A lot of people ask the question Does Fat Make You Fat?
When I was a kid, I learned to despise fat.
Everything was fat-free this, fat-free that – yadda yadda yadda. But of course, foods containing loads of sugar and other chemical sh*tstorms were perfectly acceptable. Plus, I battled with my weight starting when I was very young, so as far as I was concerned, avoiding fat was simply the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, though, it sure didn’t keep my weight down. It did, however, lead me to engage in unhealthy eating habits (which eventually became eating disorders). I relied on pre-packaged foods that offered me the promise that I could eat what I wanted without consequence. As long as I was convinced I was consuming less fat, I had no problems eating an entire bag of fat-free cookies.
I’m sure you can relate.
Fast forward a couple of decades and of course, it’s a different story now. As with all things, an idea becomes a fad; that fad becomes a belief and soon enough, we all live our lives as though this notion is objective truth.
But is it true? Does Fat Make You Fat?
What if it turns out fat isn’t the enemy?
Let’s see what fat really is and what it does for us. Then maybe, instead of grabbing those little colored packets of artificial silliness (thinking they’ll keep our waistlines tiny and our little black books filled with dates), we’ll start eating consciously and intelligently.
Does Fat Make You Fat?
Myth #1 – Fat (in the body) is unhealthy
Even though most of us would prefer to keep our body fat down, the truth is, we need it.
Fat does a body good. It provides useful (and life-sustaining) functions, such as:
- Storing energy for later use.
- Maintenance of menstruation, pregnancy and lactation in women.
- Helps provide healthy metabolism, bone health and energy balance.
Now of course, just because fat (in the body and in our food) is beneficial doesn’t mean it’s cool to overdo it. Actually, it isn’t a good idea to overdo anything. And when it comes to fat(s), they aren’t all created equal.
Some are ideal, and some – well – not so much.
This leads to…
Myth #2 – All fats are bad
As you’ve probably heard by now, there are several types of fats out there, and they all provide different effects on our health.
Saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature, are most commonly associated with heart disease . However, what’s interesting is that while we associate saturated fats with things like butter and fatty meats, coconut oil also falls under the category of saturated fat.
But coconut oil is considered beneficial for our health. And according to this study, it doesn’t seem to have the same adverse effects on heart health. So this just shows us that using discernment is a wise thing to do.
Now unsaturated fats are considered “ideal.” You’ll find this in things like nuts and oils (including fish and plant oils) that remain liquid at room temperature.
It’s been said a diet that includes nonhydrogenated unsaturated fats, in combination with fruits and vegetables and physical activity is the ideal way to maintain optimal heart health.
Trans fats, on the other hand, are considered the most harmful type of fat for cardiac health, yet the inclusion of it is pretty widespread in most American diets.
You’ll find trans fat in things like processed foods – often labeled as “partially hydrogenated oil.”
Your best bet is to steer clear of it. And since it’s still legal to include .5g of trans fat in a food product without mentioning it in the nutrition facts, I’d strongly suggest reading the labels and keeping a lookout for those partially hydrogenated oils.
Myth #3 – Low-fat foods are a better option
Food products that claim they’re either “light” or fat-free usually get away with this because they just add sugar and other chemicals to enhance the flavor.
Your best bet is simply to eat a diet rich in high-quality nutrients and kick the processed stuff to the curb.
If you eat things like avocados, nuts, seeds and oils – and do this using balance – you’ll not only feel satisfied, but you won’t have to sit around and worry about whether or not you’re causing harm to yourself.
So as you can see, fat can be useful and even healthy.
It’s just about using food as a tool for well-being. When that becomes your priority, your choices will start to make sense – and you’ll enjoy the process.