FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!
It turns out that science doesn’t support low-fat claims at all. Unfortunately, after 60 years of low-fat propaganda, the “fat makes you fat” rhetoric is so ingrained in our collective psyche that many people still fear fat, even though study after study shows that fat is harmless. (the good fats that is) In fact, eating more fat is the single most powerful way to hack your cravings, turn on your brain, lose weight, reduce inflammation and balance your hormones. Your body craves fat because it needs them. Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. A diet full of healthy fat is sustainable and satisfying. With all this new information about fat, respected resources like Canada’s Food Guide are currently undergoing a review and new guidelines are expected before the end of 2019. To find current, evidence based nutrition info check out US based Nutrition Coalition. (www.nutritioncoalition.us)
Many are surprised to learn of the vitally important roles of fat in the diet:
- Fat is a structurally integral part of every single cell membrane in our bodies.
- Fats are required in order to properly digest and assimilate those all-important fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. Conveniently, many foods containing these vitamins also come with the fat required to digest them. For example, the fat in egg yolks allows the body to access the vitamins A and D it’s so abundant in. So maybe Mother Nature had it right after all? This is another reason why pasteurized skim milk fortified with synthetic vitamin D is such a silly idea.
- Fats are required for the adequate use of protein. So all the egg whites in the world won’t help you out if you’re not eating them with the fats in the yolk to access that protein properly.
- Fats are a source of energy, and a nice consistent, smooth burning energy. They also slow food absorption, which helps with energy regulation as well.
- Fats are key players in managing inflammation in your body. Some fats help your body inflame when necessary, other fats help your body anti-inflame. Unfortunately, low-quality fats are in themselves highly inflammatory, but that’s about the processing, not the fat in and of itself.
So we’ve established that fat is an absolutely essential part of our diets and shouldn’t be feared. Its unfortunate that we use the same label – “fat” – for this vitally important macro-nutrient as the bodily condition we’re all trying to avoid.
But what about the weight issue? Isn’t dietary fat what resides on my inner thighs?
Here’s something really important to know about fat: it does not creates fat storage the way that sugar and other starchy carbohydrates do.
When you eat something sweet, your blood sugar levels increase too quickly, and your pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to take the excess sugar out of your blood. Insulin is a fat storage hormone. It stores that extra sugar first as glycogen, and then as triglycerides (fat) once glycogen stores are full.
When insulin is activated, its partner hormone, glucagon, can’t operate. Glucagon’s job is to mobilize stored sugar back into the blood for energy use. These two hormones are constantly in a dance with each other and cannot be present in the blood at the same time. So either your body is in an energy-burning/mobilizing state (glucagon) or your body is in an energy storage state (insulin).
Sugar mobilizes insulin; fat does not. In fact, the fat in a sweet treat will actually help to slow down that sugar spike, and thus reduce the insulin surge, mitigating some of the ill-effects of the sweet. This is why the whole fat-free dessert thing is such a bad idea. Not only are you mobilizing a ton of insulin, you’re also removing the one thing in there that could slow that process down.
Another piece to this puzzle is satiation. The digestion of fats triggers your satiation mechanism. This is why low-fat diets are doomed to fail and such an exercise in fierce willpower. Your body is never satisfied without fat, despite the number of calories (one more reason why calories aren’t the be all and end all).
It’s quite the opposite with sugar or foods converting to sugar quickly in the blood (starchy carbs like bread, pastas, cereal, potatoes, etc…). These foods inspire overeating and binging in part because they don’t satiate and in part because of the insulin reaction we explained above. After insulin has done its job of storing that extra sugar as fat, guess what happens? Your blood sugar takes a big hit and you now are in a low-blood sugar space. What do you crave now? You got it… more sugar.
This means: eating fat makes you fuller sooner and longer. Eating sugar leads to a sugar crash which makes you hungrier sooner and in a position to crave more sugar. A vicious cycle indeed.
Now, are all fats created equal? Not by any stretch. In fact, industrially processed oils and rancid fats are ubiquitous in the diet and extremely harmful to both our health and our waistlines. But real, unadulterated fat from quality sources used appropriately is a key component of any healthy diet.
Here’s the bottom line: Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating sugar makes you fat.
What Fats are best?
All fat is not created equal and some fats are bad, just as some carbohydrates are bad and some proteins not ideal either.
List of Healthy Fats To Incorporate In The Diet:
1.) Organic, unpasteurized butter & cream (if you tolerate dairy) : Only from certified grass-fed and finished cows.
2.) Olives: 74% percent of this fat content is oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is the main component of olive oil. It has been linked with several health benefits, including decreased inflammation and a reduced risk of heart disease
3.) Eggs: Not only are eggs a fantastic source of lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but they contain some pretty important nutrients. Whole eggs are a power food packed with essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need — a majority of these vitamins and minerals are found in the egg yolk. Chickens are omnivores by nature so it is VERY important to purchase eggs that come from pastured free run chickens, not chickens with strict vegetarian feed.
