Are fats still getting a bad rap? Maybe it’s in the name.
Just when I thought that fats were out of the woods as macro nutrient enemy number one (Carbohydrates may have jumped on that grenade) I had a conversation that changed my mind. In my opinion fats are still, and perhaps have always been the most misunderstood macronutrient. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and as I was explaining to her what my “man breakfast” was, its cage free eggs with pork or beef bacon (optimally, both!), she says, “be careful, you know bacon has a lot of fat.” Just as I was about to go into a long red faced inappropriately loud diatribe about how fats don’t make you fat, but being lazy, sitting at a desk (writing blog posts), “playing Facebook” all day and overeating (often times foods that are...wait for it... fat free) in fact DOES make you fat, I stopped screaming (inside my head of course) and regained my composure.
I wanted to explain that fat is anabolic (muscle building) and as such, aids in recovery of said muscles and tissues (those very same ones that allow you to burn more calories at rest) and won't spike your insulin nor cause you to have a blood sugar crash, etc. etc. I wanted to say that fat is also a perfectly acceptable long term energy source. I wanted to say all of that, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I realized that there are multiple generations who grew up or were adults during the “fats are the enemy” of the late 70’s and 80’s (and probably 90’s too). They dealt with so much propaganda that I’m not sure if there is any way to re-teach millions upon millions of people that everything they were told for 20+ years (at least) is simply not true and basically just an attempt to sell more government subsidized grain and wheat. At that moment i didn’t have a solution and it felt pretty stinkin hopeless….like having the "lifting weights will make me bulky" conversation for the 10 millionth time..
Then I started thinking, maybe it’s in the name. Just think about all the negative weight the word FAT carries (no pun intended). We call those that happen to be overweight “fat.” We also call fat in foods “fat.” Just so we're clear, fat can be both delicious and unhealthy...It's only a matter of how we're using and viewing the word. I think I've heard Dan John aliterate to this fact in his lectures. At any rate, I don't know about you but i NEVER want to associate anything negative with bacon (it’s mostly fat...get it?).
It’s not just the lack of education, people simply have a negative connotation with the word fat. Just like we do with carbs. It’s like excited and nervous, you never knew that excited (positive) could also mean nervous (negative) until someone told you. Think about it, nobody wants to be fat, nobody wants to be called fat (at least not this spelling). I think any reeducation has to begin with how people perceive the word fat. Sure, it’s kinda far out there, but ask yourself, what else is working? We’re still HUGE as a nation, and no no one seems to have any more sense of what they should or shouldn’t eat anymore than they know what a catch is in the NFL...It changes every week and everyone’s interpretation is different.
In our current craze we’re all down on carbs (some for good reason), however imagine the reaction if we called over weight people, “over carbed?” Maybe the next time someone needs to bag on someone they tell them that they are too carbed. Or maybe we don’t need a villain, maybe it’s as simple as referring to fats as lipids from now on. We’ll say “good lipids” instead of good fats or “mono or poly unsaturated lipids” instead of fats. Try omega 3 lipidity acids instead of, well you get the idea.
While this may be taking it a bit far you can see how just a name can cause us to look at something in a very negative light when there’s very little reason to. I know there is a lot to understanding all the things that foods can do within the body and all the ways various food combinations can affect us but getting people to buy in to a different thought process may be just a matter of changing around a few names. Hmm, did I just have an idea that transcends fitness and nutrition...think about it.