263 comments

The Amazing Waist-Slimming, Wallet-Fattening Nutrient

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Despite my insistence that the MMM family eats outlandishly well these days, I take a fair amount of flak from certain readers on the subject of food:


 “Food is not something I take shortcuts on, and thus our food bill will always be higher than that of the MMM Family. They are cheaping out on something we should all spend MORE on!”

Other people pick up a different vibe, saying

“Mr. Money Mustache, you seem to eat a good [Nutritious/Primal/Paleo] diet. How can you do this, and feed a family well on less than $1000 per day?”

 

I welcome the idea that food is important: since about age fifteen I have tended to experiment with my own eating in an attempt to optimize nutrition. Far from seeking out the cheapest calories, I often put nutrition ahead of even tastiness, over the years shoveling things like raw brewers yeast, oddly colored concoctions from the blender, and raw vegetables galore into the belly. Some experiments have worked and some have failed, but these days, after sufficient reading and learning, I’m finally starting to get some things right.

The biggest helpful shift for me has been the realization that “fat” (also known as “oil”) is not a taboo toxin that immediately sticks itself atop your nearest existing reserve of stored bodyfat if you accidentally ingest it. Quite the opposite, it is a pure and clean-burning fuel that your body will happily run on for great distances, much like an old Mercedes Diesel will burn unprocessed vegetable oil while creating only pleasant french-fry-scented tailpipe emissions.

Fat is not fattening. Eating when you don’t yet need refueling is what makes you fat, and high-carbohydrate eating is what causes the craving to eat too often.

This change in dietary philosophy can be unintuitive to those who still eat according to the USDA’s grain-intensive food pyramid. At a recent breakfast at a friend’s house, someone noticed me cooking a pan of eggs for myself. I started by heating an obscene lake of olive oil, then added the eggs and grated on a thick layer of full-fat cheddar cheese and another of spicy curry powder. After this delicious smelling treat was sizzled properly, I served it onto a plate, added some almonds on the side, and sliced on an entire avocado over top to add even more Good Fat.

“Why are you adding so much fat to your breakfast?”, asked the friend.

“Because it adds more calories”, I replied.

“But don’t you want LESS calories rather than MORE?”

“No. If I eat fewer calories at breakfast, I’ll just need to eat again sooner in the day. A meal like this will keep me going until 2PM. But if I eat bread, juice, or other simple carbohydrates at breakfast, I’ll be hungry in just an hour or two.”

“This blows my mind.”

“Good! Maybe you should try it!”

The Triple M High Energy Breakfast Omelette:

2TBSP olive oil (240 calories, 27g fat, $0.36)
3 Eggs (21g protein, 240 calories, 18g fat, $0.60)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (14g protein, 18g fat, 225 calories, $0.31)
1/2 TSP Curry powder, pepper and garlic to taste (0 cals, $0.10)
Diced Mushrooms and Onions (optional) (10 cals, $0.25)
1 Avocado (1g protein,  27g fat, 300 calories, $1.00)

Fry the vegetables in the oil, then add the eggs and cheese. Sizzle and flip. Put on your plate, and slice on that Avo.

Total Power: 1015 calories, 90 grams fat, 36 grams protein, $2.62
Carbohydrates: almost none

Calories per Dollar: 387

Bicycle miles fueled at 18MPH: 17.2
Hours of outdoor work fueled at moderate intensity: 4-6

 

This is a big meal designed to start an active day. If you’re just planning on writing some software after breakfast, you might cut the cheese and avocado quantity in half. But the principle remains the same: a low-carb meal like this works better than one with juice, toast, bagels and other sugar-spiking ingredients. And it’s still relatively inexpensive, because there is no meat.

But won’t it give me a heart attack?

Again, quite the opposite. The most recent research on fat shows that it is not an artery-clogger or an abdomen-thickener. The proponents of this type of diet encourage you to get your own blood tested before and after the switch in order to see for yourself. I only have my most recent blood test on file, but the numbers are excellent after almost a year of eating this way. A friend of mine with past blood cholesterol problems switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet and saw immediate and complete improvement in his own blood test results – completely the opposite of his doctor’s prediction but exactly in line with the high-fat/low-carb research.

Mark’s Daily Apple will entertain you for days if you are looking for more stories and research citations on the topic. The overall summary of the research seems to be, “Older studies found that fat was an arterty-clogger because they were done without controlling sugar and carb intake. And obese people tend to consume more of both of those macronutrients (a large soda alongside a large serving of fries, for example), so there is a high but non-causal connection between clogged arteries and rich food.

But perhaps even more relevant to you and me, being assembled today at this Personal Finance blog, is that this nutrient is extremely cheap. It is easy and land-efficient to grow, easy to store and ship, and easy to use in the preparation of delicious food. You can find most of the best oils (and nuts) in organic top-of-the-line form at Costco in huge quantities at great prices.

So nowadays I seek out fat rather than avoiding it. Homogenized rather than skim milk. Heavy unsweetened whipping cream instead of ‘lite’. Butter and bacon, and using bacon grease for additional cooking. Coconut and olive oils, used in cooking with no restraint. Nuts of all sorts.

But the key to all of this fat, is that it must replace, rather than supplement, your refined carb intake. I think of slices of bread as “weight gain squares”. Beer is “liquid belly expander”. A plate of pasta is “Ultra Mass-Up 2000”. Pizza is no longer my favorite dinner treat. I’ll still indulge in these things occasionally, but only as a tool to gain weight after a heavy workout.. not as part of a lazy vacation. And drinking sweet things is totally out – no fruit juice or soda, pretty much ever. Go for water, milk, unsweetened coconut or almond milk instead.

And while fat does the heavy lifting for me, I still eat raw and cooked vegetables freely with every meal, and plenty of fruit too. This is not the Atkins Diet or anything overly restrictive. Just a general “avoid flour and sugar” philosophy is all it takes.

Another breakfast I’ve been eating recently when I need quick calories in a lighter package:

MMM’s 1000-calorie Coconut Cream Dessert-like Breakfast

2-4 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted into a bowl
2 TBSP almonds, ground in a blender
2 TBSP ground flax seeds
1 Banana, sliced
Optional: Mixed Berries (can be thawed from a big frozen bag)
1 huge pile of unsweetened whipped cream
Cinnamon on top

 

It’s delicious, and rich. All the power of 3-4 bowls of cereal, but much longer lasting energy! Again, cut quantities in half if you are not doing six hours of outdoor construction and/or heavy barbell squats that day.

Triple M Salad

1 Cucumber, diced (keep the skin on, it is good for you)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, diced
green onions, snipped up
1 cup cilantro (just cut a bunch in with scissors, straight from the bunch)
1 carrot, grated over top

… mix it all into a big bowl and pour this over top:

MMM’s 3-2-1 Spicy Balsamic Soy Vinagrette dressing

3 oz olive oil
2 oz balsamic vinegar
1 oz soy sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp honey or brown sugar

This makes about the right amount to fill a reused salad dressing bottle (I recommend reusing a bottle from a fancy brand like Annie’s or Newman’s Own, since you don’t want to see the KRAFT logo staring you in the face when enjoying MMM dressing).

 

Shake this up and serve it over salads and many other things. Delicious and rich in calories. And of course, nearly free to make.

While the ideas above are only a few very simple examples*, I feel like a food revolution is happening here at the MMM household. Maybe it’s just our gradual growing-up, but we are now actually using cookbooks, improvising, and making good meals in a way I wish we would have started ten years ago. It’s a fine and luxurious ritual to sit down at a well-stocked table after a hard day of work, and I wish the same luxury upon you as well.

 

 

*Only slightly more complicated but amazing for dinner is “Fish Molee”.  Now that I’ve mentioned it, I cannot deny you the joy of eating this amazing curry dish:

Fish Molee

Take 1/2 lb of any white fish (tilapia, cod, swai, etc)
Rub on 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp salt

Put 2 TBSP of coconut or olive oil into a big pan and start sizzling it
Dice in 1 onion
Grate in 3 garlic cloves
Grate in 1 tsp of ginger
Spoon in 1 TBSP of curry powder
Slice in 1 red pepper or other big chile pepper of your choice
Cook for 2 more minutes
Add about 14 ounces of coconut milk and cook for 5 more minutes, at a simmer
Add the seasoned fish and finish it up for 6-8 minutes

 

It’s relatively easy and it is good enough for a young man to impress a young lady on his first time having her over for dinner. A truly handy recipe.

  • Alexandria April 19, 2013, 12:43 pm

    This is a great topic. People get so crazed with diets, and I think this is very appropriate Mustache material. Forget the fads, let’s bring some common sense back to our diets.

    We are moderate people who prefer home cooking. I am sure we break many “health” rules, but are just concerned with common sense. We’ve never bought into any fads, “diet” and “fat-free” junk food (most of those labels are on highly processed foods that we would not eat). Organic is some good marketing. If I was that concerned I would grow my own food so I actually knew what was going into it. What we do eat is a lot of REAL food, and in moderation. It’s cheap. We live in a region with abundant year-round fresh produce (California). I am not into gardening, but would be a very viable way to cut costs, particularly where we live.

    Our food bill has gone down down down over the years. A friend recommended an A+ Indian crockpot recipe cookbook right around the time we got a very close Indian grocer. We buy lentils, beans and spices in bulk and cook with fresh vegetables, served with rice and naan bread. These are CHEAP diets that fulfill nutritional needs, are very tasty, and are good for health. I am traditionally a picky eater, but I will eat just about anything prepared with some spice and flavor. My parents never made me eat any veggies, I was a huge carnivore, but these days I find myself tending more vegan. (I think it’s fair enough that some of the picky eating lessens with age – no doubt my palate is no longer as sensitive as it once was).

    I always find online input about our diet amusing. We tend towards genetically underweight, both my spouse and I, and worse our children. Being thin by itself is not the epitome of good health. I can attest the grass is not greener. But I Can tell many people seem overly concerned with my diet and think I must be a cow, because I admit to eating real oil and butter, and the ocassional soda and beer. ;) Genetics aside, moderation and *real* food is all there is to it. News flash – produce and beans and rice and eggs are the cheapest stuff to eat. Now, if you have to buy everything “organic” or “fat free.” & are never allowed to cook with 1 tsp of this or that… Silly limitations that probably only hurt you in the end.

    I think people spend a LOT of money on soda, juice, coffee, alcohol, etc., etc. I see others mentioning that. We don’t drink 100% water, but maybe 80%-90% water. We like our juice, soda, wine and beer, but drink these in moderation. Doesn’t get cheaper than water, to drink with most your meals. (We have never been big milk people either). We have A+ tap water. (I have never been picky with tap water, but we were in Orlando FL last fall and their water is pretty terrible – high sulfur content – smells/tastes like sulfur – which is not pleasant. I wonder if the sulfur is easy to filter out or if you just get stuck buying more bottled water in a place like that. Maybe you get used to it).

    Reply
    • claire April 21, 2013, 8:33 am

      What’s the name of that cookbook?

      Reply
  • WageSlave April 19, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I also want to add that it appears to me, at least in the USA, we have a dangerous structure in place with regards to medical malpractice lawsuits. A doctor gets malpractice insurance to basically cover his ass. But in order to be insurable, he has to answer to the insurance company. He now servers two masters: his patients and his insurer. Such a situation always leads to a conflict of interest.

