Fears over a vitamin c deficiency is one reason that people worry about when embarking on a ketogenic diet. However, it has been shown in several scientific studies that this fear is unfounded.
Here’s why: First, many fresh, low carb vegetables such as peppers and dark leafy greens like kale and broccoli have loads of vitamin C. Plus, eating less carbohydrate results in needing less vitamin C. This is because glucose competes with Vitamin C for access to the same metabolic pathways in the body (Reference here).
So if your carbohydrate intake is high, you will have to increase your intake of vitamin C containing foods or natural supplements to get enough vitamin C to overcome the high blood sugar. It’s only when eating the standard American diet which is high in carbohydrates and grain consumption that vitamin C needs are higher. Lowering your carb intake lowers the need to supplement with Vitamin C.
Because animals are able to make vitamin C internally, their flesh contains it. If you eat no carbohydrate at all, you can get enough vitamin C from lightly cooked meat and fat alone.
Don’t believe it? Read this:
While studying the Inuit people in Alaska, anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson documented the fact that the Inuit diet consisted of about 90% meat and fish. During his time there, he followed their custom, and he and the entire tribe would eat nothing but meat and fish for 6-9 months of each year. This was essentially a zero carb ketogenic diet. Stefansson survived on this ketogenic diet for 9 years while living with the Eskimo. When he returned to city life and described his experiences, doctors were amazed that his health had not suffered.
Stefansson himself wondered if his health had suffered during those years, so he agreed to an experimental study. He would live at the Bellevue hospital in New York City and eat nothing but fat and meat for an entire year. The doctors involved with this study came from Harvard, Cornell and other prestigious organizations, and they were convinced that he and another volunteer, Dr. Karsten Anderson, would develop health problems or at least vitamin deficiencies.
The volunteer’s food intake was kept under close scientific scrutiny, so cheating was out of the question. The food that they ate was analyzed and the end of the study, the daily totals were averaged and noted:
Total daily calories: 2000-3100
Daily Protein Intake: 100-140 grams (15-25% of calories)
Daily Fat Intake: 200-300 grams (75-85% of calories)
Daily Carbohydrate Intake: 7-12 grams (1-2% of calories)
At the end of the experiment, Stefansson and Anderson remained in perfect health – no vitamin deficiencies or serious health issues occurred. The results of the study were published by the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1930. (Download from this site).
It’s kind of ironic.. eating fruits and vegetables increases your carbohydrate intake, which increases the danger of a vitamin C deficiency. Good thing that fruits and vegetables have vitamin C included.
There’s a great post here by the people at Break Nutrition on vitamin C needs for those on a ketogenic diet.
While you’ve likely seen people bench pressing or deadlifting with a weighted barbell at the gym, you don’t necessarily need to wait until a bench or squat rack frees up to get a good workout. In fact, depending on your goals, you may only need one thing: a weight plate.
(Image: Halfpoint Images/Moment/GettyImages)
VIDEO OF THE DAY
This relatively inexpensive piece of equipment is not only easy to store and use, but it’s more versatile than you might think. A weight plate can be used for strength training, endurance work, flexibility, balance and injury prevention.
Whether you’re dragging and pushing plates for cardio, throwing plates outside to build explosive power or simply working on grip strength, introducing plates into your workout can add some variety to your routine. Check out this weight-plate workout and see for yourself. Just be sure to start with a lighter weight before you increase the resistance.
For the following warm-up, all you need is one weight plate. At first, use the same weight plate for all five exercises, but as you get stronger, add heavier weights for some of the exercises. Perform this warm-up and workout for two to three rounds.
Hold the plate from the sides and twist the chest and shoulders to one side while bringing the knee on that side forward.
Quickly reverse the direction and switch the position of the feet.
Repeat for two sets of 40 twists.
Full-Body Weight-Plate Workout
The four exercises of this main portion of the workout will hit almost every muscle in your body and improve flexibility in your shoulders, core and hips. These exercises are also designed to improve balance and coordination.
Since this workout demands weighted movements of both the arms and legs, start with a lighter plate and go heavier if you’re comfortable after the first set — but maintain good form!
Move 1: Press and Step
(Image: Martin Rooney)
Stand with feet together and the plate at chest level with the elbows at your sides.
Then, while keeping the head at the same height, simultaneously step the foot out in the direction you are moving while pressing the plate forward.
Hold for one second and then move the other foot sideways to return to the original position.
Repeat for three sets of 20 steps and presses.
You can use an open space and move in one direction for the whole set, or if space is limited, just move back and forth each step.
Move 2: Raise and Step
(Image: Martin Rooney)
Stand with feet together and the plate held at your shins with the elbows at your knees.
Then, while keeping the head at the same height, simultaneously step the foot out in the direction you are moving while raising the plate overhead.
Hold for one second, then move the other foot sideways to return to the original position.
Ancient Romans found the idea of breakfast repellent. They were “obsessed with digestion,” according to the historian Caroline Yeldham, and believed eating more than one meal a day was unhealthy and gluttonous.
If that’s the case, the likes of Cicero and Marcus Aurelius were early adherents of “intermittent fasting,” which is a catchall term for a handful of related diets that either restrict food intake to certain hours of the day or limit intake several days each week. The nomenclature can get confusing, but the most popular and evidence-backed of these fasting plans are known as time-restricted feeding, alternate-day fasting, and the 5:2 diet.
The first — time-restricted feeding — involves compressing the day’s snacks and meals into a narrow window of time, usually six or eight hours. The operating theory here — one that, to an extent, nearly all nutrition experts support — is that the human body wasn’t designed to consume and digest food all day, every day.
“Most people are putting something caloric in their mouths essentially every minute they’re up, and we know that from an evolutionary perspective, this is not how humans or animals are geared to eat,” said Mark Mattson, a fasting researcher with the National Institutes of Health and an adjunct professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
In both human beings and mice, studies have found that constraining food intake to an eight-hour window promotes weight loss, regardless of diet quality. “If you restrict the time window of eating, you can put animals on a McDonald’s diet and they don’t get fat,” Mattson said.
No one is suggesting a McDonald’s-only plan. “I think quality of diet is important in the long term for reduction of heart disease and diabetes risk,” said Krista Varady, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But in the short term, even if people don’t eat healthier, they still lose weight.”
Varady coauthored a 2018 study that found obese men who ate only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. lost an average of 3 percent of their body weight after three months, and also improved their blood-pressure scores.
Apart from that 2018 study, much of Varady’s research has focused on alternate-day fasting. These diets involve eating freely one day and restricting food intake to 500 calories the next. “Alternate-day fasting produces faster weight loss, but it’s harder to follow,” Varady said. In three months, she said someone on a time-restricted diet can expect to lose five to 10 pounds, while someone on an alternate-day fasting regimen would likely lose 10 to 15 pounds.
In three months, she said someone on a time-restricted diet can expect to lose five to 10 pounds, while someone on an alternate-day fasting regimen would likely lose 10 to 15 pounds.
Weight loss aside, the metabolic and disease-lowering benefits appear to be similar when comparing time-restricted feeding and alternate-day fasting diets, Varady said. And the same goes for 5:2 plans, which involve eating normally five days a week but mixing in two non-consecutive days of caloric restriction — usually defined as 500 to 600 calories or fewer. A 2018 studyin the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people lost an average of 7 percent of their body weight after 12 weeks on the 5:2 diet, and a 2018 study in JAMA found that following a 5:2 plan for one year improved blood-sugar scores among people with Type 2 diabetes. Both of these studies found that the 5:2 plan either matched or bested traditional diet strategies that involved cutting calories on a daily basis.
All this evidence has nutrition experts buzzing. Traditionally, popular weight-loss plans have concerned themselves with the types and amounts of foods a person eats. Most have involved either cutting carbs or cutting fat. But time and again, research has shown that these approaches fail in the long run. While most diets work in the short term, inevitably, the weight comes back. The appeal of intermittent fasting is that it concerns the timing of meals, not the content. “It’s not good to constantly bombard our bodies with nutrients,” Varady said. “Fasting gives the body a break from having to deal with food coming in all the time.”
At this point, Varady said, the research doesn’t reveal which of the popular fasting plans is optimal for health or weight loss. There aren’t good head-to-head studies comparing these diets. But time-restricted feeding — because it does not involve severe restriction or counting calories — seems to be nosing ahead of its competitors. “People like it because all they have to do is watch the clock and pick their window,” Varady said. (A common practice is to skip breakfast and morning snacks, and then eat freely from noon to 8 p.m.) Experts usually cite poor adherence as the prime reason that diets fail in the long-term. If people find it easier to stick with time-restricted feeding compared to other fasting diets, as studies to date suggest, that’s a big selling point.
Another unsettled question: Are fasting diets beneficial for healthy people who aren’t trying to lose weight? Here, the data are murkier.
“We only have good evidence that intermittent fasting is a good option for overweight and obese people,” said Michelle Harvie, a research dietitian at Manchester University in the U.K. who studies the effects of intermittent fasting on health and disease. “We don’t know of [intermittent fasting’s] benefits in normal-weight people as it has not been studied.”
Varady shared this view. “There’s not that much evidence out there at this point on healthy adults,” she said. Some studies found that certain groups who practice intermittent fasting for religious reasons — such as Seventh-day Adventists and Orthodox Christians — enjoy health benefits. But Varady said these groups tend to lead healthy lifestyles, at least compared with the average American, and so it’s tough to tell whether to credit fasting. “I’m hopeful that intermittent fasting will have more general health benefits, but we need more long-term studies,” she said.
But while most of the work on intermittent fasting involved sick or obese adults, there is some evidence that periodic, long-duration fasts may also benefit healthy folks.
“The longer you fast, the more you basically kill cells,” said Valter Longo, a professor of biological sciences and gerontology at the University of Southern California. “That sounds like a bad thing, but the cells that die are unhealthy ones.”
According to Longo, dysfunctional cells and disused cell components steadily accumulate in the body as a person ages, and these ailing cells contribute to the aging process and age-related diseases like cancer. But when the body gets an extended break from food and digestion — something on the order of five days — it has to break down its own tissue for sustenance. And in so doing, it ends up clearing away unhealthy cells and making room for new ones to flourish. “So fasting kills cells, but with refeeding [following the fast], the cells not only come back but are healthier,” he said.
Some of Longo’s work — most of it on mice — found that an extended fast can trigger a number of beneficial biochemical changes, including the regeneration of healthy cells and a retardation in the growth or development of cancer cells and tumors. More of his work has found that fasting reduces inflammation and oxidative damage, and also “reprograms” an individual’s metabolism in ways that may combat Type 2 diabetes.
It normally takes several days of water-only fasting for the body to initiate these processes, and this kind of fasting can be dangerous without close medical supervision. But some of Longo’s research on humans found that a specially designed, temporary fasting diet — known as the fasting-mimicking diet, or FMD — can provide people with sustenance without interrupting these cell-regenerating operations. “It’s not pure fasting — it’s not water-only,” he said. “People can eat nuts and non-starchy vegetables, raw or cooked, dressed with a tablespoon of olive or canola oil and lemon, vinegar, and salt.” But the FMD is very low in calories — as low as 300 per day, depending on a person’s health status — and no proteins or carbohydrates from grains are permitted, he said.
A 2017 study of Longo’s found that people who stuck with FMD for five consecutive days a month for three months were slimmer, had lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol scores. They also had lower circulating levels of hormones associated with inflammation and disease risk. Here again, FMD benefited adults at risk for disease more than healthy ones. But Longo said most Americans fall into the “at-risk” group, and he believes FMD can help prevent or lower a person’s risk for a number of age-related diseases.
“If you’re very healthy, I would say do the fasting-mimicking diet two to three times a year,” he said. “If you’re unhealthy, once a month, but only with a doctor’s recommendation.” (Based on his research, Longo helped formulate diet products that are sold commercially under the name ProLon. These provide people with the nutrients they need to safely complete a five-day fast without undue risk. He donates his share of profits to charity and does not receive consulting fees from the company.)
In the not-too-distant future, the evidence backing fasting diets may be so solid that doctors recommend these plans to sick and well patients alike. The science isn’t there yet. But for overweight or obese Americans looking for new, research-backed diet strategies, few are as promising as those that incorporate elements of fasting.
Red meat is the ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk, according to a leading nutrition expert.
Red meat ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk, says nutrition expert
Professor Robert Pickard, emeritus professor of neurobiology at Cardiff University, said the agricultural industry had been ‘the butt of an enormous journalistic effort to sell copy by producing totally indefensible headlines’ about red meat causing cancer.
Prof Pickard also hit out at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report which claimed processed meats ‘definitely’ cause cancer and lean red meat ‘probably’ causes cancer.
Speaking at NFU Cymru’s annual conference in Llandrindod Wells last week (November 7), he said: “There is not a single proven case of eating red meat or processed meat actually causing a cancer.
“This [is not] objective scientific analysis. This has been put together by people who have their own agenda, which is nothing to do with the nutritional benefit of red meat and red meat products.
“Look at the listing into which they put processed meat. You have got arsenic, you have got diesel exhausts, you have even got plutonium. No serious scientist would do this.
“If you feed plutonium to laboratory mice, they will develop tumours, sometimes within days. After about three or four weeks, they will all be developing tumours.
“If you feed processed meat to the same laboratory mice, they will just get fat.”
Prof Pickard went on to say he has not had a single complaint from the authors of the report, despite publicly criticising it in the years since its publication.
“But I have had lots of letters from other people in the scientific community, and practising doctors, saying ‘thank you very much for putting the record straight’,” he added.
“Red meat is the most nutritious food you have available on your plate. It contains all the minerals, all the vitamins, all the protein amino acids which are required in the correct ratio and all the fats which are required in the correct ratio.
“It is the most perfect food for a human being, and coming close behind it is milk. Babies build their entire bodies getting nothing but milk for months and months.”
