I talk a lot about what it takes to become a lean runner, and it involves making changes physically, mentally, and emotionally. You need to learn how to get your mind right, how to change your …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, running coach and mindset expert. I believe mindset is the most powerful and most underrated tool you have as a runner. So I’ve devoted my life to helping runners like you develop the mindset you need to fuel your inner fire and become the badass runner you were meant to be. This is The Running Mind podcast.
Well, hey there, and welcome to episode number 23 of The Running Mind podcast. My name is Patrick McGilvray. And as always, I’m your host, Master Life Coach and a weight loss coach for runners. And today, I have an interesting topic to talk about with you guys today. The title of this is eating fat does not make you fat.
And I know right now, some of you are just like, wait, what, and you might have an issue with this, but trust me that by the time we’re done here today, hopefully I will give you some things to think about, if not, maybe change some perceptions and some, some misconceptions that we have, about what fat is, how it affects us what eating it does to us what it doesn’t do to us.
You know, I talk a lot about lean running. And my focus now is like I really want to help runners become, you know, these lean running machines. And there’s a lot of factors that go into, you know, changing your body, not just, you know, physically but also, you know, changing yourself mentally, and emotionally.
So there’s like physical, mental and emotional aspects that go into becoming a lean running machine. All three are important, you know, you need to get your mind, right, you need to change your thinking, you need to be aware of your thinking, you need to be aware of how you might have some old mental programs running in your mind some things that you have just been habitually believing, and thinking over and over again, for your whole life, like, we just want to be aware of those things, okay.
Maybe some of that stuff is serving you, maybe it’s not. The things that aren’t serving you, we want to try to get some awareness around in physics. So that’s the mental aspect. And there’s the emotional aspect, you know, we’re so keen to want to just push our emotions away and not feel them.
And when we do that, we want to just do something else instead, like eat, or drink, or do a drug or something like that. So instead of feeling our emotions, we do other things, because we just want to feel better right now. So we want to learn how to process our emotions.
And then there’s the physical aspect of this, of becoming lean. And that’s what’s actually happening in your body. So you have to address all of these things, you have to address what’s going in your mind, what’s going in, what’s going on with your emotions, and then what’s happening in your body.
And so today, we’re gonna talk about one thing that I think is very key for you to wrap your head around. And that’s the idea that eating fat makes you fat. This is a myth. It’s actually not true and never has been true. And I’m going to talk about what it means to become a fat-adapted runner, and when eating fat, how it can actually help you. Before I get into that, I wanted to share something with you guys. I just created a Facebook group that I want to invite you to be a part of, it’s the Running Lean community on Facebook. And I created this as a way of extending this conversation that we’re having here on the podcast.
You know, I feel like a lot of times, I’m just talking into this microphone. And I hope it’s resonating with people. But it’s hard to get that feedback. So I wanted to create a place where we could continue the conversation where you could ask questions, and learn more, we could take a deeper dive into these topics.
So I created this Facebook community called the Running Lean community. It goes hand in hand with the podcast, if you listen to this podcast, you really should join this Facebook group, you really have to be a part of that too, because it really extends the conversation and enhance it.
We’re going to do Q&A’s in there. We’re gonna have awesome discussions and it’s a place where you can get support. It’s positive, it’s safe, it’s informative, it’s totally free. It’s just a place where I want people to come together to continue this conversation about what it means to be a lean runner because there’s so much that goes into this.
And I can only talk about so much here on the podcast. And again, this is kind of a one sided conversation, I want to, I want to make this more of a two sided conversation. So please join the Running Lean community on Facebook, to find it, just go to facebook.com/groups/runninglean. That’s one way. Another way is just search Facebook for Running Lean community. Or you could go to this podcast episode. So that’s therunningmindpodcast.com/23. And I’ll have a link on that page.
So all kinds of ways of finding it. But I want to see you in the group. You know, welcome, you will say hi, and we’ll start the conversation or keep the conversation going. So that’s just something I wanted to share with you guys. Okay, cool.
So let’s get into this topic that may be a little controversial. Eating fat makes you fat, right? I mean, this is, this is what we’ve been told for so long, right? And the truth is that it’s just not true. It is not true. So where this comes from, though, so part of the history of this is that, you know, they they did some studies back in, you know, early part of the 20th century, one of these studies that kind of, they were trying to kind of prove some sort of correlation between cholesterol, and fat and, and heart disease.
And so they did this study back in like 1913 on rabbits, and they fed them a bunch of cholesterol, a bunch of animal fat, and then they had terrible diseases and heart disease or whatever. Here’s the thing, though, rabbits do not eat meat. They’re not designed to eat meat, they’re herbivores. But this is one of the studies that was like, touted as being like proof, quote, unquote, proof that eating fat, you know, leads to heart disease.
And it’s one of those things. It’s like, once people started to just hear this, they were like, oh, yeah, of course, fat makes you fat. I mean, it makes sense, right? It’s one of those words, “fat”. That’s just like, oh, of course, you know, you don’t even question it. We don’t question it anymore. This is crazy.
Another study that was done was a study that was done in like 1970. And that was by Ancel Keys. Now this guy, he did this study where he went and, and found a bunch of countries and studied people and study their diets and came to the conclusion that, you know, eating a diet high in saturated fat, meaning like animal fat, basically, will lead to disease, you know, especially like heart disease and stroke.
The problem with that study, though, and there’s all there’s all kinds of problems with this is that it’s called The Seven Country Study, and you can look this up. But it’s been refuted since then. Because what he did was he just kind of hand picked the countries that kind of supported his ideas.
He actually did a study that included 22 countries, but he called it the Seven Countries Study, because those are the ones that just supported his ideas. All the other ones were ignored. Crazy. But there were some other studies done earlier in the 20th century, like back in the early 1900s.
They did this study on the Canadian Inuit Eskimos up in the Arctic. Now, these people eat nothing but caribou and salmon. That was like their entire diet. They didn’t have they don’t have vegetables to eat, okay, so they eat vegetables. And then when the winter came, and the caribou and the salmon were not available, they basically ate eggs.
So like, almost 80% of their diet came from animal fat, okay. And the other thing to consider with these people is that they lived in darkness half the year. So, they didn’t like go out and exercise. They weren’t like, you know, working out at the gym, or anything like that. Most of the time, they were like sedentary, you know, because it was cold and they didn’t want to go outside.
Whatever they had to do in order to survive. They would stay in there, you know, igloos and stuff. The thing is, these people have no heart disease, no obesity, and they lived like 200 years old. Like there’s no there’s no evidence of, you know, heart disease, stroke or obesity, obesity with these people.
So that was back in the early 1900s. And then later on, in the 60s, they did a similar study of the Maasai people in Kenya. These people ate nothing but meat, blood and milk, which I know, it sounds disgusting. The blood part anyway. I can’t wrap my head around that one. But anyway, they almost ate entirely animal fat like that was their whole diet. Animal fat and full fat milk and animal blood, right really fatty meats. Their idea around fruits and vegetables was that that was only for cows to eat. Like it was not something that was fit for humans to eat fruits and vegetables. Crazy, right?
Again, these people had no heart disease, no cancer, no diabetes. Now, one thing you might say about these people is a lot of them are shepherds. And they would like walk for miles a day. True. But then as they got older, they didn’t do that they were sedentary, they would just sit around all day. And still, they had like super low blood pressure. They didn’t have any of the kind of cancer and diabetes and heart disease that we see here in the West.
In 1955, something interesting happened. So the president at the time, Eisenhower, had a heart attack. And his doctors came out. And were basically saying like, oh, you know, America, here’s what you need to do. And so they gave this advice to Americans: stop smoking, reduce stress, and cut down on saturated fat and cholesterol.
So this idea of like, you know, don’t eat fat became so prevalent after the Eisenhower heart attack, that people were just like, oh my gosh, you know, we got to stop eating fat. Despite the fact there were all these other studies that had been done that totally contradicted this. So once this idea got out there, though, in the American minds, it was really, really hard to like you couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle basically.