    Let’s assume that Gary Taubes’s position on nutrition (carbs bad, fat good) is right, that the conventional dietary wisdom (carbs good, fat bad) is wrong. If this is true, then doctors should advise their patients to follow a diet similar to what MMM (or Gary Taubes or Mark Sission) is proposing.

    However, right or wrong, that dietary advice is contradictory to conventional wisdom and contrary to the US Government’s own recommendations (i.e. USDA). (And what does the American Heart Association say? Honest question, are they still anti-fat?) In such a case, the malpractice insurance company is probably advising the doctor to NOT suggest a low-carb, high-fat diet. But this is not in the patients’ best interest!

    The “right” thing for the doctor to do, obviously, is act purely in his patients’ self-interest. But what if the insurance company won’t let him?

    Maybe the situation isn’t as bad as I’ve presented it—I’m not involved in the medical or legal fields. But as a layperson, it appears that part of the structure of the health industry could be significantly biased towards keeping people UNhealthy. If there’s any truth to what I’m saying, then how can advances in nutrition, health and fitness be efficiently incorporated into the system?

    Reply
  • Shelly April 19, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Food must be cheaper where you live. I live in Victoria, BC, Canada, eat strictly paleo and buy everything at Costco, where very few products are organic. The meat I buy is ground beef and chicken thighs, not tenderloin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts and my food costs are at least $1000 per month! We also supplement our protein sources with salmon and halibut that my husband fishes for. Food is very expensive up here and I have tried unsuccessfully to reduce our food budget.

    Reply
    • KruidigMeisje April 19, 2013, 1:50 pm

      Ah! that would concur with my experiences during our US/Canada trip. We couldnt shop for less than $100 (4 people, 4 days worth), and both me, my BF and my mother-in-law are experienced mustachian shoppers.
      I have been wondering about mrMM’s food bill. Must be the state he lives in, that makes his 80 dollar budget possible. Though I will try to experiment with his tips and recipes. Experiments with proper food (not produced stuff) are in line with my life’s filosofy.

      Reply
      • Rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow April 22, 2013, 10:46 am

        I have a friend, 3 teenage boys and a daughter, he also feeds an army of vistors (pastor in Madrid) yet in spite of this he’s managed to drop his food budget from 100€ a week to about 80€ (will get an update tomorrow when I visit) but mostly by slow cooking and limiting the ingrediants

        for example lentil stew

        1 kilo lentails
        2 carrots
        2 patatoes
        2 hot dogs or sausages

        I know many family that feed an army on a budget by doing just that, cut everything but water and lentils back to the bone

        Reply
  • Enid Melanie April 19, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I agree completely. Personally (from the research I’ve done) I would only recommend also dropping dairy which is really unhealthy. A bit of cheese here and there isn’t too bad though I suppose. If you can’t stay off it, at least choose organic.

    Reply
  • Alexandria April 19, 2013, 1:29 pm

    P.S. I just went into the lunch room at my office and saw “Trader Joe’s cage-free hardbpoiled/peeled eggs.” Seriously. A little digging and I saw that these cost 42 cents per egg. We regularly buy eggs at 15-cents per egg. That is almost triple the price!! Of course, the “cage free” caught my attention as I have never seen that claim on eggs before (I thought the catchphrase was “free range.”). As I suspected, “cage free” has little to do with “humane treatment.” Guess which eggs are fresher and taste better.

    I do think this is the bulk of the disconnect. The most basic of cooking skills will save you a fortune in the long run. How many average Americans thinks that “buying veggies” means “buying them chopped up ahead of time”? How much effort and time (and skill) does it take to boil eggs? Everyone in my office has access to a full kitchen. Hell, they could boil them in the office if they wanted to.

    Reply
  • KruidigMeisje April 19, 2013, 1:42 pm

    I am not very into diets.
    So I hope my questions will not be seen as stupid.Just trying to learn and make sense of it all.
    When everybody is talking about “carbs”, does that mean any carbohydrate, or should I read this as pertaining to the simple (1 or 2 carbunits) carbohydrates? I cycle quite some (50 km is not far by my standards), and find I need to have something in my stomach to burn. Complex carbs (oatmeal, whole grain bread) will do very nicely. Even simple carbs will do, in a pinch, during a long ride.
    Since I cycle, I found my appetite for simple carbs just disappeared. So remaining off them, is easy. I couldn’t envision a life without (whole) grains however. Though I always like an experiment (nuts&dried fruits might be a good way to refuel)
    And why do potatoes count as carbs? Potato is a veggie, like banana. Why wouldn’t they be primal/paleo?

    Reply
    • Christine Wilson April 19, 2013, 5:14 pm

      Hi KruidigMeisje,

      All carbohydrates are certainly not equal. Mostly you’d want to choose Low GI foods in your everyday “resting” diet:
      http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/

      You do need some carbs to be healthy.. just as you need some salt. However today’s foods are too filled with both!

      During long rides High GI Foods may actually be needed. If the body needed a boost of energy quickly.. and since you are cycling you are immediately putting this extra energy to use, instead of letting it sit and turn into fat.

      So I wouldn’t be afraid to consume carbs, just be aware that they serve the purpose to give you energy.. if you’re not exercising you can reduce your carb intake accordingly.

      Reply
  • Maia April 19, 2013, 1:56 pm

    Hi MMM, I like your idea about eating more calories for less. I never thought of this before I read your blog. For example somewhere you mention peanut butter. As a lady always watching my waistline I always avoided high calorie foods, until I realised that I can actually save money, time and not compromise my health by say adding a dollop of peanut butter onto my crackers instead of eating more expensive stuff which has less calories like strawberries or something.
    I do find it’s harder to be cost effective if you want to buy everything ethically sourced though, as well as organic/free range/ etc. Things like organic nuts and berries are mega expensive, even in season. I guess the best thing would be to start your own garden patch, or buy stuff directly from farmers if you can.

    Reply
  • Thomas / Boy Toy April 19, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Yeah! Fats are AWESOME!
    I eat a ton of fat, like you, every day.
    Bacon, butter, cheese, eggs, cream.
    And as you can see, Im still ripped as f…
    Low carb, high fat rocks.
    USDA go home!

    Reply
  • Naomi April 19, 2013, 3:28 pm

    Mr. MMM,

    Any chance you could do a post with your actual grocery spending for a typical week or month? I’m ashamed to say how much we spend on food every month (and I don’t buy organic anything).

    YAY FAT!!

    Reply
    • squeakywheel April 20, 2013, 9:31 am

      Agree with this. Actual grocery spending and items purchased would be great.

      Reply
  • Heather April 19, 2013, 3:44 pm

    Hi MMM!
    I just thought I’d tell you about my breakfast today…
    I’m currently going through the stage of life known as ‘poor student’ at the moment, I read your post and was inspired to have a solid breakfast – bacon, eggs (from the guy down the road), homegrown tomatoes, nice cheese and fresh young venison.
    May I present another moustache-friendly hobby…?

    I’ve just come back from a hunting trip where I shot my first deer. While we only got one (very small) deer between 2 people, the cost of the meat works out as about $15/kilo – if we’d gotten another deer, an adult, then the price per kilo would be lower than the cheapest beef mince you can buy in supermarkets here (in Australia). We also got two days relaxed holiday in a pretty, rustic environment (stayed in a hut maintained by our hunting association, no power, water collected from the roof, and we forgot our stove, so we cooked over the fireplace); lots of nature watching (kangaroos and magpies); long walk twice a day and downtime for reading and napping during the day.
    I’ll be taking some meat back to uni with me and living on lentils AND venison this term.
    P.S. Thankyou for your blog MMM, I love reading it

    Reply
    • Kyle April 20, 2013, 5:51 pm

      What is the price of beef in Australia? I can’t tell if you are saying $15/kilo is cheap or expensive.

      Reply
      • Grant April 20, 2013, 6:01 pm

        $15 isnt too bad. Not buying in bulk, beef rump steak is around $20/kg (easier to get cheaper if you buy a whole rump), mince is $10/kg or less.

        Food in the USA is much cheaper than here – scarily so. I don’t think food *should* be that cheap! Even here in Aus, I am astounded by people complaining about the price of food – especially meat and dairy products. FFS, milk at less than $1/L is ridiculous – the industry is not sustainable at those prices, certainly not for small operators, and not with any consideration of animal welfare or environmental issues.

        Reply
  • Jason April 19, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the recipes, MMM! Have you given any thought to adding a recipes or cooking/food section to the forum? Seems like with so many questions about how to reign in food budgets and still eat healthy, it would be a good place to share info specific to those issues.

    Reply
  • Josh April 19, 2013, 4:50 pm

    Fish molee sounds great! Is the fish supposed to be cooked before adding it to the sauce? Or will putting it in the sauce for 6-8 minutes cook it?

    Looking forward to trying it!

    Reply
  • Pauline April 19, 2013, 5:43 pm

    We eat a similar breakfast that gets us going until 2 or 3pm. Then a big lunch of meat and potatoes or rice plus salad, and rarely have dinner. We just snack on yogurt or salty things, and our sleep has improved too.

    Reply
  • mattg April 19, 2013, 6:15 pm

    Might I suggest a squeeze of lime on those eggs? A little acid makes everything better (kind of like salt in that regard), and lime goes particularly well with curry and avocado.

    Reply
  • Self-Employed-Swami April 19, 2013, 8:32 pm

    As someone who can only net 1600 calories/day, I dream of eating things fried like that. However, I must subsist with higher protein options, such as lean meats, greek yoghurt, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain carbs. I try to avoid anything with refined sugars and wheat in them as well.

    Reply
  • Chucks April 19, 2013, 9:22 pm

    Another important aspect is how little one needs to restrict calories when doing heavy weight lifting. Since I’ve added significantly more muscle I need to eat around 3000 calories just to maintain my weight! Not great for the wallet, but certainly for a guilt free appetite.

    Reply
  • Alex in Virginia April 20, 2013, 5:37 am

    This comment is in praise of oatmeal. :D

    My standard under-300-calories breakfast is a bowl of whole-grain oatmeal and 2% milk, topped by strawberries. It keeps me totally fueled and my mind off food until it’s time for lunch 4.5 – 5 hours later. Oatmeal really “sticks to your ribs”!

    (And because oatmeal is high in fiber it supposedly helps “sweep” bad stuff out of your system.)

    In my book, oatmeal rocks.

    Alex in Virginia

    Reply
  • Bek in Aus April 20, 2013, 6:23 am

    Thanks for a very interesting post. While I do agree with you that fat is not the worst dietary baddie out there, there are differences in dietary fats and the effects that they have on health. I’m a dietitian working in a heart and diabetes research institute patient clinic in Australia and practically I find that what works for one person won’t work for the next and while lower carb, higher fat diets (and I mean diet in the sense of eating plan, not eat this diet for two weeks to lose a few kilos then go back to what you were eating before) work for some people, a higher carb and lower fat diet works for others. I’ve never had two patients who end up with the same diet prescription, though it does tend to be a variation on the lower carb, more healthy (typically polyunsaturated fats) theme. Interestingly there’s been some recent research showing how when we replace saturated fat (which is somewhat demonised, but there is good evidence associating higher saturated fat intakes with negative cardiovascular outcomes) with carbohydrates, which is what typically happened with the whole low fat phenomenon, that the carb has the same negative effects. But when we replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats that we see protective cardiovascular effects.
    On the liquid sugar (juices and sodas), there’s been some really good studies recently showing how we perceive liquids as water (ie no calories), independent of how much sugar/carbs they have, so we don’t compensate for them when we eat, which happens when you consume the sugar/carbs as whole fruit.
    You may be interested in the following nutrition blog, where there are some great articles about carbs and fats. http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/
    I think its great that you’ve shown how it is possible to eat really well without spending a fortune. One of my biggest frustrations is when people tell me eating healthy food is more expensive. Complete crap!

    Reply
  • Manette @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance April 20, 2013, 10:27 am

    Great recipes! I would love to try them next week. I am sure my children will love the Coconut Cream Dessert-like Breakfast because it has berries and my husband will go over gaga on Triple M Salad. Thanks for sharing the recipes!

    Reply
  • Alison April 20, 2013, 1:19 pm

    Are you a coffee drinker? Have you tried coconut oil in coffee (or “bulletproof coffee” with butter) yet? So good and often leaves me feeling full with lots of energy for hours!

    http://mamasweeds.com/2013/04/07/coconut-oil-coffee/

    Reply
    • Lisa M April 26, 2013, 8:56 am

      Thanks Alison, I am making this first thing tomorrow morning!

      Reply
  • Emilie April 20, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Have you looked into raw milk? More expensive but much healthier than pasteurized, with more accessible nutrients. Non-homogenized whole milk is also much healthier than homogenized. Looks like it’s only legal in Colorado via herdshares, though: http://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-finder/colorado/#co

    Reply
    • Derek R April 21, 2013, 11:38 pm

      Drinking raw milk leaves you open to catching brucellosis which is basically a venereal disease of cows, sheep and goats. Brucellosis in humans only occurs in regions where people drink unpasteurised milk. See Wikipedia for more info. So think carefully before you decide to drink raw milk. It may provide health benefits but it also provides health risks. Personally I would only drink unpasteurised milk from my own cow.

      Reply
      • Emilie April 22, 2013, 4:56 pm

        As with any other food, its source and the cleanliness of the source (and distribution lines, etc.) matters – so if you’re drinking raw milk, of course you should make yourself familiar with its producer and their cleanliness standards! Still, raw milk is an incredibly safe food, especially compared with all the recent outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, listeria, etc. in various foods.

        http://www.foodrenegade.com/government-data-proves-raw-milk-safe/

        Pasteurized milk is pasteurized because it *starts out* dirty (not in all cases, of course, but because it will be pasteurized, it need not be clean to begin with). Raw milk dairies must be scrupulously clean, and the cows must be healthy, in order to prevent passing any contamination into the milk. Milk that will be pasteurized has no need to be clean to begin with, since all the disease-causing bacteria that may be in it (as well as the beneficial bacterial that are in it) will be killed during the pasteurization process. Cows whose milk is to be pasteurized are often kept in deplorable conditions, wallowing in their own filth. They are often pumped full of antibiotics (due to the dirty conditions and the close quarters that cause disease to easily be spread, and also because for some reason antibiotics cause increased milk production) and growth hormones for increased production. Raw milk dairies cannot use these tactics for increased production, because with increased production comes the need to milk the cows more frequently. Too-frequent milking causes stress on the udder and infection of the udder, which leads to nasty bacteria in the milk (which can simply be pasteurized).

        Reply
        • Lisa M April 26, 2013, 9:00 am

          What Emilie said x1000. We drink a gallon a day of raw milk and it’s awesome. Have toured the farm and met the family that runs it. They are completely dependent on the reputation of their products (also have pastured meats, eggs, etc) to survive, so take every pain to keep the animals and product healthy. They even have lab equipment on site to test milk daily, prior to distribution.

          Reply
  • Andrew April 20, 2013, 6:13 pm

    I think you have perhaps gone a bit far with this article. I think that you are drawing conclusions that are convenient based on your preference for cheap calories.

    I think it is dangerous to tout the health benefits of a diet which modern medicine would largely dismiss as being very unhealthy. As someone who has a large following of people who will not do their own research, I think you have a duty to exercise a little more discretion in what you post.

    Cooking in bacon fat and lard has largely been abandoned for well documented reasons. The saturated/unsaturated fat mix is not good, plenty of salt, nitrates etc.

    I do agree that total calories is probably the biggest problem in many peoples diets, but I think you could have stopped your article at that point. People would still save money

    Advising in the way you did could be very dangerous. It would not be unreasonable to assume given your large readership that you could actually do some harm to someone if you and your anecdotal evidence do not turn out to be correct.

    If you want to be involved in advising people how to eat, you should get some letters behind your name and conduct some actual controlled research. Your friends blood tests do not qualify. Lots of people thought smoking was great for us…. until we did formal research.

    Reply
  • Bryan April 20, 2013, 6:22 pm

    I completely agree with MMM’s paleo eats. I’ve dropped almost all grains, including most oats, and I feel so much better and have a much easier time keeping weight off. If I over eat in the protein department nothing bad happens, but as soon as I eat a weee bit too much simple sugar or carbs, you can be sure I’ll have a little bit of new pudge after a few days. Research the paleo diet, it’s based on how we used to eat thousands of years ago. Our modern diet is less than 200 years old and isn’t based at all on what’s best for us. It’s based on instant “taste” gratification.

    Reply
  • totoro April 20, 2013, 11:22 pm

    Well, in my lifetime eggs and fat have been bad for you and you were supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Artificial sweetener was also widely embraced. Of course, all of these things have now been disproven or fallen out of fashion. Science is pretty unreliable here in my books.

    Why?

