The short answer: no. It seems pretty intuitive, on the face of it, that eating greasy, fatty food makes your body fat. If you want to avoid the lumpy fat around your own hips, shouldn't you just avoid eating that same substance?
The U.S. Surgeon General recommended in 1988 that, in order to be healthy, people should dramatically reduce their intake of fat. Since the spread of the low-fat approach, obesity across the United States, Canada, and the U.K. has ballooned.
Dr. Micheal Eades and Dr. Mary Eades make the very basic point in their book, Protein Power, that reducing one macronutrient group means an increase in another in order to get sufficient calories. Reduce fat, and you must increase protein and carbohydrates. The problem is that many protein sources also contain fat (red meat and eggs the most obvious), so low fat usually goes hand in hand with high carbohydrate intake.
High-carb, low-fat diets do not work for the vast majority of people. A recent study by Steve Phinney, M.D., Ph.D., and Jeff Volek, Ph.D., from UConn, compared two groups, one on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, the other on a low-fat, high-carb diet. Dr. Eades discussed their findings on his excellent blog (Dr. Mike at Protein Power).
The subjects on the low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet consumed about three times as much saturated fat as those on the low-fat, high-carb diet. The results?
- Subjects on the low-fat, high-carb diet decreased the saturated fat content of their blood by 24%.
- Subjects on the low-carb, high-fat diet decreased the saturated fat content of their blood by 57%.
- Increasing dietary saturated fat threefold when taken as part of a low-carb diet reduced the amount of saturated fat in the blood by a factor of 2.
More measurements on palmitoleic acid (a marker for fat production inside the body) indicated that subjects on the low-carb, high-fat diet decreased the amount of palmitoleic acid by 32% whereas those on the low-fat, high-carb diet didn’t reduce their levels of palmitoleic acid at all. A more detailed explanation can be found here:
The clear conclusion is that by decreasing carb intake, the body is better able to process saturated fat. Subjects following the low-carb, high-fat diet not only ate three times more fat and burned it off better than those on the low-fat, high-carb diet, but also produced far less fat than those eating the low-fat diet.
When I read study after study on the effects of low-fat diet, and see people struggling to lose a few pounds by eating tasteless crap, I feel glad and sad. Glad that there are people like Dr. Eades out there, providing valuable information to help people figure out a healthy diet, and sad that so many buy into the low fat path to failure.
I will be posting some great recipes here in the weeks to come, as well as sample daily menus. But one of the best things about eating low carb is the simplicity of menu planning. Just eat meat, fish, eggs, a little hard cheese, and your chosen fat source (olive oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, ghee, or butter).
Now, off to enjoy my juicy T-bone!