Monday, July 26, 2010

Body for Life: What Went Wrong, Part 2

What is a High-Carb and Low-Fat Diet?
So if eating a high-carb diet is bad, how does it follow that the solution to balance protein and carbohydrates? Phillips seems to understand that a high carb, low-fat diet hasn’t been good for Americans since they took heed of the Surgeon General's warning about fats (BFL p. 47):

In place of fat, more and more carbs were added [to foods]. And the myth that “fat free” means “all you can eat” spread like wildfire. But yet, over the past 10 years [since 1988], we’ve continued to see a dramatic rise in the incidence of obesity....I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years who were consuming a low-fat, high-carb diet and exercising, but they were getting even fatter!

Why not just adopt a low-carb or a paleo diet, then? Phillips writes of our ancient ancestors’ health and vigor before the advent of farming and attributes their good health to their diet. But according to what I’ve read about our hunter-gatherer ancestors, they didn’t eat much carbohydrate--they ate mostly meat and plants. (Plants are, of course, carbohydrate, but leafy plants in particular contain a lot of fiber, which is indigestible carbohydrate.) Archaeologist Brian Fagan wrote in his book Cro-Magnon that humans who lived in Europe during the 100,000-year Ice Age ate mostly meat (including fat and organ meat) and that if current hunter-gatherers in Canada are an indication, ate about one cup of plant material per year. Humans ate more plant material before and after the Ice Age, of course, but it seems unlikely that six servings a day of fruit, grains and starchy vegetables probably were on the menu, especially during winter.

Granted, the terms “low-fat” and “high-carb” are relative. Compared to the standard American diet in which people consume 250 to 350 grams of carbohydrate a day* BFL is a lower-carb diet. But compared to a diet like Atkins or Protein Power or a paleo diet, BFL IS a high-carb, low-fat diet.

*Heartburn Cured by Norm Robillard, p. 94.

No comments: