One of the greatest myths told by the food and health community in the past century is that eating fat will make you fat. Yet many people on low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets struggle with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So, if low-fat diets don’t equal lower body fat, have we all been fooled into believing that fat will make us fat?
In the past, nutrition scientists have used the ketogenic diet (a very high fat, low carb diet) for its value in reducing epileptic seizures. Since the turn of the century, researchers have more vigorously studied the relationship between the fat on your fork with the fat on your hips (and in your liver, around your organs, and on your thighs too).
The jury is in: the fat on your hips is not due to the fat you put between your lips.
In other words, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Interestingly, current science shows that body fat has a positive relationship with the amount of carbohydrate (and to some extent, protein) that you eat. We each have a unique threshold for how many carbohydrates we can tolerate before carbs become a burden on our system.
In the last 100 plus years, the quality of carbohydrates has decreased and yet the quantity our society consumes has increased. This abundance of carbohydrates is constantly available and makes it too easy to overconsume copious amounts of poor-quality carbohydrates quickly. It is largely due to this change in the quality and quantity of carbohydrates that explains the current epidemic of obesity, diabetes and accelerated aging our society is now experiencing. While other factors contribute to this epidemic, I want to emphasize the food component since we have all seemed to be conditioned to fear fat.
Through my research, I have come to understand that this fat phobia must be addressed so we can take back our health. We have the tools to live a better life and it is my passion to help you discover this!
Rev your Metabolism: Eat Fat to Burn Fat
Your levels of insulin and glucagon determine whether you burn or store extra fat.
When you start your car, you use a battery to spark the system. Think of that spark as your carbohydrate. It’s functional but not necessarily durable. Cars are designed to burn gasoline, a fat. You fill your car with gas since it’s built to burn gas, and your car then runs on gas. Likewise, your body was designed to run optimally on fat, not on liberal amounts of carbohydrates.
Even with improvements in electric cars, you can still get much farther on a tank of fat than you can on the “carb” battery. Take the analogy further – imagine if in the trunk of your car, you carried several containers of gas and you must travel a very long distance. You would definitely prefer to burn gas because you know it is the sustainable option. Likewise, fat burning in the human body is an ancient metabolic ability likely adapted to times of long fasting periods throughout history. Luckily, the current research shows that the same science is as true today as it has always been. Except now, fortunately, we don’t have to fast but we still have the opportunity to reap its evolutionary protective benefits if we choose to include it in our lifestyle.
Furthermore, an ability to burn fat for fuel seems to be the preferred therapy for modern diseases impacting metabolic function such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. For example, a person with type 2 diabetes will fare better on a high-fat diet to reduce fasting blood sugar and insulin. Yet, the irony is that the current treatment protocol is to provide people with diabetes moderate to large portions of carbohydrates while decreasing fat. Clearly, the science doesn’t support this thinking which is why so many people with insulin resistance continue to be placed on medications like insulin or Metformin.
A low fat, high carbohydrate diet doesn’t work.
Turn the switch to fat-burning on to turn insulin and inflammation “off.” Eat fat, get healthy and don’t be fooled ever again!
Your Body Possesses The Wisdom To Self- Regulate
Your body knows what fuels it has available both due to hormones (chemical messengers) and because as blood circulates through your liver, it notes how much fat and sugar is present. When we eat carbohydrate or protein, a hormone called insulin is released. Insulin tells the body to insulate and to use or store what we eat. Without spiking insulin to encourage fat storage, you will burn fat, especially if you consume fat. Fat is the only fuel we eat that does not raise insulin. Less insulin release, less weight gain, less risk for disease and aging.
In other words, if you eat fat, you will burn fat, and you won’t get fat. When and how much carbohydrate and protein you consume will determine what your body does with the fat you eat and the fat it makes by itself in your liver.
Build your Body: Choose High-Quality Fats
The majority of your brain is fat. Much of which is omega-3 polyunsaturated and saturated fat. The outer membrane of every cell in your body is largely comprised of monounsaturated fat alongside saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, ceramides, and cholesterol. Because you use fats to both build and fuel your body, it is important to eat a diversity of fats from high-quality sources. Fats can be easily oxidized or damaged (otherwise known as “going rancid”). The more unsaturated a fat is, the more easily it is damaged by heat, light, oxygen, and other free radicals. If you consume fats that are damaged or susceptible to damage, you invite inflammation and build poor quality cells that make up your body. Some fats are more stable than others due to higher levels of potent antioxidants, or the presence of saturated fatty acids, as well as the care used during the extraction process.
Avoid damaging the fats you consume:
- Choose a relatively stable fat. This includes most saturated fats (like coconut), some monounsaturated fats (like tea seed or olive oil), and a handful of polyunsaturated fats (like sesame).
- Keep fats in a cool place – preferably the fridge.
- Store fats in a dark glass or metal container.
- Choose smaller containers with less oxygen circulating inside them.
- Know the smoke point (320 degrees for olive oil, for instance) of any fat you use and do not heat beyond that temperature.
By choosing high-quality fats that nurture you, you can manage your weight and support every cell in your body. Check out some of my favorite high-quality, stove-stable fats and how to use them in my book, Glow15!