5 Reasons To Eat More Fat!
by Vickie Chin on Aug 26, 2018
Have you heard the good news? Fat is BACK! For some people, it didn’t really go anywhere but for a lot of people, they’ve spent the last few decades running away from it. We’ve compiled a short list of ‘5 Reasons to Eat MORE Fat!’. Keep reading to find out why your body actually NEEDS fat to function but also why some fats are better than others!
- Fats are an amazing source of energy that don’t cause spikes in insulin levels:
“.... our bodies are able to burn fat as energy more efficiently. Diets high in healthy fats increase insulin sensitivity, as opposed to diets high in carbs which increase insulin resistance.”
People who eat diets high in quality fats and low in high glycemic carbs have MORE energy, HIGHER cognitive performance and LOWER body-fat!
When we eat carbs they essentially get turned into sugar through the digestive process. Once that sugar hits the bloodstream, it spikes the release of a hormone called insulin. These spikes in insulin levels translate to spikes in your energy levels. A real life example of this is when you give a 5 year old candy and they start running circles around you. But what happens to this 5 year old half an hour later? They crash, and then their bodies scream for MORE! The same thing happens to you when you fuel your body with simple carbs, like refined sugars and high glycemic foods.
When we eat healthy fats on the other hand, there is little to no insulin response. There are no spikes in energy, and it is instead delivered as a steady stream. This also means there is no ‘crash’ that follows shortly after and we are less likely to head back for that another serving.
Most people believe that carbs are the best source of energy for our bodies but in reality, our bodies have actually adapted to be this way. In reality, our bodies are able to burn fat as energy more efficiently. Diets high in healthy fats increase insulin sensitivity, as opposed to diets high in carbs which increase insulin resistance. We want our bodies to be more sensitive to insulin because this reduces our likelihood of developing high blood sugar and diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes!
- Full fat food swaps are often highly processed and contain hidden ingredients:
“Low-fat and reduced-fat food options are often laced with these transfats and contain higher amounts of sugar, because if we’re taking out the fat we’re taking out the flavour, so we have to make it taste good somehow!”
When fat first became the enemy, full fat dairy and red meats were seen as the main culprits when it came to a decline in heart health. Oils from animal fat once used for cooking were swapped for hydrogenated vegetable oils and full fat milk and cheese were replaced with low-fat, reduced-fat and skim options. Because fat has more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, these replacements often have fewer calories per serving, which causes many people to see these foods as “healthier”. This could not be farther from the truth.
The un-saturated vegetable oils that replaced cooking with animal fats are made using a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated oil refers to vegetable oils that have had hydrogen added to their molecular makeup and are 100% chemically manufactured. The pros to these oils are that they tend to last longer plus, they cost less than 100% natural, unprocessed vegetable oils and animal fats. The cons however include them falling under the category of transfats. Transfats directly promote inflammation while negatively impacting cholesterol levels. Yikes.
Low-fat and reduced-fat food options are often laced with these transfats and contain higher amounts of sugar, because if we’re taking out the fat we’re taking out the flavour, so we have to make it taste good somehow! Although these foods might contain less calories, they usually contain twice as many ingredients, (most of which you can’t pronounce) and have higher amounts of refined carbohydrates. Remember, refined carbs increase insulin resistance and sugar cravings which can lead to high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes. Double Yikes.
Rather than opting for low fat modified food options, try incorporating more full fat whole foods and healthy oils such as coconut, avocado and olive.
- Fat improves brain function:
“One of the most fundamental vitamins for brain function is Vitamin D...So how does your body make Vitamin D? With cholesterol!”
Did you know that your brain is made up of 70% fat and also holds approximately 25% of the body’s cholesterol? Fats are essential to creation of new brain cells. These cells create the vital links that underlie memory and learning, therefore the brain needs cholesterol. Fat therefore not only helps to form new brain cells, but it also improves brain functions such as memory and cognition.
One of the most fundamental vitamins for brain function is Vitamin D, which helps to facilitate neuron growth. Studies have even discovered a link between Vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of developing brain related diseases like Dementia! So how does your body make Vitamin D? With cholesterol!
Many studies have also been done on individuals suffering from epilepsy who have been put on what is called the ketogenic diet. The keto diet, for short, proposes that individuals can not only lose fat but also improve brain health by reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing their fat intake. The keto diet has you eating 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs and was first introduced to treat patients with epilepsy in the 1920’s. The effects of the keto diet on these individuals has been extremely positive. There was a significant decrease in not only the number of seizures they experience but ALSO in their need for more medication!
- Our bodies NEED cholesterol:
“We naturally make roughly 3000 mg of cholesterol every single day. When we don’t eat foods high in cholesterol, our bodies make more but if we do supply our bodies with cholesterol, our bodies simply don’t need to make as much”
It’s important to understand that cholesterol itself is not bad for you. Our bodies actually need cholesterol to function properly, especially our brains, as illustrated above. We naturally make roughly 3000 mg of cholesterol every single day. When we don’t eat foods high in cholesterol, our bodies make more but if we do supply our bodies with cholesterol, our bodies simply don’t need to make as much.
50% of our cell membranes are actually made from cholesterol. The cell membrane acts like a door, allowing nutrition, electrolytes and vitamins from whatever we eat to enter the cell. It also protects the central nervous system, aka our brains.
Cholesterol also helps make bile, which is used to break down fats and extract their essential fatty acids (all of those precious Omega-3’s, 6’s and 9’s). Without cholesterol, our bodies can’t even reap the benefits of all of those pricey Omega-3 supplements!
Hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone are also made from cholesterol. This is why individuals on low fat diets and those with low body fat percentages often suffer from hormonal imbalances.
- Cholesterol doesn’t [directly] cause heart attacks:
“However, the only reason that cholesterol is moved there in the first place is to patch up the damage caused by something else. More often than not, this “something else” is inflammation.”
Much of what we read online says that there are two types of cholesterol, the “good” and the “bad”. HDL is often praised as the good cholesterol and LDL is more often than not described as the “bad” cholesterol that leads to heart disease. In reality, HDL and LDL aren’t even cholesterol, they’re proteins that act as vehicles for cholesterol. While both are vehicles for cholesterol, they perform different functions and are both equally important. HDL drives cholesterol to the liver to be recycled and LDL takes this recycled cholesterol from the liver to the vascular system and cell membranes for use. They act as exchangers of cholesterol.
Cholesterol only becomes a problem when there is a buildup within the vascular system that LDL is driving to, i.e. the arteries. However, the only reason that cholesterol ismoved there in the first place is to patch up the damage caused by something else. More often than not, this “something else” is inflammation. When our arteries are damaged from inflammation, cholesterol is sent to act as a bandaid. LDL is the vehicle that drives this hero cholesterol to save the day.
There are also 2 types of LDL: type A and type B. Neither types of LDL are inherently “bad”, however type B’s are small, dense and sticky with the ability to plaque and create a build up, which can lead to what we refer to as clogged arteries. Therefore even though this type B cholesterol was sent to fix a problem, like a hole, type B LDL will continue to patch this “hole” until the entire artery becomes blocked. So even though type B LDL is not inherently bad, Type A LDL, which is large, fluffy and buyant in contrast, is better because it doesn’t have this plaquing ability.
You can reduce the amounts of type B LDL’s by reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates and refined sugar you eat while increasing type A LDL’s by eating more saturated fats like coconut oil and whole eggs.
Rather than reducing the amount of cholesterol we ingest, we should instead focus on reducing the amount of inflammatory foods we consume, such as refined sugars and high glycemic carbohydrates.