I learned the hard way how important real, traditional fats are.
A year and a half ago, I went on a low-fat vegan diet as an experiment. Also, because I hoped I would lose weight. What I found out was that it was incredibly difficult to live on nothing but fruits and vegetables – eventually, I would get hungry and go to town on a canister of cashews or a couple of (vegan-friendly) chocolate bars.
At the time, a coworker of mine was following the Flat Belly diet, which tells dieters to include plenty of monounsaturated fats in order to lose weight (among their recommendations are avocados, olive oil, nuts and dark chocolate). Also, I read a popular vegan blog that recommended eating (so-called) vegetable fat, so I added those into my diet. I had vegan margarine and flax oil in my fridge, cooked everything in canola oil, and still ate plenty of nuts.
Still, though, I didn’t feel great. At the time, I blamed it on the lack of protein (which was a contributing factor, I’m sure) and gave up on veganism, returning to the pescetarian diet I’d followed for a couple years, happily feasting on sashimi, smoked salmon, and eggs. Around the same time I read a post on animal fat on Heather Eats Almond Butter, but still, somehow, it didn’t cross my mind that it was not only the protein in the eggs and fish that made me feel so good, but the fat. Okay, maybe those omega 3s in the fish were good for me, but the eggs are still loaded with cholesterol. I would’ve eaten just the whites, but was too cheap to throw away the yolks.
Eventually, through my blog reading, I found Mark’s Daily Apple, and started learning about the Paleo diet. That was when I (again) started eating bacon and steak and butter. Since then, I’ve learned some important things about fat, like that fat does not make you fat, in fact, eating more fat may cause you to eat less as it contains more calories per gram; Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K cannot be absorbed by the body without dietary fat; Fat also improves memory and mood.
There is, of course, more to the story – bad fats. Trans fats and highly processed vegetable oils.
But saturated fats are not bad fats. They are the real traditional fats that humans evolved eating and that helped our brains grow to be so large. And I’ve learned that cooking in ghee or coconut oil, eating fatty cuts of meat, and dousing melted butter on pretty much everything makes me feel great.