Good Fats, Bad Fats & Keto
Full transcription available at the bottom of this post
But won't fat make me fat?
No. 😏 No it won't, we can put that myth to bed right? Fat is an ESSENTIAL part of your diet, you cannot be healthy without adequate fat. Fat is necessary to absorb certain vitamins like A, D, E, & K, to reduce inflammation, regulate your immune system and synthesize hormones . Every single cell in your body has a layer of fat around it and your entire nervous system is sheathed in a layer of fat. Fat is important! The problem most of us have is we ingest a lot of "bad" fats and not enough "good" fats.
So perhaps I should amend that first statement - GOOD fats are healthy and essential, BAD fats will make you inflamed, sick, and yes, probably fat. But what's a good fat, what's a bad fat and how much should you be eating? Is the Keto diet something you should try? How did fats get so demonized in the first place?
In this second installment of our "focus on the food" series I'm going to break it ALL down for you!
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Show Notes & Transcript:
Welcome back, my friends. This is the second installment of our three part series focusing on the food where we're discussing the three macronutrients protein, fat, and carbs. Last Episode Episode 79, we focused on protein and the importance of optimizing your protein. And in this episode, we're going to talk about fats and the importance of fats, how to utilize fats for your health and your weight loss. Let's go.
Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health. Find food freedom, and finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward. So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes. Let's walk and talk.
I grew up in the 80s and 90s. And I know most of you guys did as well. So I know that you remember that everything back then was fat free. Remember the snack walls cookies like it was a major institution. You could eat as many as you want it right? Because it was fat free. Fat free skim milk margarine instead of butter. Licorice was fat free gummy bears were fat free. If it was fat free, then it was healthy. Right.
But did we get healthier? Yeah, we did not at all. In fact, we just keep getting sicker and sicker and sicker. I'm happy now in the 2020s that fat is making a comeback. But it's almost like this pendulum has swung all the way to the other side, where we're now doing all fat, all fat diets like keto. So what's right and what's wrong? Well, like most things I'm going to talk to you about the truth is somewhere in the middle, let's talk about the history of fat and how we got to that 90s fat free madness. So back in the 50s, coronary heart disease was becoming a major health problem, and also rates of cancer were on the rise. And so the government was trying to figure out like, what is going wrong? And how can we figure out what we should be telling people to do. So they funded a guy named Ancel Keys to do a study. And so that study became known as the Seven Countries Study. And so what that Seven Countries Study supposedly showed was a causal relationship between saturated fat and coronary heart disease. So basically, he said, he proved that eating saturated fat, like from animal products, cause coronary heart disease. And so the government took that information and ran with it and told you don't eat eggs. Don't eat fat, right? Don't eat any of this stuff. It's gonna give you heart disease, and it's gonna kill you. But the problem with that study is that he studied like 20 plus different countries, but only chose the data from seven. So that's suspect to me. So he also took these seven countries which were primarily Mediterranean, European countries, and he was comparing them to the United States. But what he wasn't also considering is the rates of smoking in the 50s. Astronomical, right, they're telling pregnant women back then that it was totally fine for you to smoke, you think that had something to do with with the increased risk of coronary heart disease and cancer? Yeah, probably did.
The other thing that he didn't really take into consideration was back then, in the 50s, was the major rise of industrial food, right? All of this processed chemically laden, sugar infused food was becoming very popular in the United States. It stands to reason then that that played a large part in the United States in raising the rates of heart disease and cancer, but he didn't really look at that stuff. What he looked at was, hey, these countries that are in my study, they eat a lot less meat than the Americans do. So it's got to be the saturated fat. So then fats become super bad, they're gonna kill you. And it was really difficult for any study that disagreed with that to get funded or to get any play. Also, think about this. Any study that would show that cigarettes were bad. United States did not want to hear it because cigarettes were big business. any study that's going to show that sugar, corn syrup, industrial manufactured foods, all these processed foods, the cornflakes, you know, all the things that we're now eating in boxes in the 50s, the government doesn't want to show that any of that's gonna be bad for you, because that's bad for business. And what's bad for business is bad for the government. So yes, maybe that sounds a little conspiracy theorist. But when it comes to food, you got to follow the money. And the money was, let's get rid of that saturated fats. And let's pretend like none of this other stuff is contributing to these problems, then what goes really wrong is that they start taking fats out of all the products.
