BUSTING THE BIG FAT LIES ABOUT FAT:
THE TRUTH EXPOSED
We’ve been programmed to be scared of fat. It might as well have an extra letter at the end and join the list of the forbidden four-letter words – that’s how much we avoid it.
And with all the big, fat lies out there, it can be hard to trust these nutrient packed foods.
So we’re breaking down the big fat lies of fat and reclaiming the good name of fat.
BIG FAT LIE #1: FAT MAKES YOU FAT
This is the biggest lie in nutrition, we’ve known the truth for ages, yet some people still claim its truth!
So first, why do people think this in the first place?
Dietary fat is the most calorie dense of all the nutrients. Carbs and proteins have 4 calories of energy per gram, but fat has 9 calories. It’s what we call a concentrated energy source. And this is a really good thing if we need a high amount of energy from a small amount of food.
But, as our culture started getting fatter, people starting looking for something to blame. To find the reason of our fatness so we could hopefully change it and shrink everyone back down.
The most likely suspect for the fat gain was dietary fat – because it had the most calories per gram. And sure, it seemed logical – eating more fat sounded like it would make you make. So the low fat craze started and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Fat became the most hated of the nutrients.
But this new diet craze was completely wrong (mostly because it wasn’t based on any scientific proof). And it actually made us fatter than ever. When people start nixing the fat, they replaced it with more carbs and sugar – the stuff that does get store quickly and easily in the fat cells.
But by the time science caught up and told us that eating fat doesn’t lead to storing more body fat, we had already created a fat-phobic society. And those ingrained beliefs are mighty hard to change.
But the research actually tells us that naturally occurring dietary fat (the kind you find in nature, not factories) is actually the least likely of the nutrients to get stored as fat. The reason is that dietary fat serves so many important and necessary jobs within our bodies.
Fat gives energy to the cells, they wrap around our cells and membranes for extra cushion, they carry vitamins and help them get absorbed. They are literally vital for our survival.
So what’s the truth? Eating too much of anything can expand your fat cells. But naturally occurring dietary fat is the least likely of the nutrients to get stored as fat because it has so many useful (and necessary) uses in the body.
BIG FAT LIE #2: ALL FATS ARE THE SAME
The word “fat” gets tossed around so much and we use it to describe everything. As feelings, adjectives, to explain the spare tire around our waist, the cells that hold the excess energy. But for our purposes here, we’re looking at “fat” as the dietary nutrient we eat.
So clearly because there’s so many uses for the term fat, not all fat is the same. But not all dietary fat is the same either.
I know you’ve heard it – there are good kinds of fat and bad ones.
Now, there are really 4 kinds of dietary fat. And all of them have very similar molecular structures, but just with tiny variations. And even though the changes are microscopic, those changes have huge differences in how your body takes in those fats and uses them.
The traditionally “good for you” fats are the unsaturated fats: the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are the ones from fish, oils and nuts.
The traditionally “bad for you” fats are the saturated and trans fat ones. The kinds that come from animals, like beef cuts or dairy cheese, or the ones made in the mad science laboratory (like partially hydrogenated oils) that go into our fast food or baked goods.
But these “good” and “bad” fats that we traditionally know aren’t always right!
Almost any kind of fat, unsaturated or saturated, is not just a good fat or a bad fat. Most fatty foods are really a combination of these different types of fats.
Your favorite nuts might have mono and polyunsaturated fats in it. Or that cut of beef has trans, saturated and unsaturated. It’s possible for one food item to have all 4 varieties of fat in it.
But even though most foods are a mixture of different fats, we still try to separate them into categories to make them easier to understand. But when that happens, we sometimes make things more confusing and make those big fat lies even worse.
So the truth – there are different kinds of fats. Some are better for your body than others, but most foods have a mixture of these good and bad for you fats.
BIG FAT LIE #3: SATURATED FAT IS BAD
I’m guessing you’ve heard it – avoid saturated fat because it might raise your cholesterol levels!
Not only is this wrong, but it’s actually the exact opposite of what happens when you eat it.
Saturated fat, the stuff found in animal meats and dairy products like cheese or butter, got a bad rap based on poorly designed studies. And we all heard the message – stop eating butter, red meat and bacon if you want to protect your heart!
But after dozens of well designed experiments and studies, we know that saturated fat doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol (LDL). It actually raises your good cholesterol (HDL).
So we avoided it to try and help our arteries when the best thing we really should’ve been doing was to eat it!
Plus, saturated fats are anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal so they help fight bad bacteria and keep your immune system healthy and happy.
Don’t avoid those saturated fats, they have a place in every diet.
BIG FAT LIE #4: ALL TRANS FATS ARE THE DEVIL
We know, we know, never eat trans fat! It’s pretty much the devil, right?
What always seems to get lost in the wayside is that there are two kinds of trans fat.
A healthy, good for you kind and a toxic, bad for you kind.
Our tasty little animal friends, the cow and the lamb, make their own kind of trans fat internally. The bacteria in their stomach creates this trans fat that then gets transferred throughout their bodies. And when we eat those guys, we eat the trans fat.
But this kind of trans fat is naturally occurring and good for you! And realistically, it’s only in small doses in those cuts of meat you eat. Only about 3-9% of the cut of beef or lamb is trans fat, so it’s really not a huge amount to be worried about.
But the trans fats that are the devil? Those are the kind made in the laboratory. The stuff that goes into the fast food and baked goods we crave so often.
You see, scientists wanted to find a way to turn liquid fats into solids and to keep them from going rancid. So they took vegetable oils, changed the molecular structure (called hydrogenation) and turn that oil into a margarine (plus other kinds of fake fat variations). Now that margarine can sit on the grocery store shelf longer without spoiling, it can stay solid at room temperature rather than melting, and it can withstand higher heats to be good for baking or frying.
Those all sound like good things, sure. But you’re body doesn’t like this new molecular structure. It can’t break it down very well. And because it can’t break it down, you have a hard time getting any nutrients from it.
So instead of doing the jobs of the naturally occurring fats, these toxic fats clog up our arteries, make us insulin resistant, inflame our cells and joints, increase our risk for diabetes and stroke and contribute to a whole host of other chronic health conditions.
And they are so toxic that for every 2% of total calories you eat from trans fat, your risk of heart diseases increases by 23%. Yowza.
So are all trans fats the devil? No, because you can get perfectly tasty and healthy, naturally occurring trans fat in your beef and lamb. But are the man-made, hydrogenated oils dangerous? You betcha.
BIG FAT LIE #5: SEED AND VEGETABLE OILS ARE GOOD FOR YOU
For some reason, we tout seed and vegetable oils as healthy for you when they absolutely aren’t! Our governmental nutritional agencies even give them the “heart healthy” stamp despite dozens of research studies showing they increase your heart risks! What the heck?
How are we supposed to make heart healthy choices when nutritional agencies are literally telling us to eat crap.
Seed and vegetable oils, like canola, corn, soybean, sunflower and safflower oils are labeled as healthy, but boy are they not.
These oils are heated, washed and chemicalized to make them last longer on the shelves, withstand heat better, and heck, just to make them cheaper to produce.
All of those processes make them pretty much the same as those toxic trans fat (and most vegetable oils have about 4% of trans fat in them anyway). Sure, they have some monosaturated (good for you) fats, but not nearly enough to balance out the other junk in them.
These oils are high in Omega 6s and contribute to inflamed cells and joints. And even though they can “withstand heat,” when you cook with them, cooking actually changes their molecular structure even further making them even less useful and nutritious for your body.
So what do we we do with these vegetable oils? Even though they seem healthy, skip them. Stick with raw olive oil (it’s not processed like the other ones) and tropical oils like coconut oil. These don’t have the trans fat, chemical junk or negative downsides of the vegetable ones.
BIG FAT LIE #6: FAT FREE PRODUCTS ARE GOOD FOR YOU
When the low fat movement started, food manufactures found ways to greatly reduce or eliminate fat from their products. Because, of course, they wanted to keep selling their stuff and making the big bucks.
But fat is what actually gives most foods their delicious flavors. These companies found that when they took out the fat, their food tasted like crap!
To make up for the loss in flavor, food companies started adding more sugars to their foods, both real and artificial sugars (and artificial sugar isn’t considered “sugar,” so even when they add it, they can list “no sugar added” to their cartons). But they also added different chemicals and “natural flavors” to perk up the taste again.
The final result? Highly sugared, highly chemical carbs that had no or very little fat. They erased the one nutritional component that is good for us (remember, fat has tons of uses in our bodies) and replaced it with sugar. That’s a recipe for major fat storing.
So are those better for you? No.
And sadly, the labels on junk foods and processed vegetable oils can’t even be trusted. Many “trans fat free” products still have trans fats!
The FDA gave permission to food producers to label their food “trans fat free” even if it had ½ gram of trans fat per serving. Now, since those food companies can set their own serving sizes, I’m guessing quite a few have shrunk down those servings to get that trans fat right at ½ gram. They can boost the flavor with a manmade, toxic fat, without having to tell the customers!
Because of our cultural fat-phobia, low fat or fat free foods seem like healthy choices. But you’re better off nutritionally to go with the full fat foods to get the healthy fat perks and eliminate the extra sugars and junk.
These BIG FAT LIES ABOUT FAT have convinced too many of us that we need to avoid fat. But if you want to lose weight, build muscle or just live a healthy life, you definitely need fat in your life.
And if these fat lies have confused you, we’ve simplified what you should be eating. What the best fats are and what you should include in your daily diet.
Here it is:
THE FAT RULES: WHAT YOU SHOULD BE EATING
- Choose whole foods, even for fats! A whole avocado has more nutritional value that avocado oil. And real nuts are better than a nut oil So when given the option, aim for whole food fats rather than the modified versions.
- Get plenty of fat from animal meats, but make sure you choose grass fed, hormone free meats.
- Healthy fats do more for your body when eaten without big doses of carbs. So pair your healthy fats with leafy greens and other veggies and lean proteins instead of sugars or carbs.
- Get plenty of Omega 3s. These are one of the healthiest fats for you. And they don’t get stored in your fat cells at all. Instead, your body uses them to make hormones and repair cells. So add some flax seeds and sardines to your daily intake, or supplement with a fish oil pill. But don’t cook with omega 3 fats, they don’t stand up to heat so they lose their nutritional value when you cook with ‘em.
- Cook mostly with coconut oil, but make sure you buy the virgin kind, not a partially hydrogenated one. Since many vegetable oils are processed and have trans fat, they should be avoided. But coconut oil can withstand the heat and bring lots of health perks – like boosting brain function and burning fat.
- Eat full fat, organic butter. It is actually loaded tons of fat soluble vitamins and minerals and can boost your metabolism, protect against cancer and aid in building muscle. And even though it’s a saturated fat, we know it doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol levels.
- Eat avocados and nuts. Although these fats have Omega 6s, they are much healthier than the kind found in your trans fat foods. These foods can help fight inflammation and burn fat when paired with Omega 3s. And they provide a big boost of minerals.
- When it comes to cooking oils, only use raw olive oil (or tropical oils). Vegetable oils, like canola, corn, soy and sunflower, aren’t as heart healthy as they are marketed. They are heated, washed and chemical treated – all of which modifies their structures and reduces the chance for your body to get nutrients from them.
There you have it – the truth about dietary fat.
If you have any questions about what kinds of fats you should be eating, or a few ideas how to use these fats in your daily eating plans, just share them with us in the comments section below!