Fat. Let’s talk about it. We all have a little extra junk in our trunk and mid-section we’re trying to get rid of. In addition to exercise, we know diet (not dieting) is critical to achieving this goal. Even when we do these things fairly consistently and try to stay on the straight and diet narrow, we count calories, eat tons of fat-free, non-fat food, there always seems to be a little extra jiggle in our wiggle and we’re still HONGRY. Why?
Well we may be working counter to our fat-loss goals by eating all of this fat-free, no-fat stuff. The truth is your body needs fat to optimize your metabolism and burn fat.
Fat is the most energy-dense of all of the macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and water are the other macronutrients) with 9 calories of energy per gram vs 4 calories for carbs and proteins). Fats serve critical functions in the body including insulation, hormone production, support cell structure, and vitamin absorption.
When trying to lose weight, because of the high calorie count in fats, high fat food should be eaten in moderation. However all fats are not created equal.
First you have saturated fat which is typically solid at room temperature. Foods high in saturated fat tend to be red meat, full fat dairy, coconut and palm oil. Saturated fat tends to increase the “bad cholesterol” LDL, low density lipo-protein.
Unsaturated fat tends to be liquid at room temperature. Examples of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil.
Tran fats are unsaturated fats that have been turn into saturated fat in order to increase shelf life in products. These are the worst kinds of fats as they tend to be artery clogging and can lead to other health issues. This is bad stuff. Stay away from it.
Essential fatty acids are acids that the body cannot produce and must be consumed through diet. Polyunsaturated fats like Omega 3s (found in fish) and Omega 6s (found in flaxseed, canola oil). They each serve different functions. Omega 3s protect against heart disease and support a healthy immune system. They also tend to reduce inflammation in the body. Omega 6s on the other hand increase blood pressure and clotting, support brain function, bone health and metabolism. You need a balance of both.
Avocados, as an example, are considered a super food because they are high in Omega 3s and Omega 6s, have no cholesterol, have all 18 essential amino acids and pre-digested protein, unlike cooked meats that can be difficult to digest. They are also a great source of energy.
Almonds are also a great energy source and are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. They lower LDL and can reduce your risk of heart disease.
The problem with no-fat/fat free foods is that they tend to have low nutritional value and do not provide the fats your body needs to support the above functions. Also, to improve taste, ingredients have often been added (sugar as an example) to replace the fat removed and those ingredients are also low in nutritional value. Last, fat makes us feel full and leads to satiety. You will benefit more from eating “good” fat nutrient-rich food, vs focusing on consuming low calorie, fat free food that will leave you lacking in nutrition, energy, and potentially craving more food and leading to overeating.
So don’t get hung up on marketing and counting calories. Read the labels. Enjoy a balanced diet with good fat. With consistent exercise you will see results and you won’t go HONGRY.
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By day, Jennifer Turner is a high-powered media executive. By night, Ms. Turner is a self-proclaimed, “Fitness Activator.” This is to say that her life’s mission is to empower others to “activate” their innate ability to have a healthy lifestyle and achieve happiness.
Visit jenniferturner.com to learn more about Jennifer and follow her team of fitness enthusiasts at Mad Cool Fitness.