Big fat disclaimer: I don't want to take anything from the guy, he has helped more people achieve health that most of us will ever dream of.
I've been reading his new book, The Paleo Solution, and while I agree with much of it, the chapter on fats (which I read first because I was curious on his stance) just doesn't ring true to the paleo principles. Having Loren Cordain as your mentor and author of your foreword kind of makes it hard to take a stance that is completely alien to Cordain's previous stance in The Paleo Diet.
I also understand that Robb's trying to help out the general population, which, arguably, would be more resistant to go full blown grass-fed and that limiting saturated fats in favor of monounsaturated fats could be a good idea in the case where you only have conventional meat. I think though that it's not hiding facts that will help people convert to eating food from well treated animals. After all, if someone is committed enough to change his lifestyle and eliminate gluten forever, switching to grass-fed meat doesn't sound like such a big deal.
For those who haven't read the book yet, here are a couple of things that jumped at me while reading it:
A great focus on having the right 1:1 to 1:2 n-3/n-6 ratio, but none on limiting polyunsaturated fats as a whole. He even still recommends up to 20g fish oil for a metabolically deranged 200 pounds man. After reading Kurt Harris and Mat Lalonde, it seems evident that PUFAs are to be limited as a whole. Mat Lalonde and Robb often collaborate, but they seem to disagree on that point.
He puts in good words about saturated fat, but "as long has it's kept within ancestral limits". Here are some quotes:
We see saturated fats tended to account for 10-15 of total fat intake in most populations.
I find it hard to believe, especially considering the Inuits, plain Indians and ancient northern Europeans.
MUFAs were the primary fat in our ancestral diet
Really? I know most sources of animal fat are high in MUFAs too, but to say that they were the primary fat source? The primary portion of most animal fats is saturated, with much of the rest monounsaturated. Avocados and olives were not drawn in caves.
Most of his meal plan resembles a lowish fat, high protein approach, which clearly is not the premise of a paleo approach and his bound to failure. Most of his recipes consist of a lean protein, veggies and olive oil with nuts and fruits here and there. Nut much coconut oil, lard, tallow or butter in there. Butter is out of the question because he maintains a negative attitude towards any dairy source, even Ghee.
He analyses the nutritional value of a day's food to show how much nutrient is in there and the sample diet is 38% energy from protein. It sound like way too much protein. He even mentions in a section on protein overfeeding that the liver can't process more than about 30-35% calories from protein. Also, more and more we start to see evidence that low protein, high fat is where it's at ( http://paleohacks.com/questions/10848/diet-low-protein-high-fat ). In the same diet example, 7% (18g) is from saturated fat, 26.7g from PUFAs, much to the opposite that what the paleo community his really eating.
So in the end I agree to most of what's in the book and understand the "political" pressures he probably had when writing the fat chapter, but I find it sad that the book that will probably become a pillar for those starting on a paleo diet still contains bias against saturated fat. Robb himself consumes large amount of coconut oil and talks about it on his podcast. In the book, he also recommends on limiting fruits for those trying to lose weight, but an advice like that could let people wonder what to eat other than protein, veggies and some olive oil.
Has anybody who read the book felt the same way about the way he treated the subject?
The other point that he brings to the table and from where he takes is lowish sat. fat stance is about Palmitic acid. He argues that ancestral saturated fat was more lauric acid and stearic acid and that it makes the bulk of the difference between grain-fed and grass-fed animals. He then argues that palmetic acid has been shown to raise LDL, doesn't mention which type of LDL though, large fluffy or small dense LDL. I know palmitic acid is the kind of sat. fat that our liver creates in the presence of excess carbohydrate to send to our fat cells so I would understand why it gets accused, but do dietary palmetic acid have the same effect has when it's made out of the excess sugar?
It would also be very interesting to see how much the type of saturated acids really differs from grain-fed and grass-fed animals. I though the main problem was a skewed n-3/n-6 and accumulated toxins in the fat, not the exact type of saturated fat. I quick look at wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat ) tells us that palmetic acid is the main sat. fat in most sources, but then again it doesn't differentiates between conventional sources and grass-fed/wild sources.
To summarize my questions:
- Anyone else not feeling it on the fat recommendations in the book?
- Can palmetic acid really be a problem and has it really been shown to be much lower in grass-fed animals?