This has to be one of the biggest misconceptions in the nutrition world.
It’s almost like we have this imagine of eating fat and it goes into your body and just forms fat cells on your body. That’s simply not how the body works.
Once again, insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for fat storage. Let’s say you eat a piece of bread. Your body breaks that bread down to glucose, with glucose in the bloodstream your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin’s job is to move glucose to the liver and muscles to store it (in the form of glycogen). If you regularly eat carbohydrates (like the 6-7 servings of grains the Canadian Food Guide recommends 🙄) then your liver and muscles will be at max capacity for glycogen storage. Insulin will then move the glucose to cells where it will be stored as fat.
Protein also has a mild insulin response. You eat a piece of steak, your body breaks it down into amino acids and shuttles it off where it needs to go – muscle maintenance, red blood cell formation, hormone synthesis, and more. Fat? Fat has a very small, if any, insulin response. When fat is eaten it gets broken down and turned into triglycerides. The triglycerides get shuttled around the body used for energy and a variety of other things.
So why is there this misbelief that fat causes us to be fat? A mixture of misunderstood and faulty science.
Most of it goes back to Dr Ancel Keys. His seven countries study was key in getting the government on board with nutritional guidelines that suggested limiting saturated fat intake. His study showed correlation between saturated fat and heart disease (please note, correlation not causation!). However, he chose seven countries that already proved his theory. He purposely left out countries that had high saturated fat intake and low heart disease. Check out Nina Teicholz for a much better explanation on how this great big lie around fat started..
If our current advice worked (of limiting fat and eating ‘heart healthy’ whole grains) then why do we have an obesity problem? The only answer left is that people aren’t following the guidelines. Once again, this simply isn’t true. People do follow it. They cut back on red meat and eggs and they increased their carbohydrate intake. There was a huge influx of low-fat products hitting store shelves. Yet, they still gained weight. Perhaps that advice is not true and has gotten us into a pretty big obesity and diabetes crisis.
The other problem is ethics in science. Back in the 60’s the sugar industry paid Harvard scientist to say that their studies showed that sugar had no impact on weight and it was better to cut fat. That’s a touch shady! There’s also the limitations in nutritional studies. Unless you sequester people and control everything you can’t really report that something causes something else, it’s just correlation. Media often takes these studies and creates a headline that although kind of true is out of context. Let’s take the processed meat example. I’m sure everyone knows that processed meat is a class 1 carcinogen and should be avoided at all costs unless you want colon cancer. I’m going to link to a Chris Kresser article because he explains this so well. But, let me add this – alcohol is a class one carcinogen and coffee a class two yet no one seems to have a problem with that 🤔
So what does all of this mean for you? It’s ok to eat fat. It’s good for you! Your body needs it – it’s why there are some essential fatty acids, they are literally essential to life. You need it for certain vitamins that are only soluble in fat; you need it for hormone production; your brain is about 60% fat and requires fat intake to stay at the top of its game; it maintains your body temperature and protects organs and nerves; gives you energy to live your best life! Don’t be scared of it. Eat the avocado (the whole damn thing), pour the olive oil on your salad, get the fatty cut of meats, get the fatty dairy, and eat the damn bacon!
This is my kind of bouquet! Here’s the recipe