Monday, September 22, 2008

The Truth About Bad Fats - Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

For those who have perused some of the older articles I've written for this site, you might have come across my piece 'Eat Fat to Lose Fat'. If not, then definitely check it out. Today I want to lead on from that topic .. kind of. Well, actually what I have to say today is more about eating fat to gain fat. No, I'm not contradicting myself! You see, as much as I'm pro-fat when it's the good kind I do still have to admit that some fats are most definitely to be avoided.

So here they are:

*Yes, I've geared most of my explanations here toward weight gain/loss because it's a useful analogy when talking about fat. But, as I'm sure common sense will tell you, these nasty fats will affect not only your weight, but your overall health and wellness, as well as most definitely your energy for Bikram and other activities.

1. Trans Fats.
Why they’re nasty: Otherwise known as hydrogenated fats, these fats start out as vegetable oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil or canola oil. Through a process that includes adding tiny metal particles, mixing with soap-like emulsifiers, and sometimes cleaning with bleach, the oils are changed from a liquid to a solid fat. Trans fats lower HDL (good cholesterol), raise LDL (bad cholesterol), raise blood sugar levels, and cause weight gain through digestive and hormonal upset. So why are they on our shelves?! Trans fats are much firmer than natural baking fats. This means the baker can pack more in without a greasy feel, so you feel full when you eat them. They’re also cheap.

2. Low grade olive oils.
Why they’re nothing like their extra-virgin cousins: Cheap olive oil is basically the leftover of the leftovers. Think of extra-virgin as the cream of the crop, the first batch of oil produced from the olives. Virgin olive oil is what comes next. The olives still have some nutrients remaining. The end of the oil-making process consists of squeezing out every last remaining drop to produce plain olive oil. Yes, it might be cheaper and still have some attractive tuscan-style packaging, but it’s definitely no good. How does this affect your body? You won’t get the nutrients that good fats should give you to aid hormone production, balance blood sugar levels, and get your metabolism and digestive system moving. It’s also not as satisfying as quality fat, so you may eat more throughout the rest of the day.

3. Skin, fat or rind from conventionally farmed animals.
Why you’ll gain weight: It’s simple really. Fat stores toxins. Conventionally farmed animals are kept in close quarters, generally indoors, and fed cheap grain when they should be eating grass. This causes them to get sick. Sickness equals antibiotics and other drugs. The excess of this chemical concoction is stored in the animals fat. Anything stored in fat cells causes them to expand. So what happens when you eat that fat? Well .. fat stores toxins. And not just in animals. Don’t want to expand your existing fat cells? Don’t fill them up with toxins.

4. Low-fat dairy products.
Low fat for weight loss is a huge myth. Why it doesn’t work: Dairy in its full-fat state is a whole food and your body recognises it as such. Low-fat dairy is confusing to your digestive system, slowing digestion and other metabolic functions. This can lead to bloating and fluid retention in the short-term. In the long-term, anything that messes with your digestion contributes to weight gain. Add to this the fact that many low-fat dairy products have substantial amounts of sugar added and you have a recipe for a fat belly. Go with full fat and you’ll notice your belly shrink and your appetite diminish as you give your body what it needs. Ps – when it comes to dairy, I always advocate organic as it is free of nasty antibiotics and the cows have been grass-fed.

5. Excess polyunsaturated or Omega 6 fats.
What do I mean?
Commercial vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn oil, soy oil, safflower oil, canola oil, or products that contain these oils (margerine and basically any baked or processed product!). Why they’re bad for you: This isn’t even the complete list, but here goes. Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain. It’s scarily easy to consume an excess of these fats, so up your chances by steering clear of processed or packaged products.

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