The fact that some people are still afraid of eating fat completely baffles me. Have you been on the Internet at all in the past 10 years? It’s 2016. Not 1985. I don’t want to be too harsh here, but this issue seriously irks me. If you still believe that a low-fat diet is healthy, then you desperately need to get your facts straight ASAP. For the sake of your own health. I BEG YOU.
There are many many many books written by people much smarter than me about this topic, so if you’re interested in detailed information, definitely check those out. They’ll point you directly to all of the research and relevant scientific studies. They’ll also give a much more in-depth, well-rounded argument than I’m about to. Some of my favorites are Grain Brain, Always Hungry?, Eat Fat, Get Thin, and Perfect Health Diet. If you’re not interested in reading a book, then I will give you the simplified version right here.
Before we get into it, let’s be clear – I’m talking about healthy fats. Avocados, wild caught fish, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, egg yolks, and other healthy fats are essential in our diets. When I’m talking about fats in this post, I am definitely not referring to the unhealthy fats in processed junk food. We’re not talking about canola oil, soybean oil, Dreyer’s ice cream, or Chips Ahoy! cookies.
As previously stated, fat is essential in our diets. ESSENTIAL. Why? Fats are used to form the cell membranes of the cells in our bodies. ALL OF THE CELLS. That’s kinda a big deal. Did you know that at least 60% of your brain is made up of fats? If you’re smart, you probably want to protect and nourish your brain. It’s pretty important. Do you think it’s a good idea to deprive your brain of the nutrient it’s mostly comprised of?! Probably not.
Fats also help to regulate hormones, provide an efficient source of energy for our bodies, and support healthy immune function by controlling inflammation. If you want your body to actually absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K), then you need to have fats in your diet. Additionally, your body needs healthy fat in order to fully access protein sources to build muscle. Fats also slow food absorption, which helps to control blood sugar spikes and give us a constant source of energy.
Yes, it’s true that fat contains more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. However, that means that fat is more satiating than carbohydrates or protein. In the end, this helps curb your appetite, and the calorie difference doesn’t matter. Brain-imaging studies have shown that eating more fat actually turns off your brain’s hunger signals. For that reason, high-fat diets can actually be key in helping you lose weight.
More than that, it’s not as simple as calories in versus calories out. Our bodies and our metabolisms are more complicated than that. Not all calories are the same. Think about it – do you really think 100 calories of an avocado affects your body in the same way as 100 calories of a cookie?
Eating sugar spikes your insulin levels. Insulin is the fat-storing hormone. It tells all the fuel in your blood to go to your fat cells, which leads to fat storage, and then your brain tells you that you’re still hungry. When you exercise too much and excessively reduce your calories in order to lose weight, your body interprets that as, “I’m starving! I don’t have enough fuel! Enter starvation mode!” That slows down your metabolism and makes you even hungrier than before. When your body thinks it’s starving, it wants to immediately save any calories it gets as fat.
High-fat diets are correlated with a higher metabolism, which makes sense. High-fat diets don’t spike your blood sugar, but lots of carbs will. In studies where people eat the same amount of calories but those calories are either coming mostly from fats or from carbs, participants who were on high-fat diets burned more calories each day, had better cholesterol levels, and had balanced insulin levels compared to participants eating less fat.
Let’s talk about low-fat foods, a.k.a “diet” foods. In low-fat foods, the healthy fat is usually replaced with sugar, and THAT is what is going to make you fat! And really hungry. That’s why full-fat yogurt, milk, or anything else is always a better choice than the low-fat version, and it’s also why you should be paying attention to ingredients instead of calories. The sugar in low-fat products will spike your insulin levels and tell your body to save those calories as fat on your body. Fat, on the other hand, will not spike your blood sugar levels. It will satiate you, give you a nice, constant source of energy throughout the day, and will balance your blood sugar levels.
If you still don’t believe me after hearing the scientific explanation, I highly encourage you to look at photos of people who live high-fat lifestyles. They’re not fat. Am I fat?! I honestly feel like the more fat I eat, the harder it is for me to gain weight.
Healthy fats do not clog your arteries. They do not raise your cholesterol levels. They actually LOWER them. Eating healthy fats will improve your energy levels, make your hair shiny, improve your skin, help your brain function better, help you gain muscle, make your bones stronger…need I go on?
Eating fat not only improves your health but also makes your food taste amazing. Let’s be real, low-fat meals are not very tasty. Throw some coconut milk in your smoothie – it’ll make it creamier. Toss some nut butter on your oatmeal and your sweet potatoes. It tastes like dessert. EAT THE YOLKS – they’re delicious, and they contain a ton of important nutrients. Load up on the coconut oil – it’s a fat burner. How about cooking your food in ghee? There’s nothing like warm, buttery veggies. And what about meat? I promise you that a chicken thigh is way more satisfying than a chicken breast. A nice piece of grass-fed steak…NOM. SALMON?! It’s bomb. Fat means FLAVOR.
What I’m trying to get at is… DON’T FEAR FAT. If you’re afraid of fat, you’re way behind on the times. And you’re missing out on eating delicious food, boosting your metabolism, and reaping all of the other benefits of including a good amount of fat in your diet. It might seem too good to be true, but it really is that simple. You can eat fat. And you will thrive.