Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Jul

The Definitive Guide to Saturated Fat

It’s probably the one thing that prevents people from fully buying into the Primal Blueprint. Almost anyone can agree with the basic tenets – eating more vegetables, choosing only clean, organic meats, and getting plenty of sleep and exercise is fairly acceptable to the mainstream notion of good nutrition. The concept of Grok and a lifestyle based on evolutionary biology can be a harder sell, but anyone who’s familiar with (and accepts) the basics of human evolution tends to agree (whether they follow through and adopt the lifestyle is another question), at least intellectually. But saturated fat? People have this weird conditioned response to the very phrase.

“But what about all that saturated fat? Aren’t you worried about clogging up your arteries?”

In fact, “saturated fat” isn’t just that; it’s often “artery-clogging saturated fat.” Hell, a Google search for that exact phrase in quotations produces 4,490 entries (soon to be 4,491, I suppose). Most doctors toe the company line and roundly condemn it, while the media generally follows suit. The public, unsurprisingly, laps it up from birth. The result is a deeply ingrained systemic assumption that saturated fat is evil, bad, dangerous, and sinful, a preconceived notion that precludes any meaningful dialogue from taking place. Everyone “knows” that saturated fat clogs your arteries – that’s treated as a given – and attempting to even question that assumption gets you lumped in the crazy category. After all, if you start from such a “fundamentally incorrect position,” how can the rest of your argument be trusted? Thus, talk of the superior cardiovascular health of the Tokelau (with their 50% dietary saturated fat intake) or the Masai (with their diet of meat, blood, and milk) or the Inuit (with their ancestral diet of high-blubber animals) is all disregarded or ignored. If they even deign to listen to the facts, they’ll acknowledge the existence of healthy populations eating tons of saturated fat while muttering something about “genetic adaptation” or “statistical outliers.” It’s all hogwash, and it’s infuriating, especially when there’s so much literature refuting the saturated fat hypothesis. If you’re interested in more information on these three oft-cited high-saturated fat groups, check out Stephan’s entries on the Tokelau, the Masai, and the Inuit.

It all started, of course, with the infamous Ancel Keys and his Seven Countries Study, which tracked the fat consumption and heart disease levels of various nations. It was named for the seven countries that saw an increase in heart disease cases correspond with increased fat consumption, but it should have been named the Twenty Two Countries Study for all the data he omitted. Data, I should mention, that demolished his hypothesis of fat intake causing heart disease. The original paper noting Keys’ omissions was largely ignored and is tough to track down, but Peter over at Hyperlipid had access to it and shows the original graph with all the nation data included (with the Masai, Inuit, and Tokelau thrown in for fun represented by the red dots).

Try drawing a straight line through those data points… I dare you! As you can see, there is a faint, weak correlation between fat intake and heart disease, but it’s just that: a correlation. It shouldn’t confirm anything except the need to run controlled experiments to directly measure the effects of dietary fat. Unfortunately, that correlation was enough to get Keys the front cover of Time and widespread acclaim as the father of dietary science. His hypothesis gained traction in the scientific community and mainstream CW, a position it has never really relinquished. Subsequent controlled experiments to measure the effects of saturated fat have been either inconclusive, poorly designed, or completely unsupportive of the saturated fat-is-evil hypothesis, but because the starting point assumes it to be true, those inconclusive or unsupportive results become aberrations while the poorly designed studies become canon. Meanwhile, Keys’ peer, British scientist John Yudkin, was finding even more compelling connections between dietary sugar and heart disease, but his ideas gained no traction and garnered no significant follow up experimental studies. Keys got the cover of Time and heaps of public adulation; Yudkin was relegated to publishing now-out-of-print books, writing letters to scientific journals (PDF) that were only ignored, and languishing in relative obscurity. Americans, as you can guess, got the real shaft. I suspect I’m getting a little off track here, so I’ll just point people toward Good Calories, Bad Calories for a full discussion of the Yudkin-Keys issue.

For a quick summary of the Ancel Keys debacle to send to friends and family worried about your saturated fat intake (who might not be interested in reading a blog post), check out this quick clip from Fat Head.

What is Saturated Fat, Exactly?

Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are referred to as saturated because all available carbon bonds are tied up with a hydrogen atom. That is, there are no openings for rancidity or spoilage, whereas a polyunsaturated fatty acid containing two or more pairs of double bonds without hydrogen atoms occupying the open space is wide open for oxidation. SFAs are shelf-stable, resistant to heat damage, and essential to many bodily functions. Roughly half of our cell membrane structure is composed of saturated fat, and saturated animal fats, like butter or fatty organ meats, contain huge amounts of essential fat-soluble vitamins (K2, A, D, among others). (Sure, you could just take them in capsule or liquid form, but the very fact that these (universally praised) vitamins naturally occur in evil saturated fat indicates that maybe, just maybe it’s not so evil after all. Researchers were particularly dumbfounded at one study (PDF) indicating high-saturated-fat fermented cheeses containing large amounts of Vitamin K2 actually reduced cardiovascular mortality, but they soon came to their senses and recommended opting for supplements rather than real food. Ridiculous.)

Saturated fat is also a fantastic source of energy, at least if you trust your body to make the right decision – otherwise, why else would we store excess carbohydrates as saturated body fat? In fact, when we burn body fat for energy, either through exercise or through dieting, we are quite literally consuming huge amounts of saturated (and monounsaturated) fat. Body fat is energy to be used for later; dietary fat is energy to be used immediately. Whether you’re burning through your stores of adipose tissue or downing flagons of warm ghee, all that fat goes through the same processes in your body to be converted to energy. Burn your ass flab, take a bite of fatty rib-eye – it doesn’t matter. Your body treats that fat the same way. As Richard and Tom have said before, losing weight is like eating pure lard, which has nearly the same fatty acid composition as human adipose tissue. To vilify saturated fat is to assume that, over the span of our evolution, our bodies have somehow developed a predilection for a deleterious energy source that contributes to cardiovascular disease. That’s absolutely preposterous, unless Darwin and company somehow got it all wrong with the whole natural selection thing. Somehow, I’m leaning toward trusting the millions of years old case study known as evolution.

Where Do They Get Off, Anyway?

