Can Eating Fat Make You Fat?

Why Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat!

Dr Hyman |


“The plan you’re putting me on includes lots of nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocados, eggs, and even some butter,” a patient recently told me. “I can’t shake my fear of fat. I think all this food is going to make me gain weight.”

If you can identify with this patient, you’re not alone. Even I once had a fear of fat while growing up. I subscribed to the antiquated “all calories are the same” myth, a mentality that demonizes fat. After all, eating fat makes you fat, right? End of story.

From a caloric perspective, that makes sense. Dietary fat contains nine calories per gram, versus the four calories per gram for carbs and protein. If you eat less fat, you will eat fewer calories, and you will lose weight – easy and done, right?

Unfortunately, that theory doesn’t work for many reasons. The theory that all calories have the same impact on your weight and metabolism remains one of the most persistent nutrition myths that keeps us fat and sick.

All calories are the same in a laboratory when you burn them in a vacuum. However, your body is not a laboratory. It is an intricate, interconnected organism that simultaneously juggles thousands of duties.

Food controls everything. Food affects the expression of your genes that cause or prevent disease. In other words, food literally turns on health genes or disease genes. It tells those genes to store or burn fat. Food influences your hormones, your brain chemistry, your immune system and even your gut flora.

Let’s look at just one example of how our society places importance on the number of calories, not the quality. Newer public policies require restaurants to list calorie contents next to menu items. This becomes an example of completely misguided policies about helping people make better food choices. Calories from a Cinnabon, for example, are different than calories from an avocado in how they affect your hormones, your metabolism and even your appetite. Sadly, mainstream thinking has not caught up.

This is not some hypothetical idea. Food affects your metabolism at every level. It works fast in real time with every single bite. That ultimately becomes very empowering: You can change your health starting with your very next meal!

Eating Fat Helps You Burn MORE Calories

Kevin Hall, from the National Institutes of Health, studies mathematical systems and biology. He found when you measure every ounce of food, every movement, every breath and every calorie burned, you find that those who ate more fat compared to an identical amount of carbs burned over 100 more calories a day. Over a year, that amounts to about a 10-pound weight loss from doing no more exercise.

Hall also reported studies on brain imaging and brain function that found eating more fat actually shuts off your brain’s hunger and craving centers. Eating healthy fats improves things like food intake, taste preferences and even your metabolism.

Dietary fat – again, higher in calories per gram than carbs or protein – can positively impact the whole calorie-burning process. It’s a mind bender, right?

I have long pondered what really causes weight gain for most people. If I asked random people on the street, they would likely reply overeating or eating too much fat makes us gain weight. Sounds like a reasonable assumption right?

Yet in a brilliant paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Harvard professor Dr. David Ludwig lays out the case for a very different view of obesity and metabolism.

Ludwig argues we don’t get fat from eating more and exercising less. Instead, it’s the reverse – being fat makes you eat more and exercise less. Essentially your fat cells get hungry and drive you to overeat.

How We Gain Weight: Hungry Fat Cells

Here’s how this plays out in your biology.

The first domino to fall is when sugar – and remember, all processed carbs including wheat bread turn to sugar – spikes your fat-storing hormone insulin.

You don’t even have to be overweight at that point. Insulin then drives all READ MORE:

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