Big ‘FAT’ Blog Post – Part 1

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Fatt – in the minds of many it’s a four letter word (that’s why there’s the extra ‘t’…).  We’ve been told that eating too much fat will result in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc.  There are said to be ‘good fats’ and ‘bad fats’ – but which is which and does it really matter?  Look around the grocery store and you see low fat this and fat free that.  They even make ‘fat free’ fat – check out the margarine section and the peanut butter shelves…  With such strong anti-fat messages it’s hard not to get caught up in all the hype.  The tides are slowly turning and the message that fat is evil is being brought down piece by piece, but that leaves a lot of questions and controversy.  Is all fat good, even saturated fat?  What’s the deal with omega-3’s, and what the heck is a medium chain triglyceride?  It’s hard not to be confused!  To help end the mystery the Paleo Dietitians are going to answer some Big “Fat” questions.  This is part one of a three part “Big Fat Blog Post” series – be sure to come back next week for part two!

Question #1 – Answered by – Stephanie Greunke, RD

If saturated fat is supposed to clog your arteries when you consume it, then how exactly does it do this?  And if it doesn’t, then why has that message been so heavily hammered down our throats for the past decade?

Answer:

“Artery-clogging saturated fat.”  You see those words smoothly strung together throughout almost every piece of health literature and yet, what evidence does that truly play upon?  Those words get to me almost as much as the “healthy whole grains” that is stamped all over food packages and advertisements.

This is a great question and is the cause of a lot of controversy within the Paleo realm.  While there are certainly some Paleo folks out there that still maintain that  saturated fat may increase LDL plasma levels, resulting in possible cardiovascular disease, many Paleo advocates have adjusted their mindset more in favor of saturated fat, provided a few other variables are in order.  Those who are not so enthused by saturated fats will most likely agree that saturated fat is not as big of a demon when one is consuming lean meats and adjusting other dietary and lifestyle factors to ultimately decrease systemic inflammation.

The kicker with saturated fat is whether or not the LDL cholesterol is oxidized or not.  The “artery-clogging” plaque production is mediated by oxidized LDL.  The oxidized LDL then goes through a process where it becomes a fibrous cap.  If this fibrous cap gets broken down by, you guessed it – lectins and chronic inflammation, that’s when the ischemic events take place.  So what should really be our goal?  Reducing inflammation through a clean, Paleo diet, abstaining from smoking and excessive exercise, minimizing alcohol consumption, and engaging in stress-lowering habits.  When these variables are in order, we do not need to be so caught up with saturated fats.

Our blood vessels can become damaged in a number of ways (free radicals, viruses, structural weakness, lectins, glycemic load, sleep, stress, immune response), so the evidence that the LDL plasma levels are increased mainly by saturated fatty acids must be taken with a grain of salt.  The universal advice to switch to wild meat sources emphasizes not only a lower amount of saturated fat, but also a favorable n-6:n-3 ratio.

So where did all of this madness and mind-washing about saturated fat come from?  Look no further than to the infamous Ancel Keys and his Seven Countries Study*.  While seven countries saw an increase in heart disease cases that corresponded with increased fat consumption (hence the name of the study), he “accidently” left out some very important details about the other fifteen countries so the evidence was in his favor.  The study is ultimately a correlation, not a causation, but the outcome of the study became mainstream and was warmly accepted into the scientific community.  Since no other well-designed studies can support the Lipid Hypothesis and any studies that do not support it get rejected and disregarded for credibility, we all stand here today reading about “artery-clogging” saturated fat day in and day out

Question #2 – Answered by – Elizabeth Legg MS, RD

Is the omega-3:omega-6 ratio overstated?

Answer:

Many features of a Paleo diet come together to support our genetic profile, allowing our bodies to maintain health.   One such feature is the balance between omega 3 (n-3) and omega6 (n-6) fatty acids.  Studies indicate our ancestral ratios of n-3:n-6 fatty acids were close to 1:1 as compared to modern Western diets which are close to 1:10.  Our modern Western diet is deficient in n-3’s and excessive in n-6’s (in other words, our ratio is way off).  This departure from our ancestral balance is fueling health problems from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, to certain psychiatric disorders like depression.  The importance of this balance gets very complex and involves many signaling molecules (eicosanoids) that are derived from n-6 and n-3 fatty acids.  With current modern ratios (heavy on the n-6, light on the n-3) the cascade flows toward an inflammatory profile.  So, is the importance of the n-3:n-6 ratio overstated?  Heck no!  We need to be aware in order to make a conscious effort to tip the scale in the other direction.  If we focus only on getting more polyunsaturated fatty acids in general (as is recommended by many practitioners), we’ll still be fueling the fire.  Seeking out grass fed or wild caught meats, wild caught fish, n-3 enriched eggs, and supplementing with some fish oil doesn’t just happen without some thought and conscious effort.  Educate yourself a bit on the essential fatty acid balance and how it fits into the bigger picture.  If you haven’t already, read Robb’s book or surf the net for some credible research or general information on the physiological tasks of these essential fatty acids.

Question #3 – Answered by – Amy Kubal MS, RD

Are medium chain fatty acids really better for you and why?

Answer:

Let’s tackle this one by first defining what a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) is.  MCT’s are 6-12 carbon fatty acids.  Due to their chain length they more closely resemble carbohydrates than fat.  These intermediate length triglycerides do not require breakdown or energy to be absorbed into the portal system and metabolized for fuel.  Contrarily, long chain triglycerides (LCT’s) require bile acids, energy, and numerous steps to be digested and made available for use.   MCT’s are naturally present in milk fat, coconut oil (66% MCT’s), and palm oil.  From an energy standpoint MCT’s provide approximately 8.3 calories per gram while LCT’s provide 9 calories/gram.

Are MCT’s good for us?  The simple answer is yes.  MCT’s have many potential uses and benefits.  Due to their rapid absorption and metabolism MCT’s are quickly converted to energy for use by the muscles and organs.  This decreases the likelihood of their being stored as fat.  Additionally, they are frequently used in enteral and parenteral nutrition formulas for the critically ill; as they are easily absorbed and may enhance immunity.  MCT’s are especially useful in treatment of diseases and conditions that result in impaired lipid metabolism including: celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, enteritis, malabsorption, and cirrhosis to name a few.

That’s not all!   MCT’s have a slight hypoglycemic (blood sugar reducing) effect, are useful in epilepsy treatment as part of a ketogenic diet, may prevent atherosclerosis, stimulate thermogenisis (fat burning), and act as antioxidants.  Many endurance athletes find MCT’s performance enhancing as they provide quick energy without the insulin spiking effect of carbohydrates.  Compared to carbohydrates MCT’s are a more efficient source of fuel.  Additionally, they prevent muscle breakdown and conserve lean body mass.

Should you abandon all other fats for MCT’s?  No!  While they are useful, it is possible to get too much of a good thing!  High MCT consumption may result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and an upset stomach.  Be smart and balance your fat intake incorporating a combination of very long chain omega-3 fatty acids, MCT’s, some saturated fat, and a minimal amount of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

 

Big ‘FAT’ Blog Post Part 2 >

 

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  1. Thrive Lancaster
    August 3, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Thanks for the fat post. If it were not for fats, I don’t know how I would be able to get enough daily calories.

  2. Ulla Lauridsen
    August 3, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Please, this doesn’t get me anywhere, not being af biochemist.
    Which fats should I eat? And which should I never eat? Please name them like this: Butter, fat from poultry, fat from lambs, pig fat, olive oil, corn oil etc. – thanks!

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Animal fat is going to trump vegetable oils everyday of the week and twice on Sunday! As far as cooking oils – coconut is your best bet, olive is okay – but has a lower smoke point which changes its composition. Bottom line – don’t be afraid of fat. Fat from grass-fed, pastured animals (and butter made from the milk of these animals), coconut, and olive oil are all good. Emphasize omega-3 fats (from wild caught fatty fish and grass-fed meat) and limit omega-6’s (vegetable oils, processed foods, traditional meats, etc.) Also, please read the fat posts during the next two weeks to help clarify even further!