Since Keys has been thoroughly discredited (not if you ask most people with any real say in the matter) and there are plenty of examples of groups eating a high saturated fat diet and retaining optimum cardiovascular health (“Those are just outliers!”), how does the outcry against saturated fat continue unabated? Well, it all starts with cholesterol, yet another vilified substance that our bodies naturally produce because, well, it’s completely essential to proper bodily function (though if you listen to the experts, our bodies are suicidal entities who can’t be trusted to do the right thing). Elevated cholesterol has long been fingered as a player in cardiovascular disease, and saturated fat has been shown to increase cholesterol levels, so saturated fat is therefore to be avoided. Sounds relatively sound. So high total cholesterol levels are bad, right? Not so fast.

As I detailed in my last big post on cholesterol, total cholesterol doesn’t tell the entire story, and it doesn’t even necessarily indicate risk for cardiovascular disease. Just take a look at the graph plotting global total cholesterol versus cardiovascular disease. There’s absolutely no positive correlation, and there may even be a negative correlation. Far more likely is that there’s no connection at all.

Nowadays, most “experts” will agree that total cholesterol isn’t everything; they instead move the goalposts and focus on LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” which is increased by eating saturated fat. Eating more saturated fat does seem to increase serum LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in certain cases, but it also increases HDL (“good” cholesterol). Okay, so saturated fat increases LDL, which is “bad.” So global levels of saturated fat intake should predict cardiovascular disease, right? It doesn’t seem to pan out that way. Do you see a correlation? I don’t.

Oh, but saturated fat increases triglycerides, they say, which – even I agree – are a good marker for poor heart health. Except that it doesn’t. Carbohydrate intake increases triglycerides, not saturated fat intake. This is either a blatant lie, or it’s willful ignorance. Maybe even both. Either way, the end result is a continuation of the saturated fat vilification. The average person will go to, read the headline, and skip ahead to the meat: “…eating lots of saturated fat can all add up to higher triglyceride levels.”

As far as heart disease goes, I still have yet to hear a workable process by which saturated fat contributes to it. It increases LDL, but the LDL it increases is large, fluffy, and almost impossible to oxidize. The layman’s notion of saturated fat literally clogging up the arteries like grease in a drain isn’t taken seriously by researchers anymore (who know it’s really all about inflammation and oxidized LDL), but it’s still the most prevalent explanation for why saturated fat is so bad. We now know that the HDL/triglyceride ratio is far more predictive of cardiovascular events than LDL, but still LDL gets all the attention. The “alternative hypothesis” (which is really the one that makes the most sense) focuses more on oxidized polyunsaturated fats and imbalanced Omega-6/Omega-3 ratios rather than saturated fat intake, which (as is pretty obvious by now) doesn’t matter one way or the other. The observational data doesn’t add up, the actual physiological process can’t be explained, and the body seems to prefer saturated fat. I have to ask… if we know that arteries don’t “clog up” from concentrated fatty acids in the blood like bad plumbing and that SFAs aren’t prone to oxidation, just what is the issue with saturated fat and heart health?

They’ve also tried connecting saturated fat intake with various forms of cancer. Breast, colon, pancreatic – you name the cancer, researchers have probably warned against saturated fat intake as a risk factor for it. But every study that suggests a link between saturated fat and cancer is purely observational. These aren’t controlled studies, folks – these are often studies in which dietary information is gleaned from questionnaires asking people about their dietary habits for the last five years. The subjects are often elderly or middle-aged, people busy with life and all its stresses… and they’re expected to remember their exact dietary habits for the past five years? Give me a break. And even if every one of the subjects were to recall their eating with perfect accuracy, what does a correlation with pick-your-cancer really tell us? It tells us that the Standard American Diet, with its massive amounts of grains, sugar, starches, margarines, vegetable oils, and yes, some red meat and artery-clogging saturated fat, is bad for us. The researchers may try to seize on a single aspect of the diet (usually saturated fat), but that only tells us that saturated fat has a bad reputation. Is it deserved? We certainly can’t draw any conclusions from an observational study confounded by dozens of other variables. And yet still the crazy headlines jump out from all angles: “Saturated Fat Linked To Pancreatic Cancer!”; “Colon Cancer And Red Meat: Is Your Burger Killing You?” I think I did a decent job disassembling the latest red meat (read: saturated fat) scare study, as did Dr. Eades.

What About Cordain’s Stance on Saturated Fat?

Although he’s softened his stance a bit recently, Loren Cordain still maintains that saturated fat never formed a significant portion of the Paleolithic diet. He even suggests that because it increases LDL, saturated fat does play some role in cardiovascular disease. While we’re all in debt for Dr. Cordain’s impressive work cataloguing the possible diet of Grok and highlighting the dangers of grains, legumes, and sugars, I believe it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s got it wrong with his (albeit tempered as of late) condemnation of saturated fat.

To begin with, man has a taste for fat. It’s delicious, and that’s no mistake. Given the choice between a lean chicken breast and a fatty, crispy thigh, most people instinctively go for the thigh. Social anti-fat conditioning might direct a few of us toward the dry breast, but fatty cuts just taste better. I think even Cordain would agree that Grok would opt for the fatty cuts first; where we differ is in our opinion of Grok’s access to such fatty cuts. Cordain believes the fatty acid composition of ancient game was mostly monounsaturated, while I doubt it was so clear cut. According to the WAPF’s Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, the fatty acid composition of wild game available to native Americans varied, with the most prized sources of fat (kidneys) being primarily saturated. In fact, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, hallowed purveyor of pemmican and admirer of the high-fat Inuit diet, spent considerable time with the northern native Americans and noted that they seemed to “hunt animals selectively.” They would specifically pass on the tender calves and go for the older caribou, the ones with huge slabs of back fat that could be rendered and stored. This caribou fat was about 50% saturated. These are more modern animals, but they’re still wild, and I don’t see how the large animals being consumed by Grok would have inexplicably been low in saturated fat.

Cordain himself allows that most (73%) pre-agrarian hunter-gatherers got more than 50% of their calories from animal foods (with some going as high as 70%), and he figures that wild African ruminant fatty acid composition (a basic model for Grok’s game) was similar to that of pasture-raised cattle. I eat a lot of 100% grass-fed steak, and I will tell you: there is a fair amount of fat on certain cuts, including organs. It’s leaner than grain-fed, but not by much. Plus, when you consider that hunter-gatherers (Grok and modern alike) use the entire animal, especially the fatty organs, it becomes clear that saturated fat was consumed in relatively large amounts by many groups of paleo-era humans. Maybe not all of them, but it certainly wasn’t unheard of.

The justification for the anti-saturated fat campaign that has raged on for half a century is largely baseless. Even if saturated fat does increase (large, fluffy) LDL, it increases protective HDL right along with it, and cardiovascular mortality has never been explicitly demonstrated to increase with saturated fat intake. Several studies have been attempted and – though their results were inconclusive – supporters repeatedly cite them as evidence for the connection. The Finnish Mental Hospital study, which the saturated fat critics tend to hang their hats on, has been discredited for its poor control. Most analysis of the Lyon Diet Heart study focuses on the low levels of saturated fat, while the real benefits came from an improved Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio. If you’re interested in more breakdowns of the saturated fat studies, just visit Whole Health Source (or Hyperlipid, or Free the Animal, or any of the many Primal friendly blogs on the interwebs). One of the most important things we can do is band together to undermine the dangerous, counterproductive CW. We may have truth and science on our side, but – as the past hundred years of nutrition research have shown – it isn’t always enough.

I’d love to hear you thoughts, so hit me up with a comment. As a side note, due to the length of this post I almost made it a two-parter. What do you think? Are you okay with the length or would you have preferred receiving this article divided up into more manageable sizes?

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Ok, Where I’m a little lost is where to monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats come from. Say I take a chunk of fat form a 100% grass fed steak or a slab of bacon is that all saturated fat or a mixture? How bout I eat an avacado, or some olive oil what kind of fat is that?
    Maybe someone can explain this or link me to somewhere that does. Thanks.

    Rafiki wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • A good guide (if somewhat simplified) is “is the fat a solid or liquid at room temperature?” Liquid fats (vegetable oils) tend to be polyunsaturated, while fats with higher melting points (animal fats) tend to be saturated or monounsaturated. Hydrogenation of vegetable fats (removing some or all of the unsaturated spots) is what makes margarine solid at room temperature.

      Most nut oils tend to be monounsaturated, I believe.

      gcb wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Short answer: it’s usually a mixture.

      However, mammals tend to store spare calories and pack on insulation as saturated fat, so a lot of lard, tallow, etc. will be saturated.

      Seriously, google is your friend when it comes down to specific fat balances for a particular food. And you’ll need to be precise. Pasture-raised beef has less fat and much less Omega-6’s than CAFO (unethical) beef, but about the same amount of Omega-3’s.

      Ross wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • You can easily check for yourself here:

      For example, 1 cup of lard contains:
      saturated: 80.360 grams
      monounsaturated: 92.455 grams
      polyunsaturated: 22.960 grams

      jpschorr wrote on July 23rd, 2009
      • Coconut Oil is 92% Saturated Fat.

        Issabeau wrote on January 29th, 2012
        • Coconut oil clogs my blood vessels…can’t have it. Olive oil is not too good also for me. I can’t have Flax…80% of people may not convert it into what is in fish oil. Heated oils make free radicals in me. Rancid fat hurts me. Raw walnuts help my brain (open shells to avoid hidden gluten and freeze so fresh). Fish oil hurt me when my thyroid was too low…body was going too slow to use it? Evening primrose oil/krill oil/lecithin/phosphatidylserine/DMAE/CLA/Fish oil help my MS daily along with no gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO…taking vitamins/good oils/minerals/probiotic/LDN..detoxing.

          Shasha wrote on July 20th, 2016
    • Barry Groves’s article “Fats and Oils: The Siginifance of Termperature” will clear it up for you ….

      Ken Benjamin wrote on November 20th, 2009
    • Mark mentioned Mary Enig, Phd, and Sally Fallon. They have a great article that really helped me understand the answer to this question. It’s called “The Skinny on Fats”. Here’s the link:

      David wrote on July 16th, 2011
    • I recently started a new chiroproactor and when he told me that our saturated fats was what we need to be eating instead of what we hear we should eat I thought he had lost his mind. After he explained it to me it really made sense. Your blog has confirmed everything he was telling me. Thank you! Now I know why eating a so called low fat diet helped get me up to 400 pounds. I had weight lose surgery and I am at 245 now. Knowing what I know now is going to help me get down to a healthy weight and body. Thanks again for all your research. More people need to read up on this stuff!

      Marcella May wrote on October 16th, 2011
  2. I have eaten a large amount of high quality fats even since I was a young kid. I have a resting heart rate in the 50’s and low blood pressure. When I eat bread or pasta it feels like I just had a cup of coffee, its a buzz and not natural at all. I love your blog and plan on buying your book, primal outdoor living and real eating is in my opinion the clearest path to a happy life. GREAT POST! Also high intake of saturated fat (quality fats) seems to correlate with lower lpa levels, and organic veg with enzymes do the rest, its so easy!

    Primal wonder wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Primal wonder, good to hear that you listen to your body’s signals.

      I love the taste of a good fresh baked breads. However, even as a child I did not like how a bread turned to a gagging soft mush with chewing and how it made me feel shortly after swallowing. Oranges and strawberries, fresh or juiced, I did not like as they ‘hurt my tummy’ though I loved lemonade and raspberries, which seemed far more acidic yet did not cause problems.

      Strangely, most of the avoid foods on Dr D’adamo’s book, Eat Right For Your Type (I’m an O) were foods I never liked, usually avoided or ate because I had been told they were good for me. Brussels sprouts comes to mind. Oddly, I am drawn to avocado fruits and on the occasion I actually buy them, most are left to go brown even though I do not recognise any sense of ill in trying them.

      Learning to listen to our body-signals is very important in the pursuit of better health.

      mhikl wrote on October 17th, 2013
  3. That certainly was definitive!

    Thanks for taking another swing at CW. This is the same kind of “science” that is driving our leaders to try and implement a cap and trade system for greenhouse gases which will have disasterous consequences for our economy. When will we ever learn.

    Dave wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  4. Rafiki I know avocado and olive oil, along with nuts, have good amounts of monounsaturated fats, but I don’t know the mix of fats or why.

    The article is quite long, but I think this is an important issue. Especially since MDA-ers are even discussing this amongst themselves in the forums. It’s nice to have one good article when it comes to these “meatier” subjects (pun intended :)

    hannahc wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  5. This is a very interesting post.

    I think the true media bias, (and it is bias) against saturated fats is really aimed at hydrogenated oils, which generally have a different C-chain length then the naturally occuring saturated fats.

    As far as saturated fats in animals goes, I can tell you from my experience harvesting (and slaughtering) wild game like venison and elk are very lean meats, with saturated fat layered between muscle and organs. By comparison, cattle have fat marbled throughout the muscle tissue. This is the reason beef is more tender than most wild game.

    Greg at Live Fit wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  6. i just don’t understand why saturated fats are so condemned. If they aren’t bad for you, what’s the big deal? Perhaps it’s the sfa from packaged foods and processed things that are causing cardiovascular disease. sfa’s that are naturally occurring such as from animals can’t be bad right?….we’ve survived, and have been healthy overall with them, for thousands of years.

    Vivian wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • They are condemned because the original studies that implicated saturated fats implicated solid fats (which included both saturated fats and synthetic trans fats). Nobody ever bothered to separate the data because they were considered equivalent.

      Now that we now how horrific a franken-food partially hydrogenized fats are, we should redo many of the studies. Unfortunately, that costs money and most of those with research money see no issue with saturated fats being demonized. It’s just not on their radar.

      Ross wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • SFA’s are condemned because they come mostly from animals and so are much lower profit than vegetable oils which come from grains. Higher profits make wealthy people who get to buy influence in Washington.

      Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil are also high in SFA’s, but since they are imported, the reason is the same.

      David wrote on July 16th, 2011
    • It’s actually more likely to be the polyunsaturated oils, the trans fats, the grains, and the sugars that are causing heart disease. Saturated fats are *needed* in the body. Among other things, they contribute much of the material to your cell membranes.

      Dana wrote on July 16th, 2011
    • Don’t under-estimate the power of the sugar lobby. Not trying to be a ‘conspiracy theorist’… there are always vested interests in these things.

      Most of the ‘longer shelf life’ of our modern (processed) foods, the bulking agents for many carb-based foods as well as the ‘replacement’ for ‘fat’ in low-fat varients of naturally high-fat foods (e.g. cheese, yoghurt etc.) is done with sugar. Now why would they want you to go back to eating high fat food when it represents such a loss of income? No, ‘fat is baaaad for you… try our low-far (sugar-packed) variant instead!’.

      When people dismiss the obvious truth, always ask yourself: who stands to benefit?

      Noxy wrote on March 19th, 2012
      • When wondering why we are eating thewrong foods, or given the wrong information….. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

        Roy Walker wrote on January 4th, 2015
    • I’m think the ldl combined with chroncly high insulin causes ldl to stick to artery walls.

      matt wrote on October 2nd, 2012
  7. Rafiki:
    Rarely do you find a food that’s all one thing or the other. Most fats in food are a mixture of saturated, mono, and poly. The monounsaturated fat that makes up the bulk of olive and avocado is oleic acid, which is also the monounsaturated fatty acid that makes up most of that component in lard, and in your body fat (as Mark mentioned in the article). Olive and avocado tend to be about 15/70/15% breakdown amongst sat/mono/poly. Saturated fat in your body tends to be palmitic acid.
    Even coconut oil, which is widely reputed to be all saturated fat, is actually 92% saturated fats (of various lengths, including medium chain fatty acids), 6% monounsaturated (again oleic), and 2% linoleic acid (the primary omega-6 fat in our diet).

    Even lard is only around 40% saturated fat, with 50% made up of oleic acid and a bit of palmitoleic acid, and 10% of poly.

    The polyunsaturated fraction is where the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats (including the subset that are essential) show up. So the larger a fraction of a type of fat is polyunsaturated, the more you need to worry about the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in that food. Coconut oil at 2-3% and olive oil at 8% will give you very little omega-6, but grapeseed oil at 72% linoleic acid will give you a ton.

    Wikipedia is a great reference for looking up the exact breakdown of fatty acids in a given food, fyi.

    Nick wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Thanks for clearing it up for me Nick. I appreciate it.

      Rafiki wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  8. The length of the post is fine, Mark. Some topics require more details. No worries!

    Katt wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  9. The length is fine.

    I skimmed this post because I’m at work, but quick question:

    If carbohydrates are what causes the triglyceride levels to rise, then why did the Atkins diet cause heart disease (unless I’m totally wrong there too)?

    Was it the larger omega 6:3 ratio due to the mass consumption of conventionally (and terribly) grown meat?

    Vivian wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Um, where do you get the idea that Atkins causes heart disease? Check this article for an opposing viewpoint:

      As for the omega6:3 ratio, it’s because the cow is fed grain instead of grass. Turns out that grain isn’t just bad for us, it’s bad for our food. (Check the omega 3:6 ratio of wild versus farmed salmon for a perfect example of this)

      gcb wrote on July 23rd, 2009
      • what most people don’t know is that the human heart uses saturated fats exclusively for energy

        Diego Paparella wrote on August 9th, 2009
        • That’s correct.
          Human Lungs, too.

          Donnersberg wrote on April 29th, 2011
        • Also the brain

          vicky wrote on December 6th, 2011
  10. I like the longer article – thanks!

    Brent wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  11. Great stuff. I wrote a post questioning the “saturated fat is bad” idea a couple of weeks ago:

    Shannon wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  12. So what’s the typical fat profile of a human, both in good and bad health? And what implications might this have on what we regard as the optimal diet?

    (DISCLAIMER: I have no interest in a cannibalistic diet. This question is raised solely in the interests of curiosity and discovery.)

    damaged justice wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • According to the post above your question, the average human has an O3:O6 ratio of 1:17… So people are NOT good eats from this regard. :-)

      gcb wrote on July 23rd, 2009
      • So that means that cannibalistic communities must be ridden with heart disease and cancer, right?

        Maybe someone could follow up on that. :]

        Vivian wrote on July 23rd, 2009
        • Cannibalism should be fine as long as you stay away from eating vegetarians or vegans

          SerialSinner wrote on July 23rd, 2009
        • SerialSinner – you’re hilarious!

          Things to do today . . . avoid cannibalizing vegetarians and vegans. Check.

          musajen wrote on July 25th, 2009
    • I have an interest in a self-cannibalistic diet: I want to use my adipose fat for fuel :)

      grisly atoms wrote on November 1st, 2015
  13. A good read, thanks for that.

    Obviously a contentious subject due in part to issues with the early research and the inflexible position of health organisations that followed.

    As per 90% of the relevant litrature fails to address but it is the source of the fat (the food) and the context of that fat source (rest of diet) and the context of diet (lifestyle, activity type/duration) that would appear to be the issue.

    Problem is, with so many confounds how long is it going to be before we get a decent body of supporting research which involves interventions as evidence.

    A long time I fear.

    Drew Price Nutritionist wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  14. excellent article, Mark.

    for further reading, Anthony Colpo’s ‘Great Cholesterol Con’ is, imo, the most exhaustive and compelling dismantling of the lipid hypothesis.

