We often read that Fat is the cause of undesirable health conditions such as weight gain, excess body fat and heart disease, to name just a few. The perception of 'eat fat, get fat' has stuck for years and as a result we've been drawn into following low fat diets, eating more fat-free products and even taking fat burners (which don't work, by the way) in a bid to shift the weight. But despite this fat reduction, as a nation we've been getting bigger, not smaller so something doesn't stack up.
To assume fat is to blame for the majority of our weight battles is unfair. Yes - fat CAN make you fat. But not fat alone. Just as carbs alone won't cause you to balloon overnight after one too many potatoes.
Ultimately It's the amount of calories you consume rather than where those calories are coming from. Simply put, regularly consuming more calories than you burn through exercise, daily activity and bodily functions will see your weight creep up, even if you've reduced fats in your diet.
(As a side note, 1 gram of fat contains 9kcal. Compare this to carbs and protein which contain just 4kcal per gram, you can see why eating fat in excess can quickly push our calories through the roof.)
The Benefits Of Fats
Fats have critical roles to play when it comes to how our body functions. We need fats in our diets to stay healthy. So perhaps if we understood WHY we need fats to survive, we can become less 'fat phobic' and embrace the abundance of the healthy, beneficial fats available to us.
Here's a summary of why we must include fat in our diets:
💚 They help build every cell in our body
💚 They make up a large proportion of our eyes, brain and nervous system
💚 They play an important role in the function of our hormones
💚 They provide essential nutrients such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 which we cannot form on our own
💚 They help the body absorb the essential vitamins A, D, E, K
💚 They are the biggest fuel source in the body which we rely on when going about our daily business
We do of course want to ensure the types of fats we are eating are the healthy ones and that we include a wide variety of unprocessed, whole foods in our diets. Limiting the processed foods we eat such as cakes, biscuits and sweets will have more of an impact on our waist line than cutting out fats in general.
Some great sources of healthy fats are:
🥜 Nuts and seeds
🐄 Dairy products
🐟 Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel)
🐖 Beef, pork, lamb
🦆 Wild game
🧈 Olives & extra-virgin olive oil
So learn to embrace the good stuff, include a wide variety of good fats, carbs and protein into your diet and try to avoid any foods labeled as 'fat-free'. Foods lower in fat aren't necessarily lower in calories. Often the fat is replaced with sugar and becomes more processed. The food may even end up having a similar energy content to the regular version!