More about fats for a healthy brain

Can eating fat make me fat?

Fat does get converted by the body into energy, but it takes much longer to achieve this. Just like protein, it takes time to convert this type of food into energy. Compared to digestible carbohydrates (such as refined sugars), consuming healthy fats is certainly much better for you.

However, some fats can accumulate certain chemicals in higher concentrations. Depending on the type of chemicals stored in the fats, they could potentially be harmful to your body. Sure, you will receive some valuable fat-soluble vitamins from certain types of fats, but some other chemicals stored in the fat may get accumulated in levels that might be of more harm to your body and brain.

Yet even if the right "clean" and healthier fats are consumed, some nutritionists will disagree with the view that eating fat will not make you fat. Those who argue this point claim a low-carbohydrate diet — commonly used for weight loss since the idea was first popularised by Dr Robert Atkins in the 1970s — will only reduce weight in the form of water instead of body fat. The other claim is that saturated fats will increase substantially from eating more meat and dairy products (because of how the animals are grown by farmers) while on a low-carbohydrate diet, resulting in a higher risk of heart diseases from the excess cholesterol in the blood stream.

What is the truth about fats, protein and carbohydrates? Is there a right diet we should all follow (if you want to live and long and happy life)?

A scientific study

Now a scientific study has been conducted to finally settle the dispute and explain the diet you need to follow in order to "lose weight" and stay healthy.

In an American study financed by the National Institutes of Health with final results published on 2 September 2014 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, scientists brought together a random selection of 148 ethnically-diverse men and women. Half of the participants were instructed to lower only their intake of carbohydrate-rich foods, including sugary foods, grains, cereals and starches, while following a diet rich in proteins (mostly chicken, fish, red meats, pork or tofu together with vegetables) and fats (primarily unsaturated fats such as fish, olive oil and nuts). The other half were instructed to lower only their fat intake by at least 30 per cent of their daily energy intake while including more grains, cereals and starches (mostly breads, rice, potatoes and so on). Both groups were encouraged to eat a good supply of vegetables.

After one year, scientists analysed the participants' health. Looking at the effects of reduced carbohydrate and fat intake on the body in terms of weight loss and the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, scientists noticed a higher percentage of participants losing weight and improving cardiovascular health more effectively on the "cutting of carbohydrate foods intake" approach compared to the other group.

Dr Lydia A. Bazzano of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans and her colleagues said:

"The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

If you are an obese person with high cholesterol, I think you'd be highly unlikely to hear from your health practitioner that you should go on a low-carbohydrate diet. The public perception is that a diet high in fat could not possibly be healthy, but in fact it is healthy and is doing an even better job of lowering cardiovascular risk, according to my study."

This studied was conducted because, as Bezzano noted:

Low-carbohydrate diets are popular for weight loss, but their cardiovascular effects have not been well-studied, particularly in diverse populations."

Now at last scientists have attempted to measure the effects on the cardiovascular system as a result of this study. So if you ever need an easy way to lose weight without focusing on calories, just focus on what you eat. Choose low-carbohydrate foods and you will be well on your way to a healthier life.