How many times in your life have you avoided butter? Or asked for low-fat salad dressing? Or bought low-fat yogurt? I know I have done these things COUNTLESS times. However, I never realized that my efforts to diminish my fat content were actually diminishing my desired results.
Wait, do you mean that fat is good for us? You bet it is!
Why then do we have a nation filled with fat-phobia? Dr. Mark Hyman, in his new book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, provides information pertaining to why fat has been demonized and why we should fight this ridiculous, potentially detrimental, notion.
Why should we believe Dr. Mark Hyman?
“I have been both a vegan and an omnivore over the course of my life. I have eaten low-fat, high-carb with tens of thousands of patients over 30 years of medical practice…I am not to a particular point of view. I am curious about what lies beneath the money and the egos behind the research. I am interested in one simple thing. What should we eat to stay fit, thin, and healthy?” Mark Hyman
Us too Mark. Us too.
You might be thinking right now. Seriously Chelsea? You want me to eat MORE fat!?! Well, actually yes. But the right KIND of fat. Is it worth it to give it a try? Well it might be, considering the fact that consuming the proper kinds of fats can lead to hormone balance, weight loss, improved connectivity, fight Alzheimer’s disease, help reduce type II diabetes, and fix infertility.
Yep. It’s insane.
Want to know how? Read on my friends, read on.
Fleshing Out Our Fear of Fat
So why is it that so many of us have grown up fearing fat? In order for us to understand this misconception it is vital for us to do a short history lesson.
History of Misconception in Nutrition
Well in the 1970s obesity and heart disease were increasing. Therefore, Mark Hegsted, professor of nutrition at Harvard, issued the first Dietary Goals for the United States. Hegsted was fiercely against saturated fat, so he manipulated the level of fat in a person’s diet during his clinical trials. Therefore, people were advised to increase carbohydrates in 1992 to 6 to 11 servings of bread, rice, cereal, and pasta a day.
“Suddenly pasta was a health food and fat was demonized.” Mark Hyman
The unfortunate problem with this outcome is that, as Dr Dariush Mozaffarian would tell us, “low fat diets have had unintended consequences, turning people away from healthy high-fat foods and toward foods rich in added sugars, starches, and refined grains...We really need to sing it from the rooftops that the low-fat diet concept is dead. There are no health benefits to it” (47). We took out fat and added sugar.
Sugar is the main driver of obesity and heart disease, not fat
The bottom line, according to Dr. Yudkin: Sugar is the bad guy here, not fat.
Eating Fat DOES NOT Make You Fat
For as long as I can remember I have been hearing the phrase, calories in, calories out. Or, “eat less, move more.” If these are the words being preached to us and mostly followed, why is it that we’re experiencing a national epidemic of heart disease and diabetes? Well, for one thing, calories are NOT created equal. The digestion of an avocado is going to affect your body differently than a hamburger (duh). Rather than focusing on calories and quantity, we should focus on quality and the composition of our diet.
“Food is not just a source of energy or calories. Food is information” (56). It affects your genes, hormones, brain chemistry, immune system, gut flora, metabolism.
“Forget about willpower– use science to cut your hunger, give you energy, and speed up your metabolism!” Mark Hyman
Why “Eat Less, Move More” Doesn’t Work:
When we restrict calories and exercise more our bodies go into starvation mode. This makes us tired, hungry and slows down your metabolism. However, your body THINKS it’s helping you.
When you eat carbs and sugar your insulin spikes and this drives the available fuel into your bloodstream and then into fat cells
Eating a low-fat diet makes you crave bad foods
“Hard as it is to imagine, your fat cells are actually endocrine cells that produce many hormones, just like your thyroid or ovaries or testes.” Mark Hyman
Fat allows you to BURN fat!
The Bonus Benefits – Fat Makes You Smart, Sexy, and Happy
Want to know what happens when you eat fat? Weight loss, heart disease prevention, a revved-up metabolism, reversal of type II diabetes, improved blood sugar for type 1 diabetes, and prevention of brain ageing and dementia. It also helps with seizures, depression, ADD, autism, trauma, and more.
Are these facts enough to make you want to eat fat?
How about this little nugget: when you eat a LOW FAT diet you are essentially starving your brain.
Eating Fat Enhances Your Sex Life
Ok Chels, now you’re just being silly. No. I am actually being completely serious.
Did you know that your sex hormones are produced by cholesterol!?!
For example, when a woman is on a low-fat diet she can stop menstruating or experience infertility. Don’t worry if you are in this boat, because eating high fat, low-carb diet can quickly reverse these issues.
So where do we go from here? What action do we take? All this and more will be coming to you in THE NEXT post. Part II of Eat Fat, Get Thin.
While you’re waiting though, take some of the advice above. Incorporate more heart-healthy fat into your diet. Your brain, hormones, and body will be glad you did.
What are your thoughts on fat? Does it terrify you to think about incorporating more of it into your diet? What were you taught about nutrition when you were a kid?