If there is one thing I have learned from my whole food, clean eating journey, its that I love fat. I put that ish on everything. Fat and I are BFFs. If this makes you uncomfortable, sorry not sorry. Fat is the shiz.
Sadly, not everyone likes fat like I do. Some people demonize fat and avoid it at all costs. If this sounds familiar and you are always reaching for the non-fat yogurt and the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter at the grocery store, you might want to continue reading.
What is fat?
Fat is a macro-nutrient that is essential to the human diet, along with carbohydrates and protein. Fat is the most calorically dense macro-nutrient with 9 calories per gram. Fat also aids in micro-nutrient absorption. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins, they need fat to transport them throughout the body.
There a two types of fat; unsaturated and saturated. These fats come in different forms and interact in different ways with the body. Not all fat is good for consumption, but there are a ton of fats that are good and good for you!
Without getting into the chemistry of it, unsaturated fats are less stable fats that come in a liquid form. You can find unsaturated fats in many health foods such as nuts, avocados, seeds, and oils.
Omega-3 fatty acids, necessary to the diet, are unsaturated fats. These can be found in cold water fish and certain nuts.
Trans fat, which is rarely found in nature, is and unsaturated fat that is highly processed and oxidized. Trans fat is no longer legally allowed in our food because it can lead to disease.
Saturated fats are the most stable fats. At room temperature, saturated fats are solid because of their atomic structure. Saturated fats are found in butter, coconut oil, and meats.
Fear of Fats
For years, people have been terrified of fat. We have been living with the mindset that eating fat leads to obesity, disease, and clogged arteries and that cutting out fat from your diet will lead to a smaller waistline and a healthier lifestyle. This ideal has been glorified since the mid 70’s and is still a common ideal.
But here is the thing, during these 40 plus years of low-fat dieting, people got fatter. When people started restricting fatty foods like milk, cheese, steak and butter, they started consuming way more carbs and swapped everything out for its “low fat” counterpart.
What some people didn’t (and still don’t) realize was the when food companies took the fat out of their food, they added loads of sugar to maintain the palatability of it. This lead to over-consumption, setting us back even further from a healthy body.
More sugar=more carbs and more carbs=more food. The body burns carbs very quickly. While carbs might make you feel full in the moment, they cannot sustain you for more than a couple hours, leaving you hungry for more food. If you currently are hungry after 1-2 hours of eating, that might be the reason why.
Adding extra sugar under the security blanket of “low-fat” to the standard American diet has lead to rising obesity rate and addictions to sugar-laden foods.
Not only is sugar an issue, but substitutes for things like butter added to the mayhem. Butter substitutes like margarine and soy based spreads are chock full of hydrogenated (highly processed) oils and fillers. When people moved from butter (ingredients: milk) to margarine, they were filling their bodies with trans fat, which is proven to lead to disease. Even plant based butter substitutes are filled with junky vegetable oil blends that cause inflammation.
These things haven’t changes. Still today, most people prefer highly processed, totally unnatural garbage over real, whole, natural foods. That is where the standard American diet falls way short.
Be Nice to Fat
It’s hard to forget about fats past, but we must give fat the credit it deserves!
- Aside from supplying energy to your body, fat keeps your brain sharp and focused. Fat transports essential vitamins A, D, E, and K into the blood stream. These vitamins are so crucial to our brain function.
- Fat also keeps your skin supple and moisturized. The outer layer of your skin is comprised of cells that are made up of lipids, a type of fat. Without enough fat, your skin can become dry and chapped which puts you at a greater risk for infection.
- Saturated fats can help strengthen your immune system. These fats are anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral and can prevent infection and kill bacteria.
- Contrary to popular belief, eating more fat can actually help you shed fat. Giving your body fat as a readily available energy source allows your body to burn that fat as well as the fat on your body.
These are just a few benefits of a diet that has a good amount of healthy fats. So what can you do to incorporate fats into your diet?
Skip the Low Fat Options
Walk into your local grocery store and take a look at the labels. I bet you that at least 75% of foods on grocery store shelves have a low-fat counterpart. Take at look at both labels and compare the nutrition facts and ingredients. You might find that the low-fat options have more carbs and sugar. You might also find that the low-fat options are lower calorie as well. But don’t let that fool you.
Remember what I said about carbs? They burn quickly. They are less nutrient dense than fat, so they are less calories per gram. They will not keep you satiated for more than a couple hours. Fat, on the other hand, has more calories per gram and will keep you satiated for a much longer time. If you have a good amount of fat in your diet, you will find that you are eating less food simply because you are not hungry.
Grab the Good Fats
Though there are many sources of fats that contribute to weight gain, such as pizza, french fries, and a Double Bacon Cheese Burger, its not necessarily the fat that makes these foods “bad”. Its the food as a whole, the calories, macro-nutrient make-up, and the rate of consumption that leads to weight gain. So when I say its okay to eat more fat, those foods are not what I’m talking about.
There are a ton of different foods to incorporate into your diet that are healthy sources of fat and will keep you full and focused as well as promote healthy skin and immune system.
When deciding which cooking fat to use, you should consider the smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which your fat begins to breakdown and burn. Cooking with fats that can withstand greater heat without breaking down are great to use for cooking.
Saturated fats are the best option for cooking. Because they are the most stable of the fats, they can withstand the most heat. Listed below are some great cooking fats that can withstand high heats.
- Ghee (Clarified Butter)-485 degrees
- Lard-370 degrees
- Beef Tallow-400 degress
- Coconut Oil-350 degrees
- Butter-350 degrees
- Bacon Fat-375 degrees
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil-375 degrees
- Avocado Oil-520 degrees
- Sesame Oil-400 degrees
Other Healthy Fats
Aside from cooking fats, you can incorporate these healthy fat foods into your diet.
- Nuts and Nut Butter
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole Eggs
- Greek Yogurt
- Whole Milk
Did you see that last one? Yeah. Bacon has good, healthy fat. So why not grab some bacon and start incorporating more fat into your diet! You might find that introducing more fat into your diet keeps you fuller, longer, improves your skin and allows you to think more clearly. Give it some time and you might even lose some body fat!