Last night I was lazy and just made eggs and bacon for dinner. Like most meals, I really was physically excited to eat because I feel drawn to high-fat foods like a bird is drawn to the tree branch that overhangs your freshly washed car. Do I think its bad for me to crave high-fat foods? Absolutely not.
I recently started incorporating a genetic component into the seminars I give about Paleo nutrition and just general nutrition. Genes have a lot more influence over how our body processes food that we’d like to admit sometimes. I always wondered why some of my clients lost way more weight eating a low carb and high or moderate fat Paleo diet than others did, despite their claims that they were very strict in their 30 day challenge, etc. I always would respond, ‘Well just keep at it, and eat more fat and keep your carbs low, blah blah blah, typical Paleo response.’
The problem with that is that there is a group of people that DO need to limit their fat intake to no more than about 25% of their total calories. These people have a genetic mutation of their Apolipoprotein E (4/4) that causes their liver to clear cholesterol more rapidly from their blood (believe it or not that’s not what you want). In doing so, this causes their endogenous liver production of cholesterol to accelerate and they actually make more cholesterol particles of the small, dense kind if they consume too much fat. The risk in this is that those particles are the ones that tend to be oxidized the easiest, and incorporated into plaques in the artery walls, if the right set of inflammatory and metabolic dysfunctions exist, which usually is the case if you fall into the 99% of Americans that don’t eat a Paleo diet. These people also have a much harder time initially losing weight on a Paleo diet if they eat a little too much fat (more than 25% of your total caloric intake).
The ApoE 3/3 is the normal version of the gene and these people can eat a diet that has moderate fat/moderate carb/moderate protein (those could vary between 30-45% for any of those foods and as long as they are low glycemic in nature, these people tend to do okay with processing carbs and fats in a normal fashion in the absence of metabolic dysfunction). The ApoE 2/2 is the mutation of the gene in which people have a very difficult time processing carbohydrates and they tend to have very elevated triglycerides because of this, however, they are SUPER efficient at processing fat and can eat a lot of it. There are heterozygous versions of these genes (you can have one from one parent, and a different one from your other parent). I have the mutation for the 2/3 version of this gene.
So where am I going with this? This genotype for Apolipoprotein E seems to, at least in some people, influence what types of foods they gravitate toward.
I literally sit and think about butter and bacon. I’ve eaten so clean for such an extended period of time that my body has become finely tuned to signal what it needs and wants. And it usually signals something high in fat, because I process fat so easily. The downside to this is that because of that ‘2’ trait, I have to keep my carbs very tightly controlled, unless its post heavy squats or deadlifts. Extra carbohydrates (over 100-120g/day) will actually cause me to retain fluid and I can tell immediately when that has happened, usually.
Is it possible for our bodies and brains to influence our eating habits based on what our body can most efficiently handle? I think it might be. In a well-fed state, what kind of foods or food textures do you most crave? And naturally, we like sweet flavored foods or salty snacks, those would not be indicators of genetic influencing, but what about creamy foods, crunchy foods, lean steaks? Those might all be signals from your body telling you something…
Comment with what seemingly strange foods you find yourself craving! Oh, and by the way, the food I could eat forever is bacon, with just a touch of maple syrup 🙂