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Eat fat to burn fat. No, really.

| JAN 10, 2017

Last week I spoke about gut health; its role in detoxification and how eating the right kind of carbohydrates may help get you on track towards a better you.  This week, we’re going to build on that.  And we’re going to keep it simple (I love simplicity). 

Fat.  We crave it.  We hate it.  We want it.  We can’t have it.  Most of us have a love-hate relationship with fat because we just don’t understand it.  For decades we were told to eat margarine in place of butter, opt for semi-skimmed milk instead of full fat and avoid red meat lest we want a heart attack.  Now we’re told to gorge on it.  Apparently our bodies just can’t get enough; it makes us burn fat, think more clearly and gives us beautiful skin and hair.  “Coconut oil is the messiah.”

How does eating more fat not make you fat?  The truth is, it does.  And it doesn’t.

While our attitude towards eating fat is changing for the better, there remains a question that lingers in most of our minds that, for some reason, no one is asking out loud.  How does eating more fat not make you fat?  The truth is, it does.  And it doesn’t.  It entirely depends on which fat you’re eating.

My obsession with understanding it all started a couple of years ago.  I was talking to Nikki Rein, founder of barrecore studios, who mentioned that she puts her clients on two tablespoons of Bare Biology’s Life & Soul liquid (previously Lion Heart) for two weeks and the fat just “melts off” their bodies*.   Needless to say, I had to know more.

Fats 101


We all know there are good fats and bad fats, but do we really know what they are?  Most of us think of fat in terms of cholesterol, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that.  In short, bad fats are good fats that have turned rancid or have been chemically changed. High heat, oxidation and a process called hydrogenation are the culprits.  The fats solidify, clog up our arteries, lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and drive inflammation causing all sorts of ill health.  Mass produced ready made meals, junk food, fast food joints and low quality food and supplements are the primary suspects you want to avoid.  They’re usually made using extremely high heat and very unstable oils.


Good fats are the unadulterated kinds you find in wholesome foods like nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, oily fish and organic meat.  These are the types of fats you want to be eating.  In balanced amounts they don’t make you pile on the pounds.  Cold pressed oils and those that have been extracted under low heat are super too.  But there are two specific types of fat that are not only good - they’re essential. Omegas 3 and 6.  We have to eat them.  They make up parts of our body tissue, such as our skin, brains and eyes; and they keep our cell membranes flexible and healthy.  So they’re really important for our overall health and wellbeing, particularly if you’re trying to detox and lose weight. 

Mastering the balancing act


The problem is most of us are out of balance.  We’re eating far too much Omega 6, found in meat, poultry and various vegetable oils like sunflower oil.  On average we’re eating a ratio of approximately 30:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3.  It should be 4:1.  When we eat too much Omega 6, it causes inflammation in our body causing all sorts of problems.  One problem is that it changes the balance of beneficial bacteria in our gut, impairing digestion and indirectly detoxification (I spoke more about the gut-detox connection last week, which you can read more about here). 

Fats metabolically compete with one another, so when there’s an excess of Omega 6, Omega 3 suffers.

The real challenge is that eating excessive amounts of Omega 6 can lead to an Omega 3 deficiency.  The fats metabolically compete with one another, so when there’s an excess of Omega 6, Omega 3 suffers.  Sure signs are low immunity, stiff, achy joints, eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, poor concentration and even depression and anxiety.  If you’re trying to lose weight, detox and live healthily, an Omega 3 deficiency is a really big problem.

Omega 3, the figure magician

As it stands, Omega 3 is pretty difficult to get in the diet (much less if we’re eating excessive amounts of Omega 6).  We want to be eating the most active forms commonly referred to as EPA and DHA; they provide the most benefits for our body.  You find them almost exclusively in oily fish.  Mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies... Basically all the types of fish most of us never think of eating.  It’s a real shame.  Omega 3 is super for supporting liver detoxification.  It’s great for helping to expel toxins like xenoestrogens (a.k.a hormone mimickers).  So, if you suffer with hormonal imbalances that are making weight loss all the more difficult (stubborn fat around the thighs is a sure sign), it’s worth upping your Omega 3.

But that’s not all.  Omega 3 has been clinically proven to help with the so-called apple shaped figures too (the dreaded belly fat).  Tummy fat is usually driven by insulin resistance; a state of poor blood sugar control.  Omega 3 increases cellular insulin sensitivity, helping to counterbalance the effects and reducing weight gain.

High doses of Omega 3 help to shift our fat cells from fat storing to fat burning.

