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Low Carbs, High Fat, No Problem

Maybe Dr. Atkins was right: a big new study says a low-carb—high fat, high protein diet—is better for us. We’ll look at what that means.

The `country breakfast' plate at the Stamford, Conn., City Limits Diner consists of eggs, house-made hash brown potatoes, sausage, bacon and ham, plus multi-grain toast from bread baked on the premises, as photographed Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2004. (AP)

The `country breakfast’ plate at the Stamford, Conn., City Limits Diner consists of eggs, house-made hash brown potatoes, sausage, bacon and ham, plus multi-grain toast from bread baked on the premises, as photographed Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2004. (AP)

Latest headlines in the unending stream of advice from science on your diet:  ditch the carbs, grab the fats and protein.  Years ago, fat was the taboo.  People fled to carbohydrates.  And boom went the obesity.  A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine now reports that people who avoid carbs and eat more fat and protein end up with better heart health and lower cardiovascular risk.  Even when it’s saturated fat.  If that makes you want to grab a juicy rib-eye steak, it’s not that simple.  But refined carbohydrates are getting the boot again. This hour On Point:  protein and fat versus carbs, again.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dr. Lydia Bazzano, internist and cardio-vascular researcher. Professor of epidemiology and medicine at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. (@DrDavidKatz)

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Michael Moss, investigative reporter at the New York Times. Author of “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” (@MossMichaelC)

From Tom’s Reading List

Annals of Internal Medicine: Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat DietsA Randomized Trial — “Low-carbohydrate diets are popular for weight loss, but their cardiovascular effects have not been well-studied, particularly in diverse populations. A low-carbohydrate diet [can be] more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than a low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.”

New York Times: A Call for a Low-Carb Diet That Embraces Fat – “Diets low in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein have been commonly used for weight loss since Dr. Robert Atkins popularized the approach in the 1970s. Among the longstanding criticisms is that these diets cause people to lose weight in the form of water instead of body fat, and thatcholesterol and other heart disease risk factors climb because dieters invariably raise their intake of saturated fat by eating more meat and dairy.”

USA Today: Low-carb diets: Studies differ on whether they are best — “Low fat or low carb, Atkins or Ornish, Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers – which diet is best for weight loss? Two new studies offer ammunition for those who say the popular low-carb approach is superior and for those who say all diets are pretty much the same.”

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  • pointless

    Just a word of caution to those planning to increase their protein intake. Red meat contains the amino acid L-carnitine. Dietary consumption of carnitine has been shown to promote atherosclerosis. This is more than correlation, as the specific mechanism has been identified and verified.

    The choline found in egg yolk has also been shown to pose cardiovascular risks via the same mechanism.

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    Until the next “big new study” refutes these findings… LOL!

    • Jasoturner

      Ever notice how real science like physics or chemistry converge to consensus over time, whereas nutrition “science” never does? Tells you quite a bit about the rigor – or lack thereof – of the field, which is why we get these whipsaw recommendations that periodically change radically. Given the public health stakes, maybe it’s time to bring in real scientists who can develop the empirical evidence needed to shape a reasonable nutritional approach.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        and treating Economics like science has been just as disastrous. More faith in technocratic elite who are just fallible humans like the rest of us peons.

        Empirical data is #1.

        Theoretical experimentations to stroke academic itches (current, like historically, Central Planning models) always end badly.

        The gestalt of free people via liberty and rule of law, not the decrees of unaccountable bureaucrats and technocrats has empirically been the best, not perfect, but best course for human progress.

        • Jasoturner

          I agree with you about economics. Just because you can throw some mathematical formulas at theories does not make it science. Unless it has real predictive value, of course.

      • kaybee63

        I think the problem with both the science of nutrition and economics is the huge part played by human beings – not really the case in physics and chemistry.

      • Godzilla the Intellectual

        Science is still in the dark ages. Physics has only shown how little humanity really understands about the universe.

      • Don_B1

        The difference is largely in the ability to run experiments where all the factors can be varied. In physics or chemistry (which is physics on a atomic/molecular interaction level), each factor can be varied without having to take the consequences of that variation into account. There are no “ethical” problems, at least in the same way as running a test where a human might be deprived of various nutritional ingredients, so many studies are done based on what the subjects reported that they ate, which is subject to a number of sources of error.

        The study of the residents of a retirement community of Laguna Woods (Leisure World before it became its own city) CA reported on by 60 Minutes:

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-to-90-and-beyond-60-minutes/

        with criticism (positive and negative) here:

        http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2014-05/what-60-minutes-got-right-and-didnt-about-aging

        Clearly medical science is just beginning to develop the tools needed to thoroughly study human metabolism and its ramifications.

  • Jasoturner

    When you really think about it, it is amazing that after something like four decades of research, there is no solid causal link between low fat dieting and moderated weights and/or improved heart health. If you spend four decades researching an hypothesis and the results are still ambiguous, you probably don’t have a winning theory.

    Gary Taubes does a good job at describing how the fix has been in on nutritional research for quite a while. I find it not at all surprising that we may have been misinformed about the role of fats and sugars (carbohydrates) in our diets, and that our current epidemics of obesity and type II diabetes may be the consequence of erroneous nutritional advice from the academy and from our government.

    Almost guaranteed, someone will decide not discuss this research on the merits, but rather will vacuously argue for a “balanced” diet, as if anything we can stick in our mouths in benign in moderation. This is an article of faith, not a demonstrable fact. So please retire this old canard – an absolute favorite of nutritionists who studied their specialty without ever questioning the eating rules they were taught. Balance is hand waving, not prudent advice.

    Lastly, public health claims can be very deceiving. One often hears arguments such as: eating meat increases your chance of developing colon cancer by 35% (made up %, just used as an example) when in reality it means that your chances of developing colon cancer increase from 1% over 10 years to 1.35% over ten years. In other words, the odds are still about 1 in 100 over ten years no matter what you do. This is not a reason for dietary panic. Sometimes percentages matter, but sometimes you have to look at the raw numbers to understand whether the real-world magnitude is relevant.

