Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat, Is There a Best Diet? Part 1

On the heels of last week’s entry about recommended daily protein intake, I thought it would be prudent to try and clarify misconceptions about the other two macronutrients, fats and carbohydrates, and to explore if there really is a “best diet”.

 

Where protein is constantly being utilized and overturned in the human body and thus requires perpetual replenishment throughout the day, fats and carbs don’t follow such rules and are subject to individual variability. For this reason, the low-carb v. low-fat “best diet” argument continues to run in circles, so let’s explore these maligned macronutrients and how they can either help or hinder our health and fitness goals.

 

Back in the 80s the low-fat agenda hit the mainstream media and North Americans took the bait hook, line and sinker. Fat has more calories per gram (nine) than both protein and carbs (four), so this was an easy argument to sell: taking in less fat will lead to fewer calories and body fat will drop accordingly.

 

The laws of thermodynamics supported this seemingly undeniable truth. However, North Americans have done nothing but get fatter and sicker since this trend occurred.

Enter the 2000s along with Dr. Atkins and the low-carb craze: It’s not the fat that makes people fat, it’s the carbs. Although the good doctor was onto something — sugar is indeed a massive problem — vilifying all carbs gave the world a complex.

 

We now live in a world where low-carb diet variations run amuck, low-fat diets are sworn by in the leanest community of all (bodybuilding) and every internet fitness blogger has his or her stake planted firmly in one camp or another.

 

Here we are, in 2016, afraid of carbs and confused about fats. Before trying to clear the muddy waters, let’s investigate how we got here in the first place. The covers ofTime magazine give us a nice chronological visual:

 

January 1961: “Dr. Ancel Keys claims saturated fats clog arteries”
March 1984: “Cholesterol: And Now the Bad News…” (Fat will kill you)
July 1999: “Cholesterol: … And Now the Good News” (Fat isn’t the problem after all)
June 2014: “Eat Butter: Scientists labelled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.”

 

In the span of roughly 50 years, the government and mainstream media condemned dietary fat (notably saturated fats and foods high in cholesterol) before making a now near-complete 180. In 2016 butter is no longer bad, and in case you missed the headlines, the U.S. government declared cholesterol no longer “a nutrient of concern for overconsumption” and completely removed it from their dietary guidelines.

 

Where we went wrong

 

In a nutshell, we jumped to conclusions and painted with a wide brush. Dietary fat was easy to blame given the negative connotation of the word “fat,” and society ran wild with this government-approved solution.

 

In fairness to the government, they wanted people to eat less fat in favour of more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which is far from malicious. The problem occurred when human nature took over and we pushed things to the extreme.

 

Both consumers and producers heard “all fat is bad” and “all carbs are good,” so food companies took processing to a whole new level and people began justifying junk food as healthy. Dairy companies stripped the nutrient-containing fats from their products and added nutrient-devoid sugar while producers of baked goods did the same.

 

Before long, there was so much sugar and so few nutrients in the North American diet that obesity and disease skyrocketed.

 

How does this explain the rise of heart disease and cholesterol?…

 

Read the article in its entirety at The Huffington Post: This Is Why We’re Afraid Of Carbs And Confused By Fats | Dain Wallis

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Nutrition Coach

Dain Wallis is a Nutrition Coach from Toronto, Canada and a published writer for several media outlets including Bodybuilding.com and The Huffington Post. An expert in nutrition and change management, Dain's mandate is to educate his clients while empowering them to make sustainable changes reflective of their individual goals and aspirations. An avid strength athlete, Dain is also currently the 5th strongest lightweight man in the world.