Introducing The Croissant Diet

OR: How I eliminated my spare tire by eating croissants using the six scariest words in the english language: saturated fat, insulin resistance and free radicals.

While researching for the series “The ROS Theory of Obesity“, I came across Valerie Reeves thesis via a post from Hyperlipid. She fed a group of mice a diet with an even split of carbohydrates and fat and relatively low protein. Most of the fat was stearic acid, a long chain saturated fat that is most common in beef fat, cocoa butter and dairy fat. The mice fed this diet became very lean, but in particular they had very little abdominal fat and more lean mass compared to mice fed a high starch diet or mice fed a diet high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. The diet was described like this:

The line labelled “40% kcal stearic acid” shows the macronutrient composition of the diet that produced the lean mice – about 18% protein with 40 percent fat and 42% carbohydrate, with most (85%) of the fat being stearic acid.

I don’t know what you see when you look at that table, but I see a croissant recipe.

And so I thought, “Does this mean I could lose weight by eating croissants?!” And I’m THAT guy, so of course I did it. And it worked.

UPDATE: Check out the Croissant Diet Podcast from Biohackers Lab:

Further Reading

There’s lots to go in this post but when you’re done check out:
The Croissant Diet Specification
The Croissant Diet FAQ

How I Got Here

I’m a 44 year old man from upstate New York. I read Weston Price’s “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” when I was 25, where I learned that white flour, white sugar and vegetable oil were “the displacing foods of modern commerce”. I first did the Atkins diet sometime around 2002. My longstanding belief that the highest quality foods are animal-based foods from animals raised on pasture with fresh air and sunshine led me to leave my job at the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project and start a career raising pastured pigs. Over the years I designed diets for the pigs that would minimize the amount of polyunsaturated fat in the pig fat, believing polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) to be the source of many of our metabolic problems.

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I also have a chef background. While I was living in New York after college, I was doing cancer research in a molecular biology lab at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer center. I signed up for a 13-week intensive training at what was at the time the French Culinary Institute ( now the International Culinary Center). I like good food and I love food history and I love understanding regional cuisines. I’m a nerd and I will spend hours perusing historical food consumption trends from the FAO or flipping through my original manuscript of The China Health Study.

Much of the last 20 years I have spent in and out of ketosis, dabbling with intermittent fasting and attempting to eat as many nutrient rich animal foods as possible – egg yolks, bone broth, pork skin, liver (I don’t like the taste of liver, much to my personal chagrin). But I’ve also been very busy and I wouldn’t describe my personality as “disciplined” or “rigorous”. But I am “fun”! Which is to say that I cheated a lot. And I drink immoderately, mostly red wine and beer. I’ve struggled with my waistline my entire life as have most everyone in my immediate family. The last year or two I had been particularly undisciplined.

I stepped on the scale January 1st of 2019 to the shocking revelation that my BMI had swelled to over 37. Morbid obesity is defined as having a BMI over 40. I am barrel chested with thick forearms and so I carry my weight well. I stay active on the farm and I play full court basketball weekly. Still, things weren’t looking great.

Like so many Americans, I promised myself that this year would be different. I knew what to do, I would go keto. Numerous times in my life I have lost over 30 pounds on keto diets in a relatively short period of time. But I wasn’t 25 anymore and the weight didn’t come off like it used to. I spent the first half of 2019 in ketosis two thirds of the time. I was using intermittent fasting, consuming almost all of my calories between 3pm and 10pm. And I lost a little weight. But I still had a BMI of 35 and a noticeable “spare tire”, the classic symbol of male middle-aged abdominal obesity. I was still drinking dry red wine during this period but I had mostly cut out the beer. As a younger person I was always able to lose weight while drinking all of the wine I wanted.

I don’t have tons of pictures from this time period because fat people don’t like to be photographed. But there are always fish pics. On June 28th I caught a beautiful bass and my brother snapped the obligatory fish pic. And there behind the fish is my spare tire in all of its glory, after 6 months of keto, intermittent fasting and red wine.

My “spare tire” on glorious display after six months of keto and intermittent fasting. I used my friend’s Keto Mojo kit to verify my level of ketosis multiple times over the six months. This picture was taken June 28th, six weeks before beginning the croissant diet.

Also, it’s a nice bass, amiright? I caught it on a black buzzbait in a weedbed near dusk on June 28th in a lake just outside of the Adirondacks if you must know. The bass was released unharmed.

I was frustrated to the point that I agreed to do the carnivore diet with a friend. I even stopped drinking wine! Just beef and mineral water with a little pork and chicken for two weeks. And I maybe lost a lb or two? I was frustrated.

Why I Thought it Would Work

Much of this time I was researching for The ROS Theory Of Obesity. The more I read and researched and thought about The French Diet and the traditional diet of European descended farmers in the Eastern US, the more I came back to one inescapable fact.

A primary regulator of whole body energy balance is the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat.

My long held belief that obesity was caused by carbohydrate consumption was wavering. I had always had some cognitive dissonance about low-carb dieting because, although it clearly works for a lot of people, I also know that French people in 1970 ate something like 1200 calories a day of white flour, white sugar and potatoes and remained lean. There is something to low-carb dieting but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My research had uncovered several facts that were illuminating. 1) Mice fed stearic acid, a long chain saturated fat, lost abdominal fat, whereas mice fed oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat that makes up 70% of olive oil, gained abdominal fat, compared to low fat controls. 2) Mice who lacked the ability to convert saturated fat into monounsaturated fat had a lifetime protection against obesity. 3) Obese humans make three times as much of the enzyme that converts saturated fat into unsaturated fat and have body fat that is significantly more unsaturated.

For decades now, I have believed that polyunsaturated fat from sources such as corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and canola oil are a very bad idea. They are highly prone to oxidation and associated with all kinds of diseases. But the more I researched, I was coming to the inevitable conclusion that monounsaturated fat could also contribute to obesity. Monounsaturated fat has always been a kind of happy middle ground for traditional nutritionists who have moved away from promoting soybean oil and Weston A Price people who promote butter. No one ever really has anything bad to say about olive oil. But everything I learned suggested that olive oil could cause weight gain. Here is my nutshell version of how this works (once again, a shout out to Hyperlipid for figuring this out, I didn’t):

The primary mechanism by which the body stops the flow of energy into fat cells is the production of free radicals, aka Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), at the conserved molecular bottleneck in the electron transport chain of the mitochondrial inner membrane. The ROS block the activity of several proteins involved in insulin signalling, leading the fat cells to become physiologically and reversibly insulin resistant. The job of Insulin is to send a signal to tell fat cells to store energy. If the fat cells are (temporarily) insulin resistant they won’t take in any more energy. Fat loss will occur. Long chain saturated fats create lots of ROS. Unsaturated fats don’t.

