That ‘White Meat Raises Your Cholesterol As Much As Red Meat!’ Study Is A Pile of Chicken $#@%

You probably saw the headlines, like this one from CNN: white meat raises your bad cholesterol just as much as red meat!  It’s complete nonsense.  Here’s why.  Transcript is below.

Hello, I’m Tom Naughton and this is the Fat Head Report.

Believe it or not, it’s already time for another edition of Meat Will Kill You.

For more than 40 years, the experts have been telling us that to avoid heart disease, we should eat less beef and more chicken. And we did.

Well, now that they’ve decided we should all be vegetarians — to save the planet you know — it was only a matter of time before they started going after chicken.

Take a look at this headline. White meat is just as bad for you as red beef when it comes to your cholesterol level, study says.

The article is about a study where researchers put people on a diet that was either high or low in saturated fat, then had them take turns eating a diet where the proteins came from plants, or chicken, or beef.

And here’s what they found.

Plant proteins had the healthiest impact on blood cholesterol, while the effects of white and red meats on participants’ cholesterol levels were identical when saturated fat levels were equivalent.

Now wait a second. Beef is much higher in saturated fat than chicken. So how do you get people eating chicken to consume as much saturated fat as people eating beef?

Well, it turns out the researchers kept the saturated fat and the same by adding butter. It’s right there in the study. The diet based on chicken included more butter.

Which means this study doesn’t tell us anything about chicken. It simply tells us that saturated fat raises LDL. Doesn’t matter if the saturated fat comes from beef or butter.

Ahh, yes, it’s scary stuff. So the real message is to avoid beef and butter, right? Wrong.

You don’t develop heart disease because your body makes too much LDL. You develop heart disease because your body makes the wrong kind of LDL.

When your coronary arteries become damaged or inflamed, LDL shows up to repair the damage. But if your body is producing LDL that’s small and dense, then those particles can become embedded in your arteries and trigger the formation of a plaque.

Here are a couple of quotes from studies on LDL particle size and heart disease:

LDL particles showed the strongest association with cardiovascular events when the particle composition, rather than the total concentration, was investigated.

The LDL subclass pattern characterized by a preponderance of small, dense LDL particles was significantly associated with a threefold increased risk of myocardial infarction.

Large, fluffy LDL isn’t the kind that becomes embedded in your arteries. In fact, large LDL not only won’t kill you, it appears to be protective.

People who produce a lot of large LDL are less likely to develop cancer. They’re less likely to become depressed. They’re less likely to come down with nasty infections.

And that’s why a number of studies have shown that older people with high LDL Live longer than older people with low LDL.

So with that in mind, let’s go back to that study telling us that white meat is just as bad as red meat.

Yes, when people ate beef, or chicken with butter, their LDL went up. But that’s because they produced more large LDL. They did not produce more small LDL. It’s right there in the study.

So for me, the real take away message from the latest Meat Will Kill You study is this. If you like beef, go ahead and eat it. And if you’d rather have chicken, add some butter.


Cirque du Chareva

      26 Comments on Cirque du Chareva

A couple of years ago, the girls became interested in trapeze and aerial silks. They began taking lessons at Expression City in nearby Brentwood.  Sara eventually lost interest, but Alana stuck with it, which makes me happy because it’s good exercise. (Sara prefers lifting weights at the gym with Dad.)

After driving the girls to classes for more than a year, Chareva decided what the heck, maybe she’d take some classes herself. She eventually signed up for aerial silks, trapeze and something called a lyra – a big hoop.

She’s talked about her classes, but I didn’t have much of a clue what kind of routines she was practicing. I just noticed her arm and back muscles, which were already pretty well-defined, became more defined and a bit bigger as well.

The school puts on two showcases per year, and a couple of weeks ago I finally got to see what Chareva has been doing in those classes. Pardon me for bragging on my wife, but I was more than a little impressed with her strength and agility. (I was also a little scared, because I don’t like heights and the performances are up high. Please don’t fall please don’t fall please don’t fall …)

Chareva is 46 years old — the oldest student in her classes. She’s doing some of these routines with women who are decades younger. Yes, it helps that she inherited jock genes from her father. But we’ve all seen people who inherited jock genes become schlubs by age 40 because of bad lifestyle choices. Chareva has kept herself in shape by eating well, working on the farm, and hitting the gym with me.

