Making “Low Carb” A Murderer – Part 2 of 2 – Broken from the start

Broken from the start

(This is part 2 of a 2 part series examining a study posted in The Lancet in August 2018 suggesting that low carb diets will increase your chance of dying early. This series will highlight the conduct surrounding the study by the researchers and those who reported on it in the media [Part 1], as well as the technical limitations and flaws of study itself [Part 2].) 

In Part 1, we investigated the social and scientific impact of observational studies and the scientists who report them. Specifically, we looked at this study published by The Lancet Public Health: Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis 

The key takeaways were:

  • The Lancet Study is in no way relevant to any modern low carb diet (ie. What the world considers a low carb diet or a ketogenic diet)
  • The review process for submitting scientific papers to journals leaves wiggle room for legitimate papers to have a mix of fact and author interpretation of data, as long as the author uses the correct language to distinguish the two. Sometimes this can lead to both misinterpretation of theory as fact by readers (including media outlets).
  • Scientists (researchers in general) are humans, at the end of the day, with  career, personal and team based motivations. Whether they believe they are doing the right thing or not, their motivations might add an unwarranted bias into scientific literature.
  • Everyone should learn to examine studies from various angles in order to come to their own conclusion. Don’t just listen to MY interpretation of it. Try to consider potential motivations of the authors, spot misleading information and behavior, acknowledge your own own biases as a reader, and maybe even try your hand at analyzing the technical details of a study.

In part 2, we will be doing just that. We will critically look at how the study was designed and how the author’s interpreted the data. Here are some of the points we will touch upon:

  • Review of what an epidemiology study’s actual purpose is
  • Where the Lancet study’s data came from
  • Whether or not their data is reliable
  • The supposed impracticality, suggested by the author, of directly studying low carb diets against mortality
  • The real long-term effects of low carb diets in contrast to all other diets

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Making “Low Carb” a Murderer – Part 1 of 2 – Mischief & Manipulation

death-1
(This is part 1 of a 2 part series examining a study posted in The Lancet in August 2018 suggesting that low carb diets will increase your chance of dying early. This series will highlight the conduct surrounding the study by the researchers and those who reported on it in the media [Part 1], as well as the technical limitations and flaws of study itself [Part 2].) 

A comprehensive guide on spotting shoddy science, by example.

On August 16, 2018, The Lancet published a paper, titled Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis 

Immediately, people started reaching out to me with links from news sites saying things like “New study finds that popular low carb diets could shorten life.” Before reading the study, I already knew what kind of study it was… I considered this my call to action. Although the world is more open-minded than ever towards reconsidering stale public health recommendations, it’s evident that there is still a need for guides that can help keep minds open and progress on track.

This is my analysis and response towards the study and the researchers who were involved. This is my attempt at teaching the average Joe/Jane (maybe that’s you) to critically assess studies for themselves and come up with their own takeaways.

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The Ketogenic Diet and the Silent Observer

photo-1480618213131-3abfec8a53cd

It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve touched this blog.

Why now? Let’s take a step back.

I started my ketogenic journey way back about a decade ago. If you’ve read my article “Journey to Blogland”, you have the low-down of where my dieting story began. I’ve been varying degrees of curious, hopeful, skeptical, downright obsessed, underconfident, overconfident, and everything in between for the last 12-14 years.

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A Year Later, We’re All Losing It

Dancing at our wedding after having lost a lot of weight

Losing “it” meaning weight of course
And maybe our minds as evidenced by my wife’s dance moves.

I’ve been out of the blogging arena for far too long. However, my interest in health and nutrition has not faded. I know I owe you all so much information since I haven’t truly updated this blog in over a year! But everytime I had an hour to write, I’d think… wow it’s been so long… the task of summing everything that happened in the last year, all the things I wanted to write about from the beginning, all the things I’ve experienced since then, all the things I’ve learned from research and self experimentation and tracking. Where do I even begin? The task seemed so daunting. And each day that I didn’t write, the task became more scary. So much pressure! What do I write and what do I leave out for now?

My wife (yes, we got married, finally!) knows that the one of the few things on my mind day and night is nutrition. It’s come to the point where we’d go on date nights, or spend a nice night together at home, and she’d start it off with “OK, let’s make a deal, no talk about nutrition tonight.” And I’d struggle to find a different topic to talk about. I need a different outlet (this blog) other than nutritional word vomit towards my wife. So here goes… just winging it! I apologize for the lack of brevity… but you should know me better than that by now! But I will try to keep it at least semi reasonable :)

Or if you are truly too lazy or busy to read, you can just scroll through the pics to see some of our progress. But you shouldn’t be lazy. It’s not good for you! :P

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Vanishing Act

Where'd You Go?

