So I ran into my Dad and his wife at Costco awhile back. I saw him in the nut and snack aisle where he handed me a box of protein bars and asked if they were okay to eat (this is a common thing, being a Nutritionist). I didn't even glance at the back of the box before "no" flew out of my mouth. I quickly showed him the ingredient list and compared it to a neighbouring box of protein bars. The difference was obvious and in his cart went the better choice.
*Reminder Rachel - most people don't spend their days and nights reading all there is to know about nutrition and the body. All they have to go on is what they're bombarded with during commercials and sneaky marketing tactics"*
*Find a quick and easy answer*
Okay this is a valid question, and one that I get way more often than I would like. This question reminds me that there are still lingering side effects from the low fat craze that took place in the 90's (more on that later!). This mindset has got to go. Let's embrace the fats. They are your friend!
I LOVE FATS! I recently had my blood work done and my cholesterol was perfect. But if we are going to be talking about fats here, let's differentiate between what I'm referring to and the others, because, no, all fats are not created equal. Some fats will harm your body and some fats will heal and benefit your body. There's a difference between deep fried oreos and organic almonds. They will do completely different things within (and to) your body.
Healthy fats provide your body more energy per ounce than carbs or protein. Fats are required to transport nutrients through the body, and help regulate body temperature. Fats also help create cell membranes, protect vital organs and maintain a proper hormone balance. So many reasons our bodies need healthy doses of daily fat. Healthy fats include things such as avocado, flax oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds, nut butter, avocado oil. I include these things every day, multiple times a day. In fact, with every single meal I eat, I make sure I consume a source of healthy fat. I add flax oil to my smoothies. I top my oats with hemp seed. I eat wild caught salmon at least once per week. I sprinkle chia seeds on just about everything. I put avocado on my toast. I eat raw nuts and seeds with an apple. I even add coconut oil into my herbal tea.
Back when I was competing, the amount of fat I was eating was minimal, as were my calories. My hair started falling out in clumps. I could never stay warm. I stopped getting my period and I had very little energy. My body craved fat and it's why so many competitors can easily eat an entire jar of nut butter in one sitting - their body is screaming for fats!
So no..fats will not make you fat. Unless you eat 14 bags of nuts a day, you'll be just fine, and you'll be fueling your body with high quality fuel. As with everything I teach about nutrition - it's always quality over quantity.
The fats I don't recommend include trans fats which are found in fried, greasy foods. These fats cause huge amounts of inflammation in the body and impede with the body's ability to regulate many processes. The fats added to processed foods that you'll find on the shelves of grocery stores also cause inflammation. These fats go through a process called hydrogenation which renders the fat less likely to go rancid, but are associated with increasing blood cholesterol levels, inflammation, gut irriation and increasing the risk of artherosclerosis. (tip - look for "partially hydrogenated" on your food labels. And when you see those words, leave the product on the shelf)
There are 2 types of essential fatty acids (required by your body) - Omega-3 and Omega-6
These fats are essential for normal growth or blood vessels and nerves, and to keep skin and other tissues healthy and supple. The sources of Omega-3 are flax oil and seed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and oils, salmon and other cold water fish, and some sea vegetables.
Omega-6 is found in canola oil, corn, peanuts, safflower oils, sesame oil, & soy. These fats are also utilized by the body but in very small amounts
For optimal health, the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 in the diet should be anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1. Our standard diet in reality puts the ratio closer to between 10:1 to 20:1 thanks to all the fried and processed foods that surround us. With such an imbalance, we are at risk for insulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, heart disease, chronic inflammation and a whole lot of illnesses in between.
So, my wellness lovers. Eat fat. Eat lots of it.
Making sure it's a good quality fat providing your body with quality fuel will enhance your health without question.