In today’s interview I get to speak with author of the Fire In A Bottle Blog and creator of the Croissant Diet, Brad Marshall.
He comes from a background of low-carb eating and has experimented with the ketogenic and carnivore diets.
With a ketogenic diet he achieved ketosis and had some good results however, he struggled to lose that final bit of weight.
Today, we talk more about how the French and other traditional diets that incorporated carbs and saturated fats inspired him to create the Croissant Diet. Brad explains his thoughts on why he lost belly fat by eating a diet that is opposite in thinking on a low carbohydrate diet.
Brad believes it is actually the quality of the fats we are eating that is the key.
- What is the Croissant Diet
- Why traditional diets of saturated fat and carbohydrates work
- Why quality of fats in our diet is vital
- All about stearic acid
- Fat ratios, saturated fat and increasing stearic acid ratios
- Why the diet of animals we eat is important
Then this interview is for them.
I really enjoyed this interview with Brad. He explained the science behind his hypothesis and why it supports the results he was seeing.
Special thanks to Brad for joining me on the show.
Enjoy the episode!
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Show Notes with Timestamp Links
Find summarised highlights of what we talk about during the interview.
Use the clickable timestamp links to jump directly to those points in the audio file below:
[00:19] – Introducing Brad Marshall, author of the blog Fire in a Bottle and the man behind the Croissant Diet. Interestingly, Brad comes from a low carb, ketogenic, carnivore background!
[00:57] – What is the Croissant Diet? Brad came up with an experiment based on the idea that the primary factor that affects the energy balance is the quality of fats rather than quantity of specific macronutrients.
[02:02] – The idea of combining carbohydrates and saturated fat is seen in a lot of traditional diets and we can find examples around the world of it working.
[04:43] – Brad explains how when electrons start to overload Coenzyme Q they bounce back out creating a free radicle molecule called superoxide. Lucky there is a bottleneck in the mitochondria that acts as a molecular switch.
[08:02] – When we switch over to burning fat, superoxide is produced in the bottleneck. This switch is crucial to how an organism deals with energy. Brad explains that when you eat unsaturated fats (especially polyunsaturated) the switch doesn’t work any more!
[11:35] – Brad explains how when the superoxide is produced it knocks out insulin signalling in the cell.
[13:08] – During his experiment Dave ate a specific type of croissant. He talks about the research that inspired him to increase the amount of stearic acid in the butter of his croissant.
[17:08] – Brad saw results very quickly, within a month of his croissant diet his body changed dramatically.
[18:50] – Previously Brad followed the ketogenic diet and was in ketosis trying to achieve some weight loss but struggled to lose the weight around his midriff.
[21:17] – What is the difference between the fats Brad was eating going into ketosis vs now? While his diet was pretty good he still ate things like olive oil and avocado. Brad discusses ratios and how he came up with the idea of using butter with extra stearic acid to maximise the ratio.
[24:14] – Because the texture of stearic acid is hard at room temperature it dictated how much can be added to butter; around 20-30%. How did Brad then use this butter?
[27:07] – Something about the stearic acid is very satiating which plays its part, however, Brad believes there is more to it in terms of blocking insulin signalling.
[28:17] – Brad’s strategy was to eat when he was hungry. He describes what the usual day on this diet looked like. His weight dropped and his waist continued to shrink which is typically a good sign of metabolic health.
[33:52] – The working hypothesis is that the quality of fats overrules other things. With this in mind Brad didn’t shy away from carbohydrates, occasionally consuming pizza, burgers and even ice-cream.
[35:51] – A lot of people report the feeling of satiation on the diet. There are also a lot of people reporting beneficial results in terms of weight loss. Ketogenic and carnivore diets don’t work 100% of the time, do we need to consider the stearic acid component?
[40:03] – Brad saw an increase in muscle and better athletic performance on this diet. Perhaps this is due to improved mitochondrial performance.
[41:23] – While stearic acid is in most of the food we eat (even canola oil), some foods are naturally higher in stearic acid than others. You can also buy it commercially.
[43:51] – Stearic acid is often used in making candles and soaps etc., however, it is added to some food products, as well. Brad explains how he wanted to keep the ratio within the range of what can be found in food naturally. Cocoa butter is high in stearic acid naturally and can also be used.
[45:46] – Are there any concerns we should be aware of? Most information out there about stearic acid would indicate that it is quite beneficial. Perhaps it has been overlooked by scientist due to a reluctance to promote saturated fats.
[48:30] – Tip: Stearic acid comes in the form of granular fat. To avoid digestive problems and ensure easier absorption, it is best to blend it into the butter at a regular ratio.
[50:22] – Cost wise it is not very expensive as it is quite a commonplace ingredient and used in small quantities. The 50% blend costs a few dollars a pound, the 90% is more expensive and harder to find.
[51:50] – Brad explains the research that informed why he decided on mixing only 20-25 g of stearic acid a day into his butter mix.
[53:10] – Are the benefits due to stearic acid specifically, saturated fats in general or the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats? Ultimately, the aim is to increase the FADH2 to NADH ratio in the mitochondria.
[55:49] – Did we use to have a diet naturally higher in stearic acid? When looking at what farm families ate historically we see a lot of dairy and animal fat. Is it the stearic acid or the high saturated to unsaturated fat ratio that provided benefits?
[58:19] – Even though he was low-carb prior to making the switch to this diet which includes eating carbohydrates, Brad was not concerned about his blood glucose levels. He explains that there is evidence that shows how eating a lot of saturated fat increases your basal glucose metabolism.
[1:01:46] – There is a lot of misunderstanding about fat ratios of saturated and unsaturated fats e.g. the saturation level of butter is higher than fat in ground beef which is higher than lard.
[1:02:49] – It’s important to consider the diet of the animal you eat. Brad explains how in the US a lot of bacon is high in polyunsaturated fat due to the pigs being fed the waste products of the ethanol refinery industry. Chicken fat is also high in polyunsaturated fat due to the diet its being fed.
Brad’s Bacon Tip: You can tell how high the polyunsaturated fat content of the bacon is by picking it up and testing how firm it is. You can also render out the fat and bring down to room temperature to see if it gets nice and firm.
[1:11:55] – For anyone wanting to find out more and get in touch with Brad, you can find him on Twitter @fire_bottle, you can post on his Fire in a Bottle blog and also the sub Reddit reddit.com/r/saturatedfat where he responds to people’s posts.