Most people believe eating fat will make you fat. All the hype in the 80’s about fat left us scared to eat any! I feel passionate about educating people and am glad to share with you that this is a fallacy. Unless you eat too much of the wrong kind of fat, studies show you can actually lose weight by eating good fat.
Dietary fat is the most energy dense macronutrient.
You should be concerned about what your body is missing if you don’t eat the right fats.
Your body needs fat to manufacture and balance hormones, formation of our brains and nervous system, and for transportation of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Furthermore, fat intake provides two essential fatty acids that the body can’t make (an omega-6 fatty acid and an omega- 3 fatty acid).
You probably have heard of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Your body needs an equal balance of all three fatty acids to function properly. It’s when there is too much of one type that can cause problems. Hang with me….I just want to give you a little bit of the “why behind the what”!
Avoid These Fats
Most of us have heard of trans fat and know it’s bad for us. Trans fat is created by taking an unsaturated fat (soft or liquid at room temperature) and bubbling hydrogen ions through it. This process “hydrogenates” it, causing it to harden at room temperature. It may taste good, but this process causes fat to to pack into the cell membrane very tightly. This increases the risk of many diseases and health problems.
It’s common sense to avoid foods with hydrogenated oil which are usually found in most processed foods. If a food has a shelf life longer than your own body, it’s probably a safe bet it has hydrogenated oils!
Some examples of foods made with hydrogenated oils are: margarine, most peanut butters, packaged snacks, coffee creamers, fried foods and a lot of premade baked goods. Most microwave popcorn and some low fat ice cream have partially hydrogenated oils too. The hydrogenated oils add a pleasing texture, but are destructive to you body. Look for it on ingredient labels.
Healthy Fat Food Examples
So what fats are healthy and how much is good? Here is a list of some easy to find healthy fat:
Saturated fat: animal fats (eggs, dairy, meats, butter, cheese, etc), coconut oil
Monounsaturated fat: olive oil, nuts and nut butters and avocado
Polyunsaturated fat: flax seeds/oil, fish oil, nuts and nut butters and vegetable oils
Try to get ⅓ of each of the above fats. How much of each depends on how many calories you need. Here is an example to give you an idea. If you are eating 1800 calories a day your fat intake should be around 25-35% of your caloric intake. That equates to 50-70 grams of daily fat. That’s around 16-23 grams of each fat.
Do your mind and body a favor; enjoy eating fat. Focus getting some saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.Do your best to avoid processed foods, fried foods and trans fat. Lastly, eat it throughout the day and not in one sitting!
John Berardi, PhD and Ryan Andrews, MS/MA, RD, Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, 2013, pgs 158-163, 341.