Caralishious Inspired Series: Can Eating More Fats Make You Skinny?
18 April 2016
What a crazy thought? Surely eating fat is exactly what makes us fat, so eating less is not only healthier but the way you lose weight?
Not true. This outdated thinking couldn't be more wrong, and has resulted in dramatic rises in both obesity and diabetes around the world.
Fats have been demonized by Governments and the media alike since the 1960's. But take the USA as a classic example of how things have gone wrong. Back in the 60's people in the US used to get 45% of their calorie intake from fat. Now that figure has dropped to more like 33%, and as recently as 2007 the Government was still recommending this be as low as 20%. Yet obesity tripled and diabetes rocketed ten-fold, which suggests that fat was never the problem.
Thankfully this advice has slowly changed and continues to do so.
Meanwhile, however, food manufacturers have taken great advantage of that 'low fat' message. Supermarkets are full of products proudly declaring how low in fat they are. When typically those same products are highly processed, use cheap sugars to replace fats and oils -- and may well be high in calories. Eating fat doesn't make us fat, it's the processed, sugar-laden packaged foods that do!
Fat Was Never Bad
So let's put the record straight. Fat was never 'bad'. Of course too much of any one thing isn't going to do us a lot of good. Even water becomes toxic if consumed to great excess.
But fats are not only good, some of them are even considered necessary. The Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) affect just about every organ and system in your body. They come from foods such as nuts, seeds, fish and leafy vegetables. Most of us don't eat enough of them.
EFA's are not the same of course as the more straight-forward 'energy fats' that form the bulk of extracted oils such as olive or coconut oils, and a large percentage of foods including nuts and seeds. These fats are simply rich sources of energy that we classify generally as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. The saturated fats, as provided by red meats and dairy, we need to be more careful with. But even saturated fats shouldn't be seen as bad. Cheese and eggs are highly nutritious foods packed with protein and other valuable nutrients.
'Trans fats' on the other hand are genuinely pretty evil. Their use is motivated mainly by profit above health or even flavor. These are the types of fat found in margarine, and heavily processed pre-packaged snacks such as cakes and cookies. Trans fats are fats that have been chemically altered to allow for great shelf life of processed foods, and have no real place in our food chain. They raise cholesterol, cause inflammation and promote heart disease, all the while providing us with no real positive benefits at all. So watch out for 'partially hydrogenated oils' in the ingredient list - those are trans fats.
So How Can More Fat Actually Help You Lose Fat..?
Think of your overall food intake as a bucket of calories. The size of your bucket depends on your lean body size. No, you can't have an extra large bucket.
Your food bucket is made up broadly of protein, fats and carbohydrates. So if you increase the amount of fat in your bucket, then you have to reduce something else.
Typically on low fat diets it's the carbohydrate side of this triangle that gets boosted up. Which is the diet that has made America and many other countries fatter. Carbs are not evil either though. We do need them - just be carb smart. It's all about bringing things back into balance.
So what happens if we increase fat but reduce the carbohydrates? Bizarrely we just created better conditions in the body for fat loss.
As studies on real people show, low fat, high carbohydrate diets cause your insulin levels to spike up. Your metabolism then slows down, and that extra energy gets stored as belly fat. Increase the fat and reduce the carbs instead, and your metabolism speeds up. Which leads to burning more calories and improvements in cholesterol levels.
It's important to get your daily protein requirements too of course, you don't want protein being replaced by carbs. Protein is also slower to digest so it helps you feel more satisfied from a meal for longer too. Which is also true for fat. Not only do fats feel good in the mouth making them satisfying to eat, they too are slower to digest. Which makes meals more satisfying and reduces the urge to snack.
All of which brings us to what might feel a familiar place. The best diet is simply a well balanced one. We know wholefoods are so much better for us than processed foods. We just need to remember that quality fats are truly just as healthy and wholesome - and that they often come in wholefood form too. Enjoy your avocados, virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Enjoy free-range whole eggs for breakfast
Don't be scared of fats and oils, embrace them, and enjoy the flavors and health benefits they can provide.
About The Author
As well as liking nuts, Pierce Holmford is a bit of a health nut. His site OmegaThreeBenefits.com discusses further the benefits and sources of Omega-3, and the effects of nutrition on our health.
Sherman, Hadas, et al. "Timed high-fat diet resets circadian metabolism and prevents obesity." The FASEB Journal 26.8 (2012): 3493-3502.
Ebbeling, Cara B., et al. "Effects of Dietary Composition During Weight Loss Maintenance: A Controlled Feeding Study." JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association 307.24 (2012): 2627.Back