And then, you know, flash forward a couple decades in the 70s, and the USDA, dietary guidelines for Americans came out. And again, they suggested a low fat diet, high carb, you know, the whole food pyramid and all that. And then since then, like, everything has just been following that same advice.
Eat a diet, low in fat, fat is bad, especially saturated fat, you know, animal fat, that’s really bad. That’s the worst kind of fat. So don’t eat that stuff, eat lots of vegetables, lots of fruit, lots of grains, and exercise more. So we’ve been doing that. We’ve been following that advice since 1977. Or earlier than that, actually.
And what has happened here in the US, obesity rates have more than tripled. Heart disease is still the number one cause of death here in the United States. Strokes, diabetes, these are all dietary problems. And people are exercising more than ever too, I think there’s something like 30,000 running events each year in the United States, you know, like, we’re a country of people who work out all the time. And yet, there’s, there’s something really wrong here.
There’s something really wrong that that we’ve been told, we didn’t. And there’s this idea of like, just you know, eating fat makes you fat. And we’ve all just bought into it. And it is just not true, and it doesn’t work. And so what do we do at this point? You know, like, what are we supposed to do? When everybody’s telling us this, you know, low fat is the way to go. And it’s not working. It’s kind of crazy.
And anybody that steps out and says, you know, that’s not true. And kind of like what I’m doing right now, I’m saying this is like, not true. It’s a myth. And people get shot down, they get attacked, they get ridiculed, they get outcasted, you know, a lot of the scientists back in the early 70s, that were coming out and saying, like, no, the problem is not fat. It’s other things. It’s like highly refined carbs. It’s sugar. That’s the problem. Those people were like shunned from the scientific community because of this. And it’s crazy. It’s like, let’s just be scientists, you know, let’s look at the data. And the data says otherwise.
Okay, so now I’m not going to get into all the studies and all the data and stats and all this stuff. But I just want you to understand this one thing, and that is that for decades, we’ve been told that eating a low fat diet is the way for us to become healthy, and that we should be eating lots of grains, and lots of fruits and lots of vegetables and stop eating animal products and stop eating fat.
And what’s happened is heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. And early death has been the result of that. I don’t know about you, but I’m like, I’m done believing this, okay, I’m done with that belief. Now, for me, I’ve been plant-based for, like, almost 10 years now. And prior to that I was vegetarian, because I was really locked into this idea that eating more vegetables was healthier for you.
In fact, you know, and eating animal products was bad for you. And so I kept, you know, eating fewer animal products, you know, I switched to eating like, you know, a regular standard American diet. I didn’t have all kinds of meat and stuff like that, too, only eating like fish like salmon. And then I even stopped doing that, and then eventually just stopped eating all milk and cheese, and any kind of animal products whatsoever.
So I went from, you know, just kind of eating a regular standard American diet, to eating a plant based diet. And one of my experiences is that over the last 10 years, you know, at first I was feeling pretty good and was pretty healthy. But then that started to change for me. And I started gaining weight, and I really tried all kinds of things to figure out what was going on there.
And one of the things I had to do is just, like, start experimenting with, you know, other types of diets, you know, like, what about eating a diet high in fat? Like, what would that do? And I, you know, heard about these people that are keto and, and do like, the Paleo thing, and I’m like, yeah, but I don’t want to eat meat only, you know, any kind of animal products.
So what can I do instead? And I tried to do like the Keto thing as plant-based, and that was pretty stressful. Keto was pretty stressful, because like, they really limit the number of carbs you eat, you gotta eat, like, under 50 grams, and you’ve got to count everything. And I don’t know, I just for me, that’s a little too stressful.
But I tried some other things. And I’m gonna get into that in just a second, I’m going to talk a little bit more about my experience, after I go over a couple of things about fat because I wanted to just kind of stick to that. But I do want you to understand that I have done my own kind of experiments with this, and I’ve had some pretty amazing results. I’m going to share those with you shortly here.
