What's the Skinny on Fat?
Ok….fine…I’ll admit that when I’m not following a clean eating regimen, my favorite thing to eat is organic, free range, full fat butter. I put it on everything. Seriously, just the other night I made almond meal club crackers, not bad (totally grain free). Nothing I will make again, but once I slathered them in butter, they were delicious. I’m not afraid of butter nor am I afraid of fat. I choose to listen to the science when it comes to fat, so I know that fat, good fat, can actually keep me lean! Huh? Lean? That's right. Here's the skinny:
The good thing about fat is that it promotes "satiety" -- the feeling of being full. That makes overeating fat tough to do. That’s much different than eating simple carbohydrates, like bread, that don’t give us that same feeling of fullness. We don’t get fat from overeating fat; we get fat from overeating carbohydrates. Not to mention the fact that eating carbohydrates, like bread, causes a spike in our insulin levels, and we either burn the carbohydrates for energy, or we store them as fat. The point at which we produce less insulin from carbohydrates, we can burn fat. This is what we call "fat-adapted".
Not all fats were created equal. Let me give you the skinny on how much and what types of fat are good:
Saturated Fat, such as coconut and palm oil, used to get a bad rap, but now we know they promote heart health, weight loss, and support healthy immune functions. Both have a very high "smoke point" and are good to cook under high heat. Full fat dairy is not allowed on the FIT Nutrition Plan, but I want to say something about it. Full fat, raw, organic, grass-fed dairy has been shown to help with weight loss, and some studies show it's associated with healthier blood cholesterol levels. (http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n6/abs/ejcn201045a.html)
So something to consider once your 14-Day New Year Challenge is over, if you want to go back to dairy, make it full fat, organic, and grass-fed!
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (both unsaturated). Monounsaturated fats stay liquid at room temperature, but they can start to solidify in the fridge. Polyunsaturated fats stay liquid at both room temperature and in fridge.
Monounsaturated fats, include nuts, avocados, olive oil, and grape seed oil (usually these oils are best for cooking)
Polyunsaturated fats can go rancid easily and have a short shelf life. Try and avoid these completely. They include sunflower seed oil, cotton seed oil, vegetable oils, and soybean oil.
Omega 3 fats are the good polyunsaturated fats: cold water fish, mackerel, salmon, herring. They help reduce inflammation and prevent cancer growth. Also, walnuts and flax seeds are polyunsaturated and are good for you. Just make sure they are fresh.
So if fat is good for us, how much fat should we eat? Well, it depends on what your goals are. If you want to lose weight, one of the most effective ways to do so is to eat a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Yes, I said high in fat. This might mean up to 70% of your macronutrients come from fat. Macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, protein and fat, are needed for growth, metabolism and other body functions. They also provide calories for energy and, as you may have guessed, are needed in large amounts. A diet high in good fat can be a long term solution for weight loss when done right. Picking the right fat and pairing it with good carbohydrates (green vegetables) and supplementing with amino acids maintains muscle integrity. It can be challenging to actually take in that much fat if we aren’t used to it. In that case, I recommend starting at 30 to 40% of your macronutrient intake from fat. See how it feels and adjust from there.
Most people have this question whenever they hear me advocate eating more fat: "What about cholesterol? Won't my cholesterol go way up if I eat so much fat?" Here's the skinny on that too:
Eating fat does not cause atherosclerosis. It might be hard to believe, but our bodies are far more advanced than modern-day plumbing. Fat doesn’t actually get clogged in our arteries. Atherosclerosis is actually caused by the oxidation of LDL (low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol"), which causes inflammation. The damage then leads to the formation of plaque on the artery walls. We can avoid oxidizing LDL and producing too much of it by eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates. Unhealthy LDL levels are also influenced by obesity (specifically adipose tissue around the waist), underactive thyroid, drinking alcohol, and an inactive lifestyle. Obviously, at least a couple of these factors are controllable!
So, that's the skinny on fat. Questions about your specific dietary needs or just want to make sure you're clear on what and what not to eat? Just ask us!
See you in the gym!
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Here is the recipe for the club crackers I made the other night:
1 egg, whisked until frothy
2 Tbsp unsalted butter from pastured cows, melted and cooled
3 cups blanched almond flour
1 Tbsp honey
1½ tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix salt, honey, melted butter and frothy egg together.
3. Work in the almond flour to form a stiff dough.
4. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper (it’s a bit easier to deal with half of the dough at a time). Roll to about 1/8” thick. Peel the top layer of parchment paper off and cut the dough into 1½“ squares (or whatever shape you like).
5. Place dough squares onto prepared baking sheets, spaced fairly close together.
6. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until just starting to brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!