      • Alex
        August 5, 2011 at 11:50 pm

        When you say limit omega-6’s from traditional meats I’m assuming you mean dark meat poultry and turkey? I was under the impression conventional beef doesn’t actually have more omega-6’s than grass-fed, just less omega-3’s. Also nuts can tip the omega-6 scale as well.

        • Amy Kubal
          August 6, 2011 at 7:33 am

          Alex – just do your best to get the highest quality meat you can – if you can’t swing the grass-fed choose the lean cuts and don’t sweat it!!

          • Alex
            August 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm

            Thanks. Can you clarify if conventional beef actually has more omega-6’s than grass-fed or just less omega-3’s?

          • Amy Kubal
            August 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm

            Stay tuned for the answer in one of the next 2 installments of the post!

      • bernard
        April 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

        Thank you so much Amy… You just answered exactly my question.

        Paleo diet is remarkably similar to Dr. Natasha McBride’s GAPS Diet. They’re almost identical twins, only minor differences when it comes to portion sizes.

    • Stephanie
      August 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

      I’m sorry to hear the post was a little too complex. Robb has a large audience of readers who vary from beginners to biochemists at heart, so we try to keep a healthy balance when we develop posts like these. PLEASE feel free to continue to ask questions if we’ve started making things complex. We will try our best to make sure the answers appeal to all levels. Thanks for the comment.

      • Robb Wolf
        August 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm

        Never feel afraid to write a complex post kiddo. We can bring people up to speed, we can’t improve weak material once it’s out.

        • Ulla Lauridsen
          August 4, 2011 at 4:06 am

          I agree, my husband is a chemist, he understands expressions like PUFA and knows more or less where to find them. I, on the other hand, just wants to know what to shop for.
          I use butter a lot for frying – is that bad?
          Keep up the good work.

          • Steph Greunke
            August 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm

            I think you’d really benefit by giving Robb’s book a shot. It’s a fun read and will help you better understand all the benefits of the paleo diet AND you can have some nerdy nutrition discussions with your husband :) Understanding the basics makes following the plan so much easier! I’d recommend using more coconut oil for cooking as the high saturated fat content is more suitable and stable with high heat. If you choose to use butter, try organic, grass-fed clarified butter (clarified = dairy proteins are removed). You can find clarified butter or ghee (similar to clarified butter) in your local grocery store.

          • Ulla Lauridsen
            August 5, 2011 at 2:28 am

            No, I can’t find ghee here. I live in Denmark.
            I’ve read Robbs book, but maybe I should read it again. Thanks.

  3. Charles
    August 3, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Great Stuff Amy. Hoping to run into you this weekend in LA for PaleoPalooza 2011!

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

      I’ll be there!!! Looking forward to it!

  4. Mike F
    August 3, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Great post but some of those answers are a bit difficult to ‘digest’ for the lay person.

  5. Phillip Upton
    August 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I’m always a bit leary about guessing what our ancestors did long ago.

    That said, do we know how much O3 & O6 the body needs on a daily basis? Or, what is the O3:O6 ratio of fats in and used by the body?

    Not tnat I need convincing, but a better rationale for the ratio target would be nice. Also, it seems to me tha in addition to a ratio, there is probably a max dosage for optimum health… especially for the O6. No?

    Thanks!

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Stay tuned Phillip! There’s more coming on that in the next two posts!!!

  6. Marissa
    August 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Just curious as to the percentage range of fat that you guys recommend? Is it around 40%-ish? I’m wondering for comparison-sake to a traditional foods/Weston A. Price fat recommendation, which I think is 40%.

    Also, are all of the Paleo RDs on RobbWolf.com members of the ADA? I received my credentials in June but cannot bring myself to join the ADA! Wondering how you navigate your split from conventional nutrition. I’m a bit conflicted:)

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 11:04 am

      The range is really going to depend on goals and health conditions – some will do better on a more ketogenic type composition and others, due to digestive problems may need a bit less. It’s hard to make a blanket judgement. If I had to I would say anywhere between about 35% – 65%. The low end for hard training endurance athletes that require a bit more carbohydrate and the high end for the keto crowd.
      As far as ADA – we’re split. Right now I am because my former ‘day job’ required it. Stephanie is and Elizabeth is not. It’s not something you necessarily need, but some jobs will require that you have it!

