Isn’t It Time For Anthony Colpo to Get a Life?

[See the update at the end of the post]

Given his poor, childish, counter-productive behavior I kinda hate to plug the one of his works that’s unparalleled: The Great Cholesterol Con. While there are a couple of other books along these lines, Anthony Colpo’s book is the most comprehensive, well researched, and really serves as a great reference. I keep it handy at all times.

But Jesus is the guy ever a total asshat; by which I mean an asshole, but wrongly directed, no point. Do we not have enough total crap to go after from the cholesterol scammers to the fat scammers to the soy scammers to the anti-meat scammers to the statin scammers and on and on?

In case you don’t know, Colpo has run a most ridiculous campaign against Dr. Michael Eades, begun way back in 2008 or before. You can see all the posts at his state-of-the-art website.

What’s the dispute about? Dr. Eades thinks that low-carb diets afford some small “metabolic advantage” which he estimates at around 100-300 kcal per day and which is responsible for part of the success people achieve in a low-carb diet. In other words, if you had two people, one on low-fat high-carb and the other reverse, low-carb high-fat, the latter might lose at best an extra pound every couple of weeks, give or take, all else remaining equal. Is Dr. Eades right about that? I don’t honestly know, and hey, even if I disagreed and strongly, is that any reason to relentlessly pursue him in the manner Colpo has done? Is Eades out there carbing patients up so they’ll take plenty of insulin? Is he out there statinating people who don’t need them (only men under 65 with a previous coronary event or at super high risk benefit)?

The whole thing had seemed to have died out and Colpo was nowhere to be seen until recently, when his book got picked up by a German publisher and some conventional wisdom doc in Germany gave it the typical review, based partly on the fact that Colpo is uncredentialled as a medical practitioner or researcher and partly on mistakes he claims are in the book (that contradict conventional “wisdom”). Colpo did a good job of defending his position, but I just wonder: if he really wants to be a researcher and publish, is that the right approach? I know that my tone — if I were to do that — would be a lot different than this blog.

But then it wasn’t long until he had to spout nonsense about low-carb dieting: Can Low-Carb Diets Make You Crazy? When I read drivel like this I just can’t take hardly any of it seriously.

There is little controversy that food can affect one’s mental functioning. The mere act of eating itself can cause changes in mood and cognition, regardless of dietary composition. It is well established, for example, that skipping breakfast results in a prolonged hypoglycaemic state that results in poorer cognitive performance. [emphasis added]

That’s certainly not my experience nor the experience of many others who are so naive about human physiology, metabolism, and their own well-being that they have the audacity to eat only when they’re actually hungry. Stuff like this simply doesn’t pass the evolutionary smell test. In fact, it makes far more sense that genus Homo performed with heightened alertness when hungry, even starving. And it’s not like the people who survived an ice age to eventually give rise to our ancestors were existing on three squares.

I wonder what Colpo would say about those of us so crazy as to not only skip breakfast, but to also go get in a hard workout in a completely fasted state. I wonder if he’s aware that doing that actually raises one’s fasting glucose substantially, often 20 points or more. For instance, I can take my fasting BG of 80 and bring it to 100 with a heavy workout even 24 hours and more into a fast. Others who’ve performed the same self experiment report similar results. How can this be? More importantly, what would or should 10,000 studies mean to me even if they all ‘well establish’ that you’ll go hypo if you don’t eat your breakfast?

At any rate, since Colpo came back on the scene Dr. Eades was motivated to finally do a review of a portion of one of Colpo’s other books. And now, Colpo comes back with a vengeance and it’s silly, I think.

I’m not going to get into the arguments either way because you know what? I just don’t care that much. I know that for myself eating low-carb paleoish, I steadily lost weight. Even when I would eat enormous steaks dripping in butter or other fatty sauces, handfuls of nuts at night and for a long while, a 2-3 egg omelet almost every night, usually with bacon or cheese. Then there were the evenings — several hours after dinner — where I’d cook up a dozen slices of bacon, as a snack. And there were the fat bombs. What I noted was that for me, so long as I kept the fat high and the carbs low I could eat as much as I wanted and I would not gain substantial weight. For my entire 60 pounds of loss over 2 1/2 years it was a constant fluctuation of about 4 pounds either way, but in a downward trend.

Metabolic advantage, caloric deficit, or what? Does it matter? All I really know for sure is that when I’m hungry I can eat a lot, a little or a ginormous amount and while keeping it high in fat and low in carb I have continued steadily to lose fat.

I recently came across a comment by Dr. Eades on an old 2007 post of his that I think offers an idea that at least makes sense from my own experience. In essence: the real “metabolic advantage” of low-carb is not so much in weight loss as in preventing weight gain when consuming excess calories as fat.

Your comment raises an interesting question. Where does all the excess energy go?

I’ve had a number of patients and countless letters from readers who have had the same experience. They consume a ton of fat, but don’t gain weight…or even, as with the guy you described, lose a little. Mostly the letters we get are from people who complain that they are following our diet to the letter, yet not losing weight. When we investigate, we find that in virtually every case these people are consuming huge numbers of calories as primarily fat. We always ask them if it doesn’t strike them as strange that they’re eating as much as they are, yet not gaining.

In order to lose weight, one must create a caloric deficit. This can be done in a number of ways. People can burn more calories by increasing exercise; they can eat fewer calories; or they can increase their metabolic rate. Or they can do any combination of the above.

Most people going on a low-carb diet decrease their caloric intake. A low-carb diet is satiating, so most people eat much less than they think they are eating even though the foods they’re consuming are pretty high in fat. Some people, however, can eat a whole lot on a low-carb diet, and, can in fact, eat so much that they don’t create the caloric deficit and don’t lose weight. But the interesting thing is that they don’t gain weight either. They pretty much stay the same. They are eating huge numbers of calories and not gaining, so where do the calories go?

First, I don’t think they go out in the bowel. If they did, people would have cosmic pizza grease stools whenever they ate a lot of fat over a period of time, and they don’t. And a number of studies have shown that increasing fat in the diet doesn’t increase fat in the stool.

Eating a very-low-carbohydrate diet ensures that insulin levels stay low. Unless insulin levels are up, it’s almost impossible to store fat in the fat cells. With high insulin levels fat travels into the fat cell; with low insulin levels fat travels out. So, it’s pretty safe to say that the fat isn’t stored. So what happens to it?

The body requires about 200 grams of glucose per day to function properly. About 70 grams of this glucose can be replaced by ketone bodies, leaving around 130 grams that the body has to come up with, which it does by converting protein to glucose and by using some of the glycerol backbone of the triglyceride molecule (the form in which fat is stored) for glucose. If one eats carbs, the carbs are absorbed as glucose and it doesn’t take much energy for the body to come up with its 200 gram requirement; if, however, one isn’t eating any carbohydrates, the body has to spend energy to convert the protein and trigylceride to glucose. That’s one reason that the caloric requirements go up on a low-carb diet.

The other reason is that the body increases futile cycling. What are futile cycles? Futile cycles are what give us our body temperature of 98.6 degrees. Futile cycles are just what the name implies: a cycle that requires energy yet accomplishes nothing. It operates much like you would if you took rocks from one pile and piled them in another, then took them from that pile and piled them back where they were to start with. A lot of work would have been expended with no net end result.

The body has many systems that can cycle this way, and all of them require energy. Look up the malate-aspartate shuttle; that’s one that often cycles futilely.

Another way the body dumps calories is through the inner mitochondrial membrane. This gets a little complicated, but I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible. The body doesn’t use fat or glucose directly as fuel. These substances can be thought of as crude oil. You can’t burn crude oil in your car, but you can burn gasoline. The crude oil is converted via the refining process into the gasoline you can burn. It’s the same with fat, protein and glucose–they must be converted into the ‘gasoline’ for the body, which is a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). How does this conversion take place? That’s the complicated part.

ATP is made from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) in an enzymatic structure called ATP synthase, which is a sort of turbine-like structure that is driven by the electromotive force created by the osmotic and electrical difference between the two sides of the inner mitochondrial membrane. One one side of the membrane are many more protons than on the other side. The turbine-like ATP synthase spans the membrane, and as the protons rush through from the high proton side to the low proton side (much like water rushing through a turbine in a dam from the high-water side to the low-water side) the turbine converts ADP to ATP.

The energy required to get the protons heavily concentrated on one side so that they will rush through the turbine comes from the food we eat. Food is ultimately broken down to high-energy electrons. These electrons are released into a series of complex molecules along the inner mitochondrial membrane. Each complex passes the electrons to the next in line (much like a bucket brigade), and at each pass along the way, the electrons give off energy. This energy is used to pump protons across the membrane to create the membrane electromotive force that drives the turbines. The electrons are handed off from one complex to the other until at the end of the chain they are attached to oxygen to form water. (If one of these electrons being passed along the chain of complexes somehow escapes before it reaches the end, it becomes a free radical. This is where most free radicals come from.)

There are two parts to the whole process. The process of converting ADP to ATP is called phosphorylation and the process of the electrons ultimately attaching to oxygen is called oxidation. The combined process is called oxidative phosphorylation. It is referred to as ‘uncoupling’ when, for whatever reason, the oxidation process doesn’t lead to the phosphorylation process. Anything that causes this uncoupling is called an ‘uncoupling agent.’

