Distressingly Accurate Analysis Of Fats & Weight Gain

43 minute analysis of biochemistry and weight gain that just has that “Oh My God He’s Got It” nature. It is a bit heavy on biochemistry but so am I and I can say his statements about metabolic pathways and particular biochemistry reactions are correct. What bothers me is that I ought to have seen this too but stopped paying attention to biochem (much) about 1982. Woulda coulda shoulda…

Dump the Soybean Oil and Canola Oil. Fry that bacon and use the bacon grease to make your biscuits. Have that steak, but skip the soybean based dressing on the salad. Butter is your friend. (As is coconut oil and palm oil, btw.)

So not just “Put Down The Corn Flakes!” but also “Have mashed potatoes and butter and just walk away from the Canola Oil Fried French Fries!…

I hate to say it ( I really like my french fries and have a liter of Canola Oil in the pantry for baking) but based on all the biochem I know, I think he’s right.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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26 Responses to Distressingly Accurate Analysis Of Fats & Weight Gain

  1. Bill in Oz says:

    Yes E M, he’s spot on.
    I went through a similar moment of enlightenment in 2016-17 when I found my weight had increased to around 97 kg ( from 85 kg ) after spending 6 months in the Philippines mostly eating seed oil cooked foods..
    Eliminating canola and other seed oils, plus butter and good meaty protein got things back down again..
    But yes like you I have . a problem : I love my chips – not thin french fried; But thick chipped spuds fried in oil..Add salt & vinegar ! Yum ! But not good for me..

    Ahhh well : mashed spuds with butter, salt & pepper, taste great too.

  2. Terry Jay says:

    We are on a metered connection for the summer, so no video. But let me put in a plug for Gary Taubs and his books, Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It, and to Instapundit.com and Glenn Reynolds for referring to his work. I switched to a Paleo diet after reading Taubs on reference from Reynolds about 10 years ago. Net of all, I am down to almost my weight as a Junior in high school, and they did not test A1C last time around as Glucose was low enough. I say Paleo, but have bread on the Tuna sandwich for lunch and chips. She still likes Pasta, and potato salad (Yukon Gold) and macaroni salad. Oil is Olive or Avocado. She has a dairy issue, so butter is used by me, but avoided by her. Breakfast is sausage or bacon and two or three eggs. Biscuits and gravy once in a while, and fried potato maybe twice a week. Dinner is meat, a salad, and a fresh or frozen vegetable. Sweets and deserts are infrequent. Could I improve or optimize the diet? Yep, but at 6’3″, medium frame and 200lbs (197 to 203range), It seems to work as is.

  3. Power Grab says:

    I hear that potatoes fried in duck fat are glorious. I don’t have duck fat, but once time I had some chicken fat that I saved from stewing a chicken and letting it cool so the fat congealed on top. Those potatoes fried in chicken fat were the best potatoes ever!

    I read somewhere that McDonald’s originally fried their potatoes in beef tallow and coconut oil. Sometimes I use that to fry potatoes. When I slow-roast an arm roast that still has some fat around the outside, it accumulates enough drippings to be worth saving and re-using.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    Very very interesting – like you E.M. I have enough biochemistry to get the general building blocks and understand the mechanism.

    Bottom line –
    Just about everything they told us to do to eat healthy in the 1980’s was wrong. (cliff’s notes version)

    Going back to high fat hamburger. I recently was given some roast beef brisket by a friend as left overs it had lots of fat in it so I played with rendering the fat to beef tallow. Once you get the hang of it not hard just a bit time consuming to get it chopped fine enough to really render all the fat.

    I had it in the fridge it is getting added to my bacon drippings and lard I use for frying eggs.

  5. Another Ian says:

    Power Grab

    “I hear that potatoes fried in duck fat are glorious. I don’t have duck fat, but once time I had some chicken fat that I saved from stewing a chicken and letting it cool so the fat congealed on top. Those potatoes fried in chicken fat were the best potatoes ever!”

    Does this promote chicken fried steak to around top of the list?

  6. rhoda klapp says:

    We can buy duck fat or goose fat in the UK. But the best way to get it is roast the preferred bird. They are right about the spuds being best fried in it although for Bill in Oz’s thick chips it’s best to cook them in beef fat, or dripping as it’s known here. I’d love that diet info to be correct but I eat that way regardless and intend to carry on.

  7. H.R. says:

    Larry L: “Bottom line –
    Just about everything they told us to do to eat healthy in the 1980’s was wrong. (cliff’s notes version)”

    Lord save us from Government do-gooders.

