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Why Humans Crave Fat

It is an indisputable fact that humans crave fat.

“Why Can’t I Stop Eating Fatty Foods?”

Junk Food

Q: Why do we eat this junk?
A: Because we're supposed to be eating animal fat, but we won't let ourselves!

French fries, onion rings, donuts, and everything else that comes out of a deep-fryer. Corn chips, potato chips, Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Tostitos, and all the other oil-soaked, salt-coated starches in the snack aisle. Oreos, buttered toast, salad dressing. Cheese, mayonnaise, and Alfredo sauce. The list goes on, and on.

Decades of diet propaganda, telling us over and over again that fat will kill us, have been unable to break us of our ‘fat tooth’. Why do we crave fat so much?

It’s because animal fat is the primary constituent of the evolutionary human diet. “Low-fat” diets just make us crave fat more keenly—and anti-animal-fat propaganda makes us binge on unsatisfying substitutes.

Fruit Isn’t Enough: Leaving The Equatorial Forests

Humans are (mostly) fruit-eating chimpanzees who have become meat-eating, predatory omnivores, most likely due to the pressures of massive and continual climate change throughout the Pleistocene. Our continually shifting environment strongly selected for physical adaptations and behavior that let us survive outside the equatorial tropical forests of Africa.

How did this happen?

Well, first we had to adapt to eating something besides fruit, because fruit is only available year-round in tropical forests. We needed to eat something available year-round on the savanna and plains, in wet and dry seasons, in cold and warm seasons.

We needed to eat meat.

Fortunately we had a head-start: chimpanzees already eat meat.

The Predatory Behavior and Ecology of Wild Chimpanzees, by Dr. Craig B. Stanford

“I estimate that in some years, the 45 chimpanzees of the main study community at Gombe kill and consume more than 1500 pounds of prey animals of all species. [...] In fact, during the peak dry season months, the estimated per capita meat intake is about 65 grams of meat per day for each adult chimpanzee. This approaches the meat intake by the members of some human foraging societies in the lean months of the year. Chimpanzee dietary strategies may thus approximate those of human hunter-gatherers to a greater degree than we had imagined.”

“When we ask the question ‘When did meat become an important part of the human diet?’,” we must therefore look well before the evolutionary split between apes and humans in our own family tree.

(Further reading: Dr. Stanford’s magisterial “Meat-Eating And Human Evolution”.)

Kleiber’s Law and the Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis

Kleiber’s Law states that all animals of similar body mass have similar metabolic rates, and that this rate scales at only the 3/4 power of size:

Click the image for an informative discussion of Kleiber's Law.

What this means is that to spend more energy to grow and maintain one body part, an animal has to spend less energy on another. And what this means for human evolution is that in order for our brains to grow, something else had to shrink.

Brains are expensive to own and maintain. At rest, our brains use roughly 20% of the energy required by our entire body!

So what did we lose in order to gain our big, smart brains?

Our guts.

It takes a much larger gut, and much more energy, to digest plant matter and turn it into an animal than it does to eat an animal and turn it into an animal. This is why herbivores have large, complicated guts with extra chambers (e.g. the rumen and abomasum), and carnivores have smaller, shorter, less complicated guts.

The caloric and nutritional density of meat allowed our mostly-frugivorous guts to shrink so that our brains could expand—and our larger brains allowed us to become better at hunting, scavenging, and making tools to help us hunt and scavenge. This positive feedback loop allowed our brains to grow from perhaps 350cc (“Lucy”) to over 1500cc (late Pleistocene hunters)!

In further support of this theory, the brains of modern humans, eating a grain-based agricultural diet, have shrunk by 10% or more as compared to late Pleistocene hunters and fishers.

For a longer explanation, read this seminal paper:

The Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis: The Brain and the Digestive System in Human and Primate Evolution
Leslie C. Aiello and Peter Wheeler
Current Anthropology Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr., 1995), pp. 199-221

Most importantly, fruit is only available year-round in tropical forests, and even then the supply ebbs and flows seasonally. Meat, in contrast, is available everywhere year-round. If we hadn’t become meat-eaters, we’d still be living in tropical forests with the rest of the chimps and bonobos.

You can demonstrate the necessity of meat and root starches by looking at the calorie density of vegetables: an average asparagus spear has four calories. You’d need to eat 500 asparagus spears just to survive a relatively sedentary day…and even if you could somehow choke them down, you’d have to eat one every two minutes!

That doesn’t leave much time for anything else…and it’s why herbivores graze constantly. Even with a ruminant’s stomach, there’s just not very much energy in grasses and foliage.

The few calories in most vegetables are rounding error to whatever you sautee them in, and the calories in salad greens all come from the dressing you put on them. In other words, when you eat ‘vegetables’, you’re really eating fat—plus a lot of indigestible fiber and perhaps some nutrients.

Why You Crave Fat: The Protein Problem

Animal flesh contains protein and fat, but no significant amount of carbohydrates (sugars). Most animal tissues can oxidize either sugar or fat for energy, and ketones can replace some of our need for glucose—but brains, red blood cells, and some kidney cells absolutely require glucose. Therefore, all animal bodies, including ours, need to maintain a certain level of glucose in the bloodstream (“blood sugar”) or cells start dying, starting with the brain.

Just as ‘carbohydrates’ are just chains of simple sugars, ‘protein’ is just chains of amino acids.

Furthermore, unlike fat and carbohydrate, there is no way to store excess dietary protein: it must be used immediately, or converted to something else. So when an animal ingests protein in excess of its need to repair and grow its body, it must convert the protein into glucose. Humans do this primarily in the liver, by a process known as gluconeogenesis.

It turns out that the liver of an obligate carnivore, like a lion, wolf, tiger, or hyena, is great at gluconeogenesis. A 130# spotted hyena can eat nearly a third of its body weight at one sitting…and over the next several days, convert all the glucose it needs from that 40 pounds of meat.

Human livers, however, aren’t quite as good at gluconeogenesis. Sources aren’t consistent…but they seem to indicate that we can only metabolize somewhere between 200 and 300 grams of protein per day. Furthermore, some of that is used directly for cellular growth and repair, and isn’t available for energy.

Unfortunately, 250g of protein is only 1000 calories! That’s not nearly enough to sustain a sedentary adult, let alone an active hunter. People who eat too much lean protein and not enough fat end up in a situation called “rabbit starvation” or “mal de caribou”.

Therefore, in order to survive on hunted meat, Paleolithic humans had to get the rest of their calories from something besides protein. Dead animals don’t contain significant amounts of carbohydrate…

…which leaves us with fat.

Simple math tells us that a sedentary adult surviving on hunted meat would require half their calories from fat, and an active hunter would require 3/4 or more of their calories from fat!

And that’s why humans crave fat—

—because we require a meat-based diet in order to feed our big brains, but our livers haven’t yet caught up.

Humans aren’t mostly frugivores, like chimps, true carnivores, like lions and hyenas, or true omnivores, like pigs.

We’re fativores.

Unlike the canids and felids who have been carnivores for perhaps 40 million years, our evolutionary transition from mostly-frugivores to mostly-carnivores is both recent and incomplete. It began perhaps 2.6 million years ago, and it’s been interrupted by the transition to a Neolithic lifestyle based on farming and eating grains—a transition that is shrinking our brains and stunting our growth. (An argument neatly summarized here, by Jared Diamond.)

Further Reading: “Evidence of Human Adaptation To Increased Carnivory”, and Peter Dobromylskyj’s Hyperlipid.

Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS

Postscript: You’ll notice that you stop craving fatty junk food once you start eating a high-fat paleo diet and stop eating birdseed, “low-fat” milk and yogurt, and boneless/skinless/tasteless chicken breasts…but that’s another article for another time.


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155 comments

Permalink: Why Humans Crave Fat
  • Janna

    It just popped into my mind today as I passed a 7-11 that it’s odd that I don’t crave Doritos and crap like that at ALL anymore. I haven’t eaten much junk like that very for years, but it still always sounded scandalously delicious. Now that I’m eating paleo and getting tons of great animal fat, no urge at all!

  • Kenny Younger

    This blog has consistently become one of my favorite reads. Keep up the awesome, awesome content. Fativores – love it.

  • Bodhi

    Mine too! Fativores, that makes us special again.

  • edwinb

    I believe this is – if I just eat a lean meat my hunger will roar back within a very few hours with a quickness. I’ve had to convince my wife that I really do want the 80% hamburger and no I don’t want to drain the fat.

    I actually cooked some angus burgers in a frying pan on low heat with a half of stick of butter and one onion the other day. I dumped it all into a bowl and let the meat swim in the melted butter and beef fat as I ate it :)

  • Bill

    With the 10% shrinkage in brain size, have we lost the power of developing a sixth sense? Did the Pleistocene humans have mental powers that have been diminished over time from the Neolithic up to the present?

    I hope “fativore” catches on. Brilliant!

  • Tim

    Love it! Glad you took a time out from skiing and general fun-hogging to get this Gnollsday’s post up! I’ve got a lucky situation where a handful of hunters and grass-raised beef ranchers give me kidney suet, marrow bones, and various organs for the cost of process/freezing. Cheap and abundant healthy animal fat for me and mine thanks to our current Government supported lowfat dogma.

    And my little 11 month old boy is taking a big liking to pemmican!

  • Nax

    Keep piling on the science, love it.

    Tim, would you be from Rapid City?
    I hail from Sturgis.

  • Tim

    Yup, howdy, Nax!

  • Brian Scott

    To what extent are external sources of glucose needed in humans? Since the Inuit have access to almost no vegetable sources of food, I’m guessing it’s completely unnecessary as long as you eat enough fat.

  • Janna:

    That's absolutely true in my experience.  If you're eating 'paleo' and still getting junk food cravings, odds are you're still trying to follow the Faileo Diet, e.g. 'low-fat' paleo as advocated by Cordain and (I think) DeVany.  I'm glad it's working for you!

    Kenny:

    Thanks for the encouragement.  These articles take some time to write, and it helps to know that others find them useful even if they don't want to argue about the topic!

    Bodhi:

    It's an interesting evolutionary niche, and there will most likely be another post about the details of how we got there.  Humans are very strange animals!

    Edwin:

    That sounds delicious!  I cooked a prime rib roast the other day, and ate all of it over the next two days: gristle, giant fat chunks, everything.  The more fat I eat along with meat, the better I feel — and I usually finish off dessert with some Greek yogurt which is over 3/4 fat!

    Bill:

    That's fascinating to speculate on, but I have no idea how one would go about investigating it.  But as I point out here, hunters were most likely far smarter than the agriculturalists that followed them…and their powers of observation and tracking would seem magical to any of us.

    Tim:

    Yes, low-fat dogma provides us with cheap fat.  I get free trimmings from the local butcher sometimes (although recently I got lazy and just bought a bunch of beef tallow outright).

    That's so great that your little kid likes pemmican!  It's a crime what most people feed their kids: slamming them instantly from a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet of mother's milk (necessary to grow a baby) immediately onto sugary, low-protein, low-fat pablum.  And then we wonder why so many are diabetic!  If we want our children to grow smart, healthy, and strong, we need to feed them eggs and fatty meat.

    And kids basically want to eat what you're eating.  If you're constantly sucking down candy and danishes with a look of bliss on your face, that's what they'll want too.  But if you're eating real food, that's what they'll want.  Babies don't know facts, but they know emotions perfectly…and they can tell when you're faking it.

    Nax:

    Much appreciated!  Stick around, I've got plenty more to say.

    Brian:

    Humans have no absolute need for carbohydrate: we can run mostly on ketones, and gluconeogenesis can provide enough glucose for us to live on.

    That being said, it may be less than optimally healthy to do so.  The Jaminets note that we convert ~15-20% of energy to glucose if we don't eat it directly, so we might as well eat that 15-20% ourselves and spare our body the extra effort.  (Unless we're trying to lose weight or maintain ketosis for other reasons, like treating epileptic seizures.)

     

    Thanks to everyone for contributing!  Regular feedback helps keep me writing.  And please spread these articles around: they're written to be understandable outside the paleo community.  We already know this stuff, entertaining though it is: it's the people with IBS, autoimmune disease, insulin resistance, and/or trapped in yo-yo diet hell who need to see it.  Hell, everyone should see it, because even if (like me) you have no frank diseases or problems, you'll still feel far better on an evolutionary suitable diet of high-fat paleo.

    JS

  • And just to plant my flag:

    Humans, being fativores, are a fativorous species that engages in frequent fativory.

    JS

  • Daniel

    Thanks for the interesting article. I agree with your argument that we are not natural vegans and we all crave fat.

    Regarding Kleiber’s law, it’s true that we need a high calorie and nutrient dense foods to maintain our large brains. While I agree that fatty meat can serve as one of those food, I think we should not forget the role of cooked starches like tubers in our evolution.

    There are compelling evidences that we can be starchivores too. Most of us have the amylase enzyme in our saliva. Also there are populations around the world that thrive on starches like rice, sweet potatoes and yams.

