7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat

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.

Footnotes:

*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.

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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 500 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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688 Replies to “7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat”

  1. Great post, not that I agree with the information submitted, but to the extent that it has promoted the discussion of health, which is one topic I love to talk about!! Regarding Dr. Michael Eades’ post “Vegetarians Age Faster” located on his own blog, I wanted to suggest a link to an article about author Dan Buettner’s research and to the specific topic of Adventist’s eating habits:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/In+search+of+secrets:+an+interview+with+Dan+Buettner,+author+of…-a0203027104

    Being actively involved in this group for the last 10 years, I can understand the reason that they were included in the top three. Although there is critism attempting to debunk his research, stating that the Adventists, as a whole, are just as unhealthy as the rest of us, a group that numbers 25 million cannot be stereotyped into one mindset and eating type.

    Within the large group, there are those who only eat out of a can or consume only foods that are white and orange (speaking of macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread). On the other side of the spectrum, where I reside, there are many who grow their own food, sprout seeds and grains, refrain from meat and diary products, and are actively involved in researching and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks for starting an interesting discussion and I look forward to reading all of the numerous comments. Tim, great way to get people interested in your next book, which I’m sure will be a success.

  2. Hi, Tony, that’s funny, you’re right — I had to look hard for it up here in Toronto.

    Lamb leg finally finished slow roasting at 250degrees and has a nice blend of meat/fats and I have been off carbs for 3 days and feel GREAT! If I get a junk food craving I mix almond butter with olive oil and have a few spoonfuls, yummy!

    Hey, I just discovered that organic calf liver is so much sweeter and better textured than “industrial” calf liver. It does not even compare!

  3. The reason that I wanted to jump in on this post is that diets that are high in saturated fats have been shunned and deemed as unhealthy. But how closely has this diet been researched? I know that more people benefit from better health and improved weight management than the those who supposdedly acquire the expected coronary heart disease. Having this as my lifestyle for 7 years and others in similar situations…I know what is the norm and what is fallacy.

  4. Sorry about the links. I saw a comment or two that had a couple of links and didn’t even think about it. Again my apologies. I would have written my comment a little differently. The FUMP stuff and vegetarian stuff was just an aside. 🙂

  5. @ J. Alden Page

    Not only would I recommend an all-meat diet for a patient, I have recommended such diets.

    You have grossly mischaracterized the state of the scientific literature. Just to give you an example of how off your characterization really is, there is an enormous amount of literature from India comparing the health of vegetarians (of which there are millions) to that of non-vegetarians . In virtually every study the non-vegetarians win out, and that includes studies on heart disease and longevity.

    @Florian Komm

    You canola oil may be organic, but it’s still deodorized, and that’s where the trans fat come from.

    @ Anand

    The book is primarily aimed at a more middle-aged market because people store fat differently in middle age. In youth, fat storage is mainly under the skin, i.e., subcutaneous fat, whereas with a little more age, people begin to store fat in their abdomens and around the organs. This type of fat, called visceral fat, is the more dangerous variety. The good news is that it’s a little easier to lose than the other variety. But now that kids as young as 8 and 10 are coming down with what used to be called adult-onset diabetes, it stands to reason that visceral fat may be showing up in younger and younger people as well.

    Good luck in your medical studies.

    @Monk

    You need to get out more. I fear that the diet you believe is the one “most intelligent scientists believe” has been bloodied pretty badly not just once but numerous times when compared to the diet we recommend in our books and practice. Sorry, but that’s what the data show.

    @Bob Fustero

    The low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is the diet of choice for people who have pulmonary (lung) problems for the very reason you state. Carbohydrate digestion produces much more carbon dioxide, which has to be gotten rid of through the lungs than does a higher fat diet. Most pulmonologists put their patients on low-carb diets.

  6. @Mary Titus

    Hi Mary. It’s good to see an old friend over here.

    @Scott Miller

    I agree with you right down the line except for one small issue. Fructose is deadly in the doses that the average American gets, but in a tiny dose – a couple of grams – it actually helps the body deal with glucose better. Which all makes sense when you think about it because the only time Paleo man would get fructose (other than by stumbling into a beehive full of honey) would be in fruits (which he only got when in season and not year round). The small amount of fructose would then help deal with the rest of the sugar load in the fruit. But we’re talking a few grams per day, not the 40 grams per one 12 ounce soft drink. And imagine how much fructose is in a Supersized soft drink? When you realize that some kids drink two or three of these at a setting, it’s easy to see why we’ve got a childhood obesity problem.

    @Dave Osofsky

    One of the improvements you describe on your low-carb diet is the eradication of acid reflux and GERD. In my experience, I’ve never had a patient who didn’t get rid of this problem with a low-carb diet. Eradication of heart burn, reflux and GERD is one of the unheralded advantages of such a diet.

    @Anthony

    You and I are on the same page about exercise. Jeff Volek at UConn has shown dramatic fat losses when combining resistance training with a low-carb diet. But usually the fat loss is associated with a muscle gain, so there isn’t a lot of weight loss. I co-wrote a book (with trainer Fred Hahn) on strength training titled Slow Burn that goes into this in some detail. I’ve read all of Doug McGuff’s material and agree with it.

  7. Tim, I am loving this post. But to be quite candid I am confused with the influx of data/info. How does one sort the “correct” data from the “incorrect” data? So much info is slammed at society it is difficult to know what is “true” Furthermore, how much would your own genetic pre-disposition influence certain diets?

    Pura Vida Hermano,

    Jose A Castro-Frenzel Jr. Sept 12-2009

  8. @Alex

    My mantra is a little different.

    “Eat food. As much as you want if it’s mainly meat”

    Pollan’s quote is simple, but it’s not accurate.

    @David

    Check out Chris Masterjohn’s review of The China Study.

    http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study.html

    At this link you can find Dr. Campbell’s rebuttal of Chris’s critique and Chris’s response to Campbell’s rebuttal. I’ve appeared on the same podium a time or two with Dr. Campbell at various nutritional symposia, and I’ve heard him give his presentation a couple of times, so I’m pretty well grounded in what it’ all about. Without getting into the technical issues of what makes one kind of study better than another, I can tell you that the China study is an observational study. Any decent scientists will confirm that observational studies don’t prove causality. These kinds of studies serve only do develop hypotheses that can then be tested in randomized controlled studies.

    @Eric

    You don’t put your kidneys into ketosis in this diet nor in Atkins. And if you did, what would be the problem?

    Question: how do those living enzymes in raw meat make it unchanged through the stomach acid that has a pH of 2?

    @Kathryn

    You wrote, “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.” What exactly are you saying here? What do they feed animals these days? How about if you eat grass fed beef? What’s the problem there?

