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Fat: Uncovering the Truth

Duration: One hour
Target Group: ‘Ai Pono Nutrition Group Therapy
Overall Goal: by the end of this session clients will be able
to debunk common misconceptions about fat.
to understand the importance of dietary fat.
Major Concepts:
➢ Fat is functional in our bodies
○ metabolically active
○ provides energy
○ energy storage
○ insulation/ protection
○ transportation of vitamins
Icebreaker or Attention Grabber: (5min)
● Ask clients to tell you what they know about fats/lipids
● Point out important key ideas about fat function and fat in foods
● Ask clients to tell you some of the things they have heard about food that they
aren’t sure is true: What did you eating disorder voice say about fat?
● Write down common misconceptions about fat
○ Foods high in fat are unhealthy
○ Eating animal fats causes heart problems
○ Eating fat makes you fat
○ Body fat is only stored fat--it doesn’t do anything
○ When you lose or gain weight it is changing your body fat

Objectives: Address Fat misconceptions

1. Foods high in fat are unhealthy
Learning Experiences:
- Ask clients what are some foods high in fat. Write these down.
- Draw attention to foods not commonly associated with being unhealthy: milk,
coconut, nuts, avocado, olives, fish
- Explain:
- Many foods high in fat are good for you
- There are two Essential Fatty Acids that your body can’t just make
so we need to get them from foods
- Omega-3 FAs (alpha-linolenic acid)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) →
regulates nerve transmission and communication

- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Omega-6 FAs: Linoleic acid
- Arachidonic acid→ increase clotting
and inflammation
2. Eating animal fats causes heart problems
Learning Experiences:
- Many people are concerned that the cholesterol found in animal proteins is bad
for you, one reason this might be thought to be true is that Low-density lipoproteins
(LDLs) are made from cholesterol
- If LDL is not readily cleared from the BS, scavenger cells can take up the
lipoprotein into the arterial walls → atherosclerosis
- LDL is only a problem when it is too high in the bloodstream because low
amounts are needed as part of routine body functions.
3. Eating fat makes you fat
Learning Experiences:
- Explain that this is a very common misconception
- Ok so this one is kinda true and not true at the same time: Eating excessive fat
and excessive carbohydrates will cause your body to store fat
- Explain Fat Digestion:
- Mouth: lingual lipase splits triglycerides to triacylglycerols,
diacylglycerols and fatty acids
- Stomach: gastric lipase does the same thing leaving TAGs, DAGs,
and FFAs
- Small Intestine: Stage I: Emulsification with Bile
- Phase II: Enzymatic Digestion by pancreatic lipase
converts TAGs, DAGs to Monoacylglycerols and FFAs
- Short-chain FFAs can move directly into portal vein
- others: Glycerol, glucose, Cholesterol, and longchain FAs enter enterocyte with the help of transfer proteins
- MAGs, DAGs diffuse into enterocytes
- Reformed into TAGs
- Enterocytes form Chylomicrons
- exit enterocyte by exocytosis and enter lymphatic
- slowly enter bloodstream



Key Role



Carries dietary fat from the SI to the cells



Carries lipids made and taken up by the liver
to the cells



Carries cholesterol made by the liver and
from other sources to the cells



Contributes to cholesterol removal from cells
and, in turn, excretion of it from the body

4. Body fat is only stored fat- it doesn't do anything (therefore you don’t need it)
Learning Experiences: Explain:
- Fat is stored in the body in adipose cells→ these are actual cells and they are
metabolically active (ie. they use energy like any other type of cell)
- Some types of adipose tissue: brown fat has extra mitochondria that actually
change stored energy to heat energy
- Fat has many different functions in the body too:
- Insulation: subcutaneous fat keeps body temperature at a
constant level
- Ask: What would happen if our bodies couldn’t
regulate heat?
- Protection: Visceral fat cushion organs and keep them from
jostling around and getting injured
- Aid in fat-soluble vitamin absorption and transport
- fats in food carry vitamins A,D,E,and K to the small
- A: needed in the eye to turn visual light into nerve
- maintains epithelium (protective
layer covering internal and external surfaces of body) barrier
protects the body against the entry of disease pathogens
- Acts as antioxidant
- D: regulate body concentrations of calcium and
- bone health
- potential immune functions
- E: Antioxidant
- deficiency leads to premature
breakdown of RBCs (hemolytic anemia)
- K: Synthesis of blood clotting factors
5. When you lose or gain weight it is changing your body fat
Learning Experiences:
Explain: When we lose weight quickly our bodies turn to protein to act as a fuel source
for energy. This can lead to weight loss, because muscles start to atrophy. Muscle is heavier
than fat so it looks like a lot of weight loss, but it might not be from fat. Eventually our bodies will
start to use the fat stores as an energy source. You have to be very careful though, because if
weight loss happens very quickly it might lead to toxicity as our bodies release stored toxins that
may be found in the adipose tissue. If weight loss is recommended it should be approached at a
slow rate and include lifestyle changes to diet and exercise.
Targeting specific areas of your body for exercise does not have an effect on the fat
storage in that area. In fact, if you are building muscle it might even look like those areas are
getting larger. Exercise and building muscle does increase the body's’ energy needs at rest
however, and during low intensity activities our bodies do use fat as an energy source, but there
really is no way of telling where the fat loss will come from on our bodies.

The same is true for weight gain. If it comes after a period of weight loss or is occurring
along with an increase in exercise we can assume it is muscle weight that is being gained.


Address any other questions clients might have.
Ask clients what they will take away from the session.
Encourage clients that being informed about nutrition and health can help them know what they
should trust-- there are a lot of rumors going around. It’s important to make informed decisions
in all areas of our lives.