Toward a High-Fat Diet

Toward a High-Fat Diet

It’s been nearly a year since I began my experiment with consuming an ultra-high-fat diet, the premise being that fat is:

a) the body’s preferred fuel, and
b) the single macronutrient least likely to suppress the life-extending, age-inhibiting expression of our most survival-oriented genes.

It’s been interesting to follow a diet that almost no one else does. Most folks are still stuck in a low-fat paradigm: not just the average American but even many in the life-extension community too. Paleo-practicioners are typicall ‘pro-fat,’ readily admitting that ‘dietary fat doesn’t make you fat’ and is actually quite healthy — but still, realtively few of them have taken present theories to their full logical conclusion by embracing a primarily fat-based diet. Many of them are now comfortably situated in the 40 to 55% range of calories as fat… but 85% or more? It’s a bit lonely in that territory.

But fresh out of this year’s Ancestral Health Symposium, I plan to redouble my efforts. There I was able to connect with a number of ultra-high-fat self-experimenters — all who felt good, looked good, and have had only positive results thus far. Conversation with several doctors, researchers, and anthropologists also helped to reinforce just why the high-fat hypothesis makes sense.

From what I can tell, the hesitation to go ultra-high-fat, instead of merely high-fat, in the paleo community is due in part to remnant-effects of the low-fat paradigm. Paleo-practicioners are eschewing so much conventional thinking already that it can be hard to go full-bore with dietary-fat with most of the world still considering it suicide.

Adding to the hesitation, is that we lack solid record of any ancestor or indigenous people who ever consumed a diet so high in fat. (50% and sometimes higher, sure… but not 85%).

Finally, there is the seemingly conflicting observation that some healthy indigenous people based their diet largely on carbs (mostly tubers). Fair enough.

The counterpoint to all this is that our healthy ancestors probably ate as much fat as they could get their hands on but were limited by how much of this rich macronutrient their environs could afford. They sometimes had to risk their lives hunting elephant or whale, while I safely type this while sipping a jar of butter-coffee and munching macadamia nuts.

As for the healthy, indigenous, ‘safe-carb’ consumers, the question remains whether they might have been even healtheir (especially more longer-lived) had they enjoyed their physically active, all-organic, low-toxin environment and been on an ultra-high-fat diet besides.
We should aim, after all, not just to mimic healthy ancestral diets but to pair the best of ancestral lifestyles with modern advantages.

So where to go from here? Well, we can wait for archaeological evidence of a healthy, ultra-high-fat-diet people. We can wait for researchers to climb out from under the low-fat paradigm and responsibly execute clinical trials that truly gauge the effects of diet based on healthy fats. Or we can get relatively fast and more intimate answers through self-experiment.

Though I’d like to see all of the above occur, my curiosity and personality lead me to take up these self-experiments. I and others are willing to become the data we need.

— Those interested in how I achieve a diet so high in healthy fat can view this sample menu.
— I’ve also updated the Whiton Protocol with a few tweaks to its protein recommendations and some revisions to the theory behind its underlying mechanisms.

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I’ve decided to join the movement[1] to reject the prevailing notion that dietary fat is in any way unhealthy. Sugar and carbs are the real culprit behind obesity and heart disease.

I write this while sipping on a can of coconut milk — and I don’t mean that low-fat coconut water stuff either, but rather 739-calories-per-can and 70g-of-saturated-fat coconut milk. Of course I probably won’t drink all of it today. I can’t take but a few sips without getting full.

Feeling full is one of the best aspects of this diet. After a can of salmon and half an avocado I can’t even think about more food. There are many things to do in life and for the next four hours, eating won’t cross my mind as one of them. Which leads to a pleasant paradox: eating fat, the most calorific of foods, leads to eating less.

I wouldn’t have noticed this had I not been tracking my diet during this experiment. I certainly didn’t feel I was eating less because I felt so full. But I kept getting odd results like this:

All that high calorie food — coconut, salmon, bacon, eggs (yolk and all) — and without breaking 1900 calories. When I was actively practicing calorie restriction (CR) I struggled to keep my caloric intake that low. And that is where many CR folks go wrong: they are trying to eat low-carb and low-fat. Since they haven’t caught on yet that the low-fat doctrine is a lie they go round feeling hungry needlessly.

Doing low-fat calorie restriction takes an iron will that few can muster. When I tried, I often found myself binging after three or four days as my starving body overrode my mind. But on a high-fat diet one simply gets full and may even land in calorie restriction territory (and reap its life-extending benefits) rather effortlessly.

[1] A few helping lead the movement:
Mark Sisson
Robb Wolf
Gary Taubes