All of this suggests that obesity isn’t about carbohydrates per se, it’s about insulin signalling. Carbohydrate consumption causes insulin release and so keto diets presumably work by minimizing the release of insulin. But protein consumption ALSO causes insulin to be released. Fat consumption, especially saturated fat, enhances the insulin response to carbs and protein. So you can manage to release a lot of insulin on keto. In the mice fed the high stearic acid diet, the saturated fat was producing ROS in the mitochondria, which directly shut down insulin signalling and they lost abdominal fat. All of which is to say that maybe a diet of croissants is a more direct way of shutting down insulin than a keto diet?

Why I Worried It Wouldn’t Work

I had three primary concerns that changing the ratio of my dietary fat wouldn’t work or would work very slowly.

My first concern was what if my fat stores were already loaded with polyunsaturated fats and that my body would blend my body fat and my dietary fat into a mixture that wouldn’t produce enough ROS to generate insulin resistance in my fat cells. My understanding is that when you consume fat it is transported as a triglyceride (3 fats hooked together) from your intestine to your fat cells in a chylomicron. Only once the fats are absorbed into the fat cell do lipases in the fat cells convert the triglycerides into free fatty acids which are then used by the fat cell for fuel or released into the bloodstream for other cells to use as fuel. Do fat cells have some type of LIFO (last in, first out) mechanism for using fat, so that dietary fat is prioritized over stored fat? I still don’t know the answer to this question.

My second concern was that if I’ve largely, although certainly not entirely, been avoiding high sources of PUFA all of these years, was the thing that was causing me to be fat my own overproduction of the SCD1 protein? SCD1 is a gene that converts saturated fat into monounsaturated fat. If I was making a lot of it, maybe my fat cells would sabotage me by converting all of the precious dietary saturated fats into unsaturated fats before sending them to the mitochondria.

My final concern was that maybe I was wrong and weight loss is all about carbs and by eating croissants I’d eat too many carbs, produce too much insulin and I wouldn’t lose weight,or I’d gain weight.

I was planning on using myself as a guinea pig but I had my concerns and I wanted to stack the deck in my favor. I ordered some stearic acid so I could feed myself just how the mice were fed.

Enter The Croissants

Let’s take a brief aside to talk about WHY croissants. As I’ve already stated, I haven’t been much of a white flour fan for a very long time now. But I also put a lot of faith in French food traditions and the French eat a lot of white flour. Also, I know that white flour is very good at absorbing fat and saturated fat is the thing that makes this whole diet work. Lastly, white flour is a nutrient-poor food, but croissants are great at holding nutrient dense foods like liverwurst! I won’t eat sauteed liver but I’ll eat a liverwurst croissant sandwich.

More importantly, I was trying to prove my point that “A primary regulator of whole body energy balance is the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat.” If I was going to make myself into a guinea pig I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of creating a diet that worked because of some other mechanism, such as that it was secretly a keto diet or that it was a gluten free diet or a grain free diet or a low food reward diet. Nope, I wanted to demonstrate that I, a person who had managed to approach morbid obesity, could lose weight by eating tasty croissant sandwiches.

Also, yes, it’s a hilarious stunt. Fine, I admitted it, are you happy now?

Fast forward two weeks from the day I began the carnivore diet and I’m in my kitchen with a five lb bag of stearic acid, a pound of butter, a bag of flour and an image of a recipe my friend sent me out of the Culinary Institute of America cookbook for making “laminated dough”, the secret to making croissants. Of course I had made croissants 20 years earlier at the French Culinary Institute. It was time to revisit my roots.

Stearic acid is a strange ingredient to cook with. It has a melting point of over 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that at room temperature it has a texture like candle wax. If you saute something in stearic acid and put it in your mouth while the stearic acid is still molten, it will immediately turn to wax in your mouth. It comes in a beaded form, like little grains of rice.

I didn’t really know how to proceed with this, so I just mixed a bunch of stearic acid granules into the flour to substitute for one third of the butter and made the croissant recipe. The result was… dense. The stearic acid absorbed into the flour but not in an appealing way. It was kind of like a wax impregnated croissant. If you toasted the croissants, the result was edible. I started making pizza croissants. I would cut the croissant in half, toast it, then layer it with marinara, mozzarella and pepperoni.

My plan was to completely stop drinking when I went on the croissant diet. Except that the stearic acid came on a Wednesday and I was excited to try it so I made croissants Thursday night – specifically this was Thursday, August 8th, 2019 – and I had fun weekend plans so I ate croissants all weekend and continued to drink red wine. I was going to legit start the diet on Monday, meaning no more red wine. But the scale dropped by about five pounds between Thursday morning and Sunday morning. Wow! So I figured if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and I continued to drink red wine and eat croissants. And that was how things went for two weeks.

Fixing the Stearic Acid

So cooking with something akin to parafin wax is a bit odd. I have enough of a biochemistry background to know that all fats – olive oil, butter, coconut oil, lard, corn oil, you name it – are mixtures of saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and that the melting point of a fat is determined by the overall blend. And I went to chef school. So I starting blending.

I had to remove the water and protein from the butter to make it into a butter oil like ghee. I used some shorter chain fats to give it a more desirable, less waxy mouthfeel. I think the final product is actually quite good! It’s basically a ghee. It has very high ration of saturated to unsaturated fat, but not out of line with other natural sources. For instance, it has no more stearic acid than cocoa butter, so it’s definitely in the range of naturally consumed foods. Since the proteins have been removed, you can use it even if you have a dairy sensitivity.

