The Skinny on Saturated Fat

With the recent announcement by Dr Oz that we should put butter in our coffee, and a TIME magazine cover saying we may have been wrong about fats, a subtle shift has begun to occur in mainstream dietary thinking.

The concept that saturated fats may not be the villainous life ending culprits we (doctors, dieticians, alphabet agencies etc) have been telling you has begun to get some traction.

Here is the actual skinny on this deal.

There has never been ANY solid evidence that saturated fats found in things like butter and red meat are bad for you. But there has been a 40 year “low fat diet” agenda that has rooted itself in the politics and bias of the American Medical System as well as Big Food.

It is ironic to me that my journey down this road has some very interesting parallels that I will get to in a minute but first a few stories.

1)      2 years ago I interviewed Dr. Staffan Lindeberg for the current telomere book I am working on.  Dr. Lindeberg lived and studied the last remaining true Paleo tribe on the planet, the Kitavans. His conclusions pointed solidly to our diet as the major cause of most of the diseases we associated with aging including heart disease and cancer. On page 177 of his book Food and Western Disease Dr Lindeberg correctly states that high consumption of lean meat including red meat does not increase heart disease. Similarly high cholesterol intake has a marginal effect on serum cholesterol and complete adherence to a low fat recommended diet can reduce serum cholesterol by about 3% at best. And yet for the past 40 years red meat has been vilified, saturated fats have been vilified and eating less cholesterol has been pounded into the medical and public consciousness. While all this was happening America and much of the Western world were getting fatter and fatter.  Dr. Steffan Lindeberg’s was written in 2010 long before Dr Oz or TIME magazine.

2)      I have written in great detail about my Paleo adventures 6 years back and my current ketogenic diet.  In both cases I was able to get very lean.  Maintaining a ketogenic diet or what you might call “ultra low carb” has far and away surpassed Paleo in fat loss. I should also add that while I was Paleo I was also running anywhere from 35 to 70 miles a week.  Now I am not bashing Paleo, I am just telling you what has happened in my life.  Keep in mind each of these diets has been far more sustainable than vegetarian or Vegan for me personally and has yielded much greater fat loss without concomitant loss of muscle mass.  Again not bashing any diet just telling you my own experience.

3)      The other day I was in line at the grocery store.  I watched a man and woman in front of me at check out. Both of them were less than 5 feet 5 inches and both HAD to be in excess of 250 pounds.  At least 70% of what they were buying said “low fat” on it.  Behind me was a mother with 3 children. They (mom and kids) were all morbidly obese.  Again they had carts full of “low fat” stuff.  The predominant theme for both sets of obese people was carbs, carbs and more carbs, punctuated by lots of “whole grain”. It was truly astounding.  Equally astounding was the fact that I had trouble finding high or normal fat content foods in this store.  Almost everything was “low fat”  I could not find  normal fat yogurt or any yogurt with less than 15 grams of carbs even the plain stuff.  The more fat they removed the more carbs they added.


My cart contained the following that day” extra virgin olive oil, no nitrate free range uncured bacon, free range ground chicken, a quart of heavy cream and 4% minimum milk fat cottage cheese, vanilla extract and cinnamon.  My few items towered over the lot of my neighbors in terms of fat content and yet I was by far the leanest person in the line, probably the whole store.  I will let you draw your own conclusions but one other thing: I have put 6 other people on the ketogenic diet. 5 of them have been able to adhere to it no problem and all 5 have lost a lot of weight in a short period of time.  The person who cannot or will not follow it cites inability to “eat all that fat” because of a decade of near vegetarianism.  She has not lost any weight on this diet!

4)       Ok I mentioned above that there were some parallels in the way I got started on this diet.  My initial and primary reason came after reading the book Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Dr Tom Seyfreid.  I was not interested in weight loss.  I weighed 203 and looked “ok” in my own estimation, never having come close to my max chubby weight of 236.  But after a week on the diet Dr Seyfreid described I lost 11 pounds and concluded that a cancer prevention or treatment diet was indeed doable unless the person was far gone.  After that I found the work of Phinney and Voleck who basically advanced the Adkins theories and the rest is history. I am now under 10% body fat and have lost about 30 pounds.  I look and feel better than I have in a long long time even though I have always considered myself to be feeling really good and looking OK.

In each of these resources, Seyfried and Phinney and Voleck I found so much evidence that politics and personal agendas set what the American public believes. I won’t name names but it boils down to a few very influential researchers and doctors who had a major vested interest in defending their views. Bullying and riding over anyone who questioned them set up the past 4o years of nonsense.

I know that eating fat to burn fat sounds very counterintuitive but that is what happens.  I will also tell you I believe that Vegan and Vegetarian diets can work as well.  How can this be?  How can 2 so very different routines one consisting of dairy, animal and vegetable fat and the other of mostly fruits vegetables and nuts yield the same result?

The answer is calorie reduction and insulin management.

People eating both high fat (60% or more as fat) and Vegan/Vegetarian diets have lower calorie consumption and lower insulin levels.

How can high fat be low calorie?  Try eating this much fat and watch your appetite disappear.

In about 2 weeks I should have my latest lipid profile for you so stay tuned!



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