October 24, 2020
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutrition-podcasts/ros-theory-of-obesity/
[00:01:21] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:07] Guest Introduction
[00:07:45] Brad's Background in Molecular Biology and Cooking
[00:18:37] The Production ROS and The ROS Theory of Obesity
[00:34:06] Unsaturated Fats Vs Saturated Fats in Connection to ROS Production and Satiety
[00:41:43] Podcast Sponsors
[00:44:38] What This All Has to Do with Croissants
[00:58:22] The Croissant Diet
[01:03:37] Endotoxemia With A Diet High in Saturated Fats
[01:09:20] The Wine Diet
[01:17:43] Final Comments
[01:21:14] Closing the Podcast
[01:22:23] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Brad: A question that I'd had my whole life was, if I'm fat, then why am I hungry? I clearly don't need the calories, right? And so, the more I read “Hyperlipid” and thought about the post-meal cycle of how does one remain satiated, what causes satiation, how does the system all work together, I started to realize that ROS production and the mitochondria of fat cells can sort of solve the cognitive dissonance.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Welcome to the show, you guys. Brad Marshall, this guy's crazy. He's the croissant diet guy. He's the wine diet guy. Yes. Croissants and wine, and we talk about the croissant diet and the wine diet in today's episode. If that sounds gimmicky, don't worry. We actually dig deep into science that's going to help you, whether or not you want to eat croissants all day long like Brad did to lose a bunch of weight, or drink wine all day long to satiate the appetite. Weird stuff, but we get into the science of it on today's episode. It's a doozy as they say.
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Well, folks, if you've been listening to this podcast for any period of time, then you may have heard me talk about my friend Ron Penna before, formerly of Quest Nutrition. He is also a guy who appears in my book “Boundless,” and he's a real, real fun dude for me to bounce ideas, particularly in the realm of nutrition, and particularly things like low-carb and keto off of. And he emailed me a few weeks ago and he said, “You got to meet this guy, Brad, Brad Marshall.” And he told me that this Brad guy was super crazy, just as crazy as another recent podcast guest of mine Joel Greene, who I think Ron also introduced me to. And he said that Brad had this fascinating take on something called the “Reactive Oxygen Species Theory of Obesity,” and I was like, “Oh, boy. Alright, this sounds like I'm going to have to go read a bunch of PubMed research to dig into whether or not I actually want to interview this guy.
And so, I actually went and read an article that he wrote called the “ROS Theory of Obesity.” And we'll actually get into that a little bit today. But even more intriguing, I found out that he has been working on something called a croissant diet, literally eating croissants to get lean, which sounds super wrong and super off, and we're going to get into that today by his croissant diet. And furthermore, he also is now researching something called the “wine diet.” And I told my wife I was going to interview this dude who has a croissant diet and a wine diet and she's like, “I love this guy. Can we have him over for dinner?” So, my wife at least is on board with what you do, Brad.
But anyways, for those of you who's listening in, Brad's going to fill you in on his history because he actually has a really fascinating history, and he even has a meat company now that's designed to get you the type of fatty acids that we're going to talk about in today's show. He has a genetics degree from Cornell, and he also has a certificate from the French Culinary Institute. So, the cat knows how to cook. He studied cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and he's worked as a programmer for the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project. And then, he spent the last 15 years raising rotationally grazed, pastured pork on his farm in Upstate New York, or running a butcher shop and a restaurant. And so, he's a pretty intriguing dude.
I got to tell you, Brad, that you're going to be super proud of me because I get pretty immersed in the podcast that I do. So, for breakfast this morning, I had a giant plate of pork lard because I actually cooked up a pork loin chop for some guests that I had last night. So, I saved all that lovely, lovely pork rind off the outside and just gave that a light smoke last night, and then just had a giant plate of salted pork lard this morning for breakfast because I knew we'd be talking about stearic acid and all that jazz. So, dude, I am literally standing here talking to you at my desk with a belly full of pork lard and I feel pretty good.
Brad: I love it.
Ben: And so, of course, that begs the question though, what did you have for breakfast this morning?
Brad: I had black coffee. I've been doing this new diet, incorporating lots of very long-chain saturated fat, alternating with periods of fasting. But for me, the fasting always typically involves either black coffee or red wine. Those are my go-tos.
Ben: Red wine for breakfast, or do you–well, maybe–
Brad: Not for breakfast, no, no, no. It's a time-restricted red wine window. That starts like post 6:00 p.m.
Ben: Okay. Alright. Well, we'll get into the wine diet later on, I think. But I want to hear about your background, dude, because that sounds very intriguing. So, fill us in on how you got into all this in the first place.
Brad: Right. So, okay. So, I'm a molecular biologist by training. I have a molecular biology degree from Cornell. I did a lot of lab work, as you mentioned, in a drosophila fruit fly lab at Cornell and later at Memorial Sloan Kettering. And I also like computer science. I found myself working at the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project as a programmer later. So, I have a technical background, but my true love is food and cooking. And so, right after Cornell, while I was at Memorial Sloan Kettering, that's when I went to the French Culinary Institute, which is in Manhattan, down on Broadway. And so, that was like an intensive 10-hour week training. It went on for like 13 weeks and I learned all of basically the traditional French technique, and that's where I was introduced to a lot of the ideas behind French cuisine and what they eat and how they eat, and it was interesting.
I grew up in Upstate New York. In rural Upstate New York, we didn't really have strong food traditions. And what I really wanted to go to school for was Mexican cuisine, but that at least at the time was not a thing that I could go for. There was only a French technique. So, that's what I did. And anyway, so over time, I became more enamored with ideas of agriculture and local food, and how best to raise it, and the idea of pastured meats. So, I've struggled with my weight my whole life and a lot of people in my family have. It's been a constant in my life. And so, probably by the early 2000s, I was doing the Atkins diet to lose weight, which was the thing at the time. No one was calling it keto yet. And that was very successful for me in my early 20s. I lost weight.
Anyway, I was in New York and I was going to farmers' markets all the time, and then I was in San Francisco going to farmers' markets and thinking about food, and thinking about really high-quality meats because I was a low-carb guy and that was kind of my interest. And ultimately, well, at that point, my girlfriend Heather and I started the farm in Shermansburg, and I left the tech world entirely, and I left the science world entirely, and just started doing things on the farm. And I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with the farm, but I bought three little piglets. I mean, I just fell in love with the things. They're great.
Ben: Yeah. As you do. You have a farm, you don't know what to do, so you buy pigs. I maybe would have gone for chickens or goats, but pigs work, too.
Brad: Well, we had chicken. I bought chickens. I planted apple trees. I was thinking about making hard cider. We got some cows. I was even milking one of the cows. I kind of tried all of the things, but out of everything that I did, the thing that I loved, the thing that I was good at were the pigs. And actually, when I was still in San Francisco, one day, Heather said, “Oh, that's funny. Someone is selling a whole pig on Craigslist.” This was back in the days when Craigslist was only in the bay area in San Francisco. And I kind of laughed it off, and then a couple days later, I was like, “I should go back and look.” And indeed, it was still there. I called them up and they still had the pig. So, I bought a whole pig and I spent weeks cutting it up and curing it. I did dry cured bacons and I did dry-cured like a prosciutto, and the neighbors thought I was running a meth lab because I built this tent out of tarps and picnic tables in the backyard where I was smoking it for days.
Ben: You're making me hungry again, man. I just finished breakfast and you're making me hungry.
Brad: I made pate. I made a couple different kinds of pate and sausages. So, the pig pulls together my love of cooking, and culinary arts, and farming, and the connection to the land. And pigs turned out to be very interesting because they really are what they eat. I knew that, but the next part of the story, so then for the last 15 years, I was raising pigs, we rotationally managed them on pastures. I'm not sure if anyone has ever rotated pigs on pasture as aggressively as we were. We were literally moving them onto a fresh slice of pasture every day.
Ben: And I'm assuming at this point, you were beyond the three little piglets, or was it just the three pigs?
Brad: We were beyond the three little piglets, yeah. At the end, I think the last year, I finished 700 hogs on pastures.
Ben: Oh my gosh.
Brad: So, it definitely grew a lot, right? But the cool vantage that I had was that since I had the farm and the butcher shop, I could see what I fed the pigs, how that affected the meat quality. And so, I could see, “Oh, if I feed them corn, they have soft fat. If I feed them barley, they have firmer fat.” And I knew that because I like to research and read old things. And so, there's all these great agricultural texts from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was pretty common knowledge back then that in European markets, American pork fetched a low price, and it fetched a low price because the fat was soft, because all of the American pork was finished on corn, and the European pork was all finished on barley, and corn has more polyunsaturated fat than barley does. And it turns out that the linoleic acid actually bioaccumulates in the meat. And so, a corn-finished pig, the fat is much softer than a barley-finished pig. And so, at first, I was feeding them corn, and then I switched to barley, and the difference in the fat quality is very noticeable. All of a sudden, you have a firm fat that's almost like the fat on the back of a steak. It's got that–
Ben: Just by switching from corn to barley for their feed?
Brad: Right. Because corn is about 5% to 6% oil and barley is about 2% to 3% oil. Interestingly, the only macromolecule that you can feed a pig, and it actually changes how the final organism is built, are the polyunsaturated fats, because if I feed it more protein, it's going to turn the protein, it's going to either burn it as energy, or it's going to store it as saturated fat. Or if I feed it more starch, it's going to burn as energy, or it's going to store it as saturated fat. You know what I mean? But the polyunsaturated fats, they actually accumulate in the animal.
Ben: Which is an important point that you make because the glucose will not accumulate in the animal obviously aside from relatively non-appreciable amounts of liver and muscle glycogen that you may get a little of when you eat. And then, the saturated fats, those are not going to accumulate because those are simply used for cell membranes, for cholesterols, et cetera. But the polyunsaturates, those, if you're consuming the meat of an animal, are what you're going to be consuming, and the length or the nature of those polyunsaturates or the monounsaturates, depending on what that animal has been fed, are also what you're going to get exposed to.
Brad: Exactly. And so, anyway, I have gone far afield. The initial question was my background, but this is an important step in the process is sort of seeing this process happening and learning it, and seeing how what you eat actually affects your body composition. And humans of course are no different than pigs in that regard. And so, I was very busy for the past 15 years. Like I say, I had come from a low-carb background, but I was just overwhelmed with everything that I was doing and I'd let my diet go to the wayside. And I realized I had gained a lot of weight and I wasn't eating very carefully. And I woke up January 1st, 2019 and I stepped on the scale, and I was basically 60-pounds overweight, and I said, “Well, that's not great. I should do something about this.” And so, I went back to a ketogenic diet, and what I found is that I couldn't lose weight as easily as a 43-year-old as I could as a 28-year-old, which probably doesn't really shock anyone.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, those are the two things that happen as you age. It gets harder to lose weight and the copious amounts of beer that you were accustomed to drinking in college no longer seem to metabolize quite as well as they did. Somehow magically, everybody turns into a, pardon the expression, a red-faced Asian businessman by the time you're 40 in terms of your response to alcohol. So, yes, you gain weight faster and you don't handle your beer as well, right? That's the two markers of aging.
Brad: Right, exactly. And so, anyway, I did what anyone would do at this point. When the weight wasn't coming off easily, I started re-reading the blog “Hyperlipid.”
Ben: That's Peter–what's his last name, Peter, the “Hyperlipid”?
Brad: Dobromylskyj. I can't pronounce it.
Ben: By the way, for those of you listening in, I'm going to link to Brad's website and I'll link to Peter's website and everything we talk about if you guys go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/croissantdiet. If you don't know how to spell croissant, I'm sorry, but it's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/croissantdiet if you want the shownotes for today's show. Okay. So, Brad, you started digging into what Peter at “Hyperlipid” had been working on.
Brad: Right. And so, essentially, what Peter, he has this thread he calls the protons thread on his blog, and that's where the reactive oxygen species start to come in. And I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I've crystallized this into some things that you don't actually have to understand, like the structure of the mitochondria to understand why this is important.
And so, to put it succinctly, long-chain saturated fats, when those are being burned in your mitochondria, result in the production of these things called reactive oxygen species. And at this point, we don't even need to know what they are, but okay, so why do mitochondria do this and what does it mean. Well, I believe that the production of these ROS in the mitochondria is a signal to the organism or to the cell in which the mitochondria lives that the mitochondria is presently burning fat. This signal has been preserved for about a billion years' time at least because there's a paper in the “ROS Theory of Obesity” that shows that even C. elegans, which is a tiny nematode that lives in the soil, the same mechanism is at play. And so, your biology is going to make a bunch of different choices if it thinks it's burning fat rather than glucose for fuel.
Ben: Right, right. And I'm going to stop you right there where you're talking about what the body's going to do if it senses that's burning fat versus if it's burning glucose as fuel because I know that's going to really lead into the evolution of this croissant diet. But just one thing I want to clarify for folks listening in, who may still be under the impression that ROS, reactive oxygen species, are these bad aging molecules. That's generally how they're painted even in popular exercise science literature. But every microbe, just so you guys know, every microbe actually monitors its intracellular concentration, a reactive oxygen species. And there's something called the redox sensor that does that.
Now, the redox sensor responds to different signals from the reactive oxygen species that are traveling around the body, senses those, and then makes adjustments based on how much oxidative stress the body is under, what kind of fuel, as Brad was just alluding to, sugar versus fat, the body is burning, and can do things like enhance cellular repair or shift the body into one state or another state metabolically based on the signaling molecules that these reactive oxygen species are functioning as. So, understand that these are like chemical messengers in your body. And as you listen to today's show, understand that when we say something like reactive oxygen species, we're not talking about this horribly bad thing that you got to go eat a bunch of kale and blueberries to get rid of, which is I think largely the way people think about ROSs these days.
Brad: Yes. And so, to follow up on what you said there, what your body is really trying to achieve is a state of redox balance, right?
Ben: Right. Homeostasis.
Brad: Right. Exactly. Homeostasis. And so, your body wants to be somewhere in the middle. So, your body has a whole inbuilt antioxidant system. If we weren't able to ramp up all these antioxidants, we'd have a real hard time living in an oxygenated environment because oxygen is in fact quite corrosive, as you can see by things like rust and fire. It's sort of a dangerous thing to live in the presence of, quite frankly. So, we have this whole built-in antioxidant system. And what happens is if our cells produce more ROS, then our cells make more antioxidants. And if we consume a lot of external antioxidants, then our cells make less antioxidants, because our cells are not trying to eliminate antioxidants, they're trying to stay balanced between–because there's something called oxidative stress. But the flipside of that, the opposite end of the coin is reductive stress, which is equally dangerous. Too much antioxidants is a bad thing, I would argue.
Ben: Right. Which has been demonstrated in literature such as inhibition of mitochondrial proliferation or satellite cell response after you exercise would be a function of excessively shutting down oxidative stress with high intake of, say, synthetic vitamin C or synthetic vitamin E. That's a perfect example of where reducing reactive oxygen species excessively can lead to actual limitation of normal homeostatic responses to exercise.
Brad: Right. Exactly. And furthermore, one of the tricks that cancer cells play is they will accumulate antioxidants, especially glutathione, but other antioxidants as well. And what happens is the immune cells try to kill the cancer cells with essentially bursts of reactive oxygen species. But the cancer cells will literally build up these huge pools of antioxidants to prevent themselves from being killed by the immune system. So, this kind of redox balance things are happening all over the body all the time in all kinds of different ways. And so, yes, I don't think that reactive oxygen species are bad. I think they are a fundamental signaling molecule and the body uses them in defense. That's how it kills pathogens that come in by blasting them with these reactive oxygen species. And so, right, ROS is a very dynamic system, and it comes in all kinds of ways.
Ben: And so, when we are consuming a food source that contains an appreciable amount of these long-chain saturated fats such as we would find in, for example, like a marbley beef fat or cocoa butter, or dairy fat would be another perfect example, or from what I understand, pork lard, like the rind of the pork that I had this morning cut off the end of the pork loin we had for dinner last night. I am exposing my body to a high amount of these long-chain saturated fats and inducing a release of reactive oxygen species that is picked up by the redox sensors as a signal that my body should be burning fats not sugar as a fuel.
Brad: Exactly. That's exactly right. And so, ultimately, what happens is–so after a meal, you produce insulin, right? And this is true whether or not it's a low-carb meal. Proportionally, most meals containing carbohydrates are going to have a higher insulin response. But you still are going to produce insulin when you eat a steak. And so, after a meal, the body's producing insulin. And what happens is if your cells, especially your fat cells, your adipocytes, or adipocytes as I like to call them, are burning saturated fat. And if they're relatively full, if the energy levels in the cell are already high, they're going to be producing a lot of reactive oxygen species. And what that means is those fat cells are going to be less likely to listen to insulin. And what insulin is telling the fat cells to do–so one of the primary roles of fat cells is to do something called lipolysis, which is to say that the fat cell itself, it's got all the fat stored. And lipolysis is the process by which the fat cells release fat to the rest of the body.
Ben: Right. You're lysing lipids, lipolysis.
Brad: Exactly. And so, insulin tells your fat cells, “Stop doing that.” And so, if your body is extraordinarily responsive to insulin, what happens is your fat cells stop releasing fat to the rest of the body. And so, therefore, someone whose adipocytes are responding very strongly to insulin if you eat a, let's say you eat a starchy meal, what happens is now you have less, what are called free fatty acids, which is basically the energy supply of fat that's available in your blood to the cells. And so, you eat a starchy meal, your blood glucose goes up initially, but your free fatty acids go way down.
Brad: And if your fat cells are really listening to insulin, it takes a very long time for the levels of free fatty acids in your blood to rebound. In the meantime, your blood glucose is now dropping two or three hours after the meal. And that's when two or three hours after a meal, you feel intensely hungry because now, your blood sugar has come back down to baseline and your free fatty acids are way below the pre-meal levels. So, even though you've consumed calories three hours after the meal, you're hungrier than you were potentially before the meal because there's actually less fuel for the cells because they're looking to the cell. When a cell is hungry, it's like it wants to either take in blood glucose or free fatty acids, or ketones, or other things. But you potentially have the situation after meal where both free fatty acids and glucose are low, and that is going to lead to hunger.
Conversely, if those cells are not listening to insulin so strongly, what's going to happen is when you eat the starchy meal, the free fatty acids are not going to drop as much after the meal and they're going to rebound quicker. And so, by the time the blood glucose is gone, the free fatty acids have already rebound. So, from the perspective of your cells, there's still plenty of energy available to them. And so, that's all determined by how responsive to insulin your fat cells are. So, there's a really good paper that I talk about in the “ROS Theory of Obesity.” It's one of my favorite ones in this series. It was done in Spain and they gave people three or four different test meals. And basically, one of them got butter, and the other one I believe got olive oil, and the other group got some mixture of vegetable oil and fish oil, I think. And what happened is indeed, the group given the butter, their free fatty acids never dropped as low as the other two groups. And in fact, after the meal, their free fatty acids were higher than before the meal. Whereas then the other two groups, their free fatty acids didn't bounce back to baseline for like eight hours. But the group that ate the butter, they bounced right back. And so, presumably, that suggests that butter will lead to a more lasting satiety post-meal than more unsaturated fats. They didn't actually test that in this study, but to me, that's what it suggests.
Ben: Right. Even compared to a monounsaturated fat, for example. The long-chain saturated fats and butter would be more satiating. And if I could step back just really quickly for people and paint a pretty simplistic picture of this, the idea is that when you are eating an appreciable amount of fats that can be readily burnt as a fuel such as the type of long-chain saturated fats that you'd find in things like beef fat or cocoa butter, or dairy fat, or pork lard, et cetera, what happens is that your cells do not need to release glucose into the bloodstream as a readily available source of fuel because you've got so many freaking fatty acids circulating in your bloodstream that you don't need that glucose available.
So, what your body does based on the reactive oxygen species that get released in response to this saturated fat intake is those reactive oxygen species will cause a temporary state of insulin resistance. Meaning, when insulin attempts to shove things like glucose into cells, the cells are a little bit less responsive to that. And when the body's attempting to store away fatty acids as well, the cells are less responsive to that. So, you essentially have more metabolites circulating in the bloodstream available for energy, your appetite stays satiated for a longer period of time theoretically on fewer calories overall by the end of the day. And thus, the overall effect, if we were to paint with a broad brush here, would be you stay full for a longer period of time on fewer calories if you are eating a diet that includes a lot of long-chain saturated fats because you've essentially induced a temporary state of insulin resistance. But in this case, the insulin resistance would be a good thing, not a bad thing, such as you might see in something like a diabetic condition.
Brad: Yes. That's exactly right. The idea that this short-term insulin resistance is a normal physiological state and is very different from the long-term pathological insulin resistance seen in type 2 diabetes. I think how I talk about it on my blog is that this kind of physiological insulin resistance actually happens all over the body all the time. But it's most important in the fat cells because it's sort of like at the end of a meal, okay, now we've got glucose circulating around, we've got some free fatty acids, we might have ethanol or ketones or other sources of fuel, and it's like, how do the cells signal to the rest of the body that they're full? And one of the ways they do that is by simply, “Okay. We're done listening to insulin resistance.” And that allows the circulating fuels to grow even higher, and that is presumably signaling satiation in the hypothalamus. And so, I think each cell is probably more or less insulin-resistant all the time. And there's also this thing called the Randle cycle, which isn't really–it's sort of independent of insulin, but it's the way that if you've been fasting for a while or if you're low carb, that your muscle cells will switch what substrates they're using, and that–
Ben: I have a whole podcast about the Randle cycle that I recorded. Basically, this idea that your body, whether you're eating a high-carb/low-fat diet or a high-fat/low-carb diet will shift its substrate utilization based on the type of macronutrients you're consuming. Meaning that someone eating a high-carb diet would shift into a higher state of glucose utilization, someone eating a high-fat diet would shift into a state of more fat burning or ketone utilization. And I interviewed Denise Minger about this, and I'll link to that podcast in the shownotes.
But I think the very important thing, probably the biggest takeaway that folks who don't want to necessarily get a biochemistry degree on this podcast in a nutrition science-related field should understand is that the long-chain saturated fats that we're referring to repeatedly, about 14 carbons or longer, such as we would find in butter and those other sources that I keep mentioning like the cocoa butter and the lard, et cetera, those induce this state of insulin resistance based on the reactive oxygen species signaling thus causing you to burn more fatty acids as a fuel, lowering your blood glucose, allowing you to stay full for a longer period of time. But I think the most important takeaway here for people, Brad, and I don't know if you agree with me from a biochemical standpoint, is that unsaturated fats don't do that, unsaturated fats. And we're not just talking like canola oil, fish, seeds, nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil, peanut butter, peanut oil, unsaturated fats, which is largely the majority of the fats you'll get from those sources that I just mentioned, do not cause the body to shift into that state of insulin resistance or fatty acid utilization as readily as the consumption of these long-chain saturated fats, right?
Brad: That is exactly right. And so, it doesn't take a whole lot of unsaturated fats to prevent the production of these reactive oxygen species as well. And interestingly, if you look at how the American diet has changed over the past 50 years, well, in some cases, how it's always been, but we're eating a lot more chicken than we did 50 years ago. And so, the kind of non-ruminant animals, poultry and pork mostly, it can be a Trojan horse for these polyunsaturated fats. So, the bacon that you–or sorry, not the bacon, the pork fat, the lard that you ate this morning, depending on how the pig was fed can have anywhere between 3% and 30% of polyunsaturated fats, like I have seen tests.
So, one of the things that's happened is in the early 2000s, in the U.S., we've built a series of ethanol distilleries to make the ethanol that goes into our gas tanks in the upper Midwest. And what happens in the ethanol distilleries is they basically turn the starch in the corn into ethanol, and that leaves behind the fiber, and the protein, and the oil. And so, it really concentrates the amount of oil in the corn. And this byproduct, the dried distillers grains, as they call them, those get fed back to the pigs. And so, that's essentially a concentrated source of corn oil. I think it's some of the facilities, they remove that oil from the dried distiller grains before feeding it to the pigs, but I suspect in a lot of the facilities they don't.
