Yep! People eating butter are thinner and healthier

Good news. A big new review of all relevant scientific studies shows that people eating high fat dairy (like butter) are at least as thin and healthy as others:

This perfectly matches all the other up-to-date reviews showing no connection between natural saturated fat and heart disease.

Time to retire the low fat fad?


Top comment

  1. I disagree. Guyenet has an axe to grind with the insulin hypothesis. He has made bold claims about it being disproven. Claims which are only supported by his biased interpretation and incomplete understanding of some key elements.
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  1. New Review Paper by Yours Truly: High-Fat Dairy, Obesity, Metabolic Health and Cardiovascular Disease
    He talks about it a bit more in his blog and comments.
    It's a pity he's still tied to certain misconceptions
    "This paper does not mean that adding butter to all your food will make you lose fat or become healthier. In fact, if you do that you will most likely gain fat and become less healthy."

    It doesn't seem hard to understand removing a cars brake fluid, so messages from the brake peddle no longer activate the brake disks/pads, makes it harder to regular speed.

    If you understand that, then surely it's not hard to grasp you need the passage of fat through the digestive system to activate secretion of Satiety signals (for hunger and fullness) cholecystokinin (CCK), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), peptide YY (PYY) to apply the ileal brake on appetite.

    Length and site of the small intestine exposed to fat influences hunger and food intake.

  2. Carol
    I am so glad I found LCHF before I found any interpretations by Dr. Guyenet et al. He sure seems to generate a lot of data, but not knowledge. I prefer Dr. Dobromylskyj's hypothesis and his indepth biochemical approach to these studies. Can't wait to see his latest response to SG's article.

    Thanks for the links.

  3. FrankG
    Off Topic but just watched a BBC Horizon documentary "The Truth About Looking Young"

    Guess what one of the answers is? Keeping your blood sugar low-normal :-)

    They also touch on how diet can affect our skin's ability to resist sun-damage -- something which, at least anecdotally, I see being mentioned by those eating LCHF.

  4. @ FrankG
    But they didn't mention polyunsaturated oils are pro-inflammatory, set up the conditions in which inflammation leads to iron being released from blood, causes iron oxidation that leads to the DNA damage and results in skin cancer.

    Why You Should NEVER Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine!

    Dependence of photocarcinogenesis and photoimmunosuppression in the hairless mouse on dietary polyunsaturated fat.
    " Mice that Consumed only saturated fat (ie butter) were totally protected from skin cancer . Those in the polyunsaturated fat group quickly developed Skin Cancers. Later in the study, the mice in the saturated fat were given polyunsaturated fats. Skin cancers quickly developed. "

  5. Frank
    Oh they didn't mention a great deal Ted :-) But it did strike me that perhaps (just perhaps) the insight into the role of sugar in skin-aging might give some pause for thought by those who worry about such things... perhaps some back door recognition of LCHF?
  6. Although the paper does not specifically adress low fat dairy products, commonly recommended by public health authorities, I wonder:
    Would it be fair to conclude that selecting low fat dairy products, rather than high fat ones, does not reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Is there ever a reason, from a health perspective to choose a low fat rather than a high fat dairy product?
  7. I've begun buying into LCHF lately, having been disappointed by every other approach to weight loss and health. I've been trying to lose weight for God-only-knows-how-long, and it's only with considerable willpower that I am able to lose any weight at all. With that, there's no doubt there's something hanky panky with the health/weight-loss theories flying about.

    Since I am new to the LCHF idea, I am (quite naturally) still a little bit of a skeptic. Since there doesn't seem to be a place for Q&As, I thought I'd just ask my question here.

    Whenever I eat something high fat (like, say, an egg & cheese omelet, or a beef steak) three things happen. (1) I feel a little heavy in the chest area (as though there's something heavy lingering on the heart (2) I feel considerable amounts of heartburn and (3) I'm constipated and my bowel movement causes inflammation in the anal region. I have a history of rectal hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

    Should I be eating something else along with my high-fat meals in order to curb those symptoms? Or is there something else I should be doing? Or is this simply a matter of making a lifestyle change (i.e. removing all the high carb stuff) and then the symptoms will go away?

