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. How much saturated fag do we need daily for optimal health?

    Gabriel Wigington wrote on May 12th, 2012
  2. Loved the article. It’s baffling how certain “research” leads to widely accepted “fact”. Great work!!!

    Scott wrote on May 14th, 2012
  3. It seems that this discussion is missing important information about the role of stress leading to inflammation as a promotor of plaque formation in the blood vessels. Robert Sapolsky , professor of biology and neurology at Standford University and a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, is clear that it is the amount of cholesterol or saturated fat that we consume does not, in and of itself, create problems.

    On pg 43 of his book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,” Sapolsky writes “With the chronic increase in blood pressure that accompanies repeated stress, damage begins to occur at branch points in arteries throughout the body. The smooth inner lining of the vessel beging to tear or form little craters of damage. Once this layer is damaged, you get an inflammatory response” mediated by the immune system. He goes on to explain that the sympathetic nervous system responds to stress by increasing the viscosity of the blood. Epinephrine, which is released during the stress response makes “circulating platelets (a type of blood cell that promotes clotting) more likely to clump together, and these clumped platelets can get gummed up” in the damaged tears or craters in the blood vessel lining. Additionally, Sapolsky highlights that the stress response leads to “mobilizing energy into the bloodstream, including fat, glucose, and the “bad” type of cholesterol” all of which can also add to the build up in the tears/craters.

    To summarize, Sapolsky writes, “…stress can promote plaque formation by increasing the odds of blood vessels being damaged and inflamed, and increasing the likelihood that circulating crud (platelets, fat, cholesterol and so on) sticks to this inflamed injury sites.” “In the last few years, it is becoming clear that the amount of damaged, inflamed blood vessels is a better predictor of cardiovascular trouble than is the amount of circulating crud. This makes sense that, in that you can eat eleventy eggs a day and have no worries in the atherosclerosis realm if there are no damaged vessels for crud to stick to; conversely, plaques can be forming even amid “healthy” levels of cholesterol, if there is enough vascular damage.”

    Jenna wrote on June 5th, 2012
  4. Im still a little confused on saturated fat intake. I mean can we eat as much as we want I’m talking like rib eye, butter , lard ? Can I eat steak with butter everyday or am I limiting the so called bad fats. ? Someone please clarify I am new at this have seen great results. My wife is concerned also she has a host of auto immune diseases one of them being type 1 diabetes and she was always told to watch her cholesterol numbers because she is a high risk.

    Peter wrote on June 15th, 2012
  5. My skepticism towards anti-fat dogma has been: Based on known biochemistry of metabolism, even if we do not eat a single drop of fat, our body converts excess sugars into fat.

    Meanwhile, in everyday life, low/non-fat milk has been a disaster: They taste like crap, which means something is going to get added to make them more palatable. So much for ‘Got Milk’ campaigns. Likewise, the same disaster also applies to other dairy products like low/non-fat yogurt.

    Debit wrote on August 10th, 2012
  6. having been advised to go on to a prescription of Lipitor to reduce LDL, and reading the side effects and the look on the prescribing doctor’s face. I am lloking for better information.

    I twice have had LDL readings of 7.2 mmgol whereas the upper limit is 3-3.5mmgol.

    However, as my diet is high in green veggies, fish olive oil with red meat occaionally and little to no carbs and no cows milk. I have to question what is causing the high LDL reading so I am interested to read this article.

    Is there any study that people that are otherwise healthy with no other blood related issues i.e. Liver Kidney function, exercise often and eat what most people would call a healthy or very healthy diet. Cannot live comfortably with higher LDL levels than the profession indicates is too high.

    I would like to avoid being rushed into Lipitor medication if the debate is still open on the causes of higher LDL and Triglycerides in the blood?

    Shiney wrote on September 11th, 2012
  7. I grew up in Eastern Europe and we literally live on lard. We eat it spread on sourdough bread, cook with it, bake with it, you name it. In my immediate family NO ONE has had any cholesterol problems of any sort. And you have to understand, when we slaughtered a pig in Sep/Nov, we ate lard and pork products the WHOLE winter. Daily.

