Low Fat Diet Through the Decades

Changing to a low fat diet has been touted for years to be everyone’s answer to losing weight.  This meant cutting out red meat, pork, whole milk dairy products, eggs (nuts and salmon) and switching to a carb-centric diet.  All the studies done back in the mid 70’s through as recent as 2010 showed how high carb more vegetarian diets, helped people lose weight and be healthier. 

In 1975 Nathan Pritkin and his son Robert wrote many books about the high carb and low fat diet.  In fact, according to their plan, 80% of a person’s diet should be complex carbohydrates, 5-10% fats, and 10-15% protein.  Pritkin based his lifestyle program on native diets in Mexico, New Guinea, and South Africa.  In 1977, the government made recommendations that people should consume 55-60% of their calories from carbohydrates. 

In the 1980’s Dr. John McDougall claimed that his plan of 75-85% should be carbohydrates, with a low protein, low fat diet.  (I have two of his books and went to a webinar at a local college in the early 2000’s.)  Then in the late 80’s and 90’s fat-free diets were very popular along with tons of fat-free alternatives in boxes, bags, and the in frozen food section.  In the late 90’s gluten-free became popular, and then in the early 2000’s Americans got whole grains marketed to them by major companies like Post and Kellogg’s.  Meanwhile, studies show America has been getting fatter since the 1970’s (Harvard, 2009)  I’m not saying one has bearing on the other, but what is the miscommunication?

It’s Not the Fault of the Low Fat Diet!

In my personal experience with weight loss and dealing with people who lose weight and then put some back on,  I have found that fat (good kind), red meat (grass fed), dairy (non-homogenized, non-pasteurized), salmon (wild caught, not farm raised), eggs and pork (from the farmer, not mass produced), and small portions of nuts (not sprayed with chemicals) are not the culprits!  BUT, stress, chemicals, mass produced processed foods, sugar and too many carbohydrates (including gluten free products) are.

Low Fat Diet for Weight Loss

I’m also not saying to eat an out of balance amount of the above listed “non-culprits”.  Because if someone over indulges in those things they will store the extra fat if they are not exercising and burning those good calories off.  But what am I saying is that we need to understand what is going on the body and why people are gaining weight.  I have dealt with 1000’s of people (more women than men) since opening my business of weight loss and wellness that do NOT over eat and many times hardly eat any fat. They could be poster children for the “fat-free” movement. Talk about a low fat diet, some of my clients won’t even eat avocados.  So why are they overweight? From what I have seen it comes from two general sources: Sugar and Environment (outside and inside world, which I’ll explain what I mean in a minute).

The Sweet Culprit

Let’s look at what happens in the body.  First thing to understand is that insulin is the gate keeper of the cells.  When blood sugar levels (BSL’s) rise (due to diet, stress, or physical pain), insulin opens the gate of the cell and lets the fat in, otherwise, fat molecules are too large to enter the cells on their own.  So if someone is consuming a high carb diet, they have a higher chance of absorbing or storing fat, which might also be available in the food (like baked goods), or carbohydrates (no matter what kind – good or bad) break down into sugar, so again BSL’s rise.  When BSL’s rise they also fall as deep as they soared, so when that happens people get hungry, and of course they have to eat again.  This roller coaster is very common with my clients.   This is NOT as prevalent in people who are consuming healthy complex carbs, but even so, I and about half the population, cannot eat a whole banana or a whole sweet potato in one serving, I must eat half or I get tired. And, from my experience again both personally and professionally, people who are out of balance with even complex carbs many times have weight gain, energy issues, or hunger issues.  The best thing we can do is detox from sugar first, which my weight loss program is great at doing, and then figure out what we need by listening to our bodies, doing some of our own research, and expand our awareness about our food supply and environment. 

Low Fat Diet, Stress and Weight Gain

The Toxic Culprit

Next, the body is prone to hold fat whenever there are high amounts of toxins consumed.  Why?  Let’s start with the outside world. The detox organs (liver, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder) can only do so much.  If the body is inundated with toxic material, the liver wraps the toxins in fat (it’s the best insulator) and sends that toxic material to storage areas away from the organs.  Just a short list of what we are exposed to includes pharmaceuticals, pesticides, GMO food, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, hormones (dairy and beef),  food dyes, preservatives, chemicals, fluoride, chlorine, house hold cleaners, air quality.  When you start looking into these, it’s no wonder Americans are gaining weight.  And what about the inside world?  We don’t get enough sleep, we are a stressed out nation with crazy hectic lifestyles, we love to eat and drink (what nation doesn’t?), and we are always plugged into some kind of technology with very little downtime.  Add all this up and we have over worked adrenals, thyroids, very overweight, stressed out, malnourished toxic people.

So a low fat diet is not the answer – neither is a high fat one, but let’s look at the ways we can eliminate sugar, toxins, and stress.  If that were a focus, we would all drop a few pounds, be healthier, and have a cleaner earth.