9 Signs You Need to Eat More Fat

By now, we all basically agree that fat is an essential nutrient. Certain fats, like linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid, are physiologically essential because our bodies cannot produce them. Other fats, like those found in extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil,and grass-fed butter, are culinarily essential because they make food taste really good (they’re not so bad in the nutrition department, either). And others are conditionally essential, meaning they become extremely helpful and even critical in certain situations. But how much is enough? How do we know when to increase our intake of specific fats?

There are a few indicators that you might need more fat. If any of the following issues are giving you trouble or sound familiar, consider increasing your intake of fat. It may very well help solve your problem.

You have dry skin.

Dry skin can mean a lot of things – allergic reactions, imbalanced gut microbiota, topical exposure to abrasive chemicals – but it often means that you simply need more fat in your diet. How so? Sebum is the body’s natural moisturizer, and we produce it in-house using the fatty acids that are available. Some of the fats come from our own body stores, of course, while others have to come from the diet, especially if we’re not actively losing body fat or we don’t have much to spare. Increasing fat intake, then, is a painless, simple way to potentially improve your skin’s moisture levels.

You’re low-carb and feeling “off.”

Fat is still a bad word in many circles. How many people have seen this happen? A person reduces carb intake to lose weight without realizing that they need to increase their consumption of fat to make up for some of the missing energy. They begin losing weight, but the exhaustion, lack of energy, malaise, and headaches make it hard to stick to the plan. Since fat is still a bad word in most circles (though that’s changing), what happens all too often is a person will reduce carbs and keep their fat intake way too low. If they’re burning lots of body fat in the process, that can certainly help with energy needs, but most people will also need to increase the fat they eat.

Your physical performance is lagging.

People are quick to suggest upping carb intake when physical performance suffers. Depending on the nature of the performance, that may help in certain cases. But another macronutrient also plays a big role in physical performance: fat, specifically saturated fat. We use saturated fat (and the cholesterol that often comes packaged with the fat) as precursors to steroid hormones like testosterone. Without enough saturated fat in the diet, we can’t make enough testosterone. Without enough testosterone, we can’t build muscle, recover from our workouts, or enjoy a healthy libido.

Your joints ache.

Achy joints can mean a lot of things. You could have poor mobility, improper movement mechanics, and tight surrounding musculature and fascia. You could have arthritis. You could have suffered an acute injury that’s just now manifesting. Whatever the cause, reducing inflammation through dietary means can really help dull the pain and even improve the underlying issue. Whenever I have a sore knee or a creaky hip, I eat more fatty fish or increase my fish oil intake for a few days. The omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and have even been shown to improve symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. If animal models of osteoarthritis hold true for humans, omega-3 intake can even enhance wound and joint repair following joint injury.

You have low HDL.

Getting regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and weight loss all increase HDL – and health professionals are quick to mention those as viable options. But eating more fat, particularly saturated and monounsaturated fats, can also increase your HDL. This isn’t very surprising, actually, as both exercise and weight loss involve the oxidation of stored body fat, which is similar to eating a bunch of (human) animal fat. Maybe that’s one reason why losing body fat is so good for us and results in so many improvements to health markers – it inadvertently places us on a high-animal fat diet (regardless of the diet used to achieve the fat loss). Some fats are better than others at increasing HDL. Saturated fats like the ones in coconut oil increase HDL, while the PUFAs found in soybean oil tend to lower it.

You’re never satisfied after meals.

Low-fat diets are notorious for making their adherents ravenous, whereas low-carb, high-fat diets are well known for curbing out-of-control appetites. Most people attribute that to the higher protein content of low-carb diets. I’m not so sure that’s the whole story. In my experience, loading up on protein alone makes me sick of eating and slightly repulsed by food, whereas eating fatty meats satisfies me. Both reduce appetite, to be sure, but I prefer to be sated rather than repulsed. Plus, fatty cuts of meat, not just the lean stuff, provides saturated and monounsaturated fats (along with protein). Saturated fats appear to confer the most satiety via the satiety hormone PPY, whereas monounsaturated fats from avocado oilolive oil have favorable effects on another satiety hormone, GLP-1.

You’re trying to love vegetables.

Edible vegetation is essential for optimal health. Maybe not ten cups a day of leafy greens or anything, but some really does help round out the diet and provide vital nutrients that are otherwise tough to get elsewhere. The problem for many people is the “edible” part of that equation. Plain vegetables simply don’t taste very good – at least until you develop a palate that can appreciate them. Here’s where fat comes in. Fat transforms vegetables into delicious meal accompaniments. Steamed broccoli is tolerable plain. Toss it with some grass-fed butter, salt, and black pepper and it becomes irresistible. Toddlers, with their instinctual distrust of vegetation, develop a taste for even the dreaded Brussels sprout more quickly when paired with fat. Vegetable are loaded with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and fermentable fiber. They’re some of the healthiest things a person can consume, but you do have to actually eat them.

Your mental edge seems dulled.

Part of the transition into lower-carb eating involves a period of mental dullness for many people. You’re eating fewer carbs, which means less glucose is available for your brain, and your metabolic machinery hasn’t quite caught up to begin burning fat and ketones efficiently for energy. But what if this persists? A number of studies show that eating specific fatty acids—medium chain triglycerides, whether found in refined MCT oil or in coconut oilcan improve cognitive function by increasing ketone availability. Interestingly, access to ketones (whether through ketosis or medium chain triglycerides) doesn’t impair the brain’s ability to utilize glucose. When the brain’s access to ketones increases, so does its uptake of glucose. Oh, and krill oil, which contains omega-3 fats in phospholipid form, may also improve cognitive function.

You’re going out drinking.

If you plan on drinking more than a serving or two of alcohol, increasing your intake of certain fatty acids and decreasing your intake of others before can protect your liver from injury, reduce the toxicity, and diminish the resulting hangover. Saturated fats appear the most hepatoprotective, with the fats in dark chocolate and coconut/MCT oil being especially helpful; linoleic acid/omega-6 is the most dangerous when drinking alcohol. You’ll get the best results by eating more SFA and less linoleic acid several days (or weeks, months, or years) prior and up to imbibing, since it takes a few days to shift the composition of your liver fat.