    I have to admit, I used to roll my eyes when my girlfriend used to chide me for refusing to give up butter, cream and meat back in the the 80s because she took a “nutrition class” – the low fat, synthetic stuff made no sense to me then, and it makes no sense to me now, but boy she was certain that the University of Wisconsin knew best. Well, maybe not. I am most curious to see if this new research is reinforced by future unbiased research.

    • John Cedar

      Yours is a brilliant summery of the situation. But one thing I look at a little differently, is that a balanced diet does not require blind faith.

      We know that our bodies need to take in a variety of chemicals to be healthy and we know we cannot readily get those chemicals from one single food. Therefore, we know we need to take in a variety of food. We just don’t know exactly what those varieties should be and how they should be balanced.

      We know that most nutrition science has little to do with science. There seems to be a drastic overemphasis by healthcare, government and conventional wisdom, as to what role the specific foods we eat, influence our health.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        We should eat what our bodies and metabolisms evolved to eat. Or, if you are more noble, be the guinea pig for continued evolution, which of course over millennia could change in response to natural selection.

        • John Cedar

          “We should eat what our bodies and metabolisms evolved to eat.”

          I wasn’t there, so don’t know what that is? Bugs? Anything they could find and chew up enough to swallow?

        • nj_v2

          Yes, everyone should go out with a spear or bow and arrow and hunt for game animals and forage for root, tubers, and berries.

      • Jasoturner

        I agree with you that we need a balance of foods. What drives me crazy is nutritionists who hear of a study like this but then contend we need our rice and grains to stay balanced despite the evidence. Where’s the evidence behind their contention?

      • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

        There is no one size fits all solution to nutrition. We all have different tolerances, sometimes effected by the diet we have consumed in the previous decades. Your own body is the best source of information as to how you will best perform.
        For me personally, moderation is no longer a viable option. My metabolism/insulin sensitivity is shot. I need to follow a rigid/extreme diet to feel and perform my best. But it has only been through a slow and careful evaluation that I have come to understand the way of eating that best works for me.
        But, for nearly anyone, eating less processed foods, and buying the best quality food you can afford (organic, pasture raised, local, etc.) will make a big difference. I’d rather spend the money on what I eat than at the doctor’s office.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    But what will all the food pyramid bureaucrats and grain subsidizers do?

    What? The well intentioned McGovern report from on high was wrong and led us astray for 30+ years? With Media and Research Funding in lock step, looking for results? (Time magazine fried egg cover, etc.)

    Big Government and it sycophants working against us, not out of conspiracy, but out of ineptitude and scale?

    Say it isn’t so…..

  • Acnestes

    I wonder how much the results of these so many of these studies being at odds has to do with insufficient knowledge and account being taken of genetics at the individual level. I know, if you use a big enough sample it shouldn’t matter, but still, there is enormous variation in what individuals cane either cope with or are susceptible to.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    From the intro of a recent On Point:

    History News Network: Humanity’s Ecological History in the Grocery Aisle – “In just two hundred thousand years, a blink compared to the 4.5 billion year history of our planet, we have become the only species whose members live mostly in cities and subsist from food produced by a minority. How humans became a world-dominating species that produces enough surplus food to support so many people in cities raises questions that cannot be answered by archaeologists, anthropologists or ecologists alone.”

    The answer- Grains (carbs).

    People raised like cattle.

    Not really such a great thing, is it.

    The reality as that the low carb, higher fat, higher protein more evolutionary diet will be hard to provide for at todays population levels.

    I think people realized that over 30 years ago, but governments prefer cattle to informed, healthy, vigorous, self-governing people.

    Moo.

    Animal Farm or perhaps 1984…..

    http://reason.com/archives/2014/09/04/an-unhappy-summer-for-liberty

  • arydberg

    Obesity, diabetes, childhood cancer, Alzheimer’s, kids with diabetes, autism . etc etc. it seems that we are really in the middle of a health disaster. I think the government and it’s singular deviation to science and science derived chemicals that they put in all the foods is killing us.

    HFCS, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors artificial flavorous and now Genetically Modified foods. followed by a policy of not telling us what we are eating. There is more, a paper from Harvard states the folic acid they force on us is responsible for 14,000 cases of cancer annually.

    see:

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/the-ups-and-downs-of-folic-acid-fortification.htm

    Simply put the government is poisoning us.

    • TyroneJ

      I hate to tell you this, but…

      Because plants don’t have the option of running away from things that want to eat them, or from locations where disease is prevalent, they have evolved to be chemical factories. Except for the flavors of “sweet” (sugars and adjuncts), and the non-flavors from the lignin & cellulose, every flavor in the plants you eat is from chemicals the plant fabricated to act as an insecticide, herbicide, herbivore toxin, anti-fungal, antiviral or antibacterial.

      Just because something is natural or artificial does not mean anything. Ricin comes naturally from castor yet is highly toxic to mammals & crude oil came from organically grown algae grown millions of years ago.

      “Smallpox is natural; vaccine ain’t.” – Ogden Nash

      • arydberg

        Good luck!

    • nj_v2

      Simply put, you have reading comprehension problems.

      What you said:

      [[ a paper from Harvard states the folic acid they force on us is responsible for 14,000 cases of cancer annually.]]

      What the article says:

      [[ However, about the time that fortification was mandated, there was also an uptick in colorectal cancer. Researchers at Tufts University, working with large population-based cancer registries, studied trends in colorectal cancer from 1986 to 2002 in the United States and Canada. The results, published in the July 2007 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, showed a 15-year decline that was suddenly reversed in the early fortification years, when average blood levels of folate doubled. As a result, an extra four to six cases of colorectal cancer per 100,000 people per year — a total of 16,500 extra cases — were estimated to have occurred.

