Thursday, September 17, 2009

Want some acid? Bad trip on palmitic...

Well, it's Thursday night, only another 20 hours to go until my next doner kebab. Our Friday night habit has become something of a ritual and Glasgow is graced with the most enormous choice of doner shops, certainly compared to Newbury. But the quality is a little suspect on occasions. We have had two kebabs where the grease left in the bottom of the container HAS NOT SOLIDIFIED.

This is worrying and I certainly do not revisit those particluar shops. The Anniesland shop by the railway station has turned in to this category. A real doner kebab should leave solid white fat in its container and a coating of thick grease on your lips. This is mutton fat, predominantly stearic and palmitic acids. Real saturated fat is hard when cooled. Runny stuff makes me think it's adulterated with soy oil or sunflower oil... No thank you! Gimme the hard stuff.

Anyone with the sort of doner habit I have is well aware of the catastrophic effects of palmitic acid on appetite control. You know what it's like. You go in to a kebab pusher's den, I mean shop, for just "two small doners, no bread, no salad, no sauce", eliciting the ritual response: "What, just the meat?" in a heavy Glaswiegan accent. "Aye, that's right" you confirm, usually with a double thumbs up (I'm learning the lingo, does it show? I haven't dared add "laddie" to this intonation, yet. I value my teeth). Use the same shop twice and you become well known (infamous?). You've promised yourself that you're only going to eat one portion and your wife intends to share the other with your toddler son.

Anyhoo. Half a pound of doner meat down and you are now just ravenous. You fight the hunger off for another 10 minutes, but you know you are on to a looser. You blow another £3.20 on a second portion. Sitting in Mothercare's car park, finishing your second kebab, you promise yourself that now you will just drive home and stop eating, and you actually turn on the ignition before the palmitic acid driven hunger breaks your will like a matchstick and you go back for a third portion. This time you don't leave the shop and wolf down your fourth portion, an extra large one, which gets you up to well over the two pounds of meat mark, and you need more. After that it's a race within the family to spent the week's food budget on Friday night doner kebabs. With five or six pounds of meat eaten you hopefully run out of money and the palmitic acid pusher mercilessly and mercifully kicks you out on the street, half a sheep in your stomach and ravenous from the palmitic acid flooding your brain. That hunger is going to go on for days and you already are aware that there is no money until the next giro comes through...

WHAT? You don't recognise the scenario? Well that must just be your ignorance of this study and this newspaper article summarising it.

I have to say I quite like what I have seen of the study. It's really very weird, in that it actually gives you the exact diets used, in full. That's a bl**dy first in recent "fat bashing" studies. It is also published in a free access journal. This too is very good. It has pretty good control groups etc. I will actually read it in full some time but, at the moment, I just have to comment that it is utterly, totally and completely divorced from my experience of reality. Does anyone else develop driving hunger from a single exposure to lamb fat (or butter, as in the study)? That goes on for days?

Which planet do these rats and mice live on? Possibly the same one as the researchers, ie not the Earth!


EDIT: Thanks for the heads up Mark


Aaron said...

Actually, when given just meat and fat-- I will eat until the cows come home. 2nds, 3rds, 4ths. I used to think that protein would make me full, I think that's only in people who can't tolerate a lot of food in their stomach!

Only when I have eaten some starch or sugar containing food does my hunger start to come down. Too much sugar however, I get even more hungry ( gotta have some sugars, just not too much!)

ItsTheWooo said...

This reminds me of what happens when I eat coconut in significant quantity. Hehe. Screws me up good.

While red meat is generally the least offensive meat I can think of, it is true for me that once I screw my metabolism/hunger I am typically screwed for a few days.

Butter, however, is not at all likely to trigger this reaction. Quick google shows that butter is only 15% palmitic acid and most of it is oleic acid (monosaturated). I am well aware monosaturated fats are the most metabolically neutral/beneficial fats in terms of glucose utilization/sensitivity to insulin.

I suspect they will discover, with more research, that there is some sort of agonist/antagonist effect of various fatty acids going on, where metabolic state is determined by the balance (as well as quantity) of fatty acids. In other words, saturated/palmitic acid may favor glucose elevation (this is not a new finding BTW) but monosaturated fats may actively antagonize the effect of palmitic acid and promote glucose uptake. In real life terms, this means whether or not one is hungry/hyperglycemic/metabolically FUBARed will depend on the balance of fatty acids they are consuming. I.E. you should be alright with butter, as butter is mostly monosaturated fat and relatively little SFA/palmitic acid... and common sense suggests every human being in the world will report greater satiety after eating a nice butter-rich food item, even when calories are equal to other foods.

