We hear about new diets all the time and each sort of sounds good at the beginning but after a while most of them fall by the wayside. When scientific research supports a diet regimen, however, credence is given and we can look a little further.
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared the weight loss of two groups, one on a low-fat diet (less than thirty percent of daily energy intake from total fat) and the other on a low-carbohydrate diet (less than forty grams per day).
First, the Conventional Wisdom
Back in the ’70s, a movement began to reduce the amount of fat in our diet, almost demonizing it. That’s not altogether unfounded, as trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are so bad for you as to be criminal, raising cholesterol to dangerous levels and resulting in cardiovascular disease. The processed food industry had started to boom right around then–no coincidence. The problem was, all fats were lumped together as being bad for you.
Get on the Wagon
In the ’80s, many people (like my mother) jumped on the no-fat bandwagon, thinking that would reduce her cholesterol and make her healthier. Her physician agreed with this plan. Sigh. She didn’t get healthier and her cholesterol levels didn’t change much after she switched to low-fat/no-fat margarine, “cheese”, mayonnaise, etc. And she didn’t FEEL better. But fat = bad, the doctor said so.
Then in the ’90s the Atkins diet was resurrected, a revolutionary change in diet philosophy that had been founded in 1972. This weight-loss plan became all the rage as it promoted a low-carbohydrate regime that disallowed whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, and legumes while allowing diet soda, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and dairy–and its own brand of processed food.
People started eating loads of meat to replace the pasta they had to sacrifice. Many experienced significant weight loss but found it difficult to maintain because we all love a crusty bread and a crisp apple. And the higher meat intake was wreaking its own health havoc.
The diet fell out of favor a while back because conventional wisdom hadn’t changed and the focus remained on a carbohydrate-rich diet that includes vast amounts of sugar, refined flours, salt, and processed food.