Want to gain weight but stay lean?
Until recently, the advice was to stick to lean cuts, plenty of carbs and low fat spreads. But a tectonic shift in food thinking is causing earthquakes in the food and drink industry.
And it’s good news for carnivores – red meat and butter are on the menu again. Why? Because sat fat is back.
Were you told margarine was good for you, but butter bad? Think again. A University of Cambridge led analysis of 72 studies involving more than 600,000 patients has found no link between consumption of saturated fats and heart disease. That’s right, no link.
But surely fat makes you fat – doesn’t it? All fats, like all food can make you fat if you consume more than you burn off by working out. But the research now shows that saturated fat may even help to protect against heart disease. That’s because the sorts of foods that contain saturated fats, like dairy and red meat, also contain a host of other nutrients including Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus. All are good for your heart.
By contrast, trans-fats like the ones that used to be in margarine are now known to clog your arteries, causing heart attacks and strokes. Manufacturers have changed recipes and most modern low fat spreads no longer contain the most unhealthy form of fat. But the simple fact is that butter is healthy, nutritious and natural.
Too much of anything is bad, but if you’re looking for healthy weight gain, red meat is a good bet. “But surely”, you might say, “red meat is bad for my cholesterol?” Well, no. For decades, we were told that too much fatty red meat would raise bad cholesterol in the blood, increasing the chances of cardiovascular disease. And it is true that there is a correlation between consumption of sat fat and heart problems. But – correlation is not causation. Just because these elements look like they’re linked, doesn’t mean they are.
As illustrated by an article in the Guardian newspaper, it now seems it’s the type of meat you consume that’s the issue. Stick to fresh, high quality, grass fed meat and, chances are you’ll be fine. Chomp your way through too much concentrated, salt laden, poor quality processed meat products and you’re asking for trouble.
That’s good news for farmers and traditional butchers, and good news for anyone who loves a good steak.
If it’s not sat fat rich red meat and dairy that’s causing unhealthy obesity and the health problems that go with it, what is? Too much refined carbohydrate. Think about it. Many food manufacturing processes mean the natural flavours contained in homemade equivalents are lost. They’re added back in by introducing large amounts of refined sugar into the mix as well as a lot of salt and other flavourings
Add the use of highly refined white flour in factory baking and you might end up with a product that’s marketed as ‘low fat’, but which contains an overload of calories from ingredients stripped of their natural nutrients. Empty calories that don’t leave you feeling full for long.
What to eat
Body builders are after bulging guns not bulging tums, so if you want to eat right, here’s what to do: Cook from fresh ingredients; go for healthy whole grains; eat plenty of fruit and veg; enjoy good quality meat and unsalted butter in sensible portions; steer clear of processed food. Oh, and work out like a demon.