For so many years we have been told about this notion by everyone that you should eat less fats or buy products that have 'low fat' in them.
The question is Why? Where did this all begin?
It all roots back to the 1960s when cardiovascular diseases were on the rise and people needed a solution to this problem. And that is when the sugar industries funded their own studies and research to shift the blame on fat.
Which eventually found its way into official dietary guidelines recommended by the government. Which said, your diet should stem mostly from carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and low fat.
Fat is higher in calories compared to carbs and protein, so the logic behind this theory is that since fat is higher in calories and excess calories cause weight gain. Having a low-fat diet will have a positive result on overall weight.
Did it work? the answer to that is quite obvious. Today many countries like the US, India, Mexico, etc are facing a rise in the number of people suffering from type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disorder, despite the fact that it is the official government recommendation to eat low fat for many years.
What is fat anyway?
Let’s start with a basic understanding of fat. There are four common types of fat:
Saturated: Known as Saturated Fat due to the fact that it is saturated by hydrogen molecules, which allows it to remain solid at room temperature, you can find them in Red meat, dairy products, coconut oil, etc.
Polyunsaturated: These fats are made with more than one bond in its chemical structure, hence the word poly, and it is not completed saturated with hydrogen, thus the word unsaturated.
These fats contain essential fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 which is required by our body but it cannot make on its own. These essential fats can be found in Fishes, vegetable oils, and nuts, and seeds.
Monounsaturated fat: These fats are made with one single bond hence the word mono. and it isn't saturated with hydrogen as well. They can be found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Trans fat: Trans fat is created during the processing of food. For example when oil is chemically altered to increased its shelf life.
Most Refined oils contain some form of trans fat or partial hydrogenation. which is another term for trans fat
When you eat any fat, it’s a combination of different types. For example, olive oil is 14% saturated fat, 11% polyunsaturated fat, and 73% monounsaturated fat.
What happens when you eat low-fat foods?
When a product like milk for example is sold as low fat, it automatically means that it is processed. When you take away the fat from a food item, it has to be compensated with sugar otherwise the food will not have that filling effect.
When you consistently follow a pattern of eating low-fat products, you are depriving your body of getting the essential fat that it requires for various functions.
So when you eat something thinking its low fat and is helping you lose weight, in reality, its doing the exact opposite.
Low-fat products are often high in carbohydrates causing your blood sugar to go high, which raises your insulin and turns the extra sugar which you won't be using for energy into fat and thus it results in overall weight gain in the long term.
Eating full fat was never a problem until we were told by certain experts that eating saturated fat causes heart diseases and weight gain.
Eating fat doesn't make you fat, Eating in excess, and not having a healthy lifestyle makes you gain fat. Our body uses the dietary fat for energy, and when there is too much of it, it stores it as fat, just like it would with Carbohydrate and Protein.
So you see, eating fat doesn't necessarily mean bad, If you eat the wrong kind of fat, then yes that will cause problems, Like too much trans fat, or processed fat from deep-fried foods, processed meat, refined oils, etc.
Those are the kinds of fat, you want to avoid, just like with refined carbohydrates.
Everything has to be in balance.
Excess of anything is bad for your body. So let's stop with the low-fat gimmick and keep your diets simple.
Why we need Fat?
Every cell in our body requires fat, it provides a protective layer called the cell membrane which covers each and every cell in our body.
In fact, about 60% of our brain is comprised of fat, so when we eat low fat, Our body doesn't have what it needs to make hormones, to maintain proper immune function, and for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K which cannot be processed without fat.
The Action Points
1. Eat plenty of natural fats
Cook your meat and vegetables in healthy natural fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, pure ghee.
Sauces made with natural fats, like full-fat sour cream, cottage cheese, and mayo with an olive base are great ways to add some fatty flavor to dishes that otherwise don’t have a lot of fat.
Mix in some nuts like Almonds, Pecan, Macadamia nuts, chia seeds with your salads.
Avocados go great with almost everything or just by themselves
2. Avoid Refined vegetable oils
Refined oils are also known as a slow poison, they are highly inflammatory in nature and should be avoided.
They are extracted from the source using a chemical solvent and it undergoes a significant amount of processing before being put in a bottle.
While they are often sold as ‘natural’, in reality, it's not the truth. For example, corn is not an oily vegetable.
So, in order to get the oil from the corn, literally tons of corn must be processed. This involves grinding the kernels and spraying them with a petroleum-based solvent like hexane before heating, refining, degumming. bleaching, and deodorizing.
Our bodies are not meant to metabolize refined oils, as opposed to the natural fats from foods that humans have eaten for thousands of years.
The industrial seed oils are very high in omega-6 fats, which can be linked with many inflammatory diseases out there.
Instead try to use cold-pressed coconut oil or pure ghee, the kinds of oil which can be extracted right away without processing.
If we want the prices for cold-pressed oil to come down, we need to start using more of it, Unfortunately in the current market, refined oils are cheap and easy to get so people tend to go for the refined oils.
3. Go for full-fat products
Avoid low fat, yogurt, milk, cheese, etc. Go for the full fat because that's how nature has made them and that's how we are supposed to consume it.
Low fat is simply a marketing gimmick that was meant to attract more people to buy the product by giving them an imaginary 'health halo' which won't cause weight gain simply because it's low in fat.
There is no reason to avoid foods that contain natural fats. If they were really so bad, they wouldn't exist out there in nature and would only exist in man-made items.
Fat is meant to be part of a balanced diet and is not something to be afraid of.
So enjoy your full-fat meals if you want to. because going low fat certainly won't be saving you from inflammatory diseases.
It's our overall lifestyle that has to be in balance in order to prevent diseases and excess weight gain and isn't based on a single macronutrient.