Does Fat Make You Fat? Dieting Answers – Part 1

April 3, 2008 · 40 comments

The last post discussed how researchers are learning that diet foods make us fat. Today I want to explore a similar topic, this time regarding the issue of dietary fat itself.

“KELLY, YOU’RE A FREAK, YOU’RE TELLING ME I SHOULD TRY TO EAT MORE FAT?”

If there is ONE thing I want to get across to you through this blog, it’s the fact that healthy fat is needed for our bodies to be well and it doesn’t make you fat! I know, I know, you’ve been taught that for so many years, it is very difficult to wrap your brain around the fact that it may all be a farce, from someone like me no less – you must wonder how I could dare to make such a claim, but I hope you’ll keep reading so I can attempt to convince you.

FIRST, WHAT ABOUT SATURATED FATS, CHOLESTEROL, AND HEART DISEASE?!

I’ve heard many analogies about the role of cholesterol in our bodies. One is that when we’re prescribed statin drugs, it’s like “shooting the messenger” – high cholesterol isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom of a problem going on somewhere else in your body – such as damage to your arteries from eating unhealthy fats, like highly processed vegetable oils, trans fats, margarine, etc. (By the way, statins are known for their many side-effects: often turning a healthy person into a “patient” rather quickly.)

From “The Truth About Cholesterol and Fat“:

“America has been on a low-fat diet for over 30 years. Yet we’re fatter than ever, we have an epidemic of diabetes, and our cholesterol levels are rising, not falling.”

“If you deprive yourself of cholesterol (and make up those calories in carbs and sugar), your metabolism goes into famine mode and your liver overproduces cholesterol to make up the difference and stock up. This overdrive state can’t shut off until you start eating cholesterol again. So, a low-cholesterol, high-carbohydrate diet can actually lead to high cholesterol!”

From Nina Planck in “Real Food, What To Eat And Why

“The modern habit of eating chicken breasts and other lean cuts trimmed of all offending fats is new, an aberration in three million years of human history. Most people never ate protein without fat for the simple reason that in nature, protein and fat go together.”

Now an excerpt from an article titled, Why Butter Is Better (notice the many references listed at the bottom of the article at this link):

“Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America’s number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not the cause. Actually, butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system.”

“A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.4″

The article goes on to explain more:

  • “Butter has anti-cancer properties.”
  • “The vitamin A in butter is essential to a healthy immune system.”
  • “Butterfat contains glycospingolipids, a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. For this reason, children who drink skim milk have diarrhea at rates three to five times greater than children who drink whole milk.12 Cholesterol in butterfat promotes health of the intestinal wall and protects against cancer of the colon.13 Short and medium chain fatty acids protect against pathogens and have strong anti-fungal effects.14 Butter thus has an important role to play in the treatment of candida overgrowth.”
  • “The notion that butter causes weight gain is a sad misconception. The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy. Fat tissue in humans is composed mainly of longer chain fatty acids.15 These come from olive oil and polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates.”

WHAT ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR FATS ON?

I’m not talking about sitting down to a meal of butter. I’m just suggesting you use it when cooking or on your veggies, etc., without the guilt. As Sally Fallon (from the Weston A. Price Foundation) has said, “You should worry more about what you’re putting your butter ON (carbs), than about the butter itself.”

YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS IT WELL:

SO WHICH FATS ARE HEALTHY?

I’ve eaten healthy fats (animal fats, dairy fat, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, etc.) liberally…yes, I said it, liberally, for years and my cholesterol numbers are great and my weight stays fairly stable. (Now if I could just curb those sweets a little more, maybe I could lose 10 pounds or so, too…)

LOW SEX DRIVE?

I’ll end with this last excerpt, related to sexuality and fertility, since I’m amazed at how often I hear women complain about this: “Very few of us recognize the connection between nutrition and libido. A lifetime of nutritional deficiencies creates the preconditions for hormonal imbalance. Chronic dieting has a terrible impact on your energy and self-image, and therefore on your sex drive. Low-fat diets are a special problem, because your body needs lipids to make its hormones, including the testosterone needed for sexual response.”