    Nice touch commenting on Cordain’s anti-SFA stance. I always found it odd that he would suggest that it was not plentifully available. I have not done rigorous scientific study on the topic as he supposedly has done. But I look at it this way.
    a)HG sought out fattest game
    b)HG sought out fattest parts of whatever game they killed
    c)Even on a relatively lean animal like a caribou, deer, or moose, (the types of animals Cordain cites in his papers) which hover around 6-8% BF, the actual fat on this animal is huge.

    For example, a moose sits at about 6% BF, but weighs 1500lbs.

    Thats about 90lbs of fat!

    game fat is typically 35-55% sat fat.

    That means for a kill like this moose there is about 30-40lbs of pure saturated fat. How many tribal group memebers could gorge themselves on SFA with that ONE animal? And that’s a ‘lean’ animal!
    Now tell me HG didn’t have access to SFA.

    Dwayne wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  15. Really enjoyed your article about saturated fat. I appreciate how you always back up your statements with references to other scientific studies, articles, etc. Even if people don’t agree with your statements initially, it should force them to really question the information (or “CW”) that’s out there and possibly create a change of habits on their side.

    Regarding meat consumption and the benefits to a Primal life style, what are your thoughts on how “green” raising livestock for human consumption is (ie, to help support this planet’s inhabitants…). In these modern times with much discussion on “environmentally sound” or “sustainability”, I’m uncertain how this planet’s remaining resources will support a planet of Groks. Sorry if you’ve posted about this previously. Thanks, Bob G.

    Bob Gong wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • (All my opinion and no scientific backup. Just my thinking.)

      I don’t believe the Earth is spacially fit to feed a world of over 6.6 billion Groks. For instance, to pasture a cow takes up a lot more space than to raise a cow on a feedlot, yet let’s replace amount of the feedlot meat in the average American diet with 100% grass-fed/truly naturally grown meat. We wouldn’t have enough space in the US.

      Then again, let’s say we somehow revived all the ecosystems we’ve changed/destroyed for farming and timber in the world and it’s previously natural inhabitants, well, reinhabited this forest. And let’s say that humans reverted to their former hunter-gatherer lives… Modern medicine would cease to exist and a lot of the population will die off from disease (and perishing in the survival of the fittest).. THEN we’d have enough resources.. ^^

      Sorry. I just started ranting out my thoughts in a jumbled mannerin that last paragraph there. Teehee.

      Vivian wrote on July 24th, 2009
      • When you considered the feedlot cow did you consider the space it took to grow all the grain the cow eats? Did you account for all the oil (or other energy source) it takes to run the equipment that grows the grain? Pasture raised cows need much less energy input.

        Henry Miller wrote on July 27th, 2009
        • Cattle that are in the feedlot were raised on pasture grass or open range until the end when they are put into the feedlot to “finish” or fatten. Therefor the space they need is the same.

          Debra wrote on September 30th, 2010
  16. this just oozes awesomeness. thanks mark!

    Mark wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  17. I find it hilarious that the AHA link that Mark provided in his post clearly mentions that carbs increase triglyceride levels.

    They then go on to say that one therapy for lowering triglyceride levels is “eating a heart-healthy diet”. If you click on the “heart-healthy diet” link, you will be told to “Eat at least 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber each day — preferably from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.”

    Doesn’t whole grains and legumes have a lot of carbs?

    No wonder this stuff is confusing!!


    Reid wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  18. Awesome guide Mark, really hit the spot. This is the kind of thing I can pass on to people who question my high intake of fats, saturated in particular, maybe they may even listen.

    Andy wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Thank you very much for the post. I am currently researching about how cholesterol works as I have a “new”friend that is an absolute low-fat nazi, but she knows nothing on how or why about it. It infuriates me when she tells me how I’m killing myself, but yet she uses 1% milk, margarine, “cool whip” ect. Her and her husband have joint issues and dry skin. Haven’t known her long enough to see if she has any other health issues…

      My family also has a history of heart disease and I also find margarine and cool whip topping on there tables when I visit…of course they hound about my diet as well.

      It’s been my intuition to not worry about cholesterol and pay attention to how my body reacts to certain foods. When I was eating boxed/processed items, I had so many health problems, including candida, gluten problems, kidney, depression, thyroid, irregular heartbeat and attention issues ect. Those went away when I started eating high saturated fats and cholesterol foods and not eating processed foods. My irregular heartbeat has been a non issue in the last year or so and that’s when I upped the sat fat foods and killed most sugar/flour products.

      I can’t wait to do a cholesterol/blood test to show everyone because I KNOW that I am healthy.

      spazchicken wrote on November 2nd, 2010
  19. Wow wow wow, Mark.

    You’ve really been keeping track of everything, haven’tcha? My humble thanks for including me amongst such giants and heros.

    This is a bit tongue in cheek, but with regard to that graph plotting sat fat against CHD deaths, I had a physicist blogger, Robert McLeod of Entropy Productions, run those numbers to check for a trend.

    His notable quote:

    “Although the statistics appear fairly poor, we can make one statement of interest. A positive slope is equivalent to a positive correlation between CHD and saturated fat (i.e. saturated fat bad!) and a negative slope is a negative correlation (i.e. saturated fat good!). Evaluating that statement using confidence intervals we have a 0.9 % chance of a positive slope and a 99.1 % chance that the slope is negative.”

    Richard Nikoley - wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • cool statistics

      Ricky Wallace wrote on September 13th, 2009
  20. plus doesn’t SFA increase Testosterone…which is good by me!

    BigBeck89 wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • but… that wouldn’t be great for ladies, right? I wonder if sat fat regulates it better instead of just automatically increasing the hormones.

      barbara wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  21. I disagree with your comments about large LDL:

    “On a per-particle basis, and after adjusting for small/large LDL particle correlation and risk factors, each 100 nmol/L increment in small and large LDL-P was associated with 7.4% and 7.1% higher CHD risk”

    Thus, even an increase in large LDL-C is artherogenic and at just about the same rate as increases in small LDL-C.

    rts wrote on July 23rd, 2009

      When you write “artherogenic” it may be thought you are referring to arthritis.

      Nigel wrote on January 26th, 2011
  22. Excellent post!! I’m a big sat fat fan and get pretty tired of hearing how bad it is!!

    My own experience with low carb diets resulted in little change in HDL, LDL and a major drop in triglycerides. Once I increased my sat fat intake, however, triglycerides dropped more and HDL almost doubled!

