Breakfast of Champions (With 88 Grams of Fat!) | Chris Kresser

Breakfast of Champions (With 88 Grams of Fat!)

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A friend of mine was observing me making my breakfast the other day. She’s been hip to the dangers of low-fat diets and the benefits of saturated fat for some time now, but even so she was pretty surprised with just how much fat I was plowing into my smoothie. We thought it might be fun to actually measure the amount and do a full nutritional analysis on my breakfast.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 cups of whole, raw milk
  • 8 oz. of whole, plain yogurt made with raw milk
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • 3 TBS of extra virgin coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 TBS of raw, grass-fed butter(melted)
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh, depending on season)
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh, depending on season)
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries (frozen or fresh, depending on season)
  • 2 raw egg yolks (from pastured chickens)

And here’s the nutrition breakdown:

nutrition data

calorie breakdown

The results are enough to give a cardiologist a heart attack. My morning fruit smoothie contains 88 grams of fat and 1,097 calories. 66% of those calories are coming from fat. According to the calorie calculators (that I normally pay no attention to), a person of my height and weight that is very active should consume approximately 2500 calories per day and no more than 83 grams of fat in a day (at 30% of calories). As you can see, I’m blowing right past that in my first meal of the day!

Of course the powers that be suggest that only 1/3 of those fat calories come from saturated fat. Oops! A full 62 of those 88 grams of fat in my smoothie are saturated. Yum!

Anyone still laboring under the delusion that eating saturated fat makes you fat might think I weigh 300 pounds eating a breakfast like this every day. On the contrary, I have to struggle to keep the weight on. I am 6’2 and weigh about 170 pounds. Yes, I am relatively active but nothing extreme. I commute by bicycle almost everywhere, and that makes a big difference. I go to the climbing gym once or twice a week, surf and kiteboard when I can, and practice martial arts occasionally. But we’re not talking about 1.5 hour workouts on the Stairmaster or running half-marathons every day.

What’s great about this breakfast is that it fills me up until lunch (because of all the fat, of course) and gives me all the nutrition I need for the morning. As you can see from the following chart, the smoothie is almost meeting (and in one case exceeding) the US RDA of several vitamins and minerals:

vitamin data

I should also point out that this is generally the only sweet thing I eat each day. I have completely lost my craving for sugar. I mean completely. No deprivation, no rules – I just don’t want it anymore. This is coming from a guy who started cooking at a very young age just so he could make his own chocolate chip cookies!

How did I lose my craving for sugar? By eating a lot of fat. Fat creates satiety, which is the feeling of being satisfied after eating.

When we don’t eat enough fat, we crave carbs and sugar because we don’t feel satisfied. And ironically, eating carbs and sugar cause hormonal changes that stimulate more cravings for carbs and sugar. It’s a vicious cycle.

So if you want to reduce your cravings for sugar, eat more fat! Saturated, animal fats of course.

In case you’re wondering, lunch and dinner are usually some kind of grass-fed meat along with a cooked vegetable and a salad. And of course the vegetables are covered with butter or cheese, and the salad has nuts, avocado, cheese and olive oil. Why? Read my recent article “Have some butter with your veggies!” to find out.

  1. Just curious, I get fat is preferable to carbs, but is fat preferable to non-fat?   For example, should you purposely select fat milk over non-fat milk,  etc?

  2. Thanks, I forgot to mention regarding juicing.. my family has a history of type 2 diabetes, but at least for now I’m good.    I’ll drink a 6oz glass of pure beet juice on an empty stomach and my blood sugar will jump from the low 90’s to a maximum of ~110 (an hour later).
     
     

    • The eggs I eat are pasture raised and have a much better n-6 ratio than commercial eggs. Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. They’re not high in sat fat, but they’re high in cholesterol which is an essential nutrient.

  3. I wouldn’t say pasteurized milk is “unhealthy”, but it doesn’t have the enzymes and beneficial bacteria that raw milk has.  I can’t digest pasteurized dairy very well, but I do very well on raw milk.

    Juicing is great – in moderation.  As you pointed out, there is a lot of sugar in those juices, especially the apple & carrot most people use a lot of.  And no fiber to slow down absorption.  Just shoots right in the bloodstream.

