7

votes

Pros of starting the day off with only fat

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 17, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I've been reading about bulletproof coffee lately and it made me wonder what the benefits were of having nothing but fat as a "breakfast" in the morning. I didn't see any previous questions about this so forgive me if I've asked a question that has already been answered. Does anyone have any thoughts or personal experiences on this?

5f2b384345050356bfd4fda5f2f169f3

(55)

on October 05, 2012
at 06:25 PM

I would disagree somewhat... a lot of the benefit of fasting comes from 1)lack of protein prompt autophagy 2)not even the slightest insulin bumps. A huge protein breakfast can distrupt both, whereas a fat breakfast will not. Also, I've heard that exogenous fat can actually encourage lipolysis... Ultimately though I just go by experience, and I can far 'outfast' my exongenous fat intake when I have it vs non at all...

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:06 PM

(either way I agree with you. it's not natural in the forms we consume.)

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:05 PM

interesting. MDA disagrees: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/stevia/#axzz278ly4R9r

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:49 PM

I have read bad things about stevia, from disrupting hormonal patterns to being used to fatten up feedlot animals faster. The taste of anything sweet will illicit some insulin response, which will at least partially blunt fat burning.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:43 PM

We do certainly tap into fat stores with calorie free foods, but food itself will illicit some hormonal (usually insulin) response. Also, bulletproof coffee is not calorie free- it has a lot fat in it, which is highly rewarding.

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:30 PM

you have any articles regarding whether or not we tap into fat stores in the presence of taste? (think coffee with stevia, no calories)

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 06:30 PM

Hey FY: 1) you have any articles regarding whether or not we tap into fat stores in the presence of taste? (think coffee with stevia, no calories)

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 21, 2012
at 12:15 AM

Good point raydawg, I though taste great went without saying!

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on September 20, 2012
at 09:26 PM

This is pretty much my breakfast also.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 19, 2012
at 09:28 PM

and it gives you insane energy... oh, and, I think you forgot to mention "It tastes Great" :)

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 19, 2012
at 09:22 PM

+1000! Awesome answer.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 19, 2012
at 05:46 PM

If bulletproof will affect the body in a similar manner as fasting, why bulletproof at all? Seems to me like all your doign is metabolically fastnig without actually burning your own endogenous fat for fuel. Also, the benefits of fasting are likely due to calorie restriction so in actuality you might only be getting part of the benefits (since butter contains calories).

Efd28623add25421afa2884b466163c4

(163)

on September 19, 2012
at 05:42 AM

I agree with everything you've stated except that CHO intake benefits fat oxidation rates. Fat and protein also stimulate the release of leptin. Also, it takes about a month of being on a strict ketogenic diet before skeletal muscles are efficient at fat oxidation. This is why ketostix gradually stop working.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 18, 2012
at 01:39 AM

@FED - I agree...I didn't mean *permanently* broken or broken beyond repair. The beauty of Paleo (and lowish carbs) is how good the human body is repairing itself when it finally gets what it needs, despite years and years of derailment. And thank goodness...many of us at PH are living proof. :)

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 18, 2012
at 12:44 AM

Carbohydrate intake is also closely related to insulin, leptin and ghrelin and a prolonged period of low-carbohydrate intake has a significant effect on these hormones. A low-carb diet may work by reducing circulating levels of leptin and insulin and thus resulting in "an improvement in CNS leptin and insulin signaling controlling for energy balance." (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/8/1944.long) At the same time, ghrelin concentrations increase along with subjective measures of hunger. Leptin (and exercise) stimulate skeletal muscle fat oxidation, suggesting benefit from CHO intake.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 18, 2012
at 12:21 AM

@Bonefed, obese individuals generally do burn more calories than normal weight individuals, but this does not mean that their metabolism is faster. This is like saying that a semi-truck is faster than an SUV because it burns more fuel. With regards to fasting, the time frame is the key variable. The metabolic effects of a 12 hour fast are drastically different than that of 3 day or three week fast (more info here http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/50/1/96.full)

Efd28623add25421afa2884b466163c4

(163)

on September 17, 2012
at 11:49 PM

"Even though you're eating plenty of fat, in the absence of at least some CHO now and then, the body interprets the metabolic state as one of a long-term fast, complete with whatever hormonal issues might come from that." What hormonal issues are we talking about? And what time frame is "now and then"? Also, I would have to say that "broken metabolism" is more than harsh, it's incorrect. Obese people usually have a faster metabolism than those with a normal BMI.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 17, 2012
at 10:55 PM

@Amy, perhaps "broken" metabolism is too harsh of a word. I would say that a better description would be "stiff". Just as it is possible to counter years of desk work with a comprehensive exercise program, it is similarly possible to counter the metabolic effects of poor dietary choices with a rejuvenating dietary regiment.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 17, 2012
at 08:43 PM

FED - that's a good point about kids. They can usually eat anything and be good to go...until they hit older age and decades of "getting away with it" have pretty much broken their metabolisms. And of course, sadly, more and more kids are "getting broken" much younger than ever. *Sigh.*

C6f441a3410394366ef567ebe2d55d00

on September 17, 2012
at 08:07 PM

oh man, thanks for the great information!

