Savory-Flavored Carbs and Fat

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

The main driver of the obesity epidemic has been increased intake, rather than decreased energy expenditure, Stephen J. Simpson and David Raubenheimer say:

The obesity problem is best understood not as the result of the overconsumption of a single macronutrient, but from a skewing of the proportion of each macronutrient in our diet — notably the dwindling quantity of protein in processed food products. The paucity of protein relative to fats and carbohydrates in processed foods drives the overconsumption of total energy as our bodies seek to maintain a target level of protein intake.


Many processed food products are protein-poor but are engineered to taste like protein. Many people therefore eat far too much fat and carbohydrate in their attempt to ingest enough protein. In this way, engineered foods subvert the appetite control systems that should be helping to balance the consumption of macronutrients. The results are striking. In the United States, the typical diet saw a 0.8% decline in protein concentration between 1971 and 2006. During this same period, the consumption of calories from carbohydrates and fats increased by 8%, a trend reflected in the rising prevalence of obesity, but protein intake remained almost unchanged.

The substitution of carbohydrates and fats for protein is driven by economics. Food manufacturers have a financial incentive to replace protein with cheaper forms of calories, and to manipulate the sensory qualities of foods to disguise their lower protein content. This leads to savoury-flavoured food that makes us think we’re eating protein when in reality it is loaded with carbohydrates and fats.


  1. Alrenous says:

    This kind of hypothesis occurred to me in the 90s.

    Consider that it’s not just macronutrients. Most western food is somewhat deficient in everything:

    As more and more scientific evidence emerges, confirming that currently recommended daily allowances (RDA) of vitamin D are grossly insufficient for young and old alike, many have asked me to clarify the recommended dosages, especially as it pertains to children.

    Current recommendations are 400 IU for vitamin D. The amount you need for good health is roughly in 5000 IU range, and this article think it can be up to 30000 IU depending on how well you absorb D from dietary sources. (Perhaps they don’t distinguish D2 from D3, D2 needs to be converted to D3 and the process isn’t efficient.)

    Notably by going outside in the summer you get between 10k and 20k IUs. It caps out when all the surface cholesterol has been converted.

    Taking enough vitamin D has dramatically improved my immune function, consistent with formal research and Seth Roberts’ n=1 experiment. Presumably there are other, harder to notice benefits as well.

    Subclinical mineral deficiencies are also common. (Manganese?)

    Everything but vitamin A, which is remarkably easy to overdose on.

  2. Slovenian Guest says:

    There is also the whole lipid hypothesis scam; decreasing blood cholesterol does not significantly reduces coronary heart disease events. Or in other words, drinking full-fat milk and eating eggs won’t give you a heart attack. Karl Denninger calls it at best questionable and is likely nothing more than quackery:

    The hypothesis arose from a single researcher named Ancel Keys; he published a claimed “Seven Countries Study” that allegedly showed that cardiovascular disease was caused by high serum (that is, blood) cholesterol levels and that was caused by eating a high-fat diet.

    Keys, it is now known, preferentially selected data that showed what he wanted to show up front and ignored everything else. Worse, there was no primary research either before his “study” nor was any conducted to validate his claims after it was published.

    Indeed, when the full data set (not just his “seven”) is re-analyzed — all data that Keys had access to and intentionally ignored — the correlation he claimed disappears.

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    Further on that… “The Oiling of America” tells how we came to believe the myth that saturated fats are harmful to our health. Either as a two hours long YouTube lecture or book (full text).

  4. Bill says:

    Maintaining an appropriate balance (40%-30%-30% respectively) of carbohydrates, protein and fat is the basis for the Zone diet, introduced in 1995 by biochemist Barry Sears.

    You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to eat typical American food, and stay within this ratio; the American diet is overwhelmingly carbohydrate-based, with too much food at every meal.

  5. Zhai2Nan2 says:

    Every day, I eat at least six boiled eggs for breakfast.

    This diet might kill me. I don’t care.

    Six boiled eggs stick to my ribs and make me believe that I can face the world.

    I’ll see you in the emergency room!

  6. Zhai2Nan2 says:

    Incidentally, if you’re not motivated to eat a lot of protein, just read a few of the books of E.C. Tubb. You’ll be changed by the experience. You’ll want to go through the rest of your life carrying a dagger and eating a diet high in protein.

  7. Vulture, you’re an odd duck. Never change :-)

  8. Toddy Cat says:

    Eggs are good for you, quite possibly the best food on earth. Don’t believe all that Commie-Boomer peasant diet propaganda. You’ll probably outlive us all, V — certainly the low-fat nitwits.

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