A good synapses of how we were duped into getting fat

Here’s a great post from Matt Ridley on the conventional, but wrong, wisdom of low-fat diets. He writes:

There is a strong possibility that the “diabesity” epidemic has been caused largely by the diet police themselves.

The chief source of the anti-saturated-fat message was a politically astute scientist named Ancel Keys. In 1961 he persuaded the American Heart Association to issue guidelines on saturated fat intake. The main evidence came from his study of heart disease in six countries in Europe plus Japan, from which he concluded that low-fat diets led to less heart disease.

…the fat effect was weak: an order of magnitude less than the effect of cigarettes on cancer, for example.

Ridley’s writing here is based on the work of Nina Tiecholz, which I wrote about here and appears to be nearly identical to the work that Gary Taubes did in his books, who I’ve written about before, as well.

This from Ridley’s post is also interesting:

In the past ten years, study after rigorous study has found that animal fat per se is not harmful, does not cause obesity, does not raise the kinds of cholesterol that predict heart attacks, does not increase death rate and is healthier than carbohydrates. For instance, one two-year trial in Israel found that a fat-and-meat “Atkins” diet lowered weight more than either a low-fat or a Mediterranean diet. As Teicholz puts it in her book: “Every plank in the case against saturated fat has, upon rigorous examination, crumbled away.”

Such findings remain too heretical for most diet experts. Those who make them struggle for years to get published and have to couch their findings in cautious language. Those such as Teicholz and Gary Taubes who write books pointing out that this fat emperor had no clothes are treated as pariahs. If anything, the official committees of the diet police are doubling down, demanding that we eat ever less saturated fat.

If you are at all interested in losing weight, Gary Taubes’ books are worth a read.

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“Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public”

William Banting wrote a 16-page diet book in 1863 with this name.  I love that name.

It appears he had it all figured out then.  His advice turned out to be the same advice that a) helped me lose weight and keep it off (going 11 years now) and b) recently helped me improve my cholesterol levels.

His advice:  Eat less sugars and starch, eat more proteins and fat.  Why?  Because too much sugar and starch throws off your hormones and tells your body to store fat.  Proteins and fat don’t.  In fact, too much sugar and starch will lead to diabetes.  Hello, diabetes epidemic coming after several decades of sugar and starch consumption!

I’m reading Gary Taubes longer than 16-page book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.  If you don’t have time to read the whole book, read the Prologue.  In it, Taubes gives great highlights on the evolution in the diet world since Banting’s book.

In the rest of his book, Taubes exhaustively reviews the “scientific” literature on diets to show that much of the conventional diet wisdom (e.g. government guidelines, the calorie balance equation, eating a low-fat diet) actually has no scientific basis.  Shocking.

But, for your own health, here’s the summary:  Follow Banting’s advice.

When I lost weight, I attributed my success to a lot things because I changed a lot of things.  I balanced my calories.  I ate more often.  I watched my portions.  I reduced mindless eating.  And, I increased my intake of fat and protein and decreased my intake of sugars and starches.

In his other book, Why We Get Fat, Taubes said that people with weight loss success like mine tend to confound all the reasons, but there’s really just one, the last one.

It’s worth experimenting.  Cut back on sugars, breads and starches in your diet, eat a little more fat and protein and watch your scale.