The specification of The Croissant Diet is a living document. I plan to update it regularly as we learn.
The central tenet of the croissant diet is that a primary regulator of whole body energy flux is the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. The secondary tenet is that starch is a great delivery vehicle for saturated fat.
Corollary: It’s the PUFA, stupid. Probably also the MUFA. Replacing PUFA and MUFA with SFA can go a long way towards fixing one’s metabolism.
For the science behind the diet check out my series The ROS Theory Of Obesity.
My primary inspirations for The Croissant Diet were the protons thread at the blog Hyperlipid, where Peter has worked out the mechanism of action whereby saturated fat causes fat loss, Valerie Reeves thesis where she made mice very thin by feeding them a mixed diet high in stearic acid, my education at the French Culinary Institute and my studies of the traditional diets of dairy cultures in France, the US and Asia.
Rules And Thoughts
There are really only three hard and fast rules to the diet:
- The diet is a high fat diet, just like croissants.
- The fats used should be very high in long chain saturated fat.
- The fat should be combined with a source of starch such as potatoes, white flour, pasta, masa flour, white rice or degermed corn meal. I’ll bet you didn’t know that when whole wheat is turned into white flour most of the highly unsaturated oil is removed from the grain? The French know a thing or two about food and they prefer white flour. The same thing is true of white rice, masa flour and degermed corn meal. Feel free to use any starch of your choosing.
Some other thoughts about the diet:
- To get the maximum benefit I used the stearic acid enhanced butter oil – stearic acid is just a long chain saturated fat that is present in nearly every food. Is this necessary or would regular butter suffice? It probably depends on the individual, how much stored PUFA you have in your fat cells and your level of SCD1, among other things. If you were brought up in France 50 years ago you probably wouldn’t need the extra stearic acid but in America you have to compensate for decades of poor dietary advice and stored PUFA.
- Compared to the keto diet and the carnivore diet, The Croissant Diet has a mass appeal, it is easy and ingredients are available and cheap. Consider the mashed potato recipe at the end of this page. Peel, cube and boil potatoes, add a lot of butter and mash them. That’s it! It’s delicious and buttery and satisfying in a comfort food way. You don’t have to search out hard to find and expensive almond flour or pay up for grassfed ribeye. And everybody likes it.
- You are allowed to drink alcohol on it. In fact, I would argue that however much alcohol you drink now, you should continue to drink that much. Alcohol affects ROS production in the cell which affects redox balance which affects insulin signalling. If you change your drinking habits at the start of the diet you’re changing multiple variables and it makes it harder to tell if the diet is working for you.
- Can you have sugar on the Croissant Diet? Well, I’m not a huge fan of sugar but then I’m not a huge fan of white flour either. I can say that the French do and did. Probably a little is fine. I ate ice cream several times on the diet. Sugar increases your level of SCD1, which leads to your fat becoming unsaturated, which is counter to the point of the diet, so definitely keep it to a minimum.
- You could, of course, follow another diet such as keto while using the information about fat ratios found in The Croissant Diet to see if that helps your keto diet. But then there wouldn’t be anything terribly croissant-y about your diet so you’d have to find another name
- Eating at restaurants is very hard on The Croissant Diet. Everything in restaurants has vegetable oil in it. Eggs and pancakes? Fried in vegetable oil. Veggies? Sauteed in vegetable oil. Anything fried? In vegetable oil. Blue cheese dressing? Vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is croissant diet cryptonite. Even burgers at a restuarant, a fairly Croissant-y food, are often served with mayo or ranch dressing or some other vegetable oil based sauce. It’s best to stick to steak, baked potato and cheeseburgers with no mayo or other sauce.
- If you eat salad you should use a cream based dressing! Recipes to follow.
- Intermittent fasting is allowed and encouraged on the diet. I often did it on the diet just because I wasn’t hungry. But I’ve had other friends who dabbled with a stearic acid enhanced diet and became ravenous. Stearic acid ups your metabolism.
- It is very difficult to find low PUFA pork, chicken and eggs, unfortunately. Even if the animals are pastured/organic. I’m working on solutions to this so check back in. I still eat a lot of egg yolks for the other nutrition they contain – choline, B vitamins, vitamins D and K2, etc.
- We are in the process of making the stearic acid butter available for purchase. Unfortunately this is an expensive and somewhat timely proposition. If you help out with a pre-order, you will be the first in line once the product ships. We have sourced excellent quality butteroil – pastured and grassfed – that should be high in vitamin A and K2 and a decent source of vitamins D and E. We are getting close to being able to make the first run. We anticipate first product delivery in January.
All fats are a blend. If the mitochondria in your fat cells are metabolizing (oxidizing) a blend of fat that is sufficiently high in long chain saturated fats and low enough in unsaturated fats, enough free radicals will be formed to shut down insulin signalling in the fat cell. Insulin flips a switch in the fat cells that turns off fat burning mode and turns on fat storing mode. If insulin signalling is blocked, the fat cell stays in fat burning mode and energy (fat) will be lost from fat cells.
