Are Fats Bad For You ?

Dietary fat is one of the most hotly debated macronutrients, period. People will go to extremes either avoiding fats or eat a diet that is mostly fat based. Whether people would like to admit it or not, we require a certain amount of dietary  to be truly healthy.

As a society we have a lot of negative perceptions about dietary fats, that are based on bad science from many years ago.

The unfavorable opinion of fat is still around today because people were told growing up by teachers, doctors, parents  and our government that fat is bad for us and causes heart disease.

The unfortunately we were encouraged to ditch the healthy natural fats in exchange for hydrogenated processed fats that were made in factories.

We have since learned that the natural fats such as butter,coconut oil, grass fed beef and other sources of saturated fat are restorative to our health, while the vegetable oils that have been recommended can wreak havoc in the body.

This low fat diet in conjunction with highly processed carbohydrates and sugar has sent  our health as a society down the drain.

Alzheimers, Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and many other neurological disorders are all on the rise, even though we have followed the low fat, high processed carb recommendations.

If something is not working it is time to step back and take a look at the approach and see what’s broken. This blog post is going to explain what fats are, what they do in the human body to promote health  and why all fats are not created equal!

Macronutrient Bad Boy: Fats

Along with proteins, carbohydrates and water, fat is a macronutrient that the body requires in larger amounts. Minerals and vitamins are micronutrients meaning that they are essential to health, but required in smaller quantities than macronutrients.

Fats comprise roughly fifteen percent of our body weight. Animal and vegetable sources of fat provide a dense source of energy in our diet, and are required for optimal health.

Many of the foods that contain the largest concentration of fats come from animals, but there are some great plant sources too. Some of the richest sources of dietary fat are: Grass fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil,  coconut flesh, cream cheese, avocados, sour cream, full fat cheese, bacon, dark chocolate and whole eggs.

Fats and oils (named lipids) are a grouping of  fatty acids made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Fatty acids are molecules made up of a chain of carbon atoms.

These chains contain one to twenty four carbon atoms, and are categorized based on the length of the carbon atoms and degree of saturation.

The Different Players

Some of the most important roles of fats in the body are that they:

  • Provide a longer burning source of fuel for the body

  • Play a role in healthy skin and hair,

  • Supports the immune system,

  • Make up cell membranes  

  • Precursors to hormones,

  • Insulate our internal organs

  • Are required for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K)

  • Contribute to neurological health, mood and anxiety.

We have a wide variety of natural fats that help support our health, along with other man made fats that damage our health. It is an important distinction to make and understand which ones to eat, and which to ditch.

Fats To Think About:

  • Saturated Fats

  • Monounsaturated Fats

  • Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Trans Fats ( there are natural and man made trans fats)

Saturated Fats

Lets start with the most controversial fat in our society. It has  been demonized and widely avoided by many folks.

For years we have been told that saturated fats will cause higher levels of cholesterol which in turn will clog arteries causing heart disease, but this is far from the whole story. 

Some very short studies lasting a few weeks showed that greater intake of saturated fats did raise cholesterol, HOWEVER many long term studies with over 350,000 participants didn't show a correlation between saturated fats, blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease in the long term. A few weeks is not a long enough time to make a conclusion on a study like this.

Foods that are the richest in saturated fats are coconut oil, coconut flesh/milk, full fat  dairy, beef tallow, palm oil, grass fed beef, lard, duck fat, chicken fat and whole eggs (yolks), butter, ghee, lamb and pork.

Saturated fats are:

  • the main structural fats in the body

  •  make up the majority of the fatty acids found in cells

  • helps incorporate calcium into bones

  • aids in cardiovascular function

  •  supports a healthy immune system

  •  transports the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K around the body.

Saturated fat are the best choice to cook with because they are very stable and do not go rancid easily. The oils are solid or semi solid at room temperature and are found in animal fats ( butter ghee, tallow, duck fat, lard) and tropical oils (coconut oil, red palm oil)

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are the one fat that everyone from paleo to vegan folks can agree on for the health benefits! The best sources of monounsaturated fats are macadamia nuts, olives and olive oil, avocado, pork fat, chicken, almonds, eggs yolks, and duck.

Monounsaturated fats are also a primary structural component of the body, and are known for:

  •  Positive effects on cardiovascular health

  • reduce oxidative damage

  • decrease inflammation

  • decline in LDL and Triglycerides

  •  boost the production of HDL and help immune function.

These fats are relatively stable to cook with at lower heats, but saturated fats are the best for anything above low/med cooking.

These fats are liquid at room temperature and do not go rancid easily. Olive oil, almond oil and avocado oil  are monounsaturated fats, but use for very low heats or cold uses to preserve the health benefits.

Polyunsaturated Fats

There are two different types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Polyunsaturated fats play a main role in cell membranes and regulating functions in the body as well.

Polyunsaturated fats help to regulate the inflammatory and anti inflammatory reactions in the body. Most people who eat the standard american diet get an overabundance of omega-6 fats and far too little omega-3’s leading to chronic inflammation from the diet.

