The most maligned of macronutrients, fats have gotten a bad rap for driving weight gain, heart disease and more. But a lot of the conventional dietary dogma about fats has been proven wrong. Here we talk about how eating ample fats can support healthy metabolism, heart health, microbiome, mental function and more. We also point out the over-processed industrial fats you’d be wise to avoid.

This week we’re talking about Fats — the role they play in healthy eating, and the fact that a lot of what we’ve been told about them is all wrong.

From the healthy fats your body probably needs more of, to the inflammatory fats it most definitely does not, we share what we know about America’s most misunderstood macronutrient.

We explain why low-fat diets are generally not helpful for weight loss, and why saturated fats are not the dietary evil you’ve been led to believe.

We look at the fascinating role fats play in metabolism, health, mood, mental function and more. And we help you pick better fats as often as you can. Finally, we offer you some experiments so you can reconsider the role that fat-rich foods play in your own life.

“Fats” Episode Highlights

  • The oversimplified theory that weight gain (or loss) is a simple function of calories in, calories out
  • Dietary fat myths and misunderstandings around weight, heart disease and more
  • Cholesterol’s important role in repairing damaged tissue and reducing inflammation
  • The myriad problems with human observational studies linking diet and illness
  • Ketogenic diets — when they are useful, and when they are not
  • Challenging the conventional wisdom of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet
  • The value of adding healthy fats and limiting or eliminating industrial vegetable oils and trans-fats
  • Healthy vs. pro-inflammatory fats, where they’re found, and how to balance the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio
  • The processes that create unhealthy trans-fats, and the role of oils and fats in a whole-food diet
  • Managing the glycemic load of carbohydrates using fats, protein and fiber
  • How the thinking on fat’s role in diet and disease has evolved

Try one of these options for a month. Take notes and see if you feel any different at the end of the experiment.

1) Throw away all the vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean, other processed omega-6-rich oils) in your pantry. For extra credit, radically reduce or eliminate processed foods that contain those oils.

2) Increase your omega-3 intake with a fish, krill or algal (vegan) oil. Good brands are Carlson’s, Nordic Naturals and Stronger Faster Healthier.

3) Both 1 and 2.

Choose from one of these options:

1) Ask yourself how much you’ve bought into the ideas that eating fats will make you fatter and lead to chronic diseases. What foods have you given up as a result, and how have you changed your diet? Has confusion about what to eat left you feeling less motivated to pursue healthy eating? If these questions resonate with you, check out some of the Resources below.

2) Read the ingredients list on some of the packaged foods that you buy and eat most often. Note which industrial fats and oils (e.g., soybean, corn, canola, safflower) show up most frequently, and consider whether you want to continue to put them in your body.

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Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And check out the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

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