Ignore the low-carb cult: eating lots of fat won’t really make you slim

Science and newspapers don’t really mix. The media work on 24-hour news cycles and want dramatic developments. Science works slowly and gradually, usually on subjects that are too complex to be easily grasped by lay men. The media are looking for hidden threats and magic bullets in everyday living. In science, such breakthroughs come about very rarely.

Put simply, the demand for revolutionary scientific discoveries that can be understood by lay people is much greater than the supply. This creates a vacuum to be filled by smooth-talking gurus peddling easy answers. The field of nutrition is particularly prone to this since everybody eats food and lots of people struggle to maintain a healthy weight. One only needs to look at the front page of the Daily Express most days to find a disease that can be prevented, caused or cured by the consumption of a single ingredient.

Action on Sugar, a small pressure group set up in 2013, have received a vast amount of media coverage by appealing to the public’s appetite for easy answers. Not only do they focus on a single nutrient, but they have a cartoon villain (‘Big Food’) and an easy answer that absolves consumers from having to take personal responsibility (food reformulation).

In their early days, their chief spokesman was Dr Aseem Malhotra, a Croydon-based cardiologist with a knack for sloganeering. To borrow a phrase from Peter Cook, Malhotra rose without trace. One minute he was writing factually inaccurate articles for the Observer about ‘junk food’, the next minute he was describing himself as a ‘world leading expert in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease’ who ‘reigns supreme in his fight to raise awareness about the health benefits of a sugar-free diet’.

Malhotra parted company with Action on Sugar some time ago, but he has remained a fixture on breakfast television ever since. Last year, he was in the news after making the extraordinary claim that there is no link between physical inactivity and obesity. Having fallen under the spell of Dr Robert Lustig, an American endocrinologist who blames obesity on high fructose corn syrup (a type of sugar that is barely consumed in the EU due to quotas), he drifted into the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) movement via Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz.

This is where this things start to get weird. There is no doubt that some people lose weight on the low-carb diet, but the empirical evidence in support of LCHF as opposed to a low-fat or other low-calorie diet is far from compelling. Moreover, there is a cult-like element to the LCHF movement — which is basically a rebadged version of the Atkins diet — that makes it disposed to conspiracy theories.

The low-carbers are obsessed with government dietary guidelines which they think have been hijacked by low-fat zealots for reasons that are unclear but which probably involve Big Food and the ‘diabetes industry’. They blame dietary guidelines for the rise in obesity since 1980 despite the fact that hardly anybody is aware of them and almost nobody follows them. If only we could go back to eating steak, butter and lard, they say, there would be no obesity.

That brings us to Malhotra’s latest pressure group, the Public Health Collaboration, which has today released a report telling people that a calorie is not a calorie and that we should eat fat if we want to lose weight. The report has been released in partnership with the National Obesity Forum, on whose board Malhotra sits as a ‘senior advisor’, and it was Malhotra who spearheaded the publicity drive with words that you don’t expect to hear from someone who looks after people’s heart for a living: ‘Eat fat to get slim, don’t fear fat, fat is your friend.’

As health advice goes, I personally find the idea of living on bacon and cheese pretty appealing. I also find the idea that ‘public health’ people have made mistakes with their nutritional advice in the past both plausible and attractive. The trouble is that science simply does not support the sweeping statements in this report and even Malhotra’s erstwhile colleagues at Action on Sugar have reacted with fury.

As the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) points out, several of the claims made in the report contradict information on the National Obesity Forum’s own website. I recommend reading the CEBM response and the response from the Science Media Centre to get an idea of how far Malhotra has now wandered from mainstream science.

He and his band of low-carb evangelists will doubtless regard the backlash as further evidence that the scientific establishment is running scared of a brave medic who dares to speak truth to power. The reality is that this is one headline-grabbing gimmick too far. Malhotra’s career in daytime television is secure, but he has finally become an embarrassment to the health lobby.

  • Susan Damens

    There’s no magic herb to get you thin or fat to avoid and you’ll stay fit. You just need to find the balance and keep it all your life. I did this with the Loaded Gun Diet and I’m looking and feeling better than ever.

  • lolexplosm

    I was surprised at one of responses at the SMC:

    Prof Broom – “Here in the UK the members of SACN, a number of whom have links with the food industry,…”

    Yes that refutes everything in a very scientific and academic manner.

    Well at least the SMC can’t be accused of cherry picking.

  • mysminnie

    i just lost 12 kilos eating bacon and eggs. Yum. Dr Malhotra should be commended for his brave and public stance. I wonder what would happen if the “obesity epidemic” suddenly disappeared. I guess that the many “experts”, such as those in the organisations you cite, would be out of a job. And so they should be, as it looks increasingly likely that those “experts” were, at least partly, to blame for the obesity epidemic from the start.

    • mysminnie

      I would also recommend to the writer of this article “The Poor Misunderstood Calorie” by William Lagokos; a little booklet written by an obesity researcher that clearly explains why counting calories rarely works.

  • mirkins

    Mainstream nutrition thinking isn’t helping the masses any when more people grow obese and contract degenerative disease from following misguided food policy guidelines.

