For decades Americans have been told to eat a low fat diet to lose weight, and enough of them have made enough of an effort to make a difference in overall fat intake. So how is that working out for us? If low fat leads to weight loss, shouldn’t we be getting thinner and healthier?
But we’re not. We are getting fatter and sicker.
There was recently a discussion about diet in a low carb group I belong to on the site Fat Secret, and I thought I would expand on that here. I wrote:
There has never been any evidence that eating fat is the cause of obesity, nor that eliminating fat will lead to weight loss. Yet “authorities” whose trade is the status quo, many of whom make money off bogus low-fat diet programs and products, have repeated the lies so often that they have become “common sense” to many if not most people who have not done any research.
Among the “authorities” is the government, which has a major stake in the profitability of corporate mega-farms that produce wheat, corn, and soybeans. As they have told us to eat more carbs, less protein, and less fat, people have become fatter and sicker. What is now considered a “moderate” carbohydrate intake would have been considered “extremely high” a generation ago. Many people eat a diet that is 80% or even 90% carbs and wonder why they are not getting healthier. Even going back to the macronutrient ratios of the 50s and 60s without losing weight would result in positive lean body mass gains and fat loss for many people.
When I was in college about 10 years ago I saw a presentation about a study the students in the fitness trainer program had done, comparing fat intake and body composition. People who ate more fat were lighter and leaner. Not by a lot, but the connection between eating fat and being fat simply was not there.
I sometimes hang out on yahoo answers. A vegan woman was trying to “prove” that the vegan diet provides plenty of protein, and gave a link to the website of a vegan bodybuilder who (she said) was very muscular. The guy looked ill compared to any reasonably lean meat eater who even occasionally exercises.
The key is not to add fat to the diet. Rather stop restricting fat intake arbitrarily, eliminate low quality starches and sugars, then eat more of what is left. Vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood, both lean and fatty, full-fat dairy, and occasionally nuts and fresh fruit.
Low-Fat or Whole Food?
And I could also add that a low fat diet will drive me nuts. Someone claiming to be a qualified medical professional just recommended to me on Twitter, not knowing what I eat, how much I weigh, or what my body composition is, that I should reduce fat and carbs and lose weight. That is medical malpractice, diagnosing and prescribing without any supporting information.
The fact is that my body fat is in the target range for my age. I could get leaner. I could lose more weight and build more muscle, and probably will. But it’s also a fact that a low fat diet will literally drive me nuts and make me binge. Whereas being low in protein makes me crave protein, being low in fat makes me want to eat everything.
We often hear it said that binges are a result of emotional issues and emotional eating. I think they are more often a result of macronutrient imbalances than the experts want us to consider.