My N=1 of Fire In a Bottle's saturated fat theory, plus critique

(Bob M) #1

I tested Fire in a Bottle’s (Brad’s) theory of high saturated fat intake. I have been mired in an incredibly time-consuming house project, and I thought I’d wait to post until that was done. I’m taking a break from that this weekend, so I thought I’d get something up, and I’ll add more later. My project is never-ending…


Before starting this test, I had just gotten into size 34 pants (from 43) and was wearing 34-36 inch waist pants.

I take carvedilol, a beta blocker. As far as I can tell, this has some anti-lipolysis effect, but I can’t figure out how much and also I’d lost 50+ pounds while taking this.

It will be 7 years for me on LC/keto on 1/1/21.

How I tested

I tested Brad’s theory, eating a ton of saturated fat. I typically used ghee + his stearic acid, either by itself or with a 50/50 mix (about) of cacao butter. I also would eat cacao butter, say with yogurt and dark chocolate. I briefly tested a TKD (targeted keto diet), eating higher carb the first meal after exercising. I used mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and even pasta once (with cream/butter sauce).

My normal meals, however, were to eat my first meal by eating just ghee+stearic acide+cacao butter, and gobbling as much of that as I could.

I usually eat 2MAD, and my first meal is mine. The second meal is made by my wife, so might be chicken thighs + bacon for instance.



If I ate a TON of saturated fat, I could get a good satiety effect, as in I was not hungry at all 8+ hours later.

I got “hot”, as if I was burning up. That helped, since I was getting cold at some points previously.


However, if I didn’t get enough saturated fat, I was still hungry. I never figured out the “threshold”, where I went from being hungry to not being hungry, but it was a high amount of saturated fat.

I gained 15+ pounds. (Don’t weigh myself, but have cardiologist appointments every 6 months, and was shocked to see what happened on the scale. Not pretty.)

I gained ALL of it in my belly. Exactly the opposite of what Brad said would happen.

I could no longer fit in my 34s, and when I started wearing shorts, I couldn’t fit into them.

It’s very difficult to eat high saturated fat if you’re eating low carb. Other than suet and cacao butter or dairy, it’s quite challenging to add saturated fat to your diet. If you’re using starch, that helps, as it sucks up butter/ghee/saturated fat. But if you’re not, you have to rely on dairy or just eat fat.


During this time, I began working out at home, doing a ton more abs. I am sure I gained muscle around my waist, and my overall strength has improved dramatically. Without a pre- and post-DEXA scan, I can’t tell exactly how much muscle I’ve gained, though. And since those cost $150/each and I have to drive an hour there and an hour back to get them, I didn’t do them.

Once I realized I wasn’t fond of the TKD (those plants seemed to cause me issues although higher carb after working out might not be bad), I resorted to more dairy. Inasmuch as “dairy” “causes” “inflammation”, that could be a negative factor. However, the weight gain seemed to occur while not adding dairy too.


I was in a Twitter conversation with other people who gained weight (20+ pounds) using Brad’s techniques. We were all male, all had been doing low carb/keto for a long time (I’m coming up on 7 years), and the theory was maybe we already had low PUFA content in our fat cells, so the blunting effect of saturated fat didn’t work.

As a believer in black swans, I therefore think the Protons theory is not true, at least for some people. (Black swans: if your theory is that “all swans are white”, that is true, until you find one black swan, then the theory isn’t true.)

I also think humans are incredibly complex. Maybe we aren’t mice (which is were most of the Protons thread takes place)?

I also think that looking at the French or some high-carb eating people and saying we have to explain them or it proves it’s not the carbs, is problematic. For instance, Brad follows a woman on Twitter who tries to eat the “French” way. She (1) eats tiny meals, (2) eats the smallest meal as the final meal, and (3) eats the final meal far from sleep. Maybe the French don’t snack, have backlash against overweight people (thereby forcing everyone to calorie control their diets), eat smaller meals and stay hungry? Maybe saturated fat isn’t it or is only part of the reason they’re “thinner” than US people.

