Are You Fat Enough?

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It’s time to change the way you think about fat. For the past 30 years well-meaning diet gurus have preached that eating fat makes you fat. I’m here to tell you that fat, in and of itself, is not what is making you fat.

Instead, it’s eating too much of the wrong types of fat. After all, all fats are not created equal. But, if you are like 90 percent of Americans, you are eating the wrong type of fat most of the time. It’s time for an oil change!

What is Fat?

Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. The average person is between 15 to 30 percent fat! (Men should be 10-20% fat and women should be 20-30% fat). Of all of the types of fats in our diets, the body only REALLY needs two – omega-3 and omega-6. Our bodies manufacture all the other fats we need.

What is an omega fat? The omega numbers (in this case 3 and 6) refer to where the hydrogen atom joins the fat molecule. Remember, the name is just basic chemistry lingo. What is important to understand is the impact of different types of fat on the body.

The higher quality the fat, the better your body will function. That’s because the body uses fat you eat to build cell walls. You have more than 100 trillion cells in your body, and every single one of them should be constructed of high-quality fat.

How do you know if your cells are getting the fats they need? Your body sends signals when it’s not getting enough good fats. It’s up to you to recognize the warning signs:

  • Dry, itchy, scaling or flaking skin
  • Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
  • Hard earwax
  • Tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso
  • Achy, stiff joints’
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Cancer

Why does the type of fat matter? Building your body from the inside out is just like building a house. You can frame the house with the cheapest stuff you can find or you can invest in quality materials that are going to be energy-efficient and last a long time.

Recognizing Which Fats to Eat and Which to Avoid

Most processed foods are made with poor-quality omega-6 fats from refined processed vegetable oils because they are abundant and cheap. Plus, fat makes food taste good and improves its texture. Take a look at the ingredients of your favorite packaged food.

If the list includes oils made from corn, soy, cottonseed or safflower you are getting a sub-par fat. When the body puts these cheap fats to work, the cell walls also become sub-par. That means instead of being flexible and responsive to inter-cellular communication, cell walls are stiff and rigid. The more rigid the walls, the slower the cell functions and the more vulnerable it is to inflammation.

To ensure your body has the fats it needs to construct high-quality cell walls, you need to eat more omega-3 fats. For starters, cell walls made from omega-3 fats are flexible allowing cells to respond more quickly to messages.

Secondly, these “good” fats help the body churn out prostaglandins, hormones that cool off inflammation. The best places to find omega-3 fats include small cold-water fish – such as wild salmon, sardines and herring, organic flax and hemp seed oils, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and sea vegetables.

Your body is designed to run on high-quality fats. Scientists suspect that early humans ate almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Hunter-gatherer humans got their omega-6 fats from seeds and nuts. And their omega 3’s came from eating wild game and fish and foraging for wild plants.

But, as people began to refine oils from plants, the ratio became skewed more toward omega-6. As a result of fats being out of balance in the modern diet, our bodies are more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

When the human diet contained a balanced number of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, heart disease was almost nonexistent. Cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death in the world.

Body Boon

The more omega-3 fats you eat, the easier your body cools itself. A cool body is a less inflamed body. And inflammation is at the root of nearly every chronic disease, especially those impacting the brain and the heart.

Of all the body parts dependent on high-quality fat, the brain is uniquely vulnerable. That’s because it is made up of 60 percent fat, the biggest portion of which is an omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and even violence.

After the brain, it’s the heart that will thank you for eating more omega-3s. The heart is a direct beneficiary of omega-3 fats. They tamp down cholesterol by reducing levels of bad fats (triglycerides). Meanwhile, they raise levels of good fats (HDL) in the blood. Part of their magic is that omega-3 fats make blood more slippery, which reduces the likelihood of artery disease.

Beyond the heart and brain, eating the right fat also helps you shed fat. Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which better regulate blood sugar . Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. Ironically, it’s not eating fat that makes you gain weight it’s eating the WRONG types of fat.

How to Know Your Stats on Fats

The great thing about modern medicine is having tests, which can alert us to any imbalances in the body.  One test in particular I recommend  is not only really useful, but is also super simple!  I work with a lab called Omega Quant, which has excellent testing protocols using evidence-based scientific research on fatty acids.  I love this test because you only need a quick blood spot to get detailed results and you do it all from the privacy of your own home! The main result generated in the report will be your Omega-3 index.

In a show I did with Dr. Oz on omega-3 fats, we tested his audience – over 80% of the audience were deficient in omega-3 fats and had many of the symptoms and diseases associated with this deficiency.

I did my own test – and thankfully my omega-3 index is fantastic – that’s because I have had insider information for years on what to eat and what supplements to take.  See my report here.

