Sean Hyson

Fitness Distilled

July/August 2015

The Oil Crisis

posted on December 01, 2012
written by Sean Hyson

I came to a pretty important conclusion about my diet this week. I eat too much oil.

You see, I LOVE fat. Long before I knew anything about low-carb diets, Carb Back-loading, or the health benefits of eating fat, I always gravitated toward fatty foods. In fact, I think that’s a big reason why I’ve enjoyed diets like CBL and other low-carb approaches and why I’ve done well on them. That kind of eating just suits me.

Talk about “pouring it on”.oil


It’s not that I don’t like sweet foods. I very much do. In fact, giving up or at least really restricting fruit was very hard for me when going low carb. But given the choice between giving up sweet foods and fatty foods for an extended period, I’ve always leaned toward abandoning the sweet stuff.

It’s been so long since I’ve gone a week without cheese, beef, bacon, nuts, avocadoes, coconut oil… I can’t really remember and don’t much want to.

But it’s occurred to me lately that I’ve been overdoing it on fats. Especially when it comes to oils. I haven’t really considered just how much oil I take in for a long time, but I know it’s a lot.

It started years ago when I was painfully skinny. I read up on gaining mass and one of the frequently-given recommendations was to add olive oil to protein shakes. Another was to eat nuts throughout the day (ask my co-workers about Sean’s famous “nutsack”—it’s the talk of the office). Some powerlifters were even talking about adding ice cream to shakes! Anything to boost calories, and the more convenient and quick they were to eat and the less they filled you up, the more weight you could gain without hardly thinking about it.

Of course, like most desperately skinny (and perhaps dim-witted) young wannabe meatheads, I took this as a license to eat everything. And short of a full stick of butter, I did. I got in the habit of pouring fat on wherever I could. I even followed one of powerlifter Dave Tate’s old tricks—dipping slices of pizza into olive oil.

Why didn’t somebody stop me??

Of course, as I got older and my metabolism slowed down a bit, I got fatter. If you’ve read about my 2010 transformation on this site, you know how I cleaned up my diet and reduced fat and calories. But after that was over, I increased my fat intake again. Not to the insane level it had been at, but more than most people eat. I can’t really estimate how much fat I’ve averaged in my diet over the years, but it’s been high. For breakfast, I’d cook whole eggs in several tablespoons of coconut oil. My salads always had some kind of dressing. I marinated chicken breasts in olive oil and sautéed various fish and ground meats in other oils. I made tuna salads using imitation mayo that was loaded with safflower or grapeseed oil. On top of beef, nuts, avocadoes, and other fats—especially the ones you don’t know about that are in nearly all the foods you eat at restaurants—this was the vast majority of my caloric intake.

The problem with this, as I see it, is not the detrimental affect that fat is supposed to have on heart health. I will never become one of these fat-phobic people who cling to processed carbs in the fear that eating a steak instead might give them a heart attack. The last time my cholesterol was checked, it was barely over 100.

The problem is calorie control and an unfavorable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

Johnny Cash left the grease where it belonged. In his

While I’ve still got some abs (and don’t really desire to be much leaner), I have to believe I’m carrying a little extra pudge due to all that fat intake. I don’t eat many carbs and then they’re only around workouts, so the excess isn’t coming there. It’s been said, and I’ve advocated for it, that when your carbs are down, your fat can be almost unlimited. The key word being ALMOST, not “go ahead and bath in oil, you freak.”

Of greater concern to me is the inflammatory effect of having that much refined oil in my food. I didn’t abuse vegetable oils like most of the American population, but after reading some of Nate Miyaki’s work, I see I’m taking in more than I should.

Miyaki is a nutritionist, former bodybuilder, and trainer in San Francisco. His thinking is similar to Kiefer and Jason Ferruggia’s—so I know he’s on to something—but he believes in a bit of a more disciplined approach (he likes to count stuff). He’s into Paleo and intermittent fasting, but not to the extent that I could sum up his philosophy with those terms. In short, it’s almost as if Miyaki isn’t interested in making any money in this industry at all. He just puts out the truth, as best he can interpret it, without any branded spin. Imagine that.

He doesn’t like sesame seed or grapeseed oil, and I’ve been using both for years. The former has 137 omega-6’s to every 1 omega-3, and the latter has a ratio of 696:1. That sounds hard to make up with just a tablespoon or two of fish oil every day and four ounces of salmon a couple times a week.

This could be causing a decrease in insulin sensitivity, poor recovery, and setting me up for autoimmune diseases and overall inflammation.

But to be honest, I stand by what I’ve done. I like the low-carb approach and always will. I’m sure I’ll even go back to it. But for right now, I want to take on a new experiment, up the carbs, and enjoy more fruit.

I’m not sure how much of a challenge this is going to be for a fat-phile like me. Drying out from oils is just the first obvious step. But cutting back on nuts and fatty meats just to keep my overall consumption down will be harder. In their place, I’m going to eat more carbs (potatoes, mainly) at night. I’ll have to change the way I cook. I’ll be doing more sautees in water, broth, and soy sauce going forward. More baking. More steaming. More poaching.

Nate Miyaki. Does it look like he might know something about getting lean? And dating??miyaki


While I’m not “dieting”, I’ll be interested to see how this affects my body comp. Also, my energy, recovery, and muscularity/strength. It’s kind of the final frontier for me. I’ve experimented with so many dietary approaches EXCEPT moderate carb/lower fat, or at least it’s been so long, I’m anxious to see what happens.

Have you tried it? What was your take?


  1. Gravatar

    01 Dec, 2012


    Lower fat, as in how many grams?