Another thing that happened is in the '90s when everybody wanted the other white meat a really low-fat pork, they selected for these ultra-lean genetics. And what happens in those pigs is they don't–this is what they were trying to do. After they had made these really lean pigs, they were like, “How do these things work anyway?” And it turns out they're incapable of doing de novo lipogenesis, which is when they make their own fat from the starches that they're fed. And so, animals cannot make polyunsaturated fats, they can only make saturated fat, and some of that gets converted to monounsaturated fat. And so, what happens in the '90s, the pig genetics change so that the pigs could no longer make the saturated fats and the monounsaturated fats. They were forced to get the fats from their diet, and largely, their diet consists of corn oil.
So, those pigs, I actually raised a couple of them on my farm, unfortunately, because I did not like the meat quality, but it was an interesting experiment to do side by side with heritage-breed pigs. And when we butchered them, the heritage-breed pigs would have nice, hard, firm fat because I wasn't even feeding them corn, they were just getting barley and grass. And the fat on the other white meat, these long lean kind of post-'90s pigs, it never firms up. The fat always remains soft. And soft pork fat is a definite indicator of polyunsaturated fat content. So, sometimes pork is a very good source of long-chain saturated fats, and sometimes pork is a very good source of polyunsaturated fat. But chickens are even worse. Some number of years ago, it was realized that if you feed chickens supplemental soybean oil on top of the corn oil that's already in their diet, it gets them to market a few days faster.
And so, the NRSC, I might have the acronym wrong, but it's basically a national organization that sort of puts out the national feeding standards for livestock. So, it's now built into the national feeding standards for poultry that you have to feed chickens 5% soybean oil yeah. And so, we're actually feeding them extra soybean oil on top of the fact that they're already eating corn. And so, chicken is typically around 20% polyunsaturated fat, or possibly even more. Canola oil is like 15% polyunsaturated fat. So, most chicken has more polyunsaturated fat than canola oil, and most pork does as well, honestly. I'll bring up Ron Penna again. After he saw some of my stuff, he sent in some pork rinds he had for sampling, and one of the samples came back at 16% polyunsaturated fat, which again is–that's canola oil levels. And conversely, the pigs that I've raised on my farm that I had tested, they were down at about 5% to 6%.
Ben: Of unsaturates?
Brad: Of polyunsaturated fats.
Ben: Polyunsaturates, yeah, which was really important. And so, a few things here because in the interest of time, I do want to go from pigs because I'm sure everybody's scratching their head wondering what the hell all of this has to do with croissants, two croissants, but I should mention a couple things. First of all, all the pork that I eat right now is coming from US Wellness Meats Farms up in Northern California, and that's all pasture-raised pork. And the second thing is related to that, you talk about the other white meat. Well, it turns out that this pork, there is nothing white on it. Even the pizza I was eating last night for dinner because I ate more of the meat last night for dinner and more of the lard this morning for breakfast, it's like brownish, dark red, melt in your mouth, mitochondrial-rich, super nutrient-dense pork. It's nothing like the dry lean pork.
I, of course as a former bodybuilder, was a total lean chicken rice broccoli guy for years and did not know what I was missing out on when it comes to meat that truly is infused with these long-chain saturated fatty acids. And so, it's just something you're missing out on if you haven't had pork the way that it was supposed to originally be. And honestly, the first time I really discovered pork that way was when I started bow hunting in Hawaii where a lot of the wild pigs down there are feeding on avocado and macadamia nuts and out in the pasture. And the first time I bow hunted a pig and brought it home and ate it, I was like, “Oh, my goodness, what have I been missing out on for?” This is the way pig is supposed to take.
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Let's do this just because I want to make sure we have time to get into “The Croissant Diet,” Brad.
Ben: What does all of this have to do with croissants?
Brad: So, as I was saying, I have a love of food history. So, as a low-carb person, I know that the traditional French diet, they combine butter and white flour, and sugar, and alcohol. And by and large, this has changed recently as they've added vegetable oil to their diet, but traditionally, the French were very lean and there's a lot of different points of evidence of this. And the same thing is true about people in Upstate New York, sort of pre-1960 or '70. And I've got articles on my blog about this called the “French Diet in France and the French diet in Upstate New York.” And so, I've had to live with this cognitive dissonance of saying, “Well, if you need to lose weight, you should eat low-carb.”
But on the other hand, I know this other fact is true that societies that traditionally combined starch, sugar, and mostly dairy fat, mostly butter also have remained lean. And I didn't know how to resolve that cognitive dissonance until I dug back into “Hyperlipid,” and now as a person seeing how polyunsaturated fats accumulate in the body of pigs, and thus presumably of people, and reading back through Peter's theory that ROS production in the adipocytes is dry, is like a hugely important part of this cycle, a question that I've had my whole life was if I'm fat, then why am I hungry? I clearly don't need the calories. And so, the more I read “Hyperlipid” and thought about the cycle, the post-meal cycle of how does one remain satiated? What causes satiation, like how does the system all work together? I started to realize that, yes, the mechanism, ROS production, and the mitochondria of fat cells can solve the cognitive dissonance.
I thought that, “Okay. So, if I'm eating butter with starch, I'm initially going to feel full because of my blood glucose rise.” And then, later, I'm still going to be full because my adipocytes are going to continue to do lipolysis. I'm still going to have energy available in my blood. And so, in theory, I could take something like a croissant, and I could lose weight by eating it. I really got that idea because one of the papers that I cite in the “ROS Theory of Obesity “is as a student thesis where she was feeding mice different combinations of starch, and I think they all got, forgive me, I may get the number slightly wrong, around 40% of their calories as fat. One of them was fed mostly stearic acid. I think the other ones were fed monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. And the monounsaturated and the polyunsaturated fats all became obese on those macros. But the one given the stearic acid, those mice remain lean. And I looked at that thinking with my chef background, I mean literally, it looks like a croissant recipe, the combination of saturated fat and starch. That was sort of the Eureka moment when I was able to start to solve this problem of why do the French remain lean eating starch and butter, which is obviously, that's like the third rail of most modern diets, this idea of combining starch and fat together and eating that. Everybody's like, “No. That's the last thing you want to do.” So, anyways, obviously–
Ben: Yeah. I mean, it's very counterintuitive and I have a couple of questions about this, about the actual recipe itself, how you'd make the croissant. I doubt you're actually going to Kroger's or Rosauers and buying a croissant there. I would imagine that there's something special about the long-chain saturated fat content of the croissant to actually make this appropriately healthy or conducive to weight loss. And I want to hear a little bit about that. But the other thing that I'm curious about just for people who might not be as accustomed to croissants–and I worked at a French bakery, by the way. I didn't tell you this, Brad. I worked at a French bakery for three years in college. So, I spent a lot of time behind the counter serving up croque monsieurs, and croissants, and what are the little chocolate ones that filled with the cream?
Brad: Yeah. Eclairs and it's not–
Ben: Yeah. They're like an éclair.
Ben: So, anyways, when we're talking about croissants, describe to people what kind of croissant we're talking about here. You can even talk about how you're actually making this type of thing because I'm sure people are even wondering if this is something they can even pull off, being able to make a bunch of croissants and eat croissants.
Brad: Sure. Yeah. I mean, croissants obviously are a labor of love. They're a ton of work. I happen to like to cook. So, for me, it was fun to make the croissants by the end. And if you go read my post introducing “The Croissant Diet,” by the end, I'd sort of given up on actually baking croissants after like three weeks and I started just eating pancakes with roughly the same macros. Pancakes, it turns out, can absorb a tremendous amount of fat, I discovered. Yeah. So, when I came up with the initial croissant recipe, instead of using butter, the mice were fed basically straight stearic acid, which is an 18 carbon length saturated fat. So, it's basically the longest commonly found saturated fat. And I discovered that I could just buy this stuff on Amazon, and the stuff that I got was–
Ben: You can buy stearic acid on Amazon?
Brad: Right. Actually, on my blog, you can actually buy 92% pure food-grade stearic acid, which I think is–that's on fireinabottle.net. I think that's the only place that you can actually buy the really pure food-grade stearic acid.
Ben: And this stuff just comes to your house like coconut oil, like in a glass container or whatever?
