How fats work

I was wondering if someone could explain this to me…

I’m trying to incorporate more fat into my diet to even out my blood sugar, but I don’t want to go the opposite way and wind up doing something unhealthy. Now that I’m actually reading up on different fats, however, I don’t understand why its recommended that people adhere to low fat diets. So I get that saturated fats are bad, raise your risk of heart problems, etc, but if monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are actually good for your heart, why not just eat all the unsaturated fats you want? In other words, is there really anything bad about eating unsaturated fats, assuming you’re not struggling with weight management?

I really this might be a kind of technical question with no easy answer, but I was just hoping someone out there might be able to enlighten me!

Thanks ahead of time!

You just read my mind and my dinner discussion with my husband. I’m an athlete training for a half marathon and the 100 mile ADA Tour De Cure race in Seattle in a few months and have been toying around the idea of adding additional fat to my diet. I’m in good shape and at the weight I want to stay near. As I’m building more muscle, I’m realizing my caloric intake needs to increase significantly to keep from starving myself. I workout in the evening before dinner and am always super starving after a dinner with 45g of high fiber carbs. So I’ve been adding a chunk of white cheddar cheese and some salami to dinner, which fills me up but throws my blood sugars for a loop. For the past week I’ve been waking up high, even though my basals on my pump are set correctly. Hoping to be a part of your brainstorm. I’ve been adding walnuts/almonds to my cereal in the morning as well. Google the 12 Power Foods and you’ll realize there are some incredibly healthy fats. I see my nutritionist next week so I will probably have some really good insight from that.

Hi Laura,

I am NOT a low fat fan. to address your question directly “why not just eat all the unsaturated fats you want?” it’s a calorie thing. You’ll get as big as a house on olive oil. I love it and cook with it, but it’s a moderation thing if you ask me!

Fats in general will slow down the absorption of sugar. Eat a peanut butter covered cracker and you’ll see the ~2g of carbs wont hit you for a half hour. Eat a slice of pizza and (4 me at least) the carbs dont hit for over an hour. If I bolus for pizza I will go hypo, long before the carbs are absorbed.

There are a lot of variables among people here so you should really test what a “mixed meal” will do to your control and learn how to eat fats.


So – in that case-- if you are not trying to manage your weight (and so don’t mind extra calories) then you should feel free to indulge in the unsaturated fats as much as you like and still be healthy?

Also, and this is for others as well, does it matter what order the food goes in. Like if I had a piece of steak and some mashed potatoes, should I start on the steak before dipping into the mashed potatoes or does this not matter? I just read that if fat hits your stomach first it throws the slow absorption switch and you’re good to carb it out after that. is it true?

Its so awesome having seasoned diabetics out there that can answer these questions. Before this forum I was asking my husband everything and his response is invariably “I dunno” :- |

If you want to really understand why low fat diets were recommended, read Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” He documents how the research was misinterpreted to fit the theories of politically powerful scientists, though the facts NEVER supported the claim that low fat dieting prevented heart disease.

It doesn’t. And low fat diets are full of carbs which turn out to be what raises cholesterol and triglycerides.

Even saturated fat turns out to have been unnecessarily demonized. Researchers lumped TRANS fat, which is extremely bad for you with sat fat which is not.

The truth about fats seems to be that if you completely eliminate trans fat, and if you keep your carbohydrates low enough to provide normal blood sugars without massive doses of insulin, dietary fat is not harmful. The more carbohydrate you eat, the worse fats are for you, mostly because insulin stores excess glucose as fat.

But for people with diabetes the beauty part about fat is they are the only nutrients that do NOT raise blood sugar significantly. And they satiate–ie. if you eat fat you are less likely to be hungry.

So dig in . . .

