Are you getting fat enough? Part One

Uncategorized Mar 23, 2019

I encourage my clients to eat plenty of healthy fats. Fats are one of the three macronutrients that provide energy and a host of other health benefits for our bodies. Fats are essential for growth and development, they nourish our skin, our hair, and our nails. They help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins, A, E, D, and K. They also regulate hormones and help us maintain a steady metabolism. Fat also provides cushioning for our organs, helps keep us warm, and certain fats reduce inflammation in the body.


As you are probably aware there are several different types of fats, there are trans-fats, saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and essential fatty acids, like Omega-3s and Omega-6s.


So, which fats should you avoid?

Well, let’s start with the lowest quality, the lowest quality and one to make sure to avoid is trans- fat. Trans-fats are reported to cause accelerated aging, heart disease, and cancer. Whilst some trans-fats occur naturally, most are manmade, and they are chemically altered. Trans-fats are designed to give foods flavour and increase their shelf life. Your body has difficult time processing man-made trans-fats, because they are not recognised by your body. They’re found in baked goods, processed foods, fried foods, and margarines.


Whilst there have been several calls for trans-fats to be banned in the UK. Bans on trans-fats currently exist in Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and certain US states, including New York and California. However, a UK ban has not been met Government support, which has preferred to allow food companies to reduce the trans-fat content of their foods on a voluntary basis.


In the US, food manufacturers are obliged to mention fat content on the labels of any product containing more than 0.5 grams of trans-fats per serving, but according to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), there are currently no legal requirements for food manufacturers in the UK to do the same.


The BDA notes that foods produced using hardened vegetable oils typically contain some trans-fats. These include many fried foods, biscuits, pies and cakes. “Fat spreads and margarines that have hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient will usually contain some trans-fats, although reformulation has led to significant reductions in recent years,” says the BDA. The association advises that people check ingredients lists for “hydrogenated fats” or “hydrogenated vegetable oils”.


However, it notes that only partially hydrogenated fats, as opposed to fully hydrogenated fat, contain trans-fats. The higher up the list of ingredients the partially hydrogenated fat or oil appears, the more trans-fats the product is likely to contain. It adds that “many manufacturers now avoid using hydrogenated fats or have reduced the amount of trans-fats in their products to very low levels”.


Okay, so let’s talk about saturated fat

Saturated fat, often thought of as animal fat, has been said to be one of the unhealthier fats, although not as bad for you as trans-fat. And again, like all things in nutrition, there are plenty of people with differing opinions.


A handful of recent reports have muddied the link between saturated fat and heart disease. One meta-analysis of 21 studies said that there was not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease.


Two other major studies narrowed the prescription slightly, concluding that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils or high-fibre carbohydrates is the best bet for reducing the risk of heart disease, but replacing saturated fat with highly processed carbohydrates could do the opposite.


My advice to clients is to be mindful of the quality and quantity of the saturated fat that they are eating.


Now, an exception in the saturated fat category is coconut oil, which is a non animal based saturated fat. A study in the 1930s found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy and trim, despite the high fat concentration in their diet. And that heart disease was virtually non-existent. Again research on coconut oil is controversial but a number of studies have found that coconut oil can help you promote heart health, promote weight loss when needed, support your immune system, support a healthy metabolism, provide you with an immediate energy source, of course, because all fats do actually, keep your skin healthy and youthful looking, and support the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. Coconut oil is also considered healthy because it contains lauric acid, which has anti-viral, anti-bacteria, and anti-protozoa properties. And coconut oil also contains capric acid, which is anti-microbial.


And whilst coconut oil is saturated fat, it is different to other kinds of saturated fat, because it’s made of “Medium Chain Fatty Acids”, and what makes medium chain fatty acids different, is that they’re sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy instead of being stored as fat.


Tomorrow we will explore unsaturated fatty acids and consider how to ensure we are getting the right proportion of healthy fat in our diet.


Register now to get the class workbook and access to the video and private podcast replay

I understand that my email will be used to receive information and updates by email. Please note that your email will not be shared with a 3rd party & you can unsubscribe at any time..