Let’s separate “fat” from fiction and settle this issue once and for all. Eating fat does not make you fat or put you on the fast track for coronary artery disease.
While certain fats, like trans-fats, are still unhealthy, the saturated fats we were taught to fear in the 1980s and 1990s have been unfairly maligned.
I know, it’s really hard work to evolve into a fat-eating Baby Boomer woman. For most of your adult life you were probably brainwashed into believing that fat was the devil incarnate.
That was me for sure.
I used to be a card-carrying added-fat-phobic zealot.
Sugar? Bring it on. Fat? Banish it from the kingdom!
I was mistaken.
No added fat cooking was my sweet spot.
When I was raising my daughters, I took great pride in what a creative cook I was. I could whip up a delicious zero added fat meal with one hand tied behind my back. Not one extra calorie from fat would cross our lips.
Or threaten our arteries.
Fast forward to the past decade.
Now, I could descend into a full-blown guilt spiral when I allow myself to recall my heyday of fat-free cooking pride and prowess.
Now, with current research underpinning my understanding of the basics of metabolic science, I have come to embrace fat for the miracle nutrient that it is.
Regret is not a useful emotion.
Instead of driving myself crazy with regret for the imagined harm I did to my family by depriving their cells of the fat they needed for optimal performance, I choose different thoughts.
I’ve trained my brain to tell the story that I did the best I could with the information I was given by popular women’s magazines, diet books and talk shows at the time.
Today, the internet, while far from perfect, is a much better resource from which to learn about metabolic science. So much of it is well understood and explained. Thanks Google.
Now I’d rather show myself compassion and grace. I prefer to think: “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” (Such a useful, all purpose thought I like to wrangle! for a myriad of situations!) “I was doing the best I knew how to do.” “When I knew better, I did better.”
In the 80s and 90s, I didn’t know how crucial fat was for proper brain function.
Omega 3-fatty acids are the essential building blocks of our brain. They’re important for learning and memory.
Today I understand how the right kind of fat matters. And it’s not about saturated vs unsaturated fat. Read on to learn more.
I was starving my poor Myelin Sheaths.
Myelin sheaths are sleeves of fatty tissue that protect your nerve cells. These cells are part of your central nervous system which carries messages back and forth between your brain and the rest of your body.
Scientific Explanation Ahead: Myelin contains a high content of lipids (fats). The formation of the myelin sheath requires high levels of fatty acid and lipid synthesis, together with uptake of extracellular fatty acids.
Fat is critical for the proper function of the nervous system and cell to cell interactions in your body.
According to a study at NIH, cholesterol is needed for myelin membrane growth and to function normally.
There are so many myths about fat still stressing us out.
Fat makes us fat. It contributes to heart disease and can lead to type-2 diabetes.
Saturated fat is bad. It can clog your arteries.
Vegetable oils are good.
None of these beliefs about fat are true.
In Dr. Mark Hyman book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, he combined the latest research with several decades of empirical evidence working with patients to show that the right fats can help us become lean, healthy and vibrant.
Fat is an important part of any healthy food plan.
According to Dr. Hyman, here are eight take-home fat facts to challenge your thinking about fat.
Consider this your fat primer.
1. Sugar, not fat, makes you fat.
Consuming a lot of sugar means your cells become numb to insulin’s “call.” Your body pumps out more and more insulin to pull your blood sugar levels back down. You can’t burn all the sugar you eat. Inevitably, your body stores it as fat, creating insulin resistance and overall metabolic havoc among other mayhem.
2. Dietary fat is more complex than sugar.
There are some 257 names for sugar, but despite very minor variations, they all create the same damage. Fat is more complex. We have saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and even trans fats, not to mention subcategories within each group. Some fats are good; others neutral; and yes, a few are bad.
3. Low-fat diets tend to be heart-unhealthy, high-sugar diets.
When people eat less fat, they tend to eat more starch or sugar instead and this actually increases their levels of the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks.
4. Saturated fat is not your enemy.
A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. As with all fats, quality becomes key here. The fats in a fast-food bacon feedlot cheeseburger will have an entirely different effect than saturated fat in coconut oil. Let’s stop classifying it all as the same.
5. Some fats are unhealthy.
6. Everyone benefits from more omega 3s.
About 99 percent of Americans are deficient in these critical fats. Ideal ways to get them include eating wild or sustainably raised cold-water fish, omega-3 rich eggs and taking an omega-3 supplement.
7. Eating fat can make you lean.
Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which keeps blood sugar better regulated. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. The right fats also increase fat burning, cut your hunger and reduce fat storage.
8. Your brain is about 60 percent fat.
Of that percentage, the biggest portion comes from the omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The right fats can improve your mood, skin, hair and nails, while protecting you against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer and much more.
Dr Hyman’s favorite sources of fat include:
The take-home here is that most of your fat-cell biology is controlled by the quality and type of the food you eat.
That’s why I recommend that my weight loss clients eat a quality fat, whole-food diet that’s lower in refined carbohydrates, and high in fiber.
This is how I eat too.
Hear Dr. Mark Hyman tell it like it is in his own words.
If you want to lose weight and improve your health, let’s talk.
You can schedule your free, no-nonsense Strategy Call right here.
Fear of fat making you fat is a waste of time and energy. So let’s clear up your thinking and tell yourself a different story supported by metabolic science.