By Nick Nilsson
Author of The Starting Monday Diet
Fat is one of the most confusing topics in nutrition...What are good fats? What are bad fats?
Should I eat fat when I'm trying to LOSE fat? Should I try and eliminate all fat from my diet?
Time to cut through that confusion and learn the truth about fats in your diet.
What foods have fat in them?
Now, when you think of fat in food (and what to avoid), some of the first things that come to mind are bacon, French fries, potato chips, movie popcorn, pastries…
That would be correct, as a general rule of thumb. Per serving, these foods tend to have a higher fat content, and, because it's easier to eat more than one serving (so VERY easy), these are food that you may want to add in only very sparingly to your diet.
How do carbohydrates affect fat absorption?
And, as an "added bonus," because the foods mentioned above also feature high-glycemic carbs, they release insulin in your body. Insulin, your body's storage hormone, tends to store more of the fat from the food than allow it to be burned for fuel.
I think it's safe to say, eat these (and other similar foods such as cookies, ice cream, cheeses, and such) sparingly.
What Are the Different types of Fat?
To get a better look at what foods might be good or bad for us, let's take a look into the different types of fat:
This fat is considered one of the good fats! This fat can be found in olive oil (good source), peanut oil, avocado, nuts and poultry.
This fat is also considered one of the good fats. You mainly find this fat in vegetable oils, nut oils, poultry and seeds.
This is generally thought of as a fat you want to enjoy in very limited quantities (not more than 10% of your daily fat intake). You would find this fat in butter, lard, red meat, and cheese, among other sources. Your body needs some, but in limited amounts. Likely, your best source of this would be coconut oil (for all the good research being done on it).
The very bad fat. You'd be surprised where you might find this fat…it's not just the movie popcorn that gets you. This can also be found in meats and dairy (in addition to processed foods such as cookies, crackers, etc….be sure to look at labels). Try very hard to limit yourself to 1-2 grams of this fat daily. Your arteries will thank you.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fatty, cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring are great for Omega 3s. As well, so are walnuts, flax oil, and ground flax seed.
How Much Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
How much fat (or how many fat grams) do you then want to have in your day? Well, remember that each person is going to have a dietary caloric intake. If you're trying to lose weight, you'll likely have your calories at a lower amount that someone who is a training athlete needing more calories.
As a general rule of thumb, try to limit your fat grams to 20-25% of your daily caloric intake (so, when it's noted above under saturated fat that you take in no more than 10% of your daily fat intake from this category, please note that this means you don't want more than 10% of that 20-25% coming from saturated fat).
Example: If you're eating 1000 calories a day, you don't want more than 25 grams of fat in your diet. So, you don't want more than 2.5 grams of saturated fat. If you're training and your body has different needs, this range may vary (you may need more then, just as if you're sedentary or have a bit more bodyfat to lose, you may need less). It's a good general range to use as a guideline.
Why you want fat in your diet…
You want fat in your diet because it is considered a macronutrient, and is necessary for many functions within the body (from something as simple as helping certain vitamins to be absorbed to to helping your body manufacture certain hormones). You NEED fat, just try to be sure your sources are good sources of GOOD fat.
Why you want to limit fat in your diet…
Fat, if you eat too much or the wrong kinds, can take your body out of balance. Not only can it contribute in "making you fat," additional fat has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and potentially even cancer.
For a healthy you…
Limit your fat to 20-25% of your daily caloric intake, choose good fats, and remember…most fats are already IN the food you eat, so you usually don't need to search it out. Just learn more about the foods you eat and their fat content, and you'll do well in keeping your heart and health on the right track.
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