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There has been  a lot of coverage on low carb and low fat diets recently and on any one day we are being told that low fat will make you fat and low carb will give you a heart attack or at very least raise your chances of getting a heart attack. Ofcourse all these articles are at one level nonsense. The news article, this week,  based on the BMJ published study didnt tell anyone that the whole study was based on very poor evidence and was only a statistical study  so about as much use as a blow to the head with a lead mallet unless you transfer that into clincial trials.

So the science is confusing and them made even more confusing by the press who want great headlines and sell copy…All well and good but we , as a nation, are getting fatter and fatter. The simple answer is to blame food companies or greed but as the experts know the problem is far more complex than these knee jerk reactions by thin people who would be thin whatever they did.

The current and continuting response by government to all the evidence is to treat us all alike which is the biggest piece of nonsense ever.  So an obese diabetic is being told to eat in the same way as my slim and very fit 17 year old son who works out in the gym three or four times a week.  The lady who is a stone overweight is being told that she needs the same diet as the man who works 8 hours in the building site but just a little less!

We are all different and there is no diet that will suit all of us all the time. Indeed just to confuse things we know that we may need to change from one diet to another diet at different stages of our life to maximise our health and therefore what worked at 20 may not work at 40 or 50.

So where should we start. Should you go low fat low carb or low calorie or just not care?

To be honest the journey of finding the right diet for the individual is hard.

I would recommend the following start position if you are struggling with your weight and have been for years.  Firstly think carefully about whether you want to lose weight for now or for life. Then and only then decide on what you want to do. The options are very different if you want a complete change that will last.

Short term quick change can be delivered with the promise of eating less and that can be a lot less or a little less. The problem for sustainability with eating less is the natural decline of the metabolic rate. This is simply the rate at which your body uses calories and as you limit your food intake your body will over time limit its calorie burn. The body is not stupid. If you want to use eating less as a long term means of losing weight for life then you must do the following

Eat less and less – you must keep reducing your calorie intake OR

You must somehow preserve your metabolic rate with the less calories and that can only be done in the Gym with heavy weights. You must also keep your levels of protein high to preserve muscle mass which is one of the keys to retaining metabolic rate. When you starve yourself by eating less your body will first turn to muscle as an energy source and this will eat into your metabolic rate.

 

The other choice is to simply cut out starch and sugar. That is not cutting out green leafy vegetables or nuts or seeds. So this is sometimes called the low carb option but for many they confuse that with not eating green vegetables ….The brilliance of this method of eating is that your calories stay sensible and you eat healthy portions of protein. You are just cutting out the unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients which have e no nutritional benefits other than quick and cheap energy. Because you are not starving yourself you will not lose metabolic rate and you will actually preserve muscle.

It is really not complex but you do need to be brave because if you read the nonsense in the papers ( as presented by the journalists) you would think that you would be killing yourself.

 

 

30 June 2012

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Last week there was an excellent article written by William Leith in The Sunday Telegraph about the growing use of sugar in our diet that most consumers were not aware of.  He rightly points out that bread and sausages and many other processed foods are being stuffed with sugar for taste and as a cheap filler. To add insult the food industry is also devleoping fruit that is sweeter and is busy pushing sugar in numerous forms on all of us and disguising it as a health product. We have all seen earnest young mums offering thier children dried fruit products as alternative for sweets not realising that sugar is sugar and whilst there may be some fibre in the dried fruit – the effect on taste buds and blood sugar is not that different.

William also focused on fructose and how the body metabolises this type of sugar and the many and varied side affects of fructose on the body which positively encourage diabetes. However what he did not write about is the poison in our thinking about fructose.  Fructose is used by many food companies as a way of making things sweet and indeed some food companies positively believe it is a good replacement to sugar. The reason for this is based on the glyceamic index (GI)of foods and fructose has a far lower GI rating than its well known brother sugar.  For this reason some so called health companies have been busy using fructose in abundance in the belief that a low GI count will mean that it is healthy.

Fructose is low GI but is definitely not healthy and should be avoided unless you are eating it as part of whole fruit and even then too much fruit is not great for a vast amount of the population.

Thank you William for writing such a great article and thank you Dr Rober Lustig who is the anti sugar campaigner who stimulated William into writing the article.

10 April 2012

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Just recently a paper was published in Circulation Research which is a publication put together by the American Heart Association .  What is really fascinating is how it was not picked up by the UK press at all.  So while we were being bombarded with a lot of noise about a large study about processed meats which was based on a ” health questionnaire ” another study showing that replacing carbohydrate with fat was not even mentioned. This study was not based on health questionnaires but clinical trials and so was a far more robust piece of work.  Again this shows the fascination the press in the UK have for these large but somewhat inaccurate studies known as epidemilogoical studies. The numbers are always impressive but what everyone seems to miss is the fact that they are not clinical trials in any sense of the word.

I hope that a few people who are really interested in understand human metabolism will take the trouble to read this study and understand that fat is not bad and indeed fats may be the very food that protect our heart.

17 March 2012

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When I first discovered the brilliance of low carb I was 10 years younger and a full time lawyer. My decision to go low carb for life came after a long period of reading about the history of the human diet as well as the studies being published illustrating the benefits in clinical trials.  We were evolved to eat low carb, high protein and the clinical trials constantly support this position.

Once I made the change I never looked back and whilst for some, the reason to go low carb is purely weight loss, for me it was general health. For years I believed that others in the world of health would see the same evidence that was so obvious to a lawyer but it seemed that I was a loan voice in a noisy market of low fat and high carb advocates.  Indeed the only people that seemed to share my understanding of human nutrition and food metabolism were either very specialist doctors in the US and the wonderful Dr John Briffa in the UK.

True low carb is really eating as a caveman which means that we should only eat natural foods and that is why I set up golower so that any low carbers or even non low carbers could eat snacks and food that lived up to the true principals of low carb eating. Whilst it does take years to develop products with such strict nutritional guidelines it is worth it as there is nothing more important than our bodies and our health , both inside and out.

Now 10 years on I am thrilled to see that Joanna Blythman , the very well respected food journalist, has written a great book on the subject called What to Eat. For me this is a brilliant break through and I do hope many more people will be open to the fantastic world of low carb which has been  seen as unhealthy or faddish. This is a real life changing diet and not only does it bring great changes to your body shape it actually gives you great health inside from lowering your blood pressure to reducing your bad cholesterol.

Thank you Joanna for having the balls to write this book.

11 March 2012

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We are all told that starch is essential for human life and indeed we have a whole food industry working towards starch being used in almost everything we eat. It is hard to buy anything that hasn’t been bulked up with starch.
Starch is fantastic for bulking up profit as it is cheap to produce but you can add on a massive margin to the consumer who has been told by the health industry that starch is essential to human life. Of course what the public aren’t told is that the studies which apparently show that starch is essential for human life are being funded by the starch companies.
Now what I can’t understand is why the nutrition profession do not make the public aware of the most basic fact of all which is that there are NO ESSENTIAL CARBS required for human life. We have essential amino acids – that is protein and we have essentially fatty acids which are fats and we have essential vitamins and minerals most of which are readily available in protein and fats. Having said that it is true that within the carbohydrate group we have leafy green vegetables which have lots of essential nutrients as do nuts seeds and some fruit.
So is it any wonder that we have health problems when the main constituent part of our diet today is based on the least essential food there is…otherwise known as STARCH. It is also not surprising to any fan of the hunter gatherer diet otherwise known as the Palaeolithic diet that guess what – if you cut out this totally unessential food you may actually improve your chances of either avoiding or minimising the risk of cancer.
Anyone that has any knowledge of early man (up till just 150,000 years ago) knows that cancer was not apparent. So to anyone with this knowledge knows that the recent study coming out of Canada showing that cancer growth can be stopped on a low carb high protein diet is not that ground breaking.
Man is quite happy living off ketones instead of glucose and what is not surprising is that certain cancer cells can only live of glucose which is the modern fuel of man. Cancer is a modern disease and will be linked to the way we live our lives today including the food we eat.
No of course the doubters out there will wave their finger at me and say “ what about all those studies showing that eating meat gives you bowel cancer ….etc. “.
Well yet again it is the food industry selling you short. Those studies are not clinical studies which mean they are making assumptions based on stats. It is true that a lot of people who eat a lot of meat will also be eating a lot of crap with their meat which is not the low carb way. Once you add in the low carb element the risk of meat – disappears.
Sad but true.
So for all you out there worrying about diabetes or cancer…go low carb and take control of your body the natural way.
The study will appear in the July issue of Cancer Research.

29 June 2011

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In May it was announced that GPs would be paid to tell their patients if they were obese.  There was the usual outcry about such schemes from either those believing that GPs are paid too much as it is or by others who had understood this to mean that GPs would be taking responsibility for the weight loss.

There is no doubt about the fact that weight loss in isolation is harder than weight loss within a proper group or network or structure. This means that you have a better chance of losing weight, whatever the method, if you have proper help.

There is also no doubt about the fact that many people are not always properly confronting their weight issues.  One
client recently admitted that even though she had been obese for many many years the trigger that made her pick up the phone to us was the moment when her doctor wrote obese in his letter to the specialist at hospital on a quite
unrelated matter. It was facing up to the reality of the situation that gave her the push to make a real change.

I think in many ways being a smoker is not so different to being obese.  Giving up the weed is not easy.  It really is about changing your habits. For many it is not going to the pub for a bit so that you break the association between alcohol and the fag.  For others it might be not going to the regular coffee break at work to stop the fag break
outside or it might be replacing the fag with the patch or the false cigarette but whatever the change
it will only work if you keep the change for life.   However, most diets  don’t really make any fundamental changes to
the way people eat or think about food. And without change – real change you can be sure that it will not last.

The low or reduced calorie diets, and boy there are a lot of them, try to make you eat less and by doing so help you lose weight. Apart from the slightly dodgy science which underpins these regimes (think metabolic rate) they also argue
that they teach you portion control. If that were true the world would be a thinner place now. We have had these diets
around for over 30 years and most fat woman today have tried them at some point.  Eating less doesn’t work in
isolation because often we will eat less but eat more often as the food we are eating is making us more hungry more regularly ( see the effect on blood sugar levels of certain foods).  Also eating less is seen as part of a diet and when the diet is over…guess what we go back to piling the food back onto our plate in abundance. Diet over ! Now let living and eating begin.  With low calorie diets the principal is that nothing is off the menu but just eat less. The Marjorie Dawes character from Little Britain is the perfect example of how to eat less but have more.  In addition this approach teaches nothing about the effects of different foods on the body. How some foods will actually stop you wanting to eat more and others will drive your body to want more.  Very salty or sweet foods will drive hunger.  Protein drives satiety. Fibre has been associated with fullness but actually performs poorly when compared with protein.

And so we see ladies on and off these well known low /reduced calorie diets blaming themselves for not losing weight and constantly paying for overpriced “diet foods” which have little or no nutrients and teach them nothing.

The next category of diet is the extreme version called the very low calorie diet or shake diet.  Their brilliant idea is
that we get you thin through starvation (think metabolic rate again but far worse) and then say, after depriving you of  food, that it  is ok but you must only ever eat up to 1200 calories a day! Well no surprises that this sort of regime
doesn’t work either. Think all of the above but now add additional problems with fear of food, deprivation and metabolic mess up!

So to really change a person’s shape you need to change what they eat and help them change for life.  This does not mean eating the same food when you were fat and when you are thin. It does not mean a little less of the same. A diet is not just for January as the famous saying goes.

 

30 May 2011

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Every day I find myself speaking to someone who is surprised
by the concept of low carb / high protein diets.  There seems to be a deep and profound belief
that we have eaten a diet low in fat and high in grains for many many years.
There is also a deep belief that somehow the low carb way of life is faddy and
weird. This deep belief is actually quite recent and we only need to go back a
short period of time to see the normality of low carb eating.

It is hard to understand how anyone would think that the
human diet is based on vegetables. It is politically safe but that should not
make it right. Actual human anthropology shows that the only food that took us
from monkeys to Homo sapiens was MEAT. And in fact it was the marrow in the
bone that really helped us develop our minds. So vegetables were not critical
to our development. I know that some experts talk about our diet being based on
tubular plants prior to our evolution into Homo sapiens but we were a different
species.

So the idea that our natural diet is based on vegetables is
a little innocent when it comes to human history. Indeed if we had stuck with
vegetables we would still be swinging from trees and living a far more primitive
life.

Even if the vegetable lover accepts the development of the
human mind was dependant on meat they appear to have a complete blank on human
history spanning over 150,000 years when we lived as hunter gatherers relying
primarily on what we could hunt and kill. Vegetables and fruit were seasonal
and grains were not even widely available. Yes for 150,000 years we were low
carbing and didn’t even know it!

But even more naïve is the idea that a high protein /low
starch diet as a means of losing fat  is
new.  We know from letters written by
Darwin that he was a great fan of what he perceived was the natural human diet –
low carb / high protein.  We also know
from The Philosopher in the Kitchen by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first
published in 1825 that the natural solution for obesity was cutting out sugar
and starch. In addition it was also the diet of choice for the hero of Anna
Karenina, Count Vronsky which was published during the 1870s.  Leo Tolstoy recognised the use of low carb /
high protein diets for good health and obesity avoidance.

So low carb is not new or faddy. It is as old as the hills
that we walked as hunter gatherers before the industrialisation of food and
man.