    Corn chips and potato chips taste good because they consist of both starch and fat. That’s why almost all the culture in this world eats starches paired with fat in their main meals. Eating starch by itself is not very appetizing as well as eating only fat and meat.

  • Check the links̷

    [...] Fat. [...]

  • Dana

    The arboreal theory says that all primates descend from a tree-canopy-dwelling mammal. What food is available in a tree canopy?

    Leaves, fruit… and bugs.

    One thing pretty much all primates have in common is that they loooove bugs. Even human beings who have not had the desire for insects tabooed out of them love bugs. And for those who do have the social taboo against partaking, we still eat things like crab and shrimp–which might as well be bugs, if very large ones with gills.

    Everybody looks at the leaves and the fruit when it comes to primate diets. Nobody seems to look at the bugs. Why is that?

    Daniel: I don’t think your big brain would stay big for long if you tried to meet its energy needs with starch. Food is not just fuel, it’s also spare parts, and the brain *requires* fat and cholesterol, structurally.

    We actually don’t make that much amylase. Getting by on starch is an energy fallback. We don’t *have* to do it. Our glucose requirement is roughly equivalent to about a teaspoon of sugar for the entire body, and that’s for cells that cannot get by on ketones or fatty acids. Which, not that many human cells meet that description.

    Fatty meat, not appetizing? That’s funny. Hilarious, even.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the article! I read it a few days ago and it took me re-reading it on some down time to really digest it.

    You are one-hundred percent on target. I’ve noticed that if I ‘cheat’ on a little bit of modern foods, like that office-provided cupcake for that birthday celebration, I never feel full and always crave more. Yet, when I eat something that’s “high-fat” (what is high-fat defined as really? I’ve never been able to figure this out), like a rib-eye steak, or new york cut and maybe some tubers with a bit of butter, I feel full extremely quickly. And I don’t feel hungry for a long time.

    Thanks for the awesome article, when people ask me how I get so much energy all the time (and why I eat the way I do), I point them to your site and tell them to ‘read and stop being lazy’ because you do a great job of breaking it down for everyone to understand (even though to some of us, it’s ‘common sense’).

  • Daniel:

    It's clear that modern humans have the facility to eat tubers: the question is when that become important for our evolution.

    Richard Wrangham claims that tuber-eating was the primary driver for leaving the equatorial forests, but “Catching Fire” makes claims about the domestication of fire ~1.6 MYA that are, to say the least, not universally accepted.  I think the case for bone marrow and brain consumption in the Pliocene (both very high in fat) is stronger, and that tuber-eating would have been at best contemporaneous with scavenging marrow and brains from dead megafauna, and at worst would have followed it.

    “Eating only fat and meat” isn't appetizing?  I disagree, especially in evolutionary time.  Pliocene hominids didn't have butter to spread on tubers, let alone fire to cook them: raw marrow, raw meat, and even raw brains beat raw ancestral yams and cassava.

    Dana:

    Termite-eating is well-known and understood, even if eating of other bugs is less so. All apes eat the bugs they groom off of each other AFAIK. And plenty of Asian cultures eat bugs: I think bug-phobia is mainly a Western thing.

    I agree that starch was probably a fallback: go hungry for a day or two, and you'll very quickly find you're inclined to eat just about anything that doesn't immediately kill you. Remember it's our ability to survive bad times that limits our evolutionary success, not our ability to get fat in good times.

    Chris:

    Writing these articles is part of my own learning process: if I can't explain things on a level most people can understand, odds are good I don't really understand it myself.  If I've really done my job, what I wrote will seem obvious, like common sense…but it's only common sense unless you understand the facts behind it and how they fit together.

    I'm working on an index to the site so that people can find information more quickly…look for it in the next couple of weeks.

    Thanks so much for supporting and spreading gnolls.org!

    JS

  • Cornelius

    JS,

    Again, a great article. It always makes me feel good to see you championing a way of eating that makes sense, both from a healthful and logical standpoint. As a race, we grew up eating fat, and then suddenly in the last half century or so, (which is just a fraction of a blink compared to the time we’ve been around) fat is supposed to be bad for us.

    I get so tired of people almost automatically putting negative adjectives in front of the word fat, like admonishing people to get rid of all that “nasty” fat. Or calling fat “grease,” which to me is the brown stuff that collects on rangehoods. And then there are the phrases like “heart-attack on a plate” when a dish contains a lot of fat.

    The truly sad thing is that so vast a majority of people just “know” all this to be so that, as you have mentioned before, we who know better are often treated like lunatics if we forget ourselves and say so.

    And so people try to eat “healthy,” but things like heart disease and diabetes run rampant, and drug companies line their pockets with the money from all the drugs that are only there to treat symptoms, (many of them, like cholesterol completely false) not cure diseases. And we are told things like eating a bowl of Cheerios every morning can make us healthier, and what is more, we owe it to our loved ones to be responsible and eat those Cheerios, even if we would much rather have (much healthier) bacon and eggs. And people buy into this, and the sales of Cheerios soar, despite the fact that there is not a shred of evidence that their claims are true. Bad science, yes, with skewed conclusions extrapolated from presuppositions, but no actual evidence.

    I remember a story concerning illegal dealers in controlled substances. However, the controlled substances in this case were not drugs, but were things like milk, eggs, butter, and bacon. Of course the story was science fiction. I really hope it does not turn out to be prophetic, as so much science fiction already has.

  • HeMan

    Cornelius:

    The story you reference is called “Lipidleggin’”, published in 1978. Way out there for the time… today, maybe not.

    http://billstclair.com/DoingFreedom/000623/df.0600.fa.lipidleggin.html

  • Cornelius:

    The worst part is that it isn't even science fiction. Denmark has already levied a tax on saturated fat. I wish I were joking.

    HeMan:

    Great catch!  The irony, of course, being that it's much closer to truth now than in 1978.  

    But we have the Internet and we have science, and there are more of us every day.  Keep spreading the paleo link love, whether it's to me or anyone else, and we'll win eventually — because real food tastes better.  Guilt and self-denial are bitter: saturated fat is delicious.

    JS

  • Kiran

    JS,

    Do you happen to have a link for that Dutch tax on saturated fat ?
    I looked around, but can’t find much.

    Kiran

  • Kiran:

    It's at the end of my latest article (link here).  And it's Denmark, not the Netherlands.  I've edited my previous comment to fix my mistake!

    JS

  • Richard Nikoley

    Serves me goddam right for not keeping up on your posts as I should and letting my RSS reader get ahead of me.

    Could have saved myself some good time chasing down good links for me debate preparation with this post alone.

  • Richard:

    I'm honored by the implied compliment.

    If you've got any last-minute questions, shoot me an email and I'll see if I've got any references: I've got quite a few articles in progress that I haven't posted yet.

    Of course, references will probably be an exercise in futility: the most important thing will probably be making sure you've got consistently hot levels from your microphone so you can shout down interruptions.  And don't let him put you on the defensive by throwing out so much unsupported bullshit that you can't debunk it: either interrupt him before he gets going for too long, or simply dismiss it and move onto building your own case.  Otherwise you just seem defensive because you spend all your time reacting.  “Creation scientists” like Duane Gish love this technique.

    Respect for picking up the gauntlet!

    JS

  • Dr. Couto

    “Our glucose requirement is approximately a teaspoon for the entire body…”?? How do you figure that when the brain’s main fuel source is glucose, requiring approximately 120 grams of glucose daily; and, only after three days of starvation does the body slowly begin to start using ketones as fuel for the brain?

    In regards to “people trying to eat “healthy,” but things like heart disease and diabetes running rampant,” I guarantee you someone truly living by society’s perception of a “healthy diet” – a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poly and monounsaturated fats without processed foods would not manifest the chronic diseases so prevalent in today’s society. Any diet – be it all animal based or society’s perception of a healthy diet – that provides the needed calories, fats, glucose, vitamins and minerals is a “healthy diet”. The problem with today’s society is the lack of caloric moderation and the lack of adequate acquirement of nutrients (because of the empty calorie eating pattern that is so common in our society). There are several studies that could link excessive meat intake to certain cancers and other chronic diseases: again, moderation is the key.

    While the main article appears to be scientifically sound, several of the reader’s comments seem to desire to justify their own lifestyle or diet with unsupported claims. The best way to get people to listen to you is to present claims that can be scientifically supported and to do your research in order to provide a valid answer for any doubts that may arise. Otherwise, you’re right, people will rightly dismiss you and completely disregard anything you say from then on.

    Don’t make the mistake of putting the same adjectives that you deem unfair to describe fat, “bad” or “unhealthy”, in front of a diet that you don’t choose for yourself. There are many diets and ways of lives that are completely suitable to maintain a state of optimum health, as long as all essential nutrients and moderation maintained.

  • Peggy

    Just curious, do you know what the gut of a rabbit looks like? They are quick, small brained, little vegetarians aren’t they? Does their smallness justify their itsy bitsy digestive system?

    I just have to add that the statement in Dr Couto’s previous comment is so trite: “Moderation is key.” Is it a good idea to breathe in moderation? What about exercising? Should we only do that a few times a week? Should Sloths maybe eat a little less leaves to keep themselves from becoming leaf gluttons? There are simply things we should do and should eat and there are things we shouldn’t. There actually is a right way, and that’s what J.S. was getting at here. There are a lot of problems with today’s society and one of them is that they don’t eat enough animal fat!

    The Eskimo’s 80% daily intake of fat could hardly be described as moderation, yet they were among the healthiest and happiest people on earth!

    Nice article! Keep up the good work.

  • Dr. Couto:

    Part of your message appears to be addressed to Dana, who's quite capable of defending herself, so I'll leave any response to her.

    Moving on: as far as moderation, it's a better strategy than gorging on junk,
    which is why studies show that a 'balanced diet' is superior to the SAD
    (Standard American Diet).  However, I agree with Peggy: just as a moderate
    intake of cigarettes is not better than zero intake of cigarettes, a
    “moderate” intake of grains and grain products (e.g. n-6 laden seed
    oils) is not better than zero intake. 

    And while there is some
    doubt about the relationship between meat and certain forms of cancer
    (although AFAIK it's mostly with processed meat, which I avoid), the
    problems caused by anti-nutrients and metabolic disruptors in grains, particularly gluten grains, are very well understood.  (Lectins, phytate, wheat germ agglutinin, exorphins…)

    If grains are so nutritious, how come we have to 'fortify' them in order for us not to suffer deficiency diseases?  We don't have to 'fortify' meat or eggs in order to make them nutritious…we 'fortify' grains in order to give us the nutrients we should be getting from meat and eggs!

    And to be clear, I'm not advocating zero-carb or an all-meat diet.  I'm advocating eating the foods densest in nutrition.

    Peggy:

    Rabbits are politely termed 'cecotrophs': they eat their own poop in order to absorb the nutrients created by fermentation in their colon, but which they couldn't absorb the first time through.

    I'm not a relativist when it comes to questions of fact.  I agree with you: there is a right answer, even if we don't know it yet, and it is not “the average of the existing answers”.  I'm open to further evidence, but this (and everything on this website) is the best of my understanding so far.

    Thank you for your support!

    JS

  • Bill DeWitt

    ““Our glucose requirement is approximately a teaspoon for the entire body…”?? How do you figure that”

    An adult has about 5 liters of blood, or 50 dl. Multiplying the level per deciliter by 50, then dividing by 1,000 to convert milligrams into grams, gives total sugar in grams. The low end of the healthy range, 70, works out to 3.5 g. The high end, 100, comes to 5 g.

  • Emily

    This makes total sense. I couldn’t understand why eating tons of nearly fat-free white meat chicken breast wasn’t keeping me full for hours! After all, it’s protein isn’t it? Since I got off the low-fat merry-go-round I have more energy than in the last 30 years since it became popular. What a disservice. And doctors? Don’t get me started on how little most of them know. My mother’s cholesterol is high. She eats low-fat, low salt, and takes a statin. The doctor told her absolutely no dark meat poultry and very few eggs. OMG.

  • Bill:

    That's how I've always understood it.

    Emily:

    Protein is satiating in that you don't want to eat too much of it…but it won't make you feel full.  My experience with high-protein, low-fat eating is that I spend all my time hungry but not wanting to eat.  Isn't it wonderful to have energy again…and in a form that doesn't put you on the blood sugar rollercoaster?

    As far as your mother, doctors are giving very definite advice based on, quite literally, a couple hours of training: here's a med student describing exactly what your doctor learned in med school.  It's not much, and it's blatantly wrong.  You might show her that article.

    Does your mother realize that statins are known to be ineffective for women of any age — and that her doctor is a quack for prescribing them to her?  Does she realize that total cholesterol is completely unrelated to mortality for women of any age?  Does she realize that low cholesterol is associated with higher mortality with people above retirement age?  

    I think she needs to read Dr. Kendrick's “The Great Cholesterol Con”…and if you can't get her to do that, at least put her on CoQ10, which will mitigate the worst of the effects.  I'm sorry she's being given terrible advice, and I wish I could help.

