5 Reasons Why Fat Is Good for Weight Loss

Danielle Omar, RD
by Danielle Omar, RD
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5 Reasons Why Fat Is Good for Weight Loss

Remember the low-fat diet craze during the 80s? Today, many people still believe you have to drastically reduce your fat intake to lose weight. The good news is this is not true. In fact, a 2007 review by Harvard researchers found that weight loss is possible with a variety of popular diets as long as people ate fewer calories, the diet didn’t  have to be low in fat.

That’s right: Sacrificing fat is not an automatic win when it comes to weight loss. It might even be working against you. How? Fat intake and body fat stores influence your metabolism in a variety of ways, and getting too little can affect how you feel – especially when you’re trying to eat less. Similar to protein, eating moderate amounts of fat can actually help you lose weight faster, without feeling deprived.

Here are five reasons why keeping the fat in your diet may help with weight loss:

1. Fat keeps you full. Think about the last time you experienced the fullness, not to mention satisfaction, of eating a high-fat comfort food. (Mac & cheese, anyone?) Fullness is actually a real feeling that’s created during digestion, when fat triggers the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that slows down how fast the stomach empties food into your intestines. This not only helps you get full but also ensures you’ll stay full for a longer period of time. Consequently, you need less food to feel satisfied, compared with a diet lower in fat.

2. Fat helps you balance blood sugar. Your blood sugar level impacts insulin levels, which can affect your mood, cravings and food choices. Additionally, eating sugary foods with too many refined carbohydrates and not enough fat (and protein) can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and subsequently crash. Including healthy fats with your meals and snacks can help keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day.

3. Fat helps you absorb nutrients. Ordering that salad with low- or fat-free dressing might be doing more harm than good. Why? You need a little fat to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), beta-carotene (a carotenoid that makes vitamin A) and other carotenoids found in leafy greens and salad veggies. If you dress your salad on the lighter side, make sure to throw in some healthy fats like walnuts or avocado.

4. Fat is essential for good health. Your body is capable of making its own fats, but there are some fats you must get from your diet or you risk becoming deficient. These are called “essential fats,” and they include omegas-3 and -6. Most of us get plenty of omega-6 fats in our diets; however, omega-3 fats may be a little harder to come by. Consuming a low-fat diet can magnify the problem. As you’re cutting calories for weight loss, choose fat sources rich in these essential fats because they are important for optimal functioning of our brains, hearts and body cells.

5. Fat is real food. Another compelling reason to keep fat in your diet is because fat makes food taste good! Fat is responsible for the creamy texture and amazing smell of the foods we love to eat. When you remove these favorite foods from your diet, you often turn to refined and overly processed substitutes. Such foods may contain large amounts of salt and sugar, added chemicals and carb-based fat replacers that mimic the flavor and texture of natural fat. When it comes to enjoying a high-fat favorite, you’re better off sticking with the real thing and just eating less of it.

How to Choose the Best Fats

Not all fats are created equal, and some fats are better than others. Plant-based fats should make up the bulk of your intake, as they contain the healthiest types of fatty acids.

The plant-based fats listed below are a great place to start:

  • Avocados and avocado oil
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds and seed butters
  • Cooking oils (including olive, coconut and grapeseed)

Moderate amounts of animal fat are fine. When choosing animal-based fats, opt for:

  • Fatty fish (including sardines, mackerel, herring and wild salmon)
  • Lean cuts of meat for beef, pork, chicken, turkey
  • Egg and low-fat cheeses (including part-skim mozzarella, ricotta and cottage cheese)

It’s also important to remember anything can be overdone, even healthy fats. Just because a little bit is good, it doesn’t mean a lot is better. Like any other nutrient, when consumed in excessive amounts, fat will lead to weight gain. MyFitnessPal sets your fat intake at 30% of your total calories, which is optimal to keep your body healthy and appetite satisfied.

Want more information about fat and how to choose the best type? Check out:

  1. Cooking Oils Decoded
  2. Nutrition 101: Fats
  3. A Beginner’s Guide to Fat

About the Author

Danielle Omar, RD
Danielle Omar, RD

Danielle is an integrative dietitian, culinary nutritionist, author and consultant, frequently lending her love of creating to high-profile food and nutrition media outlets. She’s a regularly featured blogger and founder of foodconfidence.comwhere she inspires men and women on their journey to become their healthiest self. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.


14 responses to “5 Reasons Why Fat Is Good for Weight Loss”

  1. Avatar Amanda_leigh says:

    I love this article! Fat is great! It’s helped me stay lean and strong, and actually lose unwanted fat. Bad carbs and sugar are the enemy- not fat! This is a helpful and positive view on proper weight loss and I’d love to see more articles like it 😉

    • Avatar 0live 0il says:

      So true, Amanda. Nothing puts the lbs on faster than snack chips and candy bars (but yum!). I miss them but my system doesn’t.

  2. Avatar Maria says:

    Thank you for this useful article!! Fat are good indeed.

  3. Avatar Paul says:

    It’s about time. So many people out the are still talking up the low-fat diet, it drives me bonkers. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  4. Avatar Twig says:

    Interested article and a good start, but I think it needs to be pushed further. 30% fat is still low fat!

    Assuming everyone agrees 20% protein is about as much as the body can absorb (30% if you are a body builder), that leaves 50% sugar which is far too much if any of the benefits of eating fat are to be realised.

    It takes confidence to say it because it smacks the face of convention, but is not 70/20/10 fat protein sugar the magic formula? eg food pyramid upside down!

    • Hi Twig, I’m glad you agree that fat is good! I do want to point out that carbohydrates are needed in the diet and not all carbs are merely sugar. Vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains are carbohydrates, too and rich sources of fiber. Fiber is important in the diet for optimal digestive health.

      • Avatar Twig says:

        I agree fibre is important and you get this in lots of nice greens and leaves amongst lots of other things but apart from the fibrous types (indigestible and therefore excluded from nutritional count) I still think 50% sugar is really too high whether it’s whole grains (indigestible too) or not.

        70% fat, 20% protein and 10% sugar (so not zero, plenty space for greens etc) I believe will prove in time to be the magic ratio.

      • Avatar Bruce Spencer says:

        Whole grains are not good for you, they are just the lesser evil of the grains mainly because they have more fiber to take the net carb # down. In the end all you are doing when eating grains is raising your blood sugar for no real nutritional benefit. Get your carbs from mostly green leafy vegetables, other veggies (carrots, cauliflower, onions, etc) then a couple to several servings of fruit (depends on how fast you are trying to lose weight or if you are diabetic) everything else should be fat and protein.

        We are starting to come around to fat not being bad. No big organization wants to be the first to come out and say “eat more fat and less carbs” because everyone is scared of one mans theory 60 years ago. Eating so many carbs is the reason diabetes and obesity has become such a problem.

  5. Avatar Frank Cooke says:

    This is why I just love myfitnesspal providing I stay under my calories that have been set 1700 I can eat most things. The only other thing I drink 600ml of water each morning

  6. Avatar susan says:

    What about if you are vegan? Most vegan proponents say that a low fat, high carb vegan diet is best for health and weight loss. In fact, most shun any types of oils at all. I’m so confused.

    • Avatar Sarah Sanders says:

      If you are vegan, you especially need to include plant-based fats into your diet. You won’t be getting it from any other source and fat is required to keep your brain and organs healthy.

  7. Avatar Sarah Sanders says:

    Great post! Thank you for talking about fat in such a positive way!

  8. Avatar Healthlogus says:

    yes raised a correct thing as fat never been a problem but it is how we go through

  9. Avatar sarah.bui says:

    Fats are great! Too bad it gets a bad rep because of its game!

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