Some Eat 50% of Calories from Healthy Fat

Fat is not as bad as some people think it is. Many experts who studies nutritional science and reads the journal studies are coming to the conclusion that certain fats are good for you. Of course it is important to understand the difference between good fats and bad fats.

You may be surprised to learn that many health experts are eating as much as 50% of their calories from healthy fat. That is because they understand that certain fats are healthy for you. Fats from avocado, olives, and nuts are healthy fats.

Even saturated fats are considered by many to be healthy, contrary to mainstream media. When we say fats are healthy, we are referring to the natural dietary fats (including saturated fat from grass-feed animals, butter, and coconut oil). However, avoid processed trans fats, processed hydrogenated fats, and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. They are unhealthy fats.

Myth of Saturated Fat

Since this is a large topic, I explain in another article as to why saturated fats may not be bad.

Fat on food allows you to absorb more of the fat soluable vitamins such as vitamin D, E, K, and A. Studies shows that the body is not able to extract nutrients from a salad if you only use no-fat or low-fat dressings.

Saturated fats are the building block for our cells. It strengthens our cell walls, and play a vital role to health. Saturated fat make up 50% of our cell membranes. The brain is 60% fat and half of that is saturated fat. If you think of our food as a source of building block for our bodies, then it is reasonable to consume 50% proportion of fats since our cell membranes and brains about that proportion of fats.

If you consider mother's milk nature's most healthy food for babies, then note that nature made mother's milk to be 50% fat by calories. And much of that fat is saturated fat. In addition, breast milk is high in cholesterol. That is because a growing baby needs the fat and cholesterol for development.

Although 50% of calories from fat may sound like a lot, but on a plate it is not actually that big of a portion. That is because fat has the most calories per gram of all the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. So a slab of steak marbled steak with a quarter-inch of fat at the edge would probably be about 50% of its calories in fat.

What Kinds of Fats to Eat?

The book Primal Body, Primal Mind covers well what types of fats we should eat:

"What is important, certainly, is making sure we get our necessary essential fatty acids (EPA, DHA, and GLA). The rest should simply be fat from a variety of natural and healthy sources: grass-fed meat (beef, buffalo, lamb, elk, pork, yak, venison), pastured poultry (chicken, pheasant, duck, goose -- all with skin on), wild-caught seafood, coconut (milk, cream, and oil), avocado, grass-fed butter or ghee, heavy cream (preferably raw), olive oil, sesame oil (in small amounts), tallow, organic lard, nuts, and seeds." [page 115-116]

However, the omega-6 portion of fats should not make up more than 2-3 percent of the total daily calories. The omega-3 portion should make up at least 0.5-1.5 percent of daily calories. The ratio range of omega-3 to omega-6 should be around 1:1 to 1:4.


Dr. Rosedale and The Rosedale Diet

The book The Rosedale Diet says ...

"In contrast to the standard other weight-loss diets, the Rosedale Diet focuses on fat -- burning fat and eating fat. In fact, it allows you to eat up to half or more of your daily calories in the form of fat, as long as it's the right kind of fat." [page 8]

The right kind of fat means omega-3 types of fat as opposed to omega-6 fats. He is less concerned with whether the fat is saturated or not. In fact, he says coconut oil which is mostly saturated fat is healthy. I also wrote about the health benefits of coconut oil in another article.


"The Perfect Health Diet" macronutrient ratio

Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet are a husband and wife team that pioneered "The Perfect Health Diet" described in the book by the same name.

Although Jaminet is not a medical doctor, he has Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.

In Jaminets' book, The Perfect Health Diet, there is a whole section explaining why he recommends the 20% carbs, 65% fats, and 15% macronutrient ratio in terms of calories. Note that these percentages are of daily caloric intake. They are not weights of food. Because fat is calorie dense, a small amount fat by weight contains a lot of calories.

In the book, it writes ...

"Step One: Eat by calories 20% carbs - 65% fat - 15% protein, but by weight 65% plants - 35% animal foods."

So in terms of food by weight, a healthy diet would still consist of mostly plants by weight at 65%. That means more than of your plate should be plant-based (rather than animal based).

By healthy fats, Jaminet means omega-3 fats and not omega-6 fats -- similar to Rosedale's view. In fact, Jaminet says to limit omega-6 fats. He prefer saturated fat and monounsaturated fats over polyunsaturated fats. Fats from red meats and eggs are fine and are nutritious fat. In the interview, he say that you can tell when you got the right proportion of fat and protein when it tastes good. For example, meat that is too dry probably do not have enough fat. When you combine the right amount of fat with meat, your body's taste preference will tell you. Your body's taste preference has evolved to know the right amount of each.

