By Charles Poliquin
Certain fats are extremely good for you. These fats convey abundant benefits including aiding in the achievement of optimal body composition, the prevention of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Here are five tips for enjoying fat.
#1: Eat A Lot of Omega-3 Fats
You shouldn’t be surprised that the fat derived from fatty fish is extremely important for a healthy body. In fact, they the omega-3 fats are actually called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and you must eat them in order for the body to function properly.
The EFAs support body composition because they are incorporated into the outside lipid layer of cells. This improves insulin signaling to the cells, which allows for a better metabolism, whereas a diet high in carbohydrates and low in EFAs and other fats is very sluggish, leading to fat gain. Other benefits of EFAs are brain protection and lower inflammation throughout the body, allowing for decreased cancer and heart disease risk.
Get omega-3s from fish, fish oil, organic and pastured meat and dairy, and flaxseeds.
#2: Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very high in medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to promote health, aid brain function, and improve body composition. A recent study found that when Malayans ate 30 ml of coconut oil with each meal for a month they lost a small amount of body fat (about 1 pound) and significantly decreased waist circumference. Make sure the coconut oil you buy is “virgin” and not partially hydrogenated—this is extremely important!
Try cooking with coconut oil in place of vegetable oils. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and can be treated like butter in recipes, however it has a high smoke point (around 350 degrees), making it ideal for stir-frying.
#3: Eat Butter
Butter is good for you as long as it’s organic and from grass-fed cows. Butter has lots of fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin K, which is particularly important for bone health because it enables calcium metabolism. In addition, it contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is a potent cancer fighter and has been found to produce fat loss when it is eaten daily.
Butter also contains medium chain fatty acids, which don’t enter the cholesterol cycle, and although butter is high in saturated fats, it won’t raise “bad” LDL cholesterol. The truth is that eaten without an abundance of high carbohydrate foods, animal-derived saturated fat is benign!
Eat butter however you like, just make sure it’s from grass-fed cows. Avoid margarine, butter substitutes, and opt for a lower carb diet for best health results.
#4: Eat Avocado, Olive Oil & Nuts
Avocado, olive oil, and tree nuts have all been called “anti-obesity” foods by food scientists. They all provide omega-6 fats, which when eaten in balance with omega-3s, are very good for you.
There’s much confusion about omega-6 fats because the typical Western diet is dangerously high in isolated, processed omega-6 fats in the form of vegetable oil. Those are fats you want to avoid, but avocado, unrefined, virgin olive oil (or olives), and tree nuts aren’t processed and can improve body composition, while countering inflammation. Plus, if you eat any of these fats with vegetables, the fat bolsters absorption of vitamins and nutrients in veggies.
Add them to salads, or cooked vegetable dishes. Or try the meat and nuts breakfast, rotating your nut of choice every morning with a different meat.
#5: Go Low-Carb & Avoid All Processed Foods
Processed foods, especially man-made fats and processed carbs, produce chaos in the body because they elevate blood sugar quickly and lead to a lot of insulin being released. Aside from making you feel sluggish, this produces oxidative stress.
Most people have accepted that man-made trans fats are BAD news, but the idea that processed low-fat foods are also horrible for you is taking longer to sink in.
Maybe this is because it’s very counterintuitive that processed carbs, many of which are “non-fat” and “low-fat,” cause cholesterol buildup. The reason is that when the fat is removed from the products, they are digested very quickly and the carbs hit the blood sugar with a bang, producing inflammation and high cholesterol.
Guldbrand, H., Dizar, B., et al. In Type 2 Diabetes, Randomization to Advice to Follow a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Transiently Improves Glycemic Control Compared with advice to Follow a Low-Fat Diet Producing a Similar Weight Loss. Diabetologia. 2012. 55(8), 2118-21127.
Liau, K., et al. An Open-Label Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Virgin Coconut Oil in Reducing Visceral Adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology. 2011. 949686.