How Does Fat Affect Your HEC?
If there's one thing I've learned from being a clinician it's that individuality reigns supreme.
When it comes to fat, or any macronutrient for that matter, I'm looking to help my patients understand their unique reactions. Science can guide us, but research regresses everything to the mean. It's a tool of averages and not a tool of individual reactions.
Off-the-shelf diets and protocols can be of use too, but in the end each individual will respond differently. I'm interested in helping my patients learn what works for them and what doesn't.
When it comes to fat for health and weight loss it really comes down to understanding how it affects hunger, energy, and cravings or what I call HEC (pronounced "heck"). If including fat in a meal makes HEC stay in check for longer, then I want my patients to discover that. If eating fat results in HEC going out of check, that's also extremely useful to understand.
When I start this process I like for my patients to separate their macros as much as possible. This means they'll choose from a few categories:
- Lean protein
- Fatty foods
- Fiber/water foods
- Starchy/sugary foods
I instruct them to eat a base of protein and vegetables: an egg white veggie scramble, a piece of lean white fish and asparagus, chicken and broccoli etc.
I ask them to note how that meal impacts HEC. Then I have them add fat to the meal. To make this easy, I use the "1 tablespoon of fat is 10g of fat" rule.
Does adding 2 tablespoons of avocado to the egg white scramble stabilize HEC and result in less calorie intake later? Does adding a tablespoon of butter to the asparagus and broccoli help or hurt HEC?
This simple strategy immediately tells my patient how fat impacts them. (And this can be done for starch as well.)
Giving Power To The Patient
Let's face it, for some adding fat satisfies and stabilizes metabolic function, allowing them to feel full faster and for longer. This helps their food be more enjoyable and can result in them eating less overall. For others, adding fat can trigger cravings for other calorie-rich foods, may not satisfy them, and results in worse eating later and higher calorie loads for the day.
Depending on their reactions I can then advise on a lower fat or higher fat ratio on their macros. Perhaps fat as 20% of total intake or fat as 40% of total intake. Perhaps I even learn they could thrive with a keto approach.
This is a patient-first approach and saves me from my own bias and the uncertainties of research. It also gives the power to the patient to stop being a dieter and trend follower and start being a student of their own metabolism.