Thursday, July 31

Good vs. Bad: Can Fat Help You Lose Weight and Stay Healthy?

We hear that all of the time: Good Fats vs. Bad Fats. How do we know what is what? Isn't all fat bad, and doesn't fat make us fat?

Not at all! If anything, fats are needed for a healthy, lean body. We're from an era of counting calories, and non-fat which is totally absurd. Cutting out fats completely is one of the worst things that a person can do to themselves. It affects the brain, eyes, skin, hair, nails, and even makes the body gain weight faster. You heard me; if we do not supply our bodies with enough healthy fat the metabolism will slow down and start conserving anything that it can. Thus, making even people that have healthy clean diets gain weight if they cut out fats completely. I remember hearing a story about a professional female fitness model that did this. She went on a raw food diet to get lean, but cut out all of the fats, and gained more weight that way than she did before. It's not about deprivation. Our brains enjoy fats for a reason, because they are vital. We don't need too much, because they're so calorie heavy, but we do need some.

Okay, now that we know that fats can be good, which ones do we eat and which ones do we avoid?

The Bad Fats

Processed Meat - Notice the word processed? Yes, this is the big difference between health and disease. The more a food is processed, the more that it causes our bodies harm. Animal fats are not an ideal source of fat and are hard to disgust. It usually clogs and constipates. None of our closest primate relatives kill and eat meat. Insects are the only animal protein, and equates to 5% of their diet. Humans only started eating meat because they had to when they started to migrate to other climates away from the plant food sources of East Africa and the Middle East. Our bodies haven't evolved that much, and we don't tolerate meat very well at all. Would you kill and eat your meat raw? No, it's not appealing to us for a reason.

Dairy - This is another thing that clogs arteries and pores. It's one of the leading causes of acne for those that have it, but most don't know or are not willing to change. Again, we're the only species that drinks another species' breast milk, and even as adults. This again relates to the fact that we moved away from our beloved fruit trees under the sun into cold, dark places. Humans needed a ways to get vitamin D back into their diets because they now lived in an overcast environment. So they started to milk livestock. But again, the more processed the food, the worst it is. It's better to drink fresh raw whole milk for example over pasteurized skim milk because of how denatured it is. Overall though, dairy is not a good choice, and there's no reason to eat it expect for pure pleasure. That's only because we Westerns were raised on it. Try camel or water buffalo milk and see if you like it. Probably not! It's going to be weird.

Processed Oils - The closer that we can get to the source the better, so many cooking oils on the market are just completely harmful. This is also why fried food is so taxing on the body as well. The processing method for industrial vegetable oils involves factories and many chemicals. Hexane is common, and is used to extract oils from the seeds and vegetables. It's a solvent, and a cleaning agent that probably ends up in the food as well. Just inhaling hexane on the job can cause central nervous system effects, including dizziness, slight nausea, headaches, numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, and blurred vision. The other issues are that we're isolating just a concentrated part of the plant instead of consuming it as a whole, and then changing it chemically through cooking as well. There's only one oil that can withstand this, and it's listed below. So all of the other oils become rancid when heated and extremely difficult for our bodies to expel.

Shortening - A product only used in really bad foods anyway. Shortening is full of processed trans fats that raise lipoproteins in the bloodstream. This can contribute to blockages in the blood vessels which increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease. Do not mess with trans fats! They're uncommon in nature, and our bodies just don't know how to deal with them properly.

Processed Sweets - White sugar and synthetic chemical sweeteners are a sure way to gain weight. They get us fat fast, and that's why I put them on the list. Though they contain very low amounts of, or no, fat, they're converted into fat by the liver and stored by the body quickly around the midsection, butt, thighs, and breasts. Unfortunately, once these areas are full of adipose tissue, the fatty acids begin to affect organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. Thus, making them fat as well. The reason this happens so quickly with processed sugar is because it's released and broken down fast by the liver and any excess is stored on the body for later (that's why it's also important not to overeat as well). This doesn't happen though when the whole plant (like a fruit) is consumed because of the fiber and other vitamins in it. It takes much longer for the sugars to be turned into fat, the liver is not overburdened, we become full on less food, and everything goes smoothly. Thus feeling happy, healthy, and energized.

So now that we know all of this, let's move on. Take a look at the proper way to give the body the fat that it needs and craves.

The Good Fats

Fruits - Avocados being the poster child, which contain an average of 35g of beautiful fat per fruit. This is what we want, but still not in excessive amounts. That's why most high-fat fruits are harder to reach/open/peel, or have short natural seasons. This is nature's way of saying, "Only take a little because they're still vital." Fruit fats lubricate our tissues and joints. They nourish and moisturize our hair, skin, and nails. They improve our cognitive brain function, and help with maintaining our memories. I don't know about you, but my memories are precious, and I would love to keep them for as long as I can. Eating this type of healthy fat also aids in easy weight loss. The pounds will just melt away, because the cells of the body are being properly nourished and there won't be a reason for it to store the fat for the future. It's that simple.

Coconuts - The reason that I listed this separately is because it's in a class of its own. Is it a fruit, a nut, or a seed? Well, all of the above really, and it's an amazing clean source of quality fat. Coconut meat, milk, and oil are all a wonderful source of fat only if it is straight from the source. Raw virgin coconut oil, which is usually de-husked, grated, and cold pressed, is the only oil that doesn't degrade when heated because the fatty acids in it are very saturated. It even boosts the metabolism and increases the feeling of fullness compared to other fats. It by far is my favorite oil, and I use it the most.

Raw Oils - Olive, hemp, flaxseed, and sesame oils are all good choices. That still means no cooking though, because these oils are not stable when heated. They'll completely degrade and go rancid. They can only be used raw for dressings/recipes, and in very small amounts because they're so highly concentrated. Only two tablespoons of oil per day in general is a good rule.

Seeds - All raw (not roasted or toasted: That means they're dead and processed) seeds are amazing sources of fat. Some of my favorites are sunflower, pumpkin, chia, hemp, flax, and sesame. Typically a quarter cup is a good serving for the entire day. Seeds normally are better than nuts because they're easier to digest, and are also full of good nutrients like omega-3s, iron, and protein. Although, it's important to note that there are a lot of omega-6s in seeds as well, and we don't need too much of them. That's why it's best not to eat too many, and just stick with the seeds that are naturally in fruits anyway. They're soft, hydrated, and easy to digest already. Some of the best seeds to eat in fruits are from citrus, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates, and watermelon.

Nuts - Like seeds, raw nuts (this includes raw nut butters) are fantastic too, just in moderation. They're a bit harder for the body to digest than seeds, and are known to cause tooth decay. So 5-7 nuts is a good serving size for one sitting. Some of my favorites are almonds (these are very hard to find truly raw in the US), walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts. One thing to note is that this doesn't include peanuts. Peanuts are legumes, are unfortunately a really dirty crop, and highly susceptible to contaminants. If you can get them fresh, raw, and organic though, go for it!

I hope that this was helpful to all of those out there that might have been curious. Fats, 
at least the good ones, should be enjoyed and consumed regularly. So don't be afraid, 
and shed that fear. You might even become happier and healthier because of it.

♡ Claudia