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High fat low carb diets score best in studies, but food pyramid pushes low-fat

The latest research, from academic studies to clinical trials, has shown that high fat low carb diets work best for weight loss and for health. But despite all that evidence, both health groups such as the American Heart Association and most hospitals tell consumers to follow low fat high carb plans, said Irving T. Gilson, M.D., in the Providence Journal on July 6.

Bring on the protein, say more experts.
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

"A continuing flow of clinical research studies have consistently confirmed the benefits of low-carbohydrate diets with respect to weight loss and cardiac risk factors, while negating the demonization of saturated fat," said Dr. Gilson. The benefits include help for those with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholestesterol.

"Bottom line: the demon is the sugar — not the fat," added Dr. Gilson. He also noted that a new book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" by Nina Teicholz, shows "major flaws in the evidence presented by those who have been advocating a low-fat diet to reduce heart disease and obesity for the past 30 years."

In an exclusive interview, Nina told me, "The Seven Countries study that Keys conducted in the late 1950s was like the “big bang” of modern nutrition research." Just one problem with that big bang: It was more of a bust than a bang.

While Keys nailed saturated fat as the culprit for heart disease, his conclusion "contains many methodological flaws, including the fact that Keys selected only the countries that would support his hypothesis, such as Italy, Greece and Japan, which had low rates of heart disease and consumed little saturated fat, while ignoring those that would not," Nina said. As a result, our food pyramid as well as traditional diet advice is based on erroneous conclusions.

Adding to the evidence that low carb rather than low fat diets are best for weight loss and health, a new study found that eating protein suppresses the appetite. Those who lack enough protein in their diets compensate by eating too many carbohydrates, leading to obesity, reported Bustle on July 7.

David Raubenheimer of the University of Sydney found that those ubiquitous low-fat processed products that fill our grocery store shelves provide us with the wrong balance of nutrients. We're consuming too many carbohydrates and not enough protein, resulting in weight gain.

In contrast, by following a Paleo-style plan that eliminates grains and sugar while increasing protein, vegetables and healthy fats, we can boost both our health and our weight loss. "if we have a diet with low protein, we will over-eat fats, carbs and energy to get the target level of protein. This may explain why human obesity cases in the Western World have soared over the past 60 years whilst the proportion of protein in our diet has dropped during this time," said Raubenheimer.

Despite this evidence cited by both Dr. Gilson and Raubenheimer, the American Heart Association (AHA) advocates following a low-fat diet that features whole grains and limits red meat. They also tell consumers to choose low-fat dairy.

"Eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products...while limiting red meat," says the AHA Web site. That advice is echoed by the food pyramid.

But it is advice that has failed, Paleo diet guru Robb Wolf told me in an exclusive interview. He challenges those who say that it's not healthy to eliminate dairy and grains, both of which are excluded on a Paleo diet.

The low-fat, high carb diet has been preached for 50 years "and it has been a complete failure," says Robb. For those who want to feel better, enhance their health or lose weight, "I can’t spin this yarn that all food are created equal."

Robb questions the notion "that some kind of mystical nutrient deficiency will emerge if one builds their diet built around fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and seeds. My research associates have published papers demonstrating not only that a Paleo diet provides all the nutrients for health, but that the Paleo diet is, calorie for calorie, the most nutritious way one can eat."

Supporting the high fat low carb diet is Dr. Stephen Phinney. After decades of studying ketogenic diets and other types of low carb diets, the physician disagrees strongly with the recommendations of the AHA and food pyramid.

"Given both the healthcare costs and the medical risks associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, plus the immediate improvements (if not complete remission) in these diseases with a well-formulated ketogenic diet, this diet should be the primary (aka first) therapy that doctors and dietitians recommend," he told me in an exclusive interview.

"The concept that humans 'need a certain amount of dietary carbs for proper function of the body' has no basis in science," he told me. "It is a myth perpetuated by the USDA and the dietetic establishment."

A new study offers additional proof about that "myth." By eating lean beef, researchers have found that you can lower your blood pressure more successfully than following the standard DASH plan that limits protein, reported Penn State News on July 8.

This research adds to the significant evidence, including work previously done in our lab, that supports lean beef's role in a heart-healthy diet," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. "This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that reduces blood pressure, which can help lower the risk for cardiovascular disease."