I’m on Day 15 of my second Whole30, and I’m wondering if there is such a thing as eating too much fat. Can I cook some eggs in avocado oil and top with hollandaise sauce? Or cook a skillet meal in ghee, but also drizzle it with Whole30 House Ranch? The Whole30 Meal Template says 1-2 thumb sized portions of fat per meal, so am I on the right track? -Megan, Calgary, AB
There is such a thing as eating too much fat, but if you’re paying attention to the Whole30 Meal Template, you don’t have to stress about it. Like, unless you’re dumping half a bottle of our House Ranch over your plate, you’re doing just fine. (It is delicious, I’ll give you that.)
The first thing to remember is that it’s a lot harder to over-eat nutrient-dense whole foods like eggs, avocado, and healthy oils than other fatty processed foods like potato chips or French fries. It’s even harder to over-eat if you’re sitting down at the table, chewing slowly and allowing those satiety signals to catch up to your brain. (Compared to wolfing down your drive-through meal in the car between errands.)
Trust your satiety signals …
Second, the Whole30 helps restore your body’s natural satiety signals, so after a few weeks on the program, you can actually hear (and trust) when your body says, “I’m hungry” and stop eating when you’re full. That’s a lot harder to do with junk foods—what we call “food with no brakes.”
Honestly, it’s much more common that people under-eat fat on the Whole30, because after years of “fat is bad” messaging coming from the media, people tend to be afraid of dietary fat coming into the program. They’re so used to shopping for low-fat everything and using the least amount of cooking oil possible (or worse, those zero-calorie cooking sprays) that I often see people not eating enough fat (and therefore not enough energy or total calories) in their first Whole30.
… But keep an eye out for these indicators, too.
However, it is possible to eat too much fat, and that can negatively affect your hunger levels and digestion. In the context of the Whole30, we see this most often when people are snacking on nuts and seeds, usually by themselves and mindlessly. (Think spooning out half a jar of almond butter while watching a movie, or snacking on roasted, salted cashews right out of the bag while driving.) You can also over-consume fat if you’re eating those nut-based “cheese” alternatives or dips—the serving size on those is tiny! However, what you are describing doesn’t sound like that context.
In the case of eating fat as part of a balanced Whole30 meal, you can generally assume that things even out in the wash. One of your meals may be higher fat, while the next is naturally lower in fat as a result of your protein or choice of sauce. Plus, some of the cooking fat you use stays in the pan, and if you’re cooking a few servings of meat in one tablespoon of fat (about a thumb-sized portion), you’re certainly not consuming all of it in one serving.
If you notice during your program that your digestion is off (your stomach cramps after meals, you have extra-stinky gas, or your stools are soft and oily), your energy gets worse instead of better (indicating you may be eating more fat than you can effectively absorb and use), OR you end up eating so much dressing or dip in one meal that you’re not hungry for the next, keep a closer eye on your fat intake to see if you’re dumping a cup instead of drizzling a serving, or replace the cashew dip on your veggie tray with salsa or cauliflower-based “hummus.”
For now, if your hunger is appropriate (meaning you’re not overly stuffed after a meal, but not ravenous two hours later either), your energy is rockin’, your digestion is smooth, and you are feeling satisfied with your food, just keep doing what you’re doing!
Best in health,
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Remember, we aren’t answering questions about the Whole30 rules via this column (use the forum!), nor are we able to offer you specific advice about your medical issue, health condition, or body composition.