The Amazing Waist-Slimming, Wallet-Fattening Nutrient


Despite my insistence that the MMM family eats outlandishly well these days, I take a fair amount of flak from certain readers on the subject of food:

 “Food is not something I take shortcuts on, and thus our food bill will always be higher than that of the MMM Family. They are cheaping out on something we should all spend MORE on!”

Other people pick up a different vibe, saying

“Mr. Money Mustache, you seem to eat a good [Nutritious/Primal/Paleo] diet. How can you do this, and feed a family well on less than $1000 per day?”


I welcome the idea that food is important: since about age fifteen I have tended to experiment with my own eating in an attempt to optimize nutrition. Far from seeking out the cheapest calories, I often put nutrition ahead of even tastiness, over the years shoveling things like raw brewers yeast, oddly colored concoctions from the blender, and raw vegetables galore into the belly. Some experiments have worked and some have failed, but these days, after sufficient reading and learning, I’m finally starting to get some things right.

The biggest helpful shift for me has been the realization that “fat” (also known as “oil”) is not a taboo toxin that immediately sticks itself atop your nearest existing reserve of stored bodyfat if you accidentally ingest it. Quite the opposite, it is a pure and clean-burning fuel that your body will happily run on for great distances, much like an old Mercedes Diesel will burn unprocessed vegetable oil while creating only pleasant french-fry-scented tailpipe emissions.

Fat is not fattening. Eating when you don’t yet need refueling is what makes you fat, and high-carbohydrate eating is what causes the craving to eat too often.

This change in dietary philosophy can be unintuitive to those who still eat according to the USDA’s grain-intensive food pyramid. At a recent breakfast at a friend’s house, someone noticed me cooking a pan of eggs for myself. I started by heating an obscene lake of olive oil, then added the eggs and grated on a thick layer of full-fat cheddar cheese and another of spicy curry powder. After this delicious smelling treat was sizzled properly, I served it onto a plate, added some almonds on the side, and sliced on an entire avocado over top to add even more Good Fat.

“Why are you adding so much fat to your breakfast?”, asked the friend.

“Because it adds more calories”, I replied.

“But don’t you want LESS calories rather than MORE?”

“No. If I eat fewer calories at breakfast, I’ll just need to eat again sooner in the day. A meal like this will keep me going until 2PM. But if I eat bread, juice, or other simple carbohydrates at breakfast, I’ll be hungry in just an hour or two.”

“This blows my mind.”

“Good! Maybe you should try it!”

The Triple M High Energy Breakfast Omelette:

2TBSP olive oil (240 calories, 27g fat, $0.36)
3 Eggs (21g protein, 240 calories, 18g fat, $0.60)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (14g protein, 18g fat, 225 calories, $0.31)
1/2 TSP Curry powder, pepper and garlic to taste (0 cals, $0.10)
Diced Mushrooms and Onions (optional) (10 cals, $0.25)
1 Avocado (1g protein,  27g fat, 300 calories, $1.00)

Fry the vegetables in the oil, then add the eggs and cheese. Sizzle and flip. Put on your plate, and slice on that Avo.

Total Power: 1015 calories, 90 grams fat, 36 grams protein, $2.62
Carbohydrates: almost none

Calories per Dollar: 387

Bicycle miles fueled at 18MPH: 17.2
Hours of outdoor work fueled at moderate intensity: 4-6


This is a big meal designed to start an active day. If you’re just planning on writing some software after breakfast, you might cut the cheese and avocado quantity in half. But the principle remains the same: a low-carb meal like this works better than one with juice, toast, bagels and other sugar-spiking ingredients. And it’s still relatively inexpensive, because there is no meat.

But won’t it give me a heart attack?

Again, quite the opposite. The most recent research on fat shows that it is not an artery-clogger or an abdomen-thickener. The proponents of this type of diet encourage you to get your own blood tested before and after the switch in order to see for yourself. I only have my most recent blood test on file, but the numbers are excellent after almost a year of eating this way. A friend of mine with past blood cholesterol problems switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet and saw immediate and complete improvement in his own blood test results – completely the opposite of his doctor’s prediction but exactly in line with the high-fat/low-carb research.

Mark’s Daily Apple will entertain you for days if you are looking for more stories and research citations on the topic. The overall summary of the research seems to be, “Older studies found that fat was an arterty-clogger because they were done without controlling sugar and carb intake. And obese people tend to consume more of both of those macronutrients (a large soda alongside a large serving of fries, for example), so there is a high but non-causal connection between clogged arteries and rich food.

But perhaps even more relevant to you and me, being assembled today at this Personal Finance blog, is that this nutrient is extremely cheap. It is easy and land-efficient to grow, easy to store and ship, and easy to use in the preparation of delicious food. You can find most of the best oils (and nuts) in organic top-of-the-line form at Costco in huge quantities at great prices.

So nowadays I seek out fat rather than avoiding it. Homogenized rather than skim milk. Heavy unsweetened whipping cream instead of ‘lite’. Butter and bacon, and using bacon grease for additional cooking. Coconut and olive oils, used in cooking with no restraint. Nuts of all sorts.

But the key to all of this fat, is that it must replace, rather than supplement, your refined carb intake. I think of slices of bread as “weight gain squares”. Beer is “liquid belly expander”. A plate of pasta is “Ultra Mass-Up 2000”. Pizza is no longer my favorite dinner treat. I’ll still indulge in these things occasionally, but only as a tool to gain weight after a heavy workout.. not as part of a lazy vacation. And drinking sweet things is totally out – no fruit juice or soda, pretty much ever. Go for water, milk, unsweetened coconut or almond milk instead.

And while fat does the heavy lifting for me, I still eat raw and cooked vegetables freely with every meal, and plenty of fruit too. This is not the Atkins Diet or anything overly restrictive. Just a general “avoid flour and sugar” philosophy is all it takes.

Another breakfast I’ve been eating recently when I need quick calories in a lighter package:

MMM’s 1000-calorie Coconut Cream Dessert-like Breakfast

2-4 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted into a bowl
2 TBSP almonds, ground in a blender
2 TBSP ground flax seeds
1 Banana, sliced
Optional: Mixed Berries (can be thawed from a big frozen bag)
1 huge pile of unsweetened whipped cream
Cinnamon on top


It’s delicious, and rich. All the power of 3-4 bowls of cereal, but much longer lasting energy! Again, cut quantities in half if you are not doing six hours of outdoor construction and/or heavy barbell squats that day.

Triple M Salad

1 Cucumber, diced (keep the skin on, it is good for you)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, diced
green onions, snipped up
1 cup cilantro (just cut a bunch in with scissors, straight from the bunch)
1 carrot, grated over top

… mix it all into a big bowl and pour this over top:

MMM’s 3-2-1 Spicy Balsamic Soy Vinagrette dressing

3 oz olive oil
2 oz balsamic vinegar
1 oz soy sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp honey or brown sugar

This makes about the right amount to fill a reused salad dressing bottle (I recommend reusing a bottle from a fancy brand like Annie’s or Newman’s Own, since you don’t want to see the KRAFT logo staring you in the face when enjoying MMM dressing).


Shake this up and serve it over salads and many other things. Delicious and rich in calories. And of course, nearly free to make.

While the ideas above are only a few very simple examples*, I feel like a food revolution is happening here at the MMM household. Maybe it’s just our gradual growing-up, but we are now actually using cookbooks, improvising, and making good meals in a way I wish we would have started ten years ago. It’s a fine and luxurious ritual to sit down at a well-stocked table after a hard day of work, and I wish the same luxury upon you as well.



*Only slightly more complicated but amazing for dinner is “Fish Molee”.  Now that I’ve mentioned it, I cannot deny you the joy of eating this amazing curry dish:

Fish Molee

Take 1/2 lb of any white fish (tilapia, cod, swai, etc)
Rub on 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp salt

Put 2 TBSP of coconut or olive oil into a big pan and start sizzling it
Dice in 1 onion
Grate in 3 garlic cloves
Grate in 1 tsp of ginger
Spoon in 1 TBSP of curry powder
Slice in 1 red pepper or other big chile pepper of your choice
Cook for 2 more minutes
Add about 14 ounces of coconut milk and cook for 5 more minutes, at a simmer
Add the seasoned fish and finish it up for 6-8 minutes


It’s relatively easy and it is good enough for a young man to impress a young lady on his first time having her over for dinner. A truly handy recipe.

  • Lisa April 18, 2013, 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the recipes. I have eaten this way for the past year and love it!

    • Nils April 21, 2013, 12:29 pm


      I’m from Belgium, and last year there was quite a buzz about the book of Dr. Kris Verburgh called ‘The food hourglass’ ( Originally titled De Voedzelzandloper). Here he describes of what we should eat more and less of. Espescially leave out pasta, bread, breakfast cereals, processed juices from concentrate….anything that makes your bloodsugar levels peak!

      Highly recommended book still waiting to be translated in english!
      In the meantime, check; http://www.krisverburgh.com/books.html

      • Rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow April 22, 2013, 9:19 am

        another good book I’ve recommended several times is Salt Sugar Fat. Less to do with diet, It’s the inside look at the mostly American food industry, you don’t realize how much processed foods you eat!

  • Saved Penny April 18, 2013, 11:11 pm

    Another thing to keep in mind is the seasonality of your food. Year round, you can find those “magic foods” in season. And when you buy in season the pricing and quality tends to be so much better.

    Great post! Nutrition, health, and finance all in one!

  • Sam April 18, 2013, 11:22 pm

    Spot on. It is important to note that it is less efficient for your body to convert fat it gets from food sources into actual body fat than it is to convert sugar/carbohydrates into body fat. Unfortunately, marketing departments everywhere seem to be doing a pretty good job of convincing people that “low fat” foods are better, even though they usually pack on extra sugar to replace the fat.

    • Stephen @ SE April 19, 2013, 9:52 am

      We just started to eat a lot more whole foods and we have been surprised at home many ‘low fat’ foods have tons of crazy things in them. I feel like the ‘low fat’ versions have about 3x the number of ingredients as the regular ones. I’m not even sure if some of the thing labeled healthy were actually food at all!

  • Mike Long April 18, 2013, 11:39 pm

    Sigh….I was i could find a vegetable I could eat without it triggering my gag reflex.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 19, 2013, 7:13 am

      Have you tried pureeing the vegetables into, for example, a spaghetti sauce?
      This also works on stir fries and such.
      Well, it works on my 4 and 7 year old kids, who otherwise won’t come anywhere near onions, mushrooms and (for the older boy) tofu.

      • SusieQ April 21, 2013, 4:36 pm

        How about pureeing the veggies and then funneling them into a beer bottle ………………….

        • Rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow April 22, 2013, 9:13 am

          try BBQ or baking them in the oven. We used to do the typical “American” BBQ heavy on meats light on veggies till a friend introduced me to grilled veggies.

          take mushroom, zucchini, peppers and asparagus (cut the thick ends off though) egg plant etc and BBQ or bake them in some olive oil and add some rock (as in the thick stuff) salt


          usually they go first!

          are really really good

    • Aaron April 19, 2013, 11:14 am

      Is it the bitter taste? If so, then it might be genetic:

      • MIke Long April 19, 2013, 3:54 pm

        Hmmm….I can barely stand to be in a small room where there’s a cup of coffee, let alone being able to actually drink the stuff. Might be a clue for me…. :-)

        • Taryl April 20, 2013, 9:51 am

          You could be a super taster. Check it out.

