4

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Do you agree with Dr Harris's latest post that Cordain is wrong about palmitic acid in saturated animal fats?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 05, 2011 at 9:21 PM

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:

Wild vs Grass vs Grain Fed ruminants

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 18, 2011
at 09:01 PM

what about butter and cream? both of which have minimal carbs (nearly nil)

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 18, 2011
at 08:42 PM

I think Robb is better informed than Cordain on this and Matt LaLonde is better yet. Both of them believe that Palmitic acid is a big problem when it comes from carbs and de novo lipogenesis......but it is not as big a deal when it comes from omega six laden meats as part of the sat fat content........me....i am in the middle. I think if you have an insulin level over 5 and a HbA1c over 5 you need to be careful with the amount of Palmitic acid because of what it does to the hypothalmic signalling of leptin sensitivity. It remains an open question.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 06, 2011
at 09:31 PM

Hmmm. Well I cut my weight while bodybuilding, and I don't even know what those are.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 06, 2011
at 09:30 PM

"Eating fatty meats is a lot different than downing as much butter and coconut oil as you can stomach" - indeed!

9f9fa49265e03ddd2bf2bba5477a556b

(3184)

on April 06, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Bodybuilders cut weight with drugs. Their cutting diet consists of cytomel and clenbuterol.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:17 PM

Yeah, I personally think there is no obesity epidemic without fructose, but it's hard to quantify its effect. I'm tempted to try to find some sort of way to say "a gram of fructose is the lipogenic equivalent of X number of grams of fat" or something like that, but who knows what that would be. As far as Cordain goes, I think he simply can't have a "diet book" that advocates unlimited fat consumption. The failure rate is too high.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:12 PM

Cookbook paleo voting

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 06, 2011
at 05:57 PM

funny. this question was supposed to be a joke, but I'm not sure anyone got it. i didn't understand the high amount of upvotes on the previous Dr Harris post about Paleo 2.0 and commented under the question accordingly. http://paleohacks.com/questions/30734/whos-up-for-paleo-2-0. i figured surely someone would catch on, but since this has turned into a worthy discussion, I decided to add to my question instead of just posting a link, asking what people think, and then laughing at my computer screen all by myself in jest. i guess i have a pretty twisted sense of humor. carry on then.

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 06, 2011
at 04:24 PM

they changed very little and most likely only because of his friendship with Robb Wolf thought that is just speculation on my part.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 06, 2011
at 04:07 PM

I eat a ton but my omega 6 to 3 level is fab.....when it was not I did not eat as much sat fat because of what I found with testing. I am a tester.....i think you know little without testing. It's akin to research paper with no data

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 06, 2011
at 04:00 PM

good points here dorchid

2f54dbe892ec89b12d1db686568e885a

(919)

on April 06, 2011
at 07:42 AM

Isn't this somewhat worrying? Hedging bets, how much saturated fat, as a percentage of daily food intake would you recommend, or consume yourself?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:19 AM

such things. I guess it's just a question of where to draw the line. I think you're right that in many cases once you get to a certain point you will have to start consciously or semi-consciously (through avoiding super-dense fat sources) counting calories.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:17 AM

+1 for this thoughtful and interesting answer, even though I'm in the other camp. (Which you allow for, of course: "If that results in ad libitum hypocaloric eating all told, then it's effective. That simply doesn't work for me.") One thing to note is that the idea about efficiency of non-conversion to fat is in itself just an extension of the calories-in/calories-out theory -- which of course has its place. But if you're hormonally screwed up from something or other (fructose, anyone?) then the body can certainly find a way around this. I think you would acknowledge [continued]

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:49 AM

PUFAs and saturated fats are still hotly debated because no one really knows as yet. I think we need to get studies done but the NIH seems disinterested sadly.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:44 AM

I think this is a source of great controversy in the blogosphere. Cordain tried to explain himself in his new edition and on Robbs Podcast. I think Kurt maybe right.....but the science is not really there because no one has done a good enough study to call it. I am inclined to believe sat fat is not a problem in context but I do think context is precisely what cordain really meant when he stirred the pot. No one is being clear on it because no one really knows as yet.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:12 AM

Nice one tavis. Mirrors my experience and my opinion as well. Proof is in the pudding and looking at experienced weight cutters in the lifting world etc does indeed offer up valid info. Health versus performance is always a touchy issue for people.

