That darn fat. It’s what we don’t want on our bodies, but it is a macronutrient (essential to life). There are different types of fats and some are great for our bodies and some are not. If we eat too much of any nutrient we can gain weight, but fat is the one that is the worst on the inside and out of our body.
Tip 1: Choose plant based fats and proteins over meat
Our country is not short on meat lovers. Just watch TV and you see meat lovers pizza and more! But animal meat has more of the harmful fats that we need to limit in our diet. Plant-based fats are (typically) healthier for our bodies inside and out. Olive oils, unsalted nuts like almonds and seeds and avocado are just a few with healthy fats.
Tip 2: Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry
If you are going to eat meat try things like high percentage lean meats. This would be meats that are 90% or leaner. Substitute turkey for beef, choose white breast chicken meat over thighs. Removing skins of the chicken and turkey before eating will also lower the fat content of the meat. If you cook the meat in your pan on the stove, drain the fat before adding the remaining meal components before you cook and eat.
If you are going to choose meats, try grilling, steaming or baking it to keep the fat out of the cooking method.
Tip 3: Switch to seafood
Seafood has more positive fats versus the negative fats found in animal based products. Fish and things like shrimp and scallops are delicious and nutritious. You can use olive oil to cook and flavor the seafood with other herbs and spices as well. Adding these to a whole grain rice or pasta round out the fats for the meal.
Try baking your fish, grilling your fish or even steam it to make it a healthier option.
Tip 4: Understand the differences in fats when reading labels
Saturated fat and trans fat are the fats we do not want a lot of. These are primarily animal-product fats and a few other plant-based. They come from beef, butter, dairy, chicken fat, creams, shortening and certain other oils like coconut – even though it’s not animal.
Saturated fats work in combination with cholesterol to cause a thick substance that blocks arteries if overconsumed over time. Take a look at shortening in your cabinet or the store. It’s not liquid, is it? It’s solid even at room temperature. Understanding a label is important. If it has total fat of less than 5% this is considered low, and over 20% is high.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are healthier fats. These are the fats in the olive oil, and some seafood listed above. These are generally liquid at room temperature.
Pesky trans fat – this is from partially hydrogenated oils. This is basically altered fat and is unstable in the body and can be very negative for heart health.
Tip 5: Limit desserts, snacks, and sweets
Of course, we know about the sugar content of these items, but they are also filled with fat typically and it’s usually saturated fat. Ice cream and butter on microwave popcorn are also examples of negative saturated fats. Again it’s about overconsumption. Be aware you can have these fats in your diet, but having them over a daily value on a daily basis is where things go wrong.
How much fat should we be eating? How does that compare to other nutrients?
An adult should be consuming between 20 and 35% of their daily calories from fat. This is the second highest macro percentage. It’s the second needed source of energy for our body after carbs. Children need slightly higher levels to build bodies at 25-35% of their daily calories and preschool age or younger children need 30-40% of their calories from fat.
Fat has twice the calories as carbs and protein – that’s why overconsumption can go so wrong with fats.
We do need fat in our body. It’s essential for proper growth and function of our cells helps with certain vitamin absorption and helps with blood clotting and nervous system function and more! We need it to cushion our organs and for healthy skin and hair.
So what’s the deal with low fat or nonfat products?
As with all our nutrients and macros, the right balance on a daily basis is what is important. Choosing low-fat products is helpful and will keep your daily value level. You might wonder about reports and information out there about those low-fat products being loaded “secretly” with sugar. This is generally not true, and if there is some type of added sugar (it’s on the label listed in the ingredients section) if you look at the full-fat counterpart it generally contains the same amount of sugar as the low fat. Thus if you are going to choose one of the two go for the lower fat, then you don’t have sugar and bad fat. How can you be sure what you are about to consume from a packaged or dairy product – read the label! Not just the values but the ingredients. The closer to the beginning of the list is a higher amount in the product and toward the end is more of a trace amount in the product.
How can you be sure what you are about to consume from a packaged or dairy product? Read the label! Not just the values but the ingredients. The closer to the beginning of the list is a higher amount in the product and toward the end is more of a trace amount in the product.
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