    “the empirical evidence in support of LCHF as opposed to a low-fat or other low-calorie diet is far from compelling.” That’s a subjective and personal statement; many people have shed excess weight permanently and normalized their HbA1c, blood glucose and blood pressure, and they did it by replacing the carbohydrates from processed snack foods and sugars with carbohydrates from green, fibrous, phytonutrient-rich vegetables and by adding enough healthful fats and oils like avocados, macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, butter or ghee, coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut flour, replacing industrial and hydrogenated oils, to compose 50-70% of their daily caloric intake.

    People using this way of eating report more energy and quick weight loss and amelioration of heart disease, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, reduced libido, allergies, hay fever, asthma, attention deficits, diabetes, hypoglycemia, food cravings, candidiasis, menorrhagia, immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s Disease, eczema, and Epstein-Barr virus.

    There’s personal responsibility in choosing this way of eating, and I’d recommend people read testimonies and pitfalls and consult with their physicians before undertaking a weight loss program. I’m not sure how individuals evaluating labels on food products and checking fresh fruits and vegetables’ glycemic indexes, opting for the non-insulinogenic fruits and vegetables is an easy answer that absolves consumers from having to take personal responsibility (food reformulation).” I bet Dr. Malhotra would agree with me that people must take personal responsibility for what they put in their grocery shopping bag, basket or cart and make informed nutrition choices.

  • Pippa

    I lost 100 lbs in a year with no exercise following LCHF. Have you actually read Taubes and Teicholz? The science is there, you just need to access it. I may have bacon and cheese sometimes but mainly I eat organic meat and vegetables along with butter, coconut oil, avocados and olive oil. I do not eat sugar or any highly processed food. I eat more vegetables than any other time of my life. I cook for myself with whole, natural foods and it is delicious. I no longer take the six medications I was on, I have reversed fatty liver disease, normalized my blood sugar, lowered by blood pressure, reduced inflammation and the aches and pains that went along with it and am in good health. I sleep like a baby and do not have sleep apnea nor do I snore anymore. The great thing is that I am not the exception. For those committed to an LCHF lifestyle, the benefits are undeniable. I do not have “diet fatigue” and have a hard time imagining going back to the way I used to eat. How many other people losing weight on other plans can say that? Highly processed, sugary, carby foods no longer appeal to me. LCHF may not be for everyone but it certainly is an option that needs to be promoted and not vilified anymore.

    • Mark Cupples

      I did the same over many years, I lost the weight, my blood pressure went down, my cholesterol ratio went into the ideal lowest you can get.

    • lolexplosm

      The best diet is one you can follow and one which reduces calories.

      You were eating terribly and now eat better, actually following some of the advice given for decades such as eating whole/unprocessed foods and lots of veg. You have lost weight, at the steady pace recommended pace of about 2lb per week and you have kept it off because you have stuck to your diet. The health benefits you see attributable to weight loss are undeniable and it’s great to hear.

      However, can we truly attribute it solely to a LCHF lifestyle? If you want to follow it and it helps you stick to your diet fine, the evidence shows this is one of if not the most important aspect of a diet. The problem is LCHF advocates are being unscientific in their promotion of the diet whilst claiming they have the science to back them up. From relying on anecdotes to conspiracy theories, from the denial of the importance of calories to a miracle cure, the claims and approaches made by advocates are very questionable. This is where LCHF needs to be scrutinised in my opinion.

      • Pippa

        Your comment is very presumptuous. I did not say that I ate terribly before, just that I eat more vegetables now. Wait, I stand corrected, I was eating a “healthy” low-fat diet so I guess that means I was eating terribly.

        • Roy Walker

          Nice reply Pippa. and good on you for improving you health outcomes using such an unscientific method.

  • davehorne

    There’s no mention of insulin in this article.

    The one piece of information that I learned almost four years ago changed my life. It was this – to burn your own fat requires a negative stimulus of an insulin deficiency. In other words, you do everything you can _not_ to raise your blood sugar.

    My weight had been creeping up and I found myself at about 185 pounds. (I’m 5’9″.) I had tried to lose just ten pounds for 20 years and never succeeded _until_ I learned the role of insulin in fat metabolism. Once I learned what foods to avoid, the weight came off and more importantly, stayed off. My weight is now 161 pounds.

    I should also add that my blood panel improved as well. I remember being in my doctor’s office telling the assistant, in my enthusiasm, how I had lost that weight. I mentioned the high fat content of my diet and was given advice that it was bad for me. She had just printed out my blood test results and I simply waved them in her face. I go by numbers, period.

    Sugar is the real culprit and it doesn’t even have to be sugar in its many forms, it can also be foods that are quickly converted to sugar in the blood stream. I avoid foods made from grains, starchy foods, and fruit juices. My breakfast typically consists of three eggs with bacon or sausage all cooked in lots of butter.

    I’ve been eating like this for almost four years … and my blood panel is better than it was before I followed a low carbohydrate high fat diet.

    Now my goal is to lose just two pounds. I want to get under 160 …

    • Mark Cupples

      100% correct. Your body turns carbs (sugar or carbs) into blood glucose (sugar) and if you don’t use it, it becomes fat. Supermarkets of full of high carb processed foods!

      • davehorne

        From what I understand, when your blood sugar is elevated, insulin is produced, and insulin not only stores that glucose as fat, but also prevents the release of fat from your fat cells.

        You’ve just eaten a diet that raised your blood sugar significantly and yet two hours later you’re hungry. Your body stored that previous meal for the future but your body needs fuel now. What some people do, they continue to eat foods that raise their blood sugar and they wind up being always hungry and they’re getting fatter as well. It’s a horrible situation to be in. Before I stumbled upon a video by Gary Taubes based on his book, Why We Get Fat, I had just about given up losing weight. I though I was doomed to be just another old guy with a pot belly. I had even planned to fly to the US and buy lots of clothes for this larger body.

        Once I understood that not all calories are the same, my eating habits changed, I lost weight, and I’m now never hungry. My wife gets really annoyed at me constantly spouting this information, but I’m happy that the word is getting out.

        It really took some time for me to realize that eating three eggs everyday cooked in lots of butter is actually good for my health. I grew up in the 1950s, 1960s and remember buying EggBeaters, a way around eating eggs since the cholesterol, so they thought, was so harmful.

        Sorry to go on about this.

        • Summer Isles

          Makes sense to me too. That is a very good summary of how insulin works with glucose metabolism.

          I notice it with something as simple as the difference between white bread and wholemeal. A few slices off a freshly baked brown loaf fills you up whereas white processed bread just leads you to eat more and more.

      • carbsane

        This is simply incorrect. Carbohydrates are oxidized first, and only in extreme excess and caloric surplus is a small percentage turned to fat (at a significant energy cost). Meanwhile surplus fat calories are simply stowed away in seemingly infinite reserve tanks.

        • Matthew J Welt

          False, not only extreme excess and only above a caloric surplus. That’s one of the dumbest things I have heard. Fat is not all the same and most fat calories are not stored as fat and some virtually can’t be. You can store an infinite amount of fat but the majority is from carbohydrates. Eating carbs first thing in the morning while cortisol is high gets them stored as fat because insulin and cortisol don’t work at the same time when it comes to burning them off. That’s proven by the way. Carbs (statchy) are best eaten at night or post workout when cortisol is low or sensitivity is high so the insulin can being the glucose to your liver or muscles.

          Not thinking at all about hormones while saying carbs only turn to fat in extreme over consumption while at a caloric surplus is a very uneducated answer. What about ghrelin or leptin? Those play a role too. Has nothing to do with calories.

          • You can not be serious can you? I mean some of the claims you have made are simply preposterous. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the claim that you can increase fat mass whilst in an energy deficit state. I would suggest you Google Scholar “overfeeding studies” and review some of these. They all basically demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what you overfeed – carbohydrates or fat – the end result is the same. You get fatter. Your suggestion that “most fat calories are not stored as fat and some virtually can’t be” dumbfounds me. It is one of the most annoying and frustrating claims going around. Of course, dietary fat can make you fat. Of course, dietary carbs can make you fat. If you over-consume either such that there is an energy surplus or positive energy state you stand a 100% guaranteed chance of getting fatter. “The majority of fat is from carbohydrates” is patently false. Like these claims just dismiss and ignore so much scientific evidence that I sometimes wonder how such ideas are created. There are more than 30 metabolic-unit based studies that clearly show that the final arbiter of whether or not there is an increase or decrease in fat mass is that an energy surplus or energy deficit exists, respectively. No research has ever shown that body fat loss is possible when total daily energy intake exceeds total daily energy expenditure no matter how low carb, high carb, low fat, high in fat your diet is. It is the food we eat and diet we follow that has a significant effect on modulating the hormonal landscape; not the other way around.

          • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

            You’re treating the problem from the wrong angle. You’re completely ignoring hunger. The human body has some of the most incredible homeostatically regulated processes linked to response mechanisms, hunger makes you eat.

            When this system works, you are deficient in calories, you get hungry, you eat! It’s the first thing any LCHF dieter will tell you, that feeling of always being hungry goes away!

            This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Sugar was pretty rare for much of the most of our ancestors (quite sure my ancestors didn’t live in the rain forest, feasting year-round on mangos), so when sugar was available it made sense that we craved it and gorged ourselves on it, and that it would be stored as fat.

            Aborigine populations native to Australia are estimated to have consumed an amount of sugar equivalent to 2 or 3 small pieces of candy… PER YEAR!! No wonder the westernised aboriginal populations are suffering so badly.

            Just think what people put in their kids these days.

          • Roy Walker

            there has been a lot of studies done in the last 10 or so years showing that a low carb diet enables more fat loss, more muscle sparing, and better blood outcomes than a low fat diet does, I personally think any way that enables a better health outcome, weather it is low carb or low fat is a good outcome. It seems, that different people re-act to different foods better than others, maybe there is no “one” right way for everybody.

          • Frank Pereny

            I suggest you look up the study showing two groups of people, one following a strict 1000 Calorie per day low fat diet and a second following a low carb group eating 2,000 Calories per day. The low carb group lost weight statistically and had improve biomarkers. The low calorie group did not lose weight. In some studies groups eating less Calories on low fat diets GAINED weight while those eating more Calories on low carb diets LOST weight. This was reproduced in humans and other species including rodents.

