Big fat disclaimer: I don't want to take anything from the guy, he has helped more people achieve health that most of us will ever dream of.
I've been reading his new book, The Paleo Solution, and while I agree with much of it, the chapter on fats (which I read first because I was curious on his stance) just doesn't ring true to the paleo principles. Having Loren Cordain as your mentor and author of your foreword kind of makes it hard to take a stance that is completely alien to Cordain's previous stance in The Paleo Diet.
I also understand that Robb's trying to help out the general population, which, arguably, would be more resistant to go full blown grass-fed and that limiting saturated fats in favor of monounsaturated fats could be a good idea in the case where you only have conventional meat. I think though that it's not hiding facts that will help people convert to eating food from well treated animals. After all, if someone is committed enough to change his lifestyle and eliminate gluten forever, switching to grass-fed meat doesn't sound like such a big deal.
For those who haven't read the book yet, here are a couple of things that jumped at me while reading it:
A great focus on having the right 1:1 to 1:2 n-3/n-6 ratio, but none on limiting polyunsaturated fats as a whole. He even still recommends up to 20g fish oil for a metabolically deranged 200 pounds man. After reading Kurt Harris and Mat Lalonde, it seems evident that PUFAs are to be limited as a whole. Mat Lalonde and Robb often collaborate, but they seem to disagree on that point.
He puts in good words about saturated fat, but "as long has it's kept within ancestral limits". Here are some quotes:
We see saturated fats tended to account for 10-15 of total fat intake in most populations.
I find it hard to believe, especially considering the Inuits, plain Indians and ancient northern Europeans.
MUFAs were the primary fat in our ancestral diet
Really? I know most sources of animal fat are high in MUFAs too, but to say that they were the primary fat source? The primary portion of most animal fats is saturated, with much of the rest monounsaturated. Avocados and olives were not drawn in caves.
Most of his meal plan resembles a lowish fat, high protein approach, which clearly is not the premise of a paleo approach and his bound to failure. Most of his recipes consist of a lean protein, veggies and olive oil with nuts and fruits here and there. Nut much coconut oil, lard, tallow or butter in there. Butter is out of the question because he maintains a negative attitude towards any dairy source, even Ghee.
He analyses the nutritional value of a day's food to show how much nutrient is in there and the sample diet is 38% energy from protein. It sound like way too much protein. He even mentions in a section on protein overfeeding that the liver can't process more than about 30-35% calories from protein. Also, more and more we start to see evidence that low protein, high fat is where it's at ( http://paleohacks.com/questions/10848/diet-low-protein-high-fat ). In the same diet example, 7% (18g) is from saturated fat, 26.7g from PUFAs, much to the opposite that what the paleo community his really eating.
So in the end I agree to most of what's in the book and understand the "political" pressures he probably had when writing the fat chapter, but I find it sad that the book that will probably become a pillar for those starting on a paleo diet still contains bias against saturated fat. Robb himself consumes large amount of coconut oil and talks about it on his podcast. In the book, he also recommends on limiting fruits for those trying to lose weight, but an advice like that could let people wonder what to eat other than protein, veggies and some olive oil.
Has anybody who read the book felt the same way about the way he treated the subject?
The other point that he brings to the table and from where he takes is lowish sat. fat stance is about Palmitic acid. He argues that ancestral saturated fat was more lauric acid and stearic acid and that it makes the bulk of the difference between grain-fed and grass-fed animals. He then argues that palmetic acid has been shown to raise LDL, doesn't mention which type of LDL though, large fluffy or small dense LDL. I know palmitic acid is the kind of sat. fat that our liver creates in the presence of excess carbohydrate to send to our fat cells so I would understand why it gets accused, but do dietary palmetic acid have the same effect has when it's made out of the excess sugar?
It would also be very interesting to see how much the type of saturated acids really differs from grain-fed and grass-fed animals. I though the main problem was a skewed n-3/n-6 and accumulated toxins in the fat, not the exact type of saturated fat. I quick look at wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat ) tells us that palmetic acid is the main sat. fat in most sources, but then again it doesn't differentiates between conventional sources and grass-fed/wild sources.
To summarize my questions:
- Anyone else not feeling it on the fat recommendations in the book?
- Can palmetic acid really be a problem and has it really been shown to be much lower in grass-fed animals?
asked byPaleo_Seb (3690)
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on September 27, 2010
at 11:22 AM
Robb's book hasn't arrived yet - it should get here today. I'm basing this on your representation of it.
Think for a minute about how much work would be involved in getting a can's worth of coconut milk. Does demolishing gobs of the stuff every day sound likely to you?
A while ago I did a blog post about the fat profile of various protein sources. I can't post the chart here, but I hope this won't be taken as self-promotion: fat chart.
