Rick Rubin Did NOT Get Fat From Carbs

Rick Rubin was recently on the Joe Rogan podcast. He talked about how his health improved and he lost 130 pounds when he abandoned his vegan diet.

JOE: What about veganism got you that big?

RICK: It’s a carb only diet. It’s just carbs.

The vegans online were quick to point out that Rick ate a highly processed vegan diet. He wasn’t taking the whole foods approach. But that doesn’t refute his carb statement directly.

I can refute it because I recalled Rick’s interview with Tim Ferriss back in 2015. (transcript PDF)

…you know, almond butter was something that I
was allowed to eat, because in Phil’s world, almond butter is
healthy. So, I probably ate two thirds of a jar of almond butter every day.

Almond butter is a calorie-dense food that is almost pure fat. Not carbs. He never mentioned almond butter to Joe Rogan. How many calories were in a jar of almond butter when Rick was consuming all those jars?

I did a post in 2011 on the brand Costco sold. From the post, Someone Has Been Messing With My Almond Butter, a jar of almond butter had between 4,140 and 4,370 calories. Rick was consuming about 3,000 calories a day just from almond butter. Yet, carbs made him fat? Nope.

Almond butter is very easy to overconsume. I know from personal experience. In 2012, I performed a food reward test between almond butter vs almonds. I did 3 weeks on each and ate to satiety when snacking. Here was the calorie score:

Almond Butter: 4140 calories * 3 jars = 12,420 calories

Raw Almonds: 2576 calories * 3 pounds = 7,728 calories

When I swapped raw almonds in for almond butter, my calorie intake decreased and so did my weight. These days, I don’t even buy raw almonds. My diet has more carbs and I’m leaner than ever. When you eat a mostly plant-based whole foods diet, staying lean is effortless.


Add yours

  1. Carbs and fat are a deadly combination. All my favorite treats are carbs and fat: potato chips, pasta carbonara, ice cream…

    A year ago, you were battling insomnia. How’s that going now, Mas? I remember an old post of yours about sleep and fat loss. Something along the lines of: the leaner you are, the more sleep you need. But the leaner you are, the harder it is to get good sleep. Is that still an issue?

  2. @thezenhobbit – My sleep improved once I got rid of the Oura ring.

  3. Nice catch. I saw that interview excerpt and just assumed he was eating a lot of junk vegan food with oils and refined grains, but nut butters in those quantities are definitely calorie bombs.

    So that debunks one half of his story, that eating carbs made him fat. The other half of his story, that eating fat helped him lose weight, may come down to individual taste preference and palate. I think the DIETFITS study shows us that people can be categorized into groups based on individualized preference for dietary patterns which they find more easy to adopt sustainably, but any of them done properly results in the same health outcomes (at least with regard to weight in the shorter/mid-terms). I think some people just crave fat in their diet, and/or cannot stomach eating plants without fats, so that pretty much forces them towards some type of higher-fat diet. Within the constellation of high-fat diets, then, keto/paleo/carnivore diets would be restrictive enough to keep them in a caloric deficit while offering enough satisfaction with their meals to stick with it, they don’t have to white-knuckle it like they would have with eating a low-fat diet.

  4. From the Tim Ferriss transcript it sounds like Rubin lost the weight after going on a low calorie diet following his work with Phil Maffetone. That low calorie diet appears to have been mostly protein shakes. If that’s the case then he probably was getting the majority of his calories from fat – except it was his own body fat, not dietary fat.

    I agree with you completely that a whole food, largely plant based diet is great for staying lean, but it doesn’t sound like that was the path Rubin took on his weight loss journey. He does seem to have kept the weight off pretty well, though. Did he mention his current dietary practices on the Rogan podcast?

  5. @Geoff – Yes. Rubin mentioned he is low-carb nearly carnivore today.

    It seems like he certainly found a fat loss plan that worked for him.

    I just found it bizarre that Rubin blamed carbs and attacked the vegan diet when he already publicly confessed to Ferriss how much almond butter he was eating daily.

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