Could a low-fat diet make you fat and sick? Is calorie counting worthwhile? Is it possible that the current dietary guidelines could be very wrong? Many authorities are saying that the current low-fat, low-calorie health model is significantly flawed. Here are my thoughts…
Why question current guidelines?
With more ‘low fat’, ‘diet’ and ‘lite’ products on our shelves, we should be getting thinner. Think again; we are in the midst of a worldwide obesity epidemic. As obesity is a driver of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other chronic diseases, this is a real concern. What’s even more frightening it is that not only obese people are suffering with these chronic and largely avoidable illnesses. Thin people with fat in their arteries and around vital organs, often labelled “skinny fat” people are also succumbing to disease. So you don’t have to appear fat to be affected.
I often ponder that if a communicable disease threatened the lives of as many people as these largely preventable obesity driven diseases do, then we would all be scrambling to do everything we could to avoid it. But this is difficult for the average person who entrusts in government guidelines. Especially when the very things we are told to do (eat a low fat, low calorie, carbohydrate-laden diet), is being increasingly questioned by clinicians and nutritional scientists. Strange times in the world of nutritional health; just don’t expect the authorities to swing their sails any time soon.
Do you check out nutrition panels?
Since starting Well Nourished, I’ve been asked many times to include a nutritional breakdown of my recipes. This hasn’t happen and won’t as I believe food cannot be assessed as a sum of it’s parts and all calories are certainly not created equal. Rather than a lengthy boring explanation, I have an example. There are almost double the amount of calories in an avocado than a Tim Tam biscuit – so based on calorie counting, a Tim Tam is a better choice, or not?
Don’t do skinny, lite or fat-free anything!
Whole, nature given foods are not ‘lite’ or ‘skinny’ or ‘fat free’ – they are just real foods. Once more real foods do not contain ‘vegetable oils’ in the forms found in almost every processed foods. You may have read my position on milk (I recommend unhomogenised full-fat milk). Did you know that pig farmers are recommended to feed their pigs skim milk to fatten them up (read about it here)? Skim and low fat milk make you fat too. If you care about your heart and waist, drop the skinny, please.
But doesn’t saturated fat cause heart disease?
There is NO clear evidence that this is the case at all. In 2010, there was a major review of scientific studies on fat. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that contrary to what we have been lead to believe, “there is no convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease.”
In fact, there is more evidence that simple carbohydrate, most specifically fructose is the cause of heart disease. Without covering old ground, low-fat processed foods are generally very high in carbohydrate and sugar. For example, Praise 99% fat free mayonnaise has almost three times the amount of sugar as a can of coke – surely we have lost sight of what’s really good for us when a low fat product like this, endorsed by health authorities, contains more sugar than a can of soft drink.
This is a really hot topic at the moment in the world of nutrition science and the media. In fact, since I have written this post, this subject has exploded – I have lots more information and links on this to come.
A bit more…
This news article investigates why experts are questioning conventional dietary wisdom into why a low-fat diet could be making you even fatter (you can read it here). Tomorrow, I’ve got even more on this topic, including why health authorities are failing to step up – so stay tuned for more compelling information.
On a personal note…
I studied nutrition in the ‘low fat’ and ‘calorie counting’ days. I was a vegetarian for 20 years and ate next to no saturated fat (I ate low-fat everything and with retrospective regret, advised my patients to do the same). I also carried much more weight in my 20’s than I do now in my 40’s (and I eat only saturated and monounsaturated fats nowadays). My health has also improved enormously.
Whilst science will go on to prove or even disprove these ideas – I personally just come back to my health philosophy of eating only what our evolutionary bodies ate – a variety of real food, with the least human intervention possible and with its nature given fat, saturated and all, intact.
You might also like the ABC ‘Catalyst’ investigation video, here. Seems I’m not the only one questioning the ‘low fat’ dietary dogma!