5 Things You Didn’t Know About Fat

5 Things You Didn't Know About Fat

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health. Not only is he a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology, but he’s also the author of fourteen books on health, healing, food, and longevity! His new book, Smart Fat, just came out, so I thought it was the perfect time to turn to him to reveal the five things we probably didn’t know about fat. Fittingly, his book has the fatty green of the moment, avocado, on its cover.

“Fat is the Rodney Dangerfield of food groups—not only doesn’t it get any respect, it’s the most misunderstood of all the macronutrients,” Bowden told us. So here are five things you never knew about fat. Spoiler alert: you may never think of butter in the same way again!

1. Saturated fat does not cause heart disease. After years of being demonized for “raising cholesterol” and “clogging your arteries,” the latest research is quite clear—saturated fat does not (and never did) cause heart disease. Two major meta-analyses involving hundreds of thousands of patients and published in two distinguished peer-reviewed journals came to the same conclusion: Saturated fat? “Not guilty.”
2. Fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, the opposite is true. Weight gain is driven by hormones, particularly insulin, the “fat storing” hormone. The macronutrient that drives insulin up the highest is carbohydrates. Dietary fat has no impact on insulin, making it your best ally in the fight against weight gain.
3. The old notion that animal fats are bad and plant fats are good is out of date. The only bad fats are toxic, and toxicity has nothing to do with whether the fat came from an animal or a plant.
4. Fat is the best source of energy on the planet. Your body can store about 1,800 calories of carbohydrate (as something called glycogen), but it stores about 87 gazillion calories as fat. Why do you think endurance athletes train to be more effective at burning fat rather than sugar? Your body makes 36 molecules of ATP, the currency of cellular energy, from one molecule of glucose (sugar), but it makes between 48-144 molecules of ATP from one molecule of fat.
5. Fat is necessary to absorb many vitamins and other good things in food. Vitamins E, A, K, and D all require fat for absorption as do many important nutrients like the carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

The bottom line: Fat is your best friend for both weight loss and for overall health. The trick is to consume the right ones. Choose fats that are either “smart” (those that have been shown to have specific health benefits in human studies) or  “neutral” (fats that won’t necessarily help you, but won’t harm you a bit), while avoiding “toxic” fats at all costs.


  1. Diane
    May 18, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Please continue to provide these great health topics. Really enjoy them.

  2. Anonymous
    May 31, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    How can one end an article on “avoid toxic fats at all costs”, and not define “toxic fats”?

    • Anonymous
      June 2, 2016 / 9:13 pm

      I totally agree! What are toxic fats??

      • Maiia
        April 18, 2017 / 3:09 am

        Found this really great article on it here: https://www.jonnybowden.com/smart-fat-the-book/

        “In any sentient being—humans, animals—toxins are stored in adipose tissue (i.e., the fat cells). Fat cells are storage central for any toxin that gets into the body and doesn’t get excreted. When you raise cows on a factory farms—also known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations)—here’s what happens. The cows are fed massive amounts of antibiotics to fatten them up and to keep them from getting sick due to their poor diet and crowded conditions. They’re fed steroids and hormones (like bovine growth hormone). They eat grain—an unnatural diet for ruminants—and it’s grain that’s been sprayed with every kind of pesticide and chemical you can imagine.

        And guess what? All of that stuff winds up in the fat of the animals. And on your plate. And in your body.

        The fat of those animals is a toxic waste dump. And it has absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s saturated or not—(about half the fat in beef is actually monounsaturated)—and it has nothing to do with whether or not it came from an animal.

        I live in Southern California and we’ve had a couple of E. coli scares, traceable to contaminated spinach. But no one in their right mind thinks spinach is a “dangerous” food—everyone understands that a particular crop was contaminated by outside sources. The contaminated spinach was recalled, end of story, everyone can eat spinach and no one thinks it’s bad for you.

        Yet the situation with toxic fat is exactly like the situation with spinach. Animal products aren’t bad for you because they’re animal products, any more than spinach is bad for you because it’s a vegetable. Animal products, just like vegetables, are only bad for you when the animals are contaminated. Which is exactly what they are when they’re raised on feedlot, factory farms—and this goes for chickens and pigs as well as for beef.”

  3. Terry
    May 31, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    My dad always says eat fat stay thin. He will turn 90 in two weeks and has always be thin.

  4. Dean Duhon
    June 1, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    I really enjoy reading about good natural health issues I don’t have confidence in medical Drs Thnx

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