Photo: Eduardo Amorim
I’ve invited Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Dan Eades, two of my favorite bariatric (obesity treatment) doctors in the US and the first to introduce insulin resistance to the mainstream, to explain the facts and benefits of increased saturated fat intake…
The sub-headings are mine, and a few edits have been made for space and context. Please see Dr. Michael Eades’ references and responses to questions in the comments.
Mid-Section Fat Loss: Problem Solved?
A couple of generations ago two physicians—one on the East Coast, one on the West—while working long hours with many patients, serendipitously stumbled onto a method to rapidly decrease fat around the mid-section. We’re sure that other doctors figured out the same thing, but these two were locally famous and published their methods. Interestingly, neither was looking to help patients lose weight.
Blake Donaldson, M.D., who practiced in Manhattan, was looking for a treatment for allergies; Walter Voegtlin, M.D., a Seattle gastroenterologist, was trying to figure out a better method for treating his patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Dr. Donaldson got his inspiration from a meeting he had with the aforementioned Vilhalmur Stefansson; Dr. Voegtlin came up with the same idea based on his knowledge of comparative anatomy. Though they came at two different questions from very different angles, they arrived at the same dietary answer. Both solved the problems they were seeking to solve and, coincidentally, noticed that their overweight patients lost a tremendous amount of fat from their abdominal areas while undergoing the treatment. As happened later with us and with Dr. Atkins, word of their success in combating obesity spread rapidly, and before long both physicians were deluged with overweight patients seeking treatment, completely changing the character of their medical practices. In retirement, both wrote books about their methods. Donaldson’s was published in 1961; Voegtlin’s in 1972. And as far as we can tell, although their years of practice overlapped, they never knew one another.
What was their secret? What did these two men independently discover? What kind of nutritional regimen did they use to bring about such great results in their patients?
Both had their patients follow an all-meat diet.
An all-meat diet?
Yes, an all-meat diet. Remember that when these physicians were in practice, there hadn’t been all the negative publicity about saturated fat and red meat that there has been in recent years. At that time, most people considered meat as simply another food, just like potatoes, bread, or anything else. No one worried about eating it. The (misguided) hypothesis that fat in the diet causes heart disease hadn’t reared its ugly head, so telling people at that time to go on an all-meat diet didn’t provoke the same sort of knee-jerk emotions that it does—at least in some quarters—now.
The patients who followed these all-meat diets rapidly lost weight from their midsections and improved their blood sugar and blood pressure problems if they had them. Calculations of cholesterol in all its various permutations was still decades away, but both doctors even used the all-meat diet for their patients with heart disease without problem. The all-meat diet proved to be a safe, filling, rapid way to help patients lose abdominal fat while improving their health. And remember, one of these diets was developed to treat GI problems, the other to treat allergies. The rapid weight loss that followed was a surprising, but welcome side effect.
7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat
In the not-so-distant past, the medical establishment considered all fats equally loathsome: all fats were created equal and they’re all bad for you. Things have changed in that quarter, if only slightly. You have no doubt heard the drumbeat of current medical thinking on fats: some fats are now good for you—olive oil and canola oil*—but others are bad for you—trans fats and all saturated fats. That’s an improvement from the old cry, but far from the truth.
It seems that no matter how the story spins from the denizens of the anti-fat camp, one piece of their advice remains staunchly constant: “You should sharply limit your intake of saturated fats.” The next admonition will invariably be, “which have been proven to raise cholesterol and cause heart disease.” Their over-arching belief is that saturated fat is bad, bad, bad.
You see with just a glance at [our suggested meal plans] that we’ve included fatty cuts of meat, chicken with the skin, bacon, eggs, butter, coconut oil, organic lard, and heavy cream in the plan. Aren’t we worried that these foods will increase your risk of heart disease and raise your cholesterol? In a word, nope. In fact, we encourage you to make these important fats a regular part of your healthy diet. Why? Because humans need them and here are just a few reasons why.
1) Improved cardiovascular risk factors
Though you may not have heard of it on the front pages of your local newspaper, online news source, or local television or radio news program, saturated fat plays a couple of key roles in cardiovascular health. The addition of saturated fat to the diet reduces the levels of a substance called lipoprotein (a)—pronounced “lipoprotein little a” and abbreviated Lp(a)—that correlates strongly with risk for heart disease. Currently there are no medications to lower this substance and the only dietary means of lowering Lp(a) is eating saturated fat. Bet you didn’t hear that on the nightly news. Moreover, eating saturated (and other) fats also raises the level of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. Lastly, research has shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat lose the most weight.
2) Stronger bones
In middle age, as bone mass begins to decline, an important goal (particularly for women) is to build strong bones. You can’t turn on the television without being told you need calcium for your bones, but do you recall ever hearing that saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone? According to one of the foremost research experts in dietary fats and human health, Mary Enig, Ph.D., there’s a case to be made for having as much as 50 percent of the fats in your diet as saturated fats for this reason. That’s a far cry from the 7 to 10 percent suggested by mainstream institutions. If her reasoning is sound—and we believe it is— is it any wonder that the vast majority of women told to avoid saturated fat and to selectively use vegetable oils instead would begin to lose bone mass, develop osteoporosis, and get put on expensive prescription medications plus calcium to try to recover the loss in middle age?
3) Improved liver health
Adding saturated fat to the diet has been shown in medical research to encourage the liver cells to dump their fat content. Clearing fat from the liver is the critical first step to calling a halt to middle-body fat storage. Additionally, saturated fat has been shown to protect the liver from the toxic insults of alcohol and medications, including acetaminophen and other drugs commonly used for pain and arthritis, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, and even to reverse the damage once it has occurred. Since the liver is the lynchpin of a healthy metabolism, anything that is good for the liver is good for getting rid of fat in the middle. Polyunsaturated vegetable fats do not offer this protection.
4) Healthy lungs
For proper function, the airspaces of the lungs have to be coated with a thin layer of what’s called lung surfactant. The fat content of lung surfactant is 100 percent saturated fatty acids. Replacement of these critical fats by other types of fat makes faulty surfactant and potentially causes breathing difficulties. Absence of the correct amount and composition of this material leads to collapse of the airspaces and respiratory distress. It’s what’s missing in the lungs of premature infants who develop the breathing disorder called infant respiratory distress syndrome. Some researchers feel that the wholesale substitution of partially hydrogenated (trans) fats for naturally saturated fats in commercially prepared foods may be playing a role in the rise of asthma among children. Fortunately, the heyday of trans fats is ending and their use is on the decline. Unfortunately, however, the unreasoning fear of saturated fat leads many people to replace trans fats with an overabundance of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which may prove just as unhealthful.
5) Healthy brain
You will likely be astounded to learn that your brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol. Though many people are now familiar with the importance of the highly unsaturated essential fatty acids found in cold-water fish (EPA and DHA) for normal brain and nerve function, the lion’s share of the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated. A diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.
6) Proper nerve signaling
Certain saturated fats, particularly those found in butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil, function directly as signaling messengers that influence the metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release of insulin. And just any old fat won’t do. Without the correct signals to tell the organs and glands what to do, the job doesn’t get done or gets done improperly.
7) Strong immune system
Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Human breast milk is quite rich in myristic and lauric acid, which have potent germ-killing ability. But the importance of the fats lives on beyond infancy; we need dietary replenishment of them throughout adulthood, middle age, and into seniority to keep the immune system vigilant against the development of cancerous cells as well as infectious invaders.
*We advocate the use of olive oil, but recommend against the use of canola oil, despite its widely perceived healthful reputation. In order to be fit for human consumption, rapeseed oil (which is canola oil) requires significant processing to remove its objectionable taste and smell. Processing damages the oil, creating trans fats. Also, the oil is sensitive to heat, so if used at all, it should never be used to fry foods.
The above post is an exclusive excerpt from Dr. Eades’ newest book, which is directed at people who want to reduce abdominal fat. Despite the title, the principles it details are ideal for anyone who wants to decrease both visceral (internal) and subcutaneous (under the skin) fat in the abdomen.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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691 Replies to “7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat”
In Reason #1, it was said saturated fats increase HDL content. However, according to http://heartdisease.about.com/od/reducingcardiacrisk/a/fatHDL.htm, “Saturated fats blocks beneficial effects of HDL”. Where’s the benefit then?
Furthermore, it stands to reason that lipoprotein (HDL and LDL) levels are increased when saturated fats are eaten, because saturated fats, being saturated, are much more viscous than unsaturated fats, and need cholesterol (transported across the body in lipoproteins) between the fatty acids to make the fat less viscous. This is just a hypothesis, but if it’s correct, then the “beneficial” effect of HDL would be beneficial only because of the increased saturated fat intake. If no saturated fat was eaten, no HDL would be needed to make it less solid.
