Fats are one macronutrient that is most misconceived. It has more to do with the term ‘fat; which also roughly means heavy, or obese.
While talking about obese people, we often refer to the fat that is accumulated in their bodies. Recently in the western world, the consumption of junk has risen considerably, the fat they put into their bodies gets stored in theirs as their fat.
Most individuals know about the impact of such eating habits, yet they find it tough to overcome this desire to consume unhealthy food. However, it is possible for you to select the kind of fat that you put into your body.
First, it is should be clear that not all fats are bad for you — consuming the right kind of fat will not only help you lose weight but also put you in shape by building lean muscle.
But remember that fat contains 9 calories per gram, making it more than twice as dense as protein and carbohydrates (4 calories per gram).
Eating the right amount of healthy or good fats will help to keep you feeling full longer, thus helping in the weight loss process.
The “healthy” fats are also required by your body for controlling your mood, achieving top brain function, fighting fatigue, and controlling weight.
Given the fact that your brain, for example, is almost 60% fat — that indicates it requires fat in order to adequately develop and function.
These healthy fats can also help lower your cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, among other health benefits.
The “unhealthy” fats, on the other hand, can increase your risk of heart disease and raise your cholesterol level, as well as cause a lot of other negative health problems.
This is why it is important to understand which fats are good and which are bad, as well as to focus on eating the ones that will help your body.
There are four main types of fat found in today’s diet of foods developed from plants and animals: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans fats, and saturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are considered to be “good” fats, as they deliver health benefits. Trans fats are definitively within the “bad” fats category, whereas saturated fats are still somewhat open to debate in the world of nutrition.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most well-known types of polyunsaturated fats, and they provide a phenomenal amount of health benefits.
These benefits include: preventing and reducing symptoms of ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder; preventing memory loss and dementia; reducing the risk of stroke, heart disease, and cancer– easing the symptoms of joint pain, arthritis, and inflammatory skin conditions — and supporting a healthy and viable pregnancy.
The best sources of omega-3s are fish, such as salmon, herring, anchovies, oysters, and lake trout.
For those who are vegetarian or do not eat fish for other reasons, there are other options: algae, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, spinach, flaxseed, and kale, to name a few.
Given that there are restrictions for some people – including nursing mothers, pregnant women, and children under 12 – and the potential risk of mercury in fish, you may want to consider focusing on non-fish sources, if possible.
If you do really want to eat fish, check your local seafood advisories to see if the fish being caught locally are safe to eat, or choose fish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, shrimp, and canned tuna.
There will be many websites and books out there that will tell you how no fat is good fat. But you need to understand that it is not possible for all fat to be bad, and there can be quite a lot of good ones as well.
We look at those in detail and also examine what makes them healthier choices for those looking to lose excess body weight.
Understanding the Good Fats
It is easy to distinguish good fats from bad or unhealthy ones. Overall, the “good” fats will be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which include omega-3s.
However, there are other factors that need to be evaluated when deciding on the specific foods that you will eat and determining whether they are providing good fats or bad fats.
In addition to trans fats, and possibly saturated fats, unhealthy fats are those that have undergone chemical alteration or processing, especially from plant-based fat sources. Meat or dairy fat sources that come from farm-raised animals or mass production are also unhealthy.
On the other hand, plant-based fat sources that underwent minimal processing in order to retain most, if not all, of their natural state are classified as good fats (for example extra virgin olive oil).
Likewise, animal-based fat sources from free-range, grass-fed (organic farm) animals and the wild game produce more healthy fats than unhealthy ones because the meat is leaner.
That is why several diets emphasize that grass-fed butter and other such fats should be used when dieting. It will help you lose weight faster, and you will not feel like you are dieting.
Good Fats from Plants
Unsaturated plant-based oils are the finest sources of healthy fats because they are composed of both monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. If your goal is to lose weight, choose:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
These foods contain high amounts of monounsaturated fats. As for polyunsaturated fats, the best sources come from foods that have not undergone processing, such as:
- Fish Oils
- Flax-Seed Oil
- Raw Seeds
It is important to have polyunsaturated fats in your diet, as your body is not able to produce these.
They contain important omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as “essential fatty acids.”
Here, we are referring to the butter that can be extracted from these ingredients. You can find these kinds of butter at any supermarket and use them for your everyday cooking.
Just remember that you need to look for products that are genuine and not simply marked as healthy for commercial gains.
Many nutrition experts opine that processed oils from such sources as soybean, corn, sunflower, canola, safflower, and cottonseed should be avoided – despite being unsaturated – because they are manufactured through a more industrial, and less natural, process. Industrial processing is believed by some to have the potential to alter the “good” fatty acids into trans fats.
If you are particularly concerned about the quality of the fats that you are putting into your body, then sticking with the products in the two lists above is the safest bet.
It is also important to remember that fats can go bad if damaged by heat, light, or oxygen. Keep in mind that polyunsaturated oils have to be refrigerated, and some unsaturated oils cannot be cooked at high heat as it will damage the fatty acids.
If seeds, nuts, or oils smell or taste bitter — or more bitter than usual – then it is probably time to throw them out. You will want to make sure that you are eating the highest quality fats so that your body is able to get the maximum benefits.
Good Fats from Meat and Dairy
Eating grass-fed beef will nourish your body with the healthy fat called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, as well as omega-3 fatty acids compared with eating grain-fed beef. As for fat from dairy, organic milk from grass-fed and free-range animals will provide you with healthy fat as well.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of milk from pasteurized and homogenized milk. If you do not have access to “raw” or organic milk, the next best option would be to choose to skim milk or coconut milk, almond milk, etc.
These are the types of milk that vegans prefer, as they are strictly off-dairy products.
Again, you can buy these at your local departmental store, or look for them online.
Keep in mind that saturated fats are the primary type of fat found in red meat and dairy.
While there is still some debate as to how good or bad saturated fats are for you, nutrition experts generally recommend that you limit your intake of saturated fats to less than 10% of your total calories for the day.
Poultry is a good alternative to red meat because it will still give you some saturated fat while having a lower amount of saturated to unsaturated fats than red meat will provide.
If you are really determined to lose weight and build lean muscles in your body, then you will have to put in a little effort to cater to your dietary needs.
If you think you can kick back and relax and expect to lose weight, then you are completely wrong. So don’t look at these dietary changes as a tedious task, and consider them as your mission for your war against body fat.
Stay Away from Hydrogenated Oils
The worst kinds of fat are those labeled as “hydrogenated” or even “partially hydrogenated.” These are highly toxic to the body because they cause arterial inflammation and, subsequently, heart disease and obesity.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that consuming these oils are detrimental to the body, they are widely available in restaurants and grocery stores because the hydrogenation process extends the shelf life of the oils, thus making them cheaper for wide consumption.
The rule of thumb for eating fat is to choose sources that underwent minimal processing and to control your portions.
You do not have to concern yourself about whether they contain polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, or saturated fat because they will all be beneficial for your body as long as they are natural and organic.
What you need to steer clear from as much as possible are processed foods and their trans fats.
What you will need to watch out for in particular are pre-packaged foods, including crackers, chips, candy, and microwavable popcorn, and commercially baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, muffins, and others.
Unless they have specifically been made with alternative sources of oils, these types of products are likely to be quite high in trans fats and should be avoided whenever possible.
Making your own is a great way to still enjoy the snack and ensure that you are limiting your intake of trans fats as much as possible.
If you need to cook with oil, choose butter, coconut oil, palm oil, or fine olive oil. Even though these are labeled as “saturated” fats, they still contain fewer free radicals and toxins once they are submitted to heat and light.
However, it is highly advisable to choose non-frying cooking methods to minimize your use of oils, such as by baking, steaming, and boiling.
Most of these junk food chains use hydrogenated oil and butter to cook and fry. That is where your fat comes from.
So don’t eat these foods in excess, and in fact, don’t eat them at all if you wish to remain healthy for long.
Try to include a small number of healthy fats in your regular diet to maximize their benefits.
Some food suggestions would be a trail mix of raw nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and macadamias), seeds (such as sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds), and dark chocolate, yogurt, organic, or skim milk, as well as a teaspoonful of extra virgin olive oil with your salad or meat dish.
Furthermore, you can replace mayonnaise with avocado (or guacamole), drink coconut milk or almond milk, eat organic peanut butter or almond butter, and take a fish oil supplement.
These are not some things that you have occasionally (although that will also benefit your body). Instead, you need to try and include them in your diet as regularly as possible.
Remember that you are trying to not just lose fats but convert them into lean muscles. Thus, you will need enough and more dietary help in order to supplement your exercise routine and attain a lean and ripped body at the earliest possible time.