There’s been a discussion in comments in my last post about the propriety of high fat diets vis-a-vis the nutritional benefit to them in terms of vitamins and minerals. Also, questioning the idea that a high fat diet is necessarily better than a relatively high starchy one. Let’s say 50%, roughly, the balance being made up by protein and carbs, or protein and fats, respectively.
Before everyone gets all antsy, I have no problem with good, natural fats. Nor cholesterol. I don’t think they are to be feared in the slightest. What I’m questioning is the propriety of lots and lots of added fat as opposed to primarily getting them from whole foods like meat, fish, fowl, offal, shellfish, eggs, whole dairy, etc. We all know the stories of people—and I’ve enthusiastically participated in the past—literally drinking heavy cream and chowing down on coconut oil and butter by the spoonfuls. What’s wrong with just modest amounts to cook with or dress a salad and then eat a wide variety of Real Foods to get the rest? Do people literally think that a diet that’s 30% of good fats from their food and the bits used to cook and dress, that they’re somehow going to be deficient in good fats? Moreover, if there’s a decent amount of starches, then the fermentable fiber is going to feed gut bacteria and produce more of the short chain fatty acids to boot.
So let’s do an experiment. I ran some FitDay numbers for 954 kkcal of various fats alone, and then 930 kcal of various starches alone. All of these can be clicked to get the larger size so you can read them.
Coconut oil, olive oil, butter & lard. Note it’s 108 grams of fat and literally nothing else in terms of energy or macronutrients, unless you call 2/10ths of a gram of protein “something.”
While the nutrition profile is not literally nothing, it sure ain’t much. 10 of the 21 nutrients are zero and most of the rest are 1-2%—and the only three above 2% are all fat soluble vitamins (no surprise). That’s one hell of a lot of energy to take in to get 22% of A, 4% of D, and 33% of E. There’s got to be a better way: like meat & offal for A, getting out in the sun for D plus supplementation, and some nuts, olives, herbs & spinach for E.
Potatoes, black beans, carrots, banana, rice and peas. Roughly the same total calories (24 kcal less), but you also get 5.6g fat and 31.1g protein. Note also that this is only about 200g of carbs, not a “high carb diet” by any means.
I’m not even going to calculate out the averages because it’s so close to a divide by zero deal that it’s safe to say that this collection of foods is on the order of hundreds of percent more nutritious.
Let me make another point. All of this chowing down on isolated, processed fats, given the nutrition profile, is reminiscent of something else. How often do we mock sugar-water drinkers for making EMPTY CALORIES such an important percentage of their diet? Isolated fat eaten like that is the sugar water of the LC and to some extent, paleo movements.
Remember, nothing wrong with getting your fat but I think it’s plain to see that you want to get it in the foods you eat, from Real Foods. To my mind, LCers and Paleos who pour on the added fat—often in order to avoid eating carbs, because you can’t eat that much protein and vegetables—suffer from the same problem as the vegans who exclude all animal sources. They are both substituting the stuff of far higher nutrition for much lower nutrition. In the case of the vegans, they forego the most nutritionally dense by far (animals) for roughly what you see above. In the case of the fat gobblers, they are foregoing the nutrition you see right above for almost nothing.