It can be substituted for butter in most recipes if you take a few things into account. Butter is basically a blend of fat with 20% water and a little protein. In salted butter, the little bit of water is a salty brine that adds a lot of flavor. So if you use the butteroil in place of butter, especially in a baking application where the recipe is very precise, you should use about 20% less butteroil than you would butter and you should add a little salt and water. If you use it on toast, you may want to sprinkle on a little salt to get that buttered toast flavor.

We are happy to announce that we have a new butteroil manufacturer. The product will ship by the end of November, 2020. It is a larger size format – 10.5 Oz in a wide mouth jar and will be better than ever.

The First Two Weeks

After eating the croissants, I began to feel satiation like never before. A couple times when I was hungry I would prepare two croissants but I could never finish them. I’ve always been a person who never feels strongly satiated. I only stop eating because my stomach hurts. Even then I will continue to pick at a meal. Not with the croissants. When I was done I was DONE.

I started doing intermittent fasting, but not really on purpose. I just wasn’t hungry. A couple times I just forgot about dinner. I FORGOT ABOUT dinner. I mean, I would have some wine and I would get busy doing something and then I’d go to bed. The number of times I forgot about dinner between 1997, the year I graduated college, and August 8th, 2019 was zero. The number of times I forgot about dinner the first two weeks of The Croissant Diet was three.

After the initial burst of weight loss I continued to lose weight but not as quickly. But my body changed. My waistline continued to shrink. My pants continued to get looser and I felt stronger, like I was adding muscle. Interestingly, this is the same thing that happened to the mice: the ones on the stearic acid diet had the highest lean mass in addition to the least abdominal fat. On August 24th a friend took a funny picture of me at a festival with my shirt tied up to show off my leaner belly. When he sent me the picture I actually couldn’t believe it. What happened to the spare tire?! This was after 16 days of croissants and red wine.

Astonishingly most of my spare tire was gone after two weeks of croissants.

On Monday the 26th I tried on a pair of size 34 jeans and they fit. They were actually kind of loose. In July I had bought size 36 jeans from the same style and manufacturer in the same store and they were tight. I’d like to take this moment to make a point about waist sizes in jeans. Over the years, as men’s waists have swelled, manufacturers have increased the waist sizes. A size 36 ain’t what it used to be. The tight size 36 jeans were probably more like a 40 and the size 34 was probably more like a 38. But clearly my waistline was shrinking.

A Word About Macros

Many of you are probably wondering what the breakdown of fat, carbohydrate and protein in a croissant is. I was using the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction except I omitted the sugar and usually I didn’t have milk so I used water and I’m too lazy to bother with the egg wash. By my calculations the macros are around 66% fat, 30% carbohydrate and 4% protein. Of course I made up for the lack of protein by filling the sandwiches with things like eggs and cheese and ham and sausage.

It strikes me that the macros of a croissant are not THAT different from the macros of The Optimal Diet, an influential high fat diet that was around at the time of the Atkins diet when low carb diets were still being called high protein diets and no one had heard the term HFLC (High Fat Low Carb). The optimal diet was created by the Polish Dr. Jan Kwasniewski and it called for around 80% of calories as fat with 10-12% as protein and 8-10% as carbohydrate. Dr. Kwasniewski loved lard as a primary fat source and of course croissants use butter which has a much higher saturated to unsaturated fat ratio than lard, which is worth digging more deeply into.

Here is a table of common fats and their ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats. I am arbitrarily saying that polyunsaturated fats are twice as problematic as monounsaturated fats and so the equation is is this:


LCSFA = Long Chain Saturated Fatty Acid, 14 carbons or longer, like in butter; UFA = Unsaturated Fatty Acid, MUFA and PUFA; MUFA = monounsaturated fatty acid, like in olive oil; PUFA = polyunsaturated Fatty Acid, like in soybean oil.

RatioStearic Acid
Coconut Oil2.832.5%
Stearic Acid Enhanced Butter Oil2.5327%
Wild Elk Backfat1.8623%
Cocoa Butter1.5333%
Beef Tallow (USDA)1.0019%
Beef fat from a Ribeye Steak0.8013%
Lard (From a pig I raised, wheat finished)0.73??
Corn Finished Lard0.5913%
Lard fed 16% Distiller’s Grains0.328%
Chicken Fat0.345%
Peanut Oil0.152%
Olive Oil0.132%
Corn Oil0.092%
Sunflower Oil0.074%

Do you see how I gamed the system by making the stearic acid enhanced butter? I took what was already the best, most nutritious source (butter is a good source of fat soluble vitamins but especially vitamin K2) of high ratio SFA/UFA and made it significantly higher. Other sources of “saturated fat” don’t compare. This is a likely reason why I wasn’t losing much weight eating carnivore but I did lose weight eating croissants. Notice how poorly chicken fat and olive oil do on this metric, but also look how much different the ratio in lard can be depending on the genetics of the pigs and what you feed them! Dry Distiller’s Grains (DDG), by the way, are what’s left over from corn once you’ve turned the starch into ethanol. Did you know that 30% of the US corn crop is turned into ethanol?! Most pigs finished in the Midwest, which is most of the pigs in the country, are finished on DDG. I’ll have much more to say about the PUFA content of meat going forward.

The Next Month

After two weeks, after seeing the photo from the festival and after trying on the smaller jeans I was convinced that the diet was working. A lot of my free time was being taken up making croissants. Shocking, I know. Croissants are a lot of work. I decided to just make pancakes instead. They’re a lot less work and it’s amazing how much butter a pancake can absorb! Three pancakes can easily absorb a stick of butter, or an equivalent amount of stearic acid butteroil. When you fry pancakes in a lot of butter they get crunchy on the outside and stay tender in the center. I served the pancakes with three fried eggs. I used a recipe from allrecipes for the pancakes. When they were done I would melt a few extra tablespoons of butter on them and drizzle them with maple syrup. Like I said before, I don’t want to be accused of the diet succeeding because it lacked food reward.

Other typical meals from this period: pasta tossed in stearic acid butteroil with sauteed vegetables and pepperoni, croquettes (recipe courtesy of fiteen spatulas) fried in stearic acid butteroil and taco salad with ground beef and tortilla chips fried in stearic acid butteroil with a heavy cream based dressing.