I also suspect that this is going to, yet again, pan out to be a finding which is more relevant as a cautionary against overindulging in carbohydrate.
A predominance of palmitic acid is "the first fatty acid produced from lipogenesis", therefore is going to be a byproduct of growing fat and making fat. It will turn out that high levels of palmitic acid acting on the CNS probably has a whole lot more to do with hyperinsulinemia (i.e. high calories and high carbs) than it will beef butter or lamb per se.

Chris said...


Peter said...

Aaron, that must be why they put the onions in the doner kebabs, just about the correct amount to fit with the Optimal Diet...

Its, I think we will eventually find out that palmitic acid is a key metabolic switch for the decision making re whether to burn glucose or fats. Working out how this fits together is very difficult in the current research mindset. But palmitic acid, in humans at least, is right there at the centre of glucose conversion to fat and insulin signalling to muscles. I have a thought experiment on what will happen when Dr Clegg's group develop a drug which blocks palmitic acid's effect on insulin resitance. It won't be pretty...

8 hours to kebab-time Chris!

Jezwyn said...

Haha, madness! I usually have a nice fatty lamb chop for breakfast these days, at around 7:30am, which keeps me going until at least 4:30pm when I have lunch. Often I just wait until dinner at 6pm. This system also works well when I have beef for breakfast. Portion is usually around 150g-200g.

And on the days where I am out of lamb and have bacon and eggs instead, despite the added pork fat, I'm feeling the hunger come in waves by around 2pm!

And in response to Aaron's comment, I could probably keep eating too, I rarely find myself stuffing myself full unless I'm eating roast chicken and can't find that satisfaction sweet spot. But my body is tuned to the signal (leptin) that tells me that I have consumed enough energy to keep my system running smoothly. It's not about volume. The only times I used to feel driven to keep eating, or felt hungry right after eating, was when I used to eat pasta and rice and pizza on a wheat base. I never felt the food even touch my stomach! It was a revelation when I finally learned why I felt that way early this year, and why obesity rates are sky-rocketing.

Peter said...

Hi Jezwyn,

I remember back when I went paleo for a few weeks my biggest problem was that I could actually overeat on fat. Fatty lamb chops (with some of the meat trimmed off, to keep protein down at the OD level of 65g/d) served with cabbage, slow cooked in lamb fat, was a recipe for fat overload. Nausea would kick at about 20 minutes and last an hour. I rapidly learned not to do this!

It is completely different from the same amount of fat taken with a serious portion of rice. The insulin from the rice shifts the fat in to storage so fast you feel fine but get sleepy from the insulin/hyperglycaemia combo. I can remember lying on the floor groaning about my gastric distension discomfort in pre LC days. Not nice. Especially if I fell asleep for an hour or two there! But no fat overload nausea.


gallier2 said...

Hello Peter,

the Döner meat is not always mutton (I would even say it is quite rarely mutton, at least here on the continent). I ask always what meat it is and very often it is chicken or turkey with ground calf/beef. I even encountered kebabs with pork.
The poultry kebab would also explain why the leftover grease doesn't solidify.

Thinking Aloud said...

Hey Peter

Ron Rosedale has a gripe with eating too much in the way of saturates when you are trying to lose weight and when you are not already an "effective fat burner". His main argument appears to be its ability to keep you leptin resistant (presumably if you already are). That is my layman's interpretation - he can be cryptic sometimes, presumably when going on a hunch.

He appears to be pretty indifferent about how much saturated fat you consume after becoming an "efficient fat burner".

Might this be because it doesn't really then have the ability to keep you leptin resistant, if you aren't to start with ?


Cupcakes said...

I just take kebabs how they come, and eat around the wheaty goodness. I even dare to pick the melted cheese and peppers off the bread-they call me crazy. I too have experienced the bafflement when confirming 'No Rice?!...No nan bread?!'

The only thing which makes me hyperphagic is dairy. I can go totally face down in Cheddar Cheese and the like. Peter, I remember you writing a healthy gut should easily be able to digest casein, but does this mean someone with said gut will experience the opioid effects? I am thinking about the view of Cordain and Eades saying it is the wheat which causes problems, then dairy on top wreaking havoc.


MarkD said...


Great post, I tried to read the original research article but it baffled me.....
Nevertheless your "thought experiment" is spot on.

Thanks and Regards Mark

gunther gatherer said...


Gut integrity can also be compromised by fructose intolerance. Apparently this goes severely undiagnosed due to the dogma that fruit MUST be good for us.

Try limiting the fruit and veggies and see if that doesn't cure the hyperphagia. I also love cheese and was pained to give it up, but taking out all sugar strangely made me feel satisfied or at least indifferent about eating even after several hours of an empty stomach.

Peter said...

Hi Gallier,

Yes, there are different sorts of kebab meat but lamb doner is supposed to be lamb. It's known that there is adulteration. I certainly don't want chicken fat in my lamb any more than trans fats... The genuine chicken kebabs are quite visibly different to lambs meat....


I'm cautious about monounsaturates (see newest post). Rosedale does so much which is good that I doubt a little extra olive oil is going to be a problem. This preference does seem to be personal opinion, which deserves respect, but I've not seen refs. Surrogates in the DELTA study don't support replacing saturates with monounsats... Mind you I've not read his book so maybe I'm missing out here!

Hi Kennedy,

I think we might have different kebabs on different continents. No cheese on UK kebabs, though the idea is scrummy....

I think some opioids must get through from casein, otherwise they wouldn't be there! So long as you accept that they are there to reinforce maternal/offspring bonding... I fundamentally feel that dairy cannot be designed to injure. I can see it is arguable that it is inappropriate in adults but obviously simple toxicity, as per gluten, is unlikely.

Again, I've not read Dr Eades' new book but Cordain has written such bloopers in the past that I take everything he says with a pat of butter.

Mark, the study is comprehensible but big (massive) and ultimately does not reflect my experience of reality. To give Clegg her due it does look to be a very well designed study and it is looking at what a combination of corporate greed combined with the American Heart Association is doing to the USA (and increasingly the rest of the world) population. It just has nothing to do with a high fat diet as LC people see it. But the amount of money we LCers are faced off against means that there has to be a slow grinding battle on-going to trying to keep some semblance of balance. Every time someone puts up a "high fat diet causes..." you just have to do it again. I see no end in the near future.


Nick said...

Seeing as it was done on mice and rats, I don't really see an issue. Mice and rats self select for a low fat diet if given the ability to choose, they're not carnivores, and don't deal well with a large amount of dietary fat. This is why HFD induces obesity and metabolic syndrome in them. Humans are carnivores, and happy to eat 80-90% fat diets.
You can view the last sentence "These results suggest that many of the deleterious effects of high-fat diets, specifically those enriched with palmitic acid" as actually meaning (no doubt they wish it applied to humans, but they didn't do the study on humans, so this is what it really means): Hey, this is a mechanism by which high fat diets mess with the metabolism of rodents, meaning we should probably stop doing studies with HFD in rodents and then attempting to extrapolate the result to humans.
On the whole, I'm impressed with their actually using a purified diet (although little to no Omega-3, 8% of calories from sugar and 38% of calories from corn, I guess that's pretty close to what most people eat) and their experimental rigor, but I think they overstep their bounds a bit by only conducting a three day experiment and then talking about obesity based on short term effects of a new diet -- but I'll grant them that their palmitic acid diet probably is worse for mice as far as obesity and metabolic syndrome go.
But it makes perfect sense that you would expect a natural grain eating animal to do really well on mono and polyunsaturates, and to get screwed up by a large amount of palmitate, just like you'd expect a carnivore to get screwed up on a diet of starch and vegetable oil. I think if they repeated this study in humans, they might get the opposite result.
Honestly, at this point, using mice to do obesity research and then arguing that your results are anything other than "hypothesis generating"-grade as they respect humans should get your paper an instant editorial rejection from any reputable journal.
To be fair, they were much more objective than most researchers (whose abstracts start out 'k fat is bad rite? lol'), but I would give them a gold star if they instead wrote 'the deleterious effects of high-fat diets IN MICE'.
Incidentally, they screwed up on the diet table, and put a decimal point one spot to the left on the calories from corn starch, making it look like it contributes minimal calories to the total. Conspiracy or honest mistake? :)

Cupcakes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Palmitic acid from meat - low insulin - satiating

Palmitic acid from excess carbs - high insulin - NOT satiating

Stephan has more on this study

Anonymous said...

If the meat or fat tastes good, I can keep on going - past the point of whether or not I know I'm hungry or not anymore.
I usually have to step away from the plate and go do something else to stop thinking about that tasty food.

James said...

Rigel said...
"Seeing as it was done on mice and rats, I don't really see an issue. Mice and rats self select for a low fat diet if given the ability to choose, they're not carnivores, and don't deal well with a large amount of dietary fat."

This is not the case. When given the option, they self-select almost OD proportions: