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.
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691 Replies to “7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat”
In Spain, canola oil was removed from every store because its modification for making it like olive oil created a very serious illness(look aceite de colza illnes).
The human being is carnivore, so it’s normal that we need saturated fats, the bad fats are the trans ones, that here in Spain you can find in a lot of industrial food.
Why do us humans always try to get the ‘magic pill’ to lose weight?
It doesn’t take rocket science to know that we should be eating macro-nutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) on almost every meal. The whole dieting industry is fuelled by new research and diets that stimulate the whole Yo-Yo effect. My guess would be that the 2 doctors are over-weight themselves.
Guys the most difficult part of losing weight is making the ‘decision’ internally.
Don’t hope that the latest research will miraculously cut your body fat. You need to be applying the bigger issues before spending time on the miniscule …are consciously and consistently following a workout plan?
Are you eating smaller, more frequent meals?
Are you eating the right proportion and amount of calories?
These are the macro issues you need to ask yourself.
@A.M Read Sally Fallon :”Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats”
She says that the people that lived in small villages knew that they couldn’t eat only raw meat, without fat it made them weak to illness. This new thing: Fat is the enemy is new.
I love it! My body thrives when I eat like this! I run 60 minutes every other day at high altitude (Truckee, Lake Tahoe) so I notice what works for optimum functioning.
All the best,
Christine Elisabeth von Malsen Hueber
There are some elements of this that also agree with many other approaches that don’t necessarily advocate as much consumption of meat. People who limit their range of food choices tend to lose weight. People who eat organic tend to lose weight. People who decrease simple carbs tend to lose weight. Fat tends to fill people up. It seems that one route to this is via high-meat intake. Another could involve less protein if it observes these other principles. With all of the “diet” choices available, the biggest challenge is usually sticking to it.
You wrote: “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.” While not entirely true, I semi-sort of agree with you. The growth hormones – if given – are metabolized quickly while the antibiotics are cleared by the liver and/or the kidneys so they don’t cause much of a problem. Pretty much anything bad in the meat is going to be in the fat because that’s where that kind of stuff is stored, so if you trim the fat, you avoid most of it. Or you can do what I do and eat mainly grassfed beef, which eliminates the problem.
You linked to a press report, which is a secondary source at best. If you go to the real medical literature and read the actual papers, you will find a much stronger correlation with elevated blood sugar and Alzheimer’s than with any kind of fat. But, having said that, it is well to remember that correlation is not causation.
I haven’t read Stefansson for a couple of years now, but as I recall, he didn’t much care for liver either. I doubt the Inuit ate it because polar bear liver and the livers of other northern mammals can contain toxic levels of vitamin A. Stefansson got his antiscorbutic from raw and lightly cooked meat.
This article makes some good points. However everyone is always looking for a quick fix solution to health and that is never the case. There are way too many variables that one has to consider with regards to living a healthier lifestyle. Could increased SAT fat intake improve health? Possibly, but considering most sources that are high in SAT fats tend to be loaded with trans fats as well, you probably will do more harm than good. If you already eat a fairly complete diet with lots of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, legumes, and have totally cut off SAT fat intake, then this information could be helpful. But if you are eating hormone enhanced, corn fed protein, with refined carbs, lots of sugars and high fructose corn syrup, no fibre, your only fruit is in a form of candy, and then loading your diet with saturated fat will make matters worse. I think North Americans are eating fairly high levels of SAT fats already and already too much meat, but one of the real culprits is probably sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Everything seems to be about moderation, if you totally remove a nutrient from your diet there will be problems associated with it. Finally as some other people have alluded too already, is it the meat that is the problem or what the meat is eating?? Meat that is stuck in a factory farm all day with no exercise, sunlight or grass is not only cruel but extremely unhealthy. I dunno if everyone is aware of factory farming, but its sick and happening. I would do some more research before you jump on the organic bandwagon and find out what exactly their definition of organic is before you splurge on “organic products”.
Nutrition is very complicated. And while it is wonderful to dispel some of the myths about saturated fat, some of these points really oversimplify the facts and (based on the comments here) have led to a lot of confusion.
For instance, just because the brain contains saturated fats doesn’t mean it helps your brain if you eat saturated fats. Also, saturated fat may aid in bone development, but the excess protein in meat can leach calcium from bones as well.
Surely it isn’t necessary to worry about saturated fat as much as we do, but do you really think people need to eat more of it? I’m not convinced. Our livers make saturated fat if we need it.
There is one medication that lowers Lp(a) – niacin, but not the flush-less kind. I’ve been on niacin for 7 years and it did increase my HDL. However, eating a diet high in polyunsaturated fats and lots of fruit kept my HDL for getting much above 40. Reducing my carbs did increase it a bit more. However, an NMR lipoprotein analysis showed a predominance of small, dense-LDL, even with very low triglycerides. I was stumped until I replace the polyunsaturated fats with saturated fats and added coconut oil to my diet. My HDL shot up to 70!
As an aside, I recently dined at a very exclusive restaurant in Denver and ordered a rib-eye. It was the leanest rib-eye I has ever seen- downright disappointing! I later learned from a butcher to order a “fatty” rib-eye.
Weight is not really a function of biology. It is more accurately a function of self belief. Look up epigenetics. Plus I love bacon! Organic, no hormones, etc. 🙂
@Andrew (in regards to saturated fat being linked to Alz. disease)
“Could Taking Coconut Oil Be A Dietary Cure For Alzheimer’s Disease?”
Coconut oil of course being nearly 100% saturated fat.
Funny how life works huh?
“Are you eating smaller, more frequent meals?”
This has not been proven to be more effective (for anything) than spacing your meals out.
Mainstream thinking might say so, but guys like Art Devany and Mark Sission don’t believe so. And in the face of evolution, it certainly doesn’t make sense to eat half a dozen times per day (which, was impossible for 2.5 million years).
“Are you eating the right proportion and amount of calories?”
An equally important question to ask is the source of calories. Fat doesn’t spike insulin- carbohydrates do.
So, considering the amount of calories a “bigger” more important issue (than the source), may not be the wisest idea.
Also “and consistently following a workout plan?”
This can mean a lot of things. Unfortunately for most people, this means working out more frequently than their body can handle with the aspiration to “burn calories”- when in fact this type of activity usually does little more than eat up your time.
Again, figuring out what works (what’s important) trumps rushing in head first like a maniac and burning yourself out. Quality first =)
Reading these comments is like watching a Chuck Norris Movie. A crowd of ‘don’t knows’ each grabs a stick or a block and charges up the hill to get Chuck and he just knocks them back down, one by one.
Thanks for being civil Dr. Mike. Politics could learn from you.
Seems counter to what I heard said about diets, specially from Andrew Weil, who is supposed to be this big diet guru. It would be interesting to hear about long term effects of a diet heavy on fats from red meat. I have to keep investigating, this post is very interesting.
Saturated fats can be bad for you if eaten in excess, and a diet rich in saturated fat can contribute to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. They cause red blood cells to stick together, inhibiting their ability to carry oxygen to the cells. Also, saturated fats can cause blood platelets to stick together and form blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke.
