Throughout my career,most of the people I have come across who are struggling with weight management, are also counting calories.
They are also restricting the amount of fat they consume, thinking it is the devil itself!
But calorie- counting is a fallacy because nutrition is far more complex than just counting calories, and most of the time, this simple way of thinking leads to dieting disaster.
The same goes with our relationship with fat.
We have had it drummed into us that too much fat will lead to high Cholesterol levels and cardiovascular diseases.
But are all fats equal?
Can a high- fat diet actually be crucial to optimal health, as well as being necessary to lose weight?
Could it also be the secret weapon needed to gain a shocking amount of power and energy through the day?
First - let's debug the myths!
Despite the big disconnect between the healthcare we have and the healthcare we need, finally, new research and big institutes are shedding light on this issue with the right studies.
Indeed, newly published scientific evidence supports the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines by affirming that the type of fat we eat is important to our overall health.
Let's push further here and be bold :
1. Fat is good for you!
Our cells, organs, and brains are all made of fat and need high-quality fat to function optimally.
Good Fat makes you think faster :
Fat- known as MYELIN- also forms the basis of the lining of your nerves, and allows electricity to flow efficiently. So the more Myelin you have, the faster you will think.
Healthy fat is down to its transport, so let's talk Cholesterol.
2.Cholesterol isn't the problem.
Although we still speak of good and bad Cholesterol, this is inaccurate,as the answer is all in the transport experience.
Cholesterol is essential - from the build- up of the lining of your cells to your Vitamin D absorption.
It also- when available in the right form and place- prevents the build-up of bile acids that aid in food digestion and help to balance your hormones.
If Cholesterol is NOT present, it can lead to poor immunity and reduced tolerance to stress.
However, just like most of our body functions, balance is everything.
A balance between LDL & HDL levels is crucial to optimal health.
Both transporters are needed but in the correct proportional relationship.
Too low a level of LDL is not healthy for the brain, with studies even showing a correlation between low LDL and depression.
It also leads to a deficiency of vitamins like D, E & K.
Stress is another major factor of Cholesterol imbalance.
It has been shown that athletes experience high levels of LDL due to stress, prior to a competition.
So how to optimise the transport of your fats?
Science is clear: regular aerobic activity causes a change in the transport of fat in the blood.
Specifically, it increases the level of HDL and decreases the level of LDL. It also reduces stress.
A body at rest isn't functioning, which is why sitting for long periods of time has been tagged as problematic, as it increases your risk of degenerative diseases.
It is time we understood that we are not just engines that burn fuel ( calorie in/out) but complex physiological beings who regulate energy flow through motion ( balance ).
Now let's see how much-and which- fats you should consume to improve your health?
Meet the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY!
Here’s the bottom line: “the good” are polyunsaturated fats (and to a lesser extent, monounsaturated fats); “the bad” are saturated fats; and “the ugly” are trans fats.
A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine (Wang et al. 2016)*, showed that people who replaced carbs with foods higher in poly and mono unsaturated fats, instead of foods higher in saturated and trans fats were likely to have a reduced risk of mortality.
Association of Fat Type with All-Cause Mortality:
- Trans fat: 20% higher risk
- Saturated fat: 8% higher risk
- Monounsaturated fat: 13% lower risk
- Polyunsaturated fat: 27% lower risk
BUT forget the statistics! Which fats should you eat?
Eat more of the “Good” & ditch the Ugly :
Eat plenty of fish and seafood- such as salmon, sablefish, herring, and oysters.
Include vegetable oils, like canola and olive, and eat across a range of nuts and seeds – for example- walnuts and flaxseeds
You must avoid food containing trans fats- such as cookies, pies, cakes, microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, margarine, refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls) and ready-to-use frostings that contain fully or partially hydrogenated oils.
Those fats will create an inflammation response in the body, damaging your cells.
These are the oxidised fats, which when produced in your cells’ membranes, create ‘Free Radicals’ placing a huge burden on physiological functioning.
Fat consumption should be tailored to your genes
Whilst we have seen that GOOD FATS are essential to optimum health, approximately one-third of the general population possess a genetic variant in their FADS1 gene that slows their ability to convert plant-based long-chain fats.
However, the proportion of people that possess this variant differs, particularly in regard to geographic (genetic) background.
For example, more than 50% of people from certain regions of East Asia carry this variant and more than 90% of Native Americans.
People with this variant, have a higher risk of metabolic complications, and will benefit from consuming foods that contain very-long-chain polyunsaturated fats such as seafood and eggs.
Learning more about the FADS1 gene and how genetic variations affect your health and dietary requirements for different types of fats, is crucial for getting your fat requirements right.
Other genes- like APOE genes- are also key to the transportation of your fat. For those with the High Impact Variation, it is very important to consume the” Good” fats, as the bad and the ugly will be much more likely to cause collateral damage.
Any questions? Feel free to contact me
Copywriting by Amanda Hills ( @AmandaHLondon )