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Ex-vegetarian champions high-fat, low carb diets: Saturated fat is healthy

Big Fat Surprise book praises high-fat, low carb ketogenic diets: Saturated fat is healthy
Simon & Schuster

Investigative writer Nina Teicholz credits a high-fat, low-carb diet for her effortless 10-pound weight loss and improved health.

“Saturated fat is really not bad for health," Teicholz told ABC News. "It doesn’t cause obesity, diabetes and heart disease."

Teicholz, a former vegetarian, said she struggled to lose weight on low-fat diets, but was able to shed 10 pounds without exercise simply by increasing her consumption of healthy fats and reducing her carb intake.

Contrary to longstanding low-fat diet dogma, the true cause of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and cancer is a high-carb diet, especially one high in sugar, said Nina, author of The Big Fat Surprise.

Teicholz drew her conclusions after conducting a nine-year investigation of scientific studies and nutrition research on dietary fat. Nina now has bacon for breakfast and snacks on nuts, cheese and salami for lunch. By eating more unprocessed saturated fat and fewer carbs, she rarely experiences hunger and has consistent energy throughout the day.

“I tried so hard when I was a vegetarian," she said. "And I used to obsess about food. But now I just don’t. And I barely exercise. I found that I lost 10 pounds [easily]. And my cholesterol levels were fine.”

"Researchers have found that people can overeat carbs, but it’s almost impossible to overeat steak. The reason why you’re not satiated eating carbs and you are when eating protein and fats is that you’re getting essential nutrients your body needs from those animal foods, so you feel satiated because you’re getting what you need. And your blood sugar stays more even."

LCHF Diet Prevents Pro-Inflammatory Insulin Spikes

Teicholz echoed the sentiments of science journalist Gary Taubes, who argued that fat has been wrongly blamed for causing obesity and other degenerative diseases for the past 40 years. Taubes detailed the research in his bestseller, Why We Get Fat.

According to obesity experts, a high-carb diet promotes disease and weight gain by causing pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin. By limiting those surges in blood sugar, we dramatically reduce inflammation, which is what fuels weight gain and disease, they say.

A growing number of medical experts are debunking the myth that saturated fat is the cause of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. In March 2014, Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at Cambridge University, said unprocessed saturated fat actually enhances health. According to Chowdhury, we should focus on reducing carb intake and eating more unprocessed fats if we truly want to be healthy.

“It’s not saturated fat we should worry about," Chowdhury wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "It’s the high-carbohydrate or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines. If anything is driving your low-density lipoproteins in a more adverse way, it’s carbohydrates.”

Dr. Chowdhury and his Cambridge University colleagues drew their conclusions after reviewing data from 72 published studies of more than 600,000 people from 18 countries.

'Carb Restriction Is Silver Bullet For Insulin Resistance'

Chowdhury is not alone in his assessment that unprocessed saturated fat protects our bodies and our brains against illness. Dr. Jeff Volek, author of The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living, said the high-fat ketogenic diet reverses type 2 diabetes and prevents heart disease.

"Carbohydrate restriction is the proverbial ‘silver bullet’ for managing insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes," Dr. Volek told me.

Similarly, obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman underscored that a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet not only produces rapid weight loss, but also combats epilepsy and prevents cancer. Over the years, Westman has helped thousands of morbidly obese patients lose dramatic amounts of weight on low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein ketogenic-style diets.

"I tell my patients not to fear the fat," said Dr. Westman, author of A New Atkins for a New You. "Eat lots of fat. There's no problem with fat. In fact, saturated fat, the fat that we've been taught not to eat, raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat."

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, said the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet prevents — and in some instances reverses — Alzheimer's disease and ADHD.

"Carbs are devastating for the brain," said Perlmutter. "Even slight elevations in blood sugar have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease."

Dr. Perlmutter recommends a low-carb diet — limiting carbs to no more than 80 grams a day — and eating plenty of healthy, unprocessed fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, grass-fed butter, wild fish, grass-fed beef, coconut oil, and nuts. "The fate of your brain is not in your genes; it's in the food you eat," he said.