This month, Dr. Sarah is suggesting ‘Just One Thing’ you might find surprising. That’s right! Eating fat can help you lose weight, so long as it’s the good stuff. (I can’t help it, I love the irony. It’s January!) Unfortunately, too many take a pass on fat altogether, which can actually backfire. Once Dr. Sarah explained, it was hard to argue against more avocado! Besides, adding more fat has resulted in a bunch of benefits for me personally, including fewer headaches. So, find yourself some good fat and read more about what Dr. Sarah has to say…
With New Year’s resolutions in full swing many of us are being more mindful about which morsels of food should enter our mouths. Weight-loss seekers in particular often see fat as an enemy to be avoided, and our grocery stores are littered with a litany of fat-free products for our choosing.
The problem is that eating less fat has actually made us fatter! In the 1960’s fats and oils made up about 45% of our calories, as compared to 33% today. Back then, the obesity rate was a mere 13% compared to 34% today. So, despite decades of nutrition authorities telling us to embrace a low-fat diet, I’m going to suggest Just One Thing to help you lose weight – eat fat!
There are 3 major types of dietary fats. Here’s the basic breakdown:
Unsaturated fats: Unsaturated fats are the “healthy fats” we so often hear about. They are found in foods including olives and olive oil, oily fish such as salmon, nuts and seeds, nut butters and avocado. Keep in mind however, not all unsaturated fats are beneficial since many vegetable oils are highly processed and can contribute to inflammation and weight gain. (Good to know! -ed.)
Saturated fats: Saturated fats are easy to spot because they’re typically solid at room temperature (think butter or bacon fat). Consuming too many of the less healthy saturated fats (i.e. animal fats) may contribute to poor health. Interestingly, despite being a saturated fat, coconut oil has been shown to help with weight loss and has many health benefits.
Trans fats: These are by far the unhealthiest fats which are found in most processed foods including chips, crackers, and baked goods. They should be completely eliminated from your diet. (Yup. At least most of the time anyway! – ed.)
Here’s a brief list of reasons to include some healthy fats with every meal:
- Fills you up for longer (feel full = eat less!)
- Tastes good
- Helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A,D,E and K)
- Supports hormonal health (like thyroid hormone which controls your metabolism)
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduces inflammation which can contribute to weight gain
Knowing which fats and oils to choose can be confusing. (So true!- ed.) Things get even more complicated because some oils are great for cooking while others are best eaten raw. Here’s a quick go-to guide:
- Oils to Eat Raw: (e.g. salad dressing): olive, flaxseed, walnut
- Oil for Cooking: butter, coconut, sesame, safflower
- Note: Olive oil should only be used raw, but not for cooking! When heated, olive oil produces “free-radicals” which cause damage in the body. (Oops. This I did not know! – ed.)
- Eat 2 Tbsp healthy oils per day (e.g. olive, coconut, walnut, flaxseed)
- Have 2 servings of wild-caught oily fish per week (including salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines)
- Eat whole foods that naturally contain healthy fats versus processed foods that have been fortified. For example, choose wild-caught salmon instead of yogurt with added omega-3 fats.
- Avoid-low fat products (they’re often higher in sugar)
- Choose butter (a real food) versus margarine (a pseudo-food made with processed vegetable oils)
- Reduce your intake of refined vegetable oils (including soy, peanut, corn, canola)
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Dr. Sarah Vadeboncoeur is a Naturopathic Doctor with a passion for nutrition, health and natural medicine. Sarah enjoys educating and empowering individuals to become active participants in their journey to healthier living. She works with patients to help them make gradual lifestyle changes that contribute to a lifetime of health and well-being, and is currently accepting new patients at the Ottawa Integrative Health Centre. Sarah strives to lead by example by living a balanced life that includes healthful cooking, reading, running, and yoga. Learn more about Sarah by visiting www.truehealthND.com.