As a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist I often hear statements like this: “My friend did the Keto Diet and she lost over 80 lbs in 6 months. I want that. You think I should do keto, too?”
Um, let’s talk first. What’s your goal? Do you have any medical issues? How’s your GI? Do you have regular bowel movements? What are you currently eating?
Even after all these questions my answer is usually No.
No To Keto?
Let me explain. I ask all these questions so that I can get an idea of what needs to be fixed in order for them to get results while at the same time remaining healthy. Diets that restrict food groups are not necessarily a good thing and Keto severely restricts carbs. We’re meant to thrive by taking in a variety of vitamins and minerals from many different, wholesome, unprocessed food sources. Foods also have nutritional or medicinal properties that we haven’t yet identified and, therefore, can’t reproduce in a restrictive diet. Note that I said unprocessed foods. Ditching bread, cookies and Cheetos are not eliminating food sources. It’s eliminating foods of very little nutritional value.
Let’s Talk About Fats, Baby
When someone asks me about dietary fats I immediately think of the benefits of eating nuts, seeds, avocados, oils and other healthy fat sources. I also think about a balance of colorful foods. Not too much fats, but also not too little.
Fats keep the Plumbing Humming And So Much More
Moderate fats, but don’t eat a huge amount of them.
- Fats are a source of energy for the body along with carbs and protein. Fats are the most concentrated form of energy weighting in at 9 calories per gram. Excess fat gets stored in the body for later use during lean times such as winter, droughts or other times when food may be scarce. Today this is still true for many cultures in third world countries. Most of you reading this will never experience a shortage of food, so the fat stores within your body will not easily be used. We sit, eat and collect body fat like Silas Marner collecting his coins.
- They also help keep things lubricated and pliable: joints, tendons, and ligaments. They even help with regular bowel movements. I like to say fats keep the plumbing humming.
- In the body, fats are used as building blocks for structure of cell membranes, the retina in our eyes and the makeup of our brains. Yep,that’s right, the brain is 60% fat and rich in a unique fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
- Fats are the carriers of many vitamins including Vitamin A, D, E and K. Think of fats as tiny Uber drivers that take the vitamins to the places they need to go in our bodies.
- Certain fats such as LA, ALA, EA, EPA and DHA are vital to blood clotting, wound healing and reducing inflammation as well as other hormone-like properties.The best sources of these super-fats are oily fish, including anchovy, salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Eat Fat Like This
Clearly, you can see the benefits of eating fats. Some of the best sources of fats are:
- Oily Fish
- Nuts and Seeds
- High Fat Fruits like avocado
- Olives / Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Eat a lower amount of the following:
- Low fat meats
Fats ARE Good … In Moderation
Fats ARE great for us, but before you do downing salmon like a bear or diving into a vat of guacamole consider that too much of anything is not good for us. Helen Bond, Consultant Dietitian to The Harley Medical Group explains: “We don’t need a large amount of fat, and many of us are consuming too much saturated fat – the type of fat that pushes up our cholesterol levels. While unsaturated fats can offer heart health benefits when used in the right quantities, it’s still important to manage the amount consumed.”
Eat a moderate amount of healthy fat, carbohydrates and protein from whole, unprocessed sources and you’ll be healthier than you would have been otherwise (just be sure not to overdo it on the calories)! Our next series will focus on carbohydrates, protein and total calories.
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Tony Bianchino is a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist
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