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Refining The Starch-Based Paleo Message: No Added Fat

First, here’s the background for review, if you’re just getting wind of all this.

  1. See the first sections of this recent post on Tiger Nuts and consider that it’s very plausible that starch consumption played a major role in our big brain / small gut evolution. Tiger nuts, a starchy tuber, have roughly the same macronutrient profile as mother’s milk, and are more nutrient dense than red meat.
  2. What If You Modified Dr. McDougall’s Program To “Starch-Based Paleo?”
  3. What If You Ruin A Vegan Potato Salad With Chicken Stock?
  4. Cooking, Cooling, and Reheating Starches For Even More Digestive Resistance.

Those last three are posts over the previous three days in succession. Note the comment threads. Nearly uniform acceptance as a plausible idea.

But let’s refine it a little more. In #2, above, the primary focus was an introduction using Denise Minger’s AHS14 presentation on what we might learn from vegans. Moreover, the emphasis was on VLFHC vegan diets that reverse T2 diabetes (yes, reverse; since diabetes is a dysfunction of carbohydrate metabolism; and since this is high carb, it’s reversal; VLCHF diets merely control). So in terms of these reversing diets being 10-15% fat from whole foods with no added fat, I’m looking to them as experimental for those curious who wish, diabetics, and the metabolically superfucked. Plus, I allowed for small bits of all whole animal products.

#3 was a fun post with lots of calls out to fucktardedness on both extremes.

#4 demonstrates we’ve probably been right all along about resistant starch, but this in a food and not supplemental context. It includes a chart, so neener.

…Let’s talk about old Art De Vany, the granddad. So yesterday, I’m sitting around a lot in contemplative lafing: at myself. So sad his blogging archives from back ’round 2007 and 8 aren’t around. He was the original “paleo Food Pic” guy. Let me tell you what I recall in fundamental terms:

  1. Always animal protein (beef, pork, seafood, typically) in substantial portion.
  2. Always raw, cooked, or both kinds of non-starchy veggies.
  3. Very often substantial portions of non-starchy fruits. He didn’t eat bananas, for example, but lots of melons, berries, etc.
  4. Salads were very simple and if dressed much at all, very light. He didn’t cook with fat as I recall, except a little bit of olive oil brushed on grilled veggies. You never saw drawn butter or mayo-concoction next to his plate of crab, for instance.
  5. In short, while anti-starch, not anti-sugar from fruit. While not anti-fat, he primarily got his fat from what’s in the foods he’s eating and he trimmed excess fat from meat.

And so, I wonder. Was Art more properly described as a moderate carb (plenty of fruit, beer and dark chocolate sometimes), moderate fat (almost all from the whole foods he ate), and moderate to high protein (although, many of his plates of protein were leftovers from a bigger plate of protein)?

Folks have brought up Cordain in comments in some of those posts above, but Art seems like a better guiding light to me. Both are generally anti-starch, but Art wasn’t afraid of fat, nor was he a lean protein guy. And, apart from the low fat experiment above, I’d like to see a place where we’re not afraid of fat in any foods, but that’s where we keep it. We don’t refine and isolate it, then augment all of our meals with added fat from an elsewhere.

So, here’s some off the top of head thoughts on how this might work.

  • If you feel a hunger for fat, eat a whole food with fat in it. If trying to drop pounds, choose leaner whole foods (crab instead of pork ribs).
  • Instead of eating butter, cheese or drinking cream, have a glass of whole milk. Do we really know the totality of the hormonal and metabolic effects that comes with rendering and isolating the fat from the whole?
  • Learn to make sauces without added fat. It’s easy. Reduce out the water, concentrate the flavor. Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken and beef are my go-to stocks. Use unsalted so you can reduce without making your stuff taste like a salt lick. Season when it’s done.
  • Check out the vegan recipe sites for no-added-fat dressings and dips for salads, veggies, and meats (plus, using on meats will piss off vegans). Millions of options using vinegars, fruit or veggies purees, hummus, etc.
  • Use isolated fats only minimally, for cooking (greasing a pan with butter or coconut oil, a pat to do some eggs, but leave 90% in the pan, etc.). This mimics grilling, incidentally. If you leave the cooking fat or whatever’s rendered from the food you cook in the pan, it’s similar to having grilled it.

Here’s a few theory-to-practice applications from the last few days.

IMG 2711
Broiled Chicken Thigh and Potato Salad With Tarragon Chicken Stock Reduction

I blogged the potato salad here. It’s no-added-fat vegan, but rendered poisonous because there’s a few tablespoons of chicken stock in the recipe.

