The Truth About Fat

11 Sep 2015

With all the health information available on the internet, one thing that many people struggle with the most is fat. Trust me, I totally understand why it’s confusing! Not only are there so many different types of fats, and ways to describe fat, but then there’s also the fat on our bodies that we usually are trying to lose. You might think that in order to lose fat, you shouldn’t eat fat, but that’s actually not the case at all.  To help you all navigate all this fat information, I’m going to break it down for you as simply as I can. Here is the truth about fat:

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Which fats are good for you? 

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These long words are simply a description of the chemical structure, and shouldn’t worry you too much. All you need to know is that these are the fats that are essential for your body to function properly (and by essential, I mean you need to eat them in your diet!)

Monounsaturated fats are your oils, nuts, olives and avocado. Aka everything delicious. Polyunsaturated fats are in fish (like salmon and tuna), seeds and soy / tofu.

How much of the good fats should you eat? 

Aim for 25% of your plate. For example, add 1/4 avocado to your breakfast, use a tablespoon of olive oil and/or a handful of nuts or seeds in your salad at lunch, and eat a piece of fish or some grilled tofu for dinner!

Which fats are bad for you? 

Saturated and trans fats should be avoided as much as possible! Trans fat is pretty easy to avoid since the FDA recently banned trans fats. Before the ban though, they were commonly found in packaged desserts like brownie mixes, margarine sticks, candy bars and fried foods. Thankfully, trans fat is on its way out for good, because the chemical structure was originally created (not naturally occurring) to stay solid, so it even stays solid in arteries! Eating trans fat is literally a heart attack waiting to happen.

Saturated fat is more difficult to avoid, since it is found in many delicious things. Meat like beef, lamb and pork are very high in saturated fat, so if you’re a meat eater, try to limit your intake to once or twice a week. Saturated fat is also the primary fat in cheese, milk, ice cream, chicken skin, and butter. Notice that the bad fats are mostly found in solid forms and in indulgent foods.

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How much saturated fat is okay to eat? 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that a healthy diet should have less than 7% saturated fat per day. For a 2,000 calorie/day diet, 7% is one ounce of cheese (which is actually very small), 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 glass of whole milk or 1 small order of french fries.

A trick for eating a mostly healthy diet while still being able to enjoy this 7% is to decide which of these saturated fats are most important to you! I personally don’t drink milk, so that’s not a factor for me, but if you love milk, switch to skim milk! Cheese is my weakness, so I don’t keep it around the house and I only eat it on special occasions (because let’s face it, there’s no way I’m stopping at one ounce). Learn to make one of my healthy ice cream recipes (the green tea ice cream pictured above is my favorite). Cook with olive oil instead of butter, and spread avocado on your toast instead of butter (this will change your life).

I hope all this information helps clear up any confusion about eating fat! Save this infographic to your phone and share it with your friends to help you figure out how much fat you should be eating.

xo Nikki

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