I want to talk about, you know, when we talk about fat, what do we mean by that, you know, and what, what fats are good and what are bad, you know, and I’m gonna let you do some of this research on your own. And I’m gonna let you expand this, your breadth of knowledge on this subject on your own a little bit up, but I want to give you some information up front here. Okay, I want to share a few things with you.
So, first of all, let’s talk about the different types of fats. So there’s basically, you know, healthy fats and unhealthy fats. unhealthy fats are fats that are found in a lot of commercial products like vegetable oils, soybean oils, canola oil. These fats are not good. They’re found in a lot of things like salad dressings, you know, canola oil is one of those things.
It’s just not, it’s not good for you, they have a lot of there’s a lot of body color processing that goes into producing these fats, okay, so it’s like to get oil from corn requires a lot of processing. And they use chemicals and stuff like that. These kinds of fats are not good for you.
Okay, then there’s another kind of fat that’s really, really not good for you. And these are trans fats. So these are taking stuff like that vegetable oil, which is just liquid at room temperature. And making it so that it’s more hydrogenated so these are called hydrogenated oils, and or partially hydrogenated oils, like these are really bad for you.
These are like margarine, vegetable shortening. A lot of stuff that’s in packaged food and a lot of fast food uses these trans fats. These are really bad. This is like just basically poison. So just stay away from this stuff altogether.
And then there’s what we consider healthy fats. So these are things like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, sunflower seed, oil, animal fat. It’s things like unprocessed cheeses, animal meats, eggs, whole milk, butter, coconut oil, these are all good, healthy fats, they actually help to reduce your cholesterol levels in your body. Whereas some of these other unhealthy fats kind of increase that.
And there’s reasons why that works. And I’m not going to get into that, because it’s like complicated scientific stuff, that’s probably boring. But here’s just the thing to understand is that the animal fats, the coconut oil, the butter, the whole milk, the eggs, the olive oil, the avocados, all good, you want to increase the number of those kinds of fats, and you want to decrease the vegetable oils, just like get that out of your diet, to stop, stop eating that stuff.
Stop taking on any kind of processed oil like that, especially the trans fats, that stuff is just totally toxic. And they did this study in 2010. So it was a very recent study. And they did it as a very large study so they did it with over 347,000 people in this study. And basically, they demonstrated that eating saturated fats, so the ones that I just talked about as being healthy fats, you know, the animal fats, eggs, milk, butter, coconut oil, that kind of stuff, that there was no increased risk of cardiovascular disease with any of those people.
In fact, they demonstrated that a diet moderately high in these kinds of saturated fats actually, is very protective against heart disease and stroke. Wow, that’s crazy, right? Dietary fat has been essential for our human survival, it is what allowed us to, you know, continue to survive as a species for millennia, we’ve always had a diet that was, you know, pretty high in saturated fats. But we’ve been urged by health officials for decades to avoid these things.
And as a result, you know, we’ve replaced this high fat with highly refined carbohydrates, and sugar. And when you do that, your body has to produce some kind of fat in order to survive. And so what it does is it turns those carbs into an unwanted type of fat, that kind of fat that makes you fat, that kind of fat gives you the beerbelly and the love handles and causes diabetes and stuff like that. Okay, so that’s just a little bit about, like, what kinds of fats we’re talking about here, and what you should be doing, versus what you should definitely stay away from.
Now, I want to go back to my personal experience, so I followed this plant-based diet for, you know, a decade and I even had like a vegan food blog, you know, I was like, really into it. When I get into something, by the way, I get into it. Like, I don’t just dabble in something like I do it like full on, bring it on, like I’m gonna go all in, I’m gonna see if this works or not.
And that was my experience with the whole plant-based diet thing. Like I went full on, and I was doing it for, like, a decade. And it worked. I mean, I was feeling good, you know, I had lots of energy. And I was running marathons and ultra marathons and stuff like that. But here’s the thing, I kept gaining weight.
And even though I was doing a lot of running, I was still like, just kind of maintaining my way but not really, I was always like, I was I never had a lot of energy I was sluggish running was hard. And I tried some of these things to try and lose the weight. So one of the things I was mentioning earlier was doing, like the Keto thing as a plant-based person, which is very challenging to get enough fat into your diet that way.