    • victoria April 19, 2013, 12:44 pm

      Assuming this means you’re mostly living off carbs and some kind of protein, how about sweet potatoes? Texturally they’re similar to what you’ve likely been eating — the trick is to cook them for a very, very long time. They’re among the most nutritious vegetables, so if you could swap out even some of your simple carbs for sweet potatoes it’s a good swap.

      If those work, then you could move on to something like butternut squash or roasted beets.

    • JZ April 19, 2013, 1:36 pm

      Well, are you good with sauces? There’s a lot of ways to put vegetables into sauces and to put sauces into yummy foods. You can even slip a bit of meat in and make it into a nominally meat sauce even though it’s mostly tomato sauce with grated-and-cooked-into-nothingness carrot, mushroom, onion, garlic, etc. poke through vegetarian cookbooks that do not use a lot of soy junk and you’ll find a lot of recipes that are actually really good tasting by anyone’s standards that don’t involve chewing raw vegetables.

      How about soups? There’s plenty of vegetable based soups. What about pizza? I make pizza at home with olive salad and artichoke hearts and mushrooms and onions and whole cloves of garlic (my family is big on garlic) and nobody cares that there’s no pepperoni. Even if there is pepperoni, there’s a lot of vegetable there.

      re: soy, seems like a lot of people have been sold the idea that vegetarianism is good, while also simultaneously being sold an idea that they can replace their meat-intensive foods with artificial, soy-intensive, highly processed, obscenely expensive “fake meat”.

      Honestly, good vegetarian dishes don’t try to fake meat. They take vegetable based ingredients and offer it up on its own merits. I make an awesome vegetarian taco “meat”/bean dip that doesn’t try to pretend to be meaty, for instance. (black refried beans, cumin, salsa, lime juice, garlic powder, cilantro, cornmeal, cook and stir frequently ~30m to cook water content down a ways. For tacos, try replacing the salsa with tomato boullion, some prefer it that way.)

      And you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy good vegetarian dishes. They’re good whenever for anyone. As you find recipes you like, just slip them into the mix.

      • MIke Long April 19, 2013, 1:54 pm

        Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Usually I get bashed and borderline humiliated when I bring this up in public forums.

        Generally speaking, I find the taste, texture and smell of most vegetables completely overwhelming. My daughter used to think it was hilarious that I’ve always said I can smell lettuce from 20 feet away. Then she became a vegetarian….and in short order, she could smell uncooked beef or chicken from 20 feet away, and it overpowered her.

        I’ve read a lot on what they call “super tasters”, and if it really exists, I believe I would qualify, based on my unbelievably bland diet. If anything has more than a sprinkle of pepper on it, I can’t eat it. And forget spices…I can barely even sit in front of the food.

        Is some of it psychological? Most likely. But throwing up on the dinner table while I “work through my issues” isn’t exactly an option. ;-)

        It definitely creates problems from a nutritional standpoint, even though by all accounts, I’m a healthy 43 year old guy who has always maintained an average weight.

        Smoothies are probably my best bet, and I can stomach peas and green beans on very rare occasions. I just wish this wasn’t the case, as I’m a bit of a closet foodie (I even run a food blog!) and I long to be able to eat some of the beautiful dishes I feature every day.

        • James Boelter April 19, 2013, 3:13 pm

          Have you tried roasting vegetables in the oven? Roasting stuff like cauliflower at 425 for 15-20 minutes, (tossed with butter, oil, and salt), completely changes the texture and flavor profile.

          Also, as I learned from Alton Brown, if you peel the stringy outside shell (yes, with a peeler) of celery stalks to remove the ‘strings’, it removes the overly ‘vegetal’ taste that some people hate about celery.

          Good book on the roasting idea: “The Roasted Vegetable” by Andrea Chesman. I think you can get it used on Amazon for about $5…or see if your local library has it.

        • Jess April 22, 2013, 9:28 pm

          I feel your pain. I’m not a supertaster – I don’t react to foods in all of the ways your average supertaster reacts – but I do have a ridiculously picky palate. Like you, I find it really embarrassing. It also irks me that people (most people) think it’s perfectly appropriate to draw attention to the habits of picky eaters, and then make fun of them for it. Frankly I think eating squid or offal or even raw fish in sushi is revolting, but I would NEVER comment on what someone else is eating!

          For some reason picky eating has become equated with “lacking a sense of adventure”, which is unfair. Indeed, there are some people out there who react with revulsion to unfamiliar food simply because it’s unfamiliar, which I think is inappropriate. However, for picky eaters the opportunities to “just try it and see!” are actually a lot rarer than people think. Basically, the places that you try new food are a) at home in your own kitchen, b) at a restaurant, c) someone else’s house.

          In your own kitchen, you are faced with food waste and budgetary constraints. Knowing how often my palate rejects something, and given my small grocery budget, it’s silly for me to buy things at the store in the hopes that I will like them. It is more likely than not that they will end up in the trash, and thus I have wasted both food and money.

          The same thing applies at a restaurant – the waste of food and money – but there’s also the added complication that you are now “in public”. If you order something and don’t like it, it’s very difficult to disguise the fact that you’re not eating it. Once people notice you’re not eating, you inevitably face the barrage of “picky eaters are boring people” criticism.

          Trying things at someone else’s house is even worse. In that case, you’ve got the potential waste of food + money, AND the public eating, but also the increased potential to insult the host by not being able to eat what they’re serving you!

          All this to say – give picky eaters a break. If they’re not insulting your food choices don’t insult theirs. I don’t think there are any picky eaters who, given the choice, would actually choose to be picky. Nor are picky eaters simply people lacking in adventure….they’re people with strange palates who regularly find themselves running a gauntlet of trying to not waste food, not draw comment and not create insult!

          • The Taminator April 29, 2013, 9:24 am

            Jess, thank you for this comment. My girlfriend is a picky eater and I am guilty of all of the things that you listed. Because of reading it here I now resolve to be a better friend to her where her eating habits are concerned. Again, thank you for opening my eyes to my bad behaviour and attitude.

        • Emmers April 27, 2013, 6:41 pm

          Not to be an armchair diagnostician, buuuuuut I’m totally going to do that anyway – you sound a lot like what I’ve read about supertasters. I agree with the other commenters!

        • Be October 7, 2016, 6:46 pm

          My husband has the same issue – for him it’s caused by sensory integration from Asperger’s (now classified as Autism Spectrum Disorder II). We’ve had success with smoothies, baking veggies into bread/cakes (pumpkin Apple spice bread, cinnamon zucchini bread), pureed vegetables in pasta sauce (with plenty of cheese) and corn fritters (basically pancakes with corn in them). Good luck! I know it’s tricky. He gags when there’s an overwhelming or unfamiliar taste or texture.

    • Taryl April 20, 2013, 9:50 am

      Even with a glob of butter? There’s a cookbook out there full of ideas for hiding veggies in desserts.

    • Sofie October 20, 2013, 5:31 am

      You can make broth / soup with veggies. No need to eat the veggies themselves, just the broth / soup – most of the minerals leech out into the water.

      Another thing of note is gut flora. If the bacteria in your gut aren’t working right digesting veggies becomes problematic, and that might make you dislike them.

  • UK Money Motivator April 19, 2013, 12:12 am

    Well, I know what I’m having for breakfast this morning, omelette! Without the curry powder though, because that’s weird!

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 19, 2013, 7:02 am

      First of all, you’re so wrong about curry powder.
      Second … you’re from the UK? Isn’t that, like, the home of Indian food?

      • Devin April 19, 2013, 1:11 pm

        I think that would be… India ;)

        • Christine Wilson April 19, 2013, 1:14 pm

          The UK is a close second though ;)

        • Vanessa April 19, 2013, 5:44 pm

          Some of the best Indian food recipes were invented in UK! If you are in London, try the Chicken Makhni. Mmm mmmm MMM!

        • Bingo Wings April 22, 2013, 1:46 am

          The home of Indian food is actually Switzerland.

  • Brett April 19, 2013, 12:12 am

    This low carb mania has got ridiculous. Half the world lives on white rice and very few of them are fat.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2013, 7:10 am

      You have to start by setting aside the people who couldn’t overeat even if they wanted to because of poverty. And of course you’d have to factor in activity levels as well. But you’re right – I don’t think everyone has to be strict and avoid all carbohydrates.

      I’m just saying that
      a) fat is not fattening
      b) if anyone out there is currently trying to lose fat, start by dropping all flour (including bread and pasta) and sugar immediately. See what happens.

      • Kyrie Robinson April 19, 2013, 12:19 pm

        BTW, dropping ALL bread/rice/pasta isn’t necessary. I’ve been eating whole grain cereal for breakfast, but dropping bread/rice/pasta/potatos for lunch or dinner, and focussing those on protein (beans, fish, tofu, yogurt, eggs) plus 2 vegetables and a fruit.. That works too. So it’s not all or nothing.

      • Kevin April 19, 2013, 5:50 pm

        You don’t have to completely remove carbohydrates from your diet simply alter your intake of them. The problem with most of America is that our diet is predominetly carbohydrates, sugars and fats. There has been an extensive study done and the worst sort of diet you can have is a diet high in both fats and carbs, not because fats are bad, but because of the carbs. Your body can only handle so much ‘sugar’ in its system before it starts storing the remaining calories as body fat.

        There is a dietary concept out where carbohydrates should, ideally, be eaten after an intense weight training workout. Carbs replenish glucose levels very quickly and there has been some studies that indicate that a meal of protien and carbohydrates is the most effecient way to restore glucose levels and get the amino acids your recently worked muscles need. All other meals outside of the post workout meal are generaly protein and fat based.

        A meal schedule like this if implemented properly should allow you to avoid the ills of the typical American diet and still allow you to eat carbs.

        • Emmers April 27, 2013, 6:42 pm

          Yup. Carbohydrates aren’t evil – it’s just that the way we cook/prepare them in the US is out of balance.

      • Snow White April 20, 2013, 12:48 pm

        I disagree Wubbly. I quit breads, pancakes, rice and most starches years ago and I don’t miss them and will never go back to eating them. Literally the last time I ate any bread was when I was trapped at a work meeting and we were brought club sandwiches and even then I ate only about three bites. Some people just don’t miss the simple carbs.

        • Mr. Frugal Toque April 21, 2013, 4:07 am

          One of the focuses of obesity prevention, obesity fighting and general weight management is the idea that we have to make the permanent changes that we’re willing to make.
          If you go on a diet that you can’t maintain, then you will only lose weight for the duration and go right back to your old weight when you go back to the old way of eating.
          People have to be willing to change what they eat and do – permanently – if they want to change their body shape.
          For some, this can be done cold turkey. For others, it’s gradual. A great deal of psychology goes into figuring out what’s best for each individual.

          • Emmers April 27, 2013, 6:46 pm

            Yup – this is extremely important. I try not to do this, because it’s kind of douchey, but whenever people I know talk about how much weight they’re losing on their new diet, I just want to say to them “Great, get back to me in five years and we’ll talk then.”

            Diets, as such, don’t work. The only thing that works (or has any chance of working) is something that you’re able/willing to change *permanently.*

      • Mr. Frugal Toque April 21, 2013, 4:04 am

        I *did* try, and lost 20 pounds in about 5 months.
        I wasn’t aware of being overweight, but I was mystified why I couldn’t see the effects of all the weight lifting i was doing.
        Just to be clear, eliminating “sugar” includes eliminating even unsweetened fruit drinks. I’m pretty confident that the 600mL of fruit juice I used to have for lunch (and maybe sometimes at dinner) was one of the culprits behind the bits of unnecessary fat I was storing.
        Instead, eat fruit, which has the virtue of having fibre, which means you *feel* full after ingesting those calories.

