Fats, Facts, and Fiction
I like to think I’m not the only one who is being consistently told by the media that everything I’m eating is right, wrong or lacking enough evidence to make a decision at all. Sadly, the majority of these opinions seem to be focused around one particular macronutrient: fats.
There are low fat diets, “bad” fats, fat free everything, and a monstrosity of infomercials advertising to “lose fat now”! Would this be the same case if there was a food group called skinnies? Well let’s save that title for our jeans and look at the facts and fiction of fats.
FACT: Fats are good for brain health.
Our brains are composed of 60% fat. Fueling the brain with fat encourages ketosis, which provides energy to the brain and helps protect against brain disease. Diets high in monounsaturated fats have also been linked to increased production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in learning and memory. (1*)
FICTION: Fats cause heart disease.
False! In fact, this seems to be entirely the opposite! Omega-3 Fatty Acids may actually reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. They are believed to decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, and keep your heart healthy. (2*)
FACT: Fats will help keep you satiated.
Have you ever eaten a fat-free snack and felt satisfied? How about ONE 100-calorie pack? There are plenty of internet memes documenting the feeling of “Five 100-calorie packs later”. Most of these snacks are highly processed and void of nutritional value. This in turn skyrockets your blood sugar, only to crash and burn shortly thereafter. To put it simply, fats slow down digestion and consequently keep you fuller longer.
FACT: You need to eat fat to burn fat.
Sounds like an oxymoron right? Wrong! Purely eating “low fat” oftentimes means eating empty carbs. These carbohydrates increase your levels of insulin and raise blood sugar, instructing your cells to absorb and store. Replacing these empty carbohydrates with healthy fats can lower overall insulin levels and allow your body to more readily access fat stores for energy. It will also permit fat to enter and fuel your muscles. (3*)
FICTION: Fat will make you fat.
Fat does NOT make you fat. Excess calories of any kind will lead to weight gain. Sure, fats are richer in calories than carbs & protein, (9cal vs. 4cal per gram), but as mentioned before, they keep you fuller longer. This means they can actually help you lose weight by decreasing hunger.
FACT: There are plenty of healthy sources of fat!
Diets high in monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, MCTs (as found in coconut), and omegas (as found in fish) can provide numerous health benefits to any lifestyle. Fats keep us full, they keep us focused, and let’s be honest they’re totally delicious. Here are a few of my favorite fats to keep you slinky in your skinnies!
Smashed avocado on toast or rice thins
Nut butter & fresh fruit
Handful of almonds/peanuts/pistachios or trail mix
Hummus & veggies for dipping
Flax & chia seeds sprinkled on oatmeal or smoothies
Fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel (good source of omega-3s)
Olive oil drizzled on salads or pasta
Hilary’s Eat Well Veggie Burgers (good source of MCTs)
Now that we know our fats, facts and fictions, remember never to fear the fats!
For continued reading, here’s another great article: 3 Healthy Ways To Improve Brain Function Without Coffee