The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1030: Dr. Mark Hyman on How to Eat Fat & Get Thin (Archive)

Learn why it is time to turn the food pyramid on its head and eat fat instead of sugar or starch to control weight.
Mark Hyman, MD
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Dr. Mark Hyman on How to Eat Fat & Get Thin (Archive)

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For decades, we’ve been told that we need to avoid fat if we want to lose weight. So Americans turned to highly-processed low-fat foods that are full of sugar. Is it a coincidence that we are fatter than before? More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese.

Turning the Food Pyramid Upside Down:

Dr. Mark Hyman explains what went wrong and why we need to eat fat–not sugar–if we want to get thin. Does it make sense to turn the food pyramid upside down? According to Dr. Hyman, we’d be better off treating sugar as if it were a recreational drug like alcohol, to be enjoyed very sparingly. Getting far more of our calories from fat is much healthier if it is done correctly.

Why Fat Is Not the Enemy of Weight Control:

Find out why many nutrition experts are reversing their position on fat, and why the quality of the fat we eat is so important. How can you follow the recommended diet on a budget? And does it really make a difference in just three weeks? Dr. Hyman addresses these questions during the interview.

This Week’s Guest:

Mark Hyman, MD, is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, where he holds the Pritzker Foundation Chair in Functional Medicine. He is also chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine and founder and director of The UltraWellness Center.

Dr. Hyman has written 12 books, including the best-sellers The Blood Sugar Solution, UltraPrevention and UltraMetabolism. His most recent book is Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health. His website is

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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A ketogenic diet seems to work for me. Comments? (especially from Dr. Hyman?)

Moderation seems to be the key. Cutting almost all sugar out and cutting back on salt has helped my health in general. Drinking lots more plain water and some teas makes me feel better. I am working on eating more vegetables (without adding butter or any fats) and seasonal fruits.

I also remind myself God gave me this body and life to glorify Him and not to abuse it in any way, and I must keep it healthy to be my best. I am very careful not to put anything unnatural in it. I am trying to put more steps in every day and doing exercises I like, such as dancing. Also, I’m avoiding restaurant buffets entirely. They seem to trick people into thinking they “deserve” to eat more food. What a trap!

Dr. Hyman stands on the shoulders of Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Atkins. All three say the right things but come from rich areas where really great food quality is the norm. What these fine physicians don’t seem to have digested to date is the situation of people who have no safe choices in food. Other than deer and turkey which may have also been chummed with GMO corn, a survey of what poor, rural and some urban citizens can buy is discouraging.

Declining longevity has been happening in food deserts for 25 years where clots, cancer, diabetes, and dementia far outweigh opioid deaths – and show up in obituaries as a bimodal set of statistics. I know a county where pre-diabetes is universal in children, usually before obesity, and all children tested have progressive cardiac conduction defects. An economy or society is impossible in these circumstances.

My acupuncturist recommend Dr. Hyman’s book. I am down 22 pounds, we went on a cruise where I only gained 3 pounds while not depriving myself, and then lost the 3 pounds after returning home. I am now working on losing the other 50 pounds I need to get rid of. I cut out sugar, bread, milk, and every other high carb thing I used to eat.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all. When I stalled at 15 pounds lost, I added 1/2 of an avocado to two meals each day and my weight loss started back up. I had tried all kinds of diets before but couldn’t stick with it. This is my way of life now. Pam tickled pink that I can eat my hot breakfast, have some berries if I want, eat my veggies with my chicken thighs and still lose weight.

I’ve said this many times on this site that my grand father lived on fat. Pork fat, bacon, beef, butter, whole milk etc., as did all of the other coal miners in his community. AND this was a daily diet along with a cigar/cigarettes and a couple shots of whiskey every day. Never heard of a heart patient back then. I’ve never had anyone been able to explain why this was, so I can only assume that fat is not an issue with the human body/heart. However, add to this continuous exercise (these guys worked tirelessly for 12 to 14 hours a day) and ate no processed foods. How important is the exercise part to maintain a good cardio system? I think it is probably a key factor although I have cases where this theory has fallen apart.