The croissant diet is a high fat diet that combines highly saturated fat with starch to produce weight loss. There are a lot of misconceptions about the relative saturation levels of various types of fat. All fats are blends of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. To do The Croissant Diet, you must seek out only the most saturated fat (SFA) sources, use minimal monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and avoid pulyunsaturated fat (PUFA) like the plague.
The following table shows the ratios of long chain saturated fats to unsaturated fats in a variety of foods. As you can see, butter has a significantly higher ratio than most other fats that are thought of as being high in saturated fat. This is true of all dairy fat, not just butter. Cream and cheese also have high ratios.
But something like lard (and therefore bacon), which is thought of as a huge source of saturated fat is actually not that saturated. Classic american corn finished lard has a MUCH lower ratio than does butter. Beef fat also has a lower ratio but still higher than lard. As you can see the fat ratio in lard depends VERY much on the genetics and diet of the pig. Trends in recent years have led to less saturated lard (pork fat). Unfortunately this trend often extends to the organic and pastured markets as well.
Chickens are what you feed them and in the US they are routinely fed soybean oil, which makes them grow faster. Again, this is unfortunately true of the organic and pastured chicken as well. This same problem unfortunately extends to egg yolks, one of the most otherwise nutritious foods in the world. Chicken today and pork from pigs fed dry distillers grains from the ethanol-for-fuel industry (ie the majority of pork produced), can have as much polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) as canola oil but with a SIGNIFICANTLY worse Omega 6 to Omega 3 ration that is often more than 20:1.
|Stearic Acid Enhanced Butter Oil||2.53||27%|
|Wild Elk Backfat||1.86||23%|
|Beef Tallow (USDA)||1.00||19%|
|Beef fat from a Ribeye Steak||0.80||13%|
|Lard (From a pig I raised, wheat finished)||0.73||??|
|Corn Finished Lard||0.59||13%|
|Lard fed 16% Distiller’s Grains||0.32||8%|
To do The Croissant Diet, I would recommend using fats with a ratio of Long Chain Saturated Fats to Unsaturated fats of 0.73 or higher. Most European pigs would have been finished on barley and therefore their fat would have been relatively low in PUFA compared to American pork. Low PUFA lard would have been the highest PUFA staple fat of the traditional French diet. But the majority of the fat (two thirds) should come from something as saturated as butter fat, as it would have been in all traditional dairying cultures (France, the US, Asia).
Why do I recommend butter as the basis of the diet and not something even more saturated than that, such as cocoa butter, wild elk backfat or Cocoa Butter? The obvious reason is that butter is what you make croissants out of! But more importantly, butter has a lot of advantages as a dietary staple over the others. Butter provides a lot of fat soluble vitamins. It is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin K2. It is a decent source of vitamin E and is a source of vitamin D. The other fats high on the list have very little of these. Also, butter tastes better, but here’s the thing about that: the characteristic flavor of butter is provided by butyrate, a saturated fat that is only 4 carbons long. In addition to tasting good, butyrate is known to be beneficial to your intestinal flora. None of the other fats are a significant source of butyrate. Lastly, I live in dairy country (obviously some of you reading this won’t be from dairy country) and from my perspective I’d prefer to use a local fat rather than one imported from the tropics.
Coconut oil is an interesting topic in and of itself. It’s the most highly saturated of all of the fats but it’s mostly made of medium chain length fats. Some of these fats, in particular the 8 carbon length ones, are metabolized differently and its a little unclear to me how that would effect the croissant diet. My guess is it would work fine. Coconut oil is also VERY low in stearic acid – only 2.5%. There is a lot of literature out there suggested that stearic acid in particular is beneficial compared to other saturated fats. Do I believe that literature? Not really, but I can say the stearic acid worked well for me.
If you want to try the croissant diet with a vegan fat source I’d recommend cocoa butter. It’s VERY high in stearic acid – 33% – and has some vitamin E (less than butter) and little bit of vitamin K1. Also, it’ll give your croissants a little chocolately flavor. Also, chocolate croissants are definitely a thing in France, so historically you’re not way off. Cocoa butter is MUCH harder than butter. Why is this? Butter contains a significant amount of short chain saturated fats. These fats have lower melting points and bring down the overall melting point of the blend. Of course, you could probably melt down the cocoa butter and whisk in MCT oil to achieve a buttery texture in the same way that I did with the stearic acid enhanced butter oil.
Bacon Without the Corn Oil!
Firebrand Meats Low-PUFA Pork CSA
Almost all american pork – conventional, organic, pastured or otherwise, is high in polyunsaturated fats. Firebrand Meats is the first American meat company specializing in making low-PUFA pork. It is a subscription based service that is shipping to all 48 continental states. It’s based on a CSA (community supported agriculture) model, which means we need a bunch of folks to sign up to get production started.
Foods To Avoid
- Commercial Salad Dressing
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Avocados and Olives. Did you ever notice that many olives in the US are packed in other vegetable oils? It’s SO misleading.
- All Vegetable Oils – Soybean, Corn, Canola, Safflower, Sunflower, Hemp, Flax, etc.
- Sauces like ranch dip for crudities that are served at every work lunch and social get together. Also blue cheese dressing at restaurants.