I also developed a system of cheats during this time. The cheats were mostly for eating out, at restaurants or at my folk’s house. The allowable cheats were steak, cheeseburgers (with the bun, of course), pizza, ice cream, margaritas and burritos. The margaritas and burritos were necessary cheats because the guys and I go to a Mexican restaurant after we play basketball every week. Eating steak and cheeseburgers allows you to go to a restaurant without being awkward. You DO have to be careful about cheeseburger toppings. Hold the mayo, please. The ice cream? Well, I love ice cream and the fat is all dairy fat and the french eat sugar so it seemed appropriate. I also went to the brewpub in town weekly (at least) and drank beer.

So I ate pancakes, pasta, cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream, red wine and beer and I continued to lose weight and my waistline continued to decrease. And I felt stronger and stronger. I often felt like I had limitless energy in basketball. My friends noticed. One friend in particular commented a few times about how on top of my game I was. For the first time ever I felt like a skinny Frenchman from 1970 rather than a fat American from 2019. All I did was fix the fat ratio!

Warning: you WILL see a shirtless picture of a not-that-fat middle aged man if you continue to scroll down.

September third I went back to the store. I tried the size 32 jeans and they fit. I tried the size 32 jeans and they fit! I tried the size 32 jeans and they fit!!! It had been 26 days. Like I say, they were probably really a 36 but a month earlier I was a 40. I took a shirtless picture showing my belly on September 24th, about six weeks into the diet. This is a picture I NEVER would have taken leading up to the diet.

Six weeks of croissants, pizza and pancakes. I mean, I’m no swimsuit model, but in January I was approaching “morbidly obese”. Things are looking up.

A Negative Feedback Loop

When I talked about the concerns I had before I started the diet, I mentioned the fact that I might be producing too much SCD1, the enzyme that converts saturated fat into monounsaturated fat. I talked about the things that effect SCD1 expression here. But what I didn’t mention is that SCD1 is upregulated by insulin. It is in fact massively upregulated in the short term by insulin. But if we eat enough saturated fat, which knocks out insulin signalling… perhaps it’s not upregulated?

If the SCD1 level stays low, that means that when your body makes its own fat (through a process called de novo lipogenesis. Your body can only produce saturated fat, then SCD1 determines whether or not it stays saturated or becomes unsaturated) – be it from starch, sugar or alcohol – that fat will stay mainly saturated. When your body burns this mostly saturated fat it will produce ROS which will knockout insulin signalling, which will keep SCD1 levels low, which will produce more saturated fat which will knock out insulin signalling.

What a difference a month of croissants makes.

Somehow this is NOT a joke. Honestly, 2018 me is as surprised as you are.


Unfortunately my life was turned upside down in mid-September and I’ve gone back into unstructured mode and at the moment the holidays are upon me. Still I’m going to call the first phase of The Croissant Diet a success. I plan to recommit to the croissant diet immediately after the new year. I’ll let you know how it goes.

132 thoughts on “Introducing The Croissant Diet”

  1. Do the short chain saturated fatty acids not count the same as the long chain variety? Seems like butter (ghee?) and coconut oil (coconut milk?) would be outstanding materials to focus on, short of preparing a stearic-heavy ghee like you’re making.

    The real question, long-term, is what impact will this have on heart health. I’m not one to disdain SFA based on the whole diet-heart garbage hypothesis but drastically increasing SFA in diet could have repercussions.

    1. I think the SFA/heart disease risk has been debunked.

      And there is this study (which I haven’t read yet):

      A stearic acid-rich diet improves thrombogenic and atherogenic
      risk factor proÆles in healthy males

      So would simply incorporating stearic acid into a keto diet also work? I used ot make chocolate bars with cocoa butter and xylitol, maybe I will start again and add some stearic acid.

      1. I have no reason to think that changing the fat ratios of a keto diet wouldn’t work. But pay attention to how I worded that. There’s no point in adding stearic acid and then eating a salad drenched in olive oil. Or adding stearic and then eating things fried in bacon fat. The RATIO, IMO, is very important. CHeck out the croissant diet specification and FAQ if that is unclear.

      2. While for most people, you’re right. But then there are people like me: lean mass hyper responders. Dave Feldman talks a lot about this, but basically, I’m thin and exercise a lot, have no belly fat and have trouble gaining weight. If I eat lots of SFA and dietary cholesterol with low-carb, my lipids shoot over 300 TC. In an oxidative environment, that is very dangerous. So people like me have to either keep PUFA super low and keep oxidative stress and iron very low, or reduce SFA to bring lipids into a more normal range.

    2. So short chain fats get a little weird and I honestly don’t know where the cutoff point is. 8 carbon length fats seem to be processed in the liver to turn into ketones. I THINK the same thing is true of ten carbon fats and I really don’t know about twelve. But if someone wants to send me the link to the paper I’m happy to read it!

      Ketones aren’t a bad thing, IMO, they’re probably a good thing. But I don’t know where they fit into my historical and scientific perspective regarding The Croissant Diet.

      Also, butteroil provides vitamins K2 and A and some D and E and coconut oil doesn’t.

      I don’t buy into the notion that saturated fat causes heart disease. I don’t even understand the argument in favor of saturated fat CAUSING heart disease, to be honest. Saturated fat isn’t water soluble and therefore CANNOT and DOES NOT circulate in blood. Chylomicrons do, and they move fat around, but they are encapsulated with “phospholipids” – detergent, basically, to get the fat around. It’s unclear to me why the fat inside the chylomicrons should affect arterial health and there’s no evidence that saturated fat consumption has any bearing on arterial health. The fact that most heart attacks happens in arteries with high blood pressure and fast moving blood – as opposed to in veins with slow moving, low pressure blood points out the inherent lie in the “saturated fat clogs the plumbing” theory of heart disease.

  2. I had heard in an online lecture that there are two groups of people in Nepal that consume a fair amount of alcohol. One group, mainly nomads high up in the mountains, also consumed a lot of yak butter. Another group didn’t consume as much butter. The group that ate the butter had no incidences of fatty liver disease, while the group that didn’t eat the butter had moderate incident’s of fatty liver disease.

    I wish I could find which lecture I heard that in. But that lecture, and others, have lead me to believe in the protective nature of animal fats.

    1. That is fascinating and not the only study to show the benefits of saturated fat. In fairness, the studies I’m thinking of compare saturated fat to PUFA in the face of high alcohol consumption. It never goes well for the PUFA.

