Are you Eating Enough Fat?

Friday, August 04, 2017


Okay, so full disclosure here: this is a long one! What started out as a "Are you eating enough fat" post, turned into a history lesson, and fat myth debunking 😅  You could say I'm slightly passionate about this topic.

Fat has always had a bad reputation, amiright? To a certain extent, I understand why. For people who are worried more about calories than nutrients, fats have more calories per gram than proteins and carbohydrates; 9 kcal/g, 4 kcal/g, 4 kcal/gram, respectively. So if you are focused on calories in vs calories out then I can see why you would think that avoiding fats would be beneficial for weight loss. (If you're one of these people, talk to me!!) Another reason why people are so cautious about fats is because the USDA has been telling us it's bad since, well, forever! But we are going to start with the very first food pyramid, released by the USDA in 1992: 
The first Food Pyramid released by the USDA in 1992.
"Fats, oils & sweets: Use Sparingly". Well they got one thing right! Sweets definitely belong up there. But it makes me cringe that they put fats and processed sweets on the same level! (For the sake of your eyeballs, I am only going to talk about whats wrong with the fat portions of the recommendations). And while you might be thinking, "well they included dairy so that is where they are assuming you're getting your healthy fats!" NOPE! They recommended low fat and skim dairy products. Here enters low-fat and fat-free dairy products into the food industry. I will explain the issue with these a little later. This is also the only food pyramid/graphic that has fats on it. It was taken off in the 2005 update shown here:


2005 update of the Food Pyramid: MyPramid.
Where are the fats?? Again, I'm not going to get into everything else wrong with this graphic, there's just not enough time in the day. They did add a nice set of stairs which is cool LOL don't forget to exercise because you're going to need it after eating all those refined carbs! ANYWAYS, fat is not addressed here. There is a peanut butter jar thrown in there if you look reeeeally close (with the meat + beans... ?). With this new pyramid, they still stand by limited oils and eating low-fat dairy foods. 

And now, we have the most recent update (2011), MyPlate:


2011 update of MyPyramid: MyPlate
So we got rid of the pyramid, but STILL NO FATS?? Nope. However, choosemyplate.gov does address that oils exist and that they "provide essential ingredients". You just have to dig a little bit and go to the actual website to find out that information. Thats a step in the right direction! At least we now know the benefits of eating oils. But, guess what? That dairy you see in a little cup...they are still recommending it be low-fat. 

The problem with low-fat foods:
First, let me ask you this: what do we love about fat? Answer: It tastes GOOD! It adds FLAVOR! If you take that fat out of a product where is it naturally occurring (dairy), it loses it's flavor. So, what did the food industry to do add flavor to these low-fat and fat-free dairy products? ADDED SUGAR! 😱 So, while people are decreasing their fat intake, they are increasing their sugar intake! I'm not going to go into the harmful effects of sugar in this post, but lets just say that this is one of the (many) reason's obesity has increased in the U.S. over the past 20 years, IMO. Now, I know what you guys are thinking, "But, Chelsea you use fat free Greek yogurt all the time!" Yes, yes I do. BUT it's plain fat free Greek yogurt with NO added sugars. And I like to save my macros for peanut butter OKAY! 😊

So anyways, eating the full fat sour cream, cottage cheese, etc. can actually be beneficial to your health! Here's why-

Benefits of fats:
While fat is more calories per gram, versus protein and carbs, eating healthy fats with every meal can actually help you LOSE weight! (For balanced snack examples, scroll to bottom) Fats are more calorie-dense and therefore help keep you fuller longer. This also helps keep your blood glucose level stable throughout the day and keeps your cravings at bay. Not only does it help with weight loss and maintenance, fat is also essential for:

  • Absorbing certain vitamins
  • Brain health (did you know your brain is made up of ~60% fat??)
  • Blood clotting
  • Reducing inflammation

Now, the purpose of this post was not to crap on the governments attempt at nutrition education...it just kind of happened 😂  But, I do feel like I should say that I understand WHY they leave fats and oil out. Most of the fats that American's are eating these days are processed and not from healthy, natural sources. I can see why they might think that adding it would confuse those who only know of those bad fats. So, I'll take it upon myself to educate the people I am blessed to reach with this post about healthy fats! Adding a healthy fat to every meal is a simple way to manage your hunger. That could be, cooking your morning egg in real butter, adding a tablespoon of natural nut butter to your oatmeal or snacking on some almonds in between meals (more snack ideas below!). 

