3

votes

Carbs and saturated fat: A bad interaction?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM

I recently asked whether there are any aspects of the paleo diet that would be harmful if adopted outside an overall paleo context. Several people said it would be unhealthy to eat lots of saturated fat if you're also eating lots of carbohydrates. I've heard this idea before but haven't been able to find out the reasoning or support behind it. Can anyone tell me more?

To be clear, I'm not talking about increasing total energy intake but about replacing other fat sources with saturated fat. A couple of (obviously non-paleo) examples:

  • Alice's daily diet involves lots of whole grains and vegetables, a moderate amount of protein, and about 50g of fat from canola oil, corn oil, or almonds. Her weight is stable. One day she ditches those fat sources and starts getting 50g of fat per day from butter and lard.

  • Bob's daily diet is sadder. It involves lots of refined flour and sugar, but his fats are still mostly PUFAs. He gains a couple of pounds every year. He too changes out his usual fat sources for an equal amount of saturated fat.

What will happen to our two heroes? Why?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:03 AM

Yep, there is indeed.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:08 AM

Is there any evidence that saturated fat is more fattening than the same amount of calories of polyunsaturated fat?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:23 PM

Like my sister, who easily puts down 300+ grams of carbs per day via every Little Debbie product known to man and lots of alfredo pasta and gets very little protein, if any. For someone with her kind of diet, subbing coconut oil for canola would probably be a bad idea.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:22 PM

Like my sister, who easily puts down 300+ grams of carbs per day via every Little Debbie product known to man and lots of alfredo pasta.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:21 PM

I do that all the time, too! But I think it's more of a "Twinkie" thing where it's a combination of "bad" fats and unhealthy carbs like simple sugars, or an extremely high carb intake that most Paleoeaters, even those who aren't low-carb, could never attain unless they're purposely bulking up for a bodybuilding competition or something.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:17 PM

Starchy vegetables cooked in coconut oil is a winning combination for me personally!

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:15 PM

I am very interested in this question. It is something I have seen, feel intuitively that it is correct, but do not know the actual mechanism or explanation.

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4 Answers

best answer

4
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 15, 2013
at 11:26 PM

I'm of the opinion that almost any food can be bad in certain contexts. Saturated fats seem to increase the need for choline relative to polyunsaturated fats. See this post for more on that:

http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2010/11/sweet-truth-about-liver-and-egg-yolks.html

So for someone on a lowish protein diet not taking in much choline (from things like eggs, organs, meat, and legumes), switching from corn oil to butter might, at least in the short term, increase liver fat accumulation and other choline deficiency related ailments.

But as a whole, I personally believe switching from seed oils to animal fats will have a net positive effect on ones health regardless of the person's carb intake. There may just be the occasional exception.

2
Medium avatar

on March 15, 2013
at 10:54 PM

In both cases, the person's health would probably decline. The canola (and the corn oil in a tiny amount) have alpha linolenic acid, which even in someone with compromised desaturase activity due to cofactor insufficiency (zinc, b-6 etc.), will be converted in some small part to DHA. Same goes for the soybean oil that I assume Bob only eats.

As far as an actual interaction metabolically between saturated fat and carbohydrates, that sounds a lot like broscience to me.

Edit: Now that I think about it, the greater amount of palmitic acid in the lard would lead to a weight gain in Alice and an increased weight gain in Bob since the unsaturated fats are more likely to be burned than stored.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:08 AM

Is there any evidence that saturated fat is more fattening than the same amount of calories of polyunsaturated fat?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:03 AM

Yep, there is indeed.

2
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:37 PM

My personal hypothesis is that saturated fat is only a bad thing when coupled with high inflammation. High carb intake for the average non-Paleo person is probably very inflammatory, as the average person gets that high carb intake from grains and other inflammatory foods and habits. I don't think it's something that a Paleo eater would really need to worry about, even if they're a high carb Paleo eater.

But if anyone can actually give studies or explain the mechanism, or show how my hypothesis is wrong, I am all ears!

2
Ee6932fe54ad68039a8d5f7a8caa0468

(2668)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:28 PM

unless you're convinced that saturated fat is the root of all evil, i don't see why it would specially interact with carbohydrate to create any sort of problem. as long as you're in energy balance, a diet in which the fat is mostly saturated and monounsaturated is a healthy diet, regardless of its ratio to carbohydrate. before the invention of industrial seed oils, it would have just been the norm for everyone with resource to animal foods.

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