Will eating fat make your body fat and sick?
One of the biggest nutritional misconceptions today is that dietary fat is bad news and that it is associated with heart disease and cancer.
Dietary fats generally do not make you fat. Well no more so than eating copious amounts of any other macronutrient. In fact, the macronutrient most likely to make you fat, in excess consumption, is carbohydrates.
Fats contain more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, so if you are watching your calories, then I have one piece of advice for you. Please stop obsessing over calories.
Don’t look at the traffic light food label which does not differentiate between good fats and bad fats and don’t look at the calorie content, instead focus on the list of ingredients. If the list is too long and you don’t recognise most of the ingredients, put the product down and move to a whole foods isle.
An important clarification to make here is that not all fats are equal. There are good, health promoting, satiety-promoting fats. And then there are bad, disease promoting, inflammatory, fats.
Bad fats are a problem; they are detrimental to good health and are associated with heart disease, cancer and weight gain, as well as a bunch of other chronic conditions since bad fats are inflammatory. And systemic inflammation is associated with almost all chronic conditions.
Bad fats to avoid include heated vegetable oils, which are present in almost all processed foods and include soy and corn oil. Vegetable oils, once heated, turn into a trans fat which is bad news. Therefore also avoid fried foods, burned or charred foods, biscuits, pastries and margarine. The latter, which is high in trans fats, can increase LDL cholesterol.
The type of fats we consume can influence the type of fats that are used to build every cell in the body. That’s a big deal. Cells with healthy omega 3 fatty acids tend to be more flexible, thereby improving cell communication, insulin sensitivity and the movement of nutrients in and out of cells. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for cognitive function, hormonal balance, skin health, weight loss, cardiovascular health, sports performance, joints, digestive function and calming inflammation (to name just a few).
Omega 3’s can also increase the process by which fat from adipose is converted to energy, as well as reducing the glycemic load of a meal (meaning a lowered insulin response) – both are fundamental for achieving fat loss.
The best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include oily fish (aim for 2 portions a week) such as mackerel, sardines, wild salmon, herring, pilchards, kippers. Lower levels are found in flax seeds (also called linseeds) and walnuts.
Coconut oil is an amazing medium-chain saturated fat which is much, much better than your average super food. Safe and stable at high temperatures, this is a wonderful fat. Every kitchen cupboard should have a jar of high quality virgin organic coconut oil. Cook with coconut oil, bake with coconut oil, apply coconut oil topically on dry, irritated skin (great for eczema), use coconut oil in curries and stir-frys, and add coconut oil to baby formulas for a better nights sleep.
Other great fats include coconut milk, avocado, olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, organic butter, ghee, cold-pressed nut or seed oils, and eggs.
Oh and did I mention coconut oil?!
To your lean, healthy, optimised future,
Dee & Matt