          • With all due respect Frank, but I’m sorry I can’t take you seriously.

          • Captain Mantastic


        • Captain Mantastic

          Finally, someone who gets it.

        • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

          Did you know that alcohol is metabolised before carbohydrates? To me at least this suggests the most toxic calories are dealt with first. Or are you suggesting alcohol is the preferred fuel for humans?

          I presume you’re not, the negative effects of alcohol consumption are obvious. Most of us enjoy a drink from time to time, but nobody drinks alcohol for it’s caloric contribution. You don’t need carbs any more than you need alcohol! FACT! Gluconeogenesis!

          The negative effects of acellular carbohydrate intake are just as obvious if you look objectively at the evidence. The trouble is not many folks can be objective in the face of such fierce propaganda, anyone born since the late 1970s won’t notice the propaganda because it’s all they’ve ever known!

          • carbsane

            Yes I’m well aware of the priority of macro oxidation — it is prioritized by the body’s ability to efficiently store energy. Thus alcohol and excess amino acids go first, then carbs then fat.

            By your logic MCTs are toxic, as are exogenous ketones (the new fad). Your body requires glucose so much that it is willing to sacrifice lean tissue to manufacture it. And yet the preservation mode (ketosis) is often difficult to produce and sustain. It is much kinder on the body to consume whole food starches and sugars.

      • Captain Mantastic

        Total crap. Carbs do not make you fat. Excess calories do. If I eat a banana does that mean I will put on body fat? Total crap. But if I were to eat a 50 banana’s in a day and not do any activity then yes I will put on some fat. But it’s the excess calories that does it. Not carbs. Sheesh. I could eat a high calorie meal of fried chicken and still get fat because if excess calories. You need to go back to school boy. Stop reading all these low carb marketing scams,

        • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

          Captain it’s you that needs to go back to school. Preferably one that Coca Cola doesn’t dictate the curriculum.

          The human body utilises insulin to drive glucose into cells, eating excessive fat will not make you fat as it provides no insulin response. However eating carbs drives insulin up. Real food like a banana will have a moderate insulin response allowing you body to use the glucose as it’s unlocked. Eating acellular, engineered bliss points like, say, Krispy Kreme doughnuts will spike your glucose so quickly the body must dump massive amounts of insulin into the blood to deal with the toxic levels of blood glucose. If you’ve been doing this a lot your liver is already full, your muscles are already full, there’s really nowhere else for it to go but into fat cells. If the excess carbs are in the form of fructose then your liver gets fatty (hello T2 diabetes) if it’s glucose then it’s more even distributed around the body (as fat)

          If all you ate was a single banana each day you would die of starvation, not obesity related disorders such as diabetes.

          If I ate 3000 calories of pork belly fat I’d feel nauseous and probably have diarrhoea, expelling undigested, unabsorbed fat. If I ate 3000 calories of Krispy Kreme doughnuts the body will absorb every calorie of carbohydrate.

          Think about this, Steve Redgrave (possibly the worlds greatest olympian) was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at just 35 years old. He trained hardcore, rowing day in day out. I suspect he used a lot more calories than the average “deskie” like myself and rightfully he consumed more… sadly in the form of carbs.

          • Captain Mantastic

            Such crap! You need to go back to kindergarten. Carbs do not make you fat. Excess calories do.

          • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

            Whilst I agree nobody ever got fat eating broccoli, cauliflower and kale (all containing carbs) actually in principle, you’re wrong. Farmers have known for hundreds of years that fattening animals for slaughter happens much faster when you feed them grains. One reason most beef products come from grain fed animals.

            I personally lost 18kg without being hungry, and I assure you that whilst I actually collecting those excess 18kgs I was always hungry. On a low carb high fat diet, you simply won’t be hungry enough to over consume calories day after day.

            Eating empty carbs will see you hungry all the time. And the more you exercise as a “sugar burner” the hungrier you will be. Unlock the body’s potential to utilise stored fat for fuel by keeping serum insulin low and you will tap into the bodies “main fuel tank”.

            If you bother to look up studies you will see it’s very well documented that when the human body is in “storage mode” it loses access to calories already stored.

            Another reason why this matters is that being significantly calorie deficient will induce metabolic adaptations, lowering your basal metabolic rate. When you inevitably come off your calorie deficient diet the weight piles back on quicker than ever. You’re also likely to feel cold, have less energy, lower immune, etc, etc when you’re in a calorie deficient “sugar burning” state.

            The longterm outcomes are not pretty, search Google for “Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after The Biggest Loser competition”, read the PubMed study.

            You can’t deny it makes sense that nature intended humans to access calories stored as fat, some folk these days are walking around with a million calories stored around their waists and organs.

            For clarity, I’m not saying don’t eat carbs!! in the form of unlimited vegetables, and appropriately moderated fruit (limited by your metabolic state, T2 diabetics probably shouldn’t eat fruit) you will struggle to over consume calories. But eating processed products where 70g per 100g is essentially sugar will make you fat and hungry!