      • Marissa
        August 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

        Thanks so much! I meant to say WAPF is >40% but also didn’t realize that some of the Paleo recommendations were at the high end that you mentioned. I certainly don’t like to think of food in these percentages but wanted a reference point for someone who does.

    • Stephanie
      August 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

      Congrats on receiving the credentials!! I am currently a member of the ADA, but I completely agree that it’s conflicting. There are a lot of benefits from joining such as networking, professional development, continuing professional education credit opportunities, and just being in the loop.

      You just have to know that you are practicing and preaching true evidenced based practice by following Paleo guidelines and eating a clean, healthy diet. If anyone has a problem with that, I’m not so sure I’d care what their opinion was!

  7. Bart
    August 3, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Regarding MCTs – do you recommend any supplementation? or get them solely through food?

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      If you’re doing coconut oil, coconut milk, etc. Your doing fine! There are certain situations where a supplement may be needed, but it’s not necessary for most!

      • Jesper
        August 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm

        When you say: “doing coconut oil, coconut milk, etc. Your doing fine”
        do you mean using them on a daily basis and what kind of amounts are we talking?

        I’m from Denmark (northern europe) and coconut oil and coconut milk is not something that is normally used on a daily basis. Do you have any suggestions to what could replace those items in order to still get sufficient MCT’s?

        By doing coconut oil do you mean drinking/pouring on food or for cooking?

        Thx for this great fat series:-)

        • Amy Kubal
          August 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm

          Don’t stress out about it! Cook with coconut oil when you can and if you’re not a hard charging endurance athlete, or have some serious health issues don’t be greatly concerned with supplementing.

  8. Crunchy Pickle
    August 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Great research – I appreciate whenever someone can put these arguments together clearly and concisely!

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks! Come back next week for more!!!

  9. garmsie
    August 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    2 part question:
    First, is it necessary to focus on ingesting omega-6 fats, or is it safe to assume if you’re following Robb’s recommended eating plan (from the book “The Paleo Solution”) you’re probably getting enough of n3 & n6? I’ve recently started to limit nuts and seeds so I’m afraid I may not be getting enough omega-6.

    Second, the grocery stores I frequent have omega-3 enriched eggs, but some have up to 600 mg added to each egg, while others average between 100-115 mg per egg. Is more better? Is it worth the extra $1.50 to get the eggs with 600mg each? I only eat fish 1-2 times/month and don’t supplement. Thanks!

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      If you are eating grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish you are doing well! All meats have omega-6 fatty acids REGARDLESS of whether or not it’s grass-fed. Stay tuned for the next two posts for more info!! And rest assured you are getting plenty of omega-6 fats – meats, eggs, olive oil, avocado, small amounts in vegetables – they are everywhere!!!

      I would suggest buying organic eggs from free-range chickens and the extra omega-3’s are probably a good move if you eat little wild caught fish, do not supplement and aren’t having grass-fed meat. Your other option – supplement if you can’t afford the high quality foods. And back to your first question definitely do not sweat an omega-6 shortage!! If you can afford the high quality meat and eggs – go that route, real food is always the best choice!!

      • garmsie
        August 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

        So if both are available, should I buy eggs with 115mg or 600mg Omega-3 added?

  10. DirectM
    August 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    June 10, 2010 I had a minor heart attack while being on a paleo diet. I was advised by my Doctors to return to a high carb diet. However, I continued to eat paleo. The only changes I made was I stopped frying my steaks(I bake or stew my meat now), I upped my fat intake to 50% and I increased my vitamin D intake(because I’m a night owl). I had my blood work done on Monday and I did a 20 min Bruce protocol today…I passed both with flying colors.
    A high fat diet, my friends is the way to go.

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      That. Is. AWESOME. You are a shining example of the power of Paleo!!! Way to stick to your guns and congrats on the new and improved lab results!!!

    • Stephanie
      August 4, 2011 at 7:26 am

      That is pretty remarkable!! I’m so proud of you for doing what you thought was right and having great results. Testimonials like these are always appreciated. Thanks!

  11. Nutritionator
    August 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    CANNOT WAIT for parts 2 and 3 of this. I love the information put out by this site and the book. You all have such a talent for making some pretty heavy biochemistry much easier to understand. I know MCT’s were good for energy from personal use and now I finally know why. Keep up the amazing work.

    • Stephanie
      August 4, 2011 at 7:28 am

      So glad to hear you like it! If there’s ever a topic you’d like us to discuss feel free to throw out ideas and we’ll make it happen :)

      • Nutritionator
        August 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

        I’m sure this has been answered in one of the podcasts (which I am on my second go-through) or blog posts (which I am reading from the beginning also) but I had a question about chicken. I know chicken is fairly high in Omega-6’s even when it is free range but how much of a concern are those fatty acids since chicken breasts are so lean? I can imagine that the difference in the dark meat is pretty huge (which is a shame because the thousand packs of chicken legs at Costco are under 1$ a pound, but what about chicken breasts? I’m on a student budget and I like to eat as well as possible so how different nutritionally are chicken breasts that I can get for under $2 a pound from Costco and the $5 a pound free range chickens from the farmers market? Thanks in advance!

        • Amy Kubal
          August 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

          Don’t sweat the small stuff – do the best you can on your budget and don’t rely solely on chicken as your protein source.

  12. debbyK Fitness
    August 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Great stuff! I have been sending my fitness clients and readers to this site to learn about the biochemistry and how our bodies work and why they shouldn’t eat sugar and should eat good fats, etc, yadda yadda. I’m also recommending Robb’s book since it makes it easier on me in having to explain how I’ve been eating since 1988!!

    Question: You said ‘excessive exercise’. What would you consider this to be? I train cross fit style intensity since about 1988! I’m also a swimmer and runner and cyclist. I have coined my own moniker as an endurance bodybuilder/physique athlete. So I train a lot.

    Recently I was diagnosed with hip displasia and will be heading to India for hip resurfacing so I’m not running(I do get out on my Kangoo jumps).
    I cut back my spin HIIT training to 45 minutes, after my weights. I swim in the evenings and only ride in the hills on Saturday for about 32 miles, plus doing weights in the evening.

    I train hard and like to do everything I do. It just comes natural but doesn’t really seem hard to me. It’s just my life and I”ve never known a day without training in some capacity, even if it’s just a swim. My body needs to move.

    I eat pretty much paleo. No dairy, no sugar, only yams for carbs. I try to get plenty of fat.

    But I’m stumped on the ‘excessive exercise’. If someone is highly trained wouldn’t it matter on their fitness level?

    So I was just wondering how you define it and for whom and under what conditions?

    I’m also pending hip surgery in October and in the past couple of months I seem to have been slowly gaining fat in the lower abs. It’s baffling me. My intensity with leg routine has obviously gone down and I”m not running hills or sprinting. I was wondering if Robb is still doing his podcasts and if maybe I could send in my history for him to evaluate. I have always been ripped, my entire life. I eat NO sugar. I’m wondering if it’s some hormonal change due to my sleep cycle and schedule, which is like an overnight nurses most nights! I know that is not good and needs to change. ie cortisol, etc.

    Thanks
    Debby

    • Amy Kubal
      August 4, 2011 at 4:50 am

      Debbie, I really base it on an individuals goals. If you are training to compete in the local sprint triathalon for fun vs training to place at IM Hawaii in Kona training protocol and performance concern are a bit different. I also factor in where an individual is as far as health is concerned – any issues? and what workout quality is (performance, recovery, etc.).

