if you eat fatty foods you are going to get fat, right?
However, I don’t blame you for thinking that fat is bad. Just taking a stroll around the grocery store can be likened to navigating a minefield of misinformation. Low fat this, reduced fat that. If fat were so good for you why are they taking it out of foods? Well, for starters, food manufacturers and marketers are trying to sell product regardless of your weight loss goals. Playing into the nutrition myth that claims less fat makes you better off, they are simply attempting to make you feel good about eating calorie packed, nutritionally empty, processed foods. Thankfully, I am here with some straight talk on eating more fat.
The Skinny on Fat
All fats are not created equal and fat free is certainly not mean healthy. Fat free foods are typically highly processed; containing refined carbohydrates and loads of sugar. So, when it comes to eating fat you need to know how much and which kinds. Bad fats can increase cholesterol and disease risk factors, while good fats can improve heart health and immune function.
The Good; Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
Swap out the refined carbs, bread, and pasta in favor of some highly nutritious good fats.
- Olive oil
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
The Bad; Trans Fats
This one is really not that difficult, if it comes in a box or a bag stay away from it. If it is glazed, fried, or topped with whipped cream it falls into the “bad fat” category. If you struggle with this concept, think about what is being done to foods that come out off the ground or off of a tree that allows them to be keep on a store shelf or in a pantry for a year +.
The Debatable; Saturated Fats
- Fatty meat (beef, lamb, pork)
- Whole milk and cream
- Palm and coconut oil
For years doctors and dieticians have published and subscribed to clinical research that says saturated fat raises cholesterol and causes heart disease. Beginning in the 1960’s with the work of Ancel Keys, Ph.D the establishment (American Heart Association) has been pointing to saturated animal fats as a contributing factor to high cholesterol and heart-disease mortality. However, a number of studies have identified flaws in this hypothesis. Perhaps more interesting is the superior cardiovascular health of Inuit, Masai, and Takelau populations who consume massive amounts of blubber, organ meats, coconut, and even blood that are high in saturated fats. Among the experts, these cultures posses some “genetic adaptation” that allow them to maintain this type of diet.
Given the debate, and the fact that I am not a credentialed nutritionist, I am not going to say that you should eat saturated fats. However, I will say that I eat saturated fats. Grass-fed beef, coconut oil, organ meats, and bacon are all included in my diet.
The key to a healthy diet and weight is not cutting the fat, carbohydrates, or calories. The best thing you can do is eliminate empty calories and replace them nutrient rich foods. When it comes to fat, identify the types of fats that you are eating and stick to the Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats. Create a meal plan that allows you to maintain your weight, improves your body composition, and provides you with sustained energy to meet the needs of your lifestyle.
A diet made up of Trans fat, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and refined sugars, paired with a lifestyle that lacks exercise is a recipe for disaster. Instead of cutting out fat altogether, try this:
- eliminate Trans fats
- moderate and monitor you intake of saturated fats
- eat omega-3’s, fish, walnuts, and flax
- cook with olive oil
- snack on veggies and guacamole or mixed nuts