Some of you may roll your eyes at this title but you would truly be shocked at the number of fat phobic people we still have roaming our streets and the truth is that like everything else this is a complicated topic that deserves it’s moment in the spotlight.
A couple of details to get out of the way - one, is that excess carbohydrates are stored by your body as…fat. Second is that dietary cholesterol for the vast majority of people does not affect your serum cholesterol levels (cholesterol deserves its own post). Third and final is that eating good fat as part of a balanced diet will not make you fat whereas a fat free diet could well lead to excess weight and a variety of other imbalances - just take a look at what’s going on South of the border.
Let me say this again - if you make the right choices fat is not bad. As a matter of fact the right fats are critical to optimal health and energy - consider that:
• your brain is 60% fat,
• every nerve in your body is wrapped in a myelin sheath which is for the most part - fat.
• Every cell in your body is enveloped by a cell membrane that relies on cholesterol and phospholipids to be flexible, permeable (let the good stuff in and the waste out). Plus, it is the fat in those cell membranes that allows cells to communicate with each other.
• Fat stores account for a vast reserve of energy which, can fuel the loooong workouts far better than sugar ever will.
• Fat helps with body temperature regulation
• You need fat to absorb fat soluble vitamins - A, D, E & K
• Finally Fat is considered an organ as your body fat produces hormones like leptin (appetite regulation), adiponectin (insulin sensitivity) and even estrogen.
Another interesting fact about fat is that we now know that we have 5 (!) different types of fat in our body:
• Brown Fat (the best as it burns white fat - babies have the most, and lean people)
• White Fat (the stuff we often want to get rid of)
• Subcutaneous Fat - lies just under the skin and looks like those cute baby dimples and less cute adult ones
• Visceral Fat - lives deep in the body and surrounds organs - a little is ok but it is this fat that has been linked to insulin resistance, increased risk of dementia, heart disease etc…
• Belly Fat - nobody wants this stuff - it is linked to metabolic disease, insulin resistance, heart disease and stroke risk. General guidelines (and these are very general) are that women want to aim for a waist size less than 35” while men ideally should come in at less than 40”.
By now you should be getting the idea that you want fat in your life but only the right kind and in the right amounts. You should also know that there is a lot we still don’t know about fat - it is an active area of research but luckily for us even scientists are finally coming around on the value of good fats in the optimal diet. Here are some guidelines based on what is known to help you make the best decisions you can when deciding what fats to eat, which ones to avoid and some idea of the factors that can affect how much you should be targeting to consume.
The BEST fats:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin and Cold pressed Coconut Oil
Grass fed Butter and Ghee
Fat from Grass Fed Beef and cold water fish (omega 3)
Egg Yolks from Pastured Chickens
Cacao Butter (organic)
Bone Marrow from GF Cows
Avocado and avocado Oil
Moderate Fats (go easy on these)
Bacon Fat from Pastured Pigs
Nuts and Seeds and their butters - mostly good but high in omega 6 so go easy
The WORST Fats: Avoid these as much as possible
Vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola, “vegetable” oil, peanut, cottonseed)
Fat from sick animals (feedlot beef, chickens etc…)
Heated nuts and seeds oils (they will oxidize and become toxic)
Any deep fried food - yes that includes everything deep fried tempura to poutine….just avoid it whenever possible. Sometimes you must, I get it but make it the exception rather than the rule.
Factors that can affect how much fat you should eat:
• your genetic makeup - yup, some people do better on a high fat diet than others BUT everyone needs some good fat in their diet. I would say that for most people the low end should be somewhere around 35% of total intake split between saturated and unsaturated fat.
• If you have been relieved of your gallbladder then you may not be able to digest fat on your own - this does NOT mean you need a zero fat diet but rather that you could benefit from Ox Bile to help you break down the good fat that you do eat.
• There are certainly other health conditions that may make it hard for your body to process fats properly - in that case you may need to sit down with a health professional to sort out a strategy to at least get you what you need in a way that won’t cause you further harm or distress.
Know that while there is no one solution that will fit everyone most people are best served by a diet that is high in vegetables, moderate in protein and at least moderate in fat. As far as grains and legumes go, if you choose to include them apply the strategies and filters discussed in last week’s post on carbohydrates.
My parting gift to you - a recipe:
Avocado Chocolate Pudding enjoy….
This recipe makes 6 servings each delivering: 221 calories, 19 grams of fat, 8 grams of net carbs, 4 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar. Re Carb content – the carb count is actually 18 grams but of that, 10 grams are fibre so if you are counting carbs you want net carbs which is 18 grams minus 10 grams so total of 8 grams.
▪ 3/4 cups full fat coconut milk (Native Forest)
▪ 2 Avocados – ripe but not brown
▪ 1/2 cup raw unsweetened cacao powder
▪ 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
▪ 2 tablespoons Monk Fruit Sweetener (Luo Han Guo)
▪ 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
▪ 1 – teaspoons cinnamon (to taste)
▪ pinch of sea salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor except for the shredded coconut and blend till smooth. Add the coconut and blend just enough to mix in.
Chill before serving – serve topped with Nuts and seeds (I use the Grain Free Granola http://bit.ly/1Klempm ) but if you have none just sprinkle what you’ve got on hand with some extra cinnamon.
Next week….Fear of….Dirt!