Monthly Archives: October 2013

Low-fat diets discredited

Low-fat diets are starting to be discredited all over the place. Here is a study that spent $700M over 8 years, trying to prove that low-fat diets with lots of added veggies and whole grains helped post-menopausal women avoid or recover heart disease and diabetes.

In fact it found the exact opposite.
“Women with diagnosed cardiovascular disease at the start of the trial who adopted the ‘healthy heart’ low-fat eating option had a risk of developing future cardiovascular complications that was 26% higher than that of the non-intervention group.”
“The leanest women at the start of the trial gained weight on the low-fat diet and those with the least insulin resistance at the start of the trial were at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) if assigned to the low-fat diet.”
“The low-fat diet also worsened glucose control in women with diagnosed diabetes”

More links along the same lines

The episode of Dr. Oz’s TV show where he denounces low-fat dietary advice

The acclaimed article in BMJ on saturated fat not being the problem

The report from Credit Suisse on the dangers of sugar

The recent episode of the Australian science television show on how saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease.

Why Diets Fail

Mark Sisson wrote a great post today called “Why Diets Fail.”  Here is a brief quote:

When we diet, we deliberately choose scarcity. Why? In the end, deprivation is a self-defeating behavior. It will always be self-defeating behavior. Sure, there may be that temporary grit-your-teeth triumph many of us have experienced in the pre-Primal pasts. The fact is, you can scramble, deprive and exhaust your way to a target weight, but chances are you’ll just roll right down the other side of that mountain once you’re there. The better choice is always investment as opposed to deprivation. A better, healthier lifestyle calls you to invest in yourself. It’s not a mental game of mathematical twister or complicated rule book. It’s a lifestyle you create over time.

From: Why Diets Fail by Mark Sisson

Here is my own response.  For the most part I agree with him, but I think Mark dismisses the possible value of “dieting” as a form of experimentation.

I think I would agree with the idea that diets don’t work long-term.  It does cause stress and it requires willpower, reducing our performance or our ability to handle stress in other areas of life.

But, I totally embrace the idea of experimentation, and pushing our own limits in order to learn about ourselves.  Dieting and calorie-counting don’t work well in the long term, but if you have the motivation and can handle the stress in the short term, go ahead and “experiment on yourself”.

People want to be told “The Answer” so they can hurry up and fix their lives, but I’ve found that for most people, life doesn’t work that way.  If you change your diet for a while and then go back to what you were doing before, what have you learned? What value did you get out of the experiment?

So the choice shouldn’t be “diet or don’t diet” — the choice should be more like, “What should I try next, and for how long?”  Some of our experiments will be hard, as hard as running a marathon.  Some of our experiments will fail to give the results we were after, but as long as we’re learning from them, it’s worth doing.

These experiments also do something else: they teach us various skills.  Some diets teach us how to count, and how to survive and cope with deprivation.  Other diets teach us how to adjust our eating for a specific nutrient balance.  Some others will teach us to recognize the effects of different foods on our bodies, or will teach us different ways to feed ourselves while avoiding certain food types.  But ultimately the diet itself is a learning tool, not a path to an outcome.  Once we are equipped with the right skills, we should stop “dieting” and just… LIVE!

So I say, if something is wrong, or if we’re just not happy with how things are, we should go on voyages of discovery.  Whether it’s dieting, measuring, trying things, talking to people, going sweat-lodge and communing with our spirit animal, whatever.  We should do what it takes to learn about ourselves and pick up skills and habits.  And along the way we should try to discover how to LIVE and ENJOY life.

Voice Of the People site launched today, please check it out

“Voice Of the People (VOP) is a new non-partisan organization that seeks to re-anchor our democracy in its founding principles by giving ‘We the People’ a greater role in government.”

I will be following this closely! I like the idea of a #CitizenCabinet. Please take a minute to visit, and sign their petition if you agree.