Touted as the healthy option, it has emerged that low-fat is not as good for us as previously thought. As if we needed another excuse to ditch the 'healthy' versions and head straight for the good stuff, experts now suggest a high fat diet is actually the way forward, especially for runners.
Low fat, high sugar
According to recent research, opting for the low fat option, such as low-fat salad dressings actually prevents your body absorbing vital antioxidants such as lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene found in vegetables, making eating a salad kind of pointless.
While many other food products labelled low fat or 'light' such as mayonnaise have recently been found to have up to six times the amount of sugar as the full fat equivalent. When you remove the fat from food you often remove much of the taste so manufacturers tend to load them up with sugar and salt to make their food taste better.
Fatty foods are actually good for us
The study found that eating fat actually helps build muscle and increased muscle mass boosts your metabolism so you naturally burn more calories – definitely a win win.
Healthy fat can also help keep us fuller for longer, reduce cravings for refined sugar and carbs, and help repair cells. These fats also allow fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants to be absorbed into your bloodstream, helping reduce inflammation and repairing muscle damage – great news for us runners!
So get the most out of your salad and stick to a classic olive oil and balsamic dressing and feel the benefits from the good fats in olive oil. Just make sure to avoid eating fatty foods right before you run to prevent feeling uncomfortably full on your run and even experiencing stomach cramps, dizziness, or headaches.
Try these tasty summer salad recipes
Eating fat to burn fat
Eating a high fat diet with less carbs means your body has no choice but to use up some fat, helping you lose weight. Your body produces insulin, released when you eat, to transport glucose around your body. But the insulin levels depend on what food you eat. Your body can quickly convert sugar and carbs into glucose which gives you higher insulin levels.
Protein takes longer so your body produces less insulin. But fat is more complicated and takes much longer to be converted to glucose so your body produces little to no insulin. This means your body doesn’t have access to its normal source of fuel (glucose) and so starts burning fat instead.
What about cholesterol?
Although we’ve been told for years that eating fat causes high cholesterol, new research shows that healthy unsaturated fats actually reduce levels of bad cholesterol and raise the good. So while low fat food will help lower your cholesterol, high fat food doesn't raise it!
Instead, it is saturated fat that raises the total blood cholesterol, especially the bad, which is associated with increased risk of heart disease. Just stick to reduced levels of saturated fats, found in dairy and red meat, and avoid hydrogenated fats found in fried food and ready meals.
So what fat should you eat?
Extra virgin olive oil contains high amounts of vitamins E and K and tonnes of powerful antioxidants which help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and help protect your cholesterol levels.
When eaten right avocados can actually be quite slimming and definitely healthy. Although almost 80% fat, they are full of monounsaturated fat, the fat that’s good for your heart, lowers bad cholesterol, and reduces inflammation.
They're also packed with nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals and contain 40% more potassium than bananas. So if you're a runner who suffers from cramp, make sure you add avocado to your diet.
For the benefits of avocado and some delicious recipes, click here
Eggs used to be considered unhealthy because of the high cholesterol and fat in the yolks but they actually contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, while their high protein content keeps you full.
Just make sure you avoid loading them up with extra butter or cheese before your run.
High in antioxidants and fat, almonds also contain protein and fibre helping keep you fuller for longer.
The flesh and oil from a coconut has thermogenic properties that gives it a similar effect to protein. It also contains a fat that your body can use as an energy source immediately - just eating it can burn more calories! But go easy, as coconuts come packed with saturated fat
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel is a great source of vitamin D, protein, and packed with B vitamins and selenium. High in omega-3 fatty acids fish is a great food for helping fight against heart problems as well as being an easy source of lean protein to keep us runners going for longer.
For healthy and nutritious meal ideas, head over to our recipe section