The Fat Cure
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Since the late 1970’s America has seen the typical person balloon well into the overweight category as defined by the BMI. As much as 80%, or higher, of adults are now considered overweight. Most of us have seen the very disturbing national map color-coding the spread of obesity and chronic disease, and awareness of the obesity epidemic is certainly at an all-time high. Having been in the nutrition and fitness industry for several years, I can personally attest to the futility of most people’s efforts to lose weight and keep it off. The laundry list of recommended treatments for obesity just does not seem to get the job done; ask anyone who is struggling with weight and they will testify that the multitude of approaches have not worked in the long-term, and in most cases have left them worse off.
As a concerned parent I have given great consideration to the food that my children eat. Ever since my first child was born I have been on a mission to prevent this devastating trend from affecting my family. I have read countless books, reviewed endless research, considered multiple angles, and persevered through many frustrations and setbacks.
As of about one year ago I have settled on what I believe to be the answer to the obesity epidemic, and the answer is surprising. Since before I was born our public health systems, schools, media outlets, and just about every agency of authority has been on a tear to demonize saturated fats like those found in dairy and meats. My time in the fitness industry led me down a path of not only recommending, but practicing ultra low-fat diets, with plenty of intense exercise and “6 small meals a day.” For years I was an absolute workout machine, and I restricted fat intake to insanely low levels. According to current medical recommendations I should have been a paradigm of health – and while I was indeed fit and muscular, my health was not nearly as good as I would have expected. One metric that I just could not square with my plan was that I was technically considered overweight by BMI standards – even at my peak level of fitness. Some might argue that I simply had too much muscle mass, but this was not always my goal and I felt surely there was a way to get my body weight down into a “normal” range. I decided to try upping intense cardio to 45 minutes to an hour, 5-6 times per week, all while maintaining a low-fat diet with “slow-burning” complex carbs… These recommendations are so ingrained in the public psyche; it maddens me to even put them in writing because they are absolutely wrong! Many a patient walk into a dietician’s office, or doctor’s office and these same outdated recommendations are rattled off… eat less and exercise… eat low-fat… more cardio… just have more self control… AGH!!
These recommendations have now been scientifically proven not to be effective for long-term weight loss. And what’s worse the studies indicate that the large majority of people who try these methods will end up heavier than when they started.
I’ve said my piece on the current situation we’re in, and there is plenty more research and testimonial available online or in print for those that care to drown their sorrows in more sob stories about the obesity epidemic, but I’d like to focus on the solution now, rather than the problem.
Simply put the cure is FAT. Somehow our intuitive understanding of what our bodies need to survive and maintain health, something that for millennia came intuitively to our ancestors, has been lost. The link between our consciousness and our bodies has been severed or altered in some way, and we have been led down a path of unnatural food behavior that has culminated in an all out epidemic. The belief that fat is bad for us has permeated every corner of our society, and what’s worse, there are so many man-made chemically derived processed oils out there masquerading as “healthier” fats, that to some extent the hype is real. Man-made fats are absolutely bad in all the ways that we are told – bad for our hearts, blood pressure, weight gain, etc. The key here though is differentiating these ungodly concoctions from those natural fats that our bodies were meant to depend on.
Our connection to animal derived fats must be restored and this process will begin with a general understanding of why this must happen and how to do it in everyday life. I hesitate to get too much into the science of why eating more fat is a good thing, 1- because while I understand science when presented with it, I am hardly qualified to teach it to others, and 2- there are much better resources out there for learning about the benefits of using fats as a primary source of energy available with a simple Google search or leafing through a few books at the nearest book store.
Plainly speaking our bodies are naturally predisposed to burning fats for energy. Having something to do with fat having 9 calories per gram consumed, and carbs and protein only having 4 calories per gram consumed, fat is simply an excellent source of energy and is an essential component to a rounded diet. A less scientific, yet perhaps more experientially valid point about eating fat is that it is impossible to overeat. For example we have all had times when we sat down to a gigantic plate of freshly cooked pasta and eaten WAAAY more than we should have, but nobody has sat down to a huge plate of butter and tore through it in the same way; attempting to do so would surely lead to vomiting and sickness. That being said, it should come as no surprise that when we incorporate a hefty percentage of natural fats into a balanced meal then we are a lot less likely to overeat. I personally have found that incorporating moderate amounts of fat in a pleasingly palatable way to meals results in my feeling much fuller for much longer throughout the day and night. There definitely is still that period where my brain has to catch up to my stomach, that all too well known “15 minute” delay time, but I 100% hit the wall of fullness if I wait the recommended 10-15 minutes after eating a moderately sized well rounded meal with fat as the main component.
If you’re still with me at this point in the post then the next logical question is how to make fat the main component in a meal. This is a concept so foreign to us because all of the aforementioned fat slandering propaganda we’ve been digesting for years, no pun… We are programmed to minimize the fats in a meal and make protein and carbs the stars of the show. Our food culture has literally thousands of ways to cook the perfect steak, or barbeque the perfect chicken, no doubt with a heaping amount of sugar-laden, potentially cancer causing (gmo), barbeque sauce. We fetishize all of the different ways to cook meats, or pair them with sugary sweet sauces and desserts. Don’t believe me? Then go see for yourself at your grocery store of choice; sugar, or other sweeteners are likely a main component of nearly every single sauce available in the store. Want to make that sauce from scratch? Look up the first 10 recipes on Google for your favorite meal, and I challenge you to find three that don’t incorporate sugar at all. We’ve replaced our need for animal fats for a sick obsession with sugar and refined oils. Lacking the richness of buttery, creamy animal fats on our dinner plates, we have overcompensated by going heavy on the “tastiness factor” by adding sugar to everything. And we all know where that has got us; our most prized asset, the children of our world, are developing diabetes, and becoming obese at a rates that should shake anyone to the core of their being.
I believe that our obsession with cooking techniques, new recipes, food shows, and general overindulgence with food is simply a byproduct of starving ourselves of the most essential part of a truly healthy diet, the fat. The truth is that how food is cooked becomes much less important when it is smothered in a rich, creamy béarnaise sauce. As the late, great Anthony Bourdain said, “An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.” Or as Don King is quoted saying, “If you want to sell a steak, you can’t just have the sizzle, you gotta have sauce.”
It is funny to me that the idea of having sauce is so pervasive in pop culture. A quick Google search about “sauce” quotes yields hundreds of references to the importance of sauce in food and culture, both literally and figuratively. The state of most sauces these days, and the ingredients they contain, is absolutely shameful, and what’s more, my claim is that this is the single most important factor in changing the way we eat and getting us back on a path to widespread health. By swapping the sugary, processed-oil filled, gmo preserved and flavored sauces with simple, buttery, creamy, animal fat rich sauces, we can reverse the trend of obesity and disease.
I have to stop myself here because that last statement seems absurd at first glance. How in the world could something like sauce hold the key to reversing a worldwide epidemic? Well, upon closer inspection this statement comes with a few all-important caveats. By removing the sugar-filled, chemically addictive sauces that permeate our food culture – literally, if you pay attention, these sauces are everywhere – and swapping them out with buttery rich, scratch made sauces, we are serving two very important purposes. The first is that instead of adding a sauce that makes us want to eat more and more, we are using a sauce that makes us feel full and satisfied, thus leading to smaller portion size and WAY more control over our appetite. The second is that we are getting a boost of much needed fat, where it is essential that we double or triple down on our fat intake so that we can satisfy our deeply seated hunger for more, and restore the health of our bodies so that we can finally curb the trend of ever greater obesity and diet-related disease.
An interesting trend in the diet world lately is the re-emergence of the Ketogenic diet. I’ll avoid getting into the specifics of the diet here, but for those who are interested there is ample research and specifics online with a simple search. Basically this diet recommends an ultra high amount of natural fats, with moderate protein and very minimal carbs. While this is likely too extreme for long term use, it is definitely a shot-in-the-arm type approach to healing our bodies from being fat-starved for the last 50 years or so. This approach would undoubtedly have a positive impact on most folks, and the underlying theme of boosting natural fat intake is exactly what we need. I see the development of diets like this as a societal knee-jerk reaction to being told to eat low-fat and high carb for so long.
The point here though is not that we need another diet, but we do need to be aware of what the problem is and take action to fix it. My assertion is that the answer lies in the sauce. Simple, yet profound, we can literally change the world by changing the sauce we use.