The Fat Mythbuster
Fat Won’t Make You Fat
As a child, I always wanted to be on Mythbusters. I thought it was simply the best program on television. For an hour every Thursday night, I’d sit down and watch Adam and Jamie compete in their good-faith efforts to solve a “myth.” Even though I was always rooting for team Jamie (sorry, Adam), it really didn’t matter; 80 percent of the time they busted the myths and proceeded to blow up or otherwise completely destroy their creations.
Now, since the Discovery Channel hasn’t returned my numerous emails asking for permission to combine Fight Quest and Mythbusters, into a super show starring me, I’ve had to take matters into my own hands and have been on a vigilante mission ever since. Although I don't have a background in special effects, so let's stay within the realm of fitness.
Myth: Eating fat will make you fat.
The truth is that while eating too much of anything will make you fat, eating reasonable amounts of fat might actually help you lose weight. So why the common misconception?
As many of my online coaching clients will attest, counting calories is hard, and at the end of the day fat loss comes down to calories in vs. calories out.
Fatty foods have more calories per gram, and therein lies the problem: while protein and carbohydrates both contain 4 calories per gram, fat contains 9 calories per gram. If you are keeping score at home, that’s more than double!
Clearly calories don’t tell the whole story, though, or this article would have been over before it began. The way that fat helps you lose weight is via your endocrine system. When you eat fat, your body releases certain hormones, which cause two major reactions:
1) Fat makes you feel full! Think of fatty foods—avocados, nuts, cheese, or olive oil, for example. Most of those don’t leave you wanting.
2) Eating fat helps your body burn fat. Practice makes perfect with this: the more fat you eat, the more your body is equipped to handle burning fat.
If you have hit a weight-loss plateau (and you are already tracking what you eat), try changing up your ratio of macronutrients. That is, carbs, protein, and fat.
Most people’s splits look like 50/30/20. When I changed my diet to 30/40/30, I dropped five pounds in a week. Although I’d recommend starting to experiment with a less extreme shift—something like 40/35/25—eating fewer carbohydrates is usually a first step. And, since you’ve gotta replace it with something, why not some fats?
Therefore I feel pretty safe saying that this myth is busted.
Do you have any fitness myths you’d like busted? Email me at email@example.com.