The 26th September edition of the BMJ carries an article damning the latest set of dietary guidelines about to be released by the US government. (Click on the bold letters to read the article in full.) These guidelines will run much as they have done for the last 35 years: eat less fat, fewer animal products, eat more grains and vegetables and vegetarianism is the holy grail of healthy eating. Mind you, there is a small change: eat less sugar – let’s have a small hurrah there.
What I found astounding about this feature is that the BMJ clearly espouses the low carb diet, saying research clearly points to this way of eating being better for health overall and better for weight loss and weight maintenance. Low carb is eat lots of dead things (meat, birds, fishes) and loads of veggies and cut back on the sugar and starch. The BMJ slams the US dietary advice for being founded on, at best, weak evidence and, at worst, complete lack of evidence to back up the continuation of the old, tired, advice. It points to the decision being founded on monetary influence on the guideline committee members; one committee member has received
more than $10,000 from Lluminari, which produces health related multimedia content for Gemeral Mills, PepsiCo, Stonyfield Farm, Newman’s Own and “other companies”1
The article makes for disturbing reading. But, even more than that, it makes for joyous reading. Finally the truth is creeping out: low fat dieting does not work. I really mustn’t carp about the 35 years that this has taken. And thank goodness we live in the UK, where, hopefully, dietary indoctrination is about to have a different theme. And as a result, people may start to get slimmer instead of inexorably fatter ‘n fatter.
I am currently grappling with writing a book about how to go about losing weight, and indeed, research repeatedly shows successful dieting regimes are consistently low carb or the mediterranean diet, with the low carb coming first. Low fat dieting does poorly in comparison. Very low calorie dieting is a bit of a mixed bag, but for long term weight loss, and, even more vital, weight maintenance, very low calorie dieting has some real issues to overcome: A piece of research ‘The defence of body weight: a physiological basis for weight regain after weight loss‘ (again, click on the text to be taken to the free access research) shows clearly that eating a low calorie diet leads us to desire very high calorie foods when the diet is over, and this desire persists for one year or more. So if we liked crisps before going low calorie, when we resume normal eating, we really, really like crisps; they have, ‘eat me, eat me’ squeaking out of every packet, even the empty ones blowing in the wind.
The good thing about low carb diets is they are satisfying. Eat plenty of vegetables and we get plenty of goodness and fibre, which fills up the tum; eat a reasonable amount of fat and the meal is both bioavailable (good uptake of any nutrients) and satisfying; eat a good dollop of something dead and we get a big nutritional boost as well as not needing to eat anything for a few hours while we digest it. And it all leads to stable blood sugar, the ability to make good food choices, a more stable mood, getting healthier and looser trousers. And even more research showing this way of eating is good for us.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see us all finally getting slimmer?
- Nina Teicholz. BMJ. 26th September 2015 [↩]