How To Increase Longevity With Optimal Health And Fitness

The Modern Low Fat Diet Plague

Beat the low fat diet plague

Eat more fat (and fewer carbs) or get sick and die young. Let’s not mince words. Your health status depends more on what you eat than almost anything else you do on a daily basis. Do it right and be healthy for a long lifetime. Do it wrong and become another medical casualty of poor eating. Eating more fat is the key to good health, including saturated fat. Here is why.

This image shows a great example meal for how to start out the day. Make it even better by adding more eggs. Fats in the yolks are crucial to good health. And be sure not to overcook the bacon!

Health Benefits of Dietary Fat

Let’s be clear. If you are boosting your intake of one of the ‘Big 3’ food groups, then you will have to reduce one of the others. A high-fat diet, therefore, must be accompanied by low-carb intake. Although this post focuses on the benefits of dietary fat, the short version of the low-carb portion means no cereal grains (whole or otherwise), no sugar, no processed carbs, and no starchy vegetables. The absolutely worst possible diet you could have would be to combine fats and carbs.

Now for those benefits…

The table below is a short list of what dietary fat can do, based on solid scientific research that goes back nearly two centuries. Explaining the background studies on each one would require much more space than I can allot for this post. However, if you are really curious about any or all of these, you can read more about each one at Second-Opinions by Barry Groves. Barry provides a wealth of information on each condition or disease, which can be accessed by live links on the left side of his website. It is fascinating reading and I recommend that you check it out.

In this table I have highlighted a handful of the touchier topics because they have become the foundation for misdirected dogma of mythical proportions in support of a low fat diet.

The low fat diet is now probably the worst dietary plague ever foisted on humanity.

The best background information that I can recommend to you for boning up on how we got started down the wrong path in modern times is available in three of the best research-based books that I have ever read on this topic: Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes; Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes; and, The Protein Power Lifeplan by Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades.


Some Fats Are Dangerous

If you haven’t heard of Olestra by now, then just consider that even the FDA had to bow down to public outcry about this synthetic fat. Not by banning it, mind you. Instead, foods containing it had to include the warning: This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added. The FDA is not your friend, though, so this labeling requirement was eventually removed. Olestra was not dangerous enough, apparently.

Other synthetic fats that the FDA considers safe are actually extraordinarily dangerous to human health. Leading the list are margarines and other fake butter products, fake lard (e.g., Crisco), and anything that includes ‘partially hydrogenated’ on the ingredients label. These fats will get incorporated into cell membranes, replacing fats that should be there, and cause cells to stop working well. Translation: when your cells don’t work well, you get sick. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Bad Vegetable Oils

Essential fatty acids – defined as such because you have to get them in your diet – are classified into two main groups: the omega-6 and the omega-3 fatty acids. We are adapted to consuming a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of about 2:1. Unfortunately, the heavy use of high omega-6 vegetable oils like corn oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil shifts the average intake in the modern diet to about 20:1.

Consuming an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids is highly inflammatory. Take a look at the following table to see where you might be getting the biggest doses of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet and cut down on them. Oh, by the way, even though canola oil doesn’t look bad based on its omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, it comes with other baggage. It is highly processed, which is almost never a good thing. In fact, just think about all those beautiful-looking, bright or soft yellow bottles of vegetable oil that you can find in your supermarket. They do not come out of the plant looking so uniformly attractive. They are all highly processed!

The main missing oil in this table is olive oil, which has a ratio of 10:1 (omega-6 to omega-3). That is still not much of a health bargain.

The best cooking oil, bar none, is coconut oil. The saturated fat in coconut oil is primarily what is called medium-chain triglycerides, which have numerous health benefits. In addition, coconut oil will not oxidize even at high temperatures (see Good Fats That Go Bad below for an explanation of why this is so important).

Omega Oil Content

Of course, reducing your intake of omega-6 fatty acids is one strategy. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids is another. That’s where flax oil and fish oil comes in handy, either from food or from supplements.

Good Fats That Go Bad

You are probably familiar with the disagreeable odor and flavor of rancid fats or oils. You wouldn’t want to consume them. Tasting bad or smelling bad is just part of the story. These ‘good fats that go bad’ are super, super dangerous to your health. They should never, ever be consumed. If you are supplementing with them in softgels, maybe once or twice per week you should chew one to doublecheck that the oil inside is still not rancid.

The danger to your health arises when the ‘unsaturated’ portion of a monounsaturated (MUFA) or polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat or oil gets oxidized in air and in light. Oxidized fats or oils attack and destroy all kinds of cells and tissues. They are highly inflammatory.

Although it is easy enough to detect and avoid rancidity, normal cooking can also cause oxidation of MUFAs and PUFAs. Highly unsaturated oils such as flax are especially unstable, so you should not cook with this oil at all.

I even had a ‘Duh!’ moment recently when I realized that one of the most common PUFAs in my diet – i.e., arachidonic acid (AA) in egg yolks – oxidizes rapidly during cooking scrambled eggs. When the yolk is broken, the AA is exposed to air and then heated. This is a perfect way to transform a highly beneficial fatty acid into a highly dangerous one. Fortunately for me, I almost always fry my eggs so the yolk remains intact. No air, no oxidation. Poaching would work the same way. Scrambled eggs and omelets are pretty much out of my diet from now on, though.

How Much Fat Can You Eat?

As much as you want!

That is the short answer, and it is true for all fats except the dangerous ones already discussed. Although Julia Child wasn’t referring to health issues, she was spot on when she said, You can never have too much butter. I would add lard and all manner of saturated fat, too.

In fact, as a prelude to exploring the health benefits of dietary saturated fat, I will simply list the top benefits that are already well-established in the medical research literature:

Improved cardiovascular risk factors
Stronger bones
Improved liver health
Healthy lungs
Healthy brain
Proper nerve signaling
Strong immune system

What better incentives to eat more saturated fat?

Paleo Fat vs. Modern Fat

Human beings are adapted to living off the fat of the land. The question is, which fat?

A great article that I ran across on the blog of Michael R. Eades, How to reduce inflammation with food, gives some insight into answering this question. This is a major point of importance about our ancestral diet that is routinely missed on all those popular blogs and in all those recipe books on the so-called ‘Paleo diet’. Even Loren Cordain, the founder of the Paleo diet movement and author of the leading book, The Paleo Diet, misses this point.

Dr. Eades starts out his article with this quote from his book, The Protein Power Lifeplan. The quote comes from the records of a 1948 expedition to Arnhem Land, a remote part of of the Northern Territory of Australia set aside for the ‘use and benefit of the aboriginal inhabitants of northern Australia.’ It’s about how the indigenous Australians cook and eat a wallaby.

A large fire was made in a depression in the sand, and stones and shells were heated. Small green branches were placed on top of the stones and the wallaby was flung on these. After 5-10 minutes it was taken off the fire, placed on a layer of green leaves, and the singed fur was removed with a tomahawk. [Just the fur, not the skin.] Although the women sometimes did this preliminary treatment, a man always did the subsequent cutting up, which was done with a metal spear blade.

The first cut was made horizontally on the ventral [belly] surface at the level of the anus, and next on the dorsal [back] surface along both sides to sever the leg muscles. Another cut was then made from the anus to the neck. The viscera were pulled out; and the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs, and the omental and mesenteric fat [the fat surrounding the intestines] were separated from the rest, and cooked on the hot stones and coals for 5 minutes. The cooked lungs were used to soak up the blood inside the carcass and then eaten. The offal was regarded as a delicacy by everybody and a certain amount of squabbling always followed its distribution.

The tail was cut off, and during the cooking was put on or alongside the body. The carcass was laid flat, dorsal side downwards, on the hot stones and ashes and the body cavity was filled with hot stones. Sheets of paperbark formed a cover over the animal, and sand was scooped out to make an oven. Wallabies weighing 15-20 pounds were cooked for 25-35 minutes. Everything edible was eaten except the stomach and intestines. The skull was cracked open to get the brain, and the bones were broken to extract the marrow.

Offal? Yes!

I have to admit that I had to look up ‘offal’. Wikipedia defines offal as: variety meats or organ meats, especially in the United States, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs other than muscle and bone.

If it is important to eat like our ancestors did, or at least as close to it as we can in the 21st century, then the scenario above shows us how. In other words, eat meat with that contains plenty of fat. Moreover, eat variety meats that are higher in monounsaturated fats. Muscle meats are the least desirable, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of our meat consumption in modern times is exactly that.

This perspective does solve a puzzle that I have had for years. I have eaten plenty of wild game – deer, elk, javelina, squirrel, rabbit, dove, quail, duck, much of which is as dry as sawdust. I couldn’t understand how the Paleo approach, as it is known now, could ever provide enough fatty, tasty meat to support a healthy lifestyle. Now I have the answer: variety meats are where it’s at.

This leads to a little consternation on my part. I do not have fond memories of the liver and onions that my mother foisted on us now and then. I couldn’t stand to be in the house when kidneys were on the stove. Other meats – tongue, brain, lung, pancreas, etc. – never even came into our house. This is definitely going to take a personal cultural shift for me to take advantage of the benefits of these kinds of meats. I suspect it will for you, too. Good luck!

Rejecting a low fat diet,

Dr. D

48 Comments so far »

  1. by Savanna


    I am not sure how this combination compares, but I have gotten really good fat burning results from eating corn and chicken breast. Some people say that corn is too starchy a vegetable to be eating regularly, but I love the taste and as I said, I dropped a lot of weight by eating corn 3 times a day. I know that sounds boring, but it works. I do like to change it up and I don’t think you can go wrong with any vegetables.

  2. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Hi, Savanna:

    That is the great thing about human variation. Generally corn is too starchy. However, it also offers quite a bit of fiber. As you suggest, I might get a little tired of it myself, after 3 times per day. Lots more variety in good old fatty meats!

    All the best,

  3. by Warren


    I think many people have been influenced by all the different fad diets that have come out over the years. People have also been influenced by all the marketing hype about fats and no fat labels. I have just become confused by all the different types of fats that food companies try to sell you on. I would just rather eat whole foods in their natural state and also high fiber and protein rich foods.

  4. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Spot on, Warren!

  5. by Joseph


    I don’t believe bread, as we commonly eat it, is a healthy or wholesome food (far from it). And last year I was surprised to read a review’ lauding the nutritious attributes of bread and lamenting the fact that, in the UK, bread consumption is declining. The review was authored by a scientist connected with the British Nutrition Foundation, but was funded by the bread manufacturer Warburtons. That ought to illustrate the agendas of many diet related reports.

  6. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Hi, Joseph:

    Following the money IS instructive. Bread has not been good for human health at least since the 1950s, with the advent of modern dwarf wheat. Nasty stuff all around.

    All the best,

  7. by Richard


    I have lost a lot of weight on this kind of diet starting with Atkins and going to South Beach and I wasn’t entirely bored with it it just seemed like a lot of work because I was fixing two meals at each meal because my family wasn’t eating this way. And the cravings were horrible for sweets and breads. How can you get past the cravings? I need to get back on it.

  8. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Okay, I will have to be honest, Richard. I indulge in 3-4 squares of dark chocolate (75% cacao, real sugar) almost every day. Anything else that requires sweetening has to be from Stevia. All this keeps my sweet tooth pretty much in check.


  9. by Vernon


    I understand the concept of this diet but isn’t true right now that the “clean eating fad has started? Do you see this as a fad just like all the rest of the diets or do you think it will stick around longer because it is easier to maintain? Thank you for posting this I am looking forward to your response because I have been thinking about trying it myself.

  10. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Thanks for your kind comment, Vernon. No, clean eating will probably never go away. It just gets more challenging to follow it as time goes on.

    All the best,

  11. by Lisa


    I think this is getting a little carried away really, why not just eat only what can be grown from the ground and exercise that is the easiest and most effective diet I know. Keep posting though because this was good and if this is what someone likes to get them started than by all means do it. We all could stand to be a little more healthy.

  12. by Anthony


    I get a good daily dose of fiber by eating apples and oatmeal for breakfast. I also tend to eat an apple along with tuna fish salad mixed with celery and an onion which I eat with crackers. This fills me up plenty. I think apples and carrots are a great source of fiber and they fill you up so you don’t crave snacks that often. But even if you do, aren’t nuts / legumes a good snack?

  13. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Hi, Anthony:

    Great personal pointers. I’d tend more toward nuts than legumes, just because of the beneficial oil profile that most nuts offer.


  14. by Peter


    Doesn’t this diet cause your cholesterol to go up though? I have heard numerous things about diabetes basically going away but cholesterol and blood pressure going up so I am a little confused as to whether it would be worth doing or not. Keep posting this stuff though because this is the only way I am going to learn which is best I think.

  15. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Hi, Peter: Great questions, especially since this is what I get asked most frequently. The short answer is, no, dietary fat does not make cholesterol go up. Indeed, dietary cholesterol doesn’t either. The problems that should worry people the most revolve around the generation of oxidized LDL cholesterol, meaning the conversion of LDL cholesterol from its metabolically useful form to a dangerous form. Dietary fat does not cause it. General vascular inflammation due to an overload of carbohydrates in the diet does. Fructose is the worst offender. Ditto for hypertension. No problems from eating fat; big problems from eating processed carbs.

    All the best,

  16. by Marc


    I have been eating Paleo 98% of the time since around March. The one exception is organic half and half for coffee. My total cholesterol 142 with HDL 45 and LDL 87. Triglycerides 52. I believe modern man could eat more like ancestors by eating more calf liver. We ate it when I was a kid, but nowadays hardly anyone eats it.

  17. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    I’m with you, Marc. Just a little half and half in my coffee. About liver…it seems to have disappeared from our local supermarket, along with other variety meats. Specialty stores and meat markets still have the whole gamut, though. Liver, tongue, heart, and much more. My favorite has always been chicken gizzards. And turkey gizzards at Thanksgiving. Yum!

    All the best,

  18. by Marguerite Holmes, PhD


    Hi Dennis, and thanks for this good report. One thing I think you should mention, however, is the near impossibility of finding LARD that has not been partially hydrogenated. Some years ago I noticed it had gone from the refrigerated section in the super market to a shelf. Big clue! Hormel lard is now partially hydrogenated. I was able to find some at the Farmer’s Market. Just pure lard rendered from pig fat. Perfectly delicious, and melts just like it is supposed to.

  19. by Robin Revell


    Marc, the only issue I see with eating liver is to consider the job of a liver. It is the filter/trash can of the body, collecting everything from alcohol (in humans), pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, changing ammonia to urea, etc.

  20. by Michael


    I don’t think you can go wrong as long as you follow a common sense approach to eating. Obviously, if you eat fast food and you buy processed foods with preservatives and loaded with sugar, you are not going to get good results. On the other hand, if you exercise moderately and you eat natural foods, you have to get decent results. You don’t need to try any radical fad diets.

  21. by Alfred


    When the author wrote that book on how to reduce inflammation through diet, I wonder if he was referring to an increase in a person’s body mass as it relates to obesity or was he referring to those who suffer from inflammatory physical conditions. And about that so called delicacy that was described in that rather graphic description of how to prepare that animal, it sounds more to me like a how-to survival recipe from a Bear Grills (from “Man vs. Wild and “Get Out Alive reality TV shows).

  22. by Sarah


    This is something I have been trying to figure out for a long time, I figured you could give up a little of everything you were eating, carbs, proteins, fats etc. and lose weight but that isn’t enough of a drastic change to make that big of a difference apparently. Now I know that I need to give up a food group and replace it with another in order to make a difference right?

  23. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    That’s pretty much correct, Sarah. Dietary proteins and fats are essential. Carbohydrates are not. You can live a long and healthy life without ever eating another carb.

    All the best,

  24. by Vicki


    I have tried these diets before and they do work but you get bored eating this way after awhile you just want a piece of bread or a dinner roll or something. Thank you for posting this though I am going to start a new way of eating next week and I am putting together all the advice I can on how to eat right before I start, so thank you.

  25. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    I can related, Vicki. In my mind there is almost nothing better with a meal than garlic bread made with extra sour dough bread. It took me a while to get rid of cravings for it, but I still reflect on how good that bread is. I rarely have it any more, maybe not even once per year.

    All the best,

  26. by Robert


    Do you think this would work for someone that has a lot of health problems or should they do something else all together. I would love to do this with my mom but she has a lot of problems as far as things like Lupus and Thyroid issues etc. Please respond to this comment if you have a chance. I would really like to know the answers to this.

  27. by Lyle


    Eating stuff that is high in fat is against everything that we have ever been taught even in school about the food pyramid etc. I wouldn’t mind trying this but I am afraid that it will back fire and I will get heavier instead. Thank you for posting this information now I just need to figure out which one is best for me, I had no idea there were so many.

  28. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Be brave, Lyle. The American Heart Association and Dr. Oz et al. use scare tactics to offer bad advice. Just don’t believe it. We didn’t evolve to eat carbs, quite the opposite. We evolved to eat protein and fat. Plenty of fat.

    All the best,

  29. by Albert


    I have always thought this would be a good diet to try, I had a girlfriend do this a couple of years ago and she lost 72 pounds doing it so I am looking forward to starting this real soon. Do you happen to have any recipe’s or a place to get them so that you can follow this strictly? Thank you for the work you have done here and please keep posting.

  30. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Hi, Albert:

    The absolute best book of recipes for eating this way is ‘The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating’ by Fergus Henderson. All other recipe books or suggestions, including the most popular (e.g., Loren Cordain’s ‘The Paleo Diet’) fall way short in comparison.

    All the best,

  31. by Robert


    A low fat diet? I thought this was more of a high fat diet if you are eating those things in that picture all the time. I hope that’s right because that is what I am doing and so far it seems to be coming off. My question is however, what do you do when you hit that point where it stops coming off? Thank you for this post I look forward to your answer.

