Of the carbohydrate obesity thesis? Check out Stephen Guyenet’s lastest post about a new study that finds that sugar has to be palatable to be fattening in mice. In other words, despite an increase in calories from sugarwater, mice whose sugar receptor taste buds had been knocked out did not gain weight like normal mice.
Whatever conclusions different people might draw from this study, I think it goes to show that, however fat gain and loss works, it is just a heckuva lot more complicated than the carbohydrate-insulin obesity thesis most recently popularized by Gary Taubes.
For my part, I’ve added roughly six pounds of potatoes per week back into my diet over the last nine months and haven’t gained an ounce. Not saying a low-carb approach to Paleo isn’t right for some, just that the whole “safe starch” thing is working really well for me and I feel great.
It’s easy to get too obsessed and mechanistic in our thinking about the extent to which we can control our health by controlling our diet. If the crazy stuff coming out the field of epigenetics suggests anything, it is that health is about a rich array of dietary and lifestyle factors that all interact with each other in complex ways.
To me, it makes the whole macronutrient debate look pretty silly. And as the New York Times has reported, it’s not about the numbers alone. It’s about the total lifestyle that went into producing the numbers.
In the long run, once you’re eating a relatively clean diet, variants on that just pale in comparison to things like stress levels, time outdoors, sleep, community, etc. In other words, many of the aspects of the lives of traditional/paleo peoples that are so hard to replicate in the modern world. Perhaps given that difficulty, focus on the one thing we can control most easily–diet–is understandable.