Simple Swaps #3 - Ditch the '80s and Their Low-Fat Craze

Simple Swaps #3 - Ditch the '80s and Their Low-Fat Craze

Welcome to another edition of Simple Swaps! For this edition, we wanted to talk about one of the biggest health myths of the 20th century: LOW FAT. (Dun, dun, dun)

BAD: Low Fat

Here's the gist: in the 70s and 80s, a war on fat began. The idea was that fat made you fat! Seems silly now, this overly simplistic view of how the body stores and uses energy. But it was also dangerous. Decades later, people still believe that red meat will clog your arteries, cheese will do the same, and low-fat yogurt is healthy. Can I just say NO? Red meat DOES NOT contribute to heart disease (unless you're eating copious amounts of it, I'd imagine), cheese is not the best for your health but for an entirely different reason, and low-fat yogurt is dessert, plain and simple.

I'll break it down for you.

RED MEAT: If you eat factory farmed (conventional) beef with high-fat content and eat all the fat (without cooking it out) for every single meal for a decade, sure, you'll probably get heart disease, or at least the beginnings of it. Why? Factory farmed animals are treated poorly in sometimes despicable conditions, which largely produces sick or at least sickly animals. The meat produced by these animals is understandably less than desirable. You know how humans who eat fast food all the time don't look the healthiest? Same thing. The answer? Preferably grass-fed beef (the best) or at least leaner cuts of beef with as much of the fat drained out of it as you can manage. As part of an otherwise healthy diet (read: lots of veggies and healthy fats), your heart should do just fine.

CHEESE: Here's the kicker – it's not the fat in cheese that "clogs your arteries." Instead, the quality of the cheese is what matters. For those who tolerate dairy, grass-fed cheese is a good option. Again, if you're getting your cheese from sick or sickly cows, the milk and then cheese they produce will be low quality and therefore unhealthy.

LOW-FAT YOGURT: Like I said, low-fat yogurt is dessert. The fat in yogurt was replaced by sugar to make the yogurt palatable. (Have you eaten plain yogurt with no sweeteners? Tastes like sour cream, right? Not exactly what I'd want with granola.) Better option? Grass-fed, full-fat, plain yogurt is your best bet if you tolerate dairy. When I'm not strict Paleo, I'll sweeten mine with a little honey for a treat, or use it as sour cream on nachos!

So you know low fat is bad news. Wanna hear the good news?

GOOD: Full Fat (Yes, Even Saturated Fats)

You can eat fat again! Yay!

Fat is what helps your body feel and stay full. If you're full, you're not eating when you're not actually hungry. So don't be afraid of fat! Don't go overboard, certainly, but a tablespoon of healthy fats (coconut, olive, or avocado oils as a start) every meal will help your body recognize it's full and will help you stay full longer. Paired with quality meats (with their own doses of healthy fats) and yummy veggies, you'll be well on your way to helping your body function at its best!

A Note on Saturated Fats: There's been some talk in the past few months about the dangers of saturated fats. There have been so many good posts about it that I can't link to them all, but here was our take on it. (And for more info on other healthy fats to include in your diet, see our previous Simple Swaps post.)

So what are your thoughts? Have you been stuck in a low-fat mindset? Let's embrace a balanced, whole foods diet and take back our health!


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Disclaimer: The recommendations in this post and on this site are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional when changing your diet, fitness routine, medications, and/or lifestyle.