I also think the idea that one can only gain weight or get insulin resistant based on PUFAs is incorrect. I got fat going from a very low fat diet, getting depressed, drinking good beer, eating pizza, and then Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Rinse, repeat. That’s low PUFA. I guarantee that anyone who drinks a 6-to-12 pack of good beer daily then have pizza then ice cream WILL get fat and WILL get insulin resistant. I guarantee it.

I also ate PUFAs in meat, such as my wife’s chicken thighs wrapped with bacon. However, I also ate that as much as once per week before and after testing Brad’s theory, and am still losing weight.

I also think there’s something to be said for taste. I know Peter D. from Hyperlipid and Brad both doubt the theory that tastiness causes overeating. I’m not so sure. I make some white chocolate that’s relatively high in saturated fat (main ingredient is cacao butter, followed by coconut milk powder), and I could eat many of these if allowed. We found keto ice cream bars at Costco, high in cream. I could eat at least three of these each time, even if I ate a great dinner. I have eaten two, but try to keep to only one.

And these are all higher in saturated fat, and don’t seem to be blunting my hunger. So, I think taste is a factor that could override fat.

What do I do now?

I went back, mainly, to eating low fat, higher protein. I’m losing weight again and can get back into 36s but still can’t come close to 34s.

I am, nonetheless, still testing this. I’ve been buying suet, cooking it, adding it to meals. Again, though, if I don’t eat much of it, I get no benefit. Or if I get a benefit, it’s small. I have not yet eaten enough suet to get a large satiety effect.

If I know I’m going to fast the next day, I will try to eat higher saturated fat, normally through cacao butter and dark chocolate on some type of small amount of dairy (like ricotta now). I’m going to try another TKD, maybe with stearic acid ghee and spaghetti squash.

But overall, I’m trying to eat less fat.

Feasting-mimicking diet for carnivores
(Bob M) #2

Oh yeah, another possible difference between Brad and I. Brad can drink while fasting. In other words, he can have a glass or two of wine and not be hungry. If I drink any alcohol at all, I get hungry and have to eat. I drank gin last night, and had to eat afterwards. Not sure why I get hungry from alcohol and Brad does not.

(I admin it, that’s a terrible pun.) #3

I’m sure even the French will get fat from that.

I think I gained a pound, reading that sentence. :wink:

Thanks for sharing your experiment. :+1:

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #4

Some interesting thoughts there.

I watched a video by Tucker Carlson about a year ago, in which he tried to blame vegetable oils for everything that Dr. Lustig blames on fructose. I wasn’t convinced. I was more convinced recently by a couple of lectures given by Dr. Chris Knobbe, which were better-documented and far less hyperbolic. But I am still not convinced that polyunsaturates are the entire story, because industrial seed oils entered the U.S. food supply around the same time as cheap refined sugar, and I don’t see how the effect of the two of them can be disentangled.

My impression since going keto is that encountering something like the “French paradox” means we are looking at the problem from the wrong direction. From my limited experiences in France, I doubt they count their calories, and I know that the food is rich and satisfying. I also know that there is an interesting linguistic difference, in that the French for “I’m full” literally translates to “I’ve had enough,” so the French seem to be listening to their appetite hormones better than Americans. Why is this?

I think Peter is right not to believe that overeating is caused by good-tasting food. It was certainly the case when I was a carb-burner, but I find that on keto, my body starts saying “stop” at some point, regardless of how delicious the meat or bacon is. (And interestingly, the lower-carb I went, the more my favourite tasty snacks started tasting a lot like sugary and salty cardboard and stopped being so attractive.) These days, my eating past satiety seems to be what Dr. Cywes calls “emotional eating,” and I don’t believe it’s driven by the tastiness of my keto snacks; I’m pretty sure it’s the result of a psychological compulsion. (I have a number of psychological issues regarding food that result from having been raised by parents whose families struggled to survive during the Great Depression.)

