February 2

The low-fat hammer

11  comments

MD and I have been traveling all over the place for the past couple of weeks and we have noticed an interesting phenomenon. People everywhere—even many of those who profess to do low-carb—are still in the grip of all the low-fat nonsense. It always amazes me that despite all the information coming to light showing that fat in the diet doesn’t really matter a rat’s derrier as far as cardiovascular health is concerned so many people are making an effort to avoid fat. Even many low-carbers seem to feel the necessity to try to make their low-carb diet a low-fat one as well.
I think I now know why.
I have a good friend named Roy Williams who is an advertising and marketing genius. He has resurrected so many failing businesses and helped so many others reach unimaginable success that he has been deemed the Wizard of Ads.
Roy has written a number of books about his ideas and methods of advertising that are all terrific. I recommend them even if you’re not in the advertising business yourself or even if you have no need for advertising. They are wonderful learning tools about how humans function perceptionally. And they are great reads.
What does all this have to do with low-fat? Below is an excerpt from Roy’s first book, The Wizard of Ads that pretty much sums up why so many people are still in the grip of the low-fat ideology.

The mind of your prospective customer is like a seasoned piece of hardwood. Your message is like a nail. The rhythmic stokes of the hammer represent the number of times your message—your unique selling proposition (USP)—is heard by the prospect.
Sleep is the hammer’s claw. (Sleep: God’s gift to the human race, purging our minds of the noise of the day. Sleep: the eraser of all advertising.)
Your goal is to drive the nail through the board and then clench it on the other side. Messages that are clenched are remembered for a lifetime. Tap, tap goes the hammer. But during the night the claw pulls the nail back out of its little hole! The following day you find nothing more than a faint indentation in the board. The nail is no longer in it. Your message is forgotten.
Using the hole you started the previous day, you position the nail again. Tap, tap goes the hammer. But again falls the veil of darkness, eyes close, and the claw does its work once more. Day after day, this scene is repeated; but ever so slowly, the hole gets deeper.
Driving the nail of your USP into the hardwood of the mind is like climbing a muddy mountain: three steps forward, two steps back, over and over again.
The frustration is simply too much. You believe advertising should pay off immediately! “It must be time to change the USP, because this one doesn’t seem to be working.”
But to change your USP is to start a new nail in a completely different spot on the board. The hole in which you have invested is now wasted. Why do you do this? Do you think there’s a soft spot on the board somewhere? There is not. You can sharpen the nail (with better writing), but there are no soft spots on the board. Stay with the hole you’ve started.
Sharpen the nail.

For the past thirty years the nutritional powers that be have been hammering the low-fat nail into the psyches of all of us. With that much repetition of the same low-fat message it’s easy to see why it has finally gone through the board of the brain of so many and been clenched off on the other side.
In order to pull it out and replace it with the low-carb nail is going to require a whole lot of repetition, so don’t hold out hope for any big changes any time soon.
Our website (along with this blog) is hosted on the server at Roy’s facility in Austin, Texas where I’ve been the last couple of days. I caught up with Roy briefly yesterday, and we talked a little about all of this. He said that things get driven into long-term memory by the combination of salience and repetition. If the salience is high, then not a lot of repetition is needed. If the salience is low, it takes a lot of repetition to get anything to finally embed in long-term memory.
For example, 9/11 had a lot of salience. Even without the constant repetition we all lived through it would still have made it into our long-term memories. The low-fat diet doesn’t particularly have a lot of salience, but it’s been repeated constantly over the past thirty years. As a consequence, it has made its way into the long-term memories of a whole lot of people.
It’s the job of all of us who know from experience the efficacy of the low-carb diet to start our own hammering day after day. I think it’s the only way things are ever going to change.


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  1. To make things worse, it seems that since the so-called “low carb craze” has died down, low fat advertising seems to be coming back into fashion stronger than ever. I just read an article this morning written by a dietitian and posted on a major news website. It discussed how there is too much fat in Super Bowl snacks, and suggested ways to cut the fat. She cited the amount of fat in fried chicken wings. Where was the mention of the refined white flour used to make the frying batter?

