Is The Fat In a Diet Really Bad For You

- | 74 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Health & Wellness

I’m sure most of you associate the fat in a diet with the reason behind a person being fat. But is that really true?

I know it’s not, but what about you.

You might think how can fat in a diet be good, or why should you even include fat in your diet.

Is fat in a diet really the culprit that you should decide to abandon it altogether?

People nowadays have become more health conscious and are careful about their fat intake. That’s because they want to live a healthy lifestyle, which is good.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the fat in a diet is a very important factor that you cannot neglect. And to say that you shouldn’t be eating any fat at all, or remain on a low-fat diet would be wrong too.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

I’ve noticed that as my daughters are growing up, they are becoming more health conscious. I’m happy to see this positive change in them.

However, I’m also worried because they feel that if they have any kind of fat food, they will put on weight – which is just not the case!

This post is for my children and for those who feel that fat in a diet is bad for health. I hope to clear all misconceptions and convince you that fat in your diet does not necessarily make you fat.

Let’s start by learning a little about fats. I won’t go into too many scientific facts but simply mention a few things, so that you have a basic understanding about fats.

What are Fats

Simply put, fats in your body are vital nutrients. Your body needs them for daily functioning and to remain healthy.

Dietary fat is found in foods from plants and animals. It’s one of the three macro-nutrients along with protein and carbohydrates that provides energy for your body.

The dietary fat is a source of energy and supplies essential fatty acids for growth, proper functioning of the body, nerves and the brain. It’s useful for giving you a healthy skin too.

Fats are like store houses of energy and food. Thus, the fat in your diet is actually a good source of energy, and you need them for development and survival.

Not to mention their role in the transportation of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E, and K through the bloodstream to where they are needed.

These fats help you feeling full. However, it’s true that too much fat in a diet does lead to weight gain because eating more fats leads to eating more calories.

Being the most calories dense food source of energy, fats contain 9 calorie per gram, while carbohydrates or protein each contain only 4 per gram.

One misconception among people is that they tend to take cholesterol for fat. As a matter of fact, cholesterol is not fat, but a fat-like substance that is also needed for your body.

However, excess of cholesterol can lead to heart problems. It’s recommended that you consume not more than 300 mg of cholesterol daily. Are you taking only that much?

A lot more can be written about the dietary guidelines one needs to follow, but let’s stick to the basics here.

By now I’m sure you understand that both fat and cholesterol are essential for proper functioning and growth of your body, but only their excess intake might be harmful.

Recommended Fat In a Diet

The amount of fat your body needs depends on your age, weight, lifestyle, and the state of your health. For an average person, the food experts recommend –

  • To keep the total fat intake to 30% of your total calorie intake (about 66 grams for a 2000 calorie diet).
  • Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams daily for a 2000 calorie diet)
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 grams for a 2000 calorie diet)

Quick tip – To quickly calculate your fat gram allowance, drop the last digit of your calorie intake and divide by 3. For example – 1,800 calorie diet = 180 ÷ 3 = less than 60 grams of fat.

Remember, more than just the amount of fat, it’s the kind of fat you eat that really matters.

Different Types of Fats – Facts You Should Know

There are various kinds of fats and I’m sure you’ve all heard about them. But let me explain briefly for those who don’t know about them.

The two main kinds of fats are the “good” fats that lower the risk of diseases, and the “bad” fats that increase disease risk.

To simplify things for you, let me tell you a little about these fats and what foods mainly come in each type.

Good Fats – Love Them!

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are called the “good fats” as they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and overall health.

Studies indicate that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of heart diseases.

a bowl containing all good fat nuts

Similarly, eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels and also may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

I must mention here that omega-3 fats are also good fats that are essential to your physical and emotional health. They are type of polyunsaturated fats.

Some benefits of omega-3 include that they prevent and reduce the symptoms of depression, lessen the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. They ease join pain, arthritis, and inflammatory skin conditions.

They also support a healthy pregnancy, and protect against dementia and memory loss. So, all the more reason to make omega-3 a part of your daily diet – isn’t it?

As your body can’t make this essential fatty acid, so you can only get it from food. More on this later.

These good or healthy fats help to manage your moods, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.

Sources of Monounsaturated Fats

• Olive oil
• Canola oil
• Sunflower oil
• Peanut oil
• Sesame oil
• Olives
• Avocados
• Peanut butter
• Nuts like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and cashews

Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats

• Corn oil
• Soybean oil
• Safflower oil
• Soy milk
• Walnuts
• Tofu
• Sesame
• Sunflower
• Pumpkin
• Flax seed
• Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, and trout

Tell me, how many of these sources of food do you really eat? Are you trying to avoid these too? If yes, then you better stop doing that.

Bad Fats – Don’t Love Them Much!

