Friday, July 15, 2011

The Virtues of a High Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet

The documentary Fathead makes this point in a very entertaining way, but this is worth reading as well.  From the December 20, 2010 Los Angeles Times:

In a 12-week study published in 2008, Phinney and his colleagues put 40 overweight or obese men and women with metabolic syndrome on a 1,500-calorie diet. Half went on a low-fat, high-carb diet. The others went on a low-carb, high-fat diet. The low-fat group consumed 12 grams of saturated fat a day out of a total of 40 grams of fat, while the low-carb group ate 36 grams of saturated fat a day — three times more — out of a total of 100 grams of fat.
Despite all the extra saturated fat the low-carb group was getting, at the end of the 12 weeks, levels of triglycerides (which are risk factors for heart disease) had dropped by 50% in this group. Levels of good HDL cholesterol increased by 15%.
In the low-fat, high-carb group, triglycerides dropped only 20% and there was no change in HDL.
Fathead makes the argument that much of the "fat is bad, carbohydrate is good" nonsense was the result of militant vegetarians in the government pushing this message.   Perhaps this was just a well-intentioned error that, once it had the government behind it, went completely overboard. 


  1. Gary Taubes book, Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health is a fascinating, largely historical, account of how medical "science" has approached the question of why humans get fat. Reading it revealed that, similar to the modern controversy over AGW, a few people in a field can establish an orthodoxy that is difficult to overcome.

  2. In 1961, the American Heart Association was first to endorse a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. In 1980, the federal government - USDA - incorporated the AHA anti-fat position into the 1980 Dietary Guidelines. Since then, obesity and diabetes have become epidemic and heart disease has not gone down as promised. Perhaps its time to gut low fat = good health and restore America's higher fat whole foods diet.