And if you take the fat out of the product, you take the flavor out of the product. So now we've got to enhance the flavor. Well, what are we going to do that with lots of sugar, so instead of the fact that we're in products, now we're putting tons of sugar in products, and that's where we've been ever since they also took away saturated fats and wanted you to be eating things like Crisco, they said Crisco was really good for you. And steak was really bad for you. Now, we know, there's no way that that makes sense. But that's what the science was saying at the time. Here's the thing about nutrition studies, it's really hard to prove causality, it's really hard to prove that eating this one thing causes this other thing. There's so many other factors that are going into the health of that person and how their body is utilizing food. So you can prove a lot of correlations, right? You can prove that eating this type of food a lot is correlated with these problems. Yes, you can say that. But proving actual causality in nutrition studies is really, really difficult.
So I'm glad that now and 2020 we know the importance of having fat in our diets, we know that you need it. You need fat in order to absorb certain vitamins that you might be eating vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, all fat soluble, you need fat in order to absorb those vitamins, fat in your body can help to regulate inflammation, it helps regulate your immune system, every single cell in your body has what's called a lipid layer. It's a layer of fat around yourself, that protects the cell walls, part part of the cell wall, your entire nervous system is covered in myelin that's fat. You need fat in order to achieve optimal health and functioning in your body. Now how much and from what sources? We could have a debate about that. So let's talk about it.
First, let's talk about saturated fat because it's like the evil one, right? I consider saturated fat in the healthy fat category. Now saturated fat means it's a fat that solid at room temperature. You were always told this was the really bad one but in moderation, it's not bad at this is animal fats, coconut oils, MCT oils, which is from coconut oil, butter, eggs, like actual whole milk, whole milk, butter, those saturated fats are actually not that bad for you again, in moderation. Also, these are the best fats to cook with, because they don't oxidize when they're heated, unlike the unsaturated fats that we're going to talk about.
So the unsaturated fats are the ones that you're going to consider healthy fats. So when everyone's saying like, Oh, eat more healthy fats, this is what we're talking about. So some saturated fats and then also unsaturated fats. The mono unsaturated fats things like olives, olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, macadamia, macadamia oil, almonds, Brazil, nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, lard, and tallow, those are all going to be your mono unsaturated fats, your healthy fats. Your other kinds of healthy fats are going to be those poly unsaturated, those are your omegas, your omega six and Omega three, but not all of those are going to be good. So let's talk about those polyunsaturated fats. The good ones are going to be those omega threes, the EPA, the DHA and the ALA, these are essential fatty acids, your body cannot produce them. So when you are taking like for example, I take an Omega three supplement it has EPA, DHA and ala in it because my body cannot produce those and I don't get enough omegas in my diet. These omega three fats help reduce inflammation, help with hormone synthesis, so creating hormones in your body. healthy cell membranes. Remember that lipid layer internally and also topically on top of your skin. Amazing for healthy plump skin. You're going to find these omega threes in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, you're gonna find it in dairy from grass fed animals, eggs from pasture chickens, algae, chia, flax seed hempseed, all really good sources of Omega three. So if you're not getting enough of those things in your diet, you might consider an Omega three supplement.
Now we need to talk about Omega six because this is an important fact to have. But like everything in your body, there has to be a balance. What you're looking for is a balance between omega three and Omega six and most people have too much Omega six to Omega three. You want more three than six. Okay? So omega six is your linoleic acid, your GLA these are also considered essential fatty acids but you want less of them than the Omega threes. Again these are helping with stuff Membranes with your brain function with muscle function, too many Omega sixes can be inflammatory. Especially again, if that ratio is off. If you have more six than three, most of the foods that you get omega threes from also contain Omega six. And that's why I'm always telling you that whole food diets are going to be the best food diet because whole foods are created, thank goodness with the right balance of things for you. So those Whole Foods sources like fish and eggs and dairy, are giving you the right balance of Omega three to omega six supplements of omega six like evening primrose oil barrage, oil, sometimes those are going to be recommended for people with chronic illness. Other sources of Omega six soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and you want to be really careful with those, again, because you don't want to be eating too many of those things, so that your sixes are more than your threes. Okay, we clear so far. Okay, so let's, those are the good fats. Those are the those are the kinds of fats that you want in your body. Again, that was some saturated fats. That was some mono unsaturated fats and your poly unsaturated fats.
So now let's talk about the bad fats that you're gonna want to stay away from. And again, we're talking about nutrition. So take out your judgement of yourself about what's good food and what's bad food. We're just simply talking about food that is healthier for your body and food that's not so your bad fats. The number one source for all of us have these bad fats that are that are harmful to our body. Our vegetable and plant oils, vegetable and plant oils are the absolute biggest source for us of what we call PUFAs poly unsaturated fatty acids. Now remember we talked about some polyunsaturated is okay for you and some polyunsaturated are not okay for you. Okay, so I hope I'm not confusing you too much. When we're talking about these vegetable and plant oils, they are often processed at high temperature with chemical solvents. So right off the bat, you're being exposed to a bunch of icky stuff that you don't want to be exposed to. So the plant and vegetable oils that you are staying away from corn oil, soybean, safflower cottonseed, grape seed, sunflower, canola, I'm gonna say that one more time write it down, corn, soybean, safflower cottonseed, grape seed, sunflower, canola, do not cook with them, do not ingest them do not eat food that has been cooked with them or has it in their ingredients. Now go to your pantry. And every single thing that you see in there that is in a box or a bag, that's a prepared food, I guarantee has one of those oils in it heating of these oils. So again, not just what you're using at home, but what's in these packaged foods are what you ate at a restaurant or what you ate at a fast food joint heating of these oils causes oxidation and inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the root cause of just about every single chronic disease that you could get, we do not want inflammation, it causes cellular damage at the DNA level it is damaging the DNA of your cells, it is causing oxidative stress in the liver, and they are contributing to insulin resistance. So these inflammatory oils are what you want to stay away from. And the hard part about this is that these inflammatory oils are literally everywhere. Every restaurant is using them because they're cheap. Every fast food restaurant is using them because they're cheap.
And then you've got your trans fats, your hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. So that's what you're looking for on the label of foods. These fats have absolutely zero health benefits, and there really is no safe level of consumption. These fats are used in all types of processed foods, baked goods, crackers, coffee, creamers, chips, margarine, etc. And they're added to foods in order to increase the shelf life of those foods. These trans fats, the hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated are highly linked to heart disease and inflammation. So again, going back to that Ancel Keys study, they decided then that it was the saturated fats that were highly linked to heart disease, but what we know now is that it's actually the trans fats that are highly linked to heart disease. And what they did not discover back then is how much trans fat was actually in all the processed food that they were preparing then they did not make the connection back then, but now we know better. Okay, so are we clear about the fats that we want to eat the healthy fats and the fats that we want to stay away from all those vegetable oils in the processed foods?
So how much fat should we be eating in a day? Well, it depends on who you ask. I usually shoot for somewhere between 20 to 35% Fat again last week in Episode 79. We talked about protein and I usually shoot for somewhere of about 30 to 40% protein, and so now in fat 20 to 35% Uh Again, these are just sort of ratios that you're going to need to play with for yourself, we're all a little bit metabolically different. So it's going to be a little different for each of us. So if we go back to that 150 pound person example that we were lose using from last week, that's around 44 to 78 grams of fat per day. And when we use our hand measurements, remember, we used our POM for protein and for fat, we're going to use our thumbs. So your entire thumb and about 44-78 grams of fat is about four thumbs worth of fat. So just to give you some references, here, there's 10 grams of fat, and about half a cup of avocado, there's 14 grams of fat and one tablespoon of coconut oil. And there's about nine grams of saturated fat and about nine ounces of steak, okay, so just to give you a reference range. So for example, if I was getting my fat only from avocado, I would be eating somewhere around two cups a day of chopped off avocado, if that was my only fat source, right. So just to give you a reference range there.
If you are someone who is working on consuming less calories from carbohydrates, then you would want to bump up the amount of fat. So when I teach people how to like arrange their plate, what you're looking at is about half your plate is going to be vegetables, like leafy green vegetables, non starchy vegetables, don't worry, we'll talk about that in carbohydrates next week, and then about a quarter of your plate is going to be your protein. And then that last quarter of your plate is going to be a ratio that works for you of fats versus starchy carbs. So some people like my husband does really well with slightly less fat and more starchy carbs. Me personally, I do better with more fat and less starchy carb, but that's going to be individual. And that's the piece that you're going to want to play with for yourself, what you're doing is just again, you're always just trying to keep everything in balance. One thing I want you to think about is that if you're trying to add more good fats, right, that's what everyone's telling you add more good fats add more good fats. And while I agree, you need to be aware of the overall calorie intake because if you are still eating the same amount of food, and then you add in more good fats, that's great, except you've probably now exceeded the amount of calories that you need in a day. So we need to keep that in balance. So if you're going to add more calories from fat, then you're going to need to remove a little bit of something else, okay to balance that out, because you need to consider your overall intake of energy in a day. Now, again, I know I teach you do not you do not need to count calories and you don't, but you do need to think about the overall balance of what you're eating in a day.
