Eat Fat Lose Fat, a book by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, is a must read to understand how dietary fat influences our biology so you can not only melt fat, but also optimize every cell in your body. It’s information will shock you and open your eyes to a whole new culinary world.
In Eat Fat Lose Fat Dr. Mary Enig – world’s leading expert on dietary fat– and Sally Fallon – top authority on the health-promoting benefits of traditional foods – press the life-saving nature of fat in our diets and the dangers of fat phobia.
A significant portion of the book convincingly dispels cultural fat myths and establishes that traditional fats do not cause heart disease nor does dietary cholesterol lead to high blood cholesterol or clogged arteries. The authors show that traditional fats not only build and nourish cells and organs, leading to optimal health and wellness, but also dissolve and prevent fat stores! Good fat, particularly saturated fat, simply does not make you fat or sick. It is delicious and we should listen to our mouth that loves it!
But, tragically, Big Food has successfully injected these myths into our social mores because vegetable oils are cheap and the butterfat separated from skim milk is sold at a high margin to ice cream makers.
What does cause weight gain and disease? Primarily sugar and processed fats.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates spike insulin – a hormone that signals the body to store fat.
Fat culprits are not high-quality saturated fats or cholesterol. They are:
- Trans or hydrogenated fats.
- Rancid unsaturated fats from overheating and processing oils.
- Oxidized cholesterol produced from the pasteurization and homogenization of commercial dairy.
- Excess consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, primarily from vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola) and grain-fed animals.
These fats weaken and damage the cell lining and prevent the body from manufacturing and retaining the all-important omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acid deficiencies, therefore, are not just caused by restricted-fat diets but also by consuming harmful fats because they prevent the uptake and production of omega-3’s.* Symptoms of fat deficiency are plentiful. Here are a few:
- Low or uneven energy, lethargy
- Fatigue and muscle weakness, adrenal exhaustion
- Difficulty handling stress
- Poor cognition and memory
- ADD and ADHD
- Poor memory and learning capacity
- Aggression and violence
- Irritability and mood swings
- Anxiety and panic
- Depression and mania
- Hormonal imbalance, PMS
- Sugar cravings
- Skin problems – dryness, wrinkles, dark circles under eyes
- Feeling cold
- Unhealthy weight gain or loss
- Dehydration (water in the cell comes from metabolizing fat, while ingested water goes through the bloodstream and kidneys without entering the cell.)
Moreover, fats subjected to high temperatures produce free radicals – molecule fragments that steal electrons from other molecules in a process called oxidation, which damages cells and arteries and causes low-grade inflammation in the body.
How do traditional fats release fat?
“The condition of overweight represents an imbalanced relationship between you and nature. Eating natural, sustainable foods, as you will learn to do on this diet, restores this native mutual interdependence.” (Pg. 57)
Cholesterol, and the nutrients attached to the cholesterol molecule (A, D and K2), are found solely in animal fat*, and yet are tremendously deficient in modern fat-phobic humans (no wonder!). Nutritional satisfaction, including ample consumption of animal fat, signals to the body that food is abundant, so it needn’t enter into a fat-storing starvation mode.
When cells are weakened from lack of necessary nutrition, energy plummets, neurons don’t fire properly, glands malfunction and hormones and metabolism nosedive. Naturally, weight loss becomes an incessant battle when fat is dismissed, particularly saturated fat and DHA (the two primary brain fats).
Furthermore, fat increases satisfaction and reduces food indulgences because it slows digestion and produces a hormone that triggers satiation. It stabilizes blood sugar, buffering the ill effects of insulin (including fat storage). Saturated fat improves cardiovascular fitness because it’s the primary source of fuel for the heart, which helps burn more calories. Saturated fat also allows the body to assimilate and retain Omega 3’s, a deficiency of which is very much linked to obesity, disease, brain malfunction and poor quality of life.
