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"I cannot express strongly enough that trying to do a low-fat version of Atkins will interfere with the fat burning and derail your weight loss."
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You cannot get fat by eating dietary fat alone since it has no direct effect on insulin or glucagon, according to Barry Sears in his popular book on the Zone Diet, although former Mr. Universe and bodybuilding icon Bill Pearl and many others disagree. Sears concludes that the calories become a problem when you are eating a lot of junk carbs and saturated fat together. Lipogensis [building body fat] is stimulated by insulin-producing junk-carbs, and is inhibited by polyunsaturated fatty acids which supress the fat-building process in the liver. Fat provides glycerol and essential fatty acids. Fat energy becomes available soon after the glycogen [stored glucose] in your muscles is depleted. The turnover of fats in adipose [body fat] tissue is dynamic and continous.
The bulk of our dietary fat is triglyceride which is digested one step at a time by pancreatic lipase in the small intestine. First, into a diglyceride and one fatty acid. Then on to a monoglyceride and one fatty acid. With each step becoming more difficult, the final breakdown of monoglyceride into glycerol and fatty acid is so slow that only 1/3 of the consumed dietary fat initially reaches this stage. A secondary phase by intestinal juices breaks down the remaining tri, di, and monglycerides into glycerol and fatty acids.
These resulting fatty acids can be oxidized by most body tissue for energy, or can resynthesize with glycerol back into triglycerides with protein [chylomicrons] enabling it to circulate in the blood as plasma lipids [fats].
The end product of digesting fats is the same as high-glycemic junk carbs - circulating plasma triglycerides. The dietary fats to plasma lipids [triglycerides] conversion, however, is extremely inefficent and requires much more energy than the junk-carbs to plasma lipids conversion.
Good fats are necessary for good health. They keep your skin and nails from drying out and may reduce blood cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels. They also slow the digestion of carbs, reducing the glycemic response since carbs are digested into glucose and dumped into the blood stream at a slower rate.
Mono-saturated [omega 9] and poly-saturated [omega 3 & 6] fats are best. These are considered the Essential Faty Acids - EFA's, although your body can actuall produce small amounts of omega 9. These good fats include olive oil and other "cold-pressed" oils which have not been heated or transformed in processing. Health food stores stock a variety of these from Barlean's, Manitoba Harvest and other brands with flax oil, borage oil hemp oil, canola, sunflower, safflower, wheat germ, evening primrose, peanut etc. Many processed foods contain plenty of omega 6 oils such as safflower, peanut, canola, and vegetable oils - but most people do not balance these with omega 3 foods or supplements.
The benefits of adequate balanced EFA's are decreased recovery time and soreness after exercise, decreased joint pain, improved protein utilization, and decreased fat storage. EFA's act as "solvents" to remove hardened body fat while directing carbs toward storage as glycogen in the muscles and liver.
A few EFA capsules are Labrada EFA Lean which has Omega 3,6,9, and Universal Animal Omega which has Omega 3 & 6.
Linoleic acid LA and gamma-linolenic acid GLA are omega 6. Linolenic acid LNA is omega 3. Monosaturated fat is omega 9.
Fish oil has two omega 3 fatty acids, eicospentaenoic acid EOA which controls insulin levels and docosahexeanoic acid DHA which is needed to rebuild the brain. One-third of the brain's mass is composed of omega 3 fatty acids like DHA.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids actually limit lipogenesis [body fat build-up] They burn up at a much higher rate than saturated fats, making them less likely to be stored.
Nuts, avocados, and dark chocolate contain the amino acid tyrosine which can help to stimulate a sluggish thyroid and restore the speed of your metabolism. The FDA now allows the following message on approved nuts and nut products: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 onces per day of most nuts, as a part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
You can consume 30% of your calories as fat [good fat] according to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Bad fats can hurt you:
Low-fat food products are generally high-carb and high-sugar held together with dangerous and unnatural trans-fats like hydrogenated oil.
Dr Atkins, Dr Connelly and Barry Sears all warn against trans-fats in their books. These are manufactured by heating vegetable oil at high temperatures and infusing it with hydrogen gas. The unhealthy result is twisted, unnatural molecules that the body cannot process. However, this hydrogenated oil does extend the shelf life of baked goods and other junk foods.
Another "bad" fat is arachidonic acid found in fatty red meat, egg yolks, and organ meats. Also "bad", saturated fat from high-fat dairy products and fatty red meat.
Glucose and insulin are necessary to turn plasma lipids into body fat [lipogenesis]. This is why low-carb advocates claim that you can not get fat by eating dietary fat alone. Although even good carbs and large amount of protein produce glucose, the amounts produced are small and generally do not spike your insulin. However, junk food and fast food ensure ample quantities of all the fattening factors - saturated fat and high-glycemic carbs which both convert to triglyceride plasma lipids, and the glucose and insulin surge stimulated by the junk-carbs.
When you exercise or limit your carbs, you burn body fat for fuel [Lipolysis ]. The stored body fat is broken down into its original components - glycerol and fatty acids. The glycerol is converted in the liver to glycogen and is eventually oxidized as glucose.
But too much saturated fat still can make you fat - Dr. Atkins recommended a "Fat Fast" for patients who have an exceptional metabolic resistance to fat loss. It was one week of a 90% fat diet eaten in 5 meals a day - but only 1,000 calories a day! Atkins says that this short-term diet forces even the most resistant body into lipolysis [and ketosis] as it forces you to burn body fat for energy.
There is plenty of conflicting medical and dietary discussion as to whether dietary fat is easily stored as body fat. But the fatty acids and glycerol from dietary or body fat can be used for energy by your body. So even if excess dietary fat is not stored as body fat, it likely eliminates the need for your body to burn its stored fat for fuel.