Brad: Well, so the funny thing about stearic acid is it has a melting point of like 160 degrees Fahrenheit. So, at room temperature, it's basically like candle wax, which I wasn't really–I mean, I hadn't thought that much about it, right? It just came in the mail and I was like, “Oh, well, what do I do with this? I can't just eat this.” And I'd looked up some papers and it's actually not very absorbable as is. And so, that's when I realized I had to blend it down to get a fat that was edible. And so, what I started doing was basically making ghee. I would purify the fat out of the butter and I would mix as much stearic acid into that as possible. And then, that's what I would use to make the croissants. And croissants are very–you make a dough, and then you roll it out, and you make a layer of the fat, and that goes in there, and then you fold it over itself, and then you roll it out, and you fold it, and you roll it, you fold it. And there's a lot of refrigerating in the middle because you have to keep the butter really cold.
Truly, a [00:52:18] _____. So, I don't know if I would recommend for most people to actually eat croissants, but if you want to try an approach like this, there are some easier recipes. If you look up Rich Man's Brioche, this is very similar macros to actual croissants and it's a lot easier to make, if someone wants to try sort of the literal version of “The Croissant Diet.” I've had other people who have had success on a more keto version of “The Croissant Diet” just by literally limiting chicken and pork fat–
Ben: No. Yeah. That's actually what I was going to ask you. Why are the starches in the croissant, part of the croissant diet so necessary? It begs the question, is this just like a publicity stunt because everybody knows what a croissant is? Or could you literally just like do pork lard and cocoa butter, and butter, and some of this long-chain saturated fat stearic acid, and then have like vegetables?
Brad: Right. I wanted to prove that I could lose weight eating starch and fat together because where I sort of came down on things is that despite the fact that removing carbohydrate clearly has beneficial effects for people in terms of weight loss, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's at the root cause of the initial reason for obesity. And so, I wanted to prove that as an actual obese person, that I could lose weight eating this combination of starch and saturated fat because if I can, then it changes the whole way that I'm thinking about obesity. And so, that's why I did it with croissants. And obviously, sure, the croissants are cheeky and it's funny because no one thinks of croissants as a weight loss food, but–
Ben: No. Quite the contrary.
Brad: But having said that, after I published “The Croissant Diet,” I've received any number of anecdotes from people saying, “You know, when I went to France, we would get up in the morning and we would have croissants, and then we'd go hiking all day and I was never really hungry. And when I came back, I stepped on the scale and I'd lost five pounds.” This is a pretty common story from the number of times people have sent it to me. And so, I am starting to believe the more that I've played around with this that having some starch in a meal and having that blood glucose rise after a meal may play an important role in satiety.
Ben: Right. And that blood glucose rise is also going to be accelerated by the fact that the cells are in a temporary state of the insulin resistance due to the saturated fat that's being consumed along with the starches. So, you might be creating a scenario a little bit like when I–for example, I raced the Tough Mudder once where I consumed a couple servings of exogenous ketones and at the same time did a couple of sports gels. So, I had high fructose, high maltodextrin, and high ketones all simultaneously and it was like rocket fuel for performance. And what you're saying is kind of like fairy dusting a bunch of long-chain saturated fatty acids with a glucose source such as the starch you'd use when making a croissant might achieve a similar effect in terms of satiety for someone who wants to eat fewer calories but still not be gnawing their arm off while they're on a diet.
Brad: Exactly. And how I like to think about it and what I've seen is that my–this is going to be something scary that I'm going to say. I find that when I have one of these–and recently, I've been doing the same thing with French fries and I've been frying French fries in beef suet, which is a very good source of both stearic and palmitic acid. Suet is the kidney fat and it's the abdominal fat of a cow, and it's much more saturated than the rest of the fat on the cow. So, it's a really good source of the types of fats that I'm looking for. And so, I've been making this French fries and what I'll find is that my blood sugar will stay fairly elevated for a bunch of hours after I eat this French fries with all of the beef suet. And I think what's happening is I'm full until the free fatty acids rise again after the meal. And so, by the time my blood glucose comes down, my free fatty acids are up and I never have that post-meal hunger. It's like I wake up and the next day, I'm barely hungry.
Ben: Interesting. Do you measure blood glucose, or ketones, or anything like that?
Brad: I do, I do. And so, I just did a 20-day experiment that again is kind of jokingly named, but I called it the feasting mimicking diet with the idea that I was trying to eat a large meal, and that I wanted to remain as satiated as possible for many hours post-meal. And so, this is the meal that I designed. It's very high in beef suet and long-chain saturated fat, and fairly high in starch. It's not actually that. I mean, the biggest meals, maybe I have 150 grams of starch. So, it's enough starch that it gets my blood sugar up and post-meal and I stay full. It's not enough starch to knock me out of ketosis by the next morning. So, I've been doing that and–I'm sorry, I forgot what your initial question was, but yeah–
Ben: My initial question was whether it had to be a croissant. And it sounds like there are some variants of the diet with the overall goal being small amounts of carbohydrates and a lot of these long-chain saturated fats. And again, if folks go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/croissantdiet, I'll link to some of the articles that you wrote where I think someone who's pretty handy around the kitchen could figure out ways to do this, not necessarily being croissants.
But that being said, how many croissants and about how many calories per day were you eating for the type of weight loss that you experienced on this diet?
Brad: So, I was more or less eating when I was hungry. I would typically make two of the croissants and I would try to finish them, and I would make sandwiches, so I would put cheese and eggs and sausage on them or whatever. And I was struggling to finish two of them with all of the stearic acid content in there. That's kind of a new experience for me. I started feeling this wave of satiation into a meal that was honestly a new experience for me. I've always been one to like–it's like, “Well, I've already had thirds. Am I going to go up for fourths?” I don't stop eating because I'm full or I feel satisfied. It's like my stomach is starting to hurt and I've already filled my plate three times, so I guess I should stop eating.
And so, when I started doing this with the long-chain saturated fats, the satiation was powerful. And that's when I started feeling I was onto something. So, yeah. So, I would make these two sandwiches maybe in the morning, and then I would usually like one and a half of them, sometimes I'd finish them. And then, I wouldn't have to eat again. I wouldn't be hungry until at least that evening. And then, I started noticing that, and then the next day, I started going longer and longer into the day before I was hungry. And then, there was a couple of times I literally got doing something and I just forgot to make dinner. I mean, I just never even thought about it. I didn't get hungry and I've never skipped a dinner in my adult life.
And so, the fact that I hadn't planned to do it that way, it just happened because I was writing and doing other things, and I literally just wasn't paying attention, and I fell asleep, and I woke up the next day, and I was like, “What did I have for dinner last night?” and I had it. And so, I found a huge effect on satiation. I wasn't tracking calories or mac–I mean, the macros, I can tell you, were very high. I think the croissants were around 70% calories from fat with most of the rest being starch. I wasn't tracking calories, but I wasn't eating a tiny–it's not like I was eating tiny amounts of calories either. I mean, two croissant sandwiches with wine is still quite a bit of calories, right? And so, I've been doing this feasting mimicking diet. That's a lot clearer like I have a lot more–if you can see, I posted results a couple of weeks ago on the blog. In that one, there's a lot more information about macros, and calories, and blood glucose at all different times of the day, and ketones, and my weight, and–
Ben: Yeah. You've got it pretty comprehensively laid out on your site. And have other people been trying this diet and experiencing good appetite satiation, weight loss, et cetera?
Brad: Yeah. You know, I've had a lot of good reports back. There's one that's been very popular, I just posted it, called Emmy's story, but she's someone who was struggling to lose weight on basically almost pure carnivore diet, and she switched from, like I say, switched away from chicken and pork fat and towards a combination of butter and cocoa butter that she was using as her fast source. And all of a sudden, she started to lose weight, and actually, after a few months, her weight loss accelerated, and she hit her target weight and did even better. And the only real thing she changed in her diet was the types of fats she was getting, not even necessarily the amounts of fat she was getting. So, that to me is a sign that this is real, there is something to it. And there's lots of studies in mice that show this exact thing. And you can see those on the “ROS Theory of Obesity.” You can also see them on “Hyperlipid.” So, I felt like I had a really good reason to expect this to work because it does work so well in the mice and because we do know kind of the mechanism behind it, and it worked for me, and that was cool and fun. But now when I see it working with people like Emmy, it's like, “Okay, exhale. This is good. I'm not just a crazy person.”
Ben: Yeah. I have a few little comments. First of all, I'm going elk hunting in a couple of weeks and I was pleased to see when I was researching for this interview that the back fat on wild elk is actually extremely high in stearic acid, higher than cocoa butter and butter. Really, the only two things I could find that higher was that stearic acid-enhanced butter oil that you have on your website, and then coconut oil. And so, I'm looking forward to having even more stearic acid on hand for my own appetite satiation because I'm one of those guys who will just think and think and think about my next meal unless the meal that I've eaten is properly comprised. And I've found that having meals that include a lot of these long-chain saturated fats is quite helpful for that.
Now, that being said, I'm sure that you've been challenged on this before, but there is some evidence out there from a gut standpoint that a high saturated fat diet might induce something called endotoxemia. I've talked about this before, about these lipopolysaccharides that can cause one to get brain fog, show signs of almost like a toxin release after a meal. And it appears that postprandial inflammatory response is something that, A, tends to be triggered by a high saturated fat diet, and B, tends to be even more pro-inflammatory when a high saturated fat diet is also inclusive of carbohydrates like a high-fat, high-carb meal. Thus, dictating that it's possible that a croissant would induce endotoxemia via lipopolysaccharide production. How have you seen people responding, or how have you yourself responded when it comes to the way that your gut feels or any type of brain fog after these type of hysteric acid feedings?
Brad: I haven't noticed any real downside personally. I mean, I will tell you that after especially the way that I'm doing things now, I'm trying to get basically all of my calories for as many as 48 hours in a very short time-restricted eating window. So, after that meal, I am very lethargic, let's say, while I digest, but I don't attribute that to being really a brain fog type effect. And I'll be honest that this is not a topic I'm as well-versed on. I've read some things about it. I'm kind of unsure. And so, what I will say is that when I look at–again, as a chef and as a lover of food history, what I go back to is I look at generations, not even generations, thousands of years of French and Irish, and hundreds of years of Americans following this very traditional dietary pattern. And by the way, it's not just European descendant cultures. You can also see those same patterns in the mountains of Tibet with like yak and sheepherders eating cheese and noodle … or sorry, butter and noodles together, [01:06:09] _____ cultures in Africa doing the same thing. And so, in all dairy-based cultures, which have pretty much been on every continent except for Antarctica, you see this basic pattern of eating butter and starch, basically.
And so, I feel like there's a lot of things that we're doing as a society that I think can affect our gut health–pardon the pun, my gut feeling is that when I say that just because we remove carbohydrate and that maybe helps people lose weight doesn't necessarily mean that carbohydrates are the root of the problem. I tend to believe it's too much linoleic acid. I think with the gut health thing, it's a little hard for me to believe that consuming saturated fat and starch together is that pro-inflammatory, and yet a huge percentage of the world's population has lived on exactly that diet for hundreds of years.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And I'm going to throw this out for you. It appears that in many cases, when endotoxemia markers are measured, specifically lipopolysaccharide responses to high-fat meals, that the inclusion, and there are multiple studies that show this, the inclusion of plant polyphenols, some amounts of fiber, and then some flavanols, such as you would get from dark berries, seems to get rid of that lipopolysaccharide response. Meaning that you could argue that if you were to include some nice vegetable powders, even something like broccoli sprouts because sulforaphane appears to protect against small intestine mucosa issues, specifically related polysaccharides, bilberries and blueberries have been studied for this, grape extract like grape skins, which is very interesting because I know that you're into the wine and croissants–
Brad: Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ben: Exactly. All of this stuff seems to actually limit that lipopolysaccharide response. So, one could argue that you could have your croissant but have a nice glass of red wine or a handful of bilberries or blueberries, or something like on a croissant sandwich, have your broccoli sprouts. And you would actually limit this amount of endotoxemia, which is I find pretty fascinating. And of course, it's a perfect segue because I do want to ask you about the wine diet. Now, before I ask you about the wine diet, what I should tell folks is there's a lot more about the croissant diet on Brad's website, and I'd be very curious what kind of questions you guys have. And if any of you have tried this diet, or just if you listen to this podcast, you decide to increase your intake of some of these high stearic acid or high long-chain saturated fatty acid sources–and it's pretty easy to google food sources of long-chain saturated fatty acids, or you could just go to Brad's website where he has a lot listed. And I'll link to his website and everything if you guys go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/croissantdiet.
But that all being said, that long segue, tell me about what's going on with the whole wine part of this French approach to living that makes my wife love you so much, Brad.
Brad: Yes. So, if you go to fireinabottle.net, I have a fairly recent post that I call wine fasting. And so, I'm a wine drinker. I've made no secrets about this or apologies about it on my blog. I drink plentiful wine, as a lot of the French historically did. Well, Americans traditionally didn't drink that much wine, but they drank a lot of spirits. And so, disclaimer, I'm not trying to encourage anyone to start drinking, who doesn't drink, or anything like that. But I've realized that I know a lot of people who consume alcohol, and I think it's mostly okay as long as you can control yourself and you're being smart about the rest of your diet, et cetera.
So, that's kind of my place in this. But one thing that I found is that–so ethanol as a fuel has a couple interesting properties. One is that it does not stimulate insulin release, and two is that for me anyway, it satiates my hunger. And so, this was sort of one of those mistaken things where I said that I forgot to eat dinner. When I did the first iteration of the croissant diet, it was like, sure, it was six or seven and I opened a bottle of wine and I drank that. And then, I went to bed and I woke up the next day and I was like, “I don't remember what I have for dinner.” And I was like, “My god, I didn't have dinner.” And that was when I realized like, “Okay. Well, wine is this thing that I can, if I want to, ‘fast.'” And in the evening, I start getting like fidgety. I'm not even necessarily hungry, but I'm fidgety and I feel like making dinner. That's why I normally eat dinner and I'm like, “Well, I want to put a fasting day in.” And so, I realized that, sure, I could just drink some wine and go to bed, and it was an easy way for me to fast. And I'm defining fasting as a pattern of food which doesn't stimulate insulin.
Ben: Yeah. I think it is interesting though, just to play devil's advocate here, because both fructose and ethanol, of course, both of which you'd find in appreciable amounts in wine, also induce some amount of leptin resistance, thus, making me think that if you're just drinking wine, you'd get hungrier because you're lowering your ability to be able to respond to your appetite-regulating hormone leptin. But what you're arguing is that perhaps, the fact that you're getting calories from the ethanol, but you're also not causing that release of insulin, or perhaps even getting a little bit of that insulin resistance, same as you'd get with the stearic acid, you're technically leaving substrates in the bloodstream for a longer period of time, which might actually override any type of leptin resistance.
Brad: Yes. And so, one interesting thing about this is that some people, when they consume alcohol, they become hypoglycemic because alcohol can inhibit gluconeogenesis in the liver. And so, your blood sugar can go down. And I believe that contributes to people who drink occasionally and then go out for late-night slices of pizza or whatever. And there's also rodent studies on this as well, that if you normally drink alcohol, it doesn't affect your blood sugar levels. I've done the test where I've taken my blood sugar multiple times over several hours while I'm consuming wine and I don't see any blood glucose change at all.
Ben: Yeah. I don't personally see much. Are you pretty careful with the whole pesticide, herbicide component, you drink organic or biodynamic wines, or would you focus [01:13:22] _____?
Brad: I try to in as much as I can afford them.
Brad: But yeah. No. I try to do as well as I can on the quality of the wine. Yeah. And so, basically, the wine fasting thing, it's just simply I found that it works for me and I thought it was interesting, and I didn't want to shy away talking about it even though I know it's a controversial idea, right? But I don't think we gain anything by not talking about controversial things.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Have you written any articles about the wine diet or your thoughts on the science behind that?
