There has and continues to be a lot of debate about the best ways to lose weight. Regular readers know that I think that is a poor term – what we want is to drop fat!!
Regardless – if you talk to a Dietician or Nutritionist – they say it is all in the food & calories or else in eliminating particular foods or eating special ones. Doctors tend to say eat less and exercise more. Personal Trainers will emphasise exercise.
One thing that they will all tell you is to eat less dietary fat, that fat in your diet is the enemy and you should eliminate it.
More & more research is coming to light that shows that dietary fat is in fact beneficial to your metabolism, your nutrient partitioning and your health. The real message that we should be getting is that most fats are good.
The Chairman of of the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr Walter Willett, said back in 2000 that ” the relationship of fat intake to health is one of the areas that we have examined in detail over the last 20 years in our 2 cohort studies: The Nurses Health Study & the Health Professionals Follow Up Study. We found virtually no relationship between the percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome.” (Bold & Italics mine)
So what you say – that was 11 years ago… but wait a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition saw researchers reporting on the results of a recent study looked at the relationship of dietary fat and cancer risk using data taken from 4 separate studies in Great Britain.
They looked at the data from 657 breast cancer cases in pre and post menopausal women and compared this data to 1911 control subjects. Essentially they crossed tracked the results with the incidence of breat cancer, with a specific interest in this and the intake of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturtated fats.
They were unable to find any link.
Yep none. In fact what they did find was that those with a higher dietary fat intake actually enjoyed a slight protective effect. In fact the highest fat intake when compared to the lowest has a 10% reduction in the liklihood of breast cancer.
Now before you go off and start eating deep fried foods etc there are a couple of things for you to put into perspective:
Let’s be very clear – your risk of various cancers (not to mention other chronic health ailments) rises in line with your body fat – this is an identified and recognised medical fact.
Carrying extra body fat, especially a lot of extra body fat is a definite risk factor for many cancer types. Fat cells pump out hormones and inflammatory substances which can increase the risk of cancer (&diabetes & heart disease &…)
The fat on your plate, the marbling in your steak – are not the same as the fat on your belly or on your hips.
You don’t get fat from eating fat. Fat does not magically go from your plate through your digestive system & end up on your waist. You get fat from eating more calories than your body needs for your level of activity.
The percentage of fat in the excess food in your diet does not matter at all when it comes to putting on fat.
Likewise if you are lean & active – if you are eating calories in line with what your body needs for fuel & to stay lean, then the percentage of those calories that come from fat doesn’t matter either.
The fact is that dietary fat intake has little to no effect on insulin and doesn’t stimulate the fat storing hormones in the same way that an identical number of extra calories from sugar, or cereals or bread or pastries will.
There is one fat, and one fat only to be vigilant about: Trans fats. These, along with high fructose corn syrup are man made disasters and responsible for more health issues than any thing else we have in our diets.
If the fat on your plate has been excessively heated, or does not come from a whole food source, then don’t eat it.
So do something about the fat on your belly & hips – but don’t lose too much sleep about the fat on your plate or in your diet (so long as it is not transfats!!) We know that in order to lose fat you have to increase your metabolism through regular challenging exercise, use foods in a strategic way to support a faster metabolism and to manipulate your hormones (Leptin, Ghrelin etc) and generally avoid nutrient sparse but energy dense processed foods.
In a nut shell – you can’t out train a poor diet. But you can lose fat quicker and become healthier by combining these three things:
- Food choice
- The intelligent use of 1 & 2 to manipulate your hormones
In reality, the key to losing body fat is to adopt a strategic, holistic approach that emphasises an intelligent diet, good challenging exercise and lots of rest.
The rules are simple – eat as much nutrient dense, unprocessed, as-close-to-whole-foods as possible, line up your calorie intake with your energy needs, exercise often & in a challenging fashion, move more, sit less and get a full night’s sleep.
Not only will you be healthier anbd happier but you’ll stop worrying about bogeymen like dietary fat.
See you next week.