It sure does take a long time for research to catch up with the human mindset…like, seemingly decades! Research has been proving for decades that fat is not the bad guy that the mainstream media once had us all believing, and most people still believing. I still get people in my office every week telling my how healthy they are eating, yet they are struggling with cravings, poor digestion, sleep issues, and depression. It would be putting it simplistically to say that fat solves all things, so we will certainly not go that far. You may be surprised at how dispelling the myths in your head and adding some fat to your diet can radically change the way your body functions, looks and feels.
As per normal, our media tends to simplify things. Sugar is bad, fat is bad, low fat is good, etc. Just like any other area of life, there are nuances that should be understood before taking the leap of change. Here is a breakdown of a few of the most commonly held understandings about fat and what the actual “skinny” is on the subject.
- All saturated fat is great for you (myth). Over the past few years the pendulum has swung from saturated fat being the perceived worst food on the planet to eat to websites encouraging us to wash down our bacon with a side of bacon grease. Though research has definitely dispelled the myth that saturated fat is bad and has even found some great health benefits to it, not all saturated fat is the same. According to a recent review of all clinical research on saturated fat by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is no link between saturated fats and heart disease. What is linked though is INFLAMMATION and heart disease. Saturated fats full of toxic chemicals…triple bacon cheeseburger anyone…promote inflammation due to the chemicals in the ingredients. Saturated fats from healthy sources (grass fed meats, grass fed butter, coconut oil, nuts and nut oils) are not only good for heart health, but are also anti inflammatory. When you are choosing to eat saturated fats, choose wisely.
- Increasing fat can make you leaner (truth). Eating a primarily low fat diet, as we mentioned earlier, can lead brain and systemic dysfunction as the brain is made up of 70% fat, but most people don’t understand how increasing the RIGHT kinds of fats can actually help you to become leaner. Our cell walls are actually made up of fat. When the cell walls are healthy, they are more effectively able to metabolize insulin, and as we have discussed for years, the ability to manage blood sugar and insulin levels is key to preventing diabetes and weight control. Without proper blood sugar control, the body more easily stores fat instead of burns it. Again, this is not license to run out for potato chips as toxic hydrogenated (trans) fats will do just the opposite for weight control. Try adding a small portion of fat to every meal and see what happens with your weight, just make sure that when adding fat to the diet, you are very careful about your consumption of starches and sugars.
- Sugar is the real culprit (truth). With the average American consumption of sugar at 146 lbs of flour (which converts to sugar) and 152 lbs of sugar each year, we as a nation are eating almost a pound of sugar each per day! The average 8 year old child has eaten as much sugar as a person 100 years ago had eaten in their entire lifetime! The more sugar we eat, the more our cells become resistant to insulin. The cells basically shut down their response to insulin, making a perfect path for fat storage and type 2 diabetes.
- Low fat diets tend to be a trade off for high sugar (truth). For the vast majority of people who go on low fat eating plans, the trade off is high sugar….because what else are you going to eat? A low fat diet of healthy vegetables and lean protein is a great way to eat, but it often gives way to dissatisfaction and cravings. Instead, eating a diet that is high fiber from vegetables.
- Eating fat decreases cravings (truth). Eating a high vegetable diet is ideal, for general health, weight loss, and ease in weight maintenance. Have you ever eaten a full meal but left the table just not feeling satisfied? A lot of times that is due to lack of fat in the meal. Vegetables (and to really break it down, the fiber in them) are they key to satisfying the stomach and giving us a sense of fullness, but it is actually FAT that satisfies the BRAIN. Remember that a little goes a long way, but if you are feeling this way, there is a good chance that adding some healthy fat to your meals would help.
Look at the role of fat in your diet. Are you feeling unsatisfied after meals or having trouble with constipation? Has your weight loss slowed or plateaued? Try adding a small amount to healthy diet and see what happens. I have seen cases of conditions such as severe constipation and cravings reverse themselves with this simple change. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Drizzle a little olive oil on your meal AFTER it is cooked. Olive oil is most nutritious when it is not heated, so this is the way to get the most benefit out of it.
Add 1/4 avocado to your salad or meal.
Use guacamole as a condiment.
Add nuts to just about anything
Add coconut oil to your coffee and blend. This is an easy trick and makes your coffee really frothy. Try adding a teaspoon of hard coconut oil to your coffee and put it in the blender for about 10 seconds. It is amazing!
Here are a couple of my favorite dinner recipes using nuts (which contain high fat to satisfy the brain, decrease inflammation, and help with heart health:
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Look at the role of fat in your diet and try out one of the suggestions above each day this week.