    I was thinking about the typical family-farm diet, which is what I was raised on even though we were not on a farm. I’ve mentioned before that my grandfather was a sharecropper in Texas, so mom grew up with farm nutrition ways: grow and raise what you eat; can the rest; buy flour, corn meal, salt, sugar, and the odd spices.

    From the 1800s through the 19-teens of the 1900s, something like 90% of the population was engaged in farming. That started dropping through to the 1950s and 1960s where it was what, about 40%?

    Anyhow, the farm diet was much as we’re talking about. It was meat, dairy, veggies fresh in season and canned off-season, and there were carbs in the form of pies, bread, and egg noodles (yum!), but the farm work was still so much more laborious that the carbs didn’t matter that much.

    People died earlier not so much from diet as from the dangers of farm work and disease. Lot’s of farm fatalities or injuries severe enough to impact lifespan. Lot’s of children who never made it to adulthood. Otherwise, there were plenty of people that lived into their 80s and 90s if they escaped the mishaps of farm life, the industrial accidents the city dwellers faced, or disease.

    Then the government stepped in to ‘help’ and y’all know the rest of the story. Now we are dying from food-related illnesses. Once the Ship of State gets on a course, it is slow to change direction.

  8. cdquarles says:

    I may have more experience in biochemistry than anyone else here.

    First quibble, using BMI. That is a *horrible* index. It is weight (kg) / height (m)^2. NB, not % fat weight to body weight (the old standard). BMI can and does make body builders be ‘obese’. It will also make folk who have high bone density be ‘obese’. There are other problems with it that I won’t go into at this point, other than to remind folk that you can easily be misled by it.
    Second quibble, and I need to spend more time with this, is the effect of survivor bias. All those folk who would have died from food poisoning, or infectious disease, or trauma; now don’t.
    More later.

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes – BMI has limited usefulness – I had a guy that worked next door to me when I worked for the state. He was a Major in the 5th B 19th special forces (paratrooper type) played rugby – was NOT fat. But he was of stocky build and the new Army rules that went into effect in the mid 1980’s said he was over weight due to his skin pinch test and BMI. He had to get an immersion test to measure body fat to prove to the Army he should not be forced out due to being over weight.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    I despise BMI. It has one virtue: It is easy to calculate from a medical record without actually seeing a patient or doing anything to measure body fat. One division of height and weight.

    The downsides are horrific. Absolutely fit football players with near zero body fat are found obese while a genetically lanky couch potato with high body fat percent is “fine”.

    It is also racist. I’m a stumpy white guy with long body and short legs (more Neanderthal build). Bodies have more mass per unit height than do legs. I will NEVER be told my BMI is good unless I am near death in starvation. Compare to African build. Very long legs, short body. Natural runner of the plains. They will be told “no worries” even while eating themselves to death. This is good how?

    It would be better to just grab a roll of “love handle” and measure it.

  11. cdquarles says:

    That reminds me. A note on linoleic acid. Back in the late 70s/early 80s, there were studies made where the ‘essential’ fatty acids were brought to the fore (they’ve always been there). One of these is linoleic acid. My old biochemistry chart listed it in the arachidonic acid pathway. This fatty acid is involved in the acute phase (not exclusively) of immune system activation and inflammation. Likewise, so is cholesterol. Personally, I think we’ve gone too far in praising the polyunsaturated triglycerides over the saturated triglycerides. We’ve also gone too far in pushing ‘lean’ meat! That post referencing rabbit starvation was a good one.

    Briefly put; the poor statistical practices of the past combined with government pushing a fad has, indeed, resulted in the ‘obesity epidemic’, in part. So far, I’ve not seen anything that considers the survivor effect or bias (partly because the old studies didn’t, either). Beware the false dichotomy. Also remember that one man’s meat is another’s poison. The wide within group variability gets downplayed too much, in my opinion.

  12. Ossqss says:

    Having been a bachelor for nearly two weeks, while the family visits related’s, my can of overstuffed Chef Boyardee ravioli for lunch just isn’t as appealing after reading the food comments above. Oh the pain! ;-)

  13. cdquarles says:

    A point about superoxides and lysosomes/superoxide dismutase. These enzymes are involved in dealing with infections and are a part of the immune system. They ‘digest’ dead cells, either our own body’s ones or the infectious agent’s cells. They also trigger more inflammation! So, there is a bit of a feedback loop gain involved. For acute infections, you need this! When you don’t need this, well, you get various pathologies. One of the ways these occur is programmed cell death, aka apoptosis. Without apoptosis, multicellular organisms ‘can’t get off the ground’.

