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11: Saturated Fat Is Good For You? | Dr. Jeff Volek

11: Saturated Fat Is Good For You? | Dr. Jeff Volek

AIR DATE: March 29, 2012 at 7PM ET
FEATURED TOPIC:“Saturated Fat Is Good For You?”


Researcher and associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut Dr. Jeff Volek is one of the world’s renowned experts in exercise, nutrition, weight loss and low-carb diets today. He is the author of a number of popular books addressing these subjects, including Men’s Health TNT Diet, co-author of The New Atkins For A New You with Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Eric Westman and most recently The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living in 2011 with Dr. Phinney. I interviewed Dr. Volek in Episode 236 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast and I’ve personally heard him lecture at various obesity conferences over the years. He will be joining us on The 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise in May 2012, but we were pleased to have him with us in this episode to discuss a subject he has studied thoroughly over the past few years. Saturated fat is arguably the most misunderstood and maligned real food in the history of mankind and Dr. Volek is THE expert who can answer any and all questions about how it impacts you metabolically. We were privileged to have him here addressing this very important topic!

Here’s an infographic that details the healthfulness of saturated fat:


NOTICE OF DISCLOSURE: http://cmp.ly/3

Here are some of the questions we addressed in this podcast:

Can we get too much saturated fat? Are there bad sources of saturated fat you would recommend avoiding?

Is saturated fat (from good sources) good for us or just not “bad” for us? So essentially, should we try to go out of our way to eat it like adding some extra grass-fed butter to a meal or opting for a fattier cut of grass-fed beef?

Are saturated fats benign in and of themselves or only in the context of a low-carb diet? There seem to be opinions on both sides.

I’ve been on a 50 net gram low carb diet for the last 8 weeks, heavy on eggs, meats, some dairy and some nuts, and green veggies. I’ve noticed many health improvements, including elimination of acid reflux, better sleep, less waking up at 2AM, no intestinal gas or candida symptoms, and lowered blood pressure of almost 10 points. In addition, I’ve noticed a LOT less hair in my shower drain and on my brush each day. Does eating more saturated fat (and no grains) lessen hair loss?

I was wondering if you could ask Dr. Volek the effect saturated fats have on Lp(a) as well as LDL particle size. I ask because some of the literature says that saturated fats have an Lp(a) lowering effect as well as increasing LDL size while other literature seems contradictory.

If somebody already has arterial plaque built up for years, would a high dietary saturated fat diet make things worse or better?

If saturated fat somehow gets rancid and we consume it without tasting the change, is this going to have any negative impact on our health?

If you consume a high-fat, low carb diet, why would the body convert excess protein to sugar? If the body is fueled by fat and doesn’t need sugar, then why would the body use excess protein to make glucose through gluconeogenesis? There has to be a reason for this, right?

It has been so ingrained in us that fat, especially saturated fat, is unhealthy for us to consume. But lately we’ve been hearing that consuming “healthy fats” are okay. What exactly are these “healthy fats” that the experts are telling us to consume and how can we convince others that saturated fat should be part of the “healthy fats” too?

A lot of toxins are fat soluble and people like Dr. Jack Kruse say that getting rid of the last few fat pounds on your body is rough on you because of all the toxins released. Why not the toxins that come from animal fat? Is there such a thing as “safe” saturated fat? As for me, old habits die hard and I still cut the fat on my beef and and the skin off the chicken.

What is your opinion on the validity of the various methods of testing LDL particle size and HDL which is directly impacted by the amount of saturated fat consumed? People like Chris Masterjohn say that this testing is not reliable enough because of the variability between testing methods. And yet such testing appears to be quite important. Do you have any specific recommendations for clinicians about this?

I work with engineers that are used to science being rigorous, reasonably accurate and self-correcting. When the idea comes up in conversation that the concept of saturated fat raising your cholesterol which leads to heart disease is bunk and a dangerous myth, my fellow engineers can’t accept that as a possibility. What’s a short explanation they could possibly accept? It’s as if someone said that the formula for leverage has been wrong all along and no one noticed. It’s hard for technical, science trained people to get their heads around!

Are there some people who should NOT eat saturated fat because of a genetic predisposition to hypercholesterolemia? How do you know if you fit into this category? What tests should they have? What diet is best for such an individual?

I’ve been on 30-40 grams of carbs daily for two years and lost 26 pounds. Recently though, within the last 4 months I’ve been gaining weight (about 7 pounds). I’m now focusing my attention to body fat percentage (about 14 ½ %) and waist measurements. I would like to have 10% body fat and reduce my waist size by at least 2 inches. I lift weights almost every day. Should I try to reduce my saturated fat and calories to reach my goal?

I’ve heard that saturated fat can lower T3 levels in Hashimoto’s disease, though I haven’t been able to find any good information on this. If it’s true, can you please explain this further?

It’s been said that too much saturated fat without balancing out other fats can cause an issue with the cell wall becoming too rigid. Is this something we should worry about? And if so, what complications could arise from this? Should we also consider the sub-type of saturated fat such as palmitic acid vs stearic acid? Or in the grand scheme of things is this focusing on the minutia?

I have an appointment next month with my cardiologist to do blood work and a stress test to address a possible blockage that was revealed in a heart scan. I had a nuclear stress test a few weeks ago and he said he saw a ‘slight anomaly’ he wanted to re-check. He put me on Metropoltar 25 mg twice daily, isosorb 15 mg daily, and 40 mg Lovastatin daily. I only agreed to the statin because of the cardiovascular disease diagnosis. He said he wanted to see my LDL below 70 but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I know that regardless of the outcome of the stress test/blood work we are going to have the saturated fat discussion. I currently eat butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and a little bacon fat in cooking. Also regularly eat avocados. I pretty much stay away from all the oils he’s probably going to recommend like canola, corn, vegetable, etc. I guess my question is that if/when this discussion comes up, is it better to just nod my head and say uh huh, or have an actual discussion with him on the subject? What would you recommend? I am 65 years old and had 2 stents put in back in 2004. I have been on a low-carb diet (off and on) for a long time and I have been grain/sugar/starch free for the past 8 months.

  • Jack

    Tremendous interview! I’ve listent to it three times now and I understand more and more. What really helped me was getting Dr. V’s book “The art and science of Carb living.” Reading the book helped a newbe like me understand some of the diffiuclt concepts like how eating sat fat is good for you, but if your body makes sat fat out of carb, it can be very dangerous.

    I highly recommend all of you to read this book! It can be a little on the science side, but it so well written and easy to understand. I just ordered Dr. V other two books as well. Looking forward to reading them as well.

    Thanks again Jimmy for such an education to not only a low carb life, but a better life.

    • lynn

      I bought it…you are right.