The authors particularly tout the distinctive benefits of coconut oil:
- Its unique medium-chain fatty acid structure converts directly to fuel because its smaller molecules do not need to be broken down (emulsified). It goes straight to the brain for energy, not toward storage!
- It has a “Thermogenic effect,” which is a raise in body temperature that enhances energy and metabolism.
- Its lauric and caprylic acid fight bacteria, viruses and microbes that promote stubborn weight accumulation (such as in the case of Candida).
- It reduces cellulite and builds muscle.
The Eat Fat Lose Fat weight loss plan in a nutshell…
- 2000-2500 calories per day
- 3-6 tablespoons of coconut oil daily
- 10% protein, 60% fat, 30% carbohydrate (percentage of total calories)
- Calcium-rich foods, like bone broth and raw dairy products
- Nutrient-dense super foods rather than synthetic vitamins, such as:
- Cod liver oil for fat-soluble nutrients, cholesterol and omega 3’s
- High-vitamin butter oil and desiccated liver for fat-soluble nutrients and cholesterol
- Bitters to stimulate bile production needed to digest and assimilate fat
- Bone broths to aid protein utilization, reduce gut inflammation and replenish minerals in the body
- Lacto-fermented foods
- Coconut oil
- Raw dairy
- Pastured eggs and grass-fed meats
My Personal Experience
I experimented with the Enig-Fallon approach and found some very interesting results that I felt both did and did not corroborate with their argument. Note that I did not exercise much during this time in order to determine the specific body-shaping impact of the diet alone.
My biggest qualm is that coconut oil, no matter how much scientific support was given to its benefit, just didn’t sit well with me in excess – 1 tablespoon per day is my great but no more. In general, I feel that the authors tend to be a tad crazed about coconut (and milk). After all, coconut is a tropical food and neither my ancestors nor myself grew up on it. It certainly is a testament to how individual we all are and the necessity to discover our own nutritional truth.
Here are some more pros, cons and tips from my personal experience.
- Created a taught musculature, reduced “flab”
- Reduced belly fat – great abs without working out!
- Beautiful skin – smooth, clear, bright, diminished wrinkles
- Bigger, brighter eyes; Diminished dark circles under the eyes
- Increased mental processing speed
- Lots of energy; greater mental and physical endurance
- Coconut oil in my morning tea gave me the energy which allowed me to overcome coffee cravings
- Increased desire to workout and use my muscles
- Improved heart capacity – not easily winded with exercise
- No cravings for sweets
- Craving for red meat (with a lot of coconut oil) – not pro or con, just interesting
- Mucus formation – ears and nose felt plugged up that led to brain fog and diminished sense of taste
- Acid reflux and heartburn (esp. with coconut)
- Weight gain, albeit a more taught, muscular weight (this is a pro if the weight is more muscle and bone mass)
- Rapid weight gain if too much carbohydrate was consumed
- Tendency to overeat because fats do not fill the stomach that signals the body to stop eating
- The amount of recommended fat filled me up so had a tendency to neglect protein and vegetables
- Became very weak and lethargic if less than 1700 calories were consumed per day
- Irregular bowel movements (with too much coconut oil)
- Profuse sweating (with too much coconut oil)
- Craved cigarettes (with too much coconut oil)– perhaps to help dry the mucus?
- Combine a high-fat diet with bitter, sour and spicy flavors to aid digestion.
- Find the amount of fat that works for you.
- Don’t forget to balance fat in every meal with protein and carbohydrate.
- Ferment milk because it breaks down the sugar lactose that spikes blood sugar.
- Coconut oil is best suited for people that tend to be cold and dry, or have tropical ancestry.
* Eat Fat Lose Fat doesn’t much go into the role and importance of Omega 3’s, especially in brain function. For more, I recommend Brain-Building Nutrition. Unfortunately, however, this text considers saturated fats harmful.
* Cholesterol also carries vitamin E, but this fat-soluble nutrient is also ample in the plant kingdom, esp. in nuts and seeds.