Twitter RSS

Eating More Fat Could Save Your Life

Published on December 19, 2013,

Daniela Drake, writing in The Daily Beast, asks why US obesity guidance continues to give prominence to calorie restriction and low-fat diets when they may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic. Instead, she asks, might high-fat diets be the answer…

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…This [obesity] is a public health crisis that you might think would give us an all-hands-on-deck attitude. After all, if this were an infectious disease — a big collection of fat worms or something — it’s doubtful we’d keep recommending the same feeble treatment for decades and then blame the victims for not complying. No. We’d be scared. Scared for ourselves and our kids and our country.

We might even be frightened enough to reconsider our entire dietary approach. But the new obesity guidelines don’t address the low-fat/low-carb debate. Instead, they say there’s no good evidence to recommend any particular diet. (They say they reviewed 17 diets.) Yet, last month the Swedish obesity guidelines also came out, and after a review of 16,000 studies the Swedish committee endorsed LCHF diets as the most effective way to combat weight gain.

Our committee must have access to the same research the Swedes reviewed—so why there’s such a discrepancy is anybody’s guess.  But some believe that our committee is under pressure to not reverse 30 years of AHA low-fat doctrine—even if it’s causing an epidemic. Instead, the committee took the almost comical stance of implicating practicing physicians in the obesity crisis. As the co-chair of the committee Donna Ryan, MD, explained, “primary care physicians have not been trained in obesity etiology or pathogenesis much less in its diagnosis and treatment”.

Not only is this statement somewhat laughable—last I checked, most doctors knew how to use scales — but it’s also off mark. Previous guidelines have urged doctors not to spend time on diet and lifestyle recommendations as they’re not terribly fruitful. Nevertheless, ignoring the guidelines, some doctors have found very effective ways to achieve long lasting weight loss using Atkins-type LCHF diets. And at this point good evidence is building up in their corner:  LCHF diets lower blood sugar, insulin and triglycerides and raise good (HDL) cholesterol.

The improvements in cardiac risk factors notwithstanding, many physicians will remain cautious about recommending fatty diets because of the role fats may play in heart disease. After all, the only diets proven to open blocked arteries are no-added-fat vegetarian (Ornish-style) diets. Doctors are simply afraid that all that blubber is going to clog up our patients’ arteries…

But a raft of studies now shows that saturated fat does not increase your likelihood of vascular or heart disease. And after many years, the results from the Women’s Health Initiative showed that women who ate higher levels of saturated fat actually had no increased risk of obesity or heart disease. What’s more, some doctors advocating high fat diets have shown individual reports of reversal of atherosclerosis.

This is not to say that LCHF diets will suit everyone.

Obviously, many people thrive on low fat diets.  But while it’s pretty much universally acknowledged that we’re “supposed” to eat low fat diets, most Americans are overweight or obese. So it seems like low-fat diets are a prescription that most people can’t follow or won’t follow or follow and find that it just doesn’t work.

Why this is the case is a matter of both science and speculation. Some say that while giving lip-service to low-fat diets, we’ve actually increased our fat intake as our cheese and olive oil consumption have skyrocketed. But others say that overeating carbohydrates causes insulin to surge and essentially drives fat storage. This can explain why people who starve themselves can only lose minimal amounts of weight. Anyone who works with dieters—who doesn’t accuse them of lying about their food intake—will tell you that this is exactly what frustrated dieters report…

At this late date, no one could possibly think this is the full story or be naïve enough to think that high-fat diets will be a panacea—and a one-size-fits-all approach might just get us into the kinds of trouble that high-carb diets have. We now know that obesity is complex — involving gut bacteria and cold viruses, hormones and sleep, culture and habit, good calories and bad calories. But it’s vital that physicians have up-to-date information to support patients as they strive to regain their health…

More at:  Eating More Fat Could Save Your Life

“Fat Is The Best Thing For Those Who Want To Lose Weight” says Swedish Professor

Published on October 1, 2013,

Following the recent report from the influential Swedish SBU health committee recommending a low carb diet for weight loss a fascinating article has been written in the Swedish media featuring comments from Professor Fredrik Nyström about his delight that finally low carb, high fat diets are being taken seriously and people’s fear of eating fat is being challenged. This is an extract from a translation by the DietDoctor…

Butter, olive oil, heavy cream and bacon are not harmful foods. Quite the opposite. Fat is the best thing for those who want to lose weight. And there are no connections between a high fat intake and cardiovascular disease.

English: Illustration of obesity and waist cir...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday SBU, the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment, dropped a bombshell. After a two-year long inquiry, reviewing 16,000 studies, the report “Dietary Treatment for Obesity” upends the conventional dietary guidelines for obese or diabetic people.

