Why Fats are my New Best Friends + A list of Must Haves

Did you know, on average, the human body is made up of 15 - 30% fat? Yet, decades of influence from media and food companies has conditioned us to believe that fats are bad and has influenced our perception of what fats should look like.  The "low-fat" and "fat-free" products have made significant headway onto the shelves in supermarkets and restaurants straight into the kitchens and meals of individuals and families.  Unfortunately, these products tend to be higher in refined carbs and sugar leaving us at greater risk for numerous health issues.  It's time to release guilt and shame surrounding the consumption of fats and to implement the right kind of fats for your individual needs into your daily food intake. Read below to see my ten reasons why fats are your friend and check out the list of must haves to start incorporating into your diet today.

10 Reason Why Fats Are NOT the Enemy:

  1. Fats are one of the fundamental building blocks of our nutritional triangle...most would even say it's at the top.  Think, fat equals fuel.  Fuel for energy, for healthy hair, skin, and nails, for vitamin absorption, brain function, and many other amazing benefits that good fats have to offer.  Whether you get your fats from animal sources or plant sources is completely based on what works for you and feels best for your body.  It's important to keep in mind as bio-individuals we have the ability to find which foods fuel our bodies AND makes us feel amazing while eating it.  So, variety is key in finding the best fuel for you!
  2. Fats contain 9 calories per gram as opposed to the 4 calories per gram we receive from carbohydrates and protein.  You're probably saying, "how is this a good thing?"  Because of its higher caloric density it offers substance.  Substance equals satiation.  Therefore, this is good because fats promote regulation of the hunger response, allowing your stomach to fill and remain satiated for longer periods of time.  On the flip side, this will regulate negative eating habits such as binge eating, eating due to boredom, and cravings So, a great snack choice would be to carry nuts and seeds with you throughout the day to hold you over till the next meal!
  3. Long chain fatty acids, like Omega-3's and Omega-6's, are super beneficial to our bodies and increase immune function. These types of fats play a crucial role in regulating inflammation in the body.  Some inflammation is good, like when you get a small cut on your finger and it becomes slightly red and warm, but often many people are deficient in these types of fats and suffer from chronic cellular inflammation which is the root cause in many health problems.  Adding in Omega-3's, especially, can be an amazing resource for calming down the body from internal stress.
  4. Eating fat keeps you thin.  I like to say, "fat burns fat, sugar stores fat."  Having this in the back of my mind constantly kept me in check when I was struggling with keeping my weight consistent.  It makes perfect sense! Healthy, good quality fats contribute to fueling cells for metabolizing insulin, thus, reducing the risk of insulin resistance.  The right fats also increase the fat burning process, reducing fat storage because it is in constant motion, whereas sugar and the WRONG fats build up fat deposits in the body. Therefore, fueling the body with good quality fats is optimal for weight loss and performance in fitness and sports.
  5. Not every type of fat is your friend.  Yes, certain fats like polyunsaturated from vegetable oils (soy, palm, canola, peanut, corn, safflower, sunflower), trans fats, and other processed seed oils can have opposing affects on the body.  This is not a case of "keep your enemies closer."  These types of fats are damaging to the body and they should be removed from your diet immediately!  Just like sugar, these types of fats can cause weight gain and various other health issues including heart disease.
  6. The human brain consists of approximately 60% fat.  That's insane!  In order for our brains to work at it's optimal potential, WE NEED FAT.  Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is an essential Omega-3 fatty acid that is crucial to our health and is found in a lot of seafood, especially salmon. Specifically, our brain won't function properly without it.  Research and science suggests that low-fat diets contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and can be a major factor in many brain malfunctions due to deficiencies in essential fatty acids. 
  7. Most vitamins we take in on a daily basis are fat soluble.  That means, our body can't absorb them without the presence of fats. So, if you're a healthie and you're keen on getting your vitamins in daily by keeping track of the food you eat to get all the goodies into your body, then be aware that many of these substances need fats in order to be stored in the body for proper use. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K and can be found in just the right amounts of different food sources. Remember, too much of anything can have negative affects, as well.
  8. Fats are crucial for reproductive health. Both men and women benefit tremendously from utilizing fats in the body because they effective in regulating hormone balance for increased fertility. For women, not only do they help with PMS and menstrual symptoms, they offer amazing properties to keep our womanly bodies ready for pregnancy and the little peanuts that will be growing inside of us. For men, fats help keep testosterone levels in line. Fun fact: fats also play a big role in libido.
  9. Some fats contain anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties.  This makes them amazing at fighting against bad bacteria, such as candida yeast, and can help reduce symptoms and further inflammation. Also, this makes some oils great for natural sources of moisturizing the skin and reducing over population of germs and bad bacterias that might latch on to us! My personal favorite is coconut oil.
  10. Saturated fats are not the enemy. This doesn't mean you should go indulge in all the Big Mac cheeseburgers from McDonald's you want. For years this has been a highly debated topic between researchers in nutrition and organizations, like the American Heart Association, and major food companies that have conflicting views regarding saturated fats. Bio-Individuality plays an important role in the process when choosing which saturated fats work best for YOU. Saturated fats can also be found in plant sources, as well as animal sources, but the quality of the fat is essential in your decision. The best sources come from farms who practice sustainable methods when raising and producing quality animal products. I highly recommend taking a look at the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Meat Eater's Guide for facts, news, and information regarding animal products. 

List of Must Have Fats in Your Diet to Optimize Function and Performance:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts & seeds rich in Omega's (walnuts, chia, flax)
  • Wild caught or sustainably raised Salmon & Sardines
  • Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Unrefined, virgin coconut oil & coconut butter