Fat as Fuel: The Key to Fat Loss
As we continue on our ascension toward optimal health and wellness it is our duty to fully uncover the benefits of fat. After all, a healthy amount of body fat will range between 21-24% total fat composition for women and 14-18% for men. These fats that make up our stored fat percentage are vital to insulating our organs from injury and assist in temperature regulation. Fat is key in the delivery, absorption and storage of essential vitamins. In addition to our physique below the neck and beneath the skin our most fat rich inhabitant of the body is the brain. Believe it or not 60% of your brain matter consists of fats. These good fats are directly responsible for creating all the cell membranes in the body (1).
Calorically we know that fat is a much more efficient source of energy than carbohydrates. So, in addition to the numerous hormonal and Immunol functions fat has a key role in, we know it has a direct effect on the quality and quantity of energy production and output. Fat is also vital for the protection of cells located in the central nervous system. The myelin sheath is a lipid rich substance that protects the membrane of the cell. Fat is friend not foe. Fat is here to protect us and provide for us the most vital of functions necessary for Hueman life. So why is there so much negativity surrounding fat?
Do not mistake my claim here as all fat is good fat. It is the EFA’s (essential fatty acids) that are by far the most important to our brain functions. We will discuss the intricacies of the different EFA’s in, “Omega 101: A guide to Body Building” but for now I want us to really nail down our foundational knowledge on what is the standard of good fat versus the standards of bad fat versus the standards of “that will kill you so just don’t eat those fats”. My goal is for you to close this article and be able to immerse yourself directly back into life with an acute ability to make the decisions in life that deliver the best life. You should be able to read anything posted while in the parking lot of a grocery store (or in the aisle) or during a cool down stretch when food is heavy on the mind and be able to obtain valuable information that will make choosing the best foods for your goals a simple process. My goal is to shed some light on the best ways to encourage and increase synthesis that’ll provide you the best results for the work that you put in. All that said let’s get to it.
We are dealing with three classifications of fats. These classifications are based on the molecular structure of each lipid group (I know I am taking it to chemistry class but if you care about your body you will pay attention to the few formulas I do present on here from time to time. TRUST ME). The saturated content (Mono or Poly) of a fat molecule will depend on the amount of double bonds within the carbon chain. These double bonds eliminate the presence of hydrogen atoms and thus create a saturate free environment. Whereas if there is an abundant presence of hydrogen you will have a highly saturated fat. The greater degree the unsaturated content in the molecular bonds the more a substance avails itself to lipid peroxidation (rancidity, to spoil). When you have a base like a vegetable or seed oil that is processed and catalyzed by a metal compound and/or heat in order to hydrogenate it, it then becomes very dangerous to the body. So even though something may have a healthy beginning we are well aware through countless examples in our own history that change can occur for the betterment or detriment of any subject. To fail to look at our food and its original source and process (which should always be as short as possible from soil to supermarket) in the same manner is to allow ourselves to put foreign substances in our body that will have adverse effects. Major producers of these oils are slowing the process of lipid peroxidation so the product on sale may sit on the shelf longer (i.e. longer shelf life). So just ponder what that product is doing while inside your body. Waiting to be used for fuel.
Unsaturated fats are our best mates when it comes to nutrient dense immune system building macronutrients. They are extremely easy to consume as they are found in the raw form and best consumed so. Mono unsaturated fats are seriously best left to ripe organic avocados and olives, your cold pressed unrefined extra virgin olive and avocado, coconut oils. Raw almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin and hemp seeds, cashews and peanuts are all quality raw sources. It is very easy to incorporate these raw and organic nuts if you get them in the butter form or have an affinity for healthy trail mixes. An amazingly easy way to add a decadent texture and character and macronutrient rich ingredient to your smoothie, oatmeal, fruit plate, salad dressing, healthy peanut butter cup recipe or whatever you may fathom.
CAUTION: Avoid any of these seeds I have expressed above in a expeller pressed oil form. They are extremely toxic due to the methods they use to extract the oils and will be counterproductive once heated for cooking. Do not believe the hype about all these different seed oils, especially rapeseed aka canola oil, peanut, safflower and sunflower(2). These fats going in at this level need to be consistently clean and reliable. Think the Department of Transportation and its regulations on clean and conscious fuel consumption if saving this planet was priority number one.
