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Low-Moderate Fat Paleos: How do you get enough calories?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 27, 2010 at 7:59 PM

Hello,

I'm interesting in hearing from people who's calories from fat are under, say, 50%. What do you eat on a given day? I'm having difficulty figuring out how to get enough daily calories without lots of butter and coconut oil.

F3e27fc503b7d792d78718af081adf67

(149)

on October 28, 2010
at 05:23 PM

Matthew, that's not the least bit helpful. What do you eat on a typical day?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on October 28, 2010
at 10:48 AM

Our paleolithic ancestors had neither butter or coconut oil and they managed ok :)

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on October 28, 2010
at 03:46 AM

hear hear on the vitamin, mineral focus!

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 27, 2010
at 09:29 PM

Yup. Cinnamon and Kerrygold..mmm And Bacon.

F3e27fc503b7d792d78718af081adf67

(149)

on October 27, 2010
at 08:49 PM

Thanks. I eat a lot of meat and potatoes but with butter on the potatoes it all ends up being over 50% fat.

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9 Answers

3
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on October 28, 2010
at 09:23 AM

If you're eating only 50% fat (or less), then given that you can't reasonably get more than 30% of your calories from protein (I would probably say less than 25% is optimal) then you'll necessarily have to get at least 20% calories from carbohydrate. On a 2500 calorie diet that's at least 125g, which is not an absurd amount (at least according to Mark Sisson and unless you're trying to lose weight), but is clearly not low carb. Getting enough calories on a moderate carb diet isn't a challenge at all. Whereas low carbers tend to find themselves downing cream and pouring butter over anything they can to fit calories in, eating lots of calories from sweet potato is incredibly easy.

Obviously for the source of carbohydrate you want to avoid fructose or lactose and the best way to do this is by eating predominantly starch, since it's hard to find any whole foods that are predominantly glucose. In consequence, sweet potato is probably the best best. You can try to get a lot of your carbohydrates from vegetables, but this can be quite challenging and will also up your fructose intake (which will generally be 50% of your total carb intake).

Also, while I'm not trying to talk you out of a higher carb diet, trying to fill up your calories having limited yourself to 50% of calories from fat seems somewhat arbitrary. A more typical way of working out macronutrient ratios is working from how much protein and carbohydrate you need, since these have specific metabolic functions and purposes (e.g. replacing amino acids and repairing muscle with protein, increasing serotonin and lessening ketosis with the carbohydrates) and then just adding enough fat to these to make up your daily calories. I think of fat as quite metabolically neutral, it's not really doing anything, just adding to your own fat stores to provide as much fuel as you need. This is the strategy pursued by both the Optimal Diet and Perfect Health diets in determining ideal macronutrient ratios. Both specify the minimal amount of protein you need for structural repair (since both think excess protein is quite metabolically costly, which for me on the OD is 75.5-82.5g and on the PH diet 50g (the OD has a specific formula based on height, varying for build, whereas the PH just suggests a general rule and allows variation, as long as protein remains very low). Carbohydrate intake for me is half protein, so just under 40g, on the OD and 100g on the PH (the diets have distinct rationalisations for how much carbohydrate one needs). Then in both cases you pretty much just eat fat to fill up the rest of your calorie needs, though the OD suggests this will average around 3.5x as many fat grams as protein grams and the PH diet suggests that fat will need to make up about 70% of your calories (that being for a 2000 calorie diet).

So that would make those recommendations roughly 14% protein 7% carbohydrate on the OD 10% protein 20% carb on the PH diet. Obviously lots of paleos, esp those doing lots of exercise think you need more protein, but that's another debate. The point is that you'll need a fixed amount of protein, with any excess being useless/harmful and you'll want a fixed amount of carbohydrate (assuming you want to perform various specific functions like lessening ketosis, reducing cortisol, raising serotonin etc); the amount of fat you'll want is just added onto this to make your calories up. I can't imagine any reason to artificially limit fat calories and then add protein/carbohydrate to make up your calories. Adding protein/carbs in excess will have various metabolic downsides, whereas adding more/less fat is comparatively harmless in itself and any excess protein/carbs consumed will just turn into fat anyway.

3
Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on October 27, 2010
at 11:39 PM

Why don't you want a lot of fat? A high fat diet is probably the healthiest, but do you have a specific medical condition? Otherwise, I would just eat fat and not worry.