    I'd appreciate a response from anyone who knows about this.


  8. Frank
    "Is there ever a reason, from a health perspective to choose a low fat rather than a high fat dairy product?"

    Less satisfying, fewer fat-soluble micronutrients, higher concentrations of lactose -- I don't see what it has to offer anyone health-wise.

    Not to mention that producing low fat dairy is more of an "industrial" process -- I understand that: rather than simply removing fat to make 2%, 1% etc... they actually fractionate the milk into the simplest components and then reconstitute it into 1%, 2% etc...

    Oh and one final plus of full fat dairy for me, the taste!

    My local source is now from a dairy that has their own single herd -- as opposed to milk arriving by truck from dozens (hundreds?) of outlying dairies. Their milk is left whole, non-homogenized (basically a process that forces it through a fine nozzle to break everything into the finest particles... so the cream no longer rises to the top). It still has, by Canadian law, to be pasteurized but they use a longer, lower heat process which causes less breakdown of the proteins. And it is served in glass bottles... I freely admit to drinking it straight from the bottle and it reminds me of the milk we used to have delivered to our doorstep as child in the UK; when we just drank what was then called simply "milk" ;-)

  9. Does anybody have a link to an article or can give a quick rundown of what fats are good and which are to be avoided? Obviously I've heard about Omega 6s, trans fat, etc. but I'm looking for a comprehensive list of fats that should be avoided.
  10. Frank
    @MIke B -- for me the general rule of thumb is that: if the fat is naturally occurring, in a food that has been eaten traditionally by human populations, it is more than likely fine.

    Meat comes naturally with fat, as do nuts, avocados etc... all good.

    Crush 'n squeeze olives and out comes oil... without using industrial-scale presses, high-heat steam or chemical solvents.

    Last time I squeezed a corn-cob,no oil...

    Did you see the LCHF for beginners page on this site..?

  11. Frank
    @Ahsan: I wonder how long you have been eating LCHF? You seem to suggest that a single meal causes these symptoms?

    Firstly consider any other "diet" that you may have tried previously -- in my experience there is often a period of adjustment... depending on what you are changing from and to.

    I'd sat that for me at least constipation is not an issue in the long run. I am convinced that all the hoop-la about fibre is just that, "hoop-la".

    As for feeling of fullness perhaps it is just that... for the first time in a long while you are actually feeling full... it might take some getting used to.

    For the heartburn I wonder how you are preparing the food? Is it spicy? It may help to gradually increase the amount of fat over time.

  12. Yes, I saw, but I am still concerned since there are quite a few things that have vegetable oils in them. Mostly condiments and dressings. I guess I need to start making my own Cesar dressing
    ( -_-)
  13. Margaretrc
    I was surprised to see S. Guyenet's name attached to this study. Seems a bit OT from his quest to prove his food reward hypothesis. Good to see dairy fat vindicated re obesity and metabolic syndrome, though. And it's long past time to retire the low fat fad. I refuse to buy anything that says "low fat" and have for quite some time, even before LCHF.
    @Mike B, The best rundown of which fats to eat and which to avoid is a book called "Know Your Fats" by Mary Enig. I believe there is also some discussion at Like @Frank G says, if it occurs naturally, it's fine. If not, it's not. The following fats and oils are recommended in "Know Your Fats": coconut and palm oil, butter, tallow, lard, olive oil, sesame oil, and peanut and other nut oils, pretty much in that order of importance. Any others are pretty much off the table--or should be. In my house I use primarily coconut oil, butter, lard, and olive oil.
    @Ahsan, If you are new to LCHF and aren't using it, I would recommend introducing coconut oil to your diet. It is anti-inflammatory and, since it contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides, is processed more like sugar than fat by the body--it doesn't require bile to be properly digested and metabolized. If there is a sudden influx of fat that requires bile (mostly long chain fatty acids) to a system that has been surviving on low fat intake for a long time, there is a period of adjustment that may cause discomfort (and worse), so work into the heavy fats gradually. Use coconut oil in the mean time to provide good fat without discomfort. If you don't like the taste of coconut oil, use expeller pressed coconut oil. It has been gently refined to remove the taste and odor, but retains all the benefits.
  14. Laura
    @Ahsan: are you a girl or a boy?
    You may have gall stones and/or a sluggish gall bladder (the heaviness in your chest could come from upper right quadrant discomfort....although the constipation contraddicts that: if your gall bladder was atrophic for example you would have the opposite that is dumping syndrome..running to the loo with loose fatty stools) so hmmm difficult diagnosis...
    Don't be put off though...I am cholecistectomised and I get pain symptoms like yours after a fatty meal but i am slowly acclimatising and i started to take digestive enzymes..with oxbile..although what good is the bile of a herbivore to a carnivore like moi? I ponder! But still dig enzymes have made a huge difference to me for the better.

    LCHF is the BEST thing that can happen to your life. The more you stick with it the better you will feel if you do it right! Also your enjoyment of food will go up. it is amazing!

    About the skin ageing program: take narcissistic female plastic surgeon in denial about age and you have a rather unappealing program based on ehr quest for a youth elixir that stirs well clear of teh scalpel (interesting that it should come from her who does not hesitate to use the scalpel on consenting others!!)....My concern was her advice to stay away from the sun because of her esthetic fears...I think vitD is so important to life that has driven the whole skin depigmentation of us Caucasians who settled at higher I won't go sun crazy but I will avoid sun blocks (many don't block UVA anyway giving false sense of security and encouraging overexposure)...also the program seemed at times a big long ad for Unilever's new magic pill to hit our shelved in five years based on coral reef extracts of MLAA (microporing like aminoacids or something like there ANYTHING Unilever don't do???) would be like McDonalds promising a new SLIMMING mac in teh next five years... hmmm I wonder who financed this program.....

  15. @Frank: Thank you for your answer. I haven't properly begun a LCHF diet, yet. I am speaking about individual meals that I sometimes prepare. I did try Atkins a few years back. However, with Atkins, I ended up with chronic anal fissures, which required surgery for removal. And that is precisely why I am still in the skeptical stage. Constipation really scares me because of the resulting anal fissures and rectal inflammation. Would it be correct to say that until I get used to the LCHF diet, I could take psyllium husk (which I take regularly anyway) in order to mitigate the constipation symptoms?

    @Laura: I'm male

    @Margaretrc: I'll definitely try coconut oil.

  16. Janknitz
    Ashan, what ELSE are you eating?? Are you still eating grains and starchy veg? How about dairy? Carbs and dairy are my heartburn and reflux triggers.

    If you ate low fat for years, you may be experiencing a revival of your gall bladder which tends to decline in function on a low fat diet. This is uncomfortable for some people, but your gall bladder is supposed to work--it takes time to adjust to the new regime. Meanwhile, add some veggies in to lighten the load and help with your bowel issues, too.

    There's plenty of fiber in this way of eating if you have plenty of non-starchy veggies. Coconut oil helps keep things moving along, too. And don't overlook probiotics from fermented foods--sauerkraut, kefir, perhaps kombucha, fermented pickles, etc. they are all good for you and especially for your gut.

    Finally, it may take some time to relearn what satiety feels like--that point when you've eaten enough to feel satisfied and not so much that you feel full or heavy. The standard diet tends to blunt our perception because it takes much more nutrient poor food to satisfy our body's needs. Try to pay attention and stop eating when you feel that satisfied feeling--you may find you need to eat far less than you thought. You can always go back and have more LCHF food if you get hungry before the next meal, but chances are you won't need to.

