All through the 80s and early 90s, the “low fat” diet was considered the most obvious way to lose weight. (Fat still has a bad reputation as a result of the bad science from 20-30 years ago, but we’ve learned a lot since then). The biggest revelation, that most people still don’t realize, is that overall consumption of fat has very little to do with weight gain (other than the calories that come with it, of course). We also know that fat plays a critical role in health, mood, and that not getting enough fat in our diet can actually make weight loss more difficult!
By the way, when I say “fat”, I’m specifically referring to the good kinds of fat. Trans-fat, saturated fats, etc. are never good for you and should be kept to extreme moderation. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are actually very healthy!
With the Weightix system, we try very hard to make sure people get the correct ratio of protein, carbs, and fat for their specific body-type, age, gender, weight, and activity level. However, these ratios are never an exact science — and sometimes they need to be adjusted.
Here are the top signs we look for to tell us that someone’s fat intake might be too low!
- Dry skin: This is a sign that your oil-producing glands may be short of the fatty-acids they need. This is one of the reasons I tell the people that I coach that they ought to be taking an Omega-3 supplement as part of their daily diet.
- Depression/Anger/Moodiness: Nobody likes to be told that they’re hard to get along with, but I had a lot of personal experience with this one when my fat-ratios were off as I was trying to lose weight. I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around! I found that when I got the ratios right (through a LOT of trial and error, because at the time, I didn’t understand what was going on), my mood improved significantly. Women are particularly vulnerable to mood problems when their fat intake is too low. Also worth noting …. We know that the Omega-3 supplement significantly reduces the likelihood of depression! (This has been studied extensively!!). In fact, one study in particular noted that treating patient’s with Omega-3 was as effective, or more effective, as anti-depressants! So to say that our fat intake has a big impact on our mood would be a huge understatement… And I’ve personally witnessed many times with people I’ve worked with who complain about mood / depression that increasing their fat intake generally solves the problem.
- Lack of energy: Of the three macro-nutrients, fat contains the most energy-per-gram (by far), and it’s our body’s first choice for the fueling our daily activities!! Fat can also slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which can help minimize insulin spikes. (Although no amount of fat can prevent pure sugar from causing a glycemic reaction!!) — but eating a mix of healthy carbs, and healthy fats, can even out the chemical reaction from the carbs. If you’re constantly feeling drained as you go through your day — evaluating your fat intake is the first step.
- You’re cold all the time: Dietary fat actually helps the body regulate temperature. Not getting enough fat has also been cited as the likely cause of chronically cold hands / feet.
- You can’t think straight or concentrate: Fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain, so science generally considers them to be a crucial component of metal performance. Dietary fat has been proven to build cell membranes in the brain (yeah, it grows brain cells!) as well as increasing the speed of our nerve fibers. You can actually get the fat needed to improve brain function from Omega-3 supplements. (You’d think I was trying to sell you Omega-3 supplements by reading this, huh?… So.. standard disclaimer: I’m not selling Omega-3 supplements.)
There are a variety of other benefits to getting enough fat (most of which can be filled with Omega-3 supplements)… things like vision problems, achy joints, anxiety, and low HDL cholesterol are all (often) symptoms of not getting enough of the healthy-fats in your diet!