Healthy fats:
Oils:

  • Olive oil
  • REAL butter
  • Coconut oil (unrefined)
  • Avocado oil
  • Ghee (for those who don't know, this is basically a dairy-free butter)
Foods:
  • Avocado
  • Eggs (with yolk)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring)
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Full fat dairy (milk, yogurt, sour cream, etc.)
  • Salad dressings (preferably homemade with olive oil!)

Bad fats: 
Oils:

  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (soy bean, canola, sunflower, peanut oils)
  • Margarine 
  • Vegetable shortening
Foods:
  • Anything containing Trans Fats
  • Frozen dinners
  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods (muffins, cookies, cakes, pastries)
  • Processed snack foods (crackers, cookies, chips)

Hydrogenated oils:
What are they? Hydrogenating (added hydrogen molecules) liquid fats turns them to solid at room temperature. The food industry started hydrogenating fats to saves money by increasing the shelf life of foods containing the fats. The problem: This process creates trans fats. Trans fats are BAD. Bad, bad, bad. These babies raise out bad cholesterol (LDL-C) and lower our good cholesterol (HDL-C), which increases your risk of heart disease. It is important to note that there are two types of trans fats: those made in a food lab, and those that occur naturally. Man-made trans fats are what we need to stay away from. Naturally, trans fats are created in the stomach of some animals (CLA), these kinds can actually be beneficial to our health. 
How to identify trans fats in food: Look at the food label! If the ingredients lists, "partially hydrogenated oil", it has trans fat even if the Nutrition Facts don't list it. Food companies don't have to list trans fats if there is less that 0.5g per serving. So if the bag of potato chips lists no trans fats, it could have 0.4g per serving. If the serving size is 5 per bag and you eat the whole thing, then that's 2g of trans fat. If you eat a bag of those potato chips everyday, you can see how that would add up!

Saturated fat myth, debunked:
I've seen a lot of articles on Facebook recently that are claiming Coconut Oil is now a death food (OK maybe not that extreme, but still lol). Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which the American Heart Association recently deemed as "bad". Here's the facts: a large, controlled, meta-analysis study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that "there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk in CHD [Congenital Heart Disease] or CVD [Cardiovascular Disease]." While I'm not saying that saturated fats are the new kale, there are many other things that should be cut out of ones diet to reduce risk of heart disease before eliminating naturally-sourced saturated fats (i.e. processed foods, sodas, added sugar, just to name a few). 

Balanced snack ideas:

  • 4 slices turkey lunch meat, 1 string cheese or 2 slices salami, 1oz wasabi peas
  • 1 cup grapes, handful almonds
  • 2 Wasa crackers, 1 pack tuna, 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 scoop whey protein (mixed)
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop whey protein, 1 tbsp natural nut butter, 1/2 frozen banana (smoothie)
  • 2 lightly salted rice cakes, 1 laughing cow cheese wedge, 4 slices turkey lunch meat (spread 1/2 cheese wedge on each rice cake, and top with 2 slices turkey each)
  • 1/2 apple with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup full fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
So, are you eating enough healthy fats?? Too much of the bad fat? I usually recommend that 25-30% of your calories should come from fat. 

"Okay, Chelsea, so what/how the heck should I eat??" Well, it's not that simple. Everyone's biochemistries are different. MyPlate makes it seem like every American can follow that plate and be "healthy". What about those with insulin resistance? Hypertension? Celiacs? Lactose intolerance? We have to crack down the science of our individual bodies and discover what they respond best to. For some people that's high carbohydrates, for others it's high fat. Overwhelmed? Let me help you! I believe that macronutrient, or "macro", counting is a huge first step in figuring out your body. It helps to discover how your body performs its best, what might be holding you back from losing weight, and how you can eat for LIFE. If there is one thing that you can take away from my blog, I hope that it's "Eat to live, don't live to eat". Eat what makes you feel GOOD, not what you think you "should" be eating. No more restricting yourself--let me help you live a life full of balance 😊  Click here to be taken to my programs.

As always, thank you so much for reading! Please don't hesitate to reach out to me. 









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