2
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on October 27, 2010
at 08:08 PM

Meat. Mmm.

I have been having great results with reintroducing sweet potatoes and white potatoes. I however do not recommend this unless both highly active and healed(restored natural insulin sensitivity)

Did I mention meat?

F3e27fc503b7d792d78718af081adf67

(149)

on October 27, 2010
at 08:49 PM

Thanks. I eat a lot of meat and potatoes but with butter on the potatoes it all ends up being over 50% fat.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 27, 2010
at 09:29 PM

Yup. Cinnamon and Kerrygold..mmm And Bacon.

1
14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

on October 28, 2010
at 07:44 AM

Well, if you're going low fat, then you are by necessity high-carb, and your body is running on glucose, in which case you could get calories from carby vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash, potatoes). Just eat more of those.

Check out the Okinawan diet (longest living people in the world). Their staple is the sweet potato, but they also eat lots of pork, tofu (fermented foods), fish, and sea vegetables. Sounds like a good diet to emulate.

This is pretty close to the diet Stephen Guyenet seems to recommend (from a comment of this post):

If I were to design an "optimal diet", it would be based mostly on starchy tubers (multiple kinds), pastured meats including organs, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables. It might also contain a smaller amount of fermented non-gluten grains, beans, fruit, eggs and dairy. But realistically, it would depend on the individual

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 28, 2010
at 03:39 AM

Sometimes I eat cut fruit and a bit of meat for lunch. Plus a bit of meat or breakfast. And I might eat a salad and some veggies for dinner plus a bit of meat. If the meat does not have enough fat and the fruit has enough calories, then my fat intake will be under 50% for that day. I don't actually make a huge effort to control my fat intake though. I only checked my fat consumption out of curiosity. In fact, the main thing I now try to control for is my vitamin and mineral intake. I try to make sure I get decent levels of all needed nutrients daily. And I make sure to eat a little fat at each meal to improve gut absorbtion of nutrients (many nutrients require presence of fat to be absorbed). Even when I eat cut fruit, I will put a bit of banana in there. It may boost sugar a bit but it also has a little bit of fat in it (plus is tasty!)

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on October 28, 2010
at 03:46 AM

hear hear on the vitamin, mineral focus!

1
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on October 28, 2010
at 02:37 AM

Yeah, I eat three meat meals a day usually somehow cooked in coconut oil or lard. Add some fish oil and veggies and I get up to 2500 cals pretty well. My goal is to get from 150 to 200 grams a protein a day and I keep my carbs between 50-100. That leaves the rest for fat. Remember fat is also in the meat you eat, you can choose fattier cuts to up your calories like eating dark meat chicken. Also making dishes with coconut milk adds lots of cals. I try not to eat butter.

My ratio on Fitday looks like this: http://yfrog.com/0w7npp

I am guessing those who get their fat to 50% must be taking in a 4th meal of protein or something. I find it tough.

0
84f2ebde3766d05896406e1b0ad5b079

on November 07, 2010
at 10:10 PM

For me, (also 63", just FYI) I eat around ~100 grams of protein, ~60 grams of carbs, and ~90 grams of fat on the average day. Puts me around 1400 cal, with about 50% of my total calories coming from fat. I find that this ratio keeps me satiated. On heavy work out days I go higher and on days when my appetite is off I go lower, but with this eating I maintain a weight with which I am happy.

0
24868bf5aa2c49e269392765932d9dc4

(510)

on October 28, 2010
at 07:18 PM

This is not an answer but really another question added on to this one--my problem is that I find it hard to keep protein intake LOW (or even moderate, really) and up the fat. I'm only 63" tall so using OD ratios my protein ration is fairly low. I don't remember off the top of my head because I gave up on OD a while ago--I feel best when consuming around 100-120 g of protein daily, and this was out of the range if I remember right.

I do need to lose weight but also seem to feel rotten when I cut carbs as low as some on this thread suggest--ideas? Given that my height is about 63", and that I do want to lose weight, what would be a reasonable break down (in grams) for p/c/f to strive for? Thanks.

0
F3e27fc503b7d792d78718af081adf67

(149)

on October 28, 2010
at 05:27 PM

Thanks a bunch everyone! Food for thought (literally)!

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