Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Today, more than ever the metabolic conditions (diabetes, obesity, etc.) put us at increased risk for other kinds of illness or chronic conditions. So how can we reverse metabolic disease and reduce risk of complications going forward? Are you wondering if all fats are bad? Is Keto diet for me? Why is some fat bad and some fat healthy? How much fat, if any should I consume? Have all these questions left you confused and wondering where to start? If so, then let's start with the basics.
Fats, also known as lipids, are a macronutrient. Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein make up macronutrients, they are nutrients that we need to consume in large quantities, which is why they're called macronutrients. Fats support a variety of bodily functions, including the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). This means that it's best to take your Vitamin D with food instead of taking it on an empty stomach. Fat also supports proper brain development (did you know that our brain is made up of about 60% fat?), it provides insulation to internal organs and plays a vital role in hormone synthesis. And yes, fat also enhances flavor of certain foods and it help us feel satisfied after a meal, because it takes longer to digest.
Fat contains 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrate contains 4 calories per gram. Protein contains 4 calories per gram. Therefore, fats are the highest energy source per gram of any macronutrient. The dietary reference intake (DRI) recommendation for adults is 20-35% of total daily calories should come from healthy fats. That's about 44 grams to 77 grams of fat per day. The easiest way to find out if you're getting enough or too much fat, is to start tracking what you eat. Nothing fancy, you can track foods that you eat on your phone or on a notepad, but try to do it for 3 consecutive days, and ideally include a workday and a weekend day. This should provide you with a comprehensive view of the fats which you're consuming and assess if you're getting enough or not enough, and which types of fats.
There are different views on fats, some believe that fat causes weight gain, while others believe that fat is an essential macronutrient that our bodies need to thrive and that good quality fat may help promote a healthy weight. A Ketogenic diet promotes low carb, high fat. The premise is that carbs increase insulin, which is the hormone that promotes fat storage, therefore weight gain. Insulin regulates fat accumulation, so if you eat too many carbs your body will store those carbs as fat to be used as fuel later. Therefore, to get fat out of your fat tissues, you have to minimize your insulin levels by eating less carbs or low carb foods. Now, it all depends on the types of fats that you consume. Even if you follow Keta, Paleo, Vegan or other diet you'll likely be consuming fats. So let's look at the various types of fats and decipher which ones are healthiest.
Types of fats: Monosaturated, Polysaturated, Saturated and Trans fats.
Monosaturated fatty acids - healthy and help support HDL (good cholesterol). These fats are typically liquid at room temperature.
Olives, Olive Oil
Avocado, Avocado Oil
Nuts, Nut butter
Flax seeds, Flax Oil
Note- avoid 'vegetable oils' which are mostly industrial oils, like corn or canola oil. They are often made from genetically modified crops which imbalance the ratio of Omega 3s and 6s in your body, and they are linked to inflammation because they're highly refined. Instead opt for an avocado oil when roasting veggies at high temp, or olive oil on your salad.
Polysaturated fatty acids - help reduce inflammation, support heart health, reduce symptoms of depression, and reduce the risk of cancer. Omega-3 (EPA, DHA and ALA) and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to our diets because we can't synthesize them in the body. They're typically liquid at room temperature.
Saturated Fatty acids - should be limited to 10% or less of total calories consumed. Coconut oil is a plant-based source of saturated fat, but it also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. When used in baking it gives food a nice tropical flavor, I use it as body moisturizer. These oils are solid at room temp and come mostly from animal-based foods.
Trans Fats - linked with heart disease and atherosclerosis. Check food labels, if you see words partially hydrogenated then put that product back on the shelf. These types type of fat promotes inflammation, so it's best to avoid them.
Processed baked goods
Microwave popcorn (I know, sorry)
Certain diets promote healthy fats, such the Mediterranean Diet (Italian and Greek foods, yum!) which has gained popularity as the heart-healthy diet, because the prevalence of heart disease, obesity and cancer is low in these countries. Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds are some of the highest quality fat sources you can include in your diet. These foods support a healthy weight, reduce risk of
diabetes and improve neurological function.
In summary, consume healthy fats, about 20-35% of your total daily calories, and avoid trans-fats.
Simple ways to add healthy fats into your diet
Add olive oil to salad to help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins found in many vegetables
Sprinkle ground flaxseeds (flax meal) on berries/apples/pear for Omega 3s
Add 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds to your smoothie or yogurt for Omega 6s
Spread 2 tbsp of nut butter on a toast and add sliced banana
Roast veggies toasted with avocado oil and seasoning (Cumin, Smoked paprika, etc.)
If you're puzzled by fats and uncertain if you're eating too many or not enough, please reach out. Together, we can review which macronutrients and which types of fats may be best suitable for your optimal health and overall wellbeing, to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Click here for Free Health Consultation