Bob, didn’t they eat biscuits, too?

I read the article, listened to your podcast and watched his video on his website and still do not understand how eating good fats may affect the current state of your arterial plaque. Dr. Hyman discusses how this eating approach will reverse your diabetes and pre-diabetes and how it will result in weight loss but what about arterial plaque? If you have it will eating fats (even good fats) increase your arterial plaque? Most cardiologists will tell you to avoid fats and eat a plant-based diet in order to reverse your arterial plaque. This is something Dr. Hyman does not address. What can you contribute to this question?

Lida, in my personal N=1 experience, I had my 50percent blockage found during a Carotid Doppler (“not hemodynamically significant”) reduced to zero, no blockage seen on an annual followup 9 months after starting a Ketogenic Low carb, High fat, Moderate protein diet. This was back in November 2014 and November 2015. I also lost 75 lbs during this year without counting one calorie. My bad T2 Diabetes(HA1c around 12-13, went down to upper 5’s, like 5.7-5.9) was perfectly controlled with about 1/10 the meds. My trigs went from 300-400, down to 70-90. My HDL went from the 40’s to 60-70+(now 78, 2 years later), My LDL went up and then down and stabilized. It’s been as low as 70, and as high as 150, but now is about 110. I totally quit all Statins. It’s is now almost 3 years later and the weight is still off, and I have no problem with essentially eliminating all the white boring carbs and sugary crap.

Hi Lida,

Try this video that explains how lipids are impacted by reducing carbohydrates and replacing those calories with good fat calories.

I enjoyed listening to Dr. Hyman’s interesting and somewhat provocative discussion. However, I was put off by his veiled attack on Dr. T. Collin Campbell’s studies. He basically accuse him of selecting evidence to verify a theory, rather than basing the theory on the evidence. This is an accusation which has been made before and Dr. Campbell has answered it Perhaps you could arrange an interview with him or his son, Thomas Campbell, who is a North Carolina resident.

Another suggestion would be to talk with Dr. Joel Fuhrman about his new book, “The End of Heart Disease”. It would be very interesting to compare their different approaches.
Thank you so much for your radio programs and your excellent work.

I look forward to Hyman’s talk. Sugar is not a problem if a person is not sick with insulin resistance. I am pretty sure the accumulating, unmetabolizable, frankenfats, which are pervasive in many countries, are what cause p-par gamma to be displaced off its receptor and thus leading to a deficit of insulin receptors – the new research on insulin resistance is compatible with that view. Bernstein and Atkins pioneered this work in NYC in the 70’s, what they did not know was the terrible quality of food being pushed to non-rich people in non-rich areas. The food has not improved – the corporate labels just obfuscate the frankenfats (or leave them off the label.) Preventing this poisoning will require regulation of the food industry at every level – and will lead to many lawsuits.

Eat unprocessed foods. The ones without labels on them. Specific foods vary among locales and cultures. Let us not drive ourselves insaner with “beans or not beans”, “rice or not rice”, but be guided by simple principles like “if some is good, more is not better” and “variety is the spice of life.”

The single greatest predictor of health and longevity remains socioeconomic status, meaning how poor you are relative to those of advantage in your society, the nature of the neighborhood where you live and the context in which you earn a living. We are already seeing that the poor in our society are dying at at earlier age. Changing our diet is small compared to changing the gap between the rich and the poor in this country and elsewhere in the developed world.

And yet Dr. Atkins was saying this over 40 years ago and getting vilified by the medical establishment. Too bad he didn’t live to enjoy his vindication.