OK, so regarding the Inuit. This is the fat content of 100g of seal blubber. Seal meat is very lean.
description: Oil, spotted seal (Alaska Native) total_fat: 99.320 saturated_fat: 14.740 monounsaturated_fat: 54.520 polyunsaturated_fat: 18.060
Looks like Monounsaturated to me. OK, Plains Indians. How about free-range bison? It's very lean, and I the USDA does not have numbers for the tallow only, but the percentages should stand up OK.
description: Buffalo, free range, top round steak, cooked (Shoshone Bannock) total_fat: 1.800 saturated_fat: 0.595 monounsaturated_fat: 0.614 polyunsaturated_fat: 0.171
It's close to even. Islanders are known to eat pork along with their seafood. How about that?
description: Lard total_fat: 100.000 saturated_fat: 39.200 monounsaturated_fat: 45.100 polyunsaturated_fat: 11.200
Hm, lots of monounsaturated there too. Beef and Lamb tallow have more sat than mono, but there's still plenty of mono there, and it's on the chart I linked to above. Buffalo and seal are not on there because I was sticking to things I might actually eat.
I do not lose weight on a high-fat, "adequate" protein diet. If I free-eat fat, which is what most high-fat diets suggest (I'm thinking Atkins induction), I will overeat it, and I will not lose weight. It's fascinating that I won't gain weight either since this flies in the face of most thinking on calories (that at some point, they do matter). I cannot, however, over eat lean protein.
Not everyone is the same, and if you're looking for something to justify eating tons of fat, Drs. Rosedale, Gedgaudas and Atkins all support that quite well.
on September 27, 2010
at 12:06 AM
You're sharp!! I've already asked Robb about the LDL 40-70 recommendation and he clarified that was not exactly based on human adult data...
IMHO Palmitic acid is not cardio toxic in most 'paleo/evolutionary' circumstances. We release it between meals in the fasting state. We also consume and it circulates post-prandially.
I think of high insulin/glucoses/inflammation and palmitic acid as the brakes and accelerator of a car. You would not press on BOTH SIMULTANEOUSLY, no? Neither would our bodies if we were in optimal health.
You are correct from what I've read -- palmitic and all saturated fats raise LDL but more importantly they raise the buoyancy and size particles ('good thing'). If there are a whole bunch of small dense, for some types (like apo E2) I think it raises both LDL total count and the small dense quantities. If small dense are already present, that usually means some inflammation and/or high carbs/grains and/or dietary saturated fat deficiency are already present.
These helped me: http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2009/09/palmitic-acid-based-food-vs-olive-oil.html http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/09/palmitic-acid-and-insulin-resistance.html
on September 27, 2010
at 02:43 PM
I don't think that Robb Wolf was under any "political pressure" in writing the chapter on fats. He simply has no reason to say anything that he doesn't believe to be true. As far as "10-15 percent of total fat intake" goes, see the paper this probably came from. The paper concludes that "the normal dietary intake of saturated fatty acids that conditioned our species genome likely fell between 10 to 15% of total energy, and values lower than 10% or higher than 15% would have been the exception rather than the rule."
In a recent interview (near the end if you go there), Cordain maintains that saturated fat intake is probably not much of an issue as long as one's diet is paleo. He is careful to point out that the diet is an attempt to replicate, using modern foods, the actual diet that paleolithic humans ate.
Paleolithic humans simply did not have access to all the fats they may have wanted. Even a fall-fattened deer is still a pretty lean animal. So the plains indians certainly ate a Cordain/Wolf-like paleo diet. The Inuit, on the other hand, had access to marine mammals, which produce a protective layer of blubber, as well as fatty fishes. So maybe the Inuit consumed more dietary fat, but they would have been one of the exceptions to the rule.
The idea that the paleo diet is a high-fat diet is simply not true (although it's "fattier" than the CW suggests we eat). It may well be that a high-fat diet (a la primal/PaNu) is health promoting, but there is nothing paleolithic about it. In fact, access to all the fat we want, especially combined with the ability to precisely regulate the fatty acid profiles of these dietary fats, isn't simply neolithic--it's post-neolithic.
on September 27, 2010
at 12:51 AM
I honestly think that for the intro/basic reader, keeping it simple and advising what will work best for the masses is the approach he might have needed to take. For those of us who are more educated on the topic and have been eating this way for some time, it's cool for us to ask the questions and delve further into the details.
I agree though, that I was a bit surprised to see the glassing over of the subject. I love fat! :)
on September 27, 2010
at 12:02 PM
Palmitic is in most cases slightly higher (max. 3%) in grain-fed but really nothing to worry about.
Cynthia A Daley 1* , Amber Abbott 1 , Patrick S Doyle 1 , Glenn A Nader 2 , Stephanie Larson 2
on December 07, 2012
at 06:49 PM
I think that both Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain are a little off the mark when it comes to the protein intake vs fat issue. I like the work of Nora Gedgaudes on this topic because she points to the importance of regulating leptin. I lost a lot of weight once I decreased my protein intake. I think there is reason to believe that our ancient ancestors got more fat from their diet than was originally thought because even though Elk and other wild animals tend to be lean, hunters prized the brains and other fatty organs as the first thing they would eat.
