TTMJ – What kind of fat should I eat? I heard walnuts are better than almonds and wanted to make sure I get “good fat” in my diet.
Interesting you should ask…I just got done hanging out with a friend who is well versed in the nutrition, how the body works and the systems associated with fat consumption. His contention is that your fat consumption should come entirely from certain mono-unsaturated and saturated fats.
Anything else and we are asking for trouble.
Mono-unsaturated are fatty acids that have a single double bond in the fatty acid chain and all of the remainder of the carbon atoms in the chain are singular.
This is all well and good, but what kind of foods fit this? Avocados, olives and olive oil are good choices to make.
And what about nuts? What should one should you eat? Walnuts, almond or pecans?
Walnuts are especially high in linoleic acid. Some people will argue that walnuts have a good omega-3:omega-6 ratio but the omega-3 is the short chain alpha-linoleic acid, very little (<5%) of which is converted to EPA and virtually none to DHA. The omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) that is in walnuts is not all that useful whereas the omega-6 (linoleic acid) is problematic. If you are going to eat nuts the best ones are macadamia and cashews.
So avoiding foods high in linoleic acid is the key to making your selections.
Saturated fat is a fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acid radicals. Most people try to avoid saturated fat like it is the plague but we have come to understand that our bodies are extremely adapt at dealing with saturated fats.
Where are the major places saturated fats are found? Coconut and meat from animals feed on a diet of grass, tallow, lard and bone marrow.
I penned a post last month dealing with Saturated Fats, for more information click here to read the post on Saturated Fats.
I know this goes against what many people are promoting for healthy fats but after seeing the research and studies associated with linoleic acid and it’s effects on the body this is what I am doing.
So, my daily fat consumption, disregarding fat in the meat, which is negligible, breaks down as 60% walnuts, 15% almond butter, and 25% milk. I picked walnuts because they are very cheap, but if they aren’t as beneficial as something else, I’d rather switch and eat…the cost. Do you suggest replacing them entirely with cashews and/or macadamia nuts, which equates to about half a pound a day?
So… why do you have that picture at the onset of the post that shows a picture of burger and says
“Eating fooods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease.”
Are you being ironic or is am I missing something…
Mike – You are not missing anything, Irony was my goal. When I put healthy fats into google I got monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. When I put saturated fats into goggle the USDA came up and was all about Evil/Bad Fats. I found the pix on their site and decided in an attempt at humor I would use it. So you are not missing anything.
Clinton – Cashews and Mac nuts are a better source. I might go one further and start subbing in some shredded coconut for your fat. Saturated fats are the demon they are made out to be and it is cheaper.
Shredded Coconut and whole milk sounds great!
Great post, John! I love the stand you are taking against the traditional approach to fats and especially saturated fats. I love Cordain, but I wish he would soften his stance to saturated fats more publicly (there is some buried in his blog, but most people still say “lean” meats when talking paleo). I don’t think you have to shy away from the fats in grass-fed and pasture-raised meat–heck, many indigenous people preferred those cuts, leaving the leanest for last. And there is no life worth living without bacon 😉
Thanks John. I came over here from Robb’s blog and have read every post. It’s been quite a journey of discovery after finding crossfit and the Paleo diet a few months ago. I’ve had a few conversations about “all the fat I eat” and I always get the most wtf-looks when I mention that dietary cholesterol has basically no effect on blood cholesterol. That ad is essentially the default thought for most of America. Of course, that particular bacon cheeseburger probably has just enough refined flour in the bun result in the gut bomb that everyone thinks it is, they just happen to be blaming the wrong part of the burger.
