Do Gorillas actually eat a high fat diet?

by (11049) Updated November 05, 2013 at 7:47 PM Created June 28, 2011 at 2:11 AM

While discussing lifestyles with a vegan buddy of mine I told him that I had read somewhere that gorillas actually eat a high fat, moderate protein diet. Of course he was dumfounded, as he always uses gorillas as an example of a vegetarian species to emulate.

I happened across this article today that does a good job explaining the details:


"The gorilla mainly eats highly fibrous leafy vegetables and some wild fruits that are not even closely as sugary as the highly bred fruit you will find in your grocery store. The impressive gorilla waistline is due to them having a far bigger gastrointestinal tract and foremost a greater capacity for fermentation of fibers in their colon. Carbohydrate 15,8 % Protein 24,3 % Fat 2,5 % SCFA (short chain fatty acids) 57,3 %"

Just another reason that we are not evolved to be vegetarian (I have nothing against vegetarian's) and attempting to emulate the diet of an entirely different species is not without risk. Interesting how selecting for a bigger brain results in a smaller gut structure overall.

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3 Replies

270 · June 28, 2011 at 5:54 AM

funny you should ask. a reader posted a separatate article related to this on my FB page: It basically concluded that when seasonal fruit/veggies were not available gorillas will over eat protein to meet carb and fat needs, unlike the SAD where humans over eat carbs to meet protein and fat needs, and apparrently the correlation to humans is close enough to explain our obesity epidemic.

962 · November 05, 2013 at 7:29 PM

interesting and very credible. The ramifications are that we, too, produce short chain fats from fermentation, although in lesser amounts. And what would be the foods that produce the most SCF for us? I have a totally unproven hunch that it would be various types of root crops, possibly eaten raw.

50 · November 05, 2013 at 6:12 PM

This is mentioned in the book The Perfect Health Diet by Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet. See "Chapter 5: What Mammalian Diets Teach Us About the Perfect Health Diet". The online available notes for chapter 5 mentions:

[1] Popovich DG et al. The western lowland gorilla diet has implications for the health of humans and other hominoids. Journal of Nutrition 1997 Oct;127(10):2000–5, http://pmid.us/9311957. Hat tip to Barry Groves: Should all animals eat a high-fat, low-carb diet?, www.second-opinions.co.uk/should-all-animals-eat-a-high-fat-low-carb-diet.html.

The link to second-opinions (Dr. Barry Groves' site) mentions that after accounting for fermentation, gorillas get 20.5% of energy from carbs, 13.1% from protein, and 66.4% from fat!

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