With the popularity of the keto diet in recent years, there’s no question that eating dietary fat can target and melt away our body’s fat deposits. The trick is knowing which fats to choose, while avoiding the ones that can sabotage healthy slimming.
In truth, supermarket shelves are stocked with ultra-processed fats that our body doesn’t easily recognize and that can inflame our system and harm our health. We all recall how, several years ago, the FDA banned trans fats in their most common form: partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Nutrition expert Max Lugavere, New York Times bestselling author of Genius Foods, explains, “We can still find man-made trans fats in our food supply in the form of processed grain and seed oils that are bad for the brain and cardiovascular system.”
Often called the “Hateful 8,” these processed fats go by names like canola, corn, cotton-seed, soybean, sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, and rice bran oils, and are found in everything from breads to salad dressings to coffee creamers. When talking about how industrial food manufacturing has radically altered these foods and our health, Lugavere puts it bluntly: “A damaged fat damages you!”
On the flip side, it’s easy to find delicious, health-promoting fats to use in your favorite meals. And studies have identified three that may be especially helpful in slimming. Even better: These fats are believed to work well for older women, nourishing the body and undoing age-related and metabolism-hampering damage to our cells. Women indulging in these types of good fats may even be able to lose more body fat than those following a low-fat diet.
University of California, San Francisco, professor Ronald Krauss, MD, says, “I’ve been working my whole career to get people unhooked from the idea that all fats are bad, when in fact, there are some that are really good and do everything for us we want from a health standpoint.”
Read on for the three fat superstars to help you kick-start your 2023 slimdown.
Consuming satiety-boosting full-fat dairy may encourage modest weight loss; it contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which in animals, has been shown to burn fat and decrease its formation, leading to significant pound shedding. (However, in humans, there is not yet much scientific evidence of CLA’s weight loss effects.) Still, nutrition expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, believes CLA may come to be seen as the ‘liposuction nutrient.’ “Just adding this critical fatty acid to your routine helps unlock trapped fat from cells so it can be burned, and it protects lean muscle,” she says. Indeed, dairy products are also especially helpful for providing nutrients to and maintaining muscle health in aging bodies.
2. Avocado oil
Eating the oils found in avocado may help reprogram a woman’s body to carry less abdominal fat, according to a study conducted by University of Illinois. Abdominal fat comes in two types: fat that accumulates directly underneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), and fat that accumulates deep in the abdominal cavity (visceral fat). Visceral fat is more dangerous, according to research, and people with it have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and stroke. The results of the Illinois study revealed that female participants who ate avocado daily saw a reduction in visceral fat and an improvement in the ratio between visceral and subcutaneous belly fat. Avocados may also have a satiating effect (meaning you stay full for longer).
3. Coconut oil
Drizzling coconut oil in coffee or on roasted veggies may improve the function of our master metabolism gland — the thyroid — suggests a study conducted on rats and published in the journal Current Science International. Credit goes to the oil’s friendly fatty acids and healing plant compounds, which protect against the damage that can cause the gland’s fat-burning power to falter over time. Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil — which can be extracted from coconut oil — may also be beneficial. A Columbia University study found that participants consuming MCT oil lost more weight than those consuming olive oil. Bottom line: “The fatty acids in coconut and MCT oil stimulate metabolism and fat burning,” says Amy Meyers, MD. “So for weight loss, it’s not just a good fat — it’s a great fat!”
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.