      Still, I’m wondering which nomads don’t consume butter?! I sort of thought that was the whole point of being a nomad.


  3. Thanks for sharing your experience. This is a diet I can get behind 😆You ever look into Ray Peat? Some similar findings.

  4. Brad,
    I have a question that I looked for on your site but couldn’t find.
    Where do you source your stearic acid? I looked on Amazon but found a bunch of cosmetics and skin care products.
    Thank you,

    1. Yeah, most people don’t think of stearic acid as a food but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it.

  5. IF Cocoa Butter has more stearic acid than what you used, why not use that? (It seems to be more available than what you used…though I could be mistaken.)

    1. You could! And it says that in the spec. I prefer butter for the vitamin A and K2 content and the butyrate content as well as for the flavor. Also, I live in dairy country and I don’t like the idea that I’d have to import a fat from the tropics.

      1. I melted together cocoa butter and regular butter. The chocolate flavor was muted quite a bit by the salted butter–just barely perceptible, and I now use that combo for most everything. very easy.

          1. So are the cosmetic products safe to eat? Here in brazil I can only find pure stearic acid in a store that sells things for chemists lol

          2. You’ll have to use your discretion on that! These days manufacturers are held to pretty high standards so if it says pure it should be but I’m in no position to speculate about the purity standards in Brazil.

        1. That’s what I was thinking of doing, too. I’ll give this a try.

          I looked into getting just stearic acid, but even though they advertise it at 100% stearic acid, it’s supposedly only about 50%.

          I have been trying this, and I really do get much less hungry. Now, I’m literally eating pure fat, so I’m adding calories, but in the past I ate a very high fat diet, and it did not have the same effect.

          Thanks for doing this test.

  6. Dr Michael Eades has a Youtube that explains this, also sourced back to Peter at HyperLipid. I realized I watched it a few weeks ago but it didn’t really sink in, except for the part about people eating potatoes cooked with beef tallow compared to potatoes cooked with vegetable oil. The vegetable oil people ate about 60% more calories. He uses palmitic acid as an example but I think stearic acid would be even better.

  7. Before you restart are you planning to get baseline labwork, and follow-up labs after some time on the diet? I’m a bit of a data fiend and would absolutely love to see what it turns up in regard to insulin, hs-crp, lipid panel, etc.
    I’ve found similar results with high fat carnivore (KetoAF; using high fat dairy, and beef fat as fat sourcing) in regards to weight loss, so it’s quite fascinating. Only a small suspicion as to what the labs would turn up if you tested, but would love to be refuted on it. 🙂

  8. Interesting!
    There’s a story somewhere on the internets that talks about a farmer trying to fatten up his cattle by adding butter to their feed and they got leaner. I was never sure whether to believe it or not, but maybe it was true!

    It looks like a lot of cheese is about 2:1 sat to unsat so maybe cheese is a good ingredient to use without needing any change?

    1. I’ve never heard that legend but I’ve heard a similar one about hogs and coconut oil. One of these days I might try it! And yes, all dairy fat has a good ratio. The bugs inside of the rumen of the cow actually hydrogenate (saturate) the fats they eat.

  9. Maybe I am missing something. Do you need the carbs via the flower to get the ROS generation from reverse electron transport? I can’t seem to work that out. Seems like that is what is being said. You need a high delta psi to generate ROS but a ketogenic state results in a low delta psi. Does that mean we can’t generate the ROS in a ketogenic state and that is why we need the carbs? To keep us out of ketosis so we can generate ROS. And the generation of the ROS is making fat cells insulin resistant? I think I’ve read too much for one night.

    1. Haha! Hey Jack. No, I’m not sure you need the carbs. I used the carbs because it worked in mice and I wanted to show that this diet could work while I was definitively NOT in ketosis. Croissants are tasty, though.

      Yeah, a high delta psi is important to generate ROS but I’m pretty sure you can generate a high delta psi without eating carbs although it’s possible that the combination of carbs and saturated fat lead to more ROS than saturated fat alone. Maybe it’s even likely, but I’m not sure. As I say in the FAQ, carb uptake happens in the fat cells independent from insulin via the glucose transporter GLUT4, so it’s possible that carbs and saturated fat together generate more ROS. I don’t know definitively.

  10. if you could not store fat, this makes sense that your Appetite might be severely diminished… From my understanding, the body can slow down the absorption and processing of protein. If you eat a lot of protein, your body can virtually stop your intestines, and this is why sometimes if you burp you can taste the steak the next day. Now, that’s in carbohydrates, he cannot slow down as much. regardless, if you could not store the fat, that means that you must be getting so much in your blood and excess energy is in the system, to the point where it cuts your appetite out? so, this was the case, maybe not a good thing to do on OMAD keto?

    1. My experience is that the effect is simply to quickly trigger satiety as opposed to a buildup, but then I didn’t text triglycerides, etc. When I retest this winter I’ll take better blood records.

      1. Yes, but I don’t think this would be good for a 2,500 calorie OMAD. Right now, when I eat 3 pounds of steak, my body processes the fat pretty quickly, relative to the protein. The chylomicrons remove most of it from the intestines where then it is used and stored. The protein is slowed down, the next day, even around lunch time I can burp and still taste last nights dinner, if I ate enough. But if my body couldn’t temporarily store that fat, if would spike my TRIGs for some time. I am not saying high TRIGs are causal for CAD, but if my body couldn’t store them, and it was more than I could immediately use, they would be floating around in the blood. I could see how this would massively decrease appetite, if what I’m saying adds up.

        1. I sometimes like to think about things by taking them to extremes. what do you think would happen if you ate 2,000 calories of pure stearic acid in one meal?

  11. Would timing have an importance?

    If the reaction to SFA ingestion is local insulin resistance, would, say, having a large spoon of full fat cream before a meal “block” insulin, therefore allowing us to eat carbs (and protein to some extent) without nasty effects.

    I’m unclear as to what’s the role of carbs in the whole process (I did read everything, but it’s information-dense!). Wouldn’t doing the same thing _without the carbs_yield even greater benefits?

    1. It’s a little unclear to me what the effect of timing is, to be honest. It’s an interesting thought.

  12. Hi, this the breakdown of lard


    AG saturés (g/100g) 32,2%
    AG monoinsaturés (g/100g) 42%
    AG polyinsaturés (g/100g) 10,4%
    AG 4:0, butyrique (g/100g) 0%
    AG 6:0, caproïque (g/100g) 0%
    AG 8:0, caprylique (g/100g) 0%
    AG 10:0, caprique (g/100g) 0,06%
    AG 12:0, laurique (g/100g) 0,19%
    AG 14:0, myristique (g/100g) 1,12%
    AG 16:0, palmitique (g/100g) 19,5%
    AG 18:0, stéarique (g/100g) 11,4%
    AG 20:5 5c,8c,11c,14c,17c (n-3) EPA (g/100g) 0%
    AG 22:6 4c,7c,10c,13c,16c,19c (n-3) DHA (g/100g) 0%

    Thank you! You saved my life! I’m a french gaining weight on Keto and OMAD. I will try your diet with tartines made with sourdough bread,rillettes and butter + read wine 😉

    1. So that is the breakdown of one particular sample of lard, but depending on what you feed the pigs the lard content can be as low as 3-4% or as high as 35%! Pigs cannot make PUFA, they only have it if you feed it to them

  13. Have you considered how this fits (or doesn’t) into the concepts of ancestral health? Considering foods [and preparations thereof] with how our bodies have worked through the ages is fascinating.

    1. If you click on the armchair epidemiology category of the blog I talk about ancestral cultures who eat diets high in dairy fat and starch. But the mountain swiss in Weston A Prices “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” also spring to mind, eating a diet of cheese, cream and rye bread.

  14. Many people are drawn to keto / carnivore not just to maintain a healthy weight but in order to reduce inflammation, slow aging, and maximize overall health.

    Do you think that your approach, while effective in losing and maintaining weight, could compromise some of these other goals?

    Fascinating read. I for one would love to add pastries back into my diet!

    1. I think a lot of the issues we see around inflammation are mediated by overactive insulin signalling (the PI3K/mTOR signalling pathways), which should be suppressed by the high amount of long chain saturated fat, certainly in fat cells but likely elsewhere, too. If you can rein in insulin signalling, I think you solve a lot of problems.

      1. Am I misunderstanding, or do you still have high insulin because of the carbs, but your cells resist them? So isn’t the high insulin dangerous, even though it’s not making you gain weight, or because it’s not signaling your cells it’s not harming you?

        1. Presumably I am generating significant insulin in response to a starch/sat fat/protein meal. This is perfectly normal human physiology.

          The question is what happens to fasting insulin levels in the long term on a diet that knocks out insulin signalling to fat tissues. I’d like to think it will drop due to some combination of reduced adopokine signalling, increased hypothalumic ROS signalling, reduced SCD1 levels/etc.

        2. This is what I’m interested in, is the AOC for insulin to the whole body significantly greater than normal physiology? If so then I would be concerned about long term health consequences. If not, is the AOC for beta cell production significantly greater than normal physiology. If so would that increase risk for beta cell failure such as late stage DM2? Based on protons, first pass of the liver, ROS, etc. I have no doubt that there is a way to “hack” weightloss. The question is at what cost…is it a short term fix or a long term solution? I will be interested to follow along with your progress. Unfortunate that you were not able to do labe, or keep going to see what the extended trends would be.

          1. Well, I have no way to measure insulin so I don’t know. But I don’t think any of this is outside of normal human physiology. The butteroil, even when enhanced with stearic acid is in the range of natural human foods such as elk backfat. In terms of examples of people doing well on a diet of starch and saturated fat long term:


  15. look at this, extraordinary:
    To make sure that the mitochondrial fusion elicited by the C18:0 banana milk shake was due solely to the C18:0, and not to a combined action of C18:0 with other components of the milk shake, we asked one subject in a pilot study to ingest pure C18:0 (stearic acid) emulsified in drinking water and scored the subject’s mitochondrial morphology. As expected, ingestion of pure C18:0 significantly induced mitochondrial fusion in vivo

    1. This study is actually about enzyme kinetics that would affect the amount of fats in the membrane in theory. So thinking about stearic acid, enzymes that one could imagine affecting the levels of stearic acid would include enzymes involved in De Novo Lipogensis (when humans make their own fat from starch or sugar, humans can only make saturated fat) as well as the levels of SCD1, which unsaturates the stearic acid made in De Novo Lipogenesis. Then there would be other enzymes that are deciding which fats to put into the membranes VS burn in the mitochondria, etc. (I didn’t look at the actual enzymes, I’m just guessing).

      So if we accept that the tiny correlation (15% RELATIVE risk is probably an ACTUAL risk of about 1%) seen has any biological relevance, we still need to then assume causation in that correlation – for instance that the risk is caused specifically by the presence of stearic acid rather than another side effect of increased De Novo Lipogenesis. We then have to further assume that dietary stearic acid has a dominant effect in producing the fats in the organism VS the enzyme kinetics.

      Assuming this paper says anything about the effect of dietary stearic acid is quite a logical leap.

    1. Very low in both, actually. Coconut oil has lots of saturated fat, but the are shorter chain length fats.

  16. Reading the ROS THREORY . I would suggest that the difference between chineese rural and 2019 USA is also the amount of labour performed . Chinese farmers are/were not industrialised . So there is much more energy used during the day . Same to a lesser extent with 1970 france . More cycling to work.. more walking . the life expectancy figures are the more telling . Over 20 years of looking into diet and its getting more and more interesting every day

    1. It’s hard to compare the activity habits of rural Chinese and average Americans. I would suggest that the 1970 French and Americans are a lot closer. I don’t believe personally that exercise tells us the answer. We now have fat infants. Are American infants lazier than French infants?

    1. Only in certain situations. ROS generation is crucial to many cellular processes. Producing too little ROS results in a dangerous state called reductive stress (the opposite of oxidative stress). Cancer cells accumulate antioxidants like glutathione to prevent apoptosis, the body’s way of eliminating unwanted cells.

      1. Aha. So if I have cancer, I will want to generate more ROS in order to sop up those antioxidants. (I’m not kidding.)

        1. I’m not an expert on cancer, but I will say that cancer often looks like Reductive stress, which is the opposite of oxidative stress. The cancer cells build up an army of antioxidants to prevent apoptosis – programmed cell death. Presumably, a high stearic acid diet COULD help sop up those antioxidants, presuming that the cancer cells in question take it in and metabolize it.

