When it comes to weight loss and maintenance, there is a lot of confusion about the role fat plays. In the past several decades, the food industry has convinced us that in order to stay slim, we should consume low fat or fat free foods. Not only does this statement ignore the fact that not all fat is bad fat (in fact our bodies need fat in order to work properly), but it also completely skips over the main culprit of weight problems, which is sugar (also found in a high refined carbohydrate diet). Ironically in order to remove the fat from foods, sugar, starch or other additives are added to create the same flavor in an unnatural form. In the end, the low fat or fat free foods can even contribute to weight gain.
Fat is essential to the body for many reasons. It supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K, keeps the body warm during colder months, provides energy, makes you feel satiated with less calories, helps transport nutrients to cells, proper hormone and immune system function, promotes mental well-being and more. Even so, there is a distinction between good and bad fats and the real problem lies in the consumption of too many of the bad ones, which are primarily trans fatty acids, not saturated fats. Trans fats are formed through a process called hydrogenation (adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to harden them and make them last longer). They are found in margarine, shortening, fried foods and a long list of commercially processed foods. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). This not only increases your risk of heart disease, clogged arteries, risk of heart attack/stroke, etc., but also contributes to weight gain when consumed in excess.
The other misconception that exists out there relates to saturated fat. Saturated fats are needed for all the reasons listed above including the proper function of your heart, liver, lungs and cell membranes. Although excess saturated fat isn’t good either, so it’s important that we don’t over-consume animal products (especially those that aren’t organic or grass-fed which can lead to other health problems). However, coconut oil, the best cooking oil out there, is an excellent source of saturated fat that has wide-reaching benefits for the heart, immune system, thyroid and more. Other healthy fats include raw nuts, avocados and olive oil. Other oils aren’t recommended for the reason that they contain mostly omega-6 fats, throwing off the balance of omega 3 and 6 (which should be 1:1). Good sources of omega 3 are fish and fish oil, which are high in EPA and DHA (plant based sources such as flax are high in ALA, but it takes a lot to convert to EPA and DHA, which are associated with the most health benefits).
Unfortunately, despite the latest information, many people continue to believe that fat is bad and are consequently consuming more calories in the form of sugar and refined carbohydrates, which include white bread, pasta, crackers, etc. These foods act like sugar in the body and have a high glycemic index. They are easily stored as fat when the body doesn’t use them as energy. Consuming excess sugar and refined carbohydrates (which is very easy to do) also increases insulin levels leading to all sorts of negative health consequences such as diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic disorders, heart disease and weight problems/obesity. One of the sneaky ways that sugar gets into the diet is via high fructose corn syrup, which in virtually almost every processed food. Don’t let the word “corn” fool you. HFCS has been associated with liver damage and obesity. The best form of carbohydrates is that found in fruits and vegetables. Good gluten-free whole grains include brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat.
 (n.d) Retrieved from http://www.foodandhealing.com/articles/article-fatfreebad.htm
 Mann, D. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/trans-fats-science-and-risks
 Mecola, J. (2011, September 1). The forbidden food you should never stop eating. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/01/enjoy-saturated-fats-theyre-good-for-you.aspx
 Mercola, J. (2010, April 3). Are you getting the right type of omega-3 fats? Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/03/are-you-getting-the-right-type-of-omega3-fats.aspx
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://diabetes.webmd.com/guide/insulin-resistance-syndrome
 Guttierrez, G. (2010, August 7). HFCS - the poison that promotes obesity and liver damage. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/029403_high_fructose_corn_syrup_liver_damage.html
Published On: March 19, 2013