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A low carb high fat diet can be lower in fat than a standard American diet


As I have mentioned in previous posts – Some of the work I’ve done has been for diet related documentaries. In the last few years I carried out research for the Nigel Latta presented programme called “Is Sugar the New Fat?” and more recently “Why Are We Fat?” presented by Chef Simon Gault.

For the most recent programme I talked to numerous experts around the globe, too many to interview for the programme. One of those was Professor Popkin in the USA. He wrote a book called “The World is Fat“.

Like other researchers (especially those of the low carb persuasion) he notes that there is an increase in refined starches and sugars in our diet. However a third ingredient has increased in amount more than sugar and starch, one that is often ignored by those who put the blame solely on carbohydrates and sugars.

That ingredient is seed oil. If we take a look at this graph you can see just how much one seed oil; soy bean in the USA has increased:

(Chart by National Institutes of Health)

It is not only the USA that has had an increase in seed oils:

India (source):

China (from Barry Popkin powerpoint)

And here is a graph of the increase in fat in different regions of the world

Lets compare this to the rise in world obesity (OECD)


If you take a look at the next charts – you will see that the increase in added fats in the American diet over 40 years is greater than the increase in flour and cereal products.

And the same info shown in a different format (source)


Why are we ignoring this huge increase in added oils? It is a worldwide phenomenon.

Popkin notes a large increase in the amount of deep fried food in the American diet, and as well, like hidden sugar, added fat is ‘hidden’ in multiple foods – French fries, donuts, cookies, toasted cereals, snack bars,  muffins, deep fried food (especially battered or breaded with soaks up oil), in mayonnaise, in Chinese stirfries, in starchy snack food in packets like chips and Cheezels.

In China, this graph which shows the shift in dietary patterns in China shows clearly the increase in foods that have been deep fried compared to traditional cooking. (Dietary Pattern during 1991–2011 and Its Association with Cardio Metabolic Risks in Chinese Adults: The China Health and Nutrition Survey)

If you change your diet from a standard Western or American diet (SAD) to a low carb high (or healthy) fat diet LCHF, what actually happens?

I thought I’d put a typical fast food diet into cronometer.com and compare it with a fairly typical low carb diet. I took 2000 kcalories a day an aim, to check nutrient intake against. Protein minumum is 0.8g per kg (assuming an average person of 70kg, this is 56g per day) Take a look at the results yourself. The SAD diet is higher in fat, even though there is no obvious added fat.

The other thing you will notice is that despite eating more food items, the LCHF diet is fewer calories and more volume – the fluid volume is 1050 compared to 530mls. The fibre is obviously higher. The protein content is double – this has a big impact on satiety. Plus, the nutrient content is higher.

Think about what foods people remove from their diet when they switch to low carb one – all the foods that are actually combinations of starch, sugars and oils. It is not only carbohydrates they remove it is large amounts of added and hidden oil in those carbohydrates – donuts, cookies, French fries, deep fried and fried foods, mayonnaise on burgers, chocolate, icecream, butter on bread, etc.


Compare this to the LCHF diet – larger number of foods, larger volume of food, lower in total fat and signficantly lower in calories.




  1. Gosh, do people have this kind of fast food diet? We go to Denny’s sometimes and see people tucking in to curly fries and oreo shakes so I suppose they do. We have pan-fried fish and steamed vegies there. It’s the only thing I’d consider eating there – they don’t kick you out late at Denny’s.

  2. If you look at stats that go back to 1864 (e.g. https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4XOdPmTumV8/V2K0CMtBXpI/AAAAAAAABog/fusQizsMgiAI9O6wUyoPIg_rK6ojvsuMgCLcB/s640/Men%2527s%2BBMI%2Bby%2BAge%2BGroup%2Bin%2Bthe%2BUS%252C%2B1864-2009.jpg ), Americans started to gain weight after ~1945 and the rate of weight increase *reduced* between ~1960 and ~1990.

    So, although soy(a) oil consumption dramatically increased after 1967, it didn’t have much effect on BMI, suggesting that something else dramatically decreased at the same time (animal fat, perhaps?).

    Obesity % data is misleading, as a widening of the BMI distribution histogram increases obesity % for constant BMI.

  3. Interesting, but you do have to be careful about a few things. Soy production has increased largely to make soy meal to feed animals for meat production (about 97% of use). About one-third of the oil goes to fuel production, not food.
    In addition, you shift from oil to deep frying and packaged rte foods, which more and more people avoid. Using oil to grease a pan for light frying is very different from deep frying for 15 hours.

    • Thanks for those points. My point still stands though – that edible oils have increased in the food supply more than carbohydrates. I think knowledgeable people avoid deep fried food, however potato chip / French fries and donuts show no signs of slowing sales.

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