A Primal Primer: Animal Fats


Animal fats have recently been implicated as the cause of heart disease, obesity and, in a roundabout convoluted stretch of logic, global warming. If you let health officials tell it, they’re pure evil. Reviled, shunned, and lambasted by the general public (thanks to less-then-sterling endorsements by health officials), animal fats have really gotten a bad rap.

It wasn’t always this way.

No, for hundreds of thousands of years, animal fats played a huge role in the human diet – whether it was Grok going straight for the fatty organs and tossing the lean muscle meat to the dogs, Prometheus making a meager sacrifice to the gods more appealing by draping it in swathes of fat, or Mom cooking with real butter instead of margarine. But you already knew that. I don’t have to sell you guys on the beauty of animal fat (after all, there was already quite a robust discussion taking place in the forums!), but the widespread societal backlash against animal fat means most of us don’t know everything we should about the stuff. For a lot of us, anything other than lard or butter is a mystery, and that’s a damn shame. There are tons of different varieties with many different uses, and we PBers need to be familiar with them all.


It has become part of the lexicon, used to describe the obese (“lard-ass,” “tub of lard,” “lard bucket,” etc. – we prefer “pail ‘o grains,” ourselves). For most people, merely mentioning it in a culinary context causes heart palpitations and shudders of revulsion. Fine by me: that just means more lard for us.

Lard is pig fat in both its rendered and unrendered form. The best lard is called leaf lard, and it comes from the fat deposits surrounding the kidneys and inside the loin. Leaf lard is “best” because it has little to no pork flavor, making it ideal for bakers (doesn’t really apply to us) and for general cooking. Next is fatback, which comes from the subcutaneous, thick fat deposits between the skin and the muscles of the pig. The cheapest is the soft membrane known as caul fat, which can be found wrapped around the internal organs. There’s also bacon grease, that delicious bacon-flavored lard that comes in handy when you’ve just fried up a platter of bacon and could really go for some eggs. If you’re not going to use it right away, don’t throw it out. Keep empty jars handy and just pour the hot grease in whenever you’re done. Store all your lard in the fridge, where it’ll avoid rancidity for months and be easily scoopable.

Whichever type of lard you choose, it can be used the same way you’d use butter. Stir fries, grilled steaks, fried eggs, and sautéed veggies are all delicious cooked in lard. Even if you don’t use leaf lard, the flavor is fairly mild, and the “porkiness” is minimal – if that sort of thing bothers you. Of course, the way you render your lard has an effect on the flavor. Dry-rendered lard (rendered without water, as if you were frying up bacon) tastes more porky, while wet-rendered lard (where the lard is rendered in water and skimmed off the top) is very mild.

The leaf lard from Flying Pigs Farm seems to get rave reviews online, and it can be shipped all over the country. Still, the farm’s located on the east coast, so unless you live nearby the shipping costs can get pretty prohibitive. You could just check out the local farmers’ market or the butcher shop. Pig fat is usually fairly cheap, and you can get a good amount of usable lard from a couple pounds of leaf or fatback. Don’t buy the cheap stuff in big tubs! It’s hydrogenated and full of trans-fats.

Lard is relatively stable, with good levels of saturated and monounsaturated fats.

Per 100 g (3.5 oz):

SFA: 39g
MUFA: 45g
PUFA: 11g

Poultry Fat

The holy trinity of poultry fats consists of chicken, duck, and goose. The concept of poultry fat is similar to lard; take the fatty portions of the bird and slowly render them until pure, unadulterated liquid fat is produced. Most foodies sing the praises of goose and duck fat, and for good reason: waterfowls, being relegated to the water, are generally loaded with fat for buoyancy and that makes for excellent eating. There’s more of it and what’s there is generally richer than fat rendered from a chicken. That said, there’s still a place in the kitchen for chicken fat. One popular iteration is schmaltz, which is poultry (usually chicken, but sometimes even pork) fat rendered with onions for flavor.

The public typically celebrates these fats for their potato-enhancing qualities, but I personally love using poultry fat as an incestuous accompaniment to roasted poultry. A bit rubbed on the bird before tossing it into the oven makes for crispy, delicious, fatty skin. Or if I ever do splurge on a sweet potato, I’ll usually fry it up in some poultry fat. Apples and pears are also good roasted in poultry fat; I prefer goose, but anything with wings and feathers will do.

Poultry fat is easy enough to find. I’ll sometimes ask the butcher for any extra skin he might have, and it’s usually incredibly affordable, much more so than lard. If your meat market processes skinless breast and thighs in-house, chances are they’ll have piles of poultry skin lying around too. You can probably even get organic, free-range skin for next-to-nothing. Goose and duck trimmings are far more rare and coveted, so you’ll have to pay extra for those – but believe me, it’s well worth the effort. And be sure to save the fat that naturally renders in the bottom of the pan when roasting a bird.

Store your poultry fat in the fridge for up to two months. It’s less stable than lard, but it probably won’t last long enough for you to find out.

Per 3.5 oz:

Goose fat
SFA: 28g
MUFA: 57g
PUFA: 11g

Duck fat
SFA: 33g
MUFA: 49g
PUFA: 13g

Chicken fat
SFA: 20g
MUFA: 45g
PUFA: 31g


Tallow refers to rendered beef (and sometimes lamb) fat. It comes from suet, which is the raw, hard raw fat of cows and sheep, usually surrounding the loins and kidneys. You don’t see tallow a whole lot; it’s high in saturated fat, which makes it easily demonized. In fact, McDonald’s used to fry their fries in real beef tallow until, in the name of “better health,” they were forced to use hydrogenated oils instead. We all know how that turned out.

To make really good tallow, you have to be patient. It’s a slow process, but it’s worth it. Good tallow is solid at room temperature and incredibly stable, so if you’re dead set on deep-frying something, you’ll want to use tallow. Tallow is relatively mild in flavor, so you can use it for just about any recipe that calls for fat. It’s particularly great for browning meat for stews, curries, and chili.

You may have to special order suet, simply because there isn’t much of a demand in most areas. Farmers’ markets are good options, as are butcher shops. Just go a few days in advance and place a special order to ensure it arrives in time. Eatwild is, of course, always a good source if y


ou can’t find it locally.

Per 3.5 oz:

SFA: 50g
MUFA: 42g
PUFA: 4g (grass fed, remember, will have a better Omega-3 profile)


Ghee is rendered butter with all milk proteins and solids removed. It is pure fat, and it can be treated like an oil when heated. Nuttier than butter, ghee is completely stable at room temperature, provided you keep it in an airtight container. Like butter, ghee is incredibly high in stable saturated fats, making it ideal for sautéed dishes and higher heats.

I use ghee to grill steaks and as a starter for my curries. Whole Foods sells a great ghee made from organic, free-range cow’s milk. It’s a little pricey, but you can reuse the container to store your other fats. Make sure the ghee you buy comes from pure butter, and butter alone; some brands combine vegetable oil with butter to make their ghee.

Per 3.5 oz:

SFA: 65g
MUFA: 32g
PUFA: 3g

Those are the basics – the ones most of us are going to be able to have on a regular basis. Animal fat has been unjustly demonized and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Hopefully, this cleared things up and made it a bit more accessible and understandable.

I’m interested in hearing about other types of rendered animal fat, though. If you have access to rendered moose fatback or emu kidney leaf fat, let us know about it in the comments!

EssG, thebittenword.com Flickr Photos (CC)


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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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113 thoughts on “A Primal Primer: Animal Fats”

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  1. Before I ever really understood how good fats can be I was always taught to drape chickens or turkeys with slices of bacon “to keep it from drying out.” I don’t know how much truth there is to that since I don’t do it anymore. It always felt like a waste of the bacon to cook it then have this bacon you have to eat right before you eat a giant meal, so instead one night I rubbed it with the bacon fat I had in the fridge. Talk about amazing! Even my husband raved about it. It makes it especially good for roasting other vegetables int he same pan since there’s more drippings to cook them in.

    I’ll have to try it with the duck fat I have in the fridge next time!

  2. I always keep my bacon fat – usually for baked brussel sprouts. Just melt the fat, toss the brussel sprouts in it with some salt and pepper, and bake in the oven until soft and browned. You’ll never go back to boiled brussel sprouts again!

  3. I love fatty cuts of meat, especially beef. Rib steaks are one of my favorites.

    People need to start realizing that saturated fat is essential to good health and that heart disease doesn’t result from it simply circulating in the blood stream.

    I personally prefer the taste of coconut oil over ghee, but use both. Ghee is an excellent butter replacement for people who are sensitive to dairy (even though butter is relatively safe anyway).

  4. To show my total Primal naivete, I always tossed the fats from cooking bacon…turkey…anything really. But no way! Not any more! Not gonna happen! Thanks for the enlightenment Mark!

  5. Great post! I knew all this anyway, having read Mary Enig’s Eat Fat, Lose Fat, but like any great story, it bears repeating. I love the fluffiness of eggs scrambled in Ghee (I use that brand from Whole Foods Mark mentioned). I also save my bacon fat each week (from the non-nitrate, non-cured bacon sold at Whole Foods) and use it for many things, including roast chicken. I’ll have to try baking Brussels sprouts as suggested by gcb. That sounds yummy! I also save the fat from my chicken and beef bone stocks. Coconut oil also gets heavy play in my kitchen.

  6. A favourite of mine since I was a teen is liver and onions cooked in bacon fat.

    A trick I learned recently from a chef I work with: when grilling very lean pieces of meat, such as elk, a pat of butter (or ghee) on top helps keep the meat from getting too dry and causes the flames to pop up & sear the outside of the meat. Delish!

  7. Mark,

    You didn’t mention it, but aren’t you referring to fats from animals not raised in a CAFO? Or do you not see a problem with using the fat from those animals?

  8. For those who are interested, making your own ghee from organic butter might be more cost-efficient than buying organic ghee [I don’t know what the price of the latter is, just that my mother makes ghee at home in large batches instead of buying it]

    Also, if you go to an Indian grocery, certain Indian brands that are imported are organic and free range, since a lot of them still do it the good ol’ fashioned way there. For example, Amul brand gets all of its milk from local farmers. They make butter, cheese, and ghee.

  9. After reading the the article, I just had one question. Although we know that Grok’s diet involved consuming large quantities of meat, the meat was much different than what we eat today. It actually had more protein than fat, and a larger proportion of its fat was polyunsaturated. Am I correct to assume that while grok ate a lot of meat, his overall fat intake was lower than the average American today?