And, and I just, you know, I did it for what? It was about six months, I guess. And I just decided that it was too hard. And trying to like, count all these calories or count the macros and all this stuff was just too stressful. And so I just gave it up and said, yep, that doesn’t work.
And I went back to just eating tons of grains and tons of carbs and tons of sugar and just kept gaining more weight until I was like, probably about 30 pounds overweight and one of the things that happened is that I didn’t, I stopped doing like the ultra events and I stopped running quite as much.
So I’m still running like regularly. But like a normal person. Like, just like normal people run. I wasn’t necessarily training for a 100 miler or anything like that. And that’s when we really started to come back. And again, this is like I’m eating a plant-based diet, I’m eating all the grains, I’m eating all the fruits, all the veg, like, why is this happening? Why did I not have any energy? Why was I so sluggish all the time? Why wasn’t I sleeping?
Well, and I had to figure out the answer. And so one of the things I’ve done in the last few months here is that I stopped eating sugar, and I stopped eating refined grains, and I started eating more fat. Now, I will tell you, that stopping eating sugar and refined grains is challenging. There are challenges that go into that there’s physical challenges, because you go through some withdrawal, which really sucks ass, but you can get through it.
But then there’s like these emotional, mental and emotional issues that come up as well, because you have all these crazy urges and cravings. And as a life coach, I understand how the mind works. And as a mindset expert, I understand how the brain operates. And I know how to deal with that stuff.
So I’ve developed some tools and some processes for dealing with that part of it, which is huge, it really makes it so much easier to do this kind of thing. But when I stopped eating the sugar and refined grains, and I started eating more healthy fat, in fact, I actually switched and started eating meat again. I know it’s crazy.
It was a little weird at first I will tell you, you know, but I was like, you know, all the data supports that this is not bad. For me, it’s all the data supports that this is what we’ve evolved to eat. And so I’m going to go all in again, like when I do something I go all in. So I’m like, okay, I’m going to eat meat again, and see what happens.
You know, if worst case scenario, if it’s a total failure, I can just go back to being a vegetarian or vegan or whatever. And I switched and I started eating meat again. And I’ll tell you something very interesting happened. I started feeling better and a lot of this has to do with not eating sugar. So I’m going to make that very clear. It wasn’t like meat was the magic ingredient here. No, it was that I stopped eating sugar. That was the big thing.
But you know, in order to get the right kinds of fat, I wanted to include meat again. So I’ve been eating some, you know, fatty meat. And I started to become more fat-adapted. So I stopped using sugar as a source of energy for my body and I stopped or started using more fat, good healthy fat I eat, you know, butter, coconut oil, avocados, some avocado oil.
And I started eating some meat and eggs and things like that. And I’ve become fat-adapted, meaning that my body is no longer, you know, relying on sugar or glucose as a form of energy for my body. I’m using my own body fat for fuel, which is a much better source of fuel for our bodies anyway, I’m not hungry all the time, I have more consistent energy, I’m sleeping better, I’m running better. I have more mental clarity.
And then this is the most awesome part or I guess that’s all awesome. But I’ve also lost 30 pounds by following a high fat, low carb diet and getting my mind right and getting my emotions right. So how does this help you? Like how does following a low carb high fat diet help with running?
Well, first of all, you have to understand that when you are primarily burning glucose for fuel, so you’re like a sugar burner, you have a very limited amount of energy. Your body holds around 2000 calories of glucose at any given time. That’s why when you’re a marathon runner, you’ve got to keep ingesting all the gels, you got to keep the sugar in your system because that’s your only source of energy. And you only have about 2000 calories of that and you know that after running, you know a couple miles you know 10-15 miles that you’re going to burn through all that glucose and you need to like, re-up, okay?
When you burn fat when you’re a fat burner, you basically have unlimited energy. So your body can hold at any given time your body can hold over 100,000 calories of fat for fuel. So the way this works is that a pound of body fat contains around 3600 calories of fuel. Okay, so for me, I’m 5’11, I weigh 165 pounds right now, my BMI is like 23%.