  17. Janknitz
    Ahsan, looks like we "cross posted". Yes, psyllium fiber is fine to take on LCHF, but you may find you don't need it after adjusting. Be sure to drink plenty of water, too.
  18. osteoDH
    @ Ahsan,
    For the constipation try magnesium for a while ( probably you eat less fibers that stimule colon motricity). The psyllium has the side effect to expand the bowl which is not what we strive for in constipation issues.
  19. moreporkplease
    Very confused by this, sorry. The study seems from Guyenet's description to cover milk & cheese - there's no difference drinking high fat vs. low fat milk or eating high fat cheese vs low fat cheese. The study doesn't seem to cover cream or butter, as he explains it - in fact in Guyenet's follow-up blog post he emphasizes that people should not eat butter and must count calories.

    Doc, do you have the full-text? Does the study actually cover butter & cream? I would love clarity on this point.

    Guyenet is not a sat-fat or high fat advocate. He is a calorie counter. this paper does not appear to change his stance, and of course once again, this is a review of studies to show "association." It isn't causative and it doesn't prove anything.

    As LCHF advocates, we can't decry associations when they work against us but embrace others when they do. That's confirmation bias.

  20. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD Team Diet Doctor
    Sure it covers all dairy fat and high fat vs low fat dairy products. Of course it includes a bunch of studies and they all differ somewhat.

    I'll email you the full-text version.

    Regarding associations in observational data: The important thing to remember is that of course they do not prove causation. I try to be very careful when it comes to that. I can't see a single word in my post that says that this means that high fat dairy actually MAKES you thinner or healthier.

    There is nothing wrong with observational studies, what's wrong is the way they are usually misinterpreted in the media.

  21. Pinkmonkey
    I'm surprised to hear some of you unimpressed with guyanet. I find his blog the most unbiased of all as I feel he is attached to no diet, just the bigger picture black swans and all. Id recommend a read.
  22. I disagree. Guyenet has an axe to grind with the insulin hypothesis. He has made bold claims about it being disproven. Claims which are only supported by his biased interpretation and incomplete understanding of some key elements.
  23. Anna
    I read the article to my coworker with who we talk about eating and living healthy all the time. We have absolutely different takes on the LCHF diet and she was very fast to find an article that stated 180 degrees opposite study. I myself been eating LCHF for about 6 months, have lost 14kg and feel a lot better (a lot!). On the other hand, I never believe something 100% and better see everything as a possible theory. This possible theory I like...i feel better and i weigh less, but is it truly healthier and how should i spot which theory is more true than the other? Is my body the best judge of that? Or the scientists (who unfortunately prove different things every day)?
  24. FrankG
    I also strongly disagree Pinkmonkey. He may seem plausible if you don't read critically but his arguments are specious and too often his references do not even show evidence for what he claims. He dismisses real human experience in favour of short term rodent trials. He has reverted to basically parroting the conventional wisdom of calories are all that count.
  25. Laura
    I must agree with Mike B. I ahve read Guyenet blog and a few of his papers and he and his group leader actively refuse to recognise insulin's key role in energy partitioning in the body despite all the evidence....and then he advocates this hypopalatable (aka bland diet)....if is works for him....I cannot imagine that our ancestors or our cousins chimps nad gorillas etc would eat food they dislike. On the contrary the taste of food would have been very important in guiding us towards foods that were good for us and avoiding rotten/toxic foods his take on things appears biased...
  26. Fact of the matter is, dairy is unnecessary and not healthy for the human body. For me and my fanatical opinions, it's man made and therefore ultimately a toxin. There may be some things in dairy that are shown to be beneficial, but that doesn't mean it doesn't wreak havoc on the body once consumed.
  27. Zepp
    I thought it was made of cows?

    And that its was all natural, if enybody dosent did a lot of things whit it?

    But I do know thats anybody dont need to eat or drink it.. becuse I am lactose intollerant so I am not using a lot!

  28. bill
    "Dr. Mark" said:

    'Fact... is, dairy is... not healthy for the human body. ... it's man made and therefore ultimately a toxin.'


    Think about it.

