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Level of fat in the diet

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Calathea, May 18, 2012.

  1. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Opinions vary hugely on how much fat it is healthy to eat. The traditional guidelines tend to be along these lines, and I think that they're fairly sensible. The recommendation they make of 20-35% of calories from fat is quite a wide range, however, and some diets go a fair amount beyond that. The McDougall diet recommends only 10% of calories from fat, and at the other extreme, low-carb diets such as Atkins can have people on 40% or more calories from fat. The very low-fat diets tend to be plant-based and the very high-fat diets tend to place a greater reliance on animal foods. Health claims and research are all over the place, to the point that you can easily back up either end of the spectrum. This makes it rather hard to work out what to do!

    Taking for granted in this thread that it's all rather subjective, and that there's no point in getting into arguments about whether or not people should be vegetarians or what have you, here are some points to ponder.

    1) Fat has 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have 5 calories per gram. This means that eating a greater proportion of fat in the diet tends to lead to a higher number of calories. While weight control is affected by many factors, calorie consumption is the key one. Some people with ME tend to be underweight and some tend to be overweight. So a higher-fat diet may be easier to manage for some groups than others in this respect.

    2) Fat helps make a meal satisfying, and for various reasons we definitely need some of it in our diets, although what the safe minimum is gets disputed. Fat can also make food addictive, especially in combination with salt and sugar. Again, this relates to weight concerns in fairly obvious ways. Sometimes it can be a matter less of how much fat you eat than what form it comes in and what it's accompanied by, in terms of how easy it is to stop at a sensible amount - I find it difficult to stop eating crisps (chips to Americans) or biscuits (cookies, more or less), but I will be perfectly satisfied by a stir-fry which happens to contain some almonds.

    3) Arguments rage over exactly which types of fat are best for us and what forms they should come in. The main agreement seems to be that trans fats are bad, and that processing and over-heating are generally a problem. Some authorities claim that saturated fats are the best thing ever, others thing they are terrible.

    4) There seems to be some haziness about the exact point at which a good fat turns bad due to heating or rancidity. Should we cook with our olive oil? Should we keep nuts and seeds in the fridge?

    5) The brain is largely made of fat, and some of the most notable health claims for essential fatty acids are brain-related. ME folks could all do with any kind of brain boost we can get! EFA supplementation is one of the better-respected alternative treatments for ME, there are plenty of people who swear by it.

    6) Essential fatty acids of the sort that are focused on for ME are mostly found in fish. There can be problems with contaminated oceans and so forth. Plant sources do exist, but tend to be rare and/or difficult to utilise. From what I've gathered, anyone who feels that they need more EFAs and who doesn't eat fish should probably get them from supplements rather than food sources. There are, of course, debates as to which is the healthiest form of EFA, how we should balance DHA with EPA and so forth.

    7) There is a strong correlation between a high-fat diet and heart disease. While any dietary research of this sort is necessarily complicated - for instance, most research subjects out there eating high-fat diets over the last few decades were generally on fairly unhealthy diets overall, we're talking about things like the typical Scottish diet rather than legions of devoted paleo followers - it is still something to bear in mind, especially considering that heart problems are common with ME.

    8) People with ME often have digestive problems. Sometimes these digestive problems include difficulty with digesting fats. Sometimes they cause other dietary restrictions, e.g. being on an anti-candida diet, being gluten-free, having to limit fibre. I wouldn't be at all surprised if most of the people in this forum have restricted their diets in some way due to illness. And a few more will have restricted their diets for other reasons, e.g. ethical/religious reasons or avoiding certain foods due to a family member's allergy. This can make it harder to get a good spread of nutrients from food, and can result in the diet needing to focus on certain areas.

    9) This is thoroughly anecdotal, but I've heard that there may be a gender correlation with regard to problems with weight control, i.e. women with ME being more likely to gain and men with ME being more likely to lose. I've also heard that the ones who tend to be underweight often look quite jaundiced, and from having chatted to other people, it seems as if the ones who put on weight tend to put on disproportionate amounts of weight in their abdominal area (the more dangerous type of weight gain, and also more likely to affect hormones).

    10) Paleo diets, which I believe tend to be relatively high-fat, are quite popular as a treatment for ME, though obviously they work well for some and not for others.