You can see that the whole process requires some means of regulation. If not, then the electromotive force (called the protonmotive force, since it’s an unequal concentration of protons causing the force) can build up to too great a level. If one overconsumes food and doesn’t need the ATP, then the protonmotive force would build up and not be discharged through the turbines because the body doesn’t need the ATP. The body has accounted for this problem with pores through the inner mitochondrial membrane where protons can drift through as the concentration builds too high and by proteins called uncoupling proteins that actually pump the protons back across. So we expend food energy to pump protons one way, then more energy to pump them back.

One of the things that happens on a high fat diet is that the body makes more uncoupling proteins. So, with carbs low and fat high, the body compensates, not by ditching fat in the stool, but by increasing futile cycling and by increasing the numbers of uncoupling proteins and even increasing the porosity of the inner mitochondrial membrane so that the protons that required energy to be moved across the membrane are then moved back. So, ultimately, just like the rocks in my example above, the protons are taken from one pile and moved to another then moved back to the original pile, requiring a lot of energy expenditure with nothing really accomplished.

This is probably all as clear as mud, but it is what happens to the excess calories on a low-carb, high-fat diet.

So if this is actually the mechanism then it would explain to me how I continued to lose even though I was often eating huge amounts of fat-laden food, often at night. Very simply, overeating fat didn’t make me gain appreciable weight even doing that several nights in a row. And then I’d do a fast, lose 1/2 – 1 pounds in a day, and the cycle repeats. Refeading puts on less or no weight than had come off.

So, the advantage of low carb might be that you get to take advantage of the caloric deficit days and you get somewhat of a pass on the pig-out days against washing away all of your loss.

But will there be any essential difference long term? Will it all eventually wash out somewhere and every pound of weight loss equals a total of 3,500 kcals in deficit somewhere along the way? Does the 60 pounds I lost over 2 1/2 years mean necessarily that I consumed exactly 210,000 less calories than my metabolism required?

I don’t know. That would mean that assuming a base metabolism of 2,000 kcal (5’10, 175, 49yoa gives BMR = 1,864) I’d have gone the equivalent of 105 days of not eating in the space of 912 days or once every 8.7 days. Interestingly, I began fasting a bit less than a year after beginning this and stayed with the intense 2 fasts per week for about a year and since then it has been much more random, not following any schedule, really, and is usually more eating window style where I get a 12-16 hour fast in just about every day, cause I almost always “skip breakfast.”

Lot’s of questions and really, in spite of the studies on either side I’m not really inclined to put much stock in either one. What I do know is that a low-carb approach is a sound approach to decent and sustainable weight loss as demonstrated by millions of people (including traditional hunter-gatherers).

And Anthony Colpo should go get a life. That’s another thing I know.

Later: Maybe research that’s always focussed on weight loss is the wrong approach. How about overfeed subjects on either high-carb or high-fat by 1,000 kcal per day: as fat, as starch, or as sugar. See which group gains the most over a period of time.

3/11/2010: Dr. Eades has posted Part II of his critique of Colpo’s work.

3/3/2012: Things have changed substantially. All explained in this post by Anthony Colpo.

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  1. Alcinda Moore on March 5, 2010 at 13:51

    I’ve always thought that following a low fat diet, unlike a low carb one, requires breakfast and eating every few hours. This is (IMHO) because starches and sugars are metabolized so quickly. I know for myself when I’d be strict following low fat I’d wake up hungry, wait impatiently for my next meal, and go to sleep hungry. With low carb, on the other hand, I only get hungry when I go more than 5-6 hours without food! I almost never wake up hungry and don’t think about food between meals. I normally eat twice a day….with a “3rd meal” before bed if needed or wanted.

    I also know, for me at least, there is a difference in the number of calories I can eat on low carb vs low fat. I would have to keep calories very low (under 1200-1500/day) in order to loose anything on low fat….but on low carb I regularly eat 1800-2200 calories a day and still loose! I do feel that a lot of the difference is natural vs processed foods. Eating natural foods you know what you are getting….but how many additional calories are you eating when you eat processed foods?

    And yea….Colpo needs to get over himself and move on!

    • Maryc on March 5, 2010 at 18:59

      Oh soooooo true, i really believe there is no way in this world anyone will be able to eat only 2-3 HCLF meals without applying a sort of super-human willpower… Just imposible o_O

    • Scott Pierce on March 6, 2010 at 05:37

      This is almost exactly my pattern. And along with this post, I have often thought about how it is I can consume what is seemingly high-calorie and yet not gain or even lose weight. Certainly high fat causes increased satiation; however, I also believe in the consequences of lectins on leptins in regards to satiation signaling.

    • Dana on March 8, 2010 at 23:47

      At various times I track my intake when I’m low-carbing. One time I logged myself eating 2900 calories in a day. Yes, I was still losing weight. And I don’t exercise at this time. (I’m kinda jiggly and… well… no. Ew.)

      I was interested to learn via Gary Taubes that 1800 calories is considered the semi-starvation threshold, and that at one time it was considered normal and healthy for Americans to eat between 2000 and 3000 calories a day, more if you were a guy. And there weren’t as many fat people as there are now.

  2. paleozone on March 5, 2010 at 12:22

    “….to the satin scammers….” oh how i hate those satin scammers, pushing there less than silky smooth fabrics! just kidding….good read as always…

  3. JD Moyer on March 5, 2010 at 12:44

    Regarding exercise, fasting, and mental clarity, the body’s ability to use lactic acid as a brain fuel is underappreciated. I think I read about it on Art deVany’s site first, but here’s an interesting link:

  4. Meathead on March 5, 2010 at 12:46

    Who wrote that comment? They should write a book!

  5. Alex Thorn on March 5, 2010 at 13:30

    I am currently having this argument, vis-a-vis the Colpo/Eades exchanges, on a another forum I moderate!

    In his dissection of chapter one of Colpo’s Fat Loss Bible the observation that one of the subjects in a study quoted by Colpo (to support his ‘calories count/no metabolic advantage’ stance) actuallyhad to consume more calories on a high fat, low carb diet to maintain his bodyweight at a constant level but had to eat fewer calories on a high carb, low fat diet to achieve the same goal. Colpo fired back that Dr Eades had misread the study data and that both diets had the same caloric value.

    Colpo made the mistake of providing a link to said study and I discovered that Colpo was quoting the caloric value assigned to the diets at the start of the interventions while Dr Eades had correctly quoted the caloric values as adjusted during the intervention to correct for changes in bodyweight!

    Further, if you look at all of the subjects in the various dietary interventions, most had disparate caloric intakes on both low carb/high fat and moderate-to-high carb diets in order to maintain a stable bodyweight. Now it seems to me that, for a study that Colpo is using as evidence for his contention that it is calories only that count and there is no metabolic advantage (or disadvantage) from varying the macronutrient composition of said diets, the data, for the most part, seems to indicate the exact opposite!

    • djinn on March 5, 2010 at 16:28

      I’ve deconstructed quite a few “opposition quoted” studies for friends and the gang over at PaNu, and one thing I find amazing is that the “opposition” can’t seem to read studies. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve remarked “the study is either iso-caloric OR calorie-adjusted.”

      Good nutritional studies are very hard to construct. It may be that the average researcher is not up to the job. And as mentioned by George Carlin, half of them are dumber than that.
      Like Colpo; quoting a study that opposes his argument.

  6. GeeBee on March 5, 2010 at 14:51

    Whenever I hear the term ‘futile cycling’, I always get a mental image of someone sitting on an exercise bike.

  7. William on March 5, 2010 at 15:06

    “There is little controversy that food can affect one’s mental functioning. The mere act of eating itself can cause changes in mood and cognition, regardless of dietary composition. It is well established, for example, that skipping breakfast results in a prolonged hypoglycaemic state that results in poorer cognitive performance. [emphasis added]”

    So how does his analysis explain my great mood all the time? You’re right Richard, this guy is an “asshat,” and drivel is too weak of word to describe his dogma.

    So what am I supposed to do, go back to eating carbs (200 mg’s per day) gain weight (fat) and feel like shit? I fast twelve to fifteen hours each day (sometimes more) and feel great. The only time I go in a “prolonged hypoglycemic (like) state,” is when I eat breakfast loaded with aforementioned carbs, along with fructose laced garbage-food. Am I supposed to go back to as mentioned in previous comments, to a racing heart, painful joints, and lethargy? In other words, am I supposed to feel like a ninety year old man on his last leg? Hell, I’m fifty-five and feel wonderful, have a clean bill of health as evidenced by blood tests. I’m stronger and faster (sprints) than I’d dare say most twenty-five to thirty year old men… this is the same type of nonsense that was reported by the eco-fascists claiming that the freezing ass temperatures in the last few years (especially this year) is due to “global warming.”

    Frankly the only thing that changes my mood, is when I read unadulterated bullshit like this. What is the saying; “going postal?”

    • Dana on March 8, 2010 at 23:57

      “this is the same type of nonsense that was reported by the eco-fascists claiming that the freezing ass temperatures in the last few years (especially this year) is due to ‘global warming.'”

      Dude? Until you’ve actually lived in a fascist country, don’t equate people who are scared to death that we’re wrecking the environment with people like Mussolini and Hitler. You’re not old enough to remember the Holocaust. Be glad.

