If you’re familiar with the low carbohydrate, Atkins-type diet – variously known as the paleo diet, the Zone diet, the South Beach diet or the ketogenic diet- you are probably also aware that it is pretty controversial. So is it a great way to lose weight and improve your metabolism or is it lacking in nutrients and dangerous?
We should have a clear idea by now because it’s been around for over 20 years and has a growing number of supporters, not least because it holds out the possibility of being a radical new treatment for various chronic disorders including cancer. So you might think that the authorities who have been promoting the high carb low fat approach for years would be putting some serious research into finding out if and when going low carbs can be beneficial because the low fat diet is obviously not the panacea for weight loss and protecting the heart it was claimed to be.
Now thanks to a very bright one-time corporate lawyer Hannah Sutter we know that there is a deeply obscure government committee called SACN which has been working away for five years to decide just how much carbohydrate we should be getting. Unfortunately what she has discovered is far from reassuring. In fact it is alarming, depressing but horribly predictable.
After forensically burrowing through the committee’s minutes and documentation she has compiled a report that shows the committee is packed with vested interests, doesn’t have the experts that are vital to making any sort of assessment of how much carbs we need and prone to the most basic errors that suggests its members aren’t even up to speed on the basics of carbohydrate metabolism.
Figures that point to low fat failure
What this means is that next year when it is due to report it is highly unlikely to recommend very much in the way of a change current dietary advice. This is disastrous since putting everyone on a low fat diet can hardly be counted as a success either in terms of weight loss or health. Back in the early 1970’s when low fat promotion was just beginning, people in the UK were eating nearly 3000 calories a day on average and just under 3% of men and women were obese.
But by 1999, after nearly 30 years of this advice and with supermarket shelves stacked with low fat products, obesity rates had shot up to 22.6% of men and 25.8% of women. But at the same time we were eating nearly half the number of calories just 1,690 per day.Meanwhile diabetes rates had soared as well. Clearly the simplistic official notion of how calories and weight are related, which lies at the heart of the low fat recommendation, was badly wrong.
So a sensible assessment of the different and complex ways carbohydrates can affect our metabolism and how they interact with fat and protein is very much overdue. However without a major overhaul of the committee this is not going to happen at SACN. Read the full story here