Low Carb: My great-grandmother knew

Let me begin by saying that I am not against low-fat diets! If a low-fat diet works for you long-term, fine with me, go with it. Low-fat doesn’t work for me, though, so my personal choice is to eat low-carb.

One of my few childhood memories is of sitting around a dinner table with my parents, grandparents, and us kids. My great-grandmother, whom we called “Grandma Olive”, was also there, and I was sitting near her. When the dinner rolls came around, she passed them along without taking one.

I asked her, “No bread for you, Grandma Olive?”

She replied, “Oh no, dear. I have potatoes. Can’t have two starches.”

I didn’t think about that much, until a few years ago, when I was doing some in-depth research into low-carb diets.

I discovered that low-carb was the first modern weight-loss program, formulated in the 1800s.

I discovered that low-carb was, in fact, the weight-loss program of choice, until the 1950s, when politics dictated that fat should be declared the villain.

The demonization of fat seems to make sense. I mean, we know that excess fat on our bodies and excess cholesterol in our blood leads to bad things, right? So — logically — we should not eat those things.

Problem is that the science didn’t — and doesn’t — back that up.

(NOTE: For more about this subject, including in-depth reporting and solid scientific support, please read  Good Calories, Bad Calories by renowned science writer Gary Taubes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you can read the first 100 pages of that book and continue to consume sugar in quantity, you have some kind of sweet tooth!)

As it turns out, when we eat low-fat meals, we tend to eat a lot more carbs, our calorie count goes way up, and our body stores the excess intake as fat. That’s why there’s an obesity epidemic in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 1994 — the first year data is available for all 50 states —  all states had an obesity rate below 20%. In 2010, all states had an obesity rate greater than 20%! (NOTE: “Obesity” is gauged as a body mass index of at least 30. BTW, the obesity rate in 1985 was below 15% in all states that were measured.) That’s how much fatter we’ve become over the past 18 (and 27) years.

The CDC also tells us that since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. That’s why we had to change the name of “adult-onset” diabetes to “Type 2” diabetes, because our high-carb diets were creating diabetics at younger and younger ages.

Yup, this is where an emphasis on low-fat eating has gotten us.

I remember when I was a low-fat advocate. I used to do silly things like buy candy on road trips, instead of protein- and fat-based meals, because I thought that was nutrition, and, hey, little or no fat! Same with sugary soft drinks. Drink up! No fat!


Anyway, different strokes for different folks. If you are into low-fat dieting and it works for you — remember that is key, it has to work for you — get it on! Doesn’t work for me, though, and, apparently, it didn’t work for my Grandma Olive either. She knew.