Eat fat to lose fat.
Sounds kinda crazy at first, doesn’t it?
Some years back a friend tried to get me off the low-fat bandwagon. I told him there was no way! I had a hard enough time as losing that last layer and thought he must be mad to suggest the solution was to eat more fat!
As I’m sure you guessed from the title of this post, I came around. And as much as I know that most avid Bikram devotees practice for health reasons, for injury rehabilitation, or just because we love it so much, I also know that many people hope to lose body fat through Bikram. Achieving an ideal level of body fat is just one aspect of good health (yes, it's not just about looking a certain way), but it's one that cause ongoing stress and turmoil for many people.
So let me save you some heartache. Coming back to that friend of mine ... to cut a long story short, let me tell you that these days, after years of my own research and testing, I advise many of my clients to increase their intake of good fats – even saturated fat and cholesterol.
I’m not insane, I’m not trying to kill you, and I’m certainly not the first person to sing the praises of fat. In fact, a recent article will explain for you in eye-opening detail just how and when fat suddenly started getting such a bad rap. Some of this information might be quite shocking – for example, there was actually never any conclusive evidence showing that saturated fat causes heart disease.
So how can eating fat help you lose fat?
Let’s start with the health facts
The article I referred to does a great job of allaying concerns about heart disease and diabetes. I’ll throw my two cents worth in with a few more fat facts.
1. Your body will use carbohydrates to make saturated fat – even if you don’t eat any fat.
2. This is because you need fat for cell stiffness, to protect your liver and vital organs, and to enhance immune function.
3. You hormonal system cannot work efficiently without sufficient fat and cholesterol. This could lower your metabolism, decrease your sex drive and contribute to bad moods and poor energy.
How About the Weight Loss Part?
One of the roles of fat is to act as a sustainable energy source, helping you to perform at your best both mentally and physically. For this reason, quality fat (see below) will be stored as a ‘use-soon’ energy source. It won’t get shipped to your fat cells. Replacing sugary and starchy foods like white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes and even excess fruit with quality fats will balance your hormonal system and allow your body to release existing toxins and stored fats. It will also kick-start your metabolism, increase your satiety, and reduce cravings. Pretty cool, huh?!
So Which Fats are we Talking About? And How Much?
It’s not a long or complicated list. I start by recommending each client take a quality, mercury-free Salmon or Fish Oil supplement each day. Any health food or supplement store will be able to point you to a good one. Next, I recommend increasing fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, olives, and organic meat and poultry – including the rind or skin. I say organic because the fat of conventional animals stores toxins. Nuts and seeds (raw) can be a great source of fat but I do find people tend to indulge with these!
Lastly, I recommend switching from olive or vegetable oil to coconut oil for all cooking. Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat and goes straight to your liver for energy. It will improve digestion, up your metabolism, has anti-inflammatory properties and has even been said to help with cellulite!
How much? As a very general rule I would say that most people need a minimum of 20% good fats in their diet. This is a general guideline and you should speak to a qualified nutritionist or Metabolic Typing adviser for more specific information. As an example, use a few teaspoons of coconut oil to cook, try to incorporate some animal fat daily, and add a little avocado or oil to your main meals..
Until next time – eat fat to lose fat, and enjoy the bonus energy boost!
Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.