Photo by Carey Tilden

 

DISCLAIMER:

As with anything and everything you see on this blog, be sure to do your own research and talk with your doctor before you make any drastic changes in your life. I don’t know what your specific health issues might be and I don’t know your health history. However, don’t JUST talk to your doctor without researching it yourself, too. Most doctors’ main area of expertise is in the field of medicine. I’m not saying that is all bad, but nobody can know everything, so what would be especially helpful is if you had a doctor who is knowledgeable about the natural ways of looking at things, too, and who doesn’t necessarily use medicine as a first line of attack.

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  • { 32 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Anonymous April 4, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Hi Kelly,
    My cholesterol skyrocketed due to chronic infection. I don’t have the research links, but my doctor explained that it has a role in fighting infection. However, with a long-term chronic infection it goes up and stays up – which is not good. Each month it went up and when it hit 270 he put me on Crestor. After a few years of this I made a deal with my regular doctor to get off of the drugs… I take 8 fish oil pills a day to replace the Crestor.

    I look forward to the other posts on this topic.
    Beth

    Reply

    2 anurag December 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    The article tries to provide good information but the presentation style has more pun than information itself. Author may need to take care of this in his future writings.

    Reply

    3 Kelly April 4, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Hi Beth,

    Hmmmm, that is very interesting. I love that you were able to get off the statins and on to the fish oil. I’m wondering what kind you take, though? Check out the cod liver oil post – there I talk about the differences between a high quality cod liver oil and a regular fish oil. (In part 1)

    Nice to “meet” you!
    Kelly

    Reply

    4 Anonymous April 4, 2008 at 5:32 am

    Kelly,

    Thanks, I’ll check that out. Of all the local ones I’ve tried the one that I like the best is Sundown brand. I know there is more to it than just which sits the best with me so I’ll go off to read your cod liver post. :) I wonder if there is a connection between tolerance and quality.

    Beth

    Reply

    5 Anna April 4, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Great topic, Kelly. I think too many people (including some researchers, dieticians, and doctors) fail to realize that dietary fat is not the same as stored body fat. The body can and does store fat in fat cells from dietary carbohydrates (broken down into sugars, then converted into triglycerides); dietary or body protein (converted into glucose, then into triglycerides); and dietary fat (broken down into fatty acids), but fatty acids from dietary fat is be stored when insulin is also high, not when it is low.

    The key to storing (and not being able to access stored fat for energy) is raised insulin production, which is a direct response to dietary carbohydrates. There is also an enzyme, produced by carb intake, that is necessary to dismantle the triglycerides outside the fat cell so they can get across the cell membrane, as well as re-assemble the triglycerides inside the fat cell. Eat fat without many carbs (like butter on non-starchy veggies, and it can’t be stored in fat cells. Not the same for bread on butter (Like Sally Fallon says, watch more about what you put the butter ON). Excess dietary fat will either be burned for energy or burned off as heat (thermogenesis).

    Eating enough protein is important. If not enough is eaten, then the body will convert muscle and organ protein into glucose for fuel and that can raise insulin somewhat . Too much dietary protein can also indirectly raise insulin. Of course, it bears reminding that animal proteins come without many carbs, and plant proteins are quite starchy.

    Also, fat and protein are essential *structural* building materials for the body. Dietary carbohydrates are not (only used for energy).

    Since I have cut carbs as much as I can without reducing non-starchy veggies, I have been making sure I get enough protein without overconsuming protein, and making a conscious effort to increase the amount of fat I consume (primarily saturated, but the home-rendered lard I am using lately is also high (about 45% ) in monosaturated fatty acids. I’m using heavy cream in my coffee and cocoa; high fat coconut milk, cream, & whole egg baked custards for dessert; vegetable gratins with ample heavy cream and cheese; fattier, bone-in cuts of meat instead of lean skinless, boneless cuts; etc. I’m finding fat to be a great energy source, good for my skin, and my weight has dropped almost 5 pounds in the past couple of weeks (mostly from my middle). I also haven’t had a cold all winter.

