These days we know for sure that there’s a big difference between good fats and bad fats. Good fats are the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that we find in foods like avocados, fish, and nuts. Good fats help control our appetites, and lower our risks of heart disease and stroke. Bad fats are the saturated ones that instead raise the cholesterol, and they’re most often found in processed foods like chips and donuts. (And in plentiful amounts at that.) Now it’s easy to think that moderation is key, especially if you’re in shape and don’t notice any of the outward affects that can be associated with eating a lot of saturated fat (like weight gain), but some research has shown that its affects work incredibly fast on the body, and the results are not good.
A study that was done at Virginia Tech found that fat binging for five days can do some serious damage. Fat binging is considered getting over half of your calories from fat. When the study participants followed this diet, they quickly messed with their metabolisms and changed the way they metabolized nutrients. It also slowed down the body’s insulin response, which is the first step towards developing all kinds of diseases like diabetes and obesity. It also lead to increased bacterial waste in the body which causes inflammatory issues.
It’s important to note that some of the fat the guys were eating during the study was not saturated fat, which brings to mind the importance of always eating a diet balanced in fats, carbs, and proteins that isn’t skewed in one direction ever. We should never be overdoing it with the fat whether it’s good fat or not.
The one fat that does not have a place in our diet is trans fat. Trans fatty acids are artificially created by turning liquid vegetable oils into solids by adding hydrogen. Trans fat is often listed as “partially hydrogenated oils” on package labels. There is some trans fat that naturally occurs in certain meat products, but most of it is created. The ability to create this fat has made it easy to cheaply mass produce snack foods that won’t go bad on the shelf. Some restaurants also use this kind of oil in their friers since it doesn’t need to be changed as much as other oils. (Yuck.) Hydrogenated oil can be found in most baked goods, ready made frosting, snack chips, some microwave popcorn, many fried foods (including donuts), refrigerated dough like ready to make biscuits and some pizza crusts, non dairy coffee creamer, and margarine. So pretty much everything you ate in college.
With trans fat added to so many popular food items you can see how easy it would be to overdo it on the bad stuff. The reason why trans fats are so bad for you is that they not only raise your bad LDL cholesterol, but they lower the good HDL cholesterol at the same time. Labels don’t always list the percentage of trans fat in the U.S. because if it’s under .5 grams in a serving they are not obligated to mention it. But generally there are more than a few servings per package so it can add up excessively. Something to keep in mind when you’re grabbing your next snack.