Module 7: The Re-Birth Of The Low-Fat Diet?
This week, let's kick things off with a nursery rhyme. Wait, what? Yup, we're doing this...
"Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean."
I'm sure you know that line. But you may not remember the 2nd line...
"And so between them both, they licked the platter clean."
Often times you'll see an artist's drawing that accompanies this nursery rhyme when it appears in books or magazines. Without fail, the artist will show a skinny Jack, and an overweight wife.
Because when taken at face value, a person who eats very little fat would of course be skinny. And a person who "could eat no lean" would of course be fat.
That was the conventional wisdom for years. But then the low-carb phrase kicked in to high gear. Atkins and his followers swore up and down that eating fat was NOT what made you fat. 50 years later, the Paleo crowd is still carrying the torch for the "fat doesn't make you fat movement."
By now almost everybody knows that eating fat doesn't make you fat and if you want to lose weight quickly, cutting carbs is usually your best bet.
But... what if we were wrong? What if a low-fat diet really is the best way get lean?
=====The Potato Diet Experiment=====
A while back I did an experiment where I ate nothing but white potatoes for 4 days. Traditionally, white potatoes and all white foods are viewed as "bad." So you'd think scarfing down white foods all day long would have caused me to gain body fat.
It didn't. I actually lost fat over the 4 day experiment. Obviously, part of that is because it's almost impossible to over-eat if you follow a mono-food diet. (A mono food diet is any diet that restricts you to a single food item. Potatoes are popular but many people have repeated this same experiment with bananas and seen good results.)
***Faster Fat Loss And More Muscle Gained With High Carb/Low Fat Diet?)***
This study shows that a high-carb/low-fat diet actually produced greater fat loss than a high-fat/low carb diet.... even though the study participants all ate exactly the same number of calories.
In another study (link not available because it's behind a paywall), experienced (more than 2 years of lifting experience) drug-free trainees actually gained more lean mass and gained less fat when following a traditional bodybuilding training split (4x per week with high volume training) with a super high-carb diet. (800 grams of carbs per day, less than 50 grams of fat.)
Finally, this rat study shows that a high-carb/low-fat diet worked like gangbusters for some rats... while other rats did better with a lower-carb approach.
So what's the verdict?
So here's the deal. You need to experiment to find what works best for YOU. I'd recommend picking a lower-than normal calorie target: Say 1500 for simplicity. Try eating low-carb/high fat foods for 3 days and stay under 1500 calories.
Note how you feel, weight loss and energy levels. Then try the experiment again with a high-carb/low fat approach.
Keep in mind you need to keep fat very low on your high carb diet and carbs very low on your high-fat diet for this test to be accurate.
Most People Will Discover A Clear Winner -- but NOT based on weight loss.
Some people will feel like death warmed over on the low-fat approach. While others will thrive on the low-carb approach. I've seen raving low-carb fans try a low-fat diet and be incredibly amazed at how full & happy they feel (even with limited calories on a low-fat diet.)
So you've really got to try this out and see for yourself which approach works better for you.
General Rule: Low-Fat For The Lean, Low-Carb For The Obese
As a general rule, I've found that people who have more than 25 pounds of fat to lose do better with low-carb diets. While people who are close-to-lean or already lean do better with a low-fat approach.
Part of this has to do with compliance. Low-carb diets force you to eliminate options which leads to better compliance. And I still see value in rotating high carb and low-carb days like I recommend in my books because this way you never have to suffer from the effects of a low-carb diet or the effects of a low-fat diet.
So as a final wrap-up, if you've been struggling with a low-carb diet for a while and it's just not working, change directions and try a low-fat diet for a while. The results might surprise you.
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