  4. About the raw milk… is regular milk unhealthy that’s why you switched?
    What’s your opinion on juicing?   I watch jay kordich or jack lalane and am a big follower of juicing carrots, beets, etc.   I know the juice contain tons of fructose but perhaps the healthy enzyme benefits outweigh the sugar/carb overload?

  5. Thanks for your quick response! I’ve had my blood sugar tested recently, and it is around 90 mg/dl fasting level. But it probably spikes after such a breakfast. But I concede it isn’t the best breakfast, just the most convenient. I appreciate the reading suggestions. They’ll probably give me some ideas on what to substitute that will work with my lifestyle. I begin to wonder if too many carbohydrates is a problem also for my husband, who seems unable to tolerate garlic and onions and has chronic ulcer and digestive upsets. But, as I said, I’ll keep reading your blog and try the above titles for more information. Thanks again!

  6. I found your blog via Yahoo Shine! and read your informative post on saturated fats. I was curious about this breakfast of yours. It sounds like you’d spend the whole morning on the toilet after something like that. I can’t imagine drinking that much fat at once and not having digestive symptoms. The cream alone would cause me to stay close to the facilities, just in case. Or is it something that you become used to over time?
    Another item of interest is your claim that it has killed your need for sugar. I am addicted to sugar, and this is the major cause of the 20-30 extra pounds I carry around with me. I am active, however, and I maintain a moderately high level of fitness, despite the extra weight. If I up the fat in my diet, is it safe to say that my sugar cravings would concomitantly reduce? Personally, I like them together (i.e., cookies, brownies, cakes, etc.), but I’m willing to try frying  mushrooms and my other favorite vegetables and meats and adding fat to my salads if it’ll lower my craving for sweets. Currently, my breakfast is about 1-1/2 cups rice chex, a cut-up banana and liberal rice milk on top (regular milk hurts me).  So, what can one substitute for all the milk products in this monster?  I don’t live anywhere near a health food store (even the regular grocery stores are a half hour drive).  I look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers!

    • I feel great after my breakfast smoothie. The body prefers burning fat for energy to carbohydrates. However, if you’ve been emphasizing carbs over fat it will take some time for you to adjust to a low-carb, high fat diet. I’d recommend taking L-carnatine, which helps the body metabolize fat and burn it as energy, and ox bile, which helps emulsify and absorb fat. You’ll need to take some time to make the transition.

      Your breakfast is extremely high in carbohydrates. All carbs, especially “simple” carbs like bananas, rice milk and rice chex, quickly break down into sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you’ll crave. What’s more, the excess sugar in your blood is converted to triglycerides in the liver. Triglycerides are fat. Most people don’t understand this key point. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat – eating carbs (sugar) makes you fat. High blood sugar, which you almost certainly have from the breakfast you’ve described, also puts you at risk for numerous health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

      You can confirm the effect your diet is having on your blood sugar by taking a simple blood glucose test. Go to Walgreens or your local drugstore. Get a home glucose test kit – the kind that diabetics use. Eat your normal breakfast, and then take your blood sugar reading about an hour afterwards. A blood sugar level of 140 mg/dl after a meal carries 30-60% increased (relative) risk for heart attack and other events. The increase in risk begins at even lower levels, perhaps 110 mg/dl or lower after-eating.

      Studies have consistently shown that low-carb diets are better for weight loss and for overall health than low-fat diets. See my post Low-carb Diet Best for Weight Loss for more on that.

      I would highly recommend you read Diana Schwarzbein’s book The Schwarzbein Principle. She will explain in plain language the danger of low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets and the importance of protein and quality traditional (saturated) fats. Another great book to read is Nina Planck’s Real Food.

  7. This and your other posts are excellent.  I hope this knowledge becomes more mainstream so that people can stop fearing fat.  Maybe we need to change the name (“fat”)  to get people to understand.
    Your point that fats satisfy you faster than sugars makes perfect sense and I think that that someone who hasn’t taken chemistry can grasp.  Thanks for the insight.

