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Gary Taubes / Robert Lustig Conundrum

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  • Gary Taubes / Robert Lustig Conundrum

    Last night I watched the new "Authors@Google" video with Gary Taubes. The Lecture was "Why we get fat," which reflects the position most of us know so well and which was very well exemplified in Mark's recent "Paradigm" post.
    Video Here: YouTube - ‪Authors@Google: Gary Taubes‬‏

    At Google, Taubes mentions his recent NY times article "Is Sugar Toxic" which I read next, Taubes talks first and foremost about Robert Lustig, who believes sugar is toxic and "the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years." The particular sugar in the article is fructose and high-fructose corn syrup. Taubes gives a disclaimer (by page 3 or 4) that he thinks Lustig is right.
    Found here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/ma...1&ref=magazine

    I clicked through to Lustig lecture "Sugar: the Bitter Truth" from 2009 (USF), and from Lustig learned, most importantly, that Fructose does not drive insulin. (Lustig goes so far as to refer to glucose as something like the "food of life") Found Here:
    YouTube - ‪Sugar: The Bitter Truth‬‏

    Lustig asks Taubes why he ignored sucrose at the end of another Taubes lecture from 2009 from which Taubes sort of admits that "it is concievable that sugar [sucrose, fructose] is the primary problem."
    YouTube - ‪Robert Lustig yells at Gary Taubes about ignoring dangers of Fructose sugar 11/27/07‬‏ asked

    So I guess the problem is pretty obvious by now. Taubes has said many times carbohydrates drive insulin drives fat. The only carb he can be talking about here is glucose. But if you say fructose drives fat without driving insulin, then insulin doesn't appear to be fundamental in fat storage.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    He's speaking in reference to the "obesity" epidemic. Lustig is postulating that obesity rates would not be as high as they are if it were not for the massive sugar consumption in the western diet. Taubes agrees based on the science that is out there.

    This is not to say that people who have damaged metabolisms or who are naturally insulin resistant would not still be obese if they cut out sugar from their diet. Carbohydrate consumption in the form of glucose can still lead to the insulin rollercoaster that drives obesity. But would fewer people be fat if sugar was not so prevalent in diet? Most likely.

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    • #3
      Lustig: Sugar -> Lots of Fructose -> Insulin resistance
      Taubes: Carbs + Insulin resistance -> fat accumulation

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      • #4
        Troll
        This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

        Any given day you are surrounded by 10,000 idiots.
        Lao Tsu, founder of Taoism

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        • #5
          I believe that Lustig argues that fructose's effect on obesity is not directly mediated through insulin and insulin resistance but rather on hepatic metabolic pathways that suppress beta-oxidation and promote fat neogenesis. The fructose analogy is to alcohol, which rapidly shuts down ketogenic liver pathways in favor of glycolytic activity. Therefore, the adverse effect of the combination of fructose and glucose, or fructose and alcohol, on obesity is compounded. I hope this superficial explanation is sufficient and makes sense. Clarifications and elaborations are invited.

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          • #6
            there isn't really a conundrum here as Taubes and Lustig are fans of each others work. +1 to what swfowkes said.

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            • #7
              I know I'm late to this conversation...

              But my thought would be why do they have to be mutually exclusive? The fat storage caused by insulin could be equally as deleterious and the fat production of the liver from Fructose. I don’t see how they have to be mutually exclusive…

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              • #8
                Or maybe they are a couple of jackasses.

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                • #9
                  The main problem I have with 'nutrition expert' explanations is that they tend to sound good on paper, but they don't take into account that we actually know very little about the complex interactions that happen in our bodies when we consume food and their theories thus end up being simplistic and superficial.

                  My personal experience has shown me that eating high fat/low carb depresses my metabolism and causes fat gain.

                  When I lower dietary fat intake and increase carbs in the form of both starches and sugars (sucrose AND fructose), my metabolism increases and I lose fat without really trying.

                  Also, my appetite is significantly lower on a higher carb/low fat diet.

                  So, I'm experiencing the OPPOSITE of what Taubes' or Lustig predict would happen, which tells me they are missing a big piece of the puzzle somewhere.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tadas View Post
                    Lustig: Sugar -> Lots of Fructose -> Insulin resistance
                    Taubes: Carbs + Insulin resistance -> fat accumulation
                    +1......seems to sum up their differences quite well.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BestBetter View Post
                      The main problem I have with 'nutrition expert' explanations is that they tend to sound good on paper, but they don't take into account that we actually know very little about the complex interactions that happen in our bodies when we consume food and their theories thus end up being simplistic and superficial.

                      My personal experience has shown me that eating high fat/low carb depresses my metabolism and causes fat gain.

                      When I lower dietary fat intake and increase carbs in the form of both starches and sugars (sucrose AND fructose), my metabolism increases and I lose fat without really trying.

                      Also, my appetite is significantly lower on a higher carb/low fat diet.

                      So, I'm experiencing the OPPOSITE of what Taubes' or Lustig predict would happen, which tells me they are missing a big piece of the puzzle somewhere.
                      Everything has to start with a theory. And theories, by their nature, tend to be rather simplistic. They only offer one POSSIBLE explanation for certain phenomenons, though there may be several. Theories are what drive research and simplistic though they be, this is a good thing.

                      In this case, as I always say, nutrition is individual. Some people may fit the Taubes and Lustig theories dead on. Others may only fit one or the other. Still others may fit neither. Metabolism, and how people react to different foods is completely individual, based on a range of factors including genes, fitness level, healthiness of the current diet, ect. Just because these theories don't seem to fit you PERSONALLY does not mean they are wrong for everyone. More research needs to be done into these issues and I think even Taubes and Lustig would agree with that statement. I think they would also agree that their theories are just that, theories, and may not fit for everyone.
                      "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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