Sunday, January 27, 2008

No, Connie Bennett, One High-Fat Meal Will NOT Damage Your Body

Why does Connie Bennett agree with Dr. James O'Keefe about high-fat?

It's not that often when I disagree with a fellow low-carb blogging friend who agrees with me that consuming sugar and excessive carbohydrates is bad for your weight and health. But when "SUGAR SHOCK!" blog author Connie Bennett wrote a post this week entitled "Just One High-Sugar, High-Fat Meal Can Damage Your Body, Study Stays," I felt compelled to respond.

The report was actually written by Connie's correspondent Jennifer Moore (no relation), but there was a brief "Note from Connie" at the beginning of the post that made me raise my eyebrows. Here's what she wrote:

"If you think one fatty, culprit-carb-laden meal won't do harm to you, think again."

Say it ain't so, Connie! I'll agree that a "culprit-carb-laden meal" may cause harm, but what's with the "fatty" part? Why even go there when you have seen all the studies in research for your SUGAR SHOCK! book showing a high-fat, low-carb diet is not only healthy, but beneficial in so many ways to the body. In fact, you should take a closer look at the book by Gary Taubes (who you interviewed recently) called Good Calories, Bad Calories to find out more of the science behind this.

The study cited on Connie's blog was published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and led by a well-known pro-vegetarian, low-fat diet loving internist from the Mid America Heart Institute and University of Missouri–Kansas City named Dr. James H. O'Keefe. The primary point from his study is to eat more whole, high-fiber foods that come from plant sources as well as lots of whole grains, legumes, and nuts to prevent your blood sugar from rising too fast which then increases your triglycerides to in turn lead to inflammation in the body.

Sounds good, right? But...

But we already know what causes those health issues to happen. It's carbohydrates! Even those so-called "good" carbs that come from some fruits and vegetables as well as the much-heralded whole grains craze and legumes can and will spike your blood sugar and release insulin inside the body almost as fast as sugary junk foods do in those of us who are especially carb-sensitive (which is why we started livin' la vida low-carb to begin with!). Ignoring this fact is not giving people the entire picture and Dr. O'Keefe knows that.

Although you have people like Dr. Judith Wurtman espousing the absolutely absurd theory that saturated fat consumption can lead to Type 2 diabetes, the truth of the matter is a high-fat diet in the absence of carbohydrate is not at all harmful. Nobody has yet to offer any credible published research to counter this fact, so why do we continue to have imbecilic researchers like Dr. O'Keefe trying to shove their personal beliefs into the science when the evidence is just not there? And why is such research embraced by people like Connie Bennett who should know better?

This whole sage with the O'Keefe study reminds me of a study which was also published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in August 2006 by Dr. Stephen Nicholls that concluded eating one saturated fat-laden meal will reverse any good cardiovascular health markers that may have been present inside the body. Another study released in the April 2007 issue of The Journal of Nutrition by Dr. Tavis Campbell made similar ridiculous statements about the one fatty meal claim. But, again, the "fatty" meals used in these studies are also very high-carb meals as well. How about doing a study comparing a high-carb, high-fat meal with a low-carb, high-fat meal and let's see what happens to the health markers then, hmmmm? How about it Dr. O'Keefe?

And, with all due respect to my fellow low-carb blogging colleague Connie Bennett, she should know better. Sure, consuming the "culprit carbs" (as she calls sugary, simple carbs) is indeed unhealthy and most of us agree with that wholeheartedly. But why lump in dietary fat with the whole kit and kaboodle? No, Connie, one high-fat meal will NOT cause damage to your body when carbohydrates are severely reduced or eliminated. A high fat diet is only unhealthy in tandem with a high-carb one.

And perhaps that's what Connie's correspondent Jennifer Moore was TRYING to say in her post. But the way it was written with that finger-pointing headline, it certainly made it appear to be damning to fat. Perhaps some clarification is in order, Connie, and I welcome your feedback. We'd love to know why you believe a high-fat diet is so unhealthy (if you do). Feel free to share your comments so we can better understand where you are coming from.

As for Dr. O'Keefe, you can contact him to share your comments about his study at Tell him it's not the dietary fat, but the carbs that cause damage to health. Encourage him to take up my suggestion to do a study on a high-carb, high-fat vs. low-carb, high-fat diet comparison. Who knows, if he's a real scientist, then he should be up for the challenge, right? :)

1-29-08 UPDATE: Well, Connie Bennett responded today and attempted to clarify what she meant by what she wrote in the column that was posted at her blog. I appreciate that, but I do think she took this way too personally. It was all about the message and not YOU, Connie. Perhaps this will make you pay closer attention to what you allow on your blog from now on, hmmm?

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Blogger Cindy Moore said...

Huh, I never thought of Connie as a low carb advocate. Anti-sugar, absolutely, but low carb? Not from some of the posts I've read from her on her (old) kick sugar Yahoo group.

There is more and more research coming out....they can't ignore the effects of carbs forever!