Your Personal Paleo Code

In the book Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser, it writes ...

"Fat is the preferred fuel source of the body and should constitute about 40 to 70 percent of the calories in your diet, depending on individual needs." [look it up, it is on page 55]



Natural Saturated Fat is Okay

Having enough fat in the diet (such as 50% fat) can help protect against Alzheimer's.

The idea that saturated fat is unhealthy is false. As long as you get the saturated fat from natural sources such as pasture-raised beef, eggs, fish, and coconuts rather than the deep fried fat, the partially hydrogenated fats, and the processed fats.

High-Fat, But Low-Carb

It is important to mention that all these people that eat higher fats are also eating lower carbs. A high-fat and a high-carb diet is an unhealthy combination. By carbs, we mean the processed carbs such as bread, pasta, flour products, and especially sugar. We do not mean vegetables which are good for you and safe starches as mentioned above.

Shift to Low Carb and High Fat

The idea goes like this ...

1. Sugar and carbohydrates which quickly turns into sugar is bad. See why sugar is bad. Hence the low-carb advocates recommends cutting out carbohydrates.

2. We typically get enough protein and adding excess protein can also be harmful.

3. Hence by cutting out carbohydrates and not increasing protein, we have to increase fats (which is the only macronutrient left to eat).

Why Fat is Good

For more evidence why eating the right fats (even unprocessed saturated fats) are good for you, watch this documentary from Australia...

And Dr. Oz episode with guest Dr. David Perlmutter.

And Latest is Paleo episode 88 has many clips about news where fat is good.

Sweden is the first western country to reject low-fat in favor of low-carb in their dietary guidelines.[reference]

Guest Jack Kruse was saying on the Dave Asprey podcast that suggest to people to drink more water and eat more fat. Kruse is a neurosurgeon and explains why fat is good from a scientific point of view.

Dr. Mercola Interviews D'Agostino

The below is an interesting video where Dr. Mercola interviews D'Agostino (PhD) on the use of a high-fat ketogenic diet for neurological diseases. D'Agostino himself mentions that on average 70% of his calories is from fat -- range maybe from 50% to 80%. Dr. Mercola mentions that he eats a pound of butter a week.

The Wahls Protocol

In the book, The Wahls Protocol, for fighting autoimmunity, it mentions ...

"Wahls Paleo Plus is a high-fat diet, which, contrary to what you may have read about good health, is not harmful to your heart. In fact, a high-fat diet coupled with a relatively lower carbohydrate intake will actually provide the most intensive nutritional support for your brain and your heart."

Other books are writing about fat. The Blood Code writes ...

"If you have been limiting them, you must reintroduce dietary fats: You need to accept fat as an inherently important component of your diet and cuisine. Dietary fats, and especially the saturated fats, need to be put back into your healthful dietary discourse."

CounterPoint

As with all things with nutrition, there is always another side to the story. There are indications from mouse studies that high-fat diet can lead to metabolic endotoxemia (high LPS concentration in blood plasma). Medscape article writes ...

"a short time (4 weeks) of high-fat feeding caused a disruption of this cycle, with endotoxemia remaining high throughout the whole day. This increase was still 10-50 times lower than values that could be reached during septicemia or other infections. Hence, we defined it as a metabolic endotoxemia."


Note:

This article was written May 2012 and is only opinion at the time of writing. It is not medical or nutritional advice. Author may receive compensation from the display ads on this page.

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Comments 3 comments

Juls2 profile image

Juls2 4 years ago

Hi BlissFulWriter,

Very interesting article. Reading through some of the articles you've referred to, there is that common statement, which ever diet one follows, whether it's for losing weight or just eating healthy, is that we need to stick to natural products and avoid those processed foods.

I must say, I do prefer full-fat protein foods, I find low-fat milk, yogurts etc., just don't have the taste. But I don't know how well I'd go on a low cal. diet, I do also enjoy pasta, rice and potato dishes.


dwelburn profile image

dwelburn 3 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

Good article; I agree fats are an essential part of a well balanced diet, and even saturated fat in moderation can be healthy. Though I would not go as high as 50% of calories personally. And I would eat more protein than you recommend, but then I lift weights so my needs are different.


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 2 years ago Author

I just watched the video (added to article above) where Dr. Mercola interview D'Agostino on a high-fat ketogenic diet. Very interesting.

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