Big ‘Fat’ Blog Post 3

Well folks this is it.  The time has come for the third and final installment of the Big ‘Fat’ Blog Post series. If you haven’t seen them, check out Part 1 and Part 2. I hope you’ve all found the information helpful or at least slightly entertaining.  The aim was to clear up misconceptions about fat and shed light on some confusing ‘fat’ topics.  I know that all of you are feeling a great sadness that there will be no ‘fat fix’ next week – but never fear!  We will be following up this trilogy with (drum roll….) – “The Great Sugar Series”, “The Carbohydrate Conundrum” and the “Protein Parade” Blogs in the very near future so watch Facebook for the call for questions!  In the mean time, enjoy a plethora of posts on nail biting subjects and keep coming back for more!

Question #1 – Answered By Amy Kubal, MS, RD, LN 

When using Paleo nutrition, what role does dietary fat play in endurance athlete performance over several hours?


Contrary to what many endurance athletes believe, fat is a key energy source during long duration training and races.   The high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets that are common among the endurance crowd do these athletes no favors, in fact they may result in decreased performance, premature mental/physical fatigue, and injury.

During low/moderate endurance based activity fat is muscles primary fuel source.  When exercise is moderate-high to high intensity (race conditions) carbohydrate is the primary source of fuel; when carbohydrate stores run dry the athlete becomes fatigued.   This would leave one to believe that fueling up on carbs is the way to go if optimal race performance is the goal.  Unfortunately, the muscles can only store a finite amount of carbohydrate and while it is important to make sure they are full “loading” them is only possible to a point.  Fat on the other hand, can be stored in the body in abundance (look around and I’m guessing you can see several examples of this…).  If an athlete increases his/her reliance on fat for energy (this will decrease the reliance on carbohydrate) it is possible to delay fatigue and enhance performance due to the constant fuel supply.

There have been many studies done with conflicting results.  What seems to be the theme across the board is that “fat loading” pre-race is not the ticket; rather fat adaptation with a Paleo diet which is naturally higher in healthy fats, coupled with an increase in carbohydrate from starchy vegetable sources (yams, sweet potatoes, roots and tubers, winter squash) a day or two pre-event to ensure optimal glycogen stores seems to be the best bet.  This protocol will have your body ready on both fronts.  Carbohydrate/glycogen stores will be topped off and your body will be able to easily shift to using fat as an energy source when glycogen/carbohydrate stores run dry.

Question #2 – Answered By Stephanie Greunke, RD

My cyclist friend told me I needed to eat more fat for energy.  I only eat eggs, chicken, and fish for proteins and really don’t like avocado.  Do I really need to just use a ton of oils?


Your cyclist friend does not intend for you to start guzzling oils.  Healthy fats from nuts, fatty fish, and grass-fed meat will also do the trick.  Your diet should be enjoyable and not feel forced.  I’d challenge you to try making guacamole or some kind of dish where the avocado isn’t as prominent because you might actually like it!  I’m not saying that you absolutely need to include avocados in your diet, but taste buds sometimes need a few exposures until you actually realize a certain taste is enjoyable.  When you commit to the Paleo style of eating, you may notice that your affinity for certain foods may change.

Oils can be a great source of fat and you don’t need a ton to reach your ideal intake.  Try cooking with coconut oil and use walnut, avocado, macadamia, olive, or other healthy oils as part of a salad dressing or condiment.  Try measuring out a tablespoon of oil and seeing how much that actually is.  You may surprise yourself at your actual consumption versus what you thought you were consuming.

Fat intake is part of an overall daily intake, so don’t worry about hitting a target fat goal at each meal, just enjoy your foods and make sure your daily intakes are where they should be.

Question #3 – Answered By Elizabeth Legg, MS, RD

Why are omega 3s (n-3s) so important?


With the Big “Fat” Blog Posts 1 & 2 you got a little background on the n-3:n-6 ratio and how their similar metabolic pathways regulate inflammation.  When you hear us recommend over and over again to eat wild caught fish and grass fed meats, you can smile upon your knowledge of how these dynamic fatty acids will help your body control inflammation.  What else might n-3s do in the body, why are they so important?

Let’s look a little closer at the n-3 derived from fish.  The n-3 from plant sources (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) is not efficiently converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docospaentaenoic acid (DHA), which are the fatty acids that directly or indirectly shift inflammation at the cellular level through their many complex activities.  When we eat n-3s, all tissues in our body rapidly incorporate them into the cell membranes where they impact cell function.  Certain tissues such as the brain, retina, and myocardium, incorporate n-3s in higher amounts suggesting they have a special role in proper functioning of these cells; n-3 content of other tissues usually reflects how much we eat (the more we eat, the more n-3 is in our tissues).  Once incorporated into the cell membrane, these fatty acids modulate signaling pathways within the cell exerting influence over gene expression through effects on transcription factors, immunomodulartory effects, and inflammatory processes through mediator production.  The overall effect…you guessed it, less inflammation!  These pathways are quite complex; if you want to dive deeper the research is easy to get your hands on.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, but it’s the uncontrolled type of inflammation from reactivity to changes in our environment that is detrimental to our tissues.  It’s amazing how these n-3s influence so many systems in the body in so many different ways.  From the well known association between n-3 intake and the inflammatory diseases to those we may not think of often (such as poor bone mineral density, type 1 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, fertility, Parkinson’s, and on and on it goes); these dynamic fatty acids are so important!  The average intake of marine source n-3s in the typical Western diet is about 150mg per day (comparable to 1 fish meal every 10 days).  This doesn’t even touch recommendations previously made at a workshop on essential fatty acids(EFAs) held at the National Institute of Health, by the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, and by The American Heart Association which are 650mg, 500mg, and 300mg per day respectively.   These recommendations have quite a wide range, but the point is the typical Western diet is deficient in these EFAs.  So don’t be the average Joe!   Your cells will thank you.

Categories: General, Paleo Diet Basics, Paleo/Low Carb


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. Stephen J. Yanczura says

    DHA should be docosahexaenoic acid not docospaentaenoic acid.

    Thanks for the great three piece post! Awesome resource to forward to the fat-phobic crowd.

    Keep fighting the good fight,


  2. Mary says

    What is the best was to get q 1:1 ratio of n6-n3? If the grass fed meat and wild caught fish is 3:1 and most vegetable, nut and seeds are high source of n6, is supplementing with fish oil the only was to balance it out? Is there any way to do it naturally?

      • mike says

        Hi, i’ve only very recently gotten into this paleo thing… i can only hope that this thread is still active, after 3 years??
        i was just wondering, the specialty store i buy from sells grassfed ground beef in 3 different fat%,lean, sirloin, and regular.i read from one of your articles that any grassfed fat is good fat? if so, then that means that the cheapest will do?? also, im having a bit of a trouble regarding the amount of food one should eat. all i see are articles describing healthy and non healthy foods..but should there be a limit/portion size or do you just keep eating until you’re full??

        i’m from the philippines btw. the cheapest grassfed ground beef here costs about 6$ per kilo.

        • says

          MIKE! I hope you find this, we try to answer ALL questions.

          So, the cheapest option is fine, but being in the philipines you likely have outstanding seafood options…don’t shy away from those.

          Portion sizes are tough to pin down, but here is a decent guideline: palm-sized (or a bit larger) piece of protein at all or most meals, equal amount of a pleo starchy carb, double those amounts in fruit and veggies. Keep in mind, this is just a starting point. Let appetite and results drive consumption.

          • mike says

            wow…. thanks Mr Wolf! I feel…happy. it’s amazing that you even bothered to reply to me… many many thanks!!!!!!!!! your suggestion..i will take! haha!!

  3. Jonas says

    PERFECT timing!

    I’m getting ready for hotterN’ hell hundred and was concerned about the impact of doing paleo for about 4 months now on my condition during the ride.

    So eating what Robb recommends as post-workout carbs a day or two prior to the event sounds like a good bet!

    Robb mentioned on a podcast that endurance athletics bores him, so thanks for taking this on and getting some good paleo advice out there for us cyclists!

    • Amy Kubal says

      Jonas, I’m all about Endurance! My nickname used to be ‘Slow Twitch’… I’ve reformed somewhat at this point. There’s lots more coming for the Paleo Endurance crowd! Stay tuned! Also, I have quite a few coaches and athletes that I work with riding the Hotter N’ Hell Hundred – good luck and if you’re Paleo I’m sure you’ll be riding in the front with them!!

  4. Simon says

    why are these posts lacking in footnotes to support your claims ? I know you’re used to it by now, but a vast majority of the science goes against alot of these claims, so the least you could do is to put links to the studies that bring you to these conclusions.

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