Low-Carb Diets Are More Relevant In 2010 Than Ever Before
Posted Jan 01 2010 4:11pm
The constant weeping and gnashing of teeth over low-carb has been futile
Nearly ten years ago, the American Heart Association (AHA), one of the leading health advocacy groups in the United States, released an infamous advisory paper warning unsuspecting and none-the-wiser people about the alleged dangers to their health of going on a low-carb diet. It was met with great fanfare and raucous cheering from all those so-called health “experts” who have long believed the “high-protein” (actually, most controlled-carb diets are more accurately described as “high-fat” and “moderate-protein”) low-carb diets will lead to the destruction of the health of millions of Americans. They booed and hissed and booed and hissed some more attempting as hard as they possibly could to discourage people from following a healthy carbohydrate-restricted lifestyle change.
One decade later, the truth about livin’ la vida low-carb remains intact: people are losing tons of weight, but, more importantly, they are coming off of prescription medications they’ve taken for years, feeling and looking better than they ever have in their entire life, significantly lowering their chance of ever having a cardiovascular event, controlling their blood sugar and insulin levels especially for those with Type 2 diabetes, preventing predictable neurological diseases and cancers from happening, and realizing just how bamboozled they have been for far too many years believing in the low-fat lie. It’s as if people who have successfully transitioned themselves from being morbidly obese and decidedly unhealthy into a more normal weight and in stellar health on a low-carb lifestyle don’t even exist anymore. POOF, we’ve just disappeared!
But I’m here to tell you — WE’RE STILL HERE and we’re not going away!
Dr. Robert Eckel is a past president of the American Heart Association
One of the members of both academia and research that has long been a thorn in the side of those sharing the science behind low-carb diets has been Dr. Robert H. Eckel from The University of Colorado School of Medicine. He was the senior author of the advisory paper scorning low-carb diets in 2001 for endangering the lives of the people who choose to eat this way. As you will notice from this quote by Dr. Eckel in March of that year, much of what he is “concerned” about is not based on any Level 1 medical evidence but rather his opinions grounded in whatever.
“[Low-carb diets] put people at risk for heart disease and we’re really concerned about that. Long-term, the saturated fat and cholesterol content of the diet will raise the … bad cholesterol and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly heart attacks.”
See how these jokers like Dr. Eckel just automatically ASSUME that people are at risk for heart disease as their starting premise? These ever-present “experts” pretend to follow the science and yet they bring their own personal bias into every conversation about low-carb. How can he say with a straight face that “long-term” negative results will happen when they are the ones who have quite often said there are no long-term studies on livin’ la vida low-carb? Low-fat diet guru Dr. Dean Ornish told me in my 2006 blog interview that “the burden of proof” falls on low-carb advocates to prove the extended effects on health. So which is it? By the way, if you want to see an excellent explanation of the multitude of long-term studies that have been conducted on the high-fat, low-carb diets over the past few years, then be sure to check out this YouTube video from my fellow triple-digit Atkins weight loss success story Kent Altena.
The fact is you cannot point the finger of blame for heart attacks and coronary heart disease happening as a result of people following popular high-fat, low-carb diets like Atkins, Protein Power, Zone, Sugar Busters, or any of the rest of the plans out there like the AHA claims on their web site to this very day. The biggest culprit in heart disease and cardiovascular events in 2010 America is inflammation which is made worse and worse by the excessive consumption of carbohydrates both in the form of sugar (which ironically the AHA recommended reducing starting in August 2009) as well as starchy vegetables and most fruits. As Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Richard Feinman found in a study published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Lipids, the markers of inflammation from a very low-carb diet “reduced inflammation” compared with a traditional high-carb, low-fat diet. Dr. Eckel and the like can try to ignore this and other compelling evidence in the medical literature, but it’s there just as plain as day.
Of course, none of that matters to him or the multitude of others who have bought hook, line, and sinker into the whole diet/heart hypothesis (listen to my recent podcast interview with Chris Masterjohn for more on this) which contends that consuming dietary fat (and especially that dastardly evil saturated fat!) will raise your cholesterol levels which will in turn lead to clogged arteries and an eventual life-threatening heart attack. This is the heartbeat of the continued existence of what I refer to as “educated ignorance.” The more we think we know, the less we actually do. Dr. Eckel is a prime example of this.
“But what I see after people have lost weight on such a [low-carb] diet, then their weight stabilizes for a period of weeks or months and often the cholesterol, particularly the bad cholesterol, now becomes more elevated … many people’s LDL cholesterol goes up if they remain on the diet after they’ve successfully lost the weight.”
While it may be true that some people see an increase in their LDL cholesterol, Dr. Eckel, it’s irrelevant when it comes to heart health. LDL and total cholesterol have about as much to do with heart disease as Tiger Woods does to fidelity. They are not as important a factor as say HDL cholesterol levels (which should be above 50) and triglycerides (ideally should be below 100) as well as CRP markers for inflammation. The best way to raise HDL is by eating more fat and the perfect way to see triglycerides plummet is by significantly reducing your carbohydrates. When this happens, the LDL particle size will be predominantly the large, fluffy kind that you want to protect against atherosclerosis and your inflammation is significantly reduced. In other words, the most heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory diet you can consume looks to be a high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach.
So the notion that a “high” level of LDL is somehow putting you in danger of having a heart attack is ridiculous. And the insistence that so many medical doctors have on prescribing more and more dangerous statin drugs such as Lipitor and Crestor to lower your cholesterol continues on despite the severe cost in both quality of life and overall health. Lower cholesterol does not protect you against heart disease or death, so what’s the point? Just look at former NBC News host Tim Russert who died at the age of 58 in June 2008. Wanna know what his cholesterol was? LDL was 68, HDL was 37 and a total cholesterol level of 105. Did his “low cholesterol” protect him from a tragic ending of his life? Not hardly.
His is but one example of literally millions that are out there who are stuck listening to people who should know better like Dr. Eckel. They’re being lied to about what’s allegedly good about low-fat diets and about what’s supposedly bad about low-carb ones. Quite frankly, I think people are getting so disgusted and frustrated by their own personal failures year after year after year that they’ve just given up on doing anything for the sake of their health. And that is such a shame! We are all individuals with specific needs that fit our metabolic makeup. Trying to make us one-size-fits-all when it comes to the diet for controlling our weight and health is preposterous, which is what makes the upcoming release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines a big fat joke!
Nutritionist Dr. Judith Stern from The University of California-Davis
Not to be outdone in showing an outright vile hatred for all things related to livin’ la vida low-carb in response to the AHA advisory paper in 2001, Dr. Judith S. Stern from the Department of Nutrition at UC-Davis was quoted by CNN sharing her very professional and objective response to what she thinks of the health claims made by Dr. Robert C. Atkins about his diet.
“You want my response to Atkins’ saying that [his diet] can lower your cholesterol and do all sorts of good things for your heart? You know what my response is? Bull—-!”
Well! That’s certainly a scientific reaction, Dr. Stern! And very revealing of the propagandist mentality that is still out there all these years later. It’s now 2010 and the same old tired tactics by those who opposed healthy low-carb living are being tried. But people are refusing to accept the premise that high-carb, low-fat diets for everyone is the be-all, end-all anymore. An educated public is one that will bring about cataclysmic shifts in thinking and I believe this next decade will be when it happens. It HAS to happen now if we are going to put a halt in what Dr. Atkins referred to as diabesity — the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity!
But, as this blog comment that I receive just today reveals, we are fighting an uphill battle against massive misinformation that pervades our culture:
Emerging evidence suggests that ketogenic diets may “create metabolic derangement conducive to cardiac conduction abnormalities and/or myocardial dysfunction”–in other words cause other potentially life-threatening heart problems as well. Ketogenic diets have also been shown in the medical literature to cause a pathological enlargement of the heart called cardiomyopathy, which is reversible, but only if the diet is stopped in time. The Atkins Corporation denies that Dr. Atkins’ own cardiomyopathy-induced heart attack, hypertension, and blocked arteries had anything to do with his diet. But it is important to counter these ridiculous claims with reality. Atkins had not only cardiomyopathy but high blood pressure and aththerosclerosis according to his medical record. These diseases are not caused by viruses. In fact, even viral-induced cardiomyopathy is thought to be caused by low levels of fruit and vegetables in the diet. You can’t escape from biological laws of cause and effect; all people eventually pay a price for eating dangerously.
If you’re new to livin’ la vida low-carb, then just realize right off the bat that you’re gonna hear a lot of negativity about your diet. It’s almost like a rite of passage for low-carb living to hear all that criticism and scorn about what you’re doing to your health when you stick with it anyway. I’ve been eating this way for exactly six years today and I STILL have people wondering what I’m doing to my health. My response is this: “WHEN am I supposed to see my health start to decline?” I’m as healthy as an ox and I’ve got the low-carb lifestyle to thank for it! With all the emerging studies on low-carb diets and people finding incredible success with both their weight and health goals, I’d say that low-carb diets are more relevant now in 2010 than ever before!