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5 Reasons You Need to Eat Fat to Lose Fat

woman flexing and measuring her bicep

Fats are Essential

Fat is one of those essential macronutrients.  More specifically, we are talking about essential fatty acids (EFAs). When your body doesn’t get in enough of the nutrients it needs, it will send out hunger signals to tell you to eat until it does get them. Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body, so they need to be consumed through your diet.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are the two essential fatty acids we must ingest because the body cannot synthesize them. Most of us get in enough of the omega-6 fatty acids, but are lacking with the omega-3s. Good sources of EFAs include seeds, nuts, and fish. I like to supplement with fish oil to get my EFAs. Essential fatty acids might be the only essential fats, but saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats play a large role in the body too.

Fats Slow Down Digestion

Another reason you need to eat fat to lose fat is because fat slows down the digestion of food. Why is this beneficial? When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose and sent into the bloodstream. When this happens, insulin comes in and shuttles that glucose to muscle tissues (or fat if glycogen stores are full). If too much glucose is in the bloodstream at one time, insulin is released in greater amounts – preventing the release of fatty acids.

Fat cannot be released when insulin levels are high. How does fat help? It slows down the digestion of your meal, and causes a nice steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. By doing this, insulin levels stay muted, and fat can be mobilized. By adding some fat to your meal, you slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates, and increase your fat burning potential.

Find out more ways to slow down the digestion of your meals.

Assimilation of Fat Soluble Vitamins

Certain vitamins can only be digested and transported with the help of fats. These fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are responsible for many body functions, including:

  • Vision
  • Healthy skin and hair
  • The assimilation of calcium
  • Blood clotting

If you limit your fat intake, you’re limiting your ability to transport and absorb these fat soluble vitamins. While not directly responsible for fat loss, fat soluble vitamins work in harmony with other vitamins and nutrients to produce hormones and keep the nervous system functioning optimally – which are responsible for fat loss.

Fat Boosts Testosterone

Testosterone is one of the most powerful muscle building hormones for both men and women. Both sexes need this hormone for optimal body function. Dietary fat intake has been shown to influence testosterone levels. You can boost testosterone levels by ingesting between 20-30% of your calories from fat. Not just any fat though. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the two that have been shown to increase testosterone levels.

Believe it or not, saturated fat is not the killer it’s made out to be. Trans fats are the fats you should be avoiding. Saturated fat plays an important role in many body functions. They are important for maintaining the structure of our cells, and for boosting our immune system. They are precursors to many hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.

Since testosterone is a major muscle building hormone, and having extra muscle boosts your metabolism, it doesn’t take much to make an argument to eat sufficient amounts of fat in your diet. Fat –> boosts hormones –> that help build muscle –> which boosts your metabolism and burns more fat.

Here are 10 more ways to boost your metabolism and fat loss.

Eating Fat Helps You Lose Fat

To many people, this may seem counter-intuitive. If you’re trying to lose fat, why would you want to eat it? The answer is simple actually. By showing your body that it is getting a consistent source of external fat from your diet, it will be more willing to let go of the fat it is currently holding (calories in = calories out still holds true of course).

Fat is energy. Your body does not want to give up this valuable fuel source. We may think that fat is a nuisance, but your body thinks otherwise. It loves fat. Providing 9 calories per gram, fat provides a dense source of energy for your body.

The downside? Fat has 9 calories per gram, and is a dense source of energy for your body. Great for your body, but bad for you when you want to get rid of it. By not severely limiting your fat intake, you signal to your body that there is no famine or lack of available energy in the near future, and that it is OK to shed some of the energy reserves it currently holds.

Now that you know you how important healthy fats are for fat loss, don’t be one of those people who takes everything to the extreme. Everything in moderation. The point of this article is to show you that your fears of fat are unfounded. Fat is healthy. Fat is good. Don’t be afraid of eating too much fat – be afraid of eating too many calories.

  • Octavian

    Hey Tony, this is a great article. I’ve been increasing my dietary fat intake (while keeping my caloric intake steady) and I’ve noticed a marked decrease in appetite (I’m not hungry all the time) and loss of body fat (determined by a body fat scale).
    Have you ever heard of Dr. Kurt Harris of the Archevore Blog? His particular take on fat intake is a bit more extreme than yours (he consumes 70% of calories from fat), but he does agree that one should not exceed daily caloric needs while doing this.

  • Coach Calorie

    Hey Octavian, I have not heard of Dr. Harris. 70% of calories from fat is a lot, and he probably recommends little to no carbohydrates with that percentage. While I don’t necessarily see issues with fat intake that high, you still need carbohydrates if you plan on doing any kind of high intensity exercise.

  • Octavian

    I don’t think he actually recommends that anyone else eat that way. He is at his goal weight and he does do HIT type exercise regularly. I believe he eats about 10-20% of calories from carbs and 10-20% from protein. I have tried upping my intake of fat to the 70% level and it was quite hard to get that much fat, plus I got a bunch of pimples. I keep it around 50-60% nowadays, like I said earlier.

  • Coach Calorie

    That is very low protein intake. Is he of the theory that ketone bodies are protein sparing? Just wondering how he’s putting on muscle with just 10% protein and carbohydrates. On a 2000 calorie diet, that would only be 50 grams of each.

  • Tom Parker

    Thanks for the mention Tony. Always good to see people highlighting the importance of fat. A lot of people still wrongly associate eating fat with getting fat so the more truthful posts like this the better.

    • Coach Calorie

      I appreciate the great information Tom

  • Ruth

    I just started using Chia seeds to add some extra healthy fats in my diet and I am also taking Omega 3 supplements. We do not eat much fish as I am the only one who enjoys it in my household. I also do not eat nuts very often as they are a trigger food for me and find that I cannot stop with one handful. Are there any additional sources that you can suggest to get the benefits?

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Ruth, you might want to try some Omega-3 eggs – organic, free-range

      • Ruth

        Thanks. Will look for them…I have eggs 3-5 times a week. One egg scrambled with a Tbs of Chia seeds, onions and bell peppers makes a huge b-fast!

        • Coach Calorie

          Sounds like a healthy meal idea

  • Gianna

    Fat is very important I agree. I try to get as much fat and protein as possible since I’m nursing a baby.

    • Coach Calorie

      Doubly important for you Gianna!

  • Donna B.

    Thank you for this article. I argue this point with my friends all the time – you can’t eliminate all fats from your diet, just the unhealthy ones. I try to incorporate healthy fats (avacado, nuts, olive oil) into my diet daily.

    • Coach Calorie

      I think we became a fat phobic society back in the fat free advertising days. At that time, everyone though fat free was healthy – didn’t matter what else was in it or how much sugar it contained. If they don’t have an open mind, your words will never resonate with them unfortunately.

  • Jeannette Laframboise

    This is a very important point as I know many people that have cut their fat intake so much and then become really frustrated with the lack of results. Truth is the body does need fat as well…just not as much as a lot of us have become accustomed to. I will definitely be forwarding this article on to a few folks. Thanks for the info!!

    • Coach Calorie

      Fat is essential to the function of our bodies. Everything in moderation. Thanks for the comment Jeannette.

  • Christine L

    This just might be my favorite post of yours; it is essential. A lot of people think that cutting out fat will be the biggest step they make in diet and weight loss plans. They don’t understand that they need fat to properly function.

    • Coach Calorie

      Very true Christine. Many people don’t even realize that fat is essential and that you have to ingest it from dietary sources.

  • Donna

    Great article! Do you have a recommended macronutrient ratio for weight/fat loss? P/C/F?


  • Shelly

    I’ve heard a lot of great benefits from coconut oil, but noticed when I bought it its 12 g saturated fat which kinda scared me to try it as I have no clue how much to use daily or what to use it with. Any advice on coconut oil?

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Shelly, coconut oil is a little different than most saturated fats, as it is comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These saturated fats are more readily used for energy. As with all things though, they are healthy in moderation. Coconut oil is a good fat to cook with, as it has a high resistance to heat. I wouldn’t go so far as to just supplement with it, unless you are in dire need of extra calories.

  • Lisa Eirene

    My favorite “fat” to eat is salmon, avocados and nuts! Even when they are high in calories (avocados) I know they are good for me.

  • http://Facebook Elaine Kiely

    Great article. I eat a lot of nuts and seeds and get plenty of dairy as well as cooking with olive oil. I avoid transfats/hydrogenated fats. But I was wondering about animal fats. Mostly I eat my meat lean, but occassionally eat fatty meat. Is animal fat OK in moderation or should it always be avoided?

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Elaine, I think animal fat is just fine in moderation. I occasionally will have a burger when I see no other options. I eat lean meat 90% of the time though. Mostly because I prefer to save the calories and use them elsewhere in my diet.

  • alan

    This article is truth! I have been eating fat and protien with little carbs. I am 48 but let me tell you when I work out now I feel like a monster! I know that this diet increases testosterone. I am only afraid of all I have been programmed about fats. Been doing this diet for 3 weeks now and my abs are really starting to show.

  • Angela Lane

    How much healthy fat a day

    • Coach Calorie

      Anywhere from 20-35 percent of your calories. It will depend on other factors such as how many carbohydrates you’re eating. Typically, the more carbs you eat, the less fat you consume and vice versa.

  • Trisha Kelly

    What would you say to a personal trainer (who isn’t even qualified to be giving dietary advice without the formal training or certification), that advises her clients to eat only low-fat/reduced-fat/non-fat dairy items?

    • Tony Schober

      Eating reduced fat items isn’t necessarily bad. It depends on what the rest of the diet looks like. Sometimes it’s necessary in order to make room for more calories. If they are saying to do it for health reasons or just because they think it’ll keep you from losing weight, I would tell them weight loss is about calorie balance – not fat balance.