The Playbook For The Modern Man

Nutritionists Reveal Why People Listen To Low Carb Gurus Instead Of Science

The wrongful demonisation of all fats has caused low carb dieters to lose faith in mainstream science. But at what cost?

Buddhism. Christianity. Hinduism. Intermittent fasting? Whether it’s religion or diet people need an emotional ‘why’ — if they are to make a lasting change to their lives.

Just as you have to Marie Kondo your house to really keep it clean you have to jump on board a ‘movement’ if you want cheese-grater abs and Triceratops triceps.

Problem is, this has led many to believe that the entire food pyramid is a lie, when the truth is, the reason people tend to see more success on low carb regimes is because they religiously stick to them (rather than half-heartedly trying to eat a bit less junk and a few more veggies, as tends to be the case with people on the mainstream nutrition science diet).

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So — just as Crossfitters don’t need to be paying a small fortune to get fit (but would be languishing at home if it wasn’t for  the cultural capital their cult community provides), Keto dieters don’t need to be so radical about the removal of carbohydrates from their diets, but would be stuck making two-penny changes like the rest of us if it wasn’t for the positive feedback mechanisms (incessant Instagram motivation, your morning smoothie being featured on your favourite influencer’s blog, etc.) being part of such a movement nets them.

Of course, like Crossfit, the benefits are real. But the point is: one does not need to go to such extremes to get healthy — and while making your shopping list “too simple to fail” has its benefits, it comes with a set of risks of its own.

As reported on Monday by the BBC, flaunting the official government saturated fat recommendations is a risky business — regardless of whether or not it’s better than badly following a mainstream nutrition science diet.

 

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While a diet high in full-fat dairy, butter, ghee and coconut oil can help us feel fuller for longer and reduce our sugar cravings, too much saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood, which can lead to “furred up” arteries and an increased chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

The question then becomes — how much is too much?

According to the BBC, “You’ll almost certainly be having more saturated fat than the officially recommended amount if you’re doing one of the popular low carbohydrate regimens, like the keto or paleo diet, or if you’re following the trend of spooning a butter or fat into your coffee each morning.”

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“Eat much more than 100g of fatty meat, pastries, or cheese each day and you’ll also easily get beyond the limit, given by UK dietary guidelines as 20g for women or 30g for men.”

While some scientists argue refined carbohydrate induced inflammation is the real culprit for heart disease rather than saturated fat, even if this is true it doesn’t mean saturated fat is good for you — it just means they are both contributing factors.

As to why we have the rates of obesity and diabetes that we do? While low carb high-fat proponents say it’s because the food pyramid is a lie, medical professionals at places like the British Dietetic Association “believe it’s less that the guidelines are wrong, and more that we aren’t following them,” (BBC).

But because saturated fat used to be touted as the cause of heart disease (and now is acknowledged to be one of several dietary factors), there is perhaps more confusion, disagreeing experts, and conflicting headlines on this topic than any other.

As nutrition journalist Gary Taubes explained on the Sam Harris podcast — it is this confusion, the wrongful demonisation of all fats (including the healthy ones) which continued up until relatively recently, and the anecdotal evidence that ‘going keto’ works which has caused low carb dieters to lose faith in mainstream science (and turn to low carb Instagram gurus), perceiving the government to be in cahoots with the multi-billion dollar refined carbohydrate and sugar industries.

What they forget is that there is also money to be made from the saturated fat industry — and that it is possible to rectify a mistake without overbalancing in the other direction.

Fortunately, registered dieticians like Lynne Garton — a dietetic advisor to the cholesterol charity Heart UK — are on hand with the facts, with Lynne yesterday telling the BBC that most people already consume more saturated fat than the American Heart Association’s maximum recommended dietary percentage of 6% and the World Health Organisation’s more generous limit of 10% — and that’s before they even start a low carb high-fat diet.

“UK adults overshoot recommendations by consuming 12.5% of calories from saturated fat, even though their total fat intake is approximately on target… Americans average 11% of their calories from saturated fat and Australians 12%.”

The conclusion? Swap the saturated fat out of your diet for whole grains, high-quality protein, non-saturated fats or fresh fruit and vegetables — but not sugar or refined carbohydrates (white bread, hot chips, etc.) which are arguably worse for you than the saturated fat itself.

 

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