By reducing the intake of vegetable oils and omega-6 rich foods, and increasing the intake of omega-3 rich foods you can reduce inflammation dramatically.

There are six different omega-6 and omega-3 fats, but there is only one essential omega-3 and omega-6 fat. This means that these two essential polyunsaturated fats must be obtained from your diet, while the body can manufacture the other needed polyunsaturated fats on its own.

Polyunsaturated fats are relatively unstable and go rancid much easier than any of the other fats. The oil sources of polyunsaturated fats (all vegetable oils) will always be liquid at room temperature.

These fats should not ever be used for cooking they are very easy to damage with heat and become much more inflammatory in the body.

Essential Omega-6 Fat: Linoleic Acid (LA)

This essential fatty acid can be found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, grains meat and in larger amounts in poultry, nuts and seeds.

Unfortunately the largest concentration of these essential fats are in vegetables oils such as canola, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and soybean.

The major problem is that these oils are highly processed, and are damaged very easily by heat when cooked. When these processed oils are cooked with they become much more inflammatory to the body.

When vegetable oils are consumed in excess without adequate omega-3 fats it creates an inflammatory cascade that contributes to chronic diseases.

We need both omega-6 and omega-3 fats in the diet, but they are required in a much more balanced ratio than the standard american diet provides. When you stick to the whole food sources of Linoleic Acid this problem is avoided.

Arachidonic Acid (ARA)

Arachidonic acid is a longer chain omega-6 fatty acid that our bodies can make from linoleic acid (LA). ARA can also be found in large amounts in animal foods such as egg yolks, chicken, beef and pork.

It can be found in our cell membranes and plays a role in messages sent between cells. ARA contributes to the growth of muscle tissue and skeleton. You will not normally hear a lot about Arachidonic Acid but it plays a big role in health.

Essential Omega-3 Fat: Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

ALA can be found in plant sources such as walnut and flaxseed. Your body will convert ALA into the very important omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is very very poor so it is a much better bet to get EPA and DHA from the dietary sources such as  such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, bass , oysters and lower concentrations is grass fed beef and ruminants.

While the ALA is the essential fat, it is the EPA and DHA that we derive the benefits from. What creates a problem is the extremely low conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA.

In many people the conversion rate varies from 0.5-5% , this conversion also depends on other nutrients such as B-vitamins and Zinc which most people are deficient in.

Nature Made: Trans Fats   

There is a clear distinction that needs to be made between the two different types of trans fats: those from nature and man made artificial.

The main source of natural trans fats we eat are in the form of  Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) from grass fed animals and grass fed animal products and in much lower concentrations in grain fed animals. Our body can also manufacture CLA from other natural trans fats.

Some of the known benefits of natural trans fats are lower risk of heart disease, improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity which can help prevent and to some degree manage diabetes, there is some evidence that CLA can even help those who are obese lose weight.

Man Made: Trans Fats

The man made trans fats are found in processed foods such as fast food, butter substitutes frozen dinners, candy, chips, doughnuts and margarine.

While man made trans fats vary slightly in their structure from natural trans fats that slight difference creates big problems in the body.

These artificial trans fats:

  • damage the lining of blood vessels

  • create inflammation

  • decrease the omega-3 conversions

  • damage cardiovascular health

  •  increase the dense damaging LDL particles

  •  decreasing the anti inflammatory HDL cholesterol particles.

    There is nothing remotely good about the man made trans fats, they only damage our health.

The Takeaway

People want dietary fats to either be good or bad for us. it would make things much simpler, but when it comes to nutrition there are a lot of factors to consider.

Making those stark good/bad statements with no context and poor science is what got us into the health predicament we are in.

The fact of the matter is that natural fats have been a significant source of energy in our diet for many ages.

Agriculture dramatically changed the balance of macronutrients in our diet, grains, sugar and processed carbohydrates soon became a significant portion of our diet.

We were fooled into thinking the same fats that fueled our healthy robust were going to raise our cholesterol and give us heart disease.

In response to this new information about saturated fats causing heart disease we switched to either no fats diets, or used highly processed vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils,  margarine or  butter substitutes that have all been proven to damage our health.

Overconsumption of these processed oils is linked to heart disease, inflammation and neurological disorders, go figure.  unless we start to makes changes to our current diet, our health will continue to degrade.

To get things moving in the right direction we need to move away from the man made fats and incorporate the healthy fats nature provides.

The majority of the fats we consume need to be from natural sources and not man made. 

We need to avoid processed vegetable oils, while consuming the natural sources of omega-6 fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds in moderate amounts.

The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA should be consumed regularly along with the Omega-6 fat Arachidonic Acid (ARA). If nothing else remember fats that come from natural sources are healthy while fats that are made by man damage our health.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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15 ways to Survive The Holiday Cravings At Social Events

It's that time of year again pumpkin spice lattes, ugly sweater parties, egg nog and lots of late nights. During this time of year it is easy to see your health goals backslide because of the poor habits we adopt.