In our consumption of polyunsaturated fats our reach can extend a bit farther. There are more readily available types of cold water fish in addition to various seeds and nuts. This is where our cholesterol, particularly our LDL (Low-Density lipoprotein), is directly increased or decreased. Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFA’s are both present in these foods and thus will be very important in one’s diet to ensure unobstructed blood pathways (i.e. healthy endothelial) which is a major factor in most pulmonary conditions and a contributor to sudden death. Wild caught salmon, trout and sardines would be your most polyunsaturated fat dense options of the seafood category. (Personally speaking, mackerel tastes like I’m licking Nemo’s little fin so I have no recipes at this moment). Contrastingly, I absolutely LOVE cooking with and devouring salmon in diverse ways (Please send me any recipes you may have or cooking methods: Especially if they are cultural innovations). Flax and hemp seeds are going to be major components in the quest for a balanced and diverse acquisition of EFA’s. Flax seed is a clean source for all 3 Omega fatty acids and comes in the raw whole form or the cold pressed oil form. It can easily be implemented into your diet as an oil base for salad dressings when your aiming for a nuttier palate. Or in smoothies, oats or over fresh fruit and raw honey.
Hemp seed is by far one of the plant kingdoms most macronutrient packed offerings. The oil contained within the hemp seed is 75-85% poly-what? You guessed it-unsaturated fat. Now I know we are speaking about fats at the moment but in order to get those fats into a state of accessibility from the consumed food, digestion must take place. The essential fatty acids provided from hemp seeds are converted into short chain fatty acids in the colon. This process begins the production of butyrate, propionate and acetate which are so important to our complex microbiota and the entire process that is digestion. (3). It is a well-rounded source of not only Linoleic Acid (LA) but also Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) and in lesser amounts Gamma-linolenic Acid (GLA). That alone is stunning information and deserves for you to add this nutrient packed seed to your diet. Hemp seed also happen to have all known 20 amino acids for the body. Nine of which we cannot synthesize on our own plus a solid fiber source. It can definitely be added to almost anything from coffee and smoothies, to salads or bowls. I really enjoy adding it to my oatmeal or roll homemade vegan raw brownies in them as an alternative to excess plant base flours (just a texture thing) or mix them 1:1 with organic shaved coconut from the bulk food isle.
Onto saturated fats we roll and I must admit here is where things will get quite dicey and convoluted. As stated previous I want to keep it simple and honest. In the form of plant-based sources I attest to the massive benefits of the healthy saturated fats in organic cold pressed unrefined coconut oil. The medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) available for fast and clean energy consumption paired with its antioxidant/antimicrobial benefits are unparalleled. Due to its unique properties coconut oil will actually stimulate fat burning and raise HDL (High-density lipoprotein) which will help protect our arterial health. The adding of this to your morning coffee or tea will assist in the early stages of intermittent fasting (if you are #bulletproof fasting) which is vital to genuinely laying claim to optimal health. This has by far the widest range of uses in the kitchen. From no bake recipes to smoothies and wilting greens this cold pressed saturated fat is a hot bargain.
Who knew that chocolate would make this list and on a weekend at that? Cacao. A natural source of raw saturated fats (and a host of other benefits that genuinely qualify this as a historical superfood). Preferably in the crushed bean form (nib) as opposed to the powder because it will provide a more complete nutrient profile. As a general rule: The closer to the original state of the food we consume, the more properties that food still has within it for our bodies to interact and benefit from. This is the true form of chocolate. Not mixed with butter and more sugar and milk proteins, lecithin and soybean oil. That is a chocolate bar built for mass distribution and warehouse storage. That is a bomb in a wrapper. Chocolate is cacao and it has profound properties. Per 30g of cacao nibs 15g are fat. Of those 15g of total fat 9g are saturated fat. I recommend getting your daily dose of this original superfood that will please on many levels.