1/27/2008 10:11 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Well, Connie has aligned herself with the low-carb message ever since I've known her which is why this opposition to high-fat was shocking to me. She has told me she isn't personally as "low-carb" as I am, she at least understands the premise behind such diets. Or at least I thought she did. Maybe she'll continue educating herself on all the latest research, Cindy. We can hope! :)

1/27/2008 10:14 PM  
Blogger Justin Wallraven said...

Wow. I just read that article and I interpretted the authors intent completely differently.

I felt she was clearly discouraging eating carbs AND fat together...the same point Dr. Atkins made and you make all the time.

In fact, this paragraph is pretty much the heart and soul of the article...

"The body responds to fast-acting carbs and junk food with a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, causes the body to have a stress reaction -- constricted blood vessels, inflamed tissues and a rise in blood pressure. "

She never even really mentioned fat other than to say it wasn't good for you when combined with carbs.

I think your wrong on this one, buddy.

1/28/2008 1:22 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I'm happy to be wrong about this, Justin, but from that headline and the description of the column by Connie it looked like fat was being condemned as well. THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts. Anyone else?

1/28/2008 9:48 AM  
Blogger Vickie said...

I didn't take this article in the same light you did either.

Coming from the perspective of someone who "does" suffer with lots of inflammatory reactions, due to the Meniere's, I can honestly say that "high-fat" coupled with "high-carb" DOES cause immediate inflammatory responses in the body. It DOES cause the body to unleash unstable free radicals since metabolizing those high carbs is likely to damage those fats.

Which means that ONE such type of meal "can" hurt you. So I didn't find ANYTHING in this article, nor Connie's comments to be UN-true.

With that said, I think the "best approach" to articles of this type, is to shift our focus off of what we personally don't agree with, and look for what we can personally "take-away" and incorporate into our own personal, low-carb lifestyle.

Since the Science of "high-fat PLUS high-carb" is sound, and the theory of only one such type meal possibly being dangerous was put forth, what does that TELL US?

I would think that this clearly supports the idea that "CHEATING" on a low-carb diet could quite possibly be VERY DANGEROUS. Because when folks tend to cheat, what they tend to eat? HIGH FAT coupled with HIGH CARBS. Do they not???

The "take away" for me, was in how important it is to make low carb a LIFESTYLE CHANGE, because if you keep on "falling off the wagon," with all of those high-fat high-carb cheats, all of those high-fat high-carb free meals and refeeds, you can really do some damage to yourself.

1/28/2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Interesting insights, Vickie! THANKS for sharing.

1/28/2008 11:04 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Quote-"The body responds to fast-acting carbs and junk food with a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, causes the body to have a stress reaction -- constricted blood vessels, inflamed tissues and a rise in blood pressure. "

You guys missed the 'fast-acting carbs part'. -- Connie is a carbohydrate addict. She traded refined sugar for slow-acting carbohydrates. -- She considers herself and most others to be hypoglycemic and eats carbohydrates with small amounts of protein many times a day to avert this 'phantom' carbohydrate addiction she calls 'hypoglycemia'. -- She flies in sweet potatoes for instance. She also advocates ping pong ball sized servings. She thought it was atrocious and offending that I ate large amounts of fat and protein and wouldn't eat apples. Connie is totally wrong. She cured one addiction by trading it for another 'maintained addiction' and now tries to sell it to others. That's why it won't sell. She is simply mistaken, not vicious, but boy, -- you try to take away her six or eight times a day complex carbohydrates and she gets in a huff real fast. She was totally offended by what I ate and the large portions I eat of fat and meat and kicked me off because she felt her readers would think that she was 'high fat' and that there was something wrong with her ill informed hypoglycemia advice.

Sorry Connie but it is YOUR advice that would destroy our public heath and keep everybody carbohydrate addicted and 'high' for life, not mine.

It's all right there on her Yahoo Group and 'Sugar Shock Blog'.

Connie is a good person, she is just very misinformed. She took the ball when she first caught it from another well meaning but misinformed health practitioner and won't let go of it because it helped her to break her common sugar addiction. Little did she know that she traded it for another 'maintained' high.

Everybody loves the sugar/carbohydrate 'high', it's what it DOES to our physical and mental health that we don't like.

Being all-knowing and 'pig headed' and high and mighty while being gracious all the while, are both a 'trademark' as well as a 'hallmark' of 'stimulant addictions' and the 'high' that goes with them. -- Carbohydrates very much included.

1/28/2008 11:25 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Have to agree with you here. Great, high fat and high refined carb are inflammatory. One then deduces that high fat AND high carb are bad. Interesting, but of limited value. Was it the fat? Or was it the carbs? Or was it the fact that the bun was refined carbs? Or the type of fat? Too much wiggle room. Nice to know about what they found but really of limited value to me. Science deals with controlling one variable at a time. Not two.

1/28/2008 11:52 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

This is pretty interesting. I find that I am addicted to high-carb foods like chips, pasta, breads. But never really to nuts, meat, creams, cheeses. Interesting huh?

1/28/2008 2:26 PM  
Blogger Dan Boyle said...

I personally am confused a bit about all of this. Everybody is mentioning fat but there are different types of fat and to be honest through exhaustive research, nobody can prove what the different types do... especially when to put carbs into the game.

I know you are low carb and so am I but carbs are way necessary especially if you weight train because the are one of the necessary fuel sources. Maybe I am not getting the point between all of this...

1/29/2008 8:22 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Dan, thanks for your comments, but many of my readers would disagree with you about the body needing carbs for fuel. I've been weight training for a couple months and never eat more than 50g carbs daily--EVER!

1/29/2008 9:27 PM  
Blogger Myrna said...

High protein, low carb is great for some but there are people who do well(I assume) on high carb-low glycemic. I have a friend who eats mostly carbs and when I complain that she's not eating enough protein, she says "there's protein in the veggies" which always drives me crazy.

Jimmy, do you think there's anyone who doesn't do well on a high protein diet?

1/30/2008 12:15 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your comment, Myrna! I am all for people finding what will work for them to lose weight and get healthy--even if that means it's not a low-carb lifestyle.

It can be argued through the latest research out of the scientific community that a high-carb diet can cause all sorts of health complications even if weight loss happens. To me, that's what makes livin' la vida low-carb the BEST choice for most people.

I'm not big on a "high-protein" diet, but you should have moderate protein at every meal. But dietary fat is the key element that too many people skimp on when they start eating a low-carb diet.

1/30/2008 12:36 PM  
Blogger Myrna said...

Yes about finding what works for each person. I myself have had to 'trial & error' often to check what I'm reacting to that seemed good for me in the past.

When you speak about latest research from the scientific community on high-carb diet causing all sorts of health complications, are you taking into consideration the fact that people who eat a high-carb diet might be eating ONLY LOW GLYCEMIC CARBS(if they're health/nutrition savvy)?

You said we should have moderate protein at each meal-I totally agree and when I go for an apple or any fruit, I think what protein and fat(usually nuts) can I eat soon after so my blood sugar won't spike.

When I speak about dietary fat, I'm usually referring to nuts and olive oil. What do you include in your diet under dietary fat?

I usually try to gage my meal around The Zone but keep whatever carbs I include low glycemic. I have a difficult time with rice cakes because they happen to be a favorite of mine. I know they're high glycemic so I always add protein and nuts.

In the end, meditation, yoga and qigong round out my healthy life style. Even if my diet is strictly 'healthy' and I miss these, I can crash quickly.

1/30/2008 2:39 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS again, Myrna! By "latest research" I mean all the science that has been documented over the past couple of years showing carbohydrate consumption leads to lower HDL "good" cholesterol, much higher triglycerides, hyperinsulinemia, blood pressure spikes, and even cancer cell growth. Sadly, much of this literature does not take into account the glycemic index of such carbs, so you certainly have a point.

But I would contend that even low-glycemic carbs if eaten in excess can lead to those same health problems which is why I avoid many of them. The glycemic LOAD, on the other hand, is a much more accurate scale by which to choose foods and generally most of those are foods that happen to be the lowest in carbohydrate as well.

Eating fat of ANY kind except for trans fat is essential to good health. We've been sold a bill of goods when those so-called health "experts" tell us that saturated fats and the like are unhealthy. Very clearly, they are not and the reasons are laid out beautifully in Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories. Anyone who has read this book has NO excuse for not understanding the metabolic reasons why dietary fat is indeed healthy and necessary for people to consume. My fat intake is around 60-70% and I gladly consume fats from coconut oil, butter, nuts, seeds, full-fat cheese, heavy cream, and of course full-fat meats.

If The Zone diet works for you, Myrna, then that's AWESOME!!! I know my body couldn't handle that many carbs. But CONGRATULATIONS on making it along with the yoga and meditation a part of your healthy lifestyle. You are living proof of my mantra to find what works for you and then sticking with it! KUDOS and KEEP IT UP!!! :)

1/30/2008 4:02 PM  
Blogger Cindy Moore said...

Myrna, the research I've read has shown that higher carb means more issues, UNLESS calories are kept very low. There's also research that shows that there is NO advantage, as far as blood sugar levels, insulin needs, etc in high or low glycemic carbs. ALL carbs are converted to glucose (except fiber), it's just a matter of how fast. Think of this....the reason why the ADA says sugar (table sugar) is ok for diabetics is because it doesn't increase blood sugar levels or require more insulin than any other carb!

As for fats, I avoid all transfats and I also avoid all "industrial" oils, meaning commercial oils (like corn, canola and soy) that are highly processed as the processing usually includes high heat, which damages fats, particularly polyunsaturated ones. I try to get most of my fats as naturally occurring ones, only adding fat needed for cooking and to add flavor once cooked. When I eat dairy, it's full fat....when I eat meat I don't trim fat, and yep I even eat the skin on chicken, turkey, etc.

1/30/2008 8:12 PM  

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