      I am just as annoyed by idiots who have no background in climate science pronouncing to the rest of us that what’s happening now is “normal” and “desirable to preserve our way of life” as I am by asshats who insist that weight loss is all about calories in, calories out and that we need carbohydrates in our diets. I’m still waiting for them to tell me precisely which carbohydrates are by their definition “essential” the way, say, leucine or vitamin C is.

      Start with this: Climate and weather are two different things. Then move to this: An overall planetary increase in temperature is going to manifest in different ways in various parts of the world at the local level. Then go on to this: What happens when we pump carbon out of the ground and add it to the carbon cycle? Pray tell, do you even know what a carbon cycle *is*? Here’s a hint: Harley-Davidson and Huffy don’t make them.

      Sorry to hijack the thread a bit but damn, I’m so damn sick and tired of LCers jumping on the “global warming is b.s.” bandwagon. You know, it IS possible that any one individual does not know everything about everything. Even you guys, as smart as you often are about diet. And for all that, I still catch errors, like Dr. Eades in his latest book claiming that women lay down excess body fat to feed a fetus in utero. OK there doc… try again.

      (I’ll hand you this one: maternal body fat is not used to nourish a fetus. If an expectant woman is facing starvation, she will miscarry. Instead, the fat is saved back to mobilize when the baby is born and the mom begins breastfeeding, for which purpose fat *will* mobilize.)

      I guess what makes the least sense to me, aside from the bandwagon feeling that here we have called The Establishment out on their dietary B.S. so let’s take the ball and run with it… is simply this: The obvious inference of “there is no human-caused global warming” is “therefore, we should continue living exactly as we are now.” What rational human being would make such an argument, given what a mess we’ve made of so many other things besides global climate? Are denialists seriously arguing we should burn petroleum like it’s going out of style? Can’t we simply agree to disagree on the reasons why, and come to that basic agreement that it’s a good idea to conserve resources for future generations?

      K, I’m’a step down from my soapbox now… I should have been in bed three hours ago.

      • gallier2 on March 9, 2010 at 03:22

        I’m on the “global warming is b.s.” bandwagon not because I’m LC but uniquely because “global warming is b.s.”. And I have this conviction for more than 3 years, in fact since I looked at the damn science (or better said what they tried to pass as such) to try to refute some sceptics. I read and read and read and discovered that “global warming” is even more a scam than “nutrition science”. And before insulting people and winning Godwin’s law consider that you should take a step back and look again at the “science” of AGW.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2010 at 10:42

        It’s the atherogenic component of global warming that’s unmitigated bullshit. Wall to wall, start to finish, top to bottom.

        Climategate has pretty much put a nail in the coffin, finally. Thank Zeus. But even before that it was evident is one looks at temperature data, noting that the only place temps really increase is at sensing stations that are well within urban heat islands and that there is no increase amongst stations in rural areas. Then there’s the satellite data…oh, and what about the convenient “Y2K error” in the modeling app that when discovered suddenly made 1938 the hottest year ever.

        And on and on.

        I use three resources to keep up with things, one pro AGW and the others skeptical.

        The third one is by the guy who found the software bug.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2010 at 10:44

        Here’s another good one:

      • Axiom on March 11, 2010 at 16:28

        Head of ‘Climategate’ research unit admits sending ‘pretty awful emails’ to hide data

        Scientists at the heart of the Climategate row were yesterday accused by a leading academic body of undermining science’s credibility.

        The Institute of Physics said ‘worrying implications’ had been raised after it was revealed the University of East Anglia had manipulated data on global warming.

        The rebuke – the strongest yet from the scientific community – came as Professor Phil Jones, the researcher at the heart of the scandal, told MPs he had written ‘some pretty awful emails’ – but denied trying to suppress data.

        The Climategate row, which was first revealed by the Daily Mail in November, was triggered when a hacker stole hundreds of emails sent from East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.

        They revealed scientists plotting how to avoid responding to Freedom of Information requests from climate change sceptics.

        Some even appeared to show the researchers discussing how to manipulate raw data from tree rings about historical temperatures.

        In one, Professor Jones talks about using a ‘trick’ to massage figures and ‘hide the decline’.

        Giving evidence to a Science and Technology Committee inquiry, the Institute of Physics said: ‘Unless the disclosed emails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research and for the credibility of the scientific method.

        ‘The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital.’

        Last month, the Information Commissioner ruled the CRU had broken Freedom of Information rules by refusing to hand over raw data.

        But yesterday Professor Jones – in his first public appearance since the scandal broke – denied manipulating the figures.

        Looking pale and clasping his shaking hands in front of him, he told MPs: ‘I have obviously written some pretty awful emails.’

        He admitted withholding data about global temperatures but said the information was publicly available from American websites.

        And he claimed it was not ‘standard practice’ to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.

        ‘I don’t think there is anything in those emails that really supports any view that I, or the CRU, have been trying to pervert the peer review process in any way,’ he said.

        Professor Jones, who was forced to stand down as head of the CRU last year, also insisted the scientific findings on climate change were robust.

  8. James on March 5, 2010 at 15:43

    Here’s a flowchart I made and posted shortly after having been banned from Janis Roszler’s (ADA Diabetes Educator of the Year) for posting bar graphs showing to her diabetics the amount of starch in grains.

    On the flowchart, under Roszler’s Loop (I named that after her highness), the 400 gram (carbs/glycogen) capacity for storage (liver, muscles) can take days sometimes to empty, even during a fast. This is where the post-intense-exercise BG rises come from. Once your stored glycogen is gone, you’ll experience either steady or lower blood sugar. You can also train your body/brain to thrive on a BG as low as 60.

    Everyone enjoys a good false dichotomy, which is why people tend to ask the question: Which is the truth, sugar/insulin or calories in/calories out?

    The answer is both. It’s not that easy to put on weight when you’re eating high-fat, low starch/sugar, but it easy to retard or halt weight loss on a low starch/sugar,high fat/protein diet, partially, because excess protein turns to sugar.

    • Nigel on March 6, 2010 at 05:55

      There’s a problem with your flowchart. From “The liver and kidneys are the only tissues that can release glucose into the blood stream.”
      Muscle glycogen cannot be used to provide blood glucose.

      • James on March 6, 2010 at 09:49

        That’s a misstatement on your page, while the title “Liver and Kidneys Synthesize Glucose” is accurate. Muscle cells have glucagon receptors, so, of course their glycogen can be released. They just can’t synthesize glucose or glycogen.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 03:56

        Glucagon receptors aren’t the same thing as glycogen transporters. What evidence do you have that muscle glycogen is transported out of muscle cells and in the blood to the liver? Are you sure that muscle has glucagon receptors? According to my book “Metabolism at a Glance”:-
        “In liver, glycogenolysis is stimulated by both glucagon and adrenaline, whereas in muscle only adrenaline is effective.”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2010 at 10:14

      I don’t think so, James. I’ve done this many times. Plus, I was in Ketosis. Keosis, prolonged VLC, fasting. No way I had significant glycogen.

      The increase in BG is more likely explained by exercise induced insulin resistance combined with general low carb IR combined with gluconeogenesis.

      • James on March 6, 2010 at 10:24

        You may not have had significant glycogen. That capacity is “potential” and reserves depend on what you’ve been eating and how frequently you’ve been eating it. I find it highly unlikely that you usually carb-up to-the-limit before your fast.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2010 at 10:44

        Absolutely right. I don’t even try to eat more than a normal meal before a fast.

      • James on March 6, 2010 at 10:48

        Therefor, your glycogen stores are low, your fat-burning machinations are in place and working efficiently, and you slip quickly and painlessly into ketosis.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 6, 2010 at 16:09

        Sorry, Guys

        People on VLC still have glycogen in the liver – it is always there and never completely depleted – GNG in the liver or kidneys using amino acids scavenged from your liver or muscles occurs to keep glycogen “in stock”.

        On VLC you will have lower liver glycogen than on HC, maybe half a tank versus 3/4, but you can’t really run it dry.

        Also, muscles take up glucose and polymerize it into glycogen – the glycogen is later split into glucose molecules when there is demand for it by the muscle. This is not “synthesis” of glucose, it is release of glucose from the glycogen polymer. It should be possible for glucose to run the other direction via the transporter, but this would rarely occur as usually the gradient runs the other way. And why is the gradient always the other way? Because your liver ALWAYS keeps serum BG high enough to feed your brain and the glucose in your muscles is mostly in the polymer form -glycogen. So the reason muscle does not supply glucose to the blood is the liver is doing it already!

        If you are having stable blood sugar during or after a workout, totally depleted glycogen is not the explanation. If it were, you would be in a coma after your next 12 hour fast!

      • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2010 at 16:13


        So what you’re saying is that the liver keeps an emergency store of glycogen, even in a fasting state?

        So, marathoners “hitting the wall” is really only the liver kicking fat/protein metabolism into gear to preserve some glycogen for absolute emergencies?

        Am I getting that right?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 6, 2010 at 16:19

        Think of GNG from amino acids replenishing your liver glycogen and glucose always coming from the glycogen in liver. This is probably more physiologically accurate. You do not dip into protein stores until you have been fasting a long time – a VLC person might go 2 days before aa requiring GNG.

        Also, GNG does not just refer to construction of glucose from aa substrates, it also refers to rapid recycling of lactate that jsut came from glucose in the first place.

        Again, your body maintains glycogen in your liver to keep your serum BG stable to feed your brain – almost any time BG rises, it is coming from the LIVER and is not instantaneously manufactured from protein.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 6, 2010 at 16:41

        I think the wall phenomenon relates more to muscle glycogen depletion – a successful marathoner I think of as running mostly on fatty acids ( anaerobic metabolism) that are supplemented with the body’s glycogen stores during the race. If they start the race with a certain amount of glycogen (most in the muscle, some in the liver) but run out of muscle glycogen and don’t eat enough GU or whatever, the liver glycogen will run down to the point where it is indeed conserved in favor of maintaining serum BG to benefit the brain.

        The liver says to the muscle, “you guys used up all your glycogen and I’ve given you half of my supply to supplement you, but I have to keep some in reserve to maintain serum BG for the brain so that the sole organism does not die – screw the race!”

        That explains the idea behind carb loading, and now you can understand the philosophy behind “Train low race high” as practiced by triathlete Jonas Colting and others. Train on LC to maximize the FA and ketone using aerobic machinery, then carb load for the race or competition and glucose is now like your nitrous oxide. Your glycogen stores will now go farther as you are getting more energy from FAs and ketones.

        I actually theorized about this over a year before I heard of athletes doing this in the post below- not totally up to date theorizing but basically it’s the same as the Train low, race high idea.

      • Ned Kock on March 7, 2010 at 07:59

        I thought that one of the reasons why BG would go up after a fasted workout was the release of lactic acid. That is, anaerobic exercise leads to the production of lactic acid based on muscle (not liver) glycogen. Lactic acid, or lactate, would then be used for gluconeogenesis.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 7, 2010 at 08:55

        That is why I said:

        “GNG does not just refer to construction of glucose from aa substrates, it also refers to rapid recycling of lactate that just came from glucose in the first place.”

        This happens in the liver, but as it is replacing glucose that came from the muscle via Liver to BG to muscle and moving along that gradient – it seems hard to say that is the CAUSE of hyperglycemia- it is coming along with any other glucose released by the liver and not as quickly. Why not just invoke glucagon and obviously epinephrine acting on the liver to release glucose and keep it simple? It’s an overshoot or an undershoot depending on a variety of factors.

      • Kim on March 8, 2010 at 19:22

        I didn’t know that was a named system but I’ve done that from time to time just driven out of my own experimentation. You feel like a fucking superhero in that carb-loaded game after a couple of days of low-carb training.

      • Kim on March 8, 2010 at 19:35

        I don’t know if my comment to this effect on PaNu was lost in the ether or just not worthy of coming out of moderation, but I still think that the process of the liver recycling lactate into glucose is driven at least as much by the need to prevent or relieve lactic acidosis as by any need for glucose.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 9, 2010 at 12:50

        Hi Kim

        I dont’ recall seeing such a comment and certainly did not delete it.

        I would think of it as just the thing to do with lactate – recycle it into something that is a more ubiquitous fuel source i.e., one the brain can use.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 04:06

        I still go for the “Somogyi Rebound” theory. Excessive intense exercise with insufficient muscle glycogen makes muscles suck glucose in faster than the liver can produce it, resulting in low BG. The brain detects low BG and sends signals which raises glucagon, cortisol, adrenaline & noradrenaline, & also secretes GH to raise BG as rapidly as possible to save itself. This produces an overshoot in BG.

  9. Thermodynamics and the metabolic advantage | The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. on March 6, 2010 at 06:51

    […] Nikoley over at Free the Animal posted his take on the latest Colpo meltdown. As a part of his post, Richard dug out and put up one of my responses to a commenter from a post I […]

  10. Ned Kock on March 5, 2010 at 16:27

    Richard, by losing body fat, as you have been doing, you are essentially supplementing for adiponectin, leading to: increased insulin sensitivity, thus increased glycogen replenishment (meals after the workouts), thus less fat deposition even with natural carbs. (e.g., potato) in the diet.

    Also, you may want to take a look at an interesting study (see post below) of various hormone levels (including adiponectin and tumor necrosis factor-alpha) after a high saturated fat meal. What makes this study interesting is that it is one of the first to look at the effect of dietary saturated fat on adiponectin; a health-promoting hormone secreted by body fat.

    The conclusion contradicted the authors’ initial assumptions. Saturated fat had positive effects: an increase in adiponectin and decrease in tumor necrosis factor-alpha.

    Interestingly, those effects were later messed up by three low fat meals rich in refined carbs and sugars, which were supposed to help the participants “recover” from the high fat meal.

  11. Joe_P on March 5, 2010 at 16:28


    I think a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss, and I don’t doubt it. But I’m pretty sure that metabolism plays a huge role in weight loss. One day, I committed myself to the “12 steps” on dr. harris’ blog. Well, the first week wasn’t very committing, but after that first week I stuck to most of the steps, dove right in, and put up with the (thankfully quick) transition my metabolism went through.

    It’s been about 7 weeks since I started, and I’ve lost over 35 pounds of fat. I just plainly don’t exercise. So somehow, without starving myself, cramming saturated fats down my throat, and sitting on my ass, I lost about a pound of fat a day. I was at 240 lbs in late december, and I started in the middle of January. Now I’m 198lbs.

    My weight was pretty steady (and slowly growing) when I was at my peak. I don’t think that going from 3000 cal/day heavy on carbs, gaining weight would have put me in a calorie deficiency. I switched over to 2500+ cal/day, with emphasis on paleo eating and saturated fats. So before, I was gaining weight and I don’t think I had a calorie deficiency. Shortly after switching, I was losing over 3000 cal/day worth of fat. Seeing as my caloric intake changed by about 500 cal/day at best, I don’t see how a 3000 calorie deficiency would just show up. I think the change in my metabolism, as a result of my changed diet, was almost entirely responsible for the weight loss.

    I could be wrong. But it doesn’t matter all that much to me. Almost all the little problems I’ve had with my health are gone, and I feel amazing. I also have a blast, but also cry a little on the inside when people are telling me that I’m killing myself while they continue to induce hypertension and diabetes in themselves.

    • djinn on March 5, 2010 at 19:30

      Do me a favor, Joe_P, and post that on PaNu. It’s what we’re all about, and we need to
      hear the reality. Workable engineering, not scientific debate.

    • John on March 6, 2010 at 04:43

      I had a similar experience… went on something very close to PaNu, 21 lb lost in 6 weeks without changing my exercise regimen. I should write that up for Kurt.

  12. David Brown on March 5, 2010 at 23:55

    I may have said something about this before but the 2 kilograms of gut microbes that inhabit the digestive tract eat what their host eats. If there are enough nutrients of all sorts to support efficient replication, gut microbes will covert a lot of fat to energy as food passes through the digestive tract. As they replicate they give off heat, about 5 calories per gram (dry weight) of dead microbes in the feces. In over feeding studies, subjects frequently complain about being overheated after meals. Conversely, people who consume a low-fat vegetarian diet often complain of being cold all the time.

    • Rachael on March 6, 2010 at 09:26

      This was my experience. I was a vegetarian for over 30 years, and ate a calorie restricted low fat diet for the last 10 years. I had a plethora of health and emotional problems, was freezing at all times, etc. I started eating meat in a high fat paleo type way and now I have to dress differently because I am often hot! If I have a really high fat dinner I wake up several times a night sweating! (No, it’s not menopause, I am at least 10 years away from that thanks.) I bought a blood glucose monitor and as long as I keep my fasting bg under 100 and my post meal under 120 I have been losing weight. My mood has been remarkably improved, mostly because with fewer and milder changes in my blood sugar my stress hormones don’t have to fire to raise my blood sugar as often. Finally, I always assumed meat eaters would have poor bowel function, but in fact I have become totally regular, I think because I have a better class of gut microbes now.

  13. peterlepaysan on March 6, 2010 at 00:13

    Antony Colpo is a seriously screwed up person.
    He wrote the wonderful “Cholesterol Con”. One of the best books
    ever published on the subject(s).

    Prior to the publication I subscribed to his site. We had a lot of
    interesting (non confrontational) exchanges.

    After the book was published his website changed both in content and tone.

    It became a body building site and the omnivore site was no longer available.
    At this transition Colpo and myself had a few spirited disagreements.
    I could no longer access his sites.

    Every so often I receive a missive from the Omnivore site (which is inaccessible)
    rubbishing Dr Eades.

    Colpo is a frightened insecure whatever that cannot engage in rational debate.

    He needs serious psychological help.

  14. peterlepaysan on March 6, 2010 at 00:27

    The crunch factor is ATP.

    How much ingested food gets converted to ATP?

    Have all the metabolic pathways been figured out? NO.

    The calorific approach is about as accurate as using a tape measure made of elastic.

    • Nigel on March 6, 2010 at 06:12

      If that was true, devices like the Bodybugg/GoWearFit which “guesstimate” kcals burned using thermal & accelerometer sensor technology would be utterly useless. As they usually (but not always) quite accurately predict weight gain/loss in conjunction with accurate food intake diaries, this suggests that calories do count in terms of weight gain/loss. I’m not disputing that “meats, leaves & berries” diets rule for many people in terms of satiety & health.