    Also….from an anti-inflammatory angle, sat fats are protective, while veg oils (particularly omega6) are pro-inflammatory!

    Alcinda wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • My last test had my HDLs at 134. Trigs remain under 50.

      Curiously, where I had calculated LDL of just over 100, a direct measure put it in around 70.

      No surprise, I eat lots of sat fat too, especially via coconut milk, oil and butter.

      Richard Nikoley - wrote on July 23rd, 2009
      • I’m really wanting to test as well, mainly because a few people (pro low-fat) are hounding me on how I’m going to get heart disease and “high cholesterol(lawlz)”. I feel great and have cured my many ailments I used to have due to carbs ect back in college. I loooove butter and and eat more fat off of meat more than I eat the actual meat.

        How much did your test cost?

        spazchicken wrote on November 30th, 2010
  23. Awesome article, it was really time for a definitive guide. It’s better that it is in one article, so that people can find and read it more easily.

    Florian wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  24. The prospective studies (e.g. Western Electric & Framingham) didn’t ask what you’d eaten for the last 5 years and they weren’t just “elderly and middle-aged”. Read the literature rather than summaries for the general population. The studies collected both dietary diaries (prospective) and short term recall and also measured serum cholesterol (and bunches of other stuff).

    There is a clear relationship between total serum cholesterol and mortality over the following 20-25 years in individuals. The dietary results were not as strong; and yes they adjusted for smoking, blood pressure and other causes. Some of the analyses also looked at other diets. The researchers weren’t dummies.

    There is a small ethical problem with running long term randomized diet trials with human beings (e.g. mortality trials), so its silly to criticize the researchers for not doing so.

    The physicist who analyzed the cross-sectional country-level data might want to look up the definition of “ecological fallacy”, something epidemiologists are quite familiar with. Keys knew about that, too.

    bill r wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • “The physicist who analyzed the cross-sectional country-level data might want to look up the definition of “ecological fallacy”, something epidemiologists are quite familiar with. Keys knew about that, too.”

      I did tag that as tongue in cheek.

      If researchers were mindful of the ecological fallacy, then they wouldn’t even put this sort of data together in the first place.

      Instead, if they get the results they’re looking for in the first place, it’s fine & dandy. If not, it’s ecological fallacy, outliers, or simply ignored.

      Ecological fallacy or not, the trend is not positive, not remotely so — 99.1% not remotely so — and it clearly will never even be close.

      What you are in essence claiming is that if a certain cross-section of the population of those countries were randomized and then studied similarly, the trend would miraculously go positive.

      Bullshit. You’re not fooling anyone.

      Richard Nikoley - wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • “There is a clear relationship between total serum cholesterol and mortality over the following 20-25 years in individuals.”

      The clear relationship is net zero. There is a slight negative correlation between death from heart disease and total cholesterol and a slight positive correlation between death from cancer and total cholesterol. When you add up the two curves, there’s a local minimum at 240 for men and 220 for women.

      Ah the tragedies of using an intermediate result instead of a terminal result.

      Ross wrote on July 23rd, 2009
      • And then, when you begin looking at all-cause mortality and then begin looking at different age groups and gender, all bets are off.

        Richard Nikoley wrote on July 23rd, 2009
        • Richard

          “What you are in essence claiming …” I am not claiming anything. I pointed out the fallacy in the plot, and yes, the literature is loaded with counter-examples where the between group goes in one direction and the within group (individual) goes the other. When you publish stuff like that, the text usually lists all the caveats, which is why you need to actually read the articles. Sometimes you have to go with the data you have, and follow-up with the stronger studies later.

          Ross: I believe the relationship in the Western Electric study held between total mortality and total cholesterol, as well as cardiac mortality and total cholesterol. I’ll have to look it up. Its been 30 years since I wrote that.

          bill r wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  25. Thanks , great article. As always so well documented, for further readings.

    thania1 wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  26. Hi Mark,

    I like your articles, and I agree with you about fats.

    However, I wonder about dietary information beyond “eat what’s natural (i.e., non-processed food, or efls’s, and being as “natural” as possible (untampered with, organic, etc.)), in season, from your local area.”

    These studies all seem to point to one thing – people live for about 75-100 years.

    The folks from the areas with higher mortality rates live in places where medical care and hygiene are comparatively low; and in some cases, where warfare or death due to violence is comparatively high.

    The human body, like any organism, has a high degree of adaptability (which is why we’re still around), and it seems to me that the body will find a way to subsist on anything “natural” as long as it isn’t poisonous (either as a quality or as a quantity (excess)).

    Fats, carbohydrates, proteins…whatever, in any crazy combination, as long as you aren’t getting too many or too few of one over the other two, which doesn’t really happen if you’re eating the way mentioned in the first paragraph.

    I don’t know, though, I’d really like to hear/read your thoughts on this.


    Josh wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • That’s the problem, Josh. The body can “subsist” on just about anything. (Seaweed and show leather in the case of many Irish during the potato famine.) But subsist is not what we are after here at MDA. We are after “thrive.”

      Mark Sisson wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  27. The studies that you posted are interesting, and they certainly give pause regarding conventional wisdom regarding a proper diet. I just have a little problem with the evolutionary arguments. No, I’m not a creationist. But the process of natural selection doesn’t really “care” whether we die of heart attacks at the age of 40, as long we have the opportunity to reproduce first.

    Larry wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • That’s certainly true, but I don’t see why the very same dietary patterns that allowed us to flourish and survive until reproduction would then turn on us.

      It doesn’t happen with dogs, who are fertile almost immediately. When you feed them the correct ancestral diets (raw meat, organs, bones), they far outpace kibble-fed dogs long past reproduction.

      We aren’t dogs, but we are animals.

      erik.cisler wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Larry:

      MS also doesn’t care if you live to be 125. It just worked out that healthy people live into their 70s, 80s & sometImes beyond.

      There was no imperative, just worked out that way. Perhaps humanity went through long periods of thousands or tens of thousands of years that survival was so arduous that only the super strong even made it to reproduction. That pressure for super vitality could be what eventually gave us the ability to live far beyong our ability to progenate our genes.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Actually natural selection does care how long you live after you are no longer able to reproduce. Grandparents can gather food for the mother too pregnant to get out and gather for herself. Grandparents latter can either watch the children while parents gather food, or gather food for the grand kids. Of course there is a point where too many old folks around are taking food from those who are able to reproduce.