Anyway, here’s a sample of the three routines she performed at the showcase:

Alana had two impressive performances as well, but being a full-fledged teenager, she doesn’t want the world watching her on video. Maybe next year.


The Older Brother’s Oldest Son’s Fat Head Pizza – Director’s Cut!

Hey Fat Heads! – Long time.

As probably anyone who’s a fellow member of the LCHF/keto/low-carb/etc cult knows, The Oldest Son put up what turned out to be one of the most riotously popular recipes in the history of the interweb several years ago (original here).

As a matter of fact, I just Googled “Fat Head Pizza”  and got about 69,100,000 results. (!)

It’s logged almost 700 comments on the post and is still going strong.

Over the years, The Oldest Son has been doing occasional tweaks that improved the taste, texture, and prep. Of course, we always volunteered to try them out. The usual verdict was –  “hey, that’s even better – maybe you should update the recipe.”

As we’re coming up on the six year anniversary in a few weeks, he went ahead and put the updated version together. Update your bookmarks!


The Older Brother


The post about a pizza post Informally known as “Fat Head Pizza” turns six!

I’m going to start the same way I did back in 2013 by giving credit to where I found this legendary crust: We wanted to help popularize it since there weren’t as many of the great sites we have today, and this crust was exactly what people were looking for. Something close enough to fool people into thinking they were eating “real” pizza. I simply tested different toppings and did a step-by-step with pictures.

Throughout the years, “Did you see that pizza crust recipe Fat Head found?” evolved into, “Have you heard of Fat Head Pizza?” Ironically, on multiple occasions, I’ve been asked the latter. I’ll tell them the backstory, but it is a great feeling to know how popular Tom’s site and the community of people researching good science has grown.

How I make The Crust today:
2 C Mozzarella, shredded
1 C Parmesan, shredded
3 oz Cream Cheese
2 Eggs
.25 C Flaxseed meal (ground, not whole)
1.25 C Blanched Almond Flour (or 1.5C almond meal and omit flaxseed)
1 Tbl Whole Fennel
Garlic Salt (the Duct Tape of food): about 1tsp, to taste, from the shaker
Coconut Flour: pinch or two to lightly coat the parchment

Sauce of choice: pizza, ranch, pesto
Sliced cheese: enough to cover the pizza, around 15 slices –typically 1.5 packages
Fully cooked meat and/or veggie of choice
Seasonings (basil, Italian, pepper, etc)

-Set oven to 415(F) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle a LIGHT dusting of coconut flour on the parchment.

-Microwave (or however you prefer) the parm, mozz and cream cheese 1 min, stir with fork, then another 30sec. Beat the eggs while waiting.

-Stir in eggs, almond, flax and fennel. Start with fork, then wet hands and “knead the dough”. Pick up and roll outside-to-in to mix well.

-Wet hands again and form a roll the length of the cookie sheet. Wet hands, spread it to the edges, repeat as needed.

-Poke holes, sprinkle with garlic salt, then put in oven and set a timer for around 14 minutes

-Once slightly browned, take out and turn the broiler on high. Add sauce and remaining toppings.

– Broil until the cheese starts to bubble and browns to your preference. And there you are:

Great for weekly meal prep. To reheat in the microwave, only do about 20 sec increments. We’ve been told the crust freezes well.  Enjoy!

Combos I make the most:
Munster w/ bacon and chicken. Ranch dressing en lieu of pizza sauce
Provolone w/ peperoni and olives. Pesto sauce (or pizza sauce topped w/ whole basil leaves)
Pepper jack w/ sausage, roasted bell pepper, onion and olives. Pizza sauce

One successful experiment was pan fried slices of Spam with curry seasoning, then cut into squares. Sort of my version of a Hawaiian pizza but without pineapple because…I just refuse.

