Part FOUR~ Surprising Fat Facts

Perhaps your first thought is “Okay, let’s hear all about the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats.” But that’s not going to be our focus here… I don’t agree with the cut and dry approach of this variety of fat is good for me and that variety is bad for me. The issue of fats is so much more complex than that. For instance, coconut oil is a saturated fat (you can tell because it’s a solid at room temperature), but it has also been found to have health benefits in the form of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. (Check this link for specific facts.) But definitely stay away from trans-fats which are the hydrogenated (hydrogen added to an otherwise healthy polyunsaturated oil) spreads (i.e. margarine).

Compared with the risk to heart health posed by saturated fat, the risk from trans fats is similar or slightly greater” (Sizer, 173).

Fat Facts Blurb

Fats have gotten a bad rap. Not only are they all not bad for you, but your body actually needs some! In particular, essential fatty acids (EFAs) like those found in nuts and many different types of fish. EFAs “serve as raw materials” or building blocks that the body uses to create other things it requires (Sizer, 151). Believe it or not, but fats are what helps tell our brains when we have had our fill of food or are satiated which is “the satisfaction of feeling full after a meal” (Sizer, 152).

Have you noticed that since the 1980s, when low-fat dieting became a craze, that people have just continued to get bigger and bigger? There are so many factors that have gone into the weight issue, but I believe this could be one of the big contributors along with a sedentary lifestyle and too many empty calories. We, Americans, still eat like we physically work hard and play hard when the reality for most of us is that we… Sit. All. Day. Long. We sit in our cars on our way to and from work, sit at our desks for seven hours or more a day, and then sit in front of our T.V.s to unwind from our mentally taxing day. Then go to bed.

And yet, many people still believe fat consumption is equal to fat accumulation in their body; that fats are the enemy to weight control. It’s simply not true! Empty calories, on the other hand, are a different story.

Here’s another thought: Some important nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning that fat is a vital component in the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate the given element. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble. So if you’re consuming a diet with little to no fat or have liver disease, you may be deficient in these vitamins. Though, it can be just as bad to consume an abundance of these vitamins.  The normal (safe) ranges for each as well as some food sources are as follows:

Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene (its precursor)- 500-3,000 micrograms (μg) per day. The Daily Recommended Intakes (DRIs) are 700 μg for women and 900 μg for men. And 3,000 μg is the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adults, but this is only for Vitamin A and not Beta-Carotene.

Food Examples: 1/2 cup Carrots (cooked), Spinach(cooked), and Sweet Potato (baked) provides 671 μg, 472 μg, and 961 μg (respectively).

Vitamin D- 10-50 micrograms (μg) per day. The DRIs are 5 μg for 19-50 year olds, 10 μg for 51-70 year olds, and 15 μg for over 70 years of age (no matter gender). The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 50 μg (or 2,000 International Units (IU)) per day, but “[s]ome experts are calling for significant increases on both the target …. and in the Tolerable Upper Intakes” (Sizer, 237). They believe it should be raised to no more than 125 μg per day; a substantial increase.

Food Examples: “Vitamin D is unique among nutrients in that the body can synthesize all it needs with the help of sunlight” (Sizer, 235). 3 oz. of Salmon (15.3 μg) and a teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil (11 μg) are the best food sources though, if you aren’t getting enough sun.

Vitamin E- The DRI is 15 milligrams (mg) per day for adults. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 1,000 mg per day. Because it’s an antioxidant, it fights “unstable molecules known as free radicals.” Here’s a fun fact: “Free radicals, left unchecked, cause inflammation that may contribute to some cancers, heart disease, or other diseases” (Sizer, 239).

Food Examples: 1 oz. Wheat Germ and 2 Tablespoons of Sunflower Seeds provide 4.5 mg and 5.8 mg, respectively.

Vitamin K- The DRIs are 90 μg for women and 120 μg for men. Because toxicity is so rare in healthy adults, a Tolerable Upper Intake Level has not been set. However, extreme caution should be used with synthetic, supplemental forms. In case, you’ve never heard of Vitamin K, it is a necessary part of blood clotting.

Food Examples: Dark green leafy vegetables (or dark GLVs) are the best and richest sources of Vitamin K, providing “an average of 300 μg per 1/2 cup serving” (Sizer, 242). So eat your leafy greens!!!

