Our vocabulary has a word that means two different, yet related things.
On one hand it describes a negative appearance due to being overweight or obesity. Conversely it is also a component of food.
So naturally one leads to the other, right?
It may not make sense to most people but someone really blew it back in the day when they were naming things. One fat is essential for human survival and the other is related to a negative body image.
If we just stuck with terms like obese, overweight, triglycerides, fatty acids, sterols, etc. then we would be good.
But there is really no fun in that.
Nutrition is not an easy concept for most people to grasp as it is but now we have two terms that are wrongly linked to each other.
Dietary fat is an essential macronutrient. It has to be obtained from diet or else the body will die. The same goes for protein and carbs (a conversation for a different time). Survival is not possible without all three.
Body fat serves important purposes in the body as well. It is responsible for protection and insulation of the body. Fat becomes a fiasco once it becomes visible on the outside though.
The problem is that one is not dependant on the other.
Eating a bunch of fat is not a strategy to be overweight. Eating too much of anything is going to do that.
What is the real culprit then?
I am going with processed/artificial foods.
Try to gain weight eating McDonalds, Doritos, and baked goods. It seems pretty easy right?
If you look at the nutrients contained in these items you will find protein, carbohydrate, and fat. They are not made of 100% fat and they can still lead to obesity.
The real key is on the ingredient label (if provided). It will resemble something of a periodic table of elements.
There is a reason that high school chemistry classes had goggles, gloves, eye washers, and emergency showers. The chemicals you worked with were not supposed to be ingested.
These foods are low in nutrient quality and high in calories. You are getting almost no bang for your buck.
Instead your bucks are likely to go towards medical intervention at a later age.
It is not fat that is the issue, it is the over consumption of junk food that causes health problems.
The best sources of dietary fat
Unsaturated fats are the best forms of fat to take in. There is some information out there that discusses the source of saturated fat changing the effect is has on the body but for now I still think it should be minimized.
There is just something about butter and bacon that I do not trust, even if it came from a cow that was fed organic grass-fed grass with distilled water from a hidden lake in the Rocky Mountains and sunshine protected from UV rays.
Despite my over-exaggeration I am not ready to suggest putting a stick of butter in the morning coffee of someone trying to get their health on track.
Luckily, there are forms of fat that are known to lower cholesterol and resting triglycerides in the blood. Sticking to unsaturated fats is the best way to go. Having a saturated fat is not the end of the world but avoiding when possible is important.
Nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados are good sources of fat. They also create products from them such as nut butters that are a staple of a good diet, unless you’re allergic.
Also, there has been research out there that says eggs are not going to make your heart explode as previously thought. They are a solid source of fat and protein.
Fat is not the enemy. Processed food, artificial additives, and other junk food are the foods that needed to be avoided. Focus on unsaturated fats to make up the majority of your fat intake.
Overweight and obesity are not caused by one essential nutrient. They are caused by long term indulging in nutrient-less foods.
Stick to real foods that provide a lot of good things for their size.
Time for a test. Can you pick one thing that you normally eat and replace it with a fruit, vegetable, or other healthy snack?
Making small changes like this will lead to a healthier you.