Why Fat Is An Essential Part of a Paleo Diet

Yep, that’s lard.

A conversation I had this morning was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s saturated fat-filled back. I’ve been writing a bit about saturated fat and how fat in general is not the bane of human health, but I thought I’d give you even more insight on it today. Here’s how the conversation went this morning: I told my friend I was thinking about trying to have a baby in the next couple years and she asked if I’d continue eating Paleo if I got pregnant. I told her that the only change I’d make would be to add a larger proportion of fat into my diet. The look I got was typical. I could see in her eyes she was troubled, fearing for the health of my would-be baby, and she assured herself aloud that I would be eating “good fats,” though, right? Like avocados and nuts? That’s what I meant by fat because I couldn’t possibly mean… animal fat. Right?

No. I told her I’d be eating more fatty meats. More lard, more pemmican, more organs, more fish eggs, AND more avocados and nuts. And don’t forget palm oil, coconut oil, and fish oozing with omega 3’s. It’s all good. Do you know what macronutrient comprises the bulk of breast milk? Fat. And it’s mostly saturated fat. That’s because babies (read: people) need tons of that stuff to create and grow their bodies, which are mostly made of fat. It’s not just their baby fat I’m talking about, either. It’s their cell membranes, their brains, their skin, their nerves and the rest of the 74% of the lean human body that’s made up of, yes, fat.

The idea that fat is bad for us is so ingrained in our souls that even I feel a twinge of guilt sometimes when I’m enjoying my fatty grass-fed beef ribs. I see in my brainwashed mind’s eye all those thousands of food packages I’ve seen, proclaiming to be better for me… “50% Less Fat and Cholesterol Free!” That is, until I come to my senses and remember that the government and food manufacturers like to sling nonsensical slander around to get us to buy more corn products and pharmaceutical drugs. That involuntary feeling of guilt I sometimes get is the price I’m paying for living in a low-fat world for 33 years.

In my preparation for getting pregnant (some day), I’ve been practicing a higher fat diet lately. I made the pemmican (beef fat + beef meat + dried fruit = delicious Native American power bars) I so desperately wanted to try in this post. I bought some beautiful red palm oil in response to this enlightening post by Chris Masterjohn and found that it’s a fantastic departure from coconut oil. Instead of a tapioca crepe in the morning (that I thought I needed for its carb content), I’m eating more fat and more meat. Guess what. I feel good. I don’t need that carb fix in the morning, after all. In fact, I don’t even need to eat as often as I thought I did.

All my preaching to my clients about eating every 2 or 3 hours in order to heal hypoglycemia turns out to be just another symptom of my own addiction to carbohydrates. Humans shouldn’t need to eat every 2 or 3 hours! If that were the case, then we would never have survived the 2.5 million years we did. We were eating satiating FAT and protein in the form of scavenged or hunted animals whenever we could because a source of carbohydrates wasn’t reliable enough. Fat carries you through hours and days, if necessary. We’re way better at storing fat for fuel in our bodies (as witnessed by the enormous people we see every day) than carbohydrates. Our bodies prefer it as fuel over carbs. Here’s a mantra to help you work through your guilt while enjoying your un-skinned chicken legs cooked in lard: my body prefers fat for fuel, my body prefers fat for fuel. Or just try to say it five times out loud because it’s fun.

Try it out for a day or a week or a lifetime. Get all the fatty cuts of grass-fed meat you’ve ever desired but felt too guilty to buy, and eat the crap out of them without any carb-centric side dishes. Then notice how often you need to eat and how much energy you have. Notice if you do that for a week if you lose some weight, too. I’m not suggesting you forgo vegetables and fruits altogether. Not at all. Just try depending on fruits and carby veggies less and fat more. You may find you have more sustainable energy and far fewer cravings.

I know some of you are fighting this in your head. Despite all the Paleo/Primal/low carb blogs and books you’ve read, you just can’t believe that fat doesn’t clog your arteries like it does your kitchen plumbing (it doesn’t). And you’re still holding onto the fact that Loren Cordain told you not to eat saturated fat in his book that was published in 2002. He got it wrong, guys. He didn’t have all the facts yet. Listen to this interview with him on Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb and see for yourself. He wants you to eat the whole animal, fat and all, too. As long as it’s grass-fed.

Just TRY it and see how you feel. There are a lot of people out there just like me who absolutely thrive on fat, who will finally feel like they’ve come home when they put a piece of pemmican in their mouths.

Ascribing all of our health woes to dietary fat over the last century is the epitome of religion and censorship having crept into every part of our lives. Let me explain. First we make sex, our most basic evolutionary need, sinful and naughty. Then it’s foul language – we can’t even properly express fiery emotions without being censored in this country. Then fat? The one thing that actually fills us up and stops our constant gluttonous cravings for food has become our most forbidden pleasure?! It’s just not fair. What’s going to be taken away next – air?