Nutrition & Dieting/Now fat os OK?

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Question
Laurie
I am sick of this fat vs carb debate. For years my husband tried to lose weight on a very low carb diet. What happened? His weight crept up and so did his cholesterol and blood pressure. His doctor kept telling him that he had to eat less fat, that was the position of the medical community, and the countries that ate less meat and fat like China and India had less obesity and heart problems. We live in a multi-racial community and the Asian immigrants that still eat a traditional diet are slim. I am Italian and grew up eating pasta and bread and pizza-mostly plain or with a bit of sauce. Me and my family are slim.
It was only after his friend died from a heart attack my husband decided to give low fat a try. This time he counted all grams of fat and stayed very low. Surprise surprise, he is losing weight, and his blood pressure is now normal! Waiting to see cholesterol numbers but I bet they are now good. So where the heck do the experts get off saying that carbs are now bad and meat/fats are now good? I bet its the meat/dairy industry behind it. THanks for your thoughts!

Answer
Hello Susan,

Ah, yes, the age old debate of "fat" versus "carb" calories. And there are still those who say, it's just the calories, regardless of what they are from!

The low-carb diet has been around as far back as the 1960's and probably before that. Fat got a bad rap shortly after that and a lower fat diet has been recommended for many populations since the 1970s, especially people with coronary artery disease.

Now some in the medical community are coming out and saying 'It's not fat after all, it's sugar'.

The fact is, it's not one type of food or one macronutrient that is the culprit. It's a whole host of things, including the overall diet, lifestyle, and health of any one individual. As registered dietitians we emphasize 'everything in moderation' and finding what works for the individual. There are those who follow the Atkins diet and do well with a low-carb regimen. It sounds like your husband did not. Others follow a fat-restricted diet (made famous in the 1970's by Dr. Pritikin and, later, Dean Ornish).

Perhaps the diets work better for some individuals because they are easier to follow for some people. Eliminating carbs is a helpful technique for those who can't stop once they get started with pasta, bread and snack foods. Many find it's hard to stick with for long.

A low-fat diet works for others, and still others follow the Mediterranean diet, with reasonable amounts of both carbs and fats, the majority coming from fish and plant-based oils.

We can't say what works for one person will work for another, or even that everyone who eats a healthy diet will be a healthy person. We can just encourage people to find something that works for them, and stick with it.

It sounds like your husband has figured out what works for him. In that case, he should stick with it and enjoy the benefits!

Nutrition & Dieting

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Laurie Beebe, MS, RD, LD

Expertise

As a registered dietitian (RD)I am fully qualified to accurately answer questions regarding weight loss, including those from people with health conditions requiring dietary restrictions (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc) who want to lose weight, or who have been advised to do so by their physician.

Experience

I have been a registered dietitian for over 30 years and have a certificate in Adult Weight Management through the commission on dietetic registration at Level 1 and Level 2. I am also trained in coaching through Coach U and currently work as a diet coach to help people lose weight the healthy way, through gradual habit changes.

Organizations
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group, Nutrition Entreprenuers, St.Louis International Coach Federation, Toastmasters

Publications
Livestrong.com, Glamour.com, Ezinearticles.com, Ehow.com, Today's Dietitian

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Florida, 1983; Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University 1985; Certificate in Adult Weight Management 2006; CoachU core essentials grad 2007; Level 2 certificate in Adult Weight Management 2010.

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