Article(s) Review(s): the Best Fats

This could also be considered a post responding to the conventional health mantra “eating fat makes you fat.”  Obviously, since I already posted that my diet consists of about 55% of calories from fat, I am not buying the notion that consumption of fat translates into getting fat.  (Fitbomb has a lot more information on the why, but here’s a condensed version below.)

I never buy a fat-free version of anything (even when I occasionally consume dairy, it is heavy cream from Jersey cows, Fage Total, or full-fat raw milk cheese, aka, heaven on earth).  Not only does the fattier version taste better – but it also helps keep me more lean and cut.  Yep, you read that correctly: eating fat makes me lean.

Now, don’t get me wrong – to a certain extent, calories matter just as much as macro-nutrients.  Go low enough, and you’ll lose weight even eating only sugars and carbs.  Conversely, if you eat too great of a quantity of fat at 9 calories per gram, you better be living a lifestyle that supports the amount of your consumption.  Eat 8,000 calories a day without being Michael Phelps and chances are you’re going to get bigger.

But there really is no need to count calories if you are eating real food that is nutrient-dense and you are eating until satiety.  The exception to this rule is people like me – my years of anorexia make it easy for me to feel completely full –and often stuffed– eating 1200 calories on a day, even when I’ve burned 700 calories in the gym.  I actually measure my intake now to make sure I’m eating more so I get enough calories to support the workload I’m putting on my body.

The easiest way for me to reach that calorie goal is by increasing “good fats” – mainly nut oils, medium-chain-triglyceride oils, or ghee from grass-fed sources.  (Bacon is also tasty.)  Turns out these are awesome sources of energy that do not increase your risk for developing heart or cholesterol problems.  In fact, as Chris Masterjohn of the Daily Lipid explained it here,

A recent meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease (CVD), tracked for an average of 14 years, and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke. In fact, the “risk ratio” for the development of CVD as intake of saturated fat increased was 1.0, meaning that people who ate more saturated fat were no more or less likely to develop CVD.

Some super-endurance athletes claim that they need higher carbohydrate consumption to maintain long bouts of exercise, but I have never found this to be the case for my training purposes.  I never use gels or snacks on long cycles or runs, and I used to be a cardio junkie who ran for miles and miles and miles on end.  Part of that may be mental willpower (read: craziness), but part of it is that over enough time (read: 10-12 years), my body has adapted to using fat as its main energy source.

A new study supports the notion that these types of oil can improve energy expenditure efficiency, at least in overweight men.  For the study, overweight men consumed diets rich in MCT or LCT oils.  After 4 weeks, energy expenditure was measured using indirect calorimetry, and body composition was analyzed using an MRI.

The study concluded that consumption of medium-chain triglycerides, like MCT oil and coconut products, improved energy expenditure and reduced adipose fat tissue in overweight men.  This held true when fat loss for the MCT consuming group was compared with a group consuming olive oil. The study suggests that the increased fat loss in the MCT consuming group may be based on average energy expenditure, which was 0.04 +/- 0.02 kcal/min greater (p < 0.05) on day 2 and 0.03 +/- 0.02 kcal/min (not significant) on day 28 with MCT consumption compared with LCT oil consumption.  These numbers sound insignificant until you think about their impact over time: 60 minutes X 24 hours (= 1440) * .03 calorie energy expenditure is 44.20 kcal more per day.  Even that may not sound huge, but over time that’s over 300 calories a week or 1420 a month, all just by switching the type of oil you use.

In less exciting news, another study just found that despite the fact that Omega-3 fish oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, supplementation in overweight but healthy people did not significantly impact inflammatory markers.  I take krill oil daily, so I’ll poke around a bit more and see if I find any conflicting data.


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