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Gary Taubes on the Dr. Oz show: Some thoughts

Posted on March 8th, 2011 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

So it finally happened, the big “debate” between Gary Taubes and Dr. Oz on Dr. Oz’s show. First, I want to say I respect Dr. Oz for having Gary on his show. However, that is where the positive comments are going to end.

First thing, why can’t there be an intelligent discussion on the topic of nutritional strategies for weight loss? The discussions or debates are usually given in an all or nothing format. For instance, Dr Oz presented his carb based diet vs Gary’s NO carbs. That is not what Gary presents, not that I am defending Gary’s overall thesis statement regarding “why we get fat”. But it is not about no carbs, however that is an option, it is about less carbs than what is recommended by the ADA, USDA Food Pyramid, etc. So, in reality, a 40% carb intake can be considered a low carb diet. So why present it in such an either or choice? Well, it is probably better for TV ratings. But if Dr. Oz is so determined to present the BEST information to his audience then why allow such a false dichotomies and misleading information?

Second thing; the saturated fat aspect. The first thing I want to say to Dr. Oz is REALLY!? Then I want to ask him if he has read the research that has been published over the past decade or so. He is so concerned about saturated fat intake even though the evidence that saturated fat intake causes heart disease or cancer is very weak. The way he presented his side about saturated fat and heart disease is just silly!

Third thing; the one day diet Dr. Oz went on. Talk about a load of crap! Gary tried to point out that this was a virtually meaningless experiment, but was not allowed to finish his thoughts on that, or at least it was not presented when it was aired. I agree, what does that have to do with the validity of a lower carb diet for weight loss? Dr. Oz really sold it, with the “I felt tired”, “I was constipated”, and it just didn’t feel good! What a load of crap. Seriously, there are so many inherent problems with that type of information and Dr Oz should know better. Also, although the diet was certainly low carb, it certainly could have had other food options that would not of made it appear to be full of processed (bacon, pepperoni, pork rinds) foods. He compared the steak to a piece of salmon. Why? These are both perfectly acceptable on a low carb diet. Again, another false dichotomy. He also compared a serving of walnuts and an orange with some cheese and pepperoni. I think this is another poor comparison. An ounce or two of walnuts and an small to medium orange would certainly fit into a low carb diet, but not in a ketogenic diet. If you are eating say 75-100 grams of carbs a day, certainly a low carb diet, the snack of walnuts and a piece of fruit would certainly fit into that amount. You would need to keep the carbs low in the other meals, but certainly having a big serving of the non-starchy veggies would be not problem at all of the other meals.

Fourth thing; fruits for antioxidants. Yes, fruits, particularly berries have a lot of potentially beneficial substances in them. But, you can get plenty of anti-oxidants, anti-cancer, etc substances from non-starchy veggies. Not to mention that there are numerous substances (zoochemicals) found in animal based foods that have many health promoting benefits.

Final thing; exercise and weight loss. Gary used is common phrase when he discusses this subject “Do you remember the old saying of working up an appetite from exercise”. Because this is or was a common phrase somehow demonstrates that exercise will ONLY increase appetite. Is this a solid scientific argument? Gary should know better than to use this kind of reasoning to try to support his view. The subject matter is much more complex than he presents it here as well as in GCBC. This is not to say that I think exercise is great for weight loss (Matt and I discuss this in the book) but the subject matter certainly does not come down to some common phrase given by your parents.

Clearly the goal of the show is to get people to tune-in and get big paying sponsors so to expect a well reasoned and clear presentation of the facts is probably not on the top of this list of the executives. But, if Dr Oz has a mission to give people the truth about what is good or not for their health then it should be at the top of the list. In the end the show got Gary some big exposure which is great for him. But it really didn’t give people a clear message on why a lower carb diet is useful, what a low carb diet really is, and how to do a low carb diet that will elicit the benefits. It is my feeling that if a person was not familiar with low carb diets it is likely that they were not swayed by the show to pursue this type of eating style.

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3 Responses to “Gary Taubes on the Dr. Oz show: Some thoughts”

  1. Alan Beall says:

    I thought that Gary Taubes missed several good opportunities to make salient points. He failed to explain how saturated fats are preferable to PUFAs, saying only that trans fats should be avoided. Then he failed to refute the logic behind Dr. Oz’s demonstration of artery-clogging fats when Oz made a tube out of pepperoni and stuffed it with the cheese stick. This is consistent with Oz’s general concept of the relationship between saturated fat and heart disease. (In a previous show, Dr. Oz had made the comment that saturated fat remains solid in the human body, which is ridiculous on at least two fronts: 1) saturated fats become liquid at 98.6 degrees F, and 2) dietary fat does not enter into the bloodstream without first going through a complex digestion system.) Taubes also failed to explain why Total Cholesterol numbers are meaningless and why excessive carbohydrates, rather than fats, are responsible for high triglyceride numbers, which are important. He also failed to talk about rancidity issues in PUFAs that lead to oxidized cholesterol, which is a problem. Finally, Taubes failed to ask Oz why he now approves of coconut oil if saturated fat is so bad for you.

    • Jeff Thiboutot M.S. says:

      Thanks for commenting.
      I agree that Gary could have made some more bold statements and challenged Dr. Oz more. But, as I said in my post, it is likely the producers of the show limited Gary’s ability to say what he really wanted to say plus he may have said some good stuff but it was edited out. Clearly Dr. Oz is talking out of his ass when he says shit like “sat fats remain solid in the body, etc”.

  2. Carmel Campbell says:

    I agree with most of the discussion here. If you want to hear Gary Taubes defend himself regarding the appearance on Dr. Oz, there is a very good web site called Jimmy Moore Living la Vita Low Carb. there are excellent other guest too.

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