This is Part 3 in the Nutrition series.
Fat is the most energy-rich, calorie-dense nutrient. Our bodies use energy for life, so our bodies love fat. That’s why it makes things taste so delicious.
We measure the energy of food in units called calories, which represent the heat released in the chemical reaction of metabolism. Healthy fats are full of healthy, energizing calories. Fats also play an essential structural role in all life processes, including cell membranes and the functioning of the nervous system.
The low-fat, low-calorie craze that has been ongoing for decades is one of the most misguided and detrimental fads in the history of popular nutrition. Eating zero-calorie, fat-free food is like breathing oxygen-free air. It is not only absurd, it is also quite dangerous. Of course, obesity and heart disease are both very real problems, and over-consumption of fat (especially animal fat and unhealthy hydrogenated oils) does play a part in both of those conditions, but cutting all fats out of our diets is not the healthy solution.
Healthy fats from whole foods contain many times more calories than both proteins and carbohydrates, and so they are an excellent source of energy. And because fat is so energy rich, it is the perfect way for the body to store energy for later. The idea it is bad to have fat as part of our bodies is as foolish as saying that it is bad for a cars to have gas in their tanks. About 25% of our total caloric intake should be from healthy fats, and at least 10-20% of our body weight should be from fat. Nuts, seeds, avocados, salmon, sardines, anchovies, and dairy products are all excellent whole food sources for healthy, unsaturated fat. Eggs and red meat are higher in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, so those are best eaten in moderation. A few ounces of red meat and one egg provide us with all of the protein and most of the fat we need for a day.
Some people’s bodies tend to build up unhealthy amounts of cholesterol, which can accumulate in the circulatory system and cause heart disease and stroke. Saturated fats and foods high in cholesterol are recognized as part of the problem, and people are advised to eat less foods that are high in those kinds of fat. Middleway Method agrees that there are healthier fats than those found in deep-fried foods, coconut oil, and fatty meats cooked at high heat. Fats from avocados, sardines, anchovies, salmon, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and other foods high in unsaturated Omega-rich foods are proven to be exceptionally nutritious, and not associated with heart disease and stroke. If a person can afford those foods, they are good to eat. However, it isn’t necessary to eat those foods if you can’t afford them. Instead, simply eat less red meat (no more than 3 ounces a day), less fried foods (almost none), and no foods containing hydrogenated oils (many packaged foods). One egg and one cup of milk or yogurt, plus some peanut butter is plenty. The real cause of cholesterol build-up is not consumption of cholesterol, but the environment and metabolic state of the digestive system and cells. Reducing the consumption of red meat and eating more nutritious fruits and vegetables improves the digestive and metabolic environment.
Use a simple calorie calculator to determine approximately how many calories you need each day. Log your daily food intake, figure out how many calories from fat you usually eat, and then adjust your intake so that about 25% of your calories are fat from whole foods. This assumes that you are exercising 3-5 days a week for at least 45 minutes with a light to moderately elevated heart rate. If you aren’t, and you have no disability holding you back, then start today. Just walk up a hill.