There are other fatty acid percentages and ratios given in the report, which set this company apart from others on the market.  However, I mostly care about three results which are important to monitor for maintaining health and preventing chronic disease.  Generally, it is essential to know:

  1. Your omega-3 fatty acid index
  2. Your ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Your level of trans fatty acids

My nutrition coaching team will send your results to you with personalized feedback as well as instructions to improve your ratios.  I have personally trained them to look for functional levels in order to provide you with the absolute best care to optimize your health.

Since our modern diet is so empty of omega-3 fats and the traditional sources such as wild fish are increasingly contaminated with toxins, especially mercury, I recommend using omega-3 fat supplements.  But I only recommend the highest quality, best absorbed purified and tested forms to get all the benefits without the risks.

When you do the Omega Quant Test my nutritionists will provide you with personalized nutrition advice to optimize your blood levels of these important fats.  Learning more about what is going on right in your very own body could not be any simpler!  And, it is actually really fascinating to watch and see how your diet and lifestyle directly impact your results.

For more information on this test or to get started right now, please click here.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

42 Responses to Are You Fat Enough?

  1. Alfredo W. Boysen January 6, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    Dear Dr.Hyman, This wonderful article mentions some fish but no other animal fats, whether in meat or milk.
    Neither olive and Canola oils, as well as Chia. May I have your advice ? Thanks – Alfredo

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Hi Alfredo,

      This article is meant to highlight the importance of essential fatty acids, namely omega 3 fats. Dr Hyman also suggests healthy intake of coconut oil or butter, extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado, nuts and seeds among other healthy fats.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  2. Heidi January 6, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    This test is available for free at http://www.myhdl.com – they only bill insurance. Just need a doctor’s order.

    • Laura January 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      I fell for this, when I heard they would only bill my insurance. They collected about $3,000 from my insurance company. The results were SO SKEWED, I was shocked to learn how “unhealthy” it said I was!
      Being a little more advanced in healthcare than the average lay person, I refused to believe this info, so I paid to re-test at Lab Corp (a reputable lab) only to find out I had optimal levels of every value, and none of these other results were valid.
      I think this place amounts to “insurance fraud”. I notified my insurance company about Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. and apparently, I was not the only one to do so. They are currently under investigation.

    • miller December 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

      no, you just need insurance.

  3. bee January 6, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    What percentage of fat (and carbs and pro) ought the diet be composed of?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      Hi Bee,

      Dr Hyman suggests you compose your plate like this: 50% veggies 25% lean protein 25% smart carb (sweet potato or whole non gluten grain)

      But that is for the general person. Depending on your health goals, your needs might be different!
      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

      • JP December 27, 2013 at 4:10 am #

        Dr, Hyman Staff,
        You name 50/25/25…50 veggies and 25 smart carbs (both are carbs)and left out good fat percent. Are you saying someone should eat 50% carbs, 25 protein and 25 fats? Just looking for clarification.

        • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
          Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff August 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

          Thank you for your question. The percentages refer to the proportion on your plate – half your plate vegetables, one-quarter lean protein, and one-quarter fiber-rich carbohydrate foods.
          Dr. Hyman Staff

  4. Regina Dyer January 6, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    I seem to get warmer than anyone else in my yoga class when we do yoga. I always want the heat turned down or in the warmer weather an open window. I’m 69 and lost past menopause. What’s up?

    • Judy S. February 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      I have the same problem. I am almost 72 and am always the first to remove my jacket or sweater in exercise class and always need a towel during the summer. We have good air-conditioning in the room we use at the Community Center but they keep it too warm in the winter. I just get hot easily. I had a hysterectomy at age 46 and instantly went into menopause. At home when I am comfy my husband is cold. When I am hot he is ok. What is my problem?

      • Avatar of HymanStaff
        HymanStaff February 27, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

        Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

        Wishing You the Best of Health!
        Dr. Hyman Staff

  5. Richard Brook January 6, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Omega fats contain fatty acid chains containing carbon to carbon double bonds. An omega-3 fat has a carbon to carbon double bond located three carbon atoms in counting from the methyl end of the fatty acid chain. An omega-6 fatty acid has the double bond located at the sixth carbon atom along the chain again counting from the methyl end.

    I keep reading cautionary reports about the dangers of consuming too much omega-3 fat in ones diet. I only take three one gram capsules of fish oil a day and I eat sardines and cold water fish frequently. Is there a problem with too much blood thinning and hemorrhage potential if I were to go much further with my level of consumption? . It was the emergence of modern grain farming that provided so many of our cheap omega-6 fatty acids and this has occurred in the last century. Genetically, we are probably ill equipped to deal with this massive infusion of omega-6 fatty acids in our diets as you point out. Thanks for the dietary guidance.

  6. .Julie Tully January 6, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I have just started receiving your news letter and love it. My husband and i were first introduced to you through The Danielle Plan as we attend Saddleback Church and saw you at sereral rallys. Thank you for your clear and simple message about health and nutrition. I look forward to learning more and applying the advice you give. Happiness and Health to you and your family in this coming year. Julie Tully , MIssion Viejo

  7. Elizabeth Renfro January 6, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    What do you think of organic coconut oil?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Hi elizabeth,

      Dr Hyman likes coconut oil and butter. Look for unrefined.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  8. M. J. Quinton January 6, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Current reports suggest that cooking with EVOO and other oils high in Omega 3s changes the chemistry of the oils to make them unhealthy. What oils should we be using in our broilers, 400-degree ovens and our saute pans?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Hi M.J.,

      Use grape seed oil or coconut oil for higher heat cooking. But keeping ALL oils low heat is best in general.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  9. J. Hammond January 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    I hear a lot about Coconut Oil and how valuable nutritionally it is. And yet for years it was something one definitely avoided eating. What is your opinion about this oil?
    I have to say, it sure tastes good to cook with and very easy to fry things in it.

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Hi J.,
      Dr Hyman likes coconut oil and butter- look for unrefined versions.
      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  10. Donna Scher January 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    I have been reading about one caveat re Omega 3 / fish oil supplements (besides them having to be high quality / uncontaminated, and refrigerated – personally a put a capsule of astaxanthin in my fish oil to prevent rancidity). Read Perfect Health Diet by Jaminet & Jaminet, Dec 2012. In it, they mention that Omega 3s are a PUFA (polyunsaturated fat) and that too much (some health care professionals potentially recommend high doses – also Dr. Barry Sear of the Zone Diet as well) PUFAs, even Omega 3s, can be problematic. (Jaminet & Jaminet outline considerable research on the downside of PUFAs and the upside of MUFAs (monounsaturates), MCTs (Medium Chain) and even Saturated fats (SaFAs). Dr. Mercola and others seem to be of the opinion that a high quality Krill Oil supplement is good – small doses, greater absorbability. I have also read that their are only very limitedfish that are safe (uncontaminated) to eat, such as wild Alaska sockeye salmon, and teeny fish like sardines and herring.

  11. Avatar of zes1
    zes1 January 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    I’ve been on and off the Blood Sugar Solution Diet for about 8 or 9 months. I have realized that one block for me is I really don’t like flax seeds or flax seed oils. I am more likely to drink the protein shakes on the diet without the flax seed oil or ground seeds. Is it okay to get my omega fats from flax seed oil supplements? I’m not going to be very successful in this diet if I don’t like the food.

    • Donna January 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      HI,

      You mentioned that you don’t like flax seeds or flax seed oil. May I suggest some of the ways I have found to use flax seed oil. I promise, you will have no idea it’s in there! 1st, you need to know that the flax seeds in themselves are not as readily absorbed as the oil. If you are an EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) user, and enjoy being a creative cook – or could try to, I would suggest a couple of things. I NEVER buy salad dressings – it only (literally) takes a few minutes to make your own – (using it hot, or making in advance – just like the distributors – and using it whenever.) I ONLY use EVOO, I get a variety of Vinegars: (Peach/Raspberry/Balsalmic/Red Wine, etc…) For a warm dressing over salad (and I normally use spinach, and if desired I may add different greens, but always spinach. I use a small saucepan, pour in some EVOO (I don’t measure – depends whether you want some left over, if one or more salads, etc… so use your own taste as you go :) To the EVOO add some vinegar (start out with equal amounts and go from there). I like to add very small carrots (minced) and minced onion (again your choice), and you could add celery, the broccoli stem-sides diced also (I never waste!) or other veggies, and mushrooms (especially if eating immediately. But even without any of the veggies, The vinegar(s), the EVOO, and FLAX SEED OIL – perhaps a TBSP or 2 – GREAT! I love either fresh or my own home-grown and dried herbs – crumbled or finely chopped and simmered in this – example: Tarragon, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary; smell & taste-test them… ENJOY.
      Secondly, you can add a small amount of Flax Seed Oil to any eggs (and I can make eggs unlimited ways!) :) just add it to the EVOO and you’ll get the benefits of the Flax Seed Oil without knowing it’s in there.
      I sincerely hope this helps!
      Donna

  12. Virginia Stuart January 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    sounds good. but is there any way to access your products/tests from Australia?

