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An interview with celebrity nutrition expert, Dr. Jonny Bowden. He’s a clinical nutritionist who says you need to eat smart fat to lose weight.
Dr. Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. of nutrition and a board-certified clinical nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology, has authored 15 books on health and is a frequent guest of major news programs. He’s also written numerous articles for high-profile publications.
Bowden’s most recent book is “Smart Fat.” Find out more on this book here. He is best known for debunking nutritional advice that mainstream health organizations recommend, especially when it comes to limiting fats and saturated fats in the diet. His nickname in the mainstream press is “The Nutrition Myth Buster.”
We interviewed Dr. Bowden to find out how eating smart fat leads to weight loss.
Interview with Smart Fat author Jonny Bowden
This interview with Dr. Bowden was conducted on March 23, 2016.
Allnaturalideas.com: You’ve been a long-time advocate of eating more dietary fats and whole-heartedly believe in the principle, ‘eat fat to lose fat.’ Why do you think there’s still so much confusion about dietary fat, when there’s so much information on the Internet, and all the celebrity health expert TV shows that millions of people watch? Yet, there’s still this huge disconnect and a lot of fat-phobia. People are still eating egg whites instead of whole eggs. Why is that?
Dr. Bowden: When I was a kid, there was a study about saccharine and it said that saccharine gives lab rats bladder cancer. Saccharine was the artificial sweetener of choice for everybody, including my father, who put saccharine tablets in his coffee every morning. “Dad you’re going to get bladder cancer,” I would tell him. But about 30 or 40 years later those studies were debunked. And it turned out the studies were not well done or balanced. The amount of saccharin consumed was twice the rats’ body weight! But you know what, to this day, I avoid saccharine.
Those studies decades ago is so embedded in my consciousness, that it’s almost impossible to overcome that cultural meme that I have in my head about saccharine causing cancer. So now, take that question about fat. Think back to the last 40 years where all we have heard is how fat causes heart disease. All we have heard is people are fat because they eat too much fat. All we’ve heard is support for low-fat diets … all we’ve heard is don’t have cholesterol … all we’ve heard is eat foods with very little fat. Think about the level of knowledge you’d have to have to really dive into the biochemistry and say, “Wait a minute, we were fed a huge line of bullshit!”
It’s very very difficult to overcome that level of conditioning, particularly when it’s been parroted by every major health organization.
Allnaturalideas.com: Are any of the major health organizations like the American Heart Association starting to reverse their stance on limiting fat intake?
Dr. Bowden: They have, but as I like to say they are arguing about the recipe, but they haven’t changed their thinking about the ingredients. So yes, the American Heart Association … big revelation … they no longer care about how much cholesterol you eat in your diet. You know the expression “too little too late?” We’ve known for over a decade that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t mean shit [in terms of cholesterol in the blood]. They still, however, worry about cholesterol in the blood. So they really haven’t shifted their stance. What they’ve done is said, “Ok. We now know that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t affect cholesterol in the blood, but we still believe cholesterol in the blood is what we should be focused on to prevent heart disease. It’s a gradual incremental change.
Allnaturalideas.com: What’s the central theme of your new book, Smart Fats?
Dr. Bowden: The theory of my book is that what makes a fat good or bad is whether it’s toxic or not. Toxicity of a fat has nothing to do with whether the fat is saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, animal- or vegetable- or mineral-sourced. Toxic is defined as: was the animal raised with growth hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or sprayed with chemicals? All of these toxic components are stored in the fat of the animal and that’s why they are toxic. All the fat in a factory farmed animal is toxic fat. Toxic fat does not imply at all that it’s an animal-derived fat. You take a healthy pasture-raised animal that eats grass: that’s a health food, which has nothing in it that you should be afraid of. That’s been my theory.
Allnaturalideas.com: Just to be clear, then … saturated fat is not necessarily a toxic fat?
Dr. Bowden: Absolutely not. Guess what the USDA database of food lists as the most abundant source of fat in a sirloin steak? The predominant fat is monounsaturated, the same as olive oil! The sirloin steak is 51% monounsaturated. Did the toxins in the grain-fed cow somehow bypass the monounsaturated fat and end up as a repository of toxins only in the saturated fat? Of course not.
Allnaturalideas.com: In your book, you recommend having a minimum of 5 servings of fat per day. What are your favorite sources of fat and how easy is it to consume 5 servings?
Dr. Bowden: You don’t want to just eat 5 servings of fat, you want 5 servings of smart fats! Smart fats are fats that have been demonstrated in solid human research studies to offer great health benefits. This would include fish oil and olive oil. There’s plenty of neutral fats, which you can have or not have, but that doesn’t count as the 5 servings of smart fat.
Here are a couple easy ways to incorporate smart fats: put some coconut oil in your coffee or morning shake. Eating half an avocado counts as a couple servings. Sprinkle some flax seeds on your salad. Put a dab of grass fed butter on your oatmeal. There you go, that’s at least 5 servings right there. It’s easy.
Allnaturalideas.com: Physiologically what happens when you start eating a lot of smart fat?
Dr. Bowden: Now let’s be clear, here … you can’t just eat smart fats while continuing to eat a crappy diet. You have to cut out all the starchy carbs and sugars. You really have to lower your carbs if you want to notice any results. Do this and smart fats will help balance hormones, help control weight which, paradoxically, that’s the biggest eye opener for people who are new to this way of eating: eat fat to lose fat. Smart fats also cushion the organs for protection, and it provides you with the best source of energy on the planet.
Allnaturalideas.com: You believe carbs are the enemy of weight loss, not fat. Why is that?
Dr. Bowden: Fat storage is directed by hormones, particularly insulin. One of insulin’s main functions is that when blood sugar rises, insulin acts as a sherpa, or chaperone, for the rowdy kids (blood sugar) that are running amok after curfew. Insulin says, “Alright guys, let’s round you up and get you home.”
And home is, for sugar, in the cells where it can be theoretically used for energy. This is how it works in a healthy metabolism. But when it comes to the metabolism of Americans who have eaten a crappy diet for decades, insulin tries to wrangle up the sugar and get it into cells, but the cells are like tenants in a Manhattan apartment building. They become immune to the noise level of their surroundings. It’s like the cells don’t even hear the commotion anymore, with all the sirens and garbage trucks and all the other noise pollution.
That’s what happens to the cells with excess insulin. There’s so much sugar and insulin, the cells stop listening to the message. Insulin comes knocking on the cell door. “Don’t you need some sugar? You’re going to be doing all this activity today, right?”
The cells, in turn, respond, “What are you talking about dude? This guy’s going to sit around all day on the computer then sit around and watch TV all night. We don’t need anymore sugar. Take it somewhere else.”
So insulin starts storing the sugar in the fat cells. And when the fat cells have had enough, then you become diabetic. So now you’ve got high blood sugar and high insulin with nowhere to go. So fat storage is all driven by insulin. Burning and releasing fat becomes impossible because insulin locks the doors! So now you can’t burn fat.
Allnaturalideas.com: What’s the most egregious nutritional myth that the mainstream media and health organizations have perpetuated over the years?
Dr. Bowden: They’re still recommending a vast majority of your calories should come from carbs! Know what raises insulin the most? Carbs. The second most is protein, not nearly as much as carbs, but protein still raises insulin somewhat. Guess what doesn’t budge the needle on insulin? Fats!
Now you have to ask yourself the Alice in Wonderland question. Why have we been told for over 40 years that the best weight loss diet consists of eating the one type of food [carbs] that drives up the fat storage hormone, insulin, through the roof the most? And less of the one type of food [fats] that doesn’t even budge the needle on insulin? Dump the starchy carbs and up the fat if you want to normalize insulin levels and start burning fat.
Allnaturalideas.com: Why is smart fat the best energy source for your body?
Dr. Bowden: Your body can store about 1800 calories as either glucose (blood sugar) or glycogen (sugar stored in the liver and muscles). But you have a nearly limitless energy potential stored as bodyfat. So which is the most effective? Obviously fat! In the powerhouses of the cells, which is the mitochondria, that’s where fat burning takes place. There’s a currency energy molecule called ATP, which is required for all functions, from blinking your eye, to growing your toenails to dancing the mambo. Anything that requires breathing is dependent on ATP. Your body will make about 36 molecules of ATP per molecule of glucose. It makes 144 molecules of ATP per molecule of fat. That’s the energy storage you want to be accessing!
Look at it this way. Consider carbs to be money you can immediately access in your pocket. And consider smart fats to be your savings you can only reach through an ATM. If you’re constantly eating starchy carbs and sugars, your body will never have to tap into the ATM to use energy. It’ll just use the immediate cash in your pocket, even if it’s just a buck or two…. Then your body, will constantly be saying, we don’t have to tap into our savings account, which is fat as energy. Instead, we’ll just have a steady flow of cash, or energy, right from our pocket, which is the carbs.
Allnaturalideas.com: Any final thoughts on what you think makes for a very healthy diet besides small fats?
Dr. Bowden: I want to emphasize that you must eat lots of fiber. Many higher-protein or higher-fat diets tend to underemphasize the importance of dietary fiber. Ideally, one would consume more vegetables, especially, green-leafy ones, than fruits. Just remember to get your minimum 5 servings daily of smart fats, get plenty of fiber and radically reduce the amount of starchy carbs in your diet and you should start seeing weight loss.