Fat and Why We Need It

Several years ago the word was put out that since fats were more than twice as calorically dense in calories as carbs and proteins, they were the evil culprits that were driving the new epedemic of obesity. Since carbs and proteins only have four calories per gram and fats contain nine calories per gram, then it should be only obvious that we should begin eating a low fat or even zero fat diet to fight the battle of the bulging waist lines.

Now, here we are in 2019 with an over abundance of low fat and fat free products available to us and people are fatter than we have ever been in history. Is it possible that such a simple concept that fats are making us fat was too simplistic and totally wrong? You bet your bottom dollar that simplistic thinking has driven our nation, and others to a point where the populations of obese or over weight individuals is rapidly surpassing the populations of people at healthy body fat levels. Listen up, eating fats is not your sole problem if you are obese. Your problem is from eating added simple sugars in damn near everything on the shelves in our grocery stores, and you are eating far too many calories for your activity level. All that aded sugar does not keep your appetite satiated. To the contrary, that sugar drives you to wanting to eat more all the time. If you look at the ingredient labels of the foods you consume regularly, you will find that even if you are not one to munch on sweet treats all the time, you can still be consuming as much sugar in your processed foods as if you are feeding a sweet tooth. Simple sugars spike your insulin and blood sugar levels. Simple sugars create inflammation in your body and are largely responsible for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease and even cancers. The difference between simple sugars, or simple carbs in your diet and complex carbs, is simple carbs with the exception of fruit, do not come with a fiber component which slows, and controls the absortion of sugar into your bloodstream. Again, fats are not the sole cause of your weight problems, your problem is that you are eating too many simple carbs and too many calories. The bad thing that happened with the low fat and fat free craze is that we also cut out healthy fats as we increased the amounts of sugar in our foods in order to make them taste better without fat.

Your weight loss , or management truly is a matter of calories in verses calories expended. You can go to our Calorie Calulator in our menu to find out just how many calories your body requires based on your Basal Metabolic Rate. Simply enter your personal information; age, gender, weight, activity level and the rate of loss you would desire or the amount of calories you need for maintenance. All of this information is entirely private and you can get even get your report emailed to you or you can download it as a PDF file on your computer. No one, not even myself as an administrator will ever know your personal information, it is entirely safe.

What are fats and why do you need them?

Contrary to popular myth, fats are not something that just automatically search out and then cling to your own body fat cells after you have consumed them. The consumption of healthy fats are not going to clog your arteries nor will they cause your cholesterol to rise. The consumption of healthy fats is neccesary as they are a major source of energy. They help your body to absorb vitamins and minerals. They are needed in order for your body to build cell membranes which are the vital exterior of each cell. Fats are essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. Of course, for long term health, some fats are better than others. For example, industrial made trans fats are not any good for you, and some saturated fats are not the best for you either, but do not pose too many problems as long as you are maintaining a healthy body fat percentage by not consuming more calories than you need. (1)

We know trans fats are obviously bad, but what about saturated fats?

A diet rich in saturated fats has been linked to high total cholesterol, with an emphasis on the bad LDL which can cause blockages to occur in arteries and elsewhere in the body. For this reason, most nutritionist recommend not exceeding ten percent of your daily calories from saturated fats. Common sources of saturated fats include red meat, whole milk and other whole dairy foods, cheese, coconut oil and many commercial baked goods and other foods. The key to maintaining good health when consuming foods that contain saturated fats is to use moderation. Of course, moderations is key to everything when it comes to maintaining good health. You will find saturatedfats to be solid at room temperature.

Trans fats are bad, saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. What fats should we be eating?

You want to be consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for good health. These healthy fats come from vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. They differ from saturated fats as they are liquid at room temperature. When you hear someone who has deemed themselves a nutritional expert, raising a fuss about how fattening the dressing that you are pouring over your salad might be, check your ingredients. If the dressing contains olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocado, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils, politely go on about your business and educate them on how these monounsaturated fats are healthy to eat. These fats are beneficial and no you would not be better off to just go ahead and eat a Mickey D’s value meal. News flash, healthy fats poured over a nutritious salad is a excellent choice of food. It is the sugar laden fat free dressings that are crap for your diet. People in Mediterranean countries are known to eat diets high in monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, and they also have a low rate of heart disease.

When we pour cooking oils into a pan, the odds are that you are using a polyunsaturated fat. Corn oil, sunflower oil and safflower oils are common examples.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. They are required for normal body functions, yet your body does not produce them. You must get these fats from food sources. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation. (1)

There are two main types of polynsaturated fats: omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids Both types offer up health benefits as the the consumption of them in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates reduces harmful LDL cholesterol and improves your cholesterol profile while also lowering triglycerides. Good sources of omega 3 fatt acids include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines as well as flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and unhydrogenated soybean oil (1)

Omega 3 fatty acids may help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke. In addition to reducing blood pressure, raising HDL, and lowering triglycerides. It has been found that polyunsaturated fats may help prevent lethal heart rythms from arising (1) and also may help reduce the need for corticosteroid medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Omega 3’s are also linked to reucing the risk of dementia according to studies.

Omega 6 fatty acids have been liked to protection against heart disease. Foods rich in linoleic acid and other omega 6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower walnut and corn oils.

But fried foods are horrible for us, right?

Yes and no. There are a few things to consider with fried foods. If they are good or bad is dependent on what kind of fat you are using and how much. If you are using a small amount of a healthy fat to cook or sear a food in a skillet, then you are going to be just fine. If you are frying in lard or bacon grease and breading the food, then you are not making such a healthy choice.

Also bear in mind your total caloric intake. Fats are 120 calories per tablespoon. You can use a small amount of a healthy oil to cook with while not ramping up your total calories too badly. However, if you bread a food and use a lot of oil, then you can easily find yourself exceeding your caloric needs for the day as the breading can soak up a lot of oil.

Let’s say you are using olive oil, your problem at this point is not the type of oil, your issue is the amount may cause you to exceed your caloric needs which can promote obesity. One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories. If you reduce your daily calories by 500 below what your basal metabolic rate requires to maintain your body fat, then you will lose 1 pound of body fat in a week. If you exceed your daily caloric needs by 500 per day, you can expect that you will gain 1 pound of body fat in a week. This is why it is critical if you are interested in losing or maintaining your level of body fat, that you track everything you consume. Too many calories will make you fat, and just because grams of fat are higher in calories than grams of carbs and protein, it does not mean you should skip the fat. No, you need to eat in moderation and be aware of everything that passes your lips.

(1) Harvard Health

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