Scientific studies have demonstrated that a high consumption of fat contributes to overweight and obesity. This is not surprising given that a gram of fat has almost twice the calories as are found in the same amount of carbohydrate or protein.
If you have set personal goals for the remainder of the summer that include losing weight or eating healthy, you should include limiting your total fat intake in your plan.
One gram of fat has about 9 calories, while a gram of carbohydrate or protein has approximately 4 calories.
Are there other reasons to lower fat intake?
Yes, many. The Cleveland Clinic gives 2 essential ones:
- Dietary fat can increase blood cholesterol levels, which in turn can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
- Some fatty foods like bacon, sausage and french fries have fewer vitamins and minerals than foods lower in fat, and therefore don't contribute much to essential dietary needs.
That said, it is important to know that fat is an essential component of a balanced diet. The body needs fat, together with carbohydrates and protein, for energy. Fat should not be eliminated from your diet, but kept at about 30% of your daily intake of calories.
Saturated fat is a specific type of fat that, through scientific research, has been associated with increasing LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and contributing to certain types of heart disease. Examples of foods containing a significant amount of saturated fat include: butter, ghee, suet, tallow, lard, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, and palm kernel oil, dairy products(especially creamand cheese), meat, chocolate, and some prepared foods.
The the following are tips you can follow to help lower your intake of saturated fats:
- Eat at least 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more fish and chicken. Substitute ground turkey or chicken for ground beef. Remove the skin from chicken before cooking.
- Eat lean cuts of beef and pork, and trim as much visible fat as possible before cooking.
- Bake, broil, or grill meats; avoid frying.
- Avoid breaded meats and vegetables.
- Use fat-free or reduced-fat milk instead of whole milk. Instead of sour cream, try nonfat plain yogurt or a blend of yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese. Use low-fat cheeses.
- In recipes, use two egg whites instead of one whole egg.
- Avoid cream and cheese sauces, or make recipes with low-fat milk and cheese.
- Instead of chips, snack on pretzels or unbuttered popcorn.
- Limit hydrogenated fats (shortening, lard) and animal fats (butter, cream) if you can. Use liquid oils, particularly canola, olive, safflower, or sunflower.
- Read the nutrition labels on all products. Many "fat-free" products are very high in carbohydrates, which can raise your triglyceride levels.
- Compare the fat content of similar products. Do not be misled by terms like "light" and "lite." These terms often have no scientific basis whatsoever.
- Try cooking with herbs, spices, lemon juice, etc., instead of butter or margarine.
To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you eat. You can reach this goal by exercising and eating less fat and calories. Adult diets should get no more than 20 to 35% of their total calories from fat. That's approximately 44 to 77 grams of fat or less a day if you have a diet based on 2000 daily calories.
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