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The real truth about fats in your diet


The research on fats has been turned on its head and the advice now is to embrace fats, rather than fear them. Here, we get clear on the role of fats and introduce you to the ‘best’ fats to incorporate into your diet.

“NEW RESEARCH FINDS CURE”… “EXCITING WEIGHT LOSS PILL”… Who else is tired of reading sensational tabloid headline like these? I know we at 121 Dietitian love to read the latest news but are often left confused, annoyed or fed up after reading a rehash of facts that are no longer scientifically balanced.

In this article I hope to provide you with some interesting observations of past and recent research that will actually be of relevance to your future health.

One to begin is regarding fats within the body and not just the fats you eat, but both important none the less.


The role of brown fat

A study released in Diabetes Journal July 2014 suggested people with higher levels of brown fat have a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes. Unlike white fat, which lowers insulin sensitivity, researchers found that brown fat actually improves insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control and fat-burning metabolism.

This was good news for overweight and obese people and those with insulin resistance and diabetes, and suggested that brown fat may prove to be an important anti-diabetic tissue.

What did they find? The study found when the body was exposed to slightly cold temperatures, brown fat can boost energy expenditure and burn calories. But what is brown fat? It is fat we are born with and is stored around our neck and upper abdomen to keep us warm in infancy. It was thought only until a few years ago that this disappeared into adulthood but now it has been found that thin people have more of this than those who are overweight.

So how was this put into practice? Unfortunately this study did not provide answers to this, however in other papers it was suggested shivering for 10-15 minutes at 14-16 degree celcius could be beneficial.

The hype for this was big and so I thought I would reinvestigate this four years on to see the outcome. Sadly, the benefits for you; ie shivering at low temperatures to get brown fat activated was not as successful as suggested. Brown fat is there to keep you alive, not thin and so shivering all day may possibly see some brown fat activity but did nothing to warrant any weight loss or health benefits. It seems as usual, further investigation is required.


Getting clear on fats

Moving on, let’s look at the national guideline on the subject of fats and health. I am sure for the past 30 years, you have been dutifully following the national dietary guidelines to cut out fats and eat high carbohydrate, low fat food choices.

Yep, we know all about how fat has been demonised for decades, and that every product under the sun was turned into being fat free. We were not so sure this was a good thing and we rethought our practice here at 121 Dietitian as we realised the health of our patients was not improving but worsening due to “low fat everything”. The key here? Don’t be fooled into believing that foods labelled as ‘low fat’ are actually better for your health.


Embrace fat, rather than fear it

So we are proud to say that for over 10 years, we at 121 Dietitian have been seeing amazing results by ensuring: healthy fats, sufficient lean proteins, specified volumes of fruit and vegetables and lower levels of specific carbohydrates. We embrace fat not fear it and it is clear we are not the only ones! For the past 2 to 3 years, voices are being heard and with the assistance of the media there has been a turning of the tide on fat shaming and putting the correct spotlight on sugars.


Eating the ‘best’ fats

Fats are no longer the demon but you do have to be aware that convenience foods, processed foods and take-away meals are meals that you should hold back on as they are fats created from hydrogenation and artificial saturation and are pro-inflammatory to the body. The fats you can seek to eat in a balanced programme are as tasty as: avocados, lean meat, poultry, eggs, fish, cheese, butter, semi-skimmed milk, nuts and seeds.

The role of 121 Dietitian

As Dietitians, we see hundreds of male and female patients for a plethora of medical related nutritional concerns. If not in clinic, we are working with sports people for endurance and performance enhancing bespoke nutrition, or we are out on the road regularly visiting businesses to optimise staff health and work performance. You may also see us in the media answering national queries.

Nutrition is a vital piece of the jigsaw to feel alive, focused and ready for the day ahead. If you are not feeling this then you should question your overall health and lifestyle choices and really try to make some changes.

If you need help, then please get in touch here for a free assessment. You can then come and visit us at one of our many clinics and we can get your dietary health back on track. 

Gillian Killiner – Lead Dietitian and Director at 121 Dietitian. 121 Dietitian is an award winning nutritional consultancy company based in Belfast. Clinics are available in Belfast and worldwide via Skype.

Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018.

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