What am I doing to be able to say this to patients?
Simple: showing them how to take control of their health through eating foods low in carbs and high in fats. Unfortunately, articles like the one by Dr. Christopher Labos published earlier this month (“Little difference between low-carb and low-fat diets,” Opinion, Aug. 9) may give readers the impression that low carb, or ketogenic diets, are just another fad.
The reality is that a low-carb lifestyle is so much more than a diet. Yes, of course it is a wonderful way to lose weight, but even more important than that, it is a robust tool in our arsenal against a plethora of medical conditions. It has a tremendous implication in treating diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, epilepsy and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, to name a few. Over the past few years, we’ve seen emerging evidence about the connection between glucose and Alzheimer’s disease, which some are now referring to as Type 3 Diabetes.
It is well documented that this is a great way to lose weight, and the weight loss is sustainable. The Public Health Collaboration, an organization devoted to informing the public on how to make better choices for a healthier lifestyle, compares randomized controlled trials of low carb versus low fat for weight loss. While the studies are of varying durations and methods, of the 57 studies listed, 48 of them are in favour of a low carb diet. When you look at the studies more carefully, the overwhelming majority conclude that glucose control and cholesterol panels improve significantly more on a low-carb diet than they do on a low fat one.
It isn’t just an academic exercise; I see these results in my practice every day.
No matter how you slice it, we are in an epidemic. Obesity rates in the United States have tripled in just one generation, and rates of diabetes have skyrocketed as well. This is showing no signs of slowing down. Changing the way we go about food is imperative if we have any hopes of turning a corner. A low-carb diet is an easy (yes, really!), safe and effective way to lose weight and reverse Type 2 diabetes, improve blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
I say this not only as a physician — I speak from personal experience. Because of these diets, the better part of my 20s was spent being “hangry,” and despite that, the weight continued to creep up. Thanks to a group of Canadian physicians, I was pointed in the direction of a low-carb diet, and I can say without a doubt that it has changed my life. I look better, I feel better, and I’m healthier now than I ever was before.
If my N of 1 is not convincing — that is, if one person’s experience may not be thought to prove anything — all you need to do is to look at my patients who have not only lost significant amounts of weight, but reversed their diabetes, and it becomes clear that conventional low fat diets are not the way to go. Every day I see my patients improve their health, decrease or stop many of their medications all because they said goodbye to the carbs.
Plus, bacon is delicious.
Elyssa Elman, MDCM, CCFP is a family physician and medical director at Nutria Clinic in Westmount.