          Good luck!

    1. Doubtful, I was drinking about 2 bottles of wine/night (full disclosure), so that’s ~1500 calories in and of itself.

      1. Tell ya what, Brad, few years back I would not have believed a carnivore diet could benefit me. Maybe two bottles of wine a night and croissants sandwiches could be the next big thing. As long as the wine stops screwing with my sleep (guess it’s not an issue for you yet). My bet is that while your experiment has shown some ability for weight loss, that it will have some unsustainable downsides down the road. (Of course, that was what we said about keto.) Weight’s not been an issue for me so I don’t have more than an arm’s length curiosity for your experiment.

      1. Saturated Fat is very protective of the liver. Fatty liver seems to be caused by a combo of alcohol or fructose with PUFA. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has reached epidemic proportions in the US.

  17. One more thing:
    If SA causes local insulin resistance how glucose from starch is handled?
    Where does it go?
    Wouldn’t this cause de novo lipogenesis? or go to the liver and acummulate(as fat) there?

    1. My presumption is that it is mostly used by brain and muscle tissues as opposed to being stored in fat tissues. Of course DNL could be happening and I tried to eat a lot of egg yolk for the choline to make sure fats could be exported from the liver. Google “Chris Masterjohn choline fatty liver”.

  18. Brad, are you willing to share your stearic acid butter recipe? I am a do it yourself kind of gal. I am so intrigued by your theories. I’ve had suspicions of all vegetable oil for a while and now there is a possible scientific explanation. Thank you!

    1. The basic recipe is 80% butteroil and 20% stearic. If you go above this you’ll start to get wax. You can go higher in stearic if you’re going to be making, for instance, potato chips. The waxy stearic somehow integrates into the chip and the palitability is fine. MCT oil can help to balance the greasy/waxy mouthfeel. 10% is enough.

  19. A few questions if you will.

    1.How many steps do you take in a day.
    2. What is your heart rate variability.
    3. How much sleep do you get each night?

    It’s an interesting case as your intention was weight loss and the mind has a large affect on results.

    I’ve had clients lose weight eating nothing but snickers bars through to potatoes diets.

    It doesn’t make sense but it starts with intention.

    1. Steps: ranges from 6000-15000. I’m a pacer. Sometimes I’ll walk five miles without leaving my house. I didn’t change the number of steps for this.

      It has been my intention to lose weight the whole year before I did the croissants and it worked. I tried keto, carnivore (only two weeks on carnivore).

      I’ve been an insomniac since college. I’m lucky to get six hours.

  20. Hi Brad, I follow Mark’s Daily Apple and he linked to your post last week…WOW! I find this extremely fascinating. You touched on a lot of things here that I’ve been questioning. Some of this is over my head and I’m going to dissect it a bit with my husband’s help, but I’m very intrigued. I may want to try testing some of this out myself.

    PS I totally cracked up when I was reading and noticed that you made my croquettes and linked to my blog!! Small world. Anyway, I’ve been digging through your archives a bit since Mark’s link and am looking forward to working my way through. Have a great holiday!

  21. Emily from twittersphere here- so ate about 1/4 of an apple pie with high stearic acid crust made with grass fed butter and cocoa butter as well as carrots in grassfed butter, flank steak and eggs- buttered obv. Glucose 1 hour post was 86…not bad… my usual is around 80-82- wish there was a way to measure my insulin… I generally have pretty great glucose control- I’m more interested in gut happiness and body comp goals- gonna experiment with a ginger cookie next- experimentation on this WOE is pretty fun!

  22. I’m curious for you to try this with Carbquik or Carbalose flour – if removing the carbs leads to even greater weight loss.

  23. Great write-up, very inspiring! Mechanism may be flora shift where stearic acid changes secondary bile acids, resulting in changes in cholesterol absorption, or reducing endogenous cholesterol synthesis. You’re altering the hydrophobic state of bile which also changes chylomicrons. You’re raising Akkermansia associated with weight loss. Please be careful not to create too much of a good thing, resulting in metabolic problems.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I’m going to attempt a more controlled version this winter, assuming my personality will allow it. Any testing you’d recommend before and after RE: gut microbiome? I don’t have a lot of $$ for this.

  24. Is there a difference in cocoa butter and cacao butter in terms of stearic acid content? And would it make sense to add cacao butter (I haven’t found cocoa butter locally) to my bulletproof coffee (MCT oil, grass-fed butter and coffee)?

    1. I’m not an expert on cocoa butter but it sounds like the same thing to me. It could work in bulletproof coffee, I don’t see why not. Too much chocolate gives me acne, just saying

  25. A couple of thoughts: I always wondered why the cooks at the local Chinese restaurant eat so much rice and stay slim. Why buttered noodles (with garlic powder) was my go-to to breakfast from grade six through high school and I wasn’t hungry until dinner. (My grandmother got me started on that) The I got brainwashed by SAD, gained weight, had achy joints and bad skin. Went keto to 2 years ago, I lost weight, feel and look better. Now I’m going to clear out my pantry once again and go back to my noodles! And Potatos with saltpork and onions! And pierodgi fried in butter! Thank you!

  26. You see croissants, I see chocolate chip cookies. Would that work too? I’ll eat the sausage and eggs in another meal.

  27. I wonder about the role of dietary fiber in weight loss.
    Should I minimize dietary fiber?
    For instance, if I source carbs from whole wheat flour instead of white flour, would I still see weight loss?
    Or if I take beans/lentils for protein, will it work? For beans are full of fiber and as fiber is food for bacteria, and the bacteria don’t want us to lose weight, do they?

    1. I can’t speak to the intentions of bacteria. I think there is a reason that all starch eating cultures around the world eat white rice/white flour/peeled potatoes. It could have to do with lectins or something else, but I’m personally not swayed by the fiber is good argument.

