Black Foot Raw

Nature’s Bench

Macronutrients – the Foundations to Health


The human diet consists of an amazing variety of flavours and textures, of different aromas and nutrient profiles, and of various degrees of doneness, from live (oysters) to raw (fish), to rotten (fermented stuff). Over tens of thousands of years, our bodies have learnt to process all kinds of substances, both good and bad.


Under our dining tables, our dogs have increased their diet by a considerable range. Dog lovers often cite studies to me showing that dogs differ from wolves now in that they have evolved in their genome to be able to create digestive enzymes for starches. Therefore, dogs should consume high carbohydrate diets.


Really, let’s think about this objectively. I can digest sucrose and transfat. Does that mean I should be ingesting candies and potato chips in copious amounts? That will only lead me down the road to obesity, diabetes, inflammation, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.


Similarly for dogs, amylase, the digestive enzyme for digesting starches, is produced in very small amounts compared to the enzymes for digesting fats and proteins. That suggests that when they were domesticated, dogs developed the trick to digest starches to survive rather than to thrive. A diet high in carbohydrates will have the same debilitating effects on their bodies, maybe worse, since they have a much smaller body and a much shorter life span.


It is common knowledge that the dog and the wolf share 99.9% of their DNA. Technically, they are still the same species. It makes sense to study what wolves eat in the wild to get an idea what the natural diet of dogs consist of. 70 years of eating kibbles has not changed a body that has ingested natural foods in the wild for millions of years in the same way that our body has not evolved to depend on potato chips and instant noodles for nutrients.


Let’s look at balancing the macronutrients first. This is the basic of nutrition. Get it wrong and all things fall apart.



The Macros






AAFCO make their recommendations based on dry matter, so we do not have to take water content into account.


The minimum recommended dietary intake of protein for a cat is 26 percent and 9 percent for crude fat. Because carbohydrates and starch are such touchy subjects now, AAFCO have left that out of their recommendations completely but by inference we can estimate that, for them, a carbohydrate intake in the region of 65 percent for cats is acceptable.


This is where the whole recommendation system collapses because they are recommending nutrient intake based on this macronutrients allocation. For example, thiamin, a vitamin essential for metabolising glucose (and by extension carbo), would be required in higher concentrates in a diet with high carbohydrate content. The recommended AAFCO intake might not apply for a diet of primarily fresh meat and organs.



One way to study this is to look at feral* free roaming cats. Based on 27 studies, the diets of feral cats is as follows:


62.7% protein 22.8% fat 11.8% ash 2.8% carbo (Plantinga, Bosch & Hendriks; 2011)


*Feral cats are described in the literature as cats which descended from domestic cats, but are born and live without human contact and have survived in an ecosystem for many generations.



For dogs, the content of the wolf’s stomach is analysed since wolves have similar GI tracts. The studies revealed the gut content to be high in animal proteins, roughage and bulk, and very low in carbohydrates.


A 9.90 all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet


A review of the diets of 50 wild wolves reveals this make up:


54% protein, 45% percent fat, 1 percent carbo (Bosch, Hagen-Plantinga, Henriks; 2015)


Almost identical to cats. No matter how we want to humanise Fido at home, the fact remains that the dog is a true carnivore.


If we look at AAFCO’s dietary recommendations for dogs (based on dry matter);


Minimum protein 18 %

Minimum fat 5.5 %


Again, by inference, a diet consisting of over 70% carbo is acceptable.


However, the studies on the diets of wolves concluded by saying the nutritive characteristics of commercial foods differ in several aspects from the dog’s closest free living ancestor in terms of dietary nutrient profile and this may pose physiological and metabolic challenges. We can begin to guess the reason for the prevalence of diabetes and other health issues for dogs today on diets based on AAFCO’s recommendations while dogs on ‘nutritionally-deficient’ fresh meats and organs diets are thriving.


This is hardly surprising when you consider that the balance of macronutrients can affect the following:


  • Growth rate and size (Raubenheimer & Simpson, 1997)
  • Obesity (Simpson & Raubenheimer, 2005)
  • Longevity (Piper, Partridge, Raubenheimer & Simpson, 1997)
  • Disease Resistance (Cotter, Simpson & Raubenheimer, 2010)


Hence, to study the foundation of health for cats, for example, herein, lies the masterplan.


Catch a mouse and analyse its macronutrients.









Bosch G, Hagen-Plantinga EA, Hendriks WH. Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: insights for optimal dog nutrition? BR J Nutr. 2015; 113:S40-S54.

Cotter SC, Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D. Wilson K. Macronutrient balance mediates trade-offs between immune function and life history traits. Funct Ecol 2010; 25:186-198.

Piper MDW, Partridge L., Raubenheimer D. Simpson SJ. Dietary restriction and aging: a unifying perspective. Cell Metabolism 2011; 14:154-160.

Plantinga EA, Bosch G, Hendriks WH. Estimation of the dietary nutrient profile of free-roaming feral cats: possible implications for nutrition of domestic cats. BR J Nutr 2011; 106(1): S35-48.

Raubenheimer D., Simpson SJ. Integrative models of nutrient balancing: application to insects and vertebrates. Nutr Res Rev 1997; 10:151-179.

Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D. Obesity: the protein leveage hypothesis. Obes Rev 2005; 6:133-142.