- Anything Fried or sauteed in a restaurant
- Oily seeds like edamame or peanuts.
- Peanut butter and nut butters.
- Whole grains. I understand that this flies in the face of conventional wisdom and I’ll get pushback on it. But the fact is the French eat white flour and Chinese and Indian peasants eat white rice. It’s a lot of trouble to convert the whole grains into the purified products. They do this for a reason: removing the bran and germ removes the polyunsaturated fats and lectins from the grains.
- Low fat dairy. It raises insulin levels and I don’t really see the purpose.
- Plant based meats. These are inevitably high in vegetable oil.
- Bacon, (I’m sorry!) lard and pork fat unless you know it was finished on a low fat grain like barley, wheat or peas without using any full fat protein sources such as soybeans. Old fashioned heritage breed hogs have firmer fat but diet trumps everything. If the pig is well finished, the rendered lard or bacon fat will be a firm solid at room temperature. You’ll be able to make a depression in it with your finger but it’ll require some pressure.
- Chicken fat, which also means skin-on chicken and chicken wings, especially deep fried ones from a restaurant. But even more especially the veggie oil based “blue cheese” they’re served with.
- Most commercially produced pastries/cookies/crackers. They always seem to find a way to slip some veggie oil in there. Sometimes it’s a small enough amount that you can live with it if the cracker is to be used as a vessel for cheese. If you can find a pure butter croissant from a local baker, you are ahead of the game.
- Artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners raise insulin levels about as much as sugar does, and the traditional French wouldn’t eat them. If you REALLY need something sweet, why not just use a little regular sugar? Don’t overdo it, of course.
What To Eat
- Butter, Ghee, Stearic acid enhanced butter oil, Beef Tallow, Cocoa butter, heavy cream. These are the top choices of fat. Ghee or the stearic butter oil are good choices if you want butter but have issues with dairy protein. Cocoa butter is a good choice for vegans.
- Full fat dairy. Sour cream, Full fat yogurt, full fat cheeses, triple creme.
- Purified starches like white flour, white rice, masa flour or pasta. Starches do a marvelous job of absorbing saturated fats.
- Popcorn. Popcorn can absorb a ton of butter! Of course you have to pop it yourself on the stove with butter or stearic acid enhanced butter oil.
- Peeled potatoes. All of the old school cookbooks I’ve ever read said to peel them first. I trust the ancient wisdom.
- Eggs, especially egg yolks. Egg yolks are amongst the world’s most nutritious foods and a great source of choline, which helps transport fat out of the liver, which is probably important on a high fat diet that allows alcohol and sugar.
- Ruminant meat. Beef, goat and lamb. Interestingly, the bugs that live in the rumen actually hydrogenate (saturate) the oils fed to ruminants. So even if the farmer feeds the cow corn oil, the cow turns it into stearic acid. Neat trick, huh? So ruminants are NOT what you feed them. Red meats are very high in minerals, B vitamins, especially B12, and choline.
- Lean Meats like chicken breast or sliced ham. I spent a decade as a whole animal butcher so it pains me to say this but if you can’t find low PUFA chicken, and you probably can’t, you’ll have to use lean, skinless pork and chicken cuts. Lean meats are also high in minerals, B-vitamins and choline.
- Vegetables sauteed in butter. Vegetables are a good source of fat soluble vitamins like beta-carotene and K1. But its hard to absorb those nutrients. When you saute the vegetables in butter, many of those vitamins end up in the butter oil, where they become close to 100% available. Feel free to serve them in a cream or cheese sauce. Vegetables are good sources of vitamin C and E, some B vitamins and some minerals.
- Organ meats. The french love Pate. Liver is incredibly nutrient dense, and it’s even higher in choline than egg yolks. Also folate and minerals. Eat your liver.
- Seafood. The French love seafood. Seafood is nutrient dense, especially in minerals and vitamin D.
- Pickled herrings in cream sauce. I just put this on the list because its my favorite. In truth herring is loaded with highly unsaturated Omega 3 fat (PUFA). But the standard american diet is very low in them and these fats are important for brain health so the herring can stay.
- Bone broth and headcheese. Your antioxidant system relies on the amino acid glycine to produce glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Glycine is highest and most available in connective tissues and therefore gelatin. These are the best sources of usable glycine if you can’t find pork rinds or chicken skin with a good fat ratio.
- Dark Chocolate. For an occasional treat. The French would give themselves a treat. Chocolate is high in magnesium and zinc, although also high in phytic acid, so the absorption of the minerals is in question.
- Zero sugar alcohols like dry wine or whiskey. Sugar free alcohol barely generates an insulin response and it produces ROS and so helps to knock out insulin signalling. Alcohol consumption leads to high levels of free fatty acids – a sign that your mitochondria are in fat burning mode. I want to reiterate that I’m not encouraging anyone to increase their alcohol consumption but if it’s already part of your routine, you can keep it.
Gray Area Foods
- Fruit and fruit juice. I love fruit. But fruit is high in sugar and they drive up insulin production. They have a few vitamins and minerals but nothing you can’t find somewhere else. But the French eat fruit, often preserved with extra sugar, like on a fruit tart. A little fruit probably won’t hurt you.