Source: Article by Abi Kay (https://www.fginsight.com/news/red-meat-most-perfect-food-for-humans-closely-followed-by-milk-97570)
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and Linus Pauling, one of my favorite scientists in history, believed it was the solution to all diseases of civilization. Together with vitamin E it reduces lipid peroxidation. It’s a cofactor in many enzymatic reactions – including those in the making of collagen and carnitine.
But what I was most concerned about was that inadequate vitamin C can result in scurvy.
Vitamin C is essential in the synthesis of collagen. Many animals can synthesize vitamin C out of glucose. But humans as well as primates like monkeys and apes lost this ability about 60 million years ago. We lack the enzyme (L-gulonolactone oxidase – GULO) that is required in the last step in the synthesis of Vitamin C from glucose. [r]
Because of this, we must consume our vitamin C or risk the consequences of scurvy – fatigue, weakness, gum disease, poor wound healing, and potentially death from infection or bleeding.
Looking through the lens of evolution has influenced my nutrition views as much as looking through the lens of microscopes. Evolution doesn’t tend to just drop things because they are no longer useful. It selects for advantages.
But what’s the advantage of not synthesizing an essential vitamin?
In our evolutionary history, we also loss the ability to break down uric acid. And there is a striking parallel between the loss of the ability to synthesize vitamin C and the loss of the ability to break down uric acid.
Uric acid is a major antioxidant, more potent than Vitamin C.
Losing the ability to break down uric acid resulted in higher levels of uric acid in primates. These high levels are thought to explain the relatively long lifespans of apes.
It’s entirely possible, if not likely, that increased uric acid took over many of the antioxidant functions of vitamin C.
Glucose-Ascorbate Antagonism Theory (GAA Theory)
When we look at animals that make their own vitamin C, we find they make less of it when carbohydrates are low.
Which is interesting – low carbohydrates would indicate a lower vitamin C intake from the diet and presumably a higher need to make it endogenously.
Yet we see the opposite.
The more carbohydrates/glucose an animal eats, the more vitamin C it gets from its food, AND the more it makes endogenously.
This suggests that more vitamin C is needed in a glucose-based metabolism.
It also suggests that Vitamin C requirements may be less in low-carbohydrate conditions. [r]
This makes sense though.
Glucose and vitamin C look very similar. There molecules are nearly identical. They even use the same pathways for absorption into cells. Because of this they directly compete with each other for uptake into cells. And glucose wins out preferentially.
This is why drinking orange juice doesn’t make sense (at least for vitamin C purposes). It may have a lot of vitamin C, but it’s high sugar content blocks that vitamin C from getting used.
This is also why diabetics with high blood sugar have strikingly similar symptoms that are seen with scurvy. They are vitamin C deficient even though they may be getting “adequate” intake from their diet or supplements. The glucose blocks out the vitamin C.
In fact, the benefit of vitamin C in disease may not have anything to do with its antioxidant properties. Rather, high dose vitamin C could sometimes compensate for the glucose overload and insulin resistance that is characteristic of many of the diseases of modern man.
Linus Pauling was on to something after-all.
Meat, Vitamin C, and Scurvy
Our food labeling would lead us to believe that meat doesn’t contain vitamin C. But it does.
And in the absence of carbohydrates far less vitamin c is needed. It doesn’t have to constantly compete with glucose for uptake.
The amount of vitamin C to prevent scurvy is just 10 mg/day in the context of a high carb diet.
In a low/no carb diet, even less is needed.
On the Carnivore Diet, the meat content plus the absence of carbs creates an environment that doesn’t result in scurvy.
Vitamin C’s role as a cofactor in hydroxylation reactions (transferring a hydroxl group to the amino acids lysine and proline), is what helps make the building blocks of collagen. But meat comes “pre-packaged” with hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline – further bypassing much of the requirement for vitamin C.
So even though the amount of dietary vitamin C consumed on a meat-based diet may be lower compared to that of a plant-based diets with fruits and vegetables, the former has a lower need for vitamin C with higher bioavailability.
“Well if we don’t need Vitamin C to prevent scurvy on a meat-based diet, surely we need its antioxidant properties, right?“
Endogenously synthesized uric acid and glutathione (natural human antioxidants) are much more powerful and take over much of the roles that vitamin C would play. Plus, in a low carb diet these powerhouses are up-regulated.
In essence, we “turn on” more of our most powerful antioxidants. In addition glutathione and uric acid spare vitamin C by recycling it.
So Do Humans Need Vitamin C?
Yep we do.
But how much is entirely dependent on the context of one’s diet. If you eat a high carb diet, you need a lot more vitamin C to compete with those carbs for uptake.
Contrary to popular belief, meat does contain vitamin C, and in the context of a low/no carb diet like the Carnivore Diet, very little vitamin C is actually needed to prevent scurvy. This environment also up-regulates our naturally produced antioxidants. It’s likely the loss of endogenously synthesized vitamin C was not detrimental to our hominid ancestors but rather conferred a competitive advantage (perhaps from the uptick of the likes of uric acid and glutathione) that coincides with our remarkable ability to recycle the vitamin c.
However, a mismatch, the “discordance theory,” between our current diet and ancestral physiology is likely the cause of vitamin C deficiencies and their association with disease.
As is seen time-and-again in research, the clinical manifestation (vitamin C deficiency for example) is the consequence, not the cause, that can only be understood in the proper context.
Whether you’ve seen it scrolling across your social feed or saw it in a recipe, it’s pretty clear that ghee is experiencing a surge in popularity.
But what makes ghee so different from butter? And is one better than the other?
In this article, I’m going to break down the difference between ghee and butter and shed some light on why each of them should hold a place in your kitchen.
Let’s start with the simple stuff – butter. Butter is made by churning cream until the fat separates from the solid. The solids are butter. Butter does have some water and dairy protein remaining, it is about 80% fat by volume.
Ghee is a form of clarified butter, a process where butter is heated at a low temperature to separate and remove excess liquid and dairy solids (*). As a result, pure butterfat remains. During this process, a caramelized, nutty, rich flavor develops.
The butter also changes from a pale to a deep yellow color. The resulting product is shelf-stable, has a higher smoke point (this means you can cook with it at higher temperatures) and, based on USDA food analysis, is a bit more nutrient-dense than butter.
The History of Ghee
Ghee has been used for thousands of years in the Indian culture. The origins of ghee have both historical and practical roots. The heat in India and other parts of southern Asia does not lend itself well to storing butter. Once the butter is processed into ghee, it has a longer shelf life.
Ghee is considered a sacred fat in Hindu mythology and is a pillar of sacred Hindu rituals even today. Prajapat, the god of offspring, is said to have created ghee by rubbing his hands together. When he poured the ghee onto the fire, he created the first offspring.
In Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient healing science from the eastern tradition, ghee is used to blend herbs for medicinal purposes.
The Benefits of Ghee
#1. Low in Dairy Protein and Lactose
Ghee has trace amounts of the dairy protein casein and milk sugar lactose. This is advantageous for those with an intolerance to dairy proteins or lactose as it is so low that most people with sensitivities tolerate it.
However, those who are highly sensitive or allergic should probably avoid it. Butter does not have much of either of these either but, if you’re sensitive, a little is problematic.
#2 Nutrient Dense
Because ghee has less water and protein than butter, the nutrients that hang out in fat, like Vitamins A, E, D, and K, are more concentrated (*).
Ghee is also a source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (*). Beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is found in small amounts in both butter and ghee and is what gives it the yellow color (*).
Ghee also contains butyrate (*), a short-chained fatty acid that is found in animal milk as well as produced by intestinal bacteria in the digestion of carbohydrates.
It has a wide array of health benefits including reducing inflammation in the gut lining, nourishing and reinforcing the gut barrier and may play a role in the prevention of colon cancer (*).
Finally, ghee is a source of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCT’s are easier for the body to digest than other fats and are especially good for someone following a ketogenic diet as the body can convert them into ketones pretty efficiently.
MCT’s are also known to boost energy, enhance cognitive function and reduce appetite (***)
Before we move on, you may be wondering what all these vitamins and other nutrients actually do for our bodies? Take a look at this quick simple summary of the nutrients and their function to wrap your brain around why we want to boost them in the diet.
Of course, these nutrients don’t have one singular function but the purpose here is to give you the basics and keep it simple.
Bone health, blood clotting
Skin health, protects cells from oxidative damage
Bone health, immunity
Anti-inflammatory, improve body composition by reducing body fat (*)
Anti-inflammatory, supports gut health
#3 Shelf Stable
Ghee does not require refrigeration. Because it is newer to the US culinary and health food scene you may sometimes find it in the refrigerated section – mostly because some people just don’t know it doesn’t need to be kept cold!
Ghee will last about 3 months after the jar is opened. It’s best to store ghee (and other fats for that matter) away from light and heat to maximize nutrient density, quality, and shelf life.
#4 High Smoke Point
Removing the dairy proteins and lactose, gives ghee a higher smoke point than butter, 485 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 300 degrees, to be exact. This means you can cook with it at higher temperatures without fear of burning the fat or the rest of your dish. Burning fat and food cooked in fat doesn’t just taste bad, it’s also bad for your health.
Burning damages food, especially fats, and turns otherwise healthy food into something that is harmful to your health. Eating large amounts of burned or charred foods is associated with an increased risk for colon cancer.
#5 Rich Caramel Flavor
The process of making ghee creates a caramel-like flavor that adds richness to foods and beverages like bulletproof style coffee, curries, sauteed veggies, and soups.
#6 Transports Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble meaning they require fat for transportation through the body. Cooking or topping food with ghee ensures these vitamins are absorbed.
Butter has a milder flavor since it is churned rather than heated (like ghee) and doesn’t stand out as much as part of the flavor profile of a dish or beverage.
Butter and ghee have all the same nutrients but there is more water and dairy protein in butter so the nutrients are slightly lower.
So just like ghee, butter contains vitamins A, D, E and K as well as CLA and butyrate. There is some discrepancy in whether butter or ghee is higher in butyrate.
#4 Less expensive
In general butter is technically less expensive. This is because there is more water by volume and butter requires less processing (fewer steps, fewer resources = lower cost).
Whether using butter or ghee, always choose grass-fed when it’s an option.
Sure, you’ll be at a restaurant or neighborhood party and it may not be available but when it is – it’s absolutely worth it to choose grass-fed.
You’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat”, well this goes for animals as well as people! Animals that eat green plants (ie cows that eat grass, fish that eat algae, etc.) are higher in nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids and the CLA I mentioned above (*).
The green plants have more nutrients per calorie than grains like corn or wheat.
As a result, the meat, dairy, eggs and any other byproduct of these animals are going to be higher in nutritional value. Like humans, grain fed cows are less healthy.
What About the Saturated Fat?
Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap for the last several decades but what we now know is that much of the research supporting the theory that saturated fat is bad for health is weak and more recent, well designed studies show that it does not increase risk of heart disease or death (*).
Saturated fats do play a role in good health, one of the biggest is raising levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and increasing the size of LDL particles (**). The small particles of LDL are the subtype of LDL that are most closely connected with heart disease.
In fact, the MCT’s I mentioned earlier are a saturated fat. MCT’s are more easily turned into ketones and used for fuel as compared to longer chain fats and have a number of health benefits as noted above.
Ghee vs Butter Comparison – Per 2 Tablespoons
Nutritional Data from the USDA Standard Reference Database and sourced through Cronometer
786.4 IU (34% DV)
709.1 IU (30% DV)
3.3 IU (1% DV)
2.9 IU (0% DV)
0.7 mg (5% DV)
0.7 mg (4% DV)
2.2 μg (2%)
2 μg (2%)
Rich, nutty, caramel
*Nutrients are measured in different ways based upon their chemical composition and the origins of their discovery, g=grams, IU = International Units, mg = milligrams, μg = microgram
Cooking with Ghee
Ghee can easily be swapped for any oil or butter in cooking. Because of its high smoke point its ideal for high heat recipes like roasting or pan-frying foods like meat, vegetables, and eggs. Ghee also blends well into hot liquids like coffee and tea for a foamy, frothy, latte like beverage.
Because ghee is higher in fat than milk, blended coffee with ghee is more satisfying and provides more energy than a traditional latte. Many people use ghee in morning beverages to simulate fasting without hunger. Because there aren’t any carbs in ghee, the body is sort of tricked into thinking it is fasting.
Where to Buy Butter and Ghee
Butter is typically sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. As discussed earlier, make sure to look for grass-fed butter. While organic butter does come from cows that eat grass, the labeling standards for using the terms “grass-fed” on the packaging are higher.
Anymore you don’t need to go to a fancy health food store to get grass-fed butter, in fact you can get it at most grocery stores.
Ghee is shelf-stable (hopefully, you’ve gotten that concept at this point!) so you can buy it through online retailers and specialty food companies or you can buy it at the grocery store.
Ghee should be on the shelf with other oils however, many grocery stores still put it near the butter. So, if you’re having trouble locating it, make sure to look in the dairy case.
Some good brands of ghee include Organic Valley Farms and Fourth & Heart. For butter, Kerrygold is my favorite.
How to Make Ghee
If you want to save some money, try making ghee at home. It’s simple. Here’s how:
1. Heat butter on medium low until it starts to separate
2. Skim the whey off top
3. Cook until it’s clear and all milk solids sink to the bottom
4. Let it cool and strain through a cheese cloth
Voila. One of the most nutritious foods in the world. It’s time to throw those vegetable oils in the trash.
The Take Home
Both grass-fed ghee and butter are nutritional powerhouses for the diet. Both have a place in the kitchen – butter in the refrigerator and ghee in the pantry.
While ghee can be used interchangeably in both low and high-temperature cooking, butter should be reserved for dishes cooked under 300 degrees F.