That’s it for today, folks. Hopefully you find these tips useful, whether for your own burgeoning high-fat diet or someone else’s.

Thanks for reading.


You May Also Like:

The Definitive Guide to Fats

How Ancestry Might Inform Your Fat Choices

The Definitive Guide to Oils

Digesting Fats

Purchase a ‘fat we love:’ Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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114 thoughts on “9 Signs You Need to Eat More Fat”

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    1. Okay, I’ve been making lots of breakfast smoothies recently. Adding my greens, fruit, nuts and topping it up with kefir.

      Perhaps a bit of bacon in the mix would work too… Yup going to have to try. 😀 LOL

  1. Interesting point about the aching joints.

    I’ve had some unusual aches lately. Need to assess my diet and see if I need to up my fat intake.

    Time for some bacon and eggs cooked in Kerrygold butter!

      1. It seems lately I’ve come across a ton of articles in which the benefits of bone broth are mentioned. I’ve been putting off making bone broth, but perhaps it’s a sign that I need to break down and buy some bones and make some broth. 🙂

        1. I’ve been putting off making bone broth too. I have a gallon bag pretty full of bones in the freezer, just haven’t used them. As incentive to make the bone broth, I did not buy any more glucosamine and chondrotin (that stuff is expensive), and I just ran out a couple of days ago. I’ll start a batch this weekend.

        2. I’ll admit, I’ve dabbled all of the various soaking/dehydrating/sprouting/fermenting/bone-brothing stuff out there, and the only one I go back to regularly is bone broth. It’s really easy, it tastes good, and I noticed stronger nails and less chapped lips. It’s the only homemade thing I noticed a big enough difference with to do myself. Even just taking collagen or using gelatin hasn’t done quite as much good as straight-up homemade bone broth.

        3. The easiest way I’ve found is to use a crock pot. However, if you let it cook for 2 days you really can get rather tired of the smell, well I did at least.
          I like to keep it in pint jars in the freezer so I can take one out and add the lovely broth in cooking almost everything.
          b2 – I also keep bones in the freezer until I’m tired of looking at them or making room for them and zip into the pot they go.

        4. I make bone broth in batches with a minimum of 2 gallons of water and cook them for 48-72 hours. I time it so that it is *done* on a Saturday. Then, I have the whole weekend to cool, package, and freeze it. Most of the work is at the end. The tallow is a great by-product.

      2. Yeah, bone broth is great. Sodium, Magnesium and Pottasium get washed out by the first stage of ketosis and these are essential electrolytes. I’m two weeks in and taking extra salt, Magnesium supplements and loads of bone broth for potassium. Butcher gives me free bones including pigs trotters for the gelatin. Kefir btw is also awesome as
        It rebalances lower gut bacteria that inevitably changes in Keto. Not had any acid reflux in two weeks (was daily before). Changing views is tough when there’s ££ billions in Bulls**t!

    1. @2Rae – Do you NEED to leave them in a crockpot that long or do you just use this method to make thicker broth? What would be a good cooking time to just make a standard bone broth in a crockpot?

      1. Well I read that the crock pot can draw all the good stuff out but it can take 2 days of cooking on low. I just add a little more water if it looks dry so all the bones have plenty of liquid ot cover them. If the bones are not yet white I will keep them and use them another time. I just don’t remember where I read that, it was a while ago.

      2. I make it off and on and have around 1/2 cup per morning. I put a cup of finished broth in small freezer bags, push out air and seal then start stacking in a cake pan, so each bag is nice and flat. Then I freeze all of them and pull out 1 flat bag when needed. They stack nice in the freezer this way. If I am intermittent fasting, I add a bit of Kerrygold butter and good coconut oil when I heat it up with plenty of salt and pepper. It takes me through the morning without getting my appetite up. I usually go 48 hours on low in the crock pot. This last batch had lots of meat on them, so I took the meat off after a day to use and then continued. I am using Paul Jaminet’s technique to initially cook about a hour of simmer then pour off the kind of sludge that builds, along with blood, etc. and put fresh water in with the vinegar to cook the time I like. I think it tastes better and looks better.

  2. Great post! Should be “required reading” for Primal newbies. However, I was actually going overboard with healthy fats. I have type 2 diabetes and was eating so much healthy fat that it seems to have made my cells more insulin resistant, so I backed off a little.

    I love all vegetables plain, even the dreaded ones. But fat makes them even better.

    1. I thought fats created no insulin response in the body. How would it make you more insulin resistant? Not antogonizing you… genuinely curious.

      1. I am not an expert on this. Maybe one will chime in. It was suggested to me in the forum. My n=1 experimentation lead me to believe it is true for me. Probably not true for the small number of people in this country with “normal” metabolism.

        1. ( another Jacob here ) if you are high fat and low carb your body will become slightly insulin resistant. I mean, if you are in ketosis.
          it’s a natural response to the low amount of carbs digested. your body will try to hold on to sugar in order to preserve it for vitals parts of your body that absolutely need it ( red blood cells, certain parts of the brain and nervous system ).
          my fasting blood sugar is a bit higher than it used to be but it never drops or spikes. it’s the same all the time. 1,2 hours after meal, when i wake up etc..it doesn’t matter, it’s the same all the time.
          it’s very simple to test by going high carb for 3-5 days then check your insulin/blood sugar. it should be back to the high/low roller-coaster with high spikes after meals and pretty low when fasting.

      2. “How would” fat make one “more insulin resistant”?

        By contributing to/creating a state of cellular energy excess, which causes cells to produce excess reactive oxygen species, which in turn shuts down insulin signaling; diabetics, who have fewer mitochondria than “healthy people,” appear to be particularly susceptible to cellular energy overload – see, for example, “What Causes Insulin Resistance?” by Stephan Guyenet.

        1. I had a feeling it had something to do with a spike in energy levels from calorie dense foods and diabetics not being able to properly handle that, but didn’t know the in’s and the out’s of it. Thanks for the biology lesson!

        2. (I doubt that “physiological insulin resistance,” as mentioned by “the other Jacob,” explains Harry`s particular case, because that phenomenon should neither “worsen” progressively after the initial “adaptation period,” nor produce average/fasting blood sugar levels in the “diabetic” range (though it does cause false positive OGTT results).)