    My own history: I'm female and one of the people who tends to put on weight. I'm also vegan, and can we just agree now that we're not going to get into the pros and cons of ethical dietary choices. I think a lot of the weight gain was due to chaotic eating routines, though perhaps there was also a hormonal component. I have lost the excess weight over the past year by simple calorie-counting; I was already on a wholefoods diet, though I had the odd bit of snacking to contend with. My natural diet easily falls within the recommended guidelines for ratios of carbs/protein/fats. About eight or so months ago, I was diagnosed with gallstones, and told to eat a lower-fat diet in order to avoid gallstone attacks. So I became quite good at lower-fat cooking, counting out the almonds and avoiding avocadoes altogether. The gallbladder came out two months ago and I am now free to eat whatever proportion of fat in my diet that works for me. Since vegan protein sources tend to be higher in fat, the amount of fat I eat usually goes with the amount of protein I eat, and higher-protein diets are often recommended for ME. That said, the greater calorie density is difficult, since I need only 1400 calories a day in order to maintain my weight (I'm 4'11 and 100lb), which doesn't leave much wiggle-room.

    I'm curious as to how much fat I should be eating, within the limits of staying at a healthy weight and eating enough over the day to feel satiated. Obviously I'm only eating plant fats, but I'm sure there are many of us trying to balance this out who are also eating animal fats. Should I snack on almonds or toast, for instance? The doctors are no help, they know next to nothing about nutrition and just mutter vaguely about how they recommend everyone to be on a low-fat diet.

    What does everyone else think about this issue? Is there anyone who has experimented specifically with changing the amount of fat in their diet, without concurrently changing other factors (otherwise it gets too complicated to be sure exactly what has caused what), and if so, what have you found?
  2. nanonug

    nanonug Senior Member

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    This is one of the (big) problems I have with counting calories this way. Sure, when one gram of fat oxidizes, it releases 9 calories. However, how many calories does the body expend - digestion-wise - to absorb that gram of fat in the first place? I know that digestion of fats is a very expensive process. What about sugar? It's almost free for the body to absorb the thing. So, considering how much it costs to digest fats versus sugars, what is the net amount of calories available for the body to burn? The answer to this question eludes but would very much like to know.
  3. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I think that people who are counting calories for weight loss generally find out what works for them in terms of calories, which is usually a mix of recommendations based on their weight and activity levels, and trial and error. It's usual to have to tweak the suggested level of calories. Once you've found that, then it tends to be about finding a way of eating that works well for you, which includes fitting in with whatever restrictions you are using to keep the calorie level low (not all diets explicitly count calories, but they all work by causing calorie restriction). Some people find that if they raise or lower the proportion of one macronutrient, or even a food group, they need more or fewer calories for the same results. I would suspect that this would vary more in people with digestive or metabolic problems. I generally hear about that approach in terms of carbs, though, not fat, but then carbs are what people are most likely to focus on these days.

    All I can tell you from experience is that I started out with around 27% of my calories from fat and dropped it to 20% when I got the gallstone diagnosis, and that level of change did not affect the number of calories it took for me to lose a pound a week. I finished losing weight just before the surgery, and once I'd settled back down to eating normally, I was on substantially more calories than before (it makes a bigger difference when you're my size). I've noticed that the percentage of fat in my diet has increased, perhaps because I now have more space for snacks in my diet and they tend to be higher in fat. I'm not sure whether I should chivvy my fat percentage down to where it was earlier, or go with it and start eating more nuts and seeds. Boost was raving on about the wondrous effects of sesame seeds in chat the other, for instance, he's been doing very well on them. I'm still in the mindset where I cautiously count out the almonds but throw vegetables around with abandon. Admittedly this is mainly down to basic calorie density, and I'll have to continue being careful in order to maintain my weight, but I think I have enough wiggle room now to play with the ratios a bit. And that's including having a bit more chocolate than I was having before!
  4. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Nuts and seeds generally have too much poly unsatured fatty acids, as well as phytic acid that you don't want much of.

    Regarding cooking with olive oil, experts think it should not get heated over 300 degrees and sometimes not that high: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=56

    The processes used to make oil from seeds and grains (like corn) are generally unhealthy. People think that these oils are healthy. Maybe healthier than some, but not as good as avocado oil, coconut oil, and cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil.