    1. No. Grok tossed the lean meats to the dogs, while eating the fat where he could find it. Grok was also known to hunt the fatter animals.

      The fat balance is different. However I don’t think it is significant.

      1. Otzi, the Alpine iceman who died 5000 years ago and was frozen until recently when he was discovered and analyzed, spent nearly every day traversing up and down mountains hunting game. He had clogged arteries at 40ish.

        Animal fats are tasty but they will clog your arteries if you go overboard.

        1. You cite no source for either the supposition that Otzi had clogged arteries or the claim that he was a regular mountaineer. As a bonus, your logic assumes that Otzi–who was born well into the agricultural age–must have had clogged arteries because–rather in spite of–the fact that he ate animal fats.
          Yet another example of the poor reasoning skills which are a prerequisite for defenders of the lipid hypothesis.

        2. Otzi was decayed. Only bones, hair and clothing remained. I don’t see how they could ‘SEE’ that he had clogged arteries.
          Also, they found GRAIN residue (satchel). He was NOT paleo, he was already a man of the Neolithic era.
          I doubt he was hunting by himself large game on the top of a mountain during a time when FARMING and domestication of sheep, cows and rabbits were already present.

    2. From everything I have ever read about the life and diet of Grok, I have always been under the assumption that Grok did not eat large quantities of meat, except when he was able to catch a large animal, something that was not an everyday or even weekly occurrence. And when that did happen, the animal was shared with the tribe. Am I incorrect in thinking Grok ate mostly what he gathered; berries, nuts, fruits, insects and smaller animals?

      I am very new to Mark´s Daily Apple and until I received today´s post, I have been taking most everything with great interest and consideration. That is until the post titled “Why Eating Animals Makes Everything Easier”. I understand that as a vegetarian I am part of a minority and I have never tried to push my belief´s onto others. I don´t even like answering questions on the subject as they can often end in harsh disagreements, people get defensive and try to find holes in my thinking or justify their reasons for eating meat. But to say Grok ate large quantities of meat as a regular part of his diet does not correlate with historical facts, quite the opposite is true.

      I should point out that as a modern human with nutritional needs and as full of inconsistencies as the next man, I do eat cheese and eggs.

      Still I feel completely at odds with this line of Marks philosophy.

      1. It depends where Grok lived. The tropical Kitavans which my fellow Swede, professor Staffan Lindeberg have studied extensively, eat a majority of vegetables (and carbs). But try that in Sweden. Without organised agriculture, it is only possible to (barely) live off plants from midsummer to late September, so barely 3 months of the year. It’s no wonder that Julius Caesar wrote that the Germanic tribes he encountered in today’s Germany were famous for basically living off meat, fish, blood and milk. Historically, Vikings basically grew barley to make mead and get drunk, not to eat bread. Sweden didn’t have much of agriculture until Christianity and a more oppressive hierarchical society took hold in the 12th and 13th centuries. And this is also why Scandinavians always have been considered big and tall. Grains and agriculture that leads to short stature and bad health wasn’t introduced as staple foods until very late. Most lived off meat, fish and milk. And, still we do.

  10. Just a minor detail –
    you write that “Grok [was] going straight for the fatty organs and tossing the lean muscle meat to the dogs”.
    I just remembered Vilhjalmur Stefanssons Adventures in Diet (Harper’s, 1936) where he writes
    “We divided up the caribou Eskimo style, so the dogs got organs and entrails, hams, shoulders, and tenderloin, while the invalids, and we hunters got heads, briskets, ribs, pelvis and the marrow from the bones.”

    But I think this is in line with your main argument.

  11. Fantastic post, Mark. I was just making my ‘primal fat shopping list’ yesterday and chuckling at the fact that two years ago I would have recoiled in horror at the idea of buying bags of beef suet.

    A word of caution, though: I’d be careful about purchasing lard from Flying Farms if you consume it regularly; I recently asked them about the specifics of their pigs’ diets and was told that they’re fed primarily on conventionally-raised (read: GMO) corn and soy. Corn in moderate quantities can be alright for a pig’s digestive system since they’re monogastric, but soy’s still a metabolic disaster, not to mention the toxins the animal is ingesting from both… and most likely storing in its fat.

    And as we know, eating large amounts of soy and other grains skew the animal’s EFAs heavily towards Omega 6 and away from that 3 we’re all trying to get more of. It also increases the PUFA/MUFA percentage and makes the fat less stable and more prone to oxidation.

    If you’re going to jump for some mail-order lard, I’d highly suggest ordering from West Wind Farms, where the pork is all pastured and organic. Also, Craig over at Footsteps Farm is beginning to test-run his shipping system for selling pastured lard and it should be made available on his website soon.

    The Lard Lovers community is also a great place to stay on the lookout for producers/sellers of organic and/or pastured lard.

  12. Thanks for this great post, Mark. I have some suet and pork fat that need rendering in my freezer. Hopefully I can get to that task this weekend!
    I’m not sure what I’ll do with the beef tallow as I don’t do a lot of deep frying. (I got the fat for free) Anyone have more suggestions for beef tallow uses?

    1. Oh girl. Mushrooms. Amazing. I hope you’re still subscribed to this post.

  13. When I started the strict paleo diet it took my bod a good while to totally switch over to fat/oil burning. I’d warn anyone not totally “switched over” not to go heavy on fats. For me at least, it took weeks to achieve “Grok-dom.” As I’ve heard, anyone who is doing big carbs, daily stress, and big fat is asking for big trouble. All in all, stay clear of saturated animal grease until you’re really a certified Grok fat/oil burner.

    1. Fat malabsorption is typically a symptom of something else, like Celiac disease.

    2. But why do you say “big carbs” AND “big fat”? I mean, if you’re switching, isn’t the focus high protein, low carbs, no grains, plus fat for satiety?

      So a person who does big carbs AND big fat is just kidding themselves and looking for an excuse to gorge on bacon… a person who is going primal would cut out a huge amount of carbs at the same time they’d start eating more fat, right?

      And of course it would take a good while to totally switch over if you’re still eating “big carbs”… am I missing part of your comment?

  14. I grew up in the South. My grandparents and parents all had a big jar that they’d pour off the grease from cooking breakfast in the morning to be used for the dinner or frying whatever. I guess the only change is I’ll store mine in the fridge instead of next to the stove now!

    1. No need to refrigerate the fat. Sat fat is very stable and you will be using it later in the day anyway, right? Grok did not have a refrigerator….

  15. That helps a lot Mark! I cook with most of these, and yet I didn’t know exactly what lard was (aside from “pork fat” that comes in a tub from the market that is super handy in the kitchen) and I actually knew the least about tallow.

    1. As I’ve been told, good animals that have been raised on good, natural diets have the proper balance of Omega 3, 6, and 9. Factory ag animals typically do not and have way too much “bad fat.” Still, unless you’re switched over to paleo-primal and have gotten totally efficient at fat burning, I’d stay clear of all animal fats. I’m sure saturated animal fat that isn’t being utilized by a “switched over” body is eventually bad and leads to arteriosclerosis — just like the medical world has been saying. What they haven’t figured out (or don’t want to figure out) is that carbs that don’t get immediately used go straight to bad cholesterol and are stored as flab.

      As far as what I mean by “switched over,” it took me “a while” (two weeks or more?) of being “intentional” carb-free (besides “incidental” carbs) to be able to run on fats and oils efficiently. At least for me, I could not cheat without confusing my burner on what exactly we were using for fuel. My bod (maybe you’re different) could not be “mixed fueled.”

      1. How could you tell that your body was “confused” about the type of fuel it was burning?

        1. Very simple: I’d have started the paleo-primal diet … and I’d be totally without energy, barely able to move! Obviously, my bod was not used to using fat; it was still calibrated to use carbs and wondered where they’d gone. At least for me, I had to be very purist about paleo-primal for my “burner” to switch over and work properly. I couldn’t “misfuel” (back and forth, on-off carbs) and expect my bod to use fat-oil as its main source.

      2. I think you’re “mixed up” in your mind as well. Your body will burn what it can get to more easily in spite of what you think about.

  16. There is no snack more delicious than chicken skins fried to a crisp then salted. (Thanks to Dana Carpender for this suggestion.)

    1. Isn’t there an oxidation problem when you fried chicken skin to a crisp?

  17. I also love cooking with deer/elk tallow or even beaver tallow for certain things (they have a definitely flavor that works great in tomato type dishes, the best chili EVER is made with beaver meat and tallow) as well.

  18. Mark, that’s interesting what you say about throwing the meat to the dogs and going straight for the organs. This is exactly how Weston Price describes the practices of modern natives (well, modern in the 1920s) in the Canadian Rockies in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

    1. I love that Weston Price (and his modern day troubadours) are referred to on this site, and in the comments. Much can be learned from his original work and the writings of Eng and Fallon-Morell.
      I began eating according to the Weston A. Price principles about 5 months before I conceived twins, and had a very healthy pregnancy. When I began eating more red meat and fat, and less grains, my menstrual cycle changed. After almost a decade of very little red meat, and mostly grains my periods were very light, consisting of brown fluid. Sorry gang to be descriptive on this matter, but I want to share in case other women are experiencing the same. After 1 month of consuming grass fed beef, with the fat my period was restored to its original glory (a heavier flow, and red blood). I don’t know what made the difference, but it allowed me to conceive on our very first try. As a 35 year old woman, I was expecting it would take months.

      I delivered the babies the old fashioned way (no knife) with very few labor pains which were mild and only started when I reached 8cm. Weston Price wrote of women in traditional societies who also had easy child births. For this to happen with twins- carried to term – is a testament to his findings. One twin was 6lbs 15 oz and the other was 6 lbs 2 oz. Not too shabby for twins.

      I ate 4 pastured eggs a day and pastured meat for breakfast every day. Often I would eat liver as my breakfast meat. I consumed a lot of pasture butter, and ate grass fed red meat everyday, with the fat. I ate very few carbs, but when I did it was mostly soaked whole grains. I did have some chocolate from time to time. I did not drink raw milk, as recommended, because I do not care for milk. But, I did eat raw cheese.

      I believe that the Paleo diet and even the Weston A. Price diet are remarkable for pregnancy (and preconception), and I recommend it highly. I believe that so many of our modern interventions for gestation and labor/delivery can be avoided with proper diet… including fat!

