Why Eating FAT Does Not Make You FAT


According to Dr. Walter Willett, the Chair of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, the campaign to reduce fat in the diet has had some pretty disastrous consequences.

One of the most unfortunate unintended consequences of the fat-free crusade was that, although actual fat consumption went down, Americans got much fatter, during this period of time.

Accordingly to Dr. Willett, If you’ve been able to keep your weight, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose under good control while eating a low-fat diet, this type of diet may be working for you. But for many people, low-fat diets don’t work. In fact, dozens of studies have found that low-fat diets are no better for health than moderate-or high-fat diets—and for many people, they may be worse.

“When we began our studies back in the late 1970s, we expected that we would find a relationship between, say, fat intake and breast cancer, because that was almost an accepted relationship. But as the data started coming in over the years, we did not find any higher risk of breast cancer among women who consume more fat in the diet. And the same was true for colon cancer and for heart attacks and risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, the percentage of calories from fat in a diet has not been related to any important health outcome.” said Dr. Willett.

Yes, “the percentage of calories from fat in a diet has not been related to any important health outcome.” said Dr. Willett.

WOW, right? And he is head of Nutrition at Harvard.  And it is true.

There’s been a very simplistic idea: Just because fats have more calories per ounce than carbohydrates, we should be eliminating fats or reducing fats to control our total caloric intake, in other words, to help control our weight. What’s really important though is how satisfying a diet is, because we have very complex mechanisms that control our total intake of calories, and it’s become pretty apparent that if we have a high-carbohydrate diet, particularly high refined carbohydrate, it makes it much more difficult to control our total caloric intake. That’s probably because when we eat refined carbohydrates, we get these swings in blood glucose and insulin that lead to hunger between meals; whereas if we have a diet that’s somewhat higher in fat, we tend to be more satisfied over the long run.Even though each ounce of fat has twice as many calories, you eat fewer calories because they’re more satisfying.As it turns out, many high-fat foods — sometimes meat, but even a handful of nuts — are often very satisfying even though the physical amount is not very great. Saturated fat has been blamed for causing cancer and heart disease.Bacon, butter, and red meat are the poster children for obesity and heart attacks.   High saturated fat intake is linked to high blood cholesterol.High blood cholesterol is linked to increased rate of heart disease.  Right????Maybe not….. let’s take a look at the facts…..


  1. From the Framingham Heart Study: The more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum [blood] cholesterol….the people who ate the most saturated fat…weighed the least and were the most physically active.” (Nourishing Traditions, p. 5)

  2. From a 2001 Harvard research review article:  “The amount of saturated fat in the diet may have little if any bearing on the risk of heart disease ”  And the review found “a weak and nonsignificant positive association between dietary cholesterol and risk of CHD [coronary heart disease].” (In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan, p. 43)

  3. The fat around the heart matches beef fat and other fat only found in animals.  The heart needs this fat – “It draws on this reserve in times of stress.” (NT p. 11)

The TRUTH is that we actually should be eating saturated fats.  I am a firm believer that the current state of unhealth that we see in our society today comes from moving away from the more traditional ways that our ancestors ate.  Like most animals, our bodies are mostly comprised of mono-unsaturated and saturated fats.  And that’s what we should be eating.

1. Saturated fats are essential for proper nutrient absorption. Vitamins A, D, and E cannot be absorbed into our bodies without saturated fats acting as a carrier, nor can calcium.Using a bit of coconut oil, butter, or ghee to cook your greens in actually helps your body absorb more calcium.  Grass-fed butter is  packed with nutrients, including 10 vitamins, 10 minerals, and 18 amino acids!  Olive oil is perfect on salads and veggies because it contains a bit of saturated fat to help with absorption.

2. Saturated fats are more satisfying, and help curb cravings. Saturated fats are great for energy, converting slowly and steadily into cellular fuel as needed, keeping our blood sugar levels stable.  This can help dramatically in reducing sugar cravings and keeps you full longer.

3. Saturated fats may boost metabolism and aid weight loss efforts. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that medium-chain fatty acids, like those found in coconut oil, were three times more effective at raising the metabolism than long-chain fatty acids.

Let go of your fear of eating fats.  Eggs are a great way to get healthy fats and nutrients.  Avocados are amazing as well.  And who can say no to real BACON (without nitrates)?And remember that body fat is where toxins that shouldn’t come into contact with our essential organs are stored, so the more toxic the environment that the animal was raised in, the more toxins we are likely to consume in their stored body fat. Grass-fed butter and meats are best.And educate yourself on the dangers of consuming industrial Omega-6 oils.

Happy Eating

Christine Crawford


Harvard School of Public Health, Nutrition Source

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