You probably won't see this reported in the media, so I thought you might be interested in an eyewitness account of the recent;
CONFERENCE ON NUTRITIONAL AND METABOLIC
ASPECTS OF LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIETS
for abstracts of the papers delivered)
"On June 18-19, the first Conference on the effect of low carbohydrate diets to treat the Metabolic Syndrome took place in Brooklyn, NY.
For two days, several scientists and physicians presented their results on the effect of controlled carbohydrate diets (a preferred term to "low" carbohydrate diets) on different conditions associated with the Metabolic Syndrome. For two days we heard how diets low in carbohydrates and higher in protein lowered blood sugar, blood pressure, hyperinsulinemia, cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL levels while increasing HDL levels. How carbohydrate controlled diets help type 2 diabetics lower or discontinue their antidiabetic medication and the effects of carbohydrate controlled diets on physical activity. The recurrent theme was health improvement.
Now, this may not sound surprising to many of us, who are actually living it and have experienced first hand the powerful effects of modifying our way of eating towards protein-rich food, while restricting carbohdyrates and getting moderate amounts of fat (yes... Protein Power in its essence), but in Brooklyn, the evidence was not based on annectodical accounts (which is how the experts refer to our years of experience living ala PP), but in solid data from randomized controlled trials of various lenghts, from 3 months to one year.
The importance of this Conference is that for the first time, the scientific community gathered, not to endorse this or that nutritional approach (that will come later as the data accumulates), but to discuss the data thus far collected. At times, of course, some of the scientists couldn't really hide that they would recommend a low carb diet in a second but we must always be as objective as we can.
Anyway, in my opinion, the Conference was a great success and really exceeded my expectations. The quality of the presentations was very high, the data was clear and almost all of the Q&A sessions after the presentations brought important issues regarding not only the science but the politics behind the current knowledge of how food affects the body.
If I have to summarize the most important points, I would say that the calorie is a calorie is a calorie nonsense was finally put to rest. Those of you who have been around this board long enough will remember how many times have we discussed the calorie issue and how confusing and misleading is to think calories instead of thinking health!
For years now we have discussed how calories are used differently once our diet is modify to provide the body which what the body really needs. One of the first presentations of the Conference was actually the "debunking" of the calorie rule.
Indeed, a calorie is NOT a calorie, and the discussion revolved around the metabolic advantage provided by a diet in which the main component is not carbohydrate but protein. The discussion provided a rationale and a biochemical explanation why when we eat more protein in the diet while reducing carbohydrate intake we lose weight, and the answer has nothing to do with losing water only.
For years experts in physical chemistry but with very limited knowledge of physiology have claimed that calories are calories regardless of the source and that weight loss resulting from diets higher in protein are nothing but water loss because our body simply cannot violate the laws of thermodynamics. How refreshing was to hear that our bodies do, in fact, comply with the laws of thermodynamics, but the difference is that our bodies are far from being closed systems. Open systems behave in a different way than a calorimeter, which is a closed system. When the laws of thermodynamics are applied to biological systems, we must consider the energy lost in the form of heat (which is what is predicted by the 2nd law of thermodynamics), thus in complete agreement with the first law that states that energy is not destroyed but only transformed... in our case, into heat. In contrast to a calorimeter, the human body extracts energy from nutrients by metabolizing them (in a similar way a calorimeter extracts energy from objects by burning them in the presence of oxigen), but that energy is used to produce work, cellular work, generating heat as a result. The case was made for diets that have more protein and how the body responds by actually investing energy in metabolizing protein, thus using calories in a different way, resulting in a higher amount of energy used than the energy extracted. This creates what the speaker called metabolic advantage, in which the calories from a rather calorically ineficient nutrient are not used for storage but actually to increase the amount of heat as a result of their own metabolism. We'll discuss about this in future threads, I'm sure.
Another important outcome was that, finally, there seems to be a consensus that it is not low this high that what we should focus but on the nutrient that almost nobody focuses... protein. It's not just reducing carbohydrates but also making sure there is enough protein what's important. Those who have read Protein Power will remember the sentence ...the cornerstone of the cornerstone of the program is the minimum protein requirement.... How true! That's why I will always react when Protein Power is dumped as just another low-carb diet... First of all, it may not be low-carb if somebody is already in maintenance and engaged in vigorous exercise every day. Under those circumstances, protein and carbohydrate levels may be the same so it may not be a low-carb anything. Carbohydrate restriction, however, and as we always say it here (and probably not enough), only provides the optimum metabolic scenario for changes to happen. But restricting carbohydrates without making sure we have an adequate protein intake doesn't solve anything and in some cases it may even compound the problem.
I'm already making this threat too long so I'll just say that I'm glad the Conference took place and that the data is now out there to be disputed, refuted, scrutinized and opposed, but never again just plainly ignored by the scientific community and policy makers. There is still a long way to go in terms of educating the public regarding what a carbohydrate controlled nutritional approach is and why it seems to be, not only a sound nutritional approach, but also perfectly compatible with our human physiology. There is still a long way to go to convince people that there is a lot more to what they call "low-carb" than just the latest trend and should not be thought as the latest "quick fix". Nonetheless, it was a good step in the right direction to bring forward the science behind what we do and give the necessary scientific background so policy makers can start thinking about how to tackle perhaps the largest epidemic of all times... no, not obesity but ignorance and misinformation.
I'll be posting new threads about different and interesting points discussed during the Kingsbrook
Conference so we can all benefit from those discussions.
On a final note, I did meet with the Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades as well as Debbie Judd (Nurse Debbie ) during the conference. For me that was a very gratifying experience. I have to say that I confirmed something I only sensed from previous written communications with them... they are delightful, plain nice, down-to-earth people and I enjoyed our discussions a great deal, even if they were short. On behalf of all the members of this board, I personaly thanked Dr. Mike Eades for their support to this community and for letting us have a place where we can discuss everything related to their program and where we can find the necessary tools and support to really make this a life style. We are also very lucky to have Debbie spending time with us on the board and every Wednesday evening in chat so we can ask for advice and discuss issues related to PP and nutrition in general. I'm positive that those chat sessions have helped more than one person.
After the Kingsbrook
Conference, I can only say that more than ever, it will pay to follow Protein Power as close as we can because the results will speak for themselves. Don't get obsessed, but don't get discouraged either... we're doing the right thing and our health will reflect our own effort.
Everybody, keep up the good work! "
The writer is a biochemist who is an administrator on the Protein Power forum;
- the thread can be found here;