I was severely affected by the Metabolic Syndrome for 40 years.
I found a way to cure my metabolic syndrome with diet.
It could work for you too. Here's what I did:
Eat moderate protein and a lot of fat.
Don't eat starchy foods like grains, potatoes, and legumes.
Pick an 8 hour or shorter period of time every day to do all your eating.
I've maintained my goal weight since August 2016, you could get there too.
Please join my Facebook Group "Zero Carb Doc"
A great place to discuss any topic related to health and fitness in a scientific and reasoned manner.
We Were Born to Eat Meat
Paul A. Mabry MD
Please address questions or comments to the following email:
Required Disclaimer: Please consult your own doctor before implementing any dietary recommendations I have made. You may have a medical condition that would be adversely affected or your medications might need to be adjusted. I am retired from medical practice and no longer give individual medical advice but only comment on medical topics in general.
Despite medical school, internship and residency training in family medicine, I felt helpless for most of my 26 years of medical practice as I saw’ my patients gain weight, then develop high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease and complain that they just “didn’t seem to have any energy”. Equally distressing was that the same thing was happening to me. About 4 years ago somewhat out of desperation I tried a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat, traditional Atkins diet. I quickly lost 30 lbs and felt great. This led me to take a second look at the latest scientific information available on the subject. It became clear to me that the the standard American diet which is so high in carbohydrates and low in fat was the major cause of the problems I and my patients had been having. lReading books like “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes and “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz opened my eyes to the fact that the dietary advice promoted by the medical establishment that I had passed along to my patients was in no way supported by the available science and had been significantly influenced by contributions from the sugar/processed food manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industries.
On April 10, 2015 I read about a family that had eaten nothing but meat for 18 years and were quite healthy. After further reading on the internet it became clear that quite a number of people were eating this way all around the world with great success. Through videos like Dr. Barry Grove’s wonderful lecture called “Homo carnivoris”, and another great lecture by Dr. Michael Eades “Paleopathology and the Origins of the Paleo Diet”. I came to realize that 2 1/2 million years ago our evolutionary ancestors had formed a separate branch from the fruit eating apes and with each evolutionary step had developed bigger brains and smaller guts so nothing but fat rich meat in that small gut could have allowed them to maintain such a large brain. This same material is presented in a more visually appealing format in the movie “The Perfect Human Diet” where the moderator actually visits the laboratories of the scientists doing the research on Paleolithic diets to interview them.
I think the most important component of a healthy diet is that it avoid the 3 greatest enemies of great health in the diet of most modern humans in the world today – SUGAR, STARCHES AND GRAINS AND SEED OILS.
Public Health Enemy Number 1 is sugar. We’re just not designed to handle it. Our ancestors had a few mostly bitter seasonal fruits (we’ve now bred them to maximize sugar content) and some occasional honey. Table Sugar whose scientific name is sucrose is actually 2 sugar molecules stuck together. One molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. Once table sugar gets into our body the 2 sugars are quickly separated from one another. Fructose is far more toxic than glucose for several reasons. The first of which is that it is primarily metabolized in the liver through the same pathway as alcohol. When Fructose is eaten in the large quantities that we humans are now for the first time in 2 1/2 million years consuming, the liver is overwhelmed so it converts almost all the Fructose it processes into fat. It has a great deal of trouble getting rid of fat from this pathway and winds up storing a large proportion of it in liver cells. This leads to fatty liver and then inflamed liver. The same thing happens when people drink a lot of alcohol since it is processed through the same pathway. The end result of drinking too much alcohol for many is cirrhosis of the liver which is a doctor word for an inflamed liver full of fatty nodules which is the same thing we see in people who develop it from eating too much Fructose only doctors call it Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLP) when it’s mild and Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) when it’s severe. Liver damage from fat leads to resistance to insulin which sets you on the path to adult diabetes. Since the liver is where all of your Cholesterol is processed, packaged and shipped through the blood stream to all parts of your body, damage to this system from fatty liver leads to the production of “Small dense LDL Cholesterol Particles”. This is the kind of LDL particle that leads to heart attacks and strokes. People who eat a low carbohydrate diet like me also produce a lot of LDL Cholesterol but when it is analyzed in the lab these are usually the safe large fluffy type of LDL particles which are vital to our health and strengthen our immune system. These high LDL levels though often scare doctors who are not aware of the literature showing it’s the small dense particles that cause heart attacks. So if you consider going on a low carb diet don’t be surprised if your Total and LDL Cholesterol go up, it normal. I have a post with references about that here.
