Low-Fat Activist Asserts Eating Low-Carb Is 'Mortgaging Your Health'
August 13, 2005
The following is a reprint from my new blog called "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb":
I have written many articles about why I believe livin' la vida low-carb is a much better plan for weight loss and improving your health than a low-fat/low-calorie/portion-controlled diet. I have listed many reasons, but my primary concern with those kind of diets is that they are not sustainable over the long-term based on my own experience of trying and failing over and over again.
But after I wrote this blog entry, I received some feedback from a very enthusiastic fan of the low-fat diet who wanted to challenge me on my opinions regarding the low-fat diets in addition to my strong support for the low-carb lifestyle.
His name is Richard Sasso and he sent the following e-mail to me entitled "Saved by the low-fat diet." I will chime in with my own comments about what Mr. Sasso writes from time to time to set him straight when he goes astray:
NOTE: This e-mail has not been altered in any way and is presented verbatim as it was written.
Dear Mr. Moore:
Hello. You don't know me, but I feel I have a deep responsibility to mail you about my story.
Well, you E-mailed me, but that's close enough.
Earlier this year, I weighed close to 280 pounds. I had high blood pressure, border-line diabetes, high (bad) cholesterol and low (good) cholesterol. I was hobbled by vicious gout attacks. I was in no good shape, to say the least.
WOW! You sound like a GREAT candidate for the low-carb lifestyle.
My father, a wise man, gave me a book by Nathan Pritikin. The Pritikin system is a low-fat diet rich in COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES. (There is a big difference between COMPLEX CARBS and SIMPLE CARBS--something you rarely acknowledge in your blog, by the way.)
Since you seem to know everything there is to know about the difference, then why don't you share with everyone what a complex carb is compared with a simple carb? How about giving us some tangible examples? Obviously there are some good carbs which Dr. Atkins constantly mentioned in his books for people to start consuming as they get their weight under control and begin to maintain their weight loss. But when you are first starting off on a low-carb program, I think it is more important for people to know that limiting their carb intake to a level that is less than what they are used to eating can and will help them lose weight if they follow the program as prescribed. That's the miracle of the low-carb lifestyle.
I followed this diet very carefully and of course I exercised a lot. I lost close to seventy pounds and both my blood pressure, and my (bad) cholesterol fell, and I am feeling better than ever. Gout is gone.
CONGRATULATIONS! That is a great achievement and you should be very proud that you have been able to improve your health and get your weight under control. I know how hard that mountain is to climb, so kudos to you.
I know something about science and medicine one thing I have learned is this: There are studies that prove EVERYTHING, Mr. Moore. To know the truth, you can not just look at one current in the sea but ignore the whole sea.
Okay, then, using that as a template for discussion, why is it that low-fat supporters are constantly pointing to the same so-called studies (which are mostly short-term by the way) to claim that low-carb is allegedly unhealthy and dangerous? How many of the positive studies regarding the low-carb way of eating do you see in the media? My contention is not nearly enough of them are made public for people to learn the WHOLE truth about the healthy alternative that low-carb living provides. That's why I created this blog to help spread the word about the good news coming out about livin' la vida low-carb. And there is a LOT of GREAT NEWS to share. As more and more studies continue to be undertaken, especially ones that look at the effect of low-carb plans over a span of 5, 10 or 20 years, science and medicine will show that Dr. Atkins was right and a newfound interest in low-carb will ensue at that time. Mark my words now.
I mean, Jesus, Mr. Moore...
No, I'm not Jesus, Mr. Sasso. But I do believe in Him as my personal Lord and Savior as a Christian for the past 26 years.
...can you really deny the stories of people who participated in Dr. Ornish's various studies? Can you deny their PET scans? Can you deny Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who has had similar results? Can you deny Dr. John McDougall's work, which shows how a low fat, vegan diet has helped so many folks?
I don't deny anyone's story of successful weight loss. In fact, I publicly applaud anybody who has been able to lose weight and keep it off regardless of the way they did it. I have no doubt in my mind that people who eat a low-fat diet can and do lose weight. In fact, I lost an incredible 170 pounds on the low-fat diet in 1999 when I was bound and determined to get my weight and health under control. But, like so many people who eat a low-fat diet, I was miserable, just plain miserable and I was ALWAYS hungry. I felt like something was missing despite the fact that I had lost so much weight and improved my health numbers. If people can keep up that kind of living forever and ever amen, then good for them. I have not and will not put down anyone who finds a permanent way to lose weight that will work for them. It is the duty of anyone who finds a way out of their weight problem to do it and share with others what happened for them. Thus, here I am telling my story of weight loss success on the low-carb lifestyle.
Let's go backward from Dr. Ornish. Before him, there was Nathan Pritikin. He suffered from bad heart disease. He developed a low fat diet and began eating it--before anyone argued it was a good idea, by the way. And guess what? He reversed his own heart disease -- FACT!
Okay, and your point is? I never said eating a low-fat diet wasn't going to help people with heart disease. But so will any diet that can help you shed the excessive pounds you might be carrying around on your body. People who lose weight, regardless of their chosen program, will see improvements in their health because they will cease to be overweight or obese. Don't underestimate the damage that is being done to your entire body when you carry around 50, 100, or 200 pounds of extra weight that God did not intend for you to have. When you free yourself of that blob of fat that seems to infest every inch of your body, then the result will be unbelievable improvements in your overall health. That's a "fact" you can live with ... literally!
In contrast to Atkins, by the way, the full record of PRITIKIN'S autopsy is PUBLIC RECORD. Every artery was as clean as a whistle. (He died from leukemia, which he fought for decades.) The full record of Atkins' autopsy (who sued Pritikin to silence him) is secret. He was clinically obese, though. (Only in America can a clinically obese man be a diet guru!)
Aha! Now the truth is coming out. Mr. Sasso isn't just a fan of the low-fat diet. By spouting off lies which have been found to be just plain wrong about Dr. Atkins, he has show himself to be a militant activist in the low-fat movement. Those snide remarks are a very clear indication that Sasso is on the same anti-Atkins page as Jody Gorran and his pals at the PETA-inspired and funded Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM). These radicals have made it their mission in life to smear and tear down anything and everything that allows people to enjoy eating meat. That is the real agenda of people like Dr. Dean Ornish and his grunt here Mr. Sasso. Instead of taking a genuine interest in people's health, they would much rather attempt to personally destroy a man's life work simply because they disagree with it. That is a very sad state of affairs to be in when you stoop to that level of humanity. It is despicable and these people ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Before Pritikin, the Duke University RICE diet saved many a person's life. (It is still around today, by the way, with a good emphasis on low fat diets and has helped millions.) But go back further--read any social history book. Throughout human history, in virtually every culture, bread is the STAFF OF LIFE. Every culture's diet has a backbone of carbohydrate. Just think: Aztecs (corn), Irish (potatoes, when there was no famine at least), Roman/Italian (pasta/bread), Asians all have rice as key diet component.
Ah, history. I just love this argument by the low-fatties. They boast that since all previous cultures have been just fine without a low-carb diet, why do we need one now? It sounds like a good argument, right? WRONG! This is 2005 and times have indeed changed. The biggest change is in the amount of food that is available today, with most of it containing high amounts of sugar and other extremely poor carbohydrate choices. Nobody says carbs in and of themselves are bad for you. But overconsuming unnecessary carbs in the form of sugar and white flour and a virtual lack of any exercise whatsoever is what has led us to the problem we have with obesity today. Can you eat lots of carbs and still lose and maintain your weight? Sure, but don't try eating a box of Twinkies and a case of sugary sodas with all that pasta and bread and expect your weight to do anything but go way up!
