We could all take some advice from Rachel in Season 3 of FRIENDS when she tells Ross to drink the fat. More or less, anyway. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the millions of Americans that have heard for years and years that fatty foods will make you fat. Don’t worry, I believed it too. Afterall, it was literally all we heard from the big guys in the Diet Industry, on commercials on TV, and even at doctors’ offices. While eating too much fat, could cause weight gain and other health problems, eating some high-quality fats as a part of your diet is a very good thing.
The sugar industry has spent a LOT of money and time making us think that fat is the problem, not sugar.
I am not here to recommend that you do or do not follow any diet plan, health challenge, or cut out any specific foods. However, if we take a look at some of the weight loss programs and dietary recommendations out there (you know who they are) every prescribed diet recommends limited sugar intake. Slowly but surely, sugar has become the common denominator of dietary recommendations.
Some programs still promote fake sugar as the loophole, but let’s not fall for that one. Consumption of artificial sugar comes with a whole host of issues. Once upon a time, I had a diet coke habit. I thought because it was low-calorie and 0 grams of sugar, I was safe. Don’t be fooled though.
If you’re replacing artificial sugar with the real stuff, you’re likely to suffer even more consequences than the other way around. Ok ok, Mom, turns out you were right on this one.
Sugar is a sneaky little bastard these days. Food labels often have a whole list of bizarre foods on them. Sugar, in its purest form is rarely used in foods these days. Instead, food companies disguise sugar under different names. Some of the other names and types of sweeteners in foods and beverages include sucrose, dextrose, fructose, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, stevia, corn sweetener, corn syrup and fruit juice, just to name a few.
This didn’t happen overnight, but I am happy to see that even the promoters of Frankenfood are starting to deter people from eating their body weight in sugar. Research suggests that a diet rich in natural fats like nuts and seeds, avocados, and even animals fasts can actually help you lose weight. If you want to read some more of the science behind all of this, I recommend you read Eat Fat, Get Thin by Dr. Mark Hyman or It Starts With Food by Melissa Hartwig.
If you’re still not buying what I’m selling, let’s consider a few things:
- Let’s take for example the case of yogurt. Pick up a container of low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt and a container of the full-fat version. Guess what makes the lower fat ones not taste like a shoe? Sugar. Whether it says sugar, dextrose, corn syrup, cane sugar, fructose, or even fruit juice, it’s in there nine times out of ten. The proof is in the pudding on this one… er… yogurt. Skip the sugar-packed one and snag something with at least 2% milk fat if you want all the benefits (see below mentioned vitamin absorption)
- Did you know that many of the nutrients we eat or take in pill form are only absorbed if you have fat in your diet? Specifically, Vitamins A, D, K, and E are Fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins are essential for overall health and immunity. Insufficient amounts of fat intake can very easily lead to deficiencies in these essential vitamins.
- Eating a diet rich in healthy fats (yes, quality matters here) like nuts and seeds, healthy oils, coconut, MCT oil, ghee or grass-fed butter, full-fat dairy, and high-quality meats is proven to keep you fuller longer. Eating a serving or two of fat (think the size of your thumb) at every meal will help you make healthier food choices throughout the day. I am not a proponent of avoiding sugary foods all together for your entire life, but I know firsthand that eating healthy fats is correlated to fewer sugar cravings.
- A diet rich in healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. They also serve as protective factors in illnesses like alzheimer’s disease, chronic inflammation, and other neurological disorders. A recent documentary demonized the consumption of some animal products and meats claiming just the opposite. The more digging I did after seeing that documentary, the more I learned that people will believe anything if it looks attractive.
- Let’s not ignore the fact that fat tastes pretty damn good. It would be hard to deny that an apple doesn’t taste just a smidge better with a serving of almond butter. I roast veggies in a small dose of olive oil, I use avocado oil to make homemade mayo and dressings, and ghee fried eggs are sometimes the entire reason I get out of bed in the morning.
So, why all the misinformation out there? Well, simply stated, it’s because messages with lots of money behind the scenes are heard more loudly and more frequently than truth sometimes. This science is not new. Even though we no longer live in the Sahara and hunt for our food every day, we still have to battle traffic jams, train for marathons, and go to work for 10 hours a day. Our bodies need proper fuel to accomplish these things each day.
Small changes make a big difference. I am not recommending that you go plop a dollop of oil into your coffee tomorrow or eat a heaping spoonful of coconut butter if that’s not your jam.
Think first and foremost about quality. Is there room for improvement in the quality of saturated animal fats you consume? Could you add a little olive oil onto that salad at lunch? Maybe add a tablespoon or two of nut butter to your smoothie? The point is, fear the fat no more friends, it’s here to stay and NOT here to fatten us up.