Do you recommend supplementing with essential fatty acids?

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Ms. Landis-

I enjoyed your BodyFueling book.  It is well written, full of science and common sense.  One question though:

You recommend avoid adding additional fat to meals and you allow lean meats on your program.  If I don't add essential fats to my diet, how can I get them on a low fat diet such as yours where in my case, fat comes mostly from lean animal meat?  Today, even free range animals have poor fatty acid profile (higher in saturated fat and lower in essential fats).  Wouldn't supplementing with EFAs be required to avoid EFA deficiency on your program?

This would make weight control harder, but would EFAs be worth the risk of weight gain?

Many thanks.  Kind regards



You're absolutely right. Some things have changed since I wrote the book (it was after all published eight years ago and written ten years ago, though I can hardly believe it's been that long!)  I myself no longer use meat as a protein (or fat) source in my diet at all. And in the past decade, new health information about fats has also come to light. Therefore, I am generally more relaxed about fat consumption than I was 10 years ago, and specifically more conscious of using particular fats for their health benefits. (That is not to say I now eat a *high*-fat diet, just that it would probably be characterized as more moderate, definitely not extremely low fat.) I do take EFA supplements and particularly recommend flax; I also use moderate amounts of olive oil in cooking; less frequently some sesame, soy, hazelnut or almond oil for special cooking or baking purposes--and very occasionally, even a bit of butter (organically produced, of course); imagine that! :)  And I have not gotten fatter--rather, I have become even leaner, despite slowly increasing the amount of fat in my diet over these years.

It is *crucial* to emphasize, though, lest anti-carb advocates pounce on this ;->, that I am NOT advocating a high-fat, high-protein diet. There is no reversal or dramatic swing to an opposite extreme here. Eating "more" fat than I used to still doesn't mean "LOTS."  It means "a little more than before." It is not an abandonment of fat moderation--just a small upward adjustment. And it had as much to do with an ongoing movement in the direction of common-sense leniency and permissive ease--toward further relaxing and "going with the flow" about eating in general--as any scientific influence.  This ideal of informed/educated yet laid-back moment-to-moment choice always has been one of the cornerstone elements of BodyFueling®.

In practical terms, it means that whereas at the start of BodyFueling® I tended toward a fairly ascetic 10-15% fat diet, I now likely hit 25-30% of calories from fat. That is still considered low-fat by the mainstream health authorities, although not necessarily by the staunchest low-fat advocates. Additionally, I am recommending slightly more (of relatively proven "healthy") fats, and not additional meat or protein; in no way can this be compared to or even considered closer to diets that espouse a primarily protein-and-fat-comprised menu. Further, I would *still* recommend 10% calories from fat or thereabouts--the more stringent end of the low-fat recommendations--for those with any history of heart disease, cancer, or indeed any of the other conditions in America's "top ten" killers. Certainly those currently treating, say, coronary artery disease would do well to stick to the 10% goal and eschew ALL animal/saturated fat. Those folks would do well to abide Dean Ornish's or John McDougall's guidelines, which they stand by and which I would certainly would support for folks not already in superb health and fitness with exemplary bloodwork (low cholesterol levels, etc.) and so on.

It also means that I balance my choices with other factors--not predicating them on fat content alone--often choosing a *somewhat* higher-fat version of a food if it is in other ways healthier and better (e.g., I would favor a cookie with organic ingredients, complex sweeteners and 4 grams of fat over a nonfat cookie with corn syrup, other highly processed sugars and cheap ingredients, made by a corporate giant whose practices I loathe.  On the other hand, I would still be hard-pressed to choose any cookie that had, say, 18 grams of fat--unless it was *really* a special cookie and a special occasion! :)  My point here is that lowfat/nonfat, alone, isn't always "better." (See my website Q&A on "What's New Since BodyFueling" and "What do you think of the concept of certain blood types needing different types of protein?" for more on this.)  I do check, register and consider what's in any food I may eat. But my standards are multifaceted, and I base choices on a number of factors.

It's also important to note that I actually get far LESS *saturated* fat than before and NO fat from meat sources. As a vegetarian who has increased the consumption of "healthy fats" moderately, but greatly reduced dairy and eliminated all flesh foods, the net result is slightly more total fat, but less damaging fat.  That has made me ever leaner and healthier. Ten years after following BodyFueling® along my own personal path, increasingly incorporating environmental and ethical as well as health considerations, I am a decade older yet have a better body now (and an easier conscience as well).

All this supports a point I have urged repeatedly throughout my works, which is that there is more to all this than "one thing" or a single simplistic answer; there are many factors to consider and fold into your decisions. All fats is not "bad"; neither are they all "good."   I myself don't count, measure, weigh or track stringent calculations of fat amounts or types, nor of anything else.  I simply let my knowledge--modestly ever expanding as it is--influence, color, and guide my choices, moment to moment.  I trust that the overall result of that is aimed somewhere in the ballpark I want it to be (perhaps better some days than others, but in the end, not too far either side of the mark). My health and fitness continue to bear that out. And my peace, deep enjoyment of food and eating, my autonomy and imperviousness to ludicrous fads, and indeed my sanity all continue to be protected from the maniacal measuring, weighing, and holy-grail searching that the diet-thinking establishments continue to generate.

That's still what Bodyfueling® is all about. :)  But to answer your specific questions more succinctly :) --with a few habitual corrections to your wording--BodyFueling® is purposely, pointedly not a "program." :) "Weight control" has nothing to do with it--"control" is not a desirable not necessary state to live in, especially around food in my opinion, and weight is irrelevant to all of this. Finally, most to your point, supplementation with EFAs *is* not only healthful but will not make anything "harder"--it will not make being lean and healthy difficult, it will in fact assist you with that.  :)

I really appreciate your question and the opportunity to clarify this not only for you but for others, since not having a new book out yet makes reader mail the best forum I have for important clarifications and updates such as this. With your permission, therefore, I'd like to use your letter and my answer in the Q&A section of my website. In exchange for this privilege, I would be happy to send you a copy of my book Herbal Defense, which actually contains a more detailed update on fats (circa 1997, anyway!), which your letter has also inspired me to add to the "Excerpts" section of my site. I can use your last name, last initial only, or "name withheld" at your preference, and would just need your address in order to have the book sent to you.

Thank you!


Robyn Landis

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