We allow ourself to think we are exempt from the consequences of our repeated bad choices because  It's that time of year again, but the fact of the matter is that poor choices are poor choices any season of the year.

 I think that the largest driver behind a lot of these poor choices has to do with our cravings, and the abundance of the sugary and fatty foods that surround us during the holiday season.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about attending social events and seeing people you care about, and not always trying to be perfect with your nutrition. 

 This blog covers my top 15 recommendations for handling the holiday cravings. 

1.) Eat  Before Social Events: Make sure to eat before an event to curb the cravings for junk food. Eating before an event will allow you to feel satiated with the better foods reducing the want or need for other foods. 

2.) Eat Adequate Protein and Fat Before The Event: protein and fat are high satiety foods and will keep you fuller for longer, curbing those cookie cravings.

3.) Focus On Being Around Loved Ones : When you change the focus to being around friends and family, the food becomes less of an issue. Remember the holidays are about giving and celebrating with loved ones, not that third slice of pie. 

4.) Don’t Be Afraid To Say “No Thank You” To Foods: There are always food pushers at social events with food,  they try to pressure you to eat certain foods or say things like “you can  make an exception for…” Be confident and comfortable telling someone “no thank you” or saying “I’m full”. Your health is yours, don’t let others influence what you choose to eat, that can be a slippery slope.

5.) Set Limits Before Heading Out: Make agreements with yourself before social events such as how many drinks you will have or what foods you are going to strictly avoid. Respect the agreement you made with yourself and don't let others influence your agreements, treat yourself well. 

6.) Get Plenty Of Sleep: Getting adequate sleep allows for less unhealthy cravings, builds more muscle and helps the body recover from daily stresses. Sleep is crucial to our health, and lack of sleep can negatively affect decision making skills and your will power. 

7.) Workout Before Social Events: If you end up indulging at a social event the exercise will allow the body to better deal with the extra sugar, fat, and alcohol  you have consumed. Exercise can also be a great motivator to help people continue healthy habits with nutrition and sleep. 

8.) Bring Food To Share: If you bring a healthier option to share you are guaranteed to have a healthier option. When leading by example you might encourage some conversations around food and nutrition. Use this as an opportunity to educate others on nutrition and to hear what others have to think and share what you know as well. Don't be combative with your view points, focus on what you have in common with others instead of the differences. 

9.) Start With The Healthier Options: When you start with the healthier options at a party it leaves less room on your plate  for the junk foods we are trying to avoid. By the time you eat those healthier options and nourish your body, the craving for other food will naturally be cured.

10.) Eat Slowly And Chew Well: We need to give enough time for our gut to signal the brain saying that we are well nourished and no longer require any more food. This signal from the gut turns the hunger signal in the brain off and can take about up 20 minutes.

By eating  too quickly we are able to bypass these hard wired signals and over consume food before our gut and brain have the chance to shut down the hunger signal. This habit also overloads our digestion making it work much harder than it should to process the extreme amount of food we have consumed.

11.) Before Indulging ask yourself “How Important Is This To Me Compared To My Long Term Health Goals?”:  When you make a decision between better and poorer options, realize at that moment that is what you wanted the most.

There is no going back you should not feel guilty about about it. I’ve heard Dallas Hartwig from Whole9 and the Whole 30 say before “ No guilt, just consequences” and that hits the nail right on the head.

Typically when we make less than healthy choices we can feel a negative reaction in our body, that is the consequence. The Shame,guilt and stress that we put on our self is much more damaging that the actual food we consumed. No guilt, just consequences. You can't undo that choice, move forward without any shame or guilt. 

12.) Stay Hydrated: The hunger and thirst signal can be confused by the body. It sounds funny to think that we could make this simple mistake, but we do it all the time with unnecessary snacking.  Next time you feel an urge to snack,  drink a tall glass of water and see if you still feel the same hunger afterwards. When out at a social event with unhealthy options decrease the chance of mindless snacking by staying properly hydrated, it can also help with hangovers.

13.)Be Selective With Food Choices: If you are going to indulge, keep it gluten and hydrogenated/trans fat free.  Make the treat worthwhile, don’t make an exception for a regular old christmas sugar cookie. Make the indulgence something decadent and memorable. In short,  go big or go home with the indulgence.

14.) HCL and Digestive Enzymes: Overloading our digestion with too much food and  unhealthy options is a digestive distress double whammy, sure to make it feel like you have a brick in your stomach. Take some of the burden off your digestive system by supplementing with HCL (hydrochloric acid) and digestive enzymes to allow for greater breakdown of foods. These are especially helpful supplements when planning to eat a larger meal.

15.) Return To Your Normal Routine The Next Morning: The occasional indulgence can be good for to help folks kick their heels up and enjoy social events. It is equally important to get back on track the next morning though. Many people let one indulgence turn into a few days or a week of unhealthy habits. Avoid this by making an agreement with yourself that the very next day you are getting back into your healthy nutrition and sleep habits. 

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


Name *
Name
Phone *
Phone