New York Times reports no benefit to time restricted eating… but what did participants in the study eat?

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The New York Times reported on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on time restricted eating, or as it is more commonly known these days, intermittent fasting. It’s important to note the study was also based on calorie restriction, which was left out of the headline, in addition to time restriction. The study showed no significant difference in weight loss or body composition between those practicing both calorie restricted and time restricted eating versus those simply practicing calorie restriction.

But now, a rigorous one-year study in which people followed a low-calorie diet between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or consumed the same number of calories anytime during the day has failed to find an effect.

The study, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by researchers at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, and included 139 people with obesity. Women ate 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, and men consumed 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily. To ensure compliance, participants were required to photograph every bit of food they ate and to keep food diaries.

The bottom line, said Dr. Ethan Weiss, a diet researcher at the University of California, San Francisco: “There is no benefit to eating in a narrow window.”

Scientists Find No Benefit to Time-Restricted Eating – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The article did not report on what the study participants ate. I don’t have a sufficient background in analyzing the study so I’ve reached out to some doctors on Twitter to see if they will review the findings.

I know from personal experience over decades of eating mainly one meal a day that I never need to restrict calories, count calories, count macros, or limit myself in any way in order to maintain my weight. I also know from personal experience if I want to lose weight I simply start restricting intake of carbohydrates, even more than I do now, and I can drop weight very quickly. If you add real fasting to the weight loss regimen, not eating for at least 3 days, you can enhance the weight loss effect even more. These things have held true to me when I waver off my normal weight range of 165 lbs. to 170 lbs.

If people are eating roughly the same number of calories but those calories are high in carbohydrates I wouldn’t expect for there to be a great difference in weight loss between the groups but I would expect some. In fact there was a small difference. The time restricted group lost around 18 lbs. while the other group lost 14 lbs.

The mean weight loss from baseline at 12 months was −8.0 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], −9.6 to −6.4) in the time-restriction group and −6.3 kg (95% CI, −7.8 to −4.7) in the daily-calorie-restriction group. 

Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss | NEJM

The study says it’s not statistically significant but 4 lbs. is enough to make a difference to me. But, statistics is a different world and maybe 4 lbs. isn’t that big a deal if the participants are morbidly obese.

I’d like to see an opinion from a scientist or doctor that I trust.

Ketogenic Diet as possible treatment for PCOS

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The ketogenic diet has shown some promise as a non-pharmacological treatment for Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is good news! Any time you can stop or reduce the number of prescription drugs you consume the better. The added benefit is that if it works for you it will also save you money!

The results of our study are suggestive for a use of the KD as a possible therapeutic aid in PCOS, to be followed by a more balanced dietary regimen, but always with particular attention to the amount of carbohydrates. The duration of KD is still a question: there is no evidence of side effects in the short term, they are considered safe for short cycles. Less information is available on diets in the long term, but the experience gained in the field of epilepsy and GLUT-1 deficiency syndrome supports a possible use also for prolonged periods. It is plausible to hypothesize the setting of protocols to be repeated in cycles over time, interspersed with periods of balanced regime.

biomedcentral.com

The saturated fat falacy

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Professor Timothy Noakes is writing a series of articles to try to put the nail in the coffin of the modern western diet and dispatch forever the shoddy work of Ancel Keys.

This is why you should immediately distrust anyone that says, “The science is settled.” Science by it’s very nature is never settled. Those people saying these things are more likely than not just like Ancel Keys. Pushing their theories and searching desperately for studies to confirm their own bias.

This first article is a great read.

So when, in the late 1960s, Keys became one of the original beneficiaries of research funding from the newly formed National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), he discovered, to his utter dismay (and perhaps horror) that, far from supporting his claims, his brilliantly designed and perfectly executed test — the Minnesota Coronary Experiment  (MCE) (6) — comprehensively disproved both his hypotheses. According to Karl Popper’s description that a real scientist is someone imbued with a “ruthless scepticism toward your own work,” had Keys been just such a scientist, this should have been the end of his hypotheses.

The MCE established that the replacement of dietary saturated fat with the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) linoleic acid, which lowered average blood cholesterol concentrations by 15% to the apparently “safe” level of 175 mg/dL (4.6 mmol/L), had absolutely no effect on heart disease outcomes. Instead, “no differences between the treatment and control groups were observed for cardiovascular events, cardiovascular deaths or total mortality” (6, p. 129).

This finding fatally dispatched Keys’ hypotheses because the MCE established that, when tested in a rigorous and essentially flawless trial, using Keys’ dietary recommendations to lower cholesterol failed to prevent CHD as Keys had promised.

crossfit.com

Why science is never settled

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Nina Teicholz wrote an op-ed in the LA Times today that talks about the new analysis of scientific studies surrounding red meat and how there is no conclusive evidence, one way or the other, as to red meat’s benefit or harm. It’s important reading because it highlights what is prevalent in all science lately. The attempt to shout down the voices of those that don’t agree with the current “consensus”.