When it comes to getting your fat sources from other animals it is vital that you revisit the circle of life poster from grade (or primary school in other countries) school. With algae at the beginning of the flow chart and the shark at the top with various sea life in between. Take note that it is no different on the land with the animals you choose to eat. There is a massive difference between a CAFO (caged animal feeding operation) derived piece of meat and a grass fed-grass finished cut of meat. The old saying rings true, “we are what we eat.” The pollution and sickness that the organism contracts prior to us ingesting them will have an effect on us and our biology. We cannot ignore that. The very cows or chickens that you are going to purchase and consume are being fed a diet of meal and parts of its fellow species, genetically modified corn and feed and whatever else can be passed off as acceptable enough to get these animals to slaughter in the most profit reaping state. The animals genuinely raised in a ‘natural living’ environment produces a genuinely natural product. So, you can guarantee that in a disease-ridden unnatural environment, for any organism, you are going to get an unnatural product. A sick product. Which is why there can be no cutting corners when you are not going to commit to giving up dairy and/or meat that has been reared in such horrendous and disgusting manners. I do not advocate for a full plant/no meat diet. I vouch for a clean, sustainable and conscious approach to healthy eating. That said you want organic pasture raised dairy giving cows and you of course do not want anything short of full fat non-homogenized milk. Grass fed unsalted butter and ghee is a great source of saturated fat and can be used in every way that coconut oil can (just remember they have different smoke points when cooking with them).
At this point I feel I should not even have to speak about Trans fats past the point of saying if you eat them you will pay for it sooner than later and most likely already are an unsuspecting victim of its snare. The body has no history with this manmade marketing tool. It is not for consumption and digestion. More and more studies are showing it is a major hazard to public safety and yet if you go to the store right now and pick up almost anything in a jar with a lid or multiple ingredients on the label you will find hydrogenated safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, cottonseed, or vegetable oil. You will even see hydrogenated coconut oil; do not get confused when you see healthy food being manipulated. You have to understand what processed food is and how harmful it is to the human body. There are too many documentaries, articles and publications on the status of processed foods and why they are so toxic to just pick one or two to cite. Type it into your search engine and take a half an hour to read up on a subject that will more than likely save your life. The bottom line on processed vegetable and seed oils as they are all very high in pro-inflammatory EFA’s, they weaken artery dilation, lower HDL, and damage the endothelial pathways. These are fats that are catalyzed by a metal compound, heated to temperatures that destroy the benefits of the fat and create something that has the opposite effect on the body. This is a major reason why you must be aware of the different temperatures that different unrefined cold pressed oils can be heated to without denaturing (making your quality E.V.O.O. forfeit its V card). They have to bleach and deodorize some of these due to the process they go through and yet they put them willingly into your children’s favorite snacks that get the most advertising and proclaim how beneficial it is because it is gluten free or fat free. Neither of which are synonymous with health-Y.
Eat raw plant-based foods. Do the research on some of your favorite healthy foods like nuts or melon or the cruciferous family. There is so much more to not only benefit from but to taste and experience than just chicken and rice, beef and potatoes, pita and lamb. Seek out new root vegetables to bring into your kitchen. Saunter through the seasons with new varieties of spice blends with your favorite veggies and vinaigrettes. Have fun and log what successes and setbacks you encounter. Identify why certain foods were very beneficial and why some did not suit you. Expand your knowledge on the health effects of processed foods and their ingredients and make a sterling effort to make the change that will change your life. Be the best you. The only you there should be.
- Reynolds, Susan. “The Skinny On Fats .” Psychology, 22 Sept. 2011. Google, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201109/the-skinny-brain-fats. Accessed 13 Aug. 2018.
- Gifford, Dawn. “Canola Oil Is Bad For You.” Small Footprint Family, edited by Dawn Gifford. Google, http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/the-inconvenient-truth-about-canola-oil. Accessed 7 Aug. 2018.
- Hemp Basics, www.hempbasics.com/shop/hemp-seed-nutrition. Accessed 13 Aug. 2018.
- Spriensma, Stephen. “”What Do Hemp Hearts Have To Do With Gut Health?”.” Goodness me. 2017. Google, goodnessme.ca/blogs/goodness-me/hemp-seeds-and-the-microbiome-effects-omega-fatty-acids-have-on-gut-health-and-inflammation.