The Fat Summit: A Perfect Example of Misleading Science

Recently I came across The Fat Summit, an online summit led by Dr. Mark Hyman with one explicit purpose: to deliver what he claims to be the “truth” about fat.

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Now I’ll be honest when I say that I’ve been a fan of Dr. Hyman over the past few years, and I consider him to be a very intelligent nutritionist and doctor. But recently he has been pushing the consumption of nearly unlimited quantities of fat and cholesterol, and I can’t help but be skeptical of his underlying motive in hosting the Fat Summit.

Here are some misleading statements that Dr. Hyman makes in his Fat Summit promotional videos:

Misleading statement #1: “Carbs get stored as fat in your body.”

I can’t stand it when people make this statement because it’s technically incorrect.

Carbohydrates only get stored as fat in a few circumstances:

  • When carbohydrates are consumed in large excess (thousands of excess calories) (1)
  • When carbohydrates are eaten in the form of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners (2–8)

Carbohydrates do NOT get stored as fat in these circumstances:

  • When the carbohydrates are accompanied by fiber
  • When the carbohydrates are components of a whole food like fruits or vegetables

Studies have shown that in humans, this process of carbohydrate -> fat conversion produces a large amount of waste heat, which some animals use to thermoregulate. Humans have many redundant mechanisms to maintain core temperature, so over the course of evolution, we have selected against the need to convert the carbohydrate -> fat conversion.

In other words, converting carbohydrates to fat creates waste heat, and insects and small animals do it WAY more efficiently than humans (9–11). So while we technically do convert carbohydrate -> fat, we are terribly inefficient at it, and it should not be considered a significant effect of eating carbohydrates at all.

Misleading statement #2: “The more sugar you eat, the more insulin resistant you become.”

Nobody will argue that refined sugar is bad for you. It’s time for us to stop making these statements, because it has been clearly documented that sugar is terrible for your health.

While it is true that refined sugar causes insulin resistance, the effect of fat on insulin resistance is much more pronounced. Trust me when I say that the fat-insulin resistance connection is incredibly strong, and is the cornerstone of my individual and group coaching programs.

Dr. Hyman is urging you to eat more fat, and to stop worrying about whether that fat is saturated or unsaturated. In my humble opinion, this is unethical. Why? Because there are hundreds of studies that have clearly shown that eating fat – especially saturated fat – is the most potent cause of insulin resistance, more so than refined sugar.

Don’t believe me? Here are just a few studies that investigate this fat-insulin resistance connection:

  • Saturated fatty acid-induced insulin resistance is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in skeletal muscle cells (12)
  • Muscle insulin resistance: assault by lipids, cytokines and local macrophages (13)
  • Higher glucose concentrations following protein- and fat-rich meals – the Tuebingen Grill Study: a pilot study in adolescents with type 1 diabetes (14)
  • Free fatty acids in obesity and type 2 diabetes: defining their role in the development of insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction (15)
  • Mechanism of free fatty acid-induced insulin resistance in humans (16)
  • How free fatty acids inhibit glucose utilization in human skeletal muscle (17)
  • Both dietary protein and fat increase postprandial glucose excursions in children with type 1 diabetes, and the effect is additive (18)
  • Fatty acid-induced inflammation and insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and liver (19)
  • Free fatty acids and insulin resistance (20)
  • Free fatty acid-induced insulin resistance is associated with activation of protein kinase C theta and alterations in the insulin signaling cascade (21)
  • Mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle insulin resistance induced by fatty acids: importance of the mitochondrial function (22)
  • Disordered Lipid Metabolism and the Pathogenesis of Insulin Resistance (23)
  • Cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance (24)
  • Impairment of Glucose Tolerance in Normal Adults Following a Lowered Carbohydrate Intake (25)
  • Mechanism by which fatty acids inhibit insulin activation of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1)-associated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in muscle (26)
  • Time-course effects of physiological free fatty acid surges on insulin sensitivity in humans (27)
  • Time-dependent effects of fatty acids on skeletal muscle metabolism (28)

There are so many studies that show the strong connection between fat and insulin resistance, it drives me crazy when prominent researchers such as Dr. Hyman pretend that fat is benign.

Misleading statement #3: “The saturated fat in your diet has no effect on the saturated fat in your blood.”

Again, exonerating the effect of saturated fatty acids on heart disease is ridiculous and unethical. Nutritionists in the high-fat world will make you believe that you can eat as much saturated fat as you want, and that it will not increase your risk of heart disease, even though this is a patently false statement. We know that this statement is false for a number of reasons.

First, vegan vegetarian diets low or devoid of saturated fatty acids reduce your risk for heart disease significantly (29–34).

Why? Because the less saturated fat that you eat, the better your cardiovascular health. Period.

Secondly, studies have clearly shown that an increased intake of saturated fat from animal products is associated with increased inflammation and worsening cardiovascular risk (35–38).

To make a claim that there is no connection between the saturated fat in your diet and your risk for heart disease is as misleading of a statement as I’ve heard in years.

Misleading statement #4: “High fat diets outperform low fat diets for weight loss.”

Again, this statement is horrendously confusing. Why? It’s simple. The “low fat diets” that they compare against high fat diets are not truly low fat diets.

  • Their definition of a low fat diet: 30% of calories from fat.
  • The correct definition of a low fat diet: less than 15% of calories from fat.
  • The Mangoman definition of a low fat diet: less than 30 grams of fat per day. No exceptions.

If you compare a diet containing 50% calories from fat vs. a diet containing 30% calories from fat, then yes, a high fat diet will outperform a “low fat” diet every time. But since a diet containing 30% calories from fat is technically considered a medium fat diet, then this comparison is…bogus.

If you compare a truly low fat diet containing less than 15% calories from fat (or 30 grams per day), then a low fat diet will outperform a high fat diet for weight loss every time. It’s just that simple.

It is the exact reason why many of my clients make the statement, “I’ve been trying to get these last 5-10 pounds off for years, and nothing has worked. On a truly low fat diet, it just fell off of me.”

It’s what allows for weight loss results like this on a regular basis:

lose-weight

 

So what can you do about this?

The best thing you can do is attend The Fat Summit and convince yourself that there is a vested interest behind this message. Convince yourself that you either believe in what is being said or that you think the science is misleading (like me). To sign up, simply click on this link or this image:

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And you will have the opportunity to sign up. The summit takes place between January 25-February 1, and I guarantee you it will be a learning experience.

So comment below and tell me what you think of this information. I know that fat is a polarizing issue, so share your true comments below and let’s get this discussion underway.

References

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About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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