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When we’re trying to lose weight or just looking at getting fit, we assume that one of the things that would benefit us is cutting out fats from our diet. We don’t quite know at what point this became an understanding that fat is bad but turns out, it isn’t the gospel truth that we’ve all been thinking it is.
As it turns out, cutting out fats from your diet isn’t just a difficult task but also a futile one, if your aim truly is to cater to your health. You heard it! Fat is actually good for us. However, like everything else, it needs to be consumed in moderation in order to reap its benefits.
We talked to Sandhya Pandey, chief clinical nutritionist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute Gurgaon to understand the importance of fat in our diet.
She says, “When you look at a balanced diet, there are macro as well as micronutrients. We eat food for energy. Carbohydrates and fats play an important role when it comes to that. However, this is provided that the proportion of fat is less than thirty percent in your diet. Moreover, it is the type of fats that matter. Fat isn’t just ghee or makhan. Fat is present in milk, nuts, and fish as well. Hence, you need to ensure that you’re having good fat instead of saturated or trans fats. You need to realize that you might have an oil-free diet but having a fat free diet isn’t advisable.”
But what happens when you miss out on fat? Sandhya lists out all the horrible consequences of cutting out from your diet which might just make you rethink your decision:
1. Vitamin deficiency
There are certain vitamins that require fat in order to get absorbed and benefit us. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K–all of which are fat-soluble. Naturally, when you remove fat from your diet, you’re also reducing your ability to absorb these vitamins which are essential and affect multiple bodily functions.
Sandhya mentions that many oils in the market these days come fortified with vitamins because these essential vitamins are fat-soluble and require fat for good absorption. Moreover, there are certain nuts that contain a good balance of fat and vitamins. Hence, you should include more nuts in your diet.
2. Focus and memory problems
Fats contribute to you having a sharp memory and a focused mind. Remember how people say you should consume fish to increase your memory power? That’s because fish is rich in omega-3s which are polyunsaturated fats. So, cutting out fat from your diet could mean that your mental alertness gets affected.
3. Haywire cholesterol levels
Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Most people think fats cause an increase in cholesterol levels. It’s absolutely true when it comes to saturated fats that you find in fried foods; but cutting out good fat might increase cholesterol levels. A study by Harvard School of Public Health observed that getting rid of fat from your diet might upset your cholesterol levels.
4. Feelings of fatigue
As Sandhya explains, we need fats for energy. Hence, cutting down on fat might make you feel fatigued or tired too easily. Consuming good fats in moderation can ensure that your energy levels don’t waiver throughout the day and you don’t have to compromise on productivity. Hence, cutting out that much-needed fat component from your diet might mean that your body slows down.
But, how do we include fats without it affecting our weight or health? Sandhya mentions a very pertinent point:
“Humans tend to go for extremes. We either look at consuming too much of something or cutting it out entirely. As a nutritionist, my main aim is to be able to explain to people that being healthy is about having a balanced diet instead of operating on extremes which can be harmful.”
“The same thing goes for fats. Don’t miss out on that glass of milk every day or dark chocolate because it might make you gain weight. You need all these good sources of fat such as nuts, dairy, dark chocolate, avocados, eggs, and fish to stay energetic and healthy. However, don’t go overboard with anything. Consume these sources of fat in moderation,” she adds.
“The truth is that anything overdone, whichever nutrient that may be, will affect you negatively. Hence, the key to a healthy body is balance,” Sandhya concludes.
Now you know that fat isn’t the enemy. All we need to do is consume it in the right amount.