I really could go on.  But the real magic of Omega 3 and weight loss is in its epigenetic effects.  That’s to say the effects it has on turning certain genes on and off.  Not long ago, a study in Japan showed that high doses of Omega 3 help to shift our fat cells from fat storing to fat burning.  We have three types of fat tissue.  White, which stores fat.  Brown, which burns fat.  And beige, which is neutral – our diet and lifestyle can switch it either way.  Unfortunately, as we age we lose a lot of our brown fat tissue, increasing our ability to put on weight.  But the good news is, Omega 3 helps to switch beige cells into brown, turning our bodies into effective fat burning machines.  I’m convinced this is what makes Lion Heart so effective for fat loss with Nikki’s clients.

Other health benefits of eating good fats


But it’s not just about eating sufficient amounts of Omega 3.  Eating other good fats in their wholesome form is vital for detoxification and weight loss too.  Fat is more calorie dense than any other macronutrient, which means it’s a great source of energy, without you having to eat too much of it.  This is why some people find that it helps them to feel fuller for longer, curbing their appetite (goodbye midnight snacking).  Detoxification is calorie intensive.  Our liver, kidneys, bowels, lymphatic glands, skin, spleen and lungs (basically almost our whole body) work hard helping to purify us.  That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re eating enough calories to help fuel these organs and allow them to work optimally.  And good fats will help you do that.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to mop up a lot of the free radical damage that naturally occurs when you detox – you just can’t avoid it.

As if that’s not convincing enough, fat is critical for the absorption and utilization of certain micronutrients that our bodies need.  Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat-soluble.  This means that in order for your body to use them, fat needs to be available when you consume them.  It’s one of the reasons why I always recommend full fat options over reduced fat.  Every time.  Unlike their processed and inferior alternatives, full fat foods retain all these important fat-soluble vitamins.  Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to mop up a lot of the free radical damage that naturally occurs when you detox – you just can’t avoid it.  Similarly, Vitamin D is a powerhouse for detoxification.  It’s been shown to ramp up your glutathione levels – the king of all antioxidants (it drives approximately 60% of liver detoxification).  But, you need to eat fat in order to benefit from vitamin D... I think you can see what I’m getting at.  And this is without paying any attention to the hundreds of fat-soluble phytonutrients you find in herbs and spices that take detoxification to the next level (we’ll talk more about that in the next few weeks).  If you eat the wholesome sources of good fats, you’ll find you’ll be satisfied on very small amounts precisely because they’re nutrient dense.  And the weight should drop off.

Take it in your own stride and seek to increase your efforts each week.  It’s not a race.

That’s why this week I’d like you to upgrade the fats you eat.  The aim is to restore your Omega 6 to Omega 3 balance to support your natural ability to burn fat and increase the availability of important fat-soluble nutrients.  It’s really easy.  Crank it up a notch from week one (if you haven’t already), supplement with a teaspoon of Life & Soul liquid (previously Lion Heart) daily** and introduce my simple swaps below.  Again, take it in your own stride and seek to increase your efforts each week.  It’s not a race.

This is the plan

  • If you’re using high heat, cook with coconut oil. It’s the most stable fat available, making it less likely to turn rancid under high heat.
  • Drizzle olive oil and other vegetable oils in your food after Olive oil is more stable than most vegetable oils but can still turn bad if you cook with high heat.
  • Aim to eat 4 portions of oily fish per week and take a fish oil supplement. Unfortunately, tinned tuna doesn’t count! Not only is it highly toxic, it’s incredibly processed and doesn’t provide any Omega 3. If you don’t like fish, fish oil tablets are highly recommended. Just be sure you purchase a brand that’s independently certified pure and fresh by the International Fish Oil Standards, to avoid taking a bad form of the fat (I was once told that most fish oil brands are as good as taking a shot of oil out of a deep-pan fryer at a fast food joint. I couldn’t agree more).

Fat upgrades

If you:

Switch to:

Eat ready made meals, or dine out often

Home cooked meals.  You can make extra at dinner, and eat left overs for lunch the following day to save on time (zero excuses)

Fry with vegetable oils or olive oil

Coconut oil or cook with olive oil on low heat

Eat margarine


Semi-skimmed milk and low fat yogurts

Full fat.  Just have less of it.  Full fat options contain more nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins, which will make you feel more energized and fuller on less

Already fry with coconut oil

Try grilling or steaming food and adding the fat after

Take a fish oil that repeats on you

A fish oil brand that’s certified by the International Fish Oil Standards, like Bare Biology’s Life & Soul fish oils. Fishy burps are a sure sign the oil has gone rancid


Shopping list ideas

  • Extra Virgin cold pressed coconut oil & olive oil.
  • Unpitted olives stored in olive oil. I like the really fresh ones you get at the deli.
  • Avocados, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
  • Small, wild oily fish: sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies.
  • Smoked and wild salmon.
  • Nut butters (but watch out for brands that add too much salt!).


*As part of her broader health and fitness protocol. This should be taken only under supervision from a registered healthcare professional.
**Not suitable for those on blood thinning medication. Please refer to your registered healthcare professional before taking any supplementation.

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