Does Fat Make You Fat? (Busting Fat Myths)Lisanne Wellness Center
“Fat makes you fat!”
It sounds like it makes sense, which is why it’s so appealing.
In fact, it’s so appealing that in 1976 when the Senator from South Dakota took the floor in Congress to talk about the dangers of fat in our diets, everyone listened. Especially since he was backed up by a Harvard University professor. At the time, food scientists knew of the dangers posed by saturated fats and high-LDL levels, and heart disease was a significant threat: eight senators died in office from a heart attack in the 60s and 70s. The economy was flourishing, America had a strong middle class, and the “meat and potatoes” diet was a staple in American dining rooms.
This argument led to the first official set of dietary guidelines for Americans. And since all fat was lumped into the same category, fat was off the menu. Many American food suppliers saw an opportunity: remove the fat from beloved foods and watch them fly off the shelf. Unfortunately, when they replaced the fat, they added in sugar. This time in our history, when much of the country was consuming high amounts of sugar and carbs and running en masse from fat, is largely credited as the start of the obesity and diabetes epidemic. This fat myth was the most damaging misunderstanding about food in our collective history.
Fortunately, nutritionists and doctors have had a lot more time to research the effects of fat on the body, as well as how the body uses fat, and we now know that fat does not, in fact, make you fat. Fat, as it happens, can sometimes help you stay trim and healthy. It just depends on the kind of fat you’re talking about and whether it’s a healthy fat or an unhealthy fat.
Why We Need Fat:
Fats are vital components of a healthy diet. They keep our skin and nails healthy, our hair soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and provide sustained energy throughout the day. Fat even plays a crucial role in heart health. As a rule, you should be getting 25%-35% of your calories from healthy fats.
Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats
So, how do you tell the good fats from the bad fats? First, you need to distinguish between bad fats (trans fats) and good fats (unsaturated fats and some saturated fats). Unsaturated fats include two types: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils) help lower triglyceride levels. One of the best forms of polyunsaturated fats is omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and other fatty fish. Monounsaturated fats come from olive oil and avocados. These fats are usually liquid at room temperature and solid if refrigerated. Monounsaturated fats are often credited for warning off heart disease. With saturated fat, you need to be more selective. While some saturated fats (like coconut oil) have been repeatedly linked with positive health results and weight loss, others (like bacon and butter) can lead to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. To get the most out of these good fats, add a half an avocado to your lunchtime salad and half a piece of salmon for dinner. You can also take a supplement like MCT Oil or Coconut Oil.
Then, you have the bad fats, aka trans fats. Trans fats are typically found in commercial baked goods like donuts, cakes, and cookies. Doctors recommend keeping these fats to less than 7% of your diet, though eliminating them completely is preferable.
Fat is not the enemy. In fact, if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, fat is one of your very best friends. But just like you should choose your friends carefully, you should also be picky about your fats. For more information about healthy fats and to bust this fat myth further, contact Lisanne Wellness Center at 713-461-WELL. To create a healthy meal plan with healthy fats and protein in your diet schedule an individual nutrition consultation with our experts.