      Although the chronological link between increased colorectal cancer cases and higher blood levels of folate isn’t proof of cause and effect, the Tufts researchers think there are biological reasons why extra folic acid may be to blame. Folic acid and folate play complex roles in the body. There’s compelling evidence that high dietary intake of folate may protect healthy cells against colorectal and other cancers. But there’s equally strong laboratory and clinical evidence that — under certain circumstances — folic acid can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.]]

      • arydberg

        Maybe that is because folic acid is a chemical. it must be processed by the liver into folate. No problem for young people but as people age the liver becomes less and less efficient. The people questioning folic acid question it’s use by the elderly. Meanwhile our society loves to add folic acid to vitamins. Go figure.

        ps All this is especially bad when the real vitamin, folate is available in both foods and pills.

        Again our government is poisoning us.

  • TyroneJ

    I’ve always been ably to drop 10 pounds in a couple of weeks by doing Atkins. I’ve always found you can fast start it by fasting for the first 24 hours. Aside from it working (at least for males), you are not hungry.

  • John Cedar

    When I was a kid in the 70′s, my mom and her yoga friends used to participate in the “Air Force Diet”, which was basically a low carb, all the protein you could eat, diet. So I never understood why Atkins got all the attention 20 years later. They used to eat diet Candy called Ayds too. They didn’t last long after they named a disease after them.

    • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

      Atkins is misunderstood to be a low carb, high protein diet. It is not. It is low carb, moderate protein, and high fat. And the fats are from meat, dairy, butter, olive oil, avocado, coconut, nuts, etc. Avoiding vegetable oils which have been found to disrupt our balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6, and trigger inflammation in the body….which is the underlying trigger for cardiovascular problems, diabetes and dementia. In addition, many of these fats are unstable at high temperatures, and should not be used in cooking at higher temperatures.

  • nj_v2

    Having paid no small amount of attention to nutrition over the years, i’ve found that the most consistent, sensible recommendations for a “good” diet, from a wide range of sources not funded by special/food interests include:

    High nutrients, low calories. One constant across thousands of studies is that calorie-restricted diets that provide necessary nutrients lead to longer life expectancy and better health outcomes.

    Maximize phyto (plant) nutrients, which are especially dense in brightly colored berries and leafy green vegetables. Also, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and certain spices (tumeric, cinnamon, sage, ginger, etc.) have compounds that lower cholesterol, guard against cancer, and have other, significant, documented health benefits. Mom was right, eat your vegetables!

    If you eat meat, eat minimal, lean meat in small amounts. Avoid red meat.

    Minimize or eliminate trans and saturated fats (low-density lipoproteins), have small to moderate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats (high-dnsity lipoproteins).

    Indigenous peoples with long life expectancies regularly ate fermented or cultured foods regularly—sauerkraut, yogurt, pickled vegetables, tempeh, etc.

    Eliminate or minimize processed sugar and refined carbohydrates.

    Eat some raw food every day (like a big salad). Cooking destroys enzymes and certain vitamins.

    Stay well hydrated.

    Jury seems to be out on supplements/vitamins. I see them recommended by people whose opinion i respect. Even “fresh” food from the industrial agriculture system is grown on depleted soil and lacks essential micronutrients and vitamins. Taking a multi-vitamin and perhaps a few other supplements (in moderation) can’t hurt. Vitamin D, for example (See the book, The Vitamin D Solution). At worse, you have slightly expensive pee.

    Moderate alcohol consumption (less than two ounces alcohol per day) appears to increase life expectancy.

    Exercise moderately and regularly. Do work that means something to you. Stay socially engaged. Sleep until you naturally wake up. Take your clothes off in the sun once in a while.

    Everything else is mostly just noise.

    • John Cedar
      • nj_v2

        It’s one study out of many. The calorie restriction was comparatively severe. And these were monkeys, not people. Eating fewer calories is generally a good thing.

      • manganbr

        Did you miss that this said the monkeys were healthier though? Why is extending life the only objective? Wouldn’t you rather live the last few decades of your life healthy and not having to check your blood sugar levels everyday? A healthier life is essentially longer, because you don’t expend as much of your time managing your bad health. You have more time to actually live.

    • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

      No need to avoid meat. Just focus on quality. Pasture raised, grass fed, ideally local is always a better option, and loaded with great nutritional benefits and immunological boosts. Know what you are eating. Not all meat is the same.

  • skelly74

    Nobody really knows everything. People just make money selling hypotheses that show cause and effect regardless of side effect.

    I tend to sprinkle a grain of salt on everything I consume, even if “salt” is considered taboo today.

    • kaybee63

      Most of the excess salt we consume is not via the salt shaker, but in the processing of food. A can of Campbells chicken noodle soup for instance, has a huge amount of sodium in it.

      • skelly74

        Yes. I agree. I’m actually referring to the skepticism of listening to all the eggheads that proliferate the information market.

  • kaybee63

    I think it’s funny that the country breakfast pictured has toast and potatoes in it besides the obvious elements of ham and eggs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t those carbohydrates?

    • 1Brett1

      Yeah, and considering white potatoes and bread made from processed flour/ingredients (that aren’t 100% whole grains) being poor carbohydrates, nutritionally, not to mention how poor, nutritionally, processed, cured meats such as ham are, and the kind of saturated fat found in ham, sausage and bacon, these make for bad choices. I love all of these things, but one should only indulge in these foods very sparingly.

      I haven’t heard the show, but I hope they are making a distinction between good and bad carbohydrates, at least.

  • jkwalker111

    According to the Director at the Yale Prevention Research Center, the study was bogus to begin with:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/post_8304_b_5752160.html

  • manganbr

    How does this finding square with the diets of people living in blue zones, who I believe mainly eat something like the “mediterranean diet” involving lots of fish, vegetables, olive oil, some meat, but not an outright avoidance of carbs, though certainly less white bread carbs and sugars? And what about all those boules and baguettes they eat in France? Why isn’t there more of a correlation between cultures where breads are an everyday staple and obesity/diabetes?

    (and why IS there a correlation between cultures that eat higher amounts of meat, and bad health issues?)

    Isn’t it a boring reality that everyone just needs to eat a varied diet, not too much of any one thing, but exposure to a range of nutrients, etc? And of course exercise regular. There’s never going to be a magic bullet to avoid having to exercise, shop thoughtfully, and cook for yourself.

  • Markus6

    I think over the last 40 years or more the good studies have consistently shown what the title states. The problem is there have been so many bad studies and for reasons I’d like to know, they got the visibility and support. I’d love to know how that happened.

    I suspect it’s like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice idea (grossly summarized as 10K hours to master something, natural talent is largely unimportant). One small study (violinists, I think), was used by a stylish journalist who knew how to hype things and how to find anecdotes that supported his position. Now it’s been debunked, but why was it taken so seriously?

    So, how did experts get food so wrong? Or were experts not really involved and we got taken by stylish advocates?

    Oh and I also see the role of food makers in all this. But from what little I know by reading Gary Taubes and a few others, industry wasn’t the primary driver of this.

    • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

      No, the industry jumped on the bandwagon, but politics was the driver. As Taubes explains in his books, it was the Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition led by George McGovern that responded to the bad science presented by Ancel Keyes. He had just started the Pritikin Diet and was all over the information being presented by Keyes….even though other scientists were recommending more study before moving forward and setting policy. The personal agenda of Keyes and McGovern drove political policy which fed into agricultural policy and food company strategy.
      My personal data has shown dramatic shifts (improvements) in cardiovascular markers and blood sugar after making the change several years ago. In addition, it is an easier diet to maintain over the long term as long as you can get over any reliance on processed foods. Hunger is appropriate, energy is more sustained. Life is definitely better this way.
      Just pissed that I spent years trying to follow guidelines that made me sicker, and struggle with my weight more than I needed to. Too bad we had to go so long before people began to dig into the science, and really understand what was going on.

    • Jill122

      You don’t recall that Catsup is a vegetable? When Big Food is involved you don’t see the footprint. J Street spent millions before most Americans even knew they existed.

      Millions spent by Big Food to keep GMO labeling from your food.

      Millions spent to divorce food stamps from Ag Bill.

      Of course Big Food is the driver. Of course all those family farms that went down the river in the 70s and 80s had everything to do with Big Food.

      The switch TO corn sugar from cane sugar is huge! Did “the people” do that too?

  • Unterthurn

    not all carbs are the same

    • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

      You are right. Those from non-starchy vegetables are rock star carbs. Hard to overdo them.

  • Drew Carlin

    In nearly every discussion of the impact of refined carbohydrates on health, one disease is left off the list: dental caries. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in American children. It is five times more prevalent than asthma. A third of preschoolers have cavities, and 50% of children have tooth decay by the age of 11. The biggest factor is frequent consumption of processed foods containing refined carbohydrates. As a pediatric dentist, I spend 90% of my time fixing little mouths ravaged by poor eating habits and a food industry dominated by sugar in its various forms.

  • DJJS

    20 years ago, I heard Dr. Adkins tell an audience in NYC that he felt someday sugar would be implicated as the main culprit in heart disease, NOT cholesterol. Also, the Weston A. Price Foundation in D.C. (see link) has been assuring people for about 15 years that saturated fat is plenty safe and that a whole food, traditionally based diet is wise. http://www.westonaprice.org/

  • Peter

    I hope you touch on the role of gut microbiome diversity in metabolism and diet. For example, digestion of meat by bacteria could result in increased atherosclerosis (http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v19/n5/full/nm.3145.html). One could expect that individuals in this study could have differing gut microbiome composition, and the diet that better suits ideal bacterial and intestinal metabolism results in weight loss. Furthermore, the composition of the diet subgroups (types of carbs, proteins, fats) can change the resulting products of bacterial metabolism.

  • MarkVII88

    About 15 years ago I vigorously followed the Atkins diet and, with much exercise and effort, managed to lose about 110 lbs. I was able to maintain that weight loss for about 5-6 years. It was very difficult to stick with the diet once I wasn’t in college or living alone and, after getting married and having a couple children I put all that weight back on. In 2013, I started using the MyFitnessPal food diary and exercise journal at the recommendation of my doctor. Instead of a dedicated high protein, low carb diet, I ate a balanced diet, focusing more on portion size and overall calorie intake, and exercised regularly. It took a whole year but I was able to lose about 90 lbs. I find it’s much easier to moderate a balanced diet rather than a high-protein diet to maintain a healthier weight going forward.

  • disqus_yEGntbySOZ

    My siblings and I (all in our 20s) are all paleo. Not for weight but for health. Did they do research besides cardio? We are more interested in brain health and how grain is not good for it.

    • ELKennelly

      See Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for brain health questions; this is one of their specialties.
      http://www.pcrm.org

  • Bigtruck

    How is it possible that man has existed on this earth for so many years and we still do not know how to eat.

    • nj_v2

      Not that surprising. We still don’t know how to not pollute the environment, how to live without wars, how to keep teenagers from liking bad pop music.

  • jefe68

    A Little Priest meat pie…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUuT9qlKhZ0

  • hellokitty0580

    Frankly, I’m so tired of this conversation. We just keep running in circles with new diets that we should be on. It’s pretty simple: keep your saturated fats intake low, eat lean protein but in moderation, don’t eat refined carbohydrates, don’t consume tons of sugar, and avoid preservatives! Dark leafy greens, fruits, good oils, lean protein, nuts, complex carbohydrates and little treats along the way! It’s not that complicated! It’s all about balance and moderation.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      except there is no data against Sat Fat either, just more emotion and gut feeling.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Thank you McGovern Report! Thank you Time magazine (fried egg cover)! And thank you mindless, emotional, fact-free do gooders who are or empower bureaucrats for enforcing/encouraging the nonsense for so long!

