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Good Fat, Bad Fat — A Video Tutorial

When I tell people about my diet, they smile and nod through just about every detail.

Oh, you make your own condiments? Great. You cook everything from scratch? Great. You source local, organic vegetables and meats? Great.

When I tell them I cook with animal fats — lots of animal fats — I lose them.

It just goes against the grain of all the nutritional and dietary advice we’ve been fed. Equating a low-fat diet with health goes back at least 30 years. It’s an ingrained prejudice we can’t easily overcome.

So, when I set out to create a series of empowering video tutorials, I realized one of the first things I’d have to do was make the case for eating animal fats.

And that’s what I did. It’s 18 minutes of video packed full of information — maybe too much information.

Hope you enjoy!

(Please note: This is a large streaming video file. If you don’t have a super-fly fast internet connection, you may find it handy to pause the video after it starts playing and allow most of it to load before you resume playback.)

For a more in depth look at the information contained in this video, check out Eat Fat, Lose Fat — a FoodRenegade Must Read.

Now, I want to hear your stories. Are you struggling to give up your low-fat mentality? Or, like me, have you always been a lover of fats? Do you harbor a prejudice against saturated fats? Come on! Spill the beans.

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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28 Responses to Good Fat, Bad Fat — A Video Tutorial
  1. John H
    February 9, 2009 | 1:46 am

    Wow, what a great overview of the fat situation. I’ve been low-carbing for a few months, so I was already familiar with most of the material, but it’s great to have it all in one place. Great work!

  2. April
    February 9, 2009 | 8:18 am

    I’ll have to watch this later when the little ones are napping. When I first started hearing about Weston A. Price and this kind of diet, I thought, “These people are nuts–they’re all going to die of heart attacks!” But then I started looking at the research–looking at the facts, not just the anecdotal advice I’ve heard all my life. And then I thought, “This is too good to be true!” :o)

    I have “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” in my little basket of library books–I’ll be reading it this week or next.

    I can’t tell you if we’ve seen any health improvement since eating this way (we’ve only been doing it for a few months, and we’ve only taken babysteps), but everything sure is tastier! Hooray for real food!

    April

  3. KristenM
    February 9, 2009 | 8:59 am

    John — I think going low-carb *can* be good for people, particularly in our grain-saturated culture. My one hesitation to totally endorse those diets is that most low-carb dieters (at least in my experience) *don’t* take the time to make sure their animal proteins and fats come from pastured/wild sources. So, they eventually wreak havoc on their systems and increase their risk for heart disease and cancer.

    Oh, and thanks for the kudos on the video. It’s my first attempt at anything like this, so I was mostly just getting familiar with the video and editing software. Expect only improvements!

    April — I wouldn’t expect someone to notice immediate health benefits. Most of the benefits of eating traditional foods are long-term and have to do with reduced risk for chronic diseases and bad teeth. With time, when you’re really invested into it, you’ll also notice that you have a stronger immune system and hardly get common illnesses like colds, flus, or stomach bugs. And you might look back across a couple of years of eating this way and notice you’ve got improved energy, stamina, and fitness (particularly if you use a traditional foods diet as a reason to reduce grain intake and go low-carb).

  4. Rigel Thurston
    February 9, 2009 | 11:29 am

    This is really encouraging. I used to be a hyper Adkins diet follower for several years. After going through many significant weight change swings, I got a little disillusioned. Some of the studies you mention in your video are similar to the studies used to promote Adkins diet. However you distinguish more between good fats and bad fats and industrialized vs grass fed meats. Thanks! :)

  5. KristenM
    February 9, 2009 | 11:57 am

    Rigel — I’m actually quite worried about Atkins dieters who don’t bother to do the research on where their meat & eggs come from. Didn’t Atkins himself die of a heart attack?

