Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dr. Oz Vs. Gary Taubes and the High Protein Diet

** To be fair to Gary Taubes, about an hour after I published the following post I received a comment from Tyler who told me about this post on Gary's blog. I sort of figured the producers of Dr. Oz had sensationalized Gary's views a bit, but this article really made me feel better about Gary.....thanks Tyler!!! **

Do you watch Dr. Oz? I usually tape it and then watch it only if the topic really interests me (that's typically about once out of every five episodes). Several weeks ago I saw the title "The Man Who Disagrees With Everything Dr. Oz Says". I was enticed! I pushed "play" and quickly realized the "man" was the author of one of my favorite books; Gary Taubes, who wrote the book Good Calories, Bad Calories. If you've read the book, or have heard of the book, you might be thinking, "this is the Atkins diet that this man is promoting! Gina...why do you like this book?!".

In the book Gary Taubes, a writer for the New York Times, discusses years and years worth of literature and research on nutrition, diets, heart disease and obesity, and concludes that sugar and refined carbohydrates are making us fat and putting us at higher risk for chronic diseases (especially heart disease).

Source: iStockPhoto

The book goes into great detail about our endocrine system and I was truly amazed with all that I learned. The book talks about how sugar and refined carbohydrates spike our insulin levels and therefore makes us store more fat (this was not news to me). He discusses how some people store fat more efficiently than others. You may have heard some people say, "I eat a piece of bread and it goes right to my thighs". There is actually some truth to that statement, for certain individuals.

As I read the book it didn't seem like Gary was promoting an Adkins-like diet. In fact, Gary is not a doctor or a dietitian, and he does not talk about any suggestions for a special diet at all (that I can recall). The book is simply scientific evidence that explains how our highly refined carbohydrate diet really is killing us.

Source: iStockPhoto

As I read the book I envisioned Gary's own diet being very healthy, and somewhat low in carbohydrates; lean proteins, plenty of healthy fats, whole grains, and lots of fresh vegetables (and some fruits). As I watched the episode of Dr. Oz I was appalled. Gary Taubes really angered me (if you want to see the video, click here)! He pretty much said we should all be eating a diet that is high in meat, poultry, eggs, and cheese, and the only other foods we should consume are the occasional green vegetable (such as spinach and kale, which are very low carbohydrate foods).

Here Are My Questions For Gary
(many of which were answered in his blog

- What about fish as a protein? Why, on the Dr. Oz show, did you only focus on chicken, beef and even pork rinds?!

- What about other low carbohydrate vegetables such as pumpkin, mushrooms, turnips, tomatoes, onions, spaghetti squash and zucchini?? We need to vary the colors of produce we consume. Green veggies are great, but orange, purple, red and white are important too!

Source: iStockPhoto

- Why can't we eat more than just one serving of those green vegetables, per day? Where is the research that says only eating one serving of green veggies (with NO OTHER COLORS) is actually healthy?!

- Why did you refuse to share your cholesterol levels with Dr. Oz? He asked you, but you refused to report the numbers. Is there something you are hiding?? Is it possible that the long-term effects of such a crazy and unbalanced diet are actually worse than you envisioned?

- How could you go on the Dr. Oz show and not at least mention that you should be supplementing essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D if you decide to do such a diet? You know that many Dr. Oz fans are women are in their 40s and 50s, desperate to lose weight, and willing to try whatever they can to lose it. If they try this pathetic diet they will likely be deficient in many nutrients that are especially important for their age group (hello...where's the milk?!). At least tell them the facts! And don't tell them they will get their calcium from the green leafy vegetables, that just doesn't cut it.

Bottom Line

- I agree that refined carbohydrates are bad, but I don't agree that you're better off eating zero carbohydrates. I happen to believe that the fiber found in whole grains can actually help people lose weight. Did you find any research on that??!!

- I agree that eating less carbohydrates will help you lose weight, but if you're going to decrease your carbohydrate intake don't substitute high fat processed meats. You may lose weight, but your chances of getting cancer will skyrocket.

- If you decide to take Gary's advice, do yourself a favor and eat better sources of protein, such as fish, grass-fed beef and fresh poultry. Also, include some more of those low carbohydrate vegetables that I listed above! And please, get at least once decent serving of whole grains. One serving of oatmeal (not instant) will provide about 45 grams of whole grain. And of course, take some extra calcium and vitamin D.