Af2ad65226384cedd4f5f08825a75b5d

(665)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:03 AM

One of the best answer's I've ever seen when it comes to effective weight loss strategies. It may not perfectly answer the question, but it is superb advice.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on April 05, 2011
at 11:23 PM

Cordain was one of the first where I have learned that saturated fat is ok, they seem to disagree only on the amount of it that is necessary for optimal health.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on April 05, 2011
at 10:02 PM

Nowhere has Cordain ever said that saturated fat is bad for you. To the contrary, he simply recommends keeping it within ancestral limits, as if you ate the entire animal nose-to-tail.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on April 05, 2011
at 09:56 PM

That is, recommend to people who are new to non-mainstream dietary science, because I think saturated fat being good is one of the most important things to understand.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on April 05, 2011
at 09:55 PM

Yes, I absolutely agree that Cordain is wrong about saturated fats. It's a great shame, because otherwise, he would be an ideal resource, but as it is, I won't recommend his work.

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5 Answers

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15
Medium avatar

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.

Af2ad65226384cedd4f5f08825a75b5d

(665)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:03 AM

One of the best answer's I've ever seen when it comes to effective weight loss strategies. It may not perfectly answer the question, but it is superb advice.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:19 AM

such things. I guess it's just a question of where to draw the line. I think you're right that in many cases once you get to a certain point you will have to start consciously or semi-consciously (through avoiding super-dense fat sources) counting calories.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:17 AM

+1 for this thoughtful and interesting answer, even though I'm in the other camp. (Which you allow for, of course: "If that results in ad libitum hypocaloric eating all told, then it's effective. That simply doesn't work for me.") One thing to note is that the idea about efficiency of non-conversion to fat is in itself just an extension of the calories-in/calories-out theory -- which of course has its place. But if you're hormonally screwed up from something or other (fructose, anyone?) then the body can certainly find a way around this. I think you would acknowledge [continued]

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 06, 2011
at 09:30 PM

"Eating fatty meats is a lot different than downing as much butter and coconut oil as you can stomach" - indeed!

Medium avatar

(39821)

on April 06, 2011
at 06:17 PM

Yeah, I personally think there is no obesity epidemic without fructose, but it's hard to quantify its effect. I'm tempted to try to find some sort of way to say "a gram of fructose is the lipogenic equivalent of X number of grams of fat" or something like that, but who knows what that would be. As far as Cordain goes, I think he simply can't have a "diet book" that advocates unlimited fat consumption. The failure rate is too high.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:12 AM

Nice one tavis. Mirrors my experience and my opinion as well. Proof is in the pudding and looking at experienced weight cutters in the lifting world etc does indeed offer up valid info. Health versus performance is always a touchy issue for people.

9f9fa49265e03ddd2bf2bba5477a556b

(3184)

on April 06, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Bodybuilders cut weight with drugs. Their cutting diet consists of cytomel and clenbuterol.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 06, 2011
at 09:31 PM

Hmmm. Well I cut my weight while bodybuilding, and I don't even know what those are.

8
66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

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.

4
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

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

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 06, 2011
at 02:49 AM

PUFAs and saturated fats are still hotly debated because no one really knows as yet. I think we need to get studies done but the NIH seems disinterested sadly.

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 06, 2011
at 04:24 PM

they changed very little and most likely only because of his friendship with Robb Wolf thought that is just speculation on my part.

3
9dbfedbe21eae2a65093f8774ba8ad4d

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.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 06, 2011
at 04:00 PM

good points here dorchid

1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 06, 2011
at 04:23 PM

I don't have a font size big enough to print YES. Same with Art DeV. Stripes are hard to change sometimes.

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