First of all, I would like you all to understand, that dietary fat is not the same as body fat. It is like saying because you eat spinach, you will turn green! Fat doesn’t just enter your body and goes straight to be converted into fat cells. Just like with any source of energy (like carbohydrates or protein), to turn fat into body fat is a big process and doesn’t happen by default.
Here are some reasons why your body will decide to store body fat:
- It happens because of excess energy which will be stored for the future.
- Or it can be triggered by the wrong kind or number of hormones that get released
- Or simply because whatever enters the body is too toxic to hang around for too long. The fastest and safest way for the body is to lock substances like that into fat cells.
As you can see, these reasons apply to any kind of food, not only fats.
Now I would like to take a moment to think about the reason that we love fats so much. We wouldn’t say it aloud and pretend oftentimes that we don’t, but let’s be honest!
Doesn’t gravy taste amazing? Don’t we all love juicy steaks, stir fries and ice creams? We enjoy our smoothies and coffees so much more when they are made with full fat instead of skim milk, don’t we? There is a very good reason for our enjoyment of fatty foods: It is a huge building block in every part of our body. In order to keep us running, we can’t cut out fat!
I would like to show you what our brains are made out of. The proportions are very similar to the rest of our bodies with small variations.
This chart is a powerful demonstration of what our bodies really require in order to function properly. If we don’t provide enough water, fat or proteins, the majority of our bodily structure is forced to be out of balance.
I think it is very interesting how our bodies are able to communicate deficiencies and shortcomings through cravings and food choices. If we leave our body deprived of an essential building block like the fatty acids, these cravings might be very harmful if we turn to the wrong type of fat to satisfy the need. Sadly, not all fats are equally beneficial and it does make a lot of sense to be proactive by preparing healthy fats to avoid cravings which drive us to eat the harmful ones.
I would like to explain three major groups to you, which give you a good idea on how to choose the right types of fat for the right dish so that you don’t damage but heal and nourish yourself.
- These are saturated fats which have a very stable structure and don’t change when exposed to heat or oxygen. This is important because when the structure of food changes (which is called denaturation), it becomes a free radical and does damage in the body.
- It is easy to find these stable fats because they are firm in room temperature. These are fats like butter, coconut oil, ghee, palm oil, fat from healthy animals.
- Many people still believe that they clog their arteries with saturated fats which is proven to be wrong. Study after study shows how saturated fats in fact clear the blood from LDL (the bad cholesterol) instead of promoting it.
- The opposite is true for this kind of fat. Because the structure of these fats can be changed quickly, they become free radicals when exposed to heat or oxygen.
- They are made out of vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- This type of fat is wonderful eaten raw in a salad dressing or added to a dish just before it is served. We use these fats as skin care products or in smoothies.
In this category are also the Polyunsaturated fats like canola, soy and corn oil which are extremely unstable.
This means it is really hard to avoid that they become free radicals and by the time you are able to use them as an oil, they will be very damaged and not good to use.
- You want to avoid these fats at all costs because these oils went through a process called Hydrogenation which turns any kind of oil into a stable oil.
- This means, that these oils have been chemically altered so that they can be used anywhere without going rancid.
- However, this causes the fats to be damaged and toxic for our bodies. The molecule structure is not far from the structure of plastic– and we all know how damaging plastic is in the body.
Most of the ingredients in this meal contain trans fats and should be avoided!
I know that many of you will now ask what the deal is with Omega-3 and Omega -6 fatty acids. The difference between Omega-3 and Omega-6 is simply the chemical structure of those Fatty Acids which therefore have different functions in the body.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You can find these in wild caught fish, fresh eggs, many seeds and avocado. It reduces inflammation and protects us from too much omega-6. It improves circulation and helps regulating blood pressure and healing.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Natural forms are Nuts, vegetables and grains. We only need a very small amount of Omega-6. The ratio should be is 1:1 (omega-6:omega-3). The western diet is very high in omega-6 fats because all the trans-fats belong to this category too. This makes the ratio for most people 20:1 and causes many health issues. We are definitely not lacking omega-6 fatty acids but need to increase the amount of omega-3 intake!
Omega-9 Fatty Acids
We don’t hear much about omega-9 fatty acids because they are not essential and can be made by our body with the building blocks provided through the diet. It is, however, not bad for you to consume them too. These Fatty Acids are found in Olive Oil, Macadamia Oil, Poultry Fat and Lard. You might read about Omega-9 oil on a label of a supplement but it is nothing you need to be concerned about.
This is a lot of information and I hope it all made sense to you. Now go and eat your healthy fats! Your skin, appetite, energy and immune system will thank you for it.
If you have any questions, book an appointment with me and we find out together how you can improve your fat intake!