      • Beef on March 6, 2010 at 15:41

        Nigel, got any links on bodybugg studies?

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but i believe “calories dont count that much” hypothesis is only applicable to eating VLC.

        I think it would generally be expected that a person eating the SAD would track well with a bodybugg.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 03:44

        I can direct you to Lyle McDonalds article The Bodybugg/GoWear Fit. This states that the device is inaccurate under certain conditions.
        1) Stationary Exercise (e.g. on a bike), which under-reports kcals burned due to insufficient movement of the accelerometer.
        2) Arm-waving exercise (e.g. tennis), which over-reports kcals burned due to excessive movement of the accelerometer.
        3) Hypothyroidism.
        As quite a few people who use Lyle’s diets are on some kind of low-carb diet (with occasional refeeds), I would have thought that there would be reports of significant errors due to this type of diet by now.

  15. Finn on March 6, 2010 at 03:14

    “… How about overfeed subjects on either high-carb or high-fat by 1,000 kcal per day: as fat, as starch, or as sugar. See which group gains the most over a period of time.”

    This kind of study would be really interesting! My experience is that I can eat high fat food freely without gaining (or losing) weight. To lose weight I must create a state of calorie deficiency.

  16. David Brown on March 6, 2010 at 05:48


    I don’t know why there’s so little interest in what the gut microbes do with the calories in the digestive tract. Everyone who does overfeeding studies utilizing a metabolic chamber assumes that the body’s metabolism somehow speeds up and generates extra heat in response to extra fat calories; less so in response to extra sugar or starch calories. My hypothesis is that gut microbes reproduce more efficiently when feeding on fat calories than on refined carbohydrates. the consequence would be higher heat output by gut microbes consuming fat. That heat diffuses into the body and may be considered part of the body’s temperature regulating mechanism.

    • James on March 6, 2010 at 10:12

      Are these people sitting around sweating or suffering a fever?
      No. Not me. Not anyone I know who’s got a grasp on starch/sugar gluttony.
      The key is INSULIN. It’s the only hormone responsible for lipogenesis.
      Insulin is released in bulk, every time there is an episode of EXCESS blood sugar.
      Hormones are powerful. Just start taking injections of estrogen, and you’ll see the effects. When you see obese folk, you’re looking at someone who is “taking injections” of insulin, the fat-storage/hoarding hormone.

      • Beef on March 6, 2010 at 15:43

        Obese people are taking injections of estrogen as well.

        Obese men have very high estrogen levels, which is produced by adipose tissue.

  17. Scott Pierce on March 6, 2010 at 05:49

    Is it not interesting when you consider the many metabolic pathways and their seeming infinite complexity that people would hold so stubbornly to thermodynamic ideas of calories in, calories out. I mean, the whole cycles regarding ATP, glucose, protons… the complexity blows my mind and the reality is our knowledge merely scratches the surface. How anyone can so naively simplify these processes down to “calories in, calories out” is, I believe, more political than reality based.

    • Skyler Tanner on March 8, 2010 at 07:40

      I’m just going to rephrase this and see how you respond:

      “Is it not interesting when you consider the many metabolic pathways and their seeming infinite complexity that people would hold so stubbornly to insulin as the only way to store fat.”

      The body is redundant but people don’t seem to realize this or won’t acknowledge it.

  18. Nigel on March 6, 2010 at 05:51

    “It is well established, for example, that skipping breakfast results in a prolonged hypoglycaemic state that results in poorer cognitive performance.” I think that Colpo was referring to the vast majority of people who eat the SAD/SED and therefore whose brains are not “fat-adapted” like people on LCHF diets.

    The Eades/Colpo spat has been running for quite a while now. I rather enjoy the fruity language. It reminds me of someone… :-D

  19. Patrick N. on March 6, 2010 at 05:53

    “…increasing the porosity of the inner mitochondrial membrane so that the protons that required energy to be moved across the membrane are then moved back.”

    Does this mean that energy is wasted on movement instead of on creating heat ?


    • Patrick N. on March 9, 2010 at 11:25

      Here is Dr Eades reply: “No, it wastes energy by reducing the potential energy of the electro-chemical gradient that food energy was expended to create.”.


  20. Patrick N. on March 6, 2010 at 06:04

    All the metabolic pathways are hard to glance at in a single look. I’ve got great books on the subject here and since I’m a software developer, I think I’m going to create a “complete” metabolic pathways simulator. You will be able to intake matter in the system and see what happens. I would make all the “known” pathways configurable so that we can include future knowledge and add new pathways.

    Humm, yep I’m going to start on this soon.


    • Beef on March 6, 2010 at 15:45

      please list the books you have on this subject!

      • Patrick N. on March 6, 2010 at 16:05

        – Metabolism at a Glance ~ Jack Salway
        – Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism ~ Sareen S. Gropper, Jack L. Smith

        I’ll get more advanced books when needed, if these are not enough.


    • Kim on March 8, 2010 at 19:37

      I wanted to write that app! But I was stymied by my lack of visual design sense. I hope you have better luck than I did.

      • Patrick N. on March 9, 2010 at 11:24

        Here is what Dr Eades said in reply to this idea: “I think it would be a great idea. But extremely difficult to do accurately. A number of researchers have already created metabolic models that do what you are contemplating. Some even use these in place of actual animal or human research. They plug in the various diets and see what gets cranked out in the end.”.

        Here is what Dr Feinman said: “It is not sufficient to know what is connected to what. You have to know the kinetic (rate) constants and other mathematical parameters of the system to know if they actually go. As Mike says, there are metabolic models and they provide information but not at the level of what to eat.”.

        So even if we were to take this into account in the simulation, the running time would be much too long to be of any real use for such a big system as the human body.


  21. Nigel on March 6, 2010 at 06:45

    “Unless insulin levels are up, it’s almost impossible to store fat in the fat cells.”Almost impossible? There are three possible mechanisms that make this statement incorrect. Glu-T4 up-regulation (me), Glu-T1 up-regulation (James Krieger) & Glyceroneogenesis (LynMarie Daye). Also, ASP can up-regulate glucose transporters.

    “With high insulin levels fat travels into the fat cell; with low insulin levels fat travels out.” A little. Hormone-Sensitive Lipase is controlled more by adrenaline/epinephrine & noradrenaline/norepinephrine than by serum insulin level. Fatty acids travel out of fat cells as required to provide fuel for muscles during moderate exercise. When sedentary, little fatty acids travel out of fat cells, otherwise there would be sky-high serum FFA levels under sedentary fasting conditions.

    There are people who eat lots of fat who don’t get fat on low-carb diets but there are also people who eat lots of fat on low-carb diets and do get fat. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again, we are not all the same.

    • Future Primitive on March 6, 2010 at 07:58

      Hey Nigel,

      I’ve had a hard time coming across any info regarding Glu-T1 and adipose cells, and whether they’re found there at all – though I’ll take your word for it. That said, is Glu-T1 expressed as densely at Glu-T4 on adipose cells and does it have an effective er… quantity of transport comparable to Glu-T4? (I realize the rate of transport is likely wildly different given that Glu-T4 is insulin dependent).

      I just wonder how it compares – and thus, how much it matters.

      • Future Primitive on March 6, 2010 at 13:11

        Sorry, didn’t express that clearly… think more total area under the curve when all is said and done for the two transporters. How much glucose is moved across the membrane? Under what circumstances? I suppose those are my questions until I figure out how to phrase it more clearly in a third go-’round…

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 03:14

        To be honest, this is beyond what I have in my metabolism books so I just don’t know.

        The thing is, if we eat a meal containing 50g of fat and are fairly sedentary, which burns ~1kcal/min, assuming ~66% of energy is derived from fat at rest, we are burning ~0.07g of fat/min (~4.2g of fat/hour) and the dietary fat would linger in our blood as post-prandial TGs for ~12hours. This doesn’t happen, so the dietary fat must be going somewhere. Gretchen Becker monitored her BG & TGs for a whole day for “carb” days & “fat” days but I can’t currently find her blog post with the precise meal details. The graphs are available at Gretchen’s postprandial diet experiment II.


      • David Brown on March 7, 2010 at 06:48

        Nigel said, “This doesn’t happen, so the dietary fat must be going somewhere.”

        Maybe gut microbes have something to do with it.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 08:18

        Once TGs are in the blood, I don’t think that they can go back into the gut (someone please correct me if I’m wrong).
        If serum TGs are being cleared faster than can be accounted for by muscle burning (the ~1kcal/min figure includes brain energy usage and the brain doesn’t run on fats), where are serum TGs going? I propose that they’re going into fat cells.
        Low serum insulin allows FFAs to leave fat cells more rapidly under the control of adrenaline/noradrenaline, so keeping serum insulin as low as possible is a No.1 good idea, which is why low-carb diets still rule!

      • David Brown on March 7, 2010 at 11:14

        Nigel, You were talking about eating “50g of fat” so I assumed you were wondering where the fat went after it was eaten, not after it entered the bloodstream. Somewhere along the line it needs to be acknowledged that what is eaten is not necessarily what gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

      • David Brown on March 8, 2010 at 04:40

        Here it is:

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 14:23

        Gut bacteria get first dibs at nutrients in the gut. I was referring to the clearance of TGs from the blood once fats had already got there. Do gut bacteria use carbs or fats or both for energy? If both, in what proportion? What percentage of dietary proteins/carbs/fats might be “lost” to gut bacteria?

      • David Brown on March 7, 2010 at 19:24

        These are all good questions. Gut bacteria feed on everything. Percentage of protein intake may be a limiting factor for multiplication efficiency; more protein, more bacteria in the poop, fewer calories absorbed. It’s an untested hypothesis that could help explain the observed metabolic advantage. Gary Tivendale has some interesting ideas about antibiotic use and weight gain. He writes:

        “‘Normal’ gut bacteria appear to metabolize fat, and extract calories from food, in a ‘historically correct’ fashion, with the result that the vast majority of people with normal gut bacteria would be a healthy weight without having to diet or engage in any real food intake control.

        Historically, weight gain and obesity have only been a problem for a small minority of people. Since antibiotics – and possibly the contraceptive pill – started being widely used, being overweight has become a problem for the vast majority of most populations. Antibiotics, and potentially the contraceptive pill, both result in damaged gut flora. Abnormal gut bacteria process fats and extract calories from food in an inappropriate way, that makes slow but eventual obesity more-or-less just a matter of time. Unless of course these people work hard to restrict their food intake.

        Or unless they correct their gut flora to that which the human race has grown-up with, probably since life on earth began. Which is where some probiotic bacteria, mainly it seems Lactobacillus types, come in.

        All of the theories and potential techniques around the use of probiotics – and prebiotics in weight-loss are still essentially experimental and unproven. And you should read everything I post with that in mind.”

        There’s considerable research on gut microbes but not much interest in terms of incorporating findings into explanations regarding what happens to calories.

        As for what percentage of total calories might be lost to gut microbes, I have yet to find any good data on that. I suppose one could calculate the percentage of energy apportioned to gut microbes by weighing feces and determining the percentage of gut bacteria. Estimates range from 30 to 60 percent of feces can be gut microbes. If feces is 75 percent water and gut microbes account for 50 percent of the total weight, given a daily solid wast output of 320 grams, dry gut microbe weight would be one eighth of that or 40 grams. If 5 calories of heat are released into the digestive tract per gram of dead gut microbes in the feces, then 200 calories of energy would not get absorbed into the bloodstream each day. I suspect with overfeeding experiments there would be lots more heat energy released in the digestive trace. Didn’t we have this conversation back near the middle of January?

      • Nigel on March 8, 2010 at 02:40

        I recall a conversation somewhere on my blog where we discussed the effect of heat generated by gut bacteria.

        I claimed that it added to total body heat thus reducing the number of kcals required to be burned by the body (by the same amount) to maintain our temperature at 37ºC. I need to find that conversation again to remind myself exactly what we discussed. My memory ain’t what it used to be!

      • Nigel on March 8, 2010 at 13:33

        Thanks. Looks like we didn’t come to any definite conclusion. So, who’s going to burn human poo (from lots of different people) in a bomb calorimeter to see how many kcals/day we’re losing from dead gut bacteria?

      • David Brown on March 8, 2010 at 14:04

        Don’t have to burn the poo. Just dry it, weigh it, determine the percentage of gut microbial material, and calculate the calories of heat generated as that particular batch of food passed through the digestive tract.

        There’s already plenty of data on energy content of poo. Not of interest at this point.

        What needs to be determined is what portion of caloric intake gets processed to heat and gut microbe carcasses and what proportion gets absorbed into the blood stream for various configurations of protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.

      • Alex Thorn on March 8, 2010 at 14:24

        “Gut bacteria get first dibs at nutrients in the gut.”


        Most of the digestion and absorption of nutrients occur in the small intestine made up of the duodenum, jejunum and the ileum, which are largely sterile.

        Only when absorption of nutrients is complete does the indigestible remainder pass into the large intestine.

        It is in the colon that the vast majority of gut microbiota are found and they principally ferment the indigestible cellulose found in plant-based foods and synthesise short-chain fatty acids from them.

      • David Brown on March 8, 2010 at 23:24

        The entire digestive tract, including the stomach, houses an estimated 500 to a thousand different kinds of gut microbes. Air is swallowed during eating so aerobic bacteria in the stomach have what they need to multiply rapidly early on. This may explain why subjects involved in over feeding experiments complain about being hot.

        You’re right about the duodenum, jejunum and ileum being largely sterile. However, it does not necessarily follow that the material metered into the large intestine is largely devoid of fat and protein, the major components of microbial cells or that the material being utilized by microbes in the colon is mostly indigestible fiber as you implied.

        And only some of the gut micro biota in the colon are involved in fermenting resistant starch to short chain triglycerides.

        So perhaps I should have said stomach bacteria get first dibs at nutrients and colon bacteria take care of most of the rest. In between, it’s anyone’s guess how much of the energy and nutrients contained in protein, fat, and carbohydrate get absorbed into the bloodstream.

      • Alex Thorn on March 9, 2010 at 06:48

        Your link just took me to a page advertising books on eating disorders, so I don’t quite know what relevance it had to the point I was making:

        Friendly bacteria in the digestive system occur mainly in the colon, also called the large intestine, and in the part of the small intestine furthest away from the stomach. The oesophagus, stomach and first section of the small intestine are mostly bacteria-free because of the deterrent effect of the strong stomach acid and the high level of digestive enzymes.

        I still maintain that, aside from pathological bacteria, like H. pylori, there are minimal living bacteria in the stomach and the absorptive section of the upper small intestine for the reasons given. So I refute the notion that gut bacteria have ‘first dibs’ on the nutrients in the food we eat.

        I note that studies which have identified certain species of bacteria besides H. pylori in the stomach have done so based on rDNA fragments. This does not seem to rule out the likelihood that stomach acids and enzymes, for the most part, would kill/render inert most microbiota besides the aforementioned H. pylori.

      • David Brown on March 9, 2010 at 08:11

        That wasn’t a book advertisement. It’s an actual book you can read on line. I take it you didn’t read much of the material or you would have seen the connection. Scroll down to page 128 and read about the Rockefeller University research regarding raising and lowering metabolism.

        You maintain that there are minimal bacteria in the stomach. I don’t know enough about the matter to maintain anything. I’m just hypothesizing that aerobic bacteria residing in the stomach might generate a lot of heat in the first stages of the digestive process before stomach acid is secreted. As I understand it, hydrochloric acid is not secreted immediately. There’s a delay of nearly an hour while enzymes supplied by food and saliva break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

        Thanks for supplying the Types of Bacteria Link. Now I can communicate directly with the experts who have informed your opinion on the matter.

      • Alex Thorn on March 9, 2010 at 14:52

        Sorry but the link does not work for me then because I still see a single page of book advertisements but nothing readable over hundreds of pages!

        That site has not formed my opinion – it was merely a convenient example.

        Where did you get your opinion that HCL is not secreted until an hour after food enters the stomach?

        An empty stomach can have a pH of 1 (very acidic). When we eat food it dilutes the acid already present and raises the pH (up to a maximum of 5 – very mildly acidic) but this is the signal for the stomach to produce more acid and the pH of the stomach is usually maintained at around 2. It doesn’t wait an hour for carbohydrate to be digested first but carbohydrates are released from the stomach earlier as it needs less time in the acid environment to break down unlike proteins.

        Without stomach acid the digestive enzymes will not be as effective and the pancreas will not be stimulated to release them.

      • David Brown on March 9, 2010 at 21:17

        Regarding my opinion that HCL is not secreted until up to an hour after food has entered the stomach, I believe I acquired that idea at a lecture on digestive enzymes.

        At this point I must confess that I have not studied the digestive process in great depth. Consequently, I’m happy to retract any false notions I may have acquired as to how it operates. I just spent an hour or so reading about the digestive process and note that one author remarked that the temperature of the stomach contents doesn’t vary appreciably no matter how much food enters the stomach. That seems to demolish my hypothesis regarding aerobic microbes in the stomach cavity. However, there’s still the problem of explaining the following:

        “Researcher Ethan Allen Simms…wondered what would happen biochemically when individuals were forced to gain weight…For two hundred days Simms overfed groups of prisoner volunteers and restricted their exercise. The men all had to double the amount of food they ate, and the majority struggled valiantly to gain twenty pounds. Having gained their goal weight, it was found that the men could only maintain the goal weight by continued overeating. They became apathetic, lethargic, and often threw up after breakfast. After the experiment was over, the majority lost weight effortlessly, returning to their natural or customary weights.

        Both the Keys and Simms studies showed clearly how difficult it was to lose as well as gain weight. However, what happens biochemically to bring one’s body back to its original set point and what factors might raise or lower set point remained a mystery.

        Further research, at Rockefeller University, discovered a raising and lowering of metabolism in a human subject who was asked to gain and lose twenty pounds. During the gaining phase he began to burn calories at a furious rate, particularly directly after meals – a metabolic heat production phase called thermogenesis. This phenomenon had been observed in the Simms prisoners, who sweated profusely and complained of being hot. When the Rockefeller subject was in the weight losing phase, his metabolism slowed after meals, and he conserved energy efficiently. In other words, he adjusted his metabolism to counteract deviations from his ideal weight.”

        Alex, this was the material I wanted you to look at. I don’t think anyone has formulated a satisfactory explanation for all that heat released in (or into) the body during over feeding experiments. Whether gut microbes get first dibs on food energy in the stomach or feed on the leftovers in the colon, the fact remains that gut microbes have plenty of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and trace elements for efficient multiplication. That has to be the case because feces consists of up to 60 percent dead gut microbes.

        A few years back I suggested to Dr. Eades that the body does not absorb a substantial portion of caloric intake including fat calories. He pointed out that feces has very little fat content. Well yes. The gut microbes consumed it and released heat energy into the colon. I wasn’t familiar with fermentation at the time so did not have a counter argument. All in all, I find people involved in the metabolic advantage dispute reluctant to include the action of gut microbes in the energy balance equation.

      • Alex Thorn on March 10, 2010 at 01:07

        Protein and fat are very efficiently digested in the stomach and small intestine by the acids and enzymes. Only carbohydrates tend to leave indigestible residue that make it to the lower intestines and the colon. Most gut bacteria feed by the fermentation process of this indigestible matter, which is mainly cellulose. Our digestive system lacks the ability to synthesise cellulase (the enzyme responsible for breaking down cellulose found in plant matter) unlike herbivores.

        So most gut bacteria, in those eating an omnivorous diet, will be feeding on carbohydrate (sugars) from the fermentation of cellulose. The by-product of this is short chain fatty acid synthesis which the bacteria do not necessarily feed on themselves but is reabsorbed by the gut for use in the host. This why eating a high fat diet does not result in increased fat in the faecal matter, unless there is a disease state (liver damage) leading to steatorrhea, because the fat we eat is efficiently digested and assimilated and the fat produced as a by-product of bacteria fermentation of fibre is absorbed. Fermentation does tend to produce some heat – as well as gasses (high fibre diets tend to result in excess flatulence!).

        It should be noted that only soluble fibre is efficiently fermented by gut bacteria, insoluble fibre – particularly wheat bran – largely passes through intact and merely adds bulk to stools.

        The the Simms experiments (and others) you mention the thermogenesis/increased metabolism can be explained by a variety of factors not dependent on bacteria – increases in basal metabolism via ‘futile cycling’ in the energy production pathways, TEF (minimal) and NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), which is unconscious, spontaneous restlessness and fidgeting.

        I think proponents of ‘metabolic advantage’ readily discuss all of these mechanisms, along with ketone spillage, etc.

    • James on March 6, 2010 at 19:29

      No we aren’t all the same (sounds like ADA mantra), but there aren’t many in your latter group.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 03:21

        As the A*A decrees that everyone get 15% of their total energy from Proteins, 55% from Carbs and 30% from Fats, I would suggest that the A*A mantra is “we are all the same”.

        *=Diet, Diabetes etc etc.

    • Skyler Tanner on March 8, 2010 at 07:46

      There are people who eat lots of fat who don’t get fat on low-carb diets but there are also people who eat lots of fat on low-carb diets and do get fat.

      Instead of the obvious answer of “These people are eating way too much damn food,” this attempts to get explained away as GNG or some other metabolically expensive glucose creation rather than recognizing that matter doesn’t get created out of thin air.

      • Patrick N. on March 9, 2010 at 11:19

        The real question is WHY do they eat too dawn much all the time ?


  22. JD on March 6, 2010 at 07:15

    Regarding overfeeding experiments: Reference Good Calories Bad Calories and Simms’ overfeeding experiments and see if that may be what you are looking for.

  23. mkowalski on March 6, 2010 at 10:41

    […]The process of converting ADP to ATP is called phosphorylation and the process of the electrons ultimately attaching to oxygen is called oxidation.[…]

    Isn’t the the process of the electrons attaching called ‘reduction’.?

  24. Patrick N. on March 6, 2010 at 10:41

    Well at least Colpo seems to be recommending a science-based paleo diet, like PaNu, in his article.

    “…for the record, by structuring your diet in an ‘evolutionary correct’ manner you can indeed eat a high-carbohydrate intake and still keep a lid on your appetite…”


  25. Martin Berkhan on March 6, 2010 at 14:30

    “How about overfeed subjects on either high-carb or high-fat by 1,000 kcal per day: as fat, as starch, or as sugar. See which group gains the most over a period of time.”

    Already been done. When there is a difference, the group with the highest % carb in the diet shows the slowest rate of gain when protein is fixed. Barely reaches clinical significance but still. The trend is there all across the board and there’s been plenty of studies on overfeeding and parenteral nutrition that shows this.

    And this is just as expected. There is a price tag of converting glucose to fat; about 19%-25% of the energy is lost in the process. The price tag for fat is 3%. Dietary fat is stored efficently even with minimal insulin.

    The metabolic advantage exists, but it’s for protein, not fat or carbs. Or well, if you want to nitpick, carbs actually have a slightly higher TEF than dietary fat.

    Then in the end…if carbs cause you to overeat a bunch of junk it aint gonna matter in the end anyhow. Stick to what works for you.

    • Alex Thorn on March 6, 2010 at 15:25

      TEF is a red herring. We do not eat just carbs, just fat or just protein. We eat mixed meals with a combination of all three (in my case mainly two – protein and fat – with minimal carbs). Studies show that people eating mixed meals only have a TEF contribution of 10% to overall 24-hour energy expenditure. Fat may be stored with minimal insulin (or ASP) but minimal insulin means no inhibition of hormone sensitive lipase, so fat can be readily released from adipocytes again when the energy is needed. I have been low carbing (with high fat) for over six years and almost zero carb for about two years and my bodyweight and body-fat percentage has remained stable in all that time.

      Dr Eades is going to blog about other carefully controlled studies that show high fat diets drive greater weight loss than high protein diets.

      • Matt on March 6, 2010 at 17:53

        “I have been low carbing (with high fat) for over six years and almost zero carb for about two years and my bodyweight and body-fat percentage has remained stable in all that time.”

        You mean to say you found what works for you? My God.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 08:56

        Alex Thorn said…
        “TEF is a red herring. We do not eat just carbs, just fat or just protein.” Martin never said that we do. A 1% change in protein intake will result in bigger change in overall diet TEF% than you get from a 1% change in carb intake which is bigger than you get from a 1% change in fat intake. Obviously, as one thing changes, other things have to change to keep P+C+F = 100%.

      • Alex Thorn on March 7, 2010 at 09:20

        Studies don’t show it – TEF remains pretty constant at around 10%. If the diet was 100% protein you may see a big shift but then you’d be in ‘rabbit starvation’ territory!

      • Alex Thorn on March 7, 2010 at 09:41

        As an example of the above:
        At week 0, the TEF after the HP meal (expressed either as an absolute value or as a percentage of energy intake at the test meal) was 2% greater than for the LP meal (9.1 vs 7.1%, P=0.009) (Table 3). At week 16, TEF remained 0.8% greater following the HP as compared to the LP meal, but the effect of diet composition was nonsignificant (8.6 vs 7.8%, P=0.3) (Table 3). After 12 weeks of energy restriction and 4 weeks of energy balance, TEF was not significantly reduced from baseline in either the LP or HP group (mean change of +0.69 and –0.56%, respectively) (Table 3). There was no effect of gender on TEF. There was no correlation between TEF at weeks 0 and 16, and the change in body weight.

        The differences are non-significant and often level out over a period of weeks – in most studies there is no significant contribution of TEF to weight-loss in diets of low or high protein content. In any event the level is seldom above the 10% figure I quoted in any diet.

      • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 14:46

        O.K. Protein intake was varied by 15% as was carbohydrate intake in the opposite direction. Let’s assume that Protein has a TEF of ~35% and that Carbohydrate has a TEF of ~22%.

        A 15% increase in P results in a 15% x 35% = 5.25% increase in overall TEF.

        A 15% decrease in C results in a 15% x 22% = 3.3% decrease in overall TEF.

        5.25-3.3 = 1.95% which explains why swapping 15%P for 15%C makes diddly-squat difference.

        How come only 25% of energy comes from fats? It only adds up to 95%.

      • Alex Thorn on March 8, 2010 at 08:43

        Things never quite add up properly in studies (even the figures given in the full text are at variance with those given in the abstract) – probably too much rounding up or down going on!

        However to make any significant increases in TEF you would have to eat an awful lot of protein and too much protein in a diet for too long is not a good thing.

        Take, for example, a 2000 kcal daily diet with 50% as protein and 40% as carbs with the remaining 10% as fat. If the TEF of protein (according to you) is 35% (which is at the very top of the scale: it could be lower than that) than the effective energy value from protein would be 740 kcals (1000 kcal – 35%). For carbs, using your figure of 22% TEF, then we have a value of 656 kcals (800 kcals – 22%). If we say a TEF of 3% for fat then the effective calories for that macronutrient would be 194 kcals (200 kcals -3%). Our effective total calories ( amount eaten minus TEF) would be 1590 kcals down from 2000 kcals. A reduction of just over 20% compared to the average TEF of 10%.

        But I disagree with your percentages for TEF:
        “This thermogenic response is often called the thermic effect of nutrients; it depends on the absorption, processing and storing of the nutrients. The carbohydrate-induced thermogenic response is about 7% of the glucose energy administered (SCHUTZ et al., 1983), whereas the thermic effect of fat is approximately 3% (THIÉBAUD et al., 1983). By contrast, the stimulation of energy expenditure following protein ingestion or amino acid infusion is close to 30% of the energy administered (FLATT, 1978).”

        If I use those percentages then the difference becomes 289 kcals (1711 kcals down from 2000 kcals) or a total TEF of just over 14% – nowhere near the doubling using your figures (22% for carbs is excessive – the example above gave 7% and I’ve seen 10% quoted elsewhere but never as high as 22%!).

        250g of protein is an excessive amount to be eating on a daily basis, which is what you would have to be doing on a 2000 kcal diet in order to push TEF from the average 10% of 24 hour EE to just and extra 4% on top!

      • Alex Thorn on March 8, 2010 at 09:52

        Here is another study that uses a high protein meal compared to a high carb or high fat meal:
        [quote]Objectives: To evaluate energy expenditure after three isoenergetic meals of different nutrient composition and to establish the relationship between the thermic effect of food (TEF), subsequent energy intake from a test meal and satiety sensations related to consumption.

        Design: The study employed a repeated measures design. Ten subjects received, in a randomized order, three meals of 2331±36 kJ (557±9 kcal). About 68% of energy from protein in the high protein meal (HP), 69% from carbohydrate in the high carbohydrate meal (HC) and 70% from fat in the high fat meal (HF).

        Setting: The experiments were performed at the University of Milan.

        Subjects: Ten normal body-weight healthy women.

        Methods: Energy expenditure was measured by indirect calorimetric measurements, using an open-circuit ventilated-hood system; intake was assessed 7 h later by weighing the food consumed from a test meal and satiety sensations were rated by means of a satiety rating questionnaire.

        Results: TEF was 261±59, 92±67 and 97±71 kJ over 7 h after the HP, HC and HF meals, respectively. The HP meal was the most thermogenic (P<0.001) and it determined the highest sensation of fullness (P=0.002). There were no differences in the sensations and thermic effect between fat and carbohydrate meals. A significant relationship linked TEF to fullness sensation (r=0.41, P=0.025). Energy intake from the test meal was comparable after HP, HC and HF meals. [/quote]

        In this case the thermic effect of the 69% protein meal was around 11% (still not much above the average 10%) and the high carb meals had a marginally lower TEF than the high fat meal!

      • Nigel on March 8, 2010 at 13:27

        TEF variation is probably down in the “noise” compared to satiety variation with P/C/F variation. Humans are kinda complicated….and variable! It all makes for interesting discussion, though.

  26. Robert F on March 6, 2010 at 15:01

    Colpo and McDonald are like religious fundamentalists who need to have any complexity or shades of gray dumbed down to black and white. In Colpo’s case, it’s a shame, because while his cholesterol book is excellent, his more recent bizarre and unhealthy behavior destroys his credibility in general. He’s getting all riled up about a relatively minor effect that amounts to no more than 300 calories a day, and in the process he’s making himself an international laughingstock.

    • Matt on March 6, 2010 at 17:58

      McDonald? Fundamentalist? Are you serious? You can’t get a single answer from him that DOESN’T start with the phrase, “It depends.” And since you know so much about him that you can call him fundamentalist, surely you must know the subject of his first book. And all about the content of his other books of fundamentalism.

  27. Bryan - oz4caster on March 6, 2010 at 15:01

    Richard, I ran into Colpo’s omnivore blog many years ago, before I ran into Eades, but I have to agree with you that the animosity here is not warranted. To me it’s a minor quibble and the evidence is not all that clear either way. Certainly not clear enough to justify all the animosity. As much as I like Colpo’s “The Great Cholesterol Con”, I think he’s gone a bit off the deep end to be so derogatory towards Eades, even if he disagrees. Likewise, I think Eades may be over-reacting just a bit too much. These two have a lot more in common than in difference. I wish both of them would recognize that and move on to direct their vitriol where it is more justified – against big-ag and pharma that are dragging down our society through their deceptive and profit motivated campaigns that are ruining the health of millions and perhaps soon to be billions.

    • Michael on March 6, 2010 at 17:27

      Good thoughts Bryan. I don’t think its going to happen but good thoughts anyway. :-)

      At any rate all these clashes/dust ups/conflicts that occur frequently around the web in the nutrition arena always provide good material for me to go check, study and pursue angles to which I might not have otherwise been exposed. So, at least for me, there is a silver lining. :-)

    • Nigel on March 7, 2010 at 08:26

      Eades did start the spat in the first place by saying that Colpo had got it all wrong. Obviously, if you believe Eades, you disbelieve Colpo and vice-versa. I believe Colpo, McDonald et al.

  28. Rachael on March 6, 2010 at 21:08

    Wait, Kurt, so what about someone like me? (Rachael, from over at your blog with the developing type II diabetes.) Why do I go hypoglycemic from a roughly 1.5-2 mile walk? Is it liver dysfunction? I don’t use any insulin or other diabetes drugs, why can’t my body keep up? I ask because I have been thinking about trying a fast, and given my response to a stroll now I am worried I have to start carrying glucose tablets. Maybe a fast isn’t the best idea in my case. I can’t quite figure out what is going on with me, in part because I am not really a scientist, in part because I suspect no one quite knows any way, but also, it seems like my pattern is not usual. Is there some strange genetic form of diabetes that makes no earthly sense? That would be typical of me, to have that.

  29. arlojeremy on March 6, 2010 at 23:00

    Good point, Rich. Why would an animal be at it’s least amount of mental clarity when it needs clarity the most to get what it needs to survive? Studies be damned.

    Everything makes sense in light of evolution.

  30. Robert on March 7, 2010 at 12:54

    I think they are both right. Even though I eat paleo, I had to cut calories for a while to lose weight. However, I find it easy to maintain my weight even though I eat lots more calories. Cut calories to lose, metabolic advantage in maintaining.

  31. Pharm on March 8, 2010 at 07:33

    Haven’t read all the comments so I don’t mean to repeat anything, but a concept that always seems to get lost in the calorie/thermodynamic discussion is the fact that food is used as much for energy as it is structure. Fats are an integral part of all cells (phospholipid bilayer) so despite exceeding ones caloric need, there is likely a structural deficiency that the fats are filling, particularly following decade(s) long low fat intake. The body must find that delicate balance of using food for energy and keeping some of the raw materials for repair and creation of things such as neurotransmitters, hormones, secretions, etc.

    • Alex Thorn on March 8, 2010 at 08:51

      Well said. Generally carbs only have use as an energy substrate and very little structural uses.

  32. Skyler Tanner on March 8, 2010 at 07:43

    How is this different than how you go after people?

    • peterlepaysan on March 9, 2010 at 00:00

      I do not understand this comment.
      Please explain.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2010 at 10:26


      You mean you don’t _know_?

      • Skyler Tanner on March 9, 2010 at 15:32

        The spirit is the same as how you go after TCC, only in this case they both bring a lot more science to the table in one paragraph than an entire volume of TCC, but I digress. I’m surprised that you don’t appreciate the vitriol: an incredibly articulate and resourced rebuttal with a whole lot of personality thrown in. This is what I mean.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2010 at 15:43

        TCC? Sorry, but I draw a blank.

        At any rate, my view is that I only ought to go after that which I hate. And what I hate should have no quarter and that if i truly do hate it that I should show no mercy.

        That’s how i go after, when I do. It’s about hate.

        But if I were to hate Eades, Taubes, McDonald, Colpo…because of disagreements?

        I simply can’t do that. When I differ with them and those similarly situated, it’s because it’s the room for rationality over personality. And that’s reasonable.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2010 at 15:45

        And oh, my “Don’t you wish you were as smart as Lyle” isn’t going after him. As with Colpo here, that was but a [humble] rebuke.

  33. Dana on March 9, 2010 at 00:04

    You know, I don’t get this whole “skipping breakfast” thing. I just realized this the other day. The only way you can possibly skip breakfast is if you never eat again. By definition it’s the first meal you eat after you have awakened for the day.

    Maybe what they mean is “the poor dear didn’t have his bagel with margarine and fat-free jam with a side of sugar-laden orange juice.” No idea.

    • Matt on March 9, 2010 at 06:30

      Even though your peeve with the “skipping breakfast” concept is just semantics, I agree. Guess they just mean the “conventional” definition of the word breakfast, whatever the hell that means.

    • James on March 9, 2010 at 07:11

      Breakfast is a marketing term coined by the Edward Bernay’s school of mass mind control.
      “Breakfast, the most important meal of the day” – Bill Cosby (does he realize how many people he’s killed?)
      We didn’t have to evolve into a different species to move from stone-age into the neolithic era. There was no population bottleneck event anyone could point at and say, “THERE!, that’s where our genes underwent a major movement!”
      I grew up with a father who was an amateur archeologist in Texas and he had major collections in a museum and a lot of stuff displayed on the wall in our living room behind glass cases. This stuff was dated around 14,000 BC. And that’s relatively recently compared to our chronicled 200,000 year history. There were no tools for harvesting grain. Primarily flint weapons and all manner of bone tools & animal-skin clothes.
      3 squares wasn’t practiced. And their food ran from them, while yours lay dead on a refrigerator shelf, waiting for you to drive your little electric scooter over and pick it up.
      3 starch-heavy squares per day with no activity is a recipe for a healthcare crisis.

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