The latest word on fat is that it is actually good for you and good for weight control as long as you choose the healthy fat. Fat is calorie dense. In fact, it has more than double the amount of calories per gram of carbohydrate or protein. Fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of carb or protein. So, although choosing healthy fats can help you lose fat and keep you healthy in body and mind, too much of it will do just the opposite. The Fit Livin' Diet makes controlling your fat intake and choosing the right kinds of fat easy. Simply choose up to 4 servings each day from the fat list, the size of 1-2 of your thumbs.
Understanding which fats are good and which are not good can be very confusing. We will do our best to clear up confusion on some of the terms you may have heard but struggle to make sense of.
Fat in food can be classified in 3 groups: Saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
Saturated fats are mostly solid at room temperature and come from animal sources. Saturated fats include: high fat cuts of beef, animal fat of all kinds, butter fat and whole fat dairy. Tropical oils coconut, palm and palm kernel oil are also saturated fats and can be found in many processed foods, commercial baked goods and some energy bars. Saturated fats are linked to increasing blood cholesterol levels and in turn your risk for heart attack and stroke. These foods are well controlled in the Fit Livin' Diet.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are usually liquid at room temperature and come from nut, vegetable, or seed sources. Polyunsaturated sources like margarine or vegetable shortening are solid because they have been hydrogenated, a process that changes the chemical structure that hardens the fat. The fat is then considered Trans-fatty acids. Trans-fats are also linked to elevated cholesterol levels and are just as harmful as saturated fats to your hearts health. Manufacturers are required to lists Trans-fats on the food label so keep your eye out and keep your intake to zero trans-fats on a daily basis. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are considered "healthy fats" with the exception of those that have been hydrogenated and contain trans-fatty acids.
The healthy fats can be further broken down into essential fats. The most important of the essentials are the Omega-3 fatty acids. The Omega-3 fatty acids include Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found highest in flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) & docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are also Omega-3 fatty acids and are found virtually in fish only. American's intake of Omega-3 fatty acids is miserably low. Evidence is showing that low intake alters fatty acid metabolism, instead of burning fat we hold on to it. Omega-3 fatty acids are strongly linked to good health and management of many disease states. Omega-3 fatty acids have a strong anti-inflammatory influence in the body and help to manage problems that are a result of chronic inflammation such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
We recommend that you aim for 8 ounces of fish weekly and a serving the size of 1-2 thumbs of nuts or seeds daily to gain the health benefits of these fats. If you don't like fish or nuts or have an allergy then try a supplemental dose of 1000 mg/day of a combination of EPA, DHA and ALA Fish oil.