I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again: I’m a pretty big guy. I’ve got a big body. And I want to lose weight. But, I’m also a pretty slow learner when it comes to nutrition. I know that I need to eat fruits and vegetables, and I’m aware that eating a lot of processed foods isn’t good for me. But, I’m not always sure about the best way to eat—especially for weight loss.
This is a review of the book “Fat Fiction: How (Not) to Feed a Hungry World” by Mark Schilling & Barry Popkin. Fat fiction is a term coined by Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina . It is a term that describes the way that the food industry has “fed a hungry world” for the past several decades, by marketing food that is fattening and makes us fat and sick. They did this by using slick marketing techniques to convince us that we really needed to eat lots of fat and sugar and be fat and sick because…well, for no good reason.
Recently, I fell victim to the well-intentioned, but misguided message of the “fat acceptance” movement. I was told that there was no way to lose weight and be healthy at the same time. I was told that you can only lose weight by eating less food. I was told that losing weight was an impossibility. I was told that the only way to lose weight was to starve yourself, and that depriving yourself was an effective solution for weight loss. I was told that it was impossible to find motivation for weight loss, and that if you weighed more than you wanted to, then you weren’t trying hard enough. I was told what I weighed probably wasn’t healthy, and that I should therefore try to lose weight. I
There are many scenes in the new film Fat Fiction that made me smile: Dr. Brian Lenzkes welcomes his patients; dietician Alyssa Gallagher challenges her patients’ lack of improvement so far; and obesity expert Dr. Sarah Hallberg steadfastly refuses to accept the notion that diabetes is a condition that is always progressing and incurable.
These scenes reinforce the film’s main theme, which is that low-carb diets are a good approach to enhance your health. However, this message is often missed in the film.
I provide my perspective on the triumphs and failures of fat fiction as a licensed dietitian with a background in nutrition, public health, and communications.
The most important discoveries of Fat Fiction Diet is changing people’s lives.
The video shines as it follows physicians who wish to help their patients’ health by recommending low-carb diets. We get a peek of an unique and thrilling reality in these moments: these patients and their treating doctors have completely transformed their lives with a simple dietary adjustment.
Patients are eager to brag about their achievements, which include medication reduction or cessation, weight loss, and the elimination of hunger and cravings. When doctors and dietitians speak about the profound pleasure they get from seeing their patients heal, they grin widely.
The advantages of a low-carbohydrate diet in managing obesity and type 2 diabetes have been well documented for these individuals. The low-carb diet has enabled these physicians to rediscover their passion for medicine.
Returning to a carbohydrate-restricted diet
Individual achievements are mirrored in the film’s message of hope: the recognition that individuals with obesity and diabetes may benefit from a decrease in dietary carbs is slowly returning to conventional dietetics’ therapeutic elements.
The American Diabetes Association has acknowledged that decreasing carbs is the key to blood sugar management – low-carb diets have no harmful side effects, as stated in the video.
Changes in the low-carb diet community bolster this progress. Doug Reynolds, the founder and CEO of Low Carb USA, who recently spearheaded an effort to establish clinical recommendations for low-carb diets, is interviewed by the filmmakers (full disclosure, I was involved in this project).
Clinical standards, according to Reynolds, have given many physicians the confidence to recommend low-carb diets to their patients. This is the aim of a new continuing education course on low-carb diets and metabolic disorders.
Eat less calories and have more fun.
The strategy is really very straightforward, as the film’s narrator, Dr. Mark Hyman, puts it. Protein is the most important nutrient for your body. This is a critical point. However, you have the option of running your body on carbs or fat. And it’s all up to you.
The video demonstrates how low-carb diets may be a blessing for those who believe their bodies function best when they are fat. These diets substantially reduce the insulin hormonal response that happens when the body interacts with carbs, which is important for individuals with insulin-related metabolic disorders including obesity and diabetes.
Any well-designed diet may lead to weight reduction, as the movie demonstrates, but a low-carb diet is more than simply cutting calories. Reduced carbohydrate consumption may also assist lower insulin levels, increase blood sugar levels, and avoid cravings that arise when total calorie intake is decreased.
I eat less and have more enjoyment, as one patient puts it. That’s understandable: At nearly every meal, low-carbohydrate diets emphasize consuming lots of protein and high-fiber vegetables, which are renowned for their satiating benefits.
