What is Nutrition Part Three- Fat

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I was never much of a dieter. I did a low fat diet once or twice in my life but that was it. I tried to lose a few pounds to fit in to a bridesmaid dress so I ate an extremely low fat diet and exercised.  I found myself becoming obsessed with what I ate so that whole diet lasted about a week before I decided that was not a path I wanted to go down. I love food and I hate exercise. Cutting fat out of my diet and counting calories meant I was eating a lot of carbohydrates and hungry all the time. I was miserable.  It took me many years after that wedding to figure out how to eat so my body was satisfied. 

I fell for the “saturated fat is bad for you” talk and “eat rice cakes with jelly on them” if you want a snack. Oh boy. My body was not happy for many years.  Eating like that made me HANGRY (hungry + angry) a lot. I would get to the point where I couldn’t even think straight. One time while camping with friends I got so Hangry I threw our lawn chairs across our campsite. I have yet to live that one down and it was more than 20 years ago.  I got shaky and light headed and couldn’t think straight. All because I didn’t eat enough fat and my body didn’t know how to burn it properly. I was a carbaholic for years. It has only been in the last year that I have really been able to use fat for energy. I went really low carb and high fat and that wasn’t good for me either. I ended up with low blood sugar because I wasn’t eating enough and I wasn’t eating enough good carbs. A whole bag of potoato chips at one time is NOT a good source of carbs- I might as well have eaten a candy bar. So I have significantly upped my consumption of veggies while still eating protein and fat. I eat a lot of fat. At least 1 avocado a day and my food is cooked in bacon fat, lard, tallow or coconut oil. I have at least a tablespoon of olive oil on my salad every day too. With all this fat, based on what we are told in the mainstream, you would think my cholesterol is outrageously high. It is 199 overall. Not too bad. 

There has been much talk lately about fat in the modern diet. For years we have been told to consume a low fat diet and that fat is bad for you- saturated fat in particular. While some folks are coming around, it has been known for years in the scientific community that the right kinds of fat are good for you for A LOT of reasons. Remember that article from June 2014 in Time Magazine? Butter was on the cover!  Yes. Butter is not only good but it is actually good for you. It will not clog your arteries AND it will make your food taste really good. In fact, you actually need some fat on your veggies in order to assimilate the nutrients in those veggies when you digest them. 

Our body is composed of about 15% fat. You need fat for so many reasons including optimal health.

Why is fat so good for us?

  • It is a long burning source of energy like a log on a fire
  • Your cells and hormones need fat to work properly
  • You can’t use your protein properly with out fat
  • Eating fat helps to manage your blood sugar
  • It helps your body manage inflammation throughout the body

There are three classifications for fat:  saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated

  • SATURATED: stable fats, solid at room temp, found in animals and tropical oils, best for cooking with especially at higher temperature
  • MONOUNSATURATED: somewhat stable, liquid at room temp, found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts like almonds, peanuts, pecans and cashews
  • POLYUNSATURATED: unstable, rancidify easily, essential to the body (meaning we must get it                    from our diet), never should be heated or cooked with, found in flax, nuts, fish and seeds

ALL FATS AND OILS ARE A COMBINATION OF THESE THREE KINDS OF FAT. Whichever of the three fats is highest in concentration determines the label put on the fat. 

How much fat do you need in a day?

It depends on the person but a general guideline is around 30% of your calories should be from high quality fats.  

What kind of fat should I eat?

Fish oil, sesame oil, palm oil, coconut oil, butter, lard/tallow/duck fat from pastured animals, olive oil and avocados. 

What kind of fat should I avoid?

Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, “vegetable” oils such as canola (see a video here on how it is made but ignore the voice telling you how healthy it is because it is not healthy for you.), corn and soybean oil.   Your body doesn’t actually recognize these as food. They are toxic and keep the good fats from being able to do their job. 

The kind and amount of fat you consume is important to help your body manage inflammation as I said before. We also need it to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and keep our liver and gallbladder functioning well. If you don’t have a gallbladder you must supplement your diet with bile salts in order to digest fats and assimilate them. You may not be able to handle large amounts of fat in your diet either. 

What should I look for when buying fats/oils?

  • cold pressed/expeller pressed (NOT cold processed- that’s a trick)
  • unrefined
  • organic
  • extra virgin

Remember, fat does not make you fat. You can actually lose weight consuming a fairly high amount of healthy fats in your day to day diet as long as you do it the right way. For more information on how to do that, contact me for a free consultation. 

Here is a link to a recipe for a good fat snack from my friends and T + W. Enjoy.