In the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was a huge push for fat-free diets and fat-free foods. The idea was that people were eating too much fat and it was causing them to gain weight. While this makes sense intuitively, as it turns out, it simply isn’t true.
In reality, fat isn’t the enemy for your nutrition. In fact, fat is actually an essential part of a healthy diet. While you don’t want to load up on trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and a lot of saturated fats every day, you may be surprised to find out that a diet that’s higher in good fats can help you lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Here are just a few of the many reasons you might want to reconsider your stance on fat for your daily nutrition.
Fats Help You Control Hunger
Foods that are high in omega-3 fats, unsaturated fats, and saturated fats from whole foods (like lean meat and eggs) tend to have lower glycemic indexes than foods that are low in fat but high in carbohydrates.
What does that mean? Basically, your body takes longer to digest and process foods with lower glycemic indexes than it does foods with higher glycemic indexes. Sugars and other simple carbohydrates are very easy for the body to digest, so they have higher glycemic indexes. This is why you get a rush of energy when you eat something sugary but then you crash a couple of hours later when your body has processed it and has no other fuel to burn.
When you eat foods that are rich in good fats, they take longer for your body to digest, and so you feel full for much longer than you would on a low-fat, high-carb diet.
Fats Give You a More Even Energy Source
For the same reason, fats allow you to maintain a more even energy level throughout the day than foods with higher glycemic indexes. When you include good fats in your lunch and cut down on sugars, you’ll notice that you don’t have that mid-afternoon crash where you feel like you need a nap or a huge cup of coffee. Instead, you’ll feel full longer – so you won’t be making a trip to the snack machine – and your body will burn the energy from the fats you ate more slowly and evenly, keeping your blood sugar levels steady with no dips or spikes.
Fats Fight Diabetes and Heart Disease
As we mentioned, because good fats have low glycemic indexes, they won’t spike your blood sugar. This is good for more than just keeping you from feeling like you’re on an energy rollercoaster throughout the day – it also helps fight insulin insensitivity. When your blood sugar spikes like that, your body responds by producing insulin. The more it has to do this, the more insulin production you’ll need to even out your blood sugar levels. This insulin insensitivity can lead to diabetes.
Furthermore, when manufacturers process foods that are naturally higher in fats to make “low-fat” or “fat-free” versions, they have to replace the fat with something – usually a filler of some kind. This filler is often something unhealthy and sugary, like high fructose corn syrup. This is why a lot of low-fat and fat-free diets are actually bad for your cardiovascular health.
Can you see now how fat really isn’t the enemy? A balanced diet consisting of proteins, good fats, and the right complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) will help you lose weight or maintain your current weight much better than any fat-free diet. If you care about good nutrition, keep fat in your diet.