While ghee has slightly more nutritional value, the differences aren’t huge. The largest benefit of using ghee is that it is dairy protein and lactose-free.
So, if that is a concern for you choose ghee, if not use whichever you prefer for low temperatures and ghee for higher temperature cooking.
Do you want to make yourself immune to chronic disease?
If so, you need to prevent and reverse insulin resistance.
Good news and bad news. Which first? Okay bad news…
Insulin resistance is related to almost every chronic disease:
It may not cause them all. But at the very least, persistently high insulin levels exacerbates them.
Good news: you can reverse insulin resistance. And reversing it is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Learn more below about why insulin resistance is bad and the 8 simple steps to reversing it.
What is Insulin?
Our cells generate energy from three different sources: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Protein is a minor player. Most of our energy comes from carbohydrates and fat.
When Ancel Keys brainwashed us into fearing saturated fats, we needed to replace fat with carbohydrates. According to the CDC, from 1971 to 2000 American’s increased carbohydrate consumption by 25%. Fat was also reduced to less than 30% of calories.
Today animal products only constitute ~10% of calories in a standard American’s diet.
Despite both being macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats produce very different chemical reactions when consumed. When we eat a carbohydrate, this leads to a complex chain reaction, which can take a toll on us.
At any given time, your body only has a very small amount of sugar in your blood — around one teaspoon in your entire circulatory system.
When you digest carbs, you break them down into glucose. For example, when you drink soda, your body will quickly break that down into glucose, and dump 5-10 teaspoons of sugar into your bloodstream. Five times more than the existing amount.
Your body, rightfully so, freaks out.
Your body (specifically your pancreas) responds by secreting insulin, which drives glucose into cells to ensure blood glucose levels stay constant. If this process doesn’t work, you’d have an instant case of diabetes.
How responsive blood glucose is to insulin is your insulin sensitivity. The more effective insulin is, the more insulin sensitive. The less effective, the more insulin resistant.
However, most people don’t need all the energy they just consumed. At rest, your body burns at most 50 kcal of glucose per hour, so a lot of the new glucose goes into storage as glycogen [*].
Your body can only store so much glycogen, and when it exceeds these levels, the glucose is turned into fat. This process is called lipogenesis [*].
The glycemic index, which you have probably heard of, measures how much blood sugar rises and lowers after certain foods.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Over time your body can become less responsive to insulin’s signal.
How does it happen? Insulin resistance is an energy overload problem.
It’s a result of maxing out all your fat cells. The simplest way to put it is that you’ve exceeded your ability to store energy, but there’s still abundant energy in your blood that your pancreas is trying to force into the fat cells.
Think of it like a packed elevator and somebody is running for the door. You, the fat cell, don’t want to let them in even though you make eye contact. It’s an awkward situation…
Your cells don’t want more energy and are giving the middle finger to the rest of your body. They refuse to let energy in and start fighting with your pancreas.
Your pancreas pumps out insulin, but your cells become less and less responsive to it. This is insulin resistance.
What Causes Insulin Resistance?
The biggest cause is consuming too much carbohydrates and fat together.
Because excess glucose gets stored as fat it doesn’t make sense to simultaneously burn fat. So glucose and fat are burned reciprocally.
Our bodies are too efficient to both burn and create fat at the same time.
Instead, your body physically blocks fat from entering the cell to be converted to energy when insulin is present.
If carbohydrates are eaten occasionally and they are lower glycemic, your insulin levels will normalize and your body will burn fat as fuel. But, as we all know too well, most people eating carbs aren’t doing so occasionally.
According to a new research by Dr. David Ludwig, when insulin is present:
“Our rapidly growing fat cells take up too many calories, leaving too few for the rest of the body. That’s why we get hungry. And that’s why metabolism slows down if we force ourselves to eat less.” [*]
So, to summarize, when you eat carbs, a chain reaction occurs:
Blood sugar spikes
Pancreas secretes insulin
Insulin secretion shuts off fat burning
Excess sugar gets turned into glycogen and fat for storing
Because you’re not burning fats, your cells get more and more packed. But you simultaneously have new energy in your bloodstream – the carbs and newly synthesized fats – that need to get in.
In response to the elevated glucose levels in your bloodstream, your pancreas pumps out more and more insulin to push the energy into your cells.
The efficacy of the insulin drops over time until your cells become resistant to its secretion.
Basically, to summarize: so many carbs are around that you can’t ever burn fat.
Carbs and Fat Together Make You As Fat As Possible
And because sugar and fat are burned reciprocally, if you combine them it makes you as fat as possible. All the fat just goes straight to storage.
Nutritional scientists have discovered this and actually use this methodology to fatten up rats. Researchers created an “obesogenic rat chow” made up of 14% protein, 45% fat and 40% carbohydrates.
Well, thanks to the USDA, our basic dietary recommendations are basically the same obesogenic rat chow.
The fat and sugar accumulate in your bloodstream, causing more futile insulin secretion. When your insulin levels are chronically elevated, this is called hyperinsulinemia.
Unsubstantiated evidence led experts to substitute saturated fats for poisonous carbohydrates. Now hundreds of millions of people around the globe are insulin resistant today.
Every time you eat carbohydrates — especially refined, high glycemic carbs — your body goes to war with itself. And you lose.
Ancel Keys’ Junk science has destroyed your health.
Hyperinsulinemia & Insulin Resistance Causes More Death Than WW1 and WW2 Combined
When you’re more insulin resistant, your body requires MORE insulin from your pancreas to push glucose and energy into cells.
High insulin may not cause all chronic disease. But at the very least it exacerbates them. Having persistently high fasting insulin levels is called hyperinsulinemia. It usually goes hand in hand with insulin resistance.
If you have insulin resistance, you’re at risk for chronic disease. There’s no chronic disease that’s not related to insulin resistance:
The opposite of insulin resistance is insulin sensitivity. You want your body to only release small amounts of insulin and for it to be very effective.
How can you become more insulin sensitive?
If you have insulin resistance, your body is at war with yourself. Your pancreas is willing to blow up everything to win. And your cells are extremely stubborn, have shut the door and are not giving up. They can’t give up because they’re full!
The loser of the battle: your health.
You’re calling for the white flag. Below are some ways to reverse it and end this futile war.
1. Cut Out Highly Glycemic Carbs
Shocker: the best way to reduce high insulin levels is to stop eating the crap that raises it!
The amount of times I’ve seen someone with type 2 diabetes continue to eat carbohydrates is sickening. You’d think that this would be the obvious first step, but unfortunately it isn’t because it can open doctors to lawsuits.
According to diabetes Dr. Bernstein, MDs prescribe a high-carb diet to their diabetic patients just so that they don’t get sued.
Even though this leads to blindness & amputation, it prevents hypoglycemia, the 1 thing they can be sued for [*].
Carbohydrates are one of the main reasons why insulin exists. Most are highly insulinogenic. And they’re non essential (i.e. you don’t need ’em).
They’re providing nothing for you other than satisfying your carb addiction. If you’re insulin resistant you need to cut out carbs and fuel yourself from fat ASAP.
In this study, participants on Keto:
Ate 30% fewer calories
Lost 4 lbs in 14 days
Decreased hemoglobin A1c levels from 7.3% to 6.8%
And most importantly….improved insulin sensitivity by 75%
This is in just 14 days!
The Ketogenic diet will reduce your insulin needs. It also will increase your metabolic rate, which frees up your fat cells to burn energy like they’re supposed to.
Subjects of this study burned more energy just by having lower insulin levels. That’s the magic of reducing insulin.
Lastly, carbohydrates cause oxidative stress, which worsen insulin resistance and inflame your entire body [*].
If you want to optimize your health, cut out these inflammatory, unnecessary carbs.
2. Stop Eating Fructose
I know I rail out against carbs and glucose frequently. But somehow fructose is even worse. It’s like glucose’s evil twin.
Glucose and fructose metabolism are different. Almost every cell in the body can use glucose for energy. But only the liver can metabolize fructose.
Fructose is like a nuclear bomb headed straight for your liver every time you eat it. It is 20x more likely to cause fatty liver than glucose alone.
And fatty liver can lead directly to insulin resistance.
In this study, subjects were given 25% of their calories as kool-aid, sweetened with fructose or glucose for 8 weeks [*]. High school me would have been the first to sign up for this test….
It may seem like a lot, but actually this diet isn’t too different from an American’s diet today.
The fructose group was more insulin resistant and developed pre-diabetes after just 8 weeks.
3. Cut Out Vegetable Antinutrients
Vegetables aren’t here for human survival. They don’t want to be eaten.
Turns out those “innocent and healthy” veggies are quite devious after all. To prevent predators from eating them, vegetables all have chemical weapons and booby traps set.
They’re all like Kevin McAllister in Home Alone. Innocent looking, but destructive. Don’t judge a book by its cover…
And they wreak absolute havoc on your body, especially in high doses. This study found that when lectins they reach the bloodstream, they can bind insulin receptors and thereby interfere with insulin’s action [*]
This allows you to maximize nutrient intake, while minimizing energy. Remember, insulin resistance is an energy overload problem. So you want to give your cells a chance to expend energy, rather than take it in.
This study showed that patients on a high protein diet — 30% of their calories — completely reversed type 2 diabetes [*]. If this were a drug, doctors would be raving about it…
But it’s the only thing more magical. And that is red meat.
Protein also improves satiation and will reduce hunger. And protein tends to be correlated with low insulin foods.
Another study below showed that a high fat diet will reverse ALL coronary heart disease risk factors — including insulin — vs a low fat diet.
If you want to be healthy, you need to get off of your ass. You need to try to mimic your hunter gatherer ancestors as much as possible. But still continue to follow me on Twitter, even though they didn’t…
Unfortunately, most people today are sitting down and eating all day. Most people are cramped in a cubicle surrounded by snacks. You want to do the exact opposite. Move around as much as possible throughout the day.
And most importantly for insulin resistance, conduct high intensity exercise.
Other than consuming red meat, exercise is the fastest way to reduce insulin resistance. Just one single bout of high intensity training can increase insulin sensitivity 40% [*]
This study below showed that just 6 weeks of training, with one set of 8 exercises improved insulin sensitivity. You don’t need to go out and run a marathon.
Just lift heavy weights.
Steak + deadlifts are a magical combination.
Obesity is also highly correlated to insulin resistance, which rises linearly with BMI [*]. If you’re insulin resistant and obese, you need to cut your BMI.
Lastly, lean muscle mass is associated with better insulin sensitivity [*]. Lean muscle is like a glucose sink. It sucks up any and all glucose available in your blood stream.
7. Start Intermittent Fasting.
Dietary recommendations have destroyed your health by changing both
(1) what we eat and
(2) when we eat.
If you want to restore your health, you need to restore both to your evolutionary ways.
We’ve already covered what to eat. What about when to eat?
In the early to mid 1900s, most people only ate 3 meals a day. But in the late 1900s, people started to eat 6-7 times a day. Doctors recommended many small meals to “speed up your metabolism”.
Guess what? The only thing that’s speeding up is how fast you give money to big cpg and big pharma companies. And how fast you develop insulin resistance.
You can only get energy from two sources: Food or body fat. But you can’t get energy from both at the same time. When you’re getting energy from food, this is called the fed state. When you’re getting your energy from body fat, this is called the fasted state. Insulin regulates this process.
When you eat insulin levels increase, which signals to your cells to suck in energy from your bloodstream. And when you sleep, insulin falls, telling your body to use stored energy to run your vital organs. This is why you don’t die when you sleep.
But most people are eating all day, and not giving their body enough time to lower these insulin levels and burn body fat. In fact, it takes ~12 hours to lower insulin far enough to actually burn body fat. But instead, most people shut this natural process off by eating a high carb meal first thing in the morning.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”
This is the biggest load of bull shit….Almost worse than the advice to avoid saturated fats.
When you first wake up in the morning, your insulin levels are low and you’re just about to enter the fasted state.
The worst thing to do is to eat a big meal and change that. And what makes it even worse is that most people are eating dessert for breakfast…
No, they’re not eating a cake. But I’d consider something like cheerios with 33g of sugar dessert. This shuts off fat burning, spikes insulin as high as possible and drives all of that additional fat right into storage.
And we all know what comes after a big spike….an even bigger fall. 3 hours later you’re going to be HANGRY, starving for another meal.
Instead, start intermittent fasting. Leverage your 8 hours of sleep time fasting and skip breakfast. Eat in an 8 hour window and fast from dinner to lunch time.
Over time, you can work up to 18 to 24 hours of fasting. According to Ted Naiman, this is where the sweet spot is.
But after 12 hours, you’ll still get immense benefits.
There are also many other benefits of intermittent fasting you can look forward to, according to Ted Naiman.
(Check with your doctor before fasting. This is especially important if you’re on meds and are diabetic)
8. Get Sleep
Most people think insulin resistance is just a result of macro nutrient composition. But sleep plays a major role.
Researchers found that one single night of sleep deprivation decreased insulin sensitivity by 25% [*].
An additional study showed that just two nights of 4h of sleep reduced insulin response by 30% [*]
This is also in healthy individuals! No matter how healthy you eat, you can become insulin resistant if you’re not sleeping well.
What’s likely happening is that the beta cells in your pancreas become less responsive after you don’t sleep well [*]. They’re groggy, just like you are.
Make sure to get your shut eye.
Reversing insulin resistance is the most important thing you can do for your health. And frankly, it’s not even that hard.
Just 24hr of a fast makes insulin drop by half.
But instead, doctors tell patients to continue eating carbs throughout the day and pump themselves full of drugs.
Reverse this trend. The carnivore diet is the best way to reverse insulin resistance.
As the Carnivore Diet picks up speed with people feeling better, healing disease, and performing at new heights, the largest segment taking the plunge – by far – are people going from Keto to Carnivore.
It has become the natural progression. Bad diet to Keto to Carnivore.
And while the Keto and Carnivore are similar in many ways, there are some critical differences that people need to be aware of when making the transition.
Unlike going from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a Ketogenic diet where getting “fat-adapted” can be a tough transition to get through, those going from Keto to Carnivore are already fat-adapted.
Yet, going from Keto to Carnivore often results in “Round 2” of the “Carnivore Flu.”
The Carnivore Flu
In going from Keto to Carnivore the transition symptoms are not about getting fat-adapted or switching to a fat-based metabolism or using ketones for energy.
If you zoom out and look at both diets the glaring difference is vegetables.
A typical ketogenic diet consists of a lot of vegetables. And removing these can cause some side effect. And it’s not because of any vitamins or minerals or antioxidants they might contain. It’s the fiber.
In the Carnivore Diet there are no plant-based foods. And thus, no fiber.
As you might expect, this results in many people experiencing a significant change in bowel movements.
A major function of the colon is to reabsorb water. Since fiber does most of this work in a diet high in plant-based foods, the colon gets lazy. It quits doing its job. It’s like a muscle that hasn’t been worked out. It gets weak.
Going from a Ketogenic Diet to a Carnivore Diet results in a drastic change in fiber intake. And since the colon hasn’t gotten a good workout in a while, and is now being asked to do its job, it’s lost some of its capacity. It needs to “on-ramp.” During this “on-ramp” water gets through. Loose stools are common.
Fiber isn’t there to absorb the water and the colon needs time to re-build its “water-absorbing-muscles.”
This “on-ramping” of the colon can take several weeks.
So not only are loose stools common, so are infrequent bowel movements.
Meat is absorbed extremely efficiently in the small intestines. Not much goes to waste.
Many people mistakenly think they are constipated when in fact they just aren’t making as much waste.
After a time, stools normalize, become firmer (though soft is still common), and more regular. But this “regular” tends to me a more infrequent regularity schedule.
Fiber Part 2
Fiber is food for bacteria in the large intestines.
Bacteria love fiber. They ferment it and create the gases that make you unpopular at parties.
Removing fiber makes some of these bacteria unhappy. There is research that shows that the microbiome can signal hunger and cravings as the bacteria do everything they can to get you to feed them before they die.
We know very little about the microbiome. Most of what’s written is pure speculation. Research is lacking. But this is a “re-balancing” of gut microflora – I’d argue – is probably a good thing.
This leads us into the next transition symptom.
A nice, but dangerous, feature of the ketogenic diet is that food can be made to taste like SAD foods.
Artificial sweeteners abound.
Because of this many people never beat the addiction to sugar and carbohydrates. They can’t imagine black coffee. Stevia is a major food group for most ketogenic dieters.
Completely removing these can result in some strong craving signals.
Luckily, meat is delicious, and crushing these cravings with steaks isn’t that terrible of a sacrifice.
In fact, you may experience the next step in cravings.
Meat. And wanting more and more.
Many people that come from a Ketogenic Diet are use to maniacal measuring, counting, and testing.
They track macros, calories and ketones. They restrict themselves and their diets to extreme degrees.
And even though they eat a “healthy” diet, many are malnourished, depleted in vitamins and minerals, calories and cholesterol, protein and pounds.
In this state, when they are told they can eat meat until satisfied, without measuring or monitoring, the flood gates break loose.
The body craves the nutrition, and their brain relaxes from famine mode to feast mode. It can take weeks, months, or longer until the appetite regulates.
This can result in weight gain to the surprise of many. And this weight gain can lead to fear and back to restriction.
This is a mistake.
The key is to let the appetite re-regulate and normalize. Let the body fuel up on the nutrition it needs and desries. Be in it for the long haul.
After a time the appetite regulates and the cravings disappear. In fact, all you will want to do is eat a steak. Everything else seems non-satisfactory.
This is when amazing things start happening. Fat starts to melt off. Muscles begin to bulge. Diseases disappear. The brain is bolstered. You can go long periods of time without eating or thinking about food. There is a new found freedom in what seems a very restricted diet.
On the flip side, some people experience a lack of appetite.
Meat is satiating. Protein is satiating.
This can lead some people who transition from Keto to Carnvore to under-eat.
Then comes the fatigue. The low energy. The crabby mood.
The key is to eat.
Early on, hunger is not the only signal to listen to as to when to eat. If you are tired, dragging, crabby – eat.
Making the Switch from Keto to Carnivore
The two major transition symptoms in switching from Keto to Carnivore are bowel changes from a lack of plant material and fiber as well as appetite swings. Being aware of these and having a game plan and commitment to overcome these issues is key to a successful transition from Keto to Carnivore.
In the “Ultimate 30-Day Guide to Going Full Carnivore” there is a list of common symptoms and what to do about them. There is a section on “What to Eat” and “What to Avoid,”“Supplements,” and perhaps most importantly, at the end there is a “WARNING” about how not to mess it all up.
And if you need further help in making the switch from Keto to Carnivore you are more than welcome to join the private facebook group “Carnivore Corner” or leave a message in the comments, or shoot me a message on instagram, or whatever work best for you.
Before going carnivore, most people have experimented with various diets. Going from Keto to Carnivore is one of the most common paths. You probably wouldn’t be considering a carnivore diet if you didn’t have that curious experimenter mentality. The one that searches for answers, bucks the status quo, and calls their own shots.
Good for you.
You may have experimented with adding fats to foods if you’ve done keto, things like adding butter and MCT in coffee, or tried intermittent fasting protocols (IF), and take numerous supplements.
I’ve done them all.
If you are like me, you probably have an idea about how many calories you should eat, what macro ratios to follow, how often and how much to eat.
Our natural tendency is to instantly want to modify, measure, and manipulate a new diet to what we have learned and tested to be best.
We want to experiment with The Carnivore Diet but we want to add in our own flare like:
Supplements (vitamins, ect…)
With the Carnivore Diet, you absolutely don’t want to do this.
Believe me, no one was more analytical than me.
No one was more worried about getting fat than me.
It’s the skeleton that’s always hanging in my closet.
That said, these diet methods that I and many others have used should not be used with the carnivore diet initially. They interrupt the body’s ability to interpret hunger and natural satiety signals, which often results in not eating as much as the body needs to properly deal with adaptation and healing.
There are many metabolic processes that need to be adequately supported in regaining proper homeostasis and surviving the adaptation period.
Many people feel very hungry when starting, yet are afraid to eat. Afraid of getting fat. Believe me, I understand.
It is common for people to need to eat twice as much when starting as they eventually do once their systems have healed. This could take 30 days or 3 years.
The adaption period is different for everyone. Adaption is not like a light switch.
It’s not like you will either be fully adapted or not. Different systems take different amounts of time.
For example, it may take your gallbladder 2 weeks to onramp to a high fat diet where you finally can get off the toilet (unless you take the necessary precautions..) but your testosterone may be in the toilet for 6 months until it is roaring again like a 17 year old male. Females – this is equally relevant for hormonal rebalancing.
Once hormonal systems have re-balanced in proper homeostasis for thriving, you’ll be glad you hit the “reset” button.
If you are worried about fat gain, tell yourself you are doing an experiment (I think you should give yourself 90 days).
The First 30 days = Adapt (Level 1)
The Next 30 days = Heal (Level 2)
The Final 30 days = Thrive (Level 3)
If you want to go back to diet restrictions after the experiment, do so.
I even have a “tinkering” method for carnivores who are thriving, yet want to get “carnivore cut” – you can – I’ll help you, but lets get healthy first.
Hunger talks in many languages like feeling weak and tired, or irritable and depressed, or via poor concentration and brain fog.
Listen to the body.
Take the hint – Eat.
It’s the solution. It’s the cure.
The thriving carnivores I know threw out all worry and preconceived notions about diets, supplementing, caloric needs, macros, and dogma…and ate meat until satisfied.
They errored on the side of eating too much rather than not enough.
It is common to have some cravings early on, but these go away.
However, if you try and tinker – they likely won’t.
If you’ve done keto or LCHF or you name it, you are probably aware of the amount of mad cravings, hunger, and intervention tricks that go on.
I would know – I was a master at them.
Almost everyone I know that uses forced protocols to reduce food intake, to try and curb cravings, rides an unsustainable rollercoaster that never ends.
They never come to realize what it actually feels like to overcome metabolic dysfunction.
It feels amazing.
For my first physique competition, I got very lean. Competition prep is the definition of food and calorie restriction. It’s “controlled starvation.”
After the competition, I was going to let my self have a treat.
I didn’t know about the psychological impact from extreme food restriction.
It is nearly impossible to stop at a treat.
With “one treat” the flood gates burst opened. My body fat was higher 3 days after that competition then when I started the prep 16 week earlier.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this is extremely common among bodybuilding/fitness community.
Interestingly, I see this exact same thing with keto/LCHF/ZC/Carnivores that use methods of forced restriction. Eventually they give into “one treat” which is never “one treat.”
Besides what is mentioned in this report, don’t interfere with your body’s natural rebalancing until you’re healed. Once healed, I tell people they can loosen up with “tinkering tests” because they KNOW what it feels like to be healed. So they KNOW if their tinkering has positive or negative impacts.
Supplements are not only NOT needed, but they will interfere with restoring your proper homeostasis including vitamin and mineral levels.
You are going to need to ignore common held beliefs around daily requirements of x,y, and z.
Here’s the thing: daily requirements for a SAD diet can’t be strapped onto a carnivore diet. When you add sugar and plants to a diet the body has to compensate and external supplementation might make sense to balance and help the assault from these foods. This does not translate to someone on a carnivore diet. Proper nutrient blood levels in a carnivore necessarily must be different than non-carnivores.
I already know – you’re going to be tempted to continue taking your MCT, BPC, whey protein, collagen, creatine, BCAAs, beta alanine, caffeine, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, fish oils, D3, C, and probiotic – but do an experiment – set them aside.
Don’t Start If…
If you aren’t willing to eat enough meat to stay satisfied without manipulation, you should not start a carnivore diet.
Not to sound like an infomercial, but the carnivore diet cured these all for me.
The carnivore diet has cured the incurable. Meatheals.com, World Carnivore Tribe and r/ZeroCarb are teeming with 10s of thousands of people who have reversed serious health conditions.
It’s almost too good to be true.
Carnivores are doing the exact opposite of all mainstream nutritional recommendations.
If your friends and family still look at you like you’re eating chloroform when you gobble down steak and eggs…This article is for you.
Here are the 16 reasons why the carnivore diet works so well.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
First off, what is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet centers around a simple equation:
Meat + Water = Health
The carnivore diet is a high fat, high protein diet where you eat only animal products. Yes, that’s right. No more grains. No more sugar. And no more vegetables.
It’s also a variation of the Ketogenic diet as cutting out the carbohydrates will put you into ketosis. This may sound wacky at first. But there are 16 scientifically backed benefits, that are too good to ignore.
The carnivore diet took the world by storm when Shawn Baker appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast. He is an orthopedic surgeon and athlete. Dr. Baker is in his 50s and is absolutely ripped. He recently set two indoor rowing world records and he attributes his success to the carnivore diet.
Other prominent advocates include Mikhaila and Jordan Peterson, the clinical psychologist. Both have reversed lifelong autoimmune and mental health issues with the carnivore diet.
Carnivore Diet Benefits: 16 Reasons It Works
1. The Carnivore Diet Cuts Out All Added Sugar
I’ll start with one of the least controversial points. Sugar isn’t good for you. If you still think sugar is okay to eat, that’s almost as bad as thinking Santa is real.
Sugar is damaging for four main reasons:
It can stick to cholesterol particles, which can lead to atherosclerosis
It’s highly glycemic. Sugar spikes insulin and can lead to insulin resistance over time.
When metabolized, it produces AGEs which lead to aging, chronic disease and diabetes [*]
Glucose is oxidatively stressful, causes inflammation and can produce reactive oxygen species [*]. Oxidative stress plays a role in almost every disease.
A study of 29 people found that those consuming just 40 grams of added sugar had an increase in inflammation, insulin resistance and weight gain [*].
Glucose can also feed tumor growth. This is explained by the Warburg Effect, which determined that cancer cells depend on glucose to grow [*]. Unlike normal cells, they cannot use Ketones. Just like you, your tumor cells are addicted to sugar.
Sure, some foods obviously have sugar that most people try to avoid: candy, sodas, gatorade, coffee with added sugar.
But it’s also hidden in a number of common foods people eat. Corrupt food companies have snuck this toxic crap into tons of foods to make them taste slightly better.
It’s not just junk food. Beef jerky, almond milk, coconut water…you name it. They all have added sugar.
And fructose is even worse than glucose. Fructose is like a missile that goes directly to the liver where it’s converted to fat.
It is 20x more likely to cause fatty liver than glucose alone.
2. The Carnivore Diet Can Cure Leaky Gut
Do you have:
Skin issues like eczema or acne?
Have you been extra irritable this week?
Are you bloated?
It turns out they may all have a similar cause. Leaky gut.
According to Zsofia Clemens at Paleomedicina, 90% of people have gut issues. Gut health is related to everything.
Leaky gut is a condition when the tight junctions of the small intestine open and allow proteins and toxins into the bloodstream.
The small intestine is ~50% of your gut. It is responsible for 90% of food absorption and has the largest mass of immune cells in your entire body [*].
Everything you eat directly touches this vital organ. And it’s very vulnerable.
The only barrier protecting what you eat from your bloodstream is just a single layer of mucous in the gut, linked together by proteins [*].
But this barrier can be broken, which creates gaps between the proteins in the cellular layers of your gut [*].
When the barrier breaks, toxins and proteins can invade the bloodstream causing your body to freak out. It’s like a bartender catching an underage drinker inside.
Your immune system is mobilized to expel it, which creates inflammation. Similar to when somebody gets kicked out of a bar, everybody stops and takes a look. Nothing functions properly in that moment.
