The idea of eating more fat in a culture that still decries it may feel deeply counter-intuitive. But like so many aspects of good health, our understanding is often at odds with the facts. And one of them is that – for all that health mantras pound us with the need to have a low-fat diet – your body needs fat.
Indeed, while you can have too much fat in your diet – moderation is key – many fats are physiologically essential: linoleic and alpha linoleic acids are just two that our bodies cannot produce and which must be consumed. Others are critical in certain situations. And yet others are necessary in as far as they make food taste of something we want to eat – extra virgin olive oil, butter, avocado oil.
We need a certain amount of fat intake. The problem is knowing what we need and how much of it. But there are pointers – signs in the body – that you’re not getting enough. You may be likely to experience them if you’re one of the many on a low carb regime with the intention of losing weight – because if you cut back on carbs, you have to increase fats to compensate for the missing energy. And that’s even while you’re burning the body fat you’re keen to shift. If you feel you performance level drop, the answer may well be not to increase your carb intake, but your saturated fat intake. Without enough of that, the male body can’t produce testosterone, and without that recovery from working out is stilted, and the desire to make out even more so.
A low carb diet can dull the brain too. Low carbs means less glucose is available for brain function. To replace that your body needs ketones – those by-products of the body breaking down fat for energy, the things your body turns to when food isn’t available, during fasting for example; and what increases ketone availability? A diet consistent in fatty acids – of the kind found in avocado or the supplement MCT oil, with a good dose of krill oil on the side. Access to ketones also allows the brain to better take up glucose too.
Do your joints sometimes ache? Yes, you may have an injury, or arthritis. But again fat – fatty fish especially – is crucial to reducing inflammation and thus your body beginning to tackle the underlying problem. Eating more fat an also increase your HDL or high-density lipoproteins – the ‘good’ cholesterol, of the kind found in coconut oil. What else increases your HDL? Regular exercise for one, weight loss (for the overweight) another.
Are you always still hungry after a meal? That could be because it’s eating fats that gives the sensation of being satisfied, which is why low carb but high fat diets are especially recommended for those whose appetites are running amok. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats – olive oil, avocado oil and the like – all have an effect on the hormones that work to convince you you’re feeling full.
To that end maybe you should eat more vegetables, for the essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre they provide. We know, we know – plain vegetables just aren’t very appetising. They don’t taste of very much. The solution? Of course – toss them in butter – fat – and they become that much more palatable.