9 May 2011

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Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and no doubt most of Britain will be tucking into their chocolate eggs with delight and glee to celebrate the end of lent and denial. Shortly after Easter many happy easter egg eaters will feel a little uncomfortable and decide that it is now time to lose weight for the summer or that family wedding or to fit into the mini bikini sitting at the back of the cupboard.
The first thing that many people do in their desperation to lose those extra love handles is to switch from sugar to artificial sweeteners. The shelves are now full of products stuffed with artificial sweeteners with the message that now you don’t need to miss out or sacrifice taste for your waistline.
The message that artificial sweeteners are somehow good for weight loss is one that has been around since the early days of saccharine in the 60s and 50s. Unfortunately, even though it might be an old message it is a very misleading message. The truth is that these nasty concoctions of chemists are frankly a really unpleasant side of modern food production but putting aside the issue of whether anyone should be eating complex chemical concoctions there are two critical issues which most people looking to weight are not aware of.
Firstly the body is clever but it cannot recognise sugar from sweeteners when they hit the tongue. So at the moment that your tongue picks up a sweet taste it will do what the body will always do and that is send a message to the pancreas that something sweet is about to hit the blood stream. This allows the body to prepare for a sugar hit and therefore the pancreas will release a shot of insulin to deal with the anticipated sugar in the blood stream – otherwise known as glucose. Even though there is no spike in the blood sugar levels because you have eaten a calorie free sweetener, the body has still produced insulin which is the hormone that is responsible for making us overweight. So we have the bizarre situation that insulin has been released unnecessarily and constant pressure on the pancreas can result in the over production of insulin which in turn can give rise to unnecessary fat gain and ultimately type 2 diabetes.
The second problem is that sugar is addictive and whilst it is cheaper than the other white stuff it is just as addictive. Any diet can only work if it changes the way you eat rather than simply deprives you of food for a period of time. Replacing sugar with sweeteners will not break the dependency on sweetness in your diet and that is the very issue that needs addressed. Changing this is not easy but the affects last a lifetime and not just the length of the diet.
So when you see something sweet remember that humans were only designed to eat fruit and other sweet items seasonally and frankly as a very rare treat – not an everyday affair.

23 April 2011

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Anyone who really understands human biochemistry knows that ketogenic diets are great for weight loss and in particular ketogenic diets which are natural – and by that I mean whole food – deliver the best sustainable results.  What a lot of folk don’t really understand is how ketogenic diets are also fantastic for other metabolic disorders. 

The first group of people that could really benefit from recognition of natural ketogenic diets are the diabetics and without a great deal of work we could cut the NHS bill by several hundred million and not lose a single job.  Another less well known group who are serious beneficiaries of natural ketogenic diets are epileptics. This has been well known in the US for some years now and Meryl Streep and long been a supporter of what has been defined as revised Atkins. 

The need for dieticians to become educated in ketogenic diets is desperate as they could improve the health of numerous different patients in very real and deliverable ways.  The patients they could help range from epileptics through to diabetics and now there is research that shows that cancer patients may also have real benefits from cutting out sugar and starch.

What is hard for most people wishing to live a low carb life is the lack of natural high quality products available to them to buy. Everything today is full of either sugar or starch. Indeed we find that today many companies like M and S and other well-known trusted brands are actually developing, through third party suppliers, strawberries which are extra sweet.  Too much sweet stuff makes the human body crave more and more and so the battle to lose weight becomes harder and harder. 

And for those that fear ketogenic diets do remember that the diet which man was evolved to eat is simply a ketogenic diet which has been with us for over 150,000 years and the low fat high carb option currently recommended by HM Gov has been with us for just for 20 years during which time we have got fatter than ever before….

8 April 2011

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Over last week there was a great deal of diet chat over the airways in regard to red meat and the regular returning fear of cancer.

This excitement was triggered by a recommendation by SACN (the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) who had decided in their ultimate wisdom that notwithstanding the fact that we have evolved to eat meat in large quantities, this food is probably bad for us.

Now before we go into the studies that the SACN relied upon to make their announcement you have to remember that this same committee also announced that low fat is good for us and that eggs are bad for us.  Both these pronouncements have been quietly forgotten and no doubt in due course the latest proclamation will also be lost from the website.

When taking advice from any individual you need to look at their track record of evaluating and providing advice and the track record for SACN is poor.  The damage that the low fat message has done to the UK population is beyond calculation and there can be no doubt that the messages released by SACN have directly contributed to the obesity epidemic.

So what are these studies that tell us red meat is going to cause cancer? Are they clinical trials or are they epidemiological and if epidemiological have they been supported with smaller clinical trials…Well you can guess the answer to this.

And what adds insult to injury is that the NHS website also then recommends that we get iron from our cereal in the morning. Well let’s all be clear that the iron found in cereal packets has been added by the big cereal companies. Why don’t we just hand out vitamins and minerals in capsules to the British population to avoid eating whole unprocessed food?

Recommendation by SACN in 2011

Eat cardboard and take tablets for your minerals and vitamins

8 March 2011

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