      I have been wondering something for a while. Eng and Fallon-Morell talk about fermenting grains and legumes to reduce the phytic acid. We eat a lot of beans in my home (we haven’t gone paleo yet), and do soak them with yogurt or homemade whey for fermentation. Does this process make them more compatible with the Paleo plan or not? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

      1. Your period changed because you’ve probably stopped contraception pills, as you wanted to concieve? I don’t eat red meat and I ate grains and my periods were and are normal, but I dont take the pill, and at age 32 I also conceived at first time.
        liver is not good in pregnancy it has too much of vit A.

  19. I’m still not sure where one would choose animal fat over olive or coconut oil for cooking. I’m not baking anything, so I’m just thinking about sauteing or frying meat and veg. What sort of dish would you chose animal fat over olive or coconut oil for?

  20. Hey Mark. Am enjoying becoming more regular visits to your blog after keeping you in the nether-regions of Google Reader for the past year or so!

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on organic vs conventional fats? I’m pretty careful to stay away from conventional animal fat due to the high toxicity that is inherent, and the fact that I don’t want those toxins filling up my fat cells!

    When it comes to organic meats and fats, bring it on .. I guess it just means a bit of censorship on those occasions when out for dinner.

    Would be interested to know your take on this.

  21. Be very careful pouring hot grease into jars, got a nasty burn like that once. Also the jar can break if the grease is too hot.

  22. Hi, everyone I just rendered my own cooking fat from honeycomb fat (tallow from the kidneys) of a grass-fed, grass-finished cow (via my kocal greenmarket here in NYC). It’s awesome!

  23. I also cooked eggs in duck fat for the first time this week. Also awesome. I’ll never go back to veggie oils. I quit those a while ago, actually. Trying to decide if I’ll continue using the leftover macadamia nut oil I still have. (It’s a good cooking oil and tolerant of high temps.)

    1. Rahsaan, use that macadamia nut oil on your skin. Your skin will love you!

  24. Ah, thanks for clearing up the idfferences between fats. I pretty much understood them, but now they’re really clear. I definitely feel that it’s important to include meat fats in the diet, and do so with great relish (thanking the animal, of course).

  25. Iris,

    Thanks for the recommendation. I added the mac nut oil to my total body (haed to toe) moisturizer mix that I make myself (unrefined shea butter, unrefined cocoa butter, jojoba oli, coconut oil and sweet almond oil). the mac nut went in perfectly.

    From now on though, I’ll be cooking exclusively with animal fats!

  26. As far as I understand saturated fats indirectly can lead to heart disease. LDL consists of proteins which carry cholesterol and fat because Lipids are insoluble in water which is what most of the blood is made up of. When a person its lots of saturated fats the LDL cholesterol concentration increases in the blood stream. LDL carries cholesterol away (emphasis on “away”) from the liver.

    When there is too much LDl in the blood stream then too much cholesterol is taken from the liver and then the receptors around the body which recieve the cholesterol descrease in activity.
    This decrease in activity from the recepetors means that LDL remains in the blood stream and is eventually deposited in the artery walls. this leads to the formation of artheromas and ergo heart disease.

    thats was from memory because i can’t be arsed to go and find my books.

    anyway. My point was that eating too many (emphasis on “too many”) animal fats, which have a high concentration of cholesterol, can inadvertently lead to heart disease.

    Therefore it is safe to eat a high ammount of animal fats only if there is a factor of the diet which increases the ammount HDL concentration in the blood (to take cholesterol to the liver to be broken down).

    This post was mainly to help my biology.

    1. Mercola has an article about cholesterol that I found interesting. He basically said don’t worry about your LDL number, that it was the ratio of LDL:HDL that mattered. One offset the other. So even if your LDL was “high” according to mainstream medical advice, if it was incorrect proportion with the HDL you were okay.

  27. George is technically correct WITHIN the context of a high carbohydrate intake. Without that high carb input and the high insulin levels needed to deal with it, and the high level of triglycerides, saturated fat is metabolised differently. More of it goes towards HDL, and although the LDL may well also increase the particle size is larger and the particle numbers smaller, hence less lipoprotein (a).

    This is only one of a bunch of factors that change, and alter the danger of the LDL.

    This paper is currently being touted as another reason to avoid sat fats


    it costs to see the details, but here’s an earlier study which is free to access


    spot Table 3, these guys were eating around 300g carbs a day so obviously when they got pancreatic cancer it had to be the fats.

    Now I may be wrong but I strongly suspect, as with so many other conditions. in the absence of such toxic levels of carbs the sat fats would not be a factor. Otherwise Grok would have died out generations ago instead of waiting until the 20th Century

    “Therefore it is safe to eat a high ammount of animal fats only if there is a factor of the diet which increases the ammount HDL concentration in the blood (to take cholesterol to the liver to be broken down)”

    That factor is an anatomically correct quantity of carbs

    1. What about meat increasing the risk of cancer and say wholemeal bread, carbohydrate, which lowers the risk of cancer?

      In Britain (I don’t the figures elsewhere)35% of people are getting too much of their daily energy intake from fat. (Cancer Research UK.

      Studies have linked higher intakes of animal fat with an increased risk of breast cancer.

      Red and processed meats have also been strongly linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer.