  8. Haha.. I remember halfway analysing this same smoothie with you in the school kitchen one day… I think we estimated >100 grams of fat. At least its only 88! (jk) =)

  9. Hi, thank you for all your terrific and helpful information for those of us wanting to eat according to WAPF and diets similar to it.  I was macrobiotic for 18 years after having it cure my lymphoma.  However, after it was gone, I developed other chronic health problems as a result of becoming so depleted nutritionally.  My search for a better way led me eventually to WAPF and I’ve felt and have become much better and healthier from it.
    However I have two questions/comments from the article above:  1) I also used that shake in the mornings (all raw dairy from a local farm, just as your recipe is).  And I gained SO much weight from it!  I really loved it, it was so tasty and satisfying, but I just gained more and more weight from it, and had to stop (I’m about 20 lbs. overwieght at this point and having weight symptoms from it).   I’ve not been able to drop that “shake” weight either (I gained about 10 lbs from it, I had it for breakfast for about 2-3 weeks ).   So, obviously, not everyone benefits from it……
    2)  I understand the theory behind not having egg whites, but that just reminds me of the other ways of eating where things are not consumed “whole” – that is, in their natural whole form.  So if egg white were meant to be taken out, perhaps we should not be consuming them……..???
    Thanks again for your wonderful site and your great help!!!
    Mia

    • Hi Mia,

      I agree that fat and overall caloric intake must be tailored to each individual. There are some who believe everyone can eat a limitless amount of fat and not gain weight. On the other extreme, there are people who say that it doesn’t matter what you eat at all, that weight loss (or gain) is a simple function of “calories in, calories out”. I tend to think the truth is (as usual) somewhere in the middle of these extremes and will vary from individual to individual.

      Regarding egg whites, I’m not advising people not to eat them in general, just not to eat them raw. Raw egg whites have trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein absorption. These are destroyed when the whites are cooked.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  10. I only wish I knew where I could get raw milk (I’m in California) and grass-fed beef.  What do you do with the egg whites, and why leave them out?

    • You’re in luck to be in California. We live in one of the few states in which it’s legal to buy raw milk in stores. I’m not sure exactly where you are, but if there’s a Whole Foods near you they carry it.

      I generally just compost the whites. Raw egg whites should not be consumed. They contain inhibitors of the digestive enzyme trypsin, which are destroyed by heat. Consuming 100 grams of raw egg white with one egg yolk compared to consuming the same food cooked was shown in one study to reduce protein digestion from 90 percent down to 50 percent.

      Raw egg whites also contain an anti-nutrient called avidin. Avidin is a glycoprotein that binds to the B vitamin biotin, preventing its absorption. Biotin is necessary for fatty acid synthesis and the maintenance of blood sugar, and is especially important during pregnancy when biotin status declines.

      See my post Three Eggs a Day Keep the Doctor Away for more information. Also check out this offsite article The Incredible, Edible Egg Yolk by Chris Masterjohn.

  11. Mark,

    I replied to Zak’s question above.

    I don’t recommend whey protein.  It’s a highly processed food (actually a waste by-product of the cheese manufacturing process).  Also, eating lean protein of any kind (whether lean meat or lean dairy) can deplete the body of fat soluble vitamins A & D needed for protein and mineral assimilation, proper growth, thyroid function, healthy brain and nervous system and normal cell function.  Granted, consuming a lot of fat along with a lean protein will mitigate that, but the processed nature of whey powder is enough to make me avoid it.

    If you’re looking to boost the protein, I’d add some nut butter or another pastured egg yolk or two.  You could also consider something like hemp seed, provided your omega-6 intake is relatively low.

    Chris

  12. Thanks for the reply, Chris!  I think I’ve actually noticed Claravale at the natural grocery — will look more closely and give it a try.
    I’m interested to hear your thoughts on Zak’s question — I’m not knowledgeable at all about Chinese medicine, but from a more general perspective it seems there is a school of thought among the “paleo” crowd that dairy should be minimized  (although I’ve also read that dairy  is much less problematic once you eliminate wheat).  Anyway, I eat rather generous amounts of full-fat dairy without (apparent) problems — aged + pastured cheeses, high fat yogurt, and pastured butter + cream — but often wonder whether I should cut back somewhat.
    One other question… if you would… related to smoothies.  I’ll typically throw a scoop of (unsweetened) whey protein isolate into my periodic smoothies.  I noticed on a post you wrote about soy that WAPF counsels strongly against soy protein isolate as a highly processed/altered food.  Do you think the same principle applies to whey protein isolate (i.e. perhaps it’s  a “lesser” evil than SPI but still best avoided)?  Thanks!
    Mark