For a long time, the health care system has given the public advice to avoid fat, saturated fat in particular, and calories. A low-carb diet (LCHF – Low Carb High Fat, is actually a Swedish “invention”) has been dismissed as harmful, a humbug and as being a fad diet lacking any scientific basis.

Instead, the health care system has urged diabetics to eat a lot of fruit (=sugar) and low-fat products with considerable amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners, the latter a dangerous trigger for the sugar-addicted person.

This report turns the current concepts upside down and advocates a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, as the most effective weapon against obesity.

The expert committee consisted of ten physicians, and several of them were skeptics to low-carbohydrate diets at the beginning of the investigation.

One of them, however, who’s been an avid proponent of saturated fat (butter, full fat cream, bacon) since 2006, is Prof. Fredrik Nyström, Linköping, Sweden, and who has at times been scorned and sneered at to the same extent as LCHF’s “mother”, Dr. Annika Dahlqvist.

For Fredrik Nyström the report represents a victory.

- Absolutely. I’ve been working with this for so long. It feels great to have this scientific report, and that the skepticism towards low-carb diets among my colleagues has disappeared during the course of the work. When all recent scientific studies are lined up the result is indisputable: our deep-seated fear of fat is completely unfounded. You don’t get fat from fatty foods, just as you don’t get atherosclerosis from calcium or turn green from green vegetables.

Nyström has long advocated a greatly reduced intake of carbohydrate-rich foods high in sugar and starch, in order to achieve healthy levels of insulin, blood lipids and the good cholesterol. This means doing away with sugar, potatoes, pasta, rice, wheat flour, bread, and embracing olive oil, nuts, butter, full fat cream, oily fish and fattier meat cuts.

- If you eat potatoes you might as well eat candy. Potatoes contain glucose units in a chain, which is converted to sugar in the GI tract. Such a diet causes blood sugar, and then the hormone insulin, to skyrocket.

Moreover, this summer another study on the Mediterranean diet, rich in unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts), was published, and was part of the basis for the SBU report.

- It showed that it does more harm to eat a low-fat diet than a high-fat diet. The study also advised drinking wine with the Mediterranean diet. I have long emphasized that a moderate intake of alcohol is beneficial to health and have myself done a study that confirmed a better blood lipid profile from red wine consumption. Thus, alcohol in moderation is not just OK, it’s beneficial.

There are many mantras we have been taught to accept as truths:

“Calories are calories, no matter where they come from.”

“It’s all about the balance between calories in and calories out.”

“People are fat because the don’t move enough.”

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

- Of course these are not true. This kind of nonsense has people with weight problems feeling bad about themselves. As if it were all about their inferior character. For many people a greater intake of fat means that you’ll feel satiated, stay so longer, and have less of a need to eat every five minutes. On the other hand, you won’t feel satiated after drinking a Coke, or after eating almost fat free, low-fat fruit yogurt loaded with sugar. Sure, exercise is great in many ways, but what really affects weight is diet.

The report states: “physical activity for obese people has a, if anything, marginal effect on weight loss.”…

Read the full translated article at: “Fat Trims Your Waistline”

See also: Expert Committee in Sweden Says Low Carb Diet Most Effective For Weight Loss

Is the LCHF Diet a Threat to Public Health?

Published on August 13, 2013,

Low carb high fat diets (LCHF) have gained considerable popularity in Sweden in recent years but that does not mean they are accepted by the authorities and the media. The Diet Doctor has a post on a media frenzy after claims in a newspaper the diet may be unhealthy…

English Breakfast

It all started with an opinion piece by a few senior fat-fearing professors, in Sweden’s biggest newspaper, called “The popular fat diets are a threat to public health” (link to Google translation).

This exploded into massive headlines in every paper and became the main piece of news on TV (I was on a morning show briefly to discuss it).

The most bizarre thing is that the opinion piece suggests that there’s been an increase in risk of heart disease & stroke in Sweden – and they blame the popularity of LCHF. However, the risk of heart disease and stroke in Sweden is on the contrary going down, faster and faster, according to the latest statistics.

It’s absolutely bizarre how little evidence is needed to trash low-carb diets. What the professors were referring to was a subgroup of people: young women with a very short education. The risk of heart disease for this group has indeed increased – since 1995!

In other words, the increase in butter sales in the 2010s are being blamed for an increase in heart disease risk in the 1990s! I know there are some misconceptions about the dangers of butter, but really, do they now believe that butter can travel through time?

More (including charts) at: Is the LCHF Diet a Threat to Public Health?

© Low Carb Diet News