Stop Blaming Fat

Day 60, Fast Day #29

My mother used to tell me, with the best intentions, that "only fat makes you fat."

Keep in mind that my mother has a legitimate Ivy League degree in medicine and a Master's degree in food science. As a result, I did not have much reason to question her views on health and nutrition when I was growing up or to think that things other than fat made you gain weight. However, a lot of research has been done in nutrition since my mom was last in school and I have learned to critically question everything I hear and read (especially when it comes from my mother).

When my mom went to medical school, fat was the enemy in the war against America's rising weight and weight-related health problems. Since the 1970s, the US government has been campaigning against high-fat foods (foods over 30% fat) in an effort to improve the health of Americans. Because fat has been villainized, the food industry aggressively markets "low-fat" and "fat-free" foods as healthier food choices. It is estimated that low-fat food labels may be a factor in the overeating of junk food by 65% of people who are overweight. "Low-fat" and "fat-free" does not translate into healthier, nutritious, or low-calorie. A lot of foods marketed as lower fat, reduced fat, or fat-free contain added flavoring agents like extra sugar and salt and only a slight-reduction in calories. Check the nutrition label carefully before going with a low-fat version of a food.

Scientists have figured out that fat is not the only thing that makes you fat. We now know that insulin decreases the breakdown of fat (lipolysis) and triggers the storage of fat. When we eat foods that have a high glycemic response (they trigger a rapid increase in blood sugar in the body), the human body produces insulin to remove excess glucose (sugar) from blood. Your body removes excess glucose with insulin because excess glucose is toxic. So, those sugary low-fat and fat-free options at the grocery stores can still make you gain weight by slowing down your body's ability to break down fat. Not only that, but the extra sugar overtime can lead to insulin-resistance, which can cause diabetes. Some commons foods that rate high on the glycemic index are low-fat, including: white bread, bagels, white rice, Russet potatoes, popcorn, pretzels, and a variety of cereals.

Given what we now know about insulin's role in fat storage, it is no longer fair to crusade against fat as public enemy #1, especially since America has gotten increasingly overweight over the years despite the propaganda against high-fat foods. I am not advocating eating a ton of high fat junk food by any means. I am simply advocating for an updated science-based approach to improving public health and curbing obesity. Plus, avocados are about 80-90% fat. Anyone that hates on avocados is clearly out of their mind because avocados have an array of health benefits and taste incredible.

Haters gon' hate. Fatty and healthy avocados.

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