        3. Guyenet is a poor source, Try Dr Ron Rosedale for anything insulin or leptin related.

        1. See “the other Jacob`s” comment; physiological insulin resistance is an adaptive mechanism that serves the purpose of sparing glucose for the tissues/organs that can`t produce all (or any) of their energy from fat (e.g. the brain, erythrocytes (which don`t have mitochondria)) at the expense of the tissues/organs that can (e.g. muscle (provided that the organism is not currently performing anaerobic activities, of course) ) under conditions of glucose scarcity – whenever a metabolically healthy person starves/goes on a VLCHF diet, developing a certain degree of insulin resistance constitutes a “physiologically normal” response.
          (Conversely, the insulin resistance diabetics exhibit serves to mitigate the negative repercussions of (cellular) energy excess, not scarcity, and it has pathological downstream effects.)

  3. Yes, interesting about the aching joints because inexplicably mine were starting to hurt like my pre-primal days. The other night I made some delicious lamb and the pain went away. Then it came back. Then I ate leftovers of the lamb and it went away again. I think I see a possible connection.

    1. Lamb and goat products have heavenly fats- MCTs- called capric acid, caprylic acid, and caprioc acid (all found in coconut oil also, but they’re named after “capra”= goat). These fatty acids are great for our bodies and brains. Btw they’re also GREAT for skin as they help kill dermatophyte fungi (tinea corporis, t. versicolor etc) and the yeast Malasezzia which is linked to dandruff, eczema, folliculitis, pityriasis alba, p. versicolor, etc.. Mainstream medicine often tells us, for whatever skin condition, “exact cause is unknown, so just use hydorcortisone” which harms rather than helps. The research literature shows more and more links to fungus. (Sorry for getting a little off-topic!)

  4. Last night all I had for dinner was some freshly made bulletproof ice cream, healthy and delicious. I found the drinking one most interesting, I guess because that was the one I hadn’t heard of yet. Interesting yes but maybe not helpful, the hangover is one thing that keeps me from drinking more often and that fact that I’m poisoning my otherwise really healthy body.

  5. Perhaps the tide is turning. Perhaps these guys have seen the writing on the wall. A dash becomes a splash, a splash becomes a mix, where will it end…

    1. Sorry about this nonsensical post chaps and chapesses. It refers to Flora-Buttery. Flora is selling margarine with butter in at something like 13% butter (milk??). They can now increase the butter content to be in line with accepted wisdom and continue to sell their products; perhaps even become a butter trader in time. Regarding the nonsensical part, I wasn’t aware that website links are now being taken out of posts, or are they. I suppose I’m generally unaware, hey ho hey hum, off to buy some Buttery Flora. Hello moderator 😉

      1. Kit, you do know that margarine’s “natural” colour is grey? Just buy pure butter!

        1. I had forgotten that it was grey. Gives some food for thought. I don’t buy Flora or any other margarine. Not to say I haven’t eaten it. It was certainly very popular at one stage about 20 years ago (don’t hold me to that guessed timeframe). Butter, coconut oil, meat fat from cooking, duck or goose fat from the shop generally. I do feel the need to air my dirty laundry though, A the moment I buy big jars of real egg mayonnaise made from canola oil. It is consistent, convenient, cheap and tasty. I used to make olive oil mayo at home, but the kids were a bit yes and no to it and I just don’t have the time or inclination at the moment. I also used to use home laid eggs. I don’t have chooks at the mo. Don’t wash eggs where I live, but I am still a bit worried what is in a shop-bought raw egg yolk (kids – even if it means I can’t get rid of them for the day!).

  6. This is just an odd story, not a humblebrag, I promise:

    I was startled once, in college, when a female friend of mine noticed how smooth my elbows and knees are despite the fact that I never use moisturizing lotions, and insisted that everyone touch my elbows (college is a weird time for everyone, right?). Everyone was shocked and envious, and it became a running joke for the semester about how smooth my elbows are. I had no idea it was a common thing for elbows to be dry! My friend asked me what my secret was, and I said “I always eat full fat foods.” I’ve always been “alternative” nutrition-aware, but I don’t remember my exact reasoning was that brought me to that conclusion…it sounds like maybe I was right though!

    1. When I was trying to eat a low-fat diet “for health,” my skin (especially elbows & heels) was SO dry it was painful. Luckily I would “break down” now & then & have some salad dressing, cheese or avocado– otherwise I suspect I would have dried to a crisp like an Autumn leaf! Now though I’m considerably older, I find I need less lotion than I did when I was a teen!

      Getting gluten out of my diet helped with this too, I believe.

      1. haha, this stopped me in my reading…checking my elbows…hmmm…really smooth….I say Mama, you were right all those years, no margarine for us after World War II rations and the yucky stuff. She never wavered in the face of all criticism…we always had our butter growing up, oh and our eggs too…now thanks to Mark and many others I now eat the fat on my meat again, just like I naturally used to as a child. It was yummy and I was no dumb dumb, even ate the marrow, my Grandmother and I tossed for it.

        Now it wasn’t always so, my skin was dry, really dry for many years after I became a vegetarian in my 20’s (I thought I was so wise). I bore and raised two children as vegetarians too (even learned to make soy milk…yuk) …that is until The Day, that fateful day. My eldest was four years old and we attended a pool party. They were serving a bbq. My four year old son (by the way he reads this blog *grin* , the funny thing is we both introduced each other to Mark’s blog…timing lol) …so my young son came up to me carrying a near finished and juicy, dripping hamburger. I was horrified. He popped the last piece into his mouth and ran off saying he wanted another one! Smart cookie, he knew I had kept crucial knowledge, yummy information from him. Never seen such a happy and satisfied look, the one that says, I’m full and that was great. That was the end of my vegetarian days, all of our vegetarian days. I have never looked back. It did take me a long time to get here though, so wish I knew a lifetime ago what I know now!

        1. From the mouths of babes.

          I have heard several times that children of vegan parents will swipe fatty foods in other houses when they think they are not being observed.

