When it comes to saturated fats, Cordain has managed to sort of alienate himself and has become somewhat of "The Black Sheep" of the Paleo community that he helped champion, specifically regarding his stance on palmitic acid.
Dr. Kurt Harris argues that wild red meat animals (like those our ancestors would have killed and eaten) are very fatty and that this is a good thing for health. His stance basis is from a combination of both research and his own personal experience of hunting, killing, and eating wild game. Cordain leans more toward the recommendation of consuming leaner meats and that palmitic acid is likely a contributor to heart disease.
Dr Harris argues that Cordain seems to contradict himself at times and that hunter gatherers would have been eating fatty wild animals and that palmitic acid is the storage fat and courses through our blood even in a fasting state, indicating that the body chooses to do this on purpose.
Do you agree with Dr. Kurt Harris, Dr. Loren Cordain, neither entirely, or maybe somewhere in between?
Here is the article from Dr. Harris:
asked byJack_Kronk (18452)
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on April 05, 2011
at 11:09 PM
In my experience, keeping fat down to reasonable limits is most effective for losing bodyfat. You very rarely see high-fat cutting diets employed by successful bodybuilders for this reason. There's an upswing in keto diets, but many of them admit that they're more catabolic. Most of theirs are actually almost non-fat, which is less than ideal health-wise as we all know, but still effective for losing fat. If you eat carbs in a glycogen-depleted state, it gets stored as glycogen. If you eat protein within your synthesis limits, it gets turned into various structures, enzymes, etc. If you eat a bunch of fat, it gets packaged into chylomicrons and sent to the fat cells for the most part if you are eating the amounts than many high fat diet proponents are advocating. If that results in ad libitum hypocaloric eating all told, then it's effective. That simply doesn't work for me.
Eating a high fat diet is best for health, but not always best for weight loss unless you can glean a ton of satiety (and thus are eating fewer calories) out of it, which usually requires little to no carbs. If you don't want to go that route and you want to lose bodyfat, then you need to keep an eye on the highly energy dense fat that you're eating. Eating fatty meats is a lot different than downing as much butter and coconut oil as you can stomach.
Eating like a contemporary hunter-gatherer or an anatomically modern human from the past is great if you have the same lifestyle and goals as they do. Odds are you spend most of your time around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and are markedly less active in general than they are. We can try to simulate the feeling of really needing to survive but it's simply not the same.
A guy in the pleistocene constantly working hard to not die simply has different goals than an office worker in 2011 trying to get in shape for summer.
That all being said, if you're at a desired body fat percentage that you are maintaining with a really high fat diet, then go for it; it's likely a lot healthier than shifting that to excessive protein or carbs. I dunno how many of us are actually in that situation though.
I would never advocate the ridiculous practices of eating only egg whites or "boneless, skinless chicken breasts" but let's say you are eating high fat paleo + starch and you hit a plateau. Your breakfasts are eggs, bacon, and potatoes lunch is fatty meat and veggies or starch and dinner is similar. Let's say carbs add up to a reasonable 150g a day. You might be tempted to start cutting the carbs back, but maybe the problem isn't that you added carbs, but actually that you've made 500 calories of butter disappear into those potatoes and other vegetables. This is what I was doing. As you increase carbs, you are increasing fat intake substantially. Now, if you kept the diet the same but just ate steamed sweet potatoes without butter or rice, you'd be cutting a lot of calories out of your diet without losing out on much in the way of nutrition. Your carbs are still appropriate and your performance doesn't suffer as a result, but you've pulled out some additional fat padding on your diet that was holding back a body fat loss. "Fat doesn't make you fat" is simply not true. Converting amino acids or glucose into fat is far less efficient than simply converting fatty acids into triglycerides. Evolution will favor the more efficient process. If fat comes packaged with meat, I say it's fine, though an all bacon diet would likely be less than ideal for fat loss. Cutting back on neolithic saturated fat in some instances can be highly effective for breaking through a plateau.
The same would be true for switching to slightly leaner cuts or trimming obvious huge gobs of fat off of your steaks temporarily. You still end up eating a lot of healthy fat, but you're controlling the energy density of your meals to a greater extent. Once you get to where you'd like to be, you adjust fat intake upward until a balance is reached.
For example, I was eating tons of lamb blade steaks that were strikingly fatty. I switched to leg steaks, and even though there's more meat on the latter and I'm obviously sucking the marrow out of the bone, I'm sure the caloric difference is in the hundreds for a day. I am constantly thinking "how many hours did I just get out of that meal" in terms of satiety, and it ends up being the same. The fat simply isn't conferring the advertised level of satiety.
on April 05, 2011
at 10:10 PM
Whatever cordain's views on saturated fat are, the lipid hypothesis zombie needs to be beheaded once and for all. It's scaring many ppl out of making healthier choices.
on April 05, 2011
at 10:11 PM
Cordain was wrong. I have heard rumors that following revisions of The Paleo Diet will have this viewpoint changed quite a bit. And I've read interviews where he has admitted that Sat Fats are not so bad. He still isn't a fat zealot like most of us, but he's starting to get the point...
He still believes that Sat Fats are dangerous when paired with foods that exacerbate inflammation - read interview here
on April 06, 2011
at 03:56 PM
My biggest takeaway from Dr. KH's post is this line: "It is clear cut to me. There never was any reason to indict saturated fat."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is metabolic syndrome NOT the number one 'unintended consequence' of indicting saturated fat? The emphasis on carbs/sugars/fructose in the past few decades has made possible an upswing in morbidly obese people. I remember when a 500lb person would make tabloid headlines, so unreal was it (like 'Batboy'). Nowadays we don't bat an eye, and it's unfortunate that most people think it was the obese person's lack of willpower that led them to this situation.
I could definitely see how context must be considered, because as our country's history shows, we are prone to extremes. Say saturated fat is ok, and you know thousands of people will gorge up on it (see diet soda, one of the biggest culprits in type II diabetes). However, I think Dr. KH aims to avoid extremism, period. For example, he's made the previous point which is that food is not a panacea - we can't expect it to cure cancer or make us supermodels (though hopefully it can prevent many cancers and help us maintain our ideal weight). We just need to live optimally, and completely refuting the lipid hypothesis is part of resolving the misinformation of the past half-century.