  • soundfriend

    How long before this too is swept under the rug?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Question:

    This seems to mostly be about the macronutrient ratios. Would your guest agree that we cannot draw significant conclusions from the details (peanuts, corn oil, no chicken skin, etc).

  • malkneil

    Every decade has a new silver bullet for how to eat. Eggs were bad, then they were “incredible edible eggs”. Meat was bad and now carbs are the devil. Man has been eating bread, rice and carbs for thousands of years. Was that just some big mistake? On a different note, it seems our society is increasingly more sedentary. Even looking back a few generations there was more manual, industrial/agrarian based labor that kept us moving instead of being pinned behind a keyboard.

    • TELew

      I think you hit the nail on the head–the sedentary lifestyle.

      That, coupled with the fact that we have greater quantities of food everywhere, are what I think are responsible for the obesity “epidemic.”

      Everyday, every meal, a person can literally feast three or more times a day. And because our labor consists more and more of sitting in front of a computer screen at a desk, the extra calories are not burned off.

  • GWelch

    Not too long ago I heard a person interviewed who reviewed and wrote on advances in food nutrition studies. To paraphrase, she said that every time a new study came out she wanted to smack the author because she knew that it would be contradicted in a few years.

  • http://Maynard.Clark.Googlepages.com Maynard S. Clark
  • Government_Banking_Serf

    We already did the Sat Fat show. This study avoided Sat fats, there are really no conclusive data for the guests to tell us to avoid sat fats.

    Without data, this is perpetuating the back and forth.

    Low Carb, high Natural Fats. Sat fats and natural, evolutionarily. Corn oil is not.

    Also keep in mind some of the longest living people on earth eat mostly sweet potatoes. Katavans. So still tricky.

    Healthy sweet potato eating Katavans, and Healthy blubber eating arctic peoples.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Exactly- the full fat yogurt thing.

  • ELKennelly

    “Lean” animal protein such as chicken and fish is still very high in saturated fat. If saturated animal fat is gasoline on the fire of chronic disease, chicken/fish might be 89 octane versus the 93 of bacon, but it’s still gasoline.
    Dr Kim Williams, new president of the American College of Cardiology, recently wrote that he ate only those animal foods, yet still had dangerously high blood cholesterol. His bloodwork resolved completely when he dropped the birds and fish, and went whole-food plant-based.

    • GWelch

      ” His bloodwork resolved completely when he dropped the birds and fish, and went whole-food plant-based.”

      I wonder if this isn’t the problem – the way we look at one particular diet as effective for one person and assume that it must be effective for everyone. Some people (myself included) can eat those foods all the time with no effect on cholesterol levels.

      I’ve often wondered whether there should be studies to classify peoples bodies and metabolisms into different categories, and then tailor diets to their body types.

      • ELKennelly

        Doctors such as Fuhrman recognize that one can probably get away with as much as 10% of calories from animal foods. You may be someone who can add more without apparent ill effect to your own personal health (as for the chicken’s health, and that of fish and our oceans, that’s a separate and significant question).

        And while individuals do vary indeed, most are like Dr Williams, and not able to maintain healthy bloodwork, including a total cholesterol below 150, while including animal-based foods. As other authorities on the matter such as Walter WIllett and T Colin Campbell note, the closer to zero the better, when it comes to eating animal foods.

    • TELew

      Perhaps his problems with cholesterol stem from a genetic predisposition. A lot of people, including this writer, who eat a fair amount of meat, including red meat, don’t have a problem of high cholesterol.

    • kaybee63

      And if we’re talking anecdotally, I have a slim, extremely athletic, near vegetarian friend who still has very high cholesterol levels – apparently just her genetic destiny. Will it translate to heart disease? Who knows? It’s not what her parents died of though.

      • ELKennelly

        I meant not to write anecdotally but simply to provide a recent prominent example of a top cardiologist who — like an increasing number in his profession — recognizes the value in a whole-food plant-based diet.
        I also only mentioned blood cholesterol level as it’s an easy biomarker for people to understand. It’s of course just one among many, and there are many other indicators of health, or ill health.

        And I know people like your friend, and vegetarians who’ve died of heart attacks. Dairy and eggs are bad news. I myself am an ex-vegetarian (total chol 236) turned whole-food vegan 3 yrs ago after a bad breast cancer diagnosis and then seeing “Forks Over Knives.” Am thriving, with great numbers on all counts.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Avoid refined carbs and sugar. Thats it. Eat plants and animals as we evolved to. Enjoy life.

    • nj_v2

      Physiologically, we’re not designed as carnivores.

      No sharp, tearing teeth. Very long digestive tract (meat putrifies before it has a chance to exit). Digestive juices not particularly acid compared to true carnivores.

      • TELew

        So just what are our incisors (front teeth) and canine teeth designed for?

        Recent studies of chimpanzees, our closest relatives, show that they consume a good quantity of meat in their diet. There is also evidence that the consumption of animal products, especially fatty bone marrow, were responsible for the growth of our brain capacity.

        No, we are not carnivores. But we are very good opportunistic omnivores.

      • Cassie

        Bogus arguments, friend. Humans digest meat just as well as any other food; meat does not “putrify” in the digestive tract, but its undigested bits are excreted along with vegetable matter. Our teeth are perfectly well suited to eating meat. I’m not a big meat eater, myself, but, personally, eating raw vegetables causes me many more digestive problems than does cooked meat.

  • ELKennelly

    The ONLY diet which is proven to halt and reverse chronic disease is whole-food plant-based one (WFPB), and — as argued by Dr Michael Greger — should be the default diet until proven otherwise.
    The science is clear, and Kaiser Permanente officially endorsed WFPB to be recommended for all patients, and to be used as a first-line of treatment and chronic disease. They say the only research still needed is, How to make this the new normal?

    Animal agribusiness industry interests aside, why is the current discussion even a question?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Evolutionarily, carbs/sugars were in low supply. Bears are happy each summer with the berries. Finding a bees nest for some honey is a bonanza in the wild world. Not something stocked in your cupboards.

    The reward pathway for sugar in brain is normal. Beware.

  • yingyangyou

    Research is a good thing. However, it would be helpful for shows like this to delve into the funding of this research…and to make that clear for each expert/researcher. Tulane University as a blanket credential does not tell us who funded this research. For example, Tulane, being in New Orleans, the epicenter of fat/protein cuisine, may have funding from the industries there which provide those products. Who knows? Capitalism is not philanthropic, and corporate sponsors of food research done at universities have done much damage in order to sell burgers, factory chicken, factory pork, corn flakes, corn syrup, corn starch, palm oil.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Capitalism is not philanthropic. Capitalism and secrecy or corruption is not.

      Capitalism and Transparency is philanthropic.

      • Jill122

        Capitalism and Transparency MIGHT BE philanthropic.

        Just a Quick fix.

        EX: I may know that the Koch Bros are funding this or that campaign and I may know they are doing it to make sure there are no changes to the tax laws that would cause them to pay one penny more. But I may feel that they are job creators and therefore *should* keep “their” money while I get to pay for the infrastructure they need to keep the profits rolling in.

        US Free Market Capitalism insures losses are socialized and profits are kept in the hands of the people on top — including legitimate taxes to pay the bills (infrastructure, food safety, work place safety, CDC, FDA, SEC, FCC, TSA, etc. etc. etc. not to mention defense of oil in Iraq for the sake of . . .).

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          “US Free Market Capitalism insures losses are socialized and profits are kept in the hands of the people on top.”

          Not so.

          US Crony Capitalism, with too big to fail, lack of transparency, open Fed windows to Wall St. etc, insures losses are socialized and profits are kept in the hands of the people on top.

          • Jill122

            Frankly, I don’t see a difference between “Free Market” and “Crony”. They are one in the same unless you’re willing to find me the ONE honest politician in Washington (or even the hinterlands). Good Luck with that.

            The President’s job is to stand between the Needies and the Greedies. Obama has tried to tread that line lightly. Most of the others in the past 30 years have been on the side of the Greedies.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            The difference is the work of self-government and constitutional rule of law.

            But if we are too lazy or dumb for that, you may be right, we can’t handle it, it will be corrupted, and we need Benevolent Dictatorship of one sort or another.

      • nj_v2

        [[ Capitalism and Transparency is philanthropic. ]]

        Not from The Onion.

  • ELKennelly

    The issue of animal agribusiness and its impact is an essential question for this discussion, and whether to eat animal foods is not an ethically neutral question.

    Eating Doritos versus kale chips is a personal choice; eating animal foods is not, given that their lives and deaths are necessarily involved, and the situation for farmed animals in this country is nothing short of an atrocity.

    • J__o__h__n

      Factory farming should be overhauled, but there is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating animals.

      • ELKennelly

        Well, it depends on your ethical stance. Once one acknowledges that humans have no biological need to eat animals or their secretions and excretions, then eating those things is done only for pleasure, habit, and tradition. Simply put, we kill for fun. And that doesn’t square
        with most ethical systems.

        Yes, factory farming needs overhauling, or better yet, abolishing.
        But I encourage you and anyone else reading to look behind the scenes of alternative farming (organic, local, free range, pastured/grassfed, family, humane, etc.). While the lives of some
        animals on some of those farms is better than those on factory farms, most of the time they are still subject to the same routine mutilations, confinement, and of course transport to the same slaughterhouses as their CAFO counterparts. And there’s an awful lot
        of green- and humane-washing going on with the feel-good labeling of such meats/dairy/eggs, given the profit incentive to do so.

        Good resources to learn more include Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, The Humane Myth, United Poultry Concerns, and Hope Bohanec’s site/book “The Ultimate
        Betrayal.”

        • Tamara Morgan

          It’s your myth that humans are not omnivores but herbivores. We have never NOT eaten meat and the products of animals, and our bodies need the elements we get from them.

          It’s fine if your ethical system is based on not killing, but if you really want to be an advanced spiritual being, you’d be living on air, and not killing plants for your sustenance, either. My spiritual path includes the ethical eating of anything below me on the food chain because I’m part of that food chain.

          I agree with your argument that one must be careful to know where one’s food comes from, because a lot of people are taking advantage of the ‘organic’, ‘natural’ and the complete joke that is ‘gluten-free’.

          • ELKennelly

            Tamara, I never claimed we’re herbivores; I wrote carefully and accurately, and said we have no biological NEED for animal foods. Yes, we are omnivores but that only means we are able to eat animal foods, and of course have done so historically. But that doesn’t mean we have to, or that they’re good for us.
            I stand by what I wrote, that eating animal foods today in the developed world is an unnecessary choice.
            I will also add Dr T Colin Campbell’s maxim that there is no nutrient in animal foods that is not found as well or better in its plant origin.

          • Cassie

            Except for vitamin B12, only found in animal protein. B12 in other foods is fortified.

          • ELKennelly

            Yes, B12 (soil bacterium, now not reliably present in produce as it’s often too washed and processed, but present in animal meat from their grazing) is the one supplement recommended by all the plant-based docs and nutritionists — though plenty of omnis also have this deficiency (too much processed junk for their diet as well?)

  • Tequila_Mckngbrd

    Fat is bad for you = let’s eat carbs! People get fat.
    Carbs are bad for you = let’s eat fat! People get fat.

    WTF?

    Go exercise, you fat slobs!

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      “Carbs are bad for you = let’s eat fat! People get fat.”

      Not.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    The fact that our kids can’t get whole milk at school anymore is infuriating.

    • GWelch

      That’s what brown bags and thermoses are for. Parents get to choose.

      And, wouldn’t the fact that schools offer any subsidized lunches at all offend a true libertarian?

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Happy to pay for the full fat milk and its refrigeration until lunchtime.

        But pretty much agreed.

