fat

You're Not Fat, You're Pre-Skinny! Tips to Get There

Fat is the common enemy, we all share, in modern society. Beach season is coming! We can’t live without it, as it is a necessary component of our health, yet we shun its existence at every glance. The issue of moderating weight gain, more specifically fat gain, is no longer thought to be as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Fat Chance by Robert Lustig addresses the full spectrum of how fat gain (a.k.a. obesity) is a combination of several factors: physics, biochemistry, endocrinology, neurology, psychology, social circles and environmental surroundings. The complexities around why we gain fat are far more complex than the weight loss industry would have you believe. That said, I want to give you my top take-a-way’s from this book:

Diet coupled with weight training works better for weight loss.

When you go on a diet to lose weight, do you know what you are losing? You lose some fat, but you’re actually losing more muscle unless you lift weights while you’re dieting in order to prevent muscle loss. Maintaining, and even adding muscle, is beneficial for weight loss because it improves your body’s ability to use incoming calories to fuel muscle instead of being stored as fat.

Our body seeks balance in order to maintain our current weight.

Therefore, a reduction in calories in an effort to lose weight will be unsuccessful as energy expenditure is reduced to meet the decreased energy intake. On a caloric deficit you will, at the onset begin to lose subcutaneous fat (the fat underneath the skin), however in a primal effort to save you from starvation, your body’s leptin (fullness hormone) levels will fall. This will create an overpowering sensation to reduce the activity of your metabolism and find something to eat. This is often why starvation diets do not work for very long—the body is looking to restore weight balance.

Evolutionarily, the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates developed separately.

We possess the ability to thrive on diets at opposite ends of the spectrum. The hunters ate fat, whereby the liver would beta-oxidize (the process by which fatty acids are broken down by the mitochondria) what it needed for its use and would then export any excess LDL to be taken up by the adipose tissue. Conversely, the gatherers ate carbohydrates (glucose) and upon absorption, the liver would extract what it needed. Insulin would clear the rest out of the bloodstream and drive it into the muscle for energy or adipose tissue for energy storage. Each system worked for the energy that came in, but when our modern diet combines these it is easy to get a caloric surplus.

Our entire society likes to consume both fats and carbohydrates at the same meal, for no other reason than it tastes good. Who doesn’t like steak and potatoes?! As food became more readily available, we began to overload both sides of our metabolic pathways with the breakdown of fat and the glycolysis of carbohydrates in the same meal. Both of these metabolic processes convert the food we eat into fuel for our mitochondria—the furnace that drives our metabolism—in the form of the compound acetyl-CoA. Our hypercaloric diet is wreaking havoc on the mitochondria as fuel is pouring in from both direction too fast to process efficiently. A single high-fat, high-carb meal is no problem but to keep this up for ten thousand meals in a row is most likely the cause of your creeping weight gain.

Alter your environment for systemic change.

The environment is what drives biochemistry—the hormones of insulin, ghrelin, PYY and cortisol—therefore, if you want to affect your weight you have to change the environment.

a. Get your insulin down to reduce your body fat and improve leptin resistance. You can do this by lifting weights to increase muscle mass, as well as by consuming whole foods that contain fiber.

b. Get your ghrelin down to reduce hunger. Start the day with a high protein (e.g., grass-fed meats) and fat (e.g., nuts or avocados) meal. This will reduce ghrelin and stabilize your blood sugar more than a meal consisting of high carbohydrates, so you will feel satiated longer and burn more calories just sitting. The protein has a higher thermic effect, than carbohydrates, which means that the body uses more energy to metabolize the protein we consume.

c. Get the PYY up to hasten your satiety. Putting food in our stomach lowers your ghrelin but doesn’t stop you from eating more. The signal for satiety, or the switch to turn off the meal is Peptide YY. Between the stomach and the PYY cells are a lengthy twenty-two feet of intestine. It takes time for the food to get there, so instead of shoveling the food down, practice patience. If you are still hungry at the end of the meal try waiting 20 minutes before going for seconds.

d. Get the stress down, to reduce your cortisol. Cortisol is your short-term friend by your long-term enemy. A stressful environment liberates stored glycogen, which in turn raises blood sugar that begins the cascade of insulin and eventual insulin resistance. Any bit of exercise will have a beneficial affect on your cortisol levels.

