Should I Eat Fat?

A lot of weight loss programmes would probably answer this question with an emphatic NO!

Many programmes, groups and plans rely on the low fat principle – that you put little or no fat into your body and you will burn the fat you already have stored in your body. This makes a lot of sense – your body needs fat to function, stop putting fat in – where will it get the fat? From your stores, brilliant – everyone rush out and buy non-fat/low fat and avoid everything with that dreaded three letter word in it!

However, the problem is your body will still crave the fat you’re not putting into it, and if you’ve gained weight then your cravings may be higher than the next persons. Our bodies are designed to crave fat and carbohydrates and eat as much as we can and store as much as we can. In Cave man days we had no clue where our next meal was coming from! We needed stored energy so we could run around and hunt our food, or climb trees or dig or protect ourselves from wild animals and we lived in a constant feast and famine mode. We don’t live like that anymore BUT our bodies haven’t gotten the message. So if you eat low-fat/non-fat then yes your body will burn your stored fat BUT you will crave fat. You will be miserable and often these ‘diets’ succeed ‘in spite of’ not ‘because of’ the rules.

Image: healthy foodsBecause our bodies love fat and just want more and more of it to prepare for the famine that is NEVER coming the taste of the non-fat low-fat food still has to be quite similar to real FAT, but how can the manufacturers create this without actually using fat? They use chemicals instead, sugar and lots and lots of salt. So you might find that your fat intake decreases but suddenly you’re eating a whole bunch of chemicals (that does who knows what to your body in the long term) and your sugar and salt levels have increased. You only have to look in any newspaper/magazine/ internet article to see that refined sugar is the latest Devil on our plates.

BUT before you run out and buy a huge fat dripping double cheeseburger there is a better answer; yes but GOOD fats.

In modern life it’s very easy to slip into the ready-meal, takeaway trap – it seems cheaper, we lack the time to cook, the kids eat it without complaint and there’s not much washing up to do! But if we carry on consuming processed foods we will end up just like the US, we are well on our way there it’s estimated that by 2050 60% of men and 50% of women will be obese.

Tips on good fat consumption:

  • Eat a little of what you crave – so eating a tiny piece of full fat cheese and feeling satisfied is better than eating a whole block of 30% fat cheese and feeling miserable.
  • Choose natural fats such as oily fish, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds,
  • Trans Fat – this is artificial fat that has been hydrogenated – which makes it last longer and is common in processed foods. It is best to avoid all Trans fats – by law food companies don’t actually have to list that they use trans fats in their product – so this nasty little fat can be hidden everywhere. If you see an ingredients label that lists 50g fat and it has monosaturates, polysaturates and saturated fats listed and these add up to the 50g then there’s no trans fats in it. If there’s a difference THAT is your trans fat. Trans fats increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and increases cholesterol levels. There is nothing good about trans fats!
  • If the fat you’re thinking about eating has a TV advert then think twice, if it’s close to how it naturally comes into existence then you’re fine.

Now keep in mind I am not saying just eat fat, you should always strive to eat a healthy balanced diet. Your calories should be made up of 50-55% carbohydrates, 10-15% protein and 30-35% fat. If you’re looking to lose weight, then eat smaller portions, aim for at least 7-9 veggies per day (and you can have 1-2 portions of fruit) drink lots of water, get active and finally eat GOOD FATS!