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Low-Carb Experts Comment On 2010 Dietary Guidelines, Headed To Washington Next Week To Testify

Posted Jun 30 2010 12:39pm

It’s been a couple of weeks now since that 13-member Advisory Committee for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their best recommendations for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the response from members of the low-carb community has been quite staggering in their underwhelmed opinion about what has been handed down as dietary truth like the Ten Commandments to Moses from the mountaintop! But, as I previously shared, what they are promoting as healthy nutrition to the American people is still very carbohydrate-heavy and fat-phobic to say the least with their recommendations for people to be eating even MORE carbs (you know, all those “healthy whole grains”) and to slash dietary fat, especially the dastardly “artery-clogging” saturated fat, even further. These asinine and archaic recommendations are still based on decades old propaganda (can you say Ancel Keys?!) that do not accurately reflect the most up-to-date research and information that we have at our disposal today. Be sure to read the scathing yet pointed commentary from across the low-carb/health blogosphere on this public sham put out by the USDA, including Sally Fallon Morell , Dana Carpender , Tom Naughton , Ed Bruske , Kristen Michaelis , Dr. Jonny Bowden , Mark Sisson , and Bonnie Minsky , just to name a few.

The level of incredulity and concern regarding the seemingly blatant miseducation of the American people about something as critical to their lives as how they should eat for optimal health led me to seek out some of my favorite low-carb and health expert friends from around the world to chime in on the issue. We are in a serious philosophical battle for reaching the hearts and minds of people who struggle with obesity, diabetes, and chronic diseases that could easily be preventable if the truth about things like saturated fat and carbohydrates was more clearly defined for people so they can make informed decisions for the health of themselves and their families. Many people are seeking out this alternative information on the Internet which is why I am constantly writing and talking about it every chance I can get. While you and I might not be looking to the USDA for dietary answers, sadly a lot of people are trusting that this 13-member panel knows exactly what they’re talking about–and nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s what some key voices in the real food, low-carb movement have to say:

JON & CATHY PAYNE , hosts of the Our Natural Health podcast

We are appalled but not surprised by the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Few people can actually follow recommendations like these, but those that do are likely to suffer severe health problems. The USDA focuses on nutrients as if they are divorced from real food. Where is the focus on unprocessed foods such as raw milk, butter, pastured eggs, green vegetables, moderate fruits and soaked beans and nuts? And up to 25% of calories from added sugar and less than 7% from saturated fat? Are they crazy? This is a prescription for more obesity, more diabetes, more insulin resistance, and more cardiovascular disease. My brother who was very lean, exercised daily, and followed the low-fat guidelines to prevent CVD died suddenly at the age of 54. I am grateful that Jon and I are eating and producing real food and are helping educate people to another point of view.

COLETTE HEIMOWITZ , nutritionist with Atkins Nutritionals

What evidence does FDA have to support its statement in its conclusion: “A moderate amount of evidence demonstrates that intake of dietary patterns with less than 45% calories from carbohydrate or more than 35% calories from protein are not more effective than other diets for weight loss or weight maintenance, are difficult to maintain over the long term, and may be less safe.” What evidence does FDA have to support the implication: “Diets that are less than 45 percent carbohydrate or more than 35 percent protein are difficult to adhere to, are not more effective than other calorie-controlled diets for weight loss and weight maintenance, and may pose health risk, and are therefore not recommended for weight loss or maintenance.” After reviewing their “scientific support,” I can’t help but conclude that there was imprecision and conflation in studies cited. Despite defining high protein diets as those constituting 35 percent or more of total calories as protein and low-carb diets as constituting less than 45 percent of total calories: The studies cited to support the conclusions that low-carbohydrate diets are ineffective for weight loss and may be unsafe vary widely in macronutrient profile. Many do not adhere to the definitions above. In the commentary, the terms low-carbohydrate and high-protein are often used imprecisely and interchangeably. The studies cited have been picked to serve a low-fat agenda. Of the 63 published studies published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals that support the effectiveness and safety of the Atkins Diet, very few are cited in this report. The document defines a high-protein diet as one that comprises 35 percent or more of total calories as protein. In fact, protein remains less than 30 percent regardless of phase in all four phases of Atkins so any implication of health risk is unrelated to a true low carb diet. As defined by the 2010 DGAC definition for high protein, Atkins is not within scope of concern. Low-carbohydrate diets are defined as those in which carbs constitute less than 45 percent of total calories, which does apply to Atkins. Low Carbohydrate high protein is used somewhat interchangeably and therefore confusingly in this document. However, low-carbohydrate is not synonymous with high-protein. Atkins is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, NOT a low-carbohydrate high-protein diet. Any deleterious statements about the safety and effectiveness of high-protein have nothing to do with Atkins or any current low-carbohydrate program. Atkins falls within the government guidelines of what is considered safe protein consumption. In conclusion, statements about the safety and effectiveness of so-called “low carbohydrate, high-protein” diets have no relevance to Atkins or any current low carbohydrate program.

HANNAH SUTTER , British author of Big Fat Lies and owner of GoLower

It is positively negligent to continue with these instructions when the World Health Organization has just announced the biggest study ever into fats and concludes that there is no link between saturated fats and heart disease. Combine this with the growing evidence that the real health hazard is starch and sugar and guess what you have–a bunch of incompetent government bureaucrats who are choosing to make us fatter…unbelievable but truth is always stranger than fiction!

DR. ANDREAS EENFELDT , Swedish physician and the world’s top low-carb blogger

Albert Einstein defined madness as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans meets and exceeds that definition. The rate of obesity in America has tripled in the last few decades, during the fatphobia. It is a major health disaster. The new Dietary Guidelines can be summarized like this: keep doing the same thing, and expect the opposite result. Several new overviews of all available research shows no connection between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease. The responsible comittee seems to have missed that completely, being too stuck in their outdated fatphobic mindsets. At least nine randomized controlled trials from the last decade shows significantly better weight on a higher fat diet compared to a low fat diet. None show the opposite. In other words: low fat diets are proven to make you fatter. The obvious explanation is that low fat diets contain more carbohydrates, raising insulin, the main fat storing hormone. The 2010 Guidelines for Americans was outdated years before it was first printed. It is nothing more than a sad relic from the “scientific” thinking behind the obesity epidemic. The time has come for a change, not more of the same madness.

FRED HAHN , author of Slow Burn Fitness Revolution and owner of Serious Strength

The new 2010 USDA dietary guidelines will continue to make Americans fatter, more diabetic and sicker. Ignoring a wealth of scientific information specifically on saturated fats and low carbohydrate diets, the United States Department of Agriculture fails to come to our rescue. USDA should instead stand for Unbelievably Stupid Dietary Advice.

GARY TAUBES , author of Good Calories Bad Calories

I really have nothing to say that doesn’t sound like sour grapes and more complaining.

