It’s time to do a little myth smashing. For quite some time we’ve all been taught that the way to lose weight is to cut fat out of our diets. And in more ways than one, fat has been unfairly singled out as the main enemy in our battle against the bulge. But believe it or not, our bodies actually need fat to survive, to stay healthy, and even to lose weight. In fact, eating a low fat diet could actually be what’s keeping, or even making you fat! The reality is shocking: most low fat and fat-free snacks found on the shelves in the grocery store are nowhere near as healthy as you think. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the nutrition labels of those types of foods and you’ll see that they’re actually full of sugar. Yes SUGAR! The very thing that is going to screw with your insulin levels and push your body into becoming a fat storing, instead of a fat burning machine. Thing is, fat is what gives a lot of foods its flavor. So when you eliminate or lower the amount of fat in food, you also remove the flavor. To fill that void, manufacturers add sugar to make sure their product still tastes good.
To top it off, we’ve been tricked into feeling “safe” when we overindulge in low fat foods. Namely we feel “safe” if/when we overindulge in “fat-free” goodies. We think: Why not have an extra one (or ten) cookies? They’re low in fat. So they won’t make me fat. Yippee! Problem is, instead of fat, you’re now cramming a bunch of “low fat” sugar bombs down your throat- which is in turn making you (you guessed it) FAT.
And even if you don’t find sugar itself listed on the nutrition label (which is rarely the case in low fat foods), you’ll still need to watch out for sugar’s sneaky cousins like sucralose, aspartame, and sacchrin. And it doesn’t stop there. The list of artificial sweeteners and chemical additives to foods goes on and on. So the important thing to remember is this: Food that’s filled with artificial ingredients will wreak havoc on your hormones, confuse your body, and prevent you from losing weight. Another common mistake I see dieters make is grabbing an otherwise healthy food that’s been converted to an unhealthy “low fat” version. Take low-fat fruit flavored yogurts for example. Again, sugar is usually one of the main ingredients! So while it may have been better to just get some plain yogurt and add fresh fruit to it yourself, you now have a “low fat” version that’s been loaded up with sugar. Kinda defeats the whole supposed low fat benefits.
So here’s the take home message: Keep it simple and eat the regular full-fat version of your favorite foods, while keeping an eye on portion size.
Also, if you practice clean eating and fill your plate with real, whole foods, you won’t need to stress over making sure you’re eating “low fat.” Start getting out of the mindset that fat is the enemy. Our bodies need fat to carry out vital functions, and our bodies also need fat to absorb essential vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins, which means they need fat in order for your body to absorb them. So if the fat’s missing from your diet, these vitamins will simply get flushed out of your system.
It’s also important to focus on eating foods that contain healthy fats like monounsaturated fats (abbreviated MUFA’s) and essential fatty acids (EFA). Foods that contain these types of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds and fish. These are all clean foods that pack a healthy punch of healthy fats. Remember, fat is not the enemy. Learn to fuel your body with real food (and yes, even fat), and you’ll be on your way to a fitter and healthier you. – Doc