I’d be very careful posting information I didn’t fully understand to my personal blog, and I hope you would have the same when dealing with topics that can affect people’s lives this drastically, especially when you have sucha large audience.
For all who are confused about contradictory messages regarding one’s health: I highly recommend “Transcend” by Kurzweil and Grossman. It’s really the only health book you’ll ever need.
Thanks for the post Tim! I’m glad to see this information getting around to bigger audiences…….
I’d echo the sentiments of other in that Dr. Weston Price seems to have the most bomber research on the subject.
Have you read Vilhalmur Stefansson’s book; The Fat of The Land?
All the good stuff is rare and out of print!
I’m a vegetarian, but I think there might be something to the idea that saturated fats are good. I’ll have to do some experiments.
Mixing a tablespoon of coconut oil into any rice dish makes me need to eat less of it, compared with using either margarine or no extra oil. It’s still basically a lump of white starch, but the saturated fat makes a noticeable difference in flavor and ability to satisfy.
I’ve done veggie-Atkins before (lots of eggs, cheese, vegetables, and veggie burger patties) with good results. At least until the big food companies came up with highly processed “food” items that technically followed the rules but really amounted to moderately addictive candy bars. And then we had kids and filled the kitchen with the usual kid-friendly snacks…
This is awesome! I think we should all start an olympics pitting the vegetarians/vegans against the meat eaters. I smell an opportunity here.
I would like to ask Dr. Eades, and Tim, and everyone else what y’alls definition of health is. It seems that everyone, in my opinion, view health simply as an absence of disease and then plug that into some arbitrary equation with variables like life span, blood lipid levels, and other medical mumbo jumbo specific measurements. I’d also like to know what other toxins I might be ingesting by eating a huge amount of burnt animal flesh??
And for the record, not all vegans and vegetarians are tree hugging, card carrying “save the animals” PETA supporting hippies (although that stereotype is fairly accurate). I could care less about some stupid cow or chicken in a field that only exists to be eaten. There’ s just so much conflicting evidence when it comes to nutrition and all of it seems to focus on specific benefits to the body, like reducing heart disease, which is a big one no doubt. I can’t help feeling “connected” to eating fruits and veggies exclusively, and repulsed at the thought of slaughtering a cow to eat. It’s hard to prove this scientifically.
You’d think we would instinctually know what to eat, and we probably do, it just gets warped in modern society.
One last thing, why is there so much research needed to prove animal flesh is an appropriate source for nutrition?
For those of you citing The China Study, know that one thing that is not highly publicized as a part of those statistics is that the consumption of WHEAT over RICE had the same impact on health & weight as did the consumption of animal products. Statistics lie…
If you haven’t seen it, Food Inc. will make you think twice about the food you eat. Seems to me that a joyful meal, absent chemicals, gmo’s, bgh, etc. with an active lifestyle and meditation are just the trick. Stress, meds, money chasing…not good for the human system. http://www.foodincmovie.com/
@Michael R. Eades, MD
Thanks for the reply.
I understand what you are saying but I’m not sure the lion analogy is a good one. Generally speaking, lions are carnivores and humans are omnivores so different diet models apply. Furthermore, modern humans’ opportunity to gorge is much more frequent than the lions’ opportunity to gorge.
As I consider your comment regarding moderation, it makes me think the terms “balance” and “moderation” are not necessarily synonymous. Moderation means avoiding excess and balance means a system has a state of equilibrium. Balance can come in the form of a ratio that is not necessarily equal, which I suppose leads to things like herbivores and carnivores.
Your comment on moderation made me stop and think but I still stand by my balance theory. I might have been clearer had I said “equilibrium” instead of “balance”. Look at the way physics and chemistry look for equilibrium in systems. Look at the way our environment evolved to maintain equilibrium among the different ecosystems. As a part of nature, human beings share in that tendency towards equilibrium. Based on these observations, the fact that we are omnivores suggest to me that we function optimally when we maintain equilibrium in our intake of meat and vegetation. I’m not sure what that ratio is. My personal experience suggests the ratio is heavier on the vegetation side of the equation. I tend to feel better when I eat a 75/25 veggie to meat combination. YMMV
Thanks for calling me out on that and making me think it through more thoroughly.
Finally, thanks for the background on canola oil. The more I learn about processed foods the less appealing they sound.
“Are you eating smaller, more frequent meals?”
This has not been proven to be more effective (for anything) than spacing your meals out.
>>> I’m not sure where you claim its not proven, I can show you 1000’s of examples of people getting results by this and I’ve never heard of 1 person where they kept weight off long term with 3 big meals a day.
For 1, the body is only capable of utilizing so many nutrients at a time. 2ndly, your body will be constantly cycling nutrients and therefore increasing your metabolism. 3rdly, the thermal effect of food digestion will burn calories. 4thly You’ll maintain peak energy levels and you won’t go through huge insulin spikes.
I don’t know who Art Devany and Mark Sission are. My guess is there trying to get publicity by creating more confusion in the nutritional field.
Losing weight is easy, the knowledge is out there, but people look for the latest quick short cut. The dieting industry survives off the naive people. A diet after all just puts your body into starvation mode, and gives the false hopes of weight loss just to find out that when you eat again your body stores even more fat because it doesn’t know when it will probably be fed again. That’s the yo-yo effect.
Its classic how people buy the “hollywood diet” or whatever the acai berry diet. Plain and simple most people want short-term gratification.
When I’m faithful to my all meat/fats diet my blood sugar is very stable, does not spike and my eating style becomes more like fasting and feasting.
The body does not require much to keep the blood sugar stable and once every two weeks or once a month I gobble up the par-grilled New York strip steaks served at the buffet in Toronto.
Okay, today was the Tuesday special at Popeye’s — not exactly my item, but sufficient for the price (no biscuit or fries, just chicken). Tomorrow, slow roasted lamb body part 🙂
Hi – this is a fascinating article. Can I reproduce this (with an appropriate link) on my Meateaters blog?
Please feel free to excerpt a few small parts, but as this post contains a book excerpt, I would kindly ask that you link to this post for the rest.
Hope that helps,
The question of habit formation is one that I think about a lot, but haven’t come to any dramatic conclusions other than just what you’ve discovered yourself. It seems that repetition forges habits, and the more repetition, the stronger the nascent habit. I’ve also noticed, though, that even if a habit is formed, it can go south in a hurry if some sort of repetition isn’t maintained. For me, the most difficult part of trying to get started on any regimen, whether it is dieting, working out, writing a book, or even writing a new post on my blog is the getting started. I have great approach avoidance – even for tasks that I know will be fun once I get going. I wish I had an easy, quick solution to the developing-good-habits problem because if I did, my own life would be much, much easier.
Thanks for providing the links. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to open them. If you could recheck and put them up again, I would appreciate it.
You wrote: “Because the goal shouldn’t be being thin, it should be getting healthy. If you focus on getting healthy getting thin will naturally follow.”
