Does Eating Fat Make You Fat?

eating-fat

It seems like food manufacturers and brands are constantly trying to sell us ‘low fat’ and ‘fat free’ options of our favourite classics. So often we are offered choices like 50% less fat or 1/3rd less fat. With all these reduced fat options it’s easy to see how dietary fat has become something we all run from when looking to achieve a great body.

So is fat really the enemy? Absolutely not! Fat is an essential part of our diet and is fundamental to many important functions in our bodies. The fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K all require fat to be present in order to be digested, absorbed and transported around the body to be used in every cell! Fats are also vital for maintaining healthy hair and skin but also protect our internal organs. They are also used for energy and are the bodies long term fuel storage system.

Were all fats created equal? We often hear the term ‘good fats’ and ‘bad fats’ these are simple terms given to a group of fats known as unsaturated or ‘good’ fats and saturated or ‘bad’ fats. All fats are molecules made of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, the type of fat depends on its arrangement of these atoms. Saturated fats are predominantly from animal sources such as butter, cheese and the fat found in processed meat. Most are solid at room temperature. The reason they are considered ‘bad’ is because they raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels – this is the stuff that sticks to the insides of our arteries and puts us at a higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks! Unsaturated fats (Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated and Omega 3’s & 9’s all fall into this category) are predominantly from plant sources such as avocado, nuts and olive oil. But also found in oily fish such as salmon, most are liquid at room temperature. These types of fats are considered ‘good’ because they raise healthy HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol does almost the exact reverse of LDL and decreases the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol, lowering our risk of harmful heart disease and heart attacks.

So what happens when we eat different types of fat?

The fats from the food we have eaten will be digested in the gut. The process begins by the liver producing bile which breaks down the enzymes into fat molecules called chylomicrons. These chylomicrons then enter the blood stream where they are used by our cells in the form of fatty acids, some is taken up by the muscles as fuel, the rest is laid down as adipose tissue (better known to us as body fat!) This is the body’s energy reserve however it is all too often not required! The cholesterol from the food we ate mostly remains in the chylomicrons where it is taken back to the liver where depending on the food we have eaten is formed into LDL or HDL cholesterol (amongst many other things!)

Let’s imagine you just took a huge bite out of a hamburger topped with cheese with more than its fair share of full fat mayonnaise (for the purpose of this exercise we are going to ignore the other macro nutrients for now). The fats found in the burger, cheese and mayonnaise predominantly are saturated fats so will promote LDL cholesterol formation.

Let’s imagine you had just read this article so went for a chicken breast salad with avocado, olive oil dressing topped with pine nuts (how very virtuous of you) – all of these fat sources are unsaturated so will promote HDL cholesterol formation.

Each gram of fat yields 9kcal so is calorie dense, however a healthy diet should see 30% of daily calories coming from unsaturated forms of fat. Even more if your goal is to gain weight and only very slightly less if your goal is to lose weight. We should not be afraid to include fat in our diet whatever our goal. Just be sure to choose a variety of unsaturated fats and keep saturated fats to a minimum.

Our liquid whole egg is another a great way of increasing natural healthy fats into you’re diet, not to mention extremely delicious. You can find lots of recipes using our whole egg here.

 


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