Raise your hand if you are more likely to purchase a food item with the label “low-fat” or “fat-free” plastered all over it. Well, if your hand is raised, do not be alarmed because 99.9% of the general population is standing there with their hands raised as well.
In today’s world, we immediately associate foods with a high concentration of saturated fat such as butter and red meat with obesity or simply being out of shape. Until I read, Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan, I was also of the mindset that consuming a diet filled with saturated fat would have a negative impact on my fitness levels, which in turn would negatively affect my performances on the field. Little did I know that FAT, yes FAT, is the key component to any proper nutrition program, and Ancel Keys is the one to blame.
For a quick second, let us go back in time to World War II when food and supplies became harder and harder to come by. The military assigned Dr. Keys to create a food product that could be stored for years and shipped to soldiers around the world, which was ultimately named “K-ration”. Why Keys was hired in the first place is beyond me considering he earned his PhD studying salt water eels. Anyways, Keys was hired, and from that point forward, nutritional wealth in America went spiraling out of control.
After Keys launched his “K-ration”, the Minnesota public health department thought it would be a great idea to hire the “Nutritional Guru” to study the rise of heart disease. After presenting to a group of scientists regarding his hypothesis that a strong correlation exists between consumption of saturated fat and heart disease, Keys was embarrassed as the scientists hammered him with questions about his poor experimentation process.
The next sequence of events is truly mind boggling as the American Heart Association, who relies heavily on donations from the vegetable oil industry, felt that Ancel Keys was the right man to bring attention to the margarine business. Of course that makes perfect sense because why wouldn’t we want everyone to consume large amounts of margarine that is littered with chemically altered substances consisting of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that does nothing other than smother our tissues with inflammation. Yes, that surely sounds healthier than pasture-raised butter.
Keys was able to garner national attention when he went on television to present his findings from his “Six Countries Study”, which in fact was a “22 Countries Study”. Keys being the scientific wizard that he is, decided it was acceptable to manipulate the results to better prove his hypothesis. Clearly from the graphs below, the actual study shows no correlation between consumption of saturated fat and increased rates of heart disease. Oh, and one more thing, not only did Keys delete the results of 16 countries, but he also forgot to mention that the US, Canada, England, and Australia all had the highest consumption rates of margarine, NOT saturated fat.
Okay, now that the truth is out on all the wonderful things Ancel Keys did for the nutritional community and the United States a whole, you must be asking yourself, what do I do from here?
For starters, read Deep Nutrition by Catherine and Luke Shanahan, especially since I will be referencing that book constantly in my posts. Most importantly, DO NOT be scared of saturated fats and get rid of anything consisting of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. If you want to have longer sustained energy throughout your trainings and games, then consume more saturated fats such as olive oil, butter, and meats. After all, our body’s preferred source of energy comes from fat (maybe a hint into the next nutritional post)!
Thanks for reading!
Shanahan, Catherine, and Luke Shanahan. “Good Fats and Bad: How the Cholesterol Theory Created a Sickness Epidemic.” Deep nutrition: why your genes need traditional food. Lawai, HI: Big Box Books, 2009. . Print.