    Maybe it is because there are some nutritional truisms, but each person has their own genetic make-up and historical diet adaptations? There was an experiment in Canada with aboriginal people reverting to a traditional diet called “My Big Fat Diet” http://www.mybigfatdiet.net/ It was wildly successful.

    My guess is one day we will have nutritional profiling and your genetic make-up will be matched to an individual ideal diet. Maybe the Germans will have more potatoes and the Japanese more rice.

    Until then this is my research based on my subject group of one with a mixed German, English, Irish, and Scottish background:

    1. Diets don’t work. Reducing fat leads to a boomerang fat stock-piling effect for next famine when you start to eat normally. For me, full fat products are much better than reduced fat. It is not only taste, but getting rid of hunger.
    2. Eating more fat is generally okay and “reduced fat or artificially sweetened” products are mental traps that our body knows are stupid and is not fooled by for one minute so it triggers more hunger to get the good stuff.
    3. Carbs are not all equal. Instant noodles vs. sweet potatoes. Change this habit by choosing higher value carbs and less of them and you will likely feel better. It is worth the experiment anyway.
    4. Drink when you are thirsty not because you need a certain set amount as recommended by science.
    5. Eat when you are hungry even if it means you don’t eat breakfast (blasphemy). Sometimes I forget to eat all day if I’m engaged in something. I bet there is a reason for this genetically (survival oriented) and we know our ancestors experienced food shortages periodically.
    6. If you are hungry all of the time something is out of whack. It could be genetic or maybe you need more fat. Try more fat and less sugar first and then head to the doctor. Food addiction happens and needs to be treated – earlier the better. Stop blaming yourself- get help and move through it.
    7. If you have a craving, ignore it for five minutes. I forget about it most of the time. The rest of the time I eat the chocolate.
    8. Artificial sweeteners are traps. You save nothing and you give your body a signal that it is going to get something and when nothing is delivered you are going to get hungry. Yep, you can fool yourself some of the time…
    9. Fresher/more local is probably is better. I’m uneasy not knowing how well the supply chain is monitored across borders. I personally like eating from the garden but I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes because I seem to do fine with store-bought stuff too.

    No doubt the modern sedentary lifestyle plays a part, so exercise is up there for me as a work in progress, although I have avoided repetitive or high impact stuff. If you push yourself this way you are asking for joint problems later imo. We are outliving our ancestors so we’d better protect the equipment a little better.

    Reply
    • Emmers April 28, 2013, 8:57 am

      The 8-glasses thing is about non-diuretic fluids, not water per se. You could also get that from juice, non-caffeinated soda, fruit, whatever.

      Reply
      • Mike August 20, 2014, 9:16 am

        Not only that, but it includes liquid in the food we eat, and it should be 8 cups. If you eat a lot of soup, and other high liquid content foods, you may not need to drink any additional water. http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glasses.asp

        Reply
  • Mary April 21, 2013, 9:23 am

    If you want evidence that what this post says works, check out Dr. Lustig’s lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” on YouTube. It’s an hour and a half lecture out of the University of California in San Francisco and he runs an obesity clinic for kids. It’s not the fat; it’s the sugar.

    (I’d link but I don’t want to look like I’m spamming this blog. The lecture has millions of views – you can’t miss it if you search You Tube.)

    Reply
  • Giddings Plaza FI April 21, 2013, 9:57 am

    Weird coincidence, I just started doing “no sugar, no white flour” way of eating about 6 weeks ago. Without planning for it, I’ve lost my “last 5 pounds”. And because I love to cook for friends, this is definitely a tastier way to go about it. I absolutely miss bread and pasta and sweets–but I still have them maybe once a week, so it’s not the end of the world. MMM, another great post!

    Reply
  • perthcyclist April 21, 2013, 10:09 pm

    I would never have thought to put curry powder on fried eggs. I have no idea why not! Curry powder on boiled eggs is the bomb :P

    Reply
  • AC April 21, 2013, 10:20 pm

    In earlier posts, MMM said: “I used to assume that everyone over the age of twelve had figured out how to eat a healthy diet.” He then went on to suggest that we should eat mostly plants and to only use meat as a seasoning. Now he is promoting a Paleo Diet. Of course, everyone has a right to change their mind. I just think all this conflicting information is confusing. It is precisely why people can’t figure out how to eat properly. Like MMM, I’ve been interested in health and fitness since I was a teen. I’ve experimented with both low carb/high fat and a more traditional balanced diet. Low carb is great! Fat loss/muscle preservation on the diet is best on LC. You also look especially cut, because you are carrying about 10 lbs less water weight. That said, I find low carb to be very restrictive. I think for a competitive body builder prepping for a contest, LC is ideal. For the typical mustachian, who wants a long healthy life and low grocery bill; I think a balanced whole foods diet is the way to go.

    Reply
  • Jen April 22, 2013, 12:01 am

    Wow, loved the 1000-calorie breakfast! I love eggs with avocados – imagine it will be great adding cheese and curry!.

    Reply
  • AJ April 22, 2013, 2:01 am

    I do love MMM but I find these forays into food and nutrition the most un-Mustachian (yes I know… who am I to judge that?!) parts of MMM’s writings.

    Nutrition and eating should be far simpler than these posts make out. Just eat a good, balanced diet with a bit of everything but not too much of anything. Eat lots of vegetables, try to avoid processed foods, including the horrific white bread most people eat, and be active, and everything will be pretty much fine. And cheap.

    ANY “diet” which has a name (Atkins, paleo, low-something, high-something-else, whatever) should be thrown out and burned immediately. It’s marketing bullshit and will probably be proven in the future to be only half as good as people think now, or possibly harmful in some unforeseeable way. And it’s NOT NECESSARY to overcomplicate things!

