The Healthy Fats post.
The posts up til now present information that you have heard before: cut out grains and sugar, consider dairy carefully, eat lots of veggies and high-quality protein. This has been at least on the periphery of mainstream for several years.
What you don’t read so much about is the idea of healthy fats. Keep in mind that our approach is still about eating foods that make us healthier and create a good physical response, and not just because our ancestors may have eaten some version of it. Also keep in mind that this is going to presented highly simplified, and from a nutritional layperson. My interest in nutrition is personal (and professional related to my personal training practice), and I am influenced not a small amount by application and implementation to my own body.
First let’s identify what fats create a good response in our bodies. You probably already know there are different kinds of fat that have to do with the chemistry of the molecules. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) are good guys that improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol – olives and olive oil, avocados (and oil), macadamia nuts, hazelnut oil.
Then there are the saturated fats (you read correctly). Don’t freak out! Those 2 words – saturated fat – have been unfairly blamed for effects that have usually come from the nasty bun/french fries/onion rings/bread/pasta/your-choice-here that accompany that fat. Here’s a link to an abstract – read the conclusion. Healthy saturated fats include clarified butter (an exception to the dairy rule since clarified butter is the fat only, with the milk proteins removed), pork and beef fat with this caveat: Remember that when choosing meats, it’s pastured-meat all the way. Toxins can accumulate in the fat of animals exposed to antibiotics and chemicals, and if you’re not eating grass-fed, cut off or don’t eat the fat.
Another saturated fat is coconut oil, coconut meat or flakes, and coconut milk. It’s great for cooking, and the milk can be used as a substitute for cream in sauces and coffee. The flakes make a killer coating for chicken tenderloin, and as a topping for salads, and for a straight-up snack.
Then there’s the PUFA’s – the omega 3’s and 6’s you’re hearing so much about. We want both of these fats in our diet, but we want the right ratio too. Good sources of omega 3’s are cashews, hazelnuts, and macadamias. However, it’s common and easy to overeat nuts – they’re snackity delicious, terribly handy, very portable. Part of our whole foods effort is that food preparation and consumption SHOULD be an event, and take a little time and effort and thought. The concept of “grabbing and going” has so much traction in our busy culture, and it works against our healthy eating.
So here’s the piece I mentioned in an earlier post. Bear with me, same disclaimer as always: amateur’s understanding. Your body always uses a combination of fat and carbohydrates for fuel. When you feed your body an abundance of sugar, that’s the fuel your body will use, leaving your stores of body fat unburned and in place. When you withhold sugar, and provide enough healthy fats, your body will burn fat for fuel, leading to fat reduction. (We also use different fuel for different levels of activity – higher intensity burns more carbohydrates, lower intensity more fat). You can take this to full-on ketosis , which is the point when the body turns almost exclusively to burning fat for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates. I met Dr. Peter Attia over a full-cream latte in San Diego a couple of years ago and he’s an absolutely lovely man. He is so much smarter than anyone I know, and while I loveloveLOVE his blog, I very seldom understand it all, even with this effort to make it accessible to non-scientists. Here’s his post about ketosis and carbohydrates– it’s worth a read, but bring your brain. But first, watch his Ted talk, and bring a tissue.
This is the last of the substantive posts. That is it. It’s how I eat most of the time. It’s what I think the science guides us to eat. It’s what I think the precepts of evolution drive us to eat. I’m going to write a wrap-up post with some remaining details and how I manage eating in this manner. This has been a fun series for me, and a fantastic distraction from the Brief I’m working on for Legal Writing.
Thanks for reading!