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Jane's Blog

By Jane, Sep 16 2016 04:49PM

When you consider the way that dietary fat has been portrayed for decades as a principle cause of heart disease it might surprise you to learn that there is actually no good scientific data to support this theory. It has become received wisdom; repeated to many times by so many people that up until recently no one would have dared to challenge it. Top scientists insist that it is true, so surely it must be true!

We all ‘know’ that fat clogs up your arteries and causes heart attacks, don’t we?

Well as you know a good number of people including myself have been challenging this belief recently and a friend and colleague of mine on the Public Health Collaboration team Zoe Harcombe and some colleagues have recently completed a meta-analysis of all the available data from randomized control trials on the subject over the last 40 years, and the findings of the study are conclusive – there is no proven relationship between dietary fat and heart disease!

There was no evidence to support the dietary guidelines first made back in 1983 and there has been no study since to support the fact that these guidelines have remained largely unchanged ever since.

Here is Zoe's report, published recently in the British Medical Journal.

Just think how many people have been advised by their doctor to eat less fat in order to lower the risk of heart disease. You would think that there must be some scientific data behind such a far-reaching policy. But there is not.

What does this mean to you and me?

• It means that the NHS advice on healthy eating is wrong.

• It means that there is no reason to worry about your cholesterol levels, dispite what the makers

of statins might tell you high cholesterol has no impact on heart disease.

• It means that food marketed as “low-fat” should not be at the heart of your diet. It is mostly

made palatable only by the addition of sugar! How crazy is that?

• It means that food containing healthy fats can be added to your diet in place of the un-healthy

refined carbohydrates that are so common in processed foods.

• It means that we need to lose our fear of fat and think in a more knowledgeable way about

what should be on our plates.

I am not saying that you can eat as much fat as you like or stuff your face with donuts! This so often tends to be the inferrence when the low-carb high-fat diet is discussed in the media; usually with a headline image of a burger or a pile of pastries.

What we find with our clients at Aspire is that when we switch to a diet based on energy from natural fats instead of carbohydrates then we feel hungry less often, and as a result we eat less food; we also feel more energized and more healthy.

If you are overweight or following a diet based on low-fat food then discuss this report with your doctor. Then ask them why the NHS recommends getting your energy from carbohydrates, which are mostly empty of nutrients and can lead to insulin insensitivity, ill health and weight gain and not from natural fats which are nutritious and healthy.

If you would like to read more about the relationship between fats and dietary health then please read more from this blog.

By Jane, Sep 13 2016 04:09PM

For a few years now I have been telling my clients and friends that the whole move towards low-fat eating was a big mistake. In the 70s and 80s the world needed to know what was responsible for rising levels of cardiovascular disease and despite the lack of decent evidence the worlds leaders decided that the culprit was saturated fat, not sugar, or tobacco. They relied on top scientists for this advice but their trust was mis-placed.

This decision drove a massive change to the way we ate, and the consequences are only recently coming to light. The shelves in the supermarkets are now full of low-fat foods only made palatable by adding lots of sugar, and the global epidemics in obesity and type 2 diabetes are, I believe, a direct consequence in this change of dietary advice.

Many people simply refuse to believe that the best scientists could have got things so completely wrong.

Now at last we have direct evidence of how this deception was achieved. This New York Times article explains just how Harvard scientists were paid to tell the story that the sugar companies wanted to hear; and it was their influence that drove the shift in US government dietary advice towards the low-fat culture that has shaped the way that we eat for the last 30 years.

And it is still going on. Sweet manufacurers somehow manage to produce "evidence" that their sweets are healthy. Coca Cola fund research that suggests that their drinks have little effect on obesity.

The UK government is shamefully dragging its heels as it says it has to rely on the best available advice from its top scientists, most of whom are heavily subsidised by the food and drugs industries and all of whom are stuck in the un-enviable position of either closing their eyes to the truth or admitting that they were wrong. The recent climb-down on changes that were promised in the Childhood Obesity Report is clear evidence of this. David Cameron (cheered even by Jamie Oliver) promised to make sweeping changes the the way foods containing added sugar could be marketed, and Theresa May has swept them all into the bin.

This news coincides with the Aspire "no-sugar September" challenge. Rather timely I think.

By Jane, May 26 2016 01:49PM

You may have seen lots of headlines in the news this week about a new report which criticises the NHS guidelines for healthy eating and suggests that we should be eating less carbohydrates and more fat. The NHS revised it's guidelines recently and they are encapsulated by the Eatwell Guide, a slightly revised version of the old Eatwell Plate, 35% of which is covered by carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, cereals and rice, all foods that will raise your blood sugar, increase the production oif insulin, increase your likelihood of storing those carbs as fat and increase your risk of diabetes and obesity.

As you may have read in my earlier blog posts these recommendations are based on science that was shakey when it was produced 40 years ago and looks vacant now.

The new report was co-written by two charities: the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration of which I am a founding patron.

The report has raised eyebrows and hackles all over and invoked serious criticism from the established experts of institutions such as Public Health England and Diabetes UK. Sky news, ITV and the BBC have had some heated arguments on air. It’s all been rather exciting for those of us directly involved!

This reaction is unsurprising, as the report accuses the government and its advisors of presiding over 30 years of poorly constructed guidelines that have very clearly failed to achieve their aims of improving public health and in particular the rising tide of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

I am not going to repeat all the evidence and science raised in the report, if you are interested in the subject then you would be best off reading the reports (there are in fact two of them) for yourselves. You will find them under the Reports tab of our website here:

The reason these reports have stirred so much anger is that they are upsetting the apple-cart. The establishment has dutifully established and followed the dogma of the low-fat high-fibre diet being the only solution for too many years. Yes, for some lucky people (who are insulin sensitive) this solution does work, but for most of us this dogma leads to the inevitable conclusion that if you can’t lose weight then you are either lazy, greedy or lying. I know that this is not true!

Many of my clients have trouble sticking with the traditional NHS recommended weight-loss diet. This is because traditional diets are all about fighting hunger. We can only do this for so long while the motivation lasts, and for most people this is not long enough and either give up or they get caught in a cycle of yo-yo dieting.

The lower-carb higher-fat diet that we at the PHC advocate is, for most people, easier to stick to as it is more of a lifestyle change than a diet. Once you get over the fear of fat and the fear of cholesterol (for anyone worried by this please, please read the first report) and realise that it is just about eating tasty real food which is more satiating, then you will see that the reason the diet works is that you will feel hungry less often and consequently eat less. This is why we say it is not about counting calories.

This last point appears to be lost on the establishment; they want formulae from their own research before pronouncing judgement. That is fair enough, but there are truly thousands of people following this diet worldwide. In Sweden and South Africa it has become mainstream. Public Health England absolutely refuse to concede the truth of this. They claim there is “absolutely no evidence” and yet this evidence is widely available; my friend Sam Feltham the principle author or the report presented a summary of it on Sky news to the government’s chief advisor on obesity Professor Susan Jebb, she ignored him and said that it’s all about counting calories. Her reputation is simply too great for her to admit that she might have got it wrong.

The press tend to report that fact that we advocate not counting calories and take that to mean that we eat tons of cream and butter. This naivety de-rails the debate. This suggestion is not true and is poor journalism really. Hunger is at the root of what we eat and blood sugar levels are at the root of hunger. When we eat more carbs then we lose control of this, and we are forced to fight it every day; eating less carbohydrate allows us to take control of our blood sugar, our insulin and consequently our health. We refer to eating fat ‘ad libitum’ which means ‘to one’s pleasure’; in other words eat as much fat as you wish, not as much as you can.

So, there we are. The debate rages and it is set to rage for a good while longer.

If you are interested in this whole subject then let me know, I’d love to hear your feedback. And also, if you know anyone who is struggling with following the NHS guidelines for weight loss or is contemplating a grim lifetime on Metformin - that’s about 3.5 million people in the UK - then perhaps you should point them to this new report, or to the excellent website where loads of great information relating to the LCHF diet can be found. They should discuss this report with their GP. And of course I would be happy to try to help.

By Jane, Apr 20 2016 02:32PM

This month I am feeling rather smug.

For the last 5 years I have been telling everyone I meet that loosing weight is not about eating less and moving more. I know this. I understand the arguement and I know from reseach and experience that it is wrong.

I also know that the key to sustained weight loss is to cut out refined carbohydrates and processed food from your diet and just eat real food. I have proved this with myself and with my clients.

And this month we have two fantastic new articles that prove that I am right.

This first article published in The Gaurdian is just amazing. It is a technical summary of everything to do with the fat vs sugar debate and the related obesity and diabetes epedemics and what to do about it. If you are at all interested in the health of your friends and family then you should read this, then go and talk to your doctor about why the NHS still recommend a diet basd on carbohydrate to diabetics who then have to spend their whole lifes monitoring their blood glucose! Eat real food and the problem dissapears, completely.