And we should probably then talk about keto, because I don't feel like I can have an episode about fat without talking about keto. So remember, I recommended somewhere between 20 to 35% of calories come from fat, keto is going to tell you that about 70% of your calories should come from fat. And then you're gonna have a little bit of protein and a little bit of carbohydrate, Quito was originally developed to treat epilepsy patients. And it worked. It really helped them. And there are some really interesting studies coming out right now about using a ketogenic diet to treat other brain disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, but also things like schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD, ADHD, even major depression and anxiety, because it stands to reason if I can use this type of diet to treat a brain disorder like epilepsy, then perhaps I can use it to treat other brain disorders. And so I find that fascinating, and I'm so happy that we are looking into dietary solutions for these sorts of chronic brain disorders and diseases. And it's working, which is even cooler. Now I have some concerns about using the keto diet for weight loss. And one of the problems is that when you say keto, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I have seen people do keto and they are just piling on the saturated fat all day, I am not going to recommend that remember, saturated fat is fine. But in moderation, I don't want that to be your primary fat source. I want it to be one of many fat sources make sense?
So when you see people go on keto, initially, you often see them lose some weight. And I think this has a lot to do with cutting out foods that were inflammatory, probably cutting out a lot of the packaged foods that they were eating. And no matter what your ratios of proteins and fat to carbs is if you cut out all those processed foods, you're going to lose weight and get healthier. So I think that's probably a big part of it. But also people are cutting out then a lot of things that might have been irritating them like grains and often people are just eating less calories in a day overall when they go on keto. So do I think it's just the Keto part that's helping them lose weight? Not entirely. I think there's a lot of other factors that are going on there. But I do think that turning on your body's ability to burn fat as a fuel is important.
Most of us us right now are what I would call sugar burners, our body relies on glucose consistently entering our body as a fuel source, we are not very good at tapping into stored fat in order to burn it for energy. So I do think that short term, a ketogenic diet done right could be a useful strategy in order to help your body remember how to tap into those stored fats and use them for energy. Right? If I take away the constant source of glucose energy, which is what you're doing in a ketogenic diet, if I take that away, my body is forced to figure it out, right, figure out another way to get energy. And so it has to tap into those fat stores. I do think that's useful as a short term solution to kind of reset yourself. My concern, though, is using it long term, because there's really not a lot of long term efficacy studies on a high fat keto diet for weight loss. The other concern is what does your actual ketogenic diet look like? Right, someone who is eating a lot of healthy omega three fats, healthy fats like avocado, and avocado oil, and olives, and olive oil, their health result is going to look very different than someone who is on a ketogenic diet and eating all bacon and meat and cheese. Right? Like those two results, health wise are going to look very different. So how you're doing it really matters, and then how long you're doing. It also matters. Most experts that I have listened to or studied have said that if you want to try a ketogenic diet, you're going to need to make sure you have an exit strategy, because eventually you are going to need to add more protein. So what that looks like is that you would then transition to from such a high 70% fat diet. And you're going to start tamping down the fats and bumping up the proteins and also adding in some carbohydrates because here's the ultimate thing that you're after. Right? You might think that I just want to lose weight, so whatever, I'll just do the keto diet and not lose weight. But what you're after is metabolic flexibility. The idea that your body can use glucose and fats as fuel sources, and it can switch between the two seamlessly so that you are eating a large varied diet that includes fats, carbs and proteins. In order to keep building muscle you need to get adequate protein. So that's why I have concerns about a keto diet, ketogenic diet long term. I don't think especially for us women in perimenopause and menopause and after, I don't feel like it's enough protein to keep our bones and muscles strong, long term.
So just know that that is my opinion. On the ketogenic diet, you have to do it right. And you have to have an exit strategy that gets you to a more balanced long term diet, okay? It's a short term strategy to help your body remember how to burn fat, and then you need an exit strategy to a more balanced diet. Does that make sense? Okay, I hope that was really helpful. I know I just like a buzz through so much stuff. So you might have to listen to that again and write some stuff down. It's a large subject. But the thing that I want you to hear the most for me if there is nothing else that you take away from this episode, it is this get rid of as much of those vegetable and plant oils as you can. Now remember what those vegetable and plant oils were corn, soybean, safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed, sunflower, canola, anything that's Crisco like getting rid of those highly processed vegetable and plant oils is going to make a world of difference to your health and anything that improves your health is going to improve your ability to lose weight. So when you're thinking about fats, I want you to not just think about adding healthy fats. I want you to think about getting rid of the unhealthy fats, that's going to make a huge difference. Next week, we're going to talk about carbohydrates, the thing everyone loves to hate. Until we talk again, my friend be well.
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