I noticed some paleos took issue with meat in the paleo diet being described in the media as "lean".
Isn't it true that wild and pastured meat tends to be quite lean? Farm animals in factory farms are fattened up, fed lots, kept in a sedentary lifestyle.
It seems odd for some people who describe themselves as paleo who eat dairy fat (butter) to mock lean meat as not paleo. Butter does not come from the Paleolithic.
Please don't confuse this as trolling, I really don't get why it would be a problem for people to think paleo diet was based around lean meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. sounds like an authentic hunter-gatherer diet to me.
The "lean meat" stuff just gets tiring. There's no reason why you just can't say "meat". The only reason to throw in "lean" is a) You think fat is bad, or b) You don't want to scare you audience, who thinks fat is bad.
I think its fine to eat lean meat, but we need to remember that eating like we do today is different from how our paleo ancestors did. They ate the whole beast including marrow and various organs which do contain a lot of fats. If you aren't eating lots of organ meat and marrow and such then you probably should eat fattier cuts or add fats to your diet.
I've brought this up in a previous post but Cordain on page 101 of The Paleo Diet talks about 'rabbit starvation' wherein a person consuming large quanities of lean meats taxes their liver which can't eliminate all the nitrogen.
I believe this taxes your liver only when eating super lean stuff i.e. rabbit meat but it doesn't tax your liver if you add fats or eat fatty cuts.
Vilhjalmur Stefansson from Wikipedia on fat-hunger:
The groups that depend on the blubber animals are the most fortunate in the hunting way of life, for they never suffer from fat-hunger. This trouble is worst, so far as North America is concerned, among those forest Indians who depend at times on rabbits, the leanest animal in the North, and who develop the extreme fat-hunger known as rabbit-starvation. Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source—beaver, moose, fish—will develop diarrhoea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied. Some think a man will die sooner if he eats continually of fat-free meat than if he eats nothing, but this is a belief on which sufficient evidence for a decision has not been gathered in the North. Deaths from rabbit-starvation, or from the eating of other skinny meat, are rare; for everyone understands the principle, and any possible preventive steps are naturally taken."
Good question that has bothered me for quite some time. I was in a restaurant recently and noticed a sign indicating the restaurant had buffalo meat, which it said is very lean and hence healthy. I just roll my eyes at this kind of crap. Why? Do a little reading in primary source material on Native Americans and diet. They depended on buffalo meat, but how did they prepare it? They ate the marrow and tongue and organ meats and then made pemmican out of the lean pieces, to which they added lots of fat (because the meat is lean). So, yes, lean meat was consumed, but with a large admixture of fat.
"What’s wrong with saying that paleo is about lean meat?"
Because it's not! "Lean meat" makes people think it's turkey, skinless chicken breasts and tuna all the time. It's much more about red meat - grass fed, sure - but ruminants, definitely (and some fish, I guess).
Dr. Mike Eades take on Paleolithic man's preference for fatty meat:
"During Paleolithic times, man primarily subsisted by hunting. The preferred food was large game animals, and Paleolithic man, a skilled hunter, wiped most of them out. And not just the large grazing animals. Paleolithic man completely decimated the Cave bear. As you can see from the photo of my Cave bear skull below (from a slide I use in presentations), these were enormous animals that didn’t go down easily. Cave bear, like all bears, had high levels of body fat, which must have been highly desired because these ferocious animals were hunted to extinction about 15,000 years ago by people wielding little more than pointed sticks."
There is a real dichotomy among paleos where fat is concerned. Cordain and Wolf recommend keeping dietary fat around ancestral limits, that is between 10 and 15 percent of total energy. This is the paper that both Cordain and Wolf point to on their respective sites.
Others here feel that healthy saturated fats can pretty much be consumed without limit. And yes, wild game is very lean. Even a fall-fattened deer is one very lean animal. So paleolithic people were not eating all the fat they wanted, or craved. That quantity of fat just was not available to them. We modern people, however, can enjoy unlimited quantities of butter, cream, ghee, coconut oil, and anything else we want, without limit. We can even tailor our dietary fatty acid profiles to suit our preferences, which would be industrial food by definition. This is what Harris calls "duplicating what I believe are the key elements of the internal hormonal metabolic milieu..." This access to unlimited fat is clearly divergent from the actual paleolithic diet, so a high-fat paleo diet is an oxymoron (but it might be healthy). You just have to decide for yourself which seems right to you.
As far as the occasional mocking goes, I've seen it myself and I don't get it. Honest discussion should not degenerate into mocking.
I think "lean meat" is a Conventional Wisdom/Standard American Diet buzzphrase like "artery clogging saturated fat" (nearly 13,000 Google hits for that one). It's just what people say nowadays, without really thinking about it, knowing the truth or, in the case of lean meat, the complexities of grass-fed vs. factory farmed, Omega-3 vs. Omega-6, etc. Since we're trying to get away from convential wisdom, I think some paleo folks just find the parroted phrase irritating, Cordain notwithstanding.
We can only guess what amount of fat our paleo ancestors ate. I think too much fat is less dangerous than too little fat. And I think humans naturally crave fat and have always targeted the fattiest animals. What kind of fish tastes best? The fattiest kind. WHich part of the animal tastes best? The fatty parts! IMO, when things are in balance and no artificial foods are present, then we are naturally drawn to that which is healthy. YOu will eat a certain amount of fat, but then suddenly, you are full! You don't want any more. Fat causes natural satiation once you have had the right amount for you.
Lets look at macronutrients. We typically avoid a lot of sugar and carbs due to blood sugar issues as well as a tendency for most of them to be low in nutrients. WHen you get to protein, there is only so much of it that has any benefit. Beyond that, it does not help your body any and in fact can cause probs for the liver. So if you need calories, where are you going to get it? Fat of course. What else is left? Fat is what you eat to get both calories and nutrients. Your other choice is to eat a bunch of protein and risk rabbit sickness. Or eat carbs.
Personally, I do not worry about eating too much fat because I notice obviously that I eat some and then I feel totally full and do not want to eat another bite. My body knows when I have had enough. Unless I see good evidence that the amount of fat I eat is bad for me, then I will continue to trust my body to tell me how much is too much.
And that's Dr. Cordain's original assessment.
Personally, I think that we in the paleo community assume that most people have an intricate knowledge of fat. If this was the paleolithic time period, we wouldn't fear fat; that fat had a correct O6:O3 ratio. Today's fat is just a crap-load of O6.
Paleo is about lean meat, because eating the fat of factory farmed animals is not paleo.
I agree with you that animals in the paleolithic had much leaner body than today. My personal choice, so far is a moderate-fat paleo diet. Most of all I do no think there is such thing as an "optimal ratio" of fat to carbs, I believe that if you cover your basic needs with sound food, excluding all those processed food that we reject you could have a large variation, and still be quite healthy. In fact different hunter gatherer tribes used to have quiet varied diets, and most of them had excellent health.
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