– Dietary “FAT” Myths Busted –
The “Good-Fats”… The “Bad Fats” …and The “Ugly Fats”
For decades we have been told that eating fat was bad. Even today, you still see tons of “low fat” and “no-fat” products being sold in the grocery stores. While we are not sitting here suggesting that all fat is good, it is important to be able to understand the difference between the “good-fats”, the “bad-Fats”, and the “ugly fats”. Your health truly depends on it!
There is a lot that you need to learn about FATS, especially if you want to maintain normal blood sugars and a healthy heart…while keeping your cholesterol levels in check.
Not All Fats Are Created Equal
Again, a few decades back, fat was perceived to be bad for your health and everyone was advocating for low-fat diets…even the entire medical community. You would see grocery store aisles loaded with “non/low fat” products and commercials for low fat foods were likely invading your television.
This “low-fat craze” gave processed food companies a way to manipulate their products to be more appetizing while claiming that their snacks were “fat free” or “low fat”. One of the primary ways they were able to do this is by adding processed, refined, and manufactured sweeteners….or “artificial sweeteners”. In fact, you may have been brainwashed into thinking these “artificial” products are safe, when actual research is showing otherwise.
There are still many diets today that encourage low fat intake. Yet, contrary to what was once “popular belief”, not all fats are bad. In fact, I would argue that the opposite is actually true.
One thing you need to understand is that there are two types of fats (you can even say 3): the saturated fats, the unsaturated fats, and the 3rd group ….trans-fats. The saturated fats- the kind you get from cheese and animal products, historically, have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. These fats, for many years, were classified as “the bad fats”.
I say “historically” because new research and studies have come out suggesting there is not a clear correlation between the consumption of saturated fats and increased risk of heart disease. In fact, there is an ongoing scientific debate about this topic.
There are many in the nutritional and medical community that believe these recent studies were done well and they uncover extremely important (and new) information supporting the consumption of saturated fats….and that they are not as bad as we originally thought.
Yet, many nutrition scientists argue that saturated fat should still be limited and that the study done “does not tell the whole story”. Others suggest that looking at the quality of your food as a whole, and how it was prepared is most important.
Unsaturated fats, known as “the good fats”, are absolutely essential as they help reverse all the issues supposedly caused by the “bad fats” and “ugly fats”. I am referring to things such as high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and perpetuating diabetes and diabetes symptoms. These kinds of fats are present in plant oils and foods like avocados, nuts, and seeds. Studies have shown that these fats can actually help you reduce heart disease and cholesterol levels. Imagine that….”fat is actually good for us”!!!
There is no debate about the value of “the ugly fats”, or lack-there-of. The “Ugly fats” are known as “trans-fats” and all scientists agree that these fats are actually VERY BAD for you. These fats both raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of BOTH men and women. Trans-fats are found in many fried foods, margarines, cakes and cake mixes, pancakes and waffles, processed foods, ice creams and more. Just read the label before you buy it. If it contains Trans-fat, you should probably just put it down.
It’s amazing that food manufacturers were still allowed to use these deadly ingredients. Fortunately, the FDA made a ruling that would ban from food manufacturers from using “artificial trans-fats”. The FDA has set a 2018 deadline for food companies to eliminate trans fat from their products. Now, if the FDA would eliminate genetically modified foods from our food supply (like 26 countries have already done), we would be much healthier as a society.
Calories In Different Fats Are Not Created Equal
While all calories will burn in a similar way in a laboratory, your body is not a lab. This means your body will treat calories from different foods differently. For example, calories from an avocado will not be treated the same way as those from pasta. This is just how the body works. You will find calories listed on restaurant menus but these numbers are only in relation to laboratory tests and not how the body will view these calories.
Fat will Not Make You Fat
If you ask random people what makes people fat, they will respond with overeating and not exercising. This makes sense but it’s not a scientific explanation. Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard Professor, argues that the reverse happens. When you are fat, you eat more and you do not exercise enough. Your fat cells will get hungry and this will lead to overeating.
High-Fat Diets Will Lead To Increased Metabolism
Studies involving human experiments indicate that people who followed a high fat diet had a faster metabolism. A diet low in fat spikes insulin, especially if you are eating processed foods that are made as “low/no fat” but contain other harmful “fat substitutes” such as non caloric artificial sweeteners to help it taste better. This slows the metabolism and leads to belly fat storage.
In a study, involving high-carb low-fat diets and low-carb high-fat diets, it showed that the low-carb high-fat diet did better overall. They found that eating a high-fat low-carb diet for only 8 weeks could reduce belly fat by 14%. Moreover, following such diet plans increases insulin sensitivity and improves control over blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The World Of Processed Foods
Besides being a source of energy, fats make your food more palatable. But things changed when the notion of fats being bad for health became common. As a way to make foods look and taste better, the food industry started processing different foods. This included the addition of sugars and other preservatives. The truth is that these processed foods are contributing to obesity and weight gain. This is not a good element when diabetes is involved.
A study involving high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) showed that Americans have increased their intake of high fructose corn syrup from 0 to about 60 pounds in a year per individual. In this period, cases of obesity have tripled and diabetes incidences are 7 times higher.
Fructose is a sugar quite different from the natural alternatives. The problem with fructose is that it is readily absorbed from your gut and makes way to your liver where it is turned into fat. In other words, unlike other sugars, more than 90% of fructose consumed is turned into fat and very little is turned into energy.
Another problem is that the people behind the HFCS market sell it by claiming that it is not harmful and it has been tested by ‘experts’. No matter how much they may claim that HFCS is similar to natural sugars, it’s simply not true. I encourage you to see who these “so called” studies were funded by! Do a little digging and tell me what you find!
