We knew how to reverse type II diabetes in the 50s

Before the low-fat-diet insanity of the 1970s onward, sanity about diet and obesity was fairly common among the medical associations of the world.

Shown below is the abstract of an article published by George Thorpe, MD in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) in 1957 [1]. This article predates the better-known work of Atkins by sixteen years!

The abstract is as simple as it is clear: to lose body fat, eat meat, have some vegetables, avoid sugar and grains. This was the standard procedure for weight loss, or “slimming”, until the 1960s. It was the standard procedure for a good reason: it worked. Given this, it’s not clear why Atkins took so much heat for repeating what was previously conventional wisdom.

Actually, maybe it is clear. Through the 1980s, low-fat eating became common. Cholesterol and saturated fat were the enemy. People felt like they had no choice but to stop eating fat, otherwise they would surely get heart disease. The choice was clear: either suffer with tasteless and dry food for your whole life, or suffer with chest pains and shortened life in the cardiac ward. In this world, Atkins was a heretic.

The good news is that it wasn’t true. Atkins was right. If we had only held to what we already understood to be true about nutrition in the 1950s, we would have been just fine. Probably better.

Sharp reduction in average daily energy intake while maintaining high carbohydrate consumption leads to hunger and loss of lean tissue (muscle mass). This creates the “yo-yo diet” or “rebound” phenomenon. When energy supply is chronically inadequate on a low-calorie diet, the body uses up muscle and other bodily tissues (protein) for energy. Due to reduced muscle mass,, the metabolism slows down and it’s harder to burn fat. The dieter either doubles down on the calorie restriction misery, for weaker results, or else gives up and returns to his normal diet. Of course, going back to his old way of eating will replace the lost fat and muscle mass with new fat mass. Losing fat and muscle, then regaining only fat, is a dangerous and unhealthy result from yo-yo dieting.

The indigenous Eskimos knew how to do it right. The above paragraph describes a textbook ketogenic diet, with the vast majority (80%) of the calories coming from fat, the rest from protein, and almost no carbohydrate. A healthy, non-restricted energy intake of 2000-3000 kcal facilitates burning body fat when the components of the diet (fat and protein) do not cause hyperinsulinemia. In other words, consistently low blood levels of insulin enable the body to regulate fat storage and consumption in a healthy manner.  

A simple and clear recipe for weight loss without hunger, discomfort, or muscle loss.

I received the reference to this article from P. D. Mangan.

The original PDF article, from which I clipped the excerpts above, may be found here.

By the way, the 50s I refer to in the title are actually the 1850s, not the 1950s. Dr. Thorpe was scooped by around one hundred years! Banting’s famous Letter on Corpulence was written at that time. This information has been known both empirically and clinically for a very long time.

[1] George L. Thorpe, M.D., Treating Overweight Patients, JAMA. 1957;165(11):1361-1365.


Taking the red (meat) pill

As so many others have said about low-carb eating, I can’t unsee what I have seen or un-experience what I have experienced.

I can’t pretend that I didn’t drop 40 pounds with minimal effort, discomfort, or hunger.

And I certainly can’t pretend that I didn’t do this while eating foods that the medical and nutritional mainstream deems “unhealthy”, and avoiding foods that they deem “healthy”.

The medical and nutritional establishment has claimed (on extremely weak and speculative evidence) that red meat, dairy, and eggs will make you obese and unhealthy.

They claim that grains are “heart healthy” and that we should replace animal fats with “vegetable” oils. The name “vegetable” suggests healthy foods like broccoli or cabbage, but in reality, so-called vegetable oils are not pressed from fresh green leaves. Instead, these oils come from seeds that must be heat-treated and solvent-extracted to yield their oils, and chemically processed to remove toxic compounds.

The establishment doesn’t really say too much about sugar except that it’s “empty calories” and try not to eat too much of it. (Unless it’s a “healthy” juice or smoothie or fruit and then you should probably have a lot, they say.) Curiously, Coca-Cola, Nabisco, Kraft, and other packaged food companies donate millions to fund nutritional studies to support the hypothesis that eating 10-20% of your diet as sugar is benign. I wonder why they do that (note: sarcasm).

It is clear the the “food pyramid”, MyPlate, or whatever other guidelines the various national governments create are far more about selling agricultural product and sustaining the packaged food industry than they are about human health and wellness.

More and more people are discovering that this dogma is the exact opposite of the clinical and experimental truth. People are taking their health into their own hands, experimenting with low-carb or ketogenic eating, and seeing massive improvement in many different symptoms simultaneously. Thousands of people (perhaps even millions) are:

  • reversing their type II diabetes,
  • returning from obesity and even morbid obesity to normal, healthy weight
  • recovering from metabolic syndrome,
  • reducing their cancer risk factors, and
  • reducing their heart disease risk factors.

People are achieving these results without medication, and in many cases they are even able to reduce or discontinue use of their prescription drugs. 

Does this torrent of good results mean that the “food pyramid” is a lie, and that the guidelines and “official” dietary advice of the past 50+ years has been actively harmful to people’s health? Quite possibly, yes. When breaking most of the conventional “rules” achieves better results than following them, then perhaps it’s time to rewrite the rules according to the clinical, scientific, and anecdotal observations.

Many medical doctors have themselves experienced a similar red pill moment where they made the choice to test out low-carb eating on themselves. Perhaps they entered middle age and put on a few too many pounds above their college athlete weight. So they tried keto, or Atkins, or LCHF, or Whole30. And it worked for them. Then they tried it out on some of their adventurous patients and it worked for those patients too. At that point, they got the lightning bolt and realized that the eternal “eat less and move more” or “calories in equals calories out” advice was misguided. Or, at the very least, profoundly oversimplified.

If someone’s a skeptic, the answer is simple: “try it for yourself, seriously, for a month or two, and see what happens”. More and more former skeptics are doing this, and getting good results. And yet for now the guidelines remain unchanged, and the medical and nutritional mainstream seems immovable.

What does this mean? It’s becoming increasingly clear that true change only comes from individual exploration and community activity. Following average advice from average doctors gets average results, and the average result is pretty terrible: metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, statin drugs and their side effects, and apparently unstoppable disease progression. A quarter of Americans already have Type II diabetes, and this fraction is increasing. Many more are prediabetic and don’t know it, because a formal diagnosis of Type II diabetes arrived at very late stage in the disease progression.

In contrast, people get good results quickly from going against the conventional wisdom – i.e. right after “taking the red pill”. After they save themselves, they feel good and have high energy, and they want to help unplug others from the nutritional Matrix.

Change has not come from the top-down. The medical and nutritional community has been too invested in the status quo of the past 50+ years. And too many long careers have been invested in supporting the orthodoxy of the failed diet-heart hypothesis, in opposition to the science, clinical results, and thousands of individual success stories.

No one in the prestigious medical associations will ever awkwardly apologize and say “we made a ‘little’ mistake in the 1960s, and 50 million people died of diabetes and heart disease who might have been saved … uh, sorry, I guess?”

But maybe they should.