The Importance of Fat in a Natural Diet
For years we had been told that in order to lose weight and achieve better health, a low-fat diet was the best approach. Welcome the low-fat diet craze. People began shunning any foods containing fat and food manufactures started rolling out “heart healthy” low-fat and fat free versions of their previously full fat products. So what happened next? People became fatter than ever- obesity rates continued to steadily climb as well as the rates of cancer and heart disease. So, not only were we becoming fatter, but our overall health was declining.
Why does this happen? There are two main reasons:
1. Eating a low-fat diet requires you to forgo a natural diet and choose foods that have been altered from their natural state in order to reduce or remove the fat. When you remove fat from foods you are also removing all of the taste. In response to this, food manufactures add in other things, such as sugar and salt, to make them taste better. Low-fat diets encourage eating processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and other additives, that are full of empty calories (calories that provide no nutritional value), and have a negative impact on one’s health.
2. When you restrict the amount you eat of one macronutrient (fat) you are naturally going to consume more of the other two macronutrients (carbohydrates and protein) creating a nutritional imbalance. A healthy diet is one that is balanced, including a variety of foods from each of the three macronutrient groups (carbohydrates, protein, fat) as each one provides a variety of different nutrients that are collectively required to sustain health.
Dietary Fat Is Your FriendFat plays a vital role in many different processes throughout the body and is required for health.
• Is an excellent energy source providing 9 calories per gram; fat is our primary energy source at rest and during lower intensity activities
• Protects our organs and helps to maintain cell membranes
• Provides us with essential fatty acids (essential because our bodies cannot produce them) that help to lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and support mental health and function • Helps our bodies to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, & K)
• Is essential in maintaining hormones, which are the turn-key to the entire body
More important than the amount of fat you consume is the type of fat being consumed. Fats can be placed into one of two groups- “good”(unsaturated) fats and “bad” (saturated, trans) fats. The good fats are the fats found in natural, whole foods (fish, nuts, avocados, seeds, and olive oil) and benefit health by providing nutrients, removing cholesterol from arteries, promoting a healthier heart, and help you to burn fat. The bad fats are the fats that are found in fried and heavily processed foods that increase cholesterol, damage your heart, and increase the risk of certain diseases.
Low-fat diets steer us away from natural, wholesome foods towards processed foods filled with sugar, salt, and other additives that have negative impacts on our health. Focus on eating a balanced diet made up of a variety of naturally-occurring foods (if it doesn’t occur naturally, don’t eat it!). Eating clean is the best, most natural way to lose weight and increase your overall health.