Saturated fats and Trans fat are called the “bad fats” as they elevate cholesterol and increase your diseases risk. Saturated fat comes mainly from animal sources of food.

It increases total blood cholesterol levels, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels that increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and may increase type 2 diabetes.

A stuffed burger

One way to make out these bad fats from the good ones is that appearance-wise, Trans fats and saturated fats tend to solidify at room temperature – like butter or margarine.

On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats remain in their liquid state, as in most of the oils mentioned in the earlier section.

It’s these bad fats that are responsible for weight gain, and not to mention how people then try unhealthy ways to lose weight!

Here are the sources of bad fat.

Sources of Saturated Fats

• Lard
• Butter
• Cheese – mainly hard cheese
• Ice cream
• Coconut and palm oil
• Whole-fat dairy products like milk and cream
• Chicken with its skin on
• High-fat cut of meat, like beef, pork, and lamb

Sources of Trans Fats

• Margarine
• Candy bars
• Hamburger buns
• Vegetable shortening
• Snack foods like corn, potato, tortilla chips
• Packaged snack food like chips, crackers, microwave popcorns
• Commercially baked cookies, pastries, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, doughnuts
• Fried foods like French fries, breaded fish, friend chicken, chicken nuggets, hard taco shells
• Pre-mixed products like cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix

Well, now I might be on the verge of making you guilty, am I? Do you eat of lot of this kind of fatty food?

If you do, then the answer to leading a healthy lifestyle lies in making healthy food choices and replacing the bad fats with the good ones.

The key is not to avoid fat in your diet altogether, but to eat more of good fats and less of bad fats.

Food containing fat often contain a mixture of the saturated and unsaturated fats. Food labels mention the amount of each type of fat in the food, or the amount of saturated fat in the food.

Food labels also mention how many calories are there in the food. I love checking up on this whenever I shop. So, if you get into the habit of reading food labels too – it would do you good.

Quick Tip – Aim to limit your intake of saturated fats, and when you use fats and oils, choose the ones high in unsaturated fats. Always check the labels!

Changes You Can Make to Include Good Fat In a Diet

Let me share some tips and ways to consume more of the good fats, instead of the bad fats. I know a lot more ways can be added to this list – so do share your tips in the comments.

Sliced avocado fruit

1- Limit your intake of saturated fats by replacing French fries with nuts, or using oil in place of butter. Or replace red meat with poultry and fish. Also, use low-fat milk instead of whole milk and full-fat dairy products.

Some tips to reduce saturated fats –

  • Bake, boil, broil, steam, and grill, instead of frying. I’ve tried these ways and they taste just as good. It’s just a matter of getting used to them.
  • Choose lean cuts of meats and stick to white meat as that has less saturated fat. Eat less of red meat and more of fish, chicken and turkey.
  • Before cooking chicken, remove the skin from the chicken and trim off as much fat as possible.
  • Avoid cream and cheese sauces, or serve them less often. I prefer using yogurt dips instead.
  • If you like cheese, opt for low-fat cheeses like mozzarella. I opt for the fresh home-made cheese instead.
  • Use more of oil and less of lard, butter, or shortening. I always use the ‘good’ oil for cooking.
  • If you love eggs, choose the egg whites, or its substitute, or tofu.
  • In place of sour cream, choose plain, non-fat yogurt. And in place of cream, choose fat-free creamer, of low-fat milk.
  • You can even replace ice-cream with frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream. I’m glad I make most of the ice-creams at home, and when kids want to eat out, we let them have anything, as it’s once in a while. 🙂

2- Make sure to have omega-3 daily and some good sources are walnuts, ground flax seeds  fish, and oils like canola, soybean, and flax seed  If you are a vegetarian, you can get your omega-3 by eating algae, which is high in DHA, or take fish oil, or supplements.

I prefer using grounded flax seed and more of canola and soybean oil at home – and am really glad I do!

3- Cook with olive oil rather than butter or lard. For baking, try canola or vegetable oil.

4- Try eating more avocados, and include them in your salads or sandwiches. They are loaded with brain and heart-healthy fats, and give you a full feeling.

5- Make your own salad dressings and avoid the commercial ones as they are often high in saturated fats or made with Trans fat oils. You can use sesame or flax seed oil to create your own healthy salad dressing. I prefer sticking to fresh lemon juice with a few spices for my salads at home.

“Foods high in bad fats, sugar and chemicals are directly linked to many negative emotions, whereas whole, natural foods rich in nutrients – foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes – contribute to greater energy and positive emotions.” ~ Marilu Henner

Tips to Avoid Bad Fat In A Diet

If you find it difficult to find the good fat substitutes, at least you can avoid the bad fats in your food, which will only harm you in the long run.

1- Try to remove trans fat from your diet by checking the food labels while you shop. Watch out for “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients. Even if the food claims its fat free, this ingredient should alert you.