I pretty much agree with you, but not entirely. It depends, I suppose, on how one defines health. Believe it or not, there are healthy obese people. They are healthy as horses and live forever, but they are not thin. You can become healthy but not thin. Thin takes a little more work. People often lose the distinction between fitness and health. These are two situations that usually go together but not always. One can be fit but not healthy and vice verse. No one would have ever accused Winston Churchill of being fit, but he was healthy enough to live well into his nineties in pretty good fettle. The guy who kicked off the running craze, Jim Fixx, was definitely fit. He ran for many miles every week and was slender and trim. But he wasn’t healthy. He died of a heart attack at age 52. Obviously it would be ideal to be both fit and healthy, and often the two go hand in hand. But not always.
By raw meat, if you steak tartare, count me in. I love it.
But I don’t see any great advantage to eating raw meat versus eating lightly cooked meat, i.e., rare or medium rare. A number of studies have shown that raw meat is a little more difficult to digest than cooked meat. Steak tartare solves this problem by being cut up into little pieces, which makes it easier to digest than it would be if it were just a hunk of meat of the same weight.
I’ve eaten raw meat and I think cooked meat tastes better. And is a lot easier on the jaws unless it’s cut up into small pieces. Raw meat carries the risk of infection, so my preference is to sear it to kill the bugs on the surface and make it a little more tender.
I agree across the board. Except I assume you left out the word ‘no’ between the words ‘make’ and ‘sense’ in the following sentence you wrote, “Proponents of all other diets (vegetarians, fruitarians, high grain diets, low fat diets) make sense in the light of evolution.”
Cool comment. We are one of the few mammals that cannot produce our own vitamin C. So if you want to look at this from the standpoint of where evolution has steered our dietery needs, that’s very strong evidence that the ancestors we evolved from weren’t carnivores. They were eating meat too, but the fact that we’ve lost the ability to make our own vitamin C means we have a long history of eating lots of fruits and veggies.
You wrote, “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.” Which is partly true. Americans are served (and have come to expect) enormous amounts of food in restaurants, which, I believe, is a big part of the obesity problem. But the failure to “move their asses” is not so much a part of the problem.
At the risk of stirring up another controversy (as if recommending saturated fats weren’t controversial enough), I can tell you that the scientific literature is clear on the fact that exercise doesn’t make you lose weight. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is borne out by the data. If you increase your exercise, you increase your food intake. Simple as that. The thing most people don’t realize is how few calories pretty strenuous exercise burns off and how little extra food it takes to replace them. When we were kids, our parents told us to go out and play to work up an appetite, and that’s exactly what happens. The only way to lose weight is to assiduously work to diet, which means that dieting is what brings about weight loss, not exercise.
Gary Taubes wrote a great article on this a few years ago. Here is the link.
The same notion was the cover story of Time magazine a couple of weeks ago.
You wrote: “It doesn’t take rocket science to know that we should be eating macro-nutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) on almost every meal.” Pray tell what else would you eat in a meal if not macronutrients?
You also wrote: ” … are [you] consciously and consistently following a workout plan?” See my comment above. It doesn’t matter whether you are or not.
And you wrote, “My guess would be that the 2 doctors are over-weight themselves.” Your guess would be wrong.
You wrote. “considering most sources that are high in SAT fats tend to be loaded with trans fats as well, you probably will do more harm than good.”
Really? Is coconut oil loaded with trans fats? How about palm oil? How about butter? How about steak, ham, pork chops, lamb, etc? Are those loaded with trans fats as well?
I think what you really mean are that processed foods are loaded with trans fats. Saturated fats are what the trans fats replace. Saturated fats have many properties making them excellent to cook with. If you can’t use saturated fats because of the hew and cry from all the lipophobes, then you’ve got to replace them with something having the same cooking properties. Enter the trans fats. Same cooking properties as the saturated fats, but made from vegetable oils. So when products contain a lot of trans fats, they usually don’t have a lot of saturated fats in them. And products rich in saturated fats don’t need the addition of trans fats.
You wrote, “…the excess protein in meat can leach calcium from bones…” Really? Do you have a citation for this? I fear that the old protein-leaches-calcium-from-the-bones notion is another one of the vampire myths that refuse to die. It’s simply not true.
And you wrote, “Our livers make saturated fat if we need it.” The liver does make saturated fat, but not necessarily if we need it. It makes it when we overconsume carbs, probably because the overconsumption of carbs indicates that we aren’t getting enough saturated fat in the diet. But despite our liver’s making saturated fat in the face of carb excess, it doesn’t make enough. We have all the biochemical machinery to make unsaturated fats out of saturated ones, but we don’t have the ability to go the other way.
I had never even thought about where ancient eskimos got thre vitamin C prior to reading your comments. Although looking into it more it doesn’t look like anyone has a concrete answer to this day. Stefansson, who was a big pusher for the all meat diet and popularized that it worked for the inuits really didn’t do that much experimenting on the subject. He and a friend tried an all meat diet for a year and they didn’t get scurzy– that’s really the extent that he proved it’s okay.
So as far as the inuits go, they probably have evolved both physically and socially to get more vitamin C out of their food. Apparrently whale skin is as high in vitamin C as oranges, and some organs contain vitamin C. Also, no one really knows to what extent they were getting berries and non-meat food.
You wrote, “Seems counter to what I heard said about diets, specially from Andrew Weil, who is supposed to be this big diet guru.” You are on the money. Have you ever seen him? He is indeed a big diet guru.
Thanks for the reply. I would argue that we are not really omnivores but are carnivores who have adapted to an omnivorous diet, and probably not for the best.
Take gorillas, for instance. They have huge canine teeth, yet are total vegetarians. They have the same GI tract as a carnivore yet they have adapted to a vegetarian existence. Is it the best thing for them? Probably not. Their entire day is taken up with eating, they constantly burp and fart, and they don’t live all that long in the wild. When they are put in zoos, they are fed animal products and do fine. So animals that are designed for one specific diet don’t always follow that diet even in nature. It’s the same with humans. Our GI tracts are similar to that of a dogs. We require vitamin B12, which comes only from foods of animal origin. Unlike animals that are true vegetarians, we can live without our stomachs, but can’t live without our small intestines. True vegetarian animals, sheep, for example, can’t live without their stomachs, but can do fine without their small intestines. So basing opinions on the fact that we’re omnivores misses the point a little. It’s not so much what we are as what we are designed to perform optimally on. If you are one who does well on a 75/25 plant to meat ratio, if you are normal weight and don’t have any metabolic problems, I would say go for it. But if you don’t fit that profile, or you discover that you fit it less and less as you age, then you might consider a change.
As a doc, would you reccomend an all meat diet for a patient?
From my perspective, there just doesn’t seem to be evidence for it. A few people a couple decades ago who only ate meat for short time periods. And the inuits, a group of people who we really don’t know that much about.
On the other hand, there are numerous studies based on data from thousands of people who were vegetrians for most or all of their lives. These people do fine. There just isn’t anything close to the equivalent for an all-meat diet. And scurvy actually serves as counter-evidence.
I recommend organic canola seed oil. It’s missing all the negativ taste attributes. One source I now is and a German company. You can order it here http://shop.rapskernoel.info , if your are having in address in Germany. For other contries you should drop them an e-mail (kugel at rapskernoel.info). It’s worth! I use it for many years and my heath improved a lot.
For some reason a lot of these foods make my gf vomit if she eats more than a small amount of them. So its gunna be hard to get more of these items on the shopping list!
Its a shame lots of great, life changing books sound like scams .
@Michael R. Eades, MD
As a medical student having studied biochemistry and human metabolism, a slow-carb or low-carb diet makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve been battling the bulge in my mid-section for a few years now, and I think I’m finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I am concerned about my health and longevity, but I’d also like to take advantage of your six week plan as I’m getting married soon.
I’m very excited about reading your new book. Though, judging from its title, the book is targeted at a middle aged audience. Would you say that the information in the book could also help younger people (I’m 26)? What additional advice do you have for us young folk?
It’s been very interesting following this thread of comments along with your responses. I have to say. You’ve definitely sparked my interest in bariatrics as a possible career choice.
Pseudo-science like this post and pseudo-history like Intelligent Design are taking over schools and minds globally. I’m very disappointed that you would sprout such nonsense Tim!
Posts like this are counter to what most intelligent scientists believe and as someone whose opinion many people trust and look up to, you should know better or take better care with what you advocate. Enough harm has already been done by the spreading of bullshit in the US and the rest of the world.
You should retract this, apologize, and then perhaps I’ll be able to recommend your blog to friends again.
Good post tim. Pitty not many seem interested in the macronutrient debate! Something tells me youre next books gonna do pretty well
very interesting article, how’s the book coming along?
Hi John and All,
The book is humming along nicely. Thank 🙂
I suffer from pulmonary fibrosis, and I have discovered that eating simple carbs such as bread, pasta , rice etc makes my breathing worse.
When I eat high protein and saturated fats I feel better and I breath better.
I was informed ny a nutritionist that simple carbs cause the body to create carbon dioxide in the body.
I am the manifestation of someone who indulges in saturated fats. I use cream, butter, coconut oil every day. I cook my greens in pork fat. I won’t buy anything lowfat. I am not fat, my glucose and blood lipids are at ideal levels. Just had xrays for a knee injury and was informed that my bone density was exemplary. Except for allergies, I have not even had a cold in 7 years. It was 7 years ago when I removed sugars from my diet and began adding fats.In the beginning I was “careful” about how much and which fats and oils I included meaning I was careful with my saturated fat intake. However, I eventually began increasing my saturated fats and eat less of the olive and nut oils. Not that there was anything wrong with them, I just have the taste for butter, coconut oil, fattier cuts of meat. When I increased my fats, I lost 35 lbs. Hmmm, imagine that .
@Skyler Tanner: Population data studies paint the picture: higher saturated fat intake = less heart disease
Carefull there. Correlation does not imply causation!
Anybody ask Dr. Ornish to weigh in on this subject?
I have been eating large amounts of beef and fish all my life(68 years). Six years ago I switched to all grass-fed beef (starting with a one-third lb burger for breakfast) and cut out all cereal and wheat bread. My diet basically centers around red meat with vegetables, berries and nuts thrown in. (I have a hard time totally eliminating ice cream and beer.) I have lost 20 lbs and can lose more at any time by eliminating the ice cream and beer. According to tests my heart is good, my veins are clean, and I have no diabetes. I am still actively ranching raising my own grass-fed beef and have no intension of slowing down.
In my opinion the USDA recemmended diet is a disaster. Of course, I do not believe that one diet fits all people.
Correlation may not = causation but nor can it be blamed.
The word diet derives from L. diaeta “prescribed way of life,” from Gk. diaita, originally “way of life, regimen, dwelling,” and since this is a lifestyle blog, I think it is appropriate to ask whether an increased of meat in a diet leads to a good and noble way of life?
For now, lets just assume that increasing saturated fat leads to improvement in an individuals health. Eating one pound of beef more a week is approximately the same as one extra cow a year ( roughly 500lbs of retail beef per cow ). So, to eek out a small health benefit, each year we are going to be killing a sentient living, trapped creature. ( Unlike in times past when there was a struggle, an effort to capture a wild animal which could fight back ).
A scientist as a scientist deals strictly with facts and has no say in moral debates such as this ( the old fact /value distinction ). But I am curious – as a man do you think that slaughtering a defenseless animal leads to a good and noble life ?
I would suggest that there was a time when eating meat was associated with an active, manly way of life. There was an element of nobility and courage associated with it. Far beyond benefits to ones lipid profile , there was a benefit to ones character. Those times have changed. For the majority of people, feeding on organic meat means putting on your Eddie Bauer clothes, driving your SUV to Whole Foods , and going up to the counter, and getting some good old grass fed cow. Then off to the checkout counter – paper, not plastic, please.
Does a diaeta of more meat lead to a good and noble life? This is a moral question, not a scientific question. And I would suggest that if you aren’t willing to go out and get it yourself with bow in hand, the answer is a resounding no.
So Matthew, are you saying that eating meat is immoral? Also, I don’t get the association of meat eating as being manly. Not that I mind but I have always associated meat eating as being feminine. Especially since I lost 4 inches from my waist giving me a more girly figure. And of course, you understand the health implications of a slimmer waist line, right? Besides, if you eat the way I do, you allow a greater amount of animals to indeed live, since I practice intermittent fasting daily.Another q, do they kill cows for their butter? Hmmm,
I’ve been a diligent participant of the life extension community for 10+ years, and I use all scientifically reasonable methods to increase my healthy lifespan, such as diet, supplements, hormone supplements, weight lifting, etc. At 48, I have the body of a 28-yr-old, supremely fit–most people guess my age at 33-ish. I also have my blood work checked by my “longevity” doctor twice a year, as well as going through seriously thorough physicals. Every health marker I monitor is outstanding. I also had a full body imaging procedure late last year to check for an sign of arterial plaque, and none was detected.
My diet is approximately 70 percent fat, and I guess that at least half of that is saturated fat.
In short, my diet is:
o High-fat (but very little polyunsaturated fat — the inflammatory fat)
o Moderate protein (mostly animal based, lots of meat, dairy and eggs)
o Low-carb (almost zero grains and very low in starchy vegs–high in salad-type, high-water-volume carbs)
This is often called a “paleo diet,” though my version is modified to include dairy (I show no allergic reaction to casein or lactose, so dairy is safe for me).
A few bullets:
o Our ancestors ate a predominantly meat-based diet for over 2 million years. This allowed us to develop a small stomach, because we consumed nutrient-rich, high-caloric-density food (fat-rich-meat).
o We are NOT adapted to eat much fruit, and fructose is absolutely harmful to humans (and all mammals). Fructose is extremely pro-aging thru a process called advanced glycation end-products (look up in wikipedia).
o Centenarians all have a single health marker in common, which appears to be the most important in terms of living a long life: low insulin levels. This is achieved primarily via eating a low-carb diet. The best way to prolong life appears to be maintaining low blood sugar (within a healthy range).
o Saturated fat is the most stable fat, which is why it does not need to be stored in the fridge. It is also super stable within our body, and is not prone to oxidize–it is when fats oxidize that they because harmful and inflammatory. Saturated fat is also a preferred energy source for the body, especially medium length saturated fats, like coconut and palm oil. (I eat 3-5 ounces of raw coconut oil every day, on top of 75% dark chocolate–an amazingly delicious, healthy snack.)
Cancer and heart disease are, for most people, self-infected diseases, the result of poor diet and other toxic habits, like smoking. I have no fear of these killers. (And my inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein, show that my body has an absolute minimum of inflammation.)
I could go on and on. But, the bottom-line is that saturated fat is not only healthy, it’s essential to our health. The low-fat craze is the least healthy of all diets in the long term, and unfortunately a vegetarian diet, for most practitioners, is effectively a low-fat diet. Every cell in our body requires fat–a lipid membrane–as well as hormones and many other chemical chains.
I believe some groups of Inuit ate liver, others didn’t with no health problems. I know people who eat an all meat diet who eat nothing but Wal-Mart muscle meat and have done so for 2+ years, and no scurvy there either.
Like I said earlier I take no Vitamin C, but I do take 2 supplements – I’m not sure I need them but don’t see the harm.
1. Cod liver oil – I take this very occasionally (maybe a tablespoon a day for a week, every few months) in case I am not getting enough Vit A in my diet without eating organ meats.
2. B Complex – I take this because some of the B Vitamins are low in muscle meat though higher in organ meats, and I understand you want a good balance to avoid high homocystine levels.
Other than that I basically eat Costco fatty meat. Occasionally I eat pemmican, and when I do, I make it from grass fed beef fat, again to add a little balance. I would prefer to eat all grass-fed beef but the only way I can easily acquire it is by having it shipped, which is expansive and it comes frozen – I prefer meat that has never been frozen.
So after a year, I have had no negative effects to eating this way (other than the occasional odd look and needing to explain the way I eat before going somewhere social so I don’t appear rude by not eating). Here are the positives:
– I have lost over 90 lbs
– I have gained muscle mass without exercise other than the occasional hike
– Severe acid reflux and digestive problems I won’t detail here went away never to return.
-I function well on 7 hours sleep where before I needed 9
-Mental clarity and concentration has improved
-Irritability and mood swings I had before disappeared
-I no longer obsess about food. When I ate carbs all I could ever think about was when/where/what my next meal would be.
Thanks for your comments. Let me qualify mine. What I was trying to point out is that a diet, any diet, from a broader perspective isn’t about science, it is about a way of life, and although science and scientists ( including myself ) may have facts to offer people, the choice of a way of life is a moral decision, not a scientific one.
If the primary driver of someone’s life is safety and health then they may choice one way of life ( or diet ) . If the primary driver of one’s life is seeking goodness and nobility then they may choice another way of life ( or diet ).
The point I am trying to get to is although most of the preceeding conversations have been about science and fact, particularly questions about regarding scientific studies etc , diet selection is really about seeking the “good life” and that is a philosophical question, not ameniable to scientific analysis.
In refernece to the term “manly” – I am using it in the context used by a political philosopher Harvey Mansfield (author of the books Manliness, Tocquevilles Democracy in America, Machiavelli’s The Prince ), and I would suppose based on that I would say that there is certainly an effeminate way that Western Society – including myself – eats – whole food meat included.
In summary, I think any discussion of diet should really address a way of life, not strictly things as blood tests, lipid levels , coronary artery disease, etc.
@Michael R. Eades, MD
“At the risk of stirring up another controversy (as if recommending saturated fats weren’t controversial enough), I can tell you that the scientific literature is clear on the fact that exercise doesn’t make you lose weight. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is borne out by the data. If you increase your exercise, you increase your food intake. Simple as that. The thing most people don’t realize is how few calories pretty strenuous exercise burns off and how little extra food it takes to replace them. When we were kids, our parents told us to go out and play to work up an appetite, and that’s exactly what happens. The only way to lose weight is to assiduously work to diet, which means that dieting is what brings about weight loss, not exercise.”
I’m having trouble wording this, but you are both correct, and incorrect here. The problem lies with the conventional view (and seemingly your definition) of exercise- “cardio”, or better put, any sort of random physical activity.
That type of “activity” will make you hungry, and will NOT help you lose fat. However strength training plays an important role in fat loss and improving your body composition- and not by burning calories (which, is generally a waste of time and should never be the focus of your exercise).
In short, “exercise”= strength training. Everything else is either recreational activity or specific skill training- both of which can have exercise “effects”, but are almost never effective exercise.
I strongly encourage you to read Body by Science by Doug Mcguff (MD) and John Little. There is also an Article written by Drew Baye here worth reading
Thanks for bringing in that facet of this subject. It is an issue for me as a spirit being also and an issue of not getting too hung up in my hang-ups whilst working out my own clearing of my personal hang-ups as a spiritual being. Whew, that was a long sentence! 🙂
So, yes, eating also evokes philosophy, ethics, nostalgia, as well as using food as medicine.
From the cover of Michael Pollan’s most recent book “In Defense of Food”:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
I am not a vegetarian by any means, but I believe this quote is both simple and accurate. I think most other diets only work in the short-term, or are forced/designed to fit a pre-existing lifestyle.
Thanks as always Tim for the fascinating, thought-provoking posts!
Now I understand where you are coming from. I am not a scientist yut I have had to explain my dietary lifestyle from a scientific angle…I don’t know why but it seems that when it comes to diet, everyone is a scientist. I am told why, scientifically, my diet is unhealthy. So I have to respond scientifically as to why the opposite is true.
Now, if you remove all of the science, and just go exclusively as how much better I feel on my lifestyle, then no explanation is needed. I feel healthier, stronger, more energetic and even younger. My joint pain and migraines have vanished since I began a lifestyle that is rich in fat, protein and vegetables.I wish that I had eaten this way when I was pregnant instead of listening to the “science” of diet.
Will you just give us one small sample of the new book??
Oh yeah, and I got a pair of the 5 finger shoes….Awesome!
@ Michael Eades: Thanks for the response. This is very interesting stuff!
Looking forward to reading the book. I like to read as much about nutrition as possible.
I have problems with The China Study and would love to see some well-researched critiques of it that don’t originate from The Weston Price Foundation which has a solid anti-vegan agenda and seems to have questionable research and theories of its own.
Following a vegan diet* for a year has improved my short term health dramatically. Weight loss, though I didn’t need to lose much. And I no longer suffer from allergies (dairy related, wish I’d known sooner) and have a lot more energy than before. Depression symptoms also went away, probably due to the allergies.
I’ll probably become an ovo-vegetarian soon but it’s been a great experience. It has also tought me a lot about how people can become very hostile to people who don’t follow their same life patterns. (One of the reasons I don’t trust the Weston Price Foundation, given some aggressive comments I’ve seen from a few of its members online.)
* I don’t eat a low-fat diet and I monitor my b12 levels.
Sorry to be dense but can someone illuminate how this is substantially different from Adkins? And why putting your kidneys into ketosis is worth it? Don’t we need living enzymes that get killed in an all cooked meat diet or is there provision for raw meat?
ps. 10 weeks in the Army’s basic training where I ate 5000 plus calories per day including carbs and I saw a flat stomach where one had never existed before. Hmmmm.
