#753 Low Fat Made Us Fat

Really? Michael Pollan Says: Yep.

How about one more little +1 on Michael Pollan’s Food Rules?

Here it is:

The forty-year-old campaign to create low- and nonfat versions of traditional foods has been a failure: We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products. Why? Because removing the fat from the foods doesn’t necessarily make them non-fattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor. Also, by demonizing one nutrient—fat—we inevitably give a free pass to another, supposedly ‘good,’ nutrient— carbohydrates in this case—and then proceed to eat too much of them instead. Since the low-fat campaign began in the late 1970s, Americans actually have been eating more than 500 additional calories per day, most of them in the form of refined carbohydrates like sugar. The result: The average male is seventeen pounds heavier and the average female nineteen pounds heavier than in the late 1970s. You’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than bingeing on ‘lite’ food products packed with sugars and salt.

Imagine that: Low-fat has made us fat. Hard to believe, but true.

The first person Michael Pollan thanks in the acknowledgments to his book is Dr. David Ludwig. With both an MD *and* a Ph.D., Dr. Ludwig is a Professor of both Medicine and Nutrition at Harvard. He is one of the most respected and most-cited researchers studying nutrition.

In our Notes on his great book, Always Hungry?, we talk about how carbs actually *make* you hungrier by disrupting your hormone insulin.

(We talk about the mechanics of why in Optimal Weight 101, aka Optimal Metabolism 101.)

For now…

Today’s +1.

If you feel so inspired, let’s follow Rule #9: “Avoid food products with the wordoid ‘lite’ or the terms ‘low-fat’ or ‘nonfat’ in their names.

Here’s to real food!

P.S. Here’s another fun one: “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

Unlock the full Optimize Experience

Get instant access to a ton of wisdom. Optimize every facet of your life. Actualize your potential.

Start free trial