At least as long as I can remember, we have been told to eat low-fat diets. Remember the food pyramid? Fats were up the top as the smallest groups of food that we should be having. We have been led to believe that for good health and definitely to cut our chances of heart disease, low-fat is the way to go. Well I’m here to tell you why fat is not the enemy.
WHAT IS FAT?
Fat is a macronutrient that the body requires to perform many various functions. These functions include brain development and the absorption of some vitamins. In short you DO need it for good health which is why fat is not the enemy!
SOME BASIC FACTS
It really is no wonder that confusion surrounds eating fats. Words get thrown at us left right and centre and we are somehow supposed to decipher what it all means. SATURATED, UNSATURATED, MONOUNSATURATED, POLYUNSATURATED, TRANS FATS! And the list goes on. Do you know what they all mean? Do you know what you should be eating? When you know what all these seemingly complicated terms mean you will understand why fat is not the enemy in your weight loss journey.
This is basically fat that has a chemical composition that clumps easily. You can find it in meats and dairy foods. This is the sort of fat that historically has been ‘linked’ to heart disease. The theory is it clumps easily therefore can clog your arteries.
This sort of fat doesn’t clump easily. There are 2 types; mono & poly. The monounsaturated fats have one missing hydrogen atom in their makeup whilst the polyunsaturated fats have 2 or more. Their shape becomes more complex and therefore less ‘clumpable’. Less ‘clumpable’ less likely to clog your arteries.
You can find these fats in oils and oily fish such as salmon.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Essential fatty acids are the ones the body cannot make on its own. It gets them from the breakdown of the fats we eat. We know these as omega 3 and omega 6 fats. My favourite source is salmon! In oil!
Trans fats are the fats you find in cakes, biscuits, pies, pasties, muffins, margarine etc It’s what you end up with when vegetable fats are treated with hydrogen (hydrogenation). This will often give food a longer shelf life; a very desirable quality from the food manufacturing point of view. This process can take an ‘unsaturated’ fat like oil and make it ‘saturated’. It then clumps easily and clogs your arteries.
The theory is that saturated fat and therefore trans fats are the fats linked to hardening of the arteries and heart disease. It increases your ‘bad cholesterol’ and lowers your ‘good’.
The recommendation is that we should consume about 30% of our calories from fat. As you know I’m a big advocator of staying clear of the processed stuff when trying to lose weight. This is because of the carbohydrate and high trans fats content. Eating some red meat and dairy everyday is not going to be the problem. Even if you ate steak with every meal! As you know you should vary your proteins anyway. Check out my post on protein here.
HISTORY OF LOW FAT EATING
It has never made sense to me that eating red meat was not considered very healthy. Humans started their existence eating red meat! Not tofu!
The link with saturated fat and heart disease is debatable.
Heart disease and obesity has increased since the 1950’s. Why? People used to cook with lard and drippings and eat red meat, full fat milk and cheese! Obesity was not a major issue like it’s been the last few decades. It’s very hard to believe that the saturated fats in meat, milk and eggs are what is causing us to die of heart disease. It makes more sense that the introduction of ‘convenience’ and ‘fast’ foods in the 1950’s is more likely the culprit. With the understanding of trans fats in almost everything, it’s not surprising. Also recommendation to eat low-fat and eat more grains (carbs) has led to increasing obesity. The more insulin your body has to produce the more weight you will gain.
You should definitely take a look at this video and article here that explains how we come to believe saturated fat is bad for us. It’s very eye-opening that’s for sure. It definitely makes you think about everything we’ve ever been told!
NO LOW FAT STUFF
I also believe you need to stay away from the low-fat stuff! Read those labels. Apart from the fact that they almost always increase the sugar (carb) content, they also add other chemicals to it too. One of the best things I did was swap crappy margarine for butter! WHAT BUTTER/MARGARINE DO YOU BUY? HAVE YOU CHECKED THE LABEL? Don’t take my word for it, check out what you buy with some real butter!
Compare your low-fat mayo, low-fat sauce, low-fat yogurts! This is why fat is not the enemy.
WHY FAT IS NOT THE ENEMY
In a nutshell, fat is not the enemy for a few good reasons!
1 The body NEEDS fat to survive. The body requires the essential nutrient which is fat. Some of fats functions include the absorption of vitamins and is also required for brain development
2 The theory that saturated fat causes heart disease is still debatable and the research behind it is not conclusive
4 Humans have consumed red meat and dairy products for hundreds of years WITHOUT the current level of obesity and heart disease. What does this tell you?
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