Do you remember those cute little bright green boxes filled with low-fat but oh-so-sweet goodness?
Yup, those chocolate cake-like SnackWells cookies from years ago. Remember when low-fat/non-fat foods were all the rage?
Well, it’s safe to say that the tides have changed, and the nutrition experts have realized that fat is actually not to blame for a lot of the health problems Americans face, and dietary fat does not cause us to gain fat either.
So what is to blame?
You guessed it–sugar.
Look, I’m not happy about it either. As I mentioned over the past couple week, I’m a sugar loving girl. But we really can’t deny the facts of what diets full of sugar do to us individually–I think most people will easily admit that they feel better overall when eating a low-sugar diet–and what they have done to us collectively (as a society) over the past few decades.
It’s been reported that what started the whole low-fat craze, and caused our dietary recommendations to be grounded in carbohydrates, was somewhat of a conspiracy. Different people or companies paying other people or companies to say that one thing was better for us to eat than another or to conduct biased studies that created unreliable research pointing in a specific direction. I don’t know enough about it all to really speak on it in any more specifics; however, if you search “the sugar conspiracy” in google, you can find out what people have said about the topic.
So let’s get to the topic at hand: dietary fat. And the fact that consuming it doesn’t make you fat. Well, let me clarify…consuming it in conjunction with sugars and starches will make you fat. But consuming a diet of mainly fats and proteins with carbohydrates coming from a smaller portion of your calories, can actually make you lose fat. Eating the right fats can put your body in a fat burning state, can cut down on your hunger, and can help you make positive progress toward better health.
How does eating fat help you burn fat?
Fat is a necessary component to our bodies; in fact, it is used to build our cell walls–all of them–and there are a LOT of them. Even your brain is composed predominantly of fat. So if you think back to the idea that healthy hormone levels are essential to the proper functioning of your body and its processes, healthy amounts of healthy fat in our diets are also essential to ensuring our bodies get enough of that primary building block so that it can smoothly carry out its functions and processes. Additionally, when we eat fat, the body’s fat storing insulin is not secreted. Remember that the more time insulin spends in your bloodstream, the less time your body spends dipping into its fat storage and burning that stored energy. And the way we reduce the amount of insulin released into the bloodstream is to reduce the amount of food we consume that causes spikes in our blood sugar levels, i.e. carbohydrates. Solution remove carbs, add fats.
Why does it work well to add fats to our diets?
Well, first and foremost, avocados. Period, end of that point. Second, eating fat causes us to get fuller faster and also causes us to stay fuller faster. One of the problems with carbohydrates is that we crash after the insulin has removed all the glucose from the bloodstream; we experience a blood sugar crash which then initiates cravings for more sugar/carbs and thus creates a vicious cycle. On the other hand, with dietary fats not wreaking that havoc on our blood sugar and hormones, we feel much more balanced and in control of our hunger and cravings. Furthermore, how much better does broccoli taste with some butter on it? Or onions and peppers sauteed in some coconut oil. YUM.
Okay, so when people talk about healthy fats, what do they actually mean by “healthy”?
First let me point out that trans fats are bad. In case you’ve been living under a rock . And you want to avoid cooking with vegetable oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, and canola oil–these oils are processed and unnatural and can cause inflammation if consumed in large quantities. And my guess is that we unknowingly consume them often when we eat out at restaurants or eat processed foods, so my opinion is that we should do everything we can to not consume them by our own will. Oils that you want to cook with and/or use as toppings are the unrefined more natural oils such as coconut, avocado, or extra virgin olive oil.
When it comes to determining foods that are healthy fats, I think we can apply the same principle we would when determining whether a food would be considered “clean.” Ask yourself if the food/fat exists in nature in the same way it will exist on your plate. If so, then I think you can probably assume it’s a healthy fat. But if you’re still not sure what direction to go in here, some healthy fats to add to your diet include the following foods: avocados, nuts (and remember, peanuts are legumes), seeds (such as pumpkin, hemp and chia), grass fed animal products, pastured eggs, and fatty fish.
Major takeaway here is that once you’ve reduced the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, don’t be afraid to add in the fats! Add them in more liberally than you think you should–because chances are, you are being very stingy with yourself. Pay attention to how the addition of healthy fat to your diet makes you feel, and pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals because you’ll probably experience a greater sense of satiety when you begin to add more fat to your diet and reduce the carbohydrates. It may take some time, and perhaps some failed attempts–after all, many of us (me included!) have been conditioned to eat a diet centered around sugar and carbohydrates. But keep at it, think of it as an experiment. You may wind up feeling so much better (and losing some fat in the process ), that you won’t even miss those carbs! Let me know how it goes–leave a comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear your story .
If you missed my post about why sugar and carbohydrates prevent you from losing fat, you can access it here.
And to find out more about how sleep can be a game-changer in your fat loss efforts, click here.