In February 2018, a study from Stanford University¹ provided continued evidence that when it comes to weight loss, high-fat, and high-carbohydrate diets are the same when they offer the same amount of protein and are made up largely of real, whole, healthy food. As I wrote about the findings of the study here, it became apparent that, besides weight loss, the study also shows evidence that the lower-fat diets were healthier because of the higher fiber and lower LDL blood values that the lower-fat participants ended up with.
There’s much confusion around which diet is best,
mainly because of the unlimited sources in the media pushing us to be on one diet or another.
But, an entrepreneur needs to choose her diet wisely.
We can’t afford to have a diet that derails our energy or jeopardize our productivity. We need food that will sustain us, optimize our mental and physical energy, and help us to perform, look and feel our best while we go on impacting and improving the world.
We need to protect our most valuable assets,
two of which are time and mental energy. We can’t afford to waste them on diets or weight-loss programs that work only for the short term.
From my experience working with executives and entrepreneurs
over the last twenty years, it’s not about the whole grains, or the corn on the cob, or even the bananas that are the problem. It’s the“cake” for breakfast (something made of processed flour with heaps of sugar) with a high-calorie coffee, a salad (or nothing) for lunch, another high-sugar drink as a hold-over til dinner, and then take-out pizza, Chinese food, or a frozen meal for dinner. On the weekends, there’s usually more variety but not better—mostly more chips, pizza, wings, more dessert, and more alcohol.
Proponents of a high-fat fad will say
the diet that nutritionists, professors, and government agencies have been recommending isn’t working. So, we should swing in the opposite direction and instead of eating 50-60 percent of our calories from carbohydrates, we should be eating 50-90 percent of our calories from fat.
But, it’s not true that the guidelines aren’t working. We’re just not following them.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines committee said it best in a nutshell:²
- The US population as a whole does not meet recommendations for vegetables, fruit, dairy, or whole grains, and hasn’t done so for years.
- We eat too much sodium and saturated fat, refined grains, solid fats, and added sugar.
- We don’t get enough vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium (all nutrients we obtain from food in the first bullet above).
While it is true that the majority of nutrition science professionals recommend
50-60 percent of calories in a diet come from carbohydrates, carbs are not only sugar, pizza, white bread, pretzels, French fries, and potato chips.
Carbohydrates include all of the healthy, fiber-filled, nutrient-rich, antioxidant-packed plant foods—from ancient grains to fruit, vegetables, and legumes. It’s these foods that need to make up the majority of our diet. It’s also these foods that will aid in a healthy gut microbiome and, as it appears, will also keep our brains working optimally.
So, the vast majority of evidence points to:
- Those who eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains reduce their risk for preventable disease and live healthier, longer, and stronger life.
- The more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we eat (from plant foods), the better our body and our brain will work now and for the long term.
- Both high-fat and high-sugar diets show connections to brain-damaging effects.³,4
We need to start to get it right
on how to make healthy choices and eat whole, real foods instead of focusing on one macronutrient being “in or out” of vogue. If we don’t get this right, in ten or twenty years we’ll have a whole different health problem on our hands because we will have swung from high-sugar to high-fat diets, mostly junk.
Moderation and healthy choices in every food group win every time. It’s most beneficial when you know you can be in any country, at any table, and successfully choose the foods that will sustain your optimal mind and body.
As busy women, we need not be asking “Which diet is better?”
Rather, we need to foster healthier habits that produce better brain power, more energy, and a higher quality of life.
Please share in the comments.
1. Foster, Gary D., et al. “A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 348, no. 21, 2003, pp. 2082–2090., doi:10.1056/nejmoa022207.
2. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf
3. Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity. Bruce-Keller, Annadora J. et al. Biological Psychiatry, Volume 77, Issue 7, 607-615
4. MindBodyGreen Health: Are Carbs Bad for Your Brain? A Neuroscientist Explains. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/are-carbs-bad-for-your-brain
Luci Gabel- MA, MBA, ACE, ACSM – Exercise Physiologist, nutritionist, content manager and owner of LuciFit, LLC.
Luci helps clients and students drop the fads, sort out the myths from reality, and understand food and fitness in a way that works for their body, and for life. She has over 20 years of experience working with a wide range of clients, from professional athletes to the business savvy woman. You can count on Luci to be your truth-teller, and your myth dispeller when it comes to mass media information about food and exercise. And she’ll always be a cheerleader on your side!