Deep Nutrition -- Reviews and Recommendations

From the Recommended Books / Reading Thread - #39 I woudl love to know your views on Deep Nutrition

The author has some very strong views on vegetable oil and sugar, what are your thoughts?

@chad any chance of a book review for the podcast?

Has anyone read Deep Nutrition? would love to get some thoughts on it. just getting into the chapter on Sugar, feels like so far I have read 200 pages on how and why vegetable oil is going to kill me! It is a little scary to see how ubiquitous vegetable oil has become, its as bad as milk powder - in ABSOLUTELY everything!

What i do like is the epigenetics concepts, using food to code your body and its response to the environment. makes a really strong case for thinking about the life your food lived and what that will tell your body about the environment.

Can you give a brief description about what is meant by “vegetable oil” in this context? Are they talking about generic blends?

Or does it include all of the pure oils (olive, grapeseed, and so on) and rapeseed/canola oils?

good oils would be:
Olive oil
Peanut oil
Macadamia Nut oil
Coconut oil
Animal fats
Palm oil
Artisinaly produced unrefined oil (not really clear on what that means)

The bad oils:
margarine / non-butter spread (even if claiming to be trans-free spreads)

to not divert this thread too much but what makes butter so good compared to the others in that list?

the book goes into a lot of detail, so worth reading if you are very interested. the cliff notes; the good fats don’t break down when heated. all the fats on the bad list break down very easily under very little heat, turning into toxic compounds including trans fats. they site an example of this rapid break down for Canola oil that degrades so rapidly that event the purist pharmaceutical grade manufacturers produce oil with 1.2% trans fats.

Damn, rape oil is fairly ubiquitous here in Europe. I know Canola is slightly different, but I would assume it’s basically the same in this instance. I’ll need to do some more reading on this since I eat primarily meat free and get a lot of my fats from oils (olive, butter, coconut, rapeseed, and so on).

that is really what I would like others view on too, maybe for another thread… the oil in processed foods is everywhere, energy bars a laced with it and even bread or non-dairy milk is full of it. the obvious fried foods and sauces are easy to cut, but how far down this rabbit hole should we really be going?

I’ve completely sworn off seed oils. Didn’t read Deep Nutrition, but The Big at Surprise by Nina Teicholz. It’s a very deep dive into this issue. I’m looking at fat from the perspective that stable-is-better. Stable in this context means fewer double-carbon bonds, and thus more (hydrogen) saturated. The carbon double bonds represent highly reactive sites and are very prone to oxidation (ie, rancid) from heat, light and time.

There’s some subtlety, but seed oils are high in polyunsaturated fractions, and require gnarly industrial processes to extract (so corn, peanut, “veg”, canola). Mono-unsaturated fats have limited susceptibility - just a single double carbon bond to go bad. Usually these fats come from a “fruit”, not the seed (olive, avocado). The least likely go rancid - saturated fats. This tends to come from animals, although coconuts/palm are major exception. Ruminants, like cows, skew heavily towards saturated and mono-saturated. For chickens and pigs – it depends. Most are fed a lot of soy, they end up with a lot of pufa.

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The one thing that I do really like from the book is thinking about the epigenetic history that our food is communicating to our bodies. As you say, the natural fats tend to be more stable, but the factory farming system is heavily influencing what it means to be natural…

Just finished the chapter on sugar, so guessing based on the volume of pages that are dedicated in the book, vegetable oils are the worst by a factors of 5 vs sugars. next up is to get into the meaty bit - the human diet :slight_smile:

I think a review might be a bit out of my depth, @JohnWilliam. I’ll say that I liked it a lot, it clarified a number of things, and it opened my eyes to some new possibilities. And her newest book (The Fatburn Fix) is interesting too, though a bit more layperson-oriented and maybe not worth the purchase unless you just loved Deep Nutrition.

I’ll just keep checking every in hopes that a new review will crop up, and this one seems likelier than most.


In my N=1 experiment thanks to Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint I took all the bad oils out and stay with really good butter, olive, coconut, and avocado oil for all our cooking. This along with eliminating crappy grains reduced a lot of the inflammation I had built up while on the Standard American Diet for over 50 years.

I can validate it with two different responses. When I do eat something like a social meal that was prepared with bad oils I don’t move as well around 24 hours later additionally, I get mouth sores that take about 5 days to clear. In the Nourish Balance Thrive podcast they once said it takes 19 clean meals to return to the same balance you had prior to one crappy meal. This may be why we’ll have a very low chance of seeing @chad eating McDonald’s French Fries.

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So I have now finished the book and have a few thoughts. I get the argument that is being made for traditional food, but feel that there are some obvious gaps

  1. The role of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting - again a modern term to describe the way things used to be. Food availability was not constant so we would not have had 3 meals a day and gone through periods of low calorie availability. This has a big part to play in longevity and overall health. Modern diets are too calorie dense, potentially even following the 4 pillars would still lead to over-eating, reducing the benefits seen from IF

  2. Over-reliance on animal products - Longevity research again shows that the longest lived people don’t eat a lot of animal protein. Many of the traditional tribes that are used in the book, like the Inuit, have relatively short life-spans when compared to populations with much lower animal consumption. Animal proteins are used in small amounts as flavor enhancers for bean/legume/vegetable based dishes.

  3. Milk in the un-refrigerated world - I a world with no refrigeration, if you don’t have a cow/goat/sheep/other milk producing mammal you don’t drink milk. Fermented dairy products would be the closets you could get as this woudl be the only way for them to last more than a few days. This woudl also be a luxury item, and not consumed on the vast quantities we see today.

  4. Carbs and insulin sensitivity - there is plenty of research to show that carbohydrates don’t lead to insulin sensitivity, lipid storage within cells play a much bigger role here. there needs to be wider system-thinking on this topic as cause and effect is not as obvious as everyone would like it to be, thus the easily contradictory positions found across different authors. If the underlying mechanism for insulin sensitivity is the lipid content of a cell, then low carb high fat is fine - very little insulin is produced, but so too is high carb low fat - cells remain sensitive to insulin as they don’t reach lipid saturation. High carb and high fat become the death trap.

My take-away’s from the book:

  • Reaffirming the dangers of an overly processed diet - Vegetable oils and milk powder appear to be the industrial glue that holds packaged food together. all the hidden fat and sugar in processed food is there to make industrial processes easier, not for our personal benefit. Inflammation is real and takes a long time to get under control, a cost / benefit analysis should be done before heavy consumption of processed foods, i am with @chad on this one and may never go back to fried foods… there is no real benefit…
  • A well rounded plant based diet is still going to be superior to a modern meat + dairy diet - given the epigenetic nature of food, if you meat and dairy didn’t live a long enjoyable life, you are most likely not getting any value from if, and would be far better off focusing on quality plant based proteins and fats, with small amounts of very high quality animal proteins to flavor and supplement. Eating meat for meats sake feels like a addict justifying another hit…
  • I ❤️CARBS! (and so should you!) - Plants are generally low in fat, but will have enough to ensure our bodies get what they need - there is a minimum effective dose for Fat and Protein, more than this provides no additional benefits. Readers in this forum will not be in the coach-potato category, so carbs will fuel your lifestyles, as such, to ensure the fires keep burning and the hormones keep functioning effectively, fats and proteins need to be managed for the benefit of carb metabolism, following a plant based diet takes the thinking out of this for you, as plants don’t produce the high fat and protein ratios that will cause issues

If you are interested in nutrition, its a great book to add to the library, but it should probably not be the only one you read. There is diversity in thinking and new science coming out all the time. Read both sides of the nutritional arguments, I find the discourse fascinating.


I’ve done deep dives on a lot of these issues and generally agree with the advice. I have done turn-arounds on a couple of issues.

  1. PUFAs - aka bad oils - for a while I was really into the omega 3/6 ratio thing and was thinking that PUFAs were pure evil. I’ve come around on that a bit. I no longer avoid a little canola as if it is the personification of evil.

The main thing that is bad about PUFAs is that they are in pretty much every prepared, manufactured, and take-out food.

So, if you mostly cook from scratch and eat a whole food diet then your PUFA problem is solved. At home we use olive oil, coconut oil, and duck fat (occasionally to fry). PUFAs are more of a symptom of the typical American diet and are not the root cause. For home use, it seems like common sense to not buy cheap/manufactured PUFA oils that can go rancid when you can buy high quality olive oil.

  1. I agree with your #2. Most people need to eat more vegetables.

  2. I quit drinking milk because I found it was causing me what I had thought was seasonal allergies. Literally I thought I had allergies for decades and it was just sinus inflammation from milk.

  3. A lot has been made in the past about the carbohydrate insulin sensitivity thing. People like Gary Taubes have made a career of it and have written books on it. I think the model is bogus.

The bottom line is that we live in an obesigenic world. Manufactured/processed food is very calorie dense, way too savory and constantly tempting. Thus, most of the population is eating that extra 300+ calories per day which is enough to pack on the pounds over the years and decades.

Sigma Nutrition Radio had an interesting episode on diabetes and the “twin cycle hypothesis” which says that chronic calorie excess leads to accumulation of liver fat, which spills over into the pancreas and causes type II diabetes.