Fat is one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and carbohydrates. For as long as I can remember the mainstream media along with many doctors and nutritionists have wrongly vilified fat. The low fat recommendations that came out in the 1970s have been an absolute disaster and with them, obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses have continued to climb. As you can see from the chart below the percent of obese individuals in the United States has continued to climb since the low fat recommendations came into place in the late 1970’s
There are many different types of fats out there and yet they are all lumped together and we are told stay away for your health! The issue here is we need fat. Fat is essential to our survival! Without fat our bodies wouldn’t function properly.
Some of the roles of fats in the body:
- Cell membranes
- Brain components – protective coating for our brain and nerves
Did you know that not all fat is stored as fat? Some is actually used immediately as fuel. This is the case with Coconut oil. Coconut oil is a saturated fat but its chemical makeup means that it is readily used by the body as a fuel source, not stored as fat.1
Taking a spoon full of coconut oil before working out can actually help boost your performance by giving you the energy you need!
I would argue our cell membranes are the most important part of our bodies. Our cell membranes consist of fat and proteins. Why are our membranes so important? First, they keep us alive, without a cell membrane the cell would die instantly. Secondly, the membrane senses what is happening in our environment and controls what genes are either turned on or off.2 When healthy, our cell membrane protects us from toxins and plays a large role in what is able to get in or out of our cells.
Our cell membrane consists of the fats we eat, so if we eat good quality fats then our cell membrane is going to work great!
Hormones are key to our bodies running optimally. How to hormones work? A hormone is like a messenger that tells the tissues and cells what they need to be doing. If we don’t have enough fat then our hormones are off and the message never gets there, that means everything is off. Making sure we have enough fat in our diet is key to keeping our hormones working optimally.
What kind of fats should you be eating?
Everyone needs a mixture of fats in their diet from whole food sources.
Making sure you eat enough Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) is primary. Getting enough EFAs reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, allergies, Alzheimer’s, depression, fatigue, and more!3 EFAs are fats that we cannot produce in our body and need to get from our diet. They are Omega-3 and Omega-6.
|Omega 3 Sources||Omega-6 Sources|
|Flax seeds||Sesame Seeds|
|Chia seeds||Evening Primrose oil|
|Pumpkin seeds||Borage oil|
Other good sources of fats: olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, ghee, nuts, seeds, etc.
Fats you should avoid
Avoid trans-fats like the plague! If there is anything you take away from this post please let this be it. Trans-fats are unnatural, you do not find them anywhere in nature. Due to the chemical structure of trans-fats when they get into your cell membrane it alters your cells ability to access the environment properly; this means gene expression is off. The wrong genes can then be turned on, leading to terrible results.
Avoid overly processed oils, like margarine (trans-fats), vegetable oils, canola oil and deep fried foods. These oil are highly processed and processing denatures the oils and once again can cause harm to your cell membranes.
– Go organic as much as possible, better inputs mean better oil.
– When buying olive oil, make sure it is in a dark bottle as light denatures the oil.
– If you are cooking with oil do not use EFAs they will become denatured very quickly. Use saturated (coconut oil) or polyunsaturated (olive oil) and don’t let them get hot enough to smoke.
– Store your oils in a cool dark place. Some oils are best in the fridge, like hemp and flax as they are very sensitive to heat, light and oxygen.
– Rancid/denatured oil is just as bad as highly processed oils, it will not do good things to your system.
– Eat fat in moderation, this does not mean go guzzle a bottle of olive oil down, everything in moderation J
1. Udo Erasmus, Fats that heal, Fats that kill
2. Bruce Lipton, Biology of belief.
3. Patrick Holford, The optimum nutrition bible