January 15

9 comments

Exploding the Fat-Makes-You-Fat Fallacy

By Sue Ingebretson

January 15, 2013

avocado, coconut oil, fats, healthy oils, trans fats, weight loss

EXPLODING THE FAT-MAKES-YOU-FAT FALLACY

I sure never thought I’d write a post that includes the words “exploding” and “fat” in the same headline, but here we are!

Last week, we discussed the top THREE Nutrients to Consume to Stop the Unhealthy Eating Cycle. Don’t miss out on these great tips to start your “getting healthier” plan off to a good start.

The nutrient – fat – was conspicuously missing from this list (as some of you smarty pants noticed!). It was an intentional absence on my part so I could create an entire post on the importance of the much maligned nutrient — fat. The following will probably change what you think you already know about fat (and say it three times in a row if you can):

Limited lies linger longer.

Have you ever noticed that? What I mean is that limited truths — or half-truths  — aren’t just partially true, they’re also partially wrong. Anything but the full truth is limited. And that’s where we fall into trouble. It’s a common newspaper phenomenon where a splash on the front page can later be viewed as a retraction buried in the fine print, but the damage has been done. Only the front page news lingers in the memory of the general public.

Once the limited (and incorrect) news got out decades ago that fat was a villain, the world of food manufacturers went crazy. They went “ban the fat crazy,” “heart health crazy,” and “trans fats crazy.” Low-fat and fat-free foods filled the grocery store shelves (remember SnackWell’s?) and everyone jumped on board. Unfortunately, they would have been better off had they just stopped at the jumping phase (i.e. exercise).

Due to this misinformation, we Americans have seen a startling RISE (not decline!) to our collective body mass, inflammation, heart disease, cancers, and other chronic conditions.

You can simply Google any phrase you like on the subject such as “Low-Fat Diet Myth” or “Debunking Fat-Free” to see more articles than you’d ever have time to read.  I found over a million results on my initial search. This was the first article to catch my eye: Heart Surgeon Admits He Was Wrong About Low Fat Diet and Heart Disease.

The facts here are pretty darned simple.

Bad fats are bad for you and good fats are good for you.

In fact, good fats aren’t just good – they’re VERY good for you.

Fats help you to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat (which helps to build a strong immune system and keep a healthy metabolism!). Fats help to keep you feeling fuller longer so you don’t overeat. Therefore, they’re actually a weight loss benefit. And there’s plenty more to learn, but start by eliminating highly processed fats (trans fats, vegetable oils, canola oil, etc.) and replace them with a variety of healthy fats and oils. Avocados provide both an amazing texture when added to foods, but also an extremely healthy fat that’s easier for the body digest. That makes it “bio available” as the nutrients are ready for easy absorption and available for immediate use. (NOTE: If you aren’t already, be sure to subscribe to my Rebuilding Wellness Newsletter  as I’ll include more info AND recipes using avocados in my February Issue – just in time for your Super Bowl party!)

Besides avocados, I could write an entire post waxing poetic about the benefits of coconut oil. But, that’s not necessary since the tide has turned and thousands of articles now exist hailing the many benefits. As I was working on the manuscript for my book, FibroWHYalgia, many years ago, I had more than one editor strike out my recommendation for coconut oil. They said, “That can’t be! My doctor says … blah, blah, blah….”

But from my research, reading, and experience – the benefits were clear. It’s a good thing I’d developed a spine by then and could re-insert their deletions.
Coconut oil can fight infections, soften skin and hair, is stable for cooking in higher heat, and even has some links to improved cognition. There are studies linking improvements in Alzheimer’s symptoms to consuming coconut oil and I’m all for that! Learn more benefits of coconut oil by checking out this Huffington Post Coconut Oil article.

Other healthy oils can include grapeseed, olive, avocado, walnut, almond, macadamia, red palm, sesame, flax, etc. The key is to always check the label. Just because it says “olive oil” doesn’t mean it’s good for you if it’s highly processed and denuded of its nutritional benefits.

Another consideration is that not oils are considered equal when used for cooking. For example, olive oil is fabulous for drizzling over roasted veggies – after they’re roasted. It’s not a great oil to use for cooking at high heats. Oils can be rated for their flash point or smoke point based on how high they can be heated before they begin to break down and become unsafe. Here’s a Whole Foods Guide to Cooking Oils that you may find interesting.

Now that you know that fat doesn’t make you fat – can you share ways that you plan to ADD healthy fats to your diet?

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Reminders: The Weight Loss and Wellness Summit 2013 has begun but it’s not too late to register for FREE. Sign up now to hear experts chime in on subjects such as weight loss, nutrition, fitness, motivation, etc.  Also, don’t forget to listen to KABC 790 AM THIS coming Saturday night at 7:00 PM Pacific time to hear my interview with Susan Irby the Bikini Chef!

  1. Great article! You can actually halt the weight loss process by being “low fat” and keeping the good fat out of your diet…not a good thing!

  2. Great post, Sue! Thanks for exploding the myths. I bought some coconut oil last week and am still exploring how to regularly include it in my eating habits (not diet, because I refuse to diet!).

    1. Perfect comment, Louise! I don’t “diet” either as eating well is a life-long experience. I include coconut oil in my smoothies, veggies, and in whatever meats I sautee. You can even take it “medicinally” directly from a spoon. Feel free to email me if you’d like more ideas!

  3. You need to redo your post, dear. You left out the most important fat of all: SATURATED. Your brain is over half saturated fat and cholesterol is the preferred fuel of the heart. Mankind evolved eating nothing but fat, meat & fish and a few nuts and berries for millions of years before agriculture was invented. We went downhill from there.

    1. Jean — thanks for your comment! Yes, saturated fats are VERY important to the diet and that’s why I included references to healthy oils that do include sources of saturated fat. Healthy saturated fats can also be found in some animal-based meats as well, although they’re not listed.

      1. You have a very interesting and well rounded site. I’ll be back often.

        I used to use coconut oil for my face and hair but it’s too messy in summer and too hard in winter, so I switched to Crisco. It even clears up blemishes! A small can should last me a couple of years. I love it. I still cook with coconut oil and eat it. That and butter! Haha!

        1. Jean — I wouldn’t use Crisco on my skin and definitely wouldn’t eat it. However, I do understand that coconut oil is oftentimes either too runny or too hard. But you can keep small amounts in the fridge for use on your hair/skin and it softens up pretty quickly by submerging the small jar in a bowl of warm water. There’s TONS of info on http://www.TropicalTraditions.com. So glad you’ve brought up this fun subject!

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" 
~ Sue Ingebretson