When you’re trying to improve your health or lose weight, cutting down the fat in your diet might seem like the logical thing to do. You might chose to do this based on logical sounding advice, but fat isn’t really the villain it’s made out to be. Almost anything can be part of a healthy diet in moderation and almost anything, no matter how healthy, can derail your diet if done in excess.
Today, I’m going to talk about why fat is not all bad by exploring two myths surrounding fat. You’ll learn why these myths sound so reasonable in the first place, and you’ll learn the truth about these myths that will help you make a more informed choice as to whether you want to include fat as part of your new healthy diet that promotes weight loss.
All Fats are Bad
According to this myth, fat is the mother of all bad things in your diet and should be avoided at all costs. The basis for this is early research showing an increase in the risk of heart disease, cholesterol, and other metabolic diseases with the increase in fat in a person’s diet. While this early research does have some merit, it gave a blanket verdict on all types of fat and ignored the fact that there are some fats that can actually help reduce or manage your risk for these diseases.
Not all fats are bad. There are three major types of fats – unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. Unsaturated fats are mostly found in plant sources such as plant oils (vegetable oils, olive oils et al), nuts, and whole grains. Saturated fats are commonly found in animal sources such as meat and dairy. Trans fats are manufactured fats that are made from plant oils using a process called hydrogenation.
Saturated fats should be limited in your diet, and trans fats should be avoided like the plague. These are the types of fats that can have an adverse effect on your health in the long term and are usually found in very calorie dense foods that can pack on the pounds.
Unsaturated fats on the other hands are the types of fats your body needs. In fact more recent research has found that these types of fats can help REDUCE your risks of metabolic and lifestyle diseases. Eating this type of fat in moderation can not only help you lose weight, but it can save you money in hospital bills.
Fat will Make You Fat
There’s a good reason for this particular myth. Of all the macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol – fats are the most calorie dense coming in at 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrates, and protein have 4 calories a gram each while alcohol is second only to fat coming in at 7 calories a gram. If you look at this myth at face value it makes sense because if you cut down 10 grams of fat from your diet, that results in cutting out 90 calories from your diet vs cutting down 10 grams of carbohydrate which saves you only 40.
The simplistic math above ignores some things about fat that make them great for dieters:
First, Fat adds flavor to Food
Eating serves multiple purposes – the first being nourishment and the second being physical and mental satisfaction. When you’re dieting the last thing you want to eat is cardboard-tasting food that resembles nothing of the foods you normally like to eat.
Cutting down on fat can deprive you of the satisfaction that you crave.
Second, fat helps you stay fuller, longer
Of all the macronutrients, fats take the most time to digest. This means that when you eat foods that contain fats, you’re less likely to get hungry when compared to a meal that has no fat in it. Again a little goes a long way.
So how do you incorporate more fat into your diet without derailing your efforts? Moderation is key and I’ve shared some ideas in an article answering the question Can You Eat Fat and Still Lose Weight? It is true that fat is calorie dense, but you can put it to work in your favor if you are strategic about it. Measure, Measure, Measure and have specific guidelines for yourself about the types of fats you eat and the quantities you would eat and you’ll find yourself using fat in your favor and reaching your goals in no time.
So now it’s time to move it over to you: would you consider adding fat to your diet in moderation after what you’ve read?