Oh! So you want to lose weight, have a healthy heart, balance your blood sugar, be smart, and have a good memory?
How can you accomplish those goals when you fear eating fats? You must incorporate fats into your diet.
For decades, you’ve been told that fat, of any type, is bad and clogs your arteries, destroys your heart and adds to your weight. It has been drilled into our subconscious minds that fats make us fat! So we eliminated natural fat from our diet, such as nuts, fish, avocados, and healthy oils, and loaded up on low fat, high carbohydrate foods like pasta and cereal.
Ironically, we removed natural fat from our diet, while filling up with man-made fats like margarine and processed cooking oils, which the food industry claimed were heart healthy. We are now experiencing the worst epidemic of obesity in recorded history. Type-2 diabetes is now the most prevalent disease of our time, with heart disease increasing.
The experts were wrong. All fat is not bad and all fat is not the same. There are good fats that are essential for maintaining fitness and optimal health. If you cut out all fats and replace them with starchy foods or sweet carbohydrates, you will end up burning sugar and storing fat. This is what causes people to gain weight.
According to Ronald Rosedale, M.D., you must become a good fat burner. In order to burn fat, you must limit your intake of sugar and those foods that turn into sugar. This is called breaking the “negative metabolic momentum” that is locking you into toxic fat storage, or sugar burning mode, not fat burning. Dr. Rosedale believes that “health and lifespan is determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar people burn throughout their lifetime.” The more fat you burn as fuel, the healthier you will be, whereas the more sugar you burn as fuel, the more disease-ridden you will be.
We need fat because it is an essential nutrient. It is critical to know the difference between good and bad fats. The quality of fat that you eat is far more important than the quantity of fat. Fat can be your friend or your enemy.
You are not alone in your fear of eating fats. An estimated 80% of Americans eat a diet deficient in essential fatty acids (EFA). Yet, as precursors to hormone like prostaglandins, they regulate nearly every body function at the cellular level. These functions include water retention, sodium balance, and fat metabolism. It is important to eat a diet rich in EFA, because our bodies cannot produce them.
In your efforts at weight control, fats also:
-carry fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K through the blood steam
-help your body conserve protein
-slow the absorption of carbohydrates to balance blood sugar levels
-is a building block for production of estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones
-is a precursor for serotonin, which controls cravings and elevates your mood
Every cell in your body is protected by a membrane that is composed largely of fat. Your brain, too, is 60% fat. Is it any wonder then that your body craves fat, any fat, especially when you eat a high carbohydrate, low fat diet?
It is not suggested here that you eat an unlimited amount of any fat. However, with the right fats, you’ll end fat cravings, feel full, have more energy and lose weight. The body converts EFA from food into hormones under ideal conditions. However, conditions are not often ideal.
Our fear of fats, especially saturated fats, has driven us away from beef, dairy products, and butter. In their place, we’ve substituted refined vegetable oils, low-fat or no-fat dairy foods, and margarine. As a result, the balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats is substantially skewed. We’ve also increased our consumption of trans fats, which are damaged oil molecules produced when oils are heated or hydrogenated. Trans fats interfere with the EFA conversion to prostaglandins. Other things to avoid are:
-high sugar consumption
-chronic alcohol consumption
The EFA in the oil cause your stomach to retain food for a longer period of time compared with no-fat or low-fat foods. Further, you will experience a slow, sustained rise in blood sugar and then a prolonged plateau. The result is a feeling of stamina, energy, and satisfaction with no immediate hunger to lure you into overeating. Eating the “good” or “right” fats will not make you fat!
In our attempts to accomplish our goals of slimness, vitality, longevity, and optimal health, we must stop the insanity of being “fearful of the fat factor”.
Sari Smolarz, M.S., C.N.S. is a certified clinical nutritionist in Ridgewood, New Jersey. She is available for individual and group sessions. She is currently directing the Seven Branches to Health Lifestyle program. Sari can be reached at (201) 612-4347 to schedule a 20 minute commentary appointment.