FAT doesn’t make you FAT

In the 1980s we were all told that to keep our heart healthy and to loose weight we need to reduce our fat intake. Everyone with a pot belly had to cut back on the bacon and fry ups to be able to avoid a heart attack and all health professionals were promoting low fat diets to keep our waist trim.

So why do we still have such large obesity rates?

Did they lie to us?

I wouldn’t go that far but I believe back then there was not enough research done to back the theory of weight loss through low-fat diet. What they assumed is that fat contains the highest calories (9kcal per gram) out of all the macro nutrients and if it is cut out of the diet it will result in the biggest fat loss by creating the highest caloric deficit.

In the 1960s and 70s, scientists established a link between high blood cholesterol levels and heart disease. And guess what? One of the most important determinants of blood cholesterol level is fat in the diet – not total fat, but specific types of fat. Some types of fat are clearly good for cholesterol levels and others are clearly bad. But instead of explaining to us what are good fats and bad fats they gave a bad name to all fats.

Time went by, people followed the advice they were given and ate their low fat diet.

Supermarkets were more than happy to jump on the band-wagon and start to produce low-fat products and offer ‘healthy cereals’ for breakfast as we said goodbye to the fry-ups. But the number of overweight people just grew.

All the time whilst we tried our hardest to stay slim and healthy we have been doing the exact opposite.

Today adult obesity levels in the UK are soaring with 75% of the population overweight and 22% obese. Over 30,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity in England alone.

Isn’t it funny that people in countries that haven’t been reached by our western culture manage to maintain their natural weight and stay disease free?!

Do they stay away from fats too?

Not exactly.

The diet of the people of Okinawa, who have the longest lifespan on the planet, contains high amounts of fat (from fish and soy) and carbohydrates (from vegetables and rice). Eskimos live on very high-fat foods, but Eskimos have low incidences of heart disease and arthritis.

Indeed, every society that has adopted western dietary habits has suffered major increases in heart attacks and strokes. People from diet-healthy societies who come here and adopt our ways of eating get all of our diseases.

But before you start to panic you should know that there is still hope and you won’t need to move to Alaska either!

We just have to take a look what is wrong with the foods we eat most of the time and where these foods come from.

Generally there are 2 types of fat: saturated fat and unsaturated fat.

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the two unsaturated fats. They’re found mainly in many fish, nuts, seeds and oils from plants. Some examples of foods that contain these fats include salmon, trout, herring, avocados, olives, walnuts and liquid vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, canola, olive and sunflower. Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help lower your blood cholesterol level. They are well known as being good fats.

Saturated fat is found in all dairy, meats, animal fats and coconut oil.

Saturated fats used to and in fact still do have a very bad reputation. Medical professionals suggested that these fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LHL cholesterol that are the main cause of heart disease.

Research has since shown this is not true at all. In a Stanford University study that made recent headlines, women on a high fat-low carbohydrate diet ended up with the healthiest cholesterol levels and the best blood pressure readings, compared to those on other diets, notably the famous Ornish low-fat diet.

In addition, another recent Harvard University study found that people who had the highest saturated fat intake also had the least plaque buildup on their artery walls. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described the findings as an “American Paradox.”

If we have a look back at medical history we can find that Type-2 diabetes did not exist 100 years ago, when the human diet was very rich in saturated fats; it appeared when trans-fats entered our diet. So what is trans-fat?

Trans-fat is the common name for a type of unsaturated fat industrially created by partially hydrogenating plant oils. These fats have a higher melting point making them attractive for baking, and extending their shelf-life.

Unlike other dietary fats, trans-fats are neither required nor beneficial for health.

As early as 1975 a group of scientists led by Mr Leo Thomas at what is now the University of Glamorgan in South Wales suspected that eating partially hydrogenated fats had a connection with death from coronary heart disease. The suspected link between the consumption of trans-fats and this illness was subsequently investigated at the Harvard School of Public Health in the US.

Here are some of the products that you find trans-fat in: margarine, ready meals, soups and pot noodles, cakes, candies, baked goods, confectionery, frozen food, pies, waffles, pizzas,fish fingers, breakfast cereals, fast food, fries, fried chicken, kebab, takeaway, crisps, crackers and salad dressings.

Do you notice that these foods are all processed?

Processed food doesn’t just contain trans-fat but most of the time is high in sugar, salt and processed wheat products too. These types of foods are usually preserved, have added colourings and are cheap to buy.

There are processed foods ads everywhere, what these ads forget to tell you is that these foods could cause weight gain, mood swings, heart disease, diabetes and, in some severe cases, even cancer.

So what can you do to avoid processed food?

At Lawrence & Rago Personal Training we get our clients to stick to this simple rule:

If it wasn’t around 10,000 years ago don’t eat it!

Try to consume food that is in its original form like fish, poultry, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and healthy grains like brown rice and quinoa.

You don’t see many Jaffa cake trees, or farmers out harvesting their Cheerios field do you?

If you follow this simple rule you will start to feel amazing pretty soon and weight will start to drop off. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit light headed for the first few days of your new transformation. It’s just that our bodies get so clogged up with the chemicals we have been putting in them that it takes some time for the body to adjust. Once your body is free of all those nasties you will notice a massive change not just in your body but how you will feel. Your bloating, fatigue and mood swings will disappear and you’ll end up with a healthy, happy and slim you.

Some of our clients first reactions are that keeping to these foods will make their diet very boring. It’s the exact opposite. Once your body releases the harmful chemicals that you have been feeding it, you will have a better sense of taste and good food will taste amazing!

Many people don’t enjoy spending time in the kitchen but learning new recipes and forming new healthy habits can be satisfying and fun.

When I started to train my client Sam about 2 years ago she was in great shape and had good fitness levels. She only wanted to loose the last bit of fat around her waist area. I told her about the principles we use at Lawrenece & Rago and she was very sceptical. She didn’t see the problem with her calorie free diet soda and low-fat ready meals. I asked her to forget about the calories and go for whole foods.

Sam’s diet used to be: cornflakes in the morning, a sandwich for lunch and a low-fat ready meal for dinner. As a snack she had a ‘lite’ cereal bar and diet soda. Basically one big processed chemical cocktail!

After following my advice she started to see changes not just in her moods but her body too. Her afternoon sugar cravings were gone and she had far more energy than before. She didn’t get bloated after meals anymore and within a month she lost a dress size.

I can’t tell you how glad she was that she got over her scepticism and made the changes I recommended. She has a new passion for good food and continues to enjoy her new slimmer, healthier body.

Try it out for yourself the only thing you’ve got to loose is your old body!

Copyright (c) 2007 Judit Rago