The story on high-fat diets

Media and culture have contributed to the belief that fats are bad for you and should be avoided at all costs. However, numerous studies now suggest that high-fat (or ketogenic) diets could help you live longer while improving your physical strength.

Let’s talk about fat. Should you eliminate it, eat some in moderation or take coconut oil by the spoonful? For decades, nutritional “authorities” advised people to minimize their fat intake, asserting that the lipidic macroniutrient could cause obesity, heart disease and other health issues. However, a few experts today say that fat is, in fact, your friend, and some scientific studies support these claims.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis demonstrated that mice lived longer and got physically stronger after following a high-fat (or ketogenic) diet. Specifically, in this study, they observed a 13 percent increase in the median life span of the mouse when following a high-fat vs. a high-carb diet, which would be about a 7-10 year life span increase for human beings. More importantly, this diet not only increased the mice’s life span, but it kept them healthier as they aged. 

The rise of fatty diets

Health experts and popular culture icons such as Dom D’Agostino and Tim Ferriss have popularized the Ketogenic diet: a high-fat, low-carb regime where dieters get most of their calories from meat, cheese, nuts and oil. A proper ketogenic diet involves consuming no more than 50g of carbohydrates per day, which puts your body into a state of ketosis. From there, the body begins to break down fat and protein for energy. This metabolic process typically leads to weight loss, at least in the short term.

Approaching dietary changes intelligently

Since the ketogenic diet resembles the Atkins diet—another low-carb alternative—many scientists wonder if the concept is simply being repackaged as another diet fad. While research demonstrating the strong, positive effects of adopting a ketogenic diet are promising, some experts warn that eating such an extreme, restrictive diet could backfire. Remember to interpret diet-related scientific findings with the understanding that each individual has unique needs, and consult with a specialist prior to making any extreme dietary changes.