Expert reveals weight loss benefits of high fat low carb ketogenic diet

For years, saturated fats such as coconut oil were relegated to the list of "bad foods." We avoided it like the plague, convinced by so-called experts that it would lead to problems ranging from high cholesterol to heart disease. Recent studies, however, show that it offers benefits ranging from healthy levels of cholesterol to weight loss. At the same time, more experts are recommending low carb high fat (LCHF) ketogenic diets for similar benefits. We asked one of the world's leading nutrition experts, Jonny Bowden, to clarify. He's the author of "The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-Free Plan That Will" (click for details) and "Living Low Carb: Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss."

With regard to weight loss, most of the fat in coconut oil is MCT (medium chain triglycerides), "which the body prefers to use for energy rather than storage," he added. As a result of these benefits, Jonny says that the organic varieties available now qualify coconut oil as a superfood, earning a star in his book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why."

Studies support his views. A Harvard study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that “greater saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of coronary atherosclerosis, whereas carbohydrate intake is associated with a greater progression.” Moreover, Jonny cites "the famous Framingham, Mass., heart study, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol." Researchers found that “people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, [and] ate the most calories weighed the least and were the most physically active.”

However, Jonny does emphasize that choosing the right brand is important. Look for "wonderful, organic coconut oil (like Barlean’s for example)," he adds.

If you're not sure about how to cook with coconut products, Jonny's authored several cookbooks to help: "The 150 Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about How to Make the Most Deliciously Nutritious Meals at Home in Just Minutes a Day" (click for details) and "The Healthiest Meals on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What Meals to Eat and Why." The latter book also includes details on how to cook with coconut oil, shop for it and use it in other ways.

We asked Jonny for his views on low carb high fat (LCHF) ketogenic diets. Here are some key points from Jonny:

Jonny notes that some people "try consciously to stay in nutritional ketosis NOT because they want to lose weight, but because they believe, not without reason, that it has health benefits way beyond fat loss. Famous example: the great neurologist and NY Times best-selling author of Grain Brain, David Perlmutter, who, incidentally, is as lean as a pole." (Note: For more information about "Grain Brain" and renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, click here.)

The problem that many LCHF dieters experience: Getting into ketosis. "If you’re trying to get into ketosis for whatever reason, the level of carb consumption you’ll need to go to is going to be variable," cautions Jonny. "Some folks have to go ridiculously low—10 grams a day (a couple handfuls of lettuce). Some can go as high as 50 grams a day. Almost no one will be in ketosis as 100 grams a day, so the range is somewhere in there."

A new trend in the diet world attempts to stay true to the old philosophy of demonizing fat while following the new rule "low carb is good." Can you really go on a low fat AND low carb diet? We asked Jonny, who bluntly shared his expert opinion: 

I think low carb low fat diets are idiotic. I see absolutely nothing beneficial about avoiding fat. It’s a silly idea which is way past its expiration date, kept alive by ridiculous, antiquated organizations like the American Dietetic Association and their official Stepford-wife “spokespeople”. In addition, for diets to be both low in carbs and low in fat, they would have to be very high in protein (or you’d starve). That’s OK for some people, but the smartest advocates of high protein diets (Mike and Mary Dan Eades, for example) would scoff at the idea of a low fat version of a high protein diet.

Note: If you're not familiar with the Eades and their approach to low carb diets, we highly recommend "Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health-in Just Weeks." The book proved to be a literal life saver for a friend who suffered a severe stroke in his 30s. After being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a roster of other problems, he was told to lose weight and used this book as his guide. Result: He reversed all his problems, lose the excess pounds and stays true to the principles of the Eades' diet plan. 

We also asked Jonny for his views on the percentage prescriptions that some emphasize (e.g. 20 percent carbohydrates, 60 percent fats, 20 percent protein).

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