    • jo
      October 12, 2012 | 3:01 pm

      No Dr. Atkins did not die of a heart attack. Many paleo type followers put down Dr Atkins and the Atkins diet. They actually have him to thank for the resurgence of low carb way of eating. He contributed immensley to current low carb knowledge and was years ahead of his time in his thinking.
      Who says Atkins dieters do not care about where their food comes from?
      I appreciate and advocate for overall low carb health. There are mor similarities than differences. Paleo can be snobbish which is extremely distasteful. Might as well be a vegan. Primal is much more friendly.

  6. Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?
    February 9, 2009 | 12:04 pm

    Wow a whole video. Nice work! As for me, i went through that phase in the 90′s of eating zero fat. Now I don’t worry about it. As long as my meal is homecooked, using natural and whole ingredients, I don’t worry about how much fat is in it. My preferred fats? Olive oil and ghee.

    Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

  7. KristenM
    February 9, 2009 | 12:10 pm

    Michelle — I can’t imagine eating zero fat! WOW. I’ve always been a foodie at heart, and we foodies eat food for TASTE. So, I never could get on a no fat or zero fat bandwagon because I loved the taste of whole fat foods.

    Ghee (clarified butter) is a good, traditional fat. I’m glad you mentioned it. Do you make your own or do you buy it?

    I mostly use olive oil, butter, and coconut oil. While I enjoy other animal fats, I don’t do very much high temperature cooking that would require them. Plus, getting fats from free-range/wild animals is a little hard! You’ve got to know the right farmers or render the fat yourself. I do that SOMETIMES, but it’s work. And, I’m lazy!

  8. Debra
    February 9, 2009 | 9:16 pm

    Hi Kirsten
    After eating lowfat for some time now, (since my husband was diagnosed with diabetes II four years ago) and having lost no weight, we have made the effort to eat natural foods, eg. fresh vegetables, unprocessed meats and cut out presevatives, articial stuff and packaged foods. I have only recently come across your website and started reading Nourishing Traditions. You both support my way of thinking.
    However, surely ‘too much of a good thing can be ‘bad’ for you. We only use butter (though bought commercially and probably not from grass fed cows) but feel we need to be careful how much we eat because we tend to eat more of it than we did margarine, simply because it tastes better. I’m looking for the right balance.
    I looking for better options all the time, but having been so ‘industrialised’ for so long I’m not sure of where I can get these products from. I live in a small country town on the far south coast of Australia and we are having a ‘slow food’ showcase in June. I can’t wait to meet some of the farmers and growers.
    I loved your video and can’t wait for the next instalment. My husband even sat and listened to it… most interesting. We love the idea of ‘real’ food.
    Deb

  9. KristenM
    February 9, 2009 | 9:31 pm

    Hi Deb — Thanks for sharing about your journey! I *wish* I knew more about where folks outside of the U.S. could find Real Food. Even here, where it feels like it’s right around every corner, I’m shocked at how few people realize they can pick up farm fresh, organic produce, eggs, and meats.

    Definitely go to that Slow Food showcase. Is it hosted by Slow Food International? Those folks are awesome!

    As to “too much of a good thing,” I can only say this. There are A LOT of traditional people groups where 40-80% of their caloric intake comes from good fats. And these people are lean, muscular, and have zero chronic diseases.

    Food for thought, isn’t it?

    Cheers,
    KristenM

  10. Stephanie
    February 10, 2009 | 1:48 pm

    Yay for animal fats! Natural and traditional is the way to go.


    BODA weight loss

  11. sum wun
    March 28, 2009 | 12:50 pm

    excellent! thanks for this…

    although i must say, coconut oil goes rancid pretty fast too

  12. KristenM
    March 28, 2009 | 1:03 pm

    sum wun — I’m sorry to have to correct you, but that’s just not true. Unrefined coconut oil will keep for years.

  13. Marci
    May 3, 2009 | 8:04 am

    No Atkins did NOT die of a heart attack. He fell on some ice and hit his head.

