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High Fat and Healthy: The Maasai Keep on Walking

Reader Peter emailed this new study [1] today after he saw a discussion in which I was participating on Rusty’s site (fitnessblackbook.com [2]) regarding the Maasai diet. Investigators in this new study suggested that one reason that the Maasai (African nomadic cattle farmers) have lower rates of heart disease, despite a high fat diet, is the amount of low-level aerobic activity they do on a daily basis. Many of you will recognize this as rule #2 of the Primal Blueprint [3], “Move around a lot at a slow pace.” Seems the Maasai take that to the extreme, burning 2500 calories a day in excess of their basal metabolic rate by walking. The fact that they have a fairly low carbohydrate intake simply reaffirms that most of their energy demands are coming from the high amount of animal fat in their diets – and that at low level aerobic activity carbs are simply not necessary. Don’t think that doesn’t mean they can’t sprint occasionally or lift heavy things though (Blueprint’s 3 and 4), because we know they are able to produce enough glycogen each day from this same high-fat, moderate protein diet to fuel those all-out short bursts.

Finally, while the researchers claim it’s the exercise that prevents the heart disease, they approached it from the typical “high fat diets generally increase CHD risk” POV, which we all know to be an erroneous old Conventional Wisdom assumption. A high fat diet doesn’t actually increase risk of heart disease or death unless it’s also accompanied by relatively high carbohydrates and, hence, insulin.

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Primal Blueprint for Both Men and Women? [4]

10 Ways to “Get Primal” [5]

Chronic Cardio Talk [6]