Bacon and Butter and Oils, Oh My!

Bacon. Butter. Oils. All very delicious, but feared by many. These fine foods are the some of items that we have learned are “bad” for us.

This is what we’ve been told… “Avoid fats if you want to lose weight”, “Avoid fats to lean out and perform better”, and “Avoid fats to stay healthy.”

There is some truth to these claims if you are eating unhealthy fats, however the restriction of healthy fat intake can be a dangerous rollercoaster for our bodies.

The real truth? Our body NEEDS quality fats! Bottom line.

ESPN posted a great article last week about Houston Texan’s football star J.J. Watt’s 9,000 calorie performance diet. Highlighting the body’s need for fat, it discusses Watt’s rigorous lean protein, low-carb diet and how something was still missing for optimal performance. 

This restrictive diet resulted in energy crashes for the star player. By adding the right fats into his nutrition routine and allowing himself to enjoy foods again, Watts was better able to absorb the nutrients he was eating, quickly allowing his energy levels to improve and removing a lot of the mental pressure of having such restrictions.

As I have found personally, as well as through clinical practice, adding (the right) fats to the diet can have a quick affect on improving overall health while increasing energy, performance and functioning.

Of course, we don’t all need a 9,000 calorie diet. The trick is to listen to your body and learn what it needs. Everyone is different, both biologically and in their lifestyle, two factors which will highly influence your dietary needs.

Fats are essential for our bodies in several ways:

  • Provide a source of energy
  • Are the building blocks for our cell membrane (necessary to keep our cells healthy and functioning properly)
  • Required for the adequate use of proteins in our body
  • Help slow the absorption of food for proper energy regulation
  • Necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Help to regulate our inflammatory process

These are just the basics. The function of healthy fats in our bodies are astounding and contrary to popular belief, your body requires quite a high intake of healthy fats. Roughly 30% of your daily caloric intake should be coming from a good quality source of fat.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Organic grass-fed butter
  • Pastured animal meats
  • Healthy oils: flaxseed, walnut, hemp, blackcurrant seed, sunflower, sesame, palm, coconut, extra virgin olive.
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds

What’s the best part? These fats taste good!

Now, as exciting as having permission to eat more fats is, I’m not recommending that you go out and start wrapping everything you eat in bacon (although, yes, you should do that sometimes because bacon is awesome!). We are not all doing rigorous two-a-days. But since Watt’s is, he definitely has the right idea with his new diet changes.

For those of us who are not football stars…

Start by making healthy changes to your diet. Make some room on your plate for a healthy fat, by getting rid of unhealthy fats, processed food and/or refined carbs. Nourish yourself. Food is fuel for our every cell and the quality of what we eat determines the level at which they will function.

Jessica Sullivan, LMSW, SFG