Last week, I had a very interesting encounter with a beautiful, 51 year old baby turkey (I call them ‘baby turkeys’ because they are new and fresh and juicy for the grill).
Ayesha (not her real name) walked in wearing a crisp white, tucked-in shirt and a beautiful Hermes silk scarf. She wanted to lose weight, not that she needed it. It took us 15 minutes to get comfortable before she finally confessed: “Mantahaa,” she sighed, “I don’t think even you can help me. I have been to tons of nutritionists in Dubai and Canada and no one is able to help me lose these last 6 stubborn kilos!”
By looking at her, I don’t think any one could have guessed that she wanted to shed more pounds. But then it occurred to me, she wanted to lose the extra 6 kilos to gain back her sense of accomplishment. So after a series of blood work analyses and 24/7 monitoring of her meals, I had the aha! moment, a sort of nutrient-rich epiphany—her meals lacked a very important macronutrient, namely fat.
Just like the C-word (carbs), the F-word (fat) is thrashed in all the fad diets where one important macronutrient or other is criminally ignored.
Fat, like proteins or carbohydrates, perform a full workload of body functions that you cannot live without. They come in different forms as well, just like cholesterol. On one end, there’s the good, unsaturated fat. On the other, there’s the bad, saturated fat.
First, the good news: We all need a certain amount of body fat to cushion, position and protect our internal organs. That means protecting our bones from injury and underlining our skin for insulation. These are just a couple of all the boring benefits that we don’t bother worrying about. Ladies, the enlighteningly shocking news is that if you don’t have fat in your system, you will lose the subcutaneous layer under your skin the absence of which is the cause of wrinkles, fine lines and aging spots. So go ahead and grab that hummus with all the might of your unconstrained pleasure (but, ahem-ahem, portion-control, please).
The question now is how to differentiate between good and bad fats. It’s actually quite simple. The good, unsaturated fat doesn’t solidify at room temperature, so olive oil, sunflower oil, flax seed oil, avocado oil, nuts, Omega 3 and Omega 6, all fall into this category. Bad or saturated fat solidifies at room temperature. This includes cream, cheese, animal fats, processed meats and baking chocolate that are just some of the yummy sins you should keep your body away from.
My advice is that if you’re going mad over the difference between good fat vs. bad fat, just go nuts: that is peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
After I explained the fat facts, Ayesha understood that fat is unfairly treated as the underdog among all the macronutrients, and that, too, without a fair trial.
If you are following the same diet plan and fitness regime for years without a core understanding of your goals, I know that it can be really frustrating. After all, what should your next step be? How do you navigate the twists and turns in your long term nutritional planning? Fortunately, Ayesha got it. She understood that her body needed to be fuelled by the appropriate amounts of good fats, proteins and carbs to increase metabolic activity so that she could reduce her body-fat percentage. Let me rephrase that more simply: Ayesha understood that she needed the good fat to burn the bad fat away.
Today, Ayesha is well on her way! Not only has she lost 4 kg out of her 6 kg goal, but claims that her anti-aging cosmetics and creams are finally beginning to work. Best of all, she looks 10 years younger and is all set to start a new chapter in her life.