Another benefits of the low carb/low sugar diet is a dramatic reduction is dangerous triglycerides levels. This large study considered them a much better predictor of heart attack risk than LDL Cholesterol. A low carb diet also is the best way to raise your HDL Cholesterol (good Cholesterol) Level. Mine more than doubled. Here’s a a scientific study showing a low carbohydrate diet lowers triglycerides and raises HDL Cholesterol. So if you really want to avoid heart disease, go low carb/low sugar!
Sugar is also the root cause of Alzheimer’s. Many researchers are now calling Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 Diabetes”. Here’s an article that explains why. Sugar is implicated in all kinds of other diseases as well but rather than getting into that now I recommend you listen to leading voice today challenging the Sugar Industry propaganda that sugar “is just harmless energy like any other calorie,” Dr. Robert Lustig, who is a Pediatric Endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine at UCSF Medical School. Here’s what he has to say.
And of course the latest scandal is that in the 1960s the Sugar Industry paid researchers at Harvard to bias a study by emphasizing the weak link between saturated fat and and heart disease while ignoring the strong correlation between sugar and heart disease. This story has been reported by most large news outlets. Just google “sugar industry bribes scientists” and you’ll get several hundred articles on the “smoking gun” documentation they found and which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Here’s one article.
GRAINS AND STARCHES
Grains and starches include Wheat, corn, oats, rice, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes including beans (except green beans), peanuts, tapioca and bananas. So why do I list grains and starches as the second great nutritional enemy of good health? It’s true they rarely contain Fructose which is the big enemy. They are all quickly turned into the more benign sugar glucose which almost any cell in our body can burn for energy. The problem is that we didn’t evolve to eat starch except in times of famine. When we eat too many carbohydrates we have no good way to store them. Our bodies can store up to a maximum of around 2000 calories worth of glucose as the human starch glycogen in the liver, kidney and muscles. That’s enough to keep us going for about 24 hours sitting around or 3-4 hours of vigorous activity. If your body becomes “geared” (adapted) to primarily burn carbohydrates all the time because that’s the majority of what you are consuming, when your body does run out of glucose to burn and has to switch to burning it’s own fat for energy, it can’t burn fat nearly as efficiently as a person who rarely eats carbohydrates and whose mitochondria (the little organelles inside every cell in our body that burn carbs, glucose or ketones to produce energy for us) are tuned to burn fat preferentially. People who eat carbs all the time when they can’t get carbs experience weakness, fatigue and carbohydrate craving.
But the problem doesn’t stop there. If the amount of sugar (glucose) in all the blood in your body exceeds about 1 teaspoon your blood sugar will begin to rise above the recommended limit. Why doesn’t our body like to have high blood sugar levels and desperately tries to control the level to a range between 80-100 mg/dl? It’s because glucose is a highly toxic “oxidant” that can irreversibly stick to other chemicals that make up our bodies and particularly likes to stick to proteins which, after water makes up the bulk of our bodies. This is the same chemical process as water rusting iron. Proteins are often not able to do their job properly after they get a sugar molecule stuck on them. This process is called “Noenzymatic Glycation” . Eating just 2 slices of “healthy whole wheat bread” will typically spike the sugar level up to between 140-150 mg/dl about 90 minutes after consuming them. You can easily and inexpensively get a glucose meter and check this yourself, imagine what a “Pop Tart” does. People who are pre-diabetic or diabetic can easily spike 2-3 times this high. During the blood sugar spikes proteins are being ruined by sugar sticking to them all over the body. This is what causes a lot of the major consequences of diabetes like kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage resulting in lost limbs , Alzheimer’s and on and on.
Some people think that if they eat “slow releasing carbs” (low glycemic index carbs) and don’t eat a lot of Fructose containing foods they’ll be fine. The problem with that position is that when you eat too many carbs, more than you can burn off in a few hours, the excess that can’t be stored as glycogen will either be turned into fat or diverted into another metabolic pathway in the liver, kidneys and brain and other organs called “The Polyol Pathway”. In the Polyol Pathway up to 30 percent of those “healthy carbs” you ate get turned into “Public Health Enemy #1” – FRUCTOSE! And it turns out Fructose also causes rusting of proteins by glycation. Still worse Fructose has 8 times the binding affinity for proteins as glucose (much more corrosive). And even worse the Polyol Pathway can go on to convert much of the Fructose to another sugar Sorbitol which the body cannot break down or get out of cells like brain cells, eye lens cells and kidney cells and is thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s, diabetic kidney failure and cataracts.
And finally when a significant (>5%) amount of your daily energy intake comes in the form of carbohydrate, the body has a great deal of trouble regulating the blood sugar levels within the relatively safe 80-100 mg/dl range and often “over corrects” sending blood sugars plummeting. When this happens a person feels, shaky, weak, foggy, tired, hungry for carbohydrates and has difficulty concentrating. Our body’s control mechanisms for sugar then often overreacts spiking the sugar level too high leading to another emergency Insulin release leading to another crash a few hours later. I call this “The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster”. Doctors often call it “Reactive Hypoglycemia”.
Seed oils include: Soybean Oil, Canola Oil (Rapeseed Oil), Safflower Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Almond Oil, Walnut Oil, Flax Seed Oil and many others.
The following oils are not seed oils but oils from the fruity part of the plant: Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Olive Oil, Avacado Oil and Aloe Oil. These are much healthier than seed oils but in my opinion not as healthy as Animal fats like lard, tallow and bacon grease.
In 1903 Wilhelm Normann patented a process for mixing hydrogen with liquid oils to harden them. The first seed oil product for human consumption came out in 1911 and was called “Crisco”. It was made from cottonseed oil that had had Hydrogen bubbled through it (a process that also produces a lot of heart killing trans fats) and at first it was used to produce soap. Before this first seed oil product, the oil from cotton seeds was considered a waste product and often just thrown away. They had tried feeding it to hogs but they had lost weight and gotten sick.
Proctor&Gamble’s business manager came up with idea of selling it as a cheaper replacement for lard and tallow with no safety testing. He also had the brilliant idea of giving away free cookbooks in which every recipe called for Crisco. Since then seed oils have been very good to Proctor & Gamble and many other companies. It now estimated that Soybean oil accounts for 51% of the edible oil production worldwide.
The reason that seed oils are so bad for your health is that they are quite high in unhealthy Omega-6 fatty acids (the blue line in the chart) and low in the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids (the orange line in the chart) when compared to animal derived oils. Our bodies require both Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet because we are unable to make them for ourselves but in reality our requirement for either one is rather small. The problem with eating seed oils is that we get tons of Omega-6’s and very little of the Omega-3’s. True Canola and Flax seed oils have a fair amount of Omega-3 but all Omega-3’s are not equal. We can use Omega-3’s from animal sources unchanged. Omega-3’s from plants must be converted through an enzyme pathway to a usable form and it is estimated that only about 6% of the plant Omega-3 fatty acids we eat are able to be converted. Thus the plant sources only really contain about 6% of the amount of omega-3 they claim to contain in the chart and are not a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Inflammation is the biggest problem with the high Omega-6 levels in seed oils. Inflammation is an underlying cause of the following disease. Just click on the disease for information on why.
among many other conditions.
The chemicals our body produces to cause inflammation are produced through the COX arm of the Arachidonic Acid pathway. The anti-inflammatory medicines Aspirin, Motrin, Alleve and many others work by blocking the COX arm before they can be produced. The raw materials for the Arachidonic acid pathway that produces these inflammation producing chemicals are the Omega-6 fatty acids in which seed oils abound. So when you consume seed oil you fuel the flames of inflammation. That’s why I call seed oils “Arthritis Oil”. Bioavailable Omega-3 fatty acids are on the other hand anti-inflammatory through a number of mechanisms. They are found in much greater concentrations in animal products.
Soybean Oil which is a particularly nasty seed oil, is the most widely consumed oil in the United States. 100 grams of it contain 50,422 mg of Omega-6 and 6789 mg of Omega-3. This gives a ratio of 7.4:1 (Sad!). That same 100 grams of Soybean Oil contains 290 μg of N‐Nitrosodi-n-butylamine. This is a carcinogen and the recommended safe level is less than 0.06 μg/day. Thus 100 grams of Soybean oil contains 29 μg of this carcinogen, 283 times the level considered safe. Soybean oil is in an astonishing number of common products. Where is it? Almost all salad dressings, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ice cream, frozen dinners, and commercial baked goods. Just check the labels and get depressed.
Soybean oil is full of “phytoestrogens” (plant chemicals that react with receptors for the human female hormone estrogen in human bodies). Phytoestrogens bind readily to estrogen receptors and block the real estrogens from binding. They however generate only 1/100th of the estrogen stimulation of real estrogen. Thus if you eat a lot of soy and other plant estrogen containing foods and you are female you will be “less of a woman” for doing so because your own female hormone estrogen is blocked from stimulating your estrogen receptors. Estrogen regulates many bodily functions in both men and women so eating plant imitations is like throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery that controls your delicate hormonal balance.
We have replaced the stable tallow we used to use for frying in restaurants with unstable seed oils that when heated produce “Toxic Aldehydes” including one called ACROLEIN which was used as a Chemical Warfare agent by the Germans in World War I. Acrolein has been shown to weaken the heart. Our poor workers in restaurants around the country are exposed to these daily and again, no safety testing has been done.
Many seed oils contain a high percentage of an Omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid which is associated with weakening the immune system and exacerbating many auto-immune diseases. Melanomas are known to be kept in check by the immune system. Recently Former President Carter had his Stage 4 melanoma cured by immunotherapy when his hunter-killer white blood cells were exposed to his own melanoma in a petri dish then millions of them were cultured and transfused back into him. They then proceeded to completely eliminate his cancer. But he might not have gotten Melanoma in the first place if he hadn’t eaten so much seed oil. Linoleic acid has also been shown to decrease our bodies ability to make the melanin, the pigment in our skin that protects us against the suns ultraviolet rays and increases the rate at which protective tanned skin flakes off.
In general meat has a much lower ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. This ratio has been shown to be important. Our prehistoric ancestors ate a ratio near 1:1. One study showed that lowering the ratio to 4:1 could cut the risk of heart disease by 70%. So what you want to do is eat more Omega-3 fatty acids and less Omega-6. The best places to get healthy omega-3’s is fish or meat. For example 100 grams of Salmon contains 339 mg of Omega-6 and 3982 mg of Omega-3 for a ratio of 0.1:1 (AWESOME!). Beef is another good source. 100 grams of ribeye steak contains 510 mg of Omega-6 and 240 mg of Omega-3 for a ratio of 2:1 (YEAH!) As you can see from the Table Seed Oils are very high in unhealthy Omega-6’s and very low in Omega-3’s. The only rich plant source, Flax Seed Oil has a form of Omega-3 that our bodies cannot use and our bodies can only convert about 6% of this plant form into a usable form so Flax Seed Oil is not nearly as healthy as it looks. All Omega-3’s from animal sources are the kind we can use.
And finally seed oils can increase both your risk of dying and having a heart attack. In a controlled 7 year trial of replacing saturated fat with the seed oil, Safflower oil to try to prevent heart disease called “The Sydney Study” here’s what they found “In this cohort, substituting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease. An updated meta-analysis of linoleic acid intervention trials showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit.” Linoleic acid is the most common Omega-6 seed oil.
If you truly want good health, I strongly recommend you avoid seed oils.
CONTINUE SCROLLING TO SEE MY RECOMMENDATIONS ON HEALTHY EATING.
WHAT TO EAT?
It’s much easier to say what not to eat and that of course includes sugar, grains and starchy vegetables, as well as seed oils.
I personally believe that a diet consisting of purely animal products provides everything a human needs to be healthy. Humans have done this successfully for eons. Examples are the Inuits of Alaska and Greenland, the Maasai of Africa, the Siberian Meat People (The Nenets) and many Mongolian Plain dwellers. These are called “Natural Experiments” and have much more validity than the weakly positive observational studies that brought us the “Food Pyramid” and the “Low Fat Diet”, both of which failed miserably. Meat eaters almost never get the diseases which are rampant among Neolithic farmers like Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, and auto-immune diseases.
So I will first recommend the diet I follow which is called Zero Carb. There are currently around 10,000 people in the US who eat this way. The basics are:
- Eat only meat (which includes fish), eggs, cheese, and butter, all you want.