That would be a skin-on, bone-in chicken thigh, but I was pressed for time and it’s all I could source. The reduction (for 2 servings) is three soup ladles of my recent chicken-apple soup broth, reduced to about 6 tablespoons. A pinch of tarragon (less is more with tarragon) and some black pepper. The soup had been seasoned, so no salt (I was reducing), and I didn’t salt the thigh either, for that same reason.

IMG 2713
Breakfast at Gunther’s

Gunther fries my eggs in butter (always perfect o/e), as well as finishes the German potatoes in butter, too. The potatoes are previously boiled, taken from the fridge to finish (remind you of something?). But as you see, no pools of fat on the plate. Used to be, he’d serve with fresh butter and I’d create those pools. No paleo Bacon! Fruit in place of the toast or English muffin dripping with butter. Gunther’s fruit salad is prepared the day before and marinades in the fridge overnight…in orange juice. Fucking best fruit salad you’ll ever have.

IMG 2715
Chicken and Mushroom Rice

This was crazy good. Made it last night in the rice cooker. Remember, small fats for cooking, no added fat. So, I first toasted 2 cloves of garlic in a tiny bit of butter, then added about 6 chopped crimini shrooms  and 1/3 chopped yellow onion to sweat and bring out the flavor (1tsp salt). Added about 1TBS chicken stock to help. Into the rice cooker, along with a chopped stalk of fresh celery, 2 broiled chicken thighs left over from the dish above (none of the fat rendered from broiling, just like grilling), 1 cup of parboiled rice, and 2 cups of the aforementioned chicken stock.

When done, I opened the cooker to let moisture escape. Don’t want soupy for this dish. Then, I added chopped green onions and stirred them in. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then I served with a fresh green onion garnish, plus liberal finely ground black pepper.

So, 2 chicken thighs and their included fat, but no added fat, and it rendered dinner for Bea and I, and it’s lunch for both of us today as well (cooled overnight and reheated).

I will continue to experiment with all of this. Go and do likewise.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

16 Comments

  1. edster on October 17, 2014 at 20:38

    Richard, if you haven’t already read Ray Medina’s recent post on Intestinal alkaline phosphatase and gut health I’d thoroughly recommend you give it a quick look. I think he knocks it out of the park and makes some very interesting connections about fats, starch and the gut.

  2. Charles on October 17, 2014 at 09:32

    My first paleo-ish foray was in 1966 or so when I was 15. I was a fat kid (no “husky” size pants didn’t mean big and strong, it meant fat). I read some book or another about fat (in food) being okay. So that summer I cut out all carbs, bread, etc., and basically ate meat and whole milk all summer. I’ve been thinking back on that lately having little success with a high-extra-added-fat diet, as the latest paleo craze (or one aspect of it) seems to advocate. (In general, that plus RS and probiotics have made me a lot healthier than I was, but maybe ten or so lbs. over-fat and unable to get rid of that.)

    I thought of this again when you mentioned the “have a glass of whole milk,” approach above. I’m thinking the whole milk part of what I was doing was an important part. Maybe it helped with gut stuff, maybe not.

    And DeVaney was my first paleo guru as well, at least in the modern era. And while I think he was genetically gifted, the approach also made sense in the ways you’ve been thinking about. So I think I’ll try this more moderate fat approach for a while. I started this morning by not adding coconut oil to my morning matcha!

    Good posts, and good thought experiment.

  3. Carl on October 17, 2014 at 10:57

    Along a similar line, I’ve started experimenting with doing salad sauces sans olive oil. It’s odd to think back to a year or two ago when I would routinely drench my salads with EVOO. These days I just throw mangoes, tomatoes and bell peppers into a blender. (Adding some avocado is actually great, too.) Finished with a bit of lime and coriander.

    You get this super-creamy, super-saucy type of salsa. Killer.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 17, 2014 at 18:35

      You know where the idea originally presented? MovNat. Erwan’s girl at the time was doing the cooking and she kept doing these amazing sauces in the VitaMix. Got them all off vegan sites. Not that there was any fat fear…breakfast often being a can of coconut milk with nuts & berries taking a swim, but it was what it was. Delicious, and no added fat needed.



  4. James Mooney on October 17, 2014 at 12:04

    Looks like everything is coming back around full circle.