The more of this story is that, there is way more to process of gaining and losing weight than those weight loss commercials would have you believe. If it were that easy, we would all be famous instagram models, however it is not. So don't beat yourself up if you haven't found the right process to get you where you want to be. It is out there and I'd be happy to help.

 
 

Fat is Good. Animal Fat is Best.

The most important fats which should be consumed daily and which should constitute the bulk of all fat consumption, are animal fats: fats in fresh meats, fats rendered from meats, dairy fats (butter, cream and ghee) and fats in egg yolks. Animal fats contain largely saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.

I’m sure you’re begging to ask the questions: What about the “deadly” saturated fats? Don’t they cause heart disease? Aren’t animal fats all saturated? Well, this is the result of the relentless efforts made by the food industry to fight their competition. What is their competition? The natural fats, of course. There is not much profit to be made from the natural fats, while processed oils and fats bring very good profits. So, it is in the food industry’s interest to convince everybody that natural fats are harmful for health, while their processed fats, hydrogenated and cooking oils are good for us. We have been subjected to this propaganda for almost a century, so it is little wonder that many of us have succumbed to it.

The saturated fats in particular were singled out by the food industry. How did this happen? Dr. Mary Enig, an international expert to lipid biochemistry, explains: “In the late 1950s, an American researcher, Ancel Keys, announced that the heart disease epidemic was being caused by the hydrogenated vegetable fats; previously this same person had introduced the idea that saturated fat was the culprit. The edible oil industry quickly responded to this perceived threat to their products by mounting a public relations campaign to promote the belief that it was only the saturated fatty acid component in the hydrogenated oils that was causing the problem … From that time on, the edible fats and oils industry promoted the twin idea that saturates (namely animal and dairy fats) were troublesome, and polyunsaturates (mainly corn oil and later soybean oil) were health-giving.”

The wealthy food giants spend billions on employing an army of “scientists” to provide them with “scientific proof” of their claims. In the meantime the real science was, and is, providing us with the truth. However, it is the food giants who have the money to advertise their “science” in all the popular media. Real science is too poor to spend money on that. As a result, the population only hears what the commercial powers want them to hear.

So let us dive into the truth that real science has provided us:

  1. Processed fats, hydrogenated fats and cooking vegetable oils cause atherosclerosis, heart disease and cancer. This is a fact, proven overwhelmingly by real science.

  2. Animal fasts have nothing to do with heart disease, atherosclerosis and cancer. Our human physiology needs these fats; they are important for us to eat on a daily basis.

  3. Saturated fats are heart protective: they lower the Lp(a) in the blood (Lp(a) is a very harmful substance which initiates atherosclerosis in the blood vessels), reduce calcium deposition in the arteries and are the preferred source of energy for the heart muscle. Saturated fats enhance our immune system, protect us from infection and are essential for the body to be able to utilize the unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One of the most saturated fats that Nature has provided is coconut oil. It has been shown to be wonderfully healthy and therapeutic in most degenerative conditions.

  4. Animal fats contain a variety of different acids, not just saturated ones. Pork fat is 45% monounsaturated, 11% polyunsaturated and 44% saturated. Lamb fat is 38% monounsaturated, 2% polyunsaturated and 58% saturated. Beef fat is 47% monounsaturated, 4% polyunsaturated and 49% saturated. Butter is 30% monounsaturated, 4% polyunsaturated and 52% saturated. This is the natural composition of animal fats and our bodies use every bit. Including the saturated part. If you want to understand how important every bit of the animal fat is for us let us have a look at the composition of human breast milk. The fat portion of the breast milk is 33% monounsaturated, 16% polyunsaturated and 48% saturated. Our babies thrive beautifully on this composition of fats and the largest part of it is saturated.

  5. We need all the natural fats in natural foods, and saturated and monounsaturated fats need to be the largest part of our fat intake.

  6. The simplistic idea that eating fat makes you fat is completely wrong. Consuming processed carbohydrates causes obesity. Dietary fats got into the structure of your body: your brain, bones, muscles, immune system, etc. -- every cell in the body is made out of fats to a large degree.

These are the facts which real science has provided. Unfortunately, as already mentioned, most of us do not hear about the discoveries of real science. Spreading any information in this world costs money. So, the population at large mostly gets information that serves somebody with a fat wallet. In order to get the real, true information on any subject, we have to search for it, rather than relying on news reports of “scientific breakthroughs” unleashed on us by the popular media.

