For decades, experts advocated a low fat diet and people jumped on board. Surely, we would lose fat if we ate less fat, right? Wrong! It turns out that healthy fats will actually help us with weight loss and with maintaing a healthy weight. It has taken me a few years of reading the medical literature and attending conferences in the field of Obesity Medicine to jump off the skim milk bandwagon, but here I am with whole milk and full fat plain Greek yogurt in my fridge. I think it’s time for you to do the same!
What happened in the food industry when we all decided to go low fat is that the fat had to be replaced with something else to make our food palatable. What was that something else? Sugar! Suddenly we loaded up on foods with white flour and sugar. HYPERpalatable, convenient, cheap foods. Of course there were trans-fats (the unhealthy kind of fat!) in processed foods as well. It was that transition to processed foods with their simple carbs / sugars, that created so much harm. We did not do ourselves any favors by avoiding all fats.
Why is it a problem if we replace fats with sugar? On a molecular level, what happens when we eat sugar (or white bread, white potatoes, and other simple carbs that are broken down into sugars) is that our pancreas sends out a hefty dose of insulin to manage the sugar. Insulin drives our body into storage mode and those calories are promptly stored in our adipocytes, or fat cells. Suddenly there are no nutrients in our blood stream because they’ve all been quickly shipped into our storage system (around our waist). No nutrients circulating in the blood stream leads to an important signal: time to eat! I’m hungry! So although we have just increased the fat in our body’s storage system, when the sugar and insulin levels come crashing down, the body feels hungry and craves more sweets, more carbs. This can set up a vicious cycle.
We need to satisfy ourselves with healthy fats that have more positive effects in the body, and at the same time help us to feel satisfied. What are sources of healthy fats? Nuts, wild caught salmon, olive oil, full fat plain Greek yogurt, avocados, seeds, tuna…
So for dinner, how about a gorgeous salad with salmon and avocado? You don’t need to feel deprived in order to lose weight. Eat more healthy fats and prove to yourself that you can feel more satisfied while dropping pounds.
Thanks for listening and I wish you the best of health.
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Photo from a delicious, healthy dinner at Mesa Urbana in Northbrook, IL April 2016