I know for me personally, a bit less protein and a bit more fat (and I eat lots of grass fed animal fat lately) is better for my appetite regulation, my digestion, and my mental happiness. I think that the nutrients in real fat are very valuable to human health.
That said, no one author in Paleo/Primal is going to ever have all the answers and I too commend Robb for all he has done for the Paleosphere. I do wish he would control his "potty mouth" at times, but Robb is Robb and errors and all, he is a great addition to the Paleo community.
on September 27, 2010
at 03:26 PM
I remember reading in several sources that saturated fats are only inflammatory in the presence of nasties like sugar, trans fat, and Omega-6 oils. It could be that Robb assumed most of his readers won't get rid of these things completely (at least not right away). So his going conservative on the satfat was a protective strategy so that Paleo doesn't get a bad rap for the wrong reasons.
on December 19, 2013
at 05:28 PM
I won't make a judgement until I read the book. But in general, Robb seems to have changed/evolved a lot of his beliefs throughout the years. He was low carb early on and then he became a big proponent of sweet potatoes for example.
on November 07, 2013
at 08:50 PM
I am a new inductee to the paleo scenario and I tried it due to a recent bout with an autoimmune indication and problems with digesting and processing carbohydrates from bread, pastas, rice, etc. Reading his book gave me insight into my current eating habits and after altering most of my foods within a 30 day period to match most of his recommendations, I was able to focus more during the days, sleep well, start losing weight, and reduce the autoimmune indication. I was already a person that didn't cook with oils, I steamed, grilled, and did all other things to the foods I was eating. I preferred the vegetables in their close to natural state, the meats well done, etc. I baked with coconut oil, and the ratio was very small to the remaining ingredients, each bread made 10 servings
and once steamed vegetables with coconut oil to see what it would taste like. I was not sure about the changes but within a week of going back to the regular diet, all things started to flare up again.
I took some of the things that Robb Wolf commented on and adjusted them for me. We can't live exactly as they did because we do not know for a fact what they ate, but his book did teach me that I can choose better eating habits. If I do have a predisposition or tendency to develop autoimmune reactions, avoiding certain things that can cause flare ups do no bother me. Especially since those things are not among my favorite foods anyway. The interesting addition to this, is that while adopting the Paleo from Robb Wolf and recipes along with what he indicated, I lost 15 pounds in 1 month and started feeling more vibrant, without ever working out. I am starting a tai chi and yoga regimen to work my heart out. I might also incorporate an hour walk per day to enjoy fresh sunlight.
In truth, I did not want a new diet or fad that I would feel pressured to adhere to or one that I would be looking for exits from. I found one in Paleo without a rigidity but a more beneficial output. What is healthy today will be unhealthy tomorrow. I don't need fats to that extent nor cook with it. I'll get it from the meats preferably and eat healthier. I do like coconut oil taste because I like coconuts but I do use it sparingly. Robb Wolf's book made me reappraise what I was using in foods, from butter to vegetable oils, etc. I will keep his advice on foods to avoid to reduce allergic reactions and I will adjust the rest to suit my needs. Even if it takes me a while to get to my target. As long as I get there healthily, and without medication or stress, I will be happy.
I am grateful to Robb Wolf for his introduction, and I am grateful to all of you Paleo persons out there, so that I can get support as needed. Please keep posting all things you find and updating the world, but please be careful with how you word things. The initial response received from the reading above is that Robb Wolf is writing so that he can get notoriety alone, even if his ideas are wrong and he knows it. With more reading and understanding, it does appear not to be that implication at all, but rather an idea that he may have been misled. Anyone who seeks knowledge about paleo diets should read all books explaining why and then make educated decisions, but an avid enthusiast can read this and run away or read this and get upset.
Please keep on advising the world and commending all those who seek to shed a light on the situation.
on September 27, 2010
at 06:09 AM
It's common knowledge among lowcarbers that the way to lose weight is to eat more fat. They don't seem to worry much about protein. I think it's cuz who wants to overeat protein? If you don't eat enough, then you crave it, but if you eat a certain kinda higher amount and then you don't want anymore. To me, at some point, the protein starts to taste very unappetizing all of the sudden. I would not want to eat a diet that meant I had to stuff down a lot of protein but not much carb or fat. Good way to get to feeling rather sick!
Edited to add: I have also been reading a lot of studies lately that people with low fat intake have inferior cognitive function and slower reflex response times compared to those with higher levels of fat intake. These people in the studies cycled through two types of diets, so they served as their own controls. Fat is necesary throughout the body for proper functioning.