Book Review: Fat Fast Cookbook

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When Dr. Robert Atkins found himself with a patient who was particularly resistant to losing weight or stuck in a long weight-loss stall, he recommended what he called a Fat Fast: a diet of around 1,000 calories per day with 90% of the calories coming from fat.  (This was a short-term intervention, not a long-term diet.)  The idea was to force the patient into nutritional ketosis.

I’ve never tried going quite that high in fat (I feel better when I don’t skimp on the protein), but I know very high-fat diets have worked wonders for people.  On the low-carb cruise a few years ago, I met a Swedish gentleman named Sten who’d been obese most of his life, but lost a ton of weight after he switched to diet of more than 70% fat.  (That’s him with Chareva in the picture below.  If you look closely at his shirt, you can see a picture of him with a pair of his fat-guy pants.)

Jimmy Moore also broke out of a cycle of creeping weight gain by switching to a diet of 80% fat.  He’s now lost more than 70 pounds since last May.

If you’ve considered a Fat Fast, you may be asking yourself the same question I asked Jimmy Moore when he visited last July:  what the heck do you eat to keep your fat intake that high?  I like fat, but who the heck wants to gulp down heavy cream or butter every day?  That sounds monotonous, even for fat-lovers.

Not surprisingly, low-carb cookbook author Dana Carpender (along with friends Amy Dungan and Rebecca Latham) decided to overcome that objection by writing a cookbook full of very high-fat recipes.

The Fat Fast Cookbook (available as Kindle book or PDF) isn’t a guidebook for stuffing yourself with thousands of calories of fat per day.  You could certainly do that by eating multiple portions of the recipes, but the book is intended for people who want to try the kind of fat fast recommended by Dr. Atkins.  Consequently, the recipes are for snacks and meals that are also low in calories.

Nearly a third of the book is dedicated to explaining the science behind a fat fast and the proper way to do one.  Here’s an example of the research cited in an opening chapter:

Next, Kekwick and Pawan [the researchers in a 1956 study] put obese subjects on one of four different diets. The diets all had the same calorie count—1,000 calories per day—but the composition of those calories varied: 1,000 calories of a mixed or balanced diet, 1,000 calories with 90% from carbohydrate, 1,000 calories with 90% from protein, or 1,000 calories with 90% from fat. If it were true that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, then patients should have lost roughly the same amount of weight on all four diets. Did they? No. Indeed, on the high-carbohydrate diet the patients actually gained a little weight, overall—on just 1,000 calories per day. They lost some weight on 1,000 calories per day of a balanced diet, and even more on 1,000 calories per day with 90% from protein. But overwhelmingly, patients lost the most weight on 1,000 calories per day when 90% of those calories came from fat. Kekwick and Pawan concluded, So different were the rates of weight-loss on these isocaloric diets that the composition of the diet appeared to outweigh in importance the intake of calories.

Finally, Kekwick and Pawan determined that a group of patients could maintain their weight on 2,000 calories per day of a mixed or balanced diet. Then they put them on a diet of protein and fat, but very little carbohydrate. They found that their patients could consistently lose weight on 2,600 calories per day so long as carbohydrate was sharply restricted. This was one of the early pieces of research establishing a standard low-carb, Atkins-style diet for long term weight loss and maintenance.

Before you jump in with both feet, however, Carpender and her co-authors provide some warnings.  If you’re a diabetic on glucose-lowering medications (and perhaps even if you’re not), you should have a doctor supervise you before switching to such a radical change in diet.  In fact, you may not to want to take up a fat fast as your first change in diet at all:

We are assuming that most people reading this are already on a low carbohydrate diet. If, instead, you have been eating American Standard (full of junk), or a low fat/high carbohydrate diet, whether of processed food or whole grains and beans, you have trained your body to run on glucose rather than fat. That can be changed, but it takes a transition period. Your body takes a few days to a few weeks to get with the program and create the enzymes necessary to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose. Because of this, going straight to a Fat Fast from a diet rich in carbohydrate will very likely make you feel awful for a few days—your body simply won’t know where to get energy. We very much recommend that you go on a standard low carbohydrate diet first—we’re big fans of The New Atkins For a New You, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, and Protein Power.

Jimmy Moore weighs in (sorry, Jimmy, couldn’t resist the pun) in the introductory chapters to describe the mistakes he made with his previous low-carb diet and how a high-fat diet re-ignited his weight loss.

Then it’s on to the recipes – 50 in all — which are grouped by fat content.

In the Below 80% Fat (just barely below) category, there are recipes for Asian noodles, mini cheesecakes, broccoli-cheese soup, and a breakfast scramble.  (Don’t ask me to post the recipes.  I’m not giving way the authors’ work.)

In the 80%-83% Fat category, you’ll find hot cereal (with coconut and flax meal instead of grains), chocolate pudding, deviled eggs, creamed spinach, jalapeno poppers and stuffed mushrooms, among many others.

Moving all the way up to the 88% Fat and Higher category, you’ll find recipes for coconut flax bread, fettuccine alfredo (using shiratake noodles) and Mocha Mascarpone Mousse.

I haven’t had a chance to try the recipes yet, but they certainly look appealing.  I don’t feel a need to go on a calorie-restricted fat fast, but I’ll add many of these dishes to my to-be-tried list just because they sound delicious.

By the way, there are recipes for salads and other less-indulgent dishes in the book as well.  It’s just not as much fun to show pictures of those.

If you’re interested in trying a fat fast – or just want more recipes in your low-carb repertoire – I’d recommend giving this book a look.  If the diet isn’t boring, you’re more likely to stick with it.

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can order a PDF version here. The book should also be available in paperback soon.


43 thoughts on “Book Review: Fat Fast Cookbook

  1. Miri

    Another extremely interesting fact about high-fat diets is that they have been proven to play a significant role in cancer treatment and prevention. Cancer tumours feed on glucose – they cannot extract energy from fat, as healthy cells can, due to mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus, restricting carbs whilst increasing fat quite literally starves the cancer whilst still nourishing the patient.

    It further seems that there is a direct link between high insulin levels caused by high dietary carbs, and developing and dying from cancer. High-carb diets are quite literally “cancer-friendly”, creating the environment inside the body the cancer needs to thrive. Fat (and protein) do the opposite.

    More info here:

    Since my dad had colon cancer, the people who don’t know any better warn me to stay away from red meat. If only they knew …

  2. Rebecca Latham

    Hi, Tom!

    So fun to see the new cookbook being reviewed by you, and fun to see my name in your column! I’ve just recently gotten my own copy and I’m looking forward to trying some of Dana and Amy’s recipes myself. Although I’m not technically fat fasting, a lot of the recipes look like they would be good additions to my Nutritional Ketosis way of eating.

    Please let us know how you like the recipes as you play around with them. That chocolate pudding recipe is one of mine, and I must admit that I indulge in it at least a couple of times per week!


    The recipes look delicious, whether you’re aiming for nutritional ketosis or not.

  3. Jim Butler

    Will download this later. Always looking for new things to inject into our meals…and even at 6am, those poppers look REALLY good right now…


  4. Kelly B

    Talk about good timing! I’ve been reading Jimmy’s Nutritional Ketosis posts recently and was thinking I needed to do an increased fat approach to shed 10 pounds that have slowly crept back after I lost 50 doing straightforward low-carb Paleo. I have bought the Kindle version and am looking forward to trying these recipes!

  5. Janknitz

    Re cancer: I think it’s scary that many people turn to vegan diets to “treat” their cancer. Treat their cancer to an all carb diet!

    I got the book and the cream of broccoli soup is great. I enjoyed the hot “cereal”, too. Next up for me is the garlicky creamed mushrooms. Can’t wait!

    I don’t expect to ever develop cancer, but if I do, a vegan diet won’t be on my treatment list. I’d rather die.

  6. Nick Young

    Are all the noodle recipes you referenced from Shirataki? Or are there other pastas that they’re using to stay low-carb?

    The ones I mentioned are Shiratake.

  7. Debi

    Thanks for letting us know about this new cookbook. I popped right over to B&N and bought it. Now I can’t wait to get home to check it out!

    I can’t wait to try a few recipes myself.

  8. Firebird

    My chocolate “pudding” consists of coconut milk, dash of vanilla extract, TBS cocoa and stevia, xylitol or sucralose.