It is also worth bearing in mind that William Banting’s low-carbohydrate diet originally came from France. His physician had heard about it from Dr. Claude Bernard at a medical conference in Paris. If you read A Letter on Corpulence, his “keto” diet includes some items we’d probably stay away from today (and I’d have to stay away from the Madeira in any case), but it worked for him. Cheap sugar comes from industrial methods invented in Britain around that time, but Banting avoided it on his new diet, and the seed oils hadn’t worked their way across the Atlantic yet, so I think it’s a safe guess that his cook was still using butter and lard. So yeah, low PUFA’s, but also low sugar. (It was how much better I felt from eliminating sugar from my diet that convinced me to bring the rest of my carb intake down to ketogenic levels.)

I’m not sure what these musings contribute to this conversation, but I guess the “too long; didn’t read” is a strong feeling that we almost certainly don’t have the full picture yet. I don’t believe that your experience with Brad’s diet is due simply to individual variation; I suspect there is something obvious in your experience—and Brad’s—that we are all missing.

(bulkbiker) #5

Tucker Goodrich maybe?

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #6

Probably. Don’t get old, lol!

(bulkbiker) #7

Unfortunately unavoidable even on keto/carni!

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #8

Maybe not (black swan?) :thinking:

(Bob M) #9

@PaulL and @MarkGossage I read “Tucker Carlson” as “Tucker Goodrich”, mainly because I’m familiar with him.

Even though I’ve been LC/keto for almost 7 years, I’ve learned my problem areas:

  1. Bacon – can’t stop eating it, will overeat it every time if left to my own devices;
  2. Yogurt – It’s like dessert to me; I can eat it even while full;
  3. Nuts – See bacon
  4. Anything sweet – See bacon.

I avoid these if I can, though yogurt is a perfect vehicle for chocolate/cacao butter, and because I’m concerned about oxalates in chocolate and there is some evidence calcium helps bind oxalates, I try to eat dairy + chocolate. Not always, though.

Other than when I got depressed from my Pritikin diet (very low fat, very high carb), I’m not an emotional eater. Or, I should say, I’m rarely an emotional eater.

The comment about carbs potentially causing insulin resistance was because when Brad was on Dr. Saladino’s podcast, Dr. Saladino kept saying over and over and over that carbs don’t cause insulin resistance. His theory apparently is that it’s PUFAs that cause insulin resistance.

While I still doubt PUFAs are “good”, I’m hesitant to place blame for everything on them.

And, as Paul astutely pointed out, if you have high PUFA and high sugar, you can’t tell what’s to blame.

@amwassil Will take a look at some time, probably tomorrow. Have families coming over for an outside pumpkin carving party, need to prepare.

I think if you’re one of the people who take in saturated fat and it has a beneficial effect (and if you go to Brad’s blog or follow him on Twitter, he’s got a lot of examples of people who are like this), I think that’s great. And it does have an effect on me, except that I have to eat so much fat to get it. If I don’t eat enough fat, I don’t get the benefit.

One last note I forgot to add. When I was testing to see whether very high protein meals caused a blood sugar rise, I ate lower (very low sometimes) fat to maximize protein intake. I was not hungry at all for a long time. It wasn’t quite the effect that a lot of saturated fat had, but it was still really good.

One last note (sorry). Brad shows a study where your body, for your next meal, releases whatever fat you ate last time. That might have benefits and perhaps even in me, but it’s really hard to distinguish that.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #10

Don’t worry, it’s one my joke posts.


I agree with this 100%. At some point, I feel almost like a physical block in my throat when “I’ve had enough”. I may have more food in front of me, I may have only eaten a small amount but I just can’t take another bite of anything once I get that blocked throat feeling… even if my emotions tell me I want to eat, I just can’t unless I want to bring back what I just ate for another look…

(Bob M) #12

Well, I’ve reached the conclusion it does not work at all for me.

