Overrated: Low-fat food can make you ...fat


Women about my age, in their 30s and 40s, will (I am sure) remember college, when most of us ate a diet consisting of Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, skim milk, and pasta with the barest sprinkling of low-fat mozzarella and maybe a pat of margarine. And lots, and lots of salad, dressing on the side. Then came Snackwells and for a time we gorged ourselves on low-fat high-preservative cookies. Just thinking about my Snackwells and Baked Lays binges gives me a headache.

After a while, I gave up the low-fat lifestyle as gimmicky -- how could the delicious things humans have been eating since time immemorial be bad for you? I wondered -- and began to embrace whole foods, real butter, and the occasional doppio (a latte made with half-and-half, yum). And then I bought In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and my mind was blown. In the book, he cites significant evidence that low-fat diets don't contribute in the least to weight loss or reduction in heart disease; to the contrary, diets low in animal fats and high in refined flours and sugars (read: the contents of my dorm kitchen) could be the cause of dietary diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The real mind-blower is that low-fat diets can make you fat.

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Well knock me over with a rice cake! I couldn't be happier and continued to read up on the concept of eating good old-fashioned unprocessed animal fats -- raw milk, cultured butter, whole-milk yogurt, lard from sustainably-raised pigs, ground beef and roasts and steak from grass-fed beef, truly free-range chicken (the skin too!), real sour cream -- and started living my life the full-fat way.