Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Greatest & Best Diet in the World (Tribute)

Britain's ITV station has been running a two part 'Tonight' special titled "The World's Best Diet". the goal of the diets was to:
  • "...see which one generated the greatest benefit to health based on common markers of good health, such as cholesterol levels, liver function tests, and body mass index"
The diets were followed be several fat 'celebrities' and can broadly be categorised thus:
  1. Japanese (lots of sushi and vegetables)
  2. British (traditional 1950's meat & two veg)
  3. Mediterranean (Italian pasta, heavy on fish and vegetables)
  4. Indian (vegetarian curries made from rice and vegetables)
  5. US (low-carb - meat and vegetables)

You will notice all of them are heavy on the vegetables/plant bits. You will notice that a few of them are heavy on the meat. You will also notice that although two of them feature rice and one of them features pasta, they are all light, in general, on sugar, bread, cereals, pastries, fizzy drinks and other processed foods.

Winner Doesn't Take it All

So which diet won? Which one led to the greatest weight loss. Well the diet that did least well was the Indian, vegetarian diet. The 'shleb following that diet lost 2lbs in six weeks. Ha, ha, ha! the diet that was most effective in terms of weight loss was the US, Low-Carb diet!

....only it didn't win. The 'blurb' on the link above states,

  • "Overall, the Mediterranean-STYLE of eating came out best – not only for correcting cholesterol, boosting vitamin D and improving cholesterol profile, but also for helping Darren lose a phenomenal amount of weight, keeping fit in the process. "

In reality the person following the LC diet (Caroline Malone), lost MOST weight - only a bit more, but more nevertheless. The big downside for the LC diet was the fact that Malone's LDL had risen. Some (obese) dietician from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) opined that her LDL had gone up.

Ooooo scary! Yep, having been told for years that "CHOLESTEROL IS BAD", we are now getting the subtler message that "HDL IS GOOD, LDL IS BAD". Give it a few more years and 'they' will cotton on to the fact that LDL is comprised of two subtypes, one of which is harmful and the other beneficial. Guess which subtype an LC diet raises?

Furthermore we do not know whether Malone's LDL was measure directly (I suspect not), or inferred from the limited Friedwald equation. Both Stephan and Mike Eades have superb posts on this very topic.

But that is not all. "Fatty" from the BNF went on to tell us that the LC is not sustainable...because erm, well it just isn't. In fact her argument as to why the LC diet is NOT sustainable can be summarised thus:

  • ""

Hang on a minute, let me bold that for you so you can see the crux of her argument:

  • ""

Erm...hang on a minute, let me number the main points for you...


You see, just as the religious have recourse to the Courtiers Reply under which they shelter from the rationalism and logic of atheism, nutritionists and dietitians have their equivalent. LC is the elephant in the room.

The BNF keep repeating negative speculation about LC that is damaging and misleading. I am sure Fatty mentioned a 'lack of energy' from a LC diet (odd that I and other have found intermittent fasting was made possible by an LC diet), and it was most definitely mentioned that LC was 'not sustainable in the long term' because erm, err, erm.... er - no reason!

I am sick of these (frequently obese) 'advisors' appearing in the media to repeat their rather dated ideas about nutrition. If the BNF or British Dietetics Association's advice was any good, few of their advisors would be fat. I would love to see the weight of their staff plotted over time! They didn't follow the science, they pushed their own agenda. Mediterranean diet my arse. Give me some fatty animal flesh and seasonal vegetables any time!

Rant over.

(Posted by Asclepius - Last bodpodded at 10.3% BF and who eats when hungry and until full and never does 'cardio')


Paul said...

I'm going to have to stop watching this kind of BS TV for fear of putting the remote through my new TV!! They didn't really state exactly what the LC diet was but from what I could see she wasn't sticking to LC. Snacking on Mango!! I liked the example Med diet plate they showed at the end, fish and veg (do I hear LC anyone?)

Alexandra said...

Love this post :)

Asclepius said...

Paul - yeah I was going to go in to the point about when they did the talking heads bit at the end, when praising Darren Gough's Italian diet, they intercut a picture of an Italian meal with apparently ZERO pasta, just meat/fish and veg!

I noticed with the Japanese meals over the course of the two episodes, that rice only seemed to occupy about 25% of the plate - the rest was meat/fish and veg.

It even occured to me when watching this program that English food is often ridiculed as consisting of 'meat and two veg'. What a perfect paleo profile!

Compare this to modern nutritional advice where they seem to think that the grains, bread, rice and pasta should occupy a third of your plate. Whats more they make an allowance for a proportion of sugary foods, put juices in amongst the 'vegetables and salad' and beans in amongst the protein.

That adds up to a whole lot of 'allowable' foods destined to hurt us (http://www.food.gov.uk/images/pagefurniture/eatwellplatelarge.jpg).

The Tonight program proved one thing. That was that the Indian diet, the one with the most obvious presence of starchy food, resulted in the poorest weight loss (2lbs over six weeks IIRC).

Baise Moi!

Methuselah said...

Asclepius - always a pleasure to see you in full sarcastic swing. I stopped watching things like this. It was costing me too much in TVs.

Paul - I am guessing you are the same Paul who mentioned this program in the comments on my blog - I just posted a reply pointing you to this post, then realised when I saw your comment (if it is you) that you had already visited!

Asclepius said...

Methuselah - yeah I should also avoid these kind of programs but when I discuss nutrition with people they often say "Well I saw a program on TV and they said 'Atkins Bad'!"

Having watched the program, I am able to respond something along the lines of "Yes I know it did. But WHAT was actually bad about it?". At which point they have to respond with the Courtiers Reply! ;)

By the same token, I can point out to others that the only reason supposedly credible institutions like the BDA and BNF are against an Atkins style diet is because, despite the research, it is, according to them "bad".

Asclepius said...

AT22 - Cheers!