- Added sugar. This diet is patterned after the French diet of 1970. The average French person at almost 100 grams of sugar per day in 1970. Sugar brings zero nutrients. I don’t love dietary sugar as a healthy choice, but the French got away with it. If you fix the fat ratios in your diet you might be able to get away with a little sugar, too.
- Maple syrup. This is kind of the same argument as added sugar except maple syrup provides a ton of manganese and a decent amount of zinc. Superoxide Dismutase uses manganese and zinc as part of your antioxidant defense!
- Honey. Honey has some interesting health benefits, too.
- Processed foods made with gelatin such as Jello or gummy bears. I can hear your eyes rolling but hear me out. Gelatin is the single best source of glycine. Glycine is typically the limiting factor in producing glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Are bone broth and headcheese healthier sources of gelatin? Absolutely! But gummy candies are very popular in France, so they make sense in The Croissant Diet. In fact, Haribo gummy bears are made in France. Some of them, anyway. Of course, when you buy gummy bears check the ingredients to make sure they’re made of gelatin and not pectin. Of course you could also make an aspic if that’s what you’re into.
- Ice cream. Full fat dairy plus sugar. I mean, sometimes you just need ice cream, amiright? Do you see the trend here? It’s ok to cheat a little as long as you don’t mess up the fat ratios!
- Pizza. This one is controversial. Yes, pizzerias use a little veg oil in the dough. But it’s not that much and the saturated fat from the cheese and pepperoni hopefully balance it out. I put pizza here on the list because it’s convenient and cheap. If you’re away from home and you’re hungry, well, a slice of pizza to tide you over now and again won’t destroy the fat ratios.
- Cheeseburgers. This is another convenient food that is easy to find (in America, anyway). It’s actually a fine croissant diet food, but you have to be careful if you buy a cheeseburger out of the house because restaurants love to put mayo, house sauces that are inevitably made of veg oil, mushrooms sauteed in veg oil, onion rings fried in veg oil, etc on the cheeseburgers.
- Beer, sweet wine, or mixed drinks with sugar. The same points about alcohol generating ROS are true but these beverages will drive insulin production. Since insulin signalling will be shut down in our fat cells maybe we don’t care, though.
How to Start the Diet and Monitor Progress
Like I say, I’ve only done this once to date. I would say to start by simply changing the fat ratios in your diet and increasing your fat consumption up to 50-70% of calories. Of course the diet worked in mice getting only 40% of their calories from fat so maybe upping fat consumption isn’t even necessary.
The best way to know if the diet is working is to monitor your waistline! I did lose weight on the croissant diet but that was nothing compared to how my waistline changed. I have a friend who tried it and didn’t lose a pound but dropped a pant size in two weeks. I think I gained muscle, which made my weight loss less dramatic than my waist line reduction. This is consistent with what is seen in rodent trials with a high stearic acid diet – the mice fed the stearic acid have higher lean mass.
Get a good waist tape measure and measure your waist before you begin and see if you have any change after a week or a month. Of course you can also monitor your waistline by seeing if you can fit into tight pants or moving to the next hole on your belt. If your waistline isn’t changing, you can consider adding intermittent fasting to your routine.
Thoughts About Calories and Intermittent Fasting
I think what I would say if you attempt the croissant diet is to eat only when you are hungry. I noticed after eating a croissant sandwich that I would immediately feel VERY satiated. Then I would have a twinge of hunger at the 2-3 hour mark. If you look at what happened in the Spanish study, you can see why this is. After a butter and starch meal, blood glucose rises and free fatty acids drop. Energy availability to your cells is pretty much determined by the combination of blood glucose and free fatty acids. The elevated blood glucose will return to normal by 2-3 hours after a meal. At this point free fatty acids will not yet have rebounded to pre-meal levels. Energy availability is now slightly LOWER than before the meal! But if, and ONLY if, the fat from the meal is mostly saturated and you can get past the 3 hour point, free fatty acids will soon rise to the pre-meal levels and hunger will disappear.
Once your free fatty acids rise above pre-meal level, they will remain elevated for at least another 5 hours, or at least they did in the study and my experience reflected that. Once I made it through the initial hunger pangs, I wasn’t hungry again for a good long while. I found myself alternating between two meal days and one meal days. On day one I would eat a breakfast sandwich – a toasted, buttered stearic-acid-butter croissant with egg, cheese and sausage around 10 am. I’d feel a little hunger pang around 1 pm. It was august and there were a lot of plums around, so maybe I’d eat a plum, which would get my blood sugar back up with a minimal effect on insulin. After that I’d be fine until 7 pm. I’d eat another sandwich, perhaps a toasted stearic-acid-butter croissant with marinara, melted cheese and pepperoni. Sometimes I’d try to eat two but I usually couldn’t get through more than one and a half. On day two I wouldn’t be hungry in the morning so I wouldn’t eat. I’d typically have a “breakfast” croissant around 3pm. Those were the days that I would FORGET to have dinner, kind of literally, as in I’d wake the up the next day thinking, “What DID I have for dinner last night?!” But the next day I’d wake up hungry and have breakfast “early” again and the cycle would repeat.