    JS

  • eddie

    i hate the moderation line, it really is silly and yet when i point out obvious problems with it:
    so i’ve never been hit with a car, what speed is moderate for these purposes? 20mph? oh i’ve never done heroin, maybe half a syringe is moderate? never smoked so maybe half a cigarette daily? falled a great distance, maybe a 6 foot fall will be good for me?
    etc etc
    i’m looked at as though i’m saying something stupid even though it is the same thing as they are saying!

  • eddie:

    Exactly.  “Moderation” is often a cover for “we don't know whether something is good or bad, but we're supposed to have an opinion”.  And sometimes it's a cover for “we're sure this is bad but don't think you've got the will to actually give it up”.

    JS

     

  • Guy

    Cool article.
    Though I must ask about the glucose part: you said our liver isn’t very good at converting protein to glucose.. so we need to get glucose from somewhere right?, so that’s when the fat comes in?
    I’m just not sure I understood that, the fat turns into glucose?

  • Guy:

    Fat cannot be converted into glucose.  

    A small amount of glucose is released by burning triglycerides, which is how most of our fat is transported and stored, but it's not enough.  In the absence of dietary carbohydrate, our liver covers our glucose needs by converting protein (i.e. amino acids) into glucose. This is why zero-carb or low-carb diets need to be higher in protein than moderate or high-carb diets.

    Fat can't convert to anything but energy.

    Glucose can be converted to fat (slowly, in limited amounts).

    Protein can be converted to glucose (slowly, in limited amounts, though more quickly than glucose->fat).

    JS

  • Guy

    Okay I got it now, thanks for the good explanation!

  • This seems to be a good place to ask a direct question about fat.

    I took it forgranted that the paleo diet focusses on meat as the primary source of nutrition and took it as read that natural, fatty meat would be preferred. After reading some more from Cordain and Wolf, and checking out some considerations of what is different between the paleo and primal diets I found that the paleo diet (according to Cordain, less so Wolf) seems averse to fat! Leaner meats and less fat is prescribed.

    Okay, I appreciate that this place is paleo-inspired and not necessarily paleo-pure, more so the “predator” diet is possibly a sub-strand of paleo. How do you (JS) see your gnoll approach compared to paleo, as described by Cordain or Wolf? Are there significant differences?

    I think we're on the same page – I am an ardent advocate of fat in meat and tend to shun the leaner cuts. Furthermore, I notice that some forms of dairy are tolerated in the gnoll world … and even some forms of “processing”, like butter, yoghurt and some cheeses.

    I guess I'm asking, is the gnoll diet a third arm of pre-historic nutritional approaches? Paleo, Primal and Gnoll? Perhaps, dare I say it, more “mesolithic” – hunter/gatherers AND homesteaders who could process some of the excess in order to preserve or store it.

  • Paul:

    Indeed, the fat question is the Great Divide in the paleo community.

    Early proponents, like Cordain and DeVany (and Robb Wolf, who is a Cordain protege) argue that the ancestral diet was relatively low in fat, and we should emulate that because saturated fat is harmful in some way.  The consensus has gradually shifted away from this view: Mark Sisson is fat-positive, the Jaminets' Perfect Health Diet is explicitly 60-65% fat, and the rest of the current paleo proponents (e.g. Kurt Harris, Jamie Scott, Emily Deans, Richard Nikoley, Melissa McEwen, myself) are all solidly pro-saturated fat.  (As are the WAPF people like Masterjohn and Guyenet.)

    My analysis of the fat content of our ancestral diet, and of the Cordain papers which all the anti-fat arguments reference, can be found here: Saturated Fat Is Most Definitely Paleo.

    I believe it's instructive that the Cordain argument keeps changing.  First saturated fat was uniformly bad: then, as of Robb Wolf's book, only palmitic acid was bad (which raises the interesting question “Then why does our body always choose to store excess energy as palmitic acid?”). Now it's “palmitic acid is only really bad in the presence of excess carbohydrate”.  In other words, the goalposts keep moving.  

    I think it's much more reasonable to assume that the population studies are correct, metabolism works the way we think it does, and saturated fat is not only not bad for us — it's our most efficient source of energy.

    The dairy argument is similar: it's possible to argue against casein (a major milk protein) and lactose (milk sugar), but if you claim it's OK to eat meat, it's very difficult to simultaneously claim you shouldn't eat butterfat.

    To me, what paleolithic people did or didn't eat is a starting point for research, and a way to debunk obviously silly claims about diet and exercise.  I'm most interested in what science tells us about human metabolism, and how we can use that knowledge to optimize our health using the foods at our disposal today, right now.  Paleolithic humans didn't wander around picking Paleolithic broccoli.

    Dr. Harris calls this approach “Paleo 2.0″, which is correct but not very catchy.  I've simply been calling myself and others “paleo”, because as I've already mentioned, the community has very much moved on from its “lean meats and veggies ONLY” days.  This is where paleo is, right now, versus Cordain's book which is basically a snapshot of ten years ago.

    I'm a bit loath to give it a unique name, because it's not unique to me: it's a place that many of us came to independently.  Although if I write a book, it'll most likely be titled “Eat Like A Predator,” after my guide to paleo eating, and I admit to liking the ring of “The Predator Diet” or “The Gnoll Diet”.  What do you think?

    JS

  • I have read Dr Harris' article 'Paleo 2.0' and thought it very useful in redefining some of the original concepts of the Cordain model. It has to compromise because we don't live in paleo times anymore. Paleo as a term referring to the broad community of paleo eaters is more useful – paleo meaning “ancient” rather than “paleolithic”, as Harris puts it.

    The 'Predator Diet' is a unique principle, although the resulting diet is perhaps not distinct enough in its own right. How about the 'Predator Principle'?

    I'd call myself a predator, not a paleo. Your novel has “been dispatched” from Amazon, so I'm yet to find out if I'm a gnoll.

  • gollum

    Whatever the benefits of this theory, it is very interesting to look at the biochemistry of cats.
    Their glucose generation basically runs on overdrive, and then some. They generate significant amounts of energy from protein, which would not be recommended for humans because it would just nuke our kidneys. Also, their metabolism can basically do nothing. This fatty acid to that fatty acid enzyme, well, cats just does not have it. Carbs are poison, etc. The best cat food would be a mouse (with fur)

  • gollum:

    That makes sense: if you're exclusively eating other mammals, you can probably assume that their biochemistry is close enough to yours to simply use whatever they've incorporated into their own tissues, as opposed to making it yourself out of grasses or leaves.

    Do you know of a good information source (online or print) for learning about non-human digestive biology?

    JS

  • gollum

    If I remember correctly, the lack of enzymes was more due to “neglect” than “optimization” [Spelling: "cats do not" of course, or "the cat does not"], i.e. they fell into disrepair because external sources were always available, sort of like vitamin C that humans cannot make while most other animals can.

    I had read a great PDF file that explained it all, but I cannot seem to find it again – it probably had some ingenious name like p_ben_2008_rev.pdf (“paper from Ben 2008 revised”).

    There seems to be an analogous movement in pet foods; raw feeders and BARFers usually nave nice information.
    Though evolution only cares about making the next generation, not quality of life, kitty seems to be better off with that than with the usual starch and sugar byproducts sold as “cat food”.

  • Ray

    A couple of interesting studies regarding Vitamin c .

    Unlike the more than 4,000 other species of mammals who manufacture vitamin C, and lots of it, the red blood cells of the handful of vitamin C-defective species are specially equipped to suck up the vitamin’s oxidized form, so-called L-dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), the researchers report in the March21st issue of Cell, a publication of Cell Press. Once inside the blood cells, that DHA–which is immediately transformed back into ascorbic acid (a.k.a. vitamin C)–can be efficiently carried through the bloodstream to the rest of the body, the researchers suggest.

    Came across a study during the past months on low carb and weight reduction , most interesting was the conclusion comment …. “Surprisingly there was an increase of plasma vitamin c in the high fat diet group ” … or words very close to that .

  • gollum:

    Evolution works on a “use it or lose it” basis: random mutations tend to mess things up rather than improve them, and if there is no positive selection pressure to retain a trait, it tends to rot away over time.

    I suspect the rising incidence of pet diabetes has a lot to do with feeding grains to carnivores.

    Ray:

    I found an abstract of a paper that details the Vitamin C recycling pathway, but I'll have to dig some more to figure out what dietary relevance it might have.

    JS

  • Keegan

    I agree with the negative affects associated with grains, as we now consume them. But when soaked or fermented the anti nutrient present in them is no longer a problem. I am currently trying the paleo diet and testing to see how it affects me, becuase that is what I have done with all diets, constantly seeking.. But I wonder if you are takeing into account the differences between a traditional sourdough bread, and a mondern day version of bread? A soaked grain or nut, vs and unsoaked one? Also eating fats with grains such as bread and butter or olive oil helps absorb the nutrients as well as slow down the insulin spike, which is a benefit to milk and cookies (which i am not advocating :)
    Also one of the most intriguing dietary philosophy I have looked into is ayurveda. A key principle is eating with the seasons, more fat and protien in the winter, more bitter herbs and cleansing foods in spring, and more carbohydrates in the summer for the longer days and more intense activity. Now being that eskimos live in a “wintery region” year around it would make sense that they would do well on a diet consisting soley of fat and protien. Where as a person living in a tropical enviroment might do well on a diet consisting of alot of fruit. So depending on the seasons and the regions and the lifestyle, a person could require vastly different diets.
    I am not trying to argue just merely learning and applying to see what works, I would like your thoughts, thanks.

  • Naturally, geography and climiate have a huge influence on the diet the diet that was available to and eaten by paleolithic man. That said, we should not underestimate just how far people may have hunted and gathered, nor how far migratory herds would have travelled, perhaps followed by tribes.

    Scandinavians following the reindeer would have had an entirely different diet to central Africans – both would have chased down meat, but the vegetation available to either would be entirely different. There are also freak occurrences, like coconuts turning up in Scotland because of the way that tides move. And so, the final thing worth considering is plate tectonics – the landmass was an entirely different shape.

    It is something that requires more thought and could be fleshed out a little, but the principle remains the same – meat, fish, eggs and veggies; in abundance.

    Today, we have much better access to variety. The notion of seasonality is something which I try to follow. I certainly know what is new and in season where I live. Afterall, once the food giants have killed off food through engineering, we will have to fall back on nature and having an understanding of what is seasonal will give some people an upper hand.

    Looking at micro-diets is a really interesting one. Not necessarily ancient man, but the likes of Innuits or Tarahumara who have very specialised diets give us “the exception the proves the rule”. Food for thought.

  • Sandy Soto

    I’m trying to wrap my head around that calculation Bill did on blood sugar and some things are not connecting.

    I take it’s based on fasting blood sugar levels? Lab ranges are not equal to optimal ranges, so 70 may not be the ideal number.

    That number is a snapshot of the blood sugar levels for a given moment rather than a daily total. Are you saying that 1 tsp of glucose PER DAY is enough to maintain it all day long? Or that it takes 1 tsp of glucose to bring your levels up to this number? Not quite sure what you’re saying.

    Also this does not take into account fluctuations in glucose requirement, such as during increased stress, or someone with a damaged metabolism – as I found out the hard way.

    Thanks for clarifying.

  • Keegan:

    “No longer a problem” is perhaps an exaggeration.  Soaking and sprouting definitely reduces the anti-nutrient and toxin load, but it doesn't eliminate it — and I find it simpler just to avoid the stuff in the first place.

    I agree that there may be benefit to seasonality in diet: eating the same thing year-round seems limited to tropical people living off of coconuts and fish.  It's cheaper anyway, and it's better to eat locally produced foods for many different reasons.  I'm not sure how much racial variation there is, though: for instance, the Maasai get atherosclerosis just like everyone else when they eat a normal Western diet.

    Paul:

    Plate tectonics is slow, and things were mostly in the same place 3 million years ago.

    What changed a lot, due to climactic fluctuations that became severe enough to cause ice ages, was (and is) sea level.  For instance, every time it dropped far enough, North America would be joined to Russia via “Beringia”, and during warm periods (like now), that land bridge would disappear.

    As far as Tarahumara, diet isn't the only factor in health.  It just seems like it when you (and I) live in a Western nation with unlimited access to any kind of food.

    Sandy:

    Two teaspoons is what's in your blood circulation at any given moment.  Your body is always using glucose (your brain requires it) and your liver releases it into the bloodstream to maintain safe levels when it's not being directly absorbed by your intestine.  So it's an interesting fact, but not totally relevant to glucose intake or use.

    AFAIK a human body not in ketosis requires about 15-20% of maintenance calories as glucose, more under intense physical effort.  If you don't ingest it, your liver has to make it from amino acids…which is why low carb AND low protein are a dangerous combination.  

    JS

  • AmyNVegas

    J.- If this is how we function best (which I totally agree with)why then can a high fat meal cause an un-needed release of insulin from the pancreas even when almost no carbohydrate is present in the meal- like an omelet with cheese and bacon with about 3-4 gm carb? Any links that might help me understand this phenomena?