If you have incessant chronic issues, this could be why.
So far, the carnivore diet has been one of the few clinically shown ways to reverse intestinal permeability and the attendant consequences.
Paleomedicina in Hungary has used the carnivore diet to completely reverse intestinal permeability. They’ve taken ‘incurable’ diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and metastatic tumors and used the power of steak to destroy them [*] [*]
3. The Carnivore Diet Removes Refined Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are converted to glucose in your body (sugar). Many foods on the bottom of the food pyramid are no different than candy. Thanks again for your services USDA!!
Refined carbohydrates are especially harmful. They’re processed carbohydrates that have had the few good bits stripped out of them. In contrast to a whole grain, a refined grain has had the bran and germ removed which house all the nutrients.
Because all the fiber has been removed, refined carbs are digested very rapidly and cause major blood sugar spikes.
This can lead to insulin resistance over time, especially when consumed with fat. In this study, an Asian population with a diet high in rice developed insulin resistance [*]
Refined carbohydrates also damage the gut. Sugar and carbohydrates are fermented by the gut and colon which can exacerbate GI issues and lead to leaky gut. This is why a well established treatment for IBS, recommends low carbohydrates to starve your bacteria [*]
Over time, refined carbohydrate consumption has been linked to inflammation and obesity [*].
Refined carbohydrates also increase blood triglyceride levels, which is a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease [*]. Fat hanging out in your bloodstream is a sign that something is seriously off.
Eating pasta is no different than eating straight sugar. Seven ounces of cooked spaghetti has the same amount of sugar as 4 12 oz cans of pepsi.
4. The Carnivore Diet Cuts Out Most Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates range from simple sugars to complex carbohydrates. But even unrefined carbohydrates can be bad for you. Many forms of starch, for example, raise blood sugar as much as eating glucose [*].
Below are some reasons why cutting out all carbohydrates may be beneficial (yes, even the “healthy ones”):
High carbohydrate diets can lead to insulin resistance, especially if combined with fat [*]
Insulin resistance is an energy overload problem, whereby your cells become unresponsive to insulin’s action. They refuse to stuff more energy into the cells and thus insulin levels remain persistently high.
This is generally caused by eating a substantial amount of highly glycemic carbs and fats together. The carbohydrates shut off fat burning, and the fat you eat goes directly to your storage.
As a result, you’ll have both high levels of energy in your bloodstream and cells that are packed with energy. Your pancreas pumps out more and more insulin, but the cells throw up a middle finger and refuse to let any energy in. This cycle occurs over and over until insulin levels in your bloodstream persistently rise.
Your body is at war with itself.
All in all, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia have played a role in more deaths than WW1 and WW2 combined.
The carnivore diet is the most effective way to reverse insulin resistance.
If you want to live longer, you need to lower fasting insulin levels.
6. The Carnivore Diet Removes Toxic Vegetable oils
There were two disastrous consequences of the Food Pyramid…also known as the “Lets Turn Americans into Lab Rats and Feed Them Food That Enriches Procter & Gamble Experiment”.
Hopefully this can convince you that cutting out vegetable oils is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Vegetable oils are one of the main vehicles that have driven our health off a cliff.
What are vegetable oils? First off, they’re not vegetables at all. A better name would be industrial processed seed oil sludge. They’re actually made from seeds and not vegetables.
When the AHA — i.e. the mouthpiece for Procter & Gamble — persuaded us that natural, delicious and healthy saturated fats were actually bad for us, we had to turn to polyUNsaturated fats.
And this was great for the big consumer companies. The seeds were traditionally a waste product, so they were cheap. Nobody knew what to do with them, and somebody had the twisted idea to turn them into cooking oils.
The manufacturing process is appalling [*]. It entails pressing them at high pressure and using toxic solvents like Hexane to extract the oil. If watching this video doesn’t dissuade you from eating them I don’t know what will.
It looks like something you’d be paid millions to eat on Fear Factor. Not an everyday staple in your diet.
The concentration of this toxic sludge has skyrocketed in your diet.
Soybean oil consumption increased 1000x in the 20th century. Linoleic acid now is 8% of calories. All because the USDA told us the foods we’ve been eating for millions of years are “bad for us” and we should replace them with this garbage.
What are the consequences of this shift? Just about every disease can be linked to vegetable oil consumption. Everything from Alzheimer’s to Cancer to Heart disease.
Most importantly, it turns out that the bad cholesterol, “LDL”, is only bad when it’s damaged by unsaturated fats [*].
Saturated fats increase HDL, the “good cholesterol”
Scientists have now realized LDL particle size matters more than total LDL number. Diets high in saturated fat and low in carbs increase LDL size (which is a positive) [*]
High fat diets leads to ketosis and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.
Because saturated fats don’t have double bonds, they’re more resistant to oxidative damage [*]
Saturated fats have a glycemic index of 0
Lastly, studies continue to debunk the myth that saturated fat causes heart disease. This review from 2014 looking at 76 studies, found no link at all between saturated fat and heart disease [*].
8. The Carnivore Diet Increases Nutrient Density
Nutrients are vital for all cellular function. They play a role in everything from growth to immune support, to brain function. Many also have antioxidant properties that can protect against diseases like cancer and Alzheimers. [*] [*].
But most people are extremely deficient in vitamins. Some common ones are below:
Vitamin D: 77% of American’s are deficient in Vitamin D [*]
Vitamin B12: 3% of adults over 50 have extremely low vitamin D levels. 20% have borderline deficiencies. [*]. Amongst Vegan’s and Vegetarians vitamin b12 deficiency is much more common
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is only found in sufficient amounts that your body can absorb in animal products. It’s likely that if you’re not eating enough animal products, you’re deficient. Deficiencies amongst children and women are the most common. Approximately 127 million preschool-aged children and 7 million pregnant women are vitamin A deficient. [*]
Iron: 25% of the world is deficient in iron [*]. Anaemia is even more common amongst vegan
Calcium: Over 20% of moen and 10% of women over 50 are deficient in calcium [*]
Zinc: 1.1 billion people are deficient worldwide [*]
This paints a disturbing picture. No wonder chronic disease is so prevalent. Adequate vitamin intake is necessary for optimal function.
The brain is a micronutrient hungry organ and deficiencies tend to make their mark there.
For example, this study showed that Vitamins C and E can reduce oxidative stress in the brain and the rates of neuronal death [*]. Vitamin E intake tends to be lower in Alzheimer’s patients [*].
Zinc, another mineral many are deficient in, is critical for brain growth, serotonin synthesis and dopamine transport. Iron is also necessary for dopamine synthesis [*]. These minerals cannot be found in abundant quantities in plant products.
Meat and animal products have the most and most bioavailable form of every nutrient. If the entire world was on the carnivore diet, there would be no nutrient deficiencies.
Remedying these issues will extend longevity and health.
9. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a pivotal part of the carnivore diet. Nor is it prescribed. But people naturally tend to find themselves eating in a shorter window, which brings tremendous health benefits.
Dietary recommendations have destroyed your health by changing both:
(1) what we eat and
(2) when we eat.
If you want to improve your health, you need to restore both to your evolutionary ways.
We’ve already covered what to eat. What about when to eat?
In the early to mid 1900s, most people only ate 3 meals a day. But in the late 1900s, people started to eat 6-7 times a day. Doctors recommended many small meals to “speed up your metabolism”.
Guess what? The only thing that’s speeding up is how fast you give money to big cpg and big pharma companies.
You can only get energy from two sources: Food or body fat. But you can’t get energy from both at the same time. When you’re getting energy from food, this is called the fed state. When you’re getting your energy from body fat, this is called the fasted state. Insulin regulates this process.
When you eat insulin levels increase, which signals to your cells to suck in energy from your bloodstream. And when you sleep, insulin falls, telling your body to use stored energy to run your vital organs. This is why you don’t die when you sleep.
But most people are eating all day, and not giving their bodies enough time to lower insulin levels and burn body fat. In fact, it takes ~12 hours to lower insulin far enough to actually burn body fat. But instead, most people shut this natural process off by eating a high carb meal first thing in the morning.
Instead, start intermittent fasting. Leverage your 8 hours of sleep time fasting and skip breakfast. Eat in an 8 hour window and fast from dinner to lunch time.
Intermittent fasting is restricting your feeding to a window less than or equal to 8 hours. Pretty much the exact opposite of what all American’s do today.
Fasting is extremely beneficial. It has been shown to:
Your body can use two types of fuels: glucose (from carbs) and ketones (from fat).
Everybody on the carnivore diet is in ketosis to some extent. When you stop fueling your brain and body with glucose, fat needs to take its place.
Triglycerides (fat molecules) cannot be used as fuel for all cells, so the liver converts some to ketones to be used instead. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is the most prevalent one, making up 70-80% of ketones in the blood [*].
Choosing between glucose and ketones is like deciding between rocket fuel and sludge that produces a massive amount of toxic waste.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a much better fuel than glucose. It has major benefits:
Upregulates FOXO genes which regulate oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity and influence longevity. [*]
Ketones improve mood and have antidepressant like effects [*]
BHB reduces oxidative stress in the brain and may be beneficial in preventing neurodegenerative disease [*] [*]
BHB lowers inflammation and blocks NLPR3 inflammasome [*]
Increased fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass and performance [*]
Ketones can slow tumor growth by starving them of their preferred fuel, glucose, and lowering IGF-1 [*]
Ketones are almost like a horcrux for health. On the carnivore diet your ketones will usually be around 0.5 millimolar and higher.
11. The Carnivore Diet Increases Cholesterol
This may sound counterintuitive. The carnivore diet tends to increase cholesterol levels. And that’s a GOOD thing.
Scientists and doctors have cholesterol ALL wrong.
There’s no such thing as “good and bad” cholesterol. What’s bad is when your cholesterol gets damaged (or oxidized), and your immune system traps the damaged cholesterol in your artery walls.
Well, on the carnivore diet, you tend to have big fluffy and healthy cholesterol. It’s only when you damage LDL particles with sugar and vegetable oils, do they cause issues.
Additionally, LDL plays an indispensable protective role. LDL is protecting you from disease, not causing it.
LDL can actually bind to pathogens so that the immune system can expel them. When you have inflammation, LDL tends to increase because your body uses it as a protective mechanism.
So, the reason it’s high in those with heart disease is because LDL binds to pathogens! It’s getting rid of damage so that it doesn’t spread
LDL cholesterol doesn’t actually cause heart disease. Inflammation leads to heart disease and high LDL.
So low levels of cholesterol isn’t necessarily a good thing after all. This may explain why Zoe Harcombe found that there was a negative correlation between total cholesterol and mortality when she examined data from 192 countries.
We’ve had our eye on the wrong ball for far too long. Trying to lower cholesterol was completely counterproductive AND it persuaded people to eat foods that actually cause heart disease.
Cholesterol is also vital for brain health. The brain makes up 2% of our body weight, but stores over 20% of our cholesterol.
Weird that our brains are hoarding something that’s so damaging…right? How stupid of our brains!
This shows how backwards our perspective on cholesterol is.
The brain clearly needs cholesterol. Numerous studies show that those with low cholesterol levels have poor mental health and cognitive function.
This study showed that amongst those > 85, low cholesterol was associated with impaired memory [*].
Low cholesterol also damages mental health, which may explain the startling rise of mental health issues today. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of suicide and increased depressive symptoms [*] [*]
You should celebrate your high cholesterol on the carnivore diet. Not fear it.
Many people try to add things to become healthy. The next big superfood. Exercise. Juice cleanses.
But often times the best way to improve is by removing your negative habits. The beauty of the carnivore diet is that it’s addition by subtraction. It first and foremost removes all the junk in your diet.
The first step to health, that I enumerated above, is asking yourself what do you NOT want to do. No refined cabs. No vegetable oils. No antinutrients. Etc.
And then you can start to figure out how to selective add to improve yourself.
There are a number of benefits to this.
The first is that removing things tends to not have side effects and unintended consequences. Whereas adding things does. But big corporations and big pharma can’t make money from removing things, hence why it’s rarely recommended as a strategy.
A lot of complicated things don’t need to be. It’s made to seem that way so people don’t notice it’s truly bullshit.
13. The Carnivore Diet is Simple
“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau
One of the biggest benefits of the carnivore diet is how simple it is. Simplicity is about identifying what is essential and eliminating the rest.
Food doesn’t need to be complicated. Most diets require a degree in “making shitty foods taste good” and suck up time and energy. Even on Keto, for example, people spend time counting their fat calories and devising ways to make their healthy dishes taste like the unhealthy ones they’re addicted to (like cauliflower pizza).
Sure, that’s fun. But food doesn’t need to be so complicated.
The more time you can free up from eating and thinking about food, the more you can spend energy on things in your life that are high ROI (return on investment).
The carnivore diet eviscerates this paradigm. Steak. Eggs. Beef liver. Beef Tallow. Cast iron pan. What other way of eating can be complete with just 5 things? NADA.
Instead of spending hours preparing your meals and thinking about food, you can read a book. Start a business. Hang out with loved ones. Do the things that actually matter and use food as medicine to optimize your energy for the things that really matter.
14. The Carnivore Diet Increases Your Protein to Energy Ratio
Ted Naiman has described and popularized the protein to energy ratio of foods as a determinant of health. 85% of American’s are overfat, and according to Ted eating a low protein to energy diet is the reason why.
For millions of years of evolution, humans never had to worry about eating too much energy (carbs & fat). Protein was abundant from animals, but they were fairly low in energy.
Now in one grocery aisle you can pick up more energy than hunter gatherers had in a year. Our brains are wired to stock up on energy, and grocery stores tap into this evolutionary programmed desire.
The reason the protein: energy ratio is important is because humans have a strong protein drive. Strong is putting it lightly. If we don’t get enough protein, we keep on eating and searching for food until we do.
