What Exactly is Dietary Fat?
Other than protein and carbohydrate, dietary fat is one of the three main macronutrients that make up the food you eat. In the past, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) promoted dietary fat as being bad for health. Today, we know the truth due to much research. In fact, your body requires a relatively large amount of dietary fat. Not only is it essential for energy, but it is extremely important for numerous bodily functions.
There are four categories of dietary fat which can be quite confusing. These include saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans-fat. The last category, trans-fat, is actually what gave all dietary fat a bad name in the past as it is mostly chemically-produced. It is toxic for your health as it increases the risk of coronary artery disease. Therefore, it should not be eaten. However, research has proven that natural dietary fat is essential for health. Additionally, it is necessary to lose body 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, carbohydrates actually cause body fat. Starchy and simple carbohydrates are basically sugar, and sugar has been proven to cause weight gain and chronic disease. When the body is overloaded with carbohydrates, a protective mechanism kicks in called insulin resistance. This mechanism is the start of a downhill roller-coaster of health problems – including obesity. A low fat diet wreaks havoc on hormones, and these hormones are necessary for burning 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 higher dietary 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.
STAY SATIATED LONGER
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.
OPTIMIZE BODY FUNCTIONS
While natural dietary fat is an important energy source, it is also important for numerous bodily functions:
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. 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.
Are Vegetable Oils a Good Source of Dietary Fat?
Vegetables oils are assumed to be extracted from a variety of plants, and many people perceive them as healthy. 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 imbalanced with Omega-6 and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
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 the correct ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 (1:1) intake, 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.
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.
STAY AWAY FROM MARGARINE
Margarine is an artificial food that is supposed to mimic and taste like butter. However, it is 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.
BE CAUTIOUS OF SALAD DRESSING
Some salad dressings are made with unhealthy vegetable oils. Even if they contain the healthier olive oil, you should check labels as they also contain some of the unhealthier oils such as canola and sunflower oils.
USE COCONUT OIL FOR TOPICAL USE ONLY
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, it must be taken in balance with the other natural fats to avoid negative outcomes. However, studies have shown coconut oil benefits for topical use as a skin barrier and anti-inflammatory.
What are Some Fatty Foods I Can Eat?
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
REPLACE YOUR HIGH-CARB 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.
POWER UP LUNCH OR DINNER
Replace sandwiches and pasta with salmon, sardines, or tuna which are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Cook vegetables in butter or ghee. You may also add flax oil to vegetables after they’ve been removed from heat. Sprinkling chia or flax seeds, as well as walnuts or pecans, to your vegetables can also make a tasty dish.
MAKE HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSINGS
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 pumpkin seeds.
SUPPLEMENT YOUR DIET WITH OMEGA-3
If you want to ensure you’re getting enough of the right fats, you may also add a fish or omega oil supplement to your diet. Nordic® Naturals is a well-known professional brand due to their reputation for quality, purity, and potency.
Lose Weight Faster...
A good diet includes healthy fats. Replace your carbohydrates with naturally fatty foods, and watch your 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 please understand that natural dietary fat will help you lose weight faster.