Fats are high up on my list or nutritional must haves. I have a fast metabolism, I’m fairly active, and I do a lot of brain work throughout the day. Believe it or not, our brains are made up of over 60% fat. It’s also fueled by a variety of fats. Notice how airheads who are on a constant diet have been a running joke for decades? Yeah, I’m beginning to think there’s a real correlation there.
Will your brain shrink if you don’t eat enough fats? Of course not. But your brain consumes a lot of energy. In fact, it uses at least 20% of the average healthy human’s energy. And that’s if you’re eating right.
Will not eating enough fats make you stupid?
Yes and no. No because your brain (and most of your other organs) will try to pull whatever they need from your body regardless of how much you take in. Yes because it’s just plain stupid not to provide your body and organs with what they need in the first place.
I’m sure you’ve heard of “bad” fats and “good” fats. Have you? Good. It’s bullshit. The only bad kind of bad food is highly processed food (including thermally processed fats). Avoid those, whatever their fat or sugar percentage, and you’ll be fine.
Some fats are bad for one organ and healthy for another. Saturated fats, for example, have been known to increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Or at least that’s what we were taught by a study 40 years ago that we recently realized was deeply flawed.
Either way, the fats themselves aren’t really what’s dangerous for heart patients, but rather what they help your body produce – like cholesterol. And cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad. There are two different types of cholesterol, in fact. One may or may not be so great for your heart, the other is something your body really needs to be healthy. And, on the flip side, those same saturated fats are necessary for your liver to deliver the fatty acids to your brain that your noggin needs to work properly.
You can see how all of this gets really complicated. The human body is a very complex machine and that’s just one example of one type of fat that your body needs to be healthy. Let’s not get into all the monosaturated and polysaturated fats that your body will slowly but surely fade without.
Kids need fats
Before you get your panties in a twist about that statement, grease and fat are not synonymous. That’s not just a grammatical rule, it also applies to nutrition. Forget anything deep fried or dipped in grease. Your kids don’t need grease in their diet. But, oh boy, do they need fats.
The 16-year-old Kid is tall, lanky, and not very athletic (unless a GoT 2-season marathon counts as a sport). Yet he can clean up a full plate of grilled pork loin faster than I’ve ever seen it done. Growing takes a lot of energy and a good chunk of that energy comes from fats. But notice I said “grilled pork” and I didn’t mention fries or a bun. And that’s the secret formula. The 16-year-old might consume bread once a week (if a double cheeseburger happens to be stuck in it) and might grab a few fries every couple of weeks.
We are so unused to grease and deep fried foods that we tend to feel ill for at least an afternoon if we happen to make the mistake of eating deep-fried or greasy foods. It’s not a pretty picture. My kids don’t eat greasy fast foods or processed foods. But they eat plenty of fats. The first are so-called trans fats, the latter are unsaturated and saturated fats. First bad, latter absolutely necessary.
How much is too much?
As long as your kids aren’t consuming trans fats, it’s going to be tough to overdo it. Let’s do the math. School-age children need an average of 2000 calories (or more) per day. An average T-bone steak has about 380 calories. Do you see how overeating should be close to impossible for an average 12-year-old?
And I hate calorie-counting, but let’s talk about that for a minute too. The type of calories you’re eating, just like the type of fats, are so much more important than how many you’re eating. If you or your kids are overweight or overeating, not taking in the right nutrients and the right calories could very well be the reason.
According to any pediatrician I’ve spoken to (or any Google search), school aged children need about a third of those calories to come from fats (but not trans fats). Your child aged 4 to 18 should be taking in anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories of fats per day, depending on their age, size, and amount of physical activity per day. That’s 16 to 34 slices of bacon per day, aside from the proteins and carbohydrates they’re also supposed to be eating.
And if your kids aren’t getting what they need, they’re bound to eat more to try to get it. Translated to Big Macs, your 4-year-old would need to eat at least 2 a day just to get the saturated fats and proteins he or she needs. Now think of all the crap that’s in a Big Mac and tell me if you’d like your active 16-year-old eating 6 of those a day.
Toss out the white bread. Toss out the cooking oil and put the deep fryer out on the curb. Make pizza night a once-a-week family event. Give your kids more ice cream and add fresh fruit to it. Before the ice cream, serve up a triple cheeseburger minus the bun and a nice, fatty salad (avocado, loads of veggies, olive oil). And don’t make your kids eat it. Just waltz into the living room with a plate of that yourself and see how long it takes them to ask for some.