Like millions of other people, I bought into the low-fat craze of the 90’s and beyond. I consumed low or fat-free yogurts, cheeses, milks, and went out of my way to avoid fats in meats products and other foods. Oils, well, I used those sparingly too.
Carbs were all the rage for those of use eating low-fat, and we all thought that we were eating healthy. After-all, that is what we were told, continually. We bought it, hook, line and sinker. Sadly, we now know how wrong that information was1.
We also know now, that those highly processed (and therefore unhealthy) “fat-free” products had to use something in place of the fat that was removed, in order to have decent flavour. We also know that that added ingredient was usually sugar.
Eating high-carb is a really bad idea for weight management. This is especially true for someone like myself, who is hypothyroid, and has great difficulty keeping weight off because of that. Carbs are definitely not my friend, so I try to limit them to just veggies these days, except for the occasional treat meal.
The fibre found in veggies is helpful for so many reasons, including keeping your blood-insulin levels from spiking, and your weight from increasing. Going too low-carb can be unhealthy also though2, so check with your Nutritional Counsellor, or other well-read health practitioner before you hop on the band-wagon.
I have spent the past few months researching and learning about high-fat diets, such as the ketogenic diet. While taking my nutrition certification, we talked about fats in general, but only in terms of macro-nutrients and calories…good information, but perhaps a bit lacking in detail. That is why graduating from nutrition school is just the beginning of the learning curve, not the end.
Being that I have gallbladder issues, which also correlate to thyroid issues3&4, you have to understand my natural inclination to want to avoid fats. Can you blame me? If you have ever suffered from a gallbladder attack, you know how painful it is, and why you would want to avoid one at all costs.
If you have poor digestion, an under-functioning gallbladder, or no gallbladder, it is *imperative* that you eat foods and take supplements to encourage proper bile flow, so that your body detoxify, and, breakdown and absorb those healthy fats. See this article for more information on this topic.
In my research I have discovered a lot about fats and that not all fats are equal, or even ideal for the body. For instance, if you were to suddenly decide to adopt a high-fat diet by eating donuts, Ding-Dongs and Cheezies, well…you might be in for a rude awakening.
Unhealthy fats combined with carbs, especially “junk carbs” that contain lots of sugar, or break-down into sugar because of the carbs (like potato chips for example), are going to put weight on you in no time. What the body seems to thrive on, are high quality/super-nutritious fats; like coconut, avocado and macadamia nut oils, for example. Butter is touted as being healthy too, but I personally cannot tolerate any dairy, so I even avoid ghee. Many people who cannot tolerate butter can handle ghee however.
With all the (new?) research out there surrounding the health benefits of eating healthy fats, we realize that we have done ourselves a great disservice by avoiding these fats, and have caused ourselves to suffer from numerous health issues by eating low-fat, high carb. Just check out “The Fat Summit” or anything by Dr. Mark Hyman if you aren’t aware of the science behind this.
A word of caution for high-fat diets however; there are some that state that high-fat diets raise estrogen, so if you are already estrogen dominant, you need to research this and see if this way of eating is right for you. There is much more research indicating how healthy-fats can help to balance your hormones though5.
I won’t go into all the types of fat, etc., as there are plenty of credible online resources for this information. I will say a bit about grocery budgets though. Many people don’t realize why it is important to spend a few more dollars on high-quality fats, and even meats, which are free from hormones and anti-biotics.
You see, the toxins in all animals (and humans) are stored in the fat cells. So, that cheap regular ground beef you bought at the super-market is full of all the nasty things that cow ever ingested…heavy metals, medications, hormones, and so on5. Grass fed meats are more nutritious6 and typically lower in fat, which means less toxins. You can always top that meat with a delicious high-quality home-made sauce that is full of healthy fats. Click here for more on the benefits of GF meats.
I do need to mention EFA’s. There are essential fats that the body needs, known as essential fatty acids (EFA’s). You likely know these friends as “the omegas” – 3, 6 & 9. Omega 7 is the newer kid on the block7, and has many benefits as well. EFA’s are essential because your body needs them to function properly, and so does your brain. You can get them from food sources, but high-quality supplements can also provide them if you are not able to get them otherwise.
Cooking with oils is another important topic that I need to mention. There are a lot of oils that you should not be cooking with, especially canola oil (rapeseed). I do not believe that canola oil should be used in cooking, ever. Nor should margarine…is that even a food!? Stay as far away from partially hydrogenated oils like this as possible. See this if you are at all unclear on why these oils are bad for you.
One of the reasons why eating out in restaurants frequently is not good for you, is that most use cheap oils like canola and peanut to cook foods in. These become unstable and carcinogenic at high heat, and you are the one who pays in the end. Use oils like coconut, avocado, butter, ghee or sesame oils to lightly cook your foods with. If you don’t do dairy, Nutiva has a new “buttery-flavoured” coconut oil that has personally helped me to get that buttery taste in my foods. The “buttery flavor” is made from pure certified organic non-GMO plants; including sunflower, coconut and mint, so it is best for low to medium heat cooking.
I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to coconut MCT oil, the good quality stuff that contains C8 that is. I personally like Brain Octane by Dave Asprey’s company, as it is reasonably priced for the quality, and it mixes well on and in things. It is virtually tasteless, so it doesn’t interfere with the flavour of your food, and it also gives you a mental boost while increasing blood ketones at the same time. Sign me up!
There are lots of MCT oils on the market, but I like this brand because I feel that the quality is very high. Plus, I just plain dig Dave. Ok, I may have a bit of a bio-hackers crush on him actually. He and I are about the same age, come from similar (technology) backgrounds, and along our journeys have become interested in hacking our health to feel better and heal.
I have been tweaking my own health for awhile now, I just didn’t have a name for it until I found Dave’s work – it was like suddenly finding the long-lost friend I never knew I had. I hope to meet him in person one day so I can say thanks for all that he inspires in so many of us. Can you imagine being able to go to his BP labs? Très cool.
I have learned so much from Dave, and others like Dr. Mark Hyman, who are working to educate the world on the benefits of healthy fats. I know I still have a lot to learn however, and I will continue to experiment on myself in order to improve my own health. So, do your own research and see if adding more healthy fat into your diet is right for you. Have a glorious fat-filled day mes amis.