Saturday, August 10, 2013

Myths I Used To Believe: Fat is Bad

Hopefully over the next few weeks I am going to reveal some things that I used to believe to be true but have now changed my way of thinking thanks to a little bit of research and due diligence.  I am calling this mini series of blog posts, "Myths I Used To Believe." 

 I used to live at 235 S. Overweight Street in the land of yo-yo dieting where I bounced from one "diet trick" to another and had an assortment of clothing sizes ranging from 12-20 which I could never get rid of because who knew what size I would be next year.  Through this process that lasted about 15 years (started when I was in high school) I picked up many habits and thought I was pretty much an "expert" on what to eat.  I ate low fat margarine, diet coke or other soda, low fat cookies, lots of boring salads (I was a picky salad eater back then and I resented them), fat free bologna sandwiches on 45 cal Sara Lee bread, 2% or fat free cheese, skim milk, fat free salad dressings, 100 calorie snack packs, some fruits and veggies, 94% fat free microwave popcorn, fat free chips, fat free pudding and jello, and the list goes on and on but you get the picture.  Now I'm not saying that ALL of this stuff was bad but do you see a pattern?  Low fat, low calorie....  We have been programmed to believe that fat is bad.  Even when I was in Weight Watchers and they told me to eat 2 tsp of "healthy oil" a day, I rarely did.  I was afraid the fat would add up and how could wasting points on olive oil actually help me??

When our family made the switch to natural, real food only back in January of this year, I was amazed at how my final pounds to goal melted off without much effort.  Let me be clear, I was no longer eating ANYTHING labeled "low fat" or "fat free".  I traded butter for margarine, homemade bread for the low calorie stuff, natural turkey breast for my bologna, air popped corn with melted butter and sea salt for the microwave cardboard, homemade FULL FAT dressings for the fat free versions, heavy cream or half and half instead of fat free coffeemate, and TONS of fruits and veggies with meals and as snacks instead of processed "diet" foods.  The question was posed to me, "How is that better for you to eat all the fat?"  I really did not know but I was sure it had more to do with the ingredients than the fat content.  After some research, and my surprising weight loss results, I came to these conclusions.

Not All Fat is Created Equal

Trans fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat...  It's like another language.  What does it mean?  I had to find out.  Generally speaking, the first two are bad and the former are good.  Well according to the Mayo Clinic.  But that alone does not tell me much.  Here is what each type is and where it's found in laymen's terms:

Trans Fat: mostly chemically made - BAD for you.  Raises bad cholesterol (LDL), lowers good cholesterol (HDL) and may increase chances of heart disease and stroke.  It is found in most processed foods, fried foods, and fast food.

Saturated Fat: Generally these are the fats that are solid at room temperature and turn to liquid with heat.  This includes butter, lard, coconut oil, and fat found in meat.  Good or Bad?  For decades we've been told BAD, BAD, VERY BAD.  But not ALL saturated fat is bad. We'll get to that.

Monounsaturated Fat:  Liquid at room temperature and found in lots of natural foods such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil.  GOOD for you. Omega 9 fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated Fat:  Also Liquid at room temperature and found in lots of natural foods such as fish oil, seafood, flax seeds, safflower and sunflower oils.  GOOD for you.  Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

I refer to GOOD and BAD fats based on how they effect our bodies.  Bad fats increase bad cholesterol and lead to heart disease and stroke.  Good fats improve cholesterol levels, reduce risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, promote cell development and the immune system, and can improve vitamin absorption.

Saturated Fats Are NOT Bad After all

For decades saturated fats were touted as public enemy number 1.  The claim was that all saturated fats increase bad cholesterol and therefore the risk of heart disease and stroke.  In 2010 a new study came out that floored many scientists and nutritionists alike.  The study, found in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, can be found HERE.  This study was conducted over 23 years and included almost 350,000 people, the largest study ever done on Saturated fat.  The results were as follows:
...there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease inclusive of stroke) or CVD (cardiovascular disease).
Butter is Not the Enemy

Brace yourselves....  Butter is actually a HEALTH FOOD!  What???  In fact, there are many saturated fats that have health benefits.  For instance, did you know breast milk is 54% saturated fat?  And it's the most healthy, nutritious thing you can possibly feed your newborn baby.  Other natural saturated fats that have great health benefits are coconut oil, dark chocolate, and yes, butter!

Organic butter made from grass fed cows milk contains many micronutrients including CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which has been known to aid in weight loss. In fact, I used to take a CLA supplement to try to help me lose weight. Who knew I could just use REAL butter instead? Of course I'm not suggesting to eat sticks of butter a day, but there's no reason to substitute this golden gem. I was STUNNED by all of the nutrients that are packed in this "forbidden" food. THIS article is great at explaining all the health benefits of eating real butter.

So back to the question, "How did you lose weight and eat such fattening foods?"  They weren't as bad as we thought after all.  The real weight loss was in cutting out the processed foods.  The fake food that was full of sugar and chemicals.  So there you have it.  Now go enjoy a piece of whole wheat toast... with some real butter!!


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