  13. john ellis January 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    surely you mean cell memebranes not cell walls, animal cells do not have cell walls

  14. Tom January 12, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Great info Dr Hyman. I didn’t see anything regarding nut based Omega oils in your report from the Quant test. Can’t you improve your Omega counts by eating the right nuts or nut based Omega supplements?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      Hi Tom,

      Nuts (walnuts) and seeds (chia, hemp and flax) do contain some omega 3 fatty acids but nearly as effective as fish oil in raising blood levels.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  15. J Hagen January 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    A friend who was advised to take Omega 3 supplements by some kind of health professional (don’t remember what kind) and who then started having some adverse effects later was told she had those effects because she didn’t take Vit. K along w/ the Omega 3s. Is that generally true?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff March 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      Hi J,

      What happened with your friend depends on her previous health status. In general, all nutrients work synergistically in the body to promote balance and health. Depending on each individual’s terrain, s/he might need more or less of certain nutrients in order for the body to function. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

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  17. Kari February 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    What about Krill oil.

    Flax seed meal and oil makes me vomit (literally).

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff February 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Sure kari- krill oil, hemp, chia, fish, fish oil… all good!

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  18. Anna Woodford March 13, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    Fat is often seen as a traitor in human body. People do not know how to distinguish between the good fats and the bad ones. Instead of looking out to become more slimmer, it is better to adopt good health instead.

  19. Amari Grady March 19, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    Nice topic this one..well interested..and the well points are given here..well article too..so nice to see this here..thanks for sharing here with us..

  20. Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
    Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff April 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Hi Jane,

    You can take both. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  21. Jeff Swanson May 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    If this article were true; fruitarians would have all the symptoms chronically. New research indicates when the human body isn’t inundated with a high fat diet; it actually produces adequate DHA, which explains how Sub Saharan dwellers developed huge brains without a high fat diet.

  22. Melanie Cossey May 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    I would like to recommend a tremendous oil. It’s a balanced blend called Udo’s Oil and it is made by a Canadian liodologist, Udo Erasmus. The oil is available world wide. I’ve been using it for several decades. It is comprised of nut and seed oils and is delicious. It contains omega 3, 6 and 9 . To check it out go to udoerasmus.com Dr. Hyman should have his attention drawn to this man and his oil. Its amazing!

  23. Marie Zidane September 1, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    Hello,

    I was looking forward on buying this product-take the test, but unfortunately I can see, that you do not offer international shipping.
    I live in Denmark, Scandinavia, and we do not have these sorts of test. Even though we have a good medicial system, you cannot receive or get a test that shows you the levels of omega 3 +etc in your body.

    Will you please consider shipping outside the U.S?
    Thank you.

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff September 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      Dear Marie,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Yes, we will consider it and appreciate your interest! To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      In good health,
      The Nutrition Team

  24. Tricia December 18, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Dealing with a lot of autoimmune issues and working On treating self naturally. I was wondering if you all follow blood type diet? I’m type O and I’m supposed to avoid coconut oil. So confused with what to do or not do. RA/ Lupus.. Help I’m gluten free, exercise daily and want to feel great.

  25. Thomas B. Curtis, MD December 20, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Nice article. Have two comments. The first is that mammalian cells, including human of course, do not have cell walls. Cell walls are found in plants. Our cells have membranes. My second comment, having to do more with things said in the comments section, is that fish oil is OUT as a healthful strategy. In July 2013, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published a study showing regular use of fish oil increases the risk of prostate cancer, particularly the risk of the aggressive kind of prostate cancer in which the increase was 71%. Eating fish still is good, but not packets of fish oil. The way to think about this is Darwinian. We have evolved to be healthy eating fish. When we take a part of the fish (oil) in excessive quantity and not accompanied by other nutritive components of the fish, we then have made a medicine for which evolution has no say as to whether it is good or bad. It’s hit or miss then. We thought fish oil would be a hit, but it’s a miss. Also since there is some sort of genetic relationship between prostate cancer and breast cancer (Men have a higher risk of prostate cancer if their mothers had breast cancer.), it’s prudent for women also to avoid packets of fish oil. Still eat fish. Fish is good.

  26. Mali Piottin December 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    I wished that Dr.Hyman wrote a bit about one’s ability to digest all these wonderful fats.
    It takes healthy fats to make healthy bile, and healthy bile to digest fats.
    In my nutritional therapy practice I see clients with impaired liver functions who truly cannot digest fats but are under the impression that the fish oil capsules they bought at Costco or Trader Joe’s (CAN YOU SAY “RANCID”?) are doing them a world of good.
    I deeply respect Dr. Hyman, but he contributes to the rampant American way of thinking: it’s all black and white, nothing in-between.
    Yes, Omega-3 are fabulous but only to the extent of one’s ability to process them, otherwise they are more stressful to the body and should well be left alone unless paired with a good gall-bladder/liver support supplement.

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