If you navigate the middle aisles of the supermarket you’ll see a lot of food products labelled as low-fat or fat-free, as if to imply in a not-so-subtle manner that they are healthier or better for weight loss than their high-fat competitors.
While a low-fat diet is generally a healthy one to follow, there are some fats that we need in higher amounts compared to the other types in order to attain radiant health, and to achieve quicker and more lasting weight loss.
Why people are paranoid or obsessive about their fat intake
It was the diet gurus in the 90s who managed to demonize fat as the biggest underlying cause of being overweight and obesity.
This made a lot of people either paranoid or obsessive about their fat intake, but it’s this severely flawed fat-free mentality that has ironically made the United States the fattest country in the world.
Thanks to the indiscriminate bad rap that fats got from the earlier wave of weight loss “experts,” the recommendation to increase one’s consumption of dietary fat for weight loss usually sounds counter-intuitive and even dangerous to some.
No, we are not going to ask you to develop a ravenous appetite for chicken wings that are deep-fried in lard (beware; some popular fast food chains do fry their meat in lard!).
Neither are we encouraging to you to hoard on full-fat cream and butter.
The 2 kinds of healthy fats that we are presenting on a golden platter are mono-unsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids, more popularly known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) or omega fats. This article will focus on the latter.
Meet your fat-burning fats!
Essential fatty acids are just what they are—they are vital for a plethora of quotidian, life-sustaining biological processes that our bodies have to carry out for our survival and health as a species.
The two other scientifically validated facts about EFAs are:
(1), our bodies cannot make them on their own, and
(2), they are easily corrupted by heat.
So we have to obtain them from food sources, and that they should not be damaged as much as possible.
What else do Essential Fatty Acids do?
Yes, they speed up weight loss in many ways. We’ll get to that in a bit. What else do EFAs do?
Well, they only lower your cholesterol levels, prevent hypertension, stroke, and a number of cardiovascular problems such as arrythmia, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and heart disease.
You don’t want to just lose weight, right? You also want to enjoy overall health and wellness. Which is why you need to bump up your omega fat intake without further delay.
Why Omega-3 fatty acids are also your best allies when it comes to weight loss
The 2 major kinds of essential fatty acids are omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats. In the last several years omega 3s have gained a lot of popularity in numerous health circles, not excluding traditional Western medicine. There are very good reasons why.
Apart from having anti-diabetes, anti-cancer, cardio-protective, neuro-protective, stress-busting, and immune-boosting properties, omega-3 fatty acids are also your best allies when it comes to weight loss.
Your body needs these EFAs to produce cells, neurotransmitters, and hormones. As you know hormonal balance is one of the keys to effective weight loss due to the crucial role that hormones play in firing up your metabolism and controlling your blood sugar levels.
A neurotransmitter deficiency often causes strong carbohydrate cravings. Overeating on carbs leads to weight gain and obesity. That’s just how important omega-3 fats are for weight loss!
Alpha linolenic fats are so-called omega-3 base fats that get converted into other types of EFAs such as
Food sources of omega-3s
Food sources of omega-3s include:
-Fatty cold-water fish such as halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and tuna
-Animal-based omega-3 supplements such as fish oil, cod liver oil, and krill oil
-Hemp seeds and hemp oil
-Flax seeds and flax oil
-Walnuts and walnut oil
-Dark, leafy greens
-Evening primrose oil
-Marine phytoplankton, one of the really few plant sources with high amounts of converted EPA (eicospapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), both essential for brain health and development.
Vegan, whole food sources of omega fats such as nuts and seeds are cholesterol-free and contain high amounts of protein and fiber.
Chia, hemp, and flax actually have more omega-3s than fish per serving.
They are also very easy to incorporate into your drinks, soups, main meals, and snacks as they do not require cooking at all. In fact it’s much better if you consume them in their raw state. Remember scientifically validated fact number two about EFAs.
Is fish an inferior source of omega 3s?
Yes, if we look at certain factors. The problem is that fish can be a mixture of good and evil in certain sensitive individuals or people with digestion problems.
While the omega-3s in fish are anti-inflammatory, fish protein can be hard to metabolize for some people, causing inflammation and other immune complexes such as arthritis.
Fish after all is one of the top ten allergens in the US. You can of course eat fish if you like, just don’t eat it 5 days a week. You’d want to avoid possible inflammatory reactions to it.
Some foods may be regarded as healthy but if they cause inflammation then they’re bad news for you. Foods that trigger inflammation will not just cause weight gain but premature aging and chronic health problems as well.
Why you should think again before forking over another serving of bacon on your breakfast plate
Then there’s the growing concern about the levels of mercury, arsenic, dioxin, and PCBs present in fish. Heavy metals and neurotoxins such as these can cause weight gain in a number of ways, such as ruining your metabolism, causing depression and emotional eating, and bloating up your fat cells.
As one of its protective mechanisms your body stores toxins in your fat cells. They cause less damage to your body that way. So the more toxins you ingest, the more inflated your fat cells become.
This should also be a good reason for you to start monitoring your animal flesh consumption, coz if we store our toxins in our fat cells then where do animals store theirs? So think again before forking over another serving of bacon on your breakfast plate.
There’s also the issue of omega-3 fats being heat-sensitive. So are omega-3 fats in animal foods damaged?
Yes they are, unless you eat them raw, which you wouldn’t want to do due to the parasites and pathogens that are abundantly present per square centimeter of raw animal flesh. This is not to say that they cannot give you sufficient amounts of omega 3s.
It’s that your body would have to deal with the free radicals present in heated fats, so it would be good to consume a variety of omega-3 foods for other health reasons.
Do omega-6 fatty acids help with weight loss?
Alright, let’s now move on to the other type of omega fats called omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fats are very important for optimal brain function.
They also promote normal growth and development. Your body needs sufficient amounts of omega 6s for bone health and hair and skin growth.
They’re also essential for a healthy metabolism and reproductive system. Food sources of omega-6 EFAs include:
-Sunflower seeds and oil
-Sesame seeds and oil
-Black currant oil
-Peanuts and peanut oil
Omega-6 fats are copiously present in a lot of processed foods such as chips, biscuits, cookies, and restaurant and fast food meals. The tendency of most people then is to eat a lot more omega 6s than omega 3s.
The proper balance of omega fats
The problem with omega-6 fats is that they compete with omega 3s. Omega-6 fatty acids limit omega 3s’ benefits if over consumed.
Too much omega-6 fats cause inflammation and even heart disease, and an omega 3 overdose may cause easy bleeding and increased blood cholesterol, so it’s very important that we balance our omega 3 and 6 consumption.
Recommended minimum dietary intake of omega 3s range from 200 mg to 1.5 grams a day, depending on your condition. Pregnant and nursing women would need at least 200 mg a day, while those battling heart disease would benefit from at least 1.5 grams of omega-3s everyday.
The recommended amount of omega 6s is 4.4 grams based on a 2,000-calorie diet (less if you have a lower caloric intake).
Americans typically consume 14 to 25 times more omega 6 fats, which causes obesity and other life-threatening health problems. The most widely recommended omega 6 to 3 ratio is 2:1. A ratio of 4:1 is already pushing it.
This is the upper limit so try not to consume 5 times more omega 6s than omega 3s.
Try your best then to mind your 3s and 6s. Your waist (and your whole body) will thank you for it!