Will Eating Fat Make Me Fat?
You may have heard that fat should be avoided when trying to lose weight. However, eating fat itself does not necessarily cause you to immediately pile on weight.
Why do we gain weight?
Losing weight relies on the balance of calories in (the food you eat) and calories out (the energy you burn through metabolism or exercise). A calorie is simply a unit of energy, and your body needs energy to be able to function. If your body doesn’t use all the energy you put in it, it will store the excess energy to be used later when you are in an energy or calorie deficit. Some excess calories are stored as glycogen in the muscle or liver, however once these are full you will store excess energy as fat. To put it simply, consuming more calories than you burn will cause you to gain weight, consuming less calories than you burn will cause you to lose weight.
Energy is consumed in three main forms: carbohydrates, protein, or fat, with fat being the most calorie dense. Consuming 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories, while 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein only contains 4 calories.
Eating lots of fat COULD make you fat, but only because you are consuming a large amount of calories. You would also likely gain weight if you ate the same number of calories in carbohydrates or protein, as you are in a calorie surplus.
Why is fat important?
Fat is an important macronutrient necessary for your body to function normally. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat soluble, meaning you need to eat fat to help these vitamins absorb into the body. If an individual’s fat intake is too low, they will be deficient in these vitamins. Deficiency in these vitamins can lead to issues with eyesight, skin problems, and cognitive problems.
Fat provides satiety, which is the feeling of being full. Lower fat foods may actually cause individuals to over eat as they do not feel full, leading them to consume more calories than they would have if they had eaten a food containing fats.
Additionally, fat is an important ingredient in the production of oestrogen and other hormones. A lower than recommended intake can negatively impact the hormonal balance and cycle in women, leading to larger health issues.
There’s bad fats and good fats?
There are different kinds of fats, and some are better for you than others. Unsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation, can help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health and are often described as ‘good fats’. An example of an unsaturated fat that you may know is omega-3 fatty acids, the kind that is commonly found in fatty fish and walnuts. Other examples of healthy fat sources include avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews.
Saturated fats, often simply called ‘bad fats’, are foods which should be consumed sparingly as they can negatively impact heart health and cholesterol levels. These fats can be found in meat (particularly fatty cuts), deep fried foods, and palm oil among other sources.
So will eating fat make me fat?
In short, no. Eating in a calorie surplus is what causes you to gain fat. Fat is an important macronutrient that keeps your body healthy! You should aim to reduce your intake of saturated fats, and eat unsaturated fats in moderation to keep your body functioning well.
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