Dietary fat has long been blamed for causing obesity, but experts now say high-fat, low carb diets such as the Paleo, Atkins and ketogenic plans beat low-fat diets for weight loss because eating fat can make you skinny.
“The medical establishment got it wrong,” cardiologist Dr. Dennis Goodman told Men’s Journal. “The belief system didn’t pan out.” According to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health, low carb, high-fat diets (LCHF) are significantly more effective for weight loss and preventing heart disease than low-fat diets.
Researchers at Tulane University tracked 148 obese men and women for one year. The subjects ranged in age from 22 to 75 and did not have heart disease or diabetes. The participants were divided into two groups: One group followed a low-carb, high-fat diet that limited their daily carbohydrate consumption to about 40 grams, or 28 percent of their daily calories.
The low-carb dieters consumed about 40 to 43 percent of their daily calories from fat. Their daily menu was similar to the Paleo, ketogenic and Atkins diets, and included eggs, butter, fish, chicken and some red meat and generous portions of healthy fats such as olive oil.
In contrast, the low-fat group consumed 40 to 55 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates, and their fat intake was limited to less than 30 percent.
Low-Carb Dieters Lost Three Times More Weight Than Low-Fat Group
The results were stunning: The low carb dieters lost about 12 pounds, while the low-fat dieters lost only four pounds even though both groups consumed the same calories. What’s more, the low carbohydrate dieters lost more body fat and scored better than on a test that measured their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.
Physician Dr. Lydia Bazzano, the lead study author, was stunned that a low-carb, high-fat diet could prevent heart disease better than a low fat diet, which has long been prescribed for heart patients.
These results aren’t surprising to Jeff Volek, a leading low-carb researcher and professor at Ohio State University. Volek said high-carb diets cause blood sugar spikes, which fuel inflammation. Inflammation is what causes weight gain, as well as diabetes and cancer.
In contrast, dietary fat has a negligible effect on blood sugar and insulin, which is why eating fat aids weight loss. More importantly, we don’t fuel inflammation, which leads to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer, say experts.
While the idea of consuming more fat may sound shocking given the low-fat diet mantra that has dominated the standard American diet (SAD), Volek said we actually evolved to thrive on a low carb, high-fat diet. “For about 98 percent of human history, we’ve been eating low-carb,” Volek told me in an exclusive interview. “We evolved in a state of nutritional ketosis.”
Low carb diets accelerate weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for fuel in a metabolic state called ketosis, explained obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity. Westman, who has helped hundreds of morbidly obese people lose thousands of pounds on the high-fat Atkins, Paleo and ketogenic diets, said there’s no evidence saturated fat causes heart disease.
“The evidence for that has really disintegrated,” said Dr. Westman, a bariatric surgeon and director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.
The American Heart Association now concedes that refined carbs such as sugar and flour are what cause weight gain and has backed off its longtime stance of recommending low-fat diets to prevent heart attacks. “We no longer think low-fat diets are the answer,” said Dr. Linda Van Horn of the AHA Nutrition Committee.
Many celebrities have hopped on the low-carb bandwagon. Kim Kardashian famously lost 56 pounds on a low-carb ketogenic Atkins diet that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams. Similarly, Tim McGraw lost 40 pounds after adopting the Paleo diet, and is fitter than ever at age 47.
In addition to aiding weight loss, experts say the ketogenic and Paleo diets can prevent Alzheimer’s. Groundbreaking research also suggests the ketogenic diet prevents cancer and starves cancer cells. “The ketogenic diet is a single metabolic approach to a multitude of different diseases,” cancer scientist Dr. Thomas Seyfried of Boston College told me.