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If your energy is lagging and you find yourself needing a catnap mid-afternoon, then turn to healthy fats to put some pep in your step and keep you going for the long haul!
The low fat craze that started in the nineties left most of us tired and obese, with a side of diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately for all of us, the voices of nutrition pioneers like Ann Louise Gittleman and Mary Enig have been heard and fats are being featured as the superheroes they are in such popular diets as Keto, Paleo, and Radical Metabolism.
People are shedding pounds and inches, energy levels are skyrocketing, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels are being brought back into balance – and we owe a lot of this success to healthy fats!
Now that fats have come out of hiding and are being recognized as nutrition superstars, it’s important to learn the right way to fuel up with them and reap their many health benefits. It starts with understanding how your metabolism works and which fats are the right fats to fuel your fire.
Your metabolism is like a fire – you want to have a steady fuel source to keep it burning hot enough to melt the fat off. That fire dies down as it burns through fuel and, as a result, your metabolism slows down to a halt and you pack on the pounds. This is why it’s important to understand how fats, proteins, and carbohydrates fuel your body and how to use them for their maximum fat-burning efficiency.
Continuing with the fire analogy, think of these macronutrients like logs. Because fats contain 9 calories per gram, they’ll burn longer and slower than carbs and proteins, which contain only 4 calories per gram. You can think of carbs and proteins like kindling – they’re the fire starters that burn quickly and wake up your metabolism.
Once the fire is started, you add the logs, which are the healthy fats that give you a long, slow burn to fuel your metabolism for the long-term. Fats may be the slowest to burn but they are also the most efficient, and that means consistent energy for you throughout the day.
Each macronutrient has its role in firing up your metabolism, so a healthy diet must contain all three to keep your fires going and the fat burning. Without fats, you have to feed your metabolism more often to keep it going and to keep from having those mid-afternoon crashes. This is why you crave those quick pick-me-ups like candy bars to stay awake when the calories from a low fat lunch have been burned.
At the same time, you need proteins to activate muscle tissue and fire up your mitochondria, the energy “power plants” of your cells, and you need fiber-rich vegetables and fruits to feed your hormones the carbs they need to stay balanced and boost metabolism.
Not all fats are created equal. Just like processed sugar does more harm than good when it comes to carbs, there are fats that should be avoided for their inflammatory effects on your body. And that’s not all – as with all the food you eat, quality matters when it comes to choosing the right fats.
The fats you can’t live without and need for your body to heal itself and make healthy cells are the essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, and these fats have an ideal proportion they should be eaten in. Four times as many Omega 6 fats should be consumed as compared to Omega 3, and the best sources for these anti-inflammatory, hormone-balancing, fat-burning, energy-boosting oils is found in nuts, seeds, and their cold-pressed oils. While processed vegetable oils like corn, canola, soy and vegetable blends are touted as sources of Omega 6 fats, these oils are as bad as processed sugar – altered, refined, and highly inflammatory and should be avoided.
Healthy sources of Omega 3 fats include flax and chia seeds, and wild caught fatty fish and their oils from the most pristine waters. If you choose to take a fish oil supplement, make sure it’s been tested for levels of toxic contaminants, like our Super-EPA is. It’s unfortunate, but our oceans have been contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals and the fish store these in their fat tissues, much like we do.
When it comes to animal fats, it matters how the animals are raised and what they are fed. Meat from animals raised in a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) doesn’t contain the right proportion of fats your body needs and is inflammatory. In contrast, the meat, eggs, and dairy from grass fed and free-range animals is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats and is anti-inflammatory and health-promoting. Grass fed meats are often more lean than CAFO meats, so make sure you are also getting enough of the healthy plant-based fats in your diet.
If eating fats makes you feel sleepy after meals, or you end up with bloating and digestive discomfort, then your fat digestion may need some support. Your liver makes bile, the soap-like substance that’s essential for proper fat digestion. Your gallbladder stores the bile and regulates its flow into your small intestine, so if you’ve had your gallbladder removed or are having gallbladder issues, then issues with fat digestion are likely to follow.
The root cause behind many gallbladder issues is either thick, sludgy bile or insufficient bile, and both of these impair fat digestion and lead to bloating, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. Many people have quit the keto and paleo diets because their fat digestion wasn’t optimal and it left them with weight gain, bloating and discomfort. Healthy fat digestion begins with building better bile, and our Bile Builder can help. It contains a combination of herbs and nutrients known to support fat digestion and liver and gallbladder health.
To fix your fat digestion, the first key is to eliminate the inflammatory altered, refined, and processed vegetable fats and greasy, fried foods. Next, gradually add in the plant-based Omega-rich fats like nuts, seeds, and their cold-pressed oils while transitioning to eating grass fed meats. Make sure you eat bitter foods with every meal, because bitters build better bile. For a comprehensive primer on healing your fat digestion, getting essential fats into your diet, and losing weight with healthy fats, get Radical with Ann Louise Gittleman’s Radical Metabolism plan.