Not all Canola Oil contains transfats. it all has to do with how oil it is processed. Watch out for the word “hydrogenated”. That is done to allow Canola oil to turn into margarine. Not all margarine has transfats either. Lots do not so read the label. Also the extraction method of crushing the oil from the seed can vary so if your are concerned about the solvents used to extract canola oil purchase something called “cold pressed” or virgin oil. The same goes for oliver oil. Never trust just a single piece of information on the internet (including this one) and remember despite the criticism’s you hear about our medical professionals we are all living longer and heather lives. Most of our problems with health come from over consumption of food and alcohol and exposure to tobacco products either first hand or second hand. Keep exercising and having a positive attitude and you will enjoy Tim’s blog for a long time. ..
Have you read Ray Peat? http://raypeat.com/articles/
He’s a biologist, endocrinologist, and thyroid specialist. He argues that saturated fats are the only safe fats to consume. Unsaturated fats inhibit thyroid production. I’ve been following his advice with good results.
In an interview, Ray Peat makes the interesting point that some animals (cows, sheep) are capable of turning their soy/grain feed into saturated fats, while other animals (pigs, chickens) store dangerous levels of unsaturated fats in their tissue. While lard should be a health food, it is likely that due to the pigs’ feed it is now dangerously unsaturated.
As someone who is about to move to a country famous for the tourist request of ice cubes and bottled water, I was interested in your pre-departure fat intake mentioned in your last China video. I’ve slowly resolved my U.S.-side digestive issues with raw milk and saturated fat. I’m hoping it will carry over to my new destination.
I can’t deny that this type of diet gets results for people. I had a friend lose 50lbs on the Atkins.
Do I think it’s healthy? My gut says “no”. I guess if you’re morbidly obese, this would be the lesser of two evils.
I was able to drop my bad cholesterol by 55 pts in 6 months cutting out red meat and doing atleast 30-60 minutes of cardio 5 days a week.
If you really want to look at losing weight, I saw this program on TLC named “The 650 lb virgin”. It’s a guy, named David Smith, who went from 650lbs to 225lbs. If anyone deserves credit, it’s his trainer – Chris Powell.
Nice work Tim, about time you posted some controversial views on here 🙂 it’s a nice reminder that the snickers I just ate isn’t nearly as bad as I feared.
Except for the GMO’s and all the chemicals in your Snickers bar. It’s weird how people can easily take things out of context and think highly processed crap is real food and then rationalize their bad habits as well.
Nice to see you post the truth about fats. Most people’s knowledge of fats stems for mainstream media and “popular” diet books. It was a nice reference to Dr. Enig in the article as well. If every doctor read her book “Know your Fats” and Dr. Weston Price’s epic work “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” you would see a radical improvement in the health of the population. Oh wait, that might interfere with drug sales, sorry. The human body is not designed to run on only fruits and veggies. I even have 2 landmark works written about 50 years ago on how to prevent heart attacks with protein and fat consumption. More good stuff to make your head spin.
While I eat as much fat and protein as I can get in a day, I do ask patients to buy it organic if they are going to increase their consumption. I think this is a valid point for vegetarians. Most animals are feed-lot or confinement raised. The animals themselves are poorly treated and poorly fed, which means you will be poorly fed. Most are treated with hormones and antibiotics and those nasty additives will be found in the fat.
Organic, naturally raised or caught animals are a vital source of nutrition that humans were meant to eat. The single worst diet advice to come out in the last 50 years was a Low-Fat Diet. Healthy good fats make your skin nice, your brain happy and allows your body to make hormones. No fat, no hormones. A low-fat diet will make you less of a man and less of a woman. I’ll happily eat my eggs in the morning instead of bran muffins and Viagra.
Hi Dr….I find that eating animal products have increased my weight very quickly. I stopped eating animal products and my weight immediately drops and I have had ZERO weight issues and I am in the top 2% in fitness for any age group. I eat a plant based diet, eat lots of carbs, and healthy plant based fats. High animal product consumption will kill people, as it has here in America. This isn’t a scientific theory, this is real world info, that is practiced every day.
Our bodies were designed to thrive on meat. There is a reason the peoples who were native to the lands we now lived on didn’t hunt vegetables and berries. They hunted meat.
You can see the results for over a thousand people who are following the basics of what Stefansson discovered at http://www.zeroinginonhealth.com .
There is absolutley no need for carnivorous humans to consume anything else but meat. It has everything needed and is as simple as it gets.
humans were built to eat meat… ignorant vegans and vegetarians, we shouldn’t have to take supplement because we’re cutting essential foods out of our diet… much like you are, you’re the ones hurting your bodies, and you look like you have jaundice.
and yes, when I see a field of cows, I’m thinking of how delicious some meat would be…
Great article! Also very timely as I just started a new diet a week ago, not to lose weight but to try and fix my GI problems. It’s called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, you should check it out.
Very similar to the atkins except that pretty much all processed foods are out. No starches or complex carbs or sugars are allowed. You can eat fruit and veggies once you’ve been on the diet for a little while and your symptoms are improving.
The book that goes with the diet is called “Breaking the Viscious Cycle” and explains in great detail what’s going on in our stomachs, why this diet works etc. It has also been proven to help people with autism. I would recommend checking it out, very interesting stuff!
So far my experience on the diet has been very good. I have to cook a lot more but if it fixes my stomach it’s worth it. I’ve also lost a little weight as well as an added bonus 🙂
Tim nice post.
It is always good for people to think outside of the box and to not be misled by marketing schemes by governernment run corporations.
The problem I have with this post is that you are just throwing a ‘healthy label’ on saturated fats without giving the full story. Yes, quality saturated fats have an important place in our health, but there are things people should know along with that. By ‘quality’, I mean well-raised and well-treated animals producing healthy flesh and milk.
What people don’t understand is almost all meats these days are pumped up with antibiotics and raised in there own fecal matter which affects our body in a very negative way.
All I am saying is what scares me is people reading this post and going out to the nearest fast food joints and eating the meat from corn-fed cattle which has been very unnaturally raised on either American feedlots or feedlots on land which has been cut down in the Amazon Rainforest.
So to sum it up – get your food from a local farm and enjoy moderation. That spells a healthy and long life.
Here is a cool and related article from my favorite unbiased news source.
Thanks Tim. I would love to speak more with you on this subject. http://www.naturalnews.com/025857_saturated_fat_health_butter.html
@Skyler Tanner: All of the nations listed at the high intake end of the curve are nations with high quality of life rankings, including accessibility to medical treatment. Wouldn’t that undermine any inference to saturated fat being the relevant causal factor? Wouldn’t it be better to look at a random sample of people tested for CV conditions and the proportion of negative to positive diagnoses within those samples, controlling for socioeconomic status, and of course saturated fat intake?
so if your are concerned about the solvents used to extract canola oil purchase something called “cold pressed” or virgin oil
No such thing as virgin canola oil, because rapeseed oil is poisonous without chemical processing.
YES Yes yes…Let us not forget Cocoa Butter (& Chocolate!) or Sesame Seeds (& Oil). Also would add Clarified Butter (AKA Ghee)…preferably from Grass Fed source (CLA!)
I’ve been following Eades’ diet for over 10 years and feel great. At age 40 I feel better than I did at 30, and my health is excellent says my doctor. I know a couple of surgeons who follow the same diet and we have had some interesting discussions over the years. Thanks Tim.
Something I forgot to mention – I had bad asthma problems before going on Eades’ diet a decade ago. About a month after starting the diet, my asthma vanished. I’ve used a Ventolin inhaler less than once a year since then, only due to a nasty allergy to cats which flares things up if I encounter too many of the creatures in a confined area. The benefits to lung health are amazing.
This post was interesting to me. I’m a vegetarian and a pre-med student, so hearing that saturated fat might be good for you is contradictory to what I’ve generally held to be true.
Even if there are health benefits to eating saturated fat, I don’t it’s good advice to tell people they should consume a bunch of saturated fat if they want to lose weight. As a vegetarian, I actually have to seek out foods that are higher in carbohydrates, protein, and fat. If I don’t I can’t get enough calories and I start losing weight.
If you want to lose weight go jogging. Humans are built for running. Few things burn as much fat as a morning jog, and running on a routine basis will help you live longer and healthier. I run three miles every morning, and I have noticed that I look and feel healthier than I was before I started running. Americans over-consume and under-exercise. If you want to lose weight you shouldn’t do it by adding in a steak at dinner.
That said, their does seem to be a misconception that eating saturated fat causes weight gain. Carbohydrates cause weight gain. In particular, sugar causes weight gain because it is metabolized really fast and raises your blood sugar. Then your body has to lower your blood sugar by using insulin to store it as fat.
Anyway, I think you should have written the post about how it’s a misconception that consuming fat causes weight gain. Instead, you wrote a post that makes it sound like it’s a good idea to only eat fatty meat. An all meat diet would be horrible for you. Think scurvy.
@Rod Smith – I had a similar experience. I suffered from lifelong asthma and was on daily drugs and inhalers. However, after switching to a whole foods diet that is now composed of basically organic beef, no sugar or processed foods, my asthma has vanished. Also other health problems, including all allergies and eczema. I also eat very little dairy products. My energy has never been better, and haven’t had the need to see a doctor in over 12 years now, since I switched my diet.
112 comments? Holy crap. This post is taking off like a space shuttle. Just tweeted/stumbled it to help out.
“Fruits and veggies provide us everything we need to thrive, not just survive.”
This is one of the more troubling comments, and is simply not true. While I was certainly aware many vegetarians believed this to be true, to actually read it is a bit of a wake up call.
Again, take it from a former vegan- if you are a vegetarian to any degree and also believe it to be optimal for your health, you are sorely mistaken.
You have every right not to eat animals…but you are undermining your health in the process, and should be well aware of that fact if you choose to not eat animal products. There are many websites, blogs, articles, and books detailing why- just let go emotionally and take a rational look at nutrition.
A not-so-new analysis of this topic, coming to remarkably similar conclusions, is available in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon. This is from 1999, and is full of useful recipes. Check it out!
“You have every right not to eat animals…but you are undermining your health in the process, and should be well aware of that fact if you choose to not eat animal products. There are many websites, blogs, articles, and books detailing why- just let go emotionally and take a rational look at nutrition.”
Point me in the right direction. Where is a study that shows you are less healthy if you don’t meat? I don’t mean a blog article, I mean a real study. There are large, peer reviewed studies that show vegetarians actually have a slightly longer average lifespan. Do vegetarians live longer because they don’t eat meat? Probably not. It’s probably because the average vegetarian pays more attention to eating healthy and so is more likely to consume less crap and maintain a healthy weight. But these studies do prove that you can be healthy without eating meat. You do need to pay attention to your diet, but you can be a healthy long-lived person without eating any meat.
Tim, when someone says a negative comment, most of the time you sign off by saying “All the best”. That’s pretty cool to keep things positive =)
The more I read about recommendations from health experts, the more it seems like politics to me. Person A says, X will kill you, Person B says it’ll save your life. Same goes for Republicans and Democrats.
I think the most helpful advice one could possibly offer isn’t really whether or not X is good for you or not, but how, as consumers/humans we can best analyze what is the truth from theory. . .essentially we need a BS “fact checker” like they have around election time. After all, statistics are so easy to skew in any singular direction if one tries hard enough, the difficulty as readers is to get beyond the promotional hype.
Or, perhaps as one commenter said, avoid the boxes and you’ll be in pretty good shape from there. As my grandfather always said. . .everything in moderation.
Thanks again, Tim.
I was glad to see mention of the fats researcher Mary Enig, Ph.D. in the post. You can find a wealth of fascinating work from her at the following website: http://www.westonaprice.org/tour/index.html – this is a non-profit foundation so no product promotions there that I’ve seen, just a wealth of information.
Her prescription for health is similar to the Paleo Diet, but the differences are interesting – more saturated fats and organ meats, raw milk/butter, less muscle meat, plus fermented and sprouted grains. It’s not high protein/low carb like Atkins. Also, she makes a pretty good case against the politically correct nutritional “group think” she believes our society is mired in today, which includes the idea that saturated fats *cause* heart disease.
I stumbled across her work on the health benefits of more fatty traditional diets (pre-industrial) about a year ago. I was already eating organic everything, including meat, but I tried incorporating raw milk/butter, cod liver oil, organ meats (liver), and saturated fats (coconut/palm oils, fatty meats). I noticed a pretty dramatic improvement in my general health and energy levels, and most remarkable was an apparent gain in muscle mass/strength without any exercise increase. I was a bit surprised because the incorporation of fatty meats into my diet had actually decreased my overall protein intake (you feel full faster). The change struck me as hormonal in nature, like a small steroid injection. More likely though is the idea that my hormonal system wasn’t 100% without these foods. Most of these foods have either a direct or indirect hormonal support effect (read about the bio-available forms of vitamin A & D in cod liver oil and how deficient most Americans probably are).
BTW, if you haven’t read the Weston Price research on the developmental benefits of pre-industrial diets, please do – it’s fascinating and not a little scary. It doesn’t live up to modern scientific standards, but can be viewed as an interesting starting point for further research.
For anyone who gets this far into the comments, I’d like point out that there is a website dedicated to the all meat diet called zeroinginonhealth.com created by Charles Washington. It contains a wealth of scientifically backed discussion about the health benefits, the history and more, as well as a forum for those following this diet.
I’m with you. I hate to see controversial statement made (especially scientific ones) with no citation support. When you write a book for the layman – as we did this one – the publisher makes the call as to whether citations will be included and, if so, how. Space constraints limited us to a bibliography in the back rather than the chapter by chapter format we would have preferred. Having said that, however, I can give you a few sources here to check out.
Read Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” a book describing in great detail how we came to look upon saturated fat as bad in the first place. Gary is the most decorated – in terms of awards for scientific writing – scientific writer working today. If you don’t want to read his book – which is huge – try Googling ‘The Soft Science of Dietary Fat’ to get an article he wrote for “Science,” the most prestigious scientific journal in the US.
You can also take a look here at an article written in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism discussing saturated fat intake and low-carbohydrate diets:
For more info, you can take a look at the Weston A. Price Foundation site for a number of different discussions of saturated fat.
Finally, there is a terrific article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discussing the bad rap saturated fat has gotten. I would provide a link, but for some reason the AJCN site is down. I’ll check back later and get it for you.
There are many such studies that show the benefits of saturated fat intake for cardiovascular health as well, which isn’t covered in the 7 Reasons that Tim excerpted from the whole book. Stearic acid, for instance, a saturated fat found richly in meat, has been shown to lower cholesterol levels in study after study. (See ‘The Soft Science of Dietary Fat’ mentioned above.) You are correct in saying that we can’t possibly know whether saturated fat (or any other kind of fat) is either good or bad for us without long-term, randomized studies. Problem is, those studies will never take place because you can really randomize those kinds of studies for the long periods of time needed for definitive data. But that didn’t stop the nutritional authorities from recommending low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets based on virtually no evidence that they are efficacious for anything to the entire nation. We’ve all been unwitting subjects in a long-term experiment the hypothesis of which is that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is good for us. And we’ve reaped the rewards, such as they are. Obesity and type II diabetes are at epidemic levels. Clearly such a diet isn’t the way to go.
Indeed it does, which is why Banting’s book is both carried as a download on our website and why he and his letter figure prominently in this book (in the section of the book immediately before the one Tim began his excerpt) and several of our previous books.
I’d like to see a discussion of this concept with Tony Robbins and Tim. Tony teaches that ultimate health depends on an alkaline diet and to eliminate food that creates acid in the body (ie. saturated fat). Since learning about the science behind the acid-alkaline balance, I have turned to a vegetarian/green smoothie lifestyle. And I now have more energy than ever before.
While I do not completely agree, it was a great and interesting read Tim, thanks!
No reason to flame anyone for a misperception of the historic record. Granted lions and tigers and bears have the sharp teeth and claws that allow them to be effective hunters. Those are their ‘innate tools’ endowed by nature. Likewise, humans developed a large brain and an opposable thumb that we could use to make tools, and that allowed us from move from having to scavenge to being able to hunt. Australopithicus used tools to scavenge and butcher animals; modern chimpanzees, likewise, use tools to ‘fish’ for grubs and maggots and hunt cooperatively. The paleonutritional record is quite unequivocal about what early humans ate, prior to the invention of agriculture, and it was mainly the meat of large animals. Sometimes the historical record and a person’s particular beliefs may collide, but it doesn’t change the record. It took Paleolithic man about a thousand years to travel from the Bering Strait to the bottom of South America completely wiping our most of the large animals along the way. Primitive man hunted the Cave Bear to extinction. Cave Bears are monstrous animals with huge jaws, yet they were no match for man and a sharpened stick, especially when man had his heart set on fat.
Natural steak and bacon (organic pasture, raised without hormones or antibiotics, minimally processed without preservatives, additives, nitrites, etc) and cage free organic eggs are available at all natural food groceries, many online purveyors, and now even at many big chain grocery stores.
The China Study is not what it appears. What you’ve read, if you’ve read it, is an abbreviated, cherry-picked, popular press reporting of the real study. Read Chris Masterjohn’s review of it to get the real story.
You have to remember that this post represents just a couple of paragraph excerpted from an entire book, which has much more in it that just the recommendation for eating more saturated fat, the medical benefits of which have been proven again and again and for which we cite numerous medical articles from peer reviewed journals in the bibliography for the book. However much one might believe it, there is no proof that LDL cholesterol is a marker for heart disease (also abundantly researched in the medical literature and citations provided in the book) except in having an abundance of the small-dense type of particle, which usually increases on a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet, so the studies show.
This is why I included a little data on indigenous populations for comparison. Stephen over at whole health source (the last link in my post) has huge amounts of data on the health and well being of these individuals with zero (or near zero if you count the medicine man 😉 ) health care options.
The AJCN website finally opened back up. Here is a link to a recent article on saturated fat from this most mainstream of scientific journals.
I also want to recommend The 80/10/10 Diet book to you. Humans are frugivores, meaning that our species appropriate diet is one predominated by fruits.
I’ve been eating a raw food diet of mostly sweet fruit, along with greens and non-sweet fruits and minimal fats for almost 2 years now. I’ve never felt better. 🙂
I am 5’7″ and used to weigh 88kg (I think around 200 lbs).
Over the course of 2 years, I lost 27kg to 61kg – around 135lbs.
By cutting out bread, sugary carbs. No carbs except porridge and wild race (and alcohol whenever I drank).
Rest of the time, tuna, fish, chicken, vegies, salad, loads of cheese, avocado etc.
So, I agree. Great way to lose weight. I’m an elite hill climbing ninja on my road bike (pushie now) and wreck big heavy sprint cats.
Anyone wanting to lose weight, forget everything you’ve learned. Toss weights around, run, ride, surf, swim and eat fats meats and vegies.
I would refer you to Lierre Keith’s new book “The Vegetarian Myth” for a tightly-reasoned refutation of all three. Ms. Keith was a vegan for 20 years before she saw the light. Her book is a terrific read for the prose style alone.
@ David Neeley
I would very much appreciate it if you could show me the studies demonstrating that the Atkins or any other low-carb diet has been harmful over the long run. I would be willing to bet you can’t do it. If for no other reason than that there haven’t been any long-term studies. In the longest-term studies done to date, the low-carb diet at best significantly outperforms the low-fat diet and at worst is equal to the low-fat diet. If you can show me contrary data, I would love to see them.
Again, I recommend “The Vegetarian Myth.”
You are right that different saturated fats behave differently in the body. But I would be curious to hear your ideas on where saturated fats come from in the first place. We can make 16-carbon saturated fats from excess carbohydrate consumption, but where else do they come from? We have desaturase enzymes that can make saturated fats into unsaturated fats, and we have elongase enzymes that allow us to make longer carbon-chained fatty acids, but where are the saturases that would allow us to make saturated fats from unsaturated fats? And where are the ‘shortases’ (for lack of a better term) that allow us to make longer chains into shorter ones. We don’t have these enzymes, and, as a consequence, in order to get the saturated fats we need, we have to consume them or eat a whole lot of carbs and pay the consequences.
We have a huge problem!
About 80% of the rain forest that has disappeared have done so because of the meat industry. Whatever your view is on weigh loss, getting people to eat more meat is clearly not the answer. I hope you see that Tim is suggesting locally grass fed animals.
I have studied and experimented with healthy eating (not dieting) with an open mind (I hope) for many years. I see these camps of believers on theory a or b or c. where this post could represent one such camp. They all have lots of scientific data backing their beliefs.
Remember, Tim is, a young free cool guy experimenting and having fun with life. Give Tim 1 more year, and he will, like most of us, have a different view on most things, like food. Give him 5 years and he will possibly laugh at this post. Give him 10, 20, 40 more years..? Isnt it so Tim? Was your view on food 5 years ago, the same as today?
For ultimate health, (and ultimate unsocial life), google “Instinctive Nutrition”. They probably have come close to finding an optimal way of eating for animal human health. (ps. they eat raw meat). Tim, if you want to experiment, this is the ultimate diet.
Good luck everybody! Life is beautiful!
Some food for thought from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
“It’s not worth living in this planet — walking, talking, eating, drinking, doing anything — if the heart is not opened. And 95% of the population, I could even say 99% of the population, dies without the heart being opened.”
“You eat, and after eating you should not think about eating. Same thing, sex. You have sex — finished; afterwards you should not carry sex in the head all the 24 hours.”
Yes, I recommend local and grass-fed whenever possible, but keep in mind that saturated fat does not necessarily require eating beef.
All the best,
This is an interesting one. Being a scientist, I feel the need to ask for citations? Any chance you can reference the research regarding cardiovascular risk factors, specifically your claim that saturated fat increases HDL and causes women to lose weight?
I’ve just read your post to my father (a doctor for the past 25 years) and he says it’s not true.
In response to @Anthony…. I completely agree that we could not have survived for the last 2 million years and that vegetarianism is impossible without modern civilization/agriculture. But that doesn’t mean that we should continue doing what we’ve been doing. Because of our modern technology, we are evolving to where killing animals for food isn’t AS necessary. Ultimately, eating consciously is the key…. conscious of other living beings as well as what your own body needs.
Just as for some a vegetarian diet isn’t healthy, for others a high meat diet isn’t healthy. And, I realize that my protein intake is much lower than a 250 lb. man. I also know that if I were to eat a predominantly meat diet I would physically feel awful and heighten my genetic risk for heart disease, among other things.
I just had a Baconator from Wendy’s….thank Tim! I feel much better about myself after having read your post.
Can I preface my comment with the plea, “Please don’t shoot me”?
That requested, I would like to say that I would never follow business advice from someone who is poor. So, why follow nutritional advice from a group of people, doctors, who are notorious for having bad health and dying at a younger age than the rest of us.
Whenever I’m asked what to do in a situation, I usually respond by telling the inquirer that they would do good to find someone who has succeeded in that area. How do you find them? You will know them by their fruits, their actions speak volumes above their words.
My personal observation is that there is an epidemic in America. It is called Lifestyle Disease and is caused by following the SAD (Standard American Diet). Eating a diet rich in animal products leads to many illnesses to which the medical establishment either charges you to cut out parts of your body or prescribes pharmaceutic medications to cover the symptoms. Hmmm… I think I’ll pass.
Thanks for the data. Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s research into food preferences among the blood types strongly favors an all meat diet for the “O” blood group. Being of that group, I have found subjectively that this is very very true for myself. Hubby is a “B” blood type and he favors the fats in dairy products and olive oils and eggs (otherwise being a vegetarian — no meats).
Training myself to eat only meats was the trick because my body had become unbalanced and developed some unnatural cravings, and I had to tame some “critters” in the body before I could get back to that nice ketogenic state where my blood sugar stays very level even in a fasting state. I have to eat very little or no carbs to maintain this nice state. As a total meat eater I find that downing some organic apple cider vinegar or raw lemon juice (as indicates) mixed with olive oil helps to keep the body’s Ph level tuned.
Also one has to now go organic regarding most sources of fats or suffer the side effects of synthetic estrogens, antiobiotics, etc.
Me, I purchase “medium” ground beef from a butcher and then have my local shaman come over and bless it — It’s all good once it’s been given the right spin, lol.
Oh, just to fill out the picture, I do eat dark green leafy vegetables such as dandelion greens, swiss chard, beet greens, some romaine lettuce, preferably cooked in butter or drowned in olive oil, yummy!
Oh, one last thing (I promise!), stick with the expensive celtic sea salt — a little bit goes a long way, and you won’t be sorry either.
“Natural steak and bacon (organic pasture, raised without hormones or antibiotics, minimally processed without preservatives, additives, nitrites, etc) and cage free organic eggs are available at all natural food groceries, many online purveyors, and now even at many big chain grocery stores.”
Would it be possible to add this to the “footnotes” above? The way it stands now organic is only mentioned in reference to lard. I am afraid a ton of people will go out and get on an all-meat diet from conventional sources and the thought just pains me!
When someone is against eating meats I first ask them what their blood type is. Most vegetarians are “A” or “B” blood group and they might not fare as well on a red meat/all meat diet as the “O” blood group.
My mother-in-law is an “O” blood type that comes from a group that historically ate a lot of fish and so she thinks everyone should eat only fish fats and oils and she can’t stand the saturated fats from red meats, so even among the “O” blood group there are some differences. My genetic “O” background definitely favors the beef and mutton, and please do not trim the fat!! 🙂 As long as I stay away from the carbs and the desert tray I stay slender and happy.
When I was a kid the only reason I ate breads, pasta, potatoes and my Cream of Wheat was because it was a receptacle for the butter and fatty gravy. 🙂
If I do occassionally decide to eat some pasta, I make sure it is spelt pasta.
It’s not the animal products…it’s the carbs. Any study you might cite *proving* the ills of red meat and saturated fats ALL include carbs in the menu…which is why these studies are irrevocably flawed and utterly discredited.
If you wish to see the *fruits* of a zero carb diet (i.e. a diet of fatty meat and water), go to Charles Washington’s website (already mentioned in an earlier comment). I just returned from the Virginia Beach Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon where I watched (and videoed) Charles run it in 1:40, fueled only by meat and water.
After a quick literature search I came across a systematic review which found:
“There is convincing evidence that a higher protein intake increases thermogenesis and satiety compared to diets of lower protein content. The weight of evidence also suggests that high protein meals lead to a reduced subsequent energy intake. Some evidence suggests that diets higher in protein result in an increased weight loss and fat loss as compared to diets lower in protein, but findings have not been consistent. In dietary practice, it may be beneficial to partially replace refined carbohydrate with protein sources that are low in saturated fat. Although recent evidence supports potential benefit, rigorous longer-term studies are needed to investigate the effects of high protein diets on weight loss and weight maintenance. ” Halton & Frank (2004) The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review – Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 5, 373-385
What this says, is that high protein (which are often also high sat fat) diets achieve is not getting hungry afterward. This is consistent with the other finding that I consistently found: that obesity is caused by an energy intake/output imbalance (ie consuming more energy than you expend leads to fat gain and obesity).
The studies I found appeared to have no significant difference in weight loss between diet composition, when the energy intake was equal.
It looks like high saturated fat diets are equated with RAPID weight loss over the short term, however they are also associated with increases in negative blood indicators. High protein, reduced saturated fat diets are associated with a healthier but slightly less rapid weight loss.
The take home measage for me (I think) is Meat + 3 veg still better than fast food + soft drink.
Great post Tim! I read this just as I was finishing a plate of beef mixed with peppers and mushrooms soaked with butter.
For anybody who doubts, since I switched to a cyclical ketogenic diet (extremely low carb until the weekends) my terrible chronic childhood alllergies went away, I lost my excess fat, and was able to put on about 10 lbs of good muscle in less than a year. Not to mention the greatly boosted energy levels and alertness… so yes, what Tim is talking about works for humans too, not animals.
Now, there’s the possibility that this doesn’t work for everybody, since we’re all pretty different, but it’s worth a shot. And for the naysayers, there’s quite a bit of evidence out there to back up Tim (as usual).
Also, I’m not trying to make an ad or anything, but if you’re interested in fitness/low-carb/meat diet, check out http://musclehack.com. The guy who runs it has a good (free) eBook that’s a good crash course on this stuff.
@Skyler The Whole Health Source blog is fantastic!
The problem with the SAD is the carbohydrates and so-called good fats, not animal products.
I think that Dr Eades to the 2004 ACJN article ) he references (interestingly done at the Nestle Institute ) summarizes it best:
“the influence of varying saturated fatty acid intakes against a background of different individual lifestyles and genetic backgrounds should also be considered.”
Does decreasing saturated fats and replacing them with highly processed ,sugar dense ” non fat ” foods worsen your health? Probably. Do we need, and will we generally do better physically with some saturated fat in our diet? Certainly. But that is a far cry from advocating increasing saturated fat ( organic or otherwise ) across the board in people’s diets without carefully considering where they are as unique individuals.
There is a certain type of truth contained in science, and it can be a useful tool, but I would suggest that a more intuitive, Eastern approach to diet and lifestyle will go much further to improving a unique person’s health overall than joining the latest Herd mentality diet approach that Americans are so fond of.
I don’t think it is true either. But would be willing to put my doubts aside if someone could point to a study. It’s a big world and you can find two doctors that think just about anything.
Comment was in reply to adam’s post.
This is an interesting one. Being a scientist, I feel the need to ask for citations? Any chance you can reference the research regarding cardiovascular risk factors, specifically your claim that saturated fat increases HDL and causes women to lose weight?
I’ve just read your post to my father (a doctor for the past 25 years) and he says it’s not true.”
I don’t think it is true either. But would be willing to put my doubts aside if someone could point to a study. It’s a big world and you can find two doctors that think just about anything.
great info. I eat quite a bit of buffalo here in Colorado. It’s purported to be more nutrient dense than others, but not much fat..you inspired me to uncover these facts:
“Buffalo meat contains only 2.4 grams of fat per 3.5 oz. (100 grams), while beef contains a whoppingly higher count, at 9.2 grams.
There are a lot of ‘ifs’ implied in your comment. If global warming (or climate change as it’s called now) exists, if it poses a problem, if it’s man made – all these ifs are far from settled. Those who believe in the above have managed to demonized those who don’t as deniers in a way that puts them on par with those who deny the holocaust. But let me assure you, there are countless scientists who don’t buy into it.
Having said that, let’s walk through where the carbon from beef comes from. It comes from plants that pull CO2 from the air. The carbon of plants that isn’t exhaled as CO2 by the cattle becomes the carbon of beef. When we eat that beef, the beef carbon becomes part of our carbon if we’re growing or repairing tissue; the rest we exhale as CO2. There is no CO2 increase because we eat beef or any other animal.
You show me the studies, I’ll comment on them. It’s easy to say – as people often do – that traditional diets bring about the greatest health benefits and longevity, but these statements need to be backed up with actual studies, and none I’ve seen have been forthcoming. Many people have bought into the ideas promoted in the China Study. See above for my comments on that one.
You wrote “This is just the yin to veganism’s yang. Lean too far in one direction and you lose the other and that conflicts with nature’s tendency towards balance.” These kinds of things sound nice to say, but I think they are kind of meaningless. Where does it say anywhere that nature’s tendency is towards balance? Lions savage warthogs and gazelles, and lions don’t eat plants. That’s certainly nature. Where is the balance there? Probably the statement I’ve heard most often in my career is the old ‘all things in moderation.’ Has it been proven that all things in moderation are best? When lions kill a warthog or other large animal, they eat gorge until nothing is left but the bones. Is that moderation?
In my view canola oil has a couple of problems. If you get the real stuff – and most people don’t because it’s kind of nasty – you have a problem with the PUFA in it if you’re using it to cook. If you get the processed kind (most that’s available), you get a stabilized version in which most of the PUFA has been converted to trans fat, which is why it doesn’t smoke. Canola oil, i.e., rapeseed oil, has a bad smell as it comes off the seen, so it must be deodorized to make it palatable. This deodorization process – at least as it existed a few years ago – results in the production of trans fatty acids. The labels may say that it contains no partially hydrogenated fats (meaning the oil didn’t go through the hydrogenation process specifically), but if it’s deodorized it does. And I can’t imagine anyone using the non-deodorized variety.
A Matthew Rehrl
This is just a short excerpt from the book. We deal with the issues you mention in the rest of the book.
For some, it clearly is necessary. Recommend that you read two books: ‘Covenant with the Wild’ and ‘The Vegetarian Myth.’
I would think it is beyond the scope of the comments section to argue these issues in detail. I would encourage you to read the material by Gary Taubes listed in my comments above.
There is some evidence that saturated fat raises LDL somewhat. But there is no conclusive evidence that elevated LDL (or any other lipid parameter, for that matter) causes heart disease. That’s why even the so-called experts still refer to it as the lipid hypothesis: because it has never been proven.
Evidence that is still not conclusive but still stronger than the notion that elevated LDL causes heart disease rests more with the size of the LDL particles. Small, dense LDL particles, the type B phenotype, are much more highly correlated with the development of coronary artery disease than are the larger, fluffier type A particles. Fewer carbohydrates in the diet along with more saturated fat drive LDL particles from the dangerous type Bs to the non-dangerous type As.
A study in the advance online issue of this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that vegetarians, vegans especially, have lower bone densities than omnivores. The Rancho Bernardo Study showed that elderly that got protein from animal sources had greater bone density than those who got equivalent amounts of protein from non-animal sources. Both of the above studies are observational studies, which means they can’t be used to prove causality. Only randomized, controlled trials can do that. I would love to see a RCT showing what you purport to be the case with vegetarians and bone mineral density. I know you didn’t mention it specifically, but that was the implication vis a vis calcium needs.
I’m afraid you’ve fallen in lockstep with the rest of the reductionist allopathic industry.
Sloganistic flag-waving about saturated vs. unsaturated, protein vs. carbohydrates, and meat vs. vegetables only feeds into the magic pill thinking that has turned the West into the most obsessive and confused eaters in the world.
The Chinese, and to some extent the Indians, are thousands of years ahead of us. Foods are warming, cooling, drying, dampening, and so on. Their thermal nature is influenced by a variety of factors, including preparation, environment, the mental and emotional states of the one cooking the food and eating it, and so on.
Please read “Healing With Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford, highly regarded as the magnum opus on the topic.
The book doesn’t advocate eating only meat. This is just an excerpt of a tiny part of the book. We cover pretty much everything in your comment.
All of which we recommend in the book itself. This is just a tiny excerpt of a complete book.
See my comment above about meat consumption and global warming. BTW if you have the data to prove that “meat production in the U.S. creates more earth warming emissions than every car and truck on the road,” I would love to see it. Please don’t provide press reports, editorials, TV blurbs or other secondary sources – critical thinkers look beyond those. I want to see the primary sources.
This is the Dean Ornish argument and it doesn’t hold water. Cholesterol is cholesterol. LDL and HDL are proteins. Cholesterol is not soluble in water and therefor can’t cross the travel in the blood to where it needs to get to without being attached to a protein (LDL, HDL or others). LDL is the protein that takes cholesterol from the liver where most is made to the rest of the body; HDL is the protein that scavenges excess cholesterol, brings it back and dumps it in the liver where it can be recycled, i.e., attached to another LDL to start the process again. Has little, if anything, to do with saturated fat.
“Lions don’t eat plants.”
This one did:
This is the Dean Ornish argument and it doesn’t hold water. Cholesterol is cholesterol. LDL and HDL are proteins.
Timmy! I just finished my personal trainer certification and am FASCINATED by your “geek to FREAK” blog post! I’m thinking about doing it (I’d be my own perfect advertising!) , but am slightly worried about getting a bunch of stretch marks from the quick growth. Did that happen to you?
No new aches and pains after it?
Also, are/were you able to dunk a basketball after it? You didn’t test your vertical?! tsk tsk tsk!
This subject means a lot to me and I’d be “pumped” to get a response. Thank you.
I LOVES me some saturated fat! I take a tablespoon of “herbs of light coconut oil” everyday! yurm yurmmm!
Thanks for the comment. I didn’t experience any stretch marks, but I honestly don’t know what to attribute this to. Most stretch marks I’ve seen on males are in the chest area, and I didn’t grow as much there as elsewhere. Agreed on the vertical. I wish I’d tested it.
Good luck with gaining! The eating is the key.
Although I believe the population sample was small in both studies, didn’t the Dean Ornish LifeStyle Heart Study and the Heidelberg Heart Study show a reduction in coronary artery stenosis with vegetarian and low fat diets respectively ? We are not talking about blood tests here, but actual measured blockages in coronary arteries. lesions. More importantly, ( if I recall correctly from a talk he gave ), didn’ t these people feel better?
Are there any controlled studies which have measured either
a) reduction in coronary blockage diameters , or
b) decreased mortality
with increased saturated fat content ?
Speak for yourself.
@Dr. Eades – I implore you to watch Food, Inc. (if you have not already) which Tim found important enough to say : “Every American should watch the new Food, Inc.: http://su.pr/8hvQ00 Think Omnivore’s Dilemma from @michaelpollan in film.” (on Twitter)
Meat production in the US is absolutely a huge polluter, among other things, global warming (even) aside, not to mention the health detriment. Which is why I ask again to add the message about eating meat from organic/grass fed sources in the above footnotes…case in point a troubling comment just posted here:
September 7th, 2009
I just had a Baconator from Wendy’s….thank Tim! I feel much better about myself after having read your post.
Thanks & thanks also for your important work.
It doesn’t matter how many times you point out that blood lipid levels improve on a low carb diet, everyone knows meat can’t be good for you. How dare your doctors challenge our orthodoxy? Facts don’t count.
I”m a long-time fan of (both) Dr Eades work, and have been sold for about 5 years on the notion that protein and saturated fat is where ideal health lies. It took me a good 18 months to get my head around it, but in the end I couldn’t ignore the remarkable changes I saw take place in a friend who was eating that way.
Since then I’ve had increasingly less trouble managing my own health and weight and have been able to very successfully share my approach with clients and readers. The proof, as they say, really is in the pudding, and anyone has tried eating this way will soon become intrinsically convinced that it’s right.
Having said all that, I too would LOVE some more references. I really struggle to find them to use in my own blogging/writing. I have loads of references in my library, but am trying to build a good online resource center as well. Any suggestions for the best starting points would be greatly appreciated; I’m still not as savvy as I’d like to be when it comes to finding and dissecting data online.
IT’S ABOUT F***ING TIME someone made this known to the world (please pardon the caps, just a bit excited).
For so long I’ve been hearing about more and more people preaching the low meat, low fat lifestyle which is 95% bogus due to the nutritional needs of the human physiology (the extra 5% is for people who actually have medical dietary restrictions). It is so refreshing and reinvigorating to hear/read about the definite benefits of meat and fats. Of course, one must always practice moderation, common sense people!
Fats are not only good for you (in rational quantities) but they add tons of flavor to the meat when cooking.
I jumped on the sat fat wagon a few years ago, after discovering the Weston Price site.
Now I eat between 1/2 and 1 pound of butter and half a dozen to a dozen eggs a week. I also weaned myself off refined carbs, for the most part. No exercise program.
The results are higher mental sharpness, more stable mood (no more mood swings), and incredibly low body fat (I have a six pack and veins popping out of my arms, with zero workouts). My doctor tells me that my cholesterol numbers are ‘excellent.’
Ask any rural, man’s-man type farmer or butcher and they will agree that eating fatty meat is essential to good health and energy.
If you want to see what eating good fat does to your body, look up Sally Fallon on google video. She is over 60 years old and has been eating lard-sauteed veggies and whole milk and raw butter for 30-ish years. She looks less than 45 by today’s standards. And all four of her kids had naturally straight teeth, even though Sally and her husband required orthodontics. (not due owing to saturated fat, but likely also to fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K that come packaged with high-quality saturated animal fats)
But that doesn’t mean I eat at Mcdonald’s. QUALITY is everything.
@J. Alden Page
“Think scurvy.” That’s exactly what Viljhalmar Stefansson thought when he set out to live with and analyze the diets of the Inuit in northern Canada. (Stefansson achieved fame back in the early 1920s for going on an all-meat diet for two years under a physicians supervision at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. Stefansson and another explorer (two men were the subjects) emerged from the study healthier and lighter than they went in. Neither got scurvy.) Stefansson found in his years with the Inuit that something in fresh or lightly cooked meat – but not overcooked meat – prevents scurvy. It’s either the vitamin C in the meat that has the antiscorbutic effect or another as of yet discovered substance.
There it is at last: all things in moderation. I would like to see the studies showing that eating meat (or anything else) in moderation accomplishes anything.
I do agree that most health recommendations have the same odor as politics and for much the same reason. Most people take politics on faith just as they do diet. And anything accepted on faith is argued all that much harder. Take the current health care bill, for instance. How many people do you know who have actually read it? Now, how many people do you know who have an opinion about it? My case in point. Those who do have an opinion (almost everyone) will come down on the side of the party they belong to. And none of them know what the health bill (the primary source material) says. They all know what the secondary sources (media commentators, editorialists) they believe say, but that’s different than knowing what the thing actually says. People form opinions on politics, nutrition, health, whatever, then begin to seek information and data that confirms this opinion while ignoring data that refutes it. It’s such a common occurrence that it has a name: the confirmation bias.
Saturated fat isn’t alkaline nor is it acidic. And there is no science behind the acid-alkaline balance notion, at least not that pertains to fat. There are foods that theoretically create a little more acid in the blood and those that make the blood more alkaline. Foods belonging to the former group are grains, meat and hard cheeses; foods belonging to the latter are certain fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy and colorful vegetables. It seems like it should work this way in theory, but the reality is a little different. As I mentioned in a comment above, most studies have shown those who eat more animal protein to have greater bone mineral density. Paleolithic man, who most certainly ate a meat-heavy diet most of the time, had cortical bone thickness that was 8-11% greater than modern humans of the same height.
I agree that fats are good for us but how on earth are cooked animal fats possibly healthy for the human body?
I believe that raw plant fats are the way to go. At the same time, consuming ridiculous amounts of animal flesh is highly acidic for the body. Not a great thing if you’re interested in long term health and vitality.
You wrote: “Humans are frugivores, meaning that our species appropriate diet is one predominated by fruits.” This is such a categorical statement that I assume you have proof for it from primary sources, right? Please post because I would love to see it. Thanks in advance.
You wrote: “About 80% of the rain forest that has disappeared have done so because of the meat industry.” I would love to see proof of this from primary sources. Until I do, though, I’m going to continue to seriously doubt it.
Having said that, I do recommend and prefer grass-fed beef for many reasons besides saving the rain forest.
I’ve got your dad trumped. I’ve been a doctor for over 30 years. So, if years in the medical profession equal truth, then I win. 🙂 I’m not surprised, however, that your father disagrees. Once doctors finish their training, most of them get their info from drug reps or other secondary sources who have a bias to push. Ask your dad when was the last time he read a real, live, honest-to-God scientific paper instead of having one summarized for him by a drug rep. For the first 6 or 7 years I was in practice, I didn’t read a scientific paper – it was only after I converted to a nutritional practice that I started. And then realized that most practicing docs don’t keep up with the scientific literature.
Here is a random data for you Tim, Nicaragua used to supply much of McDonald’s beef supply. I am not sure what the numbers are nowadays.
@ Skyler Tanner
Hi- Respectfully I think your comment that
“Population data studies paint the picture: higher saturated fat intake = less heart disease”
isn’t at all supported by your argument. Although the correlation graphically seems accurate, the selection of the X axis ( % fat energy ) is arbitrary, and can’t be used to imply cause and effect.
Look carefully at the data points on the graph. At the upper left you have the countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Russian Federation. At the lower right you have Belgium, France, and Switzerland. It is very unlikely that the only difference between these populations is % fat energy. This graph could have been generated by lots of other selections for x axis ( stress level, smoking, alcohol intake,hair length, percent voting for the green party etc ). Just because someone decided to choice fat energy for the x axis doesn’t imply that CHD is CAUSED by % fat energy – Its more likely that someone who chose the x axis has a specific agenda to sell.
Its what I consider a hubble telescope error – lots of localized precision mathematically , but possibly pointing in entirely in the wrong direction. ( I will qualify this with a ” possibly” because there actually may be a cause and effect relationship – but this graph certainly doesn’t prove it ).
By the way, I think you are 100% on about the stay away as much as possible from boxes theory.
Excellent point, Matthew. Correlation is often confused with causation.
You wrote: “why follow nutritional advice from a group of people, doctors, who are notorious for having bad health and dying at a younger age than the rest of us.” I would be curious to know how you came by this knowledge. Most of the medical and scientific journals I read contain obituaries, and I’ve noticed that most doctors seem to live to pretty ripe old ages, at least as compared to the obituaries I read in the newspaper of the population at large. This little observational study I’ve done is absolutely meaningless (as are all observational studies) other than to establish an hypothesis that can be tested. My hypothesis would be that doctors live longer on average than non-doctors. I would love to see your data that negates my hypothesis. I really don’t know the answer, so if you’ve got data that substantiates your statement, I would love to see it.
