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tamarian Tue, Oct-23-01 16:55

Dr. Mackarness's Stone-Age Diet
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Just published. Please feel free to add comments, corrections and questions here.

Andy Davies Wed, Oct-24-01 19:07

Under "Unique features" we should add that Mackarness is the only (as far as I know) Doctor to include fasting as an active part of low-carbing. Also, could we please note similarity to Donaldson and the Neanderthin diet, in terms of reference sources (with obvious impact on focus) especially Stefansson.

SilverEm Wed, Oct-20-10 11:16

Here is the entire book, first English edition, online:


The following preface wasn't put online at the above link to Dr. Richard MacKarness' Eat Fat and Grow Slim, as the online edition is from an earlier English edition. The preface is in the 1959, Doubleday and Company, New York edition. I have left the punctuation and use of italics as in the book. I put line spaces between paragraphs, rather than indenting the paragraphs.

"The Preface" to Eat Fat and Grow Slim, written by Evelyn Stefansson, April 22, 1959:

One morning at breakfast, the autumn of 1955, my explorer-anthropologist husband, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, asked me if he might return to the Stone Age Eskimo sort of all-meat diet he had thrived on during the most active part of his arctic work. Two years before, he had suffered a mild cerebral thrombosis, from which he had practically recovered. But he had not yet succeeded in losing the ten pounds of overweight his doctor wanted him to be rid of. By will power and near starvation, he had now and then lost a few of them; but the pounds always came back when his will power broke down. Doubtless partly through these failures, Stef had brown a bit unhappy, at times grouchy.

My first reaction to his Stone Age diet proposal was dismay. I have three jobs. I lecture, in and out of town, and enjoy the innumerable extracurricular activities of our New England college town of Hanover, New Hampshire. Forenoons I write books about the arctic, "for teen-agers and uninformed adults," to be able to afford the luxury of being librarian afternoons of the large polar library my husband and I acquired when we were free-lance writers and government contractors, which library now belongs to Dartmouth College. I take part in a course called the Arctic Seminar, and last winter was director. I sing in madrigal groups and act in experimental theater plays. Only by a miserly budgeting of time do I manage these things. "In addition," I thought to myself, "I am now supposed to prepare two menus!"

But aloud I said: "Of course, dear." And we began to plan.

To my astonished delight, contrary to all my previous thinking, the Stone Age diet not only proved effective in getting rid of Stef's overweight, but was also cheaper, simpler, and easier to prepare than our regular mixed diet had been. Far from requiring more time, it took less. Instead of adding housekeeping burdens, it relieved them. Almost imperceptibly Stef's diet became my diet. Time was saved in not shopping for, not preparing, not cooking, and not washing up after unrequired dishes, among them vegetables, salads, and desserts.

Some of our friends say: "We would go on a meat diet too, but we couldn't possibly afford it." That started me investigating the actual cost of the diet. Unlike salads and desserts, which often do not keep, meat is as good several days later as the day it was cooked. There is no waste. I found our food bills were lower than they had been. But I attribute this to our fondness for mutton. Fortunately for us it is an unfashionable meat, which means it is cheap. We both like it, and thanks to our deep freeze, we buy fat old sheep at anything from twenty-two to thirty-three cents a pound and proceed to live on the fat of the land. We also buy beef, usually beef marrow. European cooks appreciate marrow, but most people in our country have never even tasted it, poor things.

When you eat as a primitive Eskimo does, you live on lean and fat meats. A typical Stefansson dinner is a rare or medium sirloin steak and coffee. The coffee is freshly ground. If there is enough fat on the steak we take our coffee black, otherwise heavy cream is added. Sometimes we have a bottle of wine. We have no bread, no starchy vegetables, no desserts. Rather often we eat half a grapefruit. We eat eggs for breakfast, two for Stef, one for me, with lots of butter.

Startling improvements in health came to Stef after several weeks on the new diet. He began to lose his overweight almost at once, and lost steadily, eating as much as he pleased and feeling satisfied the while. He lost seventeen pounds, then his weight remained stationary, although the amount he ate was the same. From being slightly irritable and depressed, he became once more his old ebullient, optimistic self. By eating mutton he became a lamb.

