Not a Hero…
Not an Enemy?

The debates rage on,
with people caught in the middle.

For decades, academic studies researching dietary fat have produced wildly varying results — and, in kind, experts have recommended equally conflicting advice regarding fat.

Academia — and the internet, too — seem inundated with vehemently-opposed ideas regarding dietary fat.

On one side of the debate, certain fats are considered superfoods,
while other fats are considered poison.

Opponents will disagree, insisting the “safe” and “vilified” fats should be switched.

Given the chasm between all of the schools of thought, is there anything we can feel confident in, after decades of health research on dietary fat?

The fat in your diet can
positively & negatively
affect your:

  • metabolism
  • sleep
  • gut health
  • hormone production
  • liver
  • inflammation
  • joint health
  • libido
  • mood
  • and more…

What’s true is that each side has a point.

Therefore, the best results seem to manifest when we eschew the extremes, instead seeing the common, middle ground between the extremes.

Are you ready for something better than the contradictory advice about dietary fat?


Three Necessary Questions About Fat

Dietary fat is extremely necessary in the diet. There’s no debate to be had about that.

The debate, rather, concerns how to utilize dietary fat: How much? Which types?

How we utilize fat — to our advantage — will depend on three important questions:

1 — What types of fat are there?

  • Saturated fat
  • Mono-unsaturated fat (MUFA)
  • Poly-unsaturated fat (PUFA)

2 — What ratio between these types of fat?

  1. Mediterranean Diet
  2. 2010 American Guidelines
  3. A more modern approach

3 — How much total fat per day?

  • Low fat
  • Moderate fat
  • High Fat

Using these options, you can explore and identify appropriate fat intake — in a way that optimizes balance, reduces risk and improves how you feel.


What Types of Fat?

There are three main types of fat — and you need to know about all three.

Saturated — MUFA — PUFA


Saturated Fatty Acids

In most animal products and some tropical nuts.

  • Butter
  • Coconut oil / MCT oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Animal meat & lard
Heat Stability

Highly stable
when exposed to heat.


Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids

In plants from warmer, temperate climates.

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Canola oil
Heat Stability

Moderately stable
when exposed to heat.


Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids

In many plants — and cold-water fish.

  • Seed oils
  • Nut oils
  • Vegetable oils
  • Fish fat
  • INCLUDES: All omega-3 and omega-6
Heat Stability

when exposed to heat.

Image result for vegetable oil

The physical and functional properties of saturated fatty acids and PUFA are as different from each other as day is from night.

Ray Peat, PhD


What Ratio

For Each Type?

How much of each type?

saturated Fatty Acids


Consider eating…

moderate-to-large amounts

Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids


Consider eating…

moderate amounts

Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids


Consider eating…

smaller amounts*

…and from the right sources

A Balancd, Middle-Ground RATIO


Types of Fat

Why is this a good ratio?

It’s favors saturated.

Saturated fat is now known to be an important, healthy fat.

It has moderate MUFA.

Monounsaturated fats are healthy in medium amounts.

It includes lower PUFA.

PUFA intake should be somewhat limited, with some fresh omega-3 sources.

Important! It’s always okay to vary from this ratio if your body seems to respond to something different. This balanced ratio is an excellent place to begin.

The “Balanced” fat guidelines are similar to the

2010 American Dietary Guidelines

with two key differences:
  • A little more emphasis on saturated fat
  • A clear distinction between PUFA (less) and MUFA (more)
2010 American Dietary Guidelines Recommendation

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are slightly outdated, and unclear. They do not much differentiate between PUFA and Mono-, and essentially just say: “Reduce saturated fat and get more n-3.”

Again, pretty old, nonspecific — and perhaps unhelpful — advice.

Popular Alternative Ratios

(Omega Diet) (Mediterranean Diet)

This diet sometimes works well to counter-balance the modern diet, especially when obesity and poor cardiovascular health are factors.

Pro-Thyroid Diet

This diet sometimes help support thyroid function — because PUFA, especially, has some slowing effects on the thyroid.