      Henry Miller wrote on July 27th, 2009
    • I am of New Zealand Maori descent, here is what the early European visitors thought of the pre contact Maori…….That was in 1642. Captain Cook in 1769 observed: “They are also exceedingly vigorous and active. Their teeth are extremely regular and as white as ivory …

      they seem to enjoy high health and we saw many who appeared to be of a great age.”

      Captain Cook’s botanist, Joseph Banks, concurred. “The men are of the size of the larger Europeans, stout, clean limbed and active, fleshy but never fat. Among them I have seen many very healthy old men and in general the whole of them are as vigorous a race as can be imagined.”

      The early Europeans found Maori to be taller than them, healthier than them, fitter than them and maintaining their health and fitness to a good age.

      Maori had the best teeth ever recorded. The first director of Otago’s Dental School was Henry Percival Pickerill. He reported examining 250 pre-European Maori skulls to find only two had tooth cavities.

      They had no toothpaste, no toothbrushes and no dentists. Old-time Maori clearly knew how to look after themselves and their teeth. I am 67 years old, My older relatives, told me there diet was fish<fowl (birds) eggs seals what ever they could get from the sea, a very small part of there diet was kumara (a very small sweet potato about the size of a mans thumb, and various roots and in season berries. they ate as much fiberous greens as they could find, best guess 60%animal and the occasional human, and 40% vegetable matter. Their health now is among the worst in the world, eating from fast foods and high vegetable fat franken foods from the super market.

      Roy Walker wrote on January 4th, 2015
  28. Slowly, slowly we’re starting to see articles moving away from the accepted conventional wisdom show up in the mainstream outlets. Check out this one from Forbes (of all places):

    “Remember “whole” foods means exactly that–foods in their original form. Our robust ancestors did not eat “low-fat” caribou; we don’t need to eat “egg-white” omelets.””

    Marc wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Wild game is, almost by definition “low fat.” Ever eat elk? Very little fat compared to a similar cut of beef.

      Larry wrote on July 27th, 2009
      • Whether wild animals are much leaner or not is kind of irrelevant since people don’t tend to eat ‘too much’ saturated fat unless it accompanies refined carbs.

        Ralph, Cleethorpes, UK wrote on March 8th, 2012
  29. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

    It is a little long, but definitive guides are supposed – definitive! If its too long for some, bookmark it and come back!

    Ryan Denner wrote on July 23rd, 2009

    Love to see these kind of well researched articles…Now if we can just get everyone to read it!

    mike mallory wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  31. Two cents: I prefer reading the whole dang thing – the subject is engrossing, and one I’ve had to deal with continually in my fitness career. I tried veganism for up to 2.5 years and “failed to thrive.” That wan, drawn, lobo look. I’ve been vegetarian for 42 years but now occasionally eat fish when my body seems to demand it.

    The problem I find with sat-fat is that, while the foods that contain them make me feel happy and healthy, they ARE fattening. The moment I add even small amounts of dairy, I start gaining weight – even when I’m running 40 mpw and lifting heavy 1-2 days, walking 2 days. I conclude that sat-fats are needed metabolically, but only in fairly small amounts; otherwise, they get stored in butts and guts.

    As an athlete I find that a buttermilk smoothie is a marvelous recovery drink, and eggs are a wonderful pre-hard-exercise prep. But I can’t avoid drawing the obvious conclusion from my experience – eating sat-fat at other times adds pounds. And, so does eating more than small amounts of mono-fats (olive oil, avocado). Perhaps other factors are in play: my sedentary hours as a writer, a placid metabolism – who knows?

    The (strange to me) exception is almonds and almond butter, which I’ve read is calorie-neutral; in fact, I can eat several tbsp daily without gaining an ounce.

    I’d love to hear Mark’s thoughts about this. “Most good things, pursued to excess, become liabilities.” Or?

    runbei wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Let me offer a counter anecdote.

      I have lost 70-80 pounds of fat over the last two years while gaining 10-20 pounds lean for a net loss of about 50. I am now in weight territory not navigated in about 15 years.

      How? Three things:

      1 Lots and Iean lots of sat fat. Coconut milk, oil, butter. And lots of meat and I’m pretty good at fatty sauces.

      2 I only eat twice per day

      3 I practice IF

      4 I work out only an hour per week at most, 2 intense sessions, one very heavy lifts, the other a crossfit mélange.

      I also walk about 20 miles per week. However, I began that in 2000 and in the ensuing years to 2006, doing only that for a fitness strategy, put on 25-30 pounds.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • Runbei, the problem may be that you defer to too many carbs to fuel your 40 mpw running habit. A vegetarian that eats low fat must, of necessity, make it up in carbs (’cause there sure ain’t a surplus of protein there). A higher carb diet means more insulin. More insulin means that more fat (of all types) AND excess carbs gets stored rather than burned.

      Mark Sisson wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • I eat loads of saturated fat, and I’ve lost 38 pounds in the last 6 months (eating primal!). That’s the weight I put on from 13 years of vegetarianism. There’s no way saturated fat makes me fat.

      Dairy doesn’t agree with some people. It has nothing to do with the fat…it’s the protein that’s hard to digest. It could be you’re sensitive to dairy. Try eating meat and ditching the dairy.

      karlin wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • As Mark put it the problem is the carbs.

      I am also eating a lot more saturated fat these days, and have lost about 15 pounds. I guess at most 15 more to go. I am already as lean as I was in College.

      I am still mostly vegetarian, and still eat lots (not as many as before) carbs. But I make sure that I go low carb some times. This I do by IF or by eating a grilled chicken as dinner.

      I also eat much less carbs than before.

      You might want to take care of not eating too much almonds/butter because of the omega6 problem. You are taking fish to balance though.

      I am also mostly sedentary, being on the computer most of my day. The only exercise is heavy lifting 2-3 times a week.

      Anand Srivastava wrote on July 24th, 2009
      • I wanted to know how do you cook the chicken you eat for dinner? Also, have you cut all sweets & breads out of your diet? Im thinking I can just eat endless grill chicken & fish with some veggies on the side and cut out all breads! Would that help me loz 20 lbs?

        thanks for you help, im in desperate need lol..summer is here and i lok like shammooo lol but I do want to loz weight the healthy way!
        take care

        boop wrote on May 17th, 2010
    • Almonds fill you up quickly. Maybe you aren’t realizing it, but after you eat almonds, you don’t eat foods you otherwise would’ve eaten if you hadn’t had those almonds that, in the time that the almonds kept you full, would have added up to more calories than the almonds.

