October 24, 2011

Why low fat doesn't work

The conception that fat in our diet leads to fat on our bodies is spectacularly wrong.

I use the word "spectacular" because so much of our body consists of fat. Yet we act as though the extra padding on our bellies and behinds is the only place fat turns up; and we usually don't want it there.

So if we simply starve our bodies of fat, they will use up the "extra" and behold! New wardrobe.

Of course, the whole "fat is bad for us" theory didn't start out this starkly stupid. Because this is not how our diet experts treat protein.

This is good for us.
They recognize that protein is a vital micronutrient, and that we need a constant supply. Opinions vary on how much, especially if these opinions have a vegetarian slant.

Ideologues differ between cutting down on animal products for health reasons or humanitarian reasons. However, the assumed consensus that fat and protein are actually bad for us springs from the fact that both are much more abundant in animal sources.

An excellent series at The Hungry Cow blog states that a typical hunter-gatherer would have consumed 55-65% of his calories from meat and fish. We did gather plants; but this was pre-agriculture. None of those healthy whole grains showed up for many millions of years. This is how we evolved our big brains; with protein and fat.

Humans crave fat because we need it just as much as we need protein. Our brain? 60% fat. All the insulation that runs along our nerves, making sure they don't short out like a bad toaster? Made of fat. Our cell membranes, the stuff that keeps us from melting into a puddle of soup? All fat.

So compliance on low fat diets will always struggle between poor and terrible. Not only does our body crave animal fat, fat itself is important to a feeling of satiation.

Without it, we are always hungry, and always wanting to eat.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. If low fat-diets worked, we'd all be skinny as rails. But they do work - for the purveyors of low-fat wheat-based products.