Fat: the infamous double-edged sword

by Khushboo on June 28, 2010

Who isn’t trying to run a mile away from the term ‘fat’??  For the longest time, the thought of adding so much as a drop of oil to my meals would make me shudder.  As weight loss essentially comes down to reducing your overall calorie intake, surely the easiest solution is to cut back on fat. And I won’t lie, sticking to a low-fat diet definitely did produce the results.  However,looking back, I don’t think it’s necessarily the best route. 

Even though fat is relatively calorie-dense, staying clear of all kinds of fat is the last thing I would recommend.  Yeah, theoretically you will save on the calories but at the same time, all it will do is leave you more hungry and vulnerable to a binge.  Coming from the girl who needs to end every meal on a sweet note, even just adding a teaspoon of peanut butter to a few apple slices goes a long way.  The creaminess sure hits the spot. 

Moreover a lack of willpower doesn’t cause cravings.  It may the reason why we resign to giving into them but the cause behind cravings is a tad more scientific than that.  It’s more likely that your diet is lacking in an essential nutrient.  For example, your craving for a fat, juicy burger could actually be down to the fact that your diet is lacking in protein or healthy fats.  Hence, it is SO important to maintain a balanced diet, which fat features in.

Believe it or not, fat does more than just cling to areas of our body where we wish it wouldn’t. They:

  • Act as a major source of energy, especially for those on a low-carb frenzy
  • Control inflammation, blood clotting, and brain functioning
  • Maintain healthy hair/skin 
  • Help the body absorb and transport vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Provide insulation and cellular structure

On top of all this, consuming just a bit of fat with each meal does wonders for both taste and satiety levels.  Adding some flaked almonds to cereal or a handful of pine-nuts to salad makes all the difference.

Here’s a little summary of the 4 main kinds of fat:

  • Avoid TRANS FATS, which are mainly found in many junk foods, margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and commercial sweets such as cakes, cookies, and doughnuts.
  • Eat small quantities of SATURATED FATS.  These are found mainly in animal products like red meat, butter, and cheese.
  • Include POLYUNSATURATED FATS (PUFAs), especially as they are great sources of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3’s and 6’s.  These are found in oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) to sunflower/rapeseed oil, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.

And now for the crème de la crème of fats (saturated fat-free of course 🙂):

  • MONOUNSATURATED FATS (MUFAs), which are found in nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds), avocado, oil (canola & olive).

To put it simply, fat is a double-edged sword.  What can make you pack on the pounds and increase the risk of various diseases CAN ALSO aid weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy heart.  The key is to distinguish between ‘bad’ and ‘good’ fats and consume more of the latter.  Just be sensible with your portions when consuming healthy fats (yes, there goes your fantasy of eating peanut butter straight out of the bottle) and you will surely reap the benefits, both inside and outside your body

* And if this isn’t convincing enough, have a look at the diet of Spanish (and other Mediterranean) chicas.  They thrive on virgin olive oil, yet look pretty damn good to me!

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