  9. The Older Brother

    Barnes & Noble sends their regards. My Nook weighs about three pounds more from all of the books I’ve bought online after seeing them here. Maybe that’s just my imagination.

    Worth every penny, though.


    Those must be some heavy bits you’re downloading.

  10. Peggy Holloway

    Gave the Kindle book to Ken for his birthday and he is nagging me to “help him try it.” We both want to be in full ketosis for our summer cycling adventures and he let his weight creep up a bit over the winter. I’m always up for getting my ketones higher. (Ken was at .6 and I was at 1.6 yesterday but we’d like to get them higher). So, we’re thinking of a 3 day fat fast the first part of May when I’m done with my college teaching. I don’t have time for the regular “feedings” when I’m teaching, so I want to be home on the days we do this. In the meantime, I want to try some of the recipes. I had been reluctant to use shirataki because of the soy, but the book has resolved those issues for me and will be great to have another vehicle for high-fat sauces, butter, coconut oil, etc.

    I consider noodles of any sort to be a cream-and-butter delivery system.

  11. junebug

    I got the book and have tried many of the recipes. the Mac and Cheese is definately a keeper, as are the Asian Noodles.

    My only problem is that I get really hungry on the traditional fat fast. I know all the literature says you will not be hungry because the fat will keep you full; not me. I’m going to have to play with it, see if eating larger but fewer meals will do the trick.

  12. Rae F.

    I can’t help but wonder how that bread would be toasted with some homemade mayo from fresh eggs slathered on it along with some heirloom tomatoes and butter lettuce and some thick slices of bacon. BLT’s are about the only thing I miss if you couldn’t tell.

    There’s a recipe for mayonnaise in the book too, so give it a try.

  13. Slartybartfast

    That pic on Sten’s shirt ought to be made into a poster for the evils of carbs, at least for some folks. Thanks for posting that. The e-ook is a bargain. Just received the download from which has a PC Kindle reader (free download). Everyone step up and help support the Cause.

    It’s quite a deal for $4.99.

  14. Howard Lee Harkness

    “Kekwick and Pawan [the researchers in a 1956 study]”

    Oh, wow! I had been looking for that study. I had read in a couple of places that there was a 1950’s study that concluded that macronutrient ratio was far more important that the number of calories for weight loss, but that they were silenced by Ancel Keys. But I could not find the study, because I did not have a year or the names of the researchers.

    Now I found it:

    Probably can be found elsewhere, too.

    Thanks, Tom!

  15. Maria Jallow

    Ha ha ha, fun to see SSS, the first I see! That’s what we call him in Sweden (Sten Sture Skaldeman). He is awsome and getting more and more of us to follow his ideas! I get in periods in maximum ketosis by just eating proteins, butter, coconutoil, eggs and nothing else and this last time I lost 3 kilograms in 3 days. You can get keto-flue but when you pass that – you feel great!
    I must put more of my recepies in my english blog form my swedish! Enjoy!

    I spoke to him quite a bit on the last cruise. Very interesting guy.

  16. Marilyn

    @Rebecca Latham: What kind of sweetener(s) do you use in the book? I avoid splenda, and of course, aspartame. Thanks.

  17. Cathy

    While you are on the topic of recipes, could you post Chareva’s recipe for the peanut butter bars mentioned on your episode of the llvlc show the other day? Puleeze?

    I’ll get her on it.

  18. emi11n

    Wow, the recipes sound great, and the science is fascinating–will definitely buy it! I have Dana’s 500 Paleo Recipes book, and I cook from it several times a week. There are so many useful recipes and techniques in it. Every paleo eater should have it! Very eager to see the new book!

  19. Miri

    Sorry to hear about your dad; I am currently trying to get mine – high blood pressure, high blood sugar, statins – off the Gawd-awful doctor-prescribed low-fat nonsense and onto a proper human diet – think I might see a Father’s Day present here!

  20. Amy Dungan

    Thanks for the review Tom! We really worked hard on this book, so we are thrilled to see people enjoying it!

    (P.S. If guys really wanna treat, try the asparagus with chipolte mayo. It’s one of my new favs!)

    I plan to try several of them.

  21. Jeanne

    I’m hoping the book will come out soon in book form.

    I believe it will be out in book form in a month or so.

  22. Rebecca Latham

    Marilyn, I always use liquid Stevia extract. I get it at Whole Foods. To my taste, 4-6 drops gives the same amount of sweetness as a teaspoon of regular sugar.

    It’s great in coffee too.

  23. Archie Robertson

    Excellent review, Tom! Thank you so much… even though we’d already have considered buying this, Anne and I are definitely going to get it now!
    And of course, how could we miss a lovely production by three of our favourite people, Dana, Amy and Rebecca?


  24. Marilyn

    Thanks, Rebecca. I’ll have to get some. For years, I’ve used the Stevita straight powdered stevia (1/32 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon of sugar, or something like that) and Stevita “spoonable” stevia/erythritol mix. So I’m a stevia “believer.” 🙂

  25. Kathy

    Thanks for your review of this great little e-book! The recipes alone are worth the minimal price and I’m hoping it will help me get past that brick wall I keep hitting. I worry that aggressively losing weight will result in too much muscle tissue loss – certainly don’t need that at my age (65). This may just be the answer. Although I’ve been low carb for a long time, I probably need to cut back on the protein. Seems I can’t get past that old belief that I need lots of protein for muscle maintenance. It is so instinctive now, that I just naturally gravitate toward high protein/low carb foods (meat and eggs) without regard for the fat content.

    I’m looking forward to this next experiment.

    If you’re able to do some strength training, that will help prevent muscle loss. Jimmy Moore gained muscle mass while on his ketogenic, protein-restricted diet.

  26. Jim Butler

    I haven’t found liquid Stevia yet. I’d actually switched to Truvia, because it seemed that the other stuff in it was less apt to cause problems.

    I’ll swing by Whole Wallet (/sarc off) next time I go by one and grab some.


    That’s where Chareva buys it.

  27. Firebird

    Some good recipes in the book, some I would not bother with because I just don’t like going all around town looking for the ingredients, which was what saved me from Ornish’s plan in the 1990s.

    Still, this book is loaded with recipes that are ideal for keto/low carb even if you are not doing a fat fast. Just add back in some protein. One of the things my mom would do from time to time with her home made mac and cheese was to add ham. The recipe for mac and cheese in this book is ideal for that!

  28. Carole Sampson

    That’s a definite for my cookbook collection! The first low carb cook book I bought was by Dana Carpender, and I still make her sunflower and sunflower crackers from that.

  29. Alan Beeston

    These are great recipes! I think it is so important to just find a fat burning product or system you feel comfortable with in order to reach your weight loss goals.

  30. Naomi

    I bought this cookbook a few weeks back and immediately fell in love. Dana Carpender (We call her D. Carb at my house) is awesome. Her recipes regularly make my entire family drool, which is saying a lot with four kids in the house. Jimmy Moore is my hero. I had never heard of fat fasts or nutritional ketosis before I saw the Fat Fast cookbook, but I’ve since done a ton of research and tweaked my diet once again. Looking forward increasing my health and sense of well-being even further. Thank you, pioneers, for working so hard to get this message out. My life has certainly improved as a result.

  31. Marilyn

    Ugh! I was brought back to fat-phobic reality this afternoon when I was leafing through an old magazine and saw a recipe for a 12-16-lb Thanksgiving turkey. Along with various spices, etc., the recipe called for a quart (32 oz) of vegetable broth and one measly tablespoon of canola oil. I know exactly how that turkey would taste — like damp cardboard, with a hint of tired onion from the vegetable broth.

  32. Kristin

    I’d sure like to buy the book but since I don’t have Kindle et al and don’t use Pay Pal, looks like I’m stuck. I’ll have to wait for the paper version to come out. THe book looks like it has some good ideas. After a lifetime of low fat focus an influx of new ideas for adding the fat back in would be nice.

    I believe the paperback will be out in about a month.

  33. Firebird

    I am day 2 into this with three more days to go. I can say that the recipes that I have tried are outstanding. I would certainly add these to my meals when I bring protein back into the diet, though that will lower the fat percentages some.

    One problem is hunger. Even on day two, the portions do not last beyond 2 hours before hunger kicks in. I go to bed hungry and wake up hungry. That’s no good. Hopefully, that will change in the coming days.

    The portions are small, which is why I’ll probably try these recipes for the enjoyment, but not as a part of a thousand-calorie diet.


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