More and more studies are showing that diets low in carbohydrates have benefits far beyond maintaining weight loss.
In conclusion, low-carbohydrate diets, regardless of the type of protein and fat, are associated with a lower risk of pancreatic cancer in the US population, suggesting that adherence to low-carbohydrate-diets may be beneficial for pancreatic cancer prevention. Future studies should validate our findings in other populations.
More and more evidence shows that the high risk factors for dying from COVID-19 can be reversed within weeks when going on a low carb diet. Almost immediately blood sugars stabilize, people become less insulin resistant, and inflammation throughout the body goes down.
Other studies have found that dietary changes can rapidly and substantially improve cardiovascular risk factors, including conditions like hypertension that are major risk factors for worsened Covid-19 outcomes. A 2011 study in the journal Obesity on 300 clinic patients eating a very low-carbohydrate diet saw blood pressure quickly drop and remain low for years. And a 2014 trial on 148 subjects, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found a low-carb diet to be “more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction” than a low-fat control diet at the end of the 1-year experiment.
In a previous post I discussed what metabolic syndrome is and its possible causes. Here I’ll discuss what you may be able to do to reverse or prevent it.
To start you can immediately reduce your consumption of carbohydrates. It’s not to say you need to eliminate them from your diet but if you have a sugar addiction or have difficulty staying away from breads, cereals, and other grains it is in your best interest to find substitutes to remove as much from your diet as you can.
This is where the Keto Diet or a High Fat Low Carb (HFLC) diet comes into play. By removing carbs from your daily consumption you can start to immediately reverse some of the issues that lead to obesity and type-2 diabetes. The higher consumption of protein and fat on an HFLC diet allows you to feel full and satisfied, also known as satiety. When you feel satiated you can go longer without eating. And with the removal of carbs from your diet, you won’t suffer the spikes in insulin which will contribute to greater insulin sensitivity.
You can also try what is now known as Intermittent Fasting. It’s not some crazy thing where you stop eating for days on end. It’s simply cutting out some of your meals and limiting the time you eat to a certain time window of the day.
I started this well over 25 years ago just on a whim. I was getting heavier and approaching 200 lbs. I didn’t ever want to see the scale hit that number so I decided to change my eating habits by eating only when hungry. The first meal I cut out was breakfast. I was rarely hungry in the mornings and breakfast actually got in the way of reading the morning paper. So since the day I decided to go down that route I simply have a cup of coffee while reading the news in the morning. I was able to next skip lunch. It seemed the longer I went without eating the less hungry I became. For a long time now I have been eating only one large meal per day with maybe a snack in the evenings. It can be done and without even thinking about will power.
Prevention Magazine provides a bunch of recipes for those wanting some high protein low carb meals. Most are pretty obvious but I’m interested in the salmon with roasted red pepper sauce.
They do serve up a little misinformation though. For example:
But while some people benefit from limiting their carb intake—say, you have trouble controlling your blood sugar—a keto-style low-carb diet can be tough to follow. (I mean, is a life without sweet potatoes or even blueberries worth living?!) Not to mention, a diet predominately high in protein and fat will likely lack fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
Another study is showing that limiting intake of carbohydrates allows those with Type-2 Diabetes to better control their blood sugar.
Patients with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to regulate blood sugar levels if they eat food with a reduced carbohydrate content and an increased share of protein and fat. This is shown by a recent study conducted at Bispebjerg Hospital in collaboration with, among other partners, Aarhus University and the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen. The findings are contrary to the conventional dietary recommendations for type 2 diabetics. Nutritional therapy is important to treat the type 2 diabetes optimally, but the recommendations are unclear. According to the Danish Health Authority, up to 85% of newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight, and they are typically advised to follow a diet focused on weight loss: containing less calories than they burn, low fat content and a high content of carbohydrates with a low ‘glycaemic index’ (which indicates how quickly a food affects blood sugar levels).
Passing off people who are on a low carb diet as cultists who ignore science is not a good way to put forth your argument. Especially since there is now a great deal of science behind the benefits of going low carb.
While a diet high in full-fat dairy, butter, ghee and coconut oil can help us feel fuller for longer and reduce our sugar cravings, too much saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood, which can lead to “furred up” arteries and an increased chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
The quote above from the article is highly simplistic with its claims regarding cholesterol. We now know in order to determine if you have a cholesterol problem that you need to do a deep dive into your HDL and LDL levels. It’s far more complex than just seeing higher levels.
As to why we have the rates of obesity and diabetes that we do? While low carb high-fat proponents say it’s because the food pyramid is a lie, medical professionals at places like the British Dietetic Association “believe it’s less that the guidelines are wrong, and more that we aren’t following them,” (BBC).
Anyone who has looked into the “Food Pyramid” knows that it is, in fact, a lie. It’s based on faulty science perpetrated by Ancel Keys and the agriculture and processed food industries.
The article gives some bad advice as its conclusion by telling its readers to swap out saturated fat for whole grains (bad), high quality protein (good), non-saturated fats (bad), fresh fruit (bad), and vegetables (can be good). At least they do recommend staying away from sugar and refined carbohydrates.
I’ve read this in several places now in both books and articles and hopefully it’s a promising way to treat the Alzheimer’s Disease. The basic idea is that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s can’t metabolize glucose and people on a low carb or keto diet rely on metabolizing ketones rather than glucose. Therefore, their brains are able to function better because their bodies are using something their brains can also use for energy.
The study discussed in this article is super tiny so until a really large study is conducted no one knows for sure. But, wouldn’t it be great to treat a disease as bad as Alzheimer’s with what you eat rather than with pharmaceuticals?
In all, 12 participants were assigned to the NIA group and 15 were assigned to the MAD group. The researchers found that participants on the Atkins diet had increased memory and energy, compared to participants on the NIA diet who decreased memory and had lower energy. It should be noted that the researchers found it difficult to find participants to enroll in the study, as many individuals did not want to change their diets, and nine of those who did enroll eventually dropped out, reporting they didn’t want to consume a diet any longer. Considering the study was only 12 weeks long, the results do not conclusively suggest a low carbohydrate diet is an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, but suggest that there is merit in further research on the topic.
The sound advice given by the nutritionist in this article can be summed up by the idea of watch your macros and your calories. While we now know weight loss and gain is not as simple as calories in/calories out it is true that calories still do have impact. If you’re consuming too many you will gain weight.
The problem comes when the nutritionist puts for the old idea of your brain requiring carbohydrates as its main fuel source. We now know as well that the brain uses ketones and can easily forgo glucose. So, take what you read with a grain of salt… and maybe a pat of butter… and perhaps even a strip of bacon.
“Fat contains more calories than carbohydrate (which isn’t a bad thing in the slightest!) so it may be worth monitoring your energy intake if the purpose of the diet is for weight loss.” Eating a calorie deficit is key for weight loss, and so those eating a new high fat diet may mistakenly eat more calories than they are used to switching to a low-carb diet.