How to Eat Fat

Long Road Back from Fake Fats


In a recent article in the New York Times, Mark Bittman speaks out about the long journey to get trans-fats out of our food supply. The good news is that the F.D.A. has recently banned them, but the bad news is that companies have 3 more years to get rid of this fake food that's been proven to harm.

I grew up in the post-WWII years with chicken fried in Crisco and toasts smeared with oleomargarine (hydrogenated vegetable oils full of trans-fat), not because we were poor but because we were modern. My grandmother used butter and lard; we knew better. Like tobacco, these chemicalized fats were promoted as positive components of the booming post-war culture. Soon after, animal fats were demonized as causing heart disease, and the long, low-fat odyssey began to take shape. Now, butter is back, and we're learning how to associate "healthy" with "fat" in an intelligent way.

From Lipophobe to Lipophile

The fear of fat has been drilled into our culture so deeply that it can be hard to go from lipophobe to lipophile. How do we add healthy fats back into to our meals? 

  • Lean toward more fat/fewer carbs, especially if you're insulin-resistant and finding it hard to maintain your desired body weight and steady energy. Roughly assess the fat in your meals and snacks and find out what percentage suits you best. If you want to add, float some fresh butter on top of your morning eggs or blend it into your coffee. Add a few slices of avocado to your lunch. Don't trim all the fat off your steak. But remember, fat is very dense, so respect its power to bring long-lasting satiety and save room by going lighter on other parts of your meal.
  • Treat your fats gently. Heat and oxidation are enemies of lipids. Saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, and lard resist the effects of oxygen much better than polyunsaturated seed and vegetable oils, which easily become rancid (oxidized). In general, try to use low-heat cooking methods and add fats afterwards. For example, steam your vegetables and then blend some of them with butter or coconut oil as a creamy, pour-over sauce for the rest.  Don't let your bacon smoke or your steak char.
  • Don't O-D on nuts. Nuts seem like perfect little packages of nutrients. They've saved me many a time when I run out of gas on the plane. The thing to know about nuts is that they're chock full of those same seed oils that tend to go rancid, plus - and here's a tricky aspect of lipid biochemistry - their omega-6/omega-3 ratio is high enough to throw off our body's evolutionary ideal. And sometimes, digesting those little nuggets can be problematic, so pay attention to how your gut feels later. 

Don't Go it Alone - Rejoin the Tribe

If all this is more confusing than inspiring, don't fret. Take your time to work out the next step toward syncing with your evolutionary potential - how your body was designed to work. The Go Primal Kickstart and Advanced Kickstart programs can be great, guided adventures in new nutritional frontiers. All of us are a little different (and a lot the same), so keep experimenting until you find what unlocks your vibrancy. I'm finding that each new answer comes with more questions ahead, more exploring to do. Rejoin the tribe of explorers and share what you discover with your home team.