People who want to lose weight tend to avoid any type of fat believing, wrongly, that fat will make them fat. Fat is actually something the human body needs in order to function properly! Without it, the fat soluble vitamins A, S, E, and K could not be absorbed.
Fat provides energy and helps food stay in the stomach longer, which gives you a feeling of satisfaction and lessens the desire to overeat. And, let’s face it, it makes foods taste better! Fat provides energy, and you simply cannot eat enough food in a low fat diet to get the energy you need. Not getting enough fat in your diet will cause dry hair and skin, low tolerance to the cold, bruising, and a lower resistance to infections. Eating “low-fat” pre-packaged foods is a recipe for disaster because the fat that has been removed to make it low-fat is replaced with added sugars and carbohydrates to make it more palatable. And we know that added sugars are bad because they create yet another cycle of hunger.
So what is a dieter to do?
First of all, learn the difference between “good” fats and “bad” fats. Good fats occur in natural, unprocessed foods such as walnuts, salmon, tuna, trout, avocados, olives, sesame seeds, tofu, peanut butter, soymilk, pecans, cashews, peanut oil, and almonds just to name a few. These foods contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are good for your heart and your overall health, and they are minimally processed.
Bad fats include trans fats or hydrogenated oils. They are used in processed foods to increase the food’s shelf life while also increasing your risk of disease and elevated cholesterol. Predictably, these include commercially made pastry, doughnuts, cookies, muffins, cakes, and pizza dough. They also include pre-packed snack foods like microwave popcorn, chips, as well as margarine, vegetable shortening, candy bars and anything that has been deep fried.
Saturated fats are “bad” because they also increase blood pressure and cholesterol but many of them are good sources for other minerals and proteins. Cheese, butter, ice cream, palm and coconut oils, chicken with the skin on, and high-fat cuts of meat such as beef, lamb and pork all contain saturated fats. These saturated fats are not recommended for those with high cholesterol, heart disease, or high blood pressure. They may be eaten by those people with no health issues, but only in moderation.
Choosing healthier options does not need to be a struggle. Simply replace the bad with the good. Instead of using butter, choose olive oil. Plain, non-fat yogurt can easily be substituted for sour cream, and frozen yogurt tastes just as good as ice cream. When choosing a protein, have skinless white meat chicken or turkey instead of red meat.
Prepare your foods mindfully (no deep frying!), eat unprocessed foods, choose lean proteins and “dieting” may easily become a thing of the past.