If you’re like me, you grew up hearing the message that eating fat would make you fat. Low fat eating was the only way to go. We cooked out of the American Heart Association’s low fat cookbook, we ate Snackwells fat-free cookies, and butter might as well have been arsenic. Americans ate that way for decades. And guess what? As a nation, we got sicker and fatter.
Fat is an absolutely essential ingredient for life. Just some of the many roles our dietary fats play in our bodies include:
- Fats make up the membrane of every cell in our body. The health of that membrane is critical to every process every cell needs to do, whether it’s excreting toxins, taking in nutrients, or making a muscle contract.
- Fats are critical for the absorption of many of the vitamins we eat. Without fat, those vitamins (A, D, E and K, specifically) cannot be utilized and are just excreted after eating.
- Fats play a vital role in fighting inflammation and promoting healing.
- Fats are critical to the creation of hormones, including those all-important sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
- Fats make you feel satiated, make your food taste good, and allow you to eat less food and feel fuller, longer.
Our bodies are meant to run on fat, as it provides us with the best long-burning source of energy. Unfortunately, most of us are fueling our bodies with carbohydrates/sugars. (Note: carbs are anything that comes from a plant, which includes sugar and grains and fruits. Every carb we eat is eventually broken down into its simplest sugar form, glucose.)
Every time you eat carbohydrate-heavy foods, it sets off a cascade of hormones in your body, as the body tries to process all that glucose and store it away for use. The problem is, our bodies become so hyper-sensitive to the nonstop flood of sugar most of us are eating, that our hormones overreact and do too good of a job processing the glucose. As a result, our blood sugar levels plummet (you know that crash you feel an hour after you eat a giant plate of pasta? Yeah. That.), and we are left craving more sugar or stimulants such as caffeine to try to get our energy back up. Low-fat high-carb eating sets off a chain of events that can lead to hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and even type II diabetes. Our bodies can only handle so much sugar bombardment.
Beyond that blood sugar roller coaster though, the fact is our cells can only store away some of that processed glucose. Once our cellular and liver storage is full, but we continue eating more carbs, that processed glucose gets stored away as fat. There’s just nowhere else for it to go. Body fat. Belly fat. Fat. Sugar makes you fat.
When we eat meals that contain a good portion of fat, a few things happen. First, we feel full, happy, satisfied. We eat less. And we can go longer without wanting to eat again, because we’ve given our body long-burning fuel. Our cravings are reduced. Fat also slows the absorption of carbohydrates, so any sugars you have eaten will be much less likely to spike your blood sugar. And at the cellular level, we are building strong bodies, tissues, and cells.
Low-fat eating is a certain route to cravings, blood sugar issues, sleep disturbances, and even more severe disease. Give your body what it needs, and include some healthy fats every time you eat.