Calories: The Beginning Of The End

Calories: The Beginning Of The End

Science, however, was interested. In 1944 Dr. Blake F. Donaldson conducted a famous experiment with obese patients at New York Hospital, reducing them on diets high in proteins and fats. Dr. Donaldson’s book, Strong Medicine, was another sign post along the road on which Banting had embarked eighty years earlier. But the average dieter went on counting calories, all kinds together, oblivious that more and more research was piling up to suggest that with his low calorie carrot salad, high in carbohydrates, he was doing his measurements more harm than if he had satisfied his hunger with a nice slice of ham-higher in total calories, but zero in carbohydrates.

A few years afterwards the E.I. du Pont company headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, undertook a weight-control programme involving a group of its executives who had been unsuccessful with low calorie diets. Under the direction of Dr. Albert W. Pennington and Dr. George H. Gehrmann, director of du Pont’s medical division, these overweight individuals were allowed all the protein and fat they wanted.

Total caloric intake was unrestricted, in some cases going up to 3000 or more calories per day-but carbohydrate was withheld. The results were spectacular. The weight losses varied from person to person, as did the time required for each to reach his goal. But, averaged out, each dieter lost 22 lb. in slightly more than three months.

This time public imagination was captured. Holiday magazine ran a series of articles discussing the du Pont project, and for a time the so-called Holiday Diet became a household word. In principle, this was a controlled carbohydrate diet, but in practice the high-protein, high-fat regimen offered so many calories per day that it was still impossible for most people to believe it would work. The medical directors of the project knew, and had proved, that when carbohydrate was not present the body would burn fat instead.

However, in the years that followed, so much significant research has been recorded by so many authoritative investigators that it is no longer possible to dismiss the low carbohydrate diet as interesting but freakish. At Middlesex Hospital in London, a team headed by Professor Alan Kekwick and biochemist Dr. G. L. S. Pawan undertook an intensive study of diet involving both obese and non-obese subjects, the results of which have had enormous impact on weight-control theory.

They found that obese patients would lose weight even on comparatively high calorie diets so long as the calories consisted chiefly of protein and fat, and the carbohydrates were kept to a minimum. They also concluded that on a fat and protein diet, low in carbohydrate, the body would derive its nutritional requirements from the food which it was given.

This is a skimming of the research bloodlines behind the low carbohydrate diet. The serious student with time to invest and the desire to know more can find a mountain of relevant material at his nearest library. The serious dieter needs only to start cutting carbohydrates; he will lose weight.

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