      In your case, I’m not sure where you’re at – but as far as the fat accumulation it may have to do with a combination of training load and inadequate food intake. I would love to help you get a handle on all of this!! Let me know if I can help! http://robbwolf.com/consulting/amy-kubal-consulting/

  13. PPC Bolton
    August 4, 2011 at 3:26 am

    wow,,,simply superb points..I really knew few more health care points noted from ur site…and also useful to all of us…
    Many thanks..
    ————–
    Gordon.

  14. LeeE
    August 4, 2011 at 5:05 am

    My summer has been off the paleo wagon! First I got shingles in June, and at the end of the month I got a case of an infection of the Ileum – dropped 14lbs. in 4 days, finally 2 wks ago I had surgery (hernia repair) – after all of this I was shockingly thin! Now after my daughter’s insistence that I return to “normal” eating, I’m back to a good weight but in only a few wks. gained 20lbs. – and back to my “sugar addiction”! I’m on disability, and after bills are paid for the month – I have approx. $250 to get by on -not nearly enough to pay for the O-3 eggs, and grass fed meat and wild fish! Especially in Manhattan! The omega eggs in NYC are over $5 a dozen! Meats and fish are way too expensive – this is one of the reasons why I was vegetarian, it is far less expensive! How can I eat on a $200 budget per mo. paleo style? Open to suggestions! I did very well – although hardly ever grass fed meat, or wild fish for the first 5 mos. this yr – never felt better, until I never felt worse!

    • Amy Kubal
      August 4, 2011 at 5:08 am

      Do what you can -stick to lean meats, if the traditionally raised is what’s in your budget, lean is the way to go. For your omega-3’s a supplement would be a smart investment!

      • LeeE
        August 5, 2011 at 9:08 am

        thanks, sorry I’m late in getting back to you! That’s pretty much what I thought – I got discouraged, but now I just need enough motivation to get back on track!

    • Amy B.
      August 4, 2011 at 10:52 am

      There’s a continuum with regard to food quality. Obviously, the “ideal,” the pinnacle, and the ultimate best we can do is all grass-fed meat, pastured poultry and eggs, all organic, etc. But we *are,* after all, living, breathing human beings, with widely varying budgets. It would be nice if we could all afford the top of the top in terms of food sources, but the reality is that we can’t. You have to choose your battles. Decide what you *can* afford, and where you want to put your dollars.

      That being said, I want to share my experience from the last several years. I had a bunch of bloodwork done in 2009 — full lipid panel, fasting glucose, etc. Everything was *great.* Total cholesterol 175, triglycerides 33. (I apologize, I don’t remember the other numbers and I don’t have the printout handy, but everything was fantastic…the ratio, glucose, etc. Not to mention I *never* got sick, despite riding the DC metro every day and working in a stuffy office with no daylight or fresh air.) I had been a low-carber for about 3 years by then, but food quality was not a priority. I was eating regular ol’ supermarket beef and chicken, tons of canned tuna (not wild caught) and sardines, conventional produce, cheap supermarket eggs, lots of nuts, and–dare I admit to it–commercial salad dressing and mayo (i.e. loaded with soybean oil). I was also doing lots of dairy, none of it organic or grass fed. (No liquid milk, but plenty of butter, heavy cream, and tons of cheese and plain yogurt.)

      None of that seems to have done me too much damage. My personal belief is that the omega-6 glut would have caught up with me eventually, and now, I just do the best I can. I do what I can afford to and try not to worry too much about the other stuff.

      I could be wrong, but I imagine most of the nutritionists and dieticians who support paleo eating would tell you a breakfast of cheap eggs and bacon is still better than Frosted Flakes and skim milk. And a dinner of regular steak and non-organic broccoli is still heads and shoulders above pasta and garlic bread.

      I dunno…that’s what I attribute my bloodwork and general overall good health to — I wasn’t eating the best quality food by any means, but I was eating almost NO “carbage” – no grains, no refined sugar, no artificial, impossible-to-pronounce ingredients.

      Don’t worry too much if you can’t afford the top of the line stuff. Better that you at least eat *real food* (meat, seafood, veggies, fruit, good fats and oils). You’ll be way ahead of the average sap out there who thinks he’s doing himself good by having a NutriGrain bar and OJ for breakfast.

      • LeeE
        August 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

        thanks – same response I gave to the other Amy – I appreciate the support!

  15. Mark S.
    August 4, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Thanks so much for a great article. A week or two ago, this would have been over my head, but if you just dedicate yourself to reading about the how and why of paleo on this site and others, the terms and words used become more familiar and the information will be easier to digest. I do, however, have a question:

    I try and eat grass-fed meats when possible, but because of the price and accesibility issues, the great majority of the meat I eat is grain/corn-fed. I take a daily fish oil supplement (that medical grade stuff), but am wondering if this is enough to balance things out, and if not, what else can I be doing? I’ve read that what I’m doing is certainly better than the SAD, but it always gives me pause because paleo is so much about the quality of what you eat. I know it’s better than nothing, but how bad off am I? Thanks again for all of your invaluable work.

  16. Melissa
    August 4, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I’m using all pasture finished beef, chicken, eggs and butter. Once in a while I buy lamb at the store because I haven’t found a pasture finished source yet. I eat wild salmon about once a week. Most of my veggies I eat raw and I use olive oil for salad. I use coconut oil occasionally for my frozen Trader Joe’s chicken burgers. I eat eggs cooked with butter just about every morning and uncured bacon about twice a week. I drink homemade bone broth (fat included) almost every night. I usually eat a tablespoon of nut butter at night. Does that sound like a good 3:6 ratio?

    • Amy Kubal
      August 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

      It sounds like you’re doing well. A fish oil supplement might be a good insurance policy and be careful not to overdo the nuts/ nut butters – they are omega-6 heavy! Stay tuned for more on the n3:n:6 ratio next week!

  17. DJ
    August 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Great post on a very important topic!

    Just don’t understand this sentence: “The “artery-clogging” plaque production is mediated by oxidized LDL.” When plaque is produced, oxidized LDL somehow mediates it? (The rest of the paragraph implies the opposite.) Just wanted to make sure I understood correctly…

    Thanks for any clarification you can provide on this,
    DJ

    • Robb Wolf
      August 4, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Oxidized LDL causes the players formation, at least in part.

  18. Jeff
    August 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Great post. As someone who eats eggs, grass-fed butter, and some type of red meat (usually grass fed) every day, it is always nice to read a scientific-based, well-reasoned piece like this. I hope one of the next pieces in the series addresses blood cholesterol levels, what they mean, when to worry, and how diet affects blood cholesteral

  19. Janeway
    August 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks Amy for continuing to hammer home on this basic important topic. It’s going to take years to counteract a half-century of (ongoing) bad science and marketing zeal to demonstrate the vital importance of fats in our diet vs. carbohydrates. I’d also like to suggest that any reader who’s really interested in this topic pick up Gary Taubes’ book, Good Calories Bad Calories. Talk about leaving no stone unturned, there’s not a pebble or speck of dust that Taubes has not looked under in his quest for how and why we came to be so misled (some might say bamboozled) on this topic. It’s a public health document, historical record, scientific expose and explanation all in one package, and it makes for fascinating reading.

  20. Bomber
    August 4, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Hi!, ive recently bought the book and taken on a Paleo Life style at a 80% rate and have already seen a difference, and im very very happy!. i will start a 100% diet come monday, the question i will ask is : if i ate Paleo for 1 month, and for one day i hate ice cream, pasta, chocolate etc… will this ruin the way my body will think?
    Bottom line is, how many times can the body be nutritionally abused before it starts to take its toll.
    Cheers :D

  21. CathyN
    August 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I just loved this post. Thank you so much. I live in a small Coastal town in Oregon, and I think we’re the only paleo people around. I certainly hope that changes soon. Anyway, the amazing amount of generous information available on Robb’s website and the blog posts have been very encouraging and helps us feel connected.

    My husband and I have both read Robb’s book, and I gave a copy to my son, who’s now living paleo, a copy to my girlfriend, and a copy to my brother-in-law. This is really good stuff.

    Looking forward to the next “FATT” episode. Well done!