    Last I heard Mark Bittman was a chef, not a scientist. I’ll be happy to let him tell me how to cook, but not determine my diet.

    @David Jehlen

    Are there fiber needs of the body? Obviously you think so, but does the scientific research show that the human body needs fiber? The answer is, No, it doesn’t.

  9. @Jim Swayze

    Both Drs. Rosedale and Cordain are friends of mine. In fact, I was in partnership with Ron Rosedale in practice in Boulder, CO for a few years.

    I would say we all agree on a lot more than we disagree on. Loren Cordain and I have had (and continue to have) many discussions on the saturated fat issue. We have decided to agree to disagree on it.

    Same with Ron Rosedale. I haven’t been in communication with him as much as I have Loren over the past few years, but we spoke one after another at a medical meeting a couple of years ago. That was the first time I knew of his changed views on protein. We sort of debated the issue in the Q & A after the talk as the audience asked us questions, but we haven’t really explored it since.

    @David Rojas

    I don’t know what the perfect diet is. That’s more or less what I’ve spent my career trying to figure out. At this point, based on the scientific medical literature, the anthropological literature and my experience with many thousands of patients, I would say that a high-fat, low-carb, adequate protein diet would be pretty close.

    You wrote, “read: meat associated to some cancers and diseases?” Meat isn’t really associated with any cancers nor diseases. And if it is associated, which is another way of saying correlated, it means nothing. Correlation does not equal causation. There are as many studies showing meat doesn’t cause a problem as there are showing it does, but the point is, these are all observational studies and are meaningless in proving that meat does or doesn’t cause anything.

    @Abdu

    I agree with you that exercise is beneficial, and I recommend it to all my patients and I get plenty myself. But it has been shown that moving one’s ass doesn’t lead to weight loss, which was the context into which you put it in your previous comment. Exercise has a multitude of benefits, but weight loss isn’t one of them.

    You can “take the stairs, take breaks at work and walk. Enjoy the fresh? air, scenary and outdoor,” and you may feel better, become a little healthier, but you won’t lose an ounce. That’s my point.

  10. @Chris: you sound like you might be into the weight lifting culture and I would like you to write further about the idea you started to introduce about anabolic and catabolic hormones. Any links? Thank you.

    About fiber: Every morn I drink at least a liter of good water and that cleans me out. If someone thinks they need fiber for regularity they have not tried drinking a liter of water an hour before breakfast 🙂

  11. The underlying assumption of the comment posts is that there is one diet from which every human organism will benefit.

    I disagree. When I attempted vegetarianism I became quite sick and unable to attend to my usual daily routine. Despite repeated efforts and carefully following recommendations for switching. The diet was simply the wrong one for my body.

    Other people have had the opposite experience.

    Instead of focusing on finding the right diet we need to learn to distinguish the right diet for a given population or sub-group.

  12. Tim,

    I like your non-mainstream thinking and lifestyle experimentation, but I thought you were trying to benefit peoples lives. This article is very misleading for those people who don’t have the proper physiology background. Encouraging fat people to eat more fat ??? Our healthcare costs are already out of control because of the high percentage of obese people in our society. I hope this is not a preview of the type of information coming in your next book ! Yes, fatty acids are essential to optimal health, but there is only a very small percentage of the population that could benefit from adding more to their diet. This article is great for your readers who are looking for more reasons to avoid really doing what they need to do to be healthy.

    Mark (Exercise Physiologist)

  13. Of course they lost weight…they weren’t eating any carbs! If you aren’t eating any carbs, your body will burn fat. The Atkins diet did this a long time ago. That being said, they also weren’t getting the proper nutrition they needed, so they were probably less healthy on this diet than they were before. “Fix one problem, break something else” philosophy for weight loss is just ignorant and not even worth exploring.

  14. Dr. Eades and Tim,

    What is fascinating about this is how patients on two completely opposing diets see the same results. Let’s look at the McDougall versus Eades. Patients report miraculous healing through nutrition on both methods, although I am less familiar with Dr Eades, I trust Tim and will stipulate you are the real deal.

    How can both diets work so well? McDougall is right here in the area Tim if you want to visit his clinic and verify that. The only thing in common is that both eliminate sugar and refined starches which tells me that is where I will start when I advise my clients. Also, there must be positive health effects from cutting out the toxic dairy and meat and choosing to either eliminate them or stick to clean sources. Dr. Eades, are your patients strict about getting clean sources of meat or do you find the same results with regular meat from the super market?

  15. I loved their first book and got this one on my kindle after reading this post. Excellent!

    As a trainer and performance coach, I have the hardest time convincing people that fat isn’t the enemy and that sat. fat is actually helpful if you’re an athlete!

    Chris said: “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.”

    Right on! That’s why doing the lowcarb/mostly meat approach works. Sat fat + carbs (think most deserts) will send your hormones on a roller-coaster ride that will leave you tired and fat.

    Chris, you made a great point. People are NEVER really taught what hormonal response they will have from everyday food. It’s just not taught in school.

    Foods are either good or bad. It’s very childish.

    Now, as an athlete/trainer/lifter, I know that when I eat meat/eggs/cheese and green vegs, I’m stronger and my joints are stronger. I know that after I eat eggs, cheese, coffee and vegs for breakfast, my body responds with a more testosterone.

    To learn more about this stuff read the Eades’ books and anything by Dr. Mauro DiPasquale.

    -Steve

  16. “I’ve seen research showing increased levels of testosterone from upping your saturated fat intake. Surely helpful for bulking up a bit =). Also, foods high in saturated fat often contain other nutrients beneficial for building muscle (red meat, egg yolks, etc).”

    Exaclty, they contain sat fat, cholesterol (a building block of test), zinc (shown to increase test long term + improve sexual function in males).

  17. @Bojan That kind of bothers me too, how some of these diet gurus are a overweight themselves. Reminds me of one time I went to an introductory meditation class and the teacher looked really unhealthy and overweight. Never went back.

    That’s why I’m waiting for what Tim has to say (here in the blog or in his new book), obviously what he’s doing is working for him pretty well.

    By the way Tim, this is offtopic but I would suggest you to serve a mobile version of your blog (l’ve heard mobifyme is great for that), some of us like to read it on the go (me: ipod touch) 🙂

  18. @Michael R. Eades

    Thanks for the reply! It’s nice that you have been so proactive at responding to all of our comments.

    I do see your point and somewhat agree with your overall philosophy. I plan on researching a little further into this. As for the science behind an alkaline rich, green smoothie lifestyle however, it may not have been proven in a lab but it has definitely shaped up my health. And anyone interested in taking a (non-scientific) look into alkalinity and green smoothies, the book Green for Life is a nice read.

    Thanks Michael and Tim for the article!

