Why Fad Diets Don’t Work, and How to Spot Them

I’m going to be That Guy™ who jumps in and says cutting out carbs isn’t a fad diet. Doctors have experimented with keto diets to treat various health issues since the 1930s, and it clearly brings results, not even just weight loss. It’s silly to make the claim that just because something is popular, it should be avoided as a “fad diet”. Do the research, read arguments from both sides of a debate, and make your own decision.

That said, there is a lot of research supporting the Mediterranean diet.

Presenter for Great British Bake Off Spinoff Can’t Eat Cakes Due to Low-Carb Diet

What is your vision of hell? My vision of hell is being selected as a presenter for a TV baking competition and being unable to taste the desserts because I’m stuck on a low-carb diet.

Source: Presenter for Great British Bake Off Spinoff Can’t Eat Cakes Due to Low-Carb Diet

The Great British Bakeoff is amazing. I’ve been binging it all week, watching Series 6. The only season on Netflix is PBS season 1, UK series 5, and the next season to come to Netflix will be PBS season 2, UK series 4 (weird, right?). So I’m watching all the ones around that so that I can binge on Netflix properly when the next season gets uploaded.

Low-Carb Beats Low-Fat in a Meta-Study of 17 Clinical Trials

In a new study published in the Journal PLOS ONE, a meta-analysis of seventeen randomized clinical trials provides insight into the relative benefits of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets in terms of weight lost, cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events. The seventeen clinical trials used for meta-analysis included a total of 1,797 patients over the age of eighteen who all lacked co-morbidities other than dyslipidemia. Each trial randomly assigned patients to treatment groups and included at least eight weeks of follow-up.

Source: Low-carb beats low-fat in a meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials

This also fits well with our understanding of the GI system. When broken down fat progresses through your stomach and hits your duodenum, cholecystokinin (CCK) is released by duodenal enteroendocrine cells. This peptide hormone causes bile to be released, but it also slows the rate of stomach emptying and generally makes you feel more satiated. In other words, all things being being equal (size, calorie content, etc.) a fatty meal will make you feel more full than a meal high in carbohydrates. This is obviously just one component at play, but I think this does make a lot of sense.

The problem is that protein and fat are expensive, but carbs are cheap. It’s cheap because the government heavily subsidizes corn (carbohydrates), and subsequently corn is involved in almost every inexpensive food product (IE high fructose corn syrup is everywhere).

The study was funded by Atkins Nutritionals, a corporation founded by Dr. Robert Atkins for the promotion of low-carbohydrate diets.  The studies included in the meta analysis were not funded by Atkins however.  Which means the studies were cherry-picked…

Replace Carbs with Cauliflower to Stick to a Low-Carb or Paleo Diet

…cauliflower is currently undergoing a revival as a saving grace for low-carb or Paleo dieters. In fact, my cauliflower rice article was one of the most popular, and it seems the uses of cauliflower are getting more and more inspired – or strange; I’ll let you decide.

Source: clever ways to swap carbs for cauliflower

Carbohydrates aren’t inherently bad for you, but cauliflower is one of the world’s healthiest foods. So even if you’re not on a low-carb diet, you might want to try these substitutions.

Study: Increase Saturated Fat Food Does NOT Show Increase in Blood

Doubling or even nearly tripling saturated fat in the diet does not drive up total levels of saturated fat in the blood, according to a controlled diet study.

However, increasing levels of carbohydrates in the diet during the study promoted a steady increase in the blood of a fatty acid linked to an elevated risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The finding “challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn’t correlate with disease,” said senior author Jeff Volek, a professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

Source: Study: Doubling Saturated Fat in the Diet Does Not Increase Saturated Fat in Blood

Emphasis is mine!  Not the first time with news that Low-Carb > Low-Fat diet.

“There is no magical carb level, no cookie-cutter approach to diet, that works for everyone,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in personalized nutrition, and using a dynamically changing biomarker could provide some index as to how the body is processing carbohydrates.”

Why Experts Now Think You Should Eat More Fat

According to a new study from the National Institutes of Health, a diet that reduces carbohydrates in favor of fat – including the saturated fat in meat and butter – improves nearly every health measurement, from reducing our waistlines to keeping our arteries clear, more than the low-fat diets that have been recommended for generations. “The medical establishment got it wrong,” says cardiologist Dennis Goodman, director of Integrative Medicine at New York Medical Associates. “The belief system didn’t pan out.”

Source: Why Experts Now Think You Should Eat More Fat

Related reads:

Most Diets Boil Down to: Eat More Vegetables

There is so much controversy about the right diet for optimum health and fitness and it seems like the rules are constantly changing… …The truth is that they are all variants of the “eat more vegetables” diet, which in my opinion, is the only diet that has ever been proven to really work.

Source: How To Get Fit Even When You Hate Exercise

That said:

  • You can have all the vegetables in the world, pour on the cheese sauce and high calorie salad dressings on and still be just as bad as your average fast food consumer.
  • Volume/calories: portion control can be a factor.  I used to “reward” myself by eating after a workout – at best, I was just “eating it all back”.

Major New Study: Low-Carb > Low-Fat Diet

By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity.

While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat. They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,’ Dr. Mozaffarian said. ‘Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that’s a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high-fat group did so metabolically well.’ …

In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group. Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group.

Source: NY Times, Study abstract

From my own experience, portion control has been responsible for my weight loss.  Exercise accelerated/helped, but it took some time to realize I was “eating it all back” because I would justify the intake because I’d “just work it off”.  Now that I’m approaching my goal, I’m focusing on eating healthier and don’t mind eating more because the calorie deficit has to end or I risk self-cannibalization (eating muscle for energy).