      • Brett April 23, 2013, 3:11 am

        I appreciate your reply but I can’t agree with your article.

        Decades of research have repeatedly confirmed that cutting saturated fat causes a significant improvement in cardiovascular disease. It’s only recently that transfats (bad) and CIS fats (good) have been identified. I should point out that your reference is a marathon runner who recommends sun exposure. Just ask Australians about skin cancer, the most common cancer in 15-40 year olds.

        The problem with the food pryamid is not that it is “grain-intensive” but that so many omit the second layer (fruits and vegetables) and just eat too much.

      • Kelsey December 27, 2013, 3:35 pm

        Rice is not pasta or bread… it’s a less harmful grain than wheat to your digestive system. Maybe for most people being gluten/grain free isn’t fun, but for some it’s necessary (Celiacs, gluten intolerant people).

        If you read some of the studies about gluten, you’d probably change your mind and stop eating products that contain it, right then and there. (I did, and I can’t say I’ll ever go back to eating wheat/grain products ever again).

      • a.e. stoller August 25, 2014, 10:08 am

        I agree! After reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, and other books of this ilk I started living “Just a general avoid flour and sugar philosophy”, too. Worked well for me & still does 3 years later. It isn’t true that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ because we’re not bomb calorimeters; We run on compartmented, enzyme-catalyzed organic chemical reactions that don’t wring every last drop of energy out of everything we put in our mouths. But what works well for one will not necessarily work as well for all because each of us is genetically, epigenetically, and phenotypically unique. Some food-like-substances, though, are a mistake no matter who you are: http://www.treehugger.com/health/attention-ladies-instant-noodles-are-bad-your-heart.html

        • a.e. stoller August 26, 2014, 3:25 pm

          oops, I forgot the important part. Plain heavy cream poured over frozen organic blueberries (unsweetened, of course) is a delicious, healthy substitute for ice cream.

          • Brett August 26, 2014, 10:45 pm

            Funny how the article you quoted blamed high saturated fat as a problem in instant noodles but then you recommend heavy cream. I guess you didn’t notice the contradiction there.

            The study referred to in that article does not say what you think it does. The author of the original study, Dr Shin made reference to the Styrofoam packaging; a Yahoo article author added her own ideas “MSG … high in saturated fat”; and the author you just quoted added “highly processed, high glycemic index carbs”.

            Taubes is a journalist, not a scientist. You don’t have the training or ability to seriously evaluated what he writes.

            • a.e. stoller August 29, 2014, 8:42 am

              bioengineer & medical physiologist. But there is still an awful lot to be learned in the field of nutrition. For myself, I make the best decisions I can based on the way I read the research and on my own experience. Taubes’ book is pretty thoroughly referenced and it didn’t seem reasonable to start listing dozens of technical papers here. Perhaps for you the increased saturated fat and decreased sugar, flour, and synthetic chemicals will not result in improved health and blood chemistry values but it worked for me. If you want to read something a little more nuanced by someone with a medical degree, I liked David Kessler’s, The End of Overeating.

      • IAmNotABartender October 3, 2015, 4:05 pm

        I have some very rude things to say to anyone that suggests that natto is edible.

    • Madge April 19, 2013, 7:24 am

      But what about the ones who are, and who are also malnourished? Whose babies wither away while their mothers are obese? This is a phenomenon that ha occurred in high-carb populations throughout history — check out Gary Taubes’s “Why we get fat” for examples.

      What could explain this? Taubes argues that, in people who have some genetic propensity for overweight, carbs unlock that propensity. Even while basic nutritional needs are not even coming close to being met.

      Carbs don’t necessarily make everyone fat. But for those of us who have the genetic propensity toward fatness, they sure fucking do.

    • anonymouse April 19, 2013, 10:05 am

      There are more overweight people in the world than malnourished ones, at this point.

      • mediocre mustache April 19, 2013, 10:54 am

        I believe you are incorrect about this. Think about where the population centers of the world are and think about the standards of living there. I think you will find far more people malnourished than overweight. I’d venture to say by a 50:1 ratio.

        In the U.S. you might be right.

      • EMP April 19, 2013, 12:02 pm

        There are plenty of people that are both overweight and malnourished.

        • Francisco Noriega April 22, 2013, 12:53 am

          I agree, obesity and malnourished are not mutually exclusive. Lots of poor countries now have a lot of fat malnourished people, because cheap highly processed carbohydrates/fats/sugars are cheaper and “tastier” than proper food.

    • Sandy January 2, 2017, 4:41 pm

      But plenty of them still have type 2 Diabetes, and you don’t have to be obviously fat to get that.

  • Dana April 19, 2013, 12:16 am

    What’s your opinion on oatmeal for breakfast? I know in previous posts you mentioned that you buy oats in large quantities but it is high in carbs. What’s your take on it?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2013, 7:05 am

      I still love the oats.. but since making this change almost a year ago I don’t eat them nearly as frequently, since I feel even better with the nuts/eggs breakfast. But if a really active day is planned, anything is fair game.

    • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies April 19, 2013, 3:30 pm

      I do a lot of oats and milk in my diet these days and have found that oats are a great substitute for something quick like cereal, especially before a nice morning exercise session. Nuts or other high fat foods 20 minutes before a 10 mile run don’t sit well in my stomach for the extent of the run, but 1/4 cup of homemade granola sure does. We sub in stevia for sugar, though some honey still makes its way in. This is MUCH lower in sugar than store bought granola and the list of ingredients is short and completely prounounce-able.
      Or a grab ‘n go that fills you for a workout in an hour or two is to put 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats (not quick oats) into a container with a cup of milk, some cinnamon, and a handful of raisins. Cover & keep it in the fridge overnight and eat it in the morning. This gives me lots of long-lasting energy through the day.

    • Whitefox April 21, 2013, 10:10 am

      Carbs aren’t really the issue – it’s the source of the carbs that can be the issue. In terms of healthyness and weight loss, wheat and gluten have been independently associated with obesity AFTER controlling for the amount of carbs in things like bread. So they’re generally not a healthy option no matter what.

      The best/least harmful of those foods are: buckwheat, quinoa, and steel-cut oats, if you have to have ’em. Certainly you can lose weight eating oats, but they’re far less nutritious than eggs. Either way though, you’re doing better than the Standard American Diet.

  • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 19, 2013, 2:25 am

    Thank you for calling out the stupid myth that “fat is bad”. If you add 3 letters to that, you would be accurate. “Fat is badASS”. There, that’s more like it. Mis-information about nutrition is a HUGE pet peeve in this household, esp. for my wife. She is incredibly awesome and keeps me from destroying my insides with my MSG-laced, bleached flour, corn-syrupy cravings. Kicking my soda habit is next on the list, but with it being free at work, I have to really start hating it with a fiery passion to kick the habit. Have any pointers?

    • Allie H April 19, 2013, 4:53 am

      kicking the soda habit is hard because it’s a drug, but my husband and I both managed to do so. My recommendation is to remove all of it from your home (sounds like you’re already there) and put the blinders on with it at work. You know what else is free at work? Water. Find the best way to get yourself to drink it. Find the glass/bottle that works just right for you (people find they tend to drink more if they use a specific design, but it varies for everyone, so find what works for you). When I first went to all water all the time, I added fruit and lemon slices to mine and let it steep for a couple of hours before consuming. Then, slowly cut out the amount of fruit/lemon until I was drinking nothing but plain ol water. Also, discover your favorite water temperature. People assume that water is best consumed when ice cold, however, I find that I dislike water when it’s at arctic temperatures, I prefer mine to be room temperature. Find what works for you and stick with it…Oh, and cold turkey. Because if you allow yourself a cup a day, you’ll never stop drinking it. If you quit cold turkey and decide to have a glass, it will likely make you so sick you won’t drink it again :)

      Good luck on your soda-free journey my friend. You can kick this habit to the curb where it belongs, and you have a whole bunch o mustachians behind you!

      • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 19, 2013, 9:26 am

        Allie, thanks so much! I have lost 4 water bottles in the past few years, and honestly (as lazy as it sounds), I think the soda habit came back after I stopped buying expensive Nalgene bottles and stopped bringing them to work. And good to know about the temperature. I DO like mine ice cold, and though the water at work isn’t, it doesn’t mean I can’t come to work with an ice cube and a BIG water bottle.

        Also, I don’t like drinking out of plastic or metal, so i was thinking of buying one of those glass expensive bottled waters at the grocery store and just re-using it.

        Thanks for the encouragement, I’ll be giving it a shot today!

        • Allie H April 19, 2013, 9:33 am

          Yay, always glad to be a water pusher :)

          In true mustachian form, I like to drink mine out of a large mason jar (like the classico spaghetti sauce comes in from costco/bjs/sams.) if you don’t use it yourself, you can always ask around on freecycle. I’m all about re purposing my glass jars, but crazy people throw them away all the time!

          • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 19, 2013, 10:38 am

            Good call! My wife collects mason jars (cans a ton of stuff too), so that might be an option. Thanks!

        • 1e7ksi April 19, 2013, 11:54 am

          +1 for drinking only water.

          I can’t stand plastic bottles of any kind myseis lf, So I looked for steel. It is all the convenience, without the chemical smell. I was at loewes once when I saw a bunch of steel bottles that were all scratched up, but totally fine, and asked a guy if I could get half off, so I got 4 great bottles for $2 each. Now I clip them to my person so I have no excuse not to drink water.

        • BonzoGal April 19, 2013, 12:04 pm

          I bought a glass water pitcher at Ikea for $2.99, and a drinking glass for about .79 cents. I use both to have water on my desk at all times– I haven’t had a soda or juice in a couple of years. People ask me if water tastes “boring,” and I say, “Hell no, it tastes like awesomeness.”

      • Mrs Random April 19, 2013, 9:35 am

        I think the glass is important. I am a water-only at work person, too, and like it room temperature. In my crystal mega-sized wine glass that I’ve been using for the last 7 or 8 years. Hey, I like stemmed glasses. It makes it much more fun. And I’m not a frequent glass-breaker so it works for me.

      • betsy22 April 19, 2013, 10:38 am

        I really like ‘fizzy’ water. I have one of those soda stream machines, and make a couple of bottles of fizzy water every week – I flavor the water with lemon or lime. I’ve only had to replace the cartridge 1x in the past year, so each bottle is costing me pennies, but it keeps me away from soda or wine…I get bored with plain water.

        • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 19, 2013, 10:39 am

          I’ve seen those things. We have plain “carbonated” water here, but I just can’t do it. It’s corn-syrup, or nothin’, and I should probably stick with no fizzy drinks :) Thanks for the suggestion, though!

      • James Boelter April 19, 2013, 3:18 pm

        Coffee. Coffee is good. After 20 years of slavery to “The Bubble”, I found that GOOD coffee does much more for my energy levels and mood than soda or energy drinks ever did. I still cut my coffee with 20-30% hot water by volume, though…otherwise the caffeine blows off the top of my head.

      • Heidi April 20, 2013, 8:15 am

        Gotta share my sis’s suggestion:
        Drop a bag of white tea into the water bottle, something that smells lovely…it never goes bitter as you sip down the water, it actually flavors the water nicely, and one tea bag lasts me through two water bottle fill-ups. There’s a cheap blueberry white tea that I love sipping this way; it makes the water something to look forward to, plus you have all the hyped benefits of white tea added to your nutritional day.

      • Rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow April 22, 2013, 9:24 am

        try gassy water, very popular in Germany, while living there I totally kicked the soda (pop for Canadians) habit. Has all the bubbles so you feel like your drinking pop but none of the corn syrup. Since moving to Spain where it’s harder to find I’ve gotten back in the habit of drinking diet pop again, move next week and hoping to kick the soda habit once again.

        Isn’t there a company that offers soda machines with flavouring?

    • Christina April 19, 2013, 7:53 am

      Allie’s suggestions are good – I’d also add “have a substitute that you like always available”. When I gave up bread I made sure there was always a supply of almonds and dried fruit or hummus and veggies on hand for whenever I was tempted with the free bagels/pastries on the coffee bar.

      I dislike water, but my office has a hot water dispenser so when I get a craving for a drink I make a cup of hot tea (which has the dual benefit of warming up my cold hands). I also sometimes buy a bottle of juice then use it to flavor the water – it will taste like those expensive vitamin waters if you do it right and the juice will last longer.

    • Mirwen April 19, 2013, 2:16 pm

      I kicked the soda habit by switching to iced tea. I still get my caffeine and tasty beverage without all the hfcs. I started by using one cup of sugar (which is rather sweet) per gallon of tea and reduced it gradually to about 1/2 cup per gallon. Sodas like Coke use nearly 2 cups per gallon. I now use artificial sweeteners, which is not ideal, but still much better than the amounts of sugar in the canned and bottled stuff.

      Some people want a drink other than water. I know I do. I also love my caffeine. However, the sugar is unnecessary. Tea made at home costs about 45 cents per gallon for the really nice organic stuff.

      • Mr. Frugal Toque April 21, 2013, 4:16 am

        A half cup of sugar contains 124g of sugar, which is approximately 3 Coke cans worth of sugar.
        A gallon is (pardon my metric-ness) about 3.78L.
        A can of coke is 375mL, which means your gallon of drink has 10 cans worth of liquid.
        So, yeah, you’re getting about 30% of the sugar that would be in a can of coke – but that’s setting the bar pretty low.

        • Rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow April 22, 2013, 9:28 am

          I make homemade iced tea, use the cheapie no name tea bags (surprisingly best flavour) and honey. Heaping teaspoon for a half gallon (2L) Tupperware jug

          love the stuff.

    • Grant April 19, 2013, 5:38 pm

      I read the comment somewhere (was it here?) that abstinence is easier than moderation, and I definitely find this to be true for myself!

    • Puck SR April 19, 2013, 6:58 pm

      Not to be too confrontational, but if you’re concerned with food myths wouldn’t the whole MSG thing fall into that?

      Being that no controlled study has ever found a side-effect. It is a lower-sodium alternative to salt for a briny flavor, and it is a naturally-derived ingredient? I sprinkle it on everything! Every person I have ever known who complains about any health side effects from it, I just sneak it (a lot of it)into their food. They never get sick, and they always say the food tastes great.

      Food myths are a big thing in my household too. That is what happens when two scientists get married. I totally agree with the “stop worrying about fat” message. Too many people don’t understand how the metabolic process works and assume that bacon fat=fat on your own belly.

      • Gerard July 18, 2013, 4:30 pm

        I’m always disturbed by the people who spoon some some (tasty!) chicken fat or bacon fat and say something like, “Just think what that’ll look like in your arteries!” By that logic, just think how messed up my arteries would be if they had chunks of carrots in them!

        (btw, although I agree with PuckSR about the innocuousness of MSG, “I know it’s safe so I sneak it into their food” is a really, really shitty thing to do…)

  • JC April 19, 2013, 4:30 am

    MMM- have you given up all grains? I know in the past you were a big fan of oatmeal. Just wondering if that is still part of your diet.

    • jimbo April 19, 2013, 6:35 am

      I was gonna say the same… What about oatmeal? It is so yummy… and really a staple of my morning routine…

  • Holly@ClubThrifty April 19, 2013, 4:53 am

    Sounds yummy =)

    We went vegetarian last year, and I thought we would save a ton of money by no longer buying meat. But, we haven’t, really. We’re just spending more on produce and other stuff instead.
    I try to stay away from baked goods period. They make me feel like crap. I feel much better when I am eating a variety of natural foods, and as little processed sugar as possible.

  • Lindsey April 19, 2013, 4:54 am

    What about potatoes?

    • J April 19, 2013, 6:14 am

      Stick with sweet potatoes.

      • IAmNotABartender October 4, 2015, 5:11 pm

        But nothing is as delicious as potatoes.

  • Allie H April 19, 2013, 4:58 am

    Thank you MMM for doing your part to dispel that fat is NOT bad for you, and that eating healthy is NOT going to break the bank. I was sitting with a good friend of mine at her place, and a cooking show happened to be on. I mentioned what an amazingly healthy dish the woman cooking was making, and practically every other sentence my buddy uttered was “that makes you fat”. USDA guidelines are crap, and I hope that someday doctors/health insurance etc would get it into their heads and stop blindly following.

    I frequently get comments about how expensive it must be to eat the way I do, and yet, I find I’m spending less money than ever. Sure, it’s expensive if you try to buy the good stuff on top of all the crap that Americans consume, but if you follow a clean diet and leave out all the crap, yea, not all that pricey. Buying your processed food in boxes, bags, and cans is what’s expensive; buying whole fruits/veggies/eggs/nuts etc not so much

    Rock on MMM!

  • Devin April 19, 2013, 5:40 am

    I eat exactly the same way and I’ve been doing it for more than three years. You just have to take care if you’re trying to restrict calories and lose weight.

    However, if you’re extremely active, then eat away!

  • BeatTheSeasons April 19, 2013, 6:05 am

    In the UK the current health advice for the “average” man is no more than 30g per day of ‘saturated fat’ and 5g per day of ‘trans fats’, but it’s recommended that most people increase their intake of ‘unsaturated fats’, which is what you get from foods like oily fish, olive oil and nuts & seeds.

    I find it really hard to believe that a high fat diet is healthy when you talk about different types of fat indiscriminately. Are you really saying that conventional (preventative) medicine is completely wrong in making these distinctions?

    Apart from putting on weight (fat, not muscle) the main issue here is cholesterol, which your article seems to dismiss with one example from a friend you know. Yet isn’t health advice based on a sample of thousands of people studied over decades?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2013, 7:56 am

      It is tough for me to say this because I’m normally a Mr. Mainstream Science/ Make fun of New Age Quacks Evangelist.. but yes, I believe the current USDA guidelines on food are too pro-grain and anti-fat. However, you will still do much better than the average soda-drinker by just following them.

      The thing is that the studies of the effects of dietary saturated and fat on blood levels of various things seem to be done in the presence of uncontrolled carbs. The more recent stuff which addresses this is contradicting the established, older studies.

      But I have been unscientific about it myself: I read the Primal Blueprint book, found it interesting, and then instead of doing my own checking of scientific papers, I just radically changed my diet. I was pleased with the results – enough to want to tell others about the joys of no-bread eating.

      Here’s a long but interesting YouTuber on the background of cholesterol to set aside for some night when you have an hour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZctVYxiW2w&feature=youtu.be

      • Puck SR April 19, 2013, 7:09 pm

        Just don’t eat Crisco(artificial trans fat) That is pretty clearly bad for you. All of the evidence agrees on this fact.

        The problem with a lot of the research regarding this is that people are quick to condemn and slow to accept something. It is a culture of “cover your ass”. If you would like proof of this, pay attention to how long it is taking the FAA to approve electronics on airplanes.

        A lot of nutritional stuff is also pretty counter-intuitive, and your perceived hunger matters a lot. Consuming diet soda will probably cause you to gain weight. It isn’t that artificial sugar makes you bloat or absorb dark matter, it is just that it makes you hungrier and you eat more. This is a fairly well-known problem. However, no nutritionist wants to tell America to quit drinking diet soda out of a fear that they will start drinking regular soda.

    • bluprint April 19, 2013, 8:33 am

      A great source to explore this topic is http://chriskresser.com/. I think you can answer your questions about cholesterol. Short answer is that a diet higher in fat/protein and lower in carbs (especially grains) provides benefits with regard to cholesterol build up in the arteries.

      • bluprint April 19, 2013, 9:16 am

      • Mr. Frugal Toque April 19, 2013, 10:22 am

        Great … another blog I’ll be reading every day.

      • alexandra April 22, 2013, 8:06 pm

        SO glad you mentioned Chris. I read his blog often. He has so much DAMN common sense! Well, I guess it ain’t so “common”.
        Really, he is worth reading and listening to his podcasts. I have learned tons and he explains things very well and WHY so many people believe x when y is the way to go. He is not preachy, more nerdy. I love his explanations.
        I cannot recommend this blog highly enough!

  • Sarah in MI April 19, 2013, 6:20 am

    Does your son eat what you eat? If so, does he like it? Thanks.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2013, 7:13 am

      Alas, little MM is supremely picky and he eats totally different food for now. French toast, pizza, milk, apples, and cheese mostly. We’re working on it.

      • Joe (yolfer) April 19, 2013, 3:54 pm

        Have you read “French Kids Eat Everything”? That book totally improved the way my wife and I approach our children’s pickiness. In fact, I’d say we “cured” their pickiness.

        • Robert December 14, 2016, 7:09 am

          +1 for “French Kids Eat Everything.” I thought our son was a typical picky-eater child until we read that book. Now he eats everything, even things many adults don’t like (e.g. oysters, broccoli, radish, sauerkraut, blue cheese, wasabi.)

  • Ron April 19, 2013, 6:43 am

    Great recipes and I like how you count and cost out the calories. The biggest problems I have with sticking with the paleo/primal diet is giving up is chips (french fries) and freshly baked bread. They both smell so good.

    • kiwano April 19, 2013, 8:51 am

      I dunno about the fries, but I wouldn’t give up fresh baked bread. It’s not like we’re meant to run without carbs at all, and of all the times you’re presented with bread to eat, how many times is it freshly baked? (I said “I dunno” about the fries, since they seem to be way more abundant than freshly baked bread, but I’m sure there’s some way you could stick to the good stuff there…)

      • Grant April 22, 2013, 10:26 am

        Humans may not be “meant to run without carbs at all”, but we certainly are meant to run without bread and grains. Agriculture has only been around for about 15,000 years, which is nothing on an evolutionary scale. If you look at overall health, average lifespan, average height, etc., you’ll find that virtually everything got worse for humans when we began relying on wheat as a staple food. We are not meant to eat wheat. Simple as that.

        Don’t forget that vegetables are carbs. They’re just not the simple, blood sugar spiking variety like bread and pasta. Veggies are the carbs humans are meant to eat.

  • cj April 19, 2013, 7:11 am

    Nuts may very well be the perfect food, but I could not live without my eggies either. Loved the article and the debunking of fat as pure evil.

  • Cathy Severson April 19, 2013, 7:31 am

    I love fats. Most fats are high in calories, so I don’t eat a lot. I eat eggs, butter, etc. But, as I look at processed foods and try to eliminate them I wasn’t so much thinking about bacon. I don’t buy it very often, but eat it when I go out. hmm.

    • Kyle April 20, 2013, 5:31 pm

      All fats have 9 calories per gram.