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 17, 2012
at 07:20 PM

Agreed Amy. I think that improved metabolic flexibility (vs being a dedicated "sugar burner" or "fat burner") is truly optimal and is likely one of the reasons why kids can seemingly "eat anything" while not gaining weight/bodyfat like adults.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 17, 2012
at 07:05 PM

As a long time, loyal low-carber who has "seen the light" about a lot of things re: metabolism/physiology, I can also recognize that the upper left and lower right graphs lend some visual backup to some of the problems some people on VLC for long periods of time experience. Even though you're eating plenty of fat, in the absence of at least *some* CHO now and then, the body interprets the metabolic state as one of a long-term fast, complete with whatever hormonal issues might come from that. Some people do GREAT on VLC, but I do concede that others run into problems, and this is probably why.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 17, 2012
at 06:59 PM

Yowza. These graphs are great! Really hammers home the point. And I agree with you - it seems like the key to *achieving/maintaining* that metabolic flexibility is keeping insulin levels low. If they're elevated almost all the time (like in an insulin-resistant T2 diabetic), then it'll *still* be difficult to run well on fat b/c insulin inhibits that switching. (At least until they've reduced carbs for long enough that the insulin levels are back to "normal" and they *can* switch to running on fat.)

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 17, 2012
at 06:15 PM

+1, sounds exactly like me! Love the Bulletproof coffee in a french press.

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11 Answers

best answer

13
Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 17, 2012
at 06:44 PM

A high-fat/low-carb breakfast (a la "bulletproof" coffee) will likely affect the body in ways similar to fasting. To see how this works, we can look at the following graph which tracks the respiratory quotient of individuals under different circumstances and metabolic inclinations.

pros-of-starting-the-day-off-with-only-fat

In the upper left hand corner of the graph, you can see the shift in metabolism from "glycolytic" (ie. sugar burning) to oxidative (ie. fat burning) over the course of an overnight fast. The black dotted line shows a "metabolically flexible" person (the term refers to the capacity to match metabolic processes to the available fuel source) while the white dotted line shows a metabolically "inflexible" person (typical of obese or T2 diabetics).

You can see how the overnight fast in the upper left hand corner is similar to the high fat diet in the lower right corner.

Conversely, you can see how a high carbohydrate diet is similar to an "insulin clamp" (a simultaneous infusion of both glucose and insulin).

This shows that the metabolically flexible person is both better at burning glucose and burning fat than the metabolically inflexible person. The underlying causes of metabolic flexibility/inflexibility are likely related to numerous factors, but it seems at least theoretically possible that you would enhance metabolic flexibility by challenging the body to switch from one fuel source to another.

Any regimen where you prolong fat metabolism (by fasting completely or eating only fat for breakfast) and only intermittently spike insulin release/glucose may accomplish this.

(Graph from "Metabolic flexibility and insulin resistance" Jose E. Galgani1, Cedric Moro1, and Eric Ravussin)

C6f441a3410394366ef567ebe2d55d00

on September 17, 2012
at 08:07 PM

oh man, thanks for the great information!

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 18, 2012
at 12:44 AM

Carbohydrate intake is also closely related to insulin, leptin and ghrelin and a prolonged period of low-carbohydrate intake has a significant effect on these hormones. A low-carb diet may work by reducing circulating levels of leptin and insulin and thus resulting in "an improvement in CNS leptin and insulin signaling controlling for energy balance." (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/8/1944.long) At the same time, ghrelin concentrations increase along with subjective measures of hunger. Leptin (and exercise) stimulate skeletal muscle fat oxidation, suggesting benefit from CHO intake.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 18, 2012
at 01:39 AM

@FED - I agree...I didn't mean *permanently* broken or broken beyond repair. The beauty of Paleo (and lowish carbs) is how good the human body is repairing itself when it finally gets what it needs, despite years and years of derailment. And thank goodness...many of us at PH are living proof. :)

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 17, 2012
at 07:20 PM

Agreed Amy. I think that improved metabolic flexibility (vs being a dedicated "sugar burner" or "fat burner") is truly optimal and is likely one of the reasons why kids can seemingly "eat anything" while not gaining weight/bodyfat like adults.

Efd28623add25421afa2884b466163c4

(163)

on September 17, 2012
at 11:49 PM

"Even though you're eating plenty of fat, in the absence of at least some CHO now and then, the body interprets the metabolic state as one of a long-term fast, complete with whatever hormonal issues might come from that." What hormonal issues are we talking about? And what time frame is "now and then"? Also, I would have to say that "broken metabolism" is more than harsh, it's incorrect. Obese people usually have a faster metabolism than those with a normal BMI.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 17, 2012
at 07:05 PM

As a long time, loyal low-carber who has "seen the light" about a lot of things re: metabolism/physiology, I can also recognize that the upper left and lower right graphs lend some visual backup to some of the problems some people on VLC for long periods of time experience. Even though you're eating plenty of fat, in the absence of at least *some* CHO now and then, the body interprets the metabolic state as one of a long-term fast, complete with whatever hormonal issues might come from that. Some people do GREAT on VLC, but I do concede that others run into problems, and this is probably why.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 17, 2012
at 08:43 PM

FED - that's a good point about kids. They can usually eat anything and be good to go...until they hit older age and decades of "getting away with it" have pretty much broken their metabolisms. And of course, sadly, more and more kids are "getting broken" much younger than ever. *Sigh.*

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 17, 2012
at 06:59 PM

Yowza. These graphs are great! Really hammers home the point. And I agree with you - it seems like the key to *achieving/maintaining* that metabolic flexibility is keeping insulin levels low. If they're elevated almost all the time (like in an insulin-resistant T2 diabetic), then it'll *still* be difficult to run well on fat b/c insulin inhibits that switching. (At least until they've reduced carbs for long enough that the insulin levels are back to "normal" and they *can* switch to running on fat.)

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 17, 2012
at 10:55 PM

@Amy, perhaps "broken" metabolism is too harsh of a word. I would say that a better description would be "stiff". Just as it is possible to counter years of desk work with a comprehensive exercise program, it is similarly possible to counter the metabolic effects of poor dietary choices with a rejuvenating dietary regiment.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 18, 2012
at 12:21 AM

@Bonefed, obese individuals generally do burn more calories than normal weight individuals, but this does not mean that their metabolism is faster. This is like saying that a semi-truck is faster than an SUV because it burns more fuel. With regards to fasting, the time frame is the key variable. The metabolic effects of a 12 hour fast are drastically different than that of 3 day or three week fast (more info here http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/50/1/96.full)

Efd28623add25421afa2884b466163c4

(163)

on September 19, 2012
at 05:42 AM

I agree with everything you've stated except that CHO intake benefits fat oxidation rates. Fat and protein also stimulate the release of leptin. Also, it takes about a month of being on a strict ketogenic diet before skeletal muscles are efficient at fat oxidation. This is why ketostix gradually stop working.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 19, 2012
at 09:22 PM

+1000! Awesome answer.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 19, 2012
at 05:46 PM

If bulletproof will affect the body in a similar manner as fasting, why bulletproof at all? Seems to me like all your doign is metabolically fastnig without actually burning your own endogenous fat for fuel. Also, the benefits of fasting are likely due to calorie restriction so in actuality you might only be getting part of the benefits (since butter contains calories).

9
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 17, 2012
at 04:45 PM

Benefits of Fat:

  • It tastes Great
  • Makes you feel fuller longer
  • It tastes Great
  • Improves Metabolic Function
  • It tastes Great
  • Aids in vitamin absorption (especially important if you take vitamins in the morning
  • It tastes Great
  • 96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

    (19463)

    on September 19, 2012
    at 09:28 PM

    and it gives you insane energy... oh, and, I think you forgot to mention "It tastes Great" :)

    3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

    (26217)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 12:15 AM

    Good point raydawg, I though taste great went without saying!

    2
    1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

    on September 19, 2012
    at 05:22 PM

    http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/270/The_Meat_and_Nut_Breakfast.aspx

    ^ That is my favorite way to start the day.


    EDIT: To answer your question though, the benefits of starting the day off with fat are

    1. It helps sell bullet-proof coffee.

    2. It makes you feel guilt-free when putting a knob of butter into your coffee.

    Real fasting occurs when you do not experience physiologic taste satisfaction and your body uses endogenous fat stores (not exogenous fat consumption) for energy.

    782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

    (5231)

    on September 20, 2012
    at 09:26 PM

    This is pretty much my breakfast also.

    De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

    (2227)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 06:30 PM

    you have any articles regarding whether or not we tap into fat stores in the presence of taste? (think coffee with stevia, no calories)

    De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

    (2227)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 09:06 PM

    (either way I agree with you. it's not natural in the forms we consume.)

    De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

    (2227)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 06:30 PM

    Hey FY: 1) you have any articles regarding whether or not we tap into fat stores in the presence of taste? (think coffee with stevia, no calories)

    1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

    (14952)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 07:43 PM

    We do certainly tap into fat stores with calorie free foods, but food itself will illicit some hormonal (usually insulin) response. Also, bulletproof coffee is not calorie free- it has a lot fat in it, which is highly rewarding.

    De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

    (2227)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 09:05 PM

    interesting. MDA disagrees: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/stevia/#axzz278ly4R9r

    1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

    (14952)

    on September 21, 2012
    at 07:49 PM

    I have read bad things about stevia, from disrupting hormonal patterns to being used to fatten up feedlot animals faster. The taste of anything sweet will illicit some insulin response, which will at least partially blunt fat burning.

    5f2b384345050356bfd4fda5f2f169f3

    (55)

    on October 05, 2012
    at 06:25 PM

    I would disagree somewhat... a lot of the benefit of fasting comes from 1)lack of protein prompt autophagy 2)not even the slightest insulin bumps. A huge protein breakfast can distrupt both, whereas a fat breakfast will not. Also, I've heard that exogenous fat can actually encourage lipolysis... Ultimately though I just go by experience, and I can far 'outfast' my exongenous fat intake when I have it vs non at all...

    2
    34eaa5751d7b8054befd46d401e599d4

    on September 19, 2012
    at 04:36 PM

    I'm not really a fan of butter. Coconut oil in coffee does sound good though perhaps with a side of bacon????

    2
    D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

    on September 17, 2012
    at 09:14 PM

    Coffee doesn't usually sit well with me either (after sending me rushing to the bathroom, I come out feeling very hungry), but on mornings that I don't have much appetite, blueberries with canned coconut milk feels pretty great. It's the only low-protein breakfast I've found so far that agrees with my metabolism.

    2
    61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

    (11058)

    on September 17, 2012
    at 04:36 PM

    I'm not generally hungry before leaving the house in the morning, so Bulletproof coffee is my go-to. It keeps me satisfied until around 4 in the afternoon. I use a 32-oz French press with 1.5 Tbs coffee, 3 Tbs MCT oil, and 3 Tbs unsalted Kerrygold.

    I only drink it on my early mornings and just eat when I'm hungry the other days.

    06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

    on September 17, 2012
    at 06:15 PM

    +1, sounds exactly like me! Love the Bulletproof coffee in a french press.

    1
    5f2b384345050356bfd4fda5f2f169f3

    (55)

    on September 20, 2012
    at 08:00 PM

    Some of the benefits of a fat only breakfast are also thanks to the lack of protein as well as lack of carbs. Some of the benefits of fasting come from an extended window with no protein; it prompts the so-called autophagy (basically forces our cells to clean house for a bit). That where one would argue a lot of the cancer detering affect of interimitten fasting comes from. Just like an IF, a fat only breakfast doesn't interup either the nice overnight insulin drop into fatburning, nor the cellular cleanup process... until a late lunch Bacon salad of course! :).

    1
    0e1e1fb7cb5ba898eed1976f988cdc37

    on September 19, 2012
    at 04:53 AM

    My husband and I love our bulletproof coffee! We both feel fantastic after drinking it. No hunger and lots of energy. I drink it and eat about 4-6 hours later, but my husband can go 7-8 hours before eating. We don't always wait that long, but it is satisfying. I kinda have to nurse it sometimes because it is so heavy. The later I finish it the later I eat.

    I feel much more satisfied after bulletproof coffee than most other things. The only other thing that satisfies me a similar amount of time (about 3-4 hours) is eggs and pemmican or eggs and sausage. I know that is not fat only, but just saying bulletproof coffee actually lasts longer than a protein source for me.

    1
    7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

    on September 17, 2012
    at 08:38 PM

    Coffee doesn't make my stomach happy, but I still go with fat for breakfast and find it keeps me satisfied longer. I will either eat 1/2 - 1 whole avocado with a pinch of salt and pepper or a few teaspoons of coconut manna.

    1
    C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

    on September 17, 2012
    at 06:59 PM

    I love starting the day off with a nice cup of Joe and 3 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil. It keeps me satiated and gives me tons of energy. Eating too early doesn't sound to appetizing anyway.

    0
    1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

    on September 21, 2012
    at 05:58 PM

    1. It helps sell bullet-proof coffee.

    2. It makes you feel guilt-free when putting a knob of butter into your coffee.

    Real fasting occurs when you do not experience psychologic taste satisfaction and your body uses endogenous fat stores (not exogenous fat consumption) for energy.

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