    KS wrote on November 1st, 2012
  8. The issue here is natural undamaged fats vs processed/damaged fats. The majority of fats the average American eats are damaged and corelating studies come from people eating those fats. Its not just what you eat but HOW you eat. Many of the cultures that eat high fats that are living longer are eating fats from animals raised “naturally” the way they were inteded and also prepared raw and at low temperatures as to not damage the complexities of the fat. Enzymes, antioxidans and vitamins alter at certain temperatures, this is basic science. Frying a steak on high that was not grass fed will be a slow poison to you HOWEVER slow coking a grassfed steak will be a cure to you. #Foodscience (why don’t they teach that in school, no profit for big pharma maybe?)

    homesteader wrote on November 9th, 2012
  9. my chemistry teacher all the way back 7 years ago in secondary school(singapore) taught us about how its all nonsense that margarine is healthier than butter, and it all made sense, so since then iv held strong to that belief although i cant quite remember the exact reasoning anymore(something to do with bonds is all i remember) but doing a recent grocery shop made me think more about it and iv been googling for about 45 min reading different articles, i got really lost and confused reading articles ranging from and to NHS(british health) about why saturated fat is bad and ones like this one: saying why its good. Not knowing the exact science behind it makes it extra confusing because the internet seems so split on this issue, i mean who do you believe when harvard and the NHS tell you unsat is good but youve been taught from 7 years ago that unsat is bad???

    i think im still going to stick to my original belief and avoid unsat fats but reading articles like this, if im not reading it wrongly, seems to bring up the issue of certain unsats being good, varying from specific product to product, which honestly just makes me want to headdesk…how in the world is the average person supposed to check and keep up with this sort of detail?

    and then another confusing thing is bringing up carbs and their relation to triglycerides and thus its relation to bad fat in the body/heart disease etc, i dont understand your article mark where you say carbs are stored as saturated fat which is good in that its used wisely for energy, for later, by the body, but then you say carbs and not sat fat increase triglycerides which you say are a good marker for poor health…so which is it?? and im not talking about stuffing your face, i mean just regular eating, case in point im asian and like most asians i consume loads of rice, noodles, soy based things like tofu, and asians tend to be slimmer than americans. and maybe im mixing it all up here but what about the japanese who eat all that and then loads more fish most other countries, chock full of omega 3(and here im lost about tuna having 63% unsat). i know i could look up the exact breakdowns on the side of packets but i honestly wouldnt know what they meant anyway, so hopefully someone could explain it.

    greatly appreciated to anyone who could enlighten me on the above and im sorry if im mixing everything up and misreading things cos fact is im still walking away from this confused about what i should actually try to eat more off and what i should avoid, nuts,nonuts,meat,notofu??

    pepperandice wrote on November 15th, 2012
    • oh i forgot to add in the second last para that what i meant with asians is that is it then a genetic thing? because iv heard of people who were not raised on a rice/asiannoodle heavy diet had to cut that out of their diet when after a few years of moving to asia theyd gained alot of weight and theyd read something about how because they were not raised on it, their bodies are not accustomed to breaking it down as well. because from the upper comments theres alot of stuff about cutting out carbs and losing weight/feeling healthier for it, (im using rice as an example cos thats the one i have the most knowledge/connection with)but then asia and south america and africa all have alot of rice in their average diet but we all have really different body types so…how pertinent is this carb thing, im certainly never cutting rice or noodles out of my diet, thats like 90percent of my meals

      pepperandice wrote on November 15th, 2012
    • I suppose when you say “loads of rice” etc… it’s relative when Asians consume on average 2600 calories vs. 3800 calories with American diets. That right there is why you’re slimmer. You do not consume enough carbs to the point they cannot be used for energy and thus turn to fat.

      victor wrote on March 19th, 2014
  10. To “Pepperandice” Short answer:

    Go Paleo/Primal.

    Nigel Tanner wrote on November 15th, 2012
  11. If I don’t have access to non-factory farmed meats, should I just not eat them at all?