Brad: Yes. On fireinabottle.net, there's an article called “Wine Fasting,” and it talks about the insulin release, although I'm actually thinking about writing a whole series about ethanol metabolism coming up because I think it's an underexplored area and I think there's a lot of interesting things that we can say about it. And so, yeah, that will probably be upcoming. I'm also planning a series of articles on Fire in a Bottle about the history of these agricultural systems and the homestead, and what it represented, and I feel like we're having a lot of discussions in the community these days. You've got the vegans on the one hand and you've got carnivores on the other end of the spectrum and all these people in between. And I feel like a lot of the people don't have a basic understanding of the agricultural system and how and why it evolved the way that it did, and like how did we get here, and how are we so also far apart on food, and how I think that stems from being disconnected from the basics of agriculture, and how that all works. So, that's my other big series I'm going to be working on the next year, but–
Ben: Fascinating. And it is really interesting because if you actually do look at, very similar to the lipolysis response to these long-chain saturated fats, there are some studies that show that alcohol enhances lipolysis or forces the fat cells to release fatty acids. And so, I think that's interesting. And then, the other thing is that if we look at this from an epidemiological standpoint, and specifically, the Greek Orthodox Church, which is where a lot of our Mediterranean fasting type of principles come from that there is, in addition to some elements of protein restriction during periods of the year in that diet, a great deal of oil fasting and wine fasting days. And so, that's quite interesting as well. And I mean, man, if you're telling me that I can be cognizant of the number of calories that I consume, that I can drink a nice dry organic red wine on a pretty regular basis, that I can have my long-chain saturated fats in the forms of wild elk back fat and coconut oil and croissants perhaps even to some extent, and pork lard, which I'm totally behind or any other pork source from a good pastured pork, I mean, I could probably go to a desert island with that type of diet and have a smile on my face for a pretty appreciable amount of time.
And I think one thing we should really, really point out to folks, because I see people making this mistake all the time especially in the keto sector, having fat bombs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, like, we're talking about extremely calorically dense food sources here. So, you need to understand how simple it would be for you to easily overconsume calories. And I am, at the very end of the day, a calories and calories out guy. I mean, foundationally, you do need to understand that you're not going to lose weight if you're eating more calories than you're burning. And so, a big part of this is that you need to understand that this diet will satiate the appetite. And therefore, that appetite satiation should dictate that you're shoving less food into your gaping maw. So, that's a big part of this. So, don't get on the croissant diet, and then go leave a comment on the blog post that it didn't help you at all because maybe you were just eating too many croissants, you, French fool.
So, there you have it. Brad, we are just about out of time. Now, I want to make a couple closing comments. First of all, as you mentioned, you've got low polyunsaturated fatty acid pork, which is great. And so, that's the type of stuff you're growing on your farm, and I'm going to link to that Firebrand Meats in the shownotes for people. And as we were discussing before this show, maybe between now and the time the show comes out, if you come up with some kind of like little code people could use to order some of your wonderful meat, then that's a full-on win-win. The other thing is when I'm going on my elk hunt, and this is also a topic in my mind because I got a bunch of these bad boys upstairs in the garage right now, I'm taking a bunch of these Keto Bricks with me. I just discovered these things, Keto Bricks. Now, I don't know if you've heard of these, Brad, but they're cacao butter and stearic acid in this giant thousand calorie keto brick. So, if I have one of those for each of my hunt days, maybe two, depending on how far I'm going, I'm literally planning on doing almost a version of the croissant diet during a six-day hunt in New Mexico coming up here in a couple of weeks. So, I might be able to report back on how these manifests in the field using these Keto Bricks, which I'll also link in the shownotes if people want to try those.
Brad: Nice. I love it. Well, you can always have one of those for breakfast, and then some wine for dinner.
Ben: Well, in an ideal scenario, I'm having elk back fat for dinner for me because I had a successful hunt, yeah.
Brad: Oh, well, that's even better, of course.
Ben: That's right. Alright. Well–
Brad: I'd actually be curious to know how much back fat is on an elk.
Ben: Decent amount, but elk is a pretty lean animal. So, not as much fat as you'd find in a pork, not anywhere close to it, or a pig, I should say. But yeah, I think I could probably get a little bit of an elk. And it also depends how cold it is, and that's going to dictate, in many cases, the amount of fat an animal is storing, which is why caribou and reindeer have huge amounts of, especially like DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, higher than that of fish. But you don't see that in the lean whitetail out in the summer Spokane in my backyard.
Brad: I want to just make a quick input here. You'd mentioned earlier in the show about all the polyunsaturated and how they affect ROS production. I'd like to differentiate. So, very-long-chain fats, things like DHA that you find in fish and seafood, they are digested differently. They go into peroxisomes and get broken down there. So, I'm not sure that long-chain, very-long-chain polyunsaturated fats like DHA will affect ROS production because of their great length. I just want to say that while we're on the topic.
Ben: That's a good point. So, you're saying that potentially, if one were to be concerned about the ability of some of the fats that are unsaturated to limit all of the different biochemical responses that we just talked about, that you could probably do something like, whatever. Let's say you're going to have a two meal a day diet and have a croissant for breakfast. You could have some wild salmon for dinner and it's probably not going to inhibit much of that response.
Brad: Absolutely. I think you're pretty safe with the amounts of fish oil or long-chain polyunsaturated fat, whatever you want to call it, found in natural foods like salmon. I think that's okay.
Ben: Awesome. Cool. Well, I think people can get on board, fish, wine, and croissants. Well, Brad, this is fascinating. And again, I'll link to everything that Brad and I have been discussing, for those of you interested, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/croissantsdiet. That's C-R-O-I-S-S-A-N-T. There, I spelled it for you, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/croissantdiet. I'll link to all the research, I'll link to the different meat sources, I'll link to Peter's “Hyperlipid” website, everything. And in the meantime, Brad, it's fascinating stuff. Thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this with us.
Brad: Thank you, thank you. And yes, everyone, the meat at Firebrand Meats is going to be fantastic. We've got Berkshire pigs. It's going to be very low proof of pork. It's going to be the firmest pork fat you'll ever see. So, check that out. And if anyone wants to follow me on Twitter, I am fire_bottle as my handle on Twitter. So, I'm pretty active on there.
Brad: Thank you, Ben.
Ben: Alright. Cool. Alright, folks. Well, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Brad Marshall, Fire in a Bottle, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
My friend Ron Penna recently emailed me about a guy named Brad Marshall who…
“…has a fascinating take on why we get fat called the ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) Theory of Obesity and how ROS signaling as a result of eating saturated fats is critical for satiety. Provocative stuff and the more I read the more I’m pretty sure he is onto something. Joel Greene thinks Brad is crazy on this point but I have a feeling he will end up being right on most if not all of it. You can read more here: “The ROS Theory Of Obesity”
Essentially, our entire meat supply (pork and chicken especially) is much higher in polyunsaturated fats than they should be and the only real way to change it is to change what we feed them. He is also starting to offer meats that are fed properly to ensure lower levels of PUFA. He also has been working on how eating croissants is the key to leanness. It has to be wrong but he makes VERY interesting arguments about it.”
Naturally, I just had to get this guy on the show. Brad Marshall is the author of the Blog Fire In A Bottle and the creator of The Croissant Diet. Mildly obsessed with food and its history, his work focuses on trying to place current ideas about diet, including keto and carnivore diets, into the framework of traditional dietary patterns. For instance, the French diet before 1970 combined flour, sugar, butter, and wine, and the population was lean.
Brad wrote The ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) Theory of Obesity, which posits that ROS generation in the mitochondria of fat cells could provide the mechanism that explains why a traditional Chinese peasant diet (low fat with 85% of calories from starch), a French diet combining butter, wine, and flour, and a modern keto diet could all be expected to produce leanness but combining flour with polyunsaturated fats is a recipe for obesity. The core idea comes from the Protons thread of Peter Dobromylskyj’s blog Hyperlipid. Brad tested this hypothesis with his dietary experiment The Croissant Diet.
He is also the founder of Firebrand Meats, which is dedicated to producing pork and poultry products that are low in linoleic acid, the n6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) whose intake has seen a dramatic worldwide increase in the last century. Animals cannot make PUFAs, so Firebrand Meats raises pork and chicken that are nearly free of them. “You are what your animals eat.”
