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Will cholesterol levels, and thereby heart health, suffer when you eat a high-fat low-carbohydrate diet? That’s what people used to believe – even I thought so once – but science proves that this is wrong.
Studies on diets similar to LCHF usually show that the participants on average not only lose weight but also improve their health markers, including cholesterol. This is also what a Swedish expert investigation concluded last year. And this study from the other week was no exception.
Even the harshest critics have had to concede. Now, they’re sometimes claiming that LCHF will probably cause very poor health markers some time in the future, some time long after the studies have been completed. After, for example, five years – or after you’re weight is stable – LCHF will turn around magically and have the opposite effect.
However, once again reality shows something different. Here are some excellent newly published numbers after five years, from Sweden’s perhaps most rigorous LCHF person, Tommy Runesson. He cut his weight in half in the first couple of years and has since then been practically weight stable for three years:
Perhaps LCHF will magically instead have the opposite effect after six, seven years? Although this doesn’t appear to be the case:
Is it harmful to eat a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss? Or is it even HEALTHIER than the current low-fat dietary advice?
A major new study published today further fuels the debate and has already made major headlines. In the study 148 people were told to eat either a low-carb diet (under 40 g of carbs per day) or a low-fat diet, for one year.
The results are similar to those in previous studies. Once again, those on a low-carb diet lost significantly more weight, in this case three times more:
Those who ate a low-carbohydrate diet also lost more fat mass.
What will upset people the most is that the low-carb group also got better cholesterol levels than those in the low-fat group! As usual, they got more of the good HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides and an improved cholesterol profile (total/HDL). As if this wasn’t enough, the fat eaters in the low-carb group received a significantly lower risk assessment for heart disease according to the 10-year Framingham risk score!
In addition, the low-carb group got significantly less inflammation in the body (measured as CRP).
Finally, conspiracy theorists don’t get any support that “the meat industry” is behind all studies showing that low-carb diets work best. This study was funded by American tax dollars (through the National Institutes of Health). None of the authors have any financial ties to the industry.
Even before this study the results were nearly unanimous that a low-carb diet provides a better weight and better health markers than today’s low-fat advice:
After today’s study the truth becomes even clearer. It becomes even harder (and more embarrassing) for people to stick their heads in the sand.
When are people with weight problems going to receive scientifically sound dietary advice from most health care professionals? Hopefully soon.
TIME: For Weight Loss, Low-Carb Diet Beats Low-Fat
New York Times: A Call for a Low-Carb Diet
Reuters: Low-carb diets may beat low-fat options for weight loss, heart health
Washington Post: Low carb diets more than low fat ones may help protect against heart disease
USNews: Low-Carb Beats Low-Fat for Weight Loss, Heart Health: Study Continue Reading →
I just learned from a health care professional about a new silly LCHF myth. Someone had said that you shouldn’t be on an LCHF diet for more than seven months because of cholesterol issues.
Old ideas about LCHF being harmful and generally bad for cholesterol are common, but why the number seven month? Any guesses?
The truth is that LCHF usually produces great cholesterol numbers, or simply normal ones. Significant elevations are less common, and it’s not seen at all in averages in large studies (for example) on years of eating LCHF.
Should everyone over 50 be treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs, regardless of whether they suffer from heart disease?
A new review of previous research shows that even people with no history of heart disease may slightly lower their risk for heart disease with preventative statin medication*.
There are three reasons to be skeptical of mass medication of the healthy population:
Do cholesterol-lowering drugs constitute a medical miracle, almost free of side effects? Or is this a false, and close to criminal, misleading impression that pharmaceutical companies are promoting?
Here’s the popular Australian science television show Catalyst that reactionaries tried to stop. The show aired the other day, despite the protests.
The show does an excellent job of bringing forward a more nuanced picture than that of the drug advertisements. The reality is that cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) may be beneficial for people already diagnosed with heart disease (previous myocardial infarction or angina).
For healthy people the benefit is minimal, and the risk of side effects (such as muscle pain, fatigue, disorientation and diabetes) usually outweighs the benefits.
Watch the episode for a frightening picture of how pharmaceutical companies have inflated the benefits and hidden the risk of side effects. But don’t be surprised. This is exactly how similar companies have been demonstrated to act in many similar cases.
These are no conspiracy theories. This is just how it works in a market economy with inadequate regulation and inadequate scrutiny. Companies will take shortcuts to greater profits as soon as they think they can get away with it. Continue Reading →
Does a low-carb diet “violate God’s principles”? That’s what televangelist Pat Robertson claims, and he doesn’t really care about “all these scientific tests” showing that low-carb works fine.