  2. It’s just amazing how indoctrinated people are about fat consumption and what they think are “healthy” fats to eat. That’s the number one reason I would never do South Beach as it clings to the lower fat concept and that saturated fats are bad. I have to admit I had no trouble at all switching to a full fat diet using only natural fats as I hated the whole low fat thing. Not only do I feel a world better energy-wise but my chronic dry skin is gone along with those 10 pounds that I could never shake no matter how hard I tried.
    Another nail that has been successfully nailed into the collective mind is the concept of “healthy whole grains.” Can’t say I miss them and I sure do a feel a ton better without them especially since the IBS that I suffered from for years literally disappeared overnight once I quit eating them. The ironic thing is that whole grain consumption is encouraged for those who have the type I suffered from and there I was, dutifully consuming them and wondering why I felt worse than ever.

  3. While I totally agree that low fat is being incorrectly lionized, at the same time, some of us senior citizen low carbers are also doing low fat. But not because fat is bad for you, but because fat is calorie dense. I managed to get my weight down and was doing a lower cal, low GI diet. I then went on Atkins Induction and lost about 3 more k.
    Following that, I got confident and just restricted carbs, allowing myself to eat fat without care (using cream, butter, eating nuts,full fat cheese, making cakes with nut flour, etc.)…and I put 5 kilos of weight back on over a year. Since dropping the fat quantity and continuing to keep protein macro up and eating only low GI carbs (as in veg)I have dropped that added weight plus a few more.
    So lower fat is better for me weight-wise, not for the silly reasons usually given, but just as a means of calorie control. If I allow myself to indulge in fat, I have to eat a lot less of everything else to compensate. It annoys me though when low fat is touted because fat is presumably bad for your health..not true. My lipid panels looked terrific when eating lots of fat.
    I feel that I am getting adequate fat now from meat, eggs,and a dribble of macadamia oil I use for cooking, and lower fat dairy, plus I take a lot of fish oil (6g).

  4. I am noticing that insurance companies are charging more for health insurance if total cholesterol levels are above 200, especially for the self-employed. Even 225 is not acceptable for some, and the ratios are completely ignored.
    This is beginning to hit home, as my husband’s employer (a large defense corp) continually sends out leaflets touting the benefits of a low fat diet, and how it will lower cholesterol levels. We may become part of this new requirement for the next insurance cycle. They have even started handing out free packets of oatmeal for breakfast… loaded with sugar, of course!
    My nails are strong now. My task is learning how to use them effectively.

  5. Even after my family seeing all the health benefits of my eating low carb & ‘healthy’ fats including a massive weight drop, they still remain convinced that low fat is the way to go. Just because that is what their doctor tells them. One has even begun cholesterol lowering drugs much to my disgust & attempts to inform them of how dangerous they are & how necessary cholesterol is to their continued health. They wont even take the material I give them to discuss with their doctor. “What would you know?” is their favourite catch cry – “my doctor has studied for years & they know what they are talking about, you don’t !”. I guess I am too stupid to actually read things for myself & understand them. Is it because I don’t have MD after my name???

  6. >For the past thirty years the nutritional powers that be have been hammering the low-fat nail into the psyches of all of us.<
    I used to buy into that. It took a leap of logic to believe that I could eat bacon and eggs for breakfast and actually lose weight and see my cholesterol improve! But that’s what’s happened.
    Great blog here, by the way. 🙂

  7. Oh Helen, I’m in exactly the same boat as you. I’ve been “collecting” studies for years, but unfortunately family members (and most other people) have been brainwashed by the current dogma, and will not even look at any of the research. They do not know what their ratios are, but they “know” that their cholesterol is too high. I think, indirectly, that the doctors are harming their patients by not keeping up with the current state of research.

  8. One has even begun cholesterol lowering drugs much to my disgust & attempts to inform them of how dangerous they are & how necessary cholesterol is to their continued health. They wont even take the material I give them to discuss with their doctor.
    Hi Russell–
    It’s the old you-can-lead-a-cow-to-water-but-you-can’t-make-it-drink situation.  You’ve done all you can do.
    Best–
    MRE

  9. Anthony Colpo is a genius. He completely exposes this fraudulent hypothesis just as well as Dr Ravnskov, and Dr Ravnskov is brilliant. This is saying something.
    A public thank you to the efforts of Anthony Colpo and Dr. Uffe Ravnskov and to Dr MRE.
    Hi Razwell–
    Thanks for including me in such illustrious company.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

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