  14. cdquarles says:

    Ok, finished it. He referenced a poor study (and called it out!) and talked some about inflammation. He mostly nailed it. I would *not* avoid linoleic acid. I would try to limit the amount to what *my* body needs; not what some other person’s body needs.

    Now, what he didn’t mention, though others at this conference may have done; is the whole gamut of peptide hormones, of which insulin is one. There is a family of such named somatomedins. He didn’t mention survivor effect/bias, either.

  15. cdquarles says:

    Thinking some more, I am going to post this: https://wmbriggs.com/post/27459/. Interested people are free to read the source site. Bottom line? I see a variant of this applied to unsaturated fats. There is this tautology, too; since there will be people who are harmed by current exposure levels of vegetable oils, some not affected either negatively nor positively, and some who are positively affected. That, to me, is behind much of the faddishness of current medical advice; and why it fails so many. These studies are not strong enough, nor designed well enough (mostly due to way too small samples, poor controls and bad statistical practices), to tease out factors that may make a difference.

  16. Patrick healy says:

    Perhaps 15 Years ago I was fortunate enough to get a copy of Protein Power by Drs Michael and Mary Eades.
    I have not looked back since.
    I still carry my clubs playing 18 holes at our Open venue 2 or 3 times a week – all year.
    One of the things I find unbelievable that, like the Mann made global warming fraud, health institutions are still pushing the low fat high carbs diets.
    As mentioned in this must read book, that advice is probably responsible for more dead bodies than two world wars combined.
    As for the stupid bmi index as many on here are aware it is scientifically bunkum – just like global warming.
    A proper method is measure your middle in inches. Subtract your wrist circumference measure in inches and then check your weight in pounds on the chart provided by the doctors in their book – and hey presto! you get your body fat.
    I have no financial or other interest in the Eades, but a near and dear relation owes his life to following the life style outlined in the book, which I bought for him when he HAD severe type 2 diabetes.
    BTW cut out the spuds and bread Chiefo. Brown rice and couscous for me!

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @Patrick Healy:

    My general rule of thumb is to eat only the amount of carbs I’m burning up in a day. So I don’t go to zero bread and spuds, but if (when?) I start gaining, cut them back (binary division… first to 1/2 then to 1/4 then to…)

    My general pattern (up until this testing of the storage foods cycle) has been having a 6 to 8 hour window when I eat (about 10 AM to 6 PM, often noon or even 1 PM start) and breakfast has generally been a Frittata made with some non-carb vegetable and eggs. Lately my home grown 8 Ball squash (spherical zucchini) and green onions. Fried in 1/2 Olive Oil 1/2 butter. Lunch can vary from a “ham sandwich” to BBQ meat and not much else. Dinner I make for both of us, so it is more “traditional”. A protein (usually chicken, pork or lamb), a side vegetable, and a starch.

    HOWEVER, now that I’m growing nice lettuce and not dealing with a $2 bag of chopped dead stuff from the store… a side salad is often substituted for the starch. On occasion, the whole meal is a Chef’s Salad (bed of lettuce, bits of green onion, toppings based on what is in the fridge but usually chopped sandwich ham, sliced hard boiled egg, cheese sprinkle, canned tuna and olives. Sometimes avocado if in season and sometimes BBQ meats (cut in strips) if BBQ season and some survived from the prior lunch or dinner…

    I’d wager I eat about 1 slice of bread / day on average. One spud about every other day.

    I do have other starch sources sometimes. The occasional Tbs of “refried beans” in a quesadilla. Yams in a “Ham, Yams, and Green Beans” dinner (about once a month or two). A side of Baked Beans with some meals.

    I’d put the volume at about 4 units of meat for every 1 unit of starch. Seems to work well. Calories are probably biased toward the O.O. & Butter everything gets fried in or that gets drizzled on things (like vegetables) as a “sauce”.

