You probably don’t expect to see this article on a diet website, but there is so much misinformation out there about dietary fat, particularly when it comes to losing weight, that I feel it’s worth discussing.
Most physicians don’t have a lot of education when it comes to nutrition, and for many, what education they do have took place before recent discoveries about nutrition, fat, and its impact on health, so they may not be up to date. This can lead to a patient who wants to lose weight being told that they need to cut out eating fat. Sadly, it often leads to that patient choosing “low fat” processed foods that are crammed with sugars – which definitely is NOT a good weight loss strategy!
“The name says it all: Fat makes you fat, right? Wrong! Eating a small amount of fat actually helps you feel fuller faster, as it triggers satiety (or fullness) signals, causing you to eat less overall.”
– Dr. Mehmet Oz
What You Need To Know About Fat
Fat is essential for good health. Your brain is largely made up of fat, and fat is used by your body to construct nerves and cell membranes, and in hormone production. Fat keeps your skin and hair healthy. It is necessary for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. It even provides insulation to help keep your body warm, and cushions and protects organs and bones.
Fat can actually help some people to diet if they eat more fat, as long as it’s good fat. When you reduce carb consumption drastically, which is what most overweight people in North America need to do, healthy fats can be a sensible replacement that helps keep hunger at bay. Of course, you need to reduce your net intake of calories, but some of them can still be healthy fat.
Fat and Calories
Fats are a dense form of food – at 9 calories per gram, fat is a concentrated fuel. That’s more than double the calories in a gram of protein or carbohydrate, which is one of the reasons that some believe cutting out fat is a good strategy for weight loss. Fat doesn’t make you fat – excess calories make you fat, and because fat is such a concentrated form of calories, it can be easy to consume excess.
Good Fats Versus Bad Fats
I’ve discussed the fats to avoid in the past (avoid trans fats!). Try to limit yourself to only good fats – and that includes fats which are contained in prepared foods. Make sure you read nutrition labels.
Good fats include coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado oil, olive oil, butter or full-fat yogurt (preferably from grass fed cows), ghee, avocado. Fish, krill, seafood, algae, olives, dark chocolate, eggs, nuts and seeds can also be sources of good fats.
“Healthy fat has its own health-giving properties, it increases your healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and decreases inflammation in your arteries.”
– Dr Michael Roizen
Signs You May Need To Eat More Good Fat
- You feel hungry right after a full meal (fat assists feelings of satiety)
- You are anxious or depressed
- You have dry, flaky or dull skin or hair
- Your period stops for “no reason”
- You are extremely exercise intolerant
- You have memory problems
- You have trouble with concentration – staying focused and on task
Fat Cells In Your Body
Although your body replaces many of its cells frequently, it can take up to two years for fat cells to be replaced. This means that if you start eating only healthy fats today, it can take some time for your body to “clear out” the remains of the unhealthy fats you’ve consumed. Fat is also used for storage of toxins, so your body will be reluctant to release fat cells if you are regularly exposed to an unhealthy environment.
Get started today to clean up the fats you consume, and pay attention to the quality of your daily environment, improving it where you can. Your health will thank you!