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A high intake of fat isn’t necessarily the problem when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating; in fact, it’s part of the solution. Fat that you eat in food is chemically and physically different than the fat that is stored in the body which we work so hard to minimize. Surprisingly, eating more fat instead of carbs can actually help you to lose body fat.

In addition, low-fat foods do not help make you skinny. Rather, diets low in fat and high in carbohydrates are actually used for intentional weight gain by sumo wrestlers. Those who eat a diet high in proper fats actually have been found to have significantly lower risk factors for heart disease, including lower blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight.

The Skinny on Fat

Fats protect the body by helping to promote proper function of the cells, keeping the body running smoothly at the microlevel. They also counter-intuitively boost the release of hormones which help to burn stored body fat. They help to facilitate the absorbtion of several essential vitamines and minerals, including several which cannot be properly processed without an adequate source of fat. In addition to their nutritional benefits, fats greatly enhance the flavor and appeal of foods, and produce a feeling of satiety which is much more complete and long-lasting than the fullness gained by carbs.

Processing fat has almost no impact on your blood glucose and insulin levels, unlike carbohydrates, which cause blood sugar levels to bounce all over the place. It also takes much longer to metabolize, which contributes to that deep and long-lasting satisfaction afterwards. Diets that are high in the best types of fat increase the levels of fat-burning horomones, which promotes the creation of lean muscle mass, prevents the breakdown of muscle, and contributes to the production of natural growth hormone. Growth hormone is a natural way to restore youth to the body’s appearance and function.

Coconut Oil and Other Short Chain Fats

Short chain fats, which include those found in coconut oil and other health fat sources, promote weight loss and have been linked conclusively with a decrease in overall body weight and blood triglyceride levels. This is an excellent example of the reality that your body is more truly formed by what you metabolize, not by what you eat. This is where the danger of carbs really comes into play, as carbs are metabolized as sugar and then stored as fat once digested. When carbs are restricted, the fats that you consume are able to be burned directly for energy, starting a positive cycle in motion rather than confusing the body’s blood sugar.

Since fat has more calories per gram than most other nutrients, it is easier to overeat when consuming fat, and this is something that should be carefully monitored. Also, if you consume more carbohydrates than your body can store in a day (around 100-150g), the body will begin storing fat instead of metabolizing it for energy. This means that you should still fill up on protein and vegetables first prior to a moderate amount of rich foods.

Saturated Fat May Not Be the Enemy

The long-standing recommendation to avoid saturated fat may not actually be based on good science, as it has never been conclusively proven to be detrimental to your health. Much of this knowledge is based on outdated information gathered in the 1950s. Though it may be suprising for many people raised under this mindset, healthily-sourced saturated fats contribute to lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and a lower risk of obesity.

In fact, the polyunsaturated fats common in industrial seed and vegetable oils may significantly contribute to health problems and weight gain. The reasoning for this is that these oils are chemically unstable compounds, which quickly undergo unhealthy changes when heated. In addition, they contain omega-6 fatty acids, which, contrary to their much-desired omega-3 cousins, are bad for your heart and waistline. Overconsumption of omega-6 oils is dangerous, as they are toxic in excess, creating a pro-inflammatory condition that may contribute to obesity, cardiovascular issues, arthritis, mental health problems, diabetes and cancer.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, are healthy fatty acids that occurs naturally in fish, grass-fed meats, eggs, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables. In stark contrast with their omega-6 relatives, these omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory agents, helping to distribute the food energy we consume throughout our bodies. They also contribute to the metabolism of fat by affecting body insulin levels.

The Over-Processing of Fats and Oils

Regardless of the chemical makeup of a fatty oil, the mechanical process itself can have highly negative effects on a food’s healthiness. Refined industrial oils may contain pesticides, solvents and other chemicals that are highly toxic to the body. In addition, those oils that are heated, chemically treated or overly processed may lose much of their health benefit. As a result, all processed oils should be avoided, including canola oil, corn oil, soy oil, cottenseed oil, safflower/sunflower oil and margarine, often the most processed of all.

Animal fats produced from animals raised in unhealthy conditions are no better, with the possibility of antibiotics, hormones and other chemical residues still left in the fat. Animals raised on an unhealthy diet or in poor living environments may produce low-quality meat that contains fewer valuable nutrients. Good fats are stable, resisting damage from oxygen exposure. Prior to the development of industrialized oil processing, humans consumed mostly saturated or mono-unsaturated fats from animal fats, coconut oil and olive oil. Other healthy fats for modern consumers include flaxseed oil, avacado oil, and fish oils.