    Any 14 year old boy who saw a calf sucking on a teat would get some friends together and hold down the cow and try it. This probably happened millions of years ago in human development. What's not normal with that?

    As for humans using lactation products, it is completely conceivable that humans kept goats, sheep, cows, and such by hobbling them many millions of years ago.

    If an ant can ranch aphids, humans could ranch other animals.

  29. Laura
    I am always agreeing with someone but alas Dr Mark is right...milk is intended by nature for the young of the cognate species. As an infant grows he/she develops lactose intolerance which the normal state of the weaned young of msot mammalian species. In human Caucasians for some selective reason lactose intolerance was lost through persistance of the lactase into adulthood. But as Dr Mark says the fact that milk/dairy does not give you gas does not mean that it is good for us. There are too many bioactive substances (growth hormones especially) and some inflammatory ones. Bovine growth hormone is active in humans and some bovine milk proteins are very insulinogenic more almost than any other substance even sugar (this would make sense in a growing young where you do want to stimulate growth and fat reserves).
    Butter and some high fat low protein fermented dairy products may not be so bad (yes I am revising some previous views here)as the body does not know it is dairy and the fat composition of these products is very similar to that of other parts of the animal so as far as our body is concernted we may be consuming bone marrow or kidney fat but I think milk is bad so it is best avoided.

    Ahsan yes coconut oil is an AMAZING natural laxative but as you do not know the effect it will have on you try it on a day you are never too far from a 'facility'!!! Best of luck!

  30. Zepp
    There are a lot of hormons and other natural bioactive substances in all food, but our digestive system seems to manage that from all, but cows milk??

    Does one realy want to have vegetable hormons and enzyms in our cirkulation, I supose that our digesting system take care of them, otherwise one shouldnt eat veggies eighter!

    The only sources from cow milk to make us ill, that I know about is Laktos and cow milk protein and in one studie that found that some fat acids from dairy couldt benefits sulfur dependent bakteria in our guts if one have IL-10 defiency.. is there more to know.. or is it pure speculation.

    But I do think that milk is for growing persons.. and not that much for peopel that have to lose som pounds.

  31. moreporkplease
    @Dr. Mark:

    "Fact of the matter is, dairy is unnecessary and not healthy for the human body"

    I respect your opinion & belief. However, I know without a doubt that I am homozygous for one of the several independent genes for lactase persistance. That is, I possess the genes to safely drink and digest milk.

    Since I believe in evolution and modern genetic science, I have clear evidence of adaptation. Like many people in Northern Europe and parts of Africa, my ancestors evolved to drink milk. I accept not everyone has these adaptations - but I do.

    Clearly these adaptations must confer benefit to us - otherwise they would not persist for tens of thousands of years (at least 11,000). Therefore please understand why I contend that your statement as a piece of science is not provable for those of us with the associated genetics.

    Best wishes to you. And I'll continue to thrive on my morning goat kefir. :)

  32. bill
    Some people throw up when they eat sauerkraut. Some are allergic to cilantro. Some people cannot digest lactation products. Some cannot eat shellfish. And on and on.

    But to say lactation products across the board are "toxic"? That's a stretch and not supportable by any evidence.

    If you have something to back up your contention, please post it here.


  33. Margaretrc
    I agree with @bill, @moreporkplease, and others re milk. If you aren't lactose intolerant, I see nothing wrong with continuing to enjoy dairy products. I do make sure the ones I consume are organic and not laced with hormones and antibiotics that shouldn't be there, but am not about to give it up. I don't drink much milk, but I do eat cheese and yogurt (which I believe is very healthy), butter and cream, and plan to continue to do so.
  34. Margaretrc
    And I disagree with pinkmonkey and agree with FrankG, Mike B and Laura re Dr. Guyenet. And believe me, I have read his blog. The disrespect with which he treats scientists and others who find the insulin hypothesis compelling is--well, hardly a sign of being "unbiased." No, he doesn't impress me at all. Sorry.
  35. Tia
    I agree with Margaretrc both posts.
    They express exactly what I think, thanks!
  36. bill
    From "Dr. Mark":