I didn’t set out for The Croissant Diet to be an intermittent fasting (IF) diet, but that is sort of what it turned into. I’ve done a lot of IF in the past and I’m not much of a breakfast eater, so it felt natural to me. Obviously, once the stearic acid was able to release my stored fat, there were plenty of calories to go around!
Pulsing of The Diet
Another thing that is in favor in the keto world is pulsing the diet. Many diets work great the first month or two and gradually lose their effectiveness. I can imagine this being the case for The Croissant Diet because the mechanism of action is based on generating Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in the mitochondria. Your cells respond to increased ROS production by upregulating their production of antioxidant enzymes. For this reason I could see it losing its effectiveness after a couple of months.
The diet worked well for me for 60 days. Then my life was turned upside down and I stopped following it reliably. Thanksgiving is next week followed by Christams and New Years and I suspect I’ll gain some pounds back, but that will give me an opportunity to test another pulse of the strict Croissant diet in the new year!
Brad’s Easy Button Recipes
Luckily, recipes that fit the croissant diet are all over the internet! But first I’ll give you my basic recipes.
I’m going to start off with a basic recipe first, though. This is a generic recipe for how to make any grain have the same macro ratio as croissants. The idea is that a half stick of butter provides 400 calories. To get the macros right we need to add 45 grams of starch, which will provide 180 calories. The final meal will have 600 calories total with 66% coming from fat, 30% coming from starch and the remainder from protein. Make sense?
Since butter is partially water and protein, you only need about 3 Tbsp of stearic acid enhanced butter oil to be equivalent to 4 Tbsp (one half stick) of butter. Conveniently, all dried starches have about the same density and starch content. So you usually just need a half cup!
Making buttered starch is easy, satisfying and delicious!
- One half stick a butter (58 grams) OR 46 grams (3 Tbsp) of ghee or stearic acid enhanced butter oil
- One half cup (~60 grams) of dry, dense starch such as unpopped popcorn, white rice, white flour, elbow macaroni, hominy grits or masa flour
- Salt to taste.
Prepare the starch how you normally would and add the butter. That’s it! If I’m making buttered rice, I add the butter to the water in the beginning. Of course with popcorn I melt the butter in the pain then add the kernels. With pasta I boil it then add the butter.
I add salt to the boiling water of the pasta, I salt the popcorn at the end and with rice I usually add soy sauce at the end.
This recipe is the same concept as the starch except potatoes are mostly water so the ratio is way different. It produces a delicious, buttery mashed potato.
- One half stick a butter (58 grams) OR 46 grams (3 Tbsp) of ghee or stearic acid enhanced butter oil
- 2 cups (300 grams) of peeled, diced potatoes
Peel and dice potatoes until you have two cups. Boil until tender. Drain the water, cube the butter and add it to the pot. Once the butter is melted, mash the potatoes with a hand mixer, a ricer or just with a wooden spoon. It will be greasy at first, but as you work the mixture, it will form a creamy mass that will pull away from the sides of the pan or bowl. Salt to taste. A nice thing about these potatoes is that they don’t stick to the plate so cleanup is easy!
Creamy Salad Dressing
People associate salad with healthy eating except salad is always drizzled with some kind of liquid-at-room-temperature oil. Ain’t no way that’s gonna drive enough superoxide production at the mitochondrial bottleneck to shut down insulin signalling in your fat cells, youknowwhatimsaying?! This is my solution if you’re a person who must have salad. I like salad, it’s crunchy. I eat it sometimes.
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) Sour Cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- A commercial seasoning packet like taco seasoning or ranch dressing mix, OR the adobo sauce out of a can of chipotles en adobo OR crumbly blue cheese
- Salt (not necessary if using a seasoning packet)
- Your favorite vinegar (optional)
Directions: Whisk the heavy cream into the sour cream. If you prefer a thinner dressing, add more heavy cream, If you prefer a thicker dressing remove some of the heavy cream after you’ve whisked it together. That’s a joke. Really if you want a thicker dressing, add more sour cream.
Now add your seasonings. If you have taco or ranch seasoning just add that until the flavor is right. If you want to make blue cheese, add a bunch of the crumbly blue cheese and mash it all around with a fork to incorporate the blue cheese flavor, then add salt to taste. Same thing with adobo sauce except you don’t have to mash it, just mix it in. With any of these, if you want a tangier flavor just add a little of your favorite vinegar. Other seasoning ideas… Ceasar dressing: add finely diced capers, anchovy paste, fresh minced garlic and aged Asiago.
Can this dressing double as a dipping sauce for crudities or fried things?! Absolutely! Just make it a little thicker.
Recipes From Around The Web
Of course it’s easy to find recipes all over the web that follow the basic macro ratios of the Croissant Diet – here are a few of my favorites. Of course, for all of these recipes you can swap out some or all of the butter for stearic acid enhanced butter oil to kick fat burning into overdrive.
|Croissants||Sally’s Baking Addiction|
|I hope it’s clear why this recipe is relevant. Yes, I did spend two weeks of my life making and eating croissants. I got better at it over time. Croissants are great for holding all kinds of tasty and nutritious fillings like eggs, liverwurst and headcheese.|
|Choux Pastry||The Flavor Bender|
|This classic pastry is MUCH easier to make than croissants. People think about using them for cream puffs and eclairs but they’re actually delicious if you leave the sugar out of the recipes and stuff them with ham and cheese.|
|Biscuits||Mom On Time Out|
|Not QUITE as high in fat as croissants or choux pastry but you can change this by buttering them. Great for filling with sausage egg and cheese for breakfast. You have my permission to leave out the sugar.|
|Butter Pie Crust||Crazy For Crust|
|Great for making savory meat pies in addition to fruit pies.|
|Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Filling||The Whole Cook|
|Good recipe, swap out the olive oil with butter.|
|Mac and Cheese||Delish|
|Buttered Pasta||Taste Of Home|
|This buttered pasta dish is fancier than mine.|
|Tamales||Tastes Better From Scratch|
|Since its unlikely you’ll find low PUFA lard, I would use butter or the stearic acid enhanced butter oil instead of the lard. To whip a dense fat like butter you’ll want to heat it up first – in a microwave or water bath – until it is mostly solid but soft.|
|Pasta Alfredo||The Salty Marshmallow|
|New England Clam Chowder||Spend With Pennies|
If you’re looking at online recipes or buying prepared foods at a grocery store, what should you look for on a nutritional label?
It’s actually pretty simple. You want the carbohydrate and fat content to be similar. In a Croissant the ration of fat calories to carbohydrate calories is about two to one. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram and carbohydrate contains four, the recipe above would provide 44 calories as carbohydrate and 90 as fat. In addition you want half or more of the fat to be saturated. In this case 5 out of nine grams are saturated. Perfect. This nutrition info is from the butter pie crust recipe from Crazy For Crust listed above.
Looking For Volunteers
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53 thoughts on “The Croissant Diet Specification”
Absolutely fascinating! I’m in NZ, and just looked for a source of stearic acid. Since this would generally be purchased for non-food purposes, would you be happy consuming say this https://www.thesourcery.co.nz/shop/stearic-acid-1kg/ ?
Alternatively, what about a mix of pure tallow and butter? Tallow is higher in mufa than butter, but also higher in stearic acid.
Anyhow, I’ve been ketogenic carnivore since 2013, but do occasionally have periods where I add in some starch. Often toated sandwiches consisting of 2 slices white bread filled with 100gm cheese and 50gm ham cooked in about 50gm butter (about as much as the bread will absorb). I do this pretty much following your logic (long time reader of Peter’s blog), and I have to say, it is both tremendously satiating and satisfying. More so than straight carnivore to be honest.
Even with carnivore I ever so slowly put weight back on. Possibly from too much bacon, pork charcuterie, and eggs. The toasted sandwiches allow me to do omad spontaneously and drop weight. It is close to your croissant diet. I think you’re really on to something. I’d like to up my stearic acid content, and cut the pork, maybe add red wine, and see what happens…
Thanks for your excellent blog!
Thanks for the feedback! Yes, there is nothing more “Croissanty” than a ham and cheese sandwich where the bread is saturated with butter. That’s the whole idea.
As far as satiation. I think there’s something there. Of course it’s anecdotal but I also feel more satisfied if I’ve had some starch in a meal. Somehow, eggs, bacon and toast is just infinitely more satisfying than eggs and bacon.
Bacon is a tough one, pigs are what they eat. Lots of bacon is very high in PUFA. I’m writing from an American perspective. We’re the only country dumb enough to turn 30% of our corn crop into ethanol and so our pork is getting worse, not better, in terms of PUFA content. I’m thinking about a low-PUFA pork project but I doubt I’ll be shipping to NZ soon!
In terms of stearic acid sourcing, most manufacturers are held to global standards of GMP, probably any source is fine. Some “Stearic acid” is a 60/40 blend of stearic and palmitic and some is 90% stearic but I honestly don’t think the stearic:palmitic ratio matters.
I was looking for stearic acid on Amazon today after reading your intro to the croissant diet yesterday. Everything I could find was listed as being vegetable-derived (mainly coconut for obvious reasons). My issue with that is that the veg version will have K1 instead of K2. How would I find a source of animal-derived stearic? Are you using VD or AD stearic in your stearic-enhanced butter?
Also, you mentioned GMP in your last line there, is your stearic-enhanced butter going to be made in a suitable facility? I wouldn’t mind paying a bit extra for convenience but that’s kind of a key point.
Where do you get your stearic acid from out of curiosity? I’ve seen the same scientific studies you have and went looking for stearic acid myself. I kept finding no sources of high purity stearic acid available to consumers though. I didn’t feel comfortable using them though out of fear the palmitic acid would do more harm than the stearic acid would help. If I were to buy some low purity stearic acid, I’d at least like to know if it’s as pure as or more pure than your stearic acid is. I’m hoping to lose a lot of visceral fat like you did.
Check back in, we’ll be offering 1 lb bags of 90% stearic in the next couple weeks. I don’t think it’s available at the moment in less than a pallet load.