I agree 100% about Dr. Atkins. After he said that he was called a quack for the rest of his life. It’s good to see that the medical community has come around to his point of view but they will probably never admit it publicly

I think Dr Hymen’s information and guidance in directing us toward balancing our glycemic index as a means of getting back to and maintaining a healthy weight is just Great. This means eating saturated fat moderately while getting our protein and moderating carbohydrates as well. So this means relearning to eat Saturated Fats with our protein as well and minimizing sugars.
(BTW, I even wonder if we women have, over the eons, grown to lean too much on the sugar/carbohydrate saturation of our culture due to our legacy of being the “gatherers” in the hunter-gatherer balance of life. Therefore women may have developed our weight & blood sugar issues even quicker than men.)

Sooo, just recently my husband and I both decided to do some major loss of pounds. This means weight loss while especially I need to assure and be *balanced with eating fat and carbohydrate* as well as *balanced in exercise and rest* due to living with MS. Meanwhile, we wanted this eating change to be as “friendly”/easy and routine as possible in shopping and socializing in our busy lives and vast society.

We have just in the past week begun an eating strategy that integrates balancing both Carbohydrates and Fats while being sure to get the necessary body builder/maintainer- protein. This plan is effective in addressing what Dr. Hyman says, using saturated fats while attending to whether the Fat bearing foods we are consuming are high or low in that fat. It also includes collagen and gelatin as protein sources. Then too it looks at- which carbohydrate foods have which type of sugars and flours (Using Stevia, Erythritol and Xylitol) to minimize our sugar intake and cope with minimizing simple carbohydrates while integrating whole grain flours (not just wheat) in purchasing or making glycemic gentle carbohydrates.

Due to the consult of our younger adult daughter, we are learning to practice the eating guidelines of the “Trim, Healthy, Mama” plan.
Now a “heads up” about separating good research and solid logic from other social factors like lifestyle (the two sisters who developed this style of preparing and consuming food are of a specific Christian culture that could easily be a “turn off” while their focus on professional homemaking their large families seems to have spurred them to do good research for eating well; the dietary plan itself seems quite solid. I hope each person must evaluate carefully. That personal evaluation is why I love good the good information from professionals like Dr. Hyman.

I really like how these mothers have established a set of rules for familiarizing and deciding if one’s meal is a S (satisfying/fat focused meal) or an E (energizing/carbohydrate focused meal)- BOTH ARE IMPORTANT. Their weight management theory seems to be based on realizing that we metabolize these two food sources differently. They encourage us to keep each meal focused to whether it is an S or an E type meal and giving one’s body a chance (3 hours) to metabolize one type of meal before eating more food-whether a snack or meal. (Interesting my husband has started out preferring the S meals while I have preferred the E meals.) though we are both learning to like both types.

We have both been surprised at our rapid loss of the weight we are seeking to shed.

Hi Rebecca,

I noticed you mentioned “living with MS”.

Perhaps Dr. Terry Whals book, The Whals Protocol, might be of interest.

Dr. Whals had MS and is now fully recovered.

I can only agree with this article based on my own experience..Im a diabetic 63 years of age and since I adopted a fattery diët my diabetes blood sugar levels decreased in the mornings and feel ready for the day..I always had a slight headace in the mornings and even that is gone..
Im following this diët for some time and my recommendation is that is the way to go to feel better and to live a more productive life…..

For decades we have been urged to go no- fat or low fat to slim down. Intuitively I always suspected that to be wrong. I go by my own experiences and personal results, and I very much agree with the fat-for-life benefits studies. I eat way less and do not crave sugar or junk carbs at all. I am in my 60s and have no major health issues. My older sibs, on the other hand, have all the usual maladies associated with their fat free life styles. Sad to say that they used to lecture me on my “Unhealthy” whole fat choices.

Excluding urban areas that lack good sources of food (aka “food ghetto”), I think that the reason most Americans are overweight is that they have no self-discipline (in food or anything else). I would love to see People’s Pharmacy do a full program on sugar. I stopped eating sugar (refined, white, brown) 15 years ago, and it made an enormous difference in my eating habits. It is a drug, and I read that it was used in the ancient world to heal wounds (as was honey).

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