  28. “Red and processed meats have also been strongly linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer.”

    That’s old conventional wisdom based on anecdotal evidence rather than pure science. The latest findings show vegetarians have the highest rates of colon cancer.

    1. doesn’t sound too good for me being a vegetarian.

      now before people start lecturing me about meat (I realise this is probably the worst place to say I’m vegetarian), I am vegetarian for slightly peculiar reasons.

      1. Don’t worry about being a vegetarian, George! I, & many others who frequent this blog/site have made “the switch”. I was vegetarian for over 10 yrs. But everything here that I’ve read just makes too much sense. So I “eased” back in to omnivourism. You may or may not choose to eat meat, but whatever you decide try & stay away from fake food. You will thank yourself sooner than you think! Stay away from fake dairy, fake meat, fat-free, hard-to-pronounce ingredients, etc. None of us here are out to lecture you or anyone else – we are here to help, inform, share with, encourage, & befriend each other.

        1. I’m personally a vegetarian because of the way in which animals are bred for slaughter.

          I certainly think that having chickens in cages and machines that kill them is not primal.

          My vegetarian policy is that if you catch it yourself then you can eat it.

          Thanks for your reply. I’m considering farming my own animals but lack the land and the money. Why should I avoid the fake meats like Quorn and Tofu etc.?

  29. I LOVED Quorn, especially in the UK where there are way more flavours available. search this site for “soy”, etc & read about “fake meat”. Plus read the ingredients of what you’re eating. I found out that alot of what I was eating was wheat gluten.

    I agree whole-heartedly with your reasons for obstaining from meat as they are very similar to mine. I tend to stick to wild-caught fish, local eggs, & small-farm fowl & meat. I’ll next be looking in to cow-sharing (or something like that). I am fortunate that even though I live in a small town, we have a local produce farmer & she has started a farmer’s market in the summers. A nearby bison farmer sells his products there & I have started to buy from him.

    Keep researching! and keep questioning…

    1. Again there’s a world of difference between meat from animals stuffed with grain, with lousy lipids and poor fats, and shot full of hormones and antibiotics, and meat from free living grass fed animals which need minimal medical intervention, and once again the “research” takes little notice of the high level of carbs and the quality of diet as a whole.

      Processed meatlike substances may be an indicator of a diet with toxic levels of carbs and chemical flavourings and a lack of vegetables. Real Meat may be an indicator of a diet containing high levels of nutritious foods, yet the “research” makes no distinction.

      I agree about the “factory farming” fortunately so does my butcher, I can actually see the animals I’m about to eat in their natural habitat since he will tell me which farms he sources from.

      1. Thanks for all of your replies.

        I think I will continue to be a vegetarian for the reasons I mentioned and for environmental reasons too.

        However I have started eating more eggs.

        what do you think?


        1. George, eggs sound like a good idea. I recommend you read Lierre Keith’s book “The Vegetarian Myth”. It will give you a lot to think about, if only food for thought. Lierre Keith was a long time vegan, and she very personally understands the reasons people choose to be vegetarian/vegan. You may find her a kindred spirit. Good luck!

    2. Be very careful of meat substitutes. There is a growing body of evidence for mycoprotein’s anaphylactic potential – https://cspinet.org/new/201112011.html
      I used to like Quorn (made from mycoprotein) as well, but on about the 4th or 5th time I ate it I started feeling quite strange afterwards. Didn’t think much of it til the next time I ate it – half hour after consuming I was so violently ill I thought I’d been poisoned. I’ve had a terrible case of Salmonella before, and THIS was way worse. I was spaced out, had trouble with my motor skills, retching so violently I couldn’t breathe, nearly asphyxiated on my own vomit. And I’ve gotta say, the stuff I thew up was the most toxic smelling “organic” thing I’ve ever encountered. I couldn’t remember the URL for it but there’s an organisation campaigning for food labelling of this risk for mycoproteins. It’s something like one in 116,000 people who have a reaction.
      I had tried to move away from meats because of ethical reasons, but this just cemented the notion for me that lab-created things are not food and should not be eaten by humans. It doesn’t exist naturally so chances are mycoproteins are not good. Plus it’s only a new development in food technology so we have NO idea what the long-term implications of this in the diet might be.

  30. i managed to get a huge slab (3 kgs! – which I had to lug back on the train home along with a couple of kilos meat and raw milk) of WATER BUFFALO FAT. Most is in the freezer, but i rendered some today. It has a unique flavour – much tastier than beef fat which i find tasteless

  31. Great insight on the harms and different effects animal fat have when consumed. This is the primary reason I would recommend sticking with La Cense Beef to their organic preperation. Also, check out some great Organic beef recipes too.

  32. Mark, you may have seen this new global campaign to ban butter. The campaign comes from Unilever, the company that makes fake butter products like Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

    I’ve posted a little about it on my blog, blogsthatmakemethink.blogspot.com

    1. That is ridiculous. Just like the banning of raw almonds and raw milk…

  33. I’ve been eating fats since I was little and I look younger than I am, I am the perfect weight for my height. My family has a history of high cholesterol so I’m going to get tested. I have a very good feeling that I am just fine.
    It was funny to see my family preaching to me that I eat to much saturated fats while there is a tub of Cool Whip and margarine on the table in there house.