  • AmyNVegas:

    Fat by itself doesn't cause insulin release AFAIK, but protein most certainly does.  Basically our body only has the one storage hormone — insulin — which causes both carbohydrate and protein to be stored.  

    When we eat protein without carbs, our body also pumps out some glucagon to keep our blood sugar up — otherwise the insulin would make our blood sugar plummet dangerously.  Insulin isn't unhealthy, and it's just doing its job of forcing nutrients into cells: it's when we overload ourselves with carbs and have no place to store them that insulin becomes chronically elevated.

    JS

  • JimC

    It’s a quirky one but has stuck in my mind: in the book “across the empty quarter” by Wilfred Thessiger which describes the author’s experiences in the sahara (?) desert in the earlyish part of the 20th century (i.e. as one of the first westerners to go there) he talks about a kind of feast he and his ‘native’/ nomadic guides had after days of starvation whilst travelling in the desert with supplies having run out – he clearly observes/ comments on the fact that that whilst he was overwhelmed with cravings for carb type foods and was drawn to these (mainly dates I think) his companions were much more interested in fat (butter, ghee I think) which they apparently ate until it was running down their chins!

  • JimC:

    I wonder what Thessiger's build was like?  If he still had some extra bodyfat, he would probably crave carbs to replete glycogen, because he'd only been starving for days…whereas his native guides would likely be rail-thin and crave the densest calorie source, e.g. fat.

    Thanks for the reference!  I've been reading some interesting books about deserts, so I may have to add that one to the list.

    JS

  • Steven

    Hello. I read the article, Why humans crave fat, and also somehow an article I think was linked there about the rabbit syndrome or something like that. I have a question about the rabbit or lean meat diet. The guy ate only lean meat and said it lead to weakness and even death. I can’t see how this could be. I don’t see any reason given, physiologically. Fat provides calories only, and lean meat provides this. I don’t recall if the guy ate carbs or not, but it is universally agreed we don’t need carbs. We may “crave” fat, but I just don’t see why lean meat would not be sufficient. If the avoidance of fat were so deleterious than how would one explain the multitudes on low-fat diets, who are not dropping dead due to lack of fat? Why would this explorer say that lean meat is an unsustainable diet, while whole multitudes subscribe to low-fat diets, eating close to no fat whatsoever.

  • Steven:

    Actually, lean meat doesn't provide calories directly.

    Unlike fat, which our cells use directly for energy, our cells can't burn amino acids (the building blocks of protein) for fuel.  Our livers have to convert the protein into glucose first…and as I explain in the article, the liver's ability to do that is limited to a rate far below our daily energy needs.

    As far as others surviving on low-fat diets, those diets are all very high in carbohydrate, which (like fat) our cells can burn directly for fuel.

    JS

  • steven

    I would like to thank you for this great website! I really think you are on to the truth here! The obesity problem has only gotten vastly worse with the low-fat, high-carb diets; meanwhile one day the gov may tax fatty foods, which is of course precisely the opposite of what ought be done. I remain fearful of fatty meats, I admit. We have been told that only olive oil is acceptable universally. Yet you make a case for eating animal fat. Do you also think people should not take fat-lowering drugs, like trilipix? And, are you concerned about the high omega 6 in meat fat and coconut oil?

    Finally, I think you might call this the Neitzschean Diet, because he, in late 1800′s as I recall, was critical of the grazing we do, as well as the decadence of French pastries. He felt the digestion was best with three solid meals and no snacks, to turn it on or off, but not Mr. Inbetween. I don’t think he was specific as to what to eat, but if he was I am sure he would have blasted the Kellogg’s concept of stripping one’s instinctual energies. I happen to think your idea of eating like a primitive has the power to turn around the obesity epidemic as well as to empower individuals.
    Do you have specific recommendations for blood sugar issues and DM? And, wouldn’t the high-caloric value of fat lead to gaining weight also? Fat does have a lot of calories.
    Please forgive me, but I have only read a limited amount of your writings so far so you may have answered these points. I am continuing to read and I feel somehow very sure that I am going to take this up for real. The idea of eating and exercising like a predator is powerful and empowering. I think Neitzsche would bless you, if he believed in God.

  • steven:

    I'm not a fan of cholesterol-lowering drugs in general, because cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease.  (“Cholesterol” isn't even what's being measured by a “cholesterol test”: lipoproteins are being measured, and lipoproteins carry all sorts of things around.) 

    If you really want to get geeky with the science, try Chris Masterjohn:

    http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2011/03/genes-ldl-cholesterol-levels-and.html

    And, of course, low cholesterol is associated with less heart disease…but more deaths from infectious disease and other killers.  See the graph at the top of this article:

    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3836

    200-240 TC is the range of lowest all-cause mortality.  It's frankly criminal that we're told to medicate ourselves outside that range.

    Meanwhile, here's the classic meta-study on saturated fat:

    Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr Jan 2010

    “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.

    Moving on: Nietzsche was an intriguing person, and despite (like all other pre-Darwinian philosophers) fumbling around in the dark, managed to come up with some startling insights, apparently completely by instinct.  I suspect you're correct and that he would agree with the concept!

    As far as fat having lots of calories: it also slows gastric emptying and absorption, leaving you full (and not hungry) for much longer than if you avoid it.  See this article.

    “Do I have specific recommendations for blood sugar issues and DM?”

    Absolutely: eat like a predator. 

    It's simple.  Are you healthy?  Eat right.  Are you unhealthy?  Eat right.  It's rare to suffer any sort of special condition that requires a diet unhealthy for most.

    JS

  • Steven

    Thanks, JS, for this reply. I have read more from the site by now. Yet, still I have some unclarity.

    You admit that most body cells need glucose. So, the cavemen needed root starches, as meat contains none. Thus, carbs are needed for energy, as protein and fat are inefficient energy sources for glucose (fat does not convert at all to glucose). Carbs are the most efficient source of energy then. If root veggies were not available then how did they get energy, glucose, which is so badly needed? They got energy from fats, but where’s the glucose? Does your diet advocate carbs and if so, how much?

    If one is not to gain weight from eating fat, then the satiety caused by the fat has to exceed that which one would have eaten otherwise, but I am not sure that this would happen. Fat is so high in calories that people seeking to lose wt avoid it and go lean. They may then eat carbs, but you agree that cavemen also needed carbs, not just animal meat and fat, because of the need for glucose, so I don’t see how no-carb is justified, if that is your argument.

    On exercise: wouldn’t walking on treadmill burn fat better than sprinting? I think at low intensity one burns fat, and high intensity you burn carbs, since carbs are better and more efficient sources? Isn’t that an argument for low intensity to burn fat stores?

    It is still difficult to get past the intuitive notion that we don’t need fat; we may crave it, but if we are too fat as it is, it seems to suggest eating lean meat, maybe with some fat. but, to add fat to the diet only adds calories, which would seem to negate the savings from snacking. I am not convinced the body needs fats, at all, and not more than in the “lean” meats most eat. The body converts carbs to fat anyhow so we always have access to fat.
    PLease don’t misunderstand. I am excited and impressed with the paleo diet, but I don’t understand enough of it. I think it is right somehow and that these processed carbs and grain in general is effeminate. I am not sure that the slower gi time, and greater satiety would balance the extreme high caloric density of fat, including meat and milk fat. And if the lengua franca of the body is glucose, I don’t see how this works, in that protein converts inefficiently and fat not at all.
    Thanks for reading this.

  • Steven:

    Either I haven't been clear in my writing, or you've misunderstood something.  This is excusable, since vegetarian propaganda is full of trivially false statements like “Nothing can be burned for energy without first being converted to carbs,” which is on the order of “The earth is flat, and if you try to sail to India you'll fall off.”  I've had published authors of nutrition books tell me that with a straight face.  It's madness!

    The overwhelming majority of cells in our bodies, including our muscles, can run completely on fat, and are more efficient when doing so. 

    Aside from a few small random tissues here and there, the only organ that absolutely requires glucose is our brain.  If I recall correctly, this is because fats are too big to cross the blood-brain barrier, while glucose isn't.  And if you stay in ketosis for a while, the brain's needs for glucose decrease (by about half AFAIK) because it switches over to running partially on ketones, which are also small enough to cross the BBB.

    Unfortunately the brain is very, very important, so we need to maintain some level of blood glucose in order to supply it.  This is why low blood sugar makes us tired and confused, and if it goes too low, we pass out and die.

    Also, fat is a far more efficient source of energy than carbs.  Fat oxidation (“beta-oxidation”) produces far more ATP per unit weight of substrate than glucose oxidation (“glycolysis”), which is why fat has ~9 calories per gram while carbs have only ~4.  Furthermore, beta-oxidation produces less byproducts to dispose of.

    A healthy person, at rest, is burning over 90% fat and less than 10% glucose.  Our muscles only increase their glucose usage during periods of intense physical effort (over 50% of VO2max), because we can only store a relatively small amount of glycogen in our muscles.  High fasting glucose usage at rest is a product of mitochondrial dysfunction: more on this subject here, in Part IV of “Why Are We Hungry”.

    The “lingua franca” of our body is fat, not glucose: otherwise our body would store all of its energy as glucose, and our fat cells would be full of sugar, not fat.

     

    As far as “fat being high in calories”, that is technically true but totally misleading.  Did you know that rice cakes are more calorically dense than prime rib?  Part V handily debunks that particulay myth.

    I don't advocate zero-carb except as a temporary weight-loss tool, for people with severely broken metabolisms due to mitochondrial dysfunction (there are some), or to treat epilepsy, migraines, etc.  My current long-term recommendations are a Perfect Health Diet-ish 15-20% of calories from glucose for a normal, moderately sedentary person, and they increase somewhat for those who are regularly exercising intensely.

    As I've explained above, yes, “jogging” burns fat directly vs. sprinting: however, since you're only burning ~100 calories per mile, you would have to jog 35 miles WITHOUT EATING ONE EXTRA CALORIE in order to lose a pound of fat.  Would jogging 35 miles make you hungry?  You bet.  What's most important in weight loss is to regain metabolic flexibility — the ability to burn fat at rest, instead of carbs.  Then you're losing weight any time you're not eating or digesting food.  And the way to do that is short, intense exercise that depletes glycogen stores and allows us to store the glucose we eat as glycogen, instead of having to burn it for energy and store it as fat.  (See this article.)

    I hope this clarifies some issues!

    JS

  • Steven

    Thanks, J.S. I guess I am dense when it comes to this stuff. I need some time to review this, but I came across something last night which is disturbing and I wonder what you think of it. I stumbled on Ray Peat’s site, and he makes a critique of fish oil, not on grounds of pollution, but on its own accord. He says that studies which show dangers have been suppressed. Now I don’t know if I should continue taking it or not. It is the common wisdom that it is safe, but not to go overboard. I thought omega 3′s were the way to go. Now, I don’t know. In the comments section I see people arguing for flax seed oils, which you are against, saying it is safer than fish oil. Just when I thought there was rock solid certainty, someone comes along and unsettles it. At this point I think the best thing is just to do the opposite of whatever the medical/pharmaceutical establishment says; that seems the safest bet. Will they ever admit that their stupid diet is what caused the obesity epidemic? Can they revert to sat fat diet after all this, even if they knew the truth?

  • Steven:

    No, you're not dense: there is a lot of conflicting information out there, much of it plausible even though it's wrong.  And I haven't written an article on every subject.

    FYI, I don't agree with the idea that we need to take huge amounts of EPA/DHA (e.g. Dr. Davis): instead, we should absolutely minimize PUFA consumption by never consuming seed oils (“vegetable oil”), minimizing chicken intake, and maximizing red meat intake — and during times where we're not getting meaningful amounts of n-3 via fatty fish, we should take perhaps ~1g each of EPA and DHA to make sure we're replete, which comes to well under 1% of calories.  I'm open to new data on this — but given a modern diet that includes grain-fed meat and incidentally unavoidable seed oils and all the known benefits of EPA/DHA, my current thinking is that ensuring a low but steady intake is prudent.

    The book that describes my own diet most closely, by the way, is the Perfect Health Diet…and their blog is also very much worth reading.

    As far as “Will they ever admit…?”  No.  They'll slowly change their tune over time, without ever having admitted that they were flat wrong and killed millions of people.  Personally I expect coconut oil to be rehabilitated first, because it's a plant and they'll be able to say “Actually it's only animal saturated fats that are bad, plant fats are fine.”  But even that will take years, by which time millions more will die.

    JS

  • Steven

    Hi, JS:

    I perused all the indexed articles and nowhere have I seen your defense against the almost universally accepted association of red meat with colon cancer. I believe the world cancer association, and many medical associations make this argument. I guess they do not distinguish between deli meats and non-deli meats, which might be your defense, but I doubt they are that stupid. Where can I read your defense against that argument? The article on meat not rotting in gut seemed to be the closest, but it did not go into this point.
    Thanks for helping me sort this out. I dread losing that part of my anatomy, and it has been drilled into the public that red meat is highly associated with colon cancer, I think, in men particularly.