So if you’re not getting enough protein, you continue to eat until you satisfy those needs. You overcompensate by eating too much energy. Think of this like a drunk person at the end of the night at a bar. You’re desperate and will go for anything.
This is exactly what happened. Now thanks to the introduction of big CPGs weapons of choice — sugar, flour and vegetable oil — all abundant energy sources – energy has gone up massively compared to protein
Now, over 40% of Americans don’t get enough protein [*]. It’s fallen to 10% or less of calories.
But, without knowing it, humans search for 15%+ protein intake. When we lower it, even just slightly, our body massively overcompensates with lower satiation and increased carbohydrate and fat intake. This study showed just a 1% decrease in protein led to 14% increase in CHO + Fat intake [*]
The reverse also happens. That’s why the fastest way to lose weight is to increase protein. This study showed that a 5% increase in protein led to a 3 TIMES decrease in fat mass [*]
This study showed that 100% OF PEOPLE eating 30% of calories from protein reversed pre-diabetes
But this will never be mainstream because there isn’t much money to be made in telling people to up their protein. The carnivore diet increases protein and will eviscerate body fat.
No wonder why people are so fit on the carnivore diet.
15. The Carnivore Diet Removes Inflammatory Vegetables
Everybody knows that vegetables are good for you. But as we’ve seen over and over again, just because people believe something doesn’t mean that it’s true.
Despite all of the other ridiculously controversial parts of the carnivore diet, this somehow tops it. Many vegetables are BAD for you.
Vegetables don’t want to be eaten, of course. And over millions of years of co-evolution with insect and animal predators they developed defense mechanisms.
Almost every vegetable has a toxin in it that can be irritating. The table below summarizes some of the toxins that you can find in plants.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussell sprouts and cauliflower produce sulforaphane when cut or chewed [*]. Sulforaphane can be damaging to health and even cause cancer [*]. Sulforaphane also competes for Iodine and can cause hypothyroidism [*].
Nightshades have alkaloids which damage fat and carbohydrate metabolism and DNA function. Limes, carrots and celery have photosensitizers which can irritate animals when they go in the sun. Reservatrol has been shown to inhibit androgen precursors [*]. Polyphenols can cause DNA damage [*].
There are also a number of what are referred to as anti-nutrients in vegetables.
Phytates, in both beans and tortillas, inhibit zinc absorption [*] and decrease nutrients’ bioavailability. If you consumed zinc with black beans, you will absorb only about half the zinc.
Cutting out vegetables was a game-changer for me and for many others.
For most people, you’ll probably be okay because you’re adapted to eliminate the compounds from vegetables.
But if you already have a damaged gut and autoimmune system, the vegetables can exacerbate this immune response and make problems worse. Try without them for 30 days.
16. The Carnivore Diet Increases Your Discipline
Successfully taking control of your diet gives you much more than physical health. It trains discipline.
To counteract all the prevailing influences of society and eat the carnivore diet, requires a tremendous amount of willpower. Every single person and being around you will try to push you in the other direction.
But your conviction, independent research and discipline will lead you to optimal health, while your doctor continues to be overweight and get rich from prescribing people disastrous medications.
Losing weight and getting fit will give you much more than a better body:
A long term mindset
Get fit and change your life
Ready to Start? Carnivore Diet Meal Plan
You’re starting the carnivore diet. You’re ready to supercharge your health and change your life.
Whether you’re just annoyed by vegans or trying to cure a chronic illness, the carnivore diet can be the remedy.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not someone who can slurp down 2 bowls of pasta and a beer and feel totally fine the next day. If you are, well screw you, I’m jealous.
It can be a big change to move to such an extreme diet. But the benefits you’ll experience will help to push you through.
Carnivore Diet Two Week Meal Plan
Ready to start? Here’s a two week meal plan to get you healed and to olympic level strength in just 14 days.
The carnivore diet is centered around fat, muscle meat and beef liver. These foods together will transform you into a warrior. They provide all the nutrients you need in their most optimal quantities. But most importantly, they will reduce all the inflammation in your diet.
Does eating extra fat via Fat Bombs and Bullet Proof Coffee make you fat? Here’s the short answer. Yes and no. If you are slender, then eating fat will not make you fat. If you are obese/ overweight then yes, eating more fat will make you fat. Let me explain. The answer, of course, has nothing to do with calories (an entirely outdated and useless concept) and has everything to do with physiology. Let’s back up a bit.
Under a ketogenic/ Low Carb High Fat diet, people are encouraged to eat the large majority of calories as fat. Generally, they should eat real food, until full. Some people have taken this to mean that they should add extra fat to everything they eat – witness the popularity of ‘Fat Bombs’ – treats or foods with very high fat content or Bullet Proof Coffee – coffee with the addition of extra oil (MCT, coconut etc). There has been some people who find this slows down weight loss and others that feel it does not. What’s happening?
Insulin is the major driver of weight gain. When you gain body fat, the body responds by increasing secretion of a hormone called leptin, which tells the body to stop gaining weight. This is a negative feedback loop, designed to prevent us from becoming too fat. This is a survival mechanism because obese animals who cannot move properly will get eaten. This is also one of the reasons why people say “We are genetically programmed to eat everything in front of our face” or “We are programmed to get fat, but food was scarce before” are completely idiotic mistaken. So why doesn’t it work for us?
Insulin and leptin essentially are opposites. One tells our body to store body fat and the other tells it to stop. If we continue to eat fructose, causing insulin resistance and persistently high insulin, then we will also persistently stimulate leptin. Like all hormones, a persistently high hormone level leads to downregulation of hormonal receptors and the development of resistance. So persistently high leptin levels eventually leads to leptin resistance, which is exactly what we see in common obesity. So, lean people are leptin sensitive and obese people are leptin resistant.
Let’s now think about the physiology of eating dietary fat. Remember there are only 2 fuels for the body – you either burn sugar or burn fat. When you eat carbohydrates or excess protein, it goes to the liver, through the portal vein and stimulates insulin, which tells the body to start burning sugar, and store the rest as glycogen or fat. Dietary fat, on the other hand, does no such thing. It is absorbed in the intestines as chylomicrons, goes through the lymphatic system to the thoracic duct and directly into the systemic blood circulation (not the portal circulation of the liver). From there it goes into the fat cells to be stored. In other words, the fat does not affect the liver, and therefore does not need any help from insulin signaling and goes directly into fat stores.
So, doesn’t that mean that eating fat makes you fat? No, no at all. Let’s take the lean person (leptin sensitive) first. Remember the story of Sam Feltham’s 5000 calories/day experiment? He ate an enormous number of calories per day, and still did not gain weight (53% fat, 10% carb). As you eat lots of fat, it will get stored into fat cells, but insulin does not go up. As fat mass goes up, leptin does as well. Since the lean person is sensitive to leptin, he will stop eating in order to let that body weight go back down. If you force-feed him, as Sam did, the metabolism ramps up to burn off those extra calories.
Now, the situation for the obese, leptin resistant person. As you eat lots and lots of fat, insulin does not go up. However, that ‘fat bomb’ does indeed go directly into your fat stores. You respond by increasing leptin levels in your blood. But here’s the difference. You body doesn’t care. It is resistant to the effects of leptin. So your metabolism does not go up. Your appetite does not go down. None of the beneficial weight loss effects of eating that ‘fat bomb’ happens. And yes, you will need to eventually burn off that extra fat you’ve taken in.
The practical implication is this. If you are lean and leptin sensitive, then eating more dietary fat, like cheese, will not make you gain weight. However, if you are trying to lose weight, and have some problem with obesity/ insulin/ leptin resistance, then adding extra fat to your meals is NOT a good idea. Once again, you can see that we do not need to go back to that outdated, and useless notion of calories. Obesity is a hormonal, not a caloric imbalance.
What can you do instead? Well, eating more carbs is not a good idea. Neither is eating more protein. Nor is eating more fat. So, what is left? That’s what we call fasting.
At this point, you might worry about nutrient deficiency. That is why so many people talk about nutrient density. How can you get the maximum nutrients for the minimum calories? This is muddled thinking. Why do I care? Ask yourself this – are you worried about treating obesity or nutrient deficiency? If you choose obesity, then worry about obesity. You don’t need more nutrients, you need less. Less of everything.
If you are instead worried about nutrient deficiency, then treat the nutrient deficiency, but let’s be clear – THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TREATMENT OF OBESITY. If you are worried about, say, Vitamin C because you have scurvy, then by all mean, take foods dense with Vitamin C. But it will not make a bit of difference for the treatment of obesity. The issue of obesity and the issue of nutrient deficiency are completely different. Do not confuse the two. I treat obesity, not beriberi disease. So I worry about reversing hyperinsulinemia/ insulin resistance/ leptin resistance. If you are leptin resistant, then no, adding more fat does not make you lose weight. Fat bombs, for you, are not a good idea.
I think quite a few people misunderstood the point of this post, and think I suggest a low fat diet. No, I suggest eating a low carb, high fat diet until you are full when you eat. This is the point – if you have 2 choices:
A – Eat LCHF until full.
B – Eat LCHF until full, and then eat more butter, oil, BPC and fat bombs
You should choose option A. I would have thought that this is common sense, but apparently, many people choose option B thinking it better.
Source: Article by Dr. Jason Fung (https://thefastingmethod.com/who-needs-to-avoid-fat-bombs-and-bpc/)
Would you be in a state of disbelieve since that is what we have always known to be true, have always been told, or have been led to believe? I wouldn’t blame you. It does, at least on the surface, seem very logical. Blood comes into the heart and then it gets “pumped” out and back into our arteries. Simple right, not quite, As Dr. Thomas Cowan elegantly covers in his book Human Heart, Cosmic Heart: A Doctor’s Quest to Understand, Treat, and Prevent Cardiovascular Disease. This notion that the heart acts as a pump is easily disproven, in Cowan’s opinion, when you look at how blood circulates through our blood vessels, of which there are basically three types: arteries, veins, and capillaries. This is known as circulation, which is crucial to have a basic understanding of if we are going to determine whether the heart is a pump or not.
One Man’s Idea, Led to Anothers Investigation
What led to Dr. Thomas Cowan to start investigating whether the heart was a pump or not? He encountered Rudolf Steiner’s idea that the three most important “things” for the further of evolution of humanity are: (1) That people stop working for money, (2) that people realize there is no difference between sensory and motor nerves, and (3) that the heart is not a pump. The idea that interested Cowan the most was, of course, that the heart is not a pump. Which drove him to question everything he’d learned about the heart and circulation.
A Description of Circulation
Here is Dr. Cowan’s simple but technical description of circulation:1
“When blood starts it journey through out bodies it exits the heart, it travels through the large aortic arch into the major arteries and then into the smaller arterioles until it meets the “midpoint”, the capillaries.
Capillaries are the one-layer thick transition vessels where nutrients and gases are exchanged between the blood and the cells. The capillary system is massive; if it were spread out, it would cover at least one entire football field.2
After the blood exits the capillaries, it enters the smallest venules in its trip back to the heart. From the small venules, it goes to the progressively larger veins and then finally into the largest veins like the inferior and superior vena cava that bring all of the blood from the body back to the heart and lungs. The purpose of this circulation is to bring oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to the cells where it is needed and then bring the oxygen-poor, nutrient-poor blood back to the heart and lungs so that it can be replenished.”
Is the Heart A Pump?
Researchers who have examined the relative velocity of the blood at various stages of circulation3 have found that the blood moves the fastest in the large arteries and veins, where there are fewer channels. And that the blood flows the slowest in the capillaries, because there is so many of them. I like to think of them as being similar to how water moves in rivers vs streams. Here is the amazing part the blood actually stops moving in the capillaries, yes you read that right your blood comes to a complete stand still. This is necessary in order to efficiently exchange gases, nutrients, and waste products. After the blood has come to a stop, it oscillates (moves back and forth) slightly, and then begins to flow again. If the blood stops moving at the midpoint of its journey through the blood vessels, to only then start moving again, what is the force that drives this movement? Is it possible that this force is the “pumping” of the heart? Dr. Cowan does not think this would be possible (and I agree) for the amount of force needed to get the blood flowing again, after stopping at the midpoint of circulation and needing to fight gravity to return to the heart, would have to be immense.
Our Hearts Are Strong, But Not Strong Enough (to Be A Pump)
An article, by the Rodulf Steiner Research Center, published in the 1995 issue of “Frontier Perspectives.” Which is the journal of the Center for Frontier Sciences at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA states:4
“The heart, an organ weighing about three hundred grams, is supposed to `pump’ some eight thousand liters of blood per day at rest and much more during activity, without fatigue. In terms of mechanical work this represents the lifting of approximately 100 pounds one mile high! In terms of capillary flow, the heart is performing an even more prodigious task of `forcing’ the blood with a viscosity five times greater than that of water through millions of capillaries with diameters often smaller than the red blood cells themselves! Clearly, such claims go beyond reason and imagination.”Our hearts simply cannot contract that forcefully.
Questioning How Our Blood Circulates
Another couple questions, we could ask, that could provide a possible answer to how the blood circulates could be. Wouldn’t there have to be some pump located in the capillaries propelling blood forward and upward? Or, is there some “vital force” located in the capillaries that does this pumping. These are both legitimate questions, but one thing is clear (in my opinion): If the blood has stopped moving inside the capillaries, then any force generated by the heart would not be sufficient and thus it must arise in the capillaries. This is just a piece of the puzzle in understanding why the theory behind why the heart is not a pump and if it is not a pump what does the heart act as?
There is little evidence of health consequences of red meat and people should continue their consumption, according to new research.
Red meat has no link to cancer and reports which suggest so are ‘weak’, experts say
Experts at Dalhousie University and McMaster University, Canada, which highlighted the work of previous findings and its link to adverse risk to health, said the recommendations to cut red meat in the diet were weak and based on low-certainty evidence.
