I’m sure by now you’ve seen a video or some form of literature telling you to eat more fat to lose weight. I thought it was very counter intuitive and silly to begin with. However, I’m realizing that there’s some legitimacy to this idea after all. Fats have served mankind very well in the past prior to the arrival of our modern day grains. The whole idea of this is to eat as much fat containing products as possible and consume no sugar or carbohydrates. For most people, it ends up being a high meat low carb diet.
Some high fat diet anthropology
Dr Stephen Phinney M.D., an expert on this diet talks about how this has been a way of lifestyle for various groups around the world. He explains how in 1878, Frederick schwatka, a US army surgeon led an arctic expedition looking for a previous lost expeditions, into the Canadian Arctic and writing some observations in his diary. Unlike previous expeditions, he decided to adopt a diet of the locals as opposed to packing food. After leaving the west Hudson Bay, and after 14 months later, traveling for 3,000 miles, came back to tell about it, with everybody with him alive and well. The diet comprised of only reindeer meat, and took them about 2 to 3 weeks to adapt to it.
The Masai of east Africa are another group that depended on meat, milk and blood only. These were not farmers but hunters. They were taller than all there neighboring groups, and appeared to have had no health issues known to us.
How it works
There’s a lot of merit about this diet. To begin with, diabetics historically depended on a high fat low carb diets prior to the use of exogenous insulin. It makes sense because it’s the carbs that insulin responds to. For anyone who is in prediabetis with insulin resistance, this is a perfect diet. Decreasing the secretion of insulin has an additional benefit of not expanding your fat cells. Insulin is anabolic, so it’s presence in your blood results in an uptake of fatty acids into cells. With the reduction of carbs, is a reduction in insulin and more utilization of fats for energy.
About weight loss, once your body adapts to using fat as it’s primary fuel, people on this diet typically lose on average 10 pounds a month. It usually starts off with rapid weight loss. The rapid weight loss that occurs in the first week is thought to be from depletion of glycogen storage, which releases from itself, a lot of water. Your level of satiety is very high on this diet compared to a high carb diet, and hence people tend to eat below or around the daily calorie requirement that can sustain weight loss. The idea that I could eat bacon, eggs, steak, lamb, veal, ham, chicken with the skin on, and more and still lose weight seemed like a joke at first. But it’s apparently a true joke, if there’s such a thing. This is either the best diet ever or the worst health disaster in the making. Speaking of health…..
When this diet first came about, there was a lot questions about potential cardiovascular risks. There’s was and still is a strong belief that eating fat causes people to get fat. At worst, it’s though that high fat consumption will result in a build up of plaque into you circulation and straight up kill you. Well it’s true. But only if you eat a combination of high fat and high carbs. The presence of carbs spikes the level insulin telling you body to store all the fat. Because your body at this point has no reason to use fat, with all the carbs around. By simply cutting out the carbs in your diet to as low as possible, you can eat a lot more fat. People that have been on this diet and had their blood work done have shown no drastic changes in cholesterol or triglycerides for that matter. In fact, the opposite happened.
There are concerns about muscle loss and cardiac problems stemming from extreme muscle loss expressed by some critics of the diet. There isn’t enough research about this to prove or disprove that, but it’s possible. It’s advised to stay very well hydrated and exercise as frequently as possible on this diet. Some people recommend having some carbs before periods of intense exercise.
Many versions of this diet currently exist. The ketogenic diet as its popularly known, is an extreme version of the low carb spectrum that requires dieters to not exceed over 21 grams of carbs, and a lot of fat in order to induce a state of ketosis. Not to confuse with diabetic keto-acidosis, a pathological state in hyperglycemia that can occur among diabetics with no insulin. The body adapts to using ketones as a source of energy, once adapted to low carbs.
The weight loss diet competition
There’s a lot of diets out there all promising you some massive weight loss. As with anything, you aught to remember that if you cannot make that diet as a part of your lifestyle, it won’t work well for you. It’s also important to remember why you are doing it, in order to stay motivated. In my view, the goal should be to stay strong and healthy. This diet clearly cannot work with everybody, but according to proponents, it’s by far an easier diet in terms of appetite control, in camparison to high carb low fat diets. But unlike most diets this is a very expensive diet to maintain, considering all the meat consumption and dairy products. Considering that meat production in most of the western world is not particularly optimal, this diet gives you additional issues to worry about. Organic meat products from grass fed livestock are even more expensive. One has to do some careful planning to get the most out of you grocery money.
There’s many experts on this subject and if you’re considering this diet, I would urge you to consult a physician first prior to starting, as with any diet.