However, much harm has been caused when people reduce PUFA intake too low. Keep balance in mind.

Two Thoughts to Keep in Mind…


Your dietary fat needs might be different from other people.

  • Some people will feel a little better with less saturated fat and more MUFA.
  • Some people need more or less fat, in total, than you.

If this is you — that’s okay.

Also, in severe hypothyroid-ism, moderate or high PUFA intake can suppress the metabolism — so you might need to restrict PUFA a little further.


The types of fat you need may change over time.

  • Most people will notice their needs change over time.
  • Trust your body, and test various fats to see how your body responds to each.


How Much Total Fat?

This section is on both the MACROS page and the FATS Page.

Here’s a major difference betwen fat and other foods: Fat digests 3-10x slower than most carbs — for over 8 hours after eating.

Carbohydrates are typically digested in 30 minutes to 2-3 hours, but fat continues to provide energy — and remains in the gut — long after the meal.

Another big difference for fat: Fat is much, much less fermentable in the gut. Meaning, microbes in the are much less likely to be interested in digesting it. In fact, dietary fat has a very, very mild antimicrobial effect on the gut microbiome. When carbs are poorly tolerated, sometimes fat is a great alternative.

GUIDELINE: Low Fat Intake

(15% Fat) — 35g fat/day

Low fat means about 15% of calories per day from fat.

While moderate or high fat intake could be necessary for you, it could be best to start with low fat — especially as you as you begin exploring your carb-to protein ratio.

For a 2000 calorie diet, that means roughly 35 grams of fat per day. If eating more than 2000 calories/day, more fat will be needed than 35 grams.

Low Fat (15% of diet)

2000 calories = 35g fat/day

2300 calories = 40g fat/day

2600 calories = 45g fat/day

3000 calories = 50g fat/day

*These are all ballpark numbers. There’s no need to be more precise than this.

Eating low-fat doesn’t have to be hard: Focus on lean meats and low-fat/skim dairy. Go very light on the oils and butter.

Problems to watch for:

Sometimes, if fat intake is too low it can cause insomnia, digestive troubles, irritability, and difficulty relaxing.

GUIDELINE: Moderate Fat Intake

(20-35% Fat) — 45g-75g fat/day

Now for the likely best solution: a moderate fat intake.

Eat foods with more fat — and then see how you feel.

Moderate fat intake is from 20% to 35% fat intake.

Low-Moderate Fat (20% of diet)

2000 calories = 45g fat/day

2300 calories = 51g fat/day

2600 calories = 57g fat/day

3000 calories = 65g fat/day

High-Moderate Fat (35% of diet)

2000 calories = 75g fat/day

2300 calories = 90g fat/day

2600 calories = 100g fat/day

3000 calories = 115g fat/day

*These are all ballpark numbers. There’s no need to be more precise than this.

It shouldn’t take long to get a clear picture of which style of eating makes you feel better — low fat or moderate fat.

If you feel great both ways, opt for a moderate-to-low dietary fat intake.

Your Individual Needs

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong approach to fat intake — there’s only what your body seems to respond best to, now.

And as we’ve said multiple times already, what you need now will probably change as your health improves.

Remember, the macros are all nutrients. What you need depends on your body, not what people on the internet (even some medical sources) claim is best for everyone.

Blanket medical advice is often based on what average people do — and therefore cannot accurately apply to everyone.

In fact, many of my biggest problems with my health came from believing there was one set of advice that — if we just identified and followed it — would result in optimal results.


Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are making a much-needed comeback in recent years.

Multiple health-fads have emphasized the importance of saturated fat.

Some researchers, like Ray Peat, PhD have been speaking out about beneficial saturated fat (along with the problems with PUFA) for decades, now. Peat’s emphasis is almost entirely on hypothyroidism — and how dietary fats impact the function of an already-sluggish thyroid.

By contrast, the Paleo & low-carb groups had a problem to solve: How to replace the calories lost from cutting carbs? Naturally, they gravitated toward the most calorie-dense food there is — fat — to replace their calories lost from cutting carbs. Here, they realized the necessity and benefits of saturated fat.

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