The answer is that many of the nation’s official nutrition recommendations — including the idea that red meat is a killer — have been based on a type of weak science that experts have unfortunately become accustomed to relying upon. Now that iffy science is being questioned. At stake are deeply entrenched ideas about healthy eating and trustworthy nutrition guidelines, and with many scientists invested professionally, and even financially, in the status quo, the fight over the science won’t be pretty.

LA Times

Possible health benefits of ketones and fasting on your intestines

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If this article is true it is a testament to the wonders of the human body and mother nature. As human beings we over think everything and sometimes believe that we can circumvent nature and our own natural state. It’s easy to see that at our core we are just animals like the rest that roam the Earth. If modern life wasn’t invented we certainly would not be eating three meals a day and we wouldn’t be eating processed sugar. Our bodies are already adapted to this lifestyle. All we have to do is live it.

MIT biologists have discovered an unexpected effect of a ketogenic, or fat-rich, diet: They showed that high levels of ketone bodies, molecules produced by the breakdown of fat, help the intestine to maintain a large pool of adult stem cells, which are crucial for keeping the intestinal lining healthy.
The researchers also found that intestinal stem cells produce unusually high levels of ketone bodies even in the absence of a high-fat diet. These ketone bodies activate a well-known signaling pathway called Notch, which has previously been shown to help regulate stem cell differentiation.

ScienceBlog.com

Ketogenic Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease

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More promising news on the Ketogenic Diet and it’s potential for treating Alzheimer’s Disease.

The presence of ketone bodies has a neuroprotective impact on aging brain cells. Moreover, their production may enhance mitochondrial function, reduce the expression of inflammatory and apoptotic mediators. Thus, it has gained interest as a potential therapy for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. This review aims to examine the role of the ketogenic diet in Alzheimer’s disease progression and to outline specific aspects of the nutritional profile providing a rationale for the implementation of dietary interventions as a therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.

mdpi.com

Seed oils and their effect on your body

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This is something I only learned recently and the information isn’t getting any better for seed oils (vegetable oils).

VEGETABLE oils are highly unstable.

When they interact with oxygen, they release neurotoxic, DNA mutating chemicals which are known to cause cancer (at least).
Recent improvements in measurement technology have now thrown a spotlight on the quantity of these chemicals released by normal use. And the results are truly terrifying.

Cheap vegetable oil made from seeds (canola, sunflower, corn, safflower, grapeseed, rice bran and soybean oils) is a new addition to the human diet. Unlike animal fats and oils made from fruit (olive, avocado and coconut oils), they’re very high in polyunsaturated fats and in particular something called an omega-6 fat.
A recent study found that when seed oils containing these fats are heated at a normal cooking temperature (of 180 degrees celsius), they create highly toxic chemicals known to be involved in cancer causation.

News Corp Australia

A call to improve dietary research

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This article is a must read. It showcases the difference between pharmaceutical research and nutritional research and how much more difficult the latter is to the former. Much of dietary research is dependent on surveys because it is next to impossible to have people captive while conducting a study. As a result it is difficult to know what people really consumed versus what they say or what they remember. In that type of environment there is no control.

Compared with pharmaceutical research, studies evaluating diet or dietary interventions for chronic diseases like obesity (to be distinguished from micronutrient deficiency syndromes like scurvy or rickets) have far greater challenges in terms of consistency, quality control, confounding, and interpretation. For instance, a placebo for an active drug can be easily prepared, but dietary assignment can rarely be truly masked. Moreover, diet is highly heterogeneous, with myriad interacting and potentially confounding factors. If an intervention increases intake from one food category, participants may well eat less from other food categories.

In addition, for any diet type, many possible variations exist. For example, does a low-fat diet include high amounts of sugar? Is a high-protein diet plant or animal based? Does a ketogenic diet have unrealistically low saturated fat content? Whereas a drug typically acts through one or a limited number of biological pathways, even discrete changes in diet (such as the ratio of dietary fat to carbohydrate) will directly affect numerous hormones and metabolic pathways involving many organ systems. The lack of uniformity across studies and the difficulty in establishing mechanisms make translation into public policy exceedingly difficult, a problem now being addressed by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

JAMANetwork.com

Is coffee the true super food you’ve been looking for?

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I doubt that coffee is a super food just like I don’t believe in anything being a super food. Food is food and too much of anything probably is not good for you. But, at the same time, I like to drink coffee and I’m not afraid to have a cup or five during the day. Depends on the day and my mood. There’s nothing in the article about bullet proof coffee, a favorite of the keto community, but if coffee will help you cheat death than maybe bullet proof coffee will make you invincible!

We have to start here: A fascinating British study of 500,000 people found that habitual coffee drinkers were less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers over the 10 year span of the study.
Not just less likely to die of certain causes: less likely to die of anything. As in, they literally cheat death. Find me a better argument than that!
As for why, it’s a bit of a mystery. One theory is that since coffee contains more than 10,000 different chemical compounds that protect cells from damage, it might just inhibit many causes of death that scientists haven’t isolated yet.

Inc.