomarkers for CHD have mixed results."

For instance, DART -- a controlled study -- caused a 20% increase in all-cause mortality for the group supplementing their diet with whole-grain fiber. (Burr 1989) "Controlled study" trumps associational data.

More importantly, the studies you cite get their data from food frequency questionaires -- data we know to be complete bunk. See Salvini 1989, and Dr. Chris Masterjohn's excellent summaries of the startling data it contains here and here.

That's not all! You can read this article for a detailed exploration of several ways in which "associations based on data known to be bunk" can, and has, produced very different results than controlled trials.

Conclusion: you need to do a lot more research, and read it much more carefully than you have been, before you qualify to throw around terms like "propaganda-spreading goon."

JS

August 30, 2014
10:41 am
Heathicus
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1. The first thing I did in the article is enumerate the actual contents of the diets, including the added sugar. Furthermore, as I noted above to “CarbSanty”, I refer to the diets by content, not by GI — so your criticisms don’t apply.

2. A typical serving of flavored instant oatmeal contains 16g of sugar per 46g “serving” (USDA nutrition data), which scales to 21.2g of sugar in 60.9g. This is more sugar than was added to either the instant or the regular oatmeal in the study (19g/16g).

Result: the oatmeal in the study is indeed representative of how people actually eat oatmeal, and your criticisms don’t apply.

What in the world? Your article title is literally
How “Heart-Healthy Whole Grains” Make Us Fat

Yet, what you're actually talking about is "how heart-healthy whole grains plus a ton of added sugar + milk with extra sugar + cream = making you fat. If you're going to generalize to all whole grains, then you need to be talking about whole grains only, not extra products. What does your article say about eating plain whole rolled oat oatmeal? Nothing at all. It says literally nothing about the unhealthiness of oats / whole grains, only about the way some people consume them via additional processing.

Considering your article title and conclusion, both of those apply perfectly. Restructure your article to blasting the processing of whole foods with extra sugar and chemicals instead of just whole grains in general and then what you've talked about might make a bit of sense.

August 30, 2014
10:45 am
Heathicus
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The total physical volume of food is much greater in the low GI group…”

Trivially false. Table 1 lists the total energy density for each diet, which was identical between the instant and steel-cut oatmeal, and 2.5% lower for the omelet+fruit. Please read the study before presuming to lecture others on its content.

Why did you bring up energy density when I brought up physical volume? Obviously, physical volume = space. There is significantly more content overall on a plate containing all of those ingredients in the first group (including more than a cup of spinach). You are doing nothing but setting up strawman arguments.

You seem to know very little of logic, considering your fascination for strawman arguments.

September 11, 2014
1:30 am
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Heathicus:

The omelet+fruit meal contains 26g of sugars:13g from the grapefruit and 13g from the apple. That's more sugar than either of the oatmeals! (19g/16g). (Nutrition data for grapefruit, apples.) Once again, please read the study more carefully before presuming to lecture others on its content.

"Why did you bring up energy density when I brought up physical volume?"

Because, in this case, they are effectively the same. We know that the energy content of each meal is exactly the same: 1.65 mJ, or about 395 kcal. Therefore, if the energy density is the same, the mass must be the same, since energy content = mass * energy density.

We also know that non-dehydrated foods have the approximate (mass) density of water. The spinach will look larger and less dense, because it's all leafy -- but if you throw each meal into a blender and liquefy it, you'll find that the volumes are extremely close. (Note that eggs either barely sink or barely float in water, so their density is clearly almost exactly that of water. Fruits and veggies are mostly water. And so on.)

I'm sorry the results of this study don't support your preconceived notions! I know what that feels like: I was a vegetarian once, and a guilty omnivore who consumed birdseed like Kashi and "soy nuts" for years after that, honestly believing that it was healthy. One of the hardest parts of adopting a paleo diet was admitting that I had it wrong and all that misery was for nothing. However, many years later, I find the reward of being in the best mental and physical shape of my life far exceeds the regret.

JS

November 11, 2014
3:21 pm
Heathicus
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he omelet+fruit meal contains 26g of sugars:13g from the grapefruit and 13g from the apple. That’s more sugar than either of the oatmeals!

You're comparing added sugar (which has known, proven deleterious effects) to naturally occurring sugars found in apples and other fruits. The oatmeal used in the study contains ADDED sugar - but I know you already know this, and are doing nothing but trolling / spreading propaganda. Best of luck to you... in your 'endeavors'

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