Perhaps one of the most popular trends in the world of dieting and nutrition is the idea of “Fat Free.” It seems everything you can imagine comes in a “low fat” or “fat free” option. I am here to tell you that no fat may actually make you gain fat.
When we talk about “fat” in regards to nutrition, there are two different kinds we refer to, saturated and unsaturated fat. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and generally come from animal sources, whereas unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and come primarily from plant sources. Dietary fat is responsible for many key functions in the body. The truth is, we couldn’t live without it. Some key functions include:
- Providing energy throughout the day
- Act as a catalyst to absorb fat soluble vitamins
- Help maintain body temperature
- Essential for hormone production
- Provide structural components for brain cells and nerves.
Given all of these amazing and vital roles fat plays in the body, why would anyone recommend to limit it? Well, there are some very good reasons. One being, fat contains a lot of calories. Too many calories consumed can and will lead to weight gain. However, limiting fat doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. Here are a few ways eating fat can help you lose weight:
- Eating foods higher in fat will help curb your cravings between meals. Since fats are harder to and take longer to digest, you will feel satisfied longer.
- Eating fat will enhance your body’s ability to burn fat. Diets low in fat will decrease the body’s production of certain fat burning hormones, specifically adiponectin. Adiponectin is involved in regulating glucose levels as well as fat cell breakdown.
- Diets higher in fat and lower in carbohydrate lead to lower releases of insulin. Lower insulin levels will allow your body to burn fat, and use it as a fuel source, rather than burning carbohydrates.
As always though, everything in moderation. Keep in mind that your daily fat calorie intake should only be about 15-30% of your total daily calories. Fat does contain calories, so be conscious of your portions, and keep losing fat!
Patrick Scott, M.S., C.S.C.S.
Sports and Fitness Director