We have believed in the eat-fat-get-fat doctrine for the longest time! But now it’s time to bust that myth.
Studies say fats may have a contrary effect and help us shed weight instead. It’s the carbohydrates, especially refined grains, sugars and chemicals from unhealthy fast foods and junk foods that have been linked to weight gain and obesity. Think Big Mac, Chicken Bucket and Oreo. Avoid them. But don’t go lean on the good guys – avocados, salmon and nuts.
Fats are great! Include them in your balanced diet and relish them!
How Fats are Processed in the Body
We all understand the concept of calories and the fact that calories we gain from fats are not any different from the calories we gain from proteins per se. That is to say, eating fat doesn’t make more fat in our body, just like eating more proteins doesn’t automatically create more tissue.
The human body is a sophisticated machine, and we have a pretty accurate mechanism in place to gauge what we intake. For example, when we consume foods that are packed with energy, we feel satiated and full sooner!
A constant consumption of junk foods and fast foods breaks this process. These foods are highly addictive. They override the internal calibration so we can consume more before we feel satiated. The sugar rush creates a craving for more sugar, and the vicious cycle continues.
Alternative to Fat
People usually get threatened by the idea of putting fats in their bodies. So, they cut-down. Perhaps, cutting down on its own would leave them with fewer problems. But they go ahead and compensate.
This compensatory behaviour is the real issue here! For example, compensating for fats by over-consuming unhealthy carbohydrates.
It is important to think about a balanced meal and the placement of fats in your meal. It is also important to learn a little about how foods are treated by the body, before jumping to conclusions or taking extreme actions.
In this regard, a cyclist or an athlete would require a fat and carb-rich diet that is sustaining, while, people with desk jobs, like you and me, would need to be more cautious about fat and carb intake. We’d also need to consider burning the calories we consume by exercising regularly.
Low Fat High Carb Vs. Low Carb High Fat
So, when we point our finger at fats or carbs, these are the two extremes people advocate – low-fat high-carb or low-carb high-fat. Neither is optimal.
We want sufficient nutrition from fats. While neither undermining nor over-evaluating its role. The same is true for carbs.
This is why I advocate moderation.
The Role of Fats in Bodily Functions
Fats are a preferred source of energy for the body. They are vital for our growth and development.
Fats play a significant role in the bodily functions – from clotting of blood to muscle movement and even in the building of cell membranes and protective coating around the nerves. They also help in the absorption of vitamins and minerals from our food.
Fats are so vital, in fact, that their deficiency has been known to cause diseases and impairments. Such as cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders and cardiovascular ailments.
The Good Fats
“Not all fats are created equal,” says the Harvard professor Frank B Hu on Nutrition. And he is right!
Saturated fats from meat and dairy products are considerably more harmful. While red meats contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can also cause inflammation, dairy products are common allergens.
Trans-fats are to be especially avoided. These fats naturally occur in some dairy products, veal, lamb and mutton. They get introduced to oils because of the manufacturing processes. Junk foods and fast foods are laden with trans-fats.
On the other hand, from fish, whole foods and nuts are tremendously healthy. Olive oil bolsters health and wellness, and coconut oil reduces inflammation.
Good Fats and Weight-loss
Good fats help burn fat! Yes, you read right!
When most of the fat you eat, and this portion can be as large as one-third of your total energy consumption, comes from unsaturated sources, you are sure to lose weight.
These foods pack-in a ton of nutrients. They raise the level of HDL (good) cholesterol and purge LDL (bad) cholesterol from the arteries, promoting heart health. And when you eat a portion of fat, you will feel satiated and full just about the time you should. What’s more?! Fats are relatively tedious to digest and stay in the digestive system for the longest time. This is why you continue to feel full even hours after your fat-rich meal!
Fat burns fat! Here’s how – Subcutaneous fat stored in the body’s peripheral tissue, around the belly, calf, thighs, and upper arms, cannot be burned efficiently without fat in the food to help the process. This fat you eat helps break down existing subcutaneous fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver!