Why you should eat fat

One of my friends has tried to school me on diet twice in the last week. It annoys me for two reasons. One, I’ve been studying nutrition at University for 3 years now and have had both positive and negative obsessions with food for years and have absorbed a great deal of information. Two, he was wrong.

First he tried to tell me the bagels had more calories per 100g than waffles.  You could misinterpret those figures if you’re looking at some US nutritional data and completely discount fibre, fat, sugar and any toppings. Using Australian data, and picking the plainest brands, at the biggest stretch waffles just barely overtook bagels in terms of calorie density. Looking at the brands I was actually buying, it was around double the calories for a toaster waffle. Do your research buddy! Not to mention that I’d be hungry again in an hour because there would be nothing of substance in the waffle to keep me going until lunch!

The second time, it really got on my nerves. I mentioned I was eating a plain dinner of baked tofu, green beans and brown rice. For health, I’m being especially stringent with my diet at the moment, but with some seasonings it was quite palatable. I mentioned this of my Twitter feed and copped the “soy = fat and fat = bad” argument from him. I tried to explain how good fats and bad fats work but ended up getting frustrated with him not listening to me. Mainly because if you have any desire to learn about the way the body works, and weight loss/healthy living etc. let alone any interest in food, you’re going to need to know the following things:

Fat = flavour. And it’s essential for your body to function properly.

That doesn’t mean go and be a lardass and gorge yourself on Krispy Kremes, icecream and McDonalds. But yes, vegetables are tastier with a little olive oil and seasoning, and no one wants to be deprived of taste in their diet.

You need to get 20-35% of energy from lipids (fats) and it’s important for carrying fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and certain antioxidants. Fats also supply essential fatty acids for healthy skin and have a role in regulating body functions.

There are two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats can be found in milk, cream, butter, hard cheese, meats, coconut oil, and palm oil (and these are not so good for you). The unfortunate thing is that these are the foods that people find the most pleasing to the palate, and the foods that contain good or unsaturated fats are the ones that you probably only consider if you’re into nutrition, fitness or vegetarianism.

Good fats

Unsaturated fats consist of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as oily fish (salmon, sardines and tuna), soy products and walnuts. These are all good foods! They are full of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, that have a myriad of benefits to the body and blood regulation especially. You need to eat these foods, and anyone who refuses to eat them because they are “fatty”. Here’s what my friend said on Twitter. @healthypartygrl is myself, I’ve removed his username for privacy.

  1. @healthypartygrl cheers for the heads up on nuts – wtf @ almonds since when were they so fattening?? over 50% fat 😐 i dont care if it’s “good”

  2. @healthypartygrl wtf does “good fat” mean anyway???? isn’t it merely saturated or unsaturated?
  3. @healthypartygrl even still… eating something that’s 20% fat can’t be good for you… despite being “good” fat

So even though I have tried to explain the difference between good and bad fats (no mean feat in 140 characters) he is still unwilling to listen and try to understand the idea that there may be an alternative to his point of view. It’s not as simple as fat = bad. You need to have nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado, soy products and so on in a balanced diet. Almonds, for example, have a low fat content compared to some of the other nuts and are high in calcium! They also contain protein and a small handful of almonds is a great afternoon nibble to tide you through until dinner without adding to the waistband. The fats you should be avoiding come from fried foods, confectionary products and dairy. But let’s face it, they’re the tasty ones.

Some of the information in this post was taken from:
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/healthyactive/publishing.nsf/Content/good-bad-fat

3 Comments

  1. Gavin

    You are right – we do need “good” fats in our diets. You are talking sense!

    I’ve just done 6 months of personal training mostly crossfit with kettlebells.

    My diet composed of 5-6 meals per day for a total daily intake of 30% calories from carbs, 40% calories from protein & 30% calories from fat. The amounts of foods was based on my daily activity levels.

    These percentages were based on my fitness/strength goals and my own perculiar body chemistry and physiology. Everyone will be different but I’d doubt if it varied much from mine.

    I was told to eat cauliflower and broccoli even for breakfast but I didn’t do that. Ate 150mL of low fat ice cream and even now I have a light apple pie and light custard each night. You go crazy if you can’t eat some of the “fun” foods. At work I even sneak in a muffin but you’ll see why a few paragraphs later.

    I only worked out for 1 hour 3x per week. Once you throw in supplements like Glutamine which really gets your metabolism going you get hungrier and hungrier.

    For me you have to look at everything and cutting out fat altogether is BAD. That is not how our body chemistry and biology works. I’m proof.

    So in 7 months I’ve gone from 23.4% body fat to about 8% now. Body fat mass dropped from 21.5kg to about 7kg now. I’ve stacked on kg’s of lean muscle mass also.

    I think a lot of people just think if they cut the fat intake out and not exercise they’ll drop the weight. More likely they are losing muscle mass. Also carbohydrates are also a major enemy unless like me I’m using them to stack on muscle naturally, carbo loading.

    I know I’m doing well cause the girls are noticing and I stand out from all the “hopefulls” at the gym who I reckon don’t have a clue about the right way to train and get fit. That used to be me.

    Reply
    1. jadechai

      Thanks for your comment. Congratulations on all of your results! I certainly could not give up having a chocolate here or a beer there. I’ve sacrificed a lot to try and get my diet 99% on the straight and narrow, but that 1% I need for my sanity! What people don’t realise is that there’s no wonder-cure, and that it really is just a lot of hard work. All the best!

      For the other readers out there, Carbohydrates is something I’m going to cover later on but in short, they are an essential macronutrient and just like protein and lipids, should not be removed from the diet. Do your research and see a doctor before embarking on any strict diet or fitness regime.

      Reply
  2. Sonia

    If we are in to losing weight than we should avoid extra fat foods. Instead of that we can take some healthy fat burning foods and fruits.
    Anyways this article is very informative and inspiring. thanks for this excellent post. 🙂

    Reply

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