Low-Fat or High Dietary Fat?

The dreaded word so many of us have heard for so many of our dieting years…FAT!…ahhhh! Low-fat, no-fat, high-fat, too much dietary fat….fat, fat, fat, fat….ahhhh!!  No wonder we are confused and fear the fat! Sadly, our misconceptions have come from several decades of powerful advertisement, misleading advice, and overwhelming nutritional controversy.

Where did our confusion and fear of dietary fat come from? 

During the 1990’s the low-fat craze changed the way Americans looked at food.  A decade designed around cutting the fat from foods, and scaring the ‘fat’ out of everyone…enough to eliminate an essential macronutrient from our diet. 

Sadly, despite our avoidance of dietary fat, by 2001, ⅓ of Americans were overweight and obesity became a real problem.

In a Frontline interview with Gary Taubes (2004), he explains one popular theory starting in 1977. During this time, the government began telling Americans to eat less fat. As we moved into the 1980’s, our major food companies took advantage of the hype and introduced low-fat products. Remember the good ‘ol days of fat-free and low-fat snacks, cookies, dressings, etc…all built on the idea that fat was the enemy!

These products, in effect, replaced the original healthy dietary fat in our foods with highly processed carbohydrates and sugars. Our country went from eating naturally occurring fat to low-fat, fat-free, foods essentially overnight.

So, what were we told to do as we eliminated dietary fat from our daily foods?

ADD CARBOHYDRATES!……processed carbs, refined carbs, organic carbs, gluten free carbs, and the list goes on……we moved from a fat feared society into a carb crazed community! The carbs flew off the shelves….and so began the raging epidemic of diabetes and obesity.

As Allison Aubrey wrote in Why We Got Fatter During the Fat-Free Food Boom (2014), in trying to deal with one problem – heart disease – by cutting out fat from foods, many experts agreed this unleashed the animal of more chronic issues related to health and longevity. Our so-called scientists, the voices we were taught to listen to, allegedly had evidence food with saturated fats were responsible for a raise in our LDL cholesterol. 

What you were not told…..is that cholesterol was widely misunderstood and ultimately lacked any real data to show any such correlation to America’s un-health (Aubrey, 2014).

But, what if…..what if what we have been told to do for so many years has been wrong?  What if we eliminate our over-nurtured intake of carbohydrates and eat the foods our ancestors ate?

Living low-carb….also means living HIGH DIETARY FAT.  

High healthy dietary fats are an essential part of our make-up, and without fat in our body, in our blood, even in our brain…..we wither away and die!! That’s pretty ironic considering we have spent so many years saying how low-fat makes us thin, right? 

How about this crazy idea…low-fat keeps you fat, high-fat keeps you thin.

One of the most common complications of a low-carb, high healthy fat lifestyle is where to find the healthy dietary FAT!  Good question…..while it may be a mystery to some, let’s think about where some of our healthiest fats even come from…..avocados, natural oils and nuts, butters and creams, and YES even meats….nice fatty cuts of meat!!  

With the elimination of carbohydrates in our diet, we must refocus our calories on healthy fats. I don’t want you to think by saying ‘no to carbs’, this is the saving grace. So, when thinking about where to get healthy fat…make it easy! Sometimes it’s as easy as indulging in all the forbidden foods we have spent so long avoiding according to all the crazy (and ridiculous) food industry marketing and gimmicks. No fake fancy processed foods here, keep it real….keep it FAT!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking the dietary fat way!  

  • Time to get NUTS: 

    • That’s right…enjoy going nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia, brazil, etc.), but keep it in moderation.  Nuts are an easy go-to addition for any meal….but it is also an easy food to overeat.  
  • Well Oiled Machine: 

    • Unprocessed oils such as olive, coconut, macadamia, avocado, and YES…even a little bit of bacon oil…mmmmm GREASY!  These are great cooking additions to add to any type of meat, salad, or even your morning coffee or tea.
  • Butter Me Up: 

    • Yummy butter….the real stuff Mom used!  If you can tolerate dairy, stick with what you know…..heavy full fat cream, sour cream, plain full fat greek yogurt, and full fat cottage cheese.  Other non-dairy choices include ghee butter, coconut milk and cream, dairy free or vegan products, and even goat and sheep’s milk based cheeses and creams (if cow’s milk is part of the intolerance).
  • Easy Cheesy: 

    • Full fat, off-the-block cheese…oh yeah!  If you can cut it, you can eat it! If you can smell it, you can taste it!…..But be advised, if you have to open it from a package, or it comes pre-cut or pre-shredded, be aware of the processing that may have taken place!
  • mmmmmMEATIE Treat: 

    • When thinking fat, go for the fattier cuts of meat.  While lean meats are a popular choice among ‘professional dieters’, we don’t diet…we indulge!  Why would you want to subject yourself to such tasteless protein? Our grandma knew what she was doing when she laid down a plate of bacon…..who doesn’t love bacon??  Even for all the red-meat naysayers, animal protein is what our ancestors used to eat….so why not get ancestral with your bad-self!  

YOUR NUTRITION MISSION…should you choose to accept it:  Lets rebel together, challenge the status quo, and feel unstoppable! Learn more about healthy dietary fat in the 21-Day Rebel Reboot. 


Valerie Grosso RDN

The Rebel Dietitian With A Mission

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Aubrey, Allison (2014, March 3). Why we got fatter during the fat-free food boom.  Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/03/28/295332576/why-we-got-fatter-during-the-fat-free-food-boom

Taubes, G. (2004, April 8).  Did the low-fat era make us fat? Frontline Interview.  Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/diet/themes/lowfat.html



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