Heads up, fat is back in favor as a healthy and necessary component to a well-balanced diet. In fact, healthy fats in particular seem to be required fuel for encouraging further weight loss. Although it might seem shocking that through eating fat, you can trigger weight loss, the research demonstrates the truth of the matter. Doctors and nutritionists are revamping decades old theories on healthy weight loss, and now encouraging people to incorporate healthy fats back into their diets. What exactly is a healthy fat, versus an unhealthy one? Here are a few fat terms to add into your repertoire, and which will help you define healthy fats going forward.
Scientifically, monounsaturated fat means a fat molecule with one unsaturated carbon molecule bond. They are typically liquid at room temperature, like olive oil, sesame oil, and safflower oil. Unlike some other fats, they are much better for you because they target bad cholesterol and provide a healthy boost to a myriad of different processes in your body. They are considered healthy fats.
Polyunsaturated fats, simply have more than one carbon bond to the fat molecule. There are many foods that contain high quantities of these polyunsaturated fats such as fatty fish, olive oil and corn oils. These fats are typically liquid at room temperature, but quickly solidify when chilled. They are another healthy fat option.
Known to increase cholesterol, and blood pressure, saturated fats are ‘saturated’ with hydrogen molecules. When isolated they are typically solid at room temperature. They are found primarily in animal derived foods such as dairy like butter, cheese, yogurt and high fat meats like hamburger, pork and lamb. They are also found in coconut oil and palm oils. The daily recommended dose of saturated fats is only 13gs, but this can change depending on lifestyle and body type. These fats hover in between being healthy in small doses, and unhealthy when they take up a large percentage of your diet.
Although naturally occurring, it’s the artificially created trans fats that turn them one of the worst kinds of fat sources. Naturally occurring trans fat is similar to saturated fats in the sense that it comes primarily from animal sources. However, when found in natural sources, the levels are low. Artificial trans fats are created when vegetable oils are combined with hydrogen primarily to solidify the texture, prolong shelf life and as a cheap additive. Trans fat have been directly linked to increased blood pressure, heart disease, and cholesterol levels. It is recommended to reduce all consumption of trans fats, especially considering most junk foods are just basically vessels for this nasty fat.
The new dietary recommendations are to avoid saturated and trans fats as much as humanly possible, while making sure to include the healthy poly and monounsaturated fats into your diet on a daily basis.
Healthy Fats and Weight Loss
It still might seem a bit counterintuitive to include fats into your diet and expect to improve weight loss. However, the science is in! According to the author of The Paleo Diet for Athletes, if you eat primarily starches, your body eventually adapts to convert these to starches and then your body survives by burning sugar for energy. However, if you decrease starch consumption, and increase healthy fat consumption your body will begin to focus more on burning fats (including your stored fats) instead. In this way, eating healthier fats instead of sugars actually speeds up your metabolism, and facilitates weight loss.
The human trials have proven time and time again, that through incorporation of poly and monounsaturated healthy fats into your diet, you can in turn support weight loss. This is in comparison to low carb diets. For example, two groups of people were put on low carb/high fat diet and a low fat/high carb diet respectively. Over the course of the study, the high fat participants repeatedly burned 300 more calories a day. They also reduced the levels of bad cholesterol, and improved insulin resistance which is a sign of prediabetes. If this wasn’t proof enough, the researchers then completely swapped the diet plans between the two groups of participants and found the same indicators in the high fat group once they switched diets!
In another study of 101 individuals who were similarly put onto a low fat diet versus a high healthy fat diet, the healthy fat participants ended up losing on average 11 pounds more, and this is in spite of consuming similar calorie intakes.
On top of the added weight loss benefits, reducing the levels of unhealthy fats like trans fat and saturated fats, from your diet will also reduce inflammation, reduce risk of heart disease, bad cholesterol just to name a few. Nutritionists recommend ensuring that 25-30 percent of your daily caloric intake comes from healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut butter and nuts, and also stay far away from processed junk foods.
Some examples of Healthy Fats
Cacao (and low sugar dark chocolate)
Fatty fish (Salmon, Tuna)
Olive and Nut Oils
Some examples of Unhealthy Fats to Avoid
Red Meats (Pork, Beef)
Dairy Products (Butter, yogurt, cheese)