Bottom line from new food study: Avoid processed foods

It’s no secret at this point that you can pretty much find a food/diet study to match whatever you want to eat.

How else to explain that Paleo diet, amirite?

There’s a new study out, and it has a few things going for it in terms of the people it studied and its length, but mostly it has going for it this bottom line: avoid processed foods.

I like that because it’s pretty much our food mantra here.

More generally, it found that people who were on a low-carb diet, with less worry about fat intake, lost more weight than others on a low-fat diet. Of particular note, I think: The low-fat diet people lost lean muscle, never a good thing.

You can find a link to the study here. Or you can do what I do, and let the smarty at the New York Times explain it to you:

The high-fat group followed something of a modified Atkins diet. They were told to eat mostly protein and fat, and to choose foods with primarily unsaturated fats, like fish, olive oil and nuts. But they were allowed to eat foods higher in saturated fat as well, including cheese and red meat.

A typical day’s diet was not onerous: It might consist of eggs for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, and some kind of protein for dinner — like red meat, chicken, fish, pork or tofu — along with vegetables. Low-carb participants were encouraged to cook with olive and canola oils, but butter was allowed, too.


The low-fat group included more grains, cereals and starches in their diet. They reduced their total fat intake to less than 30 percent of their daily calories, which is in line with the federal government’s dietary guidelines. The other group increased their total fat intake to more than 40 percent of daily calories.

Both groups were encouraged to eat vegetables, and the low-carbohydrate group was told that eating some beans and fresh fruit was fine as well.

The Times story suggests, as I do above, that this study isn’t going to put anything to rest. But most of the latest studies are suggesting that the fear of fat that began in the 1960s and ’70s (creating such wonderful things as margarines and low-fat sweets) is really off-base. (An alternative take on it is here from the LA Times.)

I especially like this summation from the Times: “Dr. Mozaffarian said the research suggested that health authorities should pivot away from fat restrictions and encourage people to eat fewer processed foods, particularly those with refined carbohydrates.”

Eat real food, in other words.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Bottom line from new food study: Avoid processed foods”

  1. Eating unprocessed whole foods is the way. Ideally organic, local, seasonal and including wild foods. As for the refined carbohydrate – let’s be clear about what is being culpabiilsed. It is the combination of refined and denatured carbohydrates AND fats ie refined plant oils that create hyper-palatability, bypass satiety and stimulate dopamine release in the brain – creating neural pathways of addiction. It is helpful to clarify this, to balance the carb-phobia rampant in many minds.

    Natural complex starches such as tubers and whole, intact grains are in a different category. See the work of Doug Lisle – Pleasure Trap for the psychology of why we can’t get enough of processed food, and then Alan Goldhamer who explains how to quit the cycle. Particularly for yogis, such non-foods create excess of ama and tamas in the koshas and lead to sickness. Blessings of health OM.

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