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Low-Fat Diets Have No Advantage? That Is Patently False.

I just saw this. It’s an excerpt from “Vegan Nutrition Guide” where the author encourages consumption of fat-rich foods and high-fat diets overall. It was written by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, who runs the popular website:

Don’t hesitate to include other fat-rich foods in your diet, too, if you like them. Low-fat diets are based on an outdated understanding of nutrition that’s been largely discredited. Current recommendations support a wide range of fat intakes for good health, anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of daily calories. (This translates to 22 to 39 grams of fat for every 1,000 calories you eat.) What matters most isn’t how much fat you consume, but rather the type of fat you choose.

There’s something that’s not being said in this. Messina used to advocate low-fat. And, no, low-fat diets have not lost favor, they are not “outdated,” they have not been “discredited.” These words, without any back-up, are a red flag. “Discredit” implies that original research was seriously flawed or biased, enough that publishers retract or unpublish the work. I have not seen retraction in this context. “Outdated” implies that newer science favors higher-fat diets. That’s also not the case. I’ve posted study after study that finds benefit to eating low-fat. Here’s one:

Obesity Energetics: Body Weight Regulation And The Effects Of Diet Composition, Gastroenterology, Online 10 Feb 2017

Our meta-analysis of 32 controlled feeding studies with isocaloric substitution of carbohydrate for fat found that both energy expenditure and fat loss were greater with lower fat diets.

It also said:

These results are in the opposite direction to the predictions of the carbohydrate-insulin model.

The carbohydrate-insulin model predicts that the more carb we eat, the more insulin we will secrete – and since insulin directs fat-storage, the more fat we will accumulate. This study found the opposite. It’s not carbs that make us fat, it’s fat that makes us fat. This is what Dr. McDougall has been saying all along, “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.”

It’s worth noting that the lead author on that study, Kevin Hall PhD, may have gone into it with an expectation that high-fat diets were beneficial. He lists “funding from the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) to investigate the effects of ketogenic diets on human energy expenditure.” Ketogentic diets are low-carb, high-fat diets. NuSI is Gary Taubes’ well-funded initiative that I wrote about here: Gary Taubes Is A Low-Carb Advocate. His Multimillion-Dollar Start-Up, NuSI, Found Low-Carb Diets Don’t Work. NuSI lauds itself by claiming its studies are “more rigorous than all of the nutrition research conducted to date.”

So, something happened in Ginny Messina’s life that made her start advocating dietary fat, and it wasn’t science, as she claims:

Based on the extensive research on the health benefits of different unsaturated fats, it’s very difficult to conclude that low-fat diets would have any particular advantage. … Most of us who used to promote benefits of low-fat eating are headed in a new direction as we follow the science.

Low-fat diets have no advantage? That is patently false.

High-fat diets are especially problematic for people with diabetes. Dietary fat contributes to insulin resistance which leads to higher blood levels of glucose and a need for more insulin. (People with type 1 diabetes can experience fat-related insulin resistance just like people with type 2). When you give people with type 1 diabetes a high-fat meal and a low-fat meal, they need more insulin to cover the high-fat meal, even though both meals contain the same amount of carbohydrate and protein:

Repost: What To Eat On A Plant-Based Diet (McDougall Starch Version)

I posted this 3 years ago but the question comes up a lot so I’m reposting it.

From Chapter 13 of Dr. McDougall’s The Starch Solution:

  • The core of the diet focuses on eating starches complemented with nonstarchy vegetables and fruit.
  • The diet excludes all animal foods (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs) and all isolated fats and oils, including olive oil.
  • It does not restrict calories or limit eating. You eat until you are satisfied. If you are hungry an hour later, you eat again.
  • Foods can be combined in any way, with any preparation.

Starches are grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables:

  • Grains include barley, rice, whole or bulgar wheat, farro, corn, millet, oats, rye, spelt, triticale, amaranth, quinoa. You can eat the grain or products made from the grain.
  • Legumes include all beans (adzuki, black, navy, pinto, kidney, cannellini, chickpeas, great northern, lima, mung, soybeans), peas (black-eyed peas, split green and yellow peas), lentils (green, red, brown). Although peanuts are a legume, they “should be minimized or avoided altogether, especially if you are trying to lose weight.”
  • Starchy vegetables include potatoes, root vegetables, and winter squashes. That includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, burdock, cassava, taro, and all the squashes: acorn, kabocha, butternut, kuri, Hubbard, pumpkin, etc.).

Nonstarchy vegetables are summer squashes (zucchini, patty pan, yellow), root vegetables (carrots, beets, jicama, radishes, onions, garlic, fennel, ginger, turmeric), beans (green beans, snap peas, snow peas), mushrooms, and other plants (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, celery, rhubarb, lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, eggplant, tomato, cucumber).

Fruit. You name it, but avocados, olives, and dried fruits, should be minimized or avoided altogether especially if you are trying to lose weight.

In the above description of what to eat, I named three foods that McDougall flags – peanuts, avocados, and olives. Here is his full flagged list along with his reasoning:

There are a few foods that won’t spoil your success with the Starch Solution, but will slow your progress. If you seek to accelerate your weight loss, or if you suffer from a chronic disease or are on the cusp of developing one, I recommend avoiding these foods altogether. If, on the other hand, you are already happy with your weight or not in a hurry to lose, and you do not suffer from chronic illness, you might wish to consider including small quantities of these higher calorie foods in your starch-based meals:

  • Avocados
  • Dried fruits
  • Flours (whole grain, white, all-purpose)
  • Fruits and vegetable juices
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Seeds
  • Simple sugars (table sugar, maple syrup, molasses, agave)

In my experience, the last thing to go for people is oil. They continue to use oil to cook with and as a dressing. There is evidence that a combination of carbohydrates and fat is worse (puts weight on faster, raises blood glucose) than eating carbohydrate or fat alone.

Packaged and processed foods are part of this diet as long as they don’t include animal products. Oatmeal, pasta, whole grain breads, canned or dehydrated beans and soups, jarred sauces and bean dips, frozen vegetables, frozen entrees … it’s all in there.

Running As A Slow, Meditative Practice Provides More Benefits

The internet: A place where people like to say, “Wrong!” But I liked this article so here you are:
We Evolved to Run – But We’re Doing It All Wrong, National Geographic, 30 July 2017

It’s a review of the book, Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human by Vybarr Cregan-Reid.


  • Running allows us to leave the gadgets behind (assuming we can leave the gadgets behind) and connect with our environment. (The author admits “jogging” is a better term but chose “running” because “jogging” conjures pastel tracksuits which he says aren’t “cool.” Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace.)
  • Running causes release of pain-killing endorphins.
  • The ability to run over long distances gave humans an edge over other animals. Running is encoded in our genes:

      The nuchal ligament runs from the base of the skull to the top of the spine.

    • The nuchal ligament stops our heads from tipping forward.
    • Flat faces and teeth that are positioned far back in our heads provide a good center of gravity while running.
    • Being bipedal means only 40% of our body is exposed to the midday sun, compared to 70% in most mammals. As a result, we’re able to keep cooler.
  • We’re awful at sprinting, “but over certain distances, we are better than anything else on the planet.”
  • “Most of the benefits from running derive from going very slowly.”
  • Running is cheap, makes us fitter, and can de-stress us.
  • Treadmills were designed as a form of punishment:

    The treadmill was invented in the early 19th century, when penal philosophers were trying to work out a punishment that was just short of the death penalty. So for well over a hundred years the treadmill was something that people were punished with!

  • The ability to run is split along class lines:

    It’s not easy to find time to run if you’re working two jobs, or if you feel the environment around you isn’t one that welcomes joggers.

About that last point, our former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, had a plan to build exercise paths in areas that weren’t conducive to walking, like in cities or low-income areas. The money was to come from infrastructure spending that both Obama and Trump said was needed. Unfortunately, President Trump fired Murthy in April (with no stated reason) and hasn’t replaced him yet. So this plan is in limbo.

Let this almost-90-year-old woman demonstrate for you her jogging technique:

Dr. Neal Barnard On What To Buy In The Grocery Store

Here’s Ne-Yo’s video that Barnard was responding to:

Dr. Stuart McGill’s Big 3 Exercises For Stabilizing The Back

Here’s a video Robert shared in comments. It has totally changed my thinking on how to protect the back from injury.

University of Waterloo kinesiology professor Stuart McGill is one of the world’s foremost experts on spine biomechanics. Here, he discusses several pervasive myths about back injury, exercise, proper lifting, and strengthening the core.

McGill: “Most people will not get through life without some element of back pain impinging on their activity.”

I’ve watched this video several times. I’ve learned a lot, like, a flexible back or a strong back are not protective of back injury. In fact, they are associated with more injury. The muscles of the back stabilize, they prevent movement. But back muscles require endurance because they’re in use constantly. I did not know this. I thought flexibility and strength were important. I’m changing how I treat my back.

Here’s a good video showing McGill’s “Big 3” exercises for stabilizing the back:

Bird Dog
Modified Curl-up
Side Plank

I’ve been doing the bird dog every day. It requires balance!

Explainer: How People With Diabetes Can Go On A High-Carb Diet And Lower Their Blood Glucose

This video by Dr. Neal Barnard should be watched by every medical professional. It’s 11 minutes, but I encourage you to stick with it. It comes together in the end:


The buildup of fat inside cells, largely from dietary sources, interferes with insulin sensitivity. That makes it difficult for glucose to enter cells which results in high blood glucose levels. (He shows a diagram beginning around the 7:06 minute mark that illustrates this.)

Here’s the randomized clinical trial he ran, and that he refers to, where he showed that a high-carb, low-fat, vegan diet lowered blood glucose more than a lower-carb diet prescribed by the American Diabetes Association: A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Improves Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Randomized Clinical Trial in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes

These are people with diagnosed diabetes, not prediabetes, not occasional high fasting or post-meal glucoses. I’ve talked about this concept, this particular study even, for years but people keep saying, “But I can’t eat carbs, they make my blood sugar go up.” Yes, when you first go on this diet, your blood glucose with go up. But it comes down after a few days. And it keeps coming down if you stick with the diet:

9:51 “… the effects are pretty consistent that you see improvements. And that’s really, really important because a plant-based diet has rice in it, and it has pasta, and it has beans, and you’re encouraging your nervous patient to eat these foods and they have been hearing for years that these things are going to affect them.

And they will. They go home and they eat your spaghetti and their blood sugar rises for the first few days because they’re very insulin resistant. And then after a while something happens, which is their blood sugar starts to fall and fall and fall and fall.

And what we believe is happening is that intramyocellular lipid is starting to dissipate. Their insulin resistance is starting to go away. Their insulin sensitivity is returning and you’re reversing the course of this disease.

How far will it go? It really depends on how soon you intervene in their life. You can’t expect that a person whose pancreas has been pummeled by this disease for 25 years to throw their medications away and be diabetes free. But on the other hand it makes sense to have every patient begin this kind of regimen as soon as you can. And all the side effects are good ones. Their cholesterols fall, their blood pressures fall. We’ve seen many patients where their erectile dysfunction improves, it goes away.”

Yes. People with diabetes can go on a high-carb diet and see their blood glucose fall, their HbA1c fall. The clincher: they have to eat low-fat. If they continue eating olive oil, yogurt, cheese, butter, eggs, chicken, fish, beef, bacon, etc. … it won’t work.