Most of us have learned to fear fat, especially when one of our health goals is to lose weight. But one of the big game changers in how we think about weight loss is “healthy fats”. A growing body of research shows that all fats in their natural form, including saturated fat found in meat and dairy, supports a healthy metabolism and optimal cell, nerve, and brain function.
Our fear of fat goes back decades, based on some flawed research that led to nutritional guidelines recommending a low fat diet. Food manufacturers grabbed the opportunity to fill the marketplace with low-fat products that are still considered healthy today. Unfortunately many of these products are high in refined carbohydrates which in excess fuel inflammation and obesity.
How we think about weight management has evolved significantly based on new knowledge and experience. Weight loss advice to simply eat fewer calories than you burn is outdated because it doesn’t take into account the hormonal and metabolic impact of different foods. That’s why the low calorie weight loss plans help you take weight off initially, only to regain it and more after you begin eating a less restrictive diet.
The new generation of weight management plans is focused on health and may contain up to 50% or more calories from healthy fats. What are healthy fats? These include monounsaturated fats from olive oil, olives, avocado, nut, and seeds and omega-3 fats from cold-water fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. For many, healthy fats also include saturated fats such as grass-fed butter and coconut oil.
Healthy fats satisfy your appetite and lower the glycemic index of your meal, leading to steady blood sugar levels and healthy insulin function. This means that you will stay full longer and prevent blood sugar crashes that often result in out of control sugar cravings. Eating a low-fat diet will not only result in excess carbohydrates, but the restriction may also promote slower fat burning to conserve fat stores in the absence of a steady supply.
If you are new to eating healthy fats in your diet, start out slowly with small servings at each meal or snack. A couple of teaspoons of olive oil, 1/4 of an avocado, or 1/2 ounce of raw nuts or seeds is plenty to start out. Allow your digestion some time to get used to the fat in your diet to avoid nausea or changes in elimination.
Keep in mind that there are many other factors to incorporate into your diet and lifestyle to support a healthy weight, but a good place to start is to welcome the healthy fats into your diet and dump the “low-fat” packaged foods that sabotage your waistline and your health.
Please share your story about how adding more fats to your diet supported your weight loss journey.