Mike – I know it is a confusing bumpy ride when you first hear the words CrossFit and Paleo; more akin to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride than anything. Most people find CF.com, look at the workouts and think “these people are crazy!”. Then they check the message boards and find people doing this stuff my the legions, you see the words “Paleo” and “Zone” and start to investigate. Next thing you know you go to you local CrossFit and you are doing an “On Ramp” and involved in a “Paleo Challenge”. You see terms like “CrossFit Endurance” and “CrossFit Football” and you think what does CrossFit have to do with running 100 miles or football players??? You search more and find programs to help you with your goals and people giving information about how to eat for performance and health. Next thing you know you are on a site like TTMJ that is putting up pictures laced with irony and humors evil little twin sarcasm. And you are thinking WTF??? It is a strange and bumpy ride for sure. Hold on!
It is true that eating saturated fat increases LDL. Most of the time, however, it increases HDL more than it increases LDL. Even for specific saturated fat where an equal or higher increase in HDL has not been shown, the increase in LDL is irrelevant to heart disease. That is because there is a continuum of LDL, not just one. The large buoyant patter A LDL, intermediate LDL, and small dense pattern B LDL. Saturated fat consumption increases large buoyant LDL, which is non atherogenic. On the other hand, over consumption of carbohydrate, especially fructose, increases small dense pattern B LDL, which is atherogenic. If you eat a lot of fat and your doc freaks out because your cholesterol is high, ask for a particle size test to determine whether the LDL is pattern A or B. There is absolutely nothing to worry about if it is pattern A. Some genetically susceptible individuals may have pattern B while eating a lot of fat. These people should back off the fat and add some carbohydrate to their diet in the form of starchy vegetables, roots, tubers, and bulbs.
Hmmmmm…Dr Lalonde rears his ugly head to speak from the land of pasty white scientists huddled up in the nerdery.
At least spell my name properly if you’re going to insult me, meat head. This blog has so many typos in its posts you’d swear an ape was behind the keyboard.
Mat – I have fixed the spelling of weird French/Canadian name. Now back to your mom’s basement!
I’m a believer… I felt great on Paleo but I did lose too much mass, so instead of doing a proper and adding yams, coconut milk/flakes and whole milk I decided to add all that bad shit again.
Time to head back to that direction and get my ass feeling solid again while keeping as strong as a pissed off wild boar.
and I say that while ripping off my rattlesnake condom.
What do you have to say about the saturated fats contained in dark chocolate? While this is not a food I eat very frequently, I am curious to know how often I should eat this food or if I should keep it as a very rare cheat “meal”. I usually buy dark chocolate with 85% cocoa or higher.
Jay – That seems crazy. I find it easy to keep weight and strength up when eating like this. It is not really a “paleo diet” in the traditional sense, but what it is, is a recipe to be strong and jacked. I have a post coming in few days that takes it more in depth.
Eat meat, eggs, veggies, tubers, bulbs and roots and fat. Get carbs from starchy veggies. Saturated fat from animals and coconut. Mono-unsaturated from olives and olive oil. Mix dairy from grass fed animals and eat like beast. Limit sugar from fruit as frutose is the bad guy here.
This is just a taste. You are on the right track. Glad to know that rattle snake condom is still working for you.
Glad you are getting your strength back after a hiatus.
I dont have a problem with dark chocolate. I have some 100% pure dark chocolate in the fridge right now. Now sure about you but I can not over eat that stuff. A small little square and I am good to go. I think the big enemy here is fructose and gluten from grains. If you can limit the amount of fructose in your diet and eliminate gluten you are moving in the right direction.
very confused here, so no fruits? I have been eating fruits like they are going out of style because they are supose to be a paleo and now there bad…
well, I wasn’t eating enough protein on the first “paleo” stint, nor did I drink milk. This time I’m gonna add in the proper shit and take it.
I’m glad I’m getting my strength back, I’m almost at the level I was when I first stopped doing strongman (after the injury) so its a good thing. Not that I am out of shape now, but its getting to the point where after a meal I feel bloated, sluggish and shitty… nothing worse than that. Its a “sad reality” that modern food isn’t sufficient for our needs and no matter what anyone says about grains being ok, they aren’t.
Coconut milk out of the can? I wonder how that is going to taste….
Guess I am going to find out soon enough.
Now I must get back to the gym, clients await. Look forward to that blog post, I know you’re a large mammal so your insight will help a guy like me with this.
Jason, even with Paleo they say mostly veggies and little fruits.
Jason, fruits are only meant to be limited in the sense that you don’t want to eat them all day long and keep boosting your blood sugar levels from the high intake of fructose. I eat them primarily post-workout and after I wake up. Maybe a couple more times in the day to compliment the meal, but not really ones with a higher fructose concentration.
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You have to remember that over the last 10,000 years we have selected fruits for taste and genetically altered then to make them bigger and more sweet. Ever tasted a wild crab apple? Pretty small and not very sweet. You have remember to limit fruit as fructose is the culprit. Check out fruits low on the glycemic index and add them sparingly. And by all means avoid dried fruit. That stuff is like eating skittles or jelly beans. I pulled the jerky w/ fruit mix from Paleo Brands because of this. We caution people against loading up on dried fruit. Eating a ton of nuts that are high linoleic acid is “no bueno” either. Be smart and remember the original hunter/gatherer tribes survived on diets of meat and fat. Sugar is still sugar whether it is fructose or sucrose. Hope that helps!
Question…Is there an ideal dietary proportion of fat types, disregarding the sources? I mentioned earlier my break down (75% unsat. to 25% sat.), but was curious how I should try to balance it…I’m sure that it’s not nearly that simple, but maybe somebody has considered it…?
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I’ve been good on eliminating gluten and fructose, and I feel like a million bucks. I’m sure that a fresh shaved coconut is better than canned coconut milk. Is. Are there any concerns with any brands of coconut milk, or can I just rock out? Thanks in advance for any insight.
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Good stuff as always! John and Mat’s advice are right in line with the KISS principle – “Keep It Simple Stupid”. If our ancestors have made it through hundred of thousands of years on a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fats, how the hell can this stuff be so “evil”!?!? Common sense would seem to be the most lacking feature of the conventional scientific paradigm governing the study of nutrition today.
But, how can I (and many others) be so sure about the paleo template?
Good question! And one that gets tossed around a lot. Goes hand in hand with…
“Why else then would the government recommend up to 15 servings of grains a day?” Or, “Why is cereal the first food recommended to babies in many instances (well, at least we’ve gone away from wheat, and rice seems to be the preferred first choice now… Better??? Hmmm, I wonder…)?” Or, how about: “Isn’t whole wheat bread healthy? It’s gotta be! All this fiber!!!”
Theory and history point against naive empiricism (the latter simply implies that immediate sense experience would, by itself, be sufficient to provide the foundations for knowledge). Basically, you can’t do theory without facts/data, but you also can’t do science with only facts and no theory. You need a theory to make sense of the data. Thus, many (and I would be one of those) believe that paleo nutrition is solidly anchored in both, which makes me very comfortable in trusting my health to it, even though the experts, quite often, will strongly warn against it. (Although, luckily, this is changing… slowly… but surely).
I don’t think anybody doubts that all other living organisms are healthy when living under the conditions to which they have adapted via evolution (that’s why zoos try to recreate their natural habitat). Humans, members of the same family of DNA-based organisms, should also be healthy under the conditions of the evolutionary environment.
Unfortunately, scientific research in the field of nutrition and health has been deeply muddled, as Gary Taubes, among others, has forcefully argued. This is because they haven’t adopted the guiding paradigm of evolution, the theory underpinning all of biology. Without a theory to interpret the data, they’re adrift at sea without a rudder, facing a bewildering array of disconnected facts with no way of relating them. Researchers like Loren Cordain, however, believe evolution can make sense of the facts but, if all the “experts” were to accept that premise, they’d have to admit that they were wrong and that the evolutionary health proponents were right. I, personally, look forward to the day…
It’s important to keep in mind that although humanity has been interested in diet and health for thousands of years, it is interesting to note that the organized, scientific study of nutrition has a relatively recent past. For instance, the world’s first scientific journal devoted entirely to diet and nutrition, The Journal of Nutrition, only began publication in 1928.
