Real Women and Real Men Eat FAT

June 22, 2015

Real Women and Real Men Eat Fat 

 References: Raben Med and Sci in Sports, Wang Jr Clin Endo Metab, Volek, Jr of Applied Phys, Barone PloS One CLA and Testosterone

 If I hadn’t seen it a bunch of times, I wouldn’t believe it so avidly. But I’ve seen it.   As men and women switch to higher fat diets, and avoid carbohydrates, their androgens go up.     There isn’t that much literature on just fat because most of it appears to be focused on the protein.   And maybe it’s the protein, but my suspicion is that it is the fat. In fact, the best reviews of ancient, aboriginal diets shows that they had more fat in them, without coronary artery disease. 

 What we do know is that in the last couple of hundred years we have changed our diet in the Western world massively to much more carbohydrate, particularly of the refined sort. We are eating 5-10 times as much sugar as a century ago, and 50 times 300 hundred years ago.   And for the last 50 years, we have been encouraging ourselves to eat 10-12 servings of carbs and cutting our dietary intake of meat to lower levels, and fat to almost non-existent.   And in that time period we have noticed a decline in testosterone and rise in obesity

 So, what did Volek find in his study? He is one of our premier physiologists who has had a huge impact on our Olympic athletes.   He took 12 men and had them do bench presses and squats to exhaustion with blood testing before and after. What he concludes is that there was a meaningful relationship with exercise and testosterone levels, but an even more remarkable correlation with dietary fat. Yes fat! And in inverse relationship with testosterone to carbohydrates!   Click on his article and see the figures in his posting! It may be particular fats that matter.   

In Barone’s article he shows that CLA seems to be a particular stimulate to making more testosterone.   CLA is found mostly in milk and meat from ruminants.   That study was done in mice fed CLA or not. Mice have an advantage because you can control their diet and activity quite accurately. But they aren’t human. But if I were weight lifting, or exercising regularly, I would add CLA to my supplement list. It’s a pretty compelling study. 

 What about women?   Well, healthy estrogen levels are clearly of a benefit for brain health, bone health, heart disease health, and controversial with breast cancer. So, a meta-analysis by Wu shows that you can lower your estrogen levels dramatically with a low fat, high carb diet. That may be good in breast cancer, but not in normal healthy women. In a recent publication from the American College of Obstetrics, a high protein, low carb diet was shown to dramatically improve fertility.   Dr. Russell, in this presentation, had noticed that he couldn’t get women pregnant with IVF when they were on high carb, low-fat diets.   If they hiked up their protein and fat, their embryos were healthier and they got pregnant more easily. 

 WWW.   What will work for me?   I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my own blood fats, my waistline, my energy level, and my weight with a shift to fewer carbs and higher fat.   I think this is just another nail in the coffin for the low fat, high carbohydrate diet.   Our distant ancestors sought protein and fat in their diets.   And they were better for it.   If you want to lower your estrogen and testosterone, go ahead, have another donut. 

 Pop Quiz

  1. Eating a low-fat diet with a rich mix of whole grains, vegetables, and limited red meat and sugar is our current dietary guideline. T or F                          Answer:  True.   It may be partially right with the emphasis on less sugar, and ok if it encourages green low glycemic vegetables, but it is missing the boat on fat.   In fairness, vegetable oils and trans fats are poisons, so a low fat from those sources is critical. Just don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater; animal fat is fine (Butter, eggs, bacon, …and coconut and olive oil)
  1. Eating a high-carb diet will lower my testosterone.   T or F                         Answer:  True
  1. Exercise will raise my testosterone. T or F                        Answer:  Bingo
  1. A low-fat, high-carb diet will make it easier for a woman to get pregnant. T or F            Answer:   Diametrically wrong.   Low CARB, high protein and fat will boost her pregnancy chances.
  1. CLA may help me build muscles better than other fats.   T or F                     Answer:  Well, yes. Because it builds your testosterone significantly (if you are a mouse). But probably true in humans too.