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In Defense of Fat


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 The number one comment I get when I discuss how I eat or what Paleo is all about is, “Yeah, but that can’t be good for your heart. All that fat and cholesterol can’t be good for you.”

Oh, contraire, Mon frère.  I’m going to just say it, and let the point settle in. Eating saturated fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease. Eating saturated fat is not the leading driver of high cholesterol, and eating saturated fat does not cause Type 2 Diabetes. (There are more ills that dietary fat is blamed for, but you get the picture.) Study after study now shows that total dietary fat intake does not cause these problems. (More on that later) What does? Sugar does. Another culprit is trans-fats. There is a great article that discusses the problem with the “lipid hypothesis” in great detail from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Here is the link:

http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats#lipid

“Fat, to all humans means ‘survival’ to our physiological functioning. Diets low in fat paradoxically cause the body to more easily synthesize fat from other sources, most notably carbohydrates, and to absorb and store the unwanted fat.”  ~ Nora Gedgaudas, Primal Body, Primal Mind.

Being overweight is not a problem of eating too much fat or even eating too much, period. It is a problem of STORING fat. This is a storing problem, not an eating problem.  Gary Taubes, in the book, Why We Get Fat, does a great job of explaining this concept. The whole “calories in/calories out balance” to losing weight doesn’t work. There is a great YouTube video featuring Dr Robert Lustig, titled, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” that explains this well. What foods cause us to store fat? Sugar and starch do. (More on the metabolic evils of a high carbohydrate diet in another post.) For now this is all about why fat is our friend!

Of the 3 macro nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrate, our bodies can use only two of those for fuel, fat and sugar. Sugar is a toxin to the body. The body doesn’t want the toxin, so it burns it off as fuel as fast as it can, thus the sugar high you experience after eating something sugary or starchy, and the subsequent crash.

 

So, here’s the thing. If we eliminate the sugar (and starchy carbohydrates) and replace it with enough of the right fats (saturated, monounsaturated and essential polyunsaturated fats; avoid trans-fats at all costs and avoid vegetable and seed oils) then the body will switch to burning fat for energy. The body actually prefers to burn fat for energy. It burns slower, energy levels last longer, and we end up avoiding the blood sugar rollercoaster ride that we are used to as sugar burners. We should be burning fat, not storing it, and with the absence of sugar producing foods, we will!

Fat also makes our food taste good so we feel satiated. It also triggers the hormone, Leptin, which is the hormone that tells us we are full and to stop eating. Any guess as to which macro-nutrient suppresses Leptin? You know the answer. Carbohydrates do, and the more refined they are, the worse they are. 

No more having to eat every 3 to 4 hours in order to maintain energy and blood sugar levels. Halleluiah!!!! Honestly, why would nature ever have intended for us to eat small meals every 3-4 hours throughout the day in order to be healthy? You have to be kidding me!! Our earliest genetically identical ancestors were lucky to eat once or twice a day sometimes when food was scarce during winters or after an unsuccessful hunt. Nature is not that stupid.

We are NOT naturally built to run on carbohydrates, we were built to run on fat. Grains and sugars were not a part of our diet originally. From an evolutionary standpoint, these are new food sources to us and we have not adapted to metabolizing them without physiological damage. Fat is something we have ALWAYS metabolized with great success. It wasn’t until the introduction of starch as a staple in our diet that the diseases referenced in my second paragraph even emerged.

Some practical guidance: When cooking, cook with saturated fat as a preference. Use coconut oil, butter, or lard (fats that are solid at room temperature but NOT any kind of margarine or Crisco-like substance). It is far more heat stable and will not break down into free radicals when heated over high heat and you only need a little bit. I use olive oil when I have to. I prefer olive oil after cooking or on salads. Some other unsaturated fats to consider are macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, or avocado oil. All of these are best used after cooking or on salads.

 

So, you have my permission to shake off your fear of fat. Fat is our friend. Use it with love and happiness to make your food taste good and to help kick that sugar monkey off your back!

 

Until Next Time,

 

Laura, Mom Gone Paleo

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8 Responses to “In Defense of Fat”

  1. I whole-heartedly agree. Fats are also where most of the fat-soluble vitamins in the animial are stored. If you cut all the fat off the steak and throw it away, you are literally throwing the vitamin rich part of the steak in the trash.
    I would also recommend Know Your Fats by Mary Enig. Great book, with hundreds (yes hundreds!) of studies that have proven that saturated fats are good for you.
    I always say, the more fat you eat the more fat your body will release. I think people who eat low fat diets, are so starved for healthy fats that their body literally holds onto every ounce that it can!

  2. Pa-Leo says:

    Hi Laura,

    After hearing Nora Gedgaudas last June on a late night radio program and then reading her book, my wife and I have been “Paleo-LC” for nine months. I lost 30 lbs in the first 3 months after starting paleo and have maintained the “lifestyle” for over 9 months. We feel terrific. I have a scientific background and experimentally oriented. I got so crazy that I bought a glucometer to collect data on myself even though neither of us has any issues with insulin control.