Pepperoni = delightful. Toasted pepperoni = is this Heaven?

Before you make the crust, line another cookie sheet with parchment or foil and spread pepperoni. (I always line cookie sheets for easier cleanup.) Bake about five minutes—just until they’re crisp. A minute more and they’re burnt, so set a timer and keep watch. Can also toast them under the broiler while you’re adding the toppings to the crust. A fun challenge is to not eat any while the crust is cooking. I’ve won that challenge zero times.

Updates from 2013:

I used to check every few minutes to poke holes in the large bubbles, but one time, while watching an intense PGA match, I forgot to set a timer. Fortunately, a pizza commercial came on which prompted me to jump out of the couch and frantically open the oven to find a perfectly browned and flattened crust. This scientific method led me to discover that 14min at 415(F) is perfect with my oven and less work.

Coconut flour: Great pizzas made with traditional ingredients sit on top of some flour. This adds flavor. A LIGHT dusting of coconut is the best substitute. Too much and it dries the crust out, so just grab a pinch or two and sprinkle by hand.

Flax seed: I need blanched almond flour (compared to almond meal) for most other recipes, so that’s all I buy now. Flax adds back some of that grain taste and texture, if you prefer.

Along that line, I like the taste and firmness of the parm/mozz combo now instead of just mozzarella for the crust.

Fennel is another way to give it that traditional aroma. Your kitchen will smell like pizza parlor.

Sliced vs shredded cheese for the top: just another personal preference. As a Midwesterner, I love cheese. Cheese loves me. But thin slices help me regulate how much I’m adding and keeps it evenly dispersed so I can taste more of the sauce and toppings instead of just a brick-o-cheese. Plus, there are a ton of options.

Thanks for reading!


Taking A Grief Break

      34 Comments on Taking A Grief Break

I haven’t been in a posting mood this week. On Sunday night, our dogs Coco and Misha managed to find yet another way through the backyard fence and went exploring. Misha came home alone around 5:00 AM. She’s come home alone before, but Coco always showed up shortly after.

By noon on Monday I suspected the worst, and I’m sorry to say the worst did happen. Chareva and Sara spent a chunk of the day driving around the area looking for Coco, and eventually found her by the side of the highway. At Alana’s insistence, we buried her on the property instead of having her cremated. Alana wants to plant a flower garden over the burial site.

That’s all for now. I’ll thank you for your condolences in advance.

That’s Coco on the left.


Why I Don’t Use (Or Need) Sunscreen

In my early thirties, I had a spot of skin cancer removed from my back. I was surprised at the diagnosis because I hadn’t sunburned my back since college, but the dermatologist told me skin cancer can show up many years after the sunburn that triggers it. I’ve never had another skin cancer, but I’m scheduled for a just-in-case visit to a dermatologist every 18 months or so.

During my most recent visit, the dermatologist informed me that the recommendation on sunscreen protection has been updated: we’re now supposed to apply SPF 50 sunscreen instead of SPF 35. Kind of like this, I suppose:

I responded to her advice by simply nodding. Truth is, I haven’t worn sunscreen in years. Back in the day, I slathered myself with the stuff because one of Woody Allen’s lines applied to me: “I don’t tan; I stroke.”

But after changing my diet and ditching the frakenfats in favor of real fats, I found I just don’t burn like I once did. I’m now the Bizarro Woody Allen: I don’t stroke; I tan. If I spend four hours doing farm work on a sunny afternoon, my arms and face get a little browner and that’s it. Kind of like this, I suppose:

Seeing how the change in diet changed my skin’s reaction to sunshine got me thinking, of course. Why would the sun be dangerous to humans in the first place? It makes no sense. We didn’t evolve indoors, and we didn’t evolve wearing SPF 50 sunscreen. We need sun on our skin to produce vitamin D naturally.

I also don’t remember skin cancer being a big issue when I was a kid in the 1960s. Out of curiosity, I went looking for information on rates of skin cancer over time. Here’s a quote from an article on sunscreens:

Americans are being diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, at steadily rising rates. According to the National Cancer Institute, the rate of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970s, from 7.9 per 100,000 people, in 1975, to 23 per 100,000, in 2016.

Hmmm … rates of melanoma have tripled since the 1970s, despite all those warnings to slather on the sunscreen. And what else has changed since the 1970s? … let me think for a moment … oh, I’ve got it: we’ve been ditching animals fats in favor of “heart healthy” vegetable oils.

That’s just an association, of course. But it’s one that makes biological sense. The fats you eat become the fats in your skin. If those fats never existed in the human diet and produce inflammation, well, go figure … your skin doesn’t function as it should.

I didn’t exactly find a wealth of literature on diet and skin cancer when I went looking, but what I did find is interesting. Take this study, for example:

Samples of subcutaneous adipose tissue were taken from 100 melanoma patients and 100 matched controls in Sydney in 1984–1985 and were analyzed for constituent fatty acids. The mean percentage of linoleic acid in the triglycerides of the subcutaneous adipose tissue (PLASA T) of these subjects was substantially higher than that in a similar group examined in 1975–1976. In addition, the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids was found to be higher in the melanoma patients than in the controls (p < 0.01), and there were significantly more controls than patients who had a low PLASA T (p < 0.01). Relevant literature is quoted and the suggestion is made that increased consumption of dietary polyunsaturates may have a contributory effect in the etiology of melanoma.

Fascinating. Compared to people just nine years earlier, people examined in 1984-1985 had substantially more plant oils in their subcutaneous tissue. (Hooray for “heart healthy” dietary guidelines around the world!) And the real clincher: the melanoma patients had a higher percentage of polyunsaturated fats, leading the researchers to conclude that increased consumption of dietary polyunsaturates may have a contributory effect in the etiology of melanoma.

In other words, eat your margarine and perhaps increase your risk of skin cancer.

There are also studies done on rats and mice, like this one and this one, demonstrating that hydrogenated vegetable fats and diet high in polyunsaturated vegetable fats accelerate the development of skin cancers, while omega-3 fats inhibit the process.

So after personal experience and a bit of research convinced me natural fats are a better protection against skin cancer, I stopped using sunscreen. I didn’t consider it harmful, just unnecessary.

Turns out it may be harmful as well. Here are some quotes from a recent article by Reuters:

The active ingredients of commonly-used sunscreens end up in the bloodstream at much higher levels than current U.S. guidelines from health regulators and warrant further safety studies, according to a small study conducted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration researchers and published on Monday.

The study of 23 volunteers tested four sunscreens, including sprays, lotion and cream, applied to 75 percent of the body four times a day over four days, with blood tests to determine the maximum levels of certain chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream conducted over seven days.

The study found maximum plasma levels of the chemicals it tested for – avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and in one sunscreen ecamsule – to be well above the level of 0.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) at which FDA guidelines call for further safety testing.

You know how every time a study demonstrates that statins have nasty side effects, we always see quotes from doctors telling us to continue taking statins because the benefits outweigh the harms, blah-blah-blah? Same thing here:

The results in no way suggest that people should stop using sunscreen to protect against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, researchers said.

“The demonstration of systemic absorption well above the FDA guideline does not mean these ingredients are unsafe,” Dr. Robert Califf and Dr. Kanade Shinkai said in an editorial that accompanied the study in JAMA.

Okay, maybe there’s nothing unsafe about elevated levels of avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene floating around in your bloodstream. But I’m pretty sure my ancestors didn’t chew on avobenzone plants, so I’d rather not take the chance.

Eat natural fats and get some sun … but if you’re fair-skinned, build up your tolerance over time so you don’t burn. I think that makes more sense than slathering the biggest organ in your body with chemicals that seep into your blood.

And as usual, my thanks to all the previous the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committees for producing dietary advice that ensures doctors of all types – from cardiologists to dermatologists – will never run short of patients.


