How much fat do you need to eat in your diet in order to make sure that you get enough, yet not over-consume it and run into serious health issues?
Fat is an essential macronutrient that has many uses in the human body, including:
- Protecting your bones and organs from physical shocks.
- Providing insulation under the skin from both heat and cold.
- Insulating the nerve fibers so they function correctly.
- Assisting with the transport of nutrients to be metabolized across cell membranes.
- Used by the body to make a whole variety of building blocks used for everything from hormones, to immune system function.
Now, with all this you may think: “Oh, fat is good for me, and I need to eat a lot of it.” However, this is not true. In fact, your body’s need for fat is rather low.
If you look at the world’s most long-lived, athletically active and disease free cultures, you will see that they consume small amounts of fat – a maximum of 15% of their total daily calories.
For example, Tarahumaras – a Mexican settlement of very healthy and athletic people who can run races of up to several hundred miles only consume around 12% fat. (1)
Elite Kenyan runners, famous for their world-beating long-distance running, consume around 13% fat. (2)
Other long-lived, slim and very healthy cultures around the world, such as the Okinawa in Japan and Vilcamabans in Ecuador also consume a low-fat, primarily plant-based diet (most of them did before the arrival of the modern western diet).
How much fat can you safely eat?
According to the USDA dietary guidelines 2010, 20-35% of total calories for an adult can come from just fat. (3) Well, the question to ask here is: should you actually trust these figures or have they been set too high due to food industry interests?
Many would argue that this is the case …
The USDA fat recommendations contrast sharply with many leading plant-based experts in the field of diet and nutrition who have a great number of years of experience and success when it comes to helping people restore their health.
- The Pritkin Longevity Centre, a facility which holds the best heart disease reversal record of any such organisation in the USA recommends a dietary consumption of 10% fat.
- Dr D. Graham, sports nutritionist, the author of the 80/10/10 diet book, recommend a maximum of 10% fat.
- Dr J. McDougall, MD, well known author and founder of the very successful McDougall health programme – recommends 10% maximum fat.
- Dr Michael Greger, MD, author and international speaker on nutrition recommends around 10% fat.
- Dr Michael Klaper, MD, past advisor to NASA, lecturer, radio host and contributor to TV health programmes recommends around 10% fat.
High fat diets lead to serious health issues.
Consuming too much fat in your diet causes serious health issues, even if we are talking about plant-based and raw fat, like nuts, seeds and avocadoes.
Just some of the health issues linked with high-fat diets include:
- chronic fatigue
- blood sugar disorders (i.e. such as candida, hypo and hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes)
- weight gain
- poor fitness/athletic performance
- poor mental and physical performance
- constant food cravings
Whenever you eat a meal with a high fat content, your body suffers a metabolic slow down. You are likely to feel tired and in need of rest because your blood cells begin sticking together in clumps due to all the fat consumed. This will slow down the flow of blood and the smaller blood vessels can even become blocked. As a result of this, tissues and organs receive less essential nutrients and oxygen and your brain will work less efficiently.
As a plant-based nutritionist, I only recommend plant-based sources of fat as animal fat sources lead to toxicity and disease formation.
If you are wondering what a 10% daily fat intake looks like, then here is an example:
- approximately half a medium avocado per day or
- about 20 medium olives per day or
- 1-2 tablespoons of nut/seed butter per day or
- small handful of nuts/seeds per day
In conclusion, evidence suggests that for optimum health, longevity, fitness and a slim body, you need to keep you fat percentage below 15% of your total daily calories consumed and eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates.
Personally, I have been following a low-fat raw food plan for 6 years now. I have overcome Candida, chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances and weight issues with the help of this plan. Our clients from around the world also experience amazing results with the help of a low-fat raw or high-raw plant-based plan.
Keeping your diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates with as much raw foods as possible will supply your body with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients so that you can thrive in health.
Sources for this article:
- The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/32/4/905.short
About the author: Yulia Tarbath is a Nutritionist, parent and world traveller who writes, speaks and coaches on the raw food lifestyle. Along with her husband, Paul Tarbath, they are the authors of several books, including Thrive On Raw and Thrive On Raw Recipes. Paul and Yulia are followed by tens of thousands of people around the globe and they enjoy helping them in transforming their health the natural and holistic way. You can find their work at: www.rawsomehealthy.com