More about fats for a healthy brain

Can eating fat make me fat?

Even though a gram of fat stores nearly eight times the amount of energy than a gram of digestible carbohydrates, the fat does get converted by the body into energy straightaway. It actually takes longer to achieve this. Just like protein, it takes time to convert this type of food into energy compared to, say, digestible carbohydrates (such as refined sugars). If you had to make a choice between carbohydrates and fats, consuming healthy and clean fats is better for you.

However, fats have a habit of accumulating certain chemicals from the environment in higher concentrations than normal, and consuming these "contaminated" fats will, of course, accumulate in the body. Usually called toxins, some of these added chemicals can be water-soluble and so make it easier to remove in the blood via the kidneys. Fat-soluble toxins, on the other hand, are harder to remove and requires the liver to work to convert fat to water for the toxins to be more effectively expelled. Examples of fat-soluble toxins include things like pesticides, preservatives, food additives, heavy metals, pollutants, plastics and other environmental chemicals. Depending on the type of chemicals stored in the fats, they could potentially be harmful to your body (and can lead to cancer). Sure, you will receive some valuable fat-soluble vitamins from certain types of fats, but some other chemicals stored in the fat can accumulate to levels that might be of more harm to your body and brain.

Yet even if the right "clean" and healthier fats are consumed, there is considerable debate among nutritionists about whether 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. Therefore, it does not matter how much carbohydrates you eat, you will will still get fat eating a diet high in fat intake and you need other methods to reduce the fat to improve your health (such as more exercise). The other claim is that saturated fats will naturally increase, and potentially quite substantially, from eating more meat and dairy products (because of how the animals are grown by farmers to fatten them up prior to being slaughtered for their meat). It does not matter if you eat a low-carbohydrate diet, high consumption of red meats and other animal-based products will result 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

A scientific study has been conducted to 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 (this reduced carbohydrate diet can be called the ketogenic diet).

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."

Also, there are indications that the body can control how much fat gets absorbed from foods depending on whether it needs it or not. You can never eliminate fat from the body. Not even the most highly exercised and heavily muscular body can be free of fats. It is impossible to achieve. Some fats are essential. In fact, the brain needs certain fats to function properly. The body also needs some fats and can create and store these fats and later utilise them as required, and if there is not enough fat in the body, it will absorb it from the food. So this would suggest that it does not matter how much fat is consumed. The body will decide the amount of fat it needs and will absorb just enough from food if there is an insufficient quantity acquired in the body. Any more fat and the body allows it to pass through and leave the body. That appears to be the reality.

Whatever the truth, the study does assume that the fats consumed are of a higher quality form free of accumulated toxins. However, two other things are being revealed from the study: you need to consume some fats, and eating a low-carbohydrate diet will help you to lose weight.

Is this true?

To learn more, it is time that we take a closer look at carbohydrates.