No, we're not talking about the awful food relatives force us to eat at the holidays. We're talking about getting the fat on your plate: A new report from the Credit Suisse Research Institute found that more and more of us are choosing whole-fat foods over skim, lite, fat-free or other modern monikers of leanness. And while many health organizations like the American Heart Association still want us to cut down on fat—particularly saturated fat—this full-fat trend may be a healthy rebellion against those decades-old credos, according to recent studies.
In fact, people who eat a lot of high-fat dairy products actually have the lowest incidence of diabetes, according to a 2015 study of 26,930 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Those who ate a lot of low-fat dairy products, on the other hand, had the highest incidence. The researchers speculated that while calcium, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients in yogurt are indeed good for us, we need the fat that goes along with them in order to get their protective effects.
So what’s the best way to join the full-fat revolution? We polled some of the country’s top nutrition experts and asked for their favorite full-fat fat burners.
Because you don’t want to feel like a “cow,” it’s easy to think “skinny” ice creams are the cure. However, many of them have a dirty little secret lurking in their containers: propylene glycol, better known as antifreeze. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to put down your spoon, consider this: When fat is taken out of food, sugar is often added in its place. So while a small serving of full-fat ice cream will satisfy your craving and hunger with satiating fat, a sugar-spiked low-fat scoop will lead to an inevitable crash and more munchies.
"I consume grass-fed butter every day because I consider it a health food,” says one doctor. “It’s an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, and it helps slow down the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates, leading to consistent energy levels and improved brain function. Plus, it tastes great!”
Spread a dab on your whole grain bread with confidence. “You can consume butter daily with confidence" because studies have shown "the saturated fat in it is not linked to heart disease."
Yeah, we know: grass-fed beef is a little pricey. But its higher ratio of good-for-you fats make it well worth the cost: A study in Nutrition Journal found that grass-fed meat contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. And when it comes to your waistline, grass-fed beef is naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat. Consider this: A 7-ounce conventional strip steak, trimmed of fat, will run you 386 calories and 16 grams of fat. But a 7-ounce grass-fed strip steak is only 234 calories and five grams of fat—you’ll save more than 150 calories and your steak will taste better.
Check out the nutrition labels on jars of regular and reduced-fat peanut butter. You'll see a few differences: While the reduced-fat PB has—surprise!—less fat, it also has more sugar and salt. Now consider that the fat in PB is the healthful, monosaturated kind that research shows lowers your sensitivity to insulin. You're really just trading healthy fat for sugar. The only type of peanut butter I’ll eat is the natural variety. Non-natural nut butters usually contain partially hydrogenated oils, which is a type of trans-fat!
Coconut is high in saturated fat, but more than half of that comes from lauric acid, a unique lipid that battles bacteria and improves cholesterol scores. And get this: A study published in Lipids found that dietary supplementation of coconut oil actually reduced abdominal obesity. Of the participants, half were given two tablespoons of coconut oil daily and the other half were given soybean oil, and although both groups experienced overall weight loss, only the coconut oil consumers’ waistlines shrunk as much as 1.1 inches.
Sprinkle unsweetened flakes over yogurt or use coconut milk in a stir-fry to start whittling your waist.
Olive oil is rich in cancer-fighting polyphenols and heart-strengthening monounsaturated fats, and when it comes to looking lean, it’s backed by some pretty strong facts. A recent study from Obesity found that an olive-oil-rich diet resulted in higher levels of adiponectin than did a high-carb or high-protein diet. Adiponectin is a hormone responsible for breaking down fats in the body, and the more you have of it, the lower your BMI tends to be.
As in, keep the yolks. The bestselling book Zero Belly Diet features protein as fundamental to the plan, and eggs happen to be one of the easiest and most versatile delivery systems in the universe. Not only that, they’re also the number-one dietary source of a nutrient called choline. Choline, which is found also in lean meats, seafood and collard greens, attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. One recipe - a breakfast hash with sweet potatoes and fresh farm eggs became a test panelist's go-to breakfast, and after just 3 weeks on the program, she'd lost 11 pounds and 4 inches from her waist!
This wonder fruit is essentially Mother Nature’s butter. Although you should limit yourself to a quarter or half of an avocado, you have no reason to fear its fats. Avocados pack in healthy monounsaturated fats that contain oleic acid, which can actually help quiet feelings of hunger. They also give you two things butter doesn’t: protein and fiber. And made from pressed avocados, avocado oil is also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that may help improve cholesterol.
Certain dietary fats come with red flags. And the absolutely worst match for your apple-shaped figure: saturated fats. While unsaturated fat can help reduce abdominal fat, saturated fat can increase waist size, a study published in the journal Diabetes found. Saturated fats, like the kind you’ll find in baked goods and red meat, “turn on” certain genes that increase the storage of fat in the belly, researchers say. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, activate genes that reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism. At about 13 grams per one-ounce serving, walnuts are one of the best dietary sources.
Good news for your sweet tooth: Chocolate can help you flatten your belly. Dark chocolate, that is. But to truly take advantage, don’t wait until dessert: A recent study found that when men ate 3.5 ounces of chocolate two hours before a meal, those who had dark chocolate took in 17 percent fewer calories than those that ate milk chocolate. The researchers believe that this is because dark chocolate contains pure cocoa butter, a source of digestion-slowing stearic acid. Milk chocolate’s cocoa butter content, on the other hand, is tempered with added butter fat and, as a result, passes more quickly through your GI tract.