First, the great story from a reader:
Hi Richard, this is J from Minneapolis, MN. I have been reading your blog for a while and I just would like to share some things as well as ask you a few questions. First of all, I have been reading your website, Arthur Devany's, and Mark Sisson's and with that have come up with a diet that works best for me. After giving up refined sugar, carbs for six months and a lot of dairy such as milk for around three months, my body fat percentage is plunged from well over 20% to just over 10 between 10-11%. I would say the biggest reasons for the drop in body fat were probably the drop of the milk and the organized intermittent fasts. I made almost all of my progress from the last three months based on those things. It has made a tremendous amount of difference in the way I look its almost hard to believe. I was a soft 6-1 close to 200 lbs. before I started eating unrefined and then dipped to something around 170 lbs. What I can say is that being on South Asian ancestry (family came from India), I observe that typically South Asians carry some of the poorest body composition of all races on Earth. It is largely due to what I like to call "meatophobia". They are pretty finnicky about which meat they eat and with little variety of protein their diet is almost all carbohydrate and little protein. Luckily for me, I ate a lot more meat and protein and did not encounter this problem, but what I can tell you is that I think the way to go to get leaner is what you say: fat. I have been reading Mark Sisson, Loren Cordain a bit, and Arthur Devany's sites and have realized that animal fats as well as unprocessed fats in general are very efficient in a diet for someone who wants to be lean. I favor your liberal approach to eating fat.
I typicallly eat grassfed beef, 85-90% lean (that's all the store I go to really has), omega 3 eggs, lean hamsteaks (not too much bc of salt), a lot of variety of fish (especially like cod), vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, brocolli, and asparagus, and a large variety of nuts (usually pecans, walnuts, almonds, and some macadamia).
What I have noticed is my general satisfaction comes from a meal that has usually a hamburger patty, a 3 egg omelette with a good amount of mushrooms, onions and bits of hamsteak, and a ton of nuts (I eat quite a few nuts).
I used to eat a ton of fruit, but I have mostly lost my taste for large amounts of fruits. I notice now that I crave crunchy foods in the form of fat such as nuts and some carbs in the form of onions, mushrooms. I also have a strong taste for buttery cod, eggs (wjth bits of ham), and hamburger meat.
Now to the question:
My question to you is this: What are your thoughts on fats from nuts? You rely almost entirely saturated fats from animal products which I do not disagree with. But I have a strong craving for nuts such as walnuts and pecans. Are fat from nuts good or bad in your opinion and does this impede leanness?
Well, first: this is wonderful news, J. I congratulate you on your wisdom. And, I know: you wouldn't return to the old ways for anything. It just isn't worth it. Isn't it just great to feel great? Me? I've been feeling like I'm in college, again, pulling out music CDs I haven't heard in 20 years. (Ironically, I felt a little "off" today for the first time in a long time.)
I suppose, thinking back, I've not blogged a lot about nuts. There's so many issues (raw vs. roasted; the salt; toxins; n-6, etc.). I think that some people stall their weight/fat loss by overdoing it with nuts and cheeses, as you can down one hell of a lot of calories in real short order. I'm a bit nocturnal, myself. I usually never eat a thing before 10-11 am or so, and then not again until dinner, which, sometimes is a dinner and graze session often lasting hours. And, the grazing was often nuts and cheese. So, I guess the short answer is they were fine for me. I didn't gorge on them every night, but when I did, it could be upwards of four handfuls — probably well over 1,000 kcals. Still, you've seen my steady progress and results in spite of it.
As mentioned, one issue is omega-6 fats. I have a whopper post on that soon. The short version is that if you are eating a lot of nuts, I'd make sure to balance the n-6 with n-3 through fish oil / cod liver oil. Personally, I take three 1-gram caps of salmon oil and two 1-gram caps of cod liver oil per day for an intake of five grams.
By coincidence, Dr Davis had a post on nuts just yesterday. I personally like roasted and lightly salted myself (but certainly not in any kind of "frankenoil"). I'm really big on pistachios, brazils, macadamia — well, just about everything. His suggestion to mix is good advice. Art De Vany has mentioned that roasting dispenses with some of the natural toxins (lectins, probably, but I've not looked into it extensively). And besides, they taste better.
Also, I was working up a post on recent "discoveries," one of which is what happened when I dropped my recently acquired raw whole unpasteurized milk habit. I got sidetracked and didn't get the post up, so I'll save that for tomorrow.
Thanks for writing, and again, congrats.