As someone with a strong interest in research, I love reading about different takes on diet. There is so much good work out there to pull apart, think about and learn from. One of the most fascinating areas of diet is the small but growing community of low or no carbohydrate diets. This looked like it had died a quiet death following the demise of Dr Atkins.*
*A note here on Dr Atkins who died from a fall, his medical notes were released posthumously and showed congestive heart failure – which tends to be associated with obesity – history of hypertension, and was 117kg in weight.
Like all diets, there are mixed opinions on the best approach to doing these. Reading through the blogs and the mentors of this movement I am shocked to see an absence of science, published or otherwise, very few reputable doctors or scientists involved with this area, and a lack of basic understanding of science. Let’s clear up a few things:
Diets which promote weight loss can be high in fat content, of this the science is clear.
– Diet studies looking at high fat and low carbohydrate diets (read: lots of meat no veggies) don’t tend to be large studies or have much in the way of long-term follow up
– The science of these groups tend to promote a lot of animal product consumption (although there are vegan high fat diets – here we go getting even more complicated)
– We are seeing trends for plant-based diets increasing because these are kinder on the planet – Globally, the environment is changing rapidly as a consequence of the desire to increase the intake of foods which require a lot of area – it takes more land to grow grain to feed to cows than to just eat the grain!
– As Dr McDougall rightly points out there has NEVER been a large and successful society who consumed meat as their primary source of calories. It may have happened in isolated examples, but these groups tend to have very poor health outcomes (higher rates of death / stroke / heart attack)