Can Eating Fat Help You Lose Weight?
Think back to the 1990s and you’ll probably remember that diets were all about going low-fat. Everyone was avoiding fat like the plague and food manufacturers were cranking out low-fat cookies, cheeses, pretzels, salad dressings, and more. The result – Americans got fatter! 1
Fast forward to 2018 and a quick perusal of some of the most popular diets like the Ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet shows that fat is back. Can eating fats really help you lose weight? The idea of eating fat for weight loss seems counterintuitive.
There is a link between healthy fats and weight loss, but you can’t dive into this trend blindly. If you want to lose weight the healthy way, you have to understand the different types of fats and how to best use fats to facilitate weight loss.
Understanding the Difference Between Good Fats and Bad Fats
The idea that fat promotes weight loss isn’t an excuse to start bingeing on pizza, donuts, and fast food. You must understand that there’s a huge difference between good fats and bad fats, and the ones you’re choosing can affect your weight and your overall health.
The Bad Fats
The two types of bad fats – fats that you should limit or avoid as much as possible – include: 2, 3
- Saturated Fats – Saturated fats mainly come from animal sources, such as full-fat dairy, red meat, and poultry. They have the potential to elevate bad cholesterol levels and increase the risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Trans Fats – Most trans fats are chemically created through partial hydrogenation, a food processing method. They are considered to be the worst fats for you and can lower good cholesterol, increase bad cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart disease.
The Good Fats
Healthier, good fats include: 3
- Polyunsaturated Fats – Mostly found in plant-based oils and foods, these fats offer multiple health benefits, such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Monounsaturated Fats – Found in different oils and foods, such as almonds, avocados, and olive oil, these fats help lower bad cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is particularly beneficial to the heart. They’re found in certain types of fatty fish and in some plant-based foods.
Health Benefits of Good Fats
Adding good fats to your diet can offer many different health benefits. Healthy fats can help: 4-8
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol while increasing levels of good cholesterol.
- Reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Help lower blood pressure or keep blood pressure at a healthy level.
- Prevent the narrowing and hardening of arteries.
- Lower triglyceride levels, which fights inflammation and reduces heart disease risk.
- Keep insulin levels stable and aid in blood sugar control.
- Reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Prevent the development of abnormal heart rhythms.
- Reduce the risk of dementia.
- Lower the need for corticosteroids in individuals with inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Promote brain health.
Fats and Weight Loss
What’s the link between healthy fats and weight loss? How can they help you lose weight? One way they work to boost weight loss is by making you feel full. Eat more healthy fats and you’ll stay feeling full longer. This means you’ll eat fewer calories, helping you lose weight. Feeling satisfied after eating healthy fats also makes you less likely to grab those processed carbs, which add a lot of calories to your diet.
Healthy fats also help carry essential nutrients to your cells, which supports a healthy metabolism. When you eat all those fruits and veggies packed with important phytonutrients, you actually need some healthy fats to carry them to your cells, so your body can use them.
Diets rich in healthy fats can also help prevent the accumulation of belly fat, and don’t forget, many of the body’s processes require some fat to run smoothly.
While healthy fats can definitely help boost your weight loss efforts, it’s still important to pay attention to your total calorie count. Even healthy fats are high in calories, so you have to use portion control. To lose weight, you still need to have a calorie deficit. If you’re overeating, even if it’s healthy fats, it’s still going to be tough to lose weight.
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