  • Steven:

    I can't cover every possible subject of concern, so I'll hand that one over to Jamie Scott:

    http://thatpaleoguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/carnosine…..ancer.html

    Takeaway: vegetarians are more likely to get bowel cancer than meat-eaters (link to AJCN paper).  Like most anti-meat propaganda, “red meat causes colon cancer” is made-up baloney.

    Edit to add: And the most likely reason is that they're driven by ethical concerns, so they bend the science in an attempt to convert the people who aren't persuaded by the ethical arguments.  (Which are mostly hogwash…but that's another article.)

    JS

  • Steven

    WOW. Just read all that stuff you linked. I can’t believe how I have been persuaded by the birdseed brigade, on so many points, one of which is that eating beef is a very inefficient way to get protein, based on how much grain they need to eat, etc. I never saw a rebuttal of that until now (article bashing the ethical superiority of vegetarianism). I can’t believe Denmark is taxing butter, eggs and meat; it’s a nightmare. You can see it beginning in US too, with a sugar tax on beverages (I think it was defeated), which would lead to a fat tax inevitably. They need to rein in diabesity, no doubt, but I fear they will do it precisely as Denmark did, which set a precedent, and attack the same foods. The Paleo message, no, actually I should say “basic science” is not getting out to the public.
    Funny, odd story. I tried to buy grass-fed beef at a kosher market, and the owner, a vegetarian (?) had it, BUT, he mixes it with grain-fed beef, not distinguishing between them. Aghast, I asked why and he responded that his customers just care about kosher. I tried to tell him he is wrong and that he should put out grass-fed separately, but he would not believe there is a market for it. How can a butcher think that? He has the grass-fed and mixes it. So, I do not have anywhere to buy grass-fed beef right now.

  • Steven:

    Tell your butcher you'll pay him a bit extra for grass-fed, tell him what cuts you want and how much of each you'll buy, and I bet he'll save some for you.  Money talks.

    Don't count on the message getting out to the public by normal means: as I explain here, there is a lot of profit to be made by pushing expensive products made from artificially cheap raw materials.  We'll have to keep moving it forward by ourselves, one person at a time.

    JS

  • Steven

    Sorry to bother you again, but I am having trouble figuring out which are the fatty cuts of beef; what do you recommend? All the sites I find are biased towards lean, and I have not been a beef eater for decades, so I really don’t know beef. I ate maybe four hotdogs a year. I cannot afford the best, marbled cuts, which is what I see in researching this. I am looking for the cheaper, fatty, cuts. I think it’s complicated because tougher cuts require more involved cooking, so perhaps you can point me to an article by someone where this is gone into a bit? I regularly go to India, where they, for good reasons, don’t eat cows, given that, after it has given you curd, milk, and ghee for many years, it is heartless then to eat it as soon as it cannot give milk. But, your argument is so convincing look at me now!I might foray into goat now that I have said this. Do you think highly of goat, because I reckon it might priced lower than beef, but I never thought about it. There must be a reason no one eats it though. There’s no McDonald goat burger, after all. Your article on veggies rotting in the gut, not meat, has pushed me further away from my usual fare. To think of animal fat as good is as far from my intuitions as conceivable. Lean meat is as far as I thought I could go, but I am getting convinced of the fat argument, almost to my utter disgust. Even Atkins never stressed animal fat, only protein, so this is radical. I have never seen animal fat spoken of in positive terms until this site, and I am still digesting it, so to speak. It don’t go down easy.
    Thanks for this incredibly evocative site.

  • Steven:

    Are you looking to buy mail-order, or to tell your butcher what to get?

    The cheapest fatty cut is cheap hamburger…the more fat, the cheaper it gets.  80/20 is universal, but a lot of places will sell 73/27. 

    A lot of it has to do with whether the cut is trimmed or not: most cuts start with a huge lip of fat around the edge, which the butcher trims off because most people are fat-phobic.  If you have a local butcher, you can ask him to leave more of the fat on.

    Rib steaks have a lot of fat but are expensive: chuck has a lot of fat
    and is cheaper, but has a lot more connective tissue and is tougher. 
    Tri-tip is an American cut of bottom sirloin (in many countries they
    just grind it for hamburger) that is well-marbled and has a lot of fat
    if you get it untrimmed. 

    I can't write you a guide to beef cuts, but this is a good start:

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Beef#American_primal_cuts

    Also, you can read this list and do exactly the opposite:

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cuts-of-beef/MY01387

    JS

  • Brisket is my clear favourite – great slow-cooker and such amazing flavour.

    I don't even concern myself with the fat content – for me, fat means flavour and even before moving over to paleo this was a “cultinary fact” for northern English culture. Same for butter, same for cream – just eat it!

    Steven – Without moving over to paleo, I would have had no idea that it is excess carbohydrate which keeps us fat. It really is contrary to conventional wisdom, but we've held out against conventional wisdom for a long time here “up north”. Cutting out all grains and beans has been my major step into paleo. I never ate processed food and almost no sugar. I do maintain dairy – culturally, we're very tolerant and the probiotics in fermented dairy are great! Dairy is a paleo treat and it is easy to consume a lot of fat and calories very quickly with dairy – use it wisely.

    Have fun! I hope you enjoy your journey into paleo.

  • Steven

    Thanks, guys. I confess it is difficult to contend when even the sites selling meat tell you to go lean. Animal fat has few supporters, even the cattlemen, so your voices help me.
    I just ate chicken which was lean; should I have taken some coconut oil after the meal? I am conscious when eating lean meat now, so I would appreciate knowing what you do when you eat lean poultry.
    I still eat goat’s milk yogurt, since even though it is pasteurized, they add the bacteria again. I still fear the calories in animal and all fat, and worry that I am just adding extra calories, while wanting to lose pounds.

  • I wouldn't obsess too much about it. When you've a moment (or two), read J's articles on satiety and satiation. Eating paleo is about eating normally and naturally – eat well, eat real food and remove all traces of things which will contribute biochemically to your early death, so grains, beans, some pulses, sugar and all processed foods.

    Again, don't obsess – if you have something sweet, great! Enjoy it! Don't make sugar a principle source of energy; make fat your principle source of energy. Carbohydrate is fine – there are carbs in all sort of things, but keep them down. Blowing out on a baked potato once a week for one meal is also fine – metabolic flexibility, and again J has an article on this.

    Did I say don't obsess? If you eat lean meat, that's fine. Chicken is good, but do enjoy the skin and do enjoy those darker meats like the thighs, which make an excellent two hour stew. If you eat lean beef, lamb, whatever, great! Throw some avocado oil over a salad with it, maybe eat some guacamole with it, toss some streaky bacon through cabbage or any other idea for adding a little fat in.

    You don't need to measure – just eat! Eat good, real food, making meat, fish, eggs and vegetables your plate every time. Easy … you'll find your balance … and you'll undertstand that balance after reading the 'satiation series'.

  • Steven:

    Paul has it nailed, and I've said this before…

    Eating real whole foods that are rich in fat is good.  Adding a bunch of fat to something because you think it'll make you lose weight is counterproductive.

    So: eat fatty cuts of meat, sautee your veggies in coconut oil and butter (ghee, if you're in India…make sure to get real ghee, not the fake stuff that is basically margarine), use the leftover bacon grease to cook hash browns and/or eggs, use extra-virgin olive oil on your salads.  But don't be chugging heavy cream because you think it'll make you lose weight.

    JS

  • Steven

    I am wondering if the cattle these days have been bred for less fat just like the manipulation of crops?

    I bought and prepared chuck steak, which was not bad, but I wonder if it would have been more fatty in the past?

    Thanks.

  • Steven:

    Much of the variation comes in the butchering: since most people are fat-phobic, butchers trim steaks closely, e.g. they trim most or all of the fat off the outside.
    Fat comes in two major places: intramuscular (“marbling”) and subcutaneous.  Marbled cuts are generally more tender because the fat breaks up the meat, but all cattle have plenty of subcutaneous fat, which ends up around the edge of most cuts but usually gets trimmed off.

    To get more fat, you might have to ask the butcher to trim your cuts less closely.  It might even be cheaper, as they often end up throwing away the fat!

    “Chuck” can be cut any number of different ways, and usually has a respectable amount of fat to it.  The round steaks and roasts are generally the leanest and to be avoided.  Sirloin will have a substantial lip of fat to it before the butcher trims it, as do the rib cuts (including rib steaks).  Tri-tip has a big lip of fat on the bottom if the butcher doesn't trim it off.

    JS

  • Steven

    Thanks. I had to google what tri-tip was! I buy meat at a supermarket, where it is pre-packed. Do people ask that department to cater to their personal wants on-the-spot? I am not aware of this. I am new to the red meat world, having eaten poultry exclusively my whole adult life.

  • Steven:

    Does the supermarket have a meat counter with a person behind it — or is it just a refrigerator case with meat on Styrofoam trays?

    If the latter, you're out of luck.  If the former, usually the people there are getting primal cuts (i.e. a whole 15-20# standing rib roast) and chopping them into steaks and individual roasts, and you can probably ask them for untrimmed chuck, sirloin, or whatever.

    JS

  • Steven

    Great! I think I will.

    What cut of beef do you think McDonald’s uses? It never occurred to me before. All this red meat is affecting my brain; I have never even thought about this. Might as well ask what cut would Hebrew National use in franks?

    I snack less now at night. But, in the morning it is more difficult. I eat eggs, but at work I find myself hungry, and I can’t think of a meat snack I could eat at the time of day. end up with nutbars, etc. Wish I could stymie my need to over-consume when at work in the mornings.

  • DT

    steven: gotta entrain the ghrelin/leptin brother.  learn to enjoy the hunger and the H-Bombish energy and clarity it brings!

    J.S. : You have helped make Wed my favorite day of the week.  That and Fri at MDA for the real life stories.  Keep writing and I'll keep reading.  And dont lose the straight forward way of writing.  You remind me of myself-shooting from the hip with no apologies for what you believe.  More bloggers could use this kind of confidence.  

    Peace  

  • Steven

    Does anyone make their own mayo? It is impossible to buy pure olive oil mayo, but it sounds tricky to make it. For use exclusively with tuna.

  • DT:

    It might look like shooting from the hip, but in reality, it's very carefully prepared.  As anyone who's tried to learn acting knows, it takes a lot of practice to look natural.

    I'm glad I've inspired you.  Have you read The Gnoll Credo yet?

    Steven:

    Cook extra dinner and bring the leftovers to work for lunch.

    No, I've never made my own mayo.  Tuna tastes great just in extra virgin olive oil, by the way.

    JS

  • Steven

    “When we eat animal proteins in the traditional ways (for example, eating fish head soup, as well as the muscles, or “head-cheese” as well as pork chops, and chicken-foot soup as well as drumsticks), we assimilate a large amount of glycine and gelatin. This whole-animal balance of amino acids supports all sorts of biological process, including a balanced growth of children’s tissues and organs.

    When only the muscle meats are eaten, the amino acid balance entering our blood stream is the same as that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair. The formation of serotonin is increased by the excess tryptophan in muscle, and serotonin stimulates the formation of more cortisol, while the tryptophan itself, along with the excess muscle-derived cysteine, suppresses the thyroid function.

    A generous supply of glycine/gelatin, against a balanced background of amino acids, has a great variety of antistress actions. Glycine is recognized as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, and promotes natural sleep. Used as a supplement, it has helped to promote recovery from strokes and seizures, and to improve learning and memory. But in every type of cell, it apparently has the same kind of quieting, protective antistress action. The range of injuries produced by an excess of tryptophan and serotonin seems to be prevented or corrected by a generous supply of glycine. Fibrosis, free radical damage, inflammation, cell death from ATP depletion or calcium overload, mitochondrial damage, diabetes, etc., can be prevented or alleviated by glycine.

    Some types of cell damage are prevented almost as well by alanine and proline as by glycine, so the use of gelatin, rather than glycine, is preferable, especially when the gelatin is associated with its normal biochemicals. For example, skin is a rich source of steroid hormones, and cartilage contains “Mead acid,” which is itself antiinflammatory.”

    May I ask what “Paleons”, if you will, make of this intriguing argument, particularly that eating only muscle is unbalanced and also, not what our ancestors ate? Not that I want to do this, but, for logical consistency…

  • To correct a misconception – many paleo eaters DO eat nose to tail and everything in between, all the offals, bones for stew, heads for stock, skin, subcutaneous fat … and the muscle meat.

  • Steven:

    Oh no!  You've found the Ray Peat vortex!

    “the amino acid balance in the blood stream is the same as produced by extreme stress”.  That's because extreme stress leads to catabolism, where your body breaks down its own tissues.  The amino acid balance is not the CAUSE of the extreme stress.  Basic logical error.

