You are what you eat. And so to avoid health problems, you must make healthy food choices. Dietary fat has a long time reputation of being unhealthy.
But is that really true? Does dietary fat really cause cancer, heart diseases and obesity? After reading this post you’ll know how much truth there is behind 4 of the most popular myths about dietary fat.
1. Dietary Fat Makes You Fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Excess calories do. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat less calories and/or burn more calories. This rule applies to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- Caloric excess by eating more and/or burning less => fat/weight gain.
- Caloric deficit by eating less and/or burning more => fat/weight loss.
Dietary fats are richer in calories than carbs or proteins (9cal/g vs 4kcal/g). But a bagel with peanut butter will keep you full longer than a plain bagel. Even with equal portion sizes. Because fats slow down digestion & keep you full longer.
Dietary fats will only make you fat if you have a caloric excess. Otherwise they can help you lose fat by decreasing hunger. And there are other ways eating more dietary fat can increase fat loss.
- Burn More Fat. Your body can use fats or carbs for fuel. Eating more fats but less carbs forces your body to use more fat for daily activities.
- Lose Stubborn Fat. Studies show healthy fats like fish oil increase fat loss, especially in stubborn fat areas.
- Improve Dietary Adherence. You’ll stick to any diet better if you like its taste. Meals that have some fats are tastier.
You want to lose fat, eat up to 20% below maintenance. The simplest way is to eat less starchy carbs like breads, pasta, rice, oats or potatoes since these are rich in calories. Check the 8 nutrition rules.
2. Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease. Your liver makes more cholesterol than you can eat in a day. It also tends to increase cholesterol production when you reduce its intake. So dietary cholesterol has little impact on blood cholesterol.
People with blood cholesterol issues usually:
- Eat processed foods: white carbs, no fruits, no veggies.
- Don’t exercise, but are mostly sedentary.
- Drink alcohol, smoke, are stressed.
- Are obese as a result.
Reducing dietary cholesterol won’t radically improve your health in this case. You must focus on the big picture: eat healthy, exercise, stop smoking. You’ll lose fat and most likely won’t have to worry about egg yolks and whole milk.
3. Saturated Fat Is Unhealthy. Because it would impact your blood cholesterol and thus cause heart disease & cancer. As with cholesterol, whether saturated fat is healthy or not depends on your situation.
If you eat a diet rich in veggies & fruits, exercise regularly and have your body fat down to healthy ranges, saturated fat won’t be a big deal. But it will if you eat crap all the time, don’t exercise, smoke and drink alcohol.
You have to keep the context in mind. If you exercise 3x per week and eat lots of fruits & veggies, you’re NOT the average joe on which they perform studies. And so you’re playing by different rules.
4. Trans Fat Is Unhealthy. Fat made semi-solid by bubbling hydrogen though vegetable oil to increase its shelf life. Trans fat also occurs naturally in meat & dairy. And these seem to actually have health benefits.
Instead of stressing about the man-made trans fats in processed foods like margarine, cookies or french fries, eat whole unprocessed foods as much as possible. This automatically gets rid of the problem.
Stop the fat phobia. Moderated fat intakes won’t make you fat as long as you have a caloric deficit. It can actually help fat loss. And losing fat by eating less calories and/or burning more calories will improve your health most.