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Review of the Pritikin Edge

Do low fat diets work?  In spite of what you may have read, they are generally incredibly successful if done correctly and many of the healthiest cultures in the world consume them.  I cannot tell you the number of times that I have read that low fat diets are evil since their backbone is carbs and thus they will cause prediabetes and diabetes.  In reality, the results are the exact opposite according to this book co-authored by the Chief Medical Officer of the Pritkin Institute, a cardiologist named Dr. Robert Vogel.  His experience is that men and women entering the Pritikin Institute, a low fat-based medical clinic experience the following:

--74% of Type II diabetics get off of their oral medications

--44% of Type II diabetics get completely off of insulin

--83% of those with hypertension completely normalize their blood pressure.  (And high blood pressure is one of the hallmark symptoms of the prediabetic state called Metabolic Syndrome.)

In other words, the realities of a well-done Low Fat Diet are the exact opposite of what you have (likely) read.  The keys are outlined in this book and, of course, include using healthy carbs, fats and proteins.  For those of you who, like me, got tired of consuming mountains of industrial meat, eggs and dairy, this is great news! 

 

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(NOTE:  The great majority of men who try low fat do not use whole foods and fail miserably.  You can't eat a bunch of wheat and white rice and dried fruit and call that low fat.)

 So why would a man want to go on a low fat diet?  Well, there are many, many reasons and I outline a dozen of them here:  The Incredible Benefits of a Low Fat Diet. But Dr. Vogel hammers home some of the key ones in the book, which I mention below:

 

1. He hammers home the point over and over that low fat diets maximize blood flow.  And I don't know any guy that can argue with blood flow.  He also makes many great points about maximizing nitric oxide.

2. He hammers home the point that no diet lowers inflammation like a properly done low fat diet.  And, we all know that  Inflammation is the Root of Evil

3. He has a very realistic approach toward low fat diets that many men would feel comfortable with, such as recommending fat levels at 15-20% of total calories in order to displace some carbohydrates in the diet and yet still good arterial outcomes.  (This is about the level of the elite supercultures in John Robbins' Healthy at 100.

Most men think of low fat diets as completely vegan.  It is true that some of the leaders are squarely in that camp, such as Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Barnard.  However, Pritikin himself and now Dr. Vogel clearly allow some meat, especially if it is healthy and low fat.  One of the best sections in the book may be a table of different types of fish that are low mercury and these include herring, mackerel, mussels, oysters, salmon, sardines, trout, sole/flounder and trout.  And he actually recommends these fish up to one serving daily. 

This is the highest amount of fish that I have seen recommended from an expert, but, of course, it depends on getting the low mercury versions.  Many types of fish have up to 20-30 times the amount of mercury in the above fish. 

Other great tips and info in the book include:

--It is the diterpenes in coffee that increase LDL.  (I had always wondered why decaffeinated coffee increased LDL.)

--I often hear the argument that fat has decreased in the American Diet and yet chronic disease has only gotten worse, therefore fat is not the issue.  However, Dr. Vogel points out that while the percentage of fat has gone down a little in the last few decades, calories have gone up so much that total fat has actually increased.  Thus, the argument is completely misleading.

--He emphasizes the calories per pound of food as being what really counts in the battle against obesity.  Let's take the case of bananas, which get some criticism from class Paleo and Low Carb folks for being too "sugary."  One banana is 420 calories per pound.  However, industrial beef is 1,235 calories per pound!

Weight loss, healthy fats and carbs, tips on how to get protein and a bunch of great arterial information - this book is a must read for any man's health library.

 

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