  19. Hi Tim,

    Great timing on this one. I have had trouble moving off 280 pounds for the last 10 years. My wife is vegetarian and she balances the home diet well but my weight hasn’t moved in a decade.

    With my Dr.s approval I added some meat to the diet and made sure I had protein first before the carbs (I swear a 12 step program for potatoes should happen). Execise is 3 miles vigorous walk daily (I’m 53 with disc issues)

    Net result in 4 months is 27 pounds off and a great checkup with the doctor. No restrictions, lots of common sense. There is a lot of merit in this, keep this dialogue going.

    all my best,

    Bill

  20. @Jose – “Furthermore, how much would your own genetic pre-disposition influence certain diets?” excellent question. Given that from an evolutionary standpoint, men were mostly hunters (of meat) and women mostly gatherers (of plants, berries, nuts etc.) I would say it’s entire possible to postulate that — (drumroll) we are all different.

    Which is why I don’t like a blanket statement like “Pollan’s quote is simple, but it’s not accurate.” (re: Pollen’s statement on eating mostly plants)

    I never liked meat as a child, in fact, I would pick the beef out of beef stew, much to my parents shagrin. The culture I grew up in and still live in pushes a meat-(and carb) based diet with a few overcooked veggies on the side. Having come to this realization later in life, I now find it extremely difficult to find food choices for me, esp. while travelling, without having to go way off the beaten path.

    And not to mention cultural differences, some cultures prefer bugs as a protein source, some dogs. We all form our food preferences at a very young age.

    But as I have said before, I appreciate this post for it’s main message – saturated fats are a good thing (and my footnote: when they come from non-processed sources – the way mother nature makes them – including grass-fed beef, not the mainstream crap being fed to us). I am putting the coconut oil, nuts, and avocado on high priority now 🙂

  21. @ Marcie, I can just see myself as a female North American Indian cooking up dinner for my “Brave” and making sure I got some of that meat too 🙂 I think it all went into the shared pot 🙂

    I hear that nuts should be sprouted before eaten, but I have not yet been able to sprout my raw pumpkin seeds successfully. I do purchase sprouted brown rice which looks and cooks up just like regular rice.

  22. @ Coleen – you are right, my understanding is that men often were gone for weeks or more sustaining themselves on small catches until they returned home with enough to feed the tribe (or not) while the women were at home also sustaining themselves on nuts & berries & plants – which also would be what was mostly eaten by all over the winter before the advent of salt-curing meats, etc. – sorry for no source, probably “Nourishing Traditions” which someone else also mentioned here somewhere 🙂

  23. Tim,

    You must be absolutely thrilled with the debate that this post has caused – it seems food is the new ‘politics or religion’ when it comes to topics that spark an argument -everyone has an absolutely well researched, deeply held belief and they are all totally contrary to one another! I can only think that this is a great thing – the sooner more of us care about what we are putting into our mouths the less likely the industrialised food supply will continue to dominate our mouths and stomachs and therefore our health. I totally love this type of post from you. Thanks.

  24. @reamz

    I don’t think most scientists are trying to brainwash the populace. Most of them are trying to do their best by themselves, their families, and all of us. They want to eat an optimal diet, too. Just because they may be wrong doesn’t make them bad people with some secret agenda. For every single one that has an agenda, there are plenty who don’t and who mean well.

    I can find studies that support just about any kind of diet you want. It’s not as clear cut as you like to make it sound. You really have to sift through the data and analyze, trying to figure out what the studies actually say, whether they’re good studies, and so forth. It’s time consuming, and sometimes data is contradictory or just plain strange. Like the study where vegetarians don’t live longer than the regular eaters studied yet all the studied participants were better off than the regular populace!

    Now, you can certainly blame the media. Again, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, just ignorance on the part of the writers. Your average journalist knows as much about diet as your average person off the street and they are told to write these things up in a certain way.

    Corporations. Well, blame away. They exist to make money, and that’s it. They’ll mislead people willingly.

    The government is just confused and conflicted and lobbied, nothing else new there.

    People are confused, sure. But let’s be honest. Most people want to eat burgers, fries, milkshakes, and twinkies regardless of whether you tell them it’s healthy or ideal. We worry about ideal and debate it here but most folks just don’t care, which is the tragedy. You could vastly improve most people’s health by making them follow a whole foods diet of any type: vegan, paleo, low-carb, whatever.

    And we’ve all got anecdotal evidence. I’ve feel great, having been a vegan for a year. I didn’t know when I started that I had dairy allergies. I didn’t know that years as a semi-vegetarian had depleted my B12 reserves. My daily sinus headaches are gone and I think I may be pooping rose petals.

  25. @ Michael

    I didn’t mean to suggest that The Price Foundation is bad people, but some members rubbed me the wrong way and then when I went to the website it seemed almost like I had stumbled into the mirror world of PETA. This was an unfair opinion, having looked at the site today, but I have little tolerance for extremism and will jump to conclusions like the flawed human I am.

    For the record, while I am a vegan, I don’t take PETA’s dietary advice either. And I’m not crazy enough to go to vegan message boards! I learned the crazy that goes on with some of them on the same day Price folks rubbed me the wrong way. (Probably why I was so irritated.) What constitutes health advice on some vegan boards makes me want to cry tears of blood.

    I don’t want to bad mouth PETA too much. It’s a big organization that does some good works along with some questionable things. A bit like the government, I guess. They have my support in preventing animal cruelty and such.

    I trust a few select vegan sources, but that’s about it. I started it for me, not the animals, and that separates me from most of them.

    It’s the nature of the beast that critiques are often made by opposing sides and not neutral third parties. What I really wanted was a look at the China Study by a more neutral group. Pipe dreams, I know.

  26. @Dr Eades

    Thanks for the link. Your blog is great by the way. I’m not going to say I agree with you on everything without investigating what you have to say. I think we both understand how foolish that is (though we all do it from time to time), but I have enjoyed it. Food for thought, I guess.

    I know the dangers of observational studies but that’s not easy to explain to most people. And even then, it’s nice to have a look and try to figure it out.

    If you should ever have the desire, I think some of your posts on how to read and understand studies and media articles about them would make an excellent ebook if retooled for that purpose. Something that could help everyone. Not a guideline that promoted low-carb or vegan or paleo or anything but a simple guideline on how to analyze all this health information that washes through our bustling lives.

  27. Dr. Eades,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my comment, as well as the questions and comments of others. I really appreciate it.

    Do you advocate humane, ethical means of raising and killing meat, or do you strictly focus on the nutritional/scientific aspect of your work?

    Thanks again to you and Tim.

  28. @Alex

    My pleasure. It’s been a fun and interesting experience.

    I am an absolute advocated of the humane and ethical treatment of animals that provide my food. Which is why I buy grass fed beef and pay the little extra for meat from organically-raised animals. The nice thing about grass fed beef is that it’s often less expensive than non-grass fed because it can be a little tough and tricky to cook therefore reducing demand for it.

  29. This is completely off-topic, but I wasn’t sure where else to post it. So I apologize in advance. Anyway,

    Are you aware (approving) a facebook ad using your name and book to promote someone else’s product? When I saw your book on the ad I clicked the link and the only seeming connection between you and them is “inspired by.” The ad is at:

    [link seen]

    Just wanted you to know.

  30. This article makes sense. When I’m confused about which foods to eat, or not to eat, or when a new fad diet comes out and sounds convincing (How to eat like a yogi and live for 400 years) I ask myself what we would have been eating 7000 years ago as hunter gatherers before the advent of farming. Humans evolved on a hunter gatherer diet and are still designed to be eating those same foods now as very little, if any (maybe even backwards), evolutionary change will have taken place since then. A lot of food allergies and other problems come from foods which have been introduced to our diet since the introduction of farming such as grains, sugar, refined foods etc.

    A northern European hunter gathers diet would have included plenty of meat, especially in the winter months and also any edible plants that where available. The only sugar that would have passed our lips would have been summer fruits i.e. berries etc (very low glycemic index). Our diet would have been high in fat and protein in the form of animal meat (the kind of quality not available in supermarkets today unless you go out and hunt wild animals yourself).

    Tim – Looking forward to your new book coming out. I try to eat most fruit and veges raw and get good ideas on food preparation from the raw food community, however I would like more insight on the best way to prepare meat – what is the effect of high temperature cooking on meats – does it denature the proteins and fats making them unavailable for use by the body or even toxic? Is it best to cook meat at low temperatures or not at all (i.e. sushi)? How do you think our hunter gatherers ancestors prepared and consumed meat?

  31. Thank you Marcie and Anthony for your replies. I’ve already started to lose weight since getting off the carbs totally except for dark leafy greens. My blood sugar is level — no wild swings.

    There was a French Bistro in Washington DC that served up the tastiest steak tartare (seasoned raw beef). Koreans like it too with a raw egg on top and Korean markets will sell the type of beef that is specially prepared for raw chopped steak. The only time I ever had digestive problems from eating raw beef was when I lived in Nairobi, but some good strong fresh Kenyan tea cured it 🙂

  32. @ Dr. Eades, I do believe that historically beef was “aged” before eaten. Also I find that using a good slow cooker with hardwood charcoal tenderizes.

    When I lived in France the beef was tougher than US beef. The best beef steak I ever had was in Venezuela.

    My mom used to buy a cheap cut of beef and pound it and pound flour into it and cook what she called a “Swiss Steak”. That was in the good old days when the butcher did not trim all the fat off.

    Unless I am quick grilling a thin fatty steak, I never roast or otherwise cook beef at over 250degrees temperature.

    @Anthony: Did you know that grocery store beef has synthetic estrogens? I am wondering how to rid my liver of stored up synthetic estrogens.

  33. Great Article! I am loving the arguments!

    Dr. Eades your the man, I follow your blog and many others ( Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson etc) daily.

    This stuff just makes sense, I don’t know how people can’t wrap their heads around it. Carbohydrates are the only food you could never overconsume in nature because trees/plants only fruit in one season and flower in the next. You can’t pick berries all year round! When snow flys do you know what is in season? MEAT! How do any of you think we survived the Ice Age? Or any other winter for that matter?

    @ all fatphobes

    If cholesterol was so bad for you why would your body produce it? And why would breast milk be loaded with it?? hmmm. All this talk about LDL and HDL cholesterol is bogus too. Yes saturated fat raises LDL…and HDL! And the formation of LDL is “large and fluffy” not small and dense which are the dangerous kind promoted by a high carb diet. LDL (low density lipo-protein, not actually cholesterol) play a vitally important job by sending cholesterol (a major structural building block for cell membranes and sex hormones) to tissues. They don’t just look for the nearest place to stick and kill you!

    Have any of you heard of the essential carbohydrates? Me neither! Last time I checked there were only essential amino acids and essential fatty acids!

    Too think you can substitute real food (meat) with “food products” (soy dogs, and other vegetarian garbage) that come in a box is borderline insane.

    Please tell me you guys don’t eat the “heathly choice” margarine too?

    The only person that is going to benefit from good health is YOU! These great studys that you fall back on are usually paid for by big drug companys and other organizations. They get the scientists to find what they want and it makes them money. Its all about the money. Food Guides? Money.

    margarine+high carb diet+birth control= Cancer

  34. @Michael R. Eades

    “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.”

    Its not very hard to find “proof” that the rain forests are being cut down mainly because of meat production. It is ranching and feed production, soy. Just google around, its not a secret. I think we dont want to admit that our eating habits are one of a handful of main reasons we are destroying the planet. Unless your cow is gracing local grass, we are pretty much eating the rainforest every time we take a bite of beef.

    Here is the first report google showed me: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/amazon-cattle-footprint-mato.pdf

    Now you give me “proof” that they are burning down the rainforest for other reasons. Yes logging for wood, but they would not put the forest on fire to do that would they.

  35. @ Kai, Dr. Eades has repeatedly specified grass-fed beef. I know personally that there is a lot of grassfed beef in South America, and I can purchase grassfed beef at my upscale grocery store or at a local butcher.

    You are right they have no business growing soy in the rainforest lands. Soy is overrated as a food item in my humble opinion.

  36. @ Jeanie, yes, Enova oil is made from soy and canola and I would not trust it for that reason. Besides it is becoming ecologically and politically incorrect to keep supporting the soy and canola industries for the same reason Kai mentioned earlier.

    I just discovered at my grocer an oil that contains virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil and flaxseed oil, and it seems pretty good, and the price is comparable to olive oil. Although a really good, fresh harvested, Spanish extra virgin olive oil cannot be beat for flavor 🙂

  37. It is great to see this info on your blog. It gives me an even better reason to trust your other info in other areas. I too have read the body building books that say, “no fat” or only olive and canola. It makes be have less trust for their other advice, when I read that.

    Yay! I have been telling this to my friends and family and they just think I am nuts. It is truly sad that people are dying of degenerative diseases because this info is not being allowed in the mainstream or taught in the medical schools.

    Have you looked into the benefits of Raw Milk (http://www.realmilk.com/), heard of the Weston A. Price Foundation (http://www.westonaprice.org/) or read Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (http://www.amazon.com/Nourishing-Traditions-Challenges-Politically-Dictocrats/dp/0967089735)?

    Weston A. Price wrote “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” in 1939 and he talks about saturated fats and more.

    Another good one is “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” (http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Fat-Lose-Healthy-Alternative/dp/0452285666/ref=pd_sim_b_3) which is based on the research of Price and the WAP Foundation.

  38. @Colleen

    “Did you know that grocery store beef has synthetic estrogens?”

    >>>Conventional meat fed corn, soy, other grains/beans, antibiotics, and growth hormones- has all sorts of fun surprises. It’s kind of like those “wonder balls” I had as a kid, you never know what’s gonna be inside! =)

    ” I am wondering how to rid my liver of stored up synthetic estrogens.”

    A. Stop eating foods that don’t belong in your diet (grains, beans, animals fed grains and beans if possible, processed foods…etc).

    B. Start eating foods that do belong in your diet

    C. Strength train once or twice a week

    While a bit over simplistic, your options beyond this are pretty limited imo. However, this should take you a long way.

    -Anthony

  39. The Inuit can go months without eating anything but meat and animal fat. Stefansson, the Arctic explorer, went nine years in total with nothing else during his explorations.

    When he came back, he replicated his experiments and ate only meat and fat for a year under medical supervision. And he lived to tell about it.

  40. @ Dr. Eades

    Your comments here on Tim’s blog inspired me to buy your latest book, which looks great, and I’m anxious to implement. However, one question has come up: I just watched a lecture by Doug McGuff (author of Body By Science) in which he suggested people avoid protein powders because they’re typically high in the types of amino acids that are readily converted to glucose by the liver via glucogensis. The first two weeks of your program involves the heavy use of whey protein powder, so I’m guessing you don’t see this as a problem … why is that?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz8guULurEw&feature=related

  41. Oh God, these people are funny. I’m just going to address the ecological argument since Dr. Eades can handle the medical stuff. Have any of you ever lived for five minutes outside the city? Do you understand what it takes to live on an entirely plant-based diet, in terms of agricultural techniques and inputs? You have to (1) clear a forest, (2) plow the ground, (3) and keep weeding and killing bugs and other animals until harvest.

    Deforestation is one of the biggest contributing factors to global warming (and yes, I do believe that’s caused by human beings and I just read an article in my relatively conservative local paper indicating that more evidence for that has surfaced), grain agriculture has contributed to some of the biggest desert and near-desert regions in existence and it’s made Iraq into the arid wasteland that most of it is today. You know the cedars of Lebanon? They used to grow in Iraq, so thick the sunlight never reached the forest floor. No more. All gone. Thank you, Fertile Crescent.

    Then there’s the animal-killing thing. If I eat a burger, I’ve killed one cow. If you eat a soy burger, you’ve killed at least an acre of forest along with all its resident fauna.

    Then there’s the arable-land thing. You don’t need cropland to raise food animals; you can raise sheep on rocks and scrubbrush. You can even raise cattle under light tree cover; it’s called silvopasture. But you can’t raise wheat, corn, or soy without the above-mentioned deforestation. They are plants that thrive on disturbed soil and MUST have full sunlight.

    And then there’s my own experience. On a nearly all-meat diet, high in fat, I lose weight (I’m obese), I think better, I’m calmer and more sane. On a grain-based diet, even with the veggies, and even when I tried vegetarian and then vegan eating, I get fatter and I get crazy.

    No contest as far as I’m concerned. If you want to know the score, put your money where your mouth is and become your own guinea pig.

    The worst part of all the dietary comparisons is people compare veganism to the Standard American Diet and present the SAD as “a meat-based diet.” It’s not. It’s a grain-based diet. Go back and take out all the grain and just eat the meat and see what happens. You’ll be in for a shock once your body finishes the metabolic switchover. (That’s the “foggy brain” researchers were talking about when they tried to “prove” Atkins is bad for you. It’s temporary, not permanent.)

  42. The comments have been great and thought-provoking, thank you everyone.

    I buy into eating a paleo diet for the obvious reasons. Most of the readily available information focuses on WHAT hunter-gatherers ate, less so on WHEN they ate it, i.e. what did a typical day/week/month/season/year look like? The season for fruits and vegetables can be quite short, and meat quality/quantity changes across the 4 seasons. Did they eat once a day? Did they fast periodically? etc.

    I’d love to see any comments/references people have.

    Thanks

  43. Just a couple of things noted in going through the massive comments.

    – Someone brought up Seventh Day Adventists. Because they are health conscious (avoid alcohol, tobacco, caffein, etc.) they live longer than average people. You can’t compare them. But, you can compare them to Mormons, who have the same prohibitions, eat meat, and enjoy longer longevity.

    – How ab out take a look at the highest saturated fat consumers on the planet, fully 50% of their energy not just from fat, but sat fat:

    http://freetheanimal.com/2009/01/saturated-fat.html

    (and make sure to follow the links to the source).

    – Finally, here’s mine and my wife’s progress in photos following a high-fat, low-carb diet for some time, now.

    http://freetheanimal.com/2009/09/interim-progress-update.html

    http://freetheanimal.com/2009/09/my-beutiful-wife-progresses.html

    Finally, if you wonder what all the saturated fat (lots of meat, and coconut fat too, and butter, and lard…) has done to my bloodwork:

    LDL: 66

    HDL: 134 (yes, you read that right)

    TRG: 47

  44. @Peter

    “Did they eat once a day? Did they fast periodically?”

    Starvation was a major threat for most of our existence (and indeed, many people today are still starving to death). Considering this, I think the common wisdom of “eat frequently to boost your metabolism” is pretty silly. We ate randomly, and whenever we could. Food was never abundant enough to eat 6 times per day.

    Also, eating frequently keeps your insulin levels chronically spiked- something to think about.

    Finally, I’m sure we “fasted” plenty- probably without much of a say in the matter.

    Personally, I eat once or twice a day, on rare occasions 3.

  45. @Michael R.

    Me “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.”

    Doc “You have grossly mischaracterized the state of the scientific literature. Just to give you an example of how off your characterization really is, there is an enormous amount of literature from India comparing the health of vegetarians (of which there are millions) to that of non-vegetarians . In virtually every study the non-vegetarians win out, and that includes studies on heart disease and longevity.”

    Could you give an example? I am not convinced these studies exist. Also, the supposed studies you are talking about don’t back up your argument. They are comparing vegetarians with non-vegetarians. An all meat diet isn’t the same as a non-vegetarian diet.

    Here is a study of Seventh-Day-Adventists. Taking confounding factors into consideration like that vegetarians are less likely to smoke, it concludes that vegetarians live 1.5 to 2 years longer. Without taking confounding factors into account, it found the life expectancy of this group was 7.28 years longer for men(83.3) and 4.42 years longer for women(85.7). Read the study: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/70/3/516S#T2

    And if you would like to look at another study, this paper was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It combines work from five major studies to take a look into the longevity of vegetarians vs. non-vegetarians. With a sample size of 76,172, it concludes that vegetarians have a significantly lower mortality rate and vegans have the same mortality rate as non-vegetarians.

    Read the study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11434797

  46. @Dana I believe they grow all the soy to feed animals for meat production. Not to feed humans. The problem is that we are soooo many people, and instead of growing plants and eating it we grow plants, feed it to animals, then eat the animals. This is about a 10 to 1 extra expense on the (rainforest) land.

  47. There’s this fallacy I keep seeing here that I’d like to comment on: Being a vegan is not necessarily like being a low-carb dieter or following a paleo-diet where you are trying to be as healthy as possible.

    When you study a large group of vegetarians or vegans you’re going to get some who pay a lot of attention to diet and eating healthy. Others just eat however, not caring so long as there are no animal products in what they consume. There are more of the latter group.

    Some people are dietary vegetarians, some are just in it for the animals. The two groups may have different health profiles. Maybe neither group has an optimal or even healthy diet, but it’s going to be different.

    I’ve been a vegan for a year and I’m very health with great vital statistics, but I pay careful attention to my dietary needs. (And to some extent, this is a self-experiment so I’m monitoring things.) But I also know some other vegans whom I refer to as salad and potato chip vegans. Their diets are terrible.

  48. I accidentally switched those links when I was copying and pasting. The second one is about seventh day adventists and the first one is from the American Journal of Medical Nutrition.

    Oh… and good points David T. These studies aren’t comparing vegetarians who are eating right to the general population, they are just comparing people who don’t eat meat to the general population. Despite this, vegs still come out even or ahead.

  49. @ Marcie

    Here is a bit from John Lennon on overpopulation that I have always enjoyed:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yRh5NNiFG0

    I hear about overpopulation occasionally from colleagues and it is really disconcerting. In medieval times such arguments were used to justify more hunting lands for the nobility, and I doubt much has changed (these hunting lands now referred to as national parks or wildlife preserves).

    I recently took a trip through Indiana and Illinois…not recommended for a low-carb/primal advocate! The endless cornfields are highly upsetting. Thankfully, I can fall back on descriptions of the prairie by the likes of Washington Irving and George Catlin.

    I think about this quote from Crazy Horse whenever anyone comes down on me for being an unabashed meat lover: “You tell us to work for a living but the Great Spirit did not make us to work but to live by hunting. You white men can work if you want to. We do not interfere with you, and again you say, why do you not become civilized? We do not want your civilization”

  50. @ Anthony, I have to agree with you because since I started disciplining myself on a meat/fat/greens diet with no other carbs I never feel hungry in the same way I did when I ate more carbs, sugars. My blood sugar never spikes. Can’t say I never feel hungry, but, how can I explain? It’s a “good” feeling, not a real uncomfortable one. I do take chromium picolinate so maybe that helps curb the cravings. I also drink plenty of water. I have not deliberately changed by exercise routine but I do find myself wanting to get out more and take longer walks. But I am also on a path of clearing out the subconscious mind and I think wholistically it’s all coming together for me.

  51. @ Rick, it seems to me that the biggest worry is that the aging US population will find out that there is not enough social security for them and that might be an inducement to hurry them to their graves. I believe there are other stupid thinks about “overpopulation” too, but people like this have a tendency to fall into the graves they think they are digging for others. I think there should be more people on this planet along with some really cool technology that already exists. We now have every technnology that is needed to create a green AND “overpopulated” planet 🙂

  52. Tim,

    Glory! Glory! Halleluiah! Thanks so much for this post and for introducing me to the Eades’ work. I grabbed the book and am on day one today.

    I’m in the holistic health field and go mildly insane with how misinformed many people in the field are regarding diet. Vegetarianism and Veganism are always waved around as wise health choices. As a long time fan of Weston A. Price’s work (and those who are inspired by him, like Nina Planck), I always want to see more in the media regarding the saturated-fat-is-bad myth. Many thanks for this piece.

  53. @A-ron: “Every other animal on this planet, with the exception of humans, are born with all the tools they need to eat.”

    Every other animal on the planet also shits in the woods, runs around naked, and avoids the use of the Internet.

    So what are you doing commenting on an online forum?

    “Our appetite isn’t stirred when we see a pasture filled with cattle.”

    Mine is. Although to be fair, it is also stirred when I see pigs, fish, chicken, ducks, oysters, etc. etc.

  54. I reckon it would be really useful if all posters provided details of their age, height and weight.

    I have been folowing a paleo regime for 3 years. No sugar, no grains, no potatoes. No processed food. Lost 50 pounds, looking to gain 7+ pounds of muscle.

    Age:55 Height:6 feet 0 inches Weight: 140 pounds

  55. Funny personal anecdote: I was on a golf trip with some friends, and one evening they all chipped in $10 if I would eat a baby fist-sized piece of *pure fat* from the prime rib we were eating. I ate it just for the stories.

    But the next day I played the golf round of my life. I had never – and have never since – experienced such mental clarity and muscle control before. I couldn’t help but think that it had something to do with the chunk of fat that I had eaten. I don’t know – maybe the fat was full of a cocktail of steroids and antibiotics that the cow had eaten – or maybe it was just the saturated fat?

  56. This is hardly scientific…far from actually, but during my years as a teenager and young adult, I would watch my grandmother eat the most fat filled pieces of meat and tell me they were the best part as I watched in near disgust, trimming my fat while attempting to only eat the lean cuts.

    My grandmother spent a good part of her life smoking and drinking socially, (she owned a bar), survived cancer, and never feared scientific trends.

    In two weeks she will turn 87 and, as my girlfriend who just met her for the first time on Sunday said, “she REALLY doesn’t look or act 87. She’s amazing.” She handles the accounting for the apartment she lives in and volunteers daily for two organizations.

    I’m not saying that saturated fats are a miracle cure. What I am saying, and I do believe, is that their is value in every foodsource we are capable of acquiring.

  57. One study says this, one study says that, throw in another that says something else…obviously we don’t have the answers yet. It seems the only safe bet for losing weight is keeping calories in check and exercising as much as possible.

  58. Beware Sugar…..

    Put simply, refined sugar overstimulates the hormone insulin, which in turn stimulates HMG-CoA reductase (an enzyme responsible for cholesterol synthesis inside each cell). As insulin speeds up the enzyme activity within the cholesterol manufacturing pipeline, it leads to a build up and surplus within each cell. At this point there is no need for the cell to retrieve any from the bloodstream and cholesterol begins to build up in the blood. Reduce insulin and immediately the signal that causes an increase in cholesterol synthesis is silenced and the cells begin to harvest the necessary cholesterol directly from the blood, causing blood levels to drop. Excess insulin also inhibits the release of glucagon. Glucagon’s job is to restore blood sugar levels for optimal brain function. Glucagon inhibits the activity of HMG-CoA reductase. So by increasing the hormone glucagon you decrease the cholesterol producing machinery inside the cells, forcing LDL receptors to rush to the cell surface in an effort to pull cholesterol from the blood and restore the appropriate balance.

