In all my sessions with clients I always say how unfortunate it is, that we use the same word for a nutrient in our food, and for too much substance on our body. Both are called fat, both are very different, and just because you eat fat, you don't get fat. :-)
What I want to write about today is fat the nutrient: one of the only three nutrients in our food, with the other two being carbohydrates and protein. All mainstream diets consist of cutting out one of the three nutrients completely or partially, in the hopes that this energy deficit will create weight loss for everyone desperate to drop a few pounds. This works for a while until major cravings kick in. And contradictory to what most of us believe, cravings aren't always a bad thing. They make you aware that something is off in your body. And in the case of being on a diet, cravings often kick in when your body starts to need the nutrient you cut out.
In the 80s we made fat our public enemy number one. The premise was, fat has the most amount of calories (energy) per gram - 9 calories to be exact compared to both carbohydrates and protein which each have 4. So in theory you could be eating bigger amounts of fat free sugar cookies than of regular sugar cookies, and you would consume less calories, hence you would lose weight. The low-fat diet craze was born, and everything became low fat or fat free. To this day this, way of thinking is extremely popular. I dare you to find a regular, plain yogurt on the shelf, which is not low fat or fat free.
Of course we realized that we started getting bigger. So if fat wasn't making us fat, what was? Sugar took over the spot for the biggest villain in our food in the late 90s. With the comeback of the Atkins diet from 1972, everyone went on a low-carb craze. Eat as much protein as you want, and you will lose weight. Couple this with the drilled in thinking of low-fat, and we had a population living on lettuce and chicken breasts. By this time, most people were missing two vital nutrients in their diet, and still not losing weight. What was wrong now?
So far, no one has looked into cutting out protein, although I do believe that this trend will start to get more popular. Being more plant-based is already on the rise, so it's only a matter of time. But before protein completely goes out of fashion, we are seeing a huge comeback of fat. After decades of being blamed for weight gain and heart disease, we are slowly seeing more nutrient dense fats becoming popular. Avocado, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of omega 3 fats, responsible for cleaning our arteries, fueling our brain, keeping our skin soft, having a healthy hormone production, and so much more. You may have heard of the ketogenic diet - a high fat, low carb diet originally intended to treat epilepsy in children. It's quickly becoming the newest diet trend, and with it, all kinds of heavy fats including cream, butter, and oils are making a huge comeback. With that I see another huge problem of animal products again being eaten too liberally, however, I think it's great that people's mindset is starting to shift away from "fat is making me fat". I always like to stress the fact that all three nutrients are in nature and available to us for a reason: our bodies need them! We can't and shouldn't live without them. Instead of cutting out one or two of them to see quick weight loss changes, finding the right balance of all three for each person individually is the way to go for long term health and weight balance.
Here is to a happy and "fat" 2017!