    In your case you don't eat meat, but for those who do, any hormones or chemicals the animal is exposed to is going to be mostly in the fat. So it is generally unhealthy to eat much of it, unless you have animals raised naturally.
  5. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    It's odd that coconut oil gets mentioned in this context. I've seen it recommended before, but I always find that it burns quickly, so I almost never use it, and usually have to have a mug of water on hand so that I can tip a little into the pan before anything burns. This may be because it's the fancy-schmancy cold-pressed extra-virgin variety, and the reason I have a tub of it in my fridge is because it makes fantastic moisturiser.

    I cook most things in extra virgin olive oil (don't think it's organic or cold-pressed), and for far Asian food which doesn't work with olive oil, I am currently using rapeseed (canola) oil since that seemed to come out as quite healthy last time I was researching this, though I also have a nice bottle of a blended stir-fry oil which I think is mostly sunflower with a bit of sesame. I can't remember the last time I actually had oil start to smoke in a pan, it's very rare for me. Since I am not sticking a thermometer in the pan, I have absolutely no idea what temperature I am cooking at, but I use a ceramic hob which doesn't exactly get to blazing, and I sauté in a small amount of oil (usually 1/4 tsp) and a nonstick pan rather than deep frying. I am now reading up on this out of curiosity, as I have heard that overheated oil is fairly dire in health terms, and this article say,"Most home cooks rarely get their pans and the fats they cook with to the proper temperature." Certainly judging by how long it takes me to make a stir-fry, I don't think I get my pans all that hot.

    My margarine is non-hydrogenated, forgot to mention that, and I rarely use it at all, let alone put it in a frying pan.

    When you say that nuts and seeds have too much polyunsaturated fats and phytic acids, at what quantity does this tend to become a problem? I do use them very sparingly, and some things are reasonably beneficial if you eat them in smaller quantities.
  6. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    The fat issue is complicated and not at all clear.

    The first point is to address the myth that eating fatty foods makes you fat. Its not entirely correct - its based on unproven presumptions. Every study that has looked at higher fat diets since the 1930s has found that they assist weight loss. When high fat, high protein and high carbs diets are compared head to head, with equivalent calories, then a high fat diet is best at promoting weight loss, then high protein, and high carb comes last. How do you fatten cows for market? Feed them grains.

    This is not the end of the issue though. Carb snacks can be loaded with salt and fat as well (e.g. fries) and this is a bad combination in terms of the impact of insulin which will promote fat storage.

    It is a well established fat in cold climate medicine that the best way to promote burning fat for energy is to eat more fat. The body takes time (days to weeks) to optimize for fat burning. The mechanisms responsible are largely shut down on a high carb diet. So to improve fat burning you need to eat a higher proportion of fat. Do this with low calories and you maximize weight loss.

    A higher fat intake may well increase risk factors, particularly cardiovascular risk factors. This is however largely about three kinds of fats - pro-inflammatory, saturated and trans fats.

    Pro-inflammatory fat is by and large just arachidonic acid, a fat that is found in higher concentration in meat. So excessive meat fats (though dairy and organ meats are also high in this) can promote inflammatory processes. Plant fats don't do that nearly as much.Plant fats do contain precursors to arachidonic acid (short chain omega-6 fats) but these have to first be converted to arachidonic acid in the body - thats a whole other story I keep meaning to write a blog on but never get around to.

    Saturated fats are largely animal fats too. We need saturated fat in the diet. I have been on ultra low fat diets in the past. A common but anecdotal finding is that under about 3% saturated fat by calorie, negative side effects occur. This includes headaches. The body can synthesize saturated fat (unlike other fats) and so it can compensate, but it isn't a good idea. Saturated fat can lead to cholesterol synthesis, and cholesterol is a repair molecule - in a healthy body cholesterol is a good thing, the problem is that in the presence of vascular lesions with inflammatory and oxidative processes, excessive cholesterol can lead to vascular disease. Saturated fat also modifies cell membranes and tissues, decreasing flexibility and nutrient transfer. So saturated fat is a good thing, but only in moderation.

    Trans fats are just nasty. They have only one beneficial purpose - used as fuel. If they are not consumed for energy then they are a problem waiting to happen. They harden cell membranes and tissues in a way similar to saturated fat. They can also bind to enzymes that make hormones from unsaturated fats - it is not known, to my knowledge, if this has a substantial impact on essential hormone synthesis, but its suspected. There is no good reason to eat trans fats. They are a commercial choice as they are more stable - highly processes commercial oils for example are often high in trans fats, though in recent times there has been a push to decrease trans fats to as low a level as possible.

