Where are my fat lovers out there? I am sure I can find one of y’all out there to share the love for fat with me. I am not trying to be funny here, fat is such as big part of our diet (it’s one of the three main macronutrients, right beside protein and carbohydrates) that we tend to forget it has super powers as well. Fat has come a long way in the nutrition world, finally giving it the recognition it truly deserves. Not all too long ago we thought eating fat made us fat. That a fat-free diet was the way to go, removing the fat and removing the rate of obesity. Well thank goodness we now know that to be completely false.
Fat does not make you fat.
I’ve done a blog post on fat before but I think I was a bit dry when I previously presented the topic, I guess I should have buttered it up a bit. Okay, okay but seriously, let’s talk about fat and all the goodness it holds.
The Low-Fat Craze
Back in the 80’s when the low fat diet come on the market, it sounded way to good and quite honestly it just made sense to the public. Reduce the fat consumed in the diet – reduce the fat on the body. The idea was made from a simple design; eating fat made us fat. But it had a design flaw, food that was low in fat tasted pretty bad. It had no consistency and our taste buds were not satisfied. So the food companies decided to increase the amount of sugar in the low-fat products in order to keep the same flavor and satisfy their customers. Looking at what happens after replacing fats with carbohydrates (or sugar) in the diet, it leads to reduced total and LDL cholesterol BUT it also increases triglycerides and reduces the good cholesterol (HDL levels).
Why do we need fat?
When we consume fat in the diet, a few magical things happen throughout our anatomy. A few key players in our satiety levels are also known as hormones and a whole bunch of them run on – you guessed it, fat! When we consume fat in the diet, key hormones such as Adiponectin, Leptin and Cholecystokinin are stimulated.
Adiponectin: A hormone that is released from fat cells in the body to help regulate the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It has been suggested that it enhances the body’s ability to use carbohydrates for energy, break down fats, and curb your appetite. To increase our levels of adiponectin in the body, a diet rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids along with increased levels of exercise are recommended. Lower levels of this hormone are associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Higher levels are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Leptin: This hormone is also known as the “satiety hormone,” which is also released from fat cells. After we consume a meal, this hormone is produced and sent to the hypothalamus in the brain to signal we have enough fat storage and we should stop eating. In basic terms, this hormone is like the gym coach who slaps food away saying, “you’re full, stop eating, you don’t really need that.” To increase this hormone, it’s recommended to eat more healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids along with more fruits, vegetables, and good protein sources.
Cholecystokinin: This hormone is released from the cells in the small intestine after consuming a meal rich in protein and fat. It helps initiate the gallbladder, pancreas, and stomach to start the digestion process. It also helps to slow the rate of digestion and keep your satiety going for much longer than a meal full of simple carbohydrates.
I am noticing a trend here. Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Eat more fat → trigger metabolism hormones → stay satiated longer → reduce hunger levels. When we add fat back into the diet we also notice that replacing a diet high in sugar with fats can cause an increase in the adiponectin hormone.
Furthermore, when we replace saturated fats with mon- or polyunsaturated fats we can reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
Types of Fat
Let’s look at the sources of fat. To be simplistic, there are four different types of fat in the diet. Trans fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat.
Types of Fat
|Monounsaturated Fat||Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Safflower Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Butter and other nuts|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Soybean Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Salmon, Tuna, Trout, Herring, Mackerel, Flax Seeds, Walnuts|
|Saturated Fat||Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Butter, Palm Oil, Beef Fat, Pork Fat, Chicken Fat, Ghee Butter|
|Trans Fat||Found in shelf stable and processed foods such as snack foods.|
|Daily Amount of Fat||Fat should be 20-35% of our total daily calories consumed.
Saturated fats should be limited to 7-10% of the total amount of fat consumed.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; eatright.org
2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
All photos used were taken by and for The Healthy Chew, all rights reserved.
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