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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 03, 2007

Confessions of a Former Lipid-Phobe

By Sara
45 Comments

Sara here. Are you a lipid-phobe? I used to be one, too. Here’s why every woman needs to lose the fear of fat!

Every friendship has That Conversation. You know, that one thing you debate ad infinitum. My best friend and I have had many a tendentious tiff over the issue of dietary fat. Like any self-respecting woman in the prime of her dieting years (translation: life span), lipids and I have had a rocky relationship. In high school and college I was firmly convinced, like most people, that fat was bad. I scarfed bagels and pasta and low-fat cookies with impunity. So did all my girlfriends. Fat was the enemy, and we were slavishly mindful of every hidden gram. I can still tell you the grammage of just about any food (and I bet you can, too).

Strangely, despite my assertive fat avoidance, I kept getting … fatter. By the time graduate school rolled around, intense migraines, mood swings, and perma-bloat were my constant companions. My friends all seemed to suffer from similar “girl” problems: IBS, bloating, migraines, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Was this really just a girl thing? To add insult to injury, I was 24 and had the complexion of a hormonal 14-year-old. I might as well have had braces to complete my chubby, pimply style. This would not do.

I worked as a health researcher and writer for Mark (this irony is not lost on me). So, I started taking a personal interest in all the health theories and studies Mark made me read anyway. Like Mark, I began to question the reigning undesirability of fat. Where did the fat loathing come from? Why, precisely, were we women so terrified of fat? Was a nibble of cheese or a splash of cream — or heaven forbid, a slab of butter — really the source of all my health woes? And, more importantly, of my frumpalump figure? The research indicated otherwise. Not only is fat perfectly healthy, it doesn’t make you fat. Thanks, Susan Powter. Thanks a lot.

I immediately made sweeping changes to my diet. I began living on a deliciously greasy menu of green vegetables, salads and fish — greasy because these vittles were smothered in all the eggs, butter, cream, nuts, and cheese I could possibly want. After working out, I drank half-and-half from the carton. I soaked my veggies in walnut oil. I dunked figs in mascarpone and ate criminal amounts of avocados. To my utter glee, I began to feel wonderful. I also cut out refined carbohydrates and grains, save for brown rice, legumes and yams. This wasn’t Atkins (I’m all about the greens), but it was certainly flying in the face of conventional nutritional wisdom.

Very strange things happened. Within a few months I had dropped 20 pounds. It happened so fast, I actually got sick of buying new clothes. I wish I could say this was all just a matter of a grown woman losing her baby fat, but I had been skinny as a girl. Rather, I lost my fear-of-fat fat.

My girlfriends were skeptical until…

To read the rest of the story, click here!

This is your editor! Hi!

And this is my fridge, right now. (Apologies to the 99% of the world that can take better pictures than I can.)

Today being Friday my resources are running a bit low because I go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays and the local organic grocer for meats and fish on Tuesdays. But as you can see, there’s Kerrygold butter (great stuff that reader Crystal got me hooked on), herbed goat cheese, wild smoked salmon, assorted dark chocolates, berries, celery, grapes, Omega-3 eggs, half-and-half, miniature bell peppers, and greens. I also have a cabinet full of all kinds of exotic oils, nuts, vinegars and fun stuff like my neighbor’s canned homegrown jalapenos (they’re either fire-hot, or realllly mild, and you never know which ’til you bite!).

I usually eat eggs with veggies, or buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes and fresh herbs, for breakfast. And for lunch, I enjoy a gigantic salad with fish or tempeh (sometimes chicken). Dinner is usually a big vegetable affair drowning in tasty, fattening sauces made with butter or oil, plus the occasional portion of fish or my now-famous seared lamb chops. (I also like to bake a whole batch of chicken with different veggies at the beginning of the week if I know I’m going to be pressed for time.) I snack daily on either half an avocado or several ounces of nuts, and cheese really doesn’t stand a chance around me. Another favorite snack is to lop the tops off those mini bells and use them to scoop the goat cheese. My “vices” are dark chocolate, the aforementioned cheese, and imported beer, but I don’t think those are really so bad in small quantities. If I’m out and about and there isn’t an “ideal” food available, I choose the smartest thing possible – e.g. a small serving of chicken wings instead of nachos or pizza if I’m out with pals. While I’m not militant – if I’m over to someone’s house and they’ve taken the time to make a meal, I’m not about to be picky, and ditto for the occasional chic restaurant – I generally avoid all carbs and I eat fat like it’s going out of business. All told, I usually end up consuming between 600 and 700 of my daily calories from fat. I sure suffer on this 40 to 50% fat “diet”. Yep, some days I just really miss those 20 pounds and weekly migraines. Oh, well. 😉

What’s in your fridge?