2- Limit eating out and having all kinds of fast food Remember, most places reuse the oil that isn’t the good one. Sometimes even if eating joints say its cholesterol or fat free, it might not be.

We do eat out but it’s very rare. I think everything in moderation is good. More so, I don’t want to ban the kids from eating fast food as they love it! But am glad we eat less of it as a family.

Do you know more tips to avoid bad fat in a diet? Then please do share with all readers!

How convinced are you after reading this post? In any case, do watch this video if you really are health conscious.

Lynn Goldstein ~ Good Fats vs. Bad Fats ~ You Tube Video

Speaking of myself, I keep trying out various healthy ways to include the good fats in the food that I make. More so, if you are careful to let go of the bad fat in your diet, you tend to remain healthy always.

Remember, fat in a diet isn’t bad – it’s choosing the right type of fat that really matters. You need a well-balanced diet to live a healthy lifestyle, and fat is definitely a part of that balance.

Over to you

Are you careful about the kind of fat you eat in your diet, or do you tend to ignore this fact? According to you, what should be the ideal fat in a diet, and are you following it? Share your thoughts below.

 

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos



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74 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Lee

    February 2, 2014 at 2:20 am

    A simply way to avoid trans fats and saturated fats is to stay away from processed foods. I love to eat whole grains and foods high in protein like fish, chicken, nuts and other veggies. We should all know that there are good fats in which we should consume and avoid the bad ones so thanks for informing us on that matter.

  2. Ashley F

    November 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Harleena

    A topic right up my alley.

    I quickly did a search and found the word “sugar” only once on this page, including comments. I know the post is about fat, but no one ever talks about sugar.

    Fat rarely makes people fat, and as you pointed out, we need them.
    Fat was used by the food and sugar industry to give something for people to blame for their weight. Something for them to avoid, instead of sugar – which is predominantly what is making people fat.
    Low fat yoghurt, milk, whatever you will, is always touted as the best option. Complete nonsense.

    I am luckily (or maybe because of my diet and sports) quite thin. But when I decided to lose a little weight, I read widely on the subject.
    You lose weight by avoiding sugar and carbohydrates (because they are the most easily absorbed by the body). These things turn to fat and are stored in your body when not used – ie. too many calories (sugary drinks, fast food, bread, pasta, and so on) leads to excess fat stored.

    I eat loads of various fats, vegetables, little sugar, few carbs (mostly slow carbs like heavy breads or beans). And do exercise. I have zero health problems or fat.

    It is funny to see the sugar and fast food culture make its way into the countries I have lived in (Australia, now Switzerland) and the number of overweight people rise with it. It is a clear link.

    Low fat is the biggest con of the last century! Just eat fresh. Eat well, eat variety. And do some exercise. Walk to the store. Don’t drive. I ride my bicycle everywhere!

    thanks for highlighting this to the unknowing public
    ashley

  3. Ashi

    July 30, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Hi Harleena Mam.

    Thanks for the lovely share about the fat and diet. Well I have lean body and hit gym on the regular basis.

    But I would like to suggest this post the my friend. She works in Financial department in a company and she is worried about the weight.
    She used to be like a fit girl but for past few months she started to gain weight.
    It is important to stay healthy and stay fit.

    Thanks for the update once again. Have a great weekend ahead
    Regards 🙂

  4. Leona Smith

    June 25, 2013 at 10:43 am

    We should eat only those healthy foods but let us not forget that Cholesterol is also important in our body cause it’s also aids in the manufacture of bile (which is stored in the gallbladder and helps digest fats), and is also important for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K.

    • Lee

      February 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I guess some cholesterol if it helps to digestive system as long as you don’t consume too much. As longs as we stay away from the bad fats, trans and saturated, we should be good to go.

  5. Charmie

    June 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Hello ma’am,

    Well to be frank I never prefer getting so health conscious especially when it comes to eating. This articles throws light and removes many myths which generally are found with girls. According to me fats are an essential element which are necessary for your body’s elastic working. Fats can store larger amount of energy which helps us out during our hard work. But fats are not advisable to those who do not have to do so hard physical work. Because fats are very hard to digest I do not advice people those who just have to sit and do their work like we bloggers. 😛
    Indeed an informative article. 🙂

    Charmie

  6. Matthew Denos

    May 17, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Every dieter should read this article as it clarifies the misconception about fats.

    I get my MUFAs and PUFAs from almost all sources you mentioned

    – Olive oil
    – Sesame oil
    – Olives
    – Avocados
    – Peanut butter
    – Nuts like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and cashews

    My favorite is “tahini”. This is a paste made from ground sesame seeds.

    • Harleena Singh

      May 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Matthew,

      Nice to know that you could resonate with the post 🙂

      Being from the health niche – you surely are doing very well for yourself, and I’m glad that you are already taking care of the good and bad fat in a diet as mentioned in the post. I’v heard of ‘Tahini’, though never tried it out. Must be tasting good.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views with us 🙂

  7. Brown Williams

    May 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    I am continuing to enjoy your post everyday. You have actually hit a raw nerve with this post. Many are times I have had a misconception about fat. I can go on a weight losing mission by cutting out the amount of fat intake and thorough exercise. I have gone through this post and realized that I have been wrong in one way or another. I have also learned that there are good fats and bad fats. Thank you for adding a chunk of information to my brain and I am more conscious about my health now than I used to be.

    • Harleena Singh

      May 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Welcome to the blog Brown!

      Nice to know that you are enjoying my posts 🙂

      Ah…you aren’t alone where your misconceptions are concerned, because most of us have had those at one time or the other. We do lose weight when we reduce the amount of bad fat in a diet, but not be totally cutting it off from our diet. That would harm us in the long run.

      Oh yes…there are good fats and bad fats, and the good need to be eaten also to remain healthy, while the bad we need to cut off or reduce in our diet.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Mayura

    May 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Oh gosh… Misconceptions!

    Your post reminds me of my cousins 🙂 Can you imagine a girl eating only a banana for breakfast and lunch, and very little food for dinner? Sometimes girlies keeps my eye-browses up with their daily dietary habits. I feel like it’s more of a trend nowadays. Was it same at your time too Harleena?

    Now this is a very good education as I only know how to eat 😀 lol…

    To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention on what’s in my diet and what’s my metabolism rate and all that. But your health posts get me thinking.

    If I’m out of home, I’m exposed to more of bad fats Harleena. Actually fried foods and sweets. At home I’m eating foods with good fats? No, not much. But limit the intake of bad fats. I’m glad I’m at home all day after reading all about fats 🙂

    Now I’ll have to read labels and check for “partially hydrogenated oil” and others suggested in the video 😉 Until now I was checking for “Sodium Laureth Sulfate” in the lables of shampoo products.

    Thank you for your wonderful tips on being healthy and indeed the video is convincing too Harleena 🙂

    You have a healthy and wealthy weekend dear 🙂

    Cheers…

    • Harleena Singh

      May 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Mayura,

      Gosh! Just one banana for breakfast and lunch! Wonder how did she survive, or did she fall ill? Yes, girls are more conscious of their body image and weight nowadays, and tend to keep trying anything and everything to lose or maintain weight. But soon they fall ill and realize their mistake.

      Oh no…I was never that kinds and my parents never allowed us to even skip any meal, nor do I let my kids get away with such diets! I’m always after them to eat right and ensure they do it too – even though they are grown up enough to decide on their own. 🙂

      Glad my health posts make you re-think to eat healthy, Mayura, because health IS wealth, and if you are healthy, you’ll notice a change in your life too. I can understand what you meant by eating bad fats when on the move, and sometimes when we travel, we also have to make do with what’s readily available. But we now carry our home-cooked food with us, or choose fruits instead of fat foods outside.

      If you limit your intake of bad fats that’s alright too, but gradually try reducing it further, though increase your intake of good fats.

      I like that 🙂 Yes, check for the food labels too, instead of the ones on shampoos 🙂

      Glad you liked the video. I think the lady covered up everything very well within a short period of time.

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing your thoughts to the post. Have a healthy weekend too. 🙂

  9. Dee Ann Rice

    May 3, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Harleena,

    I always thought that fats were bad for you. Over time though I figured out that they are not bad for you and our bodies actually need fat. As you pointed out it needs to be good fat though.

    I have high cholesterol so I have done some experiments to see how I can get my cholesterol down naturally.

    The first thing I did was cut all fat out of my diet and my cholesterol went way up. I figured out if you do not eat fat the liver produces more cholesterol.

    Recently I have been eating Coconut oil and my good cholesterol has gone up a lot but so has the overall.

    I like your post. Very informative.

    Dee Ann

    • Harleena Singh

      May 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Dee Ann – nice to see you after a long time 🙂

      You’re certainly not alone to think that ways, as most people hear the word ‘fat’ and just try avoiding it. But we do need it, just as I mentioned in the post, though the secret lies in knowing which fat in a diet you should or shouldn’t eat.

      With cholesterol you will have to be all the more careful, but am sure you must’ve taken the right measures to get it down. Ah…that’s news to me that if you cut off fats totally, your cholesterol rises! How would anyone know that now, unless you are going through all that you went through – isn’t it?

      Coconut oil is proven to reduce cholesterol levels, though not everyone takes a liking to it. But it’s any day a better and healthier alternative than taking medicines.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to the post 🙂




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Is The Fat In a Diet Really Bad For You

by Harleena Singh time to read: 9 min