BOTTOM LINE: You should avoid foods that have “high fructose corn syrup” in it. You probably have already started seeing some food manufacturers putting “contains no high fructose corn syrup” on their food labels. It’s because it’s not good for you!! Plain …and Simple!
The World Of Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified (GM) foods have been modified in labs for better growth and productivity. These foods have filled the groceries and markets in the US. The problem is that when compared to organic foods, the GMOs are not all that good. In fact, they have already been banned in over 26 countries! Yet, America is not one of them?!! To show the seriousness in this, most stores will label their foods non-GMO because many consumers are now looking for organic or whole foods that have not been processed. Most genetically modified foods are “packed” and this means they are “processed”. Take wheat for example…. excessive processing takes away the natural fiber beneficial for health and leaves only unhealthy starch.
Until further more comprehensive studies are done, it is important for people with diabetes to stay away from genetically modified foods, especially the processed ones that contain “refined carbs”. If you are working on a diabetes diet, you might want to consider leaving out such foods because they will only lead to an imbalance in normal blood sugars.
The Science Behind Low Carb High Fat Diet (LCHF)
This diet is all about reducing the carbohydrates in your diet and increasing the fats. The purpose of eating low carbs is to maintain normal blood sugars. Insulin is one of the major fat storing hormones in the body. What fuels the function of insulin is the sugar in your diet. Insulin turns sugar into fats. But, when you are on a low carbohydrate diet, you deprive insulin of its basic fuel and, in turn, it does not turn a lot of sugar into fat.
Another reason why you reportedly lose weight on a high-fat, low-carb diet is because once your body is deprived of its main source of energy, i.e. sugar. That is when it turns to body fat and protein for energy generation. That’s when you start to lose the already stored body fat.
One major reason that makes this diet a huge success is its effect on your hunger. Believe it or not, your hunger levels control your weight and your overall health. Research shows that following a high-fat, low-carb diet increases the amount of an appetite suppressing hormone, called cholecystokinin (CCK), and decreases the amount of appetite stimulating hormone, called ghrelin. This way, you feel less hungry and subsequently eat less.
Finally, this diet makes your whole body processes extremely efficiently. Your body becomes extremely efficient in using the sugar you give to it (i.e. the insulin sensitively increases). Moreover, the resting rate of your metabolism also increases.
A study that involved people with pre diabetic signs and high BMI (Body Mass Index) has shown the real results. On average, all the people in the study lost about 5% of their body weight in 6 weeks following the low-carb high-fat diet. This means that a 200 pounds person lost 10 pounds….while eating fat! Can you believe it!
The most important point here is the fact that the high fat diet did not cause any harm. Actually, the people in the study had lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. The good HDL cholesterol levels did not change. Generally, the size of HDL and LDL molecules increased. Larger molecules of LDL are less likely to result in plaques that clog the arteries and make you prone to complications like stroke and heart attack. Apparently, the intake of fats is not as bad as most experts tend to portray.
What You Need to Know about the Low Carb high Fat Diet (LCHF)
This diet requires the followers to prioritize foods high in unsaturated fats over high carb foods. These include eggs, fish and natural fat sources like nuts and seeds. They should also avoid starches and sugars or reduce them. This diet is pretty straightforward and you will not need to weigh or count calories all the time. You only need to stick to the principles and try to keep track of your %’s of fats relative to carbohydrates and protein. This can easily be done with an app like Diabetes Naturally App or manually with a log book and scale.
Studies have indicated that this diet has a higher success rate when you are losing weight and trying to control your blood sugar levels. This is beneficial for people living with diabetes as it helps them lose weight as well control their blood sugar levels, while not having to eat tasteless foods.
It is, however, important that people with diabetes talk to their doctors prior to starting this eating plan or any type of eating plan. This is because while the diet has proven beneficial for many, the foods might interfere with medications or some other variables. The only downside of doing this is that if your doctor is still aligned with the “old” way of thinking about fats and is not educated on new research, he/she will likely advise against it.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the diet will only work to your advantage if you follow the rules. You should stay away from beer, starch, fruits, and sugars found in fizzy drinks, baked foods, refined carbs, artificial sweetened foods, cereals, and sweets.
Extra Help From Diabetes Naturally App
If you are following a diabetes diet that involves low-carb and high-fat foods, it is important to know if you are on the right track. The Diabetes Naturally App has a feature where you can track your macro nutrients so you can plug in the foods and quantities you are eating and the nutritional database in the app will help you see if you are staying on track with the % of foods or calories from fats is being upheld. With this tracker, you will not end up eating too many carbs or proteins relative to your goals.
The truth is that all fats are not the same and it is important that you make good choices about the types of fats that you eat. We know that unsaturated fats are important, saturated fats intake is currently under debate, and if you do decide to eat them, choose saturated fats from organic, grass fed animals, and stay away from trans-fats all together.
You can do this by reading labels and keeping track of the foods you eat. The most important thing is to understand the good fats and knowing how to incorporate them into your diet. If you are overweight and have pre-diabetic signs, such as abnormal blood sugars, it is important to change your eating habits. If you are already living with diabetes, creating an eating plan with healthy foods is a good place to start
I know that this is a lot to take in….especially if this is the first time hearing that “eating fats is ok”. I know I was shocked when I first learned of this! After all those years studying nutrition and being told that fats are not good for you…..it took me a while to research and learn more about the real life benefits of eating fats…….Especially “the good fats” ..but even “the bad fats”!
Please comment below. Have you heard of the Low Carb-High Fat diet. Can you report your results? Or other diets that have worked for you. We would love to hear from you.