Further reading:

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45 Comments on "Confessions of a Former Lipid-Phobe"

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Oxybeles
Oxybeles
9 years 1 month ago

Do you offer a Refrigerator Organizing and Cleaning Service? 😉

Crystal
Crystal
9 years 1 month ago

Nice to see you, Sara. We have the same hair. Glad you like the Irish butter. It’ll keep our hair red “wink”. I noticed that you keep damage control in the fridge. Are we suppossed to do that?
After seeing Mark’s salad, I cleaned out my fridge and put the vegetables front and center. What I need is a bigger fridge. I have a lot of greek-style yogurt(fage), 4 boxes of grass-fed eggs. These are hard to find so I load up.

Donna
Donna
9 years 1 month ago

Hey Sara,
Great Picture, You’re Just Beautiful! Thanks For Sharing Your Photo! My Hair Is Not Red Like Yours, But My Refrigerator Is Like Yours, Health Food! B.T.W. Sara, Very Nice Pic. Of Your Fridge. I Keep My Damage Control Master Formula On My Computer Desk Checking E Mails W/ A Cup Of Coffee! I’m Always At My Computer Rather Than The T.V! HAVE A NICE WEEKEND SARA, I’ll Be Boat Riding And BIG Fishing This WeekEnd. I’ve Got To Catch A HUGE Bass, I’m Determined!

Crystal, Do You Have Beautiful Red Hair Too?

Donna
Donna
9 years 1 month ago

Sara,
You’re Pic. Is Setting An Example For Others NOT To Be Afraid Of Fat- Just Look At You How Nice And Lean You Are- You Are NOT Fat, You’re Looking GooooD Sara!!!:)

BillyHW
BillyHW
9 years 1 month ago

I was 24 and had the complexion of a hormonal 14-year-old.

Amen. After going low-carb my acne cleared up 90%, and whenever I cheat and splurge on carbs, I breakout again.

BillyHW
BillyHW
9 years 1 month ago

This wasn’t Atkins (I’m all about the greens)

It actually sounds a lot like Atkins. Dr. Atkin’s *New* Diet Revolution allows for plenty of greens and other veggies. Not sure about the original 1972 Atkins though.

But it’s a common misconception that Atkin’s is low in green vegies, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Brian
Brian
9 years 1 month ago
Well, I know this post was mostly directed at all those ‘gals’ -that someone in the know, a ‘gal’ herself, recently told me are so prevalent on the internet blog sites. But, even as a guy, the second half of the article clicked – since I thankfully I had no clue about things mentioned in the first part – although great word usage ‘tendentious’… Anyway, I follow very similar eating habits as you Sara, and people are always surprised when I tell them what and how much I eat. Just the other day, I was checking out at the grocery… Read more »
Sonagi
Sonagi
9 years 1 month ago
Thanks for sharing a photo of yourself, Sara. It’s nice to put a face to a name. Is that half and half made from pasteurized, homogenized milk, Sara? Say it ain’t so! I happen to have a stick of Irish Kerrygold butter in my fridge, too. Hormone-free European dairy is an affordable and more delicious alternative to US organic. So what’s in my fridge: ice tea, eggs, butter, almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, tofu, cooked amaranth, cooked tuna, lettuce, cucumbers, Chinese cabbage, purple cabbage, Swiss chard, sweet peppers, carrots, summer squash, rasberries, blueberries, blackberries,… Read more »
BillyHW
BillyHW
9 years 1 month ago

And yes, anytime I’ve cheated and splurged on something like pasta or dessert, I immediately breakout, get sick, etc. So I don’t splurge very often!

It’s great motivation to stay on plan, knowing that the french fries or ice cream that are tempting you come at the price of a big fat ugly pimple in the middle of your forehead!

🙂

Crystal
Crystal
9 years 1 month ago
Sara~I’m embarressed to say, I lived on cold cereal and potatoes most of my college years. I wish I knew then what I know now. Storing nuts in the fridge or freezer will help prevent them from turning rancid. But, even in the freezer, they will go bad, eventually. If they are eaten on a regular basis, I wouldn’t worry about it. If they have been sitting around in the pantry for a year, toss them out. I get a little tired of people asking me if I only eat meat/fat. “Yep, bacon, that’s it, just bacon.” **Sara, you’re not… Read more »
Sara
9 years 1 month ago

Crystal, been there too. 🙁 I lived on pasta, burritos, sandwiches, toast, etc etc. And nagged my parents to do likewise!

Thanks for the info on the nuts/rancidity. They never last long enough for that to happen! 🙂

Bradford
Bradford
9 years 1 month ago

Fridge:

12 Pack of Tecate light (yeah light. yeah)
Frozen Cherries
Frozen Blueberries
Some black/brown stuff half wrapped in foil
Cole slaw
Month old Panda Express
8 Cans of film

Coincidentally, you can mix the first five ingredients together into a fun party shake.

Bradford
Bradford
9 years 1 month ago

PS- Yeah, I know, I’m going to have to realize I’m not in college anymore at some point. Nice fridge, Sara, I’ve got fridge envy.

Sonagi
Sonagi
9 years 1 month ago
RE: nuts and seeds Most nutrition guides strongly recommend storing nuts in the fridge or freezer, especially if they’re shelled. I read somewhere that freezing destroys vitamin E, a key nutrient in nuts and seeds, so I don’t freeze them. The local health food store keeps their shelled sunflower and pumpkin seeds refrigerated, and that’s how I store mine. I can see a difference in color between my refrigerated seeds that I’ve had three months and the shelf-stocked plastic containers in the grocery store. The color of unrefrigerated shelled nuts and seeds is more mottled and oily looking. If you… Read more »
Sonagi
Sonagi
9 years 1 month ago
“Truth be told I would prefer to be a vegetarian for ethical/environmental reasons,” Paleo diet advocates and authors of The Garden of Eating Don and Rachel Matesz explain in their book that the grasslands of the midwest are better suited to raising livestock than to growing crops. The grasses that feed buffalo, deer, and other wildlife prevent soil erosion, require no energy input for maintenance, and do not deplete soil nutrients, unlike the endless miles of cornfields and soybean fields that stretch from Indiana to Iowa. I used to live in Illinois, and on road trips, I would turn up… Read more »
Walter Pittman
Walter Pittman
9 years 1 month ago
Walter Pittman: Sounds like a tasty diet, but whenever I eat more than 300-400 calories of fat a day, I GAIN weight. I’m a guy, but I’ll bet there are women for whom this is true also. I eat low fat but with almost no junk carbs, and I’m 8-9% body fat (and fairly muscular). Frankly, I’d worry about all the animal fat you’re eating. Not because of the saturated fat, but because of the dioxins, PCB’s and other organochlorine poisons that they contain. We’ve screwed our environment so badly that our ocean fish are contaminated with mercury and our… Read more »
Crabby McSlacker
9 years 1 month ago

Great article Sara!

However, I clicked on some link for the “rest of the story,” commented, and only afterwards realized I was at a different site. Calorie Lab? Looks interesting, but… wait, where am I? Didn’t I start off at Marks Daily Apple?

So other than to say nice job, I won’t repeat myself here!

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[…] other day our editor, Sara, shared a picture of the contents of her fridge and asked you to share yours. Bradford noted that his fridge […]

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[…] I’m not talking about our editor’s love of lipids (although I’m all for that – I’m a big fan of plenty of dietary fat). I’m talking […]

Jaime
9 years 1 month ago
Sara, thanks for an inspiring article! I’ve been dealing with IBS for a few years, and find that fatty meals can make it a lot worse, but maybe it’s time to do some experimenting and see what’s what. I’m intrigued by your assertion that this way of eating is actually cheaper – I feel like I’m often balancing my desire to live on fresh, whole foods with the simple facts of not making enough money. The vegetables that go into a big delicious salad seem so much pricier than what it takes to make some rice & beans or a… Read more »
Tom Orlando
Tom Orlando
9 years 1 month ago
There is too much to tell, so I’ll cut it down. I’m 71 and vegetarian for a critical health reason. I am the same weight I was in college (about 155) and only gained a little from when I ate meat (and was under corporate stress.) My health cure came when I got colon cancer in/on one of the many polyps I grew every year. Coincidentally, I turned vegetarian after the cancer operation, and, a couple years after, I realized I wasn’t getting any more polyps. Then at an annual exam, an oncologist told my wife and I that the… Read more »
trackback

[…] Fats vs. Carbs argument is another. So when a reader recently asked about regular fasting as a means of […]

trackback
9 years 18 days ago
[…] Confessions of a Former Lipid-Phobe I immediately made sweeping changes to my diet. I began living on a deliciously greasy menu of green vegetables, salads and fish — greasy because these vittles were smothered in all the eggs, butter, cream, nuts, and cheese I could possibly want. After working out, I drank half-and-half from the carton. I soaked my veggies in walnut oil. I dunked figs in mascarpone and ate criminal amounts of avocados. To my utter glee, I began to feel wonderful. I also cut out refined carbohydrates and grains, save for brown rice, legumes and yams. This… Read more »
trackback

[…] all know I’m a dietary fat fanatic. I eat lots of fat, but I also take Mark’s fish oil pills – usually a double-dose, in fact. I […]

Daniel
Daniel
8 years 11 months ago
While I agree with the article I don’t agree with the wrong belief that fat doesn’t make you fat and only sugar does. The truth is that all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) have fat-storage mechanisms activated by the body when there’s an excess of calories. In the specific it’s the adipocyteous protein ASP that turns dietary fat into stored body fat. So the bottom line is that if you eat 600 calories of pure white sugar you LOSE WEIGHT no matter what and if you eat 6000 calories of pure butter you GAIN WEIGHT no matter what. The… Read more »
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[…] Another Sisson favorite, and something we all follow ’round these parts. For me personally, eating more fat and supplementing with Mark’s Vital Omegas has helped me to banish my migraines, manage my health, and simply feel more alert. I actually take a double-dose of the Vitals almost daily. If you haven’t read about how I went from flabby and sick to sleek and healthy, check out my story. […]

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[…] like garlic, sea salt, herbs, and good stock – can fool your mouth pretty easily. Now that we know fat isn’t bad for us, be generous with the olive oil or butter and you’ll satisfy your body’s […]

Sera
8 years 9 months ago

Sara,

What a great article! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read it and re-read it. It’s really inspiring. 🙂

I have a question for you. I’m working on tweaking my diet at the moment to make it healthier (I’m doing Atkins induction right now) since recently my metabolism seemed VERY sensitive to carbs. I’m curious to know how you budget your dark chocolate/starchy carb intake because it really breaks my heart to think I can’t evenr have chocolate and winter squash again if I want to keep my waist!

Thanks a bunch in advance. 🙂

trackback

[…] deal of oil that way. I’m going to guess at 3 tablespoons. I’m also of the school of thought (well backed-up by research, btw) that fat is not, in and of itself, bad for you, so don’t be alarmed by the high […]

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[…] deal of oil that way. I’m going to guess at 3 tablespoons. I’m also of the school of thought (well backed-up by research, btw) that fat is not, in and of itself, bad for you, so don’t be alarmed by the high […]

trackback

[…] deal of oil that way. I’m going to guess at 3 tablespoons. I’m also of the school of thought (well backed-up by research, btw) that fat is not, in and of itself, bad for you, so don’t be alarmed by the high […]

trackback

[…] deal of oil that way. I’m going to guess at 3 tablespoons. I’m also of the school of thought (well backed-up by research, btw) that fat is not, in and of itself, bad for you, so don’t be alarmed by the high […]

trackback

[…] The Fats vs. Carbs argument is another. So when a reader recently asked about regular fasting as a means of maintaining good health, I had to re-evaluate my point of view slightly. What I found surprised me and convinced me to add a new twist to my ongoing health-and-anti-aging regimen. It’s called Intermittent Fasting – or IF. […]

trackback

[…] Fats vs. Carbs argument is another. So when a reader recently asked about regular fasting as a means of […]

trackback

[…] deal of oil that way. I’m going to guess at 3 tablespoons. I’m also of the school of thought (well backed-up by research, btw) that fat is not, in and of itself, bad for you, so don’t be alarmed by the high […]

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