    2. Just checked my elbows, smooth as a baby’s bottom and I don’t use lotion.

    3. I have always attributed Paula Deen’s smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt face to all the butter she puts in her food!

    4. LOL. Are you the normal age for college? i.e. YOUNG??? Wait a few years, honey, you will know what truly dry and wrinkly is in that area (and the rest of the skin acreage too). (Eyes rolling).

  7. For YEARS I hardly ate any fats. I didn’t mean to avoid them, but after going vegetarian I just loaded up on veggies and protein most meals and didn’t even think to add healthy fats into the mix. Now, I make it a point to incorporate things like coconut oil or avocados into most meals and I’ve noticed a huge positive improvement.

  8. Another tell-tale sign – nausea. I did this to myself when I went low-carb and mistakenly stayed low-fat. I was nauseated all the time – awful! Thankfully some internet research revealed this as a common side-effect, and I immediately upped my fat intake – and the nausea left within a couple of hours.

    1. I’m curious if your nausea was accompanied or induced by vertigo or light-headedness? My diet has never been low-fat but when I tried to go grain-free I developed pretty much chronic light-headedness/vertigo after the first week or so.

      I get that occasionally as a result of very low blood pressure but this lasted weeks, even after I stopped the grain-free. Now I’m scared to try again.

      I didn’t increase fats that first time but as I said I would judge my diet to be moderately (trending to immoderately) fatty to begin with so I’m not sure that caused my problem. The fats I get are largely from dairy and avocados with other fats as part of cooking or condiments.

      Any light you can shed?

      1. Hi there! Here’s my story: I struggle with hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy), and one of the side-effects is nausea that continues after the birth of the child. To combat that, I tried a very low carb diet. To my surprise, the nausea got much worse! That’s when I did the internet research and found that nausea can be a side-effect of a diet that is both low-fat and low-carb. I immediately increased my fat intake, and that took care of 90% of the nausea. (Adding in lacto-fermented foods took care of the rest of it, so I suspect underlying gut health issues.) I would guess that adding more fat to your grain-free experiment would probably be super-helpful! I added butter, avocados, cheese, animal fats, coconut oil, anything and everything. It really needed to be high-fat to be effective. Good luck with your experiments!!!


        1. Thanks, if I try to go grain-free again I’ll make certain to up my fat intake considerably and see if it does the trick.

      2. I have this problem at about the 10 day mark of trying to go ketogenic. I believe it is a combination of orthostatic hypotension and low blood sugar. Three or four strawberries usually do the trick. Adjust blood pressure meds as needed.

        1. Anyone who experiences nausea upon going low-carb could be feeling (1) frank withdrawal symptoms initially, and/or (2) a Herximer reaction as candida are being killed off! (I have heard that candida thrive on grains & starch.) I’d think it would fade within a few weeks though.

  9. I have been waiting for this post forever! I have experienced feeling “off”, lagging performance, calf cramps while sleeping, dry skin and crazy hunger. After adding butter/coconut oil to my coffee (just an experiment), I noticed I feel better. I think I might need even more fat to feel satisfied. Still freaks me out to add extra dolops of fat to my meals. As in, isn’t olive oil on my salad and a beef/lamb patty for lunch enough fat? Apparently not for me. Maybe if I just eat fat with abandon, I’ll find equilibrium.

  10. The link to coconut oil increasing HDL and soybean oil decreasing it leads to a completely unrelated study, anyone know the correct one?

  11. Thanks for the tips! On that last one, though, is a sixpack considered a “serving of alcohol”?

    Pabst Blue Ribbon, if that helps.

  12. Makes the homemade chocolate I make with cocoa powder and coconut oil sound even healthier! (recipe from chocolatecoveredkatie.com)

  13. Ah fat…

    I don’t remember when it was I first heard that it was good for me, but it was definitely the best moment of my life. Since then I think I’ve been solely responsible for quadrupling the profits of both Kerrygold butter and Biona Coconut oil.

    I definitely had the whole low-carb flu thing when I first started cutting out carbs, and it was definitely exacerbated by my non-full-acceptance of saturated fat being good.

  14. Neat – I remember watching a travel show, in which the host was hanging with some old Greek guys. The first thing they all did before they started drinking for the night was to take a spoonful of olive oil, saying it helped prevent hangover. Now, 1 tablespoon of olive oil versus many liters of wine – I dunno how, but I’ve tried this many times, and it works. Bacon, coconut oil, tallow, olive oil, whatever I have on hand.

  15. Need more beef broth and coconut oil in your diet try this.

    Braise pastured beef short ribs in coconut water and or beef broth, flavor with fish sauce, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Add Frenched shallots and whole Thai chiles and simmer in a crock pot for a few hours. Go on a long hike or take the paddle board out for spin around the harbor. When you get back and the meat looks loose on the bone remove whole lemon grass and lime leaves and chile stems.

    Phase 2 Add minced lemon grass and slivered lime leaves, a can of coconut cream, and sliced bamboo shoots. Adjust flavors with lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar. Bring it back up to a simmer and add a heap of fresh Thai basil leaves. Serve hot in a bowl over shredded Napa cabbage “noodles”.

    I made and canned a big batch of this recently because I needed more fat in my diet and I wanted it to taste incredible.

    1. I don’t even really like beef much (please don’t hate me, I’m a recovering vegetarian) but this sounds SO GOOD!!! I have to try it & I bet my husband will be thrilled, as he usually has to do the cooking when he wants beef. 🙂

      1. This works with seafood too, only add it at the end so it does not over cook. Use packaged gelatin to thicken the broth unless you have access fish heads/bones, or shrimp head/carapace, around to make stock for part1. Sablefish, mussels, shrimp event frozen seafood medley all would work fine. For a vegetarian version substitute kambocha chunks, quartered Thai green eggplants or both.

        1. Yet again yum! We do have a source of fish heads & bones– our local Asian supermarket saves them for us– & they make amaaaaazing broth. 🙂

      2. I love beef but don’t like the taste of coconut oil and never use it. Coconut oil is easily replaceable in most cases with high-quality butter or lard, EVOO, or bacon fat. Some of the high-end grocery stores, like Whole Foods, carry lard that hasn’t been hydrogenated and isn’t loaded with preservatives.