      1. White flour is pretty modern. It doesn’t have sufficient nutrition to serve as a mainstay of a diet.
        Black bread made with whole grains has been a staple but I wonder if whole grains
        would stall weight loss even with butter
        For instance North Indians are wheat eating people. We consume whole wheat flour with ghee. It is not fattening but not particularly slimming either.
        Connection of weight loss with fiber intake was explored by Peter of HyperLipid in his fiaf series

  28. Serious question (no snark) — how do you know you didn’t lose the weight via the same mechanism that the ketogenic Atkins/low carb/carnivore diets do — namely, amping up the stress hormones (cortisol & fellow running mates) to catabolize the body?

    1. I know that goat milk is higher in the mid range saturated fats, like capric and caprylic. You’ll notice that they’re both named after goats!

  29. I’ve taken to eating chocolate while on a modest lchf diet. I’ve found at least one commercial brand…alter eco…with listed ingredients.
    70 % cacao
    Organic raw can sugar
    Organic cocoa butter
    Sea salt

    Would this have the status of appropriate food..with reward?

    1. What about staying with the LFHC/Carnivore diet and adding sugar free white or dark chocolate to every meal (I benefit from chocolate)? How would one calculate how much chocolate to eat at each meal?

  30. I’d like to see a pilot study in humans with body composition analysis,preferably with this technology ( and see what metabolic phenotype predicted with their AI. Or at least document the changes in VAT/WAT.

    Wonder if an IRB would be convinced to approve a diet sloshing in fat…especially animal derived SFA?

    Too bad you did not do DEXA before and after, although the visuals pretty awesome.

  31. I’m in Mexico these days, so I can’t order butter oil directly from you as I’d wish. Any chance you could provide a ‘good-enough’ do-it-yourself recipe?

    1. The basic recipe is to just add 20-30% of stearic acid to hot clarified butter and whisk until its evenly incorporated. A little MCT oil will make it less waxy.

  32. Mr Marshall, any thoughts about the observed reduced bone density as VAT is destroyed by stearic acid? really important to me.

    1. I am certainly not an expert on bone density. I looked at the paper you sent.

      What I CAN say is that I take the work of Weston Price very seriously. I believe that vitamins A, D and K2 are crucial for bone density and a diet based on butter certainly supplies vitamins A and K2 along with some D3. As to the mice in this experiment, their diet was VERY artificial and I don’t recommend eating a highly purified diet. I think if you use butter as the basis of the diet with plenty of egg yolks and get calcium and phosphorous you should be healthy, that’s what historical cultures would suggest.

  33. Possible to still get decent results using normal unsalted butter instead of the stearic acid butter oil? Life too hectic and busy to make my own butter oil.

    1. I think that probably depends on the individual but some have posted good results with just butter.

  34. Hi Brad, first of all a compliment for this fascinating site! really rich in concreteness … you are very realistic.

    I wanted to ask you an opinion if I can about the “body recomposition”. In the world of fitness it seems that only the extremes exist:
    Definition of VS Bulk

    Do you think it is possible to manipulate through your approach (or with changes on training days and those not) get fat loss and lean muscle growth at the same time without focusing on calories / macronutrients?

    I hope I was clear … I apologize because I’m using the Google translator 🙂

  35. Hi Brad,

    I am trying this and I am having great results so far! I am 6 days in and my clothes are loose and my energy is great! And the food is fantastic!!

    Thank you!

  36. Can I say, this is the best diet ever! ; ). Applying these concepts over the past couple of weeks has been a major game-changer. I think I’ve tried every diet known to man. I don’t have a lot to lose, just get leaner, feel good, have energy, etc. (F43, 5’10, 150lb). I’ve tried low carb, but I love to workout and definitely don’t have good lifts or runs on low carb. Plus, on most diets I feel deprived in some way and don’t stick to them. Lowering my PUFA intake, increasing my saturated fat intake, and not being afraid of a little carbs (although GF), for at least one meal a day, has been amazing. I can go much longer between meals without feeling ravenous. My workouts are better than ever, and the lower PUFA seems to have really helped with my asthma symptoms. I’m down a few pounds and feel leaner already. Thank you!..this has been very eye opening.

  37. It would be nice if a recipe easier to make than croissants were available. I was thinking of using my old bread machine, doubling the butter and leaving out the sugar. Have you tried any bread type recipes other than croissants?

  38. Congratulations, Brad! This is so exciting! I just ordered a few bottles of your butter oil. What should I do until I get it? Should I stop using olive oil and avocado oil, and use ghee? If I order the 1 lb of stearic acid from you, would I get that sooner than the oil? Thank you.

    1. I think stopping with the oils and switching to ghee will put you on the right track until we ship in January. Thanks for reading!

    1. I think the less the better, but the ratio is really the important thing. I can’t really quantify it yet.

  39. Awesome write-up Brad! I too started on my journey well over 10 years ago after reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Cordain’s work. My wife got cancer my junior year of engineering school, which motivated me to completely switch my studies to Applied Health Science. Worked as a trainer for a few years and because of my love of cooking I decided to start raising my own chickens, quail and hair sheep. I am excited to start making my own higher stearic acid clarified butter. The comment about low/high desaturase activity is interesting. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience and hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas!

  40. Hi, My wife just ordered some of your products. In the mean time is Cacao and Cocoa Butter the same would this be a good head start.

    1. Cocoa is cocoa butter plus the solids so it’s basically chocolate. Cocoa butter is jut the fat.

  41. I stumbled across this website by accident and have been reading everything I can. It has made me question all the ‘diets’ I have tried over my lifetime. Then something I had forgotten came back to me. I was 15 pounds overweight when I started college 18 years ago. As a college freshman, your eating habits usually change drastically. I remembered I began eating almost daily ‘crazy bread’ from Little Ceasars pizza. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it is bread sticks soaked in garlic butter. You would have thought I would have gained weight, but I actually lost the 15 pounds of excess weight. My mind is kind of blown right now.

  42. I had a question regarding the removal of protein and water in the butter. Why is this necessary? Is it important to remove the proteins or is it simply that they are separated during the heating process and won’t reconstitute?

    1. There’s really no way to mix the stearic acid into the butter without melting the butter first, at which point it separates. My culinary backgrounds tells me to clarify it at that point. You don’t have to.

  43. Let’s don’t forget about Butter Bob Briggs who cooked everything he ate in butter and lard and lost like 150 lbs. in a little over a year.
    His slogan was “Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off”
    He has lots of videos on You Tube

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