Saturday, August 13, 2005

Low-Fat Activist Asserts Eating Low-Carb Is 'Mortgaging Your Health'

I have written many articles about why I believe livin' la vida low-carb is a much better plan for weight loss and improving your health than a low-fat/low-calorie/portion-controlled diet. I have listed many reasons, but my primary concern with those kind of diets is that they are not sustainable over the long-term based on my own experience of trying and failing over and over again.

But after I wrote this blog entry, I received some feedback from a very enthusiastic fan of the low-fat diet who wanted to challenge me on my opinions regarding the low-fat diets in addition to my strong support for the low-carb lifestyle.

His name is Richard Sasso and he sent the following e-mail to me entitled "Saved by the low-fat diet." I will chime in with my own comments about what Mr. Sasso writes from time to time to set him straight when he goes astray:

NOTE: This e-mail has not been altered in any way and is presented verbatim as it was written.

Dear Mr. Moore:

Hello. You don't know me, but I feel I have a deep responsibility to mail you about my story.

Well, you E-mailed me, but that's close enough.

Earlier this year, I weighed close to 280 pounds. I had high blood pressure, border-line diabetes, high (bad) cholesterol and low (good) cholesterol. I was hobbled by vicious gout attacks. I was in no good shape, to say the least.

WOW! You sound like a GREAT candidate for the low-carb lifestyle.

My father, a wise man, gave me a book by Nathan Pritikin. The Pritikin system is a low-fat diet rich in COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES. (There is a big difference between COMPLEX CARBS and SIMPLE CARBS--something you rarely acknowledge in your blog, by the way.)

Since you seem to know everything there is to know about the difference, then why don't you share with everyone what a complex carb is compared with a simple carb? How about giving us some tangible examples? Obviously there are some good carbs which Dr. Atkins constantly mentioned in his books for people to start consuming as they get their weight under control and begin to maintain their weight loss. But when you are first starting off on a low-carb program, I think it is more important for people to know that limiting their carb intake to a level that is less than what they are used to eating can and will help them lose weight if they follow the program as prescribed. That's the miracle of the low-carb lifestyle.

I followed this diet very carefully and of course I exercised a lot. I lost close to seventy pounds and both my blood pressure, and my (bad) cholesterol fell, and I am feeling better than ever. Gout is gone.

CONGRATULATIONS! That is a great achievement and you should be very proud that you have been able to improve your health and get your weight under control. I know how hard that mountain is to climb, so kudos to you.

I know something about science and medicine one thing I have learned is this: There are studies that prove EVERYTHING, Mr. Moore. To know the truth, you can not just look at one current in the sea but ignore the whole sea.

Okay, then, using that as a template for discussion, why is it that low-fat supporters are constantly pointing to the same so-called studies (which are mostly short-term by the way) to claim that low-carb is allegedly unhealthy and dangerous? How many of the positive studies regarding the low-carb way of eating do you see in the media? My contention is not nearly enough of them are made public for people to learn the WHOLE truth about the healthy alternative that low-carb living provides. That's why I created this blog to help spread the word about the good news coming out about livin' la vida low-carb. And there is a LOT of GREAT NEWS to share. As more and more studies continue to be undertaken, especially ones that look at the effect of low-carb plans over a span of 5, 10 or 20 years, science and medicine will show that Dr. Atkins was right and a newfound interest in low-carb will ensue at that time. Mark my words now.

I mean, Jesus, Mr. Moore...

No, I'm not Jesus, Mr. Sasso. But I do believe in Him as my personal Lord and Savior as a Christian for the past 26 years.

...can you really deny the stories of people who participated in Dr. Ornish's various studies? Can you deny their PET scans? Can you deny Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who has had similar results? Can you deny Dr. John McDougall's work, which shows how a low fat, vegan diet has helped so many folks?