Fats give meals taste and offer the calories required to keep you satisfied on a low-carb diet. Fats, especially saturated fats, are not restricted on a low-carb diet.
Fat, on the other hand, isn’t a magical substance. When you limit carbohydrates, the true magic occurs. Eating fat does not speed up your metabolism, contrary to what Dr. Hyman claims.
Moments like these irritate me because they distort the facts to suit the narrative that if low-carb meals are beneficial, low-fat foods must be bad.
Tolstoy’s claims to fiction are examined critically.
I wanted this video to be the last and greatest word on the topic because I want to see the low-carb diet reclaim its due position as a dietary intervention for chronic illness. I must confess that I debated whether or not I should be harsh in my criticism of this video, which has been welcomed by the low-carb diet community.
But there were too many times in the movie when I cringed as another misconception regarding dietary advice and low-calorie diets was repeated as truth.
In certain ways, the filmmakers are not completely blameless. On low-carb diet forums, many of these errors go uncorrected. The majority of us have a strong human propensity to overlook details that don’t match the intended story.
The film’s examination of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which outline what the US government deems a healthy diet, is the clearest illustration of this tendency.
Dietary rules in the United States have made it harder for healthcare professionals to assist patients adopt low-carb diets during the last 40 years. However, the film loses steam as it moves away from the real-life exchanges between a doctor and his patient and toward the abstract idea of national nutrition policy.
Populations are not patients, and policy is not a regime.
The video makes no effort to explain how public health nutrition policy and clinical dietetics are connected, similar, or distinct. Maybe you’ve never considered it before. However, this lost opportunity lies at the core of the issue that the film is attempting to address, as well as the present condition of food leadership in general.
For example, the American Heart Association (AHA) started advising that individuals limit their saturated fat and cholesterol consumption to avoid heart attacks in 1961, according to the documentary.
However, it overlooks the fact that this advice was intended only for the clinical population, i.e., individuals who need to reduce weight, have a family history of heart disease, or have had a heart attack or stroke.
Major dietary changes should not be undertaken without medical guidance, and dietary fat reduction or management should be done under medical supervision, according to this 1961 AHA guideline.
When the AHA’s nutrition recommendations, which were designed for clinical populations, were integrated into public health nutrition policy, problems emerged. For certain individuals, a low-fat, low-saturated-fat, and low-cholesterol diet may be acceptable, but this therapeutic intervention should never have been packaged as a national dietary recommendation.
Food producers will be guided by nutritional standards.
Many of the film’s participants appeared to grasp that public health nutrition policy differs from diet. Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, recognizes that the food business uses dietary guidelines as a guide. With managerial assistance, food manufacturers may create low-cost, delicious, nutrient-poor food and portray it as healthy.
However, according to the video, a low-calorie diet not only does not work, but it also harms us by increasing obesity and illness.
By criticizing a low-calorie diet (as if there were only one), the video promotes the notion that America’s increasing chronic illness rates are the consequence of the country’s strict adherence to national nutrition policy. But it isn’t that easy.
It’s low in fat, but it’s also low in sugar.
Ansel Kiss, a physiologist and epidemiologist who is mistaken in the film as a pathologist, is credited with writing the low-calorie guidebook in Fat Fiction. Case’s hypothesis, however, was only one of several in the textbook. He also discusses John Yudkin’s research, which shows that sugar intake is the root of many chronic illnesses.
Americans were supposed to cut total fat from 42 percent to 30 percent of calories, according to McGovern’s 1977 dietary objectives. It also suggested cutting refined and processed sugars from 18 percent to 10% of calories, which is the same as the saturated fat guidelines.
However, in fact, America has never had a low-calorie diet, which Fat Fiction thinks is to blame for the present high incidence of chronic illness. Sugar consumption in the United States has likewise not been decreased as suggested.
Application of guidelines incorrectly
Instead, about 1980, Americans started to consume more calories, with the majority of these calories coming from increasing intake of starchy foods and carbs. But not because, as the film implies, early nutritional recommendations suggested seven to eleven portions of bread each day. (Read it for yourself to understand what I mean.) More than a decade later, in 1992, the dietary pyramid recommended 7-11 servings of carbohydrate per day).