QUESTION: Did you watch this episode of Dr. Oz? What are your thoughts about Gary Taubes and his extreme views? Please read Gary's post (in response to the show I just wrote about) if you can! It really makes me lose respect for Dr. Oz and his producers.


  1. I don't watch dr. oz but I did watch a video from Gary. I am with you, i agree with him that refined carbs and sugar are culprit to our health but it makes no sense to replace them by high fat meat that we ow it's not good either. And no greens? That's crazy!!!
    I think that's just another case of taking things to the extreme instead of balancing out.

  2. Gary Taubes has a blog, and actually has an interesting post about his Dr. Oz appearance:

    Basically, it seems that the show producers tried to make Taubes into a character that was as different from Dr. Oz as possible. I don't think Taubes eats pork rinds, and I think he eats more veggies than they made it seem.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I didn't see the episode, but like you I assumed that Taubes ate differently than what was being described on Dr. Oz

  4. I'm often times disappointed in the lack of quality information Dr. Oz shares on his show. He is SO good at making things easy to understand and tangible for people, but he's too focused on "Superfoods" and crazy diets/trends. I think your points are all so valid. I think the post about Gary's blog is interesting, too!

  5. I've been meaning to check out that book since you recommended it to me. It's a shame that the author behind it doesn't seem like an ideal example. What about whole grains? Whole grains have provided sustenance and energy since wayyyy back in history. There are wayyyy too many refined carbs on the market right now, but I think whole grains are an essential part to a healthy diet. And eating green veggies sparingly is in direct conflict with my diet philosophies! To me, the more the better, because I think it'd be truly hard for the average American to really go overboard on greens. Interesting post Gina!

  6. I didn't see the episode or read taube's book, but I agree completely with you. In the nutrition classes I teach, I spend so much time addressing what actually makes people fat....and that it's not just about taking those things out, but it's also nourishing the body with nutrients in the right proportions.

    People like Taube are only looking at one aspect of the issue!
    Thanks for an awesome post!

  7. Let me just say I almost never watch Dr. Oz because a lot of what he says really bothers me and I think he oversimplifies and overgeneralizes things, and I have seen him recommend foods without portion sizes, which in the case of nuts really seems like a bad idea to tell people eat nuts. 1-2 oz is not the same as 1-2 pounds. But, I did happen to catch this episode at the gym. I was appalled and this was the first time I ever 100% agreed with Dr. Oz. I am glad to see that you read an artice that shed some light and makes sense that the producers would sensationalize the story. I think you make some good points and raise some good questions, all of which I agree with. great post!

  8. Great post! I never watch Dr. Oz. I think it bothered me that Oprah never had a RD on her show and only had Dr. Oz give nutrition advice on her show. Anyway, it frustrates me how carelessly they can give out this information sometimes on television. Some people can be so easily swayed to follow this or that diet. It's unfortunate that they are being taken advantage of like that. And what about the research behind plant-based diets? Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Ah. I really can't stand the anti-carb thing! I think part of it is that all the "carb" veggies are the ones I can eat without my stomach hurting haha. But still. I'm glad you are showing us more accurate information :)

  10. i feel like gary and i would not be friends. i eat way to many servings of greens for him to consider me a good eater haha.

    anyways i do LOVE dr. oz like love love love love LOVE him hahaha so i'm on the oz train all the way. choo choo

  11. Everyone's body is different and everyone needs different amounts of various nutrients, but I definitely am in agreement with you that ONE serving of greens a day is ridiculously low for anyone!

  12. I didn´t watch the show but I had wanted to watch it. I read some of Dr. Taubes´s post, and it´s all very interesting. I definitely like the questions you pose to him in response to the show. Thanks for writing this post and linking to Dr. Taubes´post!

    I don´t watch Dr. Oz very often as whenever there is a topic that interests me it´s covered on such a superficial level that it´s not helpful to me. It seems like the show is more and more about entertainment and sensational headlines and not about educating people at all anymore. It´s really sad.

  13. Great and informative post! Gary's post was very interesting and informative as well!

  14. I was cheering the whole time I was reading your post! LOVE the great questions you pose for Gary!!

  15. P.S. Cheering for you, that is, NOT for this unbalanced diet that is soooooo tragically lacking in vegetables!! Just figured I should clarify... :-)

  16. Ooh love a debate. What day was the show on? I too DVR and watch here and there (how can we watch it all?) I think you bring up a great point about experts though it may not be your main point. Do we know wha the expert eats? Or what their bloodwork looks like? Should we? Hmn

  17. I haven't read Good Calories, Bad Calories and am not really familiar with the work of Gary Taubes. I do not watch Dr. Oz, as I think he can be overzealous and annoying at times. However, based on that particular episode, I, one hundred percent agree with Dr. Oz. Despite whether or not the show was trying to create an outrageous persona for Gary, he managed to do accomplish that himself. Gary appeared to be another scientist trying to get rich off ANOTHER diet book. I am a Registered Dietitian, and I find these fad diet to be super annoying. Dr. Oz was right when he said Gary's diet is unsustainable. I agree that the general public is now, more than ever, eating way to many refined carbs, but in the form of chips, snacks, baked goods, and pastries. There are so many health benefits to eating whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, brown pasta, whole wheat bread). What about intestinal cancer? Does Gary talk about the complications of cutting back carbohydrates in the diet. Thanks for sharing the article. I now have a litte more respect for Dr. Oz.

  18. Gary posted his blood work.

    Much ado about nothing after all.

  19. A high protein diet is really good in building muscles. Always take what's necessary for your health.

    Supplements Canada

  20. It is rather insensible to go off on a rant against someone well-informed and educated because you haven't put the effort to look into these very simple questions:

    - What about fish as a protein?
    : Fish is a great protein and the only dependable source of omega-3s (ala conversion is very inefficient). And why are you blaming Taubes for this? In case you weren't paying attention, those meals were put-together and consumed by Dr.Oz. Taubes had no hand in it.

    What about other low carbohydrate vegetables such as pumpkin, mushrooms, turnips, tomatoes, onions, spaghetti squash and zucchini??
    : He made no mention against low-carb veggies

    Why can't we eat more than just one serving of those green vegetables, per day?
    : I do not recall him saying this. Vegetables are a healthy part of a diet. In fact, Dr. Oz was putting words in his mouth regarding fruits being evil, which Taubes disagreed with.

    Why did you refuse to share your cholesterol levels with Dr. Oz?
    : If you actually paid any attention to Taubes explanation for cholestrol, it is a meaningless number. This is something Dr. Oz was using to try and gain ground, and he is well aware that Taubes disagrees with cholestrol levels. To summarize, cholestrol makes up the majority of our nervous system and is incredibly important. It is the inflammation and plaquing of our arteries that cause heart disease.

    - How could you go on the Dr. Oz show and not at least mention that you should be supplementing essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D if you decide to do such a diet?
    : Umm... because it is a complete healthy diet UNLIKE the one most people are eating? Pay attention to your foods' ingredients lists. You'll find that the majority of so called "healthy" low-fat, high-carb foods are fortified with synthetic vitamins (i.e. your diet is already being supplemented because these foods are lacking, and have poor bioavailability/absorption rates). FYI, milk is completely unnecessary and high in lactose sugars. This is why all mammals stop producing it after their babies have grown past the needed stage. You'll find that your precious milk is also fortified with synthetic vitamins.

    Bottom line: Do your research before you go off on an ignorant rant.

    1. OH THANK YOU, you took the words out of my mouth, but said it much better. Just finished reading Dr. William Davis's book "Wheat Belly" and Dr. D'Adamo's "Eat right for your type" And I will never go back to eating WHEAT, or the famous "healthy grains" again!!!!! Dr. Taubes is right on with his information. If people want to believe in Dr. Oz, thats fine, it only means they don't mind being obese

  21. I read and followed Mr. Taubes' suggestion as a result of me tipping the scale at 220 pounds (I'm only 5'9"). After 7 months, I have lost 50 pounds and still maintain my weight at 170 lbs. When I eat carbs, I gain weight quickly. Thank YOU, Mr. Taubes for bringing back the sage advice of reducing carb and flour intake given over 150 years ago!

  22. People who don't agree with taubes, including dieticians who were taught things based on faulty science- you should at least read Gary's book/s before passing judgement.

  23. I have read Taubes' book. It is a well written, researched and thoughtful critique of the recent conventional wisdom about weight gain/loss. His review of the history of medical industry's weight loss literature is fascinating. Likewise, the cultural/anthropological analysis of weight gain in third world cultures.

    I would recommend the book-- provocative as it is-- to anyone who cares about their health and willing to re-examine their thinking.

    Clearly, the American diet and weight loss methods are not working for millions of good people who desperately want to be healthy. Why be afraid to consider a serious, thoughtful alternative?