    I'm not going to start arguing with Ray Peat articles, as they go on forever and contain so many confident assertions (some well-supported, some speculative, some false…and the degree of confidence is always 100% regardless) that it's like arguing with a tidal wave.  What's even worse, Ray Peat doesn't link any of his citations — and as I've said before, the odds are very good that anyone who publishes Internet articles but doesn't link their citations is either monumentally lazy, or is trying to mislead you by making it difficult to determine whether they're accurately representing the citation.  

    I'm not interested in doing Ray Peat's work for him.  If he can write endless multi-page articles, he can damn well spend a few minutes linking his footnotes to PubMed so others can check his work.

    But if you're still worried, just eat some gelatin now and again.

    JS

  • Steven

    What about this? Ancient man did not have access to an endless animal protein supply, but if one eats meat in the way described here, one would be eating far more protein than they every could have consumed. Nephrologists agree that too much protein damages the kidneys, and the ones I have spoken with advise moderation. Clearly there was no refrigeration and not a steady kill, so it is unassailable.. Yet, now I snack on salami, not carbs, and eat meat (or eggs) for every meal. I now have some doubts. It seems to me that, far from advocating a traditional diet, this is quite the opposite, advocating a never-before possible diet,made possible by supermarkets. I don’t know if the effects on the kidneys of a very high protein diet are known, but every doctor I know is against it. I am worried now about the protein more than the fat, which you have defended satisfactorily. How can the Paleo Diet not be a misnomer?

  • The balance of food is down to the individual.

    What paleolithic man did is the starting point (and well open to re-evaluation) – paleo is more about understanding what foods are most damaging to humans over the long term and removing them from our diets. J has an article here called 'Functional Paleo' summarising this – Mark Sisson has 'The Primal Blueprint' and Kurt Harris' 'Archevore' explains how the priorities can be altered depending upon your starting point. I think if you looked at any of these you would see that traditional diet.

    For me, it didn't come as much of a surprise that cutting out processed food and sugar is something that will be beneficial to human health. Beyond that, understanding the carb balance, removing legumes and grain and then perhaps re-evaluating the position of well prepared legumes, even some grain, is where paleo is today.

    Take a look at my food: https://picasaweb.google.com/107179421315824659117/Cuisine

    As an aside, modern food is nothing like stone age food – I've never seen Ibex in a neat polystyrene and clingfilm wrap at the supermarket Wink

  • Steven:

    Untrimmed cuts of meat are very high in fat calories compared to protein calories.  For instance, 70/30 ground beef provides 82% of its calories from fat!

    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/8004/2

    That's why I emphasize fatty meats!  Since the physiological requirement for protein is between 10% and 20% of calories, you're doing just fine.  Don't worry about it.  

    Furthermore, your body is very good at knowing whether it's got enough protein…once it does, you'll find lean protein extremely unappetizing.  (Google “protein targeting.”)

    As far as “protein damages the kidneys”, this is generally more of a problem with incomplete protein, such as from grains and plants.  

    The way it works is (simplified): protein remains in the bloodstream until it is either used to make hormones, neurotransmitters, and other signaling molecules; or to build and repair tissues, including circulating blood and immune cells.  After it hangs around unused for a while, our liver starts converting it to glucose via gluconeogenesis.  And if there's still some left, your kidneys start to filter them out.

    Note that the limiting factor in protein utilization is the least abundant amino acid…the rest of the aminos will hang around unused and get converted to glucose, and eventually filtered by the kidneys and pissed away.  But if you're below your physiological requirement for protein, your body will break down its own tissues in order to get more of that one amino acid…leaving all the others hanging around in your bloodstream , whereupon they eventually get converted to glucose or filtered by the kidneys and pissed away too.  

    So it's far more dangerous to eat incomplete protein…because you'll either 1) eat way too much of it in order to get the amino acid you're short on, or 2) break down your own tissues to get the aminos you're short on.  In both cases you'll end up with a lot of surplus aminos.

    Translation: stop worrying, you're fine.

    JS

  • Steven

    Thanks, guys. I went to the first link and found something disturbing. One ounce of beef contains 1g of trans fat. Now, I did not see that coming. No one eats one ounce; I eat more like 8 oz at a go, so that would be 8g of trans fat, twice a day, so that’s 16 g of trans fat. What’s up with that? I thought trans fat is either artificial or the result of high temperatures on PUFA, but beef is all sat fat. I did not anticipate seeing this at all. I don’t mind the sat fat, thus far (I will see my lab results next week), but any amount of trans fat is a known evil. I need some help here!

  • Steven:

    Calm down!  The trans fats in beef are entirely composed of:

    -Trans-rumenic acid, one of the CLAs, or conjugated linoleic acids. It has anticarcinogenic and (probably) anti-obesity properties.  It's frequently sold as a dietary supplement for those purposes — though the supplement forms contain a number of alternative geometries that may have harmful effects.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjugated_linoleic_acid

    -Trans-vaccenic acid, which your body converts to CLA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccenic_acid

    In other words: there are two good trans fats, and they're the ones in animal fat (and dairy).

    The rest of them are bad because unlike TRA and TVA, they're found nowhere in nature.

    Further reading: Eat More “Heart-Healthy” Trans Fats! (We hid them in plain sight)

    JS

  • Steven

    Whew! I think you saved this one, J.S. I never heard of good trans fats. I read your linked article and it makes no mention of good trans fats; I had read it before as well. Your response is the very first mention of good trans fats ever, for me. I did not think you had an answer for this one, and it was very upsetting, since we have banned agriculture among other things here. Meat had to be good at this point. I thought I might go to lean meat, to avoid the alleged bad trans fats, less fat, less trans, but you came up with this good trans idea. It reminds me of the HDL versus LDL, good and bad. How is it that no one speaks of good trans fats? I have heard of CLA, but had not recognized it as “trans fat.” When they banned trans fat here they never mentioned the good trans fats, so it’s good that I am not a betting man. To beef fat!

  • Steven

    It seems I can’t go a day without some sort of insult to my new Paleanism.The Eat for Life lifestyle was posed to me, saying, among other things, that broccoli has more protein per calorie, or at least close, than steak. It made me think that it would then have been worth eating by our ancestors, which I think was argued against here as not worth their time. I think they argue that broccoli and beans each have full proteins, but I have not been able to read the source as yet. In any case, is anybody worried about too much protein on the Paleo diet? How to gauge one’s ideal amount? If I eat both meat and broccoli, it seems a lot. I recall it said that one will simply not desire protein, but that may not be the most scientific way. It is interesting that two opposed diets both claim improvements in health, including avoidance of DM2, going off bp meds, etc. There is no sense of moral superiority from the Paleo side, as far as I can see, though whenever you deal with veggies there always seems to be, even if unsaid, an interesting aside.

  • Steven:

    “Trans fats are bad” is a bit of an oversimplification.  “Molecules found nowhere in real food are bad” is the correct statement. 

    However, the TRA and TVA in ruminant meat are the only known exceptions to the oversimplification.  The main source of trans fats in the American diet is chemically hydrogenated seed oil, which produces a bewildering variety of bizarre fats with configurations that occur nowhere in nature.

     

    As far as “Broccoli has complete protein”, well, no.  It's low in leucine.  The main problem is that one cup of chopped broccoli contains…

    …wait for it…

    …a whopping 31 calories, and 2.6 grams of protein.

    So in order to get the same amount of complete protein from broccoli that you'd get from half a pound of high-fat chuck steak (38.4 grams), you'd have to eat 67 grams of broccoli protein.

    That's 26 cups of broccoli!

    And even if you could somehow choke them down, much of that protein would be wasted because it's incomplete, as I mentioned above.  It's the vegetarians that have to worry about a combination of protein deficiency and pissing out too much of it (due to incompleteness) — not us meat-eaters who are always consuming complete, good-quality protein.

    Again, I'm not worried about consuming too much protein.  Try eating extra-lean ground beef (the 95% stuff) or boneless, skinless chicken breasts with no added fat, and see how much of them you want to eat.  Your body will tell you very quickly “No, I've had enough.”  Read more about protein targeting here.

    And that's yet another reason I recommend fatty meats.

    JS

  • Steven

    Thank you very much, JS. I appreciate your consistent, quality answers, and those of PH as well.

    I just got back from my doc, who never heard of the paleo diet and urged me to eat only lean meat. My LDL is 120. Total is 180.On the positive side, my tri is 74, proving that it is carbs that raise it, not fats,QED. I don’t know if I need to worry about the LDL. My HDL is consistently low,45. My hemo,crit, wbc and rbc are all low, which is not what I had expected; I thought red meat would raise that. I am going through those bullets of salami like it’s nobody’s business.
    Thanks for being so gracious to someone who you don’t even know. I feel honored.

  • Steven,

    Encourage your doctor to do more research on our way of eating.  Also, congrats on the blood levels.

    Regarding what you're being told about diet and what is good and bad: ask who funded the studies being cited, and whether or not the person reciting statistics and percentages is doing so by rote (or even worse, via some moral/political motivation).

    Eat well and good luck.

  • Steven:

    Now that you've taken charge of your own health, you'll start realizing that you know more about diet than most doctors, who receive very little to no training (and most of that wrong).  Think of your doctor as a resource through which you get tests, medication, and injury repair, not a person to whom you delegate health decisions.

    If you're really worried about low HDL, eat more coconut milk (the full-fat kind, not “coconut water” or So Delicious) and cook with coconut oil.  That'll raise it.  But if you want to know more, read the Perfect Health Diet posts on cholesterol, LDL, disease, etc.

    Translation: you're fine.  As Dr. Doug McGuff said: “Is the number bad?  Eat healthy.  Is the number good?  Eat healthy.”

    As always, the best way to thank me is to buy a copy of The Gnoll Credo. 

    Rob:

    Usually we're not even hearing about studies: we're just hearing received wisdom.  “Everybody knows” that cholesterol and saturated fat are bad for you.

    JS

  • DT

    J. Stanton said:

    DT:

    It might look like shooting from the hip, but in reality, it's very carefully prepared.  As anyone who's tried to learn acting knows, it takes a lot of practice to look natural.

    I'm glad I've inspired you.  Have you read The Gnoll Credo yet?

    Steven:

    Cook extra dinner and bring the leftovers to work for lunch.

    No, I've never made my own mayo.  Tuna tastes great just in extra virgin olive oil, by the way.

    JS

    hey i didn't mean to imply that you didn't put a ton of work into each post.  they are WAYYY to detailed and full of very complex material that you break down piece by piece.  i was commenting more on tone.  and speaking of tone, that's one thing about the web that just plain sucks.  it's easy to misinterpret things.  and i could even be wrong that you took it that way!  lol been a very very long week.  

    no, i haven't read the whole book, just the free portion.  when i stumbled on your webite i had 5 other books i was in the middle of reading and just couldn't stuff another one in.  and i took the time to read each post you have written.  seriously, if you knew me, you would be amazed that i'm even taking time to write this. i'm not one to drop compliments but i will if i really want you to know that your blog is important to me—-because i want to reinforce your will to continue to write.  i know i would take any compliments to my contribution very very seriously and i'm sure you do as well.  

    i want to read your book now that i'm done with the others and i actually sent you an email with 2 questions, one being about the lack of a kindle version.  

     

    thanks again

    DT

  • DT:

    No offense taken.  Nuance is difficult over the Internet.  I know what you meant.

    Part of the secret is knowing when I'm confident enough in my knowledge to take a firm stand, and when I need to either disclaim something or simply not mention it.  Right now there are well-known people in the paleosphere who seem to be presenting themselves as “experts” on every subject, but who clearly haven't done the research necessary to make such pronouncements — and have the attitude that they don't need to because their n=1 is sufficient to make recommendations to everyone.  I find this puzzling.

    I just received your email, but it'll take me a while to craft a thoughtful response.

    Thank you for the moral support!  It makes a difference to know that people appreciate calm, reasoned attempts to explain basic principles in a world where grandstanding, chest-beating, and controversy-baiting seem to get the most attention.

    JS

  • DT

    exactly.  calm and reasoned.  where the hell did that go?  and alot of those “experts” i do read and respect quite a bit, so it's rather dissapointing.  but i've also always been a “take what works for you and discard the rest” kinda person.  so quality is paramount.  if i feel everything in a given post (or whatever) is worth taking note of, then i do.  if not, then i can at the least gleem some inference or a reference point for possibilities of what could be workable for me.  to try to make every concept developed into a unified field theory applicable to everyone signifies, IMO, a lack of basic understanding of the laws of the universe.  there are no hard and fast rules that apply all the time to everything.  ALWAYS is a word that doesn't truly exist.  

    and the only thing that really keeps me from blogging on my own, is my lack of a reference point beyond n=1.  i've spent years researching, reading, testing, and all that but never clinically, and always on my own.  i'm completely autodidactic.  i have no formal training in anything except martial arts.  the rest i've been teaching myself for about the last 15 years. hell, i'm a retail store manager and i work 70ish hours a week(entirely physical work i might add).  i'm an expert on nothing, so why would i try to strut around as if i am?  again, i feel that those that boast and pontificate miss the forest for the trees.  or their own ego.   not my game and that's why i continue to read your blog.  Mark Sisson is like that as well; a very balanced approached.  the forest is all aspects of lifestyle coming together; the trees, brain goblins make me eat sugar….lol

    DT

  • DT:

    One reason I only post once a week is that it allows me to put time into a single quality presentation.  Busy people like yourself value quality over quantity.

    JS

  • Steven

    I just had me some buffalo. First time for that one. Tasted like beef, but four times the price. A pound of chop meat. didn’t say if it was grass-fed but I reckoned it was. Hope it was better for me. Never thought I would get into buffalo, but this site must be contagious.

  • DT

    buffalo kick ass.  idk where you live or if they even have these anywhere but in texas (where I hail from) but Fudrucker's has buffalo, ostrich, and a bunch of other types of what they call “exotic” meats.  They are all about hamburgers but if you ask them to wrap it in a huge leaf of lettuce, they are totally cool about it.

  • Steven:

    Buffalo is delicious — but nutritionally, grass-fed buffalo isn't any different than grass-fed beef.  My favorite game meat is elk, which I highly recommend if you can find some.

    I'm glad you're expanding your horizons!  The human diet was much wider before we domesticated just a few species of animals and started eating them exclusively.  Even restaurant menus from the 1800s showed a wide variety of wild game on the menu.

    DT:

    I didn't know Fuddruckers did exotic meats!

    Once I found a Mongolian BBQ that served game as well as beef/pork/lamb.  That was delicious.

    JS

     

  • DT

    Yeah Fuddruckers is a great place for those of us that have paleo leanings.  Not that I eat out all that much.  There are a couple of Mongolian BBQs around Waco.  They're great-just put a bunch of vegetables and meat in a bowl and they cook it right in front of you.

    I wonder how many people that eat there even realize that true Mongolian food consists of horse meat and well, horse meat…I've actually eaten horse meat before.  I wonder if it being illegal to process horse in that manner is what makes it taste so damn good???

    I've never had elk though.  Ted Nugent actually lives like 5 miles from me.  He has this huge tract of land that he's filled with all manner of animal.  He holds hunting lessons out there and has a program exclusively for children.  Both bowhunting (read:true hunting) and with guns.  I've heard he has elk.  And a moose.  

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  • DT:

    Mongolian BBQ is one of the few places you can eat out, stay paleo, and get enough to eat.

    I've had horse sashimi in Japan…I don't know if it was the equivalent to Wagyu horse or what, but it was delicious.  And elk is definitely worth tracking down.  It's less gamy than deer, but more gamy than grass-fed beef.

    JS

  • Steven

    I read some disturbing info about prions and Mad Cow disease today, along with the use of arsenic in chickenfeed, whereafter the feces is fed to cows. How safe is the beef industry in this country? Is it too risky to eat anything but grass-fed, and is that safe? It seems to me that they go out of their way to ensure that no accountability exists with regard to beef or poultry safety. Even McDonalds is opposed to the use of arsenic (why?), which ends up in their feces (and muscles) which cattle then eat. I see great potential for catastrophic mad cow which is not detectable for as much as 7 yrs, I have read, and is a horrible death. The chop meat you buy has come from perhaps 1000 cows; it thus seems quite likely that over time and with high consumption one is rather likely to wind up with this disease, it only being a matter of time until the inevitable happens. Like Wall St., “too big to fail,” I think that’s the attitude. Let’s play fast and loose until…then the FDA will come in and finally set some rules, but why bother until we kill enough people to cause an uprising? Am I overly cautious here, or just too aware of reality? And in poultry, how much arsenic do you estimate we get over a lifetime of average or high consumption? What is the purpose of Pfizer putting this in the feed, which some countries have stopped, but not the U.S.?

  • We had an epidemic in Britain.

    There were disinfectant pits to drive through whenever you went pretty much anywhere out of a city. You feared to eat pretty much any meat through that period – we ate almost nothing but New Zealand lamb and (expensive) French poultry through that period.

    In the end, almost the entire stock across the whole of Britain was destroyed. I remember reading the death toll in a newspaper, broken down by farm – the north of England was decimated, Wales decimated, lowland Scotland decimated, Cornwall, decimated.

    New stocks came in and we have much better meat, generally, today.

    It was a sad and harrowing time. My parents live in rural Northumberland (north of England, bordering Scotland) and we used to travel up via Carlisle to visit. Carlisle had a thriving cattle market which dominated the town physically. For years that lay empty and unused, finally to be demolished. Less grand in stature, but equally important to the town where my parents live, the cattle market lay empty for years. There is a new hospital on the grounds now.

    British farming never really recovered.

  • Steven

    HI, Paul. Do you know how many people died from the disease before they took action? What action, if any, did they take with regard to the processing safety issues? Do the cows eat chicken shit there and vice versa, as in US? I don’t like the fact that there are 1000 cows in one burger, as is commonly said. Talk about no accountability.

  • It's a difficult one to put a figure on, given that the human form of BSE (vCJD) came afterwards.

    From memory, around 1996 the first links were made between vCJD and BSE. I think the first human death as a direct result of eating BSE infected beef was around that year. By 2000, the bovine epidemic was all but cleared up – by almost total extermination of the bovine population in the country. That was a harrowing time, especially when the farms close and visible to where I lived had to have giant bonfires.

    I seem to recall that it jumped to sheep shortly afterwards – maybe 2003?

    Anyway, back to vCJD – the difficulty is linking it and putting a timeframe around it. BSE had been present in Britain's bovine population for many years prior to the first case of vCJD that could be directly linked. Back to the late 1980s when BSE first started to affect cattle. I think they put 1989 as the start of the epidemic and 2000 as the end. vCJD was first noticed and linked to the BSE epidemic in 1996 and cases continued there after.

    Once BSE had been removed and new clean stocks brought in and bred up, I guess cases of vCJD declined and tailed off thereafter.

    Human casualties were small, but a significant figure.

    I can find newspaper articles citing 48, 55, 74 and so on through the year 2000 – small, but significant numbers.

    One amusing tale was back in 1990 where one of our Ministers was so keen to show that British beef was NOT a problem fed his children burgers in front of the watching cameras: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/369625.stm

    We also had a health scare in the late 1980s when the Ministry for Health dropped the ball and managed to get salmonella into the food chain through eggs. This did had one very positive effect, though – organic egg production flourished, the outdoor reared wave followed.

  • Paul:

    Thank you for the detailed explanation.

    Steven:

    Keep in mind that cooking doesn't destroy CJD…there's nothing to be done about it in the kitchen. 

    Again, the culprit seems to have been the feeding of animal brains to other animals — although there is a well-known farmer and advocate who claims (with some evidence) that organophosphate insecticides either caused it or greatly aided its spread.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Purdey

    JS

  • I read something on one of the many forums I frequent … to paraphrase …

    We've done something seriously wrong when we feed animals which are used to eating rubbish (pigs) real food and animals which like nothing more than just grass (cows), rubbish.

  • Steven

    Thanks, guys. I think nature is violated when we feed animals other than their designed foods. I read the Wiki about Purdey of the UK. Long story short. Do you trust the integrity of the U.S. beef industry? We know there is virtually no enforcement and no rules overall. I would like to figure my odds. My view is that it is safer to eat cuts of beef, esp if butchered at the locale, because it’s from fewer cows. If I eat ground meat it might be just as good if it is ground at the locale, for same reason. But, the burger at McD’s which I had today, probably came from a thousand cows, which ups the risk considerably. Was what happened in the UK a fluke, a product of specific causes, or is the US imminent for such a catastrophe?

  • Steven

    Bonus post ;)

    Life Extension made the following statement:

    Diets high in omega-6 fats and saturated fats are associated with greater prostate cancer risk whereas increased intake of omega-3 fats from fish has been shown to reduce risk. Based on consistent epidemiological findings across a wide range of human populations, scientists have sought to understand why eating the wrong kinds of fat (saturated and omega-6 fats) provokes a stimulatory effect on prostate cancer.54,55

    Is this of concern to us, in that it states sat fat stimulates prostate cancer?

    On a related vein, I took the flu vaccine while at my doc for unrelated reasons. I later read about this and regretted it. Is it a mistake to trust the gov with vaccines? could there be live viruses in there for nefarious purposes?

    Thanks, once again. Bought a ridiculous amount of beef today. Doc warned against this, but he doesn’t read this site. Am learning to make soup, with flanken and marrow bones: in process. Heard too much about the BPA in cans.

  • Steven:

    You're going to have to start doing your own investigation here: I can't possibly debunk every claim made on the Internet.

    You might start by watching Tom Naughton's presentation on how to spot bad science:

    And you might note that basically 100% of these studies that say “x CAUSES y” are ASSOCIATIONAL, not controlled, and therefore:

    -cannot prove causation

    -are so tainted by associational confounders that they're worthless

    -by changing what the study is “controlled” for, associational data can be used to prove anything you want.  See: the China Study and Denise Minger's debunking of it.

    JS

  • D.

    Steven, I highly suggest reading Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ in which he examines how we face our daily battles of deciding what to eat from day to day. In this he ventures out into examining our corn farms, industrial food chain, and alternatives to that industrial food chain such as organic which also look at some of your concerns about the safety of our food. It is definitely an eye opener that will change the way you look at food.

  • The Comprehensive Gu

    [...] We have evolved to to eat a diet high in fat as JS at Gnolls.org succinctly details in his article Why Humans Crave Fat. It’s just our [...]

  • Vegetarian crisis- p

    [...] are interested in what the paleo diet is, here are a couple articles that first made me interested-http://www.gnolls.org/1763/why-humans-cr F Answered:Keep in mind that our ancient [...]

  • [...] previously written about the currently accepted explanation, in this article: “Why Humans Crave Fat.” Here are a few bullet [...]

  • [...] previously written about the currently accepted explanation, in this article: “Why Humans Crave Fat.” Here are a few bullet points:  Read More [...]

  • [...] We have evolved to to eat a diet high in fat as JS at Gnolls.org succinctly details in his article Why Humans Crave Fat. It’s just our [...]

  • [...] that day, I cut out mostly all processed food from my diet. I incorporated more saturated fats to feed my brain, instead of normally avoiding them. I took a stab at this radically changing idea, and the most [...]

  • [...] article in mind is entitled, “Why We Crave Fat”. The hypothesis is that “animal fat is the primary constituent of the evolutionary human [...]

  • Steven

    I wasn’t able to comment in above post for some reason. Did anyone see this article? At end the claim is however made that red meat eating is now associated with shortened life spans, but I did not have time to check the link.

  • Steven

    Red Meat And Strokes – Natural News

    Comments? This looks like a dire warning about regular, non grass-fed beef to me. It has occurred to me that paleo man NEVER had the access to daily high meat consumption in the first place. I think that's obvious,yet overlooked. They had no fridge and did not kill animals twice or thrice daily. They ate huge amounts, I reckon, upon the kill, and went without most of the time, eating other stuff. Comments?

  • Steven:

    I'’ve seen that first article, and it’s (for the most part) congruent with the evidence we have.  

    However, the “red meat kills” link in the blog article was to the worthless HSPH paper I’ve already debunked at length, in this article. 

    As far as the Natural News article, as I said above, you're going to have to start reading with a more critical eye.  The paper itself reads “Five articles including results from 6 prospective studies…”  In other words, it's associative data, and therefore worthless for most of the same reasons Pan et.al. is worthless, which I've explained at length in my debunking above.

    Finally, your assertion that “paleo man NEVER had the access to daily high meat consumption in the first place” is unsupported by any evidence.  The Paleolithic landscape was full of megafauna — mostly extinct relatives of modern-day elephants — which were preferentially hunted (and, in fact, were hunted to extinction) by our ancestors.  Multi-ton animals have a lot of meat on them.  Even modern hunter-gatherers in a landscape depleted of megafauna still get ~1/3 of calories from hunted meat and 1/3 from “gathered” meat (insects, traps and snares, etc.)…and they're tiny even by modern standards, as opposed to (say) H. heidelbergensis, which was much taller and stronger than modern humans.  And why might that be?  You don't have to be tall and strong to dig tubers: in fact, it's a disadvantage.  Think about it.  Both our brains and our bodies shrunk with the advent of agriculture…

    Honestly, I'm starting to lose my patience here.  If you want to be scared of red meat, go right ahead and stop eating it.  I can't personally hold your hand and debunk every piece of propaganda that blows your direction.  Do your own reading and make your own decisions.

    (But before you do, ask yourself: is my mood, energy level, and state of physical health better or worse than it was when I was eating lots of “heart-healthy whole grains”?  Am I willing to sacrifice my current state of health and vitality for dubious threats of future catastrophe?)

    JS

  • [...] FATTY ACIDS for a reason, because they are ESSENTIAL. J. Stanton of Gnolls.org says it best, we are fativores. But won’t all that fat make you fat? Nope, not at all. In fact, when I’m getting [...]

