What is Dietary Fat?
Dietary fat is one of the three main macronutrients, a substance required in relatively large amounts by the body. The other two macronutrients include protein and carbohydrates. While there are different types of dietary fat, they are essential for health.
There are four categories of dietary fat. These include saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans-fat. Each of these are further broken down into smaller types. For instance, polyunsaturated fats include Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. Omega 3 is further broken down into forms such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are mainly found in fish, and alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is mainly found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
The different categories, types, and forms of dietary fat can be confusing. However, it’s important for the body to take in all forms except trans-fats. Though small amounts occur in nature, most are man-made or chemically-produced. They are toxic for health and should not be eaten. It was trans-fats that gave dietary fats a bad name for many decades and caused the greater population to steer clear of them. However, research has proven that natural dietary fats are actually essential for health. In fact, you must eat fat to lose fat.
How Can Dietary Fat Help Me Lose Body Fat?
Because dietary fat is twice as calorically dense as protein and carbohydrates, it may seem like the world’s biggest oxymoron to recommend eating it while trying to lose weight. After all, one gram of dietary fat contains 9 calories while one gram of protein or carbohydrate has less than half the amount of calories at 4 grams. Eating less of the thing that provides the most calories would seem like the best thing to do. Right?
Well, it’s not so simple. In reality, the carbohydrates actually cause body fat. Carbohydrates are basically sugar, and eating too much sugar is very bad for the body and cause weight gain. When the body is overloaded with carbohydrates, a protective mechanism kicks in called insulin resistance. This mechanism is the start of a downhill rollercoaster of health problems – including obesity. A low fat diet wreaks havoc on hormones that deem dietary fat necessary for burning body fat. By decreasing these specific hormones, you are voiding your ability to burn body fat.
On the other hand, a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat will help you lose body fat. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism found that athletes who ate a diet high in healthy fats burned more body fat during exercise than when they ate a more standard diet that contained the same amount of calories. Another six week study conducted at the University of Connecticut found that subjects experienced a significant increase in fat burn and a significant decrease in body mass while eating a diet high in healthy fats.
What are the Benefits of Dietary Fats?
By eating dietary fats, you will do your body a favor and reap several health benefits. Following are just a few of the positive results you’ll receive.
By consuming foods higher in dietary fats, you will stay satiated or fuller longer. Fatty foods are more filling and satisfying, and they will help control your appetite so that you to eat and snack less often.
A byproduct of dietary fat called ketone bodies or ketones are broken down in the body and used for energy with a low carbohydrate and high fat diet. When ketones are produced, fatty acids are burned off in the liver during a process called beta-oxidation. NOTE: Those who take medication for diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as mothers who breastfeed must be cautious of the amount of ketones they produce. Please refer to your family physician if you have one of these conditions.
Better Body Function
While natural dietary fat is an important energy source, it is also important for numerous functions of the body including the formation of your cell membranes, brain, and nervous system. They also balance hormones and keep inflammation low, as well as promote a healthy immune system. With a healthy body, weight loss is made easier.
What are Some Healthy Fatty Foods?
By replacing carbohydrates with fat in your diet, you’ll need to know which foods are the best sources for your diet. As mentioned earlier, it’s best to obtain a healthy balance of unsaturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Following is a list of the best sources to include. Most contain some form of protein and fibrous carbohydrates (vegetables) but are still great sources of dietary fat.
- Grass-fed beef
- Certified organic chicken and turkey
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Wild, cold-water fish and seafood (salmon, tuna, sardines, shrimp)
- Nuts (walnuts, pecans)
- Seeds (chia, flax)
- Oils (fish, flax, olive)
- Nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut)
Are All Vegetable Oils Healthy?
Vegetables oils are extracted from a variety of plants, and many people perceive them as healthy. Because they come from plant sources, they may seem natural. However, most vegetable oils don’t contain even a smidgen of vegetables and are very unnaturally processed. This includes oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, and a few others. Even worse, vegetable oils are high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and low in Omega-3 PUFAs.
Both Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats are essential for the body. However, the consumption of both fats must be in a certain ratio. Excess Omega-6 promotes the pathogenesis of many diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, as well as inflammatory and autoimmune disease. It also promotes obesity. With an optimal Omega-6 intake in the correct ratio (1:1) to Omega-3, prevention of these chronic diseases can be prevented.
Unfortunately, most vegetable oils have excessively dangerous amounts of Omega-6. See the list below for the unhealthy ratios of Omega-6 to Omega-3 for the oils mentioned earlier in this section.
- Canola Oil… 2 to 1
- Corn Oil… 781 to 1
- Cottonseed… 59.2 to 1
- Soybean… 13.4 to 1
- Sunflower… 39.1 to 1
These so-called vegetable oils aren’t only high in Omega-6. They are partially hydrogenated and made with artificial trans-fats. As mentioned earlier, hydrogenated or trans-fats are chemically processed, man-made fats used to preserve foods. Consumption of these trans-fats contribute to major health risks including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Irritability and aggression are also a result. You’ll also need to be cautious of margarine, salad dressing, and coconut oil.
Margarine is an artificial butter made with trans-fat and has a high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. Typically, margarine is made from cheap, poor quality oils that have already turned rancid due to its extraction from using high temperatures. Even rats and cockroaches won’t touch it.
Some salad dressings are also made with these unhealthy vegetable oils. Even if they contain the healthy olive oil, many are mixed with some of these other unhealthy oils.
Over the last decade or so, coconut oil has been highly sought after as a dietary fat miracle. However, studies supporting its use were conducted on indigenous populations in tropical parts of the world where copious amounts of coconut were used. Unfortunately, most modern civilizations don’t eat like these people whose diets are made from fresh fish and vegetables which counteract the negative effects of the oil.
Research on coconut oil raises much controversy about its health benefits. However, more recent studies indicate that coconut oil raises total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and inflammation in the body. Nor does it help with weight loss.
Like margarine, coconut oil has a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (243:1), and it is also high in saturated fats (60%). Though saturated fats are necessary in a diet, the different types of natural fats must be taken in balance to avoid negative outcomes. Until science has a clear and positive outlook on coconut oil, we recommend that you not use it based on the facts we’ve just provided.
What are Some Ways I Can Add Fatty Foods to My Diet?
It's fairly easy to get enough healthy fats from the foods you eat, and you're probably already including them. Following are a few ways that you can simply add them into your diet.
Breakfast: Replace cereal or oatmeal with scrambled eggs and/or steak. Egg yolks and animal sources of meat are a great source of natural fats.
Lunch or Dinner: Replace your sandwiches and pasta with salmon or sardines which are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Saute Vegetables: Cook your vegetables in butter or ghee. Instead, you may add olive or flax oil after they’ve been removed from heat. You can even sprinkle chia or flax seed to your vegetables.
Salads: Substitute your premade salad dressings for homemade dressings made with olive or flax oil. You can even top your salad with some roasted walnuts or pecans.
Supplement: If you want to ensure you’re getting enough of the right fats, you can also add a fish or omega oil supplement to your diet.
What Supplements are Best for Including Fat?
Following are some high quality fish or omega oils that you may supplement your diet with. Just click on the link for further information.
A good diet includes healthy fats. Replace your carbohydrates with fatty foods, and watch the body fat melt away. Include some exercise to amplify the results. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive to add fats to your diet, don’t be persuaded by the term fat. Perhaps scientists should have called it something else in the beginning, but know that to lose weight fast, you need to eat fat.