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Like most people I know, I’ve tried a load of different ways to lose weight. I’d work out 7 days a week, would eat all sorts of ‘healthy foods’ like brown bread, brown pasta and brown rice. My main focus, however, was to eat a low fat diet. This is the advice recommended by the NHS and British Heart Foundation, as fat, especially saturated fat, has been ‘proven’ to increase cholesterol, the risk of heart attacks, and is the cause of the so called ‘obesity epidemic’. Needless to say, this kind of diet left me tired, dissatisfied, and generally pretty miserable, AND, surprise surprise, I didn’t really lose any weight.
Last November, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. I started testing my blood 5 times a day and injecting insulin to bring down my blood sugar, which was high as a result of the carbohydrates I was eating. This got me thinking: carbohydrates raise blood sugar, raised blood sugar leads to all sorts of health complications like nerve damage, heart disease and visual impairments to name a few. Surely, if I reduced my carbohydrate intake, I wouldn’t have to inject insulin as much and I’d reduce the risk of these complications?
I did a quick internet search on insulin and low carbohydrate diets, and what I found was astonishing; pages and pages of published scientific research demonising carbohydrates for raising cholesterol, causing heart disease and obesity. This didn’t really make sense to me, as all of the government advice has been to eat a high carb, low fat diet. I had to delve a little deeper, so I researched the effects of a high fat diet. What I found shocked me. There were books, articles and peer reviewed journals related to the health benefits of fat; how it does not raise LDL (bad cholesterol) but does raise HDL (good cholesterol), and how it can actually reduce the likelihood of heart attacks.
The more I started to think, the more this really made sense. If you think about pre-civilisation, when humans relied on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, we did not eat pasta. We had no sophisticated mills or ovens to make bread. We most certainly weren’t eating chips from the chippy. We evolved as a result of a diet based on animal fat, maybe with some berries thrown in for good measure. This began to make intuitive sense to me, so I gave the diet a go.
For anyone that knows me, before this diet, I could eat 3500+ calories a day without feeling particularly full. I would always crave sweet foods; cookies, cake, brownies, you name it. There was always room for it. I decided to quit all this, along with bread, pasta, rice, flour and some root vegetables, and replace these with high fat foods; bacon, eggs, cream, cheese, sausages etc. All of a sudden, I started to feel full, I lost weight and my blood sugars became stable without the need for five injections per day. What were the cons? There weren’t any.
In terms of the science behind all this, it’s pretty simple, and once you get your head around this, you’ll realise why all low fat diets are inherently wrong. In simple terms, insulin is the hormone that makes your body store fat. Carbohydrates increase the pancreas’ secretion of insulin. Therefore, carbohydrates make you store fat.
So, why does every diet guide and doctor and campaign and brand and clinician and Joe Bloggs recommend you stop eating fat and eat loads of carbs? For me, the answer is simple. Money. Consider Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and all other brands and shops that encourage a low fat lifestyle. They make millions a year promoting such a diet. If there was a reform in advice, all of these businesses would go to pot. Everything would have to be marketed differently. The cost of changing packaging, advertising and research would simply not outweigh the benefits of supporting this diet revolution. So really, when we question why the West is struggling with an obesity epidemic, it seems pretty obvious to me. Yes, some people eat too much. Yes, some people eat fried chicken when they should probably be eating some lettuce. But, I think the real issue here is a lack of information; the current doctrine is based on shoddy ‘scientific’ research from the 80s and I think it’s just about time people knew what was really making them obese and unhealthy.
If you want any more information on this I’d strongly recommended the documentary ‘Fat Brain’, which can be found on Youtube.