Thus, nutritional science is not only a newly established discipline, but it is also a highly fractionated, contentious field with constantly changing viewpoints on both major and minor issues that impact public health. For example, in 1996 a task force of experts from the American Society for Clinical Nutrition (ASCN) and the American Institute of Nutrition (AIN) came out with an official position paper on trans fatty acids stating:
“We cannot conclude that the intake of trans fatty acids is a risk factor for coronary heart disease”.
Fast forward six short years to 2002 and the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine’s report on trans fatty acids stating:
“Because there is a positive linear trend between trans fatty acid intake and total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol concentration, and therefore increased risk of cardiovascular heart disease, the Food and Nutrition Board recommends that trans fatty acid consumption be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet”.
Makes you wonder hey!?!?!?
In mature and well-developed scientific disciplines there are universal paradigms that guide scientists to fruitful end points as they design their experiments and hypotheses. For instance, in astronomy, the guiding paradigm is the “Big Bang” concept showing that the universe began with an enormous explosion and has been expanding ever since. In geology, the “Continental Drift” model established that all of the current continents at one time formed a continuous landmass that eventually drifted apart to form the present-day continents. These central concepts are not theories for each discipline, but rather are indisputable facts that serve as orientation points for all other inquiry within each discipline. Scientists do not know everything about the nature of the universe, but it is absolutely unquestionable that it has been and is expanding. This central knowledge then serves as a guiding template that allows scientists to make much more accurate and informed hypotheses about factors yet to be discovered.
The study of human nutrition remains an immature science because it lacks a universally acknowledged unifying paradigm. Without an overarching and guiding template, it is not surprising that there is such seeming chaos, disagreement and confusion in the discipline.
I am reminded here of the renowned Russian geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) who said: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. This is quite pertinent in the context of the present website. Indeed, nothing in nutrition seems to make sense because most nutritionists have little or no formal training in evolutionary theory, much less human evolution. Nutritionists face the same problem as anyone who is not using an evolutionary model to evaluate biology: fragmented information and no coherent way to interpret the data.
All human nutritional requirements, like those of all living organisms, are ultimately genetically determined. Most nutritionists are aware of this basic concept; what they have little appreciation for is the process (natural selection) which uniquely shaped our species’ nutritional requirements. By carefully examining the ancient environment under which our genome arose, I believe it is more than possible to gain insight into our present day nutritional requirements and the range of foods and diets to which we are genetically adapted via natural selection. This insight should then be employed as a template to organize and make sense out of experimental and epidemiological studies of human biology and nutrition.
To the detriment of the general population however, it would appear as if crap like the lipid hypothesis have managed to take hold of public health policies, almost on a mythological scale. The diet-heart or lipid hypothesis is the idea that saturated fat, and in some versions cholesterol, raises blood cholesterol and contributes to the risk of having a heart attack. To test this hypothesis, scientists have been studying the relationship between saturated fat consumption and heart attack risk for more than half a century. And, to judge by the grave pronouncements of our most visible experts, you would think these studies had found an association between the two. It turns out, most would be surprised, that they haven’t.
The fact is, the vast majority of high-quality observational studies have found no connection whatsoever between saturated fat consumption and heart attack risk. Read that again slowly: no connection whatsoever!!!!
Yet, this damn theory has been kept afloat for decades by what Taubes would call wishful science, as well as puritan sensibilities and selective citation of the evidence. It’s grand time to put it out of its misery, wouldn’t you say…
Weird science indeed.
Love to learn more. Thank you Johnnie.
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Heh johnny, just working my way thru ur highly interesting blog. I was wondering if there’s not more of a counterbalance to the eating fruit chat? Is there not a huge amount of nutritional factors to consider, eh vitamins and minerals, or does the fructose consequences take precedence?