May 20, 2014

Fat Tuesday: The Big Fat Surprise Preview

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to recommend a book I haven’t even read yet. The reason I feel confident recommending this book is because it has received out-freaking standing reviews from several people whose opinions I highly respect and trust when it comes to nutrition. And not just “nutrition” with a little n, but rather the big, bad, mamma-jamma, capital-N, Nutrition. The kind of nutrition that isn’t only about what we should and shouldn’t eat, but that also includes the politics and economics behind how and why the U.S. government (and, by proxy—and to their great detriment—many other governments of the “industrialized world”) and our most respected medical and dietetics organizations came to recommend diets that are low in cholesterol, total fat, and saturated fat in particular, while encouraging everyone, across the board—whether young or old, healthy or chronically ill, active or sedentary, insulin resistant or not—to consume the majority of their total calories from grains and other starchy carbohydrates. And what little, teeny tiny, scant bits of fat we do allow ourselves should come from vegetable and seed oils. (Remember what I said about those? It wasn't positive. Check out here and here for a refresher.)

When a book is called The Big Fat Surprise, and has the subtitle Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, you know this is a book I've gotta read.

And when the following three people say something, I sit up and take notice.

  • Dr. Mike Eades: Review of Big Fat Surprise  (I like the two people below, too, but when this guy tells you to read a book, you’d best go get that book and READ IT. Especially when the review is as unabashedly glowing as this one is.)
  • Dr. William Davis: Interview with the author. Seriously. Read this. And let me point out here that Dr. Davis is a cardiologist. One who agrees that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are not the problems when it comes to heart disease or obesity.
  • Adele Hite, MPH, RD: Review & highest recommendation. Adele Hite is probably the most intelligent, insightful, dry-witted, and hilarious nutritionally-minded person you’re not reading. Her blog is where I first came across the following diagram, which has been emblazoned upon my brain and immediately comes to mind whenever I think about the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines:

How did we go from enjoying a nice, juicy Sunday roast, to avoiding red meat at all costs? How did we go from breakfasts of eggs and bacon, possibly with a nice big pat of butter on a homemade biscuit (made with lard, of course), to thinking that cereal, granola, oatmeal, and fat-free milk were better choices?

I know the answers to these questions. Thanks to books like Good Calories, Bad Calories and Nourishing Traditions, and exposés like The Oiling of America (in article form or video), the backdoor deals and utter lack of scientific rigor that came to define national nutritional policy during the last century aren’t a mystery to me at all. (Having a working knowledge of biochemistry and human physiology helps, too.) But if they’re a mystery to you, and even though you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you still think I might be a little bit crazy and you’re waiting to see if I’ll keel over from a heart attack and/or regain the nearly 30 pounds I’ve lost and kept off while eating fatty pork, red meat, coconut oil, butter, and heavy cream, then I say get thee to a bookstore (or downloading platform) and GET. THIS. BOOK. That’s how confident I am you’ll learn something incredible—probably a lot of incredible somethings.

Why am I posting this today? Well, it is Tuesday, and you know what that means...

I’ve been saying it all along: saturated fat isn’t bad for us. (I also said it here.) To quote Dave Barry, as I often do, “I am not making this up.” If you’re looking for someone besides me to give it to you straight, check out this book. I will be getting it sometime this week and devouring it. (And if it weren’t a book, I’d probably be devouring it with a little melted butter on top, hehheh.)

If you still think I’m a complete whackjob, I encourage you to check out this recent article by the book’s author in The Wall Street Journal – about as mainstream and conservative a newspaper as you’ll find these days. It’ll give you a (delicious) taste of what her book is about, and will probably entice you to buy it so you can get the full story. (And then lend the book to everyone you know. Especially your fat-phobic friends and loved ones.) You know the nutritional tide is starting to turn when the WSJ publishes an article about how the government (plus many academics and, most unfortunately, doctors, dietitians, and other healthcare and nutrition professionals) have been DEAD WRONG about saturated fat. (Pun intended.) I guess the only people who’ve really benefited from the egregious lapse in scientific integrity are undertakers and other people involved in the funeral industry. Morgue techs, maybe. For them, business is booming. (And also for pharmaceutical company CEOs, bariatric surgeons, and a few others.)

Just in case all that reading and watching isn’t enough to keep you busy, you can check out this recent episode of the Low Carb Conversations podcast. (The sound is a bit iffy at times, but it clears up pretty early on. Also, the host, Dietitian Cassie, has quite the strong Midwest accent. It took my New Yorker ears a few minutes to get used to it, hehheh.) The guests were Dr. Eric Thorn and his nurse, MaryLou VanHintum. Dr. Thorn is a cardiologist (and newly board certified in obesity medicine), and during this podcast, he said—and this is a direct quote—“Butter on steak is a good thing.” You have to love a cardiologist—a heart doctor, for cryin’ out loud—who tells his obese, diabetic, cardiovascularly diseased patients to ditch the grains and starchy carbs and go for the FAT. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Thorn and MaryLou in person. They practice in Manassas, VA, which is just a stone’s throw from where I live. In fact, I gave his patients’ weekly low-carb support group a talk about stocking a low-carb kitchen a few months ago. It is so refreshing to come across an MD—a full-fledged MD, and not some candy cane credentialed crank from the college of “watch these videos and email your homework”—who has his patients on what is essentially an updated version of the Atkins diet, and is saving their lives. Helping them get off their insulin, off their blood pressure meds, off their prescription antacids, and off the weight loss failure train.

Low-carb for heart health and weight loss. Hmm. Its almost like this stuff works.

P.S. If you read my previous post, where I said the next one in the series on fuel partitioning might be the most important thing I've ever written so far on this blog, please know this wasn't it. I meant the next one in that series.

Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition.


  1. SO - if you actually read the book and do not like it what wil you say/do then??

    1. Then I will retract my recommendation, with an explanation as to why, like any good academic with a lick of integrity would do.

  2. BTW - regarding Eades - he had a hand in shaping the book