    As to animal fat, normally it would be very healthy if it’s from free range organic grass fed beef [same applies to chicken, etc.]. However, since ‘regular’ meat, esp. beef, is pumped full of anti biotics, hormones, etc., which are STORED IN THE ANIMAL’S FAT, it would NOT be a healthy thing to eat.

    ‘Pure’ animals, raised on what God designed them to be eating, are very healthy and their fat is ‘clean’ and very good to eat and healthy for us.

    I agree eating good fat is a good thing.

  14. Walter Jeffries
    July 26, 2009 | 11:16 am

    We love fat. It’s biological – in our taste buds. Fat tastes good because it is good for us.

    In our family’s cooking we tend to stick to the simpler fats. In much of our cooking we use pork lard for the simple reason that it is what we have plenty of from raising our own pastured pigs. When we have duck, chicken or other fats we save them for use too – excellent in so many dishes.

    Obesity is not a problem for us – we’re physically very active and live in a cold climate so we burn a lot of calories. If we were doing sit down desk jobs we would need to eat less. With our daily activity levels, without fats in our diet we would get rail thin and chill. The livestock are one of our ways of storing the summer for winter.

    Cheers

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in the mountains of Vermont
    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/
    http://HollyGraphicArt.com/
    http://NoNAIS.org

  15. Annie
    September 5, 2009 | 10:50 am

    Recently found your blog and am intrigued by all the information!! I’m curious, where does one find foraged hog lard?? (wow, that was hard to type! LOL) I’ve been a believer for quite a while that the whole fat free thang was just stupid.. I, at 100lbs overweight, am a testament to it! I’m doing my homework on finding a nutrition plan I can live with – for a long long time. I’ve done the atkins thang.. but got bored with the food. I’ve done the vegan thang and craved meat. Now, I’m just going for balance.. and trying to define what balance is! One focus though is on taste.. because if it doesn’t taste good, I won’t stick with it!

    Blog on!

  16. Susie Ustariz
    September 20, 2009 | 9:14 pm

    Hi there,
    I was super excited to come across this as i’m trying to learn the difference between the good and the bad…. but the video link no longer works :( Any chance you can look into this? I’ll keep checking in to see if it’s been fixed….

    thanks so much, the information you share on this website is invaluable!

    Susie

    • KristenM
      September 20, 2009 | 10:28 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out Susie! It should be fixed now.

  17. Laura
    October 5, 2009 | 1:49 pm

    Just finished watching the video:) I had some questions regarding oils. Not much mention was made of nut oils. I like them for flavor and some like peanut oil have been recommended for high heat cooking. I’m a cook and although it’s pretty easy in California to get good animal protein ie grass fed and finished, I don’t see a lot of beef tallow for sale anywhere. I use olive oil for most cooking under 400 degrees, and coconut oil also. But the high heat oil recommendations had me stumped. I guess I could make my own ghee from organic butter, but how do I find out if the cows were grass fed? I am concerned about the fact that although I’ve made the change to organic food, this designation doesn’t mean that I avoid overeating things like industrial organic animal feed (too much soy) and oils.

    I guess what you are not saying in this video is how to source this food in a way that works for most people. Do you have resource links to CSA’s throughout the country that would make it possible for folks in urban and suburban cities to acquire this good food? This is essential information for people to be able to follow through on the changes they are going to want to make.
    Thanks, love the site, must ask ?
    Laura

  18. Werner Intense Weight loss
    November 23, 2009 | 7:59 am

    Again, perfect article, this time around i brought my dad along to show him how fat intake could help him as well as do him harm
    thanks for the great info!
    .-= Werner Intense Weight loss´s last blog post …Lose Weight on Hips and Thighs: A Quest for Slimmer Hips and Thighs! =-.

  19. Tabatha
    September 16, 2010 | 10:49 am

    For the longest time I avoided fat. Not religiously, but I would give darling hubby the skin on my chicken, I would toss the fat scraps from many meats I’d trim, I threw away bacon drippings. NO MORE!