Directing our attention back to the fat composition of human breast milk again we remember it is 33% monounsaturated, 16% polyunsaturated and 48% saturated. Mother Nature does not do anything without good reason. Human breast milk is the best and the only suitable food for a human baby. Human physiology does not change as babies grow, so our requirements for a particular fat composition in food stay about the same throughout our lives: 33% monounsaturated, 16% polyunsaturated and 48% saturated. This is what we need as it is what Mother Nature intended. The only foods with this composition of fats are animal products: meats, eggs and dairy; and these are the foods that should provide us with the bulk of all fats we consume.

Fats which plants contain have a very different fatty acid composition, they are largely polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are very fragile, they are easily damaged by heat, light and oxygen. That is why Mother Nature has locked them up and protected them very well in the complex cellular structure of seeds and nuts. When we eat seeds and nuts in their whole natural state we get the fatty acids in their natural state, unchanged and beneficial to health. When we extract oils from seeds and nuts in our big factories, we damage fragile polyunsaturated fatty acids and make them harmful to health. But the most important point is this: when we consume whole natural seeds and nuts, we get their polyunsaturated oils in small amounts, amounts which are compatible with our human physiology. We do not need a lot of polyunsaturated fats, the bulk of our fat consumption should be saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. When we consume vegetable and cooking oils, we consume their polyunsaturated fatty acids in excess, far too much for healthy human physiology. It is excessive omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable and cooking oils that are to a large degree causing an epidemic of inflammatory degenerative conditions in our modern world, from heart disease and various autoimmune problems to cancer.

Except from Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Food Manufacturers Are Fooling You

By Mike Sheridan

Fact: The unhealthiest foods you could possibly eat often have the most health claims on the label. Ironic, isn't it? Think about most breakfast cereals. You're basically eating a bowl of sugar and flour. But the front of the box is packed with health claims:

  • Low fat!
  • Heart healthy!
  • High fiber!
  • Gluten-free!
  • Reduced sodium!
  • Made with whole grains!

Flip that box around like a smart grown-up and take a look at the ingredient list: sugar, flour, sugar in another form, sugar in a different color, sugar with a pretty name, etc. It's Type-2 diabetes in a bright box featuring a cartoon character selling love handles and loneliness.

And now they have a new marketing angle: a clever blend of childhood nostalgia and "fat acceptance." They tell us to eat what we want and love our body no matter what it looks like. Presumably, this is because they've finally recognized that the only people still eating cereal for breakfast have already given up on their health and body composition.

Funny thing is, when looking at the evidence, it's clear that there were never really health benefits in the first place to back up all these "healthy" labels. Here's how many of them originated and why they're wrong.

1 – Low Fat

It's taken over 40 years to officially call BS on the fraudulent claims about fat. The fear of dietary fat started in the 60's and 70's and immediately moved breakfast cereal into the "healthy" category. Hey, sugar is fat free! Bacon, eggs, and butter were out. Low-fat indigestible roughage was in because the research of the time was suggesting that saturated fat was clogging our arteries and increasing our risk of heart disease.

And despite the various top-notch review studies disproving this myth today, the cereal killers, sugar-water sellers, and big pharma phonies continue to lobby government officials, pay off medical and fitness professionals, and fund bogus research studies to keep it alive.

A low-fat diet isn't a benefit because eating fat doesn't cause disease. NOT eating it probably does, and we now know the body even needs some saturated fat to function optimally.

2 – High Fiber

Once you understand the origins of the low-fat guidelines it's easy to see how the advice to eat more fiber came about.

Denis Burkitt was the man behind the 1970's research linking high-fiber diets to lower rates of disease (colorectal cancer specifically). Just like Ancel Keys (the fat fraud), his evidence was awful. He basically claimed that African tribesman were healthier than Westerners because they ate their grains whole (with the fibrous outer shell). He conveniently failed to include a number of disease-free tribes thriving on starch-less diets high in saturated fat and animal protein, like the Masai.

Nonetheless, the bran we were throwing in the garbage became a prized possession, Burkitt wrote a best-selling book, and the "high-fiber" stamp fit perfectly next to the "low-fat" one on our breakfast bowl of blood sugar and body fat. It remains there today, right along with the misconception that whole grains are healthier than refined grains and that more fiber is a good thing, regardless of the source.

Meanwhile, the only study looking at the long-term impact of eating a high-fiber diet (DART, 1989) found an INCREASED risk of heart disease (23%) and mortality (27%). Those studies looking at colorectal cancer saw no benefit to upping our fiber intake:

"Our data do not support the existence of an important protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal cancer or adenoma." (Fuchs CS et al. NEJM, 1999)

"In this large pooled analysis... high dietary fiber intake was not associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer." (Park Y et al. JAMA, 2005.)

3 – Cholesterol

The "lipid hypothesis" suggests that elevated cholesterol is associated with heart disease. And when we add it to what high-fiber, low-fat fanatics tell us, it's no wonder we think the way we do and fall for bogus health claims.

Right around the time all this low-fat, high-fiber evidence was surfacing, doctors and scientists were convinced they'd found the underlying cause of atherosclerosis – the narrowing and hardening of arteries. Nearly every doctor was on board with the theory. In the early 80's the National Institute of Health gathered 14 experts who voted unanimously that, "Lowering elevated blood cholesterol levels will reduce the risk of heart attacks caused by coronary heart disease."

They did so despite the fact that a causal relationship was never established, there's a library of evidence disproving it, and the original experiments used rabbits (herbivores that can't process dietary cholesterol) and a chemically prepared bare-cholesterol, which tends to oxidize.

But along came the prescription statins, and all of a sudden the questions and doctors aggressively opposing the theory disappeared. This created an environment where we dish out damaging side effects to more than 32 million Americans to lower the thing that's NOT associated with heart disease and does nothing to prevent it.

If cholesterol were associated with heart disease, there would be fewer heart attacks in those on statins and those with lower cholesterol, but there aren't. And there would be more heart attacks in those not on statins with higher cholesterol, but there aren't. The two variables aren't even related.

What we do see is statins causing mitochondrial and hormonal dysfunction, and lower cholesterol levels associated with cognitive and neurological impairment (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression). This shouldn't come as a surprise when you understand that cholesterol is a building block for cell membranes, precursor to steroid hormones and essential nutrients, and fuel provider to neurons who can't generate it on their own.

"Our finding that low plasma cholesterol is associated with depressive symptoms in elderly men is compatible with observations that a very low total cholesterol may be related to suicide and violent death." (Morgan RE, et al. 1993, Lancet.)

Cereal fiber's ability to lower cholesterol is more of a detriment than a benefit. And realistically, the people getting heart attacks are the ones with elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and excess small-dense (oxidizable) LDL particles – the same thing eating less saturated fat, more high-glycemic carbs, and vegetable oil-filled boxes of stuff claiming to "lower cholesterol" provides.

4 – Sodium

Heard the one about the obese, pre-diabetic guy with high triglycerides? Doc told him to eat less salt!

That's a joke. Or at least it should be. Salt doesn't make you fat and it's probably the last thing the average person needs to be worrying about when it comes to health.

High blood pressure is the fourth and final phase that turns Syndrome X into the Deadly Quartet. When you have metabolic syndrome, eating less salt won't do anything to solve the real problem.

  • 2 weeks – insulin resistance (hyperinsulinemia)
  • 2 months – elevated triglycerides (hyperlipidemia)
  • 6 months – obesity (high bodyfat)
  • 12 months – high blood pressure (hypertension)

People with high blood pressure don't need to eat less salt. They need to stop drinking liquid fructose and start driving-past instead of driving-thru.

More importantly, trying to abide by the FDA and AHA's recommendations to keep salt intake below 2400 mg per day (1tsp) increases cardiovascular disease risk and mortality from a heart attack or stroke. Ironically, this appears to be the result of elevated triglycerides and reductions in insulin sensitivity – the same thing driving the high blood pressure in the first place.

"The inverse association of sodium to CVD mortality seen here raises questions regarding the likelihood of a survival advantage accompanying a lower sodium diet." (Cohen HW, et al. AJM, 2006)

Therefore, one could say that your low-salt food is a double-whammy since you're consuming the food that's elevating the cause of high blood pressure and opting for the "lowers blood pressure" variety that's making it worse.

5 – Gluten

The gliadin proteins in wheat can be damaging to many people because of those proteins' ability to induce inflammation and increase intestinal permeability. Wheat itself may also cause cravings and interfere with your appetite-regulating mechanisms.

However, this doesn't mean all products with a "gluten-free" stamp of approval are suddenly health foods. Pizza is still pizza, pancakes are still pancakes, and a slab of pound cake beside your coffee is and always will be a bad choice... gluten-free or not. This should be common sense, but millions are willingly fooled every day because it's pretty easy to convince us that a delicious junk food is fine when it has an official-looking health claim on the box.

Just like we were tricked into selecting low-fat and low-sodium packaged products because of their apparent health benefit, food marketers have simply found another way to convince you that their bag or box of garbage is healthy.

Gluten-free cereal may be better than gluten-filled cereal, but it's still cereal. And you'd be better off leaving both for the birds.

References

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  2. Siri-Tarino PW, et al. 2010. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 91(3):535-46.
  3. Skeaff CM and Miller J. 2009. Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: summary of evidence from prospective cohort and randomised controlled trials. Ann Nutr Metab 55(1-3):173-201.
  4. Yamagishi K, et al. 2010. Dietary intake of saturated fatty acids and mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese: the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk (JACC) Study. Am J Clin Nutr 92(4):759-65.
  5. Mente A, et al. 2009. A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 169(7):659-69.
  6. Limb M. 2014. Tougher action is needed to address "alarming" levels of overweight and obesity, says England's chief medical officer. BMJ 348:g2438.
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  8. Mann GV, et al. 1971. Atherosclerosis in the Masai. Am J Epidemiol 95 (1): 26-37.
  9. Burr ML, et al. 1989. Diet and reinfarction trial (DART): design, recruitment, and compliance. Eur Heart J 10(6):558-67.
  10. Fuch CS, et al. 1999. Dietary fiber and the risk of colorectal cancer and adenoma in women. N Engl J Med 340(3):169-76.
  11. Park Y, et al. 2005. Dietary Fiber Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. JAMA 294(22):2849-2857.
  12. Steinberg D. 2006. Thematic review series: the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. An interpretive history of the cholesterol controversy, part V: the discovery of the statins and the end of the controversy. J Lipid Res 47(7):1339-51.
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  14. Stehbens WE. 2001. Coronary heart disease, hypercholesterolemia, and atherosclerosis. I. False premises. Exp Mol Pathol 70(2):103-19.
  15. Golomb BA and Evans MA. 2008. Statin adverse effects : a review of the literature and evidence for a mitochondrial mechanism. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs 8(6):373-418.
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  21. Corona G, et al. 2010. The effect of statin therapy on testosterone levels in subjects consulting for erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med 7(4 Pt 1):1547-56.
  22. West R, et al. 2008. Better memory functioning associated with higher total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in very elderly subjects without the apolipoprotein e4 allele. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 16(9):781-5.
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  26. Perez-Rodriguez MM, et al. 2008. Low serum cholesterol may be associated with suicide attempt history. J Clin Psychiatry 69(12):1920-7.
  27. Seneff S. 2009. APOE-4: The Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins may Cause Alzheimer's
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  31. Barnard RJ, et al. 1998. Diet-induced insulin resistance precedes other aspects of the metabolic syndrome. J Appl Physiol 84(4):1311-1315.
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Grains - The Real Cereal Killer

By Dr. Mercola

The persistent myth that dietary fat causes obesity and promotes heart disease has undoubtedly ruined the health of millions of people. It's difficult to know just how many people have succumbed to chronic poor health from following conventional low-fat, high-carb recommendations, but I'm sure the number is significant.

In the featured documentary, Cereal Killers, 41-year-old Donald O'Neill turns the American food pyramid upside-down—eliminating sugars and grains, and dramatically boosting his fat intake. In so doing, he improves his health to the point of reducing his hereditary risk factors for heart disease to nil.

Watching people's reactions to his diet brings home just how brainwashed we've all become when it comes to dietary fat. Most fear it. Yet they will consume sugar in amounts that virtually guarantee they'll suffer all the devastating health consequences they're trying to prevent by avoiding fat, and then some!

Fat versus Carbs—What Really Makes You Pack on the Pounds?

The fact is, you've been thoroughly misled when it comes to conventional dietary advice. Most dietary guidelines have been massively distorted, manipulated, and influenced by the very industries responsible for the obesity epidemic in the first place—the sugar and processed food industries.

Shunning the evidence, many doctors, nutritionists, and government health officials will still tell you to keep your saturated fat below 10 percent, while keeping the bulk of your diet, about 60 percent, as carbs.1 This is madness, as it's the converse of a diet that will lead to optimal health.

A recent Time Magazine2 article highlighted a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which showed that many breakfast cereals contain more than 50 percent sugar by weight! Cereals marketed specifically to children are among the worst offenders. Kellogg's Honey Smacks and Mom's Best Cereals Honey-Ful Wheat topped the list with 56 percent sugar by weight. If you're looking for alternatives for your family you could try Snackimals from Barbara's. Snackimals is not on the EWG's list because it is a newer product. All of their flavors have only 7 grams of sugar per serving.

Even diabetes organizations promote carbohydrates as a major component of a healthy diet—even though grains break down to sugar in your body, and sugar promotes insulin resistance, which is the root cause of type 2 diabetes in the first place.

As noted in the film: "If we could get all diabetics to eat a high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, we would cut the insulin requirement so dramatically that it's been estimated that six pharmaceutical companies would go out of business tomorrow."Contrary to popular belief, you do not get fat from eating fat. You get fat from eating too much sugar and grains.

Refined carbohydrates promote chronic inflammation in your body, elevate low-density LDL cholesterol, and ultimately lead to insulin and leptin resistance. Insulin and leptin resistance, in turn, is at the heart of obesity and most chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's—all the top killers in the US. 

Don't Fear the Fat

In the film, O'Neill switches over to a diet where 70 percent of his calories come from healthy fat—most of it in the form of macadamia nuts (my personal favorite)—and the remaining 30 percent of his caloric intake is divvied up between protein and fibrous fruits and vegetables. Over the course of 28 days, O'Neill:

  • Loses weight and body fat
  • Increases his lean muscle mass
  • Feels more energetic and improves his athletic performance
  • Increases his resting metabolic rate
  • Improves his blood pressure, cholesterol, and other measurements to the point that he no longer has any risk factors for heart disease, which he's genetically predisposed for

Of particular importance here is that O'Neill's total cholesterol and LDL levels wentup, which initially caused significant concern. However, once they tested the LDL particle numbers, the results showed that his LDL particles were the largest species known, and he had virtually no small LDL particles at all.

This is phenomenal, as it's the small, dense LDL particles that cause inflammation. Large particles do not. Also, the markers for inflammation were virtually nonexistent, showing that he has no inflammation in his body at all. All in all, his one-month long high-fat, no-carb diet experiment proved that:

  • Eating fat helps you lose fat
  • Eating saturated fat decreases your risk factors for heart disease
  • Regardless of your genetic predisposition your diet is, ultimately, the determining factor

I would also add that his results show the benefits of a high-fat, low-carb diet for athletes, many of whom are still convinced that this type of diet will make them heavy and sluggish. On the contrary, O'Neill breaks his own athletic record during his experiment, and refers to his renewed sense of vigor as feeling like a "spring lamb."

This high and sustained energy is a hallmark of ketogenesis, where your body is burning fat rather than sugar as its primary fuel. When your body burns fat, you don't experience the energy crashes associated with carbs.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Are Both Necessary for Optimal Health

Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a number of important health benefits, and your body requires them for the proper function of your:

Cholesterol—another wrongly vilified dietary component—also carries out essential functions within your cell membranes, and is critical for proper brain function and production of steroid hormones, including your sex hormones. Vitamin D is also synthesized from a close relative of cholesterol: 7-dehydrocholesterol. 

Your body is composed of trillions of cells that need to interact with one another. Cholesterol is one of the molecules that allow for these interactions to take place. For example, cholesterol is the precursor to bile acids, so without sufficient amounts of cholesterol, your digestive system can be adversely affected. It's also critical for synapse formation in your brain, i.e. the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and form memories. In fact, there's reason to believe that low-fat diets and/or cholesterol-lowering drugs may cause or contribute to Alzheimer's disease.3

Replacing Refined Carbs with Healthy Fat—The Answer to Most of Your Health Concerns

Underlying most chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are inflammation and insulin/leptin resistance. When you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar, insulin, and leptin will all temporarily rise, and these spikes are very pro-inflammatory. Where you have inflammation, disease and dysfunction follows. An excellent editorial in the journal Open Heart4 reviews the cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates, which includes the following:

The answer, then, lies in avoiding these inflammatory spikes in blood sugar, insulin and leptin, and reversing insulin and leptin resistance. To do this, you need to:

  • Avoid refined sugar, processed fructose, and grains. This means avoiding processed foods, as they are chockfull of these ingredients, along with other chemicals that can wreak metabolic havoc
  • Eat a healthful diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs you cut out with:
  • Moderate amounts of high-quality protein from organic, grass-fed or pastured animals (this is to ensure you're not getting the antibiotics, genetically engineered organisms, and altered nutritional fat profile associated with factory farmed animals)
  • High amounts of high-quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated). Many health experts now believe that if you are insulin or leptin resistant, as 85 percent of the US population is, you likely need anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your daily calories in the form of healthful fats for optimal health. Good sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts (particularly macadamia), and animal fats. Avoid all trans fats and processed vegetable oils (such as canola and soy oil). Also take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.
  • As many vegetables as you can muster. Juicing your vegetables is a good way to boost your vegetable intake

Another "add-on" suggestion is to start intermittent fasting, which will radically improve your ability to burn fat as your primary fuel. This too will help restore optimal insulin and leptin signaling.

What's the Deal with Protein?

Dr. Rosedale, who was one of my primary mentors on the importance of insulin and leptin, was one of the first professionals to advocate both a low-carb and moderate protein (and therefore high-fat) diet. This was contrary to most low-carb advocates who were, and still are, very accepting of using protein as a replacement for the carbs.

The problem is that, along with grains, most Americans tend to eat far too much protein. While your body certainly has a protein requirement, there's evidence suggesting that eating more protein than your body needs could end up fueling cancer growth.

Dr. Rosedale advises limiting your protein to one gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (or 0.5 grams per pound of lean body weight). For most people, this means cutting protein down to about 35-75 grams per day. Pregnant women and those working out extensively need about 25 percent more. I believe this theory is worthy of consideration. The key though is to add healthy fat to replace the carb and protein calories you're cutting out of your diet. Again, sources of healthy fat include:

Your Health Is Within Your Control

Groundbreaking research by the likes of Dr. Robert Lustig and Dr. Richard Johnson (author of the books, The Sugar Fix and The Fat Switch) clearly identifies the root cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and numerous other chronic diseases, and it's notfat. It's refined sugar—particularly fructose—consumed in excessive amounts. Their research, and that of others, provides us with a clear solution to our current predicament. In short, if you want to normalize your weight and protect your health, you need to address your insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains.

For a comprehensive guide, see my free optimized nutrition plan. Generally speaking though, you'll want to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed or minimally processed foods. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you'll also want to eat a good portion of your food raw.

Sugar is highly addictive, and if you're like most people, you're no stranger to carb cravings. Just know that once your body gets used to burning fat instead of sugar as its primary fuel, those cravings will vanish. Many cereals and other grain products would not be quite as harmful if they didn't also contain so much added sugar. Even many organic brands contain excessive amounts. This is unfortunate, since many (Americans in particular) are really indoctrinated to eat cereal for breakfast. I've been working on a low-sugar cereal line for some time now, to provide a healthier alternative for those who really don't want to give up their breakfast cereal. I hope to have it ready sometime this summer.

Last but not least, for those of you still concerned about your cholesterol levels, know that 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol, thereby reducing your risk of both diabetes and heart disease.

Also, remember that even if a high-fat, low-carb diet was to raise your total cholesterol and LDL, it doesn't automatically mean that your diet is increasing your risk factors for heart disease. As O'Neill did in this film, you need to test your LDL particle number. Large-sized particles are good, while the smaller, denser particles can penetrate the lining of your arteries and stimulate the plaque formation associated with heart disease. The former does NOT increase your heart disease risk, while the latter one will. To learn more about LDL particle numbers and how to test them, please see my previous interview with Chris Kresser, L.Ac., which goes into this in some detail.

Eat the Whole Egg

An egg is superior to the same quantity of any other kind of food. People who order egg-white-only omelets are missing out on the most nutritious part of the egg: the yolk. Dr. Chris Masterjohn points out that of all the nutrients in an egg, the yolk contains 100% of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, and K) essential fatty acids DHA and AA, and carotenoids. The yolk contains over 80% of the nine nutrients (calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, folate, B6, B12 and pantothenic acid), whereas the white contains over 80% of just three nutrients (magnesium, sodium and niacin). Six other nutrients are split more evenly between the two. Of course, the yolk also contains 99% of the fat, which is why people avoid it. Despite the widespread fear of cholesterol, eating eggs has not been shown to cause cardiovascular disease. Egg yolks from pastured hens are a deep orange, unlike the pale yellow of conventional yolks, and are richer in nutrients. as well as tasting better.