Jan 2021
Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

Does Eating Fat Really End in Making You Fat?

Fat-rich foods

The 80’s have left us all a bit FAT PHOBIC - with the recommendations of a low-fat diet being a big part of our conditioning. 

Body fat is a reflection of “excess energy” that has been supplied,  or excess that has not been used by our body during basic functioning (similar to when your car is idling at the lights, your body needs fuel just to keep functioning) or burnt during exercise. 

So, eating more fat should make us store more of it. It seems logical. Eating excess of anything:  carbs, protein, and fat will end in stored energy (fat) 

Different Types of Fat

However, it turns out that things aren't this simple. There are different types of fat, that all do different things once we eat them.

- Saturated Fat
- Unsaturated Fat
- Omega 3, 6 and 9 fats

- Trans Fats

Fats all have different outcomes for our health - some are PRO inflammatory (cause inflammation) some are ANTI inflammatory.

Trans, Vegetable and Animal fats have a tendency to become PRO inflammatory
OMEGA 3 and 6  are ANTI inflammatories in the right amounts, and make an essential part of many of the cell walls in your body - we call these ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS - we cant make them - have to get them from our diet.

Processed foods, deep-fried, bakery goods and animals that are not grass-fed all contain omega 6. These are the fats that lead to inflammation, endocrine imbalance, and overall are detrimental to health - our food system is LITTERED with these foods. 

When we talk about fats, we look for a balance rather than eliminating all fats (not good for you at all)

The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1 or less. However, the Western diet has a ratio between 10:1 and 50:1.

Not all fat is stored as fat if it's not used - essential fats are more often used up for so many functions in the body its hard to get to a point where you are storing Omega 3 as body fat.  

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Improve heart health: Omega-3 fatty acids can increase "good" HDL cholesterol.

Reduce triglycerides, blood pressure and the formation of arterial plaques

Support mental health: reduce symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. It can also reduce the risk of psychotic disorders for those who are at risk.

Reduce weight and waist size: Omega-3 fats play an important role in weight management and can help reduce waist circumference

Decrease liver fat: helps to  decrease the amount of fat in your liver

Support infant brain development: extremely important for brain development in babies and during pregnancy

Fight inflammation: meaning they can reduce the inflammation in your body that can contribute to a number of chronic diseases.

Prevent dementia: People who eat more fish, which is high in omega-3 fats, tend to have a slower decline in brain function in old age. Omega-3s may also help improve memory in older people.

Promoting bone health: People with higher omega-3 intake and blood levels tend to have better bone mineral density.Prevent  asthma: help reduce symptoms of asthma, especially in early life.

High Fat, Low Carb Diet

Diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) have been shown to cause weight loss in numerous studies - but this relies on the types of fat - and a severe reduction in carbohydrates - so it should be done under guidance, and only for a certain period of time. 

Eating a lot of fat along with a high-carb, high-calorie, junk food-based diet will definitely make you fat - it's a combination of the carbs and refined fats that add to the picture and cause inflammation - this is where comorbidities of obesity stem from - the inflammation caused by the foods we eat.

Fat has often been blamed for the obesity epidemic, but there is nothing inherently fattening about dietary fat. It depends entirely on the context.

Sugar and refined foods are more likely to make you fat than fat from dairy, meat and ‘healthy’ sources of fats.

So which foods contain the fats we DO WANT?

Fats from:

- Oily fish, salmon sardines, cod liver oil  etc
- Seeds and nuts - chia, hemp, Flaxseeds, sunflower, pepita etc
- Grass fed animals have more omega 3 and less omega 6 than conventionally fed animals.

Here’s a great article for more information:


Jacqui Lewis
BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

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