It’s 2002. You just became the CEO at your company. You are working over 75 hours per week, so your exercise routine has been put on the backburner of your priorities. You’re holding onto more fat than you’d like, and your suits are fitting a bit snug. Everywhere you go, you hear about the latest and greatest new diet trend: “Want to Lose Weight Fast? Try The Low-Fat Diet” and “30 Days to Your Slimmest Self: Eliminate Fat and Add Whole Wheat Carbs.” Eventually, you acquiesce and subscribe to this new “low fat” fad. After a few weeks, the extra weight you thought you would lose hasn’t budged, you have major brain fog, and feel more lethargic than ever.
The truth is that fats have been unfairly vilified for decades. Between 1950 and 1970, the leading cause of death among Americans was overwhelmingly due to heart disease. Around this same time, doctors and nutrition experts searched for a cause, and quickly rushed to the assumption (with inadequate evidence) that fat was the problem: it clogs your arteries, it has more than twice the calories per gram compared to carbs and protein, and it causes you to gain belly fat. Just a few years later, this fear of fat found itself front and center on the congressional floor. In July of 1976, Senator George McGovern called a hearing to address the links between diet and disease after 8 senators had died while in office from a heart attack. This hearing ultimately led to the first dietary guidelines released by the government: eliminate fats from your diet! And consequently, the health industry embraced these guidelines with no questions asked.
By 1980, this low-fat approach became an overarching ideology promoted by doctors, the government, and the popular health media. The food industry also jumped on this fad as an opportunity to create a whole new range of products – fat free muffins, fat free pizza, fat free ice cream. The formula was clear: take out the fat, and add lots of sugar. And guess what happened when we listened to what the government and health experts told us to do? We got fat and diabetic! In the 1960’s, the obesity rate in America was 5%. Now, the obesity rate is 41.5%… an 800% increase.
So what’s the truth about fats? Are they good for you? Or are they as detrimental to our health as many health experts proclaimed for years? The truth is that fats are complicated – there are healthy fats, and there are unhealthy fats that we should avoid. Healthy fats however, are essential to our health. These healthy fats are called unsaturated fats, otherwise known as Omega 6 and Omega 3. As mentioned in one of our blogs from a few weeks ago, Omegas cannot be produced naturally, so you have to get them from your diet, and you need to eat the right amount of both types. Unsaturated fats include avocados, salmon, nuts, olive oil, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
The type of fat you have probably been warned about is saturated fats. In fact, the government, the American Heart Association, and many medical experts have told us for years that saturated fats are deadly. However, the truth is that not all saturated fats are bad; dairy, eggs, and meat all contain saturated fats, and these are good for us in the right amounts. There is one type of saturated fat, trans fat, that is very unhealthy, and we should avoid it at all costs. Stay tuned next week as we dive into why you should add the right fats into your diet as a CEO.