    I rarely eat flour products or sugar. I pretty much eat veggies(some juiced) and fatty meat. I think the more natural animal fats you eat, the less sugar you want…

  34. I know I was surprised to find that
    -refried beans have lard in them usually.
    -Salad dressing usually have alot of saturated fats.
    Of course Milk :p

    I don’t know about other “hidden” saturated fats in regular foods as pretty much everything is made with canola/soy/cotton see oil sadly. I just just have to look at the saturated part of the label.

    1. Actually commercial salad dressings have little saturated fat. Primarily they have soybean oil.

  35. “only if there is a factor of the diet which increases the ammount HDL concentration in the blood”

    Just curious
    What factor is that in this diet?
    Would it be just the cutting out of processed carbs/breads?

  36. This post makes me sad, hungry and then a little happy.
    Sad because for years I didn’t listen to my own basic instincts- I LOVE animal fats. But CW told me that they were bad so I switched to veg fats and high carb diet which left me fat, depressed and my hormone levels all f**ed up.
    I’m a little happy to know that my instincts weren’t off, I wasn’t just being a pig and now I can go make some eggs in my leftover rendered wild boar bacon fat and enjoy them knowing that I’m not just being self indulgent!

  37. Hi Mark,

    I rendered my own chicken fat last night, and it solidified into two layers – the bottom layer, a jiggly (jello-like) translucent, darker color (as in your picture, above) and the top layer, a solid whitish layer, that looks more like the beef tallow. Are both parts good for cooking, and what is the difference?

  38. @Ashly, the top part is the cooking fat. The “jelly” stuff is awesome for soups and what not. It’s basically chicken stock. It’s jiggly because it’s protein from the bone marrow and joints and will melt into awesome flavor for just about everything!

  39. I think you have to consider your amount of physical activity to how much you eat and how you well burn it.Old farmers ate a lot of food(cooked in lard)yet a lot of them lived to be old men,but they worked hard and burned calories.

  40. I think you make an excellent point, Kapie – I’ve put on some weight since switching to this diet, and I think it has to do with this sort of thing – I need to be more careful!

  41. Okay, I’m confused. In the bone broth thread it said to toss out the poultry/chicken fat but here you use it?

    What’s the difference between poultry fat that has been low simmered as in broth and fat that is cooked on high heat?

    Am I missing something? Did I misread?


  42. It’s funny, reading this brought a memory back of my aunt constantly using bacon fat when cooking while I was growing up. I wonder, did she know she was doing her body good?

  43. I am assuming that the author is Black American from the south. Only a Black person from the south could answer this question. I would like to know the appointed name of a grease made from hog boiling used to grease the body and was good for ashy skin.

  44. Hey – I’m a pretty avid omnimore, whole grains included (I don’t seem to have these crazy grain issues others seem to have, refined anything sucks).

    My problem is, however, that I just find many animal fats gross to eat, especially mammalian fats like lard and tallow. When I eat something high in these fats i feel like I’m going to throw up. I don’t really have this problem with high fat fish or poultry cuts. Does anyone else seem to have this problem, or am I the only PB reader that can’t hold down high amounts of saturated fats? ugh, i just gagged thinking about non-burned-to-a-crisp bacon.

    1. I agree! I have a hard time mentally eating chewy, jiggly animal fats. the thought makes me ill.

  45. I didn’t know you could use bacon fat for frying another time. Sad now about all that bacon fat going to waste so have started collecting it. Looking forward to frying my eggs in it. I have found goose fat to be the best for plain eggs so far and butter the best for scrambled eggs (an double cream for a lovely wholesome taste). Am gonna try dripping next as goose fat is really expensive here in the UK and not every where sells it.

  46. one of my favorite things is chicken fat on a toasted garlic bagel. It is the only thing to make garlic bread with! A buddy of mine used to chide me for eating that. it turns out, he died from not taking care of his diabetes! High fat diets are not neccessarily bad. However, if you are going to eat like a coal miner, you better be mining coal!

  47. Read Susan Allport’s amazing book “The Queen of Fats” which explains among other things our transformation to a seed based feed diet for livestock and why that is causing an omega three deficiency in humans. Grok killed buffalo that were grass fed. Now we feed cattle corn.

  48. OK, Wulf and Beebop –

    There is a good source of detailed info (including dietary analysis based on stomach and intestinal contents) on Otzi online:


    Here’s my own brief (sketchy) synopsis based on the details and the current thinking about Otzi:

    Otzi was about mid 40’s and was likely a shepherd who spent most of his time walking hilly terrain. His diet had a significant level of carbs, including grains. The meat he ate was lean. He had extensive dental caries and advanced periodontal disease – likely a result of carb consumption. He had genetic markers for atherosclerosis. He had compromised immune system and had several periods of illness in the year prior to his death. He had a chronic case of Lyme’s disease. He had degenerative spinal and joint issues.

  49. I have been getting beef suet from our local butcher (who processes only naturally raised animals) for a few months now. I render it, pour it by the quarter cup into my donut pan. Then I pop it out and keep it until I need it. I use it to make tortillas – they turn out way better with tallow than butter.

  50. I love the taste and texture of grass-fed mutton and goat fat. It is quite “gamey”, almost “fishy” tasting, some people may be put off by that taste but I love it.

