Should You Avoid All Fats?

Copyright 2006 Marc David

You have no idea that avoiding all fats is serious mistake. All fats are not created equal.

In fact, if you were to avoid them entirely you’d not only slow down on losing weight (assuming that is your goal; you didn’t say) but you’d be in worse health! While it sounds confusing it’s not. Fats are a complex subject but I hope that in the next 2 minutes you’ll have a much better understanding of the importance in your diet.

Let’s talk fat!

There are two main kinds of fat:

1. Good fats (essential fat, essential fatty acid) 2. Bad fats (processing methods, hydrogenation, damaged good fats)

Four sources of good fats:

1. Green vegetables (but in very small amounts) 2. Seeds and nuts (combinations of flax, sunflower, sesame to get the correct mixtures of Omega-3 and Omega-6) 3. High fat, cold water fish such as sardines, salmon, trout, herring, and mackerel 4. Oils made with health in mind: pressed from organically grown seeds

You hear a lot about the bad fats and all the problems associated with them but you also need to know about the good fats and the benefits from them. The main concept you want to take away from this section is all fats are not created equal. You want to get more of the good fats from sources like fish, nuts and some oils (combinations are always the best thing). Eliminating all fats is actually unhealthy. A zero fat diet is not recommended. One health nutritional professional once said that clients who came to him boasting that they only ate 10-15 g of fat per day. But they were in the office because they were not losing any weight. A diet void of all fats is not good. You should not avoid all fats.

When unsaturated vegetable oils are manufactured into solid form, they turn into trans fats. Processing can damage natural fats and make them toxic. Hydrogenation, which is used to turn oils into margarine, shortening, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, produces trans fatty acids. Trans fats are found in hundreds of processed foods, usually to protect against spoiling and to enhance flavor. You should AVOID trans fats as much as possible (there are no health benefits here).

Truthfully, trans fats are even worse for the cardiovascular system then saturated fats. There are conservative estimates that 30,000 premature deaths from heart disease every year in the United States are linked to trans fats. Other studies show that trans fats drive up the body’s LDL, the bad cholesterol, even faster then saturated fats. High levels of cholesterol have been linked to heart disease and stroke.

You should have a diet that is moderate in saturated fats (a nice steak is okay every so often). But avoid them entirely? No. You’ll find some saturated fats in all fats including the essential fatty acids. The more saturated fats you eat the more essential fats you’ll need to eat to combat the effects. There’s no real reason to be obsessed about them but that’s not an excuse to eat more of them.

Most of the scientific community will still recommend a diet low to moderate in saturated fats. Diets high in fat, particularly saturated fat, may promote a variety of diseases. Therefore, saturated fats and trans fats are the only fats that you should strive to eliminate from your diet.

Interesting Fact:

* Bodybuilders can eat more saturated fats then a sedentary person because the body can burn saturated fats for energy.

What Are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)?

EFAs = Essential Fatty Acids are substances from fats that must be provided by foods because the body cannot make them, and yet must have them for health. EFAs exist in two families: omega-3 and omega-6.

According to the above definition of essential, there are only two essential fats (technically called essential fatty acids or EFAs). One is the omega 3 EFA, called alpha- linolenic acid. The other, the omega 6 EFA, is known as linoleic acid.

Certain fats are defined as ‘essential’ because:

1. The body cannot make them; 2. They are required for normal cell, tissue, gland, and organ function, for health, and for life; 3. They must be provided from outside the body, through food or supplements; 4. They can come only from fats (hence fat-free diets cannot supply them); 5. Their absence from the diet will eventually kill; 6. Deficiency results in progressive deterioration, can lead to death; 7. Return of essential fatty acids to a deficient diet reverses the symptoms of deficiency and results in a return to health.

Most people do not get enough EFA’s in their diets, especially those who restrict themselves to a very low fat (any fat) type of diet. It’s rare that anybody is truly clinically deficient but such diets as a very low fat diet are clearly not going to provide optimal EFA’s.

Various types of oil blends, fish, seeds and green vegetables contain essential fatty acids. These “good fats” have a ton of great benefits to them. Getting enough of the good fats daily in your diet will actually do wonders to help you burn fat. Many sources recommend combinations of EFAs because of the Omega-3 and Omega-6.

For example, if you were to only get your essential fats from something like Flaxseed oil, there’s some research to suggest it’s not as beneficial as you might think because exclusive use of flax oil can lead to Omega-6 deficiency within 2-8 months! Furthermore, using CLA in conjunction with this might lead to deficiency of Omega-6 even sooner then just using flax oil alone.

All this really means is using oil blends and getting EFAs from various sources will help you achieve optimum levels of BOTH Omega-3 and Omega-6 complexes. I would recommend you don’t use flax oils exclusively but combine them with other EFA sources to balance any deficiencies.

Two of the many benefits to an EFA complex are:

1- Increase the metabolic rate 2- Help burn fat

There are several other benefits but in essence, what this says is that getting 15-20% of your good fats in your diet daily will actually increase your metabolic rate resulting in more fat loss!

Re-read that! Getting the optimal amount of good fats a day (15-20% of total calories) will actual enhance the metabolic reactions and result in more fat burn off.