The more time that I spend overlooking my client's food diaries and speaking to women from my classes about nutrition, the more it becomes apparent just how misunderstood this vital macronutrient really is.
With the information provided by the media, it's not surprising that we live in a society that seems to be terrified of including fat into their diet. Dietary fat will make you fat, saturated fat and cholesterol will lead to ill heath and heart disease and your physique will start to resemble something not dissimilar to Michelin Mans right?
WRONG!! This couldn't be further from the truth. Dietary fat does NOT make you fat, excess calories are what make you gain body fat. A calorie is a unit of energy, regardless of what form it is consumed in. Eating more calories than you require and utilize is what will have a negative impact on your weight.
The scary thing for me is that there is actually no proven scientific evidence to support that saturated fat and cholesterol cause you ill health, but yet this is something that is so widely believed to be true. In fact, the science has now taken a complete turn and is finally in support of these fats and we are hearing how they can help you to loose weight, gain muscle mass and feel more healthy and energetic. Hallelujah!!
Healthy fats are not referred to as EFA'S (Essential fatty acids) for no reason. They are actually essential to our bodies performing optimally, they are vital for hormone balance, promote leanness and aid in the prevention of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Certain fats have also been shown to be antimicrobial, improve digestion, and enhance protein synthesis in response to strength training, while reducing muscular soreness.
Studies show that the body processes dietary fat in many different ways, but that it is not stored as subcutaneous fat.
Omega - 3 fats found in fish and flaxseed, are used to make hormones, which are essential to our everyday health. Mono-saturated fats found in avocado, nuts and olive oil are also not stored as body fat. And wait, here's the real spanner in the works! Coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat, has also been proven to have extreme health benefits and AGAIN is not stored in the body as fat! The effects of eating these types of fats, is that you actually raise energy expenditure, leading you to burn more calories than you would otherwise.
Now I'm not saying that you can go and eat as much fat as you like, as after all, excess calories of any kind lead to unwanted weight gain. However, what I am saying is that instead of opting for the 'low fat' alternative full of sugars that is detrimental to our health, include healthy fats within your diet and monitor your portion size. Trust me, your body will thank you for it!