What was Gary Taubes thinking? Taubes, an esteemed science writer and staunch advocate of low carbohydrate diets, felt that ingestion of excess carbohydrates, especially processed carbs, such as carbs minus the fiber content, was the primary cause of the ever-increasing rate of obesity. Taubes had discussed in depth the evidence for this contention in his best-selling books, such as Good Calories, Bad Calories, Why We Get Fat, and The Case Against Sugar. Taubes wasn't the first to implicate excess carbohydrate ingestion as the real cause of excess body fat in most people. The notion that carbohydrates are the most fattening of nutrients dated back to 1863, when Englishman William Banting published what was the first diet book, Letter On Corpulence. Banting was a London undertaker who documented in his book how he had tried every known method to lose weight, but all had failed. That is until a doctor suggested that he remove all sugars and starches from his diet. This diet resulted in a 35-pound weight loss in Banting, and he enthusiastically passed his success to the public in his book, which became a best seller. Indeed, so popular was Banting's book that the term "Banting" become synonymous with weight-loss, as in "Are you Banting?"
What followed over the course of 100 years was a succession of books that touted the same basic principles that Banting had discussed in his book, with a bit more science thrown in. The more recent low carbohydrate diet books, such as the 1972 book published by New York cardiologist Robert Atkins took Banting's original idea a bit further by suggesting that carbs promoted fat gains because they stimulated too much of an insulin release. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas that is most associated with the uptake of sugar as glucose into cells. Aberrations of insulin activity result in diabetes. One type of diabetes, type-1, is characterized by complete destruction of the beta cells that produce insulin, most likely because of an autoimmune reaction where immune cells attack and destroy the beta cells that produce insulin. Why and how this happens remains a mystery in medicine. What is known is that type-1 diabetics must be on insulin their entire lives.
In type-2 diabetes, the beta cells remain intact. The problem here is that cells become insensitive to insulin. Indeed, the early signs of impending diabetes include insulin insensitivity, often known as "pre-diabetes." Being insulin insensitive, however, does not guarantee the eventual development of full-blown diabetes. That depends largely on physical activity and diet. Those who don't ingest excess calories or carbohydrates and also engage in regular physical activity can both prevent, and in many cases, cure existing cases of diabetes. Diabetes is closely related to the number and size of lipocytes or fat cells. Having . . .