Fitness

Get skinny, eat fat

Get skinny, eat fat

For those of you that are trying to lose weight, I’m going to guess that you’ve fallen into the ‘low fat’ marketing trap, going round the shopping isles picking up anything that says ‘low-fat’, ‘reduced-fa’t, ‘light’ and even ‘fat-free’. Am I right?
Well it’s not a surprise! What else are we going to choose when a product screams ‘low-fat’, healthy and delicious?  Buy it of course.

Unfortunately, most of these products are not quite what they seem….

Let’s take a closer look at what that labelling really means.

  • Low-fat foods must have 3 grams of fat or less per serving.
  • Reduced-fat foods must have at least 25% less fat than their full fat versions
  • Light foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat.
  • Fat-free foods must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.

These seemingly ‘healthy’ foods hide a very sneaky secret that us, the consumer is blissfully unaware of. Low-fat foods are low fat for a reason!

During the manufacturing process where the fat is taken out, it’s then replaced with numerous ingredients to thicken them up and give them back some taste. Additives such as sugar, flour, thickeners and salt are loaded into the products which bump up their calorie content. So all these ‘Weight Watchers’ and ‘Good for you’ type brands are in fact misleading and potentially detrimental to your overall health. The bad news about these products is that their nutritional value can be very poor in comparison to their full fat counterparts.  (Take a look at the ingredients label and see how many words you don’t recognise…or even can’t pronounce).
The problem with all this low-fat marketing is that it’s given fat in general a very bad name. I want to emphasise that not all fat is bad; in-fact healthy fats are extremely good for you and have amazing health benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at fat…

Most good fats come in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats although polyunsaturated fats can be “good” or “bad,” depending on whether they are primarily Omega-6 fats or Omega-3 fats.
While small amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential, the amounts required are very small and can be met from plant products, which have a good balance of the two fats.

Our diet is typically overloaded with Omega-6 fatty acids, with inadequate amounts of Omega-3.
Monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil and avocado. These fats are “healthy” fats and can be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Bad fats on the other hand come in the form of trans-fats, which are found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils generally used in all fast food, processed goods, baked products and cheese. These fats should be avoided at all times due to their nature of raising blood cholesterol.
The healthy fats we consume will help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise the amount of HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood stream.

These LDL fighting fats can be found in foods such as tuna, salmon, flaxseed, nuts, so we can eat these in moderation.

When it comes to selecting which fats to eat and how much, this offers up confusion to most dieters.
Here are a few guidelines:

  • Select the healthiest fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
  • Avoid all trans-fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated)
  • All fats average 120 calories per tablespoon, so use fats to add flavour to food, they should never consumed as the majority of a meal
  • Fats only need to be 10-30% of your diet if trying to lose weight
  • Use coconut oil as a healthy alternative to vegetable oil
  • If you are watching calories, keep in mind that low-fat or fat-free versions of baked goods often have the same amount of calories as the full-fat version. In many cases, fat is replaced with sugar which drives up the calories.

Now you have an idea of which fats to choose, it’s also important to know the health benefits of consuming fats for reducing body fat and optimal health.
Benefits of healthy fats:

  • A combination of good fats (omega 3’s and 6’s) help maintain a feeling of fullness, which makes you eat less, thus allowing for weight loss
  • Good fats help increase your metabolism and by consuming them will signal to your body to ‘burn body fat for fuel’
  • Fats helps to stabilise blood sugar levels which in turn helps to control hunger levels and cravings, again leading to weight loss
  • Fats help to maintain continuous energy levels, keeping you performing optimally on a daily basis

With fear of overloading you with too much information on why fats shouldn’t be avoided in your diet, I challenge you to a week of reading labels to truly understand what’s in these ‘low-fat’ products and swap them for their full fat, natural versions. Listen to your body and recognise the positive changes that will come from consuming healthier fats in your diet, you’ll soon understand the importance of good fats in your quest to achieving fat loss and optimal health.

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