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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lots and Lots of Saturated Fat

Just shy of three years ago I embarked on a totally new nutritional approach. I used to eat a "traditional" high-carbohydrate diet full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. I didn't obsessively avoid fat, but consciously did try to eat much more carbohydrate than fat. My switch was quite polar in nature: I not only flipped the macronutrient profile on its head, but I focused on making the primary source of fat what many in the past few decades have considered the most villainous kind of fat. That is, saturated fat.

After a year of this nutritional protocol I was thrilled with the differences I saw in my recovery, training, and racing, and also in my daily life. When I got my lipids measured, I was thrilled to see that my numbers had improved after the dietary switch. Of course, it was still met with skepticism by some. After all, saturated fat has been shunned for decades; I didn't expect most people to run to the store and stockpile butter and coconut oil based on my example. Still, I thought it would be valuable to share my results for other people who struggle to find a healthy alternative to a more traditional nutrition protocol.

I've been excited to get my biomarkers measured again and see what might have changed after continuing on a high-fat protocol for a longer time. I am happy to share my latest biometrics below, and even more happy to see continued growth in the state of my lipid profile. Don't miss my previous biometric results comparing my 2011 high-carb diet to my 2012 high-fat diet.


As you can see, my HDL and LDL readings are doing just fine despite saturated fat being a major component of my diet. I always find these visits humorous because the nurse is always shocked at my HDL and LDL scores after I tell them my diet. Especially when you compare the recommendations at the bottom of the sheet to what I actually do.

A brief summary (it's kind of hard to see on the photo):
  • "Limit your salt intake"
    • I consume high amounts of quality salt (Himalayan sea salt), sometimes as much as 8 grams a day.
  • "Include 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day"
    • I rarely eat fruit. I never buy it for the exception of racing, soI'll occasionally eat it during races, or if I am randomly offered some berries or melon. I used to eat tons of vegetables of all kinds. Recently (last six months or so) I have really focused on specific vegetables and scaled back the volume of vegetable consumption. Too much fiber can wreak havoc on the digestion system, hampering micronutrient absorption. The majority of my vegetable come from lower-fiber sources such as spinach or seaweed. I occasionally have onions and peppers with eggs, liver, and bacon. I still eat carrots and broccoli, but in much smaller quantities.
  • "Drink plenty of water"
    • This is the one suggestion I follow. However, I don't mindlessly go out of my way to pound water. I drink when I'm thirsty.
  • "Eat whole grains and nuts"
    • I avoid whole grains like the plague. I am not clinically gluten intolerant, but do recognize the more subtle repercussions from grain consumption. I do eat nuts, but not in the traditional sense: I consume them in the form of Yumbutter. (They even have a product made with chia seeds!) I typically melt a stick of butter and mix it with 1/4 to 1/3 jar of Yumbutter in order to raise the saturated fat content. This calorie-dense concoction can provide multiple snacks and/or meals.