  22. cmac
    August 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Love the post, quick question. I just had some bloodwork done for my life insurance and my agent called and told me my total cholesterol count was 347 which prevented me from getting the preferred rate. (not really concerned about missing out on the preferred rate, just wanted the free bloodwork). But I asked if they gave my LDL/HDL counts and all they told him was that my total count was high but my ratios were fine and showed nothing concerning.

    I am just curious if this is typical of people following a low carb, high fat, paleo diet? Oh, and I asked what my triglycerides were and they did not tell my agent. I did request the bloodwork so I hope to know more details soon.

  23. Rick DeMile
    August 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    If I understand correctly, essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body and so must be derived from food. Can you tell me if this is true? Also, what types of foods are the best sources for this? Thank you

    • Robb Wolf
      August 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      That’s correct. Animal products (grassfed) are the best options.

  24. Lisa
    August 8, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Hi Amy – Count me “in” the growing number of RDs not willing to swallow the USDA’s cherry picked research as the only evidence in town. I follow Paleo, but I still read everything, even the ADA journal and still find myself scratching my head at all the conflicting expert opinion. On page 674-675 of the May 2011 J of ADA there is a Q&A with Walter Willett MD from Harvard and other prominent nutrition researchers and RDs at the Fall 2010 ADA convention. Can you comment on his response to the following RD question?
    Q “There’s been much agreement about the need to increase polyunsaturated fats. But there is also a concern about n-6 fatty acids being inflammatory due to their production of inflammatory eicosanoids. I’m wondering about the message of increasing polyunsaturated fats without really saying a lot about the n-3s being a necessary component of that.”
    Willett: “Yes it is amazing how far a myth can go withjout any data to support it. And I agree with Dr Kuller that the encouragement to increase n-6s during the 1960s and 1970s had an enourmous benfit on reduction of cardiovascular disease. We went from about 3% of energy to about 7% of energy from O-6s. And so if we try to go backwards – there are people out there wanting to reduce n-6s because of this hypothetical inflammation – that would increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, we know that very well. It would definitely lead to higher LDL. There have been carefully controlled studies that have fed different levels of O-6s and looked at inflammation markers, and they dont show any adverse effects. And that is partly because there are many other pathways by which n-6s operate, besides possible competing with n3s in the elongation and desaturation pathways. For example, n-6s downregulate NF-kappaB which is a major controller of inflammation. And they are also an insulin sensitizer, acting at PRAR-y. Anf if you reduce insulin resistence, ie, improve sensitivity – that will be anti-inflammatory. So n-6s are not proinflammatory.”

    • Amy Kubal
      August 8, 2011 at 6:15 am

      More and more the research is showing that O-6’s are proinflammatory when compared to saturated and O-3 fats. Additionally, the SAD provides an abundance of O-6’s and our intake far out weighs the intake of long-chain Omega-3’s. Encourage your patients to limit processed foods high in O-6’s, focus on real food, avoid refined sugars and all grains and focus intake on high quality meats, vegetables, fats and some fruit.

  25. Fibromyalgia and Faith
    August 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    If you’re craving fried fatty foods or other bad fattening foods, does your body know the difference between different fats? How do you kick the cravings?

    • Amy Kubal
      August 10, 2011 at 5:07 am

      Your body does not ‘know’ the difference between fats – you won’t get a craving for omega-6’s or saturated fats… Often what you are craving (the fattening foods) are carbohydrate, sugar and fat rich foods – french fries, cookies, etc. The cravings will get fewer and farther between the longer you avoid these types of food. Make sure you are eating plenty of high quality animal protein, vegetables and good fats from coconut, avocado, etc., and hang in there!

  26. Brak
    August 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    You know Robb has ascended to super-guru status by the tone of these questions.

    As a long time fan, I am astounded by the feedback stating that this post was a little too sciency. While I was reading through it, I felt the questions as well as the respective answers were paleo/fat facts 101.

    But the fact that people are confused and asking basic follow-ups is a clear indication that Robb’s site is a magnet for those new to the “paleo movement” and has grown out of its roots of a fringe site for those of us that have been around for a bit.

    Well done.

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