The most common reaction to the big news - that saturated fat does not cause heart disease - is one of confusion and doubt. Sort of an, "Are you sure?" But the next thought tends to be along the lines of, "Well, maybe not. But so what? I am not going to eat it anyway because eating fat will make me fat." This is a powerful fear that we need to address if we are ever going to eat our way back to health.

We think we know that fat is fattening. Most of us have lost weight, usually temporarily, on a low-fat diet. And, fat has double the calories per gram of carbohydrates, so it must make us fat, right? And, the word itself: f-a-t... surely there is truth in the name? 

The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.
— Gloria Steinem

Here are a few reasons to 'unlearn' the idea that eating fat makes you fat. Hunger is a powerful force, especially over the course of a few years, not just a couple of weeks. You want hunger on your side. And, it turns out that fat can tame hunger in ways that carbohydrates can't. After you eat, fat receptors in the stomach and intestine dial down hunger, so fat is going to do a great job of keeping you feeling full between meals. It is uniquely satiating... probably why we think of fatty food as 'comfort food.' Secondly, insulin is your fat storing hormone, and is required for managing carbohydrates, and to a lesser degree, protein. But not fat. So if you eat more fat and fewer carbohydrates, your body will produce less insulin and spend less time in fat storing mode. (More on this here.) Moreover, insulin tends to mess with another hormone, leptin. Leptin makes us feel full and satisfied. But in an insulin-rich environment, leptin signals don't always get through. So, again, keeping insulin levels in check will make your natural appetite suppressor, leptin, kick in. It is always easier to have nature working for you, not against you.

Perhaps this is why, when you look to the science, high-fat diets out-perform low-fat diets for weight loss over and over and over again. Yes, even in this 2014 NIH funded clinical trial

Bottom line -- yes, when you dig into the details, it is extremely complicated. Way beyond our pay-grade. But simple calories-in-calories-out ignores the intricate, hormone-intensive balancing act that goes on in your body. A low-fat, calorie restricted diet can send a signal of 'lean times' throughout your body, turning down your metabolism so you burn fewer calories each day. And it makes you really hungry, which just sucks, doesn't it? So eat ample fat, without counting calories and starving yourself, and help keep your metabolism in a higher gear. And reduce refined carbs. Yes, even the whole grains. Why not check out these real-food-more-fat vintage diets...

 

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