  2. Gravatar

    01 Dec, 2012


    According to Kiefer, sautéing meat in soy sauce inhibits protein absorption quite a lot (like over 50%)

  3. Gravatar

    01 Dec, 2012

    Sol Orwell

    Just wanted to say Nate is awesome - no secret sauce, just simple guidelines to follow.

  4. Gravatar

    02 Dec, 2012

    Nate Miyaki

    Thanks for the "shout out" in your article Sean.

    Ben, soy beans like other beans contain compounds that inhibit protein and mineral absorption, and in addition have phytoestrogenic compounds. However the fermentation process -- as in soy sauce -- completely changes the molecular structure, and as far as I know, does not have the same negative effects.

  5. Gravatar

    02 Dec, 2012

    Nate Miyaki

    Thanks for the support Sol. Really appreciate it brother.

  6. Gravatar

    02 Dec, 2012

    Nate Miyaki

    And Sean, other than our passion for the fitness game, we have another thing in common -- my nutsack is famous at work too -- technically its more my teabags, but regardless....

  7. Gravatar

    02 Dec, 2012


    Interesting you mention the inflammatory effect of a lot of oil in your diet, Sean.

    Kiefer likes 1:1 protein to fat ratio. As a vegetarian, I can't really follow his CBL protocol (he's very anti-veg, haha), but I tried to modify it somewhat. My fat sources were coconut oil, almond butter, avocados and a little bit of olive oil here and there (not much). After a while, I started breaking out real bad, my skin looked horrible.

    Nate.. what do you suggest a good protein to fat ratio would be?

    I'm not really sure what to do for omega 3 supplementation either. Flax seed oil is far from ideal, because it only contains ALA type and your body has to convert it to EPA and DHA.

  8. Gravatar

    03 Dec, 2012


    I agree with Sol's statement, Sean. You break down the complex details into a straight forward approach. You made sense of Kiefer's CBL in a way I doubt he ever could, for the layman instead of the scientists in the room. And your approach to health and fitness is straight forward and never comes off like you're trying to pitch products or programs at your readers. So, thanks!

  9. Gravatar

    03 Dec, 2012


    So how much fat is too much, Sean? I love my olive and coco oil and use them quite liberally. Good luck on your new experimenting!

  10. Gravatar

    03 Dec, 2012


    Pete I am a lacto ovo vegeterian and supplement with algae oil.
    This is where fish get there source of DHA.

    I was doing CBL for awhile but was adding some bodyfat so I recently switched to Jason Ferrugia's Renegade Diet which I think is a healthier approach.

  11. Gravatar

    04 Dec, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    Miyaki likes fat to be 20% to 25% of calories, so break it down from there.


    Thanks for answering. And your nutsack's reputation precedes you.


    Have you tried Udo's oil? I believe that is derived from non-fish sources.


    Thank you!


    No more than 25% of calories, according to Nate.

  12. Gravatar

    04 Dec, 2012


    Great article Sean. Like reading about myself. My problem are nuts and nut butters.
    One thing that I am confused about when you say "no more than 25%" is do you count non starchy veggies towards your calories? If not it's going to be pretty tough to get fat under 25% range, since I do eat tons of veggies.

  13. Gravatar

    04 Dec, 2012



    It's so awesome that you are actually experimenting to see how this will affect you. No matter wether Kiefer said it Miyaki or whoever, the proof comes when YOU PERSONALLY TRY IT and either see results or don't.

    Dave Asprey (of is big on a paleo diet with very high amounts of fat. Difference is, he only recommends grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocado, MCT oil, and of course animal fat from grass-fed sources.

    Not so much from nuts and definitely non from vegetable oils (or as little as possible from the likes of olive oil) because as you stated - TOO MUCH Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio.

  14. Gravatar

    05 Dec, 2012


    Thanks, Craig!

    There seems to be some controversy about algae oil and how useful it actually is for us. A ton of articles on the net.Some prefer echium oil.

    Sean... Udo's oil ingredients are rich in ALA. The conversion rate to EPA and DHA is very poor, from what I understand.

  15. Gravatar

    05 Dec, 2012



    What are you currently shooting for with your macro ratios? If you are going with 25% of your calories from fat, and you are trying to keep it somewhat low carb, are you going 25% carb as well?

  16. Gravatar

    09 Dec, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    Veggies are NEVER counted. Crunch away.


    Thank you, and I agree.


    Since it's the holidays and times are crazy, I'm not focusing on numbers beyond a gram of protein per pound of body weight. I eat a few fat-centric foods (like nuts and avocadoes), lots of protein and veg, and carbs after workouts. Miyaki lets you have however many grams of carbs you need to hit your calorie totals after protein and fat are accounted for. A 175-lb guy would eat around 200g of carbs.

  17. Gravatar

    15 Dec, 2012


    I just finished Nates book and want to try his diet, but wonder if he would recommend the same carb amounts for women? Wanted to add, I failed at Carb Nite. 4 months did not do much at all. A friend I was complaining too about lack of success asked if I had tried a lower fat, moderate carb diet, and have not yet. But the amount of carbs (unless it can be junky carbs) seems so high (I think I'd be closer to 180 g a night).

    I like Nates very simplistic writing. Everything made sense till I saw 3 cups of rice with a pound of meat!

  18. Gravatar

    23 Mar, 2013


    I like eggs and I know Jason Ferruggia does, too. Is it okay to have maybe 4-5 eggs once in a while for my first meal of the day (around noon under Nate Miyaki's model)? It's a little higher in fat, but if you cook it in a little coconut oil and grass-fed butter, it actually seems like it would be okay eaten away from the high-carb dinner feast.

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