    One final point. I once looked at the energy production from fat with respect to oxygen consumption. I was using ATP equivalents per molecule of oxygen as my main measure. If we are hypoxic for any reason, burning fat for fuel could produce problems. I no longer recollect the conclusion I came to, nor the calculations, but I was left with the impression that fat burning put excessive demands on oxygen. It might be good if someone were to look at this again - I might if I get the time but I am busy with other projects.

    Bye, Alex
  7. xrunner

    xrunner Senior Member

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    I tried a vegan raw food diet, and as you said, it's main source of calories tended to be fats.
    At first it made me feel good but after a while I started to feel more and more tired.
    It was certainly a co-factor for developing this illness. As soon as I went back to my old diet, in conjunction with other interventions, I started to gradually recover.
    Fats do not work for me as a calorie source, I need carbs for stamina.
    There are certainly healthier fats than others but fats are fat, and make me fat. I don;t know about you but they seem to go and deposit straight around my waste.
    Not sure what a general healthy ratio should be but in my case it's personal, i.e. the amount that doesn't make my waste larger, which is perhaps around 10-15 grams max daily of pure fats such as olive oil or avocados (but excluding fats incorporated in other foods such as dairies or meats).

    PS: If I remember, the phytic acid problem can be solved by pre-soaking nuts and seeds.
  8. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I don't think I mentioned vegan raw diets, but they've never sounded appealing to me. Quite apart from liking cooked food, they are far more limited than I'd be happy with. Grains and pulses are important things.

    10-15g of pure fats is actually a reasonable amount, it sounds like you can eat a fair bit of fat before it starts to cause weight gain.

    The thing about fats making it easier to gain weight is the higher calorie density. If you eat an ounce of nuts and an ounce of beans, you will get far, far more calories out of the nuts. Same goes for other high-fat foods. It takes far more calories' worth of a fatty food to feel full than it does of a low-fat food, so it's much easier to overeat if you're eating a lot of fat.

    Alex brought up high-fat diets being tested where they involved the same number of calories as lower-fat diets. I think the thing is that this doesn't happen that often. With most people, if they are eating more fats, they are eating more overall, so the number of calories is higher. So it's very interesting to see what happens when you take two healthy diets, on the same number of calories total, and change the macronutrient ratios around.

    Of course, this still leaves me unsure of how much fat I should eat, but the study Alex cites sounds promising.

    I'm looking up the phytic acid business. Soaking nuts sounds like a dispiriting task. How much of a real problem does the phytic acid tend to be?
  9. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I agree with most paleo concepts, and mostly follow a primal diet, and they say you can eat a small handful of nuts/seeds a day. More than that would give you too much poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and phytic acid. Particularly if you are already getting either or both from other foods. IMO a little phytic acid is fine and probably good for us in some way.

    I did not mean to suggest heating coconut oil to high heats. Avocado oil and macadamia nut oils are two of the best for higher heat. They are expensive oils. Most people believe safflower, grapeseed, rapeseed, sunflower, corn, and other oils like this are healthy. Paleo followers learn they are not.

    Macadamia nuts do not have the PUFA as high and they are the healthiest nuts overall. Peanuts are not actually nuts and are legumes, so paleo avoids them. Almonds are not avoided in paleo, but something I read make me decide to avoid almonds, and cut back on cashews. There are plenty of other choices of nuts and seeds.

    If you are not vegan, pastured butter and pastured ghee are very high quality fats too.

    IMO everyone should supplement 1000 mg a day of fish oil, and perhaps 2000 mg. I don't know if you are against that, or if there are veg substitutes.

    Some experts (I believe
    George Mateljan is one
    ) don't think we need much fat. IMO it depends on your personal metabolic profile and other pathways and all that. Personally I think we should eat as much fat as we want, if it's the healthiest fats.
  10. caledonia

    caledonia

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    Just to really confuse the issue - Eskimos prior to 100 years ago ate nothing but fish and raw or lightly boiled meat and fat from whales and seals. They were healthy, no heart disease, etc. until they started eating a modern diet.

    I just eat Paleo and don't count calories. I'm losing weight. I found out through experience if I eat any grains (including gluten free grains), I gain weight. If I cut out the grains, I lose weight.

