It’s not fat that’s stupid . . . it’s you. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh—I doubt very much that you are stupid. But the way that dietary fat is perceived in America is not only completely stupid, it’s largely incorrect. The low-fat diet craze of the ‘80s and ‘90s is about as outdated as Richard Simmons’ tube socks (although, to be fair, I do love Richard Simmons and his tube socks). So jazzercise your fine self straight to your nearest grocery store and pick up some of the good-for-you fats your body craves and needs. I promise it won’t land on your hips, as long as you learn to choose wisely.
"I promise it won’t land on your hips..."
So here’s the thing: the low-fat diet actually originated in 1977, after many prominent scientists began to suspect that saturated fat was the leading cause of heart disease and high cholesterol. Okay, so what’s the debate, right? Well, as it turns out, there were never any studies conducted to support this theory. Due to misguided political decisions, the low-fat diet weaseled its way into the U.S. Dietary Guidelines (published jointly every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
Fast-forward to the year 2015—numerous studies have been conducted since 1977. Real studies. The kind of studies that prove things, not just take wild stabs at potential theories. As we now know,
following a strict low-fat diet not only increases the likelihood that you will gain weight, it also comes with a slew of harmful side effects.
I am going to focus now on what I mean by “good” fats and “bad” fats, and how to choose what you consume wisely; for more detailed information, along with references to the studies that were conducted, I highly recommend you read this excellent article written by Nutrition Authority.
Before I get into good vs. bad fats, let’s take a moment to discuss why your body needs certain fats and how to tell if you are getting enough of them in your diet. Here are some of the super things fats do for us:
Make radiant, glowing skin
Regulate the production of hormones
Support brain function
Aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K
Protect our organs
Maintain optimal body weight
Possible signs that you are not getting the fats you need, as well as potential side-effects of a low-fat diet are:
Dry, flaky skin
Memory loss/mental fatigue
Strong cravings for sugar and carbs
Hormonal imbalances/mood swings (in both men and women)
Irregular menstrual cycles in women
Increased risk of heart disease
Poor body temperature regulation
The list goes on . . . but by now you’re starting to get the picture—and probably wondering what I really mean by “good” fats and “bad” fats. To simplify things, let’s look at two main fats: Saturated Fat and Trans Fat (which is a form of unsaturated fat).
Although it was once believed that saturated fats are harmful, we now know that they are largely harmless and actually a necessary part of any healthy diet.
(For a more comprehensive overview outlining 23 different studies, I recommend this article.)
Trans fats, on the other hand, were created in a lab and do not melt until they are at much higher temperatures than that of our body, causing clogged arteries, harmful sides effects, and weight gain. Trans fats should be avoided as much as possible . . . or as Karlee Fain recommends in her book, The Grocery Store Adventure Guide, when you see trans fat on the food label, “Say it with me, trans fat I’m putting you back.” Here is a list of some excellent sources of good/saturated fats. I recommend experimenting with these in your diet and deciding which sources make you feel best. Of course, I am not recommending that you eat solely these foods, but you should feel comfortable and excited to include them as part of your healthy, balanced diet.
Full-fat dairy products
Butter (made from grass-fed cows)
Nuts and seeds
Fats that you should avoid—fats that I promise will land on your hips, cause breakouts, clog your arteries, and put you at risk for heart disease—come largely from processed foods. Or what I like to call “food-like products.” The number-one thing to look for when reading ingredient labels is “partially hydrogenated oils.” If you see this, place the item back on the shelf and back away as quickly as possible. Examples of foods that can be laden with trans fats are:
“Weight loss” bars (*cough Special K cough*)
Girl Scout cookies
Crackers (even Saltines!)
We’ve covered a lot today, and you may still be feeling a little bit confused. That’s okay! Having questions is the first step towards getting the answers you need to maximize your health.
Here’s the takeaway: Begin to incorporate more good-for-you fats into your diet and kick trans fats to the curb...
...inviting them back only for the occasional binge over a sappy Rom-Com (even health coaches have those days). I encourage you to continue to research this topic, as well as reach out to us with any questions; we’d love to hear from you!
Written by Kelsey Fain; HC Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Photographer Extraordinaire
Kelsey relates to her clients food struggles because she has had her own. A country girl turned New Yorker, Kelsey combines her innate passion for people feeling their best with a “say it as it is” attitude that is refreshingly honest and empowering. Click here to book a free Breakthrough Session with Kelsey now and experience the life changing tools she’ll share with you.