Yesterday’s Guardian ran an articled called Should I believe calorie counts in which the paper’s resident doctor, Luisa Dillner, set out the usual tired old cliche that you absolutely must count calories if you want to lose weight. A calorie is a calorie. They’re all the same. If you need to lose weight, you must restrict them.
It’s not easy going up against a doctor, especially one who has always struck me as so nice. But I’m so tired of this lazy thinking, this unquestioning attitude so many healthcare professionals adopt. Mine doesn’t! So why does a newspaper doctor whom many trust with their health concerns? Why not look at other evidence and suggest those writing into newspapers with worries about their weight have a go at something that works and in which the drug companies and food manufacturers have no vested interest?
Pound of fat versus pound of pasta
Someone called Mukkinese refuted this and their post is worth repeating in full:
“Calories are a very vague way of assessing the nutritional value or even fattening potential of food. Only since the demonisation of fat has food become saturated in sugar and other carbs. Fat is a major source of flavour, remove it and it has to be replaced with something, usually sugar and salt. Those who keep repeating the dumb “first law of thermodynamics” in relation to how the body metabolises food, are talking out their arses.
Eat a pound of fat and you will gain less body fat than if you eat a pound of pasta.
Because body fat, what we think of as “flab,” cannot be created without the presence of insulin. Fat and protein consumption stimulates very little insulin secretion. Sugar consumption, in whatever form, is what stimulates insulin to be made and circulated.
Eat foods high in sugar or easily processed into sugar by the body and you will get higher levels of insulin and a more efficient conversion of excess energy into body fat.
Politics not science
The case against fats, especially saturated fats is more political than scientific. There is plenty of evidence to show that fat consumption has little, if any, affect on longevity or serious health issues at all.
Those who evangelise low carbs, might seem like mad conspiracy theorists, but they have science on their side. It makes more sense to control your carbohydrate intake than to obsess about restricting your calorie intake.”
What other doctors say
This is backed up by the recent series of programmes and articles by Jacques Peretti who also writes for The Guardian (as do I occasionally). So the newspaper has run articles counter to that suggested by Dr. Dillner. Peretti’s work has plenty of scientific evidence and many doctors now accept that counting calories if you want to lose weight is not the way to go. You are far better off reducing carbs.
I’m fortunate that my own GP recognises this and the practice sister who is overseeing my weight loss and monitoring my health. Many other doctors and practitioners in the NHS are also coming round to the idea, slowly, that telling patients to cut calories and eat low fat is the wrong advice.
What to do?
If you prefer to count calories, eat low fat food and take rigorous boring exercise, fine. If it works for you, also fine. We must all find our way to a healthy weight and a happier healthier life. I tried that for nearly 40 years and it didn’t work. But high fat/low carbs does. It’s also a far lovelier way to eat and infinitely more enjoyable.
I really do believe that eventually doctors and the NHS will come back round to this way of thinking. I say back round because in the early 70s my GP told me to cut out starchy food if I wanted to lose weight. And low-starch foods were as prevalent on the supermarket shelves then as low-fat foods are now. For far more years than the low-fat message has been pushed out, the low carb/low starch one was. This is nothing new. It’s merely a returning to sanity and sense.
Obesity higher with low-fat diets.
The evidence is becoming ever more overwhelming. For the past three and a half decades that low-fat diets have been pushed more and more on the public, we’ve grown fatter and obesity has become a worldwide problem.
For far too long sugar has had a free pass. But it’s sugar does the damage, not calorie-dense high fat foods.
If you don’t believe this, fine, nor did I till I tried it. So why not try it yourself? Give it a go and see how you go on. Why be miserable on low-fat high sugar diets when you can be happy – and lose weight and keep it off – on a high fat low sugar diet?
More later in the week.