the skinny on fat


Everybody at some point in their life has heard some fitness or nutrition professional talk about FAT.  More interestingly is the discussion about the difference between "Good vs Bad" Fats.  But you would be hard- pressed to find many individuals who can tell you what a good fat is and why it is good for you.

When medical professionals talk about good fats they are referring to those which decrease the risk of developing heart disease. But when it comes to your waistline, all fats are relatively the same in regards to caloric density.

So what does that mean for someone that is trying to lose weight? That too much of a good thing is still a bad thing! So lets back up a minute and discuss what defines a good fat and that of a bad fat.

The "Good guys"

Good fats are usually defined as unsaturated fats- they are considered good for you because they lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fats are probably the most well known healthy fat by the general population because they have gotten a lot of acknowledgment for their heart health benefits.

Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish (salmon, halibut, trout, tuna and oysters), flaxseed, eggs, milk, yogurt. peanut butter, oatmeal, walnuts, brussels sprouts, kale and spinach-just to name of few.

The other healthy fats are known as monounsaturated fats. When it comes in the form of a grocery list it looks like this: olive, canola and peanut oil, olives, avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and cashews... among a few others. So, if it’s a healthy fat you can consume as much as you want, right? Wrong! This is where people usually foul up, they believe that just because something is healthy that they can eat as much as they desire without repercussions.

The truth of the matter is, fat is fat. It's very calorie dense at 9 calories per gram, so its very easy to over eat.  If not tracked properly it can add up to a considerable amount of calories in just a few small portions. If your goal is weight loss it is important to limit the amount of fat you eat.

However, at least 10% of your total daily calories must come from fat. The Department of Agriculture recommends 20-35%.  These percentages have been taken into account by your nutrition coach and have been tailored to meet your individual needs, so worry not. It is your responsibility, however, to make the right choices when it comes to selecting the type of fats you will consume. That being said, lets talk about the other guys...

The “Bad Guys”

This is where it gets confusing. We will try to simplify this by saying that there are some fats that you should eat sparingly- these are known as saturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, high-fat diary and eggs, and in some oils such as coconut and palm oils. According to the American Heart Association, products highest in saturated fats are fatty cuts of beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lards and creams, butter and dairy products made with whole fat or red-fat milk.

Please don’t be confused; we are not suggesting that you eliminate these from your diet; only that you consume them sparingly. That is why in our program we suggest that lean meats predominate in the diet.

The other type of bad fats are known as artificial trans fats and these should be avoided and eliminated from the diet. They are considered bad because the raise bad cholesterols (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL) and this increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats became popular because they are easy to make, inexpensive and last a long time! Many fast food companies use trans fats to fry their foods because the oil can be used over and over many times without needing to be changed.

They also increase the longevity of packaged and processed foods and are found in grocery items such as fried foods, doughnuts, cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers and most sweets.

Now we don't want to be unrealistic and say you can never, never, ever have these foods ever again. Because lets get real, who doesn’t want the occasional piece of cake at a birthday party or dessert for the holidays, we all do! But we will say this: if your main concern is your waistline, it is best to avoid these products, especially until you've reached your goals.

However, it is good to live a little, and because we live in such a food driven society it would be impractical to say you will never let these goodies touch your taste buds ever again.

But even after you have reached your goals it is important to realize that these types of foods should be consumed few and far between and mostly reserved for special occasions, not consumed every day. It is important not only for your body composition but your overall health to learn to love other forms of sweets like fruits and other healthy options.


You got this,

- A