Today I dredged up some four-year-old crap that CNN put out. Back in 2010 they reported that a “Nutrition Professor” from Kansas had eaten a reduced-calorie diet that was mostly snack and junk foods. According to him his blood chemistry readings improved and over ten weeks he lost 27 pounds.
The problem with a “news” report like this is that, given the professor is a nutrition professor, the story has the aura of science surrounding it. A real scientific study would not contain one subject, that subject would not perform his own measurements, and the conclusion would not be stated at the beginning of the testing. This professor went into this to prove that it doesn’t matter what you eat, just losing weight by restricting calories will improve your health markers.
I am not a dietary scientist, so I am not qualified to destroy the results of this work. Losing weight has health benefits, but a calorie is not just a calorie. Getting all of your calories, or the majority, as in this case, from sugar is unhealthful to the extreme. Many people get their news by reading the headlines and will undoubtedly miss the point of this ‘study’ that showed that losing weight is an isolated good. Those people will just see that eating twinkies is not unhealthy.
I searched around for somewhere that a more qualified person could analyze the results of this ‘study’ and I found this:
In this blog post, the author goes by Raj, and I could not find other name information, perhaps he will see this post and provide more information in the comments.
An excerpt or two:
Hence clearly he [Haub] was on a daily deficit of much more than 800 calories. As a matter of fact, in order to lose 2.7 lbs per week he had to be on a calorie deficit of ~ 1,350 calories. Assuming the 2,600 calorie number is accurate, Haub should have eaten ~ 1250 calories per day for 10 weeks in order to lose the 27 lbs!
Point one, the data collection in this study is questionable.
His “bad cholesterol” or LDL dropped by 20% – His LDL dropped from 153 to 123 which isn’t much at all considering he lost a whopping 27 lbs. Also, judgement on this is reserved until the particle size of his LDLs have been measured. A high (processed) carb low calorie diet reduces your LDL but converts them into small dense particles which are lethal.
His “good cholesterol” or HDL increased by 20% – Once again this is not much at all. His HDL went from 37 to 46 which is not remarkable by any standards. I compared my blood work from the days of low-fat grain based eating to my blood work after starting to eat a low-carb, real food based diet (paleo/primal) per diet guidelines from Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, Richard Nikoley and Martin Berkhan (IF). My HDL increased by a whopping 85% (39 to 72) for a weight gain of ~ 5 lbs!
He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent (120 to 75). – When you consume a surplus of calories (fat or carbs or protein), the body uses what it needs to fuel your activities and converts the rest to triglycerides (and subsequently stores it as fat). But when you are at a calorie deficit you are consuming lesser calories than is required by your body. This means that the body has no surplus calories to convert to triglycerides. As a matter of fact, your body taps into the body fat stores for energy resulting in fat loss.
So, once again, a 39% drop in triglycerides for a 27 lbs weight loss is shameful. I, once again, compared my blood work from the days of low-fat grain based eating to my blood work after starting to eat a low-carb, real food based diet (paleo/primal). My triglycerides dropped by a whopping 83% (170 to 29) for a weight gain of ~ 5 lbs!
There is more to every story than meets the eye. The CNN headline was ‘Eye Bait’ to get viewers to look at them. It worked on me, four years later. I knew that there was more to it than that headline, I read the story. After reading the story I knew there was more to it than was reported, I hit Google. I found what I wanted, thank you “Harder.Better.Faster.Stronger.”
Ninety percent of the population will not research a story they read on the internet, despite the fact that it is so easy. We have all seen over and over the Snopes debunked things passed around like the wave at a sports stadium. It’s so easy to find out they are fakes, but people keep reading, believing, passing. Most of them are harmless.
Bad science stories about diet and nutrition do hurt. Places like CNN should revise or take their stories down. People will read and reap the rewards of continued poor diet owing to this kind of ‘science’ story.
I went to Haubs’ Facebook page and he has a lot of stories that support sugar not really being to blame for health problems or obesity. It makes one wonder.