    It’s really great to read more people who think old-fashioned fat is a good thing.

    Reply

    6 My Boys' Teacher March 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Doesn’t cooking an egg turn the cholesterol in the yolk into oxidized cholesterol?

    My Boys’ Teacher

    Reply

    7 Kelly March 31, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    My Boys’ Teacher,

    Great question and you’ve got me in “sleuth mode”, I’ll either reply here or post on this as soon as I get some answers.

    Be patient, I’m having router issues…it’s always something!!

    Reply

    8 My Boys' Teacher April 3, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Thank you Kelly, for both of your replies. I really appreciate it. I’m still researching myself and coming up frustrated, I’m hoping your experience with this subject matter will make it all make more sense to you :)

    Looking forward to hearing what you find!

    My Boys’ Teacher

    Reply

    9 Annie M. December 25, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Hi, Kelly, this was linked somewhere recently – I can’t remember! I love exploring your site, even on CHRISTmas ;) while my kids are napping.

    Two wonderings: someone asked about whether cooking an egg yolk turns it into oxidized choleseterol – any ideas?

    Also, re: butter – I love it. BUT paying for grass fed is quite beyond us right now, at least in the quantities we like to consume. It’s something like $11/lb and at Costco it’s more like (fluctuates) $1.50/lb. SUCH a difference. So, what drawbacks are there to the grain-fed, conventional butter? It’s still worth using it as a fat, right? Or are we getting super concentrated toxins from the conventional feed, abx, and hormones. Wow, to type that out makes it really sound bad, but $11/lb is REALLY not doable. Raw, grass fed milk is about $6.50/gal, and that’s only about three times what we’d pay for conventional, but the butter is much much more. Thanks for any thoughts :) and Happy Jesus’ birthday!

    Reply

    10 KitchenKop December 25, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Annie,

    Happy Jesus’ BD to you, too! :)

    We can’t afford all grass-fed right now either, so I buy it now and then. In between we buy butter that is pasteurized and from a local farm that we know uses no hormones and that they’re out on grass at least sometimes. Butter is so good for you that I suggest you just go with the best quality you can find and can afford, with a goal to buy the better kinds when you can.

    Egg yolks and oxidization…I haven’t gotten a clear answer on this one so I go with common sense. People have cooked their eggs for ages, so I feel confident it’s OK.

    Thanks for saying hello today!

    Kelly

    Reply

    11 D. February 9, 2011 at 1:25 am

    The very first question on the Q & A here in this link answers the question about eggs and oxidation.

    https://www.westonaprice.org/faq/793-faq-miscellaneous-food-questions.html

    Reply

    12 Jean May 31, 2012 at 12:55 am

    My Norton is telling me that this is an unsafe web page to go to.

    Reply

    13 KitchenKop May 31, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Mine just did that too when I tried it, so I did an “override” (told it to go there anyway, because I knew the site was good), and it was fine. It may have something to do with the glitches they’ve had since they tried to switch their to their new site a few years ago – they had trouble with dead links, etc.

    Kelly

    Reply

    14 Audrey April 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Kelly! I

    Reply

    15 KitchenKop April 9, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Link away! :)

    Reply

    16 tanya November 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Hello,
    So, if I eat butter on a thin slice of buckwheat bread, I will put on weight?
    Do I only eat it with vegetables?

    Reply

    17 KitchenKop November 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Tanya,
    Everyone is different so you have to figure out what works for you. Some give up grains for life, others give up just the refined stuff or only eat properly prepared grains and do fine. Either way, adding butter to whatever you’re eating is always a good thing, and tastes great, too!
    Kelly

    Reply

    18 Eric August 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Kelly, Thanks for all this information! I was looking for information on whether fat makes you fat. I got so much more than I barganed for and I think I’ll be thanking you later.
    I am on Weight Watchers and have been “addicted” to that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. Well….I had to go to the store to pick you some scallions, and while I was there, I bought some organic butter and am throwing away the spray stuff. Thanks for the insight….and hey….I betcha my taste buds will be happier too! (of course I’ll have to be cautious with portions…but I can do it!).
    Sorry for rambling…and thanks again!
    Eric