        1. Shary: Like you, I don’t want everything to taste like coconut! Refined coconut oil is flavorless, however. It contains fewer antioxidants than virgin, but the fats are all intact and it is an excellent product. I use it in the pan for scrambled eggs, and on top of any steamed veggie (I love it with lima beans). Great for people who can’t use butter for whatever reason (the melting point is a little lower than butter). Walmart carries it.

  16. I love fat for weight loss. However, I’m a believer in eating the whole food, so I try not to use too much olive oil or coconut oil since it is extracted. I prefer the fat from avocados, nuts, seeds, since there is a lot of fiber in these foods also and then from fish, pastured meats and grass-fed butter.

  17. I like this post. It may help me. Occasionally I’ve suffered from some of the symptoms/signs mentioned. Fat can be sort of medicinal, well maybe only if someone has a deficiency and their fat burning ability is not efficient enough, but I’ve found it to help me in many various cases.
    Steamed broccoli is… tolerable? Huh? Unless I’m eating way too much of it, or other vegetables or fiber possibly, I looooove steamed broccoli. I bet I could eat it til I’m in pain! Then wait half an hour or so, and refill. Though sometimes it has a weird fishy taste. Still decent, and that may be because I’ve eaten most of my steamed broccoli while incarcerated, so the food is definitely not subject to any high quality standards, and has been cooked, frozen, and reheated, and then sits for a while.
    Often before or while or sometimes after drinking I increase my fat intake. Not too much, at least until I’m done drinking, since I want the alcohol to absorb rather completely and quickly, but I have found it helps. I also tend to really enjoy and/or crave salt with alcohol. One of my alcohol-munchies is potato chips. Yes, I eat them rarely and I try to get the less deadly kinds, such as today at the foodbank I got a bag of decent jalapeno chips.. and bladdertons of coconut water, two of the big cans of salmon, some 70% chocolate, a bunch of cocoa powder, a bunch of fenugreek leaves (I’m guessing they’re going to be beneficial), an ounce of gelatin ( awesome! ), some nice teas and instant coffee and I was already pretty much stocked with both.. guess that’s enough to talk about my late acquisitions for now.
    And there’s blackberries all over this town (I returned to my hometown for a bit to retrieve some stuff including a bike and money from police lock-up and hit up the foodbank) and it seems like I’m the only one who eats them, so I’ve basically got more berries than I can even comfortably eat. I looked in a donation bin and it had a pair of shoes that are a little tight but will serve as backups if I need them, a good pair of sandals that I’m using now, and a sheet, blanket, and pillow, which I’m using for camping on the ground so far, resulting in me killing lots of red ants with no mercy (why? they’re just ants. I smirk at the concept of karma, used to belive, but due to much suffering when I’m a darn good samaritan for the most part, I think it’s BS). I may not have all the luxuries I would like but I have what I need.
    An awesome girl I’ve seen around lots but just really talked to for the first time said she lives in the city I will probably be going back to soon and said she’d drive me there, and provide other help if I need it. I hope we get a rapport going and I get more acquainted with her because she seems like she’d be a really good friend or at least facebook friend or something.
    Someone just gave me a little, easily portable laptop with Windows xp and wifi access today so I no longer have to be constrained by library computer time limits.
    I’m feeling fairly fortunate. The saturated fat and salt and possibly protein in the free brick of cheese I just pocketed somewhere may be slightly contributing. haha

    1. I’m a little excited about your food score but even more excited that you have a laptop. Nice person indeed, now we’ll get more of your interesting posts I suspect.

      1. Oh yeah, the moderators are going to be peeved indeed! I don’t care. They delete way too many of my comments. Inhibiting free speech IS NOT PRIMAL. And I’d think most people who come to this site are probably mature or smart enough etc. to handle some comments from one of the possibly bad apples of the bunch, well in the conventional wisdom opinion…

        1. Also, now I can download music and play it in the woods, and under bridges and stuff, it’s going to be awesome!
          Just the other day I climbed over the railing of a train bridge and under it onto a big concrete pillar holding it over the slope of a ravine, with a drop varying from about 20 to 30 feet depending on where one would take the measurement. I had my bike leaning against the railing of the bridge. I thought it was far enough away that any trains wouldn’t touch it if they came by. So I was just relaxing reclining with a pint and then a train came over the bridge and when I climbed back up my bike was still leaning on the railing but it was no longer serviceable. The front wheel was especially mangled, made me think of tin foil. I’m glad I wasn’t up there with the bike. Once I had to run across the bridge in front of the train and jump to the side (just a short drop into bushes). Guess I potentially could have gone splat like a bug!

        2. “Inhibiting free speech IS NOT PRIMAL.”

          (Don’t know you, not intending to offend but) using free speech to offend others, being careless of what we say (as in: I am (or I feel) free to say anything I want, no matter the effect on the people are me”) is not primal. (In my view.) One of the big ’causes of health’ in the primal human/hominin was community, was the tribe, was belonging to the group. It still is. People with friends and a community are healthier and live longer than loners/singletons.

          “Fitting in” is part-and-parcel of belonging to a group. Being considerate of others in what we say and do is a part of fitting in.

          It may be annoying to have others — to have leaders or standard-bearers of “our” tribe — “inhibiting” your “free speech” — but if you cannot or will not inhibit your own speech out of consideration of your tribe members — then the tribe will (and I’d say, must) inhibit it for you.

          There is false, forced, “PC” inhibition — which is anathema — but there is also the inhibition a tribe, a group, places on the young and on the members who have not learned how to ‘fit in’ with the group. Please consider whether “the imposition” you are apparently objecting to is appropriate to the “speech” you consider your free right, or is focused on the health of the tribe.

  18. >> Other fats, like those found in extra virgin olive oil and grass-fed butter, are culinarily essential because they make food taste really good (they’re not so bad in the nutrition department, either).

    No, they important not because of how they taste, perhaps they taste so good because they are so important because they are the best energy source for humans. Btw. you cannot eat essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) for fuel.