  • Katherine

    For those who are interested…

    Yes, anyone with a blender and a bit of patience can make their own mayonnaise from extra virgin olive oil.

    I grind my own hamburger to be sure I know what goes into it.

  • … or a hand whisk. You get a workout, too! Good core, holding the bowl in a headlock and go like the clappers, swapping hands to even up the activity.

  • E Craig

    That's what I used to do when we still made it (I miss it, may indulge in the excess olive-oilness of it soon) – went like gangbusters with my right arm and did a pitiful attempt with my left ahah =)  I got faster with practice though.

  • Katherine, Paul, E Craig:

    I make a lot of Caesar dressing from scratch, which is also an emulsion of olive oil and egg yolks.  It's delicious…and that oily stuff in a bottle called “Caesar dressing” isn't even the same thing.

    JS

  • [...] the Preferred Fuel for the Human Body | Mark's Daily Apple Interesting read from Gnolls: Why Humans Crave Fat - GNOLLS.ORG The bolded part is a fine example….its completely false. You will not always preferentially burn [...]

  • JayJay

    I make mayonnaise from what ever fat I got lying around. I use 1 cup of fat for one lot of mayo. First thing that goes into the cup is whatever leftover fat i have from the last few days of cooking, then i’ll add some dripping(is that tallow?) or duck fat, then top it up with a bit of light olive oil. It’s delicious. I don’t like EVOO mayo it’s too strong for me

  • JayJay:

    In the UK, I believe “dripping” is indeed beef fat.  And I agree that EVOO mayonnaise would be too strong for my taste, though some seem to like it. 

    JS

  • … a common people divided by the same language … how did it get so wonky just crossing the Atlantic? Smile

    Yes, “dripping” is beef fat in the UK.

    In the old days, it was the collection of what dripped out of a fatty piece of meat in the oven. In days gone by, this fat was quite brown and a good filler for poorer families was simply cold dripping spread on bread: a “mucky fat sandwich”. Nowadays it's refined and can be bought from the supermarket in blocks, or in tubs from the local farm shops which render trimmed fat down.

    One of those, “eat it … it's good for you … it'll keep you warm in winter”. I love the old wisdom Cool

    Lard, to us in the UK, is pig fat. Same process.

    What exactly is tallow?

  • Paul:

    Tallow usually refers to rendered beef fat — though, strictly speaking, it can refer to rendered mutton fat, or any other mixture of animal fat that is sufficiently solid at room temperature.

    JS

  • Roberto

    Once again, more paleo quackery based around pure speculation.

  • Roberto:

    If you're willing to label the work of Drs. Stanford, Aiello, and Wheeler as “pure speculation”, then you clearly have no scientific background by which your judgment of “pure quackery” carries any weight whatsoever.

    JS

  • PN

    I just found this site a few days ago in my various research endeavors on health topics and have found it very interesting, well though out, and highly researched.

    In the interest of advancing your impressive knowledge and holding you to your own high standard I feel compelled to point out that this statement, while true for the modern sick population, is false for healthy people (which you are largely referring to in this case):
    “The few calories in most vegetables are rounding error to whatever you sautee them in, and the calories in salad greens all come from the dressing you put on them.”

    This textbook [1] on page 362 (page 7 of this PDF link), section 2.5 states:
    “Greater numbers of bacteria (more anaerobes than aerobes) are found within the colonic lumen than elsewhere in the GI tract. These bacteria digest a number of undigested food products normally found in the effluent delivered to the colon, such as complex sugars contained in dietary fiber.
    Complex sugars are fermented by the bacteria, forming the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) butyrate, propionate and acetate. These SCFAs are essential nutrient sources for colonic epithelium, and in addition can provide up to 500 cal/day of overall nutritional needs.”

    With my key point being made by the last sentence which is that high fiber foods provide many more calories when one has healthy gut flora than they are given credit for. The math in your paragraph above the just quoted also assumes 2000 cal/day to survive as a sedentary person which is too high an estimate even for modern inefficient, tense, sick people and a healthy native would need even less, so 500 cal from fiber is quite a significant amount indeed (and such people might be able to get even more since the referenced book likely came up with their numbers by looking at modern only somewhat sick people).

    As a side note: If you must clean soil from your anus after defecation, your gut is not healthy as this indicates pathogenic bacteria which are producing sticky biofilms that must be wiped (and consuming your nutrients, just one of many reasons why modern people need so many calories to survive). Ancient people were not, and animals are not, provided with toilet paper or bathrooms and these things are unnecessary when healthy.

    [1]. In case my link does not post properly it is FIRST PRINCIPLES OF GASTROENTEROLOGY by A.B.R. Thomson.

  • PN:

    First, you're failing to distinguish soluble vs. insoluble fiber.

    Soluble fiber is just complex sugars that our enzymes can't digest, and it is indeed fermented by bacteria in the human colon.  However, it doesn't contain nearly the 4 kcal/gram the Atwater factors suggest, since the bacteria have already extracted much of the energy (SCFA are a waste product of bacterial fermentation…basically they're bacteria poop.)

    The majority of the “fiber” in vegetables, however, is insoluble fiber, mostly in the form of cellulose — which neither our digestive enzymes nor our gut bacteria can digest.  Therefore, the insoluble fiber has zero energy value to us.

    Second, and most importantly, the calorie counts on nutrition labels already count insoluble fiber at 4 kcal/gram!  So the “four calories per spear” figure already includes all the fiber, both soluble and insoluble — and, therefore, the real figure for asparagus is more like 2-3 calories per spear.

    My point stands.

    JS

  • [...] the most from meat. For more info on that, check out previous blog posts, or check out some of the science here. The evolutionary mumb-jumbo you can ignore, but do note these points that are relative to actual [...]

  • [...] Remember, healthy fats are essential for humans to thrive. Leave the Food Pyramid behind, and think about eating fats within the context of real, whole foods, as well as our evolutionary history. [...]

  • Auggiedoggy

    I love fat but unfortunately it doesn’t love me. A LCHF diet left me with high cholesterol and chest pains and feeling lethargic. I had to replace running with walking due to lack of energy. That was several years ago. A high fat diet for me now would be suicide.

    I’d be careful about advocating high fat diets for everyone.

  • Jen W

    Auggiedoggy,

     

    How long where you on a LCHF diet?

  • Auggiedoggy:

    1. How high is “high-fat”?  Were you ketogenic, VLC, ZC, or ???  What % carbs?

    2. What were you eating?  Often a “high-fat” diet ends up being a high-dairy diet, since dairy is the most convenient source of fat calories…and that can cause its own problems unrelated to the fat content.

    That being said, there is a great deal of biochemical individuality…you might be homozygous for ApoE4, for instance, and/or have any number of other issues (methylation defects, vitamin absorption defects, sulfation pathway defects, etc.) which cause you to have problems with the specific combination of foods you were eating.  So the fat may or may not be the cause of your problems.

    JS

  • Rob

    I was on a LCHF diet that included eggs, bacon, sausages, beef, chicken, fish. I had *some* dairy but it was basically cream in my cup of morning coffee. No starchy vegetables but things like broccoli, green peppers and leafy greens. I was on this diet for about three months. That was all I could take. My cholesterol was elevated as a result. As far as your various speculations on what my problems were, the only problem I could see was the excessive fat intake. Switching to a low-fat vegetarian diet brought my cholesterol levels back to healthy levels. The chest pains went away and my energy levels were back to normal after only a couple weeks on the healthy diet. Lesson learned!

  • Rob:

    Sounds like you were definitely ketogenic, or at least VLC.  That doesn't work for everybody.

    Keep in mind that your “cholesterol test” (which actually measures lipoproteins) will show a big bold “HIGH” at over 200 — however, multiple data sets show that minimum mortality for men is around 240 TC, with TC<200 being just as bad as TC > 280.  So while high cholesterol has an association with heart disease, “high” is a lot higher than most people think.

    Also, consider that 20% carbs is a lot different from “leafy greens only”, which will put you in VLC/keto territory unless you're cheating with a lot of sugary condiments.  That's where I tend to live (though I don't count or measure), because I lose weight on VLC even when I don't want to!

    That being said, you have to eat what works best for you.  Just be careful with vitamin deficiencies if you're eating vegetarian AND low-fat: it's tough to get A (not beta-carotene), K2, B12, biotin, etc. unless you're willing to eat egg yolks and butter.

    JS

  • Rob

    Hi JS,

    My TC maxed out at 236mg/dl in 2007. I say “maxed out”. It could have gone higher but I switched to a low-fat vegetarian diet because of reasons stated earlier. My doctor at the time did not seem overly concerned about because there were no other risk factors. Today my TC is 198 BUT I also have high BP and I had a positive stress test. I recently had a nuclear stress test to a) rule out the possibility that the previous stress test was a false positive and b) see if there are any areas of concern regarding blood flow to the heart. Still awaiting the results from that. On a Paleo-style diet I did feel better than I did on the Atkins diet. Perhaps the Paleo would be a better compromise. My current doctor would probably not recommend any diet that would raise my cholesterol however. He wants me on meds for both cholesterol (for a TC of 198!!!) and for my BP, which I’ve been trying natural methods with some degree of success. I remember reading something about how lowering one’s cholesterol beyond a certain age (I’m 58) does not equate to better health. In fact, it can lead to decreased cognitive function and poorer health in general. Have you seen anything regarding this? Rather than go on meds, which I’ve been avoiding, I’d rather address the cause than the symptoms. I’ve heard good things about fish oil’s ability to fight inflammation in the body so I’m looking at getting a quality, high-dose, molecularly distilled (mercury removed) fish oil supplement. I’ve also cut out all vegetable oils from my diet.

  • Rob:

    Meds for 198 TC is insane.  240 TC is right on the lowest-risk part of the curve.  Some numbers here:

    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/06/blood-lipids-and-infectious-disease-part-i/

    I've seen several more papers confirming the U-shaped association for men, and a negative association for women (higher cholesterol = lower mortality risk, with no upper limit, for women).  Here's one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21951982

    …but TC is a far worse predictor than the TG/HDL ratio, which is about the best you can do with the numbers you get from a standard “cholesterol test”.  Lower is better, e.g.:

     

    High ratio of triglycerides to hdl-cholesterol predicts extensive coronary disease

    http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1807-59322008000400003&script=sci_arttext

    (Actually measured via Freisinger index. Note that TC was not a significant predictor!)

     

    Fasting Triglycerides, High-Density Lipoprotein, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction

    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/96/8/2520.long

    (7x greater risk of MI for highest vs. lowest quartile of TG/HDL)

     

    Men are also more likely to survive a stroke with high cholesterol than low. Boatloads of studies here:

    http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/search/label/Cholesterol%20and%20Stroke

    Low cholesterol is also linked to dementia, etc.:

    http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/search/label/Cholesterol%20and%20Alzheimers

    http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/search/label/Cholesterol%20and%20Dementia

     

    Dr. Malcolm Kendrick writes about this stuff quite a bit, too: http://drmalcolmkendrick.org

    As far as fish oil, eating fatty fish themselves (salmon, mackerel, sardines) will generally be a better source than the capsules, but they're better than nothing.  Mainly it's important to decrease n-6 intake, and removing “vegetable oils” (seed oils) is a great start.  

    I wish you the best on your journey.

    JS

  • Rob

    JC,

    Thanks for those links. I’ll be looking at all of them. Btw, I still eat fish. Its the one thing I refuse to give up. The fish oil supplements are a safe (no mercury) source of omega-3 but I still love eating salmon.

    p.s. I *will* be eating turkey this Christmas! ;o)

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

    Rob

  • Rob:

    Pescetarian paleo is a perfectly reasonable and healthy way to eat.  Don't forget about shellfish, as they're Nature's multivitamin/multimineral supplement.

    Happy holidays to you and yours, too!

    JS

  • JOHN

    INTERESTED IN YOUR nEWSLETTER

  • John:

    Newsletter signup is on the right sidebar, under “Gnolls In Your Inbox”.  Type your email there, and make sure to click the link in the confirmation email you'll receive.  If you don't see the confirmation email, check your spam folder.

    JS

  • ibika

    dis grace full

  • Alex

    I see no reason to dis J. Stanton’s fullness of grace.

  • [...] are interested in what the paleo diet is, here are a couple articles that first made me interested- http://www.gnolls.org/1763/why-humans-cr&#8230; http://www.scribd.com/doc/2100251/Jared-&#8230; also, I posted this in psychology because they are [...]

  • [...] are interested in what the paleo diet is, here are a couple articles that first made me interested- http://www.gnolls.org/1763/why-humans-cr&#8230; http://www.scribd.com/doc/2100251/Jared-&#8230; also, I posted this in psychology because they are [...]

  • [...] are interested in what the paleo diet is, here are a couple articles that first made me interested- http://www.gnolls.org/1763/why-humans-cr&#8230; http://www.scribd.com/doc/2100251/Jared-&#8230; also, I posted this in psychology because they are [...]

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