BEEF Daily

True Or False: Animal Fats Make You Fat



How long did our ancestors live while eating bacon, lard and whole milk? One blogger does some research and the facts might be surprise you.

In the 1970s, fats were demonized as a new health mantra emerged. The health advice was that a low-fat diet was necessary to maintain your waistline and your health. This dietary change was a shift from traditional cooking with whole foods, where animal fats and proteins were king. Instead, low-fat packaged items started lining the shelves and, as a result, America’s obesity problem emerged.

I love reading research and articles that take us back to the basics. The things grandma taught us in the kitchen are still applicable today. Sure, we may not have time to bake loaves of bread from scratch or can vegetables and make jams to store for winter, but with a few basic ingredients we once again can make healthy, wholesome dinners that are actually nourishing to our bodies.


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I recently came across an article on Weed ’Em & Reap, a popular blog about food, farm life and gardening. The blog post was entitled, “How Long Did Our Ancestors Live While Eating Bacon, Lard & Whole Milk?” Here is an excerpt from the blog post:

“My great-grandma was a tough old chick. She ate real, traditional food & could cook up fried chicken from scratch. When I say ‘from scratch’ I literally mean ‘from scratch.’ As in, she would kill a chicken, dress it, coat it with flour, and fry that baby up in a big ol‘ frying pan of lard.

“Our ancestors didn’t worry about heart disease, cancer or diabetes. They didn’t fear Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. These diseases were so incredibly rare before the 1900s, that they didn’t need scientists to solve any mystery. There was no mystery! Our ancestors simply ate food – real food, and were nourished. The leading cause of death before 1900 was one of four things: infancy death, death from childbirth, death from infections, & death from accidents. Today, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer.

“Following a traditional diet will give us optimal health. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains, milk, butter, cream, meat, seafood, eggs – all in the best form possible and if you can digest them – is the key to weight loss and disease reversal. It’s time to wise up and discover the healthy, delicious food of our ancestors. It’s time to get back the skills of our great-grandmothers and become nourished.”

As Christmas draws near, I’m going to feel good about eating the prime rib my mother-in-law prepares for the Christmas banquet, and the eggs and bacon we eat on Christmas morning. I’m going to feel confident that these rich foods that have been demonized for years will nourish my body.

Do you think animal fats and proteins are making a comeback? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 15

landman (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

Guess im on the same page as you, as i eat my bacon eggs from our chicks and reading your post.

Frank Schlichting (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

I don't think your comparisons are valid. Sure 100 years ago we didn't eat fast food like pop and chips. Also we didn't die from the diseases that we are dieing from today. However we didn't live as long either. Nobody lives forever you need to die of something. 100 years ago you would be lucky to see your 50th birthday. Medical care and medicine is much better as is nutrition. Today anyone can afford to eat fresh fruits and vegetables year round. That wasn't always the case. My parents generation had very poor teeth that were pulled before they were 30, why? Well they couldn't afford fresh fruits,vegetables and most importantly milk for the children. That was poor nutrition.

The reason people are fat has nothing to do with diet. 100 years ago farmers worked hard from dawn to dusk doing manual labour. Haying meant gathering hay with a pichfork and loading into a wagon. Today haying means sitting in an air conditioned tractor while munching some snacks and listening to Led Zepplin on the stereo.........and we think we work hard!

The obesity epidemic is simply a case of taking in more calories than we burn in a day. The extra calories are stored as fat. It is as simple as that!

DavVictor (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

My opinion (from what I read and study),
Teh high carbohydrate diets we now eat are highly responsible for obesity & disease, not necessarily the hard physical activity.

From about 100 years ago we started to become a society engrossed in grain production and processed sugars. Those high-carbs are what are bodies use as "energy". And since we are consuming MUCH too much energy then our bodies store them as fat; hence contributing to obesity.

If we look at the principles behind the Atkins diet (even though there are better low-carb diets out there now) you'll see that they work because the person is lowering carb intake. I've done this diet - it works - but the cholesterol intake can be exceptionally high.

John R. Dykers, Jr (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

The obesity epidemic is simply a case of taking in more calories than we burn in a day. The extra calories are stored as fat. It is as simple as that!
And ANY fat we eat is dense calories, 4000 per pound, on us or on the steer. Fat also satisfies appetite and tastes good when we are hungry. Starches (carbohydrates), bread, chips, sugar,etc in any form is just wasted (waisted) calories. BOTH far and sugar make us fat. It is hard to eat enough good lean meat and veggies to get far unless we wrap the steak in bacon and cover the veggies with grease and butter.
My wt loss diet is water salad steak and only carbs are a glass of beer!

on Dec 23, 2013

Animal Fats Make You Fat. False

Animal fats are some of the healthiest things we can eat.

