Wednesday Wellness: Fats in our diet

Often times when I work with a weight loss client I will look at many different factors of a program (caloric intake, lifestyle, age, activity, general health) and a common reoccurring theme for a large population is too many calories, not enough expenditure. In reviewing what many clients eat, I find a high fat diet is a big factor. We will go over the dynamics of having more protein (again a common theme) as well as less fat and what I hear from several is "ok, I'll eat more cheese and nuts." Herein lies the problem for many...nuts and cheese are mostly fat...not protein! Many don't really know what foods have fat in them!

Nuts and Cheese (two of the biggest culprits) DO have some protein in them, but calorically, nuts are about 80% fat (same with nut butters) and regular cheese is about 85% fat calorically! Since fat has 9 kcals per gram and protein and carbs have 4 kcals per gram, when we eat fats (even GOOD fats) they will add up calorically 2 and 1/2 x faster than their counterparts!

Now, everyone is different in their needs, (some really do need more fat) but if weight loss is important to you, getting in about 25% fat in your diet is great... but 50% is what I see in a great amount of clients! If these folks cut their fat a little (specifically saturated and trans fats), they will automatically cut calories. Again, however, I want to emphasize monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are essential, so we need to have fats in our diet, but not THAT much! :)

I thought it might be helpful to list some known and (for some) unknown fat foods: "Popular good fats"

  • Avocados
  • Olive oil, almond oil, sesame oil, etc
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters (almond butter, peanut butter)
  • Edamame (about 40-50% fat calorically)
  • Beans (about 40-50% fat calorically)
  • Tofu (about 40-50% fat calorically)
  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout)

"Popular bad fats" (saturated and trans fats)

  • High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Whole-fat and 2% dairy products (milk and cream)
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Palm and coconut oil (controversial here)
  • Lard
  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
  • Candy bars (sorry, Bummer, huh!)

Getting our food right is practically a full time job right at first, I know, but maybe if you take it just a little at a time, dividing your popular fat choices in half, you can take a small step towards reducing your fat intake (if that is what is needed for you) and creating a healthier body.  (Especially the "bad fats!")

**If you'd like to dive a little deeper in to your nutrition, ask us about a nutrition accountability group we are doing with the Cupertino and Los Gatos offices! These start in late January!