@Colleen K. Peltomaa
All of the serious scientific data that I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot on this particular subject) indicates that the different blood types arose through natural selection as a function of particular endemic infectious diseases and have nothing to do with diet. If you have data proving otherwise, I would love to see it.
There are a number of studies showing that higher protein intake increases thermogenesis. Researchers publishing in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explore this issue and conclude that most of the extra calories burned come from gluconeogenesis. In other words, the conversion of protein to glucose. Which would indicate that if you ate a lot of protein and a lot of carb, you wouldn’t necessarily drive gluconeogenesis because you wouldn’t need the sugar.
I intend to watch Food, Inc at some point, but I haven’t yet. When I do it will be with my antennae of suspicion waving because I know what I’ll be seeing is what the producers of the film want me to see, not necessarily what the situation really is.
Here is a link to a different perspective and one you don’t see very often:
The only time I ever get a high cholesterol count is when I am not taking enough of my thyroid medication because I had a thyroidectomy when I was young. It has nothing to do with how much saturated fat I am getting in my diet, but everything to do with my thyroid. For me, low thyroid = high cholesterol.
As a spiritual being and being higher informed, I often ask myself why am I eating at all, but as Carlos Castaneda aptly put it, one must practice “controlled folly” as long as one wishes to engage as a spiritual being with physical bodies and body cultures.
Just as with the spirit, the body also knows its own truth and one gets along best if they perceive the needs of their own particular body. Throw it out of whack though with enough processed sugars and it won’t even know itself what it needs and wants.
My particular body type has been telling me from childhood that its in the meats and in the fats, and I was always very thin until I changed my environment and started eating what the others around me were eating. Thanks, Tim, for helping me to resolve to stick to my meats even though my hubby, a vegetarian, puts a downer on it.
Tonight I checked the grocery stores and so many of the meats are processed with nitrites and nitrates and sugars, and so much of it is pork or chicken. The red meats that have the right proportion of fats to meat tissue are not cheap, especially if organic, but I’d rather eat well and eat less. I tend to stick to the New Zealand lamb and angus beef if I can’t get the organic beef..
About fruit eaters — yes i sometimes think I could live off mangoes and wild blueberries, with an occasional grub or plump grasshopper thrown in. i refuse though to pick through my mate’s hair and eat his lice 🙁
Ok, wait till my clients see this! What have you done Tim?!
Some research articles that are available to anyone (i.e., non-subscribers) are listed at http://www.lowcarbage.com/?page_id=8 There are excerpts of the abstract so you can see if the journal article pertains to the issue you are wondering about.
On March 11 I started the Drs. Eades’ Protein Power diet due to a high triglyceride level that did not respond to a year of fish oil and niacin. I had an allergic reaction to a prescription drug (Tricor) to lower TGL levels, so my doctor was reaching into non-traditional methods. After that year, with TGL still at 344, my doctor suggested reducing all carbs. By April 29, just a few weeks later, my TGL was 106. It has remained at that low level, and my other blood factors (HDL, LDL) are improving.
The issue of satiety (being satisfied with a meal and avoiding in-between meal hunger) is a huge one, and a low carb diet is the only diet I have ever been on that addresses this issue. I simply don’t get hungry between meals. It works as more than a diet, but as a “way of eating” that I will modify, but never leave.
I have had other health benefits from reducing carbs, including one very common ones: I’m free of GERD and no longer take Prilosec (I was on acid reducers for over ten years, including the period when I was on a low fat diet regime).
I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the newest book; Amazon tells me it has shipped already!
Excellent post. I am very curious to try this approach. However, I see a naturopathic doctor and he has removed pork from my diet as he says it introduces/promotes parasites. Other than that, there’s a lot of similar information here. I would also add that people might want to look into the benefits of alkaline water/ionizers. Excellent resource for weight loss.
I love this post. The month before I got married and moved in with my wife I ate steak for supper ever night. I usually had a side order of chips. It was my own secret all meat diet…. not for any dietary concerns but to just live the bachelor life to it’s fullest for the last month. Maybe with this new found information I can bring back “The Summer of Steak”
@Marcie – concerned about enviro impact of Coconut oil? what about MEAT!?
eating all that meat is really the worst thing you can do for the planet. Why do you think we need to grow so much corn and soy in this country? not to feed us.
I definitely eat my share of butter and chocolate (every day) never had a weight problem, now 42, eat whatever I like. However, I’ve cut down drastically on meat over the last year – and seem to be able to eat more than ever without gaining a pound but the trick is a completely balanced diet – whole grains, taking the time to cook good food, veggies, and very low sugar diet – no crap like soft drinks/diet or not. Meat consumption has very little to do with it as far as I’m concerned and all that protein can really be damaging over time. If you really want to be thin and healthy, it’s essential that you learn how to cook fast. You have to make your own food pretty much every day. Get the cheat sheet from Mark Bittman. Do yourselves a favor and read this book – exactly how I eat – and I love to eat well. http://www.amazon.com/Food-Matters-Conscious-Eating-Recipes/dp/1416575642
@Michael R. Eades,
Thanks for your comments, they’ve added a lot to the post. Keep em coming =)
@ M.E. Baz
As long as pork is cooked there should be no concern about parasites. The U.S. pork supply has been free of trichina for years now. Virtually all the cases diagnosed in this country come from undercooked wild game.
You wrote “…all that protein can really be damaging over time.” Could you please explain to me exactly how the protein is going to damage me over time? Do you have primary sources or are you relying on media reports and hearsay (secondary sources) for this information? The truth is that there is no evidence that protein causes any problems over the long term. I refer to these notions (protein is bad, meat is bad, etc.) as vampire myths because they refuse to die no matter how much light of scientific inquiry is thrown on them. They just continue to live on like, well, vampires. Probably the most common of these vampire myths is the one that posits that protein damages the kidneys. A number of scientific studies have shown this not to be the case, but let’s look at a different example, a little less scientific, but more illustrative. The group of people who no doubt consume the most protein of any subset of the population are hard core body builders. It’s not uncommon for these folks to throw back 200-500 grams of protein per day for years. Are lines of body builders a common site outside dialysis centers? Nope. Nor have they proven to be a medical problem that has gained any notice. I can tell you that if body builders were croaking their kidneys, it would be big medical news. And it hasn’t happened.
a clarification of inuit/eskimo ad Vitamin C
nomal shop-bought liver contains at least as much vitamin C as apples.
blood glucose, being apparantly similar in structure to ascorbic acid (Vit C), competes for absorbtion when in high quantities – ie on a high carb diet.
so on low carb, vit c needs are theoretically substantially reduced.
as eskimos ate liver, and no carbs, both their needs for it were relativley low and their sources adequate.
An interesting take with some good points. As with everything there is always divided opinion and counter arguments but i think that it is certainly worth having an open mind and trying new things, particularly if you aren’t where you want to be and a change will make a positive difference.
I’ve been reading a lot of about fats over the last year, so the premise of this book comes as no surprise. I remember feeling disbelief initially, just as so many of the posters above are feeling now. In fact there have already been so many changes in attitudes to specific types of fats over the past 50 years:
–first the idea that all fats are bad;
— then that some fats are OK, such as sunflower and safflower oils and polyunsaturated (Omega 6) oils and the rise of margarine;
–then we had the rise of olive oil and the recognition that the Mediterranean diet confers some protection against heart disease (albeit, ignoring the fact that most Mediterranean cuisines also use a lot of dairy products, high in saturated fats); –then we had the canola revolution, after Canada oil managed to work out a way of processing rapeseed so that the toxic components were rendered edible by hydrogenation;
–then back to polyunsaturated fats with the debate between omega 3, 6 and 9 oils, the rise of fish oil, and correct proportions of these
–and recently the recognition of trans fats as the bad guys of the fat world–hydrogenated fats found in margarines, and used for cooking pastries etc.
–that carbohydrates, especially fructose, play a large part in heart health and lots of fruit (or high fructose corn syrup) are more damaging to our systems than most fats.
And now, evidence (old and new) is being dug out, suggesting that fats are not baddies at all, and even saturated fats are fine!
There are people still believe each of these conflicting viewpoints, all of which were thrown at the general public as the absolute ‘truth’. And each probably holds a grain of truth. The trick is to get to the big picture!
Much of the work I’ve read recently suggests that some saturated fats are better than others (perhaps this book also says that–I look forward to reading it to find out). In particular, i have read that:
–coconut oil (unprocessed)–a saturated fat but with a lot of *medium chain fatty acids*– is generally good, improves heart condition, increases energy, kills bacteria and fungal infections (it contains lauric acid) and has many other positive benefits.
–palm oil, another saturated vegetable oil, is not as good as coconut oil
–fats in meats are of different (better) quality if the meat is grass fed, or, better still, game meat.
–full fat milk and other dairy products are better for us than low fat dairy products since the latter are processed in various ways that reduce their value to us as food, and make them harder to digest. (often with a lot of added sugar, milk solids, thickeners etc, but also the processing involved in removing the fat).