          • Roy Walker

            Yes excess food makes you fat but studies have shown, carbs/sugar, with their resulting insulin high/ then a super low cause the recipient to feel hungry, leading to an excess in calories. Of course this isn’t the same for everybody, some people, process carbs/ sugar/glucose much better than others. On the other hand it has been shown in many studies that a high fat low carb diet blunts peoples appetite, enabling them to control the amount of calories, the consume, enabling them to be in a calorie deficit without experiencing the usual hunger, I say whatever works for you has got to be a good outcome.

          • “….eating excessive fat will not make you fat as it provides no insulin response.”

            Categorically incorrect.

            Overfeeding studies incontrovertibly demonstrate that excessive fat makes you fat.



            Furthermore, hyperinsulinemia status doesn’t always translate to magnitude of adipose tissue deposition.


          • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

            This is the difference in blood glucose for a high carb/ low fat vs low carb / high fat.


            Just try eating excessive fat day in day out. The real problem is hunger!

          • Neil Burnett

            Finally! Someone posts some references to scientific research instead of making vague handwaving statements based on something they read once somewhere! Thanks FitGreyStrong.

    • lolexplosm

      Did you know protein spikes insulin too? It’s really not as simple as reducing insulin.

      You might find this series of articles an interesting alternative viewpoint.


      It’s great that you’ve lost weight and feel much better both in mind and body, but we can’t simply attribute it to extra processed meat and less pasta. Clinical studies have shown low fat diets or low carb diets with calorific deficits are in essence very similar in terms of weight loss but both rely on a reduction in calories. Adherence is the most important thing with a diet and it seems more people manage to do that with a LCHF approach.

      • davehorne

        I wouldn’t use the word ‘spike’ when referring to the glycemic index of protein.

      • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

        In the real world hunger means eat. Adherence is easier when you’re not fighting your biology. Being hungry all the time makes longterm adherence almost impossible.

        Ask anyone that has fully adapted to low carb high fat, there is no reason to count calories. You choose the food, your body decides how much of it you should eat via highly regulated homeostatic feedback.

        Let sugar and other processed carbs hijack those feedback loops and you’re hungry all the time and considerably less likely to adhere!

      • Roy Walker

        ….That is because a low carb high fat medium protein diet, seems helps blunt hunger more than a low fat medium protein high carb diet does, remember we are dealing with people, who have a hard time eating less calories while consuming a low fat high carb diet, while it is not fully understood, as to the reason why this is so, it has been proven to be the case in a lot of studies over the last 10 or so years, also these people as a percentage seem to have better blood work and health outcomes as an added bonus. A win win for them.

  • JonathanBagley

    Thousands in the UK are recounting having successfully lost weight through restricting carbohydrate intake and otherwise eating when they feel hungry, so it must work for some. If other approaches – jogging and pasta – can’t remove the spare tyre, there is surely no harm in trying it for a couple of months.

  • Mark Cupples

    Experts are often paid by food corporations, processed food! Low carb means meat and salad, fruit and selected vegetables. There was no obesity epidemic before the Supermarket and processed food. For the best diet, and food choices and reasons why experts disagree have a look at SLIM BUSINEZ.

  • Anthony Brown

    As a diabetic of 18 months I was able to reverse my T2 and lost 4st by following a lowcarb diet ,I don’t eat loads of fat you are talking rubbish you need to check it out properly. It cost nothing, maybe that’s the problem

  • Alistair

    If anyone wants to watch the author of this article, Chris Snowdon, get completely taken apart on this issue live on television, then I suggest they watch this absolutely hilarious C4 interview:


  • Nostents4me

    Interesting to see how the “low carb bashing” are growing up like mushrooms allover, now when most people start to get that its the carb excess that cause obesity, diabetes 2 , insulin resistance ad heart disease. Who are the fertilizers of this new waves? Follow the money means that the onlo losers on low carb eating are,… Big Food and Big pharma…. Cheers for healthier lower carb eating, brought to us in the late 1800’s by William Banting, the world’s first well published low carber ever! And it worked from his name we derived the verb BANT.

    • lolexplosm

      But if we follow the money, promoting people to eat more high fat foods and meat and dairy still benefits Big Food doesn’t it? Could we not say the winners in low carb eating are the meat and dairy industry?

      • Nostents4me

        Low carb does not mean more meat. Old Atkins meant more protein, low carb like LCHF keeps protein same or lower. Fat is going up and dairy fat, coconut and olive oil are equally good. Apart from avocado and some nuts. The real losers on the high carb was local fresh food suppliers. Modern CAFOs is nothing we want more of.

    • Roy Walker

      Well, not quite true that high carbs is the total blame, just that a fair proportion of the population seems unable to process glucose, as efficiently as others, I wonder why people don’t just let others get on with whatever works for them as opposed to trying to ram there woe down their necks, if you process carbs, great, lucky you, if you need to blunt your appetite with more fat, go for it, whatever works for you is where it is at. I must agree the “low carb bashing” seems to be almost reigious in its zeal on here, lol. Some people just can’t stand other peoples view points unless it agrees with theirs.

      • Nostents4me

        Think you ignore that the new recommendations of low fat and high carb has increased fast carb and sugars from 40% to 60%, and diabetes has skyrocketed only since those new recommendations, around 1980. Our genes takes 100’s of years to change and diabetes was very unusual in the early 20th century. It means we cannot really blame peoples genes except some are better able to withstand the sharp increase in carb intake from the 1980.. The other thing is that insulin resistance takes years to build up and most. like me, are not hit until in the late 50’s. Low carb solved it for me and it seems intermittent fasting restored some carb tolerance. Saturated fat is good as it satisfies that way it fills and stops “grazing”.