- Drink only water. No drinks which contain carbs. Other drinks like coffee and tea without sweetener are allowed but are considered “less than optimal” and long time Zero Carbers rarely use them.
- Take no supplements, vitamins or minerals.
- Adding salt to food is considered “less than optimal”.
- Spices like pepper, steak seasoning etc. are allowed in small amounts. Most veterans only use these when they have to eat in a restaurant.
The advantages are these:
- It’s simple to follow.
- It avoids all the bad foods I mentioned.
- It is especially helpful for anyone who has an addictive component in their relationship to sugar or starchy foods like pizza and spaghetti.
SO IF ZERO CARB SOUNDS TO EXTREME FOR YOU, THEN WHAT DO I RECOMMEND
You can choose a more traditional low carb diet Like Atkins or the European Version called LCHF. In both of these diets you can eat a diet similar in texture and taste to what you are eating now. This is achieved by making pizza’s out of Cauliflower, substituting spaghetti squash for spaghetti and making brownies out of mashed black beans and stevia. Most people will have excellent success losing weight on such a diet and I believe it is a hundred times better that continuing to eat sugar, grains and starchy vegetables. It can get tricky avoiding the seed oils. You’re going to be in that restaurant ordering a big salad and that nice dressing they bring you is going to be full of soybean oil. Mayonnaise is allowed on both diets. Our store has about 7 brands of mayonnaise including 2 “olive oil” mayonnaises. Both of the “olive oil” mayonnaises also list soybean oil as an additional ingredient, in one brand it is listed before olive oil. The other brands are all soybean oil based. Tuna is often packed in soybean oil. So if you’re going this route, watch out!
The other problem with going this route is you have to become a “food accountant”. If you go over 50 grams of carbohydrate a day they will not work well in terms of weight loss for most people. I was never able to get under around 215 lbs on these diets I suspect this is because I would subconsciously underestimate my carb intake. With Zero Carb it is much easier to avoid doing this. Still you will be much healthier if you go this route than if you continue to eat the evil 3 even if you don’t lose all the weight you might like.
WHAT IF YOU GO ZERO CARB OR LOW CARB AND THE WEIGHT WON’T COME OFF – LIKE ME
The younger you are and the less overweight you are the more likely you are to lose all the weight you would like on traditional Zero Carb or Traditional Atkins/LCHF. Some people who are older and heavier however may not lose all the weight they need to on these programs. I personally am not aware of any way to predict how people will respond and of course everyone has a different goal for their ultimate weight. My goal is to look like a Maasai Warrior.
To me they are the picture of health. The males are forbidden to eat plant based food by ancient tradition and their diet consists of mostly beef, dairy and occasionally cow blood. I was 62 when I started traditional Atkins and weighed around 250 lbs on my 6’1″ frame. After about 2 3/4 years I was able to get down to between 215-220 depending on how my carb accounting was working but couldn’t break through that level..
Here’s how I looked in 2014 at about 220 lbs. Definitely not a Maasai Warrior but considering where I came from I considered it a dramatic improvement. So if you are stuck above the weight you want to get to and don’t know why it may well be that you are metabolically damaged from years of sugar and carbohydrate abuse of your body as I definitely was from 62 years on a high sugar, high carb diet. .
I believe that there are 2 steps you can take beyond limiting the evil 3 and keeping carbs low and fat high. Those 2 steps are first limiting protein and second intermittent fasting. My secret to getting my metabolically damaged body to near Maasai Warrior shape was to employ both of them. I limit my protein to between 1.0 and 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of desired body weight and I eat just once a day and consume nothing but water between meals. Doing this I am down to below my high school weight (I was fat in High School) and currently weight 159 lbs and wear jeans with a 30 inch waist. I have the energy to play tennis including singles for 3 or 4 sets with no problem. I lift weights once ever 7-10 days for an hour using the “Body by Science” methold of Dr. Doug McGuff and have not been ill since I started eating a low carb diet. Here’s what I look like after about 10 months of protein restriction and intermittent fasting.
I so wish I had discovered the truth about diet when I was much younger and feel very bad for passing on so much bad dietary information during my medical career without thoroughly checking out the science behind it. I do this blogging in a belated attempt to somewhat make amends. I welcome questions and inquiries. You can contact me by email at BornToEatMeat@gmail.com Wishing your great health and happiness, Paul