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flipping the food pyramid

For a quarter of a century, the Food Guide Pyramid encouraged heaping piles of grains and only the occasional indulgence of fats and oils for ‘healthy living.’ Today, we can look around and see the fallout of that dysfunction.

The original pyramid was published in 1992, updated in 2005, and discontinued in 2011 with the introduction of the MyPlate food guide, but still these resources recommend a disproportionately high intake of carbohydrates.

In an act of rebellion (or is it logic?), we flipped the food pyramid on its head. Here’s how to eat healthier and be healthier on a low-carb/high-fat (LCHF) diet.

The Low-Carb/High-Fat (LCHF) Food Pyramid

LCHF diet can deliver massive health benefits such as supporting weight loss, lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk for heart disease, lowering blood pressure, reducing insulin levels, improving cognitive function, boosting energy levels and more.

But remember: it’s not all bacon and butter.

We polled food, nutrition, and fitness enthusiasts and experts to hear what they have to say about rethinking the food pyramid:

“Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that our bodies need to thrive. Most Americans are overfed and undernourished, meaning that they eat way too many calories, but are barely getting in the minimal amount of nutrients required to have a healthy body and mind.” —Drew Manning, Fit2Fat2Fit 

Interestingly, a consistent pattern in food pyramids around the globe, from China’s Food Pagoda to Greece’s Food Pyramid, is the appearance of cereals, grains, bread, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates as the base of the diet – and fats near the top of the pyramid, as a “use sparingly” category. But this type of pyramid can lead to health problems. After all, dietary fat from healthy sources has been shown in studies to actually help to increase weight loss, reduce heart disease risk, lower blood sugars, lower cholesterols and maintain proper brain function (especially in kids).” – Ben Greenfield, Ben Greenfield Fitness 

To put it bluntly, the current food pyramid is an unmitigated disaster that has only served to make our society fatter and sicker. We’ve had it backwards for so long and now it’s time to shake things up and turn it on its head. And I mean that quite literally. The current nutritional standards, the advice promoted by almost everyone of medical authority for the past 60 years, has been like one big old human experiment that has had seriously negative consequences. The evidence is all around us and it’s hard to deny. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? It’s time to stop the insanity and try something new. What have we got to lose?” – Carolyn Ketchum, Founder and Chief Executive Eater, All Day I Dream About Food

“I think the food pyramid is woefully outdated and definitely not the way I cook/eat or recommend that others do. The one thing in the food pyramid that I would agree with is the advice to “Eat a variety of foods to get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need for good health.” But that’s about it. I recommend that people think about their plate, rather than a pyramid, to make it practical and easy to follow.” – Beth Lipton, Recipe Developer/Food Writer, Contributing Editor at Clean Plates

“The ‘Food Wheel’ introduced in 1984 and ‘Food Guide Pyramid’ introduced in 1992, both promoted 6-11 daily servings of grains and 2-4 daily servings of fruits, while cautioning Americans to use fats and oils ‘sparingly.’  According to the CDC, the average rate of obesity in adult Americans shot from 11.1% in 1990 to almost 37% in 2017. Coincidence? I think not. Every livestock farmer knows the secret to fattening cattle is to feed them grain. Dietary fat consumption doesn’t make us fat. Rather, excess carbohydrates, especially in the form of refined grains and sugars, are causing obesity and chronic disease nationwide. Flipping the traditional pyramid on its head correctly reflects the way we should be eating for optimal health and performance.” Molly Devine, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Eat Your Keto

“The excessive amount of carbohydrates that serve as the base of the outdated food pyramid have wildly contributed to our nation’s obesity epidemic. Humans have relied on a diet of fats and protein for millions of years. Modern hunter-gatherer tribes still rely on a diet of healthy fruits and vegetables and animal-based fats and protein, and do not suffer from the obesity and disease that plague our society. Agricultural carbohydrates are a recent introduction to our plates, and we are unable to handle them in large amounts. Why continue to force ourselves to eat foods that are detrimental to our health? Simply put, our bodies do not need processed foods, sugar, grains, and refined oils to thrive.” – Colin E. Champ, M.D., author of Misguided Medicine and the Caveman Doctor Diet

Ready to make a change? 

You don’t have to flip your eating style overnight. Start small by making simple swaps. Instead of cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, have eggs. Instead of an apple, have an avocado. Instead of baked potatoes or fries, have sautéed greens or a side salad. Instead of croutons on your salad, crumble up some bacon for some savory crunch! Little changes will add up!