The panel said there was no ‘statistically significant or important association’ in the risk of heart disease, cancer or diabetes for those that consumed less red or processed meat.
As an example, the report showed that if 1,000 people cut out three portions of red or processed meat every week for a lifetime, there would be seven fewer deaths from cancer.
Its work chose to exclusively focus on health outcomes because environmental and animal welfare concerns were ‘very different issues that are challenging to integrate with health concerns’.
Researcher and associate professor Bradley Johnston told the national press: “Based on the research, we cannot say with any certainty that eating red or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes or heart disease.”
It said participants enjoyed eating meat, considered it an essential component of a healthy diet, and tended to be unwilling to change their meat consumption.
AHDB head of meat marketing Liam Byrne said it was heartening to see the ‘positive report’ welcomed by academics as being robust, as previous advice to cut out red meat was ‘based on assumptions’ rather than scientific research.
He said: “This is a shot in the arm for our producers, processors and butchers who have been besieged by negativity around red meat for so long, based on half-truths and ill-informed opinion.
“The study shows evidence suggesting red meat can have an adverse effect on health is weak, at best, and certainly not strong enough to confidently suggest lifestyle changes for those perceived to eat more than the recommended weekly amount of 500g.
“Sadly, we continue to see those with an alternative agenda crying foul and expressing public outrage at this report.”
The National Sheep Association (NSA) added it was ‘not surprised’ to see a new report showing there was no significant link between red meat and cancer.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “This report shows the correlation linking red meat consumption and cancer is limited and shows the evidence is inadequate to support calls for reduced consumption.”
Source: Article by Lauren Dean (https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/red-meat-has-no-link-to-cancer-and-reports-which-suggest-so-are-weak-94624)
Every cell in the body needs sugar to survive. But cancer cells seem to require more than healthy cells do. They also seem to break sugar down faster. Cancer’s mechanism of quickly and efficiently metabolizing sugar is known as the Warburg effect.
In fact, we’ve know about the Warburg since the 1920’s when Otto Warburg and colleagues observed tumors taking up enormous amounts of glucose compared to what was seen in the surrounding tissue. Additionally, glucose was fermented to produce lactate even in the presence of oxygen, thus the term aerobic glycolysis.
Scientists have long pondered whether this phenomenon is related to how aggressively tumors grow and how cancer cells ferment sugar rather than using the normal mechanisms that cells use to produce energy. It is this fermentation process that has now been positively linked to continually encouraging tumor growth.
According to one of the researchers, Prof. Johan Thevelein:
“Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness.
This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus.”
These findings are very exciting in terms of the future of cancer research. What does this mean for us now? It also suggests that diet can also play a strong role in slowing and stopping cancer and that we can take more control over our own cancer treatment and prevention.
Grass-fed vs. grain-fed – the answer is not as straightforward as it seems. But it can have big implications for your health… … and your wallet.
There are tradeoffs and many factors to consider when making a decision, and there are pros and cons to both varieties.
It all comes down to one question: does it matter what our food is eating?
Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Beef: What is the Difference?
Grass-fed. Grass-finished. Grain-fed. Pasture-raised. Organic. Meat eaters have been hit with a deluge of new terms and very few resources to make sense of them all.
It’s cryptic. It’s sometimes even deceitful.
Well, I’m here to help you cut through the noise. Which beef is better? You’d think that the answer would be crystal clear, but it’s not. There are a number of factors to consider when determining what beef to buy.
A lot of the confusion starts with a regulation controversy in 2016. Call it Steak-Gate.
2016 Regulation Controversy
In 2016, the agricultural marketing service (AMS) withdrew its beef standards, leading some people to believe that the USDA no longer cared to regulate beef. Fret not – I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.
Unlike use of the term “organic”, there’s no rigorous certification process required to use the term “grass-fed.” However, beef producers still need to apply to the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) if they want to label their beef grass-fed. This requires robust documentation to certify that the beef is actually grass-fed.
This begs the question: what is the actual difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef? Well, let’s start at the beginning.
Cow’s Early Life
All cows essentially start off eating the same things. After birth, calves drink their mother’s milk. Lest we forget, cow’s milk was originally made for cows… not humans.
The mother’s first milk, or colostrum, gives young cows the nutrition they need and strengthens their immune systems. Calves that don’t feed from their mother are fed a milk replacement — think of this like Gerber’s for cows [*].
After the first few months of feeding, the majority of calves are allowed to forage on local ruffage. Both grass- and grain-fed cows feed on the shrubs around their birthplace, so early life for grass- and grain-fed cows is nearly identical.
The difference starts when cows are 1 year old.
What it means: the cow is fed grain at some point in its life.
Grain-fed cows are fed by their mothers and remain off the pasture until they reach 650-750 pounds.
At this point, they’re moved to a feedlot. This is where they transition to a diet of concentrated feed. Concentrated feed can mean a number of things, but it typically includes grain, corn, soy and other cereals.
There, young cows spend 3 to 4 months eating this fattening diet until they grow to over 1200 pounds. Farmers try to fatten cows up to increase meat yield as well as the intramuscular marbling that so many customers desire. Think of this stage like McDonald’s for cows.
The best way to achieve results, unfortunately, is not always by creating the best environment for cows. Some feedlots are brutal: cows are often kept in uncomfortably close quarters and fed unnatural diets. Because they are not eating a natural diet, they are prone to illness and must be fed antibiotics to keep them alive. Honestly, it sounds a lot like the US population.
However, with that being said, there are some grain-fed farms with much better living conditions. Consumers should not just assume that grain-fed means terrible.
What it means: the cow is fed 100% grass for its entire life.
Grass-fed cows, on the other hand, continue to forage on pasture for their entire lives.
Providers hoping to use the “grass-fed” label need to document the agricultural processes they use and provide evidence that the cow has been fed 100% grass for its whole life.
After the AMS backed out from certifying grass-fed beef in 2016, the USDA no longer inspects beef facilities in person. Instead, they require four signed documents to verify the grass-fed diet. This has prompted some skepticism that farmers are indeed following the best practices, but given that the FSIS requires signed affidavits, I personally trust the USDA certification.
There is some public confusion surrounding the difference between the terms “grass-fed” and “grass-finished.” Many people are under the impression that “grass-fed” can apply to cows that are fed grass in their early life but grains at the end.
However, according to the USDA, beef that earns the official grass-fed label must come from cows that are 100% grass-fed throughout their lives. The USDA also allows for partial grass-fed claims, i.e. an “80% grass-fed” label. However, if you see 100% grass-fed or just grass-fed, you can trust that the cow was fed a more natural diet for its entire life.
The below is directly from the USDA. Now, I know some of us here don’t trust the government much. But in this department, the distrust may be going a bit far.
If farms want to take an extra step beyond the USDA guidelines, they can pay an independent third party such as American Grass Fed to review their claims.
Whereas grain-fed cattle go to market after approximately 15 months of life, grass-fed cattle take longer to reach maturity and typically go to market after 20-24 months. This means that raising grass-fed cattle requires more time and investment [*]
However, keep in mind that grass-fed does not mean the same thing as organic.
What it means: the organic designation is more about what the cow doesn’t do than what it does.
“Organic” means that the cow was raised on certified organic land without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or GMOs. The animals must also have year-round outdoor access and be fed a diet free of hormones or antibiotics.
Organic cows are much healthier, but it’s possible for a cow to be grass-fed and not organic or vice versa. This is a special label you need to look out for.
Meat cannot be marketed as organic unless it’s certified by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
10 Factors You Need to Consider When Choose Grass Fed vs Grain Fed Beef
Now that we’ve cut through some of the noise around these terms, which meat should you choose?
The answer is not so straightforward.
When it comes to a diet high in animal sourced-products, such as a carnivorous or ketogenic diet, the answer is even more nuanced.
From a moral perspective, the answer is clear. Cows living in their natural circumstances and eating their natural diets are much happier and healthier.
They are allowed to roam freely, exercise more, and eat the foods they were made to eat.
Living on a well-managed farm is key. Technically, a cow can be grass-fed and still live in a feedlot. That’s why I look for grass-fed organic beef from cows raised on well-managed farms that I trust.
Verdict: Grass-fed organic
Grass-fed and organic beef tend to cost much more, namely because they take up more space and live longer. Picture adult kids still living rent-free with Mom and Dad – these cows cost a lot more to their farmers.
It’s possible to find grass-fed beef that’s fairly close to grain-fed in price — especially if you buy in bulk — but on average it will cost anywhere from 50% to 100% more.
What the cow eats changes the meat’s taste in a number of ways. Diet influences the flavor and biochemical richness of foods.
Laboratory analyses can distinguish between a number of compounds in the flavor profile of beef based on what the cow eats. For instance, tannins in a cow’s diet can change the meat’s flavor by reducing bacteria that produces “off flavors”.
Some studies show adding garlic or essential oils from juniper, rosemary, or clove to the diets of lambs and calves improves the flavor of their meat [*].
When it comes to tenderness, grain-fed is the winner. The longer that cattle eat grain, the more tender their meat becomes [*] [*].
The same is true when it comes to fat. One of the goals of grain-fed production is to fatten cows, so grain-fed cows tend to offer much more marbling and fat.
Unfortunately for us, health doesn’t equate to taste. A healthy cow is not exploding with fat, just like a healthy human. Nonetheless, fat does improve the flavor profile.For cows, at least – can’t vouch for humans here.
When it comes to eating the fat of the animal directly, my opinion is that grass-fed fat itself tastes much better. Frankly, it’s like comparing dessert to cardboard.
That said, most Americans are raised on grain-fed beef. In taste panels, grain-fed beef tends to come out victorious [*].
So if you’re choosing a ribeye just for taste, grain-fed most likely wins. With that being said, there are some people who think grass-fed tastes much better.
#4 Vitamins and Minerals
You are what you eat. The same holds true for cows: what they eat changes their nutrition profile.
Ruminants are magical creatures in that they can ferment cellulose,a substance that’s indigestible to humans. They are the world’s greatest machine, taking in garbage and turning it into ribeye. How cool is that?
The rumen, or the cow’s first of several stomachs, extracts nutrition from the grass that they can use. Not only are they creating a new form of energy for themselves, but for humans too.It also increases the bioavailability of minerals it extracts from the soil.
The verdict is clear: the closer a ruminant’s diet to its natural diet, the more it forages on a nutrient-rich environment — the more nutrients it will have.
However – and this is a big however – the differences are much smaller than people make them out to be.
Let’s briefly discuss.
Studies show that grass-fed beef tends to contain higher levels of beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C and vitamin K2 than grain-fed beef. However, the levels of these vitamins in both forms of beef pale in comparison to those of other animal proteins. Liver, for instance, has 275 times more Vitamin A than steak. Grass-fed fats like suet and tallow are superior sources of vitamin E, while liver and ghee can provide more K12.
Takeaway: red meat, regardless of feeding regimen, is highly nutrient dense. Grass-fed fat is higher in nutrient concentration, but grain-fed beef tends to have more fat. Since fat stores many of these nutrients, this may even things out.
Therefore, grass-fed beef likely has a better general nutrition profile – but as I’ll describe below, if you’re eating other nutritious foods, it doesn’t matter.
Verdict: Doesn’t matter for muscle meat and beef. Grass fed organs and fats have more nutrients.
To increase their size and improve flavor, grain-fed cows are fattened up beyond what’s natural or healthy for a living thing. After all, if they were fed like normal animals, they’d only grow to a normal size. Better for the cow, less ideal for the rancher’s wallet.
When you feed cows an unnatural diet, it raises the acidity of their rumen. Combine that with insufficient exercise and tight, sometimes unsanitary living quarters – not exactly the picture of perfect health. The cows get sick and farmers have to ply them with antibiotics [*].
The question is, do these antibiotics hang around?
It is against the law to sell meat containing antibiotics. In fact, less than 0.5% of all meat tested in 2018 contained detectable antibiotic levels. If antibiotics are detected, the meat is discarded.
When an animal is treated with antibiotics, there are strict federal guidelines regulating how long providers must wait before selling the animal’s meat.
All in all, do not fear antibiotics in your meat, regardless of whether it’s grain-fed, organic or grass-fed.
Verdict: Don’t worry about antibiotics
Okay, so we’re safe from our cows’ antibiotics. But what about hormones? Farmers often use hormones to make cows grow larger and faster, and technically both grain-fed and grass-fed cows can be fed hormones.
However, grain-fed cows tend to contain more. The good news is, unlike kale, ruminants are actually able to expel a substantial amount of these hormones. Ruminants are like athletes who dodge everything you throw at them. Kale is like the worst dodgeball player on the team.
Compared to other foods in your diet, beef contains relatively low hormone levels.
This study below showed that if hormones are present at all, they tend to concentrate in the fat [*].
If you’re worried about hormones in your food, stick to grass-fed fats. But don’t fret the meat.
Verdict: Lean, grain-fed beef is most likely not an issue. Opt for grass-fed, organic fats.
One of the most damaging substances in the human diet is the pesticides often hiding in our plant foods. Two pesticides are major concerns: glyphosate and atrazine.
Both grass-fed and grain-fed cows may consume these pesticides. Glyphosate is linked to cancer. Atrazine, which is sprayed on corn feed, can induce chemical castration in frogs. While this doesn’t necessarily suggest the same results for humans, I don’t see people lining up to volunteer to find out.
Here is where ruminants shine – unlike something like kale, which has no choice but to drown in the pesticides it’s exposed to, the ruminant digestion system can expel glyphosate. According to this study, there is no evidence that the glyphosate cows consume bioaccumulates in the cow’s meat [*].
Unfortunately, there are no credible studies regarding atrazine. However, given the fact that it’s fat soluble, it shouldn’t be a concern with lean meat.
Verdict: Lean, grain-fed beef is most likely not an issue. Opt for grass-fed, organic fats.