I don't deny anyone's story of successful weight loss. In fact, I publicly applaud anybody who has been able to lose weight and keep it off regardless of the way they did it. I have no doubt in my mind that people who eat a low-fat diet can and do lose weight. In fact, I lost an incredible 170 pounds on the low-fat diet in 1999 when I was bound and determined to get my weight and health under control. But, like so many people who eat a low-fat diet, I was miserable, just plain miserable and I was ALWAYS hungry. I felt like something was missing despite the fact that I had lost so much weight and improved my health numbers. If people can keep up that kind of living forever and ever amen, then good for them. I have not and will not put down anyone who finds a permanent way to lose weight that will work for them. It is the duty of anyone who finds a way out of their weight problem to do it and share with others what happened for them. Thus, here I am telling my story of weight loss success on the low-carb lifestyle.

Let's go backward from Dr. Ornish. Before him, there was Nathan Pritikin. He suffered from bad heart disease. He developed a low fat diet and began eating it--before anyone argued it was a good idea, by the way. And guess what? He reversed his own heart disease -- FACT!

Okay, and your point is? I never said eating a low-fat diet wasn't going to help people with heart disease. But so will any diet that can help you shed the excessive pounds you might be carrying around on your body. People who lose weight, regardless of their chosen program, will see improvements in their health because they will cease to be overweight or obese. Don't underestimate the damage that is being done to your entire body when you carry around 50, 100, or 200 pounds of extra weight that God did not intend for you to have. When you free yourself of that blob of fat that seems to infest every inch of your body, then the result will be unbelievable improvements in your overall health. That's a "fact" you can live with ... literally!

In contrast to Atkins, by the way, the full record of PRITIKIN'S autopsy is PUBLIC RECORD. Every artery was as clean as a whistle. (He died from leukemia, which he fought for decades.) The full record of Atkins' autopsy (who sued Pritikin to silence him) is secret. He was clinically obese, though. (Only in America can a clinically obese man be a diet guru!)

Aha! Now the truth is coming out. Mr. Sasso isn't just a fan of the low-fat diet. By spouting off lies which have been found to be just plain wrong about Dr. Atkins, he has show himself to be a militant activist in the low-fat movement. Those snide remarks are a very clear indication that Sasso is on the same anti-Atkins page as Jody Gorran and his pals at the PETA-inspired and funded Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM). These radicals have made it their mission in life to smear and tear down anything and everything that allows people to enjoy eating meat. That is the real agenda of people like Dr. Dean Ornish and his grunt here Mr. Sasso. Instead of taking a genuine interest in people's health, they would much rather attempt to personally destroy a man's life work simply because they disagree with it. That is a very sad state of affairs to be in when you stoop to that level of humanity. It is despicable and these people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Before Pritikin, the Duke University RICE diet saved many a person's life. (It is still around today, by the way, with a good emphasis on low fat diets and has helped millions.) But go back further--read any social history book. Throughout human history, in virtually every culture, bread is the STAFF OF LIFE. Every culture's diet has a backbone of carbohydrate. Just think: Aztecs (corn), Irish (potatoes, when there was no famine at least), Roman/Italian (pasta/bread), Asians all have rice as key diet component.

Ah, history. I just love this argument by the low-fatties. They boast that since all previous cultures have been just fine without a low-carb diet, why do we need one now? It sounds like a good argument, right? WRONG! This is 2005 and times have indeed changed. The biggest change is in the amount of food that is available today, with most of it containing high amounts of sugar and other extremely poor carbohydrate choices. Nobody says carbs in and of themselves are bad for you. But overconsuming unnecessary carbs in the form of sugar and white flour and a virtual lack of any exercise whatsoever is what has led us to the problem we have with obesity today. Can you eat lots of carbs and still lose and maintain your weight? Sure, but don't try eating a box of Twinkies and a case of sugary sodas with all that pasta and bread and expect your weight to do anything but go way up!