So 23% of 165 is basically I have something like, you know, roughly 38 pounds of fat on my body, okay? Which when you say like, that sounds terrible, but anyway, it’s normal like this is in the normal range. But that equates to 136,000 calories of energy that I have on my body at 23% BMI. And that’s awesome because I don’t need gels to run anymore, I can just go run. And I’m fine.
You know, water, water is good. But I don’t need to, like constantly be fueling with sugar anymore, because I’ve trained my body to access my fat for fuel. The thing is, it’s harder to get to the fat for fuel. So you have to be able to use up all the glucose first. And that’s why when I said earlier, I have become fat-adapted. That’s what that means.
I’ve learned how to, you know, I’ve stopped eating sugar and having all that glucose in my system. So that’s not even available for fuel anymore. And so now my body’s like, what do we use for fuel? The next thing it wants to do, the first thing it wants to use as sugar because it’s so easy to get to. The next thing it looks to for fuel is your fat.
And when you can start using your own body fat for fuel, that’s when you become a fat burning machine. That’s when you start to lose weight. The only way you can lose weight is if you can burn fat. In order to get to the fat, you’ve got to stop eating the sugar. Okay, that’s so important to understand. Fat is great energy.
In fact, you get like nine calories per gram of fat, versus four calories per gram of sugar. So fat has actually more than twice as much. There’s like twice as much energy in a gram of fat than there is in sugar. So just understand that, you know, when you’re a fat burning machine, you lose weight, you have basically unlimited energy. And you have so much energy on board, you basically have an unlimited supply, you can basically run forever.
I know that there’s fat-adapted ultra runners out there who do, you know, 30 or 50 mile runs, and they eat no food. They don’t need any kind of fuel because they are just using their own body fat for fuel, which is totally cool. I think that is just so awesome.
So here’s what I want to do, I just want to summarize where we are here and leave you with this. So first of all, the data and the science and all the myths around like fat makes us fat. It’s just wrong. It always has been. The studies that were done were flawed. And we’ve just adopted this as the truth. And it’s just not true. It just doesn’t work the way that they say it does. Eating fat doesn’t make us fat.
You know, what makes us fat is eating sugar, and eating refined carbs, like stop eating that stuff. Start eating the good fats, the avocados, the nuts and the seeds and the animal products, butter, it’s all good for you. Coconut oil, eat more of that. Get fat-adapted.
When you get rid of the sugar, you can start using your own body fat for fuel, you will become a lean fat burning machine, you will watch yourself lose weight like magic, you’ll be able to run faster and further than you ever thought possible. It’s amazing.
And then I have two awesome resources I want you to check out. The first is a film so if you’re into like watching documentaries, and you want to watch one, it’s a really, really good documentary and you know I pulled some of the information I’m getting that I mentioned here in this podcast episode from these two resources.
So the film is called Fat: A Documentary, and you can find that on Amazon Prime. And then a book that I’m reading right now, which is just so amazing is called The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. And this is by Nina Teicholz. And she’s an investigative science journalist. So she’s got, she’s got no, you know, agenda here, she doesn’t work for any of the big food companies or anything like that. She’s just trying to, you know, give us the real info. And it’s very eye opening.
So those are two awesome resources I would suggest for you. Come join us in the Running Lean community on Facebook, join the group. Let’s take a deep dive into this subject. I want to answer your questions. If you disagree with me, bring it on. Let’s talk about it. If you listen to the podcast, please join the group. I think it would be a really great adjunct to being a part of this podcast, okay.
You can just search Facebook for Running Lean community, you’ll find it. I hope you got something out of this today. It was fun doing a little bit of research for this and sharing some of my experiences with you. And I’m gonna continue to do that. You know, there’s, there’s a lot that goes into becoming a lean runner, and being fit and healthy.
And it’s not as simple as just like counting calories. It’s not as simple as running more. There’s more that goes into it. I’m going to share with you not only my experiences, but the things that I find on my journey. Okay, I hope you’re getting something out of this. That’s all I got for you today. Lots of love to each and every one of you. I’ll talk to you soon.
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