What is the Worst Nutrition Advice You Can Follow?
Over the years, we encounter TONS of nutrition and workout fads, quick fix diets, cleanses and weight loss “secrets.” The FDA is always there to come out with updated guidelines about how many calories we should be eating and protecting us from deadly carcinogens in our food. Most of the time, these guidelines generally do a good job of keeping us on the right path thanks to years of research by educated individuals. But do they ever get it wrong? IS there a piece of nutrition advice that is absolutely detrimental to our health and transformation goals? The answer is a RESOUNDING YES!
The worst nutrition advice you can follow is to avoid fat. For many years, people were so concerned about getting fat, they were convinced that eating fat would make them fat. While OVEREATING fat can make you fat, that could be said about any of the macronutrients. The risk lies within the fact that fat is over twice as calorie-dense as carbohydrate and protein. 1g of fat contains 9 calories, whereas 1g of carb and protein contains only 4 calories. This doesn’t make fat the enemy. This just means that high fat foods contain more calories.
With that said, there are several different types of fat. Some need to be avoided at all costs, while your body requires others to function optimally. Believe it or not, certain types of fat can actually HELP BURN FAT! Other types of fat can raise cholesterol and wreak havoc on your body. So the question shouldn’t be whether or not you should avoid fat. It should be which type of fat do I need and how much?
What are the Different Types of Fat?
- Trans Fat or trans-unsaturated fatty acids – The result of a partial hydrogenation. Trans fats are often found in margarine, packaged foods and fried fast foods. Due to their chemical makeup, they cause a raise in LDL (bad choleterol) and triglycerides which leads to an increased risk for coronary heart disease. Trans fat should be avoided at all costs in your diet.
- Saturated Fat – Saturated fats have developed a bad reputation over the last couple decades due to a fear of raising LDL and lowering HDL (good cholesterol). However, recent studies show that saturated fats actually raise HDL. They also raise Large LDL, which are not associated with heart disease. Avoiding saturated fats means you’re missing out on some of the most nutritious foods on the planet such as eggs and many proteins. Foods that boast “Low Fat” and “Fat Free” often take out saturated fat and replace it with sugar. If your goal is weight loss, this is a CRUCIAL mistake and one of the biggest reasons obesity has become such a problem in the last few decades. Saturated fat should be consumed appropriately for your macronutrient ratio. Check out this article for more information about Saturated Fat.
- Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fat – These types of fat are very healthy and have been found to lower bad cholesterol (Harvard says so!). They’re very common in diets like the Mediterranean diet (which explains why people in the Mediterranean have a lower rate of heart disease despite a higher fat diet). Polyunsaturated fats are essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies require them but cannot produce them. Diets higher in Poly- and Monounsaturated fats and lower in sugar have been proven to be effective for weight loss. Some common foods with these great fats are cooking oils, olive oil, nuts, avocados and fish.
Avoiding fat is a crucial mistake for anyone, whether you’re trying to lose weight or build lean muscle. Higher fat foods are often very nutritionally dense, such as eggs, fish and nuts. In addition to that, fat makes food taste delicious! This is why low fat and fat free foods often add extra sugars. Next time you reach for that “heart healthy,” fat free food, remember the WORST nutrition advice you can follow is to avoid fat. Grab some foods high in healthy fats and enjoy the savory flavor of a nutritionally packed food!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about fat consumption. Do you count macros? If so, what’s your ideal ratio? If not, how do you track your fat consumption?