  5. Simas on October 17, 2014 at 13:22

    I think the next thing most should do is start eating whole rice instead of white, and escape all the “safe starch” and “whole grains caused all our problems” craze. I’m not suggesting wheat, but for generally healthy people, I see no reason to eat white rice instead of red or brown.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 17, 2014 at 18:37

      I look at rice as granuals of glucose, the least of the rice, bean, potato trifecta. Not interested in splitting hairs about it.



  6. Daniel on October 17, 2014 at 20:23

    Hey Richard, You are definitely selling me on this idea more and more. Today I had my first non-carb meal. Had as much sausages as I wanted, with a huge salad (avocado, tomatoes, spring onions, etc) and an orange. AN ORANGE:) I didn’t add all the mayo or other fat I just had a teaspoon of olive oil to cook the sausages then poured that over the salad. Felt full, satisfied. I then went to add the food into my calorie counter (because I was curious) and found, to my surprise, that it was about two thirds the calories of my normal low carb meal, yet so much more satiating. I’ve only eaten 600 cals and it’s now 5pm. On another topic, I am curious as to your reasoning behind the rice? Is their a post I missed….

    • Richard Nikoley on October 20, 2014 at 07:23

      “On another topic, I am curious as to your reasoning behind the rice?”

      Much the same as Jaminet. Just use the search function and search ‘rice.’ Cooked and cooled has some RS, and parboiled a bit more, lower GI too.



  7. JM on October 18, 2014 at 07:38

    This post reminds me again why I am such a fan of counting macros as a way to guide my eating. It is so simple & encompasses almost any dietary philosophy or restrictions. With today’s technology there is almost no effort that goes into the process & it delivers phenomenal results.

  8. Dr. Curmudgeon Gee on October 18, 2014 at 12:30

    his diet has too much lean protein for me
    dry

  9. Jennifer on October 19, 2014 at 15:01

    Yesterday I ate no meat, eggs, or fish for the first time in a very long time. Just beans, rice, spuds, salad, and fruit. I did have whole milk kefir, which I blended with avocado for a dressing on my salad.

    Last night, and all day today, I have felt AMAZING! I slept like a baby last night and dreamt vividly.

    I’m thinking I can have meat a few times a week, and a small portion at that, not daily. Tonight, some grassfed ribeye from Tasmania that I got from US Wellness Meats. But only a small portion of the cut, with the rest as leftovers. Sauteing onion and garlic in chicken broth for adding to green beans. No added fat.

    Man, this is different! But I’m liking it already! Starting to think this WOE might be a keeper!~~~

  10. Mike T. on October 21, 2014 at 13:45

    Hey there Richard,

    As always, I find your perspective to be absolutely thought provoking and engaging. I want to follow your proposed guidlines so bad, but I have some concerns.

    1. I’m Asperger’s positive and on the ASD spectrum, which may lend itself to some dietary issues.

    2. I deal with crippling anxiety and brain fog when I re-introduce any meaningful amount of carb intake back into my diet (especially with beans and pototoes for some reason).

    3. I find issue with satiation when I have anything other than butter coffee in the morning (also, brain fog).

    4. I’m a really busy and dependent student, with very little time and resources, with no one else who supports my life choices (alas, they actually try and sabatoge me).

    5. I don’t always have time to prep and cook (alas, food goes to waste).

    As I said, your work and personality absolutely fascinate me. I however, find myself in quite a quagmire and would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 22, 2014 at 14:39

      Mike T

      Have you tried some beans with every meal? That’s what I’m doing now and have concluded I should have always been eating beans.



    • Mike T. on October 23, 2014 at 09:36

      I have, along with the following:

      – Taking Primal Defense (still do) and Prescript-Assist. No notable change.

      – Make a pot of black beans every week, soaked for 72 hours. Result was relentless gas and hunger. Also, is there a chance that beans could be cross contaminated with gluten? I’m not sure.

      – Taking Bob’s RM PS (still do). Not certain of it’s efficacy.

      – Drinking raw milk. Although I love it, the possibility of BCM-7 exacerbating my Asperger’s has led me to avoid all dairy.

      The thing is, I feel almost as though I’m missing something/doing something wrong and I can’t figure it out. I too reject the overzealous paleo/LC dogma. But drinking half a stick of butter for breakfast is so much easier when you have very little time and money for much else. Although I’m always open to suggestions. Thank for the reply Richard.



    • Sea on October 26, 2014 at 01:26

      Consider raw honey, or fruit juice/fruit in place of starch as your carbohydrate sources. These sources are significantly easier to digest than starchy carbs and helped me regain my own digestion after a low carb paleo diet only made things worse.



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