    Marisa wrote on December 18th, 2012
  12. I have heard saturated fats cause inflammation like sugar does. I would love to hear they are not because I truly love fats. Most of them from nuts, avocados, and dairy. My diet is roughly 45/% carbs, 40% fats and 15% protein. That’s right! 40% fat, I’m a mother and I’m only 106 pounds. However I am active and eat a lot of anti inflammatory foods and spices everyday.

    Tezi wrote on February 5th, 2013
  13. So great to see this information on a blog – usually I only see it via research papers. The public (and especially the advisories) need to catch up with the science. Bravo!!! Looking through some of the other comments I just have to say, don’t forget that not all polyunsaturated fats are the same! As mentioned in this blog, the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 are important. In the US we’re waaaaayyyyyy out of balance! Thanks again for sharing this.

    Kristina P. wrote on May 7th, 2013
  14. 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.

    Justin Bieber wrote on July 2nd, 2013
  15. I actually don’t think so.

    Andrew Jonathan Walk wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  16. I actually don’t think that saturate fats are healthy for you.

    Andrew Jonathan Walk wrote on August 2nd, 2013
    • 2+ years of experience here are proof enough
      that’s 2+ years of paleo primal after 15 years of zone diet
      after 14 years of vegetarian high carb high fat eat all in sight diet
      there were also a few short time periods (months) of vegan and later atkins
      even a few months of fruitarian

      best i’ve ever felt at any age
      best endurance
      least joint pain
      best recovery times

      so think what you will
      might be better to test for one’s self before thinking for sure

      zendogbreath wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  17. I have a friend who seems to sometimes link to your page/articles. Being a scientist I would love to see some more scientific rigour in your great work. Could you please consider citing current relevant literature in future so I can go to direct source to get all the nitty gritties.

    Helen wrote on August 29th, 2013
    • I agree, links to scientific papers can only back your argument. in addition, citing a tiny handful of studies in favor of saturated fats is of no consequence. The “countries” study is not a randomized, controlled trial. One cannot determine a country’s diet, and there are are a huge amount of other factors that determine whether or not someone gets heart disease. The study is statistically un-scientific. There is a considerably large amount of scientific evidence which supports the fact that saturated fats are bad for you. Period.

      Warren wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  18. Awesome article. It explains everything you need to know about losing weight and being healthy. Explains perfectly why I love bacon. I believe there is a huge conspiracy in the western world and it is all about making money by making people fat. We all have a duty to spread the word. I am going to pass your article on to others. It really is superb.


    Colin Stone wrote on October 22nd, 2013
  19. Holy comments, Batman!
    Thank you for all the details! I really enjoyed reading this post, which is why I really wanted to add one more comment.
    I felt bamboozled with the implication that because saturated fat has good vitamins, it must be good for you. You completely omitted the fact that all of these vitamins are readily available from undeniably great sources (carrots, spinach, getting outside or some mushrooms).
    I felt like you were encouraging cannibalism – if our cells are made up of it, then we need to eat it. There are small amounts of saturated fats in many vegetable sources that easily make the healthy list, so now my question has changed.
    How much saturated fat is healthy? Which types of saturated fats are more closely linked to heart disease/indicators? Does that differ on the ‘package’ it comes in – whether it is in a whole food with higher fiber or protein? I find myself looking for as many studies on the ratios of types of fat, but finding conflicting answers. shows a much more favorable omega 6:3 ratio in commodity beef than grass-fed, but I keep reading grass-fed has more omega 3’s. Could it come down to carbon length??
    I like the primal concept for the simplicity, but the ‘which type of fat is best’ debate has gotten way too tedious in my mind. I’m left confused, when it seems it should be instinctual…

    bug wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  20. What happens to the excess fat you eat when the body can’t use it all? I know it has minimal impact on Insulin so that doesnt remove it from the body so where does it go if its not stored or burned up?

    John wrote on March 19th, 2014
    • Our bodies are very efficient; I am afraid “can’t use it all” is not an option. However, this is what is good about fat and protein: no matter how slowly we burn them they will never turn into excess glucose in our bloodstreams.

