There has long been a shroud of uncertainty about the role that fat plays in our health and how it should ultimately be banished from our diets. But the truth is, this shift away from consuming fats has not made us healthier and is not to blame for problems such as obesity.
Whether you’re on the keto diet or not, your body simply needs fat to function properly. Fat is a major source for energy, it helps your body absorb different minerals and vitamins, it’s needed to build cell membranes, and is essential for muscle movement, blood clotting, and inflammation, among other important functions.
In this article, we’re going to review how exactly fat got its bad rap, the difference between good fats and bad fats, and the science behind it all so you can proceed on your ketogenic journey without worrying about fat making you fat.
Let’s get right down to brass tax, are fats good for you or not? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It’s reputation for being bad for you isn’t entirely unjustified, simply because there are certain types of fat that can play a dangerous role in health issues like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
Some are better than others and can even promote good health. The key is knowing the difference so you can make informed decisions about what foods you consume on your diet.
While there is more and more research emerging about dietary fats—AKA fatty acids—, let’s get some of our facts straight. While some fats have undeniably led to negative effects on heart health, others have been found to offer powerful health benefits.
While all foods and oils contain a mixture of fatty acids, the main type of fat they contain is what determines if they are “good” or “bad”.
Some fats you should be reducing or eliminating completely from your diet are unhealthy processed trans fats and polyunsaturated fats, as they can be damaging to your health.
Processed trans fats are created during the production of food through the processing of polyunsaturated fats. This is why you should only be consuming polyunsaturated fats that are not processed and not altered or overheated.
Some fatty foods that are not only harmful to your health, but will also contribute to significant weight gain are:
- Processed foods like crackers, cookies, margarine, and fast food
- Processed vegetable oils like sunflower, cottonseed, soybean, and canola oils
Saturated fats have been seen as harmful for heart health for years, however, recent research has shown that there is no significant link between these fats we’ve been consuming for thousands of years and the risk of heart disease.
On the contrary, there are actually plenty of health benefits that come with incorporating saturated fats in your diet.
Some health benefits of saturated fats on the keto diet include:
- Boosting immune system health
- Maintenance of bone density
- Support in the production of essential hormones like testosterone and cortisol
- Increase of HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood to prevent the buildup of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the arteries
You can find saturated fats in foods like red meat, cream, eggs, butter, and plenty more foods.
So if fats aren’t responsible for making us fat, then what is? One of the major factors involving weight gain is actually insulin. When our bodies put on more body fat, it produces more of the hormone leptin, and is a survival mechanism telling your body to stop gaining more weight.
By eating foods with sugar (fructose), it leads to both an insulin and leptin resistance, something common in obese people.
By eating excess carbs and proteins, it goes through the liver and stimulates the production of insulin which tells the body to burn sugar and store any excess as glycogen or fat.
Consuming more dietary fat, on the other hand, goes directly into the body’s systemic blood circulation and stored into fat cells. This essentially means that by fat bypassing the liver, it does not need an increase in insulin.
In a nutshell, when our body’s are unable to process insulin correctly through the consumption of processed carbs, it leads to a spike in insulin levels which then stimulates your brain to consume more.
Unlike healthy fats, processed carbs like sugar and bread do not adequately fill your stomach up or improve metabolism. It will only leave you hungry after a couple hours.
People often turn to the keto diet because of its ability to help them drop pounds through cutting out carbohydrates and increasing fat intake. This pushes your body into a state of ketosis, which ultimately allows your body to use fat for energy instead of carbs.
Fat burning is just one of many benefits that come with the keto diet.
Some others include:
- Improve overall health
- More physical activity
- More self-control
- Fewer cravings
- Feeling more satiated throughout the day
All of these benefits contribute to weight loss.
As you can guess, consuming the right kinds of fats on the ketogenic diet is incredibly important to reaching your weight loss goals when done right.
How much fat you should be consuming on a daily basis can vary from person to person and depends on a few things, such as your age, weight, height, etc.
Once you calculate how much fat is right for you, don’t shy away from satisfying your belly with the fatty foods your body needs.