Good Fat / Bad Fat and My Top Five Faves
Good Word / Bad Word : FAT
Have you ever stopped to consider how odd it is that we use the very same word to describe one of our three key macronutrients, an essential part of our survival as well as to categorize someone who is at an unhealthy weight?
In our society today, it sure sounds like a bad word.
As such, in keeping with our conditioning that began a few decades ago, preaching that the macronutrient version of the word was something we needed to avoid in order to not embody the bad, overweight version of the word has helped lead us down the path to being fat-phobic, but of the wrong fat.
Sure, no one wants to become overweight, but if we follow a real, authentic human way of eating which includes far more fat (the good word) than we’ve been told we need, we won’t have to fear becoming fat (the bad word).
Fat the macronutrient is absolutely integral in our body’s ability to function properly.
Triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.
Furthermore, the cycle of making, breaking, storing and mobilizing fats is at the core of how humans and all animals regulate their energy.
Fats help the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. The so-called “fat-soluble” vitamins—A, D, E and K—are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues. (1)
None of the above is likely revolutionary information to anyone, but it’s important to remember that we actually need to be eating fat.
What’s trickier, is knowing what fat to eat and from where to get it, and how much.
Sourcing of fat, just like the other macro nutrients is of utmost importance and one fat is far from being equivalent in nutrition to another fat.
Comparing the fat you’d ingest if you were to cook in canola oil in a pan to prepare some eggs to what you’d nourish your body with if you used, instead, tallow from grass-fed cows is akin to comparing the proverbial apples to oranges.
For years, we thought that canola oil was our friend, myself included in this picture. In part, this was true as it was originally created in the 70s naturally, but in the mid 90’s, Monsanto came up with a GMO version.
Do you know what it even is?
Canola oil is a Canadian invention that’s backed by Canada’s government, cheap to manufacture, and many packaged or processed foods contain it. As of 2005, 87 percent of canola grown in the U.S. was genetically modified, and by 2009, 90 percent of the Canadian crop was genetically engineered. (2)
Canola oil works well as an industrial oil and has been used in candles, soaps, lipsticks, lubricants, inks, biofuels and even insecticides. (3)
There are reports that it has caused many kidney, liver and neurological health issues. This makes sense since there are other reports that GMO products like corn and soy also can cause negative health effects.
Let’s compare this to grass fed tallow.
High in CLA, (conjugated linoleic acid) consuming grass fed meats and tallow provides a multitude of benefits including fat reduction, increase in lean muscle mass, reduced risk of diabetes, reversal of arteriosclerosis, and a marked reduction in tumor growth (4).
Studies have even shown its high content of CLA helps in fat loss (the bad word!) (5)
Perhaps the easiest way to look at it is to think about what fats occur naturally and which have been manipulated, adulterated and so highly processed, it would be hard to even think of them as food any more.
Avocado, yes. Olive oil, yes. Coconut oil, yes. These three are perhaps the ones that are the easiest of all go-to fats, but don’t deprive your body of the health benefits of incorporating the humanely sourced animal fats, too.
Duck fat, grass fed tallow, pasture fed lard… you get the idea.
That depends on many factors but chances are you can afford to eat more than you currently are.
The trick, of course, is not simply adding fat to your current regime without decreasing the amount of calories you’re currently getting from carbohydrate (including fruit) and possible protein, if you’ve taken to following a high protein protocol.
To say one should eat unlimited amounts of fat is inaccurate. Too many calories are too many calories.
However, if we eat enough fat, we’re much more satiated versus too little fat so, when balanced, we tend naturally to end up perhaps slightly lower in calories anyway.
It’s not one-size fits all, so giving a recommendation that everyone should do what I do would be inappropriate.
You may find like I do that a combination of keto and paleo is what suits you best, but both approaches to eating, while safe and sound when properly implemented, are easy to get wrong with all the products that have come to market.
I feel my best when I intermittent fast on Mondays and Tuesdays after longer training on the weekends, getting my fat from my top five faves (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, duck fat and grass fed ghee / MCT in my tea), then as the week progresses, adding in some strategic carbs around workouts… and work.
There’s a time and a place for a Paleo smoothie or a keto energy bar, but without knowing the basics of macronutrient balance, one can still find themselves low on energy, foggy minded and even carrying around too much fat (the bad word).
Short of working with an expert on keto or paleo, one simple manner of transitioning into a higher-good-fat type of eating approach is to track your intake as it is, as well as how you currently feel, how you sleep, how often you use the bathroom and how you perform, not just in sport but in life.
Then test out a day where your calories remain the same, but instead of four servings of fruit during the day, add veggies and some fat, keeping protein roughly in the moderate range.
See what your macros look like then, and notice how you feel.
Notice how you feel.
The key to any successful eating regime is to always listen to your body and know when too much is too much and vice versa.
Simply put, if your template of a daily plate consists of a plethora of in season, local, sustainable veggies, a palm sized amount of mindfully sourced protein and a lot more fat than you thought you needed, you’re in great shape.
Bonus: you have that little something extra for wiggle room. Glass of vino? Premium dark chocolate? You’ve got it.
When you’re eating real food and moving, you’re building the very foundation of your own path towards optimal health.