Thursday, April 17, 2008

Animal Fat – Is it bad for you?

A lot of people have bought into the idea that eating animal fat makes you fat. I guess it seems logical that fat = fat. Yet is this true? The success of the Atkins Diet seems to defy this simple logic.

I wonder if the pathway from ingested food to fat cells has been well studied. I’m sure it has and I will endeavour to find out. Does food enter the stomach, get digested, enter the bloodstream and then get deposited into the fat cells? Or is it a bit more complicated? The muscles have their own store of energy in the form of sugars for immediate use and this store can weigh up to two kilograms. Once this store is topped up I imagine that excess food is stored as fat. It is possible that fat is transported directly to the fat cells and bypasses the muscle stores however Atkins Diet which can be high in fat seems to prove that this is not the case.

Are carbs converted into fat? Certainly people on high carb low fat diets can get fat. What about people on high fat diets? Well there aren’t too many of those around but there are some. Inuit people traditionally lived on whale blubber and certain Indian tribes ate almost exclusively fresh meat. These people did not get fat. Western people who lived with the Inuit for extended periods of time found that they had to eat animal fat rather than just the lean meat in order to stay healthy.

The fact is that people are getting fatter and eating less fat. Many products in food stores are labelled as low fat but you only find out that they are high in sugars if you read the fine print. A sure way to gaining excess weight is to eat a lot of carbohydrate.

The next argument is that eating fat can clog your arteries. This may be true but my feeling is that you would need to eat quite a lot and be sedentary and have other bad habits for this to be a problem. If you ate a moderate amount of fat and exercised hard for at least four hours a week my guess is you would be ok and probably more than ok. Your body needs fat and cholesterol to function probably much more than it does carbohydrates.

Of course everything in moderation but don’t be afraid to enjoy meat with a bit of fat or eggs fried in dripping. Roast potatoes done in dripping are great also. Stay focused on keeping fit and eating natural, minimally processed foods that your body has to work on to digest. Meat and fat is natural, far more natural for human consumption than bread or rice for instance.

No comments: