Carbophobia continued...

On this page, find what respected experts say about the latest [misguided] diet rage:
The anti-carb, high-protein fad that's in reruns from its last big rise (and fall) in the 1970s.

See the compilation of quotes and excerpts below (which we'll be adding to from time to time)

See the's "Exiting The Zone" page with author Robyn Landis' own common-sense commentary.

See the "MYTH BUST" dissecting a typical misleading article that spreads carbophobia idiocy.

See an excerpt from a debate between author John McDougall, M.D. and Barry Sears, with a link to more.

See quoted pages 156-169 of Howard Lyman's book Mad Cowboy for succinct, Searingly straightforward "re-zoning."

Submit your own idea for a future MYTH BUST, or ask a question.

Go to for another favorite author's (John Robbins) graceful, articulate views on the urgency of the food/environment/health/animal links.

Dr. Neal Barnard, President of
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM),
speaks out:

(The following is excerpted from PETA's Animal Times, Fall 1997.
Neil Barnard, M.D., President of
PCRM and author of Food For Life, answers questions about nutrition and health care in PETA's magazine.)

QUESTION: My co-worker has lost weight on the high-protein "Zone" diet. How can she eat so much meat and still stay healthy?

ANSWER: Your associate may be losing pounds temporarily, but if she sticks to her new diet for any length of time, she may gain something she didn't bargain for: an increased risk of everything from heart attacks to osteoporosis. Often, the long-term risks outweigh the benefits of fad diets.

High-protein, high-fat diets, like the one outlined in Barry Sears' book [Enter] The Zone, are nothing new. London undertaker William Banting advocated a similar scheme in the 1860s. And two decades ago, Dr. Robert Atkins tried to promote a high-protein eating plan.

According to Sears, the optimum diet is comprised of 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat, and 40 percent carbohydrates. While it's possible to plan vegetarian Zone-friendly meals by loading up on plant-derived sources of protein like tofu, tempeh and soy-based meat alternastives (in a Zone diet, beans count as carbs as nuts count as fats), most Zone adherents equate protein with meat.

Water loss accounts for some of the diet's "success." Carbohydrates hold water in the body, so people who reduce their consumption of carbs will naturally lose a few pounds of H20. Zone followers are also old-fashioned calorie counters. Men who comply with the Zone diet end up consuming less than 1,700 calories a day--fewer calories than the average eater.* Women who follow this diet consume even less.* It's no wonder they lose weight.

In the long run, Zone dieters can also lose their health, and will gain back those unwanted pounds. Heart attacks, cancer, strokes and other killers are directly linked to high-fat, high-protein diets. Eating excess protein also places a burden onthe kidneys and can cause calcium and other important nutrients to be leached from the body--raising the risk of osteoporosis.

Nutritional research--and plain common sense--tell us that making permanent lifestyle changes, such as eating low-fat foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, and exercising daily, is the best way to achieve and maintain a desired weight without gambling with your health.

(* I VERY rarely recommend that any remotely active person eat less than 2000 calories per day!)

(** See my bookstore for more on Dr. Neal Barnard's books.)


Thanks to Esther Cohen, R.D.,who smartly and succinctly said
in her November 1996 Delicious! article "Food for Thought":

"It's important to note that consuming protein won't make your muscles grow. Rather, it's the demand placed on your body by exercise that determines muscle tissue growth. If you eat excess protein, it will be converted to fat and stored in adipose tissue rather than muscle--unless you exercise. In addition, if you fill your stomach with too much protein, you'll burn some of it rather than carbohydrate for energy. This stresses your body and isn't an efficient system of energy production." --Esther Cohen, R.D., Delicious! Magazine

She's so right. And isn't it amazing that, given this, the high-protein fad goes as far as it does?

By the way, the US RDA for protein is .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight (your weight times .4). However, in reality this should be more customized since people with different amounts of muscle mass need different amounts of protein, and people with different activity levels need different amounts of protein.

Nancy Clark's excellent Sports Nutrition Guidebook makes the following more custom-tailored daily protein intake recommendations:

Sedentary adult .4 g. protein per pound of body weight

Active adult .4-.6 g. protein per pound of body weight

Growing athlete .6-.9 g. protein per pound of body weight

Adult building muscle mass .6-.9 g protein per pound of body weight

For my answers to some questions about protein intake, see the Q&A Archives

between Dr. McDougall & Dr. Sears

Author Dr. John McDougall's site is:

Click on "Newsletter" and "The Great Debate." Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

On June 9, 1997, I met Barry Sears, the author of the number one

national best seller, Entering the Zone, at Bally's in Las Vegas for

the first of our 3 debates ...After telling a crowd of nearly 4000 people

the virtues of his diet for controlling insulin and eicosanoid levels with

resulting weight loss and improved health, I proceeded to explain why

his diet is merely a semi-starvation diet and like all such diets it is impossible to

follow for any length of time. I used Barry Sears as an example:


Barry Sears weighs 210 pounds and is 6'5" according to information

from his book. His diet is based on 30% of the calories from protein,

30% fat, and 40% carbohydrate. He says he eats 100 grams of protein a

day. He has been following his diet for 4-5 years. He says he is still

on his diet because he still needs to lose more weight.


If Barry Sears eats 100 grams of protein that translates into 400

calories of protein (1 gram of protein = 4 calories). Since the

proportions of the diet are 30/30/40, this means he also consumes

400 calories of fat, and about 500 calories of carbohydrate. His total

calorie intake is therefore 1300 calories per day. A conservative

estimate of his actual needs would be over 2300 calories a day, with

only sedentary activity. This means every day he is 1000 calories

short of his needs. Every week he comes up 7000 calories short, which

must be made up from his fat stores. One pound of fat amounts to 3500

calories. Therefore, Barry Sears must lose 2 pounds of fat a week on

his diet. Every year by calculation he loses 104 pounds. Since he

says he has been on his diet for 4 to 5 years this means he has lost

over 400 pounds.


At this point in the debate I asked him, "Barry Sears: A) Did you

start your diet at over 600 pounds? B) Do you defy the laws of

nature? or C) Is it that you cannot and do not follow your own


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