It’s easy to point the finger at a sole suspect and call it a day, tucking yourself into bed, bliss in the knowledge that you’ve removed the one thing that was holding you back. Many diet books have been written on that exact premise. The authors give the people want they want, a simple answer to a complex problem. What’s driving the modern obesity epidemic?
The sensible folk might say it’s a combination of many highly-variable factors. Nutrition, genetics, environment, these can all play deciding roles in making you fat or fit, or hovering somewhere in-between.
And I’m not here to contest that. Putting all your eggs in one basket isn’t the recipe for longterm success. For example, you might create a calorie deficit, lose a stone over the span of two months, then slam into a rebound after failing to improve on your five hours of restless sleep.
This is exactly why I drew up the Apex Lifestyle. I might not be able to go back in time and change your genetics, but I can suggest how you can make the most of a bad situation.
But this is doesn’t mask the fact that some foods will simply cost you far more progress than others. Nutritional awareness shouldn’t be condensed to calories in vs calories out. There’s much going under the hood. So instead of simply thinking of how much you’re eating, you should strongly consider how much you’re digesting and absorbing.
In the improved equation, it becomes obvious that there are certain foods that don’t go through the digestive process without causing damage. Here’s where fingers get pointed. Which food plays so dirty that it should be excluded from a healthy diet?
There are many answers to pick from here. But there are two main camps. Excess amounts of fats did this to us. Maybe it was the carbs.
Red meat has borne a large brunt of the abuse over the past half-century, and as I’ve done my best to explain in an article, the claims are completely bunk.
So with red meat being a saturated fat source, surely that frees us up to focus on carbs as the harbinger of doom?
And that’s not to let carbs off the hook, the daily sugar rollercoaster does create its own set of problems, and the plants that provide the carbs have an armada of inflammatory toxins. Unlike proteins and fats, carbs aren’t an essential nutrient. Which means your daily sugar requirement is a big fat zero.
But we’ve actually managed to curb our carb intake in recent years, and the rapid ascent of obesity isn’t showing signs of slacking. There seems to be more to the picture than sugar overdoses.
In the grand scheme of pointing and shaming, carbs run-up as a close second. And if you’d like to dive a bit deeper into that side of things, my carnivore introduction runs through the biggest plant toxins. But in this particular post, we’ll turn the scope on the big bad.
So in the grand scheme of pointing and shaming, carbs run-up as a close second. And if you’d like to dive a bit deeper into that side of things, my carnivore introduction runs through the biggest plant toxins. But in this particular post, we’ll turn the scopes on the big bad.
Vegetable oils, also known as seed oils, or factory fats. They belong right near the top of the list of the unfortunate inventions of the 20th century. It’s essentially a byproduct made through the process of seeds. Initially we used it for engine oil, but when the gate was thrown wide open by the purge of saturated fats, vegetable oils were given a seat at the head of the dinner table. It became the healthy alternative to the artery-clogging likes of butter, lard, and red meat.
So to give you the shortest end of the story of the rise to power of the seed oils, America was thrown into a state of panic after President Eisenhower had a heart attack. The government threw money at anyone who could find the solution to the climbing rates of heart disease.
Dr Ancel Keys then used cherry-picked data to trace a line from saturated fat intake, cholesterol, and mortality. Once the American Heart Association, seed oils became the largest source of fat in the western diet. Incidentally, the AHA had the two creators of margarine on their board. No biases there.
In the ensuing decades, Ancel Keys and his associates have deliberately covered up studies that disproved the cholesterol theory, including studies that they funded in search of more fuel for the fire.
One such study, the MRFIT trial took 12,000 high-risk males through interventions to reduce smoking, and replace saturated fat with vegetable oils.
A control group was included, where the men did not get any assistance with their diet or smoking habits. After the seven years were up, the control group had fewer deaths. Despite the fact that the intervention group had their smoking cut down by 50%.
The study seemed to suggest that adding in vegetable oils resulted in worse cardiovascular outcomes. Could these highly processed, highly unstable fats really be bad for human consumption? Perhaps it’s also a coincidence that the rising rates of diabetes run on a parallel timeline to the emergence of vegetable oil as the world’s favourite fat source.
And if you’re wondering if upgrading to olive oil puts you in the clear, it probably doesn’t. Seed oils are everywhere, and invariably getting mixed in with more expensive oils. They’re just too cheap to be left out of production. So here are a few telling examples of foods high in seed oils.
A Potent Source Of Inflammation
Here’s a word that’s thrown in during any campaign to discredit a food group. Unfortunately, many also lack a basic understanding of what that term means. Inflammation is the emergency setting of the body, and it’s not inherently a problem. The process of exercise requires the response of inflammation in order to get to the result of becoming stronger. So we need it. But when that switch gets thrown on again and again, it can push the body into an overly stressed state. Without being able to relax, you just don’t recover as well. And that thread ends with you not having enough energy, with progress becoming a pipedream.
Food happens to be one of the best ways of achieving this unwanted state of chronic inflammation. After eating the trigger food, the alarm bells can go on for hours. And what if you were to absorb that food into your body, so it could continue to play an active role in disrupting your metabolism? That’s exactly the deal you get with seed oils.
They can cause inflammation in numerous ways. For one, they are highly oxidisable, meaning they are unstable and likely to cause free radical damage once inside the system. You can think of it someone going into your neighbourhood and throwing stones at all the windows.
But the trouble can’t end there, because seed oils are also highly likely to come saddled with plant toxins. Biscuits come with gluten embedded in the wheat, and nuts will have high amounts of lectins and oxalates. So there tend to be some extras thrown in with the package.
Linoleic acid then serves to keep the fat cells in growth mode, by limiting hyperplasia (where cells break apart) and increasing hypertrophy. Not the kind we like, because in this case the anabolic potential gets gifted over to your fat stores.
This ends with the emergence of peripheral insulin resistance, where the body becomes terrible at absorbing and storing sugars, leading to constant blood sugar spikes after reasonably healthy meals. The sugar rollercoaster is its own special source of inflammation, as the periods of hypoglycemia put the body into emergency mode.
A Complete Lack Of Nutrition
Now it’s time to drive the point home. The apex diet, by all logic, should be made largely of nutrient-dense foods. There is much more going under the bonnet than calories getting shuttled in and out. There are the macronutrients, and then the micronutrients, all with their own purposes. It’s not enough to just make sure you’re not running low on protein. There’s Vitamin A, the B’s, D, E, K, and then a huge array of minerals that can easily become deficient in a low-calorie or just poorly sourced diet.
So when you pick up a vegetable oil in the supermarket aisles, you could be using it to hit your fat quota. A low-fat diet would generally be a terrible idea, tanking the hormones, and sending you to the bottom of the energy barrel. Fat is an essential nutrient, vegetable oils are a fat source, but the goodwill ends there.
The problem here is that these vegetable oils provide no additional nutrient value, besides being a vehicle for inflammation. They contain little to no of the fat-soluble vitamins, whereas animal fat will have highly bioavailable amounts of A, D, E and K.
Then there are the polyphenols, which incidentally are not found in human biochemistry whatsoever. And to make matters worse, any nutrients are highly unlikely to reach your system, as vegetable oils are unstable and prone to oxidation. Meaning by the time they’ve been extracted, transported, stored, and bought, they’re practically empty shells.
How Do You Replace Vegetable Oils?
None of this is meant to toot the horn of low-fat diets. While that certainly would resolve the problem of inflammatory seed oils, it’s also a great way to scuttle your energy and libido. Fat is an essential nutrient, and you should be getting lots of it. So let’s run over the other options.
By now you should definitely be at peace with the fact the seed oils have no place on your dinner table. So what do you do now? Removing those couple of tablespoons from your salad can leave you short of your fat quota for the day.
Many might simply be tempted to do a straight swap for olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. Unfortunately, while olive and avocado are fruits and therefore not in the danger category, they’re also prone to oxidation and lacking in micronutrients. Whereas the coconut is, would you believe, a nut. It’s high in salicylates and can irritate the gut lining.
Which leaves us with animal fat. But we should thin the crowd down a little further. Chicken and pork are monogastric animals, and are typically fed grain, which is a seed. Because they only have one stomach, they store the seed oils included in their diet, making them a reasonably high source of Omega 6.
This brings us down to two major candidates for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. Ruminant fat, and butter. There’s a special trick going on here, that enables them to dodge the ban hammer. Ruminants have four stomachs, giving them the miraculous ability to convert seed oils into saturated fats, which have the opposite effect on your body.
It’s no coincidence that this bit of wisdom once again lines up perfectly with the carnivore diet. Every angle of nutrition supports this as the ideal template for mental and physical wellbeing.
While you may no longer be able to get the satisfaction of pouring a few drops of sesame oil over your spinach special, swapping out the liquid oils for saturated fats represents a monumental health upgrade. And then you can always go one step further, and drop the spinach, because it’s a prime source of oxalates. But that’s a rabbit hole that’s best saved for another article.
Takeaway – Vegetable oils are highly inflammatory, and cause your fat cells to keep on growing. Saturated fats, are the opposite. It seems like a straight swap would be the smart choice here.