Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Skinny on Fat

There are a lot of people out there that think, if I eat fat, then I will get fat. And rightfully so, I mean they are both the same word. Fat in food = fat on the body. Well readers, I am here to tell you, not so.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day; we were talking about low-fat muffins. If you take the fat out of a muffin, what is left? Flour and sugar. Not a good combination. Once that fat free muffin hits your digestive tract it is rapidly absorbed into your blood stream, causing blood sugar and insulin to spike. Fat helps slow down digestion and your blood sugar will remain more stable over a longer period of time. So, although that muffin with fat may have more calories, it may prevent you from eating another one later on, when your blood sugar plummets. Or it may help you only eat one instead of two because fat increases feelings of fullness. But I digress; because we all know that there are better things to eat than muffins, fat-free or full of fat.

Fat is necessary in the body for so many reasons. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. This means they need dietary fat to be absorbed by the body. If you are drinking vitamin A and D fortified skim milk, good luck getting any of that A and D.

Did you also know that our brains are made of 75% fat? This is the primary reason why doctors recommend that little ones need whole milk until age 2, while their brains are rapidly developing. But guess what? The brain doesn’t stop developing until adolescence, or perhaps even later in life according to this study. So why do we recommend low fat for kids past the age of 2?

The cell walls in our body are made of fat, both saturated fat for structure and polyunsaturated for fluidity. This helps with cell signaling, and proper metabolism. In addition, fat keeps our hair and skin supple and soft instead of dry and brittle.

Getting back to the muffins, fat in the diet also increases feelings of fullness and may help us eat fewer calories over time, which is how to promote weight loss. In 2005, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health studied weight and milk consumption in children ages 9 to 14. They found that skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, while dairy fat was not.

Yet plenty of registered dietitians promote fat free products like skim milk and suggest removing egg yolks from eggs. When will nutrition professionals stop suggesting these ridiculous ideas and start teaching people how to eat more whole, natural foods that include fat as a part of a healthy balanced diet? We need to end fat phobia and start focusing on limiting items in the diet that truly lead to weight gain and poor health, like added sugar and processed food.


  1. I appreciate your comments and information; will pass this on. I tell my clients these things too but is nice to have your blog for them!!!!

  2. Great point! Also, when people cut out fat there are other secondary effects. I recently heard a dietitian sharing research about widespread choline deficiencies because ppl are throwing out their egg yolks due to concerns over fat and cholesterol and in doing so are deprive themselves of choline and B vitamins...

  3. Great post! I hate how people won't eat foods with fat in them because they assume they are unhealthy. Another problem with reduced-fat foods is all of the chemicals needed to make them taste like they have fat in them. They become processed foods almost automatically. It was eye opening the first time I got salad dressing for my parents after my dad got diabetes. I couldn't get the lower-fat version they always had used-the second ingredient was sugar!
    The part about babies needing whole milk is interesting. We drink skim milk because we both grew up drinking it, and we drink a lot of it (about a gallon every other day) so probably could benefit from the whole version. Or the babies and I could for sure.