An unlooked-for and remarkable change was the disappearance of his arthritis, which had troubled him for years and which he thought of as a natural result of aging. One of his knees was so stiff he walked up and down stairs a step at a time, and he always sat on the aisle in a theater so he could extend his stiff leg comfortably.

Several times a night he would be awakened by pain in his hips and shoulder when he lay too long on one side; then he had to turn over and lie on the other side. Without noticing the change at first, Stef was one day startled to find himself walking up and down stairs, using both legs equally. He stopped in the middle of our stairs; then walked down again and up again. He could not remember which knee had been stiff!

Conclusion: The Stone Age all-meat diet is wholesome. It is an eat-all-you-want reducing diet that permits you to forget you are dieting--no hunger pangs remind you. It saves time and money. Best of all, it improves the temperament. It somehow makes one feel optimistic, mildly euphoric.

Epilogue: Stef used to love his role of being a thorn in the flesh of nutritionists. But in 1957 an article appeared in the august journal of the American Medical Association confirming what Stef had known for years from his anthropology and his own experience. The author of this book has also popularized Stef's diet in England, with the blessing of staid British medical folk.

Was it with the faintest trace of disappointment in his voice that Stef turned to me, after a strenuous nutrition discussion, and said: "I have always been right. But now I am becoming orthodox! I shall have to find myself a new heresy."

April 22, 1959. Evelyn Stefansson

Hope this information helps a bit. I find this book most useful, even though some of the scientific theory of biochemistry has since been further researched.


ETA: According to this short biography, Mr. and Mrs. Stefansson started this meat diet in 1955. There is no footnote for this information, and thus, I am unable to verify the statement. Mr. Stefansson, (November 3, 1879 – August 26, 1962), seems to have kept the meat diet from 1955 to, at least, 1959, when Mrs. Stefansson wrote the preface.

In 1955 he adopted a "stone-age" diet—high-fat, low-carbohydrate, mostly meat—which he credited with helping him maintain fitness and health.


It would be most useful to be able to read reports later than Mrs. Stefansson's of 1959, as to how they fared, on the meat diet, from 1959 to his death in 1962, if they did, in fact, continue it. I have yet to find out if she kept the diet after he died. She died in 2009:

SilverEm Wed, Oct-20-10 13:19

When convenient, could a moderator please correct the title of Dr. MacKarness' book on this page? And also, his name?:

His name is MacKarness, rather than Mackarness.

The correct title of the book is, Eat Fat and Grow Slim.

Thanks very much. :)

SilverEm Thu, Jan-13-11 14:14

The link I posted to the short biography of Mr. Stefansson no longer works. Here is the new one:

SilverEm Fri, Jul-24-15 03:20

There is a short interview with Dr. Mackarness in this old newsreel at British Pathe, from July 1958. Here is the link.

Just Jo Fri, Jul-24-15 04:22

Originally Posted by SilverEm
There is a short interview with Dr. Mackarness in this old newsreel at British Pathe, from July 1958. Here is the link.
OMG that was so cool! What a wonderful blast from the past! Thanks for sharing that!

Hey it was pretty sexist huh, starts off with "Take heart, girls, you can reduce without starvation diet?"

And the girls training as models back then sure are "beefier" then what is society's ideal body shape nowadays! Seriously, they look healthy & slim!

I had no idea until you mentioned it to me, Em that LC or ZC was even discussed before Dr. A. But then, Dr. A is my generation eh?

Thanks again for all your wonderful information! Gonna copy and paste this to my journal and the Hard Core A '72 Thread!

SilverEm Fri, Jul-24-15 04:27

Hi, Jo. :) I'm glad you liked the interview with Dr. Mac. Yes, there were plenty of LC doctors before Dr. A. I'll post some things in my journal. :)

Just Jo Fri, Jul-24-15 05:34

Thanks Em, I'll go check out your journal! :D

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