By the 1990s, we got it into our heads that a lowfat diet was the way to go, that consuming fat makes you fat.
For better or for worse, this simply isn’t true. The association most of us make between dietary fat and becoming fat is due in part to semantics since it’s the same word, but including healthy fats into your diet is essential to feeling and looking your best. So repeat after me: consuming fat (especially the good kind) does not make you fat!
Yes, it’s true that fat is more energy dense than both carbohydrates and protein—that is, there are nine calories per gram of fat, compared to four per gram of carbohydrates and protein—but consuming adequate amounts of good, healthy fats can actually help to keep pounds off.
Among many other reasons, fat is integral to satiety, it helps account for us feeling full. Have you ever eaten a significant amount of white bread only to realize that you’re starving not long after? That’s because there’s barely any fat to anchor your hunger. And when we feel truly satiated, we’re less likely to overeat. I always insist that my clients include fat at every meal and snack, whether it’s a fourth of an avocado at lunch or half a tablespoon of coconut oil in their morning smoothie.
Satiety isn’t the only reason we want to make sure we’ve got healthy fats in our diets; they’re absolutely necessary to overall health for many reasons. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble, meaning they need to dissolve first in fat before our bodies can use them—and we definitely want our bodies using A, D, E and K!
Dietary fats also give us energy and keep our hair shiny, our skin glowing, and nails strong. Our brains wouldn’t be as sharp without dietary fats. If all that weren’t enough to get you psyched about avocados consider this: Fats literally make our hormones—and even the slightest shift in hormonal balance can throw off our overall health.
So why and when did dietary fat become the villain? Well, in the 1990s, there was a lot of research that seemed to suggest a diet low in fat was the most heart-protective. This wave of fat-fear gave way to a whole bunch of “fat-free” products. The problem was, they may have been fat-free, but they were loaded with sugar/carbohydrates. Millions of people believed that eating fat-free was the highway to health and skinny jeans. But guess what? They were wrong—so wrong, in fact, that this time period corresponded to a dramatic increase in the diagnoses of both insulin sensitivity and diabetes. In the last few years research has increasingly demonstrated that dietary fat and cholesterol does not alone correlate with heart disease; rather, refined sugars and highly processed starches are the more significant health offender.
Not all fats are created equally, of course, and there are some fats that should be excluded from your diet, namely trans-fats. Trans-fats are completely manufactured; machines manipulate the molecule’s shape. While it’s now mandatory that the amount of trans-fat be listed on a nutrition label, food companies have sneaky ways of hiding them. A good rule of thumb is this: “partially hydrogenated oil” or anything “hydrogenated” is a telltale sign that something contains trans-fats.
Ok, so which fats should you be eating? The list below is a good place to start! Stock that pantry, it’s time to get your glow on!
Sources of healthy fats include:
- Coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flax oil
- Walnuts, almonds, pecans
- Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
- Grass-fed beef, bison, and lamb
About ALOHA: ALOHA provides the nutritional support you need to help maintain your already healthy lifestyle — plus a little nature-made oomph, just for good measure. In the Hawaiian language, aloha means “sharing the breath of life.” At ALOHA, this is done by making health simple, fun, and accessible.