This is one of the great paradoxes of the world.
Wait, what? Doesn’t fat make you fat? No, it simply does not. Healthy fats are one of the best things to eat. The predominant profile of obesity and weight gain is insulin resistance, higher blood sugar, and high caloric consumption, something which is often called Diabesity in its more severe form. Fat intake usually has little to do with health or weight control. As a matter of fact, not eating enough fat is as bad as too little.
Good fats have several key benefits which might improve your health, and improve your ability to control the insulin response and thus lose and control weight. Even though fat has 9 calories per gram, whereas carbs and protein only have 4 calories per gram, fat is still an important part of a weight control program. Calories are important, but focus on prioritizing healthy fats, and it will be easier to control how much you eat. On a personal note, I am always amazed for how long I can feel full (4-5 hours) by eating a handful of nuts.
The Best Types of Fats
- In general, try to avoid excess saturated fat, which is animal fat. A little bit won’t hurt you, but overall, eat less. The studies are somewhat inconsistent but it seems to raise LDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease. *Cocunut oil contains lauric acid and may be metabolized slightly different and studies show it could be good for you, even though it contains significant saturated fat.
- The bottom line about animal / saturated fat, is that it is unclear, but likely has negative health consequences. Healthy fat tastes good, and is good for you, so focus on it.
- Dietary cholesterol is not highly related to cholesterol levels, but saturated fat is.
- Aim for no more than 10% of calories as saturated fat. In a 2000 calorie diet, this would be no more than 21 grams per day, which I believe is still too high. Aim for 10 grams or less in most cases.
- Total fat intake should be 20-35 % of calories for most people. On a 2000 Calorie diet, this would be 500-700 calories, or 55 to 77 grams per day.
- Never consume “Trans” fats. They are still out there on shelves and they are the worst thing you could possibly eat, causing inflammation and raising LDL significantly. They are usually hidden in processed foods, baked goods, cakes, and cookies.
- Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids can’t be produced by the body but are needed for health. The 2 types of fat, which contain these and other essential nutrients which you want to consume are:
Key Sources of Healthy Fats
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oils
- Whole Eggs
- Nuts & Seeds
- Fatty Fish- Salmon, Sardines
- Seed butters
- Edamame / Tofu
- Limited amounts of saturated fat from grass-fed, local meats, organic dairy
Key Benefits of Healthy Fats
- Eating healthy fat makes you feel full, and could help you eat less.
- Improve HDL cholesterol
- Nerve and joint health
- Improved insulin control
- Decreased inflammation
- Better brain function & focus
- Decreased ADHD
- Less blood clotting and a dilation of the blood vessels
- Potentially lower blood pressure
Just like nuts, which I wrote about being so good for you, fats are too! Enjoy them to help you eat less overall. Be smart and don’t overdo it, but they really will help you cut back on high-calorie junk foods and they are a real pleasure to eat.
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