It is still true everywhere in the world. But go back further. All our closest ancestors in the animal kingdom or either vegetarians or close to it. The basis of ALL healthy human diets are CARBOHYDRATES. This is not propaganda. It is a fact. Show me ANY civilization in which people base or based their diets on animal food and fats. Show me one! Another fact: Vegetarians live on average 5-7 years longer than meat eaters. (From the book Becoming Vegan)

Here we go with the PETA stuff again. I think I'll take a pass on the whole vegetarian lifestyle if you don't mind. In fact, I'm a VERY HAPPY carnivore who is one of those who doesn't mind being a part of "People Eating Tasty Animals," as I affectionately like to refer to PETA. :-) As for the assertion that "all healthy human diets are carbohydrates," I would certainly beg to differ. I could eat a diet consisting of nothing but carbs and would have to constantly be shoving food into my mouth to try to satisfy the hunger beast. By the way, who are these "closest ancestors in the animal kingdom," Mr. Sasso? Are you trying to go Darwin on me by looking at monkeys and gorillas for how humans are supposed to eat? Oh, that's just classic! LOL! Hang on a second while I laugh my guts out! Hee hee...okay, I feel much better now. Sigh. If these vegetarianites weren't so naturally funny with their ignorant beliefs, then nobody would ever pay them any attention.

For example, I am an ESL teacher. I teach immigrants English. I see how this works. People come from their homelands, where they eat diets rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. They come here, eat a high fat diet and boom they get American lifestyle diseases, like heart disease. I know, you say it is the carbs. But how can that be? Mexican people, for example, eat a diet rich in corn, beans, rich vegetables (call rich in carbs) and use meat as basically a condiment. (By this I mean their own home diets, not Americanized-Mexican restaurants, which aren't really Mexican food.) Among poor Mexicans, heart disease is nonexistent. People in their seventies regularly work in the field--ask anyone from rural Mexico. They come to America and eat too much fat and too many SIMPLE CARBS and get sick. I see this everyday.

Let me give you kudos for helping legal immigrants learn the English language. It is an honorable and thankless job but one that is vital for the future of our country as more and more people move to the United States. But your claim that these immigrants come to America and get fat because of "a high fat diet" could not be further from the truth. The large amounts of sugar found in soft drinks and other junk food are what makes those people become overweight or obese. Ignoring the role that sugar plays in your diet is in my opinion neglecting the primary reason we have an obesity problem that is getting worse and worse. If people would just cut sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) out of their diets, then the obesity rates would drop faster than you can say "toldyaso!"

I know you lost weight and have kept it off, but you are mortgaging your health to do it friend. The plaque is building in your heart's arteries and along your veins. It hurts me to see you promoting this diet. You might tell me I won't be able to keep this off. Well, I will write next year and show you! But I will tell you this: My father has done it. The book he gave me was printed in the late seventies. He in 71 years old and just retired from hard labor factory work.

This has been a very "healthy" discussion, ALL PUN INTENDED! As for my personal health, it has never been better, Mr. Sasso. Even my doctor is just dumbfounded by the remarkable turnaround he has seen from me being a 410-pound ticking timebomb to a vibrant 230-pound example of a physically fit and extremely healthy human being. My cholesterol and especially my tryglicerides are at their best levels they have been at in my entire life and my doctor is proudly recommending livin' la vida low-carb to anyone who wants to get those health indicators under control.

There is something you need to know about me, Mr. Sasso. I cannot ignore anything that has made such a change in my life as the low-carb lifestyle has. I am not one to keep silent when there are so many others who could benefit from what I have been able to learn and personally experience with this. That's why my passion and zeal for low-carb is so direct and unapologetic. I have to tell the whole world what livin' la vida low-carb has done for me to maybe, just maybe, give someone else out there a little bit of hope and encouragement that they need to do this for themselves and improve their own health.

Again, let me say that I am proud of you for losing weight on a low-fat diet and wish you the best for many, many years of happy and healthy living. But you will never hear me criticize the low-fat dieters as "mortgaging your health." I think that is unnecessarily hyperbolizing your own opinions about the low-carb lifestyle and stating them as fact. Actually, your statements about people who eat low-carb cannot be backed up with any scientific or medical evidence whatsoever. It is just more propaganda from a group with a very clear agenda.