    Both Paleo and “Low Carb” are two different approaches to limiting neolithic carbohydrate sources, but Paleo focuses on eating clean, real foods. Paleo is certainly not always low carb and low carb is not always Paleo, but the combination of the two yield “Paleo-LC”. Paleo-LC is an ideal strategy for controlling blood sugar and maintaining a healthy body weight via a drug free, hormone balanced, homeostasis that provides energy all day long and promotes required, well rested sleep for recovery each day. Nora’s book was the start and we haven’t looked back and have no “SAD”ness as a result.

    I’m not talking super low carb, just enough carbs to stay in FAT burning mode and . FAT is the fuel for the body when limiting consumption of carbohydrates to around 100 grams and protein to around a gram / lb of body weight each day. After 9 months on a Paleo (real food), low carb (no wheat, no grains, no starchy vegetables, no beans, no rice, no “Man” enhanced sweet fuits), plus eliminating all “Man”ipulated and “Man”ufactured oils, eating only healthy animal and vegetable sourced FATs that are lower in omega-6, only moderate protein, and eating limited amounts of “safe” carbohydrates, it’s all good.

    All of this comes without the typical after meal slow downs from wild blood sugar swings caused by eating excess carbohydrates and sugars. After weighing and recording everything I put in my mouth each day for 2 weeks, I know that eating over 60% of daily calories from FAT requires no portion controls. As you wrote earlier, the bonus from this is that hunger cravings two to three hours after eating are no longer present. Two big meals per day plus a few small snacks are all calories one needs to be satiated throughout the day and thus not over eat. Average glucometer reading for the last 30 days with random testing times such as before and after meals and through out the day is less than 100 mg/dL That’s the high end of the range for a reading after overnight fasting!

    The human body works just fine without eating starch and sugar (digestible carbohydrates). There is absolutely no requirements for dietary carbohydrates–NONE. Every gram of digestible carbohydrate that is consumed is eventually converted to glucose. The body can actually make glucose when needed for necessary brain function and oxygen regulation in the blood. This lifestyle change may not work for everyone, but for many who’s hormones are unbalanced from years of stress, lack of restful sleep, and disrupted digestive/lipid system from eating too much sugar, carbs, and bad fats it may be the only answer. This eating style can work for the majority of SAD eaters, and that’s most of US. Once you like what you look like in the mirror you can start helping others get there too, that’s where we’re at now.

    Thanks again Mom Gone Paleo for helping to get the word out,

    Pa-Leo

    • momgonepaleo says:

      Hi Pa Leo!

      Thank you so much for such a passionate and obviously insightful comment! I am a Nora Gedgaudas disciple as well. I wrote to her before I began this little adventure to put myself out there and she actually replied with very helpful advice. She’s not only brilliant but thoughtful and willing to help as well. In one of my posts I address the “no need for carbs” thing too.

      I went low carb to lose my baby weight after I had the kids and it worked like a charm. But all the dairy I was eating wasn’t doing me any favors. Turns out I have a dairy sensitivity. When I lost the weight and went back to eating normal. Bam! Gained some of it back. This is a lifestyle choice right Pa-Leo? Nothing drives me more crazy when people say that low-carb doesn’t work because the minute you go off it you gain all the weight back. Well of course you do! It wasn’t that low carb that didn’t work it was the SAD you went back to that doesn’t work! Thus is something I am adamant about. And you’re right. Low carb doesn’t necessarily mean Paleo and Paleo doesn’t necessarily mean low carb. A very good distinction.

      Congratulations on your weight-loss and your ongoing healthy lifestyle. I hope others can join us on our journey as well. That is why I started this blog and why I’m attending nutrition school. Thanks again for your comment I hope you continue to comment along the way.

      ~ MGP

      Sent from my iPhone

      ~ Laura

  3. […] In Defense of Fat (momgonepaleo.com) Share this:StumbleUponFacebookPrintEmailDiggTwitterRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  4. […] sure you have read much of this on your own. If not feel free to see my past posts discussing the health benefits of fats. And this one about the Truth about […]

  5. […] are not the bad guys. Sugar, trans fats and processed foods are the bad guys. Please see my post “In Defense of Fat” and ” The Top 10 Reasons Why the Calories In/Calories Out Paradigm is a Bunch of Crap” […]

  6. […] Promotes plenty of high quality fats. Dietary fat is a phenomenal fuel source for our brains and is necessary for building and strengthening cell walls. Stay away from any food that has been transformed from a high fat food in its natural state to a low fat food. That requires processing and kills off most of the healthy benefits that food provides. And saturated fat from a healthy source is your friend, not your enemy. For more info see this post. […]

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