The world’s most persistent fad diet

Fad diet?

Fad diet?

Obesity is caused by flour-rich and starchy foods, such as bread, cookies and macaroni. This is not a new idea, and it certainly wasn’t I who said it first. The page above is from the book “The Physiology of Taste”, by a famous French food guru.

Ignorant people like to dismiss the ideas as a “fad diet”, but then this is an extremely long-lasting fad, as the book was published in 1825.

Why does a reduction of sugar and starch – variants of a low-carbohydrate diet – recur in thousands of different forms over hundreds of years? Simple.

Most people lose excess weight without hunger on a low-carbohydrate diet. It just works.

It’s not about a fad. It’s because it works.


Read this chapter from the book for free online

Low-carbohydrate diet / LCHF for Beginners


A Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet from 1953


  1. Libby at
    Also take a look at the “Diabetic Cookery, Recipes and Menus” by Rebecca W Oppenheimer was published in 1917. It gave pretty sensible eating advice.

    Food that should be STRICTLY FORBIDDEN by diabetics are sugar, juice, starches, bread, rice, flour, oats. Sadly this is now the base of the food pyramid and diabetics eating guidelines.

    You're absolutely correct, low carb is not a fad, it sticks around because it works.

    Reply: #3
  2. Richard David Feinman
    Possibly of interest is my paper on "Fad Diets in the Treatment of Diabetes." The strange thing is that this was actually invited by the editor for a paper with that title. What did he think I was going to write?
    Reply: #9
  3. Andrew
    I was always told steel cut oats where very heart healthy and one of the healthiest breakfast options available.
    Reply: #4
  4. Lori Miller
    Grains are used to fatten up livestock. Why would they have any different effect on humans?
  5. Carol
    Yes, I recall watching my mother dutifully eating her low fat oatmeal for breakfast as she was dying of heart disease.
    Reply: #6
  6. Glyn
  7. LaurenR
    I cringe when I see oatmeal shown as a good start for the day. It causes hypoglycemia very quickly in most people and then they must fight cravings for more sugar for hours if they are trying to lose weight. Pretty sad to watch.
  8. Bryan
    I lived on steel cut oats for breakfast, veggies on wholewheat with lowfat dressing for lunch, whole grain pasta or brown rice for dinner. In between I'd snack on whole wheat crackers, edamame and whole grain bagels.

    I couldn't figure out why my metabolic syndrome just got worse every year. At every check up, my doctor would tell me I had to eat less fat and more whole I would double-down on them again. The next year;repeat.

    Then I read Wheatbelly and a light went off. More research let me to this great website.

    And I am now well on the road to recovering my metabolic health.

    Reply: #11
  9. Nate
    Thanks for the old article. For the first several years of eating a very low carb diet (I started in 2004), I frequently made the comment that the government should define very low carb, low carb, moderate carb, etc. Many of the low carb arms of diet studies were eating over 150 g/d of carbs. And then the reduced calorie, low fat arm had their carbs reduced to hit the calorie limits. Thus, there was little difference in carb loads between the two arms. Geez....

    I always love to read your articles for the humor. I laughed out loud after reading, "(Oddly, Epidemiologie für Dummies is only available in the German edition possibly due to social pressure from the Harvard School of Public Health)."

    But I do have one delta. I think you should have mentioned Dr. Richard Bernstein. As you know, he is a diabetic and has written two excellent books on using low carb dieting to help control one's diabetes. BTW, his Diabetes Solution saved my one good eye and really my life.

    Finally, I watched the movie Fed Up and was touched by the obese kids and their ordeal of a life. I'm fed up with the ADA and their fad diet. I plan to enter the beast by joining the ADA and see if I can't agitate them from inside their belly.

  10. murray
    " I plan to enter the beast by joining the ADA and see if I can't agitate them from inside their belly."

    Prepare to encounter plenty of bile inside the belly.

  11. Joey B
    Was probably the bread, bagels, pasta & crackers that where negatively affecting you the most! Wheat was probably the main culprit atleast in my opinion.
  12. Maurício Trambaioli
  13. Sophie
    I regularly have an energy crash after a meal, especially when it contains carbs (but it also happens if I eat too much protein).

    I got my worse crashes after eating oats, even without sugar. Even a small bowl of oats could give me a sugar crash potent enough to make me call in sick.

    I was trying to save money earlier this year and I tried adding carbs because they are so cheap. Even in small amounts, it made me gain weight. I can have a couple portions a week, but not more, and really I don't bother.

  14. Maki
    > Many of the low carb arms of diet studies were eating over 150 g/d of carbs. And then the reduced calorie, low fat arm had their carbs reduced to hit the calorie limits. Thus, there was little difference in carb loads between the two arms. Geez....

    Such studies actually show lower carb in great light, 150g of carbs a day is allot. I follow lower carb higher fat diet now, it is hardly a diet but my appetite had reduced drastically I eat about 2 healthy meals, and one less healthy meal per day (I like to eat that way so I eat pretty much what I want). I often eat pastry for late breakfast (at least 3h after waking up) if I am hungry after waking up coffee fixes that (my blood pressure is actually low at morning I am not really hungry) the pastry has only about 35-40g of carbs, butter, and very little sugar this keeps me full to late lunch (muffin would make me feel like I am starving 15 minutes after eating it), I eat bread, and pasta but I portion control it, allot of meat, and cheese to small whole wheat (less carbs) bread roll, or scrambled eggs with that bread, or even small pizza if I feel like it 60g of carbs extra cheese completely fine at least for loosing weight, tiramisu, and hi fat ice cream are fine as well. The fat is necessary for me to eat at every meal if I want sugary fruit I can have very little (4-5 grapes just for taste) or I just eat it with full fat greek yogurt otherwise it makes me feel like I am starving myself. And to that normal dinner. I don't feel like I am eating little I eat only very tasty food without having to do some strange dietary exchanges (sorry but cooked vegetable doesn't replace pasta), and I rather eat little sugar then stevia. This diet is surprisingly easy, and I did lost 18kg so fat in 45 days 135kg>117kg, and as an added benefit I don't feel like I am starving myself like I did when I was eating less fat/more carb, even when I wasn't watching my diet I was hungry so often that I didn't even had time to eat at all those times.

    I generally don't snack. I often eat raw non starchy veg because I simply like how they taste, and they are healthy but it has no affect on my appetite if I eat them or not I am not hungry eating 2-3 meals a day.

  15. Maki
    All that said low carb hi fat might be much more effective for me then most people. When I did low carb hi fat I was hardly able to eat ~800kcal/day, and I felt stuffed. I had once manage to eat over 1600kcal in ribs, and the next I felt that it is physically impossible to force any food down my throat. Usually I was just eating biggish breakfast 6 eggs or so on mushroom or with some veg I am not that much into bacon. To me the idea of over eating cheese is also inconceivable I will eat few small slices ,and I will fill stuffed. On other hand if I eat chicken with rice or race waffles I will get so hungry that I will be unable to not eat almost all of the time. (but even chicken with rice will likely be fine for me if I just use much less rice, and I add some full fat cheese).

    But that diet was too boring for I had stopped following it, and I had slowly gained weight over 8 years, and go from normal weight of 87kg to 135kg.

  16. yoi
    If you eat in a calorie surplus on low carb diet u still lose fat?
    Reply: #18
  17. bill
    By definition, no. But that can only be
    determined after the fact, so it's useless
    as a strategy for losing weight.
  18. bill
    To be clear, I meant using calorie
    deficit as a strategy to try to lose
    weight is useless. Sorry if I was
  19. rex
    What a dumb doctor sleep less to lose weight? Whats next stop showering or breathing?
  20. G
    Diet Dr: If you use this long quote in the future, but sure to find a more accurate translation. Mixed up"proscribe" for "prescribe" and "obtain" for "abstain." Contradictory terms.

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