    I've found it's actually easier to overeat grains than fat. You can only eat so much fat.
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  11. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I am aware of studies (that I haven't read in a long time though) that show that high fat diets lead to weight loss. You get fuller faster and eat less, and the body is optimized to burn fat. The real problem is high carb/high fat/low protein. This particular combination is bad news. Most of the studies on fat and weight gain seem to be based on a presumption of high carbs. Under the condition of high carbs, the evidence is clear: if you want to eat a lot of carbs you need to keep fats low. The mechanism appears to be this. Carbs raise insulin levels, and insulin drives both fat synthesis and fat storage. Since you are burning all those carbs, the fat burning capacity is shut down and you can only do one thing with fat under those conditions: store it.

    If you want to eat carbs in high quantities, its mandatory to keep fat intake low or you will gain weight. This is very clear.

    Now I am not saying a very high fat diet is healthy. Healthy is a different issue to weight loss. For example, when you eat a lot of fat you get very thick blood which impairs circulation, and this persists for hours.

    A high protein diet is a different blend. Higher fat intake is not accompanied by higher insulin because carb levels are low, so more is burned as fuel and less is stored. It also provides more vitamins and nutrients in usable form: we are animals and not plants. That includes methyl folate and B12, and Coenzyme Q10.Something else is in meat that often doesn't get talked about, though not in large quantities: carbs (including pentose sugars).

    As countries move to embrace a high carb diet, historically, weight gain increases dramatically. Want an obese population? Feed them carbs. The only counter-trend to this is from low glycemic carbs. If they provide energy slowly then they are less likely to promote weight gain as there is no glucose surge. One of the big factors in low glycemic indices though is fructose composition. If you can't handle fruit sugar then a low glycemic diet is more difficult for the most part, and a high protein diet is the best option.

    In ME we have a very high protein requirement - I strongly suspect its has been severely underestimated. High protein diets can provide this. This does not mean loading up on more and more protein - empircally the optimum protein dose, according to a number of Australian doctors who looked at this something like 10 years ago (but not published I don't think), is about half again what a healthy person would eat.

    Personally I think there are many good reasons to go high carb and low fat. Fruits and vegetables contain lots of antioxidants. If you want to do this, then low fat is mandatory as I have said, or you can easily gain weight depending on calorie intake.

    Another trap that hits us with junk food is flavour. While it is often high carb and high fat it also often has salt and various flavourings to entice us to eat more. We naturally like flavourful things - so we eat way too much if we are not careful. So I am less concerned about fats such as cream and butter (in moderation), but very concerned about french fries, especially things like KFC or chili-cheese fries. They are the perfect blend of taste, carbs and fat to make you gain weight.

    Nutritional science is a minefield. I think a lot of it is unproven dogma, especially with "rules" that are true under limited conditions but are accepted as true universally. We need a whole fresh look at it by researchers. We also need nutritional research dedicated to ME and other neuroimmune disorders.

    Bye, Alex
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  12. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    No wonder it's all so complicated! But what you are saying about keeping fat low if it's high-carb, and being able to get away with it better if it's low-carb and high-protein, makes sense of a lot of things.

    On the subject of carbs, something that annoys me about the modern low-carb movement is that all carbs are treated as equal, and they're really not. There is a massive difference between sugar and wholegrains, for instance, in terms of satiety, what it does to your blood sugar, nutrient composition and so forth. Some can't tolerate either, granted (and there seems to be a high level of grain sensitivity amongst ME sufferers), but I think the majority of people overall find that they respond very differently depending on the type of carb. And you also get people who chant that carbs do not make you full, only protein makes you full - true for some people, but emphatically not for all. I certainly do much better with a goodly amount of complex carbs in my diet. It's an excellent fibre source, for starters, and my digestive tract is the sort that needs plenty of fibre (which is true of healthy people in general but not everyone with ME digestive problems, the IBS-D types).

    I seem to recall that in terms of obesity, there are plenty of countries which traditionally have a fair amount of carbs in their diet where they did fine until they adopted a more Westernised diet. Moderate amounts of grains seemed to promote a healthy diet; adding lots of sugar is obviously going to be bad, but I think there was also an animal foods component, such as adding huge amounts of milk or something in cultures which didn't traditionally eat it. I can't remember all the details, and this sort of thing is insanely complicated. Countries don't change their diets by just one factor at a time, as far as I remember, and even if they just added one food to change the balance, a single food is fairly complex. About the simplest thing I've heard of is malnutrition rising when poorer countries switch from wholegrains to refined grains, which is a relatively isolated thing to change.

