Anytime a friend or family member asks me for nutrition advice, I always tell them to start with their fats. Oh, how I love thy fat.
Ever since we increased our fat intake, my husband lost all of the little fat he had on his body. The more fat I feed him, the leaner he gets. I’m not jealous or anything, but it actually drives me kind of insane. I have maintained my weight pretty consistently through PT school, which by the way, has been ridiculously stressful. Wife, mother of three, full-time doctoral student. Yeah. I’ve hardly made time to work out, which I’m not proud of at all. Any time that is not spent with my family, cooking, or studying, is spent relaxing and sleeping…which really hasn’t seemed like much at all. But I’ve survived, and even with all the increased cortisol levels and less than optimal sleep, I haven’t gained weight. Thank you, food. I’ll get my shit together soon…no worries.
Fats we use on a daily basis:
- Coconut oil (organic; extra-virgin and expeller-pressed) — I buy these by the gallon!
- Pure butter and ghee from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold butter or home-made raw cultured butter)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Bacon grease (saved from cooking all-natural, nitrate-free bacon)
- Raw nuts (soaked and dehydrated) and organic nut butters
- Seeds (soaked and dehydrated and/or sprouted)
I also just ordered Pure Lard and Tallow for the first time. I’m super excited!
Fats we eliminated from our diet:
- Vegetable oil
- Canola oil
- Margarine and other “heart-healthy” fake buttery spreads
- All other highly-refined, highly-processed oils and trans fats
We also eat only full-fat dairy products including raw whole milk (to be discussed in-depth in another post), cream, homemade kefir, whole milk yogurt, full-fat sour cream, cheeses, etc. We cook our pasture-raised eggs in coconut oil or butter, I use coconut oil anywhere oil is called for in baked goods and greasing pans, top salads with lots of avocado and organic feta cheese, spread plenty of butter over our homemade sourdough waffles and pancakes, and the list goes on.
Why so much fat? Well, for starters, fat makes food taste good, and fat also contains the majority of vitamins and nutrients of a whole food. Let’s take eggs, for example. Many health conscious people tend to avoid egg yolks and opt for only the egg whites in order to avoid the fat and cholesterol found in the yolk. Well, the white only actually contains 57% of the egg’s entire protein content, and it contains 0% of the Vitamins A, D, E, and K2 because they’re all found in the yolk. Furthermore, over 90% of the egg’s total calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, folate, and vitamins B6 & B12 also come from the yolk.
While the yolk does contain 100% of the fat and cholesterol in the egg, it also contains the majority of the nutrients. There is a large growing body of evidence suggesting that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol do not actually clog your arteries or contribute to cardiovascular disease. I said I wouldn’t bore you with science, but in a nutshell…your body NEEDS fat and cholesterol (the walls of the trillions of cells in your body are made up of fat–a phospholipid bilayer). If your body doesn’t get it in the diet, it will just make it from what it does get (carbohydrates/sugar).
I remember pumping breastmilk while nursing my three children and seeing the fat solidify at the top when refrigerated. The thicker the cream line, the better! Every time I needed to warm up the milk, I was obsessive about ensuring every last bit of cream was incorporated back into the milk and not stuck to the side of the bottle. I didn’t consciously think about it then, but that’s where all the good stuff was! That’s what my babies needed to be healthy…not so much the cloudy, sugary water left below. Which is precisely what skim milk is. Except worse. Yuck.
Another great thing about fat is that it gives you more bang for your buck…literally. Each gram of fat contains about 9 calories, while each gram of protein and carbohydrate contains only about 4 calories. Therefore, you need to eat less food to have the same caloric intake. Eating fat satisfies you and keeps you full much longer while providing you with sustained energy (unlike a quick sugar high followed by crash). Ever eaten a doughnut, bowl of cereal, granola bar, or crackers and felt like you ate nothing at all, bewildered at why you feel so hungry and need another snack an hour later…? Try eating more fats with your breakfast and see how different you feel.
My caveat to fats is that if you are trying to lose weight, you need to keep the above paragraph in mind. If you tend to overeat and/or eat when you’re not hungry, and start eating a bunch of yummy fat, then naturally you will be consuming a lot more calories. That won’t bode well for your weight loss goals and you’ll come back here calling me a big, fat liar. So while you most certainly should incorporate a variety of healthy fats into your diet, you’ll need to watch the total amount of food you’re eating. It shouldn’t be difficult, though, because you’ll have less cravings for sweets and simply won’t be as hungry. If you’re about to eat out of sheer boredom, drink water instead!
And that’s my spiel on fat. I’m sure there will be more of it to come. Yep, this is the good life. Bunch of fatties up in this house 🙂