By Dr. Mercola
Why we get fat and what to do about it is an ongoing topic on Uprising Radio in interviews with researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute. In their latest studies, researchers looked at science and decades of obesity rates, and found that some old paradigms on the cause of weight gain could be off-track. They also learned that people wanting to lose weight may have more choices in how to go about it, than they thought.
"Overweight and obese people appear to really have options when choosing a weight-loss program, including a low-carb diet, even if it means eating more fat," says the studies' lead investigator, a professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology, Kerry Stewart, Ed.D.
Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet Found to be Successful for Weight Loss
Conventional advice has focused on low-fat diets for weight loss and heart disease prevention, but again and again, researchers are now confirming that refined carbohydrates from sugars and grains is the primary culprit behind skyrocketing obesity rates, along with related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Historical data also clearly shows that when indigenous cultures abandon their traditional diets for a Western style diet high in sugar and flour, they inevitably begin to suffer these health problems, even though they have been virtually nonexistent in their culture before.
As discussed in the featured audio, you simply must address the carb issue in your diet in order to successfully manage your weight and improve your health...
In a recent study, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Heart and Vascular Institute again confirmed this theory, when they compared the effects of two diets on vascular health; one low in fat, the other low in carbs. The study in question was presented at this year's meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, on June 3.
The study included a total of 46 men and women weighing on average 218 pounds. The six-month long weight loss program consisted of moderate aerobic exercise and strength training, and one of two diets, either:
- Low-carb, high-fat: Less than 30 percent of calories from carbs (pastas, breads and sugary fruits), and up to 40 percent from fats (meat, dairy products, and nuts)
- Low-fat, high-carb diet: Less than 30 percent of calories from fat, and 55 percent from carbs
The low-carb group on average shed 10 pounds in 45 days, while the low-fat group took 70 days to lose the same amount of weight. In terms of vascular health, the low-carb, high-fat dieters showed no harmful vascular changes, which is the primary reason for why so many are afraid of high-fat diets.
According to Stewart:
"Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide re-assurance that both types of diet are effective at weight loss and that a low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health. More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option."
Stewart also believes that the emphasis on low-fat diets has likely contributed to the obesity epidemic in the US by promoting overconsumption of sugars and grains. I couldn't agree more. The simple reason for this is that grains and sugars raise your insulin levels, which causes insulin resistance and, ultimately, weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Two Keys to Curb Out-of-Control Obesity…
If you want to shed excess pounds or maintain an ideal weight, you need to:
- Severely restrict carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains), and
- Increase healthy fat consumption
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to shift your diet away from processed foods toward a diet of whole (preferably organic) foods. By doing this, you automatically avoid VAST amounts of fructose, which is one of the top four sources of calories in the US. If you develop the habit of reading labels, you'll find that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in just about everything—including food items you'd never expect, such as diet foods, 'enhanced' water products, and even infant formulas!
You'll also want to radically reduce the amount of refined grains in your diet, such as breakfast cereals, breads, bagels, waffles and so-forth, as these quickly break down to sugar, which will raise your insulin levels and cause insulin resistance. It's important to remember that insulin resistance is the number one underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease known to man, including heart disease. Avoiding all types of grain-based processed goods will also automatically help you avoid health-harming trans fats, which commercially baked goods of all kinds are notoriously high in.
As you're reducing or eliminating refined carbs from your diet, you'll want to increase your fat consumption, and yes, that means saturated fats. (Again, avoid trans fats like margarine and vegetable oils, as they are the ones causing the cardiovascular health problems more commonly associated with saturated fats.)
Saturated fats are not only good for you; they are essential for proper cellular and hormonal function. They also provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet—a source of energy that is far more ideal than carbohydrates—which is why I chose these two specific "keys" in combination, because when you cut down on carbs, you generally need to increase your fat consumption. However, while eating grains and sugars raise your insulin levels and promote insulin resistance, eating fat does not.
Keep in mind that you should NOT cut vegetable carbs from your diet. When we're talking about harmful carbs, we're only referring to grains and sugars. On the contrary, you actually need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat since, by volume, the grains you need to trade out are denser than vegetables. To help you get started on the right track, review my Nutritional Plan, which guides you through these dietary changes one step at a time.
How Fructose Causes Obesity and Poor Health
I want to place special emphasis on fructose as a source of carbohydrates that must be strictly monitored, because fructose is by far the worst of the bunch. Thanks to the excellent work of researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Richard Johnson, we now know that fructose:
- Is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat
- Tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body's appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone"), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
- Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
- Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose is:
'Isocaloric but not isometabolic."
This means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count. This is largely because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine, among other things, how much fat you accumulate.
This also explains why calorie counting doesn't work. You simply must take the type of nutrient into account.
Mounting and compelling evidence tells us that if you want to shed excess pounds and radically reduce (and in many cases virtually eliminate) your risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, then restricting your fructose consumption is essential. In fact, fructose is so detrimental to health that you cannot even compensate for it by exercising, even if you follow my Peak Fitness program. It can nullify many of the benefits of your hard work, including preventing the production of human growth hormone (HGH).
Therefore, I strongly advise everyone to limit your consumption to a maximum of 25 grams per day, with a maximum of 15 grams from whole fruit. If you're already overweight, have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease (or are at high risk of any of them) then you're probably better off cutting that down to a total of 10-15 grams per day, including that from fruit. As you can see in this table, some fruits are very high in fructose, so munching indiscriminately could really set you back.
What You Need to Know about Fats
As mentioned earlier, when you cut carbs you need to replace the grains and sugars with vegetables. But you also need to add fat in order to maintain your energy levels. However, the quality of the fats is very important. Loading up on margarine and vegetable oils is asking for trouble as these types of trans fats have been linked to:
✓ Cancer: They interfere with enzymes your body uses to fight cancer
✓ Decreased immune function: They reduce your immune response
✓ Diabetes: They interfere with the insulin receptors in your cell membranes
✓ Problems with reproduction: They interfere with enzymes needed to produce sex hormones
✓ Heart disease: Trans fats can cause major clogging of your arteries
At the other end of the spectrum you have saturated fats, which are:
✓ Preferred fuel for your heart
✓ Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
✓ Useful for lowering cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
✓ Carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and required for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes
✓ Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti fungal agents (lauric acid)
✓ Modulators of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid)
Sources of healthy fats that you'll want to add to your diet include:
✓ Olives and Olive oil (for cold dishes)
✓ Coconuts, and coconut oil (for all types of cooking and baking)
✓ Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
✓ Raw Nuts, such as, almonds or pecans
✓ Organic pastured egg yolks
✓ Grass fed meats
✓ Palm oil
✓ Unheated organic nut oils
Another healthful fat you want to be mindful of is animal-based omega-3. Deficiency in this essential fat can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. For more information about omega-3's and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.