It is still true everywhere in the world. But go back further. All our closest ancestors in the animal kingdom or either vegetarians or close to it. The basis of ALL healthy human diets are CARBOHYDRATES. This is not propaganda. It is a fact. Show me ANY civilization in which people base or based their diets on animal food and fats. Show me one! Another fact: Vegetarians live on average 5-7 years longer than meat eaters. (From the book Becoming Vegan)
Here we go with the PETA stuff again. I think I'll take a pass on the whole vegetarian lifestyle if you don't mind. In fact, I'm a VERY HAPPY carnivore who is one of those who doesn't mind being a part of "People Eating Tasty Animals," as I affectionately like to refer to PETA. :-) As for the assertion that "all healthy human diets are carbohydrates," I would certainly beg to differ. I could eat a diet consisting of nothing but carbs and would have to constantly be shoving food into my mouth to try to satisfy the hunger beast. By the way, who are these "closest ancestors in the animal kingdom," Mr. Sasso? Are you trying to go Darwin on me by looking at monkeys and gorillas for how humans are supposed to eat? Oh, that's just classic! LOL! Hang on a second while I laugh my guts out! Hee hee...okay, I feel much better now. Sigh. If these vegetarianites weren't so naturally funny with their ignorant beliefs, then nobody would ever pay them any attention.
For example, I am an ESL teacher. I teach immigrants English. I see how this works. People come from their homelands, where they eat diets rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. They come here, eat a high fat diet and boom they get American lifestyle diseases, like heart disease. I know, you say it is the carbs. But how can that be? Mexican people, for example, eat a diet rich in corn, beans, rich vegetables (call rich in carbs) and use meat as basically a condiment. (By this I mean their own home diets, not Americanized-Mexican restaurants, which aren't really Mexican food.) Among poor Mexicans, heart disease is nonexistent. People in their seventies regularly work in the field--ask anyone from rural Mexico. They come to America and eat too much fat and too many SIMPLE CARBS and get sick. I see this everyday.
Let me give you kudos for helping legal immigrants learn the English language. It is an honorable and thankless job but one that is vital for the future of our country as more and more people move to the United States. But your claim that these immigrants come to America and get fat because of "a high fat diet" could not be further from the truth. The large amounts of sugar found in soft drinks and other junk food are what makes those people become overweight or obese. Ignoring the role that sugar plays in your diet is in my opinion neglecting the primary reason we have an obesity problem that is getting worse and worse. If people would just cut sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) out of their diets, then the obesity rates would drop faster than you can say "toldyaso!"
I know you lost weight and have kept it off, but you are mortgaging your health to do it friend. The plaque is building in your heart's arteries and along your veins. It hurts me to see you promoting this diet. You might tell me I won't be able to keep this off. Well, I will write next year and show you! But I will tell you this: My father has done it. The book he gave me was printed in the late seventies. He in 71 years old and just retired from hard labor factory work.
This has been a very "healthy" discussion, ALL PUN INTENDED! As for my personal health, it has never been better, Mr. Sasso. Even my doctor is just dumbfounded by the remarkable turnaround he has seen from me being a 410-pound ticking timebomb to a vibrant 230-pound example of a physically fit and extremely healthy human being. My cholesterol and especially my tryglicerides are at their best levels they have been at in my entire life and my doctor is proudly recommending livin' la vida low-carb to anyone who wants to get those health indicators under control.
There is something you need to know about me, Mr. Sasso. I cannot ignore anything that has made such a change in my life as the low-carb lifestyle has. I am not one to keep silent when there are so many others who could benefit from what I have been able to learn and personally experience with this. That's why my passion and zeal for low-carb is so direct and unapologetic. I have to tell the whole world what livin' la vida low-carb has done for me to maybe, just maybe, give someone else out there a little bit of hope and encouragement that they need to do this for themselves and improve their own health.
Again, let me say that I am proud of you for losing weight on a low-fat diet and wish you the best for many, many years of happy and healthy living. But you will never hear me criticize the low-fat dieters as "mortgaging your health." I think that is unnecessarily hyperbolizing your own opinions about the low-carb lifestyle and stating them as fact. Actually, your statements about people who eat low-carb cannot be backed up with any scientific or medical evidence whatsoever. It is just more propaganda from a group with a very clear agenda.
In the meantime, those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb will keep on traveling down this road of life confident that we have improved our health and controlled our weight permanently. Neither you nor any of your low-fat friends can take the joy of that accomplishment away from any of us who have been and will continue to be successful on the low-carb lifestyle.