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Fat Confusion: Is Fat Bad For You?

Over the last four decades I've maintained that a certain amount of saturated fat, especially saturated fat from red meat, is good for you. Learn why...

By: Mauro Di Pasquale

If you think we really know what's going on with dietary fats, you've been deluded by the dreaded common consensus.

The common consensus you say? What the H*** is that? Well that's when everybody that has some pull says just about the same thing, when in fact even though they're all united in their thinking, they've got it wrong. A point in fact are the issues surrounding dietary saturated fat.

The whole fat trivia quiz has been going on for centuries. What's bad for you, your heart, and your dog and cat? Why fat of course, and even worse, fat from red meat. The less the better. With less fat, and especially less saturated fat, you'll live longer, love better, and just enjoy life so much more.

One question. How can you be so damn sure? Well you see we have all this incontrovertible data to back up what we say. For example it's obvious, and we can prove it, that eating fat and red meat will make you fat, clog your arteries, lead you to an early grave and give you the heebe jeebes.


Let's Cut The Fat Crap And Get Real

I never believed all this saturated fat and red meat propaganda. Over the last four decades I've maintained that a certain amount of saturated fat, especially saturated fat from red meat, is good for you. It's the best for maximizing body composition, increasing testosterone levels, and even for health reasons.

What's The Difference Between Unsaturated And Saturated Fats?
Unsaturated fats are derived from plants and saturated fats, on the other hand, are derived from animal products.

In my original Anabolic Diet, and subsequent Metabolic and Radical Diets, and Anabolic Solution books, I've made saturated fat, and red meat, an integral part of the diets.

Why? Because it made a lot more sense than the studies and advice coming from the medical and scientific community. Even though I'm part of that community.

So I don't blithely accept that the dogmas that are being handed out today apply to everyone. That saturated fat is bad for you. That it increases cholesterol levels, especially LDL, the bad cholesterol, and accelerates coronary artery disease. And that unsaturated fats have the opposite effect.

Or that saturated fat will increase fat and weight gain, and make you insulin resistant, to the point of even making you diabetic. Or that the poly and mono unsaturated fats, including the essential fatty acids, will make you skinny and insulin sensitive.

Why? Because there are too many inconsistencies to make solid sense. And because there seems to be no room for individual response. After all we all react differently to various dietary fats.


Insulin Sensitivity And Resistance

Blood Sugar & Insulin.
Lately I've received a whole bunch of questions about the benefits and drawbacks of insulin, so why not straighten out the issue...

And while I'm at it, this whole business about insulin sensitivity and resistance is also a real crock. Being insulin resistant can be a good thing under certain circumstances.

It may not be good for the couch potatoe, who eats mainly potatoes, and who's paunch measures twice as much as his chest, but it can be good for the person who's fit, trains with weights, and wants to maximize health and body composition.

Why? Man that word comes up a lot.

Because first of all insulin resistance is a relative thing. It means resistance to sugar. It means that your body can't or won't use carbs as efficiently as it once did. But that doesn't have to be bad and in fact can be a good thing. Especially if you're on a low carb diet and want to use fat, either dietary or body fat, as your primary fuel. If you want to have less body fat and more muscle than the average mall shopping, carb munching, TV addicted, normal male and female in this anemic society of ours.

All of this just doesn't jive, Clive. Or maybe nowdays it should be it just doesn't rap, Pat. And let me tell you why.

The usual deal in the literature is that dietary fat and especially saturated fat are bad. The mantra still exists. Fat is bad, carbs are good, although even they're realizing that the simple carbs in fact, really, truthfully, and honestly, aren't.

In reality, fat is good, as long as it's under the right circumstances and the right kind. And I'm not just taking about the monounsaturated olive oil kind of fat, or the essential fatty acids kind of fat, or even the fish kind of fat. I'm talking about the red meat kind of fat.


Is Fat Bad For You?

Fat is bad under some conditions but you can't generalize. All that the famous Finnish study back in the seventies, one of the hallmark studies that's the foundation of how much better unsaturated fat is than saturated fat, showed was that high levels of saturated fat didn't go over well with mental patients.

But then we're not all institutionalized are we? Maybe some of us should be but as a whole you can't use data from a weird subset of the population, under even weirder conditions (how can you replace the saturated fat from dairy products with soybean oil and margarine and not get some pretty distorted diets?) and then apply it to everyone.

You can't but they did, and do. And this criticism applies to almost all of the other studies that make a bad fat connection. But the weight of all these studies is having some effects that might not be to our best interests. For example, our agricultural and food manufacturing industry is gearing up to produce foods with lower saturated fat even though we still don't have the answer as to what levels are optimal or if in fact we should be reducing our saturated fat intake.

And there are studies out there that show the opposite association.

As an example, let's start with a recent study published just a few months ago. The authors of this study found that a higher saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of coronary artery disease.

In a nutshell they found that a high fat, high saturated fat diet is associated with a lessening of coronary artery disease in women who are insulin resistant, and have other symptoms consistent with the metabolic syndrome.

In other words feeding women a diet high in saturated fat, women who are already suffering from some pretty hefty diseases, which are partly supposed to be a result of eating too much saturated fat, results in an improvement rather than making their situation worse.

Couple this with the French Paradox, the traditional Eskimo and Masai diets, where diets high in fat have resulted in low levels of cardiovascular disease, and various other inconsistencies, and you've got a problem with the popular "saturated fat leads to cardiovascular disease" hypothesis.

What Is The French Paradox?
How can the French eat the way they do and stay so slender? While they dine on some of the richest foods in the world, the population as a whole is slim.

Goes to show you that we sure as heck don't know everything we need to know, about fat, saturated fat, red meat and the rest of it, to be able to make the kind of proclamations that are being made about the dangers of dietary fats.

Sure as heck the masses will be out there trying to explain this one away just so they don't have to change their collective misguided minds. But the bottom line is that we need to seriously examine this paradox and figure out a more logical way to look at dietary fats, cholesterol, coronary artery disease and a lot more.


What About Red Meat?

Red meat has been maligned now for the past few decades. It seems that nothing good can be said about it except that it's great barbecued.

I've always said that red meat is good. And there are several reasons for this. First of all I never believed in what the naysayers were preaching. Again, just as with saturated fat, there are too many inconsistencies. After all red meat has been a staple in our diets since the beginning of time. So why all of a sudden is it poisonous to us?

Red meat is one of the best sources for amino acids. It's high in vitamins A, E and B complex. Vitamin B12, while plentiful in meat, is not found in vegetable products.

Red meat is loaded with iron that is easily absorbed, unlike iron that is present in many plant sources. As well, red meats are excellent sources of other nutrients including L-carnitine, taurine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), coenzyme Q10, potassium, zinc and magnesium - all vital nutrients, especially for those of us who want to improve our body composition.

For example, L-carnitine is primarily found in meat. And red meat is the best source of L-carnitine with about 600 mg present per 100 grams. Fish contains only 35 mg per 100 grams. For athletes, plentiful L-carnitine means not only a larger proportion of lean muscle mass, but increased use of energy-rich fat as fuel during exercise.

We'll cover the specifics concerning L-carnitine in another article. As well, CLA, by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping to regulate protein and fat metabolism in the body, can result in a reduction of overall body fat and an increase in lean muscle mass.

The Importance Of Red Meat.
It does not matter how well you train, or even what supplements you take... Learn the importance of having beef in your diet!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Red meat is also one of the best foods for maximizing body composition. A recent study found that women on a low calorie red meat diet lost more weight and were healthier than those who a low calorie low meat diet. As well, there were no adverse effects on bone metabolism because of the high red meat/protein diet.

In another study, red meat was shown to have beneficial effects on serum cholesterol and triglycerides, the other important fat. At the end of the nine month study, the researchers found that the red meat group had an average decrease of 1 to 3 percent in "bad' low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and an average 2 percent increase in "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and an average drop of 6 percent in their levels of triglycerides.

As well, red meat, with its saturated fat, increases serum testosterone levels. I've seen this in clinical studies that I've done on athletes who I've put on my diets, with the emphasis on red meat. And this association has also been shown in some studies.


What About Insulin Resistance?

I'll leave a detailed discussion of insulin sensitivity and resistance for another article. However, it's important to know that insulin resistance, because of its complexity, can actually be a good thing in certain conditions, and can be used to maximize body composition. That's because insulin resistance can be manipulated so that it applies differently to different body tissues and metabolic processes.

Insulin resistance in glucose metabolism, which can allow increased use of free fatty acids, and therefore body fat, as fuel, can be present along side of insulin sensitivity in amino acid transport and protein synthesis, which maximizes muscle mass, and with insulin resistance to fat tissue, which increases lipolyis and decreases lipogenesis.

It is this type of environment that's created by my diets, resulting in decreased body fat and increased muscle mass.


My Diets

The bottom line is that the principles behind my earlier Anabolic Diet, and more current Metabolic Diet, Radical Diet and Anabolic Solution books are based on a combination of the information in the literature, real world experience, and my own trials and clinical studies over the past four decades.

Although at one time the foundation of my diets was considered questionable, especially in the times of the low fat mentality, recently more and more studies are falling in line with my innovative phase shift diets and their superiority for maximizing body composition over all the other diets out there.

As well, my line of supplements were formulated to work synergistically with my diets to maximize body composition and performance.

References

  1. Miettinen M, Turpeinen O, Karvonen MJ, Elosuo R, Paavilainen E. Effect of cholesterol-lowering diet on mortality from coronary heart-disease and other causes. A twelve-year clinical trial in men and women. Lancet 1972;2:835-8
  2. German JB, Dillard CJ. Saturated fats: what dietary intake? Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):550-9.
  3. Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB, Herrington DM. Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1175-84.
  4. Gaullier JM, Halse J, Hoye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;79(6):1118-25.
  5. Eyjolfson V, Spriet LL, Dyck DJ. Conjugated linoleic acid improves insulin sensitivity in young, sedentary humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 May;36(5):814-20.
  6. Clifton PM, Noakes M, Keogh J, Foster P. Effect of an energy reduced high protein red meat diet on weight loss and metabolic parameters in obese women. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003;12 Suppl:S10.
  7. Davidson MH, Hunninghake D, Maki KC, et al. Comparison of the Effects of Lean Red Meat vs Lean White Meat on Serum Lipid Levels Among Free-living Persons With Hypercholesterolemia - A Long-term, Randomized Clinical Trial. Arch Intern Med. 1999;159:1331-1338

Fat Confusion: Is Fat Bad For You?
mauro@metabolicdiet.com

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