@Michael R. Eades
You don’t have to go far to find “research” on why meat is bad for you, just look at what they feed animals these days/how they live. If that’s not enough, read Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters. Plenty of research, not to mention Bittman himself who lost over 20 lbs after cutting most meat.
Why have the fiber needs of the body been absent from this discussion? Meat = 0 fiber. Good luck to all of those who eat little or no vegetables.
Thank you for injecting one of the most important components to any discussion…values. There is a growing number of people who believe that less violence is a good thing.
More food for thought: maybe we should eat whatever we want and research for a study that supports our diet. If there isn’t any, then we can consider ourselves ahead of the science and feel confident that a future study will vindicate us…
RE Exercise, isn’t it a factoid that certain types of intense exercise will stimulate HgH (Human Growth Hormone)? This is what I have been hearing in weight lifting circles. Also lifting weights burns calories long after the session is over.
When I was a skinny kid I certainly did not lift weights, nor did I overeat (not as many buffets in those days) and I was certainly not athletic (more a bookworm). Was it the HgH that kept me skinny?
Today my exercise level is the same but I eat a lot more processed junk foods and desserts (making up for that deprived childhood, lol), and when we go to the local buffet it is very hard to pass up the carbs and desserts.
The last time I was on an all meat/fats diet I lost about 4 pounds per week and felt GREAT!
RE Joint pain (@ Mary) my naturopath sent an email to all her clients asking them to abstain from potatoes for 30 days. Voila! No more joint pains — and I’m not going back no matter how good those potato chips look 🙂
Okay, gotta rig the barbecue so I can roast this leg of lamb.
I was born in Argentina and have always had a healthy appetite for red meat. When a child I had a steak every day practically. I moved to UK20 years ago and began having high blood pressure, possibly because of a change in diet. I don’t know. Anyway now I am back in Argentina enjoying red meat ad libitum and quite happy with it too. I have a cousin that has eaten most of his life ONLY red meat. No salad. No fruit. NOTHING else, and is very slim and healthy except for the smoking he does. There are many more people that also have meat as a complete staple in every day meals. I believe that at some point after WWII USA and UK mostly fabricated theories to take people off meat as it was expensive and politically it would be not good to have people think that they were not able to eat a proper meat diet and so social engineering made it easy for scientists to prove that meat was a bad, bad thing. Furthermore grains were not only good, good but also cheaper to produce. Cattle production was demonized to some extent. Except for the ones that could afford it and not moved by the popular media. I produce cattle for meat and on alfalfa grass NOT in feed lots with grains, etc. The meat tastes different and is fantastic. NO steroids or funny chemicals or antibiotics. It takes a wee longer to produce the animal but the results are there to enjoy. Furthermore for those that advocate grain only productions, it is a fact that a balanced ecosystem will only be balanced if it includes rotations with pastures and animals that fertilize the land for eventual grain crops. Sadly we live in a world where even supposedly intelligent scientists pursue their own little agenda according to who pays them and for purposes that ofter do not seek the truth and the big picture. I do endorse too the moderate drinking of red wine with red meat!
@ Dr. Eades
Dr. Eades, I would love to hear you speak a little about a couple of your colleagues in Colorado, namely Drs. Rosedale and Cordain. Let’s start with Loren Cordain. His excellent book _The Paleo Diet_, while rightly recommending a diet in concordance with the diet our ancestors ate for millennia, amazingly demonizes saturated fats. How have your discussions with him on the subject gone?
And Dr. Rosedale recommends a *limited* intake of protein, arguing that excess protein intake is simply converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis. Can you speak to that as well?
Thanks in advance.
Hello, it seems as if the two doctors who you have referenced have come to the same conclusion as Dr. Weston A. Price (a Dentist) did in his world wide studies some time a go as well. The organization dedicated to his work today is the Weston A. Price Foundation (see: http://www.westonaprice.org .) I have read and studied Dr. Weston A. Price’s work and I have followed it as well. I have been able to keep a good normal body weight and good health as well. I am a firm believer in eating good, grass-fed meats, not meats that has been feed wrong (on a diet of something other than grass.) I am also a big advocate of doing internal cleansing as well on a regular basis, as we have forgotten this practice which helps us to maintain good health. And, to boot, this is how my grandparents and parents eat, and most of them were in good health for a long period of time into their older ages. Good, high quality fats are totally essential for good health long term.
To the vegetarians here. Just please just tell me where do you get your vitamins, and minerals. Where do you get your DHA. Men don’t make enough from ALA. Where do you get your Zinc and B12?
Also this post is about Saturated Fat. You can only get one type of Saturated fat from carbs and that is Palmitic acid. It is a good fuel, but do you think that is all that your body is made up of.
When you grow a four compartment digestive system then you can begin to handle the vegetation around us. Till then we have to work with what our body can handle.
Do you know why our Parents talk about how healthy their grand parents were? They used to eat a lot of Animal fats. At least mine do. Even in India a vegetarian country, Cow ghee/milk/butter was the main way we got our vitamins and minerals. Now our cows don’t eat grass, and we don’t eat much of ghee/milk/butter. You can find out how well that has worked for us. We are a nation of people with heart disease, 4 times higher than the rest of the world. Don’t think that it is due to genetics. It is because of vegetarianism sans ghee.
Just one more thing about vegetarianism.
India had perfected the art of living with Vegetarian food. We know exactly what to eat that will give us all the nutrition, without using meat. But that doesn’t mean anybody else can do it. It takes ages to perfect it through experimentation. You think your doctors know what food you need, but they have shown till now an abject lack of comprehension of anything to do with food.
We did not have wheat. We mixed our grains with our legumes. We fermented them. We added huge quantities of ghee/butter. We made our children drink milk, even when they did not like it. It is no wonder that Indians count amongst the most milk tolerant people. It was a requirement to survive on a vegetarian diet. Lactose intolerant need not try becoming a vegetarian, they will not survive.
If you think veganism is healthy talk to people who have been on a strict vegan diet for at least 15 years. You will find something wrong with them. You may also try to read The Vegetarian Myth by a former vegan, who lived on a vegan diet for 20years. Its a very emotionally charged book and gets almost everything right.
Hell I am finding that everybody around me is getting sick, with diabetes and hypertension. This is with us knowing what to eat and what not to eat. My grandmother is still alive at 80 and still very active. She does not have any ailments. Except for my father, the other two uncles have died, one from heart attack and the other from diabetes. Even my father is having heart trouble. My mother has diabetes. Luckily, I learnt about refined oil and sugar. I have got them off the two. My father’s hypertension is much better now, and now my mother has a good fasting glucose.
Well, I don’t know what to say, I’m confused by this and by some of the comments. I’m following a diet similar to what Tim suggests in some other posts like egg whites, beans, peas, veggies, but I’m leaving out almost all of the meat. I eat also some nuts and that for unsaturated fats. So what you suggest now is that I should eat more meat and saturated fats, and leave out the grains and beans? I like to experiment with diet, and I have no problem with flavor (I can eat liver, or an all-plant based diet), just some things like organic meat aren’t easy (or cheap) to get where I live. Anyway, I see so many contradictory ideas here, all of them supported by studies, that I’d like to know, to you people what would be like ‘the perfect diet’ in terms of short and long-term health (read: meat associated to some cancers and disseases?).
I want you to adopt my life and design it. I have had the principles of the four hour work week since I was 8 when I decided I wanted to be a writer I am from jamaica where and grew up poor …at 9 I was sending my “stuff” to vogue and cosmospolitan and they responded!!!!It was then I realised I can do anything I have lived my life to that value system ever since I am a maverick — very in the category of the “unreasonable” that shaw ctes at revolutionary in fact I have done many firsts here in Jamaica but I want to be global help me.
Yes, this is the way I do Atkins, at least.As you know, ketosis exists primarily, during the induction phase of Atkins which is the level that I prefer to keep my ketones so it is the level that I do. Actually I often go lower than the recommended 20 grams a day. Regarding ketosis, it is the best thing for our organs since Ketones help to maintain our organs without the stress of carbohydrates. Ketones, for some reason, have become a bad word when in reality, ketosis is just as natural as menstruation. My diet is more ketogenic than Atkins, realistically. I just had a CBC and urinalysis and there were no ketones in my urine, meaning that my organ and muscle tissues are using the ketones for energy instead of spitting them out. Ketones are nothing more than spent fats that have mighty benefits including improoved nutrient absorption. Ketones also helps the body to absorb and burn calories. Once you’ve broken the addiction of carbohydrates,using this alternative energy source, you will realize how powerful your body is.
I believe the “perfect diet” really boils down to what are the perfect foods for you for your given lifestyle. If you are Dean Karnazes ( ultramarathonman.com, 50 marathons in 50 days ) then it is a pizza on your running days, eat light on off days.
I’ve been studying Chinese approaches to longevity for 30 years, with particular emphasis on Taoist methods. The most important ingredient in your diet is the quality of Chi (a.k.a. Qi), or subtle breath. So the first item in a healthy diet is Qigong (chi kung), not what you buy at the grocery store. The more chi you feel in your body from this type of superior exercise, the less hungry you are for food. And the smarter you become at choosing exactly what your body needs to eat.
The diet that is prescribed is known as Five Elements Diet, i.e. eating a balance of different colors and tastes that satisfy all the major organ spirits (heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs are each considered to have their own consciousness and appetite, which is the “taste foundation” of all Chinese herbology).
This gives you a way to combine your need for body movement (but without stressing it) and your dietary choices. I have been testing this hypothesis on myself and many western students under the guise of Healing Tao USA for dozens of years with great success. Time to get off thinking that what you eat physically is more important than the quality of what you “breathe” in from the Life Force. Food is just a secondary source of Chi – the most important thing in your diet is to get it as Primary, i.e.direct from Qigong.
@ David: Hi, David, what “feels” right for your body, after you eliminate all the processed foods of course? I am aware that Dr. Eades discounts food preferences among blood types, and I can only go off my own casual interviews and observations and having lived with various blood types and therefore the data about diet being linked to blood groups is true for myself.
Basic stable datum that I extract from TIm’s article and the responses is: don’t eat processed carbs and sugars and sugary drinks, and increase protein/saturated fat uptake to compensate for the lack of “fun carbs”, and always have a vegetable or salad side dish.
If you decide to eat grains, flours and pastas, etc., then learn to eat them correctly: Authentic sprouted grains breads, spelt grains instead of wheat or corn (makes a great pasta), brown rice (they also sell it ‘pre-sprouted’).
Eat these grains sparingly, not as cheap fillers the way we have been programmed. That’s where people, imho, have to change the program.
I only eat the cheap filler grains, pastas, breads, etc. when I’m hungry and there is nothing else to eat.
@Michael R. Eades
When I said “move their asses” I didn’t mean to exercise. I meant to have a more active lifestyle like stop circling the parking lot to find a parking spot closer to the entrance. What’s wrong with parking a little further away and walking the extra steps.
If I am behind that person and parked further away, I would have reached the entrance faster the the person who is still squeezing their car in between two cars!
We have become the laziest society on earth. The drive-thru services (fast food, pharmacy, banking, dry cleaning… etc), the remote controlled appliances, the elevator, the escalator.. etc. These all contribute to obesity and poor health. I used to work at a two floor company and there were so many people taking the elevator down from second to first floor and the open lobby stairs was right there. People make choices to move the least. They deserve the poor health they accumulate!
Chicken farmers want the chicken to build fat quickly by limiting their movements. A lot of people are doing the same to themselves.
Exercising can be boring but walking a little more is very doable and costs nothing. Take the stairs, take breaks at work and walk. Enjoy the fresh? air, scenary and outdoor.
Have you ever heard of Arthur De Vany? If not, I would suggest you check him out. Not only concerning this current post, but also for your upcoming book on the human body.
He advocates what he calls evolutionary fitness and diet. He believes that we should exercise and eat like our hunter and gatherer ancestors. First heard about him through an interview with Nassim Taleb. To me, his recommendations seem far more logical than any other diet or exercise craze.
A few links:
Thanks. I’m quite familiar with Arthur. He is very articulate and intelligent, and although I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I agree with most of them.
I’m finding the conclusions from Arthur De Vany to be quite interesting. If you have the time can you give me your opinions on what you dont agree with regarding his views?
@ Colleen Peltomaa
Well noted. Thank you.
Humm that explains why I lost weight while I was in Argentina. A transportation strike was in session while we were vacationing there and veggies were in short supply. So it was Ham, eggs and bacon in the morning, lomo (steak) in the afternoon and lomo (steak) in the evening 🙂 We were there for a month..
I love the way posts on nutrition get so much attention and how the nutrition and fitness industry thrives on the chaos that exists in this area. Many experiments seem to produce positive results in the short run but fail to report the after effects of diets.
For now, I am happy munching on Halal food in the afternoon and burning it off while biking to my office and back every day of the summer.
I want to send you a sneak preview of a magazine that I am launching soon. The topic of it is is surviving & thriving in the modern world. Any chance I can get it to you? 🙂
Yeah, people tend to jump from one magic pill diet to the next, forgetting that exercise and balance are critical to sustained results.
Never having followed a diet in his life, my father’s beachball stomach caught up with him . . . at 70 . . . with diabedes. With that motivation in mind, he dropped over 15 pounds with this miraculous diet – called smaller portions. He spent a lifetime without diets, relatively free of disease or injury.
I like trying diets now just to see what works . . . for me. Aryuvedic has been interesting.
First time I am disapointed by an article on this site.
While I completely agree that there is an hypocritical scaredness of red meat (some people actually believe that meat (but only red meat, not chicken meat) accumulates in the intestines and cannot be digested), the VAST majority in our societies eat way to much and way too wrong.
When eating a balanced diet of fruits, grains, vegetables and integral foods, meats are an excellent source of protein and HEALTHY+NECESSARY, while the amount of saturated fats are buffered by a high intake of omega 3 fatty acids from nuts, that lowers the bad effects of the saturated fats.
Because Tim, you have to recognize that saturated fats are devastating to the cardio-vascular system in the way they are consumed today. I largely believe that the results obtained in the aforementioned studies are a fruit of the lower intake of carbohydrates and the higher intake of proteins.
Also, the lung argument simply sounds like bullsh*t to me. Please include a link that actually shows a comparative study between to populations, one that eats a lot of saturated fat and one that doesn’t and show me a difference in lung health. I don’t believe it one bit since these fats are not essential.
¡CUIDADO! Muchas personas estan salindo ahora para los restaurantes de fast food por causa de sus consejos!
Oh and while we are at it, I saw your “breakfast in five minutes” or whatever it was at youtube and wasn’t impressed by that either.
Try Danish breakfast:
Skimmed milk with oats and anything you have in the kitchen on top (such as fruits, nuts). It can be prepared in the same amount of time, has the best GI properties and nutritional profile and doesn’t taste like shit as your proposal appears to.
Oh and remember, a real friend is one that contributes real critizism!
Saludos de Ecuador
Love your blog, and posts like this really illustrate why. Thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work!
Since Mike Anderson’s “Healing Cancer from Inside Out” seems to be at least indirectly related to the content of this article, curious to know your thoughts about the content of the DVD?
Hi tim if say,i haven’t checked, there was a saturated fat pill like it was a daily vitamin would you suggest taking it?
Hands down, I had a Melbec on you tonight. 🙂
FYI: Johnny Colt of the the Black Crowes has a show on the Travel Channel. He went to Thailand for Muay Thai Boxing.
Since I haven’t heard about you from History Channel. Figured you catch your own thunder for a show on the Travel Channel.
Keep up the great work. A million thanks for your contributions.
Very, very proud. Take care.
Excuse me, had a “Malbec”. Hope you enjoyed your Rombauer VineYards_Napa Valley Melot from Nick and Sean (USC).
After my tons of reading and own rsearch into the topic i have no doubt in my mind that lots of animal fat and meat is not only extremely healthy but optimal.
I found it amusing reading through the comments and seeing all those by vegans/vegetarians or people who cannot fathom the idea as it is so against conventional wisdom (which I can forgive as the scientists/doctors/nutritionists/food companies have completely brainwashed everyone in the last couple of decades).
fiber is indigestable and is actually an irritant, human anatomy shows we are designed to eat meat, archeological evidence shows that paleolithic humans ate ALOT of meat, studies on modern hunter gatherers shows they thrive and are extremely healthy eating large amounts of meat, amd there is no conclusive evidence that saturated fat does ANY harm whatsoever.
I eat plenty of meat, fat and organs and practically zero carbs, and feel pretty damn amazing.
but in a way i’m glad there are still plenty of vegans/vegetarians/people who think sat.fat is bad….means all the more for me! 🙂
Nice look..and saturated fat is part of the solution. But the important missing piece here is how to use saturated fat to get the results that you want. ie: the hormonal/adaptive response that brings all of the benefits that you mentioned. Eating saturated fat haphazardly will not accomplish this in any significant way, especially once health is diminished/damaged.
When mixed with too many carbs/too much sugar, saturated fat actually is dangerous. This is because the subsequent catabolic/stress response from eating sugar alone is amplified due to the increased calorie content with the sugar containing meal. Saturated fat truly is the double edged sword of the food world.
Also, its not the “nutrition” thats important, its the hormonal reaction to macronutrient intake. Tweak this in a targeted and precise way, and you can recover from anything. To accomplish this in a safe and maximally effective manner, takes a extremely precise regimen that limits catabolic hormone release during waking hours, while maximizing anabolic hormone release during sleep.
Health, recovery, and performance are deep issues that the world hasn’t quite gained the proper perspective on, imo.
Thanks for this great post! I’ve had a bunch of emails extolling the benefits of this herb and that food to help boost my immune system during the onslaught of the flu season. This article is tops, though.
Explains why when I succumb to my cravings for a steak or hamburger or slathered up buttery toast and jam, I always feel better rather than worse and why my intake of MEAT does not negatively impact my weight loss but carbs do!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve passed this on to my FB account to share with all who care to read…
Great contrarian post.
Saturated fats are clearly important for nutritional health, but it’s their excessive intake that is problematic, promoting elevated cholesterol and immune and inflammatory dysregulation.
@ Paul Maurice Martin – Agree! How leading edge that the only relevant validation is that it works for us!
Christine Elisabeth von Malsen Hueber
Interesting and thought provoking article.
One thing that is contradictory for me is that book is about losing fat especially from waist, but then I googled for photos of Michael Eades and his wife and they are not lean, they are a little overweight. Michael even looks not 100% healthy.
Somebody mentioned here Sally Fallon and I googled for some of her photos… and she is also overweight (nothing dramatic but she is no lean for sure).
And, there are people like Jack Lalane and Arthur De Vany also mentioned here and they are in excellent condition for their age. I don’t know for others, but I’ll always listen persons that talk the talk, but then walk the walk.
I don’t try to flame here, their theory might be correct, but these are my first impressions.
Great post Tim! Thanks for the excerpt.
To the Michael Pollan fans – I would suggest a quick read of Matt Stone’s blog post(s) titled FUMP conclusions. The last two initials stand for Michael Pollan. With a little imagination you can figure out what the first two represent. 🙂
He over the course of a month writes about his experience as a FUMPkteer. The subsequent posts (and comments!) are quiet interesting, to say the least.
Dr. Eades comments about the benefits of saturated fat are quite welcome. Of course he writes about saturated fat within the framework of a low carb diet. But the benefits are just as noteworthy on a high or moderate carb diet as well. The Masai, while eating all animal foods were not low carbers by any stretch of the imagination. They were moderate carbers. And the Kitavans, as mentioned by an earlier poster, were and still are most definitely high carbers.
This is one of the differences between the work of Weston Price and the low-carb movement. Dr. Price noted that great health can be achieved with nearly any macro-nutrient profile. The problems with carbs is not carbs per se, but the specific types of carbs. That is obvious when you read about Price’s African tribes and/or the modern day Pacific Islanders like the Kitavans. The low carbers would have you think low carb is the diet. Dr. Price said there was no one ideal diet or food, as his work amply demonstrates.
[link removed per comment rules — one can slide, but this is an important rule to prevent a link fest.]
Again the Kitavans, who eat a high carb low total fat diet, nonetheless eat a diet very high in saturated fat. That is because at least 80% of their fat intake is in the form of saturated fat and yet heart disease in Kitava is non-existent. But note, as a percentage of their diet, that is one of the highest consumption of saturated fat in the world, definitely higher than what we consume in the west.
[same as above]
By the way David, if you base your judgement on a particular diet due to some “hostile” folks who adhere to that diet, then you wouldn’t be eating anything. Just visit a few vegetarian and vegan boards and mention the name Lierre Keith and watch the reaction.
Bottom line is you always judge a position by the best it has to offer. I think you will find Chris Masterjohn, for example, quite gracious in dealing with seekers and those who disagree with him.