        • Maria

          Except we were genetically programmed to put on weight to survive a lean winter and eat seasonally. Nature supplies high sugar fruits in the summer/autumn for us to consume to aid weight gain, then in autumn her bounty provides us with nuts that are low carb high fat, so they satiate the appetite in lean months and they can also be stored. Those that put on weight survived harsh winters and passed on the their genes.We no longer eat seasonally or face winter food famines!
          Weight gain is hormone driven, woman are programmed to carry excess weight for pregnancy and breastfeeding however we now limit the number of children we bare again another reason for excess weight increase. Woman find it harder to lose weight than men and this is down to their monthly hormone changes.

          • Nostents4me

            Correct! With an involuntary “seasonal fast” during the winter, the insulin resistance that makes us fat for very good reasons in the harvesting time is gone and nobody stays fat. Except those that have stockpiled, or upper class Egyptians who, due to the good dry climate for storing in their desert, were spoilt with grains throughout the year already 6000 years ago. MRI scans of mummie arteries revealed that over 40 % had severe atherosclerosis, calcified arteries, in spite of most dying before reaching 40. That is the first “around the year feed experiment” carried out, and it seems our genes haven changed and as you say they are common as most of us starved in the winter and mainly those able to put on fat quickly could survive winter or give birth to surviving children then.

  • Summer Isles

    So we have an economist trying to trash the views of a consultant cardiologist on the prevention of heart disease.

    As the video below demonstrates Mr Snowdon is talking through his hat.

    • mirkins

      Looks like the Spectator’s comment section moderator removed the link to the video on the Channel 4 blog post dated Monday 18 August 2014, titled “Obesity crisis: sorting the ‘fat’ from the fiction” in which Professor Mike Lean, the Chair of Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow debates with Christopher Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

      So, best to grab some keywords from the above para and a web search engine of choice to enjoy the video.

      • Summer Isles

        Evidently freedom of speech has its limits.

        Spectator Health does itself no favours publishing this kind of vituperative attack on Dr Malhotra. He has not ‘risen without trace’, he is an experienced cardiologist.

        Which is not to say his views should not be challenged, but that challenge needs to come from someone with a little more medical credibility that a spokesman for the Institute of Economic Affairs.

  • Alistair

    C4 interview here where Christopher Snowdon debates this topic with Aseem Malhotra and Mike Leen:


  • Alistair

    Absolutely hilarious if The Spectator (a supposed bastion of free speech) deletes this interview again.

    • mirkins

      Comments about Snowdon’s opinion piece brought me to this site. I suspect people eager to share their personal successes with HFLC were attracted by comments about the op-ed as well.

      When people look through these comments so far, they see one spam ad comment that hasn’t been removed, discussion of a removed link to a video, testimonies from people who’ve succeeded at weight loss using HFLC diet (it worked for me too), and questions from people who want more detail or have misconstrued ideas.

      I believe Dr Malhotra’s claim that lack of exercise does not cause obesity. I believe this because I didn’t do extra exercise when I went HFLC, I read reports of people who didn’t exercise and lost weight, and I see obese people bicycling, regularly weight-lifting or doing cardio while I’m walking to the stores to buy clothes for a smaller-size me.

  • Adam Kosloff

    I am heartened to see so many comments bash this piece to the bits it deserves. The real cult is the low fat high carb diet that has been ubiquitously prescribed for nearly 40 years and led to millions of deaths and trillions of dollars in damages. The revolution will not be denied.

  • Julia Basnett

    Can this be the same Christopher Snowdon? – tireless interrogator of all the lifestyle
    moralism driving health policy? His acerbic commentary on topics such as minimum pricing for alcohol, plain packaging for cigarettes and taxes on fizzy drinks
    have always been well researched and razor sharp. Well, he’s taken a day off with this piece.

    ’Ignore the low-carb cult: eating lots of fat won’t make you slim’ reads like the title of one
    of those hectoring ‘five-a-day’, ‘watch your calories’, ‘take lots of exercise’ leaflets from Public Health England. But its ok, the author will explain why the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) is bad science.

    But he doesn’t. Instead,Snowdon takes a swipe at one individual (Aseem Malhotra, who contributed to this week’s National Obesity Forum’s report)) and then dismisses low carb diet proponents as “evangelists” and a “cult”. Low-carbers, he says, are ‘obsessed with government dietary guidelines which they think have been hijacked by low-fat zealots ‘for reasons that are unclear’ but which probably involve Big Food and the ‘diabetes industry’. Snowdon dismisses the work of Taubes and Teicholz’ as “far from compelling”.

    This is really odd. Snowdon must know that for a long time now the government advice has ceaselessly hectored the entire population to eat less and exercise more. He must know the reduced-calorie, low-fat diet, has been a big fat failure. Maybe not? It’s true, the claim that there is no link between physical inactivity and obesity is challenging, but for Snowdon its “extraordinary”. Of course the LCHF hypothesis of Taubes, Teicholz and Malhotra needs examining. But accepting that the science isn’t fully settled doesn’t mean we disallow the strong evidence these writers produce and scrutinise. The steps to the orthodoxy which preaches the virtue of a low fat diet – the diet that is recommended to us by our governments as the healthy diet – is not only well documented and explored in the work of Taubes and Teicholz but forms a critical part in understanding that this is a recent orthodoxy.

    These writers challenge the orthodoxy . In what way is this “unclear” to Snowdon? Rob Lyons (author of Panic on a Plate) reviewed Teicholz’s work in 2014. Lyons noted that Teicholz is careful not to blame misguided dietary advice on “the nefarious interests of Big Food” but points the finger instead at “public-health bureaucracies [who have] enshrined the dogma that fat is bad for us”. By this process, argues Teicholz, ‘the normally self-correcting mechanism of science, which involves constantly challenging one’s own beliefs, was disabled’.

    Snowdon should review his thinking on LCHF ‘cults’ and re-visit the science. And he should return to what he does best. The report by the National Obesity Forum and the newly-formed Public Health Collaboration merits criticism not for its willingness to debunk the reduced calorie, low fat dogma (it should be applauded for this) but for its assumption that we need ever more guidelines and advice. Snowdon would do better to
    turn his attention on the angry riposte issued by Public Health England: “Suggesting people should eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories conflicts with the broad evidence base and internationally agreed interpretations of it”. For PHE the report commits the cardinal sin of being “irresponsible” because it “misleads” the (presumably gullible) public who cannot debate ideas. Indeed, for PHE, the report’s crime amounted
    to saying ‘ignore the low-carb cult, eating lots of fat won’t make you slim’. An own-goal by the otherwise brilliant Christopher Snowdon I think.

  • AnnieLaurie Burke

    Not only is the author unqualified, he misrepresents he science behind eliminating sugar and processed foods by using silly phrases like “cheese and bacon” diet — not all what experts recommending a more natural diet are suggesting. When you have to caricature your opponent’s view, you’ve conceded defeat.

  • bachcole

    The whole premise of the article is flawed: “Lots of fat” is not the suggestion.

  • Jason Coates

    This is just a hack job on Malhotra. Sad really. South Africa has a relatively large and very sucessfully Ketogenic/Banting community. The author doesn’t bother to understand the difference between LCHF and ketogenic.

  • WimsThePhoenix

    The author of this piece is a brainwashed puppet of the State line on nutrition, which means kow-towing to Big Food and Big Pharm.

    There are enormous profits in selling grain and there are enormous profits in the pharmaceutical industry in dealing with the bad effects to 70% or so of us who get insulin resistance after the age of about 30.

    Ask yourself this, Snowdon. If harvesting grain has only been going on for the last 100,000 years, what did people eat in the way of carbs before that? The odd cache of honey and the odd root here and there. Glycogen from liver, I suppose, but in the main, energy for hunter gatherers came from FAT.

    That in itself is powerful evidence that we evolved to burn fats, NOT sugars as our primary energy source.

    The reliance on a secondary metabolic source of energy as a primary is the cause of all the problems. Idiots like Snowdon help to perpetuate the scam.

  • dkd4

    Well this article was so yesterday’s facts …. the latest studies — and some not so recent studies, trounce nearly all the ‘science’ in this article. There is a groundswell of medical practitioners in the UK and across the globe who are advocating the LCHF diet. Furthermore, the internet has had a huge impact on how the public perceive institutional experts & other pundits… we are no longer passive information takers. A few clicks and anyone can understand that the standard mainstream nutritional advice is not only flawed – it has created a nation of obese and/or sick people. People like myself, will not wait for the experts to overhaul the nutritional pyramid and update the public health service … I have a life to live and I want live it in the best way possible. I have made my choice.

  • Blammo

    A character assassination masquerading as science. Good article

  • “Science and newspapers don’t mix”.
    Quite right – the lay media are not qualified to operate journalism regarding science – so they are replaced by lackeys who insert the press release as provided by a cartel of elitists that protects the lay public from the ‘complexities’ of science.
    Trolling disinfo has a dirty feel as it blatantly lies to undermine the designated ‘threat’ to the control of the narrative. What this then reveals is just how much ‘control of the narrative’ goes on – and the institutions that are used as a cover for such dis-info.
    The ‘model’ is deemed “Too Big To Fail” and therefore everything and everyone is sacrificial or collateral damage in the crusade to protect the model. And so peddling dis-info is really protecting us from truths that are too dangerous to know – or at least to the belief that control of society is the task of elitists working deceits.

    But lest I seem smugly self righteous – I see how this pattern operates within our individual consciousness and is thus inevitably reflected in our thoughts, relationships and communication.

    An integrative and cooperative relationship within Life is not one that invalidates others in order to seem better or more true. And the undoing of such false science is not an attack on science – but a correction in which communication is OPENED. Controlling the narrative is not science – but political deceit.

  • Mel

    the evidence that low fat doesn’t work is overwhelming. It’s been the dietary recommendation for decades now and under it’s watch the obesity epidemic has bloomed. Use you’re brain. A 5 year old could figure this out.

  • Mark Cupples

    You can find those who say low carb is bad you can find those who say its good. I have lived it and its good. The weight is lost, the blood pressure improves, the cholesterol ratio is excellent. See SLIM BUSINEZ is my story.

    The food industry hates it because the supermarket is full of high carb sugar loaded food and they pay all sorts of people to keep you in all of the aisles.

    Meat, Fish, Chicken, eggs, butter,. cream, salad … no epidemic of obesity, blood pressure, stroke in 1890 when people ate real food.

  • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

    This article is complete codswallop. The title has a grain of truth, sure, adding lots of fat to your diet won’t make you slim. However, replacing high carb junk like bread, pasta, cookies, cakes with real food like meat, fish and vegetables, ensuring you eat plenty of fat (natural fat, not that industrially processed high-PUFA seed oils) to ensure you’re not hungry you will get slim! I promise, try for 3 weeks and you’ll know unequivocally!

    Eating a low carb high fat diet, allowed me to lose 18kg without hunger in 4 just months. Not only that my fasting blood glucose went from 7 mmol/L to 4.2 mmol/L

    It’s not that eating fat makes you lose weight. Possibly the worse diet you could follow would be a high fat, high carb diet, but in the absence of high carb food, particularly acellular, refined grains and sugars, your body will return to it’s natural state of being able to use the calories your body has been storing as fat.

    Answer this one question. Why, not how, but WHY does your body store fat? When you discover the purpose of stored body fat you’ll think different! Then go and learn how your body uses that stored fat and how it’s pretty much a in or out arrangement. There is ample science proving the efficacy of LCHF on all manner of metabolic issues from obesity to diabetes.

    • disqus_ax7qut9jL1

      For the record I should’ve mentioned that the 18kg of spare tires on my hips disappeared without any exercise whatsoever, Malhotra is dead right.

      And it makes sense, if you eat REAL food but don’t exercise you are less hungry, than if you workout hard. But you can be sedentary all day, do no exercise exercise, and the resulting sugar crashes caused by eating high carb junk coupled with engineered bliss points will ensure you always up for eating more!

  • David Jackson

    People are too weak minded to avoid sugar/bread/pasta/rice, that’s crack cocaine for you!

  • Madeleine Joiner

    LOL this ‘author’ needs to some independent research!

  • tyyuen

    This piece sounds like one funded by the food industry. Low carb high fat is a term. The philosophy of it actually suggests low carb, moderate protein, and the rest of your calories from high quality fat. The philosophy also emphasizes non-root veggies, nuts, and berries. Lots of veggies. It also stresses hydration and electrolytic replenishment. That’s a mouthful to call a diet and it’s not. It’s a lifestyle and it’s bad for the food industry and the centre isles of supermarkets. The “diet” also stresses good omega 3 to omega 6 ratios. It also suggests that we have individual thresholds for carb metabolism. Keto is great for losing weight but I have transitioned to low carb high fat and have maintained a healthy weight with good levels of trigs and HDL.

  • Thomas Jones

    If Snowdon is an expert, and he surely has to be in order to argue against Dr Malhotra then shouldn’t he be healthy looking himself? I saw Snowdon’s face, it is a picture of somebody who has let himself go, he is borderline obese. and goodness knows what his hbac1 levels look like. Under x-ray, a photo would reveal high levels of visceral fat, not to mention fat all around his body in every organ.

    I feel sorry for a man who belittles medical experts, and yet is a man who will soon need Dr Malhotra’s help in the cardiological ward of the nearest clinic…what a fool!

    (There is still time……Snowdon!)

  • Jay

    I love the premise of the LCHF diets, given how I’m a follower in order to cut the risk for diabetes; it runs in my family. I have a grandparent on each side who suffers/suffered diabetes. However, I am noticing a lot of quacks (eg. Dr. Mercola) and crank magnets (anti vaxxers) attract to such diet. I try to avoid those people as much as possible.

  • roger avery

    Dear Christopher Snowden,
    Would you like to cite some (recent) randomized controlled trials to substantiate your assertion that Dr. Malhotra’s advice is wrong? As it stands, your article is worthless since you provide no reliable evidence, only hearsay. Perhaps you, too, are part of the “man bites dog” media health movement.

  • Thomas Jones

    I too was drawn into the high fat low carb obsession by his charming demeanour, and apparently ‘hot to women’ looks, OMG how does that sound! What I meant was, his eloquent and overly polite manner, sucked me into his plan of ‘making a lot of money’ before he grows old. His biggest mistake that he could ever make was to claim that “calories are an inappropriate measure of proof” https://twitter.com/DrAseemMalhotra/status/825097590400114689

    If Dr Malhotra doesn’t understands basic physics and bio-chemistry, then he needs to quit spreading his pseudoscience and get back to the emergency room, why isn’t he working night and day saving people lives on behalf of the NHS? Does money really talk?

  • Chris Craft

    Odd title because I lost 144lbs and have been losing more. Most people I know who were once fat have lost almost all their weight on Keto. Also keto is not just about bacon and cheese. The reason why those on Keto seems like cultist is because the rebuttals you offer against our successful weight loss and health are so pathetic.

  • Internet_user

    False headline. I’ve been on ketogenic diet and lost lots of weight eating only saturated fats and high protein