How Much Fat is Enough? 7 Reasons to Eat More Good Fats

Many of you know I was part of the low-fat craze a couple years ago. I was a die-hard low-fat/fat-free nut. And when I say "nut" I’m not kidding, because being on a low-fat diet was making me crazy. I could eat an entire carton of ice cream in one day--fat-free ice cream of course. I would slather fat-free buttery spreads all over my food, trying to quell my cravings for fat.

I did recognize my body was craving real fat. I just thought my body was wrong, mistaken, misinformed. I figured these medical experts and their handy charts must know better than my own body, so my body was wrong. Never mind that it was also depressed, tired, nervous, pasty and blemished--it was wrong!

When I first realized fat was good for me--that butter was good for me--something just clicked. It suddenly made sense. So I dared to raise my daily fat intake to about 40% of my calories. I thought this was extremely high at the time. I've experimented with levels between 40-80% fat in my diet, but I find that I am most satisfied and even-keel with about 40-50% of my calories coming from fat (though my eating patterns do fluctuate from time to time).

7 Reasons to Eat More Good Fats

#1 - Reduced carb cravings. 

Now I’m the first to admit I still crave sugar from time to time. But now that I’m on a high-fat diet it’s not a 24/7 will-run-someone-down-in-my-car-to-get-it sugar craving. Let me explain: two years ago if there was a carton of ice cream in my freezer in the morning, it would be gone by noon. I would eat a low-calorie, low-fat breakfast and then a couple hours later my cravings would be so monstrous I couldn’t take it and would down the whole thing.

Dr. Schwarzbein (author of The Schwarzbein Principle series) describes it as "noise" in your head telling you to eat carbs and sugar. I don’t have this "noise" anymore, just a quiet, even feeling--with an occasional sweet tooth (and I still give in to it sometimes--I’m not perfect by any means!). But there’s an ice cream carton in my freezer that's been in there for two weeks and I haven’t touched it. Not once. To me, that’s a miracle. 

#2 - Feel full. 

I mean actually satiated. On a high-carb, low-fat diet this feeling almost never happens. You can eat a box of pasta and still be left unsatisfied. Now try eating some cheese and nuts, add coconut oil to your smoothies, or veggies topped with butter. That’s satisfying. And you probably won’t be hungry again in an hour, either. This is the kind of food that turns off your hunger and allows you to take a break from food once in a while without feeling empty. 

#3 - Stable energy. 

The right amount of good fat can help keep your blood sugar stable by lowering the glycemic load of your meal. Without huge blood sugar spikes, you don't suffer from extreme lows and will have a more stable, steady feeling of energy.

#4 - Experience happiness and contentment. 

Did you know your body needs plenty of fat to make hormones and neurotransmitters? Without enough fat, your body doesn’t have the material it needs to build these vital substances that regulate everything from moods to body temperature. Want to balance your hormones and improve your mood? Start with fat. And plenty of it.

#5 - More protein. 

When you’re free to eat more fat, it’s easy to add high-protein favorites like cheese and beef back into your diet. High-quality protein (not soy protein or processed proteins) is essential for the repair of lean body tissue--like bones, muscles and organs. Fat also helps the body utilize those proteins, so on a high-fat diet your lean body tissues thrive instead of withering away. 

Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats# 6 - Get lean. 

The title of Eat Fat, Lose Fat sums it up. A body running on fat doesn’t store fat: it sheds it! When you you eat a balanced diet that contains good fats, you're satiated and blood sugar is stable. This decreases cravings and overeating. You also provide the body with the essential nutrients it needs, which switches you out of starvation mode and revs up your metabolism. It’s like a natural weight loss pill you can spread on toast. 

#7 - Build immunity. 

Fats are an important building block for a healthy immune system. Part of this is because fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K can’t be used properly without plenty of fat. All of these vitamins are crucial for immune function. Vitamin D has been in the headlines lately as an immunity-booster, but without enough dietary fat your body isn’t going to benefit much from a higher vitamin D intake. So boost your fat, boost your immunity. 

How much fat am I supposed to eat? 

I imagine this number differs for everyone, since some of us do better on more fat than others. Someone with blood sugar problems may need more fat and less carbs than someone who doesn’t. There is no magic number when it comes to how much fat you should eat. Some feel great on 30-40%. Others feel their body functions better eating a diet of about 50-70% fat. Do what feels right for your body. The point is not to be afraid of good, natural fats! 

What if eating fat makes me feel sick? 

This is not uncommon. When our bodies have been deprived of fat for a long time, the art of digesting fats is forgotten! You can help pump up your digestive juices by taking 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar before meals, digestive bitters after a meal, or eating lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut with your meal. If you’ve been seriously low-fat dieting for a long time you may also want to introduce fats slowly over a period of weeks until you reach the right amount. 

Just keep in mind you want to be eating the right fats: mainly quality butter, coconut oil, ghee, lard, and tallow, plus some olive oil, nuts and seeds. Stay away from vegetable oils and processed foods that contain them. Eating a diet high in those fats is a big no-no. Read more about that here.

Find high quality sources of healthy fats and oils here on my Resources page.

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