  19. With regard to chapped lips, which someone commented about here (can’t find it)… It’s possible to become addicted and/or allergic to lip balms. I used chapsticks or lip balm for years because my lips were always dry and ragged. Lipstick would just cake on me so I didn’t use it. At some point it dawned on me that the stuff I smeared on my lips was making them appreciably worse.

    I tried various other things instead, including Aquaphor, vaseline, regular hand lotion, coconut oil–anything that wasn’t toxic, though none of it did much good. What helped the most was a thin coat of A&D ointment. It got rid of the sore, chapped, peeling lips and all the damage I did by unconsciously biting them. After a week or so I weaned myself off the A&D except for a very light coat before going to bed.

    Now I don’t put anything on my lips at all and they stay nice and smooth. If they’ve gotten a bit dry from the dry weather I rub on a little EVOO. Plenty of good fat in the diet is important, and so is staying well hydrated.

    1. I swear my husband’s addicted to Carmex, even though we eat lots of fat around here. It seems to me he feels insecure unless he has a tube of it in his pocket at the ready.

  20. Mark thanks for this post, just what I needed when I needed it.
    I have been “out of sorts” latelly although I’ve been eating well, hmmmm, plus there’s this weight gain. I was wondering if I was eating too much fat (as if) or too little. I normally have a sweet taste in my mouth when I am in ketosis and that’s been gone since the weight gain. Turns out some stress from sources outside of my control (sigh) has assaulted my adrenal glands and now that I know how to support them I’ve got that sweet taste back, Whew! It was getting to where even my “fat clothes” were not loose enough for me. Now to shed these 8 pounds that I do NOT need so I don’t have to buy new clothes!
    One of the things my husband said was that my body seems to react as if someone was slipping grains into my food. Yeah, I prepare all the food so that wasn’t happening. But weight gain, slipping out of ketosis while no change in diet, joints hurting, sleep too much or too little for no apparent reason, carb flu symptoms although no simple carbs consumed, enough of that business! I will now go back to putting some pastured butter in my coffee in the mornings.

  21. The trick is to remember that all that butter you used to put on bread and potatoes needs to go on something else now.

    1. Not necessarily. I often just slice off a pat and eat it by itself. Delicious.

      1. Yeah! My daughter and I eat butter by the slice. My husband thinks it’s disgusting, but then he still buys reduced fat milk etc. Sigh…

  22. I eat average about 50% calories from fat a day. I eat lots of veggies, but definitely do not shy away from bacon fat, coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, and butter… But I still have dry skin. Oh, and I drink a lot of water. So what gives!? My mother has dry skin too. Is it just hereditary?

    1. I know this is an old post, but for what it’s worth…

      Have you found answers to this yet? I find that 1-2 teaspoons a day of cc oil leaves my skin getting dry and scaly. No one seems to be able to explain why the opposite reaction to what is normally expected. Is it a processing issue or is it something else to consider?

    2. I also eat lots of fat (at least 1/2 of calories as fat) and while I feel MUCH better with regard to satiety, weight, energy, mood etc., I also still have dry skin (feet and hands in particular). I do believe that genetically some of us can’t utilize fat as well, or transport the fat to where it needs to be. In addition, more research is linking dry, flaky, scaly or itchy skin (dandruff, eczema, pityriasis) and the yeast Malasezzia (formerly called Pityrosporum) which robs us of our natural skin oils by feeding on them! (This is different from candida yeast which grows in mucus membranes such as the mouth, gut lining etc. and presumably feeds on carbs.) I have started noticing a slight improvement in the dryness of my skin just by using a liquid soap that contains essential oils (oils that the yeast cannot feed on).

  23. This is a great post. It seems many people who try low-carb diets struggle because they can’t get over the hurdle of eating more fat so they end up feeling miserable with no energy to function.

  24. Hi Mark!
    Great post there! I did not know that there are signs when it comes to dealing fatty foods. I guess the reason why people are miserable is due to the fact that they want to loose weight and by excluding fatty foods without even knowing that they also need it on a long process. That is the reason why I bought tools like Procizion Digital Kitchen Food Scale and Procizion Vegetable Spiral Slicer in order for me to weight the foods I will eat. It sounds ridiculous but using tools like this, I would be able to track down the amount of food I consumed. So Mark, if I were to ask you; Is it okay to use tools like this? In my part they’re great. I just want to have a second opinion from experts like you. Hoping for your reply! And to anyone of you here.

    1. Sounds like you are the expert on you so USE TOOLS if it makes you happy and works.. There’s 2 cents for you. 🙂

  25. Give me some fat….supper bitter chocolate, avocado and macadamia nuts (not together…hahah) and bone broth and I am happy as can be. Way into my 50th, my skin is smooth and clear as a baby’s butt and whatever itches and redness I had due to elusive allergies, is long gone. I just had me a Shaksuka with sauteed onions, dill, chile powder in extra virgin olive oil, big chunk of french butter (no kerrygold in my neck of the woods) and two free range organic eggs. And since I am in the middle of cooking a big pot of bone broth (on the stove since last night), I couldn’t resist and dug myself two bones and scoped out the marrow with a spoon. What ever money people spend on booze or other nonessential, I’d rather spend on getting the best fresh food I can lay my hands on. Always have – always will. FYI – my beloved butcher always gives a bounce of marrow bones free of charge. And if you add “sugar bones” and those with cartilage (knee bones) you will enrich the soup further. I also like to add fresh ginger, carrots, parsley and celery root – depending on availability, fresh turmeric, black pepper corns, allspice berries and a healthy doze of Himalayan salt towards the end (tip). Salt added at the beginning of cooking tend to be absorbed; so we keep on adding it and end up with a salty dish. I am pretty active and just introduced barefoot running into my routine, without an scratch or blister to show for; and not to mention bone aches. So I would like to take this opportunity and thank Mark and all those who in their wisdom, put me on this path (not that I was ever over weight or seriously ill) and introduced me to wonderful and new ways of cooking and ways to exercise.


  26. There are number of people who suggest avoid eating fat, as it could make you overweight. Though eating fat is also necessary for healthy body, and today I find out how you would know when you should start eating fat if you’re avoiding it.