4.) Organic flaxseeds and high lignan flaxseed oil: Most people who are already fitness conscious are probably surprised this isn’t number one. A vegetarian source of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant lignans sure make this an attractive option when it comes to choosing oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are important, but there are better sources listed below and because it can’t be used in cooking, its use is limited. Try it in salad dressing or mixed into a bowl of yogurt or cottage cheese. Fresh ground flaxseed does contain a good dose of fiber and is a great addition to nutrition shakes or sprinkled on yogurt. Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil both have a shelf life and are photosensitive, so make sure you store it them dark containers, such as amber glass, and refrigerate upon opening. Just because these aren’t number one, doesn’t mean it is not a terrific food.
5.) Organic, extra virgin olive oil: The “extra virgin” means from the first cold pressing, meaning that it also retains all the nutrients of the olive, but even more concentrated, yet no salty brines. Besides being loaded in hormone regulating monounsaturated fat, extra virgin olive oil contains high levels of antioxidant polyphenols that are both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. That means they are anticancer and heart healthy. The polyphenols in olive oil have also been shown to improve skin health by reducing oxidative stress from sunburn and other environmental factors.
6.) Raw nuts, cold pressed nut oils and natural organic nut butters (excluding peanuts): Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias, etc. are tremendous healthy fats. Good sources of protein and fiber, while also a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fat, minerals, and Vitamin E. Try the nut butters if you don’t like nuts, just make sure there is no roasting or commercial processing involved. Macadamia nuts have the highest fat content. Note: Peanuts are not a nut but are technically a legume and can be highly inflammatory for people with any inflammatory conditions or autoimmune conditions.
7.) Wild salmon and other fatty fish: These are still primarily a protein food, but the healthy fat inside cannot be understated. They key word here is wild, and this typically comes from Alaska. There are several varieties like Sockeye, Copper River and King and all are amazing foods. The difference between wild Alaskan salmon and farmed salmon (Atlantic salmon) is night and day. Wild salmon are free and active, eating their natural diet of algae and krill and the pink to red color is 100% natural. The wild salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids and the powerful antioxidant and carotenoid, Astaxanthin. Other good choices are sardines and anchovies. There is one drawback and that is that the oceans are becoming quite polluted and salmon is not as safe as it was several years ago. PCBs and heavy metals are wreaking havoc on our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, toxins and chemicals tend to store themselves in fat and these are fatty fish. To be safe, eat these fish and/or salmon maybe 2-3 days a week maximum. You can also take a high quality purified fish or krill oil supplement.
8.) MCT oil, Coconut milk, Coconut oil: The fatty acids in coconut oil are actually very different than in other foods in that they are primarily in the form of medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs. MCTs are fats that burn fat and provide energy. They act as a metabolic primer, stoking your internal fat burning furnace. The primary MCT in coconut oil is Lauric Acid, and this MCT is extremely healthy in that it has potent antimicrobial properties. I highly recommend using coconut oil to cook with and MCT oil not to cook with but to blend into smoothies, your morning coffee, over steamed veggies etc.
9.) Supplements– Cod liver Fish Oil, krill Oil or Fermented cod liver oil: These supplements contain most of the same benefits as salmon and other fatty fish, yet much more concentrated in Omega-3 fatty acids. Full of the long chain Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, fish oil is one of the most anti-inflammatory and heart healthy supplements available. The key here is the pharmaceutical grade, as many fish oil supplements are not pure, even dangerous. Oceans are polluted and if precautions aren’t taken, PCBs and heavy metals stored in the fish fat will carry right over into the supplement. Make sure you can find a trusted brand of this grade and your health will reap tremendous benefits.
10.) Red/ Game meat (beef, buffalo, Venison, Moose etc) : Our society’s bias against saturated fat and cholesterol has become so strong that we often forget that in nature those are the exact foods where the most nutrients are found. Egg yolks are no different. They contain 100% of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as all the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin found in an egg. They also contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Compared to the yolk, the white doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of nutrients. An egg white contains more protein than the yolk, but it’s only because the yolk is smaller. Egg yolks bring both DHA and AA, the two truly essential fatty acids. DHA is the form of omega-3 that’s usable by the body, and arachidonic acid is the usable form of omega-6. Bison meat is also promoted as a good source of omega-3 fats. Grass-fed cuts have more of these heart-healthy fats than conventional beef (the same is true for grass-fed beef), but the amount is minimal compared to salmon and other fatty fish. And grain-finishing causes a rapid decline in omega-3 levels.
11. Avocados: Avocados are loaded with fats, and are about 77% fat, by calories, making them even higher in fat than most animal foods. The main fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid.