How Low Carb Diet Doctors Pull The Wool Over Your Eyes

It all starts with the absurd diet recommendations put out by people like the CDC or the USDA and HHS.  These diet recommendations tell people to consume up to 35% of their diet from fat and up to 35% of their diet from protein.  Given that these recommended levels are what Americans have been consuming for decades, does it make sense to keep recommending them given the observed rates of obesity?

I mean look at this report by the CDC which says, “During 1971–2000, the prevalence of obesity in the United States increased from 14.5% to 30.9% (1).”  – And that same report goes on to say, “The percentage of kcals from total fat decreased from 36.9% to 32.8% (p<0.01) for men and from 36.1% to 32.8% (p<0.01) for women. In addition, the percentage of kcals from saturated fat decreased from 13.5% to 10.9% (p<0.01) for men and from 13.0% to 11.0% (p<0.01) for women. A slight decrease was observed in the percentage of kcals from protein, from 16.5% to 15.5% (p<0.01) for men and from 16.9% to 15.1% (p<0.01) for women.”

Those levels are within the presently recommended dietary guidelines!  – so why the hell is the CDC or the USDA still recommending people eat this way?

These absurd guidelines are picked up by the low carb hucksters for use in comparative studies. In these comparative studies, which compare low fat diets to low carb diets, the “low fat” diet consists of getting people to eat the recommended guideline diets.  A diet that consists of 1/3rd fat is not a low fat diet!  The studies showing the benefit of a low carb diet compared to a “low fat” diet are actually comparing the low carb diet to the STANDARD AMERICAN DIET (SAD).  Is it any wonder that those same studies show the low carb diet blowing the “low fat” (SAD) diet out of the water?

This kind of deception has been employed by the tobacco corporations for the same effect.  By comparing their product to something even more damaging, it makes their product look like the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Very few comparison studies have been done that put a low carb ketogenic diet up against a low fat vegan diet that consists of less than 10% calories from fat.

Let’s go over some of the 23 studies found on Authority Nutrition’s site that claim to show the low carb diet kicking the “low fat” diet’s ass.  Let’s see if we can find the level of fat intake the “low fat” dieters were told to consume in the various studies.

  • Study #1,  <25% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #2, <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #3, <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #4, <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #5, <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #6, <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #7, <25% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #8,  17.8% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products.  This study showed equal effectiveness between the LC and LF diets.
  • Study #9 – not shown
  • Study #10 – not shown
  • Study #11 – not shown
  • Study #12 – “There were no significant differences in weight loss at any time point among the Zone, LEARN, and Ornish diets…At 12 months, secondary outcomes for the Atkins group were comparable with or more favorable than the other diet groups.”  The Ornish diet is the only low fat diet in the mix, which shoots for <10% calories from fat, no meat, but eggs and non-fat dairy OK.
  • Study #13 – <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #14 – <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products
  • Study #15 – not shown
  • Study #16 – <30% from fat, no restriction on consuming animal products

I could keep going on, but by now I hope you get the picture.  The studies showing the low carb high fat (LCHF) diet beating the low fat high carb (LFHC) diet are done using disingenuous dietary protocols designed by people that have serious research biases and conflicts of interest.

Setting all that aside, it is abundantly clear that humans are biologically adapted to consume high levels of carbohydrates.  The enzyme amylase is the most abundant enzyme in human saliva.  Amylase’s sole purpose is to breakdown carbohydrates for digestion.  Real carnivores, like cats, don’t produce this enzyme in their saliva, and they have far more enzymes dedicated to breaking down protein and fat.  The list of biological adaptations humans have that make us primed for carbohydrate consumption is enormous.

It boggles my mind how the people on the Atkins or Paleo diets absolutely refuse to listen to their bodies.  People who consume these diets are going to experience severe constipation.  One thing the long list of studies posted on Authority Nutrition fails to address is the risk of cancer that is associated with meat consumption.  Since humans are not biologically adapted to eat meat, consumed meat ends up rotting in the bowel before it is expelled.  Actual carnivores and omnivores do not get constipation from eating meat.  Since meat rots in the gut for so long, it ends up destroying beneficial gut bacteria and raises the risk of colon cancer by 300%.  Cancer is the number two killer of Americans, and colon cancer is the number two cancer killer behind lung cancer.

So while you can lose weight through ketosis, and you can even improve your cardiovascular risk scores because of said weight loss, you’re going to end up shitting a solid brick once a week and dying of colon cancer at an early age. Not to mention you’re going to reek of sulfur and acetone from the ketosis. – Also, all that assumes you’re not genetically disposed to be a “high retainer” of cholesterol.  A certain percentage of the population can end up dead from heart disease or end up with erectile dysfunction by following the Atkins diet.

Dr. Michael Greger has put together an excellent web book on the problems associated with low carb diets.  The book contains over 1100 references to scientific literature on the subject.  You can read selected excerpts by clicking the links below to show an expanded text block. If you’re curious about how low carb diets came to be popular, you might find the first section that talks about Gary Taubes to be interesting.

So, if you’re goal is to lose weight at any cost, regardless of how damaging the diet may be to your long term health, by all means go enjoy gorging yourself on dead animal flesh and chicken menses every night.  However, if you’d like to achieve the same weight loss results while simultaneously protecting your body from every metabolic disease known to man, look here.

  • Brenden

    I totally agree with your assessment of low-carb diets. Most of the people supporting them are fat gurus, and most of the people who really want to help are going back on their recommendations of eating very low carb. I ate for ketosis and avoided most carbs for a couple years. It didn’t help me at all. In fact, I got fatter and lazier.

    What has worked for me is consuming more fish based proteins like smoked sockeye salmon, whey proteins, and taking a shotgun of probiotics washed down with a glass of water mixed with potato starch every morning. Also eating lots of cooked, cooled and reheated rice, beans and potatoes with very little added fat. Cooking and cooling causes the starches to become resistant again even after reheating, and feeds your gut.

    The missing link here in my opinion is maintaining a healthy gut, and consuming plenty of food that is rich in prebiotic fiber. Low-carb diets are almost devoid of these fibers, and over time are going to destroy your stomach bacteria.

    I don’t think I could give up meat, and I’m not convinced it’s really that bad for you. That said, not all meat is created equal either. Industrial pork bought at 99c a pound will probably hurt you, but a freshly caught sockeye salmon or some grassfed beef are going to have plenty of nutrients and good fat profiles. And, the most nutrient dense foods on the planet are actually organs.

    This comment wasn’t meant to attack you in any way. I fully support whatever choices you make. I’m just providing my perspective.

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