By Madeline Stewart Feb. 16th, 2019
Since I wrote a previous post about the main ingredient not to eat in your everyday life: sugar, I thought I would follow it up with an equally important, and perhaps more welcome post about what TO eat in your diet: fat. High quality fat in good amounts.
Fat has gotten a bad rap in the past, mostly due to incorrect correlations, misinterpretation of research and a little bit of scapegoating. I’ll spare you the long winded details and long list of study analysis I have acquired throughout the years, and just tell you this: The information that fat will make you fat, and that all saturated fat is dangerous, and that low fat products and fat free diets will make you healthy and slim is misguided and inaccurate. High quality fat in adequate amounts is essential for the optimal function of your human body! If you are interested in all the research here is a really great literature review that summarizes most of it!
On to the important stuff! Why your body needs fat!
Energy: Fat is a source of energy in the body- and more importantly a source for sustained long term energy. In contrast to sugar which is a quick burning fuel fat offers sustained energy. Think about it like a campfire: sugar is the kindling and fat is the long burning logs. We all need kindling to start a fire, but it is not what we want to rely on for all day energy. If you feel like you are constantly reaching for a snack, feel irritable or shaky if you miss a meal, have a hard time concentrating, feel fuzzy brained, never feel full, crave sugar and carbs...then you are most likely relying very heavily on sugar for your fuel instead of fat. High quality fats in contrast provides you with long sustained periods of energy, increased focus, a clear head and an increase in satiety and satisfaction.
Mood Stabilization and Elevation: Eating fat in your diet helps prevent energy crashes throughout the day and wards off hangry feelings. It has also been proven to elevate mood and reduce symptoms of depression. One study done on mice, found just after 48 hours of eating a higher-fat diet the mice showed fewer signs of depression and that the antidepressant effect lasted for 8 weeks!  Additionally a study found that eating a diet rich in fatty fish could lesson symptoms of depression.  Fat is so important for mental health, and is totally delicious and makes all your food taste better, so it is really a win win!
Strengthens Your Brain: Your brain is the fattiest organ in your body! It is about 60% fat, and needs lots and lots of good quality fat to function optimally.
Happy Healthy Cells: fat is essential in the make-up of all your cell membranes. So good fats in your diet equals happy cell membranes which equals a happier more optimally functioning body and a happier you.
Hormonal Health: Fat is the building block for your sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. You need it in your diet in order to regulate and produce sex hormones within your body.
Nutrient Absorption: Fat is essential in nutrient absorption. Certain nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K need to be consumed with fat in order to be absorbed!  Fat also slows down the digestion of the other nutrients it is eaten with providing more time for nutrient absorption and slowing down the uptake a things like sugar and caffeine. If you feel energized and awake after drinking coffee but then a few hours later you crash...add fat (not sugar) to your coffee and it will be slowly dripped into your system leaving you feeling awake and alert for longer.
Heart Health: For a long time we were told that fat was bad for our hearts, and that a low-fat, high-carb diet was preferable. However recent studies have proven this to be inaccurate! Research has show that a diet high in fatty acids actual prevents and helps treat cardiovascular disease. 
For you, as a musician and a performer, it is essential for your health and success to include fats in your diet. Fats will help you focus during rehearsal and performance, as well as help calm your nervous system and soothe anxiety. It is extremely important that on the days leading up to when you have big auditions, or performances you eat a more high fat low carbohydrate diet!
Not all fats are created equal. The fats that cause all the amazing health benefits listed above are healthy natural fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, lard, ghee, avocados, macadamia nuts, olive oil, etc. I have created some lists below for you reference.
Fats to avoid like the plague:
All industrial seed and
vegetable oil derivatives
Margarine and shortening
Rice bran oil
Fats to include in your diet
Any rendered animal fat (lard, tallow, duck, and bacon fat)
Avocado oil (cold-pressed is best)
Butter or ghee
Firm cheeses like cheddar, emmental and gouda
Hard cheeses like parmesan and pecorino
Mayonnaise, free from preservatives, sugars and seed oils
Nut oils like groundnut oil (as long as they’re not heated during extraction or cooking)
Olive oil (extra virgin)
Last tip- Cook with fats that are solid at room temperatures such as butter, coconut oil, and lard and top with fats that are liquid at room temperature such as olive oil and macadamia nut oil.
Del Rio, D., Morales, L., Ruiz-Gayo, M., & Del Olmo, N. (2016, May 19). Effect of high-fat diets on mood and learning performance in adolescent mice. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432816302571
Hibbeln, J. (2005, April 08). Fish consumption and major depression. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673605791686
Dawson-Hughes, B., Harris, S. S., Lichtenstein, A. H., Dolnikowski, G., Palermo, N. J., & Rasmussen, H. (2015, February). Dietary fat increases vitamin D-3 absorption. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25441954
Peter, S., Chopra, S., & Jacob, J. J. (2013). A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist away! - A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 17(3), 422-9.