There's been a trend in nutrition over the last several years that has placed emphasis back on including fats in the diet, the opposite of recommendations of the 80's and 90's that toted a low fat diet for weight loss and health. The Keto Diet has also been surging lately, toting its healing properties and weight loss tricks.
While fats are not the primary fuel source (although they can be...), they are a "backup" of sorts. When your body is out of carbohydrates to use for energy, it turns to burning stored fat(s).
Fats work a little differently in our bodies than the other macronutrients (carbs and protein). Fats are essential for many of the bodies natural processes and without them, our bodies malfunction.
Generally, we want to stick to monosaturated, polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids and some saturated fats while avoiding trans fat.
Why Do You Need Fat?
Fats are essential for regulating hormone production: Without healthy fats, your hormones may go haywire. Not consuming enough dietary fat can play a substantial role in amenorrhea, or the absence a menstrual cycle for women. Men aren't safe either: they may see lower testerone. "The majority of saturated fats are less desirable because they promote inflammation." However, she says, "We need some saturated fat in our diet. The body's production of steroid hormones, including sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, requires saturated fat," said Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, MD, in an article for Self Magazine.
Fats can also help your metabolism. Dietary fats assist in the regulation of thyroid hormones which are significant for many things, metabolism being one of them. An underperforming thyroid will lead to a slower metabolism, and generally weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, becoming extra temperature sensitive and other things. Fats can also help to reduce insulin resistance or at least, help it by not spiking your blood sugar in the same way carbs do. In a study done in 2016, " [researchers] stated their findings suggest that “consuming more unsaturated fats in place of either carbohydrates or saturated fats will help improve blood glucose control. Sole emphasis on lowering consumption of carbohydrates or saturated fats would not be optimal" (Endocrinology Network). Research has also shown that timing of fats and not necessarily the amounts can also help to improve metabolism.
They will make you less hungry. Ever wonder why an actual serving of nuts is very small? Fats are a bit "denser" at 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 which is also why they are very satiating. You'll notice that when you eat a lot of foods rich in fat, such as nuts or full fat dairy, you feel fuller for longer than if you ate the non-fat counterpart. As mentioned earlier, fats also don't cause the same blood sugar response as carbohydrates. By not consistently spiking the blood sugar, you'll notice less hunger swings and #hangry moments. Eating a diet that has enough fat will assist in reducing overeating by making you feel like you actually ate something.
They'll make your brain less foggy. Having trouble recalling information? Feel like your head is just not right but can't put a finger on it? "Neurological abnormalities such as problems concentrating, remembering or an overall lack of mental energy could be caused by an essential fatty acid deficiency," says Dr. Gerbstadt (SELF). While brain function may also be hindered by factors such as inflammation or other issues, inclusion of more healthy essential fatty acids may help to reduce the symptoms by decreasing that inflammation or reducing inflammatory foods.
What Fats Should You Eat?
Salmon and other fish, sardines, egg yolks, avocado, avocado oil, coconut, olives, nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, macademia..etc.), full fat dairy including cheese in moderation, chia seeds
Fats to Watch
Canola oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, fried foods, margarine Many contain omega-6's and carcinogenic properties when cooked at too high heat.
Including healthy fats into your diet can look a variety of different ways--whatever it is, ensure that your intake of fats and overall calories meets your goals. While some fats may be "healthy fats," eating too much will still cause weight gain and other potential problems.