    On the subject of protein requirements, Alex, do you have any idea what sort of proportions you are talking about when you say "high fat", "high protein" or "high carb"? I've seen high-carb used to described anything from 50% of calories from carbs to 80%. With protein, it either tends to be described as percentage of calories (10-15% being the usual guidelines, but some diets go for far, far higher) or number of grams per kg of body weight (e.g. 1g protein per 1kg body weight). If you happen to have any numbers you could throw around there, even vague ones, I'd be very interested to see them.

    SickofSickness - I wasn't heating the coconut oil to a high heat, that's the odd thing. Maybe it's because I tend to use coconut oil for stews, and I make stews in the stainless steel pans rather than the non-stick frying pan, so there's more opportunity for them to burn in that way? Either way, I find it really isn't a convenient oil for cooking with. I can cook fine with olive oil in those pans.

    PUFA business - I'm guessing we're back into one of the controversial areas again, since about the only thing I've seen agreed upon universally is that trans fats are bad. Anyway, could you give me a rough idea of the thinking behind PUFAs being bad?

    A handful is a bit of a vague measurement, and indeed I think that may be why I put on weight when I was snacking on handfuls of nuts (you can have very big handfuls!) but regardless, my current nut/seed intake isn't more than even a small handful. So that's good to know.

    And yes, I don't take fish oil, partly for ethical reasons and partly because I vomit if I'm anywhere near fish. Veggie substitutes are rare and expensive, once you discount flaxseed oil which is poorly utilised (and in my case gave me terrible breast pain). You can use echium oil, sold as Echiomega (same people who make VegEPA fish oil, a popular brand for treating ME), or algae oil, where there are a couple of brands about but V-Pure is a popular one in the UK. Both of those manufacturers declare that their ratio of EPA to DHA, which is very different for the two plant sources, is the only one that is any use. I'm taking both, but due to financial considerations I can only afford one 500mg capsules of each at the moment.

    Incidentally, does anyone have a clue why I should have had that sort of hormonal reaction to the flaxseed oil? It's meant to have beneficial effects on hormones if anything. It took two months before we realised the connection (my GP agreed), and once I stopped the flaxseed oil, the horrible breast pain stopped too. I was taking 1g/day. In terms of other hormonal responses to Omega 3 oils, I have found that echium oil works fairly well to counteract the longer periods and spotting caused by having a copper IUD. This has been reported for various oil supplements, including fish oil and evening primrose; echium oil is still new enough that there has been very little research on it.
  13. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Flaxseed oil can induce all sorts of hormone synthesis. Its rare to see an issue, but its theoretically possible. The series 3 eicosanoids which are made from omega-3s are also mostly inflammatory, just less inflammatory than series 2 eicosanoids made from omega-6 fats. Now some of these eicosanoids, even the omega-6 ones, are really really good for most of us. We need all of them though. The issue with us is we probably oversynthesize some of the series 2 eicosanoids due to a range of factors I have discussed elsewhere. I really need to write this up in a blog, but I keep getting distracted like with some history of medicine I read today - things are worse than I realized, but I will blog about that soon.

    (Let me give a teaser on my blog: how long was it before the discovery of H. pylori and the widespread use of antibiotics to treat it and peptic ulcers? I used to say 20 years, some used to think 10 years - a figure which I used to think is only right for countries like Australia and the USA - but both of these are very very very wrong. It goes back to before I was born, and I am 51. More on this later. Compare this with a mere three or four decade delay on the use of aspirin for cardiovascular disease. There are some seriously damning implications from this.)

    Protein requirements as estimated by local docs for ME patients (actually they were using CFS criteria) were about 1.5g per kg of lean body weight per day.

    On ratios of carbs etc for hi carb and low carb etc, I don't think it matters much except that as carbs go up fats should come down. I don't recommend only 10g of fat per day, I think thats too low. One hormonal neutral fat that we can eat is monounsaturated fat - so far as I am aware this is not made into hormones. Its found in extra virgin olive oil, but also peanut and canola oil. A really high source is (preferably cold pressed) macadamia oil. Cashew and almond oil are fairly high too.

    A lot of countries with traditional high carbs, I think, probably had a low fat diet. Many also had calorie restriction (such as Okinowa). I don't know anything much about this topic though.

    Bye, Alex
  14. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I think you're right about those countries, yep.

