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How Much Fat Should I Eat While Going SANE?


“Simply lowering the percentage of energy from total fat in the diet is unlikely to…reduce coronary heart disease incidence.” –  F.B. Hu, Harvard University

Overcoming the fear of fat is critical to eating a natural, balanced ratio of nutrients. We should never again skip SANE sirloin steak and non-starchy vegetables in favor of inSANE whole wheat spaghetti with whole wheat garlic bread. Fat is delicious, Satisfying, unAggressive, and almost impossible to overeat unless combined with starch or sweeteners. That is why most people end up losing weight on low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets like Atkins. Basically, any diet discouraging fat encourages weight gain.

You and I have already reviewed research disproving that foods containing fat are fattening, but let’s quickly recap: If we set aside the myths we’ve been told for the past forty years, there is no reason to think fat is bad for us. Natural foods contain fat. Natural foods were the only thing our ancestors ate for 99.8% of our evolution. How could the only foods available to us for 99.8% of our evolution harm us? If anything, we must have evolved to thrive on foods containing fats. Furthermore, the theory that fat is fattening has never been proven, despite over a billion dollars’ worth of research attempting to do so. Finally, a decline in fat in our diet has been accompanied by the largest spike in obesity and disease rates in history.

A great many scientific studies show that worrying about fat is at best a distraction, and at worst, harmful and fattening. Consider the research done just at the Harvard Medical School:

  • “Among European countries, no association was observed between the national percentage of energy from fat and median body mass index in men…a clear inverse relation was observed in women.”
  • “Limiting unsaturated fats, which is usually done by increasing carbohydrate…is detrimental. This is consistent with metabolic studies indicating that replacing unsaturated fats with carbohydrate increases triacylglycerol and decreases HDL cholesterol. Furthermore, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets provide a higher glycemic load, aggravate hyperinsulinemia [clogging], and may thus increase the risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease.”
  • “Studies and…trials have provided strong evidence that a higher intake of [omega-3] fatty acids from fish or plant sources lowers risk of coronary heart disease.”

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Next, let’s cover specifically how to eat SANE, natural, not necessarily fat-free foods, while easily avoiding inSANE foods that facilitate fat gain and feeling more satisfied and energized than ever.

Fat FAQs
1. The Smarter Science of Slim cites dozens of international research studies that show natural fats aren’t bad, but then goes on to recommend lean meats, a blend of egg whites with whole eggs, and low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Is this a contradiction?

2. Why should I eat egg whites vs. whole eggs? Why should I eat low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat plain Greek yogurt vs. the full fat variants?

  1. Hu FB, Willett WC. Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease. JAMA. 2002 Nov 27;288(20):2569-78. Review. PubMed PMID: 12444864.
  2. Apoundert CM, Campos H, Stampfer MJ, et al. Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death. N Engl J Med 2002;346:1113-1118.
  3. Siscovick DS, Raghunathan TE, King I, Weinmann S, Wicklund KG, Apoundright J, Bovbjerg V, Arbogast P, Smith H, Kushi LH, Cobb LA, Copass MK, Psaty BM, Lemaitre R, Retzlaff B, Childs M, Knopp RH. Dietary intake and cell membrane levels of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of primary cardiac arrest. JAMA 1995;274:1363-1367.
  4. Hu FB, Manson JE, Willett WC. Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Feb;20(1):5-19. Review. PubMed PMID: 11293467.
  5. Willett WC. Is dietary fat a major determinant of body fat? Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Mar;67(3 Suppl):556S-562S. Review. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr 1999 Aug;70(2):304. PubMed PMID: 9497170.
  6. Willett WC. Dietary fat plays a major role in obesity: no. Obes Rev. 2002 May;3(2):59-68. Review. PubMed PMID: 12120421.
  7. Willett WC, Leibel RL. Dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat. Am  J Med. 2002 Dec 30;113 Suppl 9B:47S-59S. Review. PubMed PMID: 12566139.
  8. McCullough ML, Feskanich D, Stampfer MJ, Rosner BA, Hu FB, Hunter DJ, Variyam JN, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and risk of major chronic disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Nov;72(5):1214-22. PubMed PMID: 11063452
  9. Hu FB, Manson JE, Willett WC. Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Feb;20(1):5-19. Review. PubMed PMID: 11293467.