Dennis Hoyle (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

Back then they didn't implant their cattle, feed them additives, pour poison on them and feed them GMO feed that has been sprayed with glyphosate. I am not sure of the total effects of all that but I do think those things have some effect.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 26, 2013

Yes there are lots of effects, most of them good. 100 years ago we did not have antparasetics so tape worms, trichominiases and others was much more common, not only in the animals but people as well. The single largest cost of food animal production is feed. To the extent that implants and anti microbial improve feed conversion that cost is lowered. Furthermore to the extent that gyro phosphates improve grain yields and reduce costs this also improves the cost of production. So the results are this, cheaper food, more food, healthier food all at the same time. As a result 48% of the population has been freed from subsistence agriculture, we live longer than ever before in history, and food expenditure as a percent of income is the lowest in history. I am hard pressed to find any real negatives from that.

on Dec 28, 2013

Well since we're living longer I would wager to say it sure ain't hurting us.

Jeff Gotschall, MD (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

That, and we don't have to live with much concern over dying of things like polio, tuberculosis, childbirth, simple wound infections and pneumonia. That gives us nearly double the time in average life expectancy to die of consequences of lifestyle choices--overrating carbs and refined sugar that's handy, physically exerting less, smoking and drinking too much alcohol--and getting obese.

Jim Turner (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

I don't have any of the answers but I do know that I too will enjoy our prime rib dinner and will enjoy a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast that is our family's traditions.

SPE (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

Yes, American diets today are certainly a contributing factor to obesity...with fast foods, microwave meals, artificial flavorings and ingredients. But physical activity is as much a contributing factor as diet.

Most Americans don't have physically demanding jobs or work in this day and age. Only 3% of adult Americans exercise the recommended 20 mins. a day which can include a brisk walk.

When viewing pictures of my youth years, my kids ask me "Were there any fat kids when you were young?" Or my kids watch a movie from the 1940's or 50's and even 60's..."everybody was skinny" they comment. Okay part of it was diet of wholesome foods and in my family's case home grown livestock and fruits and vegetables...

But kids were active playing sandlot games, mowing lawns, etc. vs. sitting in front of the computer screen. And much of America, not that many years ago lived in a rural environment and physically worked.

L. Mack (not verified)
on Dec 24, 2013

In response to the first few comments; Calories in/caories out is the most foolish explanation for obesity that could have possibly been imagined. It is the same as saying my nephews are growing taller because they are eating too much. Our bodies grow/respond only to hormonal signals. The hormone in this case is insulin. The dietary recommendations have been to decrease dietary fat, therefore increase carbohydrate consumption, causing elevated blood sugar, our bodies respond with elevated insulin, which signals fat storage. Dietary fat intake does not create such a response, or the associated problems/complications. I will cite the writings and research of Gary Taubes and encourage everyone to look into his work.

W.E. (not verified)
on Dec 27, 2013

Very few of our farming grandparents who produced the majority of their own food were obese. My paternal grandfather was born in 1876 and lived to be 94 years old. My grandmother, with help from some of her twelve children, raised, killed and dressed chickens grown from scratch in the yard. When she prepared, cooked and served them to her husband and children, she needed more than a piece or two of chicken to provide fuel for her work. The chicken, eggs, milk, beef and pork she served were mostly protein, not mostly fat and carbohydrates. She also raised and preserved fruits, vegetables and nuts in her garden and orchard. She made pickles, sauerkraut, and preserved other foods using fermentation. By raising, cooking and consuming her own farmyard food, she was far less likely to overeat and far more likely to have a balanced diet. She was a southerner, so she made biscuits or cornbread to serve to her husband and sons, who did a great deal of hard manual labor. The farm's animals, including the milk cow, ate mostly grass for most of the year, not mostly grain, so her farm family got nutrition that came directly from the soil of the farm. Much of America’s obesity problem stems from three artificial situations common to the modern age that have never before been true for the masses: 1) our food is far too easy to come by (most Americans don't have to do any of the work necessary to grow and prepare their own food); 2) we value it far too little (because so much American food is mechanized and subsidized and therefore unrealistically cheap), and 3) it is too far from its source (most American food is over-processed and over-marketed, containing a wide variety of chemicals that mankind has never before in the history of the world consumed).

on Dec 28, 2013

"The farm's animals, including the milk cow, ate mostly grass for most of the year, not mostly grain, so her farm family got nutrition that came directly from the soil of the farm."

You mean cattle today don't eat grain grown from soil? People and Cattle have been eating corn since the day they stepped foot in North America. Corn, wheat, barley, oats, and milo are grasses the last time I checked.

W.E. (not verified)
on Jan 8, 2014

The soil of the farm where they dropped their manure. The law of return demands that the soil be naturally replenished. If beef cattle are part of crop rotations, as they are on our farm, the cycle of soil nutrient replenishment is unbroken. Cereal grains would not be leaving people so hungry if they were fertilized with the manure of grazing animals. Cattle can graze those cereal plants in their green form and yield a far better diversity of nutrients in their beef. Supplementing grazing animals with hay and grain or silage does not do away with good nutrients, but replacing all green matter with high energy starchy grain rations does drastically reduce available nutrients that make beef exceptionally nutritious: Omega 3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, beta carotene and vitamins D and E are drastically reduced in the meat of animals that get no green grass for the last 90 or 120 days of their lives.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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