Following a significant amount of reading, my philosophies about food have gelled into two main starting points:
1/ Given that humans evolved over a long period of time, that the period from 100,000 to 1,000,000 years ago is when our systems become adapted to our ‘modern’ diet and way of life, and therefore the foods we ate then and the way we ate them are most likely to be the best for us now… i.e. game meats, fish. lots of vegetables especially bitter/wild greens, some fruits, no grains, mostly raw foods, unprocessed foods, foods in season…
2/ That we are all unique, physiologically. in my family we have two who do well on a diet higher in protein, especially animal protein, with less carbs, especially sugars; and two who need less protein and can even tolerate grains (note that humans have only 2 enzymes to break down grains, while animals that live predominantly on grains have 10 or more).
@ Dr Eades, your participation in this discussion is most welcome.
i suggest you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan before you write anything else about food.
I’ve read it.
please also read pages 9 and 10 of Eating For IBS by Heather VonVorous
Interesting post, I’ve never heard of an all meat diet.
Although I’m not overly concerned with the fat causing heart disease of eating so much meat, one thing about meat that I really do think is bad is all the hormones used to feed the cattle. All the antibiotics to keep them from being sick, the gorwth hormones to help them get fat faster, when the animal dies, all those hormones and antibiotics stay in the meat and get passed onto us who eat it.
That is why personally I try and not eat a lot of red meat, and try and eat organic fed meat where possible.
Cheers for the post!
Dr. Newport’s husband had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was watching her husband quickly deteriorate. After using drugs that slowed down the effects of Alzheimer’s, she looked into clinical drug trials and found one based on MCTs that not only slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s, but offered improvement. Not being able to get her husband into one of these trials, she began to give him Virgin Coconut Oil, and saw incredible improvement in his condition.
The coconut oil he’d ingested seemed to “lift the fog.” He began taking coconut oil every day, and by the fifth day, there was a tremendous improvement. “He would face the day bubbly, more like his old self,” his wife said. More than five months later, his tremors subsided, the visual disturbances that prevented him from reading disappeared, and he became more social and interested in those around him.
A very interesting article Tim. Certainly contrary to a lot of what all of us have been told over the years, and worth investigating further on my behalf.
I have eaten nothing but meat for over a year, I have eaten no liver, and I have not gotten scurvy. I eat most of my meat rare to medium rare. There is plenty of evidence that refined carbohydrates may leech vitamins and minerals from your body, and by eliminating these foods you may also reduce your need for intake of vitamins.
@Matthew Rehrl M.D.
Thank you for the response and for being quite respectful in doing so! I do not believe correlation = causation; I had hoped that my explanation later regarding inflammation and lifestyle would have clarified that there is much more to the equation than merely saturated fat intake (so often blamed as the absolute devil in the heart disease equation). I’ll make sure to further clarify this in future posts.
Also note my response to Anthony Landreth regarding my inclusion of links to data on indigenous populations. He made a similar point regarding wealthy EU nations vs. poorer EU nations.
Hey Tim, I’ve been had this information for years. I found it in Sally Fallon’s Book. “Nourishing Traditions” on top of dispelling all the myths surrounding saturated fats. She great examples of myths surrounding whole grains too, specifically, how to prepare them and how they can be bad for you if they are not prepared properly. I have proven all of this with my own daily consumptions. She mentioned how before the advent of corn oil heart attacks was almost non-existent, despite the fact that americans far more butter and milk than they do now. I get a good laugh out of seeing some of the dietary recommendations from on tv and in books sometimes.
Sally mentioned an experiment that was done on rats in the 60s, where a group of rats ate corn flakes and another group at the box, the rats that ate the cornflakes died two weeks on average before the ones that ate the corn flakes box.
Thank you for being so responsive to everyones comments.
In the broader context of obesity and following diet or exercise programs do you have any thoughts on habit formation? In other words, even if we are able to define an individuals perfect regime over time, how does he/she make the daily individual choices to follow it? ( I am most interested in some of the new insights regarding neuroplasticity, and was wondering if there is any research being done in this area ).
Both personally and professionally, I have seen that if someone does something daily for 30-40 days, then it becomes a new habit, but I haven’t seen much to back that up. Thoughts on this? How do you change a habit?
Thanks for this article, Tim!!
I am very much enjoying the comments and the debates while waiting to get my copy of The Six Week Cure…
@Kathryn – palm oil, not coconut oil. And please see my other comments here, I am quite aware of the impact (commercial) meat production is having…and thanks for the book recommendation, I think that had come across my radar before 🙂
@Dr. Eades, thanks also for the article, I shall also read it with my antennae up 🙂 And regarding the comment that said meat production produces more emissions than cars, the data is in this very long report:
but this article summarizes it:
I realize it’s a few years old, I would guess the numbers probably scale up nicely with population growth.
The earth is overpopulated. I just don’t see a “clean” solution to that problem on either side of the debate, other than a lot of birth control…sigh. Thanks again!
Another great book on the topic of meat and heart disease is The Heart Doctor’s Cure by Dr. Al Sears. One of his key points is that eating high meat is good for your heart as long as it is grass-fed, and he uses data to show that it is actually grains that cause health problems. When cows/chickens are fed a diet of grains the meat from them is not healthy to eat – grains are not naturally part of their diets.
I’ve been doing loads of research for my diabetes and eating meat is important also because you get filled up and not on carbs (grains, etc) which is the source of middle weight. You should also read the Rosedale Diet.
The real anti-Christ for fat is fast food, as they add sugar to just about everything. If you want to really learn about diseases, read more about sugar and the destruction of blood cells. Also, so many people remove fats, but what they use to make food taste good are artificial sweeteners and fats, and they are so destructive to the body. Read up on interstititial Cystitis.
The secret is eating whole foods (meat, vegetables, berries) and using natural fats (like those found in butter, olive oil). Because the goal shouldn’t be being thin, it should be getting healthy. If you focus on getting healthy getting thin will naturally follow.
Wow, thank you for this post! I too have researched and advocated a high-meat diet, much to the consternation of vegetarians around me.
What is your opinion on the health properties of consuming RAW MEAT? It is wildly supported by some.
It was mentioned earlier, but I haven’t seen you address it. Have you read the China Study? Dr. Campbell points out repeatedly that non of the weight loss studies such as Atkins or South Beach diet follow any type of peer reviewed scientific method.
Curious what your thoughts are on that.
Hi Chris and All,
I’m quite familiar with the China Study. Dr. Eades’ response in the comments is the same as mine.
Today I hopped over to the local market and picked up a leg of lamb (“halal”) and we chopped it down until the cost was under $20Canadian. The butcher kept not hearing me when I asked for the one with the most fat, and finally he heard me and gave me the one with the most fat.
I also can purchase meats from a local farmer, but I don’t like freezing meats.
I agree about not overcooking the meat. I either briefly grill both sides of the steak, or slow cook a roast at not more than 250degrees, and finish when it is still red. Steak tartare tastes great by the way.
Also, I notice that if I eat too much lean meat I get leg cramps at night — too much protein in proportion to the fat?
Another question, what is the best way to de-tox the liver of the accumulated synthetic estrogen? Hubby has been meatless for over 20 years and he still has synthetic estrogen in his liver.
Try Dr Schulze’s Liver Detox. His detoxes are the best I have experienced. Gentle yet effective. I recommend everyone to do them yearly – he has bowel, liver and kidney. Everyone definitely needs to do these cleanses with our western diets… The AMA is now estimating that almost 100% of the population will eventually get a colon disease in life because of our diets??? Gotta cleanse the bowels! Cleansing the liver is quite important too 🙂 Enjoy!
I know there’s always a lot of people put off by the ever-changing dietary advice one hears in the media. My rule of thumb to wading through all of this is to ask this simple question “Doe this make sense in the light of evolution?” An honest, unbiased, apolitical, amoral look at nutrition makes it clear that the paleo/low carb/animal fat crowd have science and reason on their side – every claim they make can be explained in evolutionary terms. Proponents of all other diets (vegetarians, fruitarians, high grain diets, low fat diets) make sense in the light of evolution. As any zookeeper would tell you, matching an animal’s diet as closely as possible to its diet from the wild is ideal, and the same logic should apply to the human animal.
For those concerned about the environmental impact of animal consumption, it should be noted that grassfed/pastured livestock is actually good for the environment. Eating grassfed beef is like driving a Prius, but better! Grassfed/pastured animals require virtually no outside inputs other than sunshine – the same can not be said for industrial vegetable/fruit farming, which relies heavily on petroleum based fertilizer (guess what the best source of organic fertilizer is? Grassfed/pastured animals! See how its a win-win situation?)
Some doctors recommend consuming less saturated fats and give reasons. Other doctors recommend consuming more and give other reasons.
Who are you going to believe? I am seeing people here getting excited quickly. I bet because fatty foods taste better and want to give themselves an excuse.
Once a doctor recommends eating lots of ice cream, people will be ecstatic!
People need to eat less food and move their asses more like cutting down the drive-thru life style. The amount of food in American restaurants compared with European is huge. That’s why I usually eat half and bag the rest.