  • DJJS

    Tom, a pound of butter a week, especially in the winter, doesn’t look so crazy now does it in light of comments by experts like Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian? That much butter in a “Standard American Diet (SAD)” is not good, but along the guidelines (e.g. less refined foods) mentioned by Dr. Mozaffarian, some people do fine with it (like me).

  • creaker

    refined carbohydrates = manufactured food product. Real food is to manufactured food products like coca leaves are to crack. All these countries that are catching up with us in terms of obesity are the ones catching up with us in terms of manufactured food products.

  • CeCi Bar

    It is hard to believe how far out we’ve gotten from understanding the foods we eat.

    I’ve been cooking/prepping with whole milk and heavy cream (locally and unpasteurized ) for some time now.

    Cheeses as appetizers or as an after-dinner course – so good for you. Whole greek-style yogurts, the best.

    Just because it’s fat doesn’t mean it’s all bad for you or that it’s fat in your body.

    Moderation — and how we produce our foods. I haven’t purchased a vegetable in a big-box grocer that has yet to taste very much like a vegetable.

    • nj_v2

      I avoid dairy. Milk from an animal is designed for the young of that animal. Drinking milk from another species has always seemed weird to me. One is eating all that fat, all those hormones. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  • GWelch

    My favorite late summer dish – pasta with pesto and new potatoes.

    I’m gonna die, but I’m gonna die happy.

  • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

    Sorry, after they tricked us about the terrible danger of saturated fat for 40 years (or the real danger of unsaturated, which as a chemist, I always wondered about the breakdown products), I’m dubious about all the latest FADS- esp this hatred of sugar and carbs. Is this just the latest theory, or is there really hard science for this. I like natural foods but think this is fueled by the anti-pleasure Nazis among scientists

    • Cassie

      You comparison of serious scientists to “Nazis” is deeply offensive, and ignorant.

      • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

        Its wild exageration, like “Soup Nazis”. Relax

  • GWelch

    In re: taxing packaged food to pay for unprocessed nutritional whole foods. I really don’t think that there is much of a prayer of anything like that passing in this political environment.

  • Kathy

    Taxing processed food is an option, but what about changing the subsidies that go to the farmers who grow corn/soybeans that are mostly used for animal feed and processed foods? Subsidize farmers who grow WHOLE foods!

  • http://www.mistertwilight.com mrtwilight23

    You can’t fuel yourself with carbohydrate in the wild. Maybe you can a couple months in the right spot if you know what to look for. During an Ice Age though? Good luck! Can’t thread that needle with bananas. But it looks like we made it. Atkins wasn’t ‘right’ he was just looking back at 2 million years to see how we got here. Our large brains needed fuel from alternative energy – ketones. Not many creatures use ketone bodies. Not even bears in hibernation. We’re a hybrid motor. If you’re in ketosis you’re a Tesla instead of these old rusty things. If you’re not in ketosis, good luck burning body fat for fuel. It’s not paleo – all kinds of new novel foods are great. It’s not just about diet it’s about history, geography, and endocrinology, human physiology. Forget diet gurus, just look back to when we got out of trees and started to become ‘us’. We made it. Good job guys!

  • Daniel Conable

    The world of agricultural policy and the world of food policy don’t have enough fact-based interchange. A speaker on today’s On Point casually referred to “highly subsidized corn” as an acknowledged fact about how corn goes to market in the U.S. Corn benefits from some indirect subsidies — as do thousands of other food and non-food products on the market — but in the case of corn these amount to little more than a few cents a bushel today — an amount that is truly negligible as an influence on the price of any corn-based food product. In fact, this has been the case for many, many years. Direct subsidies for corn production are a thing of the very distant past, but because people in the nutrition world are talking to each other, and not people who know anything about farm policy, this trope never seems to get challenged. Why does larding on this (inaccurate) reference to corn subsidies strengthen the argument against using less HFCS?

  • kaybee63

    So, in the end, eat unprocessed foods, not processed ones, eat more vegetables, and if some cheese, nuts, butter, olive oil helps the veggies go down, go for it. I know some eggs and Parmesan cheese helps get rid of my tomato and zucchini surplus with my kids at least. I wonder what the processed food industry is going to do with this latest study though. I’m sure the Don Drapers of the business are already hard at work.

  • Sy2502

    I am sure the vegetarians will have a cow (pun intended) over this.

    • Cassie

      Moooo …ore fruits and veggies …

  • ELKennelly

    I am a former vegetarian who lived on dairy for its supposed benefits (all organic), turned whole-food vegan 3 yrs ago after a bad breast cancer diagnosis — I saw “Forks Over Knives,” made the shift immediately, and am thriving. I would take the dairy concerns seriously, not just for the fat but for its inherent hormone content (it’s breast milk, after all, from a mammal in near constant pregnancy and lactation), and growth stimulants (IGF-1), and nature of its proteins (male consumers of low-fat and skim dairy have among the highest risks for prostate cancer)

    Check Dr Michael Greger’s site http://www.nutritionfacts.org.

    While you’re at it, check sites such as Mercy for Animals or Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary to find out about the business model of all dairy production, even organic, even small-scale: this is the source of veal calves and cheap hamburger, which I assume you loathe.

    Not to worry, you needn’t give up pleasure! Free From Harm has a fabulous guide to going dairy free, and finding wonderful nut- and plant-based alternatives.

    • Cassie

      Thanks for the suggested websites. I still like organic whole milk, but don’t consume a lot of dairy, in general.

  • highlandbird

    Fish? Our oceans are just about fished out, and farm fish is an ecological disaster. Soy, who wants to eat that estrogen promoter? Cancer anyone? And Harvard just came out with a study saying buy FULL FAT DAIRY, as it is more filling. This women is way behind the curve. I don’t believe a thing she says, just as I didn’t believe her predecessors who came up with the food pyramid. Most importantly NO processed food, less refined carbs, no veg oils.

