So it's March.
You had a plan starting January 1st (or how about the 2nd...once that hangover food had been eaten up). 2017 was going to be YOUR YEAR of taking charge of your health - mind and body. And, of course, this probably included losing a few pounds.
(I could MOST DEFINITELY have an entire blog post dedicated to our obsession with losing weight (despite other very serious health concerns, for some!). Whether weight loss is necessary or a healthy goal for each person is very individualized and not something we will delve into here).
So you ditched your butter. You stocked up on yogurt (fat-free, vanilla). You promised yourself you would only eat chicken, and would ditch your nasty habit of having a hamburger every Friday after work. Your snacks now consist of raw carrots and celery (and OH BOY, are they getting monotonous!), apples, and rice cakes.
You're drinking plenty of water. If you DO have a hankering for a Coke, you're doing Diet Coke.
And of course, you're trying to exercise more often, be less stressed, and all that other perfect-life-type-stuff.
But. It's now March. And you've only lost 5 lbs. WTF?!?!
The other side of the story is... You're not sleeping as well as you used to. You're anxious (but hey, haven't you always been that way?!) You've got a brutal headache by 3pm most days at work. And you're hungry... All. The. Time.
WHAT IS GOING ON???!!!
I'll tell you, plainly and simply: You're not eating enough fat.
I know. It sounds absolutely nuts (something you will focus on eating more of after you read this blog post...). But it's something absolutely, without-a-doubt true. And here's why.
1. Fat makes you feel full.
You're going to feel satiated after meals that have adequate fat, which will allow you to A) Not obsess about what your next meal will be, B) Not crave sugar-rich foods (and then feel the need to eat sugar-rich foods), and C) Get a better night's sleep.
2. Your brain NEEDS fat.
Brains are made of fat. True story. 60% fat, in fact. For our brain to function well, and be calm/focused/happy we need to feed it healthy fat. And we all know, when we feel stressed out, often we end up craving sugar and salty foods. So, by feeding our brain what it needs in the first place, we will prevent those HANGRY cravings.
3. All of your cells need fat.
Bring yourself back to grade 10 biology. Remember that thing called the cell membrane?.. It is the outer shell of each and every cell in our body - our heart, our brain, our muscle, our bone - all of it. And it is made of - you guessed it - fat! *See the yellow balls with green tails below - those are phospholipids aka FAT, and there are so many of them!
For all of our cells to do their jobs correctly, we need a health phospholipid layer. This allows the right things to move in and out of the cell i.e. vitamins/minerals/proteins/sugars/etc. And in order to lose weight, we need all of our cells to be doing the right things.
If you need more convincing, there have been research studies - plural - that have found that:
- When food manufacturers reduce fat, they often replace it with carbohydrates from sugar, refined grains, or other starches. Our bodies digest these refined carbohydrates and starches very quickly, affecting blood sugar and insulin levels and possibly resulting in weight gain and disease.
- No link exists between the overall percentage of calories from fat you eat and any detrimental health outcome, including cancer, heart disease, and weight gain. (Findings from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study).
When you measure every ounce of food, every movement, every breath and every calorie burned, people who eat more fat compared to an identical amount of carbs burn over 100 more calories a day. Over a year, that amounts to about a 10-pound weight loss from doing no more exercise. (Findings from National Institutes of Health).
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
To reap all of the benefits listed above, QUALITY IS KEY! This is where you want to spend a bit more on your grocery bill. Our body loves the following, so make it a habit to include a serving of these foods at each meal:
NUTS AND SEEDS
Choose raw over roasted. Oils or nut butters are a great option as well! When buying oils, cold-pressed is best.
Flax seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Walnuts, Chia seeds, Almonds, Hemp hearts, Cashews, Pistachios, Brazil nuts, Avocados, Coconut
FISH + SEAFOOD
- Go to www.seafoodwatch.org for information on the most sustainable and least toxic sources.
Herring, Salmon, Sardines, Oysters, Trout, Tuna, Mackerel
- Choose grass-fed, organic. If the following are conventionally raised on grains, the anti-inflammatory health benefits will be lost.
Grass fed beef, pork, butter, ghee, cream, yogurt, keffir
Fats to Avoid
The following sources of fat promote inflammation, rather than act as helpful anti-inflammatory foods. For all of our metabolic functions, we want to decrease inflammation, and most certainly if our goal is to lose weight. These fats and oils are typically highly processed (ie. GMO).
- Canola Oil (Rapeseed), Corn Oil, Soy Oil, Vegetable Oil, Sunflower Oil, Margarine, anything that says "hydrogenated"
- Grain-fed beef/pork/dairy products/butter, shortening (if it's not labeled as "organic, grass-fed", then it likely isn't).
Now - return to taking charge of your health, and get your phat fat on!
-Dr. Rush, ND