    And I do remember when McDonald’s and other fast food places cooked their fries in beef fat, they were so good back then!

  51. I live in New Zealand, and have been able to buy cold rendered beef dripping. I use it for roasting and it is lovely. My question is, is it advisable to use the fat from the roasting tray after roasting? In the old days it was poured into a dish and kept! Is it ok to cook with again, and if so how long can it be kept in the fridge ? Thanks.

  52. Thank you for all the great information. I always use the fat that I get from making broth for cooking, but recently, I realized that fats and oxidize, not only from exposure high heat, but also from extended cooking time. I noticed that when I added some left over shrimp heads and shells along with the rest of the carcasses from chicken and marrow bones to make a soup stock, that it initially tasted great when I tested it a few hours into the brew, but when I left the broth to simmer the rest of the day, the broth had developed an off taste. I think perhaps the Omega3s from the shrimp heads had oxidized. As I paid more attention to the quality of each batch of broth that I made, I noticed that if I left a meat stock on the slow cooker for 24 hours, there would already a slight smell of rancidity. So, my question is, how long does it take for the different fats, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp and fish to oxidize when left to simmer, or is it better just to skim off the oil immediately as it floats to the surface?

  53. If the fat isnt from organic, grass fed beef/ free roaming chickens, etc, is it still good for you?

    I have fat sitting here from two conventional chickens thst I made soup out of and the conventional store bought corned beef I made today.

    Should I throw it out?

  54. Are you in a position to manual me personally on your website owner or person who takes care of your website, I have to determine if it would be possible to be a visitor poster.

  55. Thanks for the post on fats. I’m recently obsessed with making my own chocolate. I’ve been using coconut oil, but it melts around 74 degrees which means chocolate fingers when you eat it. I’m wondering whether leaf lard or tallow would be a better solution. Thoughts?

    1. Guess you could be a traditionalist and use cocoa butter 🙂

      Actually its fat profile is probably still pretty acceptable by Primal standards, it’s mostly saturated and monounsaturated fat.

  56. I use ghee on a lot of things. I do not eat that much bacon, but I cook alot with bacon grease. I don’t even save my bacon grease from cooking it anymore. I just buy it from amazon. Or you can google hot belly bacon grease and go straight to the site. Some things are better with ghee, and some things are better with bacon grease. Sometimes I use a little of both. Great for the palio diet.

  57. I came upon something quite by accident. I bake my bacon in the oven. I have experiemented with various temps to cook the bacon. I was experimenting with the cooking temperature to reduce all the burnt particles in the grease. The other day, I tried cooking it at 300F versus the usual 350 – 400. I was shocked at the grease I obtained.. it spelled like veggie oil, did not become a solid white and even in the fridge, is not completely solid, and has a yellowish color, not white… and of course, no burnt “crumbles” from the bacon.

    Is it possible that this is also better for you than the “burnt” grease that one normally gets from bacon??

  58. Great blog here! Also your web site loads up fast! What host
    are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  59. Does anyone know where to get pure rendered lard or tallow without antibiotics, hormones, or other added chemicals in Alameda, CA?

  60. I just posed this on another website. If fat holds toxins, in both humans and in animals, why does it matter if the cow is grass fed or corn fed? Aren’t there toxins stored in both grass fed fat and grain fed fat? I understand all the arguments about why grass fed beef is so much healthier, but there’s more to it than just that. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. I left out one part… I’m talking about eating the fat and not just the meat. I’ve heard the arguments that eating the fat is very healthy in grass fed beef. That ties into my question above. Why wouldn’t the toxins in grass fed beef be healthy to eat given toxins are stored in fat in general (if true).

  61. Is the fat that develops when I make beef bone broth a form of tallow or something else?

  62. I have switched so much of my cooking from butter to tallow… beef and lamb and I gotta say it’s a game changer. I am more satisfied for one thing and the flavor is out of this world. I recently switched from chicken eggs to duck eggs and WILL NEVER GO BACK. But I love chicken. I will ask my butcher for chicken skin. Never even considered that . This primal thing is just so versatile . Thanks for the info, mark!!!

  63. My sister sent me this from a local farm in Wales in UK and I thought people might be interested:
    “ So we made a discovery today. We have been ” harvesting” our 100% grass fed literally wild geese. They have never eaten anything else than grass from our unfertilised fields. Haven’t had any medication. Kept outside at all times. So the discovery is, this is how rendered goose fat suppose to look like at around 5 degrees Celsius. Not solid, as liquid as oil would be. So the whitish fat for sale is from grain fed geese, makes us realise we have never even seen healthy goose fat in our lives as we thought there was something wrong with it ? it’s just a bit shocking really, so guys please be aware where you are sourcing your meat from. The difference between this fat and the solid white shop fat is that this fat contains much less saturated fat and much more omega 3. This fat is actually good for you. We now know why everyone says fat is bad, because the stuff from the shop is bad. This picture was taken outside on a cloudy day, hasn’t been enhanced at all. Feel free to share”.
    (Couldn’t attach photo but it looks like cloudy olive oil!)

  64. If you have ApoE4, you will have to replace a lot of your animal fats with avocado and olive oils and keep butter and coconut oil to a bare minimum because the ApoE4 gene cannot safely process saturated fat when eaten as the main source of fat.