Brad has a genetics degree from Cornell, a certificate from The French Culinary Institute, has studied cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and worked as a programmer for the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project. He spent the last 15 years raising rotationally grazed pastured pork on his farm in upstate New York while running a butcher shop, local food restaurant, and USDA-inspected meat processing facility.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
– Brad's background in molecular biology and cooking…8:00
- Studied Biology at Cornell, and attended culinary school in NYC
- Developed interest in French cuisine and agriculture
- Introduction into raising pigs puts together Brad's varied interests
- Connection between what you feed the pigs and the quality of the meat
- Pigs fed corn had soft fat; barley resulted in firmer fat
- Corn-finished pork fetch a low price compared to barley finished pork
- Linoleic acid bioaccumulates in the meat
- Corn is 5-6% oil while barley is 2-3% oil
- PUFAs accumulate in the meat
- What you eat affects your body composition
- Ketogenic diet wasn't working and losing weight became harder as he aged
- Rediscovering the “Protons” thread of Peter Dobromylskyj's blog “Hyperlipid”
– The production ROS and the ROS Theory of Obesity…18:43
- The ROS Theory of Obesity
- ROS production is a signal to the cell that mitochondria are burning fat
- ROS is not bad, as you may have heard, but are simply messengers
- Redux sensors monitor intracellular concentration of ROS and react to different signals from the ROS
- Achieving “redux balance” or homeostasis in an oxygenated environment
- Too many antioxidants can be a bad thing (for example, in cancer)
- Cancer cells accumulate antioxidants to prevent themselves from being killed by the immune system
- ROS is a dynamic system
- Long-chain saturated fats in connection with ROS
- Fat cells, free fatty acids, lipolysis, insulin, and blood glucose levels all connected to hunger
- Study in Spain– Butter versus different oils connection to free fatty acids add to satiety
- With a diet rich in long-chain saturated fats, ROS can cause a temporary state of insulin resistance (good!) and appetite stays satiated for longer on fewer calories
- This insulin resistance is different from the pathological version of type II diabetes
- The Randle Cycle– Shifting states of nutrient utilization
- From a chemical standpoint, unsaturated fats (fish, seeds, nuts, avocado oil, olive oil, peanut butter, peanut oil) do not cause the body to shift into a state of insulin resistance or fatty-acid utilization as readily as the consumption of long-chain saturated fats
– Unsaturated fats vs saturated fats in connection to ROS production and satiety…34:25
- Unsaturated fats don't create the insulin resistance effect and can, in fact, inhibit it
- Chicken and non-ruminant animals in American diet can be high in polyunsaturated fats
- What pigs and chickens eat matters, especially ethanol byproducts (concentrated corn oil)
- Pork as the other white meat; selecting lean pigs for meat production in the 1990s
- Soft pig fat in the meat is a sign of polyunsaturated fat content
- Most chicken and pork are higher in polyunsaturated fat than canola oil
- Good pork versus the other white meat
- US Wellness Meats (use code BEN to save 15%)
-What this all has to do with croissants…44:45
- Cognitive dissonance, because of the traditional French diet in connection with French health and fitness; doesn't jibe with current nutritional thinking about starch consumption
- The question of how the French remain lean eating starch and butter combined
- Stearic acid(Fire In A Bottle – 92% pure food grade) is the longest chain commonly found saturated fat; must be rendered to a ghee
- Starch in the croissants – a publicity stunt?
- Brad wanted to prove you can lose weight eating starch and fat together
- Blood glucose rise with starch consumption connected to satiety in calorie-restricted diets
- Using beef suetas a frying fat
- Brad's Feasting Mimicking Diet
-The Croissant Diet…58:25
- Overeating and satiety on a diet of long-chain saturated fats and starch
- Forgetting to eat – satiation
- Feasting Mimicking Diet– More information about macros, calories, blood glucose, ketones, etc.
- Testimonial: Emmy's story– Struggling to lose weight before trying the Croissant Diet
- Foods high in stearic acid – Elk back fat, higher in stearic acidthan butter and cocoa butter
– Whether you should worry about endotoxemia with a diet high in saturated fats…1:03:45
- Look out for brain fog, inflammation, and gut health
- Dairy-based cultures around the world have eaten like this historically; butter and starch together
- Carbohydrates may not have been the problem; it might be too much linoleic acid
- Limiting lipopolysaccharide response with supplements
-The Wine Diet…1:09:30
- Wine fasting
- Ethanol does not stimulate insulin release, and for some suppresses hunger
- Devil's advocate – Might wine consumption make one hungrier?
- Some people become hypoglycemic when they consume alcohol, but regular drinkers usually don't experience that
- Doing what works for you even if it might be controversial
- Wine fasting article on Fire In A Bottle blog
- Brad's newest work on vegans versus carnivores – Both can be disconnected from the basics of agriculture
- Ben asks: Is this too good to be true? (Ben being a “calories in/calories out” guy)
- Firebrand Meatsand Keto Brick
- Fish oilin natural foods is probably OK as well
Resources from this episode:
– Brad Marshall:
– BGF Podcasts & Articles:
- 278 Pounds Of Fat Magically Disappears In Just One Year…On A High-Carb, Low-Fat, Sugar-Laden Diet? With Denise Minger.
- The Croissant Diet & The French Paradox (How Changing Your Fat Ratios Can Put You Back In Charge Of Your Waistline) by Brad Marshall.
- Eat Yourself Smart: 10 Foods That Can Destroy Your Brain & How To Fuel Your Brain With The Best Cognitive-Boosting Alternatives.
– Food & Supplements:
- Stearic Acidfrom Fire In A Bottle
- US Wellness Meats Beef Suet (use code BEN to save 15%)
- LivingFuel Superessential Fish Oil
– Other Resources:
- Peter Dobromylskyj’s blog, Hyperlipid
- Article: ROS as signalling molecules: mechanisms that generate specificity in ROS homeostasis
- Article: High–Saturated Fat Diet Increases Endotoxemia Fat influences absorption of lipopolysaccharide
- Article: Enterosgel toxin binder (for post-meal lipopolysaccharide endotoxemia)
- Article: Bilberries Reduce Low-Grade Inflammation in Individuals With Features of Metabolic Syndrome
- Article: The Endotoxemia Marker Lipopolysaccharide-Binding Protein Is Reduced in Overweight-Obese Subjects Consuming Pomegranate Extract by Modulating the Gut Microbiota: A Randomized Clinical Trial
- Article: Polyphenol extracts interfere with bacterial lipopolysaccharide in vitro and decrease postprandial endotoxemia in human volunteers
- Article: Sulforaphane Protects Small Intestinal Mucosa From aspirin/NSAID-induced Injury by Enhancing Host Defense Systems Against Oxidative Stress and by Inhibiting Mucosal Invasion of Anaerobic Enterobacteria
- Article: Role of Sulforaphane in Protection of Gastrointestinal Tract Against H. pylori and NSAID-Induced Oxidative Stress
- The Randle Cycle
- Saturated Fat thread on reddit
On a recent week-long New Mexico elk hunt with tons of aerobic walking, hiking, and carrying, I decided to try an experiment… After hearing from several folks in the keto sector (most notably my friend Dominic D’ Agostino) about these newfangled nutrition bars called “Keto Bricks,” I took the plunge and actually tried to sustain myself purely on Keto Bricks and meat for my hunt.
Let's just say, I was blown away by the stable energy levels and satiating nature of Keto Bricks.
So what are Keto Bricks? Essentially, they are a high-calorie meal replacement “brick” (think of an energy bar you know of, then quadruple the size). They are 1,000 calories each, so obviously created for adventures and hefty activity days for which you want tons of calories but barely any carbohydrates (roughly 90g Fat, 30g Protein, and 14g TOTAL, not net, Carbs!.
The ingredient profile is impressive. Here are the ingredients of what I found to be my favorite flavor (Mocha):
Raw organic cacao butter, plant-based protein powder (pea protein isolate, organic brown rice protein concentrate, natural chocolate mocha flavor, cocoa, stevia leaf extract, gum blend (konjac gum, guar gum, and tara gum), organic sacha inchi, sea salt, monk fruit extract, and digest-all (a vegan enzyme blend)), MCT powder (MCT oil, acacia fiber), organic golden flaxseed meal, raw organic fermented cacao nibs, ground coffee beans, ancient sea salt.
These things are addictively flavorful and contain no allulose, erythritol, or any other potentially gut-bloating sweetener. They are shelf-stable at room temperature, and shelf-stable *above* room temperature as well.
If you are an active person who needs massive amounts of keto calories for mountaineering, hiking, hunting, etc. I cannot recommend these highly enough. You can get them here, and when you use code BEN you'll be automatically entered to win a free month of Keto Bricks.
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