It’s been a good 9 months since I’ve written anything on this blog. And I apologize for keeping you waiting. Over the last year, I’ve had a lot of readers and lots of friends and family messaging me on Facebook with questions etc. I hope I’ve inspired people to explore the topic further than what they’ve found in my blog so far. I’ve also gotten a couple of ping backs (references to my blog on other sites – primarily forums) and this last one (I’m looking at you, certain Mark’s Daily Apple forum/journal person!) really encouraged me to, at the very least, let you all know that I haven’t given up. I’m still going strong and believe in this diet as the optimal way of eating and living a healthier and longer life. And I definitely still intend to continue writing.

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Weight Loss Journey So Far!

weighing-in

The results are in! Today, I got a hydrostatic body fat test to find out just how effective my low-carb lifestyle is. But before the big before and after photo reveal- here’s a little about how the test works.

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Calories Matter… Sort of…

Calorie Counting

“People [...] ate a total of 65,000 more calories and lost 141% more weight.”
How could this be possible?

Calories in VS. calories out

You have all heard it. It’s undisputed. I mean, it’s the first law of thermodynamics: matter and/or energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. So, in order to lose those pesky pounds, the “calories in/calories out” model tells us that we need to expend more energy than we consume in order to lose weight.

Most people understand this concept. If you eat more calories than you expend through things like exercise and just simply the energy required by your organs to function normally, then you gain weight. I am not here to dispute that fact. But I am here to challenge the idea that calories is what you should focus on to regulate fat storage or fat loss. Calories should simply NOT be your focus if you want to lose weight and be healthy.

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The Ketogenic Primer: The Guide To A Scientifically Healthy Diet

Caution! Bread!

It’s been a while since I posted. It isn’t that I forgot about or abandoned this blog. I’ve been wanting to post for some time now. But I knew the next post had to be the big reveal on what the diet is. I wanted to get it right. But I came to realize after 2 weeks of stalling that it will never get done if I don’t just take a stab at it. I accepted that this won’t be the 100% primer for this diet (or shall I say “lifestyle” since a diet might imply that it is a temporary change) and I may miss some very important points along the way, but the good thing about a blog is I can dive into the fine details in individual posts. So if you have questions, ask them in the comments and I’ll either answer them there, in a series of blog posts, or both.

Anyways, if you want to know the science, read all the sections. It is a very long post (probably will be my longest ever) but I encourage you to understand it all and empower yourself (otherwise you may just be seen as someone following another “fad diet”). Otherwise, skip to the bottom to read what my diet consists of. But make sure you come back and read all the sciencey stuff later!

Addendum 2018 – Inspiration: It’s worth it to take care of yourself.

Since the original writing of this article (originally written in 2012, I’m adding to this post now in 2018), it has been read by many ketogenic newcomers. Since this post should serve as your guide to what a a ketogenic is and inspire the curious to explore more, I’m adding this progress animation that I posted in a 2013 update.

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Heart Surgeon Explains What Really Causes Heart Disease

Heart Surgeon

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.
– Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D.

Big thanks to Ryan Chan () for pointing out this article: Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease

I know, I know. This isn’t what I said my next blog post would be on. But… I went to the dog park today and overheard this elderly looking woman talking on her cell phone. I am going to go out on a limb and say she was on the call with her husband (or someone of a similar age). I caught her asking, “Did you check your cholesterol today?” And just minutes before, Ryan had posted this link on a Facebook comment for this blog, as well as in the comments of my second blog post. It was this moment where everything seemed more serious and more real than it had before. I mean obviously I want to prevent the disease in myself, but it was just one of those “duh” moments. The epiphany was that people have these issues right now and that people died today and are going to continue to die of these causes. I know… dramatic. Was just in one of those moods I guess.

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What Lies Ahead

The Journey Ahead

I’ve been sitting around debating, “What is my next post going to be? In what order do I want to write these topics?” I really want to hit on a lot of the key points in science in the early posts to really set a strong foundation before I jump into lighter stuff. But I don’t want it to get so heavy that I’m boring everyone to death. I’ve been getting lots of requests for recipes, typical meal plans, etc. And that is something I’m planning on doing very soon. So I think naturally, the next few blog posts will be some order of these things:

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