We were having people over yesterday for outdoor pumpkin carving. For Thanksgiving, I typically make a bread from Einkorn wheat. I decided this year, I would make croissants. Since we were having people over, I thought this would be a great way to test, as I would have no leftovers.

So, I used the best butter I could find and fancy Italian flour. I followed a recipe for croissants. I made 16 of them, and ate one. Not only did I eat one, but a put a ton of butter (best I could find) on it.

I had already made pizza dough for our kids. This uses a starter and water. Instead of adding water, I added butter in accordance with the theory that butter is more satiating. Instead of making pizza, I made a dessert. Rolled these into tubes, rolled them into rolls (think cinnamon rolls). Brushed them with yet more butter and then added sugar to the tops.

I ended up eating 3 of these, all with additional butter.

So, that’s a freaking ton of the best butter I could buy and has starch. A perfect fit for Fire in a Bottle’s theory.

And I was so hungry when everyone left that I ate 4 slices of the pizza we bought (we bought too much, and had some left over).

Today, I still got hungry at the normal time I usually get hungry, around 11:00am.

So, if the theory is that butter + starch = satiety, with or without sugar, I think this is incorrect in my case.

If the French can control their weight using croissants, even while eating sugared food, then they are genetically different from me, have butter (or flour or both) that has some miracle satiating effect, eat differently than I do, etc.

I’m back to believing low carb is best, then maybe it’s wise to place saturated fat higher than polyunsaturated fat. I’m going to back to eating mainly lower fat meats and fasting.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #13

Might be interesting to let Brad know of this series of posts and see if he has some input. Don’t know how to do so, however, since I see no email or message links on his blog.

(Bob M) #14

@Abi34 and @PaulL Even though I’m not a huge believer in high palatability = less satiating, more calories eaten, I think it’s true to some extent. If sweetness does not matter, then I should be able to take the white chocolate I make and take out the sweetener. If sweetness does not matter, I should eat exactly the same unsweetened as sweetened. I’ll test this one day, but I guarantee that won’t happen (meaning I’ll eat more – a lot more – of the sweetened variety).

I’m 100% in agreement that if I eat low carb/keto/mainly meat, my sense of when I’m full is much better. But if I stray at all into sweetness, it no longer works.

(Bob M) #15

I’m buying his pork, so I can email him.

Another interesting test: bacon from his low-PUFA pork versus store-bought bacon: which one would you eat more of?

The only thing is they’d have to be processed in the same way. I bought two types of bacon from the local farm, “normal” and apple-wood smoked. We all liked the normal better. Unless the two bacons are prepared the same way, the test might be more about processing than fat.


I found this article on why some “foods” are addicting and there was a comment on why some real foods are self limiting.

I think it could boil down to the perfect balance of the flavor senses leading to the “can’t get enough” or a dominant flavor profile being more self limiting. Just my own opinion though.

(Joey) #17

@ctviggen Greatly appreciated the chance to read your n=1 experiences. Thank you for sharing. [Technically, a capital N=1 suggests to a statistician that the entire population size is only 1, while a lower case “n” refers to the sample size :wink:].

I’d like to ask…

Along the way during the past 7 yrs, have you ever had any coronary artery calcium (CAC) tests? If so, I’d be keenly interested in knowing whether the changes you’ve made in WOE either increased, reduced, or left unchanged any calcium deposits detected in your coronary arteries.

Along with feeling better and more energetic, many of us who adopt a carb-restricted WOE still have that nagging concern over cholesterol/heart issues… a result of the fact-starved “science” and cholesterol/statin marketing we’ve been fed for the last 50 yrs.

The CAC scan seems to be a real striptease for facts on a key aspect of heart heath. So I’d be curious as to how you’ve fared if you had any such tests.

Power on! :vulcan_salute:

(Anneke Amis) #18

Another consideration is genetics. I recently found that I had a GG gene variant of APOA2 that does not allow the correct utilization of saturated fats (more hunger, fewer ketones, direct to fat storage). I’ve been trying to eat Keto with other types of fats (more Meditteranean) this past month to see if it helps. Honestly, it ends up being low carb because I am finding it difficult to eat Keto or LCHF without saturated fats. I’ve been mostly eating olive oil and avocado oil. Around 10% of the population have this gene variant.

