Nutrition Science or Science Fiction?

February 21, 2013


Here we go again. Yet another nutritional "scientist" claiming that carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body and a required macronutrient. Sigh.

In this incredibly frustrating and full-of-baloney video, we hear scientist Bridget Benelam say, right from the get go:

I'm going to talk about carbohydrate and why it is an important nutrient for our bodies.

Important? Really? Are you sure there Bridget?

Let's take a look at what the DRI's (dietary reference intake devised by the National Institute of Health) have to say about carbohydrate:

The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.

This is a very biased and convoluted statement.

But before I explain that, we can see carbohydrate is NOT an important nutrient since we don't need any of it at all.

It would on the other hand be correct to say that fat and protein are important nutrients since we need a certain amount of both to live. But how can carbohydrate be an important nutrient when we can do without it? Important = required. Unimportant = not required. Am I wrong?

As I mentioned, the statement is deeply biased to begin with. Since adequate amounts of protein and fat must be consumed to survive and thrive, in their absence a boat load of carbs won't do you much good. You still need the fat and protein. So why say "provided that..."?

The next sentence reads:

However, the amount of dietary carbohydrate that provides for optimal health in humans is unknown.

It is also unknown what "optimal health" is in the first place. The bias in favor of carbs appears to be everywhere.

I posted a comment on the You Tube page of the video (as did a few other well-educated folks that I know) and they have yet to post them. They won't of course. It's not nice to ruin pretty stock-notions with cruel and ugly facts.

OK I can hear what your thinking - there are exceptions to this Fred! Some people need dietary carbs. Yes, it appears that athletes who deplete their stores of muscular glycogen very rapidly and deeply (high intensity efforts like sprinting, mixed martial arts, etc. can do this) require some dietary carbs in order to rapidly replenish their intramuscular glycogen stores so that they can continue to train like maniacs.

Most of these athletes are, in my opinion, wildly over training. But far be it from me to tell them or their coaches how to train (ahem). BTAIM (be that as it may),  for the vast majority of people who are performing high intensity resistance training and other sports to improve their strength and health, there is no need to worry about too low muscle glycogen levels. Nuh uh.

Rather than focusing on carb intake as the USDA and other organizations would have you do, focus instead on getting in your protein requirements which can be found here. Always add a nice array of green, leafy, non-starchy vegetables and/or seasonal fruits to your proteins. Eat like this and you'll be lean, strong, energetic and you'll sing good too!