    Reply

    19 Kelly the Kitchen Kop August 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Hey Eric, that’s music to my ears! Have you seen all the posts listed here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/08/healthy-fats-oils.html ? There’s a lot more info for you to check out at that link. Let me know if you have any questions I can try to help you with. :)

    Kelly

    Reply

    20 Eric August 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Kelly! Thanks! I’ll check that out. You know…I was looking for information for an article I’m writing about fat…..I thought I was going just be learning something about that calories, not fat…makes you fat. WOW….did I have alot to learn, from your site and some others like it. Then I was on WebMD…and there they were toting canola oil as healthy…yikes! I have already learned as I’ve been researching other things, that you can’t trust the corporations or the FDA. We have to fend for ourselves to get good information just to get healthy (so thank you for the info you provide here!)!
    I’m trying to get my health back, I was at 347#, but now am at 290# and losing. I’ll get there…but with information like what you have provided, maybe I’ll have a fighting chance….and a little tastier too…let’s face it; I CAN believe it’s not butter! I just have to get out my teaspoon and measure, measure, measure!
    Thanks again….and love your site and love your writing you keep it fun, even though it’s heavy stuff.

    Reply

    21 KitchenKop August 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Eric, I know you want to lose more weight but keep in mind what Sally Fallon has said, “The problem isn’t how much butter you’re eating, it’s what you’re putting your butter ON.” I tend to agree. If you’re avoiding sugar and refined carbs, and going very easy on even the good carbs, then you don’t have to be so careful about portions of the good fats like butter, lard, tallow, and coconut oil. As a matter of fact, these fats keep you full, so you don’t binge on the starchy carbs.

    Kelly

    Reply

    22 Eric August 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Kelly, Wow! Ouch!…brain….hurts! :-) I don’t know if it was the same for you….but getting my head around all this….so many years of being force fed all this bad info! The last week or so as I’ve been learning more and more, I keep thinking about when I was a kid in the 70’s. We didn’t have any of this low-fat, packaged diet stuff we’ve been inundated with. I used butter and we didn’t have 98% ground beef….not even 90%….heck…there was only one choice and I think it was something like 75% or 85%! Oh….and also….I was just a little bit over weight (around 185#…boy…I wish I weighed that now!) Between all this information and the memories that it’s causing to pop up; the dots are slowly connecting in my head! Thanks for your help! :-)
    Eric

    Reply

    23 KitchenKop August 9, 2011 at 12:39 am

    You’re welcome, sorry to make your brain hurt, LOL! I do remember that feeling well, though.

    One more that might help you: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2009/02/your-words-letting-go-of-the-low-fat-mentality-responses-from-nina-planck-sally-fallon-more.html

    Good luck and keep us posted! Maybe you could share your story in a guest post someday? :)
    Kelly

    Reply

    24 Eric August 10, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Hi Kelly,
    Um….butter is yummy! :-)
    I did measure it as I’m a bit OCD, but I did take your advice as far as having it on my brown rice and broccoli….and was sooooo tempted to have a slice of whole wheat bread (vehicle for more butter), but didn’t want to have an additional carb when I was already having rice….but Kelly, OMG! I haven’t had real butter in so long. Yum. Been reading more that you have here and I’m looking forward to cooking with coconut oil and I’m interested in trying ghee too. I cook with alot of olive oil, but will be more careful with that and the canola….I threw it out. Just starting. I know I have alot to learn and we’ll see how the weight loss goes. I am down over 50# so far, but have lots to go (ramping up the exercise as well). My goal is to be at goal next summer (I’m 290 now and my goal is 175), and to climb Mt Monadnock in NH next summer as well. I haven’t been able to climb it in about 6 or 7 years. Anyway…I’m starting to ramble.

    Would love to share my story …. we’ll see how it unfolds! And…butter, butter, butter! Oh…and what you said was right….what I had was enough and I was satisfied.
    Thanks again
    Eric

    Reply

    25 D. August 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    @ Eric: Oh man, I had to laugh when I read your comment about the I can’t believe it’s not butter spray. You’ll have to go to YouTube and look up James Gregory – he’s a clean comedian who talks about this. It’s hilarious.

    BTW, you’ll love butter better . . . ;->

    Reply

    26 Eric August 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks D!
    Checked out James Gregory….and, as a guy who sprays (well…who did spray) his butter…..um…yeah….there will be no grandkids! Sorry….couldn’t resist, I caught his “Typical American Lunch” video where he talks about the “butter mist” HAHA!

    Tonite’s my first night with “real” organic butter. I’m a little nervous about willpower and portions, but I’m down over 50# so far, so…I can do it.
    Thanks!
    Eric

    Reply

    27 cay santi January 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Its best to eat, poached eggs with the center still soft and runny. Ive been on a high protein diet for a year now, not eating carbohydrates at all. Including potatoes, rice, pasta or any other flour products. I only eat red meat, fish and shell fish,NUTS and lots of vegetables and lots of fluids. I got used to it to the point that eating rice or bread, makes me wanna puke. I lost alot of kilos from 57kgs to 43.kgs without any complications. And now I am back to eating small portions of rice, without worrying about getting back all those stubborn fats. Where i got my energy? I dont rely on carbohydrates for this anymore since I had all these stubborn fats to metabolize. Being on a high protein diet, I had to eat fats coming from butter, cheese, milk..all the stuff I loved! Runny egg yolks yes!Now that I do not have any stubborn fats to metabolize anymore, I had to slowly incorporate carbs into my diet now…But this time I will not overdo it, because I know for a fact that eating lots of carbs will be stored as body fat if I do not utilize it as an energy source. I dont know if my input is going to help anybody for it was mentioned above that “everyone is different”…Dont be afraid of eating too much protein, I asked my doctor about my diet and he says theres nothing wrong with it. so if it suits anyone, do as i do… “ketosis” is when you have metabolized fats”ketone bodies) in your urine,In diabetics, this is a state of “HUNGER”- no sugar in blood, thats why the body fats are metabolized for energy and food. It is not harmful being in a ketosis state. Drink lots of fluids! goodluck!

    Reply

    28 cay santi January 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    By the way…I am both a Medical technology and a registered nurse…:)

    Reply

    29 cay santi January 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    sorry medical technologist…hehehe I was thinking of a different phrase…hay!!

    Reply

    30 Todd Huinker April 7, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Hi Kelly,

    I’m a heart patient and like what I’ve read here. In fact, I just started using coconut oil only about 3 weeks ago when I saw a video about how it helps alzheimer’s.

    I clicked on your link: “Why Butter Is Better (notice the many references listed at the bottom of the article at this link):” but there was nothing there….I think the info has been taken down. Did you by chance copy any of the info? If so, can you send it to me. I’m going back to butter, whole milk.

    I’ve had valve replacement surgery….genetic….did it when I was 50. I’m turning 63 this year. I’ve had 4 angiograms since and everyone of them yielded the same result. My arteries are “pristine”….the same description from 3 different cardiologists. My cholesterol has been high ever since I’ve been checked. I have long thought that the interpretation of cholesterol tests was in error where I was concerned and all the info I picked up from your site has convinced me. I watched a whole bunch of other videos on YouTube which were related to the one you have posted on your website. I’m not surprised the government is responsible for steering us down the wrong road…..I feel the same about Global Warming. Despite tons of evidence to the contrary, they keep insisting it’s real….nonsense in the case of G.W. and nonsense in the case of fats.

    Thanks,
    todd

    Reply

    31 KitchenKop April 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Hey Todd!

    I just fixed that link (thanks for telling me) — all the WAPF links from before they redid their site are broken and have to be fixed, it drives me crazy.

    Funny you mentioned that about Global Warming, my husband says the SAME thing, that it’s just a bunch of crap. As you said, it’s just like “they” have been wrong when it comes to healthy animal fats!

    Good job on taking the coc. oil and going back to butter and whole milk!! Smart man. :)

    Kelly

    Reply

    32 Denise June 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Three million years of human history?!?

    Reply

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