      “Excess” fat and protein just hangs around until it is needed; nothing is ever wasted.

      Cornelius wrote on March 19th, 2014
      • Hi thanks for that, I just posted this, can you advise?

        Unused good consumed fat. Where in the body is it kept? Doesn’t it cause weight gain? And surely the body excretes some of it?
        Would like to get to the bottom of this as I need to lose weight. I’m on the Primal diet but concerned I might be eating too much (of the right stuff) and hampering my weight loss’.

        John wrote on March 21st, 2014
  21. I was told by another member that unused consumed ‘good fat’ stays in the body until used. Where in the body is it kept? Doesn’t it cause weight gain? And surely the body excretes some of it?
    Would like to get to the bottom of this as I need to lose weight. I’m on the Primal diet but concerned I might be eating too much (of the right stuff) and hampering my weight loss.

    John wrote on March 21st, 2014
  22. The modern obese chickens and cows that most people eat are nothing like any animals found in the wild. Saturated fat is healthy, of course, but in normal proportions. Just about anything found in normal foods is healthy in moderation. It’s the imbalances that are a problem. Omega 6 is not unhealthy; it’s that our diets are off-balance. Saturated fat is not unhealthy. But if you eat cheeseburgers all the time (even organic ones), you WILL pay a price. That is not a natural diet. If you compare normal bison meat to normal beef, you will notice that the saturated fat is much lower. That is part of the paleo diet. You will not find square cows like we raise anywhere in a natural ecosystem. And loading up with saturated fat is pointless and risky. Eskimoes are not a good example, because they have genetically adapted to an extreme environment in ways most of us haven’t. They can hold items in their bare hands in freezing temperatures longer than most of us can. They tend to deal well with stressful circumstances. For a long time they were more genetically isolated than most cultures because few people from elsewhere want to live in that environment. Your argument that saturated fats are healthy is true, and even obvious. But if you’re suggesting that people unbalance their diets in favor of saturated fats, you aren’t helping. Why do people look for such simple solutions? Balance is and always has been the key to nutrition.

    Dan wrote on April 19th, 2014
  23. I don’t know if you can edit this post, but this part, and the reasoning behind it, does not belong on a website that tries to be minimally scientific:

    “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.”

    We’ve also got a taste for sweet stuff, and for salt. Reading a sentence so uncientific like that makes me much more doubtful about reading the rest of the website.

    Andre wrote on July 23rd, 2014
  24. In terms of ancestral justification fot fat consumption, how about the body of work that seems to indicate our early ancestors started as scavengers, following lions and sabre-tooth packs.


    It would make sense that early hominids eating meat but not proficient at killing would start off as nimble scavengers. A scavenger diet might be high in fat (bone marrow, brain, connective tisse off the bone) and collagen (hence maybe losing the need for vit C production in liver)

    What do you think

    Herve wrote on March 18th, 2015
  25. Hello sir. If you are asking for scientific validity, you should seek to provide your own. Give us some studies. If we are wrong, we would not be so foolish as to not want this to be known. We are, after all, looking for optimal health.

    In the mean time, it is also a rather unfounded comment to say anyone deserves CHD. I can’t quite comprehend what would move you to say that.

    My chemistry knowledge is not the greatest, but I’m pretty sure a carbon double bond is stronger and harder to break than anything that is single bonded. And regardless of whether that is the case, short and medium chain fatty acids are much more easily digested. They don’t require bile salts, and can be absorbed directly through the intestine. And primarily, those short and medium chain fatty acids are saturated.

    Further, I will point you towards a meta-analysis of saturated fat and its role in cardiovascular disease. I have many more studies, but as this will serve a good starting point, I can start with it.

    Feel free to read it, as the full text is free, and return with comments.

    Erik Istre wrote on October 22nd, 2011
  26. I’m pretty convinced now, i’m not huge into reading studies or getting down to molecular level science but can see where you guys are coming from and have experimented on myself eating much greater levels of healthy saturated fat and have found no problem

    Max@flavortogofast wrote on November 12th, 2011

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