Eat Fat Get Thin by Mark Hyman debunks the idea that fat is bad for you. And he provides a very good overview over the current literature on food and nutrition.
- Low carb, higher fat diets work for most anyone
- Sugar and refined carbs are the true causes of obesity and heart diseases
- Refined carbs and sugars are bad for everyone, but there’s no one size fits all die
Well, fats are complex. So let’s start first with the types of fat:
Saturated fats have long (and wrongly) been the scourge of the nutrition world and have been blamed for causing heart diseases.
But the author says that it’s only when combined with refined carbs or sugar that they become unhealthy.
- Monosaturated fats
These are part of the saturated fat family and they are good for you.
They include nuts, olive oil, avocados and some fish and meat.
Cardiologist often recommend Mediterranean diet for the high monodaturated fats.
- Polyunsaturated Fat (Omega-3 & Omega-6)
These are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and they are essential in our diet because they can’t be produced by our bodies (and that’s why they are called essential fatty acids).
However too many Omega-6 are bad and you must take care of not eating too many Omega-6 as compared to Omega-3, which is what happens way too often.
Try to keep the ration of 4 Omega-6 to 1 Omega-3 at most.
Omega-3 are highly lacking in the standard American diet and should be consumed in higher doses.
You can find Omega 3 in cold water fishes such as sardines, trouts, salmon, oysters and tuna.
But also grass-fed cattle and algae.
Omega-6 fats tend to cause inflammation but are not that bad as long as you keep a good ration with Omega-3. You end up with too many Omega-6 when you eat too lots of fried food and processed food containing carbs (french fries).
- Trans Fat
These are the real bad guys. They are commercially produce and you can find in processed food, margarine, fried food and commercially produced baked food.
Also avoid cool whip which is made of trans fat but can claim it’s not because it’s mostly air.
Fat and Heart Disease
The author says that there is no link between total fat or saturated fat and heart disease.
And omega-3 fats were actually the most protective against heart disease.
Higher level of saturated fat in the blood indeed only happens when there are too many carbs in our diet.
Saturated Fats and Cholesterol
It’s mostly trans fat and refined vegetable oils that contribute to high cholesterol.
Omega-3 fats and monosaturated fats instead improve cholesterol.
Heart diseases are mostly caused by inflammation and stress, not cholesterol.
And the biggest source of high cholesterol in any case is not fat, but sugar.
We can live well without carbs, but if you must eat them, make sure they are high quality carbs.
What are high quality carbs?
High quality carbs have lots:
Most of our diet should be carbs, but from whole plants foods (broccoli, asparagus, beans for example)
The more steps there are in the production, the worse it is. Eat carbs that are in their natural state instead.
Grain can be part of healthy diet, just not in unlimited amounts (and keep in mind up to 10% of the population might be gluten allergic but only 1% is diagnosed).
No One Size Fits All
One size fits all medicine is a thing of the past, says the author. Some people do better with lots of fats, some other can do great with more starch and carbs.
Peagan: The Eat Fat Get Thin Diet
The author uses a mix of vegeterian and paleo diets. That means:
- Lots of vegetables (and some fruits like berries)
- Healthy carbs
Eat Fat Get Thin Criticism
Colin Campbell, author of The China Study has been a vocal critic of Eat Fat Get Thin.
He says that we did not experiment with low fat diets so it’s not OK to criticize a low fat diet and draw conclusions from the past decades because if never was a low fat diet.
Campbell says that Hyman is wrong that “higher rates of diseases in recent decades are solely attributed to increased sugar and carbohydrates consumption”.
My Note: however, I didn’t notice Hyman saying that the disease increase is solely attributed to sugar and carbs. Indeed he speaks a lot about bad quality meat and processed food as well.
Also, I didn’t notice Hyman focusing on the past decades as being the example of what a low fat diet does.
Don’t Just Look at Calories
If you’re trying to diet, don’t just look at calories. Where that calories comes from matters and push different metabolic triggers
Avoid Low Fat Products
They are man-modified and often have added sugars.
If You Increase Fat Intake Reduce Carbs
If you eat a lot of carbs you gotta reduce carbs.
Drop Trans Fat
Stop eating anything that has trans fat.
Check the label it has zero, but also check the ingredient list that there is no partially hydrogenated oil.
Put Your Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the Shades
I can’t believe that as an Italian I was keeping my bottle of oil in the open air. I should have known better.
Store your oil away from sunlight and heat sources.
Big Sales Funnel
Eat Fat Get Thin has a lot of references to the website and to downloadable material, which sounds a bit like a marketing funnel.
BUT it wasn’t too disturbing for me.
It provides an overview on what most nutritionists agree on and an overview for the biggest areas of disagreement.
Most of what Mark Hyman says makes a lot of sense.
I have to be honest: I approached this book thinking it was going to be a book trying to be contrarian to generate some hype and sell some copies.
I was wrong.
The author is right that fat has had too bad a rep recently. Fat still partially raises heckles in me. Well, if it’s the same for you, here’s the news: we are wrong (except for too many Omega-6 and trans fat).
I loved Eat Fat Get Thin and I loved the overview it provides about the current status of the nutrition research.