With the popularity of the keto diet in recent years, there is no doubt that consuming dietary fat can target and melt fat deposits in our body. The trick is knowing which fats to choose while avoiding those that can sabotage healthy weight loss.
In fact, supermarket shelves are loaded with ultra-processed fats that our bodies don’t easily recognize and which can inflame our systems and harm our health. We all remember how a few years ago the FDA banned trans fats in their most common form: partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Nutrition expert Max Lugavere, New York Times bestselling author of Genius foodsexplains, “We can still find man-made trans fats in our food in the form of processed grains and seed oils, which are bad for the brain and cardiovascular system.”
Often called the “Hateful 8,” these processed fats go by names like canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, and rice bran oils, and are found in everything from bread to dressings for salads and coffee creamer. When he talks about how industrial food production has radically changed those foods and our health, Lugavere puts it bluntly: “Damaged fat is hurting you!”
On the other hand, it’s easy to find delicious, healthy fats to use in your favorite dishes. And studies have identified three that may be especially helpful for weight loss. Even better: These fats are thought to work well for older women by nourishing the body and reversing age-related, metabolism-sapping damage to our cells. Women who indulge in these types of good fats may even be able to lose more body fat than those who follow a low-fat diet.
UC San Francisco professor Ronald Kraus, MD, says, “I’ve been working my whole career to get people to get away from the idea that all fats are bad, when in fact there are some that are really good and work everything about us that we want health wise.
Read on for three fat superstars to help you start losing weight in 2023.
1. Dairy products
Consuming satiety-enhancing full-fat dairy products may promote moderate weight loss; contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown in animals to burn fat and reduce its formation, leading to significant weight loss. (In humans, however, there’s still not much scientific evidence of CLA’s effects on weight loss.) However, nutrition expert Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., believes CLA may start to be seen as a “liposuction nutrient.” . “Just adding this critical fatty acid to your routine helps unlock trapped fat from cells so it can be burned and protects lean muscle,” she says. Indeed, dairy products are also particularly useful for providing nutrients and maintaining muscle health in aging bodies.
2. Avocado oil
Eating avocado oils can help reprogram a woman’s body to carry less belly fat, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois. Belly fat comes in two types: fat that accumulates directly under the skin (subcutaneous fat) and fat that accumulates deep in the abdominal cavity (visceral fat). Visceral fat is more dangerous, according to research, and people with it have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, some cancers, high blood pressure and stroke. The results of the Illinois study revealed that female participants who ate avocados daily saw a reduction in visceral fat and an improvement in the ratio of visceral to subcutaneous abdominal fat. Avocados can also have a satiating effect (meaning you stay fuller for longer).
3. Coconut oil
Drizzling coconut oil in coffee or on roasted vegetables can improve the function of our main metabolic gland, the thyroid, suggests a study conducted on rats and published in the journal Current Science International. It’s the oil’s beneficial fatty acids and healing plant compounds that protect against damage that can cause the gland’s fat-burning power to weaken over time. Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which can be extracted from coconut oil, may also be helpful. A Columbia University study found that participants who consumed MCT oil lost more weight than those who consumed olive oil. Bottom line: “The fatty acids in coconut and MCT oil boost metabolism and fat burning,” says Dr. Amy Myers. “So for weight loss, it’s not just good fat—it’s great fat!”
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for women.