PAM SCHOENFELD , low-carb nutritionist

Your readers should keep in mind the following, as excerpted from the USDA website: The (USDA) Dietary Guidelines contain the latest, science-based nutrition information and dietary guidance for the general public. They are the foundation for the Federal nutrition education and promotion programs, as well as the basis for the nutrition assistance programs. From that statement a couple of things about the Dietary Guidelines are apparent: one, that families dependent on Federal Nutrition Assistance programs are put more at risk for health problems related to high carbohydrate and low-fat diets provided and recommended therein; and two, the Guidelines are designed for the “general public”–whomever that is? Unfortunately, obesity has descended upon the general public, hitting minorities even more heavily by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s own admission: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the US has increased dramatically in the past three decades. This is true of children, adolescents, and adults and it is more severe in minority groups. It is simultaneously true that minority groups participate to a greater extent in the Federal Food Assistance Programs. A coincidence? I doubt it. The Advisory Committee has revealed their appeasement of the food processing industry: A coordinated strategic plan that includes all sectors of society, including….small and large business (e.g. farmers, agricultural producers, food scientists, food manufacturers, and food retailers of all kinds) shoud be engaged in the development and ultimate implementation of a plan to help all Americans eat well… At the same time the Committee states that: The macronutrient distribution of a person’s diet is not the driving force behind the current obesity epidemic. Rather, it is the over-consumption of total calories coupled with very low physical activity and too much sedentary time. Maybe, maybe not. But what is causing this overconsumption of calories? Could it be hunger driven by the blood-sugar fluctations that result when low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets are eaten? Could it be pre-diabetes or diabetes that is accompanied by excess insulin production and fat storage fueled by the consumption of carbohydrates? Jimmy, your previous criticisms of their continued recommendations for the limiting of dietary cholesterol and even further lowering of saturated fat intake to less than 7% of calories are well taken. Of course, the public will be even more confused as they attempt to exclude their stearic acid intake as they count their saturated fat intake for the day. It is also interesting (too nice of a word) to see how they promote vegetarian diets because: Plant-based diets…offer other potential benefits, such as…nutrients important in a health-promoting diet. So, animal foods don’t offer any nutrients except for high-quality protein (and of course detriments due to the fat they contain)? How about zinc, iron, calcium, vitamins A, D, K2, B12, B6, choline, and “zoo-nutrients” like conjugated linoleic acid? And what about protein? Can we get all we need from plant sources when we consume them in the right combinations as they suggest? Perhaps if you believe that all adults need only about 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight, an amount shown to be inadequate for preventing sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, in groups such as the elderly. They write that Diets that are less than 45 percent carbohydrate or more than 35 percent protein are difficult to adhere to, are not more effective than other calorie-controlled diets for weight loss and weight maintenance, and may pose health risk, and are therefore not recommended for weight loss or maintenance. Apparently the Advisory Committee thinks that diets that provide less than 45% of calories from carbohydrates are difficult to adhere to. Perhaps they should ask your readers whether it is more difficult to deal with obesity, diabetes, and other major health issues or adhere to a lower-carbohydrate diet! (45% of calories equates to 169 grams of carbs from a 1600 calorie diet or 203 grams of carbs from an 1800 calorie diet. So both are well above the 130 grams of carbohydrates that are supposedly needed as a “minimum.”) And what studies are they relying upon when they state that lower carbohydrate diets “may be” less safe? We certainly know that elevated blood glucose levels are dangerous–there is no debate about that. We also have good evidence that lower-carbohydrate diets lead to improved lipid profiles when the most comprehensive laboratory testing methods are utilized. Finally, although we may scoff at these recommendations and feel indifferent about them because “they don’t affect us, we know better,” let me appeal to you to weigh in on this. If for no other reason than to help someone out there who is struggling with excess weight, has diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, or is pregnant, or a growing child, and who either continues to trust the governmental “experts” or is reliant upon them for a large portion of their food choices, speak up.

DR. RICHARD FEINMAN , biochemistry professor and founder of The Nutrition & Metabolism Society

Appendix E-4 describes the evolution of the Dietary Guidelines and its progressive appointment of new committees and new experts. While paying homage to new evidence, the main effect is: “to support the credibility,” “basic tenets of earlier Dietary Guidelines were reaffirmed,” “continue to support the concepts from earlier editions” and “to support the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.” In other words, it has a history of maintaing the status quo. Missing from this history is the worsening situation with respect to obesity and diabetes even as the Committee’s recommendations were followed. In the end, none of the organizations involved takes any responsibility for the deteriorating nutritional health and implicitly blame the public. The question for the 2010 guidelines is whether there is any test of their effectiveness. What outcome will constitute a failure and require overhaul of the recommendations and taking account of minority opinions? Are the 2010 guidelines, like previous ones, immune from responsibility for any outcome? This is quite discouraging. Statements like “The totality of evidence documenting a beneficial impact of plant-based, lower-sodium dietary patterns on CVD risk is remarkable.” What’s remarkable is the sense of self-delusion. The real question is whether they accept any responsibility for the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. If not, are we to blame the patient? Is there even a sense that there is a crisis in recommendations. On the other hand, the total government-based encouragement light at the end of the tunnel sense is that the committee is totally out of touch and may allow more people to listen to and evaluate a minority opinion.

KEVIN BROWN , health advocate and author of The Liberation Diet

If the latest recommendations are for even lower fat and higher carbs in the diet, and you track historically was has happened to our nation’s health as we have gone into the abyss of anti-fat, it would not be hard to see that there is an agenda to keep America sick, fat and confused!

JACKIE EBERSTEIN , registered nurse who worked with Dr. Robert C. Atkins for three decades

The recent release of the updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines should not be a surprise to anyone who has some understanding of the process. Even though the Guidelines are to be “research based,” they chose to ignore the many low carb papers published in the last 12 years. Nor were any experts in a low carbohydrate lifestyle invited to present data or be a part of the process. Given the losing battle the US is fighting with obesity, the public is still encouraged to follow more of the same advice. Even when that advice has failed miserably and was wrong when first adopted and is still wrong. One would think that more solutions to the obesity challenge would be welcome. Apparently not. Or that the Guidelines would recognize that we must have different solutions for different people. One size does not fit all. There is much that can be said about the new Guidelines. I will limit myself to the following: The Guidelines continue to encourage a diet high in carbohydrates. The very foods that spike high insulin production and increase fat storage but support the food industry and the growers of corn, soy and wheat. They recommend that when considering carbohydrate foods choose based on calories and fiber content not glycemic index or glycemic load. To many people the recommendation to eat more plants will simply mean more potatoes often in the form of French Fries. A healthy start to the day is still cereal with non fat milk. Will this provide enough protein to repair body tissue and control hunger or enough fat to provide satiety? For many the answer is no. The chances are pretty good that hunger and cravings will mean a higher food intake the rest of the day thus saboutaging efforts at weight control. The statement that the brain requires at least 130 grams of dietary carbs daily is patently wrong. No matter how many times this mantra is repeated the facts don’t change. There is no minimum intake of carbs that is needed by the body. The few body tissues that require glucose can easily meet their needs by a process called gluconeogenesis . Further, when following a very low carbohydrate diet, ketones are produced in the liver for fuel. The body is well adapted to utilize these ketones for energy. Humans would not have survived if we couldn’t adapt in this way. Importantly, the brain is also very well adapted to utilize ketones. In fact, the brain appears to favor ketones over glucose. The research supporting this just doesn’t get to the public. If carbs are to be the major source of food intake, fats and proteins are to be limited. An adequate intake of these two macronutrients has major health benefits, yet the optimum amounts needed have been misrepresented or wrongly blamed for health problems for decades. The new Guidelines will do nothing to be sure that we take advantage of the benefits of obtaining optimum intakes rather than minimal intakes of these vital nutrients. The USDA did get one thing right and has finally begun to address the dangers of sugar.

DR. LARRY MCCLEARY , pediatric neurosurgeon and author of Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly

One of the major concerns behind the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report was the explosion of the obesity epidemic and the impact it has personally, financially, on the health care system and the federal government. I would also like to add that whatever guidelines are finally accepted they will be used to determine what is included in school lunches, meals to many seniors and to those in the Armed Forces, all of which are subsidized by governmental programs. It must also be remembered that these guidelines are being formulated by the same entity that provides massive subsidies to farmers to grow corn, wheat and rice. In my opinion, they have a conflict of interest. One of the dietary recommendations is to allow 25% of daily calorie intake to come from sugars that are added to the diet. This is in addition to the 55 grams of sugar (220 calories they allow in 2 cups of 100% apple juice (considered as a fruit choice). Together, that provides 720 sugar calories a day (more than 1/3 of a 2,000 calorie daily diet!). This is in addition to the “discretionary” calories they allow (100 to 300 calories per day) that consist of solid fats, alcohol and sugar! Now the DRI committee that came up with these recommendations included in their report that evidence was insufficient for them to set a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) (meaning consumption above that level would have adverse health implications) for carbohydrates but suggested that most active Americans shoot for making 2/3 of their calories carbohydrate calories. They were not aware of any data that suggest harmful effects of consuming more than 65% of dietary calories as carbohydrates although they freely admit that certain carbohydrates elevate serum triglyceride levels (a potent coronary heart disease risk factor). Elsewhere in the body of the report (page D3-11 in the cholesterol and fatty acid section) they conclude that since “cholesterol can be synthesized endogenously in sufficient amounts for metabolic and structural needs, there is no evidence for a dietary requirement for cholesterol; therefore, there is no AI, RDA, or AMDR (Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range) for cholesterol. Similar to SFA (Saturated Fatty Acids), there is no UL set for dietary cholesterol.” Hence there is no UL set for carbohydrate, SFA or cholesterol. In spite of this they arbitrarily recommend that 65% of the caloric intake be carbohydrate while severely restricting cholesterol and SFA. Nowhere in the report is there discussion of a nutritional deficiency syndrome associated with carbohydrate deficiency. They state that the carbohydrate RDA (130 grams for carbohydrate — 520 calories) was arrived at by the daily glucose requirement of the brain. However, it is never mentioned that glucose can also easily be endogenously produced at this level (analogous to the way they handled cholesterol above) and therefore, using similar reasoning, should not be required in the diet. Note also that the AMDR recommended by the Advisory Committee is two and one half times this number of carbohydrate calories (the RDA). Where did this number come from? From an obesity perspective, they refer to a study by Stanhope et al. (2009) that included 25 percent of daily energy intake from beverages sweetened with glucose or fructose. Weight gain was observed in this study of free-living participants. Sounds suspiciously similar to the USDA My Pyramid recommendations for slimming the nation. Another epiphany the Committee had was to further cut SFA to 7% of total calorie content. As an aside, they also demonize fat calories as a cause of the obesity epidemic because of their caloric density (9 cal/g) while also observing that during the past thirty years as waistlines have exploded the main increase in calorie consumption was carbohydrates. They also note that during the epidemic of obesity that SFA consumption has not changed in the past 15 years. Elsewhere in the Report the Committee suggests that these facts make it difficult to implicate fat or saturated fat as the driver of the obesity crisis we are experiencing. What are they thinking! Some of this information is summarized nicely in Figure D3-1: Saturated fatty acid substitution and coronary heart disease risk on page D3-17 (in the section on cholesterol and fatty acids). When carbohydrate replaced monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat (at 5% of daily calories), coronary risk increased! There are many other reasons for concern throughout the Report. These are just a few of the fatal flaws both regarding weight loss and health implications.

VALERIE BERKOWITZ , low-carb nutritionist and co-author of The Stubborn Fat Fix

This Committee has provided Guidelines for a small sample of the American population. It fails to consider any other dietary method aside from the low-fat dogma that already exists. For the Americans who are healthy, they already eat right to keep themselves healthy. For most Americans who need Guidelines on how to tailor eating patterns, there is no direction given that specifically addresses the connection between excess carbohydrates and their physiological affect on the human body. Many of the major illnesses like diabetes and heart disease or risk factors for ill-health like triglycerides or blood sugar can be controlled by controlling carbohydrates and eating healthy fats (like olive oil or animal products that are free range/grass fed). The current research that has been made available by many researchers–Volek, Wortman, Westman, Dreon, Fineman–shows the need to broaden our use of various dietary interventions such as the low carb diet and these encouraging studies should be considered by the USDA committee to include current options to the archaic low fat push that has been going on for far too long. In my mind the Committee is not acting responsibly. Carbohydrates are not essential. Yes, increasing vegetables is an important message but the benefits that are provided by healthy fats are just as important. Another vital factor that is not being addressed is that they are not providing specific information only generalities, i.e. lower fat, increased carbs. People need to be armed with specific info like corn syrup, sugar and all its different forms should be avoided and trans fat should be avoided. Natural animal products like turkey and hamburger adds essential nutrients and should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Healthy fats from nuts, avocados and olives should replace unhealthy fats found in commercially baked products. I believe that carbs can provide value if vegetables, small portions of fruits/legumes and other non-commercial carbs are prepared but the carbs that many people select such as cold cereal, fat free yogurt, pretzels, bread, etc. are absolutely NOT essential and should be consumed at a minimum if at all. Here’s where I agree with the Committee: if you push low fat, high carb diet, you better minimize the fat or you will be headed for the same health hazards the country faces today. However, in my opinion cutting out healthy fats will not provide a nutritionally complete diet. Until the USDA commissions a Committee that represents current nutritional options, the message they send is deficient and should not be considered Guidelines for everyone.

The severity of just how completely wrong these 2010 Dietary Guidelines are has spurred me to do something I hadn’t planned on doing–I’m heading to Washington, DC to testify before the 13-member Advisory Committee on Thursday, July 8, 2010 in the Jefferson Auditorium at the USDA South Building. Although we’re not currently in the best financial shape to be making such a trip, I feel it is too important for people like me to just sit idly by accepting the same old garbage without making our voices heard. Remaining silent is tantamount to putting your rubber stamp of approval on something and that speaks volumes. I want it to be known loud and clear that what they have come up with as nutritional advice for all Americans is as wrong as wrong can be.

That’s why I’ve already cleared my busy schedule next week (had to cancel five scheduled podcast interviews) to voice my concerns along with people like Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Richard Feinman among others. We will not be permitted to take any audio, video or pictures inside the USDA building (man, I wish we could!), but I’ll be doing on-the-spot YouTube videos with people outside once the testimonies are finished. The meeting is set to last from 9:00AM-5:00PM with three-minute presentations each from a wide variety of people who want to address the Committee. That’s not a lot of time, but we’ll make the most of those precious few moments of undivided attention we’ll receive from the Committee.

I’m sure there will be vegetarians/vegans who think the 2010 Dietary Guidelines didn’t go far enough pushing a plant-based diet and they’ll present their case. But the continued vilification of fat and complete ignorance of the negative health implications of pushing lots of carbohydrate on people all in the name of health needs to be addressed. I’m working on my remarks as we speak and will possibly write another blog post with what I will be saying to the Committee. I’ll likely share my story, the tens of thousands of people I represent through my blog and podcast, why one set of dietary guidelines for everyone is as ludicrous as having one shoe size for everyone, and how much better the health of Americans would be if multiple options were made available for people to choose from. I’m still in the midst of crafting the message, but that’s the basic outline. I’d love to have your support for this trip if you want to help defray the costs. CLICK HERE to donate through PayPal and THANK YOU for anything you can contribute.

We will be hopping on a plane for Washington on Tuesday and coming back next weekend. While I’m there, I may try to go see my U.S. Senator and Congressman to express concern over the government intrusion into the diet of the American people. It never hurts to present your case to a powerful member of the government and let them be an advocate for your cause if you make your case strongly enough. I’ll simply share what I’ve learned and let them decide whether it’s worthy of their time or not.

I realize this is last-minute for most of you, but if you live in or around the greater Washington, DC area or if you want to fly into the nation’s capital to be a part of this event, then we’d love to meet you. We’ll be staying in a hotel in nearby Reston, Virginia and it would be a privilege to meet you face-to-face and maybe go have a meal together. E-mail me at livinlowcarbman@charter.net and we’ll work out the details. I always enjoy meeting the people who support “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” and it would be my pleasure to hang out with you in DC. Lemme know!

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