• Tammy Barkley

How Can I Figure Out What to Eat According to All Those Online Articles?

My coach has ruined me!  I can’t just sit down and read an article without nit picking it and asking is this true, is this misleading, where did they get that premise?

I am always on the lookout for good articles to share with you but so much of the time I really hesitate because while most of the points may be true, there is incomplete, misleading or sometimes just wrong information given along side truth.  So frustrating!  

So here is my example article.  Live Strong usually has some pretty good stuff to share.  So here is how I read.

Title “Why You Need to Eat Fat to Burn Fat”, well that’s an intriguing title.  And let’s face it, with our crazy news, news, news society you have to have an intriguing title or no one will click on it.  

Link to the article:

Yes we need fat in our diets.  At Rise Personal Training/Coaching, we are not afraid of fat.  There are essential fatty acids that we need and our bodies cannot produce.  Essential means..well, essential!  We need them to function well.  But do we need them to burn fat?  Let’s read some more.

The article talks a lot about the benefits of fat, which yes I have no problem with. Then throws out the comment again, it helps the body burn fat, but still no hows… 30% of the diet should be fat…yes I have no problem with that comment as well, but we still are not talking about the main subject.

Not all fatty foods are created equal.  True, true."Pizza, french fries and hamburgers can make you gain weight"…Why when people talk about poor diets they always list those 3?  I personally do think the obesity epidemic is caused by people eating pizza, french fries, and hamburgers…Wait! What is wrong with hamburgers?  You can get hamburgers made with lower fat ground beef or bison.  And yes you can put a lot of extras on your hamburger to make the fat content go up but you don’t have to.  You can even get a hamburger made with a lettuce  bun and forgo the puffy white bread bun.  So I’m not sure why hamburgers are vilified as poor food choices.  Pizza?  To me the biggest problem with pizzas are the fact that you get a whole pizza!  The serving size of pizza is usually listed as 2 slices and it is hard to limit yourself to 2 slices.  Is pizza horrible?  No, but it is easy to eat 2 or even 3 servings of pizza so be aware!  French fries…well yeah I’ll agree with her there and they come as a side with everything!  Should we be conscience of the calorie vs. nutrient ratio of our food?  Of course!  What is that?  Well pizza can have a lot of calories without giving us tons of nutrition.  Not the best way to eat for health.  

After wading through lots of good stuff about the benefits of fat we get to the meat!

Fat Burns Fat section.  Do they really explain this at all? I don’t think so.  

"The body needs three macronutrients for energy: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A gram of fat packs more than twice the energy of a gram of the other two. “When you don’t have any fat in your diet its like you don’t have fuel to burn calories,” Glassman says.“ 

OK 3 macronutrients for energy.  Well kinda true. Our bodies use food for more than just energy, like growth and repair, too.  

 A gram of fat pack more than twice the energy of a gram of the other two.  True or another way of saying that is fat has twice the calories.  

But it is quite a jump to say if you don’t have fat in your diet you don’t have the fuel to burn calories.  Our bodies run on glucose.  That is the fuel.  When we don’t get carbs for energy our bodies turn fat and protein to glucose.  Our bodies can burn its own fat or its own muscle if needed to keep itself alive and we don’t need a steady diet of avocado to do that.  

"What’s more, “old” fat stored in the body’s peripheral tissues—around the belly, thighs, or butt (also called subcutaneous fat)—can’t be burned efficiently without “new” fat to help the process, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver." Old fat?  This makes it sound like fat that does not get used by the body as fuel or for those essential needs gets shuffled off to subcutaneous fat…just waiting for the new fat to.. what?  Come and relieve it?  Replace it?  Are you trying to tell me that I could be starving on a deserted island and my body would not burn the “old” fat because I don’t have new fat to help it along?  That is not really how things work.  

Ok now the science! PPAR alpha pathway, so simple.  In with the new fat out with the old fat.  Simple?


By Sander kersten - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I got this diagram from wikipedia when I looked up PPAR Alpha.  Simple!  Right?  My eyes glaze over at these diagrams because they are ridiculously complicated.  

Fat Builds Muscle…what?!?  Look carefully at what is being said here.  "Eating good fats along with effective exercise"  So did the study compare how exercise alone with out fat effected the muscles?  What about no exercise and just eating good fat?  Was it specifically that combination?  Um we don’t really know because they did not link the study!  Why didn’t they link the study?  

I want to read those studies so I can see the abstracts, procedures, and conclusions for myself.  But there is nothing…

And the quotes are from a gym owner, and the registered dietitian who is selling meal plans, etc.  hmmm 

My biggest problem is that she tried to simplify a very complex system and in doing so made it seem like, Oh!  Gee! all I have to do to lose the extra fat I have is... eat more fat!  Yay!  I love to eat fat!  Wait a minute that does not sound accurate to me...

And where are the links to the studies? With out the links, all you have is the author’s opinion that you have to eat fat to get skinny and she did a poor job convincing me that yes, my body works that way.  

So was there truth in this article?  Yes!  

Did she prove her title?  I don’t think so.  

Wish she would have titled this "Yay! I Can Eat Fat!"


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