My Plea to Bill Clinton

04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Fred Hahn ACE certified personal trainer, owner of Serious Strength Personal Training, co-author of Slow Burn Fitness and author of Strong Kids Healthy Kids

It appears I'm on a plea kick this month. I don't know why, but I am. This time my plea goes out to President Clinton: Get off the no fat/low fat, high carbohydrate diet you're on and start eating real foods rich in natural fats and proteins instead. It'll save your heart and your life.

In a recent ABC News story, Clinton is quoted as saying, "Since I left the White House, maybe if I had stayed on a lower fat diet. Maybe if I had... not eaten so many hamburgers and steaks, which I love..."

Most people would nod their heads in agreement with the former President under the mistaken belief that fat and cholesterol are the causative agents in heart and vascular disease. Most of us have bought the no fat/low fat story to such a degree that we even defend it when we hear information contrary to it. This always completely baffles me when in my studio or at a party talking to people about the subject. It's not like they own stock in heart disease.

Truth is we've been hoodwinked into believing that eating fat makes us fat. We've been snookered into believing that eating fat and cholesterol is the road to a heart attack and heart disease. Ladies and gentlemen: This hypothesis is false. There isn't a lick of scientific evidence to support it and loads that should end this wives tale forever. As Tom Naughton, director of the movie Fat Head puts it: It's a load of bologna. I urge everyone to watch this clip as it explains the obesity epidemic in one fell swoop. In this clip you will hear from my friend and co-author Michael Eades, M.D. who's blog is a godsend to those desperate for the straight and narrow on nutrition. If Dr. Eades were our Surgeon General, we'd have the healthiest nation in the world.

But as is the norm with many organizations of great size and stature (can you say Toyota?), to admit to the gen pop that they have been wrong, really wrong, is unheard of. Why be honest when you can easily weasel around the truth instead? Who cares that an ex-president will suffer an untimely death. And if they don't care that an ex-president will die before his time, do you really think they care about you?

New research is emerging that now links inflammation to heart and vascular disease. In other words, chronic systemic inflammation leads to a host of health problems including CHD and CVD. The fat in your diet from steak, burgers, bacon, or any other animal product hasn't a thing to do with it. But the bun on your burger does, as does the potato frites along side your juicy steak.

It's the sugar, not the fat that is the issue. Here is but one paper from the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology that discusses this issue.

They conclude:

High- compared with low-glycemic carbohydrate consumption significantly suppresses FMD in nondiabetic overweight and obese volunteers, suggesting a mechanism whereby high-glycemic meals may enhance cardiovascular risk.

Why an ex-president's doctors haven't read this stuff is beyond me.

A new epidemiological study conducted by Ronald Krauss, M.D. and his team found saturated fat 'innocent' on the issue of cardiovascular disease.

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace
saturated fat.

They state:

Thus, given the changing landscape of CVD risk factors and the increasing importance of the atherogenic dyslipidemia associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, the relative effect of dietary saturated fat on CVD risk requires reevaluation. This is of particular concern with regard to the implications of further restrictions in total and saturated fat beyond prevailing US dietary guidelines, which call for levels no higher than 10% of total energy, and the recognition that subsets of the population may not benefit, and may even be harmed, by the substitution of high intakes of carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, for fat in the diet. Particularly given the differential effects of dietary saturated fats and carbohydrates on concentrations of larger and smaller LDL particles, respectively, dietary efforts to improve the increasing burden of CVD risk associated with atherogenic dyslipidemia should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intakes and a reduction in excess adiposity.

In other words, it's not the fat, it's the sugar.

"What these papers indicate is that there is no convincing evidence that there is a benefit in reducing saturated fat. A meta-analysis summarizes several papers some of which, in the case of the Krauss paper, were more than twenty years old. In other words, the data are inconclusive, and have been for years. So why have we continued to try to limit total saturated fat?

By analogy with the law, saturated fat is not guilty. Remember, however, that does not mean innocent. You can't be found innocent. The papers suggest that the data always were inconclusive and saturated fat should never have been indicted in the first place. Unfortunately, in the popular mind, just having been indicted has some presumption of guilt."

Fat, like people, should be innocent until proven guilty. And a lot of people, the former President included, are being sent down the road of ill-health due to the demonization of fat and cholesterol.

(Side note: Low vitamin D levels may also be a possible factor in systemic inflammation. Here is an abstract of a paper discussing this issue. I urge the former president to have his levels checked. I'll bet dimes to doughnuts that his vitamin D level is below 30 ng/ml. Current research indicates that D levels should be upwards of 60 ng/ml or higher for optimal health.)

So my plea to you Mr. Clinton is this: If you want to return to a life of robust health, ditch the carbs (not the vegetables however) and start eating like a caveman. Since we're both based in NYC, I'd be honored to meet with you and discuss it.

It's called a "beer belly" and not a "steak belly" for a reason.