Advocate for Fat!
Since working on a cardiac surgery ward I have been alarmed at the advice still being given about fat’s relationship to heart disease and weight loss. It seems that “low-fat diets” are still widely accepted as healthy. And even more alarming is that many people are still being advised to choose margarine over butter.
Over the past 20 years, low fat diets are thought to not only help you lose weight, but also be a healthy sustainable way to eat. After much reading and researching, I personally do not agree.
The message should purely be, “trans fats are bad, and all other fats can be enjoyed in moderation”. When I say moderation I don’t mean limited, I mean adjusted or modified to suit the rest of your dietary intake. Remember the rule, energy in verses energy out. And, never forget about the other main variable with regards to “energy in” – carbohydrates!
Carbs have their role with providing our brain with food, muscles with glycogen and supplying us with essential vitamins and minerals. By choosing low GI (slow releasing and high fibre) carbs such as fruits, vegetables and the occasional whole grain foods will make you feel fuller for longer. This in turn limits the blood sugar “highs and lows” which would then result in the over consumption of carbs and therefore surplus energy from this macro-nutrient being stored as body fat.
Fat’s have many roles too and should not be thought of as just extra calories, they are too important for that. Fats are needed for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E, nerve conduction, cell membranes, hormone production and transport, mental health, memory and mood, and to fight inflammation to name a few! So why would you want to miss out on all that goodness.
By avoiding fat, your metabolism will actually become less efficient and it may actually make you fatter. Its all about balance and, portion control!
Consuming a wide variety of fats will ensure a healthy metabolism. Oily fish, nuts, virgin oils for salads (eg olive, flax, canola) and virgin palm or coconut oil for cooking and spreading.
So what about saturated fats? Well they do pose a dilemma because your body will use them IF it has no other source of energy but it will store them if it does have other energy, such as excessive carbs (with one exception – medium chain fatty acids). Medium chain fatty acids are those found mainly in Coconut and Palm oil. These oils are saturated yes, but their chemical makeup means they cannot be stored as fat! That’s right, the liver will utilise this fat for a pure and very efficient energy source. These oils are used by athletes throughout the world to increase performance and they can actually boost your metabolism as they have been shown to tip the thyroid gland into a slightly hyperthyroid state. One warning here is, this type of fat can help you lose weight, but only if you moderate other sources of energy. Always think about what you need the energy for. It won’t be the coconut oil making you fat, it will be what you eat in addition to it.
I personally use coconut oil for all my cooking, and I use a little in my porridge at breakfast to boost my energy. I get it from company called Coconoil which has high quality, great tasting Organic Virgin Coconut Oil from the ‘pick of the palms’ in Sri Lanka. I would highly recommend this oil to supplement your diet especially if you are training a lot or need extra energy. It has many other health benefits too such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing which can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid (breast milk is the only other natural source), capric acid and caprylic acid. For more information on the benefits of coconut oil click here
So what about cholesterol? And rising death rates from heart disease? – I blame trans fats. From the Second World War there was a steady increase in their use and from this time to now there has also been a steady increase in obesity and heart disease. Yes there are other factors too, but remember that many processed foods contain the highest concentration of trans fats. Extensive food processing has been phenomenon of the last 20 years or so.
In conclusion I would reinforce the advice to reduce the consumption of processed foods. And I would even agree that you should limit fat intake if you are eating a lot of carbs and you want to lose weight. But I totally disagree that a low fat diet is going to be more healthy or necessarily help you lose weight in the long run. I would advocate that fat shouldn’t be feared as it is an essential part of a healthy diet and, is necessary for a healthy body, mind and HEART.
Let me know your thoughts on dietary and essential fats, and also your experience with coconut oil?
Until next time, bye for now