    1. Thing is, you never want to avoid it… It is the lifeblood of food…

  27. So how much fat is enough?? I stuggle to figure out if I am eating too much/too little to be beneficial. I eat avos, kerrigold butter and occasional coconut oil in coffee, but what is enough? Aslo take fish every day.

  28. Never feeling satisifed after meals is defintely a wake up call for those who need more fats. I’ve noticed that my skin is more bright and “alive” sort of, when I really started getting more eggs into my diet. Everything has just improved greatly over the years since I’ve changed up my diet to a healthier one. Great article as always Mark!

    Thank you

  29. I find that if I drop my carbs below 150 grams, I start experiencing almost all of these symptoms, plus bad insomnia. I am not afraid of fat and feel like I eat so much of it already. I do Crossfit and probably walk 6-10 miles a week pulling a wagon with at least 20-65lbs in it (depending on number of kids riding), and don’t sit much because I play with little kids all day. So, how much fat do I really need to be eating? I cook EVERYTHING in fat, add olive oil to the veggies I just cooked in coconut oil, etc…

    I’ve hung in 3 1/2 weeks recently with my carbs around 100 grams suffering all this before upping my carbs, and magically feeling tons better – except I gain back the weight I just lost. Am I just destined to hang on to my last 15-20 lbs to feel my best, or should I literally be shoveling spoonfuls of coconut oil in my mouth?

    1. Keep your carbs between 100 and 150 grams per day, and eat more fat and protein. Do that, and you won’t be able to hang onto those final unwanted pounds.

    2. Rather than counting grams, I measure by ratios. It’s much more realistic approach than bean counting grams so to speak. I make sure carbs are around ? or less of my meal depending on the ratio of fats and protein available. The more fats, the less carbs. I make sure to trigger my satiation hormones one way or another and protein alone is also insufficient for me to do so.

      Insomnia is caused by insufficient serotonin entering your brain. You could up your carb ratio to ensure tryptophan enters your blood-brain barrier with side effect being raised insulin levels. Alternatively, supplement tryptophan at night along with a quality coenzyme B vitamin and vitamin D. The latter two catalyze tryptophan converting into serotonin. Which in turn catalyzes into melatonin putting you to sleep ntm is one of the most power cellular repair agents known.

      An evolutionary conundrum is too much fats and protein particularly branched chained amino acids prevent tryptophan from getting into your bloodstream much less make it pass the blood-brain barrier, the cellular sheath that is essentially your brains chemical filter that would otherwise let tryptophan pass. And while I eat up to ? of my plate with veggies, fruits, and rice, it isn’t enough especially as I aged. So I find it more practical to supplement.

      Mastering your satiety hormones is just half the battle. Unless you address serotonin imbalance/insufficiency, you will crave sugar, especially as you age, which is the evolutionary ’emergency switch’ process to shuttle extra tryptophan into your brain ASAP that it so desperately needs.

      Serotonin modulates emotion and enables forethought, it is also the brain and body’s wifi-like router that controls the dopamine response to the signaling mechanism your GI employs to push through and process food in the digestive tract. It gets used up fast, again, especially as one ages.

      Here’s the recipe for my success:
      A high-quality whole food multivitamin like Megafood One Daily https://bit.ly/1s8kHGk. You need more than sufficient, very well-absorbed micronutrients to act as necessary catalysts on your food to get the necessary serotonin for your brain, into your brain.

      Adequate Vitamin D https://bit.ly/1y08o0v, 2,000-5,000IUs per 25lbs, depending on your sun exposure. Get a blood test to ensure you range 25-55ng/ml of active D in your bloodstream. I take 10,000IUs daily yielding 53ng/ml in my bloodstream; everybody is different. Good thing is it’s impossible to OD on D. Think 5,000 years ago how much shade there wasn’t and the high levels of sun exposure around. D activates a key gene ensuring serotonin conversion in brain.

      Tryptophan https://bit.ly/1qPfNNz or its cousin 5-hydroxy L-tryptophan (5-HTP) https://bit.ly/1y07YHu, in activated form. 5-HTP avoids having to convert tryptophan to 5-HTP and more easily passes the blood-brain barrier. ‘Activated’ 5-HTP is best; bound with B6, accelerates conversion to serotonin and later melatonin. (1-2 capsules daily, AM and/or PM).

      Take on emptier stomach. Too often it’s not practical to take it on a 100% empty stomach. Take the above around bedtime or before breakfast. Serotonin doesn’t convert to sleep agent melatonin with white light around; the blue wavelength embedded in white light stops the pineal gland from doing so. That is also the single biggest reason for insomnia in the modern world – inadvertent blue light exposure; turn off houselights and install software like f.lux https://justgetflux.com to strip out white light’s blue strand to help you sleep.

      Advanced Tip
      Green tea extract https://bit.ly/1kBIi3E. Blocks peripheral nerves from absorbing serotonin intended for the brain. Your GI produces the most serotonin in your body. Unfortunately, the peripheral nerves in your body can absorb too much of it leaving insufficient levels around to pass the blood brain barrier successfully while leaving your with butterfly in your tummy like symptoms. Green tea extract help block the peripheral nerve from doing so. The negligible caffeine in it is addressed by the serotonin entering the brain ntm the beneficial polyphenols that help preserve arteries, heart, to skin. If caffeine is a concern, try EGCG https://bit.ly/1kEvedI instead, sans the polyphenols (and caffeine).

      Again, make sure you dim lights at night and remove by software from your computer screen the blue strand from your white light which halts serotonin to melatonin production. You can also purchase blue-less LED lights though they are a bit pricey.

  30. I make “more than” bone broth — I make carcass-broth with my chicken carcass. All the left-over chicken (usually rotisserie from Costco — not optimal, but easily available) gets broken up and dumped in the Crockpot with various seasonings and covered with (again, Costco, boxed “organic”) chicken broth. On low, two days. (When in season, I puree the heck out of green peppers and freeze the result on a cookie sheet, break it up into chips, and store in the freezer for on-hand seasoning — several chips of that, and onion treated the same way, go into the Crockpot, whether or not I also have fresh on hand.) I cool the broth in the fridge for a day, skim off the fat (no {shudder}, I don’t keep it, it’s not from farm-raised!), and measure the broth out into silicon ‘bread’ pans — in amounts that suit my rice cooker — and in a silicon miniloaf pan in amounts that suit a quick couple-bowls of soup. Once it’s frozen solid, I peel it out of the silicon and store in it the freezer (and a couple jars in the fridge for immediate use). Now, I always have broth on hand. (The silicon bread pans give you an easy-to-store flat ‘platter’ – two of the bread-sized… oops sorry, two of the rice-cooker-sized platters fit nicely in a gallon ziptop bag.)

