If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my long time running n=1 experiments on myself, it’s NEVER to take ANYTHING for granted! Just when you thought it was safe and you have all the answers, something comes back to bite you hard in the bum, and so it was for me and pork.
Ever since I started LIHF way back when, I’ve eaten bacon & eggs for breakfast, almost without fail, and with no ill-effects as far as I could see. Since I started ZC in Feb 2017, I also increased my pork intake. Pork is cheap & readily available where I live and so it made sense to start eating more of it. The cuts I chose were Kassler neck, and I cooked them very slowly in a low heat, in a casserole dish with the lid on for 3 or more hours. The only seasoning I used was some salt. The result was some of the tenderest pulling pork I have ever tasted – truly delicious! Mixing this up with some home-made beefburgers [17% fat] and salmon appeared to have no significant ill effects over the longer term. Every so often, the shop where I was buying my pork would have special offers and this was happening quite often. This allowed me to “buy in bulk” by freezing most of it, but it also meant that I was starting to eat more of the pork and less of the beefburgers & salmon. This peaked earlier this year when I found myself eating almost exclusively bacon & eggs in the morning and pulling pork in the evening for nearly 2 weeks. Due to my training and hence higher protein demands, I was eating anywhere between 1 & 2kg/ pork day. That’s when I started to notice the changes. By the end of the second week it started to feel like I couldn’t/ didn’t want to eat any more. At the start of the 2 weeks it tasted delicious but by the end I was struggling to force it down.
The evidence against pork fat
It was time to put my thinking hat on and start gathering some evidence:
- The Nutrition Advance website gave me a good first clue via this article on pork and its fat content:
The average omega-6 to 3 ratio from pork chops, ground pork and pork tenderloin is 24 to 1
This is consistent with standard western diets and is far from ideal. Indeed the article goes on to say:
Fatty cuts of pork contain significant amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat. Depending on the overall diet, this may be a concern for the omega 6 to 3 ratio.
Given that I was eating exclusively pork, I was almost certainly heading in the wrong direction as far as my o3/o6 balance was concerned.
- A high 06/03 ratio is highly inflammatory and is to be avoided as described in my Omega3 fatty acid test report.
- It was then that I recalled a passage from Phinney & Volek’s book, “The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate performance”, page74 and their references to “nausea” on a high o6 diet:
- The final nail in the coffin came when, after having dropped ALL pork, including bacon and egg, my weight fell a further 2kg and waist 1cm after nearly 2 months on fish & ruminant meats:
Conclusions & Practical Considerations
For me it’s a no-brainer: just the nausea & weight loss alone confirm the inflammation caused by pork fat, in particular its high o6 content. Luckily, I managed to find a local butcher who stocks affordable ruminant meat and, after nearly 2 months on lamb, salmon & beef, I can report no ill effects at all and the 2kg weight loss remains. Note that NOTHING else has changed, including my training.
Does this mean you can eat lean pork chops without any problems? Probably, but if this is a staple in your diet then where will you get your fats from? You will need to supplement with something else in order to keep your o3 intake high.
Does this also mean I’m dropping all pork for good? Absolutely not! If I’m away from home and there’s no other option available, then it’s bacon & egg, sausages and pulling pork all the way but, crucially, it will never again become a staple for me at home.
Finally, after 2 months of ruminant meats I can confidently say that whilst I literally get sick of pork, I NEVER get sick of a good steak – the more I eat, the more I want!