Walking around the supermarket, it does not take long to notice that there is a “low fat” or “fat-free” alternative near almost every available option. When you are starting a new diet, it may be tempting to purchase these items. After all, you are trying to lose fat, so it would make sense to eat less of it, right?
While that reasoning may seem to make sense, it is actually unsupported by the evidence. There is scientific evidence that eating a high-fat diet can contribute to weight loss, as seen by researchers at Harvard. Additional studies have been conducted in recent years that add even more fuel to the fat-burning fire. So, where did all the hatred of fat come from?
The “Fat Is Bad” Myth
Way back in the 1970s, America was facing a wake-up call. Members of Congress came together to rally against high-fat diets, largely due to the fact that their colleagues were prematurely dying of heart attacks. The science of that day and age pointed to saturated fats as a primary cause of heart disease. These facts were backed up by Nathan Pritikin, a health whiz who advocated that heart disease could be reversed, as long as people were willing to change their lifestyles.
However, back then we did not have the thorough understanding of biological processes that we do today. Many people heard that fat was bad and subsequently attempted to remove it from their diets entirely. One of the goals Congress set out was for people to eat more carbs. What they intended was for people to eat complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, the reality was starkly different.
The market responded to these calls to reduce fat by creating new lines of fat-free or low-fat products. Fat provides a lot of flavor in the foods we eat. When you remove fats, you have to replace it with something else, and that replacement came in the form of sugar. Many believe that this fat-reducing phase of the American diet largely contributed to rising levels of obesity and diabetes. It turns out that removing fat from your diet can cause weight gain, doesn’t significantly reduce your chances of heart disease, and will not help you lose weight.
Why Fat Is Good for Your Body
The truth is, there are several kinds of fat: trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Trans fats are bad for your body, and along with saturated fats were the ones that Congress really meant for us to reduce. Foods that contain trans fats increase harmful blood cholesterol levels (LDLs) while decreasing the good blood cholesterols (HDLs). Today, we realize there is no safe level of consumption of trans fats — for every 2% of your diet that is made up of this type of fat, your chances of heart disease increase by 23%.
Saturated fats are another type of fat that should be eliminated. Experts recommend that less than 10% of your daily calories come from saturated fat sources. In large doses, saturated fats can increase LDLs. However, there is no conclusive evidence at this time suggesting that saturated fats cause heart disease.
However, there are studies that show replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease. The unsaturated fats are the “good for you” guys of the fat world. These fats are liquid at room temperature, unlike their counterparts. These fats raise triglyceride levels while lowering LDL levels. Your body uses these fats as a source of fuel, so they are important to incorporate into your diet.
Incorporating Healthy Fats Into Your Diet
Healthy fats can help you lose weight, among other important health benefits. Instead of avoiding all fats, you should focus on how you can incorporate healthy fats from natural sources into your diet. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can come from natural sources.
Oils and nuts are generally good sources of monounsaturated fats. Healthy oils like olive oil are good sources of monounsaturated fats as well as nuts and avocados. As an added benefit, incorporating healthy oils into your diet will help you feel full and satisfied at the end of a meal. As a result, you eat less and weight begins to fall off.
Good sources of polyunsaturated fats include the heart healthy omega-3 and omega-6 oils found in seafood, nuts, and some oils. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6. These fats are essential to our bodies, yet we cannot make them. We need them in order to function, to create cell membranes, to move our muscles, and to combat inflammation.
The Paleo diet is a natural diet that incorporates healthy fats. This diet focuses on natural, unprocessed foods that promote overall wellness. Research has shown that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets like the Paleo diet can speed up weight loss, reduce chronic inflammation, and ultimately lead to you feeling better in general. For more information about the Paleo diet and how it could help you, visit us today. Be sure to check out our Paleo recipes for easy ways to incorporate healthy fats into your diet!