{Fat-free and low-fat diets are often harmful because they prevent the proper uptake/ absorption of these essential nutrients. I’m thinking, now that I’ve done this overview, a more thorough post on each may be smart because I’ve realized in recent years that not everybody knows this stuff. Not everyone has taken the time to learn about it or take a class on it. So a weekly post on different nutrients will be a definite sometime in the future. :D}

The Difference in Fat Cell Size

Since taking both the nutrition and anatomy/ physiology classes at university, I have been turning a thought around in my head and pondering its meaning. When most people think of fat storage in their body, they imagine a collection of excess fat cells. (Or at least, that’s how I used to see it.) In reality, when our bodies store fat, we don’t gain fat cells, our fat cells simply expand and grow. My nutrition book put is this way, “These fat cells seem able to expand almost indefinitely– the more fat they store, the larger they grow. An obese person’s fat cells may be many times the size of a thin person’s” (Sizer, 150). So the thought, I’ve come to think about stems from seeing an advertising flier for liposuction… If a person’s body has the exact same number of fat cells as the day they were born, no matter how much excess has been stored, then once a person has had liposuction would their body become misshapen if/when they lose weight naturally? Liposuction is often done on the midsection and/or hindquarters. I don’t know, but I’m thinking liposuction may not be a good thing for body image in the long run.

NOW…. On to some points from Posner and Hlivka:

Cortisol is a stress hormone that our bodies produce when we are under stress and it is connected with the retention of abdominal fat. There have been commercials in recent years of diet pills that supposedly block cortisol production. Honestly, I don’t know if any of those work or not.

~ “[S]tudies have shown: A connection between stress, weight gain, and increased ‘belly fat,’even among lean women with no propensity towards obesity” (Posner, 56). Stress impacts the body in a myriad of ways beyond this, but not all have to do with fats.

The following excerpt from pages 114-115 of The Stress Eater Diet concurs with my Nutrition textbook:

The Skinny on Fat

 “Since 1980, the amount of fat in the average American diet has decreased from 40 percent of total calories to 33 percent. Although this is a positive trend, people have more than made up for lower fat intakes with larger portion sizes of other types of foods. Larger portion sizes equal more calories and more calories lead to weight gain, regardles of whether it’s fat, protein, or carbohydrates.

“Fat provides a feeling of fullness, which can help control overeating [emphasis mine]. By cutting fat out of their diets, people may lose the ‘satiation’ signal. In addition, many ‘low fat’ and ‘no fat’ foods can be just as high in calories compared to the regular versions, since fat is replaced with sugars or high calorie sweeteners to add back flavor. So when losing or maintaining your weight, pay attention to calorie counts to decide which product to use. Along with fewer calories, the ‘real’ version may have a better balance of nutrients, and you’ll feel fuller faster without sacrificing taste.”

{Isn’t that crazy?! How did people buy so easily and readily into the fat-free craze? I don’t know if you have this problem where you live or not, but there are certain grocery stores here that only give the option of fat-free and low-fat. I find it frustrating! Especially when I’m looking for plain yogurt; I only like the regular version. Look closer the next time you go grocery shopping, see if you’re even offered the regular versions.} One thing which I have not focused on in this talk about fats is the impact the excess weight has on the body, but I will be sure to cover that in the near future! I’ll also do a more detailed blog on EFAs in the future. 🙂

SO… Remember the rule of calories in and calories out when selecting your foods:

Caloric Balance

Important Note about this blog’s author:

While I will, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness in May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.

So again, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet.

Information from The Stress Eater Diet book as well as:

~ Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney (We used this book in our Nutrition class at school.)

I got to looking at the resource pages in the back of Posner and Hlivka’s book and found these two links:

www.stresseaterdiet.com (Book support website)

www.stresseaterdiet.com/blog (The author’s blog offering new studies, research, tips, and advice)

One final thought, I love the little things that Vitacost puts on their Facebook page; sometimes they’re funny and other times merely informative:

Waistline Wasteland

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4 thoughts on “Part FOUR~ Surprising Fat Facts

  1. Hi, My name is Kennedy Im from Colorado. I just retired from the army. I enlisted young and retired young. Im seeking a new career path in this field. Hope you professionals can advise me how can i start please

    • Kennedy,
      The best way to begin is to get on a path of perpetual education. Information in health and wellness fields are constantly changing, so it helps to always be reading and researching topics. This is especially true if your sources are scholarly in nature, most .com sources aren’t the best. Also, there are many degree paths you can take through a college or university (if you haven’t already begun with that). Best of luck! 😀

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