Oil makes you fat, right?
Oil makes you fat, right?
Oil makes you fat, right? That might seem a rhetorical question on first consideration. Over decades of being told by health authorities to eat less fat to control our expanding waistlines, the idea that eating fat makes you fat is pretty ingrained.
 
In reality, the way forward for good health and weight control is to lose our fear of eating fat.
 
Instead, embrace good fats! Eating healthy fats, such as those found in extra virgin olive oil and nuts, can help you to control your weight and reduce fat being deposited around your waist over the years. Furthermore, healthy fat diets are shown to be better than reduced fat diets in terms of effects on cardiovascular disease risk. A win-win for healthy fat!
 
So what exactly does it all mean? There are several reasons to choose good fats (like extra virgin olive oil and nuts) and it all comes down to understanding the bigger role of fat in the diet.
 
  • Fat slows down food leaving the stomach. The presence and volume of food in your stomach are factors that signal feelings of satiety so that you stop eating. So if food is around for longer, you feel fuller for longer.

  • Fat slows down digestion, meaning that any carbohydrates in the meal are broken down and absorbed more slowly. In other words, fat added to a carb-containing meal (think extra virgin olive oil on pasta or drizzled over bread) reduces the overall GI, helping to control blood glucose levels. The knock-on effect of this is that you delay the return of hunger so you are less likely to snack and a small blood glucose rise requires less insulin. That’s a good thing since insulin encourages fat storage.

  • When you try to reduce fat in your diet you have to replace it with something else. Usually that means more carbohydrates and often these end up being all the wrong carbs. Low fat products are often high in refined starch (white flour) and added sugars, clearly not helpful for weight control.

  • Monounsaturated fats, such as the dominant fat in extra virgin olive oil, seem to be less readily stored than other fats as belly fat. So this is a particularly plus for using this oil over other types of oils and fats.

  • When we eat more fat, metabolic systems adjust and we burn more fat. Of course this means we still have to burn the fat we are eating, but provided we don’t overeat, this subtle shift can help us to be effective fat burning machines.
 
 
Make extra virgin olive oil your pantry staple and use it every day. Cook with it (yes that’s safe and I’ll cover this in a future post), drizzle with it, roast with it, bake with it (it makes for awesome muffins and banana bread) and make it the base of your salad dressings.
 
And promise me you’ll never buy a bottle of low fat salad dressing ever again!



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