  13. This is awesome, Chris. thanks for giving a depiction of what you intake. I can see myself doing this so on, too.

  14. very interesting work, chris.  i do appreciate your blog – really informative and useful.   one thing i’m wondering is, how much of your work are you basing on chinese medicine (given that you are studying it)?  dairy products are cold and damp, and are usually not recommended for most people (or, at the very least, recommended in moderation) – they can weaken the functionality of the spleen and stomach, which, as you know, can lead to a multitude of health problems.  so i’m surprised to see how much you recommend eating these large quantities of dairy products on a daily basis.
    how would you assess your spleen’s function?  does it seem capable of handling the amounts of dairy products that you consume?  of course, it would be hard to gauge this without looking at your tongue and pulse, and asking a few more health-related questions.  perhaps you may be able to handle these amounts of cold and damp, but i know that a lot of people in our society are suffering from low to extreme amounts of spleen impairment, and i wonder about encouraging people to consume dairy products at this rate.  the nutritional benefits of which become negligible and potentially even harmful when consumed by people with weak digestive assimilation.
    thanks
     

    • Zak,

      That’s a great question. First, you may have noticed that all of the dairy products in the smoothie are raw. There is a tremendous difference nutritionally between raw and pasteurized dairy. In the simplest terms, pasteurized dairy is a processed food and raw dairy is a whole food. Raw dairy contains lactase, which is the enzyme necessary to digest lactose. I am relatively lactose-intolerant myself, and can’t tolerate much pasteurized dairy in any form. However, I can consume as much raw dairy as I want and it gives me none of the symptoms I get from pasteurized dairy (nasal congestion, indigestion, etc.) Raw dairy also contains probiotics which assist in digestion, whereas pasteurized dairy does not.

      As you can see they are really not the same food at all. I have several patients that, like myself, can’t tolerate pasteurized dairy but actually thrive on raw dairy. From a TCM perspective, I’d say that pasteurized dairy causes damp whereas raw dairy does not (for most people). Of course when dairy was originally classified as cold and damp in China, it was not pasteurized. I appreciate that even raw dairy may have this effect on certain individuals. Nevertheless, it isn’t my experience with myself or with my patients so I continue to recommend it in most cases because of its superior nutritional benefits.

      That said, at one point I was on a healing diet called the GAPS diet where I wasn’t eating any disaccharides (long-chain sugars found in grains, milk, starches, etc.) for almost a year. That healed my gut to the point where I am now able to enjoy the raw dairy, and a small amount of grains and starches (though I don’t really care for them).

  15. Greetings Chris,
    I found your blog through a comment you made on Stephan’s blog, and I’m psyched that I clicked over.  I’ve read many of your posts, and really appreciate your insights, analysis, and clear writing style.
    I overhauled my nutrition after I read Taubes 18 months ago, and concurrently discovered a wealth of thoughtful blogs that continue to educate me.  It’s nice to see a fellow Cal grad like you (go Bears!) helping to lead the (growing) conversation on these topics.
    The smoothie sounds awesome, and I am now inspired to try adding melted coconut oil and butter to one of mine (I usually rely on a big helping of cream as my main fat source).
    On a related note, and if not too much trouble, I wonder whether you could suggest good local places to find raw dairy (I live in the Berkeley area)?
    Thanks!
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the feedback! We’re fortunate to live in the Bay Area, because we have such abundant access to raw dairy and grass-fed meat. We’re one of only a few states where it’s legal to purchase raw milk in stores, although we have to keep fighting for the right every year. You can buy raw milk and cream from Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. There are two brands: Organic Pastures and Claravale. Organic Pastures is 100% grass-fed, whereas Claravale is finished with grain. That said, Claravale has done tests and claimed that the vitamin content of their milk is nearly identical to milk from 100% grass-fed milk. I much prefer the taste of Claravale so that’s what we drink here.

      Good luck,
      Chris

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