  59. i cant believe this post has gotten this much attention…

    you cant argue i dont understand the fuss…

    saturated fat is healthy for you from grassfed beef and sources like raw butter, ghee and tallow, dont argue you can prove it otherwise…so shhhh

    vegetarians are simply confused and hopefully will stay that way because it leave more meat for this girl…so go on being deficien in who knows how many vitamins & minerals

    and one thing about the vegan studies… they compare vegetarians to your average joe… your average joe is like 10 times more likely to drink/smoke and not exercise whatsoever and eat processed food. OF COURSE there will not be convincing evidence somewhere in there for vegetarians

  60. Awesome post. Thanks for putting some attention to this topic. It needs to go mainstream-hopefully will soon. Guess what has been helping me lose my baby weight? (I just gave birth to twins) Coconut milk and steak! No saturated fat deprivation here. Thanks Tim.

  61. Even though majority seem to opose I dare to say: Do not increase your saturated fat intake considerably. There is no controlled, prospective, long term, large scale data on saturated fat that would show any major benefit on HUMAN health. In contrast, there is wealth of data on trans fats (negative effects on health) and unsaturated fat (mainly positive) in long term clinical settings.

    Look what rather liberal Linus Paulig Institute state on SFA at Oregon Uni:

    http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/lpirx2.html

  62. I’m glad to see this topic covered. I came across the Weston A. Price website a while back, and they blew me away with their arguments in favor of saturated fat consumption. Their point is that people have always lived healthily on the traditional western diet despite its saturated fat (butter, animal fats, dairy, meat,…). They also mention the generally accepted idea that cancer and heart problems were scarce before the 1920s. Now, the popular explanation is that people simply didn’t live long enough to be affected. However, if you look into it (just google it), you’ll find that life expectancy at the time was almost the same as today if you survived childhood.

  63. This morning I ate (lamb with dandelion greens) and then again right now close to 4pm (sole filet with zucchini and a big dose of olive oil). Sugar level very stable the whole time. A slight urge, left over from the ole days to eat some sweet pastry, but it was controllable.

    Okay, now that I am nicely ketogenic on a meat lover’s diet I am focusing attention on my vegan hubby. Since he is a “B” blood type he has tolerance for dairy products, including whey powders.

    Now he is going to tweak his diet to attempt to go ketogenic. That will mean a no-meat, ovo-lacto vegan diet, eggs and cheeses allowed. He’s cutting the sugars and processed carbs. Ever notice how even adults can go a little “mental” when they over indulge in the processed sugars? I’m adding sublingual B-12 to his stash of vitamins/minerals.

  64. @ Reijo, It is really not difficult to control saturated fats — my body tells me when I’ve had enough, believe me! One can eat a lot more carbs and sugars before the body gets the “I’ve had enough” signal through.

    Once a body is ketogenic it will up the demand for oils and fats to keep itself fueled, but, remember one is cutting the carbs to almost nil. That sickening feeling that one gets when they’ve eaten too much oil or fat is a natural stopping point. The body knows!! 🙂

  65. The first time I lived in Caracas, Venezuela, the diet consisted of black beans and chicken and some corn. When years later I went back to Caracas I noticed that people were getting fatter and I noticed that they had started putting a lot of pasta on the plate too. Just an observation.

  66. Well, I have done this diet, and it is great. My blood sugars got more in line so I didn’t have to use so much insulen. My cholestrol normalized within a few months, and so did my sky high triglycerides. I have more energy, have lost weight.

    This is much the story of anyone I have talked to who actually tried the diet. I figure, if you are healthier, and your numbers are correcting themselves, you are the study. What other scientific proof do you need.

  67. @ Doc, who raised the question about research supporting the idea that saturated fats are actually healthy: there’s at least one current researcher doing a lot of work in this area – Dr. Jeffrey Volek at the University of Connecticut. I’m sure there are others.

    Part of the issue is that, with any scientific theory, it takes quite a while before the established, widely-held theory (in this case, that following a low-fat, high-carb, moderate protein diet is the healthiest) can be overturned. Scientists are still people, and it is not easy for any us to just give up on long-held beliefs even when the contrary evidence is compelling. Read Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” for much more on this topic.

    The truth is that high-fat and even high-saturated fat eating is nothing new. Think of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Their diets were mostly made up of the animals, fish, and birds they could catch and whatever edible leafy vegetation, fibrous tubers, and fruit/nuts they happened upon. Some native peoples like the Arctic Inuit and the Masai of Africa still followed exactly this kind of diet well into the last century without suffering cardiovascular disease.

    The whole concept of planting a field of wheat or corn, harvesting it, and then milling and cooking the grain to make it digestible is only roughly 10,000 years old.

    I think the worst thing is that our modern, Western, over-processed, chemical-laden diets (including eating meat from ruminant animals who are fed processed grain instead of the grass they would eat in the wild) is leading to whole body inflammation which in turn leads to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, etc.

    Remember, all those blood test indicators such as LDL cholesterol, Lp(a), homocysteine, etc are really just markers of inflammation. They keep coming up with drugs to diminish the SIGNS of inflammation instead of treating the inflammation itself. If once a week someone punched your arm really hard and it caused an ugly bruise, would you just apply makeup to keep the bruise invisible until the next punch caused a fresh bruise, or would you try to avoid getting punched again?

  68. Hi Tim,

    I REally like this article. It really also explains the benefits and importance of eating.

    I, having a loss of appetite thing going on, due to my disease, have to force myself to eat. And fats… really are important to some people. Some people don’t realize how many dangerously medically underweight people out there, compared to obese or “medically obese”.

    Brandon

  69. Tyson: Yes. Separating out egg whites is a waste of time and money. All the good stuff is in the yolk, and I don’t just mean saturated fats and protein. The yolk contains Choline, Lutein, Omega-3, pretty much the only food source of Vitamin D, and so forth.

    Eggs are good for you, and the free-range, organic, humanely treated varieties aren’t that expensive when compared to say, grass-fed, organic beef.

    I say this as a vegan who may soon become ovo-vegetarian.

  70. The reason a high protein – high fat diet causes weightloss is because meats high in fat provide energy and mobilize stored fat in the body (glucogon at work) At the same time, with fewer meals coming from high glycemic foods, your insulin levels stay low (insulin tells the body to store fat). If you want to get really fat, add a ton of meat and fat to your dinner but combine it with a fat bowl of pasta or a lot of potatos. Or just have pasta and potatoes for every meal and wash it down with a soda.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that only a percentage of the fat in a steak is sataurated. The rest of it is polyunsturated and monounsaturated.

