Can fats help us maintain our weight? Doesn’t fat make us fat? Do fats help you burn fat ? In a word: exactly.

Eating fat to burn fat?

For a long time, we thought avocados were good for more than making guacamole or adding to a good burger every now and then. But these little nutritional hand grenades were having an explosive impact on our diet throughout that time. How is that? They are infused with a key nutrient for maintaining a healthy weight: fat.

Fats are essential

Fat is not something to avoid. For starters, it is essential for normal growth and development. The fat in our diet also provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients.

Even better, it helps the body burn fat , says nutritionist and owner of the Nutritious Life meal system, Keri Glassman, RD, who recommends that about a third of the calories in any weight loss plan come from fat in the diet. diet.

Unsaturated fats

Most of the fat you eat, especially if you want to lose weight, should come from unsaturated sources, both monounsaturated (PUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA), says Glassman. Why? These good-for-you foods (such as fish, seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, just olive oil – extra virgin and cold-pressed -, and, of course, avocados) pack tons of nutrients .

In addition to removing LDL cholesterol from your arteries and promoting a healthy heart, unsaturated fat can help you burn fat big time without cutting calories. A 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that participants who consumed the most unsaturated fatty acids had lower body mass indexes and less belly fat than those who consumed the least. Why? People who ate foods with unsaturated fat ate higher quality foods.


Fat provides flavor

Not long ago, the low-fat / fat-free fad diet swept the food landscape. Manufacturers marketed everything as low-fat and fat-free, and consumers responded to all of this. It’s healthy, right? No, it is not.

In addition to stripping the body of a much-needed nutrient, low-fat, no-fat diet moves have increased obesity rates. Why? Turns out, fat provides a great component that we love about food: flavor.

When food manufacturers removed fat from their food, they had to load food with sugar and salt, which are free nutrients to increase flavor. For example, the second most common ingredient in a Kraft salad dressing is high fructose corn syrup, containing 7 grams of sugar per serving. And a packet with just one ounce of hot sauce, 350mg of sodium, – that’s 15% of the recommended daily value – who eats just one “serving” of that?

And that is only the beginning. Here are other crucial aspects that fat can help you lose weight:

“Instead of doing just one thing on a diet, we have to look at the total caloric content, as well as the quality of the food, what we are going to eat, what is” good “and it helps the immune system and the cells of our body. to stay healthy ”~ Tara Gidus, RD and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Fat burns fat

The body needs three macronutrients for energy: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. One gram of fat contains more than twice the energy of one gram of the other two. “When you don’t have any fat in your diet, it’s like you don’t have fuel to burn calories,” says Glassman.

The body requires energy to keep its metabolism working properly, and a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming fatty acids can improve metabolic health.

What’s more, “old” fat stored in peripheral tissues – around the body of the belly, thighs or buttocks (also called subcutaneous fat) – cannot be burned efficiently and without “new” fat to use. help the process, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways in the liver.

Think of mealtime like spring baseball training: hungry young players (new fat) go to the field and show the GM (the liver) that it’s time to send off the old worn out players (subcutaneous fat) to home. And they leave.

Fat keeps you full

Fat is not the easiest nutrient to digest, so it sticks around in the digestive system for longer than many other nutrients. AGMI’s (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids) can also help stabilize blood sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. That means you feel full longer, and you won’t feel like you have to raid the fridge after mealtime.

In fact, diets high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of monounsaturated fatty acids that the body can only acquire through food, create a greater feeling of fullness – immediately after and two hours after dinner – than foods with low levels of fatty acids, according to a 2008 study by the University of Navarra in Pamplona, ​​Spain.

It’s no surprise that moderate-fat dieters are more likely to stick with their meal plans than low-fat dieters.

The result? More weight lost.

Fat makes you happy

Eating delicious foods makes you happy, and it turns out that low-fat versions just don’t do the trick for a surprising reason: We can taste fat, not just salt, sugar, and other goodies in food.

Recent research from Purdue University shows that our taste buds can detect fat in food, which helps explain why low-fat foods don’t curb our fat cravings. Based on research, fat can be a totally different staple flavor than what we’ve long thought of as the four fundamental building blocks: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

On a happier note about fat, omega-3 fatty acids can increase serotonin levels in the brain, which helps improve mood, boost motivation, and keeps you from gobbling down a large pizza. 3.5% of women and 2% of men have suffered from binge eating disorders, while millions more are occasional emotional eaters, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Fat builds muscle

” Eating good fats along with an effective exercise program can build muscle, ” says Result Fitness owner and trainer Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS, who notes that gaining muscle mass is vital for increasing metabolism and burning calories. both inside and outside the gym.

In a 2011 study published in Clinical Science, researchers examined the effects of eight weeks of polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in adults ages 25 to 45 and found that fat increases protein concentration and the size of muscle cells in the body. Body. Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and may mediate muscle loss due to aging.

Fat makes food better for you

Many nutrients including vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble, which means that the body cannot absorb without fat. If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, it can lead to vitamin deficiencies and lead to dry skin, blindness, brittle bones, muscle aches and abnormal blood clotting, according to Gidus.

These vitamins are also key to maintaining energy, focus, and muscle health, all of which contribute to a healthy weight. Vitamin E, for example, is a powerful antioxidant and helps support your metabolism, while your body’s levels of vitamin D predict your ability to lose fat, especially in the abdominal region, according to a clinical study from the University of Minnesota. Medical School.

So while you can fill your salad plate with nutrients rich in spinach, tomatoes, and carrots, you really have olive oil to thank for sending the vitamins from the salad to yourself.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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