“Eat the way your body was designed for you to eat, and a lot takes care of itself.” – Nora Gedgaudas*
I’ve talked about the importance of fat a few times before. As the food on this blog is focused on the research done by Dr. Weston Price, the truth about saturated fat should already be pretty clear. I’m not going to bring all of this up again when there are already so many well written and researched articles on the topic. If you’re unaware of this truth that I speak of, I urge you to do the research yourself and discover the vast benefits of consuming fats.
“As much as 10% of human brain size has been lost in just the last century alone, likely due to decreased amounts of available dietary EPA and DHA and increased consumption of processed foods.” - Nora Gedgaudas*
What I’m writing about today has to do with how much fat we should be eating. So often do I see strong proponents of Dr. Price, and similarly paleo, continue to struggle with health problems – energy levels, depression, skin conditions, digestive ailments, hormone dysfunction – long after their weight ceased to be an issue. For some, their weight never was an issue, and yet they still struggle. Consider the significant difference Stephanie had by using a small dosage of fermented cod liver oil.
Just switching to real, whole, traditional foods can improve one’s health immensely. However, there comes a time when simply eating good quality food is not enough. At some point the proportions of foods you eat begins to matter. Unfortunately those same people I see constantly struggling with health problems, myself included, aren’t eating enough fat.
Perhaps the idea that “fat makes you fat” has been so well ingrained in our collective conscious that even when consumption of it is embraced, not enough of it is consumed.
“Moderate natural dietary fat is only problematic or “fattening” in the presence of dietary carbohydrate.” – Nora Gedgaudas*
Yes, it is true that fat is more calorie dense than vegetables or meat, but eating more of it does not mean you will want to consume equal quantities. The really great part about fat is that it has something called leptin, which is the key to satiety in the body. One ounce of coconut oil will be more filling than one ounce of grains and you will want to eat less of it.
“Naturally occurring fat, which our ancestors would have sought out as much as possible, is inherently satisfying to the appetite.” – Nora Gedgaudas*
Nutrient deficiencies are another reason why we overeat, so not only will leptin kick in to make you feel full and steady your blood sugar, but fat also has nutrients in it that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get from anywhere else. In fact, the idea that one must graze in order to get enough nutrients and stay full is false. About 3 nutrient dense, fatty meals a day is appropriate. Unless you’re going above and beyond with your activity level on one particular day, you should never even feel a need to snack.
So just how much fat should you eat in a day? I am hesitant to give specific numbers because counting calories and grams is not the best way to go about getting healthy. Everyone needs to learn to listen to their bodies to identify satiation and food reactions. If you are eating good quality, nutrient dense foods, your body should dictate what and how much you eat, not arbitrary numbers set by “professionals”. However, consider the following:
“Since leptin controls hunger and leptin is the primary sensor for fat, and since we are creatures of the Ice Age for whom fat basically means survival, eating fat is our dominant source of fuel – the way we were actually designed – is our ultimate key to the mystery of health and long term survival.” – Nora Gedgaudas*
If our calories are comprised of fats, proteins, and carbs, at least 35% of your daily caloric intake should come from fat, ideally upwards of 50% or more. For some, they thrive on a little less and for others, they actually need more. All humans are meant to live on fat, regardless of whether you eat a lot of meat or a lot of plants.
Just like you can’t eat only one type of plant to get your veggies in every day, you also can’t eat one type of fat. Some people seem to think that eating coconut, flax, and olive oil is all they need for adequate fat intake, but it’s not. You need to eat both plant and animal sources to get all of the fat soluble nutrients the body requires. Just stay away from anything that says hydrogenated or has been industrially processed, such as corn, soy, canola, sunflower or safflower. Your animal fats should also come from clean, pastured sources.
It should also be noted that for many people who have gone so long with eating processed foods or low-fat diets that switching over into a high fat diet can’t happen overnight. Bile and acid production can be way off and suddenly eating lots of fat every day can actually exacerbate existing conditions. If you’re in that camp, take your time and ease into a higher fat diet.
To help get everyone jump started on their path towards eating more nutrient-dense fats, for the next 3 days I will be posting super delicious, fat-filled recipes! Stay tuned
References: Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Quotes: Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas, just for being so wonderfully quotable