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Why Humans Crave Fat
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April 4, 2011
6:09 am
Kiran
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JS,

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

Kiran

April 5, 2011
7:10 pm
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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

April 12, 2011
6:35 pm
Richard Nikoley
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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.

April 13, 2011
1:42 am
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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

April 20, 2011
8:34 pm
Dr. Couto
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"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.

May 2, 2011
3:09 pm
Peggy
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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.

May 2, 2011
5:08 pm
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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

May 6, 2011
7:56 am
Bill DeWitt
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"“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.

May 7, 2011
3:49 pm
Emily
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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.

May 8, 2011
11:22 am
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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

May 24, 2011
2:07 am
eddie
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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!

May 24, 2011
2:43 am
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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

 

June 2, 2011
2:56 am
Guy
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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?

June 2, 2011
3:03 pm
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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

June 3, 2011
5:51 am
Guy
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Okay I got it now, thanks for the good explanation!

June 8, 2011
2:02 pm
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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.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

June 8, 2011
6:29 pm
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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

June 9, 2011
1:49 am
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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.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

June 16, 2011
10:50 am
gollum
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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)

June 16, 2011
10:07 pm
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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

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