    Even when doing high starch things (like the oatmeal breakfast I just had as noon approaches…) It was 1/2 cup of quick oats but with about 1 – 2 Tbs of butter in it. In terms of calories, it is mostly butter with some fiber to make digestion slow and a small amount of starch…

    Even at that, I’ll likely start showing a little weight gain (or stop the loss at a minimum) during this trial of “storage food diet”. Why not just store meat?

    a) It doesn’t store well unless jerky or canned.
    b) Jerky and caned meat are horrifically expensive.
    c) Even then, it is stored for a “year or two” while grains & beans store for decades.
    d) I’d rather eat that meat fresh and accept the potential for weight gain in an AwShit even when being a couch potato will most likely end and needing 2000 C of starch / day for work load will be important…

    Besides, I’m within about 10% of the same weight I’ve been at ( +/- 10%) since I was 18 so it isn’t like my metabolism is particularly sensitive to my particular diet… (AND I’ve done everything from 100% meat and non-starch diet to Vegetarian and all points in between with remarkable lack of any change at all…)

    I suspect that it was both sides of my family coming through several famines and worse that has selected for that kind of omnivorous character. Several generations of sailors at sea for months at a time (when Scurvy was common and diet was crap) on Mums side, Irish Potato Famine on Dad’s side. Plus some more… Sort of a Darwin’s Special ;-)

  18. Power Grab says:

    @ Another Ian re “Does this promote chicken fried steak to around top of the list?”

    Why not? But only if you use good, honest animal fat to fry it in.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, my family (when I was a kid) would save most of the fats rendered from cooking meats. I still save the bacon grease (YUM!) and often use all the chicken fat from some roast in making a rich soup. Never understood the idea of skimming the fats off of a soup or stew. That’s were the richness and flavor are.

    These days I don’t use all of it, but there’s always “enough” in the fridge for whatever is needed.

    The only frying in PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acid) rich seed oils I do is when I deep fat fry things (and that is modestly rare). Then I’ll put a pint to a quart of Canola or Safflower or similar in the Wok and use it for “Fish & Chips” or sometimes chicken & spuds. Then when cooled it goes in a jar in the fridge until some week+ later I want that fried stuff experience again… but after a few rounds of fried chicken, it is becoming as much chicken fat as PUFA oil. It will start to solidify when in the fridge.

    FWIW, Coconut Oil foams too much for this use, or I’d use it. Olive Oil doesn’t have a neutral flavor, and all the commercial lard has “with hydrogenated lard” on the label… and I don’t do hydrogenated…. So still looking for a good solution there.

    Maybe I need to visit Whole Foods and see if they have pure lard. So far it has been like trying to find Kosher or Vegan lard ;-)

    Oh Well… I just figure the infrequency of use makes it not too bad a risk.

  20. Power Grab says:

    @ EM:

    I used to know a Hispanic guy whose 80-90 year old mom still rendered her own lard. The only health issue he mentioned for her was cataracts, which are supposed to be easy to fix these days. His family came from the extreme southern end of Texas.

  21. H.R. says:

    @Power Grab – I had cataract surgery 7-8 years ago. I had clear cataracts. Never heard of those as I was only familiar with the dark gray opaque type.

    Clear cataracts produce some *ahem* interesting effects primarily changing the angle of refraction. The most noticeable thing to me was all the wrong numbers I hit with a touchtone phone. For example, I’d be dialing a 2 and would hit the 5 below it. For 10-digit numbers, I was probably only get 7 or 8 of them right. Before I found out about the clear cataracts, you would not believe how many wrong numbers I called.

    Anyhow, cataract surgery is no big deal other than cost, if your insurance is weak on that coverage.

  22. tom0mason says:

    Thanks EM, very good video and information.
    Butter, lard, beef fat, coconut oil, for special occasions there’s duck fat, and Olive oil is all I have. I used to use more vegetable oils and spreads but found they all made my arthritic pains worse. None of the those on my list affect me.
    Here’s a reasonable way to make lard with a slow cooker.
    Some of the comments are informative too!

    Personally I prefer to use a very large pot of chopped pork fat (the butcher usually supplies pork belly fat) on a very low hob setting. Once jarred up and sealed it keeps well without refrigeration. I just keep it in a cool dark cupboard.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, I’ve made my own lard once. It wasn’t all that hard to do, but the biggest problem was just getting starting material. Not a lot of call for it in Silicon Valley…

    IIRC, at one time about 8? we made lard at home. Don’t remember the reason why. For some reason Dad had come to have possession of a large bunch of pig fat, and we made lard. His Mom was Amish, so I’m sure he grew up doing it, as they raised a lot of corn and hogs on the farm…

    The “problem” I have is that there are just sooo many thing that are becoming “DIY” since the Corporate / Approved / Government / Whatever channels and sources have become so broken; that it is just turning into a LOT of time and work to keep up on all of them. Something has to give…

    Oh Well… it is what it is. If I have to make my own, I can.

  24. Patrick healy says:

    Em thank you my goodness you are one busy guy!
    Wonderful recipes there. What is the address of that great restaurant you run? When can we book a table?
    Btw I love a really good merlot at room temperature please.

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