  32. by Grace


    I am going to do some more research into this because this sounds like a diet my husband could wrap his brain around. The things you are giving up he doesn’t care much about and if I am replacing them with something like this without even mentioning it to him he isn’t going to care at all. Thank you for posting this information.

  33. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    Hi, Grace…right on!


  34. by Carrie


    Dr. Clark, I just want to thank you so much for caring enough to share your research with us. I am really trying to lose my weight but the journey has been difficult.

    Thank you again

  35. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    You are quite welcome, Carrie. Thank you for your kind comments. You will be pleasantly surprised how this eating style will serve you for reducing excess body fat AND for a whole host of better health indicators. Have fun and enjoy!

    All the best,

  36. by Anthony


    Hasn’t this been around a while? I know a lady that is on the Paleo Diet or how ever you say it but I don’t know that she is doing it for weight loss I think it is more for just getting more healthy. Is there one that is better for that than others? This was a great post thank you for doing the work it must have taken to get it done.

  37. by Dr. Dennis Clark


    You are right, Anthony. In fact, an early experiment published by William Banting, in the 19th century, laid the groundwork for the ‘modern’ Paleo diet. Of course, the diet itself is prehistoric.

    All the best,

  38. by Claudia


    This is a great diet I have done this before and it does work. I have gained some weight back that I lost over the years because I was traveling over the road in a semi and you simply can’t eat right out there. I need to get back on a diet and in all actuality it will probably be this one. Thank you for posting this I am looking forward to getting started.

  39. by Columbus


    Like you said if you are boosting one of the great three food groups then you have to decrease one of them right? Does it matter which one it is? If I boost protein and lessen Carbs would that work for losing weight or does it have to be fats and carbs? This is a very interesting topic to me because I am studying to be a dietician and this will help.

  40. by Danny


    I am all for a diet with meats and bacon and eggs – all the stuff most people love. I recently started taking the weight loss supplement, Garcinia Cambogia, and this natural supplement seems to be effective in mild, appetite suppression. I know this because since I started taking it, I’m clearly eating less and this gives me a bit more freedom to eat hardy meals, but I don’t feel the need because this supplement makes me feel full going into each meal.

  41. by Anthony


    Since the good Dr. offered a great suggestion for a book about diet recipes, I would like to share my experience with another book that I read back in the mid 90’s. I hope I am not being offensive by sharing another book. Just in case, I will only allude to the book’s title without actually naming it. This book was written by Clarence Bass, an attorney who is more known for his Ripped’ physique. The recipes are easy, satisfying and effective for weight loss.

  42. by Jan


    I need to lose about 35 to 40 pounds would you say that this is a good diet for me to start on? And what do you recommend for exercise to get the weight off quickly? I know that isn’t what this post was about really but I figure someone with the knowledge you have about food would know about exercise as well. If you do please post again.

  43. by Stephen


    I am leaning towards a high fat low carb high protein diet myself because I know it works but you are so limited on what you can eat that it about makes me nauseas to even think about eating eggs anymore. Is the Paleo diet hard to follow and does it limit what you can eat to nothing but meat, cheese and vegetables? I will have to research that one.

  44. by Richard


    Thank you so much for leaving the comments about your post out there for others to read and the responses that you have posted back to them, some people don’t think that this is worth anything but I can tell you that I learn a lot from both the article and what people comment and when you respond it takes the lesson even further.

  45. by Lyle


    I am interested in diets but I also want to know what exercises I need to do to get the results I want and I would like to know if the results come quickly or if this is something that is going to take forever to achieve just to have the weight come back if I start eating normally again? Thank you for the posts you have done you did a great job.

  46. by Sonia


    I have done some research into this and look forward to giving it a try. The foods you eat here make it seem like you won’t be missing anything so that is what I am going to do. I need to lose about 30 pounds so I hope I don’t get tired of it before than. Keep posting that is a great job and you did excellent work on it.

  47. by Frankie


    I have figured out a good balanced exercise routine that will give me strength training, flexibility and cardio so having this to go with it will top it off and help me really make some good gains in weight loss and getting fit. Thank you for posting this I was thinking about low fat or low calorie diets but I think I like this one better.

  48. by Frankie


    I’ve just finished running a Paleo Challenge. For anyone not in the know, a Paleo challenge is usually a month long period where CrossFitters opt to eat strict Paleo’ for a period of 30 days or more. this hunter gatherer diet’ involves eating all the stuff mentioned in this book. The challenge is usually underpinned by a points and penalties system – gold stars for angelic eating, hideous numbers of burpees if you fall off the wagon and head first into a tub of Haagen-Dazs.

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