Not all fats are bad, they actually are important for your health and they even can help you lose weight. I am not kidding! They really do!
Fats give taste to your food and form to your body, they are at the base of every well functioning body cell. Besides that, they also regulate your immune system and maintain your hormone balance, by producing testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. In short, they influence your menstruation cycle, your energy level, your fertility and your mood.
If you don’t get enough fats, your body will not be able to function correctly and you can get any kind of ailments and infections, which can lead to cardio vascular diseases, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
But why do you need fats? There are actually two kinds of fats: the fats your body makes itself and the fats you find in food. Let’s dive further into the matter.
The Fats In Your Food
The fats in your food can come from plant based and animal based sources and can be divided into saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats is seen in three different fatty acids:
- Omega 3: this you can find in green vegetables, fish (especially herring, mackerel, eel, salmon and sardines), Chia seeds, walnuts, linseed and pumpkin seed oil
- Omega 6: can be found in cashew nuts, peanuts, seeds, sunflower-, soybean oil- and corn oil, ready meals and sauces
- Omega 9: can be found in extra virgin olive oil, sesame seeds and avocado.
Omega 3 fatty acids are an important secret weapon against early aging. This is because omega 3 stimulates the renewal of your cells and acts against infections in your body.
Omega 6 fatty acids are essential to improve the healing process of small wounds, sprains, muscle pain and broken bones.
Omega 9 fatty acids are good for your health, they do contain a lot of calories though, but they will help to keep your cholesterol on the right level.
There are no bad fats in nature. Some fats are unhealthy only because they are treated. In our western-world diet where we find ready-made meals, vegetable oil, linseed oil, peanut oil, there are much more Omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3 and 9 fatty acids. This is how the balance between the different fatty acids in your body gets out of balance. The result is that we get more infections, prosperity diseases (type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure)
Healthy Vs. Unhealthy
Saturated fats are often seen as the enemy by professionals. You can find them in cakes, candy, cookies, snacks, but also in animal products like fat meat, full-cream milk and cheese products. Saturated fats increase the LDL-level in your cholesterol, which is bad for the blood vessels and increases the chances of cardio vascular diseases. It is therefore recommended that you replace products with high saturated fats by products with high unsaturated fats.
On one hand there are the professionals who consider the saturated fats as harming to our health, on the other hand experts from natural medicine say that saturated fats are not necessarily unhealthy.
Healthy saturated fats are for example in coconut oil, ghee, mother milk and cream butter. The industry has been trying to scare us for fats, especially saturated fats. Over the years we started eating more refined products which increases our intake of trans fats and decreases our intake of vegetable based products. This is a not good at all for our health.
The Real Bad Guys
When even the experts do not agree with each other, then how should we know what’s right for us?
Where everybody does agree, is that the real bad guys are the trans fats. Since the beginning of the 20th century, people have started producing vegetable oil (Omega 6), like sunflower oil, and they have been added to our foods. These trans fats do not exist in nature and are the result of processed foods. For example ready-made sauces and meals, marinades, cookies, cake and desserts.
Trans fats are poison to your body, it damages the cells.
Thinner With Fats?
In order to lose fat, you need to eat good fats!
Good fats do not create more fat cells and higher cholesterol. Especially when you eat lots of processed carbs, your pancreas makes extra insulin in order to transform these carbs into glucose. But insulin has two other tasks: storing new body fats and fighting against fat burning. So the more glucose your body makes, the more difficulties you will have fighting the extra kilos.
To lose weight, the insulin level in your blood must be low. And this is the case when your blood sugar level does not oscillate too much.
In order for your blood sugar level to stay in balance, you can avoid eating too much white flour products, like white bread or cake, and instead eat more good carb products (like vegetables and fruits) and good fat products (like fish, olive oil, nuts and avocado).
How Much Fat Do We Need?
When you eat natural products, you are always on the safe side. Think about lean meet, fat fish, mushrooms, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. If you are really craving for processed foods, then try to consider them as a treat and only take a small quantity of it on a special occasion, like a birthday.
Make sure your meals are balanced between good fats (fish, avocado, walnuts), good carbs (vegetables, fruits) and good proteins (eggs, coconut yogurt, almond milk, but not cow milk products). This is the best way to keep your fatty acids in balance!
What About Stress?
Someone with a stressful job is producing more stress hormones, also called cortisol. This is an ancient reflex people had when they were facing a dangerous situation. When you experience immediate stress, you come into action immediately almost without thinking. But when the stress is ongoing, your body gets used to a high cortisol level. And especially when you have an office job, the body fat will concentrate the glucose in your belly area.
Is Cholesterol Good Or Bad?
When we hear the word cholesterol, we immediately think it is bad, which is not necessarily the case though. You do not get a too high cholesterol by eating fat snacks. It is more a result of not eating enough vegetables, not doing any sports and permanent stress.
When your cholesterol is too high, it means that there are too many fats in your blood. This does not mean that you have eaten too many fats, it means that there are too few fibers in your intestines that can absorb the fats. As the fats cannot be held by the fibers, they go straight back into your blood. This way your fat percentage, and your cholesterol level, increase.
Be careful before buying products that are supposed to lower your cholesterol level, as they are often full of chemicals that can do more harm to your body than they will do good. The best remedy is to eat more vegetables, do more sports and to relax for a lower cholesterol.
The Fats In Your Body
Brown fat is active fat and serves as fuel for your body (to warm up, give you energy and to burn calories)
White fat is passive fat, the one you will see back on the scale and the one that isolates your body.
The brown fat is the heater that makes your body work, and it needs a lot of energy to make this heater burn. The more brown body fat you have, the warmer you naturally are and the higher your metabolism is, also when you are not doing anything.
When there is insufficient energy coming from your food (too little glucose in your blood) the brown fat will eventually absorb the white fat and turn it into energy.
Be More Active
Your eating pattern and lifestyle determine the amount of brown and white fats your body is getting. Unhealthy food triggers the production of new white fat tissue. An active lifestyle and natural, unprocessed foods stimulate the production of brown fats.
To give the burning process of your white fat cells an extra boost, make sure your heart rate level goes up to at least 70 when doing sports. You can compare this to cardio training where you are still able to whistle while being active.
Doing sports on an empty stomach stimulates the fat burning process. This is because the glucose level in your blood and muscles is low and therefore your body will burn the fat instead. But beware, fat cells that have been made, will not go away by sporting. They can only be taken away by a medical procedure (like liposuction)
The fats that you eat give you extra building blocks, which you need to produce and to recover your cells and therefore they do not “land” on your hips and thighs. These fat rolls that some of us have, they are there because of the carbs that we eat.
How To Recognize The Signals
You can go to your doctor to make a blood test and check your omega fatty acids in your body. But if you do not want to run of to your doctor, you can also start by listening to your body. The more ailments you have, the more active your immune system is. An overactive immune system takes away a lot of energy from your body. This can result in other long term health problems.
You can recognize this because of ongoing fatigue, bad mood, concentration problems or because you are forgetting things. Low libido and sleeping problems are also signs that your fatty acids are out of balance. Just like gaining a couple of kilos or having trouble losing a couple of kilos.
It is true that these signs can be related to different kinds of health problems, like I talked about in my Why Sleep Is Important For Your Health and my 8 Ways To Boost Your Metabolism And Lose Weight article. But one thing is sure, if you are suffering from these signs, it is important to find out what the health issue is and try to change your eating habits.
Do you recognize yourself in this article? Did you do something to change your lifestyle, and did it work? I would really like to hear your opinion on this, so please leave a comment or your question below and I would be happy to get back to you!