  • highlandbird

    Or how about we as a country just start with an end to the SUGAR AND CORN subsidies? Those two things alone with go a long way toward correcting the distorted food prices. Junk food and processed food prices would rise, making heathy food more attractive to buy. Maybe our obesity epidemic would also slow.

    • Sy2502

      How about ending ALL subsidies?

      • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

        How about we subsidize farmer raising broccoli and spinach and kale, etc, who sell their products in the food deserts?

        • Sy2502

          How about we don’t subsidize anyone, that way we encourage efficient food production?

  • Althea Black

    Saying that high-fat/low-carb is better of high-carb low-fat is problematic. The Annals of Internal Medicine low fat diet was only 30% fat, when a real low fat diet should be 10% or less to be optimal. There are many who have reaped the benefits of a high-fruit high-carb low-fat (also known as 80/10/10, which represents percentages of calories from carbs/protein/fat). I have personally gained muscle mass by switching from a high-fat/high-protein meat and dairy diet to a high-carb high-fruit vegan diet. I’ve never felt better and i eat unlimited carbs. There are a number of professional athletes and fitness models who have adopted the high-carb lifestyle to improve their performance. look up freelee the banana girl on you tube.

    • Sy2502

      Muscle is made of protein. The body can’t make muscle in any other way. So to gain muscle you need to eat a lot of protein. All professional bodybuilders can tell you that. There’s a reason why they eat the amount of meat, eggs, and protein powder they do. If it was for nothing do you think they’d do it?
      As for athletes on vegetarian diets, only endurance athletes do well on that kind of diet. Athletes on specialties that require strength and power who go vegetarian see their athletic performance plummet like a led balloon.

      • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy

        Endurance athletes are finding that a ketogenic diet; high fat, very low carb is actually quite beneficial to their performance.

        • Sy2502

          Yes! And with good reason. If the body relies only on glycogen to work, the fuel is eventually going to run out, as the liver and the muscles can only store so much of it. But when the body goes in ketosis it starts getting its fuel from body fat instead, of which most of us have ample supply. Which gives that endurance athlete an edge over the other athletes.

  • HonestDebate1

    Just eat sensibly.

  • Cassie

    You couldn’t get lower in taste than Wonder Bread! But, kids in the 60s were less fat because they played outdoors, had recess, weren’t glued to electronic gadgets and phones. There was less emphasis on packaged snacks, sodas were sold in small cans or bottles, and schools served healthy lunches, not the garbage they serve today.

  • Cassie

    I have long wanted to see the big snack companies put out of business. Imagine all the energy and resources expended to make those snack items that contribute to the nation’s obesity!! The waist in this country equals the waste!

  • Cassie

    Correlations between dairy and other fats to cancer have never been scientifically backed up … dietary fat’s impact on cancer has always been speculation. Rather, there is increased risk of some cancers due to obesity.

  • Jasoturner

    Moderation in all things? Does that include alcohol? Cocaine? Wormwood? Fish? To call for “balance” and “moderation” sounds good, but they are words without much meaning unless defined and backed up.

    I would disagree with you, and would propose that processed carbohydrates, among other things, will eventually be found clearly detrimental to our health. A moderate intake white bread may be determined – from a health standpoint – to be zero once the science is done.

  • Joe C

    I’ve been eating low-carb, gluten free for a year now. Never felt better. Here’s the breakdown of my calorie intake: 85% fat, 10% protein, 5% carbs. I’m at my leanest body mass ever. I’ve broken every rule in the US Dietary Guidelines and life is great. However, I was denied for a life insurance policy because my cholesterol levels were too high. I plan on writing Prudential a letter when I turn 65 and still kicking just to let them know they bet on the wrong horse.

  • doninvt

    I keep hearing about the obesity explosion coinciding with the popularity of low carb diets. My take is it was also when all TV’s started coming with remote controls. Walking across the living room to change channels was all the exercise many people got!

    • Sy2502

      No, actually the obesity explosion came with the popularity of low fat and non fat diets.

      • doninvt

        Pardon the typo, I meant low fat. THAT was, as I meant to say, coincident with the TV remote control factor.

        • Sy2502

          Then you are correct!

  • Sy2502

    French people eat amounts of butter, cream, and cheese that would make the food pyramid proponents tear their hair out. Yet they are very healthy people. Funny how these examples are under everyone’s nose, and yet the old diet guidelines survive, even with no good basis to support them.

  • vito33

    Study, schmuddy. Next month another groundbreaking, peer-reviewed ‘study’ will surface that says just the opposite.

    How about this: Eat whatever you want in moderation, move around more every day, go easy on the booze, and cut out the cigarettes.

    You’re welcome.

  • Jeremiah Bullfrog

    Just to clarify, the picture above of the diner breakfast is not what the diet is about. It indicates limited to zero cured meats, no potatoes and especially not fried. limited to no wheat-free grains and breads, lots of vegetables, and the egss are ok. That dish is not at all what the diet is about. It’s very basic – less calories and more exercise = lose weight. The mind wants new things packaged with a ribbon. But it’s just another distraction, another procrastination. You know what you have to do. Do it or don’t do it.

    • Kevin EarthSoul

      This view is way over-simplified view. Certain foods, like cereal grains, will create food addiction, and lead to overeating. Healthy fats, however, increase satiety, and lead to more moderate eating. You can’t just break it down into “calories in – calories out”.

      • Jeremiah Bullfrog

        I realize that, and what one needs to know about diet can be covered in a page.
        But once you are informed (read: 10 mins), the task is simple (not easy) and there is no way around it.

  • coco_k

    It’s hard to know when you go to the store what to buy. Is there any sort of visual or graph that shows what foods are the ones to buy when you get to the store. And also what not to buy.

    On the program, they talk about polyunsaturated and and monounsaturated fats as being healthy fats. Translate that into real world terms or a visual. What should we be buying?

    Tom did a good job of trying to pull that out of the guests, but I’d love to see something concrete — something I could even take to the store with me.

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