It started as an experiment to settle once and for all if saturated fat actually makes you fat. A Swedish PHD student named Christofer Backlin from the Upsala University had decided to put his health on the line to try and solve this mystery once and for all.
For 49 days him and 38 others of his mates ate all kinds of Muffins…all kinds of flavors of muffins, 3-4 muffins every day. Half of the group ate muffins that were baked with saturated fat (palm oil), while the other half ate muffins that were baked with polyunsaturated fats (sunflower oil).
The researchers had baked all the muffins themselves to make sure no one cheated, all 6,500 of them. And they ate these muffins in addition to their regular diets.
The reason was to see who gained more weight at the end of the experiment. The palm oil muffin group or the sunflower oil muffin group.
After 49 not so tasteful, boring days the results were in and they were interesting.
Both groups had gained a similar amount of weight…of course you’d expect that given the fact that each of the participants ate 750 more calories every day for two months. So that’s not the big deal.
The big deal however was the actual kind of weight that each group gained. The palm oil group (saturated fat group) had gained visceral fat. The kind of fat that forms around your internal organs. A very dangerous kind of fat that has been linked with all kinds of diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancers.
They had formed dangerous belly fat.
The sunflower oil group (polyunsaturated fat group) had a very different result. They did not store any fat at all, not even subcutaneous fat. They were however found to now have three times more muscle than they did at the start of the experiment.
The fat they ate had somehow miraculously turned to muscle. Flab had somehow turned to abs. Instead of gaining fat they had gained muscle. Several theories have been put forward to try and explain why this happened but the one that makes the most sense is that the fat contained in sunflower oil somehow activated the genes that are responsible for forming muscle.
It somehow stimulated protein synthesis genes.
This is an important ground breaking research that answered some very key nutritional questions.
Because although the sunflower oil group had gained weight the weight they gained was muscle weight not fat weight…it was LEAN weight.
They had more weight but they were FAT SLIM.
It is a truly an amazing discovery indeed.
This finding has a lot of important implications about how we go about feeding our bodies.
This graphic from prevention.com explains a lot
That one of the antidotes to fat is actually fat itself albeit a different kind of fat.
That good fat can fight bad fat and make you lean.
This is particularly important for people who are battling belly fat because they now have another anti belly fat weapon in their arsenal. They can now fight belly fat more effectively with the weapon of unsaturated fatty acids.
Which has been shown to be a very effective weapon.
Stopping the consumption of saturated fats and switching to unsaturated fats can actually lead to the loss of belly fat over time even if they do nothing else about it.
So, if you are looking for a way to lose abdominal fat you now have a powerful new weapon on your hands-the weapon of unsaturated fatty acids.
Personally I think that these are awesome findings.
And the Harvard head of nutrition, Prof Walter Willett agrees.
In his words…” if the results hold up in longer term studies, replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat could have important benefits for obesity risk”.
This is an awesome discovery in deed.
You can now lose weight and build muscle from eating fat, who would have thought of that?.
Unsaturated fat is good for your health and your waistline.
Unsaturated fats are important, but it is also important that you don’t focus on them to the exclusion of other healthy nutrients that your body also needs to thrive.
Your body cannot thrive on unsaturated fat alone.
And as is the case with everything, even good things, eating unsaturated fat excessively has it’s downsides. Eating too much unsaturated fat has been associated with inflammation and certain types of cancer. This however only happens when you eat unsaturated fat in it’s refined, oily form. Unlike saturated fat, unsaturated fat doers not cause any health problems when eaten in it’s natural form-that is in nuts and seeds because natural healthy fats are metabolized completely differently in the body that saturated fats.
The moral of this story can be easily summarized in one 6 word sentence.
If you don’t remember anything else after reading this post remember this-
Unsaturated fat good, saturated fat bad
Anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or trying to sell you something.
Butter, dairy and other sources of saturated fat are bad for your health and your waistline, nuts and seeds are good for both, period.
That’s what this potentially self harming experiment proved.
Saturated fat shoots up your belly, unsaturated fat makes you lean
The key to having a healthy body is ultimately is to make healthy nutritional choices across the board. To eat a whole package of healthy nutrients all the time -not just one.
When you eat healthy your body weight and nourishment take care of themselves.
The best way to eat healthy fats.
That headline should actually read “the only way to eat healthy fats” because in as much as unsaturated fats are healthy they can be deadly when eaten in their refined “oily” form over protracted periods of time because then they become the most calorie dense foods in the world and almost completely void of nutrients-almost completely empty calories with little or no nutritional value, getting absorbed essentially unmetabolized directly into your fat stores increasing your weight and triggering inflammation and the formation of tissue damaging free radicals, cytokines and other toxins that damage your health.
The example used in the above stated research notwithstanding, you should know that the best way to eat healthy fats is to eat them in their natural form as much as possible-in the healthy nuts, seeds and fruits they come in. Not in their processed oily form.
When they are processed, refined and isolated from their natural state they tend to become agents of weight gain and heart disease instead of the agents of health that they were originally designed to be, especially when eaten over a long period of time. So, take note. Use oils very sparingly even if they are “healthy” oils.
Types of polyunsaturated fats you should eat
Polyunsaturated fat comes in two major forms-as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, Omega 3 being the more popular and the more desirable because unlike Omega-6 it is less prone to causing inflammation when eaten excessively.
But both of them are important. In fact they are called essential fatty acids because although your body needs them to thrive, it doesn’t actually make them. You must get them from food or your body will be deficient of them often with dire health consequences.
You should make unsaturated fatty acids your fat of choice. Your health will improve as a result.
The best sources of unsaturated fatty acids-The best sources of healthy fats are nuts and seeds. please note that if you are going to eat fish for fat you should eat it sparingly and only as wild caught because although fish has some amount of healthy fats, it is however rich in cholesterol-Salmon and sardine contain 55mg and 142mg of cholesterol per 100g of fish respectively(which is very high), so fish should not be your primary source of healthy fats. You should avoid any fish that looks to have been grown in a box, and too much animal protein has been linked to many cancers especially cancers of the breast and prostate. Always eat animal protein with restraint and care if at all.
Best Sources Of Healthy Fat And How To Eat Them For Better Health
As you may have already been able to tease out from reading the post above, the best sources of good fats are unrefined or minimally refined nuts and seeds…and to a lesser extent wild caught, organically grown fish.
This knowledge should guide you as you make your healthy fat food choices.
Most nutritionists and doctors recommend that you eat a handful of raw nuts and seeds every day. That a handful is all you need for good health because of their nutritional content and the large amount of calories they contain.
So I’d recommend that too although I believe that nuts and seeds may well be the most perfect foods in the world because they contain literally every nutrient you need to nourish your body in significant amounts and do not contain cholesterol or any other minerals that are harmful to the body. The fact that they are usually also rich in calories for me is not terribly important.
Getting healthy is more about eating healthy nutrient rich foods and less about eating fewer calories. And raw nuts and seeds are easily among the healthiest foods in the world you can ever eat.
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