Growing up, my grandparents used to visit us pretty regularly, and my grandmother was always quite concerned about my mother’s waistline. “You should wear a girdle, Diane,” she used to say (seriously were people still wearing girdles then?). My mom was drawn to Entenmanns’s boxes, which were frequently found on our counter.. Looking good into her 70s and 80s, as a teen I was intrigued. Nana, as we called her, shared her secret with me: whenever she felt pounds creeping on, she just laid off the bread and cake. That was it. Who knew she was right!
It was with much excitement that I turned to page six of The Boston Globe yesterday to read the article entitled, “Low-carbohydrate diet leads to reduced body fat, study says.” I had to read the headline twice. Is “low carb” finally making it into the mainstream?! This is a big breakthrough in many ways.
Frankly, the science has to catch up with my grandmother. This is one study that will hopefully lay the groundwork for many more studies that support what has much traction today: that eating a low carb, high fat diet is actually GOOD FOR YOU. Yes, I know it probably makes you shudder to read that. So much of the way we feed and nourish ourselves is based on old thinking and bad dietary recommendations that successfully steered us in the wrong direction.
The study, which compared two groups (one that ate low carb and one that ate low fat–both groups ate many vegetables), revealed that the low carb group’s inflammatory markers (like triglycerides) decreased, they lost weight while keeping muscle mass. They even lowered their risk of having a heart attack. Conversely, the people following the low fat diet, the one that many of us have ingrained in our heads from years of believing the myth that saturated fat is bad for us, did poorly. Their inflammatory markers increased, they lost some weight but not as much as the low carb group, and importantly, they lost muscle mass.
It’s a hard shift to make, and it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Look hard at your diet, which may mean writing down what you are eating, and try to trim the carbs from it. Start small, or if you are like me, go cold turkey. Make sure there is ample saturated fat in your diet (like coconut oil) and make sure your plate is two-thirds vegetables. Nana was right, it is pretty simple. You can trim your waistline with that simple trick and never need a girdle at all!