Saturated Fat: Friend not Foe

May 31, 2012 at 10:21

Little Miss Sicky Poo


Whenever I talk about the Primal diet with friends, coworkers, whoever happens to be listening at the time, we eventually get onto the topic of fat.  It often starts off with this question, “So what do you eat in a typical day?”  Usually I get as far as…”well, I usually start my day with a good helping of bacon and eggs”…and then the debate quickly takes off from there.

Leane, You Must be Crazy!
Possibly…but I digress.  The realization of how much saturated fat I consume regularly brings on strong reactions in most people.  They say things like, “Aren’t you afraid of getting heart disease?” to which I say, no, because contrary to conventional wisdom, saturated fat does not cause heart disease.  Another common question I get is, “Won’t you get fat if you eat all that fat?” to which I say, well, clearly not since I am a size 2 with roughly 18% body fat.  And just to set the record straight, I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have high blood pressure and I’m in better health then I have ever been as opposed to when I followed the flawed conventional wisdom of avoiding saturated fat.  I don’t need a million studies to know that I am healthier for this change, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done my homework which I will share with you shortly.

You Just Have Good Genes
At this point people start to argue that I have good genes which explains why I can eat the way I do and remain skinny, fit and healthy.  I’ll be frank, that’s just bull (insert expletive here)!  Heart disease runs rampid in our family.  In fact high blood pressure, stroke and a brain hemorrhage took the life of my mother at the young age of 58.  I have gone through times in my life where I have struggled to keep weight off and my body fat down.  If I’ve been making it look easy, trust me, it hasn’t been, until now.

Saturated Fat is Not Bad for You
This has been evidenced by studies done on the high saturated fat diets of groups such as the Tokelau, the Masai, and the Inuit.  There is a great body of evidence that diets that are high in saturated fat and low in carbohydrates yield results of good health.  In the early 1900’s, when the incidents of heart disease and obesity were substantially lower than they are now, the idea that fat was bad for you was ridiculous and unheard of.

A Change in Conventional Wisdom
In 1956, conventional wisdom flipped on its back when the American Heart Association started promoting public service announcements about the risks of heart disease from a high saturated fat diet.  The formation of the American Heart Association’s new ideas about the negative effects of saturated fat began with an epidemiologist named Ancel Keys who had long studied the effects of fat and cholesterol on heart disease.

Historically Keys fought a long uphill battle to push his hypothesis on the American public and finally came out on top with the infamous Seven Countries Study which tracked a correlation between fat consumption and heart disease in various countries.  This study brought Ancel Keys to super star status and landed him the cover of Time magazine.  The study, however, had omitted a substantial amount of evidence from other countries that discredited his theory.  Subsequent studies that have been done have been inconclusive or completely unsupportive of Key’s claims.  Unfortunately, by that point, it was too late and Keys had won public acclaim and his scientific hypothesis became the new law of conventional wisdom.

People were now being told to restrict their overall fat consumption and specifically saturated fat consumption and replace these with highly processed vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola oil and soybean oil.  They were also advised to increase the amount of grains and carbohydrates in their diets.  It is important to note here that this brain child of the late Ancel Keys has ushered in an era of the highest rate of obesity and heart disease that we have ever seen as a nation.  In other words, you are being fed a big, fat lie!

We Are Meant to Eat Fat
Man is designed to crave and eat fat.  Your body needs fat in order to function properly.  Have you ever been on a very low fat diet?  I have.  My hair started to fall out, my skin was dry and grey, my nails were splitting and I generally didn’t feel very good. Gross!

Diets that are high in fat and protein are very satiating which means that we eat less and have more energy to burn during the day.  In contrast, diets high in carbohydrates and low in fat are not satisfying.  They cause us to be hungry constantly which leads to an increase in food consumption and an over abundance of calorie intake.  This is why people that are dieting by means of low fat and high carbs always feel deprived and hungry.

I eat about half of the amount of food that I used to now that I am primal and I never feel deprived.  I don’t count calories, I don’t count fat grams, and I really don’t care.  Your body has the ability to regulate its intake of food if you are feeding it the right stuff.  It is so liberating to just eat when you are hungry.

Don’t Believe Me?  Do Some Homework
If you can’t get past the idea that fat is bad for you and that a low fat, high carb diet is the Holy Grail of health, then let me bring in the big guns.  Below I have provided a few resources that are sure to give you pause and reflect on what you now believe to be true.  Sometimes you have to stray from the herd to find the truth!

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