I usually don’t create such alarmist titles but I want to get my point across. Are you paying attention now?
It takes a couple of steps for a low fat diet to kill you but it has been shown that people who cut back on fats live far shorter lives than those eating them.
Those low fat eaters replaced their calories with carbohydrates which led them to have too much sugar in their system - which led to an increase risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
I know, right? I thought fat was bad for you! Patricia asked me this question on my birthday:
If you do not consume enough fat, can that cause hair loss?
The short answer is yes. Fats provide the body with essential fatty acids which are required to build and maintain cell membranes which is important to skin, hair, brain and more. Fats are important for healthy hormone levels, metabolism, mood, vitamin absorption and SATIETY.
Want to feel full? Eat some fat (protein also helps with the feeling of satiety).
You NEED fat. The question is how much and what kind of fat.
This is one of those discussions that hasn’t been resolved. When we look at our diet from a macronutrient level -you can see here that you have carbohydrates, protein, and fats - how much from each group should you eat?
Hopefully, you all know that you are supposed to avoid trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil). They have been phased out of processed foods in the last five years.
You are also supposed to avoid saturated fats - which you find in animal products such as milk, beef, cheese, baked goods, candy, and ice cream. But, they won’t kill you like trans fats but they could increase your cholesterol level (leading to heart disease which will kill you).
The fat you want to be eating more of is plant fat such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. You also need to eat Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that are found in salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds tuna, and sardines.
But, again, how much?
I’m going to punt for a second here and say two things. Most of us:
1. Eat too much (portion size!)
2. Eat too much processed sugar.
I feel like if you can get a handle on how many calories you eat per day (who cares about macronutrients) and cut down on the processed sugar (candy, baked goods, chocolate, ice cream, donuts, cookies) - you would be much better off.
As far as fat - 30% GOOD fat, 30% carbs, 40% protein might be good for weight loss. If you need 1500 calories per day, 450 calories should be fat, 450 carbohydrates, and 600 calories protein.
But don’t quote me on it because there is no clear consensus on the best macronutrient ratios. Obviously, there is a range (25%-35% fat) which is going to work for different people. I would love to give you a silver bullet but I don't have one. It is up to you to do the hard work of figuring out what works for you.
One of the best books out there on fat and how it is important in weight loss (and management) is David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry”. The premise is that eating more healthy fat will lead to weight loss as well as feeling good and being far less hungry.
I wrote a review a couple of years ago Always Hungry and I still think it is one of the best books about the role of fat in our diet.
Do you eat a lot of fat? Do you worry about it? Are you still convinced that “low fat” is the way to go?