I’ve written at length about how a low carb, high protein, high fat diet has allowed me, as a Type 2 Diabetic, to control my blood sugar levels without medication.
Controlling my Diabetes through this lifestyle change shouldn’t be revolutionary but it is. The medical community as a whole defaults to medicine to fix the symptoms instead of driving down to the cause of the problem and recommending lifestyle changes.
The Paleo diet, which is basically what I’m on, has been around a while and you can go here to read all about it and read many of the peer reviewed journal articles that have been written about it. The more I learn about how our modern diet filled with processed foods and carbohydrates leads to weight gain, joint inflammation and heart problems, the more I’m amazed how silent the medical community is on this topic and why we aren’t all talking more about it.
My frustration turned to excitement this week when I heard an NPR story that revealed how the fat free meme of the 1990’s was actually bad for us.
“Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s?”
“I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful,” Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.”
“Back then, she avoided all kinds of foods with fat: cheese, eggs, meat, even nuts and avocados. Most of the experts were recommending a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease.”
“And, as a result, her diet was full of sugar (lots of fat-free, sugary yogurt) and carbohydrates, like bagels.”
“[Carbs] were the base of the pyramid,” says Mozaffarian. The message was “eat all carbohydrates you want.”
“Americans took this as a green light to eat more refined grains such as breads, processed snack foods and white pasta.”
And Ms. Stafford wasn’t alone. Most of America switched to high sugar foods and carbs as a substitute for fat and we patted ourselves on the back for making this healthy choice. As a runner, I had it beaten in my head that I had to carbo-load before a big workout or I would risk hitting the wall. Glycogen was the main fuel our muscles needed to burn and Carbs (that would be converted to sugars and then glycogen) were the primary source of this fuel.
But was that the right thing to do?
There were attempts of some in the scientific community to question this low fat, high carb diet but they were silenced.
From the NPR article:
“But, by the mid-1990s, Willett says, there were already signs that the high-carb, low-fat approach might not lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes. He had a long-term study underway that was aimed at evaluating the effects of diet and lifestyle on health.”
“We were finding that if people seemed to replace saturated fat — the kind of fat found in cheese, eggs, meat, butter — with carbohydrate, there was no reduction in heart disease,” Willett says.”
“Willett submitted his data to a top medical journal, but he says the editors would not publish his findings. His paper was turned down.”
“There was a lot of resistance to anything that would question the low-fat guidelines,” Willett says, especially the guidelines on saturated fat.”
The pharmaceutical industry had a steady cash flow that that was threatened by this lifestyle/diet solution so they didn’t want this type of information published. Even the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that a person with Diabetes can consume up to 270 grams of carbs per day and that is like telling an alcoholic he can drink wine with breakfast. The ADA is obviously more concerned will selling medication than helping people live long, healthy lives.
The ADA makes this statement about eating 270 grams of carbs per day because: 1) their guidelines for what is considered high blood sugar (130 mg/dL fasting and 180 mg/dL after a meal) are still above the level of a non-diabetic person (100 mg/dL fasting and 140 mg/dL after a meal) and 2) they count on the medication to keep the sugar spikes from occurring.
But that is not the solution! Even slightly elevated levels of blood sugar, over a long time, will do damage to your body’s organs and following the advice of the ADA is just ensuring the slow, painful death that most diabetics eventually succumb to (amputating limbs, heart failure, etc.).
Thankfully, we are now starting to realize that fat (the good kind) is not the evil food we once thought it was.
From the NPR article:
“Now, nearly two decades later, a more complicated picture has emerged of how fats and carbohydrates contribute to heart disease.”
“For instance, it’s clearer that some fats, namely plant-based fats found in nuts and olive oil, as well as those found in fatty fish, are beneficial. Willett says there’s strong evidence that they help reduce the risk of heart disease.”
“There’s now evidence that — compared with carbs — saturated fat can raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and lower trigylcerides in the blood, which are both countering effects to heart disease, he says.”
“So, the message here seems to be: Cut back on all those refined carbs, and remember that some fat is good.”
My daily diet consists of around 125 grams of protein, 125 grams of fat and less than 50 grams of carbs (obtained from vegetables, fruit and nuts). My fat comes from avocados, nuts, eggs, meat (yes, even bacon!), cheese, mayonnaise (not the lite kind, the full leaded version) and oils such as coconut oil. Food tastes great, I’m building muscle, my blood sugar measurements are still in the normal range of a non-diabetic and I not only have lost weight but I’m keeping it off.
I still lift weights, run and ride a bike for exercise and I can do all this because my body has switched from burning glycogen to burning fat. Full disclosure, it took a couple of months for my body to make that adjustment but once it did, I am now a fat burning machine and even though I don’t carbo-load anymore, I still can ride a bike for 1 -2 hours and not hit the wall.
This is the message that should be pushed all across America right now from the office water coolers to the physician examining rooms – Carbs are bad. Protein is good. Fat is good.