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WBB: The fatal folly of low-fat diets

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Posted: 8/17/2015 12:00:00 PM

Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2015-08-17
on the Wheat Belly Blog, sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index of WB Blog articles.

The fatal folly of low-fat diets

obese man with poster pondering effectiveness of low fat diet

Look for dietary advice from the likes of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or just any other “official” source of dietary advice, and you will see a striking uniformity in the details: reduce dietary cholesterol; reduced total and saturated fat intake; increase grain consumption, preferably whole grains; sugar and soft drinks in moderation, don’t sweat the fructose.

It is now clear that such advice was based on a handful of flawed studies, flawed interpretations of studies, combined with the efforts of several people who exercised personal agendas that allowed such advice to be codified and delivered through vehicles such as the USDA My Pyramid and My Plate. The last 30 years have borne out that such advice was not just ineffective, but wrong. Here is one such recent analysis, for instance, debunking the notion that reducing saturated fat reduces cardiovascular risk: it does not. (For excellent lay summaries of the history of blundering, demagoguery, and heavy muscle used to push through the low-fat agenda, see Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories, or Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise. While the drama is entertaining reading, you will be shocked at how shallow the science was from the start, despite the firm convictions of an influential few.)

Despite these recent re-analyses, all such agencies continue to promote the idea that cutting total fat and saturated fat is necessary and beneficial for cardiovascular and overall health, even though diets, such as the American Diabetes Association diet, or the American Heart Association diet, have never been examined in a long-term clinical trial.

carton of Smart Balance low fat milk

And we continue to see ignorance exercised in clinical studies, such as this recent study of low-fat vs. low-carb combined with calorie restriction for 5 days that caused many in the media to declare that either low-fat was superior for weight loss or that calories are the one real variable that count. They chose to ignore:

  • The overwhelming bulk of clinical data demonstrating that reduced carbohydrate consumption is superior for long-term weight loss and metabolic correction (reduction of blood sugar, insulin, HbA1c, small LDL particles, triglycerides, c-reactive protein, postprandial lipoprotein metabolism)
  • Short-term effects represent a “honeymoon” effect that cannot be extrapolated to predict long-term effects
  • Calorie restriction, as used in this study, blurs the differences in macronutrient (low-fat, low-carb) intake–you cannot make any conclusions about differential weight loss effects, a blunder that plagues a number of such low-fat vs. low-carb studies.

It is also clear that such low-fat advice does not only NOT help reduce cardiovascular risk, but CAUSES metabolic distortions that INCREASE cardiovascular risk, since low-fat diets cause people to develop:

  • Lower HDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides, increased small LDL particles that persist for 7 days, rather than the 24 hours of large LDL particles
  • Exaggerated postprandial (after-meal) lipoproteins–such as chylomicrons and VLDL particles. This is a complex topic, but remember it by understanding that much coronary heart disease is caused during the after-eating period when such digestive byproducts flood the bloodstream, not while fasting.
  • Cause insulin resistance–due to repetitive high blood sugars of a low-fat, higher-carbohydrate diet.
  • Higher fasting glucose, higher after-meal glucose, higher HbA1c–the last parameter–higher HbA1c–is now widely recognized as a powerful predictor of cardiovascular events and death.
  • Greater inflammation–We see this every day in the Wheat Belly experience when body-wide inflammation recedes with the low-carb, grain-free approach.
  • Increase visceral fat and fatty liver–both of which magnify insulin resistance.

The low-fat era is slowly and quietly drawing to a close, despite nonsense studies like the 5-day study above and the appearance of a consensus among all such agencies. How do they retract advice that was so awfully, unscientifically, and tragically wrong? How do they retract such advice without incurring huge financial liability for the millions of people who developed type 2 diabetes, heart disease and heart attack, obesity, arthritis, cancer, dementia, and premature death from their advice? How do you maintain credibility and thereby continue to receive donations from the public, from Big Food, and Big Pharma? You can begin to appreciate their dilemma, one that we will like never hear any apologies about.

Just don’t you fall for this enormous, systematic blunder. Instead, enjoy astounding health, youthfulness, flexibility, weight loss, and metabolic health because you now understand that diet—when managed properly—can be amazingly effective.

D.D. Infinite Health icon

Tags: LFD