Brad, what is your take on ducks and duck fat, and what about roux? I’ve been using ghee and white flour mostly to avoid burnt milk solids from regular butter. There is likely a NOLA cuisine that can fit in here I think. Regards, and thanks for your efforts. I love Peter and Nick Lane but mostly I love to cook .bob
Duck fat is going to very similar to chicken fat. Relatively little SFA, relatively high MUFA and the PUFA is dependent on diet. Most American ducks are going to be in the 20-30% PUFA range, comparable to canola oil but with a much worse Omega 6/3 ratio.
The NOLA cuisine is an interesting suggestion.
In France, the composition of duck fat is ‘typically’ 33.49.13 SF.MUFA.PUFA.
BTW are u I Twitter?
I”m trying to prep myself to try this. Should I aim for min. daily protein intake and then fill out the rest of my day with the 50-50 fat-carb (grams) mix? At the beginning I would focus on getting my fats from GF butter & tallow until I can get and use stearic acid (I ordered some from you a well). Still trying to figure out the best startches to use for me until I start baking.
As long as there is sufficient lysine, adult hogs seem to do fine on a diet of 12%. (I’m a pig farmer.) Pigs and humans are similar sized monogastric omnivores so that seems like a reasonable minimum protein starting point. If your getting most of your protein from meat, eggs, dairy, you should get plenty of lysine.
I am super interested in this whole feed. Spent most of my day reading it. Quick question on two maybe opposing ideas you stated in another article (can’t comment on it)
“If you are eating a lot of highly saturated fat, you will convert a lot of it to unsaturated fat for storage.”
“If the stored fat is too unsaturated, physiological insulin resistance will not be achieved and the tendency will be for the fat cells to continue to listen to insulin and continue storing fat even though fat is plentiful.”
Doesn’t this indicate we shouldn’t be eating highly saturated fats such as stearic acid if they could then be stored as unsaturated fats that could cause stubborn fat in the future?
Not a scientist so just looking for clarification!
I’m not sure which post that quote is from. Off the top of my head, I was either:
1) talking about the effects of SCD1, which unsaturates saturated fat OR
2) it’s a typo and I meant to say “eating a lot of UNsaturated fat”.
Like others here your project has filled me with great excitement and I have been reading your posts for the past couple of days. This may be what I have been looking for, as a recovering paleo / keto / IF person. I say “recovering” in the sense that I have finally figured out that they do not hold all the answers for me. I cut a similar profile to your fish pic (nice fish, BTW) but with skinny (but muscular) arms and legs. All my fat is belly and it ain’t my friend. Anyway, I’m in. My plan is to try and replace my beloved olive oil (my wife is Greek) largely with butter and try to include the starch as often as I can, and go from there. I’m a beer drinker and plan to keep it but keep it mellow. Today it’s potatoes and eggs cooked in tallow over asparagus spears. Will eat when hungry but am guessing that’ll be twice a day. I’m coming from OMAD. It seems for me that any new effort (Whole30, paleo, keto, OMAD) helps me quickly lose 10 lbs (from 190 down to 180) and no more than an inch off the gut, and then it all stops and I feel rather weak and cold and unhappy. I will keep you posted on progress and I DO have before pics. Oh, and I’ve been to France and know what miracles they create in the kitchen. I mean… a platter of cheese for dessert? COME ON!
I’d love to hear updates!
What to use for cooking spray? I mean, besides PAM. 🙂
I’m very curious about this and going to try it. If it worked for me that would be amazing. Fingers crossed! If it works I’ll definitely be sharing my results on Reddit.
Good luck! Let us know.
Would it be correct to assume that meat pies with high fat in the dough and maybe even organ meats as filling would align with your approach?
Any thoughts on oatmeal? Is is too whole grain?
I’m not violently opposed to whole grains. There are some in the community who don’t like oats but I don’t have a problem with it if it works for you.
I got to 90% of my goals with low carb but never really went down the high fat route, lots of eggs and meat though combined with IF. excited to give this a try as I have hit a long term plateau and cant loose the last 2 inches on my waist even with a year of weight training under my belt now.
short term I will keep an eye on my glucose, (I am the person on twitter that mentioned that a GCM would be a great measuring tool).
is protein powder ok? in general is it just a case of watching out for the types of fats attached when it comes to meats etc?
I’ve never tried a protein powder. It doesn’t seem like food to me. I get that people could make the same argument about stearic acid. Haha! I have no advice about protein powder but I LOVE the idea of a CGM and thank you for suggesting it! Good luck! Let us know what happens.
Thanks for your amazing work! I made a weird biscuit of cacao butter, stearic acid, butter, eggs and gluten flour. Kinda gross, kinda satisfying. Is the carbs really necessary? These raised my blood sugar considerably (I’m insulin resistant). Could I just put cacao in my coffee? Does the carbs make it work or the super high sat fat?
The purpose of the carbs for me was 1) to show that the diet was working for a reason other than ketosis, 2) as a vessel to consume lots of SatFat/stearic acid. I’ve gotten a lot of reports that the carbs and SatFat are helping people keep satiated. I find it likely that the carbs are not necessary, however.