I’m relatively new at this myself (1 year) but I have a fast metabolism and thought that cutting fats was a mistake from the beginning. I was never a “low-fat” fan anyway, as I think the largest danger to blood sugar (for diabetics and non-diabetics) is overly-processed food. I don’t subscribe to a particularly low-carb diet either, although before diagnosis I was a vegetarian, so I’m sure I eat a lot less carbs than I used to. I try to make sure my fat content in grams is at least 1/3 of my total carbs in grams. If I’m eating meat, then it’s at least ½ to 2/3. If I’m not eating meat, then I add in cheese, and nuts. I’m also a huge fan of avocados, which are loaded with good fat and fiber. I use the extended bolus feature on my pump almost every evening (diner is where I usually have my highest fat meal.) It is not uncommon for me to see my highest blood glucose reading for that meal 4 hours later, especially if I was also eating high protein amounts…but because of the extended bolus, the high is usually only about 110. I just had my cholesterol checked and my numbers are really good, which I attribute to low-processed foods instead of low-fat, so unless that changes for me I’m remaining an advocate for fat. Of course, everything in moderation…like Joe said, if you over eat, you’ll pack on the pounds :slight_smile: I don’t know if in what order you eat your meal matters but am curious to see if someone else can address that.

In other words, is there really anything bad about eating unsaturated fats, assuming you’re not struggling with weight management?

No,there is nothing wrong with eating unsaturated fats. Like others have said, moderation is key. I add fat to my meals in a variety of ways - it makes food taste good!

I do not follow a low carb or a low fat diet, but more of what might be called a Mediterranean diet - lots of whole grains, veggies, fruit, and some lean protien. It is not uncommon for my breakfast and lunch to be vegetarian, with protien added by way of yogurt or cheese, and dinner with proteins from meat.

So – in that case-- if you are not trying to manage your weight (and so don’t mind extra calories) then you should feel free to indulge in the unsaturated fats as much as you like and still be healthy

yea why not. :wink: I have recently upped my intake a little (and have added red wine) to raise my HDL… poor me =) …okay and regular exercise too!

IMO I like to mix it up a bit - makes eating fun and interesting.

I go along with the Bernstein position that the only type of fat that should be limited in the diet is trans fat. Essentially, you get trans fat in processed food. So if you keep away from processed food, you should be fine. All the saturated and unsaturated fat in whole foods like meat, fish, chicken, eggs etc. is good for you. In fact it is argued that, because it is more stable (it is “saturated” and has no vacant bonding positions) saturated fat is more healthy than unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats become oxidised in the manufacturing and cooking processes, creating inflamatory free radicals. I get about 65% of my calories from fat. The best part about getting energy from fat is that it doesn’t increase blood sugar.

essentailly from my understanding is you do not want to limit saturated fats, they comprise over 50% of you cell walls and are doing your body no justice in reducing them. As well the mono-unsaturated are very good for you. The ones you want to control is your polyunsaturated. Whats important with polyunsaturated is to control your ratio between omega 6 and omega 3. Omega 6 are an essential fatty acid however without an adequate ratio to omega 3(ideally 1:1 but anywhere under 5 I believe is considered good) they act as free radicals in your bloodstream and cause inflammation and a host of other problems free radicals are known to cause. Try in general to increase your intake of omega 3 and lower your intake of omega 6.

As well always, always avoid trans fats, those aren’t natural fats and your body doesnt realize that and it causes a host of problems. In general when looking at oils avoid any Hydroginated stuff.

I eat tons of fat.probably in the neighborhood of 60-75% of my daily calories. For dinner tonight I had 1 avocado, 2 tablespoons of flax seed, an ounce of hazelnuts, some pecans and a few ounces of protein in olive oil/butter. In general this is the way I eat and all my numbers have improved. Cholesterol levels have improved, triglycerides are very low, and blood sugars have improved. The fat heart disease connection is over played. As long as the fat isn’t becoming oxidized either by you overcooking it or through inflammatory conditions in your body I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you do decide to bump up your fat in the polyunsaturated direction you might consider some Vitamin E or other fat soluble antioxidants.

Ron Rosedale is an endocrinologist who advocates a high fat diet for diabetics in his book “The Rosedale Diet.” Here is a website with some mp3s and a few interviews regarding his approach to treating diabetes: The interviews with Steve Phinney, Rosedale, and Mary C Vernon are pretty good ones.

I just read on “About Low Carb Diets” about a documentary based on some research done in BC. “The documentary is called “My Big Fat Diet” about research that was conducted in Alert Bay, British Columbia. In that area, there is a big problem with diabetes and obesity among the First People (Native people) there. The idea was to put them back on a diet similar to the ancestral diet of those people - high in fat and very low in carbohydrates. The documentary follows them through a year on the diet and the wonderful results - people stopping medication, losing weight, normalizing blood glucose, and other positive changes.”
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