> Saturated Fats – The Conflicting Studies!

I am reading “Living Low Carb”, Revised Edition by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS.  It has provided me with a a broad overview of the topic and a synopsis of the many different Low Carb and related diets out on the market.   It also provides a bit of the science behind the entire subject.

One of the areas that has consistently confused me and is raised over and over again on the forums, are the studies that have shown the negative effects of eating saturated fats.  I believe that I finally have an understanding of where the conflict rests.  Rather than paraphrasing what Bowden wrote, let me quote from page 276:

“First, there’s more and more evidence that saturated fat has a profoundly different fate in the body when it’s consumed in the context of a very-low-carb diet.  This is a critically important point, one that has been made by a number of researchers, notably Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, of the University of Connecticut, who has done some of the most extensive and comprehensive research on low-carb diets.  ‘Saturated fat is relatively passive,’ Volek told me.  ‘[The thing that] controls what happens with saturated fat in the diet is the carb content of the diet.  If carbs are low, insulin is low and saturated fat is handled more efficiently.  It’s burned as a fuel.

‘In contrast,’ he continued, ‘when carbs are high, insulin is high.  Then you’re inhibiting the burning of saturated fat and potentially making a lot more of it, so you tend to see harmful atherogenic effects.”

Bowden goes on to quote Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc., a nutritional scientist.

“So why do so many studies seem to show negative health effects of saturated fat intake?  ‘All those studies are in the context of mixed diets,’ Heimowitz explained. ‘When you’re on a high-carb diet, your saturated fat should probably be exactly what’s recommended – no more than 10% of total calories, 1/2 of your fat.  But when you’re on a very low-carb diet, it’s a whole different story.”

And that says it all – the studies are NOT controlled for the amount of Carbs in the diet – only the amount of Saturated fats.

Edit: March 16, 2010

Volek’s Article published in August 2005 in Nutrition and Metabolism was entitled “The case for not restricting saturated fat on a low carbohydrate diet.”  It has a number of links to various studies and articles.

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