    What I love about Mustachianism is that it’s mostly common sense wrapped up in a delivery which makes it obvious again! The best posts settle satisfyingly and permanently into position in the consciousness. They click into place and you can almost go “aahhhhhh” as you realise that actually you knew it all along, it makes perfect sense, you just needed to be have it brought to the surface and you can’t believe you weren’t doing it already because it’s so bloody OBVIOUS!! They also simplify life, distilling things down to what is necessary or will bring genuine contentment.

    These food posts are the complete opposite and smack of the same sorts of sensationalism and fad-ism which would be face-punched into submission in any other context. You’re telling people to use fucking protein powder!! Do you find protein powder CONVENIENT??? Are you ENJOYING your protein powder??? Do you take vitamin supplements too? Find a mirror and get your fist out, please.

    Reply
  • KC @ genxfinance April 22, 2013, 4:00 am

    Thus the question, do we live to eat, or eat to live? It’s amazing that you’re keeping track of you calorie intake. But yeah, eggs for breakfast are amazing. They give me energy until lunchtime.

    Reply
  • David W April 22, 2013, 9:32 am

    A variation on that last recipe… I like to poach some chicken breasts in a mix of spices and coconut milk over low-medium heat, then when it’s done cooking add some greens (spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, beet greens, etc) and cook until they’re done. Minimal effort, you can use frozen chicken breasts just as easily, and it tastes like you spent hours cooking it. High in good fats and flavor, low carbs, and impressive.

    Reply
  • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow April 22, 2013, 11:09 am

    Slight off topic but that cheap by the pound shredded cheese you buy buy from Costco is simply processed food crap, real cheese needs to be aged, processed cheese is milk in cheese out and they do it by adding emulsifiers (Ithink), real cheese is expensive because it needs to be aged.

    Of course I still buy cheap processed foods because, well it’s cheap.

    Reply
  • Brooke April 22, 2013, 3:38 pm

    I have been using my crockpot at least once a week for the last year and a half and its been such a money if not life saver! I recently had a flood in my kitchen which left me without an oven for a full week. I was totally fine living out of that crock pot for the duration and can’t begin to imagine how much money I would have spent eating out at restaurants had I not had it. I don’t spend any more than $14 a week on groceries thanks to shopping at ethnic markets and using the 60% rule of buying mostly fruits and veggies which fill you up so you’re not wanting as many carbolicious goodies. I also picked up a great tip to take pics on your cel phone of the price/unit of items you regularly purchase at a variety of stores for comparison shopping.

    Reply
  • Cas Hout April 22, 2013, 6:25 pm

    Well, we went to Ponderosa on the weekend and I had steak sirloin tips fried with onions and mushrooms in some kind of oil… They were dripping grease at any rate. I left weighing less than when I went in because my whole meal must have gone right through me. That can not be healthy ;)

    Reply
  • Iron Mike Sharpe April 22, 2013, 8:27 pm

    MMM,

    Check out a book called Diet Evolution by Dr. Gundry. He’s a world famous heart surgeon who became interested in WHY his patients had heart problems.

    He wrote this book that exposes the high carb, agriculture based Western diet as the source. He now runs a weight loss center in addition to his cardiology practice. He has shown that his patients can reverse the damage done by switching their diets to a more primal diet. Nuts, berries, leaves vegetables, meat & fish, and some fruits.

    I switched to that way of life a year ago and lost 55 pounds with no change in exercise.

    Reply
  • jessica w April 23, 2013, 10:53 am

    We have also been eating high fat, low carb diet, and we feel so much better! We aren’t tired, we are losing weight without doing anything different, and no more acne either. Also, here are some of our favorite low carb, high fat recipes that taste great!

    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/04/keto-omelet-dinner/
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/04/keto-pesto-tilapia/
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/04/keto-teriyaki-pork/ (great as lunches/leftovers if you work outside the home)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/03/keto-chicken-cordon-bleu/ (uses pork rinds as breading)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/03/awesome-keto-casserole/ (soo many veggies – great as lunches/leftovers if you work outside the home)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/02/zucchini-lasagna/ (lots of work but sooo tasty- great as lunches/leftovers if you work outside the home)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/02/no-carb-cream-of-wheat/
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/02/keto-pizza/ (GREAT pizza – good for lunches outside the home if you don’t nuke it too long)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/02/keto-pancakes/
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/02/keto-jalapeno-breakfast-muffins/ (can’t ever go wrong with some jalapeños! great as breakfast to go especially if you can nuke them at work)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2012/10/grilled-chicken/
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2012/09/spicy-squash/ (great as leftovers)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2012/09/our-favorite-italian-salad-dressing/ (what I grew up on – make a cucumber salad and it won’t get soggy with the dressing and have a veggie at work)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/04/keto-coconut-baked-donuts/ (coconut flour, if you have a sweet tooth)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2013/04/keto-iced-coffee/ (DIY, Iced Coffee)
    http://warfieldfamily.com/2011/10/jalapeno-poppers/ (also taste great as a snack at work)

    Hope this helps, my husband and I have been eating this diet for a while, and and we pay between 200-300 a month on groceries. It is only that high because we will be dumb and buy those tasty babybell cheeses and sometimes diet pop, but normally we keep it closer to 200 a month also lots of frozen veggies! Just steam them in the microwave if you can’t afford fresh, especially if you work outside the home. Stick from frozen veggies in a tupperware, sprinkle with seasonings, nuke for 2 mins in the microwave and they taste amazing!

