Fat Friends & Foes

Last week was a very interesting week one with my low carb behavioural change groups. I would encourage any low carb GP or nurse to start one- if you are a GP or nurse reading this, ask to observe one if you want. If you are a patient, tell your GP or nurse about this blog. I have an 8 week plan we work through and you can see it here. You and they will benefit from the economy of scale ( maybe 20 people in an hour rather than 4-6) and we all learn from each other. People come weekly or monthly and can follow the other weeks on the blog as they go.

2 more members who started in May have now reversed their diabetes and are off medication- fabulous!! It is less than 3 months from starting and I will ask them to keep checking their blood glucose from time to time and HbA1c annually to make sure they are on track but they have achieved their goals and are delighted 😃

On a different note I overheard one member tell someone that what I advise was ‘just a high fat diet'(that is an oversimplification and not how it sounds- I will explain why), and another told me he was confused because his cardiology team had told him 3 years ago to follow a low fat diet. This had been after heart surgery, so was clearly very important to address this issue with him. I feel confident about what I mean by healthy fats are so let me explain. I have the back up of secondary care colleagues on this.

One colleague, a cardiologist, tells his patients that a healthy diet is one that consists of

“Oily fish, quality animal and plant proteins, extra virgin olive oil, berries and leafy green veg – YES

Bread, Rice, Potatoes, Added sugars, Biscuits, Cakes, confectionery – No”

This blog is an attempt to help you form a view on which fat foods should be part of a healthy diet.

Food rarely comes as just fat.

There are fat and sugar/starch combinations- like in donuts , cakes, biscuits, chips and crisps- always bad in everyone’s books. We all agree!

There is the fat in meat, chicken and eggs, and some doctors believe this raises your cholesterol. What I say is that rarely happens and you can prove whether it does or not by having a lipid test. If your lipids are normal, you can relax about your intake of natural fats. Cholesterol is a very complicated business and you can read in more detail here.

There are seed oils like sunflower and rapeseed, which are now known to change to trans fats at high temperature, and this is bad. We all agree about trans fats but some doctors do not know that seed oils change to trans fats at high temperatures.

Trans fats are in margarine too and trans fats are bad. Look up trans fats and you will see. We all agree on this too.

Olive oil is not stable at high temperatures, so enjoy it on salads and vegetables. We all agree!

Coconut oil is stable at high temperature so use it in cooking or frying. Some doctors may believe it raises the cholesterol but you can prove that it doesn’t with a simple lipid blood test.

Palm oil- I’m not sure about this so don’t advise it, and it is more of an ingredient in processed foods, than something you buy to cook with.

Nut oils – use these in dressings but not in cooking, as they are not stable at high temperatures.

Salmon, avocados, olives and nuts – we all agree that the natural fats in these foods are part of a healthy diet. Just don’t overdo nuts as it is easy to do so, and they can contain a lot of carbs too. Avoid peanuts and cashews.

Now the other question- is the way of eating I advocate a high fat diet?

It depends on if you are overweight or not..

Some people in my groups are not overweight, and for them the natural fats in foods are a source of energy, fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids which are needed for bodily and mental health.

Most people start my groups overweight and for them I say…

Your stored body fat is a source of energy, and if you plan to use it all that is where most of your fat will come from, so in that sense it is a high fat diet, but you don’t need to eat a lot because you already have it in you. 3500 calories per pound, it is said. This stored energy is what you use up when you want to lose weight. You are using this stored body fat as energy, so your diet is always high in fat- from YOU, before you even consider what you eat.

In fatismyfriend, I encourage overweight people to eat real, unprocessed foods and not worry about the fat content of food, as long as they are losing weight each or most weeks. The mainstay of this way of eating is not DIETARY fat if it is coming from your body fat. Once you have lost your excess weight then you will need fat from food, in the natural way it comes from nature. This is to ensure that you get enough energy, essential fats, and fat soluble vitamins. I would argue that this a “healthy fat , normal fat” way of eating, and if your cardiologist is happy with your lipid profile, then you will have no cause for concern.

Final word..

Zoe Harcombe PhD has some sensible things to say about fat so take a quick look.