Thanks for this site and all your research. I’m intrigued and hoping to give this a try after the holidays.
Quick question re: olive oil: When I was in Italy, most meals contained large amounts of olive oil and bread. And Italians don’t seem to struggle with obesity. How do Mediterranean diets heavy in olives and olive oil and bread fit into your larger scheme? (Just to be clear, I’m not challenging your theory; I’m genuinely curious about your thoughts.)
Looking forward to the continuing discussion.
It looks to me like the body is trying to achieve a balance of stored fats at around 50:50 saturated to unsaturated. For instance, the enzyme SCD1, which turns saturated fat into MUFA, is downregulated by dietary MUFA and upregulated by dietary SatFat. SO either way, your metabolism is trying to wind up in the center and in an italian eating olive oil, you’ll have less SCD1, so that any calories made from De Novo Lipogensis from sources such as starch or alcohol will wind up more saturated. As opposed to a butter eater whose DNL fats will be more unsaturated.
Of course, introducing PUFA into this system breaks the whole thing.
I think a lot of people are reading your comments about SCD1 turning saturated fats into unsaturated fats, and confusing “unsaturated fats“ with “polyunsaturated fats“. The body cannot create polyunsaturated fats, correct? So the SCD is turning saturated fats into MUFA.
Are beans allowed on the diet? I know the french use them in soups and cassoulets. Trying this January!
Yes, the French love their cassoulet! Beans can be hard on digestion but I have no problem with them otheriwse.
My girlfriend is sensitive to gluten, and while I suspect using high amounts of saturated fat would diminish or prevent any symptoms from occurring she doesn’t want to take the chance right away. How does Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour fit in to this diet? The ingredients are: garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, whole grain sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. The label lists 25g of carbs and 0.5g of total fat per serving.
With all of those bean flours, I would worry about digestive upset personally, but I’m certainly no expert on GF flours. Others have reported good results using a GF pancake mix fried in butter/suet/stearic acid/etc.
Thank you for your reply. What about tapioca flour/starch on its own? I came across these delicious snacks, which are a bit high in sugar but check out on the saturated fat ratio. I don’t know how tapioca fits in with the diet though.
Don’t know much about it, but it’s probably ok.
I found a GF croissant recipe that looks really good on a blog called “Gluten Free on a Shoestring”, but haven’t tried it yet. She has some extensive notes on GF flour blends on the top right corner of her blog.
what would be a good starting ratio blend for butter ghee and cacao butter ?
I think you could do pretty well at 50:50 ghee:butter.
How to use stearic acid enhanced butter oil to replace butter in a croissant recipe? Thanks!
It’s not that easy and I wish I was a better baker! Mixing it with some flour in a stand mixer until it is workable is very helpful. I’m hoping to get a recipe up soonish.
I’m curious about the protein requirement. I tend to eat protein-forward, so it’s always in my thinking (old habit I’m happy to break). Should I assume that I’m getting enough protein by eating what you tell me to eat? For instance, I don’t see any discussion about adding protein to white rice and butter. Thx!
I’m not telling you to eat anything, you should eat what you’re comfortable with. But of course you should get more protein than what there is in rice. If you add some beef or eggs you’ll have plenty. Remember, mother’s milk is only 8% protein, so you don’t need THAT much protein.
Brad, will you be shipping your product to Canada in Feb 2020?
I’ll be looking into it!
Fascinated by this and going go try it myself. Funny that you immediately thought croissant and I immediately thought tamales! Too bad both are very labor intense. I am thinking true french bread covered in butter. Wouldn’t that work?
Haha! You’re not the first one to think of tamales. I actually love cooking Mexican food and that my third or fourth thought. But check out this, it’s my favorite Croissant Diet tutorial of all time:
Hi, I am here thanks to Mark’s DA. Now – the study I found ( https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0104083) mentions serious bone mineral density loss. Seems like ‘le croissant’ diet does not include too much micronutrient-rich foods in comparison to keto promoted by Mark ( a lot of leafy green veg etc). Could it be the bone density loss can be somewhat ammeliorated by adding more greens, mineral supplements, bone broth etc? Mice in the study were only fed fat alone albeit could be malnourished in other departments. Dr Kwasniewski’s optimal diet included loads of cabbage and fermented foods ( low GI) as well. The bottom like is – rapid fat loss is very tempting but may come at a cost. Have you looked into this at all? thanks
Yes! You’re not the first one to have noticed. The mice in the study were fed a highly artificial diet. I recommend combining the stearic acid with butteroil which is high in vitamin k2 and therefore should preserve bone density! I also recommend calcium rich foods like cheese and yogurt and nutrient dense foods like liver and leafy greens.
Do you think that chicken/pork (including bacon) from places like Butcher Box are higher in the ratio of fats you would prefer vs. conventionally raised?
Unfortunately, I doubt it. I run in a circle with animal nutritionists. There is an absolute group think mentality, organic or otherwise. You HAVE TO feed soybean oil to chickens or they’ll get to market a day or two slower. I don’t agree. But there it is.
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