    It’s true that the fatty meats you get at the grocery store are hard on the planet and that’s nothing to scoff at. But grass-fed meats are healthier for you because they contain higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Corn fed CAFO meat has almost no omega 3 fatty acid.

    Omega 3 fatty acid is very important. High ratios of Omega 6 to Omega 3 have been linked to several ailments. Google that. Ideally we should be 1:1 and studies have shown that many americans are above 10:1 (omega 6 : omega 3). Any high protein, high fat diet should be supplemented with a good (seriously, just spend the extra few bucks) fish oil. Actually all diets should be supplemented with good fish oil to get that ratio closer to 1:1. It helps with pain from inflammation as well.

  71. @ Peter, RE the practice of planting and eating grains. IMHO it is a practice that is always associated with some type of feudal system: Corn is more economical and keeps the workers docile. As long as a master/slave based mindset/economy exists people will continue to be educated that grains are wonderful. The “Lords of the Manor” never lacked for meat (i.e. “game”). Ahhhh, I guess they did not know about the “Great God, Karma” 🙂 Looks to me like the movers and shakers on this planet are trying to solve a problem (for themselves) and simply creating more problems (for themselves).

    A lot of the “necessary items” we purchase are made by factory workers in China and I’m probably right to guess that the mainstay of their diet is white rice. I hope they get a lot of good fish foods in their diet, but what’s your guess that they really do?

    It beats me why the “Lords of the Manor” wanted the Irish to grow potatoes??? Potatoes are nightshade family and when I stopped eating them all my joint pains disappeared.

    I’m loving the new and energetic me on this ketogenic diet 🙂 Corresponding to this higher increase in proteins I’m also increasing my uptake of available calcium.

  72. RE vegans and meat eaters, to each his own truths.

    I think the COMMON GROUND = KETOGENIC. Both Vegans and Meat Eaters can go ketogenic.

    Hubby is an ovo/lacto vegetarian and he is going to start training his body onto a ketogenic pathway. It simply means that he will have to up his intake of oils and butters and dairy fats and egg yolks and nut butters.

  73. You know, the only medical study I’ve ever been able to find stating that trans-fats (poly unsaturated fats) were unhealthy was a single study about 6 years ago with a total group of 12 people. Split into four groups – that’s 3 people per test group.

    With such a small test group, the study had results that were pure nonsense – their confidence intervals included negative values of cholesterol in the statistics. That’s right, some people could have anti-cholesterol according to the study.

    However, because of the direction the mean went, the study broadly proclaimed that a diet high in trans-fats caused 50% higher cholesterol in subjects.

    I take most dietary things with a grain of salt these days.

  74. I’ve been following this for a while. I’ve been low carb for a couple of years and recently started the 6 week “cure” diet. I’m on day11 and feeling great! Tonight’s dinner was a nice thick pork chop with a small salad.

    RE: saturated fat, I urge all to check out Tom Naughton’s movie Fathead (http://fathead-movie.com/) it’s funny and informative and does a great job of explaining how the whole fat-phobia got started.

    RE: eggs. What you often hear is that all the protein is in the whites and only fat in the yolks. This is not true! Gram per gram there is almost as much protein in the yolk as the white! And almost all of the other nutrients are in the yolk! http://www.examiner.com/x-15820-Raleigh-Low-Carb-Examiner~y2009m7d23-Consider-the-egg

    Low carb and paleo is the way to go!

  75. @Kadavy

    Seth Roberts, a blogger who participates in the Bay Area’s Quantified Self meetup group, has detailed self-experimentation records showing radically improved balance & reflexes correlating with increased intake of healthy fats.

  76. Some what you say is true. You should take a gander at PCRM.org. The physicians committee for resposible medicine.I think the short term an all meat diet gives desires results but not long term. You don’t even use the bathroom as much as you should that let’s you know this diet will make you full of…well it.

  77. Ok I am going to do it. I stepped on the scale today and I am at my heaviest weight ever. I need to try something so I might as well try this and see how fast I can loose 20-30 pounds. If I can get down to 180 then I will be very happy.

  78. Personally, I like your bean-city diet … cause I feel full longer and beans are freakin cheap. Meat diets are nice , but you have to be a best-selling author to afford to eat grass fed beef for every meal .

    So. Eat some meat… Tim eats meat , I am gonna eat meat.

    OR… look at Oprah. She eats no meat. And she eats so-called healthy food cause she has Dr Phil and that fitness dude and about ten or twelve personal trainers. And she still looks like a cow. As a matter of fact, Dr Phil has a health book out .. and he looks like a cow too.

    So… go figure. Eat tims meat.

  79. If you were to come across a well-conducted study that contradicted this theory, would you change your mind, or are you committed to this idea?

  80. RE Constipation on an all-meat diet. Yes, I acknowledge it can be an issue. I make sure to drink plenty of water in the morn about one hour before I eat and that seems to take care of that. But, there are always dried prunes….. 🙂

    My girlfriend is on an all meat diet, but she also does Yoga exercises that get her to move the body in such a way as to assist the perstaltic action of the gut and she never has any constipation issues.

    Thirdly, one should be eating some leafy greens too, but I found that lettuces grown in a chemical laden environment actually CONTRIBUTE to constipation! Go figure!

    Happy meat eating (lamb is best!) 🙂

  81. Here in Argentina, when we eat an “asado” or bbq’d meat, it is normally accompanied by PLENTY of salads (lettuce, tomato, etc). Too starchy additions are not normally had. Perhaps the “what goes with what” is fundamental for the right digestion and metabolism of meat. Another thing that is a no no (at least for grownups) are carbonated suggary drinks. Wine is a natural accompanyment, within reason. I suspect the tannins in red wine help the metabolism/digestion of the red meats. As I mentioned before, I think that animals that are grass fed have “something” the others do not. In fact there is a work which I cannot place now, that registered higher omega 3 fatty acids in grass fed cattle and game.

  82. I say eat what you want, just don’t over stuff yourself. If you were eating 5 steaks every meal, your midsection is not going away anytime soon even if it is all saturated fats.

  83. @Karlos

    Re: regularity — once people reduce their fiber (indigestible cellulose — wood) intake, they indeed need to go to the bathroom less. That’s hardly a problem, though.

    Selling the idea that a colon crammed with bits of wood is good for us is one of the great marketing triumphs of the last thirty years. They managed to take inedible seed hulls — a waste product, good only for reprocessing into cardboard — and turn them into a foodstuff that people pay a premium for. Wow! Give that man a raise!

    And the cynically-named “physicians committee for resposible medicine” you mention (PCRM.org) is really a PETA front group.