July 25, 2014

Some Signs You Need More Fat in Your Diet

I can only say that since childhood, I have seemed to know when I needed extra fat in my diet. My mother always wondered when I asked for fatty foods, but I always received them. Even as I have aged, there have been times that I craved foods with lots of fat. Currently I have needed to purchase my own foods for this, as my wife still believes in low fat. I have had her read articles that have proven that Ancel Keys was wrong, but she won't budge.

So when I want extra fat, I have to purchase them for myself and prepare them myself when she is working. The one time I wanted a piece of meat with lots of fat, she took it away from me and trimmed the fat off. Talk about a tasteless, dry meal! Fortunately, she was scheduled to work the next day. What a tasty meal!

Therefore, when I read Mark's Daily Apple blog, it did catch my attention. He named it 9 Signs You Need to Eat More Fat.

#1. You have dry skin.
Dry skin can indicate a lot of things, such as allergic reactions, imbalanced gut microbiota, topical exposure to abrasive chemicals. It often means that you simply need more fat in your diet. How so do we obtain the needed fat? Sebum is the body’s natural moisturizer, and we produce it in-house using the fatty acids that are available. Some of the fats come from our own body stores, while others have to come from the diet. Increasing fat intake, then, is a painless, simple way to potentially improve your skin’s moisture levels.

#2. You’re low-carb and feeling “off.”
Fat has bad connotations for some people. A person reduces carb intake to lose weight without realizing that they need to increase their consumption of fat to make up for some of the missing energy. They begin losing weight, but the exhaustion, lack of energy, and headaches make it hard to stick to the plan. Since fat is still bad for many people (though that’s changing), what happens all too often is a person will reduce carbs and keep their fat intake way too low. If they’re burning lots of body fat in the process, that can certainly help with energy needs, but most people will also need to increase the fat they eat.

#3. Your physical performance is below par.
People are quick to suggest upping carb intake when physical performance suffers. Depending on the nature of the performance, it may help in certain cases. But another macronutrient also plays a big role in physical performance - fat, specifically saturated fat. We use saturated fat as precursors to steroid hormones like testosterone. Without enough saturated fat in the diet, we can’t make enough testosterone. Without enough testosterone, we can’t build muscle, recover from our workouts, or enjoy that healthy feeling.

#4. Your joints ache.
Achy joints can mean different things to different people. You could have poor mobility, improper movement mechanics, and tight surrounding musculature and fascia. You could have arthritis. You could have suffered an acute injury that’s just now making itself known. Whatever the cause, reducing inflammation through dietary means can really help dull the pain and even improve the underlying issue. If you have a sore knee or a creaky hip, eat more fatty fish or increase your fish oil intake for a few days. The omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and have even been shown to improve symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. If animal models of osteoarthritis hold true for humans, omega-3 intake can even enhance wound and joint repair following joint injury.

#5. You have low HDL.
Getting regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and weight loss all increase HDL. Health professionals are quick to mention those as viable options. However, eating more fat, particularly saturated and monounsaturated fats, can also increase your HDL. This isn’t very surprising, actually, as both exercise and weight loss involves the oxidation of stored body fat, which is similar to eating a bunch of animal fat. Maybe that’s one reason why losing body fat is so good for us and results in so many improvements to health markers. It inadvertently places us on a high-animal fat diet (regardless of the diet used to achieve the fat loss). Some fats are better than others at increasing HDL. Saturated fats like the ones in coconut oil increase HDL, while the PUFAs found in soybean oil tend to lower it.

#6. You’re never satisfied after meals.
Low-fat diets are notorious for making their followers extremely hungry, whereas low-carb, high-fat diets are well known for curbing out-of-control appetites. Most people attribute that to the higher protein content of low-carb diets. Both reduce appetite, to be sure. Plus, fatty cuts of meat, not just the lean meat, provides saturated and monounsaturated fats (along with protein). Saturated fats appear to confer the most satiety via the satiety hormone PPY, whereas monounsaturated fats from olive oil have favorable effects on another satiety hormone, GLP-1.

#7. You’re trying to love vegetables.
Edible vegetation is essential for optimal health. Maybe not ten cups a day of leafy greens or anything, but some really does help round out the diet and provide vital nutrients that are otherwise tough to get elsewhere. The problem for many people is the “edible” part of that equation. Plain vegetables simply don’t taste very good, at least until you develop a palate that can appreciate them. Here’s where fat comes in. Fat transforms vegetables into delicious meal additions. Steamed broccoli is tolerable plain. Toss it with some grass-fed butter, salt, and black pepper and it becomes irresistible. Toddlers, with their instinctual distrust of vegetation, develop a taste for even the dreaded Brussels sprout more quickly when paired with fat. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fermentable fiber. They’re some of the healthiest things a person can consume, but you do have to actually eat them.

#8. Your mental edge seems dulled.
Part of the transition into lower-carb eating involves a period of mental dullness for many people. You’re eating fewer carbs, which means less glucose is available for your brain, and your metabolic system hasn’t quite caught up to begin burning fat and ketones efficiently for energy. But what if this persists? A number of studies show that eating specific fatty acids – medium chain triglycerides, whether found in refined MCT oil or in coconut oil – can improve cognitive function by increasing ketone availability. Interestingly, access to ketones (whether through ketosis or medium chain triglycerides) doesn’t impair the brain’s ability to utilize glucose. When the brain’s access to ketones increases, so does its uptake of glucose. Oh, and krill oil, which contains omega-3 fats in phospholipid form, may also improve cognitive function.

#9. You’re going out drinking.
If you plan on drinking more than a serving or two of alcohol, increasing your intake of certain fatty acids and decreasing your intake of others before can protect your liver from injury, reduce the toxicity, and diminish the resulting hangover. Saturated fats appear the most hepatoprotective, with the fats in dark chocolate and coconut/MCT oil being especially helpful. Linoleic acid/omega-6 is the most dangerous when drinking alcohol. You’ll get the best results by eating more SFA and less linoleic acid several days prior and up to drinking, since it takes a few days to shift the composition of your liver fat.

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