Nurture Yourself

3 Surprising Insights From “The Secret Life of Fat”


Trust on this one: Fat can be incredibly fascinating—which is why we were super excited to dig into The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You, by Sylvia Tara, Phd, for last month’s Nutritious Life Studio Book Club.

The Book Club, moderated by Keri, is one of the many community benefits of becoming Nutritious Life Certified.

During the discussion, we talked about how overall, we unfortunately felt that the author didn’t use her research to improve her overall relationship with her body and fat or create a better balance in her life in regards to weight loss and body size. It seemed pretty clear that she couldn’t break through distorted thinking about her diet and body to come to terms with the scientific benefits of fat.

RELATED:  4 Fascinating Insights About Gut Health From The Mind-Gut Connection

Still, she brought up lots of super interesting, helpful information about fat, so we decided to share a few of the most interesting insights that came up during the discussion. Consider this your RD-filtered CliffsNotes to The Secret Life of Fat.

The Secret Life of Fat


3 Surprising Insights From The Secret Life of Fat

1. Fat functions as an organ

Most people in our discussion were surprised to learn that fat functions as an organ and communicates with the rest of the body. People often think about fat as a nutrient; as in, “avocado has healthy fat,” but rarely think about it as a functioning organ with all different roles.

While this is certainly a topic that’s more interesting to us as nutrition and health professionals (we’re always seeking to gain a deeper understanding of how the body functions!), a basic explanation of this information may be helpful for anyone who desires to manage their weight, and may help them better understand their body fat.

RELATED: 8 Important Factors That Affect Weight Loss

2. “Skinny fat” is real

In our discussion, we talked about the concept of “fit and fat,” and about how the term “skinny fat” is often used to describe thin people who eat a lot of junk food and remain slim. These people may be skinny on the outside, but they can still have markers of obesity in their blood, such as high cholesterol. Understanding this provides motivation for people to exercise for the health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure and lipids, even if they don’t need to lose weight.

3. Fat is not necessarily the enemy—in food or in the body

We already know that foods can contain good or bad fat, and that’s true in the body, too. While most of the messaging out there is about losing body fat, it’s also important to have enough body fat. Adipocytes, human cells that store fat, are not necessarily the enemy. They’re a part of our biochemical makeup for a reason, and have a purpose in the body. Fat plays an important role, for instance, in the maintenance of brain and hormonal health.

In the end, managing fat isn’t just about losing; it’s about reaching a balance.


(Photos: Shutterstock, Amazon)

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