Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

I guess some RDs are sexy

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Eat big meals… Fat goes quick! Photo by L’imaGiraphe (en travaux) on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons LIcence.

Right on the heels of my post about we dietitians not being sexy, this article comes out in the Daily Mail, and I’m forced to eat my words (good thing there are no forbidden foods!). Dietitian Trudi Deakin is proclaiming a high-fat, low-carb diet to be the be all and end all, and she’s written the book to “prove” it. Sigh.

Now, as you (my regular readers) know, I’m certainly not one to shy away from fat. New readers, My original by line was “real dietitians eat butter”. However, I also subscribe to the school of thought that says too much of anything is bad for you. Be it fat, salt, sugar, or carrots. You can have too much of a good thing. According to Trudi, saturated fat is the key. While it’s become widely accepted that saturated fat is not the demon it was once believed to be, that doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly a dietary super hero.

Trudi claims that her diet is 82% fat, and she’s never felt healthier. She alleges that high-carb diets are fuelling the obesity epidemic. The gist is that low-fat was wrong so low-carb must be right. Why do we have to go from one extreme to another? I’ll say the same thing about this that I said about demonizing sugar: blaming one nutrient for obesity or chronic disease isn’t getting us anywhere. These are complex problems that aren’t going to be remedied with simple solutions.

This 82% fat has me curious though. What would a diet that’s 82% fat look like? According to Trudi:

BREAKFAST: Three eggs cooked in the microwave with butter and cheese, like a souffle, served with oily fish – smoked salmon or mackerel – or avocado.

LUNCH:A bowl of berries with double cream or a homemade walnut scone, made with ground almonds rather than flour, served with double cream

DINNER: Meat or fish with a serving of vegetables cooked in butter 

Just for fun, I entered this meal plan into my fitness pal to find out the breakdown. Obviously without quantities, it’s near impossible to say exactly what caloric and macronutrient totals would look like. Based on one serving of each of the items listed above, I would only be consuming 995 kcal, and fat would account for roughly 40% of these. If Trudi’s diet is being accurately reported, she’s obviously consuming greater quantities than I recorded, particularly of the high-fat foods. Regardless, it doesn’t sounds overly appealing to me. I’d rather be a few pounds heavier and die a couple of years earlier than never have cereal for breakfast, never snack, and put butter on everything (as much as I love butter).

While Trudi may be content with this restrictive diet for now, it will be interesting to see what will happen with time. Most people following low-carb diets find them to be extremely difficult to follow over the long-term and usually relinquish them. Aside from the difficulty adhering to these low-carb, high-fat diets, there are other risk factors to consider.

Children with epililepsy following ketogenic diets provide us with some insight into the long term effects of a ketogenic diet. A study of children following a ketogenic diet found that poor growth was common. Other side effects were kidney stones and bone fractures.

There’s some other misinformation in the article. Trudi states that she consumes 30 grams of protein at breakfast because “your body doesn’t store it.” Um… I don’t know where this is coming from. While 30 calories at breakfast is certainly reasonable, excess calories, regardless of macronutrient, will be stored as fat.

The unfortunate thing about most weight management research is that “long term” equals several months to a year. While someone might experience weight loss, and find a high-fat diet relatively easy to adhere to for a few months, years, or a lifetime, are a far different story. Trudi’s been following this diet for less than year. Let’s see the tune she’s singing in a decade. Until then, you might want to take her high-fat diet with a grain of salt, or better yet, a baked potato.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

8 thoughts on “I guess some RDs are sexy

  1. I too am following a ketogenic diet and find that I have more energy than ever! Recent research suggests that the low carb diets of the past had difficulty maintaining because they were eating too much protein and not enough healthy fat. Excess protein is stored as fat, as Trudi suggested. While I am not a dietician or physician, I have been doing a lot of research about this diet, before committing myself to it. The assumption that kidney stones are more prevalent in those on a low carb diet, is somewhat faulty, in that there is only one study that suggests a relationship, and this study did not account for metabolic syndrome, obesity and previous history of stones, which are known precursors to getting kidney stones. Also, there is more evidence that high soda consumption can be the culprit than there is for low carb diets. Sadly, healthy fats have gotten a bad reputation, in the past few years. Many companies have replaced fat with sugar and too many of us thought we have been eating healthy, while ingesting more and more carbohydrates, while adding pounds and inches.

    You are right in your assertion that this diet has not been studied over the long term, however, many people in Europe, in particular are having great success with this diet. I for one, feel great on it and honestly, I have lost 9 pounds in 1 week, have not craved sugar (except Mountain Dew, which was a staple in my diet). In the book keto clarity, many nutritionists and physicians alike have found that a ketogenic diet is more effective than anything else they have tried or prescribed.

    I cannot tell you, what the long term results of this diet will be for me or anyone else. But, I can tell you that cutting out carbohydrates, particularly those in processed foods cannot be a bad thing. I have increased my intake of vegetables and Omega-3s, neither of which can be considered a bad thing. I have more energy than before the diet and I feel satiated most days without snacking. I am getting enough carbohydrates from my vegetables, without eating additional sugar.

    All I can say is, just as you suggested, the long term effects are unknown, but for some of us, it is giving us hope, making us feel better, having more energy and we are actually eating healthy, aside from missing out on some carbs. Let us have our hope, let us feel better about ourselves. Once we lose weight, we can maintain our weight if we still do not add all the processed food back in. I appreciate your “side” of the issue and understand you are sticking by what education has taught you. I for one can tell you, that I have been taught fat is bad and have been eating accordingly for years, while packing on the pounds. I am hopeful this diet will work for me and the many others that are trying it. People once thought the earth was flat and that we would never walk on the moon, that doesn’t make it true.

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    • I’m not trying to “take it away from you”. If a high-fat diet works for you, that’s great. However, no dietitian should be promoting one diet as the be all and end all for everyone. This diet would not work for everyone, and the 82% fat stat is incredibly high. To profit from pushing a diet without a sound scientific backing is wrong.

      As you mentioned, my concerns with a high-fat low-carb diet are that we don’t know the long term effects, for most people these diets are extremely difficult to adhere to, and there are some potential health cautions that people should be aware of. Fat is an important macronutrient. However, I don’t think that this means that it should replace nearly all carbs and much protein.

      One of my biggest concerns is that if people find this diet impossible to stick with in the long term that they will revert to, or switch to, another extreme, rather than adopting a balanced moderate diet.

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  2. I was curious about the 80% fat intake too – seems quite difficult to consistently achieve this level.

    I know everyone under-reports to a degree, dieticians are not immune to this and people tend to under-report macros which have a stigma attached to them (like fat).

    Could this be the opposite effect? – now fats are ‘healthy’ in her opinion she is over-reporting on how much she is drinking from the fountain of youth.

    Or maybe it was just a way of getting a free advert in the Daily Fail!

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  3. Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m a RD in the States and it’s so relieving to see that someone else is calling ideas like this questionable too. Even within the realm of Registered Dietitians I feel like there are some questionable judgment calls and this is definitely one of them. I’m loving reading your posts so far! Write on! ;)

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  4. Pingback: In Other’s Words | xoPrincessTina

  5. I had a go at her menu and got to 1555 calories with 75% from fat. Doesn’t seem a mile off. 80 grams of protein and 20g of carbs gives 400 cals so for the fat to be 80% requires 2000 cals total.

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