  • Christina April 19, 2013, 7:35 am

    A few years ago my diet changed from homemade multi-grain “healthy” bread balanced diet to almost no wheat and I lost 30lbs and gained far more energy. About a year ago I started reading the Wheat Belly blog (I bought the book but my sister stole it before I could read it – either way most of the info is on the blog). After that I cut out all wheat (look at your ‘soy’ sauce) and noticed a HUGE reduction in my food cravings. From needing to eat every two hours to being able to fast effectively. My food budget was slashed in half – and that’s with a lot of organic foods and “expensive” almonds.

    I also didn’t notice it at the time, but my acne which has plagued me for year (I’m now in my 30’s) has started to clear up. This improvement was only noticed when I had a slice of bread and cake that caused a three-week long severe outbreak.

  • @debtblag April 19, 2013, 7:36 am

    I’m finding that there are always more ways to save money on food, and nearly every new method ends up more healthy, not less. What makes it hard is that lots of folks are unwilling to skimp on the things that have become comfort foods for many people — meat and dairy.

  • Pretired Nick April 19, 2013, 7:45 am

    My wife keeps telling me it’s deadly to fry with olive oil but I find cooking with coconut oil a pain in the ass (not liquid) and it doesn’t seem to “work” as well. Anyone have thoughts on that?

    • JC April 19, 2013, 7:53 am

      Coconut oil turns to liquid as soon as it hits a hot pan. I really see no difference other than flavor.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 19, 2013, 7:57 am

      Some people have been saying that olive oil loses some of its awesome qualities when you heat it up, but I haven’t seen anything to substantiate that so long as you stay below the smoke point (which will be pretty obvious and easy to avoid if you understand what “smoke” is).

      And olive oil has been substantiated as being really, really good for your heart.


      • Kaytee April 19, 2013, 8:25 am

        I seem to recall reading somewhere that the method of production for the olive oil impacts its awesome. Cold expressed versus heat.

        • Pretired Nick April 19, 2013, 5:08 pm

          It apparently has to do with releasing free radicals when olive oil is heated over a particular temperature.
          Coconut oil is OK, but with a cast iron pan it doesn’t really prevent sticking the way olive oil or butter does. Butter works the best, of course. Mmmm, butter…

    • Margaret Fuller April 19, 2013, 12:59 pm

      I think coconut oil works great–the only inconvenience compared to olive oil is that you have to use a spoon. I rarely use olive oil when I cook but I use it a lot of it on salads and after cooking to bring out the flavors of soups & stews.

    • Dale Bradshaw April 19, 2013, 2:28 pm

      Coconut oil turns to liquid at 76F and since we’re trying to cut down on AC bills we’re finding ours spends a lot of time in liquid and semi-liquid states.

      • Pretired Nick April 19, 2013, 5:09 pm

        Yeah, in the summer, coconut oil is a lot easier to contend with, that’s for sure.

    • squeakywheel April 20, 2013, 9:22 am

      Canola oil is just as healthy/nearly as healthy as olive oil and based on my experience, seems to be a bit more stable during high temp cooking.

  • @debtblag April 19, 2013, 7:47 am

    Maybe fat makes you fat; maybe carbohydrates do. Thankfully, high-protein foods like beans and lentils have neither (in excess). And you’d be hard-pressed to find foods that have as much nutritional content-per-dollar than these or are as cheap to keep.

    • Kenoryn April 19, 2013, 12:14 pm

      My boyfriend and I were just talking about this the other day – how amid all the conflicting nutrition advice out there, no one seems to have anything bad to say about pulses. This website has some great pulse recipes:

      Plus, as you say, easy to store, no freezing or canning required, not really even any drying required beyond what they do on the vine. Easy to grow (for beans at least – we’ve had no luck with chickpeas so far. Trying lentils for the first time this year), unlike oils! We’re going to try growing sunflowers for oil this year, as well as for eating, but I fully expect it to be a difficult and time-consuming process to produce our own oil.

  • TB at BlueCollarWorkman April 19, 2013, 8:00 am

    Right on, man, right on! Exactly what you’re saying, and the only way that you’ll get fat is if you eat too much of it all. A breakfast like that followed by a lunch like that and then being a couch potato will make someone fat for sure. Watch the quantity and it’s definitely the way to go! I agree man!

  • My Financial Independence Journey April 19, 2013, 8:12 am

    Reducing carbs worked pretty well for me to lose weight. Start by cutting back on the the simple sugars (fruit juice, alcohol, etc) and then eat less pasta, bread and the like.

    I could never eliminate carbs all together. They’re just too tasty. But I am trying to move towards more whole wheat and brown rice.

  • Kaytee April 19, 2013, 8:22 am

    Last night I started re-reading Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions.” The beginning contains a fascinating discussion on fats, carbohydrates, sugars, and starches. I’m not sure it’s entirely unbiased (is anything?), but we have naturally been shifting our diet over the past few years. I cook eggs in bacon fast that we save. I find that fermented foods also make delicious sides to morning egg dishes. I highly recommend reading the book, if you haven’t already.

    • Jacob@CashCowCouple April 19, 2013, 8:31 am

      Second this! Awesome cookbook based on the work of Dr. Weston Price. Everyone should check it out and check out his website.

    • Arbor metentis April 19, 2013, 1:54 pm

      I also enjoyed that book. Making your own sauerkraut is the best! My cousin bought a crate (5’x5’x3′) of cabbage (for $25!) last fall for his farm and made lots of sauerkraut from the better heads. Not sure why but it seems like anything tastes better with sauerkraut on it! And maple syrup. Maple syrup is awesome too!

  • Jack April 19, 2013, 8:25 am

    Talking about a Volkswagen Diesel running on vegetable oil might not be the best example… if you actually try it, you’ll find that the injection system and valves eventually clog up with glycerin and the engine breaks down. (The automotive equivalent of a heart attack!) Old indirect-injection Mercedes tolerate running on veggie oil, though, and VWs can use biodiesel.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2013, 9:05 am

      Oops, I didn’t realize modern VWs don’t like vegetable oil (just read a how-to-convert post to confirm that) how embarrassing! I will change the post to talk about an old Mercedes instead.. after all, Mustachians are more like classic long-running Mercedes than brand-new Volkswagens anyway :-)

      Also, I need to do more work on cars – a glaring hole in my DIY skills. The problem is our cars never seem to break down since they have such easy lives around here.

      • Jack April 19, 2013, 10:10 am

        Oh, I’m not talking about brand-new cars; those don’t even like biodiesel! But even my 15-year-old Volkswagen is too new to run on veggie oil. It varies depending on the particular engine, but here are some rules of thumb:
        Any indirectly-injected diesel (mostly 1980s and older) can probably safely burn veggie oil.
        Direct-injected diesels can probably safely burn biodiesel, but should probably avoid veggie oil.
        Common-rail direct-injected diesels and “clean diesels” (mostly 2007 and newer models) should certainly not use veggie oil and probably should not use high concentrations (more than 10-20%) of biodiesel either.

        • Chris April 19, 2013, 8:03 pm

          Older diesels can, in fact, run on veggie oil, they just have to have a minor “grease car” conversion with an extra radiator and fuel tank. Biodiesel works like a champ in my 2003 Jetta TDI at 100%.

          • Jack April 20, 2013, 11:35 am

            Look at this, especially the pictures of the valves: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=186108

            That’s why I don’t run veggie oil in my TDI, and why I would recommend that you quit doing so as well. (Note that both your 2003 and my 1998 have exactly the same engine as the car in that example.) Now, if you’ve got 100,000 miles on your conversion and you’re still doing fine, then more power to you! But I think it’s irresponsible to tell people “sure, veggie oil works fine” when the cited example proves that there are significant risks.

      • DrewMN April 20, 2013, 11:11 am

        Your metaphor is still good MMM!

        As long as the oil in your “greasemobile” is thin enough to be properly atomized into the combustion chamber of your vehicle’s engine, it will burn. Biodiesel is just chemically thinned, whereas straight vegetable oil (SVO) without any additives can be burned if it is thinned out by heating it (typically by a second fuel tank for just SVO and second oil immersion radiator taking advantage of the vehicle’s radiator fluid heat). I converted a 1985 Mercedes and it was great fun.

        • Jack April 20, 2013, 12:32 pm

          Look at this: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=186108
          That guy did everything right, including using a commercially-made conversion kit that I believe included a fuel heater and filtering his fuel to 10 microns. It didn’t help; he still destroyed his engine.
          I have no doubt that veggie oil works great in your indirect-injected Merc; I just disagree that it’s appropriate for a newer VW.

          • Mike August 19, 2014, 10:21 pm

            I just read through that whole thread, and it looks like he may not have been doing everything right. It looks like his kit had a 3-way valve that was causing the diesel tank to be contaminated with WVO, which would mean running on WVO before the engine had time to warm up enough, and there were many commenters advocating filtering to 1 micron.

  • Matt F April 19, 2013, 8:27 am

    This is definitely an area I have to work on. Grocery budget for 2 (including a pregnant wife) is around 400 a month (down from like 750 in my pre MMM days) and we spend another 150 or so on going out (down from around 300 a month and admittedly the wife has been a good sport on mustachian activities other than this category and some fun money).

    We shop at trader joe’s and probably spend a good 50 bucks a week just on fruit and vegetables (we eat a LOT of fruit and veggies). Probably another 5 a week on eggs. Guess I need to track where that other 36 bucks a week or so is going.

  • bluprint April 19, 2013, 8:30 am

    ” I still eat raw and cooked vegetables freely with every meal, and plenty of fruit too. This is not the Atkins Diet or anything overly restrictive. Just a general “avoid flour and sugar” philosophy is all it takes.”

    It sounds like you also move your carbs to the end of the day? That alone probably has some really positive effects. There is a guy doing a lot of work in that space at dangerouslyhardcore.com. His approach is pretty reasonable.

    I eat in a similar fashion as what you describe, have been for years. Lately I’ve been experimenting with adding more carbs at the end of the day (I lift heavy weights ~5 days/wk). Kiefer at the site above presents quite a bit of science about why that is beneficial.

  • Trevor April 19, 2013, 8:31 am

    Why does beer get such a bad wrap!

    I am not understanding everyone’s reasoning behind the whole “Beer is bad for low carb diets”. I know Tim Ferriss, Primal Blueprint and now even MMM advocate dropping beer from the diet as it is a “liquid belly expander” to your diet.

    During the brewing process beer yeast take simple sugars (read CARBS) and turn them into alcohol. While I am not saying beer contains NO carbs, the majority is consumed by the yeast, leaving some leftover carbs, but not in a high concentration.
    Your average Ale probably contains 5-10g carbs per 12oz serving. A glass of reisling can be anywhere from 4-8g per serving. Many liqours can get as high as 20g per serving and most mixers can contain much more.

    As an avid beer drinker, I feel like there is some stigma that since bread, pasta, and other things made from grains are high in carbs and bad for low carb diets, that beer must be too?

    I can see the argument that consuming large quantities of any alcohol would be detrimental to your diet, not to mention how alcohol also plays with blood sugar levels. But to specifically target beer…I don’t know if that is right.

    Feel free to correct me with the research you have done, I am always willing to learn.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 19, 2013, 9:01 am

      Good question, Trevor.. I put wine in with beer in the belly-expanding category, since the alcohol in either is an insulin booster. Plus, I like dark beers which seem to have more sugar. But even 5g vs 10g of sugar (wine vs. beer) can add up – drinking beer is like dumping an teaspoon of sugar into each glass of (red) wine.

      The main thing I was trying to convey is that beer and booze in general are a good place to look if a person is finding they are storing too much fat and having trouble making improvements. For those with no problems at all, brew away!

