For decades, fat was perceived as “the enemy.” Low-fat diets were all the rage, and nutritionists, dieticians, and fitness experts recommended cutting back on fat. Some diets went so far as to try to totally eliminate fats, promoting a high-carb intake with plant-based proteins. All the while, they couldn’t understand why the average American kept on gaining weight…
Thankfully, recent scientific studies (dozens of them, in fact) discovered that fat is actually GOOD for your health. Not only is it vital for proper body function, but it plays a role in weight loss, fat-burning, and fitness.
Fat has always been a staple of my diet, and I’ve found it works wonders for me. Below, I’ll look at why I eat fat and how it benefits me. By the time you reach the end of this article, you may be ready to add more fat—but the right kind!—into your diet as well.
Fat is one of the three macronutrients (along with carbs and protein) that make up the majority of our diets. It’s higher in calories than the other two macronutrients, as it’s a much denser food than protein or carbs.
There are two reasons fats were perceived as bad:
However, let’s examine why neither of these are actually bad:
High calorie content. Calories aren’t bad—they’re simply a measure of energy. They only become problematic when you consume too many. Fat, if consumed in moderation, delivers the energy your body needs.
But here’s the kicker: it’s slow-release energy. Your body burns through carbs quickly, but it takes longer to break down and absorb the denser fats. Instead of a rush of energy all at once (common with carbs, which leads to a blood sugar spike), fats give a steady stream of energy that lasts for hours. This prevents high blood sugar levels, which in turn prevents excess body fat storage.
Heart disease and fat. The fat that clings to the arterial walls is the same structure as saturated fat, but did you know that dietary fat WILL NOT raise your heart disease risk? The body breaks down and uses saturated fat.
The real problem is hydrogenated oils and trans fats, which have a similar molecular structure with hydrogen added into the mix. This makes it difficult for the body to use, leading to more fat molecules floating around the bloodstream. Good fats won’t increase your heart disease risk.
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What is “good” fat, and what separates it from the “bad” fat?
Good fat is unsaturated fats, both poly and monounsaturated fats. These are found in plant-based foods, like olives, coconuts, avocadoes, nuts, and seeds. Saturated fat, which comes from animal proteins, is also a good fat if consumed in moderation.
Bad fat includes trans fats and hydrogenated oils, which your body is unable to process. The inability to utilize these fats means there are larger particles floating around your bloodstream, which can lead to a higher risk of arterial clogs.
Stick with the “good fats”, and eliminate the bad fats from your diet as much as possible!
But what about all those “low fat” diet foods? If fat is good for our health, why are these foods so popular?
Simple: it’s antiquated thinking!
“Low fat” foods were highly popular during the days when fat was perceived as the enemy, and people are slow in changing their mindset. These diet foods will continue to be popular until everyone is educated on the truth of how healthy fats are.
Warning: low fat foods can actually be worse for your health than you’d think! Not only do they contain more sugar (used to make the foods taste good after the fats are removed), but they are also more processed and artificial than whole-fat foods. For example, skim milk contains more lactose (milk sugar) than whole fat milk.
Stick with whole-fat foods, but consume in moderation!
Yes, fat is good for you, but you still need to make sure not to overeat. For a healthy body, it is recommended to consume roughly 15 to 25% of your daily calories from fat. That means 300 to 500 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet. The rest should come from protein (20 to 30%) and whole, complex carbs (35 to 45%).
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