I recently caught a segment of the Dr. Oz show.
Dr. Oz invited Gary Taubes (science journalist and author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat”) for a debate of sorts, and here’s how it went down:
As you may know, Dr. Oz promotes a diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. He recommends fish and chicken over beef or pork (less saturated fat), and likes to see people use olive oil rather than butter.
Gary Taubes (author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat”) contends that carbohydrates are what makes us fat, by stimulating insulin. Insulin, in turn, promotes fat storage and weight gain.
After a few good-natured digs at each other, Dr. Oz announced that he actually tried the diet that Gary Taubes advocates. For ONE DAY.
The video then showed Dr. Oz eating breakfast (sausage and eggs), a mid-morning snack (bowl of pork rinds), lunch (salad with some chicken I think), mid-afternoon snack (salami slices with cheese sticks), and then dinner of a huge rib-eye steak, along with some sort of vegetable if I recall correctly). All through the video, Dr. Oz looks like he’s not enjoying the food at all, and even moans “I’m tired!” and pretends to take a nap in his chair.
Ok, Dr. Oz, you ate low-carb for a day. What will that tell you? Not much…
There was likely no need for the snacks, as snacking is usually only necessary when eating relatively high levels of carbohydrates (or when eating very small low-carb meals).
Then Dr. Oz asks Taubes “What is your cholesterol level?”
Taubes smiles a bit, and says “I don’t know.”
The look of shock on Dr. Oz’s face was unmistakeable.
Gary explained why he doesn’t check his cholesterol, saying something like: The more you read about the science the more you realize these tests are meaningless.
Ok, Gary, I get it. The whole cholesterol/heart disease connection is a bit fuzzy. But if you had agreed to get your lipid panel done and it came out favorable (according to Dr. Oz’s standards), that really would have supported your supposition that eating fat will not necessarily increase your risk for heart disease. At least in the eyes of Dr. Oz.
Of course, we all know that some people’s cholesterol levels may not change very much even with major changes in diet and/or exercise, and to look at an individual’s lipid panel and then draw conclusions about what influence the diet had on it is basically meaningless. About as meaningless as Dr. Oz eating low-carb for one day to prove a point…
Dr. Oz brought up the point that he didn’t think it was realistic to expect people to permanently restrict the very foods that many of them grew up on and “hold sacred” (Dr. Oz’s words), and that is why he recommends plenty of whole grains and fruits.
I definitely get the “sustainability” factor, but at the same time is it reasonable to expect that people will forever be able to “control portions” while eating a low-fat, moderate carb diet? We know that it’s next to impossible, and so should Dr. Oz.
Personally, I don’t feel that most people need to restrict carbohydrates as much as Taubes suggests, especially if they are physically active. I see no reason why you can’t include a few pieces of fruit, considering they are potent sources of vitamins and minerals (plus they taste great!).
I also strongly disagree with Taubes when he asserts that “exercise doesn’t help you lose weight.”
Sure, if you are more active your body will require more fuel, but that doesn’t mean that exercise is useless for weight loss. By Taube’s own argument, if exercise is useless for weight loss, then it shouldn’t be a bad thing to lay in bed all day, so as to minimize our appetite and speed up the weight loss…
Physical activity primes the body’s cells to burn fat for energy, and like any other body part, cells get better at their job when they are called upon to do that job frequently. “Use it or lose it.”
There at least seems to be a consensus shared by every major dietary camp that avoiding (or at least severely restricting) processed foods is a good thing for health and weight control. So eating a diet of “whole foods” is a huge step in the right direction.
I would like to add the suggestion of reducing our intake of grains (including wheat, rice, corn, oats, and rye), as this “food group” is essentially a source of starch (which the body breaks down to sugar) and a smattering of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
There are no nutrients in grains that are not available for a lower carbohydrate “cost” in vegetables.
In other words, if you simply replace grains with an equivalent-calorie amount of vegetables, you will get far more “bang-for-your-calorie-buck.”
In the end, both men shook hands and basically “agreed to disagree”, and there was really no clear “winner” of the debate.
I have to commend Dr. Oz for having guests on his show with opposing views. At least he is presenting both sides, and it is up to the viewers to digest the information and make an informed choice.
Did you happen to see this episode of Dr. Oz? Do you have any comments you’d like to share?
Please let me know…
Robert J. Stone