Feedlots. Carbs. Fat.

What is a feedlot?

It's a feeding operation used in intensive animal farming for finishing livestock prior to sale or slaughter.

What is their function?

As the name suggests, to feed and fatten livestock for market. Cattle spend most of their life grazing range-land or immature grain fields. When cattle reach a weight of 650 to 700 pounds (300 kg), they are transferred to a feedlot.

An animal can gain an additional 400 pounds (180 kg) during its 200 days in the feedlot. An impressive 60% weight gain.

How do they achieve it?

By feeding livestock specialized animal feed, consisting of corn, corn by-products, barley, low-grade wheat, oats, surgham, soy, vitamins, minerals, antibiotics and roughage. A typical diet is 15-20% roughage, 70-80% grain, 5-10% supplements (minerals and vitamins), and 2-5% premix.

Feedlot diets are high in carbs and protein, to encourage growth of muscle and fat. Once cattle achieve their finished weight, the cattle are transported to a slaughterhouse.

In Australia, the NSW Department of Agriculture recommends, protein content of feed is around 10-12%, dependent on age and size of animal. A further recommendations that grain makes up not more than 80% of the diet, to reduce the risk of digestive problems.

We send cattle (and other livestock) to feedlots to fatten them up before the kill. Cattle entering a feedlot can weight 650 lbs and leave 200 days weighing 1040 lbs. That's a 60% weight gain in 200 days (6.5 months).

The Mayo Clinic recommends getting 45-65% of daily calories from carbohydrates. Great advice, but you'll need to increase your carb intake if you want to match the weight gain of cattle.

Cattle feed is mostly heart healthy grains (carbs), as recommended by our wonderfully wise governments. Is there not a corollary of carb intake and weight gain?

A farmer explains the carbohydrate composition of his feed:
Corn is the predominant grain used because it is a great source of starch (carbohydrates) utilized for energy. Other grains used include oats, barley, sorghum, distillers (brewers) grains, and by-products of numerous grain and fiber milling processes.  These are referred to as the concentrate portion of the ration.
Then goes on to explain:
However, forages do not provide the high amount of digestible energy these cattle need to grow quickly.
High amounts of digestible energy?

Cattle stand around all day feeding and chatting about the weather. They don't go on a 3 mile run, spend time on the treadmill, or hours down the gym. Cattle get little to no exercise on the feed lot.

Back in December 2012 I wrote a blog-post Weight Loss Secrets - How It Works. I got interested in weight-loss and weight-gain and did some research into how the body increases body weight and fat storage. How the body loses weight and fat loss.

Insulin inhibits breakdown of fat in adipose tissue by inhibiting the intracellular lipase that hydrolyzes triglycerides to release fatty acids. Insulin facilitates entry of glucose into adipocytes, and within those cells, glucose can be used to synthesize glycerol. This glycerol, along with the fatty acids delivered from the liver, are used to synthesize triglyceride within the adipocyte. By these mechanisms, insulin is involved in further accumulation of fat (triglyceride) in fat cells
From a whole body perspective, insulin has a fat-sparing effect. Not only does it drive most cells to preferentially oxidize carbohydrates instead of fatty acids for energy, insulin indirectly stimulates accumulation of fat in adipose tissue.
Info from Colorado State University Physiology Website

Summary and Close

Cattle are put on feedlots to fatten them before selling at market or slaughter. Cattle are fed a very high carb diet (80%). High carb diet cause weight gain, thats why we feed so many carbs to cattle.

Governments have persuaded their docile citizens that carbs are heart healthy and we must consume a high percentage of carbs for our well-being and continued good health.

Meanwhile there's been an explosion of obesity and a diabetes epidemic. 1/3 of Americans are overweight. 1/3 are obese. Europe is not far behind with Asia soon to follow.

Carbohydrates (grains, sugars, starches) stimulate insulin secretion. Insulin stops fat break down and utilisation of body fat. Insulin switches the body to burning carbs just eaten.

  • Insulin stops body fat stores being used.
  • Insulin forces the body to burn carbs in preference to body fat.
  • Insulin forces the conversion of carbs into body fat
  • Insulin forces the storage of the fat, if it's not used.

Does it take such a great leap of imagination to eliminate carbs from the diet to aid fat loss?