Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit on April 25, 2022
Can You Eat Fat And Still Lose Weight?
Published | 4 min read
Did you know what eating the right kind of fat can help you lose weight? Learn more about how fat is not the enemy when it comes to weight loss.
If you’re trying to lose weight, then you may think that cutting out all dietary fats from your diet will help.
However, recent research has shown that refined sugars and carbohydrates – not fat – are often to blame for weight gain. The key is to know how to tell the difference between “good” fats and “bad” fats.
In this article, we’ll highlight how eating good fats can help you lose weight. We’ll also provide tips for helping you channel your body’s natural fat-burning abilities using acupuncture and dietary intervention.
Weight Loss and Dietary Fat Facts
Most people associate fat with weight gain and try with all their might to avoid it their whole lives. In a way, they have a point. There is indeed a kind of fat that may increase weight and cholesterol levels, which can be detrimental to health. This fat is part of the “bad fats.”
At the same time, humans also need fat to maintain good health. According to National Health Service (NHS), fat can help absorb vitamins and become a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot produce by itself. Moreover, fat can be turned into energy. This fat belongs to the “good fats” category.
How Does Fat Help You Lose Weight?
Scientists have identified two types of fat made by the body: white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). The former, WAT, is also referred to as white fats, and they’re the bad kinds. Meanwhile, BAT, also known as brown fats, are the good kinds.
White fats function to store the excess calories we get from our food. On the other hand, brown fats contain cells that burn calories and generate heat. They are the ones responsible for keeping you warm in a cold environment. Research shows that brown fats contain their own energy-burning system (causing an increase in energy expenditure), thus, the body is able to burn more calories and generate heat to lose weight.
In 2011, researcher Sheng Bi from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) researched the brains of obese and normal rats when he discovered something interesting. He found that the human body could turn calorie-storing white ones into calorie-burning brown ones, and stimulating this process could tackle obesity problems.
His finding have continued to lay the basis for healthy weight loss management throughout the years. Furthermore, since the brown ones have the capacity as a calorie burner, converting white to brown also helps improve overall health.
Foods That Help You Lose Weight
Several ingredients are believed to trigger the white-to-brown fat transformation. A study was conducted in 2019 to investigate this claim, and it concluded that these ingredients are indeed effective. It bears mentioning that the study also pointed out that more trials on some of the ingredients are still needed.
The ingredients include:
- Capsaicin: Found in chili peppers
- Resveratrol: Found in mulberries, red wine, grapes, and peanuts
- Curcumin: Found in turmeric
- Green tea
- Fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fish oil supplements and fatty fish, like salmon
Another study learned that the fat-burning effects of the ingredients could improve when combined with a whey protein supplement.
Apart from the ones listed above, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) commonly uses red yeast rice. Unlike the other ingredients, though, red yeast rice doesn’t convert white to brown.
Instead, a study showed that red yeast rice could prevent weight gain by inhibiting the formation of new white kinds. It also contains statin that can significantly lower levels of total cholesterol.
How Acupuncture Can Help You Lose Weight
Another TCM-approved method to turn white ones into brown ones is acupuncture. Traditionally, TCM uses acupuncture to treat obesity. And today, its effectiveness has been proven in a study.
It was revealed that acupuncture could encourage the conversion of white-to-brown fat by inducing Uncoupling protein 1 (a protein that regulates body temperature and weight). Although the study focused on electric acupuncture, the mechanism may also explain how manual acupuncture treats obesity.
UCP1 also “activates” the energy expenditure of brown fat. According to one study, brown fat is a metabolically active tissue rich in mitochondria containing UCP1 that helps to uncouple electron transport. This leads to a decrease in the generation of ATP from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) with subsequent heat production, which can help fight obesity.
Not all fats are good, but we know now that the bad ones can be good fats eventually. The research and discovery might be new, yet the trick is as old as ever. Acupuncture might help, yet in the end, the way toward weight loss is the same as the road to reaching overall health. And that is to eat well.
This is an adaptation of an article, “Chewing The Fat,” which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
- The Lancet. 2017. Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study.
- National Health Service. 2018. Fat: the facts
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2016. White Fat, Brown Fat, Bad Fat, Good Fat
- Frontiers in Physiology. 2019. Food Ingredients Involved in White-to-Brown Adipose Tissue Conversion and in Calorie Burning
- PubMed. 2018. Thermogenic Blend Alone or in Combination with Whey Protein Supplement Stimulates Fat Metabolism and Improves Body Composition in Mice
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2014. Acupuncture promotes white adipose tissue browning by inducing UCP1 expression on DIO mice
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2019. Red Yeast Rice: A Systematic Review of the Traditional Uses, Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Quality Control of an Important Chinese Folk Medicine
- John Hopkins Medicine. 2016. White Fat, Brown Fat, Bad Fat, Good Fat.
- Frontiers in Physiology. 2019. Food Ingredients Involved in White-to-Brown Adipose Tissue Conversion and in Calorie Burning.
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