Doc’s Talk 09-23-2012

Dr. Scaff talked about fats.

Nutrition experts say you should eat more carbohydrates and less fat, …and they’re all wrong!

Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., former Chair of the Maryland Department of Nutrition and author of Know Your Fats, one of the best books on nutrition in existence, declared that the food pyramid is upside down.  Meaning…

Saturated Fats Are Good For You!
Milk contains stearic acid, the essence of beef, which lowers cholesterol by 10 percent.   Eat a pat of butter a day, and change nothing else, and your cholesterol will drop.  It works better than Cheerios or oat bran or whatever is being advertised these days.

So saturated fats DO NOT raise cholesterol.  A McDonald’s hamburger is beef; if you don’t gain weight, it’s good for you

Monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats include things like olive oil (a vegetable oil) and they are good for you but they are not much better than saturated fats in total.  Dr. Scaff reminded everyone of a few articles he previously shared where studies were done on the 3 different types of diets:  the carbohydrate diet, the glycemic, and the fat diet.  Of the three, the fat diet had the best profile of all.  This should all make you feel very, very good because it is giving you reasons to be a little more liberal in your diet.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are highly unsaturated and they are supposed to be about the best of all.  One of these is called canola oil.  Canola oil is highly polyunsaturated and cheap.  It was originally developed to take paint off of aircraft fuselages.  But as Mary Enig said, so does safflower oil, and all of the other oils, it is just that they are very expensive.

Where does canola oil come from?  Everybody says the canola tree, the canola plant, but it comes from the rapeseed plant.  Almost all rapeseed in the western hemisphere is grown in Canada.  In Europe they call it rapeseed.  The Canadians and the Americans, however, don’t like that word, so they changed it to “canola”, which stands for Canadian Oil Association.  Thus, when you are buying canola, you are buying oil just like when you go to ARCO you buy ARCO for your car, it’s just a different kind of fuel.

Fats Are Basically Good For You And Why
The heart is a fat burning organ
.  You must remember the only way we know you are dead is when your heart stops.  You have AIDS, you waste away, your heart stops, you’re dead.  You have cancer, you waste away, you’re dead, but the autopsy is normal.  You take women with eating disorders (mostly women, but men too) like bulimia or anorexia, they get so small they die of a heart rhythm disturbance, or in the case of fashion models whose BMI is less than 18 they fall over dead (you are not allowed to model with a BMI of less than 18).

So, the body craves fats.  It cannot get quite as much fats from carbohydrates as it could, and yet when you read all these running magazines, they have you on high pasta, high carb diet, when in truth you need some fat.

When you are running your legs can go, your brain can go, but if the heart goes you are not going to race any more.  When you are running as you are developing lactic acidosis in the marathon and that is causing all the muscle pain, the heart is so good that it can actually transfer lactic acidosis into burnable fuel.  So in other words, even when you are dying, your heart says, “Fine, I can take care of this.”  Of course when you quit, if you don’t get the regular diet again, you are in trouble.

In Your First Marathon – The Last Word In Long Distance Running, by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., you will find there was a study done on female ultra-athletes.  Ultra-athletes are individuals who do marathons (50K) or longer.  They found that by increasing the fat diet in women from 35 – 45 percent fat, nearly half fat, their endurance increased and their running ability increased by 20 – 30 percent.  This works in men too.

So the more you run, the more fat you eat.  It is as simple as that.  Dr. Scaff is not suggesting we all go to 40% fat diet.  The American Heart Association says 35 percent fat, and that is for regular people. Runners are not regular, they are ultra-athletes.  Runners are animals.  They represent less than 0.1% of the United States.  No matter how slow they may be, they are still ultra-athletes.  Therefore a runner has got to treat their body accordingly.

So don’t be afraid to be fairly liberal in your diet with 35% fat mixed up.  You have to remember, humans are omnivores, we are not herbivores or grass eaters, and we are not carnivores or meat eaters.  We can eat anything.  That is why our intestines are so short.  If you look at a cow it has to eat all day long, you look at simians, the ones that are in the zoo and in the tree, they have to eat all day long because they have to eat so many carbohydrates and be able to absorb it.  Humans could not afford to do that as hunter-gatherers.  We have a shorter gut, so what Dr. Scaff says is pour it in there, the gut has had 2 and a half million years to take care of it, and let it sort it out.

The bottom line is if you feel good about the hamburgers or pizza, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of it.  It is not bad unless it makes you fat, and for marathon runners that is not going to be a problem.

There is much more on fats and nutrition, including Chapter 35 “The Omnivore’s Guide to Perfect Nutrition”, in Your First Marathon – The Last Word In Long Distance Running, by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., available for purchase at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic on Sundays and online at:

Next Sunday Dr. Scaff will talk about beer and other beverages.


For some good reading on nutrition, Dr. Scaff recommends everyone check out the daily postings on Dr. Alan Titchenal’s “Got Nutrients?” web site:

Here is a recent posting:

April 22, 2012
New research indicates that the evolutionary success of the human race and development of a large brain was closely related to the consumption of meat. At our current stage of evolution, the challenge has changed to determining how much meat is appropriate in the contemporary human diet.

Consumer Link
Meat Eating Behind Evolutionary Success of Humankind, Global Population Spread, Study Suggests

Research Link
PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (4): e32452 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032452