We live in a sea of confusion. Confusion over food, environment issues, relationships, career choice etc. As a fitness studio owner and champion for good health, I have found myself confused for decades. With diet trends like Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, Macro counting and a slew of others, why wouldn’t we be confused about what kinds of food constitute a “healthy” diet. We have turned our back on carbs and are embracing the “healthy” fats of avocados and nuts like never before. When did fat become the cool kid?
I have been studying, experimenting with and researching, the diets listed above, for over 2 years. By studying, I mean, understanding the theory behind the claims, by experimenting, I have tried and tracked each one for several months and by researching, I have looked for clinical evidence that would back up the claims of these diet giants. Paleo and Ketogenic diets are of particular interest to me, as it seems I know many people adopting their programs.
Is there such thing as healthy fat? Does your body treat animal fat different than fat from plants? (ie.nuts, seeds etc)
Well, recently there has been many “revelations” about plant fat vs. animal fat. Revelations, is a strong word. The fact is, scientists have known for decades that consuming animal fat will put us at a higher risk for developing Coronary Artery Disease, while consuming fats from seeds, nuts, avocado’s etc, may have the opposite effect. The difference is simple. Animal fats contain saturated fat and Cholesterol, known to be the highway to heart disease, while plant fats offer multiple vitamins, polyphenols, and contain ZERO Cholesterol.
By no means, does this mean we should eat all the plant fats we can find, especially if you are diabetic, or have heart disease already. Replacing your usual source of fat from animal to plant may be a good way to think about developing a new habit, but certainly not by adding more to your plate, just because plant fats are now deemed “healthy.”
Back to the high fat diet crazes that are sweeping the nation, just stop already! Eliminating carbohydrates so you can stuff your face with fat will not improve your performance at the gym, it will not help you keep your arteries clear to pump blood efficiently, it will certainly not prevent any common diseases, it will not make you younger or deemed cooler, however here is what it will do:
“In one study, young, healthy subjects were put on a Paleolithic diet along with a Crossfit-based, high-intensity circuit training exercise program. As has been shown with exercise, stomach-stapling surgery—and tuberculosis and chemotherapy, for that matter—losing weight typically causes a drop in cholesterol levels no matter the diet. Researchers found the opposite in this case: After ten weeks of a Paleo diet with hard-core workouts and weight loss, participants’ LDL (bad) cholesterol levels rose and did so more dramatically in those who started the study the healthiest. Exercise is supposed to improve health and well-being, not compromise it.” Dr. Greger, author “How Not To Die” and Founder of NutritionFacts.Org
It really should be common sense, that we should not give up on an entire food group in order to obsess over another one, just so we can chisel out our core and blend in with the crowd. Complex carbohydrates, that are high in fiber and are completely devoid in high fat diets, are crucial in our diets to help aid in digestion and act as a pot scrubber along our artery walls. Why on earth would we want to eliminate them? To be very clear, complex carbohydrates will not make you fat. Below is one of my teacher’s guide to foods that should be included in your diet daily to prevent disease, to aid in weight loss and feel great. Do your homework before jumping into any “diet” program and think about long term effects of your choices.
It is clear that if you are looking for vanity weight loss, any diet that you stick to will work, which makes it important to have a personal reason for your choice. If it is to “be more healthy” you may want to re-think the trending diets and get back to a food of whole foods, moderate plant fats, minimal animal proteins and loads of vegetables and fruit that you can see yourself eating for years to come. Personally, I eat to improve my health, to create healthy gut bacteria, to prevent common disease, to have more energy, to extinguish counting macros and calories, from the fitness arena, to trust and listen to my body, and to help my clients and family follow suit. If you are raising children, and they are watching you count, restrict, and obsess I challenge you to change your ways for their sake.
Statistics and Facts on Dieting and Disordered Eating.
Disordered eating is different than an eating disorder. A person who worries about their looks and as a result their eating patterns are disrupted, but does not have an eating disorder, might fall into this category.
- 51% of girls 9 and 10 years old feel better about themselves when they are dieting (11).
- A 2002 study of boys in grades 9 and 10 found that 4% of them reported anabolic steroid use. This shows that body preoccupation and efforts to change one’s body are concerns that affect both women and men (12).
- 40% of girls in grade ten and 37% of girls in grade nine thought of themselves as being too fat. Of those students that were “normal weight” based on their BMI, 19% still thought that they were too fat, and 12% of the students admitted to trying to lose weight (13).
- Body-based bullying can have a severe impact on a girls’ attitude and behavior. Girls who suffered teasing by members of their families were 1.5 times more likely to try binge eating and/or other dangerous weight-control methods within five years (14).
- 91 % of women who were surveyed on a college campus had tried to control their weight by dieting, and 22% of them dieted “often” or all the time (15).
Food for thought..