My Thanks To The Dietary Guidelines Committee (Again)

Dear Members of the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee:

I wrote to you eight years ago to thank you and all the previous committees for your tireless work on the USDA’s dietary guidelines. As I explained back then, your guidelines and the federally approved school lunches based on them are giving my daughters a competitive advantage in life by causing other kids to become tired, experience difficulty concentrating in class, etc.

My prediction that my daughters would bypass most of their classmates is looking pretty good, by the way. My older daughter was recently selected to participate in a math competition. Only the top 50 math students from her high school’s 900 freshmen and sophomores were invited. She ended up with the highest score among the 50.

Granted, her math abilities are largely genetic. But when I see her eating brain-building foods like fatty meats and eggs while so many of her classmates live on “heart healthy” vegetable oils, processed grains and other frankenfoods, I can’t help but think your dietary guidelines tipped the scale in her favor.

But I’m not writing today to thank you for that. No, today I’m writing to thank you for weakening each succeeding generation of Americans so thoroughly, I no longer fear growing older like I once did. Thanks to your dietary advice, you’ve guaranteed that if old guys like me take care of ourselves, we’ll remain stronger and healthier than many guys who are young enough to be our children or grandchildren – and it will stay that way for years to come.

I’m thinking back to a story that hit the news several years ago. Some knife-wielding young punks tried to rob a group of tourists on a bus. The robbery was foiled when a 65-year-old man grabbed one of the young punks and snapped his neck. Later that year, I read a news story about a man in his 70s who cold-cocked a 20-something who attempted to mug him in a men’s room.  Just plain punched out the punk.

What is going with these butt-kicking old guys? I thought at the time. Well, now I know. Those young would-be robbers were probably weak, tired, sick, diabetic, soft-boned … heck, there are all kinds of ways your dietary advice could help us old guys come out on top in a physical confrontation.

And thanks to your tireless efforts to convince Americans to cut back on meat, eggs and animal fats and eat even more hearthealthywholegrains!, the weakening of each succeeding generation is continuing. Back in 2012, researchers reported that Baby Boomers aren’t as healthy as their parents were at the same age:

Obesity among baby boomers is more than double the rate of their parents at the same age, and boomers with three or more chronic conditions was 700 percent greater than the previous generation.

In 2017, Bloomberg news reported this:

Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same ages did 10 to 15 years ago, according to the journal Health Affairs.

And now an article in the Daily Mail informs us that Millennials aren’t even waiting until middle age to decline physically:

It’s all downhill from 27, new research reveals. At least if you’re a millennial, chronic conditions and diseases start to rear their heads in your late-20s, and from there things continue to deteriorate, according to a new Blue Cross Blue Shield report.

Millennials, as a generation, are in overall poorer health than their predecessors, Gen X-ers, with higher rates of depression, hyperactivity, substance misuse, type 2 diabetes and Crohn’s disease, among other chronic conditions.

When the researchers narrowed their focus to older millennials, ages 34-36, they found higher rates of nearly all of the top 10 most common conditions than were seen in generation X at the same ages – despite the fact that 83 percent of millennials think they are in ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ health.

Yup … each succeeding generation is getting fat, sick and tired at a younger age, while testosterone levels among men keep dropping compared to previous generations.  I’m waiting for bumper stickers that read 30 is the new 50!

Give it another generation, and your awesome dietary advice will revolutionize sports. Teams will be out-bidding each other for players over 50. People will follow the senior leagues in golf and tennis because the youngsters just can’t compete at the same level.

But sports are just the beginning.  Soon we’ll see 25-year-olds in big cities crossing the street to avoid walking past a couple of 60-year-olds lurking on the corner — you can never be too careful with these old guys, you know.

Or imagine an urban road-rage incident: some 30-year-old believes he was cut off in traffic, so at the next red light, he starts to exit the car to confront the offending driver… until his wife yanks on his arm, screaming, “Are you trying to get yourself beaten to death? Look at him – he’s at least 70!”

So thanks again, USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee. I used to worry that I’d feel over the hill by the time I turned 60. But since I ignore your advice and so many young people don’t, I’m looking pretty darned fit and healthy by comparison.