In the meantime, those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb will keep on traveling down this road of life confident that we have improved our health and controlled our weight permanently. Neither you nor any of your low-fat friends can take the joy of that accomplishment away from any of us who have been and will continue to be successful on the low-carb lifestyle.

8-5-05 UPDATE: One of my faithful readers wanted to scientifically challenge Mr. Sasso's premise that all previous civilizations relied on diets rich in carbohydrates for healthy living:

Just saw your response to the low fat veg-head on your Livin' La Vida Low Carb blog. Nice job! Just wanted to add -- The guy wanted you to name "one" culture that didn't eat carbs. Er, that would be the Eskimos, pal. But if you want me to name a culture that didn't eat grains and beans, the picture gets far bigger -- namely, all of them up till about 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was invented.

You might send Mr. Carbs-Are-the-Natural-Diet-of-Humankind this:

Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Mar;71(3):682-92.

Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets.

Cordain L, Miller JB, Eaton SB, Mann N, Holt SH, Speth JD.

Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Both anthropologists and nutritionists have long recognized that the diets of modern-day hunter-gatherers may represent a reference standard for modern human nutrition and a model for defense against certain diseases of affluence. Because the hunter-gatherer way of life is now probably extinct in its purely un-Westernized form, nutritionists and anthropologists must rely on indirect procedures to reconstruct the traditional diet of preagricultural humans. In this analysis, we incorporate the most recent ethnographic compilation of plant-to-animal economic subsistence patterns of hunter-gatherers to estimate likely dietary macronutrient intakes (% of energy) for environmentally diverse hunter-gatherer populations. Furthermore, we show how differences in the percentage of body fat in prey animals would alter protein intakes in hunter-gatherers and how a maximal protein ceiling influences the selection of other macronutrients. Our analysis showed that whenever and wherever it was ecologically possible, hunter-gatherers consumed high amounts (45-65% of energy) of animal food. Most (73%) of the worldwide hunter-gatherer societies derived >50% (> or =56-65% of energy) of their subsistence from animal foods, whereas only 14% of these societies derived >50% (> or =56-65% of energy) of their subsistence from gathered plant foods. This high reliance on animal-based foods coupled with the relatively low carbohydrate content of wild plant foods produces universally characteristic macronutrient consumption ratios in which protein is elevated (19-35% of energy) at the expense of carbohydrates (22-40% of energy).

Not to mention this:

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;56 Suppl 1:S42-52. Related Articles, Links

The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: meat-based, yet non-atherogenic.

Cordain L, Eaton SB, Miller JB, Mann N, Hill K.

Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Field studies of twentieth century hunter-gathers (HG) showed them to be generally free of the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Consequently, the characterization of HG diets may have important implications in designing therapeutic diets that reduce the risk for CVD in Westernized societies. Based upon limited ethnographic data (n=58 HG societies) and a single quantitative dietary study, it has been commonly inferred that gathered plant foods provided the dominant energy source in HG diets. METHOD AND RESULTS: In this review we have analyzed the 13 known quantitative dietary studies of HG and demonstrate that animal food actually provided the dominant (65%) energy source, while gathered plant foods comprised the remainder (35%). This data is consistent with a more recent, comprehensive review of the entire ethnographic data (n=229 HG societies) that showed the mean subsistence dependence upon gathered plant foods was 32%, whereas it was 68% for animal foods. Other evidence, including isotopic analyses of Paleolithic hominid collagen tissue, reductions in hominid gut size, low activity levels of certain enzymes, and optimal foraging data all point toward a long history of meat-based diets in our species. Because increasing meat consumption in Western diets is frequently associated with increased risk for CVD mortality, it is seemingly paradoxical that HG societies, who consume the majority of their energy from animal food, have been shown to be relatively free of the signs and symptoms of CVD.

CONCLUSION: The high reliance upon animal-based foods would not have necessarily elicited unfavorable blood lipid profiles because of the hypolipidemic effects of high dietary protein (19-35% energy) and the relatively low level of dietary carbohydrate (22-40% energy). Although fat intake (28-58% energy) would have been similar to or higher than that found in Western diets, it is likely that important qualitative differences in fat intake, including relatively high levels of MUFA and PUFA and a lower omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio, would have served to inhibit the development of CVD. Other dietary characteristics including high intakes of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals along with a low salt intake may have operated synergistically with lifestyle characteristics (more exercise, less stress and no smoking) to further deter the development of CVD.

We all come from low carb ancestors.

Keep up the good work!

THANKS for the research info! Something tells me Mr. Sasso will try to rationalize his way out of this one too by claiming these are isolated studies. There's really no point in trying to convince these people why they are wrong. But getting the truth out to the general public is much more important. That's my solemn promise here at this blog.


Blogger Levi said...

Jimmy, I know you mean well, but folks like Mr. Sasso, are so committed to their religion of low-fat and vegan lifestyle that they are basically brainwashed. No number of studies will show them anything different. In fact, Mr. Sasso doesn't even mention studies. I'm not sure what your comment about "going Darwin" on you is about, but my thought is maybe that you don't believe in evolution and so think his mentioning this facet is humorous in some way. Well, whatever your personal beliefs about evolution, the problem is that his science just doesn't add up. If you look at the human anatomy and compare it to carnivores and herbivores, it doesn't come down solidly as one or the other, rather it comes down as a mixture. In other words, an omnivore. As for his claim that no peoples subsist on a non-carb-based diet, I would agree as far as modern societies who have developed agriculture. That is how our population as a species was aided in growth. Being able to stay put and have reliable sources of food from carbs (and animals in farms), allowed you humanity to develop into large societies. Before this, we were much like the small hunter-gather societies that are still being found in remote areas today. Among those societies, the primary food source varies based on locale, but many have a primarily animal-based diet.

In any case, all of this is pointless because adherents of veganism are normally bound up in a religious or psuedo-religious mindset that killing animals is wrong. This believe allows them to push all logic away because it might actually punch holes in their mindset to believe that what is ethically incorrect (for them) on the one hand can also be very healthful for some people on the other. No such a condradiction would throw these people off because they can't actually deal with ideas that are contradictory. Rather things have to be black and white. That's why it's pretty much futile to talk with them for the most part...

8/13/2005 3:16 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Yeah, Levi, but isn't it fun to see how crazy these people can get?! Thanks for your comments.

8/13/2005 5:01 PM  
Blogger Sandylp said...

I wonder why people still argue with you about the low-carb diet even after you tell them that your doctor has run tests to evaluate your health and that you no longer suffer from high blood pressure or congested arteries. I've lost 40 pounds so far, and I'm in better health now than I have been in years. Still, people will say "Are you sure it's healthy?", "If you don't stop, you'll make a lovely corpse!" I loved your responses to Mr. Sasso and will try to remember them the next time I hear a similar negative comment.

8/13/2005 5:12 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, Sandy! I too am amazed by the constant negativity from people who claim to be on my side. They are proud of the weight loss, but don't want to give credit where credit is due to the WAY I lost it. It's really weird, isn't it? I wrote about this a little in my book. CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss so far and keep on livin' la vida low-carb, Sandy! You are a real-life example that this thing really works! :-)

8/13/2005 5:27 PM  
Blogger Viator said...

If you did believe in Darwin you might point out to this gentleman that chimps and gorillas do not eat bread, corn, rice, potatoes or anything that needs processing before it is edible. And they do eat meat as often as they can, in fact they celebrate it since that is the only time they eat together in a group.

7/26/2007 9:18 AM  
Blogger Maya Berthoud said...

Why does vegetarianism need to be attacked in this discussion? I thought we were talking about low carb vs. low fat? You don't have to be a carnivore to participate in a low carb/high protien way of eating. Us soy and bean eating humans have our place there too, thank you very much!

8/01/2008 6:13 PM  
Blogger Deryck Kennedy said...

Lowering "bad" cholesterol isn't inherently a good thing. Time to update the r cholesterol eading list

1/21/2014 3:00 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Yep, already did, Deryck! It's in a book released in 2013 called Cholesterol Clarity:

1/21/2014 3:13 PM  

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