    For a little over a year now, I’ve been reading, learning, taking classes and basically devouring every bit of info I could find, from Nourishing Traditions to The China Study. I became convinced simply because of my family. All my uncles, my aunt & my mom were raised on formula, given skim milk when they were older, avoid fats religiously (because of obesitiy) yet they are still obese and most of them have health issues.

    My father on the other hand, grew up on a farm, drinking raw milk, eating fresh & homecanned veggies, wild game & grass fed livestock (because they couldn’t afford grain). He’s got a great weight and his only health issues come from his smoking. Those of us in the family (3 I think now) who don’t worry so much about the fats, but like real foods and enjoy cooking… well, we’re not only not obese, we’re pretty darn healthy!

  20. olivia
    November 3, 2010 | 9:18 am

    how do i watch this video. It doesn’t seem to work

  21. Doug
    September 20, 2011 | 12:08 am

    You COMPLETELY had me at “I cook with animal fats — lots of animal fats”

    There are no finer two words in the English language than ‘encased meats’ my friends………

  22. Caiti Jayne
    February 21, 2012 | 7:52 pm

    that was really helpful! thank you :)

  23. Rachel Valentine
    May 5, 2012 | 9:37 pm

    Kristen, I appreciated the video on Fat. I’ve been a loose vegetarian for a decade now (I have occasional fish, cage-free eggs regularly, and some cheese); it’s the approach that most aligns with my spiritual convictions. Generally, I belived it to be the healthier choice though I think for many this can be completely untrue with all the GMO’s, processed foods, and oils that still make their way into vegetarian diets. I rarely ever try to convert anyone to vegetarianism, instead I have just always said to people to eat more greens and fruits if they can. BALANCE, you know?
    Whenever I learn something new with regard to health and food which makes sense to me, I try my best to incorporate it. A while back I did away with Crisco, soybean, canola and corn oil due to the GMO situation and also when I found out that heat effects oil, something that I never knew! I see you are on the side of olive and cocunut oil, but what’s your opinion on Safflower and Grapeseed oils? The bottle of Safflower oil I have here says its high in monounsaturated oil, but is that all there is to it?
    Also, i’d like to know what you think of the FOOD MATTERS documentary which I was really impressed with. They took up the issue with injesting too much processed foods and flours and such, which you agree with. Though the stance they take on meat and dairy doesn’t seem to align with your views on fat. I’d love to hear your what you have to say. To be fair, the doc did point out that modest amounts of dairy and meat did not appear to contribute to cancer growth; too much meat and dairy in conjunction with the consumption of processed foods, however, did contribute to cancer growth. I don’t recall them addressing this issue with the polyunsatured fats connection to cancer, which to me is a vital point that should have been made to make their case.
    I have also studied the Gerson Therapy for cancer which does not allow meat and oils for the worst of their patients, for a prsecribed time of course. Later on I believe butter is permitted. Another note, it was interesting to see you mention Ghee because although I have for a while been fascinated by some of my shiny happy healthy raw foodist friends, I have often wondered to myself how it is that the Ayurvedic diet permits butter if it is such a bad thing. This science has been intact for thousands of years and it addresses the WHOLE person on an individual basis which I have much respect for.
    Anyway, I’d appreciate your thoughts. I’m open to the Truth, whatever it may be as I continue along on my journey. I will share this video with my friends!

  24. MG
    December 16, 2012 | 2:53 am

    I don’t see the video either….

  25. Madelaine
    May 26, 2014 | 10:16 pm

    I really like it when folks get together and share thoughts.

    Great blog, keep it up!

  26. I never bought into the “lowfat” bs, however, I did go through a short phase of believing canola oil and other unsaturated fats were the best thing for you (I just threw my last bottle out a couple of days ago). Wow am I relieved to know it is the opposite. I love bacon and who could turn down the fatty goodness of properly cooked steak. Yum! Thank you so much for your site. In just a few days I have learned so much.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.