10 "Rules" I Live By When It Comes To Eating Fat
A few esteemed colleagues and friends are publishing books this year debunking the numerous myths surrounding dietary fat and showing how eating a higher-fat diet can keep you lean and healthy. Stay tuned: Dietary fat will be the hot topic this year.
If you want to get ahead of the trend, here are 10 must-know dietary fat rules:
1. Yes, some fats are bad.
Looking at you, damaged fats and trans fats. Among their massive havoc, trans fats increase your small dense LDL particles, or bad cholesterol, and reduce your large dense HDL particles, or good cholesterol. Read your labels: “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” is code for trans fat. Damaged fats have been altered by heat, light, or air and have become rancid — think of the “bulk buy” vegetable oils in your local grocery store. Avoid these two fats like the plague.
2. But not ALL saturated fats are.
We’ve unfairly lumped the saturated fats like coconut oil (healthy) and fast-food cheeseburgers (unhealthy) into the same category. It’s all about quality. When you choose butter or meat from grass-fed cows and quality coconut oil, you’ll get some saturated fat, but it’s not the inﬂammatory fat you get from factory-raised animals.
3. Not all trans fats are bad.
Proving an exception exists for every rule, a naturally occurring trans fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), found in full-fat grass-fed beef and dairy, can actually help you burn fat. One study found supplementing with CLA could reduce belly fat in obese men with metabolic syndrome.
4. Omega-3s rightly earn their place in the fat echelon.
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are called essential fatty acids because your body can’t make them, so you need to get them from your diet. Studies show these anti-inflammatory acids benefit numerous conditions, including healthy aging, cardiovascular function, brain health, immunity, and weight management. If you aren’t eating wild-caught fish several times a week, a professional-grade omega-3 supplement is the way to go.
5. Upgrade your oils to burn fat.
Ditch the inflammatory vegetable oils for coconut oil. Among its health benefits, coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a fatty acid your body prefers to burn rather than store. One study found women who consumed about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day for 12 weeks had lower amounts of belly fat.
6. You can live without carbs but not fat.
You can’t live without protein, fat, and water, but you would be just fine without carbs. That’s because your body can actually create its own glucose. And no, I am not advocating a no- or super-low carb diet.
7. Avoid consuming animals who consume GMO corn and soy; it adversely affects their fatty-acid proﬁle.
Animals fed corn or soy, foods likely to have been genetically modiﬁed (GMO), have a higher inﬂammatory fatty-acid profile than pastured animals. Studies show animals fed their natural diet — such as grass with cows — produce meat higher in vitamins, minerals, total omega-3s, and CLA.
8. A low-fat diet is depressing (literally).
Studies connect total fat intake with increased depression, which makes sense considering that your brain is about 60 percent fat. Healthy fats like barnyard eggs (if you’re not intolerant), avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef are excellent sources of healthy, brain-feeding fats.
9. Fat can help crush cravings.
Healthy fats keep your blood-sugar stable and regulate the amount of insulin released after you eat. In other words, these delicious foods tee up fast fat loss by making you feel good, ﬁlling you up, and helping you keep a handle on your cravings.
10. Too much healthy fat can become unhealthy.
A higher-fat diet does not become an all-the-fat-you-can-eat diet. Ideally, I recommend clients have two to three servings of healthy fats at every meal, although men and athletic women can go up to four. Smart choices include 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a quarter of an avocado, 4 ounces of cold-water wild ﬁsh, 5 to 10 nuts, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, or 10 olives.
If you’ve ever done a low-fat diet, has your understanding about dietary fat changed as experts and newer studies argue that the right fats can keep you lean and healthy? Share your thoughts below.
JJ Virgin, CNS, BCHN, is a celebrity nutrition and fitness expert who helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food intolerance. A certified nutrition specialist, board certified Holistic Nutritionist, and Certified Exercise Physiologist, she is the author of the New York Times best-sellers The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days and The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast.