The online journal Open
Heart just published a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized
controlled trials (RCTs) available to the U.S. and U.K. regulatory committees
when they were creating the guidelines for dietary fat intake in 1977 and 1983.
And this analysis showed that there was no evidence to support the dietary fat
guidelines that were put in place.
The Dietary Guidelines have
wide ranging impact on US policies and programs, and can have serious
environmental, political, business and socioeconomic consequences. At their
core, these guidelines influence our national conversation about what we eat —
However, what’s rarely discussed is the
science on which the dietary guidelines decisions are supposed to be based.
These dietary fat guidelines recommended that we cut the fat
to about 30% of our total daily calories, and reduce saturated fat, from red
meat and dairy products like milk, egg and cheese, down to no more than 10% of
total calories. Yet neither of these recommendations were ever tested or
proven. The result? We started avoiding fat, all right—in favor of
carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugars and triglycerides and cause
more harm than the fat that comes from red meat and diary products. Consuming package
after package of cookies because they were labeled “low-fat” was clearly not
The guidelines, intended to
make Americans healthier, have done anything but. Adult obesity rates have
doubled since 1980 when the guidelines were first released, and they’re set to increase another 50%
by 2030. Meanwhile, childhood obesity and diabetes diagnoses have tripled.
The dietary guidelines are clearly not
working towards their goal of improving public health and maintaining a healthy
weight. The definition of insanity is
often said to be doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different
results. While there is some evidence to support a link between
dietary fat consumption and heart disease, so many other factors need to be
taken into account. Dietary fat consumption has little to do with cholesterol
levels as compared to the cholesterol circulating in our bodies that is
produced by the liver. Even the American Heart Association has softened its
stance on dietary fat consumption, and now focuses on the types of fat you
should consume and the quality of your diet as a whole.
While researchers have not determined the optimal percentage
of fat consumption, if you’re doing Atkins, study after study has shown that
when we restrict or limit carbs (especially the simple carbs loaded with sugar)
we are able to consume higher levels of fats because they are being burned for fuel. In other
words, you are on the right track if you’re consuming a diet rich in dairy, red
meat, poultry, fish, healthy fats, fresh vegetables, and; in later Phases, (or
if you’re doing Atkins 40™);
fruits, legumes, starchy vegetables and whole grains.