The second article is by the highly respected Dr Jason Fung and can be best summarised by the statement "It's the insulin, stupid!"

Fung’s not saying exercise isn’t important. It’s just not a great weight loss tool. I agree, although I do think that excercise can be a great motivational tool aiding your commitment to a lifestyle change that can be hard to make.

At the heart of the matter it is what we eat that makes a difference to our control of blood sugar and consequently our hunger and our weight. The Low Carb High Fat diet is here to stay.

If you want to learn more about managing your weight with Real Food Dieting just give me a call.

By Jane, Mar 24 2016 03:01PM

Remember the Eatwell Plate?

Last week after years of deliberations the Eatwell Plate was replaced by the new Eatwell Guide.

Now you may recall that I was never a fan of the Eatwell Plate and many of my friends and colleagues have always referred to it as the Eat Badly Plate. It was so unspecific as to be practically useless apart from to food and drinks companies wanting justification for placing their sugary crap in that purple segment and saying it could be part of a healthy balanced diet.

So the plate has been redesigned. The new guide gives much more direction, it has almost 10 times as many words on, which helps. Maybe!

At first sight this looks like an improvement on the old Eat Well Plate in that sugar, cakes and fruit juices have definitely been removed to being an occasional treat and the proportion of vegetables has grown; but the proportion of carbohydrates has increased as well, and the proportion of healthy fats has decreased. This is in direct contradiction to recent science which consistently reports that fat should never have been vilified and is an essential part of a nutritionally rich diet.

We are only occasionally allowed red meat. This follows the recent advice that red meat is associated with increased risk of cancers and heart disease. Oh how we abuse the work ‘association’ these days! Read a bit more into that advice however and you will see that the increase is tiny, perhaps a relative increase of about 10% above the rather low risk of getting any particular form of cancer.

Even CancerResearch UK are not so upset by red meat. This from their Science Blog last year:

"But before we move on, let’s be clear: yes, a prolonged high-meat diet isn’t terribly good for you. But a steak, bacon sandwich or sausage bap a few times a week probably isn’t much to worry about.

The WCRF’s analysis suggests that, among 1000 people who eat the most processed meat, you’d expect 66 to develop bowel cancer at some point in their lives – 10 more than the group who eat the least processed meat."

Upon such tiny numbers fatty red meat is assigned to the bin. Well not in my house it's not. Anyone might think that this NHS advice was written by a vegetarian.

And the little dairy we consume should be low-fat. The only justification for this is that saturated fat can raise cholesterol and yet the relationship between cholesterol and heart health is tenuous at best and only exists at all for people who already have heart disease. Compare this to the relationship between carbohydrate intolerance, insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes is plain and simple fact. When we remove carbohydrates from the diet of type 2 diabetics they get better. Why this continued homage to the carbohydrate gods? Might Nestle be contributing in some way to the process? Surely not!

Show me a low-fat plain yoghart with no added sugar and I will show you something that no one, but no one wants to eat!

Oh, and there is a tub of margarine! This can only mean one thing: that the advice has been strongly influenced by food companies. Margerine is just tasteless crap, it is not real and it is not food. Just about all independent scientists (those not sponsored by Benecol that is) now acknowledge that butter is far more healthy than margarine.

On the good side the advice on food labeling is an improvement. We just need to make portion sizes consistent (there's at least 3 'servings' of porridge in that bowl) and the labeling a bit bigger and this information might start to become relevant. Personally I can't read any of it.

In fact the very notion of trying to advise people on exactly what to eat enevitabley gets too confusing to be practical the moment we take a close look at it:

"I can see Weetabix there, does that mean I shouldn't have Corn Flakes?"

"Pasta is there twice, does that mean it's really good for me?"

"Aren't potatoes a vegetable?"

Advice like this is just leading the public up a dark alley. Mostly they are just scared that they are going to be mugged.

So why do we bother?

I still think we could replace the whole idea with this simple phrase:

Eat Real Food, mostly vegetables, not too much.



I'm Jane Roweth, owner of Aspire Fitness Solutions (I'm the one wearing red) and in this blog I'll be leaving day-to-day business behind and commenting on some of the wider issues in the health and fitness industry.


I've been around this industry for 20 years now and I have a lot of experience and opinions to share.


I'll also be sharing some of the stories that have been making Aspire such an inspiring place to work for the last 9 years.