    The person who said they had about 10-15g pure fat in a day wasn't including other dietary sources of fat, which I assumed brought the total up considerably. I only use a few grams of fat per day for cooking, and I'm still averaging (as of the last fortnight) 41g fat per day on a 1400 calorie diet. Admittedly I've been indulging in chocolate slightly more than usual over the last few weeks, but the majority of that is still from my food in general - and being vegan and not over-liberal with nuts and seeds, my diet is probably naturally quite low in fat.

    1.5g/kg - thanks, good to know. I'd need to work at it to get my protein intake up that high, it comes to about 69g, which on a 1400 calorie vegan is challenging. I never warmed to protein powders, I don't know what the dairy ones are like but the plant ones are pretty much vile. I'll try messing around with pulses and so forth more, and stop wasting calories on chocolate! I've been stress-eating a bit this week, we've had various delightful experiences such as the water being turned off for most of Thursday, amongst other things. I'll have a think about how far it's sensible to eat things like the Nakd bars (cashew or cocoa orange) as occasional snacks. They can be quite useful to keep by the bed or in my handbag for emergencies. I also default to oatcakes quite often, or rice cakes with a smear of olive oil and pinch of salt.
  15. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    Hi Calathea, just to clarify an issue, the 1.5g/kg for protein is based on lean weight. If you are thin that is about right. If you are overweight then you need to use only the lean weight in the calculation. Adipose tissue doesn't require a lot of protein to maintain itself.

    I could not get enough protein as a vegetarian. When I started eating meat again my health improved.It can be done I think, but its a lot of work to get enough protein as a vegetarian.

    The other issue is the body can only properly handle a certain amount of protein at one time. It does not help if you eat all the protein at one meal.

    Bye, Ale
  16. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I've just looked up lean weight, and realised that it's meant to be about 75% of total weight for a normal-weight woman (I have a BMI of 20, for reference). So that means that we're talking about 51g protein instead of 69g. Now that is actually manageable, and in fact is what I have been averaging over the last couple of months. Good to know I'm on track, then. I was starting to stare in a depressed fashion at protein powders again. I do have a nice little recipe for chocolate peanut butter balls which I make myself, containing some protein powder and also other protein sources in the form of nuts, but you can't exactly live on those.

    It's not generally difficult to get the usual recommended amount of 10-15% of calories from protein as a vegetarian. I think it's when you get into substantially higher levels of protein than that, that's when it gets difficult. And some people do find that they need higher levels of protein, of course, or find that other nutrients are coming into play, or have restricted their diet in other ways (e.g. going gluten-free) which make it harder to get enough of a nutrient.

    Good lord, I couldn't even imagine eating all that protein at one meal!
  17. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I struggle with protein because of budget and availability of sources I consider high quality. IMO 1.3 grams protein per kg is a good minimum for someone with ME, and if I had budget/sources I would love to do 2 grams protein per kg. Anyone who works out and wants to gain muscle does 2.2 to 4.4 or more grams per kg, just for comparison.
  18. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi SickofSickness, over the years I have heard many stories of people on long term protein intake of over 2g of protein per kg of weight. A disturbing number of these develop health problems, including kidney problems. This is all anecdotal of course, not based on any proper study, but I would think 2g/kg would be the absolute maximum to be safe - particularly since we start out not well. I also suspect 1g/kg would be the minimum to meet our basic requirements - a healthy person can benefit from 1g/kg.

    I currently think consumption of over 2g/kg is burning protein for fuel in all probability. This might be desirable for some, but its not to provide protein for repair and maintenance, and that includes building muscle.

    Bye, Alex
  19. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

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    I want to add here that some knowledgable doctor, such as Dr. Hyde, wrote that ME patients tend to test low on protein in blood tests. This has been true of me and I think I eat a good amount of protein, and at every meal. As for fats, they help me feel satisfied and not eat too much. I have always had excellent LDL and HDL numbers, "abnormally good". I don't eat sugar or refined carbs, but do eat fruit, but never fruit juice. Sometimes I get carried away with refined carbs in the form of salty pretzels. These help me sleep somewhat better but do not help the serious hypotension I have, which you might think they would.

    Does anyone know which doctor or researcher pointed out that ME patients' blood tests as having low protein? I think this is important, because perhaps our bodies just aren't taking it in properly or getting it out to where it is needed? Any answers?
  20. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Alex - those figures are for lean weight rather than overall weight, right? Could we maybe put together a table of what this equates to for overall weight, in order to minimise confusion? I assume we'd need six categories, for thin/normal/overweight men/women.

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