Every once in a while it becomes evident that the scientific community gets things wrong. At one point in time scientists everywhere thought that the world was flat, that the world was the center of the universe, and that the atom was the smallest particle in existence. Now, obviously, we know better. It turns out that the evidence is now showing that what we all thought we knew about fats is also as incorrect as these former misconceptions.
1. Fats don’t make you fat. A study by the American Society for Nutrition showed that rats who consumed a high fat, high protein, carbohydrate free diet displayed the lowest amount of adiposity (body fat) when compared to rats who got more of their daily calories from carbohydrates. This is because rats, like humans, prefer to run their bodies fats. When we consume fats they get used for energy, not stored as fat as previously thought. The real culprit is carbohydrates. Carbs ultimately get converted to glucose, which is used to fuel our brains and our muscles during physical activity. When our bodies take in a large amount of carbs it releases insulin so that it can then store all that glucose for later use. Normally it is stored in the muscles, but when we take in more carbs than we can store in our muscles it then gets converted into body fat. The reason this happens is because early humans who lived in the wild had very limited access to carbs. When they did happen to stumble across a piece of fruit or some vegetables, their bodies would immediately store that precious glucose away to use later. After the advent of agriculture suddenly our bodies were inundated with glucose, and the result is higher levels of body fat.
2. Fats don’t cause heart disease. As unbelievable as it sounds there is actually no sound scientific evidence linking the consumption of fats to higher rates of heart disease. This even includes saturated fats, which in our culture are thought to be the bane of our existences. And this is unfortunate because when food item are labeled as low fat they are generally packed full of sugars to make them taste better, which as I said before is what is really going to make you fat. So where did this misconception come from? It all started with a man named Ancel Keys. Back in the day he conducted the infamous seven countries study, which plotted the relationship between the consumption of fats and the rates of heart disease in seven countries across the world. His resulting graph showed a near perfect positive correlation between the two. The problem with his results? His “seven countries” study actually took place in twenty two countries. What happened to the other 15 countries? They didn’t fit his nice line so he labeled them “outliers” and left them off. Interesting how there are twice as many outliers and valid points of data. What his results actually showed is that there is no correlation between the two. Some countries consumed high amounts of fat and had low rates of heart disease while others consumed very little fat and had low rates of heart disease. The real culprit is not the fat you eat, but actually just the physical state of being fat. Fat cells actually act like little endocrine organs, sending out signals to your body which cause inflammation which then results in hypertension and heart disease.
So the take home message in all of this is that fats are not the evil macronutrient we once thought they were. Our bodies want to run off them, and function quite well when we let them do just that. Its carbs that should be avoided, and realistically the only carbs we should eat are the ones that come from a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables. Pair that with a good protein intake ( ~ 1 gram per pound of body weight) and fill out the rest of your daily calories with a good mix of both saturated and unsaturated fats and you’re getting back to your primal roots. Trans fats should still be avoided though because you never want to eat anything created in a lab. For a much more in depth discussion on fats and the seven countries study visit this page http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/
And next time you feel like including some bacon with your eggs, go ahead! (Just leave out the oatmeal)
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