    Reply
  • Tom April 23, 2013, 3:40 pm

    Got type 2 diabetes (late 30s) about a year ago despite being barely overweight according to (the admittedly flawed) BMI chart. Massively reduced carbs (mostly by avoiding all white flour, rice, and beer). Eat as much plant-fat as I like, but restrict myself to small servings of cheese, poultry, and eat red meat only about once a month (sorry MMM, but I think the data points against red meat remain pretty solid). I still drink, too much actually, but it’s almost all spirits (which are carb free). In other words, I began to eat nuts, fruit, vegetables, fish, oil, with an occasional bit of whole grains and meat.

    Off diabetes meds within 6 months & lost nearly 20% of my bodyweight, which is being maintained.

    One point though – I’m white. There is some data to suggest that people from Asia aren’t as likely to be sensitive to carbs. So I miss rice noodles but at least I got bourbon (and to divert to MMM’s core theme, bourbon is a very good value spirit!)

    Anyway, I think there is some reasonable disagreement about animal fat, but plant fats are clearly and unambiguously a better choice than grain-derived carbs. But even “healthy” cooking shows on TV don’t get that. Glad MMM does!

    Reply
  • jm April 28, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Reply
  • Casey B April 29, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Is there a booze you like to replace beer with? I don’t much care for wine, but I’d love to be less fat and more drunk.

    Reply
    • mattbkk June 4, 2013, 6:35 am

      Bourbon and Coke Zero with lemon or lime. Maximum intoxication for minimum calories. Or substitute any other spirit and/or calorie free mixer of your choice :-)

      Reply
  • Aaron April 30, 2013, 5:00 pm

    Saturated fats are the stable ones (i.e. safer ones to cook with).
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/#axzz2RzSVFGco

    And coconut oil is a powerhouse itself.
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/coconut-oil-health-benefits/#axzz2RzSVFGco

    Reply
  • Josh May 17, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Interestingly enough, a little more than a year ago I watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives that proposed a whole foods, plant-based diet as the guide to reversing and preventing diseases that plague us in the US. It does say that high fat, processed foods and added fats, along with dairy (something in common with Paleo), meat, and a move away from healthy starches (potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat items) and vegetables are the cause. Since then, I’ve been about 95% vegan, and even though I’m in good health and slim, I do feel better. Though, my grocery bill is higher because I’ve stopped buying dinner in a box. And because I don’t have any health problems, and I run, I supplement my diet with nuts, seeds and higher fat foods like Avocados. I hope that this prevents or reduces the fearful rise in healthcare costs down the road.

    Reply
  • Jessica May 24, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Thought you might like this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-ferriss/eggocado_b_3328506.html

    Avocados RULE!

    Reply
  • Midlife Jane January 1, 2014, 6:38 pm

    I recently discovered the very same thing with my own eating habits. I now use full whipping cream in my coffee, eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, and enjoy full fat greek yogurt often. I feel fuller, have more energy, and eat a LOT less overall, plus it gives me the ability to say no to sweets more often.

    I also found that adding a lot more protein to my diet overall had the same effect. I wrote an article about it on my own blog. I think it completely changed my life when I discovered this.

    High five to lower carbs, more fat and lots of protein!

    Reply
  • Paulina The Russian February 6, 2014, 7:17 pm

    I know this is an old post but I had to say WOW! That fish entree is the bomb! Made it tonight and my whole family ate it, including 3 picky boys. Not only was it easy to make, it was so flavorful! I plan to make it often. Thank you MMM for all you do for the community! You have helped to change our financial lives to even better (even though we were already doing pretty well). I’m going to be a loyal reader :)

    Reply
  • boo bear March 28, 2014, 12:54 pm

    A little late, but heating good oils isn’t always good for you. I think the coconut oil can take it, but avoid heating olive oil. Just pour it on afterwards. Happy eating and great blog!

    Reply
  • Ray April 2, 2015, 6:02 am

    For an alternative (critical and a lot more mainstream) perspective on low-carb diets and their effects on cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease, watch a series of videos by “Plant Positive” on YouTube, which quotes countless references that contradict Paleo ideas.

    Based on my own experience, going keto/low-carb/high fat has raised my cholesterol to 300 (later I found that it’s a quite common effect). So I’d advise anyone who adopts this diet to get their own blood work done rather than rely on marketeers, “blogging thought leaders” and anecdotes about friends.

    The ideological component of low-carb diets is very much in line with MMM-style libertarianism, but when it comes to diets maybe you should rely on nutrition science rather than ideology.

    Reply
  • Elly February 26, 2016, 1:04 am

    Bravo! This post reminds me of Rudolf Steiner’s written lectures in circa 1925 where he said that sugar is essentially the cause of consumerism. I wholeheartedly believe that, given the human psyche’s addiction to gratification, brought about the ease and simplicity of accessing sugar in this day and age, which causes… You guessed it, that sense of immediate gratification. Multiply by frequent hits in a day and it soon starts to pile into us getting that gratification by any means possible, not just via food. Sweets were meant to be rewards and the occasional dessert, not an everyday occurrence. I have been living largely in avoidance of refined sugar and processed wheat/flours for years, came to America and momentarily stopped doing that, and now am back to it again. As researched, my Health flipped flopped pretty much inversely correlated with sugar in my diet. And I don’t even avoid all sugars, just the hidden ones!

    Reply
  • SuzannaDanna December 14, 2016, 6:56 pm

    This is interesting since I was just reading about the health benefits of butter coffee, where butter from grass fed cows is blended with coffee. It’s supposed to taste better than it sounds and have amazing health benefits as well. I haven’t tried it yet but am intrigued enough that I plan to pick up some butter on my next grocery run. There is a lot of information on the web for anyone interested in learning more.

    Reply
  • Marty Kendall February 18, 2017, 8:30 pm

    Great post. Fat is definitely the cheapest macronutrient. Some more nerdy data analysis here-
    optimisingnutrition.com/2015/07/30/the-cost-of-going-low-carb/

    Reply

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