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Fats won't make you fat

Actually, on the contrary, fats could be what’s missing in your diet.

Take young Clare back in 2016. A whole three years ago! I had been “dieting” for a few months. I was pretty strict. Low carb, low fat…pretty much low everything.

On top of my low-everything diet, I was doing CrossFit and running on the weekends. I had just started grad school and was working two jobs on top of all of it. Things tanked. I crashed and I crashed hard. I was at such a low I stopped having a period.

I know most women who are reading this are saying to themselves “Hell yes, I don’t want a period!!!” Men are saying “Ew, gross. I don’t want to talk about that.” Well we are. 1. Periods are normal and we kinda need them to keep the Earth populated. 2. They’re only weird and gross if YOU let them be weird and gross. 3. Directed at the women who don’t want their periods. I get it. They’re inconvenient and sometimes suck. But think really quick about what it means to NOT have one. My body HAD to stop a normal biological function because it sensed so much stress and turmoil that it assumed it was unsafe to bring life into the world. Your period, women, is a marker of your health. If you have one, then your body trusts that it’s in a safe and suitable environment to bring life into the world. If you don’t have one, then it means something is off and out of whack that makes your body turn off its reproductive system. Whether you’re happy about being period free or not, this is a big deal when we’re talking about health.

For men, this would be if you stopped having a sex drive (and women, too, y’all are allowed to have sex drives as well, don’t worry). Imagine a 20 y/o male who has no sex drive whatsoever…it’s the same thing. His body senses an unsafe environment which is unfit for children. Maybe he’s in a war fighting for his life. Maybe he’s stranded on an island after a plane crash and only has Wilson for company. In reality, he’s just overtrained and under-fed. His body is protecting himself and future life by shutting down the process that would bring life into the world.

So back to my situation.

I started eating a little bit better. By better, I mean more. I increased my protein to bodyweight and carbs up to at least 200g. However, I kept my fats low because my body could not digest them. I’d be up for hours with heartburn and reflux so bad I thought about going to the ER a couple times.

So what was the problem? I was eating only the pro-inflammatory fats: nut butters, chicken, butter, cheaper oils. These are your omega 6 fats. Every time I kept eating them, they kept creating inflammation that wasn’t helping me get any better.

Instead, what I needed to be doing (and what I did) was change my fat intake completely and incorporate a lot more omega 3 fats. These are our anti-inflammatory fats that are essential in every diet. Think if it like magic ibuprofen without the risk some stomach ulcers. Omega 3s exist in your cell membranes and help control what gets in and out of your cells and how your cells respond to outside factors. They help produce hormones (why I wasn’t having a period). Most importantly, they protect you from a multitude of diseases: dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and most recently discovered cancer. We discovered this both in laboratory settings and also by studying cultures that eat a diet high in omega 3s and low in omega 6s, such as the Asian diet. These cultures have some of the lowest rates of the above-mentioned diseases and it’s likely due to fat-profile they include in their diets.

It is recommended to consume a diet with a 1:1 ratio of omega 6s to omega 3s if not more omega 3s to combat the pro-inflammatory nature of these omega 6s.

However, for the typical Westerner, its recommended to shoot for a 4-5:1 ratio of omega 6s to omega 3s.

Unfortunately, most Americans eat about 15-25x as much omega 6 fats versus omega 3s.

Fats high in omega 3s (fats you should eat more of):

  • Wild salmon

  • Cold-water fish

  • Grass-fed beef (yes eat red meat people!!!)

  • Sardines

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Avocados

  • Flaxseeds

  • Walnuts

  • Cauliflower

Fats high in omega 6s (fats you should limit)

  • Poultry (a chicken only diet isn’t the best thing for you)

  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds)

  • Oils (corn, peanut, sunflower, soybean)

  • Other seeds

Eating a diet with a more balanced ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 fats will help you in so many ways. Eating a more anti-inflammatory diet will help you with both your weight-loss goals and your muscle gain goals. Not only will it help you reach your goals, but it will keep you healthy in the process!

Apply today to get nutrition coaching to help you reach your goals in the healthiest state possible!

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