The Skinny on Fats
We live in a world today that cycles through phases of demonizing a macronutrient. If you remember from previous blogs, our macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fat; the three things our body needs to be fueled with to survive. Yet, it is advertised to go low carb, sugar free, fat free, that red meat and eggs are bad and that protein will make women manly. So what are we supposed to eat? Today we are going to focus on fats for our body and will hit carbohydrates and protein at later dates, so stay tuned!
Back in the day, lard, cream, whole milk and real butter were the main sources of fats for cooking/baking. There were no oil sprays or “heart healthy”, overly processed margarines; they used the real stuff. Some other sources of fats primarily consumed were eggs and meat and if you go back even farther to the time of cavemen, nuts and seeds were also available. The older generation that lives in 2016 enjoys sticking to their meat, potato and real butter ways and I am here to tell you, they are on a better track that most Americans! The top five sources of fat in the Standard American Diet based on a study done with the National Cancer Institute comes from cheese, pizza, grain-based desserts, dairy based desserts and chicken mixed dishes (National Cancer Institute, 2006). Below is a chart of how the use and source of fat has been changed over the years. If you notice the bright blue line that sky rockets up around 1969, that is the use of oils. I would like to make it clear, that there are healthy oils like coconut, olive and avocado oil. The ones this graph is referring to are vegetable and canola oil.
Here this chart is presented, and we wonder, “Well why not just buy fat free items?” The answer is simple: Our bodies need fat! Fat plays a primary role in hormone regulation, body temperature, satiety, energy, hair, skin and nail health. 20-30% of a healthy person’s diet should consist of this macronutrient. Now, do not get too excited and think you should go join the rest of America with 30% of daily intake being pizza. This 20-30% is meant to be made up of the healthy choices below:
- Nuts and seeds
- Coconut, avocado and extra virgin olive oils
- Meat and fish
- Whole eggs
- Full fat dairy (in moderation)
Fats should be included with every meal as they are part of regulating the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar and therefore, helping us know when we are full. Not only do fats help tell us when we are full, but they keep us full for longer periods of time, along with proteins. The foods listed above make great snacks to control our hunger leading into the following meal. When an item that is meant to contain fat is labeled “fat free”, that is a red flag of over processing. In order to make this food fat free, it is taken from its original state and processed with something artificial to try and reach the flavor the fat would normally give. The same goes for sugar and labels that say “sugar free”; they are processed with artificial sweeteners that are very harmful to our health. Just another reason to pick the healthy fat sources listed above because tell me if I am wrong, but I have yet to see a fat free avocado.
If you want to be at your best health wise, fats need to be a part of your diet. Yes, fats contain more calories than carbohydrates and protein per gram, but remember how we talked about their role in satiety? They are going to keep you from eating more calories in a day’s total. Let’s also not forget, fats add flavor! So, not only are they helping your body function, but they taste good at the same time. Needless to say, it’s AboutTime to get free with fats!