      • Fastbodyblast April 21, 2013, 11:57 pm

        Alcohol in general lives in the belly-expanding category.

        Like the fructose portion of sugar, alcohol gets metabolised by the liver. When the liver is full of glycogen (which happens quite quickly and easily), the excess can only be stored as fat, both in the liver and elsewhere. The result is that the belly expands.

        In men in particular, this shows up as the “beer belly”. Beer gets the bad wrap because most blokes drink more beer than wine/spirits. But really any alcohol will pretty much do the same thing. Its really that simple.

    • kiwano April 19, 2013, 9:03 am

      Amen to that. When I’m eating/drinking not-at-home (don’t want to say “eating out” because that implies a restaurant or somesuch, instead of, say, just being at a friend’s place), beer is often the least unhealthy beverage available–after tapwater, but not all of my friends and acquaintances appreciate my fascination with tapwater, and some may feel that I’m insulting their hospitality by asking for it.

      Speaking of tapwater, If you want to talk about something inexpensive that boosts the hell out of your health… (well inexpensive in the way that public libraries are inexpensive; when chatting with some co-workers about the ability to drink tapwater as a sign of exorbitant wealth once, I looked up some numbers and did a quick calculation; in Toronto, the capital value of the water works is about $8k per capita. Apart from my home and some financial investments, my share of the waterworks is probably the most expensive thing I (implicitly) own.)

      • Emmers April 28, 2013, 7:31 am

        “some may feel that I’m insulting their hospitality by asking for it” -> Seriously? Wow.

    • bluprint April 19, 2013, 9:32 am

      I believe alcohol affects a hormone (cortisol?) that causes fat accumulation. In men it is especially accumulated around the belly.

      I love beer. Had a stella last night. But from personal experimentation I can say at least for me beer IS a belly expander…more than any other alcohol. Perhaps there are other compounds in beer that have this effect (gluten or something else?).

  • Jacob@CashCowCouple April 19, 2013, 8:36 am

    Spot on. Most carbs that are eaten are empty calories at best. Burned up quickly and responsible for huge insulin spikes. Healthy fats are a great way to live. Coconut oil, olive oil, grass fed butter, whole fat goat’s milk, homemade sour cream. Give me it all!

    BTW, to the guy who suggested beans. Many in the low carb camp shun those too, for various reasons.

  • Glenn April 19, 2013, 8:56 am

    While I’m not ‘against’ this type of diet, nor am I skeptical of the results, I am skeptical of making the transition on myself. I’m a high intensity cyclist. I feel I need my carbs for long term fuel. Watch pro cyclists or marathon runners eat. It’s certainly carb heavy, but also lots of good fats as well. My thinking is balance your food intake with lots of activity. And enjoy your food. Food is to be celebrated daily and enjoyed.

    • Christine Wilson April 19, 2013, 12:35 pm

      Hi Glen,

      If you’re a cyclist then yes I agree you need more carbohydrates. Here is what carbohydrates do:

      “Making energy isn’t the only thing your body does with the carbohydrate nutrients in your diet. Carbohydrates also protect your muscles. When you need energy, your body looks for glucose from carbohydrates first.

      If no glucose is available, because you’re on a carbohydrate-restricted diet or have a medical condition that prevents you from using the carbohydrate foods you consume, your body begins to pull energy out of fatty tissue. Your body’s next move is to burn its own protein tissue (muscles). If this use of proteins for energy continues long enough, you run out of fuel and die.”

      Because you need energy to keep you going for long distances – you’ll need more carbohydrates than the regular person.

      But I agree most people could lower their carbohydrate intake. It is just too high for their level of activity.

      I try to choose my carbohydrates based on their low GI number. (You may want high GI foods if you’re cycling – hits the system fast)


  • Drew April 19, 2013, 9:17 am

    I had always been an “eat whatever agrees with you and you don’t get fat” advocate up until a couple of years ago. I came across the whole paleo diet from Rob Wolf, I am also friends with a couple who has put out a few books on the paleo diet (Gather, food lovers primal palate etc) I think high carb diets shouldn’t have any place in your average person’s diet (mostly sedentary job, non-strength training athlete etc.) It makes it much easier to get people to stay within their daily caloric intake and not get fat if they cut out carbs and sugars first. HOWEVER, I do find athletes and strength athletes need more carbs in their diet. There are books out there, one called “paleo for lifters” that goes into detail about how and when to apply carbs to your diet. I personally notice the difference when carb cycling (high carb on workout days, low on rest days) in my strength and endurance (I also play rugby at a national level). Not to mention the effects carbs have on water retention (more carbs, more glycogen stores, more water weight). This is also why people who go on a ketogenic diet experience some big initial weight loss (mostly water). I’ll be the first to admit however that I am from the Northeast, and I can still put away an XL NY pizza like no ones business and not feel guilty.

    I wish the FDA would educate the average american on the importance of macros not calories in maintaing a healthy lifestyle, I know for me it was a huge eye opener to see what I really needed to be healthier and improve my physique.

    Also, anyone who is interested, bulletproof coffee is an amazing concoction that can be a breakfast replacement on some days to trigger healthy brain activity and stave off hunger. When I drink some bulletproof coffee in the morning I can go all day without getting even the slightest hunger pang

  • Johnny Moneyseed April 19, 2013, 9:17 am

    Man, I’m glad you wrote this post. After the last time you brought up the whole paleo-style diet, I was picturing you eating red meat constantly with every meal. While I love a good steak, or beef burger, they can really do some serious damage to your arteries if you partake in red meat eating 3-4 times a week (or more). While the debate is still raging whether or not red meat is actually bad for you, or the reason that Americans see a higher percentage of heart disease/heart attacks, I still tend to shy away from overconsumption of red meat. I at least try to make a conscious decision to eat it, instead of just throwing burgers on the grill every night, because that’s what you do when it’s nice out.

    • Kaytee April 19, 2013, 9:35 am

      Out of curiosity, have there been any recent studies published comparing the effect of high red meat consumption that also delineates the source of the red meat? As in, whether it is from grass fed and overal healthy cows versus corn, sugar, and antibiotic stuffed cows from HCFL’s? I saw a recently published graph comparing the nutritional value of feed lot eggs to true free range eggs, and the difference is substantial. I would imagine that the health of the red meat would have an impact on the consumer.

    • Drew April 19, 2013, 9:50 am

      I hate the aversion to red meat, I think it falls in the same category of “fat is bad.” Grass fed beef is amazing. Venison is amazing. Bison is amazing. My cholesterol levels continue to be in the above ideal level despite eating steak a minimum 3 times a week (and eating at least 16 oz a serving). I get tested annually and have only seen my levels improve yearly.

      This isn’t a knock on an vegetarians out there, but if you eat meat don’t be afraid of red meat. And if you don’t buy/can’t afford grass fed, just keep your omega 3/6 ratio in check by consuming the good fats (fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil) That is really where the bad reputation comes from.

      • Emmers April 28, 2013, 8:06 am

        And (not that MMM is doing this, but I suspect a lot of people do) don’t use “red meat is good!” as an excuse to eat lots of bacon cheeseburgers or whatnot. Moderation, balance, etc.

    • Emmers April 28, 2013, 8:05 am

      What I’ve read about the paleo diet basically says that it’s not the worst idea in theory, but that people practice it wrong (just like we do with a carbohydrate-rich diet).

      At the risk of moralizing food, one example is
      Wrong: Bacon, fried.
      Right: Lean boneless skinless chicken, grilled.

      Less red meat (or fatty meats like bacon), more lean meats/fish type things.

      (Also, if it were *actually* paleo, y’all would be eating a lot of insects too…but I recognize that “paleo” is just a label, with no actual meaning or content whatsoever. I just like pulling the insects thing out whenever I can. :-D )

  • Quest April 19, 2013, 9:40 am

    Mr. MMM, may I suggest that you cook with coconut oil as opposed to olive oil? Olive oil is great unheated on salads with some balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing but, when it is heated, it takes on different properties entirely. I discovered coconut oil last year and I have to say, it seems to be the perfect oil for cooking. Love your blog :)

    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 19, 2013, 10:14 am

      Do you have a source on the heat-affected properties of olive oil?
      Everything that I’ve read on the matter indicates that very little changes as long as you stay below the smoke point, but I’d be interested in reading anything from a chemist or a cardiology study that shows otherwise.

      • Amicable Skeptic April 19, 2013, 2:08 pm

        I don’t know about the heat affected properties of olive oil but I have heard some stuff from a Dr. I respect (Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) about how olive oil could actually be quite bad for you. He helped write Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and you can find a big preview of it free online on google at http://books.google.com/books?id=hihHaBiKKU8C&lpg=PA85&ots=dJHTC9Jv73&dq=%22Dr.%20David%20H.%20Blankenhorn%22&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false scroll down to page 85 to see him discuss oil. If reading is not your thing he summarizes it pretty well in this video (though he is obviously preaching to the choir here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_o4YBQPKtQ ). I am on the fence about what he says though, part of me thinks that I can ignore his advice till heart disease is an issue for me, but if I had a stronger history of heart disease in my family I would be more cautious of oil, even olive oil.

        • Mr. Frugal Toque April 21, 2013, 4:32 am

          That’s some odd material there. I mean, the guy is a cardiologist, but still, I’m struck by the way he uses phrases like “artery clogging saturated fat.”
          There’s also the bit where he points out that, in the Mediterranean study, 25 percent of the patients on the diet died or had new cardiac events over the next few years.
          He says this is terrible.
          But he doesn’t say what the control is. Maybe it’s normal for 90% of people to have cardiac events in that time. Or maybe the control group had 10%? Who knows? Not this doctor, or at least he doesn’t say so here.
          There’s also the bit about how those on the monounsaturated oils do as badly as the saturated group. This could mean that mono oils are bad, or that satuarated oils are *not* bad, yet only one possibility is assumed in this article.
          Sets off all kinds of alarm bells for me when I read things like this.

      • jean-marc April 19, 2013, 6:18 pm

        you may be interested in this site about the negative effect of oil on your cardiovascular system. fairly recent study as well as the “Fork over knives” movie http://www.heartattackproof.com/about.htm

        • Mr. Frugal Toque April 21, 2013, 4:42 am

          And here’s the actual study the doctor is (probably) talking about. I can only guess that’s what he’s talking about because I can’t find any citations on the website.
          They’re demonstrating that switching from saturated fat to non-saturated omega-6 oils made things worse so post-cardiac event patients.
          They don’t say how much worse, nor did they control for other dietary changes and they admit that there is an issue with publication bias and a need to dig deeper through unpublished studies.
          Interesting, at least.

      • Joe April 20, 2013, 8:34 am

        I think you are spot on. The issue becomes how one cooks. You can’t cook with it by torching whatever you are cooking on the stove on “high”. You’ve got to be patient and cook at a lower temperature. Then, you should be fine.

    • 205guy April 21, 2013, 2:28 am

      Be careful with coconut oil, it has a lower smoke point than olive oil. I just googled smoke points, and there doesn’t seem to be any authoritative source, but olive oil is always higher than coconut oil. I have cooked with both, and feel I get too close to the smoke point with coconut oil. Olive oil always seems stable unless I forget a pan on the stove.

      BTW, another benefit of cooking with enough oil is that you can use cast iron or stainless steel cookware: no toxic non-stick pans (which kill birds if you overheat them–talk about a canary in the coal mine) and no oil sprays (those always make me think of WD-40).

  • 25 Hour Human April 19, 2013, 9:51 am

    I’ve always been very active – I raced bicycles for years (definitely not a mustachian hobby!), and I currently run about 30 miles per week. When I became vegan 2 years ago, I was shocked by how much fat my body was craving.

    I deep-fry more than I ever thought I would now. My mom always told me frying at home was messy, impractical, and expensive, but I’m proving her wrong!

    • 205guy April 21, 2013, 2:32 am

      I once visited friends in Belgium (true home of the “French” fry), and was surprised to see the kitchen had a built-in deep fryer. It looked like a smaller version of what you see behind the counter at McD’s.

  • Dee18 April 19, 2013, 9:55 am

    If you have Aldi’s in your town, check it out for avocados. I recently paid 39 cents each. Other recent buys: bag of onions: 99 cents, bag of mixed peppers (about 15 small red, yellow and orange) $ 1.89. It’s my favorite store for produce that my farmers market does not have.

  • CL April 19, 2013, 9:56 am

    YMMV. I know that low carb, high fat works for the vast majority of people. I definitely jumped on that wagon and did it for five months. At the end, I got blood work done by my doctor and she ended up sending me to an endocrinologist. My kidneys were sending out distress signals from the high fat consumption according to my endocrinologist. I know that my results are atypical, but I think that it’s worth mentioning that low carb, high fat won’t work for everyone.

  • RubeRad April 19, 2013, 9:57 am

    “full-fat cheddar cheese”

    I lived in England for a couple years, they actually market stuff that way “full-fat cheese” “full-fat yogurt”, “full-fat creme fraiche” (sour cream) etc.

    “Fat is not fattening. Eating when you don’t yet need refueling is what makes you fat, and high-carbohydrate eating is what causes the craving to eat too often.”

    That’s a mouthful. I think you can simplify it to “Fat is not fattening. Sugar is Fattening.” (and carbs is sugar)

    “fat” (also known as “oil”) is not a taboo toxin that immediately sticks itself atop your nearest existing reserve of stored bodyfat if you accidentally ingest it.”

    That’s right; it’s sugar that does that. Any carbs ingested that are not burned, are turned into fat.

  • BeatTheSeasons April 19, 2013, 10:28 am

    Surely the quote should say $1,000 per month not per day?!!!

  • Mr. Physics April 19, 2013, 10:42 am

    But… how do you poop?
    If you used to start the day with fiberful oatmeal, and now have cheesy omelettes– well, it’s a good thing you’ve got all your plumbing up to code, that’s for sure.

    Also, you seem to be paying way less for eggs–$0.20 each? $2.40/doz? Even the cheapest, blandest battery-hen eggs can’t be had for less than 3$/doz on sale, here. (I spring for 5$, ethically raised and farm-fresh, instead.)

    • Bella April 19, 2013, 2:10 pm

      Yea, I was wondering that too. Avacados – $3 a piece – and that’s assuming none go bad/or are bad before you open them. Yea, MMM never said he buys fancy eggs – but if that where you’re getting a large portion of your protein, youre misrepresenting yourself as an all natural grass fed foodie by buying cheap factory farm eggs.
      But if one can really get avacados and good eggs for such good prices at Costco – I may just have to check this whole warehouse thing out. Can you freeze avocados?

      • JC April 19, 2013, 2:18 pm

        My last trip to Costco got me 6 avocados for $5 and 36 eggs for $3.50.

        • Bella April 19, 2013, 2:24 pm

          WOW. Thanks for the reply! My grocery bill is the one thing I can’t seem to reign in. so I guess now I have the kick in the pants to finally start looking into the warehouse thing.

      • mariarose July 24, 2013, 8:59 am

        I work Perishables for a Dollar General Market in KY. Our avocados are regularly $0.95 and often on sale 2 for $1.00

    • Sweet Tart April 19, 2013, 6:19 pm

      Here’s a study where reducing fiber helped relieve constipation: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/

      Higher fat eating is actually pretty helpful in the poop department.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 24, 2013, 9:28 pm

      Wow.. where do you live, Bella and Physics? I do eat only fancy eggs – cage-free ones are $2.40, but usually I go even fancier and by from the “Garage Grocer” organic local co-op at $4.00/doz (so 33 cents/egg.. oh the financial pain!)

      As I often repeat, almost all food we buy is as optimized as possible for health and eco-friendly farming practices. We make no compromises at all for money reasons. Before retirement, the situation was different, but now with nothing left to save for, we are spending like crazy. That’s why the family’s grocery bill has risen to at least $350/month.

      Avocados are rarely over $1.00 here, and both Avos and organic eggs are even less at Costco. And of course, when visiting Hawaii I get free avocados from the trees ;-)

  • retirebyforty April 19, 2013, 10:43 am

    We need to cut back on our carb too. I’m Asian and our diet is rice based so it’s hard. We’ll keep trying.

  • schmei April 19, 2013, 11:14 am

    This is the advice I need: “But the key to all of this fat, is that it must replace, rather than supplement, your refined carb intake.”

    We made the switch to full-fat dairy and tasty healthy oils a couple of years ago, and look/feel better for it… but we still eat way too much bread and pasta. Bread is the frugal killer for us, because we have a bread machine and get bread flour at Costco, so there is always some tasty, low-cost, fresh-baked preservative-free carb action in our kitchen.

    Time to wok on the next step!

  • Caitlin April 19, 2013, 11:28 am

    While, I agree wholeheartedly that fat is good and that we are eating too little of it in our society, it is very important to stress the difference between good fats and bad fats. Good fats include some you mentioned; eggs, avocados, bacon, and olive oil (even though cooking with olive oil at high temperatures tends to oxidize it and make it act like a free radical in your body). Saturated fats are actually very good for you. Think about it: all your brain cells, neurons, and cell membranes are made of saturated fats, plus it occurs naturally in breast milk in very high amounts and is very important in a lot of body processes. Saturated fats are better to cook with than olive oil because they are stable at high temperatures. Use butter, lard, ghee, or coconut oil to cook with, not olive oil. And the bad fats to avoid are any vegetable oils (like canola, corn, soy etc.) and hydrogenated oils typically used in processed foods and for deep frying in restaurants. These are extruded at extremely high temperatures and pressures which create free radicals and a lot of other nasty components you don’t want in your body.

    I’m with the group advocating for spending more on the food you eat. The last thing people need to think is that they should be buying poor quality food to save money. Food is so important and there are other ways to save money when buying it. An important thing to consider when buying food is reducing food waste. Many people buy more than they can eat, and end up throwing a lot out. Buy only what you will eat and make sure it is of a high quality and is nutrient dense, that way you’ll get more bang for your buck.

  • superbien April 19, 2013, 11:33 am

    Ha, I love MMM’s penchant for hyperbole. “Other people pick up a different vibe, saying: “Mr. Money Mustache, you seem to eat a good [Nutritious/Primal/Paleo] diet. How can you do this, and feed a family well on less than $1000 per day?”” Awesome :)

    I’m finding something similar to MMM, although I’m only on week 3, about oil and whole foods. I’m in the midst of switching to mostly vegetarian (and humane meat, when I can afford it), and since let’s be honest I’ve never considered vegetables to be real food, I’ve been really exploring Indian recipes (the only cuisine that I actually prefer veggie over meat) – sag paneer, chick pea masala, and aloo gobi curry are my three favorites so far. The cool thing is how satisfied I’ve been feeling, on how few daily calories, because I am eating generous servings of oil as well as a lot of veggies. (Last night I made tacos with veggie crumbles, and immediately was hungrier than when I started – damn you, taco shells!) I’ve been cooking at home and bringing my lunch, and it’s like all of those sugar-monster cravings I got from eating out have just… disappeared. It’s really cool. Oh, and I’m down 14 pounds so far.

    • Nina July 8, 2013, 7:05 am

      If you’re into Indian food, you should try Dal Makhani – black and brown lentils, some kidney beans, tomato, onion, garlic, cream and butter… Delicious!
      Aloo Gobi and Chana Masala (the chickpeas) are also among my favorites!

  • taryl April 19, 2013, 11:54 am

    i eat the same way as MMM and i’m tall, thin and love, love, love food all because i’m not a processed food fan.

    why should it surprise anyone that MMM’s money optimization system also applies to eating – probably applies to most other areas of his life.

  • Marcia April 19, 2013, 12:02 pm

    This is very interesting. I have been a big reader of all things diet, and it’s really hard to separate the hype. And also, it’s important to recognize that one-diet does not fit all.

    I read Mark’s Daily Apple. And I still think that low-carb is a bunch of hype, for the most part. If you want to get “cut”, fine. But what are the long term effects? I cannot help but read about saturated fat and meat and their relationship to heart disease and cancer.

    I also read a lot of vegan blogs and have read The China Study. I am uncomfortable about how the book extrapolates data and ignores other correlations. (And also, correlation =/= causation). And many vegans feel great for a few years but then end up with vitamin deficiencies.

    I think the whole low-fat craze was just a very bad thing to go down. It got people too addicted to carbs (well, that and the processed food industry – I just read Salt Sugar Fat – yikes!). On the other hand, our diets prior to the low carb craze were not the best either.

    One very interesting book that I read is “Refuse to Regain” by Dr. Barbara Berkeley. She’s an obesity doctor. She’s definitely of the low-carb craze, but her research has shown that people who are “FOW” (formerly overweight) metabolize carbs in a different way than people who are “NOW” (never overweight). Meaning: how we eat and what we weigh can PERMANENTLY alter our bodies and how they handle different foods. While Betty, who has never been overweight, can eat 6-8 servings a day of potatoes, bread, and rice, Mary, who used to weigh 200 pounds, can only have one or two.

    I personally like to look at the Blue Zones and longest lived people for inspiration. So I am a fan of the Mediterranean diet. While it’s not low-carb, it’s also not low-fat either. Less sugar, more veggies, fruit, beans and whole grains (but not piles and piles of them). Instead of a big pile of beans and rice and steamed veggies with no fat, I prefer a smaller plate of beans and rice with some veggies sauteed in olive or coconut oil (and not a tiny teaspoon either).

    However I’m still working it out, trying to figure out what works for my over-40, just had a baby 9-months ago body. Regardless, to lose the baby weight I have to count calories, which is a bummer. But there it is. I eat vegan AND paleo (but not at the same meal obviously), so I’m always interested in seeing what other people eat.

    • Kaytee April 19, 2013, 1:25 pm

      Everyone told me that I wouldn’t drop the last 10 lbs of my baby weight until I stopping breastfeeding. I dropped gluten, wheat, and dairy because of some health issues my LO was having and now I am a pound less than my pre-pregnancy weight. Still breastfeeding and no calorie counting required. Though we are 14 months pp.

      • Lisa M April 26, 2013, 7:57 am

        Kaytee – I went back to pre-preg weight very quickly too due to breastfeeding. Didn’t have to drop any foods (yay). Breastfeeding is awesome, glad to hear you are still at it.

  • Kyrie Robinson April 19, 2013, 12:13 pm

    This is absolutely hilarious – 1000+ calories for breakfast? I am cracking up! I agree that the whole low-fat experiment in the USA for the last 20 years was an utter failure, and that latest science is showing far more harm (and body fat) from sugars and bread/potatos/pasta/white rice than from fat… And I agree that science shows that protein keeps you satisfied longer than just low-fiber, low-protein cereal Sure, I’m with you. But calories still matter. 1000+ calories at breakfast??? As someone who gains weight on anything more than about 1500 calories all day (and yes, I run/bike/tennis/weights 5-6 times a week thank-you-very-much), this is just making roll on the floor laughing. Plus, I’m afraid many others FAR less active or with less muscle mass will take this literally, then wonder why they are GAINING fat.

    1000 calorie breakfast is an OUTLIER people.

    • WageSlave April 19, 2013, 12:55 pm

      Honest question: have you *tried* MMM’s breakfast? Yes, it’s 1000 calories, but virtually all fat and protein calories. My own personal experience is consistent with MMM’s, and many other testimonials that I’ve read (e.g. Mark’s Daily Apple): fat and protein calories are so much more *filling* than carbs; it’s about satiety. If 1500 calories a day is truly all you need, then you might be able to get away with that breakfast, and a similar snack much later in the day. Or, if you really eat that little, I suspect you wouldn’t even be able to finish MMM’s breakfast: you’d fill to full before you could eat it all. Try it, and maybe scale the ingredients proportionally.

      • Marcia April 19, 2013, 9:06 pm

        I did the “Primal 21 day challenge” a couple of years ago to try and lose a little weight.

        I didn’t lose any weight. But I did get pregnant. So high fat was good for my fertility anyway (I was 41).

    • Joe April 20, 2013, 8:45 am

      Laugh all you want. I eat a similar breakfast every single day which probably rivals MMM’s calorie intake and is very fat-centric. I eat around 7:30 AM with my family. I usually hit the gym or go out for a run during my lunch hour. Do a little work at my desk afterwards. By 2:00 I am about ready for lunch, which is a salad, a little meat on it with an oil based dressing. That breakfast gets me all the way through to that point.

      Yeah, if you sit on your can 24/7 and eat 1,000 calories for breakfast, you are doomed. I think MMM is pretty clear about the “activity” part of the equation needing to be there too.

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 20, 2013, 7:51 pm

        Indeed.. Calories depend on body size and other factors, but I find I burn 1000 calories in one hour of biking at 20mph.. And several thousand in a half-hour workout, if it is a heavy enough one to require a day or two of sore-muscle recovery. I agree though.. If you need fewer calories, by all means eat less as suggested in the post.

        • Patrick April 21, 2013, 7:48 pm

          My most recent tour is the most sedentary work I’ve ever done, so I’ve had to completely adjust my diet. Now I almost never eat meat and eat massive amounts of raw and steamed, green leafy vegetables.

          I don’t like thinking about eating so I follow Dr. Fuhrman’s advice and eat as much as I want of the right food. This makes everything simple. People get so crazy about nutrition, and I don’t understand all the controversy. If you perform massive amounts of physical activity, you need a lot of food. Surprise. The quality of the calories is what ultimately determines the quality of your life as you age.

          I probably eat 3 pounds of fruit and vegetables everyday. I slowly lose the weight that I slowly put on over the past 2 yrs. I wonder what life will be like when I’m no longer sedentary when this staff tour is over….

        • Ron April 21, 2013, 10:38 pm

          Careful there, MMM. If you’re riding 20mph by yourself for very long you’re going to have to start racing, meaning additional outlays for a racing license and entry fees.

    • bayrider April 22, 2013, 3:34 pm

      Almost every day I eat a three egg omelet with grated cheese, 1/2 avocado, 3 slices of thick bacon and a double scoop of whey protein mixed with frozen blueberries in coconut milk. cooked in a heavy dollop of butter

      Dinners are steaks, pork chops, carnitas, chicken with skin on etc. Large servings of spinach or salad or other green vegs. Snacks are cashews, almonds, beef jerky, apples with cheese. I average 2 beers per day, typically high calorie ones like Sierra Nevada.

      Since I started doing this my weight dropped 15 lbs and stabilized at 165 no matter what I do, although I am mostly active. I am 58, 5’9″ and 15% body fat, the best I have been since my 30’s. And I eat almost twice what I used to, I forgot to add that I also quit smoking at the time I started this diet which in previous quits ballooned my weight. I feel super great and my wife had the same experience, she looks totally different than I have ever seen her and I actually miss some of her pounds, but it makes her very happy!

      Paleo eating, it seriously works. And especially for folks who are hugely overweight, they lose big weight very fast.

    • Tom January 19, 2014, 6:39 pm

      1k calories for breakfast is not an outlier. Someone who is active on 1.5k calories a day is.

  • Bliguy April 19, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Love the blog, great discussion here.

    My question is about the morning coffee. I’ve slowly let myself become addicted, and I like my coffee somewhat sweet. As a long time believer in derivatives of the diet described above, I never wanted to load up on sugar each morning. So, I sweeten with splenda, and, whenever possible, organic Agave nectar that I get at costco.

    Am I derailing the rest of my diet by doing this?

    • Margaret Fuller April 19, 2013, 1:38 pm

      I’d skip the agave–it’s no better than high fructose corn syrup because your liver metabolizes it. Have you tried stevia? I’d choose stevia if I needed sweetener in my coffee and was trying to minimize calories. If calories are ok, how about honey?

    • Carolina on My Mind April 20, 2013, 10:41 am

      I don’t think a little Splenda (or sugar) in your morning coffee is the end of the world if the rest of your diet is healthy, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much if I were you. But if you want to, you could try gradually cutting down on the sweetener until you don’t need it at all. I put sugar in my coffee for years and years, and eventually I weaned myself off the sweetener and now drink my coffee black (with a sprinkle of cinnamon sometimes). The key for me was reducing the sugar a little bit at a time and letting my palate adjust.

  • WageSlave April 19, 2013, 12:27 pm

    First, Gary Taubes. This man, in my opinion, is the authority on why carbs are bad and fat is good. You can read his written-for-laymen book, “Why We Get Fat”, or the more dense, scholarly “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, or start with his NYT summary article, “What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie.”

    Now… In my little corner of the world, I find that my social group is *vehemently* opposed to the idea that “fat is good for you”.

    One example is my parents. I sent them the NYT article and lent them my copy of “Why We Get Fat”. But then my mom saw Gary Taubes on the Dr Oz show. I haven’t seen the show, but I understand that Oz all but discredited Taubes as a radical with unsafe ideas. (Taubes himself claims he knew in advance the slant the producers were going to put on him, but took the “any publicity is good publicity” stance.)

    Another example is my uber-rich friend. He and his wife both have personal trainers, who also act as dieticians. And these “experts” are also pushing the same old low-fat, high-carb agenda. My friend and his wife mentioned Taubes’s ideas, and they basically blew them off as ridiculous.

    Just about every forum or blog commentary I’ve seen where this topic comes up goes something like this: the “radical” notion that carbs are bad and fat is good is stated. Someone rebuts that with something along the lines of, “That’s crazy, everyone knows fat is bad. What proof do you have?” Then the pro-fat people say, “See Gary Taubes, who spent years meticulously researching the scientific literature to compile his Good Calories, Bad Calories book.” Then the mainstreamists refute that with claims that Taubes cherry-picked his data, and ignores all these studies that contradict his claim (the more dedicated will provide links to such studies; others, like my mom, might only cite Dr Oz). At that point, at best it degrades into constantly discrediting Taubes or other studies on human nutrition (for either position); and at worst it degrades into a good old fashioned Internet flame war.

    In the broader sense, I think it’s fascinating from a socio-philosophical standpoint: there is this conventional wisdom/belief system that everybody has, with a lot of inertia behind it perpetuated by the “experts”. In this case, it’s the idea that fat is bad and carbs are good. But in general, when you have a widespread belief, the first people who challenge that are viewed as crazy. And in fact, a lot of these challengers are perhaps truly crazy. But there’s a chance, however slim, that one of those lunatics might just be right. Gary Taubes talks about this on his blog (with much better prose than me). He likens this nutritional paradigm to the time when *everybody knew* the earth was flat. At that time, to suggest otherwise was blasphemy. But eventually mankind came to know better. Will it be the same with dietary matters? Will the idea that fat is bad and carbs are good one day be an embarrassment in the history of man’s collective knowledge?

    I guess the philosophical question is, “What do we really know?” And I know, regardless of what position you take on this dietary debate, that designing a proper, scientifically rigorous study on human nutrition is *incredibly* hard and costly. The ideal scientific study allows for only one changed variable at a time. But with human nutrition, you can’t change just one. If you remove carbs from a diet, what do you do? If you just cut carbs, you’ve changed two variables: total caloric intake as well as proportion of macro-nutrients. If you replace carbs with another nutrient, then you’ve upped one variable and downed another.

    • Joe (yolfer) April 19, 2013, 4:03 pm

      Just wanted to give a +1 for “Why We Get Fat.” For anyone in the “I don’t believe fat is good for you and carbs are bad, show me the research!” camp, this book is full of peer-reviewed, statistically-significant studies all pointing to the same conclusions that MMM wrote about above.

      It’s written in a friendly, non-nerdy way, and although it’s long, it’s pretty skimmable.

      After reading it, you can still say “I don’t believe fat is good and carbs are bad,” but you will no longer be able to say “there’s no evidence that fat is good and carbs are bad.” That may have been true for our parents’ generation, but there’s no excuse for us to continue to be ignorant about our diets.

      It’s like how the science converged around the ill effects of smoking 50 years ago. The generation who grew up with guilt-free tobacco use didn’t want to give up their cancer sticks, but now a-days nobody can truthfully say “I didn’t know it’s bad for me.”

    • Marcia April 19, 2013, 9:14 pm

      I did read Good Calories, Bad Calories.

      What do we really know?
      What works for one person might not work for another. We aren’t all the same.
      From an overall health and longevity standpoint, the Mediterranean diet (which is NOT low carb and NOT low fat) is one of the healthiest.
      Another “Blue Zone” is Loma Linda, CA, where there are a large number of vegetarians.

      Fascinating stuff from all sides. I love carbs, but I can’t overeat them or I just crave them constantly. I love eggs for breakfast, but a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and banana will also hold me until lunch.

    • Tom April 22, 2013, 1:40 pm

      “Another example is my uber-rich friend. He and his wife both have personal trainers, who also act as dieticians. And these “experts” are also pushing the same old low-fat, high-carb agenda. ”

      Of course they’re pushing that agenda. They’re trainers. If their clients “got better” (i.e. lost weight, got fit,…etc.), they’d be out of a job.

      Like the quote in All The President’s Men, “Follow the money.”

      P.S. I use the same view for most if not all “studies”. My first question is always, “Who paid for it?”

  • Tamlynn April 19, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Learning to cook is such an underutilized way to save money. I usually feed a SoCal family of six on slightly less than $100 per week, and I feel we eat high quality food Including organic and lots of produce. My family is two adults, kids ages 16, 12, 10, and baby. Granted the baby doesn’t eat solids yet, but I eat a ton to keep up with him!

    We recently started remodeling our kitchen, leaving me with only a microwave, rice cooker, crockpot, and refrigerator. I packed up 90% of my kitchen and kept out a bare minimum on a folding table in the family room. This week I went grocery shopping at my regular store and was dismayed to see a bill nearly $40 higher than normal. What luxuries did I buy? Two loaves of bread, two boxes of granola bars, and two jars of sauce (Thai peanut and teriyaki) Normally I would have made these things at home. Granted, they were fancy items with whole grains, organic, no HFCS, etc. but still, $40?

    Im getting good at crockpot and rice cooker meals, but I can’t wait for my kitchen to be done so I can start cooking again! Also not having to hand wash dishes in the garage will be nice.

    • InDifferentCircumflexes April 20, 2013, 1:17 pm

      Perhaps I should get a crockpot, too – I’m already good at crackpot cooking…


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