Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why I Eat Saturated Fat

When people hear “saturated fat” they get really scared. They see themselves putting on weight, having heart attacks, and clogging arteries in a rapid rate. North American saturated fat phobia is widespread. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misguided “experts” and misinformation about this topic.
There was a period of my life that I fell for low fat diet. Unfortunately, this was also the time when my health was the poorest. My weight went up, I got chronically fatigued, unfocused, bloated, hypoglycemic and generally unwell. Have you ever wondered why you eat all the “right” things and have trouble losing weight and feel unwell? This was just my problem, but instead of giving up I kept on searching. Then I adopted the Zone diet which made a difference to my energy level, but no way could I lose weight. Then I tried to lower calories. I ended up hungry, deprived and weak. And after a few lost pounds my weight loss just stalled. I could not function on this diet, so I went back to normal eating. My energy improved, but my weight went up again. I also tried (not so healthy) high protein diet, which should work well for weight loss, but instead I ended up with a complaining liver.
I got fed up and started eating whatever I wanted. My weight stabilized. I was not putting on any more. My energy was better, and I generally accepted that state as the ultimate state I could get. However, being curious I decided to type my diet diary on the computer and analyze my dietary calories… and I was shocked! 60% of calories came from fat! What!!!! I was eating unhealthy???!! I am a naturopath. I know better! Should I not feel sick or be sick? But I wasn’t. I could not believe it.
I tried different diets again, and to my surprise high fat diet worked every time. I was not hungry, I had energy, I did not put on weight, and my liver was happy. This was a shock for me because fat was, in my mind, not something you want to have too much of. However, despite my still persisting anti-fat bias I did some research.
We all know that there are good fats, and bad fats. Good fats were supposed to be things like olive oil, and omega-3, bad fats were the trans fats and saturated fats. This is what I was taught, told, and enforced by the media. Well, after some research it turned out there is a bit more detail to it.
One thing got clear: stay away from extra PUFA (omega-6). They are predominantly in salad dressings. You may consider salad a healthy food. Yet despite this wide-spread belief most salads eaten today will not qualify for that claim. A vast majority of salad dressings contain PUFAs, molecules that are unstable (oxidize easily) and pro-inflammatory. They will make you age faster. For example, did you know that brown spots (age spots) on back of your hands come from oxidized fat?
Second thing got clear as well: the most stable are saturated fats. They do not oxidize, therefore you do not need extra anti-oxidants to counteract its metabolic effects. They burn clean, which means they leave little toxic residue in the body. They raise metabolic rate, which means you will be warmer, more energised, and lose weight. Yes, they can be inflammatory if the rest of your diet fuels this process, so inclusion of saturated fats in the diet requires careful planning. Just adding them randomly will not work. You have to be smart about it, but the effort is worth the benefits.
There is much more to saturated fats, PUFAs, omega-3s, and cholesterol. I will keep on expanding on this subject as I believe better understanding of nutrition is a key to health. My current diet is approx. 70% calories from fat, predominantly butter, eggs, and grass-fed beef. I feel fantastic, never deprived or craving, have great energy (I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome few years ago), and look exceptionally good for my age.

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