In the past, nutritionists have advised that we limit our fat intake to reduce health risks associated with obesity. However, recent research contradicts this argument, as it has indeed been proven that consuming more fats in our diets can help us lead a healthier life. What’s more, you can also lose weight by eating more fats because foods rich in fat keep you satiated and lower insulin levels in your body.
How can fats help with weight loss?
The Satiating Effect
Eating more fats leaves you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer. Also, when the fat you consume enters the small intestines, it triggers the release of hormones like cholecystokinin (CCK) and peptide YY (PYY), both of which give a feeling of fullness. Feeling satiated means that you are less likely to take a second helping or take snacks between meals.
Lower Insulin Levels
Consuming more fats lower insulin levels in our bodies. The three macronutrients that make up a healthy diet are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Your protein needs come first, but you can adjust your intake of fats and carbohydrates. Eating fewer fats means increasing the intake of carbohydrates, and vice versa.
Consuming more carbohydrates causes the pancreas to release high levels of insulin, which digests the carbs into glucose and stores the sugar in your fat cells. This prevents your body from accessing its fat stores and converting them into energy when your cells need it; hence you have to eat more food to meet the energy requirement of your body. Increasing your intake of fats, on the other hand, lowers the level of insulin in your body, which facilitates access to your fat stores for energy.
Not Everything Is Equal
Not all fats are good for our bodies as healthy fats are the ones derived from whole foods such as nuts, animal flesh, avocados, and olives. These fats are categorized into three groups, which are mainly differentiated by their chemical structure. They include:
Saturated fats: They mostly come from animal sources including red meat, eggs yolks, and dairy products like butter and ghee. It can also be found in certain plants and vegetables, for example, coconut oil. These fats are essential to brain health, good for your lungs, and they also boost your immune system.
Monounsaturated fats: Sources of monounsaturated fats include red meat, egg yolks, nuts, whole milk products, and fruits high in fats such as avocados and olives. Olive oil, for example, contains about 75% monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats: There are two types of polyunsaturated fats; omega-3 and omega-6. Nutritionists recommend that you reduce your intake of omega-6 fats and increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids. This argument is based on the fact that omega-3s contain anti-inflammatory properties. They are also associated with a healthier nervous system, higher sensitivity to insulin, and better sleep.
Sources of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, salmon, tuna, sardines, and anchovies are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Oysters are also a good source of omega-3.
Examples of fats that contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids are nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds. However, nutritionists advise that we reduce their intake due to their inflammatory effects.
What To Avoid
Just like we said before, not all fats are good for your health, and you should keep away from foods that contain trans-fats. Trans-fats are made from unsaturated fatty acids, but they undergo chemical processing which alters their structure to prolong their shelf life. Examples of trans-fats include margarine, shortening and processed foods such as cakes, crackers, and cookies.
Fats contain more calories per gram than any other macronutrient, and even with their health benefits, it is advisable that you consume them with some level of measurement control. If you eat excess calories, the body uses what it needs for its energy requirements and stores up the excess energy as glycogen or fat. Over time, eating more calories than you need causes the fat stores in your body to expand, leading to weight gain.