We all know this scene from Mean Girls; its arguably one of the most beloved quotes from the film and over the years has become my absolute favorite in the long list of MG lines that apply to my every day life. I love it because it perfectly illustrates our no-questions asked nutritional culture in the United States in the most simple and comedic way.
Often, I use the movie to show girls how normal it is to be sucked up in fad diets and how easy it is to just blindly believe in any thing, even something as silly as Swedish candy bars that make you lose weight, when it promises a quick fix.
To quickly point out the obvious, butter is a fat, not a carb. And had Regina known that, her all carb-diet dream of losing three pounds would have been crushed harder than Katy for Aaron Samuels. But, contrary to popular belief, fats are a vital part of an overall balanced diet and are needed to achieve fitness success. To get results, Regina should have taken a page from the IIFYM playbook on balanced eating, which would have allowed her to have both carbs and fats and lots of other stuff too - even butter!
Now, how can this be true? As most of you know, I follow IIFYM. For those of you who don’t know what that is, IIFYM means ‘If It Fits Your Macros.” It’s a science based eating method based on a balance of Macronutrients (Carbs/Fats/Proteins) and micronutrients (sugar/sodium/fiber). The purpose of IIFYM is to give your body the exact amount of Macros/Micros that it needs to achieve your fitness goals of your body. To oversimplify, you can pretty much eat what you want as long as it fits into your macros. Crazy, I know. You can ready more about IIFYM by checking out my blog entitled ” What is IIFYM? - A Beginners Guide.”
Back to Fats - how can they be good for you right? I know what you are thinking, “I have been taught that fats are bad, if fats weren’t so bad why would there be so many fat-free foods, I mean the name in itself is the word “fat”; no way they can be healthy right?” Wrong!
Not all fats are bad!
It’s true that there are some fats that are not good for your health. Those types of fats are called Trans fats and Saturated fats and they are in a lot of food. They are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. However, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are great for you! Not only do they help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease, but they make you feel good, give you energy, help increase your skin’s health and eyesight and encourage increased brain activity all well keeping you happy and full!
Some awesome foods loaded with good fats are nuts, fish/seafood, coconut oil, chia seeds and nut butters - just to name a few!
So why do we think fats are bad?
A lot of the misconception associated with fats being unhealthy comes from their caloric value. At 9 calories per gram, any type of fat, good or bad, has more than twice the calories of carbohydrate and protein. For most people, high calorie foods send up a red flag in their mind; to them, high Calorie diets means more weight on the body! So by cutting down on a fats, you cut down on calories and in theory - lose weight. Makes sense - if your body didn’t need fats to function. But you guys are smarter than that!
It’s important to realize that if their are misconceptions about fats and if they are good or bad for you, there are probably misconceptions about how much calories you should be taking in a day to see weight loss results. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends women consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories if they are sedentary, 1,800 to 2,200 calories if they’re moderately active and 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day if they are active.
However, women on diets have reported 1,000 - 1,200 cals. a day on average while working out moderately. That’s almost a 1000 calorie difference in what is recommended and what people actually feel they need to eat to reach their weight loss goals. That is a major problem!
Low fat diet doesn’t mean low fat body!
Fats produce essential fatty acids that are vital to combating the bulge, disease and promoting functionality in the body. According to Wahida Karmally DrPH, RD, Professor of Nutrition at Columbia University and director of nutrition at The Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, “Your body is incapable of producing the EFAs, known as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, so it must derive them from food.”
Just like a wagon that has had a wheel removed, when you deprive yourself of an essential building block, your body will start to wobble and eventually will lose total control. Not only will you not feel very good, suffer from brain-fogginess and other serious health effects, you will also see little movement in your body’s progress after the initial/minor lean down stage seen from all fad diets. Coupled with intense or severally increased physical activity, you can actually can signal the body to start burning muscle for fuel and store more fat, resulting in some weight gain.
Balance is Key!
So its really not the amount of fats but rather the type of fats that matters; which goes the same for carbs and proteins! There is no need to avoid a certain food group, go on a low fat-diet, or a high-carb diet or whatever it is for that day! Success comes from being educated, working hard and not taking short cuts. I always tell my clients, don’t be a Regina. Eating your fats, hitting your remaining macros, and working out hard is the only way to reach your goals. Otherwise, in the land of fitness, you might end up like this!
Just Kidding! If we learned anything from MG it’s that there is always time change your ways! If you are one of those fad dieters, it’s never too late! Tomorrow is a new day!