(Bob M) #19

Only one, after about 5.5 years low carb:

I was 55 at the time. I have “lower” LDL and TC, depending on test and when taken, higher HDL (56 highest) and lower trigs, again depending on when taken.

As for the APOA2, I have not had my genes tested yet. It’s on my list of things to do.

I am getting an Omega Quant done:

But this only tells you what’s in your blood, not in your fat cells.

Last week, I wanted to try a TKD again. So, I used a small spaghetti squash, cooked it, and added butter and stearic acid to it. It’s amazing how much fat starch can absorb.

I ate each half, along with meat and beef suet, the first meal after my workouts. That’s about 2-3 hours after my early morning workouts.

If there is an effect on satiety, it’s small and oddly occurs many hours after eating (FFAs still high?). That is, I get less hungry 4-5 hours after eating. I still, however, eat a normal dinner, since I’m eating at 9:30-10am then eating again at 7pm. Or at least I think it’s “normal”.

I actually avoid both olive oil and avocado oil. They are relatively high in PUFAs. Instead, I try not to eat any “oils” that aren’t solid at room temperature. As with everything, I can’t completely not eat them - I do like a salad every once in a while and love (brined) olives - but I avoid oils.

Other possibilities:

  • Dr. Cate Shanahan believes we still have PUFA in our fat cells if our HDL is not at least 60. Maybe I still have higher PUFA after almost 7 years of LC/keto? (My HDL is around 56, depending on test.)
  • Hormones. Maybe my leptin/ghrelin/whatever is/are still messed up?
  • Because I’m not getting the effect Brad is getting (he eats high saturated fat then doesn’t eat for 1-2 days), I’m basically just eating extra fat. While I’m not a huge believe in CICO, after a while, that much extra fat has to catch up to me.

(Bob M) #20

More thoughts on this.

Our fat cells must have some makeup they “like”. That is, even if you eat as much saturated fat as you can, will our fat cells take all that in? I would think not. They still likely need MUFAs and PUFAs. It could be that I have “enough” saturated fat in my fat cells, and they can’t handle any more. Others who get more of a benefit from eating saturated fat might not.

This past weekend, I made french fries as a test. I had some beef suet, so I made tallow and used that and some other tallow I already had in my fryer. I fried up some french fries with tallow, and had those with smashed burgers fried in tallow and cheese sticks, also fried in tallow.

The theory supposedly is that when McDonalds fried their fries in tallow (in the 50s? 60s?), we were all thin, and part of the reason is because of the fat. That is, we could eat fries because they were higher in saturated fat.

It does not work with me, or my wife. I ate the fries and was still hungry. If there was a satiating effect, I couldn’t tell.

I’ve reached the conclusion that carbs >>>>>> fat type for me. Every time in my life when I gained weight, it was beer/wheat/sugar, pretty much in that order. Though I remember getting out of boot camp from the military and gaining 15 pounds, mainly due to ice cream.

The other problem with this area is that everyone brings their own biases in. Gary Taubes = carbs; Tucker Goodrich = seed oils. @PaulL had asked about Tucker Goodrich. Here’s Mr. Goodrich responding to Mr. Taubes and placing the blame for obesity on seed oils, not sugar:

Who is right? I have no way of determining what we as a people ate over time, though I doubt it’s seed oils as much Mr. Goodrich thinks it is. And I got fat by eating carbs many times in my life, with limited seed oils. There were times when I also added seed oils (in particular, because they are in everything including things you think they wouldn’t be in), but I can easily gain weight eating just carbs with low seed oil intake.

So, I’ve concluded that, while seen oils probably aren’t good, carbs are more important than fat type. Fat type is secondary, though I do try to avoid eating PUFAs.