Why are the food pyramid and the American dietary recommendations so similar?
This precision may have been compromised in order to keep the idea alive that the decrease in fat intake after 1980 is the cause of the return of numerous chronic illnesses. On closer examination, however, this misunderstanding does not hold up.
Yes, Americans ate more starches and carbohydrates than the rest of the world. To put it another way, if you look at fat consumption as a proportion of total calories, the rise in total calories gives the impression that Americans are eating less fat. In terms of absolute quantities, however, Americans do not consume less fat on average.
Further research may shed further light on this matter, as well as bring the directors’ attention to the fact that management ceased using the phrase “low calorie” and instead used the term “moderate” 20 years ago.
The directors, on the other hand, can hardly be faulted for eliminating the dietary fat restriction from the most recent version of the rules. Even renowned nutritionists such as Walter Willett are mistaken.
In reality, fat is still limited to 35 percent of total calories in the recommendations. It would be in the film’s best interests to get it right in this instance, since the mistake contradicts the film’s thesis that US nutrition policy continues to encourage a low-fat diet.
Fiction and thickness
The video persuasively argues that there is practically no evidence to justify these overall dietary fat limits – and even tighter saturated fat restrictions. However, the video also makes scientifically unsupported assertions concerning refined vegetable oils, which it says cause heart disease and cancer.
performed a thorough investigation on the relationship between vegetable oils and health. We recognize that this is a contentious issue in the low-carb world, and we encourage you to form your own opinions.
Dave Asprey, the creator of Bulletproof Nutrition Inc., wants you to use Bulletproof brand refined coconut oil in your daily coffee, according to the film. Surprisingly, this oil is likewise highly refined (see the label), yet it is said to be safe.
Cocoa of exceptional quality
Asprey argues that grass-fed animals create high-quality manure, which in turn produces high-quality veggies, leading him to suggest that vegetables that don’t originate from farms that operate this manner are nutrient-poor crops, which should have been included in the montage.
Better study – or editing – may be able to disprove these assertions. Another regrettable editing choice is the use of obese, headless individuals at every mention of the obesity epidemic, which is only partly offset by the fact that people with comparable body types are permitted to display their entire humanity elsewhere in the video.
I’ll wrap up this evaluation with a word about style. Most health experts prefer to use phrases like individuals with type 2 diabetes instead than type 2 diabetes. This is an error in our own material on, and we vow to be more cautious in the future. The health of a person is not the same as their health.
It’s all about your well-being.
Let’s be clear: These inaccuracies have no bearing on the experiences of individuals who have found the low-carb diet to be life-changing. You don’t have to condemn the low-fat diet to see how helpful low-carb diets may be for many people.
Long before dietary recommendations dictated that all Americans should restrict their fat intake and lifestyle gurus encouraged us to put it in our morning coffee, low-carbohydrate diets were effective in treating obesity and diabetes.
Finally, it’s worth pushing beyond the film’s clunky quality to hear directly from doctors and patients whose lives have been drastically altered by the low-carb diet.
Even if the population of the United States has not decreased its fat consumption, a national nutrition strategy advocating a low-calorie diet for everyone is not a smart idea. Many individuals have courageously attempted to follow a low-fat, low-calorie diet only to discover that it left them hungry and weary, and that it exacerbated rather than alleviated their health issues.
Almost every low-carb dieting doctor has had a patient like this. Some physicians, such as Dr. Lenzkes, have already taken this path.
However, as the video indicates, a low-calorie diet may not be the issue for the general population. Perhaps the issue is that, beginning in 1980, nutrition policy moved dietary recommendations for metabolic health out of the hands of health experts, resulting in a unique approach that has a significant impact on both our food environment and our perceptions of what is healthy.
The characters we encounter in the film demonstrate how incorrect this attitude is. They regain control of their life with the proper nutritional guidance – gently but steadily.
Our aim is to offer a trustworthy alternative to standard dietary advice. Our mission is to assist individuals understand the benefits of a low-carb diet and make it simple to integrate into their daily routines.
It’s about your health, as Dr. Lenzkes told his patient in Fat Fiction. Individually, we are capable of doing this.
Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to assist you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Dr. Adele Hite, MPH, RD
Fiction with a Clock
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