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Thread: help me out w/a friendly argument: does olive oil or any "fats" make you fat?

  1. #1

    help me out w/a friendly argument: does olive oil or any "fats" make you fat?

    dbf & i were talking and i mentioned something about the mediterranean diet (which i am very fond of by the way) and how a lot of people see in the news that it is healthy and they equate that way of eating to mean consuming a lot of olive oil. and then they gain weight because they do not change other aspects of their diet, and by consuming olive oil alone does not make one necessarily healthier- is is the combination of foods that the mediterranean diet encompasses that makes it healthy. the legumes, the whole grains, the vegetables...

    he then said "so you are telling me eating olive oil makes you fat?". and i am like well it IS a fat, and if you consume a lot of it, especially in conjunction with a typical american diet yes it can add weight (fat).

    he said that is not true. that it is carbs that make someone fat (edited to say i hope the word "fat" is not offending anyone, i guess i could write overweight, but we are talking about adding fat to the body, so i hope it is okay to phrase it this way) and not fat in itself. he said that is why people on the atkins can eat tons of meat & cheese and fats, and lose weight.

    yes the reduction of carbs can make you lose weight. this is obvious. but a fat is a fat is a fat. he said that "fat" cannnot make someone fat, and that it just passes right through you. i do not believe this.

    i hope this doesnt turn into a pro/con atkins debate, but i need your help. who is right? i feel i am, but maybe i am ignorant on this matter. i want to continue this friendly debate with him, but i need something to back myself up. i was at a loss for words because i didnt know he felt that way- that if you eat fat it just passes right through you. so i didnt have a good response.

    what do you think?

  2. #2
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    As far as I know the only thing that makes you gain weight is eating more calories than you burn. It doesn't matter if the excess comes from fat, protein or carbs. From what I remember reading in Atkins is that if you limit the carbs your body will burn its own supply of fat for energy instead of the carbs you are eating. But trust me, if you eat to much olive oil...you will gain weight!

    Hopefully some of the more knowledgable members will pop in and set us both straight!

    Tyra
    Democrats are Sexy. Who has ever heard of a good piece of elephant?

  3. #3
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    Getting "fat"

    Entering argument - I'm not a dietician and there are many who tread the boards that may chime in.

    My understanding is exactly like Tyra said - the only way to put on weight is to consume more calories than you burn over time. In general it doesn't matter what the calories come from but there are "better" or more healthy calories that put on weight. One of the reasons that fat seems to put on more weight than carbs or proteins is fat is about twice as dense calorie-wise than carbs/proteins (9 cal/gm of Fat, 4 cal/g protein or carbs). (unscientific part here) Likewise, people tend to crave fats and will most likely eat the same quantity (weight of food) whether it is fats or carbs/proteins.

    So the short answer is fats, in and of themselves don't make you fat. But (big caveat) too many fats can cause other physiological problems (just like excessive proteins too).

    Lastly - I take in LOTS of carbs in my diet and don't have a lot of problem keeping weight off (actually have problems keeping it on but that's another story).

    Sorry for the long-winded response but I thought I'd chime in.
    Les

  4. #4
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    It's my understanding that olive oil has just as much fat as any other oil (like vegetable oil.) It has a comperable number of calories, etc. The difference is that olive oil is a more healthful kind of fat (similar to how the fat in avacados is more healthful than dairy fats.) I don't know the nutritional terms, but it has to do with saturated, unsaturated, mono-unsaturated, and all that stuff. The bottom line is that "healthful" fats are better for your heart but still caloric so overuse will contribute to weight gain.
    Blogging about Barb horses at The Barb Wire and about the simple pleasures of less urban living at Nightlife. Saddle up and come along for the ride!

  5. #5
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    I see it the same way as tyra and les. a calorie is pretty much a calorie as far as weight gain is concerned. if you consume more calories than you expend, you gain weight.

    (but of course a calorie isn't a calorie as far as eating for good nutrition. you can't just decide to consume all of your calories from fat or sugar. you need to eat a variety of foods and nutrients.)

    I agree with everything tamawrite said, too.

  6. #6
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    Actually, different types of calories (fat/carb/protein) take different amounts of energy (and different chemical reactions) to break down in the body, so a calorie is NOT a calorie. Protein, for instance, takes the most energy to break down to burnable/storable form, so calorie for calorie, you'd need to eat more surplus protein in order for that energy to be stored as fat. (Although this is not the miracle Atkins would have us believe, as the process of protein breakdown may damage kidneys and contribute to bone loss.)

