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Paleo 101: The beginner’s guide to fats (Part 2)

In the last post I introduced you to the Paleo talk on fats and why they are so important for health, fat loss and overall thriving in life. I hope you have had a chance to digest the (for many of you) controversial information about health benefits of bacon and steak and you are ready for another fatty dose. Despite my attempt to convince you to substitute your carbs with fat, I haven’t yet told you, what kinds of fat you should be good friends and which are the gangsters to avoid, as they will eventually attempt your life. Here I am with today’s post and a concrete list of fats that should serve as guidance to you in your first few Paleo weeks.

Let me introduce you the mysterious healthy fats.

Animal fat
Bacon, tahini (sesame paste), pork lard, mozzarella di bufala.

Bacon, tahini (sesame paste), pork lard, mozzarella di bufala.

Eating the whole animal is the most natural way to obtain your portion of healthy fats. Don’t be afraid to choose fattier chicken thighs over dry chicken breasts, eat your grass-fed steak with appetite, enjoy bacon with your morning eggs (make sure it’s non-cured and not including secret ingredients and preservatives), eat egg yolks, experiment with organ meat!

I personally love using animal fat for high temperature cooking, because it’s stable and adds extra flavor. I grew up in a village, where my grandma uses pork lard even for rubbing a baking sheet intended for chocolate pie. If you cannot handle the flavor, try duck fat, ghee (purified butter) or bacon fat. Hmmm, can you smell it? Coconut oil is a great alternative and a nice addition to vary your cooking and expand your “flavor bank.” It is also the only nut oil that is great for high temperature cooking.

Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and hazelnut oil. My private collection.

Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and hazelnut oil. My private collection.

Cold pressed high quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, avocado oil, sesame oil, coconut oil. These guys are amazing for cold cuisine. Add them to your salads, fresh veggies or on top of eggs. They make amazing sauces, dressings or healthy homemade mayo. Don’t use them for high temperature cooking though, they burn quickly, lose their benefits and become not so good after all.

Clearly, eating olives or avocados directly counts as well. Avocado is one of my most favorite fruits. It’s low in carbs and full of healthy fat. Slice it in your salad, mash a piece to add creaminess to your dressing, use as a base for sauces or create a sweetened version for a dessert! Try fake chocolate mousse made with pureed avocado, banana, coconut milk and cocoa. You will lick the bowl!

Nuts and seeds


Pumpkin seeds, avocado and olives. Great in oils or whole as they grow.

Pumpkin seeds, avocado and olives. Great in oils or whole as they grow.

Nuts and seeds are perfect addition to your salad or as a to-go snack on long hiking trails. Don’t go overboard, they aren’t meant to substitute a full meal. A handful per day is more than enough, and if you use them wisely, they will serve as a great emergency source of energy. I love the energy kick they give me half way through a full day bike trip or when lost in foreign countries backpacking.

Almonds and macadamia nuts are the most favorite nuts in the Paleo community for their best nutritional values. Personally, I do not tolerate large doses of nuts very well and my stomach is picky about different kinds. I handle macadamias and blanched almonds the best, brazil nuts are one of my favorites, because they kick in really fast and 2-3 are enough to get me going during lengthy hikes with my Meet Up group of hikers.

It’s worth experimenting a bit and play with different combinations to figure out the kinds and amounts that suit you best. Once again – do not go nuts with nuts. If overdone, they will work against your fat loss effort and they also contain lots of phytic acid. To put it as simply as possible, phytic acid binds to minerals in your body and these minerals then cannot be absorbed. Eating too much nuts can lead to mineral deficiency.

Oh, and one more thing – peanuts are not nuts! They are legumes – non Paleo.

Full-fat dairy


I have mentioned that dairy is a grey zone of primal diet due to lactose that many of us are not able to digest. Dairy in many cases also slows down or hinders fat loss, so if you are trying to get rid of your butt flab, avoid it. Yet, if you have no problem digesting dairy, go for full fat and as natural as possible.

Aged cheeses (the harder the older) are very low in lactose or naturally lactose-free. Lactose amount also decreases through fermentation, so full-fat yogurt or kefir can be the way to go for you. Personally, I learned that I digest dairy products made from everything but cow milk much better, so I usually go for sheep yogurt, feta cheese (sheep), pecorino romano, mozzarella di buffalo, goat cheese and goat milk products. I do not drink milk at all, but sometimes I have a dollop of a real full fat whipping cream in my coffee (never the plastic tasting one from spray). I love cheese, but I use it in moderation, mostly as a treat (In France they serve it as a dessert, which can be often helpful during social events, when I am sort of “forced” to order something) or as an emergency food in case there is nothing else available (read hotel breakfast buffets with pastry and questionable deli cuts) or when on the road.

Just remember – always full-fat and natural. No preservatives or secret ingredients. If you have access to fresh milk directly from a farmer, it can be way to go even for a lactose sensitive person. Just like with nuts even here applies – experiment to find out what your body likes and what it rejects. The best way is to completely avoid dairy for 3-4 weeks and then slowly return certain dairy groups in your diet. I can almost certainly guarantee you that you will decide to stop drinking milk, but you will need to find out yourself about cheese, yogurt and fermented dairy.

Who is not a good buddy to play with?

Hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine. Just avoid them for god sake! These guys cause all the artillery clogging, high cholesterol and heart diseases you read about in newspaper. They were developed in laboratories some fifty, sixty years ago and our bodies are not capable of digesting them properly. They cause total havoc in our system. These fats are responsible for bad reputation of fats in general. And yes, it’s the kind of fat that is used in restaurants for deep fried food. It’s not the French fries that are killing you, it’s the fat the fries are fried in! Also, beetroot chips definitely do not deserve the “healthy” label, if fried in vegetable oil. But if you want to die young, go for it.

Check out Mark Sisson’s article on saturated fats and link to the above mentioned health issues for more expert explanation and further medical studies.

Fun fact from Belgium: I mentioned French fries, so I have to tell you something, guys. Belgium is famous for its frites. We have French fries stalls everywhere, served in paper cones with hundreds of kinds of sauces. The most famous frites are nearby my office and rumors say they fry them (several times according to the traditional recipe) in animal fat. These bastards are thick and freaking delicious. Although potatoes are part of the Paleo grey zone, they do not cause any harm, unless fat loss is your number one goal. And so once in a blue moon I go to Maison Antoine for real Belgian frites (usually with friends who are visiting). Why am I not afraid that they use vegetable oil? I was so curious about the fatty rumors that one day I went and nervously trying to memorize the prepared question in French (very bad French) I asked. Oh, was my day made happy! Beef fat! They use beef fat! And you can tell, the whole square smells like that!

Must-go spot in Brussels for the best frites. I always take my friends there, when they are visiting me here. Particularly, after I learnt that the fries are made in beef fat!

Must-go spot in Brussels for the best frites. I always take my friends there, when they are visiting me here. Particularly, after I learnt that the fries are made in beef fat!

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a great day, productive week and don’t forget to live loud!



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