Does fat make me fat?
Does fat make me fat?
Fat, fat, fat! Wouldn’t it just be easier if it were straight forward and we just stopped eating fat? After all it makes sense to think that eating a high fat diet will tip the scales upward. I mean it seems reasonable to think we should be turning to ‘low fat’ options with the way the market looks with products slapped with ‘99% fat free’ or ‘low in saturated fat’ all over them. So what do we do? We make the switch to low fat foods and banish ‘fat’ from our diet wherever possible. But, this didn’t make us healthier, why? Because we cut the good, the bad and the ugly. There have been numerous studies showing that certain types of fat actually help move the scale in the opposite direction. But it does get confusing about good fat versus bad fat.
So does fat make me fat?
Short answer no.
Long answer you need fat to burn fat. In fact, you may think fat is to blame for our obesity epidemic that is plaguing our nation. But it is only part of the problem. Choosing the right type of fats is one of the most important factors in reducing heart disease.
Fat provides essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft and carry fat soluble vitamins around our body. The problem doesn’t actually lie in fat making us fat but sugar and refined carbohydrates. Fat has a higher calorie count per gram compared to carbs or protein but can positively impact the whole fat burning process. It’s easy to overeat fats because they lurk in so many of the foods we love like fries, cakes, cookies, chocolate, ice cream and processed foods. These are the bad fats that we want to avoid. We should be consuming more buttery avocados, rich salmon and savoury nuts in our diets. By choosing the ‘good fats’ it is one of the most important factors in reducing heart disease and cholesterol.
But what is the difference between good and bad fats?
There are two groups of fats. Saturated (bad) and unsaturated (good). Within each group are several more different types of fat.
I just want to start with all fats are chemically similar. They are made up of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. What makes a good fat good and a bad fat bad is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms. So just a small difference in length and structure can lead to a huge difference in form and function.
The good guys, unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). They come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. When we talk about Mediterranean diet, we talk about MUFAs. There have been multiple studies done to show how good olive oil, avocado, nuts etc are and these are the main fats in the diet.
A pie from your local bakery may have the same calories as an avocado or brazil nut but the difference in how your body uses those calories is night and day. When foods are being marketed as ‘low fat’ if you look at the nutrition label, you will see that it is substituted with a frighteningly high level of sugar. But now we know that fat is good for you, it’s time to rethink your food choices.
Sugars (sugars make up carbs) are known as the most addictive food group. Did you know that consuming sugar lights up the same reward centres as someone doing drugs? What makes matters worse is sugar is the majority of packaged foods in the supermarket. We see them in our cupboards as cereals, energy drinks, lite salad dressings, tomato sauce, the list goes on. These all have excess sugar. This is because when fat is removed, sugar is replaced, and sugar increases the palatability of food.