A low-fat diet raises the risk of early death by almost a quarter according to a recent study. The Lancet looked at 135,000 adults and found that those who cut out things like meat and butter had much shorter lives than those who didn’t.
Main takeaways from the study
- A prospective cohort study included 18 countries at varying economic levels
- Researchers found that high carbohydrate intake (more than about 60% of energy) increases total mortality and non-cardiovascular disease mortality
- Higher fat intake lowers risk of total mortality, non-cardiovascular disease mortality, and stroke
- Higher intakes of individual types of fat reduced total mortality, non-cardiovascular disease mortality, and stroke risk
- Higher fat intake did not cause major cardiovascular disease events, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality
- Current recommendations to limit total fat intake to less than 30% of energy and saturated fat intake to less than 10% of energy should be changed
- Individuals who eat a lot of carbohydrates might benefit lowering carbs and increasing their fats.
What this means for you
What’s remarkable about this study is that until now, the majority of research was done in European and North American populations, where most people have plenty of food and obesity is common.
This study included nutrition and mortality information from populations where there is at least some food scarcity. Instead of applying the patterns of wealthy, industrialized nations to the whole world, we now have a better snapshot of the interplay between nutrition and disease for everyone.
The study confirms what we’ve known for a long time now, except on a global scale. Carbohydrates and low-fat processed foods are not the answer, but major health organizations have been telling you for decades to eat more carbs and limit your fat.
This is simply bad advice. In fact, once the low-fat recommendations took hold, people became fatter and sicker.
Will nutritional recommendations change?
The new study is compelling because you can apply it across different populations and economic classes. But, the nutritional findings aren’t new. Researchers have known the power of good fats for decades. That’s why you feel unstoppable on the Bulletproof Diet.
Lower carbohydrate diets have time and time again helped people to lose weight without adding unnecessary cardiovascular risk.
You need fat, and you need cholesterol. In fact, lowering cholesterol can kill you. For every 30 point reduction in cholesterol, mortality increased by 22%. In one study, researchers acknowledged that their experimental low saturated fat diet might be toxic since they saw a spike in mortality
More often than not, the path from research to practice is a slow one. Doctors and dieticians are doing their best, but there’s a lot of red tape. Standards of care guidelines and insurance companies can interfere with a professional’s practice. That doesn’t mean change is impossible, but it does mean it can take a while.
Until then, do your own research. Find what works best for you. Fill your plate with vegetables, grass-fed and pastured meats, wild-caught seafood, and high-quality fats. This will put you on the right track.