      Am I making any sense? xD

      Vivian wrote on July 24th, 2009
    • Don’t eat fat and carbs together (where together is over a 1-2 week period). As you already know, eating low-low-fat means failure to thrive. Eating low-low-carb, you’ll thrive and you’ll keep the weight off.

      The worst of both worlds is “balanced” carbs and fat. The presence of the carbs guarantees a big insulin response and all of the fat gets packed away.

      Ross wrote on July 24th, 2009
    • runbei, I am an endurance athlete who will train 10-15 hours a week. Even with a lead up to a half ironman in early May, I was consuming 4000 calories a day, with 2200 of those coming from fat (mostly MUFA, some PUFA and SFA). CHO was about 30-35%, protein made up the rest. I also lost weight in the last month leading up to it (timing of eating was just as important as # of, and context of calories).

      Have you considered total number of calories? Let’s say you consume 3000 calories/day w/ a low fat/sat fat diet. But when you add add’l fat/sat fat, you don’t cut carb, which means your calories go up (lets say to 3500). If you maintain your current volume of running, then you will gain weight since you are consuming more calories than burning.

      Ryan Denner wrote on July 24th, 2009
    • I was a vegetarian for quite a while too. What I found was that as I got into my thirties, it didn’t matter how much exercise I did, I would slowly gain fat around the gut. I switched to a high meat/fat, low carb primal diet a few months ago, and now I’m back to the same weight and body composition I had when I was 20, only thicker and even leaner, and I feel much better than when I was a vego. Much more even moods is a standout.

      I’ll be interested to see what happens when I start doing a few weights…

      Andrew wrote on July 26th, 2009
  32. I like turtles.

    ZombieKid wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • I like you. :3

      Vivian wrote on July 24th, 2009
  33. Mark, the article definitely isn’t too long because this is important info. And. . .I believe you will need to keep putting this topic up periodically with the latest research you find. The whole saturated fat phobia is probably the toughest one to overcome for many of us, and, I’m afraid, many believe what they have been taught over what they have experienced. Say it again, say it again, say it again.

    Catalina wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • We have heard fat, especially artery clogging saturated fat, is a killer, for so long, it is hard to clear it out of our heads. When I was growing up in New Zealand we ate everything, white bread, butter, meat, all the time eggs, all our meat was cooked in dripping or mutton fat. Then when I was in my 30’s I moved to Australia , and heard meat would kill me, I am 67 in May 2015, and although I eat a high fat low carb medium protein diet, I can’t help thinking, what if this is a death sentence diet, surely health professionals wouldn’t tell us lies……would they… Just thinking

      Roy Walker wrote on January 4th, 2015
  34. Mark,

    Thanks for the great article. Definitely hte mainstream media has gotten it all wrong and they want us to believe their way!. I am a low carber for the past 1 year consuming 80% fat every day in a 2300 calorie diet. All my vital parameters are normal. I check comprehensively once in 3 months.

    One quick question: If sat fat is rigid and can withstand heat, why coconut oil has a low smoking point than PUFA oils and Olive oil? I personally take a Tbsp pf coconut oil and swallow. I do not fry anything using coconut oil though I see that coconut oil is much better one compared to PUFA and MUFA oils.

    Please reply.



    Venkat wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  35. Thanks, Mark, Richard, and others for sharing your interesting weight-loss results with high-sat-fat diets. I’m intrigued. Mark, I’ll search the site for your insights on getting just enough carbs for a given level of exercise, and timing them right. Potatoes give me excellent energy, but of course any excess just turns to fat.

    runbei wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  36. Proof’s in the pudding, as they say…so if the people telling me my diet of 70 percent (high quality) fat is so bad have off the chart low tryglycerides, off the chart high HDL cholesterol (literally, my lab results have a little asterisk on them, not within normal range! And my lipids used to be so bad that my doc was threatening statins!) and healthy LDL, low body fat and a flat tummy and can climb cliffs and mountain bike up killer hills for hours on end at age 47…then I’ll say their diet must be good, too.

    DThalman wrote on July 23rd, 2009
    • The studies quoted…while very relevant and valid regarding fact natural / un- processed saturated fat is not the enemy…whether from plant or animal, the studies fail to include info on levels of activity, fitness, exercise. Our paleo ancestors (and even our recent ancestors from 100 years ago) were not sitting on couches…or behind computers as many of us are. (myself included). They were out hunting their food. Not shopping for it at Costco. I was never grossly overweight, but recently I went from 188 to 164.5 in 1 month by doing the following:
      1. eat whole raw foods at lunch (vegetables/lean meat/very few carbs)
      2. I did eat healthy fats…in moderation…relative to my overall activity level. (Healthy calories in less than calories out from exercise).

      at 5, 11 my weight at 188 wasnt so much wasn’t weight reduction, but becoming leaner.

      In some regards to lose weight is simple…calories burned needs to be greater than calories eaten. To be really healthy they need to be the right kids of calories…most importantly…they need to be nutritional calories (not just fat)…providing the right nutrients/minerals/vitamins..what ever you want to call it…for the goals you have. Weight loss nutrient requirements are different from those who want to get ‘big’ muscles. They need more calories…of the right kind.

      Mike Tees wrote on August 9th, 2013
  37. I was just talking to my friend Chris about PB and how saturated fat has gotten a bad rep and how carbs are the reall killer. I turned him on to the Apple so hopefully he reads this article.
    Great timing Mark.

    Dutch Leftern wrote on July 24th, 2009
  38. On my part, when I am telling about Saturated fats to others I don’t start from saturated fats at all. I just tell them that Carbohydrates convert to Triglycerides which are saturated fats. Now when you put things that way, you have put forward the idea that carbs are at least as bad as saturated fat.

    After this I explain that the reason why carbs are converted to saturated fats is because it is the preferred fuel source for the body. Otherwise why would the body do this.

    I also tell that the ghee (butter oil) is very good, and traditionally everybody in our country used to have it. Then I tell them why that was a good thing to do.

    I also talk about the problem of high omega 6 and why refined oil are bad for them. People (in India) are more amenable to thinking of traditions as good. So I tell everybody that traditional foods are good, because they use a lot of healthy ghee.

    The thing is nobody can contradict what I have said. But unfortunately, they just cannot go back to eating ghee. I know people who have stopped fearing ghee, but they have not gotten rid of refined oil. People don’t change unless the see a present danger.

    Obesity is at best a far away problem.

    Anand Srivastava wrote on July 24th, 2009

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