So I’ve stumbled across a lot of research lately detailing how much better a high-fat, low-carb diet is for you. This is probably going to disappoint a lot of people (sorry Italian food lovers) but there are some huge upsides to this as well! It’s time to stop relying so heavily on diet staples like rice and pasta, and up your intake of extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, dark chocolate and chia seeds! Happy days.
Fat is good for your heart, who’d have thought
Studies show that a diet comprising of high (good) fat and low carbs substantially reduces your risk of getting cardiovascular disease (any disease relating to your cardiovascular system: heart, blood, arteries, veins). It also is important for healthy, sustainable weight loss, and also for general well being. If you cut down on sugar, you’ll get less cravings and won’t have blood sugar crashes throughout the day leaving you lethargic and groggy.
The more research that is done on carbs and sugars, the more we see how bad it is for us. It’s quite well known now that sugar is comparable to crack cocaine in terms of level of addiction, but what we’re realising is that starchy carbs may be almost as bad! The main difference between sweet and starchy carbs is that the sweet kind are simple sugars, quick releasing and easy to use; and the savoury kind are complex sugars, they take a bit longer to breakdown therefore provide a slow release of energy slightly more long-term, however they’re both made out of the same sugar molecules. Starchy carbs were previously believed to be good for us because it didn’t cause the spike in insulin levels (a hormone that promotes uptake of glucose into cells and out of the bloodstream) that sweet carbs produce and then inevitable low (hypoglycemia) that comes after a sugar hit, complete with tiredness, irritability and cravings for more sugar. However we’re now realising that even though the sugar in starchy crabs is released over time, nonetheless it is still sugar and has the same detrimental effects on cells.
Fat (+ a bit of science)
Another dietry misconception is that fat is bad for you. We’ve known for a while now that there are lots of different kinds of fats and that some are good and some are bad. For example the saturated fats in meat and dairy products were believed to up the amount of LDL’s (low-density lipoprotein cholestorol carriers) in the blood, depositing more cholestorol than is needed into the walls of your arteries – triggering atherosclerosis. And HDL’s remove excess cholesterol from arteries and is present in plant based fats such as olive oil and nuts.
Well now we know that there are two types of LDL’s: big and small. Small LDL’s are responsible for blood clots and big LDL’s aren’t, and sugars contribute to small LDL’s while fats contribute to large LDL’s. So it turns out that even saturated fat is better for you than sugar. Madness.
Eating a low-sugar diet promotes two very beneficial cellular processes: ketogenisis and autophagy. Ketogenisis is where your body breaks down fats into ketones, an alternative energy source, during very low blood glucose levels. This enables you to get rid of fat stores and provides your cells with healthy ketone energy. Autophagy is a cells version of upcycling. In times of cellular stress (e.g. fasting, exercise and eating a high-fat, low-protein diet), a cell is forced to recycle it’s own cellular machinery in order to feed itself, thus getting rid of toxins and faulty proteins. This boosts the immune system, is anti-aging, promotes a healthy weight, increases brain function and many many more fantastic things.
So after all this it’s safe to say eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Most of the different parts of your body are made out of altered fat molecules so we need to provide our bodies with the correct building blocks to make it work as efficiently as it can. Eating a high-healthy-fat diet will help you loose weight, keep you fuller for longer and diminish damaging cravings! What’s more, it shouldn’t be difficult to switch up sugary treats for fatty treats and you won’t feel like you’re deprived of yummy foods. Being a vegan, it’ll be more challenging to fill up on fatty foods but I’m determined. Lots more avocados, brazil nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil and dark chocolate.