- Huffington Post: Pat Robertson Claims Low-Carb Diet ‘Violates’ God’s Principles
- The Independent: American TV evangelist Pat Robertson slams low-carb diets for ‘violating’ God’s principles
Me, I’d rather stay with science when it comes to what’s healthy, than some random person’s personal interpretation of God’s will.
Here’s what started it all, a news segment starring Jimmy Moore and other low-carb success stories:
Is a strict LCHF diet with unlimited amounts of saturated fat bad for cholesterol levels?
Tommy Runesson has had his blood lipid levels checked four times, including just recently, during his four years on an ultra-strict LCHF diet. The major part of his 200 lb-weight loss (!) occurred before his first blood test, and we don’t know what the numbers were before his weight loss.
The numbers look great. We’re not seeing the significantly elevated total-cholesterol number that a small percentage of individuals show on a strict LCHF diet.
I’d say Runesson’s numbers represent the typical result of a long-term strict LCHF: a normal total cholesterol and LDL, excellent HDL and triglycerides, and a very nice apo-B/apo-A1 ratio. This is what I typically see in most patients that I follow.
Runesson’s results also contradict the strange idea that an LCHF diet may produce good lipid numbers because of ongoing weight loss, but that they would suddenly turn disastrous when weight stabilizes, for some obscure reason. This idea has been put forward by some LCHF skeptics. As far as I know there’s no science to support this idea.
In any case: Runesson has been eating an extremely strict LCHF diet for four years, and has maintained stable weight for the last 2.5 years. And his cholesterol profile is far better than most people’s.
PS: I’m planning another cholesterol checkup myself this fall, after 7 years on an LCHF diet.
Continue Reading →
Are you ready for the destruction of a few choice low-carb myths? A week ago I participated in a discussion, invited by a very popular Brazilian health site. Here’s the video – the English part starts at 2:28, after an introduction in Portuguese.
Some of the myths we discuss are:
- Myth: Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet.
- Myth: Fats are fattening and cause heart problems.
- Myth: Cholesterol in food is bad for your heart.
- Myth: To lose weight you need to count calories.
- Myth: Exercise is effective for weight loss.
Did you ever believe in any of these myths? I did.
Which diet works best long-term for weight loss and improved health markers? Some say: eat fewer calories and go hungry. Others say: eat fewer carbohydrates.
Many 21st Century studies have compared the effect of these two popular pieces of advice. At least 18 studies of the highest quality have clearly shown a better weight loss result from a low-carb diet. Low-fat and low-cal diets have not won in any comparison.
Now, a new analysis selecting 13 of the most well-designed and reliable long-term studies, summarizes the results. The winner? You probably guessed right. The same as usual.
Reality now becomes increasingly difficult for opponents to explain away. Continue Reading →
Cholesterol-lowering drugs, so called statins, may decrease the risk for heart disease somewhat. But they may also lead to side effects, such as: muscle pain, muscle fatigue, disorientation and a lower IQ, fatigue, impotence and so on.
One side effect that has long been known is that statins increase the risk of developing diabetes. You could, for example, have read about this on my Swedish blog three years ago and in my Swedish book The Food rEvolution, 2011. Now, a few years later, it’s been added as a “very important” update of the text in the Swedish catalogue of approved drugs, FASS: Diabetes is a possible side effect.
Hence another reason not to spread statins far and wide to heart-healthy individuals with “high cholesterol” – which is often defined as 200 mg/dl and above. Most of the healthy population has a total cholesterol number above 200 mg/dl, so this is one of the more obvious cases of disease mongering (the “selling of sickness”) you can imagine.
When it comes to heart disease (angina, previous heart attack) the benefit of statin treatment might be worth the risk. But if you treat your normal cholesterol number with statins you risk getting diabetes for no good reason. Does this sound like a good idea? Hardly, but it happens many times every day.
- 1Carb-Loaded: the Best Low-Carb Movie Ever?31
- 2“Your Best Carbohydrate Level Is the One You’re Happiest on Without Weight Gain”30
- 3“I Finally Kept My Promise to My Mom”23
- 4A Low-Carb Diet Improves Quality of Life for Diabetics22
- 5”Looks Like The Medical Establishment Was Wrong About Fat”20
- 1My Health Markers After Eight Years on LCHF142
- 2New Major Study: A Low-Carb Diet Yet Again Best for Both Weight and Health Markers!129
- 3Sugar vs Fat on BBC: Which is Worse?125
- 4Discovering Airline Diabetic Meal109
- 5LCHF on the Front Cover of US Magazine93
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- 1LCHF for Beginners
- 3How to Lose Weight
- 4Science and Low Carb / Paleo
- 5Questions and answers about LCHF
- 6About Diet Doctor
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