I received a great question from Pete that underscores some nuances of paleo/low carb eating. The topic of fat, particularly sat’d fat is an interesting and potentially contraversial one. here is Pete’s question:
Rob, I am a huge fan. Thanks for the tremendous work. I am a recent convert to the Zone/Paleo/IF and am down 17lbs in 3 months. I just ordered a side of grass feed beef and entered a CSA for fruits/veggies.
A couple of questions for you. I have read from previous posts that you are critical of the Weston A. Price Org. Part of this is due to their being critical to the Dr. Cordain’s and Dr. Sears’ books. I have found good in all 3 so I am looking for a little advice.
– How many eggs a day? Go with Dr. Cordain’s advice of 6 a week? Weston A. Price as well as many PM and Crossfit blogs say you could almost eat unlimited eggs. I don’t understand Cordain’s reasons for limiting eggs due to the fat/protein ratio. I though Sat Fat and Cholesterol was no longer the evil once thought. If we are supposed to up our fat content, aren’t eggs perfectly acceptable.
– Are egg yolks bad? Once again Weston A. Price says the yolks are source of all the goodness (vitamins and other brain food). So should we heed to Dr. Sears’ advice of avoiding yolks?
– I am confused about the focus on lean meat in the paleo regime. As above, if saturated fat is not bad, why the focus on lean meat?
– What is your view of fish oil versus cod liver oil consumption? Take both or one?
– What is your view of raw milk and other dairy versus cutting dairy completely out?
– Finally, is fasting one day a week (24+ hours) as good as the daily 15-19 hr fasting window for long term health gains? I tried the daily fasting window last week and gained weight as well getting a lot of constipation. Any suggestions?
Sorry for the long laundry list but it is my first posts of hopefully many more. Thank you, Pete
Now I like 90% of what the Weston Price site has to say and really the points of departure are minutia when you get right down to it…but that can be enough to get some folks pretty riled up! Pete alluded to some of the issues I’ve had in the past with WP material, specifically the (in my opinion) personal attacks leveled at Prof. Cordain for his position on Sat’d fat. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig have really taken him to task on this topic and not in a nice or professional way. It burns my ass because Prof. Cordain always conducts himself with class and professionalism. He sticks to the facts as he sees them, states his case and provides ample opportunity for rebuttal. This SHOULD be how scientific inquiry occurs.
“…my theory is this, it’s based on this data set and makes these predictions…what does YOUR theory contain? What is YOUR theory based on? What does it predict?”
Instead of this exchange of ideas and debate of the facts, when people start to loose… things get personal. On a short list of people who have made debates with Cordain personal I can include: Fallon/Enig, Colpo, and Dr. T. Colin Campbell (remember the Protein Debate?). This is the same type of bullying that made Ancel Keys successful in promoting the diet heart hypothesis and began the demonetization of fat…which leads us to the heart of most of Pete’s questions which I think boil down to: What about the total fat in the diet and what about sat’d fat?
Cordain Tackles this question by looking at evolutionary biology, specifically: What was the composition of the diet of our ancestors? Using ethnographic information and whole body rendering and analysis of the fatty acids of wild animals such as deer Cordain has some models that indicate wild meat has/had a pretty low fat content in general and a low sat’d fat content in a particular AS COMPARED to grain-fed, feed-lot meat. His recommendations are geared towards emulating the fatty acid profile of our ancestors, hence the recommendation to eat lean meat in general and supplement with nuts, seeds and fish oils to round things out. Fallon/Enig pull from ethnographic info involving the tendency of our ancestors and modern hunter gatherers and pastoralists to favor fatty meats, whole fat dairy etc. Nothing is odd about this tendency and it is right in line with optimum foraging strategy: Achieve the greatest return on food energy for the least energy output. The problem is Fallon/Enig forget that feed lot meat can be upwards of 40% fat by weight whereas wild meat is 10-15% at SPECIFIC times of the year when the animals are the fattest. Additionally the saturated fat content is much lower in wild meat due to the lower glycemic load of plants vs. grains commonly consumed by farmed critters.
Doe this mean the clueless Mcdougalites might be right? Are low carb diets a sleeper-cell of impending cardiac death caused from…BOMP, BOMP,bomp!!!! SATURATED FAT!!!!?
Well…NO. Atherosclerotic lesions and vascular damage are complex processes that involve an ever growing list of factors, some dietary (lectins, glycemic load), some environmental (sleep, light exposure, stress) and some genetic (immune response). Prof. Cordain has made this VERY important point several times:
Our ancestral diet did not contain large amounts of sat’d fat. Sat’d fat appears to be a factor in the development of an atherosclerotic blood profile. Sat’d fat consumption at levels above those found in our ancestral diet it is not a guarantee of heart disease development.
So, what does the fracking Cave-Man on the street take from all this? Is it OK to eat eggs? Yes, it is. Try to get omega-3 enriched eggs. They taste better, contain loads more antioxidants AND the fatty acid profile is much more in line with (drum-roll…) our ancestral diet. The recommendation from Sears and Cordain to eat lean meats is so you minimize sat’d fat intake (because of the grain feeding) and then to round things out with nuts, seeds and fish oil…to emulate our ancestral diet. It looks like ratios of fat are more of an issue than any total amount. The Inuit traditionally ate upwards of 70% of their calories from fat but the lions share was mono-unsat’d.
Pete had a few other questions:
Fish vs. Cod-I like a mix of fish oil and cod liver oil. You can’t get all you supplemental n-3’s from cod liver oil due to the vit’s A&D, so round things out with standard fish oil.
Raw Dairy-See how you tolerate it. Find some grassfed variety if possible (remember that ancestral fatty acid profile?)
Fasting-No one knows! Get a dialed Paleo/Zone diet. Get your performance rocking, your sleep solid…all with a basic 3-5 meals per day plan. THEN introduce some IF. Do you feel or perform better? Is your sleep and recovery better? No? ditch it. It’s not a cure-all. It might help many things, it might also screw a number of things up.