Eat fat, be slim
Way back in the 80s and 90s, I had my own small catering business in London, and one brick wall I would come up against SO often was that the food I prepared for my clients must be ”healthy and very low fat”. I would have this directive levelled at me wherever I went, from directors’ dining rooms to private dinner parties, even weddings and birthday celebrations. Fat was vilified and blamed for many ills and many excess millimetres around a waistline - it was high in calories, bad for the heart and the biggest culprit in weight gain. But oh how things have changed! And rightly so because more recent scientific research has confirmed that fat is an important macronutrient and a vital building block for the body. It does of course have to be the right kind of fat.
So let’s look at what the results of banishing fat from our diets can be:-
· Brittle nails and dry thinning hair
· Dry, thin skin which can progress to being itchy and scaly – I know from experience that if I do not eat my daily snack of half a cup of mixed nuts and seeds, my lips will start chapping within two days
· Cravings, particularly for sugar
· Insomnia and poor sleep
· Emotional disorders like mood swings and depression
· Adrenal exhaustion as the body thinks there is a famine coming and keeps pumping out adrenaline and cortisol to get us into survival mode
· Inability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K
· Stiff, aching joints
· And basic malnutrition
And the MOST important consequences for the sake of this discussion are that not eating the right fats leads to
· Fat around the middle – yes! From not eating enough fat!
· And a generally flabby body
How come?! Fat’s most crucial role in effective weight management is that it stimulates the metabolism and fat-burning processes, keeping us slim and bursting with energy.
The main reason why we put on weight is the blood sugar roller coaster which I talked about in this post a couple of weeks ago. I am harping on about it yet again, because it is sugar in all its countless forms which is the culprit in excess weight, and NOT fat.
The most important thing to understand about the roller coaster is that poor blood sugar balance means too much glucose in the blood which then gets stored away as fat for the body to use when the next famine hits. Eating healthy fat actually stabilises blood sugar, thereby reducing fat storage caused by an excess of insulin in the blood stream, and eating plenty of the right fats will slim you down and keep you that way by boosting your metabolism and encouraging you to burn fat.
What are the best sources of healthy fats?
· Avocadoes - half an avocado with olive oil and lemon juice makes a perfect snack, and adding the other half to your morning smoothie will sustain you and keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the morning
· Nuts, like almonds, walnuts, brazils, cashews, pecans (avoid peanuts, they are a legume, not a nut)
· Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, hemp
· Oily fish, particularly sardines, mackerel, herring and wild salmon which are rich in essential fatty acids or Omega-3s
· Extra virgin olive oil is powerfully anti-inflammatory but do not heat it, use it in salads and dressings, or drizzle it over cooked food once it has been removed from the heat. Always refrigerate
· Flaxseed or linseed oil is an excellent source of Omega-3s and can work wonders for your skin and joints. Unlike fish oil, the body has to convert it into the Omega-3s but it is infinitely more palatable! Always refrigerate and never heat
· Raw extra virgin coconut oil is perfect for cooking as it is highly stable and can be safely heated. It is a saturated fat but it is made up of fatty acids known as medium chain triglycerides which the body can use for energy
· And very importantly, avoid all refined oils, those pale yellow ones in plastic bottles which line supermarket shelves - they are dietary terrorists!
Just a reminder to join my free Facebook group, Let’s Age Dynamically. It is a private, safe environment for all of us, men and women, well into MidLife&Beyond where we can talk about any health challenges which are facing us as we grow older and learn to age dynamically and by design, rather than passively and by default. I look forward to seeing you there.