There’s a common misconception that eating a lot of fat makes you gain weight. Because of it, many people try to eliminate fat from their diet in order to improve health. There are three kinds of fat: trans, saturated and unsaturated fats. Trans fats are found in processed foods, saturated fats are present in meat and dairy products, and unsaturated fat is found in vegetables. For optimum health, you should get no more than 30% of your calories from fat. In this article, you’ll learn more about the different kinds of fats and how they can benefit your body.
Saturated fats, or the “bad fats”, are found in meats and other animal products. These fats elevate your “bad” cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Dietary sources of saturated fats are eggs, dairy and meat; it’s recommended that you get only about 10% of your daily calories from saturated fats.
Unsaturated fats are in vegetable-based foods. Known as the “good fats”, they can lower your risk of heart disease. You can find unsaturated fats in olive or canola oils, seafood, nuts, vegetables and fruits. It’s recommended that you get about 20% of your daily calories from unsaturated fats.
Trans fats are those made by man as an additive to improve the shelf life and flavor of food. They’re made by taking unsaturated fats and changing their properties so they’re more like saturated fats. Sources of trans fats include margarine, shortening and baked goods; if you see “hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the product label, the food you’ve chosen has trans fat. These man-made fats lower your good cholesterol levels, while increasing your bad cholesterol, and they should be eaten very sparingly, if at all.
Eating fat doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll put on weight. Taking in too many calories and not getting enough exercise makes you heavy, and eating an excess of carbohydrates or protein will have the same effect. In short, eating more than you burn will make you gain weight, and it doesn’t matter whether the calories come from fats, proteins or carbohydrates.
If you’re trying to lose a few pounds, you shouldn’t eliminate fat from your diet entirely. Losing weight means that you need to figure your basal metabolic rate (how many calories you burn per day), and how many calories you take in each day. After you’ve done that, you need to create a caloric deficit; eating 500 calories less per day means you’ll lose a pound per week. To ensure proper nutrition, you should cut calories from all areas, rather than focus on one macronutrient.
However, fats and proteins are much more filling than carbohydrates. If you’re struggling with hunger pangs on a standard calorie restricted diet, try increasing the amount of calories you get from fats and proteins, while reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat.
Most people find they are more satisfied on less food when eating this way, making it easier to reduce their calorie consumption and lose weight.
Good fats also have positive effects on your overall health. By cutting all fat out of your diet, you’re missing out on the benefits they provide. Cutting out empty calories and getting more physical activity is a far more sensible approach to weight loss and healthy living.
This guest piece was written and contributed by Amy Fowler for slimming.com, which specialize in products for healthy living. Find out more here or click here to read more from slimming.com.