    (Am I concerned it’s Costco chicken and not farm-raised? Sure — but some things I can do “perfectly paleo” and this isn’t one of them. I could do without, or I can settle. I’m settling on this!)

  31. I have a quick question on bone broth: a thick layer of fat coagulates on top once the soup cools down. Is it safe to consume the fat, consider I am using bones that aren’t from free ranged cows (l currently live in an fairly arid land with grazing ground limited to 3 or 4 month a year), but free of hormones or antibiotics. I just cooked a huge batch and would hate to throw away something good.

    I normally grill 2 or 3 bone marrows, add a small mound of coarse salt and black pepper, scope the hot marrow and eat it; or spread over a steak instead of butter or ghee. Or, put the uncooked bones in iced water for 10 minutes (the ice solidify them & and turn them pure white), scope out the marrow and add to grounded hamburger meat.


  32. I wonder if cravings ever factor in to what your body needs? Sometimes I have a craving for peanuts or other foods, and when I think back about my day’s (or week’s) calorie intake, I notice I’m low on fat. It’s usually when I’m trying to lose weight that this happens.

  33. The toddler reference is really funny. We were thinking we’d do Baby Led Weaning and around age 6 months I was breastfeeding my daughter and her daddy brought me a plate of food with sauteed brussles sprouts on it. She stole one, stuck it in her mouth and only half of it came back out – I guess she was telling us she was ready for solids, so my daughter’s first food was a brussels sprout. She hasn’t been too interested in anything but meat lately, but she’ll never live that one down!

  34. Ok, so I have been primal for almost 3 years now, with a lifelong interest in nutrition. I was eating a really high fat diet the first year and felt amazing, then I decided I wanted to study nutrition and now Im almost two years into my education to become a dietician, Ive been paleo/primal all these years but the last year I’ve been feeling tired, no libido, less energy resulting in fewer workouts, started getting acne and drier skin. I thougt more nutrient dense foods would help, nope it didnt, I thought more fermented foods for the gut world help, nope not even, I thought it might be the stress, nah a summer off didnt help. Then I read this list, and noticed I have stopped using much fat, thought it was unnecessary and what we learn at uni didnt help either. So I started adding one tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffe each morning and used more butter than normal and bam my libido and energy is back, acne gone and brain fog gone. I am so happy and i will never stay away from hugh fat again.

  35. Please help! This is perhaps the 3-4th time I’ve attempted to go low-carb and every time I give up because of all of the following symptoms listed in the article – but now its worse, my brain fog is way worse and I can hardly cope in ballet class. I think I eat plenty of fat though, as I can’t seem to lose this roll around my waste unless I exercise crazily and restrict calories immensely (1200)! I dont want to keep getting stuck in this rollercoaster of fat loss fat gain, chronic exercise and calorie restriction. The most fat I eat are from nuts and tahini and coconut cream/milk. Is this why I cant lose the fat around my middle and tone up?
    I’m counting calories on myfitnesspal and it says I’m over the recommended fat level all the time, should I just ignore that and keep eating fat?
    I’m also finding it really hard to keep carbs to 50g! Even though I dont consume any processed carbs – rice, bread etc. and even avoid bannanas and sweet potato etc….:S So confused…

  36. This is my 2nd attempt trying this diet/lifestyle change. I LOVE eating this way; I just don’t understand why I became symptomatic of low blood sugar on the 5th day. Freaked me out so bad that I was forced to eat a small bag of pretzels. But seriously…how much potassium and magnesium should be taken?? And should I be drinking some full sodium broth in the AM?

    I know damn well that I was eating plenty of fat; I was satiated and I had an app to track my fat/carbs/protein daily. I had perfect macros. So my question is….WTF is the problem?? And where the hell can you go for resources on HOW to do this diet correctly?? FRUSTRATED cause I’m not losing weight on conventional diets! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. I am diabetic. For years I followed a low or no fat diet, but that meant eating more carbs as a filler. The result was gaining weight and developing type 2 diabetes. I have since increased my activity, incorporated more extra virgin olive oil and fish into my diet, eliminating any processed carbs (all bread, cakes, etc.), eliminating all processed meats (all deli, sausage, etc.), eliminating beef, pork, and lamb (because they contain a chemical that when metabolized causes your body to create a carcinogen resulting in a higher probability that you will develop colorectal cancer). I have been able to come off of most of my diabetic medication, lose a few pounds, and the skin on my hands and feet are no longer dry and cracked and itchy.

    Omega-3 fats are incredibly essential to the body! This low-fat lifestyle is quickly failing all around the world!

  38. What I don’t get is how to get enough fat without my protein levels going way above the 94g that I’m supposed to get according to the calculations.If i understand correctly, extra protein turns to glucose in the body and that’s undesirable. According to the app i use for recording I’m regularly getting 120g-160g protein in a day.I’m generally active but not that much working out {got a baby so ltd time). I eat nose to tail. How much of a problem is this? Or is it if i keep carbs very low? I do love my veggies though.

  39. Still – what % of daily calories should be devoted to these good fats? Good read, and good points, but very lacking in specifics for daily planning. ???

  40. The skin is good one to look for… I’ve had dry elbows for years, the skin goes white when they’re really dry. The only thing that makes it go away is eating more fat, if I’m not eating enough they start drying out very quickly, it’s an easy way to make sure I’m eating enough fats. 🙂

  41. Agreed .
    With the era of technological advancements, long gone are the days when health was ignored and healthy living was a lifestyle of a chosen few.

  42. Mark I started keto 4 days ago and already really happy with it. One of your interview convinced me since I have IBS too. I tried many Diet I even starved myself. The pain in my knee has disappeared totally today.
    I wanted to thank you and the amount of work and research you did and provide.