  37. Laura
    I sorry guys but as a geneticist I must interject. MILK IS PRODUCED FOR THE YOUNG of any mammalian species at a time when they are udnergoing an considerable period of growth and development. I must repeat this till I am blue in the face Under normal circumstances.msot human population other than Caucasian have retained the normal innate intolerance to lactose which signals that it is time to stop drnking milk and move to other more appropriate adults foods that do not promote growth. MILK is growth promoting and very insulinogenic the very things we try to avoid with LC (Or at least I am) Obesity cancer and overgrowth syndromes are all promoted by carbs and milk (Not jsut the sugar lactose in milk but also the various growth hormones and inflammatory proteins such casein for example).
    As an adult you are not meant to drink milk or do so at your own peril (I am not even going to get into the ethics of dairy farming...that is another wasp nest of contention)....
    It is no coincidence that domestication of cattle and grains happened together some 15-13000 yrs ago. They are not foods which are are adapeted to consume they are starvation foods that we ended up relying upon due to population pressure and geographical/cultural crcumstances.

    Fermentation of milk and isolation of the fat does remove some of the harmful protein/sugar/hormones but milk is a no no no. Yes again it is your choice and if you choose to drink it fine but don't try and sell it as fine because it is not. Full fat yogurt/kefir/ghee/butter/creme freiche may be less harmful and provide some good fats...but still hmhmhhmhmhm
    This processing of milk would be no different to soaking of nuts to remove phytates or the fermeting of cassava root to remove toxins.....but be ware of milk as an adult!

    Reply: #42
  38. bill
    "...human population other than Caucasian have retained the normal innate intolerance to lactose..."

    Too many caveats to be meaningful.

    Shrimp is produced for bottom dwelling fish so is not fit for human consumption.

    Cilantro is produced for leaf eating snails so is not fit for human consumption.

    Blood is produced for hunting lions so is not fit for human consumption.

    Name something you eat and I'll tell you what it is produced for and make the leap that it is not fit for human consumption.


  39. IF this is true we are not supposed to like milk when we get older why do we still like women with large breast then?? LOL
  40. Don't know where to put this. Breaking news, if you ask me.

    Study raises questions about dietary fats and heart disease guidance

    “Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Dietary advice about fats and the risk of heart disease is called into question on today as a clinical trial shows that replacing saturated animal fats with omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fats is linked to an increased risk of death among patients with heart disease.

    The researchers say their findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary recommendations.”

    “Advice to substitute vegetable oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for animal fats rich in saturated fats to help reduce the risk of heart disease has been a cornerstone of dietary guidelines for the past half century. The most common dietary PUFA in Western diets is omega-6 linoleic acid (n-6 LA for short).”

    “To coincide with publication of this paper, the BMJ is pulling together examples of missing data it has uncovered, as part of its “open data” campaign. We are also asking researchers to tell us about any other documented examples of missing data, to build a picture of the full extent of the problem which is undermining evidence based medicine worldwide.”

    “The current best estimate is that half of all the clinical trials that are conducted and completed are never published. Even when they are, the underlying data that the results are based on is rarely open to external analysis – which is a cornerstone of proper scientific scrutiny. This means doctors cannot be certain that the drugs they are prescribing daily are properly evaluated for safety and efficacy.”

    BMJ –

  41. Aaron
    Eat lots of fat and be healthy? Sounds really good doesn't it? This just sets people up to continue their terrible habits. Yeah when this fails you can always go to a plant based diet high in calories by way of as much fruit as you can stomach maybe some steamed rice and potatoes and of course lots of vegetables. Ditching the mountain of dairy most Americans eat. So you know, you can actually feel good.
  42. Zepp
    You forgotten to name Asians and Africans, that origanaly have a high milk diet traditionaly.. moste knowed is Masai and Mongols!

    But I have the same opinion.. milk is for children and calfs to gain weight.. its made for that!

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