Not many things impress me more than a scientist who dares to change his opinion. An excellent example is the influential Danish scientist Arne Astrup.
After earlier believing that fat was bad and carbs (even high-GI carbs) were good Astrup has now changed his mind. One of the reasons is the large DIOGENES study that he published in The New England Journal of Medicine recently.
The study proved that a diet with more protein, less carbs and a lower GI is better for maintaining a weight loss. Advice similar to the official guidelines (with more carbs) made participants regain the most weight.
Carbs and obesity
Astrup used to be critical of Gary Taubes (who has long maintained that too much carbs is the villain behind the obesity epidemic). But now he did not mind admitting that he had changed his mind. I was there when they met at the ASBP obesity conference in San Diego yesterday. Astrup said “I was wrong, you were right” to Taubes, regarding carbs and obesity. He didn’t mind me quoting him on that either.
To clarify, Astrup does not believe that a strict low-carb diet is a good idea for the entire population. A little less carbs with a lower GI, and a bit more protein would be sufficient he believes. But Astrup had nothing against stricter low-carb diets for treating obesity etc.
I thought that Astrup would still be afraid of natural saturated fat, but he has updated his position here as well. After all the recent studies showing that refined carbs are worse for the heart than saturated fat, and now even that polyunsaturated omega-6 fat is worse, Astrup believes that focusing on saturated fat is wrong.
If there’s any benefit in replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated or omega-3 fat it’s hardly of any major importance. There are much more important things to focus on, such as eating less refined carbs (sugar and white flour), enough protein and avoiding trans fats. Natural saturated fat is nothing to be afraid of.
When people like Astrup manage to update their opinions there’s plenty of hope for the future. Let’s hope more and more experts will follow in his footsteps.