Since the 1980s we’ve been bombarded with messages from the health and food industry about the importance of eating low fat. But healthy fats won't make you fat. And when you consider what the wave of fat reduction in our diets has done, it’s not good.
The World Health Organisation states that “worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese”.
There’s no denying it either, BMI and body weight are a direct reflection of your diet, health and lifestyle. So if fat isn’t the cause of an expanding waistline then what is?
Healthy fats won't make you fat
Firstly, when it comes to our diet it’s not fat that’s making us fat. It’s sugar, and this includes those high GI carbs that breakdown as sugar in your body. To lose weight, up your energy and function at your best, you’ll need to fuel your body properly, and this calls for a healthy balance of macro-nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and FAT).
You’ve probably heard of “fat soluble vitamins and minerals”. “Fat soluble” being the clue here - these nutrients rely on fat to assist with their absorption. You can eat all the veggies in the world, but if you don’t consume them with fat you’re not reaping their full nutritional benefits.
Healthy fats also add flavour to your food, helps you feel fuller for longer and get this - plenty of fat in your diet will reduce sugar cravings. Hallelujah! Who wouldn’t like to break their sweet habits? Making healthy fats part of every meal will help you do this.
How much fat is healthy?
Don’t panic! This doesn't mean your food needs to be dripping in fat. Experts recommend that 30% of your macro-nutrient intake ought to include the right types of fat though.
Yep that’s right! Our bodies are mostly made up of saturated fat, so we’re meant to eat some grease (just the right kind). It’s these fats that are crucial for absorbing vitamins, calcium uptake, immune function, and cell membrane structure.
My number one choice of saturated fat is coconut oil. In fact, I absolutely love it! It’s delicious, versatile, anti-inflammatory and packed with health benefits. This amazing oil is especially good if you're wanting to lose weight, as it counteracts insulin resistance. Insulin is precisely what's needed to regulate metabolism, weight and hormones.
How to use – you can use coconut oil in baking, stir-fries as a dairy free replacement to butter. Add it to porridge, homemade soups, smoothies, snacks and desserts for energy, flavour and obtaining maximum goodness from your food.
If you eat meat and dairy, opt for grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.
Add these fats to a balanced diet and they will help promote fat loss through your midsection. Monounsaturated fats aid in increasing your basal metabolic rate allowing your body to burn fat quicker.
You'll find them in olives and olive oil, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds and avocados.
How to use - Drizzle oils like olive or hemp over your food or use them as a base for a dressing. If heating, only do so to medium temperatures. Monounsaturated oils should never be heated to high temperatures, as this can cause free radicals. And free radicals harm our health.
Nuts and avocados can be eaten as healthy snacks and added to a variety of dishes to make your meals more appetizing.
These healthy fats encompass omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (known as essential fatty acids). The key here is balance.
The western diet typically favours lots of omega 6, so the emphasis should be on upping your omega 3 by increasing your consumption of oily fish, like salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as flaxseed, hemp, chia, walnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds.
Omega 3 is a mega deal as far as our body is concerned - it’s vital for every cellular metabolism function.
You can learn more about the benefits of omega 3 in my “Nutritious Ways to Love Your Body More” post. But due to high levels of contaminants in our fish and low levels of omega 3 in our diet, it’s advisable to supplement with a fish oil that’s pure, safe and high quality. The one I use and recommend is BiOmega, which you can learn more about or buy here.
Usually listed on food labels as hydrogenated fats, these fake fats are evil and should be avoided at all costs. They’re chemically altered fats used to prolong the shelf life of packaged and processed foods that mess up the function of our cells. Enough said!
Steer clear of margarines, store bought biscuits, cakes and pastries, as well as any other ready-made food.
If you're not already eating enough healthy fats, go ahead and introduce more into your meals. Nature is your best source, and there's no need to worry as eating appropriate portions of healthy fats is part of a balanced diet.
Hi, I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Pain & Stress Management Therapist, and Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.
I help people elevate their mind and body health by addressing diet, nutrition and lifestyle symptoms. Let's work together to optimize how you feel and function.
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