#8 Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 Ratios
“You should eat grass-fed beef because it’s higher in omega-3s.” I hear this all the time.
But from an omega-3/omega-6 perspective, it’s not necessary. Grass-fed beef is indeed higher in omega-3s, but the absolute differences are miniscule. If you’re really concerned about omega-3s, you shouldn’t be getting them from beef anyway. You need salmon roe, bone marrow and fish instead.
Omega-6s are higher in beef too, but the absolute numbers are again miniscule, especially compared to other foods in most people’s diets.
The omega-6 quantity in beef is dwarfed by the amount in the other foods in most people’s diets. By cutting out foods like tofu, walnuts and soybean oil, your omega-3/omega-6 ratio will be better than 99% of the population.
Verdict: Doesn’t matter. Your choice.
Conjugated linoleic acid is another way ruminants rule.
Ruminants take the unstable fatty linoleic acids from plant foods and are able to transform them into CLA. This is nature’s magic. Ruminant fats are one of the richest sources of CLA.
CLA has a number of benefits:
The CLA in beef tallow may protect against metastatic breast tumors. Relatively low levels of CLA are required for mice to experience these benefits. In this study, mammary tumor growth was suppressed when researchers replaced vegetable fat with beef tallow.
Additionally, studies in rats have shown that a 10% beef tallow diet suppresses colon cancer [*]
Verdict: Grain-fed muscle meat is fine. Eat grass-fed fats for CLA.
No tease here… There’s a clear winner, and it’s grass-fed.
Properly raised cows not only have minimal negative effect on the environment, but they can actually improve it. Cattle that roam and graze freely can increase the carbon-carrying capacity of the soil by restoring critical nutrients to depleted soil. Whereas monoculture crops (including corn and soybeans grown to feed grain-fed cattle) destroy topsoil and increase greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, holistically grazed cattle can actually help soil sequester more carbon, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s right – eating the right beef can actually help reduce carbon in the atmosphere.
Show me fake meat that can do that.
In this regard, responsible ruminant agriculture is pivotal for the future of the human race.
My Verdict: How I Do It
Beef is just one part of the carnivore food pyramid. If you’re eating a properly formulated carnivore diet, your choice of grass-fed or grain-fed beef matters much less from a health perspective.
Most nutrients that are higher in grass-fed beef are stored in the fat. If any toxins bioaccumulate, they do in the fat too. So when it comes to muscle meat, the contents are extremely similar.
However,, when consuming direct fat (like bone marrow or beef tallow) and beef liver, you should eat grass-fed.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat-soluble and thus are largely stored in the fat of the animal.
Grass-fed fats are higher in CLA, saturated fat and omega-3s. Grass-fed beef tallow is one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
Additionally, Vitamin A retinol is converted from the carotenoids in plant matter, but most of it is stored in the liver, not the muscle meat. Therefore, to ensure adequate vitamin A retinol levels, I recommend eating grass-fed beef liver.
All in all, here’s my recommendation: buy what you can afford.
If you can afford buying grass-fed versions of everything, do it. Support a local farmer. Help the environment. Vote with your dollars to help ensure cows are raised humanely.
But if you can’t, do not worry about it. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Ruminants are magical creatures, and grain-fed beef is one of the healthiest foods in the world.
However, if you stick to grain-fed beef, I advise you to still opt for grass-fed fats and organ meats.
Where to Buy Grass-Fed Beef?
So you want to pony up the money for grass-fed? Where should you go?
Because of the spike in interest, there is now a wide variety of places to buy grass-fed ruminant products.
Your local grocery store should have grass-fed beef, but you can also go to online retailers such as US Wellness Meats, Slankers and White Oak Pastures.
Additionally, you can use the site eatwild.com to source meat directly from a local farmer.
Hopefully, I’ve helped crack the cryptic code around grass-fed and grain-fed beef.
When you think of animal fat, what comes to mind? Unsightly blobs of cellulite? Artery-clogging strips of gristle to be trimmed off your steak and tossed into the trash? Or a sophisticated substance that contains within it the secret to human intelligence?
Fun facts about fat
We think of fat as bad—the less of it we eat, and the less of it we carry on our bodies, the better—but this isn’t the right way to think about it. Fat is not just for insulation and energy storage, it’s also for nutrient absorption, cell signaling, immune function, and many other critical processes. Many people think the main difference between plant and animal fats is that animal-sourced foods contain more saturated fat, but here are a few fun, fatty facts that may surprise you:
All whole plant and animal foods naturally contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats.
Some plant foods are higher in saturated fat than animal foods, with coconut oil topping the charts at 90 percent saturated fat. That’s more than twice the saturated fat found in beef fat (tallow).
The primary type of fat found in pork is a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) called oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil.
For decades now, we’ve been told to avoid saturated fats—particularly those from animal foods—and to consume “heart-healthy,” cholesterol-free fats from plant foods such as seeds, nuts, and olives. Public health officials say these plant fats are important because they contain two essential PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that the human body can’t manufacture:
The essential dietary omega-3 PUFA is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA for short)
The essential dietary omega-6 PUFA is called linoleic acid (LA for short)
What often goes unsaid is that both ALA and LA are found in a wide variety of both plant and animal foods, so it is rather easy to obtain both of these PUFAs regardless of your dietary preferences, so long as you include enough fat in your diet.
But here’s the rub: Our bodies really aren’t looking for ALA and LA; they’re looking for something better. ALA and LA are considered “parent” omegas, because they are used to manufacture the omegas we actually need: EPA, DHA, and ARA—none of which exist in plant foods.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is an omega-3 PUFA that serves primarily anti-inflammatory and healing functions.
ARA (arachidonic acid) is an omega-6 often thought of as a “bad” fatty acid, because it promotes inflammation and is only found in animal foods (and algae). Yet ARA shoulders countless other responsibilities, and even promotes healing. Arachidonic acid recently stepped into my office for a long-overdue therapy session [links to my Psychology Today post entitled Do You Have Arachiphobia?, which takes you inside the tortured mind of this beneficial molecule and explains why there’s no need to fear consuming it. article continues after advertisement
But what about DHA? So glad you asked…
Our brains are extremely rich in fat. About two-thirds of the human brain is fat, and a full 20 percent of that fat is a very special omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexanoic acid, or DHA.
DHA is an ancient molecule so useful to us and our fellow vertebrates (creatures with backbones) that it has remained unchanged for more than 500 million years of evolution. What makes this particular PUFA so irreplaceable?
DHA’s job description is a lengthy one. Among many other functions, DHA participates in the formation of myelin, the white matter that insulates our brain circuits. It also helps maintain the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which keeps the brain safe from unwanted outside influences.
Perhaps most importantly, DHA is critical to the development of the human cortex—the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking. Without DHA, the highly sophisticated connections necessary for sustained attention, decision-making, and complex problem-solving do not form properly. It has been hypothesized that without DHA, consciousness and symbolic thinking—hallmarks of the human race—would be impossible.
DHA plays a “unique and indispensable role” in the “neural signaling essential for higher intelligence.” —Simon Dyall PhD, Lipid Research Scientist Bournemouth University, UKarticle continues after advertisement
Professor Michael Crawford, a pioneering British scientist who has been studying essential fatty acids for 50 years, theorizes that DHA’s special configuration lends it unique quantum mechanical properties that allow it to buffer electron flow. This may explain why we find it in places throughout the brain and body where electricity is important: synapses where brain cell signaling takes place; mitochondria, where the electron transport chain is busy turning food into stored energy; and the retina of the eye, where photons of sunlight are transformed into electrical information.
This is a truly miraculous molecule. Plants don’t have it, because plants don’t need it.
Baby, have we got a molecule for you…
The most rapid phase of development of the infant cortex takes place between the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy and age 2. If enough DHA isn’t available to the baby during this critical 27-month window, it is unclear whether the consequences can be completely undone. In fact we do see lower levels of DHA in people diagnosed with psychiatricdisorders, including those which manifest early in life, such as autisticspectrum disorders and ADHD.
“Similar to children and adolescents born preterm, patients with ADHD, mood disorders, and psychotic disorders also exhibit decreased frontal white matter tract integrity and reduced functional connectivity within cortical networks. Together these findings support the hypothesis that perinatal deficits in DHA accrual may contribute to diminished cortical circuit development observed in major psychiatric disorders.” [McNamara RK 2015]article continues after advertisement
Plant foods contain absolutely no DHA
For those who choose vegan diets, it is important to know that plant foods contain no DHA. The omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods like flax, walnut, and chia is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Unfortunately, it appears to be rather difficult for the adult human body to make DHA out of ALA, with most studies finding a conversion rate of less than 10 percent:
Note that quite a few studies find a conversion rate of 0 percent.
Whether this pathway can generate adequate amounts of DHA in all adults under all circumstances continues to be a topic of debate. Some scientists have advocated that DHA, rather than ALA, should be officially considered the essential omega-3 fatty acid. Even vocal advocates of plant-based diets, such as the authors of the recent EAT-Lancet report, acknowledge that it is unclear how much ALA one needs to consume to fulfill DHA requirements.
However, when it comes to children younger than 2 years old, the science is clear that this conversion pathway cannot and should not be relied upon to keep pace with the DHA demands of the rapidly growing body and brain. Therefore, most experts agree that caretakers should provide infants and very young children with dietary or supplemental sources of DHA, as ALA alone is not sufficient to support healthy infant development.
DHA status and intake recommendations are based on blood levels, not brain levels. Unfortunately there is no way to measure brain DHA levels in living human beings, and it’s unclear whether blood levels reflect brain levels.
Bearing this in mind, it has been estimated that as many as 80 percent of Americans have suboptimal blood levels of DHA.
DHA: Don’t leave home without it
Include animal-sourced foods in your diet if you can
The USDA has not established specific DHA intake targets for the general population; instead it recommends everyone consume at least eight ounces of seafood per week. The easiest way to obtain DHA is to include some fatty fish in your diet, but as you can see from the table below, there are other options.
Minimize consumption of vegetable oils
Nearly all processed foods, prepared hot foods, packaged snacks, and convenience foods are made with refined vegetable oils, such as soybean or sunflower oil. Most vegetable oils are extremely, unnaturally high in LA (linoleic acid), an omega-6 fatty acid that reduces the production and effectiveness of DHA within your body. Excess linoleic acid can tilt your immune system too far towards inflammation and away from healing, so there are many reasons to minimize your consumption of vegetable oils. Your best plant oil choices are olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or red palm oil. If you must include refined vegetable oil, canola oil and palm kernel oil are low in linoleic acid. Lowering your vegetable oil intake can increase the availability of DHA in your body, decreasing your need for dietary and/or supplemental DHA. The presence of high amounts of linoleic acid in the typical modern diet may help to explain why so many people appear to have low DHA levels despite the fact that most people do include animal foods in their diet already.
If you choose a plant-based diet, supplement properly
Thankfully, vegetarian and vegan-friendly DHA supplements extracted from algae are available. [Algae are neither plants nor animals . . . discuss!] These supplements are more expensive and contain lower concentrations of DHA than fish or krill oil supplements (meaning higher doses are recommended), but may be important for maintaining healthy DHA levels, particularly in mothers and babies during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Directly consuming seaweed and other forms of edible algae instead of taking algae oil extracts is unreliable, because it’s unclear whether the DHA within these fibrous foods can be released and absorbed by the human body; in other words, the DHA in edible algae may not be bioavailable. All baby formula in the U.S. is supplemented with DHA already, in an effort to mirror human mother’s milk, which naturally contains DHA. If weaning your child before age 2, be sure to include DHA in your child’s diet as food or supplements.
If you have psychiatric symptoms, consider supplementation
There have been numerous clinical trials of omega-3 supplements in the management of psychiatric disorders. You may be surprised to hear that most of these studies have generated only weak or mixed results. There are many possible reasons for this, not the least of which may be that the amount of linoleic acid in the diet was not taken into consideration. In other words, taking a decent dose of omega-3s without also lowering your linoleic acid consumption (by avoiding vegetable oils) may not be very helpful. However, supplementation is widely viewed as safe, and some studies noted modest benefits at doses of (combined EPA+DHA) of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day, particularly for people with depression.
I titled this post “The Brain Needs Animal Fat,” because although DHA does exist in algae, algae are not plants, and we don’t know if we can access the DHA within edible algae without special extraction methods. Prior to the manufacturing of algae-derived supplements (which only became available recently), the only pre-formed DHA naturally bioavailable to everyone would have come from animal foods. For those who choose a vegan diet, I fully support and recommend algae-based supplements.
It is difficult to be sure precisely how much DHA we need, and both conversion rates and availability can vary significantly depending on age, gender, genetics, and dietary composition.
There are many questions left unanswered that go beyond the scope of this post and may deserve a follow-up post. For example, if most land animals are extremely low in DHA, does that mean everyone needs to eat seafood? Are wild land animal foods higher in DHA than standard land animal foods we find in the grocery store? How do adults choosing plant-based diets know whether they can rely on their ALA conversion pathway? Could eliminating processed foods and vegetable oils completely eliminate the apparent requirement for animal-sourced DHA (or algae oil supplementation)? Does eating a low-carbohydrate diet affect the conversion rate from ALA to DHA? Should you get tested for omega-3 deficiencies, and if so, how? Are there any disadvantages to obtaining DHA from supplements as opposed to obtaining them from animal foods?
The bottom line about DHA
Until next time, minimizing refined vegetable oils and other processed foods, and either including some animal foods in the diet or supplementing appropriately, seem to be reasonable options that likely minimize our risk.
One thing is clear. DHA is a wondrous fatty acid that the human body cannot function without, and it deserves our admiration and respect. While it is important for all of us, when it comes to building the brains of the future, it is precious and irreplaceable.
Source: Article by Georgia Ede, MD (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/diagnosis-diet/201903/the-brain-needs-animal-fat)