    There is some evidence that CERTAIN fats, and very purified carbs (sugars and "white" carbs) are so unhampered by other things that they basically take the "direct route", either to energy burn or the saddlebags. There are also some types of fats (the "essential fatty acids") which are not stored in the body. Oh, yes, their calories are broken down if necessary -- but they are chemically necessary to bodily functions and the processing of other nutrients, so will probably be used there first (since most people don't eat that much of them). These EFAs are present in, among other things, the "good" nut and plant oils.

  7. #7
    i am learning so much!

  8. #8
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    I read (I think in Willet's book?) that, as far as weight gain goes, for the most part, a calorie is a calorie.

    He said that, yes, certain types of calories are burned differently than others (in the laboratory), but for the most part there isn't a measurable or noticeable difference when you are talking about an average person's diet.

    I could be wrong.

  9. #9
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    My trainer and I were just talking about this yesterday. In his opinion, there are 'better' fats going INTO the body, but once the fats hang out there, no additional fat is GOOD fat. Does that make sense? He is not spouting zero tolerance to any fat, just the attitude that some fat is better gives people license to consume more of it. Now, if I could only afford to keep him around twice/week forever....... Sue

  10. #10
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    The "4-4-9" method used to count the calories in carbs, protein, and fat respectively, is actually only an estimate. It's close enough to work on labels and for most foods, but believe it or not, the calories provided by each macronutrient vary among foods. For example, the carbs in unsweetened cocoa powder provide only about 2 calories per gram. The fat in various oils may actually provide slightly different calorie values. These are known as "Atwater" values.

    It takes 3,500 calories less than the body normally uses to lose one pound of body weight (and vice versa for gaining weight). Certain exercises, like weight-lifting, may turn some of the body fat into muscle, just as a lack of exercise may cause excess calories to turn into body fat.

    Another thing to consider is appetite and hunger levels. Some people will feel less hungry if they have other high-volume foods, and some may feel less hungry when they consume foods high in fat, fiber, or protein. It's different for everyone, so it's important to consider what foods make you full or if you need a large volume of food to feel full. Then you can determine a diet plan that works to keep your hunger level and appetite where you want it.

  11. #11
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    This stuff is fun, isn't it??

    Without getting overly detailed...and of course, this is just what I am currently aware of. If they find something new in the labs between then and now, I file a disclaimer

    A calorie is a calorie is a calorie to the body. It is true that you can eat more carbs than fats because gram for gram carbs are 4 calories versus 9 for fat, etc. but...most people would get full faster with fat than plain carb and so would consume fewer calories of the fat on their own.

    The short answer is that a calorie is a calorie; the long answer is that because each of us is different, one person consuming 4,000 in one day can lose weight, another can gain weight while another maintains...regardless of what those calories are from.
    Things like medications, hormones--thyroid, estrogen, etc., muscle mass, chronic illnesses (diabetes, etc.), activity level, pregnancy, etc. all play a role in how our body will use up the calories we consume.
    And as has been well pointed out, certain foods offer nutritional value, antioxidants, etc. while others offer little more than calories alone.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by wallycat


    A calorie is a calorie is a calorie to the body. It is true that you can eat more carbs than fats because gram for gram carbs are 4 calories versus 9 for fat, etc. but...most people would get full faster with fat than plain carb and so would consume fewer calories of the fat on their own.

    well, phew. I am glad the info I posted wasn't false. I feel better now that a nutritionist hasn't contradicted me.

  13. #13
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    Tell your DH this: The fat in olive oil is going to make you gain weight just as easy as the fat in Crisco or ice cream, etc. It's just that the type of fat in the olive oil is much better for your heart. Eating olive oil IN PLACE of the other types fat will do wonders to balance your HDL/LDL ratios of cholesterol (lowering the bad kind and raising the good kind), but it will still make you fat because the calories/fat will be recognized by the body simply for what it is. It is your heart that will appreciate it and that is what the Meditterian Diet is all about--not strictly weight loss. I think Willet reviewed the Meditteranian Diet in his book and the review was not really about losing weight, but was more about overall health which included weight, certain diseases, and cardiovascular health.
    Christine

  14. #14
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    But doesn't your weight play a big role in heart health? Again, I think it was Walter Willett that said that weight loss plays at least as big a role in heart health as the kind of fat you eat. I don't know that subbing olive oil for Crisco or butter will do your heart a huge amount of good if you remain 50 lbs overweight. I don't think eating any one food will do a whole lot for your health; it's your overall diet that's the most important (along with weight, exercise, etc).

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