When I was in 8th grade I was overweight. Well, I was overweight for most of my childhood, but it was in 8th grade that I had to make a change.
I played football but always played with the grade above me since I never made weight.
Well, then 8th grade happened and it’s not an option to play with the high schoolers, so I had to lose 20 pounds to make weight and play.
And now 20+ years later I’m even more interested in nutrition than I was then.
I bring this up because when I was losing weight and learning about doing so …
… low fat diets were “all the rage.”
So as any smart teenager (is that possible?) I thought if low fat diets were good, well then lowER fat diets were even better. I still have the food diaries from that time and there was a day that I ate just 3 total grams of fat. The entire day.
To put that into perspective, that’s like eating 5 almonds. Total. For the day. And no other sources of any fat whatsoever.
Certainly not the smartest.
Then I went to Penn State to study nutrition. And, still, the recommendation was low fat diets were the best. And even more important was whatever you do, stop eating saturated fat (or at least drastically limit your intake).
Well, a decade or so later, carbs became the villain of choice and fat was embraced.
But although fat was embraced, not many jumped on the saturated fat band wagon.
Imagine gobbling bacon, deep fried in butter without worry. Or replacing low fat dairy with heavy cream, fat free yogurt for the full fat alternative and gnawing the fat off a t-bone like it’s a crunchy carrot stick.
These aren’t our suggestions, just simply referencing a recent paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine that came out suggesting “existing evidence does not clearly support” guidelines to reduce saturated fat.
In a nutshell, this paper examined data from 72 other research studies to see the effect of different types of fat on the risk of heart disease.
What they found, though, is that only trans fats — most found in processed oil based products — were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Wow, so what does all this mean?
Is it time to embrace saturated fats? Embrace bacon each morning with eggs that are cooked in butter?
Not quite so fast.
And this is the problem with nutrition.
Nutrition is not all or nothing. It is not an on or off light switch.
The options aren’t to eat bacon daily … or never touch a piece of it for the rest of your life.
Cover all your food with melted butter … or never touch butter again in your life.
While these messages are welcoming for people who enjoy bacon, butter or any other high saturated fat food, the real issue seems to be that when people decrease saturated fats, they make up those calories with junk carbs or dangerous vegetable oils.
After reading the study, we believe it doesn’t quite mean there is zero connection between saturated fat and heart disease; saturated fats are just one piece to the overall diet “puzzle” and they not as responsible for heart disease as once thought.
But let’s not swing the pendulum back to embracing all fats and demonizing carbs again. Or, vice versa, demonizing all fats and embracing only carbs.
We need to think about whole diet, not individual nutrients.
A balance of foods with proper portions is key. Create each meal around veggies, lean proteins (fish, chicken, turkey, beans, cottage cheese, eggs, etc), fruits, healthy fats from nuts, fish, olive oil, avocado, etc and some health grains (rice, quinoa, oats, etc).
This balance is what will give you maximal energy, help manage body weight and reduce the risk of disease.
This media storm talking about how saturated fats are healthy is the reason the pendulum keeps swinging. And it will swing until a new study comes out saying “wait, actually saturated fats aren’t good, this time we are finding out you should eat xyz.”
Balance always works.
I actually really appreciate what author Michael Pollan has said “Eat food, not too much, mainly plants.”
It’s exactly how we created our smoothie recipes in 101 Simple Smoothies. Pick it up to enjoy the same foods we eat daily for maximum energy.
Please do us a favor and click ‘like’ below if you enjoy bacon (and this post).