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A Greasy Topic

A long-term client, who we will call Dolly, walked in my office, frustrated with the lack of weight loss recently. As my usual custom is, I asked her what she thought might be preventing her from reaching her goals. She gave a few reasons, and we discussed them, but they didn’t really seem to add up to the cause. She kept a faithful diary of her food intake and all her tracking items. I asked her if she ever forgot to list something. “No!” was the immediate reply. Then Dolly thought for a moment, “I’m going to be completely honest with you,” she stated.

“Ok, good, I am ready,” I said.

Dolly laid it out there, “I am adding butter to all my food.”

“Ok, good, now we have something we can work with.” This was something she had really worked on in the past and had improved dramatically. But as you know, sometimes we fall back into our old ways, and it is hard, by ourselves, to get out of the rut, especially when we don’t want to even admit it. As it turned out, she was going through a container of butter every week or sometimes stretching it to two weeks.

Now, you may think that’s a lot of fat in a short period of time, but let’s pause a moment and honestly consider how fast a tub of fat and oil may disappear in our home over the holidays while we prepare the holiday fare, and how these dietary components can sabotage your best health intentions.

Fat is calorie-dense, with each gram providing nine calories, which is more than twice the calories in carbohydrates or protein and can potentially lead to an increase in body weight and fat mass.[1] Consuming fried food activates genes related to obesity.[2] Therefore, for individuals genetically predisposed to obesity, fried and fatty food consumption can really sabotage your best efforts.

Diets high in saturated fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats can raise levels of LDL cholesterol (or "Lousy" cholesterol) in the blood. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2017 highlighted the link between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease risk.[3] Saturated fats stimulates appetite and at the same time interfere with two hormones (leptin, insulin) that help control appetite.[4] Further, high-fat diets, particularly those rich in saturated fats, can contribute to insulin resistance, a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, and other diseases of circulation and inflammation.[5]

The highest levels of saturated fat can be found in all animal products. Other sources of saturated fat are coconut and palm oils, as well as high fat nuts such as Brazil nuts, macadamia, and peanuts.

How do saturated fat and fried foods affect inflammation? Fried and greasy foods increase inflammation and rewire the brain circuits making it more difficult to control appetite and can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation in the body. Inflammation is associated with most chronic diseases.[6] High animal fat intake can increase inflammation in the liver. Consumption of even the recommended amount of saturated fat (which is 7% of total calories) when coming from animal sources can contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).[7] A review published in the Annual Review of Nutrition in 2010 discussed the relationship between dietary fat and inflammation showing the more animal fat consumed the higher the risk of diseases of inflammation.[8]

During the holiday season, delicious and often indulgent foods are plentiful, and therefore, it's important to be consciously aware of the impact fat and saturated fat intake can have on your health goals and how much visible fat we apply to our food as well as the hidden sources of fat in food someone else prepares or is commercially prepared. While holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy friends and family and the festivities, it's important to also be consciously aware of how the festive foods will affect us individually if we over-indulge in high-fat and saturated fat-rich holiday dishes. Striking a balance between enjoying festive foods and maintaining a health-conscious approach to the holidays is key to ensuring your holiday season remains joyful and healthful and you arrive at 2024 with progress that only YOU can make a reality.

Dolly gave away her tub of butter because she did not think she could have it in the house and remain successful. Dolly is ready to face the holiday and successfully meet 2024 with her goals intact, weighing less than she did in 2023! What about you?

Want help creating and implementing a successful holiday plan that REALLY works for YOU?Schedule an appointment today!


[1] Bray, G. A., & Popkin, B. M. (1998). Dietary fat intake does affect obesity! The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68(6), 1157-1173.

[2] Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Western diets turn on fat genes: Energy-dense foods may activate genes that ultimately make us obese.” ScienceDaily, 1 December 2009.

[3] Sacks, F. M., Lichtenstein, A. H., & Wu, J. H. Y. et al. (2017). Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70(17), 2179-2194.

[4] Appetite, October 19, 2009.

[5] Vessby, B., Uusitupa, M., & Hermansen, K. et al. (2001). Substituting dietary saturated for monounsaturated fat impairs insulin sensitivity in healthy men and women: The KANWU Study. Diabetologia, 44(3), 312-319.

[6] Emanuela Viggiano, Effects of a High-Fat Diet Enriched in Lard or in Fish Oil on the Hypothalamic Amp-Activated Protein Kinase and Inflammatory Mediators. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 2016; 10.

[7] Ma, J., Hennein, R., & Liu, C. (2017). Improved Diet Quality and Long-Term Risk of NAFLD: A Population-Based Prospective Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106(1), 126-136.

[8] Calder, P. C. (2010). Fatty acids and inflammation: the cutting edge between food and pharma. Annual Review of Nutrition, 30, 30-59.


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