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