As we enter the New Near, resolutions are on many people’s mind, with losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle topping the list. In 2015, my resolution revolves around eating more healthy fat. Let me explain….
Fat is a macronutrient, and one that was vilified by many for years, sustaine in part by studies that showed a correlation between heart disease and high-fat diets. This fueled the low-fat craze of the 80s, which had us eating a lot of processed foods that were loaded with sugar (to make them taste batter due to the lack of fat)! Fast-forward 20 years, and we are rediscovering the benefits of certain kinds of fat; namely omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids that also happen to be essential nutrients for health, and MCTs, which are medium-chain fatty acids that boost metabolism. Here are 3 ways unsaturated fats can improve your health:
Feeling Full & Satisfied
It’s actually a myth that fat in our diet automatically equates to fat on our bodies. Just as fat can cause weight gain, especially when you combine high intakes of fried food and a sedentary lifestyle – consuming fat can also be beneficial for weight loss or maintenance. When you eat fat in the form of healthy omega-3’s, you experience a lasting full feeling, which will make you less apt to overeat. (Notice how that doesn’t happen when your diet is filled with processed carbohydrates!) To achieve satiety, you’ll need to focus on eating healthy high-fat foods such as flaxseeds, nuts, and nut butters. And you don’t need much of it to experience the benefits. A single ounce of almonds, for example, has about 14 grams of fat and 163 calories. That serving size is enough to keep your stomach from growling for several hours.
Energy Reserve & Metabolism Boost
The typical Western diet is largely composed of long chain triglycerides (LCTs), typically consumed in processed vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and safflower. In excess, LCTs act as the building blocks of stubborn body fat.
But there is a specific kind of plant-based fat called medium-chain triglycerides – commonly referred to as MCTs – that is shown in multiple studies1 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition to not only increase metabolism, but literally keep fat off your body. Unlike LCTs, shorter length MCTs are primarily used for energy production and rarely ever stored as fat.
Derived from palm kernel oil and coconut oil, MCTs provide you with cleaner and more rapidly utilized energy. This is because MCTs are not stored in the body in the same way traditional fats are stored. Instead of landing in problem areas of your belly, hips, and thighs, MCT oil does the opposite. MCTs promote ketone bodies-compounds created by the body when it burns fat stores for energy. When you eat a diet low in carbs and high in healthful fat like MCTs, your body responds to the reduced levels of blood sugar by switching to an alternative power source and converts fatty acids in the liver to ketones. Ketones then become the main energy source. Instead of your body burning carbs, it burns fat! This usually starts to occur 20 minutes into an exercise session.
Vitamin Transport & Whole-Body Benefits
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins, which rely on fat for storage and transportation throughout the body. Vitamin A helps with vision, vitamin D helps with bone strength, vitamin E boosts the immune system and vitamin K promotes blood clotting. Fatty acids synthesize hormones and molecules involved with immune function and cell signaling.
Because your brain is actually comprised of 2/3 fat, eating unsaturated fat helps promote cognitive health. The same goes for your nervous system, as the protective covering surrounding nerves is comprised of 70% fat. Fat provides the structural components not only of cell membranes in the brain, but also of myelin, the fatty insulating sheath that surrounds each nerve fiber, enabling it to carry messages faster. Finally, fatty acids are important for hair and skin health.
Here are my favorite healthy fats:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
Try adding a tablespoon of coconut oil or MCT oil to your morning smoothie, or a tablespoon of ground flaxseed along with fresh berries to your Greek yogurt in the morning. Or, try of mixing your tuna with avocado instead of mayo as the creamy binder. Make a salad dressing mixed with tahini and olive oil. Bring a bag of fresh almonds or toasted pumpkin seeds into the office for a snack instead of hitting the vending machine. There are so many easy ways to incorporate healthy fats into your diet!
You will see a lot of these foods in my upcoming 14-day Transformational Whole Foods Winter Cleanse, as winter is a time that favors having more fat in your diet. So if you’re looking for guidance to help your body get in tune with what it needs right now as you head into 2015 with aspirations of becoming your best self, don’t delay. Click here to sign up today. This 14 Day Transformation kicks off next Monday and I’d love to have you along for the ride!