So what’s the deal with fat? Does fat make you fat or does it make you skinny? I have this discussion so often with my patients and health coaching clients that I wanted to write about it here. Fat has gotten a very bad rap over the years.
In my opinion, the low-fat craze has created a LOT of confusion for people, and not to mention a lot of obesity and chronic disease in this country. I am here to tell you that FAT is GOOD. Plain and simple. The bottom line is that it is always best to eat foods that are full-fat (the way they naturally are), than to choose the low-fat version of them. When you remove fat from a food, the natural equilibrium of it is destroyed. Let’s use milk as an example. Check out these two labels:
The part that I want to draw your attention to is the amount of sugar in each of these. The Nonfat Milk is on the left and the Whole Milk is on the right. Despite the nonfat milk having fewer calories and zero fat, it still has the same amount of sugar as the whole fat milk.
So, with one glass of milk, you may be taking in fewer calories, but a greater proportion of the calories are sugar. Do you see that? What more and more studies are showing is that it is excess sugar and refined carbohydrate intake that is creating obesity, and diabetes.
Fat provides a buffer from the sugar. What does that mean? The fat actually keeps the sugars from being broken down as quickly as they would be otherwise, so that they will not have such an immediate impact on your blood sugar levels, and will give your body a little more time to metabolize before the sugar gets stored as fat.
You see, that is the grab- sugars are stored as fat, just like fat gets stored as fat. The difference is that fat is actually a more sustaining energy source that takes longer for your body to use, which means that it takes longer before the unused energy gets stored as fat. Sugar gives a quick burst of energy, that gets stored as fat quickly if it isn’t completely used.
The point I want to make here is that good quality fats such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk (full fat), coconut meat, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado are all excellent sources of long-lasting energy. So the next time you are hungry, have a handful of nuts or seeds (and no, you don’t have to count the number of nuts you eat!). Eat as much as you want. The calories you take in will be nutrient-rich and sustaining, unlike the goldfish crackers or the granola bar you may be used to gravitating toward.
Here is a recipe that perfectly represents the power of the good quality fat I have been discussing, Coconut Chia Pudding. This is a great snack- I often make this to bring with me to work for an afternoon pick-me-up. It’s also a yummy dessert treat.
If you haven’t ever had chia seeds, you are in for a treat. Not because of their taste- they don’t have much of a taste- but because they are nutrient rich and versatile. Chia seeds are energy power-houses, full of protein, omega 3 fats, fiber and minerals such as calcium and manganese.
This recipe is very simple- just four ingredients. For a chocolatey treat, add 2-3 teaspoons of cocoa power or raw cacao powder.
Coconut Chia Pudding
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time needed: 35 minutes
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk (Native Forest brand because it is BPA-free)